Here’s What You Need To Know About Becoming A Cosigner

Are you thinking about becoming a cosigner for someone? Have you ever been asked to cosign on a loan before? 

becoming a cosignerMany people have been asked to cosign loans for family members and even friends. However, many people do not understand the full cosigner meaning, and becoming a cosigner is never something you should do unless you completely understand what it means.

If someone asks you to cosign a loan for them, you might be hesitant to say yes at first. You also might not want to offend the person or make them mad.

Whatever you may be thinking, I want you to fully understand what you are getting yourself into.

Becoming a cosigner can actually turn into a big financial mistake if you do it without really thinking it through.

Okay, now some of you may think that I’m a mean person for saying that, but I’ve heard many stories from people who’ve had their credit wrecked, have been stuck paying a loan for someone else, and even had their relationships ruined.

All of that from cosigning a loan.

Perhaps you have cosigned before and it went fine, or you know a friend of a friend who has done it. Perhaps you think that things won’t go bad for you or that you are hurting the person by not cosigning for them.

But, I want you to be careful before becoming a cosigner. I’m saying this to help you!

No matter how well you think you know someone, mixing money and relationships can change things. What you may have thought was a wonderful friendship or family relationship can turn into a nightmare.

It may seem very innocent – you’re just helping a good friend or relative get a loan. 

Really, if it was that simple, I’d tell everyone to do it. But, becoming a cosigner is a major financial decision that you need to seriously think about before agreeing to.

Before you cosign a mortgage or another type of loan for someone, it is always wise to be 100% positive of what cosigning a loan actually means and how it may affect your relationship with the person getting the loan.

Surprisingly, many people don’t know exactly what happens when they agree to being a cosigner. Many people just think that all you’re doing is helping a person get approved, but that’s not just it.

Sorry to break it to you, but the bank, landlord, etc., does not care if the applicant has a friend with a good credit history. 

There’s more that comes with being a cosigner.

As the cosigner, what’s actually happening is that you are taking on the full responsibility of the debt if the original applicant is unable to pay.

And, that happens more often than you might think.

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According to a survey I found on CreditCards.com, 38% of cosigners had to pay some or all of a loan that they cosigned for because the primary borrower failed to pay. This is a HUGE percentage of cosigners, so please keep that in mind.

Other statistics I found about becoming a cosigner include:

  • 28% of cosigners saw a drop in their credit score because the person that they cosigned on a loan for paid their loan late or skipped a payment.
  • 26% of cosigners said that cosigning damaged the relationship with the person that they cosigned a loan for.
  • 90% of private student loan borrowers who applied for cosigner release were rejected. So, if you think that you are going to cosign for a loan and then remove yourself from the loan later, that is much more difficult than you probably think. Stat from Consumer Financial Protection Bureau)

So, who is finding cosigners for loans?

According to the survey mentioned above, 45% of cosigners are cosigning for their child or stepchild. And 21% of cosigners are cosigning for a friend.

The rest is a mixture of cosigning for spouses/partners and parents.

Today, I am going to answer common questions about becoming a cosigner for a loan.

What to know about becoming a cosigner.

 

What is a cosigner?

If you’ve been asked to become a cosigner on a loan, you may not know what that fully entails.

A cosigner is someone who agrees to be on a loan with another person so that they are more likely to be approved. 

A cosigner may be needed for different things such as a:

  • Car loan
  • Student loan
  • Mortgage
  • Apartment or other type of rental home

And more.

Here’s an example of when someone may want a cosigner: if your child wants to buy a car but doesn’t have a long enough credit history to be approved for the car loan. Your child may ask you to cosign their loan so the lender takes your credit score and financial information into account. This improves your child’s chances of being approved.

Other reasons you might be asked to be a cosigner is if the borrower doesn’t have a high enough credit score or doesn’t make enough money to pay the loan (that is a red flag right there).

However, as a cosigner, you are agreeing to pay off the debt if the original borrower is unable to pay it in the future. So, even if the original borrower doesn’t pay a penny, the cosigner would have to make all of the payments or risk being sued, having credit report damage, and more.

In that example I gave, the parent would be responsible for the car loan if their child could no longer make their payments. Not only that, if the child for some reason refused to make payments (I’ve heard of situations like this), the parent would be responsible.

Remember, like I stated above, 38% of cosigners had to pay some or all of a loan that they cosigned for because the primary borrower failed to pay. 

And in some circumstances, even if the borrower files bankruptcy, while their other loans might be discharged, the cosigner may still be responsible for paying the cosigned loan.

