Financial Focus for 2021

How to Focus Financially in the New Year

By Jessica Larson, SolopreneurJournal.com

New year, clean slate. Well, maybe it doesn’t seem like it, with the pandemic still very much in play and lots of the same challenges hitching a ride with us into 2021. 

 

You may not be able to wipe away all your debt as you turn the page on your calendar, or step into a new job opportunity right away on January 1. But you can still clear your thoughts, refocus your goals, adopt a new attitude, and start fresh with new ideas to improve your financial situation as the new year gets underway. Here are some ideas on how to do that.

Determine what’s different

What changed in your situation during 2020, and have you adapted to meet those changes? Here are just some of the factors that affected most people during the year that’s just concluded:

  • Transitions from office work to remote work
  • Loss of income from rental properties, or eviction notices
  • Job losses in the service sector, such as restaurant and hospitality workers, retail associates, and travel industry staffers
  • Strains on hospital staff and other health-care workers
  • Fewer in-person entertainment options (movies, concerts, sporting events)
  • Depletion of savings accounts while trying to stay afloat in difficult circumstances.

Take an inventory of what you’ve gone through, how you’ve met the challenges, and how (with 2020 hindsight) you might change your approach in the coming year.

Review your credit report

The information on your credit report can make life harder or easier. A high score can unlock low interest rates on mortgages and credit cards, saving you lots of money. However unresolved debts, identity theft, or even errors can block you from renting an apartment, getting a mortgage, buying a car, landing a job, or getting a security clearance.

It’s normal for credit scores to go up and down as life circumstances change. Carrying higher balances on your credit cards, making a late payment, new “hard inquiries”… all of those things can lower your score temporarily. However, if you have a debt in collections or an error on your report, ignoring it will only make the problem worse. Start the new year by resolving to dispute it yourself or get professional help to fight back or negotiate a solution you can live with. 

Identify opportunities for growth

The economic climate in 2020 created many hardships, but it also brought new opportunities. Look into what those are and identify where you may be able to help fill a newly created niche.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, five of the 20 fastest growing industries in the next decade will be in health care and social assistance. The individual and family services sector leads the way, with a projected annual growth of 3.4%.

Other growth areas include:

  • Forestry (3.7%)
  • Support activities for mining (2.8%)
  • Home health services (2.6%)
  • Outpatient care (2.6%)
  • Computer systems design (2.3%)
  • Grantmaking (2.2%)
  • Software publishers (1.9%)
  • Independent authors, writers, and performers (1.9%)

Does your work fit into any of these categories, or can you expand your skill set to fill one of these needs? If you’re traditionally employed, ask your boss for training in a growth area. If you’re self-employed, a contractor, or between jobs, seek out extended education courses and online learning opportunities. Improve your networking and even consider finding a mentor.

Cover your blind side

Just because 2020 is moving (mercifully) into the rearview mirror, more challenges — and unexpected perils — still may lie ahead. You never know what’s around the next corner in life, and it pays to be prepared.

If you faced a loss of income or had to dig into your savings, you’ll have to be extra careful to guard against further financial hits in the year ahead. Make sure your home, auto, and health insurance are good to go. Revisit your policies to find out if you can save money by changing insurers, eliminating overlap, or bundling policies together. 

While you’re at it, protect what’s inside your home, too. If you’re renting, renters insurance can cover the theft of property from your unit, whether it’s a valuable heirloom or childhood comic book collection. If you own your home, consider a home warranty, which can cover the cost of repairs to major systems (HVAC, plumbing, etc.) and appliances like your dishwasher or fridge.

Plan for the future

People typically make new year’s resolutions to cover a single year, but any life changes you make now can last far longer, whether you’re quitting a bad habit or forming a good one.

One habit can involve how you use credit. How does your credit score look? Did you know you can request a free credit report once a year? Learn what’s in it, what it means, and how to improve it. Here are some basic methods:

  • Pay your bills on time.
  • Make utility and cellphone bill payments promptly.
  • Keep credit card balances low.
  • Don’t apply for too much credit.

Now’s also a great time to make sure you’re preparing for retirement with the proper savings options. If your employer offers a 401(k) with matching contributions, that’s worth exploring. You might want to consider IRAs, annuities, and other options, as well. What investments can you make to solidify your long-term financial stability?

Many of the plans you make involve paperwork, so do your research and consult a professional financial planner and/or lawyer. For your family’s sake, make sure your life insurance, health-care directives, will, and estate are in order, with documents signed and filed with the appropriate agencies. 

You may be bringing a good deal of 2020’s finances with you into 2021, but you’ll still be able to make a difference by exploring new approaches to fiscal health and planning ahead — for the year to come and for the longer term.

By assessing your position, looking for ways to improve it, and guarding yourself against future crises, you can make the year ahead (and the years after that) more fruitful and less stressful.

