Monthly Archives: June 2016

Renting v. Buying a Home

Mortgages

Jumping into the ring of homeownership is an exciting milestone! There are many ways owning a home can impact you and your family. How do you know when to rent and when to make the move to purchasing your home? Titonka Savings Bank is here to help with our handy guide to the pros and cons of renting or owning a home.

Renting

Cons:

  1. No wealth creation. As your payments go directly to your landlord and not the specific property, you are unable to build equity and reap the return on investments from the home’s growing value.
  2. No tax benefits. While homeowners can deduct property taxes and mortgage interest payments from their federal income tax, renters can’t claim deductions for housing costs.
  3. Dependent on the landlord. For everything ranging from utilities, to paint, to the rent dollars themselves, your landlord makes the majority of the decisions when it comes to renting a home. Depending on your lease, your landlord can increase the rent increase each year, or month!

Pros:

  1. Accommodates flexible lifestyles. If you travel frequently for work, leisure, or medical care, you may not have the time or availability to take care of a home. Renting allows an affordable accommodation without any hassle of renovations or repairs.
  2. Freedom in allocating finances. For renters, expenses such as mortgage insurance, real estate taxes, and home maintenance costs, can instead be funneled into savings, stocks or discretionary funds after the monthly rent and utilities are paid.
  3. Reduced insurance costs. Apart from renters insurance that covers the interior of a home, costly homeowners insurance and unexpected repairs belongs to the landlord, not the tenant.

Buying

Cons:

  1. Unexpected costs. Leaky roofs, backed-up pipes, and cracking foundations create thousands of dollars worth of unplanned repairs that stretch your budget to accommodate.
  2. You’re locked in. Once you sign on the dotted line the house is yours, and so are the payments.
  3. Fluctuating home value. Despite your best efforts, your home can become less marketable based on circumstances out of your control. A declining neighborhood, housing surplus, or unstable market can decrease the value of your home despite well done renovations.

Pros:

  1. Fixed monthly payments. Homeowners with fixed-rate mortgages can trust that their mortgage payment will stay consistent each month, enabling the creation of a stable monthly budget.
  2. Financial gains. From tax credits to equity building, home ownership offers buyers a number of monetary perks and freedoms they wouldn’t receive as tenants.
  3. Freedom in expression. A kitchen remodel, a four-season porch addition, and other decorative transformations are all up to a homeowner’s discretion with no strings attached to a lease agreement.

Still on the fence? Our experts at Titonka Savings Bank can sit down with you to help make a guided decision that suits both your lifestyle and your financials. Call and set up an appointment with us today!

How to Save $1,000,000 by Retirement

Saving for Retirement

Retirement may seem an eternity away; however, even if it’s a dream 20 years down the road, saving for retirement shouldn’t wait until the goal is in sight. Rule of thumb says you’ll need $1,000,000 in savings to retire comfortably. Our experts at Titonka Savings Bank recommend taking the following steps to save with the future in mind:

  • Determine when you want your $1 million. The typical age of retirement is 65, but you may be shooting for a few years earlier or later. Whatever the age affects how much you need to save each month, so calculate years left to save based on current age and breakdown monthly savings requirements thereafter.
  • Start saving ASAP. Compound interest rewards those that begin saving earlier rather than later. A $10,000 investment at age 25 could yield tens of thousands of dollars more by 65 than if that same $10,000 were invested at 35.
  • Spend less than you save. It’s basic math. You’ll have money left to save only if income exceeds expenses. Buying a home within your range, purchasing cars secondhand, and paying for vacations out of savings and not on credit protects you from dipping into debt.
  • Opt for automatic. Research your employer’s 401k or retirement-based plans and determine what percent you’d like funneled from your paycheck and into your savings. If your employer matches contributions up to a limit, work to reach their maximum to make the most out of your savings.
  • Set-Up an Emergency Fund. Expect the unexpected. A flooded basement or dying car engine can send you spiraling out of your savings plan if you haven’t budgeted for rainy days. Set up a $1,000 emergency fund as soon as possible, and work to expand it to anywhere from 6-12 months of income to protect you from larger surprises, like medical issues or unemployment.

The road to a million takes time and discipline, but it’s exceedingly possible. For further savings strategies, make an appointment today to meet with one of our trained financial experts today.

Budgeting 101 for Young Adults

How to Budget

You’ve taken all the tests, memorized all the vocabulary, and made your way across the stage. But what comes next? After graduation there are many questions that come with your diploma. Things like, how am I going to pay for rent? Or, how much should I budget each month for food? Not everything in life is as simple as A, B, C, or D. That’s why Titonka Savings Bank is excited to help young adults with the complex questions of budgeting and personal finance. Find the answers to your financial curiosities with our handy Budgeting 101 study guide!

