Saving for a Down Payment: Save More and Save Faster!

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Whether you’re planning to buy a house in a few months or not for a few years, you’re probably thinking about how you’ll save for a down payment or you’re already saving. No matter where you are in the process – or even if you’re already a homeowner and just want to save more – some reminders on how to save money are always appreciated. The biggest thing to remember is that saving takes time and discipline – and it means re-thinking your budget and maybe even earning additional money.

Remember: You may not need to put 20 percent down for your home. In fact, you may only need to put down 5 percent or 3.5 percent. Saving that amount will be a breeze! Your mortgage loan officer can share information with you about loan options and down payment assistance programs.

Get started saving today:

Transfer a fixed amount of money to savings automatically. Set up a savings account that has money automatically transferred into it each month, every two weeks or every week. Every time you get a paycheck, some of that money should be automatically deposited into this account – no questions asked. Your bank can set this up for you, but you have to be disciplined enough to not withdraw from the account!

Bank any extra unexpected income. Get a tax refund? Put it into the savings account. Get a gift of cash? Put it in the savings account. Bonus or large commission? Savings. If this adds up to hundreds or even thousands of extra dollars a year, good for you!

Lower your expenses. Get an antenna and get rid of cable. Stop buying fancy coffees and reduce your trips to restaurants. Lower your data plan on your phone. If you pay your own gas or electric bills, lower your heat in the winter and raise the temperature on your air conditioner in the summer by three degrees in each direction. Wherever you can make a small change, make a small change.

Monitor your online spending. With online shopping at your fingertips and online sellers that generously store your credit card for you, it’s easy to click and spend without even thinking about how much you’re spending or if you really need what you’re buying. Track this spending with an app or keep an old-fashioned spending ledger.

Shop your insurance. If it’s been a while since you checked rates for your car insurance, renter’s insurance, health insurance, look into those costs. You may be able to save hundreds or even thousands of dollars by making a few small changes.

Save your change! Save your pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters. Never spend your change. Get glass jar and start saving. When the jar is full, put the money in your savings account. This will add up fast!

Skip vacations for a year or two. Check out what’s happening in your community, your state and your neighboring states. If you can’t stand the idea of not going away for a year, plan a camping trip and borrow your friends’ equipment. Take the money you would have spent on vacation and add it to your savings account.

Sell things. You’re probably going to purge before you buy your home anyway, so why not sell some things now. That bike you never ride? The extra set of pots and pans you never use? What do you have that has value to someone else? Sell it on Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, Ebay… wherever there is a buyer for what you want to sell. Put anything you make into your savings account.

Lose the high interest credit card debts. If you’re not paying off your credit cards each month, you’re probably paying a lot in interest. Pay off your credit cards and either stop using them all together or use them minimally. Paying credit card interest will seriously cut into your savings. If you simply cannot pay them off, transfer your balances to a card with the lowest possible interest rate.

Get a second job. Earnings money working a second job can help you save money a lot faster. Even if you’re bartending or waiting tables 10 hours a week, driving for a car service, pet sitting or working in retail, if you take every dime of what you make working a second job and put it into savings, you’ll see your money add up quickly.

Refinance your student loans. Do some research and see if you can get a better interest rate on your student loans. You just might be surprised at what you can save. Whatever money you do save with the lower payment goes into your savings account.

Celebrate your savings successes. Create a savings graph and put it somewhere that you see it. Add to it regularly – at the end of every week. The more you see your savings grow, the faster you’ll get to your down payment. And we think you’ll want to continue making saving something you do regularly.

Do you have savings tips you want to share? Add them to the comments below!

Keep Your Cool All Summer Without Running the Air Conditioner

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It’s hard to keep your cool when the electric bill comes in the summer. Running the air conditioner every day can really take a bite out of your extra cash. Here are some tips to help keep your home cool and save money.

Close your blinds.  A lot of heat comes through windows when the sun beats down on them. You can lower the temperature in your home by keeping the blinds closed, especially for south- and west-facing windows.

