borrowing http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/8821/all en-US 3 Sources of Fast Cash Besides Your 401K http://www.wisebread.com/3-sources-of-fast-cash-besides-your-401k <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/3-sources-of-fast-cash-besides-your-401k" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/handling_cash_780905671.jpg" alt="Finding sources of fast cash outside of 401K" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>You're in the middle of a remodeling project, and due to unforeseen circumstances, your money runs out early. You can't live with a half-completed kitchen, but you can't pay for it to be finished right now. And while you have plenty of equity in your home and a healthy retirement account, there's nothing in the bank.</p> <p>Once you've decided to take out a loan, what is the best source of funds? Are 401K loans or borrowing against home equity ever a good idea?</p> <p>&quot;The best option is of course is your parents,&quot; says financial planner Bob Goldman. But if you can't tap the bank of mom and dad for an interest-free loan, your other best options are probably a cash-out refinance, a secondary mortgage, a home equity line of credit, or a 401K loan. Deciding which one to use requires some number crunching and a hard look at your personal situation, including your job security, your repayment timeline, and your will power.</p> <h2>Cash-Out Refinance</h2> <p>Mortgage interest rates are at historic lows, making now a good time to think about refinancing. When you refinance your home, you are replacing your current loan with a brand-new one, preferably at a better interest rate. Depending on how much equity you have in your home, you may have the option of borrowing cash at the time of the refinance &mdash; so that once all the paperwork is done, you'll have a lump sum in your bank account, which you will pay back as part of your regular mortgage payments.</p> <h2>Cash-Out Refinance Pros</h2> <p>A cash-out refinance has a lot going for it.</p> <h3>1. Low Rate</h3> <p>A mortgage often offers the lowest interest rate you can get, outside of promotional offers. And because rates are near historic lows, a lot of people feel that locking in a low rate now for a long loan term is a good call.</p> <h3>2. Low Payments</h3> <p>Because the payback period will be long &mdash; generally 30 years &mdash; a cash-out refi can ease the month-to-month strain of repayment, especially if you are able to lower the interest rate. If you are paying, say, 5% interest on your mortgage and you are able to refinance to 3.77%, you could add $50,000 to your loan principal while only adding about $100 a month to your payment.</p> <h3>3. No Surprises</h3> <p>As long as you take out a fixed-rate mortgage, you know what your payment will be for the life of the loan.</p> <h3>4. Tax Benefit</h3> <p>The interest you pay on your refinanced mortgage will be tax deductible. According to this <a href="http://www.calcxml.com/do/hom09">mortgage tax savings calculator</a>, if you add $50,000 to a $200,000 mortgage, you could save about $10,000 in taxes over the life of the loan, more or less depending on your tax bracket and the interest rate.</p> <h2>Cash-Out Refinance Cons</h2> <p>As great as a cash-out refinance is, it's not free money.</p> <h3>1. Risk</h3> <p>Your home is on the line. For most people, your house is your biggest asset, and putting it even at slight risk isn't a decision to take lightly. Far too many homeowners ended up losing their homes during the financial crisis when they overborrowed against their homes' value.</p> <h3>2. Fees</h3> <p>You have to pay closing costs, which average about $1,800 on a $200,000 loan.</p> <h3>3. Qualifying</h3> <p>You need good credit, especially for the best rates.</p> <h3>4. Starting Over</h3> <p>One thing people often overlook when refinancing, Goldman says, is that taking out a new 30-year loan pushes out the date when you'll be done paying off your mortgage. &quot;You reset the clock on your mortgage,&quot; Goldman says. &quot;You're back to Day One, where you're paying mostly interest.&quot;</p> <h2>What's the Total Cost of a Cash-Out Refinance?</h2> <p>Getting $50,000 this way would cost a typical borrower about $30,000 in interest and fees over the course of 30 years at current interest rates. I calculated this using a mortgage calculator to compare the lifetime cost of borrowing $200,000 versus $250,000, keeping in mind that getting cash out usually increases your interest rate by about ⅛ percent. I added $2,000 in closing costs and subtracted $10,000 in tax savings.</p> <h2>Home Equity Loan</h2> <p>A home-equity loan is so much like a mortgage that it's also known as a &quot;second mortgage.&quot; The only difference between this and a cash-out refinance is that instead of replacing your original mortgage with a new one, you're adding a second loan also using your home as collateral. But everything else &mdash; the fact that you're taking a fixed amount of money, usually at a set rate, and paying it back over time &mdash; remains the same.</p> <h2>Home Equity Loan Pros</h2> <p>A second mortgage is a lot like a cash out refi, but with some wrinkles.</p> <h3>1. Simplicity</h3> <p>If you have a great mortgage rate on your home and don't want to change it, this is a way to borrow money while leaving your original mortgage untouched.</p> <h3>2. Shorter Time</h3> <p>If you have a 30-year mortgage but only want to borrow money for five to 15 years, you can do that with a home-equity loan.</p> <h3>3. Tax Benefit</h3> <p>Like a regular mortgage, your interest is usually tax deductible.</p> <h2>Home Equity Loan Cons</h2> <p>You'll need to be sure you understand the downsides of this kind of loan.</p> <h3>1. Interest Rate</h3> <p>Data from Bankrate shows home equity loans averaging at least a percentage point higher than mortgage rates.</p> <h3>2. Qualifying</h3> <p>You need good credit, especially for the best rates.</p> <h2>What's the Total Cost of a home-equity loan?</h2> <p>About $11,000 in interest and fees to borrow $50,000 for 10 years.</p> <p>If you borrow $50,000 for 10 years through a second mortgage, you would pay about $13,000 interest over the life of the loan. Closing costs would be similar to a mortgage refinance, about $2,000. During that time, the mortgage interest deduction could save you about $4,000 in taxes.</p> <h2>Home Equity Line of Credit</h2> <p>Like a home-equity loan, a Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC) is a secondary loan that piggybacks on your original loan. As with both types of loans discussed above, your home is still the collateral. The big difference is that while you can get cash out of a first or second mortgage only once, a HELOC is a revolving credit line, meaning that you don't need to know upfront exactly how much you'll need over the life of the loan. You can borrow $10,000 this month for a new furnace, and then $5,000 another month for landscaping.</p> <h2>HELOC Pros</h2> <p>The key advantage of a HELOC is its flexibility, but there are others to consider, too.</p> <h3>1. Borrowing Flexibility</h3> <p>Experts recommend these loans for ongoing expenses such as college tuition, rather than a home repair that you might pay for in a lump sum. If you do a refinance and then realize you'll need to borrow more money, you would need to pay closing costs all over again and might not be able to lock in the same rate.</p> <h3>2. Tax Benefit</h3> <p>Like the above loans, the interest paid on a HELOC is usually tax deductible.</p> <h3>3. Payment Flexibility</h3> <p>Your loan may allow you to pay interest-only for a certain amount of time.</p> <h2>HELOC Cons</h2> <p>As with the other home loans discussed, a HELOC carries some costs.</p> <h3>1. Risk</h3> <p>Like both the above loans, your home is on the line.</p> <h3>2. Rate Uncertainty</h3> <p>Since HELOCs often have <a href="https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0227-home-equity-loans-and-credit-lines#lines">variable interest rates</a>, and rates are currently at historic lows, they will probably rise in the future. By law, how much the rates go up is capped &mdash; the lender must tell you the maximum potential rate when you take out the loan. The average HELOC rate at the moment is similar to home equity rates, or around a point above 30-year-mortgage rates.</p> <h3>3. Balloon Payments</h3> <p>Many HELOCs start out requiring only interest payments, then expect the borrower to pay the whole principal at the end. If you can't, Goldman said, you'll probably end up refinancing the debt into a much longer, more expensive loan.</p> <h3>4. Temptation</h3> <p>As with credit cards, having a line of credit to draw on can encourage overspending. &quot;It's one thing to be on a diet when the refrigerator is empty. It's another thing to be on a diet when the freezer is full of ice cream,&quot; Goldman said. &quot;You'll have this money available to you, so it will require a great deal of discipline to manage it.&quot;</p> <h3>5. Qualifying</h3> <p>You need good credit to qualify, especially for the best rates.</p> <h3>6. Fees</h3> <p>You may or may not have to pay closing costs, and may be charged ongoing fees such as annual maintenance fees and transaction fees.</p> <h2>What's the Total Cost of a HELOC?</h2> <p>Rough estimate: $9,500. It's more difficult to predict the lifetime cost of a HELOC if the rate is adjustable and the amount you owe on it varies, but this <a href="http://www.calcxml.com/calculators/adjustable-rate-mortgage-calculator">adjustable mortgage calculator</a> figures that with steady, modest interest increases, a 10-year, $50,000 HELOC could cost $14,000 in interest. Fees vary, but if your bank charges a $50 annual fee, that adds $500 to the cost. Subtract an estimated $5,000 in tax savings.</p> <h2>Borrowing From Your 401K</h2> <p>If you have a 401K retirement account through your employer, you might have the option of &quot;borrowing&quot; from its balance. This is not a true loan, since the money in your 401K already belongs to you. In reality, what you're doing is getting an exemption from early withdrawal penalties and taxation, as long as you promise to put the money back and pay yourself an interest rate &mdash; generally one to two percentage points above the prime rate.</p> <p>Despite all those articles out there warning you to avoid borrowing from your 401K, Goldman says this can be a good option if conditions are right.</p> <p>&quot;If I had my choice, I would definitely borrow from a 401K,&quot; he said. Although neither borrowing against your home or borrowing against your retirement are without risk, at least if you fail to pay back your 401K loan, you're not out on the street.</p> <h2>401K Loan Pros</h2> <p>This type of loan may be the easiest of all to get &mdash; it's your money, after all!</p> <h3>1. Qualifying</h3> <p>You don't need good credit to qualify for a good rate, making this an attractive option for folks who wouldn't qualify for a regular loan.</p> <h3>2. Risk</h3> <p>If you fail to pay it back, it won't affect your credit score or send collection agents after you. You also don't risk having your home repossessed.</p> <h3>3. No Bank</h3> <p>You pay the interest to yourself, which is sort of like not paying interest at all.</p> <h2>401K Loan Cons</h2> <p>There are not too many downsides to borrowing from your 401K &mdash; but there's a big one you should think very carefully about.</p> <h3>1. Risk to Your Retirement Savings</h3> <p>Failure to pay back this loan could cause great harm to your retirement account. For instance, if your employment ends for any reason, the loan becomes due immediately. If you can't pay it, it's converted to a distribution, which means that you pay taxes and (if you are under age 59 &frac12;, a 10% penalty). So you're basically stuck at your job while you have a 401K loan out; you might end up turning down a new job offer if you don't have the cash to pay the loan. Worse, if you get fired and can't pay it, you could be out of a lot of money in addition to having no job.</p> <h3>2. Double Taxation</h3> <p>The disadvantage that people often don't consider with 401K loans is that while you filled your account with pretax dollars, you repay the loan with post-tax dollars &mdash; but you'll have to pay tax again on the money when you eventually withdraw it in retirement. How much you can get: While home loans let you borrow a percentage of your home equity, 401K loans are capped at $50,000 or half your balance, whichever is less.</p> <h2>What's the Total Cost of Borrowing From Your 401K?</h2> <p>It would vary greatly depending on how close you are to retirement and how well the market does during your loan. Using <a href="http://www.calcxml.com/calculators/impact-of-borrowing-from-my-retirement-plan">this calculator</a>, I came up with an estimated cost of $25,000 in lost investment and tax benefits to borrow $50,000 for five years. That assumes your retirement account would have $10,246 less in it at the time of retirement, and that you lost out on $15,000 worth of tax benefits.</p> <h2>Bottom Line</h2> <p>By these calculations, home equity loans tend to be less costly than mortgage refis or 401K loans. You should run the numbers using your own circumstances before making that determination for yourself.</p> <p>Cost is not the only thing to consider when deciding how to borrow. There's also the degree of risk involved, and the amount of time you have to pay the money back. Again, personal circumstances will dictate your choice: If you only need the money for a short time, for instance, until your stock options vest next year, a 401K loan might be the best choice. If you can't afford to pay the loan off in the near-term, the refinance gives you the most time.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/carrie-kirby">Carrie Kirby</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/3-sources-of-fast-cash-besides-your-401k">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-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/5-ways-to-pay-off-high-interest-credit-card-debt">5 Ways to Pay Off High Interest Credit Card Debt</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/my-2016-budget-challenge-can-a-paint-job-help-an-old-house-pass-a-re-fi-appraisal">My 2016 Budget Challenge: Can a Paint Job Help an Old House Pass a Re-Fi Appraisal?