Extended Unemployment Benefits Has Expired? Here’s What You Can Do

COVID-19 has taken a huge toll on the American economy; I know that is an understatement.

Many businesses have shut down altogether, while others are operating at reduced capacity. That means furloughed workers and permanent job losses. 

Need some extra cash to get by? Consider a low-interest personal loan – Fiona can help you get all your quotes in one place

For a time, many of these workers were able to depend on $600 a week from the federal government. But those extended unemployment benefits expired on July 31st. 

While a $300 federal enhanced unemployment benefit will start going out for some in the coming weeks, this is the time to prepare yourself however you need to do so, to help you make it through this tough time with minimal debt.

What’s Ahead:

Take out a personal loan

What To Do Now That Your $600 Federal Unemployment Benefit Has Dried Up - Take out a personal loan

What To Do Now That Your $600 Federal Unemployment Benefit Has Dried Up - Take out a personal loan

If you can make it through COVID-19 without accruing additional debt, that’s ideal. But if you do need some extra money to get you through, a personal loan could be the best way. Shop around for the best rate and keep the amount as low as possible.

I recommend using a service like Fiona to shop multiple lenders quickly.

You can review the options and choose the one that works best for you. If you want to get a feel for the interest rates and monthly payment amounts you can expect, you can pull that information up on Fiona’s website.

Avoid high-interest debt

One thing a personal loan can do is keep your interest low. It can be tempting to rely on credit cards to pay bills and buy necessities while you’re searching for work. But take a look at the interest you’re paying. It might be a good time to get a card with 0% APR for an introductory period. Chances are, you’ll be working again by the time that the introductory period ends and you can start working on paying it off.

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One of the better credit cards on the market is the Chase Freedom Unlimited®. For starters, it offers a 0% Intro APR on Purchases for 15 monthsYou’ll get 5% back on travel booked through Chase, as well as 3% on dining and drugstore purchases. On all other purchases, you’ll enjoy 1.5% cash back which is perfect for those looking for a straightforward card that doesn’t have complicated rotating categories you need to remember to activate.

If these features aren’t enough to grab your attention, the Chase Freedom Unlimited® offers a unique sign-up bonus of $200 after you spend $500 on purchases in the first three months. AND, you’ll get 5% cash back on grocery store purchases (not including Target or Walmart) on up to $12,000 spent in the first year.

During tough economic times, it may also be tempting to go for high-interest short-term options like payday loans. These are easier to get than a personal loan, but you pay for that access – which is why they are not at all recommended. Interest on payday loans is, on average, 400%, which means the interest you pay on that loan could be quadruple the amount you borrow.

Ramp up your job search

What To Do Now That Your $600 Federal Unemployment Benefit Has Dried Up - Ramp up your job search

What To Do Now That Your $600 Federal Unemployment Benefit Has Dried Up - Ramp up your job search

Looking for employment is always challenging, but job searches are especially tough during a pandemic. If your skills are geared toward on-site work, it may be time to think about how they can translate to an at-home option. Companies like Amazon, Apple, and Dell are among many other businesses that will let you work from the comfort of your home. Indeed and FlexJobs can help you filter out jobs that let you work remotely.

Networking can be tough during COVID since in-person events are in short supply. It’s a great time to update your LinkedIn profile and maybe even start making new connections. If you’re on Facebook, look for groups specific to your industry or town and start making connections. You’ll be surprised how many job opportunities will come through your social media connections.

Side hustles and odd jobs

Gig work has thrived during the pandemic. Stay-at-home orders gave some consumers a chance to try out services for the first time. Restaurant and grocery deliveries are still in demand, and likely will remain that way. You can keep money rolling in while you wait for a more permanent position by signing up to work with a service like Grubhub, Instacart, Rover, or Taskrabbit.

However, as unemployment benefits expire, you may find that competition for these gigs increases. Some gig workers sign up for multiple services, maximizing peak times with each to boost their income. It could also be a way to start your own business. Signing up with a pet-sitting service, for instance, could help you build the experience and local presence necessary to launch the pet-sitting business you’ve always wanted.

Set a budget

What To Do Now That Your $600 Federal Unemployment Benefit Has Dried Up - Set up a budget

What To Do Now That Your $600 Federal Unemployment Benefit Has Dried Up - Set up a budget

If you don’t already follow a monthly budget, now’s a great time to start. Your bank will likely let you pull a report detailing your monthly expenses. I’ve found that this report is great for identifying areas where I can cut back. I then use what I’ve learned to set a monthly budget and work hard to stick to it.

