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Personal Loan Works Better than the Credit Card

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Most of us have emergency or other expenses that require quick funds. While many resort to credit cards for these expenses, a better option may exist: the personal loan.

The personal loan is a contract created between a bank, credit union or other lending entity and an individual. It states an amount to be lent to the individual and terms like interest rate and duration of the loan. Because establishing a personal loan requires discussion with a bank or credit union representative, however, many feel intimidated to embark on this kind of funding. This said, the personal loan may be the more financially savvy option in several situations.

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First we want to cover the biggest advantages of using personal loans over credit cards. These include:

1. the personal loan can be “unsecured,” requiring neither collateral (like a credit card) nor a credit card inquiry that can lower credit scores; this said, some personal loans DO require collateral and perform a credit inquiry. Get these items straightened out with a loan agent BEFORE signing the contract;
2. personal loan interest rates are typically lower than credit card rates and negotiation with the loan officer for even lower rates is possible;
3. unlike rates for credit cards, the interest rate stays fixed for the entire repayment period;
4. monthly payments stay even. Credit card payments change as charges accrue.

With the advantages clear, you can determine whether the money you need should be gained through a credit card or personal loan. The following includes the situations that we think make the most sense for a personal loan.

1. Unexpected Income Shortfall
People make errors. Sometimes these fallible people have jobs in payroll and forget to cut checks. The good news is that banks and credit unions issue small personal loans relatively easily, requiring a few pay stubs and the last few months of bank statements. While going to the bank to discuss the situation can be uncomfortable, people in this situation get money within 24 hours when they use convenient online personal loan solutions. Online banking solutions often have lower interest rates and better terms because these alternative lending institutions do not need to satisfy shareholders or spend exorbitant amounts on marketing. As Bill Gates said in the nineties, bricks and mortar banks “dinosaurs.”

People looking to finance an adoption, in vitro fertilization, a cross-country move or other big activity without traditional financing (like a car or RV loan) turn to the personal loan to move life forward at reasonable cost.

2. Consolidating Credit Card Debt to Increase Credit Score
Who wants to pay 19% when they can pay 11%? An 8% difference per year can save the borrower with a $10,000 credit card balance $800 each year or $67 monthly. Fill out our convenient personal loan application. First Financial lenders’ lower loan rates and better terms may surprise you! We have all the security of the big, bricks and mortar banks, namely 128-bit “banking level” security. We have to. The Security and Exchange Commission and other federal institutions demand it.

3. Borrower Prefers or Needs a Fixed Rate and Term
Borrowers (or their parents or spouses) often advocate for the personal loan because it involves making the same payments at the same schedule until the loan is paid off. Credit card rates are variable and could rise several percentage points yearly. Those who make a clear decision about one large purchase appreciate the clarity of paying for it consistently over a limited period of time.

First Financial Personal Loans Provide the Savings only Online Functionality Delivers
First Financial’s lending partners can provide low cost personal loans because of their cost-saving, online structure. Apply for an affordable personal loan here, even if your credit rating is “fair,” “poor” or even “bad.” Our comprehensive application was designed by financial professionals who understand that an applicant’s financial history can be complex, particularly in the post-recession era. Fill out the application in minutes and learn how much you qualify for within 48 hours. Follow First Financial on Facebook to get smart budgeting and saving tips, too!

The Feasibility of Auto Loans: 5 Facts that Reassure Spouses and Parents

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blank If you’ve just heard you can only qualify for a “bad credit” auto loan, know that you are far from alone. More than 50% of Americans today DO NOT fall into the “prime” or “excellent” credit category that wins the best interest rates. Many gasp upon hearing the word “bad” in the description of their only possible auto loan, but rest assured, the bad credit auto loan is simply another category of frequently approved loans.

In fact, in the first quarter of 2014, U.S. banks approved 44% more bad credit auto loans than they did in the same period the previous year. With the economy improving, banks are more willing to take on customers with less cash at hand. (First Financial’s bad credit auto loan has a 93% approval rate.)

With the negative power taken out of the term “bad credit auto loan,” the next step in getting a reliable, attractive car is convincing the spouse or parent who may be co-signing, helping with down payments or monthly payments. We’ve made sure to add all the statistics and links so you can back up your case.

Bad Credit Auto Loan Interest Rates Are Higher But Not Outrageous

. . . and definitely NOT unheard of

Financial talking heads on television or radio can sour your significant other or another important family member on the bad credit auto loans. Sure . . . . those in the prime or “excellent” credit category get the lowest auto loan rates, but paying 7% to 10% or more for an auto loan still keeps reliable, attractive cars affordable.

Further, during some periods of the past 50 years, even those with excellent credit were paying over 10%. Ask a parent or grandparent what they paid for an auto loan at various times. Show them that you have proof that interest rates peaked in 1981 at 16% and only dropped under 10% as recently as 1997.

Getting a Bad Credit Auto Loan Helps You Get to Better Credit

That you make payments on time monthly gets reported to the credit bureau, slowly raising your score over the next months and years. Once your credit inches up into the “fair” category and then even the “good” category, you can consider refinancing at a lower rate.  And all that time you had a reliable car.

More, having reliable transportation to a job is a sure way to get the money needed to be a better bill payer. Many jobs even insist you have your own car. Stress to loved ones that you consider the higher interest bad credit auto loan a temporary fix while you work your way out of a negative credit picture. Maybe landing in the bad credit category taught you some important lessons, mistakes you don’t want to repeat.

Find Out How Much You’re Approved for Fast with First Financial

Banks are now more willing to lend to those whose credit scores dropped below “prime” or excellent . . . 700 or higher at this writing.

Our fast and simple online auto loan application and mobile auto loan application can get you driving within days. Want to get tips on finding the  lowest cost online auto, mortgage, personal loans as well as the loan industry?

Answering: “Why Doesn’t My Bank offer Cash Advances?”

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Question 1:  Why doesn’t my bank offer cash advances?

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Offline, bricks-and-mortar bank don’t see any profit in it. A cash advance is typically for a smaller amount of money: $1,000 or less, for a shorter amount of time: one month or less. By the time you fill out the forms, take the loan officer’s time and absorb the light and heat the bank needs to keep branches open, their profit has dissipated.  Online banks, on the other hand, have automated the process so efficiently, they can stay in business while offering small amounts of money for very short terms. The online banks are now even creating convenient cash advance apps for use on smart phones.

borrower getting cash advance

Question 2:  Does the teller really have a one-time great deal on loans I should consider?

The teller isn’t as interested in what you need as in meeting his or her sales quotas for the month. If you hate the hard-sell, stay out of bank branches at the ends of months or quarters when sales numbers get submitted. All tellers and loan officers are sales people with new account goals set by their managers. They even spend time cold calling in the back office. The tellers get points when they encourage people to apply for a loan with the loan officers waiting in the desks and offices beyond the counters. The loan officers get points for every loan they close. 90% of new teller training is SALES training.

Question 3:  Do I really need all these cards and accounts?

Probably not. Signing up for online bill pay, getting a debit card for a hobby business and setting up free checking all serve to get you more and more entrenched into that bank. In fact, these free/low costs offers are called “sticky.” If you saw a bank offered better rates down the street and wanted to move your account, you may be reluctant because the thought of setting up automatic bill pay, changing the checking to savings instructions on your accounts and getting issued new debit and other cards can feel pretty overwhelming. The more of these “products” tellers get you to accept, the more entangled you are in the bank.

The Smart Financial Consumer

Understanding the motivation behind what your local, brick and mortar bank teller offers can attune you to better offers at alternative financial institutions. Know that you can pick and choose the interest rates, terms and other details from a range of banks depending on what fits into your financial picture at the moment.

3 Ways Online Banks Keep Cash Advances & PayDay Loans Safe & Secure

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blank We bet that, ten years ago, you had at least 3 friends who proudly refused to submit their credit card numbers to online stores like Amazon.com. YOU may have been among them!

We also bet that—today—these same people order all kinds of clothes, books and electronics online. That fact that, back then, they were too careful, too “smart,” to shop with credit online is a distant memory. They may not even admit to being so short-sighted!

These days, people willingly upload all kinds of personal information. The magic of ever-improving “encryption” and other tools enable one consumer to interact with a store on a one-to-one basis, just as if they were standing right at the Macy’s counter. These days, more and more people, too, are turning to cost-effective, convenient online banking for their financial well-being.

