House Shopping – Make a Decision Already

I have been house shopping. After five years of living in the same apartment that I moved to when I got divorced, I decided it was time to own something of my own. I am super self conscious about money as I have been following a Dave Ramsey-ish style of getting out of debt and operating on a completely cash system.

In my apartment, I live just outside of my kids school zone (in the same school district – but at my apartment they would end up having to go to their rival school and that certainly was not going to fly). So, I have been driving them back and forth for five years. It is just about 15 minutes each way. Which doesn’t seem like much until you do it 8 times in a matter of a couple hours (football, cheer, school, etc).My ex and I had actually made a commitment to keep the kids in the same school. So while we were sending them into upheaval by divorcing at least their daily life and friend group would not change.

I contacted a friend who is a loan originator she prequalified me for what I could afford based on two things one is my salary but the other was what I really could/wanted to pay each month. Then I reached out to a friend who is a realtor. She put me on a list where I was sent an email whenever a house went on the market that was in my area and in my price range. BUT the area I was looking at is one of the more expensive areas in town. I had been looking now for several months with only a handful of houses even available in my price range in that area. It’s been eight months and I’ve looked at just four or five houses!

I had actually even put in a bid on another house – I put the bid at the full asking price. I was outbid! They had multiple offers and the house went for well over asking price. Needless to say I was getting a bit frustrated and starting to think if I was going to buy I would have to go outside of the “zone” and still drive in circles. It is only a couple years until both of my kids can drive. But I was not on red-alert yet as my lease at my apartment would go through February. I had some time to shop.

We went to see a HUD home. It was in a super location and needs some updating. My realtor warned me that if the other house that I had put a bid in on was bid up this one was likely to as well. I told her to go ahead and put in a bid at the top of my finance level. She did.

With little hope that I would get the HUD house we continued to look. There was one other place that was listed ABOVE what I had put in as my top level of affordability. But the listing had an allowance for kitchen update in the listing. The house was in a good location a bit further from the kids school but certainly within easy driving distance (less than 5 minutes). It didn’t look like it would need as much updating as the HUD home. So I asked Kim (my realtor) to put in a bid significantly lower than their asking price (and take out the allowance so that I could get the house for cheaper), but it was a bit higher than I wanted to spend (but still do-able). They came back with a counter bid. (Which Kim had warned me they might). I went round and round in my head that day. What should I do? I asked Kim to buy me some time to think on it (at least a day or so) as it would put me OVER where I wanted to be money-wise AND I would need to do some updates but it was a nice house all except the 70s kitchen.

The next morning I got a call from Kim. I ignored it. I was not sure I was ready to tell her to go with this house being OVER my budget. But – I had been looking for eight months now and not seeing many in my price range. Should I jump on this one? I didn’t want to answer yet. I was not sure I was ready to pull the trigger on it. But her message was…YOU won the HUD bid. That house is yours if you want it.

So, now I’ve started the paperwork. I’ve started making a list of all the projects I want/need to do. I have driven the kids by it. I can’t wait until we move. I’m excited to be a homeowner and put to use my current obsession with HGTV and DIY networks shows.

Denver Deal: National Parks, IHOP, Sonic and more

I recently made the observation that my life really doesn’t get easier when kids go back to school. As matter of fact, it sort of becomes more complicated as we do the dance between three different schedules (and only one car and driver). I do feel like I am the one who went back to school in some ways. Does anyone else feel that way?

National Parks. Tuesday, August 25th is the National Parks Services’ Birthday and they want you to celebrate! Admission to the National Parks will be FREE that day! Visit one of the great national parks right here in Colorado – Great Sand Dunes, Rocky Mountain National Park, Black Canyon of the Gunnison, Mesa Verde and more! (Plus, don’t forget earlier this year they announced FREE admission to 4th graders

IHOP. IHOP is offering a short stack of pancakes for just $1 on Tuesday, August 25 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.! No Kid Hungry will benefit too because IHOP will give them 50 cents for every short stack sold (which will give one kid five meals).

Sonic. Thursday, August 27th Sonic celebrates the end of summer with 50 cent corn dogs all day with no limit.

Arbys. Arby’s is opening their newest location in Littleton (Mineral and Broadway) with Grand Opening festivities on Tuesday, August 25th from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.  including the prize wheel, meet Miles (Broncos Mascot) and more.

Vail Resorts announced the company is reopening registration for its popular Epic SchoolKids program on Monday, Aug. 17, 2015. Epic SchoolKids Colorado Pack provides Colorado kindergarteners through fifth graders with four days of free skiing and riding at each of the best resorts in their backyard – Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge and Keystone. In addition to 16 free days of skiing and riding, Epic SchoolKids also get the opportunity to hone their skills at the ivy league of ski schools with a free full-day beginner lesson and equipment rental in the month of January, outside of holiday periods, as part of Learn to Ski & Ride Month.
The Urban Farm Co. just launched an Eat Your Yard Campaign. For a few months, they are offering almost 50% off all their garden installations! They’re also offering a customer referral program so you can invite your friends and earn credit. How It Works: 1. You choose what size garden you want. 2. You pick your optional “add-on’s.” 3. You refer your friends who might be interested. For every friend who also gets a garden, you get a $25 Urban Farm Co. credit on any future services or gardens. 4. They come to your house and install the garden (you don’t have to be home). 5. They give you all the help you need to learn how to be a successful organic gardener in two minutes per day.The Urban Farm Co. crafts beautiful customized vegetable gardens and teach you how to grow your own nutrient-dense food right in your backyard. 

