What Type Of Savings Account Is Right For You?

Saving is on everyone’s mind these days and especially so given that so many people are having a hard time making ends meet. But if you have the money to save, it’s never been easier, especially with so many banks offering a variety of online tools, mobile apps, and more.  Many of the new cell phones on the market allow you access to bank apps, through which you can make deposits and keep track of everything pertaining to your savings account no matter where you are. For those that don’t already have a savings account, or might be looking to switch up from their checking account, here’s a basic overview of the different savings accounts that might work best for you:

Traditional Savings Accounts

These are the most common account types that you can buy into. All you need to do is deposit your money with bank to open an account and you will earn a certain amount of interest each month. Account minimums vary from $1 to a few hundred dollars depending on the bank. Interest rates and other features vary as well. It’s usually a good idea to shop around for rates and features before opening a new bank account.

Passbook Account

This is another kind of savings account but the bank gives you a booklet in which to to record your transactions. This includes any withdrawals you make, deposits, as well as the interest you’ve made on your account. These types of accounts are very useful because they’re FDIC insured for any amount up to $250,000. The figure goes even higher when it’s a retirement account. There are usually few fees that are applied to such accounts and works very similarly to a traditional savings account. The same goes for the low interest rate.

High Yield Savings Account

These accounts, just like passbook accounts, are also FDIC insured but you’re going to earn a lot more interest. That’s why it’s called a high yield account. Traditionally, the higher the balance you keep in your account, the greater the interest rate the bank will give you. However, with these types of accounts, you usually can’t use checks. In some cases you can gain access to the account through your checking account and transfer money that way, if needed.

It’s not hard to start and manage a savings account. It seems that the biggest problem these days is finding the money to actually put in an account.  Speak with a banking professional to figure out which option would work best for you.


CNN Free Debt Planner Tool Allow Consumers To Predict Debt Payoffs

The news website maintained by offers headlines from around the world but it is also a resource for consumers who are struggling financially. People who have trouble paying their debts or truly realizing how much it is they owe out to creditors. With a full understand of one’s debt situation, there is little chance outstanding debt will be paid off or if it is, the time it takes will cost consumers a lot more than they imagined.

CNN’s website offers several money tools available at no cost to consumers who want to better manage their money. In particular, their Debt Planner tool offers the opportunity for consumers to calculate how much debt they owe and how long it will take to eliminate that debt. The tool makes it easy for consumers to figure out which payment options will eliminate debt in the fastest time period possible.

The Debt Planner tool is just one example of the kind of free information out there to support consumer goals of eliminating debt and managing money more efficiently. While some debt issues will necessitate third-party intervention (attorneys, debt assistance, debt counseling), the majority of consumers have the necessary tools at their disposal to repair past credit mistakes and work to eliminate the linger debts they have in their financial life. Using such tools as well as a budget not only helps consumers get their finances back on track, it helps them to keep their money matters moving forward positively.

Why Debt Elimination Timelines Matter

Consumers do not always understand the importance of pay debts off in the quickest manner. Many feel that as long as they are making payments, the debt will eventually come to an end satisfactorily. However, there is an urgency to eliminating debts as fast as you can because it will save you money.

Loans, credit cards, and other financial agreements involve interest rates. For each payment you make, only a portion of this money goes toward the principal of the amount you actually financed. The longer it takes you to pay off the balance of the loan or credit card, the more interest you accrue. Depending on the total of your balances due, you may end up spending thousands or more in finance charges. If you are able to orchestrate an early payoff, you’ll be able to save that money and put it somewhere useful like an interest-earning savings account.

Another benefit of early payoffs on debt is the affect it will have on your credit report. If you have struggled in the past making on-time payments towards your debts, your credit score likely experienced a drop. By paying off accounts and putting them back in good standing, your credit score and history will reflect a significant improvement with each debt you pay off in full.

Preparing for Payoff

Once you have utilized the Debt Planner tool, you need to sit down with your budget and see where you stand financially. It is highly recommended that you allocate as much cash as you can each month towards debt payoff. This may mean some sacrifices such as not eating out, reducing spending on clothing and things that are not included in the basic needs category, or even taking on a part time job to add supplemental income directly to your debt payoff planning.

As you free yourself from debt and repair your credit standing, the most important lesson to retain moving forward is to avoid debt in the future. Learn to balance your cash to prevent having to accrue debt. Implement a savings plan that will ensure your financial needs are covered and you will not have to end up facing debt issues you need to settle ever again.


