One of the lessons Iâve learned as I continue to work my way out of debt is that you need to treat yourself and celebrate your little successes along the way so you can avoid debt fatigue down the road. Celebrating small milestones, like getting another $1,000 knocked off your debt total, starting to put money aside for retirement or paying off a credit card balance, is important for both your sanity and your familyâs sanity.
Find out now: How much money do I need to save for retirement?
I donât have kids, but several of my personal finance blogger friends do, and they have talked about how kids donât always understand how they can contribute to the family financial goals since they donât earn any money. Plus, sometimes kids donât understand why there is a sudden need to cut back on expenses they have come to know as normal- things like going out to eat or having a night out at the movies with friends. Allowing yourself and your family to celebrate your financial wins as you work your way out of debt will help them understand that while your family is now living on a different budget, itâs still okay to enjoy the present.
With that in mind, here are five frugal ways you can celebrate your financial successes, so you donât erase all your progress!
1. Go out for Dessert
As a kid, whenever weâd go out for dessert after a home-cooked meal, it felt like a real fancy treat. Now I know that this was mom and dadâs way of having a celebration without spending a lot of money on paying for a whole meal.
2. Rent a Movie
This may not seem like a treat if you rent movies all the time, but if you are living on a very strict budget and donât often rent movies, this could be a treat for you and your family. Make it the full experience â popcorn, candy, etc. Renting a movie and making popcorn at home is a fun way to celebrate, and itâs still a lot cheaper than going to the theater.
12 Affordable Ways to Have Fun on a Tight Budget
3. Hit a Matinee
Wait, didnât I just say to avoid the theater to save money? Yes, but sometimes movie theaters offer cheaper matinee movies earlier in the day. Often showings before noon can be as little as half price. This is a more budget-friendly way to enjoy a new movie.
4. Buy a Book or Magazine
One of the first things that got cut from my budget when I started focusing on financial goals was my magazine subscription. Most of the time I donât miss it as I have plenty of things to keep me busy, but sometimes itâs nice to somewhat mindlessly flip through a magazine in the evenings. Buying yourself a new book â maybe one of these investing books â or magazine is a fairly cheap way to entertain yourself and if itâs a rare occasion, it can serve as a reward too.
Frugal Summer Fun for Adults
5. Go on a Day Trip
If you arenât traveling too far, the most expensive part of the trip is usually the overnight accommodations. By taking a day trip instead to the beach or somewhere else, you can get out of town and away from the norm without having to shell out for an expensive hotel room.
What other frugal ways can you think of to celebrate your debt successes?
According to the Census Bureau, almost 20 million renters allocate at least 30% of their household income towards rent, indicating that they are housing cost-burdened. This can be especially true in larger cities where the cost of living is higher. And if time is money, then many Americans will have to resort to working longer hours to make ends meet without having to use up any existing emergency funds.
In this study, SmartAsset measured the hours of work needed to pay rent in the 25 largest cities in the U.S. To determine our estimates, we considered data on the following metrics: average annual take-home pay, average hours worked per year and median monthly rent. For details on our data sources and how we put all the information together to create our final rankings, check out the Data and Methodology section below.
This is SmartAssetâs fourth annual study on the hours of work needed to pay rent. Check out the 2020 version here.
56.6 hours.The average number of work hours needed to pay rent across the largest 25 U.S. cities is 56.6. In the six cities at the top of our list, renters must work at least 6% longer to pay rent alone. It takes more than 60 hours of work in all six cities to cover average rental costs.
California cities stay at the very top, but Los Angeles drops for the first time in recent years. In every version of this study since 2018, the three cities where the average worker needs to work the most to pay rent have been as follows: San Jose, Los Angeles and San Diego, California â in that order. In this yearâs study, however, San Diego jumps to the No. 2 spot and Los Angeles drops to No. 3.
1. San Jose, CA
In San Jose, California, it takes more than 76 hours of work on average to pay median monthly rent, which is $2,223 or almost $26,700 per year. The median worker earns $41,419 after taxes, with an estimated hourly wage of about $29.
2. San Diego, CA
The average annual take-home pay in San Diego, California is $34,157, or an hourly wage of less than $25. According to our estimates, the average worker in this city would need to work almost 74 hours to be able to pay a monthâs rent, which is $1,806.
3. Los Angeles, CA
In Los Angeles, California, the average worker needs to clock almost 73 hours to cover median monthly rent, which is $1,554. The average number of hours worked in the city is about 38 hours per week, which means that it would take this person almost two weeks to cover that total amount of time. The average worker in Los Angeles earns $34,669 before taxes and takes home about $28,815 â or a little more than $21 per hour.
4. Boston, MA
In Boston, Massachusetts, the average worker earns $35,800 after taxes, or about $25 an hour. The median monthly rent in Boston is $1,735, which means residents there will have to work more than 69 hours to pay for a monthâs rent. At an average of about 38 hours worked per week in Boston, it would take nearly 13 days for a worker to cover this amount.
5. New York, NY
New York City has the fifth-highest number of hours needed to pay rent across the 25 largest cities in this study. With a median monthly rent in the city of $1,483, a worker person would have to work 62.0 hours to cover rent. The average worker in New York earns $42,326 and takes home $32,608 after taxes, or $23.90 per hour.
6. San Francisco, CA
In San Francisco, California the median monthly rent is $1,959. This is the second-highest monthly rent amount across all 25 cities in our study, following only San Jose, California. The average worker in the city earns about $32 per hour, or $51,548 after taxes. This means that the worker would have to work 61.2 hours to cover rental costs. At an average of 40.2 hours worked per week in San Francisco, it would take this worker about a week and a half to do so.
7. Denver, CO
In order to cover the costs of the average rental apartment or home in Denver, Colorado, the average worker would need to work almost 60 hours. The median monthly rent in Denver is $1,433. The average worker in Denver earns $47,146 before taxes, with a take-home pay of $37,922 or $23.92 an hour.
8. Nashville, TN
The median monthly rent in Nashville, Tennessee is $1,191 or $14,292 per year. With the average worker there earning $31,889 after taxes or $20.77 per hour, it would take him or her approximately 57 hours of work to cover the cost of rent each month.
9. Austin, TX
The average worker in Austin, Texas earns $42,416 and takes home $35,739 or $23.34 per hour. Monthly rent costs in Austin reach $1,334 per month, or $16,008 per year. At that rate, it would take this worker more than 57 hours to cover rental costs.
10. Charlotte, NC
Median earnings for a worker in Charlotte, North Carolina are $38,528. This worker would take home $31,118 or $20.61 an hour. Charlotte has the lowest median monthly rent across the 10 cities on this list, at $1,174, resulting in a total annual rent of $14,088. To be able to pay for a monthâs rent in Charlotte, the average worker would have to work 57 hours.
Data and Methodology
To find out how many hours of work are needed to pay rent in the 25 largest cities in the U.S., we looked at data on the following three metrics:
Average annual take-home pay. This is the average workerâs earnings after accounting for income taxes. To find out how much each worker would pay in income taxes, we ran median workerâs earnings data through our income tax calculator. We assumed the average worker would contribute nothing to an IRA or 401(k), take the standard deduction and file as a single filer. Earnings data comes from the U.S. Census Bureauâs 2019 1-year American Community Survey.
