Tuesday, June 14, 2016

3 Financial Apps That Will Transform How You Manage Money

Whether you're saving up for your next big purchase or simply just a rainy day, money management is a key life skill many of us tend to neglect. No matter how carefully you plan for the future, unexpected costs and life events can pop up at any time, leaving you scrambling to figure out what to do.

Just last year the Bureau of Labor Statistics revealed a startling look into the financial lives of many Americans. Only 1 percent of American adults believe strengthening their emergency fund is essential to their financial success, and Bankrate.com found that 1 in every 10 Americans isn't saving for retirement. Crazy, right? Perhaps even more startling is that millennials are also less likely to save compared to older generations. But it's hard to blame them for their lack of savings when so many millennials are stuck living paycheck-to-paycheck because the median wage for millennials hovers below $30,000.

Sounds frightening. Money management is more than simply budgeting your day-to-day spending habits; it also takes into consideration your saving habits that will impact your future. Money management is something that is often in our control. While we may not be able to manage things like our job security or natural disasters that affect our living situations, we can control how we spend our money and how much we put into our savings account. Sixty-two percent of Americans in 2015 had less than $1,000 in their savings account; it's time we fixed that statistic.

Saving starts small and grows exponentially overtime. But with so many options available when it comes to saving, it can be difficult to figure out what methods are right for you. Luckily for us, techies and app developers are simplifying the way we manage money with easy-to-use tools and automated systems. If you have a smartphone, chances are you're aware of popular tools like Mint that track and analyze your personal finances. But there's a vast world of apps out there and each one contributes to your overall money management goals. Full Article

1. Digit  This handy little app connects with your bank account to analyze your income and spending habits while finding small amounts of cash to put aside for you. It's free, and Digit will subtly transfer a small amount of cash (from $5 to 50) from your checking account to your Digit savings account. Worried about saving more than you can afford? No sweat. Digit only sets aside an amount that you can save based on your income and your past spending habits. You can also access your savings account and withdraw from Digit at any time. Whether you're using that money for a big purchase or a small weekend vacation, all you need to do is send Digit a text message and the money will be back in your checking account the next day. An app like Digit helps you save money you didn't even realize you had, making savings a breeze.

2. Acorns  If you're not used to investing your money or even sure where to begin with the stock market, Acorns is a cool app that automatically invests your money into low-cost, exchange-traded funds. Portfolios on Acorns are optimized to obtain the highest expected return for a given level of risk, and savings from low-cost ETFs are given to users in the form of low management fees. Essentially, Acorns is a great app that you can "set up and forget about." Acorns takes each of your purchases, rounds them up to the nearest dollar and then invests the difference in an ETF of your choice. Of course, if you're interested in how your customizable portfolios are doing, you can always check in on your portfolio to see how it's performing over time. Unlike Digit, there is a monthly fee that ranges from $1 to 25 percent of your annual assets.

3. Level Money  Level Money likes to call itself the "mobile money meter." Once it connects to your bank accounts, Level Money helps you plan ahead for essential costs like rent and bills, then guides you toward a proposed weekly and monthly budget. The goal here is to increase consumers' awareness of their bank accounts so they can responsibly spend their assets. Level Money looks at your financial big picture to come up with the appropriate amount you should be saving each month to meet your money goals. It tracks your spending in real time, so you can see how much of your determined monthly budget is left for you to spend. A great feature on this app is the automatic save tool, which lets you dictate how much you'd like to save automatically per month. Cash that's leftover from your budget at the end of the month will also automatically be deposited into your savings account.

Managing your money requires a healthy balance. It's important to save and be frugal, but you also want to live a little. While you shouldn't blow your entire paycheck on that one night out, you also deserve to treat yourself from time to time. Simplify the process of saving money so you can focus on other aspects of your day. With apps launching online seemingly left and right, there's no shortage of tools to help you effectively reach your financial goals.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Why Do Some Homes Sell Faster Than Others?

