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Financial Advice Keeping You Broke & In Debt

The post Financial Advice Keeping You Broke & In Debt appeared first on Penny Pinchin' Mom.

Financial advice is great – when it is the right type of advice.  There are tips and strategies that can make you money.  However, there is also a lot of advice that will do nothing but keep you broke and in debt.  These are things you don’t want to listen to.

I remember when I was younger, my mom told me that I had to get a credit card because it would be important for any emergencies which came my way.  I followed her advice and got a credit card. And, wouldn’t you know it, the first time I used it was for an emergency. Or, what I thought was an emergency.

I woke one snowy morning and someone had hit my car — and fled. No note on my windshield.  Just a dented door with green paint. I was devastated.  I had worked so hard to afford that car.  Now, here I was having to pay money to get it back to the condition it once was.  Since I was broke, I followed my mom’s advice.  I used my credit card.

I remember watching it go through the reader.  I signed my name and I was done.   When the bill came the following month, I paid that minimum payment. I decided that credit cards were pretty slick!  They were simple to use and it was the way to get what I wanted now and I could just pay for it later.

In hindsight, my mom would have been better to teach me the importance of saving.  That way, I would have cash on hand to cover my emergencies and not rely on plastic.

Sadly, this is the way many people live their financial life. The take the advice of friends and family and follow it rather than listening to financial experts.  Here are some common financial advice myths.

 

BAD FINANCIAL ADVICE YOU MAY BELIEVE

1. Some debt is good to have

I hear time and time again that you have to have debt in order to have a good credit score.  That type of financial advice is pure nonsense.

There is no such thing as “good debt.” Debt is money you owe someone and it is never a good thing. It is, however, sometimes necessary in order to purchase a house or a vehicle.  While not what one would call good debt, it may be a debt you need to have in order to live.

The type of debt no one should have is credit card debt.  Ever.  There should never be any instance where you owe more on your credit card in any given month than the amount of money you have in the bank to pay it in full.

Continuing to accrue debt that you can not pay in full each month makes no sense at all.

 

2. You need a credit card for an emergency

My story above is all too common for many.  The opposite is true.  You can have a credit card, but should not use it only for an emergency.  However, if that is how you plan to pay for emergencies, you are setting yourself up for financial trouble.

We all know that emergencies will happen.  There is nothing we can do to prevent them.  However, the smart thing to do is to plan ahead for the unknown.  This is why a fully funded emergency account makes more sense than a credit card.

If you think about it, having to deal with the stress of the situation is bad enough.  Add to it the thought of increasing your debt in order to deal with it just makes the situation a work.  Now, you not only had to deal with the broken furnace but now, you will have to find a way to pay for it as your monthly bills just went up.

Your emergency fund will come to your rescue when it is needed.  Knowing the funds are there to help cover those expenses will instantly make you feel better when dealing with a stressful situation.

 

3.  Leasing a vehicle is better

This is the one that makes me scratch my head.  When you lease a vehicle, you never own it.   Instead, you are stuck in perpetual car payments. How does that make any sense at all?

The common reason many say they lease is that they don’t have to worry about having an older vehicle.  They know that they are driving a new vehicle every few years.  The truth is, if you take care of your car, your vehicle can last you for years.  I drove our minivan for more than 13 years!  And, when I was ready for an upgrade, my vehicle was 3 years old.  Nothing new here!

If you lease a vehicle for 3 years at $300 a month, you will pay nearly $11,000 to drive the vehicle.  At the end of 3 years, you give it back. You have nothing to show for it.  You have just thrown away $11,000.  Now, you have to either lease again or decide to purchase your vehicle.  You are starting over on those payments.

However, had you purchased a vehicle that would offer you the same monthly payment of $300 for 3 (or even 4) years, you would own your car.  You now have $300 a month income freed up to do with what you wish.

The smart move would be to save that $300 monthly amount so that in 8, 9 or even 10 years when you need a new car, you can pay for it in cash.  This money will also more than cover some of the repairs that may be needed as your vehicle ages.

 

4.  Renting is throwing your money away

If you rent, you probably this financial advice frequently.  It is common for people to feel that it makes more sense to buy a house as your money is going to build up equity in your property.  And, truthfully, for some people renting is a waste of money.

But not for all.

There are situations where you do not have the funds for your down payment.  It could also be a time in your life when you know there will be the potential for relocating to a new city or venturing down a new career path.

By renting, you also avoid the additional costs of home maintenance, insurance, and other expenses which go with owning a home.

The best way to know this one is to look carefully at your own budget and personal situation. If renting works for you, then that is the path you should follow.

 

5.  You should always buy a new car

Turn on any television program and you will see ads sharing low-interest rate payments to lure you into wanting that new car.  These ads make it sound extremely affordable and tempting.  But don’t fall for it.

The truth is that when you purchase a new car, it will depreciate most quickly in the first few years you own it.  In fact, most cars will lose half their value every four years.  For instance, if your car is $25,000 brand new, in just four years it will be worth $12,000.  Add another four years and now the car is worth just $6,000.

You should not be a car that is too old.  Instead, purchase a late model car with lower miles. It will cost less to operate and will more quickly pay for itself.

 

6.  You must go to college

Many high school students believe that they must go to college when they graduate. However, that is not necessarily the right decision for everyone.  Not all careers or jobs will require a college education.  And, if you do not have the funds to pay for it, you can certainly rack up quite a bit of student loan debt.

If you happen to select a career that requires a secondary education, then it can be worth the cost. But, make certain you have the passion needed to carry you through.  Otherwise, you may find yourself amongst the nearly 60% who drop out, you will find yourself left with a mountain of student loan debt and nothing to show for it.

