Change has to start somewhere, and for many people that change is easier to make if the starting point has some meaning. It can be a birthday, an anniversary, or any other date with some symbolic weight. Most commonly, people choose the beginning of the new year.
If you’re looking for some New Year’s resolutions that will truly change your life, consider adjusting your financial strategy. Here are five things you can do in 2021 to take your money game to the next level.
Interest rates are at near-historic lows, which makes this the perfect time to refinance your debt. Refinancing means switching your loans from your current lender to a new lender in order to take advantage of a lower interest rate. Refinancing can save you thousands of dollars, depending on the original interest rate and total balance.
Â For example, letâs say you have a $200,000 30-year mortgage with a 5% interest rate, and you refinance to a 3% interest rate. Your monthly payment will be $244 lower, and youâll save $31,173 in total interest over the life of the loan.Â
You can refinance auto loans, personal loans, and even student loans. However, if you have federal student loans, you may want to hold off on refinancing. Refinancing a federal student loan converts it into a private student loan. This means youâll give up extra perks and benefits like income-driven repayment plans and deferment and forbearance options.
Transfer Credit Card Debt
If you have credit card debt, you can pay less interest by transferring the balance to a new card with 0% APR on balance transfers. These special discounts usually last between 12 to 18 months, during which time you wonât be charged interest on the credit card balance.
For instance, letâs say you have a $5,000 balance on a card with a 17% APR. If you only make the minimum payments, youâll pay $1,223.61 in total interest. If you transfer that balance to a card with 0% APR for 12 months and repay the balance in that time, you wonât pay any interest.
There is often a small fee associated with balance transfers, around 3% of balance transfers. For example, if you transfer $5,000, youâll pay a $150 fee. That still leaves a net savings of $1,073.61 in the scenario outlined above.
Decrease Your Fixed Expenses
One of the best things to do for your budget in 2021 is to decrease fixed expenses like your car insurance, internet, cable, and cell phone. Call those providers and try to negotiate a lower rate.
Â Go through your transactions for the past few months and write down all the recurring subscriptions like Netflix, Amazon Prime, and DoorDash. Then, group them into categories like âfrequently use,â âsporadically useâ and ârarely useâ. Consider canceling anything you rarely use.
Â See if you can get a better deal on your most popular subscriptions. For example, if you and your significant other both pay for Spotify Premium, get a Spotify Duo account instead, and save yourself $83.88 a year.
Open a Better Bank Account
Most people are missing out on an easy way to earn money through your bank account. You could be leaving hundreds of dollars on the table if you still have a traditional savings account.
According to the FDIC, the current average interest rate on a savings account is 0.05%. Many high-yield savings accounts offer rates between .40% and .60%.Â
Letâs say you have $10,000 in a savings account with .05% interest. After one year, youâll have earned $5.04 in interest. If you moved that amount to a high-yield savings account with .5% interest, you would earn $49.92 in interest over that same time period.
If you’re not investing for retirement yet, this might be the most important financial resolution you can make. Thanks to the power of compound interest, you can start investing now and see huge growth by the time youâre ready to retire.
IRAs and 401(k)s are the two main retirement accounts. Anyone can open an IRA, while only those who have access to an employer-sponsored 401(k) can open one.
Â If you’re not sure how to invest in your retirement account, consider hiring a qualified financial planner through the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (NAPFA).
If youâre not ready to work with a financial planner, you can use a robo advisor like Betterment or Wealthfront, which will create a portfolio based on your age, income, and expected retirement age. Robo advisors have low fees and are designed to help beginner investors.
How to Keep Financial Resolutions
First, start small. Pick one habit to change at a time. If you try to accomplish five goals at once, you’ll burn out quickly and give up.Â
When you decide on a resolution, break it up into smaller, more manageable tasks. For example, if your goal is to talk to a financial planner about investing, break it down into the following steps:
1) Research financial planners through NAPFA
2) Send introductory emails to three financial planners
3) Choose the one that seems like the best fit
4) Schedule a consultation
Give yourself a deadline to accomplish each of these tasks, and ask a friend to hold you accountable.
Another tip is to tie your resolutions to a bigger goal. Like dieting or starting a new exercise plan, changing your financial habits is hard. If you’re used to grabbing lunch with your co-workers every day, bringing leftovers from home instead will seem like a huge change.
The key is to imagine the future version of yourself who will benefit from the changes you make today. If your goal is to open and contribute to a retirement account, imagine yourself as a senior citizen living comfortably.
When youâre tempted to skip this monthâs retirement contribution to buy concert tickets, think about your future self, what youâd want for them and how they would appreciate your sacrifice. It can also help to remember some of the financial mistakes you’ve made in the past, and how much easier your life would be right now if you had made a different choice.
The post The 5 Best Financial New Year’s Resolutions appeared first on MintLife Blog.
Annaâs email requesting help with her finances began with a unique confession.
âFarnoosh, my money problem garners little sympathy,â the 32-year-old wrote. âMy issue is that I make too much of it.â
Now, THIS is interesting, I thought. I immediately followed up with many questions.
Hereâs what I learned through our conversation:
The Denver-based Mint user earns $220,000 per year as an engineer. Annaâs also benefited from years of big bonuses and her net worth, not including her home equity, is close to a million dollars.
After paying taxes and health benefits and maxing out her 401(k), Anna takes home between $8,000 and $10,000 each month. Her expenses mainly consist of a $1,200 mortgage payment, car insurance, gas, food and utilities, amounting to maybe a few thousand dollars per month.
The rest either goes into savings where she stashes about $5,000 to $10,000 for unexpected expenses or into a brokerage account where she has roughly $800,000 invested. A wealth management firm manages that portfolio and charges, she says, an annual 1% fee.
Anna has no consumer debt, besides her mortgage, which amounts to about $338,000. Itâs a 30-year fixed rate loan with a 2.85% interest rate. The home has appreciated in recent years with about $100,000 in equity (including Annaâs initial 20% down payment).
So, what is the problem, exactly?
âMy big worry is that I don’t have the habits to manage money well,â Anna told me. Her sizeable bank balance has her feeling financially free, although she worries about getting carried away with spending sometimes.
âWhen I see money in my bank account I rationalize that âyea, that vacation is doable. I donât hold back on the things that may seem frivolous,ââ she says. But It seems she wants more financial grounding and to be able to evaluate expenditures and price tags more critically.
Annaâs situation may be unique, but I think relatable in the sense that we all would like to feel more thoughtful with how we spend, save and invest. And while some may do well with earning money, it should not be assumed that they can also manage that money well.
I applaud Anna for wanting to be sure that, even with an impressive net worth, she is actually making wise financial decisions.
Hereâs my advice.
Take a Deep Breath
No need to panic when spending on things and experiences that you enjoy. From what I can tell Annaâs prioritizing the serious financial stuff first like contributing the max to her 401(k) and saving all of her annual bonuses in a brokerage account. She has no credit card debt and pays all her bills on time. Thatâs terrific.
Sometimes we just want to hear that weâre on the right track with our money and I have a very simple way to measure this:
If you manage each paycheck by saving, investing and paying all your bills first, then by all means, youâre entitled to have fun with whatever is left without any fear or regret. Am I right?
If youâve done the good work of taking care of your future with your money, then donât hesitate treating yourself and others with the remaining funds today. Splurge away and enjoy your hard-earned money. And remember to enjoy the moment.
Ditch Your Money Managers
I do think Anna could find a better home for her investments.
Paying one percent of her managed assets to this firm may not seem that high of an annual fee. But when you think about Annaâs balance of $800,000, thatâs $8,000 this year. What about next year and the decades after that as she contributes more to the account? That fee, compounded over the next 30 years, will amount to – conservatively – over one million dollars. Ouch.
