loans http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/1008/all en-US What to Expect After These 5 Personal Financial Disasters http://www.wisebread.com/what-to-expect-after-these-5-personal-financial-disasters <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/what-to-expect-after-these-5-personal-financial-disasters" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-625592664.jpg" alt="what to expect after financial disasters" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Financial hardships can happen despite the most careful planning and saving. If you're facing a crisis, read on to learn what you can expect to happen and how you can handle these challenges. There are always options, and you can recover from even the most feared financial situations.</p> <h2>1. You've lost your primary source of income</h2> <p>There are many reasons why you might be facing a sudden, <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-handle-a-sudden-loss-of-income" target="_blank">devastating loss of income</a>. Sometimes family, personal, or medical situations make it impossible for you to continue working; in other cases, the job itself ends, and you have to start over again. Losing your primary income source, of course, hits you hard financially. Other income &mdash; a partner's salary, perhaps, or side job &mdash; can help alleviate the financial impact. But that help is usually limited, either in amount or in duration. Here are a few things you can expect to happen.</p> <h3>Loss of savings</h3> <p>Losing your income means you quickly start relying on your emergency fund and any other savings you've accumulated. If you're able to quickly reduce your expenses, you can make your savings last longer.</p> <h3>Increased debt</h3> <p>If your savings aren't adequate, or if you face unexpected financial needs, you may find yourself debt-dependent in order to handle incoming bills. The worst case scenario is when you have to rely on high-interest debt (such as credit cards) to keep up.</p> <h3>Financial stress</h3> <p>Dealing with income loss, financial insecurity, and all the changes you have to make as a result quickly leads to stress. Stress, unfortunately, is no friend to you and decreases your ability to make smart, long-term decisions.</p> <h3>Change in lifestyle<strong> </strong></h3> <p>You'll need to cut your expenses as much as possible to handle income loss; though these changes aren't necessarily bad, they can cause emotional pain, personal discomfort, and induce more stress. Change is difficult even in positive circumstances, and change induced by financial crisis exacerbates stress and insecurity.</p> <h3>What you can do</h3> <p>There are many ways you can positively handle a loss of income:</p> <ul> <li>Do your best to reduce your immediate expenses, even if only temporarily.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Call and negotiate for delayed payment plans with creditors or other major billers. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/pay-these-6-bills-first-when-money-is-tight?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Pay These 6 Bills First When Money Is Tight</a>)<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Get some money coming in; even a small amount of what you used to make will help you deal with bills and expenses. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-come-up-with-1000-in-the-next-30-days?ref=seealso" target="_blank">How to Come Up With $1,000 in the Next 30 Days</a>)<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Reach out to your personal and professional network for work opportunities.</li> </ul> <h2>2. You've defaulted on a loan</h2> <p><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/youve-defaulted-on-your-loan-now-what" target="_blank">Defaulting on a loan</a> feels like one of the worst possible financial situations. However, getting in over your head financially can happen to anyone. It doesn't have to end your financial future, but it will have some impact on your financial present. Here's what can happen after defaulting on a loan.</p> <h3>Lowered credit score</h3> <p>Late payments, missed payments, and account closures on debts can all bring your credit score down. A low credit score isn't the end of the world, but it will limit your ability to establish credit, get loans, or even rent a house or buy a car.</p> <h3>Calls from collection agencies</h3> <p>Different lenders have different rules, but after some period of nonpayment, your loan will most likely be passed on to a collection agency. While some agencies maintain a professional tone and approach, some do not and might become intrusive or aggressive. Even with courteous collectors, it's stressful and unpleasant to get letters and calls demanding debt repayment you know you can't afford. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/account-in-collections-heres-how-to-fix-it?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Account in Collections? Here's How to Fix It</a>)</p> <h3>Repossession of collateral</h3> <p>If the loan you've defaulted on has collateral &mdash; such as a mortgage or car loan &mdash; you may find yourself facing repossession. Home foreclosure is usually a last resort, as it's messy and costly for mortgage companies to handle.</p> <h3>What you can do</h3> <p>The best way to handle defaulting on a loan is with proactive negotiation. Try these steps:</p> <ul> <li>Negotiate a payment plan for delayed and/or split payments in order to avoid collection agencies.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Negotiate a debt settlement with the bank or credit holder. You'll usually need to make a cash payment, but only for a percentage of the total amount owed in order to clear the debt entirely.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Contact your mortgage company if the loan defaulted on is your house mortgage; explain your situation and ask them to help you work out an affordable, alternate payment plan. They don't want your house; they want your cash, and they may be willing to negotiate terms and minimum payments.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Examine options to <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-tricks-to-consolidating-your-debt-and-saving-money" target="_blank">consolidate all your debt</a> into a single, smaller payment you can afford.</li> </ul> <h2>3. You've lost money in an investment</h2> <p>So you took some of your hard-won savings and decided to invest. Maybe it was in a friend's startup, a real estate project, or a stock that seemed like a sure thing. It didn't work out, and now you've got to handle the fallout. Assess the impact and start taking positive steps forward. Here are a few things you might initially face:</p> <h3>Loss of money</h3> <p>The most obvious consequence, of course, is the loss of your money; that hurts. Remember, however, that just as you lost money, you can also invest and save money. One painful investment loss does not poison the rest of your savings or investments.</p> <h3>Loss of confidence</h3> <p>The psychological impact of a bad money move can make you doubt your own financial prowess and decisions. It's okay to question yourself, but you want to learn, not stay stuck. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/your-loss-aversion-is-costing-you-more-than-your-fomo?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Your Loss Aversion Is Costing You More Than Your FOMO</a>)</p> <h3>Smaller retirement savings</h3> <p>If you were counting on the return from this investment as a key part of your retirement savings, you're now facing a major blow to your retirement plan.</p> <h3>Less ability to invest</h3> <p>A loss of money means, of course, lowered liquidity. You may not be financially able to build up savings quickly, which reduces your ability to invest and start rebuilding your portfolio.</p> <h3>What you can do</h3> <p>You don't have to run away from investing (nor should you!) because you made one choice that didn't work out. Start proactively using these options to recover:</p> <ul> <li>Meet with a financial planner to assess your options and go over any lingering financial questions or doubts.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-fast-ways-to-restock-an-emergency-fund-after-an-emergency" target="_blank">Rebuild emergency savings</a>, if you've used them up as part of your investment.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Lower expenses or increase income to replace what you've lost, by cutting back on expenses and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/14-best-side-jobs-for-fast-cash" target="_blank">adding in some side work</a> for a while.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Keep your savings steady; build up to a minimum investment amount and examine the safest high-yield options for your next investment.</li> </ul> <h2>4. You've racked up high-interest debt</h2> <p>It's never the plan to get stuck with high-interest debt. But with the right (or wrong) combination of life events and decisions, you can find yourself there. High-interest debt is a particularly bad kind of debt: If you can't make more than the minimum payments, your debt will continue to grow at a very fast rate. It's likely you'll be facing some unpleasant consequences such as:</p> <h3>Poor credit score<strong> </strong></h3> <p>If you've made a late payment or missed one altogether, your credit score can be affected negatively. And if you've accumulated more debt than you can manage, and you're frequently missing payments while you try to keep up, your credit score can take a big hit.</p> <h3>Loss of opportunities</h3> <p>When you're struggling to keep up with debt payments, you're limited. Whether it's an investment opportunity or the chance to enjoy some time off with friends, the burden of high-interest debt can keep you from affording the opportunities that come your way.</p> <h3>Financial embarrassment</h3> <p>Many people still struggle with feeling ashamed or embarrassed about having debt, even though having debt &mdash; a lot of it &mdash; is quite common. In fact, according to a 2017 poll conducted by Northwestern Mutual, 40 percent of Americans spend about half their monthly income on debt payments.</p> <h3>What you can do</h3> <p>Being burdened with high-interest debt may feel like a problem you can't solve, but there are steps you can take to reduce its impact on your life. Start with these actions:</p> <ul> <li>Communicate with the debt holder if you've fallen behind on payments. You can often negotiate a split or delayed payment, as long as you can guarantee a payment of some kind.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Learn about <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-7-best-credit-card-debt-elimination-strategies" target="_blank">debt repayment strategies</a> and which one might work best for you.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Whatever you do, don't add any more to your debt! Put away any active credit cards and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/are-you-spending-too-much-on-normal-expenses" target="_blank">reduce normal expenses</a> so you can live on your income without adding more debt to your life.</li> </ul> <h2>5. You're recovering from a divorce</h2> <p>Divorce not only has a huge impact on your emotional and psychological state, but also on your financial well-being. First, divorce itself is expensive; the average cost is between $15,000 and $20,000. In addition to footing your part of that bill, you might also face some of these huge costs:</p> <h3>Disproportional expenses</h3> <p>You might find that your expenses, carried over from your pre-divorce life, exceed your current, post-divorce income. You can reduce or eliminate expenses, but sometimes you're locked into agreements (such as a lease or a cellphone service contract) that keep you at a higher expense level than you can reasonably afford.</p> <h3>Lowered investment returns</h3> <p>If you and your former spouse were contributing to a joint account, you'll have to divide that up somehow in the divorce proceedings. If it's an even split, your half in an account by itself will produce reduced returns.</p> <h3>Big tax bills</h3> <p>If part of your divorce was to liquidate and divide all assets, you might be in for an unpleasant surprise when tax time rolls around. You may have to pay a hefty capital gains tax on certain investments or other assets that have been liquidated.</p> <h3>What you can do</h3> <p>By taking some smart steps forward, you can reduce the negative financial impact that a divorce has on you. Make these moves to take control of your financial life, post-divorce:</p> <ul> <li>Meet with a financial consultant as soon as possible to develop a plan for maximizing your investments and keeping your retirement savings on track. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-money-moves-to-make-the-moment-you-decide-to-get-divorced?ref=seealso" target="_blank">5 Money Moves to Make the Moment You Decide to Get Divorced</a>)<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Call and negotiate with contract holders to eliminate any lingering, too-high expenses. There may be a buyout option you can take.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>If possible, delay liquidation of shared assets or investments until you fully understand the taxes or fees that you'll face when they are liquidated. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-protect-yourself-financially-during-a-divorce-or-separation?ref=seealso" target="_blank">How to Protect Yourself Financially During a Divorce or Separation</a></li> </ul> <p>It's not easy to recover from a financial disaster, but recovery is always an option. The most important things you can do are, first, face the situation squarely in order to figure out what your best options truly are. You may have more than you think.</p> <p>Secondly, don't be afraid to ask for help, which doesn't necessarily mean asking for money. Rather, you may be able to get help from your creditors (lowered payments), from your network (job opportunities), from your local community (selling your car, building a side hustle), and more.</p> <p>Moving forward and rebuilding takes time, but it's within your power.</p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <div align="center"><a data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-count="above" data-pin-tall="true" data-pin-save="true" href="https://www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Fwhat-to-expect-after-these-5-personal-financial-disasters&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2FWhat%2520to%2520Expect%2520After%2520These%25205%2520Personal%2520Financial%2520Disasters.jpg&amp;description=What%20to%20Expect%20After%20These%205%20Personal%20Financial%20Disasters"></a></p> <script async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/What%20to%20Expect%20After%20These%205%20Personal%20Financial%20Disasters.jpg" alt="What to Expect After These 5 Personal Financial Disasters" width="250" height="374" /></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/annie-mueller">Annie Mueller</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-to-expect-after-these-5-personal-financial-disasters">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-complacency-is-keeps-you-from-financial-security">How Complacency Keeps You From Financial Security</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/its-never-too-late-to-fix-these-5-money-mistakes-from-your-past">It&#039;s Never Too Late to Fix These 5 Money Mistakes From Your Past</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dont-start-a-family-before-reaching-these-5-money-goals">Don&#039;t Start a Family Before Reaching These 5 Money Goals</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-ways-you-can-cut-costs-right-before-you-retire-0">6 Ways You Can Cut Costs Right Before You Retire</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/debunking-8-common-credit-score-myths">Debunking 8 Common Credit Score Myths</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance debt default disasters emergency funds expenses income loss investments job loss loans money mistakes side gigs Mon, 11 Sep 2017 08:00:05 +0000 Annie Mueller 2017980 at http://www.wisebread.com Debunking 8 Common Credit Score Myths http://www.wisebread.com/debunking-8-common-credit-score-myths <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/debunking-8-common-credit-score-myths" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/man_paying_with_credit_card_on_smart_phone.jpg" alt="Man paying with credit card on smartphone" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Credit: Like it or loathe it, most of us need it to survive. And the kind of credit we have access to is dependent on our credit scores. A mortgage, a car payment, credit cards, and even health care financing all impact and depend on our credit score.</p> <p>The problem is, there's a lot of misinformation out there, and if you believe it, you could be doing yourself a disservice. Here are the top myths about credit scores that we have debunked for you.