Suddenly the house goes quiet, and you walk into a room to find your children beaming proudly at you over a carpet full of nail polish, or trying to hide a pet which has been mysteriously dyed bright green. What do you do, besides want to pretend you didn’t see it? Well, at BetterLife Home Loans we know how much you love your home, so we’ve compiled a list of how-to’s to help keep your carpets, wooden floors, walls (and pets) stain-free, no matter how artistic your children want to get.
Food colouring is a persistent stain. Hydrogen peroxide (tested on a less-visible area first, to ensure you don’t bleach the surface) can be applied to the stain, left for a few minutes, and then wiped with a clean towel. For stubborn stains, brushing the peroxide into the surface works well. Rinse using a cloth and water, then dry thoroughly. If it is on skin, let it fade naturally, or apply baby cream to the area.
A thick paste made from baking soda and water dissolves most kinds of grease (including tough pan grease). For wall drawings, dab some onto the stain before gently rubbing with a clean cloth, rinsing and wiping it dry. For wooden floors or furniture, a cloth and a few drops of mineral solvent will do the trick. Always test an inconspicuous area first before applying a cleaning agent, to ensure you don’t damage your house or furniture.
For clothes, scrape off excess paint then if possible, saturate the surface with isopropyl alcohol. Once this is done, scrape the area with a butter knife or your nails, then wash as usual.
Vaseline may be your best friend for a diaper rash, but certainly not for your child’s hair. Normal shampoo won’t do the trick if your toddler decides to style themselves a Mohawk. Pat baby powder or corn starch (Maizena) into their hair to absorb the jelly, then wash with warm water and shampoo. Otherwise, mix some baking soda into regular baby shampoo, then wash and rinse out.
Blot up the excess lacquer, then apply a small amount of acetone to stain and blot again. Repeat the process until the stain no longer responds. If it remains, apply a small amount of hydrogen peroxide, sponge with cold water and blot dry again.
If Prestik is stuck in your carpet, saturate the area with a citrus-based cleaning agent, leave it to dry and soften, then pick off. Use a cloth and cool water to rinse residue.
To gently remove ink, use a little bit of baby oil, or olive oil. Nail polish remover and rubbing alcohol work quickly, but are less gentle. Dab some onto a cotton ball and wipe the area, but be sure to avoid the eye and mouth areas if possible. If you’re removing ink from dog fur, wash your pup with a mix of warm water and dish soap, then rinse with warm water.
Of course, moving involves upending your physical life, but it shouldn’t have to completely upset you emotionally as well. You’ve finally found your new home – so here are some handy tips from us to make moving into it a little easier.
Ahead of the move:
As soon as you know what date you can move in, start making arrangements. If you’re using a moving company, book them as soon as possible, especially if you’re moving on a weekend.
- Call your local supermarket to find out what day they get their big deliveries, then arrange with the manager to keep some of their boxes for you. Do that as soon as possible, so you can pack up all the rarely used odds-and-ends ahead of time. That way, you’ll be able to not only minimize the amount of things you need to pack up in one go, but also figure out ahead of time if you need more boxes. Keep in mind that heavier items should be packed in smaller boxes, and items should be layered by weight: heavy at the bottom, and light at the top.
- That being said, try and make use of all the things you already have. Sheets and linen work very well in the place of newspaper or bubble wrap (for fragile items), and packing your belongings into travelling bags or suitcases will save you a few boxes, too.
- Lastly, find out what the dimensions of your new house are in relation to your furniture, and draw up a “furniture plan”, so your movers know where to put everything.
During the move:
- Invest in colourful stickers – one colour for each room of the house. Sticking a colour-coded mark on each box and a matching one on the door of the room it needs to go to can make the move a lot more organised (and keep the kids entertained, too, if you let them do the sticking).
- You can also code the boxes (e.g. A1, A2, etc.) and then make a separate inventory list with their contents, if you don’t want your movers knowing what’s in each box. Alternatively, just write the contents of each box directly on it with a thick, black pen.
- Pack one box to keep with you, with extras like light bulbs, toilet rolls, candles, screwdrivers, cellphone chargers, cash and important telephone numbers.
