How to Plan for Retirement When You are In Your 30s

The post How to Plan for Retirement When You are In Your 30s appeared first on Penny Pinchin' Mom.

For many of us, our 30s are a dynamic time in life. During these busy years, jobs turn into careers and relationships are solidified by marriage or transformed by children.  Most people are also in their mid-30s when they purchase their first home.  While these are all expensive items, one thing you should not overlook is saving for retirement.

financial moves in your 30s

Retirement seems a long way off when you are 30, but is much closer when you turn 39.  The sooner you start saving and investing for your golden years, the more money you will have when the time comes. And, if you work it right, you may even be able to start your retirement earlier than expected.

Thirty-three percent of people ages 30 to 49 years old don’t have a retirement account. YIKES!! If you’re within this one-third of people, and in your 30s, you need to make retirement savings a priority.

If you aren’t in your 30s, these articles can help with retirement planning:

  • Retirement In Your 20s: What To Do NOW To Get On the Right Savings Path
  • Saving for Retirement in Your 40s
  • In Your 50s? There is Still Time to Save for Retirement
  • Why It’s Not Too Late to Save for Retirement in Your 60s

 

STRATEGIES TO SAVE FOR RETIREMENT IN YOUR 30s

Invest in your 401(k)

If your company offers retirement savings through a 401(k), start by discussing your options with someone in human resources. They can get you set up with a plan that works well with your income and goals.

If you currently contribute to your company’s plan, make sure you are making the maximum contribution that they may match.  For example, if they match 25% of what you contribute, up to 4% of your contributions, that is FREE MONEY!  Make sure your contribution is 4% as they will give you 1% for free – for a total 5% contribution.

As you get a raise, continue to increase your contribution by 1% annually.  You will not miss the money and will be on target for achieving your savings goals.

 

Open an IRA

Another retirement vehicle to consider is an IRA.  An Individual Retirement Account (IRA) is an easy way to add more money to your retirement savings.  You can contribute up to $5,500 (subject to age and income limitations) and the contributions may be tax deductible (see your CPA).

 

Visit with a Financial Planner

Financial Planners are a must when you have investments and are saving for retirement.  They analyze and help ensure you are on the right path to achieving your financial goals.  They don’t usually charge for their services (if you invest with them) and can tailor a plan just for you.

 

Don’t change jobs

Sometimes it is tempting to change jobs because it looks better.  But, keep in mind that you will need to start over with service requirements and contributions to a retirement plan.  The company may also have a plan that is not nearly as robust as the one through your current employer, making you miss out on additional savings.

 

Diversify your investments

As you get older, the level of risk you can, or are willing to take, changes.  You can be much more aggressive in your 20s and early 30s, but as you approach your 40s, you may want to make adjustments.  Ask your investment or financial advisor about changes you should make each year.

 

FINANCIAL GOALS IN YOUR 30s

In addition to saving for retirement, there are goals you may want to achieve and financial rules you should follow once you hit your 30s.

Budget

Make sure you have a written budget you follow every month.  You should account for every penny you make — in essence giving every penny a job.  Don’t forget to include items such as additional retirement and emergency fund savings accounts.

 

Watch your Credit Report and Score

Each year, check your credit report for free at AnnualCreditReport (this is the free site mandated by the government and the only one you should use).  Check for errors such as items that should have been discharged, accounts you did not open and other issues so you can submit them for correction.

You should also know your credit score.  You can use a free site such as Credit Sesame to check your credit score, but keep in mind it is your vantage score (so not your true score – but it is pretty accurate). If you want to know your actual credit score, MyFico.com offers this and access to your credit reports from all agencies for a reasonable fee.

 

Save at least six months of income

Experts have always said you should save three months of your income in case of an emergency.  However, if we learned anything during the last recession, that isn’t quite enough. If you are single, work on saving at least six months of income and if you have a family, aim for nine.    You can increase your savings in many ways, such as eating out less, selling items and even getting a second job.

 

Have a will and health care directives

It is something none of us wants to think about, but it is important to not only have a will, but also health care directives as well.  For around $70 – $90 you can create one at LegalZoom. However, if your situatio is more complex, or you are not comfortable creating one yourself, it is important to reach out to an attorney who specializes in estate planning.

