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Are you desperate to own a home of your own?
20% down on a home myth The 20% Down Myth

Are you desperate to own a home of your own?

If that’s your dream, you are likely saving up, dollar by hard-earned dollar, until you have that magic number: 20% of your dream home’s total value. That’s what all the experts say, right?

For the average American home, 20% amounts to a pretty big number. Throw in closing costs and you’ve got a small fortune to raise – and years to go until you reach your goal.

It’s great that you’re putting money away toward what will likely be the largest purchase of your life, but there’s one huge mistake in your calculations: You don’t need to put down 20%.

Yes, you read right. The 20% myth is an unfortunate leftover from the era after the housing crisis, when out of necessity, access to credit tightened up. Thankfully, times have changed, and since FHA loans were introduced more than 80 years ago, mortgages have not required a 20% down payment.

While it’s true that a higher down payment means you’ll have a smaller monthly mortgage payment, there are lots of reasons why this isn’t always the best road to homeownership.

Let’s explore loan options that don’t require 20% down and take a deeper look at the pros and cons of making a smaller down payment.

Loan options

If you’d like to go the route of government-backed loans, these are your options:

  1. FHA mortgage: This loan is aimed at helping first-time home buyers and requires as little as 3.5% down. If that number is still too high, the down payment can be sourced from a financial gift or via a Down Payment Assistance program.
  2. VA mortgage: VA mortgages are the most forgiving, but they are strictly for current and former military members. They require zero down, don’t require mortgage insurance and they allow for all closing costs to come from a seller concession or gift funds.
  3. USDA home loan: These loans, backed by the United States Department of Agriculture, also require zero down, but eligibility is location-based. Qualifying homes need not be situated on farmlands, but they must be in sparsely populated areas. USDA loans are available in all 50 states and are offered by most lenders.

If you’d rather take out a conventional loan, though, you can choose from the following loan types:

  1. 3% down mortgage: Many lenders will now grant mortgages with borrowers putting as little as 3% down. Some lenders, like Freddie Mac, even offer reduced mortgage insurance on these loans, with no income limits and no first-time buyer requirement.
  2. 5% down mortgage: Lots of lenders allow you to put down just 5% of a home’s value. However, most insist that the home be the buyer’s primary residence and that the buyer has a FICO score of 680 or higher.
  3. 10% down mortgage: Most lenders will allow you to take out a conventional loan with 10% down, even with a less-than-ideal credit score.

Bear in mind that each of these loans require income eligibility. Additionally, putting less than 20% down usually means paying for PMI, or private mortgage insurance. However, if you view your home as an asset, paying your PMI is like paying toward an investment. In fact, according to TheMortgageReports.com, some homeowners have spent $8,100 in PMI over the course of a decade, and their home’s value has increased by $43,000. That’s a huge return on investment!

Why make a smaller payment?

If you’re thinking of waiting and saving until you have 20% to put down on a home, consider this: A RealtyTrac study found that, on average, it would take a homebuyer nearly 13 years to save for a 20% down payment. In all that time, you could be building your equity – and home prices may rise. Rates likely will as well.

Other benefits to putting down less than 20% include the following:

  • Conserve cash: You’ll have more money available to invest and save.
  • Pay off debt: Many lenders recommend using available cash to pay down credit card debt before purchasing a home. Credit card debt usually has a higher interest rate than mortgage debt – and it won’t net you a tax deduction.
  • Improve your credit score: Once you’ve paid off debt, expect to see your score spike. You’ll land a better mortgage rate this way, especially if your score tops 730.
  • Remodel: Few homes are in perfect condition as offered. You’ll likely want to make some changes to your new home before you move in. Having some cash on hand will allow you to do that.
  • Build an emergency fund: As a homeowner, having a well-stocked emergency fund is crucial. From here on, you’ll be the one paying to fix any plumbing issues or leaky roofs.

Cons of smaller down payments

In all fairness, there are some drawbacks of making a smaller down payment.

  • Mortgage insurance: A PMI payment is an extra monthly expense piled on top of your mortgage and property tax. As mentioned above, though, PMI can be a good investment.
  • Potentially higher mortgage rates: If you’re taking out a conventional loan and making a smaller down payment, you can expect to have a higher mortgage rate. However, if you’re taking out a government-backed loan, you’re guaranteed a lower mortgage rate despite a less-than-robust down payment.
  • Less equity: You’ll have less equity in your home with a smaller down payment. Of course, unless you’re planning to sell in the next few years, this shouldn’t have any tangible effect on your homeownership.