Related: Everything You Need To Know About How To Build Your Credit Score

 

How does a co signer work?

Here’s what happens when you agree to become a cosigner for a friend or family member. 

You will start by giving your personal information to the bank or lender. This is information like bank statements, tax returns, paycheck stubs, and so on.

You will also have to complete the loan application, and once you agree with all of the loan terms, then you sign it.

But, becoming a cosigner doesn’t mean that you will own or have partial ownership of the vehicle, house, or whatever else you are cosigning for. It does mean that you are taking full financial responsibility and promising to pay the loan yourself if the borrower does not pay.

Becoming a cosigner is nothing to take lightly.

 

Does cosigning hurt your credit? Is it bad to be a cosigner?

Becoming a cosigner can hurt your credit score and prevent you from future loans in some circumstances.

Here’s why:

  • If the person doesn’t pay the monthly payments on time, then you may be rejected for a loan in the future. Missed payments can damage your credit score and your credit report.
  • As a cosigner, you are increasing your debt-to-income ratio. So, even if your friend/family member pays every single bill on time, a lender will still see this as YOUR debt. Unfortunately, this may prevent them from approving your loan because they will think you have too much debt on your plate.

If you might be buying something soon that will need financing (house, car, etc.), you should think long and hard before you decide to be a cosigner on someone else’s loan.

 

Can cosigning a loan hurt a relationship?

Unfortunately, many cosigning relationships go sour. 

I have heard many stories where someone cosigned a loan for someone else and then didn’t talk to them for years or even decades because of a falling out of some sort.

I have always been a firm believer that money and relationships do not mix well. 

If you are going to cosign or lend money to someone, then you should consider it a gift because there is a chance that you will never see that money again.

 

Can you remove yourself from a loan as a cosigner?

Remember the statistic above – 90% of private student loan borrowers who applied for cosigner release were rejected. 

There’s not much you can do to remove yourself from a loan that you cosigned on. If the person isn’t making payments, you are stuck with it for the most part.

The loan would have to be refinanced to take yourself off the loan, and there are many horror stories out there where the original borrower refused to refinance because then they wouldn’t be able to force the cosigner to continue to pay the monthly bill.

Plus, there are instances in which refinancing is impossible because of the value decreasing, the economy changing, a person’s financial situation getting worse, and so on. 

So, while the original borrower may be okay with getting you off of the loan and refinancing, it’s still up to the lender whether or not they will refinance the loan.

 

How do I protect myself as a cosigner?

There is no guarantee that becoming a cosigner is going to work out, but if you’re determined to do it, you will want to know both of these two things for sure:

  1. That you can trust the person you are cosigning for.
  2. That YOU can make the payment.

Many people who are thinking about becoming a cosigner may not think about that last one, but it is just as important as the first one. Being stuck with the loan payment would be awful, but not being able to make the payment could cause you to go into serious debt and destroy your credit.

You may be certain you won’t be stuck making the payment, but you don’t want to be stuck in a bad financial situation.

 

Should I cosign a loan?

Even though those cosigning horror stories are real cautionary tales, most people don’t believe they would ever happen to them. 

However, don’t you think most (if not all) cosigners felt the same way in the beginning?

It’s up to each person to decide if they will cosign, and you should never feel forced to do it. However, I want you to remember that if you cosign, then you should make sure that you can afford to make the monthly payment.

You never know, one day those payments are being made and everything is going well. The original borrower may be a great person, but then they may lose their job, have an unexpected expense come up, or something else that prevents them from paying their bills.

Then, what if something happens to you and you can’t make those payments either? Unfortunately, being unprepared and not really knowing what you are getting into can turn into a disastrous situation.

Cosigning a loan may not always be bad. However, I believe it’s better to realize what the consequences are before going into something that can negatively impact your life. It’s always better to be prepared!

 

Is it a bad idea to cosign for someone?

Cosigning a loan doesn’t always have to be a bad thing.

However, I want you to remember that there is a chance that you will be on the hook for the loan.

So, if you cosign, whether that be for a car, mortgage, apartment, student loan, or something else, you should make sure that you can afford the payment as well. Because, there is a chance that you may have to pay it one day.

Everyone has a different situation, and ultimately, you have to do what’s right for you. 

What do you think of becoming a cosigner for a mortgage or other type of loan? Would you ever do it?

The post Here’s What You Need To Know About Becoming A Cosigner appeared first on Making Sense Of Cents.

