Is a Dual Agency Relationship Risky?

Can one agent represent both parties? The answer: It depends.

Buyers and sellers sometimes have the option of entering into a dual agency relationship with their real estate agent. Although this is not necessarily a problem, you should be aware of exactly what a dual real estate agency means and the restrictions it can place on your agent.

What is a dual real estate agency?

The term “agency” refers to the relationship that you, as a buyer or seller, have with your real estate agent. Dual agencies can occur with two agents or with a single agent.

A dual agency with two agents can occur when the buyer’s agent and the seller’s agent are licensed under the same broker.

In a dual agency with a single agent, potential buyers may ask a seller’s real estate agent to submit an offer on their behalf. In this case, the agent is acting as a dual agent.

Dual real estate agency disclosure

Because dual agencies represent a conflict of interest for the buyer and seller, some states don’t allow them.

In states where dual agencies are legal, however, the law requires that a dual real estate agent inform both the buyer and seller of a dual real estate agency. These two parties must also sign consent forms indicating that they understand the concept of dual agency, as well as the restrictions imposed on the real estate agent by this type of agreement.

If either the buyer or the seller refuses to sign the dual agency agreement, the transaction cannot continue. Once the dual agency agreement is executed, the real estate agent becomes known as the disclosed dual agent.

Disadvantages of dual agencies

Dual agency imposes some restrictions on a real estate agent. The agent is required to treat both buyer and seller with fairness and honesty.

The agent is required to provide full disclosure concerning the property to the buyer, but they cannot reveal confidential information about the seller. When the time comes to make an offer, a dual real estate agent cannot advise the buyer on how much to offer, nor can they advise the seller to accept or reject an offer.

In a New York Department of State memo, consumers are advised to be wary of dual agency relationships. The memo states that when a person enters into a dual agency relationship, they are forfeiting their right to that agent’s loyalty. The agent then cannot advance the interests of either party.

Related:

Source: zillow.com

Black Knight Adds Guided Close Functionality to eClose Platform

Black Knight said it has delivered new capabilities in the company’s Expedite Close digital closing solution to more easily facilitate fully digital real estate transactions.

“Unfortunately, with cases rising nationwide, COVID-19 will be impacting in-person closings for quite some time to come,” said Rich Gagliano, president of Black Knight Origination Technologies. “As such, the need for a comprehensive eClose solution has never been greater.”

The firm says that in addition to “leveraging advanced intelligence to choose the best, most permissible way to digitally close a loan for each jurisdiction, Expedite Close now offers detailed, document-by-document guidance to help borrowers through the closing package, allowing for a more efficient, contactless process, up to and including the remote online notarization (RON) of all necessary paperwork.”

Gagliano notes that “by giving borrowers access to the same knowledgeable insight into loan documents and line items they would typically receive in-person at the closing table, Expedite Close provides the detailed information and advanced functionality needed to complete an efficient and effective closing process in a timely manner, while operating in a secure, digital environment.”

Upon initiating an eClosing process through the Expedite Close platform, borrowers are provided “a clear overview of documents to be reviewed and signed, as well as individual tags within documents to help them make informed decisions as they complete the required tasks. These tags are configurable by the lender and help the borrower understand information within each document, such as monthly principal or interest payment amounts, prepayment penalties, and other items of importance. Expedite Close can guide borrowers through every step of the closing process, up to and including online notarization of required documents.”

Source: themortgageleader.com

What Does Home Insurance Cover? The Facts on Fire, Flooding, and More

Few things give new home buyers peace of mind about their real estate purchase as much as a solid homeowners insurance policy. This ensures that if disaster strikes—in the form of a tornado, house fire, or otherwise—homeowners won’t be on the hook to foot the bill for expensive repairs on their own.

Exactly what does home insurance cover, though? Are there any key things homeowners might assume are covered that actually aren’t?

In this latest installment of our handy Home Buyer’s Guide to Home Insurance, we’ll explain what’s covered under most insurance plans—plus some key exceptions—so you know just how soundly you can sleep at night in your new home.

What does homeowners insurance cover?

A standard home insurance policy generally covers most (but not all!) natural disasters, theft, and accidents.

For instance, when a hailstorm does a number on your roof, you’ll file a claim and your home insurance company will help you pay to get it repaired. If the damage to your home has made it uninhabitable, your insurer may even pay for a hotel room until you can move back in.

“Generally, home insurance pays to repair or rebuild your property if it is damaged by fire, wind, lightning or other natural disasters,” says Josh Herz, president of Associated Insurance and Risk Management Advisors.

“It also covers your personal belongings, additional living expenses, and liability for you and others—if, say, when someone is injured on your property and litigates for damages.”

That said, all policies are different, so you’ll want to read through your home insurance documents carefully. Plus you might be surprised by what’s not typically covered in the fine print. Here’s what you need to know.

Does home insurance cover fire?

Whether you’re grappling with damage caused by a wildfire, lightning, electrical problems, a grease fire on your stove, or even a candle you left lit by accident, take heart that most house fires will be covered by home insurance.

And good thing too, since house fires are surprisingly common, with roughly one in every 350 insurance homeowners filing a claim due to fire or lightning each year. On average, insurance companies pay out $11,971 per claim to help repair fire damage.

Does home insurance cover water damage?