Online Banking for Cash Advances and PayDay Loans is Just as Secure as Offline Banking

Because some are still a bit leery of banking over the internet, we’d like to reassure you that even for cash advances and payday loans, banks utilize extensive protections to keep your banking and personal information safe. The following four measures keep critical details private.

Read these to ease your mind about the safety and security of obtaining a cash advance online through your computer or even your smart phone using a cash advance app.

  1. Encryption: turns the written information coming from you (the browser software installed on your computer) into a code that only our online banking technology can crack. The minute you sign on to our financial institution, the software on our end prompts your browser software to establish a “secure session.” Our Cash Advance App uses “banking level encryption” which just means the code is much more difficult to decipher than most. In fact, our 128-bit encryption is at the highest level of security currently allowed by U.S. law.
  2. You stay in control because you can monitor whether or not security measures are working while you’re interacting with the site. Your browser tells you information is being encrypted with either a closed padlock or a key symbol. These symbols generally appear on the bottom of your browser screen.
  3. Online banks have whole teams of internet security professionals running audits to ensure encryption is functioning every hour of the day.

When all you need is a checking account, an email address, an internet connection via smartphone or computer, why not transact your cash advances and payday loans online? Once you are approved, you can handle the details of your cash advance or payday loan from the comfort of your home or office, where you have time to think and review your financial documents if need be.  Online banking is open 24/7, too, making it convenient for you to get cash when you need it and set up the next day for success!

Click, Click, Apply: How to Find Online Car Financing

Click, Click, Apply: How to Find Online Car Financing

Buying a car doesn’t have to be hours of paperwork in a dealership – sometimes you can get online car financing, learn about it here.

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Did you know that you can get online car financing with just a few clicks? Say goodbye to tedious paperwork and a slow approval process with the digital way of getting an auto loan, and drive off in your new set of wheels in no time.

Online financing has made it easy for people to apply for loans. The rates are very competitive, the process is fast, and one of the best thing about such loans is the ability to process bad credit car loans.

In as much as getting a car loan from the comfort of your house sound like a good idea, you need to be careful about who you borrow from. Take your time to find a lender with the best rates, quick approval process, and can accommodate your credit score.

Choosing an Online Auto Finance Company

Just like you took your time to choose the make and model of the car you want, you need to put the same effort when selecting an online auto finance company.

Even though it is possible to apply for an online auto loan with bad credit, you might have to pay a higher interest rate. Make sure you know what you are expected to pay monthly based on your current credit scores, your down payment, loan term, and the much you want to finance.

Here are four tips that you should have in mind:

1. Check for Options

Get quotes from different online lenders. Do not just settle for the first one you come across.

2. Pay Attention to the Fees

Lenders charge many fees that you need to know before settling on one. Be aware of such fees and do not forget to read the fine print so that you do not miss out on anything.

3. How Much Can You Afford?

Stay within your budget. Americans are highly in debt because of auto loans and you do not want to find yourself in this bracket. Therefore, consider all other costs of owning a car such as insurance, maintenance, etc. and factor them in.

Know how much down payment you are required to make and if you can afford it.

4. Your Credit Score

Some lenders do not give bad credit car loans. This means if you have a poor credit score, you need to look for a lender who can be able to accommodate it.

Benefits of Online Car Loans

Getting a car loan from an online lender is a very good option, especially if you have poor credit and need to have a car. There are several benefits of online auto loans:

1. Highly Competitive Interest Rates

Compared to a traditional lender like banks, online auto loans have very competitive rates. This makes it very affordable.

For example, with good credit, the APR on a 60-month car loan can be 2% points higher from a bank than online lenders. It’s a small difference but the interest can add up very fast.

2. Speed and Convenience

The application process for an auto loan is very fast. You can apply for the loan regardless of the time and your location. Some lenders only take 3 minutes to let you know if your application was successful or not.

You can also easily check your auto loan application status online. With this loan, you do not need to go to the dealership to know how much you can afford. You will get to know all that during the application process.

Comparing Online Car Loans

There are so many options to choose from in the market today. However, you want to get a lender who offers not only what you need but also what you can afford.

When comparing online loans, you need to keep in mind that you are going to have a very long relationship with your lender. Therefore, choose to work with a lender that is giving you the best and you are very content with their services.

Here is what you should compare:

Down Payment

Check if the lender can accept a trade-in as part of the down payment. The amount you give as down payment will affect the rates that you will be given and the loan term. Make sure you can afford it.

Application Process

How fast is it? What do they require? A good lender should have a very fast system that can give you an answer in no time.

Documents Needed

Are there any documents that you should send to the lender? Can they be verified online? Remember, online verification saves time, you need a lender who can handle the entire process online.

Total cost

This should be included as the APR. Compare two loans for the same amount given, the fees and interest rates affects the total cost.

Applying for an Online Auto Loan

Even though each lender is different. There are some basic steps that you will need to follow:

  • Find the lender that fits your need
  • Go to their site and select their application page
  • Fill out the application form making sure that you provide all the necessary details
  • Submit your application

Once done, you should be able to get a response within minutes after which. You can check on the loan terms, view the interest rates and any other fees.

You will then sign all the necessary documents and click submit. It is as easy as that. With that, you will be on your way to a dealership, with your financing as your back up and drive off with your new car.

Consider Online Car Financing and Get Your Dream Car Fast

Online car financing is a good option. If you have bad credit, all you need to do is to consider getting a less expensive car. This will make it easy for you to get financing, and manage to pay for the down payment as well as the monthly payments.

We offer online auto loan financing to those who want it irrespective of their credit scores. Check out our website, go to our auto loans page and start the process of applying for your car loan today. We are fast, easy and very professional.

Don’t hesitate to contact us for more information.

6 Advantages of Taking Out a Short-Term Personal Loan with Bad Credit

6 Advantages of Taking Out a Short-Term Personal Loan with Bad Credit

Believe it or not, there are ways that a short-term loan can help improve bad credit. Find out the advantages of taking out short-term personal loan here.

Over 43 million Americans have bad credit.

If you have bad credit, you might think you are stuck in a never-ending cycle. You need good credit to be approved for a loan, but you need to be approved for loans to build your credit.

If you can get approved for a loan, the terms are usually less than favorable.

Fortunately, there are ways to improve your credit quickly and easily. One option is to take out a short-term personal loan.

These types of loans come with many benefits and few disadvantages. They can help build your credit and don’t come with the tradeoffs that bad credit loans usually do.

Keep reading to learn more about the benefits of short-term personal loans.

1. They Improve Bad Credit

Short-term personal loans allow you to have your cake and eat it too.

Most loans that those with less than stellar credit are approved for aren’t worth taking. The cost is often too high to the borrower.

And that’s if you can even get improved.

So if your credit doesn’t qualify you for a loan, how do you build your credit? This is where short-term loans come into play.

Short-term loans are less risky for the lender and the lender can expect to be paid back more quickly than with long-term loans. Short-term personal loans are customizable by the borrower.

This means you can choose a loan that works for you. If you simply want to use this type of loan to improve your credit, you can take out a loan for a few months.

So long as you repay the loan within the agreed-upon time frame, your credit score will improve.

2. You’ll Save on Interest

For the most part, short-term loans will save you money.

When you have a long-term loan, you end up paying more interest. This is simply because you will be paying interest for such a long time.

With short-term loans, you pay back the loan in a much shorter amount of time. This means you’ll pay less interest.

Even if the interest rate for the short-term loan is higher because of your bad credit, the interest paid will be less in the big picture because of the shorter time paying interest.

The loan amount might also be smaller, meaning the interest paid will be less. Short-term personal loans usually have much lower interest rates than credit cards.

3. Ease of Access

If you need a loan quickly, a short-term personal loan is the loan for you.

They are similar to payday loans in the fact that they are usually approved within just hours. Waiting to find out whether you will qualify for a loan can be torture, especially if you aren’t sure if your credit score will measure up.

While it depends on your lender, in most cases you will receive your funds either the same day or the next business day. This offers a level of convenience that is unique to the type of loan.

Short-term personal loans offer convenience and flexibility to the borrower. As mentioned above, the loans can be customized to fit your individual needs.