Of course this doesn’t mean you should buy a home no matter how much – or how little – you’ve got in your savings account. Before making this decision, be sure you can really afford to own a home. Ideally, your total monthly housing costs should amount to less than 28% of your monthly gross income.

Ready to buy your dream home? We’d love to help you out! Call, click or stop by Advancial today to learn about our fantastic mortgage rates. We’ll walk you through all the way to the closing!

It may seem like yesterday when you were getting your son or daughter off to preschool. And now you’re preparing him or her for college!
ready for college finances Ready, set, go...to college

It may seem like yesterday when you were getting your son or daughter off to preschool. And now you’re preparing him or her for college!

The process of a child leaving home is a major milestone and is complex because of the emotions it generates. The reality, though, is that there are some very concrete things that need to be done to make this a smooth transition.

Medical Preparation

Schedule any necessary doctors’ appointments. A doctor may need to fill out college medical forms and can also write prescriptions for regular medications. This is an opportune time to make sure immunizations are current.

If your child has been seeing a mental health professional, make an appointment there, too. You may want to ask for a letter describing your child’s issues in case you need it for support services. Also, decide if your child needs ongoing support from this professional or if you want to arrange for a new therapist at school.

Your child needs easy access to medical insurance information. Will he or she use your private insurance? What about college health services? Make it easy for your child to get help if he or she gets sick.

High School Issues

Have your child check with the high school to make sure they’ve sent the latest high school transcript to the college. For your records, and for future college needs, request all high school records, including testing results.

Pave the Way for Success

If it’s appropriate for your child’s needs, make an appointment with the college’s disability services office. Learn about the services they offer and determine the documentation your child needs to apply for services. Most colleges require students to register or apply; the services are not automatically available. It is best to put this process in place before classes start.

Ease the Transition

It’s a good idea to help your child to think ahead about the coming year. Spend some time looking at the course catalog with her and discuss classes of interest. Help her select the courses that are best for her.

Pack It Up

Work with your child to make a list of things to pack. It will help you if you check off each item as you buy and pack it. Labeling each item may help prevent loss. Keep in mind, though, as Dr. Ruth Peters says, “Keep in mind that stuff gets stolen at school. I don’t care if it is an Ivy League school or a tiny institution – if the item isn’t tied down or locked up consider it at risk.”

Techie Stuff

Make sure your child’s technology is up-to-date. Does he or she need a new computer? An upgrade? It will be easier for you to take care of this at home.

Be at One with the Portal

Pick a quiet time and sit with your child at the computer to look at the college’s online portal. You should both be familiar with it and with the information that is available. Make sure you have the login information for your child’s account.

Where in the World Is the Library?

Look at the campus map to help your child identify important locations: dorm, tutoring center, administration offices and the library.

Finances

If your child does not have one yet, you may want to open an account that includes a debit card. Clarify how much money will be available. If you give your child a credit card, clarify when it is appropriate to use it. Define what constitutes an emergency. Advancial offers Ultimate Checking, the Visa Rewards Plus credit card and student loans to help get them off to the right start!

Thinking Ahead

You may be feeling a little traumatized by the prospect of your child leaving home, but don’t underestimate your child’s concern-even if he doesn’t express it. Talk about how you will keep in touch. Are you comfortable with email only? Do you want a phone call or video call once a week? It helps to clarify this before the big day.

Discuss your expectations. Even though you won’t be there physically, your child needs to hear what you expect. Talk about ways to combat stress at school and who to contact if he needs help.

The kitchen is the heart of the home. It’s where we spend many hours whipping up delectable dishes to please every palate and food plan.
bring dream kitchen to life Four Ways to Bring Your Dream Kitchen to Life

The kitchen is the heart of the home. It’s where we spend many hours whipping up delectable dishes to please every palate and food plan. It’s where we catch a quick morning chat over coffee and linger over dinners together in the early evening.

The kitchen is where it’s at.

It’s also the area of the home that sees the heaviest usage. All that food prep – and all that eating! – has your countertops, table, floors and appliances pulling full-time duty for hours each week. It is these reasons, beauty and practicality, that make kitchen renovations incredibly popular among homeowners. Give your kitchen a makeover, and you’ll almost feel like you’ve got a brand-new home.

Wondering how to make that happen? We’ve got you covered! Whether you’ve still got an avocado-green fridge, circa 1978, or your kitchen looks like it sprang out of a magazine and just needs a quick touch-up, we’ll show you how to give it a facelift on a budget.

Here’s 4 ways to bring your dream kitchen to life.