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/15-surprising-ways-bad-credit-can-hurt-you">15 Surprising Ways Bad Credit Can Hurt You</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-things-you-need-to-know-about-credit-scores">5 Things You Need to Know About Credit Scores</a></span> </div> </li> <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/never-borrow-money-for-these-5-buys">Never Borrow Money for These 5 Buys</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance 401k borrowing HELOC home equity line of credit interest loans mortgages refinance second mortgage Wed, 02 Nov 2016 10:00:10 +0000 Carrie Kirby 1825229 at http://www.wisebread.com How to Stop Student Loans From Ruining Your Life http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-stop-student-loans-from-ruining-your-life <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-to-stop-student-loans-from-ruining-your-life" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/debt_piggy_bank_71881857.jpg" alt="Finding ways to stop student loans from ruining your life" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Student loans have become a huge problem. According to an analysis of government data from Edvisors, some 70% of recent college grads have education debt, and the total amount borrowed works out to an average of more than $37,000 per borrower. So burdensome is this debt that more than 40% of borrowers are behind on their payments or have stopped making them altogether, according to the U.S. Education Department.</p> <p>What can you do to avoid that fate? Here are four ideas &mdash; two geared toward families of high school students who haven't taken out student loans yet, and two aimed at college students who <em>have</em> borrowed.</p> <h2>Before You Borrow</h2> <p>Of course, the best way to keep student loans from ruining your life is to avoid borrowing in the first place. Here are two steps that can help.</p> <h3>1. Get Clear About What You're Going to Study</h3> <p>One reason why college costs so much for so many students is that so few graduate in four years. According to &quot;Four-Year Myth,&quot; a report from Complete College America, the four-year graduation rate at public universities ranges from 19% to 36%. Some who fail to graduate in four years drop out, others flunk out, but many others end up with extended stays on campus because they change majors.</p> <p>College is a very expensive place to &quot;find yourself.&quot; It's far better to enter school with as much clarity as possible about what you want to study.</p> <p>For high school juniors and seniors, there are numerous online assessments designed to help connect their skills, interests, and temperament to a number of possible careers. Some to consider include:</p> <ul> <li><a href="http://www.youscience.com/">YouScience</a>;</li> <li><a href="https://careerdirect-ge.org/">Career Direct;</a></li> <li><a href="https://www.mymajors.com/">MyMajors.</a></li> </ul> <p>Knowing what you want to study can help you avoid the five or six-year college plan and its associated costs.</p> <h3>2. Take a Gap Year</h3> <p>Taking a year off in between high school and college has been a popular practice in Europe for many years and is rapidly growing in popularity in the U.S. So much so that there is now a <a href="http://www.americangap.org/index.php">gap year association</a> as well as <a href="http://www.interimprograms.com/">consulting organizations</a> that help families (for a fee) determine whether a gap year makes sense for their children, and if so, how to best structure the gap year. Some schools will accept students and then allow them to defer enrollment for a year. The University of North Carolina even offers a <a href="http://admissions.unc.edu/explore/enrich-your-education/global-gap-year-fellowship/">global gap year fellowship</a>.</p> <p>A gap year can be used to earn money for college or explore career interests. Either way, it can help lessen the need for loans. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-money-moves-students-should-make-during-a-gap-year?ref=seealso">8 Money Moves Students Should Make During a Gap Year</a>)</p> <h2>After You Borrow</h2> <p>If you have already taken out loans to pay for college, here are two practical steps for minimizing the burden of such borrowing.</p> <h3>3. Create a Post-College Budget</h3> <p>Numerous surveys have found that students with education loans have little idea what they've gotten themselves into.</p> <p>A recent survey by Lendedu, a company that helps students refinance their education loans, found less than 10% of student borrowers understood how long it would take to pay off their loans or what interest rate they were being charged. Less than 30% understood that if they fail to repay on time, the government could garnish their wages or withhold their tax refunds.</p> <p>A couple of years ago, a study by the Brookings Institute found that among first-year students who had students loans, 17% said they didn't realize they even <em>had</em> loans.</p> <p>If you're going to borrow, you need to know <em>that </em>you owe, <em>what</em> you owe, and what it's going to take to repay. One of the best reality checks is to calculate the monthly cost of your loan payment while you're still in school. Then create a detailed post-college budget using a monthly <a href="http://www.mattaboutmoney.com/resources/">Cash Flow Plan</a> form.</p> <p>Creating a budget that includes student loan payments may motivate you to avoid taking on more debt. At very least, it'll help you understand how much you can afford for housing and other expenses after you graduate and may persuade you to avoid taking on other debts, such as a car loan.</p> <h3>4. Prioritize Accelerated Repayment</h3> <p>Under a standard loan contract, a student loan is to be paid off in 10 years. But you don't have to take that long, and the sooner you can be done with debt, the better. Especially since there are no penalties for paying off a student loan early, commit now putting your debt on an accelerated payoff schedule.</p> <p>The monthly cost calculator mentioned above enables you to run some what-if scenarios based on adding different amounts on top of your required payments. Seeing how much more quickly you could be out of debt may motivate you to live well beneath your means after graduating in order to prioritize accelerated debt repayment.</p> <p>Today, the burden of student loans is causing many young people to delay getting married, put off starting a family, and give up on buying a home. But it doesn't have to be that way for you.</p> <p>Whether you're a high-school student who's just thinking about college financing options or a college student who has already taken on debt, these simple steps should help you keep student loans from taking over your life.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/matt-bell">Matt Bell</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-stop-student-loans-from-ruining-your-life">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-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/4-ways-to-make-the-most-of-your-student-loan-grace-period">4 Ways to Make the Most of Your Student Loan Grace Period</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-unique-ways-millennials-are-dealing-with-student-loan-debt">7 Unique Ways Millennials Are Dealing With Student Loan Debt</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-trumps-presidency-might-change-student-loans">How Trump&#039;s Presidency Might Change Student Loans</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/3-private-lenders-that-can-really-save-you-money-on-your-student-loans">3 Private Lenders That Can Really Save You Money on Your Student Loans</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-ways-to-get-student-loan-debt-forgiveness">8 Ways to Get Student Loan Debt Forgiveness</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Debt Management Education & Training bills borrowing budgeting college degree gap year loan repayment planning school student loans Tue, 11 Oct 2016 09:30:21 +0000 Matt Bell 1810486 at http://www.wisebread.com 8 Times Cash Is Not King http://www.wisebread.com/8-times-cash-is-not-king <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/8-times-cash-is-not-king" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/ben_franklin_money_74660439.jpg" alt="Learning when cash is not king" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>It's often said that using cash can be a powerful way to control spending and avoid debt. But cash can be highly overrated. It doesn't grow much in value, it's annoying to carry, and it's hard to track.</p> <p>Here are some times when cash is not all it's cracked up to be.</p> <h2>1. When Interest Rates Are Historically Low</h2> <p>It makes sense to build up an emergency fund of three to six months' worth of living expenses. But when interest rates are super low, like they have been in recent years, any additional cash isn't going to do much for you. Why sit on a pile of cash earning a paltry interest rate and merely racing against inflation, when you can invest and earn a much healthier return? Even billionaire investors like Warren Buffett agree. In a 2014 letter to Berkshire Hathaway shareholders, he wrote that over the long term, cash is actually a riskier investment than stocks, due to the potential of inflation wiping away any gains.</p> <h2>2. When a Company Has Too Much of It On Hand</h2> <p>A company with cash is not necessarily a bad thing, but investors can get ornery when there's too much. If you're a shareholder, you want to see that cash returned to you in the form of a dividend, used for acquisitions or stock buybacks, or reinvested to grow the company's businesses. Apple, which consistently has more than $100 billion in cash on hand, began issuing dividends after facing criticism from investors.</p> <h2>3. When You Want to Track Each Dollar You Spend</h2> <p>For those looking to curb spending and stay out of debt, using cash can be the way to go, as you can only spend what you have in your wallet. The downside, however, is that it's harder to keep meticulous records of everything you've purchased. A big part of money management is understanding your spending patterns, and it's easier to track purchases when you use a credit or debit card and receive statements, either online or on paper. Using cards also makes it easier to use online tools like Mint.com, which can categorize your spending and help you create budgets. Unless you are very conscientious about saving receipts or writing down each purchase, using cash won't help you understand your spending habits.</p> <h2>4. When You Are Traveling</h2> <p>There are some advantages to using cash when on a trip. Cash can be used to tip cabdrivers and bellhops, and is handy for when you shop or eat at places that do not take credit cards. Using cash in a foreign country can also help you avoid fees on debit and credit cards, and it's good to have some for an emergency. But cash is not replaceable. If you lose your wallet with hundreds of dollars in it, you're usually up a creek. And using cash won't get you any reward points on things like hotels, rental cars, or restaurants. Additionally, if you are traveling to multiple foreign countries, it's annoying to accumulate sums of foreign currency that you'll have to exchange back once you get home.</p> <h2>5. When You Loan Someone Money</h2> <p>Cash doesn't leave a record. That's great if you're Walter White and need to launder some money. But if someone borrows money from you, it's best to write a check, or use an electronic transfer that leaves a record. You may be unable to collect a debt if you have no proof that you lent someone money in the first place.</p> <h2>6. When You Get Paid</h2> <p>There may come a time in your life when someone offers to pay you &quot;under the table.&quot; This means that the employer is simply giving you cash for work without consideration of paying taxes. In theory, you can make more money if an employer doesn't pay payroll taxes, but it's also illegal in most cases.</p> <p>When you are paid in cash, you lose out on certain protections and benefits. You have no access to retirement benefits, for example. There's no record of your employment, which means you'd be unable to collect unemployment benefits if you lose your job. A person paid in cash would also not be eligible for disability or workers' compensation benefits. And if they're not paying payroll and other taxes, it can be illegal, which we entirely urge you to avoid.</p> <h2>7. When You Are the IRS or Law Enforcement</h2> <p>According to The Wall Street Journal, the use of cash to evade taxes costs the federal government about $500 billion in revenue annually. Cash, the newspaper notes, helps facilitate &quot;racketeering, extortion, money laundering, drug and human trafficking, the corruption of public officials, not to mention terrorism.&quot; Cash is super for those who are up to no good, but a nightmare for those looking to catch the bad guys.</p> <h2>8. When You Can Use an App</h2> <p>I was out to dinner with friends recently and we needed to split the check. Some of us had no cash. Some did, but only in big bills. It was a nightmare. Luckily, we were able to settle things by using smartphone apps that allow you to transfer money with little more than an email address. Apps such as PayPal and Venmo prevent the need to carry lots of cash, and can even prevent you from stiffing your friends with too much of a dinner bill.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/tim-lemke">Tim Lemke</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-times-cash-is-not-king">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/47-simple-ways-to-waste-money">47 Simple Ways To Waste Money</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-spending-too-much-on-halloween-this-year">Are You Spending Too Much on Halloween This Year?