Take these 4 steps to clean up your financial house

Take these 4 steps to clean up your financial house

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Building Wealth, Education, Equality, Financial Independence, Financial Wellness, United States

(BPT)

Are you feeling good about your finances? Or do phrases like “account balance,” “credit score” and “retirement savings” give you a twinge of anxiety?

Don’t worry, you’re in good company. Only 24 percent of the millennial generation have basic financial literacy, according to the National Endowment for Financial Education. When it comes to getting their financial house in order, most millennials would prefer not to set foot in that proverbial house in the first place. Getting yourself out of debt and building enough savings to cover your expenses in an emergency is a marathon, not a sprint. Establishing small, incremental changes in your financial habits today can make a big difference in your financial health months or even years from now.

Here are a few steps you can take today to spruce up your money management process and get yourself on the path to financial health. Stay on track with your plan, and a year from now, you should be better off.

  • Check your credit score. Before you start the work of realigning your finances, you should start by checking your credit score and reviewing your credit report. It helps to know where you stand financially, and the good news is, even if your credit score is not as high as you’d like it to be, you can take steps to improve it. Establishing a history of on-time payments and maintaining a healthy credit utilization ratio are two things that could improve your credit score in a short time. One way to access your credit score without any cost is to find out if your bank or lender offers your VantageScore for free through their website.
  • Make a plan to knock down your debt. Track down all your accounts — checking, savings, investment, credit cards and other loans — and do the math to find out your net worth. That’s your benchmark to help you track your process, but in the beginning, the truth can hurt. However, knowing how much you have in savings and knowing how much you owe gives you a valuable blueprint on where you need to direct your energy. From there, put together a household budget, and figure out where you can trim expenses, so you can pay ahead on your debts, one account at a time.
  • Automate your savings. You’re much more likely to accumulate savings when you make the decision once and let the rest happen automatically. Log onto your bank account and set up an automatic transfer from checking to savings, starting with a small amount, preferably timed with your regular pay day. If you can manage to set aside $85 a month, in a year’s time, you’ll have set aside a full $1,000. That’s a decent emergency fund for things like car repairs and doctor bills.
  • Open a retirement account. Here’s another way to automate savings. If you haven’t done so already, start contributing to a retirement plan. Even better, if your employer makes both a plan and a match available to employees, sign up as soon as you can. If you can’t afford to contribute the full amount to get the full match, start with a small percentage, and slowly add on.

Taking the first steps to gain control of your finances isn’t easy. Using this time to set up good financial habits today can get you in a better place tomorrow. Test your credit score knowledge at CreditScoreQuiz.org, and be sure to visit VantageScore Solutions to learn what things influence your score, and what you can do to improve it.

One school’s impact on the city of Chicago / Building Wealth through Education

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Building Wealth, Education, Equality, Financial Independence, Financial Wellness, United States

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One hundred years ago, the poet Carl Sandburg famously called Chicago the “hog butcher of the world,” and the “nation’s freight handler.” The character of the city has changed with each decade, and throughout the years.

Chicago has established itself as an educational hub, with world-class research universities, robust community colleges and ample opportunity for people to earn degrees and get ahead in life.

A force of change

During uncertain times, Chicago’s colleges and universities have stood as a guiding light for the city, signaling hope, change and opportunity.

In a city that has long had neighborhoods underserved and marked by economic hardship — one university has had a particularly strong impact on the community and the city as a whole: St. Xavier University (SXU).

For more than 170 years, a mission to serve the community and inspire future generations to succeed and make a difference has guided the university.

One school's impact on the city of Chicago
One school’s impact on the city of Chicago

As the city has changed, this core mission has adapted to serve students in the 21st century. Through the dedication of students, faculty and staff, the university has been acknowledged as a source of growth in the community in the following ways:

  • Ranked No. 4 in Illinois for helping underserved students overcome barriers to complete their bachelor’s degrees, according to the Illinois Education Research Council’s 2017 report.
  • Stable and optimal student-to-faculty ratio of 14-to-1.
  • Two-thirds of the student body are the first in their family to attend college.
  • As part of the university’s mission, SXU directs academic programs and units to partner with local, national or international nonprofit, public, private or faith-based organizations to provide opportunities for engagement, scholarship or service/service learning for students, faculty and staff.

