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Beth Jaworski


Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 28

Thrifty Thursdays #3 - How to Save Money

by Beth Jaworski

One of the best ways I know to save money is to shop consignment/Goodwill/thrift stores. You can find so many bargains, you will be amazed at how much money you can save. Many people say shopping at these types of stores are "too much trouble/effort/takes too much time". Somehow the same people who say that still find hours upon hours per year to shop in the mall/at department stores however! 

Great quality exists at absurdly low prices, if you shop at the right places. You really do not need to spend a lot to look like you did. I think many people would be surprised to know how little I pay for most of my clothes. On our recent cruise I received numerous compliments on a skirt, and on both of the dresses that I wore for the "dress up" dinners onboard. I had paid $10 for the skirt and $30 for one of the dresses, purchasing both at a local consignment shop (U-turn). And I paid $25 for the other dress at Divine Consign (a local traveling consignment sale). Grand total for all 3 items was $65, while I could have easily spent that much on just one item if I had gone to a boutique or a department store.

It is HIGHLY unusual for me to spend more than $20-40 for an item of clothing. (The one exception I have to make is for pants. Because I am 6'2" it is very difficult for me to find pants at regular stores, much less at consignment or thrift stores, so I do have to pay more for those.) I just went to Goodwill the other day and found 7 tops that fit well and that I liked. One even still had all the tags on it, so had never been worn. Total price for the 7 tops was $42! 

But don't limit your consignment/thrift store shopping to just clothing. You can also find seasonal decor, housewares, books, small electronics, lamps and furniture at a fraction of retail cost. When I was at Goodwill I also found an adorable Thanksgiving table decor item for $6.99 that still had the Kohl's price tag of $16.99 on it. And I needed some more baskets for shoe covers at my listings, so I bought two, at $1.99 each. I would have easily paid $7-$12 per basket at Target or Walmart.

And keep in mind that you can also turn your unwanted items into cash. When we moved and no longer had a place for some art, I sold it through a consignment store. Facebook groups are also another great way to sell things you no longer want or need, along with being a great place to find bargains as a purchaser. I have sold chairs and lamps that I had no room for in the new house through a Facebook group, and among other items, I have purchased a refrigerator, a kitchen island, a patio table and 6 chairs, and our front porch swing, all at greatly reduced prices. In fact I did not even pay $450 for all of those items combined.

Bottom line, you can save a lot of money by checking thrift and consignment shops and resale groups first. Why pay retail if you don't have to? Save that money instead! 

Thrifty Thursdays #2 - How to Save Money

by Beth Jaworski

Today's Thrifty Thursday Tip is to get a good cash back credit card. I do not believe in carrying any credit card debt, but I do believe in making my money work for me, along with saving money any chance I can. The right credit card can do both. You just have to make sure that you pay the balance off each month, no exceptions.

I personally like the Discover card for a number of reasons. First there is no annual fee. I will not pay for a credit card. Secondly, I get 1% cash back on all purchases and 5% back on purchases in categories that change quarterly. This January through March the 5% cash back was available on all purchases at gas stations, from April through June the 5% cash back was on purchases for movies and at restaurants, from July through September the 5% was on all purchases at home improvement stores and at, and now from October through December the 5% cash back bonus is on all purchases at department stores, Sam's Club and at Please be aware however, that the 5% cash back is limited to the first $1,500 charged on those purchases each quarter. What an easy way to earn up to $75.

I try to charge all my purchases and all my monthly bills (cell phone, internet, etc) to maximize the cash back bonus each month. Another feature of the Discover card that I love is that I can redeem that cash back bonus when making a purchase on, I can use it to pay my bill, I can donate it to charity, or I can redeem it for a higher dollar amount in gift cards from select partners. For example, I frequently redeem $45 cash back for $50 gift cards to Chipotle, Panera and Starbucks. This allows me to eat lunch at two of my favorite places for free. And remember my mentioning in my first blog that I also get most of the coffee I brew at home for free? My redeeming my cash back for a Starbucks card and then using that card to purchase ground coffee allows me to do just that.

