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The new year is right around the corner and if youâre like most people, youâve probably got a running list of resolutions to achieve and milestones to reach. If getting out of debt ranks near the top, nowâs the time to starting thinking about how youâre going to hit your goal. Developing a clear-cut action plan can get you that much closer to debt-free status in 2016.
1. Add up Your Debt
You canât start attacking your debt until you know exactly how much you owe. The first step to paying down your debt is sitting down with all of your statements and adding up every penny thatâs still outstanding. Once you know how deep in debt you are, you can move on to the next step.
2. Review Your Budget
A budget is a plan that sets limits on how you spend your money. If you donât have one, itâs a good idea to put a budget together as soon as possible. If you do have a budget, you can go over it line by line to find costs you can cut out. By eliminating fees and unnecessary expenses like cable subscriptions, youâll be able to use the money you save to pay off your debt.
3. Set Your Goals
At this point in the process, you should have two numbers: the total amount of money you owe and the amount you can put toward your debt payments each month. Using those two figures, you should be able determine how long itâs going to take you to pay off your mortgage, student loans, personal loans and credit card debt.
Letâs say you owe your credit card issuer $25,000. If you have $500 in your budget that you can use to pay off that debt each month, youâll be able to knock $6,000 off your card balance in a year. Keep in mind, however, that youâll still need to factor in interest to get an accurate idea of how the balance will shrink from one year to the next.
4. Lower Your Interest Rates
Interest is a major obstacle when youâre trying to get out of debt. If you want to speed up the payment process, you can look for ways to shave down your rates. If you have high-interest credit card debt, for instance, transferring the balances to a card with a 0% promotional period can save you some money and reduce the amount of time itâll take to get rid of your debt.
Refinancing might be worth considering if you have student loans, car loans or a mortgage. Just remember that completing a balance transfer or refinancing your debt isnât necessarily free. Credit card companies typically charge a 3% fee for balance transfers and if youâre taking out a refinance loan, you might be on the hook for origination fees and other closing costs.
5. Increase Your Income
Keeping a tight rein on your budget can go a long way. But thatâs not the only way to escape debt. Pumping up your paycheck in the new year can also help you pay off your loans and increase your disposable income.
Asking your boss for a raise will directly increase your earnings, but thereâs no guarantee that your supervisor will agree to your request. If youâre paid by the hour, you can always take on more hours at your current job. And if all else fails, you can start a side gig to bring in more money.
Hold Yourself Accountable
Having a plan to get out of debt in the new year wonât get you very far if youâre not 100% committed. Checking your progress regularly is a must, as is reviewing your budget and goals to make sure youâre staying on track.
Photo credit: Â©iStock.com/BsWei, Â©iStock.com/marekuliasz, Â©iStock.com/DragonImages
The post How to Escape Debt in 2016 appeared first on SmartAsset Blog.
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NFL great Tom Brady has finally offloaded his Massachusetts mansion. The quarterback and his wife, supermodel Gisele BÃ¼ndchen, have sold their luxeÂ Brookline estate, according to the Boston Globe.
The transaction appears to have been an off-market deal, with no price information disclosed for the transaction. Sources told the Globe that the property was offered for $32.5 million.
The custom-built,12,000-square-foot estate outside of Boston initially debuted at $39.5 million in 2019, then quickly dropped to $33.9 million.
The mansion built in 2015 came off the market in May, when luxury home sales were stalled by the coronavirus pandemic. But a buyer surfaced at the end of 2020.
In 2013, the couple picked up a prime 5-acre plot from the local cash-strapped Pine Manor College for $4.5 million.
They tapped architect Richard Landry, of Landry Design Group, to create their East Coast estate. Landry has also worked on the couple’s Los Angeles mansion, which was featured in Architectural Digest.
Landry’s design sits adjacent to the ninth hole of the Country Club in Brookline, with serene views and plenty of privacy.
The five-bedroom main house features a dining room, living room, home office, chef’s eat-in kitchen, and family room. A grand stairwell leads to the bedrooms on the second floor.
The lower level includes a rec room, playroom, wine room, gym, and spa.
Watch: QB Drew Brees Looks to Unload His Amazing Kauai Condo
The sprawling grounds include gardens, a pool, and a âbarn-inspiredâ guesthouse with a yoga studio, full bathroom, and sleeping loft. The property comes with a three-car garage, carport, and circular drive with ample parking.
Brady’s mansion sits just down the road from Reebok founder Paul Fireman‘s lavish property, which was finally sold in 2020 after four years on the market. That 27,000-square-foot mansion had been priced at as much as $90 million, before finally selling for $23 million. George and Manny Sarkis of Douglas Elliman represented Fireman.
The agents also sold Fireman’s adjacent 7 acres for $18 million to developer C. Stumpo Development, which plans to build luxury homes on the land.
âAfter closing on both 150 Woodland Road [the Fireman home] and the five adjacent lots, we are very excited about the current and future Brookline market,” says Manny. “Buyers continue to trend to the suburbs, seeking more land and bigger homes.”
