Banking http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/800/all en-US 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 6 Reasons to Visit Your Credit Union on October 20 http://www.wisebread.com/6-reasons-to-visit-your-credit-union-on-october-20 <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/6-reasons-to-visit-your-credit-union-on-october-20" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_glasses_piggybank_103388239.jpg" alt="Woman visiting her credit union on Credit Union Day" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Since 1948, International Credit Union Day has been celebrated on the third Thursday of October. This October 20th, 2016, more than 217 million credit union members around the world are joining in the celebration.</p> <p>About half of all credit union members are Americans (<a href="http://www.cuna.org/Research-And-Strategy/DownLoads/mcue/">108.1 million</a>!), but if you're not one of them, this Oct. 20th is a great opportunity to visit a local credit union, shop around for financial services, and find out whether or not you can get a better deal at a credit union.</p> <h2>Key Differences Between a Bank and a Credit Union</h2> <p>Only 36% of people surveyed by the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) were aware that credit unions are not-for-profit financial institutions. This is just one of the many differences between a traditional bank and your local credit union.</p> <h3>1. Credit Unions Have Members</h3> <p>You're not a client; you're a member or owner of the credit union. You're required to make a deposit in a savings account (often from $25 to $100) that grants you a share of the credit union.</p> <h3>2. You Must Be Eligible for Membership</h3> <p>Typical fields of membership include employee groups, associations, religious or fraternal affiliations, and residential areas.</p> <h3>3. You Can Vote on Key Issues</h3> <p>Including electing unpaid officers and directors for the credit union to establish operating policies and other key issues. Each member has one equal vote, no matter how small his or her deposit.</p> <h3>4. Deposits Are Insured by the NCUA or State or Private Insurance</h3> <p>While qualifying deposits in banks are insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), deposits in federally chartered credit unions and those with headquarters in Arkansas, Delaware, South Dakota, Wyoming, or the District of Columbia are insured by the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA). Each individual account, joint account, trust account, retirement account, and business account at any federal credit union is insured for up to $250,000. If you have a savings account, a trust account, and a Roth IRA at a federal credit union, you're covered for up to total of $750,000. State chartered credit unions and those with headquarters in states other than the ones listed earlier may be covered by either state or private insurance.</p> <h3>5. Credit Unions Collaborate With Each Other</h3> <p>Many credit unions offer shared branching that allows you to make deposits and withdrawals at locations other than that of your own credit union. With <a href="https://co-opcreditunions.org/locator/">nearly 30,000 ATMs</a> and more than 5,000 shared branches, credit union members have more direct, surcharge-free access to their money than most traditional bank customers do.</p> <h2>Why It Pays to Take Part in Credit Union Day</h2> <p>In a nutshell: higher savings rates for your deposits and lower costs for your loans.</p> <p>Let's compare some financial products from credit unions with those from banks, as of <a href="https://www.ncua.gov/analysis/Pages/industry/credit-union-bank-interest-rates-june-2016.pdf">June 2016</a>:</p> <ul> <li>Credit unions had a national average rate of 4.40% for five-year home equity loans, while banks had a 4.97% average rate.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>A 15-year fixed-rate mortgage would have only cost an average 3.06% per year at credit unions and an average 3.10% at banks.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>A classic credit card would have only charged you an average 11.56% at credit unions and an average 12.66% at banks.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>A $10,000 five-year CD yielded a national average 1.51% at credit unions and 1.22% at banks.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>A 48-month new car loan charged a national average 2.61% at credit unions and 4.58% at banks.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>A $2,500 money market account paid a national average 0.17% at credit unions and 0.12% at banks.</li> </ul> <p>Year after year credit unions demonstrate that they are working hard to get you the best bang for your buck. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-good-reasons-to-choose-a-credit-union-instead-of-a-bank?Ref=seealso">9 Good Reasons to Choose a Credit Union Instead of a Bank</a>)</p> <h2>What Can You Expect on International Credit Union Day</h2> <p>Several credit unions around the country will provide special offers and freebies to their current and new members.</p> <h3>1. Even Lower Fees</h3> <p>CUNA advises credit unions to offer loans or new share draft accounts for the <a href="http://www.cuna.org/Marketing-And-Member-Education/DownLoads/2016-ICU-Day-Celebration-Ideas/">same fees</a> that credit unions charged the year they opened.</p> <h3>2. Free Money or Freebies to Open a New Account</h3> <p>The Eagle Community Credit Union in California is offering a <a href="http://www.eaglecu.org/ICUDay">$25 deposit</a> and a lunch tote to new account holders from October 1 until October 31, 2016. The Meridian Trust Federal Credit Union in Cheyenne, Wyoming is offering a <a href="https://www.mymeridiantrust.com/about/support/international_credit_union_day/international_credit_union_day_special_offers.aspx">$50 Visa gift card</a> to those opening a new checking account.</p> <h3>3. Chance to Win a Discount Off Your Qualifying Rate for a New Loan</h3> <p>The University of Hawaii Credit Union is offering on October 21 and 22, 2016 the chance to pull a rate as low as 1.49% APR or <a href="https://www.uhfcu.com/?Cabinet=Main&amp;Drawer=UHFCU+Advantages&amp;Folder=Specials&amp;SubFolder=Auto+Loan+Special&amp;page_name=Auto+Loan+Special">up to 0.75% off</a> your qualifying rate. &quot;Checking in&quot; at the event with your Yelp app will get you 0.25% off your qualifying rate.</p> <h3>4. Free Gas Cards</h3> <p>Other credit unions may offer you incentives to receive free gas cards when you bring a completed certificate to a participating car dealership. If you get a new-car loan with the credit union at a qualifying dealer, the gas card can be of higher value.</p> <h3>5. Chance to Win Free Money</h3> <p>Last but not least, some credit unions may just be handing out money. In 2014, the Royal Credit Union in Eau Claire, Wisconsin handed out cups filled with $2 bills and fliers about the credit union to 500 students. All cups were entered into a drawing for <a href="https://www.facebook.com/likeRCU/posts/797687906961897">five real $2 bills</a>.</p> <h3>6. Opportunity to Fundraise for Your Community</h3> <p>The River Cities Community Credit Union in Atchison, Kansas hosts every year a hot dog meal fundraiser to donate to the Atchison County Food Pantry. Several credit unions host fundraisers to contribute to the local community.</p> <h2>The Bottom Line: Save the Date!</h2> <p>From a better saving rate for your deposits to a competitive new car loan to a freebie to boost your emergency fund, there is a lot you can gain from International Credit Union Day. As of December 2015, there 6,259 credit unions in the U.S. This Thursday October 20, 2016 is a great time to find out what you've been missing at your local credit union. Some special deals may only be available on that day or for a very limited time so plan ahead and use the <a href="http://mapping.ncua.gov">NCUA's credit union locator</a> to find the ones nearest you.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/damian-davila">Damian Davila</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-reasons-to-visit-your-credit-union-on-october-20">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-benefits-and-drawbacks-of-credit-unions">The Benefits and Drawbacks of Credit Unions</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/credit-unions-vs-banks-whats-the-difference">Credit Unions vs. Banks: What&#039;s the Difference?</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/switch-to-a-better-bank-in-5-easy-steps">Switch to a Better Bank in 5 Easy Steps</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/9-good-reasons-to-choose-a-credit-union-instead-of-a-bank">9 Good Reasons to Choose a Credit Union Instead of a 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/18-little-things-that-make-and-keep-america-great">18 Little Things That Make — and Keep — America Great</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Banking accounts community credit unions freebies international credit union day local business lower fees membership Wed, 19 Oct 2016 10:30:14 +0000 Damian Davila 1815062 at http://www.wisebread.com Christmas Club Accounts: Are They Worth It? http://www.wisebread.com/christmas-club-accounts-are-they-worth-it <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/christmas-club-accounts-are-they-worth-it" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/christmas_jar_money_80893365.jpg" alt="Learning if Christmas club accounts are worth it" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>We're not yet to Halloween and, yes, we're going to talk about Christmas shopping. During the 2014 holiday season, a poll found that families with children planned to spend $578.10 on gifts. But, when you add up additional gifts, decorations, and miscellaneous purchases, the estimated average total for holiday spending is over $1,200, depending on location.</p> <p>If you're thinking of paying that holiday tab with credit, one great way to curb that debt is to start saving for those expenses today by leveraging a Christmas club account. Let's review what Christmas club accounts are, their advantages and disadvantages, and other criteria to evaluate whether they're suitable for your holiday shopping needs.</p> <h2>What Are Christmas Club Accounts?</h2> <p>First offered by several U.S. banks during the Great Depression, these short-term savings accounts encourage account holders to make regular deposits that accumulate interest and provide access to the funds only at a predetermined date (usually December 1st).</p> <p>Through the years, there have been many versions of Christmas club accounts. However, they all share one key feature: Withdraw your money earlier than the set date, and you'll not only lose all earned interest, but also receive a hefty penalty.</p> <p>Christmas club accounts enjoyed their height of popularity in the 1970s, but nowadays they are not as common. You're most likely to find these type of savings accounts in credits unions, because about 72% of these financial institutions offer them, according to the Credit Union National Association (CUNA). (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-good-reasons-to-choose-a-credit-union-instead-of-a-bank?ref=seealso">9 Good Reasons to Choose a Credit Union Instead of a Bank</a>)</p> <h2>Advantages of Christmas Club Accounts</h2> <p>First, let's take at the benefits of these savings accounts.</p> <h3>Higher APY Than Regular Savings Accounts</h3> <p>As of September 6, 2016, the national average APY of savings accounts for deposits under $100,000 is a measly 0.06%, according to data from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC). Christmas club accounts easily defeat that APY. For example, in Honolulu, Hawaii I can find two credit unions offering Christmas club APYs of <a href="https://www.hawaiiusafcu.com/Resources/Tools-More/Rates">0.40%</a> and <a href="https://www.uhfcu.com/?Cabinet=Main&amp;Drawer=Advice+and+Planning&amp;Folder=Rates&amp;SubFolder=Savings+Rates&amp;Page_name=savings+rates">0.50%</a>.</p> <h3>Shorter Holding Period</h3> <p>To get a comparable APY at a credit union, you would need to look for a certificate of deposit with a maturity ranging from six to 23 months. At the credit union offering a Christmas Club APY of 0.50%, you would need to deposit a minimum of $500 for at least six months and 12 months to gain an APY of 0.30% and 0.75%, respectively. With a Christmas club account requiring no minimum balance to earn interest, you have immediate access to an APY of 0.50% at the same financial institution.</p> <h3>Forced Savings</h3> <p>A Christmas club can be a good choice to create a barrier between your bad spending habits and your money. The threat of losing all accumulated interest and paying a big penalty fee can be strong deterrents to prevent you from putting your hands in the cookie jar.