How to Build Generational Wealth Through Homeownership

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One of the time-honored ways to build wealth and financial stability is by buying real estate. Properties typically appreciate over time and may provide cash flow as well.

Owning your own home not only gives you a great place to live, but it will likely turn out to be a good investment, one that can help build generational wealth for your family.

What Is Considered Generational Wealth?

Generational wealth refers to assets passed on from one generation to another within the same family. Assets is a broad term that includes cash; stocks, bonds and other securities; a family business; and real estate, including the family home.

Because of the high rates of appreciation in the past several decades, real estate can be one of the most valuable assets passed down from one generation to another.

How Does Homeownership Build Wealth?

Homeownership can help build wealth directly through price appreciation. When the value of a home rises, owners are able to sell for that higher price, sometimes moving into a new, larger home. For homeowners who aren’t selling, price appreciation adds to their home equity and overall financial assets.

Of course, if home values decline, as they did in the 2007-2009 Great Recession, the opposite can happen and owners may find they owe more than the home is worth. But real estate has proved to be one of the most reliable assets in the long term.

The bottom line: A person’s home is often their largest financial asset, the benefits of which are often passed on to the next generation.

If you’re just getting started, know that a first-time homebuyer can be anyone who has not owned a principal residence in the past three years, some single parents, and others. The prospective purchasers can often get assistance (such as low or no down payment) as they progress towards buying their first property. Programs such as these can be a stepping stone to building generational wealth.

Direct and Indirect Building of Wealth

Next, consider different ways of building wealth over the generations.

Inheritance

Inheriting appreciated capital assets like real estate, stocks, bonds, ETFs, or a small business can have a big tax benefit, thanks to the “step-up in basis.” The value of the inherited asset is “stepped up” to the fair market value on the date the original owner dies.

If the heir sells the property, the step-up in basis will greatly reduce capital gains taxes due or make them moot if there is no gain. Any capital gain from the sale of inherited property is considered long-term. Current long-term capital gains taxes are 0%, 15%, or 20%, depending on your income and filing status.

For married couples, the death of one spouse results in a partial step-up in most states, but here’s a simplified example. Let’s say you inherit your grandmother’s home, purchased in 1940 for $10,000. The home is valued at $450,000 on the date of her death, which is the stepped-up basis. If you sell the home for $450,000, you’ll pay no capital gains tax. If you sell for a higher sum, capital gains tax will apply only to the amount over $450,000.

Imagine using the stepped-up basis provision over more than one generation of a family. An heir could sell a phenomenally appreciated asset and pay a minimal amount in capital gains tax or none at all on their inheritance, as long as the asset was included in the decedent’s estate.

Indirect Benefits

Heirs of homeowners may well inherit the actual real estate, but generational wealth can also be more indirect. Consider these points:

  • Homeowners are often more financially secure than renters, passing that security on to children.
  • Homeowners are able to borrow against the equity to improve the home (and often boost its value) or take care of other financial needs.
  • Many homeowners are located in districts with high-performing schools, enhancing overall opportunities for their children.
  • Down the line, the equity in a home can help finance retirement and health care needs, shielding adult children from that financial burden.

All of these factors can positively affect the next generation and add to their wealth.

How Discrimination Can Affect Generational Wealth

When housing discrimination occurs, it can keep people of color, women, and families with children, immigrants, and people with disabilities from living in the place they want. Importantly, it can also have a serious impact on generational wealth.

Considering the following statistics from the Fed for the fourth quarter of 2023:

The homeownership rate for non-Hispanic white households overwhelmingly led the pack, at 73.8%. Asian, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander families came a distant second, at 63%. Hispanic families of any race had only a 49.8% homeownership rate, and African American households logged in at 45.9%.

A number of factors have contributed to the race gap in homeownership; not the least is the legacy of race-based discrimination in the housing market.

When homeownership lags among a certain group because of housing discrimination, so does the possibility for generational wealth.

Understanding Home Appreciation and Home Equity

To understand how homeownership can build wealth, it’s important to understand the concepts of home appreciation rates and home equity. These are some key points:

  • The increase in the value of a home over time is known as appreciation or the appreciation rate.
  • Home equity is the property value minus the outstanding balance of mortgages, liens, or other debt on the property.
  • Your first contribution to home equity is your down payment.
  • Every time you make a monthly mortgage payment, you are paying down the amount you owe and slowly paying part of the principal on your loan, which builds equity.
  • Price appreciation and home improvements can also add to home equity.

