maintenance http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/9742/all en-US 7 Added Costs That Come With a Bigger House http://www.wisebread.com/7-added-costs-that-come-with-a-bigger-house <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/7-added-costs-that-come-with-a-bigger-house" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/model_of_a_small_and_a_big_house.jpg" alt="Model of a small and a big house" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Like most things in America, the size of our homes is expanding. According to data collected by Zillow, the median size of a detached single-family home has grown 24 percent since the late 1990s (from 2,100 square feet to about 2,600 square feet).</p> <p>The trend isn't surprising. After all, <em>bigger, better, more</em> is part of our national identity &mdash; along with reality TV, free refills, and sweatpants that look like jeans. However, if you're thinking about buying a bigger home, proceed with caution. The added expenses go far beyond a steeper mortgage. Here are the extra costs that come with a bigger house.</p> <h2>1. Property taxes</h2> <p>There's usually a correlation between home size and home value. And since more valuable homes are assessed higher property taxes, expect to pay more. While tax rates vary by jurisdiction, most homeowners pay about 1.2 to 2 percent of the property's assessed value in taxes each year.</p> <h2>2. Homeowners insurance</h2> <p>Again, assuming that larger homes are worth more, expect your insurance premium to grow with the size of your space. Though there are many variables and deductions, plan on paying about $4 in premiums for every $1,000 in appraised value. For example, a home that's worth $200,000 could be insured for approximately $800 annually. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-other-kinds-of-insurance-you-may-need-to-buy-for-your-home?ref=seealso" target="_blank">7 Other Kinds of Insurance You May Need to Buy for Your Home</a>)</p> <h2>3. Utilities</h2> <p>Don't forget about those frigid winters and sweltering summers. With more space to heat and cool, your utility costs are likely to rise. Before you buy, have your real estate agent ask the current owners what they typically pay for electricity and gas during peak months. This will give you an idea of how much you can expect to see those costs jump. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/34-smart-ways-to-cut-your-electric-bill?ref=seealso" target="_blank">34 Smart Ways to Cut Your Electric Bill</a>)</p> <h2>4. Maintenance and lawn care</h2> <p>Larger houses are usually situated on larger lots, and that equates to higher landscaping and lawn care bills (or more time and more tools if you do it yourself). Additionally, maintaining a larger home can be more expensive &mdash; think more rooms to clean, more windows to wash, and more exterior surface to scrape and paint. Be ready to commit a significant portion of your days or your dollars to keeping the new place looking sharp.</p> <h2>5. Repairs</h2> <p>What grows with the size of your home? Your repair budget. More bathrooms mean more toilets to back up and more dripping faucets to fix. Have a foundation problem, electrical issue, or a roof to replace? Get ready to upsize your spending. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-simple-household-repairs-every-frugal-person-should-master?ref=seealso" target="_blank">10 Simple Household Repairs Every Frugal Person Should Master</a>)</p> <h2>6. Furnishings</h2> <p>Unless your style is &quot;empty chic,&quot; more house means more square footage to furnish and decorate. Artwork, window treatments, rugs, sofas, and beds (oh my!) &mdash; they can all add up to a few thousand dollars in no time.</p> <h2>7. Expectations</h2> <p>A curious thing happens when people move into larger homes: It's expected that they'll entertain more, host holiday parties, and serve as the hub for every family gathering. All that merriment costs money. Whether those ballooning expectations are internal or external, plan on adding a few extra bucks to the &quot;entertainment&quot; column of your budget.</p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <div align="center"><a data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-count="above" data-pin-tall="true" href="https://www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2F7-added-costs-that-come-with-a-bigger-house&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2F7%2520Added%2520Costs%2520That%2520Come%2520With%2520a%2520Bigger%2520House.jpg&amp;description=7%20Added%20Costs%20That%20Come%20With%20a%20Bigger%20House"></a></p> <script async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/7%20Added%20Costs%20That%20Come%20With%20a%20Bigger%20House.jpg" alt="7 Added Costs That Come With a Bigger House" width="250" height="374" /></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/kentin-waits">Kentin Waits</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-added-costs-that-come-with-a-bigger-house">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/20-questions-to-ask-during-an-open-house">20+ Questions to Ask During an Open House</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/heres-why-your-house-is-not-an-investment">Stop Thinking of Your House as an Investment</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-unexpected-costs-of-living-in-a-tiny-house">5 Unexpected Costs of Living in a Tiny House</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-questions-to-ask-before-signing-a-lease">10 Questions to Ask Before Signing a Lease</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-things-you-can-negotiate-when-buying-a-home">6 Things You Can Negotiate When Buying a Home</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Real Estate and Housing bigger houses costs expenses homeownership maintenance property taxes repairs upsizing utilities Thu, 01 Mar 2018 09:00:06 +0000 Kentin Waits 2108284 at http://www.wisebread.com Your Car Was Recalled. Now What? http://www.wisebread.com/your-car-was-recalled-now-what <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/your-car-was-recalled-now-what" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/car_shaped_note_on_cork_notice_board.jpg" alt="Car shaped Note on cork notice board" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>If you feel like you hear about car recalls constantly, you're right. In 2016, there were almost 53 million recalls, according to Roadshow by CNET. And although we're only just into 2018, Cars.com reports some 50 million Takata air bag inflaters are currently under recall. With car parts constantly being tested and updated, you're bound to get a recall letter yourself at some point. But what should you do when you are on the recall list? (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/bookmark-this-save-money-with-an-easy-to-follow-car-maintenance-checklist?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Bookmark This: Save Money With an Easy to Follow Car Maintenance Checklist</a>)</p> <h2>First, there's no need to panic</h2> <p>You're driving along in your car, maybe getting groceries or picking the kids up from school, when you hear the news on the radio &mdash; XYZ automaker is recalling four million cars. You have that car, and it's only natural that it scares you a little. After all, your car is not only your primary means of transportation, but if something is wrong with it, could your life be in danger? Fortunately, probably not.</p> <p>Most recalls are minor, and have very little impact on the way the vehicle operates. If it's a voluntary recall from the manufacturer, it's likely not a big issue. If the NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) gets involved, it could be more serious. And although a recall is only issued when it is a safety hazard, those risks can be very small.</p> <h2>Find out exactly what kind of recall has been issued</h2> <p>As soon as you get the chance, call your local dealership or check the internet and find out what kind of recall has been put in place. It could be something as simple as a software update. Maybe one particular part has broken on some models, and the manufacturer is replacing them all as a precaution (most err on the side of extreme caution rather than risk a lawsuit).</p> <p>You should have also received a letter or email from the manufacturer, and you can verify your issue by typing in your VIN (it's on the driver's side dashboard) to a site like <a href="https://www.nhtsa.gov/recalls" target="_blank">NHTSA.gov</a>, <a href="https://www-odi.nhtsa.dot.gov/owners/SearchSafetyIssues" target="_blank">Safecar.gov</a>, or <a href="https://www.cars.com/recalls/" target="_blank">Cars.com</a>.</p> <h2>Read what's detailed in the recall notice</h2> <p>The chances are that you'll be notified about the recall in several ways, including local and national news reports, a call from the dealership, email, and a physical letter. The letter and email will highlight several factors about the recall, and will include:</p> <ul> <li> <p>a complete description of the defect or issue.</p> </li> <li> <p>what you should look for to see if your car is already experiencing issues.</p> </li> <li> <p>the dangers the defect presents.</p> </li> <li> <p>what the manufacturer will do to resolve the problem.</p> </li> <li> <p>how long you can expect the repair to take.</p> </li> <li> <p>the name and address of the nearest approved repair facility.</p> </li> <li> <p>contact information should you have additional questions.</p> </li> </ul> <h2>Find out if the recall is covered by the warranty or manufacturer</h2> <p>A lot of people assume that the recall is covered. After all, the manufacturer made the mistake, so shouldn't they pay for the repair or replacement? Timing is a big factor in the answer to that question. As DMV.org points out, there is a 10-year window for recalls. That means 10 years from the original purchase date of the new car, not 10 years from the day you bought it. So if you bought it used when it was 11 years old, you're not within the recall window.</p> <p>If you aren't covered, you have to weigh the time and expense of the repair against the seriousness of the issue. For example, if it's a faulty wiper blade motor and it hasn't failed you yet, maybe wait until it starts giving you issues. A recall doesn't mean the part is guaranteed to break.</p> <h2>Make an appointment with an approved garage</h2> <p>If the recall affects only a small percentage of cars, you likely won't have an issue finding an appointment time. In many instances, active recalls are checked when you bring your car in for an oil change or tire rotation, and can often be repaired during that appointment.</p> <p>However, if it's a large recall, or requires a specific part, call ahead and make an appointment for that specific issue to be repaired. This will give the service manager time to order the parts needed to complete the recall. While the majority of recalls can be dealt with quickly, some can have the local garages backed up for months. Hopefully, you can still drive the car safely until then.</p> <h2>If the car is unsafe to drive, make arrangements until it is repaired</h2> <p>Most of the time, the recall isn't going to make the car undrivable or unsafe. However, if the issue poses a serious risk to you and your family, are you really expected to drive it until the repair can happen? In some instances, the waiting list is long. What do you do for transportation?</p> <p>In some cases, the auto manufacturer may offer to pay for a rental vehicle to customers affected by the recall. However, this varies from case to case, and in some instances it's possible you will have to cover the cost of a substitute vehicle while your recalled car is waiting for repairs.</p> <h2>Stay vigilant</h2> <p>Drive the car and see if everything feels the same as it did before you took it in to be repaired. If you have issues, or something else has come up that wasn't there before the recall, contact the repair facility and voice your concerns.</p> <p>Even if everything turns out great, that does not mean you are free and clear forever. There may be other recalls issued during the time you own the car, and you should make a point to check in with the NHTSA periodically to ensure your car is not part of a different recall. Parts fail. Problems happen. Be vigilant.</p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <div align="center"><a data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-count="above" data-pin-tall="true" href="https://www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Fyour-car-was-recalled-now-what&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2FYour%2520Car%2520Was%2520Recalled.%2520Now%2520What_.jpg&amp;description=Your%20Car%20Was%20Recalled.%20Now%20What%3F"></a></p> <script async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/Your%20Car%20Was%20Recalled.%20Now%20What_.jpg" alt="Your Car Was Recalled. Now What?" width="250" height="374" /></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/paul-michael">Paul Michael</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/your-car-was-recalled-now-what">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-easy-diy-car-repairs-to-save-big">8 Easy DIY Car Repairs to Save Big</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-hidden-costs-of-a-luxury-car">4 Hidden Costs of a Luxury Car</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/buying-a-rental-car-heres-what-you-need-to-know">Buying a Rental Car? Here&#039;s What You Need to Know</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/11-smart-ways-to-boost-your-gas-mileage">11 Smart Ways to Boost Your Gas Mileage</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-questions-to-ask-when-buying-a-used-car">8 Questions to Ask When Buying a Used Car</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Cars and Transportation auto manufacturers driving maintenance recalls rental cars repairs safety vehicles Thu, 22 Feb 2018 09:30:05 +0000 Paul Michael 2105358 at http://www.wisebread.com 8 Questions to Ask When Buying a Used Car http://www.wisebread.com/8-questions-to-ask-when-buying-a-used-car <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/8-questions-to-ask-when-buying-a-used-car" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/visiting_car_dealership.jpg" alt="Visiting car dealership" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Buying a used car can feel a little like a crap shoot. Is the car you have your eye on really worth the thousands you're going to spend on it? Or will you find it's held together with Band-Aids and twine after driving it off the dealer's lot?