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(TNS)—Maybe you have an idea of when you’d like to buy your first home or retire from the workforce—but just how realistic are your expectations?
We recently asked Americans to tell us the ideal ages for accomplishing certain financial goals. Then, we ran their responses by 10 certified financial planners living in different parts of the country.
Americans’ expectations overall were fairly realistic—but some experts argue that when it comes to hitting key milestones in life, age is arbitrary. What’s more important is whether you’re financially ready to make certain decisions, says Jennifer Faherty, founder of Financial Wealth-Being.
Getting Your First Credit Card
The ideal age to open a first credit card is 22, Americans say, but according to many financial planners, the sooner you start building credit, the better.
“I think 22 is a little late,” says Dana Twight, a certified financial planner based in Seattle. “I think you want to help your kids or your independent kids and support them in opening a card when they’re young enough to benefit from a parental safety net, if that’s possible.”
Parents who want to teach their children how to use credit cards responsibly at a young age can help them sign up for a secured credit card. These types of cards require you to make a cash deposit that becomes your credit line. With time, you should have the opportunity to trade in your secured card for a traditional, unsecured credit card.
Another option is to make a teenage child an authorized user on a parent’s account—but any mistakes that are made can impact the parent’s credit score.
Lucas Casarez, founder of Level Up Financial Planning in Fort Collins, Colo., used to help clients open their first credit cards when he worked at a credit union. Many of the people he helped were 18 and 19 years old. He sees nothing wrong with someone that age having a credit card, as long as they have someone showing them the right way to use it.
Quentara Costa has a different opinion. She’s seen too many college kids with credit cards getting themselves into trouble. Waiting until you’re 22 to open a credit card is a safer bet, says Costa, a certified financial planner in North Andover, Mass.
Waiting to Buy Your First Home
While there may be benefits to getting a credit card at a younger age, postponing the purchase of your first home may be advantageous.
Americans, on average, say 28 is the ideal age to become a homeowner, but many experts recommend waiting until you’re in your early 30s to take the plunge.
Once you graduate from college, Helen Ngo thinks it’s best to wait at least 10 years before buying a home. That way, you have a better idea of where you stand financially and whether you can take on a mortgage.
“At 28, to me that’s still a very young age,” says Ngo, CEO and founder of a financial planning practice in Atlanta. “I think those who are able to buy a home at 28 are married at that age and they have dual income to be able to afford a house at age 28.”
Unless you’re in a stable financial position and you have access to a lot of cash, it’s probably best to avoid buying a home until you’ve paid off your student loans, says John Piershale, a wealth adviser in Crystal Lake, Ill.
Homeownership Is a Long-Term Commitment
Generally, buying a home at any age isn’t a good idea if you’re not planning to stay there for at least five years. That’s particularly the case if your goal is to build home equity, Ngo says.
“If you’re purchasing a home, how much time are you going to live in there in order to get the actual equity value out of it? Unless you buy a fixer-upper and you put more money into it, and then you’re able to sell it real quick and you might make $100,000 extra out of it…but most people aren’t doing that,” Ngo says.
Even if homes seem affordable where you live, think beyond the cost of the mortgage when deciding whether to become a homeowner. Factor in the cost of property taxes, home repairs and unexpected expenses. Think about the costs involved with selling the home, too, like paying closing costs.
You’ll also want to consider market conditions. Percy Bolton, founder of a financial planning company in Pasadena, Calif., says he wouldn’t buy a home right now because it’s a seller’s market.
“You don’t ever buy in a market like this. You wait,” Bolton says. “If I was advising a client right now, it’s cheaper to rent.”
Saving for Retirement
Americans say the ideal age to start saving for retirement is 22. According to the financial planners we polled, it’s best to start saving as early as possible. The average age the experts suggested was 21.
Costa says it’s important to start saving money at a young age, but starting to save for retirement as a teenager isn’t necessary.
“When you’re younger, you do need to save for things like a car and a down payment and college,” says Costa, founder of a company called Powwow. “I think there’s plenty of time to catch up. I’ve seen plenty of people turn the corner where they haven’t had much savings because they’ve had all these milestones and at 40 they’re finally able to get serious about retirement and they’re fine.”
Lauryn Williams, a four-time Olympian who founded her own financial planning company, says you can start saving as early as age 19 in a Roth IRA. The stereotype of the broke college student is misleading, she says. Even college kids have money that they could be saving.
