6 Things to do with your Tax Refund

Saving money is kind of like eating a healthy diet. You know you should do more of it, but it’s hard to resist making spur-of-the-moment choices that make you happier immediately but worse off later. A tax refund marks a great chance to get into a better financial position for the future.

6 ways to save with your Tax Refund

  1. Create an emergency fund

Many homeowners don’t have enough in savings in case of a sudden financial need. A lack of savings leaves you vulnerable to a job loss, medical emergency or major repair and can force you to carry high credit card balances for an extended period of time. Using your refund to start an emergency fund could leave you breathing easier should one of those events arise.

  1. Pay off debt

If you are carrying a credit card balance, consider using your tax refund to pay that off. Going this route allows you to save more money every month once those minimum payments vanish from your list of bills.

  1. Save for retirement

What better way to sock money away for retirement than by using funds that aren’t a part of your paycheck anyway? You’ll probably be grateful that you had the foresight to save for retirement rather than spend it on something you’d have long since forgotten about.

  1. Seed the college fund

If you have children or grandchildren, you’d be doing them a huge favor by saving your refund in a college fund for their benefit. You would then be able to help them afford a higher education in an era where rising costs leave many saddled with massive debt along with their diploma

  1. Make home improvements

If you live in an older home, spending some of that refund around the house can lower your energy bills. Replacing old windows can improve the efficiency of your air conditioning and replacing old appliances can help you use less energy too.

  1. Buy life insurance

Life insurance can be easy to overlook, but for those who are married with families, a term life policy can provide protection for loved ones at a relatively low cost. For the cost of a few hundred dollars, your tax refund can allow your family to maintain its standard of living if the unthinkable happens.

5 Things You Didn’t Know About Buying a Habitat for Humanity Home

Habitat for Humanity works as a non-profit organization across the globe to help the communities and provide a comfortable home to those who need it. That said, it’s important to understand how this program works and what can help you qualify for Habitat homes if you’re interested in the matter. 

Essentially, we help families buy a house at a rather fair market value price without the down payment or interest mortgage. But to understand the whole homeownership program a bit better, let’s dive into it in more detail.

  1. Who Can Get a Habitat Home?

The first thing you have to understand is that we offer a Habitat for Humanity house for sale – not as a gift. As such, we’re not talking about getting anything; if you qualify for the program, you buy a home for yourself and your family. All with considerable benefits, as mentioned. So, how do you qualify for Humanity home? Essentially, there are several qualification criteria that you have to meet. These are as follows:

  • Your annual employment income can’t be less than $40,000 (location-dependent)
  • The maximum income of the entire household depends on the number of household members
  • The children in the family are younger than 18
  • At least one household member must have a full-time job (35-hour week)
  • The member working full-time has to have a consistent full-time working history for 2 years past
  • You mustn’t be in the possession of another real estate at the time
  • You’ve been living in the city where you want to apply for the home for two years minimum
  • Every household member is a recognized citizen or permanent resident of the country where you apply
  • You have no debts in Collections
  • It’s necessary to have at least $2,000 in any type of savings account
  • The Consumer Proposal should be in its final year (looked into on a case-by-case basis)
  • Debt balance and monthly debt payments can be considered for qualification

If you live alone with an annual income of, let’s say $40-60,000, you can probably lead a comfortable lifestyle. But when you have to take care of a whole family, kids and all, on that paycheck, things can become rather challenging. A lot of families find it impossible to get a place for themselves and continue living in rentals. This is where Habitat for Humanity housing can help your family settle down in a true home where your kids can grow up and put their roots down.

The Consumer Proposal

  1. What Is a Habitat House and Is It Good Quality?

A Habitat house is just like any other house designed to meet the modern lifestyle requirements of an average family. That said, the quality is good! There’s no compromise when it comes to this matter. It’s our goal as a global organization to make sure that the build house program we participate in meets all of the design requirements and specifications of the community in question.

The contractors, trades, and volunteers we bring in for work are all experienced and skilled in what they do, from electricity and plumbing to things such as painting, dry-walling, landscaping, etc. 

At every site, we have professional construction supervisors who make sure that everything proceeds smoothly and properly as well as provide volunteer guidance together with other Crew Leaders. 

Our Crew Leaders are experienced volunteers who have been on many building projects with us already and have gone through special training to effectively manage other volunteers and ensure that the build is successful and top-quality.

Of course, just like with all other new homes, Habitat homes also go through a thorough inspection and approval process. Not only do we build quality homes that are meant to last but we also put effort into creating energy-efficient homes that maintain great market value.

  1. Is Habitat for Humanity for Third-World Countries Only?

Habitat for Humanity operates globally. This includes third-world countries, but we’re not limited to them, quite the contrary. 

