Duarte/Downey Real Estate Agency, Inc

Posted by Duarte/Downey Real Estate Agency, Inc on 6/29/2015

Is there really a secret to saving money? It may seem as though it is mystery how your bank account ends up empty every month but there is no mystery to it. While it may be no secret there are three important tips you can follow to help you put more money in your pocket. The challenge is to follow the tips in order to be successful at saving money. The rest is up to you.

1. Create a Budget

You need to know where your money is going. Once you have established where you spend your money you will be able to find places to make cuts. The first thing to do is figure out how much is being spent on housing, utilities, groceries, debt, and entertainment. Once you know where the money is going you will be able to set limits for problem areas. This is the money that you will apply to secret #2.

2. Pay Yourself First

This is a huge secret, pay yourself first. Yes, before you dole out money for bills as soon as your paycheck hits your account; deposit a specified amount into savings. It doesn't matter how small the amount is, at least you are saving. Even better , create an automatic savings plan that will automatically deposit money into your savings account before you even have a chance to spend it. This can be done right through your employer’s direct deposit or with a recurring transfer with your bank.

3. Spend Less Than You Earn

If you don't learn to obey this rule you will never be able to save money. You simply have to spend less money than you earn and there’s no way around that. If you are spending more than you earn you are borrowing money and thus putting yourself into debt.  

Categories: Money Saving Tips  

Posted by Duarte/Downey Real Estate Agency, Inc on 4/7/2014

Paying off your mortgage early and having no bills sounds like a no brainer. The answer however is not so simple. The answer really is; it depends. First you need to ask yourself a few questions. 1. Have you capitalized your employer’s match to your retirement savings? If the answer is no and you are not contributing the maximum than you are throwing away free money. You may want to consider putting your money here before paying down your mortgage. 2. Do you have other debt other than your mortgage? Pay off high interest credit card debit first. It makes no sense to pay off a lower interest loan and carry high interest debt. 3. Do you have an emergency fund? Experts suggest at least a three month supply of living expenses. Some even go as much as twenty four months of living expenses after the turn in the economy and job market. It makes more sense to have money set aside for a sudden loss of income before you pay off your mortgage. 4. Do you owe more than your house is worth? If you are upside down you are more susceptible to foreclosure. Ask yourself how much how much you enjoy living there. Would you be willing to buy it again for more than it is worth now? 5. Do you have life, health and disability insurance? If you are the main source of income in your household what would happen if you were no longer able to make the payments? Putting safety nets in place first is a wise idea. 6. Do you believe you can get better return investing elsewhere? Paying off your mortgage is an investment decision. Ask how does paying off my mortgage stack up with other investment options? 7. Are you thinking of retiring and want to live with the worry of a payment? The thought of living on a fixed income can be scary. Paying off your mortgage may give you peace of mind. There is no right or wrong answer to this question. It really comes down to what is most important to you. Sometimes, the answer is not based just on dollars and sense and more on what works for you, your life, your family situation and just plain old personal preference.

Posted by Duarte/Downey Real Estate Agency, Inc on 11/24/2013

In today's economic climate protecting your financial health is more important than ever. From health insurance to your plans for retirement, there’s a lot to consider. Here are some tips from Family Wealth Management Group, LLC to help protect your assets and financial future. It is never too early to plan In order to plan, you need to know what you have. Review your pension plan, 401 (k), IRAs, Social Security benefits and other savings plans to assess whether they meet your long-term retirement goals and will generate an income stream to meet your projected expenses. Curb spending Time to take an inventory on how much you spend. Keep a log on trips to the market, afternoon lattes, dry cleaning and all of your miscellaneous spending. Try to eliminate a portion of these expenses. Once you track them you will realize you are spending more than you thought. Re-define your financial goals Ask yourself where you see yourself in five, 10 or 15 years. See if it is possible to redefine your goals. You may be able to retire earlier or pay for college. Set goals to achieve the things you want. Get help Professional advice about investment losses, financial products, insurance coverage and other important issues will help you make the right choices for your current financial situation.

Categories: Money Saving Tips  

Posted by Duarte/Downey Real Estate Agency, Inc on 3/17/2013

RefinancingReason #1: Interest Rates are Forecasted to Rise.

The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA), which is the national organization representing the real estate finance industry is forecasting a rise in interest rates for 2013 and 2014.

Reason#2: Your Adjustable Rate Mortgage Could Adjust Up.

If you find yourself with an ARM, it may be the perfect time to explore your options regarding fixed-rate mortgages. Interest rates fluctuated every month for 2011 and 2012, according to data provided by Informa Research Services, a leading information provider to the financial industry. With interest rates plunging to historic lows over the past few years, there's nowhere left to go but up. Which leads us to...

Reason#3: The Government's Financial Involvement is Expected to End Soon.

Ever since the recession in 2008, the government has been buying up mortgage debt from banks in an effort to stimulate the housing market. This is expected to end in the next two years, and it is anyone's guess when exactly this will take place. Refinancing now is much better than waiting until you start to see the signs of non-involvement, by which time it could be too late.

Reason#4: Cutting Down on Interest.

If you find yourself in a 30-year mortgage, it may be the best time to explore your options regarding a 15-year, fixed-rate mortgage. While your monthly payments would be higher, the amount of money you pay for your home would be significantly less. Interest payments on a 30-year mortgage can jack up the price of a home astronomically. While the monthly payments may have looked appealing initially, paying off the principal sooner will leave you much better off financially in the long run.

