What Is The Key To 21st Century Home Buying?

What is the price of owning our own home in the 21st century? Not the physical cost, but the cost it has on our lives. It is notoriously difficult to buy a home now in comparison to twenty or thirty years ago, and the last time the vast majority of prospective home buyers had the opportunity was when the markets crashed in 2008, and it was time to strike while the iron was hot! Now, with the rise of costs, and the lifestyle changes of people being geared towards living to the best they can, it seems that the most affordable option is to rent homes. The amount of conditions that go with renting is a lot less than buying, but buying your own home is the benchmark of “getting on the property ladder.” Once you are on there, it is much like being given exclusive access to an inner circle. The possibilities have opened up for you, and even with the huge amount of tech and communication methods available to us, we are still being left scratching our heads and wondering which way to turn. So what is out there for us?

The first place to look is… yourself. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, does it? There are so many different places to begin, whether it is your outgoings or your own mounting debt, but the first question to ask yourself is if it actually makes more sense to rent anyway? With buying a home comes so many hidden costs. From the cost of the home itself to admin fees or broker fees and stamp duty, it can add a sizeable cost to your outgoings before you have even thought about getting on the ladder. It appears to be a misconception with older generations that younger people are just squandering their money, which is why they cannot afford a house, which is far from the truth. The generation gap differs in opinion on many things, but it’s buying a home that the issues show themselves. Thirty years ago, buying a house was affordable in a one-income household and without as many hoops. Twenty years ago, there was a lot more help for people that were self-employed. Ten years ago was the gap in the market. But now, the costs are more, self-employed people are subject to rigorous testing, and now the gap has been replaced by insufficient costs to add to the concern. It isn’t just the more centralized areas that feel the push. It is certainly a cause of the rural areas increasing in price because the market is migrating to the rural areas as they are more affordable for the city dwellers, so where does this leave the rural dwellers looking for their own property? It looks like the only solution is to have a two-income family and even this comes with its own flawed logic. Due to the option for potentially uncapped earnings, people are going down the self-employed route. It is a viable option for as much work as you can take on and it helps to add a third income to a home where two family members are working, such as new parents. But the problem with being self-employed is the “unpredictable” nature of the work. Banks like to see a history of being successfully self-employed, which is judged by their criteria. Regardless of the fact that you are working two jobs to the detriment of your family life, you are bringing home the bacon, as is your partner. The problem in this logic is that financially you are earning enough for a down payment or deposit, but you are, on paper, “unreliable.” You can trawl through your bank statements to give evidence to the contrary, but despite the uncapped earnings, which is a much more sensible financial option for you rather than taking a paid job that barely covers your outgoings, it doesn’t help your situation. So where do we begin? Looking at your outgoings is the first step. In purchasing a home, as part of the process, there will be a credit check. There is more information on the fine details of credit score checking at upgradedpoints.com and other sites, which for people who don’t have in-depth knowledge of the process is a life saver. This is another aspect that people can fall down on, a lack of knowledge when it comes to the finer details, which is why examining your outgoings is a great way of taking some of the control back before the credit checks occur. Banks used to look at your outgoings and see if you had enough to cover the general costs. Now they will go through your bank statements to see what “unnecessary” outgoings there are and potentially use that as a reason to not lend the money. Something as innocent as getting a coffee en route to work can add up over the course of a year. If, for example, a cup of coffee costs you £2.45 on average, and you buy this coffee every day before you go to work, which works out as £12.25 a week. You work on average, excluding holidays, 47 weeks a year. That is £575.75 a year on one cup of coffee! Your mobile phone is a necessity in the digital age, and that can work out at an extortionate fee. The difficulty in downsizing everything is that we feel that we lose face somewhat. In cutting down your outgoings, you need to find a good balance. Looking at where you can trim the fat on your bank statement, by looking at shopping brands, your phone bill, and even on that cup of coffee, it will put you in a better position to buy.

When looking for a home, we tend to go online and have a quick gander at the houses on a few estate agents. Yet we don’t go any further into that option and deal with online sellers. It is completely understandable from the perspective of a first-time buyer, the internet is open to any amount of issues, and while there are downsides to buying a house solely online, there are upshots too. The first way you can make life easier for yourself in looking for a home is to have a detailed look at areas in which you plan to buy. This is especially handy if you are looking to move away from your current area. You can do a lot more investigation into things like the environmental concerns, the crime rates, and the quality of the schools online. While before, getting a feel for a place was the primary judgment criteria, you can really go in deep on what you want out of an area. Even the cost of living is something you can investigate properly, so you know you have a better chance of having a good quality of life there rather than struggling to make the bill payments. The difficulty in choosing a location means that it can make a bigger personal impact on you than you realize. Virtual tours and mortgage quotes are all things that can be done online now. That is the wonder of the internet, yet we tend to go for the traditional methods of home buying. The downside of home buying online is the potential lack of communication you can suffer as a result. It is a wonderful tool for browsing and to truly get an angle on what your options are, but the personal touch is lost in translation. The potential inconsistencies in communication, being bounced from one staff member to the next, are a very likely prospect in going for online estate agents. As a result, the chain can be broken and the fact that email communication is one variation on playing the waiting game, but with proper research and background knowledge that you can acquire, it will make for an easier process overall.