That doesnât even factor in the expense ratios for each mutual fund thatâs in her portfolio.
If all Anna seeks is investment assistance, she may be better suited stationing her money with an automated wealth platform or robo-advisor where her money is largely invested in low-fee index funds or exchange-traded funds (ETF) and the portfolio management fee is typically 0.50% or less.
Of course, breaking up with your financial advisor is not always so simple. Itâs especially hard for Anna, as she equated her money managers to âfather figures.â
If I were Anna, I would just explain to my advisors over email something like, “I want be more conservativeâ¯withâ¯my money and that includes being extra mindful of the various fees that I’m paying. To that end, Iâve decided to manage my money more independently. Iâm sure you can understand. I appreciateâ¯yourâ¯help over the years. Please let me know next steps.”
Planners know the drill and are used to having clients end relationships.â¯ Stay strong. Nobody can really argue with the fact that saving money is a good thing!
Establish Short and Long Term Goals
Anna wants to spend and save with more conviction. I think having some concrete, tangible goals can help.
For example, she shared that sheâd like to get married, have a family and own two homes â one near her office downtown and another in the mountains as a getaway.
So, the next step is to understand what these goals cost. What are, say, the going prices on a vacation home in her state? How much might she want to stash in a separate account for the future down payment on this property? Knowing the underlying costs of her goals can better direct how much to spend elsewhere.
Next time sheâs planning a vacation, she may be more inclined to price compare or hunt down better deals, as opposed to just judge whether the trip is financially âdoableâ by the amount of money in her bank account. Now sheâll have the image of that second home and its costs and will make a more informed choice.
Contribute to a Cause
Last but not least, when you feel you make more than enough, like Anna does, this is a great opportunity to be extra charitable. If sheâs seeking a way to give her money more meaning and feel purposeful in her financial life, this is a truly wonderful way to go about it. Discover a cause that youâre passionate about and make an impact as a volunteer and donor.
Have a question for Farnoosh? You can submit your questions via Twitter @Farnoosh, Facebook or email at email@example.com (please note âMint Blogâ in the subject line).
Farnoosh Torabi is Americaâs leading personal finance authority hooked on helping Americans live their richest, happiest lives. From her early days reporting for Money Magazine to now hosting a primetime series on CNBC and writing monthly for O, The Oprah Magazine, sheâs become our favorite go-to money expert and friend.
The post Mint Money Audit: Managing Money When You Make Enough appeared first on MintLife Blog.
It amazes us how quickly our girls are growing up. Next month when school starts up again, weâll have a fourth-grader and a kindergartener.
Even though we have some time before they are ready to move out of the house, we want to spend time now prepare them for the big transition. As a parent, you probably feel the same way too.Â
One crucial piece of a financial foundation kids and in particular, teens, need to master is learning to budget (and sticking with it),
While theyâre home now, you have a fantastic opportunity to get them comfortable with handling their money.
If youâre not sure where to start, here are some tips from fellow parents and experts in the personal finance space to make teaching this life skill a bit easier less stressful for you and your teen!
Teach Your Teen to Budget for Real Life
Teens or not, whenever most people hear the word budget, they also hear the word ânoâ. To them, budgets feel like a strict diet. Just as fad diets fail, an unrealistic or extreme budget will more than likely discourage your teen and they will quit.
The first step before you even talk about the numbers is to discuss exactly what a successful and sustainable budget should be. When done right, a budget is something that helps you move your money towards your goals. Explain to them that at its root, budget is simply a plan about what theyâd like to do.
You want a budget that can cover:
Â Â Essential bills
Â Â Future goals
Â Â Discretionary expenses
When your teenâs budget covers those goals, theyâre not only putting their finances in a good spot, but theyâre moving closer to their specific long term dreams.
Creating a Doable Budget (Theyâll Actually Enjoy!)
Once your teen(s) understands how a budget works, itâs important for them to create a budget that they can use in the real world. You can honestly budget however you want, but an easy budget to get your teen started is the 50/20/30.
Quite simplify, the 50/20/30 budget puts money into those three main buckets:
Â Â 50%Â goes towards essentials
Â Â 20% towards savings (or investing)
Â Â 30% for fun and discretionary expenses
I appreciate how easy and flexible this budget can be. You can adjust the percentages for your teenâs needs, but it gives them some ballpark idea of how to portion their finances when they are out on their own.
How do you start them out on this budget?
With teens, you may have expenses like clothing or their cellphone bill count as essentials, or you may want to give your child the experience of being responsible for a small, shared family bill while they are still at home.
For older teens, you could even charge them a nominal ârentâ to offset their portion of the bills. In some cases, parents give that money back to their child as a gift to help with moving expenses (like for their security deposit) or use as additional savings.Â
However you decide, talk it over so your teen understands why youâre doing it this way.
Share Your Family Budget
Creating a budget isnât complicated, but it can difficult if your teen has no idea what to expect. Knowledge can be empowering.
While we may take it for granted since have to deal with the numbers, but your teen may not be aware of how much it takes to keep the lights on and roof over their heads. If you havenât already shared your own budget already, now is the time.
Not knowing also puts them at a disadvantage when they start searching for a place or are comparing prices on expenses. Being armed with the numbers makes your teenager a more informed consumer.
When Your Teen Breaks Their Budget
Will there be times where your teenager will mess up with their budget? Probably so. However, thatâs not necessarily a bad thing. As parents, we tend to want to protect our kids, but we also have to prepare them for the real world. As Ron Lieber, author of The Opposite of Spoiled, pointed out we should let our kids make financial mistakes.Â
Wouldnât it be better for your child to break the clothing budget while theyâre still at home allowing you to help guide them through rather than having break their monthly budget while they are on their own and have bills to pay?
Mistakes will happen, theyâre a part of life so giving your teen time to work those them and adjust their budget is a blessing for their future selves.
Essential Accounts for Your TeenÂ to Have
Since weâre talking about budgets, we should also mention some essential accounts youâd want your kid to have so they can practice managing their money.
Opening up student checking and savings accounts (usually free low on fees as well as not having minimum balance requirements) are good foundational accounts for your teen. They can deal with real-world situations pending charges, automatic transfers, and direct deposits.
As Family Balance Sheet founder Kristia Ludwick pointed out, teens should have the skill of balancing a checkbook even if they decide to go all-digital with their banking.
If they work, talk it over together and see if they can open up an IRA and start contributing. It doesnât have to be much. The idea is to get them familiar and comfortable with the basics of investing.
Even if they put in $25 a paycheck, having them practice setting aside money in their budget for both long and short term goals is an invaluable lesson. You can also encourage them to contribute by offering a match for what they put in.
How Teens Can Easily Stay on Top of Their Money
With several accounts to keep tabs on, your teen is going to need an easy system to track their budget and goals.
With Mint, they can link up their accounts in one secure spot. They can also add their budget along with any savings goals they want to hit and make sure they stick with them.
Hopefully, these ideas and tips will make it easier to help your teen transition into a self-sufficient adult.
The post How to Teach Your Teen to Budget Like a Pro appeared first on MintLife Blog.
If you have bad credit and need a car loan, there are some challenges when compared to obtaining a standard car loan. However, pick your head up because there are a handful of great lenders that specifically tailor their programs to people with bad credit. We researched the landscape of lenders that can help you get a car loan even if you have a below-average credit score.
Based on our study, OneMain Financial and LightStream are two of the top lenders offering bad credit card loans. This is due to factors including loan options, requirements to qualify, and interest rates offered. Of course, we offer in-depth reviews of all the top lenders who offer bad credit car loans further down in this piece.
