The Durkin Group's Blog
Job responsibilities, maintaining a home, and meeting the growing needs and demands of your family can feel overwhelming at times! It's not always easy to juggle a busy schedule, balance your budget, and make sure your bills get paid on time. The ideal scenario is to organize your life in such a way so that you're not allowing priorities to slip through the cracks.
In many ways, keeping your life under control is a lot like building a house. In both cases, you have to make sure you're creating a strong foundation that will provide support and long-term stability for your current and future needs. Easier said than done, but it's a goal worth doggedly pursuing!
It's All In Your Head... Mostly!
Half the battle to being in control of your life is feeling like you're in control, and that feeling often hinges on being able to see evidence of those circumstances. Whether the feedback you're getting from your environment is positive or negative, it's going to have a direct impact on your energy level, your attitude, and your confidence. That's why it's important to control the things you can -- and recognize the ones that are outside of your control.
Not paying your bills on time is one of those aspects of life that can have a lot of repercussions, over time, especially if you're chronically forgetful, disorganized, or overextended. When you think about it, there are a lot of sound reasons for staying one step ahead of your due dates. The primary reason is that paying your bills in a timely way will help you maintain a high credit score, which is valuable when applying for a mortgage, a home improvement loan, or some other form of financing.
There are also two other compelling reasons to avoid missing payments or due dates:
- Sending in late payments creates additional stress in your life, and you probably have more than your share of that, now! Many people don't recognize how insidious and damaging stress can be, both to our mental and physical health. In some cases, stress is avoidable or can be controlled by taking preventative action.
- Receiving "past due" notices and allowing your credit score to slip can and does have a negative effect on your self esteem. Once that starts happening, it can undermine and impact other important aspects of your life, including job performance, relationships, and even dietary and lifestyle choices. Remember that "a chain is only as strong as its weakest link".
While some financial problems may require professional help to get them resolved, others can be nipped in the bud by examining and sometimes shifting your priorities, increasing your awareness of when payments are due, and resolving to build a strong financial foundation that will support you and your family through thick and thin.
Moving day is likely the most stressful day of the home-buying process. With so many items to keep track of, not to mention kids and pets, it can be easy to get overwhelmed during the process. To make matters worse, sometimes the items to so carefully pack are damaged during the move, or while unpacking at your new home.
In this article, we’re going to attempt to alleviate some of that moving day stress by giving you expert advice on how to avoid damaging your belongings during a move, and what to do if damage does occur.
What items are prone to damage?
Some items need to be handled with extra care while packing and while moving. Those items include:
Glasses, plates, and other fragile kitchenware
Electronics, especially those with display screens like televisions, tablets, or digital photo frames
Mirrors and glass decoratives
Anything containing liquid--this could be shampoo, cleaning supplies, wine or alcohol bottles, and so on. These are of particular importance because if they leak they can damage other items, not to mention require a cleanup that you don’t have time for
Packing to avoid damage
There are a few things you can do while packing and securing your boxes to avoid damage during a move. We’ve outlined some important packing tips below:
Buy bright red fragile stickers and use them appropriately. Putting a fragile sticker on every box is no use, because you’ll need to know while ones shouldn’t be stacked high or left in insecure places in the moving van.
For fragile items like glasses and plates, wrap them several times in packing paper, and put them in a double-thick packing box. When you fill the box, avoid leaving too much empty space but also be careful not to pack too much inside. This will put excessive pressure on the fragile items inside.
For liquid items, check that caps are all screwed on tightly. Then place them inside of ziploc bags if you’re able. If not, putting them inside a plastic grocery bag and typing the top should be sufficient enough if a small leak occurs from one of the bottles.
Securing items in the moving truck
When it comes to stacking your boxes in the moving truck, put the heaviest, largest, and least-fragile boxes in the truck first. Use straps and bungee cords to keep items grouped together and avoid having boxes or other items tip over. Think of filling the truck like a game of Tetris- the better the items fit together, the less likely they are of falling.
What to do if your items are damaged
First of all, make sure to read the contract with your moving company and to purchase insurance. Then, take photos of your fragile and valuable items to that you can prove they weren’t damaged before the move.
If something is damaged, take a photo of it right away and request the paperwork required to file a complaint with the moving company. If they ignore your request, you may choose to file a formal complaint with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration on their website
If you’re hoping to buy a home in the near future, there are a number of financial factors you’ll need to consider.