A bonus tip is to sign up for the loyalty programs at any merchants or restaurants that you frequent. By doing this in combination with the free gift cards from Discover, I really am able to make my dollars stretch. How nice to get a free bakery item at Panera, or a free coffee at Starbucks, from making purchases with a free gift card!

Discover also has other money saving features I enjoy. They have "Discover Deals" that allow me to save even more money. Currently they have 198 merchants offering these "deals" for cardholders, ranging from 5% cash back on purchases to offers like $15 off a $100 purchase at, 40% off a $75 purchase at the Limited, $10 off a $25 purchase at JC Penny, etc. Discover also does not charge any foreign transaction fees, a real bonus when traveling.

A high credit score will allow you to save money too, by allowing you to get the best rate on your mortgage or car loan, and Discover allows you to keep track of your FICO score by reporting it to you monthly on your statements.

And in double checking the rewards on their website for this post, I learned that they also have a "Refer a Friend" program. If I refer someone to Discover and they get the card and make a purchase within three months of getting the card, both they and I will get a $50 cash back bonus! A nice feature I had not been aware of. If this post has made you interested in getting a Discover card, please let me know. I will register your email and then we can both receive $50. I also see on their website that they will double the amount of cash back earned at the end of the year for new card holders. That could really add up!

Of course there are other credit cards that have reward programs and some may be a better fit for you. I encourage you to investigate what benefits you are currently getting from your credit card(s) and also see how that compares to Discover and other cards out there. Make sure you are really maximizing every dollar you spend and that you are getting the best benefits for you. Here is a link featuring some of the best credit card deals currently available:

Looking forward to sharing more tips next week. 

Thrifty Thursdays #1 - How to Save Money

by Beth Jaworski
We just took a dream vacation last month to Europe, to celebrate my turning 50. We obviously spent a good amount of money on this vacation, but had saved for it for a long time. I do not believe in carrying any type of debt, other than mortgage debt, so always save for what I want before I buy (or travel). I realize this is not easy for most people. I was raised by a divorced mom who was terrible with money and as a result, we never had any! I saw firsthand what spending money you did not have could do to a person and vowed never to be that way myself. When I first moved out on my own, I was naturally very poor and had to watch every penny, so I learned to save money every chance I could and became very thrifty.
Luckily I found my passion in my 20's, selling real estate, and I have been able to build a very successful business. I also have saved for and purchased investment properties over the years that supplement my income. However, I have not outgrown my thrifty ways. In talking to people about saving money for things like a trip to Europe, it occurred to me the same thrifty ways will help you save for a house (or for an investment property). There seemed to be interest in my sharing tips to save, so I am starting this blog series "Thrifty Thursdays" here today.
Each week I will share one or two of my top money saving secrets. Use what you will. Hopefully some of these will make you think, oh yeah, I could really save a lot of money here. I will guarantee that if you follow all of these tips, and always put your savings into a separate savings account instead of spending it somewhere else, you will be able to afford a new home, an investment property, and/or a fabulous trip to Europe. You also will have the peace of mind of knowing you are putting your hard earned money to work for you. And the more you save, the more addictive saving money becomes!
Watch here each Thursday for money saving tips. They will go from very basic to hard core savings tips only a few are aware of. Here are the first two:
1.) Cut the cord on cable. I have NEVER paid for cable tv since I left college in 1987. In my opinion, this is the biggest waste of money there is. I am astounded when I hear of people paying $100-200/month for cable tv. First of all there really is not that much quality programming to watch, much less who really has the time to watch all that tv? Secondly, sitting in front of the tv is an unhealthy pastime, both for your body and your mind. Read a book, take a walk, go for a run, do some yoga, lift weights or ride your bike instead. All free and all will make you feel better than the tv. And because I know sometimes you really do just want to lay on the couch and relax by watching a movie or show, keep in mind that "free" tv has greatly progressed in the last few years. We get 40+ channels with our antenna. All FREE. Most tv shows are also available online, plus Netflix has tons of movies, past seasons of tv and cable shows and original programming for only $12/month. Eliminate your cable bill and you will save $700-2400 per year!
2.) Make your own coffee. I brew my own coffee at home every morning and take a "to-go" cup with me when I have morning meetings or appointments. I also brew my coffee in a good old regular coffee maker I got free years ago (yes I am too frugal to even spend money on a coffee maker). Often the coffee I brew is also free. And yes, I will share my tips on how to get free (or almost free) coffee in a later blog post.
Sounds so basic, but coffee really is a money drain. If you are a coffee house addict and buy one $4 coffee per day, 4 days a week, not including tax, you are spending $832/year on coffee. I also think I  am being very conservative here, in using only one $4 drink, four days a week. Mark works at the US Bank building downtown and he works with many people who buy 3 coffees per day, 5 to 6 days per week! That equals a MINIMUM of $1950 (3 cups at $2.50/day, which is probably a lot less than they are spending x 5 days/week x 52 weeks). And it could be as much as $3120/year ($4/cup x 3 per day x 5 days/week x 52 weeks). This is why buying coffee is so often used to explain the concept of compound effect. 
Again, I know these two tips are so very basic, but look at the savings. At the minimum you can save $1500/year by cutting out cable and making your own coffee. Depending on what you are spending on these two items, you could actually save $5,000/year or more! Definitely will pay for a vacation, or the closing costs on a new home. Happy savings until next week!

