A new year gives us a clean slate and an opportunity to improve our lives. One of the best ways to do that is by improving our finances. Here are the financial resolutions that will put you on track to do just that.
Get a Clear Picture
Before you can make a plan to improve your finances, you need to assess your overall financial situation. How much is coming in and going out? Where are your spending leaks? You can’t answer these questions unless you keep a budget.
There are so many budgeting tools available that there is no reason not to have a budget. Mint is our favorite. It’s free and easy to use. You can make your budget as detailed or as general as you like but the information it provides is critical to financial health.
Factor in any changes you expect this year, getting a raise, having a baby, moving, or a change in your tax rates. You won’t have a hard dollar amount for these things, that’s okay. You just want to be aware of these sorts of changes and how they will affect your finances this year.
Set Concrete Goals
Vague financial resolutions like, “retire early” or “buy a home” aren’t good enough. How early would you like to retire? How much money do you need to have saved to do that? You can get a ballpark figure using a retirement calculator. You’ll need to figure out the variables like cost of living in the area you’ll retire to or if you will continue to work in some capacity after retiring from full time, mandatory work, but a calculator can give you a starting number to work toward.
If you want to buy a home, how much home can you afford? You can use a home mortgage calculator to get the number. The home buying process can be long but there are several things you can do to expedite it. This checklist shows the documents you’ll need to gather.
Once you find your dream home and are ready to make an offer, we can provide a pre-approval letter. Being pre-approved gives you a stronger position during negotiations and makes sellers more likely to accept your offer. At Carlyle Financial we can also expedite your closing. The average time to close a home is 50 days; we close most purchase loans in less than thirty.
Factor in Your Home
Your home can play a big part in your financial resolutions this year. There are some compelling reasons to refinance your mortgage.
Are you going to see some extra cash? If so, it’s worth considering refinancing from a 30 to a 15 year mortgage. If you can refinance for a lower interest rate, not only will you save money but you will build equity more quickly which is useful if you want to buy a second home for recreation or as an investment property.
If your home value has increased and you have some big bills to pay, credit card debt or college expenses, you may consider a cash out refinance. Here are some resources to help you decide if refinancing should be part of your financial resolutions.
Get a Good Deal
We often buy home loan insurance, homeowner’s and auto insurance when we first make the purchase and then forget about it. But you may be paying much more than you have to for these services. There are so many providers vying for your business that it’s easy to get a better deal than you have currently.
Use a comparison site to find a lower rate. Armed with that information, call up your current carrier and ask them to match or better their competitor’s deal. These companies have entire departments devoted to customer retention.
If you are getting a good deal, ask your carrier if there are things you can do that will lower your insurance rates. Increasing your home’s security by adding smoke detectors, a sprinkler system, and burglar alarm can reduce your premiums.
Making your home more disaster resistant can do the same. Adding storm shutters and updating old plumbing, heating, and electrical systems can reduce the risk for your insurer and can add value to your home when you decide to sell.
Happy New Year!
Whatever your resolutions for the New Year, we wish you much success and happiness for 2017.