Building your Dream Home? Solar Energy Options Make Total Sense

If you are in the enviable position of planning to build your dream home somewhere in Australia, you couldn’t have picked a better time for your project, as every Australian State is currently offering homeowners very attractive grants if they make the switch from National Grid electricity to the clean and renewable energy from the sun.

Single Investment – Continued Saving

While it is never going to be cheap to install a state-of-the-art solar power system in your new home, the state will certainly help you in that regard. The new home builders in Brisbane & Gold Coast, for example, would explain in great detail just how much of a grant you would receive, should you opt for clean energy solutions. Many Australian homeowners are reporting energy savings of up to 40%, and after a few years, the solar panels have been paid for and it is all savings from then on, with savings of around $2,000 per year on an average family home.

Flexible Options

You might, for example, wish to be totally energy independent by producing all of the energy you use at home, or you might prefer to still keep your electricity connection, to be used in the event you ever need it. Fortunately, Australia sees more sunlight than most countries in the world, so it is easy to remove yourself from the grid; plus, you can sell any extra energy you generate to a local company. The Australian government fully supports the use of clean and renewable energy by offering homeowners financial incentives when installing solar panels, so do mention this to the builder, who can quickly inform you of how much of a grant you will receive.

Major Components

The major components in a solar energy system are:

  1. Solar Panels – Fitted on the roof in a location where they receive maximum sunlight.
  2. Deep Cycle Batteries – These store the energy until such time as you need to use it.
  3. Invertors – They transform the solar energy into electricity.

The builder would be very knowledgeable about solar energy systems and can advise you on every aspect of the design, whether you require partial or complete clean energy.

Reduce your Carbon Footprint

It is a nice feeling to know that all the energy you are using is not the result of fossil-fuel burning – a major cause of global warming – and when you crunch the numbers, you will see a return on your investment within a few years. Solar power is the future and the best time to make the switch is when you are planning a new build, which would be subsidised by the state government, and this offer will not be on the table forever.

The builder you select for the project would probably recommend solar energy, as they are all too aware of the savings and the state grants, and with their help, you can have the perfect solar power system incorporated into the build.

5 Cash-Saving Travel Tips

If early retirement is your aim, what steps have you already taken to make your lifestyle as Spartan as possible?

Have you started to work from home in order to save cash on your commute?

Are you growing your own vegetables so that the supermarket doesn’t constantly drain your finances?

Have you started cutting your own hair, using an elaborate mirror arrangement in order to style it from every angle?

Or are you spending much of your spare time crafting your own shoes and clothing from discarded roadside garments and scraps of leather retrieved from junk-shop handbags?

If you’re making one (or several) of these thrifty moves, then well done – the cons of diminishing social skills and a slightly outlandish appearance are probably compensated by the pros of a bigger bank balance.

But what happens on those occasions when you can’t avoid travelling domestically or internationally, perhaps for an important business meeting or to mark a family occasion?

Fear not – these five cash-saving travel tips will prevent you splashing cash too excessively.

  1. Travel by train

Rather than having to concentrate on the road for hours in your car, avoiding falling asleep in traffic jams and filling your vehicle with prohibitively expensive petrol, save some cash and stress by travelling via train.

Take a look at Trainline for cheap tickets – massive savings are available for early bird bookings.

  1. Go by Bus

Don’t mind spending a few hours in a slightly less comfortable environment than a plane, in order to reach the same domestic destination for a fraction of the price?

Then it sounds like bus travel is your money-saving bag – Megabus.com is one of the best bargain services available.

  1. Pack your own provisions

Food is one expenditure factor that can ramp up your spending levels on the road – whether you buy it in a bus station, on a train or in an airport, it’s usually far pricier than elsewhere.

However, by packing your own long-lasting food like dehydrated fruit slices, dried beans and biltong, you can save money and stay satisfied – check out this article from The Prepping Guide for advice.

  1. Find cheap flights

There are some occasions when you can’t avoid flying – for instance if your destination is simply too far away to make travel by any other means practicable, or when you need to move fast to capitalise on an ad hoc business opportunity.

But that doesn’t mean you need to pay through the nose to fly – always check comparison sites like Skyscanner and Kayak to book the cheapest flights possible from a range of carriers.