Average hours worked per year. This is the number of weeks worked per year multiplied by the number of hours worked per week. Data comes from the U.S. Census Bureauâs 2019 1-year American Community Survey.
Median monthly rent. Data comes from the U.S. Census Bureauâs 2019 1-year American Community Survey.
First, we found the average hourly wage for each worker by dividing average annual take-home pay by average hours worked per year. Then we divided the monthly median monthly rent by the average hourly wage. This resulted in the average hours of work needed to pay a monthâs rent. Finally, we ordered the cities from highest to lowest based on the average number of hours needed to pay rent.
Tips for Managing Your Savings
How much are you really taking home? When budgeting how much to allocate to needs, wants and savings, itâs important to know how much youâre actually starting with. Use SmartAssetâs paycheck calculator to find out your post-tax earnings.
Budgeting is key. If the cost of living in an area is high and moving is not an option, consider using our online budget tool to make sure your expenses are all covered.
401(k) matching. Taking advantage of a 401(k) employer match program is an ideal way to build your retirement savings faster. When considering a new job always review the retirement plan offerings to be sure that itâs the right one for your needs.
Expert financial advice. You already work hard to make ends meet, so why put in any more hours than you need to in order to get expert help with your assets? Finding the right financial advisor doesnât have to be hard. SmartAssetâs free tool matches you with financial advisors in your area in five minutes. If youâre ready to be matched with local advisors that will help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.
Questions about our study? Contact email@example.com.
Could logging in to your computer from a deluxe treehouse off the coast of Belize be the future of work? Maybe. For many, the word freelance means flexibility, meaningful tasks and better work-life balance. Who doesn’t want to create their own hours, love what they do and work from wherever they want? Freelancing can provide all of thatâbut that freedom can vanish quickly if you don’t handle your expenses correctly.
“A lot of the time, you don’t know about these expenses until you are in the trenches,” says freelance copywriter Alyssa Goulet, “and that can wreak havoc on your financial situation.”
Nearly 57 million people in the U.S. freelanced, or were self-employed, in 2019, according to Upwork, a global freelancing platform. Freelancing is also increasingly becoming a long-term career choice, with the percentage of freelancers who freelance full-time increasing from 17 percent in 2014 to 28 percent in 2019, according to Upwork. But for all its virtues, the cost of being freelance can carry some serious sticker shock.
“There are many hats you have to wear and expenses you have to take on, but for that you’re gaining a lot of opportunity and flexibility in your life.”
Most people who freelance for the first time don’t realize that everythingâfrom taxes to office supplies to setting up retirement plansâis on them. So, before you can sustain yourself through self-employment, you need to answer a very important question: “Are you financially ready to freelance?”
What you’ll find is that budgeting as a freelancer can be entirely manageable if you plan for the following key costs. Let’s start with one of the most perplexingâtaxes:
1. Taxes: New rules when working on your own
First things first: Don’t try to be a hero. When determining how to budget as a freelancer and how to manage your taxes as a freelancer, you’ll want to consult with a financial adviser or tax professional for guidance. A tax expert can help you figure out what makes sense for your personal and business situation.
For instance, just like a regular employee, you will owe federal income taxes, as well as Social Security and Medicare taxes. When you’re employed at a regular job, you and your employer each pay half of these taxes from your income, according to the IRS. But when you’re self-employed (earning more than $400 a year in net income), you’re expected to file and pay these expenses yourself, the IRS says. And if you think you will owe more than $1,000 in taxes for a given year, you may need to file estimated quarterly taxes, the IRS also says.
That can feel like a heavy hit when you’re not used to planning for these costs. “If you’ve been on a salary, you don’t think about taxes really. You think about the take-home pay. With freelance, everything is take-home pay,” says Susan Lee, CFPÂ®, tax preparer and founder of FreelanceTaxation.com.
When you’re starting to budget as a freelancer and determining how often you will need to file, Lee recommends doing a “dummy return,” which is an estimation of your self-employment income and expenses for the year. You can come up with this number by looking at past assignments, industry standards and future projections for your work, which freelancer Goulet finds valuable.
“Since I don’t have a salary or a fixed number of hours worked per month, I determine the tax bracket I’m most likely to fall into by taking my projected monthly income and multiplying it by 12,” Goulet says. “If I experience a big income jump because of a new contract, I redo that calculation.”
After you estimate your income, learning how to budget as a freelancer means working to determine how much to set aside for your tax payments. Lee, for example, recommends saving about 25 percent of your income for paying your income tax and self-employment tax (which funds your Medicare and Social Security). But once you subtract your business expenses from your freelance income, you may not have to pay that entire amount, according to Lee. Deductible expenses can include the mileage you use to get from one appointment to another, office supplies and maintenance and fees for a coworking space, according to Lee. The income left over will be your taxable income.
To set aside the taxes you will need to pay, adjust your estimates often and always round up. “Let’s say in one month a freelancer determines she would owe $1,400 in tax. I’d put away $1,500,” Goulet says.
2. Business expenses: Get a handle on two big areas
The truth is, the cost of being freelance varies from person to person. Some freelancers are happy to work from their kitchen tables, while others need a dedicated workspace. Your freelance costs also change as you add new tools to your business arsenal. Here are two categories you’ll always need to account for when budgeting as a freelancer:
Joining a coworking space gets you out of the house and allows you to establish the camaraderie you may miss when you work alone. When you’re calculating the cost of being freelance, note that coworking spaces may charge membership dues ranging from $20 for a day pass to hundreds of dollars a month for a dedicated desk or private office. While coworking spaces are all the rage, you can still rent a traditional office for several hundred dollars a month or more, but this fee usually doesn’t include community aspects or other membership perks.
If you want to avoid office rent or dues as costs of being freelance but don’t want the kitchen table to pull double-duty as your workspace, you might convert another room in your home into an office. But you’ll still need to outfit the space with all of your work essentials. Freelance copywriter and content strategist Amy Hardison retrofitted part of her house into a simple office. “I got a standing desk, a keyboard, one of those adjustable stands for my computer and a squishy mat to stand on so my feet don’t hurt,” Hardison says.
Start with the absolute necessities. When Hardison first launched her freelance career, she purchased a laptop for $299. She worked out of a coworking space and used its office supplies before creating her own workspace at home.
There are a range of digital tools, including business and accounting software, that can help with the majority of your business functions. A big benefit is the time they can save you that is better spent marketing to clients or producing great work.
The software can also help you avoid financial lapses as you’re managing the costs of being freelance. Hardison’s freelance business had ramped up to a point where a manual process was costing her money, so using an invoicing software became a no-brainer. “I was sending people attached document invoices for a while and keeping track of them in a spreadsheet,” Hardison says. “And then I lost a few of them and I just thought, ‘Oh, my God, I can’t be losing things. This is my income!’”
Digital business and software tools can help manage scheduling, web hosting, accounting, audio/video conference and other functions. When you’re determining how to budget as a freelancer, note that the costs for these services depend largely on your needs. For instance, several invoicing platforms offer options for as low as $9 per month, though the cost increases the more clients you add to your account. Accounting services also scale up based on the features you want and how many clients you’re tracking, but you can find reputable platforms for as little as $5 a month.
When you sign up for a service, start with the “freemium” version, in which the first tier of service is always free, Hardison says. Once you have enough clients to warrant the expense, upgrade to the paid level with the lowest cost. Gradually adding services will keep your expenses proportionate to your income.
