• Real Estate

    First Time Home Buyer? What You NEED To Know!

    Feel free to watch the video here!

    Hey guys! For those of you who don’t know me, I’m Brendin DeVisser, a real estate agent in West Michigan! I’m 25 and I’m the founder of The DeVisser Group with Five Star Lakeshore which consists of other real estate agents and my marketer.

    My goal here is to quickly and simply, help you through the process of buying your first home! I know it can sound intimidating and stressful, however, if you surround yourself with professionals you can trust, that stress and intimidation will disappear

    I was 19 when I first invested in real estate. Crazy right? Was I scared? Nah. I’m a big tough man and I can handle all this stressful money stuff. I’m kidding. Of course, I was scared!I was putting a lot of money into something that would eventually be mine, but right now felt like it was burning a hole in my wallet. However, with the right guidance from experts I trusted, I was able to purchase a duplex, rent it out and start paying it off. 

    You’re buying your first home, or you’re thinking about it. Well, now is the time to do it! The real estate market is still hot but it won’t be forever. Interest rates will rise and so will the prices of homes. 

    So, where do you start? 

    You contact someone like us. A real estate team you can trust to guide you and prepare you for what is ahead. If they’re anything like us, they will be there to answer any questions you have, anytime. You want to prevent as many conflicts from arising as possible and that is the agent’s job. 

    They can refer you to a bank or lender they rely on to check your credit score to see if you’re capable of getting a loan and eventually approval to buy a home. 

    What’s a credit score?

    Ahh, the dreaded credit score. If you’re afraid of it, it’s for one of three reasons.

    1. You don’t know what it is, therefore you’re afraid of the unknown. 
    2. You don’t have one.
    3. You have a bad one.

     First of all, what is a credit score?

    Simply put, a credit score is something you receive and earn by making a payment on time and for a period of time. (Examples: Phone, car, rent etc.)

    Secondly, how do I improve my credit score?

    • Increase your points by paying in full and on time
    • 850 is a perfect score 
    • Earning a perfect score gives you the best possible interest rate for purchasing your home 
    • Accomplishing this proves to a lender/bank you’re responsible
    • If you have zero credit it will be very difficult in most instances to get an approved loan for a home
    • This process is similar to a car loan if you’ve had one, but we are generally talking a bigger loan, which means more requirements. 
    • Consistent payments for at least 6 months is what lenders are looking for

    Keeping this up and being responsible with your money and payments will offer an easier time buying a home later on.

    Do you have to be Pre-Approved to buy a home?

    Yes, unless you’re paying in cash. 

    The preapproval letter tells us you are ready to buy a home

    To Rent or to Buy? 

    This is the question I get all the time.

    If you plan on staying where you are for a short period of time, renting could be your best option. However, if you plan on settling down in the area for several years, investing in a home, in my opinion, is the best way to go. Then you can add equity (or real property value) instead of paying rent for something you don’t (and won’t) own.

     It’s different for everyone, so make sure you’re talking to a professional you trust to figure out what’s best for you and your situation!

    Some Challenges I Ran Into Buying My First Home

    As I mentioned before, I was 19 when I first bought my duplex. I was taught to use cash for everything so, if you were paying attention, you know what that means. My credit score was NOT perfect, which made it difficult to take out a loan and buy my first home. Learn from my uneducated 19-year-old self and start working on that credit score! Find people you trust and search for a worthy investment!

    These simple steps are crucial as a first time home buyer! I hope this was helpful and if you have any questions feel free to contact us. You can find us on almost every social media platform to learn more about real estate.

    Article Contributed By: Brendin DeVisser

    DeVisser Group:
    Website: http://brendin.seewestmichiganhomes.com
    Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/brendinfivestarealestate/?ref=settings
    Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/bd5starrealtor/
    Twitter: https://twitter.com/bdevissfivestar?lang=en
    LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/brendin-devisser-877a09118/
    Snapchat: @bdvrealestate

  • Insurance

    Life Insurance: What Kind Is Best For Me?

    Welcome back! Hopefully you read my last article, where I discussed three reasons why considering life insurance should be a priority. If one of these reasons resonated with you, or you have one of your own, I want to give some thoughts as to the different types of life insurance. Broadly, there are two categories: term insurance and permanent insurance.

    Term insurance is simple – you pay an annual premium for the number of years in the term, and, other than a few exceptions, the insurance company will pay your beneficiary the death benefit if you were to die during the term of the policy. For example, I own a 20 year term policy, running from 2018 to 2038. If I were to die in 2030, my wife would receive the $1,000,000 death benefit, tax-free.

    Permanent insurance is a little more complex. Within the category of permanent insurance, there are several types, but we will focus on the two main “flavors.”

