Friday, February 27, 2009

Shopping Experiment

I have a confession. I don’t cook very often. Everyone in my family cooks really well. For me? It’s a swing and a miss. I decided recently (as I’ve done before) that I want to start cooking. Not all the time. But I definitely want to contribute to my family’s meal experience. By doing this I’ve learned many things.

#1: I’m about to be banned from the kitchen. It’s quite funny how bad I am at it. Rather than learning how to cook, I’m actually learning what I can pull off and what to stay away from.
#2: The crock pot and I don’t always get along.
#3: My son loves to help me cook so I can get in QT with him
#4 My husband will eat anything….God bless him.
#5: It really takes strategic planning……….or shopping rather.

My typical shopping consists of a minimum of 3 weekly trips to the grocery store to buy items of need, as they come up. (this is in theory of course because I rarely do the shopping) That’s a lot of wasted time when you think about it. Each trip is a minimum of 30 minutes. 30 minutes x 3 times per week= 6 hours per month. Not to mention the cost of gas and impacting the environment with the trips. For people who are so pressed for time these days, 2 hours is a lot. That’s enough time for a monthly massage and a trip to the park. I remember my mother and grandmother taking weekly grocery trips. In which they would buy massive amounts of food, usually hitting sales. Sales were their thing. It was a sport for them. I remember them discussing what needs to be done (what meat to take out of the freezer) the night before, planning dinner for the next day. Everything was already there. I never remember them starting a dinner and then realizing that they were out of something. Well, I didn’t pick up this lifestyle. For New Year’s Day while cooking for friends/family, I sent my poor husband four, that’s right FOUR, times to the store. So I decided now I want to have more of plan like the women before me.

I have a tight nit group of friends whom I talk to about everything. A friend of mine told me her secret. Which, now I know, is not a secret at all, lots of people do this. She takes the weekly sales papers that come in the mail (I usually throw it directly in the recycle box, without even glancing) and brings it to Wal-Mart where she normally does her shopping and they match any sales price. I’m thinking that sounds like a lot of work. I want to minimize my time not add to it. But she claims it really saves money. So I decided to conduct a little experiment, because I was not convinced.

Next time the sales papers came in, I started looking at them. I found things we normally buy and started circling all these great prices. My husband saw me and wanted to know what I was doing. I told him and he pointed out that most of the items I circled are what Wal-Mart usually charges. This is when it hit me. I have no earthly idea how price of things. How is this possible? My hobby is planning and budgeting for crying out loud! I can tell you right now how much we spend per month, how much we save, how much we donate, how much we invest, etc but I can’t tell you how much individual items are such as gas, food, etc. It really hit me hard when I realized that a gallon of milk isn’t $2.16. I really thought I was close too. It’s embarrassing. I started surveying people to see if they knew the price of things and most of them did. It took me a week to get over this.

And the sale papers came once again. So my experiment began…again. This time, I circled everything we normally buy. I typed up a grocery list with the items, the sale price and which paper it’s from. I did this because I’m used of shopping with a list and didn’t want to dig in each sale paper for each item. I dragged my husband with me to Wal-Mart for help. He totally thought I was nuts trying to save a few cents here and there. But it was for research!
I had to find each item and compare. Wal-Mart was already cheaper than half of items on my list. As for the other half, I saved a grand total of $12.73. That was actually a lot more than I expected. The discount on each item varied from $.06 to $4.84. Still, I’m thinking that the time spent circling the items, typing the list, having to point out each discounted item to the cashier and holding up the line of growing disgruntled shoppers at the register isn’t worth the savings.

On the other hand, let’s look at the big picture. Let’s say that $12.73 would be the average savings per week. $12.73 x 52 weeks= $661.96 per year. A huge chunk of Americans don’t have a nest egg (savings account). Let’s say you take those savings and put it in a savings account that earns 4% interest. How much do you think it’ll grow? Yep, you guessed it, I researched that too.

Current Savings:
Years to Enrollment:
10 years
Interest Rate on Savings:
Contribution Frequency:
Amount Saved Per Period:
Total Contributions:
Number of Contributions:
Total Interest Earnings:
Interest Earnings Percentage:
Total Projected Savings:

This could help you in a number of ways 10 years from now. This is nothing but money you would have normally spent on food. Even if you’re not looking that far ahead, couldn’t you use an extra $661.96 per year? You can use it towards Christmas gifts, pay an extra mortgage/car payment, buy yourself something nice. Don’t care about having that extra money? Don’t need it? There are people in this world who greatly need it. You can donate it to the ones that do need it. Most people don’t donate money because they don’t have disposable income. Saving money that you normally spend on food can create disposable income to be able to give back.

Even in a recession, Americans are still very fortunate in comparison to the rest of the world. Yet we take our luxury for granted.

It’s not only about saving a buck. Most of us are fortunate enough not to worry about each nickel and dime. But I think it’s time for us to start thinking about how our actions affect us, our family and the world around us. Any small alteration to our lifestyle could greatly impact us, our family and others.