Most people purchase real estate with the expectation that their home will increase in value over time. But many things come into play when it comes to home appreciation and the amount of home equity you can build. Some you can control and some you can’t.

The Economy

Housing prices can be affected by several economic indicators. When a recession hits, unemployment rises, or inflation jumps, the real estate market often declines.

Interest rates are also vitally important. Low mortgage interest rates can fuel demand, which can increase home prices in many areas. Conversely, a rise in mortgage rates can have a cooling effect on buyer demand.

The correlation between the housing markets and the rest of the economy can be surprising at times. For instance, during the initial stages of the pandemic, when economic indicators were showing signs of trouble, the nation saw a giant rise in home prices. This was particularly true in rural and suburban areas as urban dwellers sought more space and fewer crowds.

Laws and Regulations

Federal legislation can have a big effect on the U.S. housing market. Government tax credits, deductions, and subsidies aimed at certain homeowners can fuel the housing markets.

Local policies and regulations can also affect housing appreciation. Local investments in infrastructure or new schools and parks can increase your home’s value. Local zoning laws can also have an effect, positive or negative.

Home Improvements

This encompasses everything from an extensive addition to a fresh coat of paint. All kinds of improvements can add to the resale value of your home and, importantly, enhance your life while you’re living there.

Whether you decide to remodel a kitchen, a bathroom, or a remodel a living room, updated appliances and décor and energy-efficient improvements are often valuable upgrades.

Is Homeownership a Smart Investment?

The answer to that question isn’t always straightforward. First, your home is the place where you live, of course, and hopefully you derive happiness from that. In that sense, the costs associated with your home and your mortgage payment can be considered living expenses, not necessarily an investment.

On the other hand, appreciation and home equity can be seen as the return on your investment in your home.

The sweet spot is often a combination of the two: a great place to live and a profitable investment.

Still, homeowners’ net worth far outpaces renters’. Every three years, the Federal Reserve issues the Survey of Consumer Finances, which compares the net worth of homeowners and renters. The latest report shows that homeowners had a median net worth of $396,200; renters, $10,400.

Keeping your expectations realistic can effectively put your home value into the context of your overall financial wellness and estate planning. To do that, you may need to keep in mind the total costs of owning and maintaining real estate. Too often, people subtract their purchase price from the expected sale price and figure the difference is the return on investment. But there are many more costs involved in homeownership.

To calculate your true return, you’ll want to add up the following:

  • Down payment
  • Closing costs
  • Mortgage points
  • Any mortgage insurance
  • Home maintenance expenses
  • Home improvements
  • Total mortgage payments
  • Taxes
  • Any homeowners association fees
  • Estimated selling costs (such as the real estate agent’s fees and staging charges).

That total is the number you want to compare against home appreciation to determine your actual return.

The Takeaway

How does homeownership build generational wealth? In direct and indirect ways. The real estate itself can likely grow in value, and the homeowner may enjoy such benefits as raising a family in a good school district. Buying real estate can build a foundation for a family today and for generations ahead.

This article originally appeared on SoFi.com and was syndicated by MediaFeed.org.


*SoFi requires Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) for conforming home loans with a loan-to-value (LTV) ratio greater than 80%. As little as 3% down payments are for qualifying first-time homebuyers only. 5% minimum applies to other borrowers. Other loan types may require different fees or insurance (e.g., VA funding fee, FHA Mortgage Insurance Premiums, etc.). Loan requirements may vary depending on your down payment amount, and minimum down payment varies by loan type.

