TIP OF THE WEEK

It’s virtually impossible to know what size home you can afford if you aren’t fully aware of how much money you are earning and how much you are spending each month.

Start with your income: How much do you bring home after taxes and retirement plan contributions?

Next, look at your expenses: What are your necessary expenses? How much are you paying each month toward your debt? What additional expenses do you have that wouldn’t be deemed “necessary?” How much money do you have left (if any)?

This will help you see how much breathing room is in your current budget, what expenses might be on the chopping block and the space you have for additional home and mortgage expenses when buying a home.

Consider the potential costs of being a homeowner

While rent payments are generally straightforward and predictable, the same can’t always be said for homeownership costs. Your situation can vary depending on a variety of factors, but here are a few things you might need to prepare your budget for: Property taxes, homeowners insurance, private mortgage insurance, home ownership assistance, homeowners association fees, maintenance fees and utility costs.

Start living like a homeowner

If you want to avoid experiencing sticker shock after your home purchase is complete, start living like a homeowner now. Consider your current rental or home-ownership costs and compare them to the costs for a home in your target price point. Can your current budget handle the difference? Are you still able to pay for your necessities plus shore up your financial future through short- and long-term savings? Or do you find yourself feeling desperate by the end of the month?

Determine where to make adjustments

Does living like a homeowner make you a little wary for what’s next? Now is the perfect time to create space in your budget by cutting back expenses and paying down debt. Now that you know where your money is going, determine the unnecessary leaks. Maybe your monthly food bill is exorbitantly high. Or maybe your subscription services have gotten out of hand. If your priority is purchasing a home — and being financially comfortable in that home - work to cut expenses that are contradictory to that goal.

— Brandpoint

THE LIST

According to Forbes, the top 10 most valuable sports teams in the world are:

1. Dallas Cowboys ($4.2 billion) (NFL)

2. New York Yankees ($3.7 billion) (MLB)

3. Manchester United ($3.69 billion) (Soccer)

4. Barcelona ($3.64 billion) (Soccer)

5. Real Madrid ($3.58 billion) (Soccer)

6. New England Patriots ($3.4 billion) (NFL)

7. New York Knicks ($3.3 billion)

8. New York Giants ($3.1 billion) (NFL)

9. San Francisco 49ers ($3 billion) (NFL)

10. Los Angeles Lakers ($3 billion) (NBA)

NUMBER TO KNOW

$153 billion: According to a recent report by the National Association of Realtors, foreign buyers and recent immigrants spent an estimated $153 billion on American properties in the past year.

TECH TALK

FBI warns of privacy concerns of ‘smart toys’

The Federal Bureau of Investigation recently issued a public service announcement about the possible dangers of internet-connected toys. The FBI said the ‘smart toys’ could pose privacy and “contact concerns” for children. Features such as microphones, cameras and GPS could put children at risk because of the personal information that could be unwittingly disclosed by the toy. The FBI said parents should examine the toys’ user agreement disclosures and privacy practices to find out where data is sent and stored.

— More Content Now