5 Tips For Buying a House in a Tight Market

by Beth Jaworski

You have probably read the headlines (and seen the Facebook & Twitter posts) so you already know that there are not a lot of homes for sale right now. At least not enough to keep up with current buyer demand. If you are considering selling your home, this is great news. If you want to buy a property right now, it is a little more troubling. Many buyers are currently getting a rude education through painful experience on how quickly the market can flip from a buyer's market to a seller's market. To ensure that you endure the least amount of pain possible, while successfully purchasing your new property in the current market, follow these 5 tips:

1.) Find the best buyer's agent for you. Notice I say for you. Interview more than one agent and find the one you feel most comfortable with. You want someone who knows the market where you will be buying, who will be honest with you and who has a good reputation among fellow agents. You also want an agent experienced in multiple offer situations and who will communicate with you in the method you prefer (text, email and/or phone). Lastly, they need to have a system in place to get you into new listings ASAP.

2.) Get a written pre-approval letter for the highest amount possible. Many lenders (and some agents) will tell you to get your pre-approval letter tailored to the property you want to purchase. Some loan officers do not even want to even put a dollar amount in your pre-approval letter and will just state that you are pre-approved to purchase that address. They will tell you this is for your benefit, but don't believe them! When multiple offers come in, they are often astoundingly similar. Sometimes the one thing that is different is that the first buyer  is pre-approved for a lot more than they will be borrowing & the other is only pre-approved for the amount they will need to borrow to buy the house. Guess which buyer gets the accepted offer?

3.) Drop everything to get to that new listing! This cannot be stressed enough. It will not always work, but sometimes simply being the first one in and the first one to submit an offer is what gets you the house. The minute you know there is a new listing you are interested in, you should schedule a showing with your agent.

4.) Make your offer as clean as possible. This is not the time to make the offer contingent on every test possible, nor is it the time to ask for closing cost credits or appliances the seller has not listed as included. For example, radon testing is a common contingency in my area, but not all buyers include one in their offer. To remedy high levels of radon, a mitigation system can be installed, usually for around $850. As a result, we see many buyers leaving this contingency out of their offer in a tight market, in hopes of gaining an advantage over any possible competing offers. (Of course the buyer then budgets $1,000 for radon testing and possible needed mitigation after closing).

