Borrowing money is a way to purchase something now and pay for it over time. But, you usually pay “interest” when you borrow money. The longer you take to pay back the money you borrowed, the more you will pay in interest.
It pays to shop around to get the best deal on a loan. Compare loan terms from several lenders, and it’s okay to negotiate the terms.
When repaying a loan, it may be better to pay more than the minimum amount due each month, so you will have to pay less in interest over the life of the loan.
One of your most important aids when shopping for a loan is the APR – the Annual Percentage Rate. This is the total cost, including interest charges and fees, described as a yearly rate.
Paying your bills on time will help increase your credit score. Even if you fell into trouble with borrowing in the past, you can get on solid footing and rebuild your credit history by making regular payments as agreed.
You are entitled to a free copy of your credit report every 12 months from each of the three nationwide credit bureaus. Go to www.AnnualCreditReport.com or call toll free 1-877-322-8228 to order the free reports. Beware of imposter sites.
Hints And Tips To Save And Invest
An easy way to save is to pay yourself first. That means each pay period, before you are tempted to spend money, commit to putting some in a savings account. See if you can arrange with your bank to automatically transfer a certain amount from your paycheck or your checking account to savings every month.
People who keep track of their savings often end up saving more, because they have it on their minds. New phone apps are available to help people pass up purchases they don’t really need – you might want to try one!
If you are making investments, it’s good to consult with a qualified professional about your plans. Before you purchase investments, be sure to build an emergency savings fund to cover your needs for at least three months. Keep the savings in an insured bank or credit union account that you can access if you need it.
Many professionals call themselves “financial planners.” Before you hire one, ask for a description of the services offered. A good place to check the credentials of an investment advisor is your State’s consumer protection office, the State’s Attorney General’s office, or the issuing agency for any professional licenses or certifications.
Hints And Tips On How To Control Your Spending
A good way to take control of your spending is to set the maximum amounts you plan to spend each week or each month. Once you’ve set the maximum, stick with your plan.
It’s helpful to track your spending over a few weeks or months to get a handle on how you are using your dollars and cents. Look into using on-line systems or phone apps for keeping track of your spending – you will be amazed at what you’ll learn about your habits!
Be careful not to let a sale or discount coupon persuade you to purchase something you don’t really need and that isn’t in your spending plan.
When planning a big purchase, take time to comparison shop and check prices at a few different stores, by phone or online.
Hints And Tips On How To Protect Your Financial Situation
A good system for keeping personal money records will include copies of important documents like your will, property ownership documents, information about savings and insurance, and other document. It should include overview of what happens to property after a major life event occurs.
Assume that any offer that “sounds too good to be true” – especially one from a stranger or an unfamiliar company — is probably a fraud.
Look at your bank statements and bills as soon as they arrive and report any discrepancy or anything suspicious, such as an unauthorized withdrawal or charge.
Be wary of request to “update” or “confirm” personal information, especially your Social Security number, bank account numbers, credit card numbers, personal identification numbers, your date of birth or your mother’s maiden name in response to an unsolicited call, letter or email.
How To Prepare A Budget?
The following is a step-by-step guide to making an accurate and helpful personal budget.
Gather every financial statement you can. This includes bank statements, investment accounts, recent utility bills, and any information regarding a source of income or expense. One of the keys in the budget-making process is to create a monthly average, so the more information you can dig up the better.
Record all of your sources of income. If you are self-employed or have any outside sources of income, be sure to record these as well. If your income is in the form of aregular paycheck where taxes are automatically deducted then using the net income, or take home pay, amount is fine. Record this total income as a monthly amount.
Create a list of monthly expenses. Write down a list of all the expected expenses you plan on incurring over the course of a month. This includes a mortgage payment, car payments, auto insurance, groceries, utilities, entertainment, dry cleaning, student loans, retirement or college savings — essentially everything you spend money on.
Break expenses into two categories: fixed and variable. Fixed expenses are those that stay relatively the same each month and are required parts of your way of living. They included expenses such as your mortgage or rent, car payments, cable and/or internet service, trash pickup, credit card payments and so on. These expenses for the most part are essential yet not likely to change in the budget. Variable expenses are the type that will change from month to month and include items such as groceries, gasoline, entertainment, eating out, and gifts, to name a few. This category will be important when making adjustments.
Total your monthly income and monthly expenses. If your end result shows more income than expenses, you are off to a good start. This means you can prioritize this excess to areas of your budget such as retirement savings or paying more on credit card balances to eliminate that debt faster. If you are showing a higher expense column than income it means some changes will have to be made.
Make adjustments to expenses. If you have accurately identified and listed all of your expenses, the ultimate goal would be to have your income and expense columns to be equal. This means all of your income is accounted for and budgeted for a specific expense or savings goal. If you are in a situation where expenses are higher than income, you should look at your variable expenses to find areas to cut. Since these expenses are typically nonessential, it should be easy to shave a few dollars in a few areas to bring you closer to your income.
