The Money Nerve team has scoured the Internet looking for the top financial tools for a proactive life. There are so many choices that it can be hard to select what might work best for you. Please take a look at these successful tools that have been utilized by many people for years and continue to get kudos! We have many more links on the “Tools Page.” Our recommendations are for your use – we do not receive any compensation for presenting these options. My vision is for YOU to manage your money more effectively.
For some of us, the problem with money stems from old habits or unclear emotional reactions. Before you make a change, learn what motivates you and get guidance for more successful decisions and “Getting Unstuck!” For a one-time fee of $49.99, you’ll receive interactive exercises, short and powerful videos, worksheets and more. Try this Virtual Coach app.
Compare the Top Tools
PC Magazine has evaluated several personal finance tools and summarizes the best of 2018 for several categories. You can see what features each app offers as well as see which apps are compatible with your phone. Some of them are free – all of them are helpful. We all need different options for making the best decision. Check out the article.
Mint, A Big-Picture App
Mint was one of the first free, web-based personal finance tools to help you track spending patterns, investments and more. For quick and easy results, enter all of your financial accounts to give you a complete picture of your financial health. At last, your upcoming bills and available balance information are together in one place.
See bills and money in one place.
Get alerts about upcoming bills.
Say goodbye to late fees. With Mint
This personal finance powerhouse continues to lead the way as an excellent tool for managing both small businesses and personal finances. Starter editions begin at $39.99. From budgeting to planning for the future, this software makes managing your money a snap – and helps move you toward that next step in your life. Quicken allows you to create a financial plan, input more than 11,000 online billers, have monthly reminder emails sent to you, and superior phone support when you need help.
Powerful App for Managing Finances
Clarity Money helps you take control of your finances by canceling wasteful accounts, lowering your bills, getting you better deals, and managing your financial life — all in one place. In fact, Clarity developed a robust and secure tool that will break down your income, spending and be saving for you – so you don’t have to.
This app takes it one step further by offering insights into your finances that you can use. In the process, giving you that wonderful feeling of control again.
A New Concept for Investing in Your Future
And last, this app allows people to begin micro-investing to build their saving. Invest the way you want to — rounding up with small change, recurring deposits or a lump sum — and taking advantage of automated portfolio management. Simple, reasonable fees with no minimums, no commissions, and no fees for adding or withdrawing funds!
I hope you create your proactive life with one of these financial tools; Be intentional and build YOUR financial freedom!
Money and happiness can co-exist. And, while financial security may seem like it’s unattainable, you may simply be in need of a little perspective. The cure for being financially overwhelmed is mindful persistence and knowledge.
If you have particular financial issues that overwhelm you, surround yourself with books on the subject or go online to reputable sites like The Money Nerve to find tools and resources. If you are more inclined to face-to-face discussion, try to find people who are strong in your area of weakness.
The way to a savings account is one step at a time. Be mindful and intentional with the small steps you take; these will create great change in your life. Put away ten dollars per paycheck knowing that, over time, that will add up to a large sum. In that way, you can create a new habit. Habits practiced on a daily basis create structure and lead you to take different actions. Intentional choices with your money, your time and your energy create a fuller, well rounded lifestyle.
Financial stability may not happen overnight. By setting goals and starting the journey, you will figure out that you are only a short distance away from relief. Just put one foot in front of the other and get moving.
Turn your overwhelming feelings around:
Know where you are and where you are going.
Learn the financial terrain.
Can I have money and happiness?
Many studies have analyzed the connection between wealth and happiness. After reviewing several major studies, Melanie Greenberg (in a recent article in The Mindful Self-Express) comes to the conclusion that money is only one ingredient in our happiness quotient. She notes: Money does not make as much difference as we think. When researchers asked people earning $25,000 how much happier they would be if they earned $55,000, most people said their happiness would more than double. However, when actual happiness scores were compared, those earning $55,000 were only about 10 percent happier. So, money does make you happier, but much less than we often fantasize about.
To move us away from the materialistic aspects of wealth, perhaps we should focus our attention on what we do with that wealth –– however much it is. Wealth can bring more freedom to make choices and to determine how we want to use our time. Money and happiness can be achieved. By gaining perspective and finding joy in life beyond our finances; maybe helping others financially or spending quality time with family on a vacation –– we learn to savor how we employ our money for ourselves and others.
Make savoring life’s little pleasures your goal. Create plans for how to inject more zest into each day, and you will significantly increase your happiness and well-being — and, in many cases, your own wealth. And if your riches aren’t growing, then reveling in, and relishing each day is still a great way to truly appreciate what you do have.