</p> <h3>Covered Up to $250,000 by NCUA</h3> <p>While the FDIC doesn't cover credit unions, the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) insures deposits in federally chartered credit unions and those with headquarters in Arkansas, Delaware, South Dakota, Wyoming, or the District of Columbia. A Christmas club account in a qualifying credit union is covered by up to $250,000 by the NCUA.</p> <h2>Disadvantages of Christmas Club Accounts</h2> <p>Of course, Christmas club accounts do have some drawbacks.</p> <h3>Even Higher Savings APYs Are Available</h3> <p>While a 0.40% or 0.50 APY is good, a 0.75% APY is better. That is the current savings rate offered by the Capital One 360 Savings Account. If you're willing to enroll in online banking, you'll have access to higher APYs than those from Christmas club accounts. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-best-online-savings-accounts?ref=seealso">5 Best Online Savings Accounts</a>)</p> <p>(Note about other forms of savings: While you could save money also through an investment account, we are sticking to comparable financial vehicles that won't trigger taxes or investment fees, such as front-end and back-end load fees.)</p> <h3>Required Purchase of Shares</h3> <p>Unlike banks, credit unions have owners. To open a Christmas club account in a credit union, you'll need to make a separate deposit, usually $100, in a regular savings account from the same financial institution. You'll still retain ownership and gain interest on that deposit, but you won't be able to access it for a predetermined period. This is not a fee at all, but it may feel like one for some savers.</p> <h3>Limit to Savings</h3> <p>Christmas clubs often have a limit on how much you can earn interest at the higher savings rate. For example, the Christmas club offering a 0.50% APY only applies that rate to the first $5,000. Any balances exceeding $5,000 revert to the lower APY from the regular savings account (0.20%). One easy way to get around that limit is to have another member of your household open a separate Christmas club account. However, you'll need a willing family member who is eligible to become a credit union member.</p> <h3>Keep an Eye on Distribution Dates</h3> <p>Christmas clubs set different dates for the distribution of funds. The Christmas club with the 0.40% APY distributes funds on October 1st, and the one with the 0.50% APY distributes funds on November 1st. Choose a distribution date that allows you to maximize savings for this holiday season.</p> <h2>The Bottom Line: Are Christmas Club Accounts Worth It?</h2> <p>A Christmas club account can be useful way to reach your financial goal if you:</p> <ul> <li>Are looking to build up a holiday shopping fund between $500 and $1,200;<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Are just starting to save now for the current holiday season;<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Need a way to force you to save;<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Prefer to do business with a local financial institution; and<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Have about $100 that you can set aside for at least a year (unless you're already a credit union customer).</li> </ul> <p>On the other hand, you may be better off with another type of savings account, if you:</p> <ul> <li>Have a savings target well above $5,000;<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Are comfortable with banking online;<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Require &quot;just-in-case&quot; access to deposits without penalty;<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Have access to a savings account with an APY that beats that of Christmas clubs in your area; or<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Are only eligible to Christmas club accounts with a very early distribution date.</li> </ul> <p><em>How are you planning to pay for your holiday shopping?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/damian-davila">Damian Davila</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/christmas-club-accounts-are-they-worth-it">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/9-things-you-can-do-right-now-for-a-frugal-holiday-season">9 Things You Can Do Right Now for a Frugal Holiday Season</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-unique-holiday-gifts-for-teachers-that-theyll-actually-like">15 Unique Holiday Gifts for Teachers That They&#039;ll Actually Like</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/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-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-frugal-skills-you-must-have-to-survive-autumn">9 Frugal Skills You Must Have to Survive Autumn</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-frugal-skills-you-need-to-survive-black-friday">8 Frugal Skills You Need to Survive Black Friday</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Banking apy christmas clubs christmas shopping fees holiday shopping Holidays saving money Tue, 13 Sep 2016 10:30:08 +0000 Damian Davila 1791530 at http://www.wisebread.com 4 Foolproof Ways to Protect Your Money From Inflation http://www.wisebread.com/4-foolproof-ways-to-protect-your-money-from-inflation <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/4-foolproof-ways-to-protect-your-money-from-inflation" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_clock_money_94923537.jpg" alt="Woman finding ways to protect her money from inflation" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Back in January 1980, when Jimmy Carter was President and Michael Jackson led the music charts with &quot;Rock with You,&quot; Americans were experiencing one of the periods of highest inflation in modern history. In January 1980, inflation was over 13.9% per year and peaked in April 1980 at 14.76%.</p> <p>With the consumer price index (CPI) at <a href="http://www.bls.gov/news.release/cpi.nr0.htm">0.8% in July 2016</a>, many Americans have never experienced the dramatic increase in prices that other generations have. But even though inflation is low these days, it still eats away at your savings and investments. Let's review four (nearly) foolproof strategies and investments that will reduce the hit.</p> <h2>1. Invest in an S&amp;P 500 Index Fund</h2> <p>The average annual inflation rate since the U.S. government began tracking it in 1913 is <a href="http://inflationdata.com/Inflation/Inflation_Rate/Long_Term_Inflation.asp">about 3%</a>. To combat inflation's effect on your money, you need investments that provide greater average returns than the inflation rate.</p> <p>Since its inception in 1928, the S&amp;P 500 has provided an <a href="http://pages.stern.nyu.edu/~adamodar/New_Home_Page/datafile/histretSP.html">average annual return of 11.25%</a> until 2015, making this stock market index a leading choice to protect yourself from inflation. For the greatest ease and cost-efficiency, invest in a mutual fund or exchange-traded fund that mirrors the S&amp;P 500's performance.</p> <p>Not only are the average returns of passively-managed S&amp;P 500 index funds higher than those of actively managed funds, but also the expense ratios of S&amp;P 500 index funds are lower than those of actively managed funds. For example, the Vanguard 500 Index Investor Shares fund [Nasdaq: <a href="https://finance.yahoo.com/quote/VFINX?p=VFINX">VFINX</a>] has an annual expense ratio of 0.16%, which is 84% lower than the average expense ratio of funds with similar holdings.</p> <p>Of course, this approach isn't actually foolproof, since both the rate of inflation and market returns vary from year to year. But when considering long-term averages, it's a fairly safe bet.</p> <h2>2. Increase Annual Contributions to Saving Accounts</h2> <p>Even when you leverage <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-best-online-savings-accounts?ref=internal">high-yield online savings accounts</a>, you'll only make between 0.75% and 1.05% per year, according to data from August 2016. With a July 2016 CPI of 0.8%, you're actually losing 0.05% and gaining only 0.25% per year. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/capital-one-360-review?ref=seealso">Capital One 360: A Competitive Banking Option</a>)</p> <p>Setting up automatic transfers from your paycheck or main checking account to your investment and saving accounts is a smart idea, but adjusting those contributions for inflation is an even better one. A good practice is to make an adjustment for inflation once a year. Check with your financial institution to find out if it offers the option of automatic adjustments for inflation to your contributions.</p> <h2>3. Seek Real Estate Income</h2> <p>While gold has a great reputation as an investment hedge against inflation, real estate income has proved to be a better hedge tool. A study from financial company Fidelity back-tested the performance of several assets against inflation on an annual basis during a 40-year period and found that gold and real estate income beat inflation 54% and 71% of the time, respectively. &quot;Real estate is regarded consistently as a <a href="https://www.reit.com/news/videos/wharton-professor-discusses-reits-inflation-hedging-benefits">good inflation hedge</a>, and it is&quot;, asserts Susan Wachter, professor at the University of Pennsylvania Wharton School of Business. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-reasons-millenials-should-invest-in-a-home?ref=seealso">4 Reasons Millennials Should Invest in a Home</a>)</p> <p>While most individual investors can only afford to buy their own home, all individual investors can gain exposure to real estate income from a wide variety of properties through real estate investment trusts (REITS). Some advantages of REITs are their requirement to maintain a dividend payout ratio of at least 90% and their liquidity because they trade on major stock exchanges.</p> <p>For example, the 10-year annual average return of the Vanguard REIT Index Fund Investor Shares [Nasdaq: <a href="http://finance.yahoo.com/quote/VGSIX?ltr=1">VGSIX</a>] is 7.46%, as of June 30, 2016. In comparison, the 10-year annual average return of the S&amp;P 500 was 7.42% for the same period.</p> <p>Adding REITs provides you access to assets with inflation resistance and helps you protect against the negative of higher inflation. Still, REITs should only be a part of a well-diversified portfolio. Depending on your tolerance to risk, financial advisers suggest allocating from 5% up to 20% of your investment in portfolio in REITs. And of course, past performance is no guarantee of future success.</p> <h2>4. Negotiate Your Salary</h2> <p>If your salary were to consistently go up every year, you would not to worry about inflation to begin with! However, <a href="http://time.com/money/3657524/odds-of-getting-raise/">less than half of working Americans</a> ever even ask for a raise, and about 30% of them are uncomfortable negotiating salary.</p> <p>Start your career on the right foot by successfully negotiating the salary offer of your very first job. Three out of four U.S. employers typically have room to increase their first salary offers by 5% to 10% during negotiations, but only 38% of applicants negotiate those first salary offers. Let's imagine that your first salary offer was $38,000, that would mean that you have the potential of increasing that offer from $39,900 to $41,800. Given the historical inflation average of 3% per year, you have the potential of covering inflation for 40 months just by negotiating your first salary offer.</p> <p>And things only get better after that.</p> <p>By bumping up your salary from the start, you're increasing your chances of future raises. As your salary grows over time, so does your probability of getting a raise. For example, people making $40,000 to $50,000 have about a 40% chance of receiving that raise they requested and people making $60,000 to $70,000 have about a 50% chance.</p> <p>While there are other factors that may influence pay raises, the main one is the decision to request better compensation. From U.S. workers asking for a raise, 75% of them get something: 44% of them get what they asked for and 31% of them receive a smaller amount. Getting at least a small raise is a very smart strategy to protect yourself from inflation because inflation erodes the value of your dollars year after year.</p> <p><em>What are other ways to protect yourself from inflation?