Source: makingsenseofcents.com

Nevada County, California VA Loan Information

Table of Contents

  • What is the VA Loan Limit?
  • How to Apply for a VA Home Loan?
  • What is the Median Home Price?
  • What are the VA Appraisal Fees?
  • Do I need Flood Insurance?
  • How do I learn about Property Taxes?
  • What is the Population?
  • What are the major cities?
  • About Nevada County
  • Veteran Information
  • Apply for a VA Home Loan
  • VA Approved Condos

FAQ

What is the VA Loan Limit?

2021 VA Home Loan Limit: $0 down up to $5,000,000* (Subject to lender limits) /2 open VA loans at one time $548,250* (Call 888-573-4496 for details).

How to Apply for a VA Home Loan?

This is a quick look at how to apply for a VA home loan in Nevada County. For a more detailed overview of the VA home loan process, check out our complete guide on how to apply for a VA home loan. Here, we’ll go over the general steps to getting a VA home loan and point out some things to pay attention to in Nevada County. If you have any questions, you can call us at VA HLC and we’ll help you get started.

  1. Get your Certificate of Eligibility (COE)
    • Give us a call at (877) 432-5626 and we’ll get your COE for you.
  2. Are you applying for a refinance loan? Check out our complete guide to VA Refinancing.
  3. Get pre-approved, to get pre-approved for a loan, you’ll need:
    • Previous two years of W2s
    • Most recent 30 days paystubs or LES (active duty)
    • Most recent 60 days bank statements
    • Landlord and HR/Payroll Department contact info
  4. Find a home
    • We can help you check whether the home is in one of the Nevada County flood zones
  5. Get the necessary inspections
    • Termite inspection: required
    • Well or septic inspections needed, if applicable
  6. Get the home appraised
    • We can help you find a VA-Certified appraiser in Nevada County and schedule the process
    • Construction loan note: Construction permit/appraisal info
      1. Building permit
      2. Elevation certificate
  7. Lock-in your interest rates
    • Wait until the appraisal to lock-in your loan rates. If it turns out you need to make repairs, it can push your closing back. Then you can get stuck paying rate extension fees.
  8. Close the deal and get packing!
    • You’re ready to go.

What is the Median Home Price?

As of March 31st, 2020, the median home value for Nevada County is $477,219. In addition, the median household income for residents of the county is $63,240.

How much are the VA Appraisal Fees?

  • Single-Family: $600.
  • Individual Condo: $600.
  • Manufactured Homes: $600.
  • 2-4 Unit Multi-Family: $850.
  • Appraisal Turnaround Times: 7 days.

Do I need Flood Insurance?

  • The VA requires properties are required to have flood insurance if they are in a Special Flood Hazard Area.
  • In Nevada county, the mountainous terrain reduces flood hazard areas to small areas surrounding bodies of water.

How do I learn about Property Taxes?

  • Sue Home is the Nevada county tax assessor. Her office can be reached at 905 Maidu Avenue Suite 290 Nevada City, California 95959. In addition, her office can also be reached by calling 530-265-1232.
  • The state of California offers various incentive programs that expand statewide for new, growing, and relocating businesses. Two of these programs are California Competes Tax Credit which offers qualifying businesses tax credit and the New employment Credit program which offers a tax credit for taxpayers who hire full-time employees. These and many other programs help in further diversifying the state’s economy.

What is the Population?

  • The county’s population of 99,755 is 84% White, 9% Hispanic, and 3% two or more races.
  • Most county residents are between 18 and 65 years old, with 17% under 18 years old and 28% older than 65.
  • In total, the county has about 40,904 households, at an average of two people per household.

What are the major cities?

The county has two cities and one town, including Nevada City which serves as the county seat. The two other cities in the county are Grass Valley and Truckee.

About Nevada County

Formed in 1851, 13 years prior to the neighboring state of Nevada attaining statehood, Nevada County was actually the first area of the United States to include the stand-alone word Nevada in its name. The term’s etymology is from the name the Sierra Nevada, Spanish for snow-covered. Nevada County is known for its involvement in the California Gold Rush. The early years of California are featured prominently throughout the county. The Nevada Theatre, built in 1865 making it the oldest theater in the state continues to operate to this day. Many notable figures have performed on the stage at the Nevada Theatre, ranging from Mark Twain to Motley Crue.

Further providing Nevada County notoriety is its place as the birthplace of Arcade Video games, with the inception of Pong. The creation of Pong led to the county being nicknamed the “Silicon Valley of the Sierras.” The first cell phone for commercial usage, with the capability of taking photos, was developed in the county seat of Nevada City. Currently, over 1,000 software designers and developers reside in the county.