The Tax Benefits of an S-Corp

If you are planning to open your own business you will have many things on your mind.  Normally the last thing people think about is taxes.  However, tax planning on the front end can give you more money in the long run.  Unfortunately, many small business owners do not know this.

Want to hear more?  Then read on.

Many small business owners incorporate their business; sometimes they start out as a partnership or sole proprietorship.  Neither has limited liability, but people do not worry about that at the beginning, even though they should.  Others choose to operate as a Limited Liability Company (LLC) and allow everything to flow through to their personal returns.

Okay, so what is the big deal?

The first point is that LLC’s can be (and often should be) taxed as S-Corporations.   An S-Corp is meant for a company with less than 100 shareholders, which in essence are most small businesses and even larger businesses in the country today.  Therefore, most people can choose to have their LLC taxed as an S-Corp.   Normally you have to file form 2553 with the IRS to elect the S – Corp taxation.

The second point is that you could just create an S-Corp from the beginning, but often people do not like this because of the increased costs normally associated with creating one versus an LLC.  It does not really matter for tax purposes since LLC’s can be taxed as S-Corps.

So now we know that starting a business as an S-Corporation is good….. but why?

The savings is in the self employment taxes that are normally assessed if not taxed as an S-Corp.


Say your company has a net profit to you of $100,000.   If you are not an S-Corp, you will have to pay about 15% in self employment taxes which equates to taxes of about $15,000.

Now, in an S-Corp the owner has to take a “reasonable wage”, so let us say $40,000 is deemed that. Your tax bill will be 40,000 x 15% = $6,000.   This is a tax savings of $9,000!

So, how is this possible?

The other $60,000 is deemed a distribution and not a wage; therefore the self employment taxes are not assessed.  I bet you are thinking that you could call the whole $100,000 a distribution and take no wage.  Not so fast my friends.

The IRS is careful to examine S – Corporations to ensure they pay a reasonable wage.  Now, that varies quite a bit, so by at least being reasonable greatly reduces your chances of being audited.

Some forget this and take no wage, so guess who gets audited first?

Are there disadvantages to an S-Corp?

The main disadvantages of the S-Corps is the complexity involved could require higher fees for professional services such as a CPA or attorney.  However, the savings often outweigh the additional costs.

There are many things to consider before starting your business though.  It is always best to contact multiple professionals to get each perspective on the situation.  A lawyer and CPA have different backgrounds and may have different advice.  So be sure to fully explain you situation and hopefully you can come to a conclusion on how to proceed.

So do not forget about being taxed as an S Corp.   It could save you lots of money!

real estate and mortgages

Investing in a Property Portfolio

Recent years have seen a boom in the housing market, making property investments a popular way of making money. However, the current financial climate has led to the stabilizing of interest rates along with property prices remaining steady, making people question whether or not now is a good time to be investing in real estate. It is always a good time to start building up a property portfolio providing you are prepared to commit long term. If it’s a get rich quick scheme you are looking for, property investments are probably not for you, but if you can look 10-15 years down the line, then it is likely you will see your property appreciating in price.

It takes time and plenty of research to know which of the many property investment opportunities is the right one for you. Many books and websites offer sound advice as well as national shows which hold seminars for potential investors. You can invest directly on your own by finding properties that can be improved and renovated, or you can choose to invest through a property investment company that does all the research and makes investments for you. Many of these firms have fully tested means for making sound investments whatever the financial climate and have the influence to make purchases below market value, ensuring considerable profits are made.

With shrewd buying it is feasible to build a sizable property portfolio in a fairly short length of time. Interest rates are at an all time historical low, while tenant demand continues to be strong. The healthy rental market continues to offer smart investors decent long-standing prospects. With so many property investment opportunities out there, choosing the right one for you is key to building a successful property portfolio and the more educated you are of the market, the more likely you will be financially successful.

Begin your research with understanding the legislation for landlords. Read plenty of books, keep an eye on the market prices and attend seminars, exhibitions and property shows. Novice investors may find approaching companies that specialize in property investments is the easiest way to start their property portfolio business. These consultancies and firms do the time consuming work for you by scouring the real estate market and examining the rules that certain property investments involve. By investing into a property scheme with a respected company you will be reducing the risk of financial loss. These firms pool investor’s money, giving them the buying power to purchase below market value, giving you better returns. These companies can also access deals that are unavailable to private investors.

