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May Journal 2022

Why It's (Almost) Never A Bad Time to Buy a Home

If you've put your homebuying plans on hold because of rising rates and prices, think again. It could still be a very good time for you to buy. Here's why:

Today's inflation may be creating a better outlook for buyers, as it tends to reduce competition for homes. And the equity earned by homeownership has always been a good "hedge" against inflation.

You may be happier buying now. Homeownership offers a sense of belonging and security that everyone in your family will appreciate. You'll also avoid future rent rises while reaping attractive tax benefits (your tax advisor can fill you in on these).

Attempting to time the real estate market is tough. The 2020 arrival of COVID was a big reminder that nobody can predict tomorrow's markets. So, if you're waiting for interest rates or home prices to fall before buying, you may end up waiting for years while you miss out on the economic and personal benefits of homeownership.1


What's a Mortgage Recast?

If you've recently come into a large sum of money, you may be considering paying off or paying down your outstanding loans, including your mortgage. When you pay down a substantial amount of your loan you may benefit from what many mortgage lenders call a loan recast. This is when your lender recalculates your monthly payments based on your outstanding balance and remaining term, lowering your monthly payments over the life of the loan. While a recast doesn't require a new appraisal, a fairly large lump sum is required. In addition, not all mortgages allow them.

Additional points to consider are:

Do you want a shorter loan term?

A recast doesn't allow this; instead, it lowers your monthly payments. If you want to pay off your mortgage ahead of schedule, you may be better off refinancing to a shorter loan term or making additional payments towards your loan's principal.

What about other debts?

If you have outstanding student loans or credit card debt, your cash flow may see a bigger improvement if you use your windfall to pay down or eliminate these. Paying down higher-interest debt may also increase your credit score.

As always, we’re available to answer all your home financing questions and would be happy to discuss options that may work best for you!2


Make The Most of Your Tax Refund

Recent stats showed that the IRS has already sent out 30 million refunds in 2022. While you may be planning to do some shopping or take a trip if you receive a refund, here are a few other options to consider.

Using your refund to pay down credit card debt will improve your overall finances, especially since the Federal Reserve is planning more rate increases to help slow inflation. Putting a sum of money toward credit card balances may lower the amount of interest you pay while increasing your credit score.

If the pandemic put a dent in your emergency savings, consider using the refund to restock your coffers.

Emergencies hit when we least expect them, and if you have an emergency fund, you won't need to resort to using credit cards to handle them. If you or a family member is unable to work for more than a few weeks, this fund will help keep the bills paid during this time.

If you're comfortable with your emergency savings and have minimal debt, there are several other ways to put your tax refund to work. Deposit some or all of it in your savings or retirement account or use it to finance a home improvement project.3


Whether you're a future or current homeowner, here are a few fun facts

1. New York home-owners are required to disclose whether any ghosts inhabit or frequently visit the home when offering it for sale.

2. Love pets? Better keep a couple laws in mind: it's illegal to keep an alligator in your tub in Arkansas. And forget about keeping your horse in a South Carolina bathtub.

3.Today's housewarming parties are attributed to guests bringing firewood for the new fireplace...making the event a genuine housewarming!4


Are Your Favorite Snacks Victims of Shrinkflation?

It's not easy being cheesy when inflation is flaming -- that's why your next bag of Cheetos probably won't be as full as a few months ago. Other food manufacturers are coping with inflation in similar fashion, nicknamed "shrinkflation". Bags of Doritos have five fewer chips, while packaging for Gatorade and Wheat Thins have been reduced in size.5

Other food giants have rebranded items before reducing their size and contents, such as Birthday Edition Oreos.

Shrinkflation isn't limited to groceries. Here's what to look out for when shopping for a new vehicle or during your next vacation:

Roboflation: Airlines are hiring chatbots instead of employees, while restaurants are replacing waitstaff with QR codes.

Swapflation: GM is swapping out heated seats for basic, chilly alternatives.

Skimpflation: Hilton and Marriott are ditching standard room cleaning, making guests "opt in" instead. Hyatt has even removed mini shampoo bottles.6


Love Gardening but Hate Digging? Go Vertical

While backyard gardening's a popular hobby, life in a condo or apartment doesn't provide this option. Or perhaps your back or knees don't enjoy traditional gardening chores. This is when a vertical garden is a smart choice.

Created with two or more tiers of planter boxes, vertical gardens are typically made of wood, metal or plastic and take up around the same amount of space as a bookcase. While most come with their own stand, some are designed to be attached to a wall (these may require more effort to install).

They can go indoors in an area with sufficient sun for your plant choices, or on a porch, balcony, or patio. Some popular plant choices for vertical gardens: herbs, strawberries, kale, lettuce, and smaller perennial flowers.7




Sources: 1; 2; 3; 4; 5; 6; 7

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