Monthly Archives: May 2016

Should You Buy A Home or Not ?

Are You Really Ready to Buy a Home?

Maybe, maybe not. Ask yourself these questions before deciding.

Stock image of a young couple admiring a new house.

Homeownership isn’t right for everyone.

Let’s say you’re a veteran renter and you’re getting tired of seeing your money go straight to your landlord’s bank account. You want to start building value in a home of your own and the thought of buying a house is becoming more and more tempting.

Should you do it?

It depends. Homeownership isn’t a sure path to building wealth if you’re using a mortgage like most homebuyers do. The truth is: You’ll be paying a lot and not getting anything in return in the form of mortgage interest, mortgage insurance, property taxes, property insurance, homeowners association fees and home maintenance. All of that money simply vanishes – the only part that actually builds wealth for you is the tiny fraction of your mortgage payment that goes toward your balance.

There are actually many financial and life situations where renting is by far the better deal, just as there are many financial and life situations where buying is the better deal.

One great step to take is to use this handy “rent versus buy” calculator. It’s a spectacular tool for helping you run the numbers and figure out if you’re ready to buy a home on paper. But on paper is just part of the story. Are you really ready for homeownership? Do the realities of your life make you ready?

Ask yourself these questions before deciding.

Q: Are you planning to live in the area long term?

During the first few years of a mortgage, homeowners build very little equity in their home. The portion of their mortgage payment that actually goes toward the principal of their mortgage is tiny, meaning that after a few years, you still only own a tiny fraction of your home.

Thus, if you’re only planning on living in the area for a short while, you’re almost always better off renting. The value of home ownership doesn’t reveal itself until you’ve lived there for a while.

Q: Am I able to save a significant amount each month for a down payment?

Homeownership comes with many more costs than does renting. As a renter, virtually your only bills for your living space include rent, utilities and renters insurance. If you’re a homeowner, you’re contending with your mortgage bill, mortgage insurance, property taxes, homeowners insurance, homeowners association fees and all of the maintenance costs that come with a home.

If, as a renter, your financial state is so tight that you’re unable to save much each month for a down payment, then the costs of homeownership would likely stretch your budget substantially beyond what you can afford. The ability to save a significant amount each month for a down payment is a great litmus test as to whether your finances are ready to deal with the costs of homeownership.

Q: How will my commuting costs change?

Quite often, you’ll find people who are renting properties that are fairly close to where they work, but then buy a home that’s far from work.

If buying a home means you’ll no longer be able to walk or bike to work, your commuting costs are about to skyrocket. Even if you can take mass transit from your new location, you’re still going to be footing the bill. Your reliance on a car may now go up, if your move puts you farther from grocery stores and other necessary amenities.

Include the cost of transportation changes in your calculations or else you may find yourself in a very rough spot.

Q: Am I overreaching?

Even after thinking through these questions, people still often fall in love with a home that’s simply beyond their budget. If they dive in, they may find themselves walking the tightrope for many years as they deal with the burden of an enormous mortgage and high additional expenses.

Yes, this can pay off if everything goes perfectly, but when is life perfect? If you’re buying for the first time, you’re far better off in a reasonably priced home that will still grow in value while giving you some financial breathing room as you learn the ins and outs of being a homeowner. You can certainly jump to the “dream home” later, but don’t make it your first move after renting.

Q: Do I have the time?

If you constantly find yourself pressed for time as a renter, it’s not going to get better when you move into a house that has maintenance and lawn care needs, which you’ll be solely responsible for.

Does your current schedule afford you the time to deal with tackling home repairs, mowing the lawn and tending to the greenery? If not, you should be very careful when you consider moving into a home, particularly one that belongs to a homeowners association.

Homeownership can be a very expensive proposition and it’s easy to make big missteps early on by jumping in before you’re financially ready. Take the time to make the right choice when it comes to the biggest financial decision of your life.

Having Difficulty Choosing Paint Colors ?

How Do I Choose a Wall Color?


Making design decisions for your home doesn’t have to be a hand-wringing experience. But there’s something about choosing paint colors for your walls that can seem impossible. With so many options out there, it can make you want to turn to someone else to make the final choice. Today’s Frequently Asked Home question: Which color should I paint my walls?

Consider neutrals: One easy way to go with is a with a neutral color like white, beige or gray to give your room a clean canvas.

If you want color, narrow to cool or warm colors; you’ll cut your color choices in half. If you’re going to go with a bold color, I suggest going all the way. (In other words, if you want bold, go for that bold shade that’s dark and dramatic; don’t wimp out and pick a paint chip a few shades lighter.)

Remember that the sheen of a wall can have a huge effect on how a color is perceived in a room, so know the finishes available and how they might transform your room.

