Category Archives: Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh’s Housing Market

I didn't know Pittsburgh's housing market was so stable. Interesting on the affordable housing aspect.

 

Many of you know that I’m saving to buy a home. Well, kind of. It’s a long-term goal, but debt payoff is a priority at this very moment.

While I’m disappointed that progress is slow, I’m not all out freaking out. That’s because Pittsburgh is one of the most stable housing market in the country. Home prices are going up while I’m still renting, but they’re not going up astronomically. I have faith that I’ll be able to catch up.

And, hey, if this new tax bill passes both houses, there’s the real possibility that all the housing markets will be thrown into disarray. Maybe I’ll be able to snag a deal.

Kidding. I’d rather have a stable housing market.

Today I want to share with you some other fun facts about our local housing market–whether you’re looking to move here or just nerdily into personal finance.

We were okay during the Recession.

Remember when I told you that Pittsburgh has the most stable housing market in the country? That stability helped us weather the Recession better than a lot of other places.

I say this noting that if tragedy befell you, regional statistics don’t matter. I had people close to me lose a lot of money because of the crash–money that was directly tied to real estate. But in general, the region fared better than other places.

A major part of that is the fact that we’re not a boom city. People still judge us based on our past, skipping the city over for sexier alternatives.

Sometimes I take offense to that. But our housing market doesn’t. In fact, it hopes you’ll keep us a secret so it can go on quietly growing at a snail’s slow, but steady, pace.

We still have an affordable housing problem.

Rent has gone up since I moved into this place the better part of a decade ago. It’s part of the reason I’ve kept my family put; rent may have gone up, but because we’ve been here so long, we’re still paying less than the rates we’d find on the market.

I’m lucky enough that I can afford relatively healthy housing at this point in my life–even with the price increases.

Many people in my city can’t. As we slowly grow, we progressively gentrify. Our mayor was working on some innovative affordable housing solutions with the Obama administration, but since the turnover in the executive branch, that progress has come to a screeching halt.

Yet our housing is affordable.

If you’re coming from another city, you’ll be overjoyed when you check out the Pittsburgh rental market. We’ve got a relatively low cost of living, and housing is a major factor in that.

However, you have to keep in mind that while our housing is affordable compared to other metro areas, employers are generally aware of that fact. And they’ll pay you accordingly. Moving to Pittsburgh is unlikely to help you pocket the rest of a fat paycheck unless you’re holding onto remote work that factors in another area’s cost of living.

 

What is the housing market like in your city?

 

 

Disney on Ice presents Frozen #Pittsburgh

Wow, can't believe how cheap tickets are for Disney on Ice presents Frozen!

When we went to Disney World earlier this year, one of our favorite attractions was the Frozen performance at Hollywood Studios. A story where fear is overcome by courage and love is just plain winning.

And it’s Disney, so the production value was over the top. Elsa shot magic swirls out of her fingers as she sang her hallmark Let it Go, literally making it snow inside on a hot Florida day in May.

We’re super excited to have the opportunity to view another Frozen production–this time a bit closer to home, and this time, appropriately, on ice.

From November 2 through November 5, 2017, there will be seven performances of Disney on Ice presents Frozen right here in Pittsburgh at PPG Paints Arena. As if the location and content weren’t enough of a reason to get excited, the frugalicious part of you is going to love the price: tickets start at just $15!

Here are the showtimes:

  • November 2nd at 7p
  • November 3rd at 7p
  • November 4th at 11a, 3p, or 7p
  • November 5th at 12p or 4p

We’re really psyched to see the entire story play out on ice with over-the-top sets and effects (it will be like we’re really in Arendelle!), but on top of Frozen characters like Elsa, Anna, Kristoff, Sven and Olaf, you’ll also see some other Disney characters make an appearance including:

  • Mickey Mouse
  • Minnie Mouse
  • Donald Duck
  • Goofy
  • Snow White
  • Cinderella
  • Ariel
  • Rapunzel
  • Woody
  • Buzz Lightyear
  • Dory
  • Nemo
  • Timon
  • Pumbaa

Since the show is only in town for the next few days, you’ll want to hop on purchasing your tickets. You can do so at disneyonice.com or by calling (412) 642-1800.

Have you ever been to a Disney on Ice performance? Or have you been to the Frozen performance in Orlando? Would love to hear more about your experiences in the comments section!

Note: I am receiving free tickets to this event in exchange for promotion and a review.

Pittsburgh Programs Helping Women Get Back to Work

This is such a great resource! List of programs that help women reenter the workforce after a period away or a life tragedy.

There are so many situations that can lead to hardships in returning to the workplace. Divorce, becoming a displaced homemaker, being a single mother trying to decide between childcare or a pay check, or other life circumstances can make it difficult to get things like training, transportation and appropriate clothing to get you that job that you need to get back on your feet.

