Banking http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/800/all en-US 9 Ways to Avoid Overdraft Charges http://www.wisebread.com/9-ways-to-avoid-overdraft-charges <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/9-ways-to-avoid-overdraft-charges" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/man_smartphone_city_000051110530.jpg" alt="Man finding ways to avoid bank overdraft charges" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>I would venture to guess that mine was the last generation that was taught how to balance a checkbook. (I remember a Junior Achievement course in the 8th grade, circa 1995, that provided me the skills to keep my cash flow in the black.) But there's something to be said for the ease and convenience of mobile banking.</p> <p>With that ease, however, comes errors &mdash; sometimes multiple errors &mdash; in the form of overdraft fees because we've overspent without knowing it. Keep those unnecessary expenses in check with these ways to avoid <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/charged-with-an-overdraft-fee-get-your-money-back">overdraft fees</a>.</p> <h2>1. Get Familiar With Your Bank's Policies</h2> <p>Before you choose a bank, it's important to familiarize yourself with its policies. Not all banks are alike, after all. Some banks offer overdraft protection, while some offer no-fee transfers from savings to checking. All banks have fine print that you should absolutely read. Going into a financial situation educated will help you cut back on costly mistakes that can be easily avoided.</p> <h2>2. Use Mobile Banking to Track Spending</h2> <p>If you're one of the few people in America who still use paper checks as a primary source of payment, thus constituting the balancing of a checkbook, I should introduce you to my grandmother &mdash; because I think you'll have lots in common.</p> <p>But if you prefer to be part of the majority who live in the 21st century, it's wise to keep track of your finances via mobile banking. Most banks have apps that you can download to your phone to keep track of your finances anytime, anywhere. There are lots of cool features as well, like the ability to transfer between accounts and deposit checks with a few taps and photo image. The latter is a godsend for me as a small business owner, since I no longer have to take time out of my day to deposit checks at a banking brick-and-mortar.</p> <h2>3. Login Daily to Monitor Your Balance and Transactions</h2> <p>What's the first thing you do when you wake up? When you asked this question in the 1980s, the answer was usually &quot;Go to the bathroom.&quot; Fast-forward 30 years and that answer is altogether different &mdash; for me, at least. The first thing I do in the morning is check my social media and bank accounts.</p> <p>Because before I start my day, I want to make sure that 1,500 strangers still like me, and none of them have robbed me blind. Logging in everyday reminds me to check for erroneous charges, allows me make a mental note on recent charges that may not have posted yet, and informs me on whether I can afford to go out to lunch or I should reign in the spending a bit &mdash; all of which help me avoid overdraft fees.</p> <h2>4. Get Alerts When Your Account Dips Below a Certain Threshold</h2> <p>When researching the ins and outs of your banking institution &mdash; particularly the checking account services it offers &mdash; look for information regarding text or e-mail alerts that notify you when your account dips below a certain threshold. For instance, I have alerts set at $100. If I make transactions that cause my account to go below $100, I'll receive an alert that serves as a warning to stop spending immediately and build my account back up.</p> <h2>5. Transfer Funds Immediately</h2> <p>If you think you've perhaps made more purchases than you have money, transfer those additional funds from your savings to your checking account immediately. I don't recommend dipping into your savings often (it defeats the purpose), but you should deal with the issue at hand first, which is avoiding overdraft fees. It's also wise to bank at an institution that offers no-fee transfers when you're in a bind. Sustaining a hit to avoid a hit is sure to put a kink in your day.</p> <h2>6. Ask to Have Overdraft Fees Waived</h2> <p>Pull a page from my playbook and call your bank if you feel like you deserve a pass on an overdraft fee. If it's been awhile since you've made that mistake, or if you've been a loyal customer to the bank for many years, it's worth the effort. In most cases, the bank will work with you to eliminate the fee on a one-time basis.</p> <h2>7. Opt Out of Overdraft Protection</h2> <p>Overdraft protection is good on one hand because it lessens the fee you pay if you overdraw the account &mdash; usually a $10 fee instead of $25 or $35. On the flip side, overdraft protection will allow you to continue to make purchases for which you don't have the money. This is an especially unfortunate consequence if you're not aware that you're overdrawn and you continue making multiple purchases. You'll rack up a fee for every single transaction, which, by the time they've all posted, could become a significant amount.</p> <h2>8. Don't Use the Credit Option on Your Debit Card</h2> <p>Back in the early days of debit cards, my bank would charge me a nominal fee for each purchase when using it as a debit card, kind of like a competing ATM does. Made absolutely no sense to me, but because of that I started using the credit option when making purchases, which had no fees attached. Nowadays, debit charges are fee-free, so I try to remember to push the purchases through using that method, for one reason: Debit transactions post immediately, whereas credit transaction could take a few days to post. The former will help you stay on top of your financial situation in real-time while the latter could have you overdrawing your account unknowingly.</p> <h2>9. Keep X Amount of Dollars in Your Checking Account at All Times</h2> <p>The best way to avoid overdraft fees is to keep your bank account in the black at all times. To help ensure that you don't go into the red, choose a self-imposed amount at which you'll always keep your account &mdash; $100, for instance. If you mentally make it standard policy that your account consistently has at least $100 in it, you'll rarely overdraw, if at all.</p> <p><em>Do you have other suggestions on how to avoid bank overdraft fees? Let me know in the comments below.</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/mikey-rox">Mikey Rox</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-ways-to-avoid-overdraft-charges">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/charged-with-an-overdraft-fee-get-your-money-back">Charged With an Overdraft Fee? Get Your Money Back!</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-smart-things-to-do-with-your-bonus">6 Smart Things to Do With Your Bonus</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/are-you-paying-these-6-unfair-banking-fees">Are You Paying These 6 Unfair Banking Fees?</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-simple-ways-to-safeguard-against-bank-bullying">6 Simple Ways to Safeguard Against Bank Bullying</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/avoid-bank-fees">Avoid Bank Fees</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Banking apps mobile banking overdraft fees savings spending Fri, 15 May 2015 09:00:14 +0000 Mikey Rox 1416668 at http://www.wisebread.com 5 Dangers of Mobile Banking — And How to Avoid Them http://www.wisebread.com/5-dangers-of-mobile-banking-and-how-to-avoid-them <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5-dangers-of-mobile-banking-and-how-to-avoid-them" 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_000039409614_0.jpg" alt="Woman using her phone to manage mobile banking" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Managing your money has never been so easy. With the rise of mobile banking, paying your bills and checking your balance can be as simple as posting a photo to your Instagram feed. But there's a price to pay for the convenience of depositing checks from anywhere in the world with a simple click of your mobile camera. That price is the increased risk that your private data and access to your accounts could fall into the wrong hands.</p> <p>Banking fraud expert Julie Conroy warns, &quot;as additional people flock to the mobile channel and transactions multiply, the bad guys are paying attention and <a href="http://money.usnews.com/money/personal-finance/slideshows/10-dangers-of-mobile-banking">deploying more attacks</a> against it.&quot;</p> <p>The best way to protect yourself, of course, is to know the risks. Read on for our guide to the dangers of mobile banking and foolproof tips on how to avoid them.</p> <h2>1. Wireless Networks Are Hacker-Friendly</h2> <p>Unlike websites, mobile apps don't <a href="http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0014-tips-using-public-wi-fi-networks#Mobile">properly encrypt information</a>, which means it's not a good idea to access your bank account via mobile app when you're on a public or otherwise unsecured Wi-Fi network. As computer science expert Ron Vetter explains, &quot;mobile banking apps are connected to wireless networks, and these networks are inherently insecure as they broadcast their messages into the open air.&quot;</p> <p>If you plan to use a mobile app to conduct a sensitive transaction, you're better off using a secure wireless network or your phone's data network. This will help reduce the risk of your private information being intercepted by a hacker or some other third party.</p> <h2>2. Poor Reception Means Poor Security</h2> <p>Even if you're diligent in accessing your mobile banking app on your phone's data network rather than a wireless network, the security of your financial information could still be at risk if your 4G or 3G data drops into a lower service range. Poor reception invites the chance that the data contained in your banking transaction could misfire and be intercepted by an unauthorized third party.</p> <h2>3. There's More at Stake If You Lose Your Phone</h2> <p>Studies show that nearly 40% of smartphone owners don't <a href="http://www.federalreserve.gov/econresdata/consumers-and-mobile-financial-services-report-201403.pdf">password protect</a> their devices. If any of those folks were to lose their phone, anyone could pick it up, log into their banking app, and access their money. Even if you do password protect your phone, you could still be putting yourself at risk by auto-saving your password. For optimal security, select &quot;no&quot; when any of your apps ask to remember your username and password. You can further help protect yourself from fraudsters who gain access to your phone by installing a remote-wiping application that allows you to <a href="http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2352755,00.asp">erase your phone's data</a> even when the device isn't physically in your possession.</p> <h2>4. You May Not Be Able to Access Newly Deposited Funds Right Away</h2> <p>Although you can deposit funds into your account instantly via a mobile banking app, there may be a longer lag than normal until you can access those funds.</p> <p>&quot;In many cases, [banks] will protect themselves against fraud by increasing the delay in the availability of funds, as compared to if you'd just deposit that check in an ATM or branch,&quot; Conroy says.</p> <h2>5. Fraudulent Apps May Deceive You</h2> <p>Mobile apps can cost you &mdash; even the free ones. <a href="http://securitywatch.pcmag.com/mobile-security/317083-mobile-threat-monday-malicious-banking-apps-and-crafty-copycats">Fraudulent apps</a> posing as your official banking institution are lurking throughout the app store, and if you unknowingly start using one, the app creators can access &mdash; and abuse &mdash; your private information. Download your app directly from your bank's website to avoid this scam. And if you use Android, set your security settings to abort installations from sources other than Google Play.</p> <p><em>Has your mobile banking security ever been compromised? How did you recover?</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-dangers-of-mobile-banking-and-how-to-avoid-them">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/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/citimortage-told-me-to-default-on-my-loan-if-i-want-their-help">CitiMortgage Told Me to Default on My Loan</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/making-direct-deposit-safe-for-the-garnished">Making direct deposit safe for the garnished</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/that-sneaky-bank-almost-got-me">That Sneaky Bank Almost Got Me</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/my-bank-stole-my-grocery-money">My Bank Stole My Grocery Money</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Banking Consumer Affairs data mobile apps mobile safety networks security wi-fi Fri, 27 Mar 2015 17:00:08 +0000 Brittany Lyte 1359338 at http://www.wisebread.com 6 Smart Things to Do With Your Bonus http://www.wisebread.com/6-smart-things-to-do-with-your-bonus <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/6-smart-things-to-do-with-your-bonus" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/young_couple_financial_advisor_000020064711.jpg" alt="Young couple meeting with financial consultant" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>&quot;The windfall of great riches can, if mismanaged, make things worse, not better, for the recipients,&quot; said American author and professor Michael Mandelbaum.</p> <p>But you don't need a college degree to know that extra cash shouldn't be spent frivolously &mdash; that part is easy. The hard part is actually figuring out what exactly qualifies as a good way to use a small windfall. Here are six simple &mdash; and most importantly, <em>smart</em> &mdash; things to do with your bonus or commission check.