A Sign of Financial Independence: We Stopped Looking for Our Next Paycheck

I can clearly remember sitting at a desk in graduate school crunching financial numbers. As the professor rattled on about data management I pulled out a lined piece of paper and began to scribble down various amounts. How much was my car payment that month? How much did I owe for rent and utilities? How much did I spend on groceries and dining out?

My grandmother taught me to pay off my credit card every month and despite making only $32,000 a year while living in Washington, DC I was determined to close out that account every month without owing a penny of late fees or interest.

So there I sat writing down numbers and trying to figure out if I could make the math work. Alongside the totals I wrote down various dates. When was my credit card bill due? What was the latest I could hand over my rent check? And perhaps, most importantly, when would my direct deposit show up in my bank account?

My good friend Henry looked over at the paper in front of me, but he never said a word about it. He didn’t ask what I was doing or why I wasn’t paying attention to the professor. Maybe he pieced it all together, maybe he didn’t care. I have no idea, but I remember furiously scribbling down those numbers and worrying that my income might not cover my expenses that month. I remember wondering if Henry ever had the same thought or anyone else that sat in class alongside me. Back then money was taboo, (I suppose it still is), and personal finance blogs didn’t exist.

Twenty-two years later I can tell you that I’ve never missed a rent or mortgage payment and I’ve never paid my credit card bill late. In fact, due to a frugal mindset, six years of college education, quality health insurance and ultimately a high paying job I’ve always managed to pay that credit card bill in full.

I don’t say this to brag, but just to tell my story. The only story I know. I recognize my blessings and I am forever grateful for them. I am so glad my grandmother instilled the importance of money management and that I was healthy and capable enough to listen and follow her example. I am, in fact, beyond grateful.

I review our finances often. I log in to my bank account at least once a day. I check to see if the market is up or down and watch the wild swings that come with a large portfolio. I do all of this despite the fact that I never change our investments or make any major changes to the way we handle our money. I suppose it simply feels good to see the amount in black and white in front of me.

These days I no longer need to furiously scribble my income and expenses on to a piece of paper, but not much else has changed since my husband and I reached financial independence. In fact, we go about our day to day lives just like we did before reaching that monetary threshold. My husband still works an ordinary job and when my boys get another year or two older I will return to the workforce.

One thing that has changed: we no longer look for our next paycheck. That’s crazy isn’t it? When you reach financial independence you can stop worrying about dates and reworking numbers to ensure your income covers your expenses. That money still arrives in our bank account every two weeks, but we no longer need that paycheck to pay our bills.

Does it sound like a dream to stop worrying about your income and expenses? It hasn’t been a sprint to the finish line, but the ability to completely disregard the timeliness of a paycheck still feels like a miracle to me.

Top 6 Tips to Save Money on Your Electricity Bill

Electricity prices are rising and utility bills are getting worse. There are many ways you can save on energy bills, ranging from simple behavioural changes to doing some home improvements. But, the two main reasons for saving energy is to reduce stress on your budget and conserve the environment. Here, we have come up with the 6 best ways you can save energy, without costing much. 

#1 Turn off electrical units when not in use

Switch off lights, fans, AC, heater and other appliances when you are leaving the house or not using it. Turning off the mains can save much more energy than the switch on the electrical device or remote control. Many electrical have energy saving options that can be activated to turn off the device after being inactive for a definite time. 

#2 Switch to energy-efficient lights

If you are using conventional bulbs till now, then switch to energy-saving bulbs today. LEDs don’t only use less power, allowing you to save up to 80% on your lighting bills, but they also last longer. Which means you have to spend less time and money on replacing them. Save even more money by buying lights through Bydiscountcodes.co.uk deals and discounts offered at free of cost. 

#3 Organize your heating and cooling areas

If you organize your heating and cooling areas, you can easily reduce the cost without making your life uncomfortable. Shut doors of the rooms that you don’t use, and only cool or heat the areas where you spend most of the time. Close doors and curtains firmly during summer to stop cool air from leaking out and keeping the sunlight away from your windows will keep your house cooler. 

#4 Use smart power trips

Smart power strips eliminate the consumption of phantom load (electricity utilized by the device when they are in the standby mode or inactive) by cutting the power to electrical when they are not in use. Set a timer in the smart power strip to turn off the device through remote switches or by the status of the master device after a duration of inactivity. 

#5 Buy energy-saving appliances

While buying any appliance, look at the two things: the one-time cost price and the long term operational cost. Look for ‘Energy Star’ label which is a federal guarantee that indicates that your appliance will utilize less power. Although the models with more ‘Energy Star’ rating may have higher prices, but their operating costs are pretty lower than other conventional appliances. 

#6 Check with your power supplier 

If your energy bills panic you, it is worth to call your energy supplier and express your concerns. Your company may give you some helpful tips in order to reduce your usage. If your bill seems enormously high recently, then it is possible that there might be some errors in calculation. Also, some companies offer deals and discounts on specific hours that you may not know. 

Conservation of energy is very crucial for many reasons. By simply taking a few steps towards more energy-efficient lifestyle, you can save bundles of dollars, increase your property worth and contribute in preserving the environment.

Seeking Financial Security: 9 Life-Changing Ways to Start Managing Your Money

Money management is one of the first lessons of being an adult. It is a very harsh reality, where buying with money you don’t have will invoke real-world consequences. Within reason, spending freely is still possible. You just have to get a better understanding of how it affects your ability to live.