  1. Book low-cost airport parking

When you live close to an airport, travelling there in your own vehicle often makes more sense than a long schlep on public transport – you can compose yourself in relative privacy and arrive calm and unruffled.

But book airport parking early to avoid hassle on arrival – Looking4.com has secure, low-cost spaces for every airport from East Midlands to Edinburgh.

So ends our list, but share your own thrifty travel tips in the comments section!

Financial Mistakes To Avoid If You Want To Keep Your Credit Clean

Keeping your credit clean is easier said than done. Our modern world is awash with spending pitfalls and if you’re like most people you’ve had little education on how to avoid them.

Learning as you go may sound like a good idea, but the reality is this can lead to some serious financial mistakes that can ruin your credit for years to come. That means it pays to educate yourself on any potential credit pitfalls before you accidentally learn by doing. 

Here’s your chance to do just that, these are 5 financial mistakes to avoid if you want to keep your credit clean:

Leasing That New Car

Leasing a new car may sound like a great idea. After all, you don’t have to pay full price just monthly payments, right? What could go wrong?

Well, it turns out, a lot.

Leasing a car an unaffordable car is one of the most common ways people hurt their credit scores. Remember, just because you are approved for a lease, doesn’t mean it’s a smart financial decision. 

There is a good rule of thumb for determining whether or not you are getting a good deal on a lease, however. It’s called the one percent rule. What you do is simply divide the monthly payment by the MSRP sticker price of the vehicle, if it’s close to or below 1% then it’s a good deal, if it isn’t then its a bad deal. Also, watch out for leasing fees they can end up costing thousands and are often hidden by dealers.

Still, even if you got a great deal on your lease and avoided all those crazy fees, you can still wreck your credit score by not making payments on time or defaulting on your lease. That’s why it’s so important to only lease what you can afford, or even better just buy a used beater and avoid the potential pitfall altogether. 

Buying A House

Buying a house can be a great investment, but it can also lead to financial ruin. Just ask anyone who bought in 2007 before the great recession. 

Low credit scores can lead to the need for larger downpayments and higher interest rates which can cost tens of thousands or more over the entire loan period. 

Home loans aren’t just affected by your credit score though, they can also drive it down considerably if you default or miss payments. 

If you are late on home loan payments lenders will usually give a 15-day grace period, then you will be charged a late fee. After 30 days, however, your lender will report the missed payment to the three credit bureaus(Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion), hurting your credit score. 

This means it’s vital to only buy a house if you can afford it. A good rule of thumb is to not spend more than 25% of your monthly income on mortgage payments. 

Getting A Payday Loan

Payday loans are one of the fastest ways you can ruin your credit. They really should be avoided at all costs. 

If you haven’t heard of a payday loan, they are small, short term loans with high-interest rates that are mostly targeted towards low-income borrowers who need extra cash to get them through the month. 

While most payday lenders don’t report to the national credit bureaus when a borrower first takes out a loan, your credit can still be affected by borrowing at such high-interest rates. 

This is because Payday loan companies sign a post-dated check corresponding with your next payday as collateral for your loan. Then, if you don’t have the funds in your account by your next pay date, when the lender cashes the check, it bounces hurting your credit score.

Also, your credit score can be affected by debt collection agencies hired by the payday loan company to help recoup their funds after you’ve missed a payment. And because the interest rates on these loans are so high many borrowers end up stuck in a never-ending cycle of missed payments, credit collection calls and tanking credit scores. 

Don’t let that be you, avoid getting a payday loan. 

Student Loan Disasters

Student loans can be great credit builders if you are consistent in your repayment plan. However, they can also really hurt your score if you default on your loans or make payments late. 

The situation can be even worse for international students. International student loans often carry higher interest rates and many times international students have more expenses so they take out larger loan amounts. This can lead to disaster if loans aren’t paid back promptly.

Your credit score is affected by student loans when private lenders report missed or late payments to the three major credit bureaus, which is usually done after 30 days. Federal lenders are more lenient, they usually report missed or late payments after 90 days, but still, if you want to avoid tanking your credit score then you’ll need to be on-time with your payments. 

Going Without Insurance

Did you know that 66.5% of all bankruptcies in the U.S were tied to medical issues? That’s an estimated 530,000 families who turn to bankruptcy each year because of medical bills, according to a recent article by CNBC.

