Rear View Of Loving Couple Walking Towards House

What to Expect When Purchasing a Home

Rear View Of Loving Couple Walking Towards House

Mortgages & Home Buying 101

Owning a home is a dream for many people. It’s something they hope to accomplish at some point in their lives. Sure, it is a hard task that requires a lot of work, but with proper budgeting anyone can do it! Mortgages and home buying can be very confusing and scary but researching the steps will relieve some stress. Provided below are common questions and answers people have.

It takes how many years to save for a down payment on a home?

Unfortunately, saving for a down payment on a home can take a lot of hard work and planning. Using the following example, we can illustrate the process you can take to figure out how long you will need to budget for.

Assume you make $56,000 and save around 15% of your income each month. That’s around $8,400 a year. It would take about 5 years to build a 20% down payment for a $216,000 home.

Buying insurance on your loan will allow you to have a smaller down payment but might be offset with greater monthly payments. With proper planning and a bulletproof budget, owning a home can be easy and a great goal to look forward to!

What Should I Expect at Closing?

Once you’ve taken all of the steps in saving, getting a mortgage, and finding your dream home, it’s time to close! There are few things you should be prepared for.

  • Your lender will send you a closing disclosure that outlines the terms of your loan, final closing costs, and outstanding charges or fees.
  • Do a final walk-through of the property to make sure everything is as it should be. For example, make sure any repairs that were made are as expected and that you are happy with your future home.

What to Bring to Closing

  • You will sign many legal documents between you and your lender.
  • Pay attention to all of the costs and escrow items. A majority of the time, the buyer is required to bring funds in the form of a cashier’s check made out to the escrow company.

Present Parties

  • Closing agent
  • Attorney
  • Title company representative
  • Home seller and their real estate agent

Closing Documents

  • Loan estimate and Closing disclosure
  • Initial escrow statement
  • Mortgage note and Deed of Trust
  • Certificate of occupancy


How to Use a Student Credit Card

When it comes to credit cards it’s very important to know key factors on how to use them correctly, especially as a student. If you don’t know how to properly use them, you could end up with a bad credit score or worse: end up in debt. To help prevent those scenarios, here are some tips you should know as a student.

You Choose Your Credit Card, not the Other Way Around

It’s important to not just apply for a credit card because you want a “free” new item, like a shirt or phone case. It’s important to research the company and see if the card you want is actually a good offer. Make sure to check for fees, interest rates and of course, compare it to other companies to see which offer is better and benefits you the most. Like stated in thebalance.com, the best credit cards for students to look for have no annual fees, low interest rates, and a low credit limit.

One Credit Card is Enough

As a student, you have a lot to pay for, especially when you think about your future. College includes having to pay for textbooks, food, rent, parking, and membership fees. Having just one credit card can help limit your spending. This will help you to not build up a ton of credit card debt. With one credit card, you can pay for most of those expenses and only focus on one card to pay off.

Control Your Spending

Don’t go over your credit limit! As a student, you might not focus on how much you spend, but it is very important to understand that getting too close to your credit limit makes it more difficult to pay it back in full at the end of each month. Also, know that credit bureaus do not like when you use more than 30% of your credit limit. To avoid overspending, keep track of the items you purchase and record them so you know if you are getting close to your limit.

Your Card, Your Money

Don’t let someone else use your card! When you apply for a credit card it’s for you to use, not anyone else. It’s your credit card, so it’s your responsibility. Allowing a friend or even a family member to borrow your credit card, even if they pay you back, is risky. Also, lending your credit card can cause you to get close to your credit limit because you don’t know how much they are planning to spend.

A Credit Card is Credit, not Debit

Credit cards and debit cards are two different things. Understanding that a credit card is not a debit card is important; don’t take cash out. This is known as a cash advance; credit card companies can charge from 2-5% cash advance fees and other fees due to the withdrawl. It’s important to stay away from cash advances and to read over the terms that go along with cash advances from your credit card company.

Credit cards have many uses, but it’s important to use them correctly. Keep these tips in mind once you receive your first credit card.


6 Tips on Saving Money this Summer

Summer is the perfect time to re-evaluate your saving’s plan. Here are a few tips on how to keep more cash in your pockets this summer:

A Budget = Your Best Friend

Creating a budget can really help you stay in control of your money. It allows you keep track of how much you are able to spend on certain items and it’s designed to make sure you avoid overspending. With a budget in place, you’ll stay within your means and pocket more savings. The goal of creating a budget though is to stick to it! Be committed to seeing it through to have success.

