interest rates http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/1797/all en-US 8 Investments That May Soar During Trump's Term http://www.wisebread.com/8-investments-that-may-soar-during-trumps-term <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/8-investments-that-may-soar-during-trumps-term" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/donald_trump_speech_609937238.jpg" alt="Learning investments that may soar during Trump&#039;s term" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>What will the presidency of Donald J. Trump mean for your finances? No one knows just yet, but it's possible to make some educated guesses based on some of his public statements.</p> <p>President-Elect Trump has advocated for lower taxes and higher spending on infrastructure and defense. He's also pushed for policies that could lead to higher interest rates and inflation.</p> <p>It's worth noting that all investment returns are based on a variety of factors separate from who lives in the White House. But here are some investments that might do well under a Trump presidency.</p> <h2>1. Defense Contractors</h2> <p>At various times, President-Elect Trump has spoken about the need to bolster the U.S. Military and has talked about acting more aggressively against terrorism. So it's not a bad bet to look at major defense contractors including Lockheed Martin [NYSE: <a href="https://www.google.com/finance?cid=21553">LMT</a>], Northrop Grumman [NYSE: <a href="https://www.google.com/finance?q=NYSE%3ANOC&amp;ei=D9I9WICUI8yJef_Us_AL">NOC</a>], and Raytheon [NYSE: <a href="https://www.google.com/finance?q=RTN&amp;ei=NdI9WJmYH8_BeuKspbAL">RTN</a>]. If you're not comfortable picking individual stocks, take a look at mutual funds like the Fidelity Select Defense&amp; Aerospace fund [NYSE: <a href="https://www.google.com/finance?q=FSDAX&amp;ei=QtI9WJDHLJLteM3pgcgL">FSDAX</a>] or ETFs like the iShares Aerospace&amp; Defense ETF [NYSE: <a href="https://www.google.com/finance?q=ITA&amp;ei=W9I9WPDdGsmPeYPRs-AL">ITA</a>].</p> <h2>2. Oil Stocks</h2> <p>Trump has voiced support for allowing oil companies to drill on more land, including offshore areas that were declared off limits under President Obama. Such a change would, in theory, give companies like Exxon [NYSE: <a href="https://www.google.com/finance?q=NYSE%3AXOM&amp;ei=fNI9WNDlDcq_evSXhOAL">XOM</a>] and Chevron [NYSE: <a href="https://www.google.com/finance?q=CVX&amp;ei=wtI9WNm-J8LLeZnHi-AM">CVX</a>] access to more supply. There is one big caveat here, which is that oil prices have already dropped due to a glut of supply versus demand, so it's unclear what impact any changes might immediately have.</p> <h2>3. Heavy Equipment Manufacturers</h2> <p>The President-Elect has said he will &quot;Make America Great Again&quot; through massive investment in infrastructure. This means big construction and repairs of roads, bridges, buildings, and airports. And that work can't be carried out without big machines. Look to a stock like Caterpillar [NYSE: <a href="https://www.google.com/finance?q=CAT&amp;ei=1dI9WMHkHdibee3Wn6AL">CAT</a>], which saw shares rise 7% immediately after Trump's election. Asian companies including Doosan (the maker of Bobcat), Hitachi, and Komatsu could also see good results from an infrastructure spending binge.</p> <h2>4. Steel Companies</h2> <p>The steel industry would also get a boost from more infrastructure spending, and Trump has also promised to crack down on the illegal &quot;dumping&quot; of Chinese steel into the U.S. market. If indeed he's serious about support for American steel, that could be a boon for companies like Nucor [NYSE: <a href="https://www.google.com/finance?q=NYSE%3ANUE&amp;ei=ANM9WNHtNNSIe63PqagL">NUE</a>] and U.S. Steel, [NYSE: <a href="https://www.google.com/finance?q=NYSE%3AX&amp;ei=GNM9WOmbI86feYqyrdAL">X</a>].</p> <h2>5. Cement Companies</h2> <p>Another sector that could see good profits from more infrastructure spending. And if Trump somehow manages to build that wall along the Mexican border, it has to be made out of something. Most of the largest cement manufacturers are overseas, but look at France-based Lafarge, Germany-based Heidelberg, Mexico-based Cemex, and a host of Chinese manufacturers.</p> <h2>6. Private Prisons</h2> <p>The Obama administration this year announced that the Justice Department would phase out its use of private prisons. But there's no guarantee Trump won't halt that process. And if he follows through on his efforts to deport millions of illegal immigrants, the country may need jail capacity to hold them as they go through a judicial process. Companies including Geo Group [NYSE: <a href="https://www.google.com/finance?q=NYSE%3AGEO&amp;ei=JdM9WIn8N8LLeZnHi-AM">GEO</a>] and CoreCivic [NYSE: <a href="https://www.google.com/finance?q=CXW&amp;ei=TtM9WOnyBtibee3Wn6AL">CXW</a>] could cash in. Also look to companies that provide health care and phone services to prisons.</p> <h2>7. Banks</h2> <p>President-Elect Trump has said he will roll back many regulations that were put in place after the financial crisis in 2009. Some supporters have argued that repeal of the Dodd-Frank legislation will free banks up to lend more. Shares of JPMorgan, Goldman Sachs, and Bank of America have shot up since the election. Investors in big banks also may be excited by proposals for lower taxes and more infrastructure savings.</p> <h2>8. Commodities</h2> <p>Many observers predict that Trump's economic policies could lead to inflation. And when prices go up, it's usually a good thing for things like precious metals, oil, and agriculture products. It's possible to invest in commodities directly, or invest in mutual funds and exchange-traded funds that track all commodities or commodity sectors as a group.</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-investments-that-may-soar-during-trumps-term">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/could-trump-bring-higher-interest-rates-and-inflation-consider-these-money-moves">Could Trump Bring Higher Interest Rates and Inflation? Consider These Money Moves</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/while-waiting-for-rates-i-bonds">While Waiting for Rates: I-Bonds</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-cool-things-bonds-tell-you-about-the-economy">7 Cool Things Bonds Tell You About the Economy</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-ways-to-invest-when-youre-in-debt">6 Ways to Invest When You&#039;re In 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/4-foolproof-ways-to-protect-your-money-from-inflation">4 Foolproof Ways to Protect Your Money From Inflation</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Investment donald trump inflation infrastructure interest rates military oil presidency prisons steel Mon, 05 Dec 2016 11:00:09 +0000 Tim Lemke 1845282 at http://www.wisebread.com Could Trump Bring Higher Interest Rates and Inflation? Consider These Money Moves http://www.wisebread.com/could-trump-bring-higher-interest-rates-and-inflation-consider-these-money-moves <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/could-trump-bring-higher-interest-rates-and-inflation-consider-these-money-moves" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/donald_trump_98978789.jpg" alt="Donald Trump could bring higher interest rates and inflation" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>In a matter of weeks, America will have a new President, and people are already speculating as to what a new man in the White House will mean for the economy.</p> <p>Donald Trump outlined a series of policy proposals on the campaign trail, including some that, according to economists, may impact inflation and interest rates. This comes at a time when the Federal Reserve has been hinting at raising interest rates for a while. So if all of this happens, what should you do with your money? Here are some ideas.</p> <h2>If There's Inflation</h2> <p>Ifd the federal government opens up the fiscal spigot, inflation is sure to follow.</p> <h3>1. Take a Look at Gold</h3> <p>Gold has long been a popular investment for those seeking protection against inflation, especially during times of political and global uncertainty. Prices for gold spiked in the immediate aftermath of Trump's election, but are still quite low from a historical standpoint.</p> <p>There are several ways to purchase gold. You can buy gold bars or bullion and store it, or purchase shares of companies involved in gold mining. There are also exchange-traded funds (ETFs) that track the performance of gold or gold-related industries.</p> <h3>2. Get Into TIPS</h3> <p>The U.S. Treasury offers something called Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities, or TIPS. These are pegged to the Consumer Price Index, so when the index rises, the value of the investment rises with it. These are solid, low-risk investments that are perfect for when inflation is a possibility, and they are exempt from state and local income taxes. It's also possible to own TIPS in a retirement fund, via an ETF or mutual fund.</p> <h3>3. Invest in Commodities</h3> <p>In addition to gold, there are other commodities that can be used as a hedge against inflation. Many commodities, including oil, wheat, and even live cattle naturally rise with inflation. If you're unsure of which commodities to buy, consider looking at a fund or ETF that invests in commodities broadly. The PowerShares DB Commodity Index Tracking Fund [NYSE: <a href="http://www.google.com/finance?cid=722064">DBC</a>]) and the Fidelity Series Commodity Strategy Fund [NYSE: <a href="https://www.google.com/finance?q=FCSSX&amp;ei=4G48WJC_BdWNmAHcobLABw">FCSSX</a>] are two examples.</p> <h3>4. Get Real With Real Estate</h3> <p>Real estate is another area that often does well during an inflationary period. There are many ways to obtain real estate, either by purchasing property directly, or by buying shares of real estate investment trusts, or REITs. The caveat here is that if interest rates rise, then the cost of a mortgage to purchase real estate will also go up. So it may be smart to get in now while interest rates are still at historic lows.</p> <h2>If Interest Rates Rise</h2> <p>The Federal Reserve is expected to tick interest rates up a bit soon, while Trump's economic proposals could accelerate that process.</p> <h3>1. Invest in Banks</h3> <p>Banks generally do better when interest rates are higher than they are now. Right now, these companies have a low &quot;net interest margin&quot; &mdash; the difference between the interest they earn and the interest they pay out. Higher rates will increase this margin, thus increasing the bank's profitability.</p> <h3>2. Lock in a Fixed Rate</h3> <p>If you have a mortgage with an adjustable rate, now is the time to lock into something more stable, before interest rates rise. Convert your mortgage to a fixed-rate loan now, while interest rates are low. If you don't do this, your rate could adjust upward to a level that you may find unsustainable.