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    Advice, Living, Real Life

    Helpful Tips for First-Time Home Buyers

    Tips for first-time home buyers | Natalie Was Here | Lifestyle Blog

    I currently rent my apartment, mainly because I love the flexibility of being able to pick up and move, and it’s reassuring to know someone will come fix the dishwasher, sink, or other scary appliance when it breaks (which has happened…more than once). But, even though renting is a great option for Fritz and I now, we realize we’re not making a real investment. You’ll hear people say renting is the equivalent of “throwing money away” each month, and it’s true. When I think about how much I spend each year on rent, it’s enough to make me cringe…

    Many of my friends are starting to buy houses, which has encouraged me to think seriously about making the investment in the next few years. If you own your home or are currently in the hunting process, you know that buying a house is a different story – a completely different story. The journey can be long, painful and frustrating, especially if it’s your first time buying real estate.

    Before I make any big decision or purchase, I like to do my research and ask around. I turned to the best, most experienced realtor I know (a.k.a., my lovely mom, Nancy), for her advice to those starting the home buying process. Read below for some of her top do’s and don’ts for a first-time home buyer (I’ll be referencing these tips soon enough).

    Tips for a first-time home buyer | Natalie Was Here | Lifestyle Blog

    The Do List

    Take the time to review your credit report

    A strong credit score and financial track record can help you more easily obtain a loan and at lower interest rates.

    Get pre-approved for a mortgage

    It’s important to understand the various options available and become comfortable with an estimated monthly payment for budgeting purposes.

    Think about your lifestyle today and in the near future

    Will your home offer enough space as your family grows? Remember, your first home will more than likely not be your last.

    Make a list of the features you would like in your new home and separate into “must haves” and “would love to have”

    Consider number of bedrooms, baths, garage spaces, private office, etc. This will help you make choices if you have to compromise to fit your budget.

    The Don’t List

    Don’t rush into a decision

    Take the time to review the homes that fit your criteria, but remember to keep an open mind. The best fit might not be your initial choice.

    Don’t be tempted to go over your budget

    Make sure to factor in the down payment you will need, closing costs, property taxes, and monthly expenses so you can make an informed decision. Also, you will want to set aside a budget for cosmetic changes in addition to saving for entertainment and vacations.

    Consult the professionals

    A mortgage loan officer can provide you with detailed information in order for you to understand various financing options to make an informed decision. An experienced real estate agent with years of market and negotiating experience can provide invaluable neighborhood expertise and provide you with one point of contact to view all properties of interest and negotiate the best deal possible.

    Be patient and do your homework

    If you plan and follow these helpful tips, you will know when you see the perfect home. And hopefully, you will enjoy the home buying process along the way.

    Have you recently bought a home or are currently going through the process? What are some tips you’ve learned along the way?

    Thank you to M/I Homes for sponsoring this post. And thank YOU for supporting the brands that make Natalie Was Here a happenin’ place to be!

    I recently visited a model home in M/I Homes’ new community in Minerva Park (Westerville area) and was so impressed with the layout and decor. The community will be home to 250 houses, and pricing ranges from $212,900 – $249,900 — perfect for first-time home buyers. To learn more about the new community, click here.

    Keep up with M/I Homes on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

    Advice, Real Life

    Adulting 101: Things to Consider when Shopping for Insurance (+ a video!)

    This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company. I purchased my own insurance at normal prices and all opinions are 100% mine.

    Insurance. It’s something everyone needs, but you probably won’t hear your friends strike up a conversation on the topic at a bar on Saturday night. When I graduated college and started my first job in the real world, I knew nothing about insurance. Literally, nothing. And looking back, I really wish I did.

    If you’re in the same boat and don’t even know where to begin, you’ve come to the right place. I’ve asked a lot of questions and learned some valuable lessons the hard way. Scroll below to read some of the tips I’ve gathered over the past few years:


    Things happen. Fender benders and break-ins and trips to the emergency room happen. That’s why we have insurance. It protects us if and when we end up in these types of situations.

    When shopping for insurance, it’s crucial that you find the right plan that will cover you when you need it to. A lot of times, people go with the plan that’s the least expensive, but if you don’t have adequate coverage, this could end up costing you more.


    Peace of mind. It’s a beautiful thing. And when it costs roughly $15-$22/month (depending on the value of your belongings), it’s a no-brainer. I’m talking about renter’s insurance. Something I thought I didn’t need when I moved into my first apartment, but after most of my closet was ruined after a sudden stream of water leaked from my ceiling, I quickly realized I made a major mistake.