3. Health insurance: Harnessing an inevitable cost
Budgeting for healthcare costs can be one of the biggest hurdles to self-employment and successfully learning how to budget as a freelancer. In the first half of the 2020 open enrollment period, the average monthly premium under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) for those who do not receive federal subsidiesâor a reduced premium based on incomeâwas $456 for individuals and $1,134 for families, according to eHealth, a private online marketplace for health insurance.
“Buying insurance is really protecting against that catastrophic event that is not likely to happen. But if it does, it could throw everything else in your plan into a complete tailspin,” says Stephen Gunter, CFPÂ®, at Bridgeworth Financial.
A good place to start when budgeting as a freelancer is knowing what healthcare costs you should budget for. Your premiumâwhich is how much you pay each month to have your insuranceâis a key cost. Note that the plans with the lowest premiums aren’t always the most affordable. For instance, if you choose a high-deductible policy you may pay less in premiums, but if you have a claim, you may pay more at the time you or your covered family member’s health situation arises.
When you are budgeting as a freelancer, the ACA healthcare marketplace is one place to look for a plan. Here are a few other options:
Spouse or domestic partner’s plan: If your spouse or domestic partner has health insurance through his/her employer, you may be able to get coverage under their plan.
COBRA: If you recently left your full-time job for self-employment, you may be able to convert your employer’s group plan into an individual COBRA plan. Note that this type of plan comes with a high expense and coverage limit of 18 months.
Organizations for freelancers: Search online for organizations that promote the interests of independent workers. Depending on your specific situation, you may find options for health insurance plans that fit your needs.
Speak with an insurance adviser who can help you figure out which plans are best for your health needs and your budget. An adviser may be willing to do a free consultation, allowing you to gather important information before making a financial commitment.
4. Retirement savings: Learn to “set it and forget it”
Part of learning how to budget as a freelancer is thinking long term, which includes saving for retirement. That may seem daunting when you’re wrangling new business expenses, but Gunter says saving for the future is a big part of budgeting as a freelancer.
“It’s kind of the miracle of compound interest. The sooner we can get it invested, the sooner we can get it saving,” Gunter says.
He suggests going into autopilot and setting aside whatever you would have contributed to an employer’s 401(k) plan. One way to do this might be setting up an automatic transfer to your savings or retirement account. “So, if you would have put in 3 percent [of your income] each month, commit to saving that 3 percent on your own,” Gunter says. The Discover IRA Certificate of Deposit (IRA CD) could be a good fit for helping you enjoy guaranteed returns in retirement by contributing after-tax (Roth IRA CD) or pre-tax (traditional IRA CD) dollars from your income now.
Prioritize retirement savings every month, not just when you feel flush. “Saying, ‘I’ll save whatever is left over’ isn’t a savings plan, because whatever is left over at the end of the month is usually zero,” Gunter says.
5. Continually update your rates
One of the best things you can do for yourself in learning how to budget as a freelancer is build your costs into what you charge. “As I’ve discovered more business expenses, I definitely take those into account as I’m determining what my rates are,” Goulet says. She notes that freelancers sometimes feel guilty for building business costs into their rates, especially when they’re worried about the fees they charge to begin with. But working the costs of being freelance into your rates is essential to building a thriving freelance career. You should annually evaluate the rates you charge.
Because your expenses will change over time, it’s wise to do quarterly and yearly check-ins to assess your income and costs and see if there are processes you can automate to save time and money.
“A lot of the time, you don’t know about these expenses until you are in the trenches, and that can wreak havoc on your financial situation.”
Have confidence in your freelance career
Accounting for the various costs of being freelance makes for a more successful and sustainable freelance career. It also helps ensure that those who are self-employed achieve financial stability in their personal lives and their businesses.
“There are many hats you have to wear and expenses you have to take on,” Goulet says. “But for that, you’re gaining a lot of opportunity and flexibility in your life.”
The post Everything You Need to Know About Budgeting As a Freelancer appeared first on Discover Bank – Banking Topics Blog.
The post The “Cashless” Cash Envelope System appeared first on Penny Pinchin' Mom.
You have probably heard people talk about how to use a cash envelope budget to save money and help you get out of debt. But, what if you don’t want to use cash? Does that mean you can’t use envelopes? Nope. Not if you follow one of the cashless cash envelope methods available.
If you follow any money advice, you are usually taught about using cash and implementing the cash envelope system. Â That is what I recommend here on our site.
As much as this is the perfect solution for our family (and one of the catalysts to help us kick-start our debt pay-off plan), I also understand this is not an option for everyone.Â Even if you don’t use cash, you still should budget and spend as if you do.
If you are just learning about budgeting, you will want to check out our page — How to Budget. There, you will learn everything you want to know about budgets and budgeting.
The way to do this is by using a cashless envelope system.Â It is how to use cash envelopes without using cash.Â The idea is simple, but there different ways to track it.
HOW DOES A CASHLESS CASH ENVELOPE SYSTEM WORK?
The idea is the same as the regular cash envelope method.Â You have a budget and need to ensure you don’t spend more than what you should.
Each pay period, you record the amount budgeted for each category onto your “envelope.”Â As you spend, you keep track of it.Â When you are out of money, you can’t spend anything else.
Using the cash envelope system without using cash can work – if you want it to.
WHY IS THIS METHOD BETTER?
When you are trying to get control of your finances, you need to know where you spend.Â The best way to do this is to track your spending.Â Not tracking after you spend – but as you purchase.
Most of the time, you swipe your card without worry.Â This action can easily throw your budget out of balance.
While using cash has emotion attached to it, tracking every purchase requires awareness.Â You are always watching what you spend and where.Â There are no surprises that you spent $250 on groceries when the budget was $200.Â You see it happening right in front of you.
The cashless envelope system works because:
You don’t have to worry about carrying or getting cash.
It forces you to track of your spending in real time.
You can see exactly where your money goes and make budget adjustments as needed.
The cashless envelope system forces you to be more responsible for your spending without the hassle of carrying money.
CASHLESS CASH ENVELOPE SYSTEMS TO TRY
When you are ready to try a cashless system, you need to determine which is the best for you.Â You can find one on your phone, or there is also a printable option.
CASHLESS CASH ENVELOPE APP
There are several apps that claim they can help you keep track of your spending with virtual envelopes. If you have found one that works well for you, then I say keep using it!Â But, if you are new to this idea – or want something new – the one I recommend is Mvelopes.
Mvelopes has three different plan levels, starting as low as $4 a month.Â You can use the one that best suits your needs.Â If you are new to the platform, I recommend starting out with the basic plan.
To start, you will add the app to your phoneÂ — or you can use their online site (which I love).Â Once you do that, you sync your various accounts.Â Make certain to include the cards you will use for your various categories.
For example, you may charge every purchase to your credit card to earn rewards or cash back.Â If this is you, you will connect your credit card.Â Some may use the debit card for some purchases and a credit card for others.Â Those of you who do this will connect both cards to your account.
Once that is done, you set up your online envelopes and add budgeted amounts to each.Â Then, you just swipe as usual.Â Every time you make a purchase, the purchase amount is deducted from your online envelope.Â With a couple of swipes, you see not only how much you have left to spend, but even where you spent your money.Â There is no guessing.
This system helps you give every dollar a job.Â You know where it will go even before you spend it.Â Using Mvelopes puts you back in control.