Have you ever wondered why some homes sell in only a few days, but it takes other homes weeks or months to sell? Years of real estate experience has provided us with key insight as to why some homes sell quicker than others. If you want your home to sell quickly at the price you want, follow these nine real estate secrets! Full Article

Turn-Key (Move-In) Condition When you list your home, it is likely to sell quicker if it considered move-in ready. This covers repairs big or small - from a leaky faucet or chipped paint, to major eyesores. The minor repairs that are often overlooked can leave a bad taste in the mouth of buyers, making them question if other more important areas of the home have been neglected. If anything in your home doesn’t meet code, be sure to replace or fix these items before listing your home. Often, buyers are willing to spend a little more on a home that does not require repairs or updates before they can move in. Buyers can also be pushed to other properties if they are worried about the time and effort required before move in. 

Curb Appeal The importance of a quality first impression is critical when selling a home. When buyers first view a home, they are comparing how your home fits in within the neighborhood and judging it according to their expectations. The first and last thing individuals see when touring a home is the exterior, so it sets expectations and is the final impression of the property. Additionally, if the exterior of your home is in good shape, potential buyers see this as one less area of the house that would require repairs or updating. Discover more information on cheap and easy ways to enhance curb appeal.  

Quality Photos Most potential buyers now start their search for a new home online. From there, they decide which homes they want to spend more time on based on the photos available. For this reason, it is important to have high-quality photos that help your home put its best foot forward. A good rule of thumb is to have at least six photos.

Ample Storage Space The bottom line is that storage space sells. No one has ever complained about having too much closet space, so be sure to highlight the storage space available and show all the potential uses. You can partially empty closets (hint, remove seasonal clothing) allowing the closets to give the illusion of having more space available. At a minimum, you should organize and declutter your closets, so they do not look cramped.  

Energy Efficiency With energy efficiency being a hot topic, upgrading or installing energy-efficient features can increase the appeal of your home to buyers. From small updates like installing energy efficient light bulbs and a remote thermostat to larger updates like upgrading the insulation or putting in energy efficient windows, every energy efficient feature can be another plus in the mind of a buyer. Discover other ways you can make your home more energy efficient here.  

Proper Pricing It is a common misconception that the listing price should start high and then lower as time goes on. This method often increases time on market for multiple reasons. First, if the price is too high people will automatically rule it out. You do not want to discourage buyers with an unreasonable price tag. An irrational price tag can also lead buyers and agents to avoid your listing because they are concerned you are not serious about selling or that you are unwilling to negotiate. Lastly, if an agent or buyer sees that the price has been lowered multiple times while the house is on the market, they can infer that you are desperate to sell. This can lower their offer price even further.   All of that being said, your home does not need to be the lowest priced home in the neighborhood to sell. If your house has differentiating factors from other homes nearby, use those as selling points for the additional cost.

Use Enticing Adjectives The verbiage you use when listing your home also plays an important role in its sale. Language like move-in condition, beautiful, gorgeous, spacious, new and upgraded will peak a buyer's interest. Wording to avoid includes motivated buyers, must sell and other adjectives that make you seem desperate to sell. The purpose of your listing is to get the potential customers in the door of your home where you and your realtor can sell them on its features. Reread your listing and double check that it is encouraging and accurately displays the benefits of your home.  

Proper Staging Everyone knows they need to stage their home, but most people do not know what this entails. Extra or unused areas should be staged with a purpose. For example, if you have an alcove, stage it as a reading nook, or stage an extra closet as a pantry. Staging also requires depersonalizing a home. You want to portray how easy it would be for another family to make memories in your home, so remove clutter and personal belongings.   Proper staging also involves deep cleaning and arranging the furniture in a way that makes your home desirable. If a room is on the small side, remove excess furniture to give it the appearance of being larger. Staging is a complicated process, so here are ten additional staging tips to help your home sell fast.  

An Exceptional Agent Even if you follow all of these tips, it can still be challenging to sell your home quickly if the proper audience is not seeing your listing. Be sure you have an experienced agent who is willing to go above and beyond to meet your needs. Houses listed with Space Simply have an average time on the market of 34 days, with a median of only seven days!