</p> <h2>1. Build an Emergency Fund</h2> <p>One in four Americans has no emergency savings. If you're guilty as charged, then use your bonus check to set up your emergency fund <em>stat</em>. A good rule of thumb is that your emergency stash should cover six months of living expenses.</p> <p>When calculating your monthly expenses, go beyond just your mortgage or rent payment and include important recurring payments such as groceries, utilities, and minimum debt payments. If the final number shocks you, take that as a wake-up call about how important it is to have your emergency fund in place.</p> <h2>2. Pay Off High Interest Debt</h2> <p>By only paying the minimum on your maxed out credit cards, you're shelling out way more than you should.</p> <p>Let's assume that you have balance of about $2,461 on your credit card with an APR of 12.24%. If you make no additional charges, and each month you only pay the required minimum of $50, you will pay off the balance in &mdash; get this &mdash; 17 very long years! Even worse, you'll end up paying a total of $4,753, or nearly twice what you originally owed!</p> <p>Be smart and pay off those high interest credit cards <em>pronto</em>. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/when-to-do-a-balance-transfer-to-pay-off-credit-card-debt?ref=seealso">When to Do a Balance Transfer to Pay Off Credit Card Debt</a>)</p> <h2>3. Max Out Contributions to Retirement Accounts</h2> <p>In 2014, workers and their employers averaged $9,670 in 401(k) contributions. While this number may seem impressive, keep in mind that the contribution limit in 2014 was $17,500.</p> <p>There is still a lot of room for improvement in our nest eggs. This year, there is even more. In 2015, the IRS bumped up the <a href="http://www.irs.gov/Retirement-Plans/Plan-Participant,-Employee/Retirement-Topics-401k-and-Profit-Sharing-Plan-Contribution-Limits">contribution limit</a> for 401(k) and profit-sharing plans to $18,000. For those age 50 and over, you are permitted to make an additional catch-up contribution of $6,000 to traditional and safe harbor 401(k) plans, and $3,000 to solo 401(k) plans. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-dumb-401k-mistakes-smart-people-make?ref=seealso">5 Dumb 401(k) Mistakes Smart People Make</a>)</p> <p>Making out your contribution to your retirement accounts is also a great way to defer income taxes until retirement, when you're more likely to be in a lower tax bracket.</p> <h2>4. Start Saving for College</h2> <p>Data from the U.S. Department of Labor shows that workers with four-year college degrees have an hourly rate earning 98% higher than people without a degree. The same data shows that the gap is continuously increasing over time.</p> <p>This means that saving up for your, or your kids', college education is a smart thing to do with your commission check. A good way to save for college is via a <a href="http://www.savingforcollege.com/529_plan_details/">529 college-saving plan</a>, because in 34 states and the District of Columbia, you can receive a state income tax deduction for your contribution.</p> <p>To make sure that your higher education investment pays off, double check the market value of your or your child's college diploma. Some <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-college-degrees-not-worth-the-money">degrees aren't worth their cost</a>.</p> <h2>5. Get Better Banking Options</h2> <p>Your lucky windfall could unlock some better banking opportunities.</p> <ul> <li>By maintaining a larger account balance, you could qualify for a better interest rate. For example, my credit union currently offers an annual percentage yield of 0.20% for balances below $25,000, 0.25% for balances between $25,000 and $99,999, and 0.30% for balances over $100,000.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Depending on your financial situation, you may not have access to free checking accounts. Make use of your bonus to pad your checking account and meet the minimum threshold for avoiding any fees.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Determine if your bank can offer you a better deal with a larger account balance. If your bank can't provide you one, it's time to shop around for a better financial situation. (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>)</li> </ul> <h2>6. Prepare for Taxes Next Year</h2> <p>Last but not least, it can be wise to start preparing for next year's tax season<em> now</em>.</p> <ul> <li>Your year-end bonus may put you in a higher tax bracket this year. Ask your employer if he or she can defer your bonus (or at least a portion of it) in order to lower your tax bill this year.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Keep in mind that most employers opt to slap a standard <a href="https://turbotax.intuit.com/tax-tools/tax-tips/General-Tax-Tips/What-is-the-Federal-Supplemental-Tax-Rate-/INF19305.html">25% withholding rate</a> (39.6% for amounts over $1 million) on bonuses and commissions. If your usual tax rate is far below that 25%, then you may already have paid enough in taxes this year. You'll need to adjust your W-4 form to decrease how much is withheld for taxes for the rest of 2015.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Ask your human resources department which withholding option works best for you. Besides the standard withholding rate, the IRS allows employers to treat the bonus as regular compensation or take additional taxes only from the bonus check.</li> </ul> <p>Every year, 75% of U.S. taxpayers withhold too much tax. Don't become one of them and plan ahead. You want to enjoy as much as possible from that well-deserved bonus or commission check.</p> <p><em>What are you planning to do with your bonus or commission this year?</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-smart-things-to-do-with-your-bonus">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/is-your-personality-sabotaging-your-saving">Is Your Personality Sabotaging Your Saving?</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-inspiring-people-who-each-paid-off-over-100000-in-debt">5 Inspiring People Who Each Paid Off Over $100,000 in Debt</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-ways-to-avoid-overdraft-charges">9 Ways to Avoid Overdraft Charges</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/credit-cards-vs-debit-cards-a-comprehensive-comparison">Credit Cards vs. Debit Cards: A Comprehensive Comparison</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/when-to-use-savings-to-pay-off-debt">When to Use Savings to Pay Off Debt</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Career and Income Banking Debt Management bonus check savings smart spendings windfall Wed, 18 Mar 2015 15:00:15 +0000 Damian Davila 1345313 at http://www.wisebread.com 6 Times When It's Okay to Take a Loan http://www.wisebread.com/6-times-when-its-okay-to-take-a-loan <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/6-times-when-its-okay-to-take-a-loan" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/couple-contract-financial-consultant-loan-iStock_000051526142_Large.jpg" alt="couple financial advisor" title="couple financial advisor" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Loans are a tricky subject in the financial world, because ideally, you'd never really need one. In the real world, however, plenty of responsible people find themselves needing loans for legitimate reasons. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-times-you-should-never-take-a-loan?ref=seealso">6 Times You Should Never Take a Loan</a>)</p> <p>Whether it's an unplanned financial emergency or a necessary, major purchase, there are some situations when taking out a loan can't be avoided. Read on to understand when a new loan is actually okay.</p> <h2>1. When You Can Easily Afford the Payments</h2> <p>This might seem like a no-brainer, but when people are desperate they will sometimes assume loans with large payments they couldn't possibly afford. Before you take out any loan, create a realistic budget that includes the payment. If you can't afford it, you should probably reconsider the loan.</p> <p>Don't fall into the temptation of telling yourself that you will find <em>some way</em> to make ends meet. Instead, take care of securing any realistic extra income sources <em>before</em> you sign on the dotted line. Get a second job, line up freelance work, start selling stuff on eBay, or do whatever else you need in order to make loan repayment affordable. Just do it before you get the loan &mdash; otherwise, you're just creating more financial stress for yourself. And isn't that what the loan was supposed to solve?</p> <h2>2. When Your Purchase is Essential</h2> <p>Loans are never a good idea when you're using them to finance a lifestyle that is beyond your means. If, however, you find yourself in a place where you absolutely must have something <em>essential</em> (no, a remodeled kitchen or a tropical vacation are not essentials), and you can't afford it, a loan might be a good idea.</p> <p>Again, I'm talking basic essentials here. If you have to drive to work, you must have a functioning vehicle. If you live in a cold climate, you need a working furnace. Most of the time, these aren't purchases that can wait until you've saved the funds, and so a loan might be necessary.</p> <h2>3. When You Have Good Credit</h2> <p>If you have good credit (above a 720), you will most likely be eligible for lower interest rates on your loans. This means that you will pay less over the life of the loan and that your individual payments will be lower than they would be if your credit were poorer. And having good credit is, in itself, an indicator that you're probably capable of managing your debt effectively.</p> <p>Having good credit makes loans a lot more affordable. But once again, make sure you can make those payments! Otherwise, you'll ruin that solid credit score.</p> <h2>4. When Interest Payments Are Less Than Your Investment Returns</h2> <p>Many investors think that they should use money from their investments to make major purchases before considering a loan. While this is sometimes true, it's also possible that it'll be better financially to leave your investments untouched and get a loan to cover the purchase instead. As an example, if your portfolio generates 10% annual returns, but a loan's interest rate would be only 4%, then it doesn't make sense to lose that extra 6% in returns that your portfolio's funds are generating.</p> <p>If the rate on the loan is lower than your rate of return <em>and</em> you can make the loan payments, take the loan and keep your money invested. On the other hand, monies from your portfolio might be a smart source of cash for re-paying very high interest loans, such as credit cards. Never touch your emergency fund, though &mdash; that's the money you'll need for true emergencies, and unless you're facing bankruptcy or legal action, high interest debt isn't quite a <em>true</em> emergency that warrants depleting your safety net.</p> <h2>5. When You Can Pay it Off Early</h2> <p>Sometimes you know there's money coming in, but you just don't have it yet. If you need to make a major purchase before that money arrives, you can take out a loan and repay it as soon as the funds hit your bank account.</p> <p>But if you're taking this approach, be sure that your loan doesn't have any prepayment penalties. This strategy can work well for people who get large bonus or commission checks on a quarterly or yearly basis, so long as you don't overestimate your actual earnings.</p> <h2>6. When You Qualify for a &quot;Special&quot; Loan</h2> <p>There are a lot of &quot;special&quot; loans on the market, most offered by different government programs for things such as home-buying, education, or energy-efficiency retrofitting. These loans typically offer very favorable repayment terms which often make them worthwhile.</p> <p>For example, <a href="http://www.fha.com/fha_loan_requirements">FHA loans</a>, <a href="http://www.benefits.va.gov/homeloans/purchaseco_eligibility.asp">VA loans</a>, and even <a href="http://time.com/money/2929695/home-loan-usda-credit-rural-development/">USDA loans</a> can help people buy homes who might not have qualified otherwise. My husband and I bought our house last year using his VA loan, which saved us tons of money on the up-front costs. Without it, we'd have been hard-pressed to afford the house.</p> <p>Taking out a loan is something that a financially responsible person might never want to do. However, sometimes loans are necessary to meet our larger goals and, in the above cases, they may not be such a bad idea.</p> <p><em>What have you bought with money from a loan? Do you think that getting the loan was worth it?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/sarah-winfrey">Sarah Winfrey</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-times-when-its-okay-to-take-a-loan">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/7-ways-paying-off-student-loans-early-can-boost-your-finances">7 Ways Paying Off Student Loans Early Can Boost Your Finances</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/co-signing-for-a-loan-4-things-to-consider-first">Co-Signing for a Loan: 4 Things to Consider First</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/stop-is-that-loan-too-big-for-your-wallet">Stop! Is That Loan Too Big For Your Wallet?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-loan-options-for-those-with-good-credit">5 Loan Options for Those With Good Credit</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/best-of-personal-finance-credit-where-credit-is-due-edition">Best of Personal Finance: Credit Where Credit Is Due Edition</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Banking Debt Management big purchases borrowing finances loans Wed, 11 Mar 2015 13:00:09 +0000 Sarah Winfrey 1333072 at http://www.wisebread.com 6 Times You Should Never Take a Loan http://www.wisebread.com/6-times-you-should-never-take-a-loan <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/6-times-you-should-never-take-a-loan" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/couple_finances_000054083718.jpg" alt="Couple considering whether or not to take a loan" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Banks create loans everyday, but this doesn't mean you should apply for one without fully weighing the risks. Sure, a loan can help build your credit history, and makes it easier to purchase high-ticket items, such as a home and an automobile. If you can afford a loan and you're able to manage it responsibly, getting approved for financing can be a godsend. But, there are clearly times when you should avoid taking out a loan at all costs. These are six of them.