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/damian-davila">Damian Davila</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-foolproof-ways-to-protect-your-money-from-inflation">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/a-simple-guide-to-series-i-savings-bonds-i-bonds">A Simple Guide to Series I Savings Bonds (I-Bonds)</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/this-post-really-suk-kuks-examining-islamic-finance">This Post Really Suk-kuks: Examining Islamic Finance</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-investments-that-usually-soar-during-the-summer">7 Investments That Usually Soar During the Summer</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-pieces-of-financial-wisdom-from-warren-buffett">The 5 Best Pieces of Financial Wisdom From Warren Buffett</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-reasons-millennials-should-stop-being-afraid-of-the-stock-market">7 Reasons Millennials Should Stop Being Afraid of the Stock Market</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance Banking Investment consumer price index Economy hedging inflation negotiating real estate REITs returns s&p 500 salary savings stocks Fri, 02 Sep 2016 09:00:14 +0000 Damian Davila 1784422 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 Is Bitcoin Still a Thing? http://www.wisebread.com/is-bitcoin-still-a-thing <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/is-bitcoin-still-a-thing" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/man_bitcoin_sign_41596574.jpg" alt="Man wondering if Bitcoin is still a thing" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Bitcoin. You may have heard the term. You may even know someone who has a bunch of them. But is Bitcoin just a fad that's dying out, or is it here to stay?</p> <p>Let's dive into a brief history of Bitcoin, the troubles it has faced, and the answer to the question on so many lips&hellip;is Bitcoin still a thing?</p> <h2>What Is Bitcoin?</h2> <p>Bitcoin is a form of currency that falls under the umbrella of &quot;cryptocurrency.&quot; To keep this simple, think of Bitcoin as currency that exists primarily in cyberspace, at a specific Bitcoin address that is linked with an access key. Unlike every other form of currency, it is decentralized, meaning large banks and corporations have no control over it. Plus, Bitcoins are not produced in the same manner as dollars or euros; they are generated by people through a process known as mining, which requires software that can solve complex mathematical problems.</p> <p>Perhaps the biggest selling point of Bitcoin is the finite nature of the currency. There is something called Bitcoin protocol, and it stipulates that only 21 million Bitcoins can ever be created. That's it. So clearly, as the demand for Bitcoins increases, so, too, does their value. (It's a little like trying to move into a town or city that has outlawed new construction. The houses in that area continue to rise in value as more people want to move in.)</p> <p>Another huge selling point is that it is completely anonymous. Plus, Bitcoin has tiny transaction fees, it's fast, and it's transparent. Every transaction is recorded (which is why Martin Shkreli's claim about <a href="http://thenextweb.com/insider/2016/02/15/pharma-bro-martin-shkreli-lied-about-bitcoin-so-someone-spent-his-real-money-on-lube/">losing $15 million in Bitcoins</a> was bogus).</p> <h2>How Did Bitcoin Come to Exist?</h2> <p>Created by Satoshi Nakamoto, Bitcoins came into existence in 2008 after his paper <em>Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System</em> was published. The idea was to create a low-fee electronic payment system that was free from any central authority, and easily or instantly transferrable. It wasn't until two years later that the first Bitcoins were used, and at the time they were worth less than a penny each (today, Bitcoins are valued at over $560 each, but the price fluctuates daily, and has hit a high of $1216.73). The biggest draw of Bitcoins &mdash; anonymity &mdash; meant that it became the preferred unit of currency for illegal activities on the online black market, such as the now shuttered Silk Road. However, as the price of Bitcoins rose meteorically, people who simply wanted to make money took an interest.</p> <h2>How Do You Acquire Bitcoins?</h2> <p>You can set up an <a href="https://bitcoin.org/en/getting-started">account at Bitcoin.org</a> in seconds. Once there, you choose a wallet, and can then get Bitcoins in a few different ways:</p> <ol> <li>Simply purchase them. You can set up a currency exchange with your bank, and have the Bitcoins (or pieces of a Bitcoin) deposited in your account.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>You can accept Bitcoins as a payment for goods or services. If you sell items online, you can ask to be paid in Bitcoins. If you freelance, you can do the same thing. It's not easy at the moment, but as more retailers and people realize the value of Bitcoins, it could become as natural as using PayPal.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Mine Bitcoins. This is the hardest part. It would take a much longer article to explain it all, but just know it is not exactly a walk in the park. With the current difficulty level and requisite hardware, it will take you <a href="https://bitcointalk.org/index.php?topic=556189.0">1,367 years to mine just one Bitcoin</a>!</li> </ol> <h2>What Troubles Have Plagued Bitcoin?</h2> <p>Aside from being associated with the sale and purchase of illegal guns, drugs, and other black market goods and services, Bitcoin has certainly had some setbacks.</p> <p>For starters, Bitcoin is a digital currency, and anything digital comes with hackers ready to find a weakness and exploit it. Just last week, a major Bitcoin exchange called <a href="http://www.forbes.com/sites/francescoppola/2016/08/06/theft-and-mayhem-in-the-bitcoin-world/#52d897a951ae">Bitfinex was hacked</a>, and 120,000 Bitcoins (roughly $60 million) were stolen. Back in 2014, another exchange, MtGox, was hacked and lost over 850,000 Bitcoins, valued at the time at over $620 million!</p> <p>Not only that, but some authorities refuse to even acknowledge that Bitcoin is a legitimate currency. Recently, a judge in Florida ruled that Bitcoin was <a href="https://thebillfold.com/florida-judge-rules-bitcoin-is-not-money-35752c22b67e#.cjr8xphlj">not considered money</a> because it &quot;cannot be hidden under a mattress like cash or gold bars.&quot; Ironically, this statement is going to have people running to use Bitcoin if they now realize they can legally launder money with it. What's more, you can actually have physical Bitcoins. You can even print them with a 3D printer. As long as they are linked to a Bitcoin address, and have an access key, they work. But for millions of people, this idea of money existing only in cyberspace is very disconcerting.</p> <h2>So&hellip;Is Bitcoin Still a Thing?</h2> <p>In a word, yes.</p> <p>Although the price of a Bitcoin is less than half what it was in 2013, the thing that makes Bitcoin a success is usage. Several years ago, few retailers were willing to touch Bitcoin as a method of payment. Now, more and more blue chip, big name <a href="http://spendbitcoins.com/">companies are taking Bitcoin</a>, and as more join the list, Bitcoin will become even more enticing. Here are just a few of the many companies now taking the cryptocurrency:</p> <ul> <li>Expedia</li> <li>NewEgg</li> <li>Amazon</li> <li>Overstock</li> <li>AliExpress</li> </ul> <p>With so many big names willing to accept Bitcoins, and the price of them rising as more people get into the market, Bitcoins are still viable and may even become more attractive to the average consumer. So, if you're interested, you may want to consider getting in sooner rather than later. After all, the person who spent <a href="https://news.bitcoin.com/bitcoin-pizza-day-anniversary/">10,000 Bitcoins on two pizzas</a> back in 2010 would have $4 million today!</p> <p><em>Are you over Bitcoin and cryptocurrency? Or are you still mining?</em><em><br /> </em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/paul-michael">Paul Michael</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/is-bitcoin-still-a-thing">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/heres-everything-you-need-to-get-started-with-bitcoin">Here&#039;s Everything You Need to Get Started With Bitcoin</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/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-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-purchases-with-financing-options-that-depreciate-fast">4 Purchases With Financing Options That Depreciate Fast</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-switch-banks">How to Switch Banks</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-money-lessons-i-learned-working-as-a-corn-detasseler">6 Money Lessons I Learned Working as a Corn Detasseler</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance Banking Financial News bitcoin cryptocurrencies digital wallets fads online payments value Mon, 22 Aug 2016 09:30:23 +0000 Paul Michael 1775888 at http://www.wisebread.com 11 Ways to Avoid Bank Fees While Traveling http://www.wisebread.com/11-ways-to-avoid-bank-fees-while-traveling <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/11-ways-to-avoid-bank-fees-while-traveling" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/women_atm_fees_82999015.jpg" alt="Women learning how to avoid bank fees while traveling" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>The worst thing to get charged for when you're on vacation is a fee for using your own money. Even worse, there are fees you may not even know existed until you return home and check your statement. They're not all small fees, either. Some of them can be as much as $7 per transaction.</p> <p>Imagine if over the course if your trip you visited the wrong ATM 10 times and ended up with $70 worth of fees. Fear not, though. I'll go over the most common fees you may run into on the road and show you how to avoid them.</p> <h2>ATM Fees</h2> <p>ATMs are probably going to be your biggest enemy when it comes to overseas bank fees. Most American banks will charge you between $5&ndash;$7 per overseas ATM withdrawal. If you travel a lot or take out money frequently while on the road, these can quickly add up.</p> <p>The best way to save money on bank fees is to do a little bit of preplanning before your trip. You have a couple of options that can help you eliminate ATM fees.</p> <h3>1. Capital One 360</h3> <p><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/capital-one-360-review">Capital One 360 Checking</a> account holders can use any ATM without incurring usage or foreign transaction fees. This is an online only account (which is why it has no fees), but it even earns interest. Those are two big bonuses for anyone who travels internationally frequently.</p> <h3>2. Charles Schwab</h3> <p>Charles Schwab accounts have no fees and they reimburse all your ATM fees at the end of each month.</p> <p>You have to open a high-yield checking account in order to qualify, but their debit card can be used in any ATM around the world and you'll never pay a cent in bank fees. There is no minimum deposit required and no monthly service fee either.</p> <h3>3. TD Bank</h3> <p>With the TD account, you are charged a flat $2.50 fee for ATM withdrawals and no foreign transaction fees.</p> <h3>4. Global ATM Alliance</h3> <p>A group of international banks have come together to form the Global ATM Alliance. Basically, any customer who holds an account with a participating bank can take out money from any associated ATMs without a fee. Note that while you won't be charged for using a member bank ATM, you may still get charged foreign transaction fees based on the amount you withdraw. Make sure you check with your bank precisely what their fees are.</p> <p>The Global ATM Alliance includes the following banks:</p> <ul> <li>Bank of America (United States)</li> <li>Barclays (England, Wales, Spain, Portugal, Gibraltar, and certain countries in Africa)</li> <li>BNP Paribas (France, Ukraine)</li> <li>China Construction Bank (China; Bank of America card holders only)</li> <li>Deutsche Bank (Germany, Poland, Czech Republic, Spain, Portugal, and Italy)</li> <li>Banca Nazionale del Lavoro (Italy)</li> <li>Santander Serfin (Mexico; Bank of America card holders only)</li> <li>Scotiabank (Canada, Caribbean, Peru, Chile, and Mexico)</li> <li>Westpac (Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Vanuatu, Cook Islands, Samoa, Tonga, Papua New Guinea, and Solomon Islands)</li> <li>ABSA (South Africa)</li> <li>UkrSibbank (Ukraine)</li> </ul> <h3>5. Avoid Credit Card Fees</h3> <p>Many credit cards charge a 3%&ndash;5% fee on any purchase made overseas. Think about that for a second. If you go on a two-week family vacation and spend $6,000 out of country, you would end up paying $180 in fees. Luckily, not all credit cards charge this fee, so choosing <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/smarter-security-and-no-foreign-transaction-fees-the-best-credit-cards-to-use-while-on-vacation">the right credit card for travel</a> can save you a lot of money on the road. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/top-5-travel-reward-credit-cards">Best Travel Rewards Credit Cards</a>)</p> <h2>A Few Extra Tips</h2> <p>Take a few other extra steps to make sure you aren't spend a few more extra dollars every time you reach for more cash.