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  • KaiM
  • January 18, 2019 06:01:29 PM
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A Little About Us

Want to retire early? Looking to be financial independence? Join us on our journey to F.I.R.E. We post tips and tricks for those we want to attain early retirement.

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9 Essential Things for First Time Home Buyers

Before starting to look for your dream house, consider below 9 essential things for a first time home buyer. New article post 9 Essential Things for First Time Home Buyers appeared first on We on Fire - Our FIRE Journey.

Buying a home for the first-home owner can be an overwhelming life decision. Buying your first home is a daunting task. For most people, purchasing a house will be the single biggest investment in their lifetime. Therefore, you need to be thoroughly prepared for it and do your due diligence. 

As a Realtor, I haven seen too many people who want to buy their first house but are totally unprepared for it. There are numerous steps and things you need to know and prepare before you should even start looking at the house. Before starting to look for your dream house, consider below 9 essential things for first time home buyers. 

1. Check Your Credit Score

Checking your credit score is important because a major factor in determining loan approval, loan amount, and the rate of your loan is your credit score. A low credit score (580 to 619) will put you at a disadvantage when shopping for a home loan. An excellent/very good credit score (700 to 850) will get you a better loan. 

For a free annual copy of your credit report from all three major credit reporting companies, Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion, you can go to AnnualCreditReport.com or call toll-free 1-877-322-8228.

2. Find Out What’s Your Budget

Figure out what your budget is important. You don’t want to spend your whole paycheck on the mortgage. Things to consider when buying a house:

Monthly Payment: what’s your comfort level for a monthly mortgage? How much can you pay without jeopardizing your ability to pay other bills?

Tax: In Santa Clara County the property tax rate is 0.79%. If you are buying a $1,000,000 house, your property tax will be $7,900 a year. 

Cost of Repairs: Unless you are moving into a brand new house, there are bound to be repair costs and termite extermination costs. 

Closing cost: On average, buyers pay about 2%-5% of the purchase price for closing costs.

3. Stick to your Budget

After knowing what you can afford, you need to stay within your budget limit. This will help you be ready for any unforeseen expenses. If you stay below your loan when buying a house, you can request the closing fee to wrap around with your mortgage. 

A wrap-around means the fees to process your home purchase can be included in your mortgage. This way you will not have to come up with extra money to cover the cost. However, your loan and the monthly payment will be more with the wrap-around loan compared to a regular loan.  

4. Make Sure Your Financials are in Order

When applying for a loan, the bank will look at your credit score and other several financial factors to determine your ability to pay the mortgage. The higher your credit score, the higher the chance of the bank approving your loan. Click here to read how to increase your credit score.  

Debt can be car loan, student loan, or credit card. To find your debt to income ratio, calculate your total debt and divide it by your total income. The lower the number the better. Traditional lenders generally prefer a 36% debt-to-income ratio. If your debt to income ratio is high, try to pay off some of your debt down first before applying for a mortgage.

Example: If your gross monthly income is $5,000 and your debt is $2,000/month, then your debt-to-income ratio is 40 percent. ($2,000 is 40% of $5,000.) This is considered a high ratio.

Make sure you have the down payment for the house in order. Typically in today’s hot housing market, lenders want to see at least 20% down payment. So if your budget is a million dollars, then you will need to come up with a $200,000 down payment. 

5. Park Your Emotion at the Door

It’s fine that you’re infatuated with the houses while you are shopping. However, you need to make sure that the house fits your budget and your family needs.

You are putting yourself at a disadvantage during the negotiation phase if you are falling for the house. This might cause you to miss detecting major needed repairs. You will have plenty of time to fall in love after you move in. While shopping for homes, you need to keep reminding yourself that this is only a building for living. 

6. Purchase With Resale in Mind 

For most of the first homeowners, they believe their first home will be their only home purchase instead of thinking it as a financial stepping stone.