These two approaches are two of many methods to get a better idea of getting on the property ladder. The economy will forever fluctuate, and you will find it a struggle whichever way you may look at it. However, the potential to regain some control of your own financial independence is an option for getting back onto the property ladder. Your outgoings are the criteria that you will be judged by, and by taking a good look at what you spend and how you spend it, it will be an easier and smoother process. The fact of it is that we seldom look at how we can cut back because we feel that we already do enough to scrimp and save. We feel that we cannot compromise our lifestyle anymore. And there are many that will agree, but a home is an investment, and if it means a short-term change for a long-term benefit, then it is surely worth taking the time to re-examine your spending habits and doing some research on the state of the markets and processes. The internet is a great tool for research, but you are too.

 

Advance Your Career While Keeping Your Job

Like many professionals, you may have chosen a degree in a field that you were interested in, and thought that this would carry you into a long and fulfilling career. Now, years after graduating, you may feel a little dissatisfied and bored with the position you’re in. Fortunately, there are many ways to further your career without dropping everything and going back to school. Here are some options to keep in mind…

Try to Reshape your Current Job

Though a lot of people aren’t aware of it, there are many ways that you can reshape the job you’re currently in. You could talk to your colleagues about trading tasks, or volunteer to deal with a job that would usually go to someone more senior than you. For example, if you’re currently a programmer or coder, you could offer to take on responsibilities more closely tied to project management. You can also talk to your boss about your personal development goals, and any ways they could help you with them. For instance, if you’re looking to develop your financial skills and get better at managing a budget, you could ask if you’d be allowed to track the company’s expenses for the next quarter.

Consider Distance Learning

A lot of people see distance learning opportunities as a little thin on the ground, or somehow lacking compared to the education that a college or university can offer you. However, the niche has come a long way since distance learning first came about, and after browsing what’s on offer, you may feel much more attracted to the idea. Whether you want to launch a career in marketing and take a full IMC masters program or you simply want a crash course to improve your communication skills, there’s a wide range of online distance learning options on the market. Many of these modern learning opportunities have very flexible time frames, and you’ll be able to set your own schedule and deadlines for some surprisingly prestigious qualifications. While online qualifications may have carried a certain stigma at one point, those days are long gone, and they’ll look as good or even better than many conventional degrees or diplomas.

Search for the Right Challenge

While getting out of your comfort zone can often bring opportunities to develop your career, a new role isn’t always going to be that beneficial to your professional goals. Before you throw yourself into a totally new job title at your company, take a minute to consider what you’re actually trying to learn. Consider the skills, behaviors, and experiences that you’ll need to develop in order to be more effective in climbing your chosen career ladder. For each area of your current skillset that you want to improve, you should be brainstorming different methods for learning and practicing new skills or behaviors. There are a lot of ways to hone pretty much any skill you can think of, both within a company and outside of it. Before committing to anything, make sure you weigh up your options and choose the right challenge.

Taking Control Of Your Credit

To those who don’t know about it, there’s a force lurking behind your finances, governing the decisions you can and can’t make. It can open many doors for your future just as it can close. Credit is something to be taken seriously. It can do a lot of harm, but it can also do a tremendous amount of good when you know how to use it right.

Know what harms your score

Your credit report and credit score are a means of measuring how reliable you are in keeping up with payment agreements. There are a few obvious things that will harm them. Being late in payments, getting in debt, falling behind on rent are all big bad marks on your report. But there are some surprising things that can have a negative impact, as well. Credit rating systems will, for instance, penalize those who are self-employed, because they don’t get what could be considered a reliable paycheck. Even paying off loans before the agreed date can harm it. It’s just another way that credit providers see you as breaking an agreement. There’s a lot to learn about protecting your credit score.

Know what helps it

Because some of those negative marks can come from the most surprising of places, it’s a good idea to work to constantly improve your score, little by little. Naturally, paying loans and debts on time, keeping up with rent and bills, it will all reinforce a strong credit history. But you can get bonuses from making appropriate use of credit cards. The more you use and repay credit cards reliably, the better.

Why it matters

Your credit score and records matter because they are going to decide what kind of financial steps you can step. They will help you secure more kinds of loans and particularly those with better interest and repayment agreements that mean it costs less to repay a loan. Better credit means more long term control of your finances and more options for dealing with debt. Bad credit means you can have trouble finding loans at all or, if you do find loans, they come with heavy interest and heavier penalties for missing payments.

Capitalize on great credit

When you have a strong credit score, it can do more than offer you better deals, however. Those who provide credit like it when customers use it. They’re more than willing to reward them in the case of credit reward cards. Looking at cards like Cap One Venture vs Chase Sapphire Preferred and comparing them can help you find the cards you are applicable for and just what they offer. In most cases, what they offer is going to be points that translate to real spendable cash when you further use the credit card. So by keeping your credit healthy, you make those kinds of reward cards available, which means you can keep more purchasing power in the future.

The clever use of credit is going to ensure you’re always getting the best deal, always making the right reputation and even getting a little back in return. Just make sure you only ever use credit when you know you have the means to pay it back.