The jet-setting duo received another Christmas gift of good news in 2020, with a reported sale of their Tribeca loft. The two had made the penthouse available forÂ just under $40 million last November. If they got their asking price, they’ll stroll away with a large profit.
The couple had picked up the place in 2018 for $25.46 million. The five-bedroom, 5.5-bath unit features a 1,900-square-foot terrace and Hudson River views. Building amenities include an 82-foot lap pool and a private drive-in entrance.
The couple still own a lower-floor unit in the same 14-floor building.
New year, new homes
Brady left Brookline after he signed with the Buccaneers. The QB has since put roots down in South Florida. In October, Brady and Bundchen were reportedly circling a waterfront property in Clearwater.
And then Brady made a move on Florida’s other coast in December, with a reported $17 million purchase of a home on Miamiâs Indian Creek Island, known as the Billionaires Bunker.
The couple plan to raze the current house on the land in Miami and build anew. They’re reportedly looking to emulate the L.A. home theyÂ sold to Dr. Dre for $40 million in 2014. Sounds like the services of their favorite architect may once again be required.
The post Tom Brady and Gisele Bundchen Finally Sell Their Massachusetts Mansion appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.comÂ®.
If youâre looking to advance your career or pivot to a new industry, then youâre probably checking out ways you can beef up your resume. Maybe youâre considering an MBA, a bootcamp, or browsing upcoming conferences. Or perhaps youâre considering the DIY route and looking for podcast and book recommendations.Â
While any of these options will help you learn and could boost your resume, the best way to level up your career prospects is to dedicate yourself to becoming a lifelong learner, which is where microlearning comes into play.Â
Conferences and classes are bursting with information, but you may feel limited by the course schedule and teaching style. This works for some people, but it can be expensive and hard to fit into a budget or daily schedule. Microlearning can help you take charge of your education by providing bite-sized lessons. Over time, you can build up your learnings for a more thorough and robust understanding of the subject.Â
The best part is you can apply your specific lessons to your life, career, and goals to build each of these out over time and see what really works and what doesnât. Your consistent growth can improve job satisfaction and career opportunities, putting you in the spotlight for the next raise or promotion. Learn more below or jump to our infographicÂ to get started.
What Is Microlearning?
Microlearning has become a popular workplace trend as a learning process that breaks topics into highly specific, concise lessons. This allows the learner to build understanding and confidence at their own pace.
Microlearning is great for tackling new information and closing knowledge gaps. If you already have a foundation of knowledge for a topic, then it can be frustrating to wade through the basics for the few new ideas you were looking for. Khan Academy and TED Talks are a great example of how you may fill in knowledge gaps.Â
The Benefits of Microlearning
The most important part of any lesson plan is that itâs tailored to a learnerâs needs, and that the learner is actually able to retain information. Microlearningâs flexibility for learners is one of its biggest benefits.
Here are some other reasons to consider microlearning:
- Maximize time by preparing lessons for on-the-go and fitting them in during breaks or commutes.
- Go in-depth to build a solid learning foundation and improve retention with practice.Â
- Find what works by experimenting with videos, articles, or podcasts to find what format works best for you.Â
- Save money with free resources like TED Talks, YouTube, and expert podcast hosts who provide episodic insights and lessons for you to follow.Â
- Fill knowledge gaps with lessons targeting exactly what you need to know instead of wading through beginner resources.Â
The Disadvantages of Microlearning
Microlearning is great for career development, employee training, and specific topics that you could use a refresher on. However, theyâre not a total replacement for other learning systems, and you should keep these in mind when you get started:
- Itâs not immediate and microlearning is about regular commitments to learning.
- It isnât easier, but it may feel easier. This is actually a benefit unless you assume it will be easy. You still have to actively learn and practice your lessons.Â
- Some topics just donât work, including complicated topics like global economics. Itâs great for learning about things like mortgages, but you likely wonât become an expert on personal finance in just a few lessons.Â
- Thereâs work upfront to finding and compiling the resources that fit your needs and that you trust. This work pays off in the long-run, though, with easy-to-access lessons.Â
5 Ways to Begin Microlearning
You may not realize it, but youâve probably already prioritized microlearning in your day-to-day life. If youâve watched a YouTube video to learn how to change your oil or customize a spreadsheet, then you know exactly how beneficial short, specific, and detailed lessons can be.Â
Here are some ways you can get started using microlearning as part of your professional development:
1. Game Groups
Gamifying your learning helps make the topic fun and builds a positive relationship with studying. You can get started by setting goals and rewards, or inviting peers to join you with a competitive leaderboard or a trivia night.Â
2. Video Clips
Videos are designed to be relatively short and engaging, and YouTube has made learning largely accessible from anywhere. While YouTube playlists are a great place to learn, make sure youâve done your research on any channels or personalities youâre watching to ensure your lessons are accurate.Â
3. Podcast Playlists
Like videos, podcasts are a great way to consume information on the go and from personalities you enjoy and trust. Theyâve become hugely popular because theyâre easy to listen to while driving, working, or exercising, but itâs important that you give your playlist your active attention if you hope to learn effectively.Â
4. Quiz Collections
Considering a quiz may bring flashbacks of test anxiety and stressful finals weeks, but in this scenario, quizzing isnât about checking a box that you learned something new. Instead, itâs a means to practice your memory recall and retention so you can count on it when you need it most.Â
5. Team Talks
Having a team to study with is not only great for motivation, but it can also improve your lesson retention. Active learning is the process of working or chatting through a subject or problem, and studies show this is the best way to learn and practice your skills.Â
Keeping up with your professional development is the best way to impress your employer and expand your job prospects. Whether you want to climb the career ladder or ease your daily workload, How Microlearning Can Level Up Your Knowledge appeared first on MintLife Blog.
