Author Archives: Daniel Packer

Is it a Good Time to Buy a Home?

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Chase Mortgage Banking for IZEA. All opinions are 100% mine.

According to a survey conducted by Chase Mortgage Banking in March 2015, last year’s somewhat mixed results when it came to the real estate market have made way for a new sense of optimism this year when it comes to buying a new home. The survey entailed the polling of responses from 1098 Americans from all across the country and the results were really interesting.

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The implication is that the recovery of the real estate sector, though delayed in 2014, will gain momentum again in the next two years – 3 out of 10 Americans surveyed responded that they intended to buy a new home in the next year and a half.

Respondents not only seem more optimistic about the state of the economy but also more optimistic about the navigation of red tape. Of the respondents surveyed, 43% felt that it would be simpler to qualify for a loan this year, as opposed to last year.

About a fifth of those surveyed stated that the rising cost of rent is their number one reason to buy, making owning a better value.

Around about a fifth of current homeowners surveyed stated their wish to upgrade their home as their primary reason for buying property.

This, in conjunction, with the currently low mortgage interest rates does make the buyer’s market very attractive at the moment, with around about a third of respondents believing it would be a good idea to buy fairly soon, before the rates increase again.

It seems that it is a delicate balancing act on the part of banks – 35% of those surveyed admitted that interest rates higher than 4% would make them put off buying a new home.

It is not all optimism though – around 70% of respondents feared that they may have missed the boat to buy at the best time because of rising home prices.

The truth lies somewhere in the middle – home prices have risen but that does not mean that there are no more good deals to be gotten. With the current low interest rates, and the definite optimism about the economy, it is certainly still a good time to buy your own home.

What does make this survey so interesting is that Chase Mortgage Banking clearly understands their market and what is important to prospective and current homeowners. The survey even delved down into common misconceptions when it came to buying a house and a great need for more information regarding the mortgage process was identified.

Almost half the respondents admitted to not being worried about understanding how the whole process worked and only 1 in 4 respondents were able to correctly answer questions relating to rates charged, lenders and down payments.

For most people, buying a house can feel quite overwhelming. But Chase Mortgage Bank helps to make it easier, with their tools and resources available to anyone who would like to use them – client or not. Visit Chase Mortgage Banking for information.

If you want to find out what mortgage installment you will be paying a month, their mortgage calculator can help with that in a few seconds. If you just want to buff up you knowledge regarding the procedures, you’ll find all you need on their site.

Need some expert, one on one advice about whether or not you are ready to take the plunge? Head over to My New Home YouTube channel and watch the videos, featuring people like you and me, to help you make up your mind.

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How To Save on Work Related Expenses

How To Save on Work Related ExpensesTransitioning from college to work is always difficult (I remember being exhausted in meetings at my first job and struggling to stay awake). Aside from paying for rent, insurance, and student loans for the first time, work related expenses add up quickly. Here are some tips to help you save money on costs associated with having a job that your employer won’t cover.

Bring Your Own Beverage

Water – A bottled water or soda typically costs $1. If you buy one bottled drink per day you work, it ends up totaling about $250 each year. Cut this cost by buying a reusable water bottle. I got one on Amazon for $12 and it ended up encouraging me to drink more water throughout the day, too.

Added Benefit: Recycling containers are not always easily available. Only about 30% of plastic bottles are recycled, so by bringing your own water bottle, you reduce the amount of waste out there.

Coffee – There are many jokes about how expensive it is to buy coffee at Starbucks. However, online calculators can help compare the costs of making it at home versus purchasing from Starbucks. According to USA Today’s calculator, one cup of coffee a day from Starbucks will end up costing you $766.50 a year compared to just $29.20 if you make your cup of coffee at home. The cost of coffee isn’t astronomical, but if you’re looking to save, this is a great place to start.