It’s no secret that medical bills can ruin you financially, and that’s with insurance. Without it, if something bad happens you can be looking at a lifetime of debt ahead of you. 

That’s why it’s vital to make sure you have health insurance. My father always said if you can only pay one bill, make it health insurance. That’s before your car payment, before utilities, even before your rent, because in the U.S the one thing that can truly ruin your finances for life are medical bills. 

In the U.S, simple financial mistakes can cause your credit to be in the bin for decades. Still, there is a lot you can do to prevent these mistakes or even to try and rectify them after the fact so you can get back on track financially. 

If all else fails, and your credit is still in the tank, it might be a good idea to hire a credit repair company to guide you through the process of credit rejuvenation. These companies make it easy to fix your credit and are with you through the whole process. So don’t wait until it’s too late to repair your credit, act today!

What is a Good Credit Score

Credit scores are vitally important when it comes to purchasing homes, cars, and acquiring school loans. It is the three-digit number that determines how much of a loan we will be allowed and at what interest rate.

Stated by a Dallas credit repair expert, the better your credit score, the better your interest rate. The lower your score, the less beneficial rates you’ll be able to acquire. So what is a good score, and how do you get into range?

Credit Scoring System

The credit scoring system is completed by three major credit reporting companies: Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax.

They all use the same FICO scoring system, which awards you a point range based on several factors, including your credit history, credit utilization, length of credit history, new cards, and your total mix of credit. Points will vary slightly between the three companies, but your score shouldn’t differ more than ten or twenty points, at most.

The credit scoring system is used by lending agencies similar to a background check. Depending on your score, they can tell just by the numbers how good of a borrower you are.

Your credit score tells a lender two very important things:

–          Do you pay your bills on time?

–          Do you borrow responsibly?

Your score is heavily determined by your credit history (how well you pay down your debt), and credit utilization (how much you owe). A low score instantly communicates to lenders that they may be taking on some risk if they offer you a loan.

Your Credit Scores

Credit scores range from very poor to exceptional, with a point value assigned for each. The more responsibly you use your credit, the better your score will be over time. Each credit reporting company has a slightly different scale, but in general, you can expect the following point ranges:

300-579: Very Poor

580-669: Fair

670-739: Good

740-799: Very Good

800-850: Exceptional

The higher your credit score, the better the terms you will be offered on loan interest rates, repayment requirements, and down payment requirements. Those who fall into the “very poor” and “fair” ranges should expect significantly high interest and stringent requirements when loans are offered.

If:

You fall into a very poor rating, your loan or credit application may be denied outright.

Should your score remain in the “good” range, you can expect to be granted loans and credit, but likely with a less favorable interest rate than desired.

When you reach the “very good” and “exceptional” scoring ranges, you’ll receive the best interest rates available and receive loans of value. At the highest range, you’ll receive the best rates and offerings for loans possible, including low interest, minimum down payments, and longer payback times.

Use Credit Wisely

Your entire credit history factors into the credit score you receive from the credit reporting institutions. The more consistently you pay credit bills and loan payments, and the more responsibly you borrow, the better your credit score will be.

It takes time to build, but with steady, wise use over a long period, you should reach the “good,” “very good,” and excellent ranges with little issue. Does your score put you in good standing?

How to Move to Another Country: The Only Guide You Need

Do you dream of moving to another country?

While moving to another country may seem like an impossible feat, many Americans live abroad. In fact, according to the State Department, about 8.7 million Americans?currently live abroad.

So, how do you make it happen for yourself?

Check out this guide to learn how to move to another country.

1. Research the Country You Want to Move To

Every country has its own unique emigration laws, so it’s very important that you look up the laws in the country you’re considering moving to.

For example, you can move to China or South Korea pretty easily by taking on a job teaching English. Depending on your ancestry, you may easily be able to move to Ireland.

Some other countries, on the other hand, are notoriously hard to move to, such as India or Cuba.

2. Consider Buying Property

Did you know that you can actually buy your way to a new passport?

If you have the money to spare, buying property abroad is a great way to get your foot in the door in another country.