</p> <h2>1. The Bank Requires a Cosigner</h2> <p>A bank may not approve your loan unless there's a cosigner. But even if a parent or sibling agrees to cosign, the fact that you even need a cosigner is a sign you shouldn't get the loan. Seriously, dude, stop and think about this for a bit. You're not qualified &mdash; harsh reality, I know &mdash; so this loan probably isn't the best decision.</p> <p>If a lender says you don't qualify on your own merit, rather than get a cosigner and put a Band-Aid on the situation, get to the root of the rejection and fix your credit in order to qualify on your own. Besides, a cosigner is a joint applicant, and the way you manage this account affects their credit history. Unless you want to risk damaging a relationship, leave friends and relatives out of your financial matters.</p> <h2>2. You Have a Low Credit Score</h2> <p>A low credit score doesn't mean you can't get a loan, but you'll certainly pay more for it than someone with good credit. Since you're a risky applicant, the bank will charge a higher interest rate, which also increases your monthly payments. Depending on how much you pay, getting a loan with bad credit can be a very costly decision in the long run. You're better off postponing the loan, <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-rebuild-your-credit-in-8-simple-steps">fixing your credit</a>, and then applying once you can qualify for prime rates.</p> <h2>3. To Pay for an Upcoming Vacation</h2> <p>If you're burnt out and need a break, it might be time for a vacation. Holla! But if you don't have cash to afford a vacation, getting a loan isn't the answer. Vacations are a time to relax and spend time with your family &mdash; not complicate your life. Unless you're in a position to pay off a loan immediately after you return home, think twice before financing your vacay. Yeah, it might be a trip of a lifetime and create memories for years to come, but it's not worth coming home to added financial stress, especially if you have to work more to pay off this loan. As an alternative, look into shorter getaways closer to home that won't cost a lot of money.</p> <h2>4. To Pay for a Wedding</h2> <p>Some people think the bigger the wedding, the better the wedding. These same people also think weddings are a once-in-a-lifetime event (and let's hope it is), so it's okay to splurge and go deep into debt. But given that 50% of all marriaged&nbsp;<a href="http://www.apa.org/topics/divorce/">end in divorce</a>, there's a solid chance that the wedding debt will last longer than the vows. A real kick in the you-know-whats, isn't it? I don't have firsthand experience (my husband and I are still holding our marriage together, but we also didn't spend a fortune on a wedding), but I'm guessing it's pretty frustrating to make payments on a wedding loan years after you and an ex-spouse break up. Anger-inducing, even. Some people have the fairy tale and enjoy happily ever after, but there are no guarantees. If you can't afford a lavish wedding with your own money, don't have one. You will regret it later.</p> <h2>5. When You're Borrowing Against Your Retirement</h2> <p>The decision to take a loan against your retirement account is ultimately your decision, but there are many factors to take into consideration. This money can be useful during a hardship or if you're buying a house and need a down payment. But a recent study shows that approximately $6 billion is lost to&nbsp;<a href="http://www.asppa.org/Portals/2/PDFs/White%20Papers/WP2014-01.pdf">401(k) loan defaults</a> annually. That's a lot of well-intentioned people failing to repay their 401(k) loans.</p> <p>If you're committed to paying back your retirement account, and if retirement is several years into the future, borrowing from your account isn't the end of the world. But if you don't think you'll be able to replenish an IRA or a 401(k) account, or if retirement is right around the corner, this isn't the time to gamble with your future.</p> <h2>6. You Can't Get Traditional Financing</h2> <p>If you can't get traditional financing from a bank, you might be tempted to get a payday or title loan. These loans can put fast cash in your pocket, and they don't typically require a credit check. But these are two of the riskiest loans available. Title loans have to be paid in full within two weeks and you'll pay high fees &mdash; as much as $25 per every $100 you borrow. A car title loan isn't any better. These loans require a paid off car and your title acts as collateral &mdash; but there's a catch: If you can't pay back a title loan, you lose your car. Steep sentence, for sure. Here's another catch: Nobody's wants to drive your broke butt around town because you can't manage your money, so don't make foolhardy financial mistakes.</p> <p><em>Did you take out a loan when you shouldn't have? What happened?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/mikey-rox">Mikey Rox</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-times-you-should-never-take-a-loan">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/6-times-when-its-okay-to-take-a-loan">6 Times When It&#039;s Okay to Take a 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/10-things-you-think-affect-your-credit-score-but-dont">10 Things You Think Affect Your Credit Score — But Don&#039;t</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/money-to-start-your-business-without-banks-or-saving">Money to start your business--without banks or saving</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-the-new-credit-card-formula-means-for-your-wallet">What the New Credit Card Formula Means for Your Wallet</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-three-interest-rates">The Three Interest Rates</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Banking borrowing credit score loan Tue, 03 Mar 2015 18:00:06 +0000 Mikey Rox 1316744 at http://www.wisebread.com 4 Ways HSBC's Shady Schemes Helped the Rich Avoid Taxes http://www.wisebread.com/4-ways-hsbcs-shady-schemes-helped-the-rich-avoid-taxes <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/4-ways-hsbcs-shady-schemes-helped-the-rich-avoid-taxes" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock_000026265114_Large.jpg" alt="close-up $100 bill" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Fugitive diamond dealers, convicted drug lords, terror suspects, royal families, famous athletes, and allies of Vladimir Putin are among the controversial figures HSBC helped hide money from the taxman by setting up and managing 1,000s of&nbsp;<a href="http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-02-08/leaked-hsbc-list-shows-who-was-banking-on-swiss-secrecy">secret Swiss bank accounts</a>. The bank now faces criminal prosecution for its role in not only allowing, but advocating that select wealthy clients hide their identities (and in some cases huge amounts of illicit cash) in order to skirt taxation. It's the latest in a string of shady Swiss banking busts, and one that could result in a hard crackdown on offshore tax havens.</p> <p>Read on for our step-by-step guide to how the world's second-largest bank got away with helping people avoid paying their taxes &mdash; and why you can't do the same.</p> <h2>1. Aggressive Marketing</h2> <p>To drum up business, HSBC promoted its <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/business/2015/feb/10/hsbc-files-swiss-bank-aggressive-marketing-clients-avoid-new-tax">tax dodging strategization</a> services. For example, the bank alerted select wealthy clients about a scheme it masterminded for the purpose of helping depositors avoid a new tax levied in 2005 on the Swiss savings accounts of EU citizens. Since the tax applied only to personal savings accounts, HSBC offered to transfer clients' monies into a puppet corporate account it created so that those monies wouldn't be subject to the tax. The likelihood of your bank setting up an ingenuine account to help you avoid paying your taxes is slim to none.</p> <h2>2. A 1934 Swiss Law</h2> <p>Most western nations outlawed anonymous banking long ago. But the practice is alive and well in Switzerland, where banking secrecy is supported by a 1934 law that makes it punishable by three years in jail for a banker, current or former, to make public the identity of a depositor. Instead of legal names, HSBC's secret accounts were tied only to numbers and <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/business/2015/feb/08/hsbc-files-1934-swiss-law-secrecy?CMP=share_btn_tw">code names</a>&nbsp;like Captain Kirk. Just a select few within the banking giant's Swiss branch knew the true identity of its depositors.</p> <h2>3. Untraceable Banknotes</h2> <p>When you use untraceable banknotes, there's no paper trail to set off the IRS or other authorities. With this knowledge, HSBC reportedly made untraceable cash available to its depositors, and then allowed those depositors to make <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/business/2015/feb/09/hsbc-files-swiss-bank-cash-machine-rich-clients?CMP=share_btn_tw">large cash withdrawals</a> &mdash; a major red flag in legal banking operations that would normally result in a denial of the request to make a withdrawal. Some of these withdrawals were in amounts as large as $100,000.</p> <p>If you tried to make a cash withdrawal in the amount of $100,000 &mdash; or even $10,000 &mdash; your bank would almost certainly block the transaction. But HSBC never did. In fact, the bank encouraged such transactions. In one example, the Guardian reports that wealthy HSBC clients in Paris would use the bank to exchange the illicit proceeds from big drug deals in the city for untraceable cash.</p> <h2>4. Tip-Offs</h2> <p>Chances are that your bank would advise you on how to comply with the law &mdash; not on how to skirt it. But HSBC clearly wasn't playing the role of typical bank. In fact, it tipped off its clients when they were on the verge of making a transaction that might catch the attention of the taxman. In many cases, it would then suggest an alternative way to make that same transaction while staying under the radar. A surgeon from the U.S., for example, said HSBC's Swiss bank gave him &quot;bricks&quot; of $100,000 in notes so he could secretly send them home in a series of envelopes. Wiring the money, the bank advised him, would &quot;create a trail for U.S. authorities,&quot; the Guardian reports.</p> <p>The super-rich get all sorts of benefits you and I don't. HSBC's tax-dodging strategies are just the latest example.</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/4-ways-hsbcs-shady-schemes-helped-the-rich-avoid-taxes">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/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/5-best-prepaid-debit-cards">5 Best Prepaid Debit Cards</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/travel-and-money-using-prepaid-travel-cards">Travel and Money: Using Prepaid Travel Cards</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/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-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/banks-still-offering-free-checking-and-great-interest-rates">Banks Still Offering Free Checking and Savings with Great Interest Rates</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Banking hsbc one-percenters rich tax evasion Fri, 20 Feb 2015 18:00:08 +0000 Brittany Lyte 1302367 at http://www.wisebread.com 7 Ways to Pick the Bank That's Right for You http://www.wisebread.com/7-ways-to-pick-the-bank-thats-right-for-you <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/7-ways-to-pick-the-bank-thats-right-for-you" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/couple-meeting-bank-advisor-Dollarphotoclub_64228585.jpg" alt="couple meeting bank advisor" title="couple meeting bank advisor" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>With so many options, picking the right bank isn't always easy, leaving some people to pick a bank at random without giving much consideration to whether the institution meets their banking needs. (Personally, I chose Bank of America because of its abundance of locations across the country; I was tired of paying all those ATM fees from other banks while I was traveling). But while this a quick way to pick a bank, it doesn't guarantee the best banking experience. (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>1. How Do You Prefer to Bank?</h2> <p>Some people prefer going to an actual branch and speaking with a banker face-to-face, so they need a brick-and-mortar location. And if you travel a lot for either work or pleasure, you might need a big bank with locations in most of the country. When I first moved to New York City, I had to switch banks specifically for this reason. The bank I was with had very few branches in Manhattan, and I would have to take a 15-minute subway ride to deposit a $25 check.</p> <p>On the other hand, if you're primarily banking within your community, and you prefer personable service and a hometown feel, a regional or community bank might provide a better banking experience.</p> <p>Then again, maybe you can't remember the last time you stepped foot in a bank branch. Or perhaps you conduct most of your bank transactions electronically &mdash; thank goodness for mobile deposit, amiright? &mdash; so an <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-best-online-checking-accounts">online checking</a> or savings might be right up your alley.