What Money Goal Do You Want to Tackle in 2013?

pay student loan

I can’t believe how quickly this year has gone by! It’s been a bit since I shared our student loan balance so I wanted to go ahead and update you on our progress. To be honest, we have been slacking off this summer. No, I’m not throwing my money away in Vegas, but we haven’t been as focused on paying down the student loan as we had in the spring. Part of it was due to having to buy a car the other month and rebuilding our savings. The other part is just due to us simply enjoying the summer.

However I’m now back on the saddle and I’m ready to pay down this loan! I checked our account and as of today, our student loan balance is $14,561.51.

pay student loan
That right above is the goal – getting rid of the student loan.
  • To pay it off in 2 years, we’d need to pay an average of around $600/month.
  • To pay it off in 3 years, we’d need to pay an average of  around $400/month.
  • To pay if off in 4 years, we’d need to pay an average of  around $300/month.

Right now, paying off the student loan in 4 years is certainly doable with our current budget. However, I think if we got back to focusing our extra income towards paying that down we can get it done in a couple of years.

I’d love to hear of some of your financial goals. What are your plans for the rest of the year?

Favorite Personal Finance Posts This Week

Here are some personal finance posts that made me want to try and shake up my finances.

To get all of my Twitter updates as they happen, please follow me here. I hope you enjoy these posts as much as I have. Please have a great weekend!

Photo Credit: rrunaway

How Much House Can You Afford?

house mortgage

There are lots of different opinions on how much house you can afford. There are those who subscribe to the notion that you should buy as much house as you can afford. The downside of course is when your income drops even slightly and you’re struggling to keep up with the payments. On the other side of the coin, there are those who suggest buying a house with cash. While it would be great to own your home outright from the beginning, most people are not in the financial position to do so.house mortgage

Many Americans make a down payment and get a mortgage ot finance the rest when buying a house. For those looking to buy a house with a mortgage, I wanted share some advice based on our experience (the good and the bad).

Looking at Your Numbers

The general consensus seems to be getting a mortgage that is no more than 2-3x your annual salary. That typically means you have a mortgage payment that is around 25-30% of your monthly income. For us, our personal goal was to have a mortgage income that was 25% or less of my husband’s net income.

When we were home shopping we received a letter from the lender that we were pre-qualified for a certain amount on the mortgage. When we looked at the number is was much higher than we expected. When we applied, we decided to use only my husband’s income. We wanted buffer room in case one of us lost our jobs or our income dropped. We read about too many people losing their homes due to one financial setback. The bank however, did not take that into consideration and gave us a loan that gave us little wiggle room for anything else.

The lesson learned? Even if banks may suggest you can afford more, be careful.  Look at your circumstances and decide for yourself if the amount is right for you. You are under no obligation to go for the maximum amount allowed.

Stash your down payment fund in a high yield savings account.

If you have a high yield savings account, such as Capital One 360 (open an account now), or Ally Bank (open an account today) you can also speed up the process of building your savings.

Buying a House is Than Having a Down Payment

While you’re saving up money for your down payment, keep in mind the other costs involved with buying a home. Some of these expenses come up when you’re deciding if a house is the right one for you and the others will be included in your closing costs. Plan ahead now to make sure you have enough money in the bank to take care of it.

  • Appraisal
  • Credit Report
  • Closing Fee
  • Title Search
  • Homeowners’ Insurance
  • Escrow Deposit for Property Taxes & Mortgage Insurance
  • Transfer Taxes
  • Recording Fees
  • Processing Fee
  • Underwriting Fee
  • Loan Discount Points
  • Pre-Paid Interest
  • Property Tax
  • Pest Inspection

Plan Your Down Payment Before Buying a House

Buying a home can be a great experience, but it can also be a nightmare. If you’re not in a position to buy a home, don’t worry. Rent can be a wise choice for many people. Don’t be impatient; wait for the right time. In fact, with some areas having a lot of empty homes, you may be able to rent a home at a decent rate. This gives you the option to test run home ownership without the big commitment.

What advice do you have about qualifying for a mortgage? Did you rely on the estimates from the lenders or did you run the numbers yourself? Did you receive any pressure from your real estate agent to get a more expensive house? If so, how did you cope with it?

