Is A Personal Loan The Answer To My Urgent Money Need?

Is A Personal Loan The Answer To My Urgent Money Need?

Q: I need to get money together in a hurry. What can I do? Help!

A: There are times in your life when you need cash fast. It may be hospital bills, car trouble or crushing debt. A personal loan is for times like these. Personal loans range from $1,000 to more than $50,000, and are not secured with collateral. That means there’s no property that backs the value of the loan. Personal loans may seem attractive, but they do come with some downsides. Is a personal loan right for you? And if so, how do you go about getting one?

Let’s take a look at four critical questions to ask before getting a personal loan.

1) How’s my credit score?

Closely examine your credit score. You can check your credit score once a year at annualcreditreport.com. If your credit score is above average, finding a personal loan with a reasonable interest rate is easier. If your score is lower than you’d like, try a secured loan. Rates on secured loans are usually lower. You provide collateral as insurance if you can’t pay it back on time. In many cases, you can use your savings account as collateral, but be sure to pay on time!

A big downside of a personal loan is the higher interest rates. You can keep your interest rate down by limiting the amount you borrow, using a shorter repayment period or securing your loan with personal property. If none of these strategies can get the interest rate down to an affordable level, a personal loan may not be for you.

2) How do I apply?

The application process varies. Some take weeks, and some hours. Some have application fees, and some don’t. The interest rates and limitations on uses for the money vary as well.

You’ll always need a form of identification, usually a Social Security card or a state-issued ID. You’ll need to show proof of income, usually in the form of W-2 forms, bank statements or paycheck stubs. If you’re self-employed, income statements or another proof of payment can be used. If you’ve recently lost your job, be upfront. Otherwise, you may end up with more loan than you can afford. You’ll also need proof of address such as recent mail or the lease for the property.

3) What do I need to watch out for?

Scammers prey on desperation. Be careful. The classic phishing scam is when scammers pretend to be legitimate loan companies. You apply for that loan and give them all the information they need to steal your identity. Advance fee loan scammers trick you into paying a “loan fee” prior to receiving money, and then disappear.

4) Where do I go?

Always deal with a company you trust. Don’t fall for large final payments, early payment penalties or other unfavorable terms. Be wary of scammers.

YOUR TURN: Where do you go in times of trouble? If you’ve been through a financial emergency, how’d you keep it together? If you never have, what’s your secret? Let us know!

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Job Seekers And Social Media

Job Seekers And Social Media
Q: I’m a recent college grad looking for my first real job and I know companies are looking at my online image. How can I make my online presence an asset?

A: Employers are definitely using social media to screen and hire potential candidates. What the internet says about you matters. There’s no one way to build an online presence to land a job, as it differs among industries, experience level and type of company you’re targeting. However, there are some guidelines that can help every job-seeker.

Here are some dos and don’ts for perfecting your online presence:

1.) Don’t contradict your resume

It’s cathartic to blast a “terrible project” you finished, or your “stupid boss” on Facebook. But if that project’s an accomplishment listed on your resume or your boss is a reference, think before posting. Similarly, make sure nothing in your profile contradicts your resume.

2.) Do stay current in your field

Professional social media sites like LinkedIn and Google+ are a great place to build a positive online presence. Your LinkedIn audience is only interested in your professional standing; You can demonstrate that you’re staying current within an emerging subject.

Share articles from professional publications and associations. Participate in discussions about them with others in your field; It’s a great way to build connections with professionals.

3.) Don’t show off your wild side

Screen your pictures carefully for signs of hard partying. Check your privacy settings on personal social media sites like Facebook to control the image you present.

4.) Do let your network know you’re looking

Tell family and friends you’re looking for work; this can prompt them to share leads and contacts with you. 94% of companies surveyed plan to use social media to recruit new employees.

Of particular note should be friends employed at companies you’re watching; they may be privy to job openings and can explain the application process. This can help you custom-tailor an application to get the best chances at the position.

5.) Don’t sound desperate

Avoid getting desperate with the occupation fields on social media sites. Give yourself the title you want; if you see yourself in sales, call yourself a salesperson. If you posses a diverse set of skills, title yourself a “communication expert” or “data nerd.”

Don’t be afraid to refer to yourself as “self-employed,” as it’s important to account for your time unemployed.