9. Credit Doesn’t Replace Money That Never Existed

Credit cards are a good thing that just so happens to be the bane of people’s existence. It allows you to spend money that you don’t have. This is essentially a loan that you pay back at a specified time (based on the contract). For most credit cards, your bill is due in thirty-day cycles. Do you really need an iPhone that badly that you can’t save money for two or three months? Fees, APR percentages and other gotchas will pad your bill. All credit cards do it, but that doesn’t stop their users from going on unintended shopping sprees.

8. Big Purchases Requires Patience

And to that point, think about the essential items that you need. Imagine buying a new phone, only to have your washing machine break down the day after. Your card is maxed out, and you have no liquid cash to pay for a new one. Big purchases that aren’t essential should be put on a waitlist. They have a lower priority than things like bills, home needs, and care needs. By staying away from immediate big purchases, you may find that you don’t even want a new phone. Let your mind simmer down before big purchases, and it may surprise you.

7. Is That A Coupon?

Coupons have gone digital, although you can find plenty of paper ones. Since coupons are mostly digital, it becomes easier to find things on sale that interest you. With phone, you are basically carrying around the world’s greatest coupon book. So why are you always paying full price? Every major vendor has an app with immediate coupons and rewards for repeat visits. A little will add up to a lot, and before you know it, six months of savings now equal some easy spending money!

6. Say Yes To A Budget

Spending widely without a budget is the easiest way to get in debt. Money management tips will always include ways to create and follow a budget. It may seem boring at first, but there is a reason a lot of people still use a checkbook. It is an easy way to limit what you purchase by making it harder to spend money. Little tricks like this are budget-friendly and help users to keep things in check. If you don’t have a budget, then you are playing a dangerous game with your money. 

5. Don’t Let Money Burn A Hole In Your Pocket

Instead of looking for ways to spend the money you have on hand, consider putting it in a savings account. Having money feels good, and the natural reaction is to spend it. Always remember that there is the alternative option of saving. You may not see the immediate benefits, but when needed, the money you put into savings will become much more valuable.

4. Your Spending Says A Lot

Do you keep track of what you buy? There are some couples that spend more on eating out at restaurants than they do on their house payment. Make a chart, pie or graph of your spending. Some banking and money apps have this feature implemented by default. Take a long look at where your money goes and if any of it has potential. Chances are, there are plenty of things you waste money on that would be better spent elsewhere. Your job is to find those items and make an immediate change in spending habits.

3. What Is Your Spending Limit?

You do have a spending limit, right? Like a budget, the spending limit prevents you from going over on a particular part of your life. If you allocate three-hundred dollars to going out per month, spending four -hundred dollars is going over your limit. When you go over your spending limit, you affect your budget. When you can’t budget correctly, then you can’t save. It is a domino effect that starts by having just a little bit of self-control. Always remember that your spending limit and budget are tied at the hip. You can’t have one without having the other.

2. Recurring Bills Can Be Crippling

An option to pay for a product you don’t need in monthly installments is not saving money. Even if the price wasn’t jacked up for doing monthly installments (it always is) you’re still getting a bad deal. Recurring bills add up and become one giant bill. Instead of looking at recurring bills as separate payments for multiple items, combine it into one. This will give you some perspective on how much money it is siphoning from your bank account. A lot of little things you pay for monthly add up to a lot of money that you may not have.

1. Don’t Buy A Restaurant

The Tony Kornheiser philosophy is in full effect with this one. That means stay away from things that are perpetual money sinks. There are plenty of these in your possession already, and you don’t even know it. Video game microtransactions, casinos, accessories for technology, Pokémon cards etc. there is always something. Constantly pumping money into something should always be examined with a microscope. Decide if the payments are worth the enjoyment you get from it, or if your funds are better spent elsewhere. Everyone has a restaurant, they just need to acknowledge that it exists!

Wrap Up

Plan with your money and spend it wisely. Being a Scrooge isn’t necessary when you keep within set limits. Time is the only limiting factor to getting anything you want with the money you’ve earned. With good patience and intelligent money-making decisions, you’ll always be one step ahead.

Traversing Long distances: 8 Pros and Cons of Buying a Car that Runs on Diesel

Before committing to a car payment plan, it is important to consider a number of factors. Visit car payments for guidelines on what to factor in. More often than not, buyers will run for the gasoline-powered vehicles foregoing diesel engines as more commercially viable. While it is true that diesel engines have long been reserved for heavy commercial vehicles and trucks, many car companies have ventured into the manufacture of diesel-powered cars. They present many unique advantages as well as disadvantages. 

Pros of Buying a Car that Runs on Diesel

  • Fuel Economy
  • Durable Engines
  • Better Performance
  • Mechanical Simplicity
  • Use of Alternative Fuels
  • Overall Running Costs
  • Tall Gears
  • Low Emissions

Cons of Buying a Car that Runs on Diesel

  • Cost of Fuel
  • Diesel does not offer high-speed performance
  • Higher Costs of Production
  • Operating Noise
  • Service and Maintenance
  • Fuel Availability
  • Emission Levels
  • Heavier Vehicles

Let us expound the above points further.

