For the second week in a row, mortgage applications decreased – this time, down 4.1% for the week ending Jan. 22, according to data from the Mortgage Bankers Association.The 30-year-fixed rate rose to 2.95%, its highest level since November 2020, according to Joel Kan, MBA associate vice president of economic and industry forecasting.
All other mortgage rates in the survey posted a decline.
“In a sign that borrowers are increasingly more sensitive to higher rates, large declines in government purchase applications and refinance applications pulled overall activity lower,” Kan said. âPurchase applications also decreased last week, but the impressive trend of year-over-year growth since the second half of 2020 has continued in early 2021.”
The seasonally adjusted purchase index decreased 4% from one week earlier, while the unadjusted purchase index increased 3 % compared with the previous week.
The refinance index has now declined two straight weeks, but is still 83% higher than last year.
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Kan noted that the unadjusted purchase index was still 16% higher than the same week one year ago.
“Since hitting a recent low in April 2020, the average purchase loan amount has steadily risen â in line with the accelerating home-price appreciation occurring in most of the country because of strong demand and extremely low inventory levels,” he said.
The FHA share of total mortgage applications increased to 9.4% from 9.3% the week prior. The VA share of total mortgage applications decreased to 12.4% from 13.8% the week prior.
Here is a more detailed breakdown of this weekâs mortgage application data:
The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with conforming loan balances ($510,400 or less) increased to 2.95% from 2.92%
The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with jumbo loan balances (greater than $510,400) decreased to 3.17% from 3.19%
The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages decreased to 2.88% from 3.01%
The average contract interest rate for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages decreased to 2.43% from 2.48%
The average contract interest rate for 5/1 ARMs decreased to 2.60% from 2.76%
The post Rising mortgage rates push applications lower appeared first on HousingWire.
I haven’t always been a minimalist, nor have I always been interested in minimalist living. I used to purchase crazy amounts of clothing, random items for my home, wasn’t interested in becoming a minimalist, and so on.
I hoarded lots of items, hoping that one day I would find a use for them. I often thought that I needed things, so I would purchase crazy amounts of them even though I should have put my money to better use.
Then, around two years ago, I realized that I had too much stuff and that I had an unhealthy relationship with material things.
Over the past two years, I have donated or given away the majority of my belongings. I now pretty much only have the things I need to get me through the day or week ahead. There is no extra, and before I purchase anything, I always think about what use I’ll get out of it.
After all, I travel full-time and there’s only so much I can carry. Plus, getting rid of the majority of my belongings has been hard, stressful, and tiring, and I definitely don’t want to experience that ever again!
I know that not everyone wants to be a minimalist. And, I’m not pushing it on anyone. I know that buying stuff isn’t all bad, and there are many material things that make life easier and better.
Instead, I want to introduce people to the idea of minimalist living, especially since the average person has lots of extra stuff in their lives that they don’t need. This can lead to debt, buying things just to impress others, wasting time, and so on.
Plus, being a minimalist has changed my life for the better, and I believe that it can help others as well.
I used to spend a lot of time thinking the things I bought and spending all of my money on new things, but I am far from that now.
It’s easy to get lost in the idea of spending money on things to fill your life, and the average home size has changed to make it only easier to feel like you have to buy more than you need. Consider this, the average home size in 1950 was less than 1,000 square feet. Fast forward to 2013, the average home size has increased to nearly 2,600 square feet, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
Clearly, we used to make due with less, and there are still many reasons for minimalist living:
Minimalist living can help you save more money. Minimalist living most likely means that you’ll be buying less stuff. Instead, you’ll only buy what you want and what you truly need.
Minimalist living means less clutter. Clutter can take over a person’s life. You may feel stressed out, tired, like your things are taking over your life, and more.
Minimalist living can give you more time.By living with less stuff, you can spend less time on cleaning, maintenance, and repairs. The more things you have, the more things that you’ll need to clean, maintain, and repair. Just think about what you could do with all of that extra time!
Here is how minimalist living has changed my life:
Clothing doesn’t define me.
By being a minimalist, I’ve definitely realized that I don’t need much in order to be happy. Before, I thought that I needed all the clothing in the world in order to be happy, but now I know that I really don’t need much.
In fact, I hardly ever purchase clothing, and I’ve been wearing nearly the same things for several years.
For me, it’s all about buying things that are more “classic,” won’t go out of style, things that I actually like instead of what’s trendy for that month, and so on.
It feels great when you realize that you don’t need all of that extra stuff in your life.
