• Articles

First Financial tips for shopping

5 Top Signs It’s Time for a Personal Loan

cash from personal loan

While the prospect of a personal loan can be intimidating, trepidation didn’t stop Donald Trump, the founders of Starbucks or flamboyant Virgin Airlines owner Richard Branson when they needed funds. A short-term loan goes a long way in providing a better quality of life and setting up a flush future.

In our blog post, “When the Personal Loan Works Better than the Credit Card,” we explain that the personal loan can:

• raise a credit score
• save a borrower half in monthly interest charges when compared to credit card rates
• help borrowers plan (because the monthly payment is fixed.)

The personal loan can actually brighten your financial picture. Considered an installment loan rather than revolving credit, when you use it to consolidate credit card debt, banks see it as your dedication to paying it off rather than defaulting or going into bankruptcy in order to escape it. Experian and TransUnion often raise your credit score within a month or so. See? The personal loan isn’t so bad!

While you will be in debt with a personal loan, the regular payments (often sent automatically from your account through bill pay), help you budget better for the month. Knowing a set amount will come out of your bank account keeps your urge to splurge under control.

Now that you know the personal loan is a common way people pay for purchases and/or emergency expenses, read the following most common scenarios where people use personal loans.

1. You are paying credit card debt at the average rate of 15% or more (23%? 29%) when you can most likely get an unsecured personal loan for 7 to 10%.
2. Collections agencies are calling you about medical bills. NerdWallet Health’s survey found that 56 million Americans have trouble paying their medical bills. More frightening, 35 million American adults get collections agencies calls for them bills and they cause 17 million Americans to receive a lower credit rating.
3. Moving expenses become overwhelming. U.S. News found the average cost of a move within a state is $1,170, and between states, $5,630. These expenses are most often necessary for family members to earn a living. When a company doesn’t foot the bill, they land on individuals. Putting these expenses on credit cards just sets you up for high interest expenses. The personal loan only calculates interest on the principal amount, not the principal plus the interest the way credit cares do.
4. Your car or computer isn’t running. Unless you live in a city like New York or San Francisco that has reliable public transportation, you’re going to need a car. Even GoCars and ZipCars prices add up, particularly if used regularly. Most important, however, a car adds to your quality of life.
5. Your home equity isn’t sufficient for critical home repair expenses. Failing to qualify for a second mortgage doesn’t mean you have to go without a working water heater, air conditioner or mold remediation. All of these things are critical for your family’s health and well-being. Home prices have remained steady for several years now and chances are your home value will go up if you stay in it long enough.

It’s in these five circumstances that most Americans seek out personal loans.

A+ Rated First Financial’s Personal Loans: Manage from Home and On-the-Go!

First Financial has the most competitive rates for high-credit-score borrowers. We even welcome those with fair, poor and bad credit because they make up 56% of the current American population. Use your laptop or tablet to make payments, review statements, and update account information. You can even check your rate without impacting your credit score!

Apply now for a personal loan with First Financial, A+ rated by the Better Business Bureau!

Avoiding Car Buying Scams in 2020

One of the best ways you can learn how to avoid car buying scams will be to go to the website of the Michigan organization H.E.A.T. (Help Eliminate Auto Thefts). They have many great tips that will provide you with ideas of how to make sure if you were to say buy a car from someone off of craigslist to make sure that the deal goes down successfully with nothing fishy going on.
Some of their tips will include:

  • Meet at the S.O.S.
  • Triple check the VIN
  • Get Guaranteed Payment

In 2020 Tips For Avoiding Internet Financing Scams

Its 2020! Now this is a subject that we take extra serious ourselves since we have been working in this business for many years. There are many sites unlike ours though that really will do you no good and just steal your information and since it is very serious personal information then you can be damaged severely. This will be easy to avoid though and there are two quick things that you will be able to do that will make sure that you know you are working with someone legitimate. One thing that you will be able to do is take the business name and check it against the Better Business Bureau. This is a great way to see that it is a legitimate company and will validate that you are working with someone that is safe. If you do not want to do that kind of research then you will also be able to just check the application to make sure that it is secured. That will be one of the best ways to make sure that you keep safe when applying for an auto loan online. Before you know it you will be able to receive a great deal and hopefully you have learned something and will be safe!