Categories: Financing  

Posted by Duarte/Downey Real Estate Agency, Inc on 4/8/2012

Ok, so you didn't win Mega Millions but just in case Bankrate.com has some tips on how to spend a hefty windfall. It's everyone's favorite fantasy: a nice, huge windfall. Maybe that scratch-off lottery ticket pays off big, or that dusty vase in the attic turns out to be a collector's item, or that stock you've been hoarding turns out to be worth a bundle. Suddenly you're sitting on a nice mid-five-figure gift that you weren't expecting, and that's after taxes. Now what? Facing this envious dilemma, you might want some savvy guidance. With that objective, Bankrate.com asked several financial experts for their advice for managing a hefty windfall. Karen Altfest, executive vice president of L.J. Altfest & Co., a financial planning firm in New York, says to concentrate on three strategies. "What you're going to do is think of it as pockets," she says. "You've got three pockets, divide the money in thirds. Take the first pocket and use it to pay down anything that you think should be paid down: your child's education, your debt, your mortgage. Get rid of something and make your life a little easier. "Then, save for something in your future -- your next car, your vacation, your old age. Third is that you're a good person. Do something nice for yourself now. A vacation or something special you've always wanted," Altfest says. Sandy Shore, counseling supervisor of Novadebt, a nonprofit, credit counseling agency in Freehold, N.J., says start or supplement your emergency fund. But how do you determine how much to save? "You have to look at your individual situation," Shore says. "Is there another income? If one of you became unemployed, how much of a hole would that leave? How secure is your job? If you're one step away from being unemployed, I would say look at how long you think it would take you to get a job. "Six months is a pretty good ballpark for most people," she says. Add up your monthly bills and obligations (including taxes), and subtract any unemployment you'd receive. Then bank at least that amount. And if you already have some saved, use the windfall to take that savings to your goal amount. Dave Jones, president of the Association of Independent Consumer Credit Counseling Agencies in Fairfax, Va., recommends socking away at least $10,000 into a savings account if you have debts but no savings. Then spend the rest to eliminate or pay down your debts, concentrating on your highest interest rate obligations first. If you have savings and no debt, you could consider low-risk investments, such as a money market fund or other "balanced low-risk fund," Jones says. Almost as important is what to avoid: "impulsive spending on inane perishables," he says. Lynnette Khalfani-Cox, author of "Zero Debt: The Ultimate Guide to Financial Freedom," says the best solution is to tackle the problem in a series of steps. "Get professional financial help. Find a qualified adviser to help you set a budget and do long-term financial planning," Khalfani-Cox says. "And give yourself time. Resist the urge to do something -- anything -- immediately. Don't feel like you have to do anything at all with the money right away," she says. If you decide to invest, plan beforehand. "Be strategic about making any big moves," Khalfani-Cox says. "Don't just give in and start buying stocks, bonds or mutual funds without a plan." Create a plan to deal with money requests, she says. It takes away the guilt when you want or need to say "no." "The idea is to create a buffer between you and all the friends and family who will ask for money," she says. "Consider using an intermediary -- either an individual or an institution -- to handle the requests." Gail Cunningham, spokeswoman for the National Foundation for Credit Counseling in Silver Spring, Md., advises people to approach a windfall by first looking at areas where you are financially weakest. Then, use your windfall to strengthen your position. Behind on the mortgage? "The best use might be to catch up," she says. "This will eliminate late fees, which only add to the balance." Paying only the minimums on credit cards? "A good use could be to put the money toward the debt with the highest balance," she says. Or, pay off a small bill. "This feeling of accomplishment often encourages a person to keep knocking off bills," Cunningham says. If you're financially stable but without savings, you're "really on a slippery slope," she says. Using your windfall to start or augment your savings account could create a safety net for emergencies. If you're stable financially, consider splitting the money between one of the above and a personal reward. "Treating yourself to a reward for responsibly handling your money can be an incentive to continuing this behavior," Cunningham says. Larry Winget, author of "The Idiot Factor: The 10 Ways We Sabotage Our Life, Money, and Business," says "Don't buy anything." "It's an opportunity, a real opportunity to fix everything you haven't been doing right," he says. First, pay off your high-interest rate credit card. Then, stash your windfall away. Consumers should create a savings equal to at least three months' worth of household expenses. Put the rest away for retirement. "That would be the top three things that I would say to do," Winget says. "But whatever you do, don't buy something that's going to immediately depreciate when you write the check: cars, clothes, food, vacation," he says. Ron Phipps, president of the National Association of Realtors, says consumers should pay down their credit card debt. "Simplify your ongoing financial responsibilities. Make life easier. Reduce your overhead," he says. After that, look after your No. 1 investment. Focus on needed home repairs or equity-generating improvements, he says. Or, reduce an ongoing expense like your monthly utility bill by installing energy-efficient appliances. After that, "I'd probably say if it were truly a windfall, I'd find something I'd like to do that I'd enjoy: an arbor, a garden or a spa/whirlpool," he says. If your house and your credit card accounts are in good shape, consider buying a rental property. "The goal would be to take that money and leverage it," Phipps says. If your finances are healthy and this is truly extra money, then remember the 80/20 rule. "Save 80 percent, spend 20 percent," says Wayne Bogosian, co-author of "The Complete Idiot's Guide to 401(k) Plans." "Follow the 80/20 rule and you won't have any regrets." How do you spend it? "Any way you want," he says. Buy things that last or do some philanthropic giving, he says. For the savings? Aim to max out IRA and 401k contributions for you and your spouse over the coming years, he says. "If your income is outside the Roth IRA limits, open a nondeductible IRA and immediately convert it to a Roth IRA," he says. Your objective over the next eight to 10 years should be to deposit all or most of your 80 percent into a Roth IRA and then into a 401(k).