</p> <h3>6. Don't Use Random ATMs</h3> <p>While it may be convenient to use the ATM at your hotel or at the corner store, these are typically the ones that will cost you the most in fees.</p> <h3>7. Don't Exchange Money on the Street</h3> <p>Sometimes it's tempting to exchange money with the random guy outside the bank or the people standing around at border crossings. <em>Don't</em>! You may think that they have better rates than the bank, but they're usually scammers. Best case scenario, you get a bad exchange rate, worst case ... you get completely ripped off.</p> <h3>8. Avoid Currency Exchange Booths</h3> <p>While not quite as bad as the hustlers on the street corner, currency exchange booths are the next worst thing and typically have horrible exchange rates, especially ones located in airports.</p> <h3>9. Exchange With Other Travelers</h3> <p>If you end up with a bunch of extra local currency at the end of your trip, consider selling it to another traveler for USD. You'll probably get a better rate and you can avoid all bank and conversion fees this way.</p> <h3>10. Always Pick the Local Currency</h3> <p>Oftentimes when you use your credit card abroad, the machine will give you an option to use your home currency. Don't do this. They will usually charge you a worse conversion rate than your credit card if you just use local currency.</p> <h3>11. Download the XE App</h3> <p>It's always best to know the exchange rate for the country you're traveling to. The <a href="http://www.xe.com/apps/">XE Currency App</a> is a handy little app will automatically update every day with the exact exchange rate.</p> <p><em>How do you access cash when you travel &mdash; and avoid bank fees?</em></p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a href="//www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2F11-ways-to-avoid-bank-fees-while-traveling&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2F11%20Ways%20to%20Avoid%20Bank%20Fees%20While%20Traveling.jpg&amp;description=11%20Ways%20to%20Avoid%20Bank%20Fees%20While%20Traveling" data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-config="above" data-pin-color="red" data-pin-height="28"><img src="//assets.pinterest.com/images/pidgets/pinit_fg_en_rect_red_28.png" alt="" /></a> </p> <!-- Please call pinit.js only once per page --><!-- Please call pinit.js only once per page --><script type="text/javascript" async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/11%20Ways%20to%20Avoid%20Bank%20Fees%20While%20Traveling.jpg" width="250" height="374" alt="" /></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/goats-on-the-road">Goats on the Road</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/11-ways-to-avoid-bank-fees-while-traveling">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/dont-get-taken-how-to-evaluate-an-exchange-rate">Don&#039;t Get Taken: How to Evaluate an Exchange Rate</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/dont-let-these-expenses-spoil-your-retirement-abroad">Don&#039;t Let These Expenses Spoil Your Retirement Abroad</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-amazing-honeymoons-that-only-seem-expensive">5 Amazing Honeymoons That Only Seem Expensive</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/follow-these-5-credit-card-rules-when-traveling-abroad">Follow These 5 Credit Card Rules When Traveling Abroad</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/travel-and-money-using-prepaid-travel-cards">Travel and Money: Using Prepaid Travel Cards</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Banking Travel abroad atms bank fees exchange rates foreign transaction fees overseas Fri, 08 Jul 2016 09:00:12 +0000 Goats on the Road 1746055 at http://www.wisebread.com A New Bank On The Block: Fee Free Banking with Simple http://www.wisebread.com/a-new-bank-on-the-block-fee-free-banking-with-simple <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/a-new-bank-on-the-block-fee-free-banking-with-simple" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/78686861.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Online banking has become increasingly popular not just with traditional banks that have added mobile and web capabilities to their list of features. Although the services have been updated and extended, however, brick and mortar banks have yet to compete with online banks when it comes to their fees. Simple is a relatively new Simple online bank chockfull of services but with no fees.</p> <h2>About Simple Banking</h2> <p>Simple was founded in 2009 out of frustration with the level of technology and customer service offered by traditional banks. The company aims to offer all the features you want from a bank -- only smarter, less complicated, and more accessible. You can&rsquo;t step into a physical Simple branch (there aren&rsquo;t any), but you&rsquo;ll have all the tools you need to manage your money built right into your account.</p> <p><strong>Fee-free.</strong> The Simple bank account is entirely free of any fees. There are no minimums required to maintain a fee-free account. Use their services. Keep your money.</p> <p><strong>ATM Access.</strong> Use any of Allpoint's 50,000 ATMs around the country for fee-free ATM access.</p> <p><strong>Simple Visa card.</strong> Your Simple bank account includes a Visa debit card for making transactions. You can use the card anywhere Visa is accepted and at more than 50,000 fee-free ATMs.</p> <p><strong>Photo Check deposits.</strong> Snap photos of the checks and deposit with your smartphone. No more trips to the bank to deposit a check.</p> <p><strong>Safe-To-Spend.</strong> It can be confusing determining when certain payments are going to clear and figuring out exactly how much you have in your account to spend. The Simple Safe-to-Spend feature calculates and subtracts upcoming bill payments and pending transactions to give you an accurate idea of how much money you actually have on hand.</p> <p><strong>Goals.</strong> Budgeting and saving can be difficult, usually requiring a completely different app to manage your finances. Simple banking, however, includes its Goals feature to assist you with saving money for certain events or payments and figuring out exactly where your money is going. If you choose, you can set up vacation or expense fund accounts, and Simple will subtract and set aside the amount you choose to go into those Goals accounts. You can also manage the money you spend in certain categories, such as restaurants, by only setting aside the amount you are allowing in that category and withdrawing when you go to eat.</p> <p><strong>Making payments.</strong> Simple provides a number of easy ways to make payments whether it's a payment to a friend or family member, utility, or rent. When making payments to other members, it's not only free but instant so you don't have to wait days or weeks for payments to clear like you would with other banks. If you need to send an actual check, Simple will print it, address it, and send it, at no additional cost. You can also transfer funds for free via ACH, between your Simple account and any account you have at a U.S. financial institution.</p> <p><strong>Advanced record keeping.</strong> While many banks still send out statements reporting the funds that have gone in and out for the month, Simple provides more comprehensive data, which is useful for budgeting and tracking finances. Simple's tools allow you to categorize and analyze data to allow you a clear picture of where your money is going. You can also personalize the information to meet your needs.</p> <p><strong>Interest.</strong> The Simple deposit account has an interest rate of 0.01%, with an APY of 0.01%. The daily balance method is used to calculate the interest on the account so that a daily periodic rate is applied to the principal in the account each day.</p> <p><a href="http://9nl.at/hk80"><strong>Sign up for a Simple account today!</strong></a></p> <h2>Considerations</h2> <p><strong>No checkbooks.</strong> You can use their bill pay service to send a check, but you won't be able to order checks to write and sign yourself (and using a third party to print checks with your Simple account/routing number won't work).&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>No other products.</strong> If you want a bank to hold all your various financial accounts, like CDs, brokerage, mortgage accounts, Simple doesn't offer them (at least not yet).</p> <h2>Competitors</h2> <p>There are a popular online banks in the marketplace. <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/capital-one-360-review?utm_source=wisebread&amp;utm_medium=internal&amp;utm_campaign=review">Capital One 360</a> is one of our favorites. It offers an interest bearing checking account with a 0.20% APY. There are no fees and no minimums. Get access to 38,000 fee-free Allpoint&reg; ATMs and 2,000 Capital One ATMs. You'll also get a MasterCard debit card for purchases. They've been around longer, but Simple offers additional tools and services that will be helpful for anyone not just looking for a place to keep their money.&nbsp;</p> <h2>Is Simple Banking Right for You?</h2> <p>Simple banking is best for those looking for an alternative to traditional banking that doesn't include any fees and offers tools for budgeting and saving money. In the world of financial institutions, fee-free banking is extremely limited. Simple offers one of the least expensive and most convenient banking opportunities available.</p> <p><a href="http://9nl.at/hk80"><strong>Sign up for a Simple account today!</strong></a></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/christina-majaski">Christina Majaski</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/a-new-bank-on-the-block-fee-free-banking-with-simple">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/discover-bank-review-you-know-the-card-but-what-about-the-bank">Discover Bank Review: You Know the Card, but What About the 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/capital-one-360-review">Capital One 360: A Competitive Banking Option</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-5-millennial-money-apps-everyone-should-use">The 5 Millennial Money Apps 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/12-places-to-keep-your-money-safe-and-growing">12 Places to Keep Your Money Safe — And Growing</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/think-twice-before-ditching-your-current-bank">Think Twice Before Ditching Your Current Bank</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Banking banking online bank simple Fri, 24 Jun 2016 22:02:57 +0000 Christina Majaski 1737977 at http://www.wisebread.com Don't Get Taken: How to Evaluate an Exchange Rate http://www.wisebread.com/dont-get-taken-how-to-evaluate-an-exchange-rate <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/dont-get-taken-how-to-evaluate-an-exchange-rate" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/hundred_bill_cash_18532606.jpg" alt="Learning how to evaluate an exchange rate" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p style="text-align: left;">Currency exchanges should be simple transactions, requiring only very basic elementary school math. Multiply a couple of numbers and you are done, ready to take your trip abroad free from worry.</p> <p>But there are so many choices of exchange services &mdash; online, in banks, and at the airports &mdash; all offering slightly different rates and service packages. Not only is it draining to figure out which to choose, but it also makes it hard to know whether or not the price you are being charged to switch your hard-earned cash is fair.</p> <p>Check out this quick summary guide to help you calculate and find a fair exchange rate. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/travel-and-money-using-prepaid-travel-cards?ref=seealso">Travel and Money: Using Pre Paid Travel Cards</a>)</p> <h2>Why Is Currency Exchange So Confusing?</h2> <p>Some of the confusion around exchange rates is hard wired into the system. Rates vary day by day &mdash; and minute by minute &mdash; depending on trades going on around the world. The range of factors that can influence an exchange rate runs from macroeconomic and political trends, to the quirks of individual high value trades. Concerns about the stability of a currency can cause it to tank, while some good news can see it shooting up as investors want to buy in.</p> <p>Aside from the vagaries of the market, the other major factor influencing rates are the banks and exchange services, themselves. The rates on offer at your main street bank, when exchanging relatively small sums, are quite different from the rates that would be offered to a trader dealing on a daily basis in huge volumes.</p> <p>And because different banks and platforms apply different percentage markups to the exchange rates that are available on the open market, the end result is that there are pretty much as many rates as there are banks. So amid all the moving parts, how do you know if the rate you have been offered is actually fair?