</p> <h3>3. Switch to Short-Term Bonds</h3> <p>If interest rates are about to go up, you don't want your money tied up in something that's not paying a high rate. Placing your money in shorter term bonds and bond funds will allow you to remove your money earlier and then reinvest it in something with a higher return once rates rise. Long-term bonds do pay a higher rate than short-term bonds, but you lose flexibility.</p> <h3>4. Bolster Your Cash Holdings</h3> <p>With interest rates at ultralow levels, there hasn't been much incentive to hold on to a lot of cash. But if interest rates rise, you may find it's worth it to have a little more cash on hand, as it will generate some income for you. Stocks and other investments will probably still be more lucrative, but higher interest rates means there won't be as much downside to having more liquid savings, and it may give you more peace of mind.</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/could-trump-bring-higher-interest-rates-and-inflation-consider-these-money-moves">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/oh-noes-inflation">Oh noes! Inflation!</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-investments-that-may-soar-during-trumps-term">8 Investments That May Soar During Trump&#039;s Term</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-best-money-management-tips-from-john-oliver">7 Best Money Management Tips From John Oliver</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/inflation-is-going-away-for-a-while">Inflation is going away for a while</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/10-stocks-and-bonds-that-will-profit-from-the-fed-rate-hike">10 Stocks and Bonds That Will Profit From the Fed Rate Hike</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance Financial News bonds donald trump federal reserve gold inflation interest rates investing president Wed, 30 Nov 2016 12:00:11 +0000 Tim Lemke 1843966 at http://www.wisebread.com Surprise! There's a Gender Gap in Mortgages, Too http://www.wisebread.com/surprise-theres-a-gender-gap-in-mortgages-too <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/surprise-theres-a-gender-gap-in-mortgages-too" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_chalk_house_29878474.jpg" alt="Woman facing gender gap in mortgage lending" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>The gender gap in earnings is well known. According to a recent report by the Economic Policy Institute, the typical woman can expect to earn 83 cents for every dollar that the typical man earns.</p> <p>But studies show another gender gap that negatively impacts women: Research published by the Urban Institute in September said that women tend to pay more for their mortgages even though they are statistically more likely to pay their loans on time than men.</p> <h2>The Numbers</h2> <p>According to the Urban Institute, about 15.6% of female borrowers have what is known as a &quot;higher-priced mortgage.&quot; Borrowers with such mortgages are charged higher interest rates to borrow their home-loan dollars.</p> <p>How high these rates are at any given time varies. The Urban Institute uses the same definition of higher-priced mortgage used by the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act: a mortgage loan with an annual percentage rate that is higher than the benchmark interest rate known as the Average Prime Offer Rate. That rate stood at 3.58% for a 30-year fixed-rate loan as of June 20 of this year.</p> <p>The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau considers a first mortgage loan to be a higher-priced mortgage if its annual percentage rate is 1.5% or more higher than the Average Prime Offer Rate.</p> <p>The Urban Institute found that while 15.6% of female-only borrowers are paying off higher-priced mortgages, just 15% of male-only borrowers are doing the same. The institute found that male-female borrowers who apply for loans together receive higher-priced mortgages only 7.6% of the time.</p> <h2>Why Are Women Paying More?</h2> <p>Why do single women pay more for their mortgages? It's difficult to tell. It might come down to income. The Urban Institute reported that single female borrowers tend to have lower annual incomes than single males. According to the institute, single female borrowers earned an average of $69,200 a year. Single male borrowers had an average income of $94,700. Male-female borrowers had an even higher annual income of $119,000.</p> <p>Income is one of the financial factors that lenders consider when deciding who qualifies for a mortgage and what interest rates they pay. Lenders often charge higher rates as a form of financial protection when they worry that borrowers' incomes are lower, because they fear that these borrowers will be less likely to pay their loans back on time.</p> <p>Borrowers with lower incomes also have less money for a down payment. When borrowers put down less for a house, they are typically charged a higher interest rate, again to make up for the extra risk that lenders take on when loaning them money. Lenders assume that borrowers who put less money down are more likely to stop paying their mortgage loan if they suffer a financial crisis.</p> <p>But what about FICO credit scores? These three-digit numbers tell lenders whether borrowers have a history of paying their bills on time or if they tend to miss payments and run up credit card debt. Lenders charge higher interest rates to borrowers with low credit scores.</p> <p>But from 2004 to 2014, the Urban Institute found, female-only borrowers had an average FICO credit score of 711, similar to the average 712 score of male-only borrowers. That score is significantly lower, though, than the 725 average score submitted by joint male-female borrowers.</p> <p>Credit bureau Experian reported in March of this year that the average FICO credit score for all women is 675, a bit higher than the average score of 670 for men. Women also had 3.7% less average debt than men, according to Experian.</p> <h2>Better Record</h2> <p>Despite paying more for their mortgages, female-only borrowers tend to do a slightly better job of paying them on time than do male-only borrowers. According to the Urban Institute, female-only borrowers had a default rate on their loans of 9.6% from 2008 through 2010. Male-only borrowers had a slightly higher default rate of 9.7% during this same time.</p> <h2>What to Do?</h2> <p>What does all this mean for women applying for mortgage loans? If they are applying for mortgages on their own and want the lowest interest rates possible, they need to make sure that their finances are strong.</p> <p>This means that their FICO credit score should be at least 740 if they want to qualify for the lowest interest rates. It also means that their monthly debts, including their estimated new mortgage payment, should be 43% or less than their gross monthly income.</p> <p>Single male borrowers need to focus on the same factors, of course. But the research from the Urban Institute indicates that strong FICO scores and debt-to-income ratios are especially important for single females who want to avoid the financial burden of a higher-priced mortgage.</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/surprise-theres-a-gender-gap-in-mortgages-too">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/why-you-should-consider-an-adjustable-rate-mortgage">Why You Should Consider an Adjustable-Rate Mortgage</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/is-it-safe-to-re-finance-your-home-close-to-retirement">Is it Safe to Re-Finance Your Home Close to Retirement?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/should-you-pay-your-mortgage-off-early">Should You Pay Your Mortgage Off Early?</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/3-times-a-refinance-is-the-wrong-move">3 Times a Refinance Is the Wrong Move</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-surprising-things-lenders-check-besides-your-credit-score">4 Surprising Things Lenders Check Besides Your Credit Score</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Real Estate and Housing gender home loans interest rates mortgage gap wage gap women Tue, 29 Nov 2016 11:00:09 +0000 Dan Rafter 1834563 at http://www.wisebread.com 6 Ways to Invest When You're In Debt http://www.wisebread.com/6-ways-to-invest-when-youre-in-debt <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/6-ways-to-invest-when-youre-in-debt" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/plant_tree_stump_462868653_0.jpg" alt="Learning ways to invest when you&#039;re in debt" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>You know you need to begin investing to save for the future, but you still have some debt to pay off. It is possible to take care of both at the same time?</p> <p>The short answer is that yes, you can pay down debt and invest at the same time. In many ways, this is a personal choice. If you despise debt and sleep better at night knowing that you're paying it off as quickly as possible, that's fine. But if you can tolerate paying off debt at a slower rate and investing some money, you may end up ahead of the game financially over the long-term.</p> <p>Here are some things to consider when deciding how much to invest and how much debt to pay off.</p> <h2>1. Minimum Payments First, Then Invest</h2> <p>While it's certainly possible to pay down debt and invest at the same time, it's never a good idea to invest if you can't make your minimum payments first. If you don't make minimum payments, you'll be on the hook for higher interest, late fees, and penalties. Not to mention that your credit score will take a big hit. Consider investing your money only if you know you can set money aside and still make at least the minimum payments on debt.</p> <h2>2. Tackle the High Interest Debt</h2> <p>If your debt is tied up in credit cards and other things that come with high interest rates, you may want to hold off on investing until that's under control. Credit cards have interest rates in the double digits, and you're unlikely to generate an investment return that outpaces that. Once that high-interest debt is down to zero, then investing becomes much more possible. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/fastest-way-to-pay-off-10000-in-credit-card-debt?ref=seealso">Fastest Way to Pay Off 10K in Credit Card Debt</a>)</p> <h2>3. Use Your 401K Plan</h2> <p>If you work for an employer that offers a 401K plan or something similar, it's worth taking part even if you have some debt. That's because most employers will match contributions up to a certain amount. So it's like getting free money. Any contributions you make to a 401K are deducted from your taxable income, so there are great tax advantages for taking part. Invest what you can while still paying down your debt. Then, when your debt is paid off, increase your contributions.</p> <h2>4. Look at Low-Cost Mutual Funds and ETFs</h2> <p>If most of your debt is tied up in low-interest things like student loans or mortgages, it's okay to set aside some money to invest in things that will generate a good return. In fact, there are many financial planners that argue against paying off low-interest loans early if market returns are higher than interest rates. Over time, stocks have averaged returns of about 7%, which is much higher than interest rates these days. To get this type of return, consider looking at mutual funds and exchange-traded funds that have low fees and are designed to track the performance of the overall stock market.