loans http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/1008/all en-US 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-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-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/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-3 views-row-odd"> <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> <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-reasons-early-retirement-might-be-financially-risky">4 Reasons Early Retirement Might Be Financially Risky</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/7-things-financial-advisers-wish-you-knew-about-retirement">7 Things Financial Advisers Wish You Knew About Retirement</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-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/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/why-warren-buffett-says-you-should-invest-in-index-funds">Why Warren Buffett Says You Should Invest in Index Funds</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/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> <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-your-retirement-is-on-track">8 Signs Your Retirement Is on Track</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/15-retirement-terms-every-new-investor-needs-to-know">15 Retirement Terms Every New Investor Needs to Know</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> <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/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-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-ways-to-qualify-for-a-mortgage-with-a-small-downpayment">5 Ways to Qualify for a Mortgage With a Small Downpayment</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/4-tax-deductions-new-homeowners-shouldnt-skip">4 Tax Deductions New Homeowners Shouldn&#039;t Skip</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/what-is-private-mortgage-insurance-anyway">What Is Private Mortgage Insurance, Anyway?</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 How to Protect Yourself From Predatory Lending http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-protect-yourself-from-predatory-lending <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-to-protect-yourself-from-predatory-lending" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-479413254_0.jpg" alt="Man learning how to recognize predatory lending" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="142" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Predatory lending has long been a problem for consumers. There is no exact definition of a predatory lender, but in general, these lenders either try to overcharge consumers for loans, or talk them into riskier loans that come with higher interest rates. Predatory lenders have one goal: They want to make as much money as possible on their loans, regardless of whether the loan product actually makes financial sense for the consumers.</p> <p>How, exactly, do people fall for this? It's actually not surprising when you understand the degree of manipulation predatory lenders will use. By targeting mainly elderly, low-income, or simply uninformed victims, these financial predators bank on convincing folks with poor or no credit that they have no other options for obtaining financing.</p> <p>If you don't fit the above criteria, don't think you're completely off their radar, either. Should you ever lose your job, need cash for an emergency, or suddenly find yourself facing steep medical bills, you just might be the next target of a predatory lender.</p> <p>Worried that a predatory lender might have targeted you? Here are the warning signs.</p> <h2>The Lender Wants You to Sign Now</h2> <p>Honest lenders will never pressure you to sign loan documents before you are comfortable. Legitimate lenders give you time to study the paperwork and research the fees and rates associated with the loan.</p> <p>Predatory lenders want you to sign paperwork as quickly as possible. That way, they can stick you with their high-cost loans before you have the chance to research lower-cost alternatives. Never do business with a lender who pressures you to act quickly. The odds are high that such a lender is a predator.</p> <h2>The Interest Rate Suddenly Rises</h2> <p>Predatory lenders like to entice new customers by advertising below-market interest rates on their websites or print ads. But when you actually call these lenders, you're told that you don't qualify for these low rates. Once these lenders have you on the phone, they'll try to convince you to sign up for a loan with a far higher rate.</p> <p>Don't fall for this trick. Companies that advertise interest rates that are far lower than their competitors are usually not trustworthy. The odds are high that these are predatory lenders trying to trick gullible borrowers.</p> <h2>They Tell You Not to Worry About Your Credit Score</h2> <p>Legitimate lenders rely heavily on your FICO credit score to determine if you should qualify for a loan and at what interest rate. This score tells lenders how well you've paid your bills in the past.</p> <p>Beware of lenders who say that your credit score doesn't matter or that they can approve you for a loan no matter how low your score is. Lenders who make these promises will charge you sky-high interest rates because they know that you're desperate for a loan. You're much better off working to <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-use-credit-cards-to-improve-your-credit-score?ref=internal" target="_blank">improve your credit score</a> than taking out a costly high-interest-rate loan. Pay all your bills on time and pay down as much of your credit card debt as possible. Slowly, but steadily, your credit score will start to rise, and you can avoid the high rates of predatory lenders. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-ways-to-pay-off-high-interest-credit-card-debt?ref=seealso" target="_blank">5 Ways to Pay Off High Interest Credit Card Debt</a>)</p> <h2>The Lender Asks You to Lie</h2> <p>Making false claims about your income or debt on a loan application is a crime, and you could face significant fines if you do. Predatory lenders, though, might encourage you to inflate your income or provide other false information.</p> <p>Ignore this temptation. No legitimate lender will ask you to lie on an application. Instead, lenders will take extra steps to make sure that the information you do provide on an application is true. For instance, they'll ask you to provide copies of your most recent paycheck stubs, bank account statements, and tax returns to verify your income.</p> <h2>Your Lender Tries to Talk You Into a Riskier Loan</h2> <p>Be careful if your lender continues to push a loan that sounds risky. Maybe you want to apply for a fixed-rate loan with a term of 15 or 30 years. If your lender pressures you to instead apply for an interest-only loan with a balloon payment &mdash; or something equally as complicated or risky &mdash; walk away. Legitimate lenders will never try to talk you into a loan that you don't want.</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-protect-yourself-from-predatory-lending">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-10"> <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/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-2 views-row-even"> <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> <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-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-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-overdraft-protection-racket-why-banks-want-you-to-overdraw-and-how-you-can-get-your-money-back">The Overdraft Protection Racket: Why Banks Want You To Overdraw, And How You Can Get Your Money Back.</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-avoid-a-sweetheart-scam">How to Avoid a &quot;Sweetheart Scam&quot;</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance Consumer Affairs credit score interest rates lies loans manipulation predatory lending risk scams warning signs Tue, 07 Mar 2017 10:31:34 +0000 Dan Rafter 1901334 at http://www.wisebread.com Why the Age of Your Credit History Matters http://www.wisebread.com/why-the-age-of-your-credit-history-matters <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/why-the-age-of-your-credit-history-matters" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-472468032.jpg" alt="the age of your credit history" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>A healthy credit score shouldn't be underestimated.</p> <p>This three-digit number plays a pivotal role in your financial life, including whether or not you'll qualify for auto loans, mortgages, or credit cards, and if so, what interest rates you'll pay. It can even affect your career, particularly if it's in the finance field: A brokerage firm isn't likely to hire a candidate they suspect isn't good with money. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/15-surprising-ways-bad-credit-can-hurt-you?ref=seealso" target="_blank">15 Surprising Ways Bad Credit Can Hurt You</a>)</p> <p>Given how much weight your credit score carries, you should do everything within your power to maintain a high score. Yet, before you can maintain a good score, you have to understand the components that make up your credit score.</p> <h2>What Makes Up Your Credit Score</h2> <p>Credit scores aren't determined by a single factor, but rather multiple factors. Once you open a credit account, your creditors report account activity to the credit bureaus on a regular basis. The bureaus compile data related to your accounts, and based on reported information, the bureaus formulate a credit score.</p> <p>It probably comes as no surprise that your payment history and the amounts you owe have a tremendous impact on your personal score. Your payment history makes up 35% of your score, while the amount you owe makes up 30% of your score. If you pay your bills on time, avoid delinquencies, and keep your balances within a reasonable range, you'll eventually build up to a solid score.</p> <p>But even when you take these measures, good credit doesn't happen overnight. Because there's another factor that contributes to your overall score: When credit bureaus formulate credit scores, they also take into account the <em>age </em>of your credit history.</p> <p>The age or length of your credit history &mdash; which makes up 15% of your credit score &mdash; doesn't have as big an impact on your score as your payment history and amounts owed. Still, you shouldn't downplay the importance of credit age.</p> <h2>How Credit Age Relates to Credit Risk</h2> <p>Most of us rely on credit for an auto loan, a house, and a credit card. Even so, being a creditor is risky business, and banks don't arbitrarily approve credit applications. They consider several factors before approving financing, such as your income and your credit score. Even if you have adequate income and pay your bills on time, the bank might reject your application if you don't meet the minimum credit score requirement for a loan. This can happen if you have a young credit history. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/why-you-need-credit-and-how-to-build-it-from-scratch?ref=seealso" target="_blank">How to Build Your Credit From Scratch</a>)</p> <p>The age of credit history affects overall scores because a longer history provides a better assessment of risk level. Credit age takes two elements into consideration: the age of your oldest account, and the average age of all your accounts. The longer accounts remain open, the more your credit matures. And as your credit matures, credit scoring models slowly add points to your score.