Spring is often the busiest time of year in most real estate markets. If you are considering moving soon, there are some financial moves you may want to consider first. Whether a first-time buyer or a seasoned homeowner, you’ll want to ask yourself the following questions to ensure you are in a great financial position before moving.
Is Your Credit Score in Tip-Top Shape?
Your credit report is essentially a “report card” of your financial habits, and your credit score is your grade. Your score provides a snapshot to potential lenders of how risky a borrower you are. Therefore, maintaining a good credit score is essential when it comes time to get a mortgage. The lower your score, the greater your chances of getting stuck with a higher interest rate and smaller loan amount, or worse – getting denied altogether. If your credit score could use improving, it may be worth putting off home buying for at least a few months until you can bring it up a bit. It may not be ideal, but it’ll be worth it when you lock in that low interest rate and get approved for a bigger loan amount to buy your dream house.
Have You Considered the True Costs of Home Ownership?
While renting is fairly straightforward and is a predictable monthly expense, the costs of home ownership are entirely different. There are factors that can affect your financial well-being when buying a home, and if you’re not careful, could end up costing you more money than expected.
Some things to take into account are moving costs, closing costs, property taxes, the amount of interest you pay each month on your mortgage, utilities, maintenance costs such as chimney and eves trough cleaning, HOA fees, homeowner’s insurance, and unexpected repairs. Some of these costs are predictable monthly expenses that can be built into your budget, while others may pop up when you least expect it. You need to be financially prepared for either scenario.
Especially if you are a first-time home buyer, you’ll want to ensure you create a budget beforehand, so you can know what to expect and gauge how comfortable you’ll be, since the costs will likely be drastically different than what you’re used to dealing with.
A budget is important for seasoned homeowners as well. Whether you are moving to a bigger place, to a different town, or downsizing, the budget you are used to sticking to will be affected to some degree. Make sure you go over your anticipated costs before moving and how it affects your monthly budget.
Do You Have an Emergency Fund?
Remember those unexpected repairs I just mentioned? That’s where it comes in handy to have an emergency fund. The last thing you want when dealing with an already stressful situation such as a leaking roof or broken refrigerator is to be scrambling to figure out how to pay for it. An emergency fund is there to save you in a pinch and is something all homeowners should have.
A home is one of the biggest financial commitments you will make in your lifetime. Whether you're a first-time homebuyer, or simply looking for a new place, you should ensure the process is as stress-free and cost-effective as possible. Make sure you consider the various financial aspects of moving and home buying before you take action, to ensure that your finances stay in tiptop shape.
I walk into a room full of men and I know exactly what they're thinking: "What does she know about whisky?"
I know this because many men have asked me that same question from the moment I started my career in spirits a decade ago.
In a male-dominated industry, I realized early on that I would always have to work harder than my male counterparts to prove my credibility, ability and knowledge in order to earn the trust of leadership stakeholders, coworkers, vendors and even consumers of our products. I am no stranger to hard work and appreciate that everyone needs to prove their worth when starting any career or role. What struck me however, was how the recognition and opportunities seemed to differ between genders. Women usually had to prove themselves before they were accepted and promoted ("do the work first and earn it"), whereas men often were more easily accepted and promoted on future potential. It seemed like their credibility was automatically and immediately assumed. Regardless of the challenges and adversity I faced, my focus was on proving my worth within the industry, and I know many other women were doing the same.
Thankfully, the industry has advanced in the last few years since those first uncomfortable meetings. The rooms I walk into are no longer filled with just men, and perceptions are starting to change significantly. There are more women than ever before making, educating, selling, marketing and conceptualizing whiskies and spirits of all kinds. Times are changing for the better and it's benefitting the industry overall, which is exciting to see.
For me, starting a career in the spirits business was a happy accident. Before spirits, I had worked in the hospitality industry and on the creative agency side. That background just happened to be what a spirits company was looking for at the time and thus began my journey in the industry. I was lucky that my gender did not play a deciding role in the hiring process, as I know that might not have been the case for everyone at that time.
Now, ten plus years later, I am fortunate to work for and lead one of the most renowned and prestigious Whisky brands in the world.. What was once an accident now feels like my destiny. The talent and skill that goes into the whisky-making process is what inspired me to come back and live and breathe those brands as if they were my own. It gave me a deep understanding and appreciation of an industry that although quite large, still has an incredible amount of handmade qualities and a specific and meticulous craft I have not seen in any other industry before. Of course, my journey has not been without challenges, but those obstacles have only continued to light my passion for the industry.
The good news is, we're on the right track. When you look at how many females hold roles in the spirits industry today compared to what it looked like 15 years ago, there has been a significant increase in both the number of women working and the types of roles women are hired for. From whisky makers and distillers to brand ambassadors and brand marketers, we're seeing more women in positions of influence and more spirits companies willing to stand up and provide a platform for women to make an impact. Many would likely be surprised to learn that one of our team's Whisky Makers is a woman. They might even be more surprised to learn that women, with a heightened sense of smell compared to our male counterparts, might actually be a better fit for the role! We're nowhere near equality, but the numbers are certainly improving.
It was recently reported by the Distilled Spirits Council that women today represent a large percentage of whisky drinkers and that has helped drive U.S. sales of distilled spirits to a record high in 2017. Today, women represent about 37% of the whisky drinkers in the United States, which is a large increase compared to the 1990s when a mere 15% of whisky drinkers were women. As for what's causing this change? I believe it's a mix of the acceptance of women to hold roles within the spirits industry partnered with thoughtful programs and initiatives to engage with female consumers.
While whisky was previously known for being a man's drink, reserved for after-dinner cigars behind closed doors, it is now out in the open and accessible for women to learn about and enjoy too.
What was once subculture is now becoming the norm and women are really breaking through and grabbing coveted roles in the spirits business. That said, it's up to the industry as a whole to continue to push it forward. When you work for a company that values diversity, you're afforded the opportunity to be who you are and let that benefit your business. Working under the model that the best brand initiatives come from passionate groups of people with diverse backgrounds, we are able to offer different points of view and challenge our full team to bring their best work forward, which in turn creates better experiences for our audience. We must continue to diversify the industry and break against the status quo if we really want to continue evolving.
While we've made great strides as an industry, there is still a lot of work to be done. To make a change and finally achieve gender equality in the workplace, both men and women need to stand behind the cause as we are better collectively as a balanced industry. We have proved that we have the ability to not only meet the bar, but to also raise it - now we just need everyone else to catch up.