4 Steps to Regain Some Savings Self-Control

(TNS)—Opening a savings account is easy, but committing to savings? Now that can be hard.

From struggling to find places where you can reduce spending to falling into the temptation of instant retail gratification, saving money can be really challenging.

“You really have to know yourself and discipline yourself if you’re going to be an effective saver,” says Greg McBride, CFA, Bankrate’s chief financial analyst.

Learning to live on less may feel difficult initially, but it will pay off in the future.

Here are four steps to start exercising savings self-control today.

Pay your account out of your paycheck.
Automate your savings by having money moved to your savings account regularly, either through elections with your direct deposit if you receive a regular paycheck or by setting up a recurring transfer to your savings account.

Moving money directly to your savings account is a crucial first step in building a nest egg, McBride says.

“Paying yourself first clears the biggest hurdle for saving, which is simply not being in the habit of saving,” McBride says. “It takes care of saving money before you have a chance to spend it.”

Similar to putting money in your 401(k), the idea is that if it never touches your hand, you won’t miss it.

Avoid the temptation of transfers.
Moving money into your savings does you little good if you constantly raid the account.

To effectively grow a savings account, you have to restrict yourself from the temptation to transfer those funds to your checking account.

“If you’re going to build your savings, your deposits have to outnumber your withdrawals, not just in number but also in magnitude,” McBride says.

Do what it takes to control yourself. Perhaps the solution is as easy as naming that account based on a goal—”house down payment” or “Christmas money”—to make the connection of immediate gratification robbing your ultimate goal.

If that isn’t enough to stop you, put some distance between your checking and your savings. While there are often advantages of having your money at one institution, opening up a savings account a different bank might be what you need to stop you from spending money that is supposed to be away.

Once you’ve hit your emergency fund savings goal, you ought to consider a CD or even a CD ladder to pick up some yield and keep you from spending your money.

Put banking technology to work.
Banks and financial technology companies are obsessed right now with helping you save money, and each product seems to have its own bent.

There are ones that let you set rules, like adding $10 to your savings every time you buy a latte. Finn, the new mobile-only account Chase Bank is piloting in St. Louis for iOS users, is offering such features. The bank says it expects to launch it in additional cities and for Android users next year.

Others, like Simple and Moven, help you save for a specific goal or multiple goals at a time.

There are also some, like Digit, Chime and Acorns, that focus on moving small amounts of money into an account for you. This is similar to Bank of America’s popular Keep The Change Savings program, which puts the difference between your purchases and the nearest dollar in a savings account—$10.75 for lunch, 25 cents for savings, for example.

MoneyLion, another FinTech app, launched a virtual reality feature on the augmented reality platform of Apple’s iOS 11 release. MoneyLion customers with iPhones 6S and newer can now visualize their money as stacks on the phone. The rationale is that if you can see your money pile increasing, you’re less likely to spend it.

Suffice to say, there are a lot of savings options out there right now and you ought to do your research before committing to one. Ultimately, their effectiveness is dependent on your ability to not frivolously spend the money you’ve worked hard to save.

Save for the long term.
While you may want to enjoy the here and now, short-term spending can cost big time down the road.

“If you’re going to be a saver, it’s going to require some tough decisions,” McBride says. “It means passing up consumption today so that you can instead save for consumption in the future.”

McBride highlights that saving is not simply geared toward building up money to use in the event of emergencies.

“Americans are woefully under-saved for retirement,” McBride says.

McBride points to the increasing number of seniors who are unable to retire and the overwhelming amount of outstanding student debt as a reminder that consumers must save for long-term goals.

“You can build an emergency savings fund while building a retirement fund or a college fund at the same time,” McBride says. “You have to attack both at the same time in the same way by automating your contributions.”

©2017 Bankrate.com

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC

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Leading Colorado-Based Architectural Firm, Godden|Sudik Architects, Awarded in Four Archiectural Design Categories at Denver 2017 MAME Award Gala -

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Englewood, CO – Godden|Sudik Architects, a leading Denver-based architectural firm, earned 4 awards at the Denver Major Achievements in Marketing and Excellence (MAME) 2016 Awards, presented November 4, 2017. The MAME Awards, sponsored by the Home Builders’ Association of Metro Denver, honor the top achievers in the new home industry. Awards are comprised of marketing, sales, interior design, architectural and builder awards. These awards are presented to those who set the standard of ex…

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New Jersey Mold, IAQ and Environmental Testing Laboratory Offers Free Full Day Mold, IAQ and Industrial Hygiene Sampling Workshop

Professionals involved with indoor air quality (IAQ) issues are invited to take part in EMSL Analytical, Inc.’s FREE Mold, IAQ and Industrial Hygiene Sampling Workshop on Thursday, January 11th in Cinnaminson, New Jersey. This full-day workshop will begin with registration at 8:30 AM followed by training from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM. Many indoor air quality concerns related to mold and moisture can have an impact on people’s health. This workshop will benefit environmental consultants, home in…