Water damage is typically covered by a standard homeowner insurance policy, as long as it was sudden and accidental—i.e., a pipe freezes, bursts, and floods your basement, or your hot water heater explodes.

Roughly one in every 50 insurance homeowners files a claim for water or ice damage every year. On average, insurance companies pay out $10,849 per claim. However, not all water issues are covered (more on that next).

Does home insurance cover water leaks?

While sudden water damage is typically covered, insurance companies generally won’t cover water leaks that appear gradually due to wear and tear, or are the result of poor maintenance.

In other words, if your roof is old and springs a slow leak, or if a pipe freezes and bursts because you didn’t shut off your water supply when you were away over winter break, good luck—you could be on your own.

It’s also important to know that your insurer will help cover the damage caused by water, but it probably won’t help pay to repair or replace the source of the damage. In other words, it won’t be buying you a new dishwasher if your own appliance flooded your kitchen.

Does home insurance cover plumbing?

Since plumbing problems can result in water damage, a standard home insurance policy should cover the problem if it appears out of the blue (i.e., a burst pipe). But if your pipes are just generally leaky, old, or poorly maintained, you might be on your own.

Does home insurance cover the roof?

This depends on what caused the damage. If your roof (as well as other parts of your house) gets pummeled by wind, hail, or a healthy tree falling, this is typically covered by home insurance.

It’s a good thing, too, since approximately one in every 40 insured homeowners suffers wind and hail damage each year, with claims paying out $11,200 to fix the problem.

Yet once again, your policy won’t help you out with normal roof aging and wear and tear. You’re responsible for maintaining your roof, which will need to be replaced around every 30 years (give or take, depending on what it’s made of).

If a tree falls on your roof because it was dead or rotted out, this could constitute neglect, and you could be on your own.

Does home insurance cover hurricanes?

This also depends, since hurricanes inflict damage in one of two ways—wind and water.

Damage from wind is typically covered, although your insurer may put in place a separate, higher deductible for wind damage caused by hurricanes.

Meanwhile, flooding caused by hurricanes is typically not covered by a standard homeowner insurance policy.

Does home insurance cover theft?

If someone breaks into your home and steals some of your belongings, your insurer will typically help you pay to replace those stolen items. Similarly, if a thief damages your home during the break-in, your home insurance company will help you pay for repairs, too.

Theft is surprisingly common, with approximately one in every 400 insured homeowners suffering property damage or loss caused by theft. On average, these claims pay out $4,391 annually.

Does home insurance cover pet bites and other injuries?

If your dog (or cat!) bites someone in your home, or if a visitor trips and falls down the stairs, your guests may want you to pay for their ensuing medical bills. You might also need to pay for lost wages if the injury prevents them from working.

Most standard insurance policies include what’s known as liability coverage, which means that your insurer will help pay for these expenses if someone gets hurt on your property.

This is good for you, since the average claim for bodily injury is roughly $45,000. Approximately one in 900 insured homeowners file claims of this type every year.

While home insurance covers many calamities that might hit your home, most policies don’t cover everything. Curious to know what these notable exceptions are? More on that in a future installment of this guide. Stay tuned!

Source: realtor.com

What Happens If I Stop Paying My Mortgage?

During the current financial crisis, you may ponder the idea of simply stopping payment on your mortgage. It is an option that some may want to consider in difficult times, but it is a bad decision all the way around.

The reason: It will affect your credit for years to come and is likely to result in the loss of your home. As a topper, the bank doesn’t really want your house. Lenders are willing to help and would rather not foreclose.

So don’t adopt the tactic of pooh-poohing your payment and hoping for the best.

According to the Mortgage Bankers Association, almost 7% of all mortgage loans are currently in forbearance as of April 19. That’s up from just under 6% the week before. To give some perspective, at the beginning of March, the number was just 0.25%.

While some mortgage holders are asking for help, the temptation not to pay is real. Let’s reiterate: It is a bad idea.

What happens if I don’t pay my mortgage?

If you don’t pay your mortgage, it will set you on the path to foreclosure, which means losing your house.

A mortgage is a legal agreement in which you agree to pay a certain amount to a lender for a certain number of years. Failing to pay violates that agreement.

Right now, federal (and some state) foreclosure proceedings are paused, but they will resume as soon as the economy begins to open up again. In some states, that may be imminent. The idea behind the pause was to ensure that people made it through the shelter-in-place orders with a place to shelter.

“This is not a moratorium that [lenders] will never foreclose again,” says Mary Bell Carlson, an accredited financial counselor known as Chief Financial Mom.

“You need to take this seriously and not just stop paying. Because if you stop paying and it adds up, you’re going to be first on the list to foreclose on when the economy reopens.”

Consequences of missing payments

Mortgage payments are due the first of each month and are considered late after the 15th of the month. That’s when late fees, penalties, and correspondence from the loan servicer begin.

“First off, you’ll get a letter in the mail from your servicer which says you owe x amount and it must be paid by this date,” Carlson says. The letters will outline any penalties and late fees and will often include an offer of help.

“The bank is not in the business of owning homes—that’s not what they want to do,” she says. “They’re not looking to take over your house.”

She adds that lenders want to work out solutions to keep you in your house and avoid lengthy foreclosure proceedings.

