Veteran, a new year is upon us. Think back on where you have been. Think now on what you have learned and how you have changed. What do the years ahead hold for you?
We all know about New Year’s resolutions. We know that the mark of a new year is the symbolic chance to improve, to change. If you are a veteran or active service member homeowner, that home might be just the vehicle you need to push your life into a state of added happiness. If you are not yet a homeowner, see how you can adapt these resolutions to your circumstances: you just might find the means to get into that new home.
6 Resolutions for 2014
What follows are some suggested resolutions for 2014. These resolutions will help you use your home as a vehicle to greater financial security.
- Pay extra on your home. The monthly principal and interest on a $150,000 mortgage with a 30-year term and an interest rate of 5.5 percent totals $852. Paying an extra one-twelfth of that amount, or $71, each month would increase the payment to $923, but also shorten the term by five years and one month and cut the interest expense by $30,789.
- Pay off credit card debt or a second mortgage.The freedom from that additional debt and interest expense can be well worth the effort. Make a few sacrifices. Learn to save. Putting something away each month can add to a strong credit rating and always gives you options in an uncertain financial world.
- Get a VA mortgage loan refinance to decrease your payment or lock in a low fixed rate. A surprising number of Americans continue to carry VA loan interest rates that are a full point or more higher than what they could currently get in a low-interest refinance. If you are a qualified veteran or active service member and you haven’t seriously looking into the Veterans home loan market, you owe it to yourself to investigate a VA home loan or VA refinance with an industry leader.
- Challenge your property tax assessment. If your house has declined in value in recent years, save money by contesting your property tax assessment. This is not a strategy for everyone, but many areas of the country continue to labor under suppressed home values. For example, if your home’s property value is 40% lower than it once was, your taxes should technically be 40 percent lower than they once were. Look into your property tax assessor’s website for information regarding assessment dates and appeals.
- Reduce Homeowner’s Insurance. Looking back can be forward-thinking for 2014, at least when it comes to your homeowners insurance. Here’s why. Major repairs or improvements that you made to your home last year can get you a discount or a lower quote on this year’s coverage. Call your agent or carrier and make sure your file is current with the latest information about your home. It never hurts to make that call.
- Pay your bills on time. Regular and consistent bill paying is an excellent way to strengthen your credit score. A high score can let you borrow money at a lower interest rate and on more attractive terms. If you’ve already missed a few mortgage payments, make a resolution to get and stay current as soon as you can. Older credit problems count for less, so poor credit performance won’t haunt you forever.”
The truly great thing about making real New Year’s resolutions is it breathes new life into the stale or ordinary. We all get into a rut sometimes. Challenge yourself here. Setting and keeping meaningful resolutions for 2014 can move you financially forward.