Finally, don’t paint an entire room before stepping back to see if you like a color: Use paint swatches to test small areas of the color in all different types of light. And be sure to seek out color suggestions by finding out the colors used in your favorite house tours.

Some great paint color choices to start with:


America cherishes — and deeply depends on — its 28 million small businesses, and the thinkers, doers and dreamers who own and work for them. Producing close to half of our national goods and services, and creating approximately two out of every three new jobs each year, they’re the backbone of our economy and the cornerstones of the American dream.

That’s why, every year since 1963, to honor and uplift entrepreneurs from California to New York, the National Small Business Administration (SBA) declares one week a year National Small Business Week (NSBW). This year, the special week takes place from May 1 through May 6.
To honor, elevate and celebrate the entrepreneurs behind our small businesses, the SBA is hosting many free, inspiring and educational events throughout its 10 regions and 68 districts during NSBW. Several companies and organizations will join the SBA in applauding the entrepreneurial spirit of our nation’s small-business owners, offering free workshops, webinars and other events throughout the week, the theme of which is once again “Dream Big, Start Small.” To spread the word via social media, the hashtag is #DreamSmallBiz.

Related: Cash Crunch: What’s the Best Loan for Your Small Business?

For all the hard work you do, day in day out, “contributing to our collective American story,” we think you deserve to take a break, kick back and dream big. Here’s a list of free, inspiring events, webinars and more for entrepreneurs to take advantage of during NSBW:

1. Attend an inspiring SBA-hosted NSBW event near you.
SBA Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet will travel across the country in a week, co-hosting NSBW events in the following cities: Washington D.C., Atlanta, New York, Denver, Phoenix and San Jose, Calif. She’ll be talking with local business leaders, presenting awards and sharing helpful business tips and trends. To attend one of these events, register here.

2. Watch the SBA NSBW action unfold via livestream all week.
If you can’t make it to one of the NSBW events in the above-listed cities, you can still watch the action happen via livestream. Head over to starting at 7:30 p.m. E.T. on Sunday, May 1, to tune in. You can also follow Contreras-Sweet at @MCS4Biz on Twitter or Instagram for updates on the fly all week. Follow the SBA’s official Twitter feed here as well.

Related: An Entrepreneur’s American Dream in 5 Quotes

3. Learn how to grow your business online with Google.
Google is teaming up with small-business-focused organizations in towns and cities across the country to host free workshops on how to grow your company’s reach online. Head over to and click on the U.S. map to find a Google workshop near you.
Google says attendees will learn how to manage their business information as it appears across Google Search and Google Maps. They’ll also brush up on how to use Google AdWords Express, Google Analytics and Google Apps for Work to better boost online visibility and to optimize internal workflows.

Related: Google Launches Program to Help Small Businesses

4. Expand your business acumen via a NSBW webinar.
The SBA hosts a series of informative small-business webinars, starting Monday, May 2, and ending Thursday, May 5. Topics to be covered include: demystifying voluntary employee benefits; recent payment technology innovations; cloud, mobile and social apps for growing your business; business-loan-application best practices and how to use Intuit Quickbooks. To see the complete webinar schedule, click here.

5. Attend a Facebook “Boost Your Business” networking event.
In honor of NSBW, Facebook will host four Boost Your Business events in cities throughout Texas next week. If you happen to be in the Lone Star State and want to attend, the networking events will unfold in Corpus Christi on May 2, Houston on May 3, San Antonio on May 5 and College Station on May 6.

Each offers a day of connecting with local community and small-business leaders and fellow entrepreneurs and business owners. Lots of tips on how to use Facebook and Instagram to amplify your business’s reach will be shared. Breakout sessions will hone in on using both popular social platforms for marketing and for sharing video content. For more information on these events, head over here.

Related: What’s Missing From Your Facebook Ad Strategy

6. Get social with Twitter’s “#TweetHour” on scaling your business.
Kicking off on Thursday, May 5 at 7 a.m. E.T., Twitter will put on a #TweetHour focused on tips for scaling your small business. The scheduled host for the hour is Simon Walker, a marketing manager from IFTTT, a San Francisco-based tech startup that automates web services. Walker will also be tweeting about how to save time and money, and how to boost productivity, all things most entrepreneurs and small-business owners can get behind.

To join the hour dedicated to doling out and swapping business growth advice, log on Twitter and search for and use the hashtag #TweetHour.
7. Learn how to access loans and capital through Sam’s Club and Accion’s webinar.
Having a healthy cashflow is key to staying in business. For many small companies and entrepreneurs, business loans and capital are essentially the lifeblood of their operations. To find out more about how to access finance options such as these, tune in to Sam’s Club Giving, Small Business Majority and Accion International’s hour-long webinar on Wed., May 4 at 4 p.m. E.T.