By

Lois Center-Shabazz

14 Ways to Save Money for the Holiday Season

14 ways to save money for the holiday season

14 Ways To Save Money for the Holiday Season

Shop with Cash for the Holiday Season

Save money for the holiday season by shopping with cash, sounds simple but the number or people who shop with credit cards, feeling that their budget is unlimited is huge. You don’t have to fail at holiday shopping just because your neighbor is, or you THINK everyone else is. Your misery afterwards will only be shared by you, not others. So, when you keep that in mind that will make it easier to shop with cash and save money for the holiday season. Also considered cash, is a standalone debit card, where you can go to your bank and ask to purchase a debit card with the maximum amount you want to spend. You can also purchase debit cards everywhere these days, grocery stores, drug stores and other places.

Save Money When You Set Aside a Limited Amount for the Holiday Season

If you have saved in a holiday savings account, take the money now to shop for the holidays. If you have not, start a savings account now, you still have time to save for the holidays. No matter what you plan to buy, there absolutely must be a limit to avoid going into debt. Set your limit and stick with it no matter what. You can find out how much everything cost and do comparison shopping by going online, online price comparisons are quick and easy.

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Make Sure You Shop with a List

Take your list with you when you shop. Save time, money and gas by mapping out your route before you shop. Some folks will go from store to store wasting precious gas money, sometimes as far away as 20 or 30 miles. Know before you go holiday shopping by 1. Knowing exactly what you plan to buy, 2. Know where you plan to buy it, 3. choose several stores in the same location so you don’t waste money on gas.

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Don’t Shop During the Holiday Season When You are Tired or Hungry

If you holiday shop when you are tired or hungry, you will tend to over-shop, so you leave the store quickly. Your thought process becomes “muddled” and you buy stuff you would not have bought if you were relaxed and on a full stomach. And, when you’re tired you will tend to make mistakes due to a cloud in your thought patterns. When you are hungry, your stomach starts to growl, you will think more about getting something to eat than what you are picking up off the shelves. So, sounds like common sense, but a lot of people just don’t take the time to note whether they are hungry or tired before they go holiday shopping, so a warning to you, “take note” of your condition before you leave the house.

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Your Kids May Not be the Best People to Help You Buy Holiday Gifts

Don’t ask your kids for advice on buying gifts for others. Most kids just don’t have the ability to understand the limits you should put on every single gift. So, you be the “captain of the gift buying ship” and decide what you will buy, and only you decide. Of course, you can ask your kids to give you choices for themselves and let them know you will choose a few holiday gifts from their choices. Don’t let your kids think “money grows on trees” during the holidays, let them know there is a limit.

Can You Really Afford That Holiday Party?

Holiday parties are all over the place during the holidays. But, before you go all out for your holiday party, ask yourself if it makes sense to spend the money. To make it an affordable holiday party, you can do a “potluck”, where everyone brings a dish. And to make it less work for you, ask a few friends or family to be on the cleanup crew. Ask everyone to bring a unisex gift under $10, and pick names from a hat to give a gift at the party. Here I have created at least 3 ways to save money during the holiday season.

Why Holiday Gifts Don’t Always Cost Money

You can teach your kids or grandkids that holiday gifts don’t always cost money. For example, you know that pantry you wanted to clean and organize – let you child know that would be a great Christmas gift to Mom. Your elderly neighbor’s yard may need to be cut and trimmed – let your child know that would be a great gift to the neighbor who watches your house when you are on vacation or who brings in your newspaper when you come home late. Maybe your attic is cluttered and disorganized, let your children know that would be a great gift to Mom and Dad to have them declutter and organize the attic. These are a few suggestions for “holiday gifts” that don’t always cost money, you can think of more.

Your Holiday Budget Does Not Have to be Complicated

Plan for your holiday budget. When it comes to your holiday budget, please don’t throw “caution to the wind”. In other words, take your holiday shopping serious and you can save serious money during the holidays. It is easy to get distracted with all the beautiful holiday decorations and Christmas music in the stores. Even if you shop online, which many of us love to do, most of us want that holiday experience in the stores also. But, be careful, that experience is alluring. But you can keep your head on straight as long as you realize that the atmosphere is designed to make you spend all the money in your pocket and on your credit card.

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Save Money with Re-arrangement For Your Holiday Budget

You can re-arrange your monthly spending to include enough gift money for the holidays. Cut back on something you don’t need to buy or do for the next few months, that you have done on a regular basis. That may be going out to eat once a week or saving money on gas by skipping your weekly card game. You can think of at least a few things you regularly do that you can cut back on for the holidays, then use that money for holiday spending.

Write Down Your Holiday Budget and Your Holiday Gifts

The more you write, the more you save. Writing down your savings just keeps you, your mind and heart, informed about the money you are spending moment by moment. If you know how much you must spend, in most cases you won’t go over your spending amount. It also lets you know when it is time to leave the store or online shopping site. The more you write, the more you will become aware of your limits. All you need is a small diary, some cell phones come with a writing pad, you can use that. Also, you can use a word document if your cell phone permits.

Write a Diary of Holiday Gifts and Why Everyone Deserves it

Know who deserves which holiday gift. Make a note of why they deserve the gift. For example, 1. If your son brought his grades up and learned to keep his room clean, 2. If your daughter does household chores without being told. 3. The times your neighbor took you grocery shopping and to run errands when your car was in the shop. 4. When your sister helped you get your car fixed after you lost your job. These are just a few examples, but you get the idea. The holiday gifts should be in line with the deeds. The holidays are a great opportunity to let folks know that you appreciate them and what they have done for you during the holidays. It is also a great opportunity to teach your kids or grandkids why we give gifts with a purpose.

Set a Holiday Budget Spending Limit According to Importance

You know what your holiday spending limit is. Unfortunately, too many shoppers go over that limit before they realize they put themselves in holiday debt. Keep the credit card in your pocket. You can use cash or get a debit card with a limit, at your bank. So, if your Holiday spending limit is $500 dollars, you would get a debit card for $500 and keep track of all your receipts and balances left.