Rather than attend a college, consider a trade school instead.  Or, if you know for sure you do want to go to school, spend some time trying different jobs to figure out where your passion lies.  There is no rule that says you have to start college immediately after you finish high school.  Know what you want to do and then decide where to go for your education.

Getting financial advice from family and friends, be it solicited or not, can be helpful.  However, just make sure that what they say makes sense and do your homework.  Following what they say can often lead you down a path of increased debt and unhappiness.

Please note that I am not a certified financial advisor and the information shared on this site is based on my personal experiences.   It is important you consult with a tax or financial professional for assistance for your financial situation.

The post Financial Advice Keeping You Broke & In Debt appeared first on Penny Pinchin' Mom.

Source: pennypinchinmom.com

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Late Payments, Credit Scores and Credit Reports

A missed credit card or loan payment can have a seriously detrimental effect on your credit report. The golden rule of using a credit card is to make your payments on time every time, building a respectable payment history, avoiding debt, and keeping your creditor happy.

But what happens when you fall behind with your monthly payments; what happens when you miss a single loan or credit card payment as a result of a mistake, an oversight or a lack of funds? How will your creditor react, how quickly will the credit reporting agencies find out, and what options do you have for getting back on your feet?

How Late Payments Affect Your Credit Score

A late payment can reduce your credit score significantly and remain on your report for 7 years. It won’t impact your score throughout that time and the longer you leave it, the less of an impact it will have. However, the impact could be significant for individuals with good credit and bad credit.

As an example, if you have a credit score of 750 to 800, which is towards the upper end, a late payment could knock up to 710 points from your score. More importantly, it will remain on your payment history for years to come and reduce your chances of getting everything from a student loan to a credit card and mortgage.

How Soon do Late Payments Show on Credit Reports

You won’t be hit with a derogatory mark as soon as you miss a credit card payment. The credit card issuer may charge you a fee, but by law, they are not allowed to market it as a missed payment until it is 30 days due. And this doesn’t just apply to credit card debt, it’s true for loans as well.

Providing you cover the payment within 30-days, you can avoid a missed payment mark appearing on your credit report. But as soon as that period passes, your lender will inform the major credit bureaus and your score will take a hit.

Some lenders wait even longer before reporting, so you may have as long as 60 days to make that payment. Check with your creditor to see when they start reporting missed payments.

What About Partial Payments?

Many lenders treat a partial payment the same as a missed payment, especially where credit cards are concerned. If you’re struggling to meet your payment obligations, contact your creditor in advance, tell them how desperate your situation is and inform them that you can meet part of the payment.

They may offer you some reprieve, they may not, but you won’t know if you don’t ask. However, it’s worth noting that this will only impact your score if you don’t cover the remaining credit card payment before the 30-day period is up.

To avoid confusion, we should also mention that this only applies to the minimum payment. Some credit card users get confused with the difference between a balance and a minimum payment.

Simply put, the balance is what you clear at the end of the month to avoid accumulating debt and paying interest. If you fail to pay that balance on time, your debt will simply roll over to the next month, after which you will be required to meet a minimum payment on your debt. If, however, you miss that minimum payment, then you’re at risk of your credit report taking a hit.

Reporting agencies don’t record the difference between a rolling balance and a debt. If you spend $3,000 on your card every month but pay it off without fail and without delay, you won’t accumulate interest and technically, you won’t have debt. However, at the end of the month, the reporting agencies will show that you owe $3,000 on that card, just as they would show if you had accumulated a balance of $1,000 a month for three months and let it rollover.

How Long Does a Late Payment Stay?

A late payment will remain on your credit report for 7 years. But herein lies another confusion. Just because it reduces your score by 100 points and remains for 7 years doesn’t mean you will suffer a reduction of 100 points for those 7 years. 

It generally stops having a major impact on your score after a couple of years and while it will still have an impact in that 7-year period, it will be infinitesimal by the time you reach the end.

How Many Late Payments Can You Make Before it Reduces Your Score?

One late credit card payment is all it takes to reduce your score, providing that late payment was delayed by at least 30-days. However, that doesn’t mean you can forget about it once the 30-day period has passed and it definitely doesn’t mean that all the possible damage has been done.

It can and will get worse if you continue to avoid that payment. Your credit report will show how late the payment is in 30-day installments. When it reached 180 days, your account will enter default and may be charged-off, which will reduce your score and your chances of acquiring future credit even more.

Your creditor may sell your account to a collection agency. If this happens, the agency will chase you for repayment, seeking to establish a repayment plan or to request a settlement. Accounts are often in this stage when a consumer goes through debt settlement, as creditors and debt collectors are typically more susceptible to accepting reduced settlements because the debt has all but been written off.

How to Remove Late Payments from Your Credit Report

Although rare, it is possible to remove late payments from your credit report. There are also numerous ways you can reverse late payment fees, and we recommend trying these whenever you can as it will save you a few bucks.

Here are a few options to remove late payments and late payment fees:

Use Your Respectable History

The quickest way to get what you want is to ask for it. If you have a clean credit history and have made your payments on time in the past, you can request that the fee/mark be removed. 

Write them a letter requesting forgiveness, explain that it was an oversight or a temporary issue and point to your record as proof that this will likely not happen again. Creditors may seem like heartless corporations, but real humans make their decisions for them and, like all companies, they have to put their customers first.

Request Automatic Payments

Lenders have been known to remove late payment fees if the debtor signs up for automatic payments. It makes their job easier as it prevents issues in the future and ensures they get what they are owed, so it’s something they actively promote.