The Money Nerve is proud to introduce the BizKid$ vision as shared by Jeannine Glista. This popular show explores “successful money management” at a young age. Jeannine is the Co-Creator and Executive Producer of BizKid$, a national public TV series that teaches kids about money and business.
Many adults feel that everyone else has the secret to managing money and think they are the only ones who missed the boat! But, in fact, many adults are searching for the right recipe to achieve financial success. Jeannine’s popular TV show and the recently published book, How To Turn $100 into $1 Million provides insight, humor and real-world financial info for budding middle school entrepreneurs. The book shares personal stories and inspirational tips how to start a business, grow that one-person company, run that business, and how to manage their money.
Encouraging Students to Manage Money
I had the pleasure of speaking with Jeannine, and she is passionate about encouraging Students/children to think about money, finding and keeping their first job, managing money, and learning to balance bills and spending habits.
Jeannine says, “Today’s students have an immense amount of peer pressure to fit in with their friends while being bombarded by advertising that the ultimate goal in life is to consume the latest fad and get “more stuff.”
Pay Yourself First
She adds, “One of the most important concepts you can teach kids is to pay themselves first. No matter where the money comes from, instruct kids to save a certain percentage or dollar amount first and then, they can spend their money. These paychecks can also be divided between saving, giving and spending.”
One of the major principles of this book, How To Turn $100 into $1 Millionexplores how money can open up more options in life, and that life is not about acquiring materials things. The end goal is to create a stable lifestyle. And that perspective applies to students at age 14 just as readily as it does to working adults!
Making Smart Choices
One smart tool Jeannine recommends for many parents is the app GREEN LIGHT. Parents load money via the app to a custom debit card for their children to use. It is a practical vehicle for making purchases while giving kids a safe place to practice saving & spending their money. They will make mistakes, and they will run out of money from time to time – Hold your ground! Let your children learn the hard lessons. It’s okay. Everyone makes mistakes, and they can learn on a small scale how to manage their money, even when they don’t have enough money to buy an ice cream cone in social situations.
Another tool for creating a positive mindset toward financial habits is to help children internalize their goals. Making each penny count toward something special teaches children to set goals and learn that small persistent steps CAN let them what they want.
And, last, encourage your children to explore gratitude and become more aware of the goodness of life. It can be a game-changer!
About Jeannine Glista
Jeannine is an independent media producer with a special focus on social innovation projects. She’s best known as Co-Creator and Executive Producer of Biz Kid$, a national public TV series that teaches kids about money and business. Biz Kid$ is the recipient of two Daytime Emmy Awards (13 times nominated), an Environmental Media Award, a Silver Telly Award, two Parents’ Choice Awards, and more. Her latest project, The Urban Homesteader, aims to expand urban sustainability by showing how to turn a small urban space into a modern homestead. Jeannine brings over 20 years of production and project management experience in the fields of educational broadcasting, marketing and communications.
Jeannine’s current focus is business development and product extensions including publications, commercial distribution and licensing opportunities. The book, $100 to $1,000,000: Earn! Save! Invest!is a comprehensive guide for kids to the basics of earning, saving, spending, and investing money.
Part of planning a sound investment plan is diversifying your money from simple stocks and bonds. Let’s look at how to diversify your money with my three favorite investments.
It’s nearly a decade from the last big crash in stocks and people are beginning to wonder if the stock market will just keep going up forever. It’s a nice thought but that always seems to be about the time that the market makes fools of us all.
That long-term focus on investing will help you look beyond stock prices whether they’re rising or falling and reach your retirement goals. A slow and steady approach to personal finance and investing often leads to financial freedom.
There’s another important idea in investing though, one that will protect your money when stocks do tumble. It will also help you reach your long-term goals, but this idea will make it easier to put up with the short-term hiccups in the market.
It’s the idea of diversification and it’s one of the most critical pieces in any investing plan.
What is Diversification?
Diversification is the idea that investing in different assets will help smooth the ups-and-downs in your overall wealth, especially when stocks tumble. If stocks are 100% of your investments, then a stock crash can wipe out much of your hard-earned money.
Many investors try to balance out their stocks with some investments in bonds, which are loans to companies, but there’s a real problem here for most investors.
Bonds don’t make much money!
Most bonds earn less than 5% a year and that’s before inflation takes a 2% chunk out of the return. That’s not bad and I’m not saying to avoid bond investing but many investors don’t have the patience to stick some of their money in bonds and wait for them to protect their portfolio.