</p> <h2>2. Check for FDIC Backing</h2> <p>Even a big bank can shut its doors. Remember 2008? No matter the type of bank you choose, you need to be confident that your money is safe. Therefore, only bank with institutions that are insured by the FDIC. Your funds are protected up to $250,000 per account, so you know your cash is safe if the bank goes under.</p> <h2>3. What Are the Hours and Locations?</h2> <p>Choose a bank with locations and hours that work with your banking schedule and location, since you probably don't have time to drive 10 or 15 minutes out the way to find a branch. Also, factor in a bank's lobby and drive-up teller hours. When are you most likely to visit branches? If you prefer visiting a branch before or after work, a bank that opens before 9 a.m. and remains open until 6 p.m. might be a better fit. Or if you conduct most of your transactions on the weekends, a bank that offers Saturday or Sunday hours may be a better option.</p> <h2>4. What Are the Fees and Interest Rates?</h2> <p>If you're switching banks because you're fed up with high fees and low rates, you need to be more selective this time around. Besides, if you're looking to grow your money and reach a financial goal, the last thing you need are <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/12-annoying-bank-fees-and-how-to-avoid-them">fees eating away at your balance</a>. Speak with a banker or visit the bank's website for information on fees and rates.</p> <p>Is there a monthly maintenance fee for checking and savings account? If so, is there a way to avoid this maintenance fee? Does the bank offer free overdraft protection? What's the returned check fee? What type of rates can you anticipate for a checking or savings?</p> <h2>5. Does the Bank Offer a Variety of Investment Options?</h2> <p>Regular savings accounts don't earn much interest, but with a certificate of deposit, a money market account, or interest checking, you'll usually get more bang for your buck. Does the bank offer these products?</p> <p>Some small banks only have one type of checking or regular savings, whereas other banks offer a variety of accounts to accommodate different customer needs. Some banks offer accounts specifically for students or senior citizens. You should thus consider your banking needs and determine whether your chosen bank offers adequate options. The goal is finding a bank with accounts that match your savings or checking needs.</p> <h2>6. Do You Need Other Financial Products?</h2> <p>You may prefer using your bank for all your financial needs. So, when choosing a bank, make sure you inquire about other products. If you're planning on getting a mortgage or auto loan in the near future, you might choose a bank that offers these products as well. As an existing account holder, you might be eligible for better rates on loans and credit cards.</p> <h2>7. What Services Are Important to You?</h2> <p>Make a list of must-have banking services. Big banks offer a massive selection of services, such as online banking, bill pay, wire transfers, and direct deposit. These institutions usually have the resources to provide the most innovative products. But if you're working with a community or a regional bank, services might be limited. Visit the bank's website to make sure the institution offers the services you use.</p> <p><em>How did you choose your bank? Did any other these suggestions factor in? Let me know in the comments below.</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/mikey-rox">Mikey Rox</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-ways-to-pick-the-bank-thats-right-for-you">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-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/that-sneaky-bank-almost-got-me">That Sneaky Bank Almost Got Me</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/the-benefits-and-drawbacks-of-credit-unions">The Benefits and Drawbacks of Credit Unions</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/charged-with-an-overdraft-fee-get-your-money-back">Charged With an Overdraft Fee? Get Your Money Back!</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/capital-one-360-review">Capital One 360: A Competitive Banking Option</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Banking bank fees banks interest rates loans money management Thu, 11 Dec 2014 14:00:11 +0000 Mikey Rox 1267058 at http://www.wisebread.com Capital One 360 Black Friday Sale: Get $100 When You Open an Account http://www.wisebread.com/capital-one-360-black-friday-sale-get-100-when-you-open-an-account <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/capital-one-360-black-friday-sale-get-100-when-you-open-an-account" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/146799833.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p><strong>NOTE: This deal has ended</strong></p> <p>4 Days Only (November 28-December 1): For their Black Friday Special, get $100 when you open a fee-free 360 Checking Account (with a $250 minimum deposit) and make 5 Debit Card purchases or 5 CheckMate deposits or any combination of the two within 45 days. This is an interest bearing checking account!</p> <p><a target="_blank" href="http://www.tkqlhce.com/click-2822544-12034567" rel="nofollow">Go here to learn more and sign up for a 360 Checking Account.</a></p> <p>You can also grab $100 when you open a 360 Savings Account with a $1000 minimum deposit. The bonus starts earning interest on day 1, but you can&rsquo;t take it out for at least 30 days.</p> <p><a target="_blank" href="http://www.kqzyfj.com/click-2822544-12034566" rel="nofollow">Go here to learn more and sign up for a 360 Savings Account.</a></p> <p><strong> </strong>Sales ends 12/1!</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/lynn-truong">Lynn Truong</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/capital-one-360-black-friday-sale-get-100-when-you-open-an-account">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/capital-one-360-review">Capital One 360: A Competitive Banking Option</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/the-benefits-and-drawbacks-of-credit-unions">The Benefits and Drawbacks of Credit Unions</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-ways-to-pick-the-bank-thats-right-for-you">7 Ways to Pick the Bank That&#039;s 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/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> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Banking banks Capital One ing direct Sat, 29 Nov 2014 05:21:26 +0000 Lynn Truong 1261418 at http://www.wisebread.com Capital One 360: A Competitive Banking Option http://www.wisebread.com/capital-one-360-review <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/capital-one-360-review" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_piggy_bank_000020578681.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <!--<p><strong>Special Bonus Offer!</strong> Open your first 360 Savings Account and earn up to $500! Offer ends 7/31! Details below</p>--> <p>It's been a few years since <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="http://www.tkqlhce.com/click-2822544-10478354?sid=mmarquit-959668">Capital One</a> bought ING DIRECT</a>, the popular bank that conducted most of its operations online. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-banks-still-offering-free-checking-and-great-interest-rates">7 Banks Still Offering Free Interest-Bearing Checking Accounts</a>)</p> <p>For most people looking to centralize their banking and find competitive rates, Capital One 360 is a viable option. Capital One 360 makes it easy to access all of your accounts, including your investment accounts, from your account summary.</p> <h2>Features and Benefits of Capital One 360</h2> <p>Capital One 360 offers a variety of banking products and services.</p> <h3>360 Savings</h3> <p>This is the classic account that started it all. There are no fees, no minimum deposit requirements, and no catches. Right now, the yield is <a href="http://www.tkqlhce.com/click-2822544-10698040?sid=mmarquit-959668" rel="nofollow" target="_blank"><script src="https://home.capitalone360.com/js/accounttype.js"></script> <script>document.write(type_3000_apy);</script></a>% APY, which is reasonably competitive, especially when you consider that there are no minimums and no fees. It&rsquo;s easy to link your account to other banks and set up automatic transfers to make saving easy.</p> <!--<p><strong>Now through 7/31/2015, earn up to $500 when you open your first 360 Savings account.</strong> <ul><li>This must be your very first 360 Savings account. If you've had a savings product with Capital One 360 or ING DIRECT before, you won't be eligible for the bonus.</li> <li>Your account must be funded within the first 10 days of account opening. Deposits from an existing Capital One 360 account will not qualify for the bonus.</li> <li>The minimum deposit to qualify for the bonus is $5,000, and the daily balance of $5,000 must be maintained for the 90 days, after the initial 10 day period.</li> <li>The amount of your bonus will be determined based on the highest amount you deposit within the first 10 days of account opening, and the balance that is maintained daily for the next 90 days after that.</li> </ul></p> <p>Bonus Tiers: <ul><li>$5,000 earns a $50 bonus</li> <li>$10,000 earns a $100 bonus</li> <li>$20,000 earns a $200 bonus</li> <li>$30,000 earns a $300 bonus</li> <li>$40,000 earns a $400 bonus</li> <li>$50,000 or more earns a $500 bonus</li> <li>$500 is the maximum bonus you can earn.</li> </ul> </p> --> <p><a href="http://www.tkqlhce.com/click-2822544-10698040?sid=mmarquit-959668" rel="nofollow" target="_top"><strong>Click here to open a 360 Savings Account today!</strong></a></p> <h3>Kids Savings Account</h3> <p>My son&rsquo;s savings account at Capital One 360 kicks the crap out of the 0.20% he was getting at the local credit union. It&rsquo;s easy to monitor the account from your own dashboard and to teach your child the value of saving early on.</p> <h3>360 Checking</h3> <p>You can open a checking account with Capital One 360 and earn a yield on the balance. Current yields range from 0.20% to 0.80%, depending on how much money is in the account. There are 2,000 Capital One ATMs in addition to 38,000 fee-free Allpoint ATMs account holders can use.</p> <ul> <li>This account has no fees and no minimums, and you can use P2P Payments to send money to family and friends for free.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Bill pay is free, even when you have paper checks sent.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>You can use CheckMate to deposit checks remotely, and the account comes with overdraft protection.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>If you overdraw your account, you won&rsquo;t end up paying a fee. Instead, you are just charged an interest fee (currently 11.25%) on the overdraft until it&rsquo;s paid off.</li> </ul> <p><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="http://www.tkqlhce.com/click-2822544-10478354?sid=mmarquit-959668"><strong>Click here to apply for a Capital One 360 checking account now.</strong></a></p> <h3>MONEY (Teen Checking)</h3> MONEY is an account created specifically for the teen user. Teach your teen to manage her money with this no fee and no minimum account that earns interest. </p> <h3>CDs</h3> <p>The yields on the CDs from Capital One 360 are not as competitive as they could be, ranging from 0.40% to 0.90%. You can choose your term, and you can also choose when you want to receive your interest payments.</p> <h3>Mortgages</h3> <p>The Capital One 360 mortgage offers fixed and variable rate options for a new purchase or a refinance. The closing costs are very straightforward, and right now the rates are still quite low. You can also get a home equity loan with a variable rate starting at 4.0%, or lock in a slightly higher rate for 15 years.</p> <h3>ShareBuilder</h3> <p>With ShareBuilder you can invest in stocks, mutual funds, and ETFs, as well as trade options. There is no account minimum, and you can choose between paying a $12 monthly fee and getting a lower price on trades, or just opening the account with the Basic version. I have this version, in which regular purchases are $9.95 a transaction. However, since I have an automatic investment plan set up, I only pay $4 a transaction. It&rsquo;s easy, straightforward, and the pricing is competitive with the automatic investing.</p> <h3>IRAs</h3> <p>You can choose to open a savings IRA, or you can use ShareBuilder to open an investment IRA. With the savings IRA, you have all the money in CDs and savings accounts; you need to go the ShareBuilder route if you want to invest in stocks, mutual funds, or ETFs. You can also rollover your 401(k) into an IRA from Capital One 360.</p> <h3>Business Account</h3> <p>Capital One 360 also offers business banking products. You can open a business savings account, or a business CD. The current yield on the business savings account is lower than what you get with personal savings, though.</p> <p>You can also use the ShareBuilder 401(k) to set up a retirement plan for your small business. It&rsquo;s fairly easy to set up, and you can offer this benefit to your employees.</p> <h3>Bottom Line</h3> <p>Overall, <a href="http://www.tkqlhce.com/click-2822544-10478354?sid=mmarquit-959668" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Capital One 360</a> is a viable competitor. The products offered remain fairly competitive. Additionally, the low-fee, low-hassle structure of the bank makes it easy to open accounts, and avoid watching your wealth erode due to hidden fees and complicated requirements.</p> <p><a href="http://www.tkqlhce.com/click-2822544-10478354?sid=mmarquit-959668" rel="nofollow" target="_blank"><strong>Click here to open an account now!