Pros of a Diesel Engine

1.     Fuel Economy

Diesel engines are more fuel efficient than the alternatives. On average, a diesel-powered car will consume up to 30 percent more miles per gallon than a gasoline-powered car with the same engine performance. That is to say, a car owner with a diesel engine will spend a lot less on gas than their counterparts with a gasoline-powered vehicle. However, it should be noted that the model of the engine and the automotive technology employed heavily influence the consumption of fuel. This notwithstanding, a diesel engine will typically offer better mileage on the gallon than gasoline or the traditional gasoline-electric hybrids.  This is a particularly significant advantage for those who have a long commute to work or for those millennials planning a road trip. 

2.     Durable Engines

Generally, diesel engines are built in a studier fashion than gasoline engines. They also tend to last longer. Autowise.com says that an average heavy-duty truck engine running on diesel will run up to a million miles while diesel cars will perform flawlessly past the 200,000-mile mark.  For instance, Mercedes Benz has been known to go up to 900,000 miles without any major engine repairs.  This kind of engine longevity is an assurance of a dependable and more durable vehicle that will have a good resale or trade-in value.

3.     Better Performance

Diesel powered vehicles are designed to withstand higher compression.  Better performance, with regard to diesel engines, does not necessarily mean that your vehicle will be faster. Quite to the contrary, diesel engines are slower. Because of this, more torque is provided to the driveshaft making it stronger than similar gasoline engines. This will go a long way in carrying heavy loads over long distances.  Their exceptional stamina allows them a significant amount of power even from a standing start or at low RPMs.

This characteristic makes diesel engines suitable for towing, moving heaving loads, and travelling long distances.

4.     Mechanical Simplicity

Gasoline engines are sophisticated and often require computer intervention to diagnose any engine problems. Between the sparks plugs and distributors, a gasoline engine will require highly skilled mechanics to fix even the simplest problems. However, diesel engines are simple. They use a single master fuel pump and without the spark systems. For this reason, diesel engines do not require ignition tune-ups.  In summary, this means that this engine will have a lower

5.     Use of Alternative Fuels

One of the perks of having a simple engine is that diesel engine can run on renewable fuels such as biodiesel with little or no modifications. The global insistence on the use of the alternative to fossil fuels has made this diesel engine trait even more attractive to more consumers. Car manufacturers, on the other hand, support operation on biodiesel mixes without voiding the manufacturer’s warranty. See more here.

6.     Overall Running Costs

A simple recap of the above advantages will reveal a trend of the economic sensibility of diesel engines. They offer better value for money on the gallon, they have low maintenance costs given a simple mechanical structure and they are very durable. Combined, all these attributes provide cost—efficiency and excellent value for money.

7.     Tall Gears

With a diesel engine, you can easily pull through more speeds in single gears. This makes overtaking fun, especially if you are using a manual transmission vehicle. This means that you do not have to downshift every time you want to overtake. Even though diesel cars have nothing on gasoline-powered cars in terms of speed, many diesel engines can still maintain 100 miles an hour with great handling.

8.     Low Emission

Traditionally, diesel engines were known for their clattering sounds and smoke. However, over the years, the evolution of the diesel engine has seen to it that more silent and clean engines running on diesel are created. Of course, the evolution has been occasioned by strict emissions standards imposed by the United Nations and other International and national authorities.

Remarkable steps in engine manufacture have witnessed the development of the ‘’whisper diesel’’. Such is the engine installed in the 2018 Chevy Equinox which has been dubbed fluster diesel by European journalists. The name is aptly derived from its muted noise and vibration qualities.

Further, the low consumption of fuel also goes a long way in curbing environmental emissions. Less consumption means similarly little emissions. Instead of releasing heat through their tailpipes, diesel engines convert it into energy for reuse by the vehicle.

Cons of a Diesel Engine

1.     The cost of Fuel

The prices of fuel are determined by market forces of demand and supply. Diesel is used by commercial trucks, public transport buses, industrial generators and as heating oil. Demand for the product is, therefore, very high. It is for this reason that the cost of diesel is slightly higher than the cost of regular gasoline. However, it is more or less the same as the premium or unleaded gasoline. It would, therefore, cost more to fill up a diesel tank than it would a gasoline tank. However, the same tank will be consumed more efficiently. Ultimately, the owner of a diesel powered vehicle will make fewer stops at the gas station over long distances.

2.     Diesel does not offer high-speed performance

They say that a diesel engine is like a workhorse, slow, strong and very enduring. In proliferating fuel efficiency, diesel engines convert the heat produced by the burning fuel into energy that is again consumed by the vehicle. Consequently, the engine cannot support a high-speed performance like their gasoline-powered counterparts. 

3.     Higher Costs of Production

Because of their peculiarity for commercial use, diesel engines are built stronger and more durable in order to sustain the rigors of high compression. Unfortunately, this makes the initial cost of manufacture very high. In the long run, the costs will roll over to the end user. Car payments for the diesel-powered vehicle will, therefore, be steeper than your ordinary gasoline powered-colt.

4.     Operating Noise

Although many car manufacturers have found a way to shroud the loud engine clatter of diesel cars, it is still nearly impossible to have a stealthy or silent vehicle. It is easier to reduce noise emitted by gasoline-powered cars since most of the noise comes from the tailpipe- the simple fix for which is a muffler. Diesel engines produce noise from the engine itself. While some car manufacturers use sound insulating materials while making the engines, it is a tinge difficult to eliminate all the sound while maintaining a strong and durable engine.

