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Managing Money

Lease Your Next Car

by Krantcents · 0 comments

After owning my current Ford Explorer for much longer than I expected, and it just being a tick under the eleven year national average age of cars currently on the road, I am definitely going to lease my next car.  By no means would I consider myself vain when it comes to cars, probably just self-conscious I know (my friend who has a similar year F-150 says my car is like a Rolls-Royce compared to his), but let’s put it this way, I would get embarrassed to pull up to the valet line now.  So basically when my wife and I drive we use her new Ford Edge.  I have been technically without a car payment for years now, but with the amount of repairs that needed to be made over the course of its many years on the road, I’m pretty sure it’s been a ten year lease…

Lower Monthly Payment

With a lease there are no depreciation concerns, so you only pay the residual value on the vehicle, which is the difference between the full price and what it is expected to be worth at the end of the lease.  Since you’re paying for a small percentage of the car’s price with a lease, compared to financing the entire price, your monthly payment would be substantially lower with similar terms.

No Down Payment

Since the reason to lease is to free up your cash flow, there is no reason to put down a down payment on a lease.  With most dealers now doing the “sign and drive” promotions now, you can roll in your security deposit/dealer fees into your monthly lease payment and pay nothing up front.

Avoid Repair Bills

Going above the normal maintenance of oil changes, shocks, a few brake changes, new tires, and entire exhaust system newly replaced, anything can go wrong, Belle Tire knows me by name now, the worst being having the entire engine rebuilt!  With most warranties and leases lasting three years, a car would be covered the duration of the lease.

I understand that leasing may not be for everyone.  Whether the need to own is for the wear and tear freedom as a business owner, or cannot stay within mileage limits, or just have the patience and goal to wait out a five year loan to not have a car payment, then financing may the way to go.  Typically the longer you own your car the more you save in buying, but there is no desire to keep a car for the better part of a decade and want a new car every two to three years with a low monthly payment, then I say lease, lease, lease.

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If you think you’re paying too much for cable, you are…but you knew that already.  Notice I said you need to negotiate your cable bill, not cancel.  This is not another article telling you to ditch your cable provider.  Cable is not yet entirely a thing of the past, so I’m not telling you to pick up an HD antenna, a streaming service, and call it a day.  No, the truth is, TV is important in my house, it is something my wife and I enjoy.  I couldn’t imagine life without a DVR, as bad as that sounds.  I’ve had friends that have cancelled cable because it’s too expensive, they now watch shows on their laptop, stream baseball games on their phone, and watch commercials on their HD antenna…to me, that sounds horrible.

There is something you can do about it, immediately I might add…which is, threaten to cancel.  I have the large cable provider with a reputation of having bad customer service (pretty tough to figure out, I know).  Their customer service department does usually hold up to their reputation, but the truth is, they really do have the best cable/internet service, but it is costly.  Once your promotion period is over, you could see your bill increase upwards of $100 each month, reaching almost $200…that’s where most cancel and go an alternate route.

Whether your promo period has just ended or you’ve been paying too much for a while, you need to put in a call to the billing department now.  Tell them that you really enjoy the service, but the bill is now just too high, and you want to lock into a new contract.  Mention you really don’t want to cancel, but will if it’s too high.  They will give you a quote of a new contract, and if it’s still too high, tell them you’ll think about it and hang up.  This is where you look up the CEO’s email address.  Write and give a summary of your conversation, mention again you do not want to cancel, but the bill is just too high to continue, and that customer service could not work with you to resolve.  Someone from the CEO’s office will quickly contact you.  Their job is to resolve the issue, so they will give you the best contract option available to give.

I had a family member recently complaining that she’s paying too much for cable and I asked if she threatened to cancel.  She said no, she didn’t feel like “dealing with all of that”, going through the prompts, verifying information, and then being on the phone a long time going back and forth.  Well if she wants to continue to spend $50-100 more a month than she needs to, that’s on her.  I’m locked in for the next two years with a low payment, and in two years when it goes back up, I’ll do the same thing.

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If you are looking at your bills and know that your bank account is running dry, you are going to be like many others trying to figure out how to make ends meet. There are loans available for major expenses, but emergencies often leave people only needing a few hundred dollars. When you have an emergency and need money, there are ways to get it.