Apply now with our top pick: OneMain Financial
In this guide we also help you understand the factors that go into selecting the right auto lender, and how to get the best rate you can.
Most Important Factors for Bad Credit Car Loans
If youâre in the market for a bad credit car loan, there are a plethora of factors to consider and compare. Here are the main loan details we looked at in our study, and the ones you should prioritize as you select the best car loan for your needs.
Check your credit score. And understand what is in your credit report.
FICO scores under 579 is considered ‘poor’. But you may need a bad credit loan with a score as high as 669.
Interest rates and fees matter. These can make a huge difference in how much you pay for an auto loan each month.
Compare loan terms. Consider your repayment timeline and compare lenders with this in mind.
Getting prequalified online can help. Some lenders, including ones that made our ranking, let you get prequalified for a loan online without a hard inquiry on your credit report.
Watch out for loan restrictions. Some lenders impose restrictions on what car you can purchase. Keep this in mind to avoid unpleasant surprises later.
The Best Bad Credit Car Loans of 2021
The best bad credit car loans make it easy for consumers to qualify for the financing they need. The following lenders made our list due to their superior loan offerings, excellent customer service, and reputation in this industry.
Car Loan Company
Best for Flexibility
Best Personal Loan Option
Best Loan for Bad Credit and No Credit
Best Loan Comparison Site
Best Big Bank Loan for Bad Credit
Best for Fast Funding
Why Some Lenders Didn’t Make the Cut
While the lenders we are profiling are the best of the best, there are plenty of bad credit car loans that didnât quite make the cut. We didnât include any lenders that only offer auto loan refinancing, for example, since we know many people need a car loan in order to purchase a new or used car or truck. We also stayed away from bad credit car loans that charge outrageous fees for consumers with the lowest credit scores.
Bad Credit Auto Loan Reviews
We listed the top companies we selected in our study above, but we also aim to provide readers with more insights and details on each. The reviews below highlight the highlights of each lender that made our list, plus our take on who they might be best for.
OneMain Financial: Best for Flexibility
OneMain Financial offers personal loans and auto loans with interest rates that range from 18.00% to 35.99%. You can repay your auto loan in 24, 36, 48, or 60 months, and you can use this lender to borrow up to $20,000 for a new or used car. You can apply for your auto loan online and from the comfort of your own home, and itâs possible to get approved within a matter of minutes.
While OneMain Financial doesnât list a minimum credit score requirement, itâs believed they will approve consumers with scores as low as 600. You should also note that auto loans from OneMain Financial come with an origination fee of up to 5% of your loan amount.
Sign Up With OneMain Financial Today
Why This Lender Made Our List: OneMain Financial offers a lot of flexibility in terms of your loan terms, including the option to repay your auto loan over five years. OneMain Financial also has pretty decent reviews from users for a bad credit lender, and they have an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau.
Potential Downsides to Be Aware Of: OneMain Financial charges some pretty high rates for its bad credit loans, and donât forget that you may need to pay an origination fee that is up to 5% of your loan amount. Their loans are also capped at $20,000, which means this lender wonât work for everyone.
Who Itâs Best For: This lender is best for consumers with really poor credit who need auto financing but canât get approved for a better loan.
Upgrade: Best Personal Loan Option
Upgrade is an online lender that offers personal loans with fixed interest rates, fixed monthly payments, and a fixed repayment timeline. You can borrow up to $50,000 in an unsecured loan, which means you wonât actually use the car you purchase as collateral for the loan.
You can repay the money you borrow over 36 to 60 months, which makes it possible for you to tweak your loan offer to secure a monthly payment you can afford. Upgrade has a minimum credit score requirement of 620 to qualify, although theyâll consider additional factors such as your income and employment history.
Sign Up With Upgrade Today
Why This Lender Made Our List: Upgrade lets you âcheck your rateâ online without a hard inquiry on your credit report. This makes it easy to shop around and compare this loan offer to others without having to fill out a full loan application. Also note that Upgrade has an A+ rating with the BBB.
Potential Downsides to Be Aware Of: Upgrade charges APRs as high as 35.89% for consumers with the worst credit, and an origination fee of up to 6% of your loan amount might also apply.
Who Itâs Best For: Upgrade is best for consumers with decent credit who need to borrow a larger loan amount. This loan is also best for anyone who wants an auto loan that isnât secured by their vehicle.
AutoCreditExpress.com: Best Loan for Bad Credit and No Credit
AutoCreditExpress.com is an online platform that lets consumers with bad credit and even no credit get the financing they need. Once you fill out some basic loan information, youâll be connected with a lender who can offer you financing as well as a dealership in your area. From there, youâll head to the local dealership and pull the pieces of your auto loan together, including the purchase price of the car you want.
Sign Up With Autocreditexpress.com Today
Why This Lender Made Our List: AutoCreditExpress.com has an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau. This platform also makes it possible for consumers with no credit at all to finance a car, which is a welcome relief for people who are building credit for the first time.
Potential Downsides to Be Aware Of: This website is a loan platform but they donât offer loans directly to consumers. This means you wonât have any idea on rates and terms until you fill out an application and get connected with a lender.
Who Itâs Best For: This loan is best for consumers with no credit or minimal credit history who cannot get approved for a loan elsewhere.
MyAutoLoan.com: Best Loan Comparison Site
MyAutoLoan.com is a loan comparison site that makes it easy to compare up to four auto loan offers in a matter of minutes. You can use this website to apply for a new auto loan, but you can also utilize it to consider refinancing offers for an auto loan you already have. You can also use funds from this platform to purchase a car from a dealer or from a private seller.
Sign Up With MyAutoLoan.com Today
Why This Lender Made Our List: Comparing auto loans in terms of their terms, rates, and fees is the best way to save money and wind up with the best deal. Since MyAutoLoan.com is a loan comparison site, they make it easy to shop around and compare competing offers.
Potential Downsides to Be Aware Of: Loan comparison sites connect you with other lenders who have their own loan terms and minimum requirements for approval. Make sure you know and understand all the details of loans youâre considering before you sign on the dotted line.
Who Itâs Best For: MyAutoLoan.com is best for consumers who want to do all their auto loan shopping with a single website.
Capital One: Best Big Bank Loan for Bad Credit
Capital One offers online auto loan financing in conjunction with a program called Auto NavigatorÂ®. This program lets you get prequalified for an auto loan online, then work with a participating dealer to coordinate a loan for the car you want. Capital One also lets you search available vehicles at participating dealerships before you apply for financing, making it easy to figure out how much you might need to borrow ahead of time.
Sign Up With Capital One Today
Why This Lender Made Our List: Capital One offers the huge benefit of letting you get prequalified online without a hard inquiry to your credit report. Capital One is also a reputable bank with a long history, which should give borrowers some comfort. They have an A+ rating with the BBB and plenty of decent reviews from consumers.
Potential Downsides to Be Aware Of: You should be aware that Capital One auto loans only work at participating dealers, so you may be limited in terms of available cars to choose from.
Who Itâs Best For: Capital One auto loans are best for consumers who find a car they want to buy at one of the participating lenders that works with this program.
LightStream: Best for Fast Funding
LightStream offers online loans for a variety of purposes, including auto financing. Their auto loans for consumers with excellent credit start at just 3.99% with autopay, and even their loans for consumers with lower credit scores only run as high as 16.79% with autopay.
You can apply for your LightStream loan online and get approved in a matter of minutes. This lender can also send your funds as soon as the same business day you apply.
A minimum credit score of 660 is required for loan approval, although other factors like your work history and income are considered.