5.     Service and Maintenance

The relatively simple mechanics of a diesel engine reduces the owner’s trips to the mechanic. This is a great thing since one such trip would cost the owner an arm and a leg. Moreover, the owner should keep regular maintenance schedules.  Negligence on maintenance may occasion a breakdown of the fuel injection system which will definitely cost a boatload of money.

All in all, diesel engines will still require regular oil and fuel filter changes and all the normal hustle service that any car would require. To learn more about service and maintenance visit this website.

6.     Fuel Availability

Edmund.com reports that only 3 percent of the cars sold in America are diesel-powered. This means that most cars running on American roads run on gasoline. It would make sense that at least 50% of the gas stations do not have diesel fuel pumps. This information is particularly important for the driver who travels long distances. It is not advisable to run your diesel engine very low unless you know gas stations that have diesel pumps in the area.

7.     Emission Levels

American standards of emissions have always been stricter than European or Asian countries. Consequently, diesel cars were not as popular in America as they were in Europe. The smoke, soot, and smell emitted by diesel engines have made them `unattractive to the American market.  Nevertheless, milestones in technology have made it possible to reduce emissions and produce better environmentally friendly cars.   

8.     Heavier Vehicles

Built with a strong and durable engine, higher compression capabilities and a single fuel pump, diesel engines are usually heavy. While this trait may help the vehicle retain traction, it significantly reduces the speed of the vehicle. This combined with the fact that it does not release heat through its tailpipe limits the speed of the vehicle.

Conclusion

In brief, diesel engines offer a better option for users who travel long distances every day, those who haul heavy loads, or for tow-trucks. Although the ride might not be as smooth, a diesel car owner will save more money over time than a gasoline car owner. 

Making a Move: 9 Essential Tips You Need to Know When Buying a House

When you are ready to buy a house, it can be an exciting but stressful time. There is so much to be done before you can make your new home truly yours! From the endless cycle of house hunting until you find your perfect match to the financial drudgery of mortgage loans and homeowners’ insurance, there is a lot to learn along the way.

If you are starting from scratch without a real estate or mortgage background, this process can become intimidating and overwhelming. But with a little research, you can gain the knowledge you need to make buying your home a simplified, streamlined course to get you ready for your new life as a homeowner!

Here are 9 essential tips every new buyer needs to know when they are in the process of purchasing a house.

9 Things to Know Before You Buy Your New Home

1. Planning early can help you get a much nicer home for a much smaller monthly payment.

It happens all of the time – someone decides they want to buy a home, so they start shopping around the next day. They get excited about the ideas in their heads, but then the problem becomes that their budget can’t support the home they were imagining. Instead of a fun, exciting time, it becomes a stressful process of crunching numbers and getting in over their head financially.

To avoid this, you should plan ahead and not jump into the home buying process. Save up a substantial down payment; 20% is recommended by most lenders, although 3% is a common amount. The more of a down payment you put down, the higher the shopping bracket you can browse through or the lower of a monthly mortgage payment you will have.

2. Know your mortgage options.

Before you start looking at homes, research your mortgage options and know what you will be approved for so you have a range. There are multiple different financing avenues available depending on your circumstances.

You may be approved for a commercial mortgage, government-sponsored loans, or even Veterans Affairs assistance. Whichever way you choose, contact a bank agent before you get in touch with a real estate agent. With a guaranteed loan backing you up and an idea of your monthly payments already in mind, you can confidently start home shopping.

3. Find the right real estate agent.

For a while, your buyer’s agent is going to be as close to you as your best friend. They will know your hopes and dreams for your house and your future and will be scrounging all of the best homes available that would suit your needs and communicating with you about them.

They should be working in your best interest, and they should be skilled and knowledgeable about the area you are shopping in and each aspect of home buying. You can read more about what to look for in a real estate agent here.

4. Carefully consider your ideal home and neighborhood.

Don’t just throw a limit out there to your agent. This is going to lead to you having to weed through a lot of unnecessary homes before your agent understands what you are really looking for.

Think about the aspects of your home you are not willing to compromise on. This may be something like the number of bedrooms, the neighborhood it is in, a school district, the size of the yard, or other amenities. Come prepared to your agent with this list and let them do the work for you to narrow the available options down.

5. Don’t forget about closing costs.

When you are preparing financially for your big purchase, your down payment is not the only big cost you will have to deal with ahead of time. Your home’s closing costs will be somewhere between 2 and 5% of your total loan, on an average. While some sellers offer to pay part or all of the closing costs, prepare ahead to plan for closing expenses like homeowners’ insurance, title searches, inspections, and other potential costs upfront.

6. Be careful not to put all your money into the purchasing.

A common mistake that happens to many buyers is that they save, save, save and then use every drop of their savings to buy their new home. There are many unexpected costs that creep up after you purchase your house – from repairs and renovations to expenses like property taxes or running cable through the home. Keep a nest egg aside for anything that may need to be fixed throughout your first year as a new homeowner.

7. Pay attention to that homeowners’ insurance policy.

In the excitement of the purchase and the scramble to get your dream home to fit into your monthly budget, one of the items that are manipulated is often the insurance policy.