</p> <h2>1. Closing a lot of credit accounts will improve your score</h2> <p>It seems logical, but it's completely incorrect. Credit scores are calculated in part by something called a debt-to-credit, or <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/this-one-ratio-is-the-key-to-a-good-credit-score?ref=internal" target="_blank">credit utilization</a>, ratio. The agencies calculating your score are looking at how much debt you have, and how much available credit you can tap into.</p> <p>So, if you have 10 credit cards with a combined credit availability of $100,000, and you've only used $15,000 of that available credit, your credit utilization ratio is 15 percent. This is considered good: You have 85 percent of your credit unused.</p> <p>Now, let's say you close seven accounts, because you just aren't using them. You still have $15,000 in debt, but now your overall available credit drops to $30,000. Your credit utilization ratio just skyrocketed to 50 percent, and that means your credit score takes a dive.</p> <p>Do not close credit card accounts like this. Simply put the cards you aren't using somewhere safe. And if you get the chance to increase your credit limit, do it. As long as you don't plan to max it out, it will help your credit score. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/stop-dont-cut-up-your-credit-cards?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Stop! Don't Cut Up Your Credit Cards</a>)</p> <h2>2. The amount of money you make has an impact on your score</h2> <p>Your credit score lists credit accounts, not income from employers. So, whether you're a CEO making $3 million a year, or an entry-level worker earning $30,000 a year, income is not a factor in determining your credit score. In fact, a rich CEO might actually have a terrible credit score, despite the money, because of a bankruptcy or series of late payments in the past.</p> <p>The only way income can have an impact on your credit score is if you live a Champagne lifestyle on a beer budget. If you are maxing out your cards, making minimum payments, and missing payments altogether, you will see your score take a big hit.</p> <h2>3. Credit scores change just a few times a year</h2> <p>Credit scores are changing all the time. The information used to calculate your score comes from the financial institutions you do business with. If you miss a payment, that will be reflected pretty quickly. If you close several accounts, that information will impact your score a lot sooner than in three to six months.</p> <p>In fact, if you look at your credit score right now, you will see when the last updates were made. Sometimes, it will be a matter of hours, rather than days or weeks. For this reason alone, you should be checking your credit score on a regular basis. When something negative happens, you can jump on that issue quickly and get it resolved.</p> <h2>4. A bad credit score makes it impossible to get credit or loans</h2> <p>This is a myth that comes from years of advertising messaging about needing a good credit score to get financing. Actually, most people can get financing, whether their score is up in the 800s or down in the 400s.</p> <p>A credit score represents a level of risk to financial institutions, and this will dictate the terms of any loan or credit your receive. For example, someone with a credit score of 800 is considered very low risk to the financial institution. They know this person pays on time, has a lot of available credit, and has longevity with his or her accounts. This will result in a low interest rate, and more available credit.</p> <p>Someone with a 450 credit score, on the other hand, is considered a very high risk client. Loans and credit offers will be available, but they will have oppressive interest rates for very little credit.</p> <h2>5. Checking your credit report damages your score</h2> <p>This is rooted in truth. A &quot;hard inquiry&quot; on your credit will have an impact on your score, albeit a small and temporary one. This happens when you apply for a loan, credit card, or other form of financial assistance. The hard inquiry dings your credit a little because if you do it a lot, say applying for 10&ndash;12 new accounts every month, you could be setting yourself up for some financial ruin down the line.</p> <p>However, if you, yourself, are examining your credit report, that is considered a &quot;soft inquiry.&quot; It will not have any impact on your score, and you can do it daily, or even hourly, without any consequences. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-credit-inquiries-affect-your-credit-score?Ref=seealso" target="_blank">How Credit Inquiries Affect Your Credit Score</a>)</p> <h2>6. If you don't have credit, you'll have a great credit report</h2> <p>Not in the U.S. In some countries, a lack of credit is considered a good thing. If you've never had a credit card or a car loan, you must be financially responsible. But in the U.S., you don't get a good credit score unless you have a good history with credit.</p> <p>The fact is, credit scores are built. Financial institutions want to know that you will borrow money and pay it back on time, with interest. If they can see you have done that well, and often, you are not a risk. If you have never had any kind of loan or credit card, you represent an unknown quantity. And unknown quantities do not sit well with people putting a stamp of approval on a credit line. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-use-credit-cards-to-improve-your-credit-score?ref=seealso" target="_blank">How to Use Credit Cards to Improve Your Credit Score</a>)</p> <h2>7. Carrying a balance on your credit card helps your score</h2> <p>No, it doesn't. To be fair, it doesn't hurt it either. But if you are under the impression that keeping money on your card is helping your score, you are not doing yourself any favors. Ideally, you want to pay off the balances on your cards in full every month, to avoid paying interest on purchases. If you are only paying the minimum, you are basically throwing money into the trash. Most of that minimum payment is going to the credit card company; very little pays down the balance.</p> <p>Whenever possible, don't carry a balance. And if your balance is more than 30 percent of the card, consider transferring half to another card. When you are using more than a third of the credit on one card, you can actually hurt your score. Ideally, your balance will be below 30 percent of the available credit &mdash; the lower, the better. This is a good time to request a credit line increase. If you get your line increased a few thousand dollars, so that your balance drops below 30 percent, that can increase your score. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-questions-to-ask-before-getting-a-credit-increase?ref=seealso" target="_blank">4 Questions to Ask Before Getting a Credit Increase</a>)</p> <h2>8. A bad credit score will stay with you for life</h2> <p>If you are currently looking at a poor score, it's not the end of the world. You won't be paying exorbitant interest rates forever. However, it does take time to rebuild it.</p> <p>The score will change, for the better, if you open new lines of credit and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-simple-ways-to-never-make-a-late-credit-card-payment?ref=internal" target="_blank">pay your credit card bills on time</a>. Never miss a payment. Keep your balances low. Maintain a very low credit utilization ratio. Try not to apply for too many cards or accounts in one year. If you continue to be a model credit citizen, even after financial difficulty, your score will rise.</p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <div align="center"><a data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-count="above" data-pin-tall="true" data-pin-save="true" href="https://www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Fdebunking-8-common-credit-score-myths&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2FDebunking%25208%2520Common%2520Credit%2520Score%2520Myths.jpg&amp;description=Debunking%208%20Common%20Credit%20Score%20Myths"></a></p> <script async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/Debunking%208%20Common%20Credit%20Score%20Myths.jpg" alt="Debunking 8 Common Credit Score Myths" width="250" height="374" /></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/paul-michael">Paul Michael</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/debunking-8-common-credit-score-myths">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-reasons-building-credit-in-college-helps-you-win-at-life">5 Reasons Building Credit in College Helps You Win at Life</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/why-you-shouldnt-panic-if-your-credit-score-drops">Why You Shouldn&#039;t Panic If Your Credit Score Drops</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/why-the-age-of-your-credit-history-matters">Why the Age of Your Credit History Matters</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-surprising-things-lenders-check-besides-your-credit-score">4 Surprising Things Lenders Check Besides Your Credit Score</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-surprising-ways-revolving-debt-helps-you">5 Surprising Ways Revolving Debt Helps You</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance credit history credit score credit utilization ratio debt financing interest rates loans myths payment history Fri, 08 Sep 2017 09:00:06 +0000 Paul Michael 2017189 at http://www.wisebread.com Where to Find Emergency Funds When You Don't Have an Emergency Fund http://www.wisebread.com/where-to-find-emergency-funds-when-you-dont-have-an-emergency-fund <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/where-to-find-emergency-funds-when-you-dont-have-an-emergency-fund" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_having_financial_problems.jpg" alt="Woman having financial problems" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Establishing an emergency fund is the first and most important step in taking control of your finances. This fund makes it possible for you to weather a financial crisis &mdash; anything from a big car repair or medical bill to losing your job. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/a-step-by-step-guide-to-creating-your-emergency-fund?ref=seealso" target="_blank">A Step-by-Step Guide to Creating Your Emergency Fund</a>)</p> <p>But what if you don't have an emergency fund? Or you have only just started building it when an emergency strikes? Or you have been hit with back-to-back hardships that your emergency fund can't handle? How do you find money in an emergency when there's nothing but cobwebs in your &quot;emergency fund?&quot;</p> <p>Before you assume that dealing with such a situation is basically a hopeless case, remember that your ability to handle an emergency is not limited to the size your emergency fund. Here are several places you can find emergency funds when you don't have an emergency fund. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-ways-to-prevent-an-emergency-from-driving-you-into-debt?ref=seealso" target="_blank">10 Ways to Prevent an Emergency From Driving You Into Debt</a>)</p> <h2>1. Your own budget</h2> <p>One of the fastest ways to find some emergency cash in your budget is to cut your costs to the bone. Take a look at what you normally spend on groceries, entertainment, gas, and utilities. You may be surprised to find that there is enough money in your monthly budget to cover your emergency if you are willing to eat nothing but peanut butter and jelly, say no to happy hour with your friends, turn off the A/C, take the bus, and switch off your cellphone data plan for a month. This might not sound like much fun, but it will be well worth the short-term discomfort if you can use the savings to solve your emergency. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/are-you-spending-too-much-on-normal-expenses?Ref=seealso" target="_blank">Are You Spending Too Much on &quot;Normal&quot; Expenses?</a>)</p> <p>As a bonus, you could extend your cost-cutting to last a few weeks after you've taken care of your emergency, and use the freed-up cash to refill (or start) your emergency fund. That will make it much less likely you'll have to deal with this kind of deprivation the next time an emergency crops up.</p> <h2>2. Your stuff</h2> <p>It's very easy for us to forget just how much money is sitting in our homes in the form of all of our stuff. When you are facing an emergency, it can become clear that a lot of the stuff you own doesn't actually add anything to your life.</p> <p>A financial emergency is a good time to sell some of the things you have kept but don't actually need. Craiglist, eBay, and Facebook groups are all excellent options for maximizing your profit if you have some time available before you need the cash. If your emergency has a quick deadline, however, you can take your valuables to a consignment or pawnshop.</p> <h2>3. Your monthly due dates</h2> <p>If your emergency is one you could financially handle if you just had a little more time, it may be worth your while to call your landlord, utility companies, and creditors to see if they would be willing to push back your due date for this month's bills. You may or may not be able to convince them all to accept a delayed payment this month, but it doesn't hurt to ask.</p> <h2>4. Your withholdings</h2> <p>If you regularly get a large tax refund every spring, you could potentially get hold of that money before April 15 by adjusting your withholdings on your W-4 form at work. Doing this, you may see more money in your very next paycheck.</p> <p>Use the <a href="https://www.irs.gov/individuals/irs-withholding-calculator" target="_blank">IRS online withholding calculator</a> to figure out exactly what your withholding should be. Once you've adjusted your withholding, you can keep it at the adjusted amount for the rest of the year and save the difference in your emergency fund.</p> <h2>5. Your employer</h2> <p>Depending on your workplace, you may be able to take an advance on your future salary to help you cover a financial emergency. If you work for a small company where your boss is the final authority, you will need to appeal directly to him or her for your advance. If you work in a larger or corporate environment, you will need to discuss the possibility of an advance with your human resources department.</p> <p>Be prepared to explain why you need the money, which may feel awkward. But your boss will want to know that the advance isn't enabling a problem behavior, such as gambling or substance abuse, and you do need to give some background so they will understand that this is a one-time emergency.</p> <p>You can also expect to fill out some paperwork, which will specify the payback schedule and what will happen in the event you leave the job before the advance has been paid off. In most cases, the payback schedule will mean that you receive a reduced paycheck for a few pay periods until you have paid back the advance, although you may be able to negotiate for future overtime in exchange for the advance.</p> <h2>5. Borrowing money</h2> <p>There are several ways to borrow money that can help get you through a financial emergency, although they all have different costs that you need to consider before signing on the dotted line:</p> <h3>A loan from a friend or family member</h3> <p>Borrowing money from someone you know can be a relationship land mine, which is why so many people are leery of asking for that kind of help.</p> <p>It is possible to borrow money from a loved one, but you must be prepared to handle it like a business transaction and actually use a promissory note. This legal agreement will spell out the specifics of payment dates, interest, and other loan details.</p> <h3>Peer-to-peer lending</h3> <p>The modern world has made it possible to borrow small amounts of money through peer-to-peer lending platforms like Lending Club and Prosper. To successfully borrow money from a peer-to-peer platform, you will generally need a credit score of about 660 or above, and you will need a checking account, since your loan will be deposited to it, and your payments will be automatically debited from it.</p> <p>Generally, these loans have a maximum lending period of 36 months. There is no penalty for paying off your loan early, however, so a peer-to-peer loan may be an excellent choice for someone who needs money quickly but whose situation will stabilize soon afterward. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-times-personal-loans-may-be-better-than-credit-cards?ref=seealso" target="_blank">5 Times Personal Loans May Be Better Than Credit Cards</a>)</p> <h3>An emergency overdraft from your bank</h3> <p>Your bank may be able to extend you an emergency overdraft if your emergency occurs within a few days of payday and the amount you need does not exceed your usual payday deposit. Explain the situation to your bank and request an overdraft for the amount you will need to cover your emergency &mdash; but don't forget to ask what overdraft fees you can expect to pay. If your bank approves this course of action and their overdraft fees are reasonable, this could be a relatively inexpensive way to get the money you need.