That said, we build homes in the whole of the US and Canada, many countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, plenty of countries in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, as well as a considerable number of countries in Asia and the Pacific. After all, we recognize that housing is a global issue and hope to make a difference worldwide. 

As the gap solution between renting and buying a house traditionally, we want to clear the road to homeownership for more families who simply can’t purchase a home but need a way to get out of the cycle of renting, regardless of their location in the world.

  1. There Are Other Benefits Aside Home Ownership

If help for buying a house is what you seek, the help you’ll get – and much more! For starters, a Habitat house allows you to calculate the monthly housing costs, which makes it incredibly simpler and easier to save money in the long run, manage your budget, and make some future plans. Furthermore, mortgage payments build equity. 

That said, if you ever decide to sell your home back to Habitat for Humanity, you sure can; and you get to take your equity to purchase another home on the market elsewhere.

There’s no need to worry about rent or potential fluctuations in the payment rates. Most importantly, you’re in complete control of your own home as there’s no landlord to impose their rules. 

This also means that you don’t have to wait for anyone else to take charge of matters within your home, be it fixing something or having to ask for permission to personalize this space however you desire. Yes, only your imagination and creativity are the limit when it comes to how your new home will look like.

  1. How to Get a Habitat for Humanity Home

If this sounds amazing and it feels like you can benefit from this project a lot, all that’s left for you to do is go through the process of buying a Habitat home. We have already listed the qualification criteria for you to check out but there’s also the Eligibility Quiz. Taking this quiz can quickly tell you whether you meet the basic criteria of this program. If you’re approved for this affordable mortgage deal, you’ll be invited to watch an Information Session to learn more about the program’s details. 

Of course, just like you have to meet our requirements to qualify for a Humanity home, we have to meet yours. And in case you decide that the offer is a good fit for you and your family, all that’s left is to submit an application and wait for the final approval!

Habitat for Humanity works with people from around the world in order to provide communities with safe and secure homes. At the moment, we build houses in more than 70 countries across the globe and are proud to say that we’ve helped almost 30 million people improve their living conditions since 1976. Don’t hesitate to check out our website or reach out to us to learn more about what we do and how we make a difference. 

Buying a Home During COVID-19 – Things to Consider

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the way we go about our everyday lives has changed drastically and many people who were considering buying a home before the outbreak now have quite a number of questions regarding the process.

Among the most common questions are probably Is it a good time to buy property? or Will house prices drop? We have to say that these are all legitimate and in this article, we’ll do our best to give our readers the answers they need. 

First of all, since the beginning of the pandemic, the real estate industry has been considered as a “Critical Sector.” This means that certain security measures have to be applied to fight the spreading of the virus. 

The only problem is, buying a house during the pandemic still requires a lot of face-to-face interactions, so here a few things you should keep in mind before you start looking for your next home. 

Virtual Tours

In most places, open houses have been suspended. As the option of an open-house showing is currently not available (or not recommended), some realtors replaced them with virtual tours via their websites, Zoom, or Facebook Live. On the other hand, virtual tours are highly advised and have significantly improved since before the outbreak. Tours are now more in-depth and show both the inside of the house along with the outside and the surrounding areas. 

Virtual Tours

Showings and Safety Measures

Schedule a showing only if you are serious. Since realtors have to comply with the new safety measures, showings are recommended to be scheduled only when buyers are serious about the purchase and want to become homeowners. You may also be asked to drive separately from the realtor and practice social distancing during the showing (stand 6 feet apart from each other). Also, if you are feeling sick before the showing, consider rescheduling the event. 

During the Showing 

In most cases, only one person is allowed in the home at a time with the agent. Realtors should also provide masks, foot covers, disposable gloves, and hand sanitizer. Buyers are highly encouraged to walk with their hands in their pockets to avoid touching surfaces. 

Be Responsible

Even though realtors have strict guidelines to stick to when it comes to safety, you should also set your own boundaries and convey them to your agent before scheduling a showing.

Some processes may be exclusively online, while closings may also differ – pre-approvals, disclosures, and purchase agreements will mostly happen online. Closing companies may also choose to conduct their processes remotely, while some will still to them in person. When the latter is the case, social distancing is still a must.

What About Prices? 

So far, there’s an evident drop in property transactions, along with property prices too. However, experts are commenting that the latter may just be a short-term effect and that house prices will bounce back. Also, luxury estates are more affected by the pandemic price-wise than lower-priced properties. 

The Takeaway

The processes involved in buying a house have changed, and safety measures should be practiced at all times, even though most things happen online. On the other hand, the biggest concern in buying a house might just be the uncertainty of the economy. If you are financially affected by the pandemic, it’s best to wait a bit until your finances are back in check again.