Instead of looking for the cheapest rates, find a good company that can give you comparable rates but covers everything that may be necessary and has a decent deductible. If you go for the cheapest without looking at what it includes, it may end up a major expense later when you need to file a claim only to find out your policy doesn’t cover that particular problem.

8. Utilize the home inspection to your best interests.

Once you have gone through your potential home a few times, you may think you know it inside and out. But an inspector is trained in spotting things that are not necessarily a problem…yet. They will go over all of the details of the house, including things you can’t see.

The inspection report may bring up problems like a faulty air conditioning unit or a leak. Instead of running for the hills and starting over with the shopping process again, use these issues to try to negotiate a better price or have the sellers fix the problem before you buy.

9. Have a back-up plan.

Any seasoned real estate agent will tell you that a home buying process is never smooth. There are a million and one reasons why a perfect sale might fall apart at the last minute. Maybe the title check doesn’t clear or the inspection comes back with a problem that the bank won’t approve.

For whatever reason, you need to prepare mentally and financially to have a back-up plan just in case your dream home can’t become a reality. Remember, it’s better to deal with the problems before you have a hefty financial responsibility in fixing them than to end up stuck with them down the line.

Now That You’ve Prepared, It’s Time to Go Buy Your New Home

With enough knowledge to prepare you to know what you are getting into, you should be able to confidently navigate the waters of a home buying experience now. It’s an exciting time – go full speed ahead!

Making Millions: Your 5 Step Guide to Choose the Right Stock to Trade

Choosing the right stocks in which to invest in a complicated enterprise. The market, whether it has bull or bear tendencies, can turn on a dime, and that is, even more, the case with individual stocks. Should you invest in Apple stock, for instance, or Amazon? Should you invest in known commodities, or penny stocks about which you have a good feeling? Should you go all in on a particular stock, or are you better off spreading your cash around? Here are five considerations which will help you figure out whether a stock is worth your time and money.

Are There Any Rumors Regarding the Company?

One thing on which you’ll want to keep an eye if you’re thinking about adding a stock to your portfolio is whether any rumours are swirling about the company. If there’s the talk of a merger, then you may want to jump on board in anticipation of the stock soaring in value. What if there are mutterings that the company is going to go out of business? It’s probably best to stay away from the stock, as it’s likely about to tank.

What Time of the Year Is It?

Traditionally, certain stocks do better at particular times of the year. If it is around the holidays, then some stocks are likely to go up, as the company sees significant profits toward the end of the fourth quarter. If it is a time of year when a company does not do a lot of business, then that may be the time to buy, as the price will be lower. Right after the holidays, when the stock is trading briskly, is when you’ll want to sell.

What is the State of Global Politics?

The price of a stock may fluctuate according to whether there is turmoil or stability in the world. It is almost a guarantee that there is conflict happening somewhere, but if several of the world powers are involved, then stock market volatility will be higher than average. Stocks at that time are likely to be down, so generally speaking, this would be the time to buy rather than sell.

What’s the Rest of the Market Doing?

Stocks as a whole tend to rise and fall together, hence the notion of bear and bull markets. There are going to be outliers, but when the market is doing poorly, the overwhelming majority of stocks will fall. Again, this would be the time to buy heavily, assuming you feel you have the time to wait until a more profitable period when you can unload all that stock you bought.

Buy What You Know

It is also best to try and buy a stock in an industry that you know, so you’ll have a better chance of picking one and correctly predicting what it’s going to do. Don’t target stock in tech or pharmaceuticals, for instance, if you don’t know the first thing about them.

The stock market is always going to be a crapshoot, but if you follow a train of logic and look at past indicators, you should do okay. It is undoubtedly thrilling when you pick a winner and sell it off at the right time. If you want to make your fortune playing the markets, then you need some skin in the game, as they say. 

Property Purchase: The 7 Steps of the Real Estate Purchase

The real estate purchase is a very exciting adventure, but complex! The whole process lasts several months, and involves very different interlocutors, owners, notaries, banks, etc. the process is quite difficult which is the more reason you will have to consult attorneys for legal guidance before launching. However, very necessary to look into detail in this article the seven major steps that punctuate the path to the good of your dreams.

Calculate your Real Estate Budget

The first step is to determine your real estate budget and make sure it sticks with your aspirations. However, you should set the topmost price you could pay for your acquisition. For this, two steps, first, determine your borrowing potentials, which is the maximal amount you can obtain based on your income. Our simulator is here for that! Second, find out about the prices of the goods that interest you. Indeed, these prices differ according to the idiosyncrasy of the house and its locality. Can you notafford the duplex of your dreams? You are given some tips to optimize your borrowing capacity.

Find the Apartment of your Dreams

You have chained the visits, and finally, it’s love at first sight, you don’t want the house of your dreams to slip away. After negotiating the price and making a proposal to buy, you are launched. The sale is sealed by the sales agreement (or promise of sale) scribbled by the owner and you. As a buyer, you benefit from a cancellation period of 10 days succeeding the signature, after which it is difficult to cancel the purchase unless one of the conditions precedents of the pre-contract is fulfilled (for instance, if you don’t get your credit).

Apply for Mortgage

During this phase, you will seek the cheapest loan with the most advantageous terms. You must not only be vigilant about interest rates, but also associated benefits, flexibilities, credit insurance, and so on. To appeal for a loan, you will have to submit a complete file to the banks. This file, including your pay slips, your statements of account and your latest tax records, is your borrower’s CV for the bank. It is therefore important that you make theeminent impression possible, be now rigorous and organized.