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Remember That You Don’t Ever Have to Spoil Your Kids During the Holidays

I haven’t figured this out yet, but some parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, feel it is important to spoil their kids for the holidays. My suspicion is they feel their kids won’t feel loved if they don’t get all the material things they want. Not true. Love is not gifting it is positive time and attention. So, when you feel you have to buy that over-priced gift or another gift they may not use after a short time, try sitting and have a long thought-out conversation with your child about their life, and what they do when they leave the house, their friends, their favorite interest. Kids feel important when adults, especially their parents show them they care enough to have a deep and long conservations with them about their interest. So, the gifts should not only be in line with what they deserve, but also, what you can afford.

Who is The Most Important Person on Your Holiday List?

Make a list of your holiday persons. I know this sounds like favoritism and it is, so start at the top and move to the bottom with a list of the most important to the least important people to give a holiday gift to. The most important may be a spouse, parent or child who has been special to you during the year, the least important may be the holiday secret gift at work. No matter who gets a gift, make sure you keep it in perspective and give accordingly.

I have listed 14 ways to save money for the holiday season, now that I have you started, you can think of more.

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Should You Sell Your Home With a Real Estate Agent or Sale by Owner

Sell Your Home With a Real Estate Agent and Avoid Major Mistakes

Should you sell your home by a real estate agent or sale by owner

Here are major issues you may face selling your home by owner:

  1. Real estate agents know the process and documents you need to execute the entire selling process properly.
  2. The real estate agent will understand how to fill out all the real estate documents correctly.
  3. The real estate agent can monitor the process and make sure everything is done in a timely manner. They will get the right documents, and help you find the right mortgage and escrow company, title company or real estate attorney.
  4. Sometimes the real estate agent can negotiate a higher price for your home, than you can since they know the price trends in your area.
  5. Safety is a major concern when you do a “sell by owner”. When a real estate agent brings someone to your home, they have usually vetted them and met them at the real estate office in advance. Most of the potential buyers you let into your home will drop in randomly from the sign in your yard, so they may have sinister ideas when they come visit, and are not actually looking for a home.

I don’t recommend that anyone sell their home by owner unless you have a buyer you know already as a friend, relative, neighbor, or close associate. Make sure you research the process thoroughly before you start.

The only reason I can think of that anyone would want to sell a “home by owner” to the greater is that 1. You MUST sell to move 2. Don’t have enough equity to pay a real estate agency (the fee is as much as 6%-7% of the sales price).

I have sold two homes as a “for sale by owner” seller. So, it is possible to do a “sell your home by owner” home sell, but It wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be. If you sell you home with a real estate agent you will avoid mistakes that can cost you later.

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I made the decision since I had not owned the one home long enough to generate enough equity to pay a real estate agent commission, they other home I wanted all of the equity for a down payment on my next home.

These are the things I learned from my actual experience, my research, talking to real estate agents, and talking to others who had sold a home. I spoke with two friends who are ex-real estate agents, and they helped me quite a bit.

I also took an appraisal course many years ago in anticipation of starting a real estate appraisal business. I did not start the business, but I learned a lot about appraising homes.

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First, expect to be bombarded by real agent’s eager to list your home, when they see your, “For Sale by Owner” sign. They will contact you over and over hoping that you will become frustrated with the whole process, throw up your hands and say, “where is that pesky real estate agent? I’m listing my house with her or him, yesterday!” Unfortunately, sometimes you will feel like that, but don’t give up too soon.

The following “for sale by owner” information should be helpful: 

  1. There are many legal forms, those dreaded forms! They are dreaded but necessary for the legal transfer of your property to another person. You will need legal real estate sales and disclosure documents for your home sale.

You can get these documents from a title company or you can pay a real estate lawyer to do the work for you. The real estate lawyer will provide you with the documents and fill them out correctly, for no more than an hourly fee. Verify his/her fee, the time it will take, and agree on a fee before he/she fills out the documents.

  1. Then you need to decide how much to sell your house for. If your asking price is too high, your home could stay on the market a long time. If your asking price is too low you may lose money you deserve. There are several ways to find out the right sales price. If the homes in your neighborhood are very similar, i.e. square footage, number of bedrooms (bathrooms), and similar size yard, you can use the recent sales from the last two homes like yours, in your immediate neighborhood. It gets a bit more complicated when the homes are all different, but appraisers use a similar method.
  1. You will have to find homes with your similar square footage, number of bedrooms, number of bathrooms, and if the home is on a lake, gulf course or ocean, or has a lot of land. You can also pay for a sales appraisal, use your local yellow pages for a listing of real estate appraisers. The next option is to check city or county records. Just call your local city records office and ask them where you can find information on the most recent home sales in your area. Verify which of these homes are like yours and use those comparisons to price your home.
  1. Fix up your home to make it presentable to sell. That includes electrical and plumbing in tip-top shape, clean carpet, clean walls, clean doors, an attractive front door, and well-groomed landscaping, and maintenance painting, just to name a few.
  2. Let the buyer know that he/she can pay for an independent inspection of your home, and put it in writing. The new buyer can have an inspection for plumbing, electrical, and structural soundness as well as other things. To be on the safe side, I paid for an independent inspection on my home sells, I had several things fixed as a result, before I sold the home.
  3. Let them know that they need to choose a mortgage company, you can also talk to mortgage companies up front. Both buyers in my case had never purchased a home. So, I did some research on the best mortgage companies in the area and gave them several to choose from, this just helped to speed up the process.

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The mortgage company gave them title companies to choose from or they can search for their own title company. For safety purposes, you could have the person go to your mortgage company of choice and get pre-qualified, before you show your home. This way you will know, who the person is, and that they are serious about purchasing your home.

  1. Talk to escrow companies before your put your home up for sale, (in the case of fee simple states-talk to a title company or real estate lawyer for closing).
  2. Now let’s get back to those pesky real estate agents. There may be an aggressive real estate agent or two who will present you a buyer. If that agent is willing to take 3 or 4%, which very few can, and they have a buyer, then you may want to talk, if your equity covers that reduced commission.

