5 Key Property Features When House Hunting

5 Key Property Features When House Hunting

When shopping for a home, many of us know our basic focal points, such as identifying the right neighborhood or finding a house with the ideal number of bedrooms and bathrooms. These factors are important, but there are other home features (some very large and some very small) that can greatly contribute to the enjoyment of your new home. Let’s make sure you don’t miss any of them.

Here are five opportunities to maximize the benefits of your purchase that go beyond just the house and why each one deserves your consideration.

click to enlarge

Home Buying Consideration #1: The Garage

Garages are a very important feature for many homebuyers, and can even end up being a dealbreaker for some buyers. More than a parking spot, garages provide valuable storage and project space, as well as a way to protect your vehicles from all types of damage. When you are first shopping for a home, you may know that you want a garage, but you may not have considered all of the variables that go into the garage design, and which choice is right for you.

Garage Design: Why it Matters

When evaluating garage design, it’s important to start by considering what you may want to use the space for, and what external factors (such as weather) might impact your use. Here are several major garage design aspects to keep in mind as you house hunt.

Rental space: Depending on the size and layout of your garage, is there space that could be rented out full time, or used as a short-term rental to generate additional income? That extra income could be directed towards your mortgage payment.

Storage opportunities: Does the garage have room to store what you need to reduce in-home clutter? Is there space for shelves, or even room in the rafters?

Potential property value increase: According to the sales comparison approach (SCA), one of the most recognizable forms of valuing residential real estate, a “finished” garage that feels like an extension of the home’s indoor living space is one of several features that can increase overall home value. You may also want to consider the possibilities of eventually remodeling a bland garage in an otherwise perfect home.

Attached vs. Detached Garages: Pros vs. Cons

One of the biggest distinctions in garage design is whether a garage is attached or detached. Often influenced by lot shape (narrow lots on an alley often have detached garages, wider lots with a driveway often have attached garages) or the age of a home, having a detached or attached garage has both advantages and disadvantages.  

Attached Garages: Pros

  • Convenient access to your cars, storage, and other items, particularly if you live in an area with an extreme climate 
  • Attached garages are often less expensive to build, and can be climate controlled by accessing the electrical and HVAC systems that are part of the home
  • As attached garages are the most popular type of garage, having one typically increases the value of your home

Attached Garages: Cons

  • If you’re thinking of adding one, it may not be possible to fit on a narrow, urban lot
  • Since they offer direct access to the home, they can be a security and fire risk  
  • They can be hard to add onto or expand, and any additions or changes might require more expensive permits and extensive inspections
  • Adding an attached garage, particularly to a vintage home, may look strange or otherwise detract from the exterior look of the home
  • Noisy garage activities may be heard more inside the home

Detached Garages: Pros

  • More flexibility in size, layout and location, lot size and shape permitting
  • It’s easier to add room for cars, storage, and projects, and to add onto if needed
  • Less fire and security risk to your home 
  • Less of an impact to the look or curb appeal of your home
  • Can increase the resale value of your home

Detached Garages: Cons 

  • Particularly in bad weather, less convenient in terms of access 
  • Will require separate utilities, HVAC, and more
  • May not be allowed by your HOA or city permitting office

Now that we’ve examined the garage, let’s take a look at another key feature — what’s going on with the front and backyard?

Home Buying Consideration #2: The Yard

No longer limited to just a lawn, yards have now become an extension of the home. A convenient, well-designed outdoor living space is something that many homeowners desire. Yards can be great spaces for entertaining and are often much less expensive to create than comparable indoor entertaining spaces. Here are some important yard elements to consider. 

Trees and landscaping: Important for both aesthetic and practical reasons, trees and landscaping can increase your yard’s appeal. A mature, well-designed landscape is valuable, as it represents an investment of both time and money. 

Outdoor kitchen: Whether you are grilling for two or entertaining 200, an outdoor kitchen makes cooking fun and convenient. 

Fireplace or fire pit: This stylish focal point makes it easy to keep enjoying your yard, even after dark or in cooler weather. 

Automatic sprinklers, drip system, and misting system: Automatic sprinklers and drip systems can keep your yard looking lush for a low cost, and are particularly valuable in dry climates. Misting systems can also keep you cool on hot days. 

Deck or Patio: A stylish outdoor surface makes it easy to enjoy your yard, and many new construction materials require little to no maintenance. 

Shed: Well-designed sheds can go beyond storage, offering everything from a private workspace to extra space for guests to sleep. 

So, you’re considering the finer points of a yard. But what about adding a body of water to that yard for cooling off on hot days? Here’s the pros and cons of investing in a water element for your next home.

Just starting your home search? Here’s the best time to begin.

Home Buying Consideration #3: The Pool

Pools and hot tubs are perhaps the most controversial of all outdoor home features. Some homebuyers totally avoid them, and some won’t look at a house without them. Which side are you on? Here are some factors to consider. 

Backyard Pool and Hot Tub: Pros 

  • Pools and hot tubs can be aesthetically pleasing
  • Both are also useful for entertaining
  • In warmer climates, pools can provide a way to enjoy the outdoors comfortably
  • If you like to swim, engage in other aquatic exercises regularly for fitness, or use a hot tub for muscle and joint pain, having your own can be convenient
  • In hot climates where pools are common (i.e., Arizona, California, Florida), having a pool can significantly increase the resale value of your home 

Backyard Pool and Hot Tub: Cons

  • Both pools and hot tubs require regular maintenance that includes chemicals, cleaning, and repair
  • Many families with small children do not want a pool at home due to safety concerns
  • Your insurance cost may be higher, and your utility bills may go up as well, particularly for heating a pool 
  • When it is time to sell your home, there are many buyers who will not want a house with a pool

A pool is a big decision that comes with both maintenance and benefits alike. You can always opt for a different kind of water feature, like a backyard stream. But if you’re looking to streamline your life, investing in home tech devices is almost a no-brainer.

