Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Why I Love Houston: Miller Outdoor Theatre

When I'm helping new Houstonians find their perfect home, I'm often asked for recommendations for things to do in the city. One of my favorite suggestions is a performance at Miller Outdoor Theatre. Its world class programming has something for everyone - concerts, musicals, dance, movies, and so much more. And the best part - it's free! The 2018 calendar runs thorugh August with lots of events to choose from for the whole family. Here are few of the performances I'm looking forward to attending. 

Introduce the little ones to opera with the Houston Grand Opera children's show of Monkey & Francine in the City of Tigers. This Bollywood style production will be sure to bring on a fit of giggles as the monkey prince and his sister outwit crocodiles and tigers to prove they are worthy of running the Monkey Kingdom one day. This show runs May 2-4th at 11 am. 

Treat mom to the ballet as Houston Ballet presents Don QuixoteMother's Day weekend, May 11-13th. I recommend arriving early with a cooler full of picnic supplies to enjoy a beautiful sunset on the hill before the performance starts. Our family go-to spots for picnic favorites are take out from Barnaby's on Binz, the drive-thru at Oui Banh Mi, and treats from the aisles of HEB on Alabama. 

The 2018 season ends with the Houston Shakespeare Festival July 27-August 5. You can choose from the drama of Hamlet or the rollicking tale of mistaken idenity in The Comedy of Errors. After the play, our family loves to end the evening on a sweet note with dessert at nearby Chocolate Bar or Sweet Cup Gelato

Hope to see you on the hill! 


Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Easy Ways to Save for a Down Payment

With rising rental costs and the amount of student debt at an all-time high, it's no surprise that many potential buyers are unable to save up for a down payment. If you've found yourself in this boat, don't lose hope. With the help of technology and a little foresight, you can save for that down payment -- and probably sooner than you think.

Here's how:

Set up automatic deposits. Enable automatic deposits into your savings account. Schedule them right after paydays, when you know you'll have the cash available. If you can't automate your deposits, set a reminder to transfer money every two weeks.

Try a round-off app. What if you could round off every purchase you make to the nearest dollar and then put that extra cash to good use? Apps like Acorns and Clarity Money round off your transactions and either invest your money or add it to a savings account.

Cut down on spending. Find an area of spending that you can afford to cut back on -- maybe eating out or grabbing to-go coffees. Each month, tally up your saved funds and add them directly to your savings account. You'll be surprised at the impact.

Clean house. Do a little spring-cleaning, and declutter those closets, drawers and shelves. Sell anything you don't want on Facebook, Craigslist or a consignment app. It may only be $20 to $50 at a time, but when added to an interest-paying savings account, it'll make a big difference.

Remember, you don't need the mythical 20 percent down payment ready and available to buy a home. In fact, thanks to low down payment loan options and a plethora of down payment assistance programs, you can actually buy a property with much less than that -- sometimes just 3 percent!

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Why I Love Houston: The 31st Annual Art Car Parade!

Calling all Art Car fans!
Welcome to my Why I Love Houston series, where I share my favorite Houston experiences and excursions. My goal is to make my hometown of Houston more accessible to the ever-changing mix of folks adopting our amazing city as their home base and reminding natives of the hidden gems throughout H-town! 

Mark your calendar for this year's 31st annual Art Car Parade that's scheduled to roll through downtown Houston and Allen Parkway on Saturday, April 14th at 2 pm. Be sure to arrive early for the Starting Line Party so you can preview the colorful caravan before the art car drivers rev up their engines. The parade lasts about two hours so be prepared by bringing collapsible chairs, a small cooler, and plenty of sunscreen! Food and drink will be available along the parade route too. Admission is free but you can go VIP (for a price!) with special seating and other swag on the grounds of Hermann Square at City Hall. For more Art Car Parade fun, attend the Sneak Peek at Discovery Green on Thursday, April 12th from 6-8 pm where you can catch a glimpse of these moving works of art in the evening. Or get tickets to the Art Car Ball held on Friday, April 13th, for an original, uniquely Houston date night where costumes are encouraged. 

Let's roll!