Personal Loan Vs Car Loan: Whats The Difference?

Personal Loan Vs Car Loan: Whats The Difference?

Personal Loan Vs Car Loan: Whats The Difference?

personal loan vs car loan

It’s important for an individual to distinguish between a personal loan and a car loan. We share how to tell the difference between a personal loan vs car loan.

Keyword(s): personal loan vs car loan

An average new car in America will set you back $32,000. This amount is too steep for many to pay for in cash.

For most people, taking a car or a personal loan is the most viable option but which should you go for between the two?

To answer that question, it’s important to understand what each of these options entail. In this article, we shall make an analysis of personal loan vs. car loan to help you make the right choice.

Personal Loans

A personal loan is an unsecured facility that provides the borrower with funds from the lending institution. The institution is most often a bank.

The funds are advanced in a lump sum, and the borrower can channel their loan funds towards any venture they see fit. These loans typically range from $1,000 to $ 50,000.

A personal loan can also be secured, meaning you attach an asset of value to your loan. On default or inability to repay your loan, the lending institution can seize the property to recoup their funds.

However, most borrowers opt for the unsecured loan.

Interest Rate

Because of the risk involved, unsecured loans attract higher interest rates than secured ones.

Their requirements are also more stringent, with the borrower’s ability to repay and previous credit history being scrutinized.

It does not end there, the amount you qualify for, and the interest rate at which a lender advances your loan are both dependent on your credit rating.

Even though there are things you can do to improve your credit rating, you will have to contend with high interest rates if your rating is less than stellar.

Loan Term

Personal loans have a repayment period attached. The longer the repayment period, the higher the interest you will pay by the time the loan comes to term.

The reverse is also true; you pay less interest with shorter loan terms. However, you should go for these only when you are absolutely confident that you can comfortably pay the higher amounts.

Car Loan

These loans are considered a secured loan.

The security, in this case, is the car you intend to buy. If you default on your payments, the dealer repossesses the vehicle to recoup his money.

The borrower makes fixed payments over the duration of the loan. As the borrower, you take physical ownership of the vehicle, but the financier owns the asset until you make your final payment.

Interest Rate

Because the car you buy is also collateral for your loan, a car loan is deemed to be low-risk financing.

It, therefore, attracts lower interest as compared to a personal unsecured loan.
The interest rate is also fixed from the onset, cushioning borrowers from increases experienced with personal loans.

Loan Term

Most car repayment terms are under 36, 48, or 60 months. Again, the monthly payments are higher for shorter repayment terms and lower with longer repayment terms.

Conversely, the interest paid is higher for more extended repayment periods than for shorter ones.

Unlike a personal loan where your credit history features prominently, your credit rating does not significantly affect your car loan application.

Similarly, an unfavorable credit rating does not significantly impact your borrowing amount nor interest rate.

This means you can still go for a pricey car with a poor credit rating.

Personal Loan vs. Car Loan: Pros and Cons at a Glance

As already discussed, these loans have their similarities and differences. They also have their advantages and disadvantages.

Personal Loan

The merits or personal loans are two-fold.

The first is that you can use your personal loan for a car, or channel it to other uses, partially or wholly. As such, a personal loan also offers more flexibility in repayments.

Personal loans do have a downside, however.

Due to their unsecured nature, personal loans employ stricter eligibility criteria and requirements. Upon qualification, you also pay higher interest rates.
Personal loans also lock out people with poor credit scores.

Car Loan

Car loan applicants enjoy lower interest rates, with faster approval processes. If you need a car and have a poor credit history, a car loan might be the only financing option available to you.

This notwithstanding, you need to put up a deposit to get a car loan. The amount will be dictated by the total cost of the car. This can be limiting.

In addition to this, you do not fully own the car until you have made your last payment.

