Learning How to Appreciate the US Dollar on the World Exchange Market

Learning How to Appreciate the US Dollar on the World Exchange Market

When Visiting Another Country

If we remain at home and do not travel abroad, we can appreciate what it is like in other countries by looking at the pictures that our friends bring back from their visits to other countries. Not everyone can be a world traveler, but some have the resources to travel and share their experiences. This is the case with a travel journalist who spends their whole life traveling from country to country and taking pictures for others who may be interested in visiting.

Travel Journalist

Of course, tourism loves a travel journalist because people get a chance to see what the country is like before they visit, and this attracts visitors to the country. At some point, the tourist does travel outside the United States or other departure cities and travel to their destinations outside of their native countries. When they go to another country, they will need to exchange their currency with the currency of the country they are traveling in. Foreign exchanges are suitable for businesses who can receive their currency at the point of sale, and tourists can exchange foreign currency on their exit.

Use of Foreign Currencies

When we travel to another country, we are in the habit of using another country’s currency. If we go to Japan, we use the yen, but if we travel to Germany, we use the euro. Again if we travel to Iraq, we will receive dinar value for our US dollars. Many currencies are traded throughout the world. The value of these other currencies change to more or less equal to the US dollar, dependant upon the political and economic factors of the country.

Foreign Currencies Change in Value

While we may not notice the fluctuation in the value of the Chinese yen or the German marc, when we are in those countries, every country’s currency is in constant fluctuation. When we land in a country for vacation, we will trade our US dollars for the currency of that country we are vacationing. When we leave the country, we will again trade our British pound for the US dollar, which may have changed during our stay. Our British pound may have become less valuable to us during our vacation and, therefore, when we receive, we receive fewer US dollars. That is what is called the foreign exchange rate.

US Dollar and the Strength of Other Currencies

The US dollar is seen as probably the most robust dollar in foreign exchanges along with the British pound. A few reasons why there is strength in the US dollar is because of the strong economy and its GDP or Gross Domestic Product. Along with a stable democratic government and a capitalistic economy, it gives the US dollar a leading edge over other countries. Some countries may have a different form of government which causes it to be unstable, or they are at a time of unrest and political war within the state. When a country fails to produce products on a world market and few products are being traded with other countries, this will affect that countries value of its currency. The US dollar has a stable government and banking system, especially the Federal Reserve Bank which keeps the US dollar active in both economic growth or economic slumps in the economy.

Iraqi Dinar Against the US Dollar

Presently, the Iraqi dinar (IQD) is trading about 1166 to a US Dollar, which, according to foreign exchanges, is the lowest it has ever been. The IQD has a high value if it could get itself out of the slump that it fell into after the Iraqi War. The strong possibility of a revaluation of the IQD is reliable, but presently its major commodity is oil and oil is not trading well on the world market.

Oil Prices Could Change

Oil is selling at a lower price because there is a great emphasis on finding other kinds of natural fuels. Another problem with the revaluation of the IQD at present is the political unrest the country is experiencing. Finally, the IQD is not traded on some foreign exchanges because of its meager value, even though they trade almost all other foreign currencies. The potential for a revaluation of the IQD is still being held steady for the future. The reason for this revaluation is because of the possibility that oil prices will increase. If oil prices move from their present value to $100 per barrel, then Iraq would be very wealthy. Iraq has a reserve of 143 billion barrels of oil, and they are the fourth largest exporter of oil in the world. At present, this is outside of the hands of the local Iraqi government, and only the future will tell whether the IQD will receive a greater revaluation on the world foreign exchange.

How to Get Your Whole Family on Board with Tackling Debt

How to Get Your Whole Family on Board with Tackling Debt

Source: Unsplash | Sabine Peters

Debt is an issue that affects the lives of many people in the U.S. Sometimes, problems related to debt are made much worse because family members aren’t all in agreement on what to do about it. Here’s how to get your whole family on board with tackling debt.

Helping Your Children Understand Student Loans

Student loan debt is more prevalent now than it has ever been before. While there are plans being thrown around about it potentially being wiped clean by certain presidential candidates, it’s not a good idea to bet on that idea.