You can begin to build your property portfolio with just a relatively small sum of capital. The more money you can afford to invest, the greater the opportunities are and the larger the returns are likely to be. A property portfolio does not have to be a huge number of properties, but can consist of just a handful. It is imperative you hold some money back as a reserve or buffer as your properties may not always have tenants in them paying rent. Property will make you money if rented out constantly at a decent rate, however it will cost you money if it sits empty for periods of time. It is therefore prudent to ensure you have a reserve of money for every eventuality.

If you decide to avoid firms dealing in property investments and invest independently, it is important that you locate the right property. Think about where the property is and whether you are going to manage it yourself or find a letting agent. Find out through the letting agents what the local rental rates are and what you are likely to receive as a landlord. Go to see all the available estate agents in the area you are looking at and visit as many properties as you possibly can. When you decide to make a purchase, find out everything you can about the seller’s situation and make sure you bargain to get the best price. Have a full survey done as you will be liable for any structural problems as a landlord and it may help with the price negotiations.

If you are uncertain of how to start building your property portfolio, join a professional property investment company. By becoming a member you will have access to their extensive research and collated market data, providing you with the facts and information required to make an educated investment decision. Property investment opportunities are endless and by selecting the right ones you will be able to not only develop, but sustain your fortune.

Property investment always has the goal of maximizing profits while lessening associated risks. By utilizing a property investment firm you will rely on their controlled models which have been designed to make money while decreasing risks in all market conditions. Their projects are put through rigorous testing and need to meet stringent criteria in order to be approved as potential investments for their members. Their aptitude for buying at below market value generates significant returns, making an investment with an experienced property investment firm a great place to begin for a first time investor who wishes to build up a profitable property portfolio.


What to Look For In a Long-Term Care Policy: A Checklist

If you’re considering long-term care insurance, then it’s a good idea to get a sense of the landscape before buying a policy becomes a necessity. Policies vary based on location (state), facility and age. Nursing home costs will be different from in-home costs. And as your needs will vary, you should understand the implications of all options. If location is important to you and your family then, there are certain things that you should consider now.

Long-term Care Policy Checklist

The following is a checklist designed to help you cull through available policies:

1. Understand the services covered by a policy. Does it include:

  • Nursing home care
  • In-home care
  • Assisted living
  • Adult daycare
  • Alternate care
  • Respite care
  • Anything else

2. What does the policy pay per day for the various types of care? (Go through the list covered in the first point and understand the answer to each of those types of facilities.)

3. How long do you foresee needing the benefits to last for each type of care? How long does the policy extend?

4. Can you calculate the RIGHT amount? Don’t buy too much – or too little. To help make an estimate of your needs, check out his long-term care savings calculator from the National Clearing House for Long-Term Care, provided by the US govt.

5. What is the maximum lifetime benefit? Maximum Lifetime Benefit and the total lifetime amount are separate things and policies offer a fixed lifetime dollar amount of your choosing (for example, $200,000) that corresponds to a certain amount of time (as in a three-year policy). It’s also possible to choose coverage with no dollar limit. “Lifetime” or “Unlimited” coverage allows you to receive benefits as long as you continue to need long-term care.

5. Does the policy have a maximum length of coverage for each period of confinement? If so, what is it for nursing home care? For home health care? For an assisted living facility?

6. Are certain common conditions including Alzheimer’s and stroke covered?

7. You can opt for certain services and settings, including in-home care in a “comprehensive care” plan, or “facility care only.” Most policies are comprehensive, but if you look for an often less expensive  “facility care only,” then determine beforehand that the facilities covered will be sufficient for your needs

8. Can you customize coverage with additional optional benefits or “riders?” The cost of care is rising beyond the rate of inflation, so it’s a good idea to look for Inflation Protection (this functions the same way as it does in homeowners’ insurance plans). Types of long-term care Inflation Protection vary, so review the options in the policy. Commonly, Inflation Protection riders build the cost into the starting premium, so that cost doesn’t increase with inflation

9. Are there certain preconditions or assessments that need to be done including an assessment of activities of daily living or cognitive impairment? Are there any physician certifications? Is a prior hospital stay required (as it is in Medicare)?  Other?

10. Is there a renewable guarantee?

11. Is there a free look period that guarantees 30 days to reconsider your policy choice?

There is a lot to navigate within the long-term care insurance market. It’s a good idea to talk to an agent or representative who can let you know the options. Also, remember that there are insurance standards that are upheld by every state. But even before that, know what the landscape is.


