Saturday, May 16, 2009

A Good Credit Report - The Key To Cheap Finance

Is your credit report important? There are a lot of people who would not consider their credit rating as something too important to them in their life. There are others who, while recognizing its importance, would not be overly concerned about the issue or understand the reasons for its importance. Well, to those people, they should at least be aware of some of the uses that are made of credit reports in the world in which we live.

While it may seem obvious to state it, credit reports are predominantly concerned with assessing the risk involved in lending money to you. Lenders are obsessed with one thing, getting repaid, and their entire industry revolves around making this occur. Therefore, they have developed the credit score that will assess your likely hood of repaying them and this is then used to either approve or reject your application for credit. While this is the basic purpose, some more sophisticated lenders desire to get in on an ever larger share of the market and in order to lend to higher risk borrowers, they create different categories of loans which people with lower scores can qualify for. These loans will invariably have higher interest rates and other less favorable conditions and this will be the price you pay for having a lower credit rating.

Since loans are used to finance homes, education, cars, and most other large purchases in life, the inability to get access to credit, or only to be able to get it at less attractive terms and rates, is a substantially reason to care about your credit report and try to keep it in as good a condition as possible.

Credit reports are also used when you apply for renting or leasing accommodation. This is usually because the landlord wants to be fairly certain that you'll be able to pay your rent as it falls due. So keeping your credit score healthy at this stage will pay off if you need to be approved for renting or leasing residential property.

There is also a trend among employer to start using credit ratings when assessing job applicants. The reasons they are making use of credit reports are of course different for every employer but there is a consensus that a healthy credit report and a good past record of meeting financial commitments is a good sign that the job applicant is someone reliable and worth employing. While it does seem slightly perverse that the very people that will need a job the most are precisely the ones that can be denied it but that's the direction things are moving in.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

A Fresh Start for Family Finances in 2009

While 40% to 50% of us make New Year’s resolutions on January 1—a ritual that has existed since ancient times—approximately 60% to 80% of us have already broken them by the end of February, according to researchers.

It’s still not too late, however, to reset the trajectory on your family’s finances, experts note.

1. Build a Budget
If you haven’t already done so, create a realistic budget.

Approximately 85% of your income should be set aside for necessities like housing, food, health care and clothing, according to the professionals at VISA USA.

This leaves 15% for entertainment—and something many consumers completely neglect: savings.

2. Distinguish “Needs” from “Wants”
Make sure you have a clear understanding of what you need in life versus what you want in life.

You need to pay for the antibiotics when the doctor diagnoses a respiratory infection. You don’t need to buy the latest movie released on DVD to aid in your recovery.

You need to pay the rent or mortgage. You don’t need to buy the lovely accent pillows that beckon to you from the interior design boutique.

Always separate the needs from the wants—particularly if money is tight.

3. Monitor Your Spending
To see what you really spend each month, keep a running log of all purchases—no matter how small—for a full month. This will give you a visual display of where your money goes after you deposit your paycheck.

You may find that the $3 cup of coffee that starts each day adds up to $90 a month—a pocketbook pincher that may prompt you to buy a pound of coffee beans at the local market and grind them yourself. That $90 blossoms into $1,080 in savings at the end of a year.

4. Create an Emergency Fund
Life is full of surprises—both positive and negative. If you happen to lose your job or suffer an illness that temporarily sidelines you, you will need cash reserves to support you during the rough months.

“In most cases, consumers who find themselves dealing with a financial hardship are unprepared and have not saved for unexpected situations,” says Diane Giarratano, director of education for Novadebt, a U.S. financial management service agency, with multiple locations, that provides credit counseling, budgeting and financial education.

5. Educate Yourself
When you attended high school or college, you studied history, mathematics, language and science, but there was probably no course in basic money management.

If you need help in meeting a financial goal—whether it’s buying a home or reducing your debt—take advantage of community resources.

“Consumers should feel free to contact a good credit-counseling agency to obtain free advice with regard to establishing a budget or to learn how to handle unexpected hardships,” Giarratano says.

