From the category archives:

Managing Money

Buying a home can be both difficult and stressful. The day I took the money out of the bank for a down payment on my first house was probably the most nerve wracking day of my life. I can’t think of a time when I have ever written such a large check for anything. Though I was fortunate to live in a mid-west city where real estate was affordable and priced to sell. It didn’t hurt to buy during the recession either. Fast forward several years later and real estate is starting to climb back to the values of the old days. The redeeming factor is that interest rates are still at an all time low and waiting to buy a house could cost you more down the road. If you have been renting the last few years and waiting to pull the trigger on buying a new house then now is the time.

Hands down, the hottest real estate market outside of New York is probably up and down the west coast. Living the California dream is what it’s all about. Unfortunately, it can be quite costly to live in the sunshine state. I saved money and stuck to a strict budget and probably still wouldn’t have the funds to put down on a conventional loan for a piece of property in California. That doesn’t mean it isn’t possible though. Consider a new loan program, the CalPLUS Conventional Loan with Zip Extra. This loan program is designed with the potential homeowner in mind.

So here’s the deal. You get a 30 year fixed conventional mortgage and down payment assistance to boot. Consider that many of you might be holding off on buying a new house because you simply don’t have the funds to put down. Why miss out on favorable interest rates because you don’t have all the money you need right now? The “Zip Extra” portion of this program allows you to receive $6,500 plus up to an additional 3% of the original mortgage that can be used on the down payment or even the closing costs. Trust me, the closing costs and escrow fees can add up to be a significant amount and often times buyers forget that aspect of the mortgage. The best part of these additional funds is that they are interest free and do not require payback until the loan is fully retired. That means if yon don’t move or retire through the life of the loan you could potentially receive an interest free loan for the full 30 year life of the mortgage. That isn’t a bad deal if you ask me. The catch is that you pay a little extra with the initial upfront interest rate, but over a 30 year period it more than pays itself back due to the mortgage interest deduction.

You simply need to make sure you are eligible for the loan. If you want a detailed video illustrating your eligibility you can view it here. The requirements are actually pretty simple and easy to understand. Depending on the area you live within you are restricted to a certain income limit which also depends on the number of people in your household. The restrictions are fairly generous as most counties allow the assistance even with families of four earning over $100k per year. The main requirements is that the property is your first home and that you use the house as your primary residence. Basically, they don’t want to fund loans for people who are trying to utilize the property as rental. You are also required to attend and satisfactorily complete an eligible home buyer counseling class. This is to ensure that you can afford and maintain payments on the mortgage. Lastly, the home price has to be within reason. This also depends on the county that you are buying within, but a general acceptable price is anything below $600k.

As you can see this program has many benefits for potential homeowners who simply can’t afford the 20% down payment on a typical conventional loan. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it just offers additional options to someone who wants to take advantage of the favorable interest rates available to them right now. You only need to make sure that after you are provided the down payment assistance you can comfortably afford the monthly mortgage payments without any hardship. For those of you that have been renting a house or apartment this program allows you to purchase a home and start building equity for the future. The recession has long passed up and home prices as well as interest rates are starting to climb. It might sound cliche but this is truly one of the best times to buy a home. So if you have been delaying the inevitable then this is the time to pull the trigger.

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Managing money was my career for more than thirty years. I started managing money when I was seven (7) years old!  I earned my first few dollars with a business and needed to make some decisions. I made them the old fashioned way, I asked my mother. Small, but great network! Technology provides so much more information and all I have to do is access it. How do you use technology to manage your money? Read More…

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Tax free income always sounds good to me!  What do you think?  Everyone loves to pay taxes!  Don’t they?  How would you like to earn tax free income?  Taxes are going up if not now, soon.  It is inevitable! Rich people can save on taxes, but no taxes is much better. Start earning tax free income today! Here are ten examples of how you can earn extra income tax free! Read More…

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Post image for Are You Smart about Money?

Are you smart about money? Did you know you can graduate college or get an MBA and never take a class in personal finance?  That includes the accounting, business and finance majors!  Very few high school students can even take personal finance classes.  We make daily decisions spending, investing, mortgages and car loans every day without much thought.  Read More…

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Post image for It Is Time for Year-End Tax Planning

It is time for year-end tax planning! You can do something about your tax bill just by doing a little tax planning. There is plenty of time to make a difference in your tax bill by just following these suggestions. Everybody knows they should do something, but they do not because either they do not know what to do or do not take the time to do it. The IRS is counting on you doing nothing! Read More…

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You can budget in 4 steps!  The traditional definition of a budget is an estimate of income and expenses for a set period of time.   A budget for me is a structure for achieving a financial goal.   It helps you track your income and how you spend your money.  My approach is to start with my financial goal and make changes in my spending to achieve it.  What are you waiting for? Read More…

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Money management is controlling your personal finances!  Money management is the process of budgeting, saving, investing, spending or otherwise in overseeing the cash usage of an individual or group. Do you contribute to your retirement? Do you have a budget?   Do you pay your credit card balance every month? If you can answer yes to these questions, you are a good money manager!

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Post image for Insurance is for the Unplannable, Unpreventable and Unforeseeable!

There is always something that is unplannable, unpreventable and unforeseeable! That is why you have insurance. If you knew when you would have an accident, predict a serious illness or just knew when you needed insurance, you could get it just before you needed it. What do you do? You get insurance at the best possible cost and limits before you need it. What can you do to keep your premiums low? Read More…

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There aren’t many bills as dependent on our habits and know-how as our energy bills. The first step in reducing your energy costs is to address the equipment that we use to control the climate in our house − since they can also take control of our energy bills if left poorly maintained. That being said, it leaves me scratching my head when I hear comments about how all HVAC maintenance should be left to licensed technicians and the most extreme DIY purists. Read More…

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Post image for Should I Refinance My Mortgage?

When does your bank call you and offer to refinance your mortgage for a lower rate?  Until last week, I would have answered, never!  I have a fixed rate mortgage that I am paying off it off in four (4) years why should I refinance?  The bank offered to lower the interest rate and pick up all the costs.  Refinancing a mortgage at a lower interest rate isn’t always the right decision.  What should I do? Read More…

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