What are the Pros and Cons of Home Ownership.

Home is where the heart is. So went the adage. It has always been drilled into our brain that growing up and buying a home was the smartest financial move ever. In fact, buying a home was and is considered as a very good investment opportunity. Sounds too good to be true, right?  Or is it?

Let us look at the pros and cons of home ownership.

  1. Yale economist and Nobel Prize winner Robert Shiller debates about the feasibility of accepting home buying as an investment. He says, that the returns are just too small and that the premise of real estate appreciation does not always stand true. Calculated over the past 100 years, home prices have grown at a measly rate of 0.3%, after adjusted for inflation. Stocks and bonds have given, over the same period, an annual return of 6.5%. This difference is just big to ignore.
  2. Home buying should be kept as just that. An asset to protect you and your family against the vagaries of nature. As an investment vehicle, it simply does not stand up to the other instruments available in the market. What blunder most do is to make up more than 75% of their investment based on the price of their home. There is an inherent risk because of the lack of diversification.
  3. Owning a home is an absolute matter of pride. And beyond that, a recognition of all the hard work you have put in to buy that property. It is also a sign of prosperity.
  4. Owning a home is an excellent tax saver.
  5. The question of equity comes into play. Rent paid is gone forever. It never builds up your financial equity. However, with a mortgage payment, equity is built over a period in time.
  6. Owning home lets you beat inflation, even though by a very small percentage. According to Prof. Karl Case, long-term housing did have its moment when it went a wee bit ahead of inflation. Now, if you are young and thinking 30 to 40 years ahead, it is a very valuable insurance against inflation. Not a mean task at all.
  7. Contradicting to what I had said in point 1, the house is a risk capital. Again, as mentioned earlier, a home should never be viewed as a way to get rich, because it simply does not work that way. However, equity in a home can always be linked to your portfolio.

Home owning does have its fair share of pros and cons.  It totally depends on the individual and his or hers financial situations. But as the line goes, “Home sweet home”.

Best Features from Quicken Budgeting Software

Budgeting is an art. It takes a lot of imagination and decision-making skills to create a budget for oneself. In the past all one had to budget was a pen and their balance sheets. It was left primarily to brain power to come up with solutions. The arrival of the new age has seen an advent of newer tools. Tools which have more computational power and is able to calculate a long set of numbers in a jiffy. There are quite a few of them in the market today. Each comes with its own set of unique propositions and one must understand his or her own personal needs before selecting one.

In this long list of budgeting tools stands out one name: Quicken. And it should not be mistaken with Kraken, the monster of Norwegian folklore.

The former is quite a smart tool and the latter, a legend.

Quicken has the following features:

  • It saves every piece of financial transaction information and categorizes them
  • It has a robust data visualization capability
  • It helps you by comparing your investments with the other instruments currently available in the market
  • It’s 128-bit and 256-bit encryption ensures your information is beyond the reach of any wrongdoer.
  • The software creates separate heads for retail and small business and helps you put funds in the correct places.
  • It tracks all expenses like rental, leases, rates and deposits all in one place to give you firsthand information.
  • It also comes with a mobile app. Now, this would mean you can manage your money anywhere and at your convenience.

Hence, the question that now arises is why then Quicken is rarely suggested as a budgeting tool. With so many features to go for it, what pulls it back? We see the reasons are many.

The lack of a free trail especially for a budgeting tool is off-putting. When someone installs software to handle money, the trail period usually works like a charm. Quicken does not have one.

It has way more functionality than what a layman can handle and it does get intimidating for most while using it for the first time.

Over the past few years and versions, there have been complaining about the memory Quicken eats up. Also, reports of bugs causing trouble for the budgeting tool has been around for some time now

In spite of these shortcomings, Quicken does have its followers. However, to up the ante in the field of budgeting tools, it needs to get sharp.

Saving Now Saves You Tomorrow

At 22 you are the king of the world. Nothing seems to bother you. You are invincible, raring to go and virtually unstoppable. Now pause and take a few steps back. This age, rage, and energy will not last forever. A few years down the line, when you slow down a bit, wisdom will suggest that the future holds no surprises, except old age and financial insecurity.

At 22, your effort to financial security begins.