If you want or need even more help, Mvelopes has other plans that you can purchase.Â They offer the Mvelopes PLUS plan for $19 per month.Â This service includes all of the services available under the basic plan but also helps you tackle your debt.Â You even receive you a personal finance trainer who will visit with you once per quarter.Â This plan helps you set and achieve your financial goals.
Should you need more one-on-one help, you may want to consider the Mvelopes Complete package instead.Â You get all of the benefits of the Plus plan but receive your own, one-on-one finance trainer.Â This coach works with you to help you achieve your financial goals.Â You aren’t left alone to figure things out as there is someone right there, guiding you along the way.
As I said you don’t need to purchase one of the larger plans as the basic plan will meet most people’s needs. However, it is great to have these options available at your fingertips.
Related:Â Â The Best Apps for Your Budget
CASHLESS ENVELOPE PRINTABLE
Apps are great, but there are times when you would rather have the simplicity of writing something down rather than having to pull it up on your phone.Â That’s where the printable cashless envelopes come in handy.
These work in the same way as regular envelopes — just without cash.Â Print them off and keep them handy.Â Record the budgeted amount for that category at the top.Â Then, as you spend, keep track of it.Â Jot down every purchase and keep a running total of how much you have left to spend.
I get that it is a pain to keep track of “cents”, so I recommend you round up.Â For example, if your grocery budget is $200 and you spend $105.74, record that you spend $106 and have $94 left to spend.Â That is MUCH easier than keeping track down to the penny.Â (Truth be told, this is what I do with our cash envelopes too).
Once you reach your spending limit, then you are done with that category!Â If you budget $100 for dining out and there is just $5 left, don’t pick up that coffee and cake for $7 – or you will have just busted your budget!Â If you find that you are always out of money for select categories, or often have money left over for others, then it may be time to make adjustments to your budget.
Grab your cashless envelope printables.Â Now, I don’t recommend you print this onto regular paper, as that is really thin and will tear easily. Purchase card stock to use to print out your cashless envelopes as they will be more durable.
Related:Â How to Figure Out How Much Money to Budget For Groceries
Even if you don’t want to use cash, it is still essential that you continue to track your spending, so you never exceed your budget.
The post The “Cashless” Cash Envelope System appeared first on Penny Pinchin' Mom.
6 Signs Your Personal Finance Software Makes Life Easier
Finding personal finance software is easy, because there are countless choices in mobile apps, online programs, and finance software you can run on your home computer. But they’re certainly not equal. Personal finance software should make your life simpler, not more complicated, and it should be customizable for your particular life, goals, and needs. You know you’ve found great software when your financial life becomes easier over time. Here are 6 signs your personal finance software makes life easier.
1. You Haven’t Paid a Late Fee in Months
Does your personal finance software let you know in advance of when bills are due? It should be easy to set up automated alerts that tell you a few days before monthly, quarterly, or yearly bills are due, so you can take care of them and avoid annoying and guilt-inducing late fees. Ideally your software should notify you by text, so you’ll be sure and get the message whatever you’re doing and wherever you are.
2. Spending Categories Correspond to Your Actual Life
When personal finance software requires you to shoehorn your actual spending patterns into pre-set spending categories, the result can be confusion and frustration. Look for software that lets you create an unlimited number of spending categories you can customize. Do you buy your employees breakfast once a month? You can make a spending category for it. Are you a coffee or microbrew aficionado? You can make a spending category for it. Your budget should conform to your life, not the other way around.
3. You See How Trimming Budget Fat Affects Financial Goals
Sometimes it just doesn’t feel worth it to hold back at the grocery store after a long day or when buying Christmas presents. But when your personal finance software shows you exactly how disciplined spending helps you achieve your financial goals, like a vacation or paying off a loan, it’s easy to avoid giving in to those little temptations you face every day. When you can see how your discipline pays off, you’re more likely to stick with your good habits.
Start now: Get budgeting software from Mint to help manage your finances and make everyday life simpler byÂ clicking here.
4. You May Have Faced One or Two Painful Truths
Powerful personal finance software can tell you things like how much you spent on fast food last week, or how much you’ve paid in non-network ATM fees this month. Sometimes, getting control of your personal finances means facing some harsh truths, like how much those little extras add up to. Your software should also be able to tell you how much more quickly you can reach financial goals if you cut a certain dollar amount from various spending categories. It’s a great way to stay on track to your goals.
5. You Know Exactly How Close You Are to Meeting Financial Goals
Maybe you want to save for retirement, or build up a down payment on a home. Your personal finance software should show you exactly how close you are to your goal at any time. You should also be able to receive monthly emails that track your progress and see how your everyday spending decisions affect how much you’ll have left over at the end of the month. Don’t settle for software that doesn’t let you track your progress easily.
6. Your Personal Finance Software Goes With You Everywhere
Personal finance software that links your computer and your mobile devices empowers you to make smart spending choices anytime, anywhere. Thinking about buying an item you unexpectedly find on sale? You can check your account balances right on your phone and know instantly if you can afford it. You can also set up convenient alerts that can tell you right away such things as whether you’re approaching your credit limits on your credit cards.
Personal finance software has come a long way since the days you had to manually enter checkbook balances and draft amounts. Today’s software offers an astonishing array of features that not only help you achieve financial goals, but actually make your everyday life easier. And when it links your accounts to your computer and your mobile devices, likeÂ MintÂ does, you have all the budget tools you need, wherever you go.
Start now:Â Get budgeting software from Mint to help manage your finances and make everyday life simpler byÂ clicking here.
The post 6 Signs Your Personal Finance Software Makes Life Easier appeared first on MintLife Blog.
Summer camp is a rite of passage. A place where traditions begin and memories are made. A unique venue with a structured opportunity for kids to grow and learn new skills. As enriching as it may seem, embarking on the process each year can be intense: How do I choose a camp? Should it have a philosophy? How do I know my child will have fun? But often the question at the top of the list is, “How do I budget for summer camp?”
Whether you’re scrambling for camp arrangements for this year or getting a jump-start on next summer, you’re in need of a working budget for summer camp. “As a parent who sent several kids to summer camp for many years, I know how expensive it can be,” says Leslie H. Tayne, author and founder of debt solutions law firm Tayne Law Group.
Read on for expert budgeting tips for summer camp and how to save money on summer camp so you can make the best decisions concerning your wallet and your child’s wish list:
1. Get a handle on camp tuition
According to the American Camp Association, sleep-away camp tuition can range from $630 to more than $2,000 per camper per week. Day camp tuition isn’t too far behind, ranging from $199 to more than $800 per week.
One of the best ways to budget for summer camp and prepare for tuition costs is to understand your needs for the summer as well as your child’s interests. This will help you determine ‘how much’ and ‘what type’ of camp you want: Is day-camp coverage important all summer because of work? Does your child want to experience sleep-away camp for a portion of the time? Is a camp with a specific focus (say a sport or hobby) on the list?
Depending on your circumstances and child’s expectations, it’s not unusual to be looking at a combination of campsâand tuition costsâin one season. If you have multiple kids at different ages, with different interests, creating a budget for summer camp and understanding how much you’ll need to dish out in tuition becomes especially important.
Once your camp plan is in place, assess how much you’ll need to pay in tuition for the summer months with school out of session. The sooner you’ve arrived at this figure, the easier it will be to work the expense into your household budget, says Heather Schisler, money-saving expert and founder of deal site Passion for Savings. “It’s much easier to set aside $30 a month than it is to come up with $300 to $400 at one time,” Schisler says.