You may have already cut back on dining out due to COVID-19, but your food budget is a great place to start reducing spending. Switch to cheaper items that will make enough for leftovers.

Recurring monthly expenses are also a great target. Can you eliminate cable TV and drop down to a cheaper cell phone plan? If the answer is yes, you need to check out Trim, which can help you find and cancel your recurring subscriptions and even negotiate your bills for you, which is incredible for all us Millennials with social anxiety. Once you have income rolling in again, you can return to your previous subscriptions.

Managing your budget isn’t always easy, so if you need a little extra help, I’d suggest PocketSmith, one of the most thorough budgeting apps out there.

With PocketSmith, you can categorize, label, and leave notes on your spending. You’ll need to connect your bank so PocketSmith can automatically update your budget every time you make a purchase. This is an incredible feature, that can really help you stay on top of what you’re spending.

Get assistance

Even if extended unemployment benefits end, you’ll still qualify for state unemployment benefits. Make sure you keep those active. In addition, consider some of these programs that can help you offset that $600 a week you’ll no longer be getting.

  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (S.N.A.P.). The S.N.A.P. program gives funds to qualifying families to purchase food. The program has granted waivers to most states to provide emergency assistance to households affected by COVID-19.
  • Talent Exchange. This program, powered by artificial intelligence, pairs unemployed workers with available jobs in their area. Once you’ve signed up, you’ll be notified as new opportunities are added.
  • Healthcare and Medical Assistance.  If you lost your medical benefits due to COVID-19, check out this list of resources. Filter by state to see those that are available to your family.

Since there are many state-supported programs, check with your state’s human services or labor departments for local offerings. You may also find that local churches and nonprofits are helping those in need in the community.

Tap into savings

What To Do Now That Your $600 Federal Unemployment Benefit Has Dried Up - Tap into savings

What To Do Now That Your $600 Federal Unemployment Benefit Has Dried Up - Tap into savings

If you’ve been saving for a rainy day, you probably already have plans to rely on your savings to get you through. Once those funds are gone, though, you may start eyeing any retirement savings accounts. If you remove funds from those accounts, make sure you know exactly what penalties and taxes you’ll face for early withdrawals.

In 2020, if you withdraw funds from your retirement account for coronavirus-related reasons, the 10% penalty will be waived. You can withdraw $100,000 from your 401(k) account without penalty. Before you take the money out, though, be aware that it will be taxed as ordinary income. Also, check to make sure your withdrawal will qualify. Financial-related qualifying reasons include:

  • You experience adverse financial consequences as a result of being quarantined, being furloughed or laid off, or having work hours reduced due to SARS-CoV-2 or COVID-19.
  • You experience adverse financial consequences as a result of being unable to work due to lack of child care due to SARS-CoV-2 or COVID-19.


In the coming weeks, the government will be extending $300 unemployment benefits for some, so keep an eye out. The hope, of course, is to be able to get the support you need to weather these setbacks and start working toward a strong financial future.

Read more:

Source: moneyunder30.com

Credit Card Rewards – Are They Really Worth It?

These last few weeks I’ve been thinking a lot about our credit cards, and whether or not we should just close the rest of our credit accounts. My philosophy is becoming more and more anti-debt, and the idea of going credit card free is appealing, albeit a bit scary. It’s becoming less scary as we get closer to having a fully funded emergency fund.

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Other rewards cards may have good terms, but charge an annual fee. This makes it unlikely that the consumer will come out ahead if they don’t spend a large amount of money on their card.

Still other rewards cards may be generous with their rewards, but they have an annual cap or limit which means you can’t fully realize the benefit of having the card.

Another problem is that a good percentage of people who have rewards credit cards don’t even bother to use their rewards that they’ve earned. From CNNMoney:

More than 41 percent of reward cardholders either rarely or never even bother to use their rewards, said a 2006 survey by GMAC Mortgage and Harris Interactive.

That seems like an awfully large number of people who sign up to get rewards, but then never even bother to use them. What a waste! Could it be just another indicator that our culture just doesn’t value saving as much as it does spending?