Online Options for Earning Extra Income

money tips

lot of health risks are associated with stress and vice versa. All our lives, the overwhelming pressure for all of us to produce enough money to sustain our lifestyles compel us to toil away at the expense of our physical and mental well-being. To add more pressure, the constantly fluctuating condition of the global economy causes not only sky-high inflation rates that prompt everyone to struggle with rising cost of living, constant bills and even debts.money tips

These days, however, technology and the Internet gives us opportunities to explore options that will offer additional income and alleviate the worries associated with daily living. So boot up your computer and go online—there are numerous ways to earn money on the Internet—and at the forefront of this opportunity are paid survey sites which allow you to get paid taking online surveys.

Dissecting the Concept behind Paid Surveys

It seems odd that professional organizations are willing to pay random internet users to fill out surveys, but it is true. More than that, the number of willing participants are actually increasing day by day. Who wouldn’t want to earn money by answering surveys?

Your hesitation is understandable. The worldwide web is not the safest place to produce money, especially through something as trivial as paid surveys. To wash off your doubts, you have to know why paid surveys exist in the first place.

Every business that is in the world of trading, regardless of the product and the services they specialize, are in continuous need of feedback. The competition is tough, and the key to getting ahead of their competitors is through pleasing the consumers. You are one of the consumers they are aiming to please; hence getting your opinion allows them to operate with a sure target in mind.

These businesses hire marketing research companies, and the marketing research companies create survey panels in the web to manage their research collection. The surveys you answer are gathered, analyzed, and sent back to the clients. The clients pay the survey panels and the surveyors pay you. The process is legit and the concept sensible. In conclusion, it is true that you can earn easy money by taking surveys.

The Right Way to Begin

While answering surveys may seem like a simple job, the road you have to tackle to produce results from those surveys is quite shaky. Remember that the web is still crawling with threats, and in this arena, they come in the form of fake survey panels.

The right way to begin is by identifying which panels are legit and which isn’t. A few tips include checking their transparency in terms of their history and their founders and their responsiveness to inquiries. Once you have a list of the legit panels, create a schedule. Be organized in your approach to maximize this opportunity and to avoid confusion. For example, you can join three to five panels on your day off and spend one hour completing all the necessary information the panel asks of you.

The Things Most Survey-takers Miss

Trial and error, despite it being a good teacher, can consume too much time and energy. Make this endeavour simpler by keeping these tips in mind:

  1. Learn the System – The survey panels may have plenty of similarities, but they most definitely have different machinations when it comes to rewarding you. If you are in it for the money, you will prioritize the panel’s pointing system. What is the minimum amount of points for cash redemption? How long do participants normally take to earn those points?
  2. Distinguish the Important Surveys – Are you planning to take all the surveys that the panel offered you? If so, you aren’t acting smart. You are wasting your time and energy on things that won’t pay off. The skill to identify the costly surveys will take time to develop, but you’ll eventually acquire it. Make the costly surveys your priority and disregard the rest for later.
  3. Stretch your Patience – Paid surveys demand that their participants be patient because earning points and receiving the actual cash or check may take time, depending on the panel you work for and the sum you are redeeming. Be prepared with a PayPal or Amazon account; these are the two major payment processing companies used by survey panels to deliver your rewards.

Jennifer is a work from home mom currently living in NYC with her children. She loves making money online doing writing and taking paid surveys. Besides being an online blogger, she is also an adventure freak and always ready to undertake world tours. 

Win a Copy of Clark Howard’s Living Large for the Long Haul

All last week I shared stories from Clark Howard’s new book, Living Large for the Long Haul both here on My Financial Reviews and also on Couple Money. In case you missed them, here are six of my favorite stories from the book.clark howard living large 

I had a great time reading it because it not only shared numerous people’s stories on getting their finances fixed, but it gives you specific advice and tips on how you can use it on your own family’s finances.

There are many people who are looking to get ahead with their money so they don’t have to live paycheck to paycheck. Howard’s book can be a useful tool in your arsenal.

Enter to Win Living Large for the Long Haul

If you’re looking to grab a copy, you can find them at many retailers, but as a thank you to the community, I’ve received an extra copy to giveaway to one of you for free. If you’d like to win a copy of this book, just use the raffecopter widget below to enter. You have until this Sunday night (August 18, 2013)  to sign up.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thank you again for being a reader and member of My Financial Review’s community!