- Remember a “first-night” box for the whole family, too: a spare change of clothes, toothbrushes and other necessities, as well as an emergency kit of painkillers, flu medicine, plasters and so on. You never know who might need it, and you want it to be easily found.
- Bedding, blankets and cleaning products are also best kept in a spare box for immediate unpacking after the move.
With that, you should be all set for your big day. Best of luck, and enjoy your new home!
Marsala has been crowned as one of the most infamous Pantone Colours of the Year by the all-ruling democracy of The Internet. Happily, however, designers and decorators all over the world have pitted their wits against the colour, and displayed how beautiful and versatile it actually is. Below we’ve collected some of our favourite ideas on how to use this gorgeous, warm shade in your home.
Bounce off the walls
Don’t be afraid to get a little crazy with your wall colour – Marsala is just bright enough to keep things interesting, while offering enough depth to not “over-do it”. As you can see, it works stunningly well with gold accents, as well as wood and neutral colours, like shades of cream or brown.
Take the floor
A well-placed Marsala rug can add just the right pizazz to an empty-looking room. The sultry colour exudes winter warmth and naturally, a rug will keep a little bit more heat in your home by covering a tile floor.
Go through the roof
Every new generation of designers loves going against the rules of the previous one: painting a striking ceiling is the latest in-thing and the mark of true modernity. This ceiling is coupled with loads of white, cream and sand accents, as well as patterned wallpaper, which all combine to make the room feel spacious despite the “painted ceiling” taboo.
Part of the furniture
Ideas for Marsala furniture in your home range from couch covers to painting a signature bookshelf or cabinet this wine-red hue.
Pair it with lighter hues of cream, sand and camel for a lighter feel, or deepen it with a touch of chocolate brown for a more demure atmosphere.
Furniture in an interesting shade can add some colour without completely embodying the room. If you don’t want to take the plunge right away, try painting a small side table or cabinet first – you’ll be itching for more soon after.
A little here and a little there
A wonderful way to combine the colour into your décor without anything too permanent is to add touches of it to your existing layout.
Scatter cushions are king. Go crazy with different patterns and sizes to spice up a modern look, or opt for a lush Marsala throw-rug or two. You’ll be winter-comfy and stylish all in one go.
If you’re dreaming of a stylish new studio to re-do with Marsala, but the home you’re in isn’t providing any inspiration, try our home loan calculator, or speak to one of our friendly estate agents today.
Oxford Design studio
Housing costs account for at least 25% of most homeowners’ monthly expenditure, so it is definitely worth looking for ways to cut down on them and generate savings – without necessarily having to move. According to the experts, the best time to start this budget exercise is before you even move in by not choosing to buy a home that is more than you actually need. With the strict National Credit Act to consider, it is unlikely that your lender will allow you to buy more home than you can afford, but even that may be more than you really need.
Consider the size of the house you need, not the one you want
What you need to do first is think very carefully about how many bedrooms, bathrooms, and living rooms you and your family will require and use over the next five to seven years. Once that’s decided, you can then set out to find a compact (but not cramped) home that meets your specifications as closely as possible. Having unused rooms is like throwing money away, month after month, in unnecessarily high bond repayments, and having more space than needed will also result in pointless cleaning and energy sacrifice, not to mention lots of unnecessary costs, particularly with regards to maintenance.
Similarly, you should think about the size of the stand or garden you need before you buy. It may be great to have lots of space for children to play or a big poolside patio for entertaining, but a large property usually also means higher bond repayments and more upkeep, as well as higher security costs and higher municipal rate payments.
Save for a down payment
The second way to significantly lower your monthly housing cost is to save up until you can put down a deposit of 10% or even 20%. The larger the deposit, the smaller the home loan you will need, and the lower your monthly bond repayment will be.