Avoid The Pitfalls Of Rewards Cards

To avoid the pitfalls and get the most back from your card, Consumer Reports offers these tips:

  • Consider where you shop. Get rewards cards that fit your lifestyle and shopping patterns. In other words, if you don’t travel very often, don’t sign up for a travel rewards card. You might be better off using one that gives you cash back for gas, groceries and home purchases.
  • Project your spending. Figure out how much you think you’ll spend in a given year, and then find out how much you’ll gain for every dollar you spend. Subtract any annual fees or penalties and find out if the card is worth your time. If not, move on and find another one.
  • Favor cash back. Points vs. Cash back. Consumer reports found that cash back cards tend to offer better rewards. On top of that the cards that give points, often the points end up going un-used. Get a cash-back card to optimize your returns.
  • Skip credit if you carry a balance. If you don’t pay your bills of in full, you may want to pass on the rewards cards altogether. Because rewards cards often have higher interest rates, you may end up paying much more in interest than you reap in rewards. I know my wife and I only use the credit card when we know we can pay it off within a week or two.
  • Do the math on do-good programs. Some people are tempted to get a rewards card so that they can have the rewards sent directly to a charity of their choice. When doing this make sure you look into how much is being given because you’ll often find you can give more to the charity if you just get a cash back card and send the money to the charity yourself.
  • Use airline miles fast. If you use an airline miles card, make sure to use your points as soon as you can. Airlines will often change redemption rules, and sometimes you’ll even lose your points if you haven’t used them in time.
  • Avoid temptation. Don’t justify spending on your credit card just because you want to get that “reward” of a new Ipod or digital camera. You’ll usually find that you end up spending more than you would have in the first place – enough that you could have just gone out and bought your own reward.

Conclusion – Be Careful

When it comes down to it I think it is clear – if you already have credit card debt and you’re trying to find your way out, DON’T use your credit card. Period. Lock it up and throw away the key.

But if you are debt free and are able to pay off your card every month without any problem, go ahead and take advantage of the rewards programs. But be careful which one you choose. Find one that fits your needs and spending patterns. Also, be careful that you’re not getting caught in the “spend to earn” trap. Studies have shown that people will often spend more just because they’re getting rewards. Don’t be a sucker, buy only what you need and what you would have bought anyway.

Do you have a rewards card? Do YOU think it’s worth it? Let us know in the comments.

Source: biblemoneymatters.com

Everything You Need for Your Kitchen & Nothing More

Kitchens. They’re amazing spaces. They can be visually stunning. They must be total workhorses. They’re quite often the heart of the home. But they can also accumulate a lot of CRAP.

As I work to not only design but also fully outfit the kitchen for the Hood Canal Cottage, I’m starting completely from scratch. No hand-me-down casserole dishes, no knives I’ve carted around since college, no random herb scissors that I’ve never ever used. For once, I get to hand-select every tool and every object that comes into the space.

With that total blank slate, I find myself often thinking (ok, obsessing) about what I want this kitchen to have. As an avid cook, as we probably all are coming through Covid, I want kitchen tools that are really pretty, but also highly functional. And nothing else.

This kitchen, designed by Our Food Stories out of a refurbished old schoolhouse in the middle of the German countryside, is a total mood. Featuring deVol kitchen cupboards, tiles, shelves, light fixtures, hardware and more. This kitchen is certainly a showcase for the many of the pieces on my list of must-have kitchen tools – and of course, it does so beautifully.

This space immediately transports you to an idyllic rural retreat. I imagine walking through overgrown gardens, picking fresh roses and making multi-course Sunday lunches here.

I love how this kitchen keeps so many key kitchen tools close at hand. While I might not be doing quite as many open shelves at Hood Canal, there is a lot to be said for having key tools within arms reach.

There’s nothing that drives me crazier than a poorly outfitted kitchen. But an overcrowded kitchen can be equally crazy-making. You have to strike that balance.

For me, the key kitchen tools I turn to time and again include one good set of pots and pans, a cast iron skillet, a good set of wooden spoons and spatulas, a top notch cutting board (or several) and then all those little tools that you need when you’re in the middle of pulling together a recipe – measuring cups, knives, peelers, strainers, graters, zesters – all the speciality things that let you add the finer components of a dish.

Those speciality tools are the kinds of things that far too many kitchens lack. Or they’re the big bulky OXOX ones you get at a grocery store that feel chunky in my hand and will just clog up my limited drawer space in the new kitchen. She gonna be cute, but she’s not going to be big.

