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How to Pick the Best Amortization Period for Your Mortgage

How to Pick the Best Amortization Period for Your Mortgage

Are you researching the perfect home for your family? Maybe you’ve already looked at dozens of homes for sale online and have a good understanding of what type of properties interest you. Good! Now it’s time to think about how to finance it!

Smart first time home buyers (and second-time buyers for that matter) can get started with a mortgage pre-approval. Pre-approvals are important for several reasons:

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  • You’ll save time by visiting/viewing homes that you can afford.
  • Real estate agents and sellers typically only want to work with pre-approved buyers.
  • Sellers will take your offer more seriously – any offer coming from you is viewed as legitimate.

One of the key questions that you will need to answer is: How long do you want to take to pay back the home loan? Do you want to pay if off fast and live debt-free or spread payments out? It all comes down to the amortization period.

The amortization period is simply the amount of time that it takes to pay off a mortgage. Currently, in the United States, the maximum amortization period that banks offer is 40 years (for government-backed mortgages like FHA loans and VA loans).

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How does my mortgage term affect my monthly payments?

Lenders offer more than one option. You have a wide array of choices. In fact, mortgage terms can be set as 5, 10, 15, 20, 30 all the way up to 40 years.

  • Longer amortization periods decrease the amount you’ll need to pay each month. That’s the good news. The bad news is that a longer loan amortization periods increase how much you’ll pay the bank in mortgage interest.
  • Shorter amortization periods cost the homeowners less. For two reasons. First, Banks offer lower interest rates for mortgages with shorter terms because the money they lend to you is tied up for a shorter period of time. Compressing a mortgage term into a shorter duration also means you’ll pay less interest.

What amortization period should I use?

Glad you asked. There are two ways to evaluate this decision.

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First, as mentioned above, longer terms mean you’ll have a lower mortgage payment. As payments are spread out, less is needed each month to meet your monthly mortgage obligation. And home affordability is based, in part, upon your monthly income (lenders make a calculation called a debt-to-income ratio) compared to your expected mortgage payment. Therefore, lower payments translate into a bigger home. That’s a very appealing option for young families.

Shorter amortization periods decrease how much you’ll pay in interest. You’ll pay off the home faster and save money (less interest). While a buyer would qualify for a smaller home should he or she chose a shorter term, saving money can be quite appealing. You’ll certainly have more cash to diversify and invest elsewhere.

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Make a decision based on your personal financial plan.

30-year mortgage terms are the most popular option. That’s because people love bigger homes; folks tend to choose more square footage above all else. Longer terms tend to be more forgiving for first-time homebuyers who want a bigger home to “grow into” with their family.

Conversely, people obsessed with saving money tend to choose shorter terms and smaller homes. Here’s another reason to choose a shorter term: if you are over 40 years old and want to retire debt-free, carrying a mortgage for 30 years will not make that possible. Older homebuyers may want to plan ahead and choose a 15-year or 20-year term.

Clearly, you should choose a mortgage term based on your preferences. It’s important to know the difference between a longer and shorter amortization period. Armed with an understanding of the tradeoffs, you’re in a better position to make a choice that matches your style; carefully draft your future goals to make the best selection based on the kind of financial future you envision.

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Last Updated on June 26, 2020

25 Easy Tips on How to Save Money Fast

25 Easy Tips on How to Save Money Fast

“How to save money fast?” This is the question asked by all of us not in the top 1% of rich people.

If you are looking for ways to drastically reduce your expenses immediately, first look at what you need to spend money on every week. And I mean really need.

You don’t really need to order in food. You don’t really need to buy expensive perfume.

Building from that, you can work out how your regular expenses can be reduced.

As for irregular expenses, they can also be deceptively costly in the long run. Once-off buys can also be tackled with some prudent planning and a little extra research.

And remember: a budgeted lifestyle does not mean a bad or boring one!

But first, understand what budget you can cut down on daily:

  • Regular expenses for the average adult (can be trimmed but not eliminated):
    • food
    • rent/mortgage
    • cell phone
    • insurance
    • socializing/entertainment
    • transportation
    • hygiene products
    • household bills
  • Irregular expenses for the average adult (can be eliminated or cut down a lot):
    • travel
    • clothing
    • medication (*depends)
    • grooming (hair, nails etc.)
    • gifts

Now, let’s dive right into the 25 ways to save money fast:

Save Money on Food

1. Bring a stock of food to the office/work

Instead of popping out for an overpriced salad and a smoothie, leave a set of basic utensils at the office as well as a stock of non-perishable goods such as tinned fruit, tuna, rice crackers and so on (try to avoid the junk food and this can turn into a pretty great diet!).

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Stocking up means you won’t forget or say “I didn’t have the time” when you rushed out to work in the morning.

2. Buy the store-brand version

Many basic foods, such as bread and milk, will taste exactly the same as their branded alternatives. Go for stuff with minimal additives and preservatives. Meat in a tube is probably insanely unhealthy!

3. Eat cheaper cuts of meat

Learn how to tenderize and flavour cheaper meat and fish, and save on the (typically) most expensive item on your grocery bill.

4. Have group dinners

If 10 friends put $5 each in the kitty, it’s pretty easy to make a giant lasagne and get refreshments, as well as hang out with your favourite people.