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/15-personal-finance-rules-you-should-be-breaking">15 Personal Finance Rules You Should Be Breaking</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/sensible-ways-to-raise-cash-for-a-wedding">Sensible Ways to Raise Cash for a Wedding</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dont-buy-it-now-on-ebay-without-using-livecom-cashback">DON&#039;T Buy It Now on eBay without using Live.com cashback</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance Investment Shopping borrowing budgeting cash loaning money racketeering spending taxes tracking under the table Thu, 15 Sep 2016 09:00:05 +0000 Tim Lemke 1793093 at http://www.wisebread.com Using Your Roth IRA as an Emergency Fund — Ever a Good Idea? http://www.wisebread.com/using-your-roth-ira-as-an-emergency-fund-ever-a-good-idea <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/using-your-roth-ira-as-an-emergency-fund-ever-a-good-idea" 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_73354919.jpg" alt="Woman using Roth IRA as emergency fund" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>You know you need an emergency fund, that pool of savings that you can dip into to cover the costs of replacing everything from a burst water heater to your car's blown transmission. But does it ever make sense to use a Roth IRA as that emergency fund?</p> <p>The short answer? It might. If you're careful about your withdrawals.</p> <p>You usually think about Roth IRAs as retirement vehicles. But with a Roth IRA, you can also withdraw from your <em>contributions </em>at any time without penalty, even if you are younger than 59 &frac12;. That's because you've already paid taxes on your contributions.</p> <h2>No Penalties From Contribution Withdrawals</h2> <p>Because of this quirk, a <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-reasons-why-a-roth-ira-may-be-better-than-your-401k" target="_blank">Roth IRA can work as an emergency fund</a> <em>and</em> retirement fund at the same time. You make your yearly deposits &mdash; for 2016, you can contribute a maximum of $5,500 every year into a Roth IRA (unless you are 50 or older, in which case you can contribute a maximum of $6,500 a year) &mdash; and watch that money grow as you near retirement. But if an expensive emergency comes up, you can withdraw the funds you need, as long as what you are withdrawing is coming from the money you contributed to your Roth IRA, and not from the dollars that those contributions have earned.</p> <h2>You'll Pay for Earnings Withdrawals</h2> <p>In other words, withdrawing your contributions is never penalized. Withdrawing from your Roth IRA's earnings, though, will leave you with a penalty and a tax hit. If you withdraw the money that your Roth IRA has earned before you hit the age of 59 &frac12; &mdash; aside from a few special circumstances &mdash; you'll not only pay taxes on those dollars, you'll also have to pay a penalty of 10% of whatever you withdraw.</p> <p>Say you withdraw $2,000 worth of earnings on your Roth IRA before you turn 59 &frac12;. Not only will you have to pay taxes on that money, you'll also have to pay a penalty of $200.</p> <p>Fortunately, it's not easy to withdraw your earnings too early. You'll have to request the withdrawal from your brokerage, mutual fund, or bank. These financial institutions will know if your withdrawal request is high enough to cut into your earnings. If this does happen, it's best to find an alternative source of funds, unless you are not bothered by the idea of paying extra taxes or an additional penalty.</p> <h2>The Annual Cap Means You Can't Pay It Back</h2> <p>There is another disadvantage to using a Roth IRA as an emergency fund. Say you withdraw $2,500 to buy a new furnace. You can still only contribute your maximum to your Roth IRA each year.</p> <p>If you can only contribute $5,500 each year, you can't make up for that $2,500 withdrawal by contributing $7,000 instead. This could slow the pace of your retirement savings.</p> <p>You'll also need to be careful with your investments if you plan on using your Roth IRA as an emergency fund. You should place your money in safer, more conservative investment vehicles such as CDs and bonds. That way, the odds are greater that more of your money will be available in case of a financial emergency.</p> <p>Whether you use a Roth IRA, a traditional savings account, or some other savings vehicle as your emergency fund, one factor doesn't change: You need to build and maintain that fund. How much money you need in your emergency fund varies, but most financial experts recommend that you have at least six months of daily living expenses saved up. More, of course, is even better.</p> <p><em>Have you ever pulled money from a Roth IRA to cover an emergency? Would You?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dan-rafter">Dan Rafter</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/using-your-roth-ira-as-an-emergency-fund-ever-a-good-idea">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/15-retirement-terms-every-new-investor-needs-to-know">15 Retirement Terms Every New Investor Needs to Know</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-emergency-fund-myths-you-should-stop-believing">6 Emergency Fund Myths You Should Stop Believing</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-money-moves-you-will-always-be-thankful-for">7 Money Moves You Will Always Be Thankful For</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-steps-to-starting-a-retirement-plan-in-your-30s">8 Steps to Starting a Retirement Plan in Your 30s</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-ways-to-strengthen-your-finances-before-retirement">5 Ways to Strengthen Your Finances Before Retirement</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance Retirement borrowing contributions emergency funds Roth IRA savings withdrawals Thu, 16 Jun 2016 09:30:21 +0000 Dan Rafter 1731947 at http://www.wisebread.com 6 Ways Life is Wonderful When You're Debt-Free http://www.wisebread.com/6-ways-life-is-wonderful-when-youre-debt-free <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/6-ways-life-is-wonderful-when-youre-debt-free" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_carefree_smile_000074865831.jpg" alt="Woman learning ways life is wonderful when debt-free" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Some people think debt is the norm rather than the exception. To each his own. Just know that this type of mindset can become dangerous, especially if you develop the habit of financing anything and everything.</p> <p>Credit cards and other loans can put what you want within financial reach, but a life without debt can be rewarding. Here are six ways life is frickin' awesome when you're not burdened by a negative net worth.</p> <h2>1. You Have the Freedom to Work Less</h2> <p>The more debt you have, the more you have to work to keep up with monthly payments. Whether it's a house payment, a car payment, or credit cards, debt holds your freedom hostage and keeps you stuck in a career or job you don't like. Think of how great life could be if you had fewer bills. Rather than working a 40- or 50-hour week, you might get by working only 20 or 30 hours a week. With fewer financial pressures, you can quit a high-stress job and find satisfying work, although you might earn less.</p> <h2>2. You Can Retire While You're Still Young</h2> <p>Even if you know the importance of early retirement planning, debt can limit how much you stash for the future. Eliminating needless debt and reducing monthly expenses frees up disposable cash, allowing you to grow your retirement account faster. A sizable account might be the difference between working into your 60s and retiring young while you're still healthy and energetic. And that's not even considering how good the &quot;everybody envies me&quot; factor is gonna feel.</p> <h2>3. You Can Finally Have a &quot;Real&quot; Savings Account</h2> <p>Not only can debt-free living boost your retirement account, there's also an opportunity to grow your personal fund. Imagine what you could do with a &quot;real&quot; savings account. I'm not talking about $500 or $1,000, but rather tens of thousands of dollars. This is money that can be used for an emergency, home improvements, investments, or a good time. You can take a much-needed (and deserved; do you, boo!) vacation or deal with home repairs without relying on a credit card.</p> <p>If you're struggling to build your personal account, be honest and consider whether your lack of savings has anything to do with debt payments eating up your extra cash. If you could eliminate $1,000 a month in debt payments (between credit cards, student loans, and automobile loans), you could save $12,000 in just one year.</p> <h2>4. You Will Become a Smarter Spender</h2> <p>I've learned something from my own experience with debt: It is easier to accumulate new debt when I already have debt. Whenever I have a zero balance on my credit card, I'm more cautious and conscious of how I spend my money and use the card. I'll second-guess or rethink the smallest purchases. It doesn't matter if it's only $5 or $10, I'll wait until I have cash to avoid using the card. But the moment I give in and use the card, I stop second-guessing myself and I continue using the card.</p> <p>I've had debt discussions with others and found that some people feel the same. Maybe it's just our experiences, or maybe there's a connection between existing debt and new debt. Either way, <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-fastest-method-to-eliminate-credit-card-debt">getting rid of debt</a> can make you more aware of your spending habits. Debt elimination can be a long process. Reflecting on the effort it took to become debt free (and the benefits) is motivation to remain debt free.</p> <h2>5. You Will Experience Less Financial Anxiety</h2> <p>Debt keeps you enslaved to a bank. And sometimes, the amount you owe can heighten your anxiety level. This might be the case if payments stretch your budget beyond a comfortable limit. If you get into hot water, you could lie awake worrying about late payments, a damaged credit score, or collection calls. On the other hand, when you live within your means and don't rely on financing, you enjoy an inner calm and better financial security. When you own your stuff outright, you don't have to worry about anybody taking your items, unless, of course, you fail to pay taxes on your home or car. Then, well, you better hide.</p> <h2>6. You Don't Have to Pay to Borrow</h2> <p>One of the best things about avoiding debt is that you avoid interest. Interest is the cost of borrowing, and most banks charge some form of interest when you take out a loan or use a credit card. The longer you carry the balance, the more interest you pay, which can add up to hundreds or thousands of dollars depending on the amount financed.</p> <p>Borrowers with superb credit may qualify for <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-best-credit-cards-with-0-apr-for-purchases">0% financing</a> for furniture, credit cards, or automobiles. But these promotions are short-lived and only beneficial if you pay off the balance during the introductory rate period. If not, interest kicks in. In the case of financing furniture, if you miss a payment or don't pay off the balance during the promotion period, you could end up paying retroactive interest. All this equates to extra money you're spending for which you have nothing to show. A fool's game, for sure. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/when-to-do-a-balance-transfer-to-pay-off-credit-card-debt?ref=seealso">When to Use a 0% Balance Transfer to Pay Off Credit Card Debt</a>)</p> <p><em>What would you do if you were debt free? Travel? Retire? Throw the party to end all parties? Let's talk about it 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/6-ways-life-is-wonderful-when-youre-debt-free">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-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/beyond-debt-free-getting-by-in-the-new-economy">Beyond Debt-Free: Getting By in the New Economy</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/goal-setting-getting-out-of-debt-once-and-for-all">Goal Setting: Getting Out of Debt Once and For All</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/ask-these-4-important-questions-before-signing-any-loan">Ask These 4 Important Questions Before Signing Any Loan</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-7-best-credit-card-debt-elimination-strategies">The 7 Best Credit Card Debt Elimination Strategies</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-stop-student-loans-from-ruining-your-life">How to Stop Student Loans From Ruining Your Life</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Debt Management Lifestyle borrowing debt free early retirement financial freedom net worth savings Tue, 19 Apr 2016 10:30:10 +0000 Mikey Rox 1691580 at http://www.wisebread.com How to Find Ethically Sourced Products You Can Afford http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-find-ethically-sourced-products-you-can-afford <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-to-find-ethically-sourced-products-you-can-afford" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/women_clothes_shopping_000049977904.jpg" alt="Women finding ethically sourced goods they can afford" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>I think that most of us are appalled every time the issues of slavery and trafficking come up in the news. We know that people around the world are working under terrible conditions, often to produce goods that we buy cheaply and use or wear regularly.</p> <p>We know this is a problem, but we feel helpless to solve it.</p> <p>Sure, we know we can buy ethically sourced items, but that's a daunting task, especially when we see and hear how much extra it can cost us to purchase these items. And then we have to <em>find </em>them... it's enough to make most people give up.