The problem you may experience is trying to negotiate with an experienced real estate agent, they will most likely try to get you to reduce your price for their buyer. Make sure you add up your cost, 4% to the realtor, fixing up the home for sale, your mortgage sellers cost (sellers usually pay around 2%), and your moving cost. This is one of the disadvantages you face when you sell your home with a real estate agent and you don’t have much equity.

Do you have enough equity in your home to pay these costs and still have a substantial amount to put down on another home? Most homeowners who sell their own home, do so because they don’t have enough equity to pay a real estate agent cost of 6 or 7%.

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So, don’t let an experienced real estate agent come along and talk you into decreasing the price of your home, and giving them 3 or 4% real estate commission, in that case you could have hired a real estate agent to do everything to begin with, and the agent could get full commission for your home. If there is not enough equity to pay the commission, you will have to come out of pocket to pay the commission, using an agent.

  1. Keep yourself safe. Consider “for sale by owner” only when you can’t justify the real estate agents commission (6-7% of sales cost). Take appointments from interested buyers, get caller ID and ask for their name and address first. Send a postcard to the address your potential buyer gives you to remind them of their appointment. If the postcard comes back, “not at this address” cancel the appointment.

10. Ask lots of questions on the phone of your potential buyer. Get their name, address, and employment and salary, if they are pre-qualified for a loan or if they will pay in cash, before you give them an appointment. Ask to see an ID before they look. Verify information you are given by searching the internet for their presence. Use a private investigator to authenticate information if you can afford it.

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Doing a “for sale by owner” can also be done by companies that help with the process. In other words, most areas have “for sale by owner” real estate agencies that assist you with the process to make sure the sells process is done right and they will help to keep you safe. These agencies usually charge a flat fee. Here you can “have your cake and eat it too”, you will sell your home with a real estate agent, but do it at a greatly reduced cost. The process and the contracts are different for each state, be sure to research your state.

If you have plenty of equity in your home, a real estate agent should be your first option. Make sure you get references on which real estate agent to use, don’t choose one at random. There are good agents and bad agents.

Lois Center-Shabazz | Course Delta Agency

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7 Steps of Budget Planning to Avoid Financial Disasters

Budgeting Planning to Avoid Financial Disasters

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  1. The First Step of Budget Planning to Avoid Financial Disasters 

Budget planning to avoid financial disasters starts with not buying too big with the big stuff such as cars and homes is one of the biggest reasons many cannot withstand a small business or personal financial disaster. Many of us forget that there are affordable ways to buy homes and cars to avoid future financial disasters. What happens, is that these two items are based on way too much emotional buying. Keep your head on straight by researching before you purchase. Learn more on my instagram.

Ask questions like; Do I really need a new car? What will the warranty maintenance cost on my new car? What if I purchase the same car 3-4 years old, what would the savings be? If you have a job, no matter how secure you think you are, that security could be in jeopardy at any time. So, purchasing a car that you can buy cash or with very low payments will be the better option. The same holds true with a home, if it is too large, with a stressful payment, the smaller home with the lower payment, that carries less stress may be a better option.

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  1. Stay Properly Insured

The second step to budget planning to avoid financial disasters seems to be plain old common sense. But, sometimes people with a home and car let important insurances lapse due to illness or thinking they don’t have the time, they let important insurance lapse, due to simple negligence. Stay fully insured with a car, home, health, life, and if you own a business – all applicable business insurance. A small business lawsuit should always be covered with business liability insurance, not your personal assets –  so, don’t take the chance.

  1. Don’t Waste When Times are Good and Income is High

We have had many economic downturns and upturns in the past several decades. The one regret I have heard a lot when I talk to people who make a lot of money when times are good is — “I lost my mind when I had a lot of money, and spent without regard to the reality to the future, then a financial disaster came”. Because nothing is guaranteed, even good times, it is important to handle your money as if the money will stop anytime, that will help protect your assets.

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  1. Let Your Kids know Money Doesn’t Grow on Trees

There are some parents who, despite much evidence to the contrary, feel it is important their kids need to have all the material trapping they did not have. It is not necessary, and it is not true. Your kids will literally begin to think that money grows on trees and drops from the sky. Your kids know you love them when you give them positive time and attention, so it is not necessary to spoil them, and it may lead to a financial disaster. You can reward them without giving them too much, some parents to the tune of going bankrupt. At this point your kids probably are not aware of potential financial disasters, but at least you can start to teach them money skills.

  1. Have a Sick Fund for Days Not Covered by Extended Illness

Most jobs have sick leave, most small businesses have no sick leave unless they create it themselves. As an employee, you may run out of sick leave if you have an extended illness. Save money in a sick fund to cover an extended illness. This is especially important for small business owners.

  1. Make Your Savings a Bill

Create a general savings fund and treat it like a bill. You are probably seeing a pattern here. Saving money as several bills is just as important as paying existing bills. It should be a part of a general budget plan for financial disasters.

  1. Don’t Borrow From Your 401k, Borrow From Your General Savings

As far as I am concerned, borrowing from a 401k is a budget planning financial disaster unless you are suffering from a fatal illness, borrowing from your 401k should not be a consideration. You should have an automatic saving account for financial disasters that you can borrow from.
The 7 steps of budget planning to avoid financial disasters will above will get you on the way to solid financial success.

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Lois Center-Shabazz | Course Delta Agency

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7 Tips for a Budgeting Basic Bounce

Budgeting basic may be defined as follows. Ever heard the expression, “I don’t know where my money goes” another is, I don’t have the things I need and can’t afford any of the things I want”. If this is a problem you have, you may want to look at your budgeting basic skills, and read this budgeting advice, paying close attention to the process of creating your optimal budget, and then sticking to it.

