Financial literacy and stability is the key to your future. Let Billfold give you a few hints on how to navigate your personal finances. See Bill's suggested articles below.
6 Questions First-Time Home Buyers Should Ask Themselves
How do you know if you are ready to become a homeowner? Here are six areas you will want to consider that will make your decision to buy a home the right one.
1. Are you ready to settle down?
Do you have a steady income? Are you looking to be in your current job for a while? Are you ready to start a family? Are you ready for the responsibilities of home ownership? Are you ready to use some of your skills, or maybe the skills of a family member or friend and make a property your home? If you feel you are ready, it’s time to make a list of the things you must have in a home. How many bedrooms? How many square feet? How many bathrooms? Ranch or split level? 1,2 or 3 car garage? How much yard? Town or country? How far from work? School district?
2. Is your credit history good?
Though it is a good idea to always stay on top of your current credit situation, if you are interested in homeownership, it is a great excuse to do it now. If you have blemished credit or the inability to make a down payment it might get in the way of your plans. That's why it pays to look at your creditworthiness early in the home-buying process. Get your free annual credit report at www.annualcreditreport.com, and comb through it for errors and unresolved issues. It is also a great way to have an opportunity to do some credit “clean-up” if there is anything in your credit score or rating that might be holding you back. If you find mistakes, contact the credit reporting bureau to make sure they are corrected.
Typically you can be approved for up to 28% of your gross income.
A Cedar Point Mortgage Services Representative can help you see where you are financially and determine what would be the best price range for you to consider. Be sure to bring one month's proof of income and statements of debts paid each month.
Your Cedar Point Representative can describe the many products available including information about rates, down payments if needed, and closing costs. In addition, they can help you understand the process of obtaining the right mortgage for you.
Cedar Point Federal Credit Union is an Equal Housing Lender.
5. Have you looked at the houses that are available?
3. Do you have all your documents ready?
Collect pay stubs, bank account statements, W-2s, tax returns for the past 2 years, statements from current loans and credit lines, and names and addresses of your landlords for the past 2 years. Have them ready to share with a potential lender such as your local credit union. This may seem like a lot, but in this age of tight credit, don't be surprised if your lender needs a lot in the way of documentation.
4. Find lenders and get pre-qualified.
Getting pre-qualified for a mortgage helps you bargain from a position of strength when you are house hunting. Cedar Point Federal Credit Union is a good place to start your search.
Talk to reputable Realtors in your area about the real estate climate. They will have insight into the current market in the area you are interested in. They will know what’s available and often times can have insights on properties that are not yet officially on the market. Of course there are commissions that realtors earn and you can seek online resources to find potential homes. Realtors, however, can help with the all the paperwork from offers to counter offers to the closing. Their insight can be a huge advantage.
6. Do you know how a mortgage will impact your budget?
You could use a mortgage calculator from your local credit union to get an idea of what your monthly mortgage payments would be if you bought at a certain price. Find out what your total monthly housing cost would be, including taxes and homeowners’ insurance. Another area that can surprise new home buyers is how much you'll likely pay in closing costs. The upfront cost of settling on your home shouldn't be overlooked.
Closing costs include origination fees charged by the lender, title and settlement fees, taxes and prepaid items like homeowners’ insurance or homeowners' association fees. Any information that would make this purchase fit your wallet, bank account and future better is recommended. It will be a major purchase, but if done correctly and within your budget, it will be one of the best financial decisions you can make.
7 Tips to Help You Avoid Identity Theft
Every two seconds an American becomes a victim of identity theft. If the thought of having to clean up your credit report because someone stole your identity frightens you, and you don’t want to become another statistic; here are some tips to stack the odds in your favor.
1. Don't carry your Social Security card
A winning night can turn into a nightmare really fast if your wallet is lost, or stolen, especially if personal information like your social security card is in there. Do not carry your social security card. And, just as importantly, make copies of all your cards. That way, if they're stolen, you can report it quickly and accurately.
2. Use hard-to-guess passwords and pins
You can bet that if you use easy to guess passwords and PINS—like your house number, or birth date—some hacker will figure it out. Use a mix of symbols and numbers, and upper and lower case letters.
3. Use your instinct
If an overly generic e-mail address doesn’t look legit, don’t reply, and don’t click on any links. Go to your account log-ins manually using a bookmark, or typing the URL.
4. We won't call you for personal info
Know that your credit union will never call, or e-mail asking for your social security number, or birth date. If a business, or individual asks for personal information, passwords, or credit card numbers--do not give them. Instead, call any financial institution requesting information directly at a number you know is legitimate.
5. Secure electronic devices
Make sure all your electronic devices are as secure as possible by up-dating your operating systems, software and browsers; being up-to-date will minimize chances of being hacked. And, password-protect all of your devices, so that if stolen, logging in will be more difficult.
Some of the easiest targets for identity thieves are home trash bins. Shred invoices, financial statements, or any other personal type documents. Don’t just toss them; shred them.
7. Check your online accounts regularly.
There are three credit-reporting bureaus...a trifecta-for analyzing your activity. Check a different bureau every four months at annualcreditreports.com. If you see anything suspicious, report it.
How to Talk With Your Grandkids About Money
Unless you talk to your grandkids about money, how are you going to positively influence them? Here are some ways to start the conversation--and it’s not about writing them a check:
• Tell stories from your own life. It can be as simple as explaining how you saved for your first car or how you managed when money was tight.
• Talk about how prices have changed. Historical context can be interesting to kids, particularly when it involves how inexpensive common goods or brand names they're familiar with used to be.
• Bring up savings when you give gifts. Christmas and birthdays can be a good time to encourage your grandkids to save with a money gift.
• Hire your grands. Create opportunities for them to listen and share in money conversations by offering to pay them an hourly wage to do chores around the house.
Talking about money can be more important than handing it over. Engage your grandchildren in money conversations that help them see how you got where you are today. If you have resources to help out, that’s just a bonus.
Share the credit union difference with your loved ones. Tell them about the advantages of membership at Cedar Point Federal Credit Union and encourage them to contact us.
Your College Financial Checklist
When it comes to paying for your child's college education, tuition's not the only expense to consider. There's also housing, books and supplies, travel, and more…and you'll want to involve your student in the planning and payments.
With your student, determine your family's financial resources, looking at college savings accounts, your current incomes, and the amount you're willing to borrow. It's good to involve your student so that you can decide together what makes sense.
College websites list their specific costs for tuition, room and board, and fees, and estimated costs for books, supplies, and miscellaneous expenses. Families have discretion in managing the variable expenses, so it's important to identify each one and determine how to handle it. Sit down with your student and determine what's really needed and what's a luxury.
Be sure to include these expenses in the conversation:
• Books, fees, and supplies
• Health insurance
• Athletics, sororities and fraternities, and clubs
• Refrigerator and/or microwave
• Rugs, extra-long sheets, lamps, and other dorm-room items
• Toiletries and cleaning products
• Laundry supplies
• Groceries and snacks
• Social outings
After estimating your student's college expenses, discuss who'll cover which ones, and where the money will come from. There's no one rule that fits all—it depends on your family.
Students may pay for their miscellaneous expenses with their summer earnings, or through a part-time job during school. This gives students the opportunity to make good choices—they're closest to the situation and can compare costs.
Homebuying with Student Debt: Myths and Facts
Information in this article is provided by Freddie Mac
First Time Home Buyers
Avoiding Identity Theft
Talk to Your Grandkids
College Financial Checklist
Homebuying with Student Debt: Myths and Facts
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