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Training Your Financial Garden to Bloom

The Money Nerve
Investing in a Bull Market

Training Your Financial Garden to Bloom

We often speak about putting your dollars to work or controlling your money to avoid bad fiscal habits controlling your actions or pinching your Money Nerve, but today I would like to discuss training your financial garden to bloom. When you plant a garden, you want to nourish the seeds, water the plants, pull out the weeds and give it some of your attention every day. Let’s apply that same concept to your garden of dollars to enrich what you have by growing your finances with a definite plan, proactive actions, and being mindful about money every day.

 

Bull Market Jitters

With the stock market at an all-time high, during this nine-year run of the Bull Market, many people are now wondering and worrying about the best time to harvest their returns. Do you cash out of the stock market now and funnel the cash into tangible assets like real estate or gold (up 2% in the last two weeks)? Or do you ride the Wall Street Wave for as long as you can and hope your losses will be offset by the past five years of high returns. Don’t let emotions rule your decisions. We all know that day of reckoning is coming, but we just don’t know when it will happen. Continue to grow and train your financial garden, keeping up with the positive trends and weeding out the bad investments.

Rebalancing Stocks

Rebalancing is essential any time you invest but even more so when the market is peaking. You should be reviewing your assets on a regular basis and tweaking as the need to reduce risk or increase it changes over time. The habit of rebalancing also helps to keep any emotional, knee-jerk reactions to the market’s volatility under control. Be sure to ask yourself what comparative advantages/products/services made you buy a stock in the first place, and decide if that same mindset holds true today. Additionally, having 30-40% of your assets in cash can help insulate your portfolio from stock price declines. Although you won’t generate the higher returns, you have given yourself liquidity and a degree of safety.

Five Investment Strategies for a Bull Market 

(Via USA Today, photo credit: Getty Images)

1. Reassess your investment thesis for each holding

Dividend stocks come with some key advantages.  The main reason many people like dividend stocks is that dividends paid are a beacon for income-seeking investors looking for time-tested business models. In other words, a company isn’t going to pay a regular dividend if its management team doesn’t expect profits to continue.

2. Add dividend stocks to hedge against inevitable stock market corrections

In an environment where the Fed is walking on eggshells and only incrementally increasing rates, growth stocks should continue to have access to relatively cheap capital that they can use to expand and hire.

3. Consider focusing on growth stocks in a low-interest environment

Buying into high-quality stocks on a regular basis helps to remove emotions from the equation, and it eliminates trying to “time the market.”

4. Regularly buy into stocks to lower your cost basis

Another great idea, now that the stock market at an all-time high, is to buy into new and existing stocks on a regular basis. Whether that’s weekly, monthly, or quarterly, buy into companies that you believe in regardless of where the three major U.S. indexes are valued.

5. Trust the process (and the data)

Last, but not least, trust the process and the long-term data. As noted, the stock market has returned an average of 7% annually, inclusive of dividend reinvestment. This percentage would work out to a doubling an average of once a decade.

Spending time thinking and planning to train your financial garden to grow in a bull market will reap benefits when market corrects itself.

 

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Low and No Payment Mortgages

mortgages

Low and No Down Payment Mortgages

Low and No Down Payment Mortgages

~ written by Clever Dude

Hi Money Nerve readers! Thought this “Clever Dude” article about mortgages was very informative. Check out the details.

Many years ago, mortgages required a good credit score and a large down payment of at least 20%. That’s no longer the case since the Federal Government created several home loan programs making it easier for borrowers to attain a mortgage loan.

Here are some loan programs that allow for a low, or no down payment.

FHA Loans
The Federal Housing Administration was introduced to help encourage home ownership in the U.S.You may qualify for an FHA loan with just a 580 credit score and a low down payment of just 3.5%. That’s a much lower down payment than conventional loans which require between 10% – 20% down.

One of the great things about FHA loans is that the down payment can be a gift from a friend or family member. Up to 100% of the down payment amount can be gifted to the borrower allowing for 100% financing to those who are receiving a gifted down payment.

The FHA also allows for higher debt-to-income ratios than other types of home loans. In some cases, lenders can allow for DTI ratios up to 50%. With this calculator, you can figure out how much house you can afford factoring in PMI and property taxes.