You can always make an improvement to the house. However, you cannot pack up the whole house and relocate it. That’s why real estate is about location, location, and location. You can look for close amenities that will help increase your home value like parks, schools, or shopping malls.

Beware of buying the biggest and most expensive property on the block. When it is time for you to resell your house, it will be more difficult to get your desired price because the buyers will be comparing to the average cost of the neighborhood. 

7. Make a Checklist of Must Have

Your home searching will be smoother and quicker if you have a checklist of what your first  home must have. A checklist would help you think with your head instead of your heart which will take the emotion out of buying your first home. When you provide a list to your realtor, he or she can help you sort out a list of houses to meet your requirements.

An example of a checklist:
1. number of rooms
2. number of bathrooms
3. Sqft. of the house
3. Lot size
4. Zip Code
5. Pool Yes or No

8. Look at Financial Programs or Incentive for First Time Buyer

Look for programs through your local, state, and federal level which often offer low down payment programs or other alternative options that you might qualify for.  

For example, in California, you might qualify for CalHFA, a program that offers low downpayment for first-home buyers. Click here to read more about CalHFA.

9. Get a Pre-approval Letter

To make an offer on a house in the Bay Area, you will need proof of funds. If you are not planning to pay all cash, then a pre-approval letter shows the seller that you have the money to back up your offer. A pre-approval letter also lets you see how much the bank will let you borrow so you can stay within your budget. A seller will take you more seriously if you already have a pre-approval letter ready to go.

Now you have done your homework and completed these 9 essential things for first time home buyers, it is time to start looking for your dream house! Going to Open Houses is a great way to start helping you narrow down the type of house and the neighborhood that you would consider. These events are free. You can go to your realtor to get a list or use online websites like Realtor.com, Zillow, or Redfin.

Need more advice? Read more advices from other bloggers here and about buying a house in general here.

New article post 9 Essential Things for First Time Home Buyers appeared first on We on Fire - Our FIRE Journey.


Saturday Night Read – Relationships and Money

Money might affect your relationship with the people around you. Here are some stories from our financial community. New article post Saturday Night Read – Relationships and Money appeared first on We on Fire - Our FIRE Journey.

Talking about money is hard. Talking about money with your spouse, parents and loved ones is even harder. You don’t want to seem like money trump the relationship you have with them. However, often is the case that money can cause a lot of relationship strains regardless of your goodwill. Many people have different perspectives and paradigms about money and not everyone sees it the same way you do, even your closest loved one. No matter how hard it is though, you will need to discuss money with your loved ones 

Are You and Your Partner Financially Compatible? By Money After Graduation

“What, if anything, do you expect from a partner financially? This will, of course, vary depending on a variety of factors. But it is important that you talk openly about this to ensure you’re both on the same page. It is important to think about your financial future when managing your financial present. Identifying financial goals and sharing them with your partner is important for both of you. It will likely determine where you’re both headed in your life and career, and establish some of your priorities.

8 COUPLE MONEY MANAGEMENT SUCCESS TIPS By Candian Budget Binder

“Couples should always work together to build a happy home which includes couple money management. 

Say that again, Couple Money Management, NOT just Money Management.

Relationship=Two people. (well maybe more in some cases)

You have to look out for yourself and your kids if you have any in a relationship where things are going as expected.

Losing everything you have because your partner is rubbish with money and unwilling to change is selfish and unfair to the family.”

You Will Always Regret Sacrificing Love For Money by Financial Samurai

“Love is complicated because there are so many different types of love. With at least six different types of love, it makes absolute sense to focus at least an equal amount of time on love as we do on our careers and our pursuit of wealth.

Yes, there is also a love for money and status.

But if we focus too much on career and money, we become unbalanced. We start feeling empty because we start wondering what is the damn point of working so much?”

Want to read more about finance and relationship? Click Here.

New article post Saturday Night Read – Relationships and Money appeared first on We on Fire - Our FIRE Journey.