</p> <h3>Take a loan from your 401(k)</h3> <p>Though it's generally not a great idea to borrow from your 401(k) for a financial emergency, it is a good idea for you to know what your rights are in regards to such a loan. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-questions-to-ask-before-you-borrow-from-your-retirement-account?ref=seealso" target="_blank">5 Questions to Ask Before You Borrow From Your Retirement Account</a>)</p> <p>The IRS allows you to access a portion (generally the lesser of 50 percent or $50,000) of your retirement plan money tax-free for an emergency. If you do take such a loan, the law requires you to repay the amount you accessed, plus interest &mdash; which you are paying to yourself, meaning you are helping to restore at least some of the growth you lost by taking the loan.</p> <p>Loan rules specify a five-year amortization repayment schedule, but there are no prepayment penalties if you would like to rebuild your account quicker. In addition, many plans will allow you to make repayments through payroll deduction, in the same way you make normal contributions.</p> <p>One caveat: If you leave (or lose) your job before paying back the loan, it will be considered an early distribution, which will mean that you owe the 10 percent early withdrawal penalty <em>and</em> tax on your loan.</p> <h3>Take a tax-free rollover from your IRA</h3> <p>While the IRS does not allow investors to take loans from their IRA accounts, a 60-day tax-free rollover allows you to access the money you have in your IRA in case of an emergency. Such a rollover lets you take money out of your IRA with no taxes or penalties, provided you put the money back in that or another IRA within 60 calendar days. If you fail to replace the money within that time frame, it will be considered an early withdrawal and you will have to pay income taxes on the money and a 10 percent penalty.</p> <p>In addition, it's important to note that there is what's known as the one-year rule. You can only do such a tax-free rollover once within any 12-month period.</p> <h2>Emergencies are never convenient</h2> <p>Like death, taxes, and childbirth, financial emergencies don't like to arrive when it's convenient. The key to being able to handle financial emergencies is flexibility. If you are willing and able to make changes to your habits, respectfully ask for help, borrow mindfully, or reduce your spending, you can get to the other side of any emergency with your finances intact. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-ways-to-decide-if-its-a-fund-worthy-emergency?ref=seealso" target="_blank">8 Ways to Decide if It's a &quot;Fund-Worthy&quot; Emergency</a>)</p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <div align="center"><a data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-count="above" data-pin-tall="true" data-pin-save="true" href="https://www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Fwhere-to-find-emergency-funds-when-you-dont-have-an-emergency-fund&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2FWhere%2520to%2520Find%2520Emergency%2520Funds%2520When%2520You%2520Don%2527t%2520Have%2520an%2520Emergency%2520Fund.jpg&amp;description=Where%20to%20Find%20Emergency%20Funds%20When%20You%20Don't%20Have%20an%20Emergency%20Fund"></a></p> <script async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/Where%20to%20Find%20Emergency%20Funds%20When%20You%20Don%27t%20Have%20an%20Emergency%20Fund.jpg" alt="Where to Find Emergency Funds When You Don't Have an Emergency Fund" width="250" height="374" /></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/emily-guy-birken">Emily Guy Birken</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/where-to-find-emergency-funds-when-you-dont-have-an-emergency-fund">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-easy-ways-to-build-an-emergency-fund-from-0">7 Easy Ways to Build an Emergency Fund From $0</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-fast-ways-to-restock-an-emergency-fund-after-an-emergency">6 Fast Ways to Restock an Emergency Fund After an Emergency</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/reach-your-money-goals-faster-with-a-simple-naming-trick">Reach Your Money Goals Faster With a Simple Naming Trick</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-tell-youve-become-a-financial-grownup">How to Tell You&#039;ve Become a Financial Grownup</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/money-a-mess-try-this-personal-finance-starter-kit">Money a Mess? Try This Personal Finance Starter Kit</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance borrowing money budgeting cutting expenses emergency funds loans overdraft peer to peer lending salary advance saving money withholdings Thu, 07 Sep 2017 08:01:05 +0000 Emily Guy Birken 2016465 at http://www.wisebread.com Here's What's Included in a Home's Closing Costs http://www.wisebread.com/heres-whats-included-in-a-homes-closing-costs <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/heres-whats-included-in-a-homes-closing-costs" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/coins_spilling_out_of_a_glass_bottle.jpg" alt="Coins spilling out of a glass bottle" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Taking out a mortgage isn't free. You can expect to pay 2 percent to 5 percent of your home's purchase price in closing costs, the fees that everyone from lenders to title insurers charge to originate your loan. If you're buying a home for $200,000, for example, you can expect to pay between $4,000 and $10,000 in closing costs. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-ways-to-reduce-mortgage-closing-costs?ref=seealso" target="_blank">8 Ways to Reduce Mortgage Closing Costs</a>)</p> <p>At least three business days before you close on your mortgage loan, your lender will send you the closing disclosure. This form lists exactly how much you'll pay each month for your mortgage, when your payments begin, and what your interest rate is.</p> <p>The closing disclosure also lists your closing costs, giving you the chance to review them before you sign any documents at the closing table.</p> <p>Here are some of the costs you might find listed on your closing disclosure.</p> <h2>Appraisal</h2> <p>Before your lender will loan you mortgage dollars, it wants to make sure that the home you are buying is worth what you are paying for it. To determine this, it will send an appraiser to your property to determine its value. You'll have to pay for the appraiser's work. You can expect this to cost about $400.</p> <h2>Escrow</h2> <p>Most lenders will require you to open an escrow account when you take out a mortgage. Under such an arrangement, you will pay extra money with each mortgage payment, with some of that money funneled into your escrow account. Your lender will then use that money to pay your property taxes and your homeowners insurance bills on your behalf when they come due.</p> <p>Typically, your lender will require that you make two to three months of your homeowners insurance and property tax payments at closing to start off your escrow account. So, if you must pay $500 every month for taxes and insurance, you'd have to prepay $1,000 to $1,500 at closing.</p> <h2>Origination fee</h2> <p>The origination fee is one of the bigger closing costs you might pay. This fee covers the costs that your lender incurs when originating your loan. You can expect this fee to be about 1 percent of your home's purchase price. For a $200,000 home, that comes out to $2,000.</p> <h2>Lender's policy title insurance</h2> <p>This insurance policy protects your lender in case the title insurance company made a mistake in its title search and you later discover that there are liens against your home. This can happen if a past owner failed to make property tax payments. This title insurance is not optional. Costs vary depending on your state, but you can expect to pay about $1,000 for this insurance.</p> <h2>Owner's title insurance policy</h2> <p>This form of title insurance protects <em>you </em>if someone comes forward with a claim that they have an ownership stake in your home. This is usually an optional fee. You can expect to pay about $600 to $1,000 if you choose to purchase this insurance. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/yes-you-need-home-title-insurance-heres-why?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Yes, You Need Home Title Insurance &mdash; Here's Why</a>)</p> <h2>Title search</h2> <p>Before you close your loan, the title insurance company handling your closing will search the records of your new home. The goal is to make sure that no other individual or government body has an ownership claim against the property. This search usually costs from $100 to $250.</p> <h2>Underwriting fee</h2> <p>Before it approves you for a mortgage, your lender pulls your credit, verifies your income, and verifies your employment to make sure that you can afford your monthly payment. This fee covers those costs. This fee can vary widely, but expect to pay about $150.</p> <h2>Title settlement fee</h2> <p>A title insurance company will run your loan closing. The title settlement fee is what they charge for doing this. This fee can vary greatly, which is why it pays to shop around for a title insurance company. Your real estate agent might recommend a title insurance company, but you can still shop around for one on your own.</p> <h2>Credit report</h2> <p>When you apply for a loan, your lender will run your credit. Your credit reports list such important numbers as what you owe on your credit cards, whether you've made any late auto loan payments, and whether you've lost a home to foreclosure. Your lender will charge about $50 to $80 to pull your credit.</p> <h2>Flood determination fee</h2> <p>A third-party provider will determine if your home is in a flood zone. You'll have to pay this fee even if your home is located nowhere near water. It's not a costly fee, though, usually running from $10 to $20.</p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <div align="center"><a data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-count="above" data-pin-tall="true" href="https://www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Fheres-whats-included-in-a-homes-closing-costs&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2FHeres%2520Whats%2520Included%2520in%2520a%2520Homes%2520Closing%2520Costs.jpg&amp;description=Heres%20Whats%20Included%20in%20a%20Homes%20Closing%20Costs"></a></p> <script async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/Heres%20Whats%20Included%20in%20a%20Homes%20Closing%20Costs.jpg" alt="Here's What's Included in a Home's Closing Costs" width="250" height="374" /></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dan-rafter">Dan Rafter</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/heres-whats-included-in-a-homes-closing-costs">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/yes-you-need-home-title-insurance-heres-why">Yes, You Need Home Title Insurance — Here&#039;s Why</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-mortgage-details-you-should-know-before-you-sign">5 Mortgage Details You Should Know Before You Sign</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-surprising-things-lenders-check-besides-your-credit-score">4 Surprising Things Lenders Check Besides Your Credit Score</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-money-moves-to-make-for-tomorrows-mortgage">6 Money Moves to Make for Tomorrow&#039;s Mortgage</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-build-equity-in-your-home">How to Build Equity in Your Home</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Real Estate and Housing appraisal charges closing costs credit reports escrow fees homeownership insurance lenders loans mortgages title Fri, 01 Sep 2017 08:30:05 +0000 Dan Rafter 2012628 at http://www.wisebread.com 5 Reasons Building Credit in College Helps You Win at Life http://www.wisebread.com/5-reasons-building-credit-in-college-helps-you-win-at-life <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5-reasons-building-credit-in-college-helps-you-win-at-life" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_credit_card_514475258.jpg" alt="Woman building credit in college" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>As a college student, your credit score probably isn't a priority. You're too busy worrying about exams, homework, and scraping together enough money for a pizza on Friday night. But building good credit when you're in college is important. It can make it easier to rent an apartment, apply for a good credit card, and buy a car once you graduate. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-credit-cards-for-college-students?ref=seealso" target="_blank">The 5 Best Credit Cards for College Students</a>)</p> <p>Many college students graduate with no credit score at all. That's because they've never used a credit card or paid off an installment loan, such as for a car or mortgage. They haven't even started paying off their student loans yet.</p> <p>Graduating with no credit makes life after college more challenging. Here are five big reasons why you should start building good credit when you're still in school.</p> <h2>1. Renting an apartment</h2> <p>In a recent survey by national credit bureau TransUnion, 48 percent of apartment landlords said that the results of a credit check rank among the top three factors they consider when deciding to lease an apartment to a potential renter.</p> <p>If your credit is bad, or if you don't have any credit at all, you'll struggle to rent an apartment on your own. You might have to rely on a co-signer, usually a parent, to sign the lease with you. If you can't find a co-signer, and you haven't built any credit while in college, finding your dream apartment, or even just a starter apartment, can get difficult.</p> <h2>2. Buying a car</h2> <p>Unless you buy a car with cash, you'll probably have to apply for an auto loan to finance the purchase of a new vehicle. Auto lenders study your credit, too. If they find that you don't have any history behind you, they'll be far less likely to approve you for the loan you need to buy that new car.</p> <p>Again, you might have to rely on finding a co-signer. This can be even more difficult for an auto loan. Not only are co-signers on an auto loan responsible for any payments you don't make, the loan will also be counted as their debt. This can make it more difficult for your co-signer to apply for new loans of their own.</p> <p>Overall, it's much easier to walk into an auto dealership knowing that you already have a credit history of your own.</p> <h2>3. Applying for student loans</h2> <p>You'll want a good credit history if you'll need to apply for private loans to help finance the cost of graduate or professional school. It's easier to get federal PLUS loans for graduate and professional schools with a lower credit score. However, you are limited in how much you can borrow through these federal sources.</p> <p>If you must borrow more, you might have to rely on private loans. And private lenders will take a close look at your credit. If you don't have a credit history, qualifying for one of these loans will be more challenging.</p> <h2>4. Being approved for credit cards</h2> <p>There are plenty of credit cards out there with <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-best-low-interest-rate-credit-cards?ref=internal" target="_blank">low interest rates</a> and valuable rewards programs. They can give you <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-best-cash-back-credit-cards?ref=internal" target="_blank">cash back on purchases</a> or let you <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/top-5-travel-reward-credit-cards?ref=internal" target="_blank">earn travel rewards</a> when you use your card.</p> <p>Without a credit history, and the credit score that comes with one, you'll struggle to qualify for one of these good cards. You might instead have to settle for a basic card with a higher interest rate.</p> <h2>5. Getting car insurance</h2> <p>Not having a credit history can even make qualifying for car insurance more of a challenge. If you do want to drive, and you can no longer stay on your parents' auto insurance policy, you'll have to apply for car insurance on your own. And many insurance companies today look at their own version of a credit score when determining who qualifies for insurance and at what rates.</p> <p>The lower your credit-based insurance score, the less likely you'll qualify for auto insurance &mdash; and the more likely you'll have to pay a higher premium if you do qualify.</p> <h2>Building a credit history</h2> <p>The best way to build a credit history while in college is to apply for a student credit card. These cards often come with lower limits. Some might even be <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-are-secured-credit-cards?ref=internal" target="_blank">secured cards</a>, meaning that you have to make a deposit into a bank account associated with the card. This deposit makes up your credit limit. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-use-credit-cards-to-improve-your-credit-score?ref=seealso" target="_blank">How to Use Credit Cards to Improve Your Credit Score</a>)</p> <p>Once you get a card, use it, but use it wisely. Only buy what you can afford to pay off in full each month. Then pay off your entire balance by every due date. As you generate a record of on-time credit card payments, you'll steadily build a credit history. At the same time, you'll start building a solid credit score, too.</p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <div align="center"><a data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-count="above" data-pin-tall="true" data-pin-save="true" href="https://www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2F5-reasons-building-credit-in-college-helps-you-win-at-life&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2F5%2520Reasons%2520Building%2520Credit%2520in%2520College%2520Helps%2520You%2520Win%2520at%2520Life.jpg&amp;description=5%20Reasons%20Building%20Credit%20in%20College%20Helps%20You%20Win%20at%20Life"></a></p> <script async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/5%20Reasons%20Building%20Credit%20in%20College%20Helps%20You%20Win%20at%20Life.jpg" alt="5 Reasons Building Credit in College Helps You Win at Life" width="250" height="374" /></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dan-rafter">Dan Rafter</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-reasons-building-credit-in-college-helps-you-win-at-life">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/debunking-8-common-credit-score-myths">Debunking 8 Common Credit Score Myths</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-every-parent-should-know-about-the-new-college-financial-aid-rules">What Every Parent Should Know About the New College Financial Aid Rules</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-money-moves-every-new-college-student-should-make">7 Money Moves Every New College Student Should Make</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/15-surprising-ways-bad-credit-can-hurt-you">15 Surprising Ways Bad Credit Can Hurt You</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/heres-why-credit-scores-and-reports-are-not-the-same">Here&#039;s Why Credit Scores and Reports Are Not the Same</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance Education & Training building credit co-signers college credit history credit score loans payment history renting students Mon, 28 Aug 2017 08:30:14 +0000 Dan Rafter 2010394 at http://www.wisebread.com 6 Good Financial Deeds that Can Backfire http://www.wisebread.com/6-good-financial-deeds-that-can-backfire <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/6-good-financial-deeds-that-can-backfire" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/silly_young_woman_slapping_hand_on_head_having_duh_moment.jpg" alt="Silly young woman, slapping hand on head having duh moment" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>The saying goes that no good deed goes unpunished. Perhaps there are actually some good deeds that don't backfire, but there are many financial good deeds that can come back to haunt a generous soul if they're not careful. These favors can cost you more money than you expected, or hurt your credit. Before you embark on an expedition of financial kindness, consider these examples of good deeds that can backfire.</p> <h2>1. Co-signing a lease or loan</h2> <p>You may hope to do a friend or family member a favor by helping them buy a new car or land a new apartment. But even if you are assisting someone you know and trust, you are putting your own finances at risk. If the other person fails to make a loan payment or doesn't pay the rent, you will be on the hook for whatever is owed. If you can't make the payments, it will show up on your credit report and hurt your credit score. Even if the other party pays on time, you are increasing your debt-to-income ratio by being a co-signer to any loans, and that can hurt your own ability to get a loan.</p> <p>If you feel strongly about helping someone out with a lease or loan, it's better to protect your own credit by making them a <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-16-cardinal-rules-of-loaning-money-to-friends-and-family" target="_blank">personal loan</a>, preferably one that won't sink you financially if they don't pay you back.</p> <h2>2. Adding an authorized user to your credit card</h2> <p>It's hard to build credit when you're first starting out. That's why some parents choose to <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-reasons-to-add-your-teen-as-an-authorized-user-on-your-credit-card" target="_blank">make their child an authorized user</a> on their credit card. This is often a great way for your teen to start building credit.</p> <p>But there are right and wrong ways to do it. This strategy can backfire financially, especially if you're not keeping an eye on their spending. Missed payments and high debt levels could impact <em>both </em>of your credit scores.</p> <p>It's best to add your child as an authorized user only if you can closely track their spending. Once they've established that they can be financially responsible, let them get their own credit card if they qualify for one.</p> <h2>3. Donating to a bad charity</h2> <p>It's unfortunate, but every once in awhile you'll hear a story about a nonprofit group that either failed to live up to its mission or was a complete scam from the start. Hopefully, if you've donated to a bad charity, you've walked away with nothing more than a few lost dollars. But in a worst-case scenario, you may have unwittingly contributed to illegal activity.</p> <p>Before you donate to a charity, take some time to research the organization. Read their annual report and any public financial documents. Ask for their tax ID number and tax forms. Giving money is great, but it's worth taking the time to make sure it's going to a good and honest cause.</p> <h2>4. Lending money to your kids</h2> <p>There's nothing philosophically wrong with helping your kids out with money if you're in a position to do so. But if you're constantly giving them money or bailing them out of situations, you may be throwing good money after bad. Moreover, you're failing to teach them how to be financially responsible on their own.</p> <p>Even young children should learn the basics of budgeting and saving, and the consequences that come from, say, spending all their allowance on candy and then not having enough money to go to the movies with their friends. Teens should be encouraged to get part-time jobs if possible to help pay for vehicles or college. These lessons give them the skills to be financially independent, making them much better off financially in the long run than if you simply give them cash whenever they need it. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-help-your-kid-build-their-first-budget?ref=seealso" target="_blank">How to Help Your Kid Build Their First Budget</a>)</p> <h2>5. Paying for your kid's college</h2> <p>With college costs rising to outlandish heights, many parents are making an effort to save for all or part of a child's education. This is a generous deed that could result in a child avoiding costly student loans.</p> <p>It's important, however, to avoid taking away too much from your own savings goals. If you save for your children's college education instead of saving for your own retirement, this may impact the lifestyle you can afford after you stop working. It's always possible to borrow for college, if necessary. But no one's handing out loans to cover your 30-plus years of retirement. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/why-saving-too-much-money-for-a-college-fund-is-a-bad-idea" target="_blank">Why Saving Too Much for a College Fund Is a Bad Idea</a>)</p> <h2>6. Socially responsible investing</h2> <p>There are many investors who want to make money in the stock market but don't want to go against some of their core beliefs. They may choose not to invest in energy companies that have gotten in trouble for polluting, for example. Or they stay away from investing in casinos for religious reasons. There's nothing wrong with this, and it's definitely possible to invest well without violating your principles.</p> <p>But it's important to know how these choices impact your investment returns. For one thing, there are many well-performing stocks that you may find objectionable, so you need to be comfortable with the notion of giving up some potentially big returns. It's also not easy to find an <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/why-warren-buffett-says-you-should-invest-in-index-funds" target="_blank">index fund</a> (an often-recommended type of fund that mirrors a particular stock index or market segment) that doesn't own shares of at least one company you might object to, though socially responsible index funds have become more plentiful. Just make your decision to abstain from certain investments with full knowledge of how it might cost you.</p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <div align="center"><a data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-count="above" data-pin-tall="true" data-pin-save="true" href="https://www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2F6-good-financial-deeds-that-can-backfire&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2F6%2520Good%2520Financial%2520Deeds%2520that%2520Can%2520Backfire%2520%25281%2529.jpg&amp;description=6%20Good%20Financial%20Deeds%20that%20Can%20Backfire"></a></p> <script async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/6%20Good%20Financial%20Deeds%20that%20Can%20Backfire%20%281%29.jpg" alt="6 Good Financial Deeds that Can Backfire" width="250" height="374" /></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/tim-lemke">Tim Lemke</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-good-financial-deeds-that-can-backfire">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-reasons-youre-still-stuck-in-a-financial-hole">8 Reasons You&#039;re Still Stuck in a Financial Hole</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-reasons-building-credit-in-college-helps-you-win-at-life">5 Reasons Building Credit in College Helps You Win at Life</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dont-start-a-family-before-reaching-these-5-money-goals">Don&#039;t Start a Family Before Reaching These 5 Money Goals</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-ways-college-students-can-save-money-before-class-starts">8 Ways College Students Can Save Money Before Class Starts</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/reach-your-money-goals-faster-with-a-simple-naming-trick">Reach Your Money Goals Faster With a Simple Naming Trick</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance college gifts good deeds loans saving money socially responsible investing Spending Money Thu, 06 Jul 2017 09:00:12 +0000 Tim Lemke 1977971 at http://www.wisebread.com 4 Home-Buying Habits We Can Learn From Millennials http://www.wisebread.com/4-home-buying-habits-we-can-learn-from-millennials <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/4-home-buying-habits-we-can-learn-from-millennials" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/new_home_owners_with_key.jpg" alt="New homeowners with key" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Millennials entered the housing market later than their baby boomer and Generation X predecessors. They chose to rent for longer, and are just now starting to flood the housing market.</p> <p>But just because millennials have been slow to embrace homeownership doesn't mean that they don't have anything to teach others about buying a home. In fact, despite their late jump into the housing market, millennials have demonstrated plenty of smart home-buying behaviors. Here are a few smart homeownership habits we can all learn from this younger generation.</p> <h2>Don't rush</h2> <p>Ellie Mae, a software company that works with mortgage data, says that millennials &mdash; young adults from the ages of 18 to 34 &mdash; are currently the largest group of homebuyers in the housing market. According to the company, in January of 2017, these young buyers took out about 45 percent of all the mortgage loans used to buy homes. But homebuying is a recent trend for this age group.</p> <p>Economists have long observed that millennials waited longer than older generations to jump into the housing market, just as they have also waited longer to get married and have families.</p> <p>This isn't necessarily a bad thing. Buying a home is expensive. You'll need money for a down payment and the closing costs on your mortgage loan. This will run you thousands of dollars.</p> <p>As millennials show, there's nothing wrong with waiting until you have a more established job and reliable income to buy a home. Having that economic stability will eliminate some of the stress of covering that mortgage payment each month.</p> <h2>Don't break your budget</h2> <p>You don't want to <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-make-ends-meet-when-youre-house-poor?ref=internal" target="_blank">overspend on a home</a>. And today, that's getting easier to do because housing prices continue to rise. The National Association of Realtors says that the median price for a home sold in March of 2017 hit $236,400. That's an increase of 6.8 percent from March of 2016, when the median price was $221,400. This March also marked the 61st consecutive month in which home prices rose on a year-over-year basis.</p> <p>One of the most often-cited reasons for millennials' slow entry into the housing market is the student loan debt they face. According to Student Loan Hero, the average college graduate of the class of 2016 has $37,172 in student loan debt, up 6 percent from the previous year. Taking on the added debt burden of a mortgage can be intimidating when you already owe tens of thousands of dollars in student loans.</p> <p>Millennials know about debt. It's why so many of them are cautious about overspending. And this wariness is a good habit to acquire. Just because a mortgage lender approves you for a mortgage loan of $250,000, doesn't mean you must buy a home costing that much. It's OK &mdash; and is, in fact, fiscally smart &mdash; to buy a home that costs less. This will leave you with money leftover and an easier time making those housing payments each month.</p> <h2>Be realistic about the American dream</h2> <p>Buying a home has long been a part of the American dream. But millennials understand that this American dream can easily turn into a nightmare.</p> <p>Many millennials saw their parents lose their jobs and struggle to make their mortgage payments during the Great Recession. Some saw their parents lose their homes to foreclosure. Others watched as their parents' homes steadily lost value, leaving them underwater &mdash; owing more on their mortgage loans than what their homes were worth.</p> <p>Millennials learned that buying a home wasn't the only way to be happy in America. They learned that it could, in fact, be one way to be unhappy in America.</p> <p>The good habit here is that you should never jump into owning a home just because everyone else seems to be doing it. Owning a home isn't the right choice for everyone, which brings us to one last habit.</p> <h2>Don't think that renting comes with a stigma</h2> <p>Millennials are less averse to renting apartments later in life than both baby boomers and Gen Xers. In fact, the apartment market around the country is in the middle of a boom, with more people of all ages choosing to rent instead of owning a home.</p> <p>Renting has become a preferred way of living for a growing number of people. Need proof? Landlords keep increasing monthly rents to historic levels, something they'd struggle to do if the renters weren't coming. Apartment company Abodo said that in March of this year, the median monthly rent of a one-bedroom apartment across the United States stood at $1,005.</p> <p>In major cities, where many prefer to rent, monthly rents are especially high. Abodo reported that in San Francisco the median monthly rent stood at $3,415 in March 2017, while it hit $2,705 in New York City and $2,549 in San Jose, California. Other markets with high monthly rents include Boston ($2,398); Washington, D.C. ($2,097); Los Angeles ($2,030); and Oakland ($2,009).</p> <p>If you prefer to rent &mdash; and you aren't interested in the yard work and upkeep that come with owning a home &mdash; don't feel pressured to make the move to owning. You'll have plenty of company when it comes to renting an apartment.