In addition, paying a deposit will enable you to save a large amount of interest over the life of your home loan – as indicated in the accompanying table* below – even as you enjoy the benefit of the lower monthly repayments.
|Interest rate %||R800 000 (No deposit) Monthly instalment||Total interest over 20yrs R’s||R640 000
saving with deposit R’s
|9||7198||927 474||5758||741 979||185 495|
|10||7720||1 052 842||6176||842 273||210 569|
|11||8258||1 181 802||6606||945 441||236 361|
|12||8809||1 314 085||7047||1 051 268||262 817|
|13||9373||1 449 425||7498||1 159 540||289 885|
|14||9948||1 587 560||7959||1 270 048||317 512|
|15||10 534||1 728 236||8427||1 382 589||345 647|
|16||11 130||1 871 211||8904||1 496 969||374 242|
|17||11 734||2 016 257||9388||1 613 006||403 251|
|18||12 346||2 163 158||9877||1 730 527||432 631|
|19||12 965||2 311 715||10 372||1 849 341||462 374|
|20||13 591||2 461 743||10 872||1 969 395||492 348|
Monitor your utility costs and cut down where you can
The third thing you can do to cut your housing bill is to keep a close eye on your utility costs. As electricity and water charges continue to rise, even normal household activities like heating bathwater, cooking, keeping your home warm enough or cool enough, watering the garden and doing your washing can result in a hefty monthly bill from the municipality, so it is really worth trying to lower your consumption wherever possible.
Fortunately, there are many quick and easy ways to do so that don’t require a major capital outlay. Timer switches and geyser blankets are relatively inexpensive tools to help cut the cost of heating water, for example, while some basic insulation and weatherproofing can go a long way towards reducing the need for heating in winter and cooling in summer. Many homeowners also save money by increasing use of a microwave instead of a stove, or by installing ceiling fans instead of air-conditioners. Some even opt to make use of harvested rainwater for the garden and laundry. What is more, as these savings add up, you can choose to pay an additional amount off your mortgage every month, shorten the overall loan period and in so doing, generate even bigger interest savings through the power of amortisation.
Stay on top of home maintenance
The fourth and final way to lower housing costs is to get organised when it comes to home maintenance and upkeep by drawing up a workable schedule or annual plan. Everyone knows the saying that a “stich in time saves nine” and it is certainly true of home maintenance, especially when a small task done in time can save you from having to pay for a large and costly repair job down the line. The added bonus here is that by staying on top of things and keeping your home in good condition, you help protect its resale value – something that will benefit you hugely if and when you decide to sell one day in the future.
A little can go a long way and by doing what you can to cut down on your housing costs, you can actually end up saving a significant amount of money that can be better used elsewhere.
*Table is for indicative purposes only
But the burning question for many of these first-time buyers is how much they can afford to pay so that their monthly bond instalment will remain manageable – and the rule-of-thumb followed by most lenders and originators is that a new home should not cost more than 2 to 2,5 times your annual household income.
If, for instance, your combined annual salary is R360 000, you should be looking at houses in the R720 000 to R900 000 range at most in order to ensure that you can comfortably afford the monthly home loan instalment.
At the current base home loan interest rate of 9,25%, and assuming you paid a deposit of 10% of the purchase price, this home price range would give you a monthly instalment on a 20-year bond of between R5935 and to about R7420.
However, in terms of the National Credit Act, lenders have to take several factors other than your monthly income into account before they can approve your home loan application.
For example, they will usually also consider income ratios and stipulate that your monthly bond payment, including the principal, interest, tax and insurance, should at most not exceed 25 to 28% of your household monthly income before tax deductions.
Then they will look at your discretionary income (what is actually left after taxes and your regular expenses) and your personal debt-to-income ratio. Generally they would prefer to see that all your monthly debt repayments, like the instalments on your car or credit cards, do not add up to more than 36 to 38% of your income.
In the light of all this, the easiest way for you to determine your limits is to establish your monthly after-tax income and subtract all your expenses, excluding rent but including debt repayments and other essential and regular items such as groceries, school fees, transport, utilities and medical expenses.
The amount left over is what you would have available to cover a monthly home loan instalment as well as home maintenance and you will be able to calculate if it equates to 25 to 28% of your gross income. (Ideally, it should be much more than that, so you will be able to pay more than the minimum instalment every month and get your home paid off much faster.)
On the other hand, this exercise will give you a good handle on whether your debt repayments are eating up too much of your income every month – and whether you will need to cut down your debt load before you can think about buying a home.