Sign Up With LightStream Today
Why This Lender Made Our List: LightStream offers auto loans with exceptional terms, and thatâs even true for consumers with less than perfect credit. You can also get your loan funded as soon as the same business day you apply, which is crucial if you need auto financing so you can get back on the road.
Potential Downsides to Be Aware Of: With a minimum credit score requirement of 660, these loans wonât work for consumers with the lowest credit scores.
Who Itâs Best For: LightStream is best for people with decent credit who need to get auto loan financing as quickly as possible.
What You Need To Know When Applying For A Car Loan With Bad Credit
Interest rates and fees matter.
If you think your interest rate and loan fees wonât make a big difference in your monthly payment, think again. The reality is that rates and fees can make a huge difference in how much you pay for an auto loan each month. Consider this: A $10,000 loan with an APR of 35.89% will require you to pay $361 per month for five years. The same loan amount at 21.99% APR will only set you back $276 per month. At 9.99%, you would pay only $212 per month for five years. The bottom line: Make sure to compare auto loans for bad credit so you wind up with the lowest possible APR you can qualify for.
Take steps to improve your credit score before you apply.
Itâs not always possible to wait to apply for a car loan, but you may be able to secure a lower interest rate and better loan terms if you can improve your credit score before you borrow money. The most important steps you can take to improve your score include paying all your bills early or on time, as well as paying down debt in order to decrease your credit utilization. You should also refrain from opening or closing too many credit card accounts in order to avoid new inquiries on your credit report and maintain the longest average length of your credit history possible.
Compare loan terms.
Some lenders let you borrow money for up to 84 months, while others let you repay your loan over 36 or 60 months at most. If you need to repay your loan over a longer timeline in order to secure an affordable monthly payment, make sure to compare lenders based on this factor. If youâre having trouble figuring out how much can you can afford, gauging affordability based on the monthly payments you can handle can also help in that effort.
Getting prequalified online can help.
Some lenders, including ones that made our ranking, let you get prequalified for a loan online without a hard inquiry on your credit report. This makes it considerably easier to compare rates and shop around without formally applying for an auto loan. Getting prequalified with more than one lender can also help you determine which one might offer the lowest rate without having to fill out a full loan application.
Watch out for loan restrictions.
As you compare the lenders on this list, keep in mind that not all lenders extend loans for any car you want. Some only let you finance cars with participating lenders in their network, which can drastically limit your options and make it impossible to purchase a car from a private seller. If you hope to purchase a car from someone you know or a website like craigslist.org, you may want to consider reaching out to your personal bank or a credit union you have a relationship with.
Bad credit car loans donât have to be forever.
Finally, you should know that a car loan for bad credit doesnât have to last forever. You may need to borrow money for a car right now regardless of the interest rate and terms you can qualify for, but it may be possible to refinance your loan into a better loan product later on. This is especially true if you focus on improving your credit score right away, and if you use your auto loan as an opportunity to prove your creditworthiness.
How to Get the Best Rate
1. Check your credit score.
Your credit score is one of the most important defining factors that dictate loan costs. Before you apply for an auto loan, it can help you check your credit score to see where you stand. Your score may not be as bad as you realize, but it could also be worse than you ever imagined. Either way, it helps to know this important information before you start shopping for an auto loan.
2. Improve your credit over time.
If your credit score needs work, youâll want to take steps to start improving it right away. The most important steps you can take to boost your credit score include paying all your bills early or on time and paying down debt to decrease your credit utilization. Also, make sure youâre not opening or closing too many credit accounts within a short amount of time.
3. Check your credit reports.
Use the website AnnualCreditReport.com to get a free copy of your credit reports from all three credit bureaus. Once you have this information, check over your credit reports for errors. If you find false information that might be hurting your score, take the steps to have the incorrect information removed.
4. Compare loan offers from at least three lenders.
A crucial step to get the best rate involves shopping around and comparing loan offers from at least three different lenders. This is important since lenders with different criteria might offer a lower APR or better terms than others.
5. Be flexible with repayment terms.
Also consider a few different loan terms provided you can afford the monthly payment with each. Some auto lenders offer better rates for shorter terms, which can help you save money if you can afford to repay your loan over 24 or 36 months instead of 60+.
How We Chose the Best Auto Loans
The lenders on our list werenât plucked out of thin air. In fact, the team behind this guide spent hours comparing auto lenders based on a wide range of criteria. Hereâs everything we considered when comparing the best bad credit car loans of 2021:
Interest Rates and Loan Terms: Our team looked for loans that offer reasonable rates and terms for consumers with poor credit. While higher APRs are typically charged to consumers with a low credit score, we only considered lenders that offer sensible rates that donât seem out of line for the auto loan market.
Ratings and Reviews: We gave preference to lenders who have decent reviews online, either through Consumer Affairs, Trustpilot, or another third party website. We also gave higher marks to lenders who have a positive rating with the Better Business Bureau (BBB).
Online Availability: Lenders who offer full loan details online were definitely given top priority in our ranking, and lenders who let you get prequalified online without a hard inquiry on your credit report were given the most points in this category. But since not everyone wants to apply for a loan online, we also included some lenders that let you apply over the phone.
Approval Requirements: Finally, we looked for lenders that extend credit to consumers with low credit scores in the first place. Not all lenders offer specific information on approval requirements, but we did our best to sort out lenders that only accept borrowers with good or excellent credit.
Summary: Best Bad Credit Card Loans of 2021
Best for Flexibility: OneMain Financial
Best Personal Loan Option: Upgrade
Best Loan for Bad Credit and No credit: AutoCreditExpress.com
Best Loan Comparison Site: MyAutoLoan.com
Best Big Bank Loan for Bad Credit: CapitalOne
Best for Fast Funding: LightStream
The post What Are the Best Car Loans When You Have Bad Credit? appeared first on Good Financial CentsÂ®.
Foreign transaction fees are irritating little charges that every traveler has faced, and most credit card users have questioned. They are the bane of a frequent flyerâs life and if not managed carefully, could result in some serious charges. But what are these charges, why do they exist, whatâs the average fee, and how can you avoid them?
What is a Foreign Transaction Fee?
A foreign transaction fee is a surcharge levied every time you make a payment in a foreign currency or transfer money through a foreign bank. These fees are charged by credit card networks and issuers, often totaling around 3%.
For example, imagine that youâre on holiday in the United Kingdom, where all transactions occur in Pound Sterling. You go out for a meal and use your credit card to pay a bill of Â£150. Your credit card issuer first converts this sum into US Dollars and then charges a foreign transaction fee, after which the network (Visa, MasterCard, American Express) will do the same.
If we assume that Â£150 equates to exactly $200, this will show on your credit card statement first followed by a separate foreign transaction fee of $6.
When Will You Pay Foreign Transaction Fees?
If youâre moving money from a US bank account to an international account in a different currency, thereâs a good chance you will be hit with foreign transaction fees and may also be charged additional transfer fees. More commonly, these fees are charged every time you make a payment in a foreign currency.
Many years ago, foreign transaction fees were limited to purchases made in other currencies, but they are now charged for online purchases as well. If the site youâre using is based in another country, thereâs a good chance youâll face these charges.
It isnât always easy to know in advance whether these fees will be charged or not. Many foreign based sites use software that automatically detects your location and changes the currency as soon as you visit. To you, it seems like everything is listed in dollars, but you may actually be paying in a foreign currency.
Other Issues that American Travelers FaceÂ
Foreign transaction fees arenât the only issue you will encounter when trying to use American reward credit cards abroad. If we return to the previous example of a holiday in the UK, you may discover that the restaurant doesnât accept your credit card at all.
