Monday Night Finance- Volume 24

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The Skills that Make You Rich: Real Estate Know-How

Owning a home is a huge part of the American Dream. In fact, when it comes to home ownership, many people make decisions with their heart instead of their head? Americans can choose between several television channels that have 24/7 programming of people buying houses, flipping houses, and renovating houses. While the average American only buys a new home every 13 years, they can at least fantasize about it every night on television. But what are the key skills to making (or at least not losing) money in real estate? Does it involve the HGTV ideal of an open floor plan with a 1,200 square foot kitchen? Do you need to rip up carpeting to find ancient hardwood floors to make money? What should you be looking for and thinking about?

There’s a hidden underbelly in the world of listings and fixer-uppers. It’s where they choose not to discuss how badly you can screw yourself on buying a house; it’s also where they use manipulative tactics to trick folks into an ownership hell they’ve never conceived of before. ~Darcy from WeWantGuac

In this article, Darcy shares some of her knowledge she gained while working in the real estate industry. The first question she addresses is how to calculate if you should rent or buy. This is a complicated calculation and depends upon the home price, mortgage rate, your down payment, and home owner association fees among other costs. Instead of trying to estimate all of these factors at once to decide how much home you can afford, Darcy suggests starting with a listing for a house you’d like to live in, and running the numbers for that house. In Darcy’s case, owning was much more expensive than renting. The second part of this article talked about ways you can make money off of real estate. The article is full of great ideas, including renting out your (rural) property as a wedding venue.

49 Money Questions to Grow Your Wealth

Is your financial house in order? Or do you feel like things are slipping away from you? Taking control of your finances can feel overwhelming. There are so many different areas that need to be addressed: how much to save, where to save, and what to invest in. It’s also important to examine your debt, income, and ways to potentially earn more income. Unless you sit down and come up with a systematic plan, it is hard to address any one of these questions. If you’ve been spinning your wheels and are unsure of where to start, this article is for you.

I have compiled some of the most common money questions we should be consistently asking ourselves and they act as your financial thermometer to measure the health of your financial state ~Jo from MoreMoneyTips

In this article, Jo from gives 49 questions that you should ask yourself to get your finances in order. Answering these questions can help settle some of your money stress by giving your a systematic framework to evaluate your finances. This comprehensive list of questions can help you organize and address all aspects of your finances. The questions range from debt repayment such as “Do I know the total amount of debt I owe?” and “Do I often miss credit card payments?” to budgeting such as “Do I know how much I spend on any type of food including snacks and drinks in a month or a year?”. (Note- that if you need help figuring how much you spend on a certain category each month, CountAbout can be a great tool.) Check out the article for all 49 questions and prepare to get your financial ducks in a row.

How Much Should I Save Each Month?

If you read the previous article and decided you needed to shake-up your finances, one question you might be asking yourself is how much money should you save. This is a complicated question and it depends on many things. Perhaps you are close to retirement with almost no savings. Or on the other extreme, perhaps you’re fresh out of college and have very little income but many potential years for growth. This article provides some sample calculations on how much money you should save and ideas on how to help your savings grow.

Saving shouldn’t be something that you do in case you have some extra money. If that is your strategy, you’ll probably notice that there won’t be much left every payday. ~Early Morning Money

The article runs through several rules of thumb from saving 10% to 25% of your income. The article details the “50/30/20” plan popularized by Elizabeth Warren. According to this plan, 50% of your income should go to fixed expenses such as health insurance and your mortgage, 30% should go towards discretionary spending, and 20% should go towards savings. Once you’ve set your total savings amount, you’ll need to figure out how to partition the savings between various savings goals and retirement. If your employer matches some of your retirement savings, you can count this savings towards your “amount saved” as well. The article discusses various savings objectives and different accounts that can help you reach those goals. Finally, the article gives suggestions on how to make saving money easier.