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Budgeting and Saving

No one likes the idea of making a budget, but we all love the idea of having more money. Many of us look back at periods in our lives and wish we had done more to spend less. Fortunately, no matter what stage of your life you’re in, there’s still time for you to make some changes to your spending habits and have more money in your account. Here’s a few tips to help you budget more effectively and save more money.

How to Budget

No one likes the idea of sitting down and making a budget, but your saving efforts will never work without one. If you don’t get a definite grip on the amount of money that’s coming in, you won’t be able to formulate a method for how to control how much is going out. One solid theory for calculating income and expenses is known as zero based budgeting. In this budget, you start by taking note of how much money you make in a month and subtract all of your expenses and savings until your bottom line has a zero on it. Every dollar is assigned a “job.” If that doesn’t sound like a good idea for you, find a budgeting method that works for you.

Be Disciplined

This should go without saying, but unfortunately it’s so easy to let yourself dip into one area of your budget to do something you’d rather do with that money. Ideally, you leave some room in your budget for entertainment which means you should be able to not access money that’s set up to go for your needs. At the end of the day, no one can make you have will power other than you (there’s a reason they call it self-control). It’s often a good idea to give yourself a quarterly or bi-annual reward of some sort (which you can figure into your budget) by taking a small trip or buying yourself something with money that you’ve built up by sticking to the budget.

Review and Adjust

Undoubtedly, there will be things that come up that you didn’t budget for. An appliance will tear up, the car will break down, or the pet will have to spend some time at the vet. While those things may not be written out on your budget, you probably have some “emergency money” in there. Even if you do, sit down and review your budget often and make the necessary adjustments.

Best of luck in your push to become more fiscally responsible!


Overcoming Housing Needs

Homelessness is a major problem in America, and with the cost of living continually increasing, poverty is only going to worsen. The discrepancy between the rich and poor will create broader wage gaps that push people who would have been considered financially stable years ago into poverty. Affording shelter, food and transportation are becoming an increasing challenge, and small populations of homeless communities are emerging throughout the country.

Making Housing More Accessible

Affordable housing has many factors, and those who suffer from disabilities are at a higher risk. One medical emergency can completely drain a person’s financial resources, and while recovering from surgery or living with a chronic illness, they can find themselves facing eviction with no safety net.

Creating affordable housing programs is no longer simply a kind gesture; it’s necessary to save a large portion of an increasingly vulnerable population. With over 10,000 Baby Boomers retiring each year, and many with under $10,000 in savings, states will have to either provide safe alternatives for the community or prepare to face a massive homeless problem.

What Can Be Done?

Apartments that offer affordable housing to low-income individuals should focus on creating a community. People’s living environments are about far more than where they lay their head down at night; a housing building should create a community that gives people from all walks of life a chance to thrive and do better for themselves.

For those with disabilities or seniors, having a fixed residence is imperative to wellness. Communities that offer simple amenities like prayer groups, church meetings, transportation to local shops and a rec center can transform people’s entire lives.

Rather than placing the burden on the afflicted to save themselves, states need to provide greater housing options to those in need. People cannot thrive if they are deprived of basic needs, and the fight to survive will only lead to a vicious cycle of crime, poverty and poor health that creates an even greater financial burden on the state.

Bigger Changes

According to a 2018 study, more than half of all American households spend more than 50 percent of their monthly income on rent. Many low-income adults, especially older individuals who can no longer work full-time, have to sacrifice food, clothing and other basic amenities just to stay off the street.

While creating better housing opportunities is imperative, America’s government must also recognize the needs of its people and implement programs that are accessible, responsive and innovative.

Top Real Estate Tech Trends to Watch in 2020

The real estate market continues to grow at a significant rate over the past decade. Innovative technology continues to play a key role in the real estate market and will continue to make a big impact in the upcoming year. Here are a few tech trends to keep an eye on for 2020.

#1 Cloud Computing

Cloud technology continues to revolutionize the real estate industry, as it makes it easy to access information on the go. Greater accessibility makes cloud technology a popular option for real estate agents, and all of this information is well-protected with the use of encryption.

#2 Chatbots

Chatbots continue to grow in popularity, as it gives prospective customers immediate feedback without any delays. Ultimately, chatbots are a great way to boost productivity while also creating a much better customer experience for anyone looking to purchase real estate.

#3 Mobile Apps

The vast majority of people access the internet with the use of a mobile phone. Mobile apps are a great way to reach more customers and can help you expand your audience. All of your information is in an easy to read format and these apps will continue to grow in prevalence in 2020.

#4 Automation Services

Automation is a significant trend across a wide range of industries and is especially popular in the real estate industry. The use of automation services can handle a wide range of tasks, such as email marketing, online chats, and other duties in the workplace.

#5 Big Data

Big data is a popular term that allows you to focus on a target audience by leveraging large amounts of information that is easily accessible. The use of big data makes it easier to predict future purchases and customer trends in the real estate industry.

Keeping up with all of the latest technology trends is essential in maximizing your success in the real estate industry. Cloud technology, chatbots, mobile apps, automation services, and big data will play a key role in helping you reach new buyers and making your job tasks much easier. Don’t wait any longer but begin taking advantage of these innovative technology trends that will make a big impact on the real estate market in 2020!

Emerging Tech Likely to Affect Commercial Real Estate

Technology is a sector that is constantly evolving. It is one of the areas of industry that largely impacts everything around it, even areas that you might not consider to be technology-driven. Commercial real estate is one such example.  

