Congratulations!  You’ve decided to take the leap and buy your first home. But what does that really mean? Many people who are looking to buy their first home have no idea what steps are required to buy a house. It’s not as simple as making an offer and calling the movers, so today we’ll walk you through the process of buying your first home!

How to Determine Your Home Buying Budget

The first step to buying your first home is to determine your budget. This might seem like an obvious step, but netting out your income versus recurring bills and discretionary spending will give you a realistic idea of what you can comfortably afford.  Be sure to factor in expenses that are in the near future, such as a new vehicle or childcare. You’ll want to make sure you have a good handle on your finances before you take this important first step.  Make sure you factor your down payment into your budget as well. Average down payments vary by region, so ask your realtor or do your own research into how much you may be expected to put down on a new home.

Median Home Prices in the US
Median Home Price by State 2023 - Wisevoter

Steps to Take Before You Buy Your First Home

Once you’ve decided on your budget, it’s time to get approved for a mortgage. This will involve working with a lender who will review all your financial information and determine the loan amount you qualify for. Having a pre-approval not only saves time but will strengthen your position when putting in a home offer in a competitive market.

There are also different kinds of mortgages you can get.

  • A fixed-rate mortgage, which is ideal for buyers who are looking for a home they’ll be staying in for a long time. The payment rate for a fixed-rate mortgage does not change.
  • An adjustable-rate mortgage, which offers the ability to pay a set monthly payment, the rate of which does not change for the duration of the mortgage.

If you don’t see yourself staying for an extended period, an adjustable-rate mortgage might be more desirable to you. Adjustable-rate mortgages allow you to pay less in the short term but may require you to pay more later.  

Consider carefully which type of mortgage is right for your situation. Some websites offer mortgage calculators that can help you predict how much you’ll pay for a mortgage. Give it a try to get a rough idea of how much you’ll be paying.

Ways to Find a Great Real Estate Agent

Next, it’s time to find a real estate agent! A real estate agent can be a tremendous resource throughout the buying process. Ask your friends for referrals, read reviews, and meet with multiple agents until you find someone who understands your needs. You might look for a local real estate agent that understands the area that you like and is familiar with everything about the area to help you find the right home for your situation.  

Steps to Finding the Perfect First Home

Now it’s finally time to start your house hunt! There are a variety of apps available to help narrow your search to the appropriate budget, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, school district, or other factors.

It’s important to focus on your needs versus your wants.  Remember: aesthetics can be changed, but something like location or lot size cannot. Be sure that you’re considering changes that might occur while you’re living in the house and whether your desired property will be able to accommodate them. Don’t get bogged down by small, easily changed details like paint colors or flooring; try to think about the big picture.

Once you find “the one”, talk with your realtor and lender about the best negotiation tactics.  In addition to a down payment, you may be responsible for closing costs and an inspection, so don’t forget to factor those in when you’re considering your budget. These factors vary by state, so be sure to ask your realtor and do your own research into what closing costs you may be required to cover.Buying your first home is a great accomplishment, but it does take work. The preliminary steps of first-time home ownership should be carefully considered before you jump into buying a property. Remember to be patient, do your research and make the best decision for now and your future!

Ready to start saving for your first home? Marygold & Co. can help! Set up a Money Pool in your Marygold & Co. account to start saving for your first home today! Whether it’s buying your first home, saving up for vacation, or starting a future fund for children, you can prepare for it all in the Marygold & Co. app!

Job benefits are some of the most important factors to consider when looking into a new position. Everyone knows that salary is an essential component as well, and it’s often the first thing that people notice in a job description or offer. However, many people ignore the huge impact that job benefits can have on your health, lifestyle, and future.

What is a 401k plan?

One of the most impactful job benefits you can access is a 401k plan. Largely gone are the days of pension plans, which have been replaced by defined contribution plans; these are most commonly 401ks. These are tax advantaged plans, meaning that your contributions lower your gross income and therefore your tax bill for the current year. 401k funds are designed to be invested and over time, earn returns that help meet your retirement goals. It’s important to note company matches when looking at a 401k offering. This means that a company may match a certain percentage of your contributions; this is essentially free money toward your retirement and can add up to thousands of dollars to your fund in any given year.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau in 2022, nearly half of millennials have at least one kind of retirement account. The 401k is one of the most widely-used retirement plans, accounting for more than half of those numbers.

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What other job benefits can employers provide?

Additional offerings to consider are bonuses, stock options or profit sharing. These can all add to your immediate or future income and are used to reward loyal and high-performing employees. Be sure to consult with an accountant regarding the unique tax consequences to some of these awards, as it isn’t always as straightforward as other compensation plans.

Stock options are an incredibly useful benefit to consider, if your employer offers them. Stock options purchased or owned by an employee can retain their value even if the employee no longer works for the company, which means that you have the option to sell whenever you feel like it. Stocks have the opportunity to increase in value over time, so they can be a great benefit to consider if you’re interested in investing towards your future.

Meanwhile, profit sharing is exactly what it sounds like: receiving a portion of the company’s profit in addition to provided salary, bonuses, or other monetary offerings. However, rather than receiving this as a direct payout like a bonus, profit shares go into a retirement account, similar to a 401k. These earnings can be deposited quarterly or annually, so it’s important to check what kind of profit sharing plan your employer offers.

Professional Development & Reimbursement Plans

Professional development is another often-overlooked employee benefit. You may be able to get reimbursed for the cost of schooling or training that can help advance your career. It’s a good idea to look into mentorship and educational programs that will help you navigate the corporate structure and network for future opportunities.

It’s important to take advantage of any in-house trainings or education reimbursements that your company might offer, as they can help you further on in your career whether you stay with the company that provided them or not. These can be invaluable benefits for those who hope to continue their education or work their way upwards in a corporate environment.  

Bonus Job Benefits that Add Up

Last but not least are all of the little additional perks that really add up, such as corporate discounts, childcare savings plans, commuter benefits, flexible work schedules or locations, and sabbaticals. Companies offer these additional benefits to help take some of the stresses of working from employees, such as the cost of transportation to and from the office, or on-site childcare for employees. If your position requires you to work in-person, it’s worth asking if they offer some of these benefits.

You might also ask if your company provides a flexible work schedule that allows you to work when it’s most convenient for you. Companies might also offer hybrid work opportunities, meaning you work from home or the office depending on the day or your availability. According to Forbes, one in four companies offered a hybrid model in 2022, so you should consider asking your employer if it’s an option for you. Finally, some companies offer multiple office locations so that you can work at the office that’s most convenient for you to commute to. Combine financial savings with an impact on physical and mental well-being, and these may end up being some of the most important job benefits for you to consider!

When evaluating any potential new position, remember to look beyond the numbers presented for your salary and add up the true total compensation you will be receiving. While a high salary might be great in the short term, it’s equally important to consider other company offerings that will make noticeable differences in your future.

And when you accept your dream job, don’t forget to direct deposit your paycheck to your Marygold and Co. account where you can save for your other financial goals like a fun trip when your PTO kicks in! Don’t have the Marygold and Co. card yet? Download the app today!