Thursday, August 31, 2017

Fix These Money Mistakes When Starting Out

It’s common to make mistakes when you’re first getting your finances in order, but learning how to manage money early on can help you throughout your life. Brianna McGurran, a personal finance columnist at, shares her tips for avoiding five common money mistakes.

Mistake #1: Not knowing where your money goes

McGurran says the number one mistake people make is not knowing where their money goes after they get their paychecks. They may be aware of basic expenses like rent, but other expenses such as groceries, eating out or travel can really add up if they’re not tracked.

“The first step toward managing your money is giving each dollar a place to go,” McGurran advises. She recommends using the 50-30-20 rule to budget your expenses.

This basic budgeting rule recommends that 50% of your take-home pay go to needs like rent, car payments, and groceries; 30% go toward wants, like a Netflix subscription or concert tickets; and the remaining 20% go toward savings and debt payments.

But remember: These are guidelines, and your allocations may fluctuate depending on your monthly necessities. “It’s more about calibrating those percentages so you’re doing what’s realistic for you,” she says.

Mistake #2: Not having an emergency fund

“You want to have an emergency fund so that you don’t have to put unexpected expenses on a credit card,” McGurran says.

If you have no emergency fund, begin by putting $500 aside and work toward an ultimate goal of saving three to six months worth of basic expenses, McGurran advises.

Your fund can be used for car repairs, medical and dental expenses that aren’t covered by insurance, and other bills you may have in the event you lose your job and don’t have money coming in.

“These are real things you need to pay for; they might not seem like an immediate emergency, but it’s something you can’t avoid and didn’t expect to come up,” McGurran says.

Mistake #3: Not saving for retirement

While it may seem hard to comprehend retirement when you’re first starting out, it’s important to start saving as early as you can to take advantage of compound interest.

“If you start saving for retirement early, you can actually save less now and have more money later, and that’s because your money compounds over time,” McGurran says.

If your job offers a retirement plan like a 401(k) with employer matching, McGurran advises contributing the maximum amount. If your company offers to match 3% of your salary in contributions and you contribute less, you’re leaving money on the table.

“Take advantage of your employer’s generosity — they want you to save for retirement so you should do it,” McGurran says.

If you don’t have an employer that offers a 401(k), considering signing up for a Roth IRA, which is a tax-free individual retirement account. You can contribute a maximum of $5,500 per year and can withdraw your money at any time, tax-free.

Mistake #4: Letting your loans snowball

Student loans are a major factor in getting your finances in shape early on, but missing payments or falling behind on your loan payments can quickly snowball and land you in deeper financial trouble.

McGurran says you should reach out to your lender if you’re having difficulty with your loan payments. You may be eligible to defer your payments or, if you have federal loans, have your payments adjusted to fit your income. If you have private loans, you may be able to refinance them to lower your interest rates and monthly payments.

McGurran recommends targeting the loans with the highest interest rates first in order to save the most money over time.

While paying off your loans is important, McGurran says you should still contribute to your emergency and retirement funds. “It’s really important to have those two things covered—your future self will definitely thank you,” she says.

Mistake #5: Ignoring your finances

While it may seem overwhelming to suddenly have so much financial responsibility, it’s important to take the time to understand your expenses and get them in line.

“Money is really overwhelming, and so it’s okay to feel like you’re lost or you need some help,” McGurran says. “But don’t feel so overwhelmed or confused that you actually ignore your money or your bills altogether.”

Understand your expenses, make a budget, and put some money aside, she advises.

“Take a deep breath and know that it’s going to be okay. You’ll get it under control,” McGurran says.

Source: Fix these money mistakes when starting out [Video]

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Where to Donate to Harvey Victims (and How to Avoid Scams) - The New York Times

A large and complicated rescue operation is underway in Houston as floodwaters continue to rise, fed by unrelenting rain.

So far, there’s no end in sight.

As a tropical storm, Harvey is expected to produce 6 to 12 more inches of rain through Friday over the upper Texas coast, where some areas — including the Houston metropolitan area — may see accumulations of up to 50 inches.

If you’re outside the affected area, here are options to help. (If you’re in Texas and displaced by the storm, here’s how to get help.)

Local organizations

The Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund of Houston’s mayor, Sylvester Turner, which is administered by the Greater Houston Community Foundation.

Houston Food Bank and the Food Bank of Corpus Christi are asking for donations.