Most lenders are online and you can access their website 24/7. This means you can apply for a loan at any time and from anywhere.

4. Reduced Stress

Short-term loans are significantly less stressful than long-term ones.

You will avoid the dread of viewing your statements and continuously accruing interest for years at a time. Instead, you’ll see your loan being paid off quickly, boosting your confidence and your credit score.

When you have a long-term loan, the end is often not in sight. It’s easy for the looming loan to cause emotional stress.

Watching the interest accrue month after month and year after year can be downright torture. Even if you are making the minimum payment each month, you are barely making a dent in the principle.

Short-term loans avoid this problem and instead offer satisfaction upon repayment.

5. Less Risk

With short-term personal loans, you’ll know exactly how much you owe each month and for how long you will need to make payments.

These loans are sometimes offered unsecured as well. This means that you won’t have to put up collateral.

Common forms of collateral include personal assets like your home or car. Instead, your credit history and credit score will be enough for your lender.

If you have bad credit, you might be required to put up collateral. However, short-term loans are much easier to manage.

There is less risk of things getting out of control and you not being able to pay back the loan. As mentioned above, it’s easier to keep interest in check with short-term loans.

Therefore, your assets are at less risk. If you do end up going with a secured loan, you will have access to more favorable terms and lower interest rates.

6. Flexibility

Short-term personal loans offer you more time to pay than other fast cash options.

Payday loans, for example, have much shorter payback time frames. With short-term loans, you can set the repayment time frame so that it works with your life’s schedule.

You will also have more flexibility when it comes to choosing the amount of the loan. Borrowing limits are often significantly higher than you could borrow using a credit card.

Apply for a Short-Term Personal Loan Today

If you are looking to secure a loan with bad credit or improve your credit score, considering applying for a short-term personal loan. Your loan will help you establish good financial habits.

Click here to start your application to see if you qualify.

An In-Depth Guide on How to Take out a Loan for a Car

An In-Depth Guide on How to Take out a Loan for a Car

An In-Depth Guide on How to Take out a Loan for a Car

Money and business concept car

Taking out a loan can be beneficial in many ways. We share our in-depth guide on how to take out a loan for a car and the benefits it has.

Did you know that 107 million people have taken out an auto loan to help pay for their car or truck in America?

Purchasing a car can be a costly expenditure. Most people don’t have the cash on hand to pay off the debt of a car immediately, which is where auto loans and personal loans come in handy.

Discover our guide on how to take out a loan for a car and familiarize yourself with the process of buying a car.

What Are the Different Types of Loans Available?

If you have never dealt with loans and credit scores, it can be a very difficult thing to navigate and understand.

There are many different types of loans available. Some of which are great for buying a car, and some that aren’t as good for this type of purchase.

For example, the best types of loans are auto loans, bank loans for a car, or alternatively, you can use a personal loan to buy a car.

Personal loans for car purchases sometimes have costly interest rates, so some people prefer not to use personal loans when they are purchasing their car.

Research has found that car loans are typically cheaper because they are secured by an asset (i.e. the car, which the lender can repossess to cover the costs if you can’t pay your loan).

Federal Reserve found that in May 2018, a 24-month personal loan from a commercial bank had an interest rate of 10.31%, whilst a 48-month new car loan from a commercial bank had an interest rate of 5.05%.

How to Take out a Loan for a Car

Unlike buying a car outright with cash in hand, like you might have done for your very first car, taking out a loan for a car needs to be thought through.

These are the key things you need to do when you want to take out a loan for a car.

Calculate Your Budget

The very first thing you need to do when you want to take out a loan for buying a car is to work out your budget. Calculate how much you can comfortably pay off each month.

According to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, a record of 7 million Americans are at least three months behind on their car loan payments. It is critical that you work out how much money you have coming in each month, and how much you can pay off.

The best way to work out what you will actually be paying for your car is by calculating how much you will be paying each month and for how many months. This calculation needs to include interest rates, too.

Check Your Credit Score

Whether you want a personal loan for a car or an auto loan for a car, you need to check your credit score and history.

Poor credit history might mean that you pay higher interest rates than if you have a good credit history. If this is the case, you might want to hold off getting a loan and focus on improving your credit score.

If you have a good credit score, you might be able to negotiate a better deal with your loan lender.

Find out how you can secure an auto loan without having previous credit experience or a credit score.

Research Your Options

Once you have an idea of how much you have to spend and what your credit score is, you can research your options. There are a number of loan lenders available, however, not all of them will be right for you.

You can get car loans from banks or credit unions, dealerships, or online lenders. Compare the different types of deals and payment plans each of them offer and work out which one is best for you.

Car loans typically come with 3-, 4-, 5-, or 6-year terms. The longer the payment plan, the more interest you’ll end up paying, so make sure you work out which plan is the most cost effective for you.

Get Pre-Approved for a Loan

Once the lender has given you a quote for the loan, you will be pre-approved, which doesn’t mean that it’s guaranteed. Once you have been pre-approved, you the lender will then check your credit.

Once you are pre-approved for a loan, the lender will give you a letter that you can take when you go car shopping. This letter can help you see if you can get a better deal from the car dealership.

Even though you have been pre-approved, it doesn’t mean that you need to sign up for the loan. It is still your choice whether you pursue this loan or you can choose another one.

You also can adjust the terms of your loan, for example, if you find a cheaper car and don’t need an as bigger loan, you can apply for a smaller loan instead.

Find Your Car

The final step is the most enjoyable one. Once you know how much you can afford each month, and you know what kind of loans you can get, you can go car shopping.

Make sure you do your research and find a car that is the right price and has the right features that you need.

Car Loans

Applying for a car loan doesn’t have to be complicated or confusing. Just follow our guide on how to take out a loan for a car and you’ll soon be driving away with a new vehicle.

Apply for one of our auto loans now and see how we can help you.

Alternatively, if you need help with your loan process, get in touch with our team and discuss your loan requirements.

6 Savvy Ways of Paying off Credit Card Debt Without Feeling Stressed

6 Ways of Paying off Credit Card Debt Without Feeling Stressed

Credit card debt can seem like a heavy burden when you have other bills to pay as well. Here's your guide to paying off credit card debt without feeling stressed.

The average American carries approximately $6,375 in credit card debt. For many, the stress associated with trying to pay off this high level of debt is significant.

If you find yourself in the group of people stressed about how to go about paying off credit card debt, you will be happy to learn there are some tips and tricks you can use. While your debt may seem insurmountable now, with time, effort, and dedication, you can get out of debt for good.

If you’re ready to learn what steps to begin taking, keep reading.

1. Focus on One Debt At a Time

Are you carrying a balance on more than one credit card? If so, you need to make sure you are always paying the minimum required on each.

However, don’t stop there. Once the minimums are paid, you need to concentrate on paying down the balance on each card. Be sure you choose one card to focus on at a time.

You can choose the card with the highest interest rate to pay off first, or the one with the smallest balance. Both of these strategies are effective but choose the one that works for you, and then stick with it.

2. Get Rid of the Cards – For Good

If you want to get out of credit card debt and stay out of it – for good – you have to take some drastic steps. One of these is to destroy the cards.

Regardless of what you think, there is no such thing as responsible credit card use. There is no good reason to keep these cards around, especially the department store cards that would not even be helpful in an emergency situation.

While this step may sound somewhat drastic, it’s the only surefire way you won’t get right back into credit card debt once you have paid everything off.

3. Combine and Conquer

Another option is to consolidate your debt. You can combine several of the higher-interest balances into a single payment. In most cases, the transfer fee is going to be three to five percent, but you can compensate for this with the savings you are going to see from the transfer.

If you have any equity in your home, you may be able to use that to pay down your credit card debt, as well. Home equity lines of credit often provide a lower interest rate than what the typical credit card charges.

It’s important to understand that closing costs will apply. However, the benefit is that the equity interest payments are usually tax-deductible.

If you choose the consolidation path, remember, you need to control your spending. This can help you avoid accumulating new debt, along with the debt that’s just been consolidated.

4. Build Your Emergency Fund

If you are planning to pay off and destroy your credit cards, then you still need to ensure you have some type of safety net for emergency situations. This is where an emergency fund comes in.

