Homeownership for Veterans:
An Actionable Guide to Achieving Your Dream Home
Are you a veteran dreaming of owning your own home? Achieving that dream is within reach with the right strategies and guidance. In this article, we'll arm you with invaluable tips to make homeownership a reality. From financial preparedness to the ins and outs of VA loans, the following article shared with you by The National Veterans Chamber has you covered.
Invite your Friends and Family
It is smart Not to go alone on your first home purchase. The new trend is to invite Friends and Family to be a part of your journey. The program allows for for you to maintain 100% ownership, your friends and family may participate as investors sharing with you the home increased value (equity). It makes purchasing a home easier, and with little to no upfront cost for you. Take a look at the Real Property Fund Program for friends and family.
Start Saving Money ASAP
Initiating a savings plan is the cornerstone of your homeownership journey. Although VA Home Loans often require no down payment, having extra funds gives you a safety net and strengthens your bargaining power. Set aside money specifically for a down payment and closing costs, as these are typically the most immediate financial hurdles in the home buying process
Preapproval for VA Home Loan
Securing preapproval for a VA Home Loan is a pivotal step before house hunting. Being preapproved signals to sellers that you are a serious buyer and can actually afford their property. It also helps you establish a price range that you should stick to, ensuring you only look at homes within your financial reach.
Consider Investing in a Home Warranty
A comprehensive home warranty is a valuable investment, as it can be a financial lifesaver when unexpected repairs arise. Unlike homeowners’ insurance, which typically covers damages from natural disasters or accidents, a home warranty steps in to address appliance and system failures, filling a significant coverage gap. With a home warranty in place, you can enjoy peace of mind, knowing that potential costly repairs are safeguarded. Click for info on how to select the right home warranty plan for your specific needs.
Experienced Real Estate Agent
The right real estate agent is worth their weight in gold. Choose someone who specializes in VA loans and has experience working with veterans. An experienced agent can help navigate the complexities of VA loans, guide you to suitable properties, and ensure that you avoid common pitfalls.
Check and Improve Your Credit Score
Your credit score plays a vital role in the type of mortgage you can secure. Periodically check your credit report for inaccuracies that could hurt your score. If your credit needs improvement, consider delaying your home purchase while you work to raise your score. Higher credit usually translates into better loan terms.
How Much Can You Afford?
Knowing how much home you can afford is essential to a successful buying process. Establish a budget that considers not just the mortgage payments but also property taxes, insurance, and ongoing maintenance. Use mortgage calculators and consult with financial advisors to get a clear picture.
Consider Property Taxes
Property taxes can be a hidden budget-breaker in homeownership. These taxes can fluctuate greatly depending on the area, so researching beforehand is crucial. Consider the annual property tax rate when determining whether a home is truly affordable, and factor these costs into your long-term budget.
Shop for the Best Mortgage Terms
Never settle for the first loan offer that comes your way. Shopping around with different mortgage lenders could save you thousands of dollars over the life of your loan. Take the time to compare interest rates, loan terms, and potential fees to ensure you're getting the best deal possible.
By adhering to the tips outlined in this guide, you'll be well-positioned to make informed decisions and successfully navigate the complexities of homeownership. Preparation, due diligence, and making well-informed choices are your keys to owning the home you've always desired. If you have questions about Home Ownership, contact a Housing for Heroes Agent –
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Veterans Can Utilize These Tips to Reduce Stress When Starting a Business
Reducing stress as an entrepreneur can often seem like an impossible task, whether you’re trying to launch your business or find ways to grow it. At any given time, you might have a laundry list of things to take care of while also managing your finances, keeping your customers happy, and ensuring that your team of employees is well taken care of, all of which make it very difficult to focus on your own needs.
While you may not be able to cut stress completely out of your life, there are some simple things you can try that will make your days a bit easier. Not only that, but there are also several resources available right now for veterans that provide access to tools, educational opportunities, and connections that make running a business a breeze. Take a look at The National Veterans Chamber for more information, and utilize a few of these strategies to banish stress and anxiety as you get your business going.