Look For Free Fun

Going out to have fun is necessary at times, but try to do it a bit less when you want to save extra cash. If you do want to get out of the house, there are a variety of free activities you can do out and about.  There are always free festivals or events going on in the city, you just have to look for them.

Deals Are Golden

During summer time, we all have our adventures planned. But finding deals through the variety of apps and sites available are crucial to having a good time for a low price. You’ll be able to have fun and do it guilt-free when you’ve got a good deal, discount or coupon in tow.

Make Your Own Food

Instead of going and spending $20 dollars a day, you can save more money by meal prepping weekly or making your food at home. You’ll be surprised how much money you can actually pocket if you don’t eat out! As an added bonus, you also become a better chef.

Know Needs From Wants

Try not to impulsive buy; think about whether you really need something or just want it. If you don’t really need it, then save it. The more willpower you have in suppressing each and every want that comes your way, the more in control of your finances you’ll be, and the more money you’ll have in your wallet.

The Big One: Give Your Money A Home!

What better way to save money than to open up a saving account?

At BrightStar Credit Union, we’ve got a variety of options when it comes to saving. See our saving’s options here.

Money comes and goes easily, so be intentional with your cash and what you’re doing with it to become a better saver. The goal for this summer? Have fun, but ball on a budget.


6 Smart Financial Choices You Should be Making

Smart Financial Choices is the Making
Make Financial Choices that Matter

The world is a revolving door of bills, savings, spending and decisions. When we talk about financial wellness, we don’t usually talk about millions. We talk about living within your means. This means you have to make financial choices that will benefit you. For example:

 

  1. Create an emergency fund

Every single one of you, regardless of how much you make should have an emergency fund. Unfortunately, more than 50 million Americans forget about this very important financial choice.

This very important aspect of savings will help you take care of unexpected life events that will require you to spend money. The last thing you want when an emergency arises is stress about money. This fund will help you get to your next step easier.

 

  1. Embrace minimalism

Do not spend money on things you don’t need. Yes, you may treat yourself once in a while but if you are going out every weekend or changing your house décor every 2 months; STOP!

Take a step back, breathe and ask yourself “Can you live without this?” If the answer is yes, then put your credit card/cash back. We cannot stress this enough; you must live within your means. Once you start doing this, you can actually start achieving other goals like traveling, saving for a home and go on a shopping spree without having a huge financial strain.

 

  1. Make your money accrue interest

Growing up I heard everyone older than me say that financial stability came along when you figured out a way to make your money make own its money. CD’s and Money Market Accounts are the perfect way to make your money accrue interest by just letting it sit. It is also the perfect way to get disciplined with your savings. CD’s and Money market accounts are also a guaranteed way to make money because they do not rely on the stock market to grow. You just need patience.

 

  1. Change your insurance

We briefly mentioned changing your insurance on our “How to Make a proper Budget” blog. The internet has made research easy. Changing your insurance is research you should be making. See how you can take advantage of discounts, promos and benefits that can help you reduce the cost of your insurance.

 

  1. Save money on gas

Gas is one of those little things that makes a difference. If you live anywhere in Florida, you are spending money on gas. A way you can start saving on gas is buying or switching into a smaller car. This may not be possible if you are a parent or have a big family, but if this is not something you need…CHANGE IT!

 

  1. Find ways to make extra money
    Making a little extra money is smart- especially when you want to treat yourself a bit more. You can use APPs and websites like eBay, Offer Up and Facebook to sell gently used items. You can open a separate Savings Account to add the little extra money you are making. The extra dollars can help you pay for a plane ticket and help you pay for a vacation. It can also make it easier to grow your Emergency Fund.

 

Try to follow these tips to help you make better financial choices. It is the little changes that make a difference in your financial well-being.


Create a proper budget

How to create a proper budget

Create a proper budget
Start Budgeting today

Budgeting is the little plan in 2019 that will keep you financially organized and stress-free. However, to make an accurate budget you must have a clear picture of what your goals are.

For example, aside from paying bills this year, you will also like to travel and buy a home. Both are achievable but will take some discipline in your part.

Before you start, go through find ways to reduce your bills.