Pros and Cons of FHA Loans

Pros

Low down payment
Low 580 credit requirement
Lower interest rates
Higher debt-to-income ratios allowed
Up to 6% of closing cost can be paid by the seller
Non-occupying co-borrowers allowed
Many FHA approved lenders nationwide
Higher allowed debt-to-income ratios

Cons

Low loan limits
Fixer-upper homes can’t be financed
Mortgage insurance premium required
High MIP costs, up to 1% of loan amount
Up-front MIP required

VA Loans
If you’re a Veteran you may qualify for a VA mortgage. VA loans are the cheapest type of mortgage loan available. They require no down payment and no mortgage insurance is required. In order to qualify, you must be an active, or retired Veteran or a Veteran spouse.

Like FHA loans, VA loans come with lower mortgage rates than most conventional loans do. They do require a higher credit score than FHA, most lenders require a minimum 620 credit score to receive 100% financing.

USDA Loans
The U.S. Department of Agriculture created the USDA rural housing program to help loan to median-income borrowers become homeowners in rural parts of the country. USDA loans do not require a down payment.

Because they are 100 % financing lenders have higher credit score requirements. Typically you will need a minimum 640 FICO score to qualify for a USDA mortgage. When you think of the term “rural” you generally think of farms and ranches. However, about 97% of the country is in an eligible USDA location. Most areas that are 30 miles outside of major cities are USDA eligible.

Conventional 97 Loans
Fannie Mae is one of the largest buyers of mortgage in the U.S. Fannie Mae has started the 97% LTV conventional mortgage loan which requires just a 3% down payment. That’s even lower than FHA. To qualify for this loan program you must have at least a 620 credit score.

Some of the benefits of conventional loans are the higher loan limits than Government backed mortgages. In low-cost areas of the country, the loan limit is $424,100 which is over $150,000 higher than the FHA limits. Like FHA loans, conventional 97 loans also allow 100% of the down payment to come from gift funds.

The Bottom Line…
There are many mortgage programs besides just FHA that offer low or no down payment loans. USDA and VA are the only two mortgages that offer 100% financing. If you’re not eligible for either you may qualify for FHA or a conventional 97 loan with low down payment requires, much lower than traditional financing.

Knowing your options is an important part of the process especially before speaking to a loan officer. Not all lenders offer all types of loans, knowing the different types of loan programs can help you save a bundle on your home.

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Intentional Words Create an Abundant Life

Intentional words create an abundant life!

Words are powerful

Listen to what you are saying to yourself and the world. Now, consciously use words to create a new paradigm. Think before you speak. If you want to change where your life is going, then it’s time to become aware of your internal priorities. It is feasible to live an abundant life regardless of your salary level.

People say, “I need a bigger TV,” or “I need to go to Hawaii.” But these are wants are not needs. They may want those things, yet they can live a full life without a bigger screen or vacation. People need oxygen; they don’t need the newest cell phone upgrade. By prioritizing need over want, many people find that they are more connected to what is valuable to them, and don’t want to waste time or money on the latest gadget advertised by the media.

Once you decide what is important, listen to your words, begin to give yourself more choices, and change your mental map. Your word is your magic wand and the words you speak create your destiny! If you constantly want more or feel overwhelmed by the “things” you have accumulated, you can redefine what “MORE” can be. You will want to expand your vocabulary and choose new words to use.

MORE isn’t always better

Adopt the mantra that MORE isn’t always better. More than enough food may make you heavier and less healthy. More than enough alcohol may consume your budget and your good judgment. More than enough clothes may cause you stress each day when you can’t decide what the “right look” is. And more than enough stuff takes over your life, clutters your house and mental state, and strains your budget when you have to pay to store all your extra stuff! Having less does not mean being poor or restricted. you can live an abundant life thru positive choices.

Create an abundant life where MORE is less

Here are some examples:
More time with friends, less time stressing about work or money.
More options to make life fulfilling, less fear of what others think.
Intentionally selecting actions to complete your life goals, build a more meaningful life and less blame, shame, and frustration.

Choose the Life You Wish to Lead

By choosing what positive choices and changes you want and then directing your energy on those, you spend less time fixating on the negative impulses, purchases, and decisions. Thus, you begin to live each day with the intention of creating an abundant and proactive life, personally and financially.

What words will you use?