There’s now more student loan debt than credit card debt. And while student loans are often considered to be one of the better forms of debt, as education can boost your employability, the payoff doesn’t always make up for the massive cost.

It’s important for families to understand what it means to have student loans. A lot of young people go off to school without thinking too much about their loans. Times were different for their parents. Plus, if everyone else is doing it, there must be a reason, right?

Families should come together to do some math and get a clearer picture of what it’s going to take to pay off that debt after graduation. Doing this might play a role in determining where you ultimately decide to go to school, and when. You can also come up with a plan for how it makes most sense to tackle this debt if it ends up seeming like the right choice.

Making a Full-Family Budget

Budgeting shouldn’t just be the responsibility of one person in every household. After all, everyone spends money. Shouldn’t everyone play a role in determining how it gets spent?

This doesn’t have to entail the kids getting to determine the candy budget for the month. But there are a few benefits to having everyone come together to build the family budget.

First, this can be a learning opportunity—for everyone. The children will get to see how to make a budget and why it’s important. The parents will get to see what kinds of things everyone is spending money on. And everyone can come together to decide what areas it might make sense to cut back a little.

Getting Your Spouse on the Same Page

It’s always a tough situation when you’re having a hard time getting a spouse to see the importance of reducing your debt. This is something that can drive a major divide in your relationship if not addressed and resolved the right way. This is why it’s so important to come up with a plan, together.

Married couples struggling with thousands in debt can consider utilizing a debt relief program. Looking at Freedom Debt Relief reviews shows they’re a highly reliable resource for this. Many enrollees who leave reviews even mention they decided to try settlement for their family’s benefit following an event like a spouse losing a job or unforeseen medical bills.

It’s always tough when one partner has incurred a significantly higher amount of debt than the other. If you’re the one with more debt, it’s best to address the situation as soon as possible and be open to solutions. When your partner is the one with more debt, it can make things more complicated. You should try to avoid making it seem like you’re putting all the blame on them. Do this by mentioning some of the errors you’ve made when it’s come to debt, too.

Another kind of spouse-debt scenario is when one partner has been hiding debt from the other one. This can have huge financial and relationship ramifications if not addressed in a timely manner. When you’re the one with the hidden debt, get it out in the open as soon as possible. You might think that you’re going to pay it off without them knowing, but this is much harder said than done. You’re also not going to address the root causes of that debt if you continue keeping it under wraps.

Try to establish a team mentality so your family can tackle debt together.

You’re not going to get out of debt if your family isn’t on the same page about it. Sitting everyone down to address any issues will bring you closer together and solve problems.

Simple Ways to Cut Back on Unnecessary Spending

Simple Ways to Cut Back on Unnecessary Spending

Money is a major source of stress in our lives, and it just never feels like there’s enough to go around and cover costs. Looking for ways to cut back on unnecessary spending to gain some financial freedom? Ready to make small lifestyle changes to increase your savings and pay off debt? Read on.

You’re Dealing with Debt

One of the reasons that someone might look to cut back on their spending is to increase the amount of money they put towards their debt repayment. For those with large sums of student or credit card debt, the knowledge that you need to make these payments can be stressful. For one, you don’t know how to handle all your payments.

What’s more, debt collectors can be aggressive and sometimes downright intrusive. For financial assistance from qualified financial professionals like Licensed Insolvency Trustees (formerly known as bankruptcy trustees) and credit counsellors, click here for more info about the steps you can take to address and eradicate your debt. With their help, you can establish a debt recovery plan and put a stop to those debt collection calls.

Use Public Transportation

There’s an unsavory quote from the “Iron Lady” herself, Margaret Thatcher, about public transportation. She once said that, “A man who, beyond the age of 26, finds himself on a bus can count himself as a failure.” For many of us today who are concerned about carbon emissions and saving the planet, taking public transportation can be a smart and socially conscious way to travel.

Some cities have more established transportation systems than others, so using public transportation is relative to your location. Still, taking public transportation is an easy way to save money on transportation while also relieving yourself of the costs that comes with car ownership.