6. Don’t Become a Victim
Identity theft has become an international epidemic, so be extremely cautious when giving out your credit card or personal identifying information. Monitor your credit card bills carefully for unauthorized charges, and immediately report suspicious activity to the issuing company.

“Identity theft is often an inside job,” warns Robert L. Siciliano, a personal security expert with Boston, Massachusetts-based SafetyMinute Seminars and author of “The Safety Minute.”

“Lower-level help desk workers and frontline call center employees often have access to all our personal information in their databases,” he says. “What are you doing to protect yourself? If you’re not paying attention, you could be a victim, too.”

And when a disaster strikes, such as the recent killer tsunamis in South Asia and East Africa, be wary of scammers from fake charities before reaching for your checkbook. Unfortunately, there will always be unscrupulous individuals who seize such opportunities to profit from others’ misfortune.

“Avoid using your credit card to make contributions,” advises James Walsh, author of “You Can’t Cheat An Honest Man: How Ponzi Schemes and Pyramid Frauds Work…and Why They’re More Common Than Ever.”

“Even though this can be a convenient way to proceed, many crooks are looking for credit card numbers,” Walsh says. “They will press strongly for ‘immediate support.’ Don’t rush.”

Instead, initiate the call yourself, and select a reputable charity.

“Go with recognized names,” Walsh says. “No organization is perfect; even the best-meaning groups occasionally misallocate money or fall victim to abusive employees. But larger charitable groups—like the Red Cross, the United Way and Catholic Charities—have the mechanisms in place to audit their people and performance.”

Charitable contributions are tax-deductible, so keep good records of all donations—including small cash gifts.

Monday, May 11, 2009

1st And 2nd Mortgage Refinance Loan

Refinancing a first and second mortgage requires some extra considerations. Depending on your equity, you may find that combining the two mortgages results in a higher interest rate. You may also find that you have to carry PMI with the refinanced mortgage.

Will Refinancing Benefit You?

Refinancing two mortgages allows you to consolidate your loans into one payment, often lowering your monthly bill. You may also find lower rates under the right circumstances.

Those with a large amount of equity benefit most from consolidating loans since they qualify for the lowest rates. It is important to look at interest savings, not just monthly numbers which can be misleading.

However, if you have less than 25% equity, you may end up qualifying for higher rates. With less than 20% equity, you will also have to pay for private mortgage insurance. Even with these factors, you may still find that you will save money by refinancing.

Have You Done Your Research?

To see if refinancing makes sense for you, research mortgage lenders. You can quickly go online and request quotes and terms. Look at the different offers, and work out the numbers. An online mortgage calculator can help you figure out monthly payments and interest costs.

An easy way to compare cost is to first add up your interest payments for both mortgages. Use this number to compare interest payments with each potential mortgage.

You also need to factor in the cost of refinancing. Just like with your original mortgage, you will have to pay fees and points. You want to be sure that you can recoup these costs with your interest savings.

Why Do You Want To Refinance Both Mortgages?

While refinancing both mortgages is convenient, you may decide to refinance only one or both separately. With your main mortgage, you can expect to get low rates.

A second mortgage will usually qualify for higher rates, but you can lock them in. You may also choose to convert from a line of credit to an actual mortgage. Again, you will want to investigate financial packages before signing up with a lender.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

4 Good Reasons to Get a Refinance Home Loan

What is a refinance home loan?
A refinance home loan or a home loan refinance is a new loan obtained through your lender or a new lender to pay off existing loan. However, you may opt to apply for a lower interest rate and or cash out on your homes equity.

When should I refinance my home? It is a known fact that interest rates are lower than they have been in years. This is due to our fast paced and ever changing economy and market. Now would be the perfect opportunity to refinance your home to obtain a lower interest rate. Even a .25 difference can save you thousands of dollars a year in mortgage payments.