Let the night be your air conditioner. Open your windows at night – but only if it’s safe to do so. That is, if your bedroom windows are on the second or third floor, you may choose to let fresh, cool air in at night. You can even create a cross breeze with fans. In the morning, before the sun is hot, close your windows and seal in the cool. Cool the whole house by opening some more windows while the cool air is flowing in the morning. Never leave windows open when you are not home and never leave windows that will attract burglars to easy access open when you are sleeping.

Grill out. Rather than using your oven or stove, cook outdoors or eat light. The last thing you want to do is turn your home into an oven of its own by cranking the appliance up to 400 degrees.

Change your ceiling fans to rotate counter clockwise. Did you prep your house for winter and turn the fans on to clockwise? It’s time to turn the fans back again. By setting them counter clockwise and running them at a higher speed, you’ll create breeze that feels cooler. Save more money by turning your fans off when you leave the room. Fans don’t cool the room; they cool the people in the room. A fan that runs when no one is around provides no value.

Close some doors. If you have rooms you don’t use, closing the doors keeps the cool air from being wasted in those rooms. BUT remember to open those doors when you’re letting the evening air cool the house.

Get new light bulbs. Incandescent bulbs burn more heat than the newer energy efficient bulbs. All you have to do is walk near a lamp when the light bulb is on to feel the heat.

Run the dishwasher and do laundry at night or early in the morning. These appliances generate heat. Keep the house cooler by running them during cooler hours.

Grow some trees. If you’re in your home to stay, plant some shade producing trees near the house. It’ll be a while to get the best benefits, but soon, you’ll have some nice, natural shade.

And if you’re going to run your air conditioning, get it checked out by a professional. You want to make sure it’s running efficiently and safely.

Remember: when you’re a homeowner,  it’s important to keep your cool without breaking the bank. 

Understanding the Nuts and Bolts of Reverse Mortgages

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Your home represents many things: safety, independence, and memories to name a few. Now, with a reverse mortgage, it can also be a source of income. A reverse mortgage can meet financial needs and ensure that you can stay in your home as long as you choose.

What is a reverse mortgage?
It is a loan against your home that does not have to repaid as long as live in your home. Learn more here about what a reverse mortgage is and how you can use the funds.

What is so unique about the program?
The borrower is NEVER required to make a monthly payment. It is a loan in “reverse.” Instead of making payments, you can receive them.

Will this loan affect my Social Security or Medicare?
No, absolutely not.

Will I have to pay income tax on the money I receive?
No. The money is considered proceeds of a loan and not taxable.

How much do I qualify for?
It depends on your age(s) and the value of your home as well as the interest rate at the time of closing. The older you are the more money you get.

Will I have to pay an up-front application/appraisal fee?
At Universal Lending you will not have to pay these fees out of pocket; they are included in your loan.

What are my responsibilities?
You and/or your spouse must live in the home, keep the property in good condition and make sure your taxes and insurance are paid on a yearly basis.

Do I have to own my home free and clear?
No, even if you have an existing loan, reverse mortgage proceeds can be used to pay the loan in full and you would never have another house payment.

When is the loan due?
The loan is due when you and your spouse no longer live in the home as your primary residence.

Is this a safe loan?
Yes. It is an FHA-Insured loan administered by the federal government.

Are reverse mortgages expensive?
Because of recent program changes, some reverse mortgages are less expensive than in years past.

Will I still own my home?
Yes. You DO NOT give up title to your property and you can sell and move at any time.

Can my wife and I get a reverse mortgage if I am over 62 but she is not?
Yes, only one borrower has to be 62 or older.

What questions should I ask a potential lender?
Ask if they process and underwrite their loans in state; you want your paperwork done locally. Make sure your lender has years of experience and ask how long they have been providing reverse mortgages. Ask if their loan officer will meet you face to face to explain the paperwork.

How can I be sure it is right for me?
A meeting with a HUD-approved housing agency is required. They will sit down with you (and your family if you like), to explain this program so you can make an informed decision.

Can I purchase a new home with a reverse mortgage?
Yes, the program is called Reverse for Purchase. It’s a great option for customers who want to downsize, move closer to their kids or buy a home with no outside maintenance and have no house payments.

Don’t try to learn all there is to  know about reverse mortgages online. Universal Lending is honored to work with one of the nation’s foremost experts on these loans. Contact us today to learn more.