They may make this offer themselves, but if not, contact them and ask them if there is anything you can do to remove the late payment. They should bring this up; if they don’t, you can. It doesn’t hurt to ask and the worse they can do is say no.

Claim Difficulties

If you claim financial difficulties or hardships and make it clear that a late payment will make those difficulties much worse, the lender may be willing to help. Contrary to what you might think, their goal is not to make life difficult for you and to destroy you financially. 

It’s important to see things from their perspective. If you borrow $15,000 and your balance climbs to $20,000 with interest, their main goal is to get that $15,000 back, after which everything else is profit. If you pay $10,000 and start slipping-up, the risk of default will increase. The worse your financial situation becomes, the higher that risk will be. 

If they eventually sell the account to a debt collector, that remaining $10,000 could earn them just a couple of hundred dollars, which means they will lose a substantial sum of money. They are generally willing to help any way they can if doing so will increase their profits.

How to Avoid Late Payments

A late payment can do some serious damage to your payment history so the best thing to do is to prevent it from occurring in the first place. It’s a no-brainer, but this is a common issue and it’s one that countless consumers have every single year. So, keep your credit card and loan payments stable with these tips.

Set Automatic Payments

Occasionally, consumers forget to pay. Life is hectic, they have a lot of responsibilities to juggle, and it’s easy for them to overlook a single payment. If this happens, it should be caught and fixed before the 30-day period ends and the credit bureaus find out. But even then, fees can accumulate, and problems escalate.

To avoid this, set up automatic payments so your minimum payment is paid in full every month. You can do this for all debt, including student loan payments. Just make sure you have the money in your account to meet this minimum charge, otherwise, you could be paying for debt on one account by accumulating it on another.

Set a Budget

A credit card is designed to encourage you to spend money you don’t have. You’re buying things you can’t afford now in the hope or expectation that you will cover them later, only to realize that you’re struggling so much you can’t even cover the minimum payment.

If you ever find yourself in a situation like this, it’s time to analyze your finances and create a sensible budget. You may feel like you have a good idea of what you’re spending each month and how this compares to your gross income, but the vast majority of consumers seriously underestimate their expenses.

Improve Your Credit by Fixing Your Debt-to-Income Ratio

Calculate your debt to income ratio by comparing your total debt (credit card payments, student loans) to your gross income. The higher this is, the harder you need to work, and the less you need to spend on your credit card. 

Your debt to income ratio should be your central focus when seeking to improve your credit score, because while it’s not considered for loan and credit card applications, it does play a role in mortgage applications and is important for calculating affordability.

Conclusion: It’s Not the End of the World

A late payment can strike a disastrous blow to your credit report, but it’s not the end of the world and you do have a few options at your disposal. Not only do you have up to 30 (and sometimes 60) days to make the payment and prevent a derogatory market, but you can file a claim to have it removed in the event that it does appear.

And if none of that works, a little credit repair can get you back on track. Just keep making those payments every month, talk with your lender when you find yourself in trouble, and remember that nothing is unfixable where credit is concerned.

Late Payments, Credit Scores and Credit Reports is a post from Pocket Your Dollars.

Source: pocketyourdollars.com

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What’s a Good Credit Score?

Whats a good credit score?

Your credit score is incredibly important. In fact, this number is so influential on various financial aspects of life that it can determine your eligibility to be approved for credit cards, car loans, home mortgages, apartment rentals, and even certain jobs. Knowing what your credit score is, and what range it falls under, is important so you can decide what loans you can to apply for, and if necessary, if steps need to be taken to improve your score.

So what constitutes a good credit score?

The Credit Score Range Scale

The most common credit score used by lenders and other business entities is the FICO score, which ranges from 300 to 850. The bigger the number, the better. To create credit scores, FICO uses information from one of the three major credit bureau agencies – Equifax, Experian or TransUnion. Knowing this range is important because it will help you understand where your specific number fits in.

Know what factors influence a good credit score to help improve your own credit health.

As far as lenders are concerned, the lower a consumer’s number on this scale, the higher the risk. Lenders will often deny a loan application for those with a lower credit score because of this risk. If they do approve a loan application, they’ll make consumers pay for such risk by means of a much higher interest rate.

Understand Your Credit Score

Within the credit score range are different categories, ranging from bad to excellent. Here is how credit score ranges are broken down:

Bad credit: 630 or Lower

Lenders generally consider a credit score of 630 or lower as bad credit. A number of past activities could have landed you in this category, including a string of late or missed credit card payments, maxed out credit cards, or even bankruptcy. Younger people who have no credit history will probably find themselves in this category until they have had time to develop their credit. If you’re in this bracket, you’ll be faced with higher interest rates and fees, and your selection of credit cards will be restricted.

Whats a good credit score?

Fair Credit: 630-689

This is considered an average score. Lingering within this range is most likely the result of having too much “bad” debt, such as high credit card debt that’s grazing the limit. Within this bracket, lenders will have a harder time trusting you with their loan.

Good Credit: 690-719

Having a credit score within this range will afford you more choices when it comes to credit cards, an easier time getting approved for various loans, and being charged much lower interest rates on such loans.

Excellent Credit: 720-850

Consider your credit score excellent if your number falls within this bracket. You’ll be able to take advantage of all the fringe benefits that come with credit cards, and will almost certainly be approved for loans at the lowest interest rates possible.

Understand the factors that make up a good credit score.

Whats a good credit score?

What’s Your Credit Score?