</p> <p>It's unfortunate that most people don't know just how easy it is to stop supporting slavery and trafficking, and that it doesn't have to cost any more than you would usually spend.</p> <h2>1. Visit a Thrift Store</h2> <p>Most people don't realize that the easiest (and often cheapest) way to stop supporting slavery with our purchases is to <a href="http://daniellelvermeer.com/blog/how-to-buy-ethical-fashion-on-a-budget">buy used goods</a>. Now, before you say it, I know that all of the items at a thrift store are not, in themselves, ethically sourced items. But (and that's a big but), when you buy used, you are stopping the cycle of buying inexpensive goods, not using them up, and instead discarding and buying more. In fact, you are making it so that fewer inexpensive items need to be made which, over time, could lead to fewer of those awful factory situations.</p> <p>Thrift stores can be sources for more than just clothing. I know people who have gotten fabric, dinnerware, appliances, and even furniture via thrifting.</p> <h2>2. Utilize Flash Sale Sites</h2> <p>You know those websites that offer clothing deals until an item is gone? Those can be great resources for buying ethically sourced items. You will need to do some research before you hop on some of these sites and buy something, but a little poking around should help you know which brands are safe when it comes to working conditions. Some sites will actually label clothing from certain manufacturers as ethically sourced or made in America.</p> <p>Not sure where to start? Try <a href="http://www.zulily.com/">Zulily</a>, <a href="http://purecitizen.com/">PureCitizen</a>, and <a href="http://www.fab.com">Fab</a>.</p> <h2>3. Buy American</h2> <p>One great way to make sure you are buying items where workers were paid an ethical wage and had decent working conditions is to buy goods made in America or Canada. Because of the labor laws in those countries, it's almost guaranteed that workers are not slaves and, in fact, are compensated fairly for their time.</p> <p>Not all American goods are cheaper than the unethical imports, but, because you reduce the shipping and transportation costs, these items can sometimes be priced competitively with the cheap, unethically sourced items we are used to.</p> <h2>4. Participate in Swaps</h2> <p>There are all sorts of ways to get involved in clothing swaps. You can usually find a Facebook swap group in your area through a simple search, or you can set one up with some friends. The idea, again, is that wearing used items helps you step out of the vicious cycles that encourage slavery and poor working conditions.</p> <p>To set up a swap, start by finding some friends who are about your size (this is important unless the swap group is large). Set a date, and have everyone bring items that they no longer want. Then &quot;shop&quot; through each other's clothes. Everyone is almost sure to find at least one or two things that will work for them. If all of the clothing finds a new home, great! If it doesn't, donate it to a <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/my-5-best-thrift-store-finds-of-all-time" target="_blank">local thrift store</a>.</p> <h2>5. Co-Purchase Some Large Items</h2> <p>Sometimes, there's not really a way around buying unethical goods. I'm thinking specifically about technology, appliances, and some household items. If you need to make a large purchase and you can't find a way to make it ethical, try to find someone who you could share the item with. This means that you would buy one of the item, rather than two, thus reducing the number of items that need to be made.</p> <p>I have some friends who have made this work with a printer. The live on a cul-de-sac, and went in on the purchase with the neighbors on either side. The printer lives at their house, but everyone has access to the Wi-Fi network it's on. When someone needs to print, they send the document to the printer and pick it up when they can. A scheme like this could work for things like lawnmowers and other pricey, rarely used tools, and so much more!</p> <h2>6. Set Up a Borrowing System</h2> <p>I think the idea of borrowing and lending makes a lot of us nervous. I know I feel that way! If I lend something, I wonder if I'll ever give it back. And if I borrow, I worry about returning it in the same condition, etc. But, when it comes to ethics, borrowing is a great way to, once again, step out of the consumeristic cycles that support low wages and poor working conditions.</p> <p>Try starting a lending group with people you trust. Talk it over, and decide how you want it to work. If you're borrowing and lending clothes, take some time to get a feel for what the other person has. If you're thinking about borrowing and lending kitchen appliances, tour each other's homes. Set up some rules so that everyone is comfortable with the situation. Then, when you want something that you know your friend has, put the system you set up into use.</p> <p>Some folks I know do this with yard equipment. One family owns a lawn mower, another a snow blower, and another an edger. They rotate these items around so that everyone has a nice yard in the summer and clear pathways in the winter.</p> <p><em>How do you buy or use ethically sourced good without breaking the bank? Would you recommend your methods?</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/how-to-find-ethically-sourced-products-you-can-afford">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/10-stores-with-the-best-price-matching">10 Stores With the Best Price Matching</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-frugal-skills-you-need-to-survive-black-friday">8 Frugal Skills You Need to Survive Black Friday</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-ways-to-score-a-black-friday-deal-without-leaving-home">6 Ways to Score a Black Friday Deal Without Leaving Home</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-smart-ways-to-save-on-a-wedding-dress">7 Smart Ways to Save on a Wedding Dress</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-5-best-thrift-store-finds-of-all-time">My 5 Best Thrift Store Finds of All Time</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Shopping borrowing deals ethically-sourced fair trade made in america retail secondhand thrift stores Wed, 06 Apr 2016 09:30:29 +0000 Sarah Winfrey 1682553 at http://www.wisebread.com The 7 Debt Payoffs That Boost Your Credit Score the Most http://www.wisebread.com/the-7-debt-payoffs-that-boost-your-credit-score-the-most <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/the-7-debt-payoffs-that-boost-your-credit-score-the-most" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/happy_man_computer_000083101755.jpg" alt="Man finding debt payoffs that boost his credit score the most" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Your credit score can be a baffling thing. Your score goes up, it goes down, and it's not always clear what is responsible for the movement.</p> <p>If you have a FICO credit score that is too low, there are some ways to improve your score by tackling your debts head on. But it helps to have a plan, as not all debt payoffs will help you. In fact, credit bureaus like to see people who have some revolving debt but are still capable of paying their bills.</p> <p>So how can you give your credit score a boost? Here are the kinds of payoffs that will be helpful.</p> <h2>1. Anything That's on Time</h2> <p>Nothing helps your credit score more than your ability to make payments on time. If you can pay off your credit card balance in full each month, that helps. If you make your monthly mortgage payment every month without delay, that's <em>huge</em>. In fact, these types of payments are viewed more positively by credit bureaus than any other factor.</p> <h2>2. Debt With the Highest Interest Rates</h2> <p>Cards with the highest interest rates are the ones that place you at the most risk of racking up more debt, thus hurting your credit score. By <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/when-to-do-a-balance-transfer-to-pay-off-credit-card-debt">paying these cards off first</a>, you are reducing your debt risk and ultimately will see your score rise. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-best-low-interest-rate-credit-cards?ref=seealso">Credit Cards with the Best APRs</a>)</p> <h2>3. Credit Cards With the Lowest Credit Limits<strong> </strong></h2> <p>Credit card bureaus will not only analyze your total debt, but the amount of debt relative to your total limit. If your debt is low relative to what you are allowed to borrow, that's good. But if you're close to maxing out a credit card with a low limit, pay that one off first. This way, if you choose to close the credit card, your debt load is reduced but your limit doesn't shrink as much.</p> <h2>4. Anything That Gets Your Credit Utilization Under 30%</h2> <p>Just because credit card companies let you borrow up to a certain amount doesn't mean you should always charge up to the limit. Even if you pay credit cards on time, your credit score can be negatively impacted if you have high revolving balance. Generally speaking, if you are using more than 30% of your available credit, that's a problem. So even if you can't get your balance down to zero, work to make sure you're borrowing less than <em>a</em> <em>third </em>of what you are allowed. You will continue to see improvement until your <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/this-one-ratio-is-the-key-to-a-good-credit-score">credit utilization</a> is down to 10% or less.</p> <h2>5. Your Student Loans (But Not Always)</h2> <p>Paying off your student loans is <em>usually </em>a good thing, because you're reducing your debt-to-income ratio. And because student debt is not dischargeable in bankruptcy, your wages could be garnished if you don't pay up. The fact that you have a long history of making your loan payments on time will continue to help your score, even after the debt is paid. But it's worth noting a debt payoff in this case <em>could </em>result in a change to your debt mix, thus impacting your score negatively. Student loans are considered installment loans, because you pay a fixed amount each month, while credit cards are a vehicle for revolving debt. Credit bureaus like to see both types in your file.</p> <h2>6. Small Balances on Numerous Credit Cards</h2> <p>You may think your credit score should be fine if you have only small debts. But if those small debts are on multiple credit cards, your score may be suffering. One of the things that FICO looks at when evaluating credit is how many credit cards have balances. So if you have debt on more than one card &mdash; even if it's a small amount &mdash; it's best to get those card balances down to zero.</p> <h2>7. Any Past-Due Bills</h2> <p>If you have debts that are very late, it's best to still pay back what you owe. This may not ultimately boost your credit score significantly right away, according to FICO, but new lenders will still want to see that you paid back what was owed. Prioritize the most recent past-due bills first.</p> <p><em>How do you prioritize debt repayment?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/tim-lemke">Tim Lemke</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-7-debt-payoffs-that-boost-your-credit-score-the-most">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-moves-to-make-if-your-loan-gets-denied">5 Moves to Make If Your Loan Gets Denied</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/your-bad-credit-isnt-the-end-of-the-world">Your Bad Credit Isn&#039;t the End of the World</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/avoid-these-5-common-mistakes-while-rebuilding-your-credit">Avoid These 5 Common Mistakes While Rebuilding Your Credit</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-apps-that-monitor-your-credit-for-you">7 Apps That Monitor Your Credit 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/5-after-the-holidays-moves-your-credit-score-will-thank-you-for">5 After the Holidays Moves Your Credit Score Will Thank You For</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance bills borrowing credit score credit utilization ratio debt fico Wed, 23 Mar 2016 10:30:04 +0000 Tim Lemke 1677888 at http://www.wisebread.com 5 Big Ticket Wedding Items You Should Borrow Instead of Buy http://www.wisebread.com/5-big-ticket-wedding-items-you-should-borrow-instead-of-buy <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5-big-ticket-wedding-items-you-should-borrow-instead-of-buy" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/newlywed_couple_000042336338.jpg" alt="Married couple finding wedding items to borrow instead of buy" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Getting fed up with the high ticket prices on wedding items? Zero out a few fields in your wedding budget and &quot;borrow&quot; them instead.</p> <p>See also:&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-smart-ways-to-save-on-a-wedding-dress?ref=seealso">7 Smart Ways to Save on a Wedding Dress</a></p> <h2>1. The Altar, Arch, or Canopy</h2> <p>This is an item everyone wants, until they remember how it's totally useless after the wedding. Building your own structure is awesome if you're handy, but why not borrow one? Try asking your officiant, venue, or your religious institution if they already have some materials you can use. For my wedding, our Rabbi already had the elements for a simple chuppah, so we used that instead of buying or renting an expensive one.</p> <p>If you are getting married outdoors, find a nearby tree. A tree is not only the perfect backdrop and canopy in one, but it's a great symbol for the family you are making.</p> <h2>2. The Live Band or DJ</h2> <p>Instead of hiring a DJ, why not make the music a fun activity for your guests in anticipation of your wedding? Make a form on your wedding site asking guests what song they want to move their bodies to on the dance floor. You (or your Best Man or Maid of Honor) can gather up all the answers to form one epic playlist. Have your coordinator hit play at the start of the reception and let the good times roll.