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AFCU & You Blog

If you’re making major life moves—getting married or having kids—and starting to get the home buying itch, consider asking yourself these four questions:

How healthy is my credit score?

A mortgage can be one of the biggest financial obligations you’ll ever take on. Don’t add to that burden by paying a high interest rate.  It’s a fact that the lower your credit score is, the higher your interest rate will likely be. It’s important to boost your score before even thinking about borrowing.

One way to help boost your score is to get current on credit card and loan payments. No one is saying that you can’t have any debt before you buy a home. But, depending on how much of your income is going to pay debts, you may not get approved for a mortgage.

How much do I have in my savings accounts?

Before you’re even in position to buy, it’s important to feel confident you can continue contributing to other financial goals while having a house payment. The last thing you want is a large mortgage that takes away from your retirement plans or emergency savings. On top of staying financially secure you should be prepared to put down 15 to 20 percent on a home.

Have I accounted for ALL the costs of a home?

Your mortgage payment isn’t the only thing you’ll be paying when you become a home owner. It includes taxes, insurance, utilities, periodic repairs and regular maintenance. You can expect to pay one to four percent of your home’s value on maintenance per year, according to U.S. News, on things such as lawn care, gutter cleaning, snow removal, pest control, etc.. The cost of home ownership can quickly snowball.

To help get a feel for what you may pay as a home owner, look at local tax records and talk to others you know that own a home about estimates of what they pay for maintenance each year. Plug the numbers into your budget and see how they fit.

How long do I plan to live here?

When looking at buying a home, think about your future, will your housing needs be the same as your current ones? Are you expecting to grow your family? Will you be changing jobs? Factor in these possibilities, if you are anticipating a lot of unknowns, it may be better to hold off on buying a home. Buying should be something you’re committed to for the long haul.

To check mortgage rates and apply for a loan, click here. To speak with a knowledgeable mortgage team member, call 800-795-2325 option 7.

Aerospace Federal Credit Union member, Luis "Rudy" R. is the winner of four tickets to Disneyland! New members who opened a Savings and Checking Account (or existing members who opened a Checking Account) between March 21, 2018 - April 30, 2018 were automatically entered into a drawing to win four Disneyland® Park Hopper tickets. Thank you to everyone who participated in the drawing. We hope our products help you achieve your financial goals. Have fun at Disneyland, Luis and congratulations!

For more details on our fee-free Checking Accounts click here.

If you want to give a graduation gift that is always appreciated, give cash. If you want to give a gift that will help your grad save cash, though, you’ll need to give it a little more thought.

Any of the following gifts would be appropriate for a college graduate heading out into the world, and most would work for high school graduates as well.

1. An Instant Pot. Your grad may be living on a rice-and-beans budget. Here’s an appliance that can make perfect rice every time and turn rock-hard dried beans into toothsome tenderness in 15 minutes — no overnight soak required. The Instant Pot takes the place of a bunch of other appliances, a huge plus for tiny apartments. The starter version (about $79) is a pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, saute pan, steamer and warmer. More expensive versions add functions, allowing you to make your own yogurt, bake a cake and sterilize stuff.

2. Roadside assistance. If your new grad’s car is a jalopy, roadside assistance can help ensure he’s not stranded in the middle of the night in the middle of nowhere. It generally covers things like fixing a flat, starting a battery, opening the car if the keys are locked inside, delivering gas, and towing the car to a repair shop. Basic roadside assistance coverage typically costs $40 to $60 per year by itself, but it comes standard with some new car warranties, and some credit cards include the benefit. It can also be added on to many auto insurance policies.

3. A SodaStream. Help your grad save a ton of money, as well as the environment, by making carbonated beverages easily at home. Starter kits cost around $80 for the dispenser, soda bottles and coupon or rebate for the carbonator cylinder. You also can buy special syrups to create various soft drink flavors, but the sparkling water is lovely on its own.

4. Stainless steel bottles. Upgrade your grad from the cheap plastic giveaways he’s been using to the adult version: insulated bottles that can be used for hot beverages or cold. Klean Kanteens are a great option, with different tops to use as coffee mugs or water bottles. The bottles cost about $30, while the tops are $8 and $6, respectively.

5. WeMo smart plugs. Again, a way to save money and the environment: Put lights, electronics and appliances on timers. WeMo plugs ($30 to $40) are inserted into regular outlets and controlled via a smartphone app (or by voice, if the user has a digital assistant such as the Amazon Echo or Google Home). In addition to setting up schedules, these plugs can be turned off and on remotely or at random (with an “away” mode designed to confuse potential intruders) and synced to external events such as sunrise and sunset.

6. A popcorn popper. Give the gift of a healthy, cheap snack that’s almost universally loved and dead easy to make. Air poppers (around $25) are a great choice, or you can get collapsible silicone versions like the Lekue ($19) that pop popcorn in the microwave.

7. A wine preserver. A gadget that reseals a bottle of wine after it’s been opened is obviously a more appropriate gift for the college graduate than someone under the legal drinking age. But skip the oenophile versions that cost hundreds of dollars — your grad likely can’t afford the good stuff that could justify such a splurge. The budget Vacu Vin Wine Saver is well-regarded and typically costs around $10, so you can buy a few.

The article Seven Gifts That Help Your Grad Stash More Cash originally appeared on NerdWallet.

 

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The information provided by Aerospace Federal Credit Union is for informational purposes only and does not constitute personal financial, investment, or tax advice. For advice on your particular financial situation, you should consult with your personal financial, investment, and/or tax advisors. The opinions and statements of authors and commenters on this Blog are not the opinions or statements of the Credit Union or the Board of Directors, and the Credit Union takes no responsibility for their content.