Our nation’s 31st President, Herbert Hoover once lived in Nevada City, earning a living as a miner, fresh out of Stanford University.

The timber industry, government services, and tourism are the driving forces of the local economy.

Tourism based on the history of this country is reflected in many of the museums found in Nevada County. These museums put the history of the Gold Rush, mining, and the railroad at the forefront. The county is also home to numerous state parks including Malakoff Diggins State Historic Park, Grass Valley’s Empire Mine State Historic Park, and Donner Memorial State Park.

A veteran property tax exemption exists for veteran homeowners in Nevada County, amounting to $4,000. A disabled veterans exemption which is for a far greater monetary sum is accessible for disabled veterans with a total disability, blindness or the loss of use of more than one limb. This exemption is also available for the surviving spouses of disabled veterans.

Veteran Information

The county is currently home to 8,319 veterans, and they all have access to:

  • Nevada County is home to one VFW post:
    • Post-2655 Banner Mountian: 415 North Pine Street, Nevada City, CA 95959.
  • County Veteran Assistance Information
    • Nevada County Veteran Services Office: 988 McCourtney Road Grass Valley, CA 95949.

Apply for a VA Home Loan

  • For more information about VA Home Loans and how to apply, click here.
  • If you meet the VA’s eligibility requirements, you will be able to enjoy some of the best government guaranteed home loans available.  
  • VA loans can finance the construction of a property. However, the property must be owned and prepared for construction as the VA cannot ensure vacant land loans.

VA Approved Condos

Name (ID): THE BOULDERS (000151)
Address: 
10844 CINNABAR WAY
TRUCKEE CA 96161
NEVADA
Status: Accepted Without Conditions
Request Received Date: 05/13/2015
Review Completion Date: 06/02/2015

Oregon VA Loan Information: https://www.vahomeloancenters.org/oregon-va-home-loan-limits/

VA Loan Information by State: https://www.vahomeloancenters.org/va-loan-limit-maximum-va-loan-amount/

The post Nevada County, California VA Loan Information appeared first on VA Home Loan Centers.

Source: vahomeloancenters.org

Current Mortgage Rates Hold Higher to Start the Week

It’s another week and mortgage rates are holding steady at the levels they moved up to on Friday. It’s a moderate economic calendar this week with some reports in the latter half that could cause rates to adjust. Read on for more details.

Where are mortgage rates going?                                              

Mortgage rates hold higher after strong jobs report

Here we go with yet another week. It’s a slow start for the markets as there’s little significant economic data scheduled for release; however, Friday’s events are still looming large.

Of course, I’m talking about the monthly jobs report for August, which showed that a very solid 201,000 jobs were added to the U.S. economy for that month. More importantly, average hourly earnings ticked up 0.4%, bringing the yearly growth rate to 2.9%–the highest rate since 2009.

The consensus was for an increase of 0.2%, so the strong uptick caught investors by surprise.

The good news caused financial market participants to increase their appetite for risk and move out of bonds and into stocks, pushing long-term treasury yields higher. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note (the best market indicator of where mortgage rates are going) ticked up about seven basis points to 2.94%.

Mortgage rates typically move in the same direction as the 10-year yield and similarly edged higher as we headed into the weekend. Today, mortgage rates are staying close to those levels as there’s little happening in the markets to make them adjust in either direction.

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Rate/Float Recommendation                                    

Lock now before rates move even higher         

Strong economic data pushed mortgage rates up higher on Friday. We’re expecting rates to continue to shift higher as the Federal Reserve gets ready to increase the nation’s benchmark interest rate later this month.

If you’re planning on buying a home or refinancing your current mortgage, we strongly recommend that you do so sooner rather than later. The longer you wait, the more likely it is that you’ll be locking in a higher interest rate and paying more over the life of your loan.

Learn what you can do to get the best interest rate possible.  

Today’s economic data:               

Fedspeak 

  • Atlanta Fed President Raphael Bostic at 11:30am

Notable events this week:       

Monday:   

  • Fedspeak

Tuesday:   

  • NFIB Small Business Optimism Index
  • JOLTS

Wednesday:         

  • PPI-FD
  • EIA Petroleum Status Report
  • 10-Yr Note Auction
  • Beige Book

Thursday:     

  • CPI
  • Jobless Claims
  • Fedspeak

Friday:          

  • Retail Sales
  • Import and Export Prices
  • Fedspeak
  • Industrial Production
  • Consumer Sentiment

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*Terms and conditions apply.

