Tag: Auto

How to Build Credit with Fingerhut

If you’ve been wanting to make a big purchase, but your credit is less than spectacular, you might have looked into Fingerhut as an option. 

Fingerhut is an online catalog and retailer that showcases a multitude of products. On this website, customers can shop for anything from electronics to home décor to auto parts. Fingerhut offers financing through their own line of credit, making it appealing to shoppers with poor credit or a nonexistent credit history. Many consumers have a better chance of getting approved by Fingerhut, than they might have of getting approved through most other credit card companies. It’s an option worth looking into if you want to improve your credit score through credit utilization.  

The major difference between Fingerhut and credit cards that cater to low credit scores is that Fingerhut credit is exclusively available for use with its own company’s products and authorized partners. You’ll also find that the company’s products are pricier than they would be through most other retailers, while also bearing the weight of higher interest rates. While it might seem like a good idea if you don’t have good credit, it’s best to familiarize yourself with the ins and outs of the company beforehand so that you know what you’re signing up for. 

How Fingerhut credit works

When you apply for a Fingerhut credit account, you can get approved by one of two accounts:

  • WebBank/Fingerhut Advantage Credit Account.
  • Fingerhut FreshStart Installment Loan issued by WebBank.

As it happens, by submitting your application, you are applying for both credit accounts. Applicants will be considered for the Fingerhut FreshStart Installment Loan issued by WebBank as a direct result of being denied for the WebBank/Fingerhut Advantage Credit Account. In other words, you won’t have a way of knowing which one you will be approved for prior to applying. Both credit accounts are issued by WebBank and are set up so that customers can purchase merchandise by paying for them on an installment plan with a 29.99% Annual Percentage Rate (APR). These are the only things that the different Fingerhut credit accounts have in common.

The WebBank/Fingerhut Advantage Credit Account

The WebBank/Fingerhut Advantage Credit Account works very much like an unsecured credit card, except that it’s an account that you can only use it to shop on Fingerhut or through its authorized partners. 

This credit account features:

  •  No annual fee.
  • A 29.99% interest rate.
  • A $38 fee on late or returned payments.
  • A possible down payment; it may or may not be required. You won’t know prior to applying. 

If you get denied for this line of credit, your application will automatically be reviewed for the Fingerhut FreshStart Credit Account issued by WebBank, which is both structured and conditioned differently.

Fingerhut FreshStart Installment Loan issued by WebBank

If you get approved for the Fingerhut FreshStart Installment Loan, you must follow these three steps to activate it:

  • Make a one-time purchase of no less than $50.
  • Put a minimum payment of $30 down on your purchase, and your order will be shipped to you upon receipt of your payment. You may not use a credit card to make down payments, but you can use a debit card, check, or a money order. 
  • Make monthly payments on your balance within a span of six to eight months.

You can become eligible to upgrade to the Fingerhut Advantage Credit Account so long as you are able to pay off your balance during that time frame or sooner without having made any late payments. Keep in mind that paying for the entire balance in full at the time you make your down payment will result in you not qualifying for the loan as well as being ineligible for upgrade. 

How a Fingerhut credit account helps raise your credit score

The fact that it can help you improve your credit is one of the biggest advantages of using a Fingerhut credit account. 

When you make your payments to Fingerhut in full and on-time, the company will report that activity to the three major credit bureaus. This means that your good credit utilization won’t go unnoticed nor unrewarded. If you use Fingerhut to improve your credit score, you will eventually be able to apply for a credit card through a traditional credit card company—one where you can make purchases anywhere, not just at Fingerhut. 

Additional benefits of a Fingerhut credit account

Besides using it as a tool to repair your bad credit, there are a few other benefits to using a WebBank Fingerhut Advantage Credit Account such as:

  • No annual fee.
  • Fingerhut has partnerships with a handful of other retailers, which means you can use your Fingerhut credit line to make purchases through a variety of companies. Fingerhut is partnered with companies that specialize in everything from floral arrangements to insurance plans.
  • There are no penalties on the WebBank Fingerhut Advantage Credit Account when you pay off your balance early.

How to build credit with Fingerhut

Fingerhut credit works the same way as the loans from credit card companies work: in the form of a revolving loan. 

A revolving loan is when you are designated a maximum credit limit by your lender, in which you are allowed to spend. Whatever you spend, you are expected to pay back in full and on-time through a series of monthly payments. This act of borrowing money and paying off bills using your Fingerhut account causes your balances to revolve and fluctuate, hence, its name. 

Your credit activity, good or bad, gets reported to the three major credit bureaus and in turn, will have an effect on your credit report. Revolving loans play a large role in your credit score, affecting approximately 30% of your score through your credit utilization ratio. If your credit utilization ratio, the amount of available revolving credit divided by your amount owed, is too high then your credit score will plummet. 

When using a Fingerhut account, the goal is to try to keep your amounts owed as low as you possibly can so that you can maintain a low utilization ratio, and as a result, have a higher credit score.

Alternatives to Fingerhut

If you’ve done all your research and decided that Fingerhut isn’t the right choice for you, there are other options that might serve you better, even if you have bad credit. There are a variety of secured credit cards that you can apply for such as:

  • The OpenSky Secured Visa Credit Card: You will need a $200 security deposit to qualify for this secured credit card, but you can most likely get approved without a credit check or even a bank account. It can also be used to improve your credit, as this card does report to the three major credit bureaus. While this card does come with an annual $35 fee, you can use it to shop anywhere that will accept a Visa. 
  • Discover it Secured:  For all those opposed to paying an annual fee of any sort, this card might just be the one for you. With a $0 annual fee and the ability to earn rewards through purchases, there’s not much to frown about with this secured credit card. One of the best perks, is that it allows you the chance to upgrade to an unsecured card after only eight months. 
  • Deserve Pro Mastercard: This card is a desirable option for those with a short credit history. There is no annual fee and no security deposit required and, if your credit history isn’t very long-winded, that’s okay. The issuers for this card may use their own process to decide whether or not you qualify for credit, by evaluating other factors such as income and employment. This card is especially nifty because you can get cash-back rewards such as 3% back on every dollar that you spend on travel and entertainment, 2% back on every dollar spent at restaurants, and 1% cash back on every dollar spent on anything else. 

Final Thoughts 

Fingerhut is an option worth looking into for those with bad credit or a short credit history. If you want to use a Fingerhunt credit account to improve your credit score, be sure to use it wisely and make all of your payments on time, just as you would with any other credit card.

Even though it might be easy to get approved, the prices and interest rates on items sold through Fingerhut are set higher than they would be at most other retailers, so it’s important to consider this before applying. 

There are a ton of options available, regardless of what your credit report looks like, if you are trying to improve your credit. If the prices of Fingerhut’s merchandise are enough to scare you away, you might want to consider applying for a secured credit card. 

How to Build Credit with Fingerhut is a post from Pocket Your Dollars.

Source: pocketyourdollars.com

Which United Airlines credit card should you choose?

If you regularly fly with United Airlines or you live in or near Chicago, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, Newark or San Francisco – the airline’s hubs – picking up an United Airlines credit card could make a ton of sense.

Not only can a United credit card help you earn MileagePlus miles faster, but you might also get a few handy perks, including free checked bags.

At the moment, United Airlines offers a handful of co-branded United credit cards for individuals or small business owners. But, how do you know which United Airlines credit cards are best?

Our guide aims to help you compare options so you wind up with the right airline credit card for your needs and your travel goals.