In the UK, as in the US, Visa and MasterCard are the two most common credit card networks and are accepted anywhere you can use a credit or debit card. However, while Discover is the third most common network in the US, itâs all but non-existent in the UK.Â
Discover has claimed that the card has âmoderateâ acceptance in the UK, but this is a generous description and unless youâre shopping in locations that tailor for many tourists and American tourists in particular, it likely wonât be accepted.
There are similar issues with American Express, albeit to a lesser extent. AMEX is the third most common provider in the UK, but finding a retailer that actually accepts this card is very hit and miss.
Do Foreign Transaction Fees Count Towards Credit Card Rewards?
Foreign transaction fees, and all other bank and credit card fees, do not count towards your rewards total but the initial charge does. If we return to the previous example of a $200 restaurant payment, you will earn reward points on that $200 but not on the additional $6 that you pay in fees.
How to Avoid Foreign Transaction Fees
The easiest way to avoid foreign transaction fees is to use a credit card that doesnât charge them. Some premium cards and reward cards will absorb the fee charged for these transactions, which means you can take your credit card with you when you travel and donât have to worry about extra charges.
This is key, because simply converting your dollars to your target currency isnât the best way to avoid foreign transaction fees. A currency conversion will come with its own fees and itâs also very risky to carry large sums of cash with you when youâre on vacation.Â
Credit Cards Without Foreign Transaction Fees
All credit card offers are required to clearly state a host of basic features, including interest rates, reward schemes, and annual fees. However, you may need to do a little digging to learn about foreign transaction fees. These fees can be found in the credit cardâs terms and conditions, which should be listed in full on the providerâs website.
To get you started, here are a few credit cards that donât charge foreign transaction fees:
Bank of America Travel Rewards Card: A high-reward and low-fee credit card backed by the Bank of America.
Capital One: All Capital One cards are free of foreign transaction fees, including their reward cards, such as the Venture card.
Chase Sapphire Preferred: A premium rewards card aimed at big spenders. There is an annual fee, but not foreign transaction fees.
Citi Prestige: One of several Citi cards that donât charge foreign transaction fees, and the best one in terms of rewards.Â
Discover It: A solid all-round credit card with no foreign transaction fees. However, as noted above, the Discover network is rare outside of the United States.
Wells Fargo Propel World: An American Express credit card with good rewards and low fees, including no foreign transaction fees.
Summary: One of Many Fees
Foreign transaction fees are just some of the many fees you could be paying every month. Credit cards work on a system of rewards and penalties; youâre rewarded when you make qualifying purchases and penalized when you make payments in foreign currencies and in casinos, and when you use your card to withdraw cash.
Many of these fees are fixed as a percentage of your total spend, but some also charge interest and you will pay this even if you clear your balance in full every month. To avoid being hit with these fees, pay attention to the terms and conditions and look for cards that wonât punish you for the things you do regularly.
What is a Foreign Transaction Fee and How Can You Avoid It? is a post from Pocket Your Dollars.
When you have an international credit card, you can use it both in your home country and abroad. Itâs not uncommon to come across businesses abroad that only accept native currency. Thatâs when an international credit card comes in handy. If you want to avoid the hassles of carrying cash or travelerâs checks everywhere you go, these types of credit cards are the perfect solution.
Several established hotels, restaurants and retail outlets you encounter during your travels will accept your international credit card. That card offers many of the same features as a standard version and can also be used at ATM machines. Thus, no matter where you are, you can get cash from your bank account. You can also check your account balance from an ATM, so you can keep track of your spending and make sure youâre sticking to your budget.
Credit Card Foreign Transaction Fees
A foreign credit card transaction fee is charged when you make a payment in a different country with your card. The sale also includes a fee because youâre paying in a foreign currency. Typically, foreign transaction fees are equal to 3% of the total cost of the transaction. They are also set in U.S. currency. If you purchase an item or souvenir in another nationâs currency and the total bill comes to $100, with 3% in foreign transaction fees tacked on, you pay a total of $103.
Foreign transaction fees can be charged on different types of transactions, including withdrawing money from ATM machines, reserving hotel rooms, or even booking your flights. The terms and conditions that apply to foreign transaction fees are usually included in the fine print of your international credit cardâs cardholder agreement. So, make sure you review this information and are fully aware of the terms before using your card for purchases.
The International Chip and PIN
The international chip and PIN are part of a system being integrated into a number of credit cards. Many foreign merchants no longer accept standard magnetic strip credit cards, claiming theyâre unsafe and outdated. The point of an international chip and pin is so that you wonât end up at an unattended kiosk unable to use the card because it requires a PIN to complete your transaction. This specifically applies to retailers in Europe.
Top 4 Brands of International Credit Cards
There are many different international credit cards, but four in particular offer better benefits and interest rates than others.
1. Capital One Venture Rewards Card
The Capital One Venture Rewards Card is another credit card you probably want to consider. The Capital One Rewards card also gives you a solid introductory rate and travel rewards points. It also provides you with a sign-on bonus of up to 50,000 miles or $500 in travel when you spend $3,000 in your first three months from account opening. The only downside is that this card comes with a Â an annual fee after the first year.
2. Capital One Venture One Rewards Credit Card
If you enjoy the Capital One brand but prefer to avoid the annual fee, consider the Capital One Venture One Rewards Credit Card. The card gives you all the advantages of Capital One without an annual fee. This card also gives you major perksâyouâll get 20,000 miles if you $1,000 in the first three months.
3. Chase Sapphire Preferred Credit Card
Chase Sapphire PreferredÂ® Card
on Chase’s secure website
15.99% – 22.99% Variable
15.99% – 22.99% Variable
Snapshot of Card Features
Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That’s $750 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate RewardsÂ®. Plus earn up to $50 in statement credits towards grocery store purchases.
2X points on dining at restaurants including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out and travel & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
Get 25% more value when you redeem for travel through Chase Ultimate RewardsÂ®. For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel.
With Pay Yourself Back℠, your points are worth 25% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories.
Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on eligible orders over $12 for a minimum of one year with DashPass, DoorDash’s subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
Earn 2x total points on up to $1,000 in grocery store purchases per month from November 1, 2020 to April 30, 2021. Includes eligible pick-up and delivery services.
Card Details +
Lastly, the Chase Sapphire Preferred Credit Card has low introductory rates for purchases and balance transfers, though its rewards offerings are somewhat weaker by comparison. This is another card that gives you a major bang for your buckâyou can earn 60,000 bonus points when you spend $4,000 in the first three months.
Do Your Due Diligence Before Traveling Abroad with Your New Cards
Even with an international means of payment, your credit card may not be accepted at all locations. Recently, a Credit.com staffer who traveled to Amsterdam tried to use his World Elite Mastercard at some locations and found that local merchants didnât always accept a Mastercard branded card.
Before going on your trip, check either with stores or the credit card network (Mastercard, Visa, Discover or American Express) Â to see if any conditions exist that might prevent your card from being accepted by foreign merchants. Alternatively, you can take a few different brands with your or have some cash or travelerâs checks on hand.
Check Your Credit
Before applying for an international credit card, itâs important to check your credit score to see what you qualify for. A low score or no score at all could get in the way of your goals of traveling with an international credit card in hand. Be sure to check your score before you apply. Most credit card companies that offer cash-back or miles require a good or even excellent score.
Checking your credit is easy and free depending on the site you use, and checking doesnât hurt your score. You can get your free Experian credit score by visiting Credit.com. Instead of a hard inquiry, Credit.com does a soft inquiry without harming your credit score.