Source: totalmortgage.com

How COVID-19 is Affecting Mortgages

Coronavirus cases are increasing at a phenomenal rate and sending the economy into free-fall. Every industry will be affected in some way, but the housing market could be one of the hardest hit. Borrowers are struggling to pay their mortgages, lenders are seeing far fewer applications, and we could be just around the corner from a housing crisis akin to the decline of 2008.

So, what’s happening here, how is COVID-19 affecting mortgages and are we likely to see any major issues on the horizon?

How Will COVID-19 Impact Mortgages?

In early March, mortgage rates dropped to an all-time low, hinting at things to come. The rate for a 30-year fixed-term mortgage fell to 3.29%, compared to March of 2019 when rates were 4.14%. That may not seem like much of a difference, but the difference between 3.29% and 4.14% on a $200,000 30-year mortgage is around $35,000.

And this is just the tip of the iceberg; the start of the problem.

Experts predict that rates will continue to fall as we progress through 2020 and COVID-19 continues to wreak havoc on the US economy.

As noted in our recent guide to Coronavirus Mortgage Relief, lenders are already providing lenders with debt relief options to help them manage their mortgage in this difficult time. Foreclosure is expensive and it’s an expense that banks and credit unions can’t afford right now. They want homeowners to pay their bills and keep their homes and they will do everything they can to make that happen.

The federal government is also lending a helping hand by way of the CARES act, and we could see more significant moves on behalf of lenders and the government before the year draws to a close.

In other words, although big moves have been made and huge changes have taken place, all of this could pale in comparison to what happens when the pandemic is eradicated and the rebuilding process begins.

Can You Benefit from this?

If you’re a homeowner tied to a high-interest rate, you could benefit from the current reduced interest rates by refinancing your mortgage. You could do that now and capitalize on the all-time low rates mentioned above or wait to see what happens in the next few months.

In any case, you can get a much lower rate than what you already have and potentially save thousands of dollars over the life of your loan.

It’s not about profiting from a bad situation, it’s about making life easier for yourself so you can navigate through this chaos. If your monthly mortgage payment is reduced, you’ll have more money in your pocket every month, which means you can put more cash towards unsecured debts and your monthly grocery bill.

It also reduces your chances of defaulting and being foreclosed upon in the future.

COVID-19 and the Housing Market

In the spring of 2019, the housing market was booming. It was a good time to invest in bricks and mortar and it seemed like there were some bright years ahead for homeowners and investors. 

In 2020, the shadow of the coronavirus pandemic fell on the country and now, a year on from that boom, the housing market has ground to a screeching halt. No one is selling because no one is buying. The market hasn’t necessarily crashed, but it has paused, and that could cause some huge problems in the near future.

What happens to all the homeowners who were selling their homes before this crisis and wanted to sell during? As soon as the pandemic fades away, they’ll all list their homes at the same time, and they’ll no doubt be joined by countless other homeowners who are selling because of the pandemic.

Once the market reopens, it will be flooded with homes for sale. At the same time, homeowners once ready to buy will now be struggling to deal with the consequences of the pandemic, while others will be hesitant of buying and will want to bide their time. Sellers will get desperate, prices will drop, and it will be a buyer’s market.

It’s hard to predict just how far house prices will fall or even if they will fall at all, but if the last few months are anything to go by, it’s fair to assume that the damage will be considerable.

Could it be a Seller’s Market?

While it seems most likely that post-pandemic USA will be a buyer’s market, it could also go the other way. Millions of Americans could be looking to purchase homes in 2020. If all of them are waiting for the end of the pandemic in the hope that the prices will be lower and the interest rates more favorable, they could overload the market.

Buyers may also be desperate to sink their money into bricks and mortar, believing it to be a safe investment and protection against any future economic issues. After all, when you rent, you’re always at the mercy of the landlord and have few guarantees that your home will still be your home months down the line.

That’s a scary thought in the middle of a pandemic, where it may be difficult, and in some cases impossible, to move into another property on short notice.

To remedy this, renters may be desperate to buy and may jump into the housing market as soon as the chaos dies down. A sudden rush of buyers will send the market in the opposite direction, allowing sellers to jack up their prices. 

COVID-19, Mortgages, and the Future of the Housing Market

Most of which we discussed above is speculation. We can predict the likelihood of it being a buyer’s market and of interest rates falling based on everything that has happened thus far, but we can’t say that it will happen for certain.

COVID-19 has made life very unpredictable. In December 2019, when word of the first Chinese cases began to filter to our shores, few could have guessed that just 3 months later, the world would be in lockdown, everyone would be going crazy for toilet paper, and people would be dying in their droves. 

