6 Warning Signs That You Need a New Job

Data show that a good economy is helping workers leave their jobs for more money.

According to The Wall Street Journal, career experts used to tell people to stick to one job as long as possible, even if there was a down economy. The idea was that if you were planning on finding a new job at some point and had a history of job hopping, employers might have considered you unreliable.

The Journal reported this in 2004. Fast forward to the present, and more recent data suggest the opposite may be true. The 2017 Q3 Workforce Vitality Report from ADP, a payroll processor, found that among full-time workers, job switchers saw an earnings increase by an average of 4.9 percent. Job holders lagged behind at 4.3 percent. A similar ADP report from the first quarter of 2017 found that a better economy is giving workers more leverage, meaning they feel more comfortable leaving a job and negotiating a salary increase.

A better economy is giving workers more leverage, meaning they feel more comfortable accepting the signs it's time to change jobs.

This significantly changes the career game. Now that switching jobs won’t necessarily hurt you, it’s crucial to discuss ways you know it’s time to quit your job.

Here are six warning signs you need a new job:

1. You haven’t seen a raise in two years

According to another ADP survey, there is a sweet spot for trading in your current gig for a new opportunity. The survey found that individuals who leave a company after at least two years, but before five years, get the highest salary increases at a new job.

Individuals who try to switch jobs after working five years at the same company won’t see as much of an increase as those who leave between the three- to five-year mark (this, the survey found, is when employees get the greatest salary bump). The longer you stay past five years, the less of an increase you’ll see, the ADP survey found. More experience often means you’ll have higher pay at your current job, so you’re less likely to see as much of a pay bump if you leave.

2. The company is having money problems

One surefire warning sign that you need a new job? “If your paycheck suddenly starts becoming irregular,” says Sandy Smith, a senior certified human resources professional with seven years of experience working in corporate human resources. It’s a clear indication of cash flow issues within the company, she adds.

Not seeing a raise in two years or if your company is having money trouble may be warning signs you need a new job.

Smith, who is also the founder of the personal finance blog Yes, I Am Cheap, says this is one of the major signs it’s time to change jobs.

“Saving money by not paying employees is the death knell of a company on its last legs,” she says, “and you should immediately jump ship.”

If your employer is starting to cut benefits or lay people off, Smith suggests that it might be a warning sign you need a new job and time to financially prepare for a job transition. While one layoff or cut may not be definite signs it’s time to change jobs just yet, Smith says to keep an eye on it.

“Layoff after layoff indicates a serious issue, and you should never take for granted that your job is safe,” she says.

“Saving money by not paying employees is the death knell of a company on its last legs, and you should immediately jump ship.”

– Sandy Smith, founder of Yes, I Am Cheap personal finance blog

3. You’re stagnant

Going as far as you can go with a company is one of the ways you know it’s time to quit your job.

“If you are upwardly mobile but you have no opportunity for advancement within the company, it might just be time to move,” Smith says.

And because you alone are in charge of your career, it’s essential to be proactive, Smith says. That means you can’t wait for your manager to give you a promotion or tell you when there’s no promotion anywhere in the foreseeable future.

So, if you find yourself lacking mobility, it may be a warning sign you need a new job, and finding a new employer could be the best way to advance. Smith also points out that taking a new job in this scenario will likely allow you to increase your earning potential as well.

According to a 2016 global report by LinkedIn, 74 percent of job candidates want a job where they feel like their work has a sense of purpose. If that need for fulfillment isn’t being met, it may be one of the ways you know it’s time to quit your job.

While there were several factors that contributed to Tara Falcone’s decision to leave her well-paying job, a lack of purpose was one of them. When she started her own investment firm in 2016, ReisUP LLC, she was seeking more personal and professional satisfaction.

Before going out on her own, Falcone spent four years working as an investment analyst on Wall Street. She enjoyed what she did, but she wasn’t exactly feeling fulfilled by it. She spent her days helping people who were already wealthy manage their money. Instead, she wanted to help people who came from backgrounds similar to her own attain more wealth.

74 percent of job candidates want a job where they feel like their work has a sense of purpose.

– 2016 global report by LinkedIn

“Coming from a humble, blue-collar background, I yearned to find a way to use the skill set I had acquired on Wall Street to help people like my friends and family.”