Degrees that open doors

While Chicago’s universities and colleges are the pride of the city, the question on almost every parent’s and incoming student’s mind is: What will I get out of the financial investment?

The School of Nursing and Health Sciences at SXU offers top-ranked programs in the high-demand fields of nursing, speech pathology, exercise science and more. The job market for certified nurses is expected to grow by 16 percent during this decade.

This combination of high-ranking programs in growing career fields has led U.S. News and World Report to call SXU one of the best-value schools for students.

St. Xavier University is a strong example of how universities are reviving the city of Chicago and opening doors for those who may have thought those doors were closed.

Simplida™ - So You Can! - Financial Wellness Solutions
Simplida™ – So You Can! – Financial Wellness Solutions
How your lawn equipment is harming the environment

How your lawn equipment is harming the environment

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Environment, Health & Wellness

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Summer is upon us and our yards are beginning to bloom. The grass needs to be cut, the hedges trimmed and the debris blown away. This is an exciting time of year as we all look forward to getting outdoors after a longer than desired winter season.

As we begin our list of warm-weather chores, is it possible that our lawn equipment is actually harming the environment? Unfortunately, the answer could be yes, depending on the type of equipment you’re using to keep your lawn in tip-top shape. If you’re still using gas-powered outdoor gear, here are some important facts that you should know, according to Ted Steinberg’s American Green:

  • A gas-powered walk-behind mower running for one hour emits as much pollution as eight cars operating for the same period of time.
  • A riding lawn mower emits as much pollution as 34 cars operating for the same period of time.
  • In the U.S. alone, 17 million gallons of fuel are spilled into the ground every year during the refueling of lawn and garden equipment.

Now that you know some of these shocking statistics, what can you do to make a difference?

Fortunately, thanks to advancements in technology, there are now viable alternatives to gas-powered lawn equipment. Battery-powered outdoor gear delivers the same power and run-time of equivalent gas equipment, and battery-powered options completely eliminate harmful emissions. Importantly, battery-powered gear doesn’t require the mixing and pouring of gasoline and is quieter, lighter and easier to use than gas models.

The good news is that people are making the change from gas to battery-powered equipment. For the first time in 2017, more battery-powered leaf blowers were sold than gas models, according to TraQline. Hopefully, with your help, that trend will continue to grow across all product categories in the future. For more information on battery-powered tools and how you can make a difference when working on your lawn, visit greenworkstools.com.

Simplida™ - So You Can! - Financial Wellness Solutions
Simplida™ – So You Can! – Financial Wellness Solutions
Make the most of your landscaping projects this year with these tips

Make the most of your landscaping projects this year with these tips

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Building Wealth, Building Wealth Through Home Ownership, Financial Wellness, Real Estate

(BPT)

Home improvement projects aren’t constrained to a single season, but during these warmer months, your focus is no longer simply on your home’s indoors. Now there’s outdoor yard work to do as well, and if you’re looking to recreate your outdoor space, your outside projects may include some landscaping. If you have landscaping as part of your to-do list this season, the right strategy can ensure that you get the most benefit from your landscaping goals with the least amount of a headache.

To that end, here are five tips to simplify your landscaping projects this year.

Plan for the entire year.

Landscaping projects can be hard work, and because of that, you deserve to enjoy them for as long as possible. That’s why it’s important to plan your landscaping layout with the entire year in mind. Research your plant and flower options based on bloom periods and plant a variety so your yard is always being introduced to new pops of color. You should also add evergreen shrubs and other such plant life to your overall plan to give you a spot of color in the winter and preserve your landscaping look.

Be mindful of other tools outside your home.

When developing your landscaping strategy, you need to be aware not only of your home but the other vital components outside as well. Many homeowners are not mindful of their home’s HVAC units and may place landscaping solutions too close to the unit, which makes it difficult for techs to service the unit and exposes your system to the harmful effects of debris. Instead, plan to keep all landscaping at least two feet away from your HVAC system. This allows units like the Champion Momentum Variable Capacity Residential System to operate at peak efficiency and allows service techs to utilize its built-in advanced monitoring system to provide accurate readouts for faster annual service, maximized service life and improved comfort in your home.

