What are the Pros and Cons of Home Ownership.

Home is where the heart is. So went the adage. It has always been drilled into our brain that growing up and buying a home was the smartest financial move ever. In fact, buying a home was and is considered as a very good investment opportunity. Sounds too good to be true, right?  Or is it?

Let us look at the pros and cons of home ownership.

  1. Yale economist and Nobel Prize winner Robert Shiller debates about the feasibility of accepting home buying as an investment. He says, that the returns are just too small and that the premise of real estate appreciation does not always stand true. Calculated over the past 100 years, home prices have grown at a measly rate of 0.3%, after adjusted for inflation. Stocks and bonds have given, over the same period, an annual return of 6.5%. This difference is just big to ignore.
  2. Home buying should be kept as just that. An asset to protect you and your family against the vagaries of nature. As an investment vehicle, it simply does not stand up to the other instruments available in the market. What blunder most do is to make up more than 75% of their investment based on the price of their home. There is an inherent risk because of the lack of diversification.
  3. Owning a home is an absolute matter of pride. And beyond that, a recognition of all the hard work you have put in to buy that property. It is also a sign of prosperity.
  4. Owning a home is an excellent tax saver.
  5. The question of equity comes into play. Rent paid is gone forever. It never builds up your financial equity. However, with a mortgage payment, equity is built over a period in time.
  6. Owning home lets you beat inflation, even though by a very small percentage. According to Prof. Karl Case, long-term housing did have its moment when it went a wee bit ahead of inflation. Now, if you are young and thinking 30 to 40 years ahead, it is a very valuable insurance against inflation. Not a mean task at all.
  7. Contradicting to what I had said in point 1, the house is a risk capital. Again, as mentioned earlier, a home should never be viewed as a way to get rich, because it simply does not work that way. However, equity in a home can always be linked to your portfolio.

Home owning does have its fair share of pros and cons.  It totally depends on the individual and his or hers financial situations. But as the line goes, “Home sweet home”.

Saving Now Saves You Tomorrow

At 22 you are the king of the world. Nothing seems to bother you. You are invincible, raring to go and virtually unstoppable. Now pause and take a few steps back. This age, rage, and energy will not last forever. A few years down the line, when you slow down a bit, wisdom will suggest that the future holds no surprises, except old age and financial insecurity.

At 22, your effort to financial security begins.

At first, this might seem to be a scary proposition with too much information floating around, but there is enough reason

  1. Don’t get flustered with all that has been told to you in the form advice. Take an informed decision based on research. All those numbers around mean nothing if looked into properly.
  2. Start saving a little and more often. Start putting that in 401(k) and see it slowly rise.
  3. If you think the social security net will be good enough for you, think again. It is estimated that by 2037, social security benefit requirements will outstrip contributions. As a result of which, it would get difficult for you to sustain after retirement.
  4. The 401(k) is a reliable ally at this age. Start using it wisely. The money that is invested here is absolutely tax-free. The tax will only be deducted when you take it out. So this instrument is quite handy for a 22-year-old and needs to be made use to its fullest.
  5. The IRAs too have loads of benefits to make use of. It is an Individual Retirement Arrangement and is virtually tax-free, both on federal taxes, state and local ones. Of course, there are riders involved, but at this age, that should be bothersome.
  6. Now is the time to be aggressive. At 22, worrying about your retirement, investment becomes an art. Remember, you still have another 20 years or 30 years to go before you hang your boots up. You can take a risk now. Look out for stocks and bonds. With age, you can slowly change tracks and become conservative. Now is not the time.
  7. There are nontraditional ways to invest too. Heard about ETF (Exchange Traded Funds). They can be bought and sold at any time and is just a regular stock in disguise.
  8. Last but not the least. Stop worrying, start saving. That is the only way forward.

A Perfect House And A Long Commute

This is a dilemma most home buyers have to face. On one hand, they have their dream property right in front of their eyes and on the other; they have the ignominy of a long commute. But before discussing the long and short of this, what defines a long commute. Is it a 30 minutes drive, a 45 minutes exercise, an hour and a half gruel? The time needs to be factored in. Also, if one is commuting for that long, you need to calculate the returns you are getting while doing so. The ideal question should have been, is it worthwhile?