</p> <p>To illustrate, if you've had a credit history for the past six years with no negative activity appearing on your credit report, credit bureaus evaluate your entire borrowing pattern, and based on your history and record, deem you a responsible borrower. This is a fairly accurate assessment given the length of credit history. As a responsible borrower, you're rewarded with additional credit score points.</p> <p>But let's say you've only had a credit file for six months or a year. Given your short credit history, credit bureaus can't accurately rate creditworthiness. Despite paying your bills on time, you don't have a long borrowing track record. There just isn't enough evidence to gauge how well you manage credit &mdash; this happens with time. You have a short credit history, and unfortunately, your credit score pays the price. The good news, however, is that this is a temporary problem.</p> <h2>What Can You Do?</h2> <p>Credit scores range from 300 to 850. If you're aiming for a <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-ways-life-is-amazing-with-an-800-credit-score?ref=internal" target="_blank">perfect credit score</a>, understand that it takes years of responsible credit habits to achieve. It doesn't matter how well you manage your credit accounts in the first one or two years, you probably won't have as high of a credit score as someone who's had A+ credit for eight or nine years &mdash; but you can get there.</p> <p>Remember, your payment history and the amount you owe make up 35% and 30% of your credit score, respectively. So while your credit score might be low due to a short credit history today, keeping your credit card balances low and making timely monthly payments will gradually increase your score. (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> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/mikey-rox">Mikey Rox</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/why-the-age-of-your-credit-history-matters">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-11"> <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-surprising-ways-revolving-debt-helps-you">5 Surprising Ways Revolving Debt Helps 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/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> <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-protect-yourself-from-predatory-lending">How to Protect Yourself From Predatory Lending</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-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-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-reasons-why-youre-too-old-or-too-young-for-a-mortgage-loan">4 Reasons Why You&#039;re Too Old — Or Too Young — For a Mortgage Loan</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance age credit bureaus credit history credit score interest rates loans on time payments risk Tue, 07 Mar 2017 10:01:04 +0000 Mikey Rox 1901331 at http://www.wisebread.com Why You Shouldn't Panic If Your Credit Score Drops http://www.wisebread.com/why-you-shouldnt-panic-if-your-credit-score-drops <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/why-you-shouldnt-panic-if-your-credit-score-drops" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_shocked_bills_183361464.jpg" alt="Woman learning not to panic after a credit score drop" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Credit scores matter &mdash; in a big way. Mortgage lenders rely on these numbers to determine who qualifies for home loans and at what interest rates. You'll struggle to <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-best-credit-cards-for-people-with-excellent-credit?ref=internal">qualify for the best credit cards</a> if your score is too low. And getting an auto loan? A low score will leave you again with higher interest rates, if you can find financing at all.</p> <p>So what if your credit score takes a fall? First, don't panic. Second, it's time to take the steps necessary to <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-rebuild-your-credit-in-8-simple-steps?ref=internal">boost your score</a>.</p> <h2>How Scores Work</h2> <p>Before panicking over a credit score drop, it's important to learn how scores work.</p> <p>The most important credit score is your FICO credit score. Generally, lenders consider a FICO score of 740 or more to be in the top range. But if your score is under 640, you'll struggle to qualify for mortgage or auto loans. And when you do qualify, you'll pay high interest rates because lenders view you as a risky borrower.</p> <p>Your credit score is a quick representation of how well you've handled your credit in the past. If you have a history of mailing in credit card payments late, your score will fall. If you've missed payments on your auto loan in the recent past, your score will, again, take a tumble. A large amount of credit card debt could hurt your score, too. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/this-one-ratio-is-the-key-to-a-good-credit-score?ref=seealso">The Most Important Ratio That Determines Your Credit Score</a>)</p> <p>If you instead have a history of paying your bills on time and have a manageable amount of credit card debt, you should have a solid FICO credit score.</p> <h2>Checking Your Score</h2> <p>You can order one free copy of each of your three credit reports &mdash; maintained by the national credit bureaus of TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax &mdash; each year from AnnualCreditReport.com. This report will list your credit card, auto, mortgage, and other open accounts. It will also list any of your missed or late payments from the last seven years.</p> <p>This is important information to have: It can tell you quickly why your credit score might be lower than you thought. A single missed or late payment can drop your credit score by more than 100 points.</p> <p>But a credit report doesn't list your credit score. To get your score, you'll usually have to pay. You can spend about $15 to order your FICO credit score from Experian, Equifax, or TransUnion. Each of the scores from these credit bureaus might be slightly different, but they should all be fairly similar.</p> <p>Your credit card provider might <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-credit-cards-that-offer-free-credit-scores?ref=internal">provide your credit score</a> with each bill it sends you, too. A growing number of card providers are doing this. Be careful, though: This score might not be your official FICO score, but instead an alternative score. These alternative scores do generally sync up with what your actual FICO score might be, but it's best to order your FICO score if you want to see the same credit score that mortgage and auto lenders will see.</p> <h2>If Your Score Has Dropped</h2> <p>What if your score has taken a fall since the last time you reviewed it? What if it's much lower than you expected?</p> <p>Again, this is not the time to panic. It's the time to act.</p> <p>First, try to determine <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-surprising-ways-to-negatively-affect-your-credit-score?ref=internal">why your score might have fallen</a>. Some reasons are obvious: If you forgot to pay your auto loan earlier this year or if you sent in a credit card payment more than 30 days late, your score could dip by 100 points or more. But smaller dips &mdash; ranging from 10 to 60 points or so &mdash; can be the result of less obvious financial missteps.</p> <p>Did you close a credit card lately? You might think that's a smart financial move. After all, once you've paid off a credit card account, you don't want to run up its balance again. By closing it, that can't happen.</p> <p>But closing a credit card can ruin something called your <em>credit utilization ratio</em>. This ratio measures how much of your available credit you are using at any one time. Using too much of your available credit can cause your FICO score to fall. Closing an open credit card account can immediately weaken this ratio. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-times-its-okay-to-close-a-credit-card?ref=seealso">5 Times It's Okay to Close a Credit Card</a>)</p> <p>Here's an example: Say you have three credit cards all with an available credit limit of $3,000. This gives you a total available credit of $9,000. Say you also have $3,000 worth of credit card debt. You are now using 33% of your available credit.</p> <p>If you close one of those cards, you'll immediately lower the amount of credit available to you by $3,000, from $9,000 to $6,000. If you have the same $3,000 of credit card debt, you are now using 50% of your available credit, for a significantly higher credit utilization ratio.</p> <p>Another reason for a sudden fall in your FICO credit score: Have you been applying for several new credit cards? If you are, your score can fall. Every time you apply for a new form of credit, something called an <em>inquiry </em>is filed on your credit report. Each inquiry can cause your credit score to fall by a small amount, maybe one to five points. If you make several inquiries for new credit at the same time, this can cause a bigger drop to your score.</p> <p>The good news is that inquiries don't always hurt your score by much. Say you are ready to apply for a mortgage loan and you are shopping around with different mortgage lenders. Each of these lenders will run a credit check on you. Each of the inquiries that these lenders make, though, will be counted as just one total inquiry. That's because you are applying for one mortgage loan, not several new credit cards.</p> <h2>Fixing a Drop</h2> <p>Once you determine why your credit score has fallen, it's time to fix the problem.</p> <p>Realize, though, that if your score has fallen significantly from a missed or late payment, it will take time to recover. Pay your bills on time and cut back on your credit card debt. Do this for a long enough period of time &mdash; several months, maybe a year or longer &mdash; and your FICO credit score will steadily improve. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-ways-to-increase-your-credit-score-quickly?ref=seealso">How to Improve Your Credit Score Quickly</a>)</p> <p>If your score has fallen by a smaller amount, say 10 to 50 points, your recovery period will be shorter. Often, these drops will fix themselves. Pay down a good chunk of your credit card debt &mdash; without closing any credit card accounts &mdash; and your score should improve. Keep paying your bills on time every month, and, again, your score will rise.</p> <p>There are no quick fixes for drops in your credit score. But there are also no scores that can't be rebuilt. All it requires is patience, a willingness to <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/fastest-way-to-pay-off-10000-in-credit-card-debt?ref=internal">pay down large amounts of credit card debt</a> and a vow to pay all of your bills on time every month.