</p> <p>Really have your heart set on a live band? If you are friends with musicians, try asking them to play for a portion of your wedding as their gift to you. Of course, they are working, too, so it may not be fair to keep them from enjoying the full night of festivities. Talk to your friends and family musicians to see how they can be a part of your wedding and enjoy it, too.</p> <h2>3. The Table Decor</h2> <p>From bunting to centerpieces, this is a factor of every wedding budget that tends to spiral out of control. A few ideas to borrow...</p> <ul> <li>Looked at the florist's quote and cried? Instead of buying their labor, try having the mothers of the family gather flowers from their homes in mismatched vases to use as table dressings.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Bored of flowers and want something unique? Borrow framed family photos from all sides of the family and place them as table centerpieces with a few small tealights from the Dollar Store.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Borrow old books from your parents' bookshelves. Pick some ones that mean a lot to you to stack as a cute, nerdy centerpiece.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Looking for old decor that you don't have to DIY? Try asking your local department store when they will discard their window displays. Anthropologie tends to take theirs down every month.</li> </ul> <h2>4. The Getaway Car</h2> <p>Every couple wants a cool way to leave their reception, but trying to book a Batmobile or a vintage Rolls Royce can mean the difference between being on budget and having to cut down your honeymoon. Ask around! You probably have a relative or friend of a friend with a cool ride (or a connection to one). Leave in something authentic and cool, instead of paying hundreds for a rental that someone else will have to return for you the next day.</p> <h2>5. The Photography</h2> <p>While it's awesome to have a professional photographer following you all day, it's simply not in the cards for everyone. Lots of couples are saving room in the wedding budget by going the guest-sourced photography route. All your friends and family are eager to snap photos of the big day already, so encourage them to get their Instagrams ready. A great way to include guest photography can be through a game or scavenger hunt for people or details, like with the <a href="https://ceremonyapp.com/">Ceremony app</a>. Just be clear about when it is okay to ambush the couple for photos.</p> <p>The wedding goes by fast, so the most beautiful part is seeing your wedding through the eyes of all your friends and family just days later. Remember to make a Dropbox or Flickr account for everyone to add their memories.</p> <p><em>What else should couples borrow for wedding day?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/amanda-meadows">Amanda Meadows</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-big-ticket-wedding-items-you-should-borrow-instead-of-buy">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-have-a-great-wedding-if-you-havent-saved-enough">How to Have a Great Wedding if You Haven&#039;t Saved Enough</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-ways-millennials-are-changing-marriage">4 Ways Millennials Are Changing Marriage</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-things-americans-spend-too-much-on">5 Things Americans Spend Too Much On</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-money-moves-to-make-the-moment-you-decide-to-get-married">5 Money Moves to Make the Moment You Decide to Get Married</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/3-things-that-always-always-go-over-budget">3 Things That Always, Always Go Over-Budget</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Frugal Living borrowing decorations DJ flowers marriage music photography weddings Mon, 22 Feb 2016 10:30:27 +0000 Amanda Meadows 1659838 at http://www.wisebread.com 8 Signs You've Crossed From "Healthy" Debt to "Problem" Debt http://www.wisebread.com/8-signs-youve-crossed-from-healthy-debt-to-problem-debt <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/8-signs-youve-crossed-from-healthy-debt-to-problem-debt" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/money_tied_up_000012430983.jpg" alt="Learning signs you&#039;ve crossed from healthy debt to problem debt" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>We here at Wise Bread generally preach that all debt is bad &mdash; but there is such a thing as a healthy level of debt. Most people can get by with a modest amount of debt, especially if it's for constructive things like college or a mortgage, which can help you build wealth long term. Debt becomes a problem, however, when it reaches a certain magnitude or is wrapped up in credit cards or other unnecessary, high-interest loans.</p> <p>Here are some signs your debt level has crossed from healthy to problematic.</p> <h2>1. Your Debt-to-Equity Ratio Is Holding You Back</h2> <p>Lenders, especially those offering mortgage loans, will often evaluate loan candidates based on a measure of debt versus income. People with a higher ratio of debt to equity are often denied the ability to borrow more. It's very difficult to get a mortgage loan if your debt-to-equity ratio is above 40%, and many lenders shy away from anything above 30%. People with high ratios are considered less likely to have the ability to repay money they owe. If you find that banks and other lenders are turning you down, it's time to reduce your debt load.</p> <h2>2. Your Debt Is Not in Student Loans or a Mortgage</h2> <p>It's debatable whether there is such a thing as &quot;good&quot; debt, but at the very least, student loans and mortgages can play a role in building wealth over the long term. Credit cards, however, are often what you use to buy &quot;stuff&quot; &mdash; clothes, gadgets, and other items that accumulate in your life and don't build any real value. If you have a <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-tricks-to-consolidating-your-debt-and-saving-money">mountain of debt</a>, and most of it is the result of consumer spending, it's time to recognize that you have a problem.</p> <h2>3. Your Credit Score Is Sinking</h2> <p>Having <em>some </em>amount of debt isn't going to kill your credit score. In fact, it can help it, as long as you've consistently shown you can pay in full. But there's a point at which debt can be too high for credit bureaus to view positively. Order a copy of your credit report &mdash; you can get a copy from each bureau for free once a year &mdash; and check your score. A score above 700 means you're doing well. But lower scores could negatively impact the interest rate if you borrow for a home, a car, or other need. A score that's too low could make it impossible for you to borrow at all. (See also:&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-surprising-ways-to-negatively-affect-your-credit-score?ref=seealso">10 Surprising Ways to Negatively Affect Your Credit Score</a>)</p> <h2>4. You're Maxing Out Those Credit Cards</h2> <p>When you are finding yourself increasingly in the hole due to credit card borrowing, that's a bad sign. Interest rates on credit cards are often very high, so if you can't pay off the balance in full each month, your debt problem only grows. Credit cards have borrowing limits, and you should rarely come close to hitting them. If you're hitting those limits &mdash; or even worse, opening new credit cards to allow for more spending &mdash; that's a sign that your debt problem is severe.</p> <h2>5. You're Not Paying on Time</h2> <p>You can have debt and maintain a solid credit score, as long as you pay your bills when they are due. People see their credit scores decline when they begin paying bills late. <a href="http://www.tkqlhce.com/click-2822544-10809829-1284618439000?sid=lemke-1658760">Credit Karma</a> reports that for people with with fair to excellent credit scores (600 or above), the on-time payment rate was more than 95%. But that dipped to 75% for those with scores between 500 and 599, and 60% for those with scores under 500.</p> <h2>6. You've Considered Ignoring Important Bills</h2> <p>I once had a friend who was struggling with debt to the point that he would consider pushing back or even blowing off payment of his rent, utilities, and other key bills. His feeling was that as long as he wasn't evicted and the lights stayed on, he'd be able to manage. But this is living on the edge and a sign your debt level is absolutely unhealthy.</p> <h2>7. You Have No Emergency Fund</h2> <p>If debt has you stretched so thin that you can't save anything for a rainy day, that's a problem. You may feel like you're getting by okay, but all it takes is one dead heat pump, one surprise medical emergency, or a blown car engine for you to face true financial hardship.</p> <h2>8. It's Hurting Your Relationships</h2> <p>Couples argue about money frequently, even when they're financially stable and have money in the bank. But the carriage of heavy debt can lead to serious strain between your loved ones. If you're constantly arguing about the level of debt that you have, it's not healthy and bears paying down.</p> <p><em>Do you recognize yourself in any of these signs of unhealthy debt?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/tim-lemke">Tim Lemke</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-signs-youve-crossed-from-healthy-debt-to-problem-debt">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/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/ask-these-4-important-questions-before-signing-any-loan">Ask These 4 Important Questions Before Signing Any 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/is-it-ever-okay-to-cosign-a-loan">Is It Ever Okay to Cosign a Loan?</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/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> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Debt Management borrowing credit scores emergency funds equity loans overspending Fri, 19 Feb 2016 10:30:30 +0000 Tim Lemke 1658760 at http://www.wisebread.com 6 Money Questions You Never Have to Answer http://www.wisebread.com/6-money-questions-you-never-have-to-answer <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/6-money-questions-you-never-have-to-answer" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/asking_questions_000020675362.jpg" alt="Determining which money questions you never have to answer" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Talking about money is a cultural taboo for a reason. Not only is money a personal and emotional issue, but it is also a conversational land mine that often makes someone feel uncomfortable and vulnerable.</p> <p>Despite all of this, there are still plenty of Nosy Parkers out there who think nothing of asking intimate money questions of their friends, family, and strangers on the subway.</p> <p>The thing is, unless you are sitting across the desk from a loan officer, an accountant, or an IRS agent, you never have to answer questions about money that make you feel awkward. Here are six of the most common nosy money questions you are likely to encounter, and some suggestions for deflecting your inquisitor.</p> <h2>1. How Much Do You Make?</h2> <p>People ask this question for a number of reasons, from idle curiosity to a desire to size up your entire life based upon your salary. While there are a few legitimate reasons someone might ask you what you earn &mdash; for instance, if the asker is looking to get into your field or planning to ask for a raise &mdash; there are better ways to answer that question without making a friend or colleague uncomfortable. For instance, Glassdoor offers a <a href="https://www.glassdoor.com/Salaries/index.htm">salary comparison tool</a> that can help you understand salary trends in various fields and geographical areas.</p> <p>There is one major caveat to putting the kibosh on this question, however. The fact that we do not discuss compensation in polite company has helped to entrench the gender wage gap. For instance, you may recall <a href="http://us11.campaign-archive1.com/?u=a5b04a26aae05a24bc4efb63e&amp;id=64e6f35176&amp;e=1ba99d671e#wage">Jennifer Lawrence's essay</a> about how shocked she was to discover that her male co-stars in the movie <a href="http://amzn.to/1ZKwcc2">American Hustle</a> made significantly more than she did. The only reason she was aware of the pay discrepancy was because of the Sony email hack.</p> <p>It is for this reason that Jessica Bennett of Time recommends that women &quot;<a href="http://time.com/55582/wage-gap-stop-being-polite-talk-about-your-salary/">simply [talk] about money</a> with a colleague &mdash; or, who knows, maybe a friendly supervisor&hellip;[This] helps determine whether you're being fairly compensated in the first place.&quot;</p> <p>Of course, there is a difference between having an open conversation with a trusted colleague and answering a question like &quot;You're an <em>art therapist</em>? How much do you even<em> make</em>?&quot;</p> <h3>Deflecting This Question</h3> <p>While you do not want to respond with a curt &quot;None of your business,&quot; it is important to remember that your compensation really is no one's business but yours and your employer's. Often, responding lightly &mdash; for instance, by saying &quot;Half of what I'm worth, I'd say,&quot; or by placing your pinky against your mouth and intoning &quot;One <em>million </em>dollars!&quot; can be enough of a diversion for you to change the subject.</p> <h2>2. How Much Did That Cost?</h2> <p>On the surface, this can seem like an innocuous question. The person asking it is often admiring your new car, your cute blouse, or the champagne fountain at your wedding. Asking the price of your item can be an indication that the asker is interested in getting something similar for herself.</p> <p>However, knowing how much you spent on any purchase you have made is not anyone else's business. A lot can go into a purchase, including negotiation, a family and friends discount, or a recent windfall. You are under no obligation to tell anyone who asks that your uncle just started a champagne fountain business and he provided the one for your wedding as a present.