Reduce Your Bills 

We can thank the internet for making research and price comparison a lot easier. Basically, your first job is to review how to lower your main bills. You should try to reduce your car insurance, phone bill and internet payment. Take around 2 to 3 days to make accurate research and try not to fall for hidden fees.

 

Second, make a list of any additional expenses you have. These expenses are your wants. They will probably include coffee trips, friend dinners, splurge shopping and any expense you simply do not need to do. Minimalism is key when it comes to sticking your budget. After you have written these out find a way to cut them by 80%. Start making coffee at home and have a home-made breakfast with your friends instead.

Prioritize your Bills

Your budget will be divided in 3 parts. Your goals, emergency fund and everyday living.

Set aside 5% of your income after taxes and make this number your emergency fund goal. You will not touch this money unless you absolutely need too.

Then write down every expense you have. Starting with your groceries and ending with your favorite leisure expense.

If your end result shows more income than expenses, you are off to a good start. This means you can prioritize this excess to areas of your budget such as traveling and retiring. If you are showing a higher expense column than income, it means some changes will have to be made.

Make adjustments to expenses.

 If you have accurately identified and listed all of your expenses, the ultimate goal would be to have your income and expense columns to be equal. This means all of your income is accounted for and budgeted for a specific expense or savings goal.

If you’re in a situation where expenses are higher than income, you should look at your  “wants” to find areas to cut. Since these expenses are typically non-essential, it should be easy to shave a few dollars in a few areas to bring you closer to your income.

Review Your Budget Monthly

It’s important to review your budget on a regular basis to make sure you’re staying on track. After the first month take a minute to sit down and compare the actual expenses versus what you had created in the budget. This will show you where you did well and where you may need to improve.

Most importantly, keep yourself organize. A budget only works if you are willing to follow it and put in the work.


Safely file business Taxes

How to ensure that your business taxes are filed safely

How to ensure that your business taxes are filed safely

Safely file business Taxes
Safely file business Taxes

As a business owner, your number one priority is safeguarding the interests of your enterprise, which is why you should take extra precaution to ensure that your information is protected when filing your business taxes. These tips will ensure that your returns are filed safely, and your information remains uncompromised.

Practical protection

Tax returns require sensitive information pertaining to your business as well as personal details which make them attractive to hackers and identity thieves.

Since the Internal Revenue Service requires you to keep your tax filings and supporting documents for a minimum of three years and a maximum of seven years. The agency advises that you keep all paper documents locked safely away.

A locked drawer or cabinet are good options, but your best bet may very well be a hidden, fireproof safe.

When working with a tax professional, take the time to vet their credentials before you hand over any sensitive documents. If you choose to file on your own via tax software, make sure that your computer is equipped with up-to-date anti-virus and anti-malware software and that you are protected by a firewall.

If you store your documents on your computer for record-keeping purposes or for electronic filing, the IRS recommends installing software designed to encrypt your files and backup drives to prevent important information from being stolen.

Once you’re ready to cycle out older tax documents, the IRS advises that you shred any paper documents thoroughly to prevent identity theft. For electronically stored documents, you will need to wipe your drives before selling or disposing of an old computer or external drive.

Delivery methods

Before you send off or hand over physical tax paperwork, The Balance’s William Perez and Beverly Bird advise that you make a detailed list of everything you’re sending and make copies of every document. You can scan and save the documents as PDFs on your computer. To get an extra layer of protection get add secondary copies to a flash drive or an external hard drive.

Having readily available backup copies will reduce the stress that occurs if something should go missing en route to your accountant or to the government.

If possible, Perez and Bird suggest hand-delivering your documents to your accountant or professional tax preparer, as this serves as the best option to ensure the safe filing of your documents.

If your accountant is too far to reach in person, it’s suggested that you spring for delivery or signature confirmation and that you maintain your tracking information to monitor your documents’ progress. Additionally, Try not to use email.

Never send sensitive details within the body of an email and ensure that all documents are encrypted and password-protected.

Your tax paperwork is too important to the health of your business. By taking the proper precautions, you can better ensure its success and stability without having to worry as much.


5 Saving Money Tricks for this Holiday Season

The Holiday season is upon us and this could either mean you are overly excited about the celebrations or you’re overly stressed out about money. Granted, you can also be both, excited and stressed out. This is normal during this time and we are here to offer you some guidance.

How can you save your money and spend wisely this holiday season?

Make a Budget

It should be no surprise to you that a budget is the smartest way to keep track of your money. You should keep one year-round but you should also have a separate one during the holiday season.