    First, there is “protection-based” permanent insurance. Protection-based permanent insurance is designed to provide a death benefit for your entire life. Instead of securing a death benefit for a 20 year period, this kind of policy can provide a death benefit to your beneficiary regardless of how long you live.

    Second, there is “accumulation-based” permanent insurance. It also has a death benefit, but is really designed to grow cash value within an account housed at the insurance company. A portion of the premium you pay goes to cover the cost of your death benefit, a portion goes to the insurance company’s operating expenses, and a portion goes into an account for you. As you pay premiums, the cash in the account grows. Depending on the strategy of distributions, you can leverage this cash value in tax-advantaged ways.

    So you are probably thinking…why wouldn’t I always buy permanent insurance over term, as it has much more benefit?

    You guessed it: permanent insurance is more (and can be much more) expensive than term insurance. But, most millennials are at a point in their financial journey where permanent insurance is not only too expensive, but is unnecessary. You are likely better off focusing on maximizing your contributions to tax-advantaged accounts like a 401(k) or IRA, but also securing term insurance to protect your finances. (And, if you remember from the last article, term insurance sometimes can be converted into permanent insurance!)

    Remember: the cheapest day to buy life insurance was yesterday. If you just need term coverage, you are in good company. If you can afford permanent coverage, that may be a better fit. Either way, make sure you are protecting the financial plan you work so hard to build.

    Want more information on life insurance? Let’s talk! Face The Fear is here to help millennials make smart financial decisions that fit their lifestyle.

    Article Contributed By: Xavier Serrani

    Contact Us: facethefearfw@gmail.com.

  • The Market: 101

    Drop It Dow Low: What is the Dow Jones?

    You may (or may not) have heard that the Dow Jones has been dropping it like it’s hot lately, dipping 1,150 points just last week. World events and uncertain economic conditions can result in market volatility — when the stock market changes moods faster than your teenage sister. But, what exactly is the Dow Jones? And why has it been making major money moves recently?

    The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) is a stock market index that includes 30 large, U.S. publicly-traded companies and acts as a thermometer, testing the overall health of the U.S. marketplace. Sounds a lot like the S&P 500 index, right? 

    Here are several key differences between the S&P 500 and the DJIA:

    S&P 500Dow Jones (DJIA)
    Founded in 1957Founded in 1896
    500 of the largest U.S.-based publicly-traded companies across all industries 30 of the largest U.S.-based publicly-traded companies across all industries (originated with just 12 companies solely in the industrial sector)
    Companies selected by S&P Committee (owned by McGraw Hill Financial)Companies selected by Dow Jones & Co. Averages Committee
    Companies selected based upon specific qualification criteria No defined criteria for how a company is selected — generally, must be a large leader in their industry
    Stocks within the index are weighted by market capitalization (market cap = # of outstanding shares x market price)Stocks within the index are price-weighted (the higher the stock’s market price, the more influence it will have on the index’s performance)
    Often considered the “single best indicator” of stock market performance, because of its broad and diverse collection of companies across all industriesMost well-known stock market index. But, because if its exclusivity (only represents 30 of over 3,000 US public companies), it is more an indicator of blue-chip stocks than the market overall

    OK, now that we’ve got a grasp on what the Dow Jones Index is, let’s talk about why it’s been dropping faster than your bank account after a trip to Target.

    The stock market can be affected by many factors, such as political changes, natural disasters, inflation, interest and exchange rates, and unexpected world events — just to name a few. Most recently, when the Dow Jones stumbled and fell by 4 percent in early October, it was likely due to sipping a cocktail of rising Treasury yields, the increased Federal Funds rate, and the China-U.S. trade war. Just like how you get a little wobbly after drinking one too many cocktails, the stock market also gets shaky (see: volatile) when too many uncertain events are mixed together at the same time. The stock market: it’s just like us.

    But, not to fear. Similarly to how you will drink lots of water, take an Advil, and eat greasy food to bounce back after a night out, the stock market bounces back, too. Usually, the severity of the market fall will determine how long it will take to rebound. Small corrections can be overcome in just a few days, whereas a full-blown financial crisis may take years to recover from (think: the 2008 Great Recession).

    To recap: the Dow Jones is the most well-known market index, comprised of only 30 companies across various industries, and is used to evaluate general trends in the stock market. Recently, the Dow Jones took a big tumble due to a woozy cocktail of world events and interest rate changes. But, don’t worry. Analysts remind us that the market often panics over everything and can sometimes be a bit overdramatic…#Relatable. So, for now, be prepared to ride the roller coaster of market volatility, because over the long-term, the market always trends upward. Ask Warren Buffett.

