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The real estate market continues to stay red hot! We continue to get more and more questions about investment properties and just those looking to move their primary residence. So, I’m pleased to introduce our readers to our Guest Blogger, Larry Gavrich. Larry is an expert particularly in Golf Communities. He has written extensively on the subject so we should all benefit from his expertise. You can also re-visit my original article on Golf Real Estate for additional information.

 

 

Golf Communites

After visiting and writing about hundreds of golf communities over the last 10 years and helping dozens of couples, mostly retirees or those about to retire, identify the golf community best suited to them, it has become clear to me that some questions about golf communities are worth addressing and some best left alone.

Let’s start with those questions that are pretty much a waste of time:

 

Will the residents in the golf community like us, and will we like them?  When I am asked this question, my response is straightforward:  “Are you likable?”  If so, you will make friends, and probably quickly after you join the community’s golf club.  Keep in mind that in the typical golf community, everyone is from somewhere else.  Current residents recall their own anxieties about moving to a new place, and they will do all they can to make you comfortable.  (From a selfish standpoint, they are also happy you moved there to help stabilize the real estate in the community and pad the membership rolls of the club.)  Also, given human nature, folks who spent a few hundred thousand dollars on a home are not apt to admit readily to a stranger that they made a mistake.

 

Will we be bored if the community is at some distance from an urban area?  Many golf communities, especially those with bargain real estate, can be as much as an hour or more from an urban area that offers entertainment, restaurant and other services.  If you have ongoing medical service needs, the advice here is to look at communities closer to a city with a major hospital.  For others, the boredom question is easily answered with a multi-day visit to a community you are targeting.  Most offer “discovery packages,” low-priced stays that include lodging, maybe a few meals, a round or two of golf and access to the community’s other amenities.  You will learn over the course of a few days if activities “on campus” are enough to sustain you and if the distance to the nearest city is tolerable.  (Note:  I am happy to assist those interested in arranging a discovery package.)

 

Many customers ask me about the financial stability of a community.  Most communities will open their books to serious prospects; and if they don’t, my advice is to move on to another community that has nothing to hide.  If a community you are targeting is owned by its residents, ask specifically about the financial “reserves” available for both the homeowner’s association and the golf club.  These are the monies available in case of unexpected expenses, such as hurricane damage, a lost lawsuit (if insurance doesn’t cover it all), etc.  In most communities, reserves are in the hundreds of thousands of dollars range.  If the community is still owned by a developer, read the covenants to determine when the developer turns the community over to its residents and who will own the golf club at that time.  (Note:  In most states, developers are required to turn the community over to residents when property sales reach a certain point, typically around 75%.)

 

Of course, golfers will want to know the extent of the golf costs, both the initiation fee and ongoing monthly dues.  Most initiation fees these days are of the “non-equity” variety, which means you will not get any of it back when you resign your club membership.  I counsel my customers to focus more on the monthly dues than on the initiation fee.  Imagine you have set a budget of $400,000 for your golf home and $10,000 for initiation fees for the club.  Let’s say you fall in love with a community but the initiation fees are $25,000, and yet you identify a home you really like priced at $375,000.  Since your happiness will very much be tied to your social life in and around the club, consider the higher initiation fee as part of the cost of your home, rather than two separate items.  In total, you will still come in under budget.

 

I have visited and researched golf communities in which there are no initiation fees and no dues; golf membership is part of the homeowner association membership dues.  In general, semi-private golf clubs — those with memberships but that permit outsiders to pay green fees to play — have modest initiation fees (a couple thousand dollars) and monthly dues (between $200 and $400).  Fully private clubs tend to charge the highest initiation fees, and dues can approach and pass $1,000 per month, especially if multiple-courses are part of the club.  But, then again, I have visited fine private golf community clubs with initiation fees under $5,000 and dues under $500.

 

There is a lot to consider when searching for a golf community home.  If you would like assistance in sorting out country club and golf community options, please contact me at editor@homeonthecourse to arrange a no-obligation phone discussion.

 

 

Larry Gavrich is the founder and editor of Home On The Course, LLC, whose mission is to assist those looking to relocate to a home in the Southeast US near excellent golf.  In the last 10 years, he has visited and reviewed nearly 200 golf communities.  A licensed real estate agent, he has helped dozens of couples find golf communities that match their requirements and interests.  His blog site, GolfCommunityReviews.com, features more than 1,500 articles and reviews written by Mr. Gavrich. 