Federal law allows consumers to check their credit score for free once every 12 months. But if you want to check more often than this, a fee is typically charged. Luckily, there are other avenues to take to check your credit score.

Mint has recently launched an online tool that allows you to check your credit score for free without the need for a credit card. Here you’ll be able to learn the different components that affect your score, and how you can improve it.

You’ll be able to see your score with your other accounts to give you a complete picture of your finances. Knowing what your credit score is can help determine if you need to improve it to help you get the things you need or want. Visit Mint.com to find out more about how you can access your credit score – for free.

Lisa Simonelli Rennie is a freelance web content creator who enjoys writing on all sorts of topics, including personal finance, investing in stocks, mortgages, real estate investments, and anything else to do with the world of economics.

The post What’s a Good Credit Score? appeared first on MintLife Blog.

Source: mint.intuit.com

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Minimum Payments on a Credit Card

Your minimum monthly payment is the lowest amount that you need to pay on your credit card balance. Any less could result in a derogatory mark, any more will clear more of the principal. 

Your monthly payment is one of the most important aspects of your credit card debt and failure to understand this could seriously impact your credit score and leave marks on your credit report that remain for up to 7 years.

With that in mind, let’s take a closer look at how these payments operate and how you can quickly clear your credit card debt.

How Minimum Payments on a Credit Card are Calculated

The minimum payment is calculated as a percentage of the total balance at the end of the month. This percentage ranges from 2% to 5%, but it has been known to go lower. 

As an example, if you have a $5,000 credit card balance and are required to pay 5% a month, then your monthly payment will be $250. However, this only covers the principal, which is the money that you borrowed. It does not cover the interest, which is where things get a little complicated and expensive.

What Influences Your Minimum Monthly Payment?

The reason credit card interest is so high is because it compounds. This means that if you have an annual percentage rate of 20% and a debt of $20,000, that debt will climb to $24,000, at which point the next billing cycle will commence and this time you’ll be charged 20% on $24,000 and not $20,000.

However, credit card interest is calculated daily, not yearly. To arrive at your daily percentage rate, simply divide your interest rate by 365 (the number of days in a year) and then multiply this by your daily balance.

For example, if we stick with that 20% interest rate, then the daily rate will be 0.00054%. If we multiply this with the daily balance, we get an interest rate of $2.7 for the first day. Multiply this by 30, for the total days in a billing cycle, and it’s $81. That’s your total interest for the first month.

So, when we calculate the 2% minimum monthly payment, we’re calculating it against $5,081, not $5,000, which means we get a total of $101.62, reducing the balance to just $479.38.

In other words, you pay over $100, but reduce the balance by a little over $20 when you make that monthly payment. If penalty fees and interest rates are added to that, it will reduce in even smaller increments.

Pros and Cons of Only Paying the Minimum Payment on your Credit Card

As discussed above, it’s imperative that you make the minimum payment, avoiding any late payment charges or credit score reductions. However, if you only make those minimum payments every month then it will take a long time to clear your balance and you may struggle to keep your head above water.

The Benefits of Paying More Than the Minimum

Many borrowers struggle to pay more than the minimum not because they don’t have the money, but because they fail to see the benefits. They focus on the short-term and not the long-term, seeing an extra $100 payment as a lost $100 in the present, as opposed to a saved $500 in the future.

However, if you can get over this mindset and start paying more than the minimum, you will do your future self a huge favor, helping with all of the following:

Shorten the Term and Lessen the Interest

Every extra dollar that you add to your minimum payment can help you get out of debt quicker than if you simply stick with the minimum. This is true for all debts—a higher monthly payment means that more money goes towards the principal, which means there is less interest to compound.

Credit card debt is like a snowball gathering momentum as it rolls, and this is exacerbated every time you miss a payment and are hit with penalty fees. By paying more than the minimum, you’re taking a giant chunk out of that snowball and slowing its progression.

You’ll Improve Your Credit Utilization

Your credit utilization ratio is one of the most important parts of your credit report, counting for 30% of your total. This ratio takes your total available credit (such as a credit limit on a credit card) and then compares it to total debt (such as the balance on that credit card). The higher the number, the more of your credit has been used and the more your credit score will suffer.

Every time you pay more of your credit card balance, you’re reducing this score and significantly boosting your credit score.

Avoid Maxing Out Your Balance

Not only will a maxed-out credit card do some serious damage to your credit utilization score, but it can also have a direct impact on your credit score on the whole. Lenders don’t want to see it and credit bureaus will punish you for it. If you’re still using the card and only paying the minimum, you may be stuck in a cycle of persistent debt, but by paying more and using it less, you can prevent that.

You May Get a Better Credit Limit

Credit card issuers monitor their customer’s activities very closely. If they clear their balances every month without issue, they are more inclined to increase their credit limit, offer them rewards, and generally provide them with good opportunities. If they are accumulating large amounts of credit card debt and only meeting their minimum payments, they’ll be less inclined to do any of those things.

It always helps to get on a creditor’s good side, because you never know when you will need that improve credit limit or access to that generous rewards scheme.

What Happens if you Only Make the Minimum Payment?

If you only pay the minimum, the debt will take a long time to clear and you’ll repay huge sums of interest in that time. If we go back to the previous example and assume an APR of 20%, a balance of $5,000 and a minimum payment of 2%, you will repay over 400% in interest alone and it will take you decades to repay the debt.

Thankfully, very few credit card providers will actually let you pay such a small amount on such a substantial debt. But even if we increase the minimum payment to 5%, it still looks abysmal for the borrower. It would take them about 9 years to pay the balance, requiring $250 a month and paying close to $2,500 in interest.