They end up getting tired of that lower return on a piece of their portfolio, especially while stocks are producing double-digit returns each year. They sell their bonds and stick it all back in stocks…then get hit with a market crash.
How Do I Diversify My Investments?
Even if you had the patience to keep some of your money in bonds, there is a better way to diversify your money(ie. your investment portfolio).
Looking for other assets, other broad types of investments, will do several things for your portfolio:
• Help you earn a higher return than bonds but not have all your money in volatile stocks
• Reduce the amount of money you need in bonds to protect your portfolio from a crash.
• Produce a higher level of cash flow to pay expenses when you start spending down your investments
Now that you have an idea of how diversification can help create wealth and keep you from freaking out over the next stock market crash, here are my three favorite investments to diversify your portfolio.
Real Estate is the Great Wealth Creator to Diversify your Money
Few assets have created as much wealth as real estate. Like the man said, “It’s the only thing they’re not making anymore.”
If you’ve only got few thousand dollars to invest, buying property is out of the question but there are other alternatives.
• Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) are real estate funds that trade like stocks. These are special companies created to hold commercial real estate. They get a special tax break for paying out most of their income to investors which means these investments pay out massive dividends.
• Real Estate Crowdfunding is a newer way to invest in real estate. Developers offer their projects on crowdfunding websites for investors. You can invest as little as $1,000 in a debt or equity investment in each property.
Peer to Peer Lending isn’t Just for Borrowers
I learned about peer-to-peer loan investing from my cousin several years ago. Platforms like Lending Club allow borrowers to apply for personal loans for up to $35,000 and investors can invest as little as $25 in loans that meet their criteria.
Actually, the idea of investing in loans is nothing new. Banks traditionally package and sell their loans to investment firms which then sell the packages to anyone that needs consistent cash flow. That means pension funds, insurance companies and college endowment funds are some of the biggest investors…and that you probably already have money invested in loans and may not know it.
Returns on Lending Club generally range from 5% to 14% depending on the types of loans in which you invest. I invest relatively conservatively in borrowers with a lower risk of defaulting and have earned a return close to 10% for several years.
The best part about Lending Club is that you can automate your investments to tell the website to invest your money in any loans that meet certain criteria. Since you receive money monthly from your loans, in principal and interest, it’s important to reinvest this money quickly to keep earning a return.
It’s true that the largest U.S. companies sell products overseas and that can help immunize your portfolio from trouble here at home but that doesn’t quite cut it. Investing directly in foreign stocks can help you diversify even further by investing in companies with most of their business outside the United States.
Many foreign stocks trade on the U.S. exchanges as American Depository Receipts (ADRs) so you can buy them just as you do shares of a U.S. company. You can also buy funds that hold shares in hundreds of foreign companies like the Vanguard FTSE Developed Markets ETF (NYSE: VEA).
These aren’t the only alternative investments that will help you diversify your money but they’re three of my favorite. All three pay consistent cash flow that is regularly well above that of stocks. Putting it all together in a portfolio with stocks and bonds will smooth out any stock market troubles while still providing a return you can count on.
Joseph Hogue worked as an equity analyst and an economist before realizing being rich is no substitute for being happy. He now runs five websites in the personal finance and crowdfunding niche, makes more money than he ever did at a 9-to-5 job and loves building his work from home business. He holds the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation and has appeared on CNBC and Bloomberg. To learn more, visit: https://mystockmarketbasics.com
“Emotions Around Money” – how does your money get sidetracked by your emotions? Some people say they don’t have any emotions surrounding money. And then they start talking about money and the floodgates open. I developed the Money Nerve concept by working as an accountant, financial advisor, and business consultant for over twenty-five years. I am thankful to the many people and businesses that I’ve helped who have, in turn, helped me.
I have spent decades sitting across from my clients—most of the time feeling more like a therapist than an accountant. I realize now that many people have money issues because emotions and money are tied together hand-in-hand, Many think they are supposed to know how to handle finances intuitively and can’t –but they are ashamed to ask for help. I see business owners, other CPAs, lawyers, therapists, doctors, and others in major financial crises. I am no longer surprised when clients come in, start talking, become emotional and break down crying. There is a lot of fear and shame surrounding “emotions and money.”
Define Your Emotions aka your “Money Nerve”
It’s time to start admitting, without shame or embarrassment, that we weren’t taught how to handle money (or that we don’t know all the answers). We need to bring our money issues out in the open and start changing our belief system to set ourselves up for success. What pinches your Money Nerve? If you have more month than money, it is time to explore a new pathway toward financial freedom.
