Your Handy Summer Home Maintenance Checklist

Believe it or not, we’re already half way through the dog days of summer.

With fall right around the corner, you’ve likely checked off most things on your summer bucket list by now but how about your summer home maintenance checklist?

If you’ve been busy having too much summer fun for summer cleaning and organizing – never fear. Inlanta is here to provide you with your go-to summer home maintenance checklist.

Follow the list below to get your home clean and in order!

  • Inspect your air conditioner
  • Check and replace batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors
  • Deep clean your grill
  • Spruce up your outdoor space
  • Add a layer of mulch to boost curb appeal, keep weeds at bay, and retain water for your plants
  • Pressure wash the outside of your home
  • Update/refresh your home décor
  • Wash your windows
  • Clean out the garage
  • Declutter your space and donate unwanted items
  • Harvest and prepare your garden for fall
  • Clean and store your summer gear

We hope you enjoy these last few weeks of summer!

Buying a Home Despite Student Debt

Whether you’ve just graduated or have been making those pesky monthly payments for a while, student loan debt can be heavy, burdensome and downright defeating.

The weight of Student loan debt doesn’t have to affect other areas of life – such as buying a home. If you’ve been dreaming about homeownership, but aren’t sure exactly how you can obtain such dream while having student loan debt, we’ve got some tips for you:

1. Talk to your Local Mortgage Pro for Advice

First and foremost, talk to a local mortgage pro as early as possible, whether you’re looking to buy a house this year or a few years down the road, to learn more about where your finances need to be to buy a home. Your mortgage pro will be able to tell about the different loan programs available, and what down payment assistance and other first-time homebuying programs may be available to help you achieve the dream of homeownership sooner, and more easily.

2. Don’t Neglect your Payments

There’s one simple rule you must follow: make your student loan payments on time, every time. Missing a payment or even making a payment late could hinder your credit score, which is a key factor in evaluating your home-buying readiness. As difficult as it can be to make those payments, it is important to understand the negative impact it can have on your financial future. Setting up monthly auto payments is a great way prevent any potential issues.

3. Focus on Building Good Credit

Having a good credit score is essential when applying for a mortgage. It provides your lender with a form of proof that you are a responsible borrower and good candidate to repay the loan. Work to build that good credit by staying below your credit card limits, making payments on time and swiping responsibly. Check out a few more tips on building and maintaining healthy credit.

4. Evaluate your DTI

DTI (Debt to Income) ratio is another important factor in determining your readiness to buy a home. Your lender will review your finances to determine your DTI by evaluating see how much debt you have vs. how much pretax income you are bringing in. Talk to your lender about your DTI to determine where you need to be to buy a home. Check out our step-by-step guide to reduce debt to get started.

Bottom Line:

If you’ve got student loan debt, you’re not alone. According to the Student Loan Hero website, about 45 million Americans currently owe more than $1.56 trillion in student loan debt. While it’s a burden to many, it doesn’t have to prevent you from achieving your dream of homeownership. Start working early with an Inlanta mortgage advisor you help determine your financial path to make it happen.

To learn more about the mortgage process or to find a mortgage advisor in your area, contact us today. Discover how we’ve already worked with borrowers like you to evaluate their unique financial situations and how we helped make their dreams of homeownership come true.


Top Tips to Build and Maintain Healthy Credit

7 Tips to Build and Maintain Healthy Credit

Building and maintaining healthy credit is important. A good credit score can help you achieve some of your biggest financial dreams, like owning a home or even starting your own business.

If you’re like most people, your credit score isn’t perfect – and that’s ok! There are plenty of steps you can take to begin building and maintaining solid credit.

Here are our top tips to help you build and maintain a healthy credit score:

  1. Swipe Responsibly

    A good rule of thumb for building solid credit is to only borrow what you can afford to pay back. This means, only using your credit card if you have enough available in your bank account to pay the balance off in full right away. It is also good practice to leave your credit card at home if you’re heading out shopping or somewhere you will be tempted to spend.