Meanwhile, be wary if you receive a call or an email from someone saying they’re your lender and you haven’t paid. It’s probably a scam, says Carlson. Your lender will send notifications via the postal service.

Will not paying my mortgage damage my credit score?

Your loan will go into default after 30 days of nonpayment. The mortgage servicer will probably file a notice of default with your local government and report the nonpayment to the credit bureaus, which will negatively impact your credit score.

“The credit is the first thing that gets hit. Your credit will take a nosedive if you stop paying your mortgage,” Carlson says.

“If you just close your eyes and stop paying, your credit is going to dissipate, and it takes years for those things to fall off.”

A low credit score may impact your future ability to get a mortgage or to rent.

“No one is going to want to rent to somebody who has just declared bankruptcy or has been foreclosed on, because that’s going to be a huge red flag,” Carlson warns.

As you continue to miss payments, penalties, interest, and correspondence from lenders will accumulate. Eventually, you’ll get a notification that the foreclosure process is underway.

How long will it be before foreclosure?

The foreclosure process is different in each state, so the process and its length may vary. Carlson says the process often begins in earnest after about six months of nonpayment.

She added that from the time of the first missed payment to about the six-month mark, lenders will work on solutions to avoid foreclosure. But if they don’t hear from you then, be prepared to lose your home.

“At the six-month point, they say, ‘OK, all options are off the table at this point. You’re unwilling to work with us, we’re going to start foreclosure,’” says Carlson.

When this happens, the entire loan becomes due and repayment plans are no longer an option.

The timeframe varies by state, but sometimes as quickly as six months after the first missed payment, a lender can list the home for sale or hold an auction. A homeowner will have to vacate.

The current economic climate is delaying foreclosures, but proceedings will resume once states begin to lift suspension orders.

What do I do if I’m struggling to pay my mortgage?

If you’re having difficulty making mortgage payments, there are options. Some will help keep you in your house, while others will protect some of your credit. But don’t bury your head in the sand and simply stop paying.

“Communicating with your lender is the key,” Carlson advises. “So if you cannot pay, the communication methods need to—and must be—open to communicate that to your lender and discuss the options you have.”

Here are a few of the common options if you want to stay in your home:

  • Forbearance: A lender allows a borrower to pause payments for a period of temporary hardship, sometimes waiving late fees or penalties. Interest will often still accrue. At the end of the forbearance period, the missed payments become due. Forbearance is a good option if the financial situation is a short-term setback.
  • Loan modification: Changing the terms of the loan and payments is possible. Often, this involves a divorce, job change, or an unexpected increase in expenses. Loan modifications are a tactic to deploy if you want to stay in your home, but can no longer afford the current payments.
  • Repayment plan: If you are a few payments behind and think you can catch up, one option might be a repayment plan allowing you to make a lesser payment temporarily, until your finances are back on track.

Some alternatives if you don’t want to stay in your home and would rather walk away:

  • Deed-in-lieu: In exchange for partial or total debt forgiveness, you voluntarily give ownership of the home back to the lender. This is usually when foreclosure is imminent, and you can no longer afford the payments and do not want to sell the property yourself.
  • Short sale: If you want to sell the home yourself and owe more than the home is worth, you could ask your lender if you could do a short sale. The property usually sells for less than the balance of the mortgage.

These options may hurt your credit, but not as badly as a foreclosure.

For more smart financial news and advice, head over to MarketWatch.

Source: realtor.com

So You Want to Buy a Fixer-Upper: Here’s What You Need to Know

So you’ve fallen in love with a fixer-upper and dream of what it could become one day with a little bit of love and hard work, but you worry that you won’t be able to afford it. You aren’t alone.  

Read: Inspiring Photos That Will Make You Want to Buy a Fixer-Upper

Homes.com had the opportunity to partner up with Stephen and David St. Russell of the Renovation Husbands to hear what they had to say about getting into a fixer-upper home and the hoops and hurdles that come with such an investment. 

How the Renovation Husbands Got Their Start Working on Fixer-Uppers

The Russells were living in a small apartment in Boston where rent kept rising month after month. With student loans weighing heavy and only one stable income, they needed to get out of that renting nightmare. On the way to lunch with some friends, they happened to pass a home that looked like it was already in the process of being renovated, and a quick search showed that the house was for sale. This information led to an impulse decision that changed their lives. They had an offer that was accepted on the house within 2 weeks, thus beginning their journey to home ownership and a passion for renovation. 

Read: Buying a Fixer-Upper: What You Need to Look for to Maximize Your Investment

How To Begin Financing a House That Needs Serious Work

The condition of the house you are trying to buy will determine what type of financing options are available to you. For Stephen and David’s first home, they used a traditional first time home buyers loan which had a low down payment. For their second home, they used a 203k which has financing for construction costs built in and a low down payment as well, perfect for a fixer upper! The 203k loan has 2 tracks so that you can choose one that best fits the situation you are in. 

203K Loan Tracks

The first track for a 203k is for homes with much larger projects in which the amounts you can finance are regulated by your area. The second track, which is the option Stephen and David chose, is for homes that need repairs of $30,000 or less. This option has a lot fewer hurdles to allow work to get done more quickly and allow you to get into the home more quickly. In their personal experience, their house was completely gutted and they knew that it would take a huge upfront cost to get it up to liveable standards. The bank will not typically give out loans for a shell of a house like the one they were buying, so the great thing about a 203k loan is that it allows you to afford those homes that need a complete flip with the understanding that the renovations done will bring it up to code come inspection time.