Instead, purchase what you want and need, rather than thinking about keeping up with others all the time or thinking that emotional spending is something that will help you.
Minimalist living gives me more time.
Minimalist living allows me to have more time to spend on other things.
Just think about it: The more things you have, then the more time you have to spend on using it, maintaining it, repairing it, cleaning it, and so on.
I would much rather live with less than think about all of the things that I own that need work done to them!
Related blog posts about minimalist living:
What I Learned By Donating And Giving Away Nearly All Of My Stuff
Downsizing Your Home? Here’s How I Went From A 2,000 Square Foot House To An RV
Minimalism 101: One Thing a Day
Maintaining a Minimalist Wardrobe
How I Live in a 400 Sq. Ft. House – My Minimalist Home
How I Live On A Sailboat
Why Paying For A Storage Unit Is A Waste of Money
With minimalist living, I’ve realized that I don’t need much.
Before I was a minimalist, I kept a lot of things because I thought I needed them for the future. On a regular basis, I probably only used around 25% of the things I had in my house.
In reality, it was probably even less than the 25% figure that I just said above.
I know I’m not alone, and many people keep items because they think they might need them in the future. You know the feeling– you buy something, don’t use it right away, and years later you find it but just can’t throw it away in case there is some circumstance where you need that exact item.
If this is you, then you should put a timeline of no more than one year on the item. If you don’t use it in that timeframe, then there’s a big chance that you’ll never need it or will even miss it that much.
Instead of buying items that you rarely use, you may want to think about renting or borrowing them from someone else.
When I think about how much stuff we gave away, I honestly can’t even remember half of the things. I realize now how little we really needed, and those things definitely did not make me happy if I can’t even remember them!
I save more money by living with less stuff.
Now that we live with less stuff, we are able to save a great deal of money. Instead of thinking that we need everything that exists, we are now much more realistic about our needs and realize that there’s a lot of clutter in the stores that no one really needs at all.
Plus, now that I realize how much money I’ve wasted over the years, I am able to say “no” at the store when debating about whether or not I should purchase a certain item, especially one that might create clutter.
I can also walk into a store and only buy exactly what I need, even if that store is Target!
I have so much more control over my spending and that has saved me a lot of money.
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I understand now that I don’t need things to make me happy.
Having more things doesn’t make you a happier person. Things don’t make you a better person, they don’t make you more successful than others, or anything else.
In fact, in many circumstances it’s far from that.
I know this because I have less stuff than I have ever had, and I am happier than ever.
Plus, when was the last time you heard someone say “I’m so glad I bought all those pairs of pants 35 years ago!” or “I’m so glad I had all of those things decades ago!”
You should only own something if you truly want or need it. Who cares about what everyone else has!
A minimalist house allows me to travel.
Unless I maintain my minimalist lifestyle and house (well, RV), then I wouldn’t be able to travel full-time. It would be quite hard and not nearly as enjoyable if I had a bunch of things holding me back.
I really, really love and enjoy being able to travel full-time, and it is one of the best benefits of living minimally.
Do you think minimalist living could change your life? Why or why not?
The post The Less You Own, The Less That Owns You appeared first on Making Sense Of Cents.
Minimalism has become a popular practice in recent years. When you live as a minimalist, you strive to only use things that serve a purpose. Itâs about living simply and having only what you need to go about your daily life. For instance, some people may start a no-spend challenge or only fill their home with items they absolutely need. Not only could you save money, but you can also save time on cleaning and organizing.
Practicing minimalism is an ongoing process. Youâll always find ways to improve and modify your minimalism. To start, evaluate what currently serves a purpose in your life and what may be superfluous. When you practice a minimalist mindset, youâre choosing to live a more focused life. You may start with cleaning up your budget and then move on to organizing your home. Taking the first steps to declutter your life is a big move, but you might need a game plan to make these habits stick.
Many of us may have too much stuff, and may even be spending too much on unnecessary purchases. Establishing a consistent and healthy budget should help you cut down on the things you donât need and may even reduce your anxiety and stress. To keep track of your minimalist budget, download our app for easy accessibility. If youâre considering doing some decluttering this season, skip to our infographic or keep reading for in-depth tips on practicing a minimalist lifestyle.
Minimalist Lifestyle Starter Tips
When first starting out your journey, itâs important to start small. From changing your shopping habits to going strictly digital, there are lots of ways to switch up your routine. Here are our go-to tips for kickstarting your minimalism journey.