1. Start With the Essentials

Your budgeting basic should include your essentials to start with. You must have a home, food, and water, at a minimum to exist. So, those are the things you should budget for and pay for, first.
A) Rent, Food, Utilities, Car Payment (if you must have a car for work)

A Budgeting Bounce Can Take Your Budget Over the Top    --Lois

If you don’t pay for insurance your car can be impounded and your home would not be replaced if it is destroyed by fire. So of course, insurance is an essential budgeting basic. You could lose your credit rating if you don’t have car insurance and an accident is your fault. The other person’s insurance company can charge you with the payout and lien your credit. In most, if not all states liability car insurance is the law.
B) Homeowners insurance, or Renters insurance, and Car insurance

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If you become ill, could lose your home and assets to a hospital lien? Possibly. To prevent this, you must have health insurance always as a budgeting basic. If you do not have health insurance, in most cases a hospital will treat you and charge the bill to you, with collection calls to pay up, until you satisfy your bill.
C) Health Insurance

If you have loved ones, that is children or a spouse who will need help with bill paying and life maintenance in the event of an untimely death, you should have life insurance, it can be an inexpensive policy, but it is wise to have something.
D) Life Insurance is a budgeting basic

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2. Make Your Hierarchy

Make a hierarchy of your most important to least important needs. Make a list of the most important to the least important budgeting basic items you pay monthly. Try to pay the top 3-6 items, no matter what, even in the event of a financial emergency, and the bottom 3 that can be temporarily eliminated in a dire emergency.

Slay Your Finances Like Your Life Depended on It,    --Lois

3. Your Savings Please

You will have unexpected expenses from time to time, so an emergency savings may cover those expenses, it will also be your cushion for your top three monthly expenses. Make this savings account a bill that is taken from your checking account or your check monthly so you don’t have to stress paying saving it. Even if it is only $50 per month, start saving now, it adds up. If you can afford more, put in more.

4. Filling in Gaps

Fill in gaps for your quarterly, semi-annual, and yearly items. Some of your expenses will be quarterly, some may be twice yearly, and others once a year. Create savings for these items, pull the money out monthly to fund these irregular accounts when they come due. When the item comes up, take the money from this account, instead of from your monthly pay- check.

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5. Maintenance Savings Budget

A second emergency account should be for general maintenance. This is a big item that throws off many budgets. Instead of borrowing money for a car or home repair, borrow it from your maintenance savings budget. This saving account could also include your vacation savings.

6. Your Peace of mind

Every time you think of going off your budget, think about the peace of mind you will get from having a balanced budget, paying your major bills with ease every month, and having extra to cover unforeseen expenses. Your strict organization is the key to a great budget, this is a general organizational plan. You will create a specific plan for your budget, allow this plan to be your guide.

7. Get Help With Your Budget, Don’t do it Blindly

Pick up your free personal finance gifts now, track your spending and plug holes in your budget for extra money toward expenses or savings. Use the simple but powerful, Budget Plan to guerrilla plan your budget with an extreme organization now.

Lois Center-Shabazz | Course Delta Agency
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9 Great Ways to Understand Mutual Funds

How to Understand Mutual Funds

9 Great Ways to Understand Mutual Funds

Understand mutual funds by beginning with the definition of a mutual fund, and then going on to understand the different types of mutual funds.

A mutual fund is a company that pools money from many investors and invests the money in securities such as stocks, bonds, and short-term debt.

The combined holdings of the mutual fund are known as its portfolio. Investors buy shares in mutual funds. Each share represents an investor’s part
ownership in the fund and the income it generates.

What Are Mutual Funds Used For?

Mutual funds are investments that are generally long-term investments that are used for general savings, retirement savings, and college fund savings.

Mutual funds are purchased because they are professionally managed, diversified investments, an affordable investment, and liquid.

Some have up front fees to purchase and or sell called loads. Some have no-loads, but all have yearly management fees from as low as .2 to 8%.

I prefer fees less than 1% with no-loads. There are good mutual funds that fall into all categories.

Mutual funds make money when dividends are paid, usually every 3 months to every 12 months. Capital gains are usually every 12 months. Mutual funds also make money when the NAV value of the fund increases. The NAV is the Net Asset Value of the mutual fund, similar to the price of a single share of stock.
There are many types of mutual funds within these nine types of mutual funds. Here are the 9 different major types of mutual funds. The risks of mutual fund investing runs the gamut of very low to very high and many levels in between within one type of fund. Do your research thoroughly before investing in order to understand mutual funds.

I have invested in mutual funds for at least 30 years now, and they have served me well.

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The 9 Different Types of Mutual Funds:

1. Allocation
Risk: Low to Medium

Allocation funds are a combination of stock and fixed income securities and are subject to the risks involved in each of these security types. Stock markets are volatile and can fluctuate significantly in response to company, industry, political, regulatory, market, or economic developments. In general, the bond market
is volatile and fixed income securities that carry the interest rate, inflation, price volatility and other risks.

2. Alternative
Risk: From Low Risk to High

The fund may invest in securities that may have a leveraging effect (such as derivative and forward-settling securities) which may increase market exposure, magnify investment risks, and cause losses to be realized more quickly.

3. Commodities
Risk: High

The commodities industry can be significantly affected by commodity prices, world events, import controls, worldwide competition, government regulations, and economic conditions.

4. International Equity
Risk: Medium to High

Foreign markets can be more volatile than U.S. markets due to increased risks of adverse issuer, political, market, or economic developments, all of which are magnified in emerging markets. These risks are particularly significant for funds that focus on a single country or region.

Make absolutely sure your budget is in order before you begin to understand mutual funds and start investing.

5. Money Market Mutual Funds
Risk: Very Low

A money market mutual fund is a type of fixed income mutual fund that invests in debt securities characterized by their short maturities and minimal credit risk. You could lose money by investing in a money market fund. An investment in a money market fund is not insured or guaranteed by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation or any other government agency. Before investing always read a money market fund’s prospectus for policies specific to that fund.

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6. Municipal Bond Mutual Funds
Risk: Very Low to Low

The municipal market can be affected by adverse tax, legislative or political changes and the financial condition of the issuers of municipal securities. Interest rate increases can cause the price of a municipal bond to decrease.

7. Sector Equity Mutual Funds
Risk: Medium to High

Stock markets, especially foreign markets, are volatile and can decline significantly in response to adverse issuer, political, regulatory, market, or economic developments. Sector funds can be more volatile because of their narrow concentration in a specific industry.