However, keep in mind that with most countries, you can’t just buy any piece of property. Usually, there’s a minimum price point you need to hit in order to be able to gain residency. Here are some countries where buying property gets you a ticket to residence or citizenship:

  • Fiji
  • Colombia
  • Brazil
  • Dominica
  • Panama
  • Latvia
  • Saint Lucia
  • Greece
  • Hungary
  • Grenada
  • Belgium
  • The Bahamas

Whether you’re searching for oceanside properties for sale or an apartment in the city, there’s sure to be a country out there that has what you’re looking for.

3. Look Into Job Opportunities

While finding a job overseas is possible, searching for international employment can be difficult due to the change in customs, distance, language barrier, and more.

Thankfully, there are international recruiters, international job boards, and countries that specifically seek out overseas employees. As we mentioned early, moving to Asia is fairly easy if you take on a job teaching English. To qualify as an English teacher, you often just need a college degree.

You could also look into doing a work exchange abroad or volunteering abroad through a service like the Peace Corps.

4. Organize Practical Matters

It can be easy to get carried away dreaming about your new life abroad. However, you must not forget about the practical matters that come with moving abroad. Here are some things you need to take care of before your move:

  • Figure out which items you’re going to get rid of and which ones you’re going to ship overseas
  • Look into changes you need to make regarding your insurance, taxes, and wills
  • If you have a pet, figure out the regulations in terms of vaccinations and quarantining
  • Figure out which bank you’re going to do business with abroad

Additionally, you’ll want to take time to learn about the culture and customs of the new country.

How to Move to Another Country: Wrap Up

Now that you know how to move to another country, it’s time to get started on your journey. Before you know it, you’ll be exploring a whole new culture.

If you liked this article, be sure to check back with our blog for more tips about moving abroad or other financial matters.

 

What is a Payday Loan and How does it Work?

The global economy is going through a phase of contraction right now. And for the masses, this is not good news. For most people, it implies that the cost of their day to day expenditure is going to rise while their disposable incomes are not. It is tough to manage day to day expenses regardless of how much your net income is and people are spending a large portion of it on food and utilities which previously was not the case. And this imbalance of relatively low income and high expenditure is getting worse with each passing day.

Sometimes when you are under the pressure and when things are not working out and you land yourself in a critical situation where a financial emergency strikes while you face a cash crunch and with no options to go, what would you do? Your expenses are ever-increasing and a fall in the cash leaves you stranded, and unable to sustain the interest payments of your credit cards and other debt, how are you going to manage?

These are the questions that you need to answer and fortunately for you, we have one that is Payday loans. They are your answer to the situation when you are short on cash and out of all options.

What is a Payday Loan?

A payday loan is your cash advances, usually offered for a short-term basis. These short-term loans are given out for a period of one or two. They provide you with the option of low balance borrowing when most of your options are exhausted. They can be extremely helpful especially when you get through a rough period. Their simple structure makes the terms of agreement quite easy to understand, and they are to be repaid till your next payday.

Moreover, with all its benefits comes there are some downsides attached to it as well. Although these loans work at times, however with the exorbitant interest rates make them an unattractive option to the most customer. And their hidden charges and added fees don’t do them any favors either. These predatory features are usually the ones that the customers are not made aware of at the time of the borrowing and they come as an unpleasant surprise when once you have borrowed the money.

So how do they work?

These loans offer you a quick cash relief usually up to five to six hundred dollars and they are to be repaid once you get your next pay. To opt for a payday loan, you have to first fill in a form, mentioning the amount you are borrowing and submit it with a post-dated check along with the fee surcharge that the lender might charge you. Once, your application is approved you are good to go. After the borrowing, you would have to check in with the lender sometimes again later, to repay him again.

If you are unable to do so then you have the chance to roll the loan over until the next due date. However, its drawback is that even though you might get the loan extended however the fee keeps on getting aggregating and this can turn out to be a honey trap for most customers.

Overall, these loans are generally expensive, and their annual percentage rate happens to be a lot higher than these conventional loans which you borrow from a bank. This can be understandable since it does have higher default risk. Even though their exposure might be less since the borrowed amount is low, most of their loans have a poor credit rating. These loans are usually offered without checking credit history or background, and such is the case that individuals opt for this even if they had a really poor credit score.