Crowdfunding

It used to be that you had only your friends and family to talk to when you needed quick cash. However, crowdfunding now offers the ability to set up donation sites where people can donate money for a cause. These sites allow you to enter your information, how much money you need, and why you need it. Then you can share the donation page with your friends, family, and social networks to have people send the money to a secure site. It will take longer for you to get the money, but you are not penalized for not reaching your goal and you get to keep every donation you receive.

Sell Your Items

It is extremely likely that you have more belongings than you really need. Go through your clothes, toys, and other belongings that you have and list them on eBay or Craigslist. You can even use social media sites to sell your items, or hold an old-fashioned garage sale. There are also stores that will pay you to recycle cell phones or ink cartridges, so talk to local electronic or office supply stores.

Donate Plasma

When you donate plasma, you are often paid for it. You will need to make sure that you meet the requirements and have not donated blood or plasma recently. The Red Cross has set recommendations that are followed by most centers, so this is an option you have every month or two. Most places do not pay people to donate blood, but there are a few that will. You can often find donation clinics near you by contacting your local plasma center.

Work Freelance

The best part about freelance work is you are often paid a lot faster and more often than contract work. You can find many jobs that pay the same day of service, such as TaskRabbit or TaskEasy. You can also become a rideshare driver, that pays weekly. The benefit of freelance work is you will set your own hours, so you can do it in addition to other jobs.

Rent Your Stuff

If you do not mind strangers in your space, you can rent out rooms in your home. You can also rent out your garage, parking spots, or equipment you have in the house. Many people are looking to borrow lawn care equipment, such as trimmers, mowers, and carpet cleaning devices. If you have been asked by someone to borrow it, consider creating a contract and get money for it.

Payday Loans

If you are waiting for your first paycheck or have an emergency in between paydays, a payday loan is an option that is available. These loans are often small and have high interest rates. However, you rarely need to have anything more than a checking account, a job, and a permanent address. You can find payday loan places online as well, but they may take up to a day to deposit the money into your account.

Participate in Trials

Medical companies are always looking for focus groups for clinical trials. Research testing, whether for food, new drugs, or other products, is a way to make quick cash. The amount varies based on the trial, but can be thousands of dollars if a lot of time is involved. You will need to make sure that you are completely honest during the application process, and understand the requirements you are agreeing to.

Anytime you are in need of money, always turn to what you have to offer first. If you can take photographs, consider selling stock photographs to websites. Before you jump for a loan, get creative to see what you can be paid for first.

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There are financial perks to using your credit card such as rewards dollars/points, building your credit score, and just the mere convenience, but it takes lots of discipline to limit your spending in order to be able to pay the balance each month.  Rolling over your balance to the next month and paying high interest leads to financial downfall.  Memories of only making minimum payments and worrying about when the balance would ever be paid off still haunt me to this day, swearing to never go there again.

Budget

When you use your debit card you are only spending the amount that you have in your account for the month.  They payment is immediate and you cannot go into debt right off the bat.  It allows you to budget in your utilities, mortgage payment, car, payment, insurance, and your allotted spending on food, gas, entertainment.  With a credit card it’s a seemingly endless supply of money and it’s easy to charge items that you wouldn’t necessarily purchase if you used your debit card, thus carrying a balance and paying interest.

Accepted Everywhere

Just like a credit card, your Visa or MasterCard are accepted everywhere and eliminates the need to carry cash, just try and avoid using the ATM as often as possible, as those $3-4 per transaction fees do add up over the course of the month.  Budgeting for how much cash to carry for spending money each week, your own personal allowance if you will, will avoid an extra trip to the ATM.

A Few Places to Avoid

Although debit cards are great to keep your spending on track, there are instances when using your debit card could surprise you.  If you’ve ever tried to check in to a hotel room or book a rental car, there are significant holds that go on your account.  With a credit card they are removed within a day or two without noticing a difference, but with a debit card the hotel could take almost a week to remove, thus tying up the money in your checking account until the hold is released.

