Tools that make Personal Finance easy

Innovation in the 21st century does not stop with personal finance. With the help of new tools and applications, it is now easier than ever to keep your personal finances in order. The ease and efficiency with which many of these new tools operate allow users to worry less about the complexities of personal finance while still sticking to their goals. If you are hesitant to try new products and technology you are depriving yourself of some really great tools that can help you save time and money.

  1. For Your Credit Score: A new tool from CreditKarma.com now makes it very easy to monitor your credit in real time. Many similar services are offered by corporations such as Equifax and Experian at a high price. This service however is free through CreditKarma.com. With this service you will be notified of any significant changes to your credit. You still are responsible for taking the action to dispute your credit file if the need arises.
  2. Banking without the Headache: If you are tired of the hassle and high cost of banking with a traditional brick and mortar bank, perhaps it is time to consider the online banking option. Not only do you forego the ridiculous fees that are typical of traditional banks, but you also receive the ease and convenience of doing your banking from the comfort of your home. Simple is an example of one of these banks. As is always the case, do you research before placing your money in someone else’s hands.
  3. Quick and Easy Bill Pay: Long over are the days of paper bills and fees from forgetting to pay your water bill. If you find yourself with a handful of bills and can’t seem to keep them all in order, perhaps you should try Manilla.com. This is a free tool that acts as a personal assistant by collecting and organizing your bills into one simple place. You can even set up digital reminders that allow you to be reminded via email or text when a bill is due. Not only that but you can give the environment a break by eliminating the paper waste associated with mailed bills.
  4. Simplifying Expense Reports: If you find yourself on the road frequently for a business, there is a great app that tracks your expenses. This tool allows for the import of expenses from your bank and credit card statements. No longer do you need to keep track of receipts either. The app allows you to capture an image of your receipt and save it to your digital expense report. Expensify offers a premium account that offers even more handy tools for simplifying your travels.

By incorporating even a few of these tools into your lives, you can begin to benefit from the advancements in technology. Before buying into any product or turning over sensitive information, make sure that your information is protected and that you are knowledgeable of any terms and conditions.

Is Home Ownership Right for Everyone?

Often times you hear of home ownership referred to as the American dream but this isn’t always necessarily the case. There are numerous factors to consider when deciding whether to buy your first home or to continue renting. When living expenses consume a considerable portion of most people’s income, it is a good idea to put a lot of thought into the decision and where your money is ultimately going. Here are a few factors to consider before possibly making the leap into home ownership.

1. Low Credit Score

Generally speaking it is said that a score below a 620, will not be helpful to you in buying your first home. If you are below this number, it is probably best to spend the next year or so making a conscious effort to rebuild your score. Delaying the purchase of your first home to do so can end up saving you tens of thousands of dollars in the long term on interest alone.

2. Job Stability or Relocation

Being laid off is usually not something you can anticipate unless your employer is extremely transparent. If you don’t have an emergency fund accumulated in order to make at least the approximate payment of your anticipated mortgage, you probably are not ready to make the leap into home ownership. Most lenders require that you have at least three months of reserves for a reason.

Additionally, even if you have or plan to voluntarily leave your current employer you may have a difficult time securing a mortgage. Lenders like to see a history of employment, if not with the same company, than at least in the same industry. Other factors to consider is how mobile you are. If you are at high risk for being relocated or do not intend to stay in the house for a considerable amount of time, you could very well lose money in the case of a sale. A general rule of thumb is that your property needs to appreciate at least 10% in order to avoid losing money in a sale.

3. Maintenance fund

A home is a continuous project that requires time and money to upkeep. It is always a good idea to have a home inspected before closing on it, but even then, not all of the problems and potential problems are evident. In addition to an emergency fund, it is recommended to have a reserve fund of at least 5% of the purchase price of the home in order to cover maintenance and upkeep. Furthermore, not everyone wants or knows how to maintain a property. Many people prefer to rent in order to have the benefits of a house without the risk of ownership.

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Small Ways to Save Money Around the House

When it comes to running your household, expenses can really add up. Finding creative or efficient ways to continue living the way you are and still save money can be a lifestyle change that is not only easy, but can also become quite addictive. Here are some simple ways to save a little money around the house without sacrificing your quality of life.

Conserve Energy

It is easy to forget to turn off the light switch when leaving the house, but this simple practice alone can end up saving you a lot of money in the long run. If you are running on old appliances, you may consider swapping them out for energy efficient devices. There are many other devices available that help save energy by killing the source of power from the house to the appliance. This is useful for many appliances that use electricity even when they are not powered on .

Opt in to the Bundle Plan
Many utility companies, offer ways to save money by bundling your services. Some examples of this are your telephone, cable, and phone bills. Another good source of savings is bundling your car, home, and life insurance.

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