Managing your money is always a complicated task, but military families in particular have a bevy of unique situations to navigate. Service members and their families often cite finances as one of their most significant stressors, even more so than deployments and personal relationships. Service members can’t adequately focus on the job at hand if they are concerned about financial problems at home. Military families face unique financial challenges like deployments and relocations, so we stress the importance of planning ahead as much as possible.
Here are some financial tips for Military and Armed Forces service members and their families:
- Contribute automatically to a Thrift Savings Plan. Military members have access to the Federal Thrift Savings Program, which offers the lowest-cost retirement savings plan available. Have automatic contributions withdrawn from your paycheck.
- Plan for deployment. Before deployment, have a family conversation about managing the household budget. Consider granting power of attorney to your spouse, should they need to make any urgent financial decisions while you are gone. Check with your bank to see if they have pre-printed forms you can use for bank accounts. Military personnel also receive additional funds while deployed. Decide on the best use for that extra cash, whether it is paying off debt or additional Thrift Savings Plan contributions.
- Set up ...
Today, home inspections are almost universally recommended by every real estate professional. When it comes to their clients—especially first-time buyers—many are not familiar with the home inspection process, and what they can expect. Here are a few things you can do to prepare your client for a home inspection.
Choosing a Home Inspector
All home inspection companies are not created equal. Outline criteria that distinguish a reputable home inspection company, like finding out if a company is licensed and certified (in states where applicable). Encourage clients to look at how professional a company is. Do they have a professional website? Do they arrive in uniform with marked vehicles making them easily identifiable? Do they deliver an electronic report with photos? Verify that they have both errors and omissions and general liability insurance, which covers the agent and the inspector. Consider how convenient it is to work with them. Do they make the experience easier with online scheduling? Do they text or email reminders about the inspection? Do they schedule any additional inspections that would be requested by the client, like pest and radon inspections? Each of these criteria will help enhance the client’s overall home-buying experience.
Prepare buyers for the inspection by helping them understand the inspection process and how to maintain perspective. Home inspectors are generalists ...
Since relocating is such a major undertaking, it's vital to thoroughly research your options. This is especially essential regarding an overseas move. Here are five things to assess in a prospective neighborhood to ensure you'll feel at home, no matter whether your new home is here or abroad.
One consideration is how you'll navigate your new surroundings. Find out whether you'll have access to public transportation or need a car. If you can use public transit, what are the service hours and stops? If you require airport proximity, determine how you'll get there. Do you currently have a job lined up? If so, calculate the distance of the commute from the neighborhood in question. Will the trip be a cakewalk, or grueling? According to World Knowing, the top-ranked countries with the best transportation systems in the world are Hong Kong, Singapore, the UAE, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Japan, Germany, France, Spain, and the UK.
Even if a REALTOR® lists the distance from a house to a public station, the calculation doesn't always include door-to-door travel time. You may be able to use Google Maps to determine this. If not, the website of a city's public transit system may provide a clue.
Before visiting a neighborhood, think about businesses you'll be frequenting, such as a bank, grocery store, pharmacy and retail shops. Make sure they're a feasible distance from ...
First-time homebuyers are expected to enter the housing market by the tens of millions within the next five years, with nearly three million projected to join in 2017, according to a recently released study by TransUnion. The study approximates between 13.8 to 17.1 million first-time homebuyers will enter the market over the next five-year period.
The findings were determined based on mortgage purchase market growth projections and the percentage of first-time buyers in the agency and government purchase markets against the amount of consumers who do not have a mortgage, and come following Fannie Mae’s recent addition of “trended data” to its underwriting process. Trended data offers “dynamic perspective,” according to TransUnion, to mortgage lenders who have been limited to reviewing only “static” information—a credit card balance, for example, does not reveal the habits surrounding the balance.
The results of the study indicate the use of trended data in credit reports could be a boon for the tens of millions of first-time homebuyers expected to enter the market, qualifying them for more favorable mortgage terms. The potential difference in cost of a 30-year $200,000 mortgage, TransUnion illustrates:
Interest Rate: 3.75 percent
Monthly Payment: $926
Total Interest Paid: $133,443
Interest Rate: 4.25 percent
Homes cost a lot of money to maintain. Are you spending extra money unnecessarily on the upkeep of your home? Here are 10 of the most expensive mistakes you could be making.
1. Using Traditional Light bulbs
If you still have incandescent light bulbs in your home, you could be throwing a lot of money away every month on inflated electric bills. Over its lifespan, an incandescent bulb can use $180 worth of electricity. A CFL will only use $41 worth of electricity over the same time period. Even better is the LED bulb, which only uses $30 per bulb. Think what replacing every light bulb in your home could do to your home's bottom line.
2. Ignoring a Leaky Faucet
A leaky faucet that drips one drop per second can waste more than 3,000 gallons per year, which is enough water to take more than 180 showers. Some of us live in areas where water is plentiful, but for those of us in areas plagued with drought, this could be costing you a fortune. Fix or replace your leaky faucet and save a ton on your water bill.
3. Using the Wrong Air Filter Size
We all sometimes forget to change out the air filters for our HVAC systems, or accidentally buy the wrong size. Using the wrong filter or a dirty filter can increase your power bill and cause expensive problems for your furnace down the road. Use the correct filters for your system, and set a reminder to change them after the recommended amount of time. You won't ...