Home Buying Consideration #4: The Appliances and Tech Gadgets

As technology improves and designs continually evolve, having up-to-date appliances and other devices in your home has become increasingly important. For example, while attractive kitchens are near the top of many house-hunters’ wish lists, there are items within those kitchens that can help — and items that can hurt — when it comes to increasing a home’s value.

Appliances That Can Help Property Value

Commercial-grade appliances: Particularly in high-end properties, many buyers expect to see appliances from luxury or professional brands. 

Smart devices: Thermostats, fire detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, security cameras, door locks, and doorbells are just a few of the relatively new smart home devices that homebuyers are now beginning to appreciate and even expect.

Appliances That Can Hurt Property Value

Old and energy inefficient: These power-sucking products will cost you in both your utility bill, and the resale value of your home. 

Homes totally lacking certain appliances: Is your property missing a dishwasher, indoor laundry, or other key features? This can be a major turn-off for buyers who don’t want to have to complete a complicated remodeling and installation project. 

Mismatched appliances: Appliances from different eras or in different colors can make your kitchen look unfinished and low-quality, even if your other finishes are fantastic.

Looking to stock up on home amenities? We’ve targeted the seasonal best deals for doing so.

Now that you’ve considered the key interior and exterior components of your dream home, there’s one last important element to contemplate: the driveway.

Home Buying Consideration #5: The Driveway

Walkways and driveways connect your home to the outside world and play a crucial role in the curb appeal of your residence. Although often overlooked, they are important home features that can be messy and expensive to replace or update. 

If you are evaluating the driveway at a potential home, or considering an update at your current home, the first choice you will need to make is whether you want asphalt or concrete. Both have benefits and drawbacks that may vary depending on your climate, landscape, and usage needs.

Today, many homeowners and buyers are also looking for something beyond the basics, with driveway design trends including elaborate paving materials, irregular shapes, and additional features like extra parking for guests.

Know the Tricks, Now Land the House

Although these five features may not be your first considerations in the house-hunting process, they are important elements that you will use or interact with nearly every day. Add them to your consideration list, and you will be sure to end up in a customized home that you enjoy and treasure. If you’ve found your ideal home with all the right features, reach out to a PennyMac Loan Officer today or apply online to get pre-approved for the loan that’s right for you.

Source: pennymacusa.com

More money, less happiness: When money makes you miserable

More money, less happiness: When money makes you miserableMoney, the conventional wisdom says, doesn’t buy happiness. Modern psychology seems to back this up, with studies suggesting that beyond an income of $75,000, money doesn’t make you any happier.

This conclusion is simultaneously obvious and counter-intuitive.

As an abstract principle, most us acknowledge that money doesn’t buy happiness. But, at the same time, we all want more of something material — a nicer house, nicer vacations, the ability to live in a certain neighborhood or eat at fancier restaurants — that we think would make us happier. (If you’re J.D., you think maybe season tickets to your favorite team might make you happier.)

So, we’re left with a conundrum. Or, rather, a series of conundrums: Does income in excess of $75,000 make us happier? And if not, why not?

When Money Makes You Happier

In answer to the first question, I believe that all else equal — and as we’ll see below, this is a huge qualifier, as things are rarely equal — more money generally makes you happier.

To be clear, money won’t solve every problem. If you’re lonely or bitter or angry, for instance, more money won’t make you any happier. But just because money doesn’t solve every problem doesn’t mean that money won’t solve any problems.

Money can make many things easier, or better. With more money you can:

  • Build a nest-egg.
  • Pay off your house or car.
  • Go on more vacations.
  • Have more kids.
  • Be a stay at home parent.
  • Eat better food.
  • Retire early.

With more money, you can do any number of other things that people enjoy and that make them happier. And if you’re a victim of systemic poverty, more money can change your world.

As much as we pay lip-service to the idea of money not making us happy, it often does, and it’s okay to admit this. It doesn’t make us materialistic or greedy to want retirement savings, a nicer home, a paid-off car, or a trip to Europe.

When Money Makes You Miserable

Assuming that you buy the premise that (in theory) more money should (generally) make us happier, it raises the question of why (in practice) income beyond $75,000 annually doesn’t make us any happier.

I think the explanation for this seemingly irreconcilable conflict is that most people spend the extra income poorly. Most people use money ways that make them less happy.

Their Job Makes Them Miserable.

People who earn a lot of money often assume that they’re paid well because of their intelligence and skills. And that is undoubtedly often the case.

But often they’re paid well in whole (or in part) because they’ve accepted a very difficult, demanding job that pays well precisely because it makes people unhappy! A job with long hours, lots of stress, lots of travel and time away from family and friends will generally pay well, but also significantly impair happiness.

It shouldn’t then be surprising that people with high incomes are often unhappy. The high income and unhappiness have the exact same origins.

They Spend Money on Things That Bring Them No Happiness.

People are generally conformists. Drive through a rich neighborhood, and you’ll see people dressed similarly, driving similar cars, going on similar vacations.

