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Borrowing limits for conforming mortgage loans to rise in 2021 Washington Post
If you want to whip your finances into shape, hereâs a good New Yearâs resolution: improving your credit score.
A lot of New Yearâs resolutions fail because theyâre so extreme. Think of all the bonkers weight-loss and money-saving goals that surface at the start of every year.
This resolution is different. No extreme measures are required. But there arenât any shortcuts. Building good credit is a goal you need to commit to 12 months a year.
How to Build Good Credit in 10 Steps
Ready to make 2021 the year you finally prove your creditworthiness? Or are you looking to recover from a 2020 setback? Hereâs how to build good credit in 10 steps.
1. Stay on Top of Your Credit Reports
Itâs essential to monitor your credit reports, especially if you received a hardship agreement from a lender due to COVID-19. Under the CARES Act rules, lenders are supposed to report your account as paid in full while the agreement is in effect, as long as you werenât already delinquent. But mistakes happen. Even in normal times, about 1 in 5 credit reports contained inaccurate information.
Through April 2021, you can get one free credit report per week from each bureau. (Typically, youâre only entitled to one free credit report per year from each bureau.) Make sure you access your reports at AnnualCreditReport.com, rather than one of the many websites that offer âfreeâ credit scores but will make you put down your credit card number to sign up for a trial. File a dispute with the bureaus if you find anything you think is inaccurate or any accounts you donât recognize.
Your credit reports wonât show you your credit score, but you can use a free credit-monitoring service to check your score. (No, checking your own credit doesnât hurt your score.) Many banks and credit card companies also give you your credit scores for free.
If the bureaus agree to remove information from your credit reports, expect to wait about 30 days until your reports are updated.
2. Pay Your Bills. On Time. Every Single Month
Yeah, you knew we were going to say this: Paying your bills on time is the No. 1 thing you can do to build good credit. Your payment history determines 35% of your score, more than any other credit factor.
Set whatever bills you can to autopay for at least the minimums to avoid missing payments. You can always pay extra if you can afford it.
A strong payment history takes time to build. If youâve made late payments, theyâll stay on your credit reports for seven years. The good news is, they do the most damage to your score in the first two years. After that, the impact starts to fade.
3. Establish Credit, Even if Youâve Made Mistakes
You typically need a credit card or loan to build a credit history. (Sorry, but all those on-time rent and utility payments are rarely reported to the credit bureaus, so they wonât help your score.)
But if you have bad credit or youâre a credit newbie, getting approved for a credit card or loan is tough. Look for cards that are specifically marketed to help people start or rebuild credit. Store credit cards, which only let you make purchases at a specific retailer, can also be a good option.
4. Open a Secured Card if You Donât Qualify for a Regular Card
Opening a secured credit card is one of our favorite ways to build a positive history when you canât get approved for a regular credit card or loan. You put down a refundable deposit, and that becomes your line of credit.
After about a year of making your payments on time, youâll typically qualify for an unsecured line of credit. Just make sure the card issuer you choose reports your payments to the credit bureaus. Look for a card with an annual fee of no more than $35. Some secured card options we like (and no, weâre not getting paid to say this):
- Discover it Secured
- OpenSky Secured Visa Card
- Secured Mastercard from Capital One
5. Ask for a Limit Increase. Pretend You Never Got It
Increasing your credit limits helps your score because it decreases your credit utilization ratio. Thatâs credit score speak for the percentage of credit youâre using. The standard recommendation is to keep this number below 30%, but really, the closer to zero the better.
If you have open credit, ask your current creditors for an increase, rather than applying for new credit. That way, youâll avoid lowering your length of credit, which could ding your score.
The downside of a higher credit limit: Youâll have more money to spend that isnât really yours. To get the biggest credit score boost from a limit increase and avoid paying more in interest, make sure you donât add to your balance.
Donât believe the myth that carrying a small credit card balance helps your credit score. Paying off your balance in full each month is best for your score, plus it saves you money on interest.
6. Prioritize Credit Card Debt Over Loans
Tackling credit card debt helps your credit score a lot more than paying down other debts, like a student loan or mortgage. The reason? Your credit utilization ratio is determined exclusively by your lines of credit.
Bonus: Paying off credit card debt first will typically save you money, because credit cards tend to have higher interest rates than other types of debt.
7. Keep Your Old Accounts Active
Provided you arenât paying ridiculous fees, keep your credit card accounts open once youâve paid off the balance. Credit scoring methods reward you for having a long credit history.
Make a purchase at least once every three months on the account, as credit card companies often close inactive accounts. Then pay it off in full.
8. Apply for New Credit Selectively
When you apply for credit, it results in a hard inquiry, which usually drops your score by a few points. So avoid applying frequently for new credit cards, as this can signal financial distress.