Even if you identify a lack of fulfillment as a sign it’s time to change jobs, leaving a secure paycheck is a difficult decision for anyone, especially when, like Falcone, you’re making a pretty hefty sum. Yet, money was not the biggest factor in her decision to leave her job. Ultimately, she valued other things more—like helping an underserved community and having more personal time.

“The money was good, but not good enough to tie me down, nor more than I thought I could ever make doing something else,” she explains. “I grew up without money, so I wasn’t chasing it. And I knew that a big shiny paycheck would never fulfill me on its own.”

6. Your job is negatively affecting you

A final way you know it’s time to quit your job: It’s negatively affecting your life. Of course, this may look differently to different people. For some, health problems are the warning signs you need a new job. For others, like Falcone, it’s when your job starts getting in the way of your personal life.

“My work started negatively affecting the limited time I spent with family,” she says. “As an investment analyst, you don’t really get true vacation time when the market is open.”

Falcone recalled going home for Christmas and still needing to be available for work via phone and email. Eventually, she felt like it became too intrusive.

It’s time to find a new job

If you're not fulfilled with the work you do, it could be a sign it's time to change jobs.

If you see yourself in any of these six scenarios, take them as signs it’s time to change jobs. Dust off that resume, get on LinkedIn and start reaching out to your contacts. Now that the job-hopping stigma seems to be a thing of the past, you have far less to worry about should you decide to quit your job and find a new one.

Source: discover.com

How to Make the Leap From Side Hustle to Full-Time Dream Job

Learn real tips from real side hustlers who are now thriving full time.

For Michelle Schroeder-Gardner it all began with a blog. When she started Making Sense of Cents in 2011, a chronicle of her journey paying off $38,000 in student loans, it was a fun way to make money on the side while maintaining her full-time job as a financial analyst. Fast forward two years and she’s left her day job to focus on the blog exclusively. Fast forward another five years and she’s earning more than $1 million annually from her site.

If you too are looking to turn your side hustle into a full-time job, experiences like Schroeder-Gardner’s prove that just about anything is possible. And you’re not alone. Nation1099, an online resource for freelancers, published a 2018 report to summarize data from various career studies and concluded that approximately 11 percent of the working adult population in the U.S. is working primarily as full-time independent contractors in the gig economy. Gig workers, also known as on-demand workers, function with a non-standard work arrangement and without a long-term employment contract.

Some, like Schroeder-Gardner, have ditched a traditional lifestyle and are working while on the go and whenever they’re most productive (she travels around the world in an RV and sailboat and writes when motivation strikes). Others are logging full-time hours at home or in a coworking office space.

With a thriving gig economy, it could be the right time to turn your side hustle into a full-time job.

Although figuring out how to turn your side hustle into your dream job requires hard work, with patience and persistence, you can succeed.

Learn from the experts themselves and consider these steps for turning your side hustle into a successful business:

Educate yourself

The first step for turning your side hustle into a successful business is building the right skill set so you can stand out in your field. Research industry best practices and in-demand skills, speak to successful professionals and read about others who’ve made the leap from side hustle to full-time job.

The first steps for turning your side hustle into a successful business are doing your research and developing skills to make yourself stand out.

When Jill DeConti, founder of the blog The Luxe Travelers, decided to leave her finance job to devote all of her time to her side hustle as a travel blogger, she knew that knowledge would be instrumental to her success.

“I began researching, reading books, soaking in knowledge,” DeConti says, adding that she also focused on learning marketing best practices and how to generate revenue from her blog.

Reading about the steps for turning your side hustle into a successful business proved useful to DeConti not just for the practical tips she gleaned, but for motivation as well.

“This made me realize that my dreams were actually possible,” she says, “and made me feel less alone in pursuing them.”

“Even though I was earning a good income from my side gig before I turned it into my full-time career, I was terrified to leave my day job.”

– Michelle Schroeder-Gardner, founder of the blog Making Sense of Cents

Take baby steps

Schroeder-Gardner says one of the most challenging parts of turning your side hustle into a full-time job is building a business framework and believing in it.

“Even though I was earning a good income from my side gig before I turned it into my full-time career,” she says, “I was terrified to leave my day job.”