At the beginning of the outbreak, when Europe was on its knees, President Trump was dismissive of the risks and suggested that everything would be okay, the US would be safe, and the virus would be fleeting. A few weeks later, the United States became the worst affected country and fatalities entered double figures.

It’s a novel pandemic that few predicted, and no one was prepared for, and as things stand it’s less about fighting the disease and more about avoiding it. 

As a result, we can’t be certain that the housing market will decline or that mortgage rates will drop. We just have to wait and see and hope that we all get through this with our lives, properties, and professions intact.

How COVID-19 is Affecting Mortgages is a post from Pocket Your Dollars.

Source: pocketyourdollars.com

Mortgage rates hit another record low at 2.67%

The average U.S. mortgage rate for a 30-year fixed loan fell four basis point this week to 2.67% – the lowest rate in the Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey’s near 50-year history. This week’s mortgage rate broke the previous record set on Dec. 3 and is the first time the survey has witnessed it fall below 2.7%.

“The housing market continues to surge higher and support an otherwise stagnant economy that has lost momentum in the last couple of months,” said Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s Chief Economist. “Mortgage rates are at record lows and pushing many prospective homebuyers off the sidelines and into the market.

“Homebuyer sentiment is sanguine and purchase demand shows no real signs of waning at all heading into next year,” Khater continued.

The average fixed rate for a 15-year mortgage also fell last week to 2.21% from 2.26%.

A Tuesday analysis from Fannie Mae’s Economic and Strategic Research group predicted rates would hit their trough at 2.7%, and since the 10-year Treasury yield has remained at or above 90 basis points through the beginning of December, mortgage spreads are continuing to compress.


5 reasons to refinance your mortgage right now

If you’re thinking about refinancing your mortgage, here are five reasons why you might want to act now and reach out to a loan officer.

Presented by: Citi

“While there may be some resistance to the 10-year yield consistently pushing above 1% in the coming months, with vaccination efforts and subsequent stronger economic growth, we expect Treasury yields to move higher over the next year,” the Fannie Mae report said.

Last week, Khater noted mortgage rates managed to retain their record low numbers despite higher Treasury yields – resisting a typical correlation.

A Wednesday statement from the Federal Open Market Committee revealed that the Federal Reserve plans to keep interest rates low until labor market conditions and inflation meet the committee’s standards. Fed Chairman Jerome Powell said to get inflation back to 2% though is going to “take some time.”

Overall, Fed purchases have helped to drive mortgage rates and other loan interest rates to the lowest level on record by boosting competition for bonds, which compresses yields.

With the release of the Fed’s latest intentions, Mortgage Bankers Association chief economist Mike Fratantoni said the MBA now expects the Fed to maintain these low rates at the zero level for years to come.

The post Mortgage rates hit another record low at 2.67% appeared first on HousingWire.

Source: housingwire.com

Let the Roaring 2020s Begin

First some great news: because of your support in reading and sharing this blog, it has been able to earn quite a lot of income and give away over $300,000 so far.

The latest $100k of that happens at the end of this article. Please check it out if you want to feel good, learn more, and even join me in helping out the world a bit.

As I type this, there are only a few days left in the 2010s, and holy shit what a decade it has been.

Ten years ago, a 35 year old MMM and the former Mrs. MM were four years into retirement, but not feeling very retired yet. We stumbled out of 2009 with a precious but very high strung three-year-old, a house building business that was way more stressful than it should have been, and a much more rudimentary set of life skills. It was a time of great promise, but a lot of this promise was yet to be claimed.

Ten years later, despite the fact that I have one less marriage, one less surviving parent, and ten years less remaining youth, I am in an even better place in life right now, and would never want to trade places with the 2009 version of me. And on that measure alone, I can tell it has been a successful decade.

This is a great sign and it bodes well for early retirees everywhere. Compared to the start of the decade, I am healthier and stronger physically, wealthier financially, and (hopefully) at least a bit wiser emotionally. I’ve been through so much, learned so much in so many new interesting fields, and packed so much living into these 3653 days. A big part of that just flowed from the act of retiring from my career in 2005, which freed me up to do so many other things, including starting this blog.

It has not always been easy, in fact the hard times of this decade have been some of the hardest of my life. But by coming through it all I have learned that super difficult experiences only serve to enrich your life even more, by widening your range of feelings and allowing you to savor the normal moments and the great ones even more.