Building an emergency fund can take some time, but it will also be valuable if you encounter an unexpected expense or some type of income disruption. All you have to do to create an emergency fund is put a little back from each of your paychecks. By doing this, you can avoid missed payments and the need to use a credit card in the future.

5. Rearrange and Reprioritize Your Budget

You need to get a handle on your budget and make sure you fully understand what it is and how you can make the most of it. For example, top priorities should be transportation, groceries, housing costs, and entertainment.

A great way to begin this reorganization process is by looking at your credit card statements, as most issuers categorize your spending.

Be sure you scrutinize this information closely. Find areas where you can cut back how much you are spending. Then take the money that you have “found” and put it toward paying down the debt you have.

6. Don’t Give Up

If you are like most people, you didn’t get into credit card debt overnight. As a result, you are aren’t going to be able to get out of it that quickly either (unless you find a windfall of some sort).

Be patient and continue on the path to living a debt free life. While this is bound to take some time, in the end, it will be well worth it, and you will be in a position to take charge of your finances and finally achieve the financial freedom that you want and need.

Paying Off Credit Card Debt: It Is Possible

There’s no question that paying off credit card debt is something that takes time. However, it’s possible when you use the right tactics and rely on the right information.

Be sure to use the tips and information found here, as they’re going to help you on your journey to financial freedom. You may also want to reach out to a financial advisor, who can provide you even more information on how to best manage your finances to remain debt free.

If you are ready to take control of your finances, rather than letting them control you, we can help. Our team can provide the information you need on any finance related topic. For example, we have a recent blog on how to take the pain out of monitoring your finances.

Stay tuned to our blog for more insights.

How Does Debt Consolidation Work and Other Facts About Consolidation

How Does Debt Consolidation Work and Other Facts About Debt Consolidation

When it comes to trying to pay of your debt it can be hard when you have multiple accounts open. Read on to learn how does debt consolidation work.

Did you know that Americans now have more debt than ever?

In fact, this debt amounts to a hefty $13 trillion–and this number is likely on the rise.

Debt can sneak up on all of us, especially given life’s range of expenses. Student loans, vehicle financing, and mortgages may grant education, mobility, and home ownership, but they still all equate to debt.

Luckily, if you are struggling with debt management, there are options. One of these is debt consolidation.

How does debt consolidation work, and is it right for you? In this post, we answer these questions and more.

Keep reading for insight!

What is Debt Consolidation?

Most people accrue debt from a variety of sources. You may, for example, have credit card debt in addition to an auto loan or home mortgage.

This is very common, and it’s not necessarily a problem. It is possible to have “healthy debt” if you are a responsible borrower and if you can comfortably make your monthly payments.

Yet healthy debt can be hard to come by. Plenty of loans have high-interest rates, which can quickly get burdensome and keep you from saving what you need to be saving!

A lot of people also juggle multiple monthly payments. It can be tough to meet these, especially if you’re living paycheck to paycheck. (In fact, most Americans do!)

Unexpected situations such as family emergencies or medical expenses can be an additional challenge. These can add more to your debt and stress levels.

If you find yourself missing payments on any of your loans, you may face late payment fees. Credit card balances are also subject to potentially high-interest rates.

Debt consolidation strives to alleviate the stress of these potential situations. When you consolidate your debt, you lump your debt into one, single loan. This results in just one monthly payment and–in most cases–less interest due.

How Does Debt Consolidation Work?

Debt consolidation sometimes sounds too good to be true. How does it work?

First, it’s important to note that there are, in general, two ways to consolidate debt: with a credit card balance transfer or a debt consolidation loan.

Both of these have the same goal, which is to get all of your debt into one monthly payment. Plus, they also strive to reduce interest and fees.

Credit Card Balance Transfer

For people with a lot of credit card debt, this is a great means of consolidating. Users simply transfer all of their debt to one credit card. They must then pay off this balance within a given time frame.

Most people will seek out new cards that offer a 0% balance transfer APR and/or a $0 balance transfer fee. Plenty of credit cards offer these terms!

These terms mean that balance transfers won’t be subject to any fees. Once you transfer a balance, you won’t have to pay interest on that balance for a given period of time (sometimes up to a year).

If you aren’t eligible for such offers for any reason, have no fear. You can always transfer your credit card balances. These, however, will be subject to APR and/or transfer fees according to your card’s terms.

For this reason, identify your card’s balance transfer terms before you make a decision.

Debt Consolidation Loan

Another way to consolidate your debt is to take out a debt consolidation loan.

With this, borrowers take out a loan valued at their total debt. Generally, this loan is fixed-rate, meaning that its balance will have the same interest rate for the entire repayment period.

With this debt consolidation loan, borrowers pay off all of their existing debt. They will then work on repaying that loan in a given amount of time, generally at a lower interest rate.

Debt consolidation loans are ideal only if they do offer lower interest rates and fees than a borrower is paying on other loans.

You can get debt consolidation loans from a variety of sources. What’s more, they don’t have to be called a “debt consolidation loan” to count. Low-interest personal loans can also suffice.

Is Debt Consolidation Right for You?

Debt consolidation can be a relief for most borrowers, especially when it comes to reducing payments, interest, and fees. But is it right for you?

In general, debt consolidation is ideal for people who could benefit from a single monthly payment (rather than several).

It’s also the right choice for individuals who aren’t 100% drowning in debt. In general, your debt shouldn’t be more than half of your current income. If it is, it will be really tough to pay off that debt, even after it is consolidated!

Credit score can also play a role. In general, people with good to excellent credit are more eligible for 0% balance transfer terms on credit cards and low-interest consolidation loans.

If you have a lower credit score, you may struggle to find a consolidation method that actually saves you money.

It’s also important to have a plan in place once you do consolidate your debt. This plan should incorporate income sources and repayment terms.

Remember: debt consolidation doesn’t get rid of your debt. It only reorganizes it, in an attempt to reduce interest paid.

Next Steps

If you’ve decided that debt consolidation is right for you, begin by choosing how you wish to consolidate your debt. Is credit card consolidation right for you, or is a debt consolidation loan the way to go?

Next, start researching. Take your time to identify the best balance transfer terms and/or low-interest consolidation loan.

If you do intend to take out a loan for debt consolidation, browse lenders wisely. There are a lot of scams out there when it comes to debt consolidation, so look only for reputable lenders.

We also recommend inspecting your credit score before you hunt for offers. Remember: the higher your score, the better for securing terms likely to make debt consolidation worth it.

Final Thoughts

How does debt consolidation work? Debt consolidation involves lumping all of your debt into one loan to reduce payments and interest.

In general, debt consolidation can be a useful tool for individuals with debt that doesn’t surpass half of their income.

Are you ready to consolidate your debt? Apply for a loan now!

Is it Possible to Buy a Car With Bad Credit?

Is it Possible to Buy a Car With Bad Credit?

Buy a car with bad credit.

The average credit score in the United States in 675. This would be considered a ‘good’ credit score.

However, any score lower than that could be considered ‘fair’ and then plummet to poor or exceptionally poor. Sometimes it’s qualified as ‘bad’ depending on the company.

A poor or bad credit score can make life a little more challenging. It’s harder to acquire a loan, buy a home, or even a car with bad credit. Is it even possible to buy a car with bad credit?

The short answer is, yes! But what are the details of that yes? Let’s dive in a see how you can get a car with bad credit.

Buy A Car With Bad Credit: Hard, But Not Impossible

Purchasing a car, even with low credit is doable, though no doubt challenging. Here are a few key ideas to keep in mind.

1. Comb Through Your Credit Score

Before you visit any dealers, you need to have a solid grasp on your credit score and also your credit report. You can acquire your credit report for free and overlook it to make sure there’s no fraudulent activity and better gage reasons where you could improve your credit. If you spot inaccuracies on your report, it could be contributing to your low score.

2. Clean Up Your Credit

Some people need a car right away, but if you don’t, use this time to address those red marks on your credit report. For example, paying your bills on time has a significant impact on your credit score. Making on-time payments can boost your credit score and signals to lenders that you’re trustworthy.

If you’re not in a hurry to buy a car, take some time to evaluate your score and report. It could pay off especially when it comes to ease of securing a loan and the loan rate.

