The only online publication for women in Greater Cincinnati
Authors Posts by Amy Scalia

Amy Scalia

Amy Scalia
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Publisher & CEO - Amy Scalia, a Cincinnati native, is the editor in chief and publisher of Cincy Chic. Send her an e-mail at ascalia@cincychic.com. From growing up in the cornfields of Harrison and getting a Mass Communications B.A. degree in the bubble of Oxford, to living on the NKY side of the river in Newport and then Ft. Thomas, Amy Scalia has embraced Cincinnati with her presence. Her major life accomplishments include: being a mom of two girls and a boy, a 2010 "40 Under 40" recipient from the Cincinnati Business Courier, winning the "Best New Product/Service of the Year" Award from the Cincinnati Chamber of Commerce and a national Web-writing award from ASHPE in 2007, a national feature writing award from ASBPE in 2006, and running three Flying Pig Marathons.

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Hearing about tax abatements, but have questions? Read on as we chat with a local mortgage expert to get answers.

For most homeowners, property taxes are a major expense. While property tax rates vary depending on where you live, they typically average between 1-3% of the home’s value each year. “Many people don’t realize that this recurring expense doesn’t go away when you pay off the mortgage,” says Ron Erdmann, Branch Manager of the Guaranteed Rate Cincinnati office. “Property tax is a perpetual cost of home ownership. That is, unless you have a tax abatement.” 

What is a Tax Abatement?

A tax abatement is a government tax incentive program that can reduce or eliminate your property tax rate for a certain period of time. Abatement durations vary, from a few years to more than a decade. Here’s a good overview of Cincinnati tax abatements — https://buildcollective.com/tax-abatement/ — and a more recent update on how those policies may change soon: https://buildcollective.com/tax-abatement-2020/

According to Erdmann, the purpose of these programs is to incentivize desired actions, such as more eco-friendly building practices (i.e., LEED certification) or to attract more buyers to a developing area. “For example,” he adds, “the new HOMEARAMA Walworth Junction development near downtown has homes that are Target LEED Gold certified, which makes them eligible for 15-year tax abatement.” Some cities offer tax abatements citywide, while others only offer them in designated areas. Some cities limit these programs to low-to-middle-income property owners, but many programs have no income restrictions.

Not Just for New Construction

Tax abatement programs reduce or eliminate the amount of property tax owners pay on new construction with LEED certification, but also for rehabilitation and/or major improvements. “It doesn’t have to be new construction. If you rehab an old house, you’re only taxed on the pre-renovation price,” Erdmann explains. “Norwood has a program like this, and Blue Ash has a version of it. Other areas and cities are starting to jump on it.”

You can buy a property that already has an abatement, or you can purchase an eligible property, make the required improvements, and apply for the abatement yourself. The first option is considerably easier, Erdmann says, because it means someone else endured the construction and all you have to do is move in, but both are possible.

This doesn’t completely eliminate your property tax bill, though. “You’ll still have to pay taxes on the value of the property before it was improved,” Erdmann says. “But the savings can be substantial.”

More Home for the Value

These tax abatement programs can bring buyers significant savings. Erdmann says it also allows buyers to get more home for the same price, or improve their chances of qualifying for a mortgage by putting a home’s total monthly payment within reach. Plus, he adds, property tax abatement can improve a home’s resale value for as long as the abatement is in effect.

“Within the city of Cincinnati limits — Hyde Park, Mt Lookout, Madisonville, etc. — property taxes are the same: 2.576%. If you go out and by a $750,000 house, property taxes will be $1,610 a month if it’s not tax abated,” Erdmann explains. “If you go out and find a house that’s $1M but tax abated because it’s LEED gold certified, that means you’re taxed on only $440,000 which makes your property taxes only $944 a month.”

To learn more about mortgage and tax abatement options, contact Ron Erdmann, NMLS 728342, Branch Manager and SVP of Mortgage Lending at Guaranteed Rate, or visit https://www.rate.com/loan-expert/ronerdmann. You can also contact him via email at ron.erdmann@rate.com or call (513) 609-4484. 

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Considering a refi to save on your mortgage, but have questions? Read on as we chat with our local mortgage expert to get answers.