Find powerful action words to support a sense of purpose like “I will”  “I can” “My next step is…” Give yourself permission to make conscious choices. Let go of old assumptions and give your life the value it deserves. Start by substituting the word “but” with the word “and.” It opens up your options! Try it, “I really want _____ and I can _____ to achieve that.” You only have one life ~ Live an abundant life and make the most of it!

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Tax Tips to Lower Your 2016 Tax Bill

Tax Tips to Lower Your 2016 Tax Bill

You still have time to cut your taxes — and make smart moves to lower next year’s as well. As a certified CPA myself, I am swimming through a pile of tax returns for my clients! I wanted you to have some good info on how to lower your 2016 tax bill, if you haven’t filed yet.  Here are some effective tips from SANDRA BLOCK, Senior Associate Editor, Kiplinger’s Personal Finance.

Most taxpayers approach the tax-filing deadline with a mixture of fear and loathing. But this year, there are reasons to be more sanguine. For one thing, because 2016 was an election year, Congress didn’t tinker much with the tax code. If your personal circumstances didn’t change last year, your tax bill probably won’t change much, either. And if you’re a do-it-yourself filer, you don’t have to get up to speed on a slew of new rules.

Because April 15 falls on a Saturday this year and April 17 is a holiday in Washington, D.C., you have until Tuesday, April 18, to file your federal tax return.

VIDEO: How to Prepare for Tax Season

Here are some ways you can still trim your 2016 tax bill, plus potential speed bumps.

Contribute to an IRA.

If you’re not enrolled in a 401(k) or other workplace retirement plan, you can deduct an IRA contribution of up to $5,500 ($6,500 if you’re 50 or older), no matter how high your income. You have until April 18 to make a 2016 contribution to your IRA.

Fund a health savings account.

You also have until April 18 to set up and fund a health savings account for 2016. To qualify, you must have had an HSA-eligible insurance policy at least since December 1.

Get credit for tuition payments.

The American Opportunity tax credit, worth up to $2,500 per eligible student for the first four years of college, is a valuable tax break for parents of college students.

Health care housekeeping.

President Trump has vowed to repeal the Affordable Care Act, but it was still in effect in 2016, so you’ll have to deal with it on your tax return. To avoid a “shared responsibility payment”—longhand for a penalty—you must prove that you had qualifying health insurance in 2016 or were eligible for an exemption.

Want to investigate these ideas  a little deeper? Additional details HERE

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A BETTER LIFE

3x3-a-better-life

A Better Life- Since the beginning of mankind’s existence, people have searched for a way to build a better life. Even in today’s world, with all of our knowledge and a vast amount of wealth and resources, we all still yearn for the best life we can create. It is a universal sense of making our world a better place to be.

What is a better life? Some people say it is enough food, a roof over our heads, education, and the opportunity to better ourselves, and enjoy a balance of work and recreation. Become more proactive by living fully every day; it is imperative to think ahead and plan a rough outline of what is important to you and what you wish to achieve over time.

Many old sayings and fables allude to being organized and making intentional choices with money. Have you ever heard these sayings?

Don’t count your chickens before they are hatched ~ Aesop’s Fables. My modern day translation: Don’t put all your purchases on a credit card when you cannot even make the monthly payment.

A fool and his money are soon parted ~ Thomas Tusser. My modern translation: People who make stupid money decisions soon lose all of their money and become poor.

He who pays the piper calls the tune ~ Unknown. My modern day translation: A person who has the money to pay for services has the right to state how the money should be used and to receive exactly what he or she wants.

Money grows through sheer persistence ~ Japanese proverb. My modern day translation: Slow, steady steps toward improving your money decisions and enriching your live takes thoughtfulness.

A rich man is nothing more than a poor man with money ~ W.C. Fields. My modern day translation: You are who you are, no matter how many dollars are in your pocket

Don’t let making a living prevent you from making a life ~ John Wooden. My modern day translation: Remember what is most important in life; family, friends, respecting and loving others.

A man in debt is so far a slave ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson. My modern day translation: When you allow yourself to owe more money than you can repay, you have lost all control of your day-to-day decisions and can be manipulated by all. You have lost your freedom to live as you wish.

Money is only a tool. It will take you wherever you wish, but it will not replace you as the driver ~ Ayn Rand. My modern day translation: You have the power. You can create a better life. Your actions have a direct impact on the results.