1.) Know your budget

Before picking out your new countertops and appliances, sit down and crunch some numbers. You’ll have to scrimp and save a while, dip into existing savings or take out a loan to cover the costs of your renovations. A complete kitchen remodel can run you as much as $40,000, but there’s lots you can do on a smaller budget. When you’ve figured out how much you can spend, here’s what you’re looking at:

  • With $5,000, you can give your kitchen a superficial touch-up that can pack a big punch. You’ll be able to spring for a fresh coat of paint, replace the faucets, pick up a new light fixture, reupholster or change the fabric on your chairs and windows and spruce up the area with some modern accessories.     
  • With $15,000, you can do all that plus a whole lot more. You’ll be able to buy a new appliance or two, replace your countertops and even install new and budget-friendly cabinets.

If you’re planning on spending more, you might be able to re-do your entire kitchen.

When determining how much to spend, though, remember that kitchen upgrades can pay for themselves. Experts say that recently remodeled kitchens usually return between 80 and 105 percent of their cost when a home is sold.

And until you decide to sell, you’ll be the one enjoying your updated kitchen!

2.) Choose your cabinets

Cabinets can monopolize the visual wall space in a kitchen, making them a first choice for an upgrade. Here’s what you need to know about your cabinet options:

  • Cabinets with wood or plywood panels and solid wood frames are sturdy, budget-friendly, and fashionable.
  • Porcelain-tile cabinets are a fantastic new option that look almost exactly like wood for half the price.
  • Laminate is your cheapest option for cabinets. It’s durable, easy to clean and comes in a variety of colors and patterns.
  • Refinish the outside of your cabinets instead of replacing them for a new look that doesn’t bust your budget.
  • Install wall-mounted shelves to add storage space to your kitchen without splurging on new cabinets.

3.) Make a splash

Don’t forget your sink when upgrading your kitchen. Replacing the faucets, bowl or hardware can modernize your kitchen without costing much.

When changing your faucets, make sure you know the ins and outs of your options. Want to go with the flow? Brushed nickel is the most popular choice for faucets, largely due to its durability. If you hate scrubbing those fingerprints and water spots, you’ll be happy to hear that nickel conveniently hides dirt and grime.

Short on cash? The least expensive faucet finish is chrome. For a long-lasting material that won’t cost a pretty penny, go with brass instead.

If you’re looking to change your sink’s bowl as well, there are three main styles to consider:

  • Farmhouse bowls are super-large and deep and are the perfect choice for people with numerous dishes to wash on a daily basis. On the flip side, their large size means they might require a customized base cabinet for installation.
  • Top-mount bowls have a “drop-in” rim that keeps the sink in place on the countertop. This makes installation simple, but creates a prime place for dirt and grime to accumulate.
  • Undermount sinks are trendy and look sleek, but can take double the time and work to be installed.

4.) Choose your countertops

This is where you chop, dice, measure and mix your ingredients. Your counters need to be durable and easy to clean – and help finish off your kitchen’s upgrade. The trending countertop choices are granite, quartz and stone. These materials are beautiful, easy to maintain and can last for years and years.

If these options are not in your budget, consider engineered stone instead. It will give you a similar look for a cheaper price. For something more budget-friendly, you might want to go with ceramic tile. It’s durable, comes in almost any imaginable color and is a fraction of the price of stone.

Another great option that is just as cheap is laminate. It’s easy to install and also comes in a large variety of patterns and colors. Lastly, consider going with solid wood. You can have it sanded and treated to give it an extra long life, and it will give your kitchen a warm, hearty finish.

Longing for an upgrade and short on savings or cashflow? You can still have your dream kitchen. Call, click, or stop by Advancial today to learn about our Personal LoansHome Equity Loans and Home Equity Lines of Credit.

We’ll help turn your dream into reality!

If you've recently been rejected from a credit application of any kind, you may be looking at a poor credit score for any number of reasons. You might have been late with your credit card…
dos and donts of credit repair Dos and Don'ts of Credit Repair

If you've recently been rejected from a credit application of any kind, you may be looking at a poor credit score for any number of reasons. You might have been late with your credit card payments, have an outstanding judgment against you or have even been frauded or victimized by identity theft.

Whatever the cause of the fall in your score, you're probably looking for ways to get it back on track. Tread carefully! There are lots of dishonest opportunists looking to make a quick buck off your pressing need. Don't become the next victim of a credit repair scam. In fact, there's nothing a credit repair company can do for you that you can't do yourself.

This probably has you wondering how to untangle the legitimate steps you should be taking now from the pointless and costly actions. Look no further! Our handy guide of credit repair dos and don'ts will help get you on the road to improving your credit score.