1. Shop Quality, Not Quantity
Minimalism doesnât mean you never go shopping, it just means youâre more intentional with your purchases. Whether youâre in need of a new pair of running shoes or work pants, invest in quality pieces that will last you a long time. Even though a higher price tag may be less than ideal at the time, youâll likely save money in the long run by cutting down on frequent purchases. Not to mention, youâll cut down on waste â one garbage truck of clothes is discarded every second.
2. Digitize Movies and Books
If youâre a big reader or movie watcher, consider going digital with your collection. This will save space in your home and make sure you can always find what you want. Instead of having to go to the store for your next read, you could get it at your fingertips in a couple of clicks. If you like to physically feel the book pages every time you flip the page, consider checking out your local library. You can find all sorts of books at no charge.
3. Eliminate, Eliminate, Eliminate
One of the most important parts of minimalism is cutting down on things you donât need. To start decluttering, identify what serves a purpose in your life and what doesnât. From there, start to see how you can cut down items that donât add value to your life, and then get rid of them entirely. You could test the waters by doing a mindful money challenge before decluttering your whole life.
4. Invest In Reusables
As you start to declutter your home, consider what products could be reused. One simple change could be swapping out your disposable water bottles for a glass reusable one. Or, even bring your reusable takeaway coffee cup with you every time you visit your local cafe. Not only could you get a discount for bringing your own cup, but youâre also helping cut down on single-use products!
5. Give Everything a Place
Once you get into a rhythm, give every item a place. Get creative with storage bins and organizers to ensure youâre able to store exactly what you need. If you donât have a spot for some of your extras, it may be time to consider if they are items you really need to keep. As your minimalist space falls into place, hold yourself accountable for putting away items once youâre done using them.
5 Money-Saving Minimalism Best Practices to Follow
Itâs one thing to start out your minimalism journey, but another to keep your practice going. To live an intentional life, there are some easy practices to follow. Keep reading to see where this could help save you more time, money, and stress.
1. Invest in Experiences
A popular practice in minimalism is prioritizing experiences over buying material items. Some people value the memories created from trips or classes over having the latest gadgets or fashions. Determine where you stand and spend intentionally.
As minimalism may cut down on your âextraâ budget expense, you may also have more leeway to spend on other things. With this extra budget, be intentional with where you choose to put your money. Save up your takeaway coffee budget to invest in a weekend away with your family. You may find yourself saving more and spending less time on things that drain your budget.
2. Re-Audit Your Life Frequently
Take time to assess your current spending habits and then consistently review them. Always cut out things that take up space or events that drain your energy. As you get more comfortable, you may find yourself wanting to get rid of things you thought you couldnât live without. For instance, your cluttered kitchen may be useless if you reach for the same items every time you cook â cut down on the things you havenât used to make more room to cook.
3. Cut Meaningless Expenses
Turns out, the average American spends $18,000 a year on unnecessary purchases. As you review your budget, you may be able to cut out a large portion of these expenses. For things you may not want to completely eliminate, find inexpensive alternatives. You may swap a vacation across the county for a staycation in the comfort of your backyard.
4. Let Go of What You Canât Control
Letting go of things you canât control may seem easier said than done. To find that balance, start by focusing on things you love to do or have. Once you have narrowed down whatâs most important to you, focus your energy on that. Being thankful for what you do have may even cut down on your budget. You may find yourself reusing what you do have rather than wanting more.
5. Appreciate What You Have
Practice gratitude and focus on the positives. Instead of scrolling through social media, write out three to five things youâre grateful for. Practicing gratitude first thing in the morning may put you in a positive mood and help you prepare for the day ahead of you. Being grateful for what you have might even cut your urge to overspend on things you donât need.
could be a minimalist? If so, check out our top TED Talk tips for practicing minimalism and how it may benefit you. Turns out, sometimes living with less could mean so much more.
Sources: Making Sense of Cents | CNBC 1, 2
The post 10 Minimalist Lifestyle Tips to De-Stress and Save Money appeared first on MintLife Blog.
The best money market mutual funds are a good place to keep your cash while earning interest.Â Bank checking and savings accounts and money market accounts are good alternatives for your cash.
But money market funds offer a higher rate of return than these other short-term investments.
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One of the best money market mutual funds is the Vanguard Prime Money Market Fund. This fund has a current yield of 1.69%. That is way more than any checking and savings account are offering.
Money market funds are considered very safe. However, they are not FDIC insured. If the lack of FDIC insurance concerns you, you may wish to invest in online savings accounts, money market accounts, or certificate of deposits (CDs).
