The First to Know Blog

10 Tips to Get a Home Ready for Sale

January 25th, 2018 Comments Off on 10 Tips to Get a Home Ready for Sale

Preparing to sell your home can be difficult. You have to create enough ambiance so that buyers can envision themselves living there but make sure it’s not so cluttered that all they see is you. Make some changes inside and out to get top dollar for your abode. Do a drive by. If a person sees trash on the lawn or overgrown weeds, they won’t be enticed to come inside. Boost your home’s curb appeal by planting a few colorful flowers at the entrance and mow the lawn. Declutter. Most people are familiar with the deceptive clean-up strategy of stuffing [ read more ]

The Benefits of a Mortgage Preapproval — and How to Get One

January 11th, 2018 Comments Off on The Benefits of a Mortgage Preapproval — and How to Get One

Unless you were recently selected as the No. 1 pick in the NFL draft or released a hit album, you probably won’t pay for your new house in cash. Like millions of Americans, you’ll take out a mortgage. Before you begin your housing search, try to get a mortgage preapproval, which is usually good for up to 90 days. After reviewing and verifying some of your financial information, lenders will tell you how much money they’d be willing to let you borrow. Getting preapproved can speed up the sale process and demonstrates to sellers that you’re serious about buying. Here’s [ read more ]

Organize Your Finances for the New Year

December 21st, 2017 Comments Off on Organize Your Finances for the New Year

A new year brings a chance to start fresh with just about anything. If your midnight toast includes a resolution to improve your financial health, here’s how to make it happen. Get on a budget To get ahead, it’s important to know where you stand and to create a plan with realistic goals such as a comfortable retirement, education and home ownership. Budgeting may sound old-school, but it’s still one of the best ways to accomplish this. Start by totaling your income and subtracting your monthly expenses for a quick financial snapshot. Then set goals, reduce unnecessary spending and, if [ read more ]

6 Ways to Save More Money in the New Year

December 7th, 2017 Comments Off on 6 Ways to Save More Money in the New Year

Even if saving has never been your thing and money is tight, the coming of a new year is an opportunity to change old financial habits. Here are some ways to become a more efficient saver. 1. Budget Budgeting helps you organize your finances so you have money left over to save each month. It may seem laborious, but budgeting doesn’t have to be hard. Mobile apps cut a lot of the work and can help you track spending throughout the month. 2. Pay yourself first Firmly commit to making a savings deposit monthly, even if you can only afford [ read more ]

Figuring Out How Much to Allocate to Your 401(k)

November 16th, 2017 Comments Off on Figuring Out How Much to Allocate to Your 401(k)

When your employer offers a 401(k) plan, you have a great opportunity to save for retirement. You’ll want to contribute at least enough to get the full employer match, if your employer offers one. Beyond that, here are some ways to know how much to allocate to your plan. Decide how much you’ll need It helps to first decide how much money you think you’ll need to live on after retirement. You’ll also want to consider other sources of income you may receive, like Social Security benefits. (If you have a partner, it’s good to plan together, but you probably [ read more ]

What Not to Do on Your Facebook Small Business Page

November 2nd, 2017 Comments Off on What Not to Do on Your Facebook Small Business Page

More entrepreneurs are tapping into the world’s largest social media network: There are more than 70 million businesses now on Facebook, up from about 18 million in 2013, according to Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg during a recent investor call. Facebook gives businesses a platform to showcase new products and services, promote specials and provide customer service. But with these benefits comes the potential for mistakes that can damage your brand. Here are five common small-business mistakes to avoid on your Facebook business page. 1.) Don’t post too often Most industries should aim to post no more than once or twice a day to [ read more ]

3 Reasons You Need An Automatic Savings Plan

October 5th, 2017 Comments Off on 3 Reasons You Need An Automatic Savings Plan

“Save money” is a timeless bit of personal finance advice, but actually doing it can be another story. If you need a way to boost your savings and stay consistent with your goals, setting up an automatic funds transfer can help. There are two ways you might do this. You can set up a transfer from your checking to a savings or investment account at your financial institution. Another method can be having a portion of your paycheck directed into a retirement or other account by your employer, if possible. Here’s a closer look into why saving this way might [ read more ]

Mobile Apps Make Depositing Checks a Snap

September 21st, 2017 Comments Off on Mobile Apps Make Depositing Checks a Snap

As routine financial tasks move online, you may have fallen out of the habit of banking at a branch office. If so, receiving a paper check can be a hassle, requiring a special trip just to deposit it. Thankfully, mobile depositing is now widely offered by banks and credit unions, allowing you to put that refund from the cable company or birthday check from your uncle into your account without having to go to a branch. How it works Financial institutions that offer remote depositing generally do so through smartphone apps. Although the procedure can vary, in most cases you [ read more ]

Is Fall the Best Time to Buy a House?

September 7th, 2017 Comments Off on Is Fall the Best Time to Buy a House?

Sometimes it’s smarter to buy certain items according to the season, like sweaters near the end of winter and swimsuits in late summer. But what’s the best season for buying a house? The answer: the fall. As temperatures cool and trees shed their leaves, enough factors break in the buyer’s favor to make it the No. 1 season for homebuying. Here’s why. Less competition Many homebuyers are families who want to minimize a move’s effect on their kids’ schooling. They want them to start at a new school on the first day, not midyear. And so if their spring and summer searching didn’t [ read more ]

How to Plan and Finance Home Improvements

August 24th, 2017 Comments Off on How to Plan and Finance Home Improvements

Once the thrill of becoming a homeowner wears off, reality sets in. Your home is likely to be the biggest single investment you’ll make in your lifetime. If you want to preserve its value over time, that means doing regular maintenance. Know what to expect Mortgage finance company Freddie Mac has a useful checklist to help you plan for regular upkeep, and you should also expect periodically to do larger home improvement projects like replacing the roof. Keep a budget Predicting maintenance costs is tricky, but some experts suggest setting an annual budget of 1% to 4% of your home’s [ read more ]

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