</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/why-you-shouldnt-panic-if-your-credit-score-drops">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-surprising-ways-revolving-debt-helps-you">5 Surprising Ways Revolving Debt Helps 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/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-3 views-row-odd"> <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> <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-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-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-protect-yourself-from-predatory-lending">How to Protect Yourself From Predatory Lending</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance credit history credit score FICO score interest rates loans qualifying Thu, 15 Dec 2016 10:00:09 +0000 Dan Rafter 1852821 at http://www.wisebread.com Earn More Interest by Reducing Savings Friction http://www.wisebread.com/earn-more-interest-by-reducing-savings-friction <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/earn-more-interest-by-reducing-savings-friction" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_shopping_phone_513937132.jpg" alt="Woman earning more interest by reducing savings friction" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Friction is the small resistance that stands between you and a transaction. Think of the way your favorite e-tailers remember your credit card information, saving you the hassle of having to get up, find your wallet, and type in your information. Those e-tailers are reducing the friction of your purchase, making it that much more likely for you to buy.</p> <h2>Transaction Costs</h2> <p>We've talked before about how friction is another term for <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/save-more-and-spend-less-by-increasing-your-mental-transaction-costs">mental transaction costs</a>. These are the nonfinancial costs associated with making a purchase or transferring money to a savings account. There are several types of transaction costs that increase friction, but the two that are most likely to affect your ability to save money and control your spending are time costs, and search and information costs.</p> <h3>Time Costs</h3> <p>Any time you have abandoned a purchase in the store because the checkout line was too long and you were unwilling to wait for the slow-as-molasses staff to help you, then you have felt the impact of <em>time costs</em>. Time costs can keep you from saving money because you are unwilling to put in the time to manually transfer the funds.</p> <h3>Search and Information Costs</h3> <p><em>Search and information costs</em>are the work you do to figure out the best course of action for your money. If you have to think about what kind of savings product to use or how much money to transfer to savings, then you are less likely to actually save the money.</p> <p>Friction can help or hurt your bottom line, depending on what type of transaction is affected by it. In general, you want to reduce the friction you feel when you save money, and increase the friction you feel when you spend it. Read on to find ways to use friction to your advantage to increase your savings and reduce your spending.</p> <h2>1. Automate Your Savings</h2> <p>The ultimate way to reduce friction when you save money is to make it automatic. Setting up an automatic transfer from your paycheck into your savings account means that you don't have to think about putting the money aside, find the time to set up the transfer, or agonize about the amount to save. It's a seamless transfer of your money to savings.</p> <h2>2. Move Your Savings Account to Another Bank</h2> <p>For some savers, putting money aside is no problem. The issue is that it's far too easy to access that money. Increase the friction involved in accessing the money in your savings account by opening an account with another bank &mdash; preferably one with no branches near you. Generally, it will take a couple of days for a fund transfer between banks, whereas a transfer within a bank is instantaneous. The time cost of waiting for your savings to transfer from the inconveniently located bank to your checking account will be enough friction to keep you from raiding your savings.</p> <h2>3. Have Your Paycheck Deposited Into Your Savings Account</h2> <p>Many prolific savers put their pay directly into their savings account and then transfer the amount they need for monthly bills into checking. This harnesses both the reduction in savings friction, and the increase in spending friction. Since the money is already deposited into your savings account, there is no friction on that portion of the transaction. Placing the friction on the transfer-to-checking side of the equation allows you to keep more money in savings and lessen the chances that you will spend your money mindlessly.</p> <h2>4. Use an Automatic Savings App to Round Up Your Purchases</h2> <p>Starting with Bank of America's Keep the Change program, which launched back in 2005, technology has been working hard to remove the friction from your savings habit by making it automatic. There are now a slew of different automatic savings apps that do everything from rounding up your purchases and placing the excess into savings (Bank of America's <a href="https://www.bankofamerica.com/deposits/manage/keep-the-change.go">Keep the Change</a> and <a href="https://www.acorns.com/">Acorns</a>), to analyzing your cash flow to determine an amount that's safe to transfer to savings (<a href="https://digit.co/">Digit</a>), to letting you know the amount of money that is still safe to spend in your account (<a href="https://www.getpennies.com/">Pennies</a> and <a href="https://www.levelmoney.com/">Level</a>).</p> <h2>5. Bill Yourself for Savings</h2> <p>If you already have a solid bill-paying routine in place, add one more obligation to your list: yourself. Making &quot;savings&quot; a bill can actually reduce your savings friction because you will complete the action while you are already paying all your other bills. Set up a bill reminder to transfer money to savings on the same day you pay your other regular bills. It will be surprisingly easy to pay yourself if you treat it like a bill.</p> <h2>6. Continue Making Payments on Your Paid Off Loans</h2> <p>Once you have finally sent your lender the last payment for your car loan, your student loan, or your credit card balance, it may be tempting to just enjoy the extra money each month. But a savvier plan would be to continue paying that amount to yourself. As you come to the end of your loan, set up an automatic transfer of the payment amount into your savings account on the same day of the month you paid your loan. That will reduce the friction of saving the amount, because you will not even notice a difference in your monthly spending.</p> <h2>Harnessing Friction for the Win</h2> <p>It is truly amazing how unmotivated we all can be in the face of transaction friction. Increasing your savings and reducing your spending is just a matter of strategically tweaking the friction you will feel when you save or spend money.</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/earn-more-interest-by-reducing-savings-friction">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-6"> <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/why-you-need-to-make-financial-habits-not-goals">Why You Need to Make Financial Habits, Not Goals</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-millennial-money-habits-every-retiree-should-learn">6 Millennial Money Habits Every Retiree Should Learn</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-money-saving-habits-you-should-never-apologize-for">10 Money-Saving Habits You Should Never Apologize For</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-manage-your-money-no-budgeting-required">How to Manage Your Money — No Budgeting Required</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/7-reasons-you-really-need-to-pay-yourself-first-seriously">7 Reasons You Really Need to Pay Yourself First (Seriously)</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Frugal Living apps automating savings friction loans saving money search and information costs time costs Mon, 28 Nov 2016 11:00:09 +0000 Emily Guy Birken 1839211 at http://www.wisebread.com How to Manage Your Money During a Spousal Separation http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-manage-your-money-during-a-spousal-separation <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-to-manage-your-money-during-a-spousal-separation" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/rope_cash_stretched_23510828.jpg" alt="Learning how to manage your money during a spousal separation" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>When your marriage isn't working out, a separation might be in order. While you might not be certain whether you'll reconcile or move forward with a divorce, there is still an important matter that needs to be addressed together &mdash; your finances.</p> <p>Dealing with finances in a separation can be messy and lead to a lot of arguments. Use these tips to help you and your spouse manage your money during a difficult time.</p> <h2>1. Don't Be Afraid to Get Help</h2> <p>If you and your spouse cannot sit down and talk about your finances without raising your voice, then seek help. A marriage counselor can help you hear each other out and keep the room calm.</p> <p>Talking with a family law attorney can help you understand how costly a divorce can be and give you both a better idea of where you would be financially if you made your split official.</p> <p>Finally, a financial adviser can provide insight on the ramifications of separation and divorce. The goal is to leave both of you in a stable financial situation if you do make your split final. Look for a financial adviser that has some experience dealing with separation or divorce cases. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-money-moves-to-make-the-moment-you-decide-to-get-divorced?ref=seealso">5 Money Moves to Make the Moment You Decide to Get Divorced</a>)</p> <h2>2. Establish a New Budget</h2> <p>It is important to establish a new budget together. For couples without children, this should be relatively easy. You should each be responsible for half of all shared bills, and agree to take care of your own food and shopping needs.</p> <p>When children are involved or when one spouse does not earn income, then establishing a new budget can be tricky. You have to both admit that you cannot enjoy the same luxuries during this time of separation. Basic bills need to be paid, and of course, all of your children's needs should be met.</p> <h2>3. Aim for Financial Independence</h2> <p>Close as many accounts possible that contain both of your names. If you pay off and cancel credit cards in both of your names, it can protect you from taking on further debt if you move forward with divorce.</p> <p>Having separate checking accounts can also make life easier. If both of you earn a paycheck, set up direct deposit into each of your own accounts.</p> <h2>4. Deal With Mutual Debt</h2> <p>If you decide to move forward with a divorce, know that your debt might be split down the middle along with your assets. Any debt, including student loan debt that was taken on after saying &quot;I do,&quot; is considered mutual property. This means you can get stuck paying off debt that your spouse essentially racked up.</p> <p>While you are still together, make it a goal to tackle your debt. Agree on an amount that each of you should pay toward the debt each month. If money is tight, try putting saving goals on hold for a few months.</p> <p>If managing mutual debt payments is becoming a hard task for you, both of you can apply for a free or low-fee <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-best-0-balance-transfer-credit-cards?ref=internal">balance transfer card</a> to split up the debt in your own name. You can do this with a personal loan, as well. The point is to split the debt and put it in each of your names so that you can eventually close out accounts that are in your shared name. This can prevent your spouse overusing a credit card for revenge purchases.