If you are just now starting to plan for your financial future or if you’re just more comfortable not charging to a credit card, then you definitely cannot go wrong using a debit card.  Although not as lucrative as credit card rewards, debit cards are also offering rewards points for every dollar spent on purchases, so you can look forward to receiving gift cards for gas, retail, and dining.

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Major League Baseball, MLB, offers entertainment for many people, but it is also a great way to make money. Sports fans love the challenge that comes with placing bets on MLB games, and much of that is due to the many types of bets available. Here are a few that are most commonly found at betting locations.

Over/Unders

One of the most common terms found in baseball is over/under. This type of bet has the person placing the bet wagering on the total number of scores made by both teams combined. Bettors will be told a total number of scores that the bookmakers place, and then they have to decide if there will be more or fewer scores. These bets do require a game to be played to completion, and not be ended early due to weather.

Money Lines

The basic type of bet for an MLB game is a money line. When you place a money line bet, you are simply wagering on who will win the game. Some games are easy to wager on, based on favorites and underdogs. However, clear favorites may not make you as much money and betting on the underdog could score a big victory. Since this bet is on who wins the game, games do not have to run a full nine innings to be completed.

Run Line

Similar to a money line bet, run line bets are placed on a point spread. Run line betting allows bettors to have a better chance of winning some money by saying the underdogs must lose by more than one run. However, unlike money line betting, run line bets only work if the game has at least nine innings. If the game is cut short due to weather or other reasons, the better loses. In addition, run lines are only 1.5-point spreads. If you want it by more, you will need to use the point spread betting option. Point spreads work the same way as run line bets, but you can extend the odds by having a larger spread.

Parlays

A harder bet to play is a parlay, but they can equal more money. In order to win a parlay, you must bet more than one baseball side and everyone must win. The more events you select, the more you will win. Many people will select this option if there are many games with favorited teams. Running a money line bet on a favorite team does not equal much of a payout, however if all of them win and you have a parlay, you will have a bigger payout.

While these are just the most common bets placed on MLB games, you can always find others depending on which bookkeeper you go with. There are often special bets that are run with games that are likely not to finish due to weather, or games that are played during the World Series. It is important that when you consider placing bets, you look at the options that you have and understand the rules for payouts so you can make money.

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Payday loans are the most expensive personal loans you can get, some companies charging as much as 400% APR (annual percentage rate) on their loans. Even in areas where payday loans are regulated, some micro-lenders get around these regulations by making subtle changes to their products – smoke and mirrors. Ensure you know the entire cost of any loan before you agree to their terms and consider some of the alternative funding below instead of payday loans.

Cost of a Payday Loan

The payday loan industry has no shortage of horror stories and negative publicity. While these loans may have a niche to serve in certain circumstances, its best to avoid them where possible. The costs of borrowing these types of funds just aren’t worth the hassle.

Depending on what your situation maybe for borrowing, there are generally cheaper alternatives than payday loans. However, when researching loan options be wary of some of the names payday loans have changed their product offering to.

Small loans

Micro loans

Debt consolidation loans

Bad credit loans

No credit loans

Unemployment loans

Quick loans

The above are just some of the names payday lenders use to advertise their products. Simply review terms and fees to identify if you may be looking at a toxic loan or not. One of the best things you can do is ask them what the APR on the loan is.

Below are some examples of other ways to get financial help or loans to assist with any financial situations.

Alternative Loans

Before considering an expensive payday type loan, review other responsible loan alternatives, there are many options available. This is especially important if you are a low income earner, pensioner, student or welfare beneficiary. Below are a few ideas on ways to smooth out your finances without taking on a high interest loan.

  • Work out a payment plan with your creditors, possibly extending payment terms, with an increase in interest if necessary but at a payment amount you can afford in a monthly payment amount.
  • Approach your employer for a personal loan or payday advance. Only borrow what you need and nothing more, as it will be deducted from your earnings on your next pay check putting you into the same potential situation.
  • Contact a consumer credit counseling service in your area. Most often they offer their services for free or at a nominal cost, but can often negotiate your debt payments on your behalf and securing one low monthly payment avoiding the need for further loans.
  • If you deal with a credit union or a bank see if they have overdraft protection, for those instances where you will need to borrow in between paydays without the high cost of a payday loan. A credit union may be more willing to loan its members a personal short term loan over a large financial institution.