As the weeks have progressed, I’ve been slowly but surely amassing my ultimate kitchen wish-list. Each kitchen tool, appliance, or serving piece needs to have a very critical purpose and look damn good while doing it.

I thought I’d share my wishlist with you. It’s certainly not comprehensive. As I cook every evening some other thing in my San Francisco kitchen makes me think oh yes, I have to find the beautiful version of this for Hood Canal. But all the extraneous stuff I have in my SF kitchen also makes me want to pull my hair out. I’m constantly digging for my one favorite knife or pan or bowl.

I hope you find something below you’ve been searching for. If you spot a key kitchen tool that I’m still missing, please tell me in comments! I consider my ultimate quest to outfit the ideal kitchen.

I’m also regularly adding favorites for the kitchen in the Apartment 34 SHOP so be sure to check it out too!

all images by Our Food Stories


Source: apartment34.com

Can You Get Chase Referral Bonus For In-Branch Applications? (Maybe)

A question we’ve been getting often in the comments is:

Can I get referral credit when referring my friend to a Chase credit card when they plan on applying in-branch? They may be applying in-branch since they are more comfortable that way or because the in-branch offer is superior. 

This question has been asked many times recently due to the increased 80,000 points Chase Sapphire Preferred bonus. The bonus is the same in-branch and online, but the branch offer waives the first year’s $95 annual fee.

I’ve seen references in the past to be able to go into a Chase branch with the referral info, and the banker would then be able to give the superior branch offer and still have it track back to the referrer so that they get their bonus as well.

A recent Reddit thread mentions that idea as well, noting that you should come into the branch with the referrer’s signup link. I’d recommend also having the referrer’s name, address, and phone number in case the banker asks.

That thread seems to suggest that you can only get the branch offer and the referral offer in the case where it’s a matter of a waived annual fee. However, if the referral offer is lower than the branch offer, the thread suggest it won’t work.

If you try it either way, let us know how it goes.

Source: doctorofcredit.com

5 Financial Reasons You Should Never Buy A Home

September 7, 2018 Posted By: growth-rapidly Tag: Buying a house

5 Financial Reasons You Should Never Buy A Home. Thinking about buying a home for the first time?

Many people think that at a certain age or because they are married and start a family, they have to buy a house. They believe that it’s what they are expected to do or it’s the next step. But that can be a financial mistake. Even if you can afford a mortgage, there’s more to owning a home.

For example, after you buy a home, you will also need extra cash to account for repairs, property taxes, insurance. You also have to make sure you can keep a job in order to make the mortgage payments. So before you buy a home, make sure you are ready to do so. In this article, we will provide some of the common financial reasons you should never buy a home.

If you are interested in comparing the best mortgage rates through LendingTree click here. It’s completely free.

Related Articles on Buying A House

5 Financial Reasons You Should Never Buy A Home

1. Homes are very expensive.

Homes are costly to buy. The average sale price for a home in the United States in 2018 is $394,300. That means that you will have to come up with a large down payment (usually 20 percent of the home purchase price) plus closing costs and fees.

In addition, you have to make sure you can cover the monthly mortgage payments once you buy the house. There’s also property insurance, taxes, homeowner associations fees (if you own a condo), water bill, electricity bills you have to think about.

If you feel you have enough money saved for a down payment on a house and you have a stable job, then buying a home might be a good option for you than renting.

You know you can afford a mortgage? Start shopping today for a mortgage.

2. You’re not handy.

When you own a home, you also have to keep up with the place, including painting, cleaning, making repairs, mowing the lawn, etc.. If you’re not a handy person, you will have to pay for professionals to do these things. And the cost of home maintenance can eat up your savings. So if you’re not a handy person and don’t have the money for these maintenance costs, you’re better off renting a home rather than buying a home.

Shop today for the best mortgage deal.

3. You’re too busy.

Similar to reason number 2, you should not buy a home if you’re too busy in your day-to-day job and paying for someone to do the yard work for you can be costly.

4. You don’t have a stable job or a stable source of income.

If you don’t have a stable job or stable source of income, you may not be able to make on time payment. And late mortgage payments can have serious consequences. The great thing about renting rather owning a home is that you don’t have any real obligation, besides the lease. If you can’t make your monthly rental payments, the worst thing that can happen to you is eviction from the property. But with owning a home, if you make late mortgage payments, the bank can foreclose on your property.