</p> <h2>Do the Math</h2> <p>This is the elementary level bit. Let's recap a bit of your childhood math.</p> <p>If you would like to change some money from dollars to euros, you will find the exchange rate, depending on the day and bank rate, listed something like this: 1 USD = 0.89EUR. This means that one dollar will buy you 0.89 euros. If your budget for your super luxury trip is $2,000, the calculation is as follows:</p> <p>2,000 X 0.89 = 1,780</p> <p>So your $2,000 will buy you &euro;1,780.</p> <p>Naturally, you can do the same math backward. If you know the amount in euros that you need for your trip, then you simply find the correct rate, which will look something like this: 1 EUR = 1.12USD. If you know you need &euro;3,000 for your trip, then the sum looks like this:</p> <p>3,000 X 1.12 = 3,360</p> <p>And your trip will cost you the grand total of $3,360.</p> <p>That's the easy part. But how do you know if the rates that are listed in your bank are actually good or not? Crack out the calculator again because there's more math coming.</p> <h2>Banks and the Mid-Market Rate</h2> <p>To know if the rate your bank has on offer is any good, you can compare it to the <em>midmarket rate</em> to work out the percentage markup they are adding for their own profit. Here's how:</p> <h3>Find the Mid-Market Rate</h3> <p>It is easy enough to find the live market rates for most currency pairings from <a href="http://finance.yahoo.com/currency-investing">Yahoo! Finance</a>. Simply find the currency pair that you want to exchange between, which will be expressed something like this: GBP/USD, or USD/EUR.</p> <h3>Check the Bank Rate</h3> <p>The market rate you will find in the step above is not the same as the rate you can get from walking into the bank. This is because the market deals with huge trades, and offers favorable rates for volume. The actual rate available to you will depend on the amount you want to exchange, and other factors, like whether you want the money immediately, or can wait.</p> <p>Pick a rate to compare. Let's say we are changing dollars to sterling, for a trip to London. The market rate we found is USD/GBP 0.68. However, the rate offered by an online exchange service is USD/GBP 0.65.</p> <h3>Do the Math</h3> <p>The markup applied by the online exchange service is the difference between the two rates &mdash; but you need to turn this into a percentage to compare it.</p> <p>The difference between the rates is: 0.68 - 0.65 = 0.03</p> <p>To turn this into a percentage, divide it by the market exchange rate and multiply by 100:</p> <p>0.03/0.68 = 0.04411765 (X 100) = 4.41%</p> <p>This is a real example, and shows the huge markup that some online exchange services charge &mdash; exactly why you need to watch out! In this case, the service applied a markup of 4.4% to allow you to change your cash &mdash; a hefty fee. But now that you know the math, you can quickly compare rates &mdash; and choose the service that offers the best value.</p> <h2>So What Do I Do?</h2> <p>Knowing that some currency exchange platforms are charging a big fee is one thing. More useful is knowing what to do about it, so you can knock it off the list of things you might be <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/19-things-most-tourists-overpay-for-and-how-you-can-avoid-them">overcharged for on vacation</a>. There will be a markup on the market rate, but keeping this as low as possible will mean you get more bang for your buck.</p> <p>Research is your friend, especially if you have some time to observe the rates and get a feel for what the market is doing. Currency converters available online are the best way to keep an eye on the fluctuations in rate. If you have the luxury of time, then you can wait for the rate to improve before making your exchange.</p> <p>The biggest threat to your hard-earned cash is the fact that many banks and platforms hide fees and charges in small print. So for example, a bank might claim to charge no commission &mdash; but the chances are that they adjust their rate to mean you pay over the odds for the currency. Or you might find that the package of &quot;premium&quot; perks, like having your cash delivered securely to your home, or being able to sell your spare change back to the bank, turn out to be more expensive than they are worth. Be really clear on the services you need, and you won't be tricked into thinking a package is a great deal when it is not!</p> <p><em>How do you make sure that you get the best deal possible when exchanging your cash for vacation? Let us know in the comments.</em></p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a href="//www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Fdont-get-taken-how-to-evaluate-an-exchange-rate&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2FDon%26%23x27%3Bt%20Get%20Taken-%20How%20to%20Evaluate%20an%20Exchange%20Rate_1.jpg&amp;description=Don%26%23x27%3Bt%20Get%20Taken%3A%20How%20to%20Evaluate%20an%20Exchange%20Rate" data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-config="above" data-pin-color="red" data-pin-height="28"><img src="//assets.pinterest.com/images/pidgets/pinit_fg_en_rect_red_28.png" alt="" /></a> </p> <!-- Please call pinit.js only once per page --><!-- Please call pinit.js only once per page --><script type="text/javascript" async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></p> <p style="text-align: center;">&nbsp;<img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/Don%27t%20Get%20Taken-%20How%20to%20Evaluate%20an%20Exchange%20Rate_1.jpg" width="250" height="374" alt="" /></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/claire-millard">Claire Millard</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dont-get-taken-how-to-evaluate-an-exchange-rate">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/7-ways-to-protect-yourself-from-theft-while-traveling">7 Ways to Protect Yourself From Theft While Traveling</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/11-ways-to-avoid-bank-fees-while-traveling">11 Ways to Avoid Bank Fees While Traveling</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-times-cash-is-not-king">8 Times Cash Is Not King</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/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-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/travel-and-money-using-your-debit-card-on-the-road">Travel and Money: Using Your Debit Card on the Road</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance Banking Travel abroad calculating cash currencies exchange rates fair rates money Tue, 14 Jun 2016 09:00:12 +0000 Claire Millard 1730343 at http://www.wisebread.com 15 Personal Finance Calculators Everyone Should Use http://www.wisebread.com/15-personal-finance-calculators-everyone-should-use <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/15-personal-finance-calculators-everyone-should-use" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/man_computer_floor_70059811.jpg" alt="Man using personal finance calculator everyone should use" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Personal finance is ultimately all about the numbers, and you are better off armed with calculations than making decisions based on intuition, alone. Online calculators can be great tools to analyze your options and try out &quot;what-if&quot; scenarios to help plan your financial moves. Even if you are rusty at math, personal finance calculators make it easy to type in a few basic numbers and get quantitative answers to your personal finance questions.</p> <p>Lots of great calculators are available for free. Here are some of my favorites.</p> <h2>1. Mortgage Calculator</h2> <p>Buying a house is one of the biggest expenses most people will undertake. A mortgage calculator can help you evaluate how much your monthly payments will be for a house of a given price. You can try out different financing options, too, such as 30-year mortgage versus a 15-year mortgage. The monthly payments are higher for a 15-year mortgage, but you'll pay a lot less interest. How much less? Try out a <a href="http://www.bankrate.com/calculators/mortgages/mortgage-calculator.aspx">Mortgage Calculator</a>.</p> <h2>2. Home Affordability Calculator</h2> <p>How much home can you afford to buy? Clearly you can't spend your entire paycheck on your mortgage payment, but how much is reasonable? Use a home affordability calculator to help figure out how much house you can afford based on your income and existing debts. Consider this <a href="http://money.cnn.com/calculator/real_estate/home-afford/">Home Affordability Calculator</a>.</p> <h2>3. Mortgage Refinance Calculator</h2> <p>If you have already bought a house, is it worth refinancing to get a lower interest rate? The answer depends on several factors, including how long you will keep the house and how much lower of an interest rate you can get. In some cases, you can save thousands of dollars by refinancing. Run some numbers on the mortgage refinance calculator and see if refinancing your house makes sense for you. See this one: <a href="http://www.bankrate.com/calculators/mortgages/refinance-calculator.aspx">Mortgage Refinance Calculator</a></p> <h2>4. Home Rent vs. Buy Calculator</h2> <p>It can be more convenient and less expensive to rent a house instead of buying a home. However, a home can be an asset that appreciates in value over time. How long you will stay in your house is a big factor in evaluating the rent versus buy decision. Use this calculator to help decide whether to rent or whether to buy a house: <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2016/05/25/upshot/100000002894612.mobile.html">Home Rent vs. Buy Calculator</a></p> <h2>5. Investment Growth Calculator</h2> <p>An investment calculator can bring the miracle of compound interest to life. Instead of waiting for decades to see how much your investment accounts will grow, use a calculator to find out now. Of course, no one knows how the stock market will perform in the future, but you can run likely scenarios and see how your investments would grow. This <a href="https://www.investor.gov/tools/calculators/compound-interest-calculator">Investment Growth Calculator</a> is a good place to start.</p> <h2>6. Traditional Retirement Calculator</h2> <p>The biggest question that people heading into retirement have is, &quot;How much money do I need to retire?&quot; Retirement calculators can help answer this question considering life expectancy and expenses. Here's one to play with: <a href="http://www.kiplinger.com/tool/retirement/T047-S001-retirement-savings-calculator-how-much-money-do-i/">Traditional Retirement Calculator</a></p> <h2>7. Early Retirement Calculator</h2> <p>An unusual retirement calculator is FIRECalc. This calculator analyzes the risk that you will run out of money in retirement by using past actual economic data to evaluate how the stock market could perform, ranging from great to terrible. The inputs are the value of your portfolio, how much you plan to spend each year, and the length of retirement. The output is the probability that you would run out of money and a set of plots showing how your investment would grow during retirement years under a wide variety of economic conditions. This is a great tool to use to decide if you have enough money to safely retire early: <a href="http://www.firecalc.com/">Early Retirement Calculator</a></p> <h2>8. Credit Card Calculator</h2> <p>Everyone knows it is expensive to carry credit card debt, but how much is that debt really costing you? Find out with a credit card calculator. You can learn how long it will take to pay off your credit cards based on the balance, interest rate, and your payment amount. You can also find out how much you would save on interest with a balance transfer to a lower interest card by entering your consolidated balance and new interest rate into the calculator. Here is one to try: <a href="http://www.bankrate.com/calculators/managing-debt/minimum-payment-calculator.aspx">Credit Card Calculators</a></p> <h2>9. Auto Loan Calculator</h2> <p>Whether you are buying a new or a used vehicle, you can use an auto loan calculator to calculate your payments and see the total cost of the car loan. Try out different payment terms &mdash; for example, four years versus five years, and see how much that changes the monthly payment and total cost. Find out how much car you can afford before you go car shopping: <a href="http://www.cars.com/go/advice/financing/calc/loanCalc.jsp?mode=full">Auto Loan Calculator</a></p> <h2>10. Auto Lease vs. Buy Calculator</h2> <p>You can lease the same vehicle for a significantly lower monthly payment than buying a vehicle, sometimes about half as much. However, you don't get to keep the vehicle after the lease ends. Are you better off buying a vehicle or