Financial Guides

My Personal Finance Blog

Things You Should Know About Personal Loans

October 8th, 2014

Applying for a personal loan is a great solution if you need help with financing an important project. A personal loan can also help you get out of a bad situation if you need cash quickly and can afford to pay the loan back. Borrowing money is an important responsibility and you should learn more about personal loans before considering applying for one.

Getting a personