L Bee and the Moneytree

First Time Homebuyer Q&A with Redfin Real Estate

first time homebuyer

This is NOT a sponsored post.

….But given that it is home ownership month, I wanted to get in a real expert (read, real estate agent) to answer your most pressing questions. I called upon former brand partner, Redfin, to field questions from readers.

Over one hundred of you responded (!!!) when I asked for questions, (home ownership is super tricky, I get it) and here are the questions I picked to be answered by Atlanta Redfin Agent, Adrian Smith.

Also- I get that this post is hella long, but it is PACKED (packed, I tell you!) with important information first time buyers need to know. Here are the questions, so feel free to read and skip ahead if you want 🙂

  • Are there options that will let me put less than 20% down?
  • Is it true you get approved for about 3x your salary?
  • What is the biggest mistake you see first time buyers making?
  • What if my parents are gifting me a downpayment?
  • What should I do to prepare for homeownership if I work for myself?
  • What are some things to look for in a home if I am buying for the first time?
  • What are some questions I need to ask my agent?


How Much Does a Home Renovation Cost?

how much a home renovation costs

*some of the photos below are courtesy of Redfin

How much does a home renovation cost? A lot.

I’m kidding.

The answer of course depends on how much work you do to the home, prices in your area, and how much of the work you do yourself (DIY) vs. hiring a contractor.

I can’t give you a definitive answer on how much a home renovation costs, BUT I can share with you my experience: how much I paid, what I got for the money, AND how much I’ve made on the home in the last three years since I purchased.

Intrigued? Let’s go deep.


What a Work Day Looks Like for a Pro-Blogger


Comcast Business partnered with bloggers such as me for this program. As part of this program, I received compensation for my time. They did not tell me what to purchase or what to say about any product mentioned in these posts. Comcast Business believes that consumers and bloggers are free to form their own opinions and share them in their own words. Comcast Business’ policies align with WOMMA Ethics Code, FTC guidelines and social media engagement recommendations.


I get far more questions about what I do for a living now that I work for myself full time as a freelance writer and blogger. Two of the biggest questions?

  • How do you earn money?
  • And what does a typical day for you look like?

Working for yourself has its pros and cons: I’m always challenged and busy learning new things, but sometimes I lack routine and structure. I’m lucky in that I get to chart out how I want to spend my time, and that with what I do every day looks different.

Although my workday might look a lot different than your typical 9-5 life, there’s one thing all aspects of my workday have in common: the need for internet. The only way I’m able to keep it all up and running is to have a reliable internet connection. I could not get any of the below tasks done without it (or without my partnership with Comcast Business!) They also offer a lot of online resources for entrepreneurs which I highly recommend you check out, here.  (more…)

What is 203k Home Renovation Loan? Is it Right for Me?

203k renovation loan

In 2013, at the age of 26, I bought my first home. Long time readers will know the successes and failures of this financial move, but the skinny is that I leveraged down payment assistance to get a great deal…the only downside was that it needed a lot of work.

Renovating my first home was a difficult process: I had a falling out with my contractor, and discussed my mistakes and home renovation money-related blunders in this post and this one, but I haven’t discussed where all of the money to completely renovate a home came from.

I’ve been meaning to do a post on the ins and outs of using a 203k renovation loan for years now, and home ownership month seemed the perfect time!

This post covers not only what the 203k renovation loan product is, but my own experiences with it and my advice for other first time home buyers who are considering it.


The Sexy New Online Income Report – $7,400 in April 2016

earned money blogging

ICYMI: Last week, I posted a very intimate, emotional piece about how I’ve struggled with focus since April of last year. And I got a lot of amazing, wonderfully kind and encouraging comments from folks.

…And more than a handful of emails about the graphic I posted on how I managed to increase my income just from blogging in such a short amount of time.

You guys gave me a lot of great ideas for posts, and I plan on covering more about affiliates and releasing digital products in the near future, but for the sake of transparency I wanted to delve into greater detail and do my first “real” income report.


How to Start Tracking Your Net Worth

tracking your net worth

If you’re like most people, you’ve probably put a lot of thought into how much you’re worth as a person: your values, your confidence level, and what your own personality is like.

If you’ve landed on this site, chances are you’re also thinking a bit about your own finances: your debts, what you can do better, and how to budget and save money.

…..But do you know your total net worth? It’s the most important financial number of all – even more important than your monthly salary, how much you owe, and how much house you can afford.

Why? because it combines all of the above, and it’s also the only way to tell if you’re actually going in the right direction with your finances.

Even if you think the number might be disappointing or scary, it’s important to know your net worth number. For those who have never attempted it before, below is a tutorial on how to calculate it.


4 Steps to Pay Down Debt and Prepare for Home Ownership

steps to pay down debt

It’s May! Yay!

Okay, enough with the rhyming- I apologize – I’ve been giddy lately.

But It’s also homeownership month on the site, which means all of the posts for the next few weeks will have a slight home ownership tone to them. I became a home owner 3 years ago and despite all of the home renovation drama, it’s been on the best financial decisions I’ve ever made (which I’ll share the details on in a post in just a few weeks!)

But before we can even begin shopping for a home and going over the ins and outs of the home buying process, we need to talk about what it takes to financially prepare for home ownership. With student loans and stagnant wages for millennials, it’s no longer realistic to say you need to be debt free in order to buy a home, but if you have a lot of it, paying down debt is an important thing to attempt before you buy a home.

Paying down debt has big home buying benefits: it raises your credit score, and frees up money in the budget for a mortgage payment and upkeep. Breathing room is always a good thing.


The Amazing Power of Doing Just One Thing


Featured image credit: Shelby Rae Photography.

Are you familiar with the show Parks and Recreation? (If not, have you been living under a rock?!)  Besides being one of the best television shows of all time, it’s also where I heard one of my favorite quotes.

In Season 4, Leslie is trying to work her day job while running an active campaign for city counsel. Spoiler alert: she’s dropping the ball on everything and creating a lot of chaos, which is why her boss and mentor Ron Swanson, tells her.

“Never half ass two things, whole ass one thing.”

The following personal essay is the story of how I decided to whole ass one thing in each aspect of my life that was failing.  (more…)

The Value of Having Reliable Vendors as a Solopreneur

Photo Courtesy of Stacey Bode Photography

The following post is another in the series of sponsored posts I’m doing with Comcast Small Business. Thank you for supporting the brands that support this blog!

On April 10th, I hit one year of solopreneurship. I made it! And honestly sometimes, I can’t believe it. I’ve already got a 3,000+ word post in the works for all the things I learned over the last year (similar to this post I wrote at the six month mark), but one of the most important things I learned is how crucial it is to have processes, tools, and service providers you can actually count on when running your own business.  (more…)

Why You Need an Emergency Fund First

Why You Need an Emergency Fund First

Given that it’s financial literacy month, now is as good a time as ever to talk about the steps you can implement to make big changes in your own finances.

Don’t fight me on this—the #1 thing you need (which is also the easiest to start!) is an emergency fund — or a little cash blanket to wrap around you in times of trouble.

First, let’s start off with the definition of what an emergency fund actually is.


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