  2. Stay Below Your Limit

    Experts recommend keeping your credit spending at about 30% of your maximum balance. Avoid maxing out your credit cards to keep you in a good place financially and out of debt.

  3. Start Small

    If you are just starting to build your credit, do your research and begin with opening only one card. The last thing you will want to do is open a number of new cards, creating additional debt to keep track of.

  4. Never Miss a Payment

    Missed credit card payments not only leave you behind in debt but also show lenders that you have a track record of being financially irresponsible. This can negatively affect your future when it comes to, for example, wanting to purchase a home as you are more likely to be approved if you have a healthy credit history and a higher credit score.

  5. Pay More than your Minimum Due

    If you’ve had a credit card for some time now, it is likely you also have built a balance on that card. This is not necessarily a bad thing for building credit, as long as you are consistently making payments on-time every month. If you are unable to pay off your balance in full, you’ll want to make sure you are paying more than the minimum payment due in order to pay off your balance as quickly as possible to help improve your credit score and avoid pesky interest payments.

  6. Build a History

    If you’ve just opened a new card, plan to keep it long-term to help you display a solid history of creditworthiness. Lenders appreciate at least a few years of experience in maintaining timely payments and the longer you keep your card, the more likely your credit score will increase.

  7. Regularly Review your Account History

    Take some time to review what you are spending money on. If you find yourself swiping your card every time you grab a latte in the morning, you likely aren’t using your credit wisely. Try designating your credit card for emergencies or basic needs such as groceries and gas to help promote good spending habits. Also, keep an eye out for any types of fraudulent purchases; if you notice anything strange, notify your credit card company immediately to save yourself from financial distress.

Four Ways to Help you get Out of Debt in 2019

Four Ways to Help you get Out of Debt in 2019

Dealing with debt can be overwhelming and straining on your finances. If it is your goal to be debt free in 2019, take a look at our top tips.

  1. Set a Firm Budget – First and foremost, evaluate your income, debt and expenses, then set a firm budget using those numbers. This is a great way to figure out exactly how you’re currently spending your money, and where you are being frivolous, to help know where to make adjustments. If your income doesn’t cover your expenses, it may be time to consider asking for a raise at work, taking on a second job, or adjusting your lifestyle to live below your means and focus on paying off debt.
  2. Use the “Debt Snowball” Method – If you haven’t heard of this debt reduction strategy, the debt snowball method presented by money management expert Dave Ramsey provides a plan to pay off debts in order of smallest to largest, then as debts are paid, rolling that money into the next smallest balance. Here’s Ramsey’s process:
  • Step 1: List your debts from smallest to largest.
  • Step 2: Make minimum payments on all your debts except the smallest.
  • Step 3: Pay as much as possible on your smallest debt.
  • Step 4: Repeat until each debt is paid in full.
  1. Streamline & Simplify – Create an “automated budget” by setting up auto-payments for each paycheck to cover your bills and add to your savings account. This helps avoid spending income on non-essentials because you’ve spent the money before it even gets into your “spending” account. You can also simplify your lifestyle by cutting out unnecessary spending and putting daily practices into place, like making your coffee at home or packing your lunch for work. While this step can be one the hardest of all – we all love our Starbucks — remember that this is only temporary but is necessary to help give you financial freedom to do even more in the future.
  2. Consider a Refi – if you’re a homeowner, there’s a chance you’re paying a higher interest rate than today’s rates. By refinancing to lower your interest rate, you can save money on your monthly mortgage payments that frees up cash to help pay down debt. Or, depending on how much equity you have, you could even do a cash-out refinance to pay off credit card debt, car loans, personal loans, school loans, etc.

To learn how the right mortgage can help you reduce debt, click here to contact your local Inlanta officer today!

Top Tips for a Successful Relocation

Top Tips for a Successful Relocation

Moving can be stressful. Add in relocating to an entirely new area and moving can be downright overwhelming. Never fear –Inlanta Mortgage is here to help you through the process!