This isn’t just a happy coincidence, that all these kindred spirits serendipitously found each other and formed a happy community. Rather, people succumb to keeping up with the Joneses and continually buy stuff — not because they enjoy it, but because they’d be embarrassed not to have it.

To a large extent, individuals let their peers dictate how they spend their time and money. Living on somebody else’s terms — living somebody else’s life — is not a recipe for happiness, and if you do it, extra money won’t make you any happier. You’ll be spending it how other people want you to, not how you want to.

They Take on More Debt.

When people begin to earn more money, they generally upgrade their lifestyle — buy a nicer home and buy a nicer car. The problem is, they don’t pay cash for these things. Rather, they use their new, higher income as a means to borrow more money. Far from providing financial security, the extra income often makes their financial position more precarious.

Instead of using the extra income to buy freedom and peace of mind — which would make them happier — they incur more debt, which makes them more anxious than ever, with the added fear that if they lose their job, they’ll be humiliated at having to ratchet back their newly lavish lifestyle.

Extra money won’t make you happy if it tethers you to a heavily indebted lifestyle.

The Bottom Line

The lesson here is simple: If you come into more money, it can make you happier — provided that you use it in a way that provides you security, freedom, and sincere pleasure, not merely conformist consumption.

Money, in short, is neutral. It’s a tool that can make you happier, or less happy, depending on how you choose to spend it.

Money will make you happier only if you choose to spend it in accordance with your values and your preferences. Nobody — not your parents, not your friends, not your neighbors, and certainly not a blogger! — knows what makes you happy better than you do. But, this doesn’t stop people from assuming that they know what is best for you: what neighborhood you should live in, what car to drive, what education you “owe” your kids. If you listen to them, more money won’t make you any happier; in fact, it may make you less happy, because you’re working hard and incurring debt to live out somebody else’s life.

Our family’s life is a microcosm of this.

In our twenties, my wife and I both had good jobs in a large city. We had it made by what society values, but we weren’t very happy; we worked long hours at demanding jobs. We did however live frugally relative to our incomes.

Burnt out on our jobs, we eventually moved to a smaller city and my wife quit her job so that we could have three kids that she stayed home with. Those were expensive decisions, both in terms of cash outlays and opportunity cost. But they were good decisions; we had less money, but far more joy.

This trade-off was only possible because we had spent many years saving our money, deferring gratification — ignoring a culture that told us to spend as a reward for our hard work — so that when we finally spent the money, we spent it on something that we valued, namely our family. It was the best decision that we’ve ever made (all the credit goes to my wife!), but it was only possible to live that way in our thirties because of how we had spent, or more accurately not spent, in our twenties.

The point isn’t that we’re so smart, and that you should have a bunch of kids too. It is in fact the opposite: I have no idea what your best life is.

But then again, neither does anybody else besides you. If you find the courage to decide for yourself what you value, and you use money wisely to pursue your goals and your dreams, you will find that, contrary to popular opinion, money will buy you happiness.

Source: getrichslowly.org

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

Earn money for taking surveys and testing products with Ipsos i-Say!

This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here.

Looking for ways to stretch your budget a bit further or earn a little extra from home? Sign up for Ipsos i-Say to earn money for taking surveys and testing new products!

Ipsos i-Say is a reputable, global survey-based market research company that gives its community members a chance to provide opinions in exchange for survey points that earn you money.

Earn towards gift cards to spend at your favorite places such as Starbucks, Amazon, Target, and more. Or just trade in for cash through prepaid VISA gift cards or Pay Pal funds!

Go here to get started.

Surveys are a great way to make some extra income on the side! This is a great list of legitimate survey sites you can trust!

Looking for more opportunities to make money from home? See my list of recommended survey companies here.

Source: moneysavingmom.com

Should I Refinance My Mortgage? When to Refinance

The Federal Reserve recently lowered interest rates in an effort to stimulate the economy during the coronavirus pandemic. As a result, more and more people are becoming interested in refinancing their mortgage. Depending on the situation, refinancing your mortgage can prove to be a savvy financial decision that can save you massive amounts of money in the long-term. But is it right for you? 

If you’re curious about refinancing your mortgage, this article should answer many of your questions, including: 

  1. How Does Refinancing Work?
  2. When Should I Refinance My Mortgage? 
  3. What is the Downside of Refinancing My Home? 
  4. How Do I Calculate if I Should Refinance My Mortgage? 
  5. What are My Refinancing Options? 

How Does Refinancing Work? 

“Refinancing your mortgage allows you to pay off your existing mortgage and take out a new mortgage on new terms,” according to usa.gov. So when you refinance your mortgage, you’re essentially trading in your old mortgage for a new one. The new loan that you take out pays off the remainder of the original mortgage and takes its place. That means the terms of the old mortgage no longer apply, and you’re instead bound by the terms of the new one. 

There are many reasons why homeowners choose to refinance their mortgage. They may want to secure a loan with a lower interest rate, switch from an adjustable rate mortgage (ARM) to a fixed-rate, shorten or lengthen their repayment term, change mortgage companies, or come up with some cash in order to pay off debts or deal with miscellaneous expenses. As you can see, there are a vast number of reasons why someone might be interested in refinancing. 

There are also a couple of different ways to go about refinancing. A standard rate-and-term refinance is the most common way to do it. With this method, you simply adjust the interest rate you’re paying and the terms of your mortgage so that they become more beneficial to you. 

