Thinking of Buying a House?

August 26, 2009

blog_house

Unless you’ve been living under a rock or over a rainbow, you’ve surely noticed that the global economy has suffered a massive bout of what I like to call EPIC FAIL. But you might also have noticed that the month of July just posted a 9.7% increase in sales of new houses since June. I’m sure this is in no small because the government is giving $8,000 to first time homebuyers that I’ve heard can even be counted toward your down payment.

A lot of twentySomethings have been working for a few years and have stockpiled a good sum of money while not having enough of it in the market to be squandered. Many of us also are points in our lives where we’re looking to settle down, maybe buy a house and start a family. It’s only natural to follow the mold and think of buying a house these days if you still have a job and money in the bank. After all, housing prices haven’t looked like this in years!

If you’ve only recently begun thinking of buying a house, don’t forget that the price of the house is not the only thing that matters. HOA (Homeowners Association) fees are imposed on many condos and apartments, and some housing neighborhoods as well. In California, cities, counties and districts can impose Mello-Roos taxes on your property on top of the state property tax. Then there are maintenance fees that renters don’t have to think about, like when your toilet breaks or your shower leaks or your dishwasher breaks. Oh, and if you’re not paying monthly utilities for water and trash, those will officially become your responsibility. Those are all landlord problems, and you’re thinking of becoming a landlord! On top of all those there are the fees you’re going to pay just to buy the house, which may include closing and escrow fees (and buying fees if you eventually sell the house somewhere down the line).

In the interest of full disclosure, I do not own a house and I’ve never purchased one. That really means there may be even more costs I haven’t considered or mentioned, like costs associated with taking care of your lawn. But for many people this is a worthwhile investment, if not financially then just because people take pride in owning their home. For those of you looking to buy, I advise you to make use of this Rent vs. Buy Calculator provided by the New York Times website.

Happy Hunting!
-RT

Advertisements

Further Enrich Your Life Through Podcasts

April 17, 2009

It is pretty common these days for people to try and broaden their knowledge in different topics through Googling, looking at Youtube how-to videos, Wikipedia, blogs, etc.  But another resource I’ve tapped into is subscribing to podcasts.  It is amazing how many people regularly podcast content for free for your listening pleasure.  And there are a lot of really good ones that are guaranteed to enlighten you in any topic you may be interested in.  Here are a few thoughts on how to get started and how to make subscribing to podcasts useful for you.

First, some of you may still be asking, what’s a podcast? According to wikipedia, a Podcast is “series of digital media files, usually digital audio or video, that is made available for download via Web syndication.”  Someone who runs a podcast will typically record and broadcast an episode regularly, and thanks to many free programs out there these days, these episodes can be made available to us as soon as they are broadcasted.  It is common for people to download these podcasts, load them into a media player (such as an iPod) so they can conveniently listen to these podcasts anywhere.

There are many ways that people manage and discover podcasts.  There are different “podcast catchers” out there, as well as websites with lists of different podcasts to subscribe to.  Usually these podcasts are in the form of an “.xml” feed.. it works similarly to an RSS feed.  The address for that feed is what you want to enter when asked what feed you would like to subscribe to.  When a new episode is available, the podcast catcher will see it in the Podcast feed and download it.  I personally manage my podcasts through iTunes because I find it very easy to search for podcasts in the iTunes store, subscribe to them right away inside iTunes, and then listen to them.  Another customizable setting that is worth noting is the “auto delete” setting.  By default, a podcast program will usually auto-delete podcasts after a certain number of days, or after they are played.  I like to have control over which podcasts I keep and which podcasts I delete, so I usually select whatever option it is that never deletes podcasts episodes.

Whatever you’re interested in, there is probably a podcast for you to subscribe to.  For me, I’ve listened to and watched podcasts about topics ranging from personal finance, the stock market, the economy… to food, fitness, health… to discussions about the environment and living an eco-friendly lifestyle, to free music lesson series, free “personal trainer,” workout music… I even subscribe to my favorite morning show so I don’t miss out on the fun topics they discuss at 6am when I’m still sleeping.  The possibilities are endless.  Just search for a topic you’re interested in and start subscribing!

-debs.