</p> <p>But buying a used car doesn't have to be nerve-wracking or expensive. You just need to know what you should be asking throughout the process. These eight questions can help you to find an affordable used car that will keep you on the road for years to come. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/could-you-put-away-a-million-dollars-by-driving-a-used-car?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Could You Put Away a Million Dollars by Driving a Used Car?</a>)</p> <h2>Questions to ask yourself</h2> <p>Before you even start debating the relative merits of a sedan versus an SUV, you need to ask yourself some important questions. These are going to be the basis of your used car purchasing decision, so don't think you can skip over them to get to the part where you're salivating over pictures of cars online.</p> <h3>1. How much work am I willing to do to get a deal?</h3> <p>When you buy a used car, you can spend money and save time by making a purchase from a reputable local dealer &mdash; or you can spend time and save money by buying direct from a local private seller. And whether you purchase from a dealer or a private seller, you can often find better deals if you broaden your search to include nearby cities.</p> <p>This is why it's a good idea for you to recognize whether you have more time or more money at your disposal. If you know that you are not willing or able to devote a great deal of time to your search, you might not find the best price possible. And if you don't have a great deal of money to spend, your search might take longer while you try to find the right price.</p> <h3>2. What is my budget?</h3> <p>Whether you plan to pay cash for your used car or you expect to take on an auto loan, you need to start with a good look at how much car you can afford. According to the 2017 Edmunds Used Vehicle Market Report, the average price of a used car was a whopping $19,189 in 2016.</p> <p>If you don't have the full cost of your new-to-you car saved up, make sure you have calculated the monthly cost of financing the vehicle. For instance, let's say you have $4,000 set aside to put down on a $19,000 car. A 48-month loan of $15,000 at 3.24 percent interest will cost you $334 per month.</p> <p>Of course, your monthly car payment is not the only cost associated with buying a car. You will also need to calculate your insurance costs, since different vehicle models can have different insurance premiums. In addition, different vehicles can require varying levels of maintenance and the cost of parts, labor, and repairs can be higher or lower depending on which car you choose.</p> <p>Taking the time to figure out your car shopping budget, as well as your insurance and maintenance budget, can help you zero in on the right make and model for your finances, even before you start looking for the specific car you want to buy.</p> <h3>3. How will I finance this purchase?</h3> <p>If you are planning to take on an auto loan, don't wait until after you've found the car you want to get your financing in place. Whether you are purchasing a car from a dealer or a private seller, having your financing secured ahead of time gives you an important bargaining chip. You will be empowered to negotiate with the seller in the same way that a cash buyer could. You will not be stuck with the terms offered by the dealer's financing options, and you will make it clear to a private seller that you are a motivated buyer.</p> <p>To find the right loan, you can shop around among banks and credit unions for the best rates and terms. Doing this ahead of time will also allow you to make rational decisions that aren't motivated by lust for a particular vehicle that is calling your name.</p> <h2>Question to ask the internet</h2> <p>Now we get to the fun part. You've figured out your budget, so you can start looking online at local (or not-so-local, if you're willing to travel for a deal) used cars for sale. But rather than just make a list of possibilities in your price range, don't forget to do a little research on the particular makes and models that you are planning to test drive.</p> <h3>4. What are common problems with this make and model?</h3> <p>Automotive engineers and manufacturers are not perfect, which means there can be common problems with certain models that are predictable if you know a little about the brand. For instance, Honda Accord V6s released between 1999 and 2004 have a widespread transmission problem that often requires an expensive transmission replacement. While not all common problems are as costly as this one, it is always a good idea to know as much as possible about the known complaints about your potential purchase before you even go for a test drive.</p> <p>If Google is not coming up with answers, consider finding a car enthusiast forum for the particular make and model you're looking to buy. Ask these friendly folks for some insight.</p> <h2>Questions to ask the seller over the phone</h2> <p>At this point, it's tempting to just go test drive the cars on your finalist list. But before you do this, you should pick up the phone and have a conversation with the dealer or seller. Here are some questions you can ask to help you narrow down your search before committing to a test drive:</p> <h3>5. Can you tell me about any recent maintenance or repair?</h3> <p>A used car has a history, which means there must have been some maintenance, and possibly some repair. You want to find a seller who is able to tell you what kinds of maintenance and repairs were recently done. If the seller claims that the 10-year-old vehicle you're interested in has needed nothing but oil changes, that could be a red flag, particularly if you know what common problems crop up on that make and model.</p> <p>You should also consider pulling the car's history report from Carfax or Autocheck. That way, you can double check that the maintenance and repairs the seller claims to have done match up with those documented on the vehicle history report. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-buy-a-used-car-without-getting-ripped-off?ref=seealso" target="_blank">How to Buy a Used Car Without Getting Ripped Off</a>)</p> <h3>6. Can my mechanic look at the vehicle before I make my final decision?</h3> <p>If the answer is anything other than yes, hang up the phone and move on.</p> <h2>Questions to ask your mechanic</h2> <p>Once you've narrowed down the options, it's time to let your trusted mechanic give it a once-over. Since your mechanic may not feel comfortable just giving you a thumbs up or thumbs down, here are two questions to ask to help you decide if the car is right for you:</p> <h3>7. Did the owner do a good job of maintaining this vehicle?</h3> <p>A well-made car that was poorly maintained may be a worse bet than a mediocre car that was lovingly maintained. Your mechanic will be able to tell you if the previous owner stayed on top of necessary regular and irregular maintenance.</p> <h3>8. Did the previous owner use cheap parts or good parts?</h3> <p>Not all car parts are created equal. A previous owner who did repairs with low-quality, cheap parts may have done a disservice to the car (and the next owner). Other than taking the car completely apart, there will be no way to know if all replacement parts were high-quality &mdash; but asking if the easy-to-check parts are good quality can be a decent indicator that the previous owner took good care of the vehicle.</p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <div align="center"><a data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-count="above" data-pin-tall="true" href="https://www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2F8-questions-to-ask-when-buying-a-used-car&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2F8%2520Questions%2520to%2520Ask%2520When%2520Buying%2520a%2520Used%2520Car.jpg&amp;description=8%20Questions%20to%20Ask%20When%20Buying%20a%20Used%20Car"></a></p> <script async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/8%20Questions%20to%20Ask%20When%20Buying%20a%20Used%20Car.jpg" alt="8 Questions to Ask 8 Questions to Ask When Buying a Used Car" width="250" height="374" /></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/emily-guy-birken">Emily Guy Birken</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-questions-to-ask-when-buying-a-used-car">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-4"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-easy-diy-car-repairs-to-save-big">8 Easy DIY Car Repairs to Save Big</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-hidden-costs-of-a-luxury-car">4 Hidden Costs of a Luxury Car</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/your-car-was-recalled-now-what">Your Car Was Recalled. Now What?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-long-does-it-take-break-even-with-an-electric-car">How Long Does It Take to Break Even With an Electric Car</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/to-change-the-bulb-just-remove-the-bumper-wait-what">To change the bulb, just remove the bumper. Wait, what? - UPDATED.</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Cars and Transportation buying a car dealerships maintenance mechanics questions repairs test drive used car Thu, 01 Feb 2018 09:30:14 +0000 Emily Guy Birken 2094521 at http://www.wisebread.com 4 Hidden Costs of a Luxury Car http://www.wisebread.com/4-hidden-costs-of-a-luxury-car <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/4-hidden-costs-of-a-luxury-car" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/model_in_sunglasses_sitting_in_luxury_retro_car.jpg" alt="Model in sunglasses sitting in luxury retro car" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>You've seen the commercials: an oversized, red bow atop a shiny new luxury car in the driveway. You can all but imagine the new car aroma wafting while an exuberant recipient jumps for joy in his or her jammies.</p> <p>Luxury cars make a statement. They say something about the owner's arrival into a land of accomplishment. They stand out in a sea of moderately priced alternatives. Heck, they just look better. But, they can also have you scrambling to stay on top of your finances.</p> <p>Even if you've absorbed the sticker shock and accepted that a new luxury car will cost you more than the comparable non-luxury model, there are other hidden costs that can transform that new car smell into a rotten stench of budget overrun. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-new-car-costs-the-dealer-is-hiding-from-you?ref=seealso" target="_blank">10 New Car Costs the Dealer Is Hiding From You</a>)</p> <p>Everything costs more with a luxury car. Do your homework before signing on the dotted line.</p> <h2>Insurance</h2> <p>Insurance is one of the not-so-sexy must-haves that every buyer must reckon with after leaving the car lot. As you would expect, a fender bender with your shiny new luxury mobile will cost more to repair. The insurance company will pass the cost along in the form of higher premiums.</p> <p>Just how much your insurance costs rise depends on your new car. Let's compare a top-of-the-line Toyota Camry to an entry-level luxury model, the Mercedes C300. A fully loaded Camry in Chicago tops out at $33,000 according to TrueCar.com. Slide into an entry-level C-class Mercedes, standard frills only, starting with a $40,000 price tag.</p> <p>A quick search on InsuranceQuotes.com shows that as a married woman in her 40s, I would pay $1,500 annually for the typical Toyota Sedan insurance premium. By comparison, I would fork out a whopping $2,689 a year to ensure my new hot Mercedes. That's an additional $1,189 a year, an 80 percent increase, to ride in style.</p> <h2>Gasoline</h2> <p>Fuel costs are another ongoing expense to calculate when considering a luxury car. Luxury cars, with their massive engines, are built for performance, not fuel economy. That's why premium fuel is required to keep these marvels humming. The national average for regular gas prices is $2.48 per gallon, according to AAA. That average jumps to $3.01 for premium prices.</p> <p>In Illinois, we have the honor of paying even more for gas. Premium prices are currently an average $3.37 per gallon, while regular fuel costs around $2.62 per gallon. So my fuel costs on average per year will cost $1,800 annually for the Mercedes vs. $1,500 a year to drive a Camry, according to a calculator on FuelEcomony.gov.</p> <p>Maybe you're not bothered by an additional $300 in fuel costs. We're not done yet.</p> <h2>Maintenance and repairs</h2> <p>Repairs will also cost you more for luxury models. The parts are more expensive. Technicians have to be specially-trained to work with the complicated gadgets. Even if you opt for non-dealer mechanics, repairs will undoubtedly add to your cost of ownership as the car ages. Non-luxury cars need maintenance, too, but repairs and upkeep are cheaper.</p> <p>Toyotas are famous for their new car care programs. Toyota purchases include ToyotaCare, which covers factory-scheduled maintenance costs for the first two years or 25,000 miles. Your oil changes, tire rotations, and brake inspections are covered.</p> <p>Mercedes, on the other hand, offers a prepaid maintenance package starting at $769. According to MBUSA.com, the Mercedes-Benz website, the package will save you 30 percent on routine maintenance costs over three years compared to paying as you go. This one-time fee covers the car for three years or 30,000 miles.</p> <p>Once these new car protections expire, the difference between maintenance cost grows. YourMechanic.com ranks the cost to maintain all of the major car brands. Mercedes, not surprisingly, is one of the most expensive cars to maintain &mdash; right after BMWs &mdash; at nearly $13,000 over 10 years. A Toyota should cost only $5,500 to maintain over 10 years. In annual terms, the Mercedes costs $750 more than the Toyota to maintain. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-cars-you-can-drive-almost-forever?ref=seealso" target="_blank">6 Cars You Can Drive (Almost) Forever</a>)</p> <h2>Depreciation and taxes</h2> <p>No one walks into a dealership and wonders how much depreciation will impact their cost of ownership. Maybe we should. This hidden cost impacts your car's resale value. Luxury car values continue to drop after standard car depreciation rates tend to level off. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/3-reasons-why-you-should-never-buy-a-new-car?Ref=seealso" target="_blank">3 Reasons Why You Should Never Buy a New Car</a>)</p> <p>The higher cost of maintenance and repairs has a lot to do with that. Think about it. Someone buying your used luxury car is taking on an expensive bill with their new-to-them car purchase. It will cost you more, in terms of lower resale value, to sell your car when you're ready to upgrade.