leasing? Check out your options with a lease versus buy calculator: <a href="http://www.cars.com/go/advice/financing/calc/loanLeaseCalc.jsp?mode=full">Auto Lease vs. Buy Calculator</a></p> <h2>11. Drive vs. Fly Calculator</h2> <p>It is often a difficult decision whether to drive or fly on a trip. Driving can be less expensive than flying, but the cost of additional meals, hotel stays, and time for a driving trip can make flying the less expensive option. Use a drive versus fly calculator to make sure you are factoring in all of the expenses when making your travel plans: <a href="http://www.travelmath.com/fly-or-drive/">Drive vs. Fly Calculator</a></p> <h2>12. Student Loan Payment Calculator</h2> <p>Is borrowing $80K in student loans to get a degree that will allow you to have a six-figure salary in a few short years a good idea? Use a student loan calculator to understand how much the payments on your student loan would be to help make an informed decision. Check this one from Sallie Mae: <a href="https://www.salliemae.com/plan-for-college/college-planning-toolbox/student-loan-payment-amount-estimator/">Student Loan Payment Calculator</a></p> <h2>13. College Value Calculator</h2> <p>How much is getting a college degree worth? Use a calculator to determine how much more money you could make during your career if you went ahead and got a college degree: <a href="http://www.myfico.com/CreditEducation/Calculators/what-is-the-value-of-higher-education.aspx">College Value Calculator</a></p> <h2>14. Pay Debt vs. Invest Calculator</h2> <p>Would you be better off paying off debts first before starting to invest, or should you start investing right away? The answer depends on the interest rates on your debt and the return you expect to make on your investments or savings account. Use a calculator to check the numbers and decide where to focus any extra dollars you have available: <a href="http://www.myfico.com/crediteducation/calculators/should-i-pay-off-debt-or-invest-in-savings.aspx">Pay Debt vs. Invest Calculator</a></p> <h2>15. Cost of Living Calculator</h2> <p>If you are thinking about relocating to take a job or for retirement, check out the impact of moving on your cost of living. You can compare expense categories in your current city with other cities, and see an overall expense rating. This information is useful to determine how much more &mdash; or less &mdash; money you would need to spend to live somewhere else: <a href="http://www.bestplaces.net/cost-of-living/">Cost of Living Calculator</a></p> <p><em>What personal finance calculator is most useful for you?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dr-penny-pincher">Dr Penny Pincher</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/15-personal-finance-calculators-everyone-should-use">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-4"> <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/should-you-pay-your-mortgage-off-early">Should You Pay Your Mortgage Off Early?</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/refinance-these-4-common-debts-before-year-ends">Refinance These 4 Common Debts Before Year Ends</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/12-money-moves-to-make-the-moment-you-decide-to-retire">12 Money Moves to Make the Moment You Decide to Retire</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-happens-to-your-debt-after-you-die">What Happens to Your Debt After You Die?</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Banking calculators cost of living debt interest rates investing loans mortgages retirement student loans Thu, 09 Jun 2016 10:00:10 +0000 Dr Penny Pincher 1727205 at http://www.wisebread.com Build Savings Faster With a Multiple Account Strategy http://www.wisebread.com/build-savings-faster-with-a-multiple-account-strategy <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/build-savings-faster-with-a-multiple-account-strategy" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_saving_money_000056328212.jpg" alt="Woman building savings faster with multiple accounts" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Americans are not exactly world-class savers. According to an Associated Press survey, two-thirds of U.S. adults would have <a href="http://bigstory.ap.org/article/965e48ed609245539ed315f83e01b6a2">difficulty coming up with $1,000</a> to cover an emergency.</p> <p>If that's you, a great first step would be opening a dedicated savings account especially earmarked for emergencies. That's because mingled money leaks. When cash isn't in a separate, dedicated savings account, it tends to get spent.</p> <p>And if you really want to take your savings to the next level, open <em>three </em>accounts. At first, that may sound crazy. But there are three distinct uses for savings, and you'll find it more effective to build savings if you use a dedicated account for each one. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-best-online-savings-accounts?utm_source=wisebread&amp;utm_medium=seealso&amp;utm_campaign=article">Best Online Savings Accounts</a>)</p> <h2>1. Emergencies</h2> <p>In life, stuff happens. Unexpected stuff. Expensive stuff. For some of that, there's insurance, but for everything else, you need money in an emergency fund. Aim for building a fund that contains three to six months' worth of necessary living expenses.</p> <p>What counts as &quot;necessary?&quot; Well, imagine losing your job tomorrow. Your thoughts probably wouldn't run toward planning your next vacation. They would be focused on the essentials, such as your mortgage or rent payment, food, utilities, gasoline, and insurance. Add up how much all of your necessary expenses would cost for one month. Then multiply that figure by three and six. That's the range you're shooting for.</p> <p>The low end might be sufficient if you have relatively few movable breaking parts in your life. For example, you're single, rent an apartment, and have a fairly stable job &mdash; or at least in-demand job skills.</p> <p>If you're married, have kids, and own a home, you have much more at stake. In that situation, aim for six months' worth of essential living expenses.</p> <p>If you don't have a fully stocked emergency fund, aim for putting 10%&ndash;15% of your monthly gross income into savings each month via automatic transfer from your checking account. You'll be surprised at how quickly this adds up.</p> <h2>2. Big-Ticket Items</h2> <p>How old is your home's furnace, air conditioner, and roof? When are you likely to need to replace your car? What other expensive items will you need &mdash; or do you <em>want &mdash; </em>to buy in the next five to 10 years? It would be ideal if you could pay cash, and that calls for a big-ticket item fund. Here's how to build it.</p> <p>Once your emergency fund is built, redirect most of the money you had been depositing in emergency savings toward investing for your retirement or your kids' college, instead, and then redirect any remaining funds toward a big-ticket item savings account.</p> <p>For example, if you were putting 10% into savings, redirect 8% toward investing and 2% toward this second savings account. If you had been saving 15%, redirect 10% toward investing and 5% toward big-ticket items.</p> <h2>3. Periodic Bills and Expenses</h2> <p>Some bills and expenses need to be paid every month, such as your mortgage or rent, utilities, and groceries. Others need to be paid at <em>some</em> point each year, but not every month. Examples include a semi-annual auto insurance premium, an annual homeowner's or life insurance premium, vacations, and end-of-year holiday gifts.</p> <p>For all such periodic bills and expenses, make sure one-twelfth of the total annual amount is in your monthly budget. Transfer that amount to a dedicated savings account each month. When those expenses need to be paid, the money will be available.</p> <h2>Practical Applications</h2> <p>In our household, we use an online bank for our savings accounts. It pays a decent interest rate, but what I really like about it is it allows account holders to maintain multiple accounts and to even give them unique names.</p> <p>When I login, I can see the balance in each of <em>nine</em> savings accounts: our emergency fund, two big-ticket item funds (one for the replacement of our furnace and air conditioner, which are 17 years old, and a second one for a trip to Paris my wife and I want to take in three years), and six periodic expense accounts (our regular vacations account, four different insurance policy accounts, and our Christmas gifts account).</p> <p>They all add up to one very big benefit: peace of mind.</p> <p>Remember, mingled money leaks. To build savings for emergencies, big-ticket purchases, and periodic bills and expenses, use multiple savings accounts.</p> <p><em>Do you have more than one savings account? How do you manage them?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/matt-bell">Matt Bell</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/build-savings-faster-with-a-multiple-account-strategy">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-5"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/13-financial-gifts-to-give-yourself-this-holiday-season">13 Financial Gifts to Give Yourself This Holiday Season</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/switch-to-a-better-bank-in-5-easy-steps">Switch to a Better Bank in 5 Easy Steps</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/save-more-by-avoiding-multiple-bank-accounts">Save More by Avoiding Multiple Bank Accounts</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-types-of-savings-accounts-which-is-right-for-you">The Types of Savings Accounts: Which Is 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/7-money-fixes-you-can-make-when-youre-stuck-inside-because-of-the-weather">7 Money Fixes You Can Make When You&#039;re Stuck Inside Because of the Weather</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Banking big ticket items bills emergency funds expenses savings accounts vacations Fri, 03 Jun 2016 09:30:23 +0000 Matt Bell 1721737 at http://www.wisebread.com 4 Things You Need to Know About the Federal Reserve http://www.wisebread.com/4-things-you-need-to-know-about-the-federal-reserve <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/4-things-you-need-to-know-about-the-federal-reserve" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/000073573727.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>The mention of the Federal Reserve brings to many Americans the image of a super powerful organization in charge of keeping the economy operating smoothly. And to a certain extent that isn't too far from reality: The Fed develops and implements economic and monetary policies that affect not only U.S. citizens, but also individuals around the world.</p> <p>Let's take a closer at what is the Fed, what it does, and how those actions impact people everyday.</p> <h2>What Is the Fed?</h2> <p>Created by the U.S. Congress on December 23, 1913, the Federal Reserve System became the first formal organization to study and implement monetary policy. In other words, it is the central bank of the United States.</p> <p>Currently there are <a href="https://www.federalreserveeducation.org/about-the-fed/structure-and-functions/districts/">12 regional Federal Reserve Banks</a> located throughout the nation in major cities, including Boston, Dallas, and San Francisco. Each one of these locations serves a district formed by entire or portions of several U.S. states and territories. For example, the St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank serves the Eighth Federal Reserve District, which consists of Arkansas and portions of six other states: Missouri, Mississippi, Tennessee, Kentucky, Indiana, and Illinois.</p> <h2>Who Makes Up the Fed?</h2> <p>While the most well-known figure of the Fed is the chairman of the Board, currently <a href="https://www.federalreserve.gov/aboutthefed/bios/board/yellen.htm">Janet L. Yellen</a>, the Fed is headed by a Board of Governors. Each one of the seven members of the Board of Governors is appointed by the president and serves for a 14-year term. The board is led by a chairman and a vice chairman, both also appointed by the President but approved by the Senate for four-year terms.</p> <p>Some interesting facts about the Fed's chairmen:</p> <ul> <li>While Alan Greenspan is often thought to be the longest-serving chairman, that title goes to William M. Martin with 18 years and 9 months, from 1951 to 1970. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/3-pearls-of-financial-wisdom-from-alan-greenspan?ref=seealso">3 Pearls of Financial Wisdom From Alan Greenspan</a>)<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>The current vice chairman, <a href="https://www.federalreserve.gov/aboutthefed/bios/board/fischer.htm">Stanley Fischer</a>, is the author of many classic economic textbooks, which you may have used (or are currently using) in college.