Many people are in denial because they don’t want to deal with their financial situation. I had a conversation with a client that went something like this:
Client: I was more upset about coming to see you today than I was about finding out whether or not I had terminal cancer yesterday.
Me: Your priorities are messed up. It’s just money.
Client: I didn’t want to come to see you. My finances are a mess! I almost canceled. Now I’m glad I’m here—you always make me feel better. I know you’re still going to help me and get my mess all straightened out. I’m not sure why I was afraid.
Me: This is only about money. Do you hear what you’re saying?
Client: I know, I know.
Illusion of Money or Vision for the Future
Huge companies like Fannie May, Freddie Mac, or Lehman Brothers built their empires on the illusion of wealth. When the time came to pay up, however, their house of cards came tumbling down. It should come as no surprise that many individuals who make up these companies have the same problems. Many people’s lives are also a house of cards, an illusion.
If major corporations are having problems, you shouldn’t be embarrassed about your personal financial problems. It’s epidemic! FYI, there is no 700-billion-dollar bailout for you. You have to help yourself. Start today by creating your vision for the future. Define Your Money Nerve.
Have you ever analyzed that famous quote to see how it affects your life? Many people use “time is money” when talking about making more money. Indeed, Benjamin Franklin’s words ring true today. If you don’t maximize your time or money, you have essentially thrown both away and taken a loss.
Finding a Balance in Life
Think about a seesaw balancing your time and money. How do you approach “time and money” to create optimal benefits for you and your loved ones? Applying this integrated view may spark new ideas. Let’s take another look at this simple phrase and unpack some new options.
Grab a notepad and jot down your schedule for the next few days or the upcoming week. Take a moment to think about the time you have each day, the finances you have available, and determine if these two entities are moving you forward efficiently.
Articulate the dreams you hold and prioritize these goals so that you can start using your time and money to create a new life pattern. Setting key goals to achieve benefits your life as you acquire a fresh attitude, develop new habits and initiate change in your daily life.
Make Intentional Choices with Money and Time
Where do you want to be in one year? Five years? Do you dream of being free of credit card debt? Have you been hoarding travel brochures because you are longing to travel the world? Now is an excellent time to determine retirement goals too! Having goals generates more deliberate choices and boosts your potential for success.
Being intentional. You can find the time to get a second job or to invest in professional development/education. Honing your skills and remaining valuable is essential in today’s ever-changing environment. Determine where to adjust your work schedule to make time for family activities or the obligations of parenthood. Proactively set aside money today for a better life tomorrow. This process is all about finding the balance and value that makes YOUR life meaningful. And the most empowering part of this exercise is that You choose and You implement your life plan – it is your choice!
Goals to Change Your Life
Write down your dreams, project a time frame and you have set a new goal. Consciously choose what you value most in your life. Quiet all the negative voices or thoughts in your head. Use this outline to move forward and make a change because the only obstacle between you and your goal is time. Life is imperfect; you will make changes or readjust your forecast. That’s okay – life happens!
“There are only two days in the year that nothing can be done. One is called yesterday, and the other is called tomorrow, so TODAY is the right time to love, believe and mostly live.” ~ Dalai Lama
Being intentional and being in the moment are beneficial tools for creating value and living an abundant life. Be present this week, strive to maximize the time is money attitude, and live fully!
I have had so many questions regarding the new tax law from my clients this year. People want to know how it will affect them and what action they should take. This in-depth article from MarketWatch gives you some advice for reviewing how the new tax law will impact your finances
About 90% of wage earners saw an increase in their paycheck this month now that the 2018 federal tax withholding tables are out.
The new tax law tables determine how much tax employers take out — or withhold — from an employee’s paycheck and the 2018 tables reflect the updated tax rates under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, as well as other changes that affect individuals, including a repealed personal exemption and increase in the standard deduction. Under the new law, there are still seven tax brackets, but six of them are lower.
Deciding How Much Money to Withhold
Workers choose how much money they want their employer to withhold from their paychecks on a Form W-4, usually claiming either 1 or 0 allowances. The higher the number of allowances, the less money is withheld, which means a larger paycheck. But when people choose fewer allowances (and have more money withheld), they’ll see the money with the new tax law when they file their returns the following year and get a refund.
The new tax law lowered federal tax brackets, hence the extra money in paychecks now. The changes are automatic, and if people want to adjust their withholdings, they will have to go to their employer and submit a new Form W-4 to do so.