Sleep-away camp tuition can range from $630 to more than $2,000 per camper per week. Day camp tuition ranges from $199 to more than $800 per week.
2. Plan for expenses beyond tuition
One of the biggest budgeting tips for summer camp is planning for the many costs outside of tuition. Tayne points out that sleep-away camp usually comes with a longer supply list than day campâsuch as specific clothing or gear and toiletries to cover the length of stay. If your child is heading to a sleep-away camp far from home, your budget for summer camp may also need to factor in the cost of transportation or the cost to ship luggage. Day camps can also have fees for extended hours or transportation if your child rides a camp bus each day.
Once you’ve selected a campâday camp or sleep-awayâcheck its website for camper packing lists and guidelines. Most camps offer checklists that you can print out, which can be good for tracking supplies and costs as you go. After you enroll, your camp may provide access to an online portal that can help you manage tuition and track additional expenses, like canteen money, which is cash your child can use for snacks and additional supplies while away.
3. Create a year-round savings strategy
By calculating the necessary expenses ahead of time for the camps you and your campers have chosen, you’ll be able to determine an overall budget for summer camp. A budgeting tip for summer camp is to save money monthly throughout the year. To determine a monthly savings goal, divide your total summer camp costs by the amount of months you have until camp starts. If camp is quickly approaching and you’re feeling the budget crunch, you may want to start saving for next year’s costs once it’s back-to-school time so you can spread out your costs over a longer period of time.
Once you start saving, you’ll need a place to put it, right? When it comes to budgeting tips for summer camp, consider placing your cash in a dedicated account, which will keep it separate from your regular expenses and help you avoid tapping it for other reasons. “Then you can have your bank set up an auto draft [for the summer camp money] so it automatically goes into your account each month and you will have the money you need when summer rolls around,” Schisler says. If you use a Discover Online Savings Account for this purpose, you’ll also earn interest that can be put toward camp expenses.
âIt’s much easier to set aside $30 a month than it is to come up with $300 to $400 at one time.â
4. Find ways to fund your summer camp account
To boost cash in your summer camp savings account, consider asking relatives and family friends to gift your children cash for camp in lieu of birthday and holiday gifts, says Tracie Fobes of budget blog Penny Pinchin’ Mom. “If your child has his or her heart set on sleep-away camp, they may be willing to forgo a gift or two,” Fobes says.
Another budgeting tip for summer camp is to put your cashback rewards toward your budget for summer camp. For example, if you open a checking account with Discoverâcalled Cashback Debitâyou’ll earn 1% cash back on up to $3,000 in debit card purchases each month.1 You can enroll to have that cashback bonus automatically deposited into your Discover Online Savings Account so it remains designated for camp costs (and can grow with interest).
Say hello to cash back on debit card purchases.
No monthly fees. No balance requirements. No, really.
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Lastly, if you don’t have your tax refund earmarked for another financial goal, you could use the windfall to kick-start your summer camp savings fund. Depending on the refund amount and your total camp costs, it could reduce your monthly summer camp savings goal significantly.
5. Reduce camp-related costs
Despite having your budget for summer camp in full view and planning in advance, camp can still be expensive. Here are some ways to save money on summer camp by cutting down on camp costs:
Ask about scholarships and grants: “Some camps offer scholarships or discounts for children and families,” Fobes says. Research your camp to see if they have anything similar to help offsetâor even pay forâthe cost of tuition.
Use a Dependent Care Flexible Spending Account (DCFSA): A Dependent Care Flexible Spending Account is a pre-tax benefit account that can be used to pay for eligible dependent care services. You can use this type of account to “cover dependent care [costs], and camp may qualify,” Fobes says.
Negotiate price: “Many people don’t think about negotiating the cost of summer camp, but it is possible,” Tayne says, and more and more camps are open to it.
See if there’s an “honor system”: Some camps have what’s known as an honor system, where the camp offers a range of costs, or tiered pricing, and parents can pay what they can comfortably afford. Every child enjoys the same camp experience, regardless of which price point, and billing is kept private.
Take advantage of discounts: Attention early birds and web surfers: “There are sometimes discounts offered when you sign up early or register online,” Fobes says.
Volunteer: If your summer schedule allows, “offer to work at the camp,” Fobes says. If you lend your servicesâperhaps for the camp blog or cleaning the camp house before the season startsâyour child may be able to attend camp for free or a reduced rate.
Focus on the experienceânot the extras
Don’t let summer camp costs become a family budget-buster. Plan ahead and look for money-saving opportunities and work your budget for summer camp into your annual financial plan.
To save money on summer camp, remember that you only need to focus on camp necessities. “Don’t spend a lot of extra money on new clothing, bedding, trunks or suitcases,” Schisler says. “Remember, summer camp is all about the experience, not the things.”
1 ATM transactions, the purchase of money orders or other cash equivalents, cash over portions of point-of-sale transactions, Peer-to-Peer (P2P) payments (such as Apple Pay Cash), and loan payments or account funding made with your debit card are not eligible for cash back rewards. In addition, purchases made using third-party payment accounts (services such as VenmoÂ® and PayPal, who also provide P2P payments) may not be eligible for cash back rewards. Apple, the Apple logo and Apple Pay are trademarks of Apple Inc., registered in the U.S. and other countries.
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Reasons to save money seem to be never-endingâcollege, emergencies, retirement, vacation. However, about 20 percent of Americans don’t save any of their annual income at all, according to a Bankrate survey. So if you’ve buckled down, cut your expenses and finally saved up a nice chunk of change, great! Now, the next step is finding a good place to put it.
While researching where to store your hard-earned cash, you’ll probably come across two potential account types: money market accounts and savings accounts. Many banks offer both types of accounts, but deciding between a money market account and a savings account may depend on your particular savings goals and needs, says Jeff Rose, CFPÂ®, founder of the financial education blog Good Financial Cents.
âBoth types of accounts have different rules about maintaining minimum balances,” Rose says. He adds that these factors can vary depending on the particular bank.
You may even find that making a decision between a money market account vs. a savings account is too hard and you want both types of accounts. (Don’t worry, we’ll get to that later). For now, asking the question, “How is a money market account different from a regular savings account?” is a good place start.
Here’s what you need to know to decide between a money market account and a savings account:
Money market account: Maintain growth and easy access
Not to be confused with money market funds, which are a type of investment, money market accounts are a type of deposit account.
“A money market account, traditionally, has been a high-yield savings account with higher-than-usual opening deposit requirements and/or monthly minimum balance requirements,” says Brynne Conroy, blogger for the women-focused personal finance website Femme Frugality.
You can think of the benefit of a money market account as a savings-checking hybrid. This is an important piece of the money market account vs. savings account story. On the savings side, with a money market account, you can typically earn interest on the balance you have stashed away. If the bank offering the account is FDIC insured, then your deposits are insured up to $250,000 or the maximum allowed by law.
âA money market account makes more sense when you want to maintain liquidity and to grow your savings over time.”
When you’re thinking money market account vs. savings account, note that one of the unique features of a money market account is that you can access funds with a debit card as well as through an ATM and checksâjust like you would with your checking account. It’s important to note that federal law does limit certain types of withdrawals and transfers from money market accounts to a combined total of six per month per account. There are no limits on ATM withdrawals or official checks mailed to you. You can also make an unlimited number of deposits.