Growing her gig on the side to make sure that it actually worked—and would generate income—helped her gain confidence while she still had the security of her day job’s salary. When she was ready to make her side hustle full time, she knew the framework for a blog that could make money from affiliate marketing was already in place.

“I knew it was time when I was earning enough from my blog to live off of,” Schroeder-Gardner says. “I was earning around $5,000 to $10,000 a month from my side hustle at that time.”

Build an emergency fund

If you’re thinking about how to turn your side hustle into your dream job, be prepared for business—and earnings—to not go exactly as planned.

“Build an emergency fund,” Schroeder-Gardner says. “This way, when you turn your side gig into your dream job, you’ll have money set aside in case you have a not-so-good month.”

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You could also dip into your emergency fund to help manage daily expenses and pay your bills while you turn your side hustle into a full-time job. It may also come in handy if you need to finance upfront business costs (new equipment or office supplies, anyone?).

Outside of work, an emergency fund can provide a cushion for other expenses that may not be baked into your budget (think a trip to the doctor’s office or a home repair that came out of nowhere).

As you work on creating an emergency fund as a step for turning your side hustle into a successful business, note that most experts agree that it should include at least six months to a year of expenses.

If you're wondering how to turn your side hustle into your dream job, you'll need an emergency fund to help protect yourself financially.

Invest extra time upfront

You may find that it takes a lot of time to turn your side hustle into a full-time job. There’s networking, promoting your business and accepting new opportunities to build your portfolio—and that’s likely on top of your already packed schedule.

If you’re wondering how to turn your side hustle into your dream job, you may need to carve out time after regular working hours. That was the case for DeConti, whose day job kept her occupied from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. In order to get her name out there as she built her travel blog, she looked for freelance social media jobs and worked on her own blog “after work and late into the night and on weekends,” she says.

Putting in the time upfront really paid off. These days DeConti can make her own schedule and work remotely, which is key for someone who has made a career out of her passion for travel.

“I’ve been able to travel to Bali for an extended period of time, spend a month traveling around the Greek islands, swim in the cenotes in Mexico, chase waterfalls around Iceland, eat the best pizza I’ve ever had in Italy, take a camper van around beautiful New Zealand,” she says. “As long as I have my laptop with me, I’m good to go.”

Join the side hustlers who have gone full time

If you’re contemplating how to turn your side hustle into your dream job, take comfort in knowing that you’re in good company. Others are now living their dreams, and you can too with some careful planning and confidence.

So, what are you waiting for?

Source: discover.com

Unanticipated Side Effects: The COVID-19 Pandemic and Working Women

The COVID-19 pandemic has challenged individuals and families around the globe, with a disproportionately large burden falling on the shoulders of working women. This ongoing crisis has exacerbated demands on women who juggle the responsibilities of a career with a primary caregiver role at home. According to a recent report from LeanIn.org and McKinsey, one in four women have considered “downshifting their careers or leaving the workforce” due to lack of flexibility at work, housework and caregiving burdens and burnout.

Every situation is unique, and the decision to make a career change is a deeply personal and individual one. Women who are contemplating taking a step back from work should consider carefully evaluating the financial implications of this shift, consulting with their partners about how it will affect their families, and seeking guidance from a financial adviser about the impact on their long-term financial plans.

Steps to take before ‘stepping back’ from work

Before moving forward with a career exit or major downshift, there may be smaller steps you can take to alleviate the pressures of balancing work and family — both financially and otherwise.

For starters, reaching out to your employer to discuss your concerns may yield a modified working arrangement that meets your needs, such as reduced hours or flex time. You may also be entitled to benefits or other resources to help reduce feelings of burnout and financial anxiety. Keep in mind that research shows companies where women are well-represented in leadership roles are 50% more likely to outperform than their peers — in other words, you may have more negotiating power than you think.

In addition, now is a good time to reassess your long- and short-term goals for your career, finances and personal fulfillment, as well as to write them down, if you have not recently done so. Having a clear sense of what you want to accomplish in various areas of your life will help ensure that the decisions you’re making align with those goals. (Research also shows that people who put their goals in writing are more likely to accomplish them.)