Keep or Invest the Extra Money
This is the eternal question and the answer is, “it depends.” Some might find the extra cash will help them reach financial goals or pay off debts, but others say workers might want to adjust their withholdings so they don’t get a pay increase right away.
Why? The money might not be put to good use or, in certain cases, employees may end up having to pay more income tax next year, tax experts said. “If they’re afraid they’re going to spend it and not save it, then they should increase withholdings,” said Michael Berry, head of the advanced planning team for Voya Financial.
About 62% of taxpayers expect to receive a refund this year, according to a Credit Karma Tax survey, and half of those people already know what they’ll do with it. Only 11% intend to use the refund for a vacation or major event, and 6% said they’ll use it to buy themselves something. Another 20% said they plan to save it for a rainy day, 18% said they’ll use it to pay off credit card debt, 16% said it will go toward paying off other debts, 10% are saving for a major purchase, like a home or car, and others mentioned student loans, medical debts or helping family members.
The Tax Act creates the following chart. The income levels will rise each year with inflation. But they will rise more slowly than in the past because the Act uses the chained consumer price index. Over time, that will move more people into higher tax brackets. This graph along with a detailed list of the tax changes is provided by The Balance.
Trump’s tax plan doubles the standard deduction. A single filer’s deduction increases from $6,350 to $12,000, while the deduction for Married and Joint Filers increases from $12,700 to $24,000. It reverts back to the current level in 2026. It eliminates personal exemptions and most itemized deductions but keeps deductions for charitable contributions, retirement savings, and student loan interest.
Pull those February pay stubs and see what changes have happened! Use this opportunity to start a savings account and invest in your future!
Budget:an estimate of income and expenditure for a set period of time. Or “keeping within the household budget.” Many people cringe when they hear the word budget, and instantly assume it is a gloomy, painful process of giving up all the joy in their lives!
Since the word budget has such a bad rap, let’s make a change and call it “proactive money management” or a forecast. A forecast is a general vision of what’s to come; it allows us to make decisions for the next few days. We all know that the weatherman isn’t always exactly right, often changing the outlook as the clouds roll in faster or the sun bumps up the temperature.
When you forecast how you want to spend and save your money, you are pushing out your projection for the next week, month, 1-year plan and beyond. Just like a weather forecaster evaluates new information to share with viewers, you may have to adjust your financial timetable as “life” happens.
Be Honest and Accurate
To accurately predict the weather, you must set the destination. Knowing the temperature in Seattle has no meaning if you live in Miami. With your finances, you need to know where you are; how much you bring home and what your monthly expenses are. Creating an estimate of how you want to direct or point your extra money into different funnels establishes a roadmap for the plans or goals you set for the future.
If you are like 90% of Americans, you tend to inflate your salary and round down your bills. Try to flip that assessment around. By underestimating your take-home pay and then basing your monthly bills at the highest projected amount, you have now given yourself a cushion of cash reserves. That’s refreshing!
Inflow and Outflow
A budget doesn’t always mean cutting costs; it is merely a plan for how your money will flow into your life and then dispersed to others for the benefits you want. Most people apply their money to three main priorities: food, housing, and transportation. These are essential components for a higher quality of life, and once you have these taken care of, you can begin to set aside money for other important goals or dreams.
Write down every expense, good or bad. Don’t pretend that you always spend money wisely. We all have habits and plenty of opportunities to be wasteful with our dollars.
One of my colleagues Kelli, (aka the Freebie Finding Mom) has developed a handy budget sheet to track your cash easily. Take a moment to download this helpful resource HERE.
If you discover there is not enough money for the three essentials of housing, food and transportation, then you must explore your options to find a reasonable balance. You could cut down on one of these components, (smaller apartment or using coupons for groceries) or you could ask for a raise, look for another job or add a second job on the weekends. Creating a forecast (or budget) of what bills need to be paid each month, along with one time expenses that come up each year –– gives you a good guesstimate of where your cash flows in and out. A lot of people arrange to get monthly insurance bills instead of one massive bill annually, and this makes it easier to stay on track and “In-Budget.”
Work your desires into your budget. Save for special events and big purchases. Once you have identified where your money comes in and how you want to spend it, you have the power to change your plans. You have opened a new door of opportunity with intentional, proactive choices. The benefits of forecasting your money flow include less financial stress, a new sense of understanding of what’s important and the freedom to choose how you spend your money!
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 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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
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.
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.