However, you could also do a cash out refinance, where you pull equity out of your home and receive it in the form of a cash payment, or take out a new loan that’s greater than the remaining debt on the original mortgage. Even though you’ll get an influx of cash in the short-term, a cash out refinance can be a risky option because it increases your debt and it’ll likely cost you in interest payments in the long-term.


When Should I Refinance My Mortgage?

Maybe you’ve been wondering, “Should I refinance my mortgage?” If you can save money, pay off your mortgage faster, and build equity in your home by doing so, then the answer is yes. Whether you can achieve this is dependent on a variety of things. Take a look at these refinance tips in order to get a better idea of when you should refinance your mortgage. 

Capitalize on Low Interest Rates 

When mortgage rates go down, a lot of people consider refinancing their mortgage in order to take advantage of that new lower rate. And this makes perfect sense—by paying a lower interest rate on your mortgage, you could end up saving thousands of dollars over time. But when it comes to refinancing your mortgage, there are a number of other factors you should consider as well. 

Regarding interest rates, you should take a look at how steeply they drop before making any refinancing decisions. It might be a good idea to refinance your mortgage if you can lower your interest rate by at least 2 percent. It ultimately depends on the amount of your mortgage, but anything less than that amount likely won’t be worth it in the long run. 

Switch to Fixed-Rate Mortgage

It’s also very common for people to refinance in order to get out of an adjustable rate mortgage and instead convert to a fixed-rate. An adjustable rate mortgage usually starts off with a lower interest rate than a fixed-rate, but that rate eventually changes and it can end up costing you. That’s because the interest rate on an adjustable rate mortgage changes over time based on an index of interest rates. It can alter based on the mortgage market, the LIBOR market index, and the federal funds rate. 

By converting to a fixed-rate mortgage—where the interest rate is set when you initially take out the loan—before the low rates on your adjustable rate mortgage increase, you can minimize the amount you have to pay in interest. If you’re able to lock in a low fixed interest rate, you’ll be less susceptible to market volatility and more capable of devising a long-term payment strategy.   

GRAPHIC 2

When debating the question of “Should I refinance my mortgage or not?”, you should also keep in mind what lenders will look at when determining the terms of your loan. In order to come up with an interest rate and approve you for a refinancing loan, lenders will take the following factors into consideration: 

  • Payment history on your original mortgage: Before issuing a refinancing loan, lenders will review the payment history on your initial mortgage to make sure that you made payments on time. 
  • Credit score: With good credit, you’ll have more flexibility and options when refinancing. A high credit score will allow you to take out loans with more favorable terms at a lower interest rate. 
  • Income: Lenders will want to see that you generate a steady, reliable income that can comfortably cover the monthly mortgage payments.  
  • Equity: Home equity is the loan-to-value ratio of a borrower. You can calculate it by dividing the amount owed on the current mortgage loan by the home’s current value. Before you consider refinancing, you should ideally have at least 20% equity in your home. If your equity is under 20% but your credit is good, you still may be able to secure a loan, but you’ll likely be charged a higher interest rate or have to pay for mortgage insurance, which is not ideal.

What is the Downside of Refinancing My Home? 

Refinancing a mortgage isn’t for everyone. If you don’t take the time to do your research, calculate savings, and weigh the benefits versus the potential risks, you could end up spending more money on refinancing than you would have had you stuck with the original loan. 

When refinancing, you run the risk of placing yourself in a precarious financial position. This is especially true when it comes to a cash out refinance, as this can put you on the hook for even more money and bury you in interest payments. 

Don’t refinance your home and pull out equity just to get quick cash, make luxury purchases, and buy things you don’t need—doing this is an easy way to dig yourself into a deep financial hole. In reality, you should only refinance your mortgage if you know that you can save money doing it. 

How Do I Calculate if I Should Refinance My Mortgage? 

Before you refinance your mortgage, it’s crucial to crunch the numbers and determine whether it’s worth it in the long-run. To do this, you’ll first have to consider how much refinancing actually costs. 

Consider Closing Costs

So how much does it cost to refinance? One of the most significant expenses to take into account when refinancing is the closing costs. All refinancing loans come with closing costs, which depend on the lender and the amount of your loan, but average around three to six percent of the principal amount of the loan. So, for example, if you took out a loan of $200,000, you would end up paying another $8,000 if closing costs were set at 4%. 

These closing costs are most often paid upfront, but in some cases lenders will permit you to make the closing costs part of the principal amount, thus incorporating them into the new loan. While closing costs generally don’t cover property taxes, homeowner’s insurance, and mortgage insurance, they do tend to include the following: 

  • Refinance application fee
  • Credit fees 
  • Home appraisal and inspection fees 
  • Points fee
  • Escrow and title fees 
  • Lender fee

Determine Your Break-Even Point

To make an informed decision as to whether refinancing your mortgage is a sound financial decision, you should calculate how long it will take for the refinancing to pay for itself. In other words, you’ll want to determine your break-even point. To calculate your break-even point, divide the total closing costs by the amount you’ll save on a monthly basis as a result of your refinance loan. 

The basic equation for figuring out your break-even point is as follows: [Closing Costs] / [Monthly Savings] = [# of Months to Break Even] 

Taking this into consideration, you can see how the length of time you plan on staying in a home can make a big difference as to whether or not refinancing your mortgage is the right option for you. If you’re thinking of moving away and selling your house in a few years, then refinancing your mortgage is probably not the right move. You likely won’t save enough in those few years to cover the additional costs of refinancing. 