    So, what do you need to know? Here’s the 411: Most renter’s insurance is on a “named perils basis” which typically covers things like fire, vandalism, wind, hail, theft, and smoke damage. A Special Form, also known as “all risk” policy can protect you against additional perils than those provided under your standard policy, for an additional premium.

    You will want to consider adding replacement cost coverage. Without out this, your belongings will only be covered for their depreciated value. With replacement cost coverage, your belongings will be repaired back to it’s current condition or replaced with a new, similar item.

    You really never know what can happen, so if you ask me, $15-$22/month is well worth the cost.


    A couple months ago, I had the opportunity to attend one of Nationwide‘s Member Connections meetings at Coffee Connections in Hilliard. I didn’t know this at the time, but Nationwide has been hosting these meetings for over 60 years. The core mission of the Member Connections meetings is to give Nationwide members the opportunity to provide honest feedback and build relationships with other members and Nationwide leaders. It’s actually a really great idea when you think about it. And it made me wonder…why aren’t more companies doing this?

    First things, first. I loved that the event was held at a local coffee shop. The atmosphere was so relaxed, and I had the chance to grab coffee and meet with other members of the community and people who work at Nationwide. It was a great way to start the morning before I went to work.

    One of the key takeaways I learned from my experience is this: it’s so important to go with a company that listens to you. Prior to this experience, I thought of insurance companies as these giant, faceless corporations with long customer service wait times. My entire view of them changed that morning. I had a voice. I had coffee with people who have voices too and can implement change within the organization. They were receptive to my ideas. And I left the event feeling energized and excited. Everyone wants to feel heard, and Nationwide really listens.

    After the event, I had the opportunity to sit down with the team and share a little more about my experience. Take a look!


    Visit Sponsors Site

    Feature image by Erika Gene Clark Photo

    Advice, Career

    Quit Your Day Job and Chase Your Dreams

    If you’ve ever had a rough day at work (let’s be honest, most of us have at some point), you might find yourself dreaming of doing something different. Something that makes you feel more alive.

    But, what if you were able to turn one of your hobbies into a full-time job? Imagine waking up every day excited to do that thing you can’t imagine not doing.

    The good news is it doesn’t have to be this distant, unattainable goal. With hard work, determination and a little faith in yourself, you can make your dream a reality.

    And if you don’t believe it, just ask my friend, Autumn Theodore. She knows a thing or two about quitting a day job to chase a dream. She did it.

    After graduating from The Ohio State University with a degree in International Studies, Autumn worked in marketing roles before venturing out to start her own photography business, Autumn Theodore Photography.

    I sat down with her to talk about finding your passion and having the guts to chase your dreams, even when it seems scary. Read our interview below:

    What sparked your interest in photography?

    I was in college when a friend of mine let me play around with her Canon DSLR camera, and it was love at first click! I started thinking that when I had a “real job,” I’d buy my own when I could afford it. Two years later, I did buy my own camera – but to just use for fun. In less than 10 months, people were paying me for photography so frequently that I decided to build a website. The website, in my opinion, was the launch of my business. (August 15, 2012!)

    Quitting Your Day Job to Chase Your Dreams with Autumn Theodore | | Life and Affordable Style Blog

    When did you realize you wanted to pursue your passion full time?

    I remembered thinking that it was the most fun side hustle I could ever have. But I truly thought I’d never be able to leave my day job. It just seemed too hard. Too scary. But then I started spending lots of time with other people who were entrepreneurial, business-minded, strong, kickass people.

    And then I met Adam Lehman of The Wonder Jam, and he became my business coach. I told him I wanted to quit my day job before I turned 30 (which was 14 months away at the time) – and he said that was no problem at all.

    This was shocking to me, and I didn’t really believe him. But then after a few coaching sessions, I really believed him, and in turn, believed in myself. It didn’t take 14 months…it took four (to tell my boss I was leaving) and another four before I walked out the door of a corporate job for the last time. (And I’m still in my 20s!)

    Did you receive any negative comments from family and/or friends along the way? If so, how did you respond?

    Family has never been a problem – they are blindly supportive of what I do and I couldn’t be more grateful. Friends have never been a problem either – they’ve been so understanding and helpful. To be honest, I don’t get a lot of negative comments.

    Luckily, the things that do bother me are things I can fix by educating people on what it means to be a photographer/entrepreneur. Rude comments are usually made by people who are 1) negative always, not just to me, or 2) uneducated on the thing they’re talking about.

    Did you experience self-doubt before making the jump? How did you convince yourself to keep going?

    At some point, I jumped quickly from lots of self-doubt to no self-doubt, and I was actually a bit scared because I thought I needed to feel more self-doubt! Like lots of other people my age, I have a large amount of student loan debt which made me feel handcuffed to my day job. When I realized that all I needed were excellent processes and kindness to have a successful business, I wasn’t scared anymore. (By the way, processes + kindness = referrals. I’ve never done any marketing, and I don’t ever plan to.)