 

Check your life insurance

If you have kids, you need life insurance.  And, it is also wise to purchase policies on them as well.  If something happens to any of you, funeral expenses alone can be a financial burden.  Then, if there are medical expenses you need to pay for on top of burial costs, it can cause a lot of financial strain for your loved ones.

 

 

 

 

Invest Time, Too

A 2014 survey conducted by Charles Schwab, found that only 11 percent of workers spent five hours or more assessing their 401(k) investment options. This is far less time than how long many of us spend researching a new car or a vacation! If the idea of investments and the terminology attached overwhelms, you might consider taking a course.  It might be good to think about hiring someone to help.

A trained professional can ensure you are meeting your retirement goals. When you work with a financial planner, he or she will help you establish an account and assist with diversification – an important element to successful investment. A good financial planner can be invaluable when your accounts, and family, grow.

 

Steady As You Grow

Once children enter the picture, so do a host of excuses about why retirement saving is impossible. While it’s important to provide every avenue of support for your little ones, you must do so responsibly. For instance, starting a state-sponsored 529-college plan for your children is a great way to save for college expenses but it’s important to remember that they can always get a loan for school – you can’t for retirement.

What is your key takeaway for saving if you are in your 30s? Start putting more money away for retirement. While saving 10-15 percent of your income for retirement might be difficult, it will feel so good when you are comfortably retiring in your 60s.

 

saving for retirement in your 30s

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How to Retire in Honduras: Costs, Visas and More

Tela Bay in HondurasHonduras is known for it’s beautiful beaches and low cost of living. The country is home to one of the largest cities in Central America, Tegucigalpa, and plenty of quaint mountain towns and a popular island called Roatan. In recent years, Americans have flocked to this Central American oasis of some 10 million people because their retirement savings can go much farther than in the U.S. A financial advisor can help you plan your retirement abroad and help you stretch your Social Security and other retirement funds while in Honduras.

Cost of Living and Housing in Honduras

According to Numbeo, a cost-of-living database, the cost of living in Honduras is about 41% lower, overall, than in the U.S., not counting housing costs. Rent in Honduras is about 73% lower than in the U.S.

Let’s look at a specific example. One of the most popular places to retire in Honduras is Roatan. Rent on a one-bedroom apartment in Roatan’s center will cost an average of $250 per month, and a three-bedroom apartment in the same area will cost about $967 per month. In contrast, an apartment in New York City will run about $3,452 for a one-bedroom and about $6,767 for a one-bedroom in downtown Manhattan.

If you want to purchase property in Honduras, the average price per square foot is about $93.79. In the U.S., the average cost per square foot to purchase a home or apartment is $292.35.

Retire in Honduras – Visas

Americans do not need visas to visit Honduras as tourists. However, if you want to retire in Honduras, you will need to get a retirement residency card, of which there are three types. The Secretary of Justice processes these in Tegucigalpa. You will need to work with a Honduran attorney to get your residency card.

It takes up to nine months to process an application for a retirement residency card, but Americans may enter Honduras on a tourist visa and begin their application process in country. Be prepared to spend about $2,500 to complete this process.

Be sure to bring your passport, police record, a health certificate, a passport photo and any residence-related documents with you when you enter Honduras as your residency application will require them. You must also be able to prove that you have at least $1,500 of lifetime monthly income if you are applying for the retirement visa.

Retire in Honduras – Healthcare

Honduras does not have a robust public health system. The World Health Organization ranks it 131st out of 191 countries. Therefore, many retirees choose to get private healthcare insurance and live near private hospitals. People can purchase healthcare insurance in Honduras or before leaving home. There are several 24-hour hospitals in Tegucigalpa and San Pedro Sula, all popular with American expats.

Most pharmacies will offer the same prescriptions as in the U.S., especially in a tourism hotspots. It is important to note that rural healthcare is scarce in Honduras.

Retire in Honduras – Taxes

If you earn an income in Honduras, it will be taxed between 10% and 20%. If you purchase a home in Honduras and then sell it, your real estate capital gains will be taxed at 10%. Additionally, your property will be taxed each year at about 0.4% of the total property value.

