Are You Financially Ready to Buy a Home?

Buying a houseBuying a house is an incredibly exciting step in your life, however it can also become a financial nightmare if you rush into it before you are truly ready. The commitment of a mortgage and the costs associated with bills and general maintenance can be far greater than you expect, leaving your budget severely compromised. Here are some important things to consider when asking yourself whether or not you are financially ready to buy your first home.

Assess Your Budget

One of the most important steps in working out whether you can afford to move forward and buy a home is to assess your budget. Spend some time getting to know your financial capabilities, and understand how much you have on hand to cover possible mortgage repayments. It’s a good time to do a review and work on your budget to make it as clear and comprehensive as possible. The better your budget is, the greater chance you have of being in a strong financial position to buy a home.

Future Stability

It pays to always think towards the future, and try and envisage some of the tricky situations that life could throw your way. Consider what would happen in the event of reduced income, being unable to work, or losing your current employment. If you have a strong financial base and could cover your repayments through your existing savings, chances are you are in a good position to buy. If you would struggle to meet the repayments under these circumstances, then perhaps you should work on creating a stronger savings base to assist when times get tough.

Know Your Limits

When applying for a home loan, it is essential that you stick to your limits. Know what you would be comfortable with in regards to mortgage repayments, and resist the temptation to buy a house that will be beyond your means. If you find that you are consistently being knocked back by the banks, you may be trying to borrow too much, or you may not be in a strong enough financial position to buy a house just yet.

Consult an Expert

It can be hard to honestly appraise your financial situation and decide on whether you are ready to buy, so why not take it to the professionals. By consulting the team at Fox Symes, you will be able to access expert advice on your financial position, and whether or not you will be able to adequately cope with the financial strain of buying your own home. The added advantage is that on top of being qualified debt solutions specialists, you will also have the opportunity to access a Fox Symes home loan which has been individually tailored to best suit your needs.

It’s easy to get in above your head when buying a house, especially if you take the plunge and buy too soon. By keeping these important points in mind, you can ensure that you get an honest assessment on whether or not you are truly financially ready to buy a house.

Choosing the best retirement plan for a secure future

Financial retirementA financially secure future is what most of us are constantly working towards. We set a portion of our funds aside for a safe future, invest in 401(k) plans, set up IRA accounts and try investing in sound retirement plans based on part research, part hearsay. Choosing a safe investment vehicle is a matter most people lose their sleep over. Does a 401(k) plan carry interesting tax benefits? Does an IRA account effectively maximize your money? Are bonds a sounder investment option than stocks? These are some questions that might occur to you while trying to choose an optimum retirement plan, which keeps your future out of harm’s way.

The fundamental solution to a retirement plan problem is the understanding of tax benefits and returns that each investment plan offers. The 401(k) plan and the IRA (individual retirement account) are tax free investment options where you don’t have to pay taxes on the money invested or the interest unless you begin receiving benefits. As contributing to these accounts leads to a decrease in your taxable income, you pay lesser taxes overall. However, both methods are fundamentally different from each other and need careful research before they you take a decision.

While the 401(k) plan is set up by your employer, an IRA is an individual choice. The 401(k) plan will allocate similar distributions to employees, while an IRA leaves you with a lot of options as far as investment vehicles go. The 401(k) plan gives you the option of withdrawing money during an emergency; other than reducing your net taxable income. However, when you start to withdraw money from your account, the amount will be taxed as additional income. Also, there are penalties for premature withdrawal.

The IRA comes with its own pros and cons. You don’t need any help from a financial planner as the account is easy to set up. It also gives you a lot of freedom in choosing investment options like bonds, stocks or mutual funds. However, it imposes penalties on premature withdrawal and has a low contribution rate.

Through a 401(k) or an IRA account, you could invest your money in a number of things such as bonds, mutual funds, stocks, real estate and so on. Each profile has a unique risk to returns ratio that must be studied before choosing to invest in. The stock market has always been an enigmatic and unassailable investment option to most. With a high risk and an even higher reward associated with it, a stock portfolio could potentially take your investments to new heights. Bonds do not carry the high risk that stocks do, but neither do they offer promising returns on investment.