Ten Years of Learning in Three Points

I think the real meaning of “Wisdom” is just “I’ve seen a lot of shit go down in my lifetime and over time you start to notice everything just boils down to a few principles.

The books all say it, and the wise older people in real life all say it too. And for me, it’s probably the following few things that stand out the most:

1) This Too Shall Pass: nothing is as big a deal as you think it is at the time. Angry or sad emotions from life traumas will fade remarkably quickly, but so will the positive surprises from one-time life upgrades through the sometimes-bummer magic of Hedonic Adaptation. What’s left is just you – no matter where you go, there you are.

2) But You Are Really Just a Bundle of Habits: most of your day (and therefore your life) is comprised of repeating the same set of behaviors over and over. The way you get up, the things you focus your mind on. Your job. The way you interact with other people. The way you eat and exercise. Unless you give all of this a lot of mindful attention and work to tweak it, it stays the same, which means your life barely changes, which means your level of happiness barely changes.

3) Change Your Habits, Change your Life: Because of all this, the easiest and best way to have a happier and more satisfying life is to figure out what ingredients go into a good day, and start adding those things while subtracting the things that create bad days. For me (and quite possibly you, whether you realize it or not), the good things include positive social interactions, helping people, outdoor physical activity, creative expression and problem solving, and just good old-fashioned hard work. The bad things mostly revolve around stress due to over-scheduling one’s life, emotional negativity and interpersonal conflict – all things I am especially sensitive to.

So while I can’t control everything, I have found that the more I work to design those happiness creators into my life and step away from things that consistently cause bad days, the happier and richer life can become.

Speaking of Richer:

I recently read two very different books, which still ended up pointing me in the same direction:

This Could Be Our Future, by former Kickstarter cofounder and CEO Yancey Strickler, is a concise manifesto that makes a great case for running our lives, businesses, and even giant corporations, according to a much more generous and person-centric set of rules.

Instead of the narrow minded perspective of “Profit Maximization” that drives so many of the world’s shittier companies and gives capitalism a bad reputation, he points out that even small changes in the attitude of company (and world) leaders, can lead to huge changes in the way our economy runs.

The end result is more total wealth and happier lives for all of us – like Mustachianism itself, it really is a win/win proposition rather than any form of compromise or tradeoff. In fact, Strickler specifically mentions you and me in this book, using the FIRE movement as an example of a group of people who have adopted different values in order to lead better lives.

Die with Zero*, by former hedge fund manager and thrill seeking poker champion Bill Perkins sounds like a completely different book on the surface: Perkins’ point is that many people work too long and defer too much gratification for far too long in their lives.

Instead, he encourages you to map out your life decade by decade and make sure that you maximize your experiences in each stage, while you are still young enough to enjoy each phase. For example, do your time in the skate park and the black diamond ski slopes in your 20s and 30s, rather than saving every dollar in the hopes that you can do more snowboarding after you retire in your 60s.

Obviously, as Mr. Money Mustache I disagree on a few of the finer points: Life is not an experiences contest, you can get just as much joy from simpler local experiences as from exotic ones in foreign lands, and spending more money on yourself does not create more happiness, so if you die with millions in the bank you have not necessarily left anything on the table. But it does take skill to put these truths into practice, and for an untrained consumer with no imagination, buying experiences can still be an upgrade over sitting at home watching TV.

However, he does make one great point: one thing you can spend money on is helping other people – whether they are your own children, family, friends, or people with much more serious needs like famine and preventable disease.

And if you are going to give away this money, it’s better to do it now, while you are alive, rather than just leaving it behind in your estate, when your beneficiaries may be too old to benefit from your gift anyway.

So with this in mind, I made a point of making another round of donations to effective causes this year – a further $100,000 which was made possible by some unexpected successes with this blog this year, combined with finding that my own lifestyle continues to cost less than $20k to sustain, even in “luxury bachelor” mode.

And here’s where it all went!

$80,000 to GiveWell, who will automatically deliver it to their top recommended charities. This is always my top donation, because it is the most serious and research-backed choice. This means you are very likely doing the most good with each dollar, if your goal is the wellbeing of fellow human beings. GiveWell does constant research on effective charities and keeps an updated list on their results – which makes it a great shortcut for me. Further info in my The Life You Can Save post.

Strategic Note: I made this donation from my Betterment account where I keep a pretty big portion of my investments. This is because of tax advantages which multiply my giving/saving power – details here at Betterment and in my own article about the first time I used this trick.