Cost of the Payday

The biggest issue with these loans is their exorbitant cost. Even though they might provide you with short-term relief, however, they cannot solve your long-term financial woes. And given that they charge high surcharge fees, your financial problems are set to aggravate even further. And if you are in a situation where there is a need to consistently rely on payday loans then this is not good news. You need to reconsider your strategy and look out for another option. These loans are not meant for your long-term cash woes.

If you keep continuing with it, they might even land you in trouble. Alternatively, you could talk to your supplier and ask for an extension or maybe even approach a bank and see if somehow you could get a traditional loan.

Role of Banks:

Higher revenue and in turn profits have attracted the banks to move into the industry as well. For a conventional loan, your credit history, your bank account, and your financial assets and your income details are what you need to submit to apply for it, however, these requirements are not so important when you apply for a payday loan from a bank. The only mandatory requirement is that you have a bank account that you are applying to. Moreover, these payday loans are not any better from the ones that other institutions and stores, who provide them. These loans have predatory features installed in them and they too are quite risky and unsustainable for the long term.

Furthermore, in certain situations, they might even be considered worse than the usual payday loans. To qualify for a payday loan from a bank, you have to sign a waiver which allows the bank to pull off funds from your bank account at the time when the payment is due. This leaves you stranded as you don’t have the control of your account or the money that flows in there anymore. Whereas, when you go for a payday loan from an external source, other than the bank, at least you have the option to choose when the money goes out and when it doesn’t.

What are your options then?

If you are consistently heading in this direction, you need to rethink it. There are several things that you can do which include cutting down your expenses, delaying the payment of your utility bills or if nothing else that maybe do a short borrowing from friends or family. There are several alternatives to it and anything is better considering that you are not opting for a lifetime battle of never-ending loan repayment cycle.

Conclusion

Payday loans might be a fast and easy way to get you cash but these loans shouldn’t be your long-term strategy. They might work for you once or twice for a short while, but they won’t in the long run. Before opting for such loans, you need to rethink and revisit all the options. They might look attractive from the top but on the inside, they aren’t so great.

Car Title Loan Requirements: What It Takes to Borrow via Title Loan

What do you need to get set up with a title loan? Learn the car title loan requirements in this guide to the essentials you need to have before borrowing.

Could you cover a sudden emergency expense of $1,000? 60% of Americans would go into debt if faced with such an expense. If you face an emergency expense, you have options, one of them is a car title loan.

Knowing what the car title loan requirements are before you apply can make the application process easier. It can also improve your chances of getting approved and speed up the application process.

Use this guide to prepare your car title loan application.

Live in the Right State

Before you attempt to get a car title loan, you need to confirm you live in a state that permits them. Some states allow them but put a cap on the interest rate.

Some states have loopholes that allow car title loans. Then other states totally prohibit or heavily restrict car title loans.

Required Documents

To be successful in getting cash through a title loan, you need to gather all of the necessary documents. They will prove your ownership of the car and your identity.

  • Original title showing sole ownership
  • Government-issued ID
  • Proof of residency
  • Vehicle registration
  • Proof of insurance
  • Proof of income
  • Valid references
  • A working copy of the vehicle key

Most lenders will have you fill out an application and provide the necessary documents. They will also want to verify the condition of the vehicle before approval.

Sole Ownership

You need to own your vehicle outright and be the sole owner listed on the title. There can’t be any liens. Upon approval, the lender will place a lien on the car’s title.

Proof of Identity

You need to be able to prove who you are and where you live. Make sure your name on your ID matches your application. Then provide a utility bill with a matching name and address.

Proof of Insurance

The lender will want to know that the return on their loan is safe. This means having the collateral (the car) insured. If there’s an accident and the vehicle is lost, the lender will collect on the insurance payout.

GPS Tracker

Some lenders require a GPS tracker placed in the car. This enables the lender to track down or even remotely shut down the car should the borrower default on the loan.

What You Don’t Need

Because the value of your car secures the loan, the lender isn’t concerned about your credit score. While they want you to repay the loan, if you fail to, the lender can take possession of the car to collect the outstanding balance of the loan.

Satisfy the Car Title Loan Requirements

If you’re facing a sudden emergency expense and you don’t have savings to cover it, then a car title loan may be a solution. Use this guide to gather the required documents and get your application ready.