Carpool or Use a Rideshare Program

If driving makes more sense that taking public transportation, then consider alternative ways of using a car. These days, people are getting creative with the ways that they share things like cars and homes, with a boom in the sharing economy seen through recent business booms from Uber, Lyft, and AirBnB.

To cut back on the costs that come with regular car payments, insurance, parking, gas, and maintenance — try using a ride sharing program that lets you easily rent a car whenever you need it. You can also carpool with coworkers or friends and split the cost of gas with each other, another way to reduce the amount of money you spend on a car.

Change Your Cell Phone Plan

Do you really need a phone that lets you check social media every hour? Are you paying for phone series that you don’t actually need, but simply use because you have them? You can save a lot of money by going for a bare-bones cell phone plan.

Look for minor carriers with good service that offer contract-less service. After all, we’re constantly hearing about all of the ways cell phones are bad for us. Scaling back on your mobile use will save your money while improving your health and happiness, too.

3 Ways Your Restaurant Can Make More Money, Today

3 Ways Your Restaurant Can Make More Money, Today

Restaurants today face a steep uphill battle: it’s always been a tough industry, but it’s only getting harder. Foodies have never had more choices of where to eat between the explosion of new restaurants and food trucks, so there’s a crowded field competing for their attention and food dollar.

Here are three things you can do which will help drive profit for your restaurant today.

1. Employee Scheduling Software

New employee scheduling software creates schedules all staff will love, and in up to 80% less time than it would otherwise take. This makes a frustrating task easier to perform, but also keeps your employees focused on the tasks that are most useful to the restaurant. It also helps with labor compliance, and saves your restaurant between 1-3% in labor costs, often one of the biggest financial drains restaurants face.

Employee scheduling software lets managers receive feedback from employees after every shift, so they might suggest menu pricing tips to increase your profits or other ideas that you can incorporate right away.

It’s important to let your frontline workers tell you about their perspective; they have unique and invaluable insights nobody else in your business is positioned to see. Employee scheduling software lets your staff submit their feedback anonymously if they chose, so they feel more comfortable speaking candidly.

2. Smart Promotion

Social media has given restaurants a free and powerful tool they can use to let the neighborhood and beyond know what’s going on inside their kitchen. Every restaurant is different, and how you choose to present yourself online needs to be based on your own identity and other circumstances unique to your restaurant.

But once you have your voice, it’s an invaluable tool for gaining public exposure for your restaurant. Be sure to depict your restaurant and food accurately — you don’t want people to leave your restaurant disappointed at the mismatch between your promotion and reality. On the other hand, you want to attract the people who really will love the restaurant once they’re inside it. Give them an accurate preview, so they’re motivated to try your restaurant.

3. Create a Fitting Digital Presence

The trend now for restaurants is undeniable: people are most likely to order food if they can do so through their phone or their computer. Maybe people are just used to doing everything through their phone, but whether it’s to consult a review before dining, calling or booking a reservation through a website or app, or actually ordering the food itself to your door, any restaurant is sinfully negligent if they don’t have a strong online presence.

Be sure you have a website or app that matches the needs and wants of your clientele. If you give them a means of interacting with your restaurant in the way that suits them best, you’ll love the financial return that inevitably follows.

If your restaurant can use modern technology like the latest employee scheduling software, social media, and website or an app, you’ll get the important boost your restaurant needs to stay competitive in this notoriously difficult industry.

Journey to Financial Freedom

Journey to Financial Freedom

Source: Unsplash | Bram Naus

Have you been working for a while to reduce your debt? Many people around the world continuously have debt stare them in the face day after day. While this is a common problem for most people, maybe you are one of the relatively few people that are working on getting your debt under control.

Keeping on Track Despite Obstacles

Even the best-laid plans have obstacles from time to time. For example, one family was just about out of the hole of debt. They had been working at their goal for several years.

Once they got the initial shock from the amount of self-discipline that it takes to get out of debt out of their system, the family slowly but surely climbed their way out of the hole.