But if youâre in the market for a mortgage or loan, donât worry about multiple inquiries. As long as you limit your shopping to a 45-day window, credit bureaus will treat it as a single inquiry, so the impact on your score will be minimal.
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9. Still Overwhelmed? A Debt Consolidation Loan Could Help
If youâre struggling with credit card debt, consolidating your credit card debt with a loan could be a good option. In a nutshell, you take out a loan to wipe out your credit card balances.
Youâll get the simplicity of a single payment, plus youâll typically pay less interest since loan interest rates tend to be lower. (If you canât get a loan that lowers your interest rate, this probably isnât a good option.)
By using a loan to pay off your credit cards, youâll also free up credit and lower your credit utilization ratio.
Many debt consolidation loans require a credit score of about 620. If your score falls below this threshold, work on improving your score for a few months before you apply for one.
10. Keep Your Credit Score in Perspective
All the credit-monitoring tools out there make it easy to obsess about your credit score. While itâs important to build good credit, look at the bigger picture. A few final thoughts:
- Your credit score isnât a report card on the state of your finances. It simply measures how risky of a borrower you are. Having an emergency fund, saving for retirement and earning a decent living are all important to your finances â but these are all things that donât affect your credit score.
- Lenders look at more than your credit score. Having a low debt-to-income ratio, decent down payment and steady paycheck all increase your odds of approval when youâre making a big purchase, even if your credit score is lackluster.
- Donât focus on your score if you canât pay for necessities. If youâre struggling and you have to choose between paying your credit card vs. paying your rent, keeping food on the table or getting medical care, paying your credit card is always the lower priority. Of course, talk to your creditors if you canât afford to pay them, as they may have options.
Focus on your overall financial picture, and youâll probably see your credit score improve, too. Remember, though, that while credit scores matter, you matter more.
Now go crush those goals in 2021 and beyond.
Robin Hartill is a certified financial planner and a senior editor at The Penny Hoarder. She writes the Dear Penny personal finance advice column. Send your tricky money questions to DearPenny@thepennyhoarder.com.
This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.
In March I offered some financial advice to Michelle, a Mint user who was struggling with debt, a lack of retirement savings and a bit of family financial drama amongst her siblings.
Michelle was anticipating a cash bonus from her company and wasnât sure if she should save the money or use it to relieve her debt.
I recommended a two-prong approach where she uses the cash to play savings catch-up in her retirement account and knock down some of her debt, which, at the time, included a $3,000 credit card balance and $52,000 in student loans.
Six months later, Iâve checked in with the 38-year-old real estate developer, to see if any of my advice was helpful and if sheâs experienced any shifts in her financial life.
We spoke via email:
Farnoosh: Have your finances have improved over the last 6 months since we last spoke? If so, what has been the biggest improvement?
Michelle: Yes. I’veÂ aggressively been contributing to my 401(k) â about 50% of my pay – and had hoped to reach the annual maximum of $18,000 by June, but looks like it will be more like October. I also received a $40,000 distribution from a project that I closed.
F: What aspects of your financial life still challenge you?
M: Investing for sure. I never know if I’m hoarding too much cash. I am truly traumatized from the financial downturn.Â I just joined an online investment platform, but it wasÂ also overwhelming. Currently I have $45,000 in a regular savings account that earns 1.5%.
Another challenge is not knowing whether to just bite the bullet and pay off my student loans or to continue to pay them monthly. Â I hate that I’m still paying loans 16 years after I graduated and it’s a source of frustration [andÂ embarrassment] for me. Â I owe $36,000. Often times I have an inner monologue about the pros and cons of just paying them off but then my trauma from 2008 kicks inâ¦and IÂ decide to keep my $45,000 nest egg safely where I can check the balance daily.
F: I recommended allocating $45,000 towards retirement. Was that helpful? What are some ways you’ve managed to save?
M: Yes, I recall you saying you recommended having a total of $100,000 towards retirement for a person my age. Currently, I have $51,000 in my 401(k), $35,000 in a traditional IRA and $17,000 in my Ellevest brokerageÂ account, so I’ve broken the $100,000 goal.
I did add a car note to my balance sheet. My old car suffered a total loss (major electrical failure due to a sunroof leak!) and the insurance gave me a check for $9,000.Â I used it all towards the new vehicle (aÂ certified used 2014 Acura) and I’m financing $18,000.
F: Your dad’s home was a source of financial stress, it seemed. Were you able to talk with your siblings and arrive at a better place with that?
M: My dad actually has passed since we last spoke. He passed in February and so his will went to probate. My siblings and I have decided not to make any decisions about the house for at least one year. Yes, this is kicking the can further down the street however, they recognize that I maintain the house and pay the real estate taxes and so they are not pressuring me to move or to sell.