In this article, we will define what a money market fund is. We will list the cons and pros of those funds. We will address the main situations you will need these type of funds. Finally, we will list the best money market mutual funds to choose from.
What are money market funds?
Money market funds are a type of mutual funds. They were launched in 1975 as a way to provide investors quick liquidity to their cash, provide current income and protect the investors’ principal.
Since then, they have become extremely popular. Unlike other mutual funds which focus on other securities such as stocks and bonds, they invest in “money market” securities.
Large companies and corporations, financial institutions and the U.S. government borrow money by issuing “money market” securities as promises to repay the debts.
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For instance, the U.S. government borrows money by selling bonds or Treasury bills or notes. Banks borrow money by selling certificate of deposit (CDs).
Big companies borrow money by issuing IOUs called commercial paper. These money market securities make up the money market fund.
Mutual fund and investment companies such as Vanguard and Fidelity offer these investments. They are low risk and they provide high yield.
Some funds are intended for retail investors. Retail investors are natural investors like you and me.
On the other hand, there are funds that are intended for institutional investors. Those funds usually require high minimum investments.
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Money Market funds vs. Money Market Accounts
The names may sound the same. But, they are two different types of investments.
To recap, a money market fund is a type of mutual fund. A mutual fund company such as Vanguard or Fidelity offers this type of investment. These funds invest in short-term debt. They offer higher returns than money market accounts.
On the other hand, a money market account is a type of savings account. Banks offer them.
But the rates of return are typically higher than that of a typical savings account. Unlike money market funds, they are insured by the FDIC.
Money market fund advantages:
Money market funds are one of the best and safest places to invest your hard-earned money. You will earn more interest than in a regular savings or checking account. Here are some of the advantages of these funds.
They are very safe. Money market funds are not FDIC insured, like savings accounts and CDs are. But, they are very safe.
Since they were launched, only 2 out of hundreds have run into trouble. If you concerned about the lack of insurance, you may wish to consider an online savings account or a money market account.
They are liquid and easily accessible. Another advantage of money market funds is that you have immediate access to your money.
You may withdraw your money anytime you wish without incurring penalty. Also, you can cash in your shares by phone, online, by mail or through your broker with relative ease.
You may write checks. Another positive aspect of a money market fund is that you can tap your money by writing checks against your account with no charge.
And some funds allow you to write checks for any amount for free.
They provide higher yields. They pay higher yields than a traditional savings account.
The reason is because the borrowers, i.e., the US government and big corporations are solid institutions and they agree to repay the debts at high interest rates.
Tax advantages. Some funds invest in securities where the interests are exempt from federal taxes, and in some cases state income taxes.
All of these factors make money market funds popular with people who want to invest for their short term goals.
While there several pros to investing in money market funds, there are some cons as well.
Lower return. Because access to your money are relatively easy in a money market fund, they have lower returns than other investments such as stocks, bonds and index fund.
They are not FDIC insured. As mentioned earlier, the federal government does not insure these funds .
Other investments such as online savings accounts, money market accounts, certificate of deposits are. But again they are very safe.
However, if the lack of FDIC insurance bothers you, stick with bigger mutual fund companies.
Situations when investing in money market funds makes sense?
You have a short-term investment goal. You may want to invest in these funds for short-term goals.
If you’re planning on buying a house in the next year or so and looking for safe place to save for the down payment, then they’re a good place for your cash.
You’re saving for a rainy day. If you’re saving for an emergency fund, a money market fund is also a good place to park your cash.
You certainly don’t want to invest in the stock market, because you can lose money within a relatively short period of time due to market volatility.
You want to diversify your portfolio. Money market funds are not aggressive investments such as stocks or bonds.
That’s why these funds are safer and very conservative. When the stock market plunges, these funds can balance your portfolio out.
So, you can use this type of investment as a complement to your other and riskier investments.
The best Vanguard money market mutual funds:
Vanguard Prime Money Market
Vanguard Treasury Money Market
Vanguard Federal Money Market
Vanguard Municipal Money Market
List of best money market funds
1. The Vanguard Prime Money Market Fund (VMMXX).
This Fund is perhaps one of the best out there.
However, this fund requires a minimum deposit of $3,000 just to open an account. This can be steep for a beginner investor with little money. The expense ratio is 0.16%.
There is no purchase or redemption fees. The fund has a total asset of $127.5 billion as of January 2020.
The Vanguard Prime Money Market primarily invests in foreign bonds, U.S. treasury bills, and U.S Government obligations.