However, if you plan on remaining at the house you’re in for a long stretch of time, then refinancing could potentially save you a lot of money. To make an informed decision, you have to do the math yourself—or, to make the calculations even simpler, use Mint’s online loan repayment calculator. 

What are My Refinancing Options? 

As stated above, you have options when it comes to refinancing loans. You could refinance your mortgage in order to secure a lower interest fee and a change in the terms of your loan; or you might opt for a cash out refinance that lets you turn your home’s equity into extra income that you can use to pay for home improvement, tuition costs, high-interest debt payments, and more. 

In order to actually start refinancing your home, you’ll have to find a lender and fill out a loan application. Shop around at large and small banks alike to see who will offer you the lowest interest rates and the best terms. How long does a refinance take? The timeline depends on a few things, including the lender you borrow from and your own financial situation. But, in general, it takes an average of 45 days to refinance a mortgage. 

You might also consider forgoing the traditional banks and dealing with an online non-banking company instead. Alternative lenders often offer greater flexibility in terms of who qualifies for a loan and they can, in some cases, expedite the refinancing process. For example, Freddie Mac is a government-sponsored mortgage loan company that, in addition to offering no cash out and cash out refinancing, has a third option available for borrowers whose loan-to-value ratio is too high to qualify for the traditional refinancing routes. Learn more by visiting freddiemac.com. 

When tackling any big financial decision, it’s important that you’re informed and organized. Learn the facts, do the calculations, and research your options before beginning the refinancing process to make sure it’s the right choice for you. 

The post Should I Refinance My Mortgage? When to Refinance appeared first on MintLife Blog.

Source: mint.intuit.com

20 Of The Best Entry Level Work From Home Jobs

Looking for entry level work from home jobs?

Are you wondering, “How can I work from home with no experience?”

I know it may seem like every job out there today requires several years of experience. This makes it very difficult to find a job, especially if you are brand new to the field and trying to get your start.

It can be difficult to find a way to make money from home when you are brand new, but it’s not impossible to find entry level work from home jobs.

Everyone has to start somewhere, and if you want to start working from home, then I have a great list of no experience work from home jobs for you to look into.

Now, just because these jobs, businesses, and ways to make extra money don’t require experience, it does not mean that they will be easy! Remember, good things don’t come easy.

You may have to learn a new skill, take a course, and so on.

Also, please remember that entry level means you are starting from the bottom and working up. That means it may take a while to establish yourself. Still, there is room to grow in many of these jobs.

What you’ll find in this list of entry level work from home jobs are new careers and businesses you can start without having a college degree or years of experience.

There are many ideas on this list that involve starting a freelance career by using existing skills, like if you have a good eye for spotting grammar and punctuation errors, then you may be interested in proofreading.

There are other ideas on this list that will require you to learn some new skills – all ones you can easily pick up online.

The most important part is that all of these jobs are 100% work from home ideas. Yes, these are all jobs you can work from the comfort of your own home, while you travel, etc.

Finding a work from home job can be a great way to make money.

After all, it’s what I do, and I love it!

And, there are so many different options depending on what you are looking for. You may be able to find entry level work from home jobs that are part time, full time, that work while you are traveling, and so on.

Plus, many of the entry level jobs from home on my list allow you to have a more flexible schedule, where you may be able to choose the days you work, your hours, and more.

So, if you are looking to start making extra money or if you want a new career path that lets you earn money from home, this list is especially for you.

Before you’re scared off by any of these ideas, please remember that you don’t need to be an expert in any of them right now. As with any new job, you learn as you go and can find training as well.

Related content on entry level work from home jobs:

  • 12 Passive Income Ideas That Will Let You Enjoy Life More
  • 15 Of My Best Working From Home Tips So You Can Succeed
  • 15 Outdoor Jobs For People Who Love Being Outside
  • 15 Home Business Ideas & The Free Courses You Need To Get Started

Below are 20 entry level work from home jobs.

 

1. Create a blog to earn an income.

If you’re looking to work from home, I recommend that you think about starting a blog.

You don’t need previous experience, and most bloggers are brand new to blogging anyways!

I was brand new when I started my blog many years ago, and I learned everything I know along the way.

I read lots of online articles written by other bloggers who were once in the same spot I was, and I have also taken several great courses to help me improve my blog over the years.

I created Making Sense of Cents in 2011, and since then, I have earned over $5,000,000 from my blog.

Blogging allows me to travel full-time, have a flexible schedule, and I earn a great income doing it.

My blog was created on a whim as a way to track my own personal finance progress. When I first started my blog, I honestly had no clue what I was doing. I didn’t even know that people could make money blogging!

One of the reasons that blogging is one of the best entry level work from home jobs is because blogging is quite affordable to start.

You can easily learn how to start a blog with my free How To Start a Blog Course.

Here’s a quick outline of what you will learn:

  • Day 1: Reasons you should start a blog
  • Day 2: How to determine what to blog about
  • Day 3: How to create your blog (in this lesson, you will learn how to start a blog on WordPress – my tutorial makes it very easy to start a blog)
  • Day 4: How to make money blogging
  • Day 5: My tips for making passive income from blogging
  • Day 6: How to grow your traffic and followers
  • Day 7: Miscellaneous blogging tips that will help you be successful

 

2. Sell items through Amazon.

Yes, you read that correctly. You can sell items on Amazon while working from home.

Even if you have no experience, you can earn money selling all kinds of items on Amazon, from books, work out equipment, electronics, and more. 