Although it’s more realistic, this is still a poor option, especially when you consider the card will still be active and you may still be using it, which means that every time you make a repayment, you’re adding more debt and offsetting all your hard work.

Your credit score will not suffer if you only make the minimum payment. Providing you make it on time then you will build a respectable payment history, a stable credit report, and a credit score that is sure to impress lenders. However, it won’t look great for your finances as you’re giving yourself an expensive liability that will cripple your debt-to-income ratio and your credit utilization ratio for years to come.

Are There Any Advantages to Just Paying the Minimum?

The only advantage to paying just the minimum is that you will have more money in your pocket at the end of the month, which will allow you to make additional investments and purchases that would otherwise not be available to you. However, this is a pretty narrow-minded way of looking at it, because while you will have more cash in the long-term, it comes at the expense of many additional risks and obligations, not to mention thousands of dollars’ worth of additional interest paid over the term.

What Happens if you Can’t Pay the Minimum Payment?

If there is a late payment or a missed payment, your creditor may charge you a penalty fee or a penalty rate. If your payment is due for more than 30-days they may also report you to the credit bureaus, at which point a derogatory mark will appear on your credit report and your credit score will drop.

This can happen even with a single missed payment, which is why you should never simply skip a payment on the basis that you’ll just double-up next time around.

Instead, contact your creditor, explain your situation, and see if there is anything they can do to help you. They may say no, but it doesn’t hurt to ask, and, in most cases, they will offer you some kind of reprieve. After all, they want their money, and if they can increase their chances of getting paid by providing you with some leeway, they’ll often be more than happy to do it.

Some people believe that you can simply pay a few dollars and it will count as a minimum payment and not show on your credit report. This is a myth. Technically, any payment that doesn’t meet the full minimum requirement can be classed as a late payment and can lead to fees and derogatory marks.

Resources to Lower Minimum Payments on a Credit Card

It’s important to keep a close eye on your credit card statement and activity at all times. Monitor your spending, making sure it doesn’t go overboard, and if you find yourself struggling to make payments at any time, checkout the following resources and options to get the help you need:

  • Credit Counselors: Speak with a trained expert who has helped many individuals in a similar position. They will discuss your finances and your debts and will help you to find a solution.
  • Debt Management: A debt management plan can help when you’re struggling to meet your debt obligations and have a huge debt-to-income ratio. They will provide assistance and help you swap multiple debts for a single consolidation loan.
  • Debt Settlement: An option that works best for individuals with multiple debts and missed payments. It’s one of the cheapest ways to clear personal loan and credit card debt, as well as other forms of unsecured debt.
  • Debt Consolidation: Another consolidation loan option, this time with a long term, ensuring that you pay less per month but more over the term. This is a good option if you’re stuck in a tricky spot right now and need to reduce your outgoings.

In all the above cases, you can use the NMLS Consumer Access site to find a legitimate and reputable company or professional working within the financial sector. You can also use resources like the Better Business Bureau as well as the many guides, reviews, and help files right here on the Pocket Your Dollars website.

How to Reduce the Balance on a Credit Card Debt

One of the best ways to reduce your balance is to initiate a balance transfer. As the name suggests, this entails moving your balance from one card to another. Balance transfer cards entice you by offering a 0% APR on all transfers and this lasts for up to 18% with the best providers. 

In that time, you won’t pay any interest on your balance, which means all your monthly payment will go towards the principal and you can reduce your debt in huge leaps as opposed to small steps.

These cards are not without their issues, however. You will need a good credit score to get a card that has a good APR and balance transfer offer. If you don’t, and you fail to clear the balance during that introductory period, you may be paying more interest than you were before.

In most cases, though, these cards will be just what you need to ease the burden of mounting credit card debts and get back into the black. Take a look at our guide to the best balance transfer cards to learn more and discover how you can move your current balance to a card that has more preferable terms, in the short-term at least.

The Bottom Line: Clear that Balance

A minimum payment is the least amount you need to commit to a credit card balance. If credit card debt was a house party, the minimum payment would be the equivalent of showing up, saying your introductions, and then hiding in the corner for the rest of the night. If you really want to make an impact, you need to be proactive.

It doesn’t have to be twice or thrice the size of your minimum payment. It doesn’t have to be a consistent sum that you pay every month, but it does have to be something. Don’t worry if it’s only 1% or 2% of the balance, because every additional payment helps. Just pay whatever you can afford, whenever you can afford it. A small amount of money today can save you a huge sum of money in the future.

Minimum Payments on a Credit Card is a post from Pocket Your Dollars.

Source: pocketyourdollars.com

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How Does a HELOC Affect a Credit Score?

Yes, home equity lines of credit (HELOC) can have an impact on your credit score. Whether that impact to your credit score is negative or positive depends on how you manage your HELOC. It also depends on your overall financial situation and ability to make timely payments on any amount you borrow via your home equity line of credit. Find out more about how a HELOC affects a credit score.

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What Is a HELOC?

HELOC stands for home equity line of credit. If you have equity in your home, you can use it to take out a line of credit up to that value. Whether or not you’re approved for a HELOC depends on your credit history. However, a HELOC is not a second mortgage.

Unlike a mortgage, you can take out money from your HELOC as you need it—using only the amount you need—and paying your loan back in a revolving manner or in monthly payments. It works a lot like a credit card but with a larger available credit limit. For example, if you have $40,000 in equity and get approved for a HELOC for the total amount, you can take out up to that much in funds.

