How Much House Can You Afford?

Introduction

An old rule of thumb said that you could afford to buy a house that cost between one and a half and two and a half times your annual salary. In reality, there’s a lot more to take into consideration. You’ll want to know not only how much of a mortgage you qualify for, but also how much you can afford to spend on a home. In order to know how much you can truly afford, you need to take an honest look at your lifestyle and your standard of living, as well as your income and what you choose to spend it on. Continue reading “How Much House Can You Afford?”

The SECURE Act Offers New Opportunities for Individuals and Businesses

The SECURE Act (Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement Act) is major legislation that was passed by Congress as part of a larger spending bill and signed into law by the president in December. Here are a few provisions that may affect you. Unless otherwise noted, the new rules apply to tax or plan years starting January 1, 2020.  Continue reading “The SECURE Act Offers New Opportunities for Individuals and Businesses”

Buying a Home

What is it?

Finding the right home to buy can be a challenging prospect but knowing what to expect can make the process easier. You can (1) buy through agents representing the seller and/or use a buyer’s broker, (2) buy directly from an owner, or (3) shop the auctions and foreclosure sales. Once you find the house you want, you must make an offer, check for clear title to the property, and arrange for a home inspection. And after the closing, you can finally move into your new home. Continue reading “Buying a Home”

The SECURE Act will affect all of our retirement plans.

New Spending Package Includes Sweeping Retirement Plan Changes 

The $1.4 trillion spending package enacted on December 20, 2019, included the Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement (SECURE) Act, which had overwhelmingly passed the House of Representatives in the spring of 2019, but then subsequently stalled in the Senate. The SECURE Act represents the most sweeping set of changes to retirement legislation in more than a decade. Continue reading “The SECURE Act will affect all of our retirement plans.”

Homeownership

What is it?

If you’re like most consumers, homeownership involves the largest financial transaction you’ll participate in during your lifetime. As such, it’s no wonder that the process of buying or selling a home can be so stressful, frustrating, and, at times, totally confusing. If you want to ensure that you make sound financial decisions and survive the process with your sanity intact, you should first educate yourself about real estate transactions and then engage in careful planning. Your first step should be to ask yourself: “Do I really want to own a home? Continue reading “Homeownership”

Leaving a Legacy

You’ve worked hard over the years to accumulate wealth, and you probably find it comforting to know that after your death the assets you leave behind will continue to be a source of support for your family, friends, and the causes that are important to you. But to ensure that your legacy reaches your heirs as you intend, you must make the proper arrangements now. There are four basic ways to leave a legacy: (1) by will, (2) by trust, (3) by beneficiary designation, and (4) by joint ownership arrangements.

Continue reading “Leaving a Legacy”

Caring for Your Aging Parents

Caring for your aging parents is something you hope you can handle when the time comes, but it’s the last thing you want to think about. Whether the time is now or somewhere down the road, there are steps that you can take to make your life (and theirs) a little easier. Some people live their entire lives with little or no assistance from family and friends, but today Americans are living longer than ever before. It’s always better to be prepared. Continue reading “Caring for Your Aging Parents”

What is the difference between the child tax credit and the child and dependent care tax credit?

ANSWER:

These credits are quite different. First, the child tax credit. The purpose of this credit is simply to provide tax relief for parents, working or not, who have qualifying children under the age of 17. A qualifying child may be a dependent child, stepchild, adopted child, sibling, or stepsibling (or descendant of these individuals), or an eligible foster child. The child must be a U.S. citizen or resident and must live with you for over half the year. Continue reading “What is the difference between the child tax credit and the child and dependent care tax credit?”

Investing for Major Financial Goals

Go out into your yard and dig a big hole. Every month, throw $50 into it, but don’t take any money out until you’re ready to buy a house, send your child to college, or retire. It sounds a little crazy, doesn’t it? But that’s what investing without setting clear-cut goals is like. If you’re lucky, you may end up with enough money to meet your needs, but you have no way to know for sure. Continue reading “Investing for Major Financial Goals”