Review your budget monthly. It is important to review your budget on a regular basis to make sure you are staying on track. After the first month take a minute to sit down and compare the actual expenses versus what you had created in the budget. This will show you where you did well and where you may need to improve.
Understanding Your Student Loans Repayment Options
Standard repayment plan: This is the original repayment plan. With a standard plan, you generally pay a fixed amount each month for up to 10 years.
Extended repayment plan: With an extended plan, you extend the time you have to repay your loan, usually from 12 to 30 years, depending on the loan amount. Your fixed monthly payment is lower than it would be under the standard plan, but again, you’ll ultimately pay more for your loan because of the interest that accumulates under the longer repayment period. Note: Many lenders allow you to combine an extended plan with a graduated plan.
Graduated repayment plan: With a graduated plan, your payments start out low in the early years of the loan but increase in later years (the term is still 10 years). This plan is tailored to individuals with relatively low current incomes (e.g., recent college graduates) who expect their incomes to increase in the future. However, you’ll ultimately pay more for your loan than you would under the standard plan, because more interest accumulates in the early years of the plan when your outstanding loan balance is higher.
Income-based repayment plan: With an income-based plan, your monthly loan payment is based on your annual income. As your income increases or decreases, so do your payments.
Loan consolidation: Loan consolidation is technically not a repayment option, but it does overlap. With loan consolidation, you combine several student loans into one loan, sometimes at a lower interest rate. Thus, you can write one check each month. You need to apply for loan consolidation, and different lenders have different rules about which loans qualify for consolidation. However, with most loan consolidations, you can choose an extended repayment and/or a graduated repayment plan in addition to a standard repayment plan.
What Is A Pyramid Scheme And How To Avoid It
A pyramid scheme, also known as Ponzi scheme, is an illegal form of multilevel marketing. In these programs, your ability to earn profits is based on the number of new participants you recruit, instead of the amount of products or services you sell. Sometimes there actually aren’t any real products that are being sold. These types of schemes are common with investment and independent direct selling opportunities.
These schemes rely on the income from new participants in order to pay fake “profits” to people that have been part of the scheme for longer amounts of time. However, the scheme falls apart when there aren’t enough new recruits to pay into the system, so the earlier participants no longer receive earnings.
Tips to Avoid Being a Victim
You can take steps to prevent yourself from getting involved in a pyramid scheme:
Be wary of “opportunities” to invest your money in franchises or investments that require you to bring in more investors to increase your profit, or recoup your initial investment.
Independently verify the legitimacy of any franchise or investment with the Better Business Bureau, your state Attorney General, or any licensing agencies.
Be skeptical of success stories and testimonials of fantastic earnings.
What is a CDFI?
Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) are private-sector, financial intermediaries with community development as their primary mission. CDFIs supply the tools enabling economically disadvantaged individuals to become self-sufficient stakeholders in their own future.
CDFIs measure success by focusing on the “double bottom line”: economic gains and the contributions they make to the local community. CDFIs rebuild businesses, housing, voluntary organizations, and services central to revitalizing our nation’s poor and working class neighborhoods.
How Is A Credit Union Different From A Bank
In the United States, credit unions are not-for-profit organizations that exist to serve their members rather than to maximize corporate profits. Like banks, credit unions accept deposits, make loans, and provide a wide array of other financial services. But as member-owned institutions, credit unions focus on providing a safe place to save and borrow at reasonable rates. Unlike banks, credit unions return surplus income to their members in the form of dividends. Favorable Rates and Customer Service
Fees and loan rates at credit unions are generally lower, while deposit dividend and interest rates are generally higher than banks and other for-profit institutions. Credit unions are democratically operated by its members (those joining the credit union), allowing account holders an equal say in how the credit union is operated, regardless of how much they have on deposit at the credit union. Membership Access
The credit union’s Board of Directors, who are elected by the members, decide who the credit union will serve. In order to join a credit union, potential members must be part of a field of membership, which is typically based on one’s employment, community, or membership in an association or organization. As credit unions serve members of modest means, many will actively expand their field of membership to serve other select groups and/or geographic areas when identified as needing access to affordable financial services. Credit unions designated low-income predominately focus on providing financial services at reasonable rates in areas that are often underserved or unserved by banks. NCUA Share Insurance Coverage
Federally insured credit unions are insured by the National Share Insurance Fund (NCUSIF). The NCUSIF is operated by the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA), a federal government agency, backed by the full faith and credit of the United States government. The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010 increased the maximum share insurance coverage at all federally insured credit unions to $250,000. Account balances in excess of $250,000 at a federally insured credit union can be fully insured if properly structured. For additional information on NCUA’s share insurance coverage.
How To Avoid Scams
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