You might take out $10,000 to put siding on your house and begin paying back that amount according to your lending agreement. Later, you might want to cover some of your child’s college tuition, using another $5,000 of the HELOC. You continuously payback what you borrowed on the equity line unless you have paid back all of the balance.

It’s important to note that a HELOC is credit that is extended based on your home’s value. That means if you default on your home equity line of credit—you take out money and never make the required payments—you could eventually be dealing with a foreclosure situation.

How is a HELOC Different from a Home Equity Loan?

HELOCs and home equity loans do share some similarities. In both cases, you’ll be taking out a loan from your home equity. But while your home equity loan will give you the money all at once, a HELOC gives you a set amount of money, as you need it, that you can borrow and payback.

Home equity loans are similar to any other loan—an equity loan you take out will have a fixed interest rate, lump sum, etc. On the other hand, home equity lines of credit do have an interest rate, but they’re typically lower and only applied to the amount of money you take out.

Is a Home Equity Line of Credit a Good Idea?

Whether or not any type of credit is a good idea depends on your personal financial situation. If you’re drowning in debt and using your home equity to pay the bills, you’re just swapping one type of financial issue for another. But if you’re using your HELOC to payoff high-interest credit card debt so you only have a single, lower-interest debt to worry about, this might be a smart move.

Only you can decide if a home equity line of credit is a good idea for you. However, if you have a poor credit score or other negative factors, you may not get approved for a HELOC. Or, the HELOC may come with unfavorable terms that make it too expensive to use as a form of credit. You may want to work on fixing your credit before applying for home equity lending.

How Does a HELOC Affect a Credit Score?

Any type of credit you use can impact your credit score. When you take out a HELOC, you extend how much available credit you have. If you open the line and don’t use any of the credit, your credit utilization rate will be improved, which could also potentially improve your credit score. And if you make timely payments on credit you borrow from this equity line, those are positives that can be reported on your credit history.

On the other hand, if you take out a large portion of your equity line, you have a higher credit utilization rate, which can hurt your score. Failing to make timely payments could also potentially drop your score. Since HELOC rates can be variable, you must plan for fluctuating payment requirements to avoid this issue.

Do Unused Credit Lines Hurt Your Credit Score?

Unused lines of credit typically improve your utilization rate, which would improve your credit score. However, HELOCs are a type of revolving credit, just like a credit card.

If you have a huge amount of unused credit, some lenders might see you as a potential risk—especially if you don’t have the income to back up this credit. This is because you could suddenly take out a large amount on this equity line without the income to pay it back, putting your other debts at risk too.

What Are the Benefits of a HELOC?

Just like any other loan, there are pros and cons to taking out a HELOC. The benefits of a home equity line of credit include the ability to get a large amount of credit based on your home’s value and flexible options for managing that credit. You can use it as you need it, which gives you more control over what type of payments you need to make at any given time.

What Are the Disadvantages of a Home Equity Line of Credit?

The biggest disadvantage of a HELOC is that it’s tied to your home, which means there’s a slight risk of foreclosure or a home lien if you don’t make your payments. The payments may also work on a variable interest, which means this isn’t always the most affordable credit option for homeowners.

It can also look like a large credit card account on your report, so if you only need a small amount of credit on a short-term basis, you might want to consider personal loan options instead.

The post How Does a HELOC Affect a Credit Score? appeared first on Credit.com.

Source: credit.com

Bank Accounts, Budgeting, Insurance, Investing

The Top Financial Resolutions for 2021

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The most surefire way to achieve your financial resolutions and stay within that budget you made is to earn more money.

1. Make A Realistic Budget And Stick To It

Source: thepennyhoarder.com
And the truth is, your credit card company doesn’t really care. It’s just getting rich by ripping you off with high interest rates. But a website called AmOne wants to help.
The benefit? You’ll be left with one bill to pay each month. And because personal loans have lower interest rates (AmOne rates start at 3.49% APR), you’ll get out of debt that much faster. Plus: No credit card payment this month.
Whatever your financial goals are this year, we know you can achieve them! Here’s to making 2021 your best financial year yet.

2. Look For A Better Job: Make up to $69/Hour

Have you made your resolutions yet? It can feel a little daunting trying to figure out what you need to focus on, so we made it easy: These are the resolutions everyone else is taking on in 2021, according to a survey by Wallethub, and you should, too. Plus — how to accomplish them.

Credit Sesame does not guarantee any of these results, and some may even see a decrease in their credit score. Any score improvement is the result of many factors, including paying bills on time, keeping credit balances low, avoiding unnecessary inquiries, appropriate financial planning and developing better credit habits.
When it comes to your credit score, it’s important to stay organized and keep tabs on it. After all, it’ll play an essential role in any big purchase you want to make — whether that’s a home or a car.
AmOne won’t make you stand in line or call your bank, either. And if you’re worried you won’t qualify, it’s free to check online. It takes just two minutes, and it could help you pay off your debt years faster.
Enter your email address here to get a free Aspiration Spend and Save account. After you confirm your email, securely link your bank account so they can start helping you get extra cash. Your money is FDIC insured and they use a military-grade encryption which is nerd talk for “this is totally safe.”
You don’t have to be an accountant or even really good at math to be successful in this business. In fact, all you need are decent computer skills and a passion for helping business owners tackle real-world problems. The ability to stay moderately organized is helpful, too.
If you’re under the age of 54 and want to get a fast life insurance quote without a medical exam or even getting up from the couch, get a free quote from Bestow.
Those are the perks of working as a bookkeeper, says Ben Robinson, a CPA and business owner who teaches others to become virtual bookkeepers through online courses called Bookkeepers.com.