“Once you get in college, that first year get settled, but then also get saving,” Williams says. “Automate that saving from the very beginning, create that habit and you’ll finish college with a little nest egg for yourself and a little nest egg for retirement.”
Another recent Bankrate survey found that millennials prefer cash over stocks, but when it comes to preparing for the future, having mostly cash investments will ultimately cost you.
“A far as long-term savings, that’s not a viable strategy to me,” says Donovan Brooks, a certified financial planner in Saint Joseph, Mo. “Based on probably the retirement lifestyle that they have in their mind, cash likely isn’t going to get them to where they need to be long-term, unless they have a large income and they’re putting away a ton of money and they envision a very minimal, inexpensive retirement lifestyle.”
The Ideal Age to Retire
Americans say the ideal retirement age is 61, but the financial planners we surveyed agreed that retiring at 61 wasn’t realistic for most people. What’s more, the way people think about retirement is changing.
“I think if you redefine what retirement means, you can retire at different stages in your life,” says Ngo, founder of Capital Benchmark Partners.
Ed Leach, a certified financial planner in Wayne, N.J., says he has clients who are executives and business owners. They sell their businesses and “semi-retire” by doing consulting work.
Other financial experts say their clients are retiring later by choice. Sixty percent of her clients would list 70 as their ideal retirement age, Williams says. If you love what you do, you don’t have to stop working.
Working until you’re 70 or 80 may be more possible today than in the past now that more people today have white-collar jobs, Leach says.
“As we become less of a manufacturing, production-type of country, and jobs transition into more of, ‘Hey, I can work from home and do computer coding,’ I can do that until I’m 80 years old if my mind allows me to do it.”
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC
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(TNS)—Opening a savings account is easy, but committing to savings? Now that can be hard.
From struggling to find places where you can reduce spending to falling into the temptation of instant retail gratification, saving money can be really challenging.
“You really have to know yourself and discipline yourself if you’re going to be an effective saver,” says Greg McBride, CFA, Bankrate’s chief financial analyst.
Learning to live on less may feel difficult initially, but it will pay off in the future.
Here are four steps to start exercising savings self-control today.
Pay your account out of your paycheck.
Automate your savings by having money moved to your savings account regularly, either through elections with your direct deposit if you receive a regular paycheck or by setting up a recurring transfer to your savings account.
Moving money directly to your savings account is a crucial first step in building a nest egg, McBride says.
“Paying yourself first clears the biggest hurdle for saving, which is simply not being in the habit of saving,” McBride says. “It takes care of saving money before you have a chance to spend it.”
Similar to putting money in your 401(k), the idea is that if it never touches your hand, you won’t miss it.
Avoid the temptation of transfers.
Moving money into your savings does you little good if you constantly raid the account.
To effectively grow a savings account, you have to restrict yourself from the temptation to transfer those funds to your checking account.
“If you’re going to build your savings, your deposits have to outnumber your withdrawals, not just in number but also in magnitude,” McBride says.
Do what it takes to control yourself. Perhaps the solution is as easy as naming that account based on a goal—”house down payment” or “Christmas money”—to make the connection of immediate gratification robbing your ultimate goal.
If that isn’t enough to stop you, put some distance between your checking and your savings. While there are often advantages of having your money at one institution, opening up a savings account a different bank might be what you need to stop you from spending money that is supposed to be away.
Once you’ve hit your emergency fund savings goal, you ought to consider a CD or even a CD ladder to pick up some yield and keep you from spending your money.
Put banking technology to work.
Banks and financial technology companies are obsessed right now with helping you save money, and each product seems to have its own bent.
There are ones that let you set rules, like adding $10 to your savings every time you buy a latte. Finn, the new mobile-only account Chase Bank is piloting in St. Louis for iOS users, is offering such features. The bank says it expects to launch it in additional cities and for Android users next year.
Others, like Simple and Moven, help you save for a specific goal or multiple goals at a time.
There are also some, like Digit, Chime and Acorns, that focus on moving small amounts of money into an account for you. This is similar to Bank of America’s popular Keep The Change Savings program, which puts the difference between your purchases and the nearest dollar in a savings account—$10.75 for lunch, 25 cents for savings, for example.
MoneyLion, another FinTech app, launched a virtual reality feature on the augmented reality platform of Apple’s iOS 11 release. MoneyLion customers with iPhones 6S and newer can now visualize their money as stacks on the phone. The rationale is that if you can see your money pile increasing, you’re less likely to spend it.