</strong></a></p><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/miranda-marquit">Miranda Marquit</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/capital-one-360-review">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/capital-one-360-black-friday-sale-get-100-when-you-open-an-account">Capital One 360 Black Friday Sale: Get $100 When You Open an Account</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/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-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/are-you-paying-these-6-unfair-banking-fees">Are You Paying These 6 Unfair Banking Fees?</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/credit-unions-vs-banks-whats-the-difference">Credit Unions vs. Banks: What&#039;s the Difference?</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Banking banking banks Capital One credit cards ing direct Fri, 28 Nov 2014 08:35:15 +0000 Miranda Marquit 959668 at http://www.wisebread.com Are You Paying These 6 Unfair Banking Fees? http://www.wisebread.com/are-you-paying-these-6-unfair-banking-fees <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/are-you-paying-these-6-unfair-banking-fees" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/atm-withdrawal-479705383-small.jpg" alt="atm withdrawal" title="atm withdrawal" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>The average checking account has about <a href="http://www.marketwatch.com/story/average-checking-account-has-30-fees-2013-08-08">30 different fees</a>.</p> <p>So it's not a surprise that many Americans are considering dropping their banks and choosing a credit union instead. (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>However, a total switch may not be necessary if you're able to significantly lower your banking and finance fees. Here are six fees that you really don't have to pay.</p> <h2>1. ATM Fees</h2> <p>Some ATM usage fees are just outrageous. For example, using a non-Bank of America debit or credit card for a withdrawal, transfer, or balance inquiry at a Bank of America ATM has a <a href="https://www.bankofamerica.com/deposits/resources/personal-schedule-fees.go">$2.50 fee per transaction in the U.S</a>., and $5.00 in a foreign country. The same fees are applicable when you use a Bank of America debit or credit card at an ATM outside their network.</p> <p>Here are some strategies to avoid paying ATM fees:</p> <ul> <li>Know what ATM networks belong to your network. Most banks have a page that details this information on their websites. Bookmark it on your desktop and smartphone.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Use cashback. Several retailers, such as CVS and Safeway, allow you to get cash back when using your debit card to process payment. If your bank doesn't charge you fees for using your credit card (more on the next point), then you can take out money without any charges.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Look for banks that reimburse other bank fees. For example, USAA Bank <a href="https://www.usaa.com/inet/pages/no_fee_checking_main?akredirect=true">refunds up to $15 in other banks' ATM usage fees</a> each month. Also, Ally Bank <a href="http://www.ally.com/resources/pdf/bank/ally-bank-straight-talk-product-guide.pdf">reimburses all other bank's ATM fees nationwide</a>.</li> </ul> <h2>2. Checking Account Fees</h2> <p>Most banks charge between <a href="http://www.fool.com/investing/general/2014/08/23/3-bank-fees-you-should-never-pay.aspx">$10 and $20 every month</a> to maintain a checking account with them. That add ups to $100 to $240 per year in unnecessary banking fees! Follow these tactics to avoid checking account fees.</p> <ul> <li>Meet the monthly minimum or average balance requirements for your account. This amount varies per bank so make sure to check with yours.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Find out if your bank waives checking account fees by signing up for direct deposit. Even if your bank doesn't waive the fees, this service helps you to meet the minimum balance requirements more easily.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Open a checking account with a credit union. Virtually all credit unions don't charge fees for checking accounts.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Do your homework. Certain banks waive checking account fees to special demographics, such as <a href="https://www.wellsfargo.com/checking/college/">university students</a>, <a href="http://www.bankrate.com/finance/checking/banks-target-seniors-free-checking.aspx">senior citizens</a>, or <a href="https://www.chase.com/online/military/military-personal.htm">current armed forces service members and veterans</a>.</li> </ul> <h2>3. Overdraft Fees</h2> <p><a href="http://time.com/money/3070815/overdraft-fees-banks-save-money/">About $31 billion</a> are paid every year in overdraft fees around the country. In theory, overdraft fees are there to protect you when your checking account or credit card hs $300 and you decide to make a purchase for $320. The problem is that financial institutions and lenders are selectively choosing when to charge overdraft fees, which range from $25 to $35.</p> <p>Let's imagine that you have a credit cards balance of $30. Throughout the day, you spend $5 in breakfast, $15 in lunch, and $20 in dinner. If the fees were to be charged chronologically, you would only pay one overdraft fee. Unfortunately, some credit card companies selectively charge the fees so that you get dinged with the fee more than once. Suddenly, you are on the hook for up to $70 in overdraft fees.</p> <p>To make matters worse, while <a href="http://files.consumerfinance.gov/f/201407_cfpb_report_data-point_overdrafts.pdf">70% of checking account holders incur no overdrafts per year</a>, about 82% of checking accounts are hit with up to three overdraft charges per year. The conclusion? Do not sign up for any service labeled &quot;overdraft.&quot; Don't become part of the 8.3% of Americans that overdraft more than 10 times per year and opt out this service.</p> <h2>4. Fancy Checks</h2> <p>Do you really need to spend between $21.95 to $56.85 (before applicable taxes, shipping charges, and extras) for <a href="http://www.bradfordexchangechecks.com/products/1800538001-The-Little-Mermaid-Personal-Checks.html">Little Mermaid checks</a>? No, you don't.</p> <p>Generally, ordering a check through your own bank is not a good idea. For example, ordering <a href="http://www.samsclubchecks.com/line.aspx?lineid=212">personal checks at Sam's Club</a> starts at $8.70, while ordering checks through your bank often starts at $20. The only time to order checks through your bank is when they are free, such as when opening a new account.</p> <h2>5. Credit Reports</h2> <p>You don't need to pay for a credit report. Ever.</p> <p>Under federal law, you can get a free credit report through <a href="http://www.annualcreditreport.com/index.action">AnnualCreditReport.com</a> every 12 months. This report includes all your credit history from the three main reporting agencies: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.</p> <p>It is a smart habit to order your free credit report every year so that you can go through it to find any inconsistencies. If you do find any issues, you can <a href="https://www.ai.equifax.com/CreditInvestigation/home.action">create an online dispute</a>. Notice that you only need to notify one reporting agency because it will notify the other two for you.</p> <h2>6. Extra 0.25% to 1.00% in Loan Interest</h2> <p>Several financial institutions are willing to knock off from 0.25% to 1.00% of your interest rate if you set up an automatic monthly payment from your checking account. While this is not strictly a fee, the effect of this policy is to charge account-holders who do not opt for automatic payments a fee.</p> <ul> <li>Get up to <a href="https://www.fiscal.org/new-and-used-auto-loans.html#auto-loan-discounts">1.00% off from the APR of your auto loan</a> at the Fiscal Credit Union.</li> <li>Receive a <a href="http://www.finaid.org/loans/studentloandiscounts.phtml">0.25% to 0.50% interest rate reduction</a> from your student loans.</li> </ul> <p>Make sure to double check with your bank if they offer rate discounts for automatic monthly payments.</p> <p><em>What are other banking and finance fees that you don't really have to pay?</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/are-you-paying-these-6-unfair-banking-fees">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-10"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/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/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-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/beware-the-small-print-of-high-interest-savings-accounts">Beware the Small Print of High Interest Savings Accounts</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-microsaving-tools-to-help-you-start-saving-now">5 MicroSaving Tools to Help You Start Saving Now</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Banking banking checking credit cards fees savings Wed, 03 Sep 2014 13:00:07 +0000 Damian Davila 1199895 at http://www.wisebread.com 12 Places to Keep Your Money Safe — And Growing http://www.wisebread.com/12-places-to-keep-your-money-safe-and-growing <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/12-places-to-keep-your-money-safe-and-growing" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/mobile-banking-160857206-small.jpg" alt="mobile banking" title="mobile banking" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Maybe you've heard a story like this: An entirely ordinary &mdash; and often reclusive &mdash; elderly person passes away, revealing the millions of dollars they have stashed away in their modest homes.<a href="http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2012/09/7-million-in-gold-discovered-in-dead-mans-home/"> One Nevada man died to reveal a fortune</a>, including gold bars and coins, worth more than $7 million. His bank account was found to be holding a meager $200.</p> <p>In an age when there are so very many options for saving, investing, and managing our money, the notion that people still really do put cash under their mattresses is a bit hard to imagine. Then again, if you've been faced with the task of deciding where to keep your savings, you've probably discovered it isn't an easy one, precisely because there are so many choices.</p> <p>So where can you keep your money safe but still earn a decent return? Here are some key options.</p> <h2>Savings Accounts</h2> <p>They're simple, they're convenient, they're easy to find and they're perfectly safe in terms of protecting your principal investment. Because there is so much competition, you can also find a decent interest rate if you shop around. Just be sure to choose an account with no fees. Who wants to pay to save? (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/why-savings-account-interest-rates-are-so-low?ref=seealso">Why Savings Account Interest Rates Are So Low</a>)</p> <h3>Who It's Best For</h3> <p>Those who prioritize liquidity (the ability to withdraw your money whenever you want it without restrictions) above all other conveniences. If you're looking to save for shorter term goals, or for an emergency fund, a savings account is a great option.</p> <h2>Money Market Accounts</h2> <p>This type of savings account tends to provide higher returns than a typical savings account, but that also has more restrictions on withdrawals and minimum deposits. Some money market accounts even allow some check-writing privileges. These accounts are risk free in terms of losing your initial deposit and, like a simple savings account, are insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), which protects your deposits against bank failure.</p> <h3>Who It's Best For</h3> <p>Those who value safety and are willing to forego some convenience and accessibility for higher rates of return.</p> <h2>High-Yield Checking Accounts</h2> <p>Many checking accounts charge a monthly fee, but some checking accounts, often called &quot;high yield checking accounts,&quot; actually offer pretty solid interest rates instead. These accounts are typically offered by local credit unions and online banks and, as of July 2014, some offered interest rates as high as 5% &mdash; although there are quite a few caveats to scoring that kind of return. You can run a search of these types of accounts and what they offer at <a href="https://www.checkingfinder.com/">CheckingFinder</a>.</p> <h3>Who It's Best For</h3> <p>Those who seek safety, reasonably good liquidity and don't mind jumping through a few hoops for a higher return.</p> <h2>Certificates of Deposit</h2> <p>A certificate of deposit, or CD, is a sort of IOU from a bank in which the bank agrees to pay back the amount you deposited plus a specific amount of interest within a certain time frame. For example, if you buy a $1,000 CD with a 5% interest rate, you'll be owed $105 when the CD matures. Generally, you can't withdraw this money before the CD's maturity date without incurring a penalty. However, CDs are very low risk and generally provide higher returns than a savings or money market account. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-basics-of-cd-laddering?ref=seealso">The Basics of CD Laddering</a>)</p> <h3>Who It's Best For</h3> <p>Those who are seeking a long-term savings vehicle and don't expect to need to access their savings immediately.</p> <h2>U.S Savings Bonds</h2> <p>If you can afford to keep your money tied up for at least a year, U.S. savings bonds might be another option to consider. These super-safe investments are sold and backed by the U.S. government and they tend to provide competitive interest rates. As an added bonus, interest on government bonds (unlike corporate bonds) is accrued monthly and compounded semi-annually, helping your investment grow a bit faster. You may also get tax deferral or exemption benefits on the proceeds of government bonds.</p> <h3>Who It's Best For</h3> <p>If you're seeking safety and plan to keep your money invested for between one and five years, government bonds may be a good bet for you.