Tag Archives: savings

Hard work brings New Hampshire family home

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When Jeremy Charron lost his construction job in the wake of the 2008 housing crisis, he and his wife Siobhan had no choice but to file for bankruptcy.  They thought their credit would never recover, even after they got back on their feet, and that their dream of owning a home would remain a fantasy.  With three small daughters and Siobhan’s father and grandmother living with them, renting was not ideal, as it wasn’t always easy to find a house to rent that fit their specific needs.  That all changed when she saw a HOMEteam IDA program brochure.

The young couple met with a HOMEteam housing counselor only one year after their bankruptcy, and they found getting into a home of their own may not be as impossible as they had previously suspected.  Jeremy and Siobhan had to learn to budget strictly, something they had never done before.

“We couldn’t have done it without the help of the [IDA] program and the HOMEteam counselors.” Siobhan said.

The Individual Development Account [IDA] helps families like the Charrons commit to saving for major purchases, such as buying a home, or attaining higher education.  It matches the savings of an individual as they work towards their goal, and fosters good savings habits. In the Charron’s case, they each had an account, and saved enough to put towards their down payment, closing cost and other expenses associated with buying a home.

“Going through the IDA program and then doing the Home Buyer and Financial Capabilities Seminars, it really taught us a lot – how to use your credit, how to make it better, and how to prepare for the future and the unexpected… we really are grateful,” Siobhan said.

The paperwork involved in the application process was substantial; however the Charron family was able to complete what was necessary and not miss a class.  “We maximized the payments [into the IDA accounts], and we struggled. We were tight on things like groceries, but we knew we had to do it to meet our goal” Jeremy commented.

They saved and put money towards their IDA for a year before they started the home buying process, at times saving $200 a month, no small feat with two small girls and parents to feed.  They attended classes with HOMEteam, received counseling, and eventually found a home they were interested in.  It seemed nearly perfect for their situation.  It had enough bedrooms to accommodate their two children and Siobhan’s father and grandmother, and even had two bedrooms and a bath on the first floor, providing accessibility to her aging parents.  It was a little out of their price range, but the seller eventually agreed to meet them at a more affordable price point.

It was at this moment the lender suddenly rescinded their pre-approval, and it nearly cost them a chance at owning a home. “We were devastated,” Siobhan recalls.

Crestfallen and ready to fold, they called Ryan Tufts, their Home Ownership Coach at HOMEteam, for help.  Jeremy’s new employer had referred him to his lender, and without a secondary recommendation they were weary to try just any lender.  Ryan recommended several lenders who often work with HOMEteam’s clients.  Siobhan and Jeremy found a lender who was able to work with them and their unique situation to get the approval they needed to get into their new home.

Now owners living and working in their new home, Siobhan and Jeremy are proud of what they accomplished, “Now we are here, and we feel like we are through the hardest parts. We are truly grateful to be here.  There are always new challenges, but at least we are home.”

Buying a House? First, Put Your Financial House in Order

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You know you want to own a home one day, but how do you get there? One of the first steps you can take that will also bring long-term benefits is taking charge of your finances. Besides getting you ready to make that important purchase, it can give you confidence, show you what is affordable, and make it easier to pay your bills while you’re renting. Here are some tips you can follow to help boost your bank account and get ready to buy a home.

Commit to a budget. Creating a spending and savings plan helps you see how much money you’re taking in versus how much you’re spending on bills, food, and other expenses.  As a general rule of thumb, follow the spending guidelines below:

Category % of your net budget spent on that category
Housing 20-30%
Utilities 4-7%
Food 15-20%
Transportation 6-20%
Medical 2-8%
Clothing 2-4%
Saving/Investing 5-10%
Debt Payment 15-20%
Misc. 5-10%
Net Income (Total) 100%

 

If you are spending more than you bring in, identify discretionary spending where you can cut back. When you spend less than you earn, use those extra earnings to save for that house.

Write down everything you spend. After you have committed to a budget, writing down your spending habits can help you see how well you are sticking to it. Keep receipts and make note of everything you spend each month. You may be surprised to see where your money goes!

Bank the difference between your rent and a mortgage payment. Use a mortgage calculator to get an idea of how much a mortgage may actually cost. If you want to see what it’s like to pay a mortgage, set aside the difference between your current rent payment and that “mortgage payment” in a savings account. This will help you build up savings quickly while getting you ready for the extra expenses that ownership can bring.

Check your credit report. You are able to get one free credit report from each of the three credit reporting agencies – Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax – each year. Ask for copies of your credit reports here and check them for accuracy. Remember, it is your responsibility to make sure they are accurate and to report any inaccuracies you may find. This will help put you in the best position possible when you are seeking approval for a mortgage, and it can help you catch identity theft.

Seek out budgeting resources. If you’re feeling overwhelmed getting your finances in order, you don’t have to go it alone. There are HUD-approved Housing Counseling agencies across the state that can help you create a plan to improve your credit and become financially ready to own a home. You can attend a free seminar or workshop and receive free one-on-one coaching afterwards to help you develop your personalized budgeting plan. You can also check out your local library and search for online resources that offer tips about how to build a budget and stick to it.

Have you followed any of these strategies to save for a house? Do you have money-saving tips of your own? Share them in the comments!

New Hampshire Housing is your statewide housing resource! Through a broad range of rental and homeownership programs, we promote, finance and support affordable housing for Granite State residents. Since our inception, we have helped more than 40,000 families purchase their own homes and have financed the creation of more than 14,500 units of rental housing for individuals and families. More information about our homeownership and rental programs can be found on our websites at www.nhhfa.org and www.GoNewHampshireHousing.com.

Amanda Flitter is the Communications Administrator and Web Content Manager for New Hampshire Housing. You can follow New Hampshire Housing at http://newhampshirehousingheadlines.org/.