</p> <p>Kelly Blue Book has a handy tool that will allow you to compare a car's depreciation as a portion of the total five-year cost of ownership. Our Mercedes in this example would lose $27,000 by year five, versus a $16,700 loss for the Camry.</p> <p>In the end, you may still decide you want the cush Mercedes over the practical Toyota. Either way, go into your decision with your eyes wide open about ongoing costs and total cost of ownership. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/could-you-put-away-a-million-dollars-by-driving-a-used-car?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Could You Put Away a Million Dollars by Driving a Used Car?</a>)</p> <p>Sales taxes are another consideration. State taxes vary based on your location, but given the higher purchase price of the Mercedes, you'll pay more taxes on it, too.</p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <div align="center"> <script async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/4%20Hidden%20Costs%20of%20a%20Luxury%20Car.jpg" alt="4 Hidden Costs of a Luxury Car" width="250" height="374" /></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/toni-husbands">Toni Husbands</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-hidden-costs-of-a-luxury-car">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-5"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-easy-diy-car-repairs-to-save-big">8 Easy DIY Car Repairs to Save Big</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/your-car-was-recalled-now-what">Your Car Was Recalled. Now What?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-long-does-it-take-break-even-with-an-electric-car">How Long Does It Take to Break Even With an Electric Car</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/3-reasons-why-you-should-never-buy-a-new-car">3 Reasons Why You Should Never Buy a New Car</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-questions-to-ask-when-buying-a-used-car">8 Questions to Ask When Buying a Used Car</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Cars and Transportation automobiles car insurance depreciation gas prices hidden costs luxury cars maintenance repairs vehicles Tue, 23 Jan 2018 10:00:06 +0000 Toni Husbands 2086603 at http://www.wisebread.com Yes, You Still Need an Emergency Fund in Retirement http://www.wisebread.com/yes-you-still-need-an-emergency-fund-in-retirement <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/yes-you-still-need-an-emergency-fund-in-retirement" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/donation_jar_overflowing_with_american_money.jpg" alt="Donation jar overflowing with American money" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>You know how important it is to build an emergency fund while you're working. But here's what you might not know: You need to keep that emergency fund well-stocked with savings even after you retire.</p> <p>An emergency fund might be even <em>more</em> important once you leave the working world. You won't have a regular salary to fall back on in retirement if an unexpected expense pops up. One costly car repair or medical bill can set you back and cause a lot of financial problems.</p> <p>While you're working, you should keep anywhere from six months' to a year's worth of daily living expenses in this fund. That way, if you lose your job, you'll have money available to pay your daily living expenses while you search for a replacement. You need to do the same during your retirement.</p> <h2>How an emergency fund changes in retirement</h2> <p>Social Security payments often complicate the emergency fund equation in retirement. That's because you are guaranteed these payments each month. When you're working, there is always a danger that you'll lose your job and your paycheck will disappear. That won't happen with your Social Security benefits. An emergency fund won't ever have to replace this source of income.</p> <p>By the time you reach retirement, you should also know how much other income you can rely on each month. Most of this will probably come from the retirement savings you've built up over time. You should have created a retirement budget listing how much money you'll have available each month when factoring in withdrawals from these savings and Social Security payments. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/heres-how-you-should-budget-your-social-security-checks?Ref=seealso" target="_blank">Here's How You Should Budget Your Social Security Checks</a>)</p> <p>What you might not be as certain about are your monthly living expenses. Retirement isn't cheap, and that's where an emergency fund comes in. This liquid savings can help you cover unexpected emergencies that could otherwise break your monthly budget.</p> <p>The challenge, of course, is in estimating how much you should keep in that fund at any given time. There is no magic formula. And how much you'll need depends largely on your health and your housing situation.</p> <h2>The costs of retirement</h2> <p>The most recent Merrill Lynch <em>Finances in Retirement Survey</em> says that the average cost of retirement is $738,400.</p> <p>A good chunk of that cost can be attributed to health care. A recent report from Fidelity found that a healthy 65-year-old couple retiring in 2017 could expect to pay $275,000 throughout their retirements in health care and medical expenses. That figure is rising, with the number 6 percent higher in 2017 than it was a year earlier. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/heres-how-far-1-million-will-actually-go-in-retirement?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Here's How Far $1 Million Will Actually Go in Retirement</a>)</p> <p>The challenge with health care costs is that you can't control them. You might be healthy when you hit retirement, but there's no guarantee that your health won't decline. Without an emergency fund to cover unexpected medical bills, you risk wiping out a huge chunk of your retirement savings that may be budgeted for other things.</p> <p>Then there's housing. You might have paid off your mortgage and plan to remain in your home. That's ideal &hellip; for now. As you age, you might need assisted living, which certainly isn't inexpensive. And if you enter retirement with a monthly mortgage payment, that can be a huge expense.</p> <p>Even if you do live in your current home without a mortgage payment, you can still expect to pay for property taxes, repairs, and maintenance. And if your home has aged along with you, chances are it may take some extra TLC (and cost) to be maintained. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-unexpected-expenses-for-retirees-and-how-to-manage-them?Ref=seealso" target="_blank">9 Unexpected Expenses for Retirees &mdash; And How to Manage Them</a>)</p> <p>This is why it's so important to maintain an emergency fund in retirement. Much like when you were working, your goal should still be to keep that fund stocked with enough to cover six months' to a year's worth of daily living expenses in case the worst should happen.</p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <div align="center"><a data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-count="above" data-pin-tall="true" href="https://www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Fyes-you-still-need-an-emergency-fund-in-retirement&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2FYes%252C%2520You%2520Still%2520Need%2520an%2520Emergency%2520Fund%2520in%2520Retirement.jpg&amp;description=Yes%2C%20You%20Still%20Need%20an%20Emergency%20Fund%20in%20Retirement"></a></p> <script async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/Yes%2C%20You%20Still%20Need%20an%20Emergency%20Fund%20in%20Retirement.jpg" alt="Yes, You Still Need an Emergency Fund in Retirement" width="250" height="374" /></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dan-rafter">Dan Rafter</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/yes-you-still-need-an-emergency-fund-in-retirement">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/heres-how-you-should-budget-your-social-security-checks">Here&#039;s How You Should Budget Your Social Security Checks</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/why-retiring-with-debt-isnt-the-end-of-the-world">Why Retiring With Debt Isn&#039;t the End of the World</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/heres-how-far-1-million-will-actually-go-in-retirement">Here&#039;s How Far $1 Million Will Actually Go in Retirement</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-retire-with-less-than-1-million-in-savings">How to Retire With Less Than $1 Million in Savings</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-face-these-7-scary-facts-about-retirement-saving">How to Face These 7 Scary Facts About Retirement Saving</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Retirement emergency funds health care housing costs income maintenance medical bills mortgages social security Wed, 17 Jan 2018 09:00:06 +0000 Dan Rafter 2085674 at http://www.wisebread.com 7 Reasons You Need to Downsize http://www.wisebread.com/7-reasons-you-need-to-downsize <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/7-reasons-you-need-to-downsize" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/man_and_woman_looking_at_house.jpg" alt="Man and woman looking at house" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>It can be a tough decision to leave your home, especially if you've worked hard for it or it's the residence you've always dreamed of owning. But for many people, downsizing isn't so much of an option as it is a financial necessity. And if any of these situations apply to you, it may be time for you to do the same.</p> <h2>1. You're house poor</h2> <p>You're house poor if all of your income is going into your home (your mortgage payments, maintenance, property taxes, and utilities), leaving you with very little money to do anything else.</p> <p>This isn't only problematic from a quality-of-life standpoint (would you like to go on vacation anytime soon?), but also from a debt-avoidance perspective. You're one small financial crisis away from throwing your whole world out of whack. If you can't seem to save any money because your home is eating it up as fast as it comes in, it's time to investigate other options &mdash; like finding a less costly place to live. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-signs-youre-paying-too-much-for-your-mortgage?ref=seealso" target="_blank">8 Signs You're Paying Too Much for Your Mortgage</a>)</p> <h2>2. You're ready to retire</h2> <p>If you've lived in your home for many years and you've kept up on maintenance, chances are you're looking at a decent payout if you decide to sell. Real estate prices are on the uptick again, and you aren't required to pay capital gains tax on the first $250,000 of your home sale if you're single, or $500,000 if you're married. You must have owned and lived in the home for more than two years to take that exemption.</p> <p>If you got a late start to retirement savings or had to dip into that fund along the way, downsizing could be exactly what you need to set yourself up for financial success in your golden years &mdash; or at least very least, avoid poverty.</p> <h2>3. Your kids have flown the coop</h2> <p>Your decision to have children naturally dictated the type of accommodations you needed, but once they're out of the house, what's the point of paying for all the rooms that no one is using? If your kids give you grief for putting their childhood home on the market &mdash; a reason that many aging parents give for staying put when they should move on &mdash; suggest that they pay a portion of your mortgage. They'll see things your way soon enough. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-money-moves-to-make-as-soon-as-the-kids-move-out?ref=seealso" target="_blank">7 Money Moves to Make as Soon as the Kids Move Out</a>)</p> <h2>4. You want a change of scenery</h2> <p>Nobody enjoys moving, but we all need a change of scenery every now and then. In fact, that's all the reason you need to pack up and start fresh someplace new. If you're fed up with the cold weather, head someplace warmer. If you don't like the noise of the city, set up shop someplace quieter. You only live once &mdash; and the clock is ticking.</p> <h2>5. You want more time on your hands</h2> <p>Even small single-family houses require a lot of attention. From maintenance to regular cleaning, a one- to two-bedroom home can easily zap a daytime's worth of hours from your week. Less space demands less of your attention, and that all adds up to more time for yourself.</p> <h2>6. You want a lower mortgage</h2> <p>You don't have to be house poor to want a lower monthly mortgage payment. In fact, having the lowest mortgage payment possible while still maintaining a quality of life that satisfies you should be the goal for everyone. Sell the money pit and find something cheaper &mdash; then treat yo'self for being so savvy with your cash.</p> <h2>7. Your health is declining</h2> <p>If you're getting older and you live in a house with a lot of stairs and levels, it's important to consider the future and how your home fits into that. Do you want to spend money that you may need elsewhere to outfit your home to accommodate your needs as you age? It's an option, but not a cheap one. Your best bet may be to spend that money on a ranch home or a retirement or long-term care facility where you and your family will have more peace of mind. Plus, at the latter, you'll make new friends and play bingo. I'd like to move in right now.</p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <div align="center"><a data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-count="above" data-pin-tall="true" href="https://www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2F7-reasons-you-need-to-downsize&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2F7%2520Reasons%2520You%2520Need%2520to%2520Downsize.jpg&amp;description=7%20Reasons%20You%20Need%20to%20Downsize"></a></p> <script async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/7%20Reasons%20You%20Need%20to%20Downsize.jpg" alt="7 Reasons You Need to Downsize" width="250" height="374" /></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/mikey-rox">Mikey Rox</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-reasons-you-need-to-downsize">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/3-ways-to-finance-a-tiny-house">3 Ways to Finance a Tiny House</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/should-you-pay-your-mortgage-off-early">Should You Pay Your Mortgage Off Early?