Tips for Shopping for Financing for a Car

Whether you go for a personal or a car loan, there are tips to help you find a good financing option.

1. Determine How Much You Can Spend

Determine how much you can afford to spend. A rule of thumb is that you should be able to repay the loan within three years.

This cuts down the amount of interest and prevents you from paying more than the real value of the car.

2. Make Loan Comparisons

Contact your local banks and credit unions to see if you can be pre-approved for a loan, and what the interest rates are.

Compare bank rates with dealership rates, and do your research on any discounts that can be offered to you.

Find out if setting up automatic loan repayments or switching banks will lower your interest rate as well.

All this information will point you towards the most affordable option.

3. Have Your Financial Information Ready

The pre-approval process may include producing proof of income documents.

Be ready with this information, as well as any other financial information that can help your loan be approved and disbursed faster.

4. Start Shopping Around

When you reach advanced stages of loan approval, you can get to the fun part, which is shopping for and test driving different cars.

A personal loan offers more leverage in terms of bargaining power on your car of choice.

Do not shy away from negotiating with a dealer either. Shop around and find out the going rate for the car you want.

If you have an older car, it might seem easier to trade it in. While this is one way to go about it, selling your old car independently will give you a better return than trading it in.

Which Should You Go For?

The key take away on the personal loan vs. car loan question is to understand the differences and measure either type of loan against your circumstances to find the best fit.

First Financial is a leading financial solution provider to people with a poor credit score. Contact us today if you are in need of a personal or a car loan.

How to Obtain No Credit Car Loans

How to Obtain No Credit Car Loans

Though good credit is valuable, is there a such thing as no credit car loans? Yes! Find out how to easily obtain an auto loan without credit experience.

How to Obtain No Credit Car Loans

Did you know that approximately 45 million Americans have no credit score at all?

If you’re part of this group, you might think that it’s impossible for you to get approved for a car loan. That’s not exactly true, though.

There are lots of loans out there designed for people with low credit scores, as well as those with no credit score.

Read on to learn more about no credit car loans and how you can increase your chances of getting approved for one.

No Credit Car Loan Minimum Qualifications

If you have a bad credit score or no credit score, you can still qualify for a car loan. You just have to make sure you meet some other basic qualifications, including the following:

  • Have a gross monthly income of at least $1,500
  • Provide proof that you are a legal U.S. or Canadian resident
  • Provide proof that you are at least 18 years of age or older

If you have filed for bankruptcy in the past, you may also need to complete some additional paperwork to show that you authorized to purchase a car.

Many car dealerships also work with specific lenders to provide financing to people who might not otherwise qualify for an auto loan.

When you begin looking to purchase a car, consider asking the lender which dealerships they work with or recommend purchasing a car from.

Increase Your Chances of Approval

If you meet these minimum qualifications, there’s a good chance your auto loan application will be approved.

There are some other steps you can take to increase your chances even more, though, including the following:

Check Your Credit History

You may think you have no credit history, but it’s a good idea to double check before you apply for an auto loan. You might find out that you do, actually have a credit score.

Checking your credit report also allows you to notice and correct any errors that might affect your credit in the future.

Set a Budget

Figure out how much money you are able to spend on a car before you apply for a loan, too.

Think, specifically, about what you can afford to spend each month on the car and insurance. Don’t forget about maintenance and gas, too.

Doing these calculations and putting together a budget first will help you figure out how much money you should ask for when you fill out your loan application.

Consider a Higher Down Payment

You’ll have an easier time getting approved for a car loan — even if you don’t have a credit score — if you’re able to put down a larger down payment.

This makes you a more credible lending candidate. It will also help to lower your monthly car payments, so it’s a good strategy for every car buyer to use.

Consider a Co-Signer

You can also increase your chances of getting approved if you find someone who can co-sign your loan.

A co-signer is someone with a high credit score who agrees to take over your loan payments if you default.

Having someone co-sign your loan can help to bring down the monthly payments and give you better terms and interest rates.

A co-signer is a great option to consider.