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SoFi On-Time Close Guarantee: If all conditions of the Guarantee are met, and your loan does not close on or before the closing date on your purchase contract accepted by SoFi, and the delay is due to SoFi, SoFi will provide you $2,000.^ Terms and conditions apply. This Guarantee is available only for loan applications submitted after 6/15/22 for the purchase of a primary residence. Please discuss terms of this Guarantee with your loan officer. The property must be owner-occupied, single-family residence (no condos), and the loan amount must meet the Fannie Mae conventional guidelines. No bank-owned or short-sale transactions. To qualify for the Guarantee, you must: (1) Have employment income supported by W-2, (2) Receive written approval by SoFi for the loan and you lock the rate, (3) submit an executed purchase contract on an eligible property at least 30 days prior to the closing date in the purchase contract, (4) provide to SoFi (by upload) all required documentation within 24 hours of SoFi requesting your documentation and upload any follow-up required documents within 36 hours of the request, and (5) pay for and schedule an appraisal within 48 hours of the appraiser first contacting you by phone or email. The Guarantee will be void and not paid if any delays to closing are due to factors outside of SoFi control, including delays scheduling or completing the appraisal appointment, appraised value disputes, completing a property inspection, making repairs to the property by any party, addressing possible title defects, natural disasters, further negotiation of or changes to the purchase contract, changes to the loan terms, or changes in borrower’s eligibility for the loan (e.g., changes in credit profile or employment), or if property purchase does not occur. SoFi may change or terminate this offer at any time without notice to you. ^To redeem the Guarantee if conditions met, see documentation provided by loan officer.

Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

Tax Information: This article provides general background information only and is not intended to serve as legal or tax advice or as a substitute for legal counsel. You should consult your own attorney and/or tax advisor if you have a question requiring legal or tax advice.

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8 Essential Frugal Living Tips

8 Essential Frugal Living Tips

Living frugally means spending less than you earn; it can involve elements of simplicity and eco-friendliness.

You already know the advice about not signing up for every streaming platform under the sun and not having a fancy coffee every day. Fortunately, living a frugal life doesn’t have to feel like you must sacrifice your favorite things. By adopting some basic money-saving moves, you can stash cash without much effort.

Read on to learn eight easy tips that will help you streamline your spending and perhaps enjoy more peace of mind.

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Here are eight tips on how to be more frugal and save money — without giving up all the fun and the little rewards in your life.

1. Reform Fixed Expenses

Regardless of what specific items might appear on a budget, they all come in two general varieties: fixed expenses vs. variable expenses.

Fixed expenses are, as the name suggests, those bills that are fixed and consistent each month, such as rent, insurance payments, and student loans. Variable expenses, on the other hand, are those whose amounts aren’t fixed… but that doesn’t mean all variable expenses are optional (or “discretionary”). For example, your electric bill probably varies from month to month, but you still know you’re going to have to pay it.

Let’s hone in on those fixed expenses first, though — because cutting down on regular, consistent costs can lead to regular, consistent savings. There are a variety of ways to do this, some more radical than others.

For example, moving to a less expensive neighborhood or splitting bills with a roommate might cut your rent in half; deciding to forgo a car can eliminate not only the car payment and insurance cost, but also variable expenses like parking, maintenance, and gas. These kinds of global lifestyle changes can take a lot of effort to set up at the start. However, the payoff is months or years of significant savings without too much ongoing effort.

However, there are plenty of ways to cut fixed expenses without making such seismic shifts to daily life. For instance, switching to a less expensive cell phone carrier can lower the monthly burden, as can ditching a gym membership in favor of hiking or cutting back on streaming service subscriptions. (Even those low per-month amounts can really add up when there are three or four of them!)

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Groceries count as a variable expense, but they’re certainly not optional. That said, there’s an incredible margin for savings when it comes to stocking up on food each month.

So how to go about saving money on food and other grocery store items?

  • One easy way to start is to choose discount grocers and chains that are known for their low prices. Aldi, Lidl, Trader Joe’s and WinCo, for example, all have well-founded reputations for their frugal choices, particularly when compared to upscale grocery chains like Whole Foods. Shopping at a cheaper store can take some of the footwork out of saving; you may be able to spend less on the exact same grocery list. But it’s also possible to take the project even further.
  • Coupon clipping might not be the most glamorous activity, but those deals can create substantial savings, particularly for practiced couponers. These days, apps like Ibotta and Checkout 51 make it easy to score savings on the items you’re already shopping for.
  • Additionally, aiming to make cheaper meals can stretch each grocery store dollar even further. Relying on inexpensive staples like rice, which can be dressed up and filled out in many different ways, can help keep both bellies and wallets full.

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Buying things is one thing. But maintaining them is a whole ‘nother can of worms — and it can be a downright expensive one. For instance, going in for an oil change vs. doing it yourself can be a pricey undertaking. And calling in a plumber when the sink or toilet is clogged can be expensive compared with going into DIY mode.

