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Moving to “Level Up” Your Real Estate and Finances

In real estate, there is a concept known as a “starter home.” A starter home is a lower cost home that works great for current needs, but may not be a perfect fit for the long-run. While moving is expensive and can be quite a hassle, it can help you level up your real estate and personal finances at the same time. Needs Change Over Time When you move into your first home, you may not have kids, you may not have a dog and you may not have a significant other. But fast forward a few years and life could look a lot different. That is one of the most common reasons people decide to move. Few people can move right into their lifelong dream home right after college or even in their 20s. Due to closing costs, many experts suggest not buying a home unless you plan to…

Thinking About Your Monthly Cash Flow Like a Business

If you were a business, would you be a profitable one? At the end of each month, do you earn more than you spend? Is your enterprise profitable? While individuals like us go to work and earn an income each month, few of us look at our finances like a business. However, just like a business, we need to earn more than we spend each month and regularly assess our finances to know we are on the right track. Follow these steps to start treating your finances like a business and establish a path to financial success. The Business of You Before getting into the tactical aspects of managing your money like a business, the first step is to get into the mindset of running your finances like a business. This means a mental shift in how you think about and interact with your money. Businesses use accounting software to…

Hanukkah: How to Get the Gelt!

Hanukkah is just days away and that means it’s time to play the Dreidel game. If you don’t know what that is, read on. If you do know, but have forgotten how we’ve got a sweet cheat sheet to get you back in the game! But first, a little background… The 8-day Jewish holiday of Hanukkah is often called the Festival of Lights because the main activity is the nightly ritual lighting of a Menorah— the Hebrew word for candelabra. Each afternoon during Hanukkah, the whole family comes together and at sundown, the Menorah is lit and the prayers are said. Family and friends sing holiday songs and sometimes exchange gifts. Delicious food is served, including the traditional jelly donuts and latkes— potato pancakes served with applesauce, sour cream and sometimes dill pickles. And then what? Give in to the food-stupid and kick back on the couch? Help Bubbe with…

5 Reasons Why Renters Insurance Is Worth the Money

Ask most homeowners if they have homeowners insurance, and the majority will say they do – after all, mortgage lenders require them to have it. But ask your average renter if he or she has renters insurance, and chances are you’ll get a very different answer. According to a 2015 poll conducted by the Insurance Information Institute, only 40 percent of people who rent their homes have renters insurance policies – as opposed to the 95 percent of homeowners who have homeowners coverage. Though some landlords require proof of renters insurance upon signing a lease, it’s easy to dismiss it as an unnecessary expense when you don’t own the place you’re renting. But while you may not be liable for the roof over your head, you’re still liable for everything you own inside your rental – from your clothes to your computer to your pets. Here are five reasons why protecting…

Summer Vacation in the Southern Hemisphere

Summer is in full swing, which means kids in the US don’t have to go back to school again until September. But did you know that schoolchildren in the Southern Hemisphere won’t have their summer vacation until December? In most countries, schools close for an extended break during the hottest months of the year. In the US and other countries located in the Northern Hemisphere, those months are June, July and August. Depending on where you are in the Southern Hemisphere, however, those months tend to be December, January and February. So in countries like Australia and Brazil, students have their summer vacation from mid-December to late January. While summer vacations were originally instituted in the US at the turn of the 20th Century to save money, avoid student burnout and protect children from poorly ventilated classrooms during heatwaves, other countries close their schools for a variety of reasons. In…

The 5 Least and Most Affordable Cities in the U.S.

This is the time of year when thousands of college graduates across the country are figuring out not only what they want to do with their lives, but also where they want to do it. For those who don’t have a job or an internship lined up already, deciding on a location (other than their parents’ basement) can be a tall order. While a host of factors can influence how good or bad a city is for someone who’s just starting out in the world, affordability is obviously paramount. By combining affordability indexes from Moneycrashers.com and the US Census Bureau’s 2014 American Community Survey, which include factors such as median listing prices for homes in the area, commuting costs and household income, we’ve compiled a list of the five least and most affordable cities in the US. If you’re a Millennial entering the real world for the first time, this…

Housing Season and the Perfect Home Team

Housing season has officially begun. As anyone in the real estate business will tell you, spring is when most people buy, sell and renovate their homes. Whether you’re in the market, on the market or getting ready to remodel your kitchen, you need a home team you can trust. These tips from SelectQuote Auto & Home will help you pick the right realtor, contractor and mortgage broker for your needs – and save you money in the process. How to Choose a Realtor The purchase or sale of a home is one of the most significant financial decisions you can make. That’s why it is so important to pick a realtor who’s right for you, as opposed to just going with a friend who happens to be in real estate. Here are three criteria to help you find the right realtor for your needs. Use an Actual Realtor. The terms agent, broker…

4 Solar Incentives for Homeowners

Now more than ever, electricity is at the center of human activity – from heat and light to security, social life and entertainment. But nothing is free in this world. From our monthly power bill to the effects of our energy dependency on global politics and the environment, we are increasingly aware of the cost of our high-powered lifestyle. But how can we be part of the solution while saving our money and our planet at the same time? Questions like this are driving more people to consider solar power for their homes.  Here are four solar incentives for homeowners: There are a few different ways to harness the sun’s energy for electricity. Chances are you’re most familiar with photovoltaic solar panels, which convert sunlight into energy at the atomic level. The average American home consumes around 11,000-kilowatt hours (kWh) annually. By installing a solar array of 25-30 panels, you can…

8 Auto and Home Tax Write-Offs You Never Knew About

According to the latest report on tax deductions released by the IRS, taxpayers who took the standard deduction in 2009 claimed a total of $747 billion. Meanwhile, those who took the time to itemize their deductions claimed more than $1 trillion. The lesson is clear: Itemizing your tax write-offs can pay off in a major way. While most of us are aware of well-publicized deductions like business expenses and charitable gifts, your car and home can provide you with more tax write-offs than you may realize. Here are eight auto and home expenses you probably didn’t know you could write off, courtesy of SelectQuote Auto & Home. Auto Car Accidents. If you’re in a car accident that isn’t your fault, and the other driver’s insurance doesn’t fully reimburse you for the damage to (or loss of) your car, you’re entitled to a deduction for that unreimbursed amount as a casualty…

Mortgage Insurance Versus Term Life Insurance

To anyone in the process of buying a home for their family, the concept of mortgage insurance makes a lot of sense: If something happens to you, your family will have enough coverage to pay off the mortgage. However, it may make more sense to purchase a term life insurance policy instead. In order to compare term life insurance and mortgage insurance, we must first define the two main types of mortgage insurance. The first type is called private mortgage insurance (PMI). If you buy a home with less than 20 percent down, you are usually required by law to have this coverage. PMI protects the lender, not you. Let’s say you default on your home loan. Your PMI will reimburse the lender if he or she is unable to re-sell your home for the amount of your mortgage. Because PMI is expensive, most people cancel it once they’ve paid…