Just keep in mind that it’s a big responsibility, and it can be difficult to find someone who’s willing to co-sign your loan. You may have to ask a few different people before you get a “yes”.

Gather Appropriate Documents

Make sure you have all the necessary documentation ready to go when you apply for your auto loan, too.

The following are some documents that will help you make a good case for yourself and prove that you can pay back the loan:

  • A copy of your bank statement to verify your monthly income
  • Documentation of recurring bills like your cell phone or utility bills — this helps to show that you pay your other bills on time each month
  • Pay stubs or other documents that provide proof of employment

If you can provide these documents when you’re applying for a loan, you’ll have a much better chance of getting approved.

Work with an Online Lender

You can also increase your chances of having your auto loan application approved if you work with an online lender.

Online lenders are often more flexible than traditional lenders and are willing to work with a wider range of customers.

Keep in mind that online lenders also tend to have better loan terms and rates, so it’s worth working with them even if you do have a good credit score.

Tips for Building Your Credit Score

If you want to build up your credit score before you apply for a car loan, there are a few different steps you can take, including the following:

  • Make all of your loan payments on time
  • Pay your utility bills and other bills on time, too
  • Open a credit card account and pay your balance in full each month (it’s a common mistake to assume that you should carry a balance over from month to month)
  • Don’t apply for too many credit cards or loans at once (this has a negative effect on your credit score)

Once you have your auto loan application approved, you can also use that loan to build your credit score.

If you make the monthly payments on time, you’ll start building credit and will have an easier time getting approved for loans in the future. You might also be able to refinance your loan later to get better terms.

Apply for No Credit Car Loans Today

If you don’t have a credit score but need a car, you still have options (that don’t involve taking public transportation for the rest of your life).

There are lots of no credit car loans that you can apply for.

If you meet the minimum qualifications listed above and keep these other tips in mind, you’ll have a much easier time having your application approved.

Are you ready to apply for an auto loan? If so, we can help at First Financial.

Contact us today to learn more about our auto loan requirements or to fill out an application.

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.

blank

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!

 

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

blank

 

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.

blank

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.

View Post

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.

 

Know these 2019 Auto Loan Trends Before You Buy a Car

aston martin with a good auto loan

There are some pretty sweet 2019 automobiles hitting the markets right now.

Acura redesigned their luxury compact RDX. Subaru is doing it’s Outback one better with its the 3-row Ascent SUV. Pickup trucks have been re-tooled as well. The compact Ford Ranger gets a sporty new design, and Chevy has modernized its powerful Silverado.

And then there are the high-tech features!

Internet connectivity, which sounded space-age just a few years ago now comes standard on many models. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto puts a range of entertainment and navigation options at drivers’ fingertips.

But before you let these new models and technological advances bewitch you, understand the trends in 2019 auto loans so you can get a deal.

Trend:  Slowing car sales

Why?:  Millennials and urban dwellers are avoiding buying cars because they find Uber and public transportation sufficient. Millennials also put less focus on material possessions reflect status. They are not enthusiastic buyers of cars OR homes.

For You:Car manufacturers and dealers will offer more incentives. Car prices will stay steady from 2018 to 2019.

Trend:  Lower loan origination fees

Why?:  Cloud processing, automated application review, and digitized documents mean dedicated, in-house loan analysts now have to get jobs at Subway. It also means lower labor costs for lenders.

For You: In the competitive auto loan market, lenders have to compete on price. Therefore, the buyer has more power to negotiate the 1% to 2% loan origination fee.

Trend:  Eight-year car loans

Why?:  Cars are lasting longer. Toyotas and Hyundais tend to get the most praise for working well after 200,000 miles.  According to autobytel.com, however, American models like the Chevy Impala and Buick LaCrosse hold up well into the 200,000 mile range as well. “Every new car today is built to last a quarter of a million miles,” explains Mike Calkins, AAA technical services manager. Taxi drivers brag that their Priuses make it to 600,000 miles!