From a financial standpoint, there may be budget adjustments within your control that will make reducing hours at work more financially feasible. Take stock of the cash flow basics: your income vs. your spending, where the money is going each month, and where you can easily reduce expenses.

Contemplating a career change from every angle

If leaving the workforce or scaling back to a part-time role still feels like the best solution, it’s important to examine the complex implications of that decision for your personal life, your career and your finances. While it is most often women who make changes in their professional lives in response to COVID-19, involving your spouse or partner in your plans is crucial. Both parties need to understand your household’s current financial situation, your collective goals, and the pros and cons of your decisions. Contemplating these questions, and talking them through with your spouse or partner can help prepare you for what will likely be a significant shift on multiple fronts:

  • If you are in a two-income household, is your partner’s income sufficient to support your family’s needs?
  • If you decide to shift to part-time work, will that change or reduce access to benefits you and your family receive from your employer (health insurance, group life or disability insurance, or a 401(k) match)?
  • Can you still afford to contribute the same amount to your retirement account if your income is reduced?
  • If you quit your job or cut back to part-time, how will the resulting reduction in income impact your long-term financial security and future Social Security benefits?
  • Should you decide to return to the workforce in the future, how will taking time away affect your career?
  • Is there an opportunity to stay engaged in your career and professional network via freelancing or consulting work?
  • Will stepping away from your job lead to feelings of resentment or regret? Are there other areas of your life from which you derive a sense of purpose and fulfillment?

How your financial adviser can help

Before making any major decisions, you may also want to loop in your financial adviser to help you evaluate your options in the context of your long-term financial plan. An adviser who understands what you’re trying to accomplish, your current financial circumstances, and your long-term goals can walk you through different courses of action and establish a plan to move forward. I’ve found that for many people, having a plan goes a long way in alleviating stress and anxiety around financial issues.

Speaking of having a plan, it’s also important to keep in mind that financial planning is not a one-time exercise, but an ongoing, dynamic process. You should check in periodically with your adviser, let them know of any significant changes in your life as they happen, and adjust your long-term financial plan as often as needed. In addition, your financial adviser can be a valuable resource in ways that go beyond answering your financial questions. Believe it or not, due to an adviser’s vast network, they can help clients do everything from finding attorneys to review new employment contracts and updating estate planning documents to collaborating with eldercare experts and long-term care specialists, and more.

For women balancing careers and families, the COVID-19 pandemic has piled additional burdens onto plates that were already full. No matter how you ultimately navigate these challenges, taking stock of all your options, involving your partner and your financial adviser in planning, and making decisions that are rooted in your long-term goals can help ensure the best possible outcomes for you and your family.

Senior Wealth Adviser, Boston Private

Kathleen Kenealy, CFP®, CPWA® is the Director of Financial Planning and a senior wealth adviser for Boston Private. She specializes in working with successful individuals and families to manage, protect and grow their assets. Kenealy provides guidance on investment, retirement, philanthropic, estate and tax-planning strategies.

Source: kiplinger.com

How to Make a Career Change After Years at the Same Job

Editor’s note: This story was originally published in December 2018.

After 10 years in human resources at a nonprofit, Laura Niebauer Palmer figured she wouldn’t have any problem finding a new HR job when she and her husband moved from Chicago to Austin, Texas.

Then she started reading the job postings — which asked for advanced training and experience with programs she didn’t use — and realized her old skills weren’t marketable for a new position.

“My heart sank,” Palmer said. “I was like, “What am I going to do? How am I going to bridge this gap?’”

So how is it that 10 years of experience could become a detriment rather than a strength for a job candidate?

Many longtime workers are falling behind on the skills required in rapidly changing industries, according to Alvin Nesbot, the New York City market manager for Manpower.

“People who are just joining the job market — maybe within the past three to five years or so — are making moves a lot faster than people who have been working for 10-plus years,” Nesbot said. “There are those people who have worked a lot longer who have stayed in a lull and gotten stagnant.”

And it’s not just another co-worker who’ll offer the skills you’re lacking — at least, not a human one. It’s estimated that half of the work activities companies pay people to do could be automated by 2055, according to a study by the McKinsey Global Institute.

Read on for strategies for making a change after years in the same role.