To learn more about this process from the Renovation Husbands themselves, check out our live interview, “Home Renovations: What You Need to Know to Get Maximum Value.

Advice for First-Time Home Flippers

Homebuying can be a scary experience with a lot of unexpected bumps along the way and it’s an experience that people are rarely 100% prepared for. For those homes that do need some extra TLC, it can be even more of a challenge. The Renovation Husbands stress the importance of taking that leap of faith because you never know what could happen. 

“Just go for it,” David says, “you can figure it out.” 

renovation husbands fixer upperrenovation husbands fixer upper

Save as much money as possible in the beginning of the buying process. David advises, if you don’t have a huge down payment, or if you have some cash, save as much of that as possible so that you can plan for the unexpected. “As soon as you get those keys, you really don’t have very much of an idea of what’s going to happen.”

Read: The Real Costs of House Flipping that HGTV Doesn’t Show

The most valuable step Stephen and David felt that they took was going to a bank. Banks are the gateway to homebuying and will let you know what kind of loans you have, what options you have, and what you would be approved for. You don’t even need to have a home in mind, but having this important conversation will let you know what you are actually able to afford.

David wraps up the interview saying, “You’re probably better off than you think you are.” There are so many resources available to you going into this process that all you need to do is get your foot in the door. 

Read Stephen and Davi St. Russell’s entire fixer-upper story right here on our blog or you can check out our list of home improvement, design, and finance articles to get your fixer-upper into tip-top shape.


Ashley Shoop

Ashley is currently a student in Marketing Management at Virginia Tech.  Go Hokies!  She loves being outside in the sun, can’t live without Taco Bell or coffee, and loves interning with Homes.com!

Source: homes.com

A Guide To Everything You Need To Know About Home Ownership Costs [Free Download]

Along with the excitement of purchasing a new home, comes the additional costs that you will be expected to pay as a homeowner. Apart from covering the mortgage of your home, you’ll have additional expenses – such as home insurance – that you will be expected to cover. If you’re looking to budget for a home purchase, it’s important that you consider these costs as they can add up to thousands of dollars each year.

To help you make educated decisions when budgeting, we’ve compiled a list of the major home ownership costs in one free, downloadable guide. Get the Home Ownership Costs to Consider guide here.

Home Insurance

Home insurance policies help protect against serious damage and destruction, like fires, leaks, floods, or break-ins. It also protects a homeowner from personal liability. Some banks may offer home insurance products, although you can typically purchase a home insurance policy through a home insurance agent or broker. 

Tip: You may get better rates if you use a broker or agent. It’s also important to keep in mind that policies typically renew on an annual basis.

Condo Fees

The cost of maintenance fees should be taken into account when you’re buying a condo. This recurring cost is in addition to your mortgage and impacts how much home you can afford. 

Your mandatory monthly fee will vary by your building and square footage. It typically covers:

  • Utilities (such as water and garbage collection)
  • Building insurance
  • Maintenance of common areas (such as the gym, pool, front desk, hallways, landscaping)
  • Building reserve fund (covers emergencies and long-term maintenance projects such as a new roof or elevators repairs)

What Are Status Certificates?

If you’re looking to purchase a condo, you’ll want to look into obtaining a status certificate so that you have as much information about the building and your unit as possible before buying. A status certificate provides valuable information about the condo corporation and its financial

situation. It includes details on the budget, legal issues, the reserve fund, maintenance fees, and any fee increases expected in the future. 

Tip: You’ll want to carefully review your status certificate with your lawyer before making a purchase.

Property Tax

Property taxes are paid annually by homeowners to their municipality. These taxes are ongoing and are separate from your mortgage. Your annual property tax can often be paid in installments.

Tip: It’s important to remember that this cost is not due at closing, but is a recurring cost.

How Are Property Taxes Calculated?

Your property tax rate will vary depending on the value of your property as assessed by your provincial assessment authority. This is then multiplied by a rate that falls between 0.5% to 2.5%.

How Do You Pay Property Taxes?

You can pay your property taxes either through your mortgage provider or directly to your municipality. 

Your Utility Bills

When you purchase a home, you’ll have to set up or transfer your utility bills to your new home. If you live in a condo, these costs may be included in your monthly maintenance fee. Your utility bill will include:

  • Hydro (electricity)
  • Heat
  • Water and Garbage
  • Internet, Phone, Cable

For the full details on the home buyer’s journey including examples, advice, pictures and sample calculations, download a copy of our free Home Ownership Costs to Consider Guide here.

Source: zoocasa.com

5 Tips for Building a Side Business

By

Laura Adams, MBA
September 2, 2020

Money-Smart Solopreneur: A Personal Finance System for Freelancers, Entrepreneurs, and Side-Hustlers, you’ll learn practical strategies for building a solo business while keeping the security of a regular job.

Tips for building a business on the side

Becoming your own boss may seem glamorous from the outside, but it can have stressful pitfalls, such as little pay, no insurance benefits, and unpredictable clients. However, you can avoid or minimize some of the downsides by maintaining a reliable day job while you grow your solo business.