Look for non-profit or governmental sources of loans that can help you out in certain circumstances such as bills, food, shelter, and energy crisis. These can all ensure you do not get into the situation of taking an exorbitant payday loan.

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The expenses of buying a home can quickly mount up. Besides working out what your monthly payments will be, there are many other costs of home ownership and they include the down payment and closing costs, not to mention insurances and property tax. Even if it is possible to make the mortgage payments, the up-front expenses of your down payment and closing costs might just be enough to make you think that first home ownership is beyond your reach. Fortunately, that isn’t necessarily so as there is help available.

Local Government Assistance

Some communities offer assistance to low income home buyers. In California, for instance, the Sacramento Housing and Redevelopment Agency has a CalHome First-Time Homebuyer Mortgage Assistance Program, providing help through mortgage and down payment assistance. In Augusta, Georgia, Promised Land Community Development provides help with down payments. Local banks, credit unions and real estate agents can assist you with researching what local programs may be available to you.

State Government Programs

Many states offer assistance to first time low income home buyers. The state of Minnesota, for example, helps by offering lower interest rates and helping with closing costs and down payments. New Hampshire Housing provides fixed rate mortgages to low and moderate income homebuyers. An Internet search using a

phrase such as “low income home buying assistance” followed by your state name can help you find resources within your state. A state-by-state list of assistance programs can also be found at the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) website. The National Council of State Housing Agencies makes it easy to find information on the housing and finance authority within your state.

Grants

One way to learn about grants that are available to low income first time home buyers is by attending a Pre-purchase Counseling or Pre-purchase Homebuyer Education Workshop. Besides learning about all of the expenses involved in home ownership, these sessions can be a great resource for learning about financial help in your community. A state by state listing of workshops can be found at the Department of Housing and Urban Development website.

While sort of like a grant because it is money given to you towards the down payment, but not 100 percent a grant because it has to be paid back, another resource to help lower the down payment is a silent second mortgage. This is, essentially, a second home loan, or mortgage, provided by a home assistance buying program. The typical arrangement is that no payments are made on this second mortgage until the home is sold or refinanced at which point it needs to be repaid. Because no payments are made on this second loan, it is essentially a grant to the homebuyer. An example of this is the Second Mortgage Assistance Program used in Anaheim, California.

Federal Assistance

Most federal assistance for low income home buyers, other than HUD, is handled through local agencies. These local assistance agencies apply to the federal government for grants and then distribute the monies locally.

The fact is that there is assistance out there but it will take time and effort to find it. Use local resources such as libraries, real estate agents and bank loan officers. If you have access to a computer (or use one at your local library if you don’t); additional information can be found using an Internet search.

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When you are looking for money, it is often all about how fast can you get the money. However, there are different types of loans and the type often determines how long it takes to be approved. If you are looking for a loan, you want to make sure you know what type to apply for, and what the terms are so that you do not end up damaging your credit.

Student Loans 

If you are looking at needing money so you can continue your education, you will want to apply for student loans. You can find student loans offered by private lenders or by the federal government. Talk to your local bank to see what they are willing to offer you in terms of interest rates and repayment terms because you bank with them. However, the federal government has loans that are greater in amount and they offer the ability to defer the payments until you finish school.

Auto Loans 

When you are preparing to purchase a new vehicle, you will need an auto loan. You can get the loan from the dealership, but they often cost more money. It is best to start looking for auto loans from a bank prior to going to the dealership. It important to not miss a payment because you could lose your vehicle, so make sure the terms are ones you can meet. These loans are also approved within hours so you will know whether you can get the money or not.

Personal Loans 

People who have good credit scores and history shows they make their payments may qualify for personal loans. Personal loans do not have a designated purpose, and many people will use them to consolidate debt to one payment. The interest rates is dependent upon the credit history, as well as whether it is a secured or unsecured loan. With a secured loan, you will promise to pay the amount back or the bank can take your car, house, or some other collateral.