    What has been your proudest moment so far?

    It’s so funny because I don’t often feel pride. I’m kind of just in awe of the fact that I’m my own boss and I get to have fun every single day doing what I love, taking time for myself, and seeing friends and family more often. But there are two things I’m proud of, come to think of it: 1) working 7 days a week for 8 months straight prior to leaving my day job (this was hard, but it was necessary), and 2) landing a photography contract with Ohio State, my lovely alma mater.

    What advice would you give your 25-year-old self, knowing what you know now?

    On my 25th birthday, I’d say, “You’re going to start a photography business two months from today. It’s going to be fun and hard and rewarding and frustrating. But if you work hard (because it’s not just photography, it’s also web design, accounting, legal, education, marketing, publicity, copywriting, graphic design, and customer service), you’ll get to leave your day job and be your own boss. I know it seems hard right now, but keep going. Keep meeting people. Keep being kind. Keep learning new photography tricks. Keep figuring out who/what  inspires you. JUST. KEEP. GOING. It’s just going to take time.” And it did. :)

    What words of wisdom would you tell someone who is thinking of leaping into the unknown and chasing his/her passion?

    1) Do something you love. If you’re not certain that you love it, find something else. 2) ASK OTHERS FOR HELP. 3) Be patient. Be consistent but patient. It will take time unless you’re a biz genius in which case I want to invest! 4) Be kind. No one will want to support you or buy your product or hire you if you suck. 5) Listen to the “How I Built This” podcast for inspiration.

    Shout out to Autumn for being a true inspiration. To follow her on her journey, check her out on Instagram, Facebook and on her website

    Advice, Real Life

    Coffee Talk: The World Would be a Better Place if We Focused on Building Each Other Up

    Coffee Talk is a monthly series that dives headfirst into real life territory. Consider it like a deep conversation with a friend where nothing is off limits. Take a seat, grab your mug and let’s chat.

    I shared a post on Instagram recently and it resonated with a lot of people. And that’s probably because most of us have been here at some point. You might even be there now. I know I was.

    Story time…

    I used to work at a PR firm, and as much as I liked it, I wont lie to you, it was pretty stressful at times. One random Tuesday shit had hit the fan. Big time. I was tired. I was frustrated. And I lacked one very important thing: self-confidence. I shuffled into my boss’ office, closed the door and before he even knew what I was going to say, he pointed at a chair in the corner of his office and said, “Natalie, the opportunity chair is open.”

    The opportunity chair? Was this guy serious? Here I was, having the worst day of my professional career and he’s shoving some stupid, metaphorical chair in my face? (I quickly understood this was about so much more than a chair)

    That moment made me realize the sad truth. He believed in me more than I believed in myself. While I spent so much time doubting my abilities, he saw nothing but potential. Potential I was too afraid to face head-on and run with. It’s amazing what you can do when you have the confidence in your abilities and see yourself the way others do. It was a breakthrough.

    And it made me wonder…why do we choose to stand in our own way so often? Why do we hold ourselves back from being awesome? Think about that for a moment.

    Because, here’s the thing — opportunity is everywhere. Or, as my boss would say, “opportunity chairs” are everywhere.

    So, let’s promise each other something. Let’s promise to stop telling ourselves we’re not good enough or not experienced enough. Sure, maybe you didn’t go to school for photography or marketing or astrology or hand-lettering.

    You know what? WHO CARES.

    I know you have drive and passion (that’s probably why you’re still reading this post). And I know deep down, you know that, too. And the “but, I didn’t go to school for [insert dream career path here]” excuse? Puh-lease. Let’s be honest, you can learn anything on the internet these days. And you can also learn from inspiring individuals around you. All it takes is the guts to reach out. There’s plenty of room at the table for us all to learn, grow and do amazing things.

    So, what’s the moral of this long-winded story?

    (I know, I know…you’re probably like, “get to the point already.”)

    The world could use creativity and passion and big ideas. But you what else the world needs? More people like my boss, who are happy to build others up when they need it most.

    So, remember this the next time you meet someone just starting out, struggling to recognize his or her own potential. Take them to lunch and tell them they’re doing a great job. Sing their praises to hiring managers you know. Give them tips to help them grow, so they can then pass that knowledge on to the people they meet.

    The world would be a much better place.

    What is the best advice (i.e. wake up call) you’ve received from a boss or mentor?

    Got an idea for a future Coffee Talk topic? Send me a note at hello [at] nataliewashere [dot] com. I’d love to hear from you!