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/heres-why-your-house-is-not-an-investment">Stop Thinking of Your House as an Investment</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-added-costs-that-come-with-a-bigger-house">7 Added Costs That Come With a Bigger House</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/20-questions-to-ask-during-an-open-house">20+ Questions to Ask During an Open House</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Real Estate and Housing downsizing empty nesters homeownership house poor maintenance mortgages moving retirement selling home Wed, 22 Nov 2017 09:30:10 +0000 Mikey Rox 2056741 at http://www.wisebread.com 5 Common Budget Mistakes You Can Fix Right Now http://www.wisebread.com/5-common-budget-mistakes-you-can-fix-right-now <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5-common-budget-mistakes-you-can-fix-right-now" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/classic_white_piggy_bank.jpg" alt="Classic white Piggy Bank" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>As a volunteer &quot;budget coach,&quot; I've reviewed lots of people's budgets over the years. No two are exactly the same because people have different incomes, fixed expenses, priorities, and more. That's to be expected. When it comes to budgeting, there's no such thing as one-size-fits-all.</p> <p>However, there are also certain approaches to budgeting that make cash flow management easier and more effective no matter your unique circumstances. Unfortunately, the use of these approaches is all too rare. As a result, here are five of the most common mistakes I see in people's budgets. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-dumb-little-budgeting-mistakes-you-need-to-stop-making-today?ref=seealso" target="_blank">10 Dumb Little Budgeting Mistakes You Need to Stop Making Today</a>)</p> <h2>1. Not budgeting based on gross income</h2> <p>It's relatively common to find budget recommendations based on <em>net</em> income &mdash; what's left after all the withholding (for taxes) and transfers (for retirement plan contributions) are taken care of. The thinking is that net income is the money that's available to you so that's what you should base your budget on.</p> <p>However, <em>gross</em> income is the purest, most complete view of your income. I prefer to use it as the starting point because some of the withholding and transfer categories are manageable.</p> <p>Take taxes, for example. About 80 percent of taxpayers got a federal tax refund this year and the average amount was $2,851. That's a lot of money you might have preferred going home in your paycheck. If you typically get a big refund, estimate how much you really should have withheld by using the <a href="https://www.irs.gov/individuals/irs-withholding-calculator" target="_blank">IRS withholding calculator</a>. You should also talk to your human resources department about having less withheld.</p> <p>Retirement plan contributions are also manageable. Listing how much you contribute each month can serve as a helpful reminder to think about whether you're contributing enough. Today, when so many workplace plans automatically set employee contribution levels &mdash; and with the default amount usually set at a low 3 percent of salary &mdash; it's especially important to consider whether that's enough.</p> <h2>2. Not putting first things first</h2> <p>Budgeting isn't just about putting all of your monthly income and expenses down on paper. It's about guiding your use of money in a way that enables you to live within your means and pursue the priorities that are most important to you.</p> <p>One reason so many people struggle to build an emergency fund or invest for the future is they haven't made those items priorities. It helps a lot to design your budget with saving, investing, and if this is important to you, giving, at the top of the outgo section.</p> <p>List them first on your budget and subtract them from your income before setting your allocations for housing, transportation, clothing, and all the rest. Trying to take care of these priorities with money that's left over after lifestyle spending usually leaves you with nothing to save, invest, or give. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-easy-ways-to-build-an-emergency-fund-from-0?ref=seealso" target="_blank">7 Easy Ways to Build an Emergency Fund From $0</a>)</p> <h2>3. Not budgeting for home and car maintenance</h2> <p>One of the best ways to keep your overall housing and transportation costs down is to keep your home and vehicle maintained and to make repairs on a timely basis. That will be a lot easier if you allocate money for those purposes in your monthly budget.</p> <p>When it comes to homeownership, it seems there's always something in need of attention &mdash; from a squeaky door to a leaky faucet to a furnace that doesn't light. Depending on the age and condition of your home, $200 per month is roughly the right amount to budget for maintenance and repairs. If you own a condo or townhome, you should be able to budget less. Make sure you know what you're responsible for and what your association is responsible for.</p> <p>With vehicles, $75 per car per month is about right, but again, it depends on the condition of your vehicle. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/bookmark-this-save-money-with-an-easy-to-follow-car-maintenance-checklist?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Bookmark This: Save Money With an Easy to Follow Car Maintenance Checklist</a>)</p> <p>You won't spend these full amounts every month, but some months you'll spend far more. During months when you don't spend your full home or vehicle maintenance and repair budget, don't spend that money on something else. Let it build up, either in your checking account or in a savings account designated for periodic bills and expenses.</p> <h2>4. Not budgeting for periodic bills and expenses</h2> <p>When my family used to live in the Chicago area, I'll never forget the first property tax bill we received. I thought maybe one of our kids had been kidnapped and this was a demand for ransom. Property taxes in Chicago are extremely high.</p> <p>That's an example of a <em>periodic </em>bill or expense &mdash; a cost that doesn't occur <em>every</em> month, but that needs to be paid at <em>some</em> point each year. If you don't plan ahead for these big, irregular expenses, they can be real budget busters. Other examples include insurance premiums, end-of-year holiday gifts, and vacations.</p> <p>Here's what to do. Include one-twelfth of the annual cost of each such item on your monthly budget. Then transfer the total of all of these monthly amounts to a savings account dedicated to these expenses. That way, when the bill comes due, there will be money set aside for it. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/pay-these-6-bills-first-when-money-is-tight?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Pay These 6 Bills First When Money Is Tight</a>)</p> <h2>5. Not budgeting for miscellaneous expenses</h2> <p>Having a zero-based budget is a worthy goal. That means income minus expenses equals zero. However, <em>creating </em>a budget where every dollar of income is allocated to a specific outgo category is far easier than <em>following </em>such a budget. No matter how detailed your plan, there always seem to be <em>some </em>expenses that just don't fit into one of your preplanned categories.</p> <p>To cope, set a monthly budget for miscellaneous expenses. But not very much &mdash; $50 is a good limit. If miscellaneous items start running higher than that, see if some of those expenses are similar enough to warrant their own category.</p> <p>Especially if you're new to using a budget, there can be a number of frustrations that make it tempting to quit. Avoiding these five common budgeting mistakes will go a long way toward lessening the frustration factor, and that should help you stay with it.</p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <div align="center"><a data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-count="above" data-pin-tall="true" href="https://www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2F5-common-budget-mistakes-you-can-fix-right-now&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2F5%2520Common%2520Budget%2520Mistakes%2520You%2520Can%2520Fix%2520Right%2520Now.jpg&amp;description=5%20Common%20Budget%20Mistakes%20You%20Can%20Fix%20Right%20Now"></a></p> <script async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/5%20Common%20Budget%20Mistakes%20You%20Can%20Fix%20Right%20Now.jpg" alt="5 Common Budget Mistakes You Can Fix Right Now" width="250" height="374" /></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/matt-bell">Matt Bell</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-common-budget-mistakes-you-can-fix-right-now">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-budget-items-you-may-be-forgetting">7 Budget Items You May be Forgetting</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/this-japanese-budgeting-system-could-be-the-key-to-saving-big-bucks">This Japanese Budgeting System Could Be the Key to Saving Big Bucks</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-minute-finance-track-your-spending">5-Minute Finance: Track Your Spending</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/this-simple-journal-may-be-the-fix-for-your-finances">This Simple Journal May be the Fix for Your Finances</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-easy-ways-to-build-an-emergency-fund-from-0">7 Easy Ways to Build an Emergency Fund From $0</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Budgeting bills expenses gross income maintenance money mistakes repairs saving money taxes withholding Fri, 10 Nov 2017 08:00:06 +0000 Matt Bell 2046509 at http://www.wisebread.com How to Determine If Your Finances Are Ready for a Big Purchase http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-determine-if-your-finances-are-ready-for-a-big-purchase <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-to-determine-if-your-finances-are-ready-for-a-big-purchase" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/businesswoman_with_piggybank.jpg" alt="Businesswoman with piggybank" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Maybe you're ready to make an offer on that dream home down the street. Maybe you're eying a new car for that long commute to work. Or, maybe you just want to plunk down a few thousand dollars on a fancy vacation or the latest gadget. How do you know that you're financially ready to make such a large purchase?</p> <p>Whatever it is that you want to buy won't bring you any joy if you can't actually afford it. Here are some questions you need to ask yourself to make sure you're financially ready to commit to a big purchase.</p> <h2>Do you already pay all your bills on time?</h2> <p>If you're taking out a loan for a large purchase such as a house or car, first look at how you pay the rest of your bills. Do you routinely pay your credit card bill three weeks late? How about your utilities or cellphone bill?</p> <p>If that's the case, you're not ready for the financial responsibility of another large monthly payment. If you're already struggling to pay your bills on time, adding another even larger bill to your financial responsibilities will only put you at a higher risk of accumulating debt.</p> <p>You can hurt your credit score doing this, too. If you're late on the monthly payments for a house or car by 30 days or more, your score will tumble &mdash; usually by 100 points or more. If you struggle enough to pay those big payments on time, you might even lose the house or car altogether.</p> <p>Protect yourself financially by holding off on that big purchase until you've already developed the habit of paying all your other monthly bills on time. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-simple-ways-to-never-make-a-late-credit-card-payment?ref=seealso" target="_blank">5 Simple Ways to Never Make a Late Credit Card Payment</a>)</p> <h2>How much wiggle room is left in your budget?</h2> <p>Before making any big purchase, it's important to check your household budget. Make sure you have the ability to make the monthly payments comfortably while leaving enough money to cover your other monthly expenses.</p> <p>And if you don't have a budget, you absolutely need to make one. How else will you know if you can afford your new purchase to begin with? Making a budget isn't as intimidating as it sounds. First, list all your recurring expenses each month. Then estimate how much you spend each month on discretionary and non-fixed expenses such as entertainment, groceries, and eating out. Finally, list your monthly income. The difference is how much you can afford to spend on new purchases and save each month. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/build-a-better-budget-in-5-minutes-flat?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Build a Better Budget in 5 Minutes Flat</a>)</p> <h2>How strong is your credit?</h2> <p>Before taking out a loan for a new car, home, or other big purchase, make sure to check your credit. Lenders rely on your credit score to determine if you qualify for loans and, if you do, how high of an interest rate they'll charge. Lenders consider credit scores of 740 or higher to be strong ones. Generally, the lower your credit score, the higher your interest rate on loans. The higher the interest rate, the more paying off that big purchase will cost you over time.</p> <p>You can check your credit reports &mdash; a list of your outstanding loans, how much you owe on credit cards, and whether you have any late payments or other financial blemishes in your past &mdash; by visiting AnnualCreditReport.com. At this site, you can order one free copy of each of your three credit reports (from Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion) every year. It's important to make sure that there are no errors on your credit reports and that the bureaus don't have any late payments or other financial black marks listed against you. These reports, though, don't contain your credit score. You can order your score for a small fee from any of the bureaus.</p> <p>Before making a purchase big enough to warrant a loan, you might want to check your credit score to determine if you'll be saddled with high interest rates. A score under 640 will almost always leave you with a sky-high rate. