Back to the Beginning: Shannon Shares Some of Her Favorite Posts

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Do you ever land on a blog that’s new to you and feel like you’re in the middle of a discussion that’s already been going on for awhile? Then you go back to older posts to familiarize yourself with the conversation so you can get in the loop? It’s no easy task, especially for blogs that have been around for several years.

Given the way content on a blog flows like a stream, it’s pretty easy to find yourself in this situation. That’s why we decided to publish the Back to the Beginning Series. Ben, Claire, and I will be sharing with your our personal favorite ReadyForZero blog posts so you can gain familiarity with our blog and so we can revisit some of our favorite topics. Even if you’re a long-time reader, we hope this series will bring to light some tips and information you may have forgotten about!

So grab some popcorn or a cup of coffee and relax while I take you through some of my personal favorite posts. I hope it’s as fun and interesting for you to peruse as it was for me to compile!

Reader Perspective Series

From Searching to Closing: 14 Need-To-Knows About Buying a House

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This is a guest post by Lisa, a longtime ReadyForZero Blog reader who has had many years of experience in the real estate industry. She was kind enough to share some of her best advice with our readers. Enjoy the tips below, and if you ever see Lisa in the comments section, be sure to say hi!

In this post, I’ll describe some of the best tips and insights I’ve learned about buying a house. If you are in the process of buying a house, or if you think you may want to buy one someday, then read on:

Before Your Offer:

Here are things you should think about before you make an offer on a property:

1. If you can’t afford a down payment, you probably can’t afford a house. There are a few reasons for this. For one thing, you will no longer have the luxury of having the landlord make repairs. You will need to have fluid cash for an emergency fund (it’s not wise to count on lines of credit). Instead, try to have at least 10% down, and aim for a 15 year fixed mortgage if possible.

2. Do your homework before purchasing any property. Most houses have a tax value history and possibly a sales history available on the auditor’s site for that area. Knowing what the auditor values it at can keep you from overpaying, and knowing what the seller paid can give you a strategic advantage when purchasing.

What Is the Statute of Limitations on Debt?

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Debt can very much feel like a “forever” thing. In the beginning of my debt journey (which is still going on, thanks to student loans), I struggled to imagine a time when I’d be debt free. But one thing I didn’t know was that debt can have an expiration date.

The name of this expiration date is a statute of limitations. The statute of limitations dictates a time frame in which a creditor can sue you for the repayment of unpaid debt. This time frame varies per state and per debt category.

While the idea of a statute of limitations sounds straightforward, the reality of enforcing it is anything but. Every point in the process carries the potential for confusion: from when the clock starts ticking to how your state categorizes your debt to which state you can get sued in. Below is a guide to what you need to know about the statute of limitations so you can break through the confusion.

The Secret To Financial Success? Time.

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Time and Money. Two things there never seems to be enough of. And now it turns out that one may be intrinsically linked to improving the other.

How so? A recent study done by Magnify Money and Stanford professor Philip Zimbardo explores the relationship between financial knowledge and financial behavior. Surprisingly, the results don’t point to a higher level of financial knowledge equating to better financial decisions. Rather, the simple tool of time is what they found to be the key to good financial behavior.

What Motivates You To Pay Off Your Debt? Zina Shares Her Story

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Despite the common  goal of reaching zero, the road to debt free is different for everyone. With differing circumstances and even personalities, what works for one person in repayment isn’t guaranteed to work for someone else.

That’s why personalized motivators can be an effective tool against your debt. Not only do they help to fuel the (your) journey, they also connect you with the greater purpose of paying off your debt! Yes, it’s important to understand what the goal is but it’s also important to touch base with why you want to achieve it. Motivators can also add accountability and direction to your goal.

Headshot (2)That’s why we’re thrilled to share an interview with Zina Kumok, a young woman who has used personal motivators to guide (and accelerate) her goal of paying off $28,000 in student loan debt in just 3 years! She blogs about the journey on her site, Debt Free in Three and is slated to reach zero debt in November of this year. Read on to learn how she’s used accountability, prioritization, and travel goals to help her along the way!

What inspired you to pay off your debt in three years?

