Kimberly Cuomo's Blog
Whether you call it a "rainy day fund" or a "financial cushion", having some money set aside for emergencies or unexpected expenses can help keep life on an even keel.
Although health insurance and a homeowners' policy can provide a measure of protection, insurance deductibles can take a large bite out of your bank account.
In addition to all the predictable expenses that accompany home ownership, mechanical systems like furnaces, hot water heaters, and air conditioning units have a way of breaking down at the most inopportune times. Another crisis that many people aren't prepared for is the potential loss of a job. When families don't have money set aside to weather the storm of an unplanned income loss, then there's no "safety net" to cushion the fall.Strategies For Saving MoneyThe good news is that there are plenty of ways to build up financial reserves, but it often requires self discipline, a new set of habits, and the intention to make it happen. One of the first steps to putting some money aside for a rainy day is to open up a separate bank account. If you put extra money in your regular account -- or (even worse) keep it around the house -- chances are it will get spent pretty quickly. However, if it's deposited into a separate account that's designated for emergencies, unexpected household expenses, or even a college fund, then it'll stand a greater chance of being left alone until it's needed. Putting money aside does take some doing, but it can contribute to your family's financial security and ability to do things that are important to you.
If you have a tight budget, you're probably wondering where this extra money is going to come from! Sometimes, the very act of developing a written budget can provide you with clues and ideas for reducing your expenses. You'd also be amazed at how much the savings can add up when you comparison shop, buy in bulk, use coupons, negotiate lower interest charges on your credit cards, quit smoking, car pool to work, cut back on restaurant food, and make up your mind to live just a little more frugally.
Depending on how committed you are to creating a financial cushion, you could also make the fund grow faster by depositing a percentage of Christmas bonuses, tax refunds, manufacturer rebates, salary increases (raises), and other sources of extra income. Additional ways to beef up your financial safety net could include getting a part-time job, doing freelance work, holding a garage sale, or selling unwanted items through ads or flyers. When you pay off credit cards, car loans, or other debts, you could also redirect some or all of those monthly payments into your "future needs fund."
Whatever you decide to call it, it's nice to know that there's some extra money on hand for unexpected expenses, emergencies, potential job losses, college tuition, weddings, family vacations, home renovations, nursing home costs, or even retirement.
It can be difficult to find the extra savings to put towards your first home as a renter. With rent and utility prices rising, most people’s paychecks are leaving them with less and less savings at the end of the month.
Buying your first home, however, can be a great long-term financial decision. It will help you build equity, and, eventually, you’ll be able to use that equity toward another home or toward retiring.
In today’s post, we’ll talk about some of the ways to save for a down payment while renting an apartment.
How much to save
In order to make the most of your first home purchase, you’ll want to save up as much of a down payment as possible. This will help you receive the lowest interest rate and reduce the amount you’ll pay toward interest.
If you can manage to save 20% of the loan, you’ll also be able to waive private mortgage insurance (PMI), that would otherwise set you back around $100 per month or more.
Smart ways to save while renting
If you’re ready to get serious about saving for your first down payment, let’s talk about the best way to approach your savings plan.
Pay off small debts
If you’ve had that lingering credit card debt that you’ve never quite paid off, now is the time. Take a look at your current debts. Pay off the smaller balances first and focus on debt with the highest interest rate.
This will enable you to start making larger deposits toward your down payment savings sooner and can help you avoid needlessly paying interest on small loans and credit card debt.
Open a dedicated account or CD
The best way to make sure you contribute to your down payment savings plan is to open a savings account or take out a CD (certificate of deposit).
A savings account with a high-interest return is a good option for people who are worried that they may need to access their funds before they’re ready to buy a home.
If you’re comfortable with not being able to access your funds until a set date, then a CD could help you save more money.
Since CDs are a one-time payment, many people choose to combine both CDs and high-interest savings accounts to achieve their savings goals.
Regardless of which option you choose, be sure to shop around for the highest interest rate. Online banks tend to have higher rates than traditional banks and are also easy to sign up for.
Direct deposit a portion of your pay
Opening a bank account or CD won’t do you any good if you don’t commit to contributing to it. If you are paid via direct deposit, visit your HR office and ask them to reassign a portion of your weekly pay to your new account.
By following these tips, you’ll be able to better prepare for your down payment. Don’t wait! The sooner you start saving, the sooner you’ll be able to purchase your first home.