Free Pizza. If you live in Arvada, Pepronis, a new fresh pizza delivery service, is offering a deal that can’t be beat: first-time customers get their first pizza free. Mention Mile High Mamas and they’ll throw in a free large garden salad (valid only during this promotion). Go to pepronis.com to see if you’re in their delivery area.

Dry Cleaning Goes Green for $1.99. The new Aurora store $1.99 Any Garment is bringing a new concept to Colorado in the first of several planned locations. The company does not use harsh dry-cleaning chemicals, nor does it charge higher prices for garments based on size or complexity. Every garment, from a pair of slacks to a suit jacket or even a wedding gown costs the same $1.99 price per garment to clean. It’s a pricing model based on volume and is a welcome addition to the Denver-area market.

Get Organized. Do you feel like you can never keep your house clean? Do your possessions seem to multiply no matter how much you get rid of? Do you feel doomed to keep cleaning and tidying the same spaces over and over? Join Melissa’s Eats and Treats in the “Transform Your Home, Transform Your Life Challenge” where they will tidy once and for all, the right way,  and never have to do it again! They will employ the revolutionary KonMari method outlined in the book, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.” The creator of this system makes the amazing claim that nobody who completes her program ever reverts to clutter and untidiness again! Click on the link to sign up. http://icecreaminspiration.com/welcome-to-the-transform-your-home-transform-you-life-challenge/

Kids Consignment Sale Season. Mile High Mamas has published our guide to Children’s Consignment Sales this fall where you’ll get bargains on kids’ clothing for newborn-preteen, toys, strollers, furniture, baby equipment, books, shoes, maternity items and more. This week’s sale:  Just Between Friends or Aurora and Longmont and Rhea Lana.

KrispyKreme Frozen Friday. Get a $1 off a frozen latte or chiller at KrispyKreme each Friday in August (any size).

Chick-Fil-A. Get a free frozen lemonade at Chick-fil-A on Wednesdays through August from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m

Children’s Hospital Free Infant Car Seat. For those of you who may be in the market for an infant car seat and stroller, the Children’s Hospital Colorado Safety Store is offering a great deal. During the month of August, if you purchase a BOB Revolution SE jogging stroller and infant car seat adapter, you will receive a FREE BOB B-Safe infant car seat. Supplies are limited, so please visit the store (located at the Highlands Ranch campus) soon if you are interested in this offer.

Ongoing

Free Outdoors Movies and Concerts. Denver is chock-full of great, talented musicians that play around town for free – and what is better than a movie outdoors on a cool summer night among about 500 of your closest friends? Don’t miss our round-up of free outdoor movies and concerts this summer.

Free Denver Walking Tours Denver parents, kiddos, and visitors alike will be able to see and experience downtown Denver in a new way. They’ll be able to take advantage of Denver Free Walking Tours’ new two hour daily tours that leave at 10 a.m. daily, starting in Civic Center Park, then wind through downtown past more than a dozen of Denver’s distinctive landmarks, and end in front of Coors Field. No reservations needed and tours are every day – rain, snow, or shine.  There’s no up-front cost for this fun, educational opportunity for kids and parents but tipping is strongly recommended. If you’d like a tour specifically geared to your kids, Denver Walking Tours offers group tours for a nominal charge so grab your friends for a fun day of learning this summer!

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Email me if you know of any great Denver deals!

If you’re on Twitter follow me on Twitter (GeeWhy93).  If I find a great deal during the week, I’ll tweet it out.

Kids Eat Free Mile High Mamas has rounded up a huge listing of local restaurants where kids eat free or for a discount with a paying adult.

Bored On A Budget

I am a product of parents who didn’t always have much money and I am almost always living paycheck to paycheck (I get paid commission – so I have to manage my money). We were never at a loss for things to do. I am not certain if it is because of where we live or just how my parents are. We live in Colorado so there is always a hike to take which is free or we could go fishing – which could take all day but cost nothing more than the pole and bait or just go on a four-wheel drive costing only the gas.

So it sort of irritates me when I’m hanging out with friends and someone implies that he is bored because he is on a budget. Don’t get me wrong there are plenty of things to do in Denver that cost money. And don’t think that snowboarding is cheap. (although I have figured out how to make it less expensive – I’ll tell you in another post). I’ve created a little list of things that you could do that don’t cost [much].

  1. Go on a hike. There are tons of great trails all around our city and state.
  2. Go to a free outdoor concert. Almost every corner of Denver has a free concert with great local bands through the summer.
  3. Go to a free outdoor movie. The same thing as with the concerts – there are great movies that are free around town.
  4. Go to the Denver Bronco’s Training Camp (it’s like watching a free pro football game).
  5. Go to a Factory Tour. We’ve got Celestial Seasonings, Hammond’s and Coors right here!
  6. Go to one of the Many Free Museums. Check out SCFD.org to get some ideas. Here are some of our favorites: U.S. Mint, University of Colorado Museum, Aurora History Museum, School of Mines Geology Museum and now the Denver Art Museum let’s kids under 18 go free everyday (adults are free on the 1st Saturday of every month).
  7. Attend a Free Cooking Class. Whole Foods often has free classes. My kids and I went to the Cheese-making class and made our own mozzarella. It was delicious, fun and Free!
  8. Go to the Library. Yes, libraries are still relevant (in fact I love love love mine). There are lectures, classes, movies, story-time and more. Plus the plethora of books, movies, cd’s and more on loan.

So don’t say you’re bored because you are on a budget. All that means is you need to find something to do!