For You: Car buyers who like to keep their cars for a long time can get more car for their budget with an 8-year car loan. While they’ll be in for more interest payments, using that money in other better-performing investments offsets auto loan interest costs.

Trend:  Rising interest rates

Why?:  With the economy thriving, the federal reserve has raised the federal funds rate eight times since the end of the Great Recession. It’s now at 2.25%. Most economist predict “The Fed” will bump rates up three more times in 2019 and then at least once more in 2020. With a federal funds rate at 3.25%, you bet the average auto loan cost will rise.

For You:   The tricky thing is, as happens with homes, when auto loan interest rates rise, car manufacturers tend to compensate with lower prices. They know about how much their consumers can spend each month on a car payment. Still, when you go into the dealership, don’t be surprised that the 1% interest rates have disappeared.

A+ Rated First Financial Cuts Auto Loan Costs to the Bone

Are you in the market for a new or pre-owned car? Better Business Bureau, A+ rated First Financial has auto loans for all credit types, even bad credit! Since 1996, we’ve helped arrange over 1,000,000 auto loans, some with approved amounts of up to $45,000. Take three minutes to apply here for a new or used car loan at the lowest rates!

5 Best Budgeting Apps for People Living Paycheck to Paycheck

Man walking using a budgeting app

blankThese apps take a little set-up, but after that, enjoy taking the brainwork out of every spending decision. Whether you’re just trying to cut down on needless spending or saving up for a big purchase, these apps help you reach your goal quicker.

Every Dollar

Available on Android, iOS and on desktop, Every Dollar has a very simple user interface that makes budgeting simple. User can expect to take less than ten minutes setting their first budget. The service ditches spreadsheets and offers many helpful visuals so you can see where your money is going. Tracking your spending and managing your money is super convenient with the app, and it syncs across devices so whenever you open it, you’re looking at the most up to date information. Every Dollar lets you budget confidently – the app is based on a proven plan that has helped millions of people get out of debt.

Mint

Available on both iOS and Android, Mint is one of the most popular money managing apps. Users can easily view all of their bank accounts in the app and categorize all of their expenses by category, such as utilities or food. Unique to Mint is that it lets you set spending limits for each category, and will send you an alert when you are approaching the limit. Users can also get a free credit score within the app. Lastly, users should feel safe using Mint, as it was developed by Intuit and backed by their security system.

Digit

Digit it perhaps the most unique app on this list. It does the basics like connecting to your bank account and view your transaction history just like the others. What sets it apart is that it analyzes your income and spending habits over time, and by using a unique algorithm it sets aside small amounts of money into a separate “Digit savings” account that it thinks you would have spent wastefully. Many users claim it has helped them save a lot of money, but if you don’t like it you can easily transfer the money back to your checking account for no fee. Lastly, the service has a “no overdraft guarantee” and promises to not take more money than you can afford out of your account.

Level Money

Level money is a great app for people who know the importance of saving and want to do it, while also spending their hard money however they choose. Level money lets you set a savings goal for a time period and helps you plan for future expenses, like bills. The app then informs you of any money you have left over – called spendable money – and illustrates this nicely with a helpful graph. The app also has a daily spending guide to help you stay focused on your financial goals, and will alert you if you’re spending more than usual.

Spendbook

This one is only for iOS users, and will cost $1.99. Spendbook has built in expense tracking and lets you set budgets. The app is very user friendly, adding a new income stream or expense transaction can be done with just a swipe down. The app lets you take photos of receipts and items you have purchased and then categorize them. Lastly, the app gives users a daily and monthly summary of their expenses, as well as charts and infographics to help users spot trends in their spending habits and look for ways to improve.

 

5 Ways to Be Debt Free by Christmas

Family Celebrating being Debt Free

 

blankMost people have some debt, but if your situation has gotten out of hand, now is the time to figure out how you can pay it off before it gets even worse. By figuring out how much you owe, picking a strategy to pay it off, and making a couple sacrifices along the way, you could be debt free by Christmas.

