Your Financial Health
Much like your physical health, maintaining financial health throughout your life requires planning and consistent attention.
This section highlights some of the major events you may encounter, and provides some practical information and resources to help you financially prepare for whatever comes your way.
Buying a Home
Here are some questions you should consider to determine if you’re ready to take the leap to home ownership:
What is your Credit Score?
If you have a poor credit rating, you may be charged a higher interest rate or you may be turned down.
Credit scoring is a method of assessing the credit risk of a loan applicant. Overall, a score of 650 or above is a sign of very good credit. If your credit score is under 650, you may have trouble receiving new credit.
You can get a copy of your credit report from the three main credit reporting agencies:
By law, you’re entitled to one free credit report a year from each agency.
If you feel there are mistakes on your credit report, contact the credit reporting agency and have the report corrected.
If you have not established credit, be prepared to show the lender cancelled checks (for rent, utilities, etc.) to prove that you pay your bills on time.
Can You Afford the Monthly Mortgage Payments?
Most lenders want your monthly mortgage payment to be no more than 29% of your monthly gross income.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has a free calculator to help you determine how much you can afford to spend for a home. Visit www.hud.gov/buying.
Have You Saved Enough for a Down Payment?
If you have good credit, you may be able to buy a home with little or no money down. Keep in mind that the less you put down, the higher your monthly mortgage payment will be. And remember you’ll also need money for closing costs and possibly mortgage insurance.
There’s a free calculator to help estimate your closing costs at www.freddiemac.com.
Finding the Right Mortgage
There are many different kinds of mortgages, and it’s critical to find the one that’s best for you — for now and in the future! Before you shop for a mortgage (you should get rates from several lenders), familiarize yourself with the basics. The following web sites provide useful, unbiased mortgage information:
The High Cost of Higher Education
Although tuition costs have been rising faster than inflation rates, a higher education is still within most families' reach. The majority of college students pay tuition and room/board expenses with a combination of financial aid, loans and a good savings plan.
Here are some web sites that provide more information about ways to pay for a college education:
Saving for Retirement
- Rule #1: Social Security alone is not enough.
- Rule #2: Start saving for retirement early and save regularly.
- Rule #3: Enroll in a company retirement plan, if available. It’s the easiest way to save for retirement.
- Rule #4: As long as you’re still working and earning, it’s never too late to start saving.
Most people need professional help to create a plan and choose the right investment strategies. You can get the help you need either from your bank or from a Certified Financial Planner™ (CFP®). To find a CFP professional in your area, visit www.plannersearch.org.
Planning for a Healthy Life
- Diabetes and How It Affects You
- A Healthier You
- Keeping Your Family Healthy
- Safe at Home
- Your Financial Health
- Planning for Your Later Years
- Tough Decisions Made Easier
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