All of which is to say: honing some handiness skills could easily help save money over the course of a lifetime. And thanks to the fact that we live in the digital age, it’s relatively easy to become a Jack or Jill of all trades. YouTube is full of free video tutorials that can walk you through everything from fixing a dishwasher that won’t drain to rotating your own tires.

Other high-cost services to consider DIYing: mani/pedis, facials, pet grooming, landscaping, moving, and more. Basically, anytime you could spend money on hiring a professional, think seriously about whether you actually need the help.

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While some events are worthy splurges — like a once-in-a-lifetime concert — it’s also important to consider all the free forms of entertainment at our fingertips. For example, your local library may offer streaming movies along with books and audiobooks (or try services connected to libraries, like Kanopy and Hoopla), and many museums offer cost-free admissions on specific days of the week or month.

Even the national parks offer free admission from time to time. Free national park entrance days vary slightly from year to year, but generally include the first day of National Park Week in late April and National Public Lands Day, which falls on the in late September, along with Veterans Day and the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr.

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Speaking of national parks: Travel is another big ticket item as far as discretionary expenses are concerned. Seeing the world can be enriching — and it doesn’t have to strip away all your riches, either.

Finding ways to be a frugal traveler, such as choosing budget-friendly destinations and scoring the cheapest flights possible, can mean saving money without sacrificing this major life experience. You might even try a home swap or being a house-sitter in a foreign country to make your journey as affordable as possible.

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The idea of reusing and recycling can go in many directions. It can mean buying a reusable water bottle and filling at home and at filling stations around town vs. buying pricey bottled water and contributing to the global single-use plastic problem.

It can mean offloading your gently used items (laptop, clothing, kitchenware) and making a little bit of spending money. It can mean also buying items from your local thrift shop or picking them up for free if you have a town swap spot.

Not only is this planet-friendly, but it can help your wallet, too.

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One good way to be frugal is to share the expenses of daily life. For instance, you might get a roommate or move in with a friend to take your rent down a notch. You and a friend might shop at warehouse clubs and split the mega sizes of food and enjoy the lower costs.

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It’s no secret that credit card debt is high-interest debt, and you likely don’t want to be wasting money on major interest charges. Follow your budget, and try to pay in cash or with your debit card whenever possible. Work hard to pay off your complete credit card bill every month so you don’t have snowballing interest.

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Need more encouragement and incentive to live frugally? Consider these upsides.

Eco-Friendly

When you live frugally, you often minimize waste. You plan your meals and don’t toss as many leftovers and unused ingredients as you would otherwise. You might walk rather than take an Uber. You might reuse shopping totes vs. paying for a bag every time you go shopping.

Save Money

Living frugally is all about saving cash. You can bring down such major costs as rent, food, utilities, and transportation when living this way.

You can also learn how to rein in your discretionary spending. Instead of spending a couple of hundred dollars on an arena rock-concert ticket, perhaps there’s great live local music at a town park or a local bar.

Pay Down Debt

When you live frugally, it can give you the means to pay down debt, especially the high-interest kind. That means more money is freed up to spend as you like and/or apply towards big-picture personal and financial goals.

Live on a Small Budget

Living frugally means you have a budget that is working and helping to keep your finances on track. You likely know your spending limits well, have a handle on your debt, and a clear plan to hit your longer-term goals. You don’t have loads of expenses and credit lines to wrangle. This can enhance your peace of mind.

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Frugal living can be sustainable over the long term. Learning how to stick to a modest budget can help you live more minimally and avoid lifestyle creep (when your expenses rise along with your salary over time). By not always upgrading to a bigger house, fancier car, or more lavish summer vacation, you can enjoy the balance and security of frugal living.

What Does Frugal Mean for Your Money?

Here’s another angle on how being frugal can impact your money:

  • Adopting frugal habits and creating a savings plan can be ways to improve your financial health. Cutting back on day-to-day living expenses can mean more money set aside for retirement as well as major life milestones, like owning a home or having a baby.
  • One of the most important first steps toward frugality is getting organized, financially speaking. Having a budget and tracking your finances are valuable moves. How often to monitor your bank accounts is a personal decision, but a couple of times a week can help you see how your money is coming in and going out.
  • Living frugally can also mean more money goes towards realizing your long-term financial goals and building wealth. Whether that means saving for a child’s college education or for retirement, by cutting back on spending now, you can help ensure a better future.