How to Make a Career Change

If you’re a bit unsure about what’s happening outside your cubicle walls, here are five strategies for avoiding — or escaping — a dead-end job.

1. Network for a Job

Leaving your comfort zone to network may seem intimidating, but it’s a great way to find out what is going on in your industry. It’s part of the reason it’s so important to maintain networking relationships even after you have found a job.

Being around your peers is not only helpful for finding contacts for the next job but also for discovering what credentials and terminology are becoming more prominent within your field.

Pro Tip

If in-person networking isn’t an option, consider setting up or attending Zoom events — just remember to keep your camera turned on and stay engaged in the conversation.

“You have like-minded people to bounce ideas off,” Palmer said. “Also, it’s very eye-opening when you’re around a bunch of people and they’re having conversations about topics you don’t really know about or are using acronyms that you’re like, ‘Wait, what does that mean?’”

And if the thought of a networking event makes you break out in hives, try one-on-one networking with former colleagues, Palmer suggested.

“What I would have done differently is definitely caught up with people who had left the company,” she said. She added that by asking about the transition to new roles, you’ll get a better idea of what technology and skills are in demand outside your office.

2. Update Your Resume

If your resume touts WordPerfect expertise and includes your AOL address, it’s probably time for a resume makeover. (Also, stop wearing that sundress over a T-shirt.)

Reading your resume with a critical eye is essential for identifying skills or programs that are no longer relevant for your position, according to Nesbot.

“What you were doing seven to 10 years ago is not going to be relevant or as important as what is going on today,” Nesbot said. “Are there things making [your resume] look dated?”

Starting over doesn’t mean you have to forget your past experiences. Instead, take some time to compile a comprehensive list of training and accomplishments, Nesbot suggested.

“Sometimes we don’t look at our resumes in a while, and we realize there are things we’ve been doing that we haven’t highlighted,” Nesbot said. “Include any certifications or training that you’ve done to help set you apart from any other candidate.”

Once you have your list, compare it to current job postings and craft your resume so it includes recent credentials and popular terms within your industry.

“Make sure you have buzz words that are going to stand out to whoever is reading your resume,” Nesbot said.

3. Find a Mentor

Once she got to Austin, Palmer ended up at a staffing agency looking for work. The agency placed her in a temporary three-month position to fill in for a woman on maternity leave.

Palmer used those months to take advantage of the in-house training department to connect with someone who could provide long-term career advice.

“The biggest part that helped me develop was the mentorship that I had with my boss,” she said. “I learned so much from her; my confidence rose 100%.

“You can’t replicate that with a course.”

At the end of her temporary gig, the company offered Palmer a full-time position in the HR department.

4. Volunteer for Experience

Rather than repeating past mistakes, Palmer said, she took the opportunity at her new job to question what she really wanted in the next five or 10 years — and it turns out, it wasn’t HR.

After spending some time figuring out what she really wanted to do, Palmer decided  to work for free in exchange for the experience she was lacking rather than pour money into additional education.

“I volunteered at two organizations, and one of them specifically was something that I wouldn’t have been able to land a job at because I had no experience,” Palmer said.

Because she was volunteering her time, Palmer said the organization was more willing to invest in training her for the position.

Thanks to that experience, Palmer was able to snag a part-time job at a small company. That allowed her to spend time with her young son and to write articles sharing her expertise — including some for The Penny Hoarder.

5. Apply for Jobs Before You Need One

Even if you’re happy in your job right now, it doesn’t hurt to start investigating what’s out there.

After all, the best way to discover if you’re growing or stagnating in your career is to find out if someone will hire you — and there’s always a chance you’ll find your dream job in the process, Palmer said.

Pro Tip

You can pursue professional development on your own if you’re seeking a new career. Here are five online certifications that can help you sharpen those all-so-important soft skills.

“Look at the jobs right now and actually apply to them and go through interviewing,” Palmer said. “I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that to see where your skills are — if they’re lining up with what is currently needed in the market.

“But you also might land a job that you didn’t even know you wanted.”

Why You’re Not Job Hunting — But Should Be

Reevaluating your skills every few years takes some work, but the rewards are a more fulfilling career with greater chances for growth. Admittedly, that can be hard to do when you’re happy — or at least satisfied — with your current position.