They were at the surface of the black hole and almost free. The dad was driving on I-80 coming home from work and was involved in a car accident. He was injured and hospitalized for a little while. All their years of hard work of getting out of debt made the situation a bit easier, but with him not bringing home a paycheck, the debt was starting to mount up quickly.

While it was a huge disappointment for the family, they did look for personal injury lawyers Utah drivers trust and chose a good one. This lawyer helped them recover some of their losses. It took some time, but they did get back on their feet again and finished their climb out of debt.

As you can see from the experience of this family, unexpected things happen in life. It is important not to let the unexpected take control of your financial situation. Seek out whatever legal remedy you can and keep the goal of being debt-free in focus.

As with any project in life, the project of reducing your debt takes a lot of self-discipline. You need to continually analyze what is essential to buy or not. Let us consider a few tips that may help to lessen your debt even faster.

  • Put away the credit cards.Carrying around credit cards can encourage debt because you do not see the cash leaving your wallet.
  • Stop going through the drive-thru.The drive-thru at a fast food restaurant is very convenient. The convenience makes us not realize how much money we are spending. Take a drink and snack with you from home to save money.
  • When you are eating out, order water to drink.It is not really possible for most people to banish all eating out, so on those special occasions where you choose to eat out save a few bucks and drink water.
  • Know where your money is going.It is essential to keep your receipts and add the expenses to a spreadsheet. In this way, you will know exactly where your money is going and can make adjustments to your spending habits.

These are just a few suggestions to help you climb out of debt. As you are taking the momentous climb up the mountain, set little goals for yourself. Once you attain your goal, have a small, inexpensive reward system in place. This reward system will give you the encouragement you need to keep going.

Financial Freedom and You

The burden of being in debt can be very overwhelming and depressing. Going through the process of climbing out of the hole of debt is very educational and worth the climb. The slope of your climb may be steep and very uncomfortable, which may leave you feeling distressed at times. However, you do well to keep the hope of being debt-free alive. Remember, the feeling of being debt-free is uplifting, builds confidence and it is financial freedom from the enslavement of debt.

No matter where you are in the process of climbing out of your mountain of debt, keep going. If you are just starting your journey to financial freedom, lace up your bootstraps and get ready, it is a long walk. Whenever you are tiring out, remind yourself of the goal, and you are closer now than when you started. Keep going! You are going to make it to the top and have financial freedom.

How to Make Money While Making Space in Your Home

How to Make Money While Making Space in Your Home

Minimalism is one of the big fads taking over cities around the world — it could be because people tend to live in smaller homes as cities become more dense, or maybe because physically eliminating what’s unnecessary in our life feels good. It could be a combination of the physical and psychological.

But in either case, here are some ways that you can make money by cleaning out your apartment.

Sell What’s Valuable

Do you have valuables that you don’t actually use? It could be anything from old jewellery you don’t wear, antique coins, or even designer hand bags. If the cash is worth more to you than these physical objects, sell them.

Look to find a gold buyer that has been in operation for years — this is an indication that they’re trustworthy and reliable. They should make it a point to be transparent about the market rates for gold or for whatever you’re selling, and should give you the highest rate possible.

Quality gold buyers will offer you free appraisals, so even if you don’t want to sell your valuables now, at least you’ll know how much it’s worth. You can click here to learn more about how gold buyers operate, and about all the other valuables they purchase aside from gold, such as watches.

Hold a Garage Sale

Holding a garage sale is a classic way to give your old possessions a meaningful second life! It also helps the community, because it gives them a chance to buy things at a much lower rate than they’d find at a store.

If you live in a house you can simply arrange all the objects on the lawn, with either a sticker indicating the price or some kind of storage. If you live in an apartment building or a condo, you can post signs in communal areas advertising your wares, and how much they’re selling for. Leave your phone number, so your neighbours have a way to reach you.

Sell Online

Sometimes what you find in your home isn’t gold, but it’s worth the price of gold to someone else! Before you throw out something that doesn’t hold value to you, consider what it might be worth to somebody else.