The new deed has been recorded and the property is under all our names and so everyone seems ok with knowing that I can’t do anything regarding a sale or refinance unilaterally.
So, for now, I live rent free other than payingÂ utilities, miscellaneous maintenance on the houseÂ and real estate taxes quarterly. This, too, is helping me saveÂ aggressively.
Also, the new car note has replaced the hospice nurse contribution so I’m not feeling that my budget is overburdened with the new car.
I think ultimately I will buy out at least two of my siblings and stay in the house. Verbally they have expressed being okay with this.
Have a question for Farnoosh? You can submit your questions via Twitter @Farnoosh, Facebook or email at email@example.com (please note âMint Blogâ in the subject line).
Farnoosh Torabi is Americaâs leading personal finance authority hooked on helping Americans live their richest, happiest lives. From her early days reporting for Money Magazine to now hosting a primetime series on CNBC and writing monthly for O, The Oprah Magazine, sheâs become our favorite go-to money expert and friend.
The post Mint Money Audit 6-Month Check-In: How Did Michelle Allocate Her Windfall? appeared first on MintLife Blog.
Whereas Dave Ramseyâs Baby Steps have often been dissected one at a time, my goal in this post is to give an overview of the steps as a unit and explain why the order is essential.
Hopefully, these steps can help you create a focused life plan for your finances, regardless of your age or financial well being.
First, the Baby Steps:
- Step 1: $1,000 in an emergency fund.
- Step 2: Pay off all debt except the house utilizing the debt snowball.
- Step 3: Three to six months of savings in a fully funded emergency fund.
- Step 4: Invest 15% of your household income into Roth IRAs and pre-tax retirement plans.
- Step 5: College Funding
- Step 6: Pay off your home early.
- Step 7: Build wealth and give.
The Power of Focus
Daveâs premise with the Baby Steps is that people can accomplish great things IF they can just be focused. When you read over these seven steps, you think, âYes. I need to be saving. But I also need to be investing for retirement. I should get my house paid off early. But I also need to be getting out of debt and saving for my kidâs college.”
You would readily agree that all of these goals are important for successful financial planning. The problem is that your stress level kicks into overdrive with the prospect of doing them all. You clench your jaw and do what you are capable of doing while feeling anxious about the goals you place on the back burner.
The Baby Steps plan works because when you stay focused on one step at a time, you can knowingly put some important goals on hold without the nagging feeling that you are leaving something undone.
You can also check out my YouTube video where I break down each of Dave’s Baby Steps here:
Because accomplishing each step puts you in a great position to accomplish the next one.
You begin to feel an empowerment and a sense of control as you get one step behind you and start the next one. You are making progress instead of treading water.
Why Are the Baby Steps in the Order They Are In?
Steps 1 and 2: $1,000 Emergency Fund and Debt Snowball
Notice that Steps 3 through 7 are all about using your money to do something positive for you and your family. Of course this money comes from your income, but the problem with most of America is that we are using our income on debt payments.
Because we are paying others instead of ourselves, we need to get rid of our debt (Step 2) in order to free up our income for Steps 3-7.
âWhat if I could use all the money I am currently paying to creditors to start âpaying myselfâ?
For many people this is $1,000 to $3,000 a month.
Baby Step 2 debt snowball is designed to do just that. Step 1 is necessary before Step 2 because you donât want to start paying off debt without having a small cushion to absorb the little unplanned expenses that will occur during Step 2.
Step 3: 3 to 6 months of Savings
After completing the first two steps, you are out of debt (except for your house) and now have that cash flow you dreamed about: all of the money you used to pay others is at your disposal. The temptation is to start investing for retirement or saving for your kid’s college or pay off your house early.
NOT SO FAST! You will get to those, but doing so prematurely is way too risky.
Stop, take a deep breath and use that cash flow to build up your emergency fund so you will indeed be ready for emergencies. This fund needs to be liquid (in a top savings account or money market account).
If you skipped the step and started any of the ensuing steps, how would you handle emergencies? Pull money from your retirement account? Rob the kidâs college savings? Borrow money against your house? All bad ideas.
Step 3 is therefore always ahead of the following steps
Steps 4, 5, and 6: Saving for Retirement, College Funding, Pay Off Home
You may be asking,
âWhy is retirement ahead of college funding? Wouldnât a good parent put his children ahead of himself?â
Good question. But what if you end up without sufficient retirement income because you made college funding a higher priority? Who will you be depending on in your later years? Your kids!