Suffice to say, there are a lot of savings options out there right now and you ought to do your research before committing to one. Ultimately, their effectiveness is dependent on your ability to not frivolously spend the money you’ve worked hard to save.
Save for the long term.
While you may want to enjoy the here and now, short-term spending can cost big time down the road.
“If you’re going to be a saver, it’s going to require some tough decisions,” McBride says. “It means passing up consumption today so that you can instead save for consumption in the future.”
McBride highlights that saving is not simply geared toward building up money to use in the event of emergencies.
“Americans are woefully under-saved for retirement,” McBride says.
McBride points to the increasing number of seniors who are unable to retire and the overwhelming amount of outstanding student debt as a reminder that consumers must save for long-term goals.
“You can build an emergency savings fund while building a retirement fund or a college fund at the same time,” McBride says. “You have to attack both at the same time in the same way by automating your contributions.”
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC
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Editor’s Note: This was originally published on RISMedia’s blog, Housecall. See what else is cookin’ now at blog.rismedia.com:
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More and more millennials are buying homes, representing around 45 percent of all purchase loans, and most first-time millennial homebuyers are on a limited budget.
While you may not be able to find the perfect home that checks every box on your dream home list, you can find a home you can improve on or add to over time.
As you hunt for your first home and make the big purchasing decision, make sure your checklist of new home essentials includes the following seven musts.
- Energy-Efficient Features
Not only is energy efficiency trendy, but it also saves you money on your power bill and reduces your carbon footprint. When viewing homes on the market, look for energy-efficient features like double-paned windows, solar panels, attic insulation, LED lighting, and ENERGY STAR appliances. When you move in to your new domicile, invest in the Nest Learning Thermostat, which helps save you money on your energy bill and allows you to control your house’s temperature from your phone.
- An Entertainment Center
Moving from an apartment to a home means more room, so celebrate with an entertainment space. Equip a portion of your living room with a comfy couch, a big screen TV, and a stereo system. Don’t forget a TV package and a streaming stick to access your favorite channels, such as HBO and Starz, and streaming services, including Netflix and Hulu. Trust us—your friends will thank you, and your home will be everyone’s favorite hangout.
- Smoke Alarms and Carbon Monoxide Detectors
A smoke alarm and carbon monoxide detector should be on every level of a house, especially near bedrooms. While walking through homes, check to see if a property has up-to-date smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors. You may want to install smart versions, like the Nest Protect, a smoke and carbon monoxide alarm. The system checks its batteries and performs silent tests on a regular basis so you don’t have to.
- A Home Security System
Burglary rates have been steadily increasing over time, but installing a security system can help you feel safer and protect your new home. If you buy a house that doesn’t have a home security system, you can easily install the necessary equipment with options such as the Scout Home Security System. You can connect a door panel, access sensor, motion sensor, video camera and more, depending on your needs.
- A Home Improvement Magazine Subscription
Whether you like it or not, owning a home comes with a lot more responsibility than renting. You’ll occasionally spend weekends and afternoons fixing something or working on a home project. Even though just about every project type is available on the internet, subscribing to a home improvement magazine, like Better Homes & Gardens, serves as a homeowner’s initiation to all house-centric projects. Along with tips for home maintenance, you can also find inspiration for your next project in the leaves of these handy prints.
No, we’re not back in the 1960s. Wallpaper is back and trendier than ever. If you find a home with wallpaper, don’t leave screaming. Depending on the style, you may be able to make it look modern, or, if a room is boring and you aren’t sure how to spruce it up without breaking the bank, try a modern wallpaper trend, such as a marble pattern. If you aren’t sold on the idea, try temporary wallpapers that are easy to remove.
Greenery is one of the biggest home decor trends, so bring the outdoors inside with houseplants. Not only do they clean the air, but they’re also inexpensive ways to decorate a room and brighten up even the darkest of spaces. For a small room, decorate with a tall cactus or fiddle leaf fig tree to make the area look bigger. Don’t have a green thumb? Try a faux plant, which only requires occasional dusting.
These must-haves are just a few to add to your checklist for an ideal dwelling. Think we missed something? Share what other essentials you think should be on every millennial’s new home list.
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MRIS, the Mid-Atlantic region’s multiple listing service (MLS) marketplace that facilitates $36 billion in yearly sales, has launched a new “Lifestyle Search” feature as a major upgrade and enhancement to its consumer website HomesDatabase.com, the organization has announced. “Typically, consumers are confined to searching by home features such as room count and type, square footage […]