Here are our top tips for a successful relocation:

  1. Leaving it all behind

Whether you own a home or are renting, make sure to give yourself and your family enough time to make arrangements to sell your home or get out of your current lease.

  • Renters: Check your rental agreement for instructions and plan on giving your landlord the required notice before you vacate the property.
  • Homeowners: Contact a trusted real estate agent in your area to discuss the necessary steps to begin the selling process. If you plan to purchase a home in a new state, be sure to contact your local Inlanta area loan officer to help you seamlessly through the process.

 

  1. Making a Budget

Are you relocating for a new job? Check with your employer to see what costs they’ll cover. Some companies will pick up moving expenses entirely, while others may reimburse you for only certain services, an established dollar amount, or not at all. Once you know what’s covered, make sure to factor in travel expenses such as hiring movers, rentals, boxes, shipping your items, gas, flight, hotel, insurance, deposits, and more.

 

  1. It’s Give or Take

Now that you have your budget, it’s time to take inventory of everything you own to determine what you value and need the most. Determine if some items would be more cost-effective to sell or leave behind, such as bulky furniture or appliances, and make a plan to get rid of them by having a garage sale, selling online, or donating them. If you’re moving yourself, be sure you have enough moving blankets, boxes and strapping tape to accommodate your stuff.

 

  1. Getting it Done

Now for the big question: Logistics. How will you move your items and your family? Are you able to move your stuff on your own, or will you need to hire professionals? This is the time to nail down your relocation process and research your options to figure out what’s right for you. Look into different truck rental companies, shipping container companies, and movers to discuss rates, advantages, disadvantages, etc., to help make your decision.

 

  1. The Big Move

Often people forget the importance of making a “day-of” moving plan. Having this plan will ensure you and your family are fully prepared and keep your moving day stress-free. Keep these things in mind:

  • What goes in the car with you? Keep your valuables and important documents with you, along with any necessary food/drink. Consider packing a bag or two of items that you’ll need immediately in your new home, such as toys for the kids, a fresh change of clothes, toiletries, electronics, bedding, etc.
  • If traveling by car, service your vehicle before you leave to avoid any potential problems while on the road. Plan ahead for directions and any cash you’ll need for tolls/stops along the way.
  • Have pets? Plan for enough food and water for the trip and for the first few days in your new home, account for potty stops along the way, and create a safe place for them to travel.
  • Make it fun! Enjoy the excitement of your trip with music, movies, and stops along the way.

 

  1. Getting Started Over

Little things for your new home, like setting up electric, cable, and phone, can be easily forgotten during a big move. Before you go, set up your utilities so that your home is ready for you when you arrive. In addition, give your forwarding information to your post office so your mail is waiting for you at your new home.

 

Once you’ve arrived at your final destination, don’t forget to update as soon as possible your personal information for all your banking, insurance, investment and credit card accounts, obtain your new driver license, vehicle registration and license plates, and update any other key identification information.

 

We hope these tips will help make your relocation a success. If you have any questions regarding the home buying process, please connect with one of our loan officers today!

Fraud Awareness and Prevention

Fraud Awareness and Prevention

Fraud, or the broad term describing wrongful or criminal deception intended to result in financial or personal gain is, unfortunately, something that happens everywhere, every day, negatively affecting the lives of many.

Fortunately, there are ways one can prevent falling victim to fraudulent acts, starting with educating oneself on the types of dangerous fraud schemes out there as well as what to watch out for.

Mortgage Fraud:

Mortgage fraud happens which is why it is crucial to work with a lender you can trust. According to stopfraud.gov, traditional mortgage fraud involves homebuyers and/or lenders falsifying information in order to obtain a home loan. Struggling homeowners are also often affected by “foreclosure rescue firms” claiming they can help these struggling individuals obtain home loans ultimately leaving them in more debt and distress. The first thing to watch out for in these situations is requests for all cash payments and to work only with credible lenders, real estate agents, and appraisers.