The internet has many websites that let you sell things, and that’s a very simple way to connect with somebody looking to buy what you have. When you post an object for sale, describe it fully and accurately, especially about what condition it’s in.

If a prospective buyer finally comes to your home to buy what you’re selling only to balk because it’s in worse condition than the advertisement conveyed, it’s just a waste of everybody’s time. Never misrepresent what you’re selling.

Getting rid of unnecessary things in your home gives you more space to live, and encourages feelings of calmness and serenity. If you follow these tips, not only will you be living in a home with less clutter, you’ll also have more money in your pocket.

Adapt Your Investments to Capitalize on the Crash

Adapt Your Investments to Capitalize on the Crash

A strong portfolio is a diverse portfolio. If you’re going to get ahead of the crowd in today’s economy, you need an investment portfolio that can handle the shocks and surprises that the world is coming to expect.

Since the 2008 recession, investor confidence in the global financial system has remained low. Stock markets have been bullish for years, but many have their doubts about the strength of the economies underpinning that growth. Many believe that bad auto loans in the US could trigger another debt crisis, while growing household debt, stagnant wages, and increasing worker precarity could prove to be even bigger issues across Western economies that haven’t yet seen a recession in the new economy.

Diversification means allocating assets in a way that decreases exposure to risk, protecting your money from uncertainty. But is that all diversification should do? With the right moves, you can adapt your investments to grow during times of crisis. It just might mean taking a more active interest in your money, and thinking hard about your goals. What can you do to protect and grow your finances even in the midst of a crisis?

1) Invest in Gold

Gold prices correlate negatively to share prices; when share prices go into a tailspin, investors move their money into gold as a safe haven. The pressure pushes gold up, and if you want to enjoy the benefits, you need to own gold ahead of the crowd. Gold is very much influenced by the perceptions and sentiments of investors.

Generally speaking, gold is not going to be the money-maker in your portfolio, but once it does move into that position, the benefits can be huge. Gold bull markets tend to happen when inflation is out of control or stock markets are too volatile to make money.

You can buy your gold from a proper online dealer conveniently and securely.

2) Buy Shares After Crashes

Gold’s negative correlation to shares should be your secret weapon to wealth building. As share prices fall and gold prices rise, their proportion in your portfolio will become imbalanced. Rebalancing after a crash will put you in a position not many other investors will get to enjoy; capitalized to buy shares at low prices.

While other investors, still nervous about the volatility that follows market crashes (it can take years for markets to recover), you will now have excess gold that others will be eager to buy at higher prices. You can use that cash injection to snap up shares at low prices and enjoy better returns from the recovery that follows.

3) Use Dollar Cost Averaging

Sometimes you wind up with a windfall, such as a holiday bonus or a tax return. It can be tempting to invest all at once, but there is always a risk associated with timing your investments. Prices could fall six months from now, or they could be higher in a matter of weeks.

Dollar cost averaging means investing a fixed amount of a particular investment on a set schedule. This spreads the risks of timing your investments.

With these strategies in hand, you should have no trouble diversifying the smart way.

Why Now Is the Time to Think About Gold as an Investment

The odds of a recession in 2019 or 2020 are on the rise. Economists predict that there is now a 25% chance of a recession in the next year, up 5% from January. The likelihood of a recession in the next two years is 40%, and economic policies such as trade war with China are not helping the odds.

With a recession on the way, it may be time to start thinking beyond stocks when it comes to your portfolio. A recession can do a number on your portfolio, but there may be some surprising solutions. Gold could be your lifeboat in the coming storm. Few investments are better at weathering bad news in the economy than gold.

You need to think about gold as an investment, not just expensive jewelry. Consider some of the ways in which gold acts as an investment.

#1 Tangible Assets

Gold is unique in that it is an asset you can hold in your hand. Gold comes in the form of coins and bars and it must be physically stored. Unlike stocks and bonds which are paper (or digital) representations of your capital investments, gold is literally solid.

