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When It Comes to Financial Solutions, There’s No Place Like Home.

Homeownership: more than just the cornerstone of the American Dream, it can be a powerful tool for improving your financial future. While renting can be a smart financial choice for someone starting out or starting over, owning your own home offers a multitude of benefits—not the least of which is the ability to build equity.

For practical purposes, equity can be defined as the difference between your home’s value and the balance owed on your mortgage. Since most mortgage installments are comprised of interest and principal amounts, each payment chips away at mortgage’s remaining balance, resulting in a larger difference between the property’s value and what you still owe. That difference is your equity. And while equity is reassuring in theory, it can be even better when you make that equity work for you.

Loan vs. Line: Find the right home equity option for you.

Because your house’s value offers relatively stable collateral, equity lenders assume lower risk than creditors offering unsecured loans or credit lines. Less risk for the lender means better rates for you. Traditionally, home equity loans and lines of credit feature more attractive interest rates than credit cards, making them ideal for larger purchases. But before you decide to put your equity to work for you, it’s important to know the difference between a Home Equity Loan and a Home Equity Line of Credit. Understanding the benefits of each can help you determine which is best for you.

Home Equity Loan
By allowing you to borrow a lump sum at once, these loans let you lock in an interest rate and payment terms for the length of the loan. While interest is charged on the total amount from the beginning, the security of a fixed rate makes home equity loans a reliable choice for larger projects that involve one-time expenses. Popular uses for home equity loans include:

  • Home renovation projects
  • Consolidation of high-interest debt
  • Establishing an emergency fund

Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC)

Essentially a credit account that allows you to borrow against the equity in your home, a HELOC gives you a cost-effective way to access the funds you need only when you need them. While you can borrow smaller amounts at a time, a HELOC usually features an adjustable interest rate tied to the standard market rate. Depending on the current financial climate, this could lead to fluctuating interest rates and payment amounts over time. However, since you can borrow smaller amounts and pay interest on the amount borrowed as opposed to the full credit limit, this option is ideal for gaining access to funds while maximizing your cash flow. Common uses for a Home Equity Line of Credit include:

  • Smaller home improvements
  • Funding a small business venture
  • Higher education expenses

As with any major financial decision, it pays to discuss all the details with a financial expert. So, before you decide which home equity option is right for you, schedule an appointment with a Scient representative mortgage specialist to determine the best solution for your financial needs.

Plan a Blockbuster Valentine Date on a Budget

From picking the right card to choosing the perfect flowers to selecting the best chocolates, planning for Valentine’s Day can be daunting. When you get it right, the smile on your Valentine’s face is priceless. If you miss the mark, well, so does Cupid’s arrow. The risk/reward scenario is the stuff romantic comedies are made of. But there’s a big difference between Hollywood hijinks and real life. The difference? Budgets.

 

Movie Magic vs. Real Life

While cinematic screenplays portray extravagant splurges that make audiences swoon, most of us don’t have the unlimited finances required to take a hot air balloon ride over Central Park while a string symphony serenades us from below. So, is it possible to plan a successful Valentine’s date without breaking the bank? Absolutely.

Creating a budget-friendly Valentine’s Day that’s memorable for all the right reasons requires purposeful thought and advanced planning—just like your budget itself. This is not the time to keep up with the proverbial Joneses; don’t waste energy comparing your ideas with anyone else’s. When it comes to making February 14th something special, individuality wins. If you’re looking for a few tips to spark your frugal creativity, we’ve got you covered.

 

4 Ways to Enjoy Valentine’s Day on a Budget

  • Cook at home. Go out for dessert.
    Whether you decide to cook dinner for your date or prepare a meal together, staying in lets you plan the menu around your budget and enjoy the experience of crafting your own culinary adventure. After leisurely dining at home, you can venture out for a delicious dessert knowing you’ve missed the overcrowded restaurants and overpriced entrees.
  • Coupons can be your friend.
    Can we get real for a minute? Free food tastes better. It just does. And if you’re looking to counter the unfair stigma attached to coupons, consider the following scenario: If you have $50 to spend on dinner, that means you can get two meals that cost $25 each. If you have $50 and a Buy-One-Get-One coupon from sites like restaurant.com or Living Social, you can each enjoy a $50 meal. Doesn’t sound like a difficult decision, does it?
  • Pick a plant instead of flowers.
    With many florists inflating prices by as much as 100% for Valentine’s Day, buying traditional flower arrangements can an expensive proposition. Instead of giving your date a bundle of flowers that will be gone in a couple weeks, plan a date that includes selecting a plant that will provide beauty for years to come. The shared experience provides an excellent chance to learn each other’s tastes and preferences, which may prove helpful for future Valentine’s Days.
  • Visit museums and art galleries.
    If you live in an area that has a museum or art gallery, many of these venues offer free or low-cost admission. In addition to giving your date a touch of culture, the subjective nature of art and exhibits offers endless opportunities for conversation, lessening the chances of awkward silence throughout the evening.