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>On February 3, 2014, Janet Yellen became the first female chair of the board of governors. She was also the first female vice chairman during her 2010&ndash;2014 appointment.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>The only former Fed chairman on social media is Ben Bernanke, who you can follow at <a href="http://twitter.com/benbernanke">@benbernanke</a> on Twitter.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>While a chairman is appointed for four years, some resign before their full term. For example, Roy Young resigned in the middle of his last four-year term.</li> </ul> <p>The Fed chairman has less unilateral power than the title might suggest. The chair counts as just one vote among the total seven votes of the board. Additionally, the chairman doesn't automatically become the chairman of the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC), which is the Fed's monetary policymaking body formed by the seven members of the board and five Reserve Bank presidents on a rotating basis. The FOMC controls the federal funds rate, the primary lever of U.S. monetary policy. The Fed chair also only counts as one vote in the FOMC.</p> <h2>What Does the Fed Do and How Does It Affect You?</h2> <p>All of the responsibilities of the Fed fall under four general areas and they all have an effect on your financial activities.</p> <h3>1. Influence money and credit conditions in the U.S. economy in pursuit of full employment and stable prices.</h3> <p>By setting the target federal funds rate, the Fed establishes a benchmark for many short-term interest rates and, consequently, influences credit conditions throughout the economy. Through open market operations (the purchase and sale of U.S. government securities), setting the discount rate (usually lower than the federal funds rate and used for short-term loans from a Federal Reserve Bank to a regular bank), and minimum reserve requirements that banks must adhere to, the Fed aims to maintain its announced target federal funds rate.</p> <p>The Fed's monetary policy affects the supply of reserves in the U.S. banking system, indirectly affecting longer term interest rates, such as mortgages, and ultimately aiming to achieve full employment and low inflation.</p> <p><strong>How It Affects You</strong>: For good reason, economists keep a close eye on the target federal funds rate. It affects all forms of credit. For example, the interest rate on 30-year mortgage loans are highly correlated to the yield of a the U.S. Treasury 10-year bond, which depends on the Fed's target rate. Another example is that banks set the interest rates on their loans and deposit accounts based on the federal funds and discount rates. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-important-things-you-need-to-know-about-the-housing-market-in-2016?ref=seealso">6 Important Things You Need to Know About the Housing Market in 2016</a>)</p> <h3>2. Supervise and regulate banks and other important financial institutions to ensure the safety of the nation's banking and financial system.</h3> <p>The Fed shares banking supervisory authority with other agencies, including the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) in the U.S. Treasury Department. All nationally chartered banks have to be members of the Federal Reserve System and are subject to on-site examinations and off-site monitoring by their assigned Federal Reserve Bank. An example of an examination is the stress test, which requires financial institutions to have enough deposits on hand to withstand potentially large losses.</p> <p><strong>How It Affects You:</strong> The Fed establishes minimum requirements for banks to have cash on hand so that you can actually withdraw your money. If there were no minimum requirements, an unscrupulous bank could hold all deposits hostage by lending them all out. At the same time, it prevents banks from closing shop for the day for not having enough cash after a very large withdrawal.</p> <h3>3. Maintain the stability of the financial system by containing systemic risk.</h3> <p>No matter how much you diversify your portfolio, you can never get rid of systemic risk &mdash; the risk of collapse on the entire financial system. The Fed seeks to minimize that systemic risk as much as possible.</p> <p>The Fed can act as a &quot;lender of last resort&quot; to provide liquidity to the banking system during emergency situations. For example, on the day after 9/11 the Reserve Banks provided loans directly to depository institutions to restore confidence in the U.S. financial system and allow those institutions to meet their short-term obligations.</p> <p>Under the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act, the Fed has authority to subject systemically important nonbank financial institutions, such as bank holding companies with over $50 billion in assets, to heightened supervisory standards.</p> <p><strong>How It Affects You:</strong> You're willing to put your money in banks and invest in the stock market because you trust that the financial system is here to stay. The Fed plays a key role in maintaining that trust by by enabling banks to make payments even in the event of emergencies and regulating activities of key financial institutions.</p> <h3>4. Provide certain financial services to the U.S. government and other major official institutions and operate the nation's payment systems.</h3> <p>The Fed distributes all bills printed by the U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing in Washington, D.C., and Fort Worth, Texas, and all coins produced by the U.S. Mints in Philadelphia and Denver to its 12 Federal Reserve Banks. In turn, these 12 banks distribute all bills and coins to depository institutions throughout the U.S. to meet public demand.</p> <p>The Fed's Automated Clearinghouse (ACH) processes about three fourths of the <a href="http://www.frbsf.org/education/teacher-resources/what-is-the-fed/payment-services">nation's electronic transactions</a>, which include direct payroll deposits, Social Security benefit payments, and tax refunds. Additionally, the Federal Reserve Banks handle a wide variety of financial transactions for U.S. agencies, including processing of food stamps and handling of postal money orders.</p> <p><strong>How It Affects You</strong>: The Fed makes sure that your payroll deposit and tax refund arrives in a timely manner to your checking account. The Federal Reserve Banks virtually touch almost any payment that you send out or any deposit that you receive through a bank.</p> <p><em>What do you think is the most important role of the Fed? </em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/damian-davila">Damian Davila</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-things-you-need-to-know-about-the-federal-reserve">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-6"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/this-is-how-much-the-feds-interest-rate-hike-might-cost-you">This Is How Much the Fed&#039;s Interest Rate Hike Might Cost You</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/3-reasons-the-fed-is-keeping-rates-low-and-what-it-means-for-you">3 Reasons the Fed Is Keeping Rates Low (And What It Means for You)</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-fed-raised-rates-then-something-weird-happened">The Fed Raised Rates — Then Something Weird Happened</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-bailbondsman-approach-part-deux-fiscal-stimulus-no-gonna-workie">The Bailbondsman Approach Part Deux: Fiscal Stimulus No Gonna Workie</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-rebuild-your-credit-in-8-simple-steps">How to Rebuild Your Credit in 8 Simple Steps</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Banking alan greenspan americans Ben Bernanke credit federal reserve janet yellen stanley fischer the fed u.s. economy Wed, 25 May 2016 09:00:09 +0000 Damian Davila 1717155 at http://www.wisebread.com 5 Ways to Live Bank-Free http://www.wisebread.com/5-ways-to-live-bank-free <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5-ways-to-live-bank-free" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_wallet_cash_000090076819.jpg" alt="Woman finding ways to live bank-free" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Bounced checks. Confusing marketing. Unexplained fees. These issues and more contributed to a 5% increase in the number of <a href="http://files.consumerfinance.gov/f/201604_cfpb_consumer-response-annual-report-2015.pdf">complaints filed against banks</a> last year by checking and savings account holders. Alas, many consider the woes of banking a necessary evil. But others are reacting by taking their money matters into their own hands. Case in point: One in 12 Americans doesn't have a bank account, a trend that experts say is <a href="http://money.cnn.com/2012/09/12/pf/fdic-bank-accounts/">on the rise</a>. How do they do it?</p> <h2>1. Use a Prepaid Debit Card to Make Everyday Purchases</h2> <p>It's detached from any bank account, you can conveniently add or withdraw money from it at the ATM, and you can use it to make purchases, online and in person, wherever traditional debit cards are accepted. Perhaps now you see why <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-best-prepaid-debit-cards?utm_source=wisebread&amp;utm_medium=internal&amp;utm_campaign=banking">prepaid debit cards</a> have become so popular, particularly among Americans without banking accounts. Use your prepaid card like you would any debit card. It's ideal for everyday purchases. And in some cases, employers can deposit your wages to a prepaid card account.</p> <p>Bonus: Since you can only spend up to the amount of money that's on the card, there's no risk of getting hit with an overdraft fee. You simply can't spend more than you've got loaded onto the card.</p> <h2>2. Pay Your Bills With Non-Bank Money Orders</h2> <p>When the prepaid debit card fails you, money orders offer the next best &mdash; and secure &mdash; means of bill payment. A money order lets you send money just like a personal check and typically costs less than a dollar per transaction. And, like a check, this prepaid payment method can be tracked and canceled if stolen. You can also receive funds via money order. And since it's prepaid, there's no need to have a checking account to use one.</p> <h2>3. Avoid Money Wiring Services</h2> <p>Simply put, it's expensive. The average fee for an incoming domestic wire at the 10 largest credit unions is almost $5, compared to $15 at banks &mdash; while outgoing domestic wire transfers cost more than $17, compared to about $26 at banks.</p> <h2>4. Sign Up for PayPal to Facilitate Peer-to-Peer Payments</h2> <p>Popular among those who have ditched the bank, PayPal allows its users to make quick and easy payments to businesses, colleagues, and friends through its online account system. PayPal also lets registered users opt for &quot;bill me later,&quot; an option that delays payment &mdash; much like a credit card.</p> <h2>5. Get a Fire-Proof Safe</h2> <p>While you can load all of your funds onto prepaid debit cards, chances are that you're going to have some extra cash you'll want to stow away. Without a bank to keep watch over your hard-earned cash, you'll be smart to invest in a fire-proof safe. Install your safe in a secure location within your home. That means somewhere out of plain sight. Share the lock combination only with those who absolutely need to know it. And don't advertise how much money you keep inside of it.</p> <p><em>Are you bank-free? How do you manage it?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/brittany-lyte">Brittany Lyte</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-ways-to-live-bank-free">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-7"> <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-i-still-write-paper-checks">Why I Still Write Paper Checks</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/12-annoying-bank-fees-and-how-to-avoid-them">12 Annoying Bank Fees and How to Avoid Them</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/11-ways-to-avoid-bank-fees-while-traveling">11 Ways to Avoid Bank Fees While Traveling</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/chexsystems-what-it-is-and-how-it-can-make-it-difficult-for-you-to-open-a-bank-account">ChexSystems: What It Is, and How It Can Make It Difficult for You to Open a Bank Account</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/why-i-like-big-banks">Why I Like Big Banks</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Banking atms bank accounts bank-free money orders paypal prepaid debit cards safes wire transfers Thu, 19 May 2016 09:30:28 +0000 Brittany Lyte 1712217 at http://www.wisebread.com 6 Reasons You Should Still Go to the Bank http://www.wisebread.com/6-reasons-you-should-still-go-to-the-bank <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/6-reasons-you-should-still-go-to-the-bank" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_working_professional_000051525584.jpg" alt="Woman finding reasons to still go to the bank" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Did your bank close your local branch? It wouldn't be surprising. According to a report from SNL Financial, banks closed 1,614 U.S. branches in 2015. JPMorgan Chase &amp; Co. led the way, closing 195 branches, while PNC closed 94 and Bank of America Corp. 88 last year.