Amazon has many people who sell items and earn money from home. Most have no experience selling things online or have ever worked at Amazon.

Jessica Larrew, of The Selling Family, is a friend of mine, and she and her family started selling things on Amazon FBA a few years ago without any experience – they made over $100,000 profit in their first year! And, they were working less than 20 hours a week total.

Jessica now has a FREE 7 day course that will teach you everything you need to know in order to start selling on Amazon. I recommend signing up for it now!

I interviewed Jessica in How To Work From Home Selling On Amazon FBA, and we talk about:

  • How Jessica started selling on Amazon FBA
  • What exactly Amazon FBA is
  • How to choose what to buy and sell
  • How much a person can expect to earn
  • The positives of selling on Amazon, and more

 

3. Teach English online.

This one will probably surprise you, but there are entry level work from home jobs where you teach English to kids in other countries. You don’t need to have been a teacher or speak a language other than English.

The requirements are that you have experience working with kids. That can include mentoring, tutoring, coaching, babysitting, or being a parent.

That’s a pretty easy requirement, though!

You can typically earn around $14 to $22 per hour by teaching English online.

Learning how to teach English online has become extremely popular, making it one of the best online jobs from home for many good reasons – it’s flexible, there’s a high need for teachers, and it pays pretty well.

My top three picks are ones my readers have recommended and ones I have researched:

  1. VIPKID
  2. Qkids
  3. Education First

Learn more at Make Extra Money By Learning How To Teach English Online.

 

4. Tutor from home.

To go along with the above, you can also work from home as an online tutor.

Course Hero is a website that has entry level work from home jobs where you help high school and college students with course-specific questions.

Course Hero was founded in 2007 and is an online learning website where students can find tutors and search by their specific school to find study guides, videos, practice problems, class notes, and step-by-step explanations.

Using the website, students connect with Course Hero tutors on a wide range of subjects and classes, which makes this a great option for people with different educational backgrounds and experience.

What might surprise you to learn is that you don’t need to have experience as a tutor, professor, or teacher in order to become a Course Hero tutor.

However, you will need to share information that proves you have expertise in the subjects you would like to help students with, such as degrees or previous work history.

Tutors earn an average of $3 for each question they answer on Course Hero. Earning between $12-$20 per hour, Course Hero tutors earn an average of $300 a week.

Here’s how this online tutoring job work:

  1. You apply here to become a Course Hero tutor
  2. When you are available to answer questions, you do so on the Course Hero website
  3. You get paid

Learn more at How To Make $300+ Weekly As An Online Tutor With Course Hero.

 

5. Become a virtual assistant.

Several years ago, I was a virtual assistant.

I had no previous experience, and I simply learned skills as I worked.

Virtual assisting is a field that is growing a lot, and there are lots of entry level work from home jobs as a virtual assistant.

Virtual assistant (VA) tasks may include social media management, formatting and editing content, scheduling appointments or travel, email management, and more. Basically, you can get paid to do any task that needs to be done in someone’s business, but doesn’t need to be done by them.

My friend Kayla is a full-time blogger, virtual assistant, and project manager who earns over $10,000 per month while working from home. She is also the founder of $10K VA, a course where she teaches exactly how you can make a consistent $10,000 per month as a virtual assistant!

Kayla used to work a full-time job as a credit analyst, earning about $2,000 per month. She was struggling to make ends meet while paying off debt, so she started a side hustle as a virtual assistant.

I interviewed her at How Kayla Earns $10K/Month From Home as a Virtual Assistant, and we talk about:

  • The amount of money a beginner virtual assistant can expect to earn
  • How to find your first virtual assistant job
  • The steps to become a virtual assistant without previous experience
  • Her best tips for being a virtual assistant

And more!

 

6. Evaluate Google’s search engine results.

A Search Engine Evaluator (also known as a Google Rater) is where you rate websites based on their quality and usefulness.

You are rating websites to help Google improve their search engine results.

This is one of the entry level work from home jobs that almost anyone can do – you don’t need to be a technical person in order to make money as a search engine evaluator.

Another great positive is that you can work in the language of your country, as Google operates in nearly every country around the world.

Learn more at How To Become a Search Engine Evaluator.

 

7. Manage Facebook advertising for small businesses.

Did you know that you can make a living from Facebook? With Facebook advertising, you can help businesses expand their reach.

And, yes, this is a skill that you can learn!

Last year, business owners spent over $88,000,000 per day on Facebook ads. This is expected to continue to grow, and it is one of the largest advertising spaces that exists.

My blogging friend Bobby Hoyt knows a lot about this topic. Bobby is a former high school teacher who paid off $40,000 of student loan debt in a year and a half. He learned how to run Facebook ads on his own to earn extra money. Bobby now runs the personal finance blog Millennial Money Man full-time, as well as a digital marketing agency for local businesses that he started in 2015.

I interviewed Bobby about entry level work from home jobs running Facebook ads, and in our interview, you will learn:

  • How he started earning income through running Facebook ads
  • Why small businesses want Facebook ads
  • How a person can find their first Facebook ads client
  • How much you can make doing this type of work – the average is around $1,000 extra a month per client

Also, Bobby has a free webinar on this topic too. His webinar (you can sign up here) will teach you how to start this business even if you’re brand new, how to find paying clients, and more.

 

8. Get paid to share your opinion.

This isn’t exactly a job, but it is a way to make extra money.

