5 Facts Everyone Should Know About Home Loans Before Applying

StrategyDriven Practices for Professionals Article |Home Loans|5 Facts Everyone Should Know About Home Loans Before ApplyingUnless you’re one of the lucky few to win the lottery, it’s a safe bet that when it comes time to buy a home, you likely aren’t able to pay for the whole thing with out-of-pocket cash. In order to afford your first home, you’re going to need a home loan—more commonly called a mortgage. Whether through a bank or a credit union, like Rivermark Community Credit Union, home loans are a necessary step for homeownership.

Before you look into applying for credit union home loans, there are important things to keep in mind. In this blog, we’ll examine the critical details to know before you apply for a home loan. We hope this will help make the process of applying for a home loan more intuitive and less complicated as you continue on the path to homeownership. Here are five facts about home loans.

Fact #1: You May Qualify for an FHA Insured Loan

During the Great Depression, the US federal government set up a program through the Federal Housing Administration to help struggling homeowners afford insurance on their homes. Over the decades since, FHA loans have become standard and more complex, offering people the chance to afford homes who might not otherwise have the chance to afford them.

The chief purpose of FHA-backed loans is to make it easier for people with lower incomes to afford bank and credit union home loans. The backing of the government eliminates some of the risk borne by the lending institution, meaning that they can waive certain fees, demand less money upfront, and overlook certain income requirements they might otherwise have.

If you aren’t sure whether you qualify for an FHA-insured loan, you can always ask. Do note that while FHA-insured loans make it possible for lower-income people to obtain a home loan, you will typically need to have decent credit to successfully apply.

However, also note that it’s ultimately up to a given lending institution to set the relevant terms, so things like rates, credit scores, and loan terms can vary from lender to lender, on top of what the federal government requires.

Fact #2: Debts May Not Be Disqualifying

One concern we often hear from people coming to us for a credit union home loans is that they have debts they’re working to pay off: credit cards, medical debt, student loans, and more. These aren’t actually deal-breakers, as it turns out. Lending institutions often overlook medical debts in collections, and student loan debt is, actually, typically considered an indication that you may have higher income in the future than you do currently.

Even credit card debts or other accounts in collections can be acceptable by home loan underwriters. The overwhelmingly important thing that lending institutions will look at is your credit score. If your credit score is solid, this indicates to them you’re trustworthy, even with some collections on your account.

If you’re in debt, talk with your lending institution to see what sort of expectations, if any, they may have for you.

Fact #3: You Can Reduce Your Total Payment by Paying Extra

As with all loans that rely on compounding interest (that is to say, nearly all of them), having a longer payment period typically means two things. You pay less month-to-month, but you wind up paying more in the long run since there’s more time for the interest to compound. Play around with one of the many online mortgage calculators, and you’ll see this as plain as day.

For that reason, paying extra on your mortgage if you come into some extra money can reduce the overall length of time it takes to pay the mortgage back, and consequently, you’ll pay less overall. So, if you get a major bonus at work or receive an inheritance, putting it toward your bank or credit union home loans can be an excellent idea.

However, not all lending institutions will permit extra payments. Some may insist you hold fast to the agreed-upon payment plan. Discuss this with your lending institution ahead of time to see what options are available to you.

Fact #4: Money in the Bank (Probably) Won’t Count

When a mortgage underwriter is assessing the sort of funding they’ll be able to make available as part of a home loan, if you have considerable assets saved, you might be tempted to think that this will count in your favor. However, most modern underwriters consider assets negligible in terms of assessing your ability to pay back your loan. The reason for this is that they care more about your ability to pay in the long-term, and a nest egg can be depleted, even a sizable one.

For this reason, regular income is significantly more important than fixed assets or cash in the bank. However, one way in which this can be beneficial is that it will allow you to put more money down, reducing the amount you must borrow, which reduces your total financial obligation, as discussed in Fact #3.

Fact #5: Self-Employed? You Might Have a Rough Time

One of the nice things about the US tax code is that it allows—even encourages—business owners to write off expenses on their taxes in order to foster entrepreneurs. However, when it comes time to apply for a mortgage, this same benefit can backfire.

The reason for this is that one of the key documents underwriters use to assess your income and your ability to pay is your tax return. If you’ve made $200,000 in one year, but you’ve written off $170,000, the underwriter will see you as having an income of just $30,000, which may not be enough to apply for a home loan. This may be the case even if they know you make enough money through your business because underwriters often have their hands tied by executive decisions, particularly when they work for large, nationwide banks.