Some Simple Rules When Using Your Credit Card

Spending money comes easily to some people, and spending money on credit cards comes even easier – as this detached way of spending can often make it seem like you’re not spending at all. That is, until the monthly statement comes in and you realize that you have gotten yourself into a bit of a mess financially!

So, before you let things get that far, you should try to take the time to learn some of the rules for using your credit card. If you start out using credit correctly, you will be able to increase your credit score and depend on the convenience that credit can provide to you.

Credit Card Rules – Avoid the Pitfalls of Uncontrolled Spending

The first and most important of all credit card rules is to pay off your balance each and every month. You don’t want to leave a balance and end up paying interest on it.

Using a credit card doesn’t have to be a costly option. If you pay it off each and every month, there is no chance for interest to be charged. This means that there is no penalty for using your credit cards. It also means that you aren’t paying more for something because you put it on the plastic.

Don’t spend more than you can pay back. This is where credit becomes a slippery slope.

You can use credit to pay for something that you don’t have the money for right now. However, the goal should be to only purchase something that you would be able to pay for in a month. This is the point where many people lose control of their spending.

Whether you want to go on vacation or purchase a new piece of furniture for your home, you need to have enough money to pay for it. That means that you can put it on credit but you need to have a steady income that ensures that you will be able to pay all of the money back that you borrow.

Keep an eye on your statements, reading them carefully and don’t just throw them in the trash.

Once you get the hang of using credit cards, you may think that you can keep track of all the spending in your head. While this may be true, it is important to read every statement that you receive. You are checking for a few key points.

Double check the amount that you owe as well as the last payment received. While it doesn’t happen very often, mistakes are sometimes made and you don’t want it to be at your expense. This can add up quickly.

Keep an eye on the interest rate. If you don’t read any of the other correspondence sent to you by the credit card company, you may not realize that your interest rates are rising or that there is a minimum finance charge after a certain amount of time.

Shred all of your statements or keep them in a secure location. In the United States, identity theft is a real concern. If you don’t want that credit card number floating around, be careful with the statement and receipts.

Some credit cards offer customers a chance to use a “one time” credit card number in place of the card’s actual number in order to protect their numbers and identity.

If you keep everything locked away, you probably won’t have any problems. When you are done with any documents that have your card number on them, shred them before placing them in the trash.


Retirement Planning is for You

When you think about the future, what comes to mind? You may be planning next summer’s vacation or maybe you’re focusing on your college graduation. Much of what you think about depends on your age and current life situation. One thing that should be on your horizon, regardless of age, is a retirement plan. Time marches on in spite of all you may do to try and slow it down, so planning for your golden years needs to be a priority, no matter how close or far away those years are.

Retirement planning should be for everyone. Once you start working, you need to establish a retirement account. If you’re already well-entrenched in the working world and haven’t begun saving, now is as good a time as any. If you’re closing in on retirement, or hoping to, it’s never too late to start. The point is that a retirement plan can be devised for any adult at any stage in life. You just have to know where to begin.

There is a plethora of advice available from the web, books and other people. Don’t underestimate your own ability to learn and comprehend the world of saving and investing. Take advice from professionals whose opinions you trust. Financial institutions that offer services for investing in retirement have tried-and-true approaches to the world of investing and have retirement consultants who can help design a retirement savings plan that will be tailored specifically to your needs and wants.

You need to consider a few questions when beginning your retirement planning. Think about what kind of lifestyle you currently have and what kind of lifestyle you want to have when you retire. You will need to determine how many people you will be supporting with your retirement income. One question that doesn’t have a definite answer is how long you will live. With advances in medicine, people are living longer than ever, so it’s not unreasonable to expect your retirement to last at least 30 years.

Another question to ponder is how much money you will need to have in your retirement savings when you quit working. That answer greatly depends on your desired retirement lifestyle. It also depends on how much money you currently are capable of setting aside. Don’t forget to plan for future inflation, as well. A terrific resource you can use to help you with these questions is a financial institution that has retirement specialists. These individuals will be able to use the tools at their disposal to help calculate where you are financially and how to get where you want to be at retirement.

You may be concerned about how you can afford to save for retirement right now. Remember that you may have to sacrifice now to have sufficient funds later. One way to make saving for retirement a little easier is to have money taken directly out of your paycheck and deposited into your retirement fund of choice. Also, check with your employer to see if they offer a retirement program where they will match a portion of your contribution into your retirement fund.

