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Archive for February, 2013

Safety Tips

February 20, 2013 Leave a comment

Safety TipsWe all want to feel safe in our own homes. Accidents, especially tragic ones, aren’t something we want to think about. But when it comes to accidents, the old adage, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” is doubly true! I thought I would share with you some precautions against some of the most common household accidents.

If you know of anyone who is thinking of selling or buying a house, let them know I would love to serve them.

1. Never leave standing liquids unattended. Stay within arm’s reach while your child is bathing or is near any container of water. If the phone rings, let it ring; stay with your child.

2. Prevent tap water scalds by adjusting the temperature on your hot water heater to 120° F.

3. Keep medicines and hazardous household chemicals locked up and out of sight. Use child-resistant packaging for medicines and hazardous household chemicals, and call 1-800-222-1222 if a poisoning occurs.

4. Cut the loops on window-blind cords and call 1-800-506-4636 for a free repair kit.

5. Make sure your hairdryer has a large rectangular plug. The immersion protection device prevents electrocution if the hairdryer is dropped in water.

6. Change the battery in your smoke alarm when you change your clock’s setting in October or November.

7. Have a professional check your furnace for carbon monoxide leaks and your chimney for blockages; put a CO alarm in the hallway near every separate sleeping area.

8. Prevent electrocutions by installing a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) in your household outlets.

9. Installing Arc Fault Circuit Interrupters (AFCIs) can prevent electrical fires. AFCIs can sense electrical arc and trip the circuit.

10. Babies on adult beds risk suffocation from hidden hazards such as entrapment between the bed and wall; entrapment involving the bed frame, headboard, and footboard; or soft bedding such as pillows or thick quilts and comforters.

Categories: Finance

How Big of a Mortgage Can I Afford?

February 15, 2013 Leave a comment

QuestionNot only does owning a home give you a haven for yourself and your family, it also makes great financial sense because of the tax benefits — which you can’t take advantage of when paying rent.

The following calculation assumes a 28 percent income tax bracket. If your bracket is higher, your savings will be, too. Based on your current rent, use this calculation to figure out how much mortgage you can afford.

Rent: _________________________

Multiplier: x 1.32

Mortgage payment: _________________________

Because of tax deductions, you can make a mortgage payment — including taxes and insurance — that is approximately one-third larger than your current rent payment and end up with the same amount of income.

Categories: Finance

8 Steps to Getting Your Finances in Order

February 14, 2013 Leave a comment

Develop a family budget. Instead of budgeting what you’d like to spend, use receipts to create a budget for what you actually spent over the last six months. One advantage of this approach is that it factors in unexpected expenses, such as car repairs, illnesses, etc., as well as predictable costs such as rent. 

Reduce your debt. Generally speaking, lenders look for a total debt load of no more than 36 percent of income. Since this figure includes your mortgage, which typically ranges between 25 percent and 28 percent of income, you need to get the rest of installment debt—car loans, student loans, revolving balances on credit cards—down to between 8 percent and 10 percent of your total income.

 Get a handle on expenses. You probably know how much you spend on rent and utilities, but little expenses add up. Try writing down everything you spend for one month. You’ll probably see some great ways to save.

 Increase your income. It may be necessary to take on a second, part-time job to get your income at a high-enough level to qualify for the home you want.

 Save for a downpayment. Although it’s possible to get a mortgage with only 5 percent down—or even less in some cases—you can usually get a better rate and a lower overall cost if you put down more. Shoot for saving a 20 percent down payment.

 Create a house fund. Don’t just plan on saving whatever’s left toward a down payment. Instead decide on a certain amount a month you want to save, then put it away as you pay your monthly bills.

 Keep your job. While you don’t need to be in the same job forever to qualify, having a job for less than two years may mean you have to pay a higher interest rate.

 Establish a good credit history. Get a credit card and make payments by the due date. Do the same for all your other bills. Pay off the entire balance promptly.

Seven ways to build up your credit score to be eligible for the best interest rates.

February 13, 2013 2 comments

Credit score requirements for loans are higher than they have been in the past, so a good credit score is more crucial than ever. In today’s economy most lenders are looking for credit scores of 720 or higher to secure a low mortgage rate. Here are seven ways to build up your credit score so you can enjoy the best interest rates available.

Request your credit reports and assess the situation. Credit bureaus (www.experian.com, http://www.transunion.com, http://www.equifax.com) are required to provide you with a free credit report every year. Nationwide consumer reporting companies get their information from different sources, the data in your report from one company may not reflect the same data in your reports from the other two companies, so request all three.

Check to verify all of the information is correct. If there are any errors, contact the bureaus immediately.

Your payment history accounts for 35% of your score, so make sure payments are on time every month.

The amount owed is 30% of your score. A good rule is to use less than 10% of your credit available on each individual card.

The length of your credit history accounts for 15%, so maintain your accounts instead of closing them. You are not penalized for available credit.

New credit is 10% of your score and every time you apply for credit an inquiry is added to your report, which drops your score.

Types of credit used accounts for 10%. Installment loans like vehicle and personal loans demonstrate you can manage various long and short-term credits.

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