When you create your holiday budget, be smart and avoid setting yourself up for failure. Do not set a budget that is unrealistically low or one that is way too high. Also, think about cutting back in other areas. Can you avoid brunch Sundays with your friends for a month? Or even little things like buying coffee every morning?

Make a list of gifts that you absolutely need to get and another list of gifts you can make yourself. Getting a beautiful printed picture in a cute affordable frame can be just as nice as a $50 bottle of wine. After all, it is the thought that counts.

Make a Potluck

Getting your friends and family together to celebrate is always a beautiful tradition. However, if you are the host, it can be a very expensive one too. Deviate from the all-or-nothing thinking and ask your friends to help you with side dishes and dessert for your celebration. Not only will a potluck save you money, it will also save you precious needed time.

Get Flying Deals and Discounts

If you’re planning on taking a nice trip out of town, search for discounts. Gone are the days where travel agents had the only good flight packages. Now you have a million ways to get discounted fly tickets, car rentals and hotels. In fact, you can even get some travel benefits with your BSCU credit card.

Here is a trick: When you search for flights online, make sure to check at different times of the day. Believe it or not, some flights can get very cheap when you purchase them at odd hours like 2:00am.

Have Will-Power and Know When You Need to Stop

When your list is finished and you’ve checked it twice, it’s time to stop shopping. Know when you’re finished, and avoid stopping by the mall “just to see what they have” – this can lead to making poorly planned purchases and blowing your budget.

Most people get the itch to shop a few days before Christmas, if this is you, then leave some shopping you NEED for the last days. This way, you will still feel like you are getting something but you are not just “checking things out.”

Time to Use Coupons.

If this isn’t typically you, that is okay but during this time you’ll be wise to utilize coupons. You can get coupons online, via email, through a newspaper and you can even buy a cheap coupon book at the mall. The point is you have choices. Do not buy that $25 dress when you can get it for $15. Be smart because every dollar adds up.

Finally, remember to enjoy this time with your family and if you have to spend, spend wisely. We hope this helps.

 


How to make your savings grow with a Money Market account?

Money market accounts can provide a safe, productive way to store your money

A money market account is an account that typically comes with a higher interest rate than other savings accounts. If investing in stocks and bonds is not something that appeals to you, but you would still like to make your money grow safely, opening a money market account could be the right move. There are still some factors that you should consider before committing to your decision.

Higher interest

The main appeal of money market accounts is that they typically offer higher interest rates than savings accounts, though this is not always true on a case-by-case basis. Investing deposits for money market accounts are held in government securities, commercial paper and certificates of deposit, returning higher yields than you would normally get from a savings account.

MMAs also provided the added bonus of security comparable to that of a traditional savings account. According to NerdWallet’s Margarette Burnette, these accounts are backed by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and National Credit Union Administration for up to $250,000.

Minimum balance

Compared to a regular savings account, which may have a minimum balance requirement, a money market account is likely to require an even greater minimum daily balance as well as a higher minimum deposit requirement when you want to put money into the account. The minimum requirement may also be based on a tiered system. With more money in the account, you can benefit from higher interest rates. If you are under your minimum requirements, you could be hit with expensive maintenance fees. Because of this, it is best to open an MMA if you are sure that you will be able to maintain its conditions and reap the full benefits of using it for saving.

Should you open a money market account?

Money market accounts are a great alternative to the traditional savings account that provide benefits similar to that of a checking account should you need to make the occasional withdrawal. Check out our Money Market options. It’s possible they offer even more fruitful ways to store your money, or equally fruitful options that have fewer limitations.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]


4 Essentials Every Young Entrepreneur Should Know

No matter how old you are, the entrepreneurship bug can bite you and give you the itch to start a business. If you have been working for some time, you probably have some experience in the industry you’re launching into and have spent time in the business world. However, if you’re younger, there is more for you to learn. Here are some financial tips that will help you start off on the right foot.

  1. Keep it separate

Almost every resource about business finance declares loudly and often that you need to keep business and personal funds separate. It’s easy to think that you’ll make sure to track things and know what money belongs to whom, but when everything mixes together it can be tempting to dip into business funds for personal use. At BSCU we have a low cost Business Checking product that may help you keep things on budget and organized.

