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December
6

 

 

Buying your dream home should be one of the most joyful events, and Idaho Central wants it to be that way. Although buying a home can be stressful at times, especially when it comes to the expenses that come along with it, taking the time to budget for a new home can save you from some of the stress, making buying your dream home a dream experience as well! So, how do you budget for a new home?

Calculate household income after tax

When you're considering buying a new home, it's important to calculate your household income after taxes first. Calculating your household income after taxes is the first step to not only budget for your dream home, but also for your day-to-day budget. Experts recommend that your cost for housing should account for no more than 25% of your monthly budget. Taking your household income after tax into consideration will help you determine just how much home you can afford, and give you a starting point to create your savings plan.

Calculate household expenses

After you calculate your household income after taxes, it's time to calculate your expenses. Expenses include savings, food, utilities, transportation, health, recreation, personal spending, charitable donations, and more. While experts recommend 25% of household income for your housing expenses, it also needs to make sense with your other expenses. Setting up a budget can help you have a good grasp of what you typically spend each month, and what you can really afford for a mortgage payment.

Save for a deposit to avoid PMI

Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) is often required for mortgages that have less than a 20% down payment. PMI typically costs between 0.5% and 1% of the entire loan amount. If you are able to save for a down payment that allows you to avoid PMI, it will save you on a monthly basis. Avoiding PMI helps lower the monthly payment on your mortgage, so you'll have more room in your budget for expenses or to put into savings.

Determine what you can afford

After calculating your income, budgeting for all of your monthly expenses, and following the 25% guideline, you will have a good idea of how much you can afford in a monthly payment. For example, if your monthly income after taxes is $1,000, you can afford $250 in monthly housing expenses. You can also use our Mortgage Qualifier Calculator to calculate how much of a purchase price you can afford based on your monthly payment. In addition to these resources, it is important to remember that housing expenses include more than just the mortgage payment. It also includes taxes, homeowner's insurance, maintenance costs, homeowner's association fees, and so forth. For example, if you can afford a $1,000 monthly housing payment, $850 might be for your mortgage (including principal, taxes, and insurance), $50 might be for your homeowner's association fee (HOA), and $100 might be for any maintenance costs. Your realtor and loan officer will be able to assist you with this information as you shop for your dream home.

Get pre-approved

While these are some general tips on how to help you budget for your dream home, it's still important to get officially pre-approved and see how much of a loan you are able to qualify for. By getting pre-approved, you will know how much you can afford and are approved for based on your actual financial situation, and you'll be able to consider homes within that range.

Check your dream home

It's important to remember to do your due diligence and investigate your new home. This includes hiring an appraiser and a home inspector. An appraiser will determine the value of the home and ensure that you are not paying more than it is worth. A home inspector will ensure that the foundation is sound, AC and furnace systems are functioning properly, and that the roof is safe. Some might even give you an estimated life expectancy. For example, if the inspection report shows that your roof has the potential of leaking very soon, it's important to negotiate your purchase price so you can afford to get the roof replaced or require that it is repaired before you close on the home.

Using these tips can help give you confidence in navigating the process of purchasing your dream home while making it simpler for you. Happy house hunting!

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We understand that no two paths to buying a home are the same. Whether you're a first-time homebuyer or a seasoned real estate mogul, we have a variety of products and loans designed specifically to meet your needs. We offer local underwriting and fast approvals to save you time and money. We have options for down payments and additional resources like our Finally Home! online program to help guide you through the home-buying process.

Contact one of our home loan specialists to discuss your options - and find out about our first-time homebuyer programs - today!

 

December
5

Idaho Ice World

Whether you want to satisfy your competitive spirit or just enjoy some pleasant exercise, Idaho Ice World is a skating facility to accommodate anyone. When our real estate agents want some quality ice time, these are their favorite activities.

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December
1

DOERS OF GOOD: I Am Zambia

"Just as ripples spread out when a single pebble is dropped into water, the actions of individuals can have far-reaching effects." – The Dali Lama

This is a story about two moms, their mission trips to Zambia with Mothers Without Borders, and the realization that more needed to be done to help stop the generational poverty they witnessed. I Am Zambia was co-founded by Diane Terry and Heidi Kiene who, during their visits to Lusaka, Zambia in south-central Africa, learned that adolescent girls are among the most vulnerable groups in Zambia. As females, they are often denied education and can be forced into child marriage, exploitation, and trafficking.

These two brave moms knew something more needed to be done, and I Am Zambia was created in 2015. With the ambitious goal of empowering vulnerable youth and young women in and around Lusaka, the 501(c)3 organization strives to educate, provide job training, spearhead community sustainability projects, and much more. 

When CBT Realtor® Karen Emerson met Diane and Heidi, she was in awe of what the women and their supporters have accomplished in such a short time. She knew she had to help where she could.