</p> <h2>5. What About the House?</h2> <p>If your house is too expensive for either of you to keep separately, then you need to consider selling it. Taking your home into a divorce can be messy and complicated. A divorce can also put a tight deadline on both of you to sell your home, causing you to get less than the full value for it.</p> <p>If you cannot sell your home for the value of the property, try renting it out to pay the mortgage payments. This can take a huge burden off your shared financial situation and you can wait to sell at a better time. If you end up staying together, your home is still there for you to live in.</p> <p>If you both want to live in the house while separated, then you need to know your state's laws. When you file for a divorce, you will need to establish a point of separation. Some states count that point as when one spouse announces they want to pursue divorce, while other states require proof of living separately. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/heres-what-happens-to-a-mortgage-in-a-divorce?ref=seealso">Here's What Happens to a Mortgage in a Divorce</a>)</p> <p>Nothing about separation or divorce is ever simple. Every couple's situation will be different based on finances and personalities. Dealing with a hard spouse is not easy, but going through a divorce isn't always the quick fix that it appears to be, either.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ashley-eneriz">Ashley Eneriz</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-manage-your-money-during-a-spousal-separation">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/11-secrets-you-need-to-tell-your-financial-adviser">11 Secrets You Need to Tell Your Financial Adviser</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/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-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/does-divorce-affect-your-student-loans">Does Divorce Affect Your Student Loans?</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-things-i-learned-about-money-after-getting-married">8 Things I Learned About Money After Getting Married</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-money-moves-to-make-the-moment-you-decide-to-get-divorced">5 Money Moves to Make the Moment You Decide to Get Divorced</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance Family advisers budgeting counselors debt divided assets divorce financial help loans marriage separation Fri, 11 Nov 2016 10:00:08 +0000 Ashley Eneriz 1830852 at http://www.wisebread.com Does Divorce Affect Your Student Loans? http://www.wisebread.com/does-divorce-affect-your-student-loans <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/does-divorce-affect-your-student-loans" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/broken_heart_cash_25865628.jpg" alt="Learning if divorce affects your student loans" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Going through a divorce can get messy, especially when there are a lot of assets to divide and financial matters to take care of. Even worse, couples often forget that debts &mdash; and not just assets &mdash; must often be split. And student loan debt can be especially hairy. Understanding the ramifications of divorce on student debt is essential to negotiating a mutually beneficial split. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/heres-what-happens-to-a-mortgage-in-a-divorce?ref=seealso">Here's What Happens to a Mortgage in a Divorce</a>)</p> <h2>When Did You Take on the Debt?</h2> <p>If you took on your student loan before marriage, then the debt is considered separate property, and you are solely responsible for it. Similarly, you won't be held responsible for any debt taken out by your spouse before marriage.</p> <p>However, if you or your spouse took on student <a href="https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/debt-marriage-owe-spouse-debts-29572.html">loan debt while married</a>, then the debt is considered your shared property. As a matter of fact, any debt taken on in a marriage is considered shared property, including the following:</p> <ul> <li>Mortgages</li> <li>Car loans</li> <li>Personal loans</li> <li>Sometimes business loans</li> <li>Credit card debt</li> </ul> <h2>It All Depends on Your State's Laws</h2> <p>Many states are <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Community_property">community property states</a>, which means everything is split down the middle. If you live in a community property state, the student loan debt (along with all other debt) will be split 50-50. Even if one party will suffer financial hardships from the split debt, the court will still hold them liable for half of it.</p> <p>Of course, it is the court's discretion how they split marital property, and each state has unique rules in place. In <a href="https://www.legalzoom.com/knowledge/divorce/topic/equitable-distribution-community-property">equitable distribution states</a>, such as New York, each divorce is weighed differently. According to The Wall Street Journal, &quot;If it seems like one spouse will have high income after a divorce and another will struggle to make debt payments, the higher earner may end up having to fork over some <a href="http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052702304626804579363253873904162">temporary spousal support</a> to cover the ex's debt payments.&quot;</p> <h2>Consolidated Student Loans</h2> <p>Before 2006, married couples were able to consolidate their loans. Many couples did this to get a lower interest rate and save money &mdash; but for couples that did this, they had to permanently attach themselves to the loan.</p> <p>Unfortunately, if one party does not pay their assigned portion of their loan, the other party will still be held fully responsible. Married couples can no longer consolidate their student loans, so if you were married after 2006, then this does not apply to you.</p> <h2>How to Avoid Problems Before Marriage</h2> <p>No couple wants to think about divorce before they get married, but if student loan debt is worrisome to you, there are a few things you can do before tying the knot. First, it is important that both you and your potential spouse know how much debt you each have. Everything should be laid out on the table. Secondly, to protect yourself, sign a prenuptial agreement that states how debt is supposed to be split in the case of a divorce. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/could-a-divorce-improve-your-finances?ref=seealso">Could a Divorce Improve Your Finances?</a>)</p> <h2>So How Much Student Loan Debt Will I Be Responsible for After Divorce?</h2> <p>When it comes to figuring out how much student loan debt you will be responsible for after a divorce, it all depends on your case and the state you live in. It is important for you and your spouse to know <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/life-after-bankruptcy-whats-next">the financial weight of your divorce</a> before committing to one fully. Talk with a divorce attorney to find out more information that relates to your specific case.</p> <p>If the court does hold you responsible for your spouse's student loan debt after divorce, then it is important to pay it. If you don't, you will be held liable, your wages could be garnished, and your credit score can suffer.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ashley-eneriz">Ashley Eneriz</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/does-divorce-affect-your-student-loans">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-12"> <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-manage-your-money-during-a-spousal-separation">How to Manage Your Money During a Spousal Separation</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/11-secrets-you-need-to-tell-your-financial-adviser">11 Secrets You Need to Tell Your Financial Adviser</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/could-a-divorce-improve-your-finances">Could a Divorce Improve Your Finances?</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/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-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-ways-to-make-the-most-of-your-student-loan-grace-period">4 Ways to Make the Most of Your Student Loan Grace Period</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance Education & Training consolidation court divorce loans marriage state laws student debts Tue, 08 Nov 2016 10:00:15 +0000 Ashley Eneriz 1827231 at http://www.wisebread.com 3 Sources of Fast Cash Besides Your 401K http://www.wisebread.com/3-sources-of-fast-cash-besides-your-401k <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/3-sources-of-fast-cash-besides-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/handling_cash_780905671.jpg" alt="Finding sources of fast cash outside of 401K" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>You're in the middle of a remodeling project, and due to unforeseen circumstances, your money runs out early. You can't live with a half-completed kitchen, but you can't pay for it to be finished right now. And while you have plenty of equity in your home and a healthy retirement account, there's nothing in the bank.</p> <p>Once you've decided to take out a loan, what is the best source of funds? Are 401K loans or borrowing against home equity ever a good idea?</p> <p>&quot;The best option is of course is your parents,&quot; says financial planner Bob Goldman. But if you can't tap the bank of mom and dad for an interest-free loan, your other best options are probably a cash-out refinance, a secondary mortgage, a home equity line of credit, or a 401K loan. Deciding which one to use requires some number crunching and a hard look at your personal situation, including your job security, your repayment timeline, and your will power.</p> <h2>Cash-Out Refinance</h2> <p>Mortgage interest rates are at historic lows, making now a good time to think about refinancing. When you refinance your home, you are replacing your current loan with a brand-new one, preferably at a better interest rate. Depending on how much equity you have in your home, you may have the option of borrowing cash at the time of the refinance &mdash; so that once all the paperwork is done, you'll have a lump sum in your bank account, which you will pay back as part of your regular mortgage payments.</p> <h2>Cash-Out Refinance Pros</h2> <p>A cash-out refinance has a lot going for it.</p> <h3>1. Low Rate</h3> <p>A mortgage often offers the lowest interest rate you can get, outside of promotional offers. And because rates are near historic lows, a lot of people feel that locking in a low rate now for a long loan term is a good call.</p> <h3>2. Low Payments</h3> <p>Because the payback period will be long &mdash; generally 30 years &mdash; a cash-out refi can ease the month-to-month strain of repayment, especially if you are able to lower the interest rate. If you are paying, say, 5% interest on your mortgage and you are able to refinance to 3.77%, you could add $50,000 to your loan principal while only adding about $100 a month to your payment.</p> <h3>3. No Surprises</h3> <p>As long as you take out a fixed-rate mortgage, you know what your payment will be for the life of the loan.