3. Budget, Budget, Budget

Often, low credit scores are a result of a chain reaction in your financial life. Not sticking to a budget, racking up debt, and the inability to pay it affects your score dramatically.

It can be tempting to buy the fanciest car possible but doing so could leave you with a large monthly payment. As a result, if the car payment is out of your budget, your payments could be late. This further destroys your credit.

Go over your monthly budget and bills to determine how much you can comfortably afford before you go car shopping. Researching current loan rates could help you negotiate when it comes time to buy.

4. Research Lenders

Some lenders are very restrictive about who they lend to. It’s recommended that you shop around and research lenders before applying for any loan, especially with bad credit.

Reaching out to your local credit union to pre-apply can make the application process smoother, as credit unions are more friendly to people with bad credit. Take into consideration lenders who work solely with those who have bad credit.

Avoid applying to several different lenders as this creates a hard inquiry on your credit report. A hard inquiry lets lenders know you’re interested in acquiring debt and can lower your score. Knowing this is one reason why researching lenders first are vital.

5. Inspect Your Terms

If you’re approved for a loan, pay attention to more than just the monthly payment, even though that’s the deciding factor for most buyers. A monthly payment amount is one part of your agreement, yet you could be paying more over the life of the loan if your payment is small. You might think you’re getting a good deal (at first), but over time you’re paying more than you want.

5. Save for A Down payment

Stock away as much money as you can to use as a down payment if you have plenty of time before you need a vehicle. A down payment shows lenders or dealers that you’re serious about purchasing a car and making the payments. In some cases, it can even lower your interest rate and also your monthly payments.

If you’re the overachieving type, save up your money and pay for the car in cash. Doing this avoids having to work with lenders, and you don’t want to worry about a monthly payment.

6. Think About A Co-Signer

A co-signer is a person with good credit who signs the loan with you. This seems less risky to lenders because they have someone who will pay the loan if you cannot. Bringing along a co-signer increases your chances of getting loan approval.

There are some risks that accompany having a co-signer. This debt also shows up on their credit report, and their score takes a hit if you cannot make payments on time. The relationship between you and your co-signer could be severed or damaged if you default on your payment.s

7. Shop Where You Can Finance

Some dealerships offer their financing which could work in your favor. In this case, you avoid having to apply to a third-party lender. Certain dealerships work primarily with those that have low credit.

It’s important to note that it’s possible these dealer-lenders offer interest rates that are sky high and could include repossession in their terms if you cannot make the payments. Usually, they do not report to the credit bureau, so using these loans to build your credit is out of the question.

Don’t Let Bad Credit Stop You

If you have to buy a car with bad credit, don’t stress. Even though it might be hard, there are ways to own your car and rebuild your credit.

Are you looking for more information on auto loans? We’re here to help! Here’s some answer to questions you may have.

7 Life-Saving Tips That’ll Raise Your Credit Score Quickly

Do you want to raise your credit score quickly? If you follow these tips, you'll see improvement in your score in no time.

7 Life-Saving Tips That’ll Raise Your Credit Score Quickly

16% of Americans have a credit score of below 579. This is the lowest level of the FICO score and is categorized as “very poor”.

A poor credit score can have a serious impact on your personal life and can affect your business negatively as well.

While no one can guarantee that you will hit an exceptional score, there are steps you can take to improve your credit score.

Here are seven tips to raise your credit score quickly.

1. Check Your Report for Errors and Omissions

The very first step to take is to get a copy of your credit card report. This is the only way to know where you stand before you figure out the specific actions to take to make things better.

This is, however, not all you will be doing with your report. Go through it carefully, checking for any error and omissions.

Look for things like a repaid debt that’s been listed as a default or a loan you repaid on time that is not listed.

If you identify any of these issues, move to have them corrected. This action in itself can add a few points to your rating.

2. Negotiate on Outstanding Balances

You will be surprised at how helpful your creditors can be. Unfortunately, if you never ask, you will never find out.

If you are having trouble making payments, make contact with your credit card issuer and communicate this with them.

Most providers have temporary hardship programs you can take advantage of. The benefit of this is that you can have your repayment amounts reduced until you get back on your feet.

Smaller, more manageable installments mean you can pay a lot more comfortably. This is better than skipping payments and having a creditor send a negative report that sheds a few points off your score.

3. Get Added as an Authorized User

This is a great way of giving your credit score an immediate boost. This works particularly well if you are just starting out and have little information on your credit rating.

You do this by getting someone with a high credit card limit and an even greater repayment history. Their card issuer sends them a card with your name on it.

Legally, you are not obligated to make payments on any debt accrued on the card. But its usage reflects positively on your credit score.

The key is finding someone with above board transactions. In a sense, you inherit the person’s positive credit history.

However, not all credit card companies report authorized users. Before you get on it, do your research and find out if it will be reported.

4. Ask Creditors to Delete Late Payments

It’s not uncommon to fall behind on payments from time to time. However, these small mistakes lower your credit score.

If you are in good standing with your creditors, it does not hurt to request them to delete some of the reported late payments. Financial institutions regularly communicate with Credit Referencing Bureaus, and all it would take is a quick phone call on your behalf.

If the request goes through, then you will have fewer negative reports, which will add some points to your credit rating. Nevertheless, try and restrict your late payments to 30 days. Creditors will not report late dues failing in this time frame.

If your issue is forgetfulness, rather than availability of funds, you can have your banker or employer make direct payments if this facility is available. If not, there are numerous software tools you can use to remind you when your payments are due.

5. Old Debts Can Raise Your Credit Score Quickly

You might be eager to forget about your car loan or student loan debts once you make the final payment.

However, as long as you completed your payments promptly, those records may help your scoring. The same is true for credit card debt.

All you need to do is keep these debts on your record. If they were entirely left out, then provide all the information to the credit Reference Bureau so they can use it to calculate your credit score.

Bad payment histories are deleted with time. However, bankruptcies stay on your report for 10 years and late payments for seven years. You don’t have much leeway with these.

6. Watch Your Credit Utilization Rate

Credit utilization is the amount of credit card balance you have compared to your credit limit.

This is the second largest factor affecting your credit score. The first is your credit repayment history.

The more credit you use on your credit card, the further down your credit rating drops. This trend indicates you are spending a significant portion of your income to repay debt, which makes you likelier to default on payments.

The best credit utilization is 0, which means your credit card limit is untouched. This defeats the purpose of applying for a credit card in the first place.

As a rule of thumb, keep your credit utilization ratio at 30%. This means using less than 30% of the credit limit availed to you. Anything above this can cause your rating to drop.

Under the FICO system, people with the highest scores have a utilization rate of 7%. The lower your utilization, the better.

7. Jump on Score Boosting programs

The average age and number of accounts you have held are an important consideration in evaluating how you handle debt.

This tends to disadvantage people with a limited credit history.

UltraFico and Experian Boost allow people with limited credit histories to puff it up using other information.

Experian requires access to your online banking data and allows Credit Referencing Bureaus to add utility payments to your history.

In the same way, UltraFico allows you to give permissions for savings and checking accounts to be used alongside your report when calculating your credit score.

Consistency Is Key

All in all, while it is possible to raise your credit score quickly, expect a few bumps along the way and allow yourself some time.

At First Financial, we understand that while you work on your credit rating you might still need help from time to time. No matter your credit score, we have a financing solution for you. Contact us today for more information.

New Programs Give You Control to Raise Your Credit Score

For too long, consumers had little control over the subtleties of their credit scores. One forgotten payment dings a score by 10 points. Signing up for a department store credit card can take it down by 20 points. Most Americans don’t learn how to build their credit until they learn their credit score is so low, they have to pay far more than others for a car or home loan.

Waiting to check your credit score until you’re in the mortgage broker’s office is like showing up at the marathon after sitting on the couch for the previous six months. Why not condition for optimal performance now?

The good news is that there are now two, brand new programs that give you extra control over the key number that reflects your financial responsibility. These programs come from credit bureau Experian and credit analyst FICO (FICO uses Experian, TransUnion and Equifax to calculate your score. The credit bureaus do not calculate the score.)

Experian Supports the Consumer, Finally!