</p> <p>As with the question about salary, there are some legitimate reasons to ask this question. For instance, new parents will often swap stories about day care costs and where to get the best deal on baby gear. But even if your questioner has an excellent reason for asking, they do not have to get the information from you. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-money-moments-that-are-awkward-for-everyone?ref=seealso">10 Money Moments That Are Awkward for Everyone</a>)</p> <h3>Deflecting This Question</h3> <p>Instead of answering with how much you spent, tell your questioner where the item came from: &quot;It's from Uncle Bingo's House o' Champagne Fountains. He has great stuff there!&quot; If the questioner is truly interested in getting a similar item, that provides him with the necessary information.</p> <h2>3. Can You Afford That?</h2> <p>This is the ruder version of the question of how much things cost. It means the questioner has made assumptions about your finances, the cost of whatever you are purchasing, and your own ability to do a cost-benefit analysis. Unfortunately, this question often seems to come from a place of concern. The &quot;concerned&quot; friend, classmate, or fellow cocktail party guest can shame your choices while appearing to care about you.</p> <p>The thing is, even if you can't afford it, it's not business of the concerned questioner.</p> <h3>Deflecting This Question</h3> <p>This is the kind of situation that the Southern phrase &quot;Bless your heart&quot; was coined for. <em>Bless your heart</em> is a sweet way of letting someone know that she is an idiot and she needs to butt out. In this case, you can respond by saying, &quot;Bless your heart for worrying about me!&quot; There is pretty much nothing a questioner can say once you've blessed his heart.</p> <h2>4. Do You Get Child Support/Alimony?</h2> <p>For some reason, people will treat divorcing couples as if all boundaries have been shattered, particularly if the couple has children. Asking a single parent or recent divorcé[e] if the ex is ponying up any support is a common line of questioning that is completely inappropriate. Generally, the questioner is indulging curiosity or hoping to judge your ex. There is no need for you to answer this question.</p> <h3>Deflecting This Question</h3> <p>This is the kind of question that is hardest to deflect. Many of the Miss Manners-approved suggestions for redirecting nosy questions do not work with the truly shameless &mdash; which includes anyone asking questions about child support and alimony. I have rarely met someone who was willing to ask such personal questions but stopped short when told, &quot;I prefer not to discuss it.&quot;</p> <p>Ultimately, however, that is the line in the sand that you must draw. It's also a good idea to immediately segue into something else, i.e., &quot;So how about them Baltimore Ravens?&quot;</p> <h2>5. How Much Do You Have in the Bank? (Or, How Much Do You Have Invested?)</h2> <p>In general, the only people who might ask such a question are either clueless, intrusive, or conmen. Unless the person asking is someone you are currently planning to marry, there is no need to even think about answering this one.</p> <h3>Deflecting This Question</h3> <p>For the clueless individuals asking about your net worth, remember that they may be looking for some sort of guidance. You can tell them that numbers are not up for discussion, but that you're happy to talk about your approach to finances if they are interested.</p> <h2>6. Can I Borrow/Have Some Money?</h2> <p>Technically, this is not a question you do not have to answer, since <em>no</em> is a complete answer in and of itself. But it needs to be included on this list because it can be an extremely sticky question, particularly when you simply do not want to give money to the person asking for it.</p> <p>It can be very difficult to turn down money requests, especially if they are coming from family members or long-time friends. However, you need to remember that your money is your own to do with as you see fit.</p> <h3>Deflecting This Question</h3> <p>It may seem reasonable to simply say you cannot afford to give your questioner money, but this adds another layer of stress to the relationship. In that case, you might find your would-be borrower questioning every purchase you make since you said you couldn't afford to help her out.</p> <p>Instead, it's good to be firm but straightforward. For instance, you might say, &quot;I'm not comfortable giving/lending money to people.&quot; Or, you can simply say, &quot;I'm sorry I can't help that way. I have specific plans for my money.&quot;</p> <p>If you want to make sure the would-be borrower knows that you care, you can always follow up by asking if there are other, non-financial ways that you could help.</p> <p><em>Have you ever been asked these &mdash; or other &mdash; questions about money? How did you respond?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/emily-guy-birken">Emily Guy Birken</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-money-questions-you-never-have-to-answer">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/6-celebrities-with-shockingly-low-net-worths">6 Celebrities With Shockingly Low Net Worths</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-money-moments-that-should-be-on-everyones-bucket-list">8 Money Moments That Should Be On Everyone&#039;s Bucket List</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-foolproof-ways-to-protect-your-money-from-inflation">4 Foolproof Ways to Protect Your Money From Inflation</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-times-cash-is-not-king">8 Times Cash Is Not King</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-should-you-say-no-to-those-who-want-to-borrow-money-from-you">When Should You Say No to Those Who Want to Borrow Money from You?</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance alimony borrowing deflecting money questions salary Wed, 27 Jan 2016 16:00:05 +0000 Emily Guy Birken 1643291 at http://www.wisebread.com Ask These 4 Important Questions Before Signing Any Loan http://www.wisebread.com/ask-these-4-important-questions-before-signing-any-loan <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/ask-these-4-important-questions-before-signing-any-loan" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_with_papers_000021456485.jpg" alt="Woman asking important questions before signing any loan" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>You're ready to apply for that big loan, whether it's a mortgage for a new house, student loans to pay for your college education, or a way to finance your first new car. But the debt you take on will be with you for years in the form of regular monthly payments. How can you be certain that you're ready for this financial commitment?</p> <p>Financial experts say it's normal to be nervous before taking on a new loan, no matter what it's for. Still, you can ease some anxiety by asking the right questions before taking on your new responsibility. What you learn might surprise you &mdash; and help you decide whether that loan is really what you need.&nbsp;</p> <h2>1. How Much Do I Really Need to Borrow?</h2> <p>Before applying for any new loan, determine how much you <em>really </em>need to spend. Many times, lenders might offer you the option to take out a larger loan than you actually need. If you're taking out a mortgage, for instance, you might be able to take out a loan for more than what the home is worth, and then use the extra dollars to pay for improvements to the property. (See also:&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ask-yourself-these-5-questions-before-buying-a-home">Ask Yourself These 5 Questions Before Buying a Home</a>)</p> <p>But Andrew Josuweit, chief executive officer of Student Loan Hero, warns borrowers to only take out loans for what they really need.</p> <p>&quot;It can be tempting to take on a larger loan than necessary and have some extra play money,&quot; Josuweit said. &quot;But that extra play money will end up costing you down the line. The larger the loan, the more interest you will pay. Only borrow what you need to avoid paying thousands of dollars in additional interest charges.&quot;</p> <h2>2. Can I Afford My Monthly Payment?</h2> <p>This is the most important question of all: Can you afford to make your monthly payments after taking out a loan? If not, whatever you are borrowing money for will seem like a burden, not a pleasure.</p> <p>A rule of thumb for determining whether a monthly loan payment is in your budget is to calculate your gross monthly income &mdash; your income before taxes are taken out &mdash; and your total monthly housing expenses, including whatever your new loan payment will be. You'll want your housing expenses to total 36% or less of your gross monthly income.</p> <h2>3. How Much Will My Loan Cost Me on Closing Day?</h2> <p>It's also important to determine whether you can afford the closing costs associated with your actual loan. Some loans come with high upfront fees. David Hosterman, branch manager with Castle &amp; Cook Mortgage in Greenwood Village, Colorado, says this is especially true with a mortgage loan. Closing costs for such loans &mdash; everything from property taxes to underwriting fees &mdash; can run thousands of dollars. Can you come up with the money to pay for these, or will you have to roll these costs into your loan, increasing your monthly payment?</p> <p>&quot;Such items as taxes, insurance, and mortgage insurance can have a major impact on a customer's payment,&quot; Hosterman said. &quot;Customers need to make sure these items are explained to them and that the information is provided to them so they can have a clear picture as to what the total payment on the loan would be.&quot;</p> <h2>4. How Much Does This Loan Cost Each Year?</h2> <p>When shopping for loans, consumers too often focus on only the interest rate. This number is important, of course, but what's even more important is something called the annual percentage rate, or APR.</p> <p>This figure tells you how much your loan will cost &mdash; including fees &mdash; over the course of one year, and is a more accurate measure of how much you're really spending on your loan.</p> <p>&quot;APR is the holy grail of loan cost,&quot; said Priyanka Prakash, finance specialist at FitBiz Loans. &quot;You should never commit to a loan without knowing the APR.&quot;</p> <p>Anthony VanDyke, president of ALV Mortgage in Salt Lake City, gives a good example of how important APR is. Say you are taking out a 60-month auto loan for $10,000 and are offered either a loan with an interest rate of 5% and $500 in upfront fees, or one with an interest rate of 7% and no fees. Which loan is better?</p> <p>This isn't easy to discover without knowing the APR. But if you do know the APR, you'll know that the second loan, despite its higher interest rate, is actually cheaper over its lifespan. The first loan choice comes with an APR of 7.124%, while the second loan comes with an APR of just 7%.</p> <p>&quot;The loan with the highest interest rate is actually the cheapest loan option, but most people see the lower interest rate and unwisely choose option A,&quot; VanDyke said.</p> <p><em>Have you borrowed recently? What questions did you ask before signing the paperwork?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dan-rafter">Dan Rafter</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ask-these-4-important-questions-before-signing-any-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-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/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/8-signs-youve-crossed-from-healthy-debt-to-problem-debt">8 Signs You&#039;ve Crossed From &quot;Healthy&quot; Debt to &quot;Problem&quot; Debt</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-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-4 views-row-even"> <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-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/is-it-ever-okay-to-cosign-a-loan">Is It Ever Okay to Cosign a Loan?</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Debt Management affordability borrowing loans monthly payments questions to ask Mon, 18 Jan 2016 14:00:03 +0000 Dan Rafter 1638137 at http://www.wisebread.com 10 Stocks and Bonds That Will Profit From the Fed Rate Hike http://www.wisebread.com/10-stocks-and-bonds-that-will-profit-from-the-fed-rate-hike <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/10-stocks-and-bonds-that-will-profit-from-the-fed-rate-hike" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/interest_rate_increase_000020286301.jpg" alt="Finding stocks and bonds that will profit from the fed rate hike" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>The Federal Reserve finally did what it's been hinting at for some time, and raised the target on its benchmark rate by a quarter of a percentage point. It's the first interest rate hike after spending much of the last decade with interest rates near zero.</p> <p>Interest rates are still going to be historically quite low, but some investments may decline in value in the short term. After all, it's the low interest rate environment that has <em>partly </em>fueled the rise in stock prices in recent years.</p> <p>That said, it's still very possible to profit even as interest rates go up. There are some market sectors that love higher rates, and in general, a rise in rates is a signal from the Fed that the nation's economy is healthy. (See also:&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wisebread.com/this-is-how-much-the-feds-interest-rate-hike-might-cost-you">This Is How Much the Fed's Interest Rate Hike Might Cost You</a>)</p> <p>Here are ten investments that might respond well as interest rates go up.</p> <h2>1. SPDR S&amp;P Regional Bank ETF [<a href="http://finance.yahoo.com/q?s=KRE">NYSE: KRE</a>]</h2> <p>When interest rates rise, small banks do quite well because more people are willing to increase their cash holdings. This ETF counts many strong small banks in its portfolio, including Bank of the Ozarks and Great Western Bancorp. This ETF has seen a return of more than 13% over the last year, suggesting that the anticipation of higher rates may already be baked into the price. But it's still worth buying.