By meeting all of the car title loan requirements, you give yourself the best odds for approval.

Browse our blog for ideas on how to generate more income and strategies for saving.

 

Should I Become an Airbnb Host? (And Other Important Questions!)

So, you have a home that you’re thinking about listing on Airbnb.

Maybe you travel a lot and aren’t home often, so you want to make some extra cash by renting out your space. Or perhaps it’s a vacation home that you rarely use, and thus, is always available for others to enjoy.

Regardless of your situation, you know you want to become an Airbnb host. The only problem? You’re not exactly sure how to get the process started.

If this sounds like you, wonder no longer, because we’re here to help! In this article, we’ll tell you how to become an Airbnb host, as well as a few things you need to keep in mind throughout the process.

Now then, let’s get started!

Why Sign Up for Airbnb?

If you’re not super familiar with Airbnb and how the process works, you may have some questions about why people would sign up for Airbnb in the first place. The idea of letting strangers stay in your house is kind of insane, right?

Well, if you do things the right way, becoming an Airbnb host is not only safe, but it can also change your life for the better, too.

Of course, you can make some extra cash by renting out your house. And if it’s a vacation home that you don’t use often, you can even make enough to pay that extra mortgage, plus other expenses, which can be quite helpful.

If you’re not in your home a lot, you may be worried about someone noticing that it’s vacant and breaking in to steal your things. Having folks constantly coming in and out can help reduce that worry, which can give you some peace of mind while you’re away.

How to Sign up with Airbnb

Of course, before you can start making money with Airbnb, you first need to sign up and get your house listed. Doing so is as simple as going to Airbnb’s website and clicking the “Become a Host” section located at the top of the page.

It’s worth noting that Airbnb doesn’t just let anyone host. You’re going to have to provide a lot of information about your home and answer quite a few questions, which is understandable.

How to Have a Good Profile

Once you’ve been approved, and your home is listed on Airbnb’s website, you’re going to want to make sure you have a good profile setup. Having a profile that people want to click on and explore can help you keep your house rented, which is what you want.

Having good photographs is without a doubt the best thing that you can do for your profile. Things like lighting and decluttering your home are key to making your photos look appealing, so take some time to make sure your home is photo-ready first.

Also, be sure to be fair and honest with your price. Take a look at other houses in your area and be honest about whether or not your home is better or worse than some of those options. Listing your home too high will price you out of a lot of people’s budgets, and pricing too low can attract the wrong kind of attention, both things you don’t want.

Understanding the Risks

It goes without saying, but letting strangers live in your home for a brief period of time does indeed come with some risks. With that being said, Airbnb will help protect you and hold your guests accountable for anything that may go wrong.

Protecting Yourself and Your Home

While there are some risks that come with listing your home on Airbnb, there are some things that you can do to protect yourself and your home. Again, Airbnb does a wonderful job of holding guests accountable. But you should still keep some of these ideas in mind if you plan on becoming a host soon.

First, be sure to have all valuables locked away in a private area of the home. In fact, it’s wise to limit the number of valuables that you do have in your home, as it’s the best way to protect them.

If you can, you or someone you trust needs to walk through the house after ever stay. That way you can confirm everything is in working order, and if it’s not, you’ll know which guest caused the issue.

Speaking of guests, don’t be afraid to be picky about who you rent to. You can turn down any request, so track them often and shut down any guests that have a poor profile or question marks.

Also, you can limit the number of guests that are allowed per stay, or prohibit pets, to better protect your home. In fact, it’s wise to familiarize yourself with a few basic tips for Airbnb owners before letting your first guest through your doors.

How to Become an Airbnb Host: A Guide

Well, there you have it! That is a basic guide on how to become an Airbnb host, including a few basic ideas that you need to keep in mind throughout the process.

Remember, signing up with Airbnb is simple and easy. All you have to do is go to their website, answer some questions and provide some basic information about your home.

When making your profile, be sure to take good photos and provide accurate information about your home. That, combined with a good price point, can help you keep your house booked year-round.

Once you start having guests, be sure to protect your home and your valuables. Keep everything important out of the house or locked up, and check in after each guest to make sure nothing was damaged during their stay.

Looking for more ways to make a few extra bucks? Check out our blog!

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