</p> <h2>Pay Down Debt</h2> <p>We often think of savings as money that we save, but you could also think of it as money that you spend to save you money. If you have a lot of debt that you're trying to pay off, it's probably best to save up an emergency fund and then put the rest of any money available for saving toward your debt. If you consider that some credit cards have interest rates of 20% or more, paying down your balance actually has a pretty great financial return.</p> <h3>Who It's Best For</h3> <p>Those who have what's called &quot;revolving debt,&quot; or debt that you aren't able to pay off at the end of the month and continues to compound interest charges. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-inspiring-people-who-each-paid-off-over-100000-in-debt">5 Inspiring People Who Each Paid Off Over $100,000 in Debt</a>.)</p> <h2>Pay Down Your Mortgage</h2> <p>Just as paying off your credit card or line of credit can provide a return in the form saved interest expenses, so can paying down your mortgage. Plus, if you consider that a home is one of the most valuable assets many people own, paying into that asset can act as a bit of a savings account you can cash in when you downsize later in life.</p> <h3>Who It's Best For</h3> <p>Anyone with a mortgage &mdash; as long as you have other essential savings bases covered, such as an emergency fund and retirement savings.</p> <h2>Real Estate</h2> <p>Not everyone is a fan of watching the number of digits in their bank balance grow; some people prefer to invest in something concrete, and that often means investing in real estate. Yes, the real estate market in the United States has had some serious lows in recent years, but over the long term, <a href="https://www.ncreif.org/property-index-returns.aspx">real estate has proved to have reasonable growth</a>.</p> <h3>Who It's Best For</h3> <p>Those who like concrete investments, who can handle some long-term risks, and who aren't interested in liquidity at all. Seriously &mdash; it can take months, or years, to sell a property.</p> <h2>Your Workplace Retirement Program</h2> <p>If you have a workplace retirement program, use it. It's as simple as that. Not only will contributions to a retirement plan such as a 401(k) reduce your taxable income, but your investment will also go to work immediately to help ensure that your golden years really are golden. Plus, any employer contribution represents free money, so at least contribute enough to your plan to maximize your employer's matching program.</p> <h3>Who It's Best For</h3> <p>Anyone who has access to one, particularly if your employer matches some of your contributions.</p> <h2>An IRA</h2> <p>Most types of IRAs are investment vehicles that allow you to save money and defer paying taxes on that money until you retire. The benefit of this arrangement is that savings can grow faster without the headwind taxes represent. It is also assumed that people's income will be lower when they're no longer working, putting them into a lower tax bracket and allowing them to withdraw their funds at a lower tax rate when they retire. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/choosing-a-retirement-account-whats-available-and-what-s-best-for-you?ref=seealso">Choosing a Retirement Account</a>)</p> <h3>Who It's Best For</h3> <p>IRAs are suitable for most investors, but there are many different types with different rules and benefits. Therefore, it's best to do some research or consult with a retirement planner to help you decide what kind of IRA might work best for you.</p> <h2>A Flexible Spending Account</h2> <p>Medical and other health related costs add up very quickly. That's why some employers offer what are called flexible spending accounts, or FSAs. In an FSA, your employer will deduct pre-tax income from your paycheck and set it aside for you to use on qualifying health expenditures that aren't covered by your regular health insurance plan. Often, you get to decide how much you contribute up to a certain limit. FSAs are a good bet because they ensure you have some money set aside for unexpected medical expenses. Because they're funded with pre-tax income, they can also significantly reduce your income tax bill.</p> <h3>Who It's Best For</h3> <p>Those who are concerned about medical expenditures, have health problems or have a number of dependents on their health plan.</p> <h2>Educational Savings Account</h2> <p>If you have children, an education savings account (read: college fund) may be a great place to park your cash. You can contribute up to $2,000 per year, and interest is accumulated tax free. The only caveat to avoiding taxes is that your child has to use the money by the age of 30 for qualifying educational purposes. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/3-reasons-not-to-save-for-your-childs-college-fund?ref=seealso">3 Reasons Not Save For Your Kid's College Education</a>)</p> <h3>Who It's Best For</h3> <p>People with kids, especially if they're bound for the Ivy League &ndash; you're going to need all the money you can get!</p> <p><em>Do you have a great savings vehicle I missed? Let me know where you're keeping your savings in the comments.</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/tara-struyk">Tara Struyk</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/12-places-to-keep-your-money-safe-and-growing">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-11"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/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/are-you-paying-these-6-unfair-banking-fees">Are You Paying These 6 Unfair Banking Fees?</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/this-is-why-you-cant-postpone-planning-for-your-retirement-and-how-to-start">This Is Why You Can&#039;t Postpone Planning for Your Retirement (And How to Start)</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/you-may-be-putting-your-retirement-money-in-the-wrong-place">You May Be Putting Your Retirement Money in the Wrong Place</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/an-introduction-to-high-yield-reward-checking-accounts">An Introduction to High Yield Reward Checking Accounts</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Banking banking checking investing IRA money market safe investments saving Tue, 12 Aug 2014 13:00:22 +0000 Tara Struyk 1180824 at http://www.wisebread.com How to Turn $25 a Week Into Almost $7000 in 5 Years http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-turn-25-a-week-into-almost-7000-in-5-years <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-to-turn-25-a-week-into-almost-7000-in-5-years" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/investment-consultant-181985834-small.jpg" alt="investment consultant" title="investment consultant" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>According to Bankrate, certificates of deposit with a 5-year maturity (as of 7/18/14) offer a meager 1.74% growth rate &mdash; hardly anything to brag to your friends about. What do you do if you want to make your money grow even more? (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4000-8000-or-even-453500-in-5-years-a-low-risk-investment-plan">A Low Risk Investment Plan</a>)</p> <p>One option could be to invest in the stock market. But with such a short time frame as five years, stocks may not be your best option.</p> <p>Instead, a more suitable investment would be to invest in bonds.</p> <p>Specifically, to invest in <em>bond funds</em>.</p> <h2>Why Bond Funds?</h2> <p>Bonds are a more suitable investment than stocks for a shorter period (like five years) because they don't usually fluctuate in value as much as stocks in the short term. They're more conservative, but they won't crater your savings in the short term, either.</p> <p>All of this means that you have a smaller chance of losing your money, and a greater chance of growing your money steadily.</p> <p>So how much could your money grow by investing in bonds? (Bonds are just loans to the government or a company, where you get regular interest payments and the return of your money after a period of time.)</p> <p>According to author and Chartered Financial Analyst <a href="http://www.portfoliosolutions.com/portfolio-solutions-30-year-market-forecast-for-investment-planning-2014-edition/">Rick Ferri</a>, bonds are expected to grow at a rate of 5% over the next 30 years. <a href="http://pages.stern.nyu.edu/~adamodar/New_Home_Page/datafile/histretSP.html">Historically</a>, they've grown at a rate of about 5% as well.</p> <p>With those figures in mind, by investing $25 every week for 5 years &mdash; at a growth rate of 5% &mdash; your money <a href="http://www.treasurydirect.gov/BC/SBCGrw">will grow to $6,694.84</a> ($194.84 more than if you'd just stuffed it in a mattress) and more if you take the advice below to invest via a Roth IRA.</p> <h2>Choosing Your Bond</h2> <p>The first step is to find an investment company to partner with.</p> <p>These days, there are many companies to choose from. But with minimum requirements often ranging from $1,000 to $3,000, not many will let you invest with a relatively small amount of money.</p> <p>Fortunately, there is one that does, and that company is Schwab. Here's how you can get started investing with them.</p> <h3>Buying Bonds Through Schwab</h3> <p>The first step is to open an <a href="http://www.schwab.com/public/schwab/investing/accounts_products/accounts">investment account</a>. You can open your account online, or have someone help you through the process by calling an 800 number.</p> <p>If you're eligible, choose a <a href="http://www.irs.gov/Retirement-Plans/Plan-Participant,-Employee/Amount-of-Roth-IRA-Contributions-That-You-Can-Make-for-2014">Roth IRA</a>. That's because bonds are best held in a tax-advantaged account such as a Roth. (Check out the &quot;Tax efficiency of bonds&quot; section of this article on <a href="http://www.bogleheads.org/wiki/Principles_of_tax-efficient_fund_placement">fund investing</a> for a more in-depth explanation as to why). Doing so will allow your earnings to escape Federal tax and grow to $6,928.94.</p> <p>After you've opened up an account, your next step is to choose the bond fund. Although there are many to choose from, this one is probably your best bet: <a href="http://www.schwab.com/public/schwab/investing/investment_help/investment_research/mutual_fund_research/mutual_funds.html?path=%2FProspect%2FResearch%2Fmutualfunds%2Fsummary.asp%3Fsymbol%3DSWLBX">Schwab Total Bond Market Fund</a></p> <p>This portfolio provides the proper asset allocation and diversification needed to build long-term wealth. It's the same fund recommended by the many Bogleheads who invest using a <a href="http://www.bogleheads.org/wiki/Three-fund_portfolio#Other_than_Vanguard.2C_Boglehead-style">Three Fund Portfolio</a>. The Bogleheads are a community of people dedicated to helping others achieve returns far greater than those achieved by the average investor.</p> <p>Now that you have both an account and an investment, the next step is to add money to it.</p> <h2>How Much to Invest</h2> <p>To invest in the bond fund, you need to start with $100. And to continue growing your money, each additional investment needs to be a minimum of $100.</p> <p>Here's how to do it.</p> <p>First, save $25 each week. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/101-ways-to-save-money-around-the-house">101 Ways to Save Money Around the House</a>)</p> <p>Need ideas on how to do this? Consider these:</p> <ul> <li>Buy your groceries in bulk and split the food costs with your friends.</li> <li>Rent a video instead of going to the movies.</li> <li>Carpool/walk/bike to work.</li> <li>Bring your own lunch.</li> <li>Make your own coffee.</li> </ul> <p>After one month, you'll have saved $100. Using this money, open your account, choose the bond fund, and start investing with that $100.</p> <p>The next step is to make this automatic, so that you no longer need to think about it. Set up an automatic monthly transfer of $100 (from the $25 you're saving each week). You can make this happen easily through direct deposit, using their Automatic Investment Plan.</p> <p>After your automatic system is set up, all you need to do is sit back and watch your money grow.</p> <p><em>So what would you do with $7,000 in five years? Please share in comments!</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/darren-wu">Darren Wu</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-turn-25-a-week-into-almost-7000-in-5-years">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-12"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-crucial-things-you-should-know-about-bonds">5 Crucial Things You Should Know About 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/laddering-for-higher-more-stable-returns">Laddering for higher, more stable returns</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-dumb-401k-mistakes-smart-people-make">5 Dumb 401(k) Mistakes Smart People Make</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-easy-ways-to-start-green-investing">5 Easy Ways to Start Green Investing</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-investors-with-better-returns-than-warren-buffett">5 Investors With Better Returns Than Warren Buffett</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Banking Investment bonds direct deposit investing Thu, 07 Aug 2014 13:00:06 +0000 Darren Wu 1177364 at http://www.wisebread.com 9 Good Reasons to Choose a Credit Union Instead of a Bank http://www.wisebread.com/9-good-reasons-to-choose-a-credit-union-instead-of-a-bank <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/9-good-reasons-to-choose-a-credit-union-instead-of-a-bank" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/couple-businessman-86529421-small.jpg" alt="financial planner" title="financial planner" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="143" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>I am huge believer in credit unions.</p> <p>When I first arrived to the U.S., I only had my savings and my dreams of completing a MBA degree. As an immigrant I didn't have a credit history or a U.S. bank account. This meant that many big names in banking were hesitant to give me a chance. This made qualifying for a credit card or becoming eligible for a car loan very challenging. Thanks to a local credit union, I was not only able to achieve these milestones, but also build my credit history and become financially independent. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-switch-banks?ref=seealso">How to Switch Banks</a>)</p> <p>Here are the 10 good reasons to choose a credit union instead of a bank.</p> <h2>1. Credit Unions Have Owners</h2> <p>While banks have clients, credit unions have part owners or members. When you open an account, your account is actually a share and provides you voting rights. Instead of a board of directors, decisions are made by vote from shareholders. Each member has a voice in how operations are run, no matter how small her share may be.</p> <p>On top of this, credit unions are not run for profit. Instead these institutions have the ultimate goal of providing their members better rates on loans and financial products. When a credit union makes a profit, it is used to provide better opportunities to the community that it serves.</p> <h2>2. Accounts Have Fewer and Lower Fees</h2> <p>When I was researching checking and savings accounts at banks, I was shocked at the fees they charged. Turns out that the average checking account from a bank has <a href="http://www.marketwatch.com/story/average-checking-account-has-30-fees-2013-08-08">30 different fees</a>, such as maintenance and excess withdrawal fees. Some banks have up to 50 unique fees for checking accounts!</p> <p>Unlike big banks, credit unions aim to minimize account fees. For example, credit unions are well known for not charging monthly maintenance fees, which are about $12 to $14 at big name banks.</p> <h2>3. Clerks Talk With You</h2> <p>This is a major advantage of working with a credit union. Credit unions have a much smaller client base, and they work very hard to keep them happy.</p> <p>For example, on my first year I miscalculated an incoming paycheck and wrote a check that was $10 over my bank balance. Instead of charging me an overdraft fee, a rep from my credit union gave me a call and informed me of the situation. He asked me if I could make a deposit to cover the $10 difference by 11 a.m. Also, my credit union gave me a one-time overdraft fee waiver because they understood that it was a rookie mistake.</p> <p>Every time that I need help I know that I can count on talking over the phone with an actual person that works at my credit union &mdash; no redirects to distant call centers. Some clerks even know me by name after so many years. This gives me the confidence of handling matters over the phone and knowing that any issue can be resolved.</p> <h2>4. Lower Financing Costs and Higher Payouts</h2> <p>Data from the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) consistently shows that <a href="http://www.ncua.gov/DataApps/Pages/CUBNKMain.aspx">credit unions outperform banks</a>. For example, in <a href="http://www.ncua.gov/DataApps/Documents/CUBNK201403.pdf">March 2014</a>:</p> <ul> <li>Credit unions had a national average rate of 4.75% for home equity loans, while banks had a 5.33% average rate<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>A $2,500 money market investment would have paid an average 0.16% at credit unions and an average 0.12% at banks<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>A $10,000 5-year CD yielded a national average 1.32% at credit unions and 1.14% at banks</li> </ul> <h2>5. Access to Financing for Low-Income Individuals</h2> <p>Credit unions do not only offer cheaper financing options, but also provide low-income or financially distressed individuals a chance to qualify for financing. Here are some examples:</p> <ul> <li>Virginia State employees, who are paid on a monthly or semi-monthly basis and have held employment for over 12 years, are eligible for <a href="http://www.dhrm.virginia.gov/vaemploan/">loans in $100 increments</a> through the Virginia Credit Union.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Since 2001, the <a href="http://www.ncsecu.org/">North Carolina State Employee's Credit Union</a> has helped over 111,800 of its members to borrow $1.5 billion through $500 salary advance loans at a 12% rate payable within a month. The program enjoys a default rate of less than 0.1%.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>During the 2009-2010 state employee furlough, the <a href="http://www.hsfcu.com/">Hawaii State Federal Credit Union</a> provided a special rate for those members affected by the furlough to borrow up to $5,000. The credit union continues to offer this assistance to members affected by <a href="http://www.hawaiireporter.com/hawaii-state-federal-credit-union-helps-members-in-need/123">federal budget cuts and furloughs</a>.</li> </ul> <h2>6. Friendly Credit Card Terms</h2> <p>Credit unions are well-known for providing some of the most attractive credit cards. Some of the features include:</p> <ul> <li>No annual fees.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>No introductory rates.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Annual percentage rates start at 7.75%. (The national average for credit union issued credit cards is 11.56%, according to the NCUA.)<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>State Employee's Credit Union: <a href="https://www.ncsecu.org/Cards/Credit.html">7.75%</a>.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>University of Hawaii Federal Credit Union: <a href="https://www.uhfcu.com/?CABINET=Main&amp;DRAWER=Products+and+Services&amp;FOLDER=Loans+and+Lines&amp;SubFolder=Credit%20Card">8.50%</a>.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>The same APR applies to purchases, cash advances, and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-best-0-balance-transfer-credit-cards?ref=internal">balance transfers</a>.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Most credit union members enjoy the same APR, regardless of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-secured-credit-cards?ref=internal">credit score</a>.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>No interest periods are often provided during the summer, December holidays, and special occasions.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Cash advances can be deposited directly into your checking account at no extra charge.</li> </ul> <p>My very first credit card was through my credit union and I still keep it until this day. I have not been able to find a credit card that matches the great terms that my credit union offers. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-penfed-promise-visa-card-offers-a-way-to-escape-your-big-bank?ref=seealso">The PenFed Promise Visa Card Offers a Way to Escape Your Big Bank</a>)</p> <h2>7. Car Loans</h2> <p>When it comes to providing car loans, credit unions have the local advantage over large banks.</p> <ul> <li>As of March 2014, a <a href="http://www.ncua.gov/DataApps/Documents/CUBNK201403.pdf">new car 48-month loan</a> stood at a national average of 2.69% at credit unions, and of 4.94% at banks. For used cars 48-month loans, the average rate was 2.87% for credit unions was 5.48% for banks.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>They often run car loan pre-approval events, so that you have a pre-approval letter from your credit union before you visit a car dealership. Shop with confidence by being 100% sure about your financing.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Credit unions often partner with local dealerships for giveaways, such as gift cards for gas stations. For example, forms may be available at your credit union branch to take with you the next time you visit participating dealerships. You can receive free gas cards just for window shopping at a car dealership. The dealer fills out the form to confirm your visit and sends it back to the credit union. A couple days later a gas card is mailed to you.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>If your credit union has a gas card partnership with a local dealership, it may also provide an even bigger gas card for financing a new car purchase through your credit union.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>The more, the merrier: Some car dealerships may run &quot;credit union days.&quot; At these events, you can browse financing offers from other credit unions, and, if you find a better one, inquire if you're eligible.</li> </ul> <h2>8. Private Lines of Credit for College Students</h2> <p>Most credit unions partner with <a href="http://www.studentchoice.org">Credit Union Student Choice</a> to offer a private line of credit to supplement college education costs. The main advantages from these private student loans are:</p> <ul> <li>Zero fees: no origination, application, or prepayment fees.</li> <li>Lower interest rates than comparable private lines of credit.</li> <li>Flexible repayment plans including school deferment.</li> <li>Loans start at $1,000.</li> </ul> <p>Almost 2,000 colleges across the U.S are eligible for loans from Credit Union Student Choice. To apply you must be enrolled at least part-time in a four year degree program at a participating public or private college.</p> <h2>9. Christmas Savings Accounts</h2> <p>Several people end up with a financial hangover from the Black Friday and Christmas &quot;deals&quot; because they rack up their store and credit cards. Shopping for gifts on plastic is a dangerous habit. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/best-credit-cards-for-the-holidays?ref=seealso">Best Credit Cards for the Holidays</a>)</p> <p>While almost no banks run &quot;Christmas Clubs&quot; any more, nearly 72% of credit unions do. Christmas Clubs are special savings accounts that encourage saving for the holidays. The main objective of these accounts is to stash this money away from yourself and make the funds grow until the first days of the holiday season. By saving throughout the year with a Christmas Club, you have a higher chance of actually saving and decreasing your credit card use.</p> <p>On top of that, most credit unions do something fun when they deliver your Christmas Club check. If you're having a hard time saving and love anything Christmas-related, then this may be the right savings vehicle for you!</p> <p><em>What are other good reasons to choose a credit union instead of a bank?</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/9-good-reasons-to-choose-a-credit-union-instead-of-a-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-13"> <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/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-2 views-row-even"> <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-3 views-row-odd"> <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-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/banks-still-offering-free-checking-and-great-interest-rates">Banks Still Offering Free Checking and Savings with Great Interest Rates</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-best-online-checking-accounts">5 Best Online Checking Accounts</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Banking banks credit cards credit unions Wed, 16 Jul 2014 16:36:36 +0000 Damian Davila 1158334 at http://www.wisebread.com 10 Reasons Why Bank Vaults Are Much More Interesting Than You Thought http://www.wisebread.com/10-reasons-why-bank-vaults-are-much-more-interesting-than-you-thought <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/10-reasons-why-bank-vaults-are-much-more-interesting-than-you-thought" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/bank-vault-dv631038-small.jpg" alt="bank vault" title="bank vault" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="159" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>For most of us, our exposure to bank vaults probably doesn't extend beyond the clever bank heists we've seen in movies like &quot;<a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00005NTNR/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B00005NTNR&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=INLM74W2QRX7ZZAM">Ocean's 11</a>&quot; and &quot;<a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00000JGHM/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B00000JGHM&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=JR65NLK2ZTZA7NI3">Heat</a>.&quot; In reality, of course, those types of crimes are very, very rare. That's because bank vaults and other covert bunkers that hold valuable goods use some pretty amazing technology to keep things secure. In fact, these ultra-exclusive enclaves of riches have a lot of secrets. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-best-and-worst-places-to-stash-cash-in-your-home?ref=seealso">The Best and Worst Places to Stash Cash in Your Home</a>)</p> <p>Here are 10 things you probably didn't know about them.</p> <h2>1. They Were Invented as a Result of the Gold Rush</h2> <p>At least in the U.S., bank vaults as we know them today emerged during the Gold Rush of 1849, when unsuccessful prospectors gave up on finding their gold in the ground and decided to get it the easy way &mdash; by robbing a bank. At that time, banks used safes to protect their goods, and bank robbers took to heaving these out the window, hauling them off, and breaking them open in a secure location. Banks quickly decided they needed a secure solution that couldn't be carried off by a determined thief. As a result, safes got ever larger and heavier until, by the 1920s, most banks were using huge, built-in vaults, with walls and doors that were several feet thick.</p> <h2>2. There's a Technological Arms Race With Burglars</h2> <p>Of course, for every genius who can invent a lock, there's another one who can learn to pick it. That sort of technology arms race is ever-present in bank security.</p> <p>Enterprising burglars have cleverly used gunpowder, nitroglycerin, and acetylene torches to pry open the tiny vulnerabilities each new bank vault provided. Today's most secure bank vaults include more technology than ever, including things like heat sensors, motion detectors, and alarms. The very most secure vaults even include things like 22-ton vault doors, machine-gun wielding guards, three foot keys, and robots. When you're guarding trillions of dollars, you can't be too careful.