It’s for this reason that if you’re self-employed, you may want to consider credit union home loans instead. Credit unions, as local entities that serve specific communities, often have more freedom to work with their members than those employed by big banks.

Here are some additional fun facts about home loans. Did you know the term “mortgage” comes from a French term mort gaige, meaning “dead pledge”?

How To Ensure Your Resume Stays Top Of The Pile

StrategyDriven Practices for Professionals Article |Resume|How To Ensure Your Resume Stays Top Of The PileIn order to get the job you want, you need to have the skills that are required. You need to be able to fulfill the employer’s needs and do what they want. At the end of the day, you’re going to be a valuable cog in their well-oiled machine. If you don’t have what’s necessary, then you won’t get picked – it’s quite simple. There is another thing you need to do, though. You must ensure that you’re looking very attractive to them. Before they actually choose you, they need to fall completely in love with you and realize that there is nobody better for the position. If you can do that, then you’re golden.

You’ll get a chance to do this in an interview and during a trial period, but before any of those take place, you’ll need to grab their attention with your written communication. Your resume (or CV elsewhere) should be eye-catching and to the point. They need to love what they see and what they read. Here’s how you can make sure yours stays top of the pile for good:

Don’t Overthink It And Be Too Extravagant

It’s easy to want to write an awful lot about how good you’re going to be for them. While it’s counterintuitive, you’re going to want to write the fundamentals about yourself and leave it there. Too much detail and too much bragging won’t do it. It’s not an awards ceremony or a professional development plan; it’s a resume. They might become bored with all of the details or see it as trying too hard.

Get All The Right And Relevant Details In There

There’s nothing quite like reading something that wastes your time. For some reason, a lot of people like to put information in their resume that is just completely irrelevant to the situation.
Make sure you’re talking yourself up, but don’t talk about something that nobody really knows nor cares about. If you’re applying for a mental health position, then perhaps you should mention a masters of counselling degree, but don’t talk about something that is the antithesis of the profession.

Think About The Way It’s Presented

The look of it matters a lot, too. The content needs to be on point, but if it is presented in a terrible fashion, then minds are going to be made up very quickly. The way you present your resume says a lot about how you are and how you act as a person. Make sure they are excited to meet you.

Check Over For Mistakes A Few Times

The chances are that you will have made a few errors throughout the writing. That’s okay as it’s something everyone does every single day. Just make sure you look over it all a few times in order to wipe out any issues. You never know, there may be a zero tolerance for this kind of thing at the firm you’re looking to work in – they may see a small error and throw it in the trash immediately.

Benefits Of A Standing Desk

StrategyDriven Practices for Professionals Article |Standing Desk|Benefits Of A Standing DeskWith a rise in home offices, people are starting to understand the benefits that come with incorporating a standing desk in their home office. Sitting down for long hours at a time is awful for your health, can damage your posture and can even relinquish your productivity. With a standing desk, you will be able to keep the blood flowing leaving you motivated and alert while answering emails and joining Zoom meetings.

Standing desks come in a variety of styles and forms. You can choose an L-shaped standing desk, which is great for fitting into corners. If you are looking for a way to maximize your space, you can also choose a double desk. Get your work and your workout done if opting for a standing desk with a treadmill. You can save time and burn calories. If you are looking for something simple, go for a standalone standing desk. More than likely these will be the cheaper options.

The benefits of using a standing desk are endless. It is known to decrease your risk of obesity and excessive weight gain, could lower your blood sugar levels, decrease your risk of heart disease and heart failure, and can also decrease your pesky neck and back pain. Standing desk can also help out with your posture.

Standing desks are easy to use too. If you need to sit back down, you can press a button and the adjustable desk will be lowered for a comfortable sitting position. Make sure you keep your feet firmly on the ground and look straight forward.

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5 tips for a healthy work-life balance when working remotely

StrategyDriven Practices for Professionals Article |Work-Life Balance|5 tips for a healthy work-life balance when working remotelyIt is no understatement to say that the 2020 pandemic has turbocharged the existing well-documented trend towards greater remote working. “Remote work may be the most influential legacy of the Covid-19 pandemic,” says a recent survey. Companies are now expecting a greater proportion of their workforce to remain working remotely, even after the pandemic has passed.