Here’s how to get started:

Know how much money you owe

The first step to paying off the debt you owe is to figure out exactly how much debt you’re in. You may have avoided doing this because you’re scared of the number, but it essential as it will help you keep perspective and figure out a plan to pay it off. Gather all debts you owe, from credit cards to student loans to medical expenses, and calculate how much it all adds up to.

Develop a strategy

The next step is to develop a strategy to pay off the debt. This is important. Picking and being able to stick to a strategy will help you pay down the debt faster, while also knowing that the sacrifices you’re making to do so have a set end date, giving you some peace of mind. There are two main strategies to pay off debt: Debt avalanche and debt snowball. The first one is the fastest, and has you pay off the debts with the highest interest rates first. This can save you a lot of money over the long term, but you won’t feel much progress is being made at first.

If you feel as if you need to see yourself making progress to stick to a strategy, debt snowball is likely for you. This strategy takes the opposite approach. Arrange your debts from smallest to biggest (ignore the interest rate) and begin paying off the smallest ones first. This will help you see that you are making progress, but will likely cost you money over the long term due to interest.

 Commit a set amount of money to the debt

 Another excellent way to help you pay down your debt steadily is to set aside a set amount of money every month and put it towards the debt. Start out by calculating how much you need to spend per month on necessities (include building up an emergency fund) and then subtract that from your total monthly income to get an idea about how much you can put towards the debt every month. The higher the debt, the more of that money you will want to dedicate towards it.

Get a side job

Even with these strategies, paying off these debts is no easy task. It takes persistence and sacrifice for possibly years. One way to help you but a bigger dent in the amount you owe is to get a side job. Even if it’s just on the weekends doing something simple, you could easily find yourself with a couple extra hundred dollars at the end of every month to put towards the debt. It may not sound like a lot, but it could save you hundreds if not thousands over the long run, and you’ll have that debt paid down much quicker.

Happy debt-free people

Renting a room

When calculating your total monthly expenses, chances are the rent towards your apartment is what is eating up most of your budget. You could downsize to a smaller apartment, but this would involve lots of paperwork and being stuck there for a few years. An alternative solution is to rent out a room in someone’s house or apartment. There is little to no hassle, and with the money saved, you could put even more towards the debt or perhaps avoid getting that side job. Either way, if you owe a lot of money, this is certainly an option to look into.

 

Cash Advances: 3 Best Times to Use Them

blankEven though people love their plastic debit card, cash still serves in many situations. For years, groups have lobbied for the end to the penny and even the nickel. The American people won’t have it. Cash is convenient. It makes discounts possible. Many times, it even makes sense to get a cash advance.

Cash Only Transactions

With Craigslist, Close5 and more consumer to consumer marketplaces gaining in popularity, sellers tend to want cash. Considered, the most convenient mode of payment, they also unlock discounts. Stores that don’t take credit cards (yes there are some!) can put you through the wringer if you’re trying to write a check. Handing over cash just makes everyone happy.
Sometimes, too, vendors have a credit price and a cash price, with the cash price coming in 10 to 15% lower than credit or debit. We’ve run into this at small, independent auto and computer repair shops, as well as thrift, pawn, and antique stores. Many pet breeders also insist on getting cash.
If you’re able to pay off the cash advance within the month time frame, using a cash advance to get what you need makes sense.

To Capture an Immediate Opportunity

When an individual or company is selling something that many want, a buyer can stand out from competition by offering cash. Industries that respond well to cash offers typically include real estate, automotive, antique and jewelry.
Having cash on-hand can be smart when you’re going to shop at thrift shops, swap meets, antique stores and more. Be it from being able to have discounts off your favorite goods to grabbing an opportunity that otherwise unattainable.