How to Achieve Your Goals in 2020

Setting a goal is easy but completing it is hard. Once you have your goal, then see how to achieve your goals in 2020 New article post How to Achieve Your Goals in 2020 appeared first on We on Fire - Our FIRE Journey.

Setting a goal is easy but completing it is hard. However, the chances of completing the set goal are to write it down and share it with the world. Writing down your goals is the first step in achieving them. First, it gives the goals a physical form. Second, I can review my goals whenever I want to remind myself of what they are.

People who don’t write down their goals will eventually forget about them over the million other things you have going on throughout the year. If you need help with creating your own goal, I suggest reading The One Thing by Keller Gary. Once you have your goal, then see how to achieve your goals in 2020.

That is why I write down my goals every year. Without much ado, I present to you my 2020 goals.

Self Improvement Goal

Self Improvement are goals that you want to work on to improve your skill set, your knowledge and to be a better person. I strongly believe in continuous learning and a lifetime learner. You never stop learning so you can always keep improving. Here are my self improvement goals for 2020.

Read 50 books a year 
  • Reason: I want to learn about creating and running a business. 
  • Due Date: end of the year
  • Break down: 4 books per month
  • [2-10-20] Progress: Behind
    So far, I completed 2 books last month. There are 52 weeks in a year. On average, I need to complete 4 books in a month. 
Go to the gym at least 3 days in a week
  • Reason: I want to have a healthy life and a beach body. Without health, it will be difficult to achieve my goals.
  • Due Date: September 2020. I should lose 1-inch belly fat. 
  • [2-10-20] Progress: Difficult to Maintain
    Mr.WoF and I are going to the gym at least 3 times a week for only some weeks. Sometimes, we only go 2 times a week. Amazingly, we are making good progress because our stomach fat is slowly getting smaller. =)
Be closer to my family
  • Reason: I love my family 
  • Break Down:
    1. Visit my sister once a month.
    2. Talk to my mom and my brother once a week.
    3. Communicate my feeling to Mr.WoF better instead of giving him attitude. 

Business Goal

Develop our first prototype 
  • Reason: the Best way to showcase the business is with an MVP (minimum viable product)
  • Due Date: September 2020
  • [2-11-20] On time. In progress 
    Breaking down this goal.
    1. Design the application
    2. Coding – turn the application into something real – Mr.WoF’s job
    3. Test the application
    We are at the beginning of the designing phase. 
Ask 100 businesses to join
  • Reason: The main reason for us to develop a product is to have people using it. Also, a business is not a business until someone is paying you or else it will just be volunteer work. 
  • Due Date: December 2020
  • [2-11-20] Waiting for the MVP

Investment Goal 

The main goal for investing is to achieve FIRE (financial independence, retire early). 

  • Deposit $6,000 (max contribution) into my Roth IRA. [COMPLETED]
  • Max contribution to 401k: $19,500.
    • Break Down: Monthly contribution to 401k
      Everything is set up from the company to auto contribute to the 401k account. Now, I’m waiting for the money to grow. 
  • Contribute to stock account: $24,000 total in 2020
    • Break Down: Monthly contribution is $2,000
    • [2-11-20] In progress. No delay. I have been contributing every month =)

What’s your goal this year? How are you achieving your goals in 2020? Leave us a comment below. 

New article post How to Achieve Your Goals in 2020 appeared first on We on Fire - Our FIRE Journey.


Our Financial Reflection – January 2020

January 2020 came so quickly and also left us so quickly. Here is our financial update for January. New article post Our Financial Reflection – January 2020 appeared first on We on Fire - Our FIRE Journey.

Time is flying by fast! In my mind, I just celebrated the new year but we are already one month into 2020. January was a productive month. Even though we did not meet all of our goals, we had put our best effort into achieving them. 

For those people who are affected by the Coronavirus, we send our condolences. 

Things That Went Well

This month I read 2 books! I didn’t complete my goal of reading 4 books a month. Compared to last year, it’s an improvement. This month’s books were The One Thing and Evergreen.