2. The Vanguard Treasury Money Market Fund (VUSXX).
As the name suggests, this Vanguard money fund only invests in U.S. Treasury bills. However, the fund has a minimum initial investment of $50,000.
It may be out reach for beginner investors with little money. But the expense ratio is 0.09%.
The current yield is 1.58% while the 10 year yield is 0.55%. If you are a wealthy investor, you should consider this fund.
3. The Vanguard Federal Money Market Fund (VMFXX).
This Vanguard money fund is perhaps the safest and most conservative of all funds, simply because they invest in U.S. government securities.
U.S. guaranteed securities are considered risk-free investments. It intends to provide current income while maintaining liquidity.
This Vanguard fund requires a $3,000 initial minimum investments. It has a 0.11% expense ratio.
The current yield is 1.58% and a 10 year yield of 0.55%.
So, if you have a short term goal and are interested in a Vanguard fund that invests in U.S government securities, you may wish to consider this fund.
4. Vanguard Municipal Money Market Fund.
This Vanguard fund invests in short-term, high quality municipal securities.
What makes this fund a great one is that it provides income that is exempt from federal personal income taxes.
If you are in a higher tax bracket and are looking for a competitive tax-free yield, you should consider this fund.
Similar to other funds, the initial minimum investment is $3,000 with a 0.15%. This fund has a current yield of 1.20% and a 10 year yield of 0.44%.
Overall, you should consider investing in these best money market funds, because they generally pay you better than bank savings accounts and money market accounts.
But the FDIC does not insure you. However, they are very safe. If the lack of FDIC insurance does not bother you, you should try them.
Decide whether investing in money market is best for you
While a money market fund may sound great, it’s not for everyone. It won’t help those with a long term investment strategy, such as retirement.
For those with a long term focus, investing in individual stocks, real estate, or index funds may be an option instead.
Moreover, younger and aggressive investors should keep less money in money market funds than older investors who are approaching retirement.
However, if you’re looking to make a purchase soon (in the next year or so), such as buying a home, these funds make sense.
In addition, investors who want to diversify their portfolio may find that money market funds are great investments as they are very safe when compared to risky alternatives such as stocks and bonds.
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The post The Best Money Market Mutual Funds To Consider appeared first on GrowthRapidly.
The record-breaking 2020 fire season has seen huge wildfires tear across California. In fact, five of the six largest fires ever recorded in the state have occurred this year, endangering residents, prompting evacuations and leading to thousands of lost buildings.
Unfortunately, researchers are forecasting even longer, more extreme wildfire seasons in the years to come — which means fire safety is now fast becoming a feature more treasured than even the most extravagant of amenities. And home builders are starting to cater to that need, coming up with ingenious ways to ‘fire-proof’ their projects.
One stunning example of that is this newly-built $5 million home in Marin County, Calif. that prioritizes fire safety — something that’s likely to become a new standard for million dollar homes throughout the Golden State.
The builder picked all of the outdoor finishes with fire safety in mind, using only steel, glass and concrete. Even the decks are made from Fibergrate (a type of molded fire-resistant fiberglass and stone).
In fact, the only wood you’ll find in this home is the wide-plank engineered oak floors. As expected, there is also a fire suppression system throughout the home.
Yet fire safety is not the only area in which this home excels. With its dramatic walls of glass, soaring steel beamed ceilings, and high-end designer finishes, the property is a stunning example of modern 21st century architecture.
Set in the coveted Country Club neighborhood of San Rafael — roughly 11 miles north of San Francisco — the house boasts a modern industrial design, with its walls of glass opening up the indoor areas to the outdoor greenery and flooding the home with sunlight and captivating views. The space is anchored by a stunning ua-modern kitchen and features wide-plank oak flooring and a modern fireplace.
The fire-resistant home comes with 4 bedrooms, 3.5 bathrooms, and quite a few ua-modern features. It has its own solar system (powered by 28 solar panels) and battery back up systems for when the power is out, and has been outfitted with smart home technology like a Doorbird Entry System, Nest thermostats, smart lighting, automatic blinds and more.
Adding to that wow factor is a dramatic, Instagram-worthy foyer at the entrance, which has ‘living walls’ of exotic plants on both sides. Same goes for the outdoor pool, which comes with a built-in spa, automatic safety cover and gas heater.
The home is currently on the market with a $4,995,000 price tag. Thomas Henthorne with Golden Gate Sotheby’s International Realty is exclusively representing the property.
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