</p> <h2>5. Find Investments That Trade Without a Commission</h2> <p>If you're trying to invest and pay down debt at the same time, there's a good chance you may only be able to invest a little at a time. That's okay, but it's important to be aware of the fees and commissions you pay every time you buy and sell. If you're only buying a few shares of a stock but paying $8 in a commission, for example, that fee is cutting into a sizable percentage of your investment. Fortunately, many discount brokerages allow you to trade certain types of investments without paying a commission. Fidelity offers fee-free investing on all iShares ETFs, ETrade offers many commission-free ETFs from WisdomTree and Global X, and TD Ameritrade offers more than 100 ETFs with no transaction fees.</p> <h2>6. Automate as Much as Possible</h2> <p>Finding the balance between investing and paying off debt requires some discipline. If you have some debt but are considering investing, determine in advance what your ideal balance is. Then, set up automatic monthly transfers of money into an investment account, and automate your bills as well. If you get extra money or a raise, consider tweaking the balance accordingly. When you automate, it takes the guesswork out, allows you to stay consistent, and makes it easier to do other financial planning.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/tim-lemke">Tim Lemke</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-ways-to-invest-when-youre-in-debt">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-money-moves-to-make-as-soon-as-you-conquer-debt">7 Money Moves to Make as Soon as You Conquer 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/beware-of-these-common-debt-consolidation-traps">Beware of These Common Debt Consolidation Traps</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-ways-to-prevent-a-debt-spiral">5 Ways to Prevent a Debt Spiral</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-an-etf-isnt-right-for-you">8 Signs an ETF Isn&#039;t Right for 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/11-investing-tips-you-wish-you-could-tell-your-younger-self">11 Investing Tips You Wish You Could Tell Your Younger Self</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Debt Management Investment 401k ETFs fees interest rates market returns mutual funds saving money Wed, 23 Nov 2016 11:30:07 +0000 Tim Lemke 1838645 at http://www.wisebread.com Should You Pay Your Mortgage Off Early? http://www.wisebread.com/should-you-pay-your-mortgage-off-early <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/should-you-pay-your-mortgage-off-early" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/married_couple_home_18525549.jpg" alt="Married couple paying off their mortgage early" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Hate sending that big payment to your mortgage lender each month? You're certainly not alone. But what if you had the ability to pay off that mortgage loan early, either by paying extra dollars toward your loan's principal balance or by paying off the rest of your mortgage in one giant payment?</p> <p>Should you do it? Or are there times when <em>not </em>paying off your mortgage early actually makes sense?</p> <p>Not surprisingly, it depends on a host of factors. Here is what you should look at when determining whether paying off your mortgage early is the best choice.</p> <h2>Tax Benefits</h2> <p>When arguing against paying off your mortgage early, most people point to the mortgage interest deduction. This allows most homeowners to deduct annual mortgage payments.</p> <p>There is a catch here, though: You can only claim the mortgage interest deduction if you itemize your taxes. And you should only itemize if your deductions are higher than the IRS' standard deduction, which as of 2016 stood at $12,600 for married couples filing jointly and $6,300 for singles and married people who file separately.</p> <p>This means that those homeowners most likely to benefit from the deduction are those who have purchased higher-priced homes, have a high interest rate on their mortgage, or are in the very early stages of paying off that mortgage. For other homeowners, the deduction will either be less than or barely more than their standard deduction.</p> <p>This means that you'll need to determine &mdash; perhaps with the help of your accountant or financial adviser &mdash; whether the mortgage interest deduction is really helping you at your current stage of paying off your mortgage. If it is, then factor this benefit in when determining whether you should pay off your mortgage early. But if it's not? Then don't let the promise of a yearly tax deduction influence your choice.</p> <h2>Other Debt</h2> <p>According to Freddie Mac's Primary Mortgage Market Survey, the average interest rate on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage stood at 3.54% as of Nov. 3. The average rate for a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage was an even lower 2.84%. Those are both extremely low interest rates.</p> <p>At the same time, financial website Bankrate reported that the average variable interest rate for credit cards stood at 16.28% as of Nov. 2.</p> <p>The message here is clear: If you are burdened with high-interest credit card debt, and you have enough money to spend extra on your mortgage loan or pay it off entirely, it makes more sense to put those extra dollars toward your credit cards.</p> <p>It makes financial sense to pay off debt that comes with higher interest rates first. It might feel good to make that big monthly mortgage payment disappear, but it's smarter to whack away at your <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-day-debt-reduction-plan-pay-it-off?ref=internal">credit card debt</a>, which, thanks to high interest rates, can grow quickly each month.</p> <p>Before deciding to pay extra on your mortgage or pay it off entirely, look at your other debt first: Use your extra money to eliminate the debt that is costing you the most each month.</p> <h2>Are You Staying Put or Moving?</h2> <p>How long do you plan on staying in your home? Do you plan on living out the rest of your days there? Or are you already planning a move in five to seven years?</p> <p>It makes more sense to pay extra on your mortgage loan if you plan on staying in your home for a longer period of time. By paying extra each month, you can shave thousands of dollars off the amount you'll pay in interest during the life of your mortgage.</p> <p>But if you plan on moving in five years, paying extra doesn't make as much sense. You'll sell your home long before you come close to paying it off. So if you're not going to be a long-term resident of your current home, put that extra money to better use.</p> <h2>Are You an Investor?</h2> <p>Those who argue against spending extra on your mortgage say that most homeowners would be better off taking those extra dollars and investing them. This goes back to the low interest rates attached to mortgages today. If you are only paying an interest rate of 3.5% on your home loan, why wouldn't you keep that debt and instead invest in the stock market, where you could make a return of 7% or more on that money?</p> <p>This assumes, though, that you'll actually invest the money that you won't spend on your mortgage loan. If you're more likely to spend it instead, you're better off paying down your mortgage or even paying it off early.</p> <h2>Retirement</h2> <p>Are you close to retirement? You might want to pay off that mortgage early. It's best to enter retirement with as few monthly payments as possible. If you plan to stay in your home after retiring, paying off that mortgage early makes sense. You are then free to use that money that you would have sent to your lender each month however you choose.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dan-rafter">Dan Rafter</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/should-you-pay-your-mortgage-off-early">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/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-2 views-row-even"> <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-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/watch-out-for-these-5-last-minute-home-buying-costs">Watch Out for These 5 Last Minute Home Buying Costs</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/rent-your-home-or-buy-heres-how-to-decide">Rent Your Home or Buy? Here&#039;s How to Decide</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/is-it-safe-to-re-finance-your-home-close-to-retirement">Is it Safe to Re-Finance Your Home Close to Retirement?</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Real Estate and Housing debt homeownership interest rates mortgages paying off early retirement tax benefits Wed, 16 Nov 2016 10:30:27 +0000 Dan Rafter 1833769 at http://www.wisebread.com 4 Easy-to-Fix Reasons Your Savings Account Isn't Growing http://www.wisebread.com/4-easy-to-fix-reasons-your-savings-account-isnt-growing <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/4-easy-to-fix-reasons-your-savings-account-isnt-growing" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_piggy_bank_100350013.jpg" alt="Woman learning reasons your savings account isn&#039;t growing" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Your savings account seems to be broken.</p> <p>You set it up some time ago, full of hope and high expectations, and you have been moving money into it whenever you can &mdash; but it just isn't growing the way you would expect.</p> <p>The lack of growth in your savings account may be disheartening, but it's probably due to a problem that you can fix easily. Here are the top four reasons your money doesn't grow in a savings account, and what you can do to start seeing higher balances:</p> <h2>1. The Problem: You Make Regular Withdrawals From Your Savings Account</h2> <p>The quickest way to undo all your savings work is to raid the account. Whether that happens because you are regularly transferring funds from savings to checking, or because you're withdrawing cash from your savings account at the ATM, or because you let your savings account act as your overdraft protection, the result is always the same &mdash; your savings account balance stays low.</p> <h3>The Easy Fix: Reduce Access to Your Account</h3> <p>The fix for this problem is to reduce your access to your savings account. Having too-easy access to savings accounts can kill your ability to effectively save money. Instead, consider moving your savings account to a different bank than your checking, and establish a link between the two. With your savings account out of sight, the money will be out of mind. And that's the best way to let it grow without your interference.