Touch every corner of your yard.

Your home is naturally the focal point of your yard, but it doesn’t have to be the only one. Creating a berm — a mound-type space that you can fill with rocks, wood chips or a flower garden — can add a pop of color and visual appeal to an otherwise plain area. These visual attractions can be placed anywhere, but adding one to an otherwise deserted corner of your yard is a great way to tie the entire space together and make the most of an unused area.

Add plants that fit your lifestyle.

When planning your landscaping project, it’s important to remember this isn’t just a one-time solution. Your landscaping will need continual work, and as such, your landscaping plan should be based partly on the time you have to dedicate to the project. For example, if you’re a person who appreciates beautifully colorful flowers but doesn’t want to replant them every year, you should start your project by planting perennials instead of annuals. Your time commitment in year one will be roughly the same, but you’ll ease your time requirements in the years ahead.

Monitor your budget.

Like many things, a lavish landscaping project can get away from you very quickly in the financial department. Veteran landscapers know that it becomes very easy to get swept up in the project and before you know it, you’ve added a slightly larger tree or another bush or two. Then you suddenly have unexpected costs heading your way. Instead of ending your exciting project on a bad note with a higher bill, plan out your budget ahead of time. Try to get as specific as possible with where you plan to spend every dollar. The more you can hold to each line item in your budget, the better you’ll be able to avoid unnecessary expenses throughout the process.

Making landscaping improvements to your yard can be a fun and rewarding project provided you follow a strategy that makes the best use of your time and money. Apply the tips above and you’ll be rewarded with a beautifully landscaped yard that you can enjoy every day of the year. To learn more about the Champion Momentum Variable Capacity Residential System, visit championhomecomfort.com.

Simplida™ - So You Can! - Financial Wellness Solutions
Simplida™ – So You Can! – Financial Wellness Solutions

Alternative financing options work for growing small businesses

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Building Wealth, Financial Independence, Financial Wellness, Small Business

(BPT)

How businesses access working capital has shifted, as traditional methods haven’t kept pace with the speed of business.

Growth is one of the biggest indicators of small business success. According to the Small Business Administration (SBA), more than 500,000 businesses have between 20 and 99 employees as of 2014. These established businesses are in the upper end of growth but have not yet met the threshold of being a medium business. In fact, 39 percent of growing companies — between three to five years old and seeking more than $100,000 — consider accessibility to capital their greatest concern. It’s during this stage businesses typically are faced with growth challenges.

Where can they turn for funding? These three alternative options may be worth considering.

1. Lines of credit

Lines of credit, provided by online lending platforms like Kabbage, offer established businesses in all industries the flexibility and convenience of accessible capital.

With Kabbage there are no fees to apply for a line of credit or annual costs to access funding. Small businesses don’t pay a thing to see for how much their business can qualify. Kabbage offers access to lines of credit up to $250,000, helping small to mid-market businesses access funding for operational costs and strategic investments like cash flow needs, purchasing specialized equipment, business expansions and launching high-growth marketing projects. There are also no obligations in how much a business is required to take. Businesses can take the amount they need from the line of credit when they need it, with no hidden fees or pre-payment penalties.

Lines of credit are faster and more flexible than traditional loans. In fact, Kabbage offers a loan application that can be finished in minutes — even through a mobile app — eliminating the time usually spent waiting in lines or filling out numerous forms.

2. Merchant cash advances

Some established businesses turn to a merchant cash advance (MCA) due to lower credit ratings, not having enough assets to provide as collateral, short-term financing needs or the flexible repayment terms.

Essentially, an MCA is an advance on future credit card payments. The cash advance is decided upon by the funding company, with the specific amount being paid back in full plus fees and interest.

With merchant cash advances, borrowers pay a set percentage of their credit card sales and make payments every time they receive credit card payments from clients.

3. Invoice factoring

Alternative financing options work for growing small businesses
Alternative financing options work for growing small businesses

Invoice factoring is another funding option established businesses use in lieu of bank loans. Factoring is the process of selling accounts receivables to a financing company for immediate cash.