The Experian Boost program lets consumers report their on-time utility, phone and cable payments. Demonstrating reliability in making these payments can help a borrower improve how a credit bureau perceives his or her trustworthiness. While this idea may seem new to you, alternative lenders have used information from monthly bills for a few years now with great success. It allows them to make more loans and broaden their businesses with little increased risk. It turns out that those who prove they pay these typical monthly bills are good credit risks, even if they’ve forgotten a payment or picked up a new credit card.

Experian claims that of those who have tried the program so far, 64 percent have raised their credit scores.

To get started, all you need to do is give Experian access to your bank account. They need to see your payment history. Once this connection is made, you can calculate your score right away. Experian predicts that eight million Americans could move from poor to fair or fair to good credit with this new program. With better credit, they are more easily able to qualify for apartments, insurance, credit, mortgages and loans. It should only take a few minutes to set up and will jump start your credit repair efforts!  

FICO Finds Its Heart, too

As with Experian Boost, FICO’s UltraFICO links with your checking, savings and money market accounts. It reads whether you:

  • keep healthy average checking and savings balances
  • have maintained a bank account over time
  • avoid overdrafts
  • pay your bills regularly

In other words, it monitors your banking habits. FICO estimates that 15 million Americans can raise their FICO scores by opting into UltraFICO.  This program will be available soon. You can sign up to be notified when they’re ready to take your bank information.

Safety in these Two Programs

Today, Americans are more concerned about safety and privacy than ever. Experian and FICO have the most secure systems in the world. Both new programs involve sign-in verification, during which consumers grant read-only permission to connect to their online bank accounts. All of this information is encrypted so that no individual at either entity can know bank details. The algorithms crunch numbers and data. Use the links above to advocate for your credit worthiness and finally have some sway over your credit score.

What personal loan amount can I get?

Happy merchant avoiding EMV chargebacksIn general, personal loan amounts range from $2,000 to $50,000.  Borrowers with credit scores over 680, low debt utilization and robust income win amounts toward $50,000. Those not hitting those marks tend to get less. What are the criteria for determining personal loan amount?

It’s certainly not what you need, no matter how much you need it. Your wedding expenses bill of $30,000 or your remodel estimate of $50,000 doesn’t win you that amount automatically. The amount you can borrow with a personal loan depends on your credit score, your debt-to-income ratio and the purpose for the debt. Lenders evaluate how much you’re most likely to pay off, not what you need. Of course, those with higher credit scores will get better rates, but even those with fair, poor and bad credit can qualify for personal loans should their DTI and borrowing purpose warrant it.

Since 2012, lenders have been assertive about asking the purpose of the loan. Unlike with a quick cash advance, lenders are more generous when the purpose may strengthen the borrower’s financial health. A remodel or debt consolidation put a twinkle in lenders’ eyes.  Lenders actually consider some purposes frivolous these days. They’ve been known to turn down vacations, hot tubs, and other non-essentials, particularly if DTI is high. In the end, however, most consider the purpose of the personal loan an “influencing” factor rather than a primary one.

The debt-to-income ratio measures the amount going to debt service every month compared to the income coming in. A good debt-to-income ratio is 35 percent or below. At just eight points higher—43 percent—most lenders will not approve a borrower for a loan. Debt includes personal loans, student loans, car loans, mortgages and credit card bills. Your cable bill, rent, and car insurance do not figure into this debt calculation. Calculate your debt to income ratio and know your credit score so you can understand whether your loan amount offers are the best you can get.

A+ Rated First Financial Specializes in Low-Credit-Score Personal Loans

You may be surprised to learn that different lenders like to specialize in niche loans and borrowers. Some go for very short-term loans with high amounts. Others want to write only loans for borrowers with excellent credit. They create loan “products” that work well for the needs of that audience and don’t want to spend the time and money finding clients in other niches.

Rated A+ by the Better Business Bureau, First Financial has developed a specialty in serving those with fair, poor and bad credit scores—also known as “subprime” borrowers. We get you the money you need, all in the comfort of your home. You will know whether you qualify in five minutes or less with NO IMPACT to your credit. Apply today!

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Know the 4 Most Common Auto Loan Mistakes Before you Go to the Dealer

cash and car for auto loan
Be aware of auto loan pitfalls and save! 

 

Want to hear something scary? “The big mistakes are made in the financing office,” explains Phil Reed, senior consumer advice editor at Edmunds.com, the auto research website. “Making the right decisions can save thousands over the life of the loan.”

A car is a big purchase with a lot of moving parts. Dealers makes their profits between the gaps in buyer’s knowledge and they may try to confuse by unleashing lots of terms like “negative equity” and “origination fees.” Use these recommendations from experts to save thousands over the life of your car loan.

Don’t let the dealer define your credit score or credit “worthiness.”

Walk into the showroom with your credit report snugly in your back pocket. Otherwise, you run the risk that the salesperson leaves your negotiation only to come back with bad news about your credit. And of course that score isn’t high enough to get you the best rates. Who knows if he or she was checking your scores or playing a quick game of hacky sack? Dealers know that most consumers do not check their credit before being lured in by deals. Don’t make yourself vulnerable to this unethical treatment.

We discuss how to find your credit score easily in our previous blog post on rebuilding your credit (LINK). Just go to Annualcreditreport.com, fill out a few fields and your report arrives in you inbox instantly. Trust these results from the only free site authorized by the U.S. government’s Federal Trade Commission. Typically, anyone with a credit score of 720 or higher gets the lowest interest rates as they’ve demonstrated the most responsible money management. Still high 600s to low 700s is considered a “good” score. Those with lower scores can still get loans, but they will pay more in interest and fees.

Another way to check your credit is to get pre-approved from an outside lender like your bank or by applying for an online auto loan.  If you can manage to shave just 1 percent from your car loan, you’ll pay hundreds less over the next five or six years.  

Don’t make the wrong choice between a loan interest rate and a cash rebate.

Sure, the cash rebate feels enticing. And it might be the right choice if you use it to pay off other, higher interest loans like cash advances or credit cards. Basically, you need to decide if you want a lump sum up front or lower monthly payments over the next five or six years. Of course, not every car buyer is offered low-interest car financing, only those with the best credit scores. Again, know your score before you go to the dealership.

Don’t roll negative equity forward.

Some like to get new cars every two years. Often, they walk into the dealership with their auto loan “upside down.” That means they still owe more on the car than it’s worth. While those loving shiny new cars can get their next ride even if their loan is upside down, they’re putting themselves on a downward financial spiral.

Dealers don’t care what financial shape the car buyer puts themselves in. They will just add the negative equity–what you owe–into the purchase price of the new car. Chances are, this frequent buyer will just roll even more negative equity into the next new car, too.

Rather than enter this vicious cycle, consider buying a used car. A car loses much of its value in the first two years off the lot. And today, most cars are built to last 250,000 miles. Consider keeping the car longer and buying used to get the most for your car budget.

Don’t finance costly add-ons.

Just as movie theaters make most of their money on the popcorn, 37% of auto dealer’s profits come through aftermarket add-ons. These add-ons include  extended warranties, fabric protection and paint sealant and they are always less expensive from vendors other than the dealer. These costs feel like a no brainer when amortized over the life of the loan. The salesperson is quick to tell you that they add just a few dollars to every payment. Still, even $20 more over 60 payments is an additional $1200–real money.  

Don’t hesitate to question all fees.

With the deal wrapping up, a buyer’s guard is down. Salespeople know this well. The deal takes so long for a reason. It’s at the end that a salesperson may bring up unusual fees that may have official sounding names. Review all of the legitimate fees here and don’t hesitate to push the salesperson to drop anything that sounds suspicious.

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A+ Rated First Financial Approves Auto Loans Up to $45,000

Better Business Bureau A+ rated First Financial has helped arrange over 1,000,000 auto loans, some with approved amounts of up to $45,000. We have loans for borrowers with all credit scores, even fair poor and bad credit. Take three minutes to apply here for a new or used car loan and get your answer fast!

 

How to Get a Personal Loan for a Remodel

 

There is nothing like staying at home for real comfort.

-Jane Austen

a man nailing a board in a home remodel

Home has a magical place in Americans’ hearts, and lenders know it.

Because much of the U.S. economy is built on home ownership, the federal government encourages banks to lend to homeowners looking to remodel. If you want to get a personal loan for a home remodel, rest assured, many lenders will be happy to help. Interest rates on personal loans range from as low as 3.49% to as high as 36%. On average, they run from 10% to 32%.  Those going for a 32% loan typically plan to remodel the house, sell it fast and repay the loan as quickly as possible.