There are organizations out there that exist to help women get back into the workforce. Here are some of my favorites in the Pittsburgh area.

North Hills Community Outreach

Get scholarships and training to go back to school as a mom.

These people really do it all. They connect you with the programs that will best meet your needs–and they have a slew of programs.

Currently you can get hooked up with WorkAble, a program that helps people get in touch with a career coach.  From there your coach can help you get the training  you need along with information about job openings in the Pittsburgh area.

North Hills Community Outreach also runs Community Auto–a program that helps you get a used car at a seriously reduced price. There is usually a long wait line for this one.

They connect women in Northern Allegheny County with scholarships so they can get the education they need to get that great job.

They provide computer training courses which are particularly wonderful for displaced homemakers or those who may be mature and didn’t get computer training in their traditional schooling.

They can help you set up a basic financial plan so that you can live within budget and improve things like your credit report that will help your lifestyle overall.

Believe it or not, they offer even more resources than the ones listed above.  To check all of them out in depth, go to their website.

Treasure House Fashions

Get help getting clothes to reenter the workforce with Treasure House Fashions in Pittsburgh, PA.

Founded 16 years ago, Treasure House Fashions on McKnight Rd. is a gently used clothes store for women. Slightly more expensive than Good Will, the quality of the clothes is guaranteed and in season.

Anyone can shop here. Absolutely anyone. But the heart and soul of their business is helping women in transition or need.

Places like North Hills Community Outreach often distribute Treasure House gift certificates, which can be perfect if the expense of a professional work wardrobe is the thing holding you back from employment.

If you’re a single mother or a woman who is 55 years of age or older, ask about their SMART card which gives you a 50% discount certain days of the week.

Treasure House Fashions also holds bag sales every February and August–pile as much as you can into a brown Giant Eagle bag for only $20!

Pennsylvania Women Work

Check out these programs that help women in Pittsburgh reenter the workforce.

If you’re trying to get back into the workforce but just don’t see how it’s feasible, Pennsylvania Women Work has you covered in all areas.

First, there’s their New Choices program. This provides training in areas such as reading, math, computer literacy, Microsoft Office and career development. You also get one-on-one career counseling.

There are sites across the whole state, including one in Pittsburgh that will start its new season in the fall.

That’s not all the organization does. They also provide discounted transportation to those seeking employment or who are in career-training.

They have a clothing closet where, once referred, you can get free, fashionable clothing for job interviews.

They’ll help you write  your resume, do mock interviews with you and get you individualized job placement.  Childcare assistance is even available.

I know they’ve hosted a sort of job fair in the past where major companies from the region come with the goal of specifically hiring women. There seems to be absolutely no losing with this organization.

Jeremiah’s Place

Check out these programs in Western Pennsylvania that help women get back to work.

Jeremiah’s Place is a crisis nursery, but you don’t necessarily need to be in the middle of a crisis to utilize it.

Here’s the problem: in order to get childcare assistance, you have to have a job. Getting a job can be a challenge if you are bringing your kids along to interviews.

Jeremiah’s Place solves that problem by providing drop-in daycare services so Mom can go nail that interview.

They also provide services in instances of domestic violence, hospitalization, emergency respite and more.

The United Way

Need help getting back into the workforce in Allegheny county? This list of resources will help.

Check out your local branch of the United Way.  In Allegheny County they are able to provide you with transportation assistance, programs at local colleges that will fund your tuition, programs that subsidize childcare costs and access to even more agencies that will help you on your way to employment.

 

Know of any other organizations that should be added to the list? Please leave them in the comments!

Pittsburgh Money Blogs to Binge Read

Binge reading these money blogs, yinz!

Happy Monday, everyone!

Over the weekend, I had a chance to meet up with some great people from FinCon Pittsburgh–our local group here in the Ohio Valley–thanks to PenFed Credit Union. We hit up the Imaginarium and made it out of the escape room by the skin of our teeth!

Teamwork.

A few months ago, we had another meetup at a winery in Ohio so we could have good food and drinks with our Columbus friends.

I love these get togethers. It gives us all a chance to get to know each other a little better without being behind a screen. In Ohio we talked shop, drawing from each other’s collective blogging knowledge, and this weekend we had straight fun while working together on a task that didn’t include SEO.

I also love these people. They’re super interesting and create some great content. That’s why I’m going to take a minute to introduce you. You may know many of them already!

Amanda Page

Amanda started blogging as she was trying to get out from under a mountain of debt. She achieved her goal, and continues to write about personal finance as she pursues financial independence. She’s also big into creative writing, and she’s good at what she does. She finds ways to tie seemingly mundane financial occurrences to moments of deeper reflection.

Her most recent post is a great way to get a taste of her mad skills.

Eat the Financial Elephant

Mr. Elephant Eater recently retired–at 40 years old. That’s crazy, right?