Perhaps you’re wondering why you need to save money for retirement in the first place. Maybe you’re planning on working until the day you die. That’s one way of thinking, but not the best planning strategy to use. If your health suddenly takes a turn for the worse, you may have no other option but to retire. With some companies, retirement is mandatory at a certain age. Also, wouldn’t you like to know that your living expenses will be taken care of in your later years? Travel, helping with expenses for grandchildren and donating to charities are just a few items that may be on your bucket list. Review your future goals and plan how to achieve them.

Consider consolidating all your accounts and investments with one financial institution. That one step will go a long way toward simplifying your life. There are excellent banks that offer everything you need in one convenient location, be it locally or online depending on your preferences.

Above all, take control of your retirement planning. You are the only person who can initiate this step, but there are qualified professionals waiting to assist you from here on out. It’s never too late to start saving for your retirement. Any sum of money you set aside today will be more than you would have had otherwise during your later years. This will not only make your retirement more comfortable, but it will add to your current and long-term piece of mind.


Comparing Identity Protection Services – What to Look For

An actor, portraying a victim of identity theft, bewails the damage done and the hours spent putting back the pieces of a ruined credit history, working to get bank charges and penalties waived and getting their good name back. While many of these stories may depict actual events, advertisers are using fear to motivate consumers to buy their protection service or product.

And although there are some legitimate actions that can help prevent someone from stealing your identity, any sales pitch that suggests they can guarantee against the theft is not being honest and should be avoided. One method that slips past the best attempts to protect your identity is data breaches from a major retailer or bank. The responsibility for securing against these threats is companies, financial institutions and banks.

What is often omitted from ID protection service sales pitches is what you actually get for your money. Your identity can be stolen in a variety of ways that can be defended against – phishing, malware, stolen mail and even from sensitive documents in your trash.

Each identity protection company offers different services to guard your personal information. There are two questions you should ask yourself before signing up. Is what they’re providing beneficial and can and will you do it on your own? If you see a benefit, yet know you won’t follow through with the necessary steps on your own, it’s time to select a company. Here’s what you need to look for when choosing an identity protection service?

  1. Is the company doing more than observing of your credit reports? If that’s the entire provision of the service, go elsewhere. Monitoring your own credit reports is easy, as federal law mandates a free annual copy from the three major credit reporting agencies for consumers who request them. A reputable identity protection services company will not only monitor your credit report but have sophisticated means of scanning public and court records, monitor against medical benefit fraud, and actively search known “bad neighborhoods” which feature websites that sell stolen Social Security Numbers and stolen credit card numbers, places that are less available to the average consumer.
  2. Are you paying for advice or assistance? Some services merely provide advice, if you are in the unfortunate situation of becoming a victim. Look for a one that provides recovery assistance and advocates for you as you deal with financial institutions and creditors. Also, be sure the company is independently securing your credit reports and not requesting the free reports you are entitled to by law.
  3. Is it worth the investment?Some people claim that the peace of mind is worth the price, but if you’re only paying for credit report monitoring, save your money and do it yourself. While many banks provide their customers with a variety of protection services for a monthly fee, these are typically report monitoring only.You may already have some credit card monitoring protection without being aware of it. For example, some AAA auto-club chapters or credit card providers may offer some level of credit monitoring as part of your membership. Some services require an annual payment upfront and may not provide a pro-rated refund if you cancel before the term expires. Read the fine print for the cancellation policy.

One last step to ensure that you’ve chosen the best service is to do a web search for complaints against the company. Contact the Better Business Bureau and ask if there are deceptive practice complaints. And remember that much of your security is in your hands.

About The Author: Noreen Ruth writes for several popular finance websites. She is interested in educating consumers about using credit responsibly and about legislative action that will affect their ability to borrow the money they need. She has contributed hundreds of articles to various online sites that provide content to educate consumers on credit card offers, debt consolidation services, loans and other finance related topics.


Long-Term Care Insurance: Planning and Considerations

Long-term care is any kind of long-term support that becomes necessary. At least 70% of people over age 65 will require some long-term care and 40% of people under age 65 already require long term care, yet there exists a huge discrepancy in the number of people that think they will require long-term care; only 35% of people over 65 years-old actually believe they will need long-term care of some sort.

The cost of care is rising beyond the rate of inflation. There is an increase in the cost of care among facility-based providers of roughly 4.35% compound annual growth. People can expect to pay more than $17,500 annually today than they did five years ago. Long term care insurance is becoming more and more important to consider for most families. A lack of preparedness can cause serious financial, emotional and even physical hardship.

long term care insurance
Do you need long term care insurance?