Advice 

Prepare your file before your search for funding; because once you found your property, it will be fast. Indeed from the time the promise is signed, a period of 45 days is commonly granted to the buyer to allow him time to find his financing. Manage your accounts healthily and especially avoid overdrafts, they will be visible on your statements and will make a very shoddy impression. As disclosed above, the time available for your search for funding is limited and you ought to hurry up. 

Get an Agreement in Principle and Reassure the Seller

You have found the bank that suits you. Bingo, she gives you a loan! You will be warned by an agreement in principle, i.e.,a document grouping the elements of credit, amount, rate, conditions, etc. You can, therefore, inform the seller that you have obtained your loan and confirm your decision to buy his property.

Sign the Official Loan Application and Validate the Insurance

To validate your agreement you will have to sign a loan request from the selected bank. It is at this time that the insurance must be validated, it can be done before the appointment of the signature loan application, or the insurance membership can be done at this appointment. In both cases, you must finalize a confidential medical questionnaire. If membership is at the signature appointment and your situation is simple, you can most often get an instant insurance agreement.

The Loan Offer: The Last Moment to Think

After the validation of the insurance and following the opening of the account, the bank sends you and the sureties, an offer of an official loan by registered mail. You have a 10-day cooling-off interval, which you must use; you cannot give an answer during this period. Be patient! Additionally, the loan offer remains valid for 30 days. If you reject the offer, you will not be charged by the bank – but beware, the advance paid when signing the trade-off will probably be withheld to compensate the seller.

Passage to the Notary: You Officially become the Owner

Congratulations, you are there! The signature of the authentic act, which is more often called “passage to the notary” is the formalization of the passage of title deed. This is where you pay the property and pay the notary fees and agency fees. The capitals are released days before the signing of the deed on an account held by the notary. Attention, the funds can be released only if the signature of the authentic act takes place within six months following the acceptance of the loan offer. If you decline from visiting the notary within this time, the loan will be canceled, andthe bank may claim fees.

With Intention Comes Wealth

I stopped reading the majority of personal finance blogs in my RSS reader a few years ago. After reading blogs day after day for years I simply couldn’t find any new ideas that I hadn’t read or thought of before. I stopped blogging myself for this very same reason. What could I possibly say that no one had heard before? Honestly, I couldn’t come up with much. So I stopped writing and filled this blog with paid posts, because well, I wasn’t sure what else to do.

After awhile even the websites of amazing personal finance bloggers begin to feel stale and old. Most of the rules for accumulating wealth are simple. Increase your income, decrease your expenses and figure out how to invest the money you’ve saved. The blog ESI Money, which stands for earn, save and invest pretty much covers it.

So if that’s all you have to do than why don’t more people follow these principles? That’s a tough nut to crack, but I think that the majority of money management comes down to intentionality.

Before I begin let me say that not everyone can become a millionaire. I know there are may factors involved in the accumulation of wealth and some of those factors are out of our control.

If you are disabled, ill, paying for family members expenses or dealing with a devastating accident than you may not be able to climb the financial ladder or at a minimum you may not be able to climb as quickly as those around you.

But if you are making a half-decent wage and not dealing with unfortunate life circumstances than the odds are pretty high that there is nothing holding you back from wealth other than you.

To find the path to wealth I believe you need to live with intention. If you have an aim, a plan, a purpose, an objective, a target, whatever you want to call it, you are more likely to reach your goal.

Many of us live our lives from moment to moment without any real plan in mind. I recently had a conversation with a forty-year old friend of mine. I asked him what he wanted to do with his life. He said, “I don’t know.” I asked him if he wanted to travel. He said, “I don’t know.” I asked him if he would consider moving to a new state. He said, “I don’t know.” I asked him if he had plans to switch jobs. He said, “I don’t know.”

The fact is that my friend wakes up every day and steps through the motions of life. He takes a shower, gets dressed, drives to work, parks his car, works for 9 hours, gets back into his car, drives home, eats dinner and goes to sleep. My friend is an amazing guy, but he does not have a plan. How many of us can say the same about ourselves?

In order to reach a goal you have to set one. If you want to attain wealth, retire early, travel the world, do whatever your heart desires, you have to set a course and follow it closely.

So what does living with intention mean when it comes to your finances? First, put your finances into auto-pilot. Begin contributing to a 401(k) through your employer. Let your money slide straight into your retirement account without ever realizing it’s missing. If you can do the same with automated savings accounts. Move money aside each month and see if you can live without it.

Second, avoid shopping whenever possible. If you avoid the temptation of brick and mortar and online stores you will keep more money in your pocket, period. If you want to buy something ask yourself “is this a need or a want?” If it’s a want, then think long and hard about your end goal and decide if the item you covet really needs to be purchased at this very moment.

If you find yourself wavering then tape a picture of your goal to your credit card. I kid you not, this works. If you want to retire early to a beachside retreat then tape a picture of yourself at the beach. If you want to travel the world, then print a picture of an airplane flying around the globe. If you want to stay-at-home with your children then add their beautiful little faces to the top of your credit card.

Now, every time you pick up that credit card to pay for something you will come face-to-face with your goal and that reminder may be all you need to place that credit card back in your pocket.