5.  You’re planning on moving.

If you know you’re planning on moving to another state or country, or that your job might transfer you to another location, you are better off renting a home than buying a home. The rule of thumb is that you buy a home if you are going to live in it for at least 5 years.

In conclusion, although there are some great benefits in buying a home, a lot of times it just doesn’t make sense. If any of these financial reasons above apply to you, you may be better off putting off buying a home.

Click here to compare mortgage rates through LendingTree. It’s completely FREE.

Related Articles on Buying A House

Work with the Right Financial Advisor

You can talk to a financial advisor who can review your finances and help you reach your saving goals Find one who meets your needs with SmartAsset’s free financial advisor matching service. You answer a few questions and they match you with up to three financial advisors in your area. So, if you want help developing a plan to reach your financial goals, get started now.

Source: growthrapidly.com

How To Pay Off Your Mortgage Early

September 28, 2018 Posted By: growth-rapidly Tag: Buying a house

Are you looking to pay off mortgage early? Or as early as in 5 years? If so, then follow these tips. Your monthly mortgage payment might your biggest monthly expense in your budget right now. So the sooner and quicker you can pay off your mortgage, the sooner you can start experiencing true financial independence.  Follow the following six steps to learn how to pay off your mortgage faster.

Wondering how paying off your mortgage early can affect your overall financial plan? Talk to a local financial advisor.

1. Refinance your mortgage.

One of the steps you can take to pay off your mortgage faster is to refinance your mortgage loan. In the simplest term, refinancing your mortgage means that you get a new loan to replace your current mortgage loan. Refinancing can help you pay off mortgage early in two ways.

The first way is that you can get a mortgage loan for a shorter term and make higher payments and thus reduce the number of years it would take you originally to pay off your mortgage. Second, when you refinance your mortgage, you can get a loan with a way better and lower interest rate, provided that you have a good credit score.

So if you’re looking to refinance your mortgage loan to get a lower interest rate, it might be worth looking into learning how to improve your credit score.

A mortgage, like any debt, is something that you have to pay. So, in addition to making your monthly mortgage payments on time, make extra payments whenever possible. Making extra mortgage payments is one of the easiest ways to pay off mortgage early.

When you make extra payments on your mortgage loan, not only will you get rid of your debt faster, you will also save tons in interest payments. The logic behind it is this: the more money you owe, the more interest you’ll pay.

If you don’t make extra payments, the interest in your mortgage loan will build up and you will end up paying interest on interest. By making extra mortgage payments, you will be able to pay off your mortgage early. 

One word of caution though, before you start making extra payments, check with your loan to see if you’re allowed to do so without incurring any extra fees. You may not be allowed to make extra payments on a mortgage loan with fixed rates.

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3. Set a pay off mortgage early date.

Use an online mortgage calculator to have an idea when you can pay off your mortgage loan. The mortgage calculator will tell you when you can expect to pay off your mortgage and how much you need to pay every month to reach that goal.

Your paycheck from your current job may not be enough to consider making extra repayments on your mortgage.  With your monthly expenses, you may not have any money left at the end of the month.

So making extra money by doing side hustles or completing surveys can help pay off mortgage early. Here are some ways to make some extra cash.

5. Watch your spending habits.

Start watching your spending habits, including avoiding impulse buying. See if you can cut back on unnecessary expenses like monthly cable bills, subscription magazines, stop eating out and buying new things. That extra money can go towards your mortgage payments.

6. Make a lump sum payment.

If you receive a bonus at work, or a tax refund, use some or all that cash towards your mortgage. 

In conclusion, paying off your mortgage early can save you thousands. So it’s a good idea to work on it.

Click here to compare mortgage rates through LendingTree. It’s completely FREE

Working With The Right Financial Advisor.

You can talk to a financial advisor who can review your finances and help you reach your goals (whether it is paying off debt, investing, buying a house, planning for retirement, saving, etc). Find one who meets your needs with SmartAsset’s free financial advisor matching service. You answer a few questions and they match you with up to three financial advisors in your area. So, if you want help developing a plan to reach your financial goals, get started now.

Source: growthrapidly.com

How To Save For A House

September 2, 2018 Posted By: growth-rapidly Tag: Buying a house

How to save for a house! For many people, saving to buy a house can be hard. This is because they don’t know how to save money or they’re not willing to limit their spending. This article will provide you with tips for saving for a house.