Save Money in Transport

5. Get a bicycle

Save on gas money and bus/metro fares with this underrated mode of transport.

6. Use public transport and/or don’t get taxis

Some places can only be reached by car. But as a good practise, check your public transport website and see if any routes pass nearby where you need to get to. Walk as much as you can.

7. Find the cheapest gas

Regularly check out where the cheapest gas can be bought.

Save Money in General Shopping

8. Shop online

Not only will you save on the gas or transport fares from going to the shopping mall but you will also find better deals

9. Sell your old stuff

Get your unwanted belongings up on eBay ASAP and earn a few dollars.

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Here’re more ideas for you: 25 Things to Sell to Make a Lot of Money

10. Bulk buying stores

For regular non-perishable/slow perishable purchases such as toilet paper, cat food, pasta, washing powder and so on, do an epic stocking-up trip to a co-op or equivalent (my mum used to go to a place that restaurants buy from).

Be wary of supermarket “deals”, as some have been found to be fraudulent after working out a simple calculation.

11. Become a flea market/car boot sale/street market guru

You can find original gifts and develop good negotiation skills at these places.

12. Generic brand medication

More often than not, the generic version of paracetamol and other basics work the same as the branded version.

13. Choose deodorant, not perfume

It blows my mind when someone drops $70 on a bottle of spray. Stick with a nice deodorant, and not only will you smell just fine but you’ll be sweat-free as well!

Cut Down on Household Expenses

14. Printing

Ink is one of the most expensive substances in the office and coloured ink is doubly so. B

e more efficient and choose black and white, and if your printer doesn’t have a print-both-sides options, just print odd pages first, re-insert the paper and print even pages.

Expand the margins of what you are printing as often as you can to save on paper.

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15. Minimize SMS and phone calls

A combination of a free chat service such as WhatsApp and a free call service such as Skype can reduce your bill to nothing (so long as you have a decent Wifi connection).

16. Shop around for insurance

Most people don’t spend enough time searching for the best insurance deal.

Keep a watchful eye out for deals and new competitors in the market.

17. Try re-negotiating your rent/mortgage

If you have built up a good credit history or a good rapport with your landlord, then chances are a frank chat about needing to tighten your spending could result in lowering your payments. You’ve nothing to lose from trying.

18. Don’t get a TV

Invest in a computer/laptop and an internet-only package. You can watch more (and often better) entertainment on the web, and skip the advertisements as well.

19. Pool your internet bill with a neighbour

My apartment building is basically a big old house split into three apartments. There are five of us in total. We pool the internet bill, making it crazy cheap.

Save Money in Socializing, Entertainment And Travel

20. Have house parties

Instead of paying for overpriced drinks, set up a series of in-house get-togethers with your friends. Everyone takes a turn, so it’s not always your house that needs cleaning.

For sound insulation, hang heavy drapes on the walls and windows. For music, invest in a good second-hand set of speakers which you can connect to your computer. Let Spotify or Grooveshark playlists do the rest.

21. Open festivals, meetups and events

It never fails to surprise me how much underground stuff goes on around me for free or for very cheap. Find out who runs the blogs and websites that list all the less well-known cultural activities.

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22. Volunteer

If you can’t pay for a ticket, volunteer and get to be there anyway.

23. Housesit

There are multiple housesitting websites offering you the possibility to avoid paying hotels and skip the discomfort of crummy hostels.

Save Money on Hygiene and Beauty

24. DIY beauty

French manicures, pedicures, waxing, eyebrows… pretty much all of these can be achieved at home (and done well) with some practise. There are plenty excellent blogs and YouTube tutorials to help.

25. Fewer haircuts/volunteer at a trainee hairdresser

If you can’t bear the risk of a trainee touching your locks, learn more ways to manipulate your hair as it grows and get haircuts sparingly. Women’s haircuts are outrageously priced in many cities.

Bonus: Effective Money-Saving Tips for Everything

Here’s a summary of what you can generally do to save more money:

  • Share/pool resources. Organize a neighbourhood sharing scheme, common resources for your apartment block or with your friends. Not everybody needs an individual lawnmower.
  • Buy energy-saving everything. The easiest way to lower your bills – replace those lightbulbs!
  • Buy in bulk. Be sensible about it (i.e. make sure you have space!), and drastically reduce weekly expenditure.
  • DIY. Skill up using YouTube tutorials on plumbing and many other essential services so you never have to pay for simple problems again.
  • Research a lot before making a decision. Most money-wasting is the result of poor preparation and planning. Don’t shirk this part just because you don’t like it!
  • Use your network. Your network is full of resources that can ease the pain of budgeting. Ask for help.
  • Stop and think. Do I really need it?

Unfortunately, there are some things that require plain ol’ giving up for the time being. This can include high-cost sports such as skiing, the latest versions of some technologies, the finest brands of food/drinks, premier seats at the opera and most other indulgences.

What is important to remember during lean times is that when you look back on your life, it will be the experiences that stand out, not the extra comforts.

Living on a budget can teach you a lot about how much you can really get out of your paycheck. We only live one life, so make the most of every penny you earn!

More Tips for Personal Finance Management

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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