#2 Liquidity

Gold can be turned into cash wherever you are in the world. It’s the original international exchange of value and, until the 1970s, it was gold-backing that lent the U.S. dollar its international dominance. The most readily accepted form of gold is the bullion-grade 1 oz. gold coin. Bullion-grade refers to purity: .99 purity (24 karat and higher than most jewelry) is the easiest gold to exchange.

#3 Low Third Party Risk

You can further reduce the risks of owning gold by going with non-bank, fully-insured storage. The issue with bank storage is that your gold then becomes a deposit and you a depositor. In the event of another financial crisis on the scale of what the world saw on 2008, governments could introduce bank bail-in legislation (where they haven’t already), a regime in which banks that need a cash infusion take it from the investors and depositors rather than from taxpayers. Depending on how bail-ins are implemented, even small savers could be affected.

#4 Other Gold Risks

Every investment comes with risks, and gold is no exception. It pays to pay attention to gold prices before you buy. Have they been climbing rapidly in recent days, weeks, or years? That could be a sign of overbuying and an imminent price plummet.

It’s ultimately impossible to predict exactly which way gold prices are going to go depending on market factors, but use some common sense before you invest. Gold is riskier if a bull market has been raging for years already. Gold prices tend to fall due to speculation overvaluing it, and growing opportunities on the stock market.

#5 Why Gold Is Good

Gold is a good asset for investors who need to reduce their risks. Gold is a way of protecting your wealth from stock market jitters, global uncertainty, and inflation. In countries in crisis, gold can be a lifeline for families when inflation renders currencies worthless. For U.S. investors, gold provides some portfolio balance. Diversification leads to a stronger portfolio.

Gold can play an important role in your portfolio. If you’ve always treated gold as jewelry, it’s time to start thinking about how you can use it as an investment vehicle.

The Importance Of Paying Your Back Taxes On Time

The Importance Of Paying Your Back Taxes On Time

Despite being a vital part of the economy, not many of us like paying taxes. While we may not disagree with what the revenue is eventually spent on, the process of paying the IRS can cause quite a headache. This is made even worse when you consider that not paying on time, or not paying exactly what we owe, can result in a few different consequences that can be quite significant. Because of that, sometimes the process can be enough for us thinking about leaving society so that we don’t have to go through it.

However, this sadly isn’t a reality for the vast majority of us, so we’ll have to ensure that we pay the IRS on time. This may not always happen, though, and some people might find that they’re either paying their taxes late or even filing them late. These penalties can be caused by a variety of different things, such as failure to deposit estimated tax payments, insufficient check funds and much more. When this happens, it can cause quite a considerable amount of stress, especially when we consider how much we might have to pay in penalties and more. That doesn’t have to be the case, however, as the IRS Penalty Forgiveness program might be able to help you.

There can be a significant number of people who may not know what this is; as a result, a considerable amount of people who are eligible for the assistance might go without it. Because of that, they might go through a significant amount of financial burden as a result of the penalties associated with not paying your taxes on time. Then there’s the stress that may also come with figuring out how to pay these back taxes. With that in mind, it’s worth looking at what the IRS Penalty Forgiveness program is and how it might help you going forward.

What Is IRS Penalty Forgiveness?

While there is a certain amount of people who choose not to pay their taxes either on time or at all, this isn’t the case for everyone. Instead, the majority of people who pay or file their taxes late may do so because they weren’t financially able to pay on time. This is something that many people feel they shouldn’t be punished for, and the IRS agrees. This is what the focus of the penalty forgiveness program is. In essence, it’s when the IRS agrees to forgo any penalties or fees for failing to pay your taxes as a result of matters beyond your control.

Types Of Penalty Forgiveness

While many people may assume that there’s one type of penalty forgiveness, they’d be mistaken. Instead, the IRS has noted that there are a few different types. The first of these is a First Time Penalty Abatement, which is what the name suggests. As such, it’s something that can only be gotten if it’s the first time you’ve paid your taxes late. It should be noted that you can only apply for this abatement once you’ve paid your back taxes in full, as the fees and penalties grow for as long as you have an outstanding balance.