We are going to the gym more consistently now because we want to use our belly fat. It’s hard to build a gym habit but Mr.WoF has been a really good coach and motivator. Trying to be fit is like melting an ice cube. If you input more heat to the ice cube. it will melt. But, if not heat is produced, then the ice cube will remain. Just like my belly fat.

We updated our blog to improve site performance and page load speed. This is a continuation of the site redesign work we did back in November. We moved away from WordPress theme since WordPress is known to load too many unnecessary scripts. The front-end is now completely in React. Hopefully, this will lead to improved average load time leading to more users. 

If you have a suggestion on how we should improve our blog, let us know

Things That Went South

Our avocado tree was growing so well…until we made a blunder. Our room is really cold in the winter so we had this ingenious idea of putting the plant next to a heater to warm it up. Little did we know this killed the plant somewhat… It wasn’t until that that leaves started wittering that we noticed near the base of the plant, the stem is all brown. 

Luckily, nature always finds away. The base of the plant started growing two stems which appear to be a branch. We are so happy that the plan survived so our 1-year effort is not all in vain. We have since cut the stem to the base so now the plant is super short but at least it is still growing. 

Investment Reflection

Mr.WoF bought a lot of Boeing (BA) stock when it was down last year. However, this month Boeing announced the 737 MAX is going to be grounded until June or later. The stock dropped even more since. Boeing is a big company and probably won’t fail but it might be a while for the stock to climb back up. Until then, Mr.WoF will keep buying more to lower this average cost.

Looking Forward

Our Thailand trip is a month away! And we barely planned anything yet. Mr.WoF has been watching Mark Wein youtube channel for food in Bangkok. I think Mr.WoF is now a fan of Mark Wein since he watched all his Thailand videos. 

Hopefully, by the time we travel next month, the new Coronavirus is contained by then and does not spread more in Thailand. We are closely monitoring the situation with the new virus and hope it doesn’t get any worse. If not, we might have to cancel our trip. 

In February is when our steak house is going to start paying full rent! Hopefully, next month the financial for CRE will be higher than in January. 

Expense In January

Not much on expense this month. We haven’t been eating out since New Year at all. Mostly just grocery shopping and buying a chicken drumstick at the store. Since we move to the plant-based diet, we have been wasting less food and spend less time preparing a meal. 

January Overall

First, we really appreciate my landlord for not raising our rent. This really helps us save and invest. 

Other investment categories are slowly increasing. We are starting off on a good foot because our overall increased by 1.23% compared to last month. I hope that every month we can increase by 1% or more hehe. 

How was your January financial?

Type of InvestmentSavedGoal% Changed% Completed to Goal
Passive Income$733.70$10,000.00-7.38%7.34%
Retirement$195,314.37$600,000.000.66%32.55%
Investments$264,845.28$1,200,000.001.69%22.07%
Grand Total$460,893.35$1,810,000.001.23%25.46%

New article post Our Financial Reflection – January 2020 appeared first on We on Fire - Our FIRE Journey.


Saturday Night Read – First Time Home Owners

buying your first home can be a daunting task.To buy or not to buy? To become a homeowner or not become a homeowner? That is the question we all ask. New article post Saturday Night Read – First Time Home Owners appeared first on We on Fire - Our FIRE...

Buying your first home can be a daunting task. Purchasing a home is the biggest purchase you will ever make in your life. You can say it is your biggest investment which comes with the biggest risk as well. To buy or not to buy? To become a homeowner or not become a homeowner? That is the question we all ask. You should only buy a home if you can afford it. Here are some advice for first time home owners around the community.

Excellent home searching advice, especially for first time buyers… by Budget are Sexy

That’s my bolding up there which I think sums it up nicely. We can get so sucked into the *niceties* a home offers that we might end up accidentally chasing the wrong things and completely overlook the more important ones! Like the ones that best *fit* our specific lifestyles!