Having the security of a job and the excitement of becoming a solopreneur gives you lots of upside with much less risk. A steady paycheck may give you the confidence you need to take business risks—such as buying more advertising, equipment, or software—that will make your venture more profitable.

Having the security of a job and the excitement of becoming a solopreneur gives you lots of upside with much less risk.

Aside from maintaining a reliable income stream, being both an employee and an entrepreneur can make you a better worker. In my experience, growing a side business also builds skills and experiences that make you more effective at your regular job. You may even find your side hustle revives an appreciation for your day job. There’s a lot to like about having a salary, benefits, and other perks, after all.

Whether you decide to be both an employee and your own boss for weeks or years, it will take some juggling to manage successfully. Here are five tips to face your career fears responsibly and prepare for the future by adding entrepreneurship to your resume on the side.

Define your vision for success

Before changing your job or making the transition from employee to self-employed solopreneur, take the time to define what you truly want to achieve in your career. Sometimes your ideas about success come from other people, and they can cause you to follow a career path that never truly fulfills you.

Maybe your boss thinks you should regularly work late so you can climb the corporate ladder, or a parent says you should go to graduate school. You might take a lucrative job in a field you’re not crazy about because that’s what your friends are doing. But if that job requires frequent travel when all you truly want is to start a family, care for aging parents, or spend time enjoying where you live, you’ll never be happy.

Never let external markers of success, such as a big paycheck or a fancy job title, become more important than your heartfelt calling and goals for your life.

If you don’t pause periodically to reflect on what success means to you, it becomes easier to follow other people’s priorities when it comes to your work. If your decisions aren’t purposefully leading you toward a life that excites you, you’ll likely wander away from what you genuinely want.

Never let external markers of success, such as a big paycheck or a fancy job title, become more important than your heartfelt calling and goals for your life.

That said, getting in touch with your real desires isn’t always easy, and you might have to listen carefully to hear your inner voice. Try incorporating some quiet time into your daily routine. When you first wake up or when you’re settling down at bedtime, think about what you’re grateful for—but also what you’d like your life to be. Consider your definition of success and any changes you’d like to make to your life in the near and distant future.

Ask yourself the following questions to better understand your values and get clarity on your unique vision for success:

  • What type of work makes me happiest? 
  • Where do I want to live? 
  • What types of people do I want in my work life?
  • What does a good life mean to me?

This exercise isn’t something you do once to figure out the arc of your entire life. You need to come back to these fundamental questions during different seasons of your life and career, because the answers may change, sometimes repeatedly.

Over time, your working life is sure to change, in both good and bad ways. When you find yourself getting restless or feeling like you want more from your job, slow down and become more introspective. It can reveal a lot about what your next career or business move should be.

RELATED: How to Create Your Own Self-Employed Benefits Package 

Create a side gig

Even when you’re clear about what you want, one of the fastest ways to ruin your financial future is to take a flying leap from a steady paycheck. Jumping from a day job into an uncertain, full-time venture too early could mean trouble. You might face significant financial struggles and even get into debt. Many businesses take years of hard work before they’re profitable enough to support you.

If you slowly add entrepreneurial experience to your career, you’re likely to gain a variety of skills that will make you more valuable to employers.

Hanging on to your day job gives you the financial security you need to try out new business ideas, especially if you have a spouse, partner, or kids who depend on your income.

The best side gigs combine work that you’re excited about with something that you’re uniquely positioned to provide. These businesses may also come with a large existing customer base or appeal to customers who are willing to pay you well for the skills and experience you offer.

I was a part-time entrepreneur for a decade before I said goodbye to my employer. I enjoyed having a mix of job stability and entrepreneurial upside. Plus, I found that expanding my career by adding self-employment to a W-2 job made me much better at both.

If you slowly add entrepreneurial experience to your career, you’re likely to gain a variety of skills that will make you more valuable to employers. It may be easier to experiment with business-formation ideas when you have less financial stress or know a side gig could actually complement your existing career.

The bottom line is that creating a business on the side protects your income, diversifies your network, and improves your skills, instead of leaving you financially vulnerable. If you enjoy your entrepreneurial work and find that it pairs well with your day job, the benefits and personal growth can really pay off.

Negotiate your job flexibility

If you plan to start a business on the side, or you already have, you know you’ll be working more, perhaps a lot more. You might need to work early in the morning, late at night, or on weekends to fit it all in. That could stress your relationships or cause you to burn out if you don’t take some precautions.

Consider some different ways that you can tailor your business for your day job, and vice versa.

Once you’re confident about your business idea or begin seeing increasing revenues, you may find that you need more flexibility in your schedule. At that point, consider some different ways that you can tailor your business for your day job, and vice versa.

In 2008, my employer began feeling the financial pinch of the Great Recession. My podcasting and blogging career had started to take off by that point, so instead of allowing my position to get downsized, I proposed a solution that my boss liked. I’d work four days a week for a couple of months and then go down to three days a week for the rest of the year. Then we’d reevaluate where the company stood and discuss whether he could still afford to keep me on as an employee.

My employer would save money by paying me less, and I’d have more time to work on creating content, partnering with brands, and writing my first book, while still having a regular paycheck coming in. If I hadn’t suggested that solution, my company wouldn’t have known that I was willing to cut my hours. I didn’t offer to tell my boss what my plans were for my newfound free time, and he didn’t ask.