Payday Loans

Payday loans are sometimes viewed as loan sharks. It is extremely important to read the terms before signing the contract as the interest rates can be extremely high. However, these loans are often approved instantaneously. There are payday loans online that will deposit the money into your account within 24 hours, so if you need money fast, this is an option. It is important to make sure you only borrow what you can pay back, because most payday loans require it all back at once.

There are many other types of loans, such as small business loans and mortgage loans. They operate similar as the student loans mentioned above, but they have designated purposes. Most loans can be approved within a day or two, but student loans may take longer if you are going through the federal government. Payday loans are the fastest way to get money, but they also carry the most risk.

Before getting a loan for any instance, make sure that you have explored all of your other options to avoid finding yourself in a messy situation down the line.

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Buying a home can be both difficult and stressful. The day I took the money out of the bank for a down payment on my first house was probably the most nerve wracking day of my life. I can’t think of a time when I have ever written such a large check for anything. Though I was fortunate to live in a mid-west city where real estate was affordable and priced to sell. It didn’t hurt to buy during the recession either. Fast forward several years later and real estate is starting to climb back to the values of the old days. The redeeming factor is that interest rates are still at an all time low and waiting to buy a house could cost you more down the road. If you have been renting the last few years and waiting to pull the trigger on buying a new house then now is the time.

Hands down, the hottest real estate market outside of New York is probably up and down the west coast. Living the California dream is what it’s all about. Unfortunately, it can be quite costly to live in the sunshine state. I saved money and stuck to a strict budget and probably still wouldn’t have the funds to put down on a conventional loan for a piece of property in California. That doesn’t mean it isn’t possible though. Consider a new loan program, the CalPLUS Conventional Loan with Zip Extra. This loan program is designed with the potential homeowner in mind.

So here’s the deal. You get a 30 year fixed conventional mortgage and down payment assistance to boot. Consider that many of you might be holding off on buying a new house because you simply don’t have the funds to put down. Why miss out on favorable interest rates because you don’t have all the money you need right now? The “Zip Extra” portion of this program allows you to receive $6,500 plus up to an additional 3% of the original mortgage that can be used on the down payment or even the closing costs. Trust me, the closing costs and escrow fees can add up to be a significant amount and often times buyers forget that aspect of the mortgage. The best part of these additional funds is that they are interest free and do not require payback until the loan is fully retired. That means if yon don’t move or retire through the life of the loan you could potentially receive an interest free loan for the full 30 year life of the mortgage. That isn’t a bad deal if you ask me. The catch is that you pay a little extra with the initial upfront interest rate, but over a 30 year period it more than pays itself back due to the mortgage interest deduction.

You simply need to make sure you are eligible for the loan. If you want a detailed video illustrating your eligibility you can view it here. The requirements are actually pretty simple and easy to understand. Depending on the area you live within you are restricted to a certain income limit which also depends on the number of people in your household. The restrictions are fairly generous as most counties allow the assistance even with families of four earning over $100k per year. The main requirements is that the property is your first home and that you use the house as your primary residence. Basically, they don’t want to fund loans for people who are trying to utilize the property as rental. You are also required to attend and satisfactorily complete an eligible home buyer counseling class. This is to ensure that you can afford and maintain payments on the mortgage. Lastly, the home price has to be within reason. This also depends on the county that you are buying within, but a general acceptable price is anything below $600k.

As you can see this program has many benefits for potential homeowners who simply can’t afford the 20% down payment on a typical conventional loan. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it just offers additional options to someone who wants to take advantage of the favorable interest rates available to them right now. You only need to make sure that after you are provided the down payment assistance you can comfortably afford the monthly mortgage payments without any hardship. For those of you that have been renting a house or apartment this program allows you to purchase a home and start building equity for the future. The recession has long passed up and home prices as well as interest rates are starting to climb. It might sound cliche but this is truly one of the best times to buy a home. So if you have been delaying the inevitable then this is the time to pull the trigger.



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Managing money was my career for more than thirty years. I started managing money when I was seven (7) years old!  I earned my first few dollars with a business and needed to make some decisions. I made them the old fashioned way, I asked my mother. Small, but great network! Technology provides so much more information and all I have to do is access it. How do you use technology to manage your money? Read More…

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