Money market accounts may require that you open the account with a minimum amount, as well as maintain a minimum balance. If your balance falls below the required minimum, you could be charged a fee, and your account could actually be closed if you regularly dip below the minimum.
Not all banks have these requirements, though. When considering the difference between money market accounts and savings accounts and shopping for a money market account, you may be able to find one with no minimum balance requirements and with tiered interest rates, Conroy says.
A Discover Money Market Account, for instance, doesn’t charge account fees, including minimum balance fees.1 Plus, a larger deposit can put you in a higher interest rate tier, allowing you to earn even more on your savings. These are all things that can guide you when deciding between a money market account and a savings account.
Still need some help weighing money market account vs. savings account? See if any of the following scenarios jump out as describing your financial needs.
Go with a money market account ifâ¦
You want to easily access your funds.2 As you consider the difference between a money market account and a savings account, note that the debit and check-writing capabilities of money market accounts make them great for accessing your money conveniently. âA money market account makes more sense when you want to maintain liquidity and to grow your savings over time,” Rose says. Need to pay the handyman for a new water heater or access cash from your emergency fund? You don’t have to worry about keeping a ton of cash in your checking accountâsimply write a check directly from your money market account, or stop by the nearest ATM.
You have a large balance. Since money market accounts can require a higher minimum balance than regular savings accounts, it might be a good fit for you if you plan to keep enough money in your account to meet the requirement and avoid fees. Plus, if you plan to make large withdrawals from your account, it’s important that you keep enough funds in it so that you don’t dip below the minimum balance. “Know that if you’re not meeting minimum balance requirements, you’re more likely to have to pay a monthly maintenance fee,” Conroy says.
You want one account with the flexibility of two. If you’re liking the ability to swipe a debit card and write checksâbut are also looking to earn interest on the cash you’re parking in the accountâthen a money market account could be for you. “A money market account may offer you the higher interest rates you would get in a savings account, plus the debit card and check-writing abilities of a traditional checking account,” Conroy explains.
Savings account: Get your nest egg started
Savings accounts are a basic deposit account where you can keep extra cash. Like money market accounts, you can earn interest on the money you have parked in the account. If you have a savings account with a bank that is FDIC insured, you’ll have that same insurance on your deposits as was described above.
Savings accounts are also subject to the same limit on withdrawals and transfers, Conroy notes. Similar to money market accounts, there are no limits on ATM withdrawals or official checks mailed to you.
Now on to the differences between money market accounts and savings accounts. For one, you can’t write checks or pay for things with a debit card when using your savings account. To access your funds, you’ll need to transfer them to another account, visit the bank or ATM to make a withdrawal or withdraw via official bank check.
Another key difference between a money market account and a savings account: The minimum deposit to open a savings account and ongoing minimum balance required for savings accounts may be lower than money market accounts. You may even be able to find savings accounts with no minimum balance requirement.
You earned it. Now earn more withÂ it.
Online savings with no minimum balance.
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Still deciding between a money market account and a savings account?
Go with a savings account ifâ¦
Earning interest is a goal. When debating money market account vs. savings account, know that some savings accounts could offer higher interest rates than you’d find with money market accounts. âHistorically, money market accounts have offered higher interest rates in exchange for higher minimum balance requirements,” Conroy says. That’s not necessarily the case anymore, she notes. âThe lines are blurring as high-yield savings accounts, typically those offered by online-only banks, get ever more competitive with money market accounts.” The Discover Online Savings Account, for example, offers a competitive interest rate and no minimum balance requirement. Plus, there are no account fees.1
You don’t plan to touch the money often. Though it’s easy to transfer money in and out of a savings account, there are more limitations to accessing your money if you’re considering the difference between a money market account and a savings account. So if you’re working on building up your emergency savings or simply don’t want to be tempted to dip into your funds regularly, a traditional savings account might be the better option. “If you know having access to your funds is not a good thing because [you tend to spend more than you should], then leaving them in a savings account makes more sense,” Rose says.
You are concerned about balance requirements. Since savings accounts can have small or no minimum balance requirements, this account type could be right for you if you’re just getting started building a nest egg and don’t have a ton to deposit yet. If you plan to make a big withdrawal, such as for a down payment on a car or security deposit on your new apartment, you don’t have to worry about dipping below a minimum balance.
How to use both accounts to your advantage
Because savings accounts and money market accounts have some similar features, deciding between a money market account and a savings account can be difficult. You’ll need to look at your banking habits and financial goals when choosing where to put your money, Rose says.
But remember, you don’t necessarily have to choose one account over the other. Having both a savings account and a money market account can help you reach various savings goals simultaneously.
If you decide to use both types of accounts, Rose suggests assigning each a specific goal. For example, you could keep a portion of your savings in a money market account so the money is easily accessible for shorter-term goals (saving for the holidays, anyone?) and more frequent expenditures for which you might use your money market debit card, ATM access or checks.
Rose says you could then consider using a savings account for a longer-term goal (the kids will grow up and go to college some day), where the money can sit and generate interest until you need it further down the road.
“Match the financial goals to the account that will serve you best,” Rose says.
Money market account vs. savings account: The best decision for you
When deciding between a money market account and a savings account, be sure to carefully examine each account’s offerings and requirements closely, âcomparing things like APY, monthly maintenance fees, minimum balance requirements and any other fees that may be associated with the account,” Conroy says.
At the end of the day, whichever account you choose (or both!) should help you reach your financial goals and money management success.
1Outgoing wire transfers are subject to a service charge. You may be charged a fee by a non-Discover ATM if it is not part of the 60,000+ ATMs in our no-fee network.
2Federal law limits certain types of withdrawals and transfers from savings and money market accounts to a combined total of 6 per calendar month per account. There are no limits on ATM withdrawals or official checks mailed to you. To get an account with an unlimited number of transactions, consider opening a Discover Cashback Debit account. If you go over these limitations on more than an occasional basis, your account may be closed. See Section 11 of the Deposit Account Agreement for more details.
The post Money Market Account vs. Savings Account: Which Is Best for You? appeared first on Discover Bank – Banking Topics Blog.
A consumer loan is a loan or line of credit that you receive from a lender.
Consumer loans can be auto loans, home mortgages, student loans, credit cards, equity loans, refinance loans, and personal loans.
This article will address each type of consumer loans.
Get Approved for personal loan today.
Types of consumer loans:
Consumer loans are divided into several kinds of categories. They include auto loans, student loans, home loans, personal loans and credit cards. Regardless of type, consumer loans have one thing in common: you have to repay the loan at some period of time.
Most people who are thinking of buying a car will apply for an auto loan. That is because buying a car is expensive.
In fact, it is the second largest expense you will ever make besides buying a house. And unless you intend to buy it with all cash, you will need a car loan.
So, car loans allow consumers to purchase a vehicle where they may not have the money upfront. With an auto loan, your payment is broken into smaller repayments that you will make over time every month.
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You can choose between a fixed or variable interest rate loan. But the most important thing is, whether you’re buying a new or used car, it’s important to compare loans to help you find the right auto loan for your needs.
Start comparing auto loans now!
Another, and most common, type of consumer loans are home loans. A home loan or mortgage is a loan a consumer receives for the purpose of buying a house.
