How To Avoid Being House Poor

How Much Home Can I AffordEarlier this year, I published the post Is Being House Poor Limiting You? While no one ever thinks they will fall into being house poor, it does happen to some. Due to this, when asking yourself the question “how much home can I afford,” it’s best to think about ALL of the expenses that go into homeownership.

There are many “hidden” costs that go into homeownership that many do not think about when buying a home. While some homes may seem affordable, there are many factors and expenses to think about.

According to recent data from Zillow:

  • U.S. homeowners on average spend more than $9,000 per year in hidden homeownership costs and maintenance expenses
  • U.S. homeowners pay an average of $6,042 per year in unavoidable hidden costs: homeowners insurance, property taxes and utilities
  • U.S. homeowners pay an average of $3,435 per year in annual optional costs including house cleaning, yard care, gutter cleaning, carpet cleaning, and pressure washing.

That’s a lot of extra money each year that many homeowners do not realize that they may need to pay for.

By not knowing about these costs, a person may become stressed due to the amount of debt they may rack up from being house poor. It may also delay retirement, lead to a house being empty (there might be no money left to decorate), and more.

There are things you can do though so that you can make sure you don’t fall into a house poor situation, though. When pondering the question “How much home can I afford,” think about the many tips below.

 

Add up all of the costs.

Buying a home can easily lead to being house poor if you don’t do enough research. This can limit you because you may be even more house poor than you originally thought.

When some families buy a home, they don’t think about the total cost of homeownership. While you may be able to afford the monthly mortgage payment, you may not be able to afford everything else if you don’t do your research.

Before you say “yes” to a home, I recommend you add up all of the extra costs that you may have to pay for if you decide to buy a specific home.

Other homeownership costs include:

  • Gas. Many homes run on gas in order to have hot water, to use the stove, and so on.
  • Electricity. Generally, the bigger your home then the higher your electricity bill will be.
  • Sewer.  This isn’t super expensive, but it is generally around $30 a month from what I’ve seen.
  • Trash.  This isn’t super expensive either but it does cost money.
  • Water (and possibly irrigation).  Water bills can vary widely. I know many who live in areas where the average water bill is a few hundred each month.
  • Property taxes. Property taxes can vary widely from town to town. You may find yourself looking at two similar houses with similar price tags, but the property taxes may vary by thousands of dollars annually. That is a LOT of money. While it may seem small when compared to the actual home purchase price, remember that you have to pay property taxes annually and a difference of just $3,600 a year is $300 a month for life.
  • Home insurance. Home insurance can be cheap in some areas but crazy expensive in others. Don’t forget to look into the cost of earthquake, flood, and hurricane insurance as well as that can add up quickly depending on where you live.
  • Maintenance and repairs. Even if your home is brand new, you may have to pay for repairs, which is something that many don’t realize. No matter how old your home is, repair and maintenance costs will eventually come into play.
  • Homeowners association fees. This can also vary widely. You should always see if the house you are interested in is in an HOA because the fees can be high and there may be rules you don’t like as well.
  • Home furnishings. Furnishing your home can be done cheaply, but I know some who buy huge homes but can’t afford to put anything in them, such as a table, a bed, and so on. Why own a $500,000 house if you don’t have any furniture?

Related: Home Buying Tips You Need To Know Before You Buy

 

Buy for less than what you are approved for.

Many potential homeowners are approved for home loans that are somewhere around 30% to 35% of their salary before taxes.

That’s a lot of money. This amount is before taxes as well, which means that your actual monthly home payment would be a significant portion of your take-home income each month. Many who buy at the full approval amount cannot afford their homes due to the fact that it is such a significant percentage of what they earn.

If you don’t want to be house poor, then you should make sure to buy a home that is less than what you are approved for. You should also add up all of the costs of owning a home and make sure it is an amount that you are comfortable with.

Related posts:

  • Renting Out A Room In Your Home For Extra Money
  • How To Live On One Income
  • Ways To Make An Extra $1,000 A Month

 

Have an emergency fund.

An emergency fund isn’t just to protect you from your job. They also exist to help you in case something goes wrong with your home.

Your roof could spring a leak, a tree may fall on your home, a pipe may burst, there may be an electrical problem and more. Homes have many things that go into them and you never know if something may need to be fixed.

By having an emergency fund, you will have a fund that will help you if something were to go wrong. It will be you be more prepared so that you don’t have to take on any debt in order to help pay for an expense.

What would you say to someone who asks “How much home can I afford?” Do you know anyone who is house poor?

 

The post How To Avoid Being House Poor appeared first on Making Sense Of Cents.

Source: makingsenseofcents.com

Tips to Help You Fund (and Keep) Your Emergency Fund

Everyone who’s ever had an emergency will tell you money is key to making good decisions. We make bad financial decisions when we’re broke and desperate. That’s why having an emergency fund is vital to starting any personal finance journey.…

The post Tips to Help You Fund (and Keep) Your Emergency Fund appeared first on Modern Frugality.

Source: modernfrugality.com

How to Pay Off Credit Card Debt Faster

I've received several questions from Money Girl podcast listeners about paying off credit card debt. It's a fundamental goal because carrying card balances come with high interest, a waste of your financial resources. Instead of paying money to card companies, it's time to use it to build wealth for yourself.

7 Strategies to Pay Off Credit Card Debt Faster

1. Stop making new card charges

If you're carrying card balances from month-to-month, it's essential to understand what it costs you. As interest accrues, it can double or triple the original cost of a charged item, depending on how long it takes you to pay off.

The first step to improving any area of your life is to acknowledge your mistakes, and financing a lifestyle you can't afford using a credit card is a biggie. So, stop making new charges until you take control of your cards and can pay them off in full each month.