Your salary and benefits might tempt you to stay put, but you’ll suffer in the long run if you’re too scared to change, according to Palmer. Part of the reason she stayed at her first job for so long was the generous paid time off and health care coverage.

“It’s hard because you’re trying to balance furthering yourself but also realizing if you further yourself, you’re taking a risk,” Palmer said. “ But if you’re looking to grow in your career… you need to challenge yourself.”

Tiffany Wendeln Connors is a staff writer/editor with The Penny Hoarder. She likes all kinds of change, but pennies are her favorite.



Source: thepennyhoarder.com

Is Now a Good Time to Buy a House?

When you’re thinking about taking the plunge into homeownership, timing the market may not be as important as taking stock of your personal finances and lifestyle.

So you’re at the point in your life where buying a home is not a question of if, but when. You’re scrimping. You’re saving. You’re dreaming of walking through the front door of your very own home.

But as the decision draws near, you start questioning everything. Is now a good time to buy a house? Or is this the worst time? Is it more financially responsible to buy a house right now or wait? And what if you mistime the market, buying too soon or too late, and miss out on lower home prices?

Ultimately, the experts say the answer is less about economies, markets and pandemics and more about you.

So, how do you think through this decision? You’ll want to take time to thoroughly review your personal financial situation and life goals. At the same time, you’ll need to gain some understanding of the market dynamics that impact home costs.

External factors can make buying a house right now intimidating, but your personal finances are an important factor.

This process will take some time, but it’s well worth the effort. With a firm grasp on your personal situation and some context on the housing market, you’ll be able to confidently go forth knowing you’re making a fiscally informed decision about whether to buy a house right now.

Honestly assess these aspects of your finances

Financial security is always important if you’re trying to determine when you’re ready to buy a home. To decide if now is a good time to buy a house, ask yourself the following questions about your finances:

How secure is your income?

Job or income stability is an important factor if you are buying a home in a rocky economy, such as the one triggered by the coronavirus pandemic, says real estate economist Gay Cororaton. Even in a robust economy, your income security should be top of mind when you’re thinking of buying a house right now.

If you have any inkling that your position may be eliminated or that you’ll be making a career change, you may want to delay buying a home. Even a recent break in employment that caused you to draw down some of your savings may raise a red flag with lenders, says Kate Ziegler, a real estate agent with Arborview Realty in the Boston area.

Do you have enough money saved?

After income stability, savings is the next-most-important financial factor you’ll want to consider to determine if now is a good time to buy a house, Ziegler says. The old rule of thumb was to save 20% of the price of the home for your down payment. While that is ideal, it’s not necessary—far from it, Ziegler says. In fact, it has become more common for first-time buyers to put down much less than 20%.

How much house can you afford?

The down payment is one side of the affordability coin. Your monthly mortgage payment is the other side. You need to know how much you can spend on both to determine if you can afford to buy a house right now, says Jeff Tucker, a senior economist at Zillow. Aim for a monthly mortgage payment that doesn’t stretch you too thin—experts typically put this at around 28% of your monthly gross income, according to Bankrate.

With those guidelines, you can determine what you can afford. For example, if you make $4,000 a month, you should typically spend no more than $1,120 on your monthly mortgage payment in total.

How much house that buys you depends on multiple factors: mortgage rates, property tax rates, homeowners insurance and—if you don’t have the savings to put down 20%—primary mortgage insurance, or PMI. To get a rough estimate, plug your income details into an online calculator. For a more specific figure, talk to a local lender and get pre-approved for a mortgage, Ziegler says.

If you're buying a house right now, aim for mortgage payments around 28% of your monthly gross income.

Once you know your price range, you can determine how much savings you need in the bank to buy a house right now. You’ll also need to have money saved for closing costs, which vary but typically run 2% to 5% of the loan amount, according to Bankrate.

Again, Ziegler recommends talking to a lender to really understand what your individual down payment and closing costs would be. Finally, be sure to add a line item in your budget for home maintenance that will inevitably pop up after you move in. Whether it’s a dishwasher on the fritz or a leaky roof, you don’t want to be caught off guard, so be sure to save money for emergency home repairs.

How is your credit?