Choosing the best plan would require extensive research and an understanding of your financial requirements. Investing in both, IRA and a 410(k) could well be a sound diversification strategy, according to some professionals. Other new age IRA plans like investing in commercial real estate could also be the key to an assured future. Seek expert advice before going for any option available to you.
When retirement finally happens, a retirement plan could be your knight in shining armour. A careful approach towards choosing a sound plan will go a long way in ensuring financial security.

Feel Financial Stability at Every Age

New Financial StabilityMost of us complain about the constant lack of money for various reasons – small salary or continuous expenses that have already tortured us. In fact, it is quite realistic to prevent those expenses and become financially stable and independent. It is only a matter of time and your wishes. At every age, whether you are young or old, you should remember that the earlier you start to think about financial stability and savings the more confidence in future you will have. So, let’s see what we can do for this from our early 20s to the time of retirement.

Youth without debt

When being young and beautiful we do not consider us to be already grown up but we are willing to make something meaningful for society. It is often occurs that our deeds do not succeed and we make many mistakes. Indeed, financial responsibilities are wide opened for us and we should already think about contribution to our retirement. Small amount of money saved monthly will help to feel stability and consider plans for future as it is a definite time to find an appropriate job.

The next thing that we need to think about except work is credit cards repayment. We should remember that our 20s is not the age to build up debt. Applying for credit cards or even for school loans we have to be sure in our ability to repay all money in time or even in advance. We do not need debts in such an early age.

More responsibilities need more expenses

The most appropriate age to obtain more life responsibilities is 30s. At this age we have more income, create our own family and even may think about our ability to purchase a good house (often with the help of mortgage). This will be a good age for those who refused to obtain debt when they were 20 years old. By the way, our contribution into retirement should be raised.

The right time to invest

The best time for savings and investment comes with our 40s. At this age we have a good job to provide your family with all needs and the age for more expenses. We can easy go wrong being not careful with everything that concerns money. We should save more, invest more and also pay more attention to retirement planning to be sure that it is all right.

Everything goes right in your 50s

When you are fifty everything has to be under control. You have made the needed sum of money and now it works on you. Even often expenses will not prevent your financial stability. Pay off your mortgage and continue retirement funding.

Time for retirement

Depending on when you wish to retire, all plans should be done – the debt is repaid and the needed sum of money is already saved. Then you will see that all your efforts were not in vain.

When creating and following plans for retirement you should understand that complaining on the money need will not bring success in your life. So, get rid of bad thoughts and start to think about your financial stability.

Diana is an accomplished financial consultant writing about socio-economic problems as well as legal and financial articles on debt, bankruptcy, fast loans online, stock market, credit card, personal injury on various websites. She has been writing for the last 5 years.

Secret Service Agents: Low Profile, Highly Trained

Secret Service AgentIn 2012, legislation was passed to provide all former presidents and their spouses a lifetime of Secret Service surveillance and protection.  Prior to this, former presidents were protected for ten years after their terms of office were completed.   This new legislation protects a former president’s children, as well, until they are 16 years of age.

What Does It Take To Become A Secret Service Agent?

It’s no small task to become a security agent for the president or former presidents and their families.   Secret Service Agent positions are coveted roles in a highly competitive field.  To be considered for this unique type of profession, one must meet a list of pre-requisites.  Some basics include the following:

1:  Must be an American citizen between the ages of 21 and 36

2:  Must possess a valid driver’s license

3:  Must have 20/60 uncorrected vision but correctable to a perfect 20/20

4:  Male applicants must be registered with the Selective Service

5:  Must have the ability to pass a rigorous physical fitness exam as well as psychological and medical exams

6:  More often than not, must have a minimum of three years work experience in law enforcement, criminal investigation or a combination of the two fields

Assuming all these pre-requisites are met according to the guidelines established, the candidate would need to prepare for extensive education and work experience in addition to having a Bachelor’s or Master’s Degree, depending on the level of government security.  A grade point of 3.0 would be the minimally-accepted grade for each college course previously completed—not to be confused with a 3.0 grade point average!   Additionally, a series of interviews, polygraph screenings and drug testing would be in order, as well as a candidate’s personal references who, in turn, would be interviewed, also!