 "When I found out that women in this region often travel over three hours a day to bring water to the village for their families and that they are regularly denied an education, I knew I wanted to help," Karen explains. "This organization is helping through a multitude of efforts, but just teaching self-care to women in the village is a huge start."

 In the short time since its beginning, the non-profit has built a nationally accredited girls' business/entrepreneurship school focusing on job-skills and vocational training under the direction of the Zambian Ministry of Education TEVETA (Technical Education, Vocational and Entrepreneurship Training Authority) program. Their first graduating class of 2022 had 55 students enrolled in four disciplines: food production, fashion and design, cosmetology, and computers/technology. 

Since 2017, IAZ has opened a rural primary school emphasizing literacy for young Zambians, built a medical clinic that serves 17 villages and 25,000 people, opened a restaurant so the girls can continue their learning, built a 3-classroom block, started garden projects, and installed water projects to serve the clinic, the school, and over a thousand people in the surrounding area. They see themselves as a holistic organization, meaning that, although education is their primary focus, ensuring clean water and basic medical care are available helps with their educational endeavors. Everyone learns better when their basic needs are met.

When asked how they've accomplished so much in such a short time, co-founder Heidi explains, "Our U.S.-based administrative staff are all non-salaried volunteers. This allows our donation dollars to go directly to the programs in Zambia. A donation to our program is an investment in an organization that provides not only hope, but successful outcomes for some of the most vulnerable folks on the planet."

Karen loves sharing the message and encourages donations. "Such a small amount of money can change the lives of so many," she says.

To find out more about I Am Zambia and how you can help, please visit iamzambia.org.

*****

Join us in celebrating our Doers of Good by getting involved in one of the programs we have featured over the last year or tell us in the comments below about what lights your fire when it comes to making our communities better.

November
21

Downtown Meridian

The festive season is on its way, and downtown Meridian is ready to celebrate. Our real estate agents love working in this city thanks to all of the exciting holiday events. There are plenty of these to look forward to in 2022. Here are just a few of the highlights! 

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November
14

Decorate Safely This Holiday Season

Delta Media Group


Decorating for the holidays is one of the fun perks of being a homeowner, because your whole property becomes a blank canvas. Decorating is a great opportunity to get in the spirit of the season, show off your sense of style, and get your kids (even more) excited for the holidays. No matter how you choose to decorate your home this holiday season, just remember that it's also important to keep home safety in mind as you deck the halls. We've put together 5 decorating tips to help keep your home safe, without cramping your holiday decorating style.

  1. Check It Twice – Holiday lights are among the most popular decorations, and for good reason! They're bright, beautiful, and can transform the look of your entire property. Before you start stringing up those lights, however, be sure to check for any signs of wear. If there are broken lights or exposed wires, it's time to purchase some new outdoor holiday lights. Remember that outdoor lights are exposed to the elements, so even minimal signs of wear can pose a risk.  Bonus Tip: If you're in the market for new lights, try LED lighting rather than incandescent bulbs. LED lights are more energy efficient, burn cooler than incandescent bulbs, and come in just about any color you can imagine.

  2. Don't Overload Outlets – Overloading a single outlet is a fire risk, even if you're plugging in new, energy efficient decorations. Avoiding tangled wires is also good for holiday decorating safety, and it's easier to do when you use multiple outlets. Always plug decorations into outlets with Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters, which are designed to shut down the circuit automatically if certain signs of electrical danger are detected.

  3. Indoor/Outdoor – That giant, inflatable Santa Claus won't fit in your living room, so it's probably a safe bet that he can be used outside. But not every decoration makes the distinction so clear. For any decorations that rely on electricity, always check whether they're rated for outdoor use before you plug them in outside. This is a great step to take care of while you're shopping for decorations, as the necessary info should be available right on the packaging.

  4. Rooftop and Ladder Safety – For many homeowners, the holiday season is one of the few times each year when we take our ladders out of long-term storage and venture onto our rooftops. Stay safe by taking your time, having a plan, and wearing sturdy boots (or sneakers) with strong treads. If you do plan on climbing on your roof or using a ladder to decorate, never do so alone. Make sure there's someone on the ground to "spot" you and aid if you run into trouble.

  5. Clean Gutters – Since you're likely to be spending time up there anyway, it's a great idea to clean your gutters before stringing up any holiday lights. Dried leaves and plant matter in gutters can serve as kindling when a faulty wire leaks electricity. As a bonus, keeping your gutters clean is a great way to lower your risk of water-related roof damage throughout the year.

The biggest thing to remember for holiday decorating home safety is that electricity can be dangerous, especially if you're using older decorations. Check any decorations for signs of wear before putting them up, make sure that any decorations you wish to use outside are rated for outdoor use, and keep your gutters clean to reduce fire risk. And of course, don't forget to have fun!

November
12

 

 

'Tis the Season to Celebrate!