Today’s remodeler can get more money than ever (even with bad credit), but finding the right deal has gotten challenging. Use these guidelines to get clear on your needs and limitations before evaluating different lenders. Your first step is understanding how much you will need.

A Shortcut to Your Estimated Remodel Costs

HomeAdvisor.com provides estimates of how much your remodel will (or should) cost. It gives you the high, low and average prices. You can even fill in your zip code to get the most accurate figures. Lenders will ask for an estimate and accounting of your costs. They will also want a bid from a contractor that specifies labor, materials and other costs.

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Create a spreadsheet or list of all the new features you’re looking for. In our kitchen example, a new stove can run anywhere from $400 to $5,000 for a premium gas range. In the bathroom, color-bathing with LED lights is the new rage. Get on board with your spouse or anyone else determining what will go into your remodel. Create a spreadsheet or list of all elements and their prices using a checklist from the internet that focuses on your specific room. Baseboards may be boring, but they cost money and that should be figured in (plus they make a room look really finished!)

Some costs homeowners tend to forget include:

  • Permits
  • Equipment rental
  • Clean-up and hauling charges

Going to a contractor with a spreadsheet of remodel elements sends the message that you know prices. When he or she then estimates labor, you can check those figures against. Labor typically runs 30 to 35% of the entire remodel. Once you get all potential charges, add 20% to 30% because, as contractors often say, “there’s always a wrinkle in the rug.” Unexpected issues will arise.

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Elements that Figure Into Your Loan Amount and Terms

Lenders consider two elements when evaluating how much of a personal loan you can get for a remodel: your credit history and your income

To prepare for lenders’ offers (several is better than one), use CreditKarma or another service to uncover your credit score. The highest loan amounts and best interest rates go to those with good or excellent credit (no late payments in the last year and credit utilization (LINK to other blog post) 50% or lower). Still, as mentioned above, lenders like home remodeling loans because the federal government likes them. Therefore, even those with fair credit can get a personal loan for a remodel. You’ll just pay more in interest and possibly get a smaller amount.

To lower their risk, lenders evaluate your ability to make your monthly payments by examining how many other debts you currently have. They add up your monthly credit card, auto and student loan payments and then divide that figure by your monthly gross income. Many banks see a debt-to-income ratio or DTI of 35% as manageable. They recognize that you have some spending money left after paying your bills. They want this extra spending money to come to them, and will be eager to provide a personal loan.

A DTI of between 36% and 49% doesn’t mean you won’t get a loan. Lenders may want you to have a cosigner. Make these calculations before you apply for a personal loan so you can be prepared to select the right loan with the best terms.

Ready to Apply

The last piece of information you need when choosing a personal loan is the interest rate and fees the bank will charge. Lenders do NOT do a “hard pull” or serious credit inquiry when evaluating personal loan applicants. Instead they run a “pre-approval” or “pre-qualification” check.  This means you can review several offers before making a decision without any impact to your credit score. Once you select your lender, they make the hard pull ONCE.

A+ Rated First Financial Has Personal Loans for All Credit Scores!

Don’t let important home remodels go. A leaking roof can cause damage that multiplies your costs. First Financial has helped arrange tens of thousands of low-cost personal loans for home remodels. We have MORE loans for MORE applicants because working 100% online helps us reduce costs. Apply today!

 

Credit Score Hit by Holiday Shopping? How to Rebuild with Credit Cards

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The bill for the holiday fun comes due in January when the credit card statements arrive. You may even have used a quick cash advance to get all your gifts purchased during November and December. Prepare now to tackle those bills AND improve your credit score throughout the new year.

Step 1: A Few Clicks Gets Your Credit Report in Your Inbox

The first of the year inspires all kinds of resolutions. If you want this new year to be when you get your financial house in order, it’s time now to tackle that daunting document: your credit report.

You’re entitled to a free credit report every 12 months. Annualcreditreport.com is the only free site authorized by the U.S. government’s Federal Trade Commission. Don’t be intimidated. Just fill out a few fields, check some boxes and it comes right to you.

Step #2: Take a Look at Your Credit Utilization

Statement in front of you? Good. We’ll take it step by step.

The first element of your credit card examine is your credit utilization–basically, how much credit you have used compared to the total that banks are willing to lend you. Those using 50% of their available credit on any one account or 50% of credit offered across ALL accounts have lower scores than card holders using less than that halfway point. If you’ve spent $10,000 of a $15,000 limit, you’re using 67% of your available credit. Your annoying brother-in-law using only $5,000  of a $15,000 limit has a 33% credit utilization rate.

Credit utilization accounts for a whopping 30% of your score. It’s also rather simple to improve. How? Apply for new credit cards and ask for the highest limits. Then, assuming you start with the $15,000 credit limit we discussed above, an additional $10,000 in new credit available to you gets you to a new limit of $25,000.  $10,000 out of an available $25,000 credit line creates a 40% credit utilization, far lower than 67%. Keep working on it and you’ll be below 30% in no time.

Credit card limits are tricky. Even if a credit card issuer approves you for $10,000 or $20,000, it doesn’t mean they think you have the income to spend all of that. Approved for $20,000? Best to keep your debt to $10,000 and under.

Your new January approach will be to work your credit card balances down below 50% of your limits or the amount your bank permits you to borrow. Whether that’s through paying down balances or opening new credit lines depends on your financial situation.

Step 3: Look at Late and Missed Payments

Where credit utilization accounts for 30% of your credit score, late payments impact it even more. Even one payment that’s late 30 days starts shaving points, but 60 and 90 day late payments wreck real havoc. At 120 days, most card issuers hand the account over to a collections agency. Now you’re talking about having your credit score drop into the 500s.

If you see that you have late payments, don’t despair. These three options may get them removed:

  • Ask the creditor for a “goodwill adjustment,” based on the responsible payments you have made.
  • Tell the creditor you will sign up for automatic payments debited from your bank account if they remove the late payment.
  • Claim the late payment is inaccurate. This works only if you have documentation, however.
  • Employ a professional to negotiate with the creditor.

After you’ve addressed your credit utilization and payment history data, you can go forward knowing exactly how to put your best foot forward in rebuilding your credit.

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Step 4: Rebuild with Secured Credit Cards

With a firm understanding of how credit scores are calculated and how your behavior contributes to them, you can be confident about finding credit cards that will stabilize your finances.   

Keep that positive in mind when you find out that you most like will need to start out by using “secured” credit cards that have fees, low limits and may even require a deposit. Banks and the U.S. government want you spending, so the secured credit card is the way they make it happen.

These credit cards work just like a regular credit card, except you deposit often the same amount of cash collateral that they permit you to spend. What’s the benefit, then? These secured credit cards report to the three credit bureaus ( Experian, TransUnion and Equifax ) that you’ve shown responsible use of your secured credit card. Every on-time payment gets documented.

Eventually, the secured credit card company should approach you about using an unsecured credit card, where you don’t have to put up the cash. If they don’t after six to nine months, by all means apply for a different unsecured credit card or approach your current company for the same opportunity. The credit card company will consider how you’ve managed –not only your secured card– but all of your credit cards and loans.

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Once you get the unsecured card, your collateral from the secured card comes back to you, given you’ve paid all charges.  

Come Back from Your Holiday Spend the Smart Way

Holidays are not ALL about the gifts, but they sure make these few days out of the year more fun. And the fun is not just in receiving, but giving. In fact, studies have shown that those who spend money on others feel happier  and have more of a sense of purpose than those who don’t. Gift exchange has promoted connection and well-being since prehistoric times. If your generosity is crushing your credit score, rest assured you can work your way out slowly but surely.

 

Pay Off a Cash Advance with a Seasonal Job

nylon display in retail store

You can do anything for a few weeks, right? You might even have fun selling in a fast-paced department store. You’ll certainly get some deals. And if the extra income helps you pay off your cash advance, all the better! More, paying your cash advance off early saves significant money. Keep all the income from your paycheck and use only your side-hustle money to pay off your cash advance.

This year, the National Retail Federation estimates that their retail clients will hire nearly 700,000 seasonal or temporary workers. You can get work anywhere, including “big box” stores, local dollar shops, department stores and warehouses. You may even get a gig singing holiday wishes!