The thing about retirement planning is that you only get one shot at it. The years go by and you will someday be retirement age. You donât have a choice. On the other hand, college funding is full of choices: kids can get scholarship, they can work, they can attend community colleges, they can find work/co-op programs, etc, etc.
Step 4 is therefore ahead of step 5. But notice that Step 4 is 15% of your income. If you have cash flow greater than 15% you can apply that to college funding immediately, and if you have more than enough cash flow to accomplish both steps 4 and 5, you can use all of the extra to pay off your house early (step 6).
Note that Step 6 comes behind retirement and college funding because reversing the order could possibly give you a paid for house at the expense of a dignified retirement or helping your kids through college. Most of us wouldnât want that.
Not sure where to start investing for retirement? Here are some tips:
- Best Places to Open a Roth IRA – Figuring out where to start investing your 15% of income can be confusing. A great place to start is a Roth IRA, but deciding a broker is confusing. This list will help you pick the best broker for your Roth IRA.
- Best Online Stock Broker Sign Up Bonuses – You can get hundreds of dollars or thousands of airline miles just for opening up a brokerage account.
- Beginner Investing Strategies – If you’ve never invested before it can be overwhelming. This list breaks down getting started into manageable pieces.
Step 7: Build wealth and give.
Life is now very good! You have no debt, a great emergency fund, and a paid for house. All of the cash flow that used to go toward debt reduction and house payments is now at your disposal.
This, by the way, is the step Mandy and I are on. Being semi-retired, we donât have a huge income, but it is very sufficient because we also donât have any debt. We continue to invest every month and we are able to give more than we have ever given before.
Once we got our house paid off, we started to budget âblessâ money, which we put into an envelope every month just to have available so we can bless others as we see the needs. We are also able to help our grown daughter and daughter-in-law cash flow their college.
As I said, life is good. Mandy and I are experiencing great financial peace and we are very grateful for Dave Ramseyâs Baby Steps.
I wish the same for you.
This article is a general overview of what Dave Ramsey has to offer and is not intended to replace his course, nor is this sponsored or endorsed by Dave Ramsey or the Lampo Group.
The post Dave Ramseyâs Baby Steps Explained appeared first on Good Financial CentsÂ®.
The post The Ultimate Guide to Using a Cash Budget appeared first on Penny Pinchin' Mom.
There are many types of budgets you can try.Â A quick Google search will show you lots of options – including the cash envelope budget.Â If you say it will not work for you, it means you did not try doing it the right way.
Whether you are getting out of debt or not, you can probably use some help in making sure you control your spending. Contrary to what many people say, the best way to do this is to use cash. Â If you are trying to get out of debt, this is the next step you need to follow!Â The cash envelope system is an important step to your debt paydown plan.
Ask many financial experts such as Dave Ramsey or Clark Howard and they will agree that using cash is an important factor in controlling your spending. And it is not a system only for people trying to get out of debt, but everyone as it really makes you think more about your spending.
HOW TO USE THE CASH BUDGET
WHY A CASH ENVELOPE SYSTEM?
Cash is King!!Â I say this all of the time because I genuinely believe this. Â When I bring up using cash, the first rebuttal I get is “If I have cash, I spend it far too easily.”Â Sorry, I don’t buy it.Â The main reason that people fail on a cash budget is a lack of tracking what they spend and assigning it a task.
[clickToTweet tweet=”The truth is that when you use cash, you spend more wisely. ” quote=”The truth is that when you use cash, you spend more wisely. “]
When you have only $200 for groceries, and you also know that it must last for two weeks. Â It forces you to think twice before you buy that extra item. Â A cash budget never lets you overspend because once the money is gone – it’s gone.
CASH ENVELOPE CATEGORIES
Getting started using the envelope system for budgeting is pretty simple. Â To begin, look at your budget. Â The following are cash envelope categories you should consider using:
- Dining Out
- Hair Cuts/ Beauty
- Doctor Visits
- Random Spending (which is your spend as you want – only if you can afford it)
- Doctor/Dentist Visits
You will notice that I didn’t include gasoline on my list.Â The reason I didn’t is that most people won’t overspend at the pump.Â Most of us just fill up our tanks and go about our merry way.Â You also don’t drive around and burn fuel or decide to fuel up because your neighbor did.Â It is on your budgetÂ but is not one you where you will overspend. Not only that, it is usuallyÂ much more convenient to pay at the pump.
PRINTABLE DIY CASH ENVELOPE TEMPLATE
When it comes to using the cash envelope system, you can purchase one such as that sold by Dave Ramsey or you can just use the envelopes in your desk drawer. Â I’ve even got a cash envelope template you can use as well (purchase HERE for $2.99).
HOW MUCH CASH DO I NEED?
Once you have your categories, you have to determine how much cash you need for each group. Â You will figure the amount based on your pay period.