</p> <h2>2. The Problem: Transfers to Your Savings Account Are Infrequent and Small</h2> <p>You transfer money to your account when you can, but that tends to only happen every couple of months when you finally get ahead of your bills. And even when you are able to make deposits in your savings account, the amounts are never very high. It almost feels like it's not worth transferring the money.</p> <h3>The Easy Fix: Automate Your Savings</h3> <p>Regular Wise Bread readers are well aware of the importance of automating your savings. Doing so allows you to pay yourself first and take away the temptation of extra dollars in your checking account. Set an automatic transfer up once, and you will reap the benefits of savings account growth for good. Remember that there are a couple of ways to make sure your automation helps you build your savings as much as possible:</p> <ul> <li>Automatically transfer a set amount to savings on your payday. If you don't see it in your checking account, you won't spend it.</li> </ul> <ul> <li>Have your paycheck deposited directly into your savings account, and transfer the amount you need for your monthly budget into checking. While this gives you less of a buffer in your checking account, it offers the psychological boost of seeing the numbers in your savings account go up quickly, which can help curb mindless and impulse spending.</li> </ul> <h2>3. The Problem: You Are Saving Money, But Not for Anything in Particular</h2> <p>Without a specific goal in mind, it can be difficult to get psyched about the money in your savings account. Yes, it's great that you have several hundred (or several thousand) dollars sitting in a savings account, but it can feel like having an auxiliary checking account if you don't have a specific purpose in mind for the money. And not having a goal for you money makes it much easier to raid the account if you find yourself lusting after Coachella tickets.</p> <h3>The Easy Fix: Create Targeted Savings Accounts</h3> <p>We are much more likely to feel excited about saving money if we have a specific goal in mind. This is partially due to something known as <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/mental-accounting-why-you-blow-your-tax-refund-but-not-your-raise">mental accounting</a>, which is our tendency to value money differently depending on how it is physically and mentally labeled. You might feel no compunction about &quot;borrowing&quot; $400 from your general savings account for a Coachella ticket, but taking that money from your new car fund would hurt.</p> <p>Many online and traditional banks will allow you to create several targeted accounts, each with its own nickname. Taking the time to put a name to each one of your savings goals can help you save more and spend less.</p> <h2>4. The Problem: Your Interest Rate Is Too Low</h2> <p>Maybe you are doing everything right with your savings account. You have regular, automatic deposits, and you keep your hands off the account. But it's still not growing &mdash; because the interest rate is at rock bottom. According to Bankrate, the average APY for savings accounts is a measly 0.08%, which means inflation is eating into your money if you leave it in your savings account for any amount of time.</p> <h3>The Easy Fix: Transfer Your Money Into a Money Market Account</h3> <p>If you are just getting started with savings, it's probably a good idea to continue to set money aside into your savings account. But if you've grown your savings account over time and get sick of seeing teeny tiny interest payments, then you might want to consider transferring your savings into a money market account.</p> <p>These accounts are a type of savings product that double as a checking account, with an interest rate that is much more generous compared to that of traditional savings accounts. For instance, according to Bankrate, the best money market accounts offer APY rates of up to 1.11%.</p> <p>Money market accounts generally require a larger minimum deposit &mdash; you can expect to need at least $1,000 to open your account. In addition, you may face fees on your money market account if you allow your balance to dip below a certain level. For most money market accounts, you may write checks on the account, although you are generally limited to no more than six checks (or other withdrawals) per month.</p> <p>For savers who have been diligently putting money aside into a traditional savings account, rolling that money into a money market account can be a great way to put your savings to work for you by increasing your interest.</p> <h2>The Bottom Line</h2> <p>Your savings account deserves to grow and flourish. Most of the problems keeping your balance down are well within your control, as long as you take the time to address them. Don't let an easy-to-fix problem keep you from meeting your savings goals.</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/4-easy-to-fix-reasons-your-savings-account-isnt-growing">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/could-trump-bring-higher-interest-rates-and-inflation-consider-these-money-moves">Could Trump Bring Higher Interest Rates and Inflation? Consider These Money Moves</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-ways-to-invest-when-youre-in-debt">6 Ways to Invest When You&#039;re In Debt</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-ways-to-prevent-a-debt-spiral">5 Ways to Prevent a Debt Spiral</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-brilliant-tips-from-smart-mom-rich-mom">4 Brilliant Tips From &quot;Smart Mom, Rich Mom&quot;</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/reach-your-money-goals-faster-with-a-simple-naming-trick">Reach Your Money Goals Faster With a Simple Naming Trick</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance automatic transfers checking account growing interest rates money market accounts saving money savings account Wed, 16 Nov 2016 10:00:09 +0000 Emily Guy Birken 1833768 at http://www.wisebread.com Has Cash Become More Trouble Than It's Worth? http://www.wisebread.com/has-cash-become-more-trouble-than-its-worth <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/has-cash-become-more-trouble-than-its-worth" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/cash_money_78583601.jpg" alt="Learning if cash has become more trouble than it&#039;s worth" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>You probably know people who have already quit using cash. I do. They pay their bills electronically, and pay for items purchased at stores with debit cards (or <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/prepaid-cards-about-to-get-safer-and-better">prepaid cards</a>, or credit cards, or any number of alternatives like Apple Pay or Google Wallet).</p> <p>Those people are making their choice based on what's best for them, but maybe society would be better off if people didn't have the choice. At least, that's what Kenneth Rogoff thinks. He's sure enough to have gone to the trouble of writing a book called <a href="http://amzn.to/2fyfK9H">The Curse of Cash</a> to lay out why he thinks so, and to suggest a path to a (nearly) cash-free society.</p> <p>Personally, I'm not convinced.</p> <h2>Rogoff's First Problem: Corrupt Transactions</h2> <p>That scale issue is what Rogoff wants to solve. Using $100 bills, you can fit $1 million in a briefcase. (You've no doubt seen the iconic aluminum Zero Halliburton case in movies. Its dimensions allow that much money, in new or used bills, to fit perfectly.) Drug lords, money launderers, human traffickers, gangsters, and corrupt businessmen can make and receive large payments in a form that's hard to detect and hard to track.</p> <p>Rogoff's idea is that getting rid of large bills will make illegal payments much harder. Your average corrupt government official, Rogoff figures, is going to be a little less interested in taking a bribe if he's going to need a dolly to cart off a steamer trunk full of $10 bills. And if he <em>does</em> take the bribe, it's going to be so cumbersome to move, store, and spend the money as to make it a lot easier to catch him.</p> <p>The idea that getting rid of large bills will reduce crime, and make criminals easier to catch, is not new. There were $500 and $1,000 bills in regular circulation in the U.S. until 1969, when President Nixon ordered them withdrawn for just that reason. There are still old bills in those denominations around, but they're mostly in the hands of collectors &mdash; and tend to sell for well over face value. They're still worth face value at a bank, but any that get deposited get sent to the Federal Reserve to be destroyed.</p> <p>(Note that with those pre-1970 large bills, we're talking big money. Adjusted for inflation, a briefcase full of $1,000 bills in 1969 would have been worth the equivalent of well over $65 million in 2016.)</p> <p>Rogoff isn't the only one thinking along these lines. Just a few months ago the European Central Bank announced their decision to get rid of their &euro;500 banknote, on the grounds that it &quot;could facilitate illicit activities.&quot;</p> <p>For most of the past ten years a briefcase full of &euro;500 bills would have been worth at least $6.5 million, although just at the moment it's only worth $5,520,350.</p> <p>Even after phasing out the &euro;500 banknote, Europe will still have a &euro;200 banknote, worth about $220, so the euro will still come out ahead in the &quot;biggest bribe in the smallest case&quot; competition. (Although behind the $1,000 Singapore banknote, worth over $700, and the 1,000 Swiss franc note, worth over $1,000.)</p> <p>Rogoff's plan would see the elimination of both the $100 and the $50 bills, followed eventually by the elimination of the $20. (Still later, he'd like to see the $5 and $10 replaced with coins hefty enough to be very unhandy for anyone carrying around more than $60 or so the average person has in his wallet right now.) These changes would make high-dollar cash payments almost impossible.</p> <p>To enable all this, he'd like to see a few changes, the biggest of which would be the creation of subsidized bank accounts and debit cards that would be free to poor people. (The government has been moving in this direction for a while, with things like the <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/making-direct-deposit-safe-for-the-garnished">Direct Express card</a>. It's only good for receiving payments of federal benefits at the moment, but it &mdash; or the now common prepaid cards &mdash; could work for this purpose with modest tweaks.)</p> <h2>Rogoff's Second Problem: Negative Interest Rates</h2> <p>Rogoff's second reason for getting rid of cash has to do with the way the Federal Reserve operates.</p> <p>The Federal Reserve adjusts interest rates with the goal of keeping prices stable while maximizing employment. They have some rules of thumb to guide them as to what the appropriate interest rate should be. Sometimes &mdash; such as the whole past seven or eight years &mdash; those rules of thumb have suggested that rates should be negative.</p> <p>Negative rates are hard to make stick as long as cash exists. If your bank account would pay a negative interest rate &mdash; in other words, charge you a fee to hold your money &mdash; obviously you're just going to withdraw your money and hold it as cash.