If one of these sayings resonates with you; write down and tape it to your mirror. Say it aloud every morning and consciously make daily decisions that lead to a better life!

(photo via http://easyway1234.blogspot.com/2016/05/dont-count-your-chickens-before-they.html)

 

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TALKING ABOUT MONEY WITH YOUR PARTNER

3x3-talking-about-moneyPeople would rather talk about sex than their money. It is more important to talk about money with your partner. Starting an open communication about what each partner makes, what the responsibilities are, and choosing how to manage your money, is a powerful tool for building a successful relationship.

Arguments revolving around finances are the Number 1 reason for many divorces and break-ups. If you are serious about your partner, you need to start talking about money with your partner. One easy way to start this discussion is to share about how your family handled finances. Did your Mom pay all the bills? Did your Dad always plan the family trips? Were you and your siblings paid allowance for doing household chores or was your allowance given without any obligations? Once you and your partner hear how your families handled money and find common ground, it is easier to understand why your partner makes different financial decisions than you might. Having this knowledge can also help couples to formulate a blended plan, ensuring each person has a voice setting budgets and spending.

When one person makes more money, it is easy for the other to feel less valuable. Both people need to know that they are contributing to future goals and can share their opinion. Resentment can build when there is a feeling of iniquity or that one’s opinion is not valued. Another habit that can “kill” a relationship is hiding “secret” savings accounts or debt. Each person needs to build a healthy relationship with money, so both of you can work together to be accountable for personal needs and spending money and joint dreams and goals!

Listening and talking about money with your partner can help you find creative ways to solve financial challenges. Now you can make proactive choices for directing your money toward large purchases and investing in your future…together!

Check out some of the tools on this website. Many of these tools are free and offer a roadmap for smarter fiscal management. Browse some of these links and talk with your partner about which tools might be best for you!

(Photo via business.financialpost.com)

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IT’s YOUR MONEY

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It’s Your Money!

This is a long-term relationship that goes on for the rest of your life.
Honor it.
Respect it.
Take it seriously.

Your money relationship never ends, it only changes form. This is one
relationship you can’t get out of. It’s your unique relationship, so how
you choose to respond to finances depends on you.
Will you actively participate or shut down?
Will you plan ahead?
Will you make mistakes? And when you do, how will you get back on track?

You control this financial relationship. It’s Your Money
Own that. Take responsibility. This is your life.
Keep your financial reality in your consciousness.
Talk about money issues with others to help bring them to consciousness, to help them heal.
Set goals and make budgets.
Teach financial responsibility to children for future generations.

Forgive yourself for your wants, needs, mistakes, ambition, shame, and
guilt. It’s only money!

Heal your Money Nerve.
Embrace your financial relationship—
for what it was …
what it is …
and what it will be.

You deserve a healthy relationship with money, after all, it’s your money.
You have earned it—literally.
Are you ready to receive and manage abundance?
It’s your choice!

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THE VALUE OF TIME

 

3x3 Value of Time

How do you value your time?

What does time mean to you? Do you give your time a value?

I am not just speaking about an hourly wage; I am talking about all the hours in your life. Life is full of activities, challenges, distractions, and obstacles every day. Many people feel they could use a “double” to get everything done. 

A 2008 Forbes article looks at this dilemma, “Time is the most valuable commodity. We never seem to have enough of it. Everyone is time-strapped, time-poor, time-starved. Choose your cliché. Most of us don’t make the most of our time. We wish we did. A self-help industry has flourished on the hope that even if we can’t make more time–the 24 hours in a day remain immutable–we can at least make the most of what we have. Even the most ardent makers of “to-do” lists fritter time away.

Which raises this question to fill an idle moment: Why don’t we value time as we do any other good or service? We could then decide what we do with ours in the most cost-effective way: rationally maximizing our “return on time invested” (ROTI), if you will.”  {Tools for allocating assets}

Ben Franklin said, “Time is Money.” Substitute the word INVESTING for MONEY. Using the word investing as you delegate time may help you to place a higher value on people and experiences. Investing in yourself could be additional education, job training or saving for the future. Investing in relationships could mean scheduling time for valuable activities with family, friends or loved ones. By equating a value to time – it can alter the perspective of your intentions. Being young can give one the sense that everything will last forever, and family and friends will always be there. As people age, many develop a keen sense of time as friends move away or they experience the loss of a cousin, uncle or parent. In retrospect, the personal relationships take on a greater value.