For teams and their leaders, the benefits of remote working can be significant. Cutting out the daily commute, spending more time at home and scheduling work around family commitments should make for a much healthier work-life balance. Remote employees work harder and are happier than office-based staff. Their engagement is higher than ever, thanks to new technology that allows for instant messaging, video conferencing, online collaborations and more.

However, if working from home is now becoming a permanent feature for many workers who were previously based at employer premises, it is ever more important to ensure that sensible boundaries are set to protect the delicate balance between professional and private life. Here are some useful tips on how to achieve this on a daily basis.

1. Create a consistent schedule

Regardless of whether you work at the office or at home, a set schedule will provide the necessary discipline to keep a reliable routine for work and off-work hours. Even if your organisation uses scheduling software, it may be worth investing in your own time management tool to keep track of the number of hours you are working and to organise your day efficiently.

While commuting may no longer be an issue, an effective morning routine to get yourself up and ready for work is highly recommended. It doesn’t matter too much what it is – some people get dressed in business wear to get into work mode, others are happy in lounge wear – as long as it gets you into the proper mindset.

2. Communicate, communicate, communicate

Working from home can be a lonely business, which is why regular communication within the team is critical for remote teams. In addition to daily stand-ups, weekly meetings and other regular team communications, make sure you don’t neglect informal messaging with your colleagues and line managers leaders. Remote communication tools such as Zoom and Slack have seen a meteoric rise in users in recent months, but there are many other suitable products.

One leadership coach has this valuable advice for team leaders in the current health crisis: “Now more than ever, it’s important for your remote teams to feel their voices are being heard. They’re likely to be feeling isolated, so encourage regular feedback and ideas. It’s important for them to feel you’re concerned for their wellbeing. You’re all in this together, so make sure you keep listening.” (Monkhouse & Company)

3. Ringfence and organise your workspace

A laptop on the sofa or the dining table may be a workable solution for the occasional WFH day. However, if you are working remotely on a more regular, permanent basis, you should create a work-only zone as a way to set up boundaries around your professional and private life. Whether you have a desk in the corner or separate home office, make sure your workspace is tidy and organised at all times.

Be open to the occasional change of scenery if you get stuck. Sometimes, a new environment can help to break the monotony, unblock your creativity and satisfy the need for social interaction. You could take your laptop out onto the patio on a summer’s day, decamp to a local cafe with free WiFi, or use a coworking space.

4. Take scheduled breaks

Punctuate your working day with regular breaks. These don’t have to be long but they should get you off your chair and moving around. Actively counteract the potential problems of a sedentary job with periods of stretching, walking around, even doing some housework. Short breaks here and there throughout the day are also mentally stimulating, making you more productive during the working day and less exhausted at the end of it.

Resist the temptation to snack rather than eat proper meals, or even forget to eat altogether. The occasional donut and caffeine-fuelled day as a short-term fix to meet an urgent deadline may be forgivable, but the consequences of a blood sugar crash will leave you empty and irritable. Better to focus on a nutritionally balanced diet and a proper lunch hour away from the desk.

5. Practise self-care

Remote working can take its toll on your mental health unless you pay attention to replenish your inner resources. While working at the desk all day can be exhausting, there’s nothing like physical exercise to get yourself out of your head and into your body. From a quick yoga routine to taking the dog for a walk, a game of tennis or session at the gym, regular exercise is proven to reduce stress, improve concentration, memory, creativity and sleep.

Finally, there is a lot of truth in the old adage that ‘all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy’. A healthy work-life balance requires you to pay attention to your off-duty needs such as making time for social interaction with friends, creative pursuits, gardening or just getting out and about!

8 Ways To Build Savings Without Investment Risk

StrategyDriven Practices for Professionals Article | 8 Ways To Build Savings Without Investment RiskLiving paycheck to paycheck is a grim reality for many Americans. One recent report revealed that fewer than 40 percent of people have less than $1,000 in their savings accounts and that many have no retirement savings at all. This may sound familiar to you but it could be your worry that building your savings requires high-risk investments, and this could leave you bankrupt. Fortunately, there are a few strategies you can use to pad your savings account without having to navigate the stock market or make other risky investment moves.

1. Review and Revise Your Budget

Being realistic about your household budget can help you make great strides in building savings. If it has been more than six months since you last reviewed your budget, sit down with your spouse or partner and take a hard look at how you spend. Seeing your habits on paper may help you realize where you might be wasting cash and where you can make significant changes.