</p> <p>Despite that issue, several central banks are experimenting with negative interest rates. So far, it's been working okay. If interest rates are only slightly negative, it's not worth it to go to the hassle of handling the cash, finding secure storage, insuring it, and so on. But what if the rules of thumb say that interest rates should be very negative? It would be worth it to rent a big vault and hire a bunch of armed guards, if the alternative was to pay several percent negative interest on $1 billion.</p> <p>If there were no high-denomination bank notes &mdash; nothing bigger than a $20 &mdash; then pulling your money out of the bank and stashing cash in a vault simply wouldn't be an option. You'd be stuck taking whatever negative rate the central bank decided was appropriate.</p> <p>Rogoff, who spent a good chunk of his career working at the Federal Reserve, thinks that would be great.</p> <h2>Going Cash-Free &mdash; Or Not</h2> <p>Rogoff's book deals pretty well with the practical issues of switching over, although he punts on a few. In particular, he figures that the infrastructure to make person-to-person payments with immediate settlement &mdash; the electronic equivalent to handing someone a $20 bill &mdash; will be created soon enough.</p> <h3>Cash Is Good at What It Does</h3> <p>However, the fact remains that there are plenty of problems cash solves very well. If you want to sell something that I want to buy, and if I have cash on hand to pay for it, we can execute the transaction without any third-party support. We don't need cards or a machine to read them. We don't need power or an Internet connection. We don't need a financial institution. We don't need a procedure to handle failures of any of those things.</p> <p>Large denomination bank notes are quite handy for transactions modestly bigger than what we usually carry in our wallets. My wife and I have twice sold an old car, each time for a few hundred dollars. One buyer showed up with a few $100 bills, which I was able to quickly verify and easily count. The other buyer showed up with a few dozen $20 bills, which made completing the transaction much more of a production. (Just counting a few hundred dollars in $20s is a non-trivial undertaking for people without much experience doing so, let alone verifying that <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-spot-counterfeit-money">they're not counterfeit</a>.)</p> <p>Most of the other details, where cash seems more convenient than some cash-free alternative, are effectively dealt with in Rogoff's book. It's full of points to flesh out his proposal, even if he fails to acknowledge some of my personal issues, such as the value of bank notes as works of art, and their value as archetypal objects of yearning.</p> <p>Leaving those trivial issues aside, there's still one big issue that keeps me from being on board with his proposal, which is that it traps everyone in a banking system controlled by the government &mdash; a government that is very likely to use the same tools they use currently (such as freezing bank accounts) in ways that will turn out to be vastly more coercive than they are now.</p> <h3>Cash Keeps You Free</h3> <p>Currently, if the government freezes your bank accounts, you lose the use of most of your money. The government isn't supposed to do this in a punitive fashion &mdash; it's just to make sure you don't abscond with the money before things get sorted out. But of course it is terribly punitive, and you're probably going to try pretty hard to sort things out with the government as quickly as possible.</p> <p>Think how much worse things would be if it weren't just your savings that were frozen, but also your ability to make transactions. Right now if your accounts are frozen, you at least have the theoretical option of putting your finances on a cash basis. If there were no cash, you could literally find yourself starving in the dark because you couldn't buy groceries or pay your power bill.</p> <p>Rogoff, I suspect, would wave that problem away as something that could be easily fixed administratively: There would be rules that would keep the government from freezing your bank accounts so severely as that, along the lines of the rules that already exist for garnishing your wages &mdash; transactions under certain amounts or for certain purposes would be allowed.</p> <p>For me though, that's putting a huge amount of faith to put in those rules and the people overseeing them. After all, fundamental rights have been (and are still being) seriously infringed on the grounds that certain people were &quot;suspected terrorists.&quot; Since access to a transaction account isn't currently viewed as a fundamental right, the threshold for limiting such access would be much more easily crossed. Who would object to freezing the accounts of suspected drug lords and suspected human traffickers? But why would it end there? Surely suspected tax cheats are bad people, and suspected deadbeat dads as well. What about people suspected of being behind on their student loans? (The government can seize most of your money for almost any debt you owe the government, but money from Social Security is safe &mdash; unless you're behind on your student loans.)</p> <p>Knowing I have the option to put my finances on a cash basis is a source of considerable comfort to me.</p> <p>Yes, the circumstances that mean I can put my finances on a cash basis if I need to also mean that criminals can put their finances on a cash basis. I'm willing to accept that, even if Rogoff isn't.</p> <p>I like the fact that cash money just works, without depending on any infrastructure. It's one reason I've long suggested that you <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/carry-some-cash">carry some cash</a>.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/philip-brewer">Philip Brewer</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/has-cash-become-more-trouble-than-its-worth">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/sensible-ways-to-raise-cash-for-a-wedding">Sensible Ways to Raise Cash for a Wedding</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/ow-do-you-deal-with-family-members-who-are-bad-at-managing-money">How Do You Deal With Family Members Who Are Bad At Managing Money?</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/47-simple-ways-to-waste-money">47 Simple Ways To Waste Money</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/does-your-money-management-reflect-who-truly-you-are">Does Your Money Management Reflect Who You Truly Are?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-audacity-to-waste-money-for-better-finances">The Audacity to Waste Money for Better Finances</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance Lifestyle cash cash is king corruption interest rates kenneth rogoff money management transactions Fri, 11 Nov 2016 10:30:27 +0000 Philip Brewer 1830889 at http://www.wisebread.com Switch to a Better Bank in 5 Easy Steps http://www.wisebread.com/switch-to-a-better-bank-in-5-easy-steps <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/switch-to-a-better-bank-in-5-easy-steps" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_phone_check_78686861.jpg" alt="Woman switching to a new bank in 5 easy steps" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Switching banks is a pain. You have to close accounts, research new banks, and rework all those automatic bill payments you've set up at the financial institution you'd like to leave.</p> <p>But sometimes making the switch is the right move. Maybe your bank has raised its fees. Maybe it's closed the branches that operated near your home or work. And if you're moving, you might have no choice but to make the switch.</p> <p>Yes, switching banks does take a bit of work. But it's relatively simple work.</p> <p>If you need or want to switch to a new bank, follow this simple step-by-step guide. Doing so will ease any stress from jumping to a new financial institution.</p> <h2>1. Research a New Bank</h2> <p>Before closing any accounts at your current bank, make sure that you spend some time researching a new home for your money. Choose a bank that offers online bill pay and direct deposit, of course. You also want one that offers free checking and higher interest rates on savings accounts &mdash; relatively speaking, since interest rates are still near historic lows.</p> <p>Customer service matters, too. Search for a bank that has plenty of ATMs near you and that still operates branches within a short drive of your home or office. You might also consider investigating a credit union or an online bank, both solid alternatives to traditional banks.</p> <p>The key in this search is the checking account. Make sure you know exactly how your new checking account will operate. Is there a minimum-balance requirement? Are there fees if you make too many withdrawals during a month? How large of an initial deposit do you need to set up your new account? These are all key questions that you should answer during your research.</p> <h2>2. Open Your New Checking Account</h2> <p>Once you select a new bank, start the switching process by opening a checking account there. Do this before you close the checking account at the bank you are leaving. You might still need money in your old account to cover payments that haven't yet cleared.</p> <p>To open a checking account, you'll need some basic information. You'll need to provide, of course, your name, address, and date of birth. But you'll also need to provide your Social Security number and one official piece of photo identification. Usually, this will be your driver's license. But banks will also accept an official state ID card or your passport.</p> <p>Your bank will then require you to make an initial deposit into your new account. How big this deposit must be will vary by bank.</p> <h2>3. Cancel Automatic Payments at the Bank You Are Leaving</h2> <p>Once you've established a checking account at your new bank, it's time to cancel any automatic payments that you've set up at the bank you are leaving. Do this right away, so that your creditors don't try to take money out of an account that is either empty or has been officially closed.</p> <p>Then set up the same automatic payments with your new bank. You'll need your bank's routing number and address and your checking account number to do this.</p> <p>If you had signed up to have your paycheck deposited directly into your old account, cancel that direct-deposit arrangement, too. Then contact your company's human resources department to move your direct deposits to your new checking account.</p> <h2>4. Close Your Old Account &mdash; When the Time Is Right</h2> <p>You can now close your old account, if all of the checks you've written against it have cleared. Compare your check register against your online account to make sure.</p> <p>If you don't do this? Any checks that have not yet cleared will bounce if your old account is closed. The companies that you were paying might charge you late fees if this happens. This danger is why it usually makes sense to wait at least a month after opening your new checking account before closing your old one.