</p> <h2>3. But They've Stuck With a Clever and Innovative Type of Lock</h2> <p>When bank robbers learned to blast through safes with key locks, inventor Linus Yale Jr. introduced a combination lock. But it wasn't long before burglars learned to drill holes in the lock's case and peer inside at the gears to open the lock. And, of course, the simplest way to get into any lock is simply to hold the bank manager hostage until he agrees to open it. So, a man named James Sargent came up with a combination lock that wouldn't open until a set number of hours had passed. Time locks and time delay locks are still used in bank vaults as theft deterrents. Of course, for <a href="http://gizmodo.com/5771249/a-baby-was-trapped-inside-a-time-locked-bank-vault-by-herself">those who work at the bank</a>, not being able to open the vault when you want or need to can occasionally prove to be most inconvenient.</p> <h2>4. They Are Built to Withstand *Almost* Anything</h2> <p>Although the latest bank vaults are built to be disassembled more easily (while still being ultra-secure), historically, bank vaults were built to last. Forever. As a result, some of them will survive almost anything. Even a nuclear blast. In fact, it was two Mosler bank vaults at the Teikoku Bank &mdash; and only those two bank vaults &mdash; that were <a href="http://conelrad.blogspot.ca/2010/08/unbreakable-hiroshima-and-mosler-safe.html">left standing after Hiroshima</a> was hit by an atomic bomb in 1945. In 1957, the U.S. also blasted a bank vault during nuclear testing in Nevada. The 37-kiloton nuke merely loosened the vault's trim.</p> <h2>5. But People Get Through Them Anyway</h2> <p>Most bank robbers don't even bother with the bank's vault; according to the FBI, the <a href="http://www.fbi.gov/stats-services/publications/bank-crime-statistics-2011/bank-crime-statistics-2011">vast majority of crimes happen at the counter</a>. Of course, that isn't to say that there aren't a few clever criminals who make carefully planned attempts against a bank vault's security features. Sometimes it even works.</p> <p>In 2003, what was believed to be the most impenetrable diamond safe in the world, the Antwerp Diamond Vault in Belgium, was quietly opened during the night. The thieves took so much loot &mdash; $100 million worth &mdash; they couldn't even carry it all away. They set off no alarms. To this day, no one's entirely sure how they pulled it off. You can read about what's now known about the heist in this Wired piece about <a href="http://archive.wired.com/politics/law/magazine/17-04/ff_diamonds?currentPage=all">one of the men who was finally convicted</a> of the crime. It's better than fiction.</p> <h2>6. They're Used to Hold Some Unusual and Unexpected Things</h2> <p>Generally, bank vaults are used to hold what we'd typically imagine as valuable goods: Cash, gold, jewels and the like. However, many of the privately owned vaults and depositories are just as impressive, although they hold some unexpected treasures.</p> <ul> <li> <p>The <a href="http://www.mormonnewsroom.org/article/granite-mountain-records-vault">Granite Mountain Records Vault</a> in Salt Lake City holds the world's largest collection of genealogical records and records of importance to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.</p> </li> <li> <p><a href="http://www.techeblog.com/index.php/tech-gadget/18-mind-blowing-pictures-of-pionen-the-data-center-located-inside-a-nuclear-bunker">The Pionen Bunker</a> deep under Stockholm houses a data center that rents secure server space and bandwidth to a number of clients, most infamously WikiLeaks.</p> </li> <li> <p>The Vatican also secures a vault of secret archives in Rome. Its labyrinthine vaults and tunnels hold all kinds of <a href="http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Europe/2012/0301/Vatican-Secret-Archives-6-of-the-most-intriguing-documents-in-church-history/A-letter-from-Mary-Queen-of-Scots">relics of Catholic history</a>, many of which have been kept secret from the public.</p> </li> <li> <p>There's also the <a href="http://www.regjeringen.no/en/dep/lmd/campain/svalbard-global-seed-vault.html?id=462220">Svalbard Global Seed Vault</a>, a repository of crop seeds from the around the world.</p> </li> <li> <p>There's even a vault just for Colonel Sanders' secret recipe. That's right, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/02/10/kfc-stores-colonels-secre_n_165630.html">KFC's secret seasoning is hidden</a> in a super-secure vault in Louisville, Kentucky.</p> </li> </ul> <h2>7. Some Use Natural Protection</h2> <p>Drilling or blasting through bank vault walls has long been a concern in terms of security, which is why some of the most secure vaults are located underground &mdash; or under mountains. The Svalbard Global Seed Vault would certainly survive Armageddon in its cozy space buried 390 feet under a Nordic mountain. The Granite Mountain Records vault is under, well, Granite Mountain. And, in Germantown, New York, a <a href="http://articles.courant.com/1999-02-22/news/9902220101_1_vaults-secrets-of-iron-mountain-facility-s-managers">former limestone mine below Iron Mountain</a> houses historic records, a data center, and all kinds of mysterious things held by confidential tenants.</p> <h2>8. Some Are So Secure, No One Knows Where They're Located</h2> <p>There's one security feature that cutting-edge technology, armored guards, and impenetrable walls can't beat: secrecy. In Iran, the country's gold reserve remains impenetrable because no one <a href="http://www.cmi-gold-silver.com/blog/15-impenetrable-bank-vaults/">can say for sure where it is</a>. And that's about as much as I could find out about it.</p> <h2>9. Some Are So Private, No One Knows Who Owns the Goods</h2> <p>The Swiss are known for their banks &mdash; and their banks' secrecy. That includes top-notch bank vaults securing fortunes from people all over the world. The problem is that some of these people wish to remain so anonymous, that they won't allow their Swiss bankers to contact them. In fact, they don't leave any contact info at all. As a result, Swiss banks now hold <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/money/2013/mar/19/swiss-banks-dormant-accounts-money">billions of dollars of unclaimed money</a> that goes dormant when these anonymous clients die.</p> <h2>10. Because They're So Hard to Destroy, They're Often Repurposed</h2> <p>Because many of the older bank vaults are almost impossible to destroy, they're often repurposed and incorporated into the new businesses that take over former bank buildings. You can find bank vaults, and their big, clockworks-like doors, worked into <a href="http://1800recycling.com/2011/08/repurposed-bank-vaults">stylish hotels, restaurants, and board rooms</a>, among other things. Well, that's one way to find yourself on the inside of a bank vault.</p> <p><em>Have you ever seen the inside of a bank vault? How'd you get there? Share your secret in comments!</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/tara-struyk">Tara Struyk</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-reasons-why-bank-vaults-are-much-more-interesting-than-you-thought">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-14"> <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-things-it-people-wish-you-knew-about-computers">13 Things IT People Wish You Knew About Computers</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/the-5-best-ups-backup-batteries">The 5 Best UPS Backup Batteries</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/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-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-best-prepaid-debit-cards">5 Best Prepaid Debit Cards</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 Technology bank vaults hideouts safes storage Tue, 10 Jun 2014 11:00:36 +0000 Tara Struyk 1142089 at http://www.wisebread.com The Simple 5-Step Plan to Complete Money Management http://www.wisebread.com/the-simple-5-step-plan-to-complete-money-management <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/the-simple-5-step-plan-to-complete-money-management" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/stress-4973257-small copy.jpg" alt="money stress" title="money stress" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="158" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Do you struggle with managing your money? Is staying on top of your finances complicated and time-consuming for you?</p> <p>If so, follow the simple five step plan below &mdash; and the calculators and tools suggested for each &mdash; to get in control. With these simple tools, you have everything you need to make sure you're achieving your financial goals. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-painless-ways-to-manage-money-with-your-partner?ref=seealso">Painless Ways to Manage Money With a Partner</a>)</p> <h2>1. Create a Debt Elimination Plan</h2> <p>This is the most important tool. You can't build wealth and win the money game as long as you're in debt.</p> <p>This tool lets you track all your debts in one place, so that you have a good grasp of your overall financial picture. The beauty of this tool is that you can run different payment scenarios, such as determining the order you want to off your debts. This lets you see how fast you can get out of debt, and how much money you can save in interest payments.</p> <ul> <li> <p><a href="https://drive.google.com/previewtemplate?id=0Ak7JTr_5ZgQBdEhKSmRDNGdjY3Ezc3libU1qSE1DMWc&amp;mode=public">Debt Elimination Calculator</a> (Google Sheets)</p> </li> </ul> <h2>2. Develop a Budget</h2> <p>The next tool you need is a budget. This lets you see how much money you're bringing in and how much you're sending out.</p> <p>With this tool, you can tell if you're overspending, which leads to debt. But it'll also show you if you're spending within your means, which creates a cushion to help you get ahead financially.</p> <p>If you're overspending, you can instantly see where you may want to cut expenses. And if you're spending within your means, you can think about the many possibilities you have for spending the extra money (such as the occasional splurge).</p> <ul> <li> <p><a href="https://drive.google.com/templates?q=vertex42+budget&amp;category=14&amp;type=spreadsheets&amp;sort=user&amp;view=public">Budget Spreadsheets</a> (Google Sheets)</p> </li> </ul> <h2>3. Improve Your Credit</h2> <p>If you're like most people, you need to get around town with a car, and you think about owning a dream home. Unless you have the cash to pay for these in full, you'll probably need to take out a loan. And that means you'll pay interest.</p> <p>To save the most amount of interest, you'll need a good credit score. Let's say you take out a 30-year mortgage on a $200,000 house. Comparing the difference between a score in the best range with the worst range (According to <a href="http://www.myfico.com/myfico/creditcentral/loanrates.aspx">myFICO</a> as of May 2014), you'd save over $68,000.</p> <p>There are several &quot;free&quot; sources of credit scores (you've heard the jingles and seen the commercials). While those services may provide some value, they do not actually report the credit scores kept by the <a href="http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0155-free-credit-reports">three major reporting agencies</a>.</p> <p>To get those scores, visit <a href="http://www.annualcreditreport.com/">AnnualCreditReport.com</a>. You're entitled to one free report from each of the three bureaus per year.</p> <h2>4. Create an Investment Plan</h2> <p>Investing is one of the best ways to build financial security for your future.</p> <p>And the biggest determinant of your investing results is your asset allocation, which is how you decide to split your money between stocks and bonds. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-basics-of-asset-allocation?ref=seealso">The Basics of Asset Allocation</a>)</p> <p>So how do you decide on yours?</p> <p>Most of the major investment services offer lots of calculators and tools to help you figure it out, but here's one:</p> <ul> <li> <p><a href="https://personal.vanguard.com/us/FundsInvQuestionnaire">Vanguard Investor Questionnaire</a></p> </li> </ul> <p>With this knowledge, you can make investing decisions for accounts such as your 401(k) and IRA. Better yet, you can revisit this tool when circumstances in your life change, and see if this changes your proposed asset allocation.</p> <h2>5. Track Your Net Worth</h2> <p>The last tool you need is one that'll keep track of your net worth. This is important because it'll show you how you're doing overall in the money game. It'll help you stay focused.</p> <p>For instance, if your goal is to leave your day job once you become a millionaire, this tool will show you when you've reached that target. Then you can stop working and enjoy more time with your family and friends!</p> <p>Here, you have two options.</p> <p>If you want your net worth calculated automatically and don't mind storing your personal account information online, a site like <a href="https://www.mint.com/">Mint</a> will do the job for you. It can also help with budgeting, and paying your bills on time, and preparing your taxes.</p> <p>But if you don't want your personal details kept on the web, here's a spreadsheet you can use:</p> <ul> <li> <p><a href="https://drive.google.com/previewtemplate?id=0An50IrnQTTJQdExpTW9KclF3ZTRZSE5ESWFjejNIMmc&amp;mode=public">Basic Net Worth Calculator</a></p> </li> </ul> <p><em>What tools do you find most helpful in staying on top of your finances? Please share in comments!</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/darren-wu">Darren Wu</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-simple-5-step-plan-to-complete-money-management">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. 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