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Friday Five // March 15th, 2019

It’s Friday once again, which means it’s time for the Friday Five, our weekly roundup of five fun events happening this weekend in the Lowcountry. Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, check out an arts festival, take part in a Navy Week celebration, and more. As always, no matter what you choose to do, the staff and agents at Johnson & Wilson Real Estate Company wish you a safe and happy weekend!

Don your best green outfit and celebrate all weekend long at Tommy Condon's St. Patrick’s Day Celebration, the biggest St. Paddy’s Day celebration in Charleston. The party starts on Friday and continues until Monday. Doors open at 9am Saturday, Sunday, and Monday, and the party will continue until 2am each night. There will be live music all day, all weekend, featuring Judson McKinney, Kevin Church, and headliners The Bograts. The Charleston Pipe Band will also be on hand for a special performance on Saturday leading up to the yearly countdown to St. Paddy’s Day at midnight on Saturday. Enjoy a special St. Patrick’s Day menu and the coldest beer in town.

Head to Historic Downtown Summerville on Saturday for the third annual St. Patrick’s Day Party in the Square from 10:30am until 6pm. Test your luck with classic outdoor games, or just sit back and enjoy some live entertainment in the recently reopened Hutchinson Square. Check out all the local merchants, who will be celebrating the day in their own special way. Be sure to arrive early so you can participate in the Shamrock Scavenger Hunt. One thousand shamrocks will be hidden throughout stores in the square and on Short Central. On the back of the shamrocks will be a number. Check back at the link above all day long to see if your shamrock has a lucky winning number! Food and drink specials will be offered all day at Homegrown Brewhouse, Oak Road Brewery, Montreux Bar and Grill, The Icehouse, and O’Lacy’s Pub.

The 23rd annual Mount Pleasant ArtFest takes takes place at Mount Pleasant Towne Centre on Saturday from 11am until 3pm. Local music, dance, and visual arts studios offer stunning performances by some of the area’s most talented individuals and groups. The Mount Pleasant Artists Guild will also present a juried art show. All activities and performances are free of charge. Browse exhibits from your favorite Towne Centre shops and restaurants like Carolina Gourmet, Hairy Winston Pet Boutique, Burtons Grill, TCBY, Southern Living Store, and European Wax Center. Food and snacks will be available for purchase from Dave N Dubs Hot Dogs, Holy City Homemade Italian Ice, Trolly Dolly Treats, Clean Eatz, James Brown Famous Boiled Peanuts, King of Pops, Kona Ice, and Miss Katie’s Sweets. Admission, parking, and activities are all free!

Join the Children’s Museum of the Lowcountry in celebrating women’s history at the Rebel Girls Celebration this Saturday from 9am until 11am. Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls is a book that reinvents fairy tales and inspires girls (and boys!) with the stories of 100 extraordinary women from Elizabeth I to Serena Williams. Bring your little rebel girl or rebel boy and join the party with a meet-and-greet with some Rebel Girl characters from the book and some of Charleston’s own rebel girls, including leading ladies from the Society of Women Engineers, Blackbaud, Lou Hammond Group, Ohm Radio, Lowcountry High Rollers, ABC News 4, and Kindred at Home Physical Therapy. Characters from the book will include Anne Bonny, Madame CJ Walker, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Corrie Ten Boom, Sonya Sotomayor, and more. Admission to the event is $8 for CML members and $15 for non-members. Infants under a year old are free. Click the link above to learn more and register for this awesome event.

Also on Saturday, this historic USS Yorktown aircraft carrier will host sailors from more than a half-dozen different Navy programs for Navy Day at Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum. Activities and guests will include the History and Heritage Command discussing Charleston naval history; the USS Constitution sailors and equipment; meteorological and oceanographic commend; Navy medicine personnel; Navy recruitment, and more. The event starts at 10am and lasts until 3pm and is included with general admissions. Former and active sailors get in free of charge. Navy Day at Patriots Point is part of Charleston Navy Week, organized by the Navy Office of Community Outreach (NAVCO) and designed to give Americans the opportunity to learn about the Navy, its people, and its importance to national security and prosperity.

 

Money-Saving Tips to Take from Savvy Homeowners

Your home doesn’t have to be a money pit. Take some advice from savings-savvy homeowners and use these tips to help you save money on homeownership.

Automate Your Thermostat

Investing in a programmable thermostat is well worth the initial cost. For less than $100 you can go with a model that keeps the temperature inside your home between certain parameters preset by you. Or spend a little more and invest in a smart thermostat that you can control with your smartphone from pretty much anywhere. Some smart thermostats can even sense when there’s nowhere in the house and go into energy-saving mode, then kick the temperature back down a bit if it’s warm outside (or up if it’s a cold day) when you get home.