Will I continue to search for the sales? Maybe. Maybe not. But the research on this was fun and definitely a learning experience. I’m curious to hear your feedback.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Viewing Properties for Sale

I recently conducted a survey among friends, relatives and clients. There are many...many misconceptions about the home buying process. Here is one of the Q & A, which I elaborated on:

As a buyer, when I see a listed property I like, it's best to:

a) Call the listing agent/company who has the property I'm interested in 11%
Note: If the realtor currently represents the seller, and you don't have a buyer-agent agreement with that well are you being represented in the event you decide to buy the home? Were you even offered a buyer-agent agreement? Who's interest does the agent hold? Yours? the sellers? Is she/he just seeing dollar signs?

b) Call my realtor to ensure my interest are represented 74%
Note: This is the best answer possible and the majority knew this. Most people start their search online (which is great!). However, they usually end up with whatever realtor they get on the phone when calling/emailing to inquire or schedule a showing. What most buyers don't realize is that they have a choice of many realtors who provide different levels of professionalism and service. Before you start searching online on your own, you should interview realtors and choose the one that suits you and your needs. By doing this, you'll have a realtor to call in the event you find something (online or driving by) you'd like
to view. Realtors can help you with anything on the market regardless of what company it's listed with. And with a buyer-agent agreement, you will have mutual promises in writing to ensure your interests are represented. The GoGetters conduct interviews via phone, online chats, webcam and in person....whatever fits your lifestyle. Email us: or Call 337.291.4754 for a buyer counseling session.

c) Call the list agent/company to get info and look at the property, then call my agent to assist me in buying it 16%
Note: I cannot stress enough on how big of a "no-no" this is. By doing this, you are unintentionally leading another agent into thinking that you are their client. By doing this, it causes unneccessary problems that are easily avoidable by communicating only to your realtor for information and showings.

For more information, please contact us.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Mardi Gras, Charity & Opportunities

Acadiana’s Mardi Gras Parade Schedule
Carencro Mardi Gras Parade
Feb 21
The Carencro Mardi Gras Parade is held each year on the Saturday before Mardi Gras beginning at 11 a.m. The parade travels down University Avenue from Butcher Switch Road to Railroad Street.

Youngsville Mardi Gras Parade
Feb 21 1pm
Starts at the Public Works building and ends at Fountain View

Children's Parade
Feb 21
Mardi Gras parade featuring Lafayette's children's krewes.Lafayette. 12:30 p.m.

Krewe of Bonaparte Mardi Gras Parade
Feb 21Lafayette. 6:30 pm

Queen's Parade
Feb 23Mardi Gras parade honoring the Southwest Mardi Gras Association's
Queen Evangeline.Lafayette. 6 p.m.

King's Parade
Feb 24
Mardi Gras parade honoring King Gabriel, reigning royalty for the
Southwest Mardi Gras Association.Lafayette. 10 a.m.

Lafayette Mardi Gras Festival Parade
Feb 24
Mardi Gras parade honoring King Toussaint L'Ouverture and Queen Suzanne Simonn.Lafayette. 1 p.m.

Independent Parade
Feb 24
Sponsored by KADN Fox 15/KLAF UPN TV.Lafayette. 2 pm.

January Charity Event Report:
In January we collected donations for the Faith House of Acadiana. This charity helps abused women break free from their abuser and start fresh. Thank you to those of you who were kind enough to contribute. We were able to bring four bags of clothes/household items along with a monetary donation to the Faith House.

February Charity Event Goal:
Help us support the Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Acadiana. This program provides mentors to under privileged kids who are missing that adult figure in their life. Radim, Khaison and I will be bowling to raise money for this great cause. Please consider donating (even small amounts help). Minimum amount we need to raise is $105.
Please respond if you'd like to contribute.

Take advantage of every opportunity: The tax credit in the Stimulus Bill is $8000, or 10% of the value of the home for any first time homebuyers who purchase homes from the start of the year until the end of November. It starts phasing out for couples with incomes above $150,000 and single filers with incomes above $75,000, and buyers will have to repay the credit if they sell their homes within three years.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Slow down.....

What a gorgeous weekend Lafayette LA displayed! Perfectly clear blue skies, sunny and about 70 degrees with a breeze. Why the weather report? It has a lot to do with how I structured my weekend.

Normally, I work seven days a week. Even in my free time, I'm working. Filing paperwork, analysis, statistics...all which I consider fun. I can't sit still. I'm constantly in motion. And I'm not alone. We live in a very fast paced society. Everything was due yesterday and we are programmed to constantly do things quickly, with little to no tolerance for delay.

With today's technology, we are constantly connected. We are available to everyone all the time. But how connected are we to the things around us? Are we so immersed with our cell phone and the internet that we don't notice others around us? How often do we sit in silence? How often, when running from place to place, do we really notice the view?