</p> <p>The reasons are obvious: Most customers rarely need to enter a bank branch. Employees' paychecks are often direct-deposited to their banks. Customers today make deposits through their smartphones. And they pay their bills online.</p> <p>But that doesn't mean there aren't times when actually visiting a bank in person makes sense. When should you tuck away your smartphone and step into your local branch?</p> <h2>1. You're Applying for a Mortgage</h2> <p>Sure, you can <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-credit-mistakes-that-could-hurt-your-mortgage-application" target="_blank">apply for a mortgage</a> online with many financial institutions. And you don't have to even take out a mortgage with your local branch. But if you like your bank, you might want to at least talk to a loan officer at your local branch about a mortgage.</p> <p>A mortgage is a big financial commitment. Sometimes you want to talk to a financial professional in person for advice and recommendations. Again, you don't have to turn to your local bank for this advice; you can work with any mortgage lender licensed to do business in your state. But your bank might offer competitive rates and lower closing costs. You won't know until you contact them.</p> <h2>2. You're Ready to Buy a Car</h2> <p>It's good financial sense to have financing in place before you shop for a new car. You might still take the financing offered by your auto dealer, but coming into the dealership pre-approved for an auto loan provides you with a back-up if you don't like your dealer's terms. It might also save you money; dealers might lower your interest rate to persuade you to take out a loan with them instead of with a different financial institution.</p> <p>Your bank certainly offers auto loans. If the rate it is offering is a good one, it might make sense to visit your local branch to talk through your auto-financing options.</p> <h2>3. You Need a Money Order</h2> <p>It's true that you can get a money order from several outlets, including credit unions, the U.S. Post Office, and many retailers. But you can also get them from your local bank branch. And if your branch is conveniently located, charges reasonable fees and is likely to be less crowded, why not get a money order from there?</p> <h2>4. You Need a Notary</h2> <p>Finding a notary is hardly a challenging task these days: Your local public library might even have one on staff. The odds are high, too, that your local bank branch offers a notary service. Most won't even charge to have a notary sign your documents. Again, if your bank is located a short drive from your home and is likely to offer quick service, visiting your branch for the services of a notary public could save you time.</p> <h2>5. You Need a Specific Type of Change</h2> <p>Maybe you're holding a yard sale and you need tons of singles. A good place to get change in specific denominations? Your local bank. Banks are happy to turn your large bills into smaller ones. And your teller won't flinch no matter how specific you get with how many $1s, $5s and $10s you need.</p> <h2>6. You're Ready to Empty That Coffee Can of Pennies</h2> <p>Got a jug stuffed with pennies, dimes, and nickels at home? Your bank will be happy to convert that change to dollars. Yes, you can go to your nearest Coinstar machine to do the same thing. But Coinstar charges a fee. Your local bank branch, if you are a customer, might not.</p> <p><em>Do you still pay regular visits to your bank?</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/6-reasons-you-should-still-go-to-the-bank">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-8"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/best-ways-to-count-and-cash-in-your-change">Best Ways to Count (and Cash in) Your Change</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/six-options-if-youre-underwater-on-your-mortgage">6 Options if You&#039;re Underwater on Your Mortgage</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-surprising-things-lenders-check-besides-your-credit-score">4 Surprising Things Lenders Check Besides Your Credit Score</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/refinance-these-4-common-debts-before-year-ends">Refinance These 4 Common Debts Before Year Ends</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/why-you-should-consider-an-adjustable-rate-mortgage">Why You Should Consider an Adjustable-Rate Mortgage</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Banking car loans change coins going to the bank money order mortgages notary Fri, 06 May 2016 10:00:06 +0000 Dan Rafter 1703946 at http://www.wisebread.com 6 Free Debt Management Tools http://www.wisebread.com/6-free-debt-management-tools <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/6-free-debt-management-tools" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_using_smartphone_000040508552.jpg" alt="Woman using free debt management tools" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>The average American looks at his or her phone <a href="http://time.com/4147614/smartphone-usage-us-2015/">46 times every day</a>.</p> <p>That number is even higher among U.S. Millennials: individuals in the 18&ndash;24 age bracket and the 25&ndash;34 age bracket check their mobile devices 74 and 50 times per day, respectively. With all this time spent on their smartphones, Americans can leverage their devices to improve their personal finances at no extra cost. Additionally, there are some key tools that allow you to corroborate the data that you gather from those apps.</p> <p>Here are six free smartphone apps or tools to track debt management.</p> <h2>1. ReadyForZero</h2> <p>Since 2011, ReadyForZero has helped individuals to track their debts and pay down those debts. Available for <a href="https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/readyforzero-pay-off-debt/id524834938?mt=8&amp;uo=4">Apple</a> and <a href="https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.readyforzero">Android</a> devices, this app enables you to link all of your debts, including student loans, credit cards, and mortgages, to create a personalized payoff plan and track your progress. Once you have connected all of your accounts, you'll be able to keep tabs on how much you have paid off and how much you still have remaining.</p> <p>The nicest feature about ReadyForZero is the immediate gratification of tracking your daily and monthly progress, including the interest that you save over time. ReadyForZero partners with TransUnion to provide you with free access to your&nbsp;<a href="http://thescore.vantagescore.com/article/98">VantageScore&reg; 3.0</a> credit score.</p> <h2>2. Mint: Money Manager, Budget, and Personal Finance</h2> <p>On top of helping you track your debts, the Mint app enables you to gather all of your financial information into one place. Besides your debt accounts, you can connect your bank and investment accounts to get a full snapshot of your financial standing at all times.</p> <p>The main draw of Mint is its budget feature, which allows you to create monthly budgets and track how much you have left for each category, such as gas, groceries, and education. If you provide your social security number, the app allows you to track your credit score with Equifax. The app is available for <a href="http://www.amazon.com/Intuit-Mint-com-Personal-Finance/dp/B004T2P7MQ">Amazon</a>, <a href="https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/mint-personal-finance/id300238550?mt=8">Apple</a> (designed for iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch), and <a href="https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.mint&amp;hl=en">Android</a> devices.</p> <h2>3. Prosper Daily</h2> <p>Formerly known as BillGuard, the Prosper Daily app is an alternative to Mint. Besides tracking your spending and credit, Prosper Daily focuses on protecting your credit cards against fraud and unfair charges. For example, the app can use location-based technology to alert you when your credit or debit card is used at a store or AMT when you're not there. If you provide your social security number, the app allows you to track your credit score with TransUnion. Prosper Daily is available for <a href="https://itunes.apple.com/app/id602710567?mt=8">Apple</a> and <a href="https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.billguard.android&amp;hl=en">Android</a> devices.</p> <h2>4. AnnualCreditReport.com</h2> <p>No matter what app you use to track your debt and credit score, you should corroborate that data against your official credit report once a year. Through <a href="http://www.annualcreditreport.com/">AnnualCreditReport.com</a>, you can request your free credit report every 12 months from each credit reporting company (Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax). This report allows you to verify that you only have accounts and loans that you recognize on file.</p> <p>Since your credit report may affect your mortgage rates, credit card approvals, credit scores, and apartment requests, you should be on the lookout for potential inconsistencies, such as accounts that you didn't open, addresses of employers that you didn't work for, or information that should no longer be on your credit report, such as an over 10-year old bankruptcy.</p> <p>If you find an error, you can dispute it by reporting it to the credit reporting bureaus online, by mail, or by phone.</p> <p>Keep copies of your initial dispute letter and supporting documents, and communications with the credit reporting bureaus.</p> <h2>5. Compound Interest Calculator</h2> <p>When you're trying to pay down debt faster, you want to maximize how much interest you're gaining so that you can make additional payments towards your debts whenever possible. This <a href="http://www.thecalculatorsite.com/finance/calculators/compoundinterestcalculator.php">compound interest calculator</a> allows you to work out the compound interest on your savings and investments, including a breakdown of monthly interest gains and the option to list regular monthly deposits or withdrawals.</p> <h2>6. Check Deposit App From Your Bank</h2> <p>Many Americans opt to have their bi-weekly or monthly salary checks directly deposited to their checking or saving accounts. However, every now and then you may receive an additional paper check, such as a dividend payout from an investment account, a lucky windfall from your aunty for your birthday, or a check from a class action.</p> <p>In those instances, you could skip the trip to the bank by using the mobile deposit app from your bank to deposit checks in your account. For example, my credit union allows me to make deposits directly into my checking, saving, or money market accounts using a &quot;check snap&quot; mobile deposit account. Such an app is useful to save time making deposits and helps boost monthly payments to your financial obligations. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-good-reasons-to-choose-a-credit-union-instead-of-a-bank?ref=seealso">9 Good Reasons to Choose a Credit Union Instead of a Bank</a>)</p> <p>Make sure to check applicable rules, such as signing the back of your check and writing a disclaimer that check is for mobile deposit only, technical requirements, and processing times.</p> <p><em>What are other free apps or software to track debt management?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/damian-davila">Damian Davila</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-free-debt-management-tools">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-9"> <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-apps-that-make-budgeting-fun-no-really">7 Apps That Make Budgeting Fun — No Really!</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-apps-that-actually-pay-you-to-shop">8 Apps That Actually Pay You to Shop</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-best-tools-for-finding-an-apartment-on-the-cheap">10 Best Tools for Finding an Apartment on the Cheap</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-10-best-couponing-apps">The 10 Best Couponing Apps</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-5-millennial-money-apps-everyone-should-use">The 5 Millennial Money Apps Everyone Should Use</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Banking Technology apps calculators debt tracking mobile deposit money management smartphones websites Tue, 26 Apr 2016 10:00:13 +0000 Damian Davila 1696223 at http://www.wisebread.com