Factoring helps businesses receive cash much faster than waiting for clients to pay their invoices. The financing company, known as the “factor,” pays the business the majority of the invoice upfront. Once the business receives payment from the client, they send those funds to the factor. The factor then pays the remaining percentage to the business.

Factors are more concerned with the financial health of the business’s clients rather than the business itself. These companies collect directly from a company’s clients and customers, sometimes requiring payment history validation from the business. A benefit of factoring is not assuming debt for money received; however, if clients are not creditworthy, you may not receive funding.

To maximize this growth, consider looking online at www.kabbage.com/yes to learn about and find new options that fit your business. Merchant cash advances, invoice factoring, and lines of credit are three alternative solutions that help growing businesses go beyond traditional financing methods.

Simplida™ - So You Can! - Financial Wellness Solutions
Simplida™ – So You Can! – Financial Wellness Solutions
5 home-buying tips for first-timers and old-timers

5 home-buying tips for first-timers and old-timers

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Building Wealth, Building Wealth Through Home Ownership, Equality, Financial Independence, Financial Wellness, Real Estate

(BPT)

Whether you are buying a home for the first time or you are just looking for an upgrade, it is never a bad idea to arm yourself with tips that can make your search go from overwhelming to enjoyable. Rather than learning the hard way about hidden expenses and difficult neighbors, there are things you can do to feel more confident as you begin your search.

With a seller’s market in many parts of the country, these tips are even more important as you battle other buyers for the home of your dreams. The more efficient and straightforward you are in your search, the better chance you’ll have to hear “offer accepted.”

Consider all the costs

When starting the home-buying journey, the first thing to consider is the cost and expenses. When pre-approved for a mortgage of a certain amount, keep in mind that number is not a target — it is a maximum. While a seller’s market often means little wiggle room on price, your best bet is to find a property below that number so you have a financial cushion when negotiations happen.

It is important to remember the mortgage is not the total cost of your home. It usually only covers principal, interest, property taxes and homeowner’s insurance premiums. Homeownership involves many other expenses like closing costs, home repairs and potential yearly increases in property taxes.

Last, and something few people think about, if you have a life insurance policy, be sure to review it to make sure your coverage takes into account the mortgage debt on your new home. This ensures that if something happens to you, your family is financially secure.

Be flexible but firm

Finding the right home requires a delicate balance of flexibility and finesse. At the same time, you want to stand firm when it comes to your non-negotiables in your new home (price, school district, a second bathroom).

This is where having a real estate agent can be of enormous benefit. Agents have the expertise and time to devote to your search that allows you to flex when the opportunity arises and get a home that doesn’t break your budget. Finding the right agent is a lot like finding the right home — you need to do your research. Get referrals for accredited agents and have meetings with two or three of them before deciding who to hire. Make sure they have experience working with homes in your price point and are familiar with the areas you are looking to buy in. Lastly, do not sign an exclusive broker agreement unless you are certain you have found the right agent for you. There are many resources available to help you find an agent that understands your individual needs, such as USAA’s Real Estate Rewards Network.

Meet the neighbors

While the location is important, many factors feed into a great neighborhood. From disputes over pets and parking to personality clashes, neighbors can have a big impact on your happiness as a homeowner. Before committing to a neighborhood, take time to walk the street and gauge compatibility with the neighbors you meet. Talking with the neighbors may also reveal hidden quirks about the home you would not have known otherwise, such as a basement that constantly floods or an ongoing dispute about a property line.

More house is more work

Television shows have glamorized home renovation. Before deciding on a “fixer upper,” make sure you have a full understanding of what it will take — and how much it will cost — to make the house match your vision. Construction projects often take longer than anticipated and can reveal other problems that end up costing more money. If your home is a complete renovation you also won’t be able to live there during construction, so you need to ask yourself, can you afford to pay for two homes for several months?

Similarly, a larger house means more time and money spent on upkeep. A house with a big yard may have great curb appeal but will you truly use all that space? Be realistic, because the money for maintenance on a bigger house is money in your pocket at a smaller house that has many of the features you want.