6.) Do target companies on social media

“Liking” companies you’re interested in is a great way to stay up-to-date on information about them. This serves two benefits:

1.  It lets you know about job openings at the company. If they’re launching a new product line, they’ll likely be doing some hiring, making it a good time to write a letter to the decision-makers.

2.  It’ll help you out in the interview, with that company and in the entire field. You’ll know how this company sells itself and what makes it unique. This will help you craft convincing cover letters and answer tough interview questions.

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It’s All Fun And Games ‘Til Someone Loses A Credit Card: Safety In Online Games

It’s All Fun And Games ‘Til Someone Loses A Credit Card: Safety In Online Games

Before the cellphone era, gaming was a pretty secure business. You bought a disk or deck of cards, and played it many times until you grew bored of it. On the surface, today’s gaming seems like an improvement. It is incredibly convenient to have all your games on a single device in your pocket.. The downside is that everything else — your phone number, your email address, even your financial information — may all be on that device, too. It’s become easier for online scammers to take what they want. Be on the lookout for these three ways mobile games take your money, and protect yourself!

1.) In-app purchases

In-app purchases are deceptively simple. You “buy” a free game in the app store, thinking you got a bargain. You play the game for a few minutes, enjoying yourself as you destroy your friends at trivia or pop some bubbles. Then you hit a snag — you’ve maxed out the number of games you can play in one day, and you’ll have to wait 24 hours to play again. You’re frustrated and willing to do anything to keep playing. The game offers you a solution. You can pay a small fee of $0.99 to continue playing — and paying.

2.) Phishing scams

This app requires you to set up an account with the app manufacturer’s website, to ensure that your game is secure. It asks for your email account, and a username and password. You input your email account, a username, and then you use the password that you use for everything. Any other system you use that password for can now be compromised.

Another version of this scam is when an email supposedly from the game company tells you to login through a link in the email to receive a fabulous in-game prize. Of course, there is no prize, and the email was a tool for scammers to collect your login information.

The best way to prevent this is through research. Do a quick search of the app you’re considering, to ensure it’s a safe one.

3.) “Bonus credit” 

This one begins in the same way an in-app purchases scam does. You buy the app, you play the app for awhile, and then it says you’ve run out of credits. To get more credits, you have to watch an advertisement or take an IQ quiz. The advertisements are almost always legit, but the “IQ quiz” includes an agreement to pay $10 a month on a phone bill!

This scam is especially sneaky because crooks don’t need access to a credit card number or a login. All that’s necessary is for one user on a family plan, even a child, to click through a service agreement without reading it carefully.

Awareness and common sense are the keys. Avoid apps that ask you for purchases to play the game. Research apps before you give them any personal information. Have fun- but stay safe!

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How Can You Beat the Dealership?

How Can You Beat the Dealership?

I’m looking for a car, but I hate haggling over the price. What can I do to get the best deal?

  • Do your homework before you get to the lot. Narrow your choices down so you only need to take a few test drives. Find out the typical price for comparable vehicles if you’re buying used and look up rebates and incentives for new cars. The more you know, the lower the price you’ll pay.
  • Get financing before you go. The most effective “closers” at the dealership are usually in the finance office, where they’ll try to get a good chunk of your money on an interest rate that’s higher than you should pay. Your credit union can help you get started here.
  • Don’t forget your trade-in. Find out how much people are paying for vehicles that are comparable to yours so you know how much to expect. Plus, you can always sell your trade-in on your own if you find a good deal.

BLTs With Bacon Mayonnaise

BLTs With Bacon Mayonnaise

Quick, easy, and a real family favorite!

Ingredients:  

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup chopped bacon, or bacon bits
  • 4 slices bread, toasted
  • Handful of spinach leaves
  • 2 tomatoes, sliced
  • 8 slices bacon, cooked
  • Salt and pepper

Preparation:

Combine mayonnaise and bacon bits. Spread each slice of toast with bacon mayonnaise. Layer spinach leaves, tomato slices, and bacon slices. Season with salt and pepper, if desired.
Note: The mayonnaise will be even better if you mix it up the day before to let the bacon flavor permeate.