Lending to a Loved One

It can be tough to lend money to family member or friend because you run the risk of not getting it back. Your borrower, particularly when struggling, may quickly put you at the bottom of the repayment list. This leads to resentment and a loss of trust.
One way to offload the responsibility is to use a cash advance and make it clear what the interest rate is and your debt to the lender. This can add the pressure to your borrower to make sure that he pays the money that he owes. This way you would be quite sure that he is certainly going to pay you back.
A very good example of this would be a typical home scenario wherein the son, employed but without a credit card, goes to you as his parent for help buying something he cannot afford in his monthly salary. To teach him a lesson about paying on time and paying regularly until such time that the debt is fully paid, make sure he understands that you will have to pay the debt soon. Even 20-year-olds need financial lessons.

Trust A+ Rated First Financial Secure and Speedy Cash Advances to Get You What You Need!

When considering a cash advance, 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 cash advances for borrowers of all types, even bad credit borrowers. The Better Business Bureau rates First Financial A+ because we make customer service our highest priority.

Where to Get On-Shore & Off-Shore Tech Support Reps

TECH support reps with headsets
blank

 Software and software-as-a-service products have been booming for the past 20 years. Anymore, it’s not just computers and cars that need software. It’s high-end coffee-makers, showers (really!), and the refrigerator. The Internet of Things (IoT) makes it so.

When these ubiquitous household devices need setting up and troubleshooting, chances are, the average American becomes incredibly FRUSTRATED. That’s when they get online with tech support.

IBISworld.com, the leading premiere business industry research website, has found that the tech support industry will grow “faster than the average for all occupation.” over the next ten years. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) concurs in its findings that computer/tech support specialist will increase 17% from through the year 2022. The U.S. Department of Labor also mentioned that the computer systems services industry is one of the economy’s “largest and fastest sources of employment growth.”[1]

If the proliferation of the Internet of Things doesn’t convince you, consider the software-as-a-service companies like DropBox, Sales Force, and Google Apps. Even Microsoft Office 365 now lives in the cloud. Downloading a $600 program will be replaced by a $20 monthly subscription that the provider hopes lasts three years or more. Where once, Photoshop and the graphic designers who used it cornered the market, today, consumers have turned to SaaS products like Canva and PicMonkey, much of which can be used for free. And yet . . . they can be confusing to a large portion of the population. U.S. based technical support services have no place to go but up.

The tech support company’s potential is most often hampered by capacity. After all, one forward-thinking entrepreneur can’t answer all the calls 24/7. Every tech support company needs a reliable workforce. Where then, can an American entrepreneur find the professionals who can help him or her competently guide consumers past their set-up instructions and general confusion? More, where can a technical support entrepreneur find people at a labor cost that will keep him or her in business.

Off-shore v. On-shore Technical Professionals

 To pay one-third or less for technical support staff, entrepreneurs must go overseas. Those who aren’t off-shore human resources specialists must depend on third parties who’ve become experts in these fields. A few include:

  • Info link– Provides resources and services for outsourcing technical product and IT support. 915-577-9466
  • Invensis Technologies– Provides outsourced contact center, help desk, IT outsourcing and business process outsourcing services globally. 302- 261-9036
  • J-Curve Technologies – Provides technical and operational callcenter outsourcing solutions. 602-792-6100
  • Nirix – Provides remote IT support, offsite data backup, on-site computer services, managed email hosting. 780-414-1556

Once these services provide you with candidates, you can vet them with you own list of questions. We suggest choosing from the following:

  • What makes you a superior technical support specialist?
  • How do you approach customer service?
  • How do you calm upset, frustrated customers?
  • What positive or negative feedback from a customer has made you a better tech support specialist?
  • What has been your best strategy when you don’t know the answer to a question?
  • How would you go about becoming a subject matter expert for your employer?
  • Scenario: “My software isn’t _________________. How would you help me fix it.”

A+ Rated First Financial Helps Tech Support Companies Stay in Business

Anymore, every business owner must be able to process credit and debit cards via the internet, particularly tech support.

If you’ve learned that banks consider your tech support business to be high-risk, you may have to consider alternative merchant services providers to make monthly payments possible. With lower marketing costs and overhead, reliable internet merchant services providers provide all the traditional bank safety at reasonable rates.