Buying a house is, undoubtedly, the biggest expense you’ll ever make in your life. So, for the majority of consumers who want to purchase a house, they will need to borrow the money from a lender.
Home loans are paid back over a period of time. Those mortgages term are typically 15 to 30 years. They can be variable rate or fixed rate. A fixed rate means that your repayments are locked in for a fixed term.
Whereas a variable rate means that your repayments depend on the interest rate going up or down when the Federal Reserve changes the rate.
Over the loan’s term, you will pay back the principle amount of the loan plus interest. This makes it very important to compare home loans. Doing so allows you to save thousands of dollars on interest and fees.
The most common types of consumer loans are personal loans. That is because a personal loan can be used for a lot of things.
A personal loan allows a consumer to borrow a sum of money. The borrower agrees to repay the loan (plus interest) in installments over a period of time.
A personal loan is usually for a lower amount than a home loan or even an auto loan. People usually ask for $500 to $20,000 or more.
A personal loan can be secured (the consumer backs it with his or her personal assets) or unsecured (the consumer does not have to use his or her personal asset).
But most of them are unsecured, so getting approved for one will depend on your credit score, income and other factors.
But consumers use personal loans for different purposes. People take out personal loans to consolidate debts, such as credit card debts. You can use personal loans for a wedding, a holiday, to renovate your home, to buy a flt screen TV, etc…
Consumers use these types of loans to finance their education. There are two types of student loans: federal and private. The federal government funds a federal student loan.
Whereas, a private entity funds a private student loan. Generally, federal student loans are better because they come at a lower interest rate.
Believe it or not credit cards is a type of consumer loans and they are very common. Consumers use this type of loan to finance every day expenses with the promise of paying back the money with interest.
Unlike other loans, however, every time your pay with your credit card, you take a personal loan.
Credit cards usually carry a higher interest rate than the other loans. But you can avoid these interests if you pay your balance in full immediately.
Small Business Loans
Another type of consumer loans are small business loans. These loans are used specifically to create a business or to expand an already established business.
Banks and the Small Business Administration (SBA) usually provide these loans. Small Business Loans are different than personal loans, because you usually have to provide a collateral to get the loan.
The collateral serves as a way to protect the lender in case you default on the loan. In addition, you will also need to provide a business plan for the lenders to review.
Home Equity Loans
If you have your own home, you can borrow money against it. These types of consumer loans are called home equity loans. If you’ve paid off the mortgage on the home, you can borrow up to the full value of the home.
Vice versa, if you’ve paid half of the mortgage on the home, you can borrow half of the value of the house. You can use a home equity loan for several purposes like you would with a personal loan.
But most consumers use this type of loan to renovate their house. One disadvantage of this type of loan, however, is that you can lose your house in case of a default, because your house is used as a collateral for the loan.
Loan refinancing is a basically taking a new loan to replace an existing one. But you get this loan specifically either to refinance your existing mortgage or to refinance your student loans or a personal loan.
Consumers usually refinance in order to receive a lower interest rate or to reduce the amount of monthly payments they are making on their existing loans.
However, reducing to a lower payment will lengthen the time to pay off the loan and you will accrue interest as a result.
Consumers also use this type of loan to pay their existing loans off faster. However, some mortgage refinancing loans come with prepayment penalties. So do you research in order to avoid that extra charge.
The bottom line is consumer loans can help you with your goals. However, understanding different loan types is important so that you can choose the best one that fits your particular situation.
So do you need a consumer loan?
Get Approved for personal loan today.
Speak with the Right Financial Advisor
If you have questions about your finances, you can talk to a financial advisor who can review your finances and help you reach your goals (whether it is making more money, paying off debt, investing, buying a house, planning for retirement, saving, etc). Find one who meets your needs with SmartAssetâs free financial advisor matching service. You answer a few questions and they match you with up to three financial advisors in your area. So, if you want help developing a plan to reach your financial goals, get started now.
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Understanding how much money you need to buy a house can give you an idea of how much you should expect to save.
You’re probably excited about the thought of buying your first home? If so, you have every right to be.
But how much money do you need to buy a house? A calculator can help you determine that. But the average cost of buying a $300,000 is typically around $17,000.
In this article, we’ll go over the main costs of buying a house including the down payment, inspection cost, appraisal cost, closing cost, etc.
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How much money do you need to buy a house?
Out of Pocket Cost of buying a house
The five main out of pocket costs of buying a house are 1) the down payment; 2) inspection cost; 3) the appraisal cost; 4) earnest money and 5) closing costs. These out of pocket costs or upfront costs are money yo need to pay before you become the owner of the property.
In addition, some lenders also require you have some cash reserves to cover 2 to 3 months of the mortgage repayments.
Determining how much cash needed to buy a house depends on the type of loan you’re using.
Let’s suppose you’re buying a $300,000 house with an FHA loan.
An FHA loan requires a 3.5% of the home purchase price as a down payment as long as you have a 580 credit score. So, for the down payment alone, you will need $10,500.
Here’s a quick breakdown for how much cash needed to buy a $300,000 house:
Down payment: $10,500
Inspection cost: $300
Appraisal cost: $300
Closing cost: $6000
So, $ 17,100 is how much money you need to buy a house.
Whether you’re buying a house with a 20% down payment or 3.5% down payment, you can certainly find a loan with both the price and features to suit your needs as a first time home buyer. You can compare First Time Home Buyer home loans on the LendingTree website.
The down payment
The biggest cost of buying a house is obviously your down payment. But that depends on the type of loan you are looking for.
For example, a conventional loan requires a 20% down payment. You can pay less than that, but you will have to pay for a private mortgage insurance – which covers the lender in case you default on your loan.
A 20% down payment however can also mean that you’ll get a better interest rate, which also means you’ll save money on interest.
For an FHA loan, you only need 3.5% down payment as long as your credit score is 580.
FHA loans are very popular these days. Not only it’s easier to get qualified (low down payment and low credit score), but also your down payment can come from a friend, a relative or your employer.
Using our example above, you only need $10,500 for a down payment for a $300,000 house.
If you’re using a VA loan then you pay $0 down payment.
Check to see if you’re eligible for an FHA loan or VA loan
How much money do you need to buy a house also depends on other factors, such as whether you are a first time home buyer or not. Your state may have a range of programs that may contribute toward your down payment.
So visit your local government office to find out if you are eligible for any down payment assistance for first time home buyers.
Another upfront cost of buying a home is the inspection cost.
It is highly recommended to perform inspection for your home for any defects so there are no surprises later on.
Inspections typically cost between $300 to $500, but it depends on the property and your local rates.
Compare home loans for first time home buyers with LendingTree
Before a lender can give you a loan to finance a house, they will want to know how much the house is worth. So appraisal means an estimate of the home’s value. A home’s appraisal usually costs between $300 to $500. A home appraisal will also determine what your property tax will likely be.
If you’re pay the home appraisal, it will be deducted from the closing cost. (see below).
Earnest money is a deposit you will have to pay upfront as soon as an offer is accepted, while you working on other aspects such as getting the home inspected, etc…
This deposit is part of the down payment, and it is usually between 1% to 3% of the final sale price. It is held by an escrow firm or attorney until the closing process is completed.
So if the sale is successful, that money is applied to your down payment. If it’s not, you get 100% of your money back.