For example, if payday is every two weeks, take the total monthly grocery budgeted amount and divide it by 2.Â You will then know how much money you will need for each of the two pay periods for that month.Â It is important you have a budget that works (including using budget printables as needed).
Next, review, each category you will use cash for and figure up the amount you will need. Â Once you have done that, you will also want to figure out how many of each denomination of bill you will need. Â List the total amount, by denomination, on a piece of paper. Â Take that, along with a check from your account for the amount, to the bank. Â You will make a withdrawal and then split up the cash into each envelope.
HOW TO USE THE DAVE RAMSEY ENVELOPE SYSTEM
Sometimes, it is easier to understand something if you can see it in action.Â Follow this simple cash budget example to see how it works.
START WITH YOUR REGULAR BUDGET
Let’s say you bring home $2,500 per month. You have completed your written budget and have items such as your mortgage, utilities, food, dining out, debts and other expenses.Â Most of your expensesÂ are paid with a check or electronic transfer. Those are not the categories to consider for your cash budget.Â Instead, look at those items that you don’t pay for all at once, but rather over time.
These are the items that will work best if you use cash.Â In this case, you will include groceries, clothing, random spending, doctor visits and dining out.Â (We don’t include fuel because there is never a chance you will overspend on fuel).
In this example, we will only use cash for these items:
Groceries – $500
Clothing – $100
Random Spending – $80
Doctor – $50
Dining Out – $100
DETERMINE HOW MUCH CASH YOU NEED PER PAYCHECK
As you can see, the budget above is based on your monthly income.Â Since you are paid every two weeks, that means your take-home pay is $1,250 twice a month.Â You only need enough money to cover half of each of these categories.Â Your spending for each will look like this for each pay period:
MONTHLY BUDGET DIVIDED FOR BI-WEEKLY PAY
Groceries – $250
Clothing – $50
Random Spending – $40
Doctor – $25
Dining Out – $50
Total cash needed: Â $415 per pay period
Now that you see what you have budgeted to spend on each category each pay period, you need to determine how many bills of each denomination you will need to get from the bank.
KNOWING HOW MUCH CASH YOU NEED FOR A CASH SYSTEM
Using the same cash budget example above, here is how you will do that:
Groceries – $250 —- 3 $50 bills, 5 $20 bills
Clothing – $50 — 2 $20 bills, 1 $10 bill
Random spending – $40 —- 2 $20 bills
Doctor – $25 —- 1 $20 bill, 1 $5 bill
Dining Out – $50 —- 2 $20 bills, 1 $10 bill
You need to get this cash from the bank.Â You can’t use the ATM as it will spit out only $20s and $10s and will not give you the correct number of bills.Â Make a note to hand to the teller that shows how to break down the cash:
3 $50 bills
12 $20 bills
2 $10 bills
1 $5 bill
Write a check for $415, payable to “CASH” and take it, along with your slip of paper to your bank.Â The teller will cash the check and give you the bills you need.
FILL YOUR CASH ENVELOPES
When you get home with your cash, it is time to add it to each envelope.Â Find the one for each category listed above.Â Pull the cash from the bank envelope and split it into each envelope, per the list above.Â Add the amount of the deposit to the front of the envelope, adding to any amounts that may be left from the prior pay period.
USING THE CASH ENVELOPE SYSTEM
Once you have your cash and your envelopes, it is time to put them to work.Â The only – and I mean only – way that this will work is if you track every. Single. Transaction.Â I am not joking.Â Â Doing this can help you stay on track, and you also have to account for everything you spend.
For example, shop as usual at the grocery store.Â If your total is $20.17, you will pay with the cash from your groceries envelope.Â Place any cash you get back into the envelope and then deduct your purchase from the balance.Â So, if you had $100 and spent $20.17, the new total cash you have left will be $79.83.
The printable cash envelope template above includes lines on the envelope, so you have a place to track your balance.Â If you use your own, add it to the outside or keep a slip of paper inside.
Make sure you track every purchase. You can always see how much money you have left and where it was spent.Â ItÂ helps you monitor your spending at a glance.Â Once the cash is goneÂ – you are done spendingÂ money.
USING THE VIRTUAL CASH ENVELOPE SYSTEM
I also get that sometimes, cash is just something you can’t do. You need (or just really prefer) using your debit or credit card instead. Is there a way you can apply this method when you spend using plastic?
Rather than get paper money to put into your envelopes, you can use either a virtual envelope or paper tracking to monitor your spending.
Virtual envelope systems, such as ProActive, help you monitor and control your spending but allow you the convenience of using your credit or debit card.Â Rather than paying with cash, you swipe but know how much you have left to spend on each category in your budget.