I make it a point to be in the moment, no matter where I am. When I'm with clients, I don't answer the phone because I believe it's rude. Same when I'm having lunch or dinner with someone. When I'm attending a continuing education class...I don't text or email. I save that for the breaks, along with returning calls. I don't bring my phone down at all in church. You get the point. I'm pretty good about balancing "being connected" with "being in the moment".

But where I find I lack is enjoying the simple things. Paperwork and statistics will be there tomorrow. How often to I sit still and do nothing? The day was so gorgeous Saturday that I gave away my afternoon phone duty to venture out and do something different. I was going donate blood for a friend in need and couldn't go to the park if I showed up for phone duty (which is floor time at the office to answer incoming calls, for those of you not in real estate). So I packed up the car with a blanket, soccer ball, husband(who had to cancel his workout) and son and headed to the park. I thought about bringing a book because I knew I'd be bored otherwise but decided against it. The whole point was to do nothing. And not feel guilty for it. We did make a pit stop for sandwiches from Quiznos. (if you haven't realized, I'm not all that domestic and was not prepared for a real picnic)

The park was packed with people but not in an annoying way. There was plenty of space for everyone. We sat and ate our sandwiches. Then we sprawled out on the blanket. Sometimes talking, sometimes not. We stared at the sky. We watched other people. We even did yoga. Khaison, our son, didn't want to play on the playground. He was content kicking around a soccer ball.

The theme continued to the night. We didn't watch tv or play the Wii. We played Monopoly for three hours. Khaison seriously beat his two realtor parents....go figure.

For those of you that are thinking, "What is this chic writing about? My weekends are always like that." Good for you! You get it! You are already enjoying the little things in life. For those of you who can relate to should definitely try just doing nothing. I felt the grass beneath my feet yesterday. How often do you feel the grass beneath your feet? How often do you take in the scenery? How often do you play a board game?

I now feel rejuvenated. Remember that life is good but if you don't slow down and enjoy it, it'll pass you by.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Perception of a realtor

What do people think of when they picture a real estate agent? Most likely they will see a very busy individual that is constantly running around on the phone , emailing, texting and driving all at the same time. Most people probably see someone who is constantly in a hurry to make that next commission. People most likely will feel that there agent is overpaid. Why pay this person when I can do it myself for free?
Problem is…there is some truth to the perception, depending on what type realtor that person has dealt with. Bottom line is, the public has no clue what realtors do nor do they need to know exactly all what we do. What they do need to know is that we know what we’re doing when we are providing services to them.

How do the Real Estate GoGetters overcome the negative perception the public has of realtors?

Everywhere we go, people want to talk to us about real estate. We take that opportunity to listen and learn from it. People are quick to tell us negative experiences. We rarely hear of the positive ones. We try to take those negative perceptions and use them as a tool to perfect our services.
Effectively communicating is key. Most complaints are due to poor communication between realtor and client.
First off, before engaging in a realtor/client relationship…we conduct a counseling session, tailored for a buyer or seller, whatever the case may be. In this session, the process of buying or selling is broken down and explained to them. Our roles as well as theirs are identified. We feel that by doing this, the client knows what to expect.
Our services are systematic and consistent. Through continuing education, such as CRS courses…we have been able to put a system in place that allows us to cater to our growing clientele. Clients see that we are steadily busy but not frazzled nor overwhelmed.
Our means of communication is flexible and tailored to the comfort level and preference of each individual client. Our clients have the option of phone calls, internet chatting, text messaging, emails and webcam chats. Our clients also have our full attention when interacting with us. We do not answer our phone when we are with clients. We live in the here and now. It’s not necessary to constantly be “plugged” in order to be successful. We return calls and emails the same day. Clients respect that about us. They are okay with waiting on a return call because they are confident that it will be returned and with full attention.
Throughout any process, listing or selling, the client is constantly informed of what’s going on through weekly updates and copies of emails regarding the transaction.

As far as perception on honesty, integrity and ethics…there should be no problem. I’m appalled that this is not obvious. If you, as a client question your realtor’s honesty, integrity and ethics—run fast!
GoGetters on Honesty: Don’t ask if you don’t want an honest answer. It’s like diarrhea of the mouth for us…it’s coming right out! We don’t use “sales” tactics. We’re not in sales. We are service providers. We are here to assist you in accomplishing your real estate needs/goals.
GoGetters on Integrity: Our clients’ needs are put first. Seriously. We love what we do. We get paid for it. But our clients are not a paycheck to us. We only work with clients that are committed to us. We work with clients with different needs in all price ranges.
GoGetters on Ethics: We work with buyers and sellers by contract only. We pay close attention to our fiduciary duties. We do not steal other realtor’s clients. If we learn that you were working with a realtor prior to us, we are willing to work with you only if there services were unsatisfactory to you. We also give the realtor a courtesy call and possibly more depending on the situation. We don’t compete…we create! Maintaining professionalism is very important to us.

In a nutshell, we run our real estate services as a business. An honest, professional, successful real estate business. Money comes and goes but relationships last a lifetime.
Please contact me with questions or if you’d like for me to elaborate.