New Study Shows People Still Not Aware of Resources Available to Them For Homeownership

A decade after the housing market collapsed, a new survey reveals that many people are unaware of resources and counseling that can improve their prospects of owning their own home. Housing counseling offered by NeighborWorks Rochester helps close to 150 residents annually achieve their goal of buying a home, and could do so for many others who have the same dream.
Joanne Panarisi-Bottone, Executive Director of NeighborWorks Rochester states, “Our goal is to ensure that first-time homebuyers make informed decisions based on their personal finances, goals and dreams. Our coach approach supports sustainable homeownership for both the individuals and the community by working with individuals to create a clear path, remove obstacles, and avoid the many pitfalls that a first-time buyer may encounter, such as predatory lending.” Neighborworks Rochester is an affiliate of NeighborWorks Community Partners, a member of the NeighborWorks America national network.
The sixth annual NeighborWorks America at Home  survey found that people with the most debt –millennials and women—are less likely to be homeowners, and large numbers would like to be, but don’t know where to turn for help in achieving their dream.

Among the findings:

  • Women: 29 percent of women have student loan debt, compared to 23 percent of men. Fifty percent of women worry about this type of debt all or most of the time.
  • People of color: 48 percent of people of color are burdened with student loan debt, compared to 22 percent of white women and 15 percent of white men.
  • Millennials: 56 percent of millennials worry about student loan debt some or most of the time.
  • Overall awareness of help available: 46 percent of all adults are unfamiliar with nonprofits that offer debt counseling for free or at a low cost.

 “It’s important for people to have the proper tools and resources so they are informed consumers from the moment they consider owning a home,” says Karen Hoskins, acting vice president of homeownership programs and lending at NeighborWorks America. “A housing counselor can guide them through what often seems a daunting, confusing process. Consumers also will benefit by thinking about housing counselors as helpful sources of information about services such as down-payment assistance.”

For more information about NeighborWorks Rochester’s homebuyer resources, visit our Homeownership Page. For more information about the America at Home survey, click on this link.

Is Your New Year’s Resolution To Take Control of Debt?

Did you make a New Year’s Resolution? Many people make resolutions for the New Year such as eating healthy, losing weight, increasing savings, getting out of debt, quitting smoking, etc. Was yours to make better decisions about money?

If your goal is to take better control of your finances, here are some quick tips for staying on track:

  1. Have a vision board with your written goals on it. As items are completed, check them off. A vision board is a constant reminder of your goals. People who have vision boards are reminded every day of their goals, and are most likely to complete them. It might be on your refrigerator, or on your bathroom mirror, on your car’s sun visor or at your desk at work.
  2. Know what your total debt is. Add up your total net income. Add up your current household expenses. Is there money left over after all the bills are paid? If not, then there are two options: increase income or current expenses need to be reduced.
  3. Are any of your current expenses “Want” instead of a “Need”? Is cable TV an absolute must-have for you or your family or can you cut it out of your budget? Can you make more meals at home rather than dining out? Do you purchase coffee on your way to work every day? Make a cup at home to reduce your daily expenses. It all adds up over time.
  4. Have you had an Energy Assessment done on your home? It could save you money on your monthly utility bills and cost you nothing. Visit NeighborWorks Energy Services to learn more.
  5. Look for ways to earn extra income. Working over-time, internet income opportunities, obtaining a better-paying job, selling some stored items in your attic or garage are all ways to increase your bottom line. Do you have items that are collecting dust that you do not use can be sold? Start preparing for a garage sale, virtual or real.
  6. Use any extra money you make or receive -a bonus, commissions, tax refunds – to start paying down your debt. Pay the bills with the smallest balances first and/ or pay bills with the highest interest rates first.
  7. Always make sure you pay your bills on time to avoid the extra late charges.

 

Once you start paying down your debt, your stress levels will reduce, and you will feel much better once you achieve your goal. And isn’t that what resolutions are all about?

If you feel you need more help to take charge of your debt, sign up for one of our Financial Fitness Classes by creating a Compass Account. Or give us a call at 585-325-4170.

10 Tips for your Holiday Budget

The Holiday season is meant for quality time with family, and friends creating wonderful memories. It’s also a time where we spend more money than usual – the average family spends about $700.00 more during Holiday season. The last thing you want to do is let money worries add stress to your holidays.   

To keep you on track and keep stress away, here are 10 Holiday Budgeting tips to make your holidays less stressful:

  1. Pay your regular bills on time to avoid the extra late charges. If you can, pay more than the minimum charges.
  2. Set up automatic bill pay thru your bank.
  3. Pay with Cash or Debit card. Leave the credit cards at home. You can even give each household member an envelope with their holiday spending cash – when it’s gone, it’s gone.
  4. Don’t add on more debt to your current debt load.
  5. Have a budget in place and stick to it. Be honest and realistic when planning your budget and include EVERYTHING including wrapping paper, greeting cards, even the cost of gas or the bus for your shopping. You can use any down time immediately after the holidays to set a plan in place for next year.
  6. Find creative ways to spend less money on gifts. Consider making your own gifts – sometimes a handmade gift can be more personal and memorable.
  7. Shop early, look for discount coupons, comparative shop. Sign up for email alerts from retailers that will let you know when items go on sale, and they may even give you special offers for signing up.
  8. Set a spending limit and a create a list for gift giving.
  9. If entertaining, use coupons for food purchases and/ or shop in bulk. Planning your purchases in advance will go a long way towards helping you save money.
  10. Look at the current services you have to see if you can reduce your current household expenses. Are any of the entertainment services (cable, internet, etc.) offering discounts for the new year? You may never know unless you ask.

Remember to take time for yourself to relax, read a good book, listen to music or whatever puts you in a your place of zen. The less stressed you are, the more you can enjoy this special time with family and friends.

PS: Did you know NeighborWorks Rochester offers classes on budgeting, fixing your credit and much more? We’re here to help.