An interesting way to value time is to compare it to a bank account where each person is given 86,400 seconds (dollars) to use each day. Time spent on long-term goals and life-building relations will count more in life. The time lost each night in your account is renewed with a current balance of seconds and minutes to be used again. Consequently, living each day with its sense of promise and possibilities, demands each hour to be lived to the fullest, being “in the present.”

Make space to truly cherish and live – at any particular moment – this week! Celebrate your family, your Mom and those people who you have chosen into your circle of family and loved ones. That is time well spent!

Yesterday is history
Tomorrow is mystery
Today is a gift
That is why it’s called the present!!

-Bob

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IS “MORE” ALWAYS BETTER?

Sweep Out ClutterIs “more” always better?
When does enough become too much?

We all want MORE! Are you working just to get by or do your work/life goals complement each other? The epitome of the American Dream is that people work hard, become more successful, earn thousands of dollars, and die with a plethora of material possessions that showcase their wealth.

But here’s a thought – Can your possessions consume you?

Do you look forward to going to work each day? Or do you dread your work environment? Maybe you would rather be doing something else. What is it and why not take steps to get there?

Making a proactive decision to get more out of life can include using what we have, being intentional when making new purchases, recycling our extras, and knowing that each material “thing” in our life has a purpose.

Look around and notice all the things you have around you. Do you need three identical vases? When was the last time you used any of that “important stuff” you have in your storage unit? Would you be significantly happier with more?

Having more material things brings additional responsibilities, cleaning, maintenance, insurance costs and clutter to daily living. Did you know that the average American home has 300,000 items in it? In fact, the Self Storage Association reports that Americans spend $24 billion each year to store their stuff in 2.3 billion square feet of these units.

Do you need ten credit cards? Maybe two would work, one card you pay off each month and another card with a low-interest rate, for when you need to carry a balance.

Does your stomach get in knots when the credit card bill lands on your kitchen counter? Using cash or paring down on your credit purchases could ease your money nerve.

Streamlining your life doesn’t mean scarcity. It is a lifestyle choice to de-clutter your life. Placing the emphasis on more meaningful work, family, flexibility of time, experiences and building relationships instead of material possessions can enhance the quality of each day. Make time in your life for people, not things and reap the benefits!

Keep a daily log of what you do each day. If television or electronic devices eat up a significant portion of your time, you may choose to reallocate TV time to go for a walk or spend time with your family.

Can less be more? Indeed, it can. Choose what is most vital to creating the life you desire. Write out your goals and a budget; a plan that tells your money where to go instead of you just wondering where it went. By examining what is essential, and using intentional goals, you can simplify your finances and your life.

Get more out of life!

Bob

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SPRING CLEANING YOUR FINANCES

Spring Clean 4x4 300 dpiWhat are you waiting for? It’s Time to Spring Clean your Finances! For most people, the idea of climbing Mount Everest is scary. The thought of walking along a narrow trail with a three-thousand-foot cliff at its edge may leave you frozen in your tracks. In a similar scenario, some people are terrified of facing their budgets, their level of spending and how they will live once they have retired.

Most people spend their lives confronting financial fear by ignoring it.

Join me for a quick and easy “Spring Cleaning your Finances challenge! For the next two weeks, I will be sharing easy tips for you to clean out what you don’t need and give you some tools to make the most of the income you have! Clear out the dust, drop that debt and take advantage of #TheMoneyNerve tips to “Spring Clean Your Finances!”

Please like and share the Money Nerve posts and feel free to share some of your favorite tips for saving money. Tag @themoneynerve and use the hashtags #SpringClean #TheMoneyNerve when sharing or posting. On Monday, May 2, one winner will be randomly selected from these social media posts to win a complimentary 30-minute financial session with me via Skype.

Financial fear can make you stop in your tracks. Not taking a look at your account balances, not making any decisions, ignoring your family, and not knowing when to take good advice are a few examples of how people start to freeze up. Now that tax time has ended, it is the perfect opportunity to review, refine and move forward financially. It is smart to re-organize your life: the house, the garage, the medicine cabinet, and your finances on an annual basis. Fine-tuning your goals will help to make the next year easier and more prosperous!

Let’s go!

Bob