3. Pay Off Credit Card Debt: Wipe Out All Your Debt by Tomorrow

Kari Faber is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder.
Can you open an excel spreadsheet? Does earning an hour sound appealing? How about the freedom to work remotely while helping others succeed?
James Cooper, of Atlanta, used Credit Sesame to raise his credit score nearly 300 points in six months.*** “They showed me the ins and outs — how to dot the I’s and cross the T’s,” he said.
So if you’re looking to get your credit score back on track — or even if it is on track and you want to bump it up — try using a free website called Credit Sesame.
50% of your take-home income every month covers your fixed expenses — rent, utilities, groceries, minimum debt payments, etc. 30% goes towards the things you can live without, but don’t want to (like food delivery, a Netflix subscription and travel). Finally, the last 20% of your monthly income is dedicated to your financial goals.
We recommend the 50/30/20 method. It’s simple, yet effective, and has a bit of a cult following, too! Here’s how it shakes out:

4. Monitor Your Credit Report

It’s easy to get swept up in the joy that is payday and immediately start buying things you don’t need. But as the final financial resolution on this list, paying your bills right away can help keep the rest of your goals on track.
If you owe your credit card companies ,000 or less, AmOne will match you with a low-interest loan you can use to pay off every single one of your balances.
Have you thought about how your family would manage without your income if something happened to you? How they’ll pay the bills? Send the kids through school? Now’s a good time to start planning for the future by looking into a term life insurance policy.
This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.
Did your credit score take a dive this year? Or is still stuck at a “fair” grade? Then monitoring any changes on your credit reporting and working to improve your score should be one of your financial resolutions for this year, too.
Within two minutes, you’ll get access to your credit score, any debt-carrying accounts and a handful of personalized tips to improve your score. You’ll even be able to spot any errors holding you back (one in five reports have one).

5. Get Insured In Case Of A Catastrophe. You Could Give Your Family up to $1 Million

***Like Cooper, 60% of Credit Sesame members see an increase in their credit score; 50% see at least a 10-point increase, and 20% see at least a 50-point increase after 180 days.
Rates start at just a month. The peace of mind knowing your family is taken care of is priceless.
It’s easy to slip away from our good financial habits as the year goes on, so it’s particularly important to find a budgeting system that works for your lifestyle and won’t be hard to maintain.
So prioritize your emergency fund this year. If you don’t have one yet, start by opening an account that will help you grow your money.
2020 was actually a good year for paying down credit card debt — Americans did more of it this year than they ever have.

6. Add A Month To Your Emergency Fund

Having an emergency fund is important; you know that. But it’s easy to deprioritize it when things are going fine. And as 2020 showed us, you can lose your job at the drop of a hat, meaning a full emergency fund can be what keeps your lights on.
This one sounds familiar, right? Oft-regarded as Old Faithful when it comes to New Years’ resolutions, it holds that title for good reason. Having a budget you can actually stick to will set you up for financial success, no matter what your goals are.
You’re probably thinking: I don’t have the time or money for that. But your application can take minutes — and you could leave your family up to million with a company called Bestow.
Not too shabby!
Talk about a scary year. If a global pandemic didn’t have you thinking about your own mortality, what else could? With that thought in mind, people are adding “buy life insurance” to their list of 2021 to-dos.

7. Pay Bills Right After Payday

But what if you could create that higher-paying and more rewarding job? There’s an idea…
Want to check for yourself? It’s free and only takes about 90 seconds to sign up.
But there’s still work to be done, which is why paying off credit card debt is one of the top financial resolutions this year.  Because if you still have credit card debt, you know. The anxiety, the interest rates, the fear you’re never going to escape…
It means you can avoid late fees on your utilities, which can really add up and destroy your budget. You can pay off your credit card debt without mounting interest charges. And you can prevent any hiccups that would dock your credit score a few points.
Robinson shares what it takes to be a virtual bookkeeper, plus tips for making this career work for you in his free class at Bookkeepers.com. If you stick with the classes, you could be running your own business in just a few months.
One way to do that is with a company called Aspiration. It lets you earn up to 16 times the average interest on the money in your account.
2020 made that really hard for most people. Which is why finding a better job, that you actually enjoy — and will pay you more — is a top resolution for 2021.
You can make up to an hour, according to data from Intuit, the creator of QuickBooks, and you have no commute. It’s a great opportunity for parents who want a part-time job, recent college grads or anyone who wants to bring in real money working from home.

Car Insurance

How To Get The Most Out Of Your Auto Insurance Coverage

Recent data suggests that the average driver will spend close to $100,000 on car insurance over their lifetime. That’s a staggering sum of money, especially when you consider estimates that suggest Americans will pay over $500,000 in that time just to own, operate, and maintain a car.

$100,000 is a lot of money to spend on something that you may never benefit from, something that you’re only buying because your state authorities told you too. But while car insurance policies are essential, the amount that the average consumer spends on them is not.

In this guide, we’ll look at the ways you can save money on auto insurance premiums and get the most value out of this necessary expense.

Build Your Credit Report

Never underestimate the value of a high credit score and a clean credit report. Not only can it help when applying for a car loan, increasing the value of the car you can purchase and decreasing the interest rates you’re charged, but it will also reduce your car insurance rates.

There is no easy and quick way to turn a bad credit report into a good credit report, but there are a few simple changes you can make that could increase your score enough to make a difference. These include:

  • Stop applying for new lines of credit.
  • Become an authorized user on a respectable user’s credit card.
  • Increase credit limits on your active credit cards.
  • Pay off as much debt as you can, focusing on credit cards and personal loans first.
  • Don’t close your credit card accounts after clearing them.

