Budgeting

Ready to Buy First Home?

Owning your home is fantastic — if you are financially ready. Here’s a quick checklist to help you determine if you can afford to be a home owner.

The first home purchase is not only a major life milestone, but it’s also a big financial commitment, a decision you should not take lightly. There’s a lot more to buying a house than just the price of it. Other items to factor in include mortgage origination fees, closing costs, interest, homeowner’s insurance and property taxes, which can fluctuate depending on the yearly assessed value of your property.

Stewardship and Your Money

What traits of the wealthy make them good at managing money? That question assumes a direct correlation between your wealth and your skill at managing that wealth. Wrong idea.

Better to ask, “What are the traits of someone who is a good steward of wealth?”

Managing Marriage & Money

One set of financial goals is hard enough to manage. Two sets can seem impossible until you learn how to merge finances with your spouse – and how to keep some assets separate.

Coming together with your spouse for big-picture costs – homes, a college education – is probably easier if you share financial goals and values. Some couples match up from the start; other couples grow into such simpatico. (Amazingly, some couples succeed in planning despite having many different goals and values.)

Investing? Know Your Goals

You know you need to put money away. You might want to save for retirement or for your child’s education or just need a rainy-day fund for emergencies. Whatever your target, know that different financial goals require different strategies.

I hate it when a client says, “I have X amount of dollars to invest” and yet won’t tell me anything about his or her goals. I can’t give you a good answer unless I can understand what you’re trying to accomplish with money.

How’s Your Emergency Fund?

Financial planners commonly recommend you keep an easily accessible emergency fund for unexpected expenses. Too bad few people do it. Take steps now to avoid being caught short of money.

More than a third (34%) of 2,000 adults recently had an unexpected event such as a medical problem or a home-related expense that set them back financially, according to a national survey by Pew Research.

Getting Free Advisor Help

Financial advisors are not just for the wealthy. If anything, the financially insecure need advisors more. If you can’t afford one, the good news is, free advisory services exist to help you stand on your feet.

“We do tons of planning for people with very limited assets,” said Anthony Canale, president of the Financial Planning Association, New York Chapter, during a panel discussion.

Young and Burdened by Debt

Today’s college grads carry unprecedented amounts of debt. How should they deal with it? Here are some strategies.

The problem sneaks up on many young borrowers. Wall Street Journal reporter Veronica Dahger, moderator of a panel of advisors, noted that a lot college grads will wake up to discover that they are burdened by an “overwhelming amount of debt.”

Talking Money With Honey

One of the most ticklish situations in a marriage is dealing with money – often because couples don’t talk about it, or if they do, not well. Advisors explored this fraught subject at National Financial Advisor Week.

“Being compatible romantically does not mean being compatible financially,” said Hilary Hendershott, on a panel of advisors that dug into the issue.

Couples Merging Finances

When a couple weds, each in the new pair often feels pressure to marry individual finances together as well. Smart financial planning actually dictates that you don’t have to – and in many cases shouldn’t – put all your money into a single, joint account. You can enjoy both cooperation and autonomy in your financial marriage.

Grow Savings or Trim Debt?

If you’re like most young adults, you juggle many financial priorities at once. With only so much cash to go around each month, how do you know what to put at the top of your money list? Should you build a nest egg or pay off debt?

Most personal financial advice focuses on one or the other but doesn’t explain how to decide if you want to accomplish both. Here’s what to consider:

Take stock of your savings. The size of your savings plays a big role in deciding whether to sock away more or whittle your debt.

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