Now, money is and will forever be a finite instrument. Just like life and time.  So how much of it would you be spending in the car, stuck in traffic and not being happy about it at all? Perhaps nothing at all. However, let’s look at the other possibilities. Your workplace, even though at a great distance from your new home, pays you well. It pays you to afford a great house, bills that you need to pay each month, education for your child et al. If that is the kind of job you are currently in, the journey is worth the while. Also, the title did mention a perfect house. Now that would mean, it did fit your budget more admirably than the other ones which you had checked out. The advice would be stick to it. Both your job and your perfect house matter and what links both of them is the paycheck you receive every month. Of course, if either one is suspect, then you have to start looking for newer possibilities. If it is not and I presume it surely is not, a commute should not be the deciding factor. Certain other things to look out for. Is the new house, which seems perfect to you, in a good school district, provided you are a couple. Even if you are not, the future needs to be factored in.

Statistics show that while the average commuting time has remained unchanged at 25.5 minutes those traveling for more than an hour rose to 11.1 million in 2012. Now that is a rise of 300000 from 2011.

Hence, idea is to strike a balance and it greatly boils down to priorities and find the perfect mix.

Would It Be Too Soon To Ask For a Raise at Work After Only Five Months?

The term too early is always dependent on the individual and the company. What some companies consider too early for a raise might be normal for others. Similarly, if you think your performance is worth a raise within the first 5 months of joining a company then you can obviously go for it. Negotiating a pay-raise in 5 months is not quite a norm in majority of the companies, until and unless you have years of experience and outstanding performance to back your claim.

Majority of the companies around the globe think of giving a raise after an employee completes at least one year of dedicated service. However, the question of a raise can’t be rejected if the employee has performed exceptionally well and has managed to bring in huge business to the company. If you think that you are being paid lesser than colleagues working in your rank, you can always raise the issue with your HR.

In several companies, six months is considered to be the end of probation period and it’s better to wait out another month before you can actually raise the issue with your HR. As said earlier, getting a raise depends on the company policy, so you can’t ask for a rise in companies that follow a policy of not allowing a raise before an employee completes certain number of months in the company. There’s no point in arguing with your HR regarding a raise because you feel that you were handed a raw deal during your interview.

The best way to understand whether your company can actually give you a raise is to ask around and enquire a bit with your colleagues whether you can ask for a raise or not. A little survey in your office can clear the air for you and it will be easier for you decide whether you can get a pay hike in 5 months or not. Your colleagues will inform you if any such past raises have been offered to any employee or not. They will also inform you whether there has been any kind of feedback in your performance from the HR department or not.

Getting a raise is quite tough within the first few months if you haven’t performed exceptionally well and in fact have managed to catch the attention of your seniors. Only your seniors and the HR can decide on the raise so it’s better if you find ways to please them with your work and efficiency.

Five Easy Tips for Young Homebuyers Buying Their First Home

Buying a home for the first time can be both an overwhelming as well challenging task. You have so many things to consider while buying a property that you will call home for the rest of your life. Young couples often face the daunting task of deciding on a house that fits their pocket as well as aspirations. Thus, it is imperative to do a little financial homework before you can actually get down to some legwork.

Here are 5 easy tips for young homebuyers that will make their task much easier:

  • Check your credit score – To qualify for a loan, your credit score is going to play the most vital role. Every bank follows very strict loan approval criteria when it comes to credit scores. You will have to check your credit report for unpaid accounts or collection accounts or mistakes and rectify anything that can adversely affect your credit score. If you have a damaged credit score then you will have to invest some money and time to get it rectified. You need to keep in mind that only a good credit score will make you eligible for a loan.
  • Weighing your assets and liabilities – First time homebuyers need to weigh their assets and liabilities. They must be aware of the amount of money they draw in and the money that they actually owe. This will give them a clear picture regarding the money that they will need after buying a house.
  • Arrange the documents – You will need documents at every stage of home buying, so be ready with documents like two recent pay slips, tax returns, last two month’s bank statement etc. Buying a home is a time consuming process but when you are ready with the documents, consider one third of the job done.
  • Find out whether you qualify – You will need to find out whether you actually quality for a housing loan or not. For these you can ask the bank officials and find out the amount of money you will need to repay the loans and the exact amount of loan you qualify for.
  • Determine the down payment – You will have to get in touch of your bank and find out the exact down payment that you shall have to make. This again can be determined from the loan amount and the time period for which you wish to take the loan.