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What Is The BRRRR Method?

Reach Financial Independence and Retire Early through BRRRR

Everybody’s dream is to reach financial independence at an early age an enjoy the rest of their life without having to worry about making money to pay their bills. Thankfully there is a way to reach retirement early and enjoy your life.

Recently there’s been a growing movement named FIRE, which stands for financial independence and retire early. Just as the name states, the action focuses on reaching financial freedom at an early age and retiring. However, this is not an easy feat, especially the achieving financial freedom part.

Thankfully, there is a real estate practice named BRRRR, which can help you in reaching financial freedom at an early age. The name stands for Buy, Rehab, Rent, Refinance, and Repeat, a method that has proven to be successful with real estate investors looking to reach financial independence.

The FIRE movement

How realistic is the FIRE movement for your lifestyle

Taking part in financial independence and retire early (FIRE) movement requires that you adapt your lifestyle and make several changes to reach financial freedom. There are several steps you could take to achieve this. All these steps will help you save money, avoid spending on unnecessary things, and boost income.

Your ultimate goal if you’re someone who seeks to implement FIRE into your lifestyle is to have enough savings so that you can live off of it for the rest of your life. It is here where real estate investments are so significant since, when done right, they can generate passive income, which needs little work to be maintained.

Financial independence with a passive income can happen through real estate. Still, you must first choose a real estate investment method that works for you. It is here where the Buy, Rehab, Refinance, Rent, and Repeat (BRRRR) method comes into play. This method is one of the most popular investment methods among real estate investors since it has proven it can work time and time again.

The BRRRR Investment Method

Buying, rehabbing, renting, refinancing, and repeating are the base components for practicing the BRRRR investment method. However, there is certain information that you must know to make the most out of each step in your journey towards financial freedom.

The BRRRR Method: A Real Estate Portfolio-Building Blueprint

Step 1: Buy

The first and perhaps most crucial step in the process is to find the right property. You must conduct an extended amount of research to calculate the potential return on your initial investment. Ensuring a maximum return on your investment depends on what property you get, and what home loan you use to get that property.

Several home loans are available to purchase a property. However, there are some which are insured by the United States government. These government-insured loans come with several incentives which include low to no down payments, more flexible credit score requirements, and low monthly payment options.

Step 2: Rehab

After finding a suitable property and purchasing it, the next step is for you to begin the rehab process. The process will address all repairs and improvements that must be made to the property to increase its value. Also, to ensure the best fixes to your property, it is recommended that you get the home looked at by an inspector. The inspector then will make determinations as to what repairs need to make; these will include fixes like:

– Repairing the roof

– Installing new carpets and replacing kitchen appliances

– Upgrading bathrooms and wall paint in the property.

– Improving the outside of the property by landscaping it

– Building extra bedrooms to single-family homes and upgrading multi-family residences by making more rooms.

These repairs and upgrades will raise the property’s value and increase your investment once refinancing takes place.

If you need financial assistance in paying for these upgrades, government-backed loans offer great loan programs like FHA 203k loans and VA Rehab Loans. Both loans offer several benefits. However, VA Home loans provide some of the best incentives out of any home loan available.

Step 3: Rent

Once the property rehab completes, you will begin the process of finding renters who will make their monthly payments on time. Finding the right tenants will require that you screen potential tenants; this will require some work. However, it is essential that you understand that you shouldn’t be too stringent since we are all human and no one is perfect.

Moreover, after the tenant moves into the property, you will be required to do an appraisal on the property. You must notify the tenant about when the appraiser will inspect their property. Furthermore, it is vital that you make sure that the property looks clean and organized before the appraiser check it.

Step 4: Refinance

After you find a suitable tenant and they’ve been living in the property for a few months, you will have built the right amount of rental history. After that, you will start the refinancing process.

In this step, you need to find a lender who will offer a cash-out refinance, which is recommended by most real estate investment experts. For the BRRRR investment to work appropriately, after the property refinancing completes, the money that you borrow must equal the appraised value of the property.

Step 5: Repeat

After the BRRR processed is completed, you will have to repeat it. However, you will use all the lessons that you learned from your last BRRR process cycle. It will enable you to make better decisions and make the process more straightforward since you’ll have gained experience as a landlord.

Summary

Retiring at an early age is possible by adopting proven real estate investment techniques like BRRRR. Still, early retirement requires much work, and using the BRRRR investment method is one of the best ways to generate passive income. As a result, you will be able to gain financial independence and retire early.

Phil Georgiades is the CLS for FedHome Loan Centers, a brokerage that specializes in first-time buyer home loans. He has been a practicing real estate professional for 22 years. To learn more about programs available to you or apply for a home loan, click here.

Is poor credit hurting your chances for financing? Call Credit Law Center  for a free consultation and learn what we can do for you today!

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