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Living frugally can be a way to trim your expenses, stay out of debt, and put more money towards your personal goals and long-term financial aspirations. It also can be a lifestyle that simplifies your daily habits and respects the planet. With frugality, you may find that some of your money stress decreases, too.

It’s wise to find a banking partner who can help you manage your money well if you choose to live in this cost-effective and simple style.

This article originally appeared on SoFi.com and was syndicated by MediaFeed.org.


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SoFi members with direct deposit activity can earn 4.60% annual percentage yield (APY) on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances. Direct Deposit means a deposit to an account holder’s SoFi Checking or Savings account, including payroll, pension, or government payments (e.g., Social Security), made by the account holder’s employer, payroll or benefits provider or government agency (“Direct Deposit”) via the Automated Clearing House (“ACH”) Network during a 30-day Evaluation Period (as defined below). Deposits that are not from an employer or government agency, including but not limited to check deposits, peer-to-peer transfers (e.g., transfers from PayPal, Venmo, etc.), merchant transactions (e.g., transactions from PayPal, Stripe, Square, etc.), and bank ACH funds transfers and wire transfers from external accounts, do not constitute Direct Deposit activity. There is no minimum Direct Deposit amount required to qualify for the stated interest rate.

SoFi members with Qualifying Deposits can earn 4.60% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances. Qualifying Deposits means one or more deposits that, in the aggregate, are equal to or greater than $5,000 to an account holder’s SoFi Checking and Savings account (“Qualifying Deposits”) during a 30-day Evaluation Period (as defined below). Qualifying Deposits only include those deposits from the following eligible sources: (i) ACH transfers, (ii) inbound wire transfers, (iii) peer-to-peer transfers (i.e., external transfers from PayPal, Venmo, etc. and internal peer-to-peer transfers from a SoFi account belonging to another account holder), (iv) check deposits, (v) instant funding to your SoFi Bank Debit Card, (vi) push payments to your SoFi Bank Debit Card, and (vii) cash deposits. Qualifying Deposits do not include: (i) transfers between an account holder’s Checking account, Savings account, and/or Vaults; (ii) interest payments; (iii) bonuses issued by SoFi Bank or its affiliates; or (iv) credits, reversals, and refunds from SoFi Bank, N.A. (“SoFi Bank”) or from a merchant.

SoFi Bank shall, in its sole discretion, assess each account holder’s Direct Deposit activity and Qualifying Deposits throughout each 30-Day Evaluation Period to determine the applicability of rates and may request additional documentation for verification of eligibility. The 30-Day Evaluation Period refers to the “Start Date” and “End Date” set forth on the APY Details page of your account, which comprises a period of 30 calendar days (the “30-Day Evaluation Period”). You can access the APY Details page at any time by logging into your SoFi account on the SoFi mobile app or SoFi website and selecting either (i) Banking > Savings > Current APY or (ii) Banking > Checking > Current APY. Upon receiving a Direct Deposit or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits to your account, you will begin earning 4.60% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% on checking balances on or before the following calendar day. You will continue to earn these APYs for (i) the remainder of the current 30-Day Evaluation Period and through the end of the subsequent 30-Day Evaluation Period and (ii) any following 30-day Evaluation Periods during which SoFi Bank determines you to have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits without interruption.

SoFi Bank reserves the right to grant a grace period to account holders following a change in Direct Deposit activity or Qualifying Deposits activity before adjusting rates. If SoFi Bank grants you a grace period, the dates for such grace period will be reflected on the APY Details page of your account. If SoFi Bank determines that you did not have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits during the current 30-day Evaluation Period and, if applicable, the grace period, then you will begin earning the rates earned by account holders without either Direct Deposit or Qualifying Deposits until you have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits in a subsequent 30-Day Evaluation Period. For the avoidance of doubt, an account holder with both Direct Deposit activity and Qualifying Deposits will earn the rates earned by account holders with Direct Deposit.

Members without either Direct Deposit activity or Qualifying Deposits, as determined by SoFi Bank, during a 30-Day Evaluation Period and, if applicable, the grace period, will earn 1.20% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances.

Interest rates are variable and subject to change at any time. These rates are current as of 10/24/2023. There is no minimum balance requirement. Additional information can be found at https://www.sofi.com/legal/banking-rate-sheet.

Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

Third-Party Brand Mentions: No brands, products, or companies mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third-party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.

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