It can be daunting to make serious cuts to your budget, but if you want to grow your savings quickly, then sacrifices must be made elsewhere. This is not to say that you need to cut out entertainment or creature comforts completely, but it is wise to consider which services might be wasteful, such as magazine subscriptions or costly gym memberships. Read free articles online at your favorite magazine’s website and make plans to work out at home.

2. Set Small Goals at the Outset

While planning savings goals can keep you motivated, setting too large of a marker may frustrate you and cause you to toss your savings plans completely, especially once you first start out. Learning how to save can be a difficult process, so setting smaller, more attainable goals when you first open a savings account may be more fruitful in the long run.

For example, if you want to ultimately save $1,000, set a goal of $250, which is one-quarter of that amount. Once you reach that goal, up the mark to half, or $500, and so on. Raising your goal by these increments can help you see your progress in a positive light, and you will likely feel proud when you reach each milestone.

3. Use Credit Cards With Cashback Rewards

You might view using credit cards as being almost as financially daunting as some investment risks, but not all credit cards are bad news. In fact, some can help you pad your savings if you use them correctly. If you are currently searching for a card that suits your lifestyle and budget, consider applying for one that offers a cashback bonus instead of travel points or other perks.

A cashback reward can be useful in several ways. For example, many credit card companies that offer them allow you to put those rewards toward your monthly payment, which can raise what you pay toward your premium without having to pull money from your savings. Second, these rewards build from items you buy each month, such as groceries, fuel, and other necessities. It is important to remember, however, that a cashback credit card is only useful if you use it wisely and do not overspend.

4. Pick Up a Side Hustle

Technology has made finding a viable side hustle simpler than ever. From being an Uber driver to web design or content creation, picking up side work by using your natural talents can help your savings grow significantly. If you are not sure which job would be the best use of your time and effort, focusing on what you enjoy may be a good place to start.

While you might hesitate about turning a hobby you enjoy into a job, there are several advantages to this tactic. For example, if you enjoy creating digital art, consider adding a commissions list to your social media bio so you can take orders as they come and set a time frame that allows you to enjoy the artistic process while you make a profit at the same time.

5. Change Your Meal Plan

Revising your meal plan and how you grocery shop can help you understand where you might be wasting both money and food when you could be putting these resources toward your savings and dining table. Even if you use a shopping list, it may not be as effective as you think if you are not planning weekly meals.

Before you grocery shop, consider how much food you throw away each week when you clean out your fridge. Make a list of items that are wasted most often and strive to buy these less often. Consider cutting back on how often you eat out and make weekly meal plans so you can have the ingredients on hand. If you are pressed for time during the evening, cook and freeze meals over the weekend so you can defrost items when you get home from work.

6. Consolidate Your Bills

If you are struggling with loan payments, high-interest credit card bills, and other monthly debt that prevents you from saving money, you may want to consider consolidation. From companies that operate in the U.S. to those available for individuals and families living in Sweden, there are many to choose from.

You might think that consolidation is only an option for those who are facing bankruptcy or some other type of serious financial issue. However, this process is typically available for anyone who wants to reduce their monthly loan payments and opt to pay a consolidation company one lump sum instead. Depending on the company you chose and where you live, the interest for each payment and the total may be lower than what you are currently paying each individual creditor. Consolidation companies in Norway, for example, offer such manageable options.

7. Lower Your Energy Bills

Savings can be found around your home if you know where to look, and you can start with your energy resources. Old windows and doors allow heat and cooled air to escape, which wastes resources and may raise your utility bills. Consider investing in energy-efficient options instead. Contact a local roofing contractor to inquire about utilizing solar power and take steps to conserve water. When you lower these bills, the money left over can be applied toward your savings.

If you are uncertain about where you might be losing valuable energy resources around your home, you can ask your local power company to conduct an audit. During this process, a qualified energy professional will come to your property and evaluate how your home uses energy and where waste might be taking place. The auditor might suggest having your hot water tank cleaned of sediment, your ducts cleaned, and which rooms might benefit from new windows and doors.

8. Make Willing Financial Sacrifices

Your savings cannot grow unless you make a conscious effort to contribute to them each pay period. This will probably require several sacrifices on your part, but you might find skipping that expensive latte or saying no to a new outfit is well worth it as you watch your savings increase. Remember, you do not have to deny yourself all the time and live on the bare minimum when it comes to growing your savings, but making financial sacrifices a few times a month can go a long way.

Building your savings account without making risky investment choices can be a challenge. However, when you take steps to revise your budget and spend more wisely, you might see your nest egg grow by leaps and bounds.