Financial Literacy is the Key to Protecting Your Finances

Let’s play a quick game of true or false:

Imagine you have $100 in a savings account that earns 2 percent interest a year. After five years, you would have $102. True or false? (It’s false).

Let’s say you have another savings account with an interest rate that earns 1 percent a year while the rate of inflation is 2 percent a year. After a year, the money in your savings account would buy the same amount as it does today. True or false? (It’s false, again).

Are you starting to sweat? You wouldn’t be the only one. Most people struggle with these financial basics according to a slew of studies.

  • Nearly two-thirds of respondents (61 percent) failed to answer more than three out of five questions correctly according to the latest FINRA survey on financial literacy.
  • Americans didn’t perform much better in Standard and Poor’s international study, the results of which show just 57 percent of the country is financially literate.
  • Meanwhile, fewer than half of respondents in a Raddon study passed a financial quiz.

While these surveys produced slightly different results, they all have one thing in common: they show the average American struggles to understand what economists have deemed the “fundamentals” of finances — things like basic numeracy, compounding interest, risk diversification, and inflation.

These concepts help people manage their money

Whether the decision is to take out an installment loan for the first time or how to invest for your retirement, your choice has the potential to impact your finances for a long time. Choose the right option, and you’ll meet your financial goals. Choose the wrong one, and you may struggle to pay back a cash advance or retire on time.

Financial literacy will improve your chances of making the right decisions.

Getting an online installment loan and investing for your future rely on basics like interest rates and inflation. When you understand how these concepts can affect your cash loan or savings, you’ll be in a better position to find the right loan or retirement investment for your needs.

More importantly, you’ll be less likely to lock into a cash advance, stock option, or any other financial contract with rates, terms, and conditions you don’t understand — saving you from charges and other penalties you overlooked.

Education is your number one defence against financial illiteracy

It’s true — people with strong financial skills are better at money management, choosing loans and credit cards, and investing their money. But these people aren’t born with these skills — they learned them by studying the basics. That means anyone can become financially literate, too.

With April being National Financial Literacy Month, now’s the best time to start learning. Don’t worry — you don’t have to hit the books too hard. Brushing up on the basics can be easy when you check in with these resources:

  • gov: This is the official portal for the federal government’s financial literacy and education programs. It’s a convenient and easy place for all ages to explore the basics of budgeting, saving, borrowing, and investing.
  • Call 1-800-FED-INFO: If you don’t have access to the Internet, you can receive the same helpful information from financial representatives operating the government’s phone line. They can direct you towards services and benefits related to financial literacy.
  • Money Smart: Learn money management skills through the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation’s (FDIC) financial education program. It has a free podcast that goes over banking basics, budgeting, and borrowing.
  • Money as you grow: The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is a fantastic resource for parents of children of all ages, giving them the tools they need to help encourage financial literacy and smart money management in their kids.

Take some time one evening or weekend to go through these resources to find the best one for your needs. They can help guide you through simple budgeting, saving, and borrowing.

Once you brush up on the basics, you’ll be in a better position not only to manage your money in the day-to-day but also for less common situations. You’ll know what to do if you need money quickly to cover an unexpected repair, and you’ll know how to diversify your investments to reduce your risk in the future.

With greater financial literacy, simple questions like the ones up above won’t produce a thin sheen of flop sweat at your brow. Unlike most of the country, you’ll be able to answer simple questions with confidence.

Take Credit! 5 Handy Tips for Using a Credit Card Wisely

Remember the day you got your first credit card? Nothing can trump the freedom it gives you. The ability to spend on whatever you want, whenever you want can be liberating. Using credit cards in the right way can see you racking up air miles to jet off on amazing adventures and boosting your credit score.

Using a credit card the wrong way, however, can lead to overspending and costly interest fees. The average American is $38,000 in debt and millennials are the most in debt of all the generations. Here’s how to use a credit card wisely.

1. Only Spend What’s In Your Bank Account

This may sound obvious but only spending what you have rather than banking on having the money at a future date is a really important rule to follow.

By doing this you ensure that you always have the money in your bank account to pay off your credit card on time and avoid interest fees.

Remember debt is not a death sentence but it’s best avoided if you can.

2. Get the App

Most credit cards now come with an app that allows you to pay off any debts you have as soon as they have gone through. You don’t have to pay off the full balance as many apps allow you to choose exactly the amount you’re going to pay off.

This means if you decide to use your credit card in a store for a large purchase – something that can boost your credit score and provide you with extra security that a debit card can’t – you can pay it off straight away.