</p> <h3>4. Tax Benefit</h3> <p>The interest you pay on your refinanced mortgage will be tax deductible. According to this <a href="http://www.calcxml.com/do/hom09">mortgage tax savings calculator</a>, if you add $50,000 to a $200,000 mortgage, you could save about $10,000 in taxes over the life of the loan, more or less depending on your tax bracket and the interest rate.</p> <h2>Cash-Out Refinance Cons</h2> <p>As great as a cash-out refinance is, it's not free money.</p> <h3>1. Risk</h3> <p>Your home is on the line. For most people, your house is your biggest asset, and putting it even at slight risk isn't a decision to take lightly. Far too many homeowners ended up losing their homes during the financial crisis when they overborrowed against their homes' value.</p> <h3>2. Fees</h3> <p>You have to pay closing costs, which average about $1,800 on a $200,000 loan.</p> <h3>3. Qualifying</h3> <p>You need good credit, especially for the best rates.</p> <h3>4. Starting Over</h3> <p>One thing people often overlook when refinancing, Goldman says, is that taking out a new 30-year loan pushes out the date when you'll be done paying off your mortgage. &quot;You reset the clock on your mortgage,&quot; Goldman says. &quot;You're back to Day One, where you're paying mostly interest.&quot;</p> <h2>What's the Total Cost of a Cash-Out Refinance?</h2> <p>Getting $50,000 this way would cost a typical borrower about $30,000 in interest and fees over the course of 30 years at current interest rates. I calculated this using a mortgage calculator to compare the lifetime cost of borrowing $200,000 versus $250,000, keeping in mind that getting cash out usually increases your interest rate by about ⅛ percent. I added $2,000 in closing costs and subtracted $10,000 in tax savings.</p> <h2>Home Equity Loan</h2> <p>A home-equity loan is so much like a mortgage that it's also known as a &quot;second mortgage.&quot; The only difference between this and a cash-out refinance is that instead of replacing your original mortgage with a new one, you're adding a second loan also using your home as collateral. But everything else &mdash; the fact that you're taking a fixed amount of money, usually at a set rate, and paying it back over time &mdash; remains the same.</p> <h2>Home Equity Loan Pros</h2> <p>A second mortgage is a lot like a cash out refi, but with some wrinkles.</p> <h3>1. Simplicity</h3> <p>If you have a great mortgage rate on your home and don't want to change it, this is a way to borrow money while leaving your original mortgage untouched.</p> <h3>2. Shorter Time</h3> <p>If you have a 30-year mortgage but only want to borrow money for five to 15 years, you can do that with a home-equity loan.</p> <h3>3. Tax Benefit</h3> <p>Like a regular mortgage, your interest is usually tax deductible.</p> <h2>Home Equity Loan Cons</h2> <p>You'll need to be sure you understand the downsides of this kind of loan.</p> <h3>1. Interest Rate</h3> <p>Data from Bankrate shows home equity loans averaging at least a percentage point higher than mortgage rates.</p> <h3>2. Qualifying</h3> <p>You need good credit, especially for the best rates.</p> <h2>What's the Total Cost of a home-equity loan?</h2> <p>About $11,000 in interest and fees to borrow $50,000 for 10 years.</p> <p>If you borrow $50,000 for 10 years through a second mortgage, you would pay about $13,000 interest over the life of the loan. Closing costs would be similar to a mortgage refinance, about $2,000. During that time, the mortgage interest deduction could save you about $4,000 in taxes.</p> <h2>Home Equity Line of Credit</h2> <p>Like a home-equity loan, a Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC) is a secondary loan that piggybacks on your original loan. As with both types of loans discussed above, your home is still the collateral. The big difference is that while you can get cash out of a first or second mortgage only once, a HELOC is a revolving credit line, meaning that you don't need to know upfront exactly how much you'll need over the life of the loan. You can borrow $10,000 this month for a new furnace, and then $5,000 another month for landscaping.</p> <h2>HELOC Pros</h2> <p>The key advantage of a HELOC is its flexibility, but there are others to consider, too.</p> <h3>1. Borrowing Flexibility</h3> <p>Experts recommend these loans for ongoing expenses such as college tuition, rather than a home repair that you might pay for in a lump sum. If you do a refinance and then realize you'll need to borrow more money, you would need to pay closing costs all over again and might not be able to lock in the same rate.</p> <h3>2. Tax Benefit</h3> <p>Like the above loans, the interest paid on a HELOC is usually tax deductible.</p> <h3>3. Payment Flexibility</h3> <p>Your loan may allow you to pay interest-only for a certain amount of time.</p> <h2>HELOC Cons</h2> <p>As with the other home loans discussed, a HELOC carries some costs.</p> <h3>1. Risk</h3> <p>Like both the above loans, your home is on the line.</p> <h3>2. Rate Uncertainty</h3> <p>Since HELOCs often have <a href="https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0227-home-equity-loans-and-credit-lines#lines">variable interest rates</a>, and rates are currently at historic lows, they will probably rise in the future. By law, how much the rates go up is capped &mdash; the lender must tell you the maximum potential rate when you take out the loan. The average HELOC rate at the moment is similar to home equity rates, or around a point above 30-year-mortgage rates.</p> <h3>3. Balloon Payments</h3> <p>Many HELOCs start out requiring only interest payments, then expect the borrower to pay the whole principal at the end. If you can't, Goldman said, you'll probably end up refinancing the debt into a much longer, more expensive loan.</p> <h3>4. Temptation</h3> <p>As with credit cards, having a line of credit to draw on can encourage overspending. &quot;It's one thing to be on a diet when the refrigerator is empty. It's another thing to be on a diet when the freezer is full of ice cream,&quot; Goldman said. &quot;You'll have this money available to you, so it will require a great deal of discipline to manage it.&quot;</p> <h3>5. Qualifying</h3> <p>You need good credit to qualify, especially for the best rates.</p> <h3>6. Fees</h3> <p>You may or may not have to pay closing costs, and may be charged ongoing fees such as annual maintenance fees and transaction fees.</p> <h2>What's the Total Cost of a HELOC?</h2> <p>Rough estimate: $9,500. It's more difficult to predict the lifetime cost of a HELOC if the rate is adjustable and the amount you owe on it varies, but this <a href="http://www.calcxml.com/calculators/adjustable-rate-mortgage-calculator">adjustable mortgage calculator</a> figures that with steady, modest interest increases, a 10-year, $50,000 HELOC could cost $14,000 in interest. Fees vary, but if your bank charges a $50 annual fee, that adds $500 to the cost. Subtract an estimated $5,000 in tax savings.</p> <h2>Borrowing From Your 401K</h2> <p>If you have a 401K retirement account through your employer, you might have the option of &quot;borrowing&quot; from its balance. This is not a true loan, since the money in your 401K already belongs to you. In reality, what you're doing is getting an exemption from early withdrawal penalties and taxation, as long as you promise to put the money back and pay yourself an interest rate &mdash; generally one to two percentage points above the prime rate.</p> <p>Despite all those articles out there warning you to avoid borrowing from your 401K, Goldman says this can be a good option if conditions are right.</p> <p>&quot;If I had my choice, I would definitely borrow from a 401K,&quot; he said. Although neither borrowing against your home or borrowing against your retirement are without risk, at least if you fail to pay back your 401K loan, you're not out on the street.</p> <h2>401K Loan Pros</h2> <p>This type of loan may be the easiest of all to get &mdash; it's your money, after all!</p> <h3>1. Qualifying</h3> <p>You don't need good credit to qualify for a good rate, making this an attractive option for folks who wouldn't qualify for a regular loan.</p> <h3>2. Risk</h3> <p>If you fail to pay it back, it won't affect your credit score or send collection agents after you. You also don't risk having your home repossessed.</p> <h3>3. No Bank</h3> <p>You pay the interest to yourself, which is sort of like not paying interest at all.</p> <h2>401K Loan Cons</h2> <p>There are not too many downsides to borrowing from your 401K &mdash; but there's a big one you should think very carefully about.</p> <h3>1. Risk to Your Retirement Savings</h3> <p>Failure to pay back this loan could cause great harm to your retirement account. For instance, if your employment ends for any reason, the loan becomes due immediately. If you can't pay it, it's converted to a distribution, which means that you pay taxes and (if you are under age 59 &frac12;, a 10% penalty). So you're basically stuck at your job while you have a 401K loan out; you might end up turning down a new job offer if you don't have the cash to pay the loan. Worse, if you get fired and can't pay it, you could be out of a lot of money in addition to having no job.</p> <h3>2. Double Taxation</h3> <p>The disadvantage that people often don't consider with 401K loans is that while you filled your account with pretax dollars, you repay the loan with post-tax dollars &mdash; but you'll have to pay tax again on the money when you eventually withdraw it in retirement. How much you can get: While home loans let you borrow a percentage of your home equity, 401K loans are capped at $50,000 or half your balance, whichever is less.</p> <h2>What's the Total Cost of Borrowing From Your 401K?</h2> <p>It would vary greatly depending on how close you are to retirement and how well the market does during your loan. Using <a href="http://www.calcxml.com/calculators/impact-of-borrowing-from-my-retirement-plan">this calculator</a>, I came up with an estimated cost of $25,000 in lost investment and tax benefits to borrow $50,000 for five years. That assumes your retirement account would have $10,246 less in it at the time of retirement, and that you lost out on $15,000 worth of tax benefits.</p> <h2>Bottom Line</h2> <p>By these calculations, home equity loans tend to be less costly than mortgage refis or 401K loans. You should run the numbers using your own circumstances before making that determination for yourself.</p> <p>Cost is not the only thing to consider when deciding how to borrow. There's also the degree of risk involved, and the amount of time you have to pay the money back. Again, personal circumstances will dictate your choice: If you only need the money for a short time, for instance, until your stock options vest next year, a 401K loan might be the best choice. If you can't afford to pay the loan off in the near-term, the refinance gives you the most time.