And, you don’t need any previous experience.

Yes, you can get paid to share your opinion!

Companies use surveys all the time to learn what their current and potential customers think of their products, services, and company. With the surveys you take, companies get valuable opinions on how to improve their products, and that’s what they are paying you for.

Below are the survey companies I recommend:

  1. American Consumer Opinion
  2. Survey Junkie
  3. Swagbucks
  4. InboxDollars
  5. Opinion Outpost
  6. OneOpinion
  7. Pinecone Research
  8. Prize Rebel
  9. Product Report Card
  10. Survey Club

 

9. Create an online store of your own.

This is one of the entry level work from home jobs that many people are surprised to hear about. But yes, you can start your own online store, and you don’t need to have tons of experience or a lot of money to do so. Many people start with absolutely no background.

I had the opportunity to interview Jenn Leach of E-commerce and Prosper, who explains exactly how to start an online store.

Jenn is a corporate mom turned e-commerce store owner and blogger.

She started her online business a little over three years ago, and since then, she has developed and grown three successful online e-commerce stores earning an average of $19,000 per month.

She is super successful despite only spending around 5-10 hours per week on her e-commerce business.

You can read our interview at How Jenn Makes Over $10,000 A Month With Her Online Store In Less Than 10 Hours Per Week.

 

10. Start a bookkeeping business.

I’m sure you’re surprised to hear that bookkeeping is an area with entry level work from home jobs, but it definitely is.

A bookkeeper is someone who tracks the finances of a business, handles billing and payments, making spreadsheets, etc., but that doesn’t mean you need to be an accountant or have any related experience.

Ben, from Bookkeeper Launch, helps people get started as bookkeepers even when they don’t have any experience. Ben is a CPA who founded his business after realizing that many businesses needed better bookkeepers. 

In our interview, we talk about:

  • What a bookkeeper is
  • The typical clients a bookkeeper has
  • How much new bookkeepers earn
  • How to become a bookkeeper
  • The positives and negatives of bookkeeping

You can read all of his answers and more in our interview Make Money At Home By Becoming A Bookkeeper.

Also, you can sign up here for a free series that will teach you more about running your own virtual bookkeeping business.

 

11. Find stuff to resell.

This is one another one of the entry level work from home jobs that anyone can start. That’s because we all have lots of stuff in our house that we can probably sell online.

Have you ever found something that you thought you may be able to resell and actually make some money?

Melissa’s family earned $133,000 in one year through buy and sell flipping, and they were working only 10-20 hours per week.

Yes, just 10-20 hours a week!

Some of the best flipped items that they’ve sold include:

  • An item that they bought for $10 and flipped for $200 just 6 minutes later
  • A security tower they bought for $6,200 and flipped for $25,000 just one month later
  • A prosthetic leg that they bought for $30 at a flea market and sold for $1,000 on eBay the next day

You can learn more at How Melissa Made $40,000 In One Year Flipping Items.

 

12. Write online as a freelancer.

I know so many people who have found entry level freelance writing jobs. You don’t need a background in writing or a degree in English or creative writing.

A freelance writer is someone who writes for a number of different clients, such as websites, blogs, magazines, advertising companies, books, and more. They don’t work for one specific company, rather they work for themselves and contract out their writing.

My friend Holly from EarnMoreWriting.com (as well as the popular personal finance blog Club Thrifty) is a very successful freelance writer and has earned over $200,000 writing online!

Her freelance writing course includes nine video modules, several printable worksheets, and awesome add-ons, too. Here are some of the things you can expect to learn if you take her freelance writing course:

  • Discover the #1 most important thing you can do to get paid writing jobs
  • Learn how to find entry level work from home jobs as a writer and move up over time
  • Learn how price affects the amount of work you get
  • Learn which types of jobs help Holly earn the most pay, and where you can find them
  • Find out which online platforms work best for finding paid work, and how to use them
  • Learn how to structure your work day to earn six figures or more

Learn more at How I Earn $200,000+ Writing Online Content.

 

13. Transcribe audio or video into text.

Transcription is the art of turning any audio or video content into a text document.

There are many businesses looking for transcriptionists too – since general transcriptionists convert audio and video to text for virtually any industry, there really isn’t a typical client. Some examples include marketers, authors, filmmakers, academics, speakers, and conferences of all types.

Beginning transcriptionists earn around $15 an hour to start.

There are many transcriptionist jobs that don’t require experience, and most transcriptionists learn more and improve their skills as they work.

You can learn more about becoming a transcriptionist in the interview Make Money At Home By Becoming A Transcriptionist. The interview explains:

  • What a transcriptionist is
  • How you can get started as a transcriptionist
  • What kind of money you can expect to make
  • The type of training you need, and more

 

14. Find proofreading jobs online.

Finding entry level proofreading jobs online is very possible.

All you need to work as a proofreader is a laptop or tablet, an internet connection, and a good eye for pointing out mistakes.

Proofreaders look for punctuation mistakes, misspelled words, lack of consistency, and formatting errors.

In 2014, Caitlin made slightly over $43,000 by being a freelance proofreader.

You’ll learn more about this in my interview with Caitlin that I link to below, but proofreaders take content that other people have written and then go over it with a fine-tooth comb. You might be proofreading blog posts, print articles, academic articles, website copy, ad copy, books, student papers, emails, and more.

This job is for a very specific type of person who LOVES to correct grammar or makes a note of spelling mistakes on a restaurant menu… it takes a certain “eagle eye” ability to be good at proofreading!