It’s always exciting to get to welcome a new Guest Blogger to our platform. Let’s welcome Kathy Manson to The Life You Can Afford to Live! Kathy has an extensive resume and bodies of work within Financial Planning and Money Management. You can view her latest endeavors at Catalina Structured Funding. I feel certain that we will see her back here again soon. However, for now learn from her wisdom on this important subject around Money Management and your Teen!

                                                                                                                                          – Todd Burkhalter and our team at The Life You Can Afford to Live

 

The last thing on your teenager’s mind might be money and budgeting but prioritizing these lessons at this age might be one of the most important undertakings you can do as a parent. While there are certain online sites that provide tools, we believe some good old fashion techniques are a better way to lay the groundwork.  Below are 4 tools to help you get the conversation going (if you can get them to look up from their phone):

 

4 Tips to Teach Your Teen

Budgeting

Budgeting and More Budgeting. Maybe the best way to start teaching your teenager about money is to give them some to control. While some parents provide a monthly allowance, we believe that weekly increments help reinforce the principles on a more consistent and regular basis. By doing the allowance weekly, the teenager is giving the opportunity to “save up” for a larger purchase and understand the ramifications of spur of the moment purchases.

Teach them the Concept of Sales

While for adults shopping for the best price or waiting for an item to go on sale is second nature, the concept of delayed gratification is an additional benefit of showing a teenager to wait to an item they want is discounted.  It also begins to show a teenager that is focused on consumption how finding items at a reduced price may allow them to get more things they desire.

Projecting What They Need

Too often at teenager sees something and then “needs” to have it.  We suggest having your child come up with a list of items they will need for the upcoming semester or seasons. While it is a new backpack, a pair of sneakers or the hottest new jeans on the market, the teenager will learn to respect money more if they independently establish a “wish list” for the near future and then you sit down and distinguish necessities from luxuries. While we are not suggesting every purchase needs to be a necessity, we do think it prudent to make a teenager to set priorities on the non-essentials.  In time this proves a valuable tool instead of a discussion every time the teenager walks into a store and sees an item he or she desires.

Earn The Money

Whether it is on top of a basic allowance or not, and whether it simply being paid to do additional chores around the house, making the teenager earn the money instead of it being given to him or her, is maybe the most basic and powerful took in teaching the “value of the dollar”.

With all the lessons that need to be instilled by parents, and there are countless important ones, understanding and appreciating money should be near the top of the list.

 

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GoingGreenA Guest Post that addresses the on going global topic of climate change. It is often hard to maintain focus on such an idea as climate change when you are running your business. Sales, Deadlines, Taxes, Rent, Office Space, Employees, Providing Benefits, Selling Your Business, Climate Change??? Wait…. did that last one really fit in to your daily thoughts? Probably not! This Guest Post by Jennifer Carter provides 27 Ways that an entrepreneur/retailer can put systems in place that will make an impact.

About The Author

Jennifer Carter stays busy writing on various topics, including professional development, for Outbounding.com. In her spare time she’s quite handy; she’s currently working on a confined space entry certification.

 

27 Ways That Business Owners Can Prevent Climate Change

Global warming is an urgent problem facing our planet, but retailers are in a unique position to contribute to climate change prevention efforts. Dealing with large volumes of goods and having control over large spaces and employee culture means that a simple switch can have a noticeable impact when adopted by a retailer. Corporations such as Starbucks, Safeway, Tesco and Kingfisher have already pledged to make green changes to their stores, and many other retailers are following their lead.

In addition to helping save the planet, there are a variety of reasons for retailers to help prevent climate change. As consumers’ perspectives shift increasingly away from the idea that “going green” is just a trend to the understanding that sustainable practices are a necessity, retailers who follow suit are likely to see substantial spikes in business from environmentally minded shoppers. Add that to the fact that climate change prevention measures often save businesses money, and even non-environmentally minded retailers will want to start thinking about ways to go green.

Following are 27 ways you can work to prevent climate change in your retail store or stores, what you can encourage your employees to do, and how you can get customers in on it too.

What you as a retailer can do:

1. Get an energy audit. Your utility company can perform an energy audit to determine where you’re overusing energy. Many will do this for free, and the recommendations they give you will help you save money for years.

2. Recycle everything you can. Find out how you can start recycling paper, plastic, glass, aluminum, ink cartridges and cardboard.

 

recycling-bins3. Reuse whatever you can. Cardboard boxes and other packing materials are a great place to start.