If you would rather opt for something that is free, you can print out cashless envelopes instead.Â They work in the same fashion as cash envelopes.Â You still write down the amount you have to spend on each form and as you shop, you keep track.Â When you are out of “money” according to your envelope tally, you are done shopping.
You can read even more and get started with different ways to use the envelope method even if you don’t use cash.
HOW TO USE A CASH METHOD WHEN SHOPPING ONLINE
So, what if you don’t shop in the store, but rather, make purchases online, how would that work with a cash budget?Â Can you even do that?Â Yes, you can.Â You just have to handle it a little differently.
The first option is to leave some of the money you normally get in cash, in your account.Â For example, if you spend $100 every paycheck through online purchases, get $100 less in cash.Â You can still account for it by using cashless envelopes instead.Â That way, you still monitor your spending and don’t blow your budget.
The other option is to still get all of the cash you normally need.Â Then, if you buy something online, head to the bank and re-deposit that back into your account.Â You still get the full benefit of using cash and seeing the money come out of your envelopes.
You still can use cash when you shop online, you just have to make some adjustments.
WHY THE CASH ENVELOPE SYSTEM WORKS
The reason why the cash envelope system works is pretty simple. Â Accountability.
When you have to make yourself accountable for your spending, you are taking control. Â It also will help you spend less. Â If you only have $100 to spend on dining out over the next two weeks, you think twice about ordering take out three days in a row.Â When the money is gone – you are done spending!!!
It isn’t entirely about cash.Â It is learning self-control.Â That is the one thing everyone will gain in going through this process.Â It enforces this way of thinking. Â You will quickly learn to love using cash, and you will feel more in control of your finances.
Cash also has more emotion attached to it. You don’t think about the consequences of a purchase when you swipe a card. Â However, handing over that cold, hard cash sometimes hurts. Â You do think about each purchase a bit more.
We’ve been doing this for so long that I don’t know how to shop without my envelopes!Â Â It is routine, and it helps us always know, in a matter of minutes, how much money we have available for the things we need.
The post The Ultimate Guide to Using a Cash Budget appeared first on Penny Pinchin' Mom.
In borrowing, there are two types of debts, recourse and nonrecourse. Recourse debt holds the person borrowing money personally liable for the debt. If you default on a recourse loan, the lender will have license, or recourse, to go after your personal assets if the collateralâs value doesnât cover the remaining amount of the loan that is due. Recourse loans are often used to finance construction or invest in real estate. Hereâs what you need to know about recourse loans, how they work and how they differ from other types of loans.
What Is a Recourse Loan?
A recourse loan is a type of loan that allows the lender to go after any of a borrowerâs assets if that borrower defaults on the loan. The first choice of any lender is to seize the asset that is collateral for the loan. For example, if someone stops making payments on an auto loan, the lender would take back the car and sell it.
However, if someone defaults on a hard money loan, which is a type of recourse loan, the lender might seize the borrowerâs home or other assets. Then, the lender would sell it to recover the balance of the principal due. Recourse loans also allow lenders to garnish wages or access bank accounts if the full debt obligation isnât fulfilled.
Essentially, recourse loans help lenders recover their investments if borrowers fail to pay off their loans and the collateral value attached to those loans is not enough to cover the balance due.
How Recourse Loans Work
When a borrower takes out debt, he typically has several options. Most hard money loans are recourse loans. In other words, if the borrower fails to make payments, the lender can seize the borrowerâs other assets such as his home or car and sell it to recover the money borrowed for the loan.
Lenders can go after a borrowerâs other assets or take legal action against a borrower. Other assets that a lender can seize might include savings accounts and checking accounts. Depending on the situation, they may also be able to garnish a borrowerâs wages or take further legal action.
When a lender writes a loanâs terms and conditions, what types of assets the lender can pursue if a debtor fails to make debt payments are listed. If you are at risk of defaulting on your loan, you may want to look at the language in your loan to see what your lender might pursue and what your options are.
Recourse Loans vs. Nonrecourse Loans
Nonrecourse loans are also secured loans, but rather than being secured by all a personâs assets, nonrecourse loans are only secured by the asset involved as collateral. For example, a mortgage is typically a nonrecourse loan, because the lender will only go after the home if a borrower stops making payments. Similarly, most auto loans are nonrecourse loans, and the bank or lender will only be able to seize the car if the borrower stops making payments.
Nonrecourse loans are riskier for lenders because they will have fewer options for getting their money back. Therefore, most lenders will only offer nonrecourse loans to people with exceedingly high credit scores.
Types of Recourse Loans
There are several types of recourse loans that you should be aware of before taking on debt. Some of the most common recourse loans are:
- Hard money loans. Even if someone uses their hard money loan, also known as hard cash loan, to buy a property, these types of loans are typically recourse loans.