Using Credit.com for Your Travels
Traveling overseas with a credit card is convenient, but it can also be tricky. If youâre planning a trip abroad, itâs important to research which international credit cards will serve you best. Having a credit card that can be used anywhere in the world is a great tool to have in your pocket. But the terms and conditions of each card vary depending on several factors including your credit history, your spending habits and the places you visit.
Credit.com offers travelers just like you the opportunity to check their credit scores and apply for cards that will benefit them on their international journeys. If youâre interested in learning more about credit cards, check Credit.com
Editorial disclosure: Reviews are as determined solely by Credit.com staff. Opinions expressed here are solely those of the reviewers and arenât reviewed or approved by any advertiser. Information presented is accurate as of the date of the review, including information on card rates, rewards and fees. Check the issuerâs website for the most current information on each card listed.
Some offers mentioned here may have expired and/or are no longer available on our site. You can view the current offers from our partners in our credit card marketplace. DISCLOSURE: Cards from our partners are mentioned here.
The post What is an International Credit Card? appeared first on Credit.com.
Editorial Note: This content is not provided by the credit card issuer. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the authorâs alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the issuer.
If left unchecked, extensive amounts of credit card debt can cripple your finances. The good news is there are many ways to handle debt, though each requires a dedicated effort on your part. But if you can manage to consolidate credit card debt, you will reduce your burden relatively quickly. In the process, youâll avoid the exorbitant interest rates that accompany most credit cards. Below we take a look at some of the most effective techniques you can use to make this goal a reality.
Find Out Your Credit Score
Before you can work on improving your credit and minimizing your debt, you have to know where you currently stand.
Many credit card issuers allow cardholders to see their FICOÂ® credit score free of charge once a month, so check out if any of your cards include that free credit score. The three major credit bureaus â TransUnion, Experian and Equifax â also give out free annual credit reports. If thatâs not enough, websites like Credit Karmaâ¢ and Credit Sesame provide a free look at your credit score and reports as well.
It is vital to review your credit report with a fine-tooth comb to ensure the accuracy of the information. If you find errors be sure to let the credit bureau in question know so the issue can be eradicated as soon as possible.
Zero Interest Balance Transfer Cards
Although it might seem counterintuitive to apply for another credit card to lessen your debt, a zero interest balance transfer card could really help. These cards typically include an introductory 0% balance transfer Annual Percentage Rate (APR) for six months or more. This ultimately allows you to move debt from one account to another without incurring more interest. However, once the introductory offer concludes, any leftover balances will revert to your base APR.
These offers arenât totally free, though. Most cards also charge a balance transfer fee thatâs usually between 3% and 5% of the transfer. Even with this initial payment, you will almost always still save money over leaving your debt where it stands currently.
If you want to consolidate credit card debt, here are three different balance transfer credit cards you could apply for, with varying introductory interest rates and transfer fees:
Balance Transfer Credit Cards Card Intro Balance Transfer APR Balance Transfer Fee Chase Slate 0% APR for first 15 months; then 16.49% to 25.24% Variable APR, depending on your creditworthiness No fee for first 60 days; then $5 or 5% of each transfer, whichever is greater Citi Double Cash Card 0% introductory APR for 18 months from date of first transfer when transfers are completed within 4 months from date of account opening; then 15.49% to 25.49% Variable APR, depending on your creditworthiness $5 or 3% of each transfer, whichever is greater BankAmericardÂ® credit card 0% APR for first 15 billing cycles; then 14.49% to 24.49% Variable APR, depending on your creditworthiness No fee for first 60 days; then $10 or 3% of each transfer, whichever is greater Take Out a Personal Loan
The thought of taking out another loan probably doesnât sound too appetizing to consolidate credit card debt. But a personal debt consolidation loan is one of the speediest ways to rid yourself of credit card debt. More specifically, you can use it to pay off most or all of your debt in one lump sum. That way, your payments are all merged into a single account with your lender.
The APR and length of the offered loan and the minimum credit score needed for approval are the main factors that should go into your final decision on a lender. By concentrating on these three components of the loan, you can map out what your monthly payments will be. As a result, you can more easily implement them into your financial life.
Applying for a personal consolidation loan can have a detrimental effect on your credit. Unfortunately, most institutions will run a hard credit check on you prior to approval. However, many online lenders donât do this, which might ease your mind depending on the severity of your debt situation.
These loans are available through a wide variety of financial institutions, including banks, online lenders and credit unions. Here are a few examples of some of the most common debt consolidation lenders:
Common Debt Consolidation Lenders Banks Wells Fargo, U.S. Bank, Fifth Third Bank Online Lenders Lending Club, Prosper, Best Egg Credit Unions Navy Federal Credit Union, Unify Financial Credit Union, Affinity Federal Credit Union Auto or Home Equity Loan
If you own assets like a home or car, you can take out a lump-sum loan based on the equity you hold in them to consolidate credit card debt. This is a great way to reuse money you paid toward an existing loan to take care of your debt. When paying back your auto or home equity loan, youâll usually pay in fixed amounts at a relatively low interest rate. Even if this rate isnât great, itâs likely much better than any offer youâd receive from a card issuer.
Equity loans are technically a second mortgage or loan, meaning your house or car will become the loanâs collateral. That means you could lose your house or car if you cannot keep up with your equity loan payments.
Create a Budget
To build a budget, you first need to figure out your approximate monthly net income. Donât forget to take into account taxes when youâre doing this.
You can then start subtracting your variable and fixed expenses that are expected for the upcoming month. This is where you will likely be able to identify where youâre overspending, whether itâs on food, entertainment or travel. Once youâve completed this, you can begin cutting back where you need to. Then, use your surplus cash to pay off your debt one month at a time.
It shouldnât matter if youâre dealing with substantial credit card debt or not. A monthly spending budget should always be a part of how you manage your finances. While this is likely the slowest way to eliminate debt, itâs also the most financially sound. At its core, it attempts to fix the problem without taking funding from an outside source. This should leave very little financial strife in the aftermath of paying off your debt.
Professional Debt Counseling
Perhaps since youâve found yourself in serious debt, you feel like you want professional help getting out of it. Well the National Foundation for Credit CounselingÂ® (NFCCÂ®) is available for just that reason. The NFCCÂ® has member offices all around the U.S. that are certified in helping you consolidate credit card debt.
These counselors wonât only address your current financial issues and debt. Theyâll also work to create a plan that will help you avoid this situation again in the future.
Agencies that are accredited by the NFCCÂ® will have it clearly displayed on their website or at their offices. If youâre not sure where to look, the foundation created an agency locator thatâll help you find a counselor nearby.
Borrow From Your Retirement
Taking money early from your employer-sponsored retirement account obviously isnât ideal. Thatâs means borrowing from your retirement is a last-ditch alternative. But if your credit card debt has become such a handicap that itâs affecting all other facets of your life, it is a viable option to consolidate credit card debt.
Because you are technically loaning money to yourself, this will not show up on your credit report. Major tax and penalty charges await anyone who has trouble making payments on these loans though. To make matters worse, if you quit your job or are fired, youâre typically only given 60 days to finish paying it off to avoid incurring a penalty.
Tips To Consolidate Credit Card Debt
If you take the time to come up with a budget, donât let it go to waste. While you might find it tough to stick to, especially if youâre trying to cut back, it is the best way to manage your money correctly. Even if a budget becomes habit, stay vigilant with where your money is being spent.
Although a financial advisor will cost money, he or she might be able to help you keep your finances in check while ultimately helping you plan for the future as well. However, if this isnât an option for you financially, stay on track with your NFCCÂ® debt counselorâs plan.