$5000 to the Choose FI Foundation – this was an unexpected donation for me, based on my respect for the major work the ChooseFI gang are doing with their blog and podcast and meetups, and their hard-charging ally Edmund Tee who I met on a recent trip. They are creating a curriculum and teaching kids and young adults how to manage their money with valuable but free courses.

$2000 to the True Potential Scholarship Fund, set up by my inspiring and badass Omaha lawyer friend Ross Pesek. Ross first inspired me years ago by going through law school using an extremely frugal combination of community and state colleges, then rising to the top of the pack and starting his own firm anyway. Then he immediately turned around and started using some of the profits to help often-exploited immigrant workers in his own community with both legal needs and education.

$1000 to plant one thousand trees, via the #teamtrees effort via the National Arbor Day Foundation. I credit some prominent YouTubers and Elon Musk for promoting this effort – so far it has resulted in over 20 million trees being funded, which is a lot (roughly equal to creating a dense forest as big as New York City)

$5000 to Bicycle Colorado – a force for change (and sometimes leading the entire United States) in encouraging Colorado leaders and lawmakers to shift our spending and our laws just slightly away from “all cars all the time” and towards the vastly more effective direction of accommodating bikes and feet as transportation options. Partly because of their work, I have seen incredible changes in Denver, which is rapidly becoming a bike utopia. Boulder is not far behind, and while Longmont is still partially stuck in the 1980s as we widen car roads and build even more empty parking lots, these changes slowly trickle down from leaders to followers, so I want to fund the leaders.

$5000 (tripled to $15,000 due to a matching program that runs until Dec. 31) to Planned Parenthood. Although US-centric, this is an incredibly useful medical resource for our people in the greatest need. Due to emotional manipulation by politicians who use religion as a wedge to divide public opinion, this general healthcare organization is under constant attack because they also support women’s reproductive rights. But if you have a loved one or family member who has ever been helped during a difficult time by Planned Parenthood, you know exactly why they are such an incredible force for good – affecting millions of lives for the better.

And finally, just for reasons of personal and local appreciation, $1000 to the orchestra program of little MM’s public middle school. I have been amazed at the transformation in my own son and the hundreds of other kids who have benefited from this program. They operate a world-class program on a shoestring (violin-string?) budget which they try to boost by painstakingly fundraising with poinsettia plants and chocolate bars. So I could see that even a little boost like this could make a difference. (He plays the upright bass.)

You could definitely argue that there are places that need money more than a successful school in a wealthy and peaceful area like Colorado, and I would agree with you. Because of this, I always encourage people not to do the bulk of their giving to local organizations. Sure, it may feel more gratifying and you may see the results personally, but you can make a much bigger difference by sending your dollars to where they are needed the most. So as a compromise, I try to split things up and send the lion’s share of my donations to GiveWell where they will make the biggest difference, and do a few smaller local things here as a reward mostly for myself.

So those are the donations that are complete – $99,000 of my own cash plus an additional $10,000 in matching funds for Planned Parenthood. But because environment and energy are such big things to me, I wanted to do one more fun thing:

$5000 to build or expand a local solar farm.

This one is more of an investment than a donation, but it still does a lot of good. Because if you recall, last year I built a solar array for the MMM Headquarters coworking space, which has been pumping out free energy ever since. My initial setup only cost me $3800 and it has already delivered about $1000 in free energy, more than the total amount used to run the HQ and charge a bunch of electric cars on the side.

So, I plan to invest another $5000, to expand the array at HQ if possible, or to build a similar one on the roof of my own house, possibly with the help of Tesla Energy, which is surprisingly one of the most cost-effective ways to get solar panels installed these days. These will generate decades of clean energy, displacing fossil fuels in my local area while paying me dividends the whole time, which I can reinvest into even more philanthropy in the future.

What a great way to begin the decade. Let’s get on it!

* Die With Zero is not yet released, but I read a pre-release copy that his publisher sent me. The real book comes out on May 5th

** Also, if you find the scientific pursuit of helping the world as fascinating as I do, you should definitely watch the new Bill Gates documentary called Inside Bill’s Brain, which is available on Netflix.

Source: mrmoneymustache.com

Stimulus Check 2020: Full Details About Emergency Taxpayer Aid

Taxpayer aid packages in congress include stimulus checks and direct payments to Americans to help during the pandemic. Here’s what you need to know.

The post Stimulus Check 2020: Full Details About Emergency Taxpayer Aid appeared first on Bible Money Matters and was written by Peter Anderson. Copyright © Bible Money Matters – please visit biblemoneymatters.com for more great content.

Source: biblemoneymatters.com