Online college courses: Path to degrees, low debt

Today’s students have excellent options for their pathway to higher education. They include traditional and community colleges, online courses, or combinations of all three. In fact, even high-profile colleges and universities are offering online programs today.

According to Stetson.edu, each online-course student usually engages in class material and activities on his or her schedule. This freedom allows students to complete work and family commitments with more flexibility. All online-course lectures, emails, explanations, and discussion boards, among others, are available around the clock.

Additionally, online programs can dramatically decrease or even eliminate the costs associated with college. With student loan debt now exceeding the entire nation’s credit card debt, any chance to cut the cost of college today is worth considering.

Also, contrary to current public opinion, online college programs can be every bit as rigorous as any form of higher education.

According to educationcorner.com, the advantages of initiating one’s pursuits of higher education at a community college include the flexibility, increased quality of teaching, cost of courses, and the capacity to transfer degrees earned to time-honored institutions of higher learning.

Moreover, community colleges are dramatically changing the landscape of higher education by offering students more options in seeking their degree.

In the final analysis, it is up to each person to figure out how much time he or she will have to devote to earning a degree, what type of degree program is desired, and how much money can be spent. At the same time, it is possible to take some courses online and others in person. Some individual classes may include both elements of interaction.

Should you refinance your mortgage?

With mortgages still at historically low rates, many people consider refinancing to save money. But is it a good idea? Maybe, maybe not.
Refinancing involves a number of moving parts and some understanding of amortization, so make sure to do your homework. Lenders vary on how long you have to wait to refinance, but you can sometimes do so within a year of purchase.
First, remember that refinancing involves closing costs, which can run into the thousands. So before anything else, calculate how long it will take you to recoup that amount and whether you’ll stay in the house that long.
Do the long-term math. If you are 10 years into a mortgage and refinance for 30, you could very well wind up paying many thousands more over the lifetime of the loan. This is of course a personal decision; sometimes it’s worth it to free up the cash on a month-to-month basis. Just understand the numbers.
Some homeowners refinance and increase their monthly payments — on purpose. You might consider refinancing from a 30-year loan to a 15-year loan to pay off the balance sooner. It’s often surprising how little it takes per month to make this happen.
Another good reason to refinance is if you’re in an adjustable rate mortgage and want to refinance into a fixed rate. This often occurs when rates are rising and you want to avoid the higher costs; if rates are low, it might not be worth the trouble.
Other folks refinance in order to pay off other debt, like credit cards or student loans, or to pay for a renovation project. Again, it’s time to do the math and consider the scenario. Although credit cards usually involve high interest rates, there isn’t much to lose if you default; transferring that debt to your mortgage, however, puts your house on the line.

Sell or rehab? The homeowner’s dilemma

If you are debating on whether to sell or renovate, first ask yourself some questions and then do some math.
First the questions:

  • Do you love or hate your home? If you hate it, will remodeling really make you love it or just hate it less? If you’ll just hate it less, sell.
  • Do you love the neighborhood or hate it? If you hate it, remodeling won’t help. Sell.
  • Do you want more improvements than are reasonable for the neighborhood? Carpet, kitchen, bath, and landscape all recoup costs. But if you want fixtures and amenities that will make your home cost way more than others in the neighborhood, consider moving. You probably won’t recoup the costs at your eventual sale.
    If you decide to remodel, calculate how much a renovation or rehab project will cost. Or should cost.
    Whether you’re debating on hiring vs DIY or deciding between competing contractors, it’s a good idea to understand what you get for the money as well as what constitutes a fair price.
    A few rules of thumb can help, so here are some tips on how to estimate your rehab costs:
    Be wary of finding overall estimates online and assuming they work for you. The cost of materials and labor vary by region of the country, so make sure you’re comparing like with like.
    Know the cost of materials. This is one of the easiest things you can do to prepare. Create a file and visit your local home stores to find the prices of lumber, windows, flooring, paint, and the like.
    Understand the time involved. Have a basic idea of how long it should take to replace a roof or install a window so you can better understand the contractor’s quote. (An entire roof can be done in a day or two, while an uncomplicated window install can be done in a half hour.)
    Accessories add up. Remember to budget for things like cabinet knobs, door hinges, trim, and the like.
    Think in terms of function, not space. If you’re undertaking a larger project and are the one drawing up a Scope of Work, it’s more accurate to calculate by category of professional. A plumber will take care of your kitchen sink as well as your bathtub, for example. This also helps with the flow of a project, as each of these contractors does their work at different stages.

Can I Have More Than One Boat Insured Simultaneously?

Cypress, TX – The Home Base Of InsureUS 

We do like things big here in Texas but one thing that can stay slight is the amount of time spent worrying about insurance.  When you are out on the water you just want to relax you don’t want to think about what’s covered by your insurance and what isn’t. If you’re fortunate enough to own more than one boat,  you can insure more than one boat at the same time. 

Though many homeowners insurance policies cover minimal damage to your boat, you want to have more extensive coverage. 

If you have one boat docked and you’re using another boat there is a layup provision provided in the state of Texas which will suspend the insurance coverage when the boat is not in use. Speaking with an agent is the best idea as they will know the nuances of what is covered and what isn’t as well as what is beneficial and what is not.  

 There are various stipulations for boat insurance if the boat is used in ocean water. Again, speaking with your agent will clarify things for you and the more detailed you could be about how you’re going to use your boat the better. In this way, your agent will be able to craft a policy that will cover you and your needs. 

Located in Cypress, TX 77429, you can come in today and speak with us about all your insurance needs. If you’d rather call, our telephone number is 281-640-8888. The agents at InsureUS want you to feel secure in your insurance agency choice. Just let us know how we can make this experience more beneficial to you and more customer-friendly today.

Economy by the numbers: Signs point up

Wages are up, unemployment is low and retail sales are growing.
These are the headlines this year from the economy, which promises more good things to come.
What Americans are doing:

  • Selling and buying homes: 5.35 million sales of existing homes to April of 2019. More people are putting their homes on the market with total inventory up 1.9 percent in April.
  • Buying stuff: General merchandise sales have been strong and restaurant sales are rising. Total sales at department and clothing stores are expected to fall as online shopping takes over.
  • Getting new jobs: A shortage of workers and closings of retail stores have slowed hiring. Job growth is predicted to average 160,000 per month, down from 223,000 in 2018. But the labor market is tight with unemployment just 3.6 percent in May, the lowest since 1969. Pay growth is up with non-supervisor worker paychecks rising at an annual rate of 3.4 percent, according to Kiplinger.

Changing jobs? What to do with that 401(k)

There aren’t many things you can do with your 401(k) when you change jobs, but some choices are better than others.

  • Worst choice: Cash out.
    If you went to all the trouble of saving money in a retirement plan, the worst thing you can do before age 65 is cash it out. Any distribution will require a 10 percent early withdrawal penalty if you are under age 59. Plus, anything you take will be taxable that year. There is an exception to the penalty if you are losing a job or changing jobs at age 55 or later, but it is still taxed.
  • Best choice: Rollover to the new company’s plan. You never get your hands on the money and it never stops growing.
  • Good choice: Rollover to an IRA. If you have less than 10 years to work, an IRA will offer a wider choice of safe investments and fixed income options, according to Presley Wealth Management.
  • Possible plan: Rollover to a Roth IRA.
    Consult an investment advisor before doing this. The downside is that you pay taxes on the money when you take the Roth plan. The upside is you can start tax-free withdrawals at age 59.
  • Good option: Leave it where it is.
    You won’t be contributing to your old 401(k) if you leave your job, but if you like the current options, consider keeping it where it is. You can roll it over any time