Determine how much money you need.

Before you decide to save for a house, you need to determine first how much money you’ll need to get started.

Typically, you need to come up with 20 percent of the property’s purchase price as a down payment and borrow the 80 percent from lenders.

In some cases, especially if you’re a first time home buyer, you can come up with way less money down as low as 3.5% thanks through FHA loans, but your interest rate might be higher. And you might be required to pay private mortgage insurance.

If you are interested in comparing the best mortgage rates through LendingTree click here. It’s completely free.


In addition to the down payment, closing costs and fees are also factors to consider in determining how much money you need to save for a house.

For example, let’s say you’re looking to buy a house for $250,000. You will need to come up with 20 percent of that price, i.e. $50,000, as the down payment. And 5 percent for closing costs, i.e., $12,500.

So in order to buy a house for $250,000, you will need to come up with $62,000.

To learn how much house you can afford, use LendingTree for the best mortgage loan rates and quotes for free. Here are some tips on how to save for a house:

Click here to compare mortgage rates through LendingTree. It’s completely FREE.

1. Increase your income.

If your monthly paycheck is not enough to save money because of monthly bills, debts, and personal expenses, then the best way to save for $62,000 is to boost your income. There are several ways to boost your income.

One is to work more by working over time at work. Another way is to have a side hustle to make extra cash on the side. A third way to boost your income is to take a part-time job.

Tip: If you want to make extra cash, I suggest that you take surveys online. I recommend, Pinecone Research (earn minimum $3 per survey), Swagbucks ($5 sign up bonus + get paid to take surveys), InboxDollars ($5 sign up bonus + get paid to take surveys), Ebates (earn up to $40 cash back), YouGov US Males ($2 bonus + $8 – $10 per hour), MySurvey ($2 sign up bonus + 5 per survey). See this blog post for a complete list. 

2. Reduce your spending.

One of the best ways to save money fast for a house is to reduce your spending. You can substantially increase your savings by living below your means.

To do so, figure out how much you spend a month on food, clothing, grooming, transportation and entertainment. See where you can cut back a little. See if there is a much cheaper alternative. Can you eat out less? Can you take public transportation rather driving your car?

Are there things that you pay for on a monthly basis that you can cut? For example, cable TV, magazine subscriptions, a gym membership that you barely use. Indeed, there are several ways to reduce your spending.

3. Pay off your debt. 

Paying off debt, such as credit card debts, is another way to save for a house. Credit card debts are high interest debts. Once you get rid of these debts, you will have more money left to save. Also, paying down your credit card debts helps your credit score.

In conclusion, if you’re in the market to buy a house, you need to come up with the down payment including the closing fee. This can be a big chunk of money that you may not have. So it’s important to follow the above tips to save money for your dream home.

Get pre-approved for with a mortgage lender to figure out how much house you can afford.


Working With The Right Financial Advisor.

You can talk to a financial advisor who can review your finances and help you reach your goals (whether it is paying off debt, investing, buying a house, planning for retirement, saving, etc). Find one who meets your needs with SmartAsset’s free financial advisor matching service. You answer a few questions and they match you with up to three financial advisors in your area. So, if you want help developing a plan to reach your financial goals, get started now.

Source: growthrapidly.com

Buying A House Checklist For First Time Homebuyers

Buying a house, especially if you’re a first time home buyer can be daunting. And searching for a buying a house checklist online can also be annoying.

From finding a real estate agent or broker to assist you in the purchase of a property to start house hunting, the process can be overwhelming if you don’t know what you’re doing.

In order of importance, here’s a ‘buying a house checklist’ we put together to make the process as smooth and as easy as possible.

Number 4 of this checklist is extremely important, so make sure you get to it.

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Check out: 5 Signs You’re Not Ready To Buy A House

In brief summary, this buying a house checklist includes checking your credit score, shopping for a mortgage lender, assembling your team – including hiring a real estate agent, gather important documents, making an offer on the house, etc…

Buying a House Checklist for First Time Home Buyers:

Related Resources

Step 1. Review your credit report.

The 1st thing to do when buying a house is to review your credit score.

In fact, your credit score plays a major role in whether a mortgage lender will qualify you a for a loan. And even if you qualify, the interest rate you will get depends on how good your credit score is.

Anything above 700 is considered a good credit score in the eyes of mortgage lenders. If you have something below that, don’t lose hope yet.