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-ways-to-improve-your-credit-score-fast?Ref=seealso" target="_blank">5 Ways to Improve Your Credit Score Fast</a>)</p> <h2>How much credit card debt do you have?</h2> <p>Credit card debt is among the worst kind of debt to have. Interest rates can be as high as 16 percent, 18 percent, or even higher. If you carry a balance on your cards each month, your credit card debt grows quickly.</p> <p>If you are struggling to pay down your credit cards, resist the temptation to spend big on electronics, furniture, or other items. Instead, devote that money to paying down your debt. And if you can only make that big purchase by putting it on one of your credit cards, <em>don't</em> pull the trigger. You will only dig yourself deeper into a hole. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-ways-to-pay-off-high-interest-credit-card-debt?ref=seealso" target="_blank">5 Ways to Pay Off High Interest Credit Card Debt</a>)</p> <h2>Can you cover the maintenance expenses?</h2> <p>Sometimes buying an expensive item is only the start of how much you'll actually pay for it in the long run. Many big-ticket items come with high yearly maintenance expenses. Consider a house, for example: Sure, you'll spend a lot of money upfront to buy one. But you can also expect to spend 1 percent of your home's purchase price on maintenance each year. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-hidden-housing-costs-new-homeowners-dont-expect?ref=seealso" target="_blank">10 Hidden Housing Costs New Homeowners Don't Expect</a>)</p> <p>If you can't afford to maintain your big purchase, hold off until you can create more wiggle room in your budget.</p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <div align="center"><a data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-count="above" data-pin-tall="true" href="https://www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Fhow-to-determine-if-your-finances-are-ready-for-a-big-purchase&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2FHow%2520to%2520Determine%2520If%2520Your%2520Finances%2520Are%2520Ready%2520for%2520a%2520Big%2520Purchase.jpg&amp;description=How%20to%20Determine%20If%20Your%20Finances%20Are%20Ready%20for%20a%20Big%20Purchase"></a></p> <script async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/How%20to%20Determine%20If%20Your%20Finances%20Are%20Ready%20for%20a%20Big%20Purchase.jpg" alt="How to Determine If Your Finances Are Ready for a Big Purchase" width="250" height="374" /></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dan-rafter">Dan Rafter</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-determine-if-your-finances-are-ready-for-a-big-purchase">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-signs-youre-financially-ready-to-start-a-family">7 Signs You&#039;re Financially Ready to Start a Family</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-money-moves-to-make-before-moving-out-on-your-own">5 Money Moves to Make Before Moving Out on Your Own</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-minute-finance-create-financial-goals">5-Minute Finance: Create Financial Goals</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-ways-to-build-your-financial-self-esteem">8 Ways to Build Your Financial Self Esteem</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-ways-to-get-financially-fit-for-homebuying-season">6 Ways to Get Financially Fit for Homebuying Season</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance affordability big purchases budgeting credit score debt financial readiness maintenance Wed, 18 Oct 2017 09:00:06 +0000 Dan Rafter 2037388 at http://www.wisebread.com 20+ Questions to Ask During an Open House http://www.wisebread.com/20-questions-to-ask-during-an-open-house <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/20-questions-to-ask-during-an-open-house" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/showing_room.jpg" alt="Showing room" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Shopping for real estate can be daunting. It takes time and discernment to know which house is right for you. To avoid wasting time on open house visits, be prepared with these key questions. If you find a house that matches your wish list, chat with the listing agent to find out all the details you don't want to overlook.</p> <h2>Before you start asking questions</h2> <p>First things first: Pick up a copy of the property information. These are often on the kitchen counter or near the entry during open houses. Many people view the house, and then look over the information. But the disclosure statements often reveal things you'll want to see while on site; maybe there was water damage, or the carpets were recently replaced. Spend five minutes reviewing the property information so you can eyeball the improvements or issues as you move from room to room.</p> <p>Some listing agents will wait near the information sheets, ready to talk to prospective buyers. If you're not ready to chat yet, say so; the agent should accommodate your desire to view the house and review the information before either of you starts asking questions.</p> <h2>General questions</h2> <p>Ask these questions to get an idea of the overall condition of the house and area.</p> <h3>What's the reason for the sale?</h3> <p>This may seem like a personal question, but it's a valid one. If the house is being sold because the owners are unhappy with its condition, need for repairs, the safety of the area, or the feel of the neighborhood, you want to know. Your goal is to understand if the reason for the sale is personal or due to an issue with the house or area.</p> <p>Don't press for personal information about the owners, of course; the agent should protect their confidentiality while giving you a top-level answer. If the agent is very hesitant, or unable to provide even a generic or partial answer, note that. If you're interested in the house, you can have your own real estate agent follow up with the listing agent.</p> <h3>What are the biggest problems with the house?</h3> <p>If you ask, &quot;Are there any major problems with the house?&quot; then the agent may say, &quot;No, it's in great shape.&quot; Phrasing matters. Every house has problems. This is the time to find out what those problems are. The listing agent wants to sell the property, of course, but they want the sale to be a satisfactory one.</p> <p>In many states a seller's disclosure is required, and should be included with the property information. You can ask for more details on any issues disclosed:</p> <ul> <li> <p>Have there been any more water problems since the sump pump was replaced?</p> </li> <li> <p>How extensive was the termite damage listed on the disclosure?</p> </li> <li> <p>Have the owners done any further mold testing?</p> </li> </ul> <p>Asking for more information will help you determine if the issues have been resolved or would require additional repair or maintenance.</p> <h3>What are the average utility costs?</h3> <p>Older houses tend to be less energy efficient, and can come with heftier utility bills than you'd expect. On the other hand, the owners may have a installed top-of-the-line HVAC system, put in double-paned windows, and invested in other energy-saving upgrades. The listing agent will know, or be able to find out, the average monthly cost for utilities. It's a good idea to ask for a typical monthly cost in the winter and in the summer, so you can compare how much the energy use might fluctuate seasonally.</p> <h3>Has the price changed at all?</h3> <p>The listing agent will know the history of the house, if the listing price has dropped or increased, and the reasons for any change in price. A lower listing price can be great news for you, but multiple drops in price should be a red flag. Was the house listed much too high for the area? Or are there major issues that are keeping buyers away?</p> <p>In your discussion on price, you can ask other questions to get an idea of the urgency of the sellers:</p> <ul> <li> <p>How long has the house been on the market?</p> </li> <li> <p>Have there been other offers on the house?</p> </li> <li> <p>Are the sellers eager to negotiate?</p> </li> <li> <p>Are the sellers in a hurry to sell?</p> </li> </ul> <p>You may not get direct answers to all these questions, but they're still worth asking. If you are genuinely interested in the property, talking with the agent can give you insight on what matters most to the sellers. If they're in a hurry to move, for example, they might accept a lower offer with a rushed closing date.</p> <h3>Is this a good neighborhood for families?</h3> <p>Maybe you don't have a family; this is still a good question to ask, because &quot;family-friendly&quot; is often code for safe, clean, and welcoming. Are there community events nearby? Is there a neighborhood association? Ask the agent about the nearest places for shopping, entertainment, and dining out. If the nearest grocery store is 10 miles away but the nearest bar is just around the corner, it may not be so family-friendly, after all.</p> <p>A discussion about the neighborhood is a good time to ask about area resources and attractions, as well as cost of living:</p> <ul> <li> <p>Are there any parks or natural attractions nearby?</p> </li> <li> <p>What do people in this area like to do for fun?</p> </li> <li> <p>What's the best restaurant nearby?</p> </li> <li> <p>Do you know what the average income is for this area?</p> </li> <li> <p>Where is the nearest hospital?</p> </li> </ul> <h2>Room by room questions</h2> <p>Some questions are room-specific. Ask the agent to walk through the house with you and discuss as you go.</p> <h3>Kitchen<strong> </strong></h3> <ul> <li> <p>Which appliances are included? How old are they?</p> </li> <li> <p>Have there been any major updates or renovations in the kitchen?</p> </li> <li> <p>Are there any water issues in the kitchen?</p> </li> <li> <p>Have there been any major repairs in the kitchen?</p> </li> </ul> <h3>Basement</h3> <ul> <li> <p>Are there any water issues in the basement?</p> </li> <li> <p>Is there a sump pump installed?</p> </li> <li> <p>Have there been any issues with mold?</p> </li> </ul> <h3>Living rooms and bedrooms</h3> <ul> <li> <p>How old is the carpet?</p> </li> <li> <p>What's underneath the carpet?</p> </li> <li> <p>Have the rooms been recently painted?</p> </li> <li> <p>Are the window treatments included?</p> </li> <li> <p>Have there been any renovations or updates done lately?</p> </li> </ul> <h3>Bathrooms</h3> <ul> <li> <p>Are there any water issues in the bathrooms?</p> </li> <li> <p>How is the water pressure? (Ask if you can check it.)</p> </li> <li> <p>How recently have the bathroom fixtures been updated?</p> </li> </ul> <h3>Yard</h3> <ul> <li> <p>Does the landscaping allow water to flow away from the house?</p> </li> <li> <p>Are there any wet or soggy areas in the yard?</p> </li> <li> <p>Have the owners done regular pest control?</p> </li> <li> <p>Are there any issues with the yard or garden?</p> </li> </ul> <h2>Open house etiquette</h2> <p>Open houses vary, but there are some common etiquette rules to follow. Don't forget to sign in; leave your name only if you prefer not to include your contact information. Be sure to greet the listing agent. Let the agent know you have questions, but don't keep them from being able to interact with other visitors. Discuss, don't dominate.</p> <p>Expect to answer a few questions about yourself, such as &quot;How long have you been looking?&quot; A good listing agent will be trying to determine who's a serious buyer and who's there for the free mints.</p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <div align="center"><a data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-count="above" data-pin-tall="true" data-pin-save="true" href="https://www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2F20-questions-to-ask-during-an-open-house&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2F20%252B%2520Questions%2520to%2520Ask%2520During%2520an%2520Open%2520House.jpg&amp;description=20%20plus%20Questions%20to%20Ask%20During%20an%20Open%20House"></a></p> <script async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/20%2B%20Questions%20to%20Ask%20During%20an%20Open%20House.jpg" alt="20+ Questions to Ask During an Open House" width="250" height="374" /></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/annie-mueller">Annie Mueller</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/20-questions-to-ask-during-an-open-house">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-added-costs-that-come-with-a-bigger-house">7 Added Costs That Come With a Bigger House</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-mortgage-details-you-should-know-before-you-sign">5 Mortgage Details You Should Know Before You Sign</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-money-moves-that-will-ruin-your-mortgage-application">5 Money Moves That Will Ruin Your Mortgage Application</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-questions-to-ask-before-signing-a-lease">10 Questions to Ask Before Signing a Lease</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dont-buy-a-house-with-a-pool-until-you-can-answer-these-7-questions">Don&#039;t Buy a House With a Pool Until You Can Answer These 7 Questions</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Real Estate and Housing damage home buying homeownership listing agents maintenance open houses pests problems questions renovations utilities Thu, 20 Jul 2017 08:30:14 +0000 Annie Mueller 1986643 at http://www.wisebread.com Why I Choose to Rent Instead of Buy http://www.wisebread.com/why-i-choose-to-rent-instead-of-buy <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/why-i-choose-to-rent-instead-of-buy" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/new_beginnings.jpg" alt="New beginnings" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Conventional wisdom says that buying a home is a smarter financial decision that renting. However, homeownership is a huge decision, and it can be an expensive option. Owning a home is not for everyone, and for some, renting can actually be the more cost-effective choice.</p> <p>That's certainly the case for me. Despite earning a good income, my husband and I have decided to rent for the foreseeable future. Here's why it makes sense for us.</p> <h2>1. Affordable housing is hard to find</h2> <p>We live in one of the most highly-desired towns in the Central Florida region. A single-family, 1,200 square foot home in our neighborhood starts at $350,000. Even if you do find a home at that price, they often need significant improvements to be livable. Typically, houses in that price range need new roofs or foundation work.