10 Things You Should Know When Buying a Home

10 Things You Should Know When Buying a Home

Buying a home is one of the largest purchases you will ever make. Whether you begin with a starter home or hold out for your forever home, it requires thought and consideration before diving into homeownership. The advantages of owning a home include; a place which can be customized, a place to call your own, and financial gains in the form of appreciation. The shortfalls include an asset which may be difficult to sell if you need to move suddenly, and time is required to build enough equity to cover the costs of selling. Purchasing a home also requires cash up front in the form of a down payment and closing costs.

Taking the following steps will create a smooth buying process and ensure you get the most value for your money. Read more

What Everyone Should Know About Checking Accounts

What Everyone Should Know About Checking Accounts

One of the most basic resources for money management is the humble checking account. Access to a checking account gives you the ability to direct deposit your paycheck, pay bills online, track spending, and make purchases with a debit card. In the past it was relatively easy to find a bank offering a free account, however, today most accounts come with fees and very strict rules regarding account use. Understanding and following the banks guidelines will keep checking account costs at bay and provide an effective money management tool.

In addition to checking accounts, banks generally offer a full range of services including savings or money market accounts, investments, and lending. Most customers begin their banking relationship with a checking account and expand from there if the experience is positive. Those without bank accounts are commonly referred to as the ‘unbanked’ and may be vulnerable to alternative products and services that come with even higher fees than the average checking account. Read more

Soaring Credit Card Debt is the Reality for Millions

As the economy improves, millions of consumers are finding that credit card debt is reaching record levels. By the end of 2015 debt balances were at the highest level since the end of 2009, when the financial crisis was well under way. 2015 recorded credit card balances topping $936 billion dollars according to a recent Federal Reserve Report, with $6 billion added between November and December. An estimated 37% of consumers pay debt balances in full each month, and more than 15% only make minimum payments. Increasing debt can trap consumers into high-interest payments they may be unable to sustain. Read more

What Your Credit Score Really Says About You

Credit scores have become a popular measure used for application approvals. It is now used well beyond its initial use as a criterion for loan approvals. Companies are continuously looking for ways to quantify a person’s risk. They seek ways to differentiate applicants and to narrow down the field on who the company wants to do business with. Currently, the credit score has moved to the front of the line and is now used by companies considering employees, utilities determining deposit requirements, and apartment complexes screening potential renters. Read more

What Everyone Should Know About IRAs and Retirement Accounts

The burden of paying for retirement falls on employees, requiring you to pay more attention to the upcoming costs that must be covered when you stop working. Pensions are becoming less common and social security was never meant to maintain your standard of living. One of the most effective ways to set aside funds for retirement is to take advantage of accounts established specifically for that purpose and come with tax benefits to help your money grow faster.

Whether retirement is a long way off or just around the corner, utilizing tax benefits, and setting aside a little more every year can help you live more comfortably when retirement arrives. Read more

Understanding Debit and Credit Cards, Why & What You Should Know

Debit cards and credit cards look the same and tend to operate in a similar fashion from the consumer’s perspective. Yet they operate very differently behind the scene, which is why it can be confusing when you begin to realize there are stark differences between how these cards function, and how they help or hurt you financially.

There are some very important differences between credit and debit cards and understanding these differences will help you manage them appropriately. Read more

Housing Debt Is Crushing Seniors

Trips to the golf course, afternoons with grandkids, and leisure travel are supposed to be the hallmarks of retirement. Instead, millions of seniors are finding they must work well beyond the traditional retirement age and are struggling to keep up with debt payments.

The statistics are sobering. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau estimates that 21% of seniors over the age of 75 are still paying a mortgage, with the median balance of $88,000. The numbers are up to about a third of seniors over the age of 65 still carrying housing debt. Another 1.5 million seniors lost their homes due to inability to keep up payments between 2007 and 2011, according to an AARP study. Read more