Use Fans

Using a ceiling fan allows you to bump up the temp on your thermostat in the summer and even lower it a bit in the winter. Fans use considerably less energy than your air conditioner does, and they can actually lower the temperature in a room by a good five degrees or more. And if you weren’t aware, switching the direction of the fan in the winter can also help warm a room.

Block Out the Sun

Use blinds, tinting film, or blackout curtains on windows that see a lot of sunlight during the day. Blocking the sun helps keep a room from getting too hot during the sunniest part of the day. Closed blinds and curtains can also help keep cold air from leaking into the room when it’s chilly outside.

Use Less Hot Water

Besides saving money on water usage and being greener all around, using less hot water will help save money on your air conditioning as well. Think about it. If you’re taking long, super hot showers that steam up the room, all that heat has to go somewhere.

Inspect and Replace A/C Filters Regularly

Dirty air filters block airflow and make your HVAC system work even harder. If it gets bad enough, it can even cause your system to burn out. Replace air filters every three to six months

Remove Foliage Around HVAC Unit

If there’s shrubbery surrounding your HVAC unit, you could be causing it to work much harder than it needs to. Shrubbery can restrict the airflow your unit needs in order to run efficiently. Make sure you have at least one foot of clearance around your unit, and definitely trim any bushes or trees that are touching it. Remove any leaves and dirt that might be surrounding it, and if there’s significant dirt or debris inside the unit, have it professionally cleaned and serviced.

Try “Solar Drying”

Give your clothes dryer a break and hang the wash out to dry when the weather’s nice. It might take a little longer, but the savings and fresh outdoor air will be worth it! If outdoor drying isn’t a good option for you, invest in a drying rack. Allowing the bulk of your clothes to air dry could save you a good chunk of change over a year.

Clean Your Dryer Vent

You know your clothes take longer to dry when the lint trap’s full; but did you know your dryer’s performance is also affected big time when the vent hasn’t been cleaned in a while? The Consumer Energy Center says that next to refrigerators, clothes dryers are the second highest energy-using appliances. With that in mind, you should definitely keep cleaning the dryer vent high on your regular maintenance list.

Use LED Bulbs

Not only do LED lights last longer than incandescent bulbs, but they’re also more efficient and put out less heat.

Put Your Outdoor Grill to Use

Try using an outdoor grill more often for cooking. You’ll use less electricity and cut down on the extra heat the stove and oven create inside the house. As a bonus, grilled foods are usually healthier foods sauteed or fried on the stovetop or casseroles baked in the oven.

Fix Leaky Windows and Doors

The air leaking from even the tiniest gap around a window or door can add up to a lot of wasted money. Add or replace weather stripping or use caulk to eliminate air leaks around doors and windows. Sealing these tiny gaps can actually make your heating and cooling more efficient and budget-friendly.

Keep a Home Maintenance Calendar

A well-oiled machine runs best. Keep your home and all its parts properly maintained, and you’ll definitely save money in the long run. As long as everything is working properly, you should be able to keep major issues to a minimum.

Keep a Maintenance Fund

Set aside a little bit of money each month to put in a maintenance fund. This will help immensely when the inevitable maintenance issue pops up that requires professional attention.

Do Periodic Walkthroughs

Do walkthroughs from time to time to inspect your home and make sure everything’s shipshape. Don’t forget to do the same for your home’s exterior! Not all home maintenance issues happen inside the home. Check for things like dry rot, missing or broken roof shingles, signs of termites, etc.

Unplug What’s Not in Use

Chargers for phones and other electronic devices can be power suckers even when the device is not plugged in. If you’re not actively charging or using an electronic device, unplug the charger from the wall.

Use Less Lighting

Turn off lights in unoccupied areas of the house. Use natural light or smaller lamps whenever possible.  

Clean Refrigerator Coils

Even the best, most efficient Energy Star-rated refrigerator can be an energy sucker if it’s not maintained properly. Grit and gunk can collect on your fridge’s condenser coils, putting the hardworking appliance into overdrive and leading to sky-high energy bills. Use a vacuum cleaner with a crevice-friendly attachment to suck up that yucky stuff from the coils and improve your fridge’s energy efficiency.

 

How-To Tuesday: Overhaul Your Closet in a Weekend

Your closet deserves a little love, just like the rest of your house. While it’s probably not the first space that pops into your mind when you think of home design, your closet is the perfect place to show off your personal style. Since you’re likely the only one who sees it on a daily basis, you can go as bold, as soft and feminine, or as stark and minimalist as you want with this space. Set aside a weekend to overhaul your closet using these easy tips, and enjoy a little piece of happiness every time you put away your laundry or choose your outfit for the day.