There are so many ways to gain access to your credit score that thereâs virtually no excuse for not knowing it. It doesnât matter if you do it through one of the top three credit bureaus, FICOÂ® or one of your card issuers. Just remember to pay attention to those ever-important three digits as often as possible.
Editorial Note: This content is not provided by the credit card issuer. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the authorâs alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the issuer.
Whether you are about to head to college (no matter what your age may be), if you have a child who is about to attend college, or if you know someone who is about to experience this, then this article is for you.
When I was around 17, I applied to several different colleges, but one mistake I made was that I didn’t even give community college a thought.
Unfortunately, there is a stigma attached to going to community college, like thinking it is for those that can’t get into a “regular” college, for those that don’t have enough money, or for those that have no other options. When, in fact, these are all far from the truth.
And, sadly, I bought into these myths and thought I was too good for community college. If you want to save money in college, community college is a great way to do that.
The stigma about going to community college is absolutely ridiculous.
And, I was a young kid, so, of course, I let other people’s opinions get to me. And, I thought everyone was right!
It isn’t just kids that believe those myths about community college, as even adults (parents or returning learners) buy into those myths.
Well, that is a big mistake!
For many people, community college should be their first choice.
College costs are increasing, and they’re not going to stop anytime soon.
According to College Board, the average yearly tuition and fees for a:
Private four-year college is $32,410.
Public four-year college for out-of-state students is $23,890.
Public four-year college for in-state students is $9,410.
Community college, on the other hand, is just $3,440.
Those tuition differences are huge, and just look at how much you could save if you did only your first year at community college!
For many people, going to college means taking out loans, and according to a student survey done by Nerdwallet, 48% of undergrad borrowers said they could have borrowed less and still have afforded their educations. And, 27% regretted going to a school that required them to take out loans to afford their tuition.
I know this regret personally.
I only spent one summer semester taking classes at community college, where I earned 12 credits, and I still regret not taking more. I probably could have saved over $20,000 by taking more classes at my local community college.
Yes, I could have saved that much money!
Whether you are in college already or if you haven’t started yet, taking classes at a community college can be a great way to save money.
Today, I want to talk about common myths I hear about community college, so that I can persuade more people to give it a shot. It can save you so much money, and is a great option for a lot of people.
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Here are common myths about attending community college:
But, all of my credits won’t transfer.
This is the top reason (and myth) I hear for not attending community college.
If you take the correct steps, the credits you earn at a community college will transfer.
If you decide to go to a community college first, always make sure that the 4-year college you plan on attending afterwards will accept all of your credits. It’s an easy step to take, so do not forget to look into this! You should take this step before you sign up and pay for any classes at the community college so that you are not wasting your time.
My four-year university made it easy and had a printed list of what transferred from the local community college – it’s seriously that easy! I’m sure many universities do this as well.
When I took classes for college credit in high school and at the community college, I made sure that all of the classes transferred to the university in which I was getting my degree from.
I have heard too many stories about people not checking this ahead of time and wasting years by taking classes that didn’t transfer, which means you are wasting time and money.
Make sure you get it in writing and talk to your college counselor as well about this. They can help you determine which ones will transfer and provide you proof of transferability.
Also, know that by accepting transfer credits, your four-year university is basically saying “these community college credits mean the same thing here.”
Community college won’t actually save me that much money.
I want to repeat, the average yearly tuition and fees for a:
Private four-year college is $32,410.
Public four-year college for out-of-state students is $23,890.
Public four-year college for in-state students is $9,410.
And, community college is $3,440.
As you can see, college tuition is a significant amount of money, and it is a drastic difference between four-year institutions and community college.
Now, the problem here is that many people “afford” college by taking out student loans, so the amount of money you are paying for college isn’t an immediate thing that you “feel” – because it’s all debt!
Note: If you are a parent and you are thinking about taking on debt to put your child through school, please, please, please consider having them attend community college first. Please, also read Should I Ruin My Retirement By Helping My Child Through College?
The classes won’t be as good.
I’ve heard this community college myth over and over again. Many people think that the classes won’t be “good enough” for them. That is usually far from the case, though. Your first two years, no matter where you go, are most likely going to consist of very generic classes or classes that are similar, if not the same, as ones at the four-year college you are thinking about attending.
It’s usually not until the last two years, after you get those beginner classes and electives out of the way, that your classes really begin to matter for your degree.
And, if you’re afraid you really need more of those beginner classes from a four-year college, I recommend at least taking a summer semester or two at your community college for elective classes. There are usually lots of elective options at community college, and you can at least take those at a more affordable rate. That is exactly what I did – one summer while I was attending my four-year college, I enrolled at the community college for a bunch of electives. I was able to easily, and affordably, knock out a bunch of electives.
My degree will be worth less coming from a community college.
When you graduate with a four-year degree, the school name on your diploma will be the name of the college you graduated from. It won’t say, “graduated from here but took some classes at community college.” This is because your community college credits transferred (if you followed the step above).
So, no worries here.
Nowhere on my college degree does it say that I took some classes at the community college.
Did you attend community college? Why or why not?
The post I Thought I Was Too Good For Community College appeared first on Making Sense Of Cents.
Heading off to college is exciting. Really exciting. You finally have freedom! You’re out on your own for the very first time, managing your studies, managing your social life and… managing your finances.
Despite being a big part of your newfound independence, personal finance is a subject you probably won’t find on your course schedule. If you didn’t take a personal finance class in high school and never had money lessons from your parents, you may not know how to manage a checking account as a college student.
“College students have very different needs for their checking account than their parents or other adults,” says Tommy Martin, CEO of Clear Path Financial Planning and a finance blogger at TommyMartin.com. If you live in a different city during the school year than you do during winter and summer breaks, for example, you may be after a bank for which location doesn’t matter.
Ok, so how do I manage my checking account in college, you ask? First, don’t get overwhelmed. Learning how to manage money while in college and getting a handle on checking account basics is simpler than you might think (oh, and the skills will serve you for years to come). Second, you can kick off your checking account education with these tips for managing a checking account in college:
1. Compare checking accounts before signing up
While your college life may center around your school campus, you should consider venturing off-campus to pick the right checking account for your lifestyle.
“Students typically sign up with a bank that’s on campus or close to campus,” says Sahil Vakil, a financial planner and president of MYRA Wealth in New Jersey. However, the nearest bank might not be the one that best fits your needs, he adds.
Instead of picking a bank based solely on proximity, consider all of your options, including banks with off-campus locations and online-only banks.
Martin agrees, saying that learning how to manage money while in college means considering all of your banking options rather than “automatically enrolling or choosing the official school bank just because it has the school logo on it.” There are other ways to show your school pride, after all.
2. Learn about checking account fees and rewards
Vakil and Martin both say a tip for managing a checking account in college is to consider an account’s fees before signing up. Costly fees can eat into your savings and spending money, which can be a blow for students who are not working full-time. When you are choosing a checking account in college, consider fees for:
Monthly maintenance (essentially keeping your account open)
Minimum balance (not maintaining one)
Online bill pay
Replacement debit cards
Martin says a checking account with no minimum balance requirement or minimum number of transactions could be a good fit for students. “It allows them to focus on their education” instead of worrying about incurring penalties, he says. “Even a $5 fee on a checking account with $60 in it can be devastating.”
Costly fees can eat into your savings and spending money, which can be a blow for students who are not working full-time.
Martin also suggests finding an account that has a large network of no-fee ATMs located across the country to better manage your checking account as a college student. “Especially if you’re going to a school in a different state, the local bank from home might wind up costing you a lot in terms of ATM fees,” he says. If your parents plan to wire you money, find an account that doesn’t charge incoming wire fees, Martin adds.