Sticking to a budget can be tough, especially when you’re trying to impress your date. But if our favorite rom-coms have taught us anything, it’s the fact that over-the-top spending may seem fun, but it rarely leads to happily ever after. Whether you use the tips above or come up with creative ideas of your own, being smart with your Valentine’s Day spending is a great way to craft a feel-good story that will leave you cheering when the credits roll. And who knows, if all goes well, there might even be a sequel!

 

What Your Credit Cards Are Really Costing You

This article was written by  and originally appeared on CNN Money.


Credit card debt is costing you nearly $1,000 per year

Quick Ways to Make Extra Money During the Holidays

Between party threads, cross-country travel and gifts galore, the holiday countdown is on — meaning your wallet is feeling the heat. While we’re all for creating a holiday shopping budget (and sticking to it, of course!), we know a thing or two about best laid plans. To help you recoup some cash, create wiggle room in your budget, or even pad your savings because you’re just that good, here are a few ways to bring in extra money this season.

 

Sell Off Old Gift Cards

If you’ve got leftover gift cards from holidays past, you’re sitting on a pile of money. Sites like Cardpool will buy your physical or e-gift card for up to 92% of the card’s value. (You can choose to be paid by mailed check or an Amazon gift card.) Raise, an exchange site, lets you list cards at your own price. You get the cash by direct deposit, PayPal or check minus a 12% selling fee once another buyer scoops it up. And on Gift Card Granny, earn cash or swap it for a gift card to another store.

 

Clean Out Your Closet

Inspired to do a closet purge or just need more room for all your holiday swag? Get ahead of the game by reselling your gently-used clothes now. Online thrift store thredUP sees a 14% spike in apparel listings the week of Christmas, and a 59% increase the week of Christmas. If you get your items on the market now, you’ll beat the upswing in supply, especially for their most popular brands including Lululemon, Vince, Kate Spade handbags and Steve Madden shoes. Bonus: You’ll get your stuff in front of other holiday shoppers looking for party outfits, jewelry, handbags, cold-weather accessories and winter gear.

 

Take Care of Your Neighbors’ Pets

If you’re not traveling for the holidays, first of all, congrats on avoiding the traffic and the crush at the airport. Also, congrats on being available to watch over all the cute pets in your neighborhood who can’t join their humans on vacation. If you’ve exhausted your neighbor list — or don’t talk to them in the first place — try Rover. You can sign up to provide services including dog hosting in your own home, dog sitting in the owner’s home, dog walking in the area or doggy day care. You’ll set your own rates anywhere from $10 to $150 per day or per walk, and take home 80% of your earnings.

If dogs aren’t your thing, there’s PetSitter, where you’ll get connected with pet owners in need of pet sitting, walking, grooming and boarding for dogs, cats, fish and beyond.

 

Rent Out Your Room

If you’re hitting the road or just have an empty room to spare, consider renting it out to travelers. Renting on Airbnb is one of the most lucrative side hustles, according to a recent report from Earnest. Hosts earn an average monthly income of $924. Even a fraction of that cash from a few days or weekends could be worth the effort of setting up a listing and putting fresh sheets on your guest bed.

 

Offer Up Your Parking Spot

Maybe you’re not open to having strangers in the house, but what about renting out your parking spot? Services like ParqExSpot and ParkingSpotter can help you do so. With Spot, for example, you’ll pin your parking space on the site’s map, upload a photo of the space and list its availability and rate by the hour, day, week or month (most sites will suggest a range to work with). You can be paid by direct deposit, PayPal or Venmo, minus a 20% commission fee.

 

Sell Stock Photos

You can only Instagram so many dreamy photos before you start spamming your friends’ feeds, so why not sell some to earn cash? Stock image sites like Shutterstock and iStock will pay contributors royalties — from a few cents per image to more than $100 each time your photo is downloaded. Members of Foap, another stock image service, can earn $5 every time an image sells, and its contests offer winnings of $100 or more for everything from the best holiday baking photo to the most stylish fashion shoot.