At first, this might seem to be a scary proposition with too much information floating around, but there is enough reason

  1. Don’t get flustered with all that has been told to you in the form advice. Take an informed decision based on research. All those numbers around mean nothing if looked into properly.
  2. Start saving a little and more often. Start putting that in 401(k) and see it slowly rise.
  3. If you think the social security net will be good enough for you, think again. It is estimated that by 2037, social security benefit requirements will outstrip contributions. As a result of which, it would get difficult for you to sustain after retirement.
  4. The 401(k) is a reliable ally at this age. Start using it wisely. The money that is invested here is absolutely tax-free. The tax will only be deducted when you take it out. So this instrument is quite handy for a 22-year-old and needs to be made use to its fullest.
  5. The IRAs too have loads of benefits to make use of. It is an Individual Retirement Arrangement and is virtually tax-free, both on federal taxes, state and local ones. Of course, there are riders involved, but at this age, that should be bothersome.
  6. Now is the time to be aggressive. At 22, worrying about your retirement, investment becomes an art. Remember, you still have another 20 years or 30 years to go before you hang your boots up. You can take a risk now. Look out for stocks and bonds. With age, you can slowly change tracks and become conservative. Now is not the time.
  7. There are nontraditional ways to invest too. Heard about ETF (Exchange Traded Funds). They can be bought and sold at any time and is just a regular stock in disguise.
  8. Last but not the least. Stop worrying, start saving. That is the only way forward.

Why Should Not I Pay Off My Home Loan?

No one needs to pay a home loan any more extended than would normally be appropriate. It’s a bit unsettling to have a tremendous obligation approaching over you for a considerable length of time, piling on intrigue. You may even be enticed to pay off your home loan early in case you’re sufficiently blessed to have the money lying around. In any case, paying off a home loan early isn’t generally the most intelligent choice, and there’s a reason home loans are alluded to as “great obligation.” So in case you’re considering paying off your home loan ahead of schedule, here are three motivations to re-examine.

  1. You’ll miss out on that intrigue finding

Paying all that home loan intrigue has an advantage, and it comes as a conceivably sizable assessment derivation. In case you’re in a high assessment section, missing out on this finding could mean paying more in duties, particularly if doing without it pushes you into the following higher section.

  1. You might be left with constrained liquidity

The lodging business sector isn’t especially fluid. Purchasing and offering property takes a great deal of time and work; wrapping everything up can take weeks or even months. On the off chance that you utilize your discretionary cash flow to pay off your home loan, making your home your lone real resource, then you’ll experience issues covering any enormous costs that may emerge. In the event that you lose your employment, have a medicinal crisis, get hitched, or send a child to school, for instance, you’ll need to have fluid resources available. Moving house ought not to be your exclusive choice.

Then again, in the event that you take the cash you’d use to pay off your home loan and rather spread it out over a differing arrangement of speculations, including stocks and bonds, then you’ll have more choices ought to the requirement for money emerge.

  1. It won’t give salary

When you put your cash in stocks and bonds, you can possibly secure a salary stream through profits, premium instalments, and capital increases. Paying off your home loan, notwithstanding, won’t give you salary. Rather, it will abandon you with constrained money left over to contribute. In the event that you put all your cash into your home, it could take years for it to develop in esteem, and paying off your home loan could restrain your capacity to produce wage for things like school, retirement, or other short-and long haul objectives.

 

It’s about the financing cost

In the event that your home loan conveys a high financing cost and you have the money close by to pay it off, then you should pull out all the stops. However, in the event that you have a low loan fee, you can exploit it by clinging to that home loan and utilizing your money to create higher returns somewhere else.

So in totality one can say very easily that its beneficial sometimes not to pay home loans as it saves you a lot of tax and can help in negotiating salary. One should paying off home loans in such a way that one can easily turn the liability into asset.

To Sign Or Not To Sign – Should you Sign the Back of Your Credit Card

A credit card is the most happening thing in the world of financial transaction. Gone are the days when long queues in banks would give jitters to its customers. With credit cards, there is a degree of financial freedom seldom seen in any other mode. It is also a security nightmare. Imagine, a card with your details falling into wrong hands. Apart from the monetary loss, the loss of identity to is a very big threat. As a result of which, every financial institution issuing a credit card has taken precautions to counter it.

That makes us come to a very pertinent question. Is it necessary to sign in the back of the credit card? Now for years, there has been a school of thought who followed the principle of either keeping the strip blank or mention the statement: “See ID”. However, that really does not make any sense. And the reason for this is that the signature at the back of the strip provides the card holder with an extra level of protection against fraud. You may ask how? When the teller or cashier at the counter provides you with the receipt slip you are supposed to sign, he gives a quick check to the signature done on the credit card. He or she does this to verify, whether the signature belongs to the same person.

More relevant that this is the violation you may be accused of for not signing the credit or debit card signature strip. The cardholder agreement very explicitly mentions the terms and conditions under which the card may be used. One of the conditions is signing at the back of the card.

However, the flip side to this is, many transactions do not require you to sign sales slips. And in a majority of credit or debit card transactions, the employees do not check the signatures. So basically the theory of an extra layer of protection falls flat.

The most foolproof method to keep your card safe is to follow a few rules:

  1. Do not, and I mean never, tell your PIN to anyone. It’s a recipe for disaster.
  2. Do not let any else use your card.
  3. Keep a tab on all the expenses on your credit card. This is the ideal way to find out any suspicious activity on your card.

Following these rules is far more important than deciding whether to sign or not to sign.