I interviewed Caitlin on what it takes to become a proofreader, and in our interview we go over questions such as:

  • What a proofreader does
  • How much proofreaders earn
  • How quickly a person can start making money as a proofreader
  • The steps needed to become a proofreader

You can find out about entry level work from home jobs and more at How To Become A Proofreader And Work From Anywhere.

Caitlin has put together a FREE 76-minute workshop, where she answers all of the most common questions about becoming a proofreader, and she even shows you how to use the most popular tools used by proofreaders around the world. You can sign up for free here.

 

15. Learn how to become a scopist.

Scoping is when you are editing legal documents for court reporters. This is different from proofreading for court reporters.

I interviewed an expert on the topic – Linda from Internet Scoping School. She has been scoping for over 35 years and has taught scoping online for around 20 years.

She also has a free course that will introduce you to scoping so that you can decide if it’s one of the entry level work from home jobs you want to pursue. You can find the free course by clicking here.

Scopists who are working with an average court reporter tend to make around $30,000 to $45,000 per year working pretty much full-time.

You can learn more at How To Become A Scopist.

 

16. Assist with podcasts.

Currently, there’s a huge demand for podcast virtual assistants.

There are over 800,000 podcasts out there, and that number just continues to grow. Podcasts are still a pretty new area, and that opens the door for lots of new entry level work from home jobs helping with all of these new podcasts.

While the podcast host can record themselves, other tasks like editing and publication take time, so many podcasters outsource their work to freelancers or virtual assistants. Also, some podcasters may not know how to do those things, or they may choose to focus their time on other areas.

Some of the different services you could do as a podcast virtual assistant include:

  • Audio editing
  • Marketing and promotion
  • Publication
  • Distribution
  • Show note creation

Learn more at How I Make $1,500 A Month As A Podcast Virtual Assistant.

Also, you can sign up here for free information on learning more about how to become a podcast VA. In this free resource, you’ll learn more about what exactly a podcast virtual assistant is, the services you can offer, and starting rates.

 

17. Work as a freelancer.

Freelancers are people who work for others by doing part-time jobs. A business may hire you on for one-time gigs or you may get a long-term job with a company as a freelancer.

In addition to some of the freelance jobs I’ve already mentioned (writing, proofreading, transcribing, and bookkeeping) there are even more entry level work from home jobs out there for people who are able to leverage existing skills, like:

  • Graphic design
  • Web design and development
  • Video editing
  • Sound design
  • Search engine optimization (SEO)
  • Programming
  • Photography

This is one of the best work from home jobs because you can use a skill you already have and start finding work on job platforms like UpWork and Fiverr.

 

18. Find a work from home job in customer service.

Many large companies outsource their customer service departments to people who are working from home. 

Customer service representatives may be responsible for a number of things, such as:

  • Working at an online call center
  • Working as a chat agent
  • Offering technical support
  • Virtual assistant tasks
  • Working as a travel agent

This is becoming one of the best entry level work from home jobs because the number of large companies who need online customer service reps is growing. Companies like Apple, American Express, UHAUL, and more offer basic training for new hires.

 

19. Secret shop.

Funny enough, many people think that you have to “know someone” or have previous experience in order to become a mystery shopper.

But, that’s not the truth at all.

You don’t need any previous experience in order to become a secret shopper.

This won’t be a full-time job, but it can give you some extra money each month. And, yes, there are some mystery shops that can be done by phone and online.

I remember when I first heard of being a secret shopper. I was working at a retail store and we regularly had mystery shoppers come in to grade how we were doing. We never knew who the mystery shopper was, but we would get to read their report afterwards.

I thought it was so interesting that people were getting paid to shop!

Not long after hearing about it, I decided to try mystery shopping to make extra money to help pay off my student loan debt.

I regularly earned around $150 to $200 a month mystery shopping, and I earned free items/services as well, such as $100 to spend at restaurants (which I had to grade while I was there), makeup, and more.

If this sounds interesting to you, you can join Bestmark by clicking here. This is my favorite mystery shopping company, and the only one I used back when I was mystery shopping, so I know it’s legitimate.

Learn more at Want To Make An Extra $100 A Month? Learn How To Become A Mystery Shopper.

 

20. Become a voice over actor.

A voice over actor is the person you hear but rarely see on YouTube videos, radio ads, explainer videos, corporate narration, documentaries, e-learning courses, audiobooks, TV commercials, video games, movies, and cartoons.

This job doesn’t require previous experience or special skills – you just need to have the right kind of voice that companies are looking for.

In 2014, Carrie replaced her salaried day job to become a full-time voice over actor. People are constantly asking her how she got her start and how they can too.

So, she created a six-week online class, and it sold out. Several of her students booked voice acting jobs before the class was even over!

I was excited to learn more about this work from home job, so I interviewed Carrie to learn:

  • How she got into this interesting career field
  • Who the common clients are
  • How much money a beginner voice over actor can expect to make
  • The positives of this job
  • How to find your first job
  • The costs, and more

You can read my interview with her at How To Become A Voice Over Actor And Work From Anywhere.

 

How can I make money from home with no experience?

As you can see, there are many different options for you if you are looking for an online job or work from home business with no experience.

I hope you are able to find what works best for you and your situation.

What entry level work from home jobs would you add to the list above?

The post 20 Of The Best Entry Level Work From Home Jobs appeared first on Making Sense Of Cents.

Source: makingsenseofcents.com