However, another fallacy is that everyone is eligible for long-term care insurance. Insurance companies and policies operate differently, and you may be turned down by one company while you are accepted by another. Here is a LTC policy checklist to help you compare plans.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, here are some factors that will probably contribute to denial of coverage:

  • Long-term care services are already in use
  • You already have difficulty performing daily activities on your own
  • Diseases such as Alzheimer’s, dementia or cognitive dysfunction are an issue
  • You are diagnosed with AIDS or AIDS Related Complex (ARC)
  • Any progressive neurological condition such as Multiple Sclerosis or Parkinson’s Disease
  • Stroke or history of stroke within the past one to two years
  • Metastatic cancer is in effect

Given the wide variety of health conditions common today that can affect your ability to receive and pay for the care you need, it makes sense to consider looking into long-term care insurance early on, before it’s a vital issue. There are a number of different policies and benefits available today, from in-home care to facility care.

Most people prefer to receive care in the comfort of their own homes, although sometimes that’s not possible. Personal Care Assistants or Companions can aid with household care like cleaning and cooking, as well as provide a conduit to the outside world by running errands. Home Health Aides have a more personal role in care and are able to provide bathing and dressing assistance. For those people with serious health issues, nurses can help with IVs, administer medications, and provide solutions to more complex health issues.

If home care isn’t an option, there are a range of assisted care facilities, and it’s vital to choose the one that best suits your needs. For some people who are in fact able to live at home but still require some sort of support, an adult day health care center will be able to provide daytime social and therapeutic activities. Some individuals prefer to live independently with on-site support for daily activities in an assisted living facility.  If skilled and intense care is needed, then a Nursing Home is the best option for skilled supervision, medication administration, therapies, and rehabilitation.

Cost of care varies by state, setting, age at the time you elect the policy and health status. Most importantly, know that once accepted for coverage, coverage cannot be cancelled for any reason other than non-payment of premiums, or if you have already received the policy’s maximum benefits.

Photo credit: chrstphre

real estate and mortgages

Is Now a Good Time to Buy a House?

People everywhere are looking to make predictions about what is next for the US housing market. Many people want to know whether or not now is a good time to buy a house, other people may want to plan for the future. Unfortunately, most of those predictions aren’t positive and don’t seem promising for the average American. The use of a mortgage calculator is a helpful way of deciding whether to purchase a home or not.

As the government joins in with the hordes of Americans in over their heads when it comes to debt, things are shaky at best and people just aren’t confident about what is around the corner. Some believe that things will get worse while others fear that it is already as bad as it can possibly get.

Is this a good time to buy?

If you aren’t already a homeowner, this may be the perfect time for you to jump in with both feet. Home prices are down and eventually they will rise again.

If you just want to own a home and plan to be in it for a long time, you may be one of the few people wanting to find an online mortgage calculator to figure out just what you can afford.

Get your funds and paperwork together

If you are serious about purchasing a home right now you can begin to put together the paperwork you need. If you haven’t done so already, start saving up for a down payment.

When that perfect deal finds you, be ready. The more work that you do upfront, the easier the process will be.

Look into different loans and programs

If you are a first time homebuyer, there are programs that can help you get into a home. You may be able to put down less of a down payment. You will also want to look into different terms, such as a standard variable rate mortgage, fixed rate, etc.

You may be able to buy a fixer upper and include some money for the repairs in the mortgage (you will get cash back from the purchase to use on the home). Depending on where you live and your current financial situation, there are opportunities that you just need to discover.

Decide on whether or not to use a realtor

You might be able to save money if you don’t use a real estate agent, but it takes a lot of work on your end. If you want someone else to do some of the legwork for you, contact a local realtor. They can find homes in your price range in the area that you are most interested in. Just give them a few stipulations and a list can be created just for you. If you don’t have a lot of time to look around and make phone calls, this can be an easy alternative.

Alternatives to buying

If you aren’t ready to make a purchase you can always rent until you are ready. While you are renting you can continue to save and work on your credit to make sure that you are really ready for the commitment of a mortgage. Because of the condition of the housing market in the US, you have time to get yourself together and then make a purchase. While renting, continue to check in with a mortgage calculator. You can plug in new rates or your additional down payment to see how the numbers have changed.

Typically, the longer a home has been on the market the better chance you have of getting it at a discounted price.