This New Year, take stock of your personal finances and make some new year's resolutions to help you achieve your financial goals. We've rounded up six resolution ideas to get you started.
Remember: the secret to a successful new year's resolution is specificity! Whatever goals you decide to make, be sure you outline them clearly and completely.
1. Set Specific Monthly Savings Goals
Rather than making a general commitment to save "more" this year, be specific and realistic with your goals. You're more likely to commit to your plan if you know exactly how much money you are saving, where you're cutting back your budget and how those savings will be stored and spent.
2. Stop Renting, Start Looking to Buy
At the time of this publication, the vacancy rate in Bellingham is hovering at less than 1%. It's no secret to renters in the Pacific Northwest that quality, affordable apartments and housing rentals are few and far between.
For many renters, their mortgage payment would actually be significantly lower than their monthly rent payment- and then that money would be going towards building their equity rather than in their landlord's pockets. There are so many incredible programs, especially for first time homebuyers, so it makes sense to at least talk to a realtor or mortgage lender to see where you stand.
Not sure who to contact? Click here to request a list of our preferred local lenders.
3. Track Your Spending with Apps Like Mint
Did you know you can automatically track how much money you're spending on dinners out, trips to the store and other expenses? With apps like Mint and PocketGuard, you can easily track and categorize your expenditures, making it easy to see exactly where your money is going every month.
If you don't track your expenses yet, give it a try for a few months. You may be surprised to see what you're spending, and once you're informed you can make better decisions about where to cut back.
4. Request a Comparative Market Analysis
Unless you've requested a Comparative Market Analysis within the last six months, it's unlikely that you really know how your home might be valued on today's market. Whether you're planning to sell soon or years in the future, keeping track of your home's real-world value is an important part of managing your financial health.
You can request a free, no obligation Comparative Market Analysis here.
5. Consult with a Realtor Before Planning Home Repairs and Updates
Not all home repairs are considered equal in the eyes of a buyer (or an appraiser!) Before you drop big bucks on a bathroom remodel or hardwood floor restoration, check with an experienced local realtor to get the inside scoop on what buyers really want. A good real estate agent can help you prioritize projects based on what is going to boost your resale value the most, and will point out low-cost opportunities to improve your home's appeal.
6. Invest in Real Estate While Mortgage Rates are Low
We're starting to see a small uptick in mortgage rates, but generally rates are lower today then they have been in decades. Now is a great time to lock in a low rate for your new home or investment property. Rates have been held artificially low for the past eight years, and in a healthy economic environment you should expect rates between 5-6%. These rates are still historically low, but not what we're used to seeing today.
That being said, with an appreciating market and rising rates, saving for an extra year or two may not help your situation and probably will not increase your buying power. There are currently 0% and 3.5% down options available, so even if you think you aren't ready, talk to a lender.
Real estate is a fantastic investment, particularly in our rapidly-growing area. If you think that investing in real estate might be the right move for you, or would like to find out more about your opportunities, give me a call to talk through your options- no obligation, no commitment.
Make your financial health a priority this year by taking proactive steps to assess where you're at, acquire equity and budget appropriately. If you need any assistance along the way, remember that our team is always here to support you. We're wishing you a healthy, happy and prosperous New Year!