</p> <p>If we put 20 percent down on a home &mdash; a whopping $70,000 &mdash; our monthly payment for the mortgage, insurance, and taxes would be about $1,600 a month. Besides coming up with a huge down payment, that's a high monthly bill.</p> <p>While the housing market is extremely competitive in our neighborhood, rentals are much more affordable. We rent a large two-bedroom apartment with granite countertops, stainless steel appliances, hardwood floors, and resort-like amenities for just $1,300. And we didn't have to come up with a large payment to move in.</p> <p>The lack of affordable housing is a nationwide issue. Particularly in areas like New York City or San Francisco, buying a home can be out of reach for most Americans. In those cases, it can make more sense to rent than buy.</p> <h2>2. Maintenance isn't my problem</h2> <p>If we were to buy that $350,000 home, the down payment and monthly mortgage payment would be only a small portion of our home expenses. We'd have to budget to prepare for other expenses, like emergencies. If the roof needs repairs, or if the appliances break, we'd have to cover the cost of the replacement.</p> <p>With renting, all I need to do if there's a problem is call my landlord. Within 24 hours, they'll have the problem fixed. Not having to worry about the extra cost is helpful and gives me peace of mind. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-it-really-costs-to-own-a-home?ref=seealso" target="_blank">What It Really Costs to Own a Home</a>)</p> <h2>3. Homes are not an investment</h2> <p>Houses are often touted as a good investment. However, the recession of 2008 showed how flawed that idea was. There's no guarantee that a home's value will increase over time, and there is a chance it could decrease.</p> <p>The homes that go for $350,000 in our area sold for $500,000 pre-recession. But in 2008&ndash;2010, those same homes plummeted to under $180,000. For homeowners who took the plunge to buy, they lost a lot of money and either saw their bank foreclose on their homes or are still underwater.</p> <p>To me, homes are a place to live, not an investment. My goal is to have a safe place to live, not to earn money. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/heres-why-your-house-is-not-an-investment?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Stop Thinking of Your House as an Investment</a>)</p> <h2>4. Flexibility is key</h2> <p>Homeownership scares me because it feels permanent. Of course, you could sell the home if you need to move, but that process can be long and complex. And you can end up losing money on the deal.</p> <p>Renting gives me more flexibility. If an opportunity pops up on the other side of the country, I just have to pay to break my lease and am free to leave. Having that option is reassuring in a sometimes tough job market.</p> <h2>5. We have other priorities</h2> <p>If homeownership is your goal, you may have to sacrifice other things to make it possible. To save for a down payment, you may have to cancel your retirement contributions, or take money out of your emergency fund.</p> <p>Contributing the maximum to my 401(k) and building my emergency fund are important to me. Because buying a home would mean postponing those goals, home searching just isn't in the cards.</p> <h2>Buying a home</h2> <p>Whether or not to buy a home is a very personal decision. While many say that homeownership is essential for financial security, it's not the only option available to you. Depending on your circumstances, renting can give you more disposable income each month and more freedom to pursue your other goals.</p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <div align="center"><a data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-count="above" data-pin-tall="true" data-pin-save="true" href="https://www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Fwhy-i-choose-to-rent-instead-of-buy&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2FWhy%2520I%2520Choose%2520to%2520Rent%2520Instead%2520of%2520Buy.jpg&amp;description=Why%20I%20Choose%20to%20Rent%20Instead%20of%20Buy"></a></p> <script async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/Why%20I%20Choose%20to%20Rent%20Instead%20of%20Buy.jpg" alt="Why I Choose to Rent Instead of Buy" width="250" height="374" /></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/kat-tretina">Kat Tretina</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/why-i-choose-to-rent-instead-of-buy">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-questions-to-ask-before-signing-a-lease">10 Questions to Ask Before Signing a Lease</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-negotiate-your-rent">How to Negotiate Your Rent</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-reasons-you-definitely-need-renters-insurance">5 Reasons You Definitely Need Renters&#039; Insurance</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-simple-way-to-decide-how-much-rent-you-can-really-afford">The Simple Way to Decide How Much Rent You Can Really Afford</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-ways-to-apartment-hunt-on-craigslist-without-getting-scammed">6 Ways to Apartment Hunt on Craigslist Without Getting Scammed</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Real Estate and Housing affordable housing apartments buying a home flexibility housing markets maintenance mortgage renting Mon, 10 Jul 2017 08:00:08 +0000 Kat Tretina 1977387 at http://www.wisebread.com Stop Thinking of Your House as an Investment http://www.wisebread.com/heres-why-your-house-is-not-an-investment <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/heres-why-your-house-is-not-an-investment" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/saving_to_buy_a_house_or_home_savings_concept.jpg" alt="Saving to buy a house or home savings concept" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Your house is many things: It's a place to raise your children, hold family parties, relax on weekends and, maybe, rent out for a bit of extra cash.</p> <p>But here's one thing that many economists believe it is not: an investment.</p> <p>That flies in the face of what you might believe. After all, if you buy your home for $200,000 and then sell it 15 years later for $270,000, you've made $70,000, right? That sounds like a good return on investment, but it's actually not.</p> <p>That profit doesn't include all the property taxes you've paid on your home, the interest you've paid on your mortgage loan, or all the money you've spent on maintaining your residence.</p> <p>The fact is, the only time a home might truly be a good investment is when you're downsizing or moving to an apartment after selling it.</p> <h2>Sobering numbers</h2> <p>In a 2014 interview with USA Today, economist and housing expert Robert Shiller explained why consumers should not think of housing as an investment.</p> <p>From 1890 through 2012, <a href="https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/personalfinance/2014/05/10/why-your-home-is-not-a-good-investment/8900911/" target="_blank">home prices adjusted for inflation</a> did not grow at all, according to Shiller's research. During the same period, though, stocks did. Shiller found that the S&amp;P 500 increased by more than 2,000 times during those same years, adjusted for inflation.</p> <p>Shiller found that there have been long periods of time in which housing values when adjusted for inflation fell. He said that from 1890 through 1980, real home prices dropped by about 10 percent.</p> <p>Personal financial blog Observations also looked at inflation-adjusted housing prices from 1900 through 2012. According to these numbers, the average annual price for U.S. homes was just <a href="http://observationsandnotes.blogspot.com/2011/07/housing-prices-inflation-since-1900.html" target="_blank">0.1 percent a year</a> after inflation.</p> <p>These numbers make it clear: You should buy a house because it's a house, you need a place to live, and you don't want to rent. You shouldn't buy a house thinking that you're making a great financial investment. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/rent-your-home-or-buy-heres-how-to-decide?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Rent or Buy a Home? Here's How to Decide</a>)</p> <h2>It's not easy to get your cash from an investment in housing</h2> <p>There are other aspects of houses that make them less-than-ideal as investments. The biggest? It's not easy to turn your home into cash.</p> <p>Sure, your home might have risen in value during the 10 years you've owned it. (Even if, as shown above, when adjusted for inflation, that appreciation might be negligible.) But accessing this appreciation isn't easy. You'll have to sell your home to get at whatever money it's made.</p> <p>Selling a home is no simple task. It's time-consuming. It's expensive, too, as you'll probably invest in everything from fresh coats of paint to major appliance repairs before you put your home on the market. And what if you don't want to sell your home? Then you won't be able to nab that cash.</p> <p>You can take out home equity lines of credit or home equity loans to tap the equity in your home. But you'll have to pay back the money you borrow, with interest, each month. If your home should lose value after you take out our home equity loan, you could end up underwater, owing more on your combined mortgage loans than what your home is worth.</p> <h2>If it's an investment, it's an expensive one</h2> <p>It's expensive to own a home. And that, too, makes housing a less attractive investment.</p> <p>Consider homeowners insurance. If you are using a mortgage loan to finance your house, you're required to invest in this insurance. Even if you're not financing your home, you should take out a policy to protect yourself. Realtor.com estimates that the average homeowners insurance premium across the country is $952.</p> <p>Then there are property taxes. The U.S. Census Bureau said that in 2017 the average household was spending $2,149 in property taxes.</p> <p>Finally, there is maintenance. This will vary, of course, but Realtor.com says that you can expect to pay from 1 percent to 4 percent of your home's value in maintenance each year. If your home is worth $200,000, that comes to between $2,000 and $8,000 a year.</p> <p>If you do sell your home for a profit, you need to factor in these costs of ownership when patting yourself on the back for making such a wise investment.</p> <h2>Housing's not bad, though</h2> <p>This doesn't mean that buying a house is a bad financial move. You do have to live somewhere, and depending on where you live, it might be less expensive to own a home than it is to rent an apartment.</p> <p>Owning a home also gives you some financial flexibility. You can rent out a portion of your home, for instance, to earn additional cash. You'll also be able to claim tax write-offs for the interest you pay on your mortgage loan each year and the property taxes you pay.</p> <p>Housing does provide this other benefits, too: shelter for your family, a gathering place for relatives and friends, and a respite at the end of a tough day.</p> <p>It's important to be realistic about housing's investment potential. If you want to invest, buying stocks or investing in mutual funds might be a better choice. Even low-interest, but safe investments such as bonds or CDs make more sense as an investment.</p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <div align="center"><a data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-count="above" data-pin-tall="true" data-pin-save="true" href="https://www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Fheres-why-your-house-is-not-an-investment&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2FStop%2520Thinking%2520of%2520Your%2520House%2520as%2520an%2520Investment.jpg&amp;description=Stop%20Thinking%20of%20Your%20House%20as%20an%20Investment"></a></p> <script async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/Stop%20Thinking%20of%20Your%20House%20as%20an%20Investment.jpg" alt="Stop Thinking of Your House as an Investment" width="250" height="374" /></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dan-rafter">Dan Rafter</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/heres-why-your-house-is-not-an-investment">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-worst-reasons-not-to-buy-a-house">7 Worst Reasons NOT to Buy a House</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-added-costs-that-come-with-a-bigger-house">7 Added Costs That Come With a Bigger House</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-questions-to-ask-before-selling-your-house">6 Questions to Ask Before Selling Your House</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/rent-your-home-or-buy-heres-how-to-decide">Rent Your Home or Buy? Here&#039;s How to Decide</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/yes-you-need-home-title-insurance-heres-why">Yes, You Need Home Title Insurance — Here&#039;s Why</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Investment Real Estate and Housing homeownership housing market maintenance mortgages property taxes renting return on investment selling a home Thu, 06 Jul 2017 08:30:16 +0000 Dan Rafter 1976048 at http://www.wisebread.com How Long Does It Take to Break Even With an Electric Car http://www.wisebread.com/how-long-does-it-take-break-even-with-an-electric-car <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-long-does-it-take-break-even-with-an-electric-car" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-508101460.jpg" alt="Learning how long it takes to break even with an electric car" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Electric cars come at a premium. You can still get a hefty tax rebate for buying an all-electric or plug-in hybrid vehicle, but even after deducting that $3,700 &mdash;$7,500 rebate from the price, you're still going to pay more up front for electric than a gas-powered engine.</p> <p>You'll make up for it in gas savings, right? Maybe &mdash; but with low gas prices persisting, the payback may take a long time. Here's a look at the math behind the theory that an electric car will pay for itself.</p> <h2>Upfront cost</h2> <p>My husband and I recently test drove a Kia Soul EV. It was peppy and felt surprisingly roomy for a small car. It costs about $34,000, while the Soul without an electric motor costs only $20,000. So even after deducting the $7,500 tax credit, you'd still be paying $6,500 more to go electric. (Your state might offer additional credit, but I'll leave that out of this calculation.)