Other Types of Fraud:

According to FindLaw, there are many types of fraud offenses individuals can be duped by (often unknowingly) that include:

Click here to learn more and educate yourself on popular scams occurring today.

Preventing Fraud – What to Watch out for:

Some warning signs of fraud are more obvious, such as the telemarketing or internet schemes that ask you to “send money immediately” to receive an offer, or, those asking directly for your social security number.

Others can be more tricky and deceptive, even imitating people you know personally or professionally asking for help or money via email, false charity organizations asking for donations, or, pyramid schemes that offer big rewards for a “work from home” position.

Here are some things you can do to protect yourself and your family from falling victim to fraud:

  • New forms of fraud pop up every day. Educate yourself on the common scams happening presently
  • Keep your personal information confidential. Never give out personal information, such as your social security number or credit card details, over the phone, through email, or over the internet unless the contact is verified.
  • Update your passwords and PIN numbers monthly to ensure your information is secure. Make sure to use a password that is strong in security and includes letter, numbers, and symbols.
  • Check your statements and online banking records regularly to ensure there are no unusual transactions.

If you think you or someone you know has been affected by fraud, begin by reporting the issue immediately to your local police department. Otherwise, take these steps from USA.gov:

 

Helpful Tips to Successfully Utilize your Tax Refund

Helpful Tips to Successfully Utilize your Tax Refund

Tax season is here and if you’re one of the lucky ones, you’ve got a generous refund check coming your way. While it may be tempting to treat yourself to a much-needed vacation or shopping spree with the extra money in your pocket, utilizing your tax return to help you get ahead or catch up on your finances may be a better decision for you and wallet.

If you do decide to take a more financially friendly route, we’ve got some tips for you below to help make the best use of your refund.

  1. Pay Down Debt

Our #1 tip for those wanting to utilize their tax refund for financial gain would be to pay down any debt you already have. If you’ve got multiple areas of debt, start with focusing on the debt that is causing you the most financial strain, like credit cards with high-interest rates. Even if you can’t pay your balance in full, making a large payment will feel great and help you make a leap toward a debt-free life.

  1. Build your Savings

If you don’t already have a savings account, now is a great time to begin building one by using your refund money as a solid foundation. If you do already have a savings account (or two) with a specific purpose in mind such as saving to buy a home, a car, or for your dream vacation, using your tax refund to make a substantial contribution toward that goal is always a good idea.

  1. Invest in Homeownership

Are you currently saving up to buy your first home? If so, why not utilize your tax refund to get ahead on your down payment? If you’ve already got your down payment covered, you can always put the money towards closing costs or for furnishing your new place. Already a homeowner? Why not look for ways to increase your home’s value like using the extra cash to complete a home improvement project or upgrade an old appliance.

  1. Create or Add to Your “Rainy Day” Fund

A “rainy day” fund is a reserved amount of money intentionally created and set aside for unplanned emergencies, life events, or disturbances in your regular income. If you do not already have one of these “rainy day” or emergency funds set aside, using your tax refund to create one is a great idea. While it may not be the most exciting place to invest your money, having this designated account set aside as cushion can help save you from financial distress caused by an unexpected life event in the future.

  1. Take the Vacation

Hey, as long as you are not in a state of financial distress, there’s no harm in taking that vacation! With as many travel saving sites as there are out there today, chances are, you’ll be able to find a great deal and enjoy the reward of a well-deserved getaway after a year of hard work.

5 Great Ways to Give Back to Your Community

5 Great Ways to Give Back to Your Community

The holidays, especially Thanksgiving, are a time for us to pause and reflect on all of the good fortune life has bestowed upon us. We all have something we can be grateful for, and what better way to express our gratitude than to pay it forward to our communities. We’ve compiled 5 ways you can give back to your community.