Bonds Are Formed:

Regarding government officials in general, there are several types of protective personnel used to oversee the safety of an elected or formerly-elected government public figure and his or her spouse and children.  Often times, the hired secret service agent progresses on to become a permanent employee with the family since an almost co-dependent relationship emerges where the protected feel reliant on the care and watchfulness of the agent and the agent can develop feelings of immense possessiveness towards the family due to the emotional bonds that are many times formed.

They Won’t Be Messed With!

Top-notch security agents, who reign supreme and make a considerable income, are an elite group who are trained to the hilt.  Aside from remaining in tip-top physical condition, this cream-of-the-crop-level agent will have extensive training in martial arts and other types of hand-to-hand combat techniques including Aikido, Budoshin Jujitsu or Krav Maga, which is a type of contact combat used by the Israel Defense Forces where death of the opponent is considered a possible/ probable and acceptable outcome.    Being well versed in handling concealed weapons, including handguns and expandable batons and tactical handcuffing all go with the territory.

Are You Interested?

If you can meet the criteria discussed above and are accepted for top-secret clearance, be willing to travel extensively as well as frequently relocate.  Having the innate ability to rapidly analyze situations and environments and quickly choose smart solutions are not only important, but required.  Starting out with security companies such as Unified Protective Services can be a great place to start as well. Having the mental fortitude to adapt to a variety of situations and maintain composure in volatile circumstances are attributes a coveted and highly-paid secret service agent will demonstrate as if it were second nature—which it needs to be!

Top Pet Peeves Of Great Plains Accounting Users

peevedGreat Plains is a brand of business software that was purchased by Microsoft in 2001. Since then Microsoft has rebranded the software to Microsoft Dynamics and has discontinued support for the system. However, Great Plains was a popular program in its day and many people still use it. While this system is spoken of highly by many of its users, all software has its flaws. Here are some of the most common pet peeves of people who are using Great Plains for accounting today.

A Lack of Support

Because Microsoft stopped offering support for Great Plains Accounting in 2008, it can be difficult to find solutions for your problems. If you have been using the software for a while, you may be able to figure new problems out for yourself. However, if you are coming into a new job without any prior knowledge of the program you can easily find yourself lost. This is especially true if no one else in your office is familiar with the program. Trial and error may be your only option, which can become downright panic-inducing if it is taking place during the end of the fiscal year. Upgrading can be pricy, but if you find yourself in this position it may be your best solution.

Default User Dates

Every time a person logs into a company on Great Plains, the user date defaults to the current day. This is understandable, but it can also lead to some snarls. The most common is when a user gets the message “the user date falls within a fiscal year that hasn’t been set up.” This is most likely to occur when trying to print out a report for a different year.  The problem can be corrected by changing the user date on the toolbar to the year of the desired report. However, this has to be done every time you log in.

Lack of Intuitive Solutions

With experience Great Plains can be easy to use, but when starting out users often find that the solutions they seek do not easily spring to mind. This can relate to formatting issues or when trying to correct information that the system has automatically added. Options may be grayed out without explanation or boxes unchecked for no apparent reason. These issues tend to be more prominent on older versions of the program, but many users find that it difficult to find a solution to their problems through trial and error. The best way for a Great Plains user to find answer to a problem of this nature is to talk to someone who has used the program before or to find a forum online to talk with other users.

Problems with Language Settings

Great Plains has some sensitivities to the default language settings that can result in frustrating or seemingly unexplained errors. A common message you may see is “all call stacks are in use. Cannot stat script,” when opening the Transaction Entry window in the General Ledger. You may also have difficulty with login or starting the program. The problem can be resolved by changing your computer’s language setting to United States English and disabling the “perform translation for character data” option in the ODBC configuration.  If this does not work, you may need to uninstall and reinstall the program.

Great Plains Accounting is a popular and highly regarded form of software. While some users may experience problems, many do not. It can be frustrating to start using the program without much support, but with time most of the common pet peeves associated with this program will become less and less of a problem.

Sarah Jackson is a freelance writer and editor who remembers when Great Plains was a little more great by comparison, but does greatly appreciate many oher fine offerings from Microsoft.