If you don’t have any credit at all, which is true for many teen drivers getting behind the wheel for the first time, try the following options:

  • Credit builder loans
  • Secured credit cards
  • Lending circles

Choose Your Car Carefully

A new car is a great way to get a high-tech, customized vehicle, but it’s not ideal if you’re looking to save on insurance costs.

New vehicles cost more to insure because they are a greater liability, with more expensive parts and greater overall value. If you want to save on your auto insurance coverage, look for a car that is at least a few years old, has a number of safety features and a high safety rating.

The cheaper, the better, but only to a point. You want something that won’t leave you in complete financial ruin if it’s wrecked in a car accident and you don’t have the insurance to cover it, but something that won’t breakdown every few miles and leave you stranded and broke every other week.

Drive Safely and Prove Your Worth

Your driving record is just as important as your credit report, if not more so. The more at-fault accidents, traffic tickets, and insurance claims you have, the higher your car insurance rates will be.

A single conviction won’t last forever and the impact will eventually dissipate, so even if you have a few blemishes on your record now, just keep driving safely and you’ll be able to reap the benefits before long.

It takes time to prove your worth to insurance companies, but there are a few things you can do to expedite this process. The first is to take a defensive driving course. In some states and for some demographics (mostly seniors and young drivers), you’ll be offered a discount for completing one of these courses.

The next step is to consider a usage-based program. These are offered by most major insurance companies and can track your driving habits to determine what kind of driver you are. If you’re driving safe and doing very low mileage, you could start seeing some noticeable changes in just a few months. The majority of providers will even give you a discount just for signing up.

Pay Everything Upfront

Most policyholders pay their premiums monthly and it may seem like that’s the best thing to do. $100 a month seems infinitely more manageable than $1,200 a year. 

It is an attitude that many people have, and it’s one that often leads to debt and poor decisions.

Millions of Americans have credit card debt because a $200 monthly payment seems more achievable than a $5,000 payoff, even though the former carries a phenomenal interest rate. It’s also why countless first-time buyers rush into getting mortgages with small down payments and high-interest rates, even though doing so could mean they are paying twice as much money over the term.

Whenever you can benefit from making an upfront payment, do it. This is true for your loan debt and credit card debt, and it’s also true for your car insurance premiums.

Many insurance providers offer you an upfront payment discount of up to 5%. It doesn’t sound like much, but every little helps. If you have a $3,000 car insurance policy, that 5% adds up to $150. Add a few more discounts and you can save even more money and make an even bigger dent in your insurance rates.

Combine Policies and Vehicles

Insurance companies that offer multiple types of insurance tend to offer discounts when you purchase several products from them.

Known as multi-policy discounts or “bundling”, these offers are common with homeowners insurance and auto insurance, but they are also offered with renters insurance and life insurance.

You can combine several vehicles onto the same auto insurance policy, as well, saving much more than if you were to purchase separate policies.

These discounts are essential for multi-car households, but they are not limited to cars. Many insurers will also let you add boats, ATVs, motorcycles, and other vehicles onto the same policy.

Shop Around

Before you settle on a single policy, shop around, compare as many car insurance quotes as you can, try multiple different insurance options (uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, comprehensive coverage, collision coverage) and make sure you’re getting the lowest rates for the best cover.

Too many drivers make the mistake of going with the same provider their friends or parents have; the same provider they have used for a number of years. In doing so, they could be missing out on huge savings. 

You could be forgiven for thinking that all providers offer similar rates and that the difference between them is minor. But regardless of your age, gender, and state, the difference between one provider and the next could be up to 200%!

Check if You’re Covered Elsewhere

Car insurance companies offer a number of add-ons and optional coverage options. These are enticing, as they cover you for numerous eventualities and some of them cost just a few dollars extra a month. But all of those dollars add up and could result in you paying much more than you need for cover you already have.

Roadside assistance is a great example of this. It will help you if you are stranded by the side of the road, assisting with services such as tire changes, fuel delivery, towing, and more. But if you have a premium credit card or are a member of an automobile club, you may already have that cover.

The same goes for rental car coverage, which is often purchased at the rental car counter. Although it has its uses, if you have an auto insurance policy, travel insurance, and a premium credit card, you’re probably already covered. In fact, many Visa credit cards offer this service completely free of charge when you use your Visa to pay the bill, but only if you reject the waivers sold by the rental car company.

Bottom Line: Best Auto Insurance Companies

​Car insurance coverage varies from state to state and provider to provider. There is no “best” company, as even the ones with consistently affordable rates will not be the best option in all states or for all demographics.

In our research, we found that GEICO was consistently one of the cheapest providers for good drivers, bad credit drivers, and even high risk drivers. GEICO also offers personal injury protection, collision insurance, medical payments, uninsured motorist coverage, and more, making them the most complete provider for the majority of drivers.

However, in some states, local farm bureaus come out on top, offering very cheap bodily injury liability coverage and property damage liability coverage, and giving policyholders a level of care and attention that they might not find with the bigger, national providers. USAA, which offers cheap car insurance to members of the military, also leads the way in the majority of states, but only for those who meet the criteria.

Simply put, there is no right insurance provider for you, just like there is no right coverage. That’s why it’s important to shop around, chop and change your coverage options, and don’t assume that any type of coverage or provider is right for you until you’ve looked at the numbers.

 

 

How To Get The Most Out Of Your Auto Insurance Coverage is a post from Pocket Your Dollars.

Source: pocketyourdollars.com