Utilize business cards to make life easier
Business cards have plenty of benefits for business owners, including providing an easy way to make new connections. But they’re useful for more than networking; they can also help you reach out and find new hires that can come in and take over a few tasks for you. Many business owners try to do everything themselves, and while this often feels productive and hands-on, it can actually be detrimental to your well-being and can even lead to burnout. Delegating is a great way to take some of the burden off your shoulders, and you can start by being prepared with a memorable business card. Use a template to create your own business card design with your choice of colors, fonts, and images so you can make a great impression on potential hires.
Simplify your business with the right structure
Delegation is a smart way to reduce stress, but you can also look for resources that will make life easier as you continue to grow your business. Choosing the right business structure can do more than provide tax benefits, although that’s one great advantage; it can also provide flexibility and help you simplify your daily operations while keeping your personal assets safe. Most small business owners choose an LLC, which is easy to form either on your own or through a formation service. Every state has its own rules about formation, however, so read up on the steps in your area and get familiar with the regulations so you can ensure all the paperwork is done correctly.
Set some boundaries
No matter what kind of business you own–or where you run it–setting boundaries is crucial if you want to find work/life balance. This might mean making it clear to your team that your work calls will only be taken during certain hours or setting up a home office that gives you privacy so you can stay focused and productive. Remember that setting limits and boundaries is especially important for entrepreneurs who work from home because it draws a line in the sand where your responsibilities are concerned; otherwise, you may find yourself working way more than you’d like.
Learn to say “no” sometimes
Along those same lines, learning to say “no” when you don’t have the time or energy for a certain task is important. There are ways to decline that are diplomatic, which means you can feel secure in voicing your needs. Sticking to a schedule and constantly assessing your goals will allow you to figure out which tasks are right for you and which ones are best left delegated to someone else.
Running a business is a big job and keeping stress at bay can sometimes feel like a challenge. However, by utilizing resources like a great business card and the right business structure, you can take some of the weight off your shoulders as you work toward your goals.
Contribution by Lucy Reed (Photo via Pexels)
Business Owners Should Be Utilizing These Methods For Success
Running a successful business requires the careful management of many different aspects, from effective communication to knowledge of the latest technology, and these practices can ensure that both your customers and your employees are happy. When you’re able to remain organized and follow a solid business plan, it’s much easier to meet your goals and facilitate growth, which is why it’s a good idea to take a look at your methods as an entrepreneur and constantly refine them. Here are a few areas you can look at and consider changing as a business owner.
Your business structure
When it comes to ensuring efficiency and protecting your business, the right structure can go a long way. If you haven’t registered your business with the state yet, consider forming an LLC, which can keep your personal assets safe from liability while providing tax benefits. Working with an online formation service will ensure quick formation and support throughout the entire process, but every state has its own steps to take, so read up on the rules for starting an LLC. This will help you gather the right paperwork and handle the required tasks–such as naming a registered agent or creating an operating agreement–in a timely manner.
Your online tools
Just as it’s important to know how to protect your business, it’s crucial to understand the importance of working with outside help to get things done, from freelancers to online tools that will make a job easier. Many small business owners utilize graphic designers, IT professionals, and marketing experts to assist with various projects, which can save both time and money while ensuring that the job is done correctly.
As a small business owner, you may be wondering if marketing your business on social media is worth your time. After all, there are so many options out there, and it can be tough to know where to start. But one thing is for sure: if you're not on social media, you're missing out on a huge opportunity to reach new customers.
One of the most effective ways to market your business on social media is by using memes. Memes are funny pictures or videos that typically have textual overlays, and they often go viral. They're incredibly shareable and help you to connect with your audience on a more personal level. You can create an eye-catching meme using a free meme maker. Choose a template and then adjust the color scheme, images, alignment, and text.
Your tech knowledge
As an entrepreneur, it’s up to you to remain up-to-date about the latest tech in your industry, whether that’s online tools that make projects easier or security software that keeps your most sensitive data safe. Not only that, it’s essential to make sure that the tech you invest in for your business is the best type for your needs, and that it’s updated periodically since technology is always evolving. Creating a well-thought-out training program for your employees is also important since your tools won’t be worth much without the knowledge of how to use them.
Whether you’re training them on tech tools or rewarding them for a job well done, the way you manage your employees is a major aspect of your business’s success and continued growth. Creating an atmosphere that values open communication, recognizing hard work, providing the tools they need to do their job well, and offering support are just a few of the ways you can ensure that your employees feel like they’re part of a team. In doing so, you’ll create benefits for yourself that include a low turnover rate and a better customer experience.