</p> <h2>2. Wells Fargo [<a href="http://finance.yahoo.com/q?s=WFC">NYSE: WFC</a>]</h2> <p>If smaller banks aren't your thing, then take a look at some big banks. Billionaire investor Warren Buffett owns more shares of Wells Fargo than any other company. New loans made by the bank will benefit from the higher rates, as will any existing variable rate loans. Other big banks worth a look include US Bancorp and BNY Mellon.</p> <h2>3. Schwab Short-Term U.S. Treasury ETF [<a href="http://finance.yahoo.com/q?s=SCHO">NYSE: SCHO</a>]</h2> <p>The conventional wisdom is that a hike in interest rates make long-term bonds less attractive, but short-term bonds perform well. Consider that the yield on a two-year treasury note hit a year high recently. Charles Schwab reported that during the three periods when the Fed rose rates since 1990, short-term bonds were the only sector that saw increases each time. This ETF from Schwab has some of the lowests fees on the market, so it's likely a good buy if you're interested in fixed income investments. The iShares Short Treasury Bond ETF is also well regarded.</p> <h2>4. Apple [<a href="http://finance.yahoo.com/q?s=AAPL">NYSE: APPL</a>]</h2> <p>It's the biggest company in the world. It has a very healthy balance sheet. In a time of raising rates and general uncertainty, it's good to hang with companies that have solid margins, lots of cash, and low volatility. Any blue chip stock with a long track record of steady growth is a good buy in this environment.</p> <h2>5. Alphabet [<a href="http://finance.yahoo.com/q?s=GOOGL">NYSE: GOOGL</a>]</h2> <p>Another one of the largest and most stable companies in the world, most likely unaffected by a rise in interest rates. Investing in Google's parent company can help keep you insulated from any market uncertainty over the next few months.</p> <h2>6. MetLife [<a href="http://www.google.com/finance?cid=664378">NYSE: MET</a>]</h2> <p>There are few sectors clamoring for an interest rate hike more than life insurers. These companies rely on interest income to boost their margins, so they generally have not been fans of the low interest rate environment. MetLife is the a largest company in this sector. Prudential and New York Life are also worth a look.</p> <h2>7. Accushares VIX Index ETF [<a href="http://finance.yahoo.com/q?s=VXUP">NYSE: VXUP</a>]</h2> <p>It's not entirely clear how the markets will react to the news of the interest rate bump, but most observers predict some amount of volatility in the short term. You can capitalize on that volatility by buying shares of this ETF that is based on the most common volatility index. It's an esoteric product, and I wouldn't invest my life savings into it, but it may be one way to capitalize on investor uncertainty.</p> <h2>8. Starbucks [<a href="http://finance.yahoo.com/q?s=SBUX">NYSE: SBUX</a>]</h2> <p>If the Fed is raising interest rates, it's sending a signal that it believes the economy is in good shape. And a strong economy means people are doing well enough to afford discretionary items, including that morning cup of coffee. Starbucks is a leader in the restaurant/food area, and should benefit from a strong economy overall.</p> <h2>9. Mastercard [<a href="http://www.google.com/finance?cid=299286">NYSE: MA</a>]</h2> <p>Goldman Sachs put this credit card company on its list of &quot;quality&quot; stocks worth buying in advance of a rate hike, and its reasoning is sound. If the economy is strong in the Fed's eyes, then it's strong enough for people to be buying more goods and services. Companies like Mastercard do better when people go shopping.</p> <h2>10. Chipotle Mexican Grill [<a href="http://finance.yahoo.com/q?s=CMG">NYSE: CMG</a>]</h2> <p>Shares of this burrito eatery have tumbled in the last few months, in part due the company being linked to cases of <em>e.coli</em> around the country. But assuming that the cases aren't indicative of a larger problem with the restaurant, this is a well-regarded company with a solid balance sheet. Chipotle shares should be poised for a rebound with the Fed showing confidence in the nation's economy.</p> <p><em>Will your portfolio be helped or hurt by the Fed's recent rate increase?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/tim-lemke">Tim Lemke</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-stocks-and-bonds-that-will-profit-from-the-fed-rate-hike">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/laddering-for-higher-more-stable-returns">Laddering for higher, more stable returns</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-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-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/could-trump-bring-higher-interest-rates-and-inflation-consider-these-money-moves">Could Trump Bring Higher Interest Rates and Inflation? Consider These Money Moves</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-best-ways-to-invest-50-500-or-5000">The Best Ways to Invest $50, $500, or $5000</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-only-8-rules-of-investing-you-need-to-know">The Only 8 Rules of Investing You Need to Know</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Investment bonds borrowing Fed interest rates investing stocks Thu, 17 Dec 2015 12:00:08 +0000 Tim Lemke 1622171 at http://www.wisebread.com Should You Refinance Your Student Loan? http://www.wisebread.com/should-you-refinance-your-student-loan <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/should-you-refinance-your-student-loan" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/000060736594.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>If you're struggling to pay back your student loan debt, you're far from alone. Earlier this year, Edvisors reported that members of the class of 2015 graduated from college owing an average of more than $35,000 in student loans. That's the highest this average has been.</p> <p>You can refinance your existing student loans to ones with lower interest rates. This can help you manage this debt. If your interest rate is lower, your monthly payment will be lower, too. You'll also pay less over the life of your loans, thanks to the lower interest rates.</p> <p>But there may be costs, too. If you're refinancing federal student loans into private loans &mdash; those originated by private banks and financial institutions &mdash; you'll lose the protections and programs that government-sponsored student loans provide. And that can end up hurting you in the long run, even if you lower the interest rates and monthly payments on these loans. Federal loans offer loan forgiveness, deferment, and income-based repayment protections. Most private student loans don't come with these protections.</p> <h2>Loan Forgiveness</h2> <p>If you are employed full-time in an eligible public service or non-profit job and you've made at least 120 on-time payments on your federal student loan, the government will forgive the remainder of your student-loan debt.</p> <p>The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau says that one-fourth of U.S. workers can qualify either for loan forgiveness programs or income-based repayment plans. Consider whether you'd be eligible for loan forgiveness before refinancing with a private lender. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-ways-to-get-student-loan-debt-forgiveness?ref=seealso">8 Ways to Get Student Loan Debt Forgiveness</a>)</p> <h2>Deferment</h2> <p>Federal student loans also come with deferment options, which give you more time before you have to start paying them back.</p> <p>You normally have six months after graduation before you have to start paying on your student-loan debt. But under federal programs, you can apply for additional deferments if you are unemployed, facing economic hardships, or are serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.</p> <p>Some private loans do offer ways to pause payments as well, but be sure you understand all the terms before making the switch. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/3-private-lenders-that-can-really-save-you-money-on-your-student-loans?ref=seealso">3 Private Lenders That Can Really Save Money On Your Student Loans</a>)</p> <h2>Income-Based Repayment</h2> <p>The income-based repayment plan that the government offers for federal student loans can provide immediate relief if you are employed but not earning a high salary. If you are a new borrower on or after July 1 of 2014 who has no balance on a previous federal student loan, your loan payments will be capped at a maximum of 10 percent of what the government calls your discretionary income, the difference between your income and 150 percent of the poverty guideline for your family size and the state in which you live.</p> <p>Those borrowers with especially low incomes might not have to make any student-loan payments at all.</p> <p>If you make these lower payments for 25 years, and you still haven't paid off your student-loan debt, the government will forgive the remainder of what you owe.</p> <p>For more information about these and other assistance programs &ndash; they are too complex to completely sum up in this story &ndash; visit the <a href="https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/repay-loans/understand/plans/income-driven#eligibility">Department of Education</a>. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/which-student-loan-repayment-plan-saves-you-the-most?ref=seealso">Which Student Loan Repayment Plan Saves You the Most?</a>)</p> <h2>Refinancing</h2> <p>If you are interested in <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-s-the-difference-between-student-loan-refinancing-and-consolidation">refinancing your federal student loans</a>, you will have to follow certain steps.</p> <p>As with any loan application, you'll need to prove that you can afford your new monthly payments, even though they'll be lower than your current ones. Usually that means providing lenders with proof of income as well as bank statements.</p> <p>You'll also need a good credit score if you want to qualify for interest rates that are low enough to make refinancing worthwhile. Your credit score will be low if you've missed or been late on payments or if you have run up loads of credit-card debt. You'll struggle to qualify for a refinance if your credit score is under 640 on the FICO scale.</p> <p>Here are some places to consider if you'd like to apply for a refinance.</p> <p><a href="http://sofi.com/wisebread">SoFi</a>: Fixed rates range from 3.50% APR to 7.24% APR and variable rates range from 1.90% APR to 5.20% APR. Loan terms are from five years to 20 years. SoFi offers additional resources and benefits, including unemployment protection and career support.</p> <p><a href="https://commonbond.co/choose-your-loan?referrer=b75172e7076c5472bed5baec5e28309c&amp;referred">CommonBond</a>: Fixed rates range from 3.50% APR to 6.74% APR and variable rates range from 1.95% APR to 4.97% APR. Loan terms start at five years and go up to 20 years. They also allow a temporary pause in payments if you lose your job. In addition to student loans for grads, they also offer refinancing for parents with PLUS loans, and even loans for getting your MBA.</p> <p><a href="https://www.meetearnest.com">Earnest</a>: Fixed rates start at 3.50% APR and variable rates start at 1.90% APR. Earnest allows a lot of flexibility for borrowers, even allowing them to change between fixed and variable rates at no charge. Earnest also looks at additional factors beyond the traditional credit scores and income &mdash; including education, employment history and other details to get a better picture of the borrower.</p> <p><a href="http://lendkey.7eer.net/c/27771/187810/3276">LendKey</a>: Fixed rates start at 3.25% APR and variable rates start at 1.93% APR. LendKey has no origination fees and their loans are funded by community lenders like credit unions and community banks.</p> <p><em>Have you refinanced a student loan?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dan-rafter">Dan Rafter</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/should-you-refinance-your-student-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-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/8-ways-to-get-student-loan-debt-forgiveness">8 Ways to Get Student Loan Debt Forgiveness</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-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-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-unique-ways-millennials-are-dealing-with-student-loan-debt">7 Unique Ways Millennials Are Dealing With Student Loan Debt</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-trumps-presidency-might-change-student-loans">How Trump&#039;s Presidency Might Change Student Loans</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-stop-student-loans-from-ruining-your-life">How to Stop Student Loans From Ruining Your Life</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Debt Management borrowing debt deferment education loan forgiveness refinance student loans Wed, 09 Dec 2015 14:00:23 +0000 Dan Rafter 1616782 at http://www.wisebread.com Is It Ever Okay to Cosign a Loan? http://www.wisebread.com/is-it-ever-okay-to-cosign-a-loan <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/is-it-ever-okay-to-cosign-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/man_signing_documents_000029589200.jpg" alt="Man learning if it&#039;s ever okay to cosign a loan" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Cosigning a loan is, generally speaking, a bad idea. That's because you place your own credit at risk and could be responsible for the entire amount of the loan if the other party fails to pay. There are horror stories aplenty of people who cosigned loans for friends or family members &mdash; or even just acquaintances &mdash; and found themselves in debt and with their credit ruined.