Money received from the U.S., like a pension, tax-advantaged account or Social Security retirement benefits, will not be taxed as income by Honduras.

Don’t forget that as an American citizen the U.S. government will tax you on foreign-earned income.

Retire in Honduras – Safety

According to the U.S. Department of State, violent crime, such as homicide and armed robbery, is common in Honduras. Additionally, gang activity, street crime and narcotics and human trafficking are pretty widespread. In large cities such as Tegucigalpa, violent crime exists and riots or protests are expected. However, there are plenty of gated communities and large pockets of expats living in Honduras that employ security staff to maintain a safe living environment.

The Takeaway

American retirees walking along a Honduran beachHonduras is a beautiful tropical location to visit or live in. It is home to mountains, beaches and more, so there is a bit of something for everyone living in Honduras. It is important to remember personal safety in Honduras and not take unnecessary risks when traveling throughout the country, mainly because private hospitals are only available in cities and tourist hotspots.

Tips on Retiring

  • Consider talking with a financial advisor before moving abroad. Finding a financial advisor doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free advisor matching tool can connect you to several financial advisors in your area. You can find the perfect financial advisor for you in as little as five minutes. If you’re ready, get started now.
  • Retiring comfortably in Honduras is entirely possible, even on Social Security retirement benefits. For some people, Social Security is even enough to provide disposable income for recreational purposes. Calculate your Social Security retirement benefit here.

Photo credit: ©iStock.com/Robert_Ford, ©iStock.com/Jodi Jacobson, ©iStock.com/dstephens

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Source: smartasset.com

Rent Increase Laws: What Landlords Can (and Cannot) Do

rent increaseseccolo74/iStock

Rent increases are never, ever fun. Every year, I hold my breath when it’s time to renew my lease, in the hopes that the hike is still within my housing budget. Sure, it may be easier than ever to find homes for rent online, but I love where I live, and would like to stay there as long as I can.

Fortunately, my landlords have always played fair. But let’s be frank—some don’t. And when that happens, it leaves many tenants wondering: What are the rules on raising rent, anyway?

Read on for answers to the questions that keep renters up at night.

How often can landlords raise rent?

Landlords can’t just raise your rent whenever they feel like it; they have to wait until whatever contract you’ve signed with them expires, says Robert Pellegrini, president of PK Boston, a real estate and collections law firm with offices in the Greater Boston area. That means that if you have a lease, they can’t raise it until the lease term expires.

For example, if you’ve signed a one-year contract, it’ll be a year before rent can go up, or two years if you’ve signed a two-year lease (which is why signing a lease for two years or longer is wise, to keep the rent down).

Meanwhile, if you’re renting month-to-month, your rent can’t increase until the end of any given month. Simple rules. But real rules.

How much notice should renters receive of rent increases?

In most states, renters must be granted at least 30 days’ notice before a rent increase is enforced, although that can vary based on how much the rent will actually go up. In California, for instance, that advance notice expands to 60 days if the increase is more than 10% of the rent.

These rules are also typically true for a “tenant at will” (i.e., you do not have a lease) and, more surprisingly, a tenant in a rooming house, where you are likely to pay rent weekly.

“In this case, one would assume that seven days’ notice would suffice. Not the case!” says Pellegrini. “Tenants in rooming houses still require 30 days’ notice for a rent increase.”

No matter how strange your leasing terms may seem, or how unorthodox your housing situation, you may be surprised when it comes to your rights concerning rent increases.

How much can landlords legally increase what renters pay?

As unfortunate as it may be, rent increases are common, and many tenants expect some kind of increase every time their lease comes up. Still, some renters might find it hard to believe just how much the price of their housing goes up every year.

“When it comes to how much a landlord can raise rent, anything flies,” says Pellegrini. “There are no rules, and it’s totally at their discretion.” Except, of course, if you’re living in a rent-stabilized or rent-controlled apartment, in which case there are strict government provisions in place governing how much rent can be raised (or if it can be increased at all).

Finding one of these rent-controlled apartments is something like locating the holy grail. So, if you don’t know if you have a rent-controlled apartment, the chances are you do not.

If that’s the case, you, your lease, and your wallet are mostly at the mercy of your landlord and the rental market in your area. However, there are some exceptions to what your landlord can do, for example: raise the rent to punish a renter.