See related: United MileagePlus Dining Guide

Here’s the roundup:
United Gateway Card

  • Best card for big United spenders: Chase United Club Infinite Card
  • Best card for frequent flyers: Chase United Explorer Card
  • Best card for small business owners: United Business Card
  • Best card for frequent business travelers: United Club Business Card
  • Guide to United Airlines credit cards

    Compare fees, rewards, perks and extras:  Select the credit card you’re interested in…   Chase United ExplorerChase United Club Infinite CardChase United Business CardChase United Club Business Card

    United Explorer Card

    Annual fee
    • $95, waived the first year
    Sign-up bonus
    • 70,000 miles if you spend $2,000 in first 3 months
    In-flight discount
    • 25%
    No foreign transaction fees
    • Yes
    Extra bonus on certain categories
    • 2 miles per dollar spent on United Airlines, hotel and restaurant purchases, including delivery services like Caviar, DoorDash, Grubhub and Seamless
    • 1 mile per dollar spent everywhere else
    Limit on miles earned
    • No
    First checked bag free
    • Yes, for you and a companion on the same reservation
    Priority boarding
    • Yes, for you and companions on the same reservation
    Reduced mileage awards
    • No
    Redeem miles rebate
    • No
    Benefits
    • 2 United Club one-time passes
    • Tickets bought using miles eligible for free upgrades
    • Trip delay, baggage and auto rental insurance
    • Concierge service
    • Chase’s Luxury Hotel & Resort Collection perks, including breakfast for 2, free Wi-Fi and meal/spa credits
    Global Entry/TSA Precheck credit
    • Yes, up to $100 every four years
    Card network
    • Visa

    Chase United Club Infinite Card

    Anual fee
    • $525, waived first year
    Sign-up bonus
    • None
    In-flight discount
    • 25%
    No foreign transaction fees
    • Yes
    Extra bonus on certain categories
    • 4 miles per dollar spent on United purchases
    • 2 miles per dollar spent on dining
    • 2 miles per dollar spent on all other travel (including other airlines)
    • 1 mile per dollar on all other purchases
    Limit on miles earned
    • No
    First checked bag free
    • Yes, 2 bags for you and 2 for a companion on the same reservation
    Priority boarding
    • Yes, for you and companions on the same reservation
    Reduced mileage awards
    • No
    Redeem miles rebate
    • No
    Benefits
    • United Club and Star Alliance lounge membership
    • Priority check-in and screening
    • Waived fees on last-minute tickets bought with miles
    • Miles tickets eligible for free upgrades
    • Trip delay, baggage and auto rental insurance
    • Concierge service
    • Chase’s Luxury Hotel & Resort Collection perks, including free breakfast for 2, free Wi-Fi and meal/spa credits
    Global Entry/TSA Precheck credit
    • Yes, up to $100 every four years
    Card network
    • Visa

    Chase United Business Card

    Annual fee
    • $99, waived the first year
    Sign-up bonus
    • 60,000 miles after spending $3,000 in first 3 months
    In-flight discount
    • 25%
    No foreign transaction fees
    • Yes
    Extra bonus on certain categories
    • 2 miles per dollar spent on United Airlines, restaurant, gas and office supplies purchases
    • 2 miles per dollar spent on transit and commute purchases, including taxis, tolls and rideshares
    • 1 mile per dollar spent on everything else
    Limit on miles earned
    • No
    First checked bag free
    • Yes, for you and a companion on the same reservation
    Priority boarding
    • Yes, for you and companions on the same reservation
    Reduced mileage awards
    • No
    Redeem miles rebate
    • No
    Benefits
    • 2 United Club one-time passes
    • 5,000 bonus miles on your account anniversary if you have both a United Business Card and personal United card
    • $100 annual United travel credit after 7 United flight purchases of $100 or more
    • Trip, baggage and car rental insurance
    Global Entry/TSA Precheck credit
    • No
    Card network
    • Visa

    Chase United Club Business Card

    Annual fee
    • $450
    Sign-up bonus
    • 50,000 miles after spending $3,000 in first 3 months
    In-flight discount
    • 25%
    No foreign transaction fees
    • Yes
    Extra bonus on certain categories
    • 2 miles per dollar spent on United Airlines purchases
    • 1.5 miles per dollar spent on everything else
    Limit on miles earned
    • No
    First checked bag free
    • Yes, 2 bags for you and 2 for a companion on the same reservation
    Priority boarding
    • Yes, for you and companions on the same reservation
    Reduced mileage awards
    • No
    Redeem miles rebate
    • No
    Benefits
    • United Club and Star Alliance membership
    • Priority check-in and screening
    • Concierge service
    • Trip, baggage and car rental insurance
    • Discoverist status in World of Hyatt loyalty program
    • President’s Circle Elite status in Hertz Gold Plus Rewards loyalty program
    • Chase’s Luxury Hotel & Resort Collection perks, including free breakfast, free Wi-Fi, dining/spa credits and upgrades
    Global Entry/TSA Precheck credit
    • No
    Card network
    • Visa

    Lifetime Globalist

    How to qualify
    • 1,000,000 base points over the course of your membership
    Base-point rate
    • 6.5 points/$1
    Benefits
    • Receive Globalist benefits indefinitely, with no requirement to qualify for status each year

     

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    Best United Airlines credit card with no annual fee: United Gateway Card

    If you’re looking for a United rewards card with no annual fee, the United Gateway Card is the best (and only) option to consider. This card starts you off with 10,000 bonus miles when you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first three months your account is open. You also earn:

    • 2 miles per $1 on United flights, purchases made at gas stations and on transit and commuting
    • 1 miles per $1 on all other purchases

    As an added bonus, you’ll even rack up 3 miles per $1 on up to $1,500 in grocery store spending per month through Sept. 30, 2021. Aside from not charging an annual fee, other United Airlines credit card benefits include 25% off in-flight purchases and no foreign transaction fees. That means this card is rather limited in terms of perks, but that’s par for the course when it comes to credit cards with no annual fee.

    Best United Airlines credit card for frequent flyers: United Explorer Card

    Frequent flyers would be better off with a United credit card with more benefits, which they’ll find with the United Explorer Card. First off, you can earn 70,000 bonus miles – 60,000 when you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three months your account is open and another 10,000 bonus miles when you spend $6,000 in total purchases in the first six months of account opening. In terms of daily spending, you can rack up:

    • 2 miles per $1 on United purchases, dining including delivery and takeout and hotels booked directly
    • 1 mile per $1 spent on other purchases

    United Airlines credit card benefits you’ll receive include two United Club passes, a first free checked bag, a $100 credit toward Global Entry or TSA Precheck membership, priority boarding, 25% off in-flight purchases and no foreign transaction fees. Not only are these perks ideal for frequent United flyers who want a convenient travel experience, but they can help cardholders save money, too. This card does charge a $95 annual fee, but it’s waived the first year.

    Best United Airlines credit card for big United spenders: United Club Infinite Card

    If you’re a big United spender and you fly with the airline all the time, you’ll probably want a card that lets you rack up a ton of miles while also affording you a comfortable travel experience. The United Club Infinite Card is perfect in either case. This card replaced an older version of the United Club Card, but it offers even better rewards and perks designed with luxury travelers in mind.

    As a cardholder, you’ll earn:

    • 4 miles per $1 spent with United Airlines
    • 2 miles per $1 spent on dining (including takeout and delivery) and travel
    • 1 mile per $1 spent on all other purchases

    In terms of perks, you won’t be disappointed. Not only does this card give you membership in the airline’s United Club lounges ($650 value), but if you travel internationally, you will be able to access lounges for any airlines that are part of the Star Alliance, including Aer Lingus, Singapore Airlines and Lufthansa. Meanwhile, you also get two free checked bags for yourself and a traveling companion on the same reservation, as well as priority check in, priority boarding, priority securing screening, 25% off in-flight purchases and no foreign transaction fees. You’ll also get a $100 credit toward Global Entry or TSA Precheck membership.