  1. Identify money coming in. Look past the salary or hourly rate on your contract and focus on take-home pay. How much will you bring in after taxes? When do you see this pay-off – weekly, biweekly, or monthly? Factor in other sources of cash flow too, like earned interest or paychecks from a part-time job. Understanding what you own dictates how you spend.
  2. Establish money going out. Divide monthly expenses into three major categories: fixed costs, savings, and discretionary. Rent, utilities, food, gas, and debt comprise the fixed costs and determine funds for the remaining categories. Savings should include an emergency fund as well as allocation for retirement or down payments on vehicles or homes. Discretionary – the Fun Fund – is the most flexible and can ebb and flow with changes in income and expenses.
  3. Balance steps 1 & 2. The purpose of budgeting is to provide control over your financials. That means ensuring that money going out doesn’t exceed money coming in to keep your head above the debt line. If you find your listed expenses exceed your income, pick one of two options: seek ways to boost income or scale back expenses.
  4. Pick a management system. Armed with a financial plan, equip yourself with tools to help you stick to it. Traditional but trusted, the envelope method helps you keep funds in physically separated expense categories. Once money runs out from that month’s envelope, it’s gone unless funds can shift from other envelopes. A number of free or low-priced mobile apps can give you even tighter control of your budgeting, providing real-time updates of spending and handy visuals of your progress.
  5. Track progress. A long-term financial plan is simply a series of short-term goals. Monthly check-ups help you gauge success from the month, making sure you stayed on target. You can adjust funds as income or expenses fluctuate and spot ways to economize your budget.

Want to take your budgeting up a notch? Meet with one of our financial experts, who will work with you to plan a secure financial future. Give us a call to set up your appointment today!

The Top 10 Things to Add Value to Your Home

Home Equity

Just like purchasing your home, selling it is a journey all its own. Whether you’re aiming to sell your home in one year or five, you can make a number of small changes that offer a big return on your home’s value. Try these key improvements and see the effect on your next home assessment.

  1. An eye-catching entrance. As the gateway into your home, your front door will set the tone for what’s within. Update your door bell, paint the front door, and hang a spring wreath to tie it all together.
  2. Energy-efficient updates: Updating appliances, windows, and fixtures, to their more green counterparts can set your home apart with the attractive promise of future savings.
  3. Low-maintenance landscaping: While flowers are eye-catching, shrubs and drought-resistant greenery make great visual impact with the promise of less hassle.
  4. A thorough clean. A deep clean of carpets, curtains, and corners will make your home sparkle and create a positive first impression. Hiring a professional cleaning service may also help to remove hard-to-clean grime and overlooked areas.
  5. De-cluttered rooms. A tidy house doesn’t always feel open. Heavy curtains, overstuffed couches, and rooms devoid of sunlight can make buyers cautious of square footage. Rid the room of nothing but bare essentials and simplistic furniture to maximize the area of the space.
  6. Extra mirrors. To double the feel of any room, strategically place mirrors to create an illusion of extra space.
  7. Small updates to big places. Kitchens and bathrooms are focal points in the selling process. Without the time and cost of a major remodel, small updates like new lighting, fresh paint, or modern accessories can add value to your home on a budget.
  8. Revamped flooring: Thin or threadbare carpets can raise alarms for buyers as they visualize the daunting need to replace the tired flooring. As your budget allows, replace your home’s carpet beginning high-traffic areas and working outwards.
  9. Modern lighting. Updating light fixtures to a timeless and simple feel, help to elevate a home’s design and gives the potential buyer a blank canvas to imagine life in their new home.
  10. A professional opinion. In under an hour, a trained interior designer can provide suggestions for small tweaks, such as furniture arrangement or paint color adjustments, which can increase your home’s value with limited investment.

While improvements are not a guarantee of improved value, they can make all the difference when drawing in interested buyers. If some of your home-improvement projects require a bigger investment than your budget expected, our lending officers at Titonka Savings Bank can work to help you secure the home equity line of credit you need.

Take Baby Steps to Eliminate Your Debt

Savings

As of 2015, the average American with credit card debt owes $15,762 – and that’s just credit. Auto loans, student loans, and mortgages add thousands of dollars and years of repayment to your personal finances. However, debt doesn’t have to be a life sentence. Once you have made the commitment to work towards financial freedom, follow these steps from Titonka Savings Bank to begin eliminating those personal debts.

  1. Establish an emergency fund immediately. Unexpected events can take a harder hit on your savings than unbudgeted spending habits ever could. Even if you’re juggling a current debt or two, work to set aside $1,000 as soon as you can in a separate emergency checking account. As you chip away at remaining debt, this cushion can protect repayment plans from being flattened by a faulty car battery or flooded basement.
  2. Adopt the Debt Snowball method. Instead of listing them highest to lowest by interest rates, arrange debts from smallest to largest. Paying off a handful of small debts in the same time it’d take to chip away at a large one eases burdens, yields immediate results, and provides motivation to continue saving.
  3. Reduce your rates. Refinancing your mortgage and negotiating lower interest rates on credit cards can make a big impact. Reevaluating your health, life, and auto insurance policies may reveal services you don’t need, or it can spur you to shop around for providers with lower rates.
  4. Chop extraneous expenses. Create a list of unavoidable monthly expenses – rent, utilities, gas, food. Create a second list of leisure expenses – gym memberships, cable, eating out, clothing. After budgeting for the necessities, pick a few discretionary categories you’d like to keep with reduced spending, but cut the rest. Putting your spending on a diet is easier when you allow yourself a few modest outlets.
  5. Evaluate progress monthly. Creating a multi-year financial plan for eliminating debt is the first step, not the only one. Perform a monthly check-up on your plan to continue spending within your budget. It can also provide a boost of encouragement when you see progress, and you might spot ways in your new financial routine to make your budget even more cost-effective.

It may be a long road to eliminate debt, but it’s within your ability to travel it. Don’t go it alone – contact one of our advisers today to help you create and stick to your financial plan.