</p> <h2>5. Get It in Writing</h2> <p>When you're sure that all your checks and payments have cleared, you can officially close that old account. Doing this in person might be the best choice. That way you can instantly receive written verification that your account has been closed. You'll want this documentation in case your former bank reopens your account or claims that it was never shut down in the first place.</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/switch-to-a-better-bank-in-5-easy-steps">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/think-twice-before-ditching-your-current-bank">Think Twice Before Ditching Your Current Bank</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-things-your-teen-needs-or-doesn-t-need-in-a-bank-account">5 Things Your Teen Needs (or Doesn’t Need) in a Bank Account</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-signs-its-time-to-find-a-new-bank">5 Signs It&#039;s Time to Find a New Bank</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-reasons-to-love-your-bank">6 Reasons to Love Your Bank</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-earn-a-good-interest-rate-in-a-low-rate-environment">How to Earn a Good Interest Rate in a Low-Rate Environment</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Banking automatic payments checking accounts credit unions customer service interest rates savings accounts switching banks Fri, 04 Nov 2016 10:00:06 +0000 Dan Rafter 1826531 at http://www.wisebread.com The Problem With Car Title Loans http://www.wisebread.com/the-problem-with-car-title-loans <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/the-problem-with-car-title-loans" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/car_coins_money_49234302.jpg" alt="Learning the problem with car title loans" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Your electric bill is due in three days and you don't have enough cash in your checking account to cover it. Or maybe a big credit card bill just arrived in your mailbox and you don't have enough dollars to even afford the minimum required payment.</p> <p>Should you take out a car title loan, a way to turn the title of your vehicle into quick cash?</p> <p>Most consumer advocates say &quot;no.&quot; Car title loans, they say, come with exorbitant interest rates. And the companies making them target consumers whom they hope won't pay them back on time. This way, the lenders who originate these loans make extra money on penalties and fees.</p> <p>Read on to learn more about car title loans &mdash; and why you should avoid them.</p> <h2>How Title Loans Work</h2> <p>Car title loans are fairly simple. You provide a lender with the title of your car as collateral. You can then usually borrow up to 50% of the assessed value of your car. To not incur any extra fees, you usually must pay the loan back in 30 days.</p> <p>If you don't pay the loan back, your lender will have your car repossessed. It's why most title lenders require that you drop off a copy of your car keys when you take out the loan.</p> <h2>Exorbitant Interest Rates</h2> <p>The biggest negative with car title loans are the sky-high interest these lenders charge. According to the Federal Trade Commission, title loans typically carry an <a href="https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0514-car-title-loans">annual percentage rate of 300%</a>. A report by the Center for Responsible Lending in 2013 summed it up this way: If you borrowed $1,000 for a month from a title lender, you'd typically pay $250 in interest. That is exorbitant.</p> <h2>Predatory Lending</h2> <p>Critics lump title lenders in with the originators of payday loans, saying both types of lenders are <em>predatory</em>. The Center for Responsible Lending, for instance, says that title lenders target consumers who are less likely to pay their loans back on time. Lenders like this because they can then force these consumers to refinance or &quot;roll over&quot; their loans several times, paying more fees and interest each time. When these consumers finally do pay back their loans, the title lenders have earned plenty of profit. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-terrible-loans-you-should-avoid?ref=seealso">10 Terrible Loans You Should Avoid</a>)</p> <p>The center said in its 2013 report that title loan borrowers renew their loans eight times on average, paying an average of $3,391, or nearly three times what they initially borrowed.</p> <p>And if consumers don't renew their loans and simply stop paying? Then title lenders simply take their borrowers' cars and sell them. Either way, the title lenders make a solid profit on their loans.</p> <h2>Car Title Loans Are Big Business</h2> <p>Car title loans generate plenty of money each year. The Center for Responsible Lending reports that each year, car title lenders earn $4.3 billion in fees on loans that total $1.9 billion. Title Max is one of the bigger of these lenders. The company says that since opening in 1998, it has expanded to more than 1,100 locations in the United States.</p> <h2>Fast Cash Alternatives</h2> <p>You know that title loans are a bad deal. But what alternatives do you have if you need fast cash?</p> <p>There are some. Of course, they all come with drawbacks, too. It's not easy to find a great deal when you need money quickly.</p> <p>Your best bet might be to borrow money from family members or friends. Make sure, though, that you pay back these loans quickly. Otherwise, you can easily ruin your relationships.</p> <p>If you can't borrow money from friends or family, there are always credit unions and banks. You can apply for a personal installment loan from these sources. In an installment loan, you'll pay back a portion of your debt every month, with interest, until it is paid off. Banks and credit unions will charge you interest on their loans, but their interest rates will be far lower than the interest you'd pay on a car title loan. The challenge? You might not qualify for one of these loans if your credit is weak. The application process might take time, too, meaning that you might not gain access to the money you need before your other bills come due.</p> <p>You can also turn to your employer for help. Maybe you can secure an advance on your next paycheck that you can use to pay off your upcoming bills. The problem here, of course, is that your next paycheck when it does arrive will be smaller. At the same time, your boss might reject your request, and this can make for an awkward office environment.</p> <p>The truth is, there is no perfect option when you need cash and you need it in a hurry. The best approach is to build up an emergency savings fund that you can tap whenever a financial emergency arises. Financial experts say that you should have at least six months' worth of living expenses saved in one of these funds at all times. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/change-jars-and-8-other-clever-ways-to-build-an-emergency-fund?ref=seealso">Change Jars and Other Clever Ways to Build Up an Emergency Fund</a>)</p> <p>That sounds overwhelming, but there's nothing wrong with building up that fund slowly. Deposit what you can each month, even if it's as little as $50. Before long, you'll have grown a solid emergency fund. Then you won't have to worry about title loans or other sources of fast cash.</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/the-problem-with-car-title-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-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/beware-of-these-common-debt-consolidation-traps">Beware of These Common Debt Consolidation Traps</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-ways-to-invest-when-youre-in-debt">6 Ways to Invest When You&#039;re In Debt</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-new-car-costs-the-dealer-is-hiding-from-you">10 New Car Costs the Dealer Is Hiding From 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/5-surprising-ways-revolving-debt-helps-you">5 Surprising Ways Revolving Debt Helps 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/refinance-these-4-common-debts-before-year-ends">Refinance These 4 Common Debts Before Year Ends</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Cars and Transportation borrowing money car title loan fees interest rates lenders predatory loans Fri, 21 Oct 2016 10:00:21 +0000 Dan Rafter 1816945 at http://www.wisebread.com How Your Unused Credit Cards May Be Costing You http://www.wisebread.com/how-your-unused-credit-cards-may-be-costing-you <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-your-unused-credit-cards-may-be-costing-you" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/holding_credit_cards_79349747_0.jpg" alt="Woman learning how unused credit cards may be costing her" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>We've all been there. After shopping and picking out a few items, you head to the counter, and the cashier tells you there is a special offer: You'll get 20% off if you sign up for a credit card today. It sounds like a great deal, so you sign up to get the discount. Afraid of racking up interest charges, you pay it off right away, then never use the card again. It just sits in a drawer somewhere, gathering dust.</p> <p>While you may think that minimizing your credit card balance is a smart financial decision, having unused credit cards can be a problem &mdash; and can impact your credit score.</p> <h2>Unused Cards and Your Credit Score</h2> <p>Having a range of cards and credit lines open indicates to lenders that you are a reliable borrower and helps improve your credit score. That unused card adds to your overall available credit, which is a good thing &mdash; but if it goes inactive for too long, it can negatively affect your credit history.</p> <p>Your credit score is dependent on <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/this-one-ratio-is-the-key-to-a-good-credit-score">credit utilization</a>, meaning the percentage of your available credit line you use each month. If your card goes unused, eventually the credit card company will assume you no longer want the account and will close it for you. Exactly how long this is varies from issuer to issuer and can depend on other factors in your credit history. Even worse, issuers are not required by law to inform you that the credit account has been closed due to inactivity. When the account is closed, the sudden decrease in your available credit raises your credit utilization and can cause your credit score to drop.</p> <p>Beyond credit utilization, your credit score is also dependent on the length of your credit history. If the unused card is your oldest account, and it gets closed, you lose out on the benefits of your history and your score goes down because of that, as well.</p> <p>Generally, you don't want to close your oldest account, because once it's eliminated, your credit history is abridged and your score will decrease.</p> <h2>When Does It Make Sense to Close a Card?