The closing costs are fees by the lenders. They typically cost 2% to 5% of the final price. The costs include fees for homeowner’s insurance, title insurance, title insurance, property tax, HOA dues, private mortgage insurance.
It’s possible to lower these costs by comparing mortgage options.
Other costs of buying a home:
In addition to upfront costs, there are other recurring costs associated with buying a home. They include moving fees, repair costs, furniture, remodeling, etc. So consider these costs when making your budget to buy a house.
So how much money do you need to buy a house? The answer is it depends on the type of loans you’ re using. But if you’re buying a $300,000 house with an FHA loan, which requires a 3.5% down payment, $ 17,100 is how much money you need.
For more information about upfront costs of buying a house, check out this guide.
Read more cost of buying a house:
How Much House Can I Afford?
How Long Does It Take to Buy a House?
Buying a House for the First Time? Avoid these Mistakes
5 Signs You’re Not Ready to Buy a House
Work with the Right Financial Advisor
You can talk to a financial advisor who can review your finances and help you reach your goals (whether it is making more money, paying off debt, investing, buying a house, planning for retirement, saving, etc). So, find one who meets your needs with SmartAssetâs free financial advisor matching service. You answer a few questions and they match you with up to three financial advisors in your area. So, if you want help developing a plan to reach your financial goals, get started now.
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You have all kinds of financial goals you want to achieve, but where should you begin? There are so many different aspects of money management that it can be difficult to find a starting point when trying to achieve financial success. If you’re feeling lost and overwhelmed, take a deep breath. Progress can be made in tiny, manageable steps. Here’s are 16 small things you can do right now to improve your overall financial health. (See also: These 13 Numbers Are Crucial to Understanding Your Finances)
1. Create a household budget
The biggest step toward effective money management is making a household budget. You first need to figure out exactly how much money comes in each month. Once you have that number, organize your budget in order of financial priorities: essential living expenses, contributions to retirement savings, repaying debt, and any entertainment or lifestyle costs. Having a clear picture of exactly how much is coming in and going out every month is key to reaching your financial goals.
2. Calculate your net worth
Simply put, your net worth is the total of your assets minus your debts and liabilities. You’re left with a positive or negative number. If the number is positive, you’re on the up and up. If the number is negative — which is especially common for young people just starting out — you’ll need to keep chipping away at debt.
Remember that certain assets, like your home, count on both sides of the ledger. While you may have mortgage debt, it is secured by the resale value of your home. (See also: 10 Ways to Increase Your Net Worth This Year)
3. Review your credit reports
Your credit history determines your creditworthiness, including the interest rates you pay on loans and credit cards. It can also affect your employment opportunities and living options. Every 12 months, you can check your credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus (Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax) for free at annualcreditreport.com. It may also be a good idea to request one report from one bureau every four months, so you can keep an eye on your credit throughout the year without paying for it.
Regularly checking your credit report will help you stay on top of every account in your name and can alert you to fraudulent activity.
4. Check your credit score
Your FICO score can range from 300-850. The higher the score, the better. Keep in mind that two of the most important factors that go into making up your credit score are your payment history, specifically negative information, and how much debt you’re carrying: the type of debts, and how much available credit you have at any given time. (See also: How to Boost Your Credit Score in Just 30 Days)
5. Set a monthly savings amount
Transferring a set amount of money to a savings account at the same time you pay your other monthly bills helps ensure that you’re regularly and intentionally saving money for the future. Waiting to see if you have any money left over after paying for all your other discretionary lifestyle expenses can lead to uneven amounts or no savings at all.
6. Make minimum payments on all debts
The first step to maintaining a good credit standing is to avoid making late payments. Build your minimum debt reduction payments into your budget. Then, look for any extra money you can put toward paying down debt principal. (See also: The Fastest Way to Pay Off $10,000 in Credit Card Debt)
7. Increase your retirement saving rate by 1 percent
Your retirement savings and saving rate are the most important determinants of your overall financial success. Strive to save 15 percent of your income for most of your career for retirement, and that includes any employer match you may receive. If you’re not saving that amount yet, plan ahead for ways you can reach that goal. For example, increase your saving rate every time you get a bonus or raise.
8. Open an IRA
An IRA is an easy and accessible retirement savings vehicle that anyone with earned income can access (although you can’t contribute to a traditional IRA past age 70½). Unlike an employer-sponsored account, like a 401(k), an IRA gives you access to unlimited investment choices and is not attached to any particular employer. (See also: Stop Believing These 5 Myths About IRAs)
9. Update your account beneficiaries
Certain assets, like retirement accounts and insurance policies, have their own beneficiary designations and will be distributed based on who you have listed on those documents — not necessarily according to your estate planning documents. Review these every year and whenever you have a major life event, like a marriage.
10. Review your employer benefits
The monetary value of your employment includes your salary in addition to any other employer-provided benefits. Consider these extras part of your wealth-building tools and review them on a yearly basis. For example, a Flexible Spending Arrangement (FSA) can help pay for current health care expenses through your employer and a Health Savings Account (HSA) can help you pay for medical expenses now and in retirement. (See also: 8 Myths About Health Savings Accounts — Debunked!)
11. Review your W-4
The W-4 form you filled out when you first started your job dictates how much your employer withholds for taxes — and you can make changes to it. If you get a refund at tax time, adjusting your tax withholdings can be an easy way to increase your take-home pay. Also, remember to review this form when you have a major life event, like a marriage or after the birth of a child. (See also: Are You Withholding the Right Amount of Taxes from Your Paycheck?)
12. Ponder your need for life insurance
In general, if someone is dependent upon your income, then you may need a life insurance policy. When determining how much insurance you need, consider protecting assets and paying off all outstanding debts, as well as retirement and college costs. (See also: 15 Surprising Insurance Policies You Might Need)
13. Check your FDIC insurance coverage
First, make sure that the banking institutions you use are FDIC insured. For credit unions, you’ll want to confirm it’s a National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) federally-covered institution. Federal deposit insurance protects up to $250,000 of your deposits for each type of bank account you have. To determine your account coverage at a single bank or various banks, visit FDIC.gov.
14. Check your Social Security statements
Set up an online account at SSA.gov to confirm your work and income history and to get an idea of what types of benefits, if any, you’re entitled to — including retirement and disability.
15. Set one financial goal to achieve it by the end of the year
An important part of financial success is recognizing where you need to focus your energy in terms of certain financial goals, like having a fully funded emergency account, for example.
If you’re overwhelmed by trying to simultaneously work on reaching all of your goals, pick one that you can focus on and achieve it by the end of the year. Examples include paying off a credit card, contributing to an IRA, or saving $500.
16. Take a one-month spending break
Unfortunately, you can never take a break from paying your bills, but you do have complete control over how you spend your discretionary income. And that may be the only way to make some progress toward some of your savings goals. Try trimming some of your lifestyle expenses for just one month to cushion your checking or savings account. You could start by bringing your own lunch to work every day or meal-planning for the week to keep your grocery bill lower and forgo eating out. (See also: How a Simple "Do Not Buy" List Keeps Money in Your Pocket)
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This article is from Alicia Rose Hudnett of Wise Bread, an award-winning personal finance and credit card comparison website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:
5 Money Moves to Make Before You Turn 40
7 Important Money Moves to Make in the New Year, According to Financial Advisors
The Pros and Cons of Paying Off Your Debt Early
5 Things Keeping You From a Life of Financial Independence