8. Taxable Bond Mutual Funds
Risk: Very Low to Medium

In general, the bond market is volatile, and fixed income securities carry interest rate risk. As interest rates rise, bond prices usually fall, and vice versa. Fixed income securities also carry inflation risk, liquidity risk, call risk, and credit and default risks. Unlike individual bonds, most bond funds do not have a maturity date, so avoiding losses caused by price volatility by holding them until maturity is not possible.

9. U.S. Equity Stock Mutual Funds
Risk: Low to Medium

Stock markets are volatile and can fluctuate significantly in response to company, industry, political, regulatory, market, or economic developments. Investing in stock involves risks, including the loss of principal.

You will understand mutual funds when you begin with understanding the different types of mutual funds.

Lois Center-Shabazz | Course Delta Agency
Personal Finance: Author, Blogger, Course Creator, Money Strategist

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7 Small Business Ideas That May Mean Your Ready For Business

Your Small Business Ideas

Small business ideas that mean your ready for business

Whether or not you are successful in business appears to be closely correlated with your type of business. The U.S. Census Business Dynamics database plotted a five-year survival rate of several industries since 2005.

The research showed the success of rates of industries from construction to mining with a success rate between 36% to 51%.

Then there are those who operate businesses that do not make a substantial profit. They are working long hours and spending most of the money that comes into the business on overhead; rent, supplies, salaries, advertising and marketing.

These people did not do their homework to find out the demand and cost of the business. For some of these people demand is low, and the cost is too high; but some just don’t know how to find their interested market.

7 Small Business Ideas

Small Business Ideas

Here are some questions you can ask yourself before you think about starting a business, you will also get several small business ideas and tips.

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Running or Starting Your Own Business — Use These 8 ebooks To Understand Debt, Budgeting, Saving Money, Investing and Credit!
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 1. IS IT TIME TO START A BUSINESS YET?

If you have worked in every department of a small business as an employee and understand how every single department works, then you may possess this one very important factor for success in your own small business.

If you have managed to master the skill of managing money, from small to large amounts, you posses a skill that will help you manage a business.

If you have worked in an industry long enough to understand what works in that industry to make profits and what does not, then you have acquired another skill that makes a small businessperson successful.

If you understand the team concept, and that you will have more success working with a team of people than alone – this is yet another skill you possess.

If you have ever done an analysis of business services or products needed in your area or on the internet, you possess a crucial ingredient for business success. Many businesses start up and fail because the market has been saturated with the product or service they sell or they don’t understand how to bring this market into their business.

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2.  DO YOU PLAN TO BUY A BUSINESS OR START ONE OF YOUR OWN?

Both starting your own business and buying a business carry risk. In starting your own small business you need to have the qualities above and understand small business in general. The main issue is that it takes awhile to build a small business. You have to find customers and build the customer base. The hours are long and concentrated.

When it comes to buying a business, you have to understand how to evaluate the business. If it is a franchise-this is a type of leased business; questions to ask, Is it profitable? –the costs are extremely high with franchises. If it is a privately owned business, do I have an attorney and accountant that can do “do diligence” on the business, they must engage the following small business ideas to facts;

  1. Properly priced,
  2. There are no liens or encumbrances,
  3. There are no pending lawsuits against the business.
  4. There are no disagreements with prior business partners

When you buy a business, you need to spend money on a forensic accountant to determine if the business has produced what they are claiming. It is wise to spend money on an investigator and attorney to find out if the business is clear of any wrongdoing. If you don’t have the funds for this, or don’t feel it is necessary, you could end up with a worthless business, it has happened to many before you.

3. DO I UNDERSTAND THE COST OF SMALL BUSINESS?

One of the most difficult concepts for beginners in business to understand is cost. Some businesses have cost of 90% of business income and some have cost of 50% of business income. No matter what your business, you will have overhead cost. Businesses go bankrupt all of the time. One major reason is that the cost becomes more than the business income.

The following costs are important to understand before you buy or start a small business. These small business ideas should be thoroughly researched before you start thinking about business.

  1.  The rent or lease cost and terms of both.
  2.  The cost of equipment for the business.
  3.  The cost of supplies used and ordered for the business.
  4.  The cost of producing the product or service, (materials, time, labor).
  5.  The cost of the employees: average salaries, employee taxes, employee benefits
  6.  Independent contractors cost

The cost of insurances for the business (product liability, injury liability on premises, workman’s comp, health, malpractice insurance etc.)

4. HAS THE NEED FOR THE SERVICE OR PRODUCT BEEN ESTABLISHED?

Has the market been consumed with small businesses of your same type?

If you are starting a new business, have you tested the need for your product by starting to sell it and building customers at a flea market, out of your home, or small office. If you increase your sells over time and get repeat customers and a growing customer base, this is one sign the product is in demand.

Have you tested different price points with your business product to see what sells the most, and you still get a profit of at least 20%. This is low, but at least it is a profit.

Purchasing a business works best when you have worked in that business, You have the opportunity to see the need, you see the profitability, and you understand the product.

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5. HOW DO I REACH MY CUSTOMERS?

Advertising is very expensive. Marketing is very difficult, and can be expensive. Marketing tends to be more
effective than advertising because if done right it is more believable.

Studying advertising and marketing effectiveness is crucial. You can spend too much if you are not educated about both. The marketing of your small business ideas are more cost effective than advertising.

6. DO YOU UNDERSTAND THE MOST IMPORTANT PERSON IN YOUR SMALL BUSINESS

THE CUSTOMER IS KING, has been, and will always be the most important phrase you will ever hear.

If customers don’t get the product or service they are paying for, they will leave. If your business has little or no customers, it is a hobby. In some cases it is a very expensive hobby.

The next most important people in the business are the employees. Well trained and well appreciated employees are worth their weight in gold. They are a part of the team that will help you to achieve success.

As you can see there is a lot to think about before you think about seriously starting a small business. The research, development and previous experience will help you decide if the rigor of your own small business is something, you can do successfully. The most important person in your business will implement your small business ideas successfully.

7. WORK, WORK, WORK AND BE REALISTIC ABOUT EVERYTHING

Do your research, seek out advice from successful people, put in the hours, and listen when you get advice. Before you start a business you MUST understand budgets. Use the “Course For Fantastic Finances” to get started.