Perhaps the most common reason that the IRS has forgiven tax penalties is for reasonable cause. This is when someone is unable to pay their taxes because of unforeseen events that may be outside of their control. However, it should be noted that financial troubles may not be considered here, although the cause of this hardship may be considered. For example, paying off debt may not be considered reasonable cause. Some of the most notable reasons that the IRS has forgiven these penalties are a natural disaster, serious illness or loss of access to documents.

When you’re applying for the Reasonable Cause program, you’ll also need to provide proof of reasonable cause. This will include the likes of factual accounts and documentation of events, as well as how they caused you to miss your tax payments. This shouldn’t be too difficult, though, and the IRS will work with you to inform you as to what kind of documentation you’ll need to provide.

The IRS may also issue a Statutory Exception for your penalties, although this is relatively uncommon. This typically occurs when the IRS provides you with inaccurate information for filing your taxes which results in you underpaying or missing a payment.

From Mortgages to Home Inspection Costs: Getting your First Home

From Mortgages to Home Inspection Costs: Getting your First Home

Souce: Flickr

The dream of owning a home is something that still motivates many Americans. Owning your own home isn’t simply about having somewhere to live for as long as you want, it is also about making what could be a profitable investment in your family’s future.

And even though younger generations of Americans have seemed more reluctant than their parents or grandparents to join the ranks of homeowners, studies have shown that the vast majority of millennials still expect to own their own home at some point in their life.

But for those who are embarking on home ownership for the first time, the process of finding and buying a first home can be intimidating. Here are some key things to remember if you are thinking of taking the plunge and becoming a homeowner.

Financial Self-Assessment

The starting point to the home-buying process is to make sure that your finances are as strong as they can be. To start with, take the time to run a credit report on yourself, and analyze the results. Doing what you can to improve your credit rating, such as paying off credit card balances, can help when it comes to taking out a mortgage, and if your credit rating is likely to take a few months to improve, then it is worth taking this time out before beginning the house buying process.

Prepare Financially

Once you’ve done a little financial housekeeping, the next step is to assess how much money you can afford to spend on a house. This includes the level of deposit you will be able to afford, and the approximate amount you will be able to pay in mortgage payments, taxes, interest and insurance, along with an allowance for future maintenance costs.

Home Inspection Costs

Another expense that you should prepare for is the cost of the home inspection. There are plenty of resources online to help you find out more about home inspections, but essentially this is a report that you have to carry out later on in the process, after you have found a home and made an offer. Some home buyers make the mistake of overlooking this home inspection cost early on and may not have funds available to compete the inspection report, so make sure you put money aside at the start.

Realtors and Mortgages

The next stage is to find a real estate agent that you feel you can work with as you start your home search. A good agent will not only work with you throughout the process, they will also help you to get in touch with the different specialists, including financial advisors and home inspectors, whose help you will need to buy your property. And it is a good idea to go through your mortgage options with a financial advisor at an early stage. A key aspect of choosing the right mortgage is to work out how much money you have to put down as a deposit, but beyond this factor, there are many types of mortgages from conventional loans to FHA loans and VA loans, and a good financial adviser will take into account your circumstances and financial history to help you find the right one.

Starting Your Search

Whether your agent is sending you potential properties, or you are doing the searching yourself, start by narrowing down the areas in which you would like to live. If you are unable to find anything suitable within that area, be prepared to expand it. Then it is simply a matter of taking the time to visit the homes you are interested in, asking as many questions as you can think of and being prepared to make further visits as required, until you have found the best home for you.

Securing Your Home

Making an offer and having it accepted is only the start of confirming the purchase. There will still be many weeks and a lot of paperwork to get through, including the home inspection report mentioned earlier, before you are able to sign contracts. Don’t forget to put some money aside to cover additional closing costs, which can often amount to as much as five percent of the sale price. You will also usually have a final chance to look around the place before you move in, to make sure that there have not been any significant changes since you made your offer. And with all that complete, you are ready to take ownership of your new home!

Buying your first home can be a stressful process, but by making sure that you plan thoroughly and leave as little as possible to chance, you can keep the stress to a minimum and achieve your dream of home ownership as quickly and smoothly as possible.