When you’re a first-time home buyer approaching the finish line in the journey to your new home, you want nothingÂ to go wrong, right?
Thatâs why weâve put together a home closing checklist, which outlines your action points in those few days leading up to settlement. Keep this closing process list handy to know you’ve done what you need to in order to close the deal.
1. Get all contingencies squared away
Most purchase agreements haveÂ contingenciesâthings that buyers must doÂ before the real estate transaction is official, explainsÂ Jimmy Branham, a Coral Springs, FL, real estate agent at the Keyes Company. These are the most common contingencies that are part of your new home closing process:
- Home inspection contingency: This gives buyers the right to have the home professionally inspected. If something is wrong, you can request that it be fixedâor you can back out of the sale. Itâs rarely advisable to waive an inspection contingency. Although the averageÂ home inspection costsÂ $300 to $500, itâs a drop in the bucket considering the costly home issues you might uncover, saysÂ Claude McGavic, executive director of the National Association of Home Inspectors.
- Appraisal contingency:Â With this contingency, a third party hired by your mortgage lender evaluates the fair market value of the home. If the appraised value is less than the sale price, the contingency enables you to back out of the deal without forfeiting yourÂ earnest money deposit, saysÂ Bishoi Nageh, president of the Petra Cephas Team at Mortgage Network Solutions, in Somerset, NJ.
- Financing contingency:Â This contingency gives you the right to back out of the deal if yourÂ mortgage approval falls through. You have a specified time period, as stated in the sales contract, during which you have to obtain a loan that will cover the mortgage.
2. Clear the title
When you buy a home, you âtake titleâ to the property and establish legal ownershipâa process thatâs confirmed by local public land records. As part of the closing process, your mortgage lender will require a title search, and you’ll need to purchase title insurance to protect you from legal claims to the house.
Sometimes distant relativesâor an ex-spouseâmay surface with a claim that they actually own the home, and that the seller had no right to sell it to you in the first place. But clearing title will ensure this doesnât happen, saysÂ Marc Israel, president and chief counsel of MiT National Land Services, a title company in New York City.
As the home buyer of this piece of real estate, youâre entitled to choose the title company. You can get recommendations from your real estate agent, mortgage lender, and friendsâjust be sure to check out the license and reputation of each company online.
3. Get final mortgage approval
You’ve made that down payment, but before you can go to the closing table, yourÂ home loan must go through the underwriting process. Underwriters are like real estate detectivesâitâs their job to make sure you’ve represented yourself and your finances truthfully, and that you havenât made any false or misleading claims on your loan application.
The underwriterâemployed by your mortgage companyâwill check your credit score, review your home appraisal, and ensure that your financial portfolio has remained the same since you were pre-approved for the loan.
Since underwriting typically happens shortly before closing, you donât want to do anything while youâre in contract thatâs going toÂ hurt your credit score. That includes making a down payment on a car, boat, or similar large purchase that has to be financed.
4. Review your closing disclosure
If you’re getting a loan, one of the best ways to prepare is to thoroughly review yourÂ closing disclosure, also known as a HUD-1 settlement statement.
This official document outlines your exact mortgage payments, the loanâs terms (e.g., the interest rate and duration), and additional fees youâll pay, called closing costs (which account for anywhere from 2% to 7% of your homeâs price).
Youâll want to compare your closing disclosure to the loan estimate your lender gave you at the outset. If you spot any discrepancies, ask your lender to explain them.
5. Do a final walk-through
Most sales contracts allow buyers to do aÂ walk-through of the homeÂ within 24 hours before closing. During this stage, you’re making sure the previous owner has vacated (unless youâve allowed aÂ rent-back arrangementÂ in which they can stick around for a period of time before moving).
Youâre also double-checking that the home is in the condition agreed upon in the contract. If your home inspection revealed problems that the sellers had agreed to fix, youâll want to make sure those repairs were made.
6. Bring the necessary documentation to closing
Make sure you have the following items when you head to the closing table:
- Proof ofÂ homeowners insurance
- A copy of your contract with the seller
- Your home inspection reports
- Any paperwork the bank required to approve your loan
- A government-issued photo ID (Note to newlyweds who just changed their name: The ID needs to match the name that will appear on the propertyâs title and mortgage.)
Plan to sign a ton of paperwork. An attorney or settlement agent will guide you through the process. When youâre done, youâll collect the keys, and you’re finally home free!
The post Closing on a House Checklist: 6 Things Home Buyers Must Do Before They Move In appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.comÂ®.