    Congratulations! You now know what the Dow Jones is and why it’s been in the headlines lately. But, this article was not meant to be an in-depth analysis of the Dow Jones (because ain’t nobody got time for dat). If you’d like to dig in a little deeper to the topics covered above, feel free to click on any of the hyperlinks (including that one) to become a Dow Jones expert. You’re welcome.

    Written By: Kaitlyn Duchien (@ktaylor1395)

    Contact Us: facethefearfw@gmail.com

  • The Market: 101

    Taking Stock: What is the S&P 500?

    Standard and Poor: Is this the title of my autobiography? Or a stock market index? Honestly, both.

    The Standard & Poor’s (S&P) 500 is a stock market index consisting of 500 of the largest publicly-traded U.S. companies, measured by market capitalization. In other words, the S&P 500 is a exclusive group of 500 hot-shot companies that–as a whole–provide a glimpse at how the U.S. economy is doing overall.

    In order to enter the exclusive S&P 500 club, companies need to meet some pretty intense qualifications. Just to name a few, the company must have:

    • Headquarters in the United States
    • A market cap of $5.3 billion or more (market cap = $ of shares x # of shares outstanding)
    • Positive earnings in the last 4 most recent quarters
    • Actively trading at a reasonable price, with the majority of its shares held by investors (instead of sitting on a shelf waiting to be sold)

    But, even after meeting all of these requirements (and then some), a company is still not guaranteed to be included in the S&P 500 index. Think of the S&P 500 like Regina George and The Plastics — they’re rich, famous, and everybody wants to be in their group.

    OK, so now that you know what the S&P 500 is, why does it matter to you? Well, think of it this way. When you go on Amazon to buy literally anything, the first thing you do is check the reviews on the product to make sure it’s a reasonable investment, right? You want to poll the masses to see what the general public has to say first, preventing you from spending your hard-earned money on a sketchy product that takes six months to be delivered and, when it arrives, might not even be “as pictured.” Overall, the more five-star reviews the product has, the better.

    The S&P 500 is similar in the sense that it provides the public a simple gauge to understand how the stock market is performing overall, which will help us guide our investment decisions. This is also why the S&P 500 is a popular index to invest in through mutual funds and other sources, as it pools some of the largest companies across the U.S. into one collective group, rather than investing into each individual company separately. It’s the same reason why you would probably buy a TV on Amazon with 5,000 4.5-star reviews, rather than a TV with only one five-star review. Crowd-sourcing (on Amazon) and diversification (in your investment portfolio) makes all the difference, people.


    Congratulations, you now know what the S&P 500 is and why it matters to you! But, this article was not meant to be an in-depth analysis of the S&P 500 (because ain’t nobody got time for dat). If you’d like to dig in a little deeper to the topics covered above, feel free to click on any of the hyperlinks (including that one) to become an S&P expert. You’re welcome.

    Written By: Kaitlyn Duchien (@ktaylor1395)

    Contact Us: facethefearfw@gmail.com

  • Videos

    Welcome to Face the Fear!

    Hi Friends! Nicole Ellsworth and Kaitlyn Duchien here. We are two motivated millennials facing the fear of our financial futures. Join us on the journey, as we dive into topics such as investing, retirement planning, life insurance, budgeting, and so much more.

    YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC5PcXSzVvR9KZKWm4Ihh3pg

    Instagram: @Face.The.Fear

    Twitter: @Face_The_Fear

    Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/FaceTheFearFW/

    Podcast: Face the Fear (on iTunes, Spotify, and Stitcher)

     

  • The Market: 101

    Stocks and Bonds, James Bonds

    Stocks and Bonds, James Bonds

    When you think of the word “stock,” what comes to mind? You may think of the New York Stock Exchange. Or, maybe (if you’re like me), you think about how much you need to stock up on Peppermint Ice Cream before it goes out of stock again after the holiday season (just me?…okay).

    What about bonds? Do you picture a strapping Daniel Craig wearing a pristine black tuxedo, casually armed with a Walther P99 pistol, in hot pursuit of a criminal? Because I sure do.

    No matter what comes to mind, we’re going to dive in to the definitions of stocks and bonds (the financial kind, sorry Daniel Craig), discuss what they are, and why they are important to us.

    Let’s start with stocks. By definition, a stock is a type of financial security that allows the stockholder the right to ownership in a company. When someone purchases a company’s stock, they are buying a piece of that company, including the right to claim a portion of the company’s earnings (if they have any — aka if the company makes any money, which you sure hope they do if you invested in them).

    Think of stock like a piece of pizza. Say you and three other friends are hanging out on a Saturday night and suddenly the midnight munchies strike.