Perks of Seasonal Jobs

Seasonal retail jobs can offer some surprising benefits. Temporary employees can get the same protections and benefits as part-time or full-time workers; the U.S. Department of Labor mandates it. This includes being paid overtime and receiving at least the state’s minimum wage.

Seasonal work can also be more stable than it first appears. Your first job sets you up to come back for that same job the next year. You may even get an offer to stay on permanently, even if it’s just a one-day or two-evening per week shift. Extra money, particularly early in your career, sets you up to meet long-term financial goals.

Holiday seasonal work is not just about cash however. Retail workers typically get 20% to 30% discounts on store items they couldn’t afford otherwise. In some cases, a retail store will pay to fly you to their location and put you up in a hotel. It is a zero-employment economy after all. Stores are getting desperate for workers who will push their merchandise during the busiest time of the year. The National Retail Federation tells us that retailers make between 25% and 30% of their annual revenues just during November and December. If they’re pushed to their labor limits, they will bend over backwards to get your behind a cash register.

Working seasonal jobs can also be a way to “try out” different brands and locations to explore what you want. Applicants without experience have a much better chance of getting a job during the holiday rush than other times of the year. Build your resume while exploring your work options.

Seasonal Job Limitations

While the opportunity for extra cash and exploration seem irresistible, these benefits may not cut it for some. Keep in mind that you may be working while friends and relatives are getting together to celebrate. You will miss out. Consider whether you will be willing to work on Christmas Eve, Hanukkah, or other holidays. Also, saying you can’t make a certain shift isn’t going to impress a boss desperate to fill shifts.

Working during cold and flu season may be a risk as well. If you are sick, you don’t get paid time off or sick days. You just miss out on that day’s pay. Finally, health insurance or retirement plans may be limited.

Those currently getting unemployment benefits may have them suspended or limited if they take on seasonal work. Check with your state’s labor expert to get reliable answers.

Non-Holiday Seasonal Jobs

Those who find themselves thriving in the seasonal workforce can extend their adventures. In January and early February, temporary work forces are looking for people to staff super-bowl and Daytona 500 related events. By March, they need Easter bunnies to keeps squirmy kids engaged in high-end restaurants at Easter brunch. In the summer, it’s not hard to find a tour guide job in most major cities. By Halloween, why not put on the face paint and stalk haunted house visitors, moaning with arms stiff in front of you? It could be the role you were made for!

How to Find Your Pick of Seasonal Jobs

Today, the first place we all go for good information is the internet. Those exploring to discover their options can start broad by first going to:

  • Monster and Indeed which list thousands of seasonal jobs. Search in your area to limit results.
  • com: founder Bill Berg started this site after finding his dream job in Yellowstone National Park. Search admin, educational, jobs with fish, ranch jobs or even jobs specifically for teenagers.
  • com brands itself as a “working-travel” website. Search summer jobs, ski jobs, gap year jobs, childcare, hospitality and sports, water and outdoor positions.

Already have a dream retailer in mind? When you see how many workers your favorites need during holiday 2018, your confidence will soar. We’ve linked each retailer with its job listings here:

Amazon Seasonal Jobs –  adding 100,000, all starting at a rate of $15 per hour.

Kohl’s Seasonal Jobs – adding 90,000 in 1,100 stores, distribution and fulfillment centers.

Target Seasonal Jobs – adding 120,000, all of whom will receive 10% discounts and opportunities to earn extra pay on Thanksgiving and Christmas days.

UPS Seasonal Jobs –  adding 100,000 full- and part-time seasonal workers from November through January 2019. 35% of company’s seasonal workers get permanent jobs after the holidays.

Macy’s Seasonal Jobs – adding 80,000 seasonal workers. Employees also typically get 20% off on top of sales and discounts.

FedEx Seasonal Jobs – Adding 55,000.

J.C. Penney – adding 39,000.

woman working in retail

BBB A+ Rated Cash Advances for Everybody!

Emergency cash needs befall nearly every American. First Financial provides the quick cash advance and payday loan offers so that you can:

  • Avoid bounced checks and credit dings
  • Keep cars, computers and other work-related equipment running that keeps your income consistent.
  • Avoid late fees.
  • Avoid pawning the meaningful family jewelry and heirlooms that pawn shops pay cents on the dollar for.

First Financial is America’s leading source of short-term cash advance – payday loan offers for everyone, even those with low and bad credit scores. We put you first by letting you arrange the cash transfer from home through easy online transfers. Once you’ve completed the process by filling out the final page of the form, your cash is deposited in your bank by the next business day. Apply for a convenient cash advance today!

Escape Credit Card Debt: Debt Settlement or a Personal Loan?

Cutting credit card to get personal loan

blankMany consumers have received phone calls explaining that they can settle their credit card debt for a fraction of its total. While this is possible, taking the debt settlement route can have negative consequences on your long-term financial health.

Debt settlement works this way:  a company acts as an intermediary, making calls to your credit card company or another creditor for you.

The personal loan, on the other hand, is simply a lump sum of money you win from a bank or alternative lender after filling out an application form and submitting some financial documentation.

But to further guide you in deciding which path to take, here are the risks and rewards of debt settlement versus the personal loan.

Risks of Debt Settlement

Debt settlement comes with the following potential risks.

  1. Credit Damage.

A debt settlement company negotiates with your creditor to demand less money that what you actually owe. Your creditor, in turn reports this event to the credit bureau, explaining in detail that your debt was settled for less than how much was owed. Credit bureaus degrade your credit score.  Further, seeing this history future car, home and bank lenders will be reluctant to do business with you.

  1. Implications on taxes.

The money you escaped paying isn’t the free pass debt settlement companies imply. The IRS will demand a slice of this “discount” in your taxes. You will pay taxes on it as if it is income. Your debt settlement company sends information to the IRS and to you. In fact, if you do choose to use a debt settlement company, make sure to ask up from what the tax implications are.

 

Rewards of Debt Settlement

Debt settlement does help consumers reduce their debt. Also, when you try of applying for a loan when you still have not fixed your debt yet, you are certainly going to have a hard time. As a matter of fact, lenders are highly unlikely to be willing to work with you if this is the case. But when you do eliminate your debt, you will be attracting more lenders to work with you and even open up a lot of other opportunities for your own success.

  1. Save more money.

Giving your lender a lesser amount of the amount owed leaves more money for you to use to buy a car, home or other asset. Make sure you maximize the amount forgiven you will only be successful in this when you have already mastered the labyrinth of debt settlement.

  1. Put an end to the collection.

Aggressive creditors can make your life a nightmare. Even more frightening, when you do not respond, they file a lawsuit which could be served in public and end up garnishing your wages. Debt settlement puts this interference to a stop.

 

Risks of Personal Loan

  1. High interest rates.

Many are surprised that personal loan rates are typically sometimes twice as high or higher than home and auto loan rates. The better your credit score, the lower rate you will get. Still, those with personal loans pay a lot of end their creditors calls.

  1. Penalties for early payoff.

Some lenders charge high penalties if you pay the loan off early. Make sure to read the terms and regulations of the contract or ask your loan officer. First Financial personal loans never have penalties for early pay off.

  1. Complications that are unnecessary.

A personal loan should be simple:  you apply for a personal loan, the company pays for your debt, and in turn, you will be going to pay the company. View additional fees or meeting with bankers with suspicion.

Rewards of Personal Loan

  1. Improved credit score

The thing about having a personal loan is that it can pay off your credit card debt in no time. The credit bureaus also see this move as a commitment to pay the debt rather than escape it by going into debt settlement. This move reveals your habits of paying your debts and impresses lenders.

  1. No risked property.

A personal loan does not require property for collateral. Therefore, if you do default on it, you aren’t at risk for foreclosure or repossession.

A+ Rated First Financial Personal Loans for Borrowers of All Types, Even Bad Credit

When considering personal loans, don’t forget that online lenders have the automation and reduced overhead to offer the best loans and terms. First Financial is the national leader in providing personal loans for borrowers of all types, even bad credit borrowers. Just fill out our simple application form, and get the money in your account in a matter of days. The Better Business Bureau rates First Financial A+ because we make customer service our highest priority.

 

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