While fees should be a focus when you are learning how to manage money while in college, don’t forget about incentives. You may be able to find a checking account that actually helps you grow your balance by paying interest or offering a cash back rewards program.
“If you have to pay for books or supplies, at least you can get some cash back and use it for a free dinner,” Martin says. Discover Cashback Debit, for example, offers 1% cash back on up to $3,000 in debit card purchases each month.1
Luckily, you don’t need to take Banking 101 to figure out your funds, and tech makes tracking your balance and account activity easier than ever. Most banks let you log in to your account online (don’t get distracted in class!), and with a bank’s mobile app you can transfer money to friends, pay bills, deposit checks and check your balanceâall while you’re on the go.
Knowing your balance at all times is a tip for managing a checking account in college because it can help you avoid overdrafts and insufficient funds fees. It can also help you forecast your income and expenses to ensure you’ll have enough money to cover future costs. Surpriseâthat’s budgeting!
There’s no one-size-fits-all budgeting program or system, though. You can go old-school and track your budget on a printed-out budget sheet, or you can go tech-savvy with a budgeting and spending app. “What’s best for you is the one you’re actually going to use,” Martin says.
If you learn how to manage money while in college and make a practice of maintaining your budget, the habit will follow you after graduation.
âCollege students have very different needs for their checking account than their parents or other adults.â
4. Secure your account
One of Vakil’s tips for managing a checking account in college is to make sure your account stays secure. Create a unique account name and password that you use only for your checking account, and never share your credentials.
Vakil says you can also enable two-factor authentication if your bank offers it and you’re looking for another way to improve the management of your checking account as a college student. “This additional layer of protection safeguards your sensitive financial data and strengthens the security of your account by requiring two methods of verifying your identity.”
For example, if you log in to your account from a new device, you may be sent a text message with a code that you’ll need to enter to access your account.
5. Keep an eye out for debit card holds
No matter where you bank, a merchant may place a hold on funds in your checking account when you use your debit card. Generally, a hold is placed for travel-related purchasesâsuch as at rental car companies, hotels and gas stationsâand used by merchants to protect against fraud and errors.
“Holds on a debit card can make it tricky for you to manage your finances,” Vakil says. For example, “when you rent a car, the car rental company might put a $500 hold on your account. If the balance in your account was $550, now you can only use another $50.”
Being aware of holds can be particularly important if you are managing a checking account as a college student and tend to have a low account balance.
If a merchant will be placing a hold, it will generally post a sign to notify customers. The hold will typically be removed after the funds are transferred to the merchant from your financial institution, typically within three to four days.
Knowing when a hold will be placed, the amount of the hold and how much money you have in your checking account can help you manage your checking account as a college student by avoiding overdrafts and missed bill payments due to insufficient funds.
6. Don’t let one mistake throw you off track
If you can learn how to manage a checking account as a college student, and more generally, how to manage money while in college, you can lay the groundwork for a solid financial future. Checking account mistakes may occasionally happen (oops, I didn’t budget enough for that spring break trip), but don’t let them discourage you to the point of apathy. Instead, try to continually expand your knowledge and practice healthy financial habits.
1Â ATM transactions, the purchase of money orders or other cash equivalents, cash over portions of point-of-sale transactions, Peer-to-Peer (P2P) payments (such as Apple Pay Cash), and loan payments or account funding made with your debit card are not eligible for cash back rewards. In addition, purchases made using third-party payment accounts (services such as VenmoÂ® and PayPal, who also provide P2P payments) may not be eligible for cash back rewards. Apple, the Apple logo and Apple Pay are trademarks of Apple Inc., registered in the U.S. and other countries. Venmo and PayPal are registered trademarks of PayPal, Inc.
The post 6 Tips for Successfully Managing a Checking Account in College appeared first on Discover Bank – Banking Topics Blog.
Surgery is a prestigious field that requires a high degree of skill, dedication and hard work of its members. Not surprisingly, surgeonsâ compensation reflects this fact, as the average salary of a surgeon was $255,110 in 2018. This figure can vary slightly depending on where you live and the type of institution at which you work. Moreover, the path to becoming a surgeon is long and involves a substantial amount of schooling, which might result in student loan debt.
Average Salary of a Surgeon: The Basics
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average salary of a surgeon was $255,110 per year in 2018. That comes out to an hourly wage of $122.65 per hour assuming a 40-hour work week â though the typical surgeon works longer hours than that. Even the lowest-paid 10% of surgeons earn $94,960 per year, so the chances are high that becoming a surgeon will result in a six-figure salary. The average salary of a surgeon is higher than the average salary of other doctors, with the exception of anesthesiologists, who earn roughly as much as surgeons.
The top-paying state for surgeons is Nebraska, with a mean annual salary of $287,890. Following Nebraska is Maine, New Jersey, Maryland and Kansas. Top-paying metro area for surgeons include Cincinnati, OH-KY-IN; Winchester, WV-VA; Albany-Schenectady-Troy, NY; New Orleans-Metairie, LA; and Bowling Green, KY.
Where Surgeons Work
According to BLS data, most of the surgeons in the U.S. work in physiciansâ offices, where the mean annual wage for surgeons is $265,920. Second to physiciansâ offices for the highest concentration of surgeons are General Medical and Surgical Hospitals, where the mean annual wage for surgeons is $225,700. Colleges, universities and professional schools are next up. There, surgeons earn an annual mean wage of $175,410. A smaller number of surgeons are employed in outpatient Care Centers, where the mean annual wage for surgeons is $277,670. Last up are special hospitals. There, the mean annual wage for surgeons is $235,770.
Becoming a Surgeon
You may have heard that the cost of becoming a doctor, including the cost of medical school and other expenses, has soared. Aspiring surgeons must first get a bachelorâs degree from an accredited college, preferably in a scientific field like biology.
Then comes the Medical College Acceptance Test (MCAT) and applications to medical schools. The application process can get expensive quickly, as many schools require in-person interviews without reimbursing applicants for travel expenses.
If accepted, youâll then spend four years in medical school earning your M.D. Once youâve accomplished that, youâll almost certainly enter a residency program at a hospital. According to a 2018 survey by Medscape, the average medical resident earns a salary of $59,300, up $2,100 from the previous year. General surgery residents earned slightly less ($58,800), but more specialized residents like those practicing neurological surgery earned more ($61,800).
According to the American College of Surgeons, surgical residency programs last five years for general surgery. But some residency programs are longer than five years. For example, thoracic surgery and pediatric surgery both require residents to complete the five-year general surgery residency, plus two additional years of field-specific surgical residency.
Surgeons must also be licensed and certified. The fees for the licensing exam are the same regardless as specialty, but the application and exam fees for board certification vary by specialty. Maintenance of certification is also required. Itâs not a set-it-and-forget-it qualification. The American Board of Surgery requires continuing education, as well as an exam at 10-year intervals.
Surgeons earn some of the highest salaries in the country. However, the costs associated with becoming a surgeon are high, and student debt may eat into surgeonsâ high salaries for years. The costs of maintaining certification and professional insurance are significant ongoing costs associated with being a surgeon.
Tips for Forging a Career Path
Your salary dictates a lot of your financial life, such as how much you can afford to pay in rent and the slice of your paycheck that goes to taxes. However, there are some principles that apply no matter your income bracket, like the importance of an emergency fund and a well-funded retirement account.
Whether youâre earning a six-figure surgeonâs salary or living on a more modest income, itâs smart to work with a financial advisor to manage your money. Finding the right financial advisor that fits your needs doesnât have to be hard. SmartAssetâs free tool matches you with financial advisors in your area in 5 minutes. If youâre ready to be matched with local advisors that will help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.