Third, avoid feelings of jealousy and envy. When you visit your friends luxurious home filled with beautiful furniture and tchotchkes remind yourself that your goal may be different from theirs. If you want to travel the world you don’t need a five bedroom house to live in. If you want to retire early you might hop into an RV and travel around the country. Again, remember to keep your goal in mind. Do your best not to be distracted by others.

Fourth, remember that people are more important than things. All of the things in the world don’t add up too much if you are alone. Focus your intentions on creating meaningful relationships with those around you. Fill your life with people who fill your soul and you will suddenly realize that you don’t need much to make you happy in this world.

Fifth, revisit your plan often. Track your expenses, search for ways to earn more income and try to remain optimistic about meeting your target. Every time you stop yourself from spending you will reach one step closer to the finish line.

Sixth, find those who will cheer for your success and pick you up when you fail. It can be difficult to talk about money with others, so search for an online community or blogger who can guide you. Over the years I’ve met many amazing bloggers who now feel like life long friends.

Lastly, once you apply the notion of intentionality to your finances you will find yourself applying similar principles to other aspects of your life. A lot of people talk about retiring early, but once they’ve met their financial goals they have absolutely no idea what they actually want to do with their lives.

Create a plan for your relationships, your career, your children, your passions and anything else you can think of. Set your goals and strive to reach them. I can only speak from personal experience here, but maintaining the goal to accumulate wealth played a huge role in my success with money.

I wish you the best in your future endeavors.



6 Scientific Reasons Online Video Connects with Viewers

Whether you’re looking to market your own business or working as a professional marketer, you might have heard about video marketing. Since the consumption of videos is growing faster than ever, companies are using videos to make their presence felt. The main reason behind this is that videos connect with audiences much more effectively than just a bunch of text or pictures. This doesn’t come as a surprise – marketers know that visuals are much more compelling than plain text. 

Did you know that the average attention span has reduced from 12 minutes in 1998 to just 8 seconds in 2018!? So, now more than ever, your business needsto have a robust video marketing plan. A lot of research has been conducted to figure out the exact causes behind such high levels of engagement. To break it down, here are 6 scientific reasons that explain why online videos grab viewers’ attention quickly and effectively. 

https://pixabay.com/en/videographer-cameraman-video-camera-698667/

Videos help the audience focus on your message:

Some businesses and their mission statements are simpler to explain while others are not. If your business model feels too complicated, opt for an explainer video to convey the right message. Too often, long pages of text feel tedious to read and ultimately becomes incoherent. This drastically brings down audience engagement, rendering your marketing efforts completely useless. Instead, use a video to get your message across. In almost every case, a short, coherent, and quality video makes your message clear and succinct. Your message will also likely be well-received by your viewers. 

Videos swiftly grab your viewers’ attention:
Yes, the average attention span is just 8 seconds now. So, it’s much more important to create your content in ways that would make the viewer stop, stare, and engage. Only text or images aren’t going to be enough. Our brains are wired to pay attention to moving images and actionable activity. So, when compared with the other kinds of media, videos automatically become the top choice in this aspect. But attracting the viewer’s attention isn’t everything. You also need to ensure that you keep them immersed throughout the video. That way, their participation and engagement with the videos are assured. The best way to do that is to keep your video short, simple, and interesting. 

https://pixabay.com/en/children-win-success-video-game-593313/

Videos enable higher levels of retention:
An image is a powerful medium of communication that can even convey intangible ideas. A video, on the other hand, can convey multiple complex ideas within a small period of time. If a picture is worth a thousand words, according to a study, one minute of video is worth approximately 1.8 million words. So, it makes sense to completely shift to videos, right? Not exactly, since different types of content still require text and pictures. So, increase retention rates by breaking up the monotony through videos. Incorporate an interesting video wherever possible as sifting through a series of images or reading long paragraphs of text can get boring. 

Videos evoke complex emotions:

To make your company relatable and humane, you need to infuse your content with emotions. However, with such short attention spans, the only way businesses can truly evoke emotion is through videos. Whether it’s an informational whiteboard video, an emotional cartoon video or a funny animated short, you can use the power of emotions to hook your audience. Instead of making us understandit, emotion in videos makes us feelthe video. Compared to what we read for over 10 minutes, we remember how we felt in that short amount of time. Use videos to press the right emotional buttons and you will witness sustained boosts in engagement. 

https://pixabay.com/en/man-smartphone-mobile-technology-1718099/

Videos easily explain tough ideas or concepts:

Videos are a good way to explain concepts or mission statements as they grab your viewer’s attention. Videos also make it easier for the brain to break down the information. Every time we read, we automatically use our “inside voice” and interpret the words in our brain. Since this takes effort and time, people with shorter attention spans would move on before you can get your message across. When we watch a video, the amount of time taken to interpret that information reduces dramatically. Hence, we absorb and retain the same amount of information quicker and easier when the content is in a video format. 