Buying Gas

Driving a car is a necessity in most of America. There are several ways to reduce your gas costs:

  1. Research before you buy a car – When you go to buy a car, check to make sure it does not need Premium gas and that the car you buy gets decent gas mileage.
  2. Gas saving apps – You no longer need to drive around (and waste gas) searching for a good deal. Apps like GasBuddy help you find the lowest gas prices in your area. If it’s not out of the way, it’s definitely worth it.
  3. Gas Rewards Programs – Some credit cards offer cash back on gas purchases. Check for grocery stores that also sell gas in your area as they often have discounts.

Lunch

This one is the most controversial. You might wonder how much you save when you add in the time it takes to prepare a lunch. There is also the social aspect of lunch (i.e. developing relationships with co-workers and managers) so this isn’t always exclusively a financial decision.

You can realize savings from taking your lunch to work (brown bagging). If you spend $3 on the lunch you bring vs. $9 on a take out meal (which is about the norm where I am), you would save an average of $130 per month. You also save time and gas money because you are not driving to and from restaurants. Even if you allow yourself to go out with coworkers once a week, you can still pocket about $100 a month in savings by packing yourself a lunch each day.

Added Benefit: You will probably eat healthier if you bring your own lunch.

Freeing Up Money

Your place of employment is where you should be raking in the dough, not spending it. While some work related expenses are unavoidable, you can limit the financial impact they’ll have on you. When you save money on costs like gas, food, and drinks, you free up your money for other priorities, like saving in a Roth IRA. Temptations like restaurant meals and nice outfits can suck money out of your bank account at the age when it’s easiest to save money. Try visualizing yourself attaining a financial goal (like a student loan balance of zero) to develop and maintain good money saving habits.

Investing Tips for Young Investors

It is never too early to start investing and the younger you start, the better the future looks for you. Setting up a diversified investment portfolio is one of the best financial moves that you can make. You need to consider your long-term investment and immediate investment goals – wealth building is about more than just having an emergency fund and retirement savings in place. You need to consider diversity in terms of both type of investment and investment risk in order to be successful.

What follows are the top investment tips:

Begin Early

The sooner you start saving, the faster your nest egg is going to grow and the more financial freedom you will have in future. Set up an account to save for your retirement and contribute to it every month by debit order. Saving for retirement becomes automatic and your capital and interest compound nicely. And you’ll benefit when it is time to do your tax return.

Diversify

Retirement accounts are a good saving vehicle but they should not be the only one that you employ. You also need to look at other types of investments like CFDs with CMC Markets and other stock-based investments so that you have higher potential returns.

Of course, the higher the potential return is, the higher the risk to your capital is but if you have a well-diversified portfolio and are in it for the long haul, the gains will outstrip the losses overall.

It is when you are young that you have the best chance of recovering from investments that go wrong and, if you truly want to be wealthy, you need to take a few risks to reap the rewards.

With a diversified portfolio, you can choose to keep some money in low-risk, low-return investments such as a treasury bond, some in a more moderate risk account such as managed funds and some in higher risk transactions such as stock transactions to hedge your bets.

Do It Yourself When Possible

Working with a personal broker or investing in a managed fund is the easier way to go but costs more – money that you could be using to build more wealth.

Learning how the stock market works, how derivatives work, etc. can help you make your own decisions when it comes to which products to buy, which calls to make, etc.

There are a lot of firms online that allow you to run your investment account at a fraction of the cost of a traditional investment brokerage house and also provide free training and resources to enable you to do this properly.

It is then up to you to check the market and make decisions based on that – you will just need to weigh up potential gains against transactional costs when buying and selling.

Review Your Strategy and Keep Up to Date

You will need to periodically review your strategy, especially when your life circumstances change. You also need to keep track of developments in the market and how they may affect your investment portfolio. You need to review your progress to ensure that you are still on track in terms of your goals in terms of growth and make adjustments if necessary.

Investments Are a Priority

This is probably the most important piece of advice and one that people often ignore – especially when there is something else that they want to spend money on. Look at your investment money as a fixed expense like your rent or car payment. Build your investment each and every month and make it a priority to do so.