Archive for September, 2015

Home Selling 101: De-clutter

September 25, 2015

If you are planning on selling your home this fall now is the perfect time to de-clutter your home.  Here are a few savvy tips for de-cluttering your home.


  • A great way to get rid of things in your home that you no longer use or want is to invite your friends and family over to look through it. Your sister for instance may have had her eye on your collection of vases for a very long time and by letting her have them you may be creating a stronger bond with her all the while cleaning your house of items you no longer need.
  • Having a yard sale to de-clutter your home is always a good idea. Folks love to attend yard sales and many folks attend them on a regular basis. One suggestion, if you decide to de-clutter via yard sale, do not put prices on your items. Putting prices on your yard sale items is basically a waste of time. You can easily talk about a reasonable price with a customer once they have shown interest in an item. If you have the items priced many times the potential customer will not even let you know they are interested in purchasing the item because they think you have it priced too high.
  • Donating your household items to charity is a great way to not only get a tax benefit but to help people in need. If you want to go a step further in this process you can ask if you can hand out items for free to those who come in for help. You may be surprised at just how good it feels to help those less fortunate than yourself.
  • If you have some time on your hands and you don’t have to worry about getting your house on the market quickly, you can always sell your items on EBay. You may get more money this way but it can take a bit longer than the other ideas.

Hopefully this list of savvy tips for getting rid of your unwanted household items will help you on your way to a more streamlined home. Again, whether you are planning to stay in your home for a few more years or you are planning to put it on the market, cleaning things out is always a great feeling!

Information courtesy of Chicago Real Estate Expert Karen Breen Elia.


Financial Conversations You Should Have With Your Spouse

September 2, 2015

A colleague of mine at Fifth Third Bank shared an article with me titled, Financial Conversations You Should Have With Your Spouse. It is great information and tips on how to start a conversation with your spouse:


Forty-three percent of people don’t know how much their spouse earns. And that’s just one of the financial discussions that too many married couples keep to themselves — and that can set the stage for marital strife. To ensure you and your better half are on the same page about finances, use these tips to start the conversation.

1. Assess Financial Habits
First, look at how each of you currently spends your money. How much are you spending on the essentials (bills) and extras (entertainment)? You should also review last year’s expenses to get a full picture of where your money is going.

After looking at your current spending habits, discuss your short- and long-term financial goals, such as eliminating debt, saving for a home down payment or replacing a vehicle.

Once you’ve established your objectives, define specific strategies for accomplishing your goals. Do you need to cut back on eating out? Or maybe you need to spend less on your yearly vacation. Whatever you decide, make sure your plan of action is realistic, and fits your and your spouse’s financial situation.

2. Prepare for an Emergency
As one of your goals, talk about creating an emergency fund. Sixty-four percent of people in America wouldn’t be able to come up with $1,000 in an emergency.2 Don’t be part of this percentage. Plan how you’ll work together to prepare for the unexpected.

Even if paying down debt is a primary goal, plan to set aside some money every month for your emergency fund. After all, if you can pull from this fund, you won’t need to add to your credit bills in the case of an emergency. It’s recommended to have three to six months of your monthly expenses saved.

3. Prepare for a Crisis
Review your life insurance needs. You will want more than your employer’s standard one year of salary benefit. Assuming both spouses are working, you should consider purchasing term insurance between 5 to 10 times your annual income, more if you are in your thirties with young children or have large debt obligations (mortgage). Term insurance is affordable and can be purchased for 10, 20 or 30 years. Your Fifth Third advisor can get you quotes from 30+ different insurance firms.

4. Update Your Wills
Another essential discussion is how you want your assets distributed once you’re gone. In other words, it’s time to talk about your wills. Without this legal document, you could be leaving your spouse and/or children in a bind when you pass away. A will clearly establishes both of your financial wishes.

It’s a good idea to review your will at least every five years and whenever an important life event happens — like becoming parents or buying a home.

5. Revise Beneficiary Information
Along with your will, make sure you’ve named beneficiaries for your retirement accounts. Keep these names updated on the same schedule that you review your will. Similarly, revise as needed based on life events. For example, if you named your mother as a beneficiary and she has since passed away, make sure to update the information.

Karen Breen Elia


Karen Breen Elia & Louis M. Elia, REALTORS®, are brokers for homes, condos, and multi-unit properties on Chicago’s North Side.

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