5.) Put down as much earnest money as possible with the offer. We have all heard the expression, money talks. Sometimes it does! If you want it to speak for you, write a big earnest money check with your offer. Again, often competing offers are very similar and can be for the exact same price you offered. You don't want the only difference to be that the other buyer put down a nice earnest money deposit with their offer, and you did not. 

A great agent will have even more "tips and tricks" to get you the home you want. Please contact me if you would like to find out more. I love a challenge and have a great track record in multiple offer situations!

Property Tax Assessments - How to Contest Them

by Beth Jaworski

Many people grumble about their property tax bills, yet few do anything about them. One way to lower your tax bill is to get your property assessment lowered. As a property owner you always have the right to contest your assessment. I recently attended a panel made up of three local assessors: the chief assessor for the city of Milwaukee, an assessor from the city of Brookfield and an assessor from West Bend. It was very interesting to hear what they had to say. All three agreed that assessments are supposed to reflect market value. However, because the real estate market can move so quickly, both up and down, assessments rarely do reflect current market value. That can be okay however, as long as all of the assessments in the municipality are off by the same percentage. Uniformity is the goal. In other words, if all assessments in a municipality are 10% above market value, that's okay, as then all are paying taxes at the same ratio.

Often when you look at two comparable properties you find a large discrepancy in their assessed values however. That is a problem, as the owner with the larger assessment is paying more than their fair share. If you think your property is over assessed, it may well be worth your time to contest. If you are not sure of area market values, please contact me. I am happy to help and can supply recent sales in your area.

Keep in mind that you only have a limited amount of time to contest each year (deadline varies by municipality) but the sooner you do so, the better. You will need to contact your local assessors office and follow their procedure. It usually involves filling out a form (in Wauwatosa it is called a "Request for Review" and is available online) and then allowing the assessor to walk through your property. This makes many homeowners nervous, but if you do not allow the assessor through the property, you lose the right to contest your assessment.

The walk through can actually be a good thing, as many times the municipality has inaccurate date for your property. For example, in 2011 I contested the assessments of two of the properties that I own. Turned out the city had a much larger living space listed in the attic of one than was actually there. The other property also had an error in the room count. Both assessments were lowered and as a result, I ended up paying about $1,700 less in property taxes at the end of the year. Well worth my time and effort! Hopefully you will enjoy the same results.

Tour the Christmas Fantasy House this Weekend!

by Beth Jaworski

If you are not familiar with the American Cancer Society (ACS) Christmas Fantasy House, you are missing out. Each year, local designers decorate a beautiful home and transform it into a "Christmas fantasy". The public is then able to tour it for a small fee, and the proceeds go to help fight childhood cancer. 

This all began in 1993 because of Loretta Thomson. She was a dedicated ACS volunteer who loved both Christmas and children. Loretta wanted to share her Christmas collection with others, but sadly died before she saw her wish come true. For the last 19 years however, her friends and family and the ACS have worked together to make her dream a beautiful tradition, raising over 1.5 million dollars so far.

Elm Grove is home to this year's Fantasy House. To get there however, you need to go to Bluemound Plaza at 15800 W. Bluemound Road in Brookfield. There you can park and take a shuttle bus to the home. The house is open for touring this weekend, Friday 11/11 from 11 am to 8 pm, and on Saturday and Sunday, 11/12 and 11/13, from 10 am to 6 pm.

You will not believe your eyes as you go from one incredible room to another. The designers really do go all out and transform the house to a true wonderland. Be sure to plan on spending some extra time at the end of the tour in the lower level also. There you will find a sweet shop with lots of treats for sale, a memory tree, and a raffle sale with two rooms full of incredible gift baskets, decorated wreaths and trees, all donated and available to win.

My friends and I so enjoy touring the house every year, that this year we decided to also volunteer. Yesterday we worked the 11-2 pm shift and it was very rewarding to see the amount of people coming through. Imagine my surprise when the co-chair of the event told me that it will take 900 volunteers to run the house this year. If you enjoy touring the house this year, you may want to consider volunteering next year!