Dream your best home - secrets to successful car buying tips for women

Lois Center-Shabazz | Course Delta Agency

Interested in a Free Discussion about how I can help you with Fantastic Finances? Let’s Chat – Make an Appointment Here

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Big Thing Budgeting in 7 Ways

How to Budget for the big things, use what I call Big Thing Budgeting.

  1. USE BIG THING BUDGETING TO GET OUT OF A MOUNTAIN DEBT: CREDIT CARDS, MEDICAL BILLS, PREDATORY LENDING

For Individuals, Couples and Small Businesses, you can get out of a mountain of debt if you focus like a laser beam on getting debt-free. It is not easy, but it is possible.

It will first require that you stop buying anything you don’t need. Get rid of the “I Got to Have it Syndrome”.

Start by keeping a log and inventory of your buying habits. Then slowly start to purge spending you don’t need to do. When you take an inventory of your buying habits, you will be surprised at the amount of unnecessary buying you do.
Fantastic Finances Tips eCourse, by eMail, by Lois Center Shabazz, for personal finance

Second, you must start paying off one thing at a time in a big way but pay on other bills at the same time. Start with the smaller bills, pay extra to those bills with the most you can afford, then pay a small amount extra to principle to your other bills — at the same time.

Big Thing Budgeting Shaves Thousands Off Your Budget       -Lois

You will see bills drop off one by one. Now, for the larger bills, you may have to start selling things you don’t need. From cars to yard sells, is where you can sell things you don’t need.

  1. BUDGET TO BUY A CAR

Save money for your next car while your current car is in good shape. Then, research the cost of the car you are interested in. Set a budget, then go through the internet and your local newspaper to see prices and figure out monthly payments, if you plan to finance. If you don’t plan to finance, you will see how much you need to save and for how long, to pay cash.

Consider buying a certified used car at a new car dealer or a one-year-old car from a new car rental agency. Make sure you know the new car prices and options on a new car so you can compare it to a new-used car with options.

Use Kelly blue book or kbb.com, to check for cars that are good for buying as used cars. You can also check for general pricing of new and used cars.

Ladies, don't get cheated buying a car.

  1. BUDGET TO BUY A HOME

Home buying requires doing a lot of research to discover 1. how much you can afford to pay for a home, 2. how to find a good mortgage company, bank, or credit union. The best place to start is your local credit union or bank due to the savings in fees, cost and time. 3. How to buy a quality home, and 4. How to get it properly inspected – some inspectors work for the realtors, so many won’t tell you when you the home you are interested in has major problems.

Therefore, it is best to contact tradesmen directly, like electricians, plumbers, roofers, and carpenters to get a fair assessment of possible home repairs.  Most of them will do an inspection in their specific area for a small fee.

Use at least 2 of each kind, so you can get a consensus as to what is wrong.  You can then budget for the down payment and escrow cost to purchase your next home.

Therefore, it is best to contact tradesmen directly, like electricians, plumbers, roofers, and carpenters to get a fair assessment of possible home repairs.

There is a Right Way and a Wrong Way to Buy Cars, Homes, and Education       -Lois

Most of them will do an inspection in their specific area for a small fee. Use at least 2 of each kind, so you can get a consensus as to what is wrong.  You can then budget for the down payment and escrow cost to purchase your next home.

Make sure you know exactly what your payment will be in regards to your loan. What will your payment be with Principle+Interest+Insurance+Taxes? You can also do mockups of an imaginary home to calculate what you should pay.

Ask friends or family what they pay for insurance and taxes for a home you are interested in. Taxes vary from state to state, you can also search your state websites. In some states, taxes go up as home values increase, but in others, the taxes stay the same.

Dream your best home - secrets to successful car buying tips for women

  1. BUDGET FOR VACATION

Don’t put your vacation on a credit card when you can save a little all year and pay cash for your vacation. It is as simple as that. Budget in transportation, food, lodging, tours, and shopping.

If you want to go on the cheap, vacation where you have family members or friends who live in or nearby vacation spot. Pay your family member to stay with them, or cover their restaurant costs and meals. Do the math, and see what works out.

  1. BUDGET FOR COLLEGE

Some people are obsessed with the “best college syndrome” due to the college propaganda machine.

If you have unlimited money, you can go where you want. But, if you must depend on financial aid, which usually includes substantial student loans, that is not an option. If there is one thing you want to keep as low as possible, is student loans.

Since there is 1. never a guarantee you will get a job in your field or keep it, 2. There is not a guarantee you will get a job that pays in accordance with your student loan 3. you can’t file bankruptcy on student loans.

Because of these items 1-3, you should keep student loans as low as humanly possible. That means avoiding high priced schools and high-priced areas to live in for college. The least expensive schools are community colleges, and state colleges and universities.

There are some colleges that are priced like state colleges and universities, but you must do your homework and compare all cost. Private colleges and universities are unreasonably high cost and they have a lot of hidden costs, which makes the total difficult to calculate.

The for-profit schools offer quick learning and high prices. Today, some of them are now calling themselves non-profit due to the unpopularity of the for-profit model.

Private colleges and universities are unreasonably high cost and they have a lot of hidden costs, which makes the total difficult to calculate.  The for-profit schools offer quick learning and high prices. Today, some of them are now calling themselves non-profit due to the unpopularity of the for-profit model.

The for-profit schools do massive advertising on television and the internet, this is your main clue. All colleges and universities have their cost listed on their websites. Make sure you find these costs and know exactly what you are getting into before you consider any college.

Your total student loan balance should not surpass your first years’ salary.  Example: If you plan to be a teacher and your first year’s income is $25,000, your student loan should be capped at $20,000. Understand the details of student loans with the eBook on student loans.

Don't stop thinking about your finances

  1. BUDGET TO PAY OFF STUDENT LOANS

There ae people all over Pinterest bragging that they paid off $60,000 of student loans in 5 years. This is possible due to re-amortization. When a loan is amortized to 20 years by your loan servicer, you can amortize it to 10 years by paying extra to principle every month.

If you have a 10-year loan, you can knock it down to 5 years. You can live tight, give up the finer things in life, and knock down those years with extra payment to principle.