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New Jersey Mold, IAQ and Environmental Testing Laboratory Offers Free Full Day Mold, IAQ and Industrial Hygiene Sampling Workshop

Professionals involved with indoor air quality (IAQ) issues are invited to take part in EMSL Analytical, Inc.’s FREE Mold, IAQ and Industrial Hygiene Sampling Workshop on Thursday, January 11th in Cinnaminson, New Jersey. This full-day workshop will begin with registration at 8:30 AM followed by training from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM. Many indoor air quality concerns related to mold and moisture can have an impact on people’s health. This workshop will benefit environmental consultants, home in…

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California Residents Learn About Indoor Sewer Gas Exposure Hazards and Testing Solutions

At one time or another most people have walked into a home or building and recognized the unpleasant odors associated with sewer gas. Exposure to sewer gas is a concern due to its offensive odor, health effects associated with breathing toxic gases and potential asphyxiation concerns in extreme circumstances. In high concentrations it can also create explosion hazards and even if only present in low concentrations, could significantly impact property values. Sewer gas is a complex mixture…

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As old worlde style meets turmeric latte one of the oldest precincts in the growing regional hub of Geelong, South Geelong is becoming increasingly popular. This isn’t just because of its heritage streetscape says Julie O’Donohue, founder of Next Address. “When people speak about loving the area, they are also talking about liveability and according to the research we have done locally, the livability factor here is off the charts.” says Julie. Within an hour by train you are in inner…

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What Are Mortgage Points? Should You Pay Them?

(TNS)—When people want to find out how much their mortgages cost, lenders often give them quotes that include loan rates and points.

What Is a Mortgage Point?
A mortgage point is a fee equal to 1 percent of the loan amount. A 30-year, $150,000 mortgage might have a rate of 7 percent but come with a charge of one mortgage point, or $1,500.

A lender can charge one, two or more mortgage points. There are two kinds of points:

  1. Discount points
  2. Origination points

Discount Points
These are actually prepaid interest on the mortgage loan. The more points you pay, the lower the interest rate on the loan and vice versa. Borrowers typically can pay anywhere from zero to three or four points, depending on how much they want to lower their rates. This kind of point is tax-deductible.

Origination Points
This is charged by the lender to cover the costs of making the loan. The origination fee is tax-deductible if it was used to obtain the mortgage and not to pay other closing costs. The IRS specifically states that if the fee is for items that would normally be itemized on a settlement statement, such as notary fees, preparation costs and inspection fees, it is not deductible.

How do you decide whether to pay mortgage points, and how many? That depends on a number of factors, such as:

  • How much money you have available to put down at closing
  • How long you plan on staying in your house

Points as prepaid interest reduce the interest rate—an advantage if you plan to stay in your home for a while—but if you need the lowest possible closing costs, choose the zero-point option on your loan program.

By the Numbers…
A lender might offer you a 30-year fixed mortgage of $165,000 at 6 percent interest with no points. The monthly mortgage principal and interest payment would be $989. If you pay two points at closing (that’s $3,300) you might be able to drop the interest rate down to 5.5 percent, with a monthly payment of $937. The savings difference would be $52 per month, but it would take 64 months to earn back the $3,300 spent upfront via lower payments. If you’re sure you will own the house for more than five years, you save money by paying the points.

©2017 Bankrate.com

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC

This article is intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as professional advice. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of RISMedia.

For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark RISMedia.com.

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View the Possibilities With Virtual Staging

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By Brian Balduf, VHT Studios

Appealing to home buyers is all about making that emotional connection. Smart marketers know emotions trump other factors, especially when you hear buyers say the listing “just feels right.” They may be searching for a new house, but they’re envisioning their next home.

Buyers’ emotional experience while home shopping is heightened even more by stunning real estate photography that is the attention-grabber in the age of Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube and Houzz.

Breathtaking photographs and video stir buyers’ emotions and imaginations and prompt dreams about how they’ll live in that home.

New virtual staging tools go even one step further. Virtual staging makes a listing stand out and allows buyers to visualize their dreams – not only in their minds – but on their monitors or mobile devices.

When marketing to those buyers, virtual staging allows real estate professionals to present the rooms of a listing in many styles and functions, enabling agents to reach the widest audience possible by appealing to myriad tastes and lifestyle needs.

Virtual Staging blows up the current one-size-fits-all listing model and gives real estate pros far greater flexibility in customizing a listing to the desires and expectations of their perceived audiences.

It starts with high quality photographs, the standard for showing how a home is currently furnished and decorated today for its current owner. Virtual staging tools inserted into or enhancing those photographs amp up the features of a listing and showcase why each room is a great space and how it can be used, whether the prospective owner is a workout enthusiast, a craft hobbyist, or a new parent.

Also, virtual staging eliminates the expense of renting furnishings or hiring traditional stagers, while allowing buyers to mentally prepare how they can live in their prospective home.