Besides that possibility, Dmitriy Fomichenko of NerdWallet points out that if the IRS comes calling for an audit, you’ll need proof of business expenses and income. That is much easier when the money isn’t in the same place. If your business is a corporation, you’re actually required by law to maintain a separate account for your business.

2. File your taxes

Speaking of the IRS, it’s imperative that you remember to pay your taxes. This might seem like an obvious tip, but your taxes get more complicated when you own a company. Project Eve points out that you might be so wrapped up in day-to-day operations that you forget about taxes, or you might not have the right information to file correctly and meet quarterly deadlines. If you don’t have an accountant for your business already, it’s important that you seek the advice of a tax professional now to avoid penalties (or jail time) later.

3. Start a retirement plan

When you first start your business, more money will be going out than in. But when funds do start to come back and you have enough to cut yourself a paycheck, Yoav Vilner of Entrepreneur says it’s important to also start a retirement fund. If another company employed you, retirement plans would probably be part of your intake paperwork and someone else would take care of it. When you’re working on your own, that task falls to you. No matter how much you think you’ll love your business, you will thank yourself in the future for saving now so you can ride off into the sunset later.

4. Get ready for emergencies

You probably insured your business when you opened up, but don’t forget about yourself. NerdWallet points out that, as an entrepreneur, any serious illness of injury can put that source of income in jeopardy. Make sure that you purchase disability insurance to cover you in case the worst should happen. While you’re at it, consider buying business overhead expense insurance.   If you have to take an extensive leave of absence and that temporarily closes your business, this policy will cover certain business costs like rent, employee salaries or taxes until you’re back on your feet.

If you’re young, driven and ready to start a business, we wish you the best of luck. Just make sure to look both ways before you make a major decision, and consider consulting a financial adviser.


How to Start a Small Business with Little Capital

Becoming a business owner doesn’t have to require huge capital investment

If you’ve ever dreamt of owning your own business, you probably stopped dreaming the second you considered how much money it would take to make your dream come true. You can dream big and start small, however, by starting up a business that doesn’t require an exorbitant amount of capital up front.  The following are just some of the avenues you can take to make your dream of being a business owner a reality.

Get creative
If you count painting or handicrafts among your biggest passions, you have the potential to turn your hobby into a successful business. According to Jayson DeMers, Founder and CEO of AudienceBoom and VIP Contributor for Entrepreneur, selling your paintings, artwork and crafts on eBay, Amazon and Etsy allows you to reach a wider customer base without having to invest capital in a website. If you want to market your products without having to pay for placement, you can start up dedicated accounts on social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook to show off your goods and offer exclusive discounts.

Cook up some cash
Cooking can be an incredibly rewarding experience. It allows you not only to control what you put into your body, but it also provides a creative outlet and rewards experimentation with new things. If you find that your kitchen creations are consistent crowd-pleasers, you might be able to parlay that skill into a small enterprise. Susan Ward, owner of information technology consulting firm Cypress Technologies, writes for The Balance Small Business that gluten-free and artisanal foods are two of the top small-business ventures you can start without a lot of capital up front.
If you can’t afford a retail space stocked with high-end equipment and appliances, you can simply utilize your home kitchen to create your product. Apart from selling your product via social media, you can start by selling your goods at a local farmers market. Once you begin to build a bit of buzz, you can reach out to local grocery stores and restaurants to see if they’ll begin selling your products and incorporating them into dishes.

Selling yourself
If you are in possession of a certain skillset or talent that you think can drive a small-business endeavor, you might be able to put it to use without having to pay the typical small-business startup cost. Jackie Zimmerman, writing for NerdWallet, says that your expertise can be the seed from which a thriving business can grow.
If you consider yourself an expert in some academic field or another, Zimmerman recommends plying your skills as a consultant or private tutor. If you hit upon a formula or approach that works, you can use the positive results seen by students as a proof of concept and begin marketing yourself with testimonials to back up what you’re selling.
Ward suggests that taking care of seniors is a small-business opportunity that can both help keep you financially solvent and provide a meaningful service to people in need. Ward cites the affluence of the baby-boom generation and an American Association of Retired Persons survey that found 90 percent of seniors wanting to live independently as evidence of in-home care being both profitable and important. Ward notes that there are low-cost franchise opportunities available for those interested in providing senior care.
These are just some of the small-business options that can be brought to fruition without a ton of money up front. If you have a particular skill or field that you would like to turn into a business of your own, consider all of your options and be creative wherever possible