The South Texas Blood and Tissue Center is reporting a critical shortage, and has extended hours at all of its San Antonio-area donor rooms. To donate, call 210-731-5590 or visit their website for more information.

Carter BloodCare covers hospitals in North, Central and East Texas. To donate, call 877-571-1000 or text DONATE4LIFE to 444-999.

To help animals suffering from the disaster, visit the Houston Humane Society or the San Antonio Humane Society. The Houston Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has set up an animal emergency response hotline (713-861-3010) and is accepting donations on its website.

The Texas Diaper Bank in San Antonio is asking for diapers and wipes, which can be dropped off in person or mailed to 5415 Bandera Road, Suite 504, San Antonio, Tex., 78238.

The United Way of Greater Houston flood relief fund will be used to help with immediate needs as well as long-term services like minor home repair. Visit their website to donate or text UWFLOOD to 41444.

The L.G.B.T.Q. Disaster Relief Fund will be used to help people “rebuild their lives through counseling, case management, direct assistance with shelf stable food, furniture, housing and more.” It is managed by The Montrose Center, Houston’s longtime community center for the area’s gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender population.

For more options, the Federal Emergency Management Agency recommends checking with the National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster for a list of trusted disaster-relief organizations in Texas.

Source: Where to Donate to Harvey Victims (and How to Avoid Scams) – The New York Times

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

The City of Port St. Lucie ranks among the top 10 safest cities in the U.S.

Two separate national reports have placed the City of Port St. Lucie among the top 10 safest cities in the nation. These rankings come just weeks after law enforcement statistics showed Port St. Lucie continues to be the safest large City in Florida.

Source: The City of Port St. Lucie ranks among the top 10 safest cities in the U.S.

Monday, August 28, 2017

RE Market Update - July 2017

We’ve taken monthly and annual housing market statistics straight from Florida Realtors® and created easy-to-interpret, one-page summaries for your customers in Palm Beach, St. Lucie, and Martin Counties.

Source: RAPB – Local Market Statistics

Friday, August 25, 2017

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Winning Powerball ticket sold in Massachusetts for $758.7 million jackpot

One Powerball ticket among the millions sold across the country has made someone in Massachusetts a very rich person. The winning ticket for Wednesday’s $758.7 million Powerball jackpot is the largest haul in North American history for a single winning ticket. Initially, the Massachusetts State.

Source: Winning Powerball ticket sold in Massachusetts for $758.7 million jackpot

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Jay-Z and Beyoncé land a $52.8-million mortgage for Bel-Air mansion

The rapper/hip-hop magnate and his superstar wife, through blind trusts, paid $88 million for the sprawling contemporary estate, public records now show. Also revealed in the records is that the couple is carrying a mortgage amount of $52.8 million.

Plug that into any mortgage rate calculator (we happened to used Google’s search-based calculator) and that amounts to 30 years of monthly payments at $252,075 based on an interest rate of 4%.

To put that into perspective, that’s roughly 40% of the July median sales price — $610,000 — for single-family homes in Los Angeles County, according to CoreLogic. It’s also about $50,000 more than the U.S. median home value of $200,400, according to Zillow.

Source: Jay-Z and Beyoncé land a $52.8-million mortgage for Bel-Air mansion – LA Times

Monday, August 21, 2017

NASA - Total Solar Eclipse of 2017 Aug 21

This page is part of the NASA Eclipse Website. It uses Google Maps to create an interactive map of the Total Solar Eclipse of 2017 Aug 21.

Source: NASA – Total Solar Eclipse of 2017 Aug 21

Friday, August 18, 2017

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

When to Reduce the Price of Your Home

How to tell when you need to reduce the price of your house. Tips for reducing the price; alternative strategies that work to avoid price reductions.

Source: When to Reduce the Price of Your Home

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Your Top Mortgage Questions Answered

Getting a mortgage is one of the most stressful parts of buying a home, and it can be hard to get the answers you need in order to understand the mortgage process more fully. To help, this article has put together some of the most frequently asked questions that Motley Fool members ask, along with guidance to point you in the right direction. From mortgage brokers, banks, and loan terms to rates and credit history, find out what you need to know below.

1. How much can I borrow?

Several factors go into how much you can borrow on a mortgage. Your income plays a key role, and your credit score also comes into play in determining what interest rate you’ll be able to get on your mortgage and therefore how big the monthly payments are likely to be. The type of mortgage you get also plays a factor, with some lenders limiting how much they’ll want to lend to 80% or less of the home’s value, while other special programs allow you to borrow between 95% and 100% of the value of the home if you qualify.