One of the factors that all lenders will consider when determining whether or not to approve you for a mortgage is credit score.
In this article, we’ll lay out the minimum and ideal credit scores that are needed for getting approved for a home loan.
Determining Your Score
As you may guess, credit reporting is a complicated business. There are three main reporting companies that lenders use to determine your credit: Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax. These companies largely collect the same data about your finances, but can have minor variations. Lenders will take these scores and use the median or middle score to determine your credit rating.
Thanks to the Fair Credit Reporting Act, Americans have the ability to confirm the accuracy of their reports.
If you want to find your credit score, there are a number of online reporting agencies that will show you your report for free on an annual or monthly basis.
Minimum credit scores
Depending on the type of loan you’re applying for and which lender you are pursuing, minimum credit scores vary.
For those seeking first-time homeowner (FHA) loans, you’ll need a credit score of at least 580 to qualify for a 3.5% down payment. A score lower than this amount and you will need to put at least 10% down.
Since FHA loans are insured by the government, you are more likely to be approved if you have a low or “poor” or “bad” credit score (usually anywhere from 300 to 650).
Another type of loan that could help people with low credit is offered by the Department of Veteran’s Affairs. These loans, known as VA loans, are guaranteed, in part, by the government. However, the loans are still approved and distributed by lenders who all have varying minimum credit requirements. A good benchmark is that you’ll need a score of at least 620 to be approved.
Minimum isn’t ideal
While you may get approved for a loan with a low credit, this isn’t always a reason to celebrate.
Lenders use your credit score, among other things, to help determine the interest rate of your loan. A lower score often means a higher interest rate.
While 1 or 2 percent can seem like a small number, it can mean paying tens of thousands of dollars more in interest over the span of a thirty-year loan.
To illustrate the importance of one percent, consider the following. If you owe $200,000 on a home and intend to pay it over 30 years, you will pay $103,000 in interest at 3% and $143,000 at 4% - that’s a difference of $40,000.
Rather than shooting for the minimum credit score, a better approach would be to build credit while saving for a down payment. Someone with a credit score of 740 or higher will be seen by most mortgage lenders as an ideal person to lend to.
Of course, life doesn’t always allow for the ideal situation. So, do your best to save and build credit, and be sure to shop around for the best rates when you’re ready.
Buying a house involves dozens of interrelated decisions, many of which could affect the quality of your life for years to come. No pressure, though!
Working with an experienced real estate agent with whom you feel comfortable is one strategy for successfully navigating many of those pivotal decisions. The ideal buyers' agent will be familiar with neighborhoods in your target area, and is trained to help you match your requirements with properties in your price range. They can assist you in developing a priority list of things you want and need in your next home.
In addition to noticing the features of each individual house you're considering, there's also the bigger picture of the character of the neighborhood in which homes are located. Here are a few things you may want to keep in mind as you visit different homes for sale.
- Street traffic: There are several distinct disadvantages to living close to a busy street or highway. First of all, there's the noise factor, which is often a deal breaker for people who thrive on peace and quiet! If you have young children, a busy street can also be a potential safety hazard. When you have cars constantly driving by your house, privacy is another issue to consider.
- Proximity of houses: Speaking of privacy and quiet, there's also the question of how physically close houses are situated next to each other. If they're only ten or twenty feet away, then you might end up knowing more about your neighbors than you really want to! (The reverse of that is also true.) In those instances, privacy hedges and tall fences can provide some benefits.
- Appearance of the neighborhood: If nearby houses are in run-down condition or poorly maintained, that's generally a "red flag," in regard to the quality of the neighborhood. The same can usually be said about prospective neighbors who keep junk vehicles or construction debris on their property for any length of time. If you're considering a neighborhood with one or more abandoned houses on the street, proceed with caution. However, what you see, is not always what you get! Appearances can be misleading, and there may be plans underway, for example, to demolish a fire-damaged house and replace it with a new and improved home. Very often your real estate agent can find out more about the circumstances surrounding an abandoned or boarded-up house. They may also be able to help you research crime statistics for a particular neighborhood or street.
- Convenience factors: All things being equal, it's nice to live within walking distance or a short drive from grocery stores, drug stores, banks, public parks, the post office, child care services, schools, doctors, dentists, hospitals, veterinarians, restaurants, and other amenities.