- Auto loans. Because cars depreciate, most auto loans are recourse loans to ensure the lender receive full debt payments.
Recourse Loans Pros and Cons
For borrowers, recourse loans have both pros and and at least one con. You should evaluate each before deciding to take out a recourse loan.
Although they may seem riskier upfront, recourse loans are still attractive to borrowers.
- Easier underwriting and approval. Because a recourse loan is less risky for lenders, the underwriting and approval process is more manageable for borrowers to navigate.
- Lower credit score. Itâs easier for people with lower credit scores to get approved for a recourse loan. This is because more collateral is available to the lender if the borrower defaults on the loan.
- Lower interest rate. Recourse loans typically have lower interest rates than nonrecourse loans.
The one major disadvantage of a recourse loan is the risk involved. With a recourse loan, the borrower is held personally liable. This means that if the borrower does default, more than just the loanâs collateral could be at stake.
Loans can be divided into two types, recourse loans and nonrecourse loans. Recourse loans, such as hard money loans, allow the lender to pursue more than what is listed as collateral in the loan agreement if a borrower defaults on the loan. Be sure to check your stateâs laws about determining when a loan is in default. While there are advantages to recourse loans, which are often used to finance construction, buy vehicles or invest in real estate, such as lower interest rates and a more straightforward approval process, they carry more risk than nonrecourse loans.
Tips on Borrowing
- Borrowing money from a lender is a significant commitment. Consider talking to a financial advisor before you take that step to be completely clear about how it will impact your finances. Finding a financial advisor doesnât have to be difficult. In just a few minutes our financial advisor search tool can help you find a professional in your area to work with. If youâre ready, get started now.
- For many people, taking out a mortgage is the biggest debt they incur. Our mortgage calculator will tell you how much your monthly payments will be, based on the principal, interest rate, type of mortgage and length of the term.
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The post What Is a Recourse Loan? appeared first on SmartAsset Blog.
In a recession itâs common for many people to rely on credit cards and loans to balance their finances. Itâs the ultimate catch-22 since, during a recession, these financial products can be even harder to qualify for.
This holds true, according to historical data from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. It found that during the 2007 recession, loan growth at traditional banks decreased and remained deflated over the next four years.Â
Credit can be a powerful tool to help you make ends meet and keep moving forward financially. Hereâs what you can do if youâre struggling to access credit during a weak economy.
How Does a Financial Downturn Affect Lending?
Giving someone a loan or approving them for a credit card carries a certain amount of risk for a lender. After all, thereâs a chance you could stop making payments and the lender could lose all the funds you borrowed, especially with unsecured loans.
For lenders, this concept is called, âdelinquencyâ. Theyâre constantly trying to get their delinquency rate lower; in a booming economy, the delinquency rate at commercial banks is usually under 2%.
Lending becomes riskier in a weak economy. There are all sorts of reasons a person might stop paying their loan or credit card bills. You might lose your job, or unexpected medical bills might demand more of your budget. Because lenders know the chances of anyone becoming delinquent are much higher in a weak economy, they tend to restrict their lending criteria so theyâre only serving the lowest-risk borrowers. That can leave people with poor credit in a tough financial position.
Before approving you for a loan, lenders typically look at criteria such as:
- Income stability
- Debt-to-income ratio
- Credit score
- Co-signers, if applicable
- Down payment size (for loans, like a mortgage)
Does this mean youâre completely out of luck if you have bad credit? Not necessarily, but you might need to take the time to understand all of your alternatives.
5 Ways to Help Get Your Credit Application Approved
Although every lender has different approval criteria, these strategies speak to typical commonalities across most lenders.
1. Pay Off Debt
Paying off some of your debt might feel bold, but it can be helpful when it comes to an application for credit. Repaying your debt reduces your debt-to-income ratio, typically an important metric lenders look at for loans such as a mortgage. Also, paying off debt could help improve your credit utilization ratio, which is a measure of how much available credit youâre currently using right now. If youâre using most of the credit thatâs available to you, that could indicate you donât have enough cash on hand.
Not sure what debt-to-income ratio to aim for? The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau suggests keeping yours no higher than 43%.
2. Find a Cosigner
For those with poor credit, a trusted cosigner can make the difference between getting approved for credit or starting back at square one.
When someone cosigns for your loan theyâll need to provide information on their income, employment and credit score â as if they were applying for the loan on their own. Ideally, their credit score and income should be higher than yours. This gives your lender enough confidence to write the loan knowing that, if you canât make your payments, your cosigner is liable for the bill.
Since your cosigner is legally responsible for your debt, their credit is negatively impacted if you stop making payments. For this reason, many people are wary of cosigning.