Advice From The Bottom: What Losing A Million Dollars Taught Entrepreneurs About Finance

Advice From The Bottom: What Losing A Million Dollars Taught Entrepreneurs About Finance
Being a millionaire seems like it would put you in a strong financial position for life. Unfortunately, there are no guarantees in personal finance. Even a million dollars can quickly be lost through a string of bad luck or poor decisions. Learn the lesson from these ex-millionaires to keep a tight grip on what you have.
1.) A million dollars can’t sustain a millionaire’s lifestyle
When most people think of a million dollars, they usually don’t think of the money in their accounts. They think of a lifestyle. The problem is, a million dollars disappears pretty quickly when it’s being used on big houses, flashy watches and fast cars.
Joshua Lee, an internet entrepreneur, accumulated that coveted seventh figure at 28. Like most 28-year-olds with extra cash, he bought cars and watches, treated his friends to expensive nights out and did all the other things millionaires are “supposed” to do. His first million didn’t last him long at all.
Lee was able to recover, thanks to hard work and good fortune, but he offers a valuable piece of advice on the topic. Once you’ve decided on a goal, think about the parts of that goal that make it desirable. Once you’re 80% of the way there, take some time to re-evaluate if the properties of that goal are sustainable. A million dollars feels different from $800,000 than it does from $20.
2.) Keep an eye on the people keeping an eye on your money
Top earners in most industries have IRAs and other long-term investment accounts that are watched over by a third party. A millionaire can be too trusting, though. Millionaire retiree Jay Cee worked with a financial professional to transfer his 401(k) from a previous employer. She encouraged him to put his money in a specific set of investment vehicles as part of an IRA rollover. The deal looked incredible.
However, the investment company charged nearly 3.5% in management fees, while earning a return of less than 4%. Jay’s retirement nest egg was growing at less than half a percent. Over the course of the year that his IRA was held by the company, they made $12,000 from his account, after just one 30-minute meeting.
Remember, the golden rule of economics: If you’re not paying for a service, you’re not the customer; you’re the product. Make sure you know how everyone who gives you financial advice is compensated, and insist on seeing a detailed breakdown of fees.
3.) Keep an eye on risk
Part of protecting what you have is realizing that it can be lost.
Curtis Jackson (50 cent) was one of the most successful figures in the music industry, yet in 2015 he filed for bankruptcy. One of the reasons behind the loss was that Jackson never stopped acting as though he had nothing to lose, picking fights with other performers and business owners, who would then take him to court. He suffered the slow loss of money in legal fees and settlements.
Be smart. Find safe investments and safe financial advice.
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How MoneySavingMom.com Can Save Your Family Budget

How MoneySavingMom.com Can Save Your Family Budget

If you’re a mom (or dad) trying to keep a handle on the family finances,MoneySavingMom.com is the place to go for daily coupon deals, special offers and frugal living advice. Launched by Crystal Paine in 2004 as a way to supplement the family income while her husband was in law school, the site now attracts nearly 2 million visitors per month.

Paine operates the site in addition to home-schooling her three children. She credits her interest in couponing to her mother, who also involved her in doing grocery shopping and planning meals for their family of nine.

The site focuses on the interests of moms who are trying to save money. In one such example, visitors could receive free Mrs. Meyers cleaning products valued at $38 with a $20 purchase from organic products company ePantry or a Hoover vacuum from Amazon for $79.

MoneySavingMom.com includes every money-saving strategy under the sun, from daily deal sites such as Groupon and Living Social to coupons for major grocery and drugstore chains, including Albertson’s, CVS, Food4Less, Krogers, Ralphs, Target and Wal-Mart.

The site is worth visiting regularly for the coupons and special deals alone. But there are plenty of other reasons to stay, including birthday deals, kids-eat-free deals and cashback sites. Paine, who is “passionate about living simply and frugally,” says her goal is to tell moms “about legitimate, practical, non-gimmicky ways to help you save money in your everyday life.”

There are plenty of money-saving opportunities in the kitchen. The site features a full recipe index, searchable by meal type, ingredients and eating preference. Paine is a big proponent of freezer cooking, where you spend several days each month cooking in bulk and freezing meals so the rest of the month involves little to no meal prep. Resources include articles on freezer cooking and planning your cooking day, as well as forms you can use to list your needed ingredients.

For moms and dads interested in upping their organizational abilities, there are free budget and meal-planning forms and a free “7 Day Makeover Your Calendar Course.” The money-saving front is rounded out with personal finance product reviews, the “52 Ways to Save $100 a Week” series, and the “More than 25 Income-earning Ideas” list.