An open house can be a life-changing event for a homebuyer. If you plan ahead for an open house, you should have no trouble determining whether a residence matches or exceeds your expectations. And if the answer is "Yes," you can proceed quickly to submit a competitive offer to acquire a house.
What does it take to prep for an open house? Here are three open house preparation tips that every homebuyer needs to know.
1. Understand Your Budget
Before you attend an open house, you should find out how much money is at your disposal. Thus, you may want to meet with banks and credit unions to see if you can get pre-approved for a mortgage. That way, you can kick off your home search with a budget in hand.
Although you know that you have only a certain amount of money to spend on a residence, it may be worthwhile to consider attending open houses for residences with initial asking prices that are above your price range. Because in some instances, a home seller may be willing to accept an offer that falls below his or her initial asking price.
2. Create a List of Questions
A home is one of the biggest purchases that a person can make, and as such, it pays to be diligent. If you craft a list of questions before an open house, you can get immediate responses from the showing agent. Then, you can determine the best course of action.
When it comes to an open house, there is no such thing as a "bad" question. As a homebuyer, it is paramount to get as much information as possible about a residence to determine whether a house is right for you. Therefore, if you create a list of questions in advance, you can improve your chances of getting the most out of an open house.
3. Consult with a Real Estate Agent
If you're uncertain about how to approach an open house, you're not alone. Fortunately, real estate agents are available nationwide who are happy to teach you the ins and outs of the real estate market. By doing so, these housing market professionals will make it easy to take an informed approach to any open house, at any time.
A real estate agent will always keep you up to date about new residences as they become available. Also, if you are interested in homes in a particular city or town, a real estate agent will notify you about open houses in this area. And if you need extra help prepping for an open house, a real estate agent is happy to assist you in any way possible.
Let's not forget about the support that a real estate agent provides throughout the homebuying journey, either. A real estate agent will help you submit an offer on a house, negotiate with a seller's agent on your behalf and much more.
Be diligent as you get ready for an open house – use the aforementioned tips, and you can fully prepare for an open house.
Buying a condo requires hard work and patience, particularly for property buyers who are searching for a condo that they can enjoy for years to come. Thus, there are many questions that condo buyers need to ask before they purchase a property, including:
1. What Does the Condo Include?
Although a condo will feature home essentials like bedrooms and bathrooms, there are other factors that condo buyers need to consider as well.
For example, does a condo offer reserved parking? If not, where will you park your car day after day? And if you invite guests to visit, where can they park their vehicles? These are just some of the questions you'll want to consider about a condo before you submit an offer. Ultimately, you'll want to ensure that you are comfortable with everything that a condo has to offer. And if a condo fails to meet your expectations, keep in mind that other properties may be available that satisfy your needs.
2. How Much Are the Homeowners Association (HOA) Fees?
Condo owners usually are responsible for their monthly mortgage costs, along with HOA fees.
HOA fees are used to cover property maintenance costs throughout a condo community. The costs ensure that your neighborhood will feature fresh-cut lawns, clear walkways and other great features that help it stand out from other neighborhoods. At the same time, HOA fees must be considered before you purchase a condo, as these costs can add up quickly.
In many instances, HOA fees may add several hundred dollars to your monthly expenses. As such, you should find out exactly how much your HOA fees will be prior to buying a condo.
Consult with your real estate agent to learn more about a condo community's HOA fees. By doing so, you can budget accordingly.
3. What Are the HOA Rules?
HOA rules may vary from community to community, and you should get a copy of these rules to determine whether they correspond to your lifestyle.
For example, some condo communities feature quiet hours. On the other hand, various condo communities may have rules in place to prevent condo owners from renting out their properties.
Your real estate agent should have no trouble providing you with a copy of the HOA rules for a particular condo community. Examine these requirements closely before you make your purchase decision, and you can understand how the HOA rules will impact your day-to-day life in a condo community.
No one should be forced to settle for an inferior condo. Fortunately, employing a real estate agent with condo experience can help you speed up the process of finding a terrific condo.
With support from an experienced real estate agent, you can browse a broad array of condos in any city or town. Plus, your real estate agent can offer details about HOA fees and rules, along with provide expert tips to help you secure the perfect condo at a great price.
Collaborate with a real estate agent, and you can improve your chances of discovering your ideal condo.