</h2> <p>In some cases, it may make sense to close a dormant card rather than have it go unused. For example, a card with a high annual fee or a very high interest rate with a balance can cost you in the long run; it makes more sense to <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/when-to-do-a-balance-transfer-to-pay-off-credit-card-debt">transfer the balance to a lower interest card</a> and close the card with an annual fee. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-credit-cards-with-no-annual-fees">Best Credit Cards with No Annual Fee</a>)</p> <p>If you know you're not going to use the cards anymore, you may want to close it on your terms rather than have it unexpectedly closed by the issuer. Do it during a time when you won't need your credit checked. Definitely don't go on a closing spree right before you're applying for a loan or trying to rent a new apartment. In fact, the best time might be right after, since your credit will have already taken some hits with the new loan or credit checks anyway.</p> <h2>Preventing an Account Closure</h2> <p>To prevent an account closure and maintain your credit score, use the cards you want to keep for necessary expenditures. Rather than using only one credit card, spread out your purchases over all of your cards to ensure they all are used and stay active.</p> <p>To prevent racking up credit card debt in the process, use your cards strategically. Use each card for a routine purchase, such as using one card for groceries and another for gas. After you make a purchase, make a payment right away. This process will keep your cards active but will ensure you do not build up credit card debt.</p> <p>While it's a good idea to keep your debt down, not using your cards can lead to a lower credit score and smaller credit line. Instead, manage your spending wisely to keep the cards active and maintain your credit history.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/kat-tretina">Kat Tretina</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-your-unused-credit-cards-may-be-costing-you">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/stop-making-these-5-costly-credit-card-mistakes">Stop Making These 5 Costly Credit Card Mistakes</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/avoid-these-5-common-mistakes-while-rebuilding-your-credit">Avoid These 5 Common Mistakes While Rebuilding Your Credit</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/4-surprising-things-lenders-check-besides-your-credit-score">4 Surprising Things Lenders Check Besides Your Credit Score</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/this-one-ratio-is-the-key-to-a-good-credit-score">This One Ratio Is the Key to a Good Credit Score</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Credit Cards closing accounts credit history credit score dormant credit cards interest rates shopping store cards Fri, 30 Sep 2016 09:00:06 +0000 Kat Tretina 1802286 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<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<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-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/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-2 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-3 views-row-odd"> <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-4 views-row-even"> <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-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 6 Scary Facts About Credit Card Debt http://www.wisebread.com/6-scary-facts-about-credit-card-debt <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/6-scary-facts-about-credit-card-debt" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/man_shocked_face_74060557.jpg" alt="Man learning scary facts about credit card debt" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>We all know that credit card debt is the worst type of debt that you can carry. That's because of the high interest rates attached. If you don't pay off your credit cards in full each month, the debt you owe can quickly skyrocket.</p> <p>But even though credit card debt is scary, this hasn't stopped many consumers from racking up thousands of dollars of it.</p> <p>As fall arrives and Halloween looms, are you ready for a real scare &mdash; at least of the financial variety? Here are six facts about credit card debt that should spook consumers who don't pay off their card balances every month:</p> <h2>1. There's Too Much Credit Card Debt Out There</h2> <p>Credit card debt is like one of those unstoppable slashers from 1980s horror movies: It's hard to get rid of. That explains why, according to a report on consumer credit by the Federal Reserve, the total amount of revolving debt owed by U.S. consumers stood at a staggering $953.3 billion as of May of 2016.</p> <p>The Federal Reserve predicts that this debt, which is made up mostly of credit card debt, could hit $1 trillion by the end of the year &mdash; the highest this figure has ever been.</p> <h2>2. We're Not Paying Off Our Credit Card Debt as Quickly as We're Adding to It</h2> <p>Credit card website CardHub reported that during the first quarter of 2016, U.S. consumers paid off a total of $26.8 billion in credit card debt. That sounds impressive, right? Unfortunately, it's not. According to the report, that represents only 38% of the $71 billion in credit card debt that U.S. consumers added to their cards in 2015.</p> <p>In other words, American consumers as a whole are paying off far less of the new credit card debt that they are adding.</p> <h2>3. Too Many of Us Owe Thousands of Dollars in Credit Card Debt</h2> <p>That figure above is scary. But what's more frightening is the average amount of credit card debt that Americans owe. This figure is hard to pin down, because how high it is depends on whether you include consumers who use credit cards but don't carry a balance each month.</p> <p>But here are two particularly chilling credit card statistics: In July of 2016, CreditCards.com reported that the average U.S. household that has credit card debt owes $9,600. The average credit card that usually carries a balance has $7,494 on it as of July of this year.</p> <h2>4. Credit Card Interest Rates Are Still Far Too High</h2> <p>Credit card interest rates remain downright scary. According to Bankrate, the average variable interest rate on U.S. credit cards stood at 16.10% as of August 17 of this year. Even scarier are the penalty interest rates that credit card companies can charge you if you're late on paying your bill. Your interest rate could soar to 28% or higher.</p> <h2>5. It Can Take a Frighteningly Long Time to Pay Off Credit Card Debt</h2> <p>As anyone who has struggled with credit card debt knows, eliminating that debt takes plenty of patience. If you make only the minimum payment each month, it can take you a decade or more to pay off your debt. Consider these numbers provided by Bankrate: Say you owe $6,000 on a credit card with an interest rate of 18%. If your minimum payment is 4% of your monthly balance, it will take you 11 years and nine months to pay off that debt making only this required minimum monthly payment. You'll pay a total $9,474 to pay off that $6,000 debt. And this assumes that you won't add any new debt to your card during this time.</p> <h2>6. Making a Late Payment Will Haunt You</h2> <p>Paying your credit card bills late can have a frightening impact on your FICO credit score, the number lenders rely on to determine whether you qualify for loans and at what interest rate.</p> <p>If you are 30 days or more late on your credit card payments, your card provider can report your late payment to the three national credit bureaus of Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. A single late payment will stay on your credit reports for seven years. It can also cause your credit score to fall by 100 points or more.</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/6-scary-facts-about-credit-card-debt">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/the-dirty-secrets-of-credit-cards">The Dirty Secrets of Credit Cards</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-sobering-facts-about-credit-card-debt">5 Sobering Facts About Credit Card Debt</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-best-0-balance-transfer-credit-cards">The 5 Best 0% Balance Transfer Credit Cards</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/avoid-these-5-common-mistakes-while-rebuilding-your-credit">Avoid These 5 Common Mistakes While Rebuilding Your Credit</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-7-best-credit-card-debt-elimination-strategies">The 7 Best Credit Card Debt Elimination Strategies</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Credit Cards Debt Management balances debt interest rates minimum payments overspending scary facts Wed, 21 Sep 2016 09:01:03 +0000 Dan Rafter 1796578 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. 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/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-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/never-borrow-money-for-these-5-buys">Never Borrow Money for These 5 Buys</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/best-of-personal-finance-credit-where-credit-is-due-edition">Best of Personal Finance: Credit Where Credit Is Due Edition</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/8-credit-repair-mistakes-that-will-cost-you">8 Credit Repair Mistakes That Will Cost You</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance Debt Management borrowing money credit history credit score home equity line of credit interest rates loans revolving debt Tue, 20 Sep 2016 09:00:05 +0000 Mikey Rox 1794234 at http://www.wisebread.com 5 Ways to Pay Off High Interest Credit Card Debt http://www.wisebread.com/5-ways-to-pay-off-high-interest-credit-card-debt <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5-ways-to-pay-off-high-interest-credit-card-debt" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_coffee_credit_cards_82594511.jpg" alt="Woman paying off high interest credit card debt" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Credit card debt is one of the most costly forms of debt, with interest rates between 20% and 30% in some cases. (Cardholders who have missed a payment might even incur higher penalty rates.) In contrast, secured loans such as car loans and home mortgages can have far lower rates. And unlike a home mortgage or student loans, interest on credit card debt is never tax deductible.</p> <p>So as with any costly loan, your first priority should be <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-day-debt-reduction-plan-pay-it-off?utm_source=wisebread&amp;utm_medium=internal&amp;utm_campaign=cc_article">paying it off as soon as possible</a>. And even if you have to take out another loan to do so, you can save money when you are able to <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/when-to-do-a-balance-transfer-to-pay-off-credit-card-debt?utm_source=wisebread&amp;utm_medium=internal&amp;utm_campaign=cc_article">transfer your debt</a> to a new account that has a lower interest rate than your existing credit card balances.