Aware that categorization as high-risk can be arbitrary, First Financial specializes in these cutting-edge, often new, industries. The computer hardware industry was once considered high-risk because banks considered PCs and Macs unproven. Now every family has one or more for each member! Apply for our tech support merchant services today here!

[1] Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Computer Support Specialists, on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/computer-support-specialists.htm

Get Customers’ Contact Info During Busy Holiday Season and Win All Year

Two women shopping
blank ‘Tis the season when throngs of holiday shoppers inevitably create increased traffic to your retail or internet-based business. Did you realize that 40% of U.S. consumers plan to spend more even more on their holiday shopping in 2015 than they did last year? It would be a waste NOT to grab those customers’ contact information, so that in the future those same customers can continually be reminded of your products or service. How can you acquire your customers’ coveted contact information without seeming pushy? It’s easy, if you follow these five simple
suggestions.

1. Have a raffle contest
Is there a particularly popular item that your customers are craving? Offer it up as a raffle prize! You can also offer up gift cards or perhaps “50% off!” offers as potential prizes. Have entry forms available for customers to fill out, and then ask for their email and/or home address. You can also hand the entry forms to your customers after they make a purchase. (Be sure to include some text on the form indicating that the customer, by filling it out, is giving your store permission to contact him or her in the future.)

2. Provide email-only coupon deals
Consider placing sign-up sheets in various spots within your retail shop for customers to fill out in order to receive online-only emailed coupons. You can even consider providing a monthly e-newsletter if time permits, in which your customers will be guaranteed exclusive savings if they sign up. This is also a great opportunity for you to tout those new products, and build up momentum for future sales.

3. Have a holiday-themed coloring contest for children
Parents are overjoyed to include their offspring into the joy of the season. This is why you should have a holiday-themed coloring contest where children can color in a picture of, perhaps, a snowman holding your product, or even a Santa figure touting your service. In the event that a particular child should win the coloring contest, parents will be required to fill out their contact information on the lower corner of the coloring sheet, including their email address and phone number. Voila! You now have your customers’ contact information.

4. Encourage your customers to post their holiday photos with your product.
Did you know it is predicted that by 2016, 25% of all retail ecommerce sales in the U.S. will take place through a mobile devices? Take advantage of those cell phone-savvy customers by encouraging them to post their selfies with your product onto your social media locations (i.e., Facebook/Instagram/company website). You can even provide a fun holiday-themed store backdrop for these customers pose in front of. If it’s an online business, ask your customers to post a photo of them holding your product while wearing an “ugly Christmas sweater,” for example. You can then get their coveted cell phone numbers or email addresses, and send them special deals in the future.

5. Just ASK for your customer’s contact information when completing a sale.
Be vocal and ask your customers for their contact information when you’re completing their sale, so that they can receive special discounts or freebies. You don’t want to be too pushy, though, if they refuse. Also, once you get their contact information, don’t go overboard with the email offers. The a monthly or quarterly email deal should suffice. If you overdo those emails, your customers will simply delete all future emails from your business. So exercise good judgment when it comes to making follow-up calls and/or emails.

Gifts Online Shopping Ordering Internet Shop Concept
First Financial Will Help Your Business Attract New Customers this Holiday Season

Take advantage of the holiday crowds, and parlay those customers into future shoppers that will continue to be excited about your products or services. As long as you get their contact information, your business can continue to remind these customers about the wonderful merchandise you carry. First Financial can help your business grow. We are the nation’s leading provider of merchant accounts, particularly for the high-risk borrowers. Apply for a small business merchant advance here. It only takes a few minutes. You can also follow First Financial on Facebook for even more tips on how to successfully

First Financial

First Financial® Corporate Headquarters: 2850 Womble Road Suite 100-604 San Diego, CA 92106

Client Service Center:  Main: 1-800-315-7791 Fax: 1-800-215-0217 (Monday–Friday 5:00am–6:00pm Pacific or 8:00am–9:00pm Eastern)

First Financial® is a Federally Registered Trademark

©2020 First Financial®, All Rights Reserved. All other products and company names are trademarks of their respective companies.