Videos bring your company to life:

Since the history of humans, we have always been drawn towards a community. In the digital age, videos are what draw us together from different parts of the world. Have you ever felt like you’ve missed out on something when you don’t watch a viral video? Alternatively, do you feel belonged after you know all about that viral video? The reasoning behind viral videos is basically the same. Essentially, your videos can be potent enough to build a community around your business. People who are involved in such communities tend to stay loyal to that particular business. These passionate fans bring in more people, thus increasing your customers and your brand value. 

https://pixabay.com/en/team-motivation-teamwork-together-386673/

As demonstrated above, opting for more video content can be very beneficial for your business. The science behind why we connect with videos has validated the benefits of video marketing. It has begun to change the game of internet marketing. Companies looking to grow their presence need to focus more on connecting with audiences through astute marketing strategies and powerful videos. 

However, all your efforts will fall short if your videos don’t have impressive content. Quality is key because your videos represent your company. If you don’t have an internal media team, outsource the work to a credible commercial video productioncompany. Since you’re entrusting them with your money and your company’s image, thoroughly check their work profile and past client testimonials. Once you’re satisfied, contact them and schedule a meeting. Choosing the right video production company can boost your marketing efforts, ensure improved ROI (return on investment), and bring in more convertible leads. So, restructure your video marketing plan to make it smarter, better, and more effective. 

Money Matters: 10 Powerful Ways to Help You Save Money on Your Tax Bill

The running joke throughout the world is that there are only two things guaranteed in life: death and taxes. It’s sarcastically spoken, but there’s a great nugget of truth in there. Everyone at some point will have to be faced with dealing with paying taxes, and the action itself has become synonymous with stress.

It doesn’t have to be so bad, though. If you know what you are doing or you work with a tax expert, your tax bill can be cushioned from the blow it may otherwise have landed you. 

Whether you are doing your taxes solo or getting help from a pro, here are 10 powerful ways you can save money on your tax bill this year.

10 Ways to Reduce Your Taxes

1. Begin with the end in mind as you organize. Taxes are not something you should put off until right before you go to do them. If you get a process in place to keep your receipts, books, and finances organized in the beginning, it becomes a simple matter of a few steps you can do each day or week.

2. Claim everything that you are eligible for. Be sure you are claiming all of the tax deductions that you can and all of the tax credits that you can. This is where a tax expert comes in handy. For more information on reputable tax companies, view here.

Deductions can be performed in one of two ways. You can take a standard deduction, in which case you will receive the basic deduction given by the IRS to millions of Americans, or you can itemize your deductions if you think that your individual deductions will add up to more than the standardized one.

3. Don’t forget to donate! It may seem counterproductive, but donating to charities is considered a good cause and you can claim it on your taxes. As long as the charity you are donating to is considered to be a qualified charity (your children and your spouse don’t count), you can write off donations of money, goods, and stocks as long as you save the receipts.

4. Consider your future. The government does not want to have to be fully supporting you when you retire, so they look favorably on retirement plans and people who plan ahead. Contributions towards your retirement account are tax deductible and can help you reduce your taxes.

5. Healthcare is also a tax relief. While you may have to spend money in a Health Savings Account, a Flexible Spending Account, or straight to the medical provider, these expenses may be able to be used to cushion your tax bill if they meet certain requirements. They are funded with pretax money. An HSA can only be used if you have a qualifying health insurance plan that has a high deductible.

The caveat with an FSA or HSA is that you have to use up the majority of your contribution annually or it disappears. Some employers give you a grace period, but not everyone. There’s also a contribution limit, so be careful when you place your pre-tax money in one of these accounts and make sure you are not going over the annual contribution limit.

6. Don’t immediately cash in on your investments. Short-term assets are taxed at a regular income tax rate, which can be quite expensive and decrease the capital gain you would have otherwise had. Instead, try to keep the asset for over one year, turning it into a long-term holding. This reduced the tax rate, helping you to save some money.

7. Consider your mortgage. Buying and selling a home makes a huge impact on your taxes the following year. If you purchase a home, you now have monthly mortgage payments with lots of interest. The good news about this significant interest is that it is tax deductible if you are itemizing your deductions. 

Selling your home makes a big impact, too, so you have to be careful when you decide to make this change. There’s a home sale exclusion rule in which you can exclude a big chunk of the gain of your home’s sale if you follow the rules carefully. If you don’t fit this exclusion, you can expect to pay a hefty tax on your gains.

8. Be sure you are using the correct filing status. Read up on what each of the filing statuses means. If you can qualify for “head of household,” you can get better tax rates and a higher standard deduction, giving you a smaller overall tax bill.

Married couples can decide whether the numbers make more sense to do “married filing separately” or “married filing jointly.” 

9. Watch for changes in the tax codes. Part of what makes filing taxes so overwhelming to a lot of people is that they are always changing. Sometimes these changes are for your benefit, though, so pay attention to them as much as you can. 

If you know about the tax codes early enough, you may be able to use them to reduce your tax bill. For instance, recent changes capped deductions for income, sales and property taxes at $10,000, so if you were planning on deducting more, you may have to rethink your tax strategy. On the other hand, the marriage penalty is almost gone, so if that was keeping you from tying the knot, you can go full speed ahead!

10. Hire a tax professional. When it comes to your taxes, it’s not financially smart to play around with them if you don’t know what you are doing. Sure, a professional may cost you an upfront fee, but they may also be able to save you that fee and much more! 

Money Matters: Keep Your Money in Your Pocket

No one wants to pay more to the IRS than they have to, but they also don’t want to mess up and bring the wrath of the IRS down on them, either. Knowing the tax code and how to file your taxes correctly can help you do exactly what you need to do and still save money on your tax bill every year.