Do: Determine your actual credit score

If a recent credit application of yours has been denied, don't take it at face value - find out why it happened. The three major credit reporting agencies - Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion - are each required to provide you with a complimentary copy of your credit report once a year, upon request. To order yours, visit annualcreditreport.com or call 1-877-322-8228.

If you've already requested a report from each of the agencies in the last 12 months, you can still get one free of charge; you are entitled to a free report whenever a company takes adverse action against you, such as denying your application for credit, insurance or employment. To qualify, just request a report within 60 days of receiving notice of the action.

Do: Review your report and dispute any errors

Once you receive your report, review it for inaccuracies. If you spot any fraudulent purchases or erroneous information, you'll need to dispute them in writing. In your letter, identify every item you are disputing and the reasoning behind your claim. Include copies of documents that support your stance and ask that the errors be removed or corrected. It's best to send your letter by certified mail so you can ensure the credit reporting company actually received it if that is necessary. Also, keep a personal copy of your letter and all supporting documents for your own records.

You'll also need to dispute the charge with your actual creditor, taking the same steps you did above.

Don't: Expect any quick fixes

Anxious as you may be to improve your score, know that there is no "quick fix" for creditworthiness. Enhancing your score takes time, lots of hard work and creating and sticking to a realistic debt repayment plan.

If your credit score is poor, you may be bombarded with promotional material from credit repair companies that promise to increase your score by 100 points in less than a month. If you think these claims sound too good to be true, you're absolutely right. There are some legitimate credit repair companies out there, but as mentioned, there's nothing they can do for you that you can't do on your own - and without paying their hefty fee.

Do: Take steps toward fixing your credit

If you've determined that your credit report is accurate, you'll want to take a careful look at the habits that may be leading to your unfavorable score.

Are you timely with your credit card payments? If you're consistently late, consider setting up an automatic bill-pay system so you never forget to make a payment. Are you making headway on your debt? If you're paying your bills on time but your debt is not going anywhere, it's time to rethink your spending habits. Don't shop with credit cards; use only debit or cash. Look for ways to trim your expenses, like couponing wherever possible, planning dinner menus around sale items, and finding cost-free ways to relax instead of blowing money at a restaurant or on retail therapy.

Are your monthly bills unmanageable? If you can't make it through the month and still meet all of your minimum payments, your debt may need an overhaul. Consider debt consolidation, in which your debt is transferred to one low-interest account, or a balance transfer to a card that has an interest-free period. Be aware, though, that lots of open credit is not considered favorable by creditors; close as many accounts as you open - but leave your oldest one open as it shows a longer period of credibility.

Also, no card is interest-free forever. When the introductory period ends, you may be hit with higher than usual interest rates. Alternatively, you can contact your creditors and work out a more reasonable payment plan.

If these options don't sound feasible, try finding ways to increase your income instead, using all extra cash exclusively for paying down your debt.

Don't: Expect to see any changes immediately

Don't fret if you've made strides toward fixing your credit and haven't yet seen an increase in your score. Creditors will only report to the credit reporting agencies on a periodic basis, usually once a month. It may take upward of 30 days or more for your account to be updated and your score to improve.

Financial literacy is no joke for U.S. families. Only Bosnia has a lower percentage of young people who know their financial A,B,C’s, according to global survey of parents conducted by VISA.
Five Tips for Raising a Financial Whiz Kid

Our friends at WalletHub have put together helpful information on how to achieve success in teaching your kids about finance. Odysseas Papadimitriou is CEO of the personal finance websites WalletHub and CardHub.

Financial literacy is no joke for U.S. families. Only Bosnia has a lower percentage of young people who know their financial A,B,C’s, according to global survey of parents conducted by VISA. It certainly doesn’t bode well for the future when the folks who overspent their way into a recession and have continued to rack up debt throughout the recovery have such a low opinion of their own offspring’s preparedness for financial independence.

But while financial literacy is clearly no laughing matter, it is overlooked far too often. Only 17 states require the topic in public high schools. Parents and teachers across the rest of the country often look to one another to fill the void, only to allow the subject to slip through the cracks – if it’s ever on their radar to begin with.

The burden, ultimately, is all of ours to share. We all certainly have a vested interest in the financial know-how of all of our fellow citizens, regardless of age. And while there has been some debate regarding the effectiveness of formal financial literacy programs, a new study from the education company HigherOne found that “students who received financial literacy education in high school scored significantly higher than their peers on financial knowledge questions and are significantly more responsible when it comes to money.”