    There is one major downside to this card: It comes with a $525 annual fee and there is no sign-up bonus. On the bright side, the annual fee is waived for your first year.

    See related: When is a credit card annual fee worth it?

    Best United Airlines credit card for small business

    If you’re a small business owner, you may also want to apply for one of the two United Airlines credit cards for business. The United Business Card is a good option for small business owners who travel for work or for leisure a few times per month, and this is due to its cardholder benefits and low annual fee.

    You’ll start off by earning 60,000 miles when you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening. You’ll also earn:

    • 2 miles per $1 spent on United purchases, dining including takeout and delivery, gas stations, office supply stores, local transit and commuting
    • 1 mile per $1 spent on other purchases

    Like all good United Airlines credit card offers, the United Business Card also comes with a handful of perks which include 5,000 miles on your cardholder anniversary each year when you carry a business credit card and a personal credit card from United Airlines. You’ll also receive two one-time United Club passes, a first checked bag free, priority boarding, a $100 United travel credit when you make at least seven purchases of $100 or more with United each year, 25% off in-flight purchases and no foreign transaction fees. A $99 annual fee applies, but it’s waived the first year.

    Best United Airlines credit card for business travelers

    Finally, United Airlines offers a business credit card that is perfect for frequent business travelers who want to earn a ton of miles and score lounge access when they fly. The United Club Business Credit Card starts you off with 50,000 miles when you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening. You’ll also rack up:

    • 2 miles per $1 spent United purchases
    • 1.5 miles on everything else

    While this card does have a $450 annual fee, you’ll get plenty of value when it comes to the perks you receive. Not only will you get a United Club membership valued at $650, but you’ll get a first and second free checked bag, priority check-in, security screening and baggage handling, 25% off in-flight purchases and no foreign transaction fees.

    Who should get a United Airlines credit card?

    The best United Airlines credit card offers make it easy to rack up miles for each dollar you spend, and most offer a generous bonus when you meet a minimum spending requirement. With that being said, United Airlines credit cards are really best for people who are loyal to the airline, or those who live in a United hub and wind up flying with the airline often by default.

    If you aren’t loyal to United Airlines or you want more options when it comes to cashing in your points, you may also want to consider a Chase travel credit card that lets you transfer your points to United at a 1:1 ratio, or redeem for other types of travel.

    As an example, both the Chase Sapphire Reserve and Chase Sapphire Preferred Card* let you earn points you can transfer to United, as well as other airline and hotel partners like Southwest, British Airways, Emirates, World of Hyatt, Marriott Bonvoy and more. Chase credit cards also let you redeem points for travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal, which gives you even more flexibility.

    See related: How to earn and use Chase Ultimate Rewards points

    How much are United miles worth?

    Based on our internal comparisons, United miles are worth approximately 1.5 cents each. This means that, generally speaking, 60,000 miles are worth approximately $900. However, keep in mind that you may get more value if you redeem miles for premium flights or international flights.

    Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to get significant value out of your United miles, whether you want to travel the world or enjoy a relaxing trip closer to home.

    *All information about the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card has been collected independently by CreditCards.com and has not been reviewed by the issuer. This offer is no longer available on our site.

    Source: creditcards.com

    Financial Lessons Learned During the Pandemic

    2020 has shaped all of us in some way or another financially. Whether it is being reminded of the importance of living within our means or saving for a rainy day, these positive financial habits and lessons are timeless and ones we can take into the new year. 

    While everyone is on a very unique financial journey, we can still learn from each other. As we wrap up this year, it’s important to reflect on some of these positive financial habits and lessons and take the ones we need into 2021. Here are some of the top financial lessons:

    Living Within Your Means

    It’s been said for years, centuries even, that one should live within one’s means. Well, I think a lot of people were reminded of this financial principle given the year we’ve had. Living within your means is another way of saying don’t spend more than you earn. I would take it one step further to say, set up your financial budget so you pay yourself first. Then only spend what is leftover on all the fun or variable items.

    Setting up your budget in the Mint app or updating your budget in Mint to reflect the changes in your income or expenses is a great activity to do before the year ends. Follow the 50/20/30 rule of thumb and ask yourself these questions:

    • Are you spending more than you earn?
    • Are there fixed bills you can reduce so you can save more for your financial goals? 
    • Can you reduce your variable spending and save that money instead?

    The idea is to find a balance that allows you to pay for your fixed bills, save automatically every month and then only spend what is left over. If you don’t have the money, then you cannot use debt to buy something. This is a great way to get back in touch with reality and also appreciate your money more. 

    Have a Cash Cushion

    Having a cash cushion gives you peace of mind since you know that if anything unexpected comes up, which of course always happens in life, you have money that is easy to liquidate to pay for it versus paying it with debt or taking from long-term investments. Having an adequate cash cushion this year offered some people a huge sigh of relief when they lost their job or perhaps had reduced income for a few months. With a cash cushion or rainy day fund, they were still able to cover their bills with their savings.

    Many people are making it their 2021 goal to build, replenish, or maintain their cash cushion.  Typically, you want a cash cushion of about 3- 6 months of your core expenses. Your cash cushion is usually held in a high-yield saving account that you can access immediately if needed. However, you want to think of it almost as out of sight out of mind so it’s really there for bigger emergencies or opportunities that come up.

    Asset Allocation 

    Having the right asset allocation and understanding your risk tolerance and timeframe of your investments is always important. With a lot of uncertainty and volatility in the stock market this year, more and more people are paying attention to their portfolio allocation and learning what that really means when it comes to risk and returns. Learning more about which investments you actually hold within your 401(k) or IRA is always important. I think the lesson this year reminded everybody that it’s your money and it’s up to you to know.

    Even if you have an investment manager helping you, you still need to understand how your portfolio is allocated and what that means in terms of risk and what you can expect in portfolio volatility (ups and downs) versus the overall stock market. A lot of people watch the news and hear the stock market is going up or down, but fail to realize that may not be how your portfolio is actually performing. So get clear. Make sure that your portfolio matches your long term goal of retirement and risk tolerance and don’t make any irrational short term decisions with your long-term money based on the stock market volatility or what the news and media are showcasing.

    Right Insurance Coverage

    We have all been reminded of the importance of health this year. Our own health and the health of our loved ones should be a top priority. It’s also an extremely important part of financial success over time. It is said, insurance is the glue that can hold everything together in your financial life if something catastrophic happens. Insurances such as health, auto, home, disability, life, long-term care, business, etc. are really important but having the right insurance policy and coverage in place for each is the most important part.

    Take time and review all the insurance coverage you have and make sure it is up to date and still accurate given your life circumstances and wishes. Sometimes you may have a life insurance policy in place for years but fail to realize there is now a better product in the marketplace with more coverage or better terms. With any insurance, it is wise to never cancel a policy before you a full review and new policy to replace it already in place. The last thing you want is to be uninsured. Make sure you also have an adequate estate plan whether it’s a trust or will that showcases your wishes very clearly. This way, you can communicate that with your trust/will executor’s, beneficiaries, family members, etc. so they are clear on everything as well. 

    Financial lessons will always be there. Year after year, life throws us challenges and successes to remind us of what is most important. Take time, reflect, and get a game plan in place for 2021 that takes everything you have learned up until now into account. This will help you set the tone for an abundant and thriving new financial year. 

    The post Financial Lessons Learned During the Pandemic appeared first on MintLife Blog.

    Source: mint.intuit.com

    Can I Get a Car Loan If I Have No Credit?

    buy a car with no credit

    Yes, lenders have auto loans for people with no credit, but getting one is not guaranteed. It will depend on the lender’s flexibility, the down payment you can afford, and the kind of car you want to buy. It may even depend on how you ask.