You can find out more information on the website, along with a preview of the (undecorated) house: Hope you can make it through this weekend. You will not be disappointed! 


The Milwaukee County Zoo - A Local Gem

by Beth Jaworski


Anyone who knows me, knows that I am an animal lover. I say this in the interest of full disclosure, as I could be seen as a bit biased when it comes to animals. That being said, I maintain that you do not need to be an animal lover to appreciate all the Milwaukee County Zoo has to offer.

The Zoo moved to its present location on Bluemound Road in 1958. With over 200 acres of parkland and over 320 species of animals on exhibit, it is no surprise that it is rated as one of the top zoos in the nation. One can view 2,275 different types of mammals, birds, fish, amphibians and reptiles here, more than the average visitor can see in one day. Luckily they do offer season passes; only $65 for a family pass that is good for 12 months! Quite a value.

Monkey Island and the Children's Zoo are popular attractions, and no visit to the Zoo is complete without a ride on the train. What I love most about the Zoo however, is that it is open year round, and that there is always something happening. Every summer we try to make it to Zoo a la Carte, a three day festival with live music (both local and national acts). Numerous local restaurants also set up booths throughout the Zoo, so it is also a great chance to try new places and to sample new cuisines.

​Many people don't know that you can actually camp at the Zoo! They call it "Snooze at the Zoo" and you must preregister for this special experience, only offered one weekend a year. Picnic on the shores of Lake Evinrude, sing songs around a campfire, and sleep under the stars (or in your tent) listening to the animals. How cool is that?

Holiday celebrations are extra special too. "Boo at the Zoo" is this weekend, Oct. 21st & 22nd. Visit a pumpkin patch with hundreds of jack-o-lanterns carved by volunteers and try to make your way through the Haystack Maze. Or wait until next weekend, Oct. 28th & 29th, and attend in costume! There will be trick or treating Friday night from 6-9 pm and on Saturday from 9 am to 9 pm. There is even a parade at 2 pm on Saturday.

Zoo Brew will be held on Oct. 27th, offering you a chance to sample beers from 18 different breweries, and Breakfast with Santa is rapidly approaching also​. Visit the Zoo's website for a calendar of current events: You will see on the calendar that there are many "Family Free" days, which always helps with the budget. Milwaukee County residents, with id, also receive $1.75 off admission every day, except Wednesdays. On Wednesdays Milwaukee County residents receive the reduced admission rate of only $8 for adults & $5.50 for children. 

​Hopefully you can see why I say the Zoo is a local gem. And if you haven't visited in a while, maybe this post will inspire you to stop by. There is always something to do and the animals are always happy to see you!


Why Get a Home Inspection? Especially on a "new" home?

by John Rocco


I hear the comment "Why should I get a inspection on a new home? It is under warranty and it's new." Anyone who does not get a professional inspection on any home purchase is taking a big risk on a big investment. I find most problems in the attic where it is out of sight out of mind. You say warranty? If you do not know what to look for what good is the warranty? Defects can take more than a year to surface.

Recently I was asked to perform a radon test on a new constructed home. The buyers felt no need to do an inspection. Well when I was at the home picking up the radon test I noticed a major defect. The plumbers cut completely through an engineered I joist, see photo below. This can be disastrous. Cutting the top and bottom cord significantly weakens the structure of the home. I was not inspecting this home and still noticed this defect. How?  Because I am a trained professional. This is also not the first time I have found this condition. I have actually found this three other times! Considering the fact that I don't inspect many new construction homes, this really concerns me.


 Why get a home inspection on new construction? This is why!


I have also found defects in the attics of new homes, such as missing insulation. I inspected a five year old home that had no insulation, there were measuring sticks, but absolutely not a speck of insulation  In another home the water heater vent was disconnected in the attic. It looked great on the roof, it looked great at the water heater, but it went into the attic and did not connect to the roof vent. This could cause severe mold and rot and could even cause death due to carbon monoxide poisoning. No warranty will cover that. Most people never go into the attic, so without an inspection will never know this condition exists.