 With interest rates at record lows, millions of homeowners are now finding themselves considering a refinance. And if mortgage rates continue to decline, even more homeowners will have a chance to save on their current mortgage by refinancing into a lower rate. 

There are many questions and misconceptions when it comes to refinancing, so we tapped the expertise of Cincinnati-based Ron Erdmann at Guaranteed Rate for some mortgage refi myth busting.

Myth 1: Closing Costs are Expensive

Depending on the amount of your loan, the value of your property, and your lender, you may not have to pay any closing costs out of pocket. “There are alternatives not everyone is aware of,” Erdmann says. “One option is to roll your closing costs into your new mortgage loan, which you can then pay off through your monthly payments. Some lenders can waive fees like lender’s title insurance and the appraisal fee, which will result in immediate savings. Other options come with substantial credits off of closing fees, which can also result in an immediate benefit. You’ll want to talk with a highly recommended mortgage lender about these options.”

Myth 2: I Shouldn’t Refinance Because I Might be Moving Soon

Possibly moving or selling sometime soon? Erdmann says that’s not a problem either. “Many people think it’ll take three years to break even with the cost of a refinance,” he explains, “but I find that many of the clients that I talk with will recoup the fees in well under a year. So even if someone decides to move a year from now, they will still have savings. If someone is looking to move in the foreseeable future, then it’s even more important to talk with a trusted mortgage professional because we can offer solutions and can help the client plan for the move. Clients don’t always think about key questions like, ‘How will refinancing now affect my ability to buy the next house?’”

Myth 3: If I Refinance, I’m Just Adding More Years onto my Mortgage

If you’re concerned that a refinance will push back your payment timeline, Erdmann says that’s not the case. “If you took out a 30 year loan three years ago, you don’t have to do a new 30 year loan. You can do a 27 year loan or a 20 year loan or a 15 year loan. If you are worried about increasing your payment, then you can always do a new 30 year loan but make extra payments. The net effect is that you will have a lower required payment, but you will still have substantial interest savings that you can use to prepay your loan even faster than you would otherwise.

Myth 4: You Can Only Refinance Your Mortgage Once

Erdmann says there’s no limit to how many times you can refinance your mortgage. “Average 30 year fixed rates in Dec 2018 were 4.9%. When average rates dropped 0.5%, then we refinanced clients with minimal fees that resulted in immediate savings,” he explains. “When rates dropped another 0.5%, then we refinanced a lot of our clients again. There is no downside to refinancing as long as you’re doing an accurate cost vs savings analysis.”  

For example, if a client has a $400k loan, and if they save 0.75% per year in rate, then they are saving $3,000 the first year in mortgage interest. “If it only costs $2,000 to refinance, then the refinance was a ‘win’ as long as they had the loan for at least eight months,” Erdmann says.

Myth 5: I’ll Have to Sign Paperwork In-Person

With many people taking extra precautions due to COVID and limiting contact to only essential activities, they may feel uncomfortable coming to an office to sign closing documents to refinance their mortgage. Erdmann says new technology protocols allow for a fully electronic way to sign documents. 

To learn more about Ron Erdmann, NMLS 728342, Branch Manager and SVP of Mortgage Lending at Guaranteed Rate, visit https://www.rate.com/loan-expert/ronerdmann You can also contact him via email at ron.erdmann@rate.com or call (513) 609-4484. 

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With All Souls Day coming up Nov. 2, we wanted to share some fashionable ways to remember loved ones after they’ve passed.

Cremation Bracelets
Was your loved one cremated? Keep them close to your heart every day with cremation bracelets for ashes. You can also make a necklace with keepsake pendant for ashes. These come in a variety of styles and materials that allow you to include a small pinch of cremains, burial soil, or other memorial item inside the jewelry to keep with you always. Some designs and materials also allow for personalized engraving.

Memorial Flower Jewelry
Have fresh flowers from a recent service, or dried flowers stashed away from one long past? Several custom jewelry designers and vendors on Etsy will make memorial flower jewelry for you to treasure for years to come.

To make these, you typically need about 1/4 of a rose OR equivalent if you prefer to use other types of flowers or leaves, to make one bracelet or necklace. For a rosary, you’ll need one full rose or equivalent if you prefer to use other types of flowers or leaves. To create a ring, only about one petal – or a petal from each flower if there are multiple types that can be mixed together once dried and crushed. Two petals are needed for earrings.