You can instruct the credit card app to remember your debit card details so they are always on file and ready for you to pay off your credit card at any given moment.

3. Decide What To Use Your Credit Card For

Setting yourself clear boundaries about what to use your credit card for is important. If your primary goal is to boost your credit score then it makes sense to use your card for making all your purchases.

Using your credit card for smaller purchases – like McDonald’s or for public transport – might be problematic for some users. These smaller charges could soon add up and if you forget to pay them off straight away you could find yourself hit with a big bill at the end of the month.

Most debt occurs because of inaccurate thinking about money not simply because of greed or poor decisions.

If you think you need more education about how and what to use your card for learn at this site.

4. Pay Off Your Card In Full

The temptation is always to only pay the minimum amount but doing this only keeps your head about water and can soon land you with hundreds of pounds of interest payments on top of the rest of your debt.

Instead, make sure you pay off your card in full every month and you will reap the benefits.

5. Don’t Use Your Card For Cash

Credit cards are designed for in-store transactions. This is one way the credit card companies make their money, by charging the stores a commission to use their machines.

So it makes sense then that using a credit card to withdraw cash will incur a hefty premium. Use your bank’s debit card to take out money and only use credit cards to get cash in a real emergency.

Using a Credit Card Wisely Doesn’t Have To Be Tough

Using a credit card wisely is an important skill to have. But just like learning to ride a bike or learning a language it takes a lot of practice to know how to use a credit card properly.

Make sure you read the rest of our debt articles for advice on how to make credit cards and debt work for you.

7 Fiscal Reasons to Get Small Loans to Build Credit

The average American has more than $6,929 in credit card debt alone. That’s not including mortgage debt, auto loans, and student loans!

Unfortunately, credit card debt can take a major toll on your credit score, and the longer you carry a balance, the worse your score gets.

But there is hope. You can always use small loans to build credit and improve your rating.

By now, you’re probably wondering if taking out more debt to get rid of existing debt is a good idea. It seems counterintuitive, right?

The truth is, it can help you get your credit back on track. Here are a few reasons that using personal loans to build credit is a smart idea.

1. Helps Pay Off Higher Interest Rate Debt

The average credit card interest rate is 17.64 percent. You pay that interest rate on every penny you carry on your credit cards.

If you max out your cards, that can mean hundreds of dollars in interest payments each month.

Most personal loans offer much lower interest rates. Using them to pay off your credit card debt means lower interest payments for the life of the loan.

This means you’ll end up paying less to get rid of the same amount of debt.

2. Lowers Your Total Credit Utilization

Maxed out cards mean you’re using 100 percent of your available credit. This takes a huge toll on your credit score.

The higher your credit utilization is, the more it hurts your score. When you pay down the balance or use a small personal loan to pay off your cards entirely, you’ll have more credit available. The more available credit you have, the better your score will be.

But remember, because you have the credit available doesn’t mean you should use it. Instead, only use your cards to cover expenses that you know you can pay off in full at the end of the month.

3. Improves Payment History

Believe it or not, your credit score is also determined by your payment history. Missing payments because you forgot about them or didn’t have the money will cause your score to drop.

When you take out a small loan to build credit, you can set up automatic payments for the loan. The money gets taken out of your bank account every month on the same date.

You’ll never have to worry about missing a payment again. Once your payment history shows consistency, your credit score will improve.

4. You’re in Control of How Much You Borrow

Personal loans can be as little as a few hundred dollars or as much as several thousand. The amount you borrow is up to you.

You’re free to borrow enough to pay down your entire credit card balance if needed. What happens if you don’t have a credit card in the first place?

Having no credit score can be as bad as having a low credit score. A small loan helps you get started.

When you make payments every month and eventually pay off the loan entirely, you’re building your credit. You’re doing it without the hassle of having a credit card.

5. You Can Use the Money for Almost Anything

There are no restrictions on how you can use the money from your personal loan. You’re free to borrow funds to pay down debt, cover unexpected car repairs, and even pay for home improvements.

Since these loans offer lower interest rates than most credit cards, you’ll end up paying less for what you borrow.

Think of it this way: you could pay for the same things with a credit card. Doing so would increase your credit utilization and could mean hundreds of dollars going towards interest payments.

By using a personal loan, you’re helping keep your credit card balances as low as possible. This helps keep your credit score high.

6. Helps You Consolidate Debt

Personal loans are a great way to consolidate debt. Every loan and credit card you have likely has a different interest rate. This makes calculating payments tough and increases your risk of missing a payment altogether.

