Money Issues

But when so much worry and fear pervades the financial pages these days, it’s hard to determine which way is up, especially when no two families share exactly the same situation.
 “It seems many of the people we talk to are taking a different approach to life these days,” shares Peter Fisher, co-founder of Human Investing, an investment firm located in Lake Oswego, Oregon. Fisher and his business partner, Dirk Anderson, have a unique approach to working with clients that forms the basis for their firm: Focusing on the things that matter in life, such as relationships, shared experiences, and serving the needs of the community, the team at Human Investing works with their clients to grow their resources in order to fund the things that really matter in their lives.
 “Over the last ten years or so,” Fisher says, “it seems everyone had a little more margin to operate on; a decent job, a relatively stable economy, and enough to pay the bills. Today, the job stability is gone, and…with all that has gone on in the economy, the client goals have definitely changed, but our investment advice is still the same: manage risk, be wise about using debt, save, and invest.”
 So as personal goals and aspirations change in families throughout North America, what does it take to make sure you are on the right path with your investments and financial goals? “Most people who are in a difficult spot financially know the pain and toll it can have on a family and relationships,” Fisher says. “Taking the time today to get it all onto a piece of paper is a first positive step to getting back on track…there is a great deal of peace that comes from taking the time to plan and  put together a game plan for financial success, whatever you deem that to be.” The following general principles will help you establish a firm footing and develop a sense of peace about your finances in an economy that is on its way to balancing out.
1. Live within your means.
This first step includes building a budget that includes all expenses with line items for saving and debt reduction as well. Fisher also recommends a cash budget, which he and his wife employ in their own household. “My wife takes three withdrawals a month from the ATM and pays with cash for everything but fuel,” he says.
“We found that even debit cards were too easy to spend, and we didn’t feel the pain in the same way as we did when we counted through a wad of twenties and paid for something we really didn’t need.”
2. Pay off debt.
“There are a lot of persuasive sales people who would encourage you to take on debt, even if it’s not the best thing for you,” Fisher  says, “[but] it’s really hard to get into a financial pickle if you have little or no debt.”
3. Take advantage of retirement plans offered through your employer or IRAs.
“Contributions are deductible,” Fisher advises, “and whether or not there is a match, if someone has a 25% tax bracket, every cent they put into that plan earns 25% the second they put it in, because the alternative is not contributing and paying the taxes. I’ve heard people are stopping contributions to the retirement accounts because they are too risky. That may be true relative to how their stockbroker has them invested, but there is most often a safe or risk-free option.” Fisher advises that if you are scared of the market, you should still contribute to a tax-deductible investment and place the funds into a safe or guaranteed account.

4. Beware of fees.
“For every dollar you pay to invest,” Fisher says, “it’s a dollar less you have in your account.”
5. Be wise about what you are investing in.
“Invest  in things that have the opportunity to grow over time, such as children, retirement accounts, homes,” Fisher says. “Don’t invest in things that go down most of the time, such as cars, boats, and jet skis.”
6. Make your bank pay you something for what you deposit with them.
“They don’t loan you money for free,” Fisher says, “so you shouldn’t loan them money for free.”
Written by Amber Lindros.

Zillow Fight!
A popular home-price website, www.zillow.com will give you an immediate estimate of the market value of your home.    Even lenders are comparing work done by certified appraisers to Zillow estimates as a regular practice these days.

But take heed, a Wall Street Journal analysis of 1000 recent home sales shows Zillow more than 25% off
target on 11% of them. In 34 of the same transactions, Zillow was off by more than 50%.

In Brisbane one property was listed as a two bedroom home when in reality it was originally built as a three bedroom, dropping the Zillow estimate or “Zestimate” up to $100,000.

Even so, with all of its faults, for a quick reference point on market values, Zillow is a technologically new and helpful resource.

However if you really want to know the value of your particular home in a more absolute way that takes into account your particular home’s special features, always call a professional appraiser or a real
estate broker…like me!
By Linda Dettmer ©

Economically Speaking
Did you know, your agent has a fiduciary (legal) responsibility to guide you through the decision making process as you buy or sell your home. The bottom-line question for all parties is, is this a fair offer?
Given current marketplace standards sellers must ask themselves, is this buyer motivated, qualified and again, is this a fair offer.  How long your home has been on the market, how many offers you have received and what your competition has sold for are perfect indicators to answer that question.
Buyers must consider many of the same things as seller, along with how changing interest rates will affect their future house payment and whether they are buying to stay a long while or short term.  A short stay in what may continue to be a declining value market, has the potential to make re-selling at a profit nearly impossible.  A longer-term ownership may give our market the chance to do what it has done historically and repeatedly... appreciate!
Call me for all your real estate needs and I'll...

"See You At Home!"

Linda Dettmer

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