In a recession, it might be difficult to find someone with enough financial stability to cosign for you. If you go this route, have a candid conversation with your prospective cosigner in advance about expectations in the worst-case scenario.
3. Raise Your Credit Score
If your credit score just isnât high enough to qualify for conventional credit you could take some time to focus on improving it. Raising your credit score might sound daunting, but itâs definitely possible.Â
Here are some strategies you can pursue:
- Report your rent payments. Rent payments arenât typically included as part of the equation when calculating your credit score, but they can be. Some companies, like Rental Kharma, will report your timely rent payments to credit reporting agencies. Showing a history of positive payment can help improve your credit score.Â
- Make sure your credit report is updated. Itâs not uncommon for your credit report to have mistakes in it that can artificially deflate your credit score. Request a free copy of your credit report every year, which you can do online through Experian Free Credit Report. If you find inaccuracies, disputing them could help improve your credit score.Â
- Bring all of your payments current. If youâve fallen behind on any payments, bringing everything current is an important part of improving your credit score. If your lender or credit card company is reporting late payments a long history of this can damage your credit score. When possible speak to your creditor to work out a solution, before you anticipate being late on a payment.
- Use a credit repair agency. If tackling your credit score is overwhelming you could opt to work with a reputable credit repair agency to help you get back on track. Be sure to compare credit repair agencies before moving forward with one. Companies that offer a free consultation and have a strong track record are ideal to work with.
Raising your credit isnât an immediate solution â itâs not going to help you get a loan or qualify for a credit card tomorrow. However, making these changes now can start to add up over time.
4. Find an Online Lender or Credit Union
Although traditional banks can be strict with their lending policies, some smaller lenders or credit unions offer some flexibility. For example, credit unions are authorized to provide Payday Loan Alternatives (PALs). These are small-dollar, short-term loans available to borrowers whoâve been a member of qualifying credit unions for at least a month.
Some online lenders might also have more relaxed criteria for writing loans in a weak economy. However, you should remember that if you have bad credit youâre likely considered a riskier applicant, which means a higher interest rate. Before signing for a line of credit, compare several lenders on the basis of your quoted APR â which includes any fees like an origination fee, your loanâs term, and any additional fees, such as late fees.
5. Increase Your Down Payment
If youâre trying to apply for a mortgage or auto loan, increasing your down payment could help if youâre having a tough time getting approved.
When you increase your down payment, you essentially decrease the size of your loan, and lower the lenderâs risk. If you donât have enough cash on hand to increase your down payment, this might mean opting for a less expensive car or home so that the lump sum down payment that you have covers a greater proportion of the purchase cost.
Loans vs. Credit Cards: Differences in Credit Approval
Not all types of credit are created equal. Personal loans are considered installment credit and are repaid in fixed payments over a set period of time. Credit cards are considered revolving credit, you can keep borrowing to your approved limit as long as you make your minimum payments.
When it comes to credit approvals, one benefit loans have over credit cards is that you might be able to get a secured loan. A secured loan means the lender has some piece of collateral they can recover from you should you stop making payments.
The collateral could be your home, car or other valuable asset, like jewelry or equipment. Having that security might give the lender more flexibility in some situations because they know that, in the worst case scenario, they could sell the collateral item to recover their loss.
The Bottom Line
Borrowing during a financial downturn can be difficult and it might not always be the answer to your situation. Adding to your debt load in a weak economy is a risk. For example, you could unexpectedly lose your job and not be able to pay your bills. Having an added monthly debt payment in your budget can add another challenge to your financial situation.
However, if you can afford to borrow funds during an economic recession, reduced interest rates in these situations can lessen the overall cost of borrowing.
These tips can help tidy your finances so youâre a more attractive borrower to lenders. Thereâs no guarantee your application will be accepted, but improving your finances now gives you a greater borrowing advantage in the future.
The post How to Get Approved for Credit in a Financial Downturn appeared first on Good Financial CentsÂ®.
Well, itâs a new year and it certainly didnât begin quietly. Might as well address the elephant in the room when it comes to your mortgage. This isnât the first time Iâve discussed the possibility of war and its impact on mortgage rates, with the last discussion centered on the Syrian conflict back in 2013. [&hellip
The post Mortgage Rates vs. a Potential War with Iran first appeared on The Truth About Mortgage.
If and when you take out a mortgage, youâll be faced with an important choice. To pay or not pay mortgage points. In short, those who pay points should hypothetically secure a lower interest rate than those who do not pay points, all else being equal. Thatâs because mortgage points, at least the ones that [&hellip
The post An Alternative to Paying Mortgage Points first appeared on The Truth About Mortgage.