  • Shop Local

Planning a shopping trip? Rather than buying your shopping at a big box store, support your local businesses and your community by taking your holiday shopping lists to your favorite local shops. The Saturday after Thanksgiving, otherwise known as Small Business Saturday, commemorates the annual shopping tradition made to support small businesses and celebrate communities everywhere. So, grab a friend or family member this Saturday and enjoy!

  • Become A Sponsor

Whether you have a student-athlete in your home or not, chances are you know someone who does. One great way to give back to your community that involves very little time and investment is to become a sponsor for a local sports team. Are the Arts more your scene? Sponsor your high school or community theatre’s upcoming production. Whatever you are passionate about, there are local organizations and events that need your financial support.

  • Volunteer

Volunteering in your local community is a great way to give back and feel great. While time and a little internet research will likely give you a variety of volunteer opportunities to choose from, you can narrow down your options by selecting a prospect that involves offering up your own set of skills, or, choose an organization that supports a specific cause you care about.

  • Get to Work

Help build a better community by rolling up your sleeves and putting yourself to work! If you are physically able, why not offer your time and energy to get involved in construction projects within your community. Try getting your hands dirty in a community garden, grabbing a hard hat to help build a home, or channeling your inner artist to help paint a mural.

  • Talk to Your Employer

Employee volunteerism is important to a lot of companies and organizations, so consider contacting your own HR department to find out ways your employer is involved with giving back to your local community. Some employers even offer incentives for giving back and volunteering on your own time.

 

 

Our Favorite Ways to Give Back

Here at Inlanta Mortgage, serving others and giving back to our local community is very important to us. In fact, Inlanta contributes to our communities year-round! Some of our favorite philanthropic charities that we give back to include the Cancer Research Institute, the Lombardi Walk/Run to Tackle Cancer, the American Red Cross, the Bryon Riesch Paralysis Foundation, the United Performing Arts Fund, the local Pewaukee Food Pantry, and more.

Inlanta just recently wrapped up our 2017 Hunger Games food drive to help support our local food pantry, collecting 2,984 items total to help fight hunger and feed our community! Inlanta is also planning to hold our second blood drive for the American Red Cross this December and is looking forward to planning other various philanthropic initiatives in 2018.

Preparing Financially for the Mortgage Process

Purchasing a home is exciting and adventurous. Home buyers, particularly first-time home buyers, typically don’t know a lot about the process of financing a home. To avoid making mistakes, you need to know what you should expect. It is important to consider the state of your credit, the additional costs besides just the down payment, and the important questions dealing with the future.

 

The Credit Aspect

Your credit score is one of the first things a lender will look at when you apply for a mortgage. To cut through all that confusion, here are five tips you can act on right now:

  • Check your credit reports for free once a year through the three credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. Why all three? Because the information in each of the three bureaus’ reports can differ. If one or all of the reports include mistakes, your credit score may be negatively affected, and you may need to address the errors before going house shopping.
  • Be strategic with credit card use. The percentage of your credit limit that you use every month can affect your score. Make sure your balance doesn’t come too close to your limit.
  • The simplest and most important tip? Pay off your balance each month. To maintain a healthy score, pay off the balance before the due date. Anything after 30 days past the due date can spell very bad news for your score.
  • Be consistent. Good credit behavior over the long term will keep your score high.
  • Don’t take on more credit. If you apply for several different credit cards, you’re sending a message that you may have maxed out your other accounts

 

Save enough for the down payment and other additional fees

You should plan to make a down payment of 3.5% – 5% at the very least when you are determining affordability. It is important to consider that down payments are not the only costs associated with the purchase of a home. Your lender should be able to provide you with a breakdown of your costs that you will be paying upfront and on a monthly basis. Here are some basic tips to help you save for the costs associated with buying a home:

  • Start a budget: Making a budget allows you to see your expenses, how much money is coming in, and what is left over to save or pay off debts. When you have a savings goal it, helps prioritize your money by eliminating or cutting down on unnecessary expenses.
  • Automate: Once you have created a budget and figured out how much you can comfortably save each month or paycheck, set up a specific amount or percentage of your paycheck to go to savings automatically. For some, it helps to open up an entirely separate savings account for their home’s down payment and expenses. This method allows you to see how much you are saving specifically for the home buying process and keeps you from accidentally spending this money on something other than your new home.
  • Increase your income: If you are worried about cutting back expenses, or just want to save for your down payment faster, consider finding ways to increase your income. Some ideas include working overtime, getting a second job, or finding alternative ways to making money such as selling items online.
  • Save any unexpected money: When you get a large sum of money, such as a bonus or your tax refund, itis all too easy to take on the extra cash and purchase that one expensive thing you’ve had your eye on for months. Instead of going on a shopping spree, take that money and put it into your savings right away to help you achieve your dream of homeownership sooner.

 

Affordability now and in the future

Regardless of the level of income you have today, you need to figure out what the future may hold before you sign on the dotted line. For example, if you’re planning to have kids sometime down the road, how will these happy additions impact your family income? What effect will job changes have on your current income level? And have you planned for monthly payments into your rainy day savings account?

Everyone who looks to buy a home will have a payment amount that is affordable today, but in the face of your answers to the questions above, will that number still work for you down the road? These are some questions to consider as you think about homeownership.

 

Feel free to talk with a loan officer in your area to determine if homeownership is the right path for you!

7 Tips to Growing Your Own Produce

7 Tips to Growing Your Own Produce

April is National Gardening Month and what better way to get into the gardening spirit than planting your own veggie and herb garden? Growing your own fruits, vegetables, and herbs has many benefits:
Cost. Growing your own fruits, veggies, and herbs will help you save money at the grocery store.
Nutrition. Produce from a store can lack in nutrients because of the journey it had to take to get there. Growing your own produce means you will be eating it when it’s the freshest and at its full nutritional value.
Organic. Having your own garden means you have full control over the amount and type of pesticides used. If you’d like, you can make it completely organic (natural pesticides or completely pesticide-free), which makes your produce healthier.
Healthy children. When children are involved in the gardening process, it can make them feel excited to eat their fruits and veggies knowing they had a hand in growing them. This helps them build healthy eating habits while they’re young and ensures they are getting the nutrition they need for healthy growth.

These are just some of the benefits of growing your own produce. Here are some tips for starting/maintaining your garden.

1.) When laying down soil, give your plants a significant amount of space to grow in and absorb nutrients from. Create raised garden beds out of wood to ensure there is enough fertile soil to give your plants nutrients. A raised bed should be rich in organic matter like aged manure, compost, or vermicomposting. If the soil does not drain well, add perlite or sand.

Via: Balcony Garden Web

 

2.) Consider spiral or U-Shape gardening. These types of beds are great if you have limited space to plant your fruits, veggies, or herbs!

Via: recycledawblog.blogspot.com

Via: brittanystager.com

 

3.) If you are planting peas, build trellises (like these teepee-shaped structures) to make harvesting and maintaining your peas easier.

Via: lillbutton2.blogspot.com

 

4.) Lay sheets of newspaper around plants before putting down mulch. The newspaper will help ensure that weeds and grass can’t come up.

Via: The Common Milkweed

 

5.) When picking a spot to start your garden, choose a spot that gets at least 6 hours of sunlight per day.

Photo Via: Country living

 

6.) The sooner you start planting your garden the sooner you will have a garden full of vegetables and fruit. Spring is an optimal time for starting, but the weather isn’t always the best. Start by planting indoors and then transplant them to your garden when the weather improves. Use this growth calendar to help create your planting timeline.

Produce Growth Calendar

Photo Via: Grow a Good Life 

 

7.) The most efficient way of watering plants in the garden is by using soaker hoses and drip lines. These watering systems deliver water directly to where it is needed and allows time for roots to absorb water. Generally, one inch of water per week, including rainfall, is sufficient for most vegetables, depending on the type of soil, weather, and plant.

Via: ericarascon.com 

partial content via: Balcony Garden Web