4. Reduce paper use. Print double-sided, reuse printed paper for scrap paper, and think before you print.

5. Buy local. When possible, source your products from local distributors or producers to reduce fossil fuel use.

6. Go digital. Switch to digital bill payment, invoicing, banking and ordering. You can also send email rather than printed memos or offer downloadable employee handbooks. Use an eFax service instead of a paper machine.

7. Get rid of Styrofoam. Styrofoam is one of the least environmentally friendly products you can use. Find alternatives to Styrofoam for everything from cups to packing peanuts, both in what you sell and in what you use in the warehouse.

8. Eliminate disposables in the break room. Reusable cups, plates and utensils may come at a small up-front investment, but they pay for themselves quickly — the average employee uses 500 disposable cups per year!

9. Reduce energy use in the restrooms. Install low-flow toilets and urinals, and fix leaky sinks or toilets promptly. Install air dryers rather than offering paper towels. And lower the thermostat on hot water heaters to 115 degrees.

10. Switch to eco-friendly cleaning products. Check out www.responsiblepurchasing.org and www.epa.gov/oppt/epp/pubs/vendors for options and information.

11. Xeriscape. Reduce water usage by replacing grass outside your store with native plants that use little water, and engage in other xeriscaping techniques.

12. Buy EnergyStar-certified equipment and maintain it properly. Read up on your options at www.energystar.gov.

13. Adjust your thermostat. Keep the thermostat on 68 in the winter, and 78 in the summer, and program it to automatically reduce energy use overnight.

14. Insulate the building(s). Use weather stripping and caulking to reduce energy consumption. Insulate hot water pipes to reduce heat loss.

15. Recycle or donate the old equipment. Not all electronics recyclers are created equal, though — choose an R2 certified recycler to ensure that your equipment will be recycled in earth-friendly ways. Start here: http://www.r2solutions.org/certified/electronic-recyclers-with-r2-certified-facilities/

16. Use natural lighting when possible, and switch to compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs. CFLs can save up to $40 per year per bulb in energy costs over incandescents, and can last 13 times longer! Also, make sure all lights are turned out when everyone’s gone for the day.

17. Use Green Packaging. Educate yourself on the impact that your green packaging choices may have on the environment. In fact, your packaging can have a huge impact on sales too, not just the environment.

How to get employees involved:

18. Give recognition to employees who use green practices. People like being recognized for their efforts, and you’ll begin to create a company culture that values sustainability.

19. Offer incentives for walking, biking, bus riding or carpooling to work. These may be financial rewards, or allowing employees to leave early on days they don’t drive.

rideyourbike

 

20. Put a compost bin in the break room. Believe it or not, throwing break room food matter such as fruit peels, old bread and eggshells into the trash contributes more to global warming than does material that can’t be broken down. This is because the anaerobic decomposition in landfills produces significant quantities of methane, whereas composting food — an aerobic process — produces no methane.

21. Encourage employees to turn off and/or unplug appliances when not in use. Unplugging appliances is one of the easiest ways your store or stores can drastically reduce energy consumption. This goes for everything from the coffee maker in the break room to computers being turned off and unplugged overnight. Using power strips makes it easy to unplug several appliances at once.

22. Let employees work remotely if possible. Although this is not always feasible in retail stores, it’s possible that certain employees — such as upper management — can work from home on occasion, reducing their carbon footprint.

 

How to get customers involved in climate change prevention:

23. Offer digital receipts. Many retailers are now offering customers digital instead of paper receipts, which are easier to keep track of and save tons of paper. Some programs even allow you to offer a discount once customers have emailed themselves a certain number of receipts, which adds an extra incentive for them to go paperless.

24. Offer incentives for not driving. Consider offering a discount to customers who walk, bike or bus.

25. Reduce use of bags. Encourage your customers to bring their own bags by offering a discount to customers who do.

26. Sell reusable bags by the registers. Make it easy for customers to use reusable bags by selling them at cost when customers check out. And rather than asking, “Would you like a bag for that?” have cashiers ask, “Do you have reusable bags with you?”

27. Participate in a carbon offset program. If you offer online orders, offer carbon-neutral shipping or give customers the option to add a carbon offset to their order.

Once you’ve implemented the earth-friendly measures discussed here that make sense for your business, get another energy audit. You may be amazed how much of a difference a few changes can make — and you’ll be proud that you’re doing your part to prevent climate change!

 

Which of these ways will you place into your business? Please feel free to send me other things that you do to help!

 

 

The Original article by Jennifer can be found here