    Phil Reed, senior consumer advice editor for the consumer auto site Edmunds has some good advice on how to get a car loan with no credit. He says a surprising number of people simply walk into a dealership and say, “Hi, I have no credit, and I want to buy a car.” He doesn’t recommend this approach. Instead, he offers these five tips for people who need a no-credit car loan.

    1. Get Pre-Approved

    If you have no credit or a thin credit profile, you should try to get preapproved for a loan before heading to the dealership. This will let you compare rates with any loan the dealer may offer. It may also give you a bargaining chip when negotiating the final deal.

    If you have a relationship with a bank or credit union, you should start looking for financing there. Reed recommends making an appointment to meet with your bank’s loan officer in person.

    “Make a case for yourself,” he says. That means bringing your pay stubs and bank account records with you. You should also check your credit reports, if they exist, and credit scores. You want to know as much about your credit profile as a lender would. If you don’t know your credit score, don’t worry—you can check your credit score for free every month on Credit.com.

    If you can’t get a loan from your financial institution, you may be able to find a no-credit auto loan online. Just make sure it’s from a reputable lender. Credit.com can also help you find auto loan offers from trustworthy lending institutions.

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    2. Negotiate a Good Price

    A dealership could beat the offer you get from your bank or credit union. However, if you know you’re already approved for a loan, you can focus on comparing rates and prices instead of worrying about financing.

    Reed says that it’s important to be wary. You don’t want to feel so indebted to the dealer for “giving” you a loan that you fail to negotiate the price of the car. And if the dealer’s financing isn’t better than the bank’s, at least you still have an approval in your pocket.

    Having a good down payment or trade-in can also help your case. A trade-in would reduce the amount you’ll need to borrow, and a larger down payment would show the lender some commitment on your part. Edmunds recommends putting at least 10% down on a used car, so start saving now.

    3. Choose the Right Car

    Be sure the car you’re buying is affordable for you, even if it’s not the car you’d choose if you had more money and better credit. “If you have no credit, it’s not the time to get your dream car,” Reed says. “You have to choose the right car and the right amount [to borrow].”

    You want reliable transportation you can afford. Making regular, on-time payments won’t just pay down your load, it will also build your credit, so don’t get a loan that requires higher payments than you can comfortably make.

    Sites like Kelley Blue Book, Cars.com, and Edmunds can help you find information on the cars that match your budget. When you’re at the car dealership, remember your budget and don’t spring for optional add-ons you don’t really need.

    4. Don’t Let Interest Rates Scare You Off

    Reed cautions that when you get a loan with no credit, the interest rates you’re offered may seem appallingly high, but that’s part of the cost of having no credit history.

    When you don’t have a credit score, lenders can’t assess how big of a risk they’re taking by giving you a loan. To protect the money they’re lending, they will likely treat you as a high-risk borrower, which means the loan will have a higher interest rate.

    As you make payments, you’ll establish a pattern of reliably paying back money. Over time, you can improve your interest rate by refinancing. Reed says that, according to a dealership employee, a customer once lowered his interest rate from 13% to 2% in two years’ time by improving his credit and refinancing.

    5. Give Yourself Some Credit, Not a Cosigner

    Reed advises against cosigning—a process that involves checking someone else’s credit and using that score to qualify for a loan. It might get you a lower rate and help you get approved, but Reed says that if you bite the bullet and pay a higher interest rate rather than get a cosigner, you’ll have the opportunity to build credit.

    In addition, having a cosigner will tie that person’s credit to yours, and the way you repay your car loan will influence their credit. Reed says if you’re going to do it, do it only as a last resort, and make sure the cosigner is a relative.

    Bottom line, though, as Reed explains, “It’s asking a lot.” It’s better to finance the car yourself, pay on time, and build your credit. That way, the next time you need a loan, you won’t have to worry about whether you’ll qualify.

    Good credit doesn’t just help you get reliable transportation: good credit can make a huge difference in improving your financial security and the peace of mind that comes with it. Start tracking your credit for free today at Credit.com. Your new car will get you moving around town, but your new credit score will get you moving up in the world.

    Image: iStock

    The post Can I Get a Car Loan If I Have No Credit? appeared first on Credit.com.

    Source: credit.com

    Plymouth Rock Assurance Review

    Founded in 1982, Plymouth Rock Assurance provides a selection of property insurance and bodily injury insurance products to customers across the states of New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire.

    In this Plymouth Rock Assurance review, we’ll compare this provider to other regional and national insurance carriers, helping you find the best insurance policy for your needs.

    Plymouth Rock Car Insurance Coverage

    Plymouth Rock Assurance offers a host of car insurance coverage options, allowing you to meet the minimum requirements in your state and go above and beyond those requirements when needed,

    Bodily Injury Coverage: Limited to a fixed amount of money per person and per accident, bodily injury insurance covers the harm done to other people in an accident. It is designed to help them with their medical bills and other payments resulting from an accident.

    Property Damage Coverage: Also fixed to a specific sum, property damage insurance is designed to cover the other driver’s vehicle in an accident, as well as other property that you damage.

    Collision Coverage: A type of insurance that covers you for damages done to your own car. With collision insurance, you will be covered regardless of who caused the accident and you’ll also get cover if the accident involves an obstacle (tree, guardrail, wall, fence) as opposed to another vehicle. You will not, however, be covered if you hit a deer. One of the quirks of this coverage option is that you’re only covered for animal collisions if you swerve and hit a wall/tree.

    Comprehensive Coverage: With comprehensive coverage, you’re generally covered for the things that collision insurance can’t reach. It covers deer collisions and other accidents involving animal strikes and it also covers damage caused by weather and vandalism.

    Personal Injury Protection (PIP): This coverage option works like bodily injury coverage, only instead of protecting the other driver and their passengers, it protects you, covering you for lost wages and medical bills.

    Medical Payments: A type of insurance specifically designed to cover your medical bills. Unlike PIP, medical payments coverage will not give you money lost as a result of missed work.

    Underinsured/Uninsured Motorist Coverage: When the other driver’s insurance cannot cover your claims, either because they don’t have enough or they don’t have any, uninsured/underinsured motorist insurance will step in.

    Plymouth Rock Assurance Auto Insurance Features

    Plymouth Rock Assurance has three different levels of auto insurance: Plus, Preferred, and Premier.  There are different coverage options available at each of these levels and you can upgrade if you feel that those options will serve you well.

    Some of the features offered at these different levels, along with the additional coverage offered to all policyholders, include:

    • Door to Door Valet Claim Service: Plymouth Rock auto insurance customers can arrange for their cars to be picked up from their homes and taken to a nearby repair shop. Once it has been fixed, it will be returned at a time that is convenient to the policyholder.
    • Guaranteed Repairs: If performed at a listed repair shop, all repairs will be guaranteed by Plymouth Rock.
    • Comprehensive Claim Forgiveness: Plymouth Rock promises that your insurance premiums will not increase just because you make a claim about a stolen or weather-damaged vehicle.
    • Get Home Safe: If, for whatever reason, you don’t feel safe to drive home, Plymouth Rock will cover your taxi ride. This can happen one time per year as part of most Plymouth Rock car insurance policies.
    • Glass Coverage: Plymouth Rock offers several coverage options and policy features related to windshield repair and glass repair. This includes a $100 glass deductible and a waived glass deductible repair.
    • New Car Replacement: If you have a new car that gets totaled within a specific timeframe, Plymouth Rock will replace it completely.
    • Crashbusters: Plymouth Rock will send a Crashbusters team to your location at your request. They will assess the damage done to your vehicle and can help you to file a claim.
    • Pet Injury: In the event that your pet gets injured during a car accident, some Plymouth Rock policyholders can claim a small portion of the vet fees. After all, your dog or cat needs cover too!
    • Roadside Assistance: With the Plymouth Rock roadside assistance program, you’ll be covered for some of the services charged on broken down vehicles at the roadside, including towing, tire changes, fuel delivery, and more. 
    • Key Replacement: Lost your key? With the right cover from Plymouth Rock, you can get a replacement set.