</p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <div align="center"><a data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-count="above" data-pin-tall="true" data-pin-save="true" href="https://www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2F4-home-buying-habits-we-can-learn-from-millennials&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2F4%2520Home-Buying%2520Habits%2520We%2520Can%2520Learn%2520From%2520Millennials.jpg&amp;description=4%20Home-Buying%20Habits%20We%20Can%20Learn%20From%20Millennials"></a></p> <script async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/4%20Home-Buying%20Habits%20We%20Can%20Learn%20From%20Millennials.jpg" alt="4 Home-Buying Habits We Can Learn From Millennials" width="250" height="374" /></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dan-rafter">Dan Rafter</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-home-buying-habits-we-can-learn-from-millennials">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/rent-your-home-or-buy-heres-how-to-decide">Rent Your Home or Buy? Here&#039;s How to Decide</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-money-moves-to-make-for-tomorrows-mortgage">6 Money Moves to Make for Tomorrow&#039;s Mortgage</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-money-moves-that-will-ruin-your-mortgage-application">5 Money Moves That Will Ruin Your Mortgage Application</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-mortgage-details-you-should-know-before-you-sign">5 Mortgage Details You Should Know Before You Sign</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-build-equity-in-your-home">How to Build Equity in Your Home</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Real Estate and Housing American Dream apartments home buying homeownership lessons loans millennials mortgages renting Wed, 28 Jun 2017 09:00:12 +0000 Dan Rafter 1970390 at http://www.wisebread.com How to Build Equity in Your Home http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-build-equity-in-your-home <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-to-build-equity-in-your-home" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/imagine_owning_our_dream_house.jpg" alt="Imagine owning our dream house" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Equity is the difference between what you owe on your mortgage loan and what your home is currently worth. Say you owe $150,000 on your mortgage and your home is worth $200,000. You now have $50,000 worth of equity built up in your home. Congratulations!</p> <p>Equity is important when you sell your home. If you sell the home in the above example for $200,000, you'd end up with a sizable check, whatever is left of that $50,000 equity after you subtract your real estate agent's commission and any other fees you might have to pay to close the sale. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-unexpected-costs-of-selling-a-home?ref=seealso" target="_blank">8 Unexpected Costs of Selling a Home</a>)</p> <p>You can also tap your home's equity for home equity loans or home equity lines of credit. Maybe you want to remodel your bathroom. If you have enough equity, you can take out a home-equity loan of, say, $20,000 to pay for it. You can also rely on home equity loans to pay for a child's college tuition or pay off high-interest credit card debt.</p> <p>And if you ever want to refinance your mortgage loan to one with a lower interest rate, you'll usually need equity to do so. Most lenders won't approve a refinance unless you have at least 20 percent equity built up in your home.</p> <p>So how do you build equity? Mostly by making your mortgage payments on time and hoping that the value of homes in your local housing market continues to rise.</p> <h2>Keep making your mortgage payments</h2> <p>Every time you make a mortgage payment, you'll gain a small bit of equity, as long as your home's value isn't falling at the same time. But don't think that if you are paying $1,500 each month, you are gaining $1,500 worth of equity with every payment. Not all of your monthly payment goes toward reducing your mortgage's principal balance.</p> <p>There's something known as PITI, which stands for principal, interest, taxes, and insurance. This means that a portion of each of your mortgage payments goes toward paying off your loan's principal balance, interest, property taxes, and homeowners insurance. Only the portion that goes toward paying off your principal helps you build equity.</p> <p>In the earliest days of your payments, a greater chunk of your mortgage check will be used to pay off interest. The deeper you get into your mortgage's life span, the more principal you'll pay off with each payment &mdash; and the more equity you will gain.</p> <h2>Count on rising home values</h2> <p>When you buy a home, you hope that its value will continue to increase. If your home does rise in value, the equity you have will automatically increase.</p> <p>If your home is worth $200,000 and you owe $190,000 on your mortgage, you have $10,000 in equity. But if your home's value was instead $210,000, owing that same $190,000 would leave you with $20,000 worth of equity. Just be aware that your home is not guaranteed to rise in value.</p> <h2>Make a bigger down payment</h2> <p>If you are using a mortgage to finance the purchase of a home, you'll usually have to come up with a down payment. With some loan products, that down payment can be as low as 3 percent of your home's purchase price. For a home costing $200,000, a down payment of 3 percent comes out to $6,000.</p> <p>The larger your down payment, however, the more equity you'll have as soon as you take ownership of your house. When you reach 20 percent equity, you'll no longer have to pay private mortgage insurance (PMI). That's why if you can afford it, it makes financial sense to come up with as large of a down payment as possible. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/do-you-really-need-a-20-percent-down-payment-for-a-house?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Do You Really Need a 20 Percent Down Payment for a House?</a>)</p> <h2>Take out a shorter mortgage</h2> <p>Taking out a loan with a shorter term means larger monthly payments. But it also means that you'll build your home's equity at a faster pace. If you take out a 15-year, fixed-rate mortgage instead of a 30-year, fixed-rate loan, your monthly payment will be significantly higher because you are stretching out your payback period over a smaller number of months.</p> <p>But that larger monthly payment also means that you'll be reducing your mortgage's principal balance by a greater amount each month, something that will help you build equity much faster. This is one reason why, if you can afford the larger monthly payment, a shorter-term mortgage is a smarter financial move. Just be careful not to take a shorter-term mortgage if the monthly payment will be a struggle.</p> <h2>Make bigger mortgage payments each month</h2> <p>You can increase the speed at which you gain equity by making larger mortgage payments each month, as long as you tell your lender that you want this extra money to go toward paying down your loan's principal balance.</p> <p>If you owe $1,700 each month on your mortgage, you might instead send a check for $1,900, with the extra $200 allocated to paying down your principal. Your lender's mortgage statement probably has a line that you can fill out stating that you want your extra money to go toward principal. Make sure to fill that out.</p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <div align="center"><a data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-count="above" data-pin-tall="true" data-pin-save="true" href="https://www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Fhow-to-build-equity-in-your-home&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2FHow%2520to%2520Build%2520Equity%2520in%2520Your%2520Home.jpg&amp;description=How%20to%20Build%20Equity%20in%20Your%20Home"></a></p> <script async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/How%20to%20Build%20Equity%20in%20Your%20Home.jpg" alt="How to Build Equity in Your Home" width="250" height="374" /></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dan-rafter">Dan Rafter</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-build-equity-in-your-home">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/weak-credit-you-can-still-get-a-mortgage-despite-tough-lending-standards">Weak Credit? You Can Still Get a Mortgage Despite Tough Lending Standards</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/do-you-really-need-a-20-percent-down-payment-for-a-house">Do You Really Need a 20 Percent Down Payment for a House?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-home-buying-habits-we-can-learn-from-millennials">4 Home-Buying Habits We Can Learn From Millennials</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-biggest-regrets-of-new-homeowners">8 Biggest Regrets of New Homeowners</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-things-to-consider-before-buying-a-home-when-youre-single">5 Things to Consider Before Buying a Home When You&#039;re Single</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Real Estate and Housing down payments equity homeownership interest loans mortgages principal Tue, 20 Jun 2017 09:00:08 +0000 Dan Rafter 1966194 at http://www.wisebread.com 8 Biggest Regrets of New Homeowners http://www.wisebread.com/8-biggest-regrets-of-new-homeowners <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/8-biggest-regrets-of-new-homeowners" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/house_key_on_keychain.jpg" alt="House key on keychain" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Buying a home is a big decision. When you buy your first home, it can turn out to be one of the happiest moments of your life, and set you and your family up for years of comfort. But there are also countless decisions to make during the buying process, and it's easy to make one you'll regret later.</p> <p>It helps to know common traps others have learned from. Try to avoid these mistakes that many new homebuyers have made. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-you-need-to-know-before-buying-your-first-home?ref=seealso" target="_blank">What You Need to Know Before Buying Your First Home</a>)</p> <h2>1. You bought more house than you can afford</h2> <p>It's easy to purchase a home that may be out of your price range. Banks are known to approve homebuyers for loans that are way beyond what should be sensibly budgeted. It's also tempting to buy a more costly home than you need, based on the assumption that you will earn more in the future.</p> <p>A good rule of thumb is to avoid paying more than 30 percent of your gross income on housing. Anything more than that, and you may find yourself financially handcuffed. When searching for homes, be sure to have a budget in mind, and do your best to stick to that budget even if it means walking away from homes you like. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-make-ends-meet-when-youre-house-poor?ref=seealso" target="_blank">How to Make Ends Meet When You're House Poor</a>)</p> <h2>2. You did not put enough money down</h2> <p>Making a big down payment can make things much easier for a homeowner in the long run. If you are able to save up enough to put down at least 20 percent, there's a good chance you'll avoid paying private mortgage insurance (PMI), which can add thousands of dollars in overall costs. Plus, a bigger down payment will help you qualify for a more favorable loan, and will reduce the amount you need to borrow.</p> <p>Homeowners who can't make a sizable down payment often find themselves struggling financially because the mortgage costs are onerous. The more money you put down, the more money you'll save &mdash; and the better off you'll be.</p> <h2>3. You did not get the right kind of mortgage</h2> <p>There are many different mortgage products out there. <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/fixed-or-adjustable-choosing-the-right-mortgage-loan?utm_source=feedburner&amp;utm_medium=feed&amp;utm_campaign=Feed:+wisebread+(Wise+Bread)" target="_blank">Loans with fixed interest rates or adjustable rates</a>, interest-only loans, <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/choosing-the-right-mortgage-loan-15-or-30-years" target="_blank">30-year loans, and 15-year loans</a>. It can be bewildering and hard to find the right mortgage for you. The key is to understand what kind of homebuyer you are.</p> <p>Generally speaking, if you want to build equity in your home and plan to stay a while, you will want a fixed-rate mortgage. A 30-year term is most common and often allows for manageable monthly payments, but shorter terms can make sense if you want to pay off your loan sooner and you can afford to pay more each month.</p> <p>Adjustable rate mortgages, which often start with low interest rates that can change after a certain time period, make sense for those who think they may only stay in the home for a few years.</p> <p>Interest-only loans, in which you begin paying interest before any principal, tend to be riskier and don't help you build equity. But they might be right for people who want very low payments to start and think they can refinance or handle higher payments later.</p> <p>Do you plan to stay in the house a long time or move within a few years? What is your budget, both in terms of down payment and monthly payments? These are hard decisions, but it is important to research your mortgage loan options thoroughly before locking one in.</p> <h2>4. You didn't reduce debt and improve your credit before buying</h2> <p>The interest rate on your mortgage is based on a variety of factors, most importantly your current debt level and credit score. If you already have a high debt load and your credit score is mediocre or poor, you may end up with a higher interest rate. This could add thousands of dollars to the overall cost of your home.</p> <p>You may be eager to buy that first house, but you should first take time to pay off any current debts and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-rebuild-your-credit-in-8-simple-steps" target="_blank">improve your overall credit picture</a>.</p> <h2>5. You should have continued renting</h2> <p>There is a lot of pressure on people to buy instead of rent, because it can be a path to long-term financial security. But there are many cases where it's perfectly fine &mdash; and perhaps wiser &mdash; to continue renting.</p> <p>If your income is inconsistent or your job security is in question, renting is a better option. If you expect you may need to move within a short period of time, renting makes sense. If you don't have enough money for a sizable down payment yet, continuing to rent is fine. Renting offers flexibility and is often cheaper, so there should be no rush to buy if you're not comfortable doing so. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/rent-your-home-or-buy-heres-how-to-decide?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Rent Your Home or Buy? Here's How to Decide</a>)</p> <h2>6. You bought a home that needed work</h2> <p>A so-called &quot;fixer upper&quot; can be a great bargain for those willing to invest the time, sweat, and money on making necessary repairs. But this type of home isn't for everyone.</p> <p>Purchasing a home that requires heavy renovation can be a source of stress, and if you're not handy enough to fix things yourself, it may be more expensive for you in the long run.</p> <h2>7. You waived the inspection</h2> <p>During the housing boom a decade ago, competition for homes was so fierce that buyers were willing to forgo a routine inspection in order to close a deal. In fact, some sellers saw a demand for an inspection as a deal-breaker. Today, this is a recipe for potential disaster.</p> <p>An inspection should be an essential part of the homebuying process, allowing you to learn about any problems before you make a financial commitment. No homeowner should find themselves stuck with a house full of problems simply because they waived their right to inspect the property beforehand. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/thinking-of-skipping-the-home-inspection-heres-what-it-will-cost-you?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Thinking of Skipping the Home Inspection? Here's What It Will Cost You</a>)</p> <h2>8. You researched the house, but not the area</h2> <p>It's a beautiful house and you got it for a great price. But after moving in, you realize that your commute to work just doubled. Or maybe you learned that the school system is not well-regarded. Or that the neighborhood has a high crime rate. Or the home backs up to the wastewater treatment plant.</p> <p>Remember that when you buy a home, you're not just buying a property. You're selecting a place to live and possibly raise your family. There's more to home than just the structure and the yard. If you don't do the research on your new neighborhood, you could end up sorely disappointed. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-evaluate-a-neighborhood-before-you-buy?ref=seealso" target="_blank">How to Evaluate a Neighborhood Before You Buy</a>)</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/tim-lemke">Tim Lemke</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-biggest-regrets-of-new-homeowners">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-build-equity-in-your-home">How to Build Equity in Your Home</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-home-buying-habits-we-can-learn-from-millennials">4 Home-Buying Habits We Can Learn From Millennials</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/whats-faster-for-mortgage-payoff-100-month-extra-or-1-payment-year-extra">What&#039;s Faster for Mortgage Payoff: $100/Month Extra or 1 Payment/Year Extra?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-signs-youre-paying-too-much-for-your-mortgage">8 Signs You&#039;re Paying Too Much for Your Mortgage</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-money-moves-to-make-for-tomorrows-mortgage">6 Money Moves to Make for Tomorrow&#039;s Mortgage</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Real Estate and Housing house house poor inspections interest loans mortgages new homeowner payments regrets renting Tue, 06 Jun 2017 09:00:09 +0000 Tim Lemke 1959133 at http://www.wisebread.com 8 Reasons You're Still Stuck in a Financial Hole http://www.wisebread.com/8-reasons-youre-still-stuck-in-a-financial-hole <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/8-reasons-youre-still-stuck-in-a-financial-hole" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/frustrated_intern_working_on_line_at_office.jpg" alt="Frustrated intern working on line at office" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Being broke sucks. There are a million reasons why you might end up in a financial hole, and it always feels awful. The good news is you can often pull yourself out of these bad situations, especially if you make wise decisions with your money.</p> <p>On the other hand, there are also some really poor money decisions that can set you back even further. Avoid these bad calls when you're broke, and you'll stop digging yourself even deeper into debt.</p> <h2>1. Thinking nothing has to change</h2> <p>The minute you realize you're broke, your mindset has to change. How did you get here? What led to being broke? Think long and hard about these things, and understand that something has to give. Telling yourself you can continue your everyday spending habits as if nothing is wrong is only going to dig yourself deeper into a financial hole. And ignoring the problem altogether certainly won't help, either; it'll just make things much, much worse. As unpleasant as it might be to face reality and change the way you spend, it will be much more unpleasant to stay broke. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-biggest-ways-procrastination-hurts-your-finances?ref=seealso" target="_blank">7 Biggest Ways Procrastination Hurts Your Finances</a>)</p> <h2>2. Emptying the emergency fund</h2> <p>Realizing you're broke can lead to feelings of panic &mdash; being broke is an emergency, right?! Hold on. The last thing you should be doing is raiding your emergency fund to pay everyday expenses, or to continue funding the frivolous spending that landed you here. The truth is, when you're broke, you need a sound emergency fund more than ever. What happens if you lose your job, or your hot water heater dies? Without that money put away, you'll have nothing to help you get by. So, leave your emergency fund right where it is and make other changes in your budget.</p> <h2>4. Taking out a loan</h2> <p>You don't need the financial burden of new debt when you're already broke. Assuming you get approved for a loan, there's no guarantee that you'll even be able to pay it back. That puts your credit score at risk of a critical hit, and can ruin your chances of getting approved for financing in the future.</p> <p>In the same vein, never fall for a payday loan, either. Predatory lenders often target people in times of financial trouble, and are experts at marketing an attractive offer that sounds like the answer to your money troubles. In reality, the obscene interest charges and terms and conditions will leave you way worse off. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-protect-yourself-from-predatory-lending?ref=seealso" target="_blank">How to Protect Yourself From Predatory Lending</a>)</p> <h2>5. Getting buried in overdraft fees</h2> <p>When there's less money in your checking account than you're used to, take extra caution to avoid overdrawing. Overdraft fees can quickly multiply, shooting up to hundreds of dollars and putting you in an even worse financial situation. Your bank may be willing to waive some of the fees if you ask, but it's not a guarantee and certainly not a regular courtesy. If you're not sure how much money you have in your account, check it daily. With technology, there is no excuse. You can either log on to your bank's website every morning, or download your bank's app. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-ways-to-avoid-overdraft-charges?ref=seealso" target="_blank">9 Ways to Avoid Overdraft Charges</a>)</p> <h2>6. Lying about your financial state</h2> <p>Don't lie to yourself and don't lie to other people. It's hard to admit when you're in a bad money spot. But the truth is that you <em>are</em> broke, and lying will only cause more problems. Take a deep breath and be honest. Politely turn down your friends' invites to go shopping or out to dinner, and explain that you simply don't have the cash right now. They won't hold it against you. You will respect yourself more for being straightforward, and you might even pave the way for someone else to feel comfortable admitting their hardships, too.</p> <h2>7. Gambling</h2> <p>It's easy to think that one big win could solve all of your financial difficulties. But the fact of the matter is that hitting the jackpot in a casino or by playing the lotto is unlikely &mdash; very unlikely. More often than not, people lose tons of money gambling, sometimes in the blink of an eye. This certainly won't make your money troubles any easier. Think of it this way: gambling is for people who can afford to lose money. You can't, so stay away.</p> <h2>8. Refusing to give up luxuries</h2> <p>Maybe you have a maid service clean your house once per week, or you like to have your car professionally detailed. Maybe you love grabbing takeout for lunch, or eating at that great Italian place for dinner every Friday night. Maybe you love your premium cable package, and all your fun monthly subscription boxes.</p> <p>Guess what? All of these luxuries cost money you don't have, and you can go without. Clean your home and car yourself. Clip coupons and use cash back apps at the grocery store, and meal prep all your food at home. Get rid of monthly subscriptions and memberships you aren't using, and think long and hard about cable &mdash; do you really need it?</p> <p>None of these have to be permanent changes. By giving yourself a financial buffer for even a few months, you'll get back on your feet much faster.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/sarah-winfrey">Sarah Winfrey</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-reasons-youre-still-stuck-in-a-financial-hole">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/is-an-all-cash-diet-right-for-you">Is an All-Cash Diet Right for You?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-good-financial-deeds-that-can-backfire">6 Good Financial Deeds that Can Backfire</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-fun-books-that-will-get-your-kids-excited-about-money">10 Fun Books That Will Get Your Kids Excited About Money</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-living-on-a-tight-budget-makes-you-happier">How Living on a Tight Budget Makes You Happier</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-sneaky-ways-you-cheat-on-your-budget">6 Sneaky Ways You Cheat on Your Budget</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance Budgeting being broke daily expenses habits loans overdraft fees procrastination saving money Spending Money Thu, 25 May 2017 08:00:09 +0000 Sarah Winfrey 1953936 at http://www.wisebread.com 5 Ways to Turn Credit Card Rewards Into Real Wealth http://www.wisebread.com/5-ways-to-turn-credit-card-rewards-into-real-wealth <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5-ways-to-turn-credit-card-rewards-into-real-wealth" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-623196850.jpg" alt="Man turning credit card rewards into real wealth" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Using a rewards credit card is an easy way to pocket a few hundred dollars a year in cash back rewards, or earn free travel. And if you're willing to put in the effort, you'll find there are plenty of ways to parlay your points into something more meaningful and long-lasting.</p> <h2>1. Invest your cash back for the long haul</h2> <p>The simplest way to make <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-best-cash-back-credit-cards?ref=internal" target="_blank">cash back rewards</a> even more rewarding is to put the money into a retirement account and let compound interest work its magic. For example, we've worked out how to save <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-save-an-extra-109486-a-year?ref=internal" target="_blank">over a thousand dollars a year</a> using credit cards.</p> <p>Let's say you banked your $1,000 in rewards and savings and invested them in a Roth IRA each year for 20 years. If you earned an average return of 6 percent, you'd have almost $40,000 after 20 years, before fees.</p> <h2>2. Invest in experiences</h2> <p>Ask any dying person what they value most, and it won't be money they speak of. Most people look back on their lives and cherish the memories they've made &mdash; the sight of beautiful places, the laughter of their children, and the life-changing moments they've spent with the people they love.</p> <p><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/top-5-travel-reward-credit-cards?ref=internal" target="_blank">Travel rewards cards</a> may not help anyone grow rich, but they can help them afford a wide range of experiences that may otherwise be out of reach. An Alaskan cruise may fit into even a modest budget with the smart use of credit card rewards. Meanwhile, a $1000+ economy flight to Europe can be had for as little as 45,000 American Airlines frequent flyer miles, which you can earn with an <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/which-american-airlines-us-airways-credit-card-should-you-get?ref=internal" target="_blank">American Airlines credit card</a>.</p> <p>Used wisely, travel rewards can help families make memories they'll cherish for a lifetime. At the very least, they make it possible to travel farther, participate in more activities, and stay longer once you're there. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-steps-to-getting-a-free-or-close-to-free-vacation-in-9-months-or-less-with-credit-cards?ref=seealso" target="_blank">How to Earn a Free Vacation in 9 Months With Credit Card Rewards</a>)</p> <h2>3. Donate rewards to a worthy cause</h2> <p>Even if you aren't remotely interested in spending rewards, you can make a difference. Some <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/best-credit-cards-that-give-back-to-charity?ref=internal" target="_blank">credit cards give rewards directly to charities</a>. Other credit card programs let you donate your points to charity, letting you turn your regular spending into a boon for someone else.</p> <p>While each credit card rewards program works differently, most make it possible to donate your rewards to causes you believe in. And if you don't want to donate through your issuer's official program, you can always simply give the cash back you earn to your favorite charity.</p> <h2>4. Use rewards to pay down debt and save money on interest</h2> <p>If you have credit card debt, you shouldn't be chasing credit card rewards. But if you have other debt that you'd like to pay off sooner, like a car loan, you can rack up cash rewards and make an extra payment each year. This will help you reduce interest on that debt as well as pay it off sooner.</p> <h2>5. Avoid a high-interest loan</h2> <p>If you have a huge expense coming up and need to take out a loan, you can avoid interest payments and earn rewards in one fell swoop. With a credit card that offers <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-best-credit-cards-with-0-apr-for-purchases?ref=internal" target="_blank">0% APR on new purchases</a> you essentially get an interest-free loan for a limited time.</p> <p>For example, let's say you plan to finance a roomful of furniture to the tune of $5,000. You want to pay it off over a year or so, and hope to avoid huge interest payments. You can get a card that offers 0% APR for the first 15 months, allowing you to pay off that $5,000 interest free. Remember though that you have to stay committed to your plan to pay off that amount during that period. Rewards cards typically charge higher interest rates. If you don't think you'll be able to pay off your balance, you'll want instead to look into <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-best-low-interest-rate-credit-cards?ref=internal" target="_blank">low interest credit cards</a> to keep a handle on your debt. Before you pursue rewards, make sure you're prepared to use credit responsibly.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/holly-johnson">Holly Johnson</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-ways-to-turn-credit-card-rewards-into-real-wealth">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-reasons-cash-back-is-better-than-travel-rewards">6 Reasons Cash Back Is Better Than Travel Rewards</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-things-you-should-never-do-with-your-travel-rewards-credit-cards">7 Things You Should Never Do With Your Travel Rewards Credit Cards</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-ways-to-use-travel-rewards-cards-to-get-free-trips">How to Use Travel Rewards Cards to Get Free Trips</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-save-frequent-flyer-miles-that-are-about-to-expire">How to Save Frequent Flyer Miles That Are About to Expire</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-ways-to-use-miles-and-points-for-holiday-gifts">9 Ways to Use Miles and Points for Holiday Gifts</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Credit Cards cash back charity experiences interest loans miles rewards travel wealth building Mon, 22 May 2017 08:30:16 +0000 Holly Johnson 1946267 at http://www.wisebread.com Should You Ever Consider a Balloon Mortgage? http://www.wisebread.com/should-you-ever-consider-a-balloon-mortgage <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/should-you-ever-consider-a-balloon-mortgage" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-641329694.jpg" alt="Person wondering if they should ever consider a balloon mortgage" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Balloon mortgages have some tempting qualities. They come with lower interest rates and, because of this, smaller monthly payments. This can help borrowers get into a pricier home that they might not have been able to afford otherwise.</p> <p>But balloon mortgages come with one huge risk: At the end of a set period, borrowers must pay off the remaining balance on these loans in full (the &quot;balloon&quot;). And these balances can be quite large.</p> <p>So, how exactly do these mortgages work, and who do they work best for? Let's break it down.</p> <h2>How balloon mortgages work</h2> <p>A balloon mortgage comes with two parts. First, there's the standard repayment portion of the mortgage. For a set period of time, usually five to seven years, homeowners make monthly payments just like they would with a standard 30-year or 15-year fixed-rate mortgage.</p> <p>During this period, homeowners' interest rates remain the same. This is a positive because the interest rates on a balloon mortgage tend to be lower than on standard fixed-rate loans or adjustable-rate mortgages.</p> <p>After this period ends, though, the second part kicks in: You'll have to pay the balance of what you owe (the balloon payment). So if, for example, you still owe $130,000 on your mortgage at the end of your five- or seven-year period, you'll have to pay that entire $130,000.</p> <p>Obviously, that's a lot of money. But most people who take out a balloon loan never make that payment out of their own pocket. Instead, they typically plan to refinance or sell their home before the balloon payment comes due.</p> <p>If they sell the home, they can use the proceeds to pay off the loan in full. The same thing happens in a refinance: Once the refinance closes, borrowers pay off the remainder of the balloon and settle into making monthly payments on their new loan.</p> <p>Sadly, unforeseen problems can ruin this plan.</p> <h2>Problems</h2> <p>What if, during the five or seven years after taking out a balloon loan, your FICO credit score falls? Now, lenders might not approve you for a refinance. The same could happen if your monthly income drops after taking out a balloon mortgage. Lenders might worry that you no longer make enough money to afford your monthly payments, and they won't approve you for a mortgage loan.