</p> <p>See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/fastest-way-to-pay-off-10000-in-credit-card-debt?utm_source=wisebread&amp;utm_medium=seealso2&amp;utm_campaign=cc_article">The Fastest Way to Pay Off 10K</a></p> <p>Here are five ways that you can pay off your high interest credit card debt.</p> <h2>1. Credit Card Balance Transfer</h2> <p>If you have a balance on a high interest credit card, you can save money by transferring it to a <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-best-low-interest-rate-credit-cards?utm_source=wisebread&amp;utm_medium=internal&amp;utm_campaign=cc_article">card with a lower interest rate</a>. Better yet, some cards offer <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-best-0-balance-transfer-credit-cards?utm_source=wisebread&amp;utm_medium=internal&amp;utm_campaign=cc_article">0% APR promotional financing on balance transfers</a> for a limited time, from six to as long as <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/retire-your-credit-card-debt-with-citi-simplicity-card?utm_source=wisebread&amp;utm_medium=internal&amp;utm_campaign=cc_article">21 months</a>. Most cards will impose a balance transfer fee of 3% to 5% of the amount transferred. However, there are cards available that offer <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-best-credit-cards-with-no-balance-transfer-fees?utm_source=wisebread&amp;utm_medium=internal&amp;utm_campaign=cc_article">balance transfers with no fee</a>. These balance transfer offers are your best way to eliminate interest charges while you pay down your debt.</p> <h2>2. Personal Loan</h2> <p>Many banks and credit unions are willing to offer <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/best-lenders-for-personal-loans?ref=internal">personal loans</a> to applicants with good or excellent credit. So long as the interest rate offered is lower than your credit card balance, you can use these loans to pay off your credit cards and reduce your interest costs. However, the best rates will only be available to those who have excellent credit. If you have <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/best-credit-cards-for-bad-credit?utm_source=wisebread&amp;utm_medium=internal&amp;utm_campaign=cc_article">poor credit</a> and a lot of debt, you may not be approved for a loan with a lower interest rate than the one you currently have.</p> <h2>3. 401K Loan</h2> <p>It's possible to <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-questions-to-ask-before-you-borrow-from-your-retirement-account?ref=internal">loan yourself money from your 401K</a> so that you can pay off your high interest credit card balances. When you withdraw money from your 401K account, you can pay yourself back over as long as five years using very competitive interest rates that will be lower than nearly all credit cards. And since you are essentially acting as your own lender, there is no need to have excellent credit. On the other hand, you will be missing out on the compound interest your investments would have earned, and you will face tax penalties if you fail to pay the back the loan on time.</p> <h2>4. Life Insurance Loan</h2> <p>There are some types of whole, universal, or variable universal life insurance policies that allow you to take out a loan against them. Any money you withdraw is then deducted from your death benefit. And while interest rates can be below that of high interest credit cards, any unpaid interest will be added to your loan amount and subject to compounding. Just like a 401K loan, you are borrowing from your own funds, so your current credit rating will be irrelevant.</p> <h2>5. Home Equity Line of Credit</h2> <p>If you have equity in your home, you may be able to borrow money against it for any purpose, including paying off your high interest credit cards. Current interest rates for <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/home-equity-loan-or-heloc-which-is-right-for-you?ref=internal">home equity lines of credit</a> are below 5%, which is far better than any standard credit card's interest rate. Your ability to secure a home equity line of credit will depend on your home's debt to credit ratio as well as your current credit history.</p> <p><em>Have you ever borrowed at a lower rate to pay off high interest debt? </em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/jason-steele">Jason Steele</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-ways-to-pay-off-high-interest-credit-card-debt">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/3-sources-of-fast-cash-besides-your-401k">3 Sources of Fast Cash Besides Your 401K</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-scary-facts-about-credit-card-debt">6 Scary Facts About Credit Card Debt</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/6-moves-to-make-before-cutting-up-your-credit-card">6 Moves to Make Before Cutting Up Your Credit Card</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-personal-finance-calculators-everyone-should-use">15 Personal Finance Calculators Everyone Should Use</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Credit Cards 401k balance transfer debt HELOC high interest home equity line of credit interest rates life insurance loans Wed, 07 Sep 2016 10:31:09 +0000 Jason Steele 1785333 at http://www.wisebread.com 4 Surprising Things Lenders Check Besides Your Credit Score http://www.wisebread.com/4-surprising-things-lenders-check-besides-your-credit-score <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/4-surprising-things-lenders-check-besides-your-credit-score" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/man_paperwork_house_83751927.jpg" alt="Man learning things lenders check besides credit score" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>You know how important your FICO credit score is to mortgage lenders. They rely on this number to gauge how well you've handled credit and paid your bills in the past. A high credit score means that you'll qualify for a low mortgage interest rate. A low score? You might not qualify for a loan at all.</p> <p>But mortgage lenders don't look only at <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-reasons-you-are-more-than-your-credit-score" target="_blank">your credit score</a>&nbsp;when you apply for a home loan. They also consider several other key factors &mdash; everything from your job history to the size of your down payment.</p> <p>Here is a look at four noncredit factors that lenders will be studying when you apply for a mortgage loan.</p> <h2>Debt</h2> <p>Outside of your credit score, your debt-to-income ratio is the most important number for mortgage lenders. This ratio measures the relationship between your monthly debt obligations and your gross monthly income.</p> <p>As a general rule, lenders strongly prefer your total monthly debts &mdash; including your estimated new mortgage payment &mdash; equal no more than 43% of your gross monthly income (your income before taxes).</p> <p>If your debt-to-income rises past this level, lenders won't be as willing to lend you mortgage money. They'll worry that you're already overburdened with debt, and the addition of a monthly mortgage payment will only make your financial situation worse.</p> <h2>Job History</h2> <p>Lenders prefer borrowers who have worked for the same employer, in the same position, for at least two years. Lenders believe that such workers are less likely to lose their jobs and, therefore, less likely to lose the income stream they need to pay their mortgage loan on time each month.</p> <p>But there's a lot of flexibility with this rule. For instance, if you took on a new job with your same employer in the last two years, this probably won't hurt you. Even if you moved onto a new job with a different employer in your same industry, lenders probably won't worry.</p> <p>But what if you've taken a new job in a new industry in the last two years? That might cause some concern. Lenders might worry that you'll be more likely to lose that new position. However, you can usually still qualify for a loan.</p> <p>If you've been unemployed for a significant amount of time in the last two years, that can cause more problems. Be prepared to explain to lenders why you have a gap in your work history. As long as you have a solid income now, the odds are still good that you'll be able to qualify for a home loan.</p> <h2>Savings</h2> <p>To qualify for the lowest interest rates, make sure you have enough money in savings. You'll need money to pay for your down payment, closing costs, and a certain number of months' worth of property taxes, of course.</p> <p>But lenders often require that you also have enough in savings to pay at least two months of your new mortgage payment, including whatever you're paying each month for property taxes and insurance. If your total monthly mortgage payment will be $2,000, you'll need at least $4,000 in savings in addition to whatever you'll be paying for closing costs and down payment.</p> <p>Lenders want to see that you have savings in case you suffer a temporary reduction in your monthly income. This way, you'll be able to use your savings to pay for at least a couple months of mortgage payments.</p> <h2>Down Payment</h2> <p>The size of your down payment plays a big role in the size of your mortgage interest rate. In general, the bigger your down payment, the smaller your interest rate.</p> <p>That's because lenders consider you less of a risk to default on your loan if you come up with a larger down payment. You've already invested more in your home, the theory goes, so you'll be less likely to walk away from it.</p> <p>You can qualify for mortgage loans today with a down payment of as little as 3% of your home's final purchase price, in many cases. But if you want to qualify for the lowest interest rates? Putting down 20% of your home's final purchase price &mdash; admittedly not an easy task &mdash; will increase your chances of nabbing that ultralow rate.</p> <p><em>If you're getting ready to buy a house, have you taken steps to improve these parts of your finances?</em></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-surprising-things-lenders-check-besides-your-credit-score">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/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> <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/15-personal-finance-calculators-everyone-should-use">15 Personal Finance Calculators Everyone Should Use</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-things-lenders-look-for-in-a-loan-application">5 Things Lenders Look For in a Loan Application</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/should-you-pay-your-mortgage-off-early">Should You Pay Your Mortgage Off Early?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-surprising-ways-revolving-debt-helps-you">5 Surprising Ways Revolving Debt Helps You</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Banking Real Estate and Housing closing costs credit history credit score debt down payment FICO score interest rates job history lenders loans mortgages savings Mon, 29 Aug 2016 10:00:09 +0000 Dan Rafter 1779806 at http://www.wisebread.com