Virtual staging helps buyers look beyond the stark, off-putting appearance of a vacant room. It also presents decorating options that enhance, for instance, a living room containing worn carpeting and outdated furniture that could leave a bad impression.

Virtual staging presents a property’s potential and can attract and interest different audiences with a variety of lifestyles.

See for yourself how virtual staging was used successfully by Robert Pribyl and Bernadette Ray, with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices KoenigRubloff Realty Group in Chicago. Robert says they took advantage of virtual staging’s flexibility for a vacant and fully remodeled 130-year old house in the trendy Logan Square neighborhood.

Virtually staged by VHT Studios

“This neighborhood is very hot. It’s become a magnet for millennials and high-net worth investors, so we needed to showcase how single professionals or families with different needs might live in the home,” Pribyl says. “I like the modern furniture that buyers see in the living room – it fits the style of the buyers I’m trying to attract. The home looks more appealing to buyers when they can see select rooms that are furnished.

They used virtual staging to showcase how a bedroom might appeal, for instance, to a young couple with a newborn. They also transformed that same vacant bedroom into an office and an exercise room for a young entrepreneur or a workout enthusiast.

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Virtually staged by VHT Studios

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Virtually staged by VHT Studios

In the finished basement, virtual staging allowed the duo to show the space’s potential as a child’s playroom and man-cave for TV sports fans and game lovers.

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Virtually staged by VHT Studios

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Virtually staged by VHT Studios

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Virtually staged by VHT Studios

In just four weeks after installing virtual photographs, they received multiple offers on the listing, and as of this writing, they were in negotiations with potential buyers.

Virtual staging opens many real estate marketing options which up until now have been impossible to deploy. There are now unlimited ways to present a room’s functions or decor through virtual tools.

Real estate professionals are also applying flexibility to how they use virtually staged photographs. In addition to websites, advertising and brochures, agents are using enlarged virtually staged photographs that depict multiple room functions and placing them on easels in each room of their listings. This allows buyers to instantly recall the virtually staged home they viewed online, as well as to envision the many possibilities.

Also, consider these other virtual tools that can solve common headaches that real estate professionals have had to work through over the years:

  • Virtual paint is helpful when walls need a fresh coat of paint or when dated wallpaper needs a makeover.
  • Virtual declutter removes mementos and personal effects that may be cherished by the owner but are distractions to buyers.
  • And virtual twilight wows buyers and with warm, romantic, and welcoming exterior views that appeared to be photographed at dusk.

Here’s another example of a virtually staged living space at a listing in Rosemont, Ill. See how the space has been configured to appeal to different style preferences.

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Virtually staged by VHT Studios

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Virtually staged by VHT Studios

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Virtually staged by VHT Studios

Don’t Try This at Home!

Some digital photography pros may be tempted to hire a Photoshop hobbyist to digitally alter photos with virtual enhancements. Having great Photoshop skills doesn’t guarantee beautiful virtual staging.

Installing a virtual couch into a photograph and hitting “Sharpen My Image” may do more harm than good to a vacant room. Often the end result looks like the old Colorforms stickers we played with as kids.

Experienced virtual stagers are studio and image specialists who have composition skills in real estate photography and know how to blend multiple exposures in which lighting, window views, and details are merged to create the final composite photography.

They also understand perspective, shadows, and size in relation to room dimensions.

We advocate trusting your visual marketing to a pro, just as real estate brokers advocate to their clients.

The newest visual marketing tools are proof that real estate marketing is no longer a one-size-fits-all proposition. Smart professionals are adopting these tools to reach a much wider audience, to make a greater first impression on potential buyers, and sell homes faster and at the best price.

Brian BaldufABOUT THE AUTHOR: Brian Balduf, CEO, chairman and co-founder of VHT Studios, has built the Rosemont, Ill.-based firm into the nation’s largest real estate photography and image management services company. Since he co-founded the company in 1998, VHT Studios has helped more than 200,000 real estate professionals sell more than $200 billion in properties through its nationwide network of hundreds of photographers and image specialists. Delivering to real estate professionals their most powerful selling tools – high quality photography and video – Balduf has worked to ensure their properties get seen more, sell faster and at the highest price. For more information, visit VHT.com, The VHT Studios Blog or find us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram.

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Asbestos Removal Projects Continue for Bay Area Rapid Transit Station

Recently, Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) announced that the agency had directed contractors to remove asbestos from one of their most popular stations. Powell Street Station has three locations with asbestos that will be removed so that a project to install new ceiling panels and lights can progress safely. According to a news release from BART, “The material has not been a hazard while it remained undisturbed, however, since the installation of new ceiling panels and lights could cause…

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Construction Industry’s 2018 Economic Forecast to Debut at Dodge Data & Analytics 79th Annual Outlook Executive Conference

Dodge Data & Analytics will hold its 79th annual Dodge Construction Outlook Executive Conference, November 1-2, 2017, at the Swissôtel Chicago. To register, please visit 2018 Dodge Outlook. Continue Reading →