Any new dishwasher is also a concern of mine. Plumbers install them without testing. I find many new dishwashers that leak. You may say hey that is under warranty and I agree, but will they cover the damage done to the flooring or basement ceiling?

Once I found poor flashing at the chimney on a new home and brought it to the buyer's attention, but the buyer did not do anything about it. Two months later the dining room ceiling was leaking. The home owner told me it took the builder six months to fix it. So yes, it was covered under the builder's warranty, yet the owners had to live in a new home for six months with buckets on the dining room floor catching water from the ceiling. The warranty unfortunately does not mean they will be there tomorrow.

I have found many other issues in new construction. If you are planning on buying a home that is old, new or "as is" don't make the mistake of not hiring a Professional Home Inspector. You can take that to the bank.

John Rocco

Pillar To Post Professional Home Inspection



23rd Annual Tour of Homes

by Beth Jaworski

Being both a residential Realtor and a Wauwatosa resident, I always look forward to the annual Wauwatosa Historical Society's tour of homes. The society has been organizing and holding a one day tour of Wauwatosa neighborhoods since 1989 and this year's tour is upon us. Running from 10 am to 4 pm on Saturday, October 1st, this year's theme is "Beverly Hills 53226" and all six of the homes on tour are located in the Swan Park neighborhood. (Swan Park runs from North to Center and from 92nd to Menomonee River Pkwy - more info on the different Tosa neighborhoods and a map of  neighborhood boundaries can be found on the city's website:

The tour allows attendees to learn about the architecturally significant details found in local homes, along with a glimpse into the rich history behind them. Advance tickets are sold at the Little Read Bookstore on 76th and State and at Wisconsin Garden and Pet on 85th and North for $14, or you can purchase tickets at 2324 Menomonee River Parkway at the tour for $17. 

I am especially excited about this year's tour for two reasons. Although I have helped as a sponsor in the past, this will be the first year that I will also be volunteering as a docent. I will be volunteering at the home located at 9605 Wilson Blvd from 2 pm to 4 pm, so be sure to come through and say hello. Secondly, I have just listed a gorgeous brick colonial right down the street from where I will be volunteering, at 9221 Wilson. This beautiful home could be on the tour, it is so special. Please view the listing at:

Also visit the Wauwatosa Historical Society's website, for more info on this worthy organization: Proceeds from the tour help the society continue it's mission of education and preservation. Hope to see you on the tour!


2011 Oktoberfest

by Beth Jaworski

It's Oktoberfest time!  Make plans to join your neighbors at the oldest and most authentic Bavarian Oktoberfest in the Midwest right here in Glendale, Wisconsin, located just minutes from downtown Milwaukee and a short distance from beautiful Lake Michigan. This Oktoberfest, modeled off the one held in Munich, Germany, is held on the four weekends following Labor Day, and is open Fridays from 5 pm to 11 pm and Saturdays from 4 pm to midnight.

Entertainment includes traditional German brass bands, Schuhplatter folk dancing, singing, yodeling, sing-alongs, dancing and authentic German food and drinks  for everyone. So get out your lederhosen and get ready to celebrate!

Admission is $4 in advance or $5 at the door and Parking is FREE! Also love that on Fridays all firefighters, police and members of the armed forces get in FREE (id required). For more details please visit the Bavarian Inn's website:




Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 28

Contact Information

Photo of Beth Jaworski Real Estate
Beth Jaworski
Shorewest Realtors
11622 W. North Avenue
Wauwatosa WI 53226
Direct: 414.844.1118
Cell: 414.520.8555
Fax: 262.782.1551

I hope that this website was able to assist in your search for a Wauwatosa, Milwaukee County or Waukesha County home, or for information about buying or selling a home.  If you need any questions answered, please do not hesitate to contact Beth Jaworski of Shorewest Realtors at or (414) 844-1118.  Have a great day!