“If it looked to a judge like the landlord was raising rent punitively—say, for example, to get ‘payback’ for the tenant contacting the Board of Health for a health code violation—then this is not OK, and the landlord could be found guilty and made to pay as much as triple damages and court costs,” says Pellegrini.

In this case, it’s not about your rental agreement, the length of your lease, or even a housing market increase in your area. It’s about what is legal and illegal. If you think you may be a victim of a punitive rent increase, contact a lawyer.

Can a landlord raise rent retroactively?

The short answer is no. In most cases, if a landlord has slapped a tenant with a retroactive rent increase, he was negligent in letting the tenant know about the increase at the appropriate time. The renter can’t be held responsible for a rent increase he or she genuinely didn’t know about.

“Often, a landlord provides notice of the increased rent retroactively together, to try to bully renters out, knowing that the tenant might be overwhelmed due to the ‘back rent’ and would be more likely to vacate,” says Pellegrini.

If this is the case for you, be aware that a tenant can file suit against a landlord, or simply counterclaim if an eviction has already been initiated by the landlord.

What should renters do if they think their landlord illegally raised the rent?

So, now that you know a bit more about rent increases: What if you’re realizing that your rent may have been increased illegally?

Maybe your rent was increased illegally on a rent-controlled apartment. Or, perhaps you’re looking through your rental agreement and realizing that you weren’t due for an increase.

There are things you can do to protect yourself from an illegal rent increase.

“A tenant should keep track of every correspondence they receive,” says Pellegrini. “They should also take notes when communication is verbal, and keep track of the dates of each communication.” This is especially important when trying to prove harassment (to pay rent or otherwise).

But don’t assume that your landlord is automatically the bad guy.

“In my opinion, the vast majority of landlords do the right thing, and, out of the slim percentage that do not, they aren’t even aware that they did something incorrectly,” says Pellegrini.

“So, in all but a few cases, I’d highly recommend that the tenant communicate with the landlord first if something doesn’t seem right. If the tenant ends up in court, or starts things off in a threatening way, they should remember that the landlord owns the property. And, if the landlord finds the tenant to be difficult to work with, the landlord is entitled to allow the tenancy to expire and find a new tenant.”

So, you should yourself (and your money) from an unfair increase, but don’t go so far as to threaten your landlord and put your housing situation at risk. Remember that your landlord could have made an honest mistake.

It’s also possible that you could have miscalculated an increase along the way. If you come on too strong to correct the situation, you could potentially end up facing eviction.

—————

Watch: Is It Smarter to Rent or Buy?

The post Rent Increase Laws: What Landlords Can (and Cannot) Do appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

Source: realtor.com

Refinancing Your USDA Loan Just Got Easier

Refinancing Your USDA Loan Just Got Easier

If you live in a rural area, getting a mortgage through the U.S. Department of Agriculture could be a good way to save money on your home purchase. Qualifying buyers can get a USDA loan without having to put any money down. The Department of Agriculture is making these loans even more affordable for existing borrowers by lowering the cost of refinancing. If you bought your home through the USDA program, here’s what you need to know about its streamline refinance program.

Check out our refinance calculator.

Who Qualifies?

As of June 2, 2016, any homeowner with a direct USDA loan or a USDA loan guarantee could be eligible to take advantage of the USDA’s Streamline Refinance Program. Since 2012, the USDA has been testing out new refinancing rules on borrowers in certain states.

All USDA loans are subject to underwriting guidelines. But homeowners who have made at least 12 consecutive, on-time payments over the past year don’t have to undergo a credit check, secure an appraisal or be subject to a debt-to-income calculation (when refinancing for a 30-year term).

According to the Department of Agriculture’s estimates, the typical homeowner should expect to save approximately $150 a month once they refinance through the streamline program. Over the course of a year, that can add up to $1,800 in savings.

Related Article: What Is a Streamline Refinance?

Should You Refinance Your Mortgage?

Refinancing Your USDA Loan Just Got Easier

Just from looking at the numbers, you can see that homeowners can save money by refinancing. In the pilot program, some homeowners who refinanced were saving as much as $600 a month. That kind of reduction in your monthly mortgage payment could have a huge impact on your monthly budget.