</p> <p>Another upfront expense, which I didn't think about until I looked at EVs, is the cost of buying a home charging station and having it installed in the garage. That would be about $1,200. However, you might be able to apply for a local rebate or credit to defray that cost as well.</p> <p><strong>The difference in upfront cost</strong>: Buying and getting set up with the Kia Soul EV costs about $7,700 more than the nonelectric.</p> <h2>Fuel costs</h2> <p>Nationwide, at the time of writing, the average gallon of gasoline costs $2.41. If you live in California or in a big city like I do, you may be paying closer to $3. If I bought a traditional Kia Soul, I'd get about 28 miles per gallon &mdash; so driving a typical 15,000 miles a year, I'd be buying about 535 gallons of gas. In most parts of America, that would run about $1,300 for a year's worth of fuel.</p> <p>With the electric car, I could drive about <a href="https://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/Find.do?action=sbs&amp;id=35601" target="_blank">105 miles on 33.7 kilowatt-hours</a>, which at a cost of 12 cents per kWh, means I could drive 15,000 miles a year for $578 in electricity. You can save even more on charging if you work somewhere with a free charging station, or if you have access to free public chargers.</p> <p><strong>The difference in fuel costs</strong>: Electric costs $722 less per year at current gas prices.</p> <h2>Maintenance</h2> <p>Because they don't require oil changes, all-electric vehicles cost less than regular cars to maintain &mdash; about 35 percent less, according to one estimate I found. According to Repair Pal, the average cost to maintain and repair a regular Kia Soul is $446 a year, while the EV is $267.</p> <p><strong>The difference in maintenance cost</strong>: Electric costs $179 less per year.</p> <h2>Other expenses</h2> <p>You might wring a few more dollars out of your EV from insurance company discounts and free public parking. You may also save on tolls if your area allows you to drive your EV in the carpool lane.</p> <h2>Breaking even</h2> <p>So, you started out life with your new EV $7,700 in the hole after buying the car, installing a charging station, and pocketing the federal tax credit. You will save about $900 a year in fuel and maintenance costs. At this rate, it will take you eight to nine years to break even. That's a pretty long time to recoup an investment.</p> <h2>Other benefits of going electric</h2> <p>However, there are non-monetary benefits to owning an electric vehicle that make the purchase worthwhile for many people.</p> <p>First, there is the knowledge that you're contributing less to climate change and air pollution by using electricity instead of gasoline. While EVs produce no tailpipe emissions, the power plants that fuel them do produce emissions. Still, the Department of Energy estimates that EVs are responsible for less than half the emissions of gas vehicles. That's big.</p> <p>Second, your EV may entitle you to privileges such as driving in the carpool lane. In the high traffic Bay Area where I live, many EV owners made their purchase decision based on carpool lane access alone, because it can make the difference between a two-hour commute and a one-hour commute into Silicon Valley.</p> <p>If you're buying an EV for the perks, check all the details before you sign the contract to make sure you're really getting everything you want. Sometimes states have restrictions, such as quotas for carpool lane stickers and income caps for tax rebates.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/carrie-kirby">Carrie Kirby</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-long-does-it-take-break-even-with-an-electric-car">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-3"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-hidden-costs-of-a-luxury-car">4 Hidden Costs of a Luxury Car</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/is-it-still-smart-to-buy-an-electric-car-while-gas-prices-are-low">Is It Still Smart to Buy an Electric Car While Gas Prices Are Low?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-ways-to-drive-a-hybrid-or-electric-car-on-the-cheap">6 Ways to Drive a Hybrid or Electric Car on the Cheap</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-questions-to-ask-when-buying-a-used-car">8 Questions to Ask When Buying a Used Car</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-easy-diy-car-repairs-to-save-big">8 Easy DIY Car Repairs to Save Big</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Cars and Transportation break-even carpool comparisons electric cars fuel costs gas prices hybrids maintenance rebates repairs Mon, 22 May 2017 08:30:16 +0000 Carrie Kirby 1947501 at http://www.wisebread.com Don't Buy a House With a Pool Until You Can Answer These 7 Questions http://www.wisebread.com/dont-buy-a-house-with-a-pool-until-you-can-answer-these-7-questions <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/dont-buy-a-house-with-a-pool-until-you-can-answer-these-7-questions" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-469932560.jpg" alt="Asking questions before buying a house with a pool" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Having a built-in pool on your property comes with plenty of perks &mdash; like providing respite from the summer heat and elevating your kids' social status. But this luxury isn't all splash battles and cannonballs. Pools, among other things, require costly maintenance while also introducing a laundry list of liability and safety concerns into your life. Keep your head above water when considering buying a house with a pool by asking these eight important questions.</p> <h2>1. Does everyone in the family know how to swim?</h2> <p>This may seem like a silly question to ask yourself before buying a house with a pool, but you might be surprised at how many pool-owners either can't swim themselves, or have children who can't swim. Both of these scenarios could end in tragedy. And if you can't swim, there's <a href="http://www.usaswimming.org/DesktopDefault.aspx?TabId=1796" target="_blank">only a 13 percent chance</a> your child will learn how to swim. Not the best odds to have when a life is on the line.</p> <h2>2. Does everyone in your family know CPR?</h2> <p>If you're planning to own a pool, it's a wise decision to be trained in CPR. The few minutes' time between on-the-scene CPR and that which is administered by EMTs, who may take several minutes to arrive, is literally life and death.</p> <h2>3. How old is the pool?</h2> <p>Keller Williams Real Estate agent Jen Teague provides a few important construction questions to ask, including:</p> <ul> <li>What company installed the pool and is it still in business?</li> <li>Is it under warranty?</li> <li>Has there been any major work done to the pool over the last year?</li> <li>Are there any consistent issues (leaks, etc.) the owner has had with it?</li> </ul> <p>You're specifically looking to find out how much longer the pump life is, as well as any maintenance that may be needed for the liner or granite. After a while the chlorine wears down the liner and it will be more prone to tearing. Granite cracks over time as well.</p> <p>Three-decade pool industry veteran Michael Kern of MGK Pool Service in Lowell, Massachusetts adds, &quot;Cement pools need to be replastered every six to nine years; above ground pools need the liner replaced every four to eight years; and in-ground pools need the liner replaced every 15 to 20 years.&quot;</p> <h2>4. Is the pool surrounded by a fence?</h2> <p>A fence around your pool isn't to keep your kids in, but rather other people out &mdash; like wandering toddlers and even pets. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission's (CPSC) Pool Safely campaign, which focuses on drowning prevention and water safety (a <a href="https://www.poolsafely.gov/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/Safety-Barrier-Guidelines-for-Residential-Pools.pdf" target="_blank">must read</a> if you're planning to become a pool owner!), suggests that the fence stands at least four feet high, surrounds the pool on all four sides, and includes a self-closing, self-latching gate. Adding an alarm to the door is an extra layer of protection so you're alerted to unauthorized visitors.</p> <h2>5. Does the pool have a safe drain cover?</h2> <p>The Virginia Graeme Baker Pool &amp; Spa Safety Act, named after a little girl who died in 2002 when the suction from a spa drain trapped her under water, mandates drain covers for public spas and pools &mdash; but homeowners also should practice this safety measure. A pool technician can tell you whether or not your drain cover needs updating, which is generally about every five years. The ZAC Foundation, an organization working to strengthen pool safety legislation and educate children on water safety, <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CULPxBSa_10" target="_blank">explains the difference in drain covers</a> and why having a compliant drain cover is important.</p> <h2>6. How much will maintenance cost?</h2> <p>Most homeowners have a general budget in place for day-to-day home expenses, plus a little extra to cover emergencies. But those who have never owned a pool may not be prepared for the added expense. Be sure to ask your agent about how much annual maintenance the pool will need so you can get a good idea of whether or not you can afford its upkeep.</p> <p>This is also a good time to ask the previous owners what pool necessities will be left behind and what you may need to buy when you assume ownership.</p> <h2>7. How much will your homeowners insurance increase?</h2> <p>Your swimming pool is a liability, for sure, and your insurer will consider that when pricing your policy. Before you jump in head first, hammer out the details of the policy and its cost. Additional umbrella insurance is always recommended for homeowners with a pool.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/mikey-rox">Mikey Rox</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dont-buy-a-house-with-a-pool-until-you-can-answer-these-7-questions">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-3"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-added-costs-that-come-with-a-bigger-house">7 Added Costs That Come With a Bigger House</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-money-moves-to-make-after-buying-your-first-house">6 Money Moves to Make After Buying Your First House</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/20-questions-to-ask-during-an-open-house">20+ Questions to Ask During an Open House</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-times-to-update-your-homeowners-insurance">7 Times to Update Your Homeowners Insurance</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-affordable-water-parks-you-can-drive-to">10 Affordable Water Parks You Can Drive To</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Real Estate and Housing drowning expenses home buying homeowners insurance kids maintenance pools safety swimming Wed, 05 Apr 2017 09:00:12 +0000 Mikey Rox 1917660 at http://www.wisebread.com 12 House-Hunting Red Flags You Can't Ignore http://www.wisebread.com/12-house-hunting-red-flags-you-cant-ignore <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/12-house-hunting-red-flags-you-cant-ignore" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/house_mortgage_trap_63718741.jpg" alt="Learning house hunting red flags you can&#039;t ignore" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>You've found the home of your dreams. The price is right, the time is right, and you have the down payment ready to go. But before you get your heart set on the property, you need to be aware of some red flags that could make you change your mind. Here are 12 potential issues that should give you cause for concern.</p> <h2>1. Some Part of the Property Is Off-Limits</h2> <p>When you go to an open house, you expect it to be, well, open. The homeowner wants to sell the property quickly, and creating any kind of hurdle, be it locked doors or bolted sheds, is a warning that something may be wrong. It could be that the person showing the home simply wants to keep some valuables locked away. If you're interested in the home, ask to come back later to see what's behind those closed doors, with an escort. If they still say no, you've got your red flag. And if it remains locked during the inspection, run away. There could be anything waiting for you, including bugs, water damage, faulty electrics, or any number of hazards.</p> <h2>2. The Neighborhood Is a Ghost Town</h2> <p>Depending on when you visit the home, and where the home is, you will see various things happening in the streets &mdash; kids playing, people out mowing the lawns, and a general feeling of regular activity. If the neighborhood is deathly quiet, take a closer look. Why is it so quiet? If you start seeing a lot of &quot;For Sale&quot; signs, and see that some properties are in a state of disrepair, you could well be moving into a place that most people are trying to escape from. Ask around, and talk to neighbors if you can. It may just be it's a very quiet neighborhood. But it could also be a place that is quickly becoming abandoned.</p> <h2>3. Popcorn Ceilings</h2> <p>Used in homes between the late 1950s, through to the late 1980s, popcorn ceilings were a trend that thankfully died out. Aside from being horrendously ugly, and difficult to paint, they could also pose a serious health hazard. Many popcorn ceilings contain white asbestos fibers, and that is nothing you want to mess around with. It takes a professional crew hours to remove it, and the charge can be up to $3 per square foot. Multiply that by all the rooms in the house that have the tacky popcorn ceilings, and you could be looking at thousands of dollars in labor. If you see it, ask the seller if they can have the popcorn texture removed on their dime. Or, ask for a reduction in the house price to deal with the costs of removing it.</p> <h2>4. Strange Smells and Unusual Stains</h2> <p>Where there is a funky smell, there is usually an underlying cause. It could just be some weird cooking that happened the night before, but chances are, it's something ingrained in the home. You may be smelling mildew, mold, or water damage in the floors and ceilings. Get your nose inside areas where smells can be hiding, like closets, cabinets, and the corners of basements and attics. And if you smell nothing but air fresheners in every room, the seller may be trying to cover up an offending odor.