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/carrie-kirby">Carrie Kirby</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/3-sources-of-fast-cash-besides-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-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-ways-to-pay-off-high-interest-credit-card-debt">5 Ways to Pay Off High Interest Credit Card Debt</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/9-financial-moves-you-will-always-regret">9 Financial Moves You Will Always Regret</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-surprising-ways-revolving-debt-helps-you">5 Surprising Ways Revolving Debt Helps You</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/5-things-you-need-to-know-about-credit-scores">5 Things You Need to Know About Credit Scores</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance 401k borrowing HELOC home equity line of credit interest loans mortgages refinance second mortgage Wed, 02 Nov 2016 10:00:10 +0000 Carrie Kirby 1825229 at http://www.wisebread.com Reach Your Money Goals Faster With a Simple Naming Trick http://www.wisebread.com/reach-your-money-goals-faster-with-a-simple-naming-trick <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/reach-your-money-goals-faster-with-a-simple-naming-trick" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/boy_piggy_bank_33365082.jpg" alt="Boy reaching money goals faster with naming trick" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>I used to feel crushed by my to-do list. I could never complete all the tasks on the list according to my (unrealistic) schedule, so I always felt like a loser. Even when I did complete all the tasks on my daily list, I never felt the sense of accomplishment that I hoped for.</p> <h2>What Would Han Solo Do?</h2> <p>While researching a better way to manage my list, I stumbled across the concept of <a href="http://www.wikihow.com/Create-an-Effective-Action-Plan">action plans</a>. According to project managers who specialize in getting things done, to-do lists aren't particularly useful for a variety of reasons. Action plans lead to success. Learning to action plan was going to revolutionize my schedule!</p> <p>But then I got sidetracked, so I never got around to actually formulating an action plan. But it didn't matter. Just renaming my daily list of chores &quot;Plan of Action&quot; instead of &quot;To Do&quot; made me feel so much better about myself. I became more productive because I'd freed my brain from worry and made more space for creative thinking. Who writes to-do lists? Chumps, obviously. Who writes action plans? The architects of D-Day. The United Nations. Han Solo.</p> <p>Did Han Solo consult his to-do list before he shot first? No. He did not.</p> <h2>Is My Home Equity Line of Credit Half Full or Half Empty?</h2> <p>Currently, my husband and I are <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/my-2016-budget-challenge-why-i-need-to-find-31k-this-year">paying down a $15,000 loan</a> that we had to take out to replace the outgoing sewer line of our house. Plumbing is pretty much the least sexy way to spend money on home repair.</p> <p>Other than our home mortgages, this loan is, by far, our largest debt. And, I hate debt. Debt makes me feel unsafe and without choices. The lack of control attached to this debt specifically ticks me off. It's not like we had a choice in the matter. We didn't accrue this debt by doing something fun like taking a vacation we couldn't afford. We have this loan because our sewer line broke and we had to fix it.</p> <p>Since a simple name change made my to-do list feel more manageable, I wondered if renaming the sewer loan would make me feel less angry about paying down this debt.</p> <h2>First World Pooping</h2> <p>&quot;Oh, you're the one with the funny account names,&quot; says the bank teller as she completes my deposit. The HELOC that I had to take out to pay for the sewer line is now named &quot;First World Pooping.&quot;</p> <p>In my hours of grumpy rumination about how much I hate the sewer line loan, I had come to two realizations:</p> <ul> <li>About 60% of the world's population doesn't have indoor plumbing or even adequate sanitation. I have $15,000 in debt because my husband and I made the choice to repair our sewer line, instead of letting raw sewage drain into the dirt under our house. Six out of 10 people on the planet <a href="http://www.slate.com/blogs/future_tense/2013/02/22/_60_percent_of_the_world_population_still_without_toilets.html">can't choose to have a working toilet</a>.</li> </ul> <ul> <li>Although $15,000 is a huge chunk of change for me, 80% of the world's population&nbsp;<a href="http://www.globalissues.org/article/26/poverty-facts-and-stats">lives on less than $10 per day</a>, so just my ability to get an emergency loan for $15,000 puts me in the uppermost strata of wealth on the planet.</li> </ul> <p>In other words, my $15,000 sewer repair is a First World Problem. I may not like the cost of my choice, but I have enough financial control over my life that I can enjoy the privilege of flushing the toilet with drinking water.</p> <p>Paying down the sewer loan each month still gives me no pleasure, but I no longer resent this debt like I used to. By renaming the loan &quot;First World Pooping&quot; I get a monthly reminder to practice gratitude for my comfortable, First World life.</p> <h2>Motivated Savings</h2> <p>In addition to renaming my loans, I have renamed all my bank accounts to help me meet my financial goals. I am more inspired to put money into my &quot;OMG Retire Early!&quot; account than I ever was when it was just named &quot;Retirement.&quot; Socking away cash in my &quot;Escape Plan&quot; is somehow more fun than topping off my &quot;Emergency Fund.&quot; Who has emergency funds? People who are worried about future plumbing problems. Who has an &quot;Escape Plan?&quot; Han Solo.</p> <p>My account formerly known as &quot;Savings&quot; has been repeatedly renamed with the location of my next vacation. Every time I open up my bank records I get a positive push to save more money.</p> <h2>Obsessive Compulsive Labeling</h2> <p>I know this will come as a complete shock to anyone who reads this, but I have OCD. When I mentioned to my OCD support group that relabeling chores had a positive effect on my productivity, worldview, and bank account, I discovered that this brain hack is actually a fairly common <a href="https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/in-practice/201301/cognitive-restructuring">Cognitive Behavioral Therapy</a> exercise that is used to treat a variety of common psychological problems. I don't know if renaming every chore will cure my OCD, but it has made reaching financial goals a little easier.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/max-wong">Max Wong</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/reach-your-money-goals-faster-with-a-simple-naming-trick">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-10"> <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/youve-been-saving-money-all-wrong-heres-why">You&#039;ve Been Saving Money All Wrong. 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/how-to-manage-your-money-during-a-spousal-separation">How to Manage Your Money During a Spousal Separation</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-personal-finance-resolutions-anyone-can-master">8 Personal Finance Resolutions Anyone Can Master</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/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-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/whats-the-best-way-to-get-out-of-debt">What&#039;s the Best Way to Get out of Debt?</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance Life Hacks Organization bank accounts banking budgeting debt fun inspiration loans motivation renaming saving money Thu, 27 Oct 2016 10:00:11 +0000 Max Wong 1821541 at http://www.wisebread.com 4 Ways to Make the Most of Your Student Loan Grace Period http://www.wisebread.com/4-ways-to-make-the-most-of-your-student-loan-grace-period <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/4-ways-to-make-the-most-of-your-student-loan-grace-period" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_happy_diploma_94435335.jpg" alt="Woman making the most of her student loan grace period" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Graduating from college with your degree in hand is exciting. But the thought of paying back your students loans? Not so much. But, depending on the type of student loans you took, you're probably eligible for a grace period, or a set number of months after graduation in which you don't have to start repaying your loans.</p> <p>During this time, you can take financial steps to prepare yourself not only for your looming monthly loan payments, but also for your entire financial future. Take advantage of this grace period to begin building your savings, building a solid credit score, and building a budget.</p> <p>Don't skimp on these steps. After all, that grace period doesn't last forever.</p> <h2>How Grace Periods Work</h2> <p>The federal government doesn't always expect you to begin repaying your student loans as soon as you leave college. Instead, most federal student loans come with a grace period. The goal is to give recent graduates a chance to start earning money and settle their finances before they have to start making monthly student loan payments.</p> <p>The grace period varies depending on the type of federal loans you are repaying. Direct subsidized loans, direct unsubsidized loans, subsidized federal Stafford loans, and unsubsidized federal Stafford loans come with a grace period of six months during which you won't have to make payments. Federal Perkins loans come with a grace period of nine months. Depending on when you took them out, the interest on some loans might continue to grow even during the grace period.</p> <h2>1. Select a Repayment Plan</h2> <p>It's during your grace period that you'll need to select a repayment plan for your student loans. For federal student loans, you'll automatically be entered into the Standard Repayment Plan. This plan gives you at least 10 years to repay your student loan debt, and is usually the most affordable choice. Under this plan, you'll pay the least amount of interest.</p> <p>There are exceptions, though. If you haven't been able to find a job or if your job pays you little, an income-driven plan might make more sense. These plans come with lower monthly payments that are designed to be affordable to you. However, you will end up paying more interest over the long run.</p> <p>As your grace period ticks away, make sure to stay in contact with the servicer that is handling your loan repayments. Your servicer can answer any questions you have and help you find the best repayment option. You can find the servicer of your loan at <a href="https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/?login=true">My Federal Student Aid</a>.</p> <h2>2. Create a Budget</h2> <p>Once you enter the workforce, it's essential to create a budget. Simply list all of the money that you earn during the month. Then list all of your expenses, including estimated costs for items such as groceries, dinners out, and entertainment. Now you'll know how much extra money you should have every month. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/build-your-first-budget-in-5-easy-steps?ref=seealso">Build a Budget in 5 Easy Steps</a>)</p> <p>Make sure to factor in your estimated monthly student loan payments in this budget. This will help you determine whether you can repay your loans under the Standard Repayment Plan or if you'll need to consider an income-based option for tackling your monthly loan payments.</p> <h2>3. Start Building Your Savings</h2> <p>It's tempting when you get your first paychecks to spend everything you've earned. Resist. Instead, start building your savings. It's important to have an emergency fund that you can tap into whenever a financial emergency pops up. And these emergencies will happen. Your car might suddenly need expensive repairs. If you've built up an emergency fund, you won't have to rely on your high interest rate credit cards to cover these unexpected financial hits. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-best-low-interest-rate-credit-cards?ref=seealso">Transfer Balances to These Low Interest Rate Cards</a>)</p> <p>It might sound good, but your grace period is a great time to start saving for retirement. The sooner you start putting money away for your eventual retirement, the better off you'll be once you leave the workforce. Retirement might seem like it's ages away. But if your employer offers a 401K plan, enroll in it and start saving at least some of each paycheck for retirement. If your employer doesn't offer a 401K plan, consider opening an IRA on your own.</p> <p>Of course, this assumes that you'll have enough money to save and meet your monthly financial obligations, including your upcoming student loan payment. If you can't, put retirement savings on hold.</p> <h2>4. Build Your Credit</h2> <p>You need a strong credit score today. Lenders rely on this score when determining who qualifies for auto and mortgage loans and at what interest rates. Fortunately, you can start building a good credit score as soon as you graduate (or before, really). Pay all your bills on time. When you use credit cards, only charge what you can afford to pay off in full when your payment is due. If you take out a car loan, make your payments on time every month.</p> <p>Taking these simple steps will help you build a solid credit score. And when it's time to start making your student-loan payments? Every time you make one of these payments on time, you'll be taking a small step to building your score, too.</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-ways-to-make-the-most-of-your-student-loan-grace-period">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-5"> <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-stop-student-loans-from-ruining-your-life">How to Stop Student Loans From Ruining Your 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/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/5-money-moves-to-make-the-moment-you-graduate">5 Money Moves to Make the Moment You Graduate</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/7-unique-ways-millennials-are-dealing-with-student-loan-debt">7 Unique Ways Millennials Are Dealing With Student Loan Debt</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/what-to-do-if-you-didnt-save-for-your-childs-college">What to Do If You Didn&#039;t Save for Your Child&#039;s College</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance Education & Training budgeting college federal loans grace periods loans planning repayment plans savings stafford loans student loans Wed, 05 Oct 2016 10:00:05 +0000 Dan Rafter 1805246 at http://www.wisebread.com What Every Parent Should Know About the New College Financial Aid Rules http://www.wisebread.com/what-every-parent-should-know-about-the-new-college-financial-aid-rules <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/what-every-parent-should-know-about-the-new-college-financial-aid-rules" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_student_books_21091679.jpg" alt="Parents should know about the new college financial aid rules" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>While school just started for many, if your child is college-bound or in college, it's already time to start planning for the next school year. Many families rely on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to help shoulder the costs of college, and there have been many new changes to the program. These new changes go into effect this October, so listen up.</p> <h2>New Application Start Date</h2> <p>In the past, families would submit the FAFSA form at the beginning of the new year. However, the new start date is now as early as October 1, 2016. This is a huge change, and if you are in college or have a child in college, you will want to fill the application out that day, or at least in the first few weeks of October.</p> <p>For some states, FAFSA aid is distributed on a first come, first served basis. Individuals who apply earlier have a better chance of receiving aid, including grants, work-study, and federal loans.</p> <h2>Change Tax Information Submissions</h2> <p>Another big change is that individuals will not be required to submit the previous year's taxes, but instead tax information from two years prior. This means for the 2017&ndash;2018 school year, families will send in 2015 information. For families that filled out the FAFSA for the 2016&ndash;2017 year, this means you will be sending in your 2015 tax info two years in a row.</p> <p>This change will make filling out and submitting the FAFSA on time a lot easier, since families used to begin the application process at the beginning of the year. Many families would have to estimate tax information and fix it later on.</p> <h2>Less Asset Protection Could Mean Less Aid</h2> <p>When parents report their finances for their child's FAFSA, a portion of their assets, including savings and investment funds, is not calculated as part of the <a href="http://www.finaid.org/calculators/finaidestimate.phtml">Expected Family Contribution</a> (EFC). This was good news for families with healthy investments but not a lot of liquidity to pay for college.</p> <p>However, the dollar amount of assets exempt from the EFC will drop this year, and will continue to drop in following years. This change could mean less financial aid for many families. This will affect middle-income families that were relying on financial aid the most. However, families with lower incomes will most likely not feel the change.</p> <h2>Don't Fall for These FAFSA Myths</h2> <p>Even though there were three major changes to the FAFSA this year, it is still a free form that all families should fill out. Don't fall for these common FAFSA myths and leave money and aid on the table.</p> <h3>1. My Child's Grades Are Not Good Enough</h3> <p>While some schools use FAFSA applications to award merit-based aid, most aid is needs-based. A good portion of financial aid is awarded based off a family's income and size.</p> <h3>2. I Make Too Much Money to Qualify</h3> <p>Many families often forgo applying for financial aid because they believe they make too much. Even if your income makes you ineligible for aid, colleges give out federal student loans through the FAFSA process. If you plan on taking out federal student loans, which are preferable to private student loans, then you must fill out the FAFSA.</p> <h3>3. I Didn't Qualify Last Year</h3> <p>It is wise to apply for FAFSA each year, even if you didn't qualify for aid the year before. There could be unseen changes to your family that you might not have accounted for, such as two children in college rather than one. Also, with the new changes happening this year, you might qualify for aid.</p> <h3>4. The FAFSA Is Too Confusing to Fill Out</h3> <p>This year, you are now allowed to skip questions that do not relate to your family's financial situations. This should make the process a little easier and streamlined. If you are still having issues with your application, there are many free resources online and offline that can help. Please remember that you should never have to pay someone to file this application, nor should you pay for information regarding the process.</p> <p>Circle October 1st on your calendar and have your tax information ready and easy to access. Even if you don't think you will qualify for aid, apply anyway. And remember: You must apply each and <em>every</em> year your child is in college. This isn't a one-time thing.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ashley-eneriz">Ashley Eneriz</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-every-parent-should-know-about-the-new-college-financial-aid-rules">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/css-is-one-source-of-college-financial-aid-you-cant-afford-to-overlook">CSS Is One Source of College Financial Aid You Can&#039;t Afford to Overlook</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/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-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-to-do-if-you-didnt-save-for-your-childs-college">What to Do If You Didn&#039;t Save for Your Child&#039;s College</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-ways-to-make-the-most-of-your-student-loan-grace-period">4 Ways to Make the Most of Your Student Loan Grace Period</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/should-you-borrow-student-loan-money-from-amazon-prime">Should You Borrow Student Loan Money From Amazon Prime?</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance Education & Training changes college FAFSA free application for federal student aid loans rules school student loans students Wed, 28 Sep 2016 09:30:25 +0000 Ashley Eneriz 1801616 at http://www.wisebread.com Refinance These 4 Common Debts Before Year Ends http://www.wisebread.com/refinance-these-4-common-debts-before-year-ends <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/refinance-these-4-common-debts-before-year-ends" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/calculator_pencil_math_82097885.jpg" alt="You should refinance 4 common debts before year end" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>The year is almost over, which gets many people thinking about New Year's resolutions. Perhaps you are recalling the resolutions you made at the beginning of this year and getting down on yourself for not saving more money and paying off more debt. &quot;Next year,&quot; you promise yourself.</p> <p>But if you refinance these four loans, you can get a head start on your financial goals and even sail into the New Year with a little less financial burden on your shoulders. Here are the top loans you should refinance, as well as a few tips to decrease your debt burden altogether.</p> <h2>Credit Cards</h2> <p>Does your credit card debt seem like it never goes down, even when you throw extra money at it each month? It's the interest rate. There are two ways that you can refinance your credit card balance and save money each month. The first is to <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/best-lenders-for-personal-loans">refinance your debt</a> with a low interest personal loan, like one through&nbsp;<a href="https://sofi.com/wisebreadpl">SoFi</a> or<a href="http://prosper.evyy.net/c/27771/27132/994"> Prosper</a>.</p> <p>This works well for individuals that have <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-ways-to-pay-off-high-interest-credit-card-debt">high interest credit card debt</a>. A low-interest personal loan will allow you to pay off your credit card debt faster, but be aware that your monthly payments will be higher. This is because credit cards only require a minimum payment each month, which can be very low, depending on the debt. Keep in mind, however, that those low monthly minimum payments are what keep you in debt for so long. Therefore, when you switch the debt to a three- or five-year personal loan, you will be required to pay more each month.</p> <p>Another popular way to refinance credit card debt is to transfer it to a promotional <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-best-0-balance-transfer-credit-cards">0% balance transfer card</a>. This will allow you to transfer your debt to a card that does not charge interest for the promotional period. To use this transfer to your advantage, divide the amount of debt you have by the number of promotional interest free months offered. For example, if you are transferring <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/fastest-way-to-pay-off-10000-in-credit-card-debt">$10,000 of debt</a> on a card that offers 15 months of 0% interest, then be prepared to pay about $667 each month to avoid interest charges at the end of the promotion. Do not use this card to accumulate new debt.