But refinancing doesn’t make sense for everyone. If you’ve already paid down a substantial amount of interest on your home, refinancing may not affect your monthly payment that much. And keep in mind that not everyone can qualify for a refinance. You may run into issues if you’ve missed a payment in the past year, for example.

Try out our mortgage calculator.

Also, it’s important to remember that refinancing an existing loan into a new USDA loan doesn’t eliminate the private mortgage insurance premiums you’ll have to pay. USDA loans come with an upfront fee and a monthly premium, both of which are rolled into the loan. They’re added on to your monthly payment, so it’s a good idea to run the numbers to see how refinancing your loan might affect your payments.

The Bottom Line

Refinancing Your USDA Loan Just Got Easier

The USDA’s new refinance guidelines are designed to benefit lower- and middle-income homebuyers with high interest rates. While these changes might offer some homeowners the chance to save money, it’s best to consider the financial implications of refinancing before pulling the trigger.

Photo credit: Â©iStock.com/gradyreese, ©iStock.com/DragonImages, ©iStock.com/Izabela Habur

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Remote-Work Boom During Covid-19 Pandemic Draws Real-Estate Startups

Park in San Francisco social distancingDavid Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A group of real-estate startups is aiming to cash in on the remote-work phenomenon.

With many corporate offices closed because of the pandemic, many young professionals have left cities like New York and San Francisco for warmer, cheaper places. A number still plan to return after their offices reopen, leaving them reluctant to buy homes or sign long-term apartment leases.

That situation is creating fresh demand for furnished housing on a short-term basis, a fast-growing niche that many property startups and their venture-capital backers are rushing to fill.

One of them is Landing, which runs a network of furnished apartments across the U.S. When it launched in 2019, the Birmingham, Ala., and San Francisco-based company initially planned to operate in about 30 cities last year. Instead, it expanded to 75, largely because demand grew much faster than expected, said Landing Chief Executive Bill Smith.

“Covid has taken a decade of change that I was thinking was going to happen between now and 2030 and kind of compressed it into a year,” he said.

Legions of remote workers also offer these firms a chance to make up for reduced tourist and corporate business. San Francisco-based Sonder, which rents out furnished apartments by the night, ramped up its marketing of extended stays during the pandemic, according to Chief Executive Francis Davidson. Stays of longer than 14 days now account for about 60% of the company’s business, up from less than a quarter before the pandemic, he said.

Kulveer Taggar, CEO of corporate-housing operator Zeus Living, said his firm experienced a steep drop in demand as companies hit the pause button on employee travel and relocations. But he was able to make up some ground by renting apartments to individuals. People working from home now account for about a quarter of the company’s business, Mr. Taggar said, up from virtually nothing before the pandemic.

Unlike Sonder and Zeus, remote workers were a key part of Landing’s business before the pandemic. Its customers pay an annual membership fee, which gives them the right to rent furnished apartments in any city. The minimum length of stay varies from 30 to 60 days, and the company asks for a month’s notice before a customer moves out.

The company is popular with college-educated young professionals who don’t want to be tied to a single location. Since the start of the pandemic, it has seen a growing number of customers leave New York and San Francisco and move to cities like St. Petersburg, Fla., and Denver, Mr. Smith said.

In November, Landing raised $45 million in venture funding from a group of investors led by Foundry Group and including Greycroft and Maveron, along with $55 million in debt. Mr. Smith said he hopes to expand to 25,000 apartments by the end of this year, up from around 10,000 today.

That growth carries risk if demand from remote workers were to disappear again after the pandemic is over. Still, Chris Moody, a partner at Foundry Group, said the number of furnished apartments available under flexible terms is still so small that he doesn’t worry about a lack of customers.

“Even at the end of 2021, we won’t really have scratched the surface,” he said.

The post Remote-Work Boom During Covid-19 Pandemic Draws Real-Estate Startups appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

Source: realtor.com

Fannie, Freddie Overseer Looks to End Federal Control Before Trump Leaves

Mark Calabria, who heads the Federal Housing Finance Agency, testified before a Senate committee in June.Astrid Riecken/The Washington Post/Bloomberg via Getty Images

WASHINGTON—The federal regulator who oversees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac is pushing to speed up the mortgage giants’ exit from 12 years of government control but has yet to reach an agreement he needs with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, according to people familiar with the matter.