</p> <h2>5. Recent Painting and Decorating</h2> <p>To be fair, some homeowners want to freshen the place up before selling it, to get a better price and a quicker sale. But look at the type of redecorating that has happened. If it looks consistent throughout the home, or one room has been completely redone, then that's probably fine. But if you're seeing little patches of new paint and paper, they may be covering something the seller wants to hide. If you see some major construction work has just happened, you must get it inspected thoroughly. If the renovations were done in a hurry, and didn't have permits, they could be dangerous, or even deadly. It's not unusual for load-bearing walls to be removed, to open up a layout, causing serious structural problems.</p> <h2>6. Poor Upkeep and Maintenance</h2> <p>Unless you're buying a brand-new home, you will be living in a house that has been lived in before. We all hope the current owner has done his or her best to keep the property in tiptop condition, but it's not always the case. So, look for signs of a lazy homeowner. Are several doors really tough to open and close? Are some of the light switches and sockets cracked or broken? Do you see wallpaper peeling at the corners, or burned out bulbs that haven't been replaced? All of these can signal a homeowner who didn't maintain the property, and could signal bigger issues that you will only find after moving in.</p> <h2>7. Faulty Wiring</h2> <p>It's not as easy to spot as a couple of dangerous loose wires sticking out of the wall; faulty wiring can be lurking behind switches and faceplates. When going through the home, check all of the switches, even on the garbage disposal. If there are issues, like flickering lights, circuits that buzz and hum, excessive heat, or just switches that do not work, it could be a sign of larger electrical issues. Old wiring that has to be brought up to code can be costly, and should be a burden on the seller, not you.</p> <h2>8. Signs of Pests</h2> <p>As you walk through the property, look for telltale signs of bugs and rodents. Are there mouse traps hiding in the corners of the garage? Do you see shelves full of pest control products? What about droppings? Do you see a lot of dead bugs on the window ledges and in the basement and attic? Any of these signs, and many more, can be an indication of a pest problem that could be costly. If it's termites&hellip;very costly.</p> <h2>9. Old Heating and Cooling Systems</h2> <p>When the house was built should help you figure out if the heating and cooling systems should have been replaced by now. In some cases, they should have been replaced multiple times. The average life span of a furnace and air conditioner is 13&ndash;20 years, depending on the make and model. If you're looking at a home that was built in the 1980s, those systems should have been replaced twice. So, take a close look at the age of the units, or ask the seller to tell you how old those items are. To replace them both can cost many thousands of dollars. Also, ask for them to be turned on. If you notice strange sounds, they may be in need of repair or full on replacement.</p> <h2>10. Heaving Closets and Storage Spaces</h2> <p>One of the big complaints many homeowners have is storage space, or the lack of it. If the home doesn't have a basement or attic, you should definitely check out the state of the cupboards, and the garage. Can they even get a car into the garage? If it's full of their things, chances are, you are going to have storage issues, too. If the cupboards are threatening to pour the contents all over you when you open the door, that's another big red flag. Of course, they may be hoarders, but if you see that it's just regular items that are jammed into every available corner, you have a storage problem on your hands.</p> <h2>11. Rugs and Wall Coverings Everywhere</h2> <p>Homeowners can get pretty creative when it comes to hiding stains, holes, and damage. If you notice area rugs in every room, lift them up. It could be that the rugs are disguising unsightly carpet stains, or damaged floor coverings. If you see walls covered in posters, frames, hangings, and even drapes, look behind them, too. They may be hiding a whole host of problems, including wet rot or dry rot.</p> <h2>12. Cracks</h2> <p>Most homes develop a few hairline cracks over the years, as the house settles on the foundation. But cracks in the walls and floors that are greater than a third of an inch wide are a cause for concern. It's highly possible the house has serious structural problems, and you may have to foot the bill for some very costly repairs and foundation work.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/paul-michael">Paul Michael</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/12-house-hunting-red-flags-you-cant-ignore">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-4"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-added-costs-that-come-with-a-bigger-house">7 Added Costs That Come With a Bigger House</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/thinking-of-skipping-the-home-inspection-heres-what-it-will-cost-you">Thinking of Skipping the Home Inspection? Here&#039;s What It Will Cost You</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-evaluate-a-neighborhood-before-you-buy">How to Evaluate a Neighborhood Before You Buy</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/youre-ready-to-make-an-offer-on-a-house-now-what">You&#039;re Ready to Make an Offer on a House: Now What?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-you-need-to-know-about-homeowners-associations">What You Need to Know About Homeowners&#039; Associations</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Real Estate and Housing buying a house damages decorating dishonesty house hunting maintenance neighborhoods red flags repairs warning signs Wed, 14 Sep 2016 09:30:27 +0000 Paul Michael 1792245 at http://www.wisebread.com 10 Questions to Ask Before Signing a Lease http://www.wisebread.com/10-questions-to-ask-before-signing-a-lease <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/10-questions-to-ask-before-signing-a-lease" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/friends_money_moves_63337017.jpg" alt="Couple asking questions before signing a lease" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>So you've been searching for a place to live. You've looked at a bunch of different homes and apartments, driven all over town, and have finally decided on the one you want. It's perfect. But before you whip out the pen and commit to something, ask the following 10 questions. They could prevent you from making a very costly &mdash; and time-consuming &mdash; mistake.</p> <h2>1. Which Utilities Are My Responsibility?</h2> <p>Depending on where you live (and how generous the landlord is), utility responsibility may vary. If you're living in a large apartment complex, you may find that a lot of utilities are covered by your rent. In other cases, it may only be water and sewage, or in the worst case scenario&hellip;nothing at all. So make sure you know exactly which utilities are going to be your responsibility, <em>and </em>see if you can get a history of the bills at that address. Some homes are more energy efficient than others, and some homes have additional costs you may not consider (such as fees for constructing new pipelines). When you get the complete picture, you may discover that the utility bills put a unit beyond your reach.</p> <h2>2. How and When Do I Pay My Rent?</h2> <p>You already know what the rent costs, but you also need to know how and when to pay it. These days, many larger apartment leasing companies will take payments online, or through an automated debit system. Private landlords will most likely take a check or banker's draft, and may want you to mail it, or hand it over in person. There may also be fees for paying online or by check, so ask about that. And of course, ask about late fees and grace periods. You may get up to five days to pay your rent without incurring a penalty.</p> <h2>3. Do I Have to Have Renters Insurance?</h2> <p>Any kind of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-reasons-you-definitely-need-renters-insurance?ref=internal">renters insurance</a> is good to have, even if it covers the bare minimum. But times are tough, and you may not have the money to afford it right now. Your landlord or leasing agency may not care. Or, they may have a very strict renters insurance policy, which could once again put you over your monthly budget and make the apartment off limits. If you are required to have it, shop around and get multiple quotes. Use these quotes as bargaining chips with each insurance company to get the best possible rate that covers more of your possessions.</p> <h2>4. What Is Your Guest Policy?</h2> <p>In this day and age, the vast majority of landlords are not going to care if you have guests for long visits. But, it never hurts to check the rules of the apartment complex or landlord. Even then, it's a very tricky rule to enforce, so it's doubtful anything will happen. The problems usually come with guests staying for an extended period of time. If your best friend suddenly becomes homeless and asks to stay in your spare room for a few months, that could have ramifications. And if you decide to move your partner in to live there permanently, you will have to consult the landlord. It's possible a background check will be needed.</p> <h2>5. Can I Make Improvements?</h2> <p>When you move into a new place, you want it to feel like home. That often means personalizing it with paint, wallpaper, new curtains, maybe even new carpet or tile. This should all be openly discussed with the landlord before you ever sign the lease, and put in writing. It's quite possible that any improvements you want to make (even a simple coat of paint), will have to be approved first. Even if you think you're making the place even better (adding a wooden floor for instance), the landlord has every right to take your security deposit when you move out.</p> <h2>6. How Long Is the Lease?</h2> <p>It may seem like an obvious question, but not all leases are created equal. Some landlords may be renting their home out for the summer, and want a tenant for six months or less. Some apartment complexes offer discounts for longer leases. Some leases are month-to-month. You need to know this up front, and also, what kind of fees you will pay to break that lease. It's possible you'll be asked to pay two months' rent to get out of it, and may also lose your security deposit. Other places may be much more relaxed, especially if you find someone to take over the lease.</p> <h2>7. How Much Is the Security Deposit and Do I Get All of It Back?</h2> <p>The typical amount for a security deposit is one month's rent, but it can vary from place to place. Some may only want a nominal fee &mdash; say $300. Now, by law, any kind of security deposit is refundable, that's why it's called a security deposit; you put the money down as insurance for the landlord, you get it back if all is well. However, different landlords have different thresholds for wear and tear, and it's possible you won't get the whole amount back, especially if you have pets.</p> <h2>8. How Will the Apartment Be Prepared and How Should I Leave It?</h2> <p>These are two different questions, but both relate to the cleanliness and appearance of the apartment. Before you move in, you need to know if the entire place will be cleaned and repaired. You may well be viewing the place before any of this has happened, and may be in for a shock if you move in and the carpets are stained and the lighting is broken. So, get in writing how the home should be delivered and returned. Also, when you move out, you may have to pay for some of those very services that make the home ready for the next tenants. So, ask if you have to have the carpets shampooed, or the place professionally cleaned. If you do, and don't do it, this fee can come out of your security deposit.</p> <h2>9. What's the Pet Policy?</h2> <p>Landlords don't like pets, often for good reason. They sometimes leave a smell, they can tear things, they're noisy at times, and they can leave nasty surprises on the carpet. For this reason, most places will have some kind of pet policy in place. It may be as simple as &quot;Yes, pets are fine, but don't let your dog bark all the time.&quot; Other places could impose a nonrefundable fee for the term of the lease to cover additional cleaning, or impose a monthly fee, known as pet rent. Even if you don't have a pet now, ask about it. You don't want to have to move out later because you want to get a dog or a cat.</p> <h2>10. How Do You Deal With Maintenance and Emergencies?</h2> <p>Again, this will vary depending on the kind of place you're looking at. Big apartment complexes usually have a maintenance staff on site, and a simple call to the front desk can be all it takes to get an issue resolved. If you're renting a home from a private landlord, you'll want to know up front what kind of response you will get, and how soon. If it's just a guy renting his house out, and your fence blows down, will it take weeks for the repair to happen? Can you call someone to make repairs, and remove the cost of service from your rent? Do all repairs have to go through the landlord, and are there preferred providers? All this should be asked up front.</p> <p><em>Have you ever been burned by the hidden terms of a lease?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/paul-michael">Paul Michael</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-questions-to-ask-before-signing-a-lease">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/why-i-choose-to-rent-instead-of-buy">Why I Choose to Rent Instead of Buy</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-things-you-should-never-hide-from-your-landlord">8 Things You Should Never Hide From Your Landlord</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-smart-ways-to-get-your-apartment-deposit-back">7 Smart Ways to Get Your Apartment Deposit Back</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-simple-way-to-decide-how-much-rent-you-can-really-afford">The Simple Way to Decide How Much Rent You Can Really Afford</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-added-costs-that-come-with-a-bigger-house">7 Added Costs That Come With a Bigger House</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Real Estate and Housing apartments breaking a lease insurance maintenance pets policies renters agreement renting security deposits signing a lease utilities Wed, 31 Aug 2016 10:30:09 +0000 Paul Michael 1782899 at http://www.wisebread.com