And while we still haven’t sat down to list out all our “must haves” yet in this potential new home (emphasis on potential – it’s not a given  yet! ;)), here’s what our list looks like so far:

First-Time Home Buyer Tips (What You Need to Know Before You Buy) by Your Money Geek

“A new home is one of the most significant purchases you will ever make. However, using these first time home buyer tips should make the experience a little more pleasant. Looking back, having more guidance would have made the process less stressful and a lot more enjoyable. Getting started can sometimes be the hardest part of any process. So, if you need a little jump-start, here’s how you can prepare for your new purchase”

FIRST-TIME HOME BUYING 101 by The College Investor

“It’s important to ask this question before you get started – why are you even buying a home. Seriously. Just because your mom and dad tell you it’s the next step, it’s not always worth it.

In fact, recent studies have shown that (financially) home ownership is no different than apartment rentals over the long run. While everyone’s situation may vary, you have to keep in mind that homeownership is expensive.“

Want to learn more about buying a home? Click here

New article post Saturday Night Read – First Time Home Owners appeared first on We on Fire - Our FIRE Journey.


Book Review: The ONE Thing By Keller Gary

In the first 2 chapters, Keller explained the ONE thing that you do will help you knock over big huddle like a domino effect. New article post Book Review: The ONE Thing By Keller Gary appeared first on We on Fire - Our FIRE Journey.

The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary By Keller Gary. I wanted to read this book because it was recommended on The How of Business. I want to start my own business but lack the knowledge of how to build a business. Therefore, I decided to read books about business. I wanted to know how I can start a successful business. Here are the main ideas and takeaway from the book. Here are some recommended books for FIRE

In the first 2 chapters, Keller explained the ONE thing that you do will help you knock over big huddle like a domino effect. But what’s the main task that we need to do first? 

There are 6 lies that cloud our judgment on the ONE thing. 

  1. everything matters equally
  2. multitasking
  3. a disciplined life
  4. will power is always on will call
  5. a balanced life
  6. big is bad

Not Everything is Equal

Being busy as a bee would not yield the results that you want. Instead, you need to think about how to be productive. 

Death to-do list and onward with a success list. 

What’re the differences between to do and success list? To do list contains random unorganized tasks that can lead you to any direction. A success list only leads you to success, period. 

How to change a to-do list to a success list?

First, apply the 80/20 rule, the minority of your effort leads to the majority of your results. After creating your to-do list, narrow down to 20%, then 20% of 20%, until you find the ONE THING.

For Example: 

To do list:
  • Could do
  • Could do
  • Could do
  • Should do
  • Could do
  • Should do
Daft Success List:
  • Should do
  • Should do
Final Success List:
  • THE ONE THING YOU MUST DO

Multitasking Is A Lie

The term multitasking started to describe computer ability to process tasks so quickly that it seems to be able to complete 2 tasks at one time. 

However, it is NOT TRUE. A computer can only process one line of code at a time. We are creating a juggling illusion when we multitask…catch, toss, catch, toss one ball at a time. This is called task switching. 

Every time you switch between tasks, there is a delay to get your focus back to the original work. This causes you to spend more time on a project. 

Even though there is time you feel like you are multitasking like walking and talking, you are not putting 100% effort on either task. Like walking on a tightrope up 50 feet. You will stop talking and focus on walking. 

Don’t do the important things without putting 100% focus on the task at hand.

Disciplined Life is a lie

Living a disciplined life required a lot of effort. Instead, build a habit one at a time. On average, you can create a new habit within 66 days. With each positive habit you create, the path to success, happiness, and fulfillment is closer. 

Willpower Is Always Will-Call

Everyone has limited will-power per day. You can recharge your will-power by resting and eating right. When you make a decision while your willpower is low, you will decide base on your default settings. Therefore, do the ONE thing that is the most important first thing in the day when your willpower is full. 

A Balance Life Is a Lied. Instead, Use Counterbalance

Divide your life into work and personal life. During work, only focus on ONE thing. You need to counterbalance your work life with your personal life. 