As interest accrues, it can double or triple the original cost of a charged item, depending on how long it takes you to pay off.

Yes, reining in your card spending will probably require sacrifices. Consider ways to earn extra income, such as starting a side gig, finding a better-paying job, or selling your unused stuff. Also, look for ways to cut costs by downsizing your home, vehicle, memberships, or unnecessary expenses.

2. Consider your big financial picture

Before you decide to pay off credit card debt aggressively, look at the "big picture" of your financial life. Consider any other debts or obligations you should prioritize, such as a tax delinquency, legal judgment, or unpaid child support. The next debts to pay off are those already in default or turned over to a collection agency.

In many cases, not having a cash reserve is why people get into credit card debt in the first place.

Assuming you don't have any debts in default, focus your attention on your emergency fund … or lack of one! I recommend maintaining a minimum of six months' worth of your living expenses on hand. In many cases, not having a cash reserve is why people get into credit card debt in the first place.

3. Make more than the minimum payment

Many people who can pay more than their monthly minimum card payment don't do it. The problem is that minimums go mostly toward interest and don't reduce your balance significantly.

For example, let's assume your card charges 15% APR, you have a $5,000 balance, and you never make another purchase on the card. If your minimum payment is 4% of your card balance, it will take you 10½ years to pay off. And here's the worst part—you'd have paid almost $2,400 in interest!

4. Target debts with the highest interest rates first

Make a list of all your debts, including credit cards, lines of credit, and loans. Include your balances owed and interest rates charged. Then rank your liabilities in order of highest to lowest interest rate.

Getting rid of the highest interest debts first saves you the most.

Remember that the higher a debt's interest rate, the more it costs you in interest per dollar of debt. So, getting rid of the highest interest debts first saves you the most. Then you can use the savings to pay more on your next highest interest debt and so on.

If you have several credit cards, evaluate them the same way—tackle them in order of highest to lowest interest rate to get the most bang for your buck. And if a credit card isn't the most expensive debt you have, make it a lower priority.

In general, debts that come with a tax deduction such as mortgages, home equity lines of credit, and student loans, should be paid off last. Not only do those types of debt have relatively low interest rates, but when some or all of the interest is tax-deductible, they cost you even less on an after-tax basis.

5. Use your assets to pay off cards

If you have assets such as savings and non-retirement investments that you could use to pay down high-interest credit cards, it may make sense. Just remember that you still need a healthy cash reserve, such as six months' worth of living expenses.

If you don't have any or enough emergency money saved, don't dip into your savings to pay off credit card debt. Also, consider what you could sell—such as unused sporting goods, jewelry, or a vehicle—to raise cash and increase your financial cushion.

6. Consider using a balance transfer card

If you can’t pay off credit card debt using existing assets, consider optimizing it by moving it from higher- to lower-interest options. That won’t make your debt disappear, but it will reduce the amount of interest you pay.

Balance transfers won’t make your debt disappear, but they will reduce the amount of interest you pay.

Using a balance transfer credit card is a common way to optimize debt temporarily. You receive a promotional offer during a set period if you move debt to the account. By transferring higher-interest debt to a lower- or zero-interest card, you save money and use it to pay down the balance faster.

7. Consolidate your high-rate balances

I received a question from Sarah F., who says, “I love your podcast and turn to it for a lot of my financial questions. I have credit card debt and am wondering if it’s a good idea to get a personal loan to pay it down, or is that a scam?”

And Rachel K. says, "I love listening to your podcasts and am focused on becoming more financially fit this year. I have a couple of credit cards with high interest rates. Would it be wise for me to consolidate them to a lower interest rate? If so, will it hurt my credit?" 

Depending on the terms you’re offered, using a personal loan can be an excellent way to reduce interest and get out of debt faster.

Thanks to Sarah and Rachel for your questions. Consolidating credit card debt using a personal loan is not a scam but a legitimate way to shift debt to a lower interest rate.

Having an additional loan added to your credit history helps you build credit if you make payments on time. It also works in your favor by reducing your credit utilization ratio when you reduce your credit card debt.

If you qualify for a low-rate personal loan, here are some benefits you get from debt consolidation:

  • Cutting your interest expense
  • Getting a fixed rate and term (such as 6% APR for 60 months with monthly payments of $600)
  • Having one monthly debt payment
  • Building credit

A couple of downsides of using a personal loan to consolidate debt include:

  • Being tempted to continue making credit card charges
  • Having potentially higher monthly loan payments (compared to minimum credit card payments)

While it may seem counterintuitive to use new debt to get out of old debt, it all comes down to the interest rate. Depending on the terms you’re offered, using a personal loan can be an excellent way to reduce interest and get out of debt faster.

What should you do after paying off a credit card?

Credit cards come with many benefits, such as purchase protection, convenience, and rewards. Don't forget that they're also powerful tools for building credit when used responsibly. If maintaining good credit is one of your goals, I recommend that you keep a paid-off card open instead of canceling it.

You don't need to carry a balance from month to month or pay interest on a credit card to build excellent credit.

To maintain or improve your credit, you must have credit accounts open in your name, and you must use them regularly. Making small purchases charges from time to time that you pay off in full and on time is enough to add positive data to your credit reports. You don't need to carry a balance from month to month or pay interest on a credit card to build excellent credit.

To learn more about building credit and getting out of debt, check out Laura’s best-selling online classes:

  • Build Better Credit—The Ultimate Credit Score Repair Guide
  • Get Out of Debt Fast—A Proven Plan to Stay Debt-Free Forever

Source: quickanddirtytips.com