</p> <p>But there may be cases where placing your name on another person's loan is acceptable, provided that you're clear on the risks. It's not uncommon for parents to cosign loans for children as they look to get established, for instance. Ultimately, cosigning a loan is a personal choice, but it's important to be aware of the downsides.</p> <p>With those words of warning out of the way, here are some times when cosigning a loan may be okay:</p> <h2>1. If You Think of the Loan as a Gift</h2> <p>It's often said that if you lend a friend or relative $500, just treat the $500 as simply a gift. If you're comfortable giving the money away, then lending it is okay, because you won't worry about getting the cash back. Similarly, when cosigning a loan, operate under the assumption that you will be the one paying whatever is owed &mdash; because you might very well end up the person on the hook. If you're comfortable with this, then go ahead and cosign.</p> <h2>2. If It's for a Child's Education</h2> <p>Student loans can be hugely beneficial to a young person, and parents may feel compelled to help children obtain the necessary financing for higher education. You may feel it's worth the risk to help your child in this way, and you may not even mind helping your <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-financially-educate-your-children">child pay the loans back</a> later. (It may be better, however, to simply help them pay through a 529 plan or similar savings if you can.) If you feel strongly about a child's educational funding needs, cosigning a student loan can be wise &mdash; provided you believe the child understands the responsibility of repayment.</p> <h2>3. If You're Helping a Family Member Build Credit</h2> <p>When you're young, building credit can be a bit of a chicken or egg problem. You can't build credit until you show you're able to pay back loans, but it's hard to get a loan without a credit history. Cosigning a loan for a young person can help them gain financial independence over time.</p> <h2>4. If You're Helping a Loved One Buy a Car So They Can Work</h2> <p>It's often hard for young people to land a good job if they don't have reliable transportation. But they may not have the means or credit history to purchase a car. Cosigning a car loan for this person could make it easier to land that job and earn income of their own. Just make sure the car they buy is affordable; borrowers shouldn't assume monthly payments disproportionate to their income. And frankly, you shouldn't cosign a loan you can't afford, either.</p> <h2>5. To Help a Family Member Secure Safe Housing</h2> <p>I once had a friend who graduated from college and moved to a new city, but wasn't earning a lot of money right away. It was hard for her to secure an apartment in a safe neighborhood because she didn't have much income, credit history, or savings. Ultimately, her father was willing to cosign an apartment lease to ensure she could live in a nicer building. Her dad took a risk, but he rested easier knowing his daughter was comfortable in her new city.</p> <h2>6. If You Know You Won't Need a Loan for Yourself Anytime Soon</h2> <p>When you cosign a loan, you put your own credit score at risk. But this only matters if you plan to borrow money in the future. If you have plenty of money in the bank and own your home and car free and clear, a ding on your credit may not impact you very much. Just be sure you have an emergency fund in place to protect against job loss, disability, and other unexpected problems.</p> <h2>7. If You've Agreed With the Lender to Certain Protections</h2> <p>It is sometimes possible to negotiate certain conditions with a lender when cosigning. For instance, you can insist that you be notified immediately if there are any late payments. This gives you a chance to intervene before the tardiness shows up on your credit history. You may also be able to get the lender to agree that you will only be responsible for the principal of the loan.</p> <h2>8. If It's for a Short Term</h2> <p>There may be ways to remove yourself as a cosigner after a time. For instance, you could ask to have your name taken off when a borrower chooses to refinance a home loan. If you are a cosigner on a credit card, you could have the borrower apply for new credit cards under his or her name only, then close the old accounts. If you can, it makes sense to try and remove yourself as a cosigner after 12 months or so, when a borrower presumably has the credit to stand on their own.</p> <p><em>Have you ever cosigned a loan? How'd it go?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/tim-lemke">Tim Lemke</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/is-it-ever-okay-to-cosign-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-3"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-ways-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/prioritize-these-5-bills-when-youre-short-on-cash">Prioritize These 5 Bills When You&#039;re Short on Cash</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-stop-student-loans-from-ruining-your-life">How to Stop Student Loans From Ruining Your Life</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <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-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-happens-to-your-debt-after-you-die">What Happens to Your Debt After You Die?</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Debt Management borrowing cosigning credit history giving money loans student loans Mon, 23 Nov 2015 18:00:03 +0000 Tim Lemke 1615573 at http://www.wisebread.com 7 Penalty-Free Ways to Withdraw Money From Your Retirement Account http://www.wisebread.com/7-penalty-free-ways-to-withdraw-money-from-your-retirement-account <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/7-penalty-free-ways-to-withdraw-money-from-your-retirement-account" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/ira_401k_000006195210.jpg" alt="Learning ways to withdraw from your 401k without penalty" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>While it's true that 401Ks have a higher contribution limit ($18,000 in 2015) than traditional IRAs and Roth IRAs ($5,500 for most people or $6,500 if you're age 50 or older in 2015), it would be a mistake to dismiss traditional IRAs and Roth IRAs as part of your retirement strategy.</p> <p>One of the major advantages of having an IRA is that it offers much more flexibility when it comes to taking distributions before age 59 1/2. Under most circumstances, early distributions from a 401K trigger a 10% penalty fee from the IRS on top of applicable income and capital gains taxes. But IRAs are subject to far fewer limitations in many cases &mdash; often, they're free from the 10% penalty for early withdrawals.</p> <p>Here are seven circumstances under which you can withdraw money before age 59 1/2 from an IRA without triggering an IRS penalty.</p> <h2>1. Health Insurance Premiums During Unemployment</h2> <p>If you're unemployed and can't jump on somebody's health plan for coverage, you're probably going to be stressed out about meeting your monthly premiums. Fortunately, once you've been unemployed for at least 12 continuous weeks, the IRS lets you take a penalty-free early distribution from your IRA to cover your health insurance monthly premiums. (To avoid any doubts about how you're using your IRA monies, consider opening a new bank account to handle deposits from your IRA and payments to your health provider.)</p> <p>Some additional points to remember are that the IRA distributions need to take place during either the year you received the unemployment compensation or the following, and that the IRA distributions need to take place no later than 60 days after you have been reemployed.</p> <h2>2. Large Medical Bills</h2> <p>Uncle Sam also gives you a break when you use an IRA withdrawal to pay for unreimbursed medical expenses greater than 10% (or 7.5% if you or your spouse was born before January 2, 1950) of your adjusted gross income for the year of the distribution.</p> <p>While the IRS doesn't require you to itemize your deductions to take advantage of this exception, you should keep a record of all of your medical, dental, and prescription expenses that weren't reimbursed or paid by others. Remember that you can't include the cost of non-prescription drugs (except insulin) or other purchases for general health, such as vitamins, diet foods, or health club dues. Costs of cosmetic procedures aren't eligible, either.</p> <p>However, you can include 23.5 cents per mile that you drove your car for medical reasons. Refer to the Schedule A of Form 1040 to find out the entire list of eligible expenses that you can use to calculate your total unreimbursed medical expenses.</p> <h2>3. First Home Purchases</h2> <p>If the dream property for which you've been waiting so long finally becomes available and you're up to $10,000 short on the down payment, you can tap into your IRA without a penalty.</p> <p>As long as your total IRA withdrawal for first-time home buying is not greater than $10,000, you can even split your withdrawals over more than one year. Not only can you use these monies to buy your own home, but also to pay qualified costs of buying, building, or rebuilding a property. Just make sure that those qualified costs are paid within 120 days after receiving your IRA distribution.</p> <p>Attention couples: If you keep separate IRA plans, each one of you can withdraw up to $10,000 without penalty to pool at total of $20,000 for a first home purchase.</p> <h2>4. Higher Education Expenses</h2> <p>Whether it is for your own education or that of your spouse, children, or grandchildren, you can take a penalty-free withdrawal from your IRA to cover qualified higher education expenses, including tuition, fees, books, supplies, and equipment required for the enrollment or attendance at an eligible educational institution.</p> <p>Other eligible education expenses include the cost of room and board for individuals that are at least half-time students and special needs services in connection with enrollment or attendance. While there is no limit to the amount of your withdrawal free from the 10% penalty tax, keep in mind that your monies may count as income for the student, and may thus impact their eligibility for financial aid.</p> <h2>5. Debts to the IRS</h2> <p>Uncle Sam wants so badly to collect on your unpaid taxes and arrears that he's willing to forego the 10% penalty tax on your IRA withdrawal. However, as in all other scenarios in this list, you do have to pay applicable income taxes, including capital gains.</p> <p>While using part of your IRA balance to pay all or part of your tax debts may not sound that great, it's better than trying to avoid a levy. Under the second scenario, you may have no bargaining power.</p> <h2>6. Rollovers From Traditional IRAs to Roth IRAs</h2> <p>Unlike traditional IRAs, Roth IRAs are funded with after-tax dollars. This means that you don't owe any taxes on withdrawals after age 59 1/2. Plus, once your Roth IRA has been open for at least five years, you can withdraw your contributions at any time without penalty (note that earnings on your contributions <em>are</em> subject to IRS penalties).</p> <p>If you were to transfer funds from your traditional IRA to a Roth IRA, you would pay applicable income taxes now, but no 10% penalty tax on contributions if you wait five years to withdraw those funds from your Roth IRA. Each transfer has its own five-year waiting period and you can only do one IRA rollover per year.</p> <h2>7. Periodic Income Distributions</h2> <p>Last but not least, you can take penalty-free distributions from your IRA by taking a series of substantially equal periodic payments (SEPP) over your life expectancy or the life expectancies of you and your designated beneficiary. The IRS website offers a useful list of frequently asked questions on <a href="http://www.irs.gov/Retirement-Plans/Retirement-Plans-FAQs-regarding-Substantially-Equal-Periodic-Payments">setting up a SEPP plan</a>.</p> <p>If you're planning to set up a SEPP for early retirement, remember that there maybe some financial risks involved. So, before taking your first periodic income distribution, consult your accountant or financial advisor to check your calculations. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-reasons-early-retirement-might-be-financially-risky?ref=seealso">4 Reasons Early Retirement Might Be Financially Risky</a>)</p> <h2>The Bottom Line</h2> <p>Taking an early distribution of your IRA may be a last resort to make your financial goals, such as a first home purchase, happen. As you can see from these seven examples, there are ways for you to take an early withdrawal from an IRA without the 10% tax penalty. While these strategies may not be for everybody, some of them can be true game changers. Consult IRS Publication 590-B for more details.</p> <p><em>Have you used your IRA to take early withdrawals without a penalty? Share with us how you did in the comments section.</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/7-penalty-free-ways-to-withdraw-money-from-your-retirement-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-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-penalty-free-way-to-withdraw-retirement-money-early">The Penalty-Free Way to Withdraw Retirement Money Early</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-questions-to-ask-before-you-borrow-from-your-retirement-account">5 Questions to Ask Before You Borrow From Your Retirement Account</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/should-you-choose-a-roth-401k-or-a-regular-401k">Should You Choose a Roth 401k or a Regular 401k?</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/10-signs-you-arent-saving-enough-for-retirement">10 Signs You Aren&#039;t Saving Enough for Retirement</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-important-things-to-know-about-your-401k-and-ira-in-2016">5 Important Things to Know About Your 401K and IRA in 2016</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Retirement Taxes 401k borrowing health insurance home buying IRA medical bills penalties sepp Thu, 05 Nov 2015 13:15:18 +0000 Damian Davila 1605093 at http://www.wisebread.com