    Plymouth Rock Car Insurance Discounts

    Plymouth Rock discounts differ from state to state and from user to user. The biggest of these are multi-policy discounts, which are offered when you purchase multiple policies, and prepay discounts, which are offered when you pay your insurance premiums upfront. 

    Other available discounts include:

    • Paperless Filing: Go paperless and do your bit for the environment while helping to reduce waste and saving a few cents in the process.
    • Membership Organization Discounts: Make big savings when you are a member of specific organizations.
    • Senior Discount: Drivers above a certain age can apply.
    • Good Student Discount: Offered to young drivers who obtain at least a B average.
    • Safety Features and Anti-Theft Devices: If your car contains key features like trackers, alarms, airbags, seatbelts, and anti-lock brakes, these discounts will be available to you.
    • Driver Training: Complete driver training courses to prove your skills, show your commitment, and make some savings.
    • Low Mileage: Drive less and you could pay less.

    Other Plymouth Rock Insurance Products

    In addition to car insurance, the Plymouth Rock Assurance Corporation offers a wealth of insurance products. These are also confined to a very small part of the United States and include:

    Home Insurance

    Plymouth Rock offers comprehensive insurance quotes for all homeowners. These policies will cover you for the breakdown of key appliances, loss of personal items, identity theft protection, and even protection against hacks and cybercrime.

    You can apply for Plymouth Rock home insurance directly if you live in New Jersey, New York, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, and Connecticut.

    Renters Insurance

    Renters insurance will cover you for personal losses in the home, as well as providing liability protection for anyone who gets injured in your home. Plymouth Rock renters insurance is available in the same states as Plymouth Rock home insurance.

    Life Insurance

    Plymouth Rock life insurance policies are only available in the state of New Jersey. Both term life insurance and variable life insurance policies are available, of which term life is arguably the better choice.

    Policyholders can opt for a term of between 10 and 30 years, with the insurance premiums and payouts dependent on your age, health, medical history, and other key factors.

    Umbrella Insurance

    An umbrella insurance policy essentially increases your liability limits, going the extra mile to protect you. It is a supplemental insurance policy, designed to be added onto car insurance or homeowners insurance and to protect you and your family in the event that a claim is made against you.

    Plymouth Rock Customer Satisfaction and Claims Satisfaction

    Plymouth Rock has good ratings from customers and experts. It has an A- rating from AM Best, which isn’t the highest possible rating but is a great effort from a relatively small company (when compared to giants like GEICO and State Farm).

    The insurance claims process is quick and easy, and while there are a number of bad reviews and complaints out there, Plymouth Rock seems committed to remedying these as quickly and completely as possible.

    Furthermore, if you have a bad experience with Plymouth Rock, make your discontent clear and they will make a donation to a charity of your choice. This proves that Plymouth Rock is committed to keeping customers happy and willing to do whatever it takes.

    Bottom Line: Car Insurance in New England

    Plymouth Rock is a very highly-rated insurance company offering a selection of products directly and through insurance agents. It has accident forgiveness and claims forgiveness; offers a multitude of ways to pay your premiums, and the support team is available around the clock. 

    If you reside in one of the states where Plymouth Rock operates, visit PlymouthRock.com, get a quote, and start comparing. If not, don’t worry, as there are many other great insurance company reviews to check out, including The General, Progressive, and Esurance.

    Plymouth Rock Assurance Review is a post from Pocket Your Dollars.

    Source: pocketyourdollars.com

    How to Trade in a Car

    How to Trade in a Car

    If you have a car that you’ve been driving for a while and you’re ready to trade it in, you might be wondering how to get the best deal. When you’re trading in a car, it’s a good idea to forearm yourself by doing research into your car’s value. Read on for the rest of our tips on how to trade in a car. 

    Check out our personal loan calculator. 

    Know What Your Vehicle Is Worth

    So you want to trade in a car? You’ll have an easier time of it if you know what the car is worth before you head to the dealership. That way, you can negotiate from a position of strength. The classic resource for evaluating a car’s worth is the Kelley Blue Book but there are plenty of other options online, too. You can also search other vehicles of the same make and model that are for sale or have sold recently and assume that your car is worth roughly the same amount.

    When you’re in the research phase, remember to take the condition of the car into account. If your car has dings, scratches or stains, you can safely assume that it will sell for less than the same year, make and model of car in better condition. And it’s always a good idea to clean the interior and exterior of your vehicle before taking it to a dealership to trade in.

    Related Article: How Much Should I Spend on a Car?

    Negotiate

    How to Trade in a Car

    Once you’ve done your research you should have an idea of how much your vehicle is worth. That’s the number you can fall back on in negotiations with the appraiser at the dealership. When you’re at the dealership, don’t be afraid to mention – or show proof of – the research you did. As when you’re buying a car, you’ll probably engage in some back-and-forth negotiation with the folks at the dealership.

    The dealership will probably offer you less than what you saw in the Kelley Blue Book or the numbers you got from the National Automobile Dealers Association or Autotrader. You can counter with a higher offer, but remember that, unlike when you’re buying a car, the dealership has more leverage over you. They know you want to unload your car, get your cash and get out of there. The appraiser also takes factors into account that you might not be aware of and can’t control. For example, if the dealership already has a lot of mid-size sedans, it might not want to buy yours or might not offer as much for it.

    You can get appraisals from different dealerships or companies, or offer your car at an auction or an online auction like eBay. You don’t have to go with the first offer you get for the car. If you have the time, feel free to shop around for a better offer. You can also look for dealerships that are offering special promotions, such as a discount on a new car when you trade in an old car.

    Related Article: All About Car Loan Amortization

    Have a Plan for Your Earnings

    How to Trade in a Car

    It’s a good idea to have a plan for what you’ll do once you’ve traded the car in and you’ve gotten the money from the dealership. Do you need to buy a new (or used) car or can you do without? Will you use the money you make to pay down student loan debt or credit card debt? Will you bulk up your emergency fund or save for retirement? If you don’t make a plan for what to do with the money you earn by trading in your car, you risk spending it on an impulse purchase or on little treats over time. That’s fine if you can afford it, but if you have debt or savings goals to meet, it’s a good idea to commit to putting your car trade-in dollars toward those goals.

    Photo credit: Â©iStock.com/LorenzoPatoia, Â©iStock.com/sturti, Â©iStock.com/tzahiV

    The post How to Trade in a Car appeared first on SmartAsset Blog.

    Source: smartasset.com

    Say Farewell to Shag Carpet—Family Tackles 1970s Time Capsule Makeover

    Jacksons Time CapsuleDustin McKibben

    A Florida family has embarked on a wild ride to bring a 1970s time capsule in Indiana into the 21st century.

    On a whim, they bought a vintage gem in Fort Wayne, IN, covered top to bottom in shag carpet, after seeing it online. It was our most popular home of the week in early December and garnered hundreds of thousands of views—the Jackson family among them.

    How the time capsule was won

    “So we weren’t actually looking for a home to buy,” says Alysha Jackson, who lives in Clermont, FL, with her husband, Nate, two toddlers, and a rescue dog, Ingrid.

    “We have a home there and we love it,” she says. “We had talked about getting into real estate one day, but it wasn’t really on our radar yet. Then this house went viral.”

    Nate saw the house online and came in with his computer to show the listing to Alysha.