Mark Calabria, a libertarian economist who heads the Federal Housing Finance Agency, has made it a priority to return Fannie and Freddie to private hands, a goal shared by Mr. Mnuchin. How that is done could affect the cost and availability of mortgages backed by the companies, which guarantee roughly half of the $11 trillion in existing home loans.

Completing the complex process before President Trump’s term ends on Jan. 20 is a long shot, and President-elect Joe Biden is considered unlikely to continue the effort. But Messrs. Calabria and Mnuchin could succeed in taking steps that would be difficult to reverse, such as significantly restructuring the government’s stakes in the firms.

The Treasury secretary must agree to any move to alter the terms of either the companies’ bailout agreement or the government’s stakes. One person familiar with the effort said Mr. Mnuchin is supportive of locking in a path to private ownership but mindful of steps that could disrupt the housing-finance market.

Mr. Calabria has met twice recently with Mr. Mnuchin to discuss an expedited exit of the companies from government control, most recently the week of Nov. 9, according to people familiar with the meetings, which also involved Larry Kudlow, the director of the White House’s National Economic Council. Mr. Mnuchin was noncommittal about the push, the people said.

Fannie and Freddie don’t make home loans. Instead, they buy mortgages and package them into securities, which they then sell to investors. Their promise to make investors whole in case of default keeps down the price of home loans and underpins the popular 30-year fixed-rate mortgage.

The government seized control of Fannie and Freddie to prevent their collapse during the 2008 financial crisis through a process known as conservatorship, eventually injecting $190 billion into the companies. In exchange, the Treasury received a new class of so-called senior preferred shares that originally paid a 10% dividend. It also received warrants to acquire about 80% of the firms’ common shares.

One option under discussion would entail a complex capital restructuring that would eventually reduce the government’s stakes in the firms. Such a move would be aimed at opening the door to new, private investment.

Still, it is a delicate issue because U.S. officials don’t want to cause investors to doubt the government’s backing of the firms, which have helped pin mortgage rates at record low levels during this year’s pandemic-induced economic slump. Moreover, it is politically sensitive because depending on the design, it could effectively move Wall Street investors ahead of taxpayers in line to receive any future profits.

As part of that set of decisions, Mr. Mnuchin would have to determine whether to write down the government’s more than $220 billion of senior preferred shares in the firms. Because those shares give the Treasury first claim on profits, private investors will have little incentive to take new stakes in Fannie and Freddie as long as they exist in their current form.

Such a move would likely push up the value of shares that investors acquired at fire-sale prices after the 2008 crisis. Some lawmakers are worried taxpayers would be short-changed.

In a letter to Messrs. Calabria and Mnuchin last month, Sens. Mark Warner (D., Va.) and Mike Rounds (R., S.D.) said taxpayers must be paid a fair market value for whatever stake they give up.

“Any other means of reducing their investment would be tantamount to a transfer of wealth from the taxpayers who stepped in to save [Fannie and Freddie] to private investors looking for a windfall,” they wrote.

It is unclear how seriously officials are considering another legal move that Mr. Calabria has raised in the past: an order formally ending the conservatorships but requiring the companies to operate with significant limitations on their businesses until they raise enough capital to operate independently through retained earnings and possible future stock sales. Supporters say the move would be akin to downgrading a sick patient from the emergency room to a regular hospital room.

One person familiar with the matter said the policymakers aren’t considering such an order, fearful it could upend markets.

Any single step, such as restructuring the government’s stakes in the firms, would normally require dozens of employees across the White House, Treasury and other agencies many months to complete, according to current and former government officials.

Industry officials warn that an abrupt overhaul to the company’s legal status could spook risk-averse investors in mortgage-backed securities issued by Fannie and Freddie, which are seen as nearly as safe as Treasurys.

“An end to conservatorship would be a material change from what we’ve had, and it will take time to explain to investors what risks do and do not exist,” said Michael Bright, CEO of the Structured Finance Association, whose members include investors in Fannie and Freddie securities.

