Year: 2016

Financial Plans: 3 Reasons You Shouldn’t Be Without One

Everyone has dreams, and some of you may even have long-term goals mapped out. Whether your dreams involve a new house, an early retirement, or just living debt-free, having sufficient financial resources plays a key role in achieving these goals. 

So, why is it that so many of us don’t have a financial plan? Maybe it’s because we don’t feel like we have enough money to even justify one. Or, maybe we put it off because we don’t know how or where to begin the process. Whatever the reasons, before completely dismissing the idea of developing one, consider the following three things a solid financial plan can do for you.

 1. Financial Strategy

If for no other reason, give yourself a good night’s sleep. A solid financial plan will help provide you the confidence you need to sleep well and worry less. It puts you in control of your finances and helps to ease your mind when short-term financial issues arise, such as a dip in the stock market. Because a solid plan is long-term, those hiccups will seem less like a tornado, and more like a rainstorm.

 2. Better Decision-Making

Writing down your goals, and the steps you’re going to take to get there, will help you make better financial decisions simply because you’ll be more aware of the things you do on a daily basis that affect your finances. For example, let’s say part of your plan is to pay an extra $200 per month for one year to achieve the goal of eliminating a high-interest credit card debt. Because you have a plan, you also know you’re currently spending $400 per month eating take-out. It isn’t hard to deduce that by eating at home a few extra nights per month, you can accomplish one of your goals with little effect on your day-to-day life. No matter how big or small your goals, it’s always easier to make better decisions when you have all the information.

 3. Staying on Track

We all get off track now and then, but getting back on track and staying there is much easier if you can simply make a small adjustment on your road map and keep on going. In addition, the times you encounter bumps in the road may very well be the best time to reevaluate your plan, and reconfirm that you’re still headed in the right direction.

 The best financial plans are written out and specific. If you aren’t comfortable doing it yourself, consider turning to an expert to help you develop a plan that covers every aspect of your financial life. We turn to experts for our body’s health, why not turn to them for our financial health if we can. Not only can they provide expert advice on everything from insurance and daily spending, to retirement and estate planning, they take an objective and unemotional look at your situation and apply solutions that fit your own unique circumstances.

So, if you don’t have a financial plan, consider getting started today. There is so much to gain, and so little to lose by doing so. 

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Ready to Buy or Sell a Home? Start Here.

Buying a home is a big step and can be as stressful as it is fun. Before you step foot in your first open house, there are a few things you can do to make the home-buying process more enjoyable and far less stressful.

1. Buyers: Get pre-approved with a lender

Applying for a mortgage before you begin house hunting may be the best thing you could do for yourself and your pocketbook. 

What is Pre-Approval?

To be pre-approved for a mortgage loan means that a bank or lender has reviewed your creditworthiness, income and loan application and determined that you are qualified to purchase a home within a certain price range. They will then issue an approval letter, which you can use to prove you are a qualified buyer.

Yes, it takes valuable time and effort up front, but it’s effort you’ll have to put in eventually. Getting pre-approved assures you’re not shopping for more than you can afford, shows the real estate agent you’re a qualified buyer, and may lend more weight to any offer to purchase you make. Hopefully it will make the process less stressful and more enjoyable as well.

2. Sellers: Prep your home

before placing the sign in the yard. First impressions are a very real thing, and extremely important when selling a home. 

Curb Appeal

is the first thing potential buyers see and says a lot about how well you keep your house as a whole. Keep the grass and bushes well manicured, make sure the yard and garage are free of toys and clutter, and repair any broken items on the outside of the house or garage.

Stage the house

to appeal to buyers by removing extra furniture, de-cluttering countertops and shelves, cleaning the inside, and washing the windows.

Make it smell fresh

with potpourri, fresh candles, or flowers. Consider baking cookies before your next open house to make it smell even more welcoming. Remember to clean the cat litter and, if possible, remove pets from the home when it’s being shown to potential buyers.

3. Prepare for the extra costs of buying and selling a home.

There is more to buying than the mortgage payment and more to selling than the sale price.

When Buying a home, make a list of all possible expenses. If you’re new to home buying or haven’t done it in awhile, study up and prepare in order to eliminate any last minute surprises. Some additional expenses might include property taxes, homeowner’s insurance, utility hook-ups, origination fees, appraisal fees, and the cost of moving your belongings. Also, ask up front whether you will owe money at closing.

When Selling it’s most important to remember you’ll be paying a commission to the real estate agent. It’s often a percentage of the total sale price – generally around 6% to 7%. Keep in mind that in addition to the commission, you may have to pay the balance of your property taxes, if you haven’t done so already.

Getting your home and your finances in order isn’t always the ideal way to start the home buying and selling process, but will help assure a smooth process going forward, with fewer delays and less stress once you’re ready to make an offer on the home of your dreams.

As always, we’re here to help! If you need mortgage assistance, call or stop in today.