 

Take On A Micro-Job

Not afraid to brave supermarket crowds? Can you design a holiday party invite in minutes? Or have a free hand to offer catering support? Post your skills on Fiverr or services on TaskRabbit. How much you rake in depends entirely on how much free time you have and the rates you set. And with all those errands that need running or new gadgets that need assembling, quick projects here and there can help keep your budget merry and bright through the New Year.

 

This article originally appeared on Learnvest.

How Home Buyers Can Overcome Tough Competition

This article originally appeared on Kiplinger and was written by Pat Esswein.

 

How would you describe the housing market?

Hot and record-breaking. This past spring, strong demand and a shortage of inventory resulted in the lowest supply and the fastest pace of sales that we’ve seen, and the trend will continue this fall. Basically, starter homes have disappeared. Price growth was astounding everywhere — not only on the coasts, but in places like Omaha, Grand Rapids, Mich., and Buffalo, N.Y. In most markets, buyers must be intrepid, and they need to understand that sellers are under a lot of pressure, too. Sellers want to feel confident that the deal will close so they can buy their next home.

 

How can buyers find a home? 

Arm yourself with tech tools to find available homes quickly. With the variety of apps available today, you can receive listing alerts so that you’re notified as soon as a home in your price range or search area hits the market. The Redfin app, for instance, lets you search by school boundaries, find open houses or schedule a tour for the same day.

 

How can buyers win the day without offering more money?

Buyers will gain an advantage from whatever concessions they can offer. Instead of a small earnest-money deposit, we’ve seen buyers put into escrow their entire down payment or even half of the purchase price.

You needn’t waive a contingency for inspection in the purchase contract. Rather, you can agree to pay the seller, say, $2,500, or next month’s mortgage payment, if you walk away.

Work with a local or reputable lender to get a pre­approval for your mortgage that includes full documentation of your means to obtain a certain amount of financing in advance of a signed purchase contract. That may give you the confidence to waive a contingency for financing, and it’s almost as good as cash for closing a deal quickly.

Because sellers can sell their homes in days but may take months to buy, you can gain leverage by offering to “rent back” their home to them for a certain number of months.

 

Is fall a good time to buy?

Yes. Home prices generally peak in the summer and ease up in the fall. There’s a bit less inventory, but many fewer buyers. Plus, sellers who list in the fall are serious because they must leave because of job relocation, divorce or something else that made them miss the top of the season. So the next time I buy, my kids will have to move during the school year.

 

 

6 Things You Didn’t Know You Could Rent to Save Money

This article originally appeared on Everything Finance and was written by Kayla Sloan.

When you think of renting, you likely only think of the obvious, such as: homes and apartments, cars, or storage units. In fact, you’re probably unaware of the vast array of things that are available for you to rent.

In a society that seems to place value on what you own, it can be increasingly difficult to keep up, and for the most part, the majority of the population doesn’t have the means to do so.

Thankfully, there’s an array of companies launching sites and businesses for the sole purpose of providing you with the opportunity to rent various items in lieu of purchasing them. Instead of purchasing items you may only use a couple of times, save money by renting these six things.

 

1. CLOTHING & ACCESSORIES

From formal wear and dresses, to designer handbags, jewelry, office attire, and every day outfits, you have the option to pretty much rent your entire wardrobe should you choose to do so. Sites like Avelle, Rent the Runway, and Le Tote, all offer subscriptions and services that allow you to pick clothing and accessories that you like, and then rent them for a one-time or monthly fee, the great thin is that they are able to provide you with holzuhren accessories if you wish.

With constantly changing trends in the fashion world and the desire to maintain a fresh and up-to-date wardrobe, these companies offer you a brilliant solution to your fashion needs. After all, unless you have endless funds, the ability to be consistently purchasing new pieces for your closet, probably isn’t a habit you can keep up.

 

2. PARTY DÉCOR & SUPPLIES

Unless you absolutely love to host parties and get-togethers on a weekly basis, purchasing party supplies and decorations can be an expensive endeavor. Moreover, depending on the soiree you throw, you’ll likely need quite a few supplies. Think everything from tables and chairs to dinnerware to linens and décor.