You have to check your statements to make sure the extra payment is added to principle and you have to state that on your check, they will always try to put the extra to interest, even though it makes no sense. Big Thing Budgeting is essential when it comes to student loans, if not done correctly, these loans can follow you to your grave.

You have to check your statements to make sure the extra payment is added to principle and you have to state that on your check, they will always try to put the extra to interest, even though it makes no sense. Big Thing Budgeting is essential when it comes to student loans, if not done correctly, these loans can follow you to your grave. Learn more on my instagram.

  1. PREDATORY LENDING

Understand the way predatory lending works such as car title loans and payday loans. Why are many cars confiscated with a car title loan? Why do payday loan balances go from $500 To $3500?

I would have to write another article for an explanation, but a car title loan can easily double or triple if the money isn’t paid on the date due repeatedly, and a payday loan gets a rollover when the employee does not have the money to repay the loan on time.

Both problems push the balance way up over the top.  The most effective way to pay off these loans is to stay away from predatory loans. Using predatory lending is probably the direct opposite of using Big Thing Budgeting, don’t get caught in the predatory lending trap. Predatory lending also includes car title loans, unsubsidized student loans and high interest car loans.

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Home buying the right way take skill

Lois Center-Shabazz | Course Delta Agency

Interested in a Free Discussion about how I can help you with Fantastic Finances? Let’s Chat – Make an Appointment Here

Get Your FREE Fantastic Finances Tips Course by eMail

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Big thing budgeting in 7 ways, budgeting for a home and other things

Your 3 Investment Stops To Start Investing

Use these 3 investment stops and invest with the right knowledge

Don’t Let Negative Thinking Place You in Investment Stops, Start Investing Now

Here are 3 investment stops to start investing money for retirement, savings, vacation or just a rainy day. It is essential that if you want to retire ever.

I don’t have enough money to invest.
I have to pay off my bills first.
I have money to invest, but I am afraid.

What is stopping you from starting to invest? Three of the most common investment stops are listed above. What can you do to start yourself to invest? There are many inexpensive ways to start investing. You can open an investment account with a broker that sells shares or partial shares of stocks. You can open a mutual fund account with a mutual fund company that will allow you to start with a small amount of money. And finally, you will have to shed some old baggage about investing, for example, “I will start investing when I get my bills paid off,” or “I am afraid to invest.”

Start with the right investment priorities:
Invest in the right car
Invest in the right home
Learn comprehensive investing in mutual funds, credit scores, budgeting,
saving money, and student loans.

You don’t have to have a lot of money to start an investment account. There are mutual fund companies that will allow you to start an investment account for as little as one hundred dollars, and add as little as twenty-five dollars a month . The monthly additions work to significantly increase your account due to dollar cost averaging.  Low-cost, low-risk mutual funds have a tendency to be less complicated than stocks. But, low-risk dividend paying stocks of stable companies are a good research vehicle as well as mutual funds.

There are companies that will allow you to invest in a few shares or partial shares of stock starting with as little as eight dollars a month, and adding eight dollars a month to your account to purchase these shares or partial shares of stocks .

I have to pay off my bills before I start to invest. It is a good idea to have your debt well under control before you start to invest. The interest rates on outstanding debts sometimes are in excess of the interest rates on investments, coupled with compounded interest, debt payments can be excessive. There is an easy way to invest after you have your bills under control, that is to treat your investment as “just another bill,” before you know it, you will have a significant investment account.

Do you have plenty of money to invest, but you are simply afraid? I think the term for that is, “fear of the unknown.” That is probably the easiest investment stop we address in this article. Study the investment tutorials in my eBook and course; Step by Step Car Buying Tips for Women, that can save your financial life. You can download it instantly, and the eBook is practically free, the price is so low.  Then, you can go on to understand high level home buying tips, so you buy the best house for the best prices.  Then move on to my free discovery lesson and enjoy the preponderance of money information there.

Lois Center-Shabazz | Course Delta Agency
Interested in a Free Discussion about how I can help you with Fantastic Finances? Let’s Chat – Make an Appointment Here

Get Your FREE Fantastic Finances Tips Course by eMail

How I Build Fantastic Finances ; Read More…

Don’t forget your free sample copy of “The Ultimate Guide to a Great Money WorkOver

How a Budget Can Create Financial Freedom in 5 Ways

Financial Freedom
How a budget can create financial freedom for everyone

Know Where Your Finances Are First

Since the most important aspect of financial freedom is no or low debt, I will start with debt.

There are those who are in horrific debt and they don’t know it, as high debt is a major robber baron of financial freedom – it is important to understand it’s implications. The main reason is because they don’t know what high debt is.

They have somehow gotten the wrong message about money and debt. They feel the more debt they have, the more money they have. Well, I am here to tell you that the more debt you have, is simply the more debt you have.

If you don’t have enough money to pay your debts every month, that is a sign that you have too much debt for your income. If you are making your debt payments, but it is difficult to pay your debts, you still have too much debt, and need to find ways of getting your debt down.

Low debt is one of the five major factors credit reporting agencies use to determine a high credit score. A high credit score is important because it saves you money when you get loans. The better your credit score, the lower the interest will be on your loans, in some cases, you may not get a loan at all, if your credit score is too low. One way to start down the road to financial freedom is creating a scripted budget.

Ladies for peace of mind when you buy a car you must understand the rules.

Write 5 Steps to Getting What You Need to Start a Scripted Budget

Write down the most important things you need immediately. Then, write down the things you need long term. Examples of immediate things you need may be 1. pay off student loans in 3-5 years, 2. purchasing an affordable car after paying off student loans, 3. saving for an affordable vacation after doing number 1 and 2.

Then you will concentrate on long term goals, like finding a higher paying job after you get experience or getting an apartment or home in a better neighborhood.

Write 5 Steps to Getting What You Want in a Different Scripted Budget

Write down what you want short term, but is not necessary. Then ask yourself if you really want it and what feeling you will have if you get it. Then write down a budget and stick to that budget for everything you want.

It is imperative to create and stick to a budget with your wants, since wants sometimes to become emotional and emotions create an easy window to overspend. Example of wants are 1. a new dress for you cousins wedding, 2. going out of town for the weekend by plane to a friend’s graduation etc.