In a sign that Mr. Calabria is eager to complete unfinished work quickly, the FHFA on Wednesday completed a rule requiring the companies to hold as much as $280 billion in capital once they exit conservatorship, up from $35 billion currently.

The post Fannie, Freddie Overseer Looks to End Federal Control Before Trump Leaves appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

Source: realtor.com

Top 5 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Co-Sign a Friend’s Loan

Top 5 Reasons Why You Shouldn't Co-Sign a Friend's Loan

Co-signing your friend’s loan might seem like a nice thing to do. But it can put many things in your life at risk, including your finances, your credit score and even your friendship. While it’s possible to co-sign a friend’s loan and never face any negative consequences, it might not be worth it. Check out five reasons why you shouldn’t co-sign a friend’s loan.

1. You’ll Be Responsible for the Loan

No matter how trustworthy or wonderful your friend may be, he might end up defaulting on the loan he took out. Anything could happen. Your friend could lose his job or find out that a relative needs help paying for medical treatment.

If your friend can’t pay back the money he borrowed, you would have to pay for the loan if you co-signed it.

2. Your Credit Could Take a Hit

Top 5 Reasons Why You Shouldn't Co-Sign a Friend's Loan

If you co-sign a friend’s loan and he misses a single loan payment deadline, your credit score could drop. If that happens, it might be harder for you to buy a house or get a low interest rate on a loan in the future.

If your friend fails to pay back whatever he owes, the lender might sue you first. In the lender’s eyes, you are far more likely to pay back the loan since your credit score is probably higher.

3. Your Property May Be at Risk

Sometimes a co-signer will secure a loan with his or her own property. If you (the co-signer) put up your car or house as collateral and your friend doesn’t pay back the loan, you could potentially lose your property.

4. You Could Destroy Your Friendship

If you’re forced to cover the cost of the loan you co-signed, you could end up resenting your friend. After all, it can be difficult to remain friends with someone who put you in a complicated financial situation.

5. It Could Be Harder to Get a Loan Later On

Top 5 Reasons Why You Shouldn't Co-Sign a Friend's Loan

Co-signing your friend’s loan could make qualifying for another loan more difficult. For example, if you co-sign your friend’s car loan and then you try to take out a personal loan, a lender might reject your application. Co-signing your friend’s loan will affect your debt-to-income ratio (the amount of debt you’re paying off compared to your monthly gross income). A lender might not want to lend money to someone who already has a lot of debt to pay off.

Photo credit: Â©iStock.com/BernardaSv, Â©iStock.com/alexskopje, ©iStock.com/dolgachov

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5 Things to Consider Before Getting a Personal Loan

5 Things to Consider Before Getting a Personal Loan

It’s a new year and if one of your resolutions is to get out of debt, you might be thinking about consolidating your bills into a personal loan. With this kind of loan, you can streamline your payments and potentially get rid of your debt more quickly. If you plan on getting a personal loan in 2016, here are some key things to keep in mind before you start searching for a lender.

Check out our personal loan calculator.

1. Interest Rates Are Going Up

At the end of 2015, the Federal Reserve initiated a much anticipated hike in the federal funds rate. What this means for borrowers is that taking on debt is going to be more expensive going forward. That means that the personal loan rates you’re seeing now could be a lot higher six or nine months from now. If you’re planning on borrowing, it might be a good idea to scope out loan offers sooner rather than later.

2. Online Lenders Likely Have the Best Deals

5 Things to Consider Before Getting a Personal Loan

The online lending marketplace has exploded in recent years. With an online lender, there are fewer overhead costs involved, which translates to fewer fees and lower rates for borrowers.

With a lower interest rate, more money will stay in your pocket in the long run. Lending Club, for example, claims that their customers have interest rates that are 33% lower, on average, after consolidating their debt or paying off credit cards using a personal loan.

Related Article: How to Get a Personal Loan

3. Your Credit Matters

Regardless of whether you go through a brick-and-mortar bank or an online lender, you  likely won’t have access to the best rates if you don’t have a great credit score. In the worst case scenario, you could be denied a personal loan altogether.

You can check your credit score for free. And each year, you have a chance to get a free credit report from Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. If you haven’t pulled yours in a while, now might be a good time to take a look.