You may be able to negotiate with your employer for more schedule flexibility.

You too may be able to negotiate with your employer for more flexibility. You might ask to work fewer hours, to maintain the same total number of hours but work fewer days per week, or to work from home a day or two each week.

If you have a long commute or spend a significant amount of time getting ready, packing a lunch, and getting out the door in the morning, working remotely could save a lot more time than you think. Then you can invest that saved time in your side business.

Find more time in your day

If you can’t get more flexibility or you worry that even asking for it could put your day job in jeopardy, there are other options. One is to structure non-negotiable time for your business into your day. For instance, make a rule that you’ll step away from your desk for a solid hour (or longer if possible) during lunch to accomplish something meaningful for your business.

Find a nearby cafe or reserve a conference room in your office where you can work and eat undisturbed. I did that for many years, and it’s incredible how much you can accomplish in 45 minutes if you truly focus. If you can’t find enough quiet or privacy in your office, you could even work in your car.

It’s incredible how much you can accomplish in 45 minutes if you truly focus.

If working on your business during your lunch hour isn’t possible with your day job, consider coming to the office an hour earlier or staying later. You could also work on your business in a nearby coffee shop or a co-working space (where drop-in memberships can often be had for the same price as joining a gym) before or after your job. The idea is to create a routine that builds in regular time to focus entirely on your venture and to complete essential tasks.

Another option is to outsource a portion of your work. If you can afford to delegate tasks to freelancers, that can help you balance your to-do lists.

When your day job is so unpredictable that it prevents you from working on your side gig for long periods, consider getting a different job with a more reliable schedule. If you’re truly committed to getting your business off the ground, you may need a position with more flexibility so you can do both more easily.

Have a solid exit strategy

Having an exit strategy is a common concept in the business world. Partners and investors want to know what will happen after clearly defined milestones are reached, such as taking a company public or selling it after a certain profit margin is achieved.

But employees should create exit strategies, too. It’s a great way to force yourself to think about the future and what you would or should do next. With a W-2 job, you never know what’s around the corner.

It’s wise to start every professional relationship with an idea of how it could end.

Your company could suddenly downsize after a merger or an unexpected loss of market share. Your department could be reorganized after new leadership begins. All these scenarios have happened to me at some point in my career.

It’s wise to start every professional relationship with an idea of how it could end. This ensures that you’re never caught entirely off-guard. Knowing that you’ve thought about the end of a job or a business partnership can make you feel more secure about a potential split.

If you’re unprepared for an interruption in work or business income, it can be devastating to your emotional and financial life. So whether you’re laid off or you voluntarily quit, prepare for it now.

If you have a financial runway to find new opportunities or you’ve built an income from a side business, quitting or getting fired can be a positive experience. Having a good exit strategy can make the difference between feeling crushed by a job loss or becoming empowered by it.


About the Author

Laura Adams, MBA

Source: quickanddirtytips.com

First Time Home Buyers

Stock Market Today: Stocks Flat Amid Drama in D.C.

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Stock prices were generally unchanged in light trading Wednesday as a major rally in Intel (INTC, +7%) and tame inflation data offset the spectacle of the U.S. House of Representatives’ impeachment debate.

Intel, which features prominently in all three major indices, touched a six-month high on news it will replace CEO Bob Swan with VMware (VMW, -6.8%) CEO Pat Gelsinger next month. The chipmaker’s stock was the top performer in the Dow Jones Industrial Average, which finished flat at 31,060.

Meanwhile, the Labor Department’s monthly reading on consumer prices showed inflation remained muted in December, rising at a pace of just 1.4%. Bond yields eased on the inflation data, which also helped keep many stocks above water.

The benchmark S&P 500 ticked up 0.2% to finish at 3,809, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite added 0.4% to close at 13,128.

Other action in the stock market today:

Investors should be looking beyond the day-to-day distractions in Washington, D.C.

Rather, they should be focusing on future stimulus measures, vaccine progress and the improved outlook for the economy.

“Many are expecting economic growth to surprise to the upside as more people get vaccinated and resume traveling, going out to eat, and other leisure activities,” says Brian Price, head of investment management for Commonwealth Financial Network.

Against that backdrop, market strategists expect cyclical names like financial stocks to outperform. The same bullish view applies to midcap stocks, which typically outpace their larger peers as the economy recovers.

Indeed, many of the best stocks to buy for the year ahead have cyclical tailwinds. Have a look at some of the pros’ favorite stock picks for 2021.

Source: kiplinger.com

Building Credit Credit Repair Financial Clarity

What’s the Fastest Way to Boost My Credit?

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October 29, 2018 &• min read by Jeanine Skowronski Comments 0 Comments

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Disclaimer

Article originally published September 1st, 2016. Updated October 29th, 2018. 

It’s a common question around these parts: how do I fix my credit? And, while credit scores do have a lot of nuances, the answer is actually pretty straightforward: pay all your bills by their due dates, keep your debt levels low, add a mix of accounts as you can afford it and voila! — your credit score should rise steadily over time.