2. What will my monthly payments be?

What you pay each month on your mortgage depends on the length of mortgage you choose and its interest rate, along with ancillary costs you pay through your mortgage lender. The longer the repayment period, the smaller the monthly payment, so 30-year mortgages have smaller payments than 15-year mortgages. Many lenders incorporate real estate taxes into the payment you make, holding money in escrow until your tax bill comes due. This calculator can help you determine mortgage payments.

3. Do I have to pay PMI premiums?

Lenders will typically require that you obtain purchase money insurance, or PMI, if you borrow more than 80% of the value of your home. Once you’ve built up enough equity in your home to bring your mortgage below the 80% mark, then your lender should stop charging you for PMI. If your lender doesn’t, get in touch and find out the exact details on when you’ll be free from this sometimes costly insurance.

4. Should I pay down my mortgage early?

Many homeowners feel uncomfortable with their mortgage debt and see it as a huge psychological benefit to pay down their mortgages as quickly as possible. In general, though, the question to ask is what the best use of your money is. Given how low mortgage rates have been lately, paying down a mortgage essentially offers you a guaranteed return that’s relatively low. Moreover, because mortgage interest is tax-deductible for many homeowners, all you’d have to do is to find an investment that returns more than your mortgage rate to end up ahead. Still, for those who don’t want the stress of a mortgage payment, considering prepayment can be a smart move for your peace of mind even if it doesn’t always produce the best results if you focus solely on the numbers.

5. Can I deduct my mortgage interest?

Mortgage interest is deductible on purchase loans of up to $1 million and on home equity loans of up to $100,000. However, to claim the deduction, you have to itemize your deductions on your tax return. Those who take the standard deduction won’t get any extra tax benefit from mortgage interest unless it pushes them over the threshold at which it makes sense to itemize. For many homeowners, the combination of state and local real estate taxes and mortgage interest are enough to make itemizing deductions worthwhile, but it still pays to run the numbers both ways and see which way leaves you ahead.

6. Should I refinance my mortgage?

In general, refinancing a mortgage makes sense when the savings you’ll get from lower monthly payments is greater than the added costs of refinancing. Just like you do when you first get a mortgage, closing costs will include things like title insurance, real property deed recording fees, appraisals, background checks, and application fees with your bank or mortgage broker.

Usually, you’ll be able to come up with a total cost of refinancing and a monthly savings from doing so. Divide the one-time cost by the monthly savings, and you’ll know how long it will take for a refinance to pay for itself. If you plan to be in the home longer than that, it’s smart to bite the bullet. If not, it’ll be cheaper to make higher monthly payments to avoid the need to pay closing costs again.

Mortgages can be hard to understand, and these are only a few of the questions you might have. Learn more about your mortgage and you’ll be better able to get the best deal available and make it that much easier to afford the home of your dreams.

Source: Your Top Mortgage Questions Answered

Thursday, August 10, 2017

The Five Most Popular, Most Expensive Home Improvement Projects

Homeowners across the nation are not only spending more money on remodeling – they’re tackling much larger, more aesthetic and more expensive home improvement projects than five or six years ago.

Instead of just replacing a faucet and handle, they’re upgrading the whole sink (…and what good is an updated sink if it’s next to outdated cabinetry and old-fashioned tile). What’s behind this new-found feeling of homeowner wealth? Home equity. The amount of equity homeowners have is now equal to where it was in 2006, at the top of the housing market boom.

According to internal HomeAdvisor data, these are the five most popular, high-priced home improvement projects across the country – with the number one project being the most requested.

Source: The Five Most Popular, Most Expensive Home Improvement Projects – HomeAdvisor

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Monday, August 7, 2017

The $1.5 million flying car - Video - Tech.

Slovakian company AeroMobil has been developing a car capable of transforming into a plane in just three minutes. They plan on delivering the first models in 2020, if it can overcome regulatory scrutiny.

Source: The $1.5 million flying car – Video – Tech – Future

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

August Calendars | Port St. Lucie, Florida

The City of Port St. Lucie maintains three calendars on this website:

The Government Meetings  lists all government meetings, public and non-public.

The Parks & Recreation Calendar  lists all classes, events and programs by the Parks & Recreation Department.

The Civic Center Calendar  lists all rental and hospitality events at the Civic Center.

Source: Calendars | Port St. Lucie, Florida | Official Website