Ditch the Doors

One of the best things you can do to help keep your closet nice and tidy is to get rid of the door. When you can close the mess off from the rest of the house, it’s easy to just toss things into the closet and seal it from any prying eyes. But that’s the habit we want to break. Taking closet doors off means you won’t be able to shield yourself from the mess anymore. It’ll help you stay motivated to clean and organize your closet and keep it that way for good.

Add Some Color

You might not think of the closets when you set out to paint your home’s interior, but don’t skip them! If you don’t have plans to paint the rest of your walls anytime soon and your closet needs a reboot, amp it up with a fresh coat of paint. Choose white to make a dark space feel brighter and make your colorful clothes and accessories the center of attention. If white feels too plain for you, choose whatever color makes you happy. If you love patterned walls, you might want to select one of the gorgeous modern wallpaper options out there. This is one spot in your home where you can be as bold as you want with colors and patterns without it overwhelming a shared space.

Test Some New Flooring

Since closets are typically small spaces, they make the perfect place to try out that new flooring you’ve been thinking about without spending much money. Install some hardwoods, try a bold tile, lay some removable vinyl squares, or just rip up the carpet and stain the concrete subflooring to test out an industrial look.

Hang Some Artwork

Your closet might not be seen by anyone else on a daily basis, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t deserve a little adornment. Some of our favorite Pinterest-worthy closets feature pretty artwork that might not fit in anywhere else.

Upgrade Your Storage

Go fancy with a storage system from stores like Lowes, Ikea, and the Container Store, or DIY it with just a few simple hardware store solutions. Add a second hanging rod underneath the existing one to instantly double your closet’s capacity. Hang some new shelves or use a bookshelf to store accessories like shoes and bags. Hooks on the wall make the perfect spot to hang jewelry and hats. Whether you buy a ready-made closet system, go fully custom, or piece your storage together using random finds, you’ll be so much happier putting your clothes away in a nice, organized space that makes you smile.

 

Friday Five // March 8th, 2019

Friday is upon us once again, which means it’s time for the Friday Five, our weekly roundup of five fun events happening in the Charleston area this weekend. Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day a week early (so you can celebrate even longer!), taste the best of Charleston’s food and beverage scene, dress up for a fun run, and more. Whatever you choose to do, the staff and agents at Johnson & Wilson Real Estate Company wish you a very happy and safe weekend!

There will be lots of opportunities to celebrate the 14th installment of the Charleston Wine + Food Festival this weekend. Fueled by a contagious passion for the people and places that make Charleston worth celebrating, this year’s festival will feature over 100 unique culinary experiences that will fill your belly and feed your soul. For five days, Charleston will serve as the backdrop for a gathering of top chefs, winemakers, authors, storytellers, artisans, and food enthusiasts from around the globe. From dinners, lunches, and brunches to signature events, cooking classes, excursions, and a large tasting experience in Marion Square, there’s sure to be something for everyone!

This Saturday marks the 16th annual St. Patrick’s Day Block Party & Parade in Park Circle from noon until 6pm. The biggest St. Paddy’s Day celebration in the Lowcountry features a parade at noon followed by a street festival featuring live music across three stages; street vending and fare from Olde North Charleston restaurants; arts and craft vendors, additional local food vendors; a Kids’ Zone with jump castles, face-painting, and inflatable obstacle course; a bungee trampoline; fire trucks; and the ever-popular mechanical bull. The party, parade, and parking are all free to the public.

Join Pet Helpers this Saturday at their Adoption Center on Folly Road to celebrate Mardi Paws, an Adopt-a-Bull Celebration! Save 50% on the adoption of any Bully-type breeds. Enjoy pizza brought to you by Papa John’s of Charleston, live music from Roadside Saviors, sweet treats from Kona Ice of the Charleston Islands, raffles, prizes, and so much more.

If you’re more interested in exercise than imbibing all weekend, you’ll want to be at James Island County Park this Saturday for the Hippie Dash 5k fun run/walk, brought to you by Palmetto Goodwill. The Hippie Dash is all about fun, friendship, and supporting a good cause, raising awareness and funding for people with disabilities. Far out dudes, hip chicks, flower children, and funky fidos are invited to don their best 1970s attire as they move and groove their way through a psychedelic 3.1-mile course around James Island County Park. Runners, walkers, children, and pups of all ages and abilities are encouraged to participate. Proceeds will help Palmetto Goodwill increase advocacy efforts to evoke change by spreading awareness regarding issues that those with disabilities face on a daily basis, including transportation, housing, and employment.