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  • Did you ever figure out what was going on with your credit?
  • Nope, all I know is, it’s still bad
  • Yikes. You should try Lexington Law.
  • A law firm for my credit?
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Still, for people plagued with bad credit or someone looking to get the absolute best rates on a new loan, waiting it out can seem like an unattractive option — and so the question gets a little more pointed: how do I fix my credit fast?

Truth be told, there are no guarantees when it comes to getting a quick credit boost. Exact point increases will vary depending on your full credit profile and, even if you’re teetering toward top-tier credit, your score’s beholden to a lender’s schedule when it comes to reporting new information to the major credit bureaus.

Most creditors provide updates to the big three bureaus every month — meaning, yes, you can boost your credit in 30 days, but any shorter timeframe is admittedly a long shot.

Still, there are few steps you can take to try to raise your credit score in the short-term. Here’s a breakdown of ten of your best options.

Credit utilization ratio— how much debt you’re carrying vs. your total available credit — is a huge part of credit scores, second only to payment history. But while you can’t just erase a missed payment from your credit file (most negative information takes seven years to age off of your credit reports), you can pretty readily boost your utilization rate by wiping out big credit card debts.

Experts generally recommend keeping the amount of debt you owe collectively and on individual cards below at least 30% and ideally 10% of your credit limit(s).

So, if you’re close to maxing out one card and/or you’re carrying big balances on all of them, paying those debts down can result in a fast boost. Just be sure to pay charges off by your statement’s billing date as opposed to their actual due date because that’s when most creditors will update account information with the credit bureaus.

And, of course, refrain from making any new purchases once the debt’s been eradicated.

Essentially, a different solution to the same problem — you may be able to improve your utilization rate by getting an issuer to give you a higher limit on one of your existing cards. Just be sure not to use up that extra credit. Otherwise, this move can have the opposite effect.

And be prepared to see an initial ding to your score — creditors sometimes pull your credit when you ask for a limit increase, and that could generate a hard inquiry on your credit reports and cost you a few points.

You might easily make up those points and then some, however, if the credit limit increase is large enough.

Errors on credit reports are more common than you may think, so it’s important not to simply take a bad score at face value — particularly because getting an error removed can be one of the faster ways to fix your credit.

The Fair Credit Reporting Act requires that the bureaus investigate and remove items deemed to be errors within 30 days of a dispute being filed.

That’s why it’s a good idea to pull your credit reports — you can do so for free each year at AnnualCreditReport.com — and routinely review them for any inaccuracies that may be unduly weighing your credit down.

Once you receive a copy of your credit reports from the three major credit bureaus- Experian, Equifax, and Transunion, you can take a closer look at each item that is on there.

You have already read about getting an error removed, and this is a good step to take, but don’t stop there. Look for accounts you have on your credit profile that show late or missing payments and verify the accuracy of each item. If you see something that is wrong, send your dispute so that the problem can be investigated.

Yes, you may be paying your balances each month, and you are paying them on time, but you need to keep in mind that your creditors are reporting your balances to the credit bureaus only once per month.

If you have a credit card, for example, that you are constantly maxing out and reaching your limit on throughout the month, the statement you receive will show the balance. You make the payment, but since it was reported only once that month, it is basically showing that you are using 100% of the available balance on that credit card.

If you send in payments twice a month, however, you are essentially breaking up your payments, and you are effectively keeping your overall credit card balances much lower than if you continue to only pay once per month.

Call: 1.844.346.3296or learn more

If you want a nice boost to your credit and you want to help improve your credit utilization ratio, you can consider opening a new credit account. This is especially helpful if you find that your current credit utilization ratio is much too high.

Opening the new account adds to the available credit you have and will show that with the new balance, you are using less. However, this is not a good option if you are already juggling multiple accounts. You may end up hurting your credit instead of helping it if you try to stretch your credit too thin.

Have you taken a closer look at the current debt you owe? Have you considered negotiating the debt you have in collections to rebuild your credit? Many collection agencies will be willing to negotiate because they really won’t be losing any money on the debt if you are able to settle for less because they most likely bought the debt account for a minimal price.

It never hurts to open a negotiation to try and settle the debt you have for a smaller and more manageable amount on your credit accounts. If you find that you are unsure about this process, or if you don’t know if it is something you should do, you can always seek the help of a credit counselor to help educate you on the process and offer suggestions as to what you can do otherwise.

Another fast way to boost your credit could be to become an authorized user on someone else’s credit account. For this to be a viable and recommended option, you will need to find someone you trust, such as a close friend or relative, that is financially responsible and is willing to do this for you to help improve your credit rating.

As an authorized user on someone else’s account, their account will still show up on your credit report, and their payment history, credit utilization ratio, and credit card balances will become part of your credit history and may award you with a good credit score.  Not all credit card companies report authorized users however, so you will want to make sure that if you do become an authorized user, that the account information will show up on your credit reports.

In addition to paying on your accounts twice a month, you should also make sure to make your payments on time every month. Your payment history makes up approximately 35% of your FICO score.

If you find it hard to remember your due dates, consider placing your accounts on auto pay with reminders so it reminds you that the payment is coming due and it will then automatically make the payment for you.

Finally, make sure you are mixing up your credit choices instead of focusing on using just your credit cards, for example. Using different types of credit can boost your score fast – even though it wouldn’t be a significant boost.