    “He’s like, ‘Hey, don’t shut this down right away, but what if we put in an offer on this house?’” she says.

    “Usually, I’m the skeptical one, but I just looked at it and had this gut feeling, and I said, ‘You know what? I actually love it. Let’s put in an offer.’”

    Interior of home in Fort Wayne, IN

    Dustin McKibben

    Interior

    Dustin McKibben

    Bathroom

    Dustin McKibben

    Like everyone who laid eyes on the photos, Nate and Alysha first spotted the colorful carpet. The deep shag is hard to miss: It’s everywhere, even on some of the walls.

    Alysha says her first reaction was: “Whoa, that’s a lot of shag carpet!” Then, she noticed how much potential the house had.

    “I kind of envisioned what it could look like with some renovating,” she says. “We’re staying thing true to the vibe of it and the time period, but we have to update it.”

    Aftermath of Christmas

    Jackson family

    Door

    Dustin McKibben

    Jackson family

    Dustin McKibben

    The Jacksons journey back in time

    Just a few weeks after putting in their offer, the two former teachers, who now sell on Amazon, packed up their family minivan (including Christmas presents) and headed north. Their work offers them the freedom to work where they choose.

    Since then, the family has been living bare-bones in the house, with just a few mattresses and other essential items. They have decided to live in the home as is for a while.

    ___

    Watch: Listing Agents Answer Our Burning Questions About the ‘Silence of the Lambs’ House

    ___

    “We wanted to just stay in it a little while before changing anything, because we just wanted to get a feel for the house before we just came in and made sweeping changes,” Alysha Jackson explains.

    “I’m so glad we did, because we actually changed a lot of our designs based upon actually living in the home for a little bit first.”

    Most importantly, they staged a 1970s-style photo shoot.

    Interior

    Dustin McKibben

    Enjoying the view

    Jackson family

    Even Ingrid, the dog, seems to have settled in.

    “She has a spot in the house where she can see the entire yard, thanks to the surrounding sliding doors and windows,” Jackson says.

    “Ingrid was so sad when she saw us packing the van for our trip here, but literally jumped up and down when we got the leash out and she realized she was coming with us on the trip.”

    Kitchen

    Dustin McKibben

    Kitchen

    Dustin McKibben

    Kitchen

    Dustin McKibben

    The former owner of the house, James Sherbondy, a retired architect, designed the home as his family’s personal residence. It was occupied until just a few months ago, so everything inside was in working order.

    “We walked in, brought in our stuff, and used the fridge. The bathrooms were functional. It was pretty great,” Jackson says.

    Everything in the kitchen works, and the cabinets are in good shape. However, the layout may not work for the family, she adds.

    Lower level

    Dustin McKibben

    Lower level

    Dustin McKibben

    Lower-level bathroom

    Dustin McKibben

    Lower-level bathroom

    Dustin McKibben

    The family made some immediate changes for safety reasons and are currently living on the lower level. They’re tackling that and the main level first, and leaving the upstairs master bedroom and bathroom for last.

    A bathroom with green counters and blue sink will ultimately meet its demise, but the Jack-and-Jill style entry is staying.

    “The more we see, the more we want to keep, which is kind of funny,” Alysha says. “Before, we didn’t really know too much about ’70s style, and we didn’t know too much about midcentury modern even. But the more I talk with people and more research I do on my own, the more I see the beauty and the value in it, and so I want to keep that style in the home.”

    Stairs

    Dustin McKibben

    Toddler-proof stairs

    Dustin McKibben

    The Jacksons have sought input from a number of experts on the Instagram account they started for their rehab project. They had hopes of reaching 10,000 followers by the summer. As of now, they’ve blown past their goal and have over 30,000 folks tracking the renovation journey.

    “I just love sharing projects with people. When we did a ’70s photo shoot, we thought it would be really fun to share these. We had no idea it would go viral as quickly as it did,” Jackson says. “It’s been really fun to share what we’re doing with people, and we’ve gotten so much great input.”

    Lower level

    Dustin McKibben

    Lower level

    Dustin McKibben

    The carpet can’t stay

    Sadly, for lovers of colorful floor coverings, the carpet is one of the first things that’s going to go.

    “There’s literally carpet in every single room, including the bathrooms. It’s everywhere and it’s 50 years old. From what we know, it is original to the home,” Jackson says.

    She added that there are stains in several places, and it doesn’t smell particularly great, especially in the bathrooms.

    Eventually, there will be new flooring in many of the rooms and tile in the bathrooms. But the carpet won’t vanish completely.

    “I am going to be making an art piece of the different carpet colors,” she says. “There’s about four or five different colors in the home, and we just want to keep a piece of each. I’m going to cut some out from each color—deep-clean it, of course—and then create some sort of art piece with it to hang in the house on the wall.”

    Master bathroom

    Dustin McKibben

    Master bathroom

    Dustin McKibben

    People on social media had a lot to say about the carpet-bedecked bathtub in the master bedroom. The tub has purple tile and no curtain. For now, it’s the only bathtub in the house, so the kids need to take their baths there.

    Jackson says the tub is super clean, but the trick for the couple is to keep the children from enjoying their time on the floor.

    “To them, it’s like a big towel,” she adds. The first time their son took a bath, she says, “He got out of the tub and started rolling on the shag carpet.”

    Fireplace

    Other modifications on the way

    Back on the main level, the dramatic floor-to-ceiling fireplace will stay—but with some modifications for safety.

    Wood paneling and accents

    Dustin McKibben

    Some of the wood paneling and carved accents throughout the house will also remain.

    “I stare at the wood every day. I think that’s maybe my favorite part of the house,” Jackson says.

    Some people on Instagram say the carved wood might be by an artist named Ackerman, and the Jacksons are trying to verify that.

    “It’s the first thing you see when you walk in the home on the door,” Alysha says.

    Work time

    Jackson family

    Life outside the box

    The Jacksons rehabbed their Florida house, so a huge project isn’t entirely new for them and they have some family support nearby. Both Alysha and Nate are from Indiana, and much of their family still lives there. While some close to them were surprised by the somewhat impulsive purchase, they weren’t shocked.

    “We kind of joke with people that Nate and I are ‘Go big or go home’ people. We kind of live life outside the box, so they were excited for us,” Jackson says.

    Some relatives thought they were crazy, she adds, but changed their minds when they saw how beautiful the home is—and they’re especially excited that the family will be closer to them.

    For now, the family plans to split time between the two homes and rent the other one as a vacation rental.

    We’ll be tracking the process of this time capsule transformation and can’t wait to see what’s next.

    View this post on Instagram

    A post shared by Alysha and Nate Jackson (@thejacksonfi)

    The post Say Farewell to Shag Carpet—Family Tackles 1970s Time Capsule Makeover appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

    Source: realtor.com

    10 Financial Steps to Take Before Having Kids

    According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), raising a child to the age of 18 sets families back an average of $233,610, and that’s for each child. This figure doesn’t even include the cost of college, which is growing faster than inflation. 

    CollegeBoard data found that for the 2019-2020 school year, the average in-state, four-year school costs $21,950 per year including tuition, fees, and room and board. 

    Kids can add meaning to your life, and most parents would say they’re well worth the cost. But having your financial ducks in a row — before having kids — can help you spend more time with your new family instead of worrying about paying the bills.

    10 Financial Moves to Make Before Having Kids

    If you want to have kids and reach your long-term financial goals, you’ll need to make some strategic moves early on. There are plenty of ways to set yourself up for success, but here are the most important ones. 

    1. Start Using a Monthly Budget

    When you’re young and child-free, it’s easy to spend more than you planned on fun activities and nonessentials. But having kids has a way of ruining your carefree spending habits, and that’s especially true if you’ve spent most of your adult life buying whatever catches your eye.