Remembrance Accessories
Cincinnati-based jewelry designer FENNO FASHION makes memorial flower jewelry as well as several other types of accessories, like keychains. Does it matter if the flowers are fresh or dried? Typically, the drier the better, so if you have fresh flowers, ask first. Most designers will have techniques and equipment that can dry the petals while still maintaining the vibrancy no matter the type of flower.

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See how the co-owner and doctor behind Performance Health Chiropractic + Acupuncture sought the help of a local life coach to double client traffic to her new business.

Dr. Kristen Wood, co-owner of Performance Health Chiropractic + Acupuncture, opened her own client-centric chiropractic practice last year in West Chester.  
Dr. Wood, co-owner of Performance Health Chiropractic + Acupuncture
The practice offers a unique blend of services, ranging from traditional chiropractic care and massage to acupuncture, dry needling and cupping.
 
“I knew the medical side of the business but not the behind-the-scenes side, the marketing, business strategy, goal setting,” she recalls. “Luckily, I met my life coach Melissa Kirkpatrick with Find Your Own DRIVE right before I launched the business and it’s made a huge difference.” 
 
Dr. Wood says she first worked with Kirkpatrick through a group coaching session. “I wanted to test out what it was like to be coached, learn from others in the group, and see if it made a difference,” says Dr Wood. “Turns our, it made an immediate difference and I knew after the group coaching I needed more, so I hired her for one-on-one coaching.” 
 
Dr. Wood says Kirkpatrick helps her with stepping back from the everyday grind to see the big picture, set goals and the steps to reach them. “For me, it’s the accountability,” she adds. “Normally, I wouldn’t be setting these goals — they would just be vague ‘one day I want to do’ kinds of goals, but Melissa makes me get specific on what, when and how, and then checks back with me every week on the progress. It keeps me very focused and motivated.” 
 
So motivated, in fact, Dr. Woods says her business has more than doubled – almost tripled – since working with Kirkpatrick. “It’s unbelievable, especially in the middle of a pandemic,” Dr. Woods says. “I highly recommend Melissa to anyone wanting to get clear on their vision and goals and actually accomplish them.” 

To learn more about Performance Health Chiropractic + Acupuncture, visit https://www.performancehealthcincy.com. To learn more about Kirkpatrick and Find Your Own DRIVE, visit www.findyourowndrive.com/contact.

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See how one local woman turned her passions into a profession that gives her the time and financial flexibility she and her family needs — especially now. 

Four years ago, as a special educator, Emily McNamara thought her lack of energy and poor sleep was just part of the job. A friend recommended using Shaklee products to help her feel better, so she did.  Little did she know, that would be a life changing decision in more ways than one. 

“When I took care of myself and got consistent, I was able to give more of myself to the things that were important to me — my family, my students, my friends, and my coworkers,” McNamara explains. “This made me even more passionate about my health and wellness journey. As a teacher, my professional passion has always been educating. I realized I could merge those two worlds by becoming a Shaklee distributor.”

Emily McNamara

At first, she started small, with just the goal of getting her own product paid for. “I immediately knew I wanted it to be more than that. I was enjoying it so much and it was growing quickly because it was truly helping people,” she explains. “I had aspirations of running a full-blown health and wellness coaching business ‘one day,’ but I didn’t know how to get there. Then I met Melissa Kirkpatrick and everything changed.” 

Kirkpatrick is the life coach, author and founder of Find Your Own DRIVE. She began coaching McNamara to get clarity on her goals, discuss strategy, and set weekly meetings to stay accountable to the progress. “Before I knew it, I was in a position where I not only launched that health and wellness company of my dreams, but I was now in a position where I could replace and exceed my teaching salary with it,” she says. “I took the leap, put in my notice, and my business is thriving more than ever.”

McNamara put these plans in place shortly before the pandemic began. “Especially now with COVID, I’m so happy I made this decision to make my health, family and passion for wellness education a top priority,” she says. “I’m literally living my dream life and I wouldn’t be here without the guidance, focus and accountability that my weekly coaching sessions with Melissa gives me.”

To learn more about McNamara, visit https://bit.ly/healthyVIP. To learn more about Kirkpatrick and Find Your Own DRIVE, visit www.findyourowndrive.com/contact.