A 580 credit score will qualify you for a FHA loan. Or you can always take steps to improve it. So, don’t procrastinate – start working on this step right now.

So review your credit report from an online monitoring service like CreditSesame. It’s completely free. And correct any errors.

Check out: How To Raise Your Credit Score to 850

Step 2. Make a budget.

The best thing about following this buying a house checklist is the fact that it covers the most important aspect of the home buying process, which is making a budget.

Before looking at homes, you need a budget. There is a good reason for that.

Buying a house will most likely be the biggest purchase you will ever make.

Not only will you need to come up with a down payment and have enough of a stable job to make mortgage payments, you will also have to have extra cash related upfront costs.

These costs include inspection costs, renovating costs, closing costs, maintenance costs, taxes, property insurance, etc…

So you will have to make a budget, taking into consideration all of these costs and expenses associated with buying a house.

Related: Apply for a Mortgage Loan Today

Step 3. Gather your documents.

A mortgage lender will need some paperwork from you before they offer you a mortgage loan.

They include your income tax returns, w-2 forms, current pay stubs, bank statements, asset statements and any other financial statements. So, start gathering them now.

Step 4. Get pre-qualified for a mortgage loan

Unless you will buy your home with cold cash, you will need a home loan. So, consider getting pre-qualified for a home loan before you start house hunting.

There are lots of reasons why getting pre-qualified for a mortgage loan is a good idea. For starters, it tells the sellers that you’re serious when you start shopping for your house.

Additionally, getting pre-qualified for a mortgage gives you an idea of how much house you can afford. Mortgage lenders will pre-qualify you based on how much loan they will be able to offer you once everything is done.

So it’s worthwhile to know the limits of your borrowing power. The worst thing that can happen to you is to find a house that you fall in love with, and find out later that you cannot afford it.

Click here to compare mortgage rates through LendingTree. It’s completely FREE.

Step 5. Build your team.

Some first time home buyers make the mistake of ‘doing it alone’, of looking for a property without the help of a professional, like a real estate agent.

This mistake can cost you dearly.

Simply looking at properties on Zillow, Redfin, or on Google isn’t enough. Some of the best deals don’t even make it to these sources.

Real estate agents or brokers have insider knowledge that you don’t have. A good real estate agent understands the current market conditions and knows how to evaluate a property.

Also a home inspector can give you advice and information on the property so you can make an intelligent decision.

A home buying inspection checklist will be important in that regard.

A financial advisor is also a professional that you need to consider in your team.

Although a financial advisor may not be the first person you think to consult before buying a house, but a financial advisor can advise you whether now is a good time for you to buy a house.

They can help you understand how buying a home fits with your overall financial situation and goals. Of course, make sure your financial advisor has experience with real estate investment. See, 5 Mistakes People Make When Hiring A Financial Advisor.

Step 6. Begin looking for properties.

This ‘buying a house checklist’ will help you find the home of your dream.

With a pre-approval letter in hand, at this point you’re pretty much have an idea how much house you can afford.

And with working with a real estate agent, who can tell you where to look, all you need to do is to start the process. In addition to working with a real estate broker, look at online listings, and visit open houses

You also need to start researching the neighborhood. This is incredibly important. You want to know whether you would want to raise a family in that neighborhood. Are there schools nearby? Is it a quiet or noisy neighborhood?

Step 7. Make an offer and prepare for closing.

Once you find a property that you fall in love with, work with your real estate broker to make an offer.

Your real estate agent should be able to give you prices of comparable homes and you should use these numbers to make your initial offer.

Also, start getting ready to start the closing process. Find out with your broker how the closing process works – it may vary depending on your city or state. Also, make sure you know all of the deadlines.

In conclusion, follow these steps to buying a house checklist to help you find the home you’ve always dreamed about.

Click here to compare mortgage rates through LendingTree. It’s completely FREE.

Buying a House Checklist: Summary

1) Review your credit report – check your credit score to make sure they are good. If not, take steps to improve it.

2) Make a budget – that will let you know how much house you can afford.

3) Gather your most important documents, including your bank statements, pay stubs, tax returns, etc.

4) Get pre-qualified for a mortgage.

5) Build your team, including getting a home inspector. We don’t have a ‘home buying inspection checklist, but we have found a great home inspection checklist here for more information.

6) Start looking for properties.

7) Make an offer and prepare for closing.

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Source: growthrapidly.com