Use This Calculator to See How Long It Will Take You to Save for a Home

couple apartment moving house housing Saving up for a home can feel like a seemingly endless journey for any prospective buyer — especially young workers. In our 2016 U.S. Housing Affordability Study, the MagnifyMoney team analyzed 380 metros in the U.S. and found nowhere in the U.S. where a worker who began saving today could reasonably save for a home in under one year.

On average, it would take workers aged 25 to 44 roughly five and half years to save for a home if they began saving now. Workers under age 25 would need more than five times as long (27.2 years). The journey would be shortest for middle-aged homebuyers aged 45 to 65, who we found would need just an average of 4.69 years to save enough for a new home.

In our study, we wanted to give a realistic picture of homeownership. We based our calculations on a worker whose goal was to save 20% of their income annually toward a goal of homeownership. We determined they would need to save enough to put down a 20% downpayment, plus 4.5% for closing costs. We also factored in a one-month emergency fund equal to one month’s mortgage payment.

But we also know it’s unreasonable to expect everyone to be able to set aside that much of their earnings in savings, especially early in their careers. So we created a calculator anyone can use to find out how long it would take them to save up for a new home.

Check it out below and read on to learn more about how it works.

Calculating Your Chances of Homeownership

Our unique Home Affordability Calculator asks for your gross monthly income (that is, how much you earn each month before taxes are taken out) and location first.  From there, we give you a quick estimate of how long it would take you to save for a home if you were to start saving now.

You can customize all of the fields of the calculator from there to tailor your estimate more closely to your circumstances. Can’t afford to save 20% of your income? Adjust your savings rate to whatever rate you think you can manage, and the calculator will update your estimate.

For some, this estimate may look more like a life sentence rather than a reasonable timeline toward saving for a home. Here, we can admit this calculator isn’t perfect. Your earnings today may look much different than a few years from now, or even a few months from now. As you work your way up in your career and are able to set aside more funds toward a new home, you will certainly shave time off your savings goal. Furthermore, you may already have some savings in the bank, which we this calculator does not take into consideration.

Read more about our findings in our 2016 Housing Affordability Study.

Here are the most affordable metros for each age group:

45 to 65 year olds:

45-65-The-Most-Easiest-Places

25 to 44-year-olds

25-44-The-Most-Easiest-Places

15 to 25-year-olds

15-24-The-Easiest-Places

The post Use This Calculator to See How Long It Will Take You to Save for a Home appeared first on MagnifyMoney.

Netflix Just Made It Easier to Save Cellphone Data When Streaming Its Movies

friendslaptops

Being able to Netflix and chill just got a bit easier thanks to a new tool unveiled by the company this week.

According to the streaming TV and movie provider, a new default setting will enable customers to stream about three hours of content per gigabyte of data, or about 600 Kilobits per second. Netflix claims this will boost video quality, but the real takeaway is that the change could help cellphone users avoid a high monthly phone bill due to too much data use.

“Our testing found that, on cellular networks, this setting balances good video quality with lower data usage to help avoid exceeding data caps and incurring overage fees,” Netflix said in a blog post. “If you have a mobile data plan with a higher data cap, you can adjust this setting to stream at higher bitrates.”

To set your cellular data usage, select App Settings from the Netflix iOS or Android app’s menu, pick Cellular Data Usage and switch off the automatic default. From there, you can select a higher or lower data usage setting that works with your mobile data plan; there’s even an unlimited option.

Saving on Your Cellphone Bill

Exceeding data caps is a sure way to rack up fees and hamper your budget. To get your usage in line, consider negotiating with your service provider to downgrade your plan or going elsewhere.

You may also be able to escape certain fees or pay lower rates for your cellphone service if you have a good credit score. (You can see where yours currently stands by viewing your two free credit scores, updated each month, on Credit.com.) If your credit is in rough shape, you may be able to improve your score by disputing errors on your credit report, paying down high credit card balances and limiting credit inquiries in the short-term.