Running a business is hard work, but by implementing the right applications and using the best tools for daily operations, you can take your company to the next level. Look for free online tools, which will help you save money even as you simplify things.
The National Veterans Chamber is committed to helping our military and veteran communities thrive. Learn more!
Contributor: Lucy Reed
Photo via Pexels
Using Innovative Employee Benefits
The International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans notes that employers are getting creative by developing new benefits to keep employees happy and healthy and attract new talent. As baby boomers continue to retire, organizations need to recruit highly qualified people to fill vital roles.
Providing enhanced benefits can help an organization's bottom line by creating goodwill within the workforce, which can result in better customer service and higher productivity. So here are a few popular incentive ideas, presented to you by The National Veterans Chamber.
Coaching and Mentorship
Mentoring can be beneficial in helping entry-level employees learn their roles and develop their skills. Additionally, it assists long-term workers who are moving to new positions. The process encourages personal growth, builds strong leaders, and increases job satisfaction, enabling the organization to retain talent, cost-effectively manage knowledge transfer to new hires, and strengthen leadership within teams. After all, one of the biggest reasons for an inability to retain employees is a lack of opportunity to grow in their career.
On a related note, another great way to demonstrate appreciation for your employees is by helping them update their resumes to persuasively highlight their skills. You can also help them identify the skills they’ve learned during their time at your small business; for instance, if they’ve helped you update and maintain your company’s website, you can show them how to list these important accomplishments on their resumes. In addition to benefiting your employees professionally, this also improves their confidence and feelings of appreciation, which in turn can have a dramatic, positive impact on the work environment.
More companies have realized the benefits of helping employees pay for college. Employees have the chance to advance their careers, while employers can put that new knowledge to work for the business. By offering to help pay for college tuition, you’ll be showing your staff that professional development is important to your company, and you can engender a lot of good will and loyalty. Consider also promoting online colleges so your staff can more easily balance work and their personal lives when going back to school. For example, if people in your IT department want to pursue certifications, help them sign up for online classes and show them that you’re invested in their career with your company.
Empower a Remote Workforce
Today’s business environment has already embraced a remote workforce, so give employees as many remote work options as possible. This is very appealing to those who love to travel and want the freedom to work from anywhere. All they’ll need is a laptop, a cell phone, and a secure internet and/or satellite connection.
On-Site Fitness Classes
A growing number of organizations are offering on-site fitness classes as a benefit. As Corporate Wellness magazine points out, this supports the organization's culture and encourages healthy lifestyles, reduces absenteeism due to illness, improves team communication and productivity, and builds company pride by giving employees a shared experience that brings people together.
Improved Work Environment
Offering free healthy snacks in the break area can make employees happier. Healthy snacks are better for them than candy or microwaveable meals. The organization benefits because healthier workers take fewer sick days, require less medical insurance coverage, produce higher quality work, have decreased absenteeism rates, and have higher morale.
But healthy snacks are just the beginning. There’s plenty more you can do to improve the work environment, from comfortable chairs to giving your employees the tools they need to do their jobs more easily. For instance, if you have to spend a lot of time working with PDFs – and most businesses do – encourage those in your office to use a PDF editor rather than starting from scratch after every correction.
On-Site Mental Health Support
Employers are considering various ways to provide mental health support in the workplace. This can be a considerable asset in raising awareness, destigmatizing mental illness, and encouraging people from all walks of life to feel comfortable opening up about their conditions. Employees have access to an intellectually safe environment for sharing their challenges without fear of being judged or ridiculed, which leads to increased productivity and more substantial retention rates.
More employers are offering childcare support to help recruit and retain talented employees. This can be a strong differentiator when trying to compete with other companies. In today's highly competitive job market, employees have many choices for employment and can be selective about which companies get their time and expertise.
Providing childcare support is a huge draw because it allows parents to feel comfortable with their youngest family members being left in the care of trained professionals.
Pets make humans happier and healthier. Studies show that spending time with furry friends increases morale, alleviates stress and anxiety, improves blood pressure and heart rate, speeds up recovery from illness or injury, reduces loneliness, and encourages physical activity. Organizations that offer pet-friendly office areas benefit because they demonstrate a willingness to accommodate a broad range of employee needs, build camaraderie among the workforce, and improve employee retention.