</p> <p>Then there's the question of home value. If the value of your home drops after you take out a balloon mortgage, you'll again struggle to refinance. Most lenders require that you have at least 20 percent equity in your home before they'll approve your request to refinance. If your home's value has fallen, odds are you won't have the equity you need.</p> <p>Even if you are approved for a refinance, consider that interest rates can rise between the start and end of your balloon loan. If they rise significantly, you could be stuck with a much higher monthly mortgage payment.</p> <p>If you can't refinance, you'll face some dismal options, assuming you can't afford the balloon payment on your own. The main option would be selling your home. That may not be an issue if you were planning on selling anyway, but what if you weren't? And what if you can't find a buyer? If your home has fallen in value since you took out your balloon loan, you might be forced to sell your residence for less than what you owe on your mortgage. If that happens, you still won't have enough money to pay off the balloon.</p> <p>If you can&rsquo;t make that balloon payment, either from your savings, refinancing, or selling, your lender can begin foreclosure proceedings. You could end up losing your home and watching your FICO credit score fall by 150 points or more.</p> <h2>What should you do if you can't pay the balloon?</h2> <p>If you can&rsquo;t afford that balloon payment and you can&rsquo;t refinance or sell, your best bet is to call your mortgage lender immediately. They might be willing to work with you. Maybe your lender will shift your balloon loan to an adjustable-rate or fixed-rate loan, or even extend the term of your balloon loan, giving you more years to either sell, qualify for a refinance, or save up enough to make the payment.</p> <h2>Is it ever a good idea to take out a balloon mortgage?</h2> <p>Given the risks, the short answer is: Maybe.</p> <p>If you absolutely know that you will sell your home before that balloon payment comes due, this kind of mortgage can work. You&rsquo;ll get the benefit of homeownership at a lower interest rate and lower monthly mortgage payment. The lower payments might even give you the opportunity to live in a home that you otherwise wouldn&rsquo;t have been able to afford. Then, you can sell, pay off the balloon, and move on.</p> <p>It's difficult to call a balloon mortgage worthwhile otherwise. There are positives to this type of home loan, but they can easily be outweighed by the risks.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dan-rafter">Dan Rafter</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/should-you-ever-consider-a-balloon-mortgage">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/weak-credit-you-can-still-get-a-mortgage-despite-tough-lending-standards">Weak Credit? You Can Still Get a Mortgage Despite Tough Lending Standards</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-build-equity-in-your-home">How to Build Equity in Your Home</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-biggest-regrets-of-new-homeowners">8 Biggest Regrets of New Homeowners</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-home-buying-habits-we-can-learn-from-millennials">4 Home-Buying Habits We Can Learn From Millennials</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/heres-whats-included-in-a-homes-closing-costs">Here&#039;s What&#039;s Included in a Home&#039;s Closing Costs</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Real Estate and Housing balloon mortgage buying a home homeownership loans payments refinancing Tue, 16 May 2017 08:30:14 +0000 Dan Rafter 1943631 at http://www.wisebread.com How to Face 4 Ugly Truths About Retirement Planning http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-face-4-ugly-truths-about-retirement-planning <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-to-face-4-ugly-truths-about-retirement-planning" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-155373418.jpg" alt="Learning ugly truths about retirement planning" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Most working Americans still have a long way to go to ensure a comfortable, financially secure retirement. But, with consistency and dedication, retirement planning can be a feasible project. Let's review some of the ugly truths of retirement planning, and the strategies you can use to conquer them. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-things-financial-advisers-wish-you-knew-about-retirement?ref=seealso" target="_blank">7 Things Financial Advisers Wish You Knew About Retirement</a>)</p> <h2>1. Employer matches require work</h2> <p>While people often like to think of employer matches as free money, the truth is that you do need to do some &quot;work&quot; to earn those matches.</p> <p>First, your employer may require a minimum period of employment or contribution to your retirement account before you become eligible for employer contributions. According to a Vanguard analysis of 1,900 401(k) plans with 3.6 million participants, 27 percent of employers <a href="http://money.usnews.com/money/retirement/articles/2015/06/29/how-does-your-401-k-stack-up" target="_blank">require a year of service</a> before providing any matching contributions. And that waiting period may be on top of the waiting period to be eligible for an employer-sponsored 401(k) in the first place.</p> <p>Second, once you're eligible for the employer match, you may have to contribute a minimum percentage from each paycheck yourself to get it. According to Vanguard, 44 percent of employers required a 6 percent employee contribution to get the entire 401(k) match on offer.</p> <p>Third, only 47 percent of surveyed employers provide immediate vesting of employer contributions. Since only moneys in your retirement account that are fully vested truly belong to you, you may have to wait up to six years to get to keep it all. If you part ways with your employer earlier than that, you may have to say goodbye to some or all of those employer contributions. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/15-retirement-terms-every-new-investor-needs-to-know?ref=seealso" target="_blank">15 Retirement Terms Every New Investor Needs to Know</a>)</p> <h3>How to handle it</h3> <p>Find out the applicable rules for employer contributions under your employer-sponsored retirement account. Ask about the waiting period for eligibility, how much you should contribute to get the full employer match, and what is the applicable vesting schedule for employer contributions. This way you'll know how to make the most (and keep the most!) of any employer contributions.</p> <h2>2. Full retirement age is higher than many of us think</h2> <p>According to the 2016 Retirement Confidence Survey from the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI), one in every two American workers expected to retire <a href="https://www.ebri.org/pdf/briefspdf/ebri_ib_422.mar16.rcs.pdf" target="_blank">no later than age 65</a>.</p> <p>The problem with that plan is that only those with born in 1937 or earlier have a full retirement age of 65. Your full retirement age is the age at which you first become entitled to full or unreduced retirement benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA). Retiring earlier than your full retirement age decreases your retirement benefit from the SSA.</p> <p>For those born 1960 or later, full retirement age is 67. If this were your case, retiring at age 62 or age 65 would <a href="https://www.ssa.gov/planners/retire/retirechart.html#chart" target="_blank">decrease your monthly benefit</a> by about 30 percent or 13.3 percent, respectively. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/13-crucial-social-security-terms-everyone-needs-to-know?ref=seealso" target="_blank">13 Crucial Social Security Terms Everyone Needs to Know</a>)</p> <h3>How to handle it</h3> <p>If you're one of the 84 percent of American workers expecting Social Security to be a source of income in retirement, then you need to keep track of your retirement benefits. There are two ways do this.</p> <p>First, since September 2014, the SSA mails Social Security statements to workers at ages 25, 30, 35, 40, 45, 50, 55, and 60 and over, who aren't yet receiving Social Security benefits and don't have an online &quot;my Social Security&quot; account. Here is a <a href="https://www.ssa.gov/myaccount/materials/pdfs/SSA-7005-SM-SI%20Wanda%20Worker%20Near%20retirement.pdf" target="_blank">sample of what those letters look like</a>. Second, you could sign up for a my Social Security account at <a href="http://www.ssa.gov/myaccount" target="_blank">www.ssa.gov/myaccount</a> and have access to your Social Security statement on an ongoing basis.</p> <p>Through either one of these two ways, you'll get an estimate of your retirement benefit if you were to stop working at age 62 (earliest age you're eligible to receive retirement benefits), full retirement age, and age 70 (latest age that you can continue delaying retirement to receive delayed retirement credits). That way you can plan ahead for when it would make the most sense to start taking your retirement credits.</p> <h2>3. Retirement accounts have fees</h2> <p>One of the most common myths about 401(k) plans is that they don't have any fees. The reality is that both you and your employer pay fees to plan providers offering and managing 401(k) plans. One study estimates that 71 percent of 401(k) plan holders <a href="http://www.aarp.org/work/retirement-planning/info-02-2011/401k-fees-awareness-11.html" target="_blank">aren't aware that they pay fees</a>.</p> <p>While an annual fee of 1 to 2 percent of your account balance may not sound like much, it can greatly reduce your nest egg. If you were to contribute $10,000 per year for 30 years in a plan with a 7 percent annual rate of return and an 0.5 percent annual expense ratio, you would end up with a balance of $920,000 at the end of the 30-year period. If the annual expense ratio were to increase to 1 percent or 2 percent, your final balance would be $840,000 or just under $700,000, respectively.</p> <h3>How to handle it</h3> <p>One way to start minimizing investment fees is to pay attention to the annual expense ratio of the funds that you select.</p> <ul> <li>When deciding between two comparable funds, choose the one with the lower annual expense ratio. Research has shown that funds with a lower expense ratio tend to better performers, so you would be minimizing fees <em>and </em>increasing your chances of higher returns.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Explore index funds. For example, the Vanguard 500 Index Investor Shares fund [<a href="https://finance.yahoo.com/q?s=vfinx" target="_blank">Nasdaq: VFINX</a>] has an annual expense ratio of 0.14 percent, which is around 84 percent lower than the average expense ratio of funds with similar holdings. The Admiral version of this equity index fund has an even lower annual expense ratio of 0.05 percent.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Check the prospectus of your funds for a schedule of fees. From redemption fees to 12b-1 fees, there are plenty of potential charges. Review the fine print of any fund that you're considering investing in and understand the rules to avoid triggering fees. For example, you may need to hold a fund for at least 65 days to prevent triggering a redemption fee. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/watch-out-for-these-5-sneaky-401k-fees?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Watch Out for These 5 Sneaky 401(k) Fees</a>)</li> </ul> <h2>4. 401(k) loans are eating away nest eggs</h2> <p>According to the latest data from the EBRI, 23 percent of American workers <a href="https://www.ebri.org/pdf/briefspdf/ebri_ib_422.mar16.rcs.pdf" target="_blank">took a loan</a> from their retirement savings plans in 2016. On top of the applicable interest rate on your loan, you'll also be liable for an origination fee and an ongoing maintenance fee. Given that origination fees range from <a href="http://www.nber.org/papers/w17118.pdf" target="_blank">$25 to $100</a> and maintenance fees can go up to $75, 401(k) loans are one expensive form of financing. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-questions-to-ask-before-you-borrow-from-your-retirement-account?ref=seealso" target="_blank">5 Questions to Ask Before You Borrow From Your Retirement Account</a>)</p> <p>Additionally, when you separate from your employer, the full unpaid balance is due within 60 days from your departure. If you don't pay back in time, that balance becomes taxable income, triggering potential penalties at the federal, state, and local level. One penalty that always applies is the 10 percent early distribution tax for retirement savers under age 59-1/2.</p> <h3>How to handle it</h3> <p>Don't borrow from your retirement account. Studies have shown that 401(k) borrowers tend to come back for additional loans, increasing their chances of default. One study found that 25 percent of 401(k) borrowers came back for a <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/17/your-money/one-dip-into-401-k-savings-often-leads-to-another.html" target="_blank">third or fourth loan</a>, and 20 percent of 401(k) borrowers came back for <em>five </em>or more loans. Borrowing from your retirement account should be a very last-resort option because there are few instances when it's worth it. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/this-is-when-you-should-borrow-from-your-retirement-account?ref=seealso" target="_blank">This Is When You Should Borrow From Your Retirement Account</a>)</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/damian-davila">Damian Davila</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-face-4-ugly-truths-about-retirement-planning">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-traps-to-avoid-with-your-401k">7 Traps to Avoid With Your 401(k)</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-age-milestones-that-impact-your-retirement">6 Age Milestones That Impact Your Retirement</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/three-of-the-toughest-decisions-youll-face-in-retirement">Three of the Toughest Decisions You&#039;ll Face in Retirement</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/why-tax-day-is-april-15-and-other-weird-financial-deadlines">Why Tax Day Is April 15 and Other Weird Financial Deadlines</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-inventor-of-the-401k-has-second-thoughts-about-your-retirement-plan-now-what">The Inventor of the 401K Has Second Thoughts About Your Retirement Plan — Now What?</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Retirement 401(k) contributions employer match fees full retirement age loans nest egg social security ugly truths Fri, 07 Apr 2017 08:00:13 +0000 Damian Davila 1922316 at http://www.wisebread.com 7 Traps to Avoid With Your 401(k) http://www.wisebread.com/7-traps-to-avoid-with-your-401k <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/7-traps-to-avoid-with-your-401k" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-163904271.jpg" alt="Finding traps to avoid with your 401(k)" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="142" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>More and more Americans are choosing an employer-sponsored 401(k) as their preferred way to build up their nest eggs. As of 2014, an estimated 52 million Americans were participating in a 401(k)-type plan.</p> <p>When used properly, a 401(k) can be a powerful tool to save for your retirement years, but there are a couple of crucial pitfalls that you have to watch out for. From high fees to limited investing choices, here is a list of potential downsides to 401(k) plans &mdash; and how to work around them.</p> <h2>1. Waiting to set up your 401(k)</h2> <p>Depending on the applicable rules from your employer-sponsored 401(k), you may be eligible to enroll in the plan within one to 12 months from your start date. If your eligibility kicks in around December, you may think that it's fine to wait until the next year to set up your retirement account.</p> <p>This is a big mistake for two main reasons.</p> <p>First, contributing to your 401(k) with pretax dollars allows you to effectively reduce your taxable income for the current year. In 2017, you can contribute up to $18,000 ($24,000 if age 50 or over) to your 401(k), so you can considerably reduce your tax liability. For example, if you were to contribute $3,000 between your last two paychecks in December, you would reduce your taxable income by $3,000. Waiting until next year to start your 401(k) contribution would mean missing out on a lower taxable income!</p> <p>Second, your employer can still contribute to your 401(k) next year and make that contribution count for the current year, as long as your plan was set up by December 31 of the current year. Your employer contributions have to be in before Tax Day or the date that you file your federal taxes, whichever is earlier.