Whether you are looking to invest in commercial property or to build on property that was purchased, there are a bunch of interesting developments happening in this day and age. One of the leaders in today’s real estate landscape is the geodata repository at MIT. Their team of engineers has several projects in the works, including the creation of a geospatial relational database that examines a detailed reproduction of downtown Manhattan, complete with current prices for mortgages and rent. This type of data will be a great resource in forecasting future trends in commercial real estate. 

The main role of The Real Estate Innovation Lab (REIL) is to gather like-minded intellectuals into a thinktank environment in order to study all of the latest innovations happening within the world of real estate. Because of the rapid growth of technology, the team envisions commercial buildings having to undergo physical changes every five to ten years in order to keep up with the changing times.

One thing that is going to change drastically in the upcoming years is the concept of parking garages. Autonomous vehicles will one day be the norm, but there will be a substantial period of time where people may both own a car for themselves and let others use their autonomous ones to earn extra income on the side. Not only will newer and newer commercial properties have to adjust to this societal change, but they will also need to come up with alternative uses for the spaces that were once reserved solely for parking. In addition, people who use autonomous vehicles will want convenient drop-off and pick-up designations.

The Internet of Things (IoT) and artificial intelligence (AI) both relate to the concept of intelligent machines. This can greatly affect the commercial real estate industry. The gathering of accurate data in a speedy format is exactly what prospective investors will need when making decisions about big purchases in specific locations. Not only will everything of value be recorded and stored and able to be retrieved, but having a digital ledger will make the data super secure as well. Blockchain technology was developed exactly for this purpose. With the combination of information transparency about issues like energy consumption, and having the speed and security of accessing countless data, potential buyers and developers will have all of the resources they need in order to interpret it and compete in a fair market for specific properties. 

Questions to Ask Yourself Before Investing in Real Estate

Like most big decisions, there are pros and cons involved. Sometimes, it even helps to make a list of each so you can see clearly what the correct path is for you to take. Another approach before embarking on a new venture is to ask yourself questions to make sure that you’re fully prepared.

If you are interested in investing in real estate for the first time, there are many pros and cons. If done successfully, the pros of investing in real estate include earning passive money on the side. You can practically build your wealth without having to do too much extra aside from your current job. Building a robust real estate portfolio can give you lifelong security as a backup nest egg for your future. 

There are many cons, as well. It’s important to know exactly what you’re getting into. Having a general sense of the real estate process is the minimum requirement. Once you commit to purchasing a property, you also need to know what the other costs will be. 

One good question to ask yourself is whether you can afford to put money up-front without having to take out a loan. If the answer is no, then you aren’t ready to purchase a property yet. It will be quite some time before rental payments come in, so you need to be prepared to lose money before earning it. How much are you willing to invest? You will need to leave some in the bank for savings or an emergency fund. Some people even have a separate sinking fund, as a backup for their emergency fund. 

Another question to ask yourself is how you will deal with the lapses in time between tenants. There will be times when rental units are just sitting there, unoccupied. In those cases, you are still responsible for maintaining the property and buildings so that it’s appealing enough for the next renter. 
You should also ask yourself how you want to handle the logistics of dealing one-on-one with the tenants. Do you have enough money to hire a team of professionals to handle maintenance issues and rent collection? If you have no property management experience, you will want to keep your tenants happy by hiring professionals. It will cost you money to hire a company to manage your property, but it can also save you money long-term by lowering your turnover and letting you maintain your regular full-time job.

The Importance of Proving Low-Income Housing

There are many reasons why people need affordable housing, especially in this day and age. Never before has the housing crisis across America been such a political talking point and human rights issue. 

All around the nation, nearly 75% of the people renting apartments or houses say it’s because they cannot afford to purchase one. Millions of Americans now spend over half of their paychecks on rent when the standard used to be a quarter of their monthly earnings. The National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) recently polled data from every state in order to determine the lowest salary needed for a 40-hour workweek in order to be able to maintain affordable and sustainable housing, meaning a two-bedroom rental property. In every single case, the person would have to be earning higher than the highest minimum wage in the country, which is $14.00/hour in Washington, DC. When a problem of this magnitude reaches a 100% failure rate, it is beyond a crisis. 

All humans need to have their basic human needs met before they can begin living an effective life. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs demonstrates that humans require five levels of needs to be met and each one builds on the one before. At our very core, people need to have their biological needs met. This includes air, water, food, sleep, clothing, and shelter. If these primal, organic, essential needs are not fulfilled, a person cannot excel to the next level which includes sustaining gainful employment, good health, and personal security. Once these are achieved, a person can then begin to connect with his/her community and to form social connections. This, in turn, leads to advancing their self-esteem and an ability to self-actualize, ultimately making someone feel independent, happy, and free. 

But there is an issue when it starts with stagnation. There is an order in which things need to occur so that a person can improve his/her life. Success breeds success, but the opposite can also be true. It isn’t enough to have the desire to succeed in life. A person also needs a reliable support system. Some would argue that taxes we pay to our government should enable people to have certain inalienable rights such as food and shelter. 
In addition, when housing is improved, everyone benefits by lifting up other citizens in their community. Public safety is one of the areas that everyone can agree is a main issue of concern. There is a direct correlation between the rate of crime and the rate of homelessness, so having more people in affordable housing has a ripple effect that can benefit many by creating safer spaces.