With the holiday season right around the corner, there's no reason your business shouldn't be in on the fun. Whether it's with your employees or the community, here are a few ideas for your business to celebrate the holidays:

Holiday Party

There is nothing more straight-forward than a holiday party. Host a staff holiday party or sponsor a holiday event within your community. Bring on the food, holiday music, and enjoy seeing everyone have fun together! A holiday party can boost employee morale and offers an opportunity to show your appreciation as an employer.

Volunteer

Volunteering and serving those in need makes the holidays even more meaningful. Take advantage of the opportunity to serve your community! Not only will this benefit your community, but it will also benefit your business by helping build meaningful relationships between your employees, business, and community.

Give away free samples and swag

'Tis the season to give! Give a gift that will also give back to your business! Choose products that are popular and useful, and then brand them with your logo and color scheme. Giving away free samples and swag can be the perfect way to spread holiday cheer while also promoting your brand.

Offer gift cards

Everybody loves gift cards! Make holiday shopping easy on your customer by providing a simple, easy way to purchase gift cards from your business. Giving a gift card is a great way to show you care, while also ensuring the recipient gets exactly what they want!

Host a giveaway or contest on social media 

Social media is a great way to engage your current customers and attract new ones. Hold a contest or give away a product or service related to your business. There are a lot of different ways you can structure your contest or giveaway, including comment to win, hashtags, or photo contests. Make sure to check that your contest is in compliance with social media contest rules, as they can vary by channel.

We hope you enjoy these tips on how to celebrate the holidays as an organization. Happy Holidays from all of us at Idaho Central Credit Union!

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We understand that no two paths to buying a home are the same. Whether you're a first-time homebuyer or a seasoned real estate mogul, we have a variety of products and loans designed specifically to meet your needs. We offer local underwriting and fast approvals to save you time and money. We have options for down payments and additional resources like our Finally Home! online program to help guide you through the home-buying process. Contact one of our home loan specialists to discuss your options today!

 

November
11

DOERS OF GOOD: Advocates Against Family Violence

For Realtors® and staff at Coldwell Banker Tomlinson, November means more than the start of the holiday season. For the past 29 years, this month has also meant an opportunity to participate in the company's annual Turkey Tuesday, a fun bowling tournament and fundraiser for a local charity or nonprofit. Past recipients have included food pantries, children's foster programs, and animal rescues. Coming together to serve is a cornerstone in CBT's foundation.

We are proud this year to support Advocates Against Family Violence (AAFV) and our November Doer of Good, CBT Realtor® Johnel Nunes. As a volunteer and financial contributor for over five years, Johnel was introduced to the organization by her son Nathan, who was serving as a board member.

"I believe there is such a profound need for women and children to have a safe place to go in their times of need," says Johnel. "Too many women stay in abusive situations because they have no safe place to go."

Indeed, in 2020, in Ada County alone, there were over 5,500 calls to 911 related to domestic abuse, sexual assault, and child abuse. (Stats from Ada County Sheriff's Office, 2021.) AAFV works to eliminate domestic abuse by helping individuals make positive life changes through counseling, adult and teen outreach, court advocacy, affordable housing, emergency shelter services, and community involvement. Help is available in Ada and Canyon Counties, as well as throughout other parts of the state.

Johnel explains, "There are many women who have transferred from an emergency shelter into homes, giving them new opportunities, not only to grow as a family, but to grow as independent individuals."

AAFV is a nonprofit, 501(c)(3), supported by grants, foundations, and individuals who have invested in their mission. Individuals are welcome to learn more about Advocates Against Family Violence and ways to help by visiting their website, www.aafvhope.org, or by joining them on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. They are happy to have those interested attend AAFV In Action to learn more.

"We all go through storms in our lives," Johnel says, "and sometimes we just need the support to muster the strength it takes to heal and prevail."

*****

Check back in at the end of the month for some photos of our Turkey Tuesday event and to find out how much we've raised for AAFV so far!

Join us in celebrating our Doers of Good by getting involved in one of the programs we will spotlight over the next several months or tell us in the comments below about what lights your fire when it comes to making our communities better. 

November
10

BEST-EVER PUMPKIN SOUP 

'Tis the season to warm your body and soul with hearty comfort foods. Nothing says autumn more than a pot of wonderful, homemade soup simmering on the stove. Give this seasonal favorite a try. Pumpkin isn't just for lattes!  We think you're bound to love this soup. 

INGREDIENTS 

  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 2 cups pumpkin puree
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • ½ tsp. fresh thyme, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ tsp. freshly ground ginger
  • ¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
  • tsp. ground nutmeg
  • ½ cup heavy whipping cream
  • 4 pieces cooked bacon, chopped (optional)
  • Sour cream or plain Greek yogurt (optional)
  • Roasted pumpkin seeds (optional)
  • Chopped green onion (optional)

In large pot, combine the first 8 ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes, uncovered. Using a food processor or blender, puree soup in small batches. Return soup to pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for another 30 minutes, uncovered. Remove from heat and stir in heavy cream. Pour into bowls and garnish with as many toppings as desired.

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