Lastly, remember that no home improvement project will change your commute or how noisy the nearby traffic is.

Use your head, not your heart

One final piece of advice — do not let your emotions take over the process. Choosing a home can be stressful and overwhelming. It is important to keep a level head. No decision this big should be made on an impulse, so take your time and think through every aspect of the process.

To learn more tips and tricks to buying a home or to find a trusted agent near you, visit USAA’s Home Learning Center.

Simplida™ - So You Can! - Financial Wellness Solutions
Simplida™ – So You Can! – Financial Wellness Solutions
How big of a deck do I need?

How big of a deck do I need?

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Building Wealth Through Home Ownership, Financial Independence, Real Estate

(BPT) – As the major outdoor living trend sweeps the nation, decks are getting bigger. But with television shows featuring 3,000-square-foot monster decks, the average homeowner is left to wonder, “Just how big of a deck do I need?”

Atlanta, Georgia-based deck builder Frank Pologruto says it all comes down to how homeowners intend to use their space as each “zone” of the deck will require a general square footage.

“People want somewhere to cook, and then eat, and then have a conversation, and you start adding up these areas and you realize you can’t do all this in a 16-foot by 12-foot deck,” said Pologruto, the owner of Decks & More.

Dining — 320+ square feet

Outdoor kitchens and dining areas are growing in popularity, but do require significant space. A grill with some counter space for cooking and a large table and chairs for dining will take up around 320 square feet of deck.

Seating — 250+ square feet

Adding an additional seating area, whether a quiet morning coffee spot or an after-dinner conversation pit, will require more space. A conversation area for about six people will add another 256 square feet to the deck. Adding a fire element to the seating area will require not only the space for the actual fireplace or fire pit but also an appropriate distance between the fire and any seating.

Pool or hot tub — 150+ square feet

Homeowners looking to include a water feature like an in-ground pool or hot tub can expect it to require additional deck space. A four-person hot tub could take up as many as 100 square feet of deck, but Pologruto cautions homeowners to build in plenty of room to walk around and enter and exit the hot tub, bringing the total to between 150 and 200 square feet.

Parties — 15 square feet per person

As a general rule, Pologruto said homeowners should determine how many people they expect to host on their deck and estimate about 15 square feet of deck per person. To comfortably fit around 20 people, the deck will need at least 300 square feet of open space.

“Remember though, if you plan to have 50 people over, they won’t all be out on the deck at the same time, so plan for your deck to hold about 30 people,” he said.

How big of a deck do I need?
How big of a deck do I need?

Cost

With the added square footage comes a bigger price tag — $25,000 to $250,000 depending on the size.

The deck material will also affect the final cost. Pologruto uses traditional wood boards and high-end ENVISION composite decking by TAMKO Building Products and says if homeowners are already preparing to spend the money to build a large deck, they should go the extra step and upgrade to a composite board.

“If you’re smart and have the money, do the composite — it just makes more sense,” he said.

Overall, from his experience, Pologruto said most homeowners don’t need a 3,000-square-foot deck, and should be able to fit a small dining area, arbor, hot tub and separate seating area in about 750 square feet, although some of the decks he builds are more than twice that size.

Planning to include the right amount of space will leave you with the most comfortable outdoor living area to suit your needs.

Five-minute life hack: Tips to boost your career

Five-minute life hack: Tips to boost your career

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Building Wealth, Financial Independence, Financial Wellness

(BPT) – The rapid pace of change in jobs means the era of one-and-done learning is over. It no longer matters what you learned in the past — to stay relevant you need to upskill. So if you want to improve your marketability and get ahead in your career, it’s time to think about the valuable skills that could open the door to new opportunities. The good news is with tools and online courses on platforms like LinkedIn Learning, you can explore and develop critical skills and interests — right at your fingertips anytime, anywhere.

“Experience never gets old, but your skills can,” says Marci Alboher, author of The Encore Career Handbook and upcoming LinkedIn Learning instructor. “Re-skilling throughout your career will position you to ensure you’re finding meaning in your work, growing in your profession and making an impact along the way.”

Here are three tips for kick-starting your learning efforts.

