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Why Now Is The Best Time To Refinance Your Home + Tackle Those Home Renovation Projects

To say this year has been a wild one is quite an understatement! Many of us have been spending days on end at home trying to work, do virtual learning, and keeping ourselves safe and healthy. One of the things we have been doing is tackling projects around our house. For the most part, they have been small things like replacing old door knobs, purging closets, and cleaning out the yard and storage rooms. It's been wonderful having all hands on deck to help with these tasks. It's a great feeling when your home is organized and clutter-free

We do have some big projects and wishlist things that we would love to get done that definitely carry a larger price tag. Our home is very old, so we want to do some updates on the inside like kitchen counters and cabinets, as well as remodeling our master bath. We did some research and saw that mortgage rates are pretty low right now so we figured a refinance with some cash out would be the way to get those renovations done. We quickly realized that we haven't done a refi in over 10 years, and definitely needed to lower our interest rate and have a smaller monthly payment

We have been doing some virtual shopping for what type of counter tops we want, as well as cabinet finishes. I am beyond ready to trade out our 70s look for something modern. I know that all-white-everything trend has been very popular, but I am really thinking about going slightly more traditional with darker cabinets and white counter tops or even the opposite. Our kitchen is small, so it is imperative that we choose the right colors so it doesn't look or feel smaller. Since this project will be the most expensive, we will have to really sleep on it so we make the best decision for our household. 

While we think about what we want to do with the kitchen, we already know what we want to do with our master bathroom. We plan to remove the old tub and replace it with a shower only. We aren't bath people, so why even have it? My husband doesn't know it yet, but I also want to get some fancy wallpaper for our bedroom to do an accent wall behind our bed. I feel like we can do it ourselves, but he will probably wonder what's wrong with how it looks now. Men don't really care like that. HA! 

I am definitely looking forward to some modern updates in the upcoming year. Since it looks like we will be staying at home for an unknown amount of time, we might as well fix things up so we can enjoy it. Have you done any home renovations or updates this year? 


Financial Planning For Families Is Easier Than You Think

Do you often worry about your financial future? You are definitely not alone. Most Americans have significantly low savings while having a pretty high debt load. Being in debt can definitely keep you up at night. Don't worry, you are not alone in this! Since the pandemic started earlier this year, many people have been taking a closer look at their finances, and retirement plan

What do you do when you don't know how to even get started? 

One of the first things you can do is clean your house. How does cleaning your house help, you ask? Going through your belongings can unlock a treasure chest filled with money that you didn't realize you had. We all have extra stuff hanging around the house that we don't use, so selling those items online or at local consignment shops can put cash in your pocket pretty quickly. You can use that cash to start a family emergency savings account. This would be an account that you do not touch since it is strictly for emergencies. Having an account that your whole family can contribute to means your available balance will add up quicker.  

What do you do if you are in a lot of debt?

That is a hard and stressful time for many, but there are ways to dig yourself out of debt. You don't realize how much you spend each week on little things that you really don't need. I know I have had this habit over the years. You see what you think is this 'great deal' that you better scoop up while you can, but you really can live without it. I know, I know, you probably feel like it takes away from you enjoying life while you can. The thing is, that $10-$20 item could have been added to your monthly credit card payment or toward paying down the principal on your mortgage. 
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You are probably thinking that such a small amount isn't going to help much, but believe me, it adds up! You should really take a look at the many free resources that's out there just waiting for you to take advantage of. Getting out of financial problems is possible with a little bit of discipline and taking the time to get organized. It's especially important to be more financially conservative during these uncertain times. After all, the pandemic isn't even close to being over. Do all you can to save, save, save! 

Thank you so much for stopping by today. 

The Beginner’s Guide to Home Loans

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Okay, you’re finally ready to buy a house. You’re cruising the market, scouting neighborhoods, and just beginning to look at your finances. Unfortunately, however, house hunting is a lot more difficult than the shows on HGTV portray it to be. Here are a few basic financing terms you should know before showing up to your bank when looking for a house.