    That’s why it’s smart to start using a monthly budget before having kids. It helps you prioritize each dollar you earn every month so you’re tracking your family’s short- and long-term goals.

    You can create a simple budget with a pen and paper. Each month, list your income and recurring monthly expenses in separate columns, and then log your purchases throughout the month. This gives you a high-level perspective about money going in and out of your budget. You can also use a digital budgeting tool, like Mint, Qube Money, or You Need a Budget (YNAB) to get a handle on your finances. 

    Regardless of which budgeting tool you choose, create categories for savings (e.g. an emergency fund, vacation fund, etc.) and investments. Treat these expense categories just like regular bills as a way to commit to your family’s money goals. Your budget should provide a rough guide that helps you cover household expenses and save for the future while leaving some money for fun.

    2. Build an Emergency Fund

    Most experts suggest keeping three- to six-months of expenses in an emergency fund. Having an emergency fund is even more crucial when you have kids. You never know when you’ll face a broken arm, requiring you to cover your entire health care deductible in one fell swoop. 

    It’s also possible your child could be born with a critical medical condition that requires you to take time away from work. And don’t forget about the other emergencies you can face, from a roof that needs replacing to a job loss or income reduction. 

    Your best bet is opening a high-yield savings account and saving up at least three months of expenses before becoming a parent. You’ll never regret having this money set aside, but you’ll easily regret not having savings in an emergency.

    3. Boost Your Retirement Savings Percentage

    Your retirement might be decades away, but making retirement savings a priority is a lot easier when you don’t have kids. And with the magic of compound interest that lets your money grow exponentially over time, you’ll want to get started ASAP. 

    By boosting your retirement savings percentage before having kids, you’ll also learn how to live on a lower amount of take-home pay. Try boosting your retirement savings percentage a little each year until you have kids. 

    Go from 6% to 7%, then from 8% to 9%, for example. Ideally, you’ll get to the point where you’re saving 15% of your income or more before becoming a parent. If you’re already enrolled in an employer-sponsored retirement plan, this change can be done with a simple form. Ask your employer or your HR department for more information.

    If you’re self-employed, you can still open a retirement account like a SEP IRA or Solo 401(k) and begin saving on your own. You can also consider a traditional IRA or a Roth IRA, both of which let you contribute up to $6,000 per year, or $7,000 if you’re ages 50 or older. 

    4. Start a Parental Leave Fund

    Since the U.S. doesn’t mandate paid leave for new parents, check with your employer to find out how much paid time off you might receive. The average amount of paid leave in the U.S. is 4.1 weeks, according to a study by WorldatWork, which means you might face partial pay or no pay for some weeks of your parental leave period. It all depends on your employer’s policy and how flexible it is.

    Your best bet is figuring out how much time you can take off with pay, and then creating a plan to save up the income you’ll need to cover the rest of your leave. Let’s say you have four weeks of paid time off, but plan on taking 10 weeks of parental leave, for example. Open a new savings account and save weekly or monthly until you have six weeks of pay saved up. 

    If you have six months to wait for the baby to arrive and you need $6,000 saved for parental leave, you could strive to set aside $1,000 per month for those ten weeks off. If you’re able to plan earlier, up to 12 months before the baby arrives, then you can cut your monthly savings amount and set aside just $500 per month.

    5. Open a Health Savings Account (HSA)

    A health savings account (HSA) is a tax-advantaged way to save up for health care expenses, including the cost of a hospital stay. This type of account is available to Americans who have a designated high-deductible health insurance plan (HDHP), meaning a deductible of at least $1,400 for individuals and at least $2,800 for families. HDHPs must also have maximum out-of-pocket limits below $6,900 for individuals and $13,800 for families. 

    In 2020, individuals can contribute up to $3,550 to an HSA while families can save up to $7,100. This money is tax-advantaged in that it grows tax-free until you’re ready to use it. Moreover, you’ll never pay taxes or a penalty on your HSA funds if you use your distributions for qualified health care expenses. At the age of 65, you can even deduct money from your HSA and use it however you want without a penalty. 

    6. Start Saving for College

    The price of college will only get worse over time. To get a handle on it early and plan for your future child’s college tuition, start saving for their education in a separate account.  Once your child is born, you can open a 529 college savings account and list your child as its beneficiary. 

    Some states offer tax benefits for those who contribute to a 529 account. For example, Indiana offers a 20% tax credit on up to $5,000 in 529 contributions each year, which gets you up to $1,000 back from the state at tax time. Many plans also let you invest in underlying investments to help your money grow faster than a traditional savings account. 

    7. Pay Off Unsecured Debt

    If you have credit card debt, pay it off before having kids. You’re not helping yourself by spending years lugging high-interest debt around. Paying off debt can free-up cash and save you thousands of dollars in interest every year. 

    If you’re struggling to pay off your unsecured debt, there are several strategies to consider. Here are a few approaches:

    Debt Snowball

    This debt repayment approach requires you to make a large payment on your smallest account balance and only the minimum amount that’s due on other debt. As the months tick by, you’ll focus on paying off your smallest debt first, only to “snowball” the payments from fully paid accounts toward the next smallest debt. Eventually, the debt snowball should leave you with only your largest debts, then one debt, and then none.

    Debt Avalanche

    The debt avalanche is the opposite of the debt snowball, asking you to pay off the debt with the highest interest rate first, while paying the minimum payment on other debt. Once that account is fully paid, you’ll “avalanche” those payments to the next highest-rate debt. Eventually, you’ll only be left with your lowest-interest account until you’ve paid off all of your debt. 

    Balance Transfer Credit Card

    Another popular strategy involves transferring high-interest balances to a balance transfer credit card that offers 0% APR for a limited time. You might have to pay a balance transfer fee (often 3% to 5%), but the interest savings can make this strategy worth it.

    If you try this strategy, make sure you have a plan to pay off your debt before your introductory offer ends. If you have 15 months at 0% APR, for example, calculate how much you need to pay each month for 15 months to repay your entire balance during that time. Any debt remaining after your introductory APR period ends will start accruing interest at the regular, variable interest rate. 

    8. Consider Refinancing Other Debt

    Ditching credit card debt is a no-brainer, but debt like student loans or your home mortgage can also weigh on your future family’s budget.

    If you have student loan debt, look into refinancing your student loans with a private lender. A student loan refinance can help you lower the interest rate on your loans, find a manageable monthly payment, and simplify your repayment into one loan.

    Private student loan rates are often considerably lower than rates you can get with federal loans — sometimes by half. The caveat with refinancing federal loans is that you’ll lose out on government protections, like deferment and forbearance, and loan forgiveness programs. Before refinancing your student loans, make sure you won’t need these benefits in the future. 

    Also look into the prospect of refinancing your mortgage to secure a shorter repayment timeline, a lower monthly payment, or both. Today’s low interest rates have made mortgage refinancing a good deal for anyone who took out a mortgage several years ago. Compare today’s mortgage refinancing rates to see how much you can save. 

    9. Buy Life Insurance

    You should also buy life insurance before having kids. Don’t worry about picking up an expensive whole life policy. All you need is a term life insurance policy that covers at least 10 years of your salary, and hopefully more.

    Term life insurance is extremely affordable and easy to buy. Many providers don’t even require a medical exam if you’re young and healthy. 

    Once you start comparing life insurance quotes, you’ll be shocked at how affordable term coverage can be. With Bestow, for example, a thirty-year-old woman in good health can buy a 20-year term policy for $500,000 for as little as $20.41 per month. 

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    10. Create a Will

    A last will and testament lets you write down what should happen to your major assets upon your death. You can also state personal requests in writing, like whether you want to be kept on life support, and how you want your final arrangements handled.