1. Find the time!

The #1 career goal for professionals in 2018 is to learn a new skill — but not everyone knows where to fit learning into their daily lives. Here’s a tip: In today’s ever-connected digital world, we’re living in the era of bite-sized learning, where new skills can be honed in minutes on the subway, or while you’re eating breakfast.

Start by picking 5- to 10-minute windows in your daily routine — you don’t need to find hours, minutes are fine. For example, try skimming through courses on a Sunday night, and make a wish list of courses to view throughout the week, whenever it’s convenient for your busy life.

2. Make it a habit

They say a habit is formed in 21 days. Whenever you slot learning into your daily schedule, try to pick a time when you can make it routine — whether it’s on the bus during your morning commute, or in the 10 minutes after you brush your teeth at night. You’ll be growing in your skills before you know it. Fun fact: LinkedIn Learning also sets a reminder for you, so it’s one less thing you have to remember in your day.

3. Pick your skills

Today’s skills landscape is changing faster than ever — with new technologies and digital techniques emerging at every turn. Whether you want to advance your existing career or begin a new one, start by identifying a few key skills you’d like to hone. For example, people in every job can benefit from learning soft skills that teach you how to get things done or achieve your goals. Soft skills, such as communication and critical thinking, will give you a competitive advantage in the workplace, and you never know when you’ll uncover a new passion or side project along the way.

LinkedIn makes it easy to identify the skills you need by alerting you to the most in-demand skills for your job and industry, based on your LinkedIn profile, from project management to leadership.

One of the most important skills for keeping your passions alive is to learn how to be a lifelong learner. In any industry, in any phase of life, there are always new skills to be gained, and new knowledge to explore. Committing yourself to being someone with a constant appetite for learning will enrich you not only today, but throughout the course of your career.

To learn more about LinkedIn Learning and explore business, creative and technology skills to achieve your personal and professional goals, visit www.linkedin.com/learning.

Simplida™ - So You Can! - Financial Wellness Solutions
Simplida™ – So You Can! – Financial Wellness Solutions
Simple ways to earn extra money without owning a car

Simple ways to earn extra money without owning a car

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Building Wealth, Equality, Financial Independence, Financial Wellness

(BPT)

 Whether you’re new to a city and are getting on your feet, or you don’t want the commitment of a longtime lease or loan, there are countless ways to put some dough in your pocket without the need to purchase a car. Working with a flexible schedule doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to be tied to traditional car ownership. Here are five simple ways to make money on your own time.

Simple ways to earn extra money without owning a car
Simple ways to earn extra money without owning a car

Pet sitter

If you love animals, consider offering your services to people in your area. Depending on your schedule, you could become a dog walker or pet sitter, where you visit the animal during the day while the owner is at work. Another option is pet boarding out of your home. This can be particularly great for dogs. Kennels are expensive, and many dog owners will consider qualified and trustworthy home boarding options as an alternative to kennels when they are out of town. Advertise and build up your own clientele or use a site like Rover.com to network.

Driver

Want to try out ridesharing but don’t own a car? Or maybe you don’t want the commitment of a longtime lease or loan? Car ownership and contracts can be expensive, but you can curb or even eliminate the cost and earn money by participating in the Lyft Express Drive. The program provides affordable access to rental cars through partners like Hertz and Flexdrive. Drivers have access to a Lyft-exclusive starting weekly rental rate of $209 per week (plus taxes and fees). However, this cost can drop with Express Drive Rental Rewards, a program designed to make each rental more affordable. If a renter gives a certain number of Lyft rides each week, some or all of the rental costs can be covered by Lyft’s Rental Rewards bonus. Learn more at www.lyft.com/expressdrive.

Tutor/coach

What skills do you have that others could benefit from? Do you speak another language? Have a degree in mathematics? Play an instrument? Did you go to college on a gymnastics scholarship? Whatever your specialty, your skills could be in high demand. Many parents pay top dollar for their kids to get private tutoring or coaching lessons. Create a resume that stresses your specialty and begin advertising on neighborhood websites and other local places. Once you start successfully tutoring one or two students, create a referral program to encourage word-of-mouth recommendations and grow your business.

