Dilemma: Buy big or big enough

Dilemma: Buy big or big enough
Buying a house might come down to a choice: A big-enough house or the biggest house you can afford?

The choice you make affects not just your wallet, but your lifestyle as well.

Many considerations go into the house you buy and they are just as important, if not more so, than square footage.

According to the National Association of Realtors, the median size of an existing single-family home purchased in 2017 was 1,930 square feet, down from 1,950 square feet in 2016. Square footage in new construction also decreased slightly from 2,473 in 2015 to 2,419 in 2016.

Location is a big factor. If a house is just big enough, but close to work, it could be a better choice than the big homestead. Be sure to figure in the cost of a commute in time and money before choosing the larger house over the just-big-enough house.

Consider neighborhood. Older neighborhoods might have smaller houses, but they also can have stable housing values. For example, buying new construction can be satisfying, but once newer houses are built in the tract, older houses can decrease in value. On the other hand, you still have a new house with all the security that implies.

One thing you don’t want to do is buy a house that is too small. Allow some consideration for guests or just a home office.

Think ahead to your future financial needs. Buying the largest house you can afford will lock you into high payments for not just a mortgage, although that is the most dramatic cost, but also higher utilities, taxes, insurance and repairs over the time you own the home. Some of those funds could be directed to retirement, for example.

Here is an example from the Wall Street Journal: If your smaller home saves you $20,000 each year over the life of the mortgage, you could invest that amount. That investment during the same time in a stock market portfolio making 4 percent could add up to a $1.2 million retirement fund.

It’s also possible to buy smaller but remodel over time. Pick a smaller home in a desirable neighborhood and renovate.

 

New headlight technology stalled by regulation

New headlight technology stalled by regulation
Outdated federal regulations have blocked automakers from introducing new headlight technologies that could help drivers see better and even prevent some pedestrian deaths, experts say.

About 2,500 pedestrians are killed at night in the U.S., but new headlight technologies could help, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Adaptive beam headlight technology automatically adjusts head lamps to oncoming traffic, reducing glare and helping drivers see better. The technology is legal and widely available in Europe and Japan.

In fact, Japanese automaker Toyota petitioned the NHTSA in 2013 to allow adaptive beam technology, but no decision has yet been made.

NHTSA did evaluate the technology in 2014 when it was first introduced by Audi, according to ArsTechnica.com. At that time, NHTSA found the adaptive beams too slow to respond at an intersection or when two vehicles are oncoming on a curved road.

Drivers should use high beams responsibility for proper lighting does involve the driver, however according to the IIHS, drivers should always use high beams, except when another driver is approaching. According to one transportation study, drivers activated their high beams only 25 percent of the time they should have been using them.

What Are the Benefits of Having a Security or Landscape Lighting System?

Landscape and lighting go hand in hand when you are trying to beautify, as well as protect, your home. In Cypress, TX, the agents of InsureUs are constantly working with their clients to make sure they understand the many ways they can minimize their potential risk and improve their home security.

Landscape Lighting

Landscape designers use ambient lighting to spotlight focal points. In the process of illuminating your landscaping, it also sheds enough light to be able to identify possible intruders that may be lurking around your property. When landscaping is placed directly beneath or adjacent to windows or other entryways, the additional lighting is a deterrent for potential criminals who may be looking for a way into your home. The lighting doesn’t have to be overpowering to be effective and can be set up to turn on and off through the use of a motion sensor.

Increased Security

The type of materials and foliage you include in your landscaping can also make it difficult for intruders to gain access to your home. Trellises, thorny bushes or prickly succulents are ideal if you want an added layer of protection. When coupled with the benefits of ambient lighting, both can be extremely effective at turning away intruders. Landscape designers work to help homeowners create beautiful, landscaped areas that double as protective barriers against both human and animal intruders.

If you live in the Cypress, TX area and are interested in learning about more about ways to increase your home security, call the agents of InsureUS. They can help you to identify different ways that you can use to protect your home and family from financial loss. Call their office today to schedule an insurance evaluation.

Avoiding high payment fees in a small business

Avoiding high payment fees in a small business
Only 11 percent of shoppers used cash during 2016, according to creditcards.com.

For small businesses, this means lots of credit card processing fees are coming out of each sale and that can be expensive.

According to small business financing blog Nav, there are three ways for a credit card processor to charge fees: flat, interchange plus, and tiered pricing. Flat fee providers, such as PayPal or Square, use one rate for every transaction no matter the price or volume. Interchange plus models use a flat percentage fee along with a small charge for each sale, such as 30 cents. Tiered pricing applies three different rates depending on what type of card is used; such as debit, credit, or rewards, and is more expensive when manually keyed in.

It is easy to see that a per-transaction charge of even 30 cents could be devastating to a business that sells a high volume of cheap items, such as a dollar store. In these situations, it is entirely acceptable to list a minimum purchase amount for credit processing to make the sting of a per-transaction charge less painful.

As such, The Simple Dollar recommends that small business owners do their research and shop around for the best rates that their business can command. Those currently using or considering a tiered pricing structure, for instance, have reduced the complexity of their accounting and found savings by switching to a flat rate service. While an online search can be helpful, reaching out to other local businesses can be a great resource to see what works for those in a similar situation.

When it comes to equipment, purchasing a credit card terminal can save money over the long run compared to renting it each month so don’t be lured by the promise of savings from the credit card company. Additionally, many of the newer options such as Square provide a free scanner that can be used with any smartphone or tablet to act as a digital register both in a store or on the go.

Who can use the new business tax deduction?

Who can use the new business tax deduction?

Recent reforms in the tax code will be a significant benefit for small business owners who claim company income on their personal tax returns, according to The New York Times.

When income is declared in this way, it is called pass-through income, and the legislation will impact as many as 40 million taxpayers with small businesses making up almost half that number and ‘non-business’ individuals making up the rest. In many cases, a full 20 percent of all pass-through business income will be deductible, and further changes to deductions for depreciable property can help certain types of businesses as well.

Individuals that operate sole proprietorships and contract out to other companies, as well as people that claim income from things like hobbies or vacation home rentals, will fall into the non-business category. Even before these changes, it was desirable to declare this income to make use of other deductions like home offices and equipment. With the new deduction on income.