</p> <p>(See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/when-to-do-a-balance-transfer-to-pay-off-credit-card-debt">When Should You Transfer a Balance to Pay Off Debt</a>)</p> <h2>Mortgages</h2> <p>Mortgage rates remain historically low, but recent news shows that <a href="http://www.marketwatch.com/story/us-mortgage-rates-climb-to-post-brexit-high-2016-09-15">rates are slowly rising</a>. If you are still battling with a mortgage rate higher than 5% or are paying PMI, now is the time to refinance.</p> <p>Refinancing your mortgage can extend the life of your home loan, but it can also save you dramatically each year, especially if you are paying&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-is-private-mortgage-insurance-anyway">pesky PMI fees</a>. Research the cost to benefit ratio, knowing how much money you will save each month. Also research to know if a 15-year mortgage makes financial sense. In many cases, switching to a 15-year loan is riskier for your budget, but other times it can be a small monthly increase that will pay off big time in reduced interest payments.</p> <h2>Car Loans</h2> <p>Americans owe a lot on their car loans. USA Today reports, &quot;The total balance of all outstanding auto loans <a href="http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/cars/2016/09/06/car-loans-now-top-1-trillion-delinquency-rates-rise/89911210/">reached $1.027 trillion</a> between April 1 and June 30.&quot; If you secured your auto loan through a dealer, there is a good chance you are overpaying for your car loan. Contact your local credit union for rates, and don't forget to research online for the best rates.</p> <p>I have used two credit unions in the past to successfully secure an auto loan for less than 2.50%, and those credit unions did not have an actual building within 100 miles of me.</p> <h2>Student Loans</h2> <p>The burden of student loan debt is crippling millions of Americans. You don't need to live with your student loan forever. As long as you have good credit and are not in default with your loans, you have options. If you have federal student loans, then I strongly recommend looking into the <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-careers-that-offer-student-loan-forgiveness">forgiveness programs</a> available. It might mean taking a less than desirable job for a few years, but if that job forgives a large portion of your student debt, then it could be worth more to you than a higher paying job. Other options include income-sensitive repayment programs, such as <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-definitive-guide-to-pay-as-you-earn-a-great-student-loan-repayment-plan">PAYE and IBR</a>, which peg your monthly payments to your income level. Thus, if you're struggling to make a standard monthly payment, these programs set your monthly outlays at a more affordable level.</p> <p>If you are not eligible (or a fan) of the forgiveness programs, <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/should-you-refinance-your-student-loan">refinancing your student loans</a> is your next best option. Note that if you refinance your loans, you will be switching them over to a private lender. This means that if you have federal student loans, you will no longer be protected for federal loan repayment programs if you suddenly lose your job or face financial hardships.</p> <p>(See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-ways-to-pay-off-your-student-debt-faster">5 Ways to Pay Off Your Student Loans Faster</a>)</p> <p><a href="http://sofi.com/wisebread">SoFi</a> is one company that offers student loan refinancing and also offers unemployment protection for borrowers that lose their job at no fault of their own. The company says, &quot;In fact, members who refinance with us save an average of $316 a month &mdash; and $17,208 total.&quot; Other notable companies to consider include:</p> <ul> <li><a href="https://www.earnest.com/">Earnest</a></li> <li><a href="https://commonbond.co/choose-your-loan?referrer=b75172e7076c5472bed5baec5e28309c&amp;referred">CommonBond</a></li> <li><a href="http://lendkey.7eer.net/c/27771/187810/3276">LendKey</a></li> </ul> <p>Refinancing these common debts can help you pay less each month, as well as less overall. Use these refinancing strategies to get out of debt faster and take control of your finances.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ashley-eneriz">Ashley Eneriz</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/refinance-these-4-common-debts-before-year-ends">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-8"> <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/15-personal-finance-calculators-everyone-should-use">15 Personal Finance Calculators Everyone Should Use</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-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-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dont-ignore-these-4-things-before-refinancing-your-student-loans">Don&#039;t Ignore These 4 Things Before Refinancing Your Student Loans</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/what-happens-to-your-debt-after-you-die">What Happens to Your Debt After You Die?</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-ways-to-qualify-for-a-mortgage-with-a-small-downpayment">5 Ways to Qualify for a Mortgage With a Small Downpayment</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Debt Management car loans interest rates lenders loans mortgages new year's resolutions personal loans refinancing repayment programs student loans Mon, 26 Sep 2016 10:30:07 +0000 Ashley Eneriz 1798863 at http://www.wisebread.com 5 Surprising Ways Revolving Debt Helps You http://www.wisebread.com/5-surprising-ways-revolving-debt-helps-you <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5-surprising-ways-revolving-debt-helps-you" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_happy_credit_card_49216544.jpg" alt="Woman learning surprising ways revolving debt helps you" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Debt can be good or bad, depending on how you use it. Different types of debt serve different purposes. We use installment loans like mortgages, car loans, and student loans to purchase homes, cars, and to get an education &mdash; but these aren't the only types of debt.</p> <p>There's also revolving debt, such as a credit card or a home equity line of credit. This type of debt can be more dangerous because it lacks a fixed payment amount, and minimum payments are based on how much you utilize the line of credit. Despite the unpredictable nature of revolving debt, however, it can be surprisingly helpful. Here's how:</p> <h2>1. It's Available When You Need It</h2> <p>Life is unpredictable. Even when you're financially responsible with money, an emergency can pull the rug out from under you. Sometimes, there isn't enough cash in your account to handle the unexpected. Or maybe you have cash, but don't want to drain your savings. Revolving debt lets you pay off purchases over time, so that you can keep more cash in your wallet.</p> <p>Revolving debt is also convenient because you have immediate access to funds when you need it. This is different from an installment loan. You can apply for a loan when you need money for an unexpected expense, but it's not immediate. You have to submit an application and wait for an approval, which can take days. Plus, there's no guarantee the bank will approve the amount you need.</p> <h2>2. It Helps Build Creditworthiness</h2> <p>Whether you're looking to establish your credit history or rebuild your credit after a blunder, you have to use credit to improve your FICO score. Revolving debt can help in this regard.</p> <p>Several factors make up your credit score, including the types of credit accounts in your name. Some people only have one type of credit account, perhaps an installment loan like a mortgage or car loan. Making timely payments on these accounts help their credit scores, but they need other types of account to increase credibility and creditworthiness.</p> <p>Credit mix makes up approximately 10% of your credit score, so it's worth adding a revolving account if you don't already have one. What's surprising is that revolving debt can be a good thing on your credit report. If you have a revolving account and you manage this account well, other creditors and lenders will take notice. This builds their trust in you, which makes it easier for you to qualify for other types of accounts in the future.</p> <p>For revolving debt to be helpful, however, you have to pay your bills on time, and you shouldn't utilize too much of your available credit. Payment history makes up 35% of your credit score, and the amount you owe makes up 30% of your credit score.</p> <h2>3. It Protects Your Credit Score</h2> <p>If you're self-employed or an employee who gets paid once a month, a revolving account can keep your head above water until you receive a paycheck. Ideally, you should have a savings account for situations like this, but if you're in the process of growing your emergency cushion, using a credit card to tide you over and acquiring short-term revolving debt is the lesser of two evils. In this case, revolving debt can protect your credit &mdash; and you'll avoid late fees.</p> <p>If your creditors don't receive a payment after 30 days, they'll report the lateness to the credit bureaus. A single late payment can reduce your credit score by 50 to 100 points, depending on the type of account. Using a credit card and increasing your revolving debt can cause a slight decrease in your credit score, but your credit score will rebound as soon as you pay down the balance. On the other hand, a late payment can stay on your credit report for up to seven years, and it takes years to regain lost points.</p> <h2>4. You Have Flexibility of Use</h2> <p>Revolving debt is also helpful because there's flexibility of use. When you apply for an installment loan, you have to use funds for a specific purpose. For example, a mortgage loan can only be used to buy a house, and a student loan can only be used for educational purposes. Revolving debt can be used for any purpose, such as renovating your home, paying tuition, taking a vacation, etc.</p> <h2>5. You May Experience a Lower Interest Rate</h2> <p>The interest rate on your revolving debt could be lower than the interest rate on personal loans offered by banks, but only if you have good credit. If so, you'll pay less in interest charges over the life of the debt, and you can enjoy lower minimum payments.</p> <p>Make sure you shop around and compare rates. Some <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-best-credit-cards-with-0-apr-for-purchases?ref=internal">credit cards offer 0% interest</a> on balance transfers and purchases for the first six to 18 months, and then a low permanent APR after the introductory rate period.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/mikey-rox">Mikey Rox</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-surprising-ways-revolving-debt-helps-you">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. 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