Consolidating your debt with a credit building loan means you’ll only have one payment to worry about each month. The more consistent you are with your payments, the better your credit will be.

And as an added bonus, you’ll pay less in interest each month. This means you can pay down the loan faster by paying more than the minimum amount each month.

7. Lets You Pay Your Bills During Rough Patches

Unfortunately, missing payments for utilities, rent, and other monthly expenses can hurt your credit. If money’s tight and your credit cards are already maxed out, what option do you have?

A small personal loan from dedicated direct lenders helps you get through those lean times. You can use the money to cover those bills and avoid collections, keeping your credit score as high as possible.

Should You Use Small Loans to Build Credit?

Every person’s situation is unique, but some people can benefit from using small loans to build credit.

Take a look at your financial situation and see what’s holding you back. Is it a high amount of credit card debt? Are you overwhelmed with multiple loans and struggling to juggle the payments?

If so, it’s something you might want to consider. There’s always more you can do to keep your finances in order in the long-run.

Check out our latest posts for helpful tips and tricks to keep your credit in check and your bank account full.

5 Reasons to Take Out a Life Insurance Policy

Life insurance is one of those things that everyone knows they need, but most put off getting, thinking they are young and healthy and don’t need to worry about it just yet.  For many families, this is a huge mistake, especially if you will be unable to sustain your current lifestyle with one less wage coming in.  In this article, we explain five reasons why life insurance is important.

1. Financial Security

Life insurance acts as a form of financial security for your loved ones should you pass away.  While you may be young and healthy at the moment, accidents do happen and in the worst-case scenario, isn’t it better that your family is taken care of financially?  This is especially important if your family relies on your income to survive.  Most life insurance policies pay out upon death, ensuring that your family is still able to pay the rent/mortgage and bills while they grieve.

2. To Cover Funeral Expenses

Even basic funeral services can cost several thousand dollars and most families don’t have this amount of money set aside.  While it is possible to pay in advance for your funeral, if you’re still young, this is probably something you don’t want to consider just yet.  Plus, there are risks involved with pre-paying for a funeral.  Life insurance gives you more of a guarantee that there will be funds available should the worst happen.  This will lift a burden off your family when they need it most.

3. Pay Off Debt

Not all debts are erased when you die, and this is especially true of any debts you may share with someone else, such as your mortgage.  Rather than letting your spouse take full responsibility for debts that they are unable to afford, take out a life insurance policy.  You can set up your policy to cover all of your outstanding debts, so that they are cleared in full upon your death.  The last thing your family needs while grieving is to be dealing with creditors and collection agencies.

4. Business Planning

If you run a business, life insurance is a necessity and not something that is optional.  This is especially true if you run a partnership, as both partners need a policy to ensure the other isn’t left holding all of the financial responsibilities of the company should a death occur.  Life insurance will help ensure that the business continues after your death and that none of your hard work goes to waste due to financial troubles.

5. To Cover Estate Taxes

Finally, if you plan to pass your estate to loved ones after your death, in some countries, they will have to pay a certain amount of tax on the assets they receive.  In some cases, this may mean they end up having to sell your assets in order to pay the fees.  A life insurance policy can help ensure this doesn’t happen by paying out a set amount that will cover any taxes that are due.

If you’ve been wondering whether life insurance is important, hopefully, this article has shown you that it is.

Take a Load Off Your Move

Moving can be stressful even if you are organized and have all the time in the world to do it. In most cases, you simply do not have the time to get everything ready, organized, and color-coded and you typically need to be out by a certain time which never seems to be enough time. Moving a great distance adds to the stress as it is taxing on everyone involved and it also takes longer to complete your move. Hiring a moving company such as Allied Van Lines to handle the heavy moving can be a huge burden lifted and also frees you up so you can spend your time doing other important tasks such as getting your mail switched over and hooking up utilities.

Save Money By Hiring Help

There are many benefits to hiring a moving company. By hiring someone else to move for you, you can actually save money because you don’t have to spend more money on gas to make multiple trips if you are moving your belongings in your personal vehicle. You also don’t have to spend money on extras such as packing supplies because they are normally included with your moving package. You also don’t have to hire a moving van and movers to move large items. You don’t have to take as much time off of work to mover everything on your own, and you don’t have to pay for a sitter if you have small children. You also avoid getting hurt by pulling something or getting hurt in another way so you won’t have downtime where you can’t work.

Cover Your Assets

You also most likely will have some sort of insurance in case something gets broken. A moving company has trained and experienced movers on their team so they will know how to pack items to make the most use of the space in the truck as well as in a way that your belongings will not get broken or crushed.