I believe the most important quote from this section is “life is a game in which you are juggling five balls…one day you finally come to understand that work is a rubber ball. If you drop it, it will bounce back. The other four balls – family, health, friends, integrity – are made of glass. If you drop one of these, it will be irrevocably scuffed, nicked, perhaps even shattered.”

Think Big

Since no one knows about your upper limit of how much you can achieve, you should not be afraid of big ideas. This will set the foundation for where you will be in the future. As you grow, you will see that the big idea that was scary before is now easy to overcome. 

When you make your goals double down. Instead of ten, ask yourself “how can I reach 20?”

Act boldly. Don’t fear failure & learn from it.

Asking a great question will lead you to a path to a great answer. When you ask “What’s my one thing?” break down the question into – what’s the one thing I can do / such that by doing it/ everything else will be easier or unnecessary?”

From asking the question above, you need to ensure that your goal is not just doable. When a goal is doable, it’s like a task on a checklist. The best goal is something you need to explore/research to see what’s possible. 

  • Live With Purpose: In your life, if you don’t know your purpose, you won’t know which direction to head. Therefore, pick a direction and it will help bring clarity. If you don’t like what you picked, then change.
  • Live By Priority: Think about someday goal and break it down to 5 years, to 1 year, to 1 month, to 1 week, to now. This will let you see the big picture but also find the most important ONE thing.
  • Live For Productivity: Block out time to do your ONE thing. To become a master, you will need to blog out a minimum of 4 hours every day.

The Three Commitments To Your One Thing

  1. Follow the path of mastery
    To be extraordinary, you will have to become a master. The path to becoming a master is to continue learning and blocking out time every day to do the ONE thing.
  2. Move from “E” to “P”
    E stands for an entrepreneurial approach when people think that the grass is greener on the other side. P stands for a purposeful approach. The E model has a set ceiling where you cannot breakthrough because the limit was set on your natural ability. However, the P model is to break through the by opening to new thinking, or skill. 
  3. Live the accountability cycle
    Once you have written down your goals, share it with your friend, mentor, or coach. By updating your process to someone weekly, you increase your chance of completing it. 

The Four Thieves of Productivity 

  1. Inability to say ‘NO’
    Saying Yes to everything it also meant you are saying no to everything else (including your ONE thing). Therefore, you need to learn how to say no by reflecting people to a different resource or another time outside your blocked time.
  2. Fear of chaos
    When you are focusing on your ONE thing, other areas will be affected and become more clutter because things will move to the back burner. Make peace with it. By completing your ONE thing, you will prove that you are on the right path.
  3. Poor health habits
    NEVER trade your health. Eat, sleep, and exercise. Only with a healthy body will you be able to have the energy to pursue your ONE thing.
  4. The environment doesn’t support your goals.
    Living in a place that doesn’t support your goal is toxic. It’s like walking through a candy bar store when you are on a diet. Therefore, find a place that would support and lift you up.

Review

I found myself writing a lot of tasks but I always choose the easiest thing on the list to complete first. It makes me feel a sense of accomplishment. However, at the end of the day, I felt tired of doing so many things but didn’t move far. I completely agree with creating a success list rather than a to-do list.

When doing an important task, it is important to focus on one item at a time. This hit a home run for me. At work, I would spend 10 minutes reading emails but before I can reply to the email someone is pinging me on chat. When I switched my focus to answer the chat, I completely forgot what my response was to the email. Again, I had to spend more time to read my email. Now, I’m practicing on completing the task at hand first before moving on. 

The thinking big section in the book reminds me that to aim for the moon and if you fail you would still be among the stars. 

Overall, the book is easy to understand and provides steps that I can implement in my daily life. I recommend anyone who is “too busy” or need direction in their life to working toward that ONE thing to read this book. 

New article post Book Review: The ONE Thing By Keller Gary appeared first on We on Fire - Our FIRE Journey.


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