During my first job out of college I was often visiting my boyfriend who lived 3 hours away. I was living alone and found that I couldn’t really pay more than the minimum amount on my student loans. It killed me to think that I would have these loans for the next decade. Once I moved to the same city as my boyfriend (now fiance), I was able to put more money toward my loans. My “three-year” debt payoff plan is 3 years from the time I started paying them back (Nov. 2011 – 6 months after my college graduation).

What Is a Line of Credit?

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One of the most frustrating things about personal finance is the sheer volume of vocabulary one has to learn in order to understand their options. As if it wasn’t difficult enough to understand how everything works in the first place, you have to also memorize a multitude of terms and learn how they differ from one another. And just to add a little spice to an already complex recipe, many banks and lenders add their own spin on these terms to make their products seem more compelling. Some basic terms include…

IRA
Roth IRA
Mutual Funds
Index Funds
Money Market
CD
HELOC
Line of Credit

…and the list goes on and on. And these basic terms will look even more obscure once your bank’s marketing department gets a hold of them. Thanks to my early career in banking, I still have these terms rolling around my head when I think about personal finance. The good news is I can now share my knowledge with you! First up: Line of Credit.

How to Organize Your Environment To Stay Motivated

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Were you to wander into my apartment, there are a few things you’d probably notice right away.

  • Firstly, this girl has a lot of organized piles of stuff
  • Secondly, there are NO dirty dishes in her sink (though, there are squirrel salt & pepper shakers)
  • Thirdly… actually, she has a weird amount of squirrel related items.

Ah, quite the peek into my living space. While these facts don’t give a ton of information, I can tell you that those three observations are a pretty revealing look into the way I use my environment to help me stay motivated. Say, huh? Piles, clean dishes, and squirrels are supposed to showcase motivational cues? Sure! Here’s what I mean…

It’s taken me quite a while but I’ve realized how the environment I create around me can completely steer my focus – for better or for worse. When I’m in a place I feel comfortable in, watch out world – I’m on a mission! When I’m someplace that’s uncomfortable or chaotic… let’s just say I’m less likely to believe that I can reach for those stars. Thus, the more I organize my environment to my liking, the more likely I am to stay motivated and on task.

Topics We’re Talking About: Personalizing Your Approach to Finance

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We all know we should save more. We all know we should spend less. After all, that’s the key to financial prosperity, right? For some. But personal finance isn’t one size fits all. In order to build a solid financial foundation it’s important to define what kind of financial house you want to build! Incorporating your unique circumstances plus your strengths (and your weaknesses) into your financial philosophy will help you define your goals and establish confidence in your decisions. We’re all one of a kind – so it makes sense our financial plans will differ, too!

This week, I rounded up the top picks for posts to help you set out your own personal financial philosophy. Enjoy!

Double the Debt? Piggyback Mortgages On The Rise

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“The more things change, the more they stay the same.”

Although the global economy is cyclical, we as consumers have the ability to control our outcomes by learning from the past. Unfortunately, a recent rise in home equity borrowing shows that, for better or worse, consumers are once again feeling more comfortable using their homes as leverage for their finances. One particularly frightening type of borrowing on the rise is in piggyback mortgages:

“A type of mortgage where a second mortgage or home equity loan is taken out by a borrower at the same time the first mortgage is started or refinanced. Piggyback mortgages are frequently used to lower the loan-to-value ratio (LTV) of a first position mortgage to under 80%, thereby eliminating the need for private mortgage insurance (PMI).” – Investopedia

You might wonder why this is a problem – PMI is undoubtedly an expense that should be avoided and many homeowners choose home ownership over renting so they can have the flexibility to do this kind of borrowing. But using your home as collateral for any type of borrowing is a risky gamble – and one that could lead to underwater mortgages or, worse, loss of the home. Below we’ll talk about this latest trend and an alternative means to achieving your homeownership dreams.

Affordable Travel, Getting Your Mind Right, and Checking In: Our Best Posts from June

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We’re starting an exciting new trend at ReadyForZero, one we almost wonder why it took us so long to do. Each month we’ll share some of our most notable blog posts from the past month. While all of our blog posts have a special place in our hearts, there are a few that we think are worth a second (or third!) glance. So, if you’ve been traveling and enjoying the warm weather in June, you can still see some of what you may have missed…

Without further ado, here are some of our best posts from June 2014.