If you need an appliance, instead of using your credit card, you should consider a small personal loan instead. It shows that you can effectively and responsibly utilize different types of credit.

One of the biggest hits to your credit is a bankruptcy and people are often anxious and ready to begin boosting their credit following their bankruptcy. In theory, someone looking for credit after a bankruptcy may actually appear to be less of a risk because they are not able to qualify for Chapter 7 for another eight years.

Following your bankruptcy, it is recommended that you make all your payments on time, learn how to manage your money efficiently, and find ways to reestablish your credit without trying to borrow money too soon and this could prove to be the fastest way to build credit.

You should also keep a very close eye on your credit reports and credit scores from the major credit bureaus and look for any errors or inaccuracies including any mistakes with your address, employment, or personal contact information.

The best way to start improving credit following a bankruptcy is to open a secured credit card account and make your first deposit into the account.

Although these ten strategies are a good start to finding the fastest way to boost your credit, you need to remember that it still may take several months for the credit reporting agencies to report the improvements on your credit report.

While they may be “fast” methods, they are certainly not miracle credit cures, so you need to have a fair amount of patience when it comes to seeing the positive effects on your credit report.

Be sure to dispute any errors you find with the credit bureau in question (you go here to learn how). You can also view two of your credit scores for free each month on Credit.com as you monitor your progress toward building better credit.

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Source: credit.com

Financial Advisor

6 Reasons Why Your Budget Doesn’t Work (And How To Fix It)

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If you are not using a written budget (paper, spreadsheet or even an app), you are not alone.  According to a 2016 study, only 41% of Americans have a written budget.  That means more than 50% of American households are operating without a budget!!

how to make a budget work

how to make a budget work

Just because you have a budget does not mean you will be successful.  Following a budget is not easy. If it were, we would see more people using one than trying to ignore it altogether.

Even the most diligent people can have a tough time getting used to, and implementing, spending constraints within a budget. This can cause those budgets to bust and quite often fail.

Why does this happen? Why is it that so many budgets never work?  We’ve got six of the most common reasons budgets do not work.

WHY YOUR BUDGET IS NOT WORKING (AND HOW TO FIX IT)

1. Your budget is unrealistic

Who wouldn’t love to spend just $50 a month on fuel and $200 on groceries?  That would be incredible, wouldn’t it?  However, that is not the way it works.  You need to be completely honest about the numbers you include in your budget.

The fix:  One of the easiest ways to do this is by creating and reviewing a spending plan.This simple form will help you analyze and track your real life spending over the course of a month.  You might want to see that your budget shows $200 for groceries.  But, if you are spending $550, your budget will not work. Be honest and make sure your budget truly reflects the way you shop.

Read More: How to Create a Spending Plan

2. Forgetting items

When planning out a budget, did you remember that you have that birthday next week?  What about needing to purchase new tires for your vehicle?  You need to make sure that you are accounting for every expense which might come up over the course of the month.

The fix: Take time at the end of each month to look ahead and determine events and things coming up, such as the vacation or the birthday.  Make adjustments to the next month’s budget (but if you are really smart, you are already saving for these monthly, and the payments can come from your savings account rather than your budget).

3. You keep overspending

Another reason your budget doesn’t work is that you spend more than you make.   You have to make changes to your budget.

The issue is that many do not want to do this.  They just can’t.  If you are spending more than you make, your budget will never work.  You must change your spending habits to have a successful budget.

The fix: You may need to scale back on dining out or entertainment. It could be extreme enough that you need to cut expenses, such as cable, directly from your budget.

Read More:  How to Prevent Overspending

4. Not monitoring it

A budget is not a “one and done” financial goal.  A budget is always changing to due to income fluctuations, life events and more. Your budget will need to be frequently checked to make sure it aligns with your needs.

The fix:  Update your budget monthly, by scheduling a due date on your calendar.  There are times when adjustments will not be needed, but other times, you will need to tweak it.  You might find that you are budgeting $500 for groceries, but costs have gone up, and so now you spend $575.  That means you have to fix the budget to stay in line with what you need.

Read More:  How to Create and Use a Cash Budget

5. Forgetting emergencies

Life has a funny way of throwing curveballs your way when you least expect it.  What happens if the furnace goes out or your son breaks his arm?  These items are not on your budget, and there was no way to plan for them.

The fix:  You need must have an emergency fund.  Money needs to be set aside each month to cover these expenses which come up.  That means you need to add it as a line item on your budget and always save so you don’t blow your budget in these moments.

Read More:  How to Quickly Boost Your Emergency Fund

6. Not giving it enough time

Another reason your budget does not work is that you quit before it has a chance to work.

If all professional athletes quit practicing after just one month, we would have no professional sports.  The same is true with your budget.  If you give up when it gets hard or don’t try, then you are destined to fail.

The fix:  Keep in mind that the first 3 – 4 months are going to be rough.  These are the months when you are going to have to make a lot of changes to the budget so that it will work for you.  Once you get through this period, it will get easier, and you will be glad you did not quit or give up.

A budget is not fun. If it were everyone would have one, and it would work perfectly. No one would fail.  However, that is not reality.  It takes a lot of hard work and dedication, but when you stick to it, the rewards will be worth it.

budget doesn't work

budget doesn't work

Source: pennypinchinmom.com