    A will can also formally define who you’d like to take over custody of your kids, if both parents die. If you don’t formally make this decision ahead of time, these deeply personal decisions might be left to the courts.

    Fortunately, it’s not overly expensive to create a last will and testament. You can meet with a lawyer who can draw one up, or you can create your own using a platform like LegalZoom.

    The Bottom Line

    Having kids can be the most rewarding part of your life, but parenthood is far from cheap. You’ll need money for expenses you might’ve never considered before — and the cost of raising a family only goes up over time.

    That’s why getting your money straightened out is essential before kids enter the picture. With a financial plan and savings built up, you can experience the joys of parenthood without financial stress.

    The post 10 Financial Steps to Take Before Having Kids appeared first on Good Financial Cents®.

    Source: goodfinancialcents.com

    Auto Loan: New Car vs Old Pros and Cons

    There are over 25 million auto loans every year in the United States, with the majority of drivers using finance to pay for new and used vehicles. Car loans are some of the most common secured loans in the country and for many Americans, a car is the second most expensive purchase they will make in their lifetime.

    But shopping for a new car and applying for a suitable car loan is a stressful experience filled with uncertainty and difficult decisions. One of the most difficult decisions is whether to opt for a new car or a used one. In this guide, we’ll showcase some of the pros and cons of both options, pointing you in the right direction and helping you to make the right choice.

    Reasons to Buy Used

    It is satisfying to own something that is brand-new. It’s fresh out of the factory—you’re the first to use it, the first to experience it. 

    Consumers are prepared to pay a premium just to be the first owner. iPhones and other tech are great examples of this. You could save 30% on the price of a new phone by opting for a refurbished model. The screen and case will be near-perfect, the hardware and software will be fully functional, and everything will be backed by a warranty. However, you don’t get the satisfaction of peeling back the protective stickers and being the first to open the box.

    It’s a similar story with cars. There are no stickers to peel and boxes to open, but you can’t beat the new car smell or the way the steering wheel feels in your palms.

    That’s not all, either. There are many other benefits to owning a brand-new car and using your auto loan to acquire one.

    New Cars Depreciate Fast

    A $200,000 mortgage acquired today might cost you $300,000 or more over the lifetime of the loan. However, in a couple decades, when that mortgage is in the final stretch and you own a sizeable chunk of home equity, you’ll likely have something worth $250,000, $300,000, or more.

    If you get an auto loan on a new car, it’s a different story. As your interest increases and your payments exceed the original value, the current value nose-dives. At the end of the term, you could have something that is worth a small fraction of what you paid for it.

    As an example, let’s assume that you purchase a $40,000 car with a $10,000 down payment and a $30,000 loan. With an interest rate of 6% and a term of 60 months, you’ll repay just under $35,000 over the lifetime of the loan.

    However, as soon as you drive that car out of the lot, the price will plummet. At the end of the first year, it will have lost between 20% and 30% of its value. If we assume a 20% loss, that car is now worth just $32,000. The irony here is that you will have paid just under $7,000 in that year, and as the years progress, you fall into a pattern where the more you pay, the less it’s worth.

    In the next 4 years, the car will experience an average deprecation of between 15% and 18%. Again, let’s assume a conservative estimate of 15%. That $40.000 purchase will be worth $27,200 at the end of year 2; $23,120 at the end of year 3; $19,653 in year 4, and $16,705 at the end of the loan.

    And don’t forget, that vehicle cost you $45,000 in total.

    Unless you’re buying a rare car that will become a collectible, all cars will depreciate, and that depreciation will be pretty rapid. However, used cars don’t suffer such rapid deprecation because they don’t have that inflated sticker price. If you take good care of them and pay a good price, you won’t stand to lose as much money.

    Used Cars are Cheaper

    As stated above, all cars depreciate, but if the first year suffers the biggest drop then why not buy a car that is just a year or two old?

    It’s the same car and offers many of the same benefits, but you’re getting it for up to 30% less on average. For a $40,000 car, that’s a saving of $8,000. Once you add a 20% down payment, your loan only needs to cover $25,600. For a 6% loan, that’s just $495 a month, compared to the $619 you’d pay on a $40,000 new car with the same 20% down payment.

    That puts more money in your pocket and less debt on your credit report. That’s a double-whammy well worth sacrificing a new car smell for.

    It’s Still Nearly New

    If you buy a used car that is just a couple of years old, you can still get something that has been well maintained and is just as impressive as it was the day it rolled off the lot. 

    Think about the last time you bought a brand-new car, computer, phone, musical instrument—or anything else that came with a premium price tag. You probably kept it in perfect condition soon after buying. Everyone goes through a period of doing their utmost to keep a new purchase immaculate and the more they pay, the longer than period lasts.

    Most consumers will keep a car in perfect condition for at least two or three years, but no matter what they do, they are powerless to the depreciation. This means you can get an almost-new, perfect car that is nearly a third cheaper than it was when it was new.

    Reasons to Buy New

    Α used car doesn’t provide you with that enjoyable, tactile experience. You can’t enjoy the ubiquitous new car smell and you won’t be the first owner. However, there are numerous benefits to buying used instead of new, not least of which is the amount of money you will save now and in the future.

    More Finance Options

    You have a few more options at your disposal when it comes to financing a new car. Many dealerships offer low-interest and even no-interest financing to encourage you to sign on the dotted line. 

    These deals often have hidden terms, penalties, and other issues, and if you fail to make a payment, they won’t hesitate to take your car from you. However, if you’re struggling to finance elsewhere and have your heart set on a brand-new car, this could be your only option.

    Make sure you read the terms and conditions closely and don’t let them bombard you with small print and sales talk. They are there to sell you a car. All they care about is your signature on that contract and if that means glossing over a few of the terms, they won’t hesitate.

    More Customization and Better Features

    Technology is advancing at a tremendous pace and this can be felt in all industries, including the automotive sector. A lot can happen in a few short years and if you buy a used car as opposed to a new one, you could miss out on a host of electronics, safety features, and more.

    Customization is also possible with new cars. You can request colors, fabrics, and other aesthetic changes, as well as additional features relating to the power and performance of the vehicle.

    Better Cover

    New cars offer bumper-to-bumper warranty cover, which means that you’re covered in the event of an issue. If major repairs are needed, you won’t be out of pocket, and these warranty plans tend to offer roadside assistance as well.

    This can be true for used cars as well, with the manufacturer’s warranty being transferred when the car is in the hands of a new owner. However, the warranty is at its longest and most useful when the car is first purchased.

    Cheaper Maintenance

    The warranty won’t cover everything, and you will still be responsible for normal wear and tear. However, because the car is new, it should require less maintenance and may take several years before you need to make significant purchases.

    Surveys suggest that new car owners pay anywhere from $0 to $300 for maintenance during the first 12 months, with this fee spanning between $300 and $1,100 once the car is a decade old.

    Simpler Process

    Used car purchases take time. You need to find the vehicle, inspect it, negotiate with the seller, and then hope you can agree to a price and payment plan. If you want something specific with regards to colors and features, you may have to search many inventories and individual sellers before you find something that fits.

    With a new car, you simply agree to a budget and see what’s available. If you need any tweaks or changes, you can request them directly from the dealer.

    Summary: New vs Old

    There are two ways at looking at this. Firstly, there are more advantages for buying a new car and these include some pretty important ones. However, the advantages for buying used are much bigger and if your bank balance or credit score is low, that could be the deciding factor. 

    In any case, it’s important to look closely at the pros and cons, evaluate them based on your personal situation, and don’t rush this decision.

    Auto Loan: New Car vs Old Pros and Cons is a post from Pocket Your Dollars.

    Source: pocketyourdollars.com