Why should I refinance my home?
There are several reasons home owners decides to refinance. The four most common reasons include:
To obtain a lower interest rate
Home owner generally are aware of interest rate down fall. They take advantage of this opportunity by applying to a refinance loan to lower their existing interest rates and save money on mortgage expenses. The money that a borrower saves on mortgage expenses can be invested in other financial investments.
To receive a refinance cash out
Some home owners who have enough equity accumulated in their homes refinance to cash out their equity and get a lower interest rate
To make home improvements
Sooner than later you will find that maintaining your home is hard work (not to mention quite expensive). In most cases, home owners will pursue a refinance, rather than a personal loan, in order to save on interest rates. A personal loan may have higher interest rates and are normally, not as large as a home improvement loan.
To change loan programs
A majority of home owner refinance because they are not satisfied with their current loan program. They may be under a 5 year arm, but somewhere down the line they decided they would prefer a 30 year fixed loan. Whatever the reason may be, a refinance home loan will solve the problem.

What are the benefits of refinancing my home?
There are several benefits included with refinancing your home, including:
Your credit may be in better standings then before you purchased your home, now you can refinance and obtain a more suitable loan, with lower interest rates and terms.
Or, you can obtain a home equity line of credit and have cash available when you need it.
With refinance cash out, your lender can consolidate your bills and pay off all of your debt. You will not have to deal with the hassle by yourself.

What are the different refinance loan options?
As with a traditional loan, refinance home loans offer some of the same loan programs, such as:
10/15/30 year fixed
Zero Down
Interest Only
And so on

Where can I refinance my loan?
You can apply for a refinance home loan through your current lender. Or you may search for a new lender more suitable to your financial needs. This search can be done by internet search, flipping through the yellow pages, or consulting with your real estate agent.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Your Finances

Which category do you fall in?

I have determined that financially, people fall into one of
three categories.

1. Family 1 has all the money they need for necessities and
more and manage it very well.

2. Family 2 has all the money they need for necessities and
more but live payday to payday with ever increasing debt.

3. Family 3 don't have enough money for necessities.

The funny thing about the three families above is that they
could have exactly the same income and family size. This is
not to say that special circumstances has nothing to do with
it, but on the average most people live above their means.

Family 1 has established a workable budget. They don't pay
more than they can afford for housing, transportation,
utilities, etc. They also have money set aside for long and
short term savings. This short term savings provides two
things. First, it makes money available when the car breaks
down, you need a new washer or any number of unexpected
expenses that crop up. Second, it prevents the need to use
credit cards for these items. The savings here could be
hundreds of dollars. Family 1 planned.

Family 2 is still struggling to establish a budget. In many
cases their house payments or rent is much more than they can
afford. They don't take the time to evaluate the money that
could be saved with little effort. Usually there is no short
term savings, let alone short term. They use credit cards as
if they were cash and pay hundreds of dollars in unnessary
finance charges and penalities. These people find themselves
with financial problems that often leads to bankruptcy. Family
2 either didn't plan or may not know how the handle their

Family 3 has given up on a budget. No matter what they do there
isn't enough money to pay for housing and other necessities.
They struggle to put food on the table. Most don't qualify for
credit cards, which is a good thing. In some cases this
situation is self inflicted and some are due to circumstances.

What is the answer to these problems?

Family 1 - Leave these people alone unless you plan to ask their

Family 2 - These are the people that need to seek help and stand
a chance of becoming a family 1 family. The possible solutions
include a debt management company like Consumer Credit Counseling
Service. They need to establish a budget and stick to it. If
their housing and other expenses are too high, then they need to
cut back, even if they have to move. They also need to cut up
the credit cards and think about consolidating. Depending on
how far they are in debt, this could take years.

Family 3 - While their struggle seems useless, there are things
that can be done. First, they need to see to it that everything
is being done to keep expenses down. The electric bill is a
good example. There is federally subsidized housing that only
charges a small fee based on your income. Make sure that they
are receiving all federal and state benefits that they are
entitled. If they are able, they should seek job training or
some other means to make their life a little better.

Which family are you? No matter whether your are family 1, 2
or 3, there is hope. The primary thing that must be done is to
educate everyone that learning to managing their finances is
absolutely for their peace of mind. With the vast amount of
information on the internet providing help, this is possible.