Your credit profile is also important to lenders, and it will likely be a factor in what interest rate you’re offered. Given that, you should be checking your credit report and know your credit score before investing in a home. If you’re considering buying a house right now, you should avoid opening any new lines of credit right before purchasing a home, Tucker says.

What is your debt-to-income ratio?

Another factor lenders check is your debt-to-income ratio, or DTI, Tucker says. This is the percentage of your gross monthly income that goes to paying monthly debt payments, plus your new mortgage. Lenders typically require this ratio to be 45% or less but prefer it even lower—in the 33% to 36% range.

Have you considered the opportunity cost?

Another financial consideration when deciding if now is a good time to buy a house is the opportunity cost of delaying a home purchase, Ziegler says. If you’re renting in a market where the rent is higher than your would-be monthly mortgage payment, you may be spending a lot more money each month than if you were to purchase a home. And of course, with a mortgage, your monthly payment increases your equity.

After taking a clear-eyed look at your income, savings and these other financial factors, you will have a better sense of when you’re ready to buy a home and whether now’s the time for you to dip into the market.

Consider key market factors

Next, take a look at factors that are outside of your control, but still influence your purchase: prices, interest rates and national employment trends.

Where are housing prices?

As you’re looking at the market, one of the biggest considerations when you are ready to buy a home will be housing prices and availability. Research your local market by talking to real estate agents who work specifically in the area where you want to buy and asking them about market trends, Ziegler says.

Track current listings and recently sold prices to get a sense of how prices look today. Generally, the tighter the inventory—meaning the fewer houses available—the higher prices will be, Tucker says.

If you're trying to determine when you are ready to buy a home, track current listings to get a sense of how prices look today.

What’s going on with interest rates?

When you’re ready to buy a home could also depend on another major economic factor: interest rates. When interest rates are low, your housing budget is effectively supercharged, Tucker says, and you can afford a more expensive house because you’re spending less on interest. When they are high, the opposite is true.

This is what compels people to buy when interest rates are low—you get more for your money. If you get a 30- or 15-year fixed-rate mortgage, you lock in that rate for the entire life of the loan, which could save you money now and into the future, Tucker says.

How does employment look nationally?

Finally, if you want to get a general idea of where the housing market may be headed—if prices will drop or rise soon—check out the national employment trends, Cororaton says. Low unemployment means prices will generally trend upward because more people can afford houses, boosting competition and prices, she says.

But if unemployment is inching up, then people are losing jobs and will be more likely to remain in their current homes. As a result, there tends to be less competition for them, lowering prices.

You don’t need to be an expert in the market to determine if now is a good time to buy a house, but a baseline understanding of these big-picture forces can give you the confidence you need to embark on your home-buying journey.

So when are you ready to buy a home? Paying attention to big-picture economic forces can help you decide.

Think about your future plans

After reviewing your savings and income and assessing the market conditions, take a step back and think about your life plans over the next few years. Your lifestyle and goals will help determine whether now is a good time to buy a house.

“For buyers who are not certain whether they will still be living in the same place in three or five years, I would caution against locking themselves into a certain location,” Ziegler says. “If they’re just not sure what the future holds, it may be better to have that flexibility.”

It’s unlikely in many markets that you will see substantial financial gain from homeownership if you move within five years, Ziegler says. Your equity gains will likely be offset by the transaction costs of buying and selling your home.

That goes for remote workers, too. Are you working from a home office these days? While widespread remote work may allow buyers to consider homes farther from their offices, ask yourself: Is my company going to permanently allow employees to work from home? Do I think there will be other remote opportunities in the future?

Is now a good time to buy a house? That depends on your lifestyle and long-term goals.

While you’re thinking about the next three to five years of your career, also consider the next three to five years of your personal life. Will you have a family? Will that family grow?

These can be weighty topics, so be sure to think them through on your own schedule. Buying a house is a big decision, and it’s not one to be rushed. By taking the time to assess your life, from your job security to your financial health to your lifestyle, and considering the impact of market factors, you’ll have a clearer sense of when you are ready to buy a home.

If you’ve decided that buying a house right now is the best decision for you, it’s time to learn more about how it will impact your budget. Get started by reading up on these eight unexpected expenses when buying a home.

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Source: discover.com