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Check out a recap of the small and local businesses we've featured this week on our new sister page Spend With Cincinnati.

Cincy Chic recently launched a new sister account called Spend With Cincinnati. The goal of Spend With Cincinnati is to share how the public can still support small and local businesses during the COVID-19 outbreak. Below is a recap of what we’ve featured this week:

Doodleshine Design: Our doggies deserve to get dressed up too! How adorable are these accessories from @doodleshinedesign made just for your furry friends! ? They are able to be customized too! Head over to their website to get your order started today or DM for special request!

Kalu Lifestyle Co: Whose ready to help save our oceans and turtles!! ?‍♀️ @kalu__reusablestraws has created these adorable 100% food-grade silicon reusable straws! PLUS: they are BPA free, reef friendly, and vegan! They are perfect for both hot and cold drinks AND they have created a wider diameter straw perfect for frozen drinks!
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Head over to their website and get your order started to help “be the solution not the pollution” today!
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The T Squash Academy: Looking to get out of the house and try something new? Or love the game of squash and looking for a place to play? Check out @thetsquashacademy!! They offer squash for people of all ages and skill levels! Check out their website to see all they have to offer such as a men’s Thursday night league, private lessons, or even the junior mentoring program!

Mom ‘n ’em Coffee: Happy Wine Wednesday everyone! @momnemcoffee offers not only wine, but coffee, pastries, sandwiches, and more! Head over to their website to see all they have to offer and get your order started! PLUS: make sure to check out their amazing merch and accessories for making coffee right at home!

The Budding Florist: “My goal is to create floral arrangements that bring beauty to your home, to others, or your special day!” Ellie, owner of @thebuddingfloristcincy has had a love for flowers since a young age and is here to share her love with you! Whether a small bouquet for someone special, a house arrangement, or a wedding, she’s here to help! Head over to their website to order online or stop in the shop!

Libby’s Southern Comfort: In need of a little southern comfort this rainy day? @libbys_southern_comfort has you covered! They are open to serve you both indoors, outdoors, or for carry out! Load up on their delicious apps, sandwiches, and entrees today and don’t forget to grab a drink! Head to their website for more details and a full menu and let them “put a little south in your mouth!”

Beck + Call: Couldn’t agree more with this statement? @beckandcalldayton is a female-owned business brining you the latest and greatest on clothing, accessories, and home goods! They are currently temporarily closed due to Covid, but head over to their website to get your order orders in! Click the link in their bio to shop and help them promote/support women!

Juice Bar Anderson: Kickstart you weekend on a healthy foot with @juicebaranderson today! They create juices, smoothies, and food packed with fresh ingredients and nutrients! Plus they have shots to help boost your immunity, energy, and more! Text 859-307-2006 for pre-order and home delivery, order online, or stop in!
Open:
Monday-Saturday 9-4
Sunday 10-4

La Ofrenda: It’s Friday! It’s also national tequila day! @laofrendatequila is having some amazing specials to help you celebrate tonight! Join them on their patio for $3 El Jimador shots, $5 Ranch water cocktails, and $8 frozen house margs! What an amazing happy hour ?

Open:
Wednesday-Friday 5-10
Saturday 12-10
Sunday 12-6

Villa Mocha: Happy Saturday everyone! Get your Saturday morning caffeine from @villamocha today! Whether hot or cold, they have the coffee for you! Plus: make sure to try out one of their delicious bakery items like pies, quiches, and more!

Village Pantry Catering: Have a big event coming up? @villagepantrycatering is here for all your food needs! From parties, to weddings, and so much more they cater for it all! They even offer the ability to customize their menus to fit your exact want and needs! Click the link in their bio to head to their website and see all their services offered!

Curious Concoctions: @curiousconcoctions5 is dedicated to creating clean and non-toxic skincare products made just for you! All products are handmade with local ingredients! From soaps, to body lotion, to even room sprays, they have it all! Head to their website to see all their amazing products and get your order started today! PLUS: they offer FREE SHIPPING on all orders $25 and over!

Marigold & Co: Happy Monday everyone! Add some greenery into your life this week with @cincyscrazyplantlady ? from small pots to hanging plants to even standing trees, she has it all!
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Check out their page for the latest being sold and fill your home with some new plant babies!
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