As you review your report, it’s important to make sure that all of your account information is being reported properly. If you see a paid account that’s still showing a balance, for example, or a collection account you don’t recognize, you’ll need to dispute those items with the credit bureau that’s reporting the information.

4. Personal Loan Scams Are Common

5 Things to Consider Before Getting a Personal Loan

As more and more lenders enter the personal loan arena, the opportunity for scammers to cash in on unsuspecting victims also increases. If you’re applying for a loan online, it’s best to be careful about who you give your personal information to.

Some of the signs that may indicate that a personal loan agreement is actually a scam include lenders who use overly pushy sales tactics to get you to commit or ask you to put up a deposit as a guarantee against the loan. If you come across a lender who doesn’t seem concerned about checking your credit or tells you they can give you a loan without doing any paperwork, those are big red flags that the lender may not be legit.

Related Article: How to Avoid Personal Loan Scams

5. Not Reading the Fine Print Could Cost You

Before you sign off on a personal loan, it’s best to take time to read over the details of the loan agreement. Something as simple as paying one date late could trigger a fee or cause a higher penalty rate to kick in, which would make the loan more expensive in the long run.

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Top 5 Tips for Keeping Senior Care Costs Low

Top 5 Tips for Keeping Senior Care Costs Low

Caring for an aging parent or friend can be expensive. But when you know that someone needs assistance, it’s hard to avoid offering to help. While there’s nothing wrong with providing a relative or confidant with financial support, you don’t want to lose sight of your own financial goals. Here are five strategies that you can implement to keep senior care costs low.

Find out now: How much life insurance do I need?

1. Invest in Long-Term Care Insurance

As an extension of health, disability and life insurance, long-term care insurance provides coverage for nursing home care, home health care and other services that meet the daily needs of elderly individuals. While long-term care insurance isn’t cheap, purchasing it may be worth it if your older family member or friend can’t qualify for Medicare and doesn’t have enough savings.

It’s best (and more affordable) to sign up for long-term care insurance before chronic or debilitating conditions surface. Just be sure to read the fine print and compare benefit options before picking a policy for you or your loved one.

2. Make Your House Home-Care Ready

Top 5 Tips for Keeping Senior Care Costs Low

Installing a walk-in shower or stair lift when you’re healthy may seem crazy. But making your home more accessible may pay off, especially if it eliminates the need for you to move to a special facility when you grow older.

Some states and nonprofits offer loans and grants to help low-income elderly individuals make modifications to their homes. So that’s something to consider if you need help covering the cost of your renovations.

Related Article: Do Wealthy Investors Need Long-Term Care Insurance?

3. Look Into Government Programs

The federal government offers some programs that make senior expenses less expensive. For example, your loved ones can apply for traditional Medicare. If they need help covering additional costs, they can consider enrolling in a Medicare Advantage or Medigap plan.

Depending on your loved one’s situation, they may be eligible for Medicaid. They’ll have to meet certain financial qualifications. But if they qualify, Medicaid coverage can lower the cost of their healthcare.

4. Compare Care Options

Top 5 Tips for Keeping Senior Care Costs Low

If you need a professional to help care for your elderly relative, you may need to look beyond nursing homes and assisted living facilities. It’s a good idea to take the time to visit different adult care facilities and meet with independent caregivers, home care agencies and home health aides. That way, you can compare a range of costs and services.

Even if you have elderly family members who can live alone, they may need companionship. If you have a busy schedule, you may be able to find a virtual caregiver online who can support your older loved one.

Related Article: 4 Financial Emergencies That Could Derail Your Retirement

5. Claim as Many Tax Breaks as Possible

If you choose to take care of an aging parent or relative on your own, you’ll need to make sure you’re financially prepared to assume that responsibility. Fortunately, there are tax breaks for individuals who serve as caregivers. For example, you may qualify for the Child and Dependent Care Credit.

Final Word

Caring for an older family member can place a big strain on your budget. That’s why it’s important to make the most of any resources and programs that can lower the cost of senior care.

If you’re concerned about your ability to cover your own healthcare costs in the future, you’ll need to make saving for retirement a priority. And it doesn’t hurt to make an effort to stay healthy to reduce your chances of contracting a serious illness or disease.

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