Attitude and behavior, the study indicates, are just as important as knowledge of specific facts. That’s where well-informed parents can make the biggest impact. With that in mind, here are a few tips for grooming a financial whiz kid.

  1. Make Sure to Get a Nap In: A recent study from the University of Arizona not only found a direct link between napping and early cognitive development, but also showed that children who napped were better able to apply previous lessons learned to new situations than non-nappers. That is a crucial aspect of critical thinking and, by extension, financial literacy. The details may change, but problem solving is timeless.
  2. Make It Fun: The Trojan Horse technique works wonders when it comes to teaching kids. If you make something fun, they’ll engage with it and maybe even learn something along the way. In that vein, the assortment of money-related apps and games that are available can be a great way to introduce responsible financial values to young children.
  3. Lead By Example: Academic research has also shown a direct link between the spending habits of parents and those of their children. That should come as no surprise. Kids are notorious mimics and they study everything their parents do. But it does mean that one of the biggest favors you can do your kids is to be financially disciplined yourself. If you need some pointers, there are plenty of great resources online. You could even enroll in a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) if you’re really gung-ho.
  4. Get Their Hands Dirty: People learn best when they can actually do things themselves. Mistakes are also an inevitable part of the process. As a result, it’s best to give your kids practice when the stakes are still low and while you can still oversee the learning process, offering pointers all the way.

    The best approach is to provide your kids an allowance while requiring that they foot some of their own bills. You can gradually dispense the allowance in larger amounts and at longer intervals, while adding to the list of expenses your kids have to cover as well as introducing an assortment of financial products. We recommend starting with a prepaid card before moving to an all-cash allowance, a checking account and, ultimately, a student credit card.
  5. Focus on Tradeoffs: Responsible money management is all about managing trade-offs: risk vs. reward, more rewards vs. lower fees, higher salary vs. better experience – just to name a few. That means critical thinking and a reasonable outlook are the keys to financial security. So stoke your kids’ curiosity, teach them to never take things at face value, emphasize hoping for the best but planning for the worst, and they’ll be just fine.
At the end of the day, you’re already ahead of the curve with our youth and teen accounts Money Musketeers and Dinero programs to help your kids save and plan for the future.
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Displaying results 61-65 (of 77)
Your college prep checklist
You’ve decided on a college and sent in your enrollment deposit - now it’s time to organize your finances and prepare for your move. Moving away to college may be the first time you’re living on your own and making your own financial decision…
Are you ready for a checking account?
A checking account is an essential part of managing your finances and adulting. It’s useful for paying bills, depositing checks and keeping track of your money. Checking accounts come with a debit card for convenience, so there’s no need to c…
Make a Plan to Reach Your Financial Goals
Think about your financial goals for a moment. Do you picture yourself buying a home or taking a much-needed vacation? Are you focused on building a financial safety net or saving for retirement? Although challenges and setbacks may throw yo…
Mobile Wallets Provide a Contactless Way to Pay
Tired of carrying around a wallet stuffed with cards? Don’t like waiting for a chip card to process? Worried about the germs on the payment terminal? Try using a mobile wallet! What’s a Mobile Wallet? Your smart device can do more than ma…
Advancial Checking 101: Smart Ways to Manage Your Money
A checking account that makes you pay to access your own money is no friend to your finances. Truth is, plenty of banks charge fees that can chip away at your account balance. Not so at Advancial. Our checking accounts are designed to benefi…
Six Side Hustles Anyone Can Do
Who wouldn’t love some extra pocket money? Here are six ideas for easy side hustles. Maybe one or more of them is right for you.   1.) Play with dogs When you offer your services as a dog-walker or pet-sitter you can charge as much as $2…
Ready, set, go...to college
It may seem like yesterday when you were getting your son or daughter off to preschool. And now you’re preparing him or her for college! The process of a child leaving home is a major milestone and is complex because of the emotions it gene…

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bring dream kitchen to life

Four Ways to Bring Your Dream Kitchen to Life

The kitchen is the heart of the home. It’s where we spend many hours whipping up delectable dishes to please every palate and food plan.
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Five Reasons to Choose a Credit Union Over a Bank

Creature comforts like smartphone bank deposits are nice, but how much are they costing you? Your statement might not show the costs directly, but there’s an old adage about situations like this: If you’re not paying for a service, you’re not the customer. You’re the product.
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5 Ways to Save on Vacation Transportation Costs

Steep cab fees and car rentals are some of the best ways to kill a vacation budget. Read on for five ways to get around for less while on your dream vacation. 
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We do business in accordance with the Federal Housing Law and the Equal Opportunity Act.

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