Living Well -- With A Financial Wellness Plan

New Year Can Offer New Hopes Including Home Ownership

By Layden Hale

Layden Hale

Layden Hale

The start of a new year brings out traditional goals and new hopes. If we were cartoon strip characters, speech bubbles would hang above us with thoughts like “quit smoking,” lose weight” or “exercise.” For others, it could be that once or twice in a lifetime event: “buy a home.”

Making a commitment to be a homeowner is no light matter. It requires diligence and -- quite honestly -- a true test of one’s financial status. January is national Financial Wellness Month, so even if you are not thinking of buying a home what better time to assess your finances?

Here is a list to consider under normal circumstances or in the event you are contemplating home ownership.

·       Create a budget and stick with it.

·       Create a spending and debt repayment plan.

·       Open a savings account and contribute to it regularly.

·       Keep an eye on your credit report (pay your bills on time and check for any inaccuracies).

·       Enroll in a HUD Certified Home Buyer Education class to empower yourself and become a better informed consumer.

Evaluating your budget can help you figure out if there is any fat to trim in your expenses, to learn your true daily living expenses and best evaluate how much you can and should be socking away for retirement. Once that is accomplished, you can determine what other savings you can set aside for a “rainy day” or emergency savings account -- let alone a house down payment.

If buying a home is a goal for 2017, this list of tips could be extremely valuable in landing pre-approval from a mortgage provider.

Once you get the pre-approval, find a real estate agent who will help you find your dream home. Pre-approval gives you leverage with the seller. Sellers are interested in not only a good offer but a buyer who can actually qualify for a mortgage and close on the deal.

Homeport offers classes and individual counseling to evaluate your credit score, offer tips on how to improve it, and make you aware of the process of home buying including the professionals you are likely to encounter in the process.

To receive individualized credit and budget counseling, call Homeport at 614-221-8889 extension 134. Registration for Homeport’s homebuyer education courses is available on-line.

Happy New Year.

(Layden Hale is a senior counseling advisor for Homeport.)