    All four of you decide to put in 2 bucks per person to buy a medium pizza for $8. When the pizza arrives, each person owns the right to ¼ of the pizza (or 2 pieces each), since you each contributed $2 for an $8 pizza with 8 slices total. #Math

    Now, obviously a pizza can’t magically grow in size. But for this example, let’s say that it can. Imagine the pizza miraculously doubles in size. Now, you own the right to 4 slices of pizza! Well, since you’re on a diet and you really shouldn’t eat more than two slices of pizza, you decide to sell those two extra slices to a new friend who (conveniently) stopped by after you all ordered the pizza.

    In theory, this is how buying a stock works. You own a portion of the company. When the company grows and earns profits, you are entitled to a percentage of those profits. You can then sell your portion of ownership in the company to someone else for more than you originally paid for it. By the way, that’s the ONLY way to make money with a stock — the company must grow so that you can sell your portion for more than you bought it for.

    What happens if the company loses money and the stock price goes down? Well, that’s the risk of investing — which is especially risky if you invest in just ONE company or sector of the market. If the one company you invested in (Target, for example) or sector of the market (all retail stores), suddenly goes out of business (don’t panic…this is just a hypothetical example), then you would lose all of your money very quickly. Thankfully, investors have alternative options, such as mutual funds, that allows you to invest in many different companies across many different market sectors at one time — thus limiting your overall risk.

    Okay, so now that we know what a stock is and how it can earn us money, let’s talk about bonds. Sorry, we’re still not talking about you, Daniel Craig.

    Unlike stocks, bonds do not represent ownership in a corporation. Instead, bonds are a type of loan that an investor can make to a company or to the government, which in turn, promises to return a fixed interest rate to the investor over a specific period of time. Ideally, at the end of the bond’s lifetime, the investor will be repaid her entire initial payment, plus a fixed rate of interest. This is why bonds are often called “fixed-income securities” — because they provide a fixed amount of income (in the form of interest payments) to the investor. Shocking, I know.

    Because bonds promise to pay back your initial investment plus a fixed interest rate, they are said to be less risky than stocks, which do not have a fixed rate of return and do not promise to return the money invested. However, bonds are not completely risk-free. The amount of risk you take with a bond depends largely on who is borrowing your money. In real world terms, you know that it’s a lot less risky to loan your mom a dollar than that one friend who is a notorious mooch and never pays anyone back. (I’m talking to you, Karen).

    Applying that same concept to investing, a bond issued by a young, relatively unstable company is much more risky than a Treasury bond, which is issued by the federal government and is essentially risk-free. Why is a Treasury bond risk-free, you ask? Well, the federal government has this amazing authoritative power called TAXATION, which means it can always raise taxes in order to pay back the interest on its Treasury bonds. As much as a normal company would simply LOVE to force its customers to buy their products (or else!), unfortunately, they can’t do that. This means that corporate bonds may not always be able to keep their promises of paying the investor a fixed interest rate, thus creating risk. Usually, the more risky the bond, the higher the interest rate will be. On the flip side, Treasury bonds usually have the lowest interest rates on the market. Low risk, low returns. High risk, high returns. You get it.

    Believe it or not, we’ve just barely scratched the surface of stocks and bonds. Tragic, I know. I don’t want to bore you to tears, so we’ll leave it at that for now.

    But, before you go, one last question. Why do stocks and bonds matter? Even if you don’t plan on being the next Warren Buffett, you should feel confident in understanding stocks and bonds, and identifying where they fit into your investment portfolio (Note: If you’ve got a 401(k) or retirement savings plan, chances are you’re already investing in several stocks and bonds, whether you realize it or not. Congratulations!)

    (QUICK DISCLAIMER: I am NOT a financial professional, so please consult one of those fantastic, educated, and far-more-qualified individuals BEFORE you dive into investing or making changes to your retirement plan). As a very general rule of thumb (not specific to every individual’s situation), the younger you are, the more your money may be invested in stocks and less in bonds. As you age and grow closer to retirement, the percentage of your money invested may gradually shift from stock-heavy to bond-heavy. The reason for this is, when you’re young, you have the advantage of time on your side to ride the up-and-down roller coaster of the stock market. Even when there is a market correction and you lose a portion of your portfolio, you still have decades before retirement to earn that money back. However, the closer you get to retirement, the less time your portfolio has to bounce back after a market correction. Thus, safer investment options like bonds will help prevent you from losing your entire life savings to a market drop right before you were planning on retiring and moving to Hawaii. AloNAH, you don’t want that to happen.

    Alright, now you know what stocks and bonds are and why they matter! Woot woot! Next step, consult with your financial professional to collaborate on an investing plan that is specifically designed to meet your lifestyle goals.

    And, don’t forget to check back here for new, exciting content to be released very soon!

    Written By: Kaitlyn Duchien (@ktaylor1395)

    Contact Us: facethefearfw@gmail.com