Head out to the Exchange Park Fairgrounds in Ladson on Saturday from 10am until 3pm for the Charleston STEM Festival, a celebration of science, technology, engineering, and math in the Lowcountry. The sixth annual festival is a highly visible outdoor event that provides an opportunity for engagement and exchange between children, teens, families, and local STEM professionals. This exciting and free event will feature 90 exhibitors who will provide hands-on activities, live performances, interactive demonstrations, and family-oriented STEM entertainment.

Should I Pay Down My Mortgage or Invest My Extra Cash?

Thirty years can seem like a really long time to be giving a large chunk of your paycheck to someone else each month. Being able to put that money into your pocket instead of your mortgage is such a nice thought, so obviously using any extra cash to pay down the principal balance on your mortgage is the smart thing to do, right? Not necessarily. There are many factors to consider when it comes to paying off your mortgage early. For example, you could invest that cash elsewhere for a much higher return on investment. We know, we know. You’ve always been told that putting more money toward your mortgage principal each month is the best thing to do. While it is a smart move in many cases, there are some instances where that money would do more for you in a different type of investment. Confused? Here are three reasons you should and three reasons you should not use your extra cash to pay down your mortgage.

Reasons to Pay Down Your Mortgage

Peace of Mind. Owning your home free and clear gives you a little more financial freedom and peace of mind. You’ll never have to worry about foreclosure because you lost your job, for example, and can’t make mortgage payments for a few months. And if you do ever decide to sell your home, there won’t be any mortgage payoff to make; you’ll have a large chunk of money to make a down payment on your next house, or simply buy it outright with cash. Paying off your mortgage could also help motivate you to become completely debt-free, which is always a good feeling!

Interest Savings. This one’s relatively simple to understand. Since you pay interest on the principal balance of a mortgage each month, the earlier you pay off your mortgage, the less you’ll pay overall. For example, say you have a $300,000, 30-year fixed rate mortgage with an interest rate or 4.5%, and your monthly payment is $1,520. If you committed to paying a little more toward the principal balance each month, say $1,820 total, you’d save almost $80,000 in interest and pay off the loan eight and a half years earlier. That’s a lot of savings!

Cost of Living Reduction. It’s probably safe to say that your mortgage is the most significant bill you pay each month. Eliminating that bill earlier than you have to means you’ll be able to live on less income, save more for retirement, put money toward opening your own business or even travel more often. Having more cash each month gives you the flexibility to live your life the way you want it and not be a slave to your mortgage.

Reasons Not to Pay Down Your Mortgage

Opportunity Cost. While it’s true that you’ll have more financial freedom in the long run, paying down your mortgage early ties up all your extra cash. Every extra dollar you spend on your mortgage is a dollar you can’t invest elsewhere. Therefore, if you have a low interest rate, paying more toward your mortgage might not make the most financial sense. You might be better off putting those extra dollars in a retirement fund or other investment that will get you a higher return on your investment. While you might be saving $80,000 on your loan over time, you might very well have the opportunity to make $100,000 if you invest in a different financial goal. Consult your financial planner to see what other investments are available to you for a better ROI.

Tax Breaks. Don’t forget that mortgage interest is tax-deductible. If you itemize when doing your taxes, this might be something you need to think about. You’ll be losing out on a deduction if you pay off your mortgage early. Additionally, if you choose to pay down your mortgage instead of putting money into a tax-advantaged savings account for retirement, you’d be losing out on that tax break as well. So if you contribute an extra $5,500 toward your mortgage instead of putting the same amount in a 401(K) or an IRA, you would be missing out on $1,210 in tax savings if you’re in the 22% tax bracket.

Lack of Diversification. When it comes to investing, putting all your eggs in one basket isn’t usually the best move. If you sink all of your extra cash into your mortgage, you’ve essentially just tied yourself down to real estate investing. If your home doesn’t increase—or even worse, decreases—in value over the years, what do you really have to show for your money? Your net worth won’t have increased unless you have money invested in other assets. You won’t have any liquid assets, which means getting money back from your investment will be a lot harder.

As you can see, just as with any financial planning advice, this is a decision that must be made on a case-by-case basis. Weigh the pros and cons and decide what’s most important to you. If reducing your cost of living and being able to retire early is more important to you than having liquid assets, then paying down your mortgage early might be the best choice for you. If you’d rather diversify and take a chance on higher-yield investments while continuing to pay your low-interest mortgage, investing your extra cash elsewhere is the better decision.

 

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