Employee Satisfaction Surveys
Many companies conduct an employee satisfaction survey each year to give employers the necessary information to implement changes and keep employees happy. These anonymous reviews are ideal for measuring how employees feel about specific programs and acquiring ideas for new incentives.
Employers are moving past basic health care and retirement packages to keep employees. Improve retention and happiness with innovative incentives and watch your employees’ satisfaction – and your business – grow by leaps and bounds!
Article provided by: Lucy Reed
Image: unplash, Naassom Azevedo
Tips for Veteran Entrepreneurs
Running a business is not for the faint-hearted. In fact, you have to have a lot of grit to keep pushing on - a quality that veterans have in spades. So, if you’ve served before and desire a change of career path, learn how to set up a new company. Here are a few key points to focus on, courtesy of The National Veterans Chamber.
Start with a business idea
All successful businesses start with a great business idea. So, if you’re stuck on deciding what it is you should do, then sifting through business ideas that interest you is a great place to start. Of course, you also need to have the skillset and capabilities to follow through with your idea (or at least intend on upskilling yourself in those areas that you need to).
Create a business plan with content marketing in mind This is also one of the major components of preparing to start a business. Furthermore, a business plan should be pretty comprehensive and should cover the major aspects of your business from beginning to end. Of the details you’ll need to cover, your business plan should include an executive summary that gives an overview of what your business does, a description of your products or services, what your financials look like, and whether you’ll need to apply for financial assistance such as a low-interest loan, or a special grant, etc.
Also, WeWork points out that your business plan will also need to include a marketing plan, detail what the structure of your business will be, what your financial plan is, and more. When it comes to marketing, content is king. Content marketing incorporates writing and messaging that is appealing to your audience, which in the end should lead to business growth. Reference online resources like Cornerstone Content to help you learn what you need to know about this important aspect of advertising and branding.
Register your business Once you have determined what it is you want to do, you’ll then need to go about registering your business. Of course, as BrandBucket notes, you’ll need to decide on a catchy name for your new venture that speaks of what you do. Then you’ll need to file your business correctly according to the company structure you’ve chosen. In most cases, you’ll need to apply for an Employer Identification Number for tax purposes. And then you can apply for any licenses or permits you may require in order to get started.
Get the funding you need to get started Perhaps, a lack of finances is what’s holding you back when it comes to starting your dream business venture. If so, there are many ways you can get access to funding as a veteran that include:
Crowdfunding Crowdfunding usually involves creating a campaign and rallying people together to support your idea through financial contributions. Crowdfunding works well if you have a really niche product or service that can get the crowd talking.
Loans Otherwise, you can go the loan route. Here, you could look for organizations like the Veterans Business Fund that are able to lend more readily to veterans looking to start their business journey. You’ll want to make sure your credit is in good standing, as this will help your chances for securing funding. If you have a large debt burden, do your best to reduce it, and check your credit report to know where your credit score stands – all this will provide you with the knowledge you’ll need when approaching a lender. You can download a free credit report by visiting AnnualCreditReport.com.
Grants are another way to get the money you need and, in most cases, you don’t even have to pay it back. Organizations such as Warrior Rising Veteran Grants and Idea Café Grants are just some of the organizations that back veterans financially in their pursuit to reach their business goals.
Other business resources you might find helpful
If you’re planning on working as a contractor for the government, then you could look at the Veteran’s Institute for Procurement and The System for Award Management, as well as the National Veteran Small Business Coalition for more helpful resources in this area. Planning on furthering your education in basic business skills? Then Boots to Business and V-WISE should be able to provide further insight in this area. And then, if you’re looking for support networks to help your business grow from strength to strength, then SCORE and Vets In Tech are great choices to start with.
Starting a business with the knowledge and expertise you have as a veteran could end up giving you the upper edge you need to soar above your competitors and make a real success of it. Remember to start with a feasible business idea, draft a business plan that includes content marketing, and research all the available funding sources to get you up and running.
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The National Veterans Chamber brings together programs, projects, organizations, people, and resources to the military/veteran community. Contact us today for more information! firstname.lastname@example.org
5 Ways to Plan for a Fantastic