Hiring a moving company to get you moved across the country is the smartest way to move. Another great plus to hiring a moving company is that you don’t have to navigate a new are or even worse, with a large moving truck.

Get Organized

Another way to make your move much less stressful is to take a few minutes to get organized. It doesn’t have to take a lot of time, but you should at least make a master copy of your belongings so that you can find your belongings more easily once you get moved. Label each box to its corresponding room such as “kitchen,” or “bedroom.” This will also help your movers know where to put the boxes and helps to speed things up. You should also pack items that you will need as soon as you get to your new home in your personal vehicle. In order to save time when unpacking, you should try to keep things together that are the same. For instance, you should keep all of your books together and other similar items together. Moving is time-consuming as it is so wherever you can make it go a little easier you should take advantage of it.

Get Rid of Unwanted Clutter

Moving is also a great time to get rid of items that you simply no longer need or want. Even if you don’t have a lot of time to sort through things you can still get rid of many obvious things that you no longer need such as clothes that don’t fit or toys that your children no longer use. Doing this will give you more room for the things that you really want to keep. Plus, you will have less to unpack once you get moved to your new place.

Moving does not have to be a big headache. If you take a moment to collect yourself and to throw some labels on the boxes, it will go much smoother and you will not have to stress out as much. Moving takes some planning and thinking ahead, but it doesn’t have to be frustrating or exhausting. Be sure also to keep a planner handy so that you can jot down all the things you need to do.

4 Tips to Avoiding Foreclosure

Foreclosure is one of the most painful things that any homeowner can go through. Not only does it lead to mental and emotional trauma, but it can also lead to even more financial pain. That’s because, in the unfortunate event that your home doesn’t cover what you owe, the lender has the option to legally pursue you for the balance. As such, it is important to find ways of avoiding foreclosure by all means. To help homeowners avoid this painful process, here are 4 tips to avoiding foreclosure.

  1.    Contact the lender and renegotiate your mortgage terms

As a borrower, you need to understand that the lender has no interest in your home. In fact, foreclosure is an extra cost for them, since they have to sell it, in order to recover their money. As such, lenders try and avoid this scenario as much as possible, and always present struggling homeowners with options. Therefore, if you want to avoid foreclosure, get in touch with the lender as soon as you start facing financial difficulties. The lender should be in a position to give you more flexible terms that can help you keep your home, in spite of your financial challenges.

  1.   Know your legal standing in a foreclosure case

Sometimes people lose their homes simply because they don’t understand the fine print of their mortgage contracts, or the foreclosure laws of their state. To avoid getting foreclosed on due to a poor understanding of your rights, get the services of a good lawyer. A lawyer can help avoid foreclosure by enlightening you about your rights, and how to exercise them. For instance, in Pennsylvania, homeowners have the option to seek State assistance through HEMAP. A lawyer can help you determine whether you qualify for this program, and also help you apply for it.

  1.   Repurpose your budget and focus on the mortgage

Sometimes, inability to keep up with mortgage payments is due poor budgeting. Relook at your budget and get rid of unnecessary expenses. For instance, you can get rid of cable T.V, and eat out less. There are many other unnecessary luxuries you can reduce on, and get back on track with your mortgage. It may be painful to miss out on some of these conveniences in the short-term, but it is worth it in the long haul. You will keep your home, which is an appreciating asset that you can sell for a good profit in the future.

  1.    Try and earn more

To avoid the pain of foreclosure, try your best to earn more. One of the best ways to do this is to find a second job. You may also start a business on the side to help boost your income. Most importantly, you may enroll in online classes and learn some new skills. These skills can help you earn more from your current line of work.  These are some of the ways that you can earn more, and improve your chances of keeping your home. It’s tiring, but it is definitely worth it.

Travel and Save: 4 Ways How to Save Money on Vacation and Have the Time of Your Life

The powers of traveling are well-documented: Broadens your horizons, enhances your peace of mind, boosts your confidence, and, of course, helps you have fun.

However, not many people are reaping these benefits. In fact, 76 percent of Americans wish they’d travel more frequently than they currently do, but a lack of finances stands in their way.

If you’re among these people, we’ve some good news.

You don’t need boatloads of money to hit the road or take to the skies as often as you want. With savvy planning and a good grasp of how to save money on vacation, you’re in for great fun.

Read to learn more!

1. Choose Your Destinations Wisely

We get it: everyone wants to vacation in exotic destinations in the far-flung islands. Unfortunately, such vacations don’t come on the cheap.