Use the Top Three Steps from Your Budget Scripts to Meet Your Goals

Home ownership dream for women

Of the five steps, you write down for both needs and wants, focus on the top 3 on each list. Focus on those top steps with laser precision. Narrowing your focus to the top three and the top 1 on your list will make it easy to make your goals in your time frame.

It will also make it easier to do. Many times, people give up because they feel the task is too hard, this comes when the task feels too overwhelming, the focus will relieve you of the overwhelm feeling.

Every Month Analyze Your Steps and Decide What You Need to Change in Your Budget

Somethings you do will work well, some won’t work at all, and as you use your current list you will also find better ways of meeting your goals. Because of this, you will change your steps by rearranging them or rewriting them.

Look at this article as one of many lessons in financial freedom, the more conscious you are about your budget, the more likely you will achieve financial freedom in the future. If you feel you have financial freedom now and you don’t live within scripted steps, as recommended, it would be wise to start so you can remain financially free.

Media propaganda to buy products we don’t need confuses people into thinking they need them, they buy them, then they get deeply in debt. Don’t allow yourself to be defined by product propaganda, but instead use conscious scripts to achieve low debt.

Get these fantastic finances personal finance ebooks for free

Use these eBooks to get started right on the road to financial freedom.

Join my  facebook group for lessons on financial freedom.

Lois Center-Shabazz | Course Delta Agency
Author, Blogger, Course Creator, Investor, and Money Strategist

Interested in a Free Discussion about how I can help you with Fantastic Finances? Let’s Chat – Make an Appointment Here

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How I Build Fantastic Finances ; Read More…

Owner-Occupied Real Estate Now and in The Future as A Personal Investment

Owner occupied real estate now and in the future

Owner occupied real estate purchase as an affordable home

Your owner-occupied real estate now and in the future, is one of the best long-term investments one can make. Time has shown that owner-occupied real estate can produce tremendous long-term returns. In a few areas of the country the tremendous returns have even been short-term. In some cases, homeowners have sold homes held 30 or 40 years, for 30 to 40 times their original cost.

The least expensive for maintenance cost is the owner-occupied real estate investment, simply because most owners correct problems as they arise.

The hardest part of real estate investing is to know when prices are inflated or low. To understand this, you must do a lot of research or endure a lot of pain until prices stabilize. Residential real estate as an investment requires, skill, intelligence, research, intuition, a lot of time, very hard work, and luck.

Here are items to look for before and during your owner-occupied real estate now and in the future home search, for a successful property.

Good Credit Score

Before you start to look for a home the first steps are to;
Get a copy of your credit report
Go over it closely, make sure all the credit listed belongs to you
If you Find credit that does not belong to you, write Experian.com and challenge the reporting with them.
Stop charging, and start paying off credit you already have
Pay off anything that is past due, and maintain your bills monthly

Quality loan

Do not get a loan until your credit is cleaned up to the best of your ability, this may take months to a few years. Save for a down payment or get a no down payment loan and pay more points (or higher interest rate). Research any mortgage company you plan to use and make sure they are legitimate.

If you are a first-time home buyer consider FHA loans, or NACA (naca.com) to help with the qualifying process. Every city has a first time home buyers organization in town to help with the buying process.

Home ownership the right way-is pure joy

Quality home – Well inspected

Make sure you are getting a quality home, by getting quality inspections from plumbers, electricians, HVAC, and carpenters. There are many home buying nightmares where buyers used a lone home inspector who missed most if not all the problems. If you find problems in an inspection, you will know what you are up against. You can either: 1. Find another home, or 2. Ask for a reduction in price so the problem can be fixed in your increased loan amount.

Home purchased at the bottom or middle of a market

Know if your home buying market is in a bubble or if your home is over-priced. If it is you may not be able to sell the home for several years, even if you must move.

Affordable price

An affordable price is a home that fits your budget and is generally around 30% of your gross. Create a sustainable “overall budget” before you buy.

Well maintained

Look for signs the home has been well-maintained. Inspect the heating and air conditioning units well, the roof should stand the test of a heavy water hose. The floor should be level when you place a marble on the floor it should not roll, if it rolls, you may have a serious foundation problem.
Value increases over time: The more jobs or tourism there is in the area, the more valuable the area may be in terms of increase in home value over time. Then an area with no jobs or tourism can transform in several years when something valuable is added. As well as places that go under due to a decline in an area that has no jobs or amenities. It is best to look at an area with amenities at the time of sell.

No monthly house payment or rent

After the mortgage is paid off, you will have no house note or rent to pay. This is a tremendous savings. But, you will still have maintenance and taxes. It is important to factor in taxes as you age. Will your retirement check be enough for taxes and home maintenance?

The advantages and disadvantages of owner-occupied real estate is listed below:

Key advantages of owner-occupied real estate are:
• You can qualify for the lowest interest real estate loans available
• You can qualify for low down payment consideration, of 5%-10%. There are also extra low-down payment loans for first time buyers who qualify, as low as 3% down.
• You qualify for a full array of owner-occupied tax deductions. IRS Homebuyers Credit
• Most owner-occupied homeowners take pride and joy in maintaining their own home, so the long-term maintenance is usually reasonable.
• Owner-occupied real-estate profits have been tremendous when held long-term.
• There is a capital gain exclusion for taxes up to $250,000 if you have lived in the house for 2 of 5 years.

Home ownership dream for women

Key disadvantages of owner-occupied real estate:

• The debt carried when a home is leveraged with a mortgage loan.
• The responsibility of up-keep, for some this is an advantage, since they enjoy the up-keep.
• You are responsible for taxes.

Your owner-occupied real estate now and in the future, has many more advantages than disadvantages.

Lois Center-Shabazz | Course Delta Agency
Author, Blogger, Course Creator, Investor, & Money Strategist

->Interested in a Free Discussion about how I can help you with Fantastic Finances? Let’s Chat – Make an Appointment Here

->Get Your FREE Fantastic Finances Tips Course by eMail

->How I Build Fantastic Finances ; Read More…