</p> <h3>How to work around it</h3> <p>If you meet the requirements to participate in your employer-sponsored 401(k) toward the end of the year, make sure to set up your account by December 31st. That way, you'll be ready to reduce your taxable income for the current year through your own contributions and those from your employer before their applicable deadline (December 31 and Tax Day or date of tax filing (whichever is earlier), respectively).</p> <h2>2. Forgetting to update contributions</h2> <p>When you set up your 401(k), you have to choose a percentage that will be deducted from every paycheck and put into your plan. It's not uncommon that plan holders set that contribution percentage and forget it. As your life situation changes, such as when you get a major salary boost, marry, or have your first child, you'll find that your contributions may be too big or too small. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-times-its-okay-to-delay-retirement-savings?ref=seealso" target="_blank">5 Times It's Okay to Delay Retirement Savings</a>)</p> <h3>How to work around it</h3> <p>To keep a contribution level that is appropriate to your unique financial situation, revisit your percentage contribution every year and whenever you have a major life change. Don't forget to also check whether or not you elected an annual increase option &mdash; a percentage by which your contribution is increased automatically each year &mdash; and adjust it as necessary.</p> <h2>3. Missing out on maximum employer match</h2> <p>Talking about contributions, don't forget that your employer may contribute to your plan as well. In a survey of 360 employers, <a href="https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/hr-topics/benefits/pages/bigger-401k-matches.aspx" target="_blank">42 percent of respondents</a> matched employee contributions dollar-for-dollar, and 56 percent of them only required employees to contribute at least 6 percent from paychecks to receive a maximum employer match.</p> <h3>How to work around it</h3> <p>Employers require you to work a minimum period of time before starting to match your contribution. Once you're eligible, meet the necessary contribution to maximize your employer match. One estimate puts the average missed employer contribution at $1,336 per year. This is free money that you can use to make up for lower contribution levels from previous months or years.</p> <h2>4. Sticking only with actively managed funds</h2> <p>When choosing from available funds in their 401(k) plan, account holders tend to focus on returns. There was a time in which actively managed funds were able to deliver on their promise of beating the market and delivering higher-than-average returns. That's why 401(k) savers often choose them.</p> <p>However, passively managed index funds &mdash; funds tracing an investment index, such as the S&amp;P 500 or the Russell 2000 &mdash; have consistently proven that they can beat actively managed funds. Over the five past years, only 39 percent of active fund managers were able to beat their benchmarks, which is often an index. That's why over the same period, investors have taken $5.6 billion out of active funds and dumped $1.7 trillion into passive funds.</p> <h3>How to work around it</h3> <p>Find out whether or not your 401(k) offers you access to index funds. Over a long investment period, empirical evidence has shown that index funds outperform actively managed funds. Review available index funds and choose the ones that meet your retirement strategy. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/3-steps-to-getting-started-in-the-stock-market-with-index-funds?ref=seealso" target="_blank">3 Steps to Getting Started in the Stock Market With Index Funds</a>)</p> <h2>5. Chasing high returns instead of lower costs</h2> <p>When reading the prospectus of any fund, you'll always find a disclaimer warning you that past returns aren't a guarantee of future returns. So, why are you holding onto those numbers so dearly? As early as 2010, investment think tank Morningstar concluded that a fund's annual expense ratio is the only reliable indicator of future investment performance, even better than the research firm's well-known star rating.</p> <p>And guess what kind of funds have the lowest annual expense ratios? Index funds! For example, the Vanguard 500 Index Investor Shares fund [Nasdaq: <a href="https://finance.yahoo.com/quote/VFINX?p=VFINX" target="_blank">VFINX</a>] has an annual expense ratio of 0.16 percent, <a href="https://personal.vanguard.com/us/funds/snapshot?FundId=0040&amp;FundIntExt=INT" target="_blank">which is 84 percent lower</a> than the average expense ratio of funds with similar holdings. If your 401(k) gives you access to lowest cost <a href="https://personal.vanguard.com/us/funds/snapshot?FundIntExt=INT&amp;FundId=0540" target="_blank">Vanguard Admiral shares</a>, you would shed down that annual expense ratio even further to 0.05 percent.</p> <h3>How to work around It</h3> <p>When evaluating a fund in your 401(k), look for comparable alternatives, including index funds. To maximize the growth of your nest egg, chase funds with lower annual expense ratios and investment fees. Regardless of their performance (which tends to be better anyway!), you'll minimize your investment cost. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/watch-out-for-these-5-sneaky-401k-fees?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Watch Out for These 5 Sneaky 401(k) Fees</a>)</p> <h2>6. Not periodically rebalancing your portfolio</h2> <p>Even when choosing index funds, you still need to periodically adjust your portfolio. Let's assume that you follow this investment recommendation from Warren Buffett for your 401(k): <a href="http://www.berkshirehathaway.com/letters/2013ltr.pdf" target="_blank">90 percent in a low-cost index fund</a>, and 10 percent in government bonds. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-pieces-of-financial-wisdom-from-warren-buffett?ref=seealso" target="_blank">The 5 Best Pieces of Financial Wisdom From Warren Buffett</a>)</p> <p>Depending on the market, your portfolio allocation may be way off as early as one quarter. If the S&amp;P 500 were to have a huge rally, you may now be holding 95 percent of your 401(k) in the index fund. That would be much more risk that you may be comfortable with, so you would need to take that 5 percent and put it back into government bonds. On the other hand, holding 85 percent in government bonds would make you miss your target return for that year. Forgetting to <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-most-important-thing-youre-probably-not-doing-with-your-portfolio?ref=internal" target="_blank">rebalance your portfolio</a> once a year when necessary is one easy way to derail your saving strategy.</p> <h3>How to work around it</h3> <p>Many 401(k) plans offer an automatic annual rebalancing feature. Review the fine print of this feature with your plan and decide whether or not it's suitable for you. If your plan doesn't offer an automatic rebalancing feature, choose a date that makes the most sense to you and set it as your day to rebalance your portfolio every year.</p> <h2>7. Taking out 401(k) loans</h2> <p>Treating your 401(k) as a credit card is a bad idea for several reasons. Doing this:</p> <ul> <li>Creates additional costs, such as origination and maintenance fees;<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Becomes due in full within 60 days of separating from your employer;<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Turns into taxable income when not paid back, triggering potential penalties from the IRS and state and local governments; and<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>May quickly turn into a bad habit: <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/17/your-money/one-dip-into-401-k-savings-often-leads-to-another.html" target="_blank">25 percent of 401(k) borrowers</a> go back for a third or fourth loan, and 20 percent of them take out at least five loans.</li> </ul> <h3>How to work around it</h3> <p>Treat your 401(k) as a last-resort source of financing. There are very few instances when you should <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/this-is-when-you-should-borrow-from-your-retirement-account?ref=internal" target="_blank">borrow from your retirement account</a>. Make sure that you go through all of your credit options and include the opportunity cost of foregoing retirement savings, including potential taxes and penalties, when comparing a 401(k) loan against another type of loan.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/damian-davila">Damian Davila</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-traps-to-avoid-with-your-401k">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-3"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-face-4-ugly-truths-about-retirement-planning">How to Face 4 Ugly Truths About Retirement Planning</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/bookmark-this-a-step-by-step-guide-to-choosing-401k-investments">Bookmark This: A Step-by-Step Guide to Choosing 401(k) Investments</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-save-for-retirement-when-you-are-unemployed">How to Save for Retirement When You Are Unemployed</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-age-milestones-that-impact-your-retirement">6 Age Milestones That Impact Your Retirement</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/why-warren-buffett-says-you-should-invest-in-index-funds">Why Warren Buffett Says You Should Invest in Index Funds</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Retirement 401(k) actively managed funds contributions employer match employment fees index funds loans rebalancing Thu, 23 Mar 2017 09:00:15 +0000 Damian Davila 1909973 at http://www.wisebread.com 8 Signs You're Paying Too Much for Your Mortgage http://www.wisebread.com/8-signs-youre-paying-too-much-for-your-mortgage <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/8-signs-youre-paying-too-much-for-your-mortgage" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-495980844.jpg" alt="Learning signs that you&#039;re paying too much for your mortgage" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Buying a home can be a great step along the path to financial freedom, but it can also become a burden if you're not careful. A mortgage can be a heavy weight on your finances if you either buy a house you can't afford, or get locked into unfavorable loan terms.</p> <p>Here's how to tell if your mortgage is too expensive.</p> <h2>1. You Are Having Trouble Making Ends Meet</h2> <p>No matter what you do, you feel like you're struggling to get ahead financially. It always seems like there's only a small amount leftover at the end of each month to pay bills or place into savings. It could be that your house is weighing you down. If you're working too hard to get ahead with your money, it may be time to <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/refi-shy-how-to-determine-if-now-is-the-time-to-refinance?ref=internal" target="_blank">refinance your mortgage</a> or move into a less expensive home.</p> <h2>2. It's Eating Up More Than 30% of Your Income</h2> <p>The federal government advises that homeowners should avoid paying more than 30% of their income on housing. The theory behind this number is that for most people, keeping payments below this level will leave them with enough to pay for other non-discretionary spending. Keep in mind that many lenders will approve prospective homeowners for a loan even if their payments would be above that 30% threshold. Lenders will often instead refer to a person's &quot;debt-to-income&quot; ratio, and will lend if that ratio is as high as 43% &mdash; and banks went even higher during the housing bubble.</p> <p>Even if you are comfortably able to make your mortgage payments, it's wise to try and get under the 30% threshold. After all, more money in your pocket means more money to take care of your other financial obligations, invest for the future, or simply enjoy life.</p> <h2>3. Your Interest Rate Is Higher Than Everyone Else's</h2> <p>It's very easy to get a fixed-rate mortgage, make the payments, and not concern yourself with how interest rates are going up and down. But you never want to be locked into a higher rate than necessary. If you bought your home more than a decade ago, chances are your interest rate is higher than what's available now. The rate on a 30-year fixed rate mortgage is a little over 4% right now. If your rate is considerably higher, look to refinance and see what you can save.</p> <h2>4. You Are Barely Making a Dent in the Loan Principal</h2> <p>You've been making mortgage payments for years, but every time you look at your account statement, it seems like the principal balance barely budges. What gives? It's normal to pay mostly interest when you first get a loan, but over time your money should increasingly go toward paying off principal. If you find that you're not paying down the loan as quickly as you want, it could be because your interest rate is too high or your term is too long (or both.)</p> <h2>5. Your Income Has Gone Up</h2> <p>When you bought your house, your interest rate was based at least partially on your household income. But if you've received multiple pay raises since, you might qualify for a lower rate. Or, you may be able to refinance into a shorter loan term, thus saving you money in interest over time.</p> <h2>6. Your Credit Score Has Improved</h2> <p>A mortgage interest rate is also partially based on a homeowner's credit score when they apply for a loan. If your credit score was mediocre back then, there's a chance you got stuck with a high rate. If you've worked hard to be financially responsible ever since, your credit score may be much higher. Thus, you may be able to refinance your mortgage into a lower rate. According to FICO, a person with a credit score of 650 might pay as much as $100 more per month on a $200,000, 30-year fixed loan than someone with a score of 800. That could add up to tens of thousands of dollars over the course of a loan. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-easy-ways-to-raise-your-credit-score-this-year?ref=seealso" target="_blank">7 Easy Ways to Raise Your Credit Score This Year</a>)</p> <h2>7. Your ARM Just Adjusted</h2> <p>During the housing bubble, many homeowners were lured into adjustable rate mortgages that offered low interest rates initially and then jumped after a certain number of years. (In 2005, these loans made up nearly 40% of the mortgage market.) Many families saw their payments increase sharply and beyond what they could afford. If you currently have an adjustable rate mortgage, make sure you are prepared to make payments once the interest rate adjusts upward. Otherwise, consider refinancing to a fixed mortgage with a low rate.</p> <h2>8. You Are Paying for Mortgage Insurance</h2> <p>Many lenders require borrowers to pay <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-is-private-mortgage-insurance-anyway?ref=internal" target="_blank">private mortgage insurance</a> (PMI) if they put less than 20% down on a home. This is to protect the lender if a home ends up in foreclosure. Mortgage insurance essentially adds to your cost of homeownership, often to the tune of hundreds of dollars annually. This requirement goes away once your principal balance drops below 78%. Ideally, you want to avoid paying PMI altogether by putting more than 20% down. This also means you're borrowing less overall and will save money in the long run. But if you can't quite save that much up front, work aggressively toward paying off your loan so you can get rid of the PMI requirement sooner.</p> <div class="bankrateWidget" app="ratetables" kind="tabbed" template="standard" pkey="yxx5914ebb" tabs="mortgage" rowsperpage="4" fontfamily="Overpass" mtgheadertext="Best Mortgage Loan Rates" mtgloanamount="$200,000" mtgdefaultloantype="refinance" pid="kawb"></div> <script src="//widgets.bankrate.com/booter.js" ></script><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/tim-lemke">Tim Lemke</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-signs-youre-paying-too-much-for-your-mortgage">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/do-you-really-need-a-20-percent-down-payment-for-a-house">Do You Really Need a 20 Percent Down Payment for a House?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/heres-what-to-do-if-you-cant-afford-your-mortgage-payment">Here&#039;s What to Do If You Can&#039;t Afford Your Mortgage Payment</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-is-private-mortgage-insurance-anyway">What Is Private Mortgage Insurance, Anyway?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-build-equity-in-your-home">How to Build Equity in Your Home</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-tax-deductions-new-homeowners-shouldnt-skip">4 Tax Deductions New Homeowners Shouldn&#039;t Skip</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Real Estate and Housing adjustable rate down payment fixed rate interest loans mortgage pmi private mortgage insurance saving Fri, 10 Mar 2017 10:00:23 +0000 Tim Lemke 1902766 at http://www.wisebread.com