But vacation fun isn’t exclusive to exotic destinations. There are several low-cost destinations that offer a similar or even better vacationing experience. Sometimes you don’t even to travel beyond your state or country to have a great time.

As such, the first step to saving money for travel is to choose your destination with your finances in mind. When your bank account isn’t well endowed, it’s advisable to skip those expensive tourist destinations.

2. Know the Most Economical Time to Visit

It’s not enough to identify destinations that are within your financial range. You should also research and establish the most economical times to visit.

Most tourist destination spots have peak seasons and off-seasons. Peak season is when everyone is visiting and off-season means the place isn’t receiving a lot of visitors.

During an off-season is the best time to visit when you’ve one eye on saving money. Airfares are usually dirt cheap, as is the cost of local accommodation, tour packages, and whatnot.

Sure, you may have to bear with bad weather, but it shouldn’t stop you from sightseeing and making the most of what the location has to offer.

3. Don’t Stop Hunting for Vacation Deals

A common mistake travelers make is downing their deal hunting tools once they get to their vacation destinations. Big mistake.

Vacation deals aren’t only offered before you travel. They are always available throughout the year, you just need to know where to look.

Once you’re on vacation, use your free time to scour the local travel sites and find whether they’re offering any tour deals and package specials. You could land a good sightseeing coupon or a cheap pass to the local theaters.

The discounts might seem insignificant, but once they start adding up you’ll have real change in your pockets.

4. Prioritize Making Cash Payments

Paying for goods and services in cash while on vacation (especially in a foreign country) isn’t a welcome idea for most tourists. From the hassle involved in converting your money to the local currency and the mental math you’ve to do before making a payment, cash can be a pain in the ass.

Thank heavens for credit and debit cards.

However, cards can be a booby trap. Swipe here, swipe there and you risk losing track of your expenditure and burning through your money in record time.

On the hand, cash keeps you focused. You feel the loss as it leaves your pockets, so you’re unlikely to stray from your budget.

Learn How to Save Money on Vacation and Have a Blast

Vacations are a good way to take a break from work or school and unwind while creating lasting memories. But a lack of money or the prospect of racking up huge bills can put a real damper on your experience.

Well, that shouldn’t be a problem. We’ve taught you how to save money on vacation, so your job now is to put our advice into practice.

Bon voyage, and don’t forget to explore our site for more travel and lifestyle tips.

3 Tips to Choosing a Builder to Build your New Home

Building New Homes in Delaware could be a challenging feat if you don’t know where to start. Now that you’ve pinned the perfect location to build your home, the next thing you want is to actually turn that dream into a reality. Choosing a builder to entrust with constructing your home is not an easy job. There are several things you want to consider in order to make the most out of your options and your money. Surely the local home building industry in Delaware is very lush. You will be greeted with so many credible options and it’s up to you to select which contractor is a good fit for you and your new home. If you’re unsure how to look for the best one, here are 3 tips you should know:

  1. Check for quality of work

Building a home is a big project. It’s a special place where you and your family will enjoy for the years to come. As such, you want to make sure to get a builder with a track record of delivering high quality home projects. Quality of work should be your first priority when looking for a builder.

Look at their work history and take a tour of their past projects. Check for references and feedback. If they have a social media page, you can scoop out relevant feedback information there. Check if any of their past works strikes you positively, as it’s also important to see if your build ideas are in agreement with each other.

 

An important aspect in a home’s longevity is the strength of its foundation. That said, you should also ask for the type of products and materials your builder uses. You want to make sure your home will be built from the strongest materials you can afford. High quality materials should be the base of everything in your home, from the foundation, to the beams, and even the counter tops.

  1. Find someone you can connect with

Easy communication is a vital part of your relationship with your builder. Being able to communicate freely to your contractor makes it easier for your explain the things you want for your home. You should be able to understand each other at a level that’s almost casual, so that you can be candid and honest about any feedback you want to say. Meeting someone whose communication style is in sync with yours is a big plus in furthering the deal.

No matter how much you like your contractor’s portfolio, if you can’t agree on something verbally, you’ll be having a hard time communicating with them in the future.

  1. Be transparent

Transparency is key in any fruitful relationship. Especially with choosing a builder, being honest and transparent in every detail of the building project ensures quality all throughout. The best builders out there are very honest and would happily answer any of your concerns about the project. They will give you a workable timeline, and a budget breakdown that’s detailed to the last cent. They will disclose every material they use, the manufacturer they got it from, including any warranty coverage. If you find someone who has trouble explaining the trivial details of a building project, steer clear of them.