First, you should know what a mortgage is. A mortgage is essentially a long-term loan where you borrow money from a bank and pay it back, with interest, until you’re the full owner of whatever you bought. Basically, it’s a type of loan for property. It’s also usually a secured loan, where you put something up for collateral that the bank can take in case you stop making payments.

You also should understand what a loan is, more broadly. A loan technically occurs anytime one person borrows a lump sum of money and agrees to pay it back at a later date. Typically, formal loans involve interest, which means that you pay back a little more than you originally borrowed. Mortgages are always a type of loan, but not all loans are mortgages.
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Home equity loans are loans for a set amount of money that’s secured by your home — in this case, your home is the collateral. The danger, here is, that you might lose your home if you stop making payments. But many use a home equity loan to make home improvements, pay for their child’s education, or invest in some other significant item — they’re usually used for big purchases that you can’t otherwise afford.

This is actually almost a synonym for a second mortgage, which is probably another term you’ve heard. They’re essentially the same, but have slightly different rules for how much you can borrow and when you can get the loan. Home equity loans typically occur after you already own a property, whereas a second mortgage can be taken out while you’re still paying off your first mortgage. Your credit history, financial state, and bank will all determine what you’re allowed to do, however.

Hopefully, this brief guide helped explain some of the differences between the types of loans you can take out as you prepare to buy a house. Nothing about the process is simple, but with a little research and a lot of expert help, you’ll be homeward-bound in no time — happy house hunting!

Exploring Your Potential Reverse Mortgage Candidacy

Retiring is not always fun. It can be stressful when you have worries about your income. However, if you own your own home, you may have an easy way to increase that income, at least temporarily. It is called a reverse mortgage. It is a non-traditional home loan designed solely to help retirees or people of retirement age stay in their homes while having money to spend in their golden years. Here is what you need to know about reverse mortgages and how to determine your candidacy for them.

You Must Meet Basic Reverse Mortgage Requirements

There are some basic requirements for getting a reverse mortgage. The biggest is that you must be retired or at the age of retirement. That minimum age is 62. The reason for that requirement is a reverse mortgage is a specific type of mortgage designed to allow retirement comfort without the hassles associated with traditional home loans. Reverse mortgage lenders do not offer reverse mortgages to younger homeowners.

Another requirement is you must own and live in the home. You cannot apply for a mortgage on a building you own while residing elsewhere. That means vacation homes are ineligible for reverse mortgage assistance. If you do own your own home, you must also prove your ability to continue to maintain it, such as by making tax payments. That is because you still own the home throughout the reverse mortgage process.

Your Home Must Have Enough Value to Get a Reverse Mortgage

Another issue affecting your reverse mortgage candidacy is you must own a home with enough value for the loan to work. A reverse mortgage does not allow you to access your full home equity.

calculator for reverse mortgages determines the portion available to you. The tool is necessary because there are federal restrictions in place governing reverse mortgages. The calculation tool can also help you simplify the process of figuring out the total value of your home. That process involves assessing factors such as its age, size and geographic location of the structure.

You Need to be Prepared to Pay Reverse Mortgage Fees and Interest

A good assessment doesn't guarantee a reverse mortgage is right for you. The amount the reverse mortgage calculator authorizes you to borrow is not the amount you must pay back. You need to understand there are closing costs and fees to be paid. Those are deducted up front before any money is issued to you. More importantly, your reverse mortgage will also accumulate long-term interest. With each passing year, you will owe more back than when you started. Therefore, you must consider your ability to pay the interest back when deciding whether to sign the initial loan agreement.

You Cannot Maintain Two Mortgages at Once

Another thing you need to know before you get a reverse mortgage is you can get one while you have a traditional mortgage. However, you cannot maintain both for a long period. Shortly after signing a reverse mortgage agreement, funds must be removed from the total you are allowed to borrow. Those funds are used to pay off the traditional loan right away. The remaining funds are available to you to make your retirement more financially comfortable.

If the amount you can borrow and the amount needed to pay off the first loan are similar, you may not want a reverse mortgage. The best scenario is using the reverse mortgage to pay the first loan and still have enough left over to spend for other purposes. That can allow you to get out from under your ongoing mortgage bills and get some actual financial relief.
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