Freelance

The gig economy refers to the labor market of short-term or freelance workers, and it’s growing quickly in the United States. Some people find so much success with freelancing that they quit their full-time work and do contracts as their schedule allows. You may not be ready to do that, but you can make extra money using your professional skills for short-term telecommuting gigs. Upwork and Indeed.com are just two websites where you can find short-term employment that fits into your spare time. You could also consider advertising your skills on your own by creating a professional portfolio online and reaching out to potential clients.

House cleaner/handyman

Everyone loves a clean house, but not everyone loves to clean. If you enjoy getting down and dirty in order to make rooms shine, consider housecleaning as your side gig. Whether you’re sprucing up a kitchen or tackling a pile of laundry, this can be incredibly lucrative and easy to flex around your schedule. If your skills are more with a hammer or screwdriver, you might consider becoming a part-time handyman. As America’s baby boomer generation ages, the need for help around the house like this will grow. Start building your clientele list now.

Simplida™ - So You Can! - Financial Wellness Solutions
Simplida™ – So You Can! – Financial Wellness Solutions
5 tips for financing your next home improvement project

5 tips for financing your next home improvement project

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Building Wealth, Financial Independence, Financial Wellness, Real Estate

(BPT)

Whether it’s transforming a fixer-upper into your dream home or just giving a makeover to your kitchen or bathroom, home improvement projects are on the minds of many new homeowners across the country.

While many things about renovating your home are flexible, your budget might not be. In general, not a single floorboard is laid, or a new countertop installed without money, which is why every home renovation project should begin with careful financial planning.

To help homeowners with their renovation projects, Marcus by Goldman Sachs(R) is sharing budget-friendly home renovation tips.

There are several ways to finance larger projects and it’s important to explore your options to find the one that’s right for you. Below are five important tips to keep in mind when deciding how to fund your next home project.

5 tips for financing your next home improvement project
5 tips for financing your next home improvement project

1. Shop around. The better you plan, the better chance you’ll save money. Before anything gets torn out or installed, you should spend time consulting with contractors and getting estimates. Look at the work they’ve done to see if they would be a good fit. Most importantly, don’t be afraid to ask a lot of questions to make sure you’re working with the right people and paying the right price.

2. Consider financing options. There are several options when financing a home improvement project and it is important to choose the right fit for you. Home equity loans and home equity lines of credit (HELOC) require you to borrow against the value of your home, with home equity loans offering a lump sum while home equity lines of credit provide you with a credit line you can borrow against. An unsecured home improvement loan can be used based on your creditworthiness and ability to pay, not tied to a piece of collateral.

3. Create a budget. Because of the nature of remodels, things often end up costing more than you might think. No matter how big or how small the project, you need to have a solid sense of what your “all in” budget number is. This should not only account for hard and soft costs for things like labor, materials and designers, it should also account for contingency costs. Experts typically recommend budgeting an additional 15 to 20 percent for unexpected scenarios that might arise. A thoughtful budget will help keep your priorities in front of you and prevent you from spending more than you want.

4. Remember, this is an investment! Not all home renovations will pay off in the long term. It’s important to consider cost vs. value before you start making changes, especially for homeowners looking to sell in the near future. If you plan on putting your house on the market sooner rather than later, be sure to keep track of the top home features to get the best return on your investment.

5. Work with a designer. This might sound like a luxury or an added expense, but in many cases, a designer could actually help save money by finding deals or providing suggestions for less expensive alternatives, such as using quartz or white concrete instead of marble. Above all, their expertise can help avoid costly mistakes that can often arise when people try to cut corners on their own.

5 tips for financing your next home improvement project
5 tips for financing your next home improvement project

With these tips, you should be better prepared to finance your home improvement project. When you’re ready to start, you shouldn’t have to wait weeks for a home appraisal to get your renovation project underway. You could see your home improvement loan options from Marcus by Goldman Sachs in as little as five minutes and once approved, most people see the funds in their bank accounts in as little as four days. With Marcus you could be one step closer to your dream home.

Simplida™ - So You Can! - Financial Wellness Solutions
Simplida™ – So You Can! – Financial Wellness Solutions