In most cases, all of these items add up quickly and are things you’ll probably only use once. That being said, if you have a bridal shower or graduation party coming up, you might want to consider renting your supplies instead. Look online to find local rental companies in your area. It’ll not only be inexpensive, but the company will do most of the heavy lifting and work for you as well.

 

3. EXERCISE & OUTDOOR EQUIPMENT

If you’ve ever gone snow-skiing or snowboarding, you’re probably familiar with the concept of renting your equipment. After all, the cost of skis, boots, and poles on top of transportation and storage is hefty, if you don’t have the opportunity to ski at least once a week. The same can be said for other sport and exercise equipment.

No matter the sport, from skating to hockey to la cross, it’s never a bad idea to try out equipment before committing. Especially, if you have children who are either going to outgrow certain equipment or who would like to try various activities before committing.

Moreover, if you’d love to try out an exercise machine or would love the convenience of having one in your home, consider renting locally or from a manufacturer to see if you like it or would get ample use out of it before spending thousands.

 

4. TEXTBOOKS

This is one you might be familiar with, but if you’re not, you’ll be forever thankful for it. Anyone who’s ever taken a college class knows just how expensive textbooks can be. In fact, books for a as few as three or four classes can cost you hundreds of dollars. For books that are a part of your major or important to your education, it can make sense to purchase them.

However, when you’re taking electives, you’ll often buy books you’ll most likely use once and be done with. If that’s the case, consider renting your books for a fraction of the cost. Companies like Book Renter offer your textbooks for rent at an affordable cost. Book Renter even provides free shipping when you’re ready to return them.

 

5. CASKETS

This might seem like an odd item to have on the list, however, the cost of a funeral can be exorbitant, and there are times when you or your family might not have the funds to purchase a $4,000 casket in addition to all other mortuary expenses. If you’re considering having your loved one cremated, there’s really no need to spend thousands on a casket. Instead, most funeral homes provide you with the option of renting a ceremonial casket for viewing options.

Furthermore, you could also rent a more expensive looking casket for the actual funeral and use a more inexpensive one for the burial. This can help you celebrate your love one in the way you’d like while also keeping you from spending money you might not have.

 

6. TOOLS

Unless you work in a profession that requires the use of tools, like as a mechanic, craftsman, or construction worker, you likely don’t use tools every day. Moreover, tools are an expensive investment, ergo if you don’t use them often, you could use that money for other things.

Depending on the tool and how often you put it to work, you might want to rent your tools instead. Next time you have a project, head to Lowe’s or Home Depot and browse the tools and equipment they have for rent. By doing so, you’ll have the tool you need without spending a fortune.

For some reason, we tend to get the notion in our heads that we must simply own everything. While that’s not to say that there aren’t some things that you should just purchase, like electronics or furniture, it is to say that there’s a whole wealth of items out there that you can and should consider renting. In a society that constantly focuses on the new, you’ll not only save money, but have the ability to keep many of the items you need on-trend and up-to-date.

Have you ever rented some of these items? What has been your experience with rentals?

3 Awesome Budgeting Tips for Your First Job

You did it! You landed that first big job, and now you’re making a serious paycheck. Easy living from now on, right? Not so fast. Only if you do some key financial legwork first. Don’t be discouraged. These tips will help put you on the path to financial strength as you start your career!

  1. Don’t Surprise Yourself – Creating a budget is a good place to start. When creating your budget be as judicious as possible. If you don’t know your exact income, then lowball it so that you have some wiggle room. Account for any kind of spending you can think of – not just rent and utilities, but also groceries, debts and entertainment.
  2. Watch Your Wallet – Online banking makes it easy to track where your money goes, but it’s still beneficial to keep your own record. Try it for a week. Write down every place you spend money, even the little things like a few bucks for a pack of gum or a parking fee. You might be surprised at how it adds up, and might even see a few things you can easily eliminate.
  3. Save Yourself With Saving – Saving a few dollars a week is better than saving nothing at all. You probably won’t be making an outrageous salary at your first job, but you should still be able to set aside a little bit each paycheck. You can set up your direct deposit so that a certain amount or percentage goes to your savings. You can also try out a savings app that can connect to your checking account that will automatically skim off a little bit each week.

Get Off To A Good Start With Scient

Your financial future is waiting for you, and Scient is here to help! With our wide range of services, you’ll have everything you need to establish a strong foundation. For more information, contact us today at 877 860 6928.

Scient Service Centers will be closed on Monday, May 28th, for Memorial Day. You can access your account any time through Online Banking or our Mobile App.