Meanwhile, you should also make some provision for fluctuations in interest rates. Rates in SA have been at historically low levels for many years now, but it is predicted that they will start to rise towards the end of this year, and this will push up the minimum monthly instalments on home loans, so you need to ensure that you would still be able to afford your repayment if this should happen.
Interest is generally the biggest challenge anyone faces when paying off a home loan. Our BetterLife Home Loans CEO, Shaun Rademeyer, explains how a home loan of R800 000 at an interest rate of 9.25% can be paid off in 17 years instead of 20, and save you R178 000 (22% of your loan!), simply by adding an extra R500 a month into your bond account. At BetterLife Home Loans, we’re here to help you get the best out of your bond, so here are a few tips on how you can repay your mortgage faster.
A Comprehensive View of Your Finances
Before you even think of taking out a bond, get the rest of your finances in order. First, you need to ensure you have six-month contingency fund for emergencies in your savings account. Secondly, the more deposit you can put down on your bond from the get-go, the less interest you have to pay, so aim for a minimum of 10-20%. Thirdly, decide which of your assets are the most important – which of your investments will depreciate faster? For example: property always increases in value, whereas a car depreciates from the second it is purchased.
Split or Bi-weekly Repayment
First, check with your bank whether they charge for early payments. If they don’t, these two methods can shave years off your bond. You can pay this two ways: twice a month, or every two weeks. Twice-monthly payments mean that you’ll pay half your amount in the middle of the month, and the other half at the end of the month. This means that if your bond’s interest is calculated on a daily compounded interest basis, you’ll save quite a bit of money. The bi-weekly payments are even better. This may sound the same, but if you pay fortnightly you’ll be making 26 payments per year in contrast with 24 repayments per year on a split repayment. The bi-weekly option works even better. Here’s what you’ll save per plan on a R600 000 loan, charged at R 8.5% interest over 20 years (R5206, 94 per month):
Monthly “split” payment:
Paying R2603.47 on the 15th, and another R2603.47 again on the 30th of each month saves you approximately R50 per month over 20 years. This means you could shave two years off your bond and keep R11 948.85 in interest payments over your bond period.
The bi-weekly payment is really the ideal payment. You technically pay for a 13th month, but with a steady monthly or bi-weekly income flow you generally won’t even notice. You’ll pay your R2603.47 up to 26 times per year, meaning you’ll reduce your repayment term to just shy of 17 years, and also save R127 423 in interest.
Take a loan out for longer than you need
Interest is generally the biggest income-killer on a bond. If you’re tight on cash, rather take out a slightly longer bond than you need (just in case), but then pay it off as if you’re on a shorter bond. Take this example:
A R1 000 000 bond, at 9.25% interest over 20 years tallies to a total repayment of R2 198 080, and a monthly mortgage of R9158.67. Exactly the same bond over 15 years, however, ends up as R1 852 546.12, at R10 291.92 per month. Therefore, at a difference of only R1133.25 per month, you’ll pay your house off 5 years earlier and also save R345 533.88 in interest.
Simply round your payment up by a ten or a hundred – you are unlikely to notice the difference, but your bond certainly will. Put any extra money you have into your bond account: investment earnings, your 13th cheque, or even an inheritance. Savings account interest rates generally stand at 6%, whereas bond interest lies between 8-10%, meaning that you’ll actually end up losing 2% of your money annually by using your savings account rather than your bond. If you’re not keen to have your money “tied up” in your bond account, speak to your agent about getting an access bond.
An access bond is a way of putting all your extra money into your bond account and then being able to withdraw it at any time, so it functions like a savings account. This is fantastic for you, as you’ll be able to pay off your bond much more quickly, but still be able to access your money when you need it. BetterLife Home Loans offers access bonds, under the prerequisite that you have your repayments on a debit order and that you pay above the required amount per month, although each case is treated individually.
Play with the BetterLife Home Loan Calculator and see how you can save today, or simply call one of our helpful agents. If you would like more helpful information and tips on how to make you bond work for you, follow our blog here. BetterLife Home Loans is all about giving you the best bond we possibly can.