You can find some more cellphone hacks that can save you money here.

More Money-Saving Reads:

Image: monkeybusinessimages

The post Netflix Just Made It Easier to Save Cellphone Data When Streaming Its Movies appeared first on Credit.com.

Here’s How Much Comcast Data Caps Cost One Customer Every Month

While Comcast moves ahead with its plan to add cell-phone-like data usage fees to home Internet service, consumers like Kimberly Richardson are feeling the pain. And if you are a heavy user and part of Comcast’s new fee trial, expect your bills to go up in January.

Richardson, who lives in Atlanta, regularly exceeds Comcast’s 300 GB usage cap. In July, she was charged $70 for overages. In August, $90. Meanwhile, warnings that her family is about to exceed its allotment seem to come earlier and earlier each month.

“Today, December 7th, I just got a notice that we have already used our 300 GB of data for the entire month of December!!!! What?? It’s only 7 days into the billing cycle!!!” she wrote to me recently. “This seems ridiculous since we have only been home TWO of these days!!! We will probably be billed an extra $100 to $140 in overage costs just for this month. I spoke with three different people, including management, and got no help.”

Even more frustrating, said Richardson: There’s no way to know if Comcast is accurately counting data usage. While Comcast offers some usage information on its website, it is sparse on details. “There is no data meter showing the hours of data usage or what was downloaded either, which is suspect. They only provide the totals of data, but this isn’t helpful or specific,” she said.

Comcast announced it was going to expand its existing trial of cap-and-charge-excess-fees back in September. (Trials in Richardson’s area had started earlier.) Not surprisingly, consumers strongly dislike the move. The website CutCableToday.com reported this week that 13,000 complaints related to the data caps were filed with the Federal Communications Commission.

Comcast sent notices in September that gave consumers a three-month courtesy period to get used to the caps. It expires in January.

When I contacted Comcast spokesman Charlie Douglas to discuss Richardson’s complaint, he repeated what he told me in September — that 92% of users would not be impacted by the 300 GB limit. Customer service agents contacted Richardson and walked her through tools designed to help consumers understand their usage patterns, he said.

While Douglas said he couldn’t discuss Richardson’s account for privacy reasons, he said there are situations where family members use websites or applications that require a lot of data — even when they aren’t in the house — and families should have discussions about data usage. “We’ve created FAQs about our plans. We have a data usage calculator on our website so consumers can estimate how much data they’ll need,” he said. A data usage meter available to account holders shows a three-month history, he added.

When asked if Comcast plans to offer more granular tools for examining usage patterns — routinely offered with smartphones — Douglas said Comcast was taking feedback from customers on the issue. “People are learning how to manage data usage from their wireless experiences and we’ll continue to study it,” he said.

Richardson wasn’t happy with Comcast’s explanation, however. “Basically, nothing was resolved,” she said. “We have a better understanding on what could be using up our data each month, but there isn’t anything we can do about it. We weren’t able to get a refund on the data charges or regulate our data usage without getting rid of devices. We still don’t have any proof that we are actually using that amount of data, and there isn’t a specific data meter going forward telling us what we are using.”

Other consumers who chimed in on my original story about the caps have the same complaint. “I know for a fact that I have not used 300 GB,” wrote one. “I live with my two young children. On weekdays, they go to school and I go to work. We get home between 5:30 and 6:00. They are not allowed TV or electronic use during the week. They are gone out of the home every other weekend, and so am I. And yet when I asked for proof of this usage, I was not able to access such proof because it does not exist.”

UPDATE (12/17/15 at 5:15 ET): Comcast says it uses outside auditors to verify the accuracy of its usage metering technology. Consumers can read about the audits here.

Richardson did sign up for a new plan Comcast will offer in Atlanta starting in January. For an extra $35 each month, her family will once again enjoy unlimited data.

More Money-Saving Reads:

Image: daizuoxin

The post Here’s How Much Comcast Data Caps Cost One Customer Every Month appeared first on Credit.com.