Want to hear something potentially crazier? He and his family recently bought a house while they were on vacation. They had no intention of doing so before they left.

But they could. Because they’ve made different decisions with their money and lifestyle than others. Some early retirement blogs seem super unrealistic for your average worker and obsessed with money over—pretty much anything else in life.

That’s why I love Eat the Financial Elephant: it’s not that. This family has found a way to balance living a full life today while socking away a high percentage of their income for tomorrow. It’s inspiring.

Ntellivest

Brent Sutherland is a CFP who had a ton of experience in the traditional world of finance. In the past few years, he’s decided to buck the norm by starting his own business to help people reach financial independence.

You can tell his approach is different just by reading his blog. He takes stuffy money issues and and throws a little bit of real life into the mix. One of my favorite recent ones takes intentional living and displays how it helps Brent and his wife make career decisions.

Married & Harried

Mike & Em have four kids.

That’s enough of a premise for an entire book, nonetheless a blog–right?

But there’s moooreee! Their blog, Married & Harried, covers how they handle the madness of child rearing while staying true to frugal values. From organization to purchasing decisions, grocery shopping to productivity, they’ve got everything for modern-day parents covered in a very non-Mary Poppins way. Which is appreciated. Because since I became a mother, Mary Poppins I am not.

They’ve got a lot of great content, but Em’s most recent post on being organized and productive when all you want to do is sit around and binge watch Netflix is particularly timely for me now that I have a short-lived subscription to HBO NOW for Game-of-Thrones-watching purposes.

Smart Family Money

Cindy, the writer at Smart Family money,  is such a cool person. We come from different backgrounds, but as we were talking we realized that the people we’re trying to reach with our writing are the same: women who want to make the best financial decisions possible.

There’s a strong emphasis on family money management, and a lot of it is genius. Like how she figured out how to get free baby-sitting WITHOUT calling in Grandma.

Other Awesome People

Not everyone in our group is a blogger; Emily Yost is an SEO specialist and PR professional who does work in the financial services area, and Richard at Sawyer PF is a financial coach. They’re both awesome and add a lot to our group.

I already found out about one other PF blogger in the area since we met up this weekend. If you know of anyone else in Western Pennsylvania, Eastern Ohio or West Virginia, leave a link to their blog in the comments!

An Economic Appreciation of Lord Stanley

Reasons why you should respect the Stanley Cup and the team who won it in 2017--the Pittsburgh Penguins!

I’ve got to be completely straight with you: I am not the world’s biggest hockey fan.

Being from Pittsburgh, this is all but a sin. I’ve tried–truly. I will say that I enjoy the games much more when they’re live. We went to a scrimmage in 2013 near the end of the NHL lockout. When we were in Calgary this winter we even caught our hometown team play against the Flames.

FRUGAL TIP: Hockey games are waaaaaayyyyy cheaper in Calgary!!!

Live games are kind of fun, but I don’t know the rules and don’t mind if I miss a few minutes when I get stuck in the refreshment line.

Hockey’s Economic Contribution

What I really appreciate about the Penguins is all the good they do for our city. Unlike other sports, they don’t employ thugs. Their players are constantly giving back to our local community. And that lockout? It proved that the NHL is a major contributor to Pittsburgh’s overall economy.

In the recent past, the Pens have brought people in not just from out of town, but from out of the suburbs. You can frequently watch away games at the big screen in front of PPG Paints Arena, bringing more spending dollars downtown. And don’t even get me started on those insane victory parades—over 600,000 people downtown this year from what I heard!

My Kid is Every Other Pittsburgher

It also brings a lot of joy to my family. I’m pretty sure my eldest is with me and couldn’t care less about the sport itself, but my youngest has now watched the Penguins score their winning goal for the Championship two years running. It’s a fond memory with their father.

Tweeting n’at

One great thing about all this hockey success in 2017 is that fans can always stay connected, tweeting out pictures of Crosby with the cup and streaming the joy-filled madness on Facebook Live. Because we had oh, so many people staying connected downtown this year, though, we needed a little tech boost.

Verizon, who is particularly committed to the fans and the community, added eight small cells surrounding PPG Paints Arena this year. These permanent mini cell sites help bring additional speed and capacity not just for things like the victory parade, but also for any Pittsburgher who travels downtown.

Viewing the Stanley Cup

As a thank you for their generosity, the Penguins brought the cup to the Verizon offices so their employees could touch the challis that has bathed the babies of champions. In turn, Verizon was kind enough to invite my family out to view the cup, too.

It was really cool to be able to see my youngest, who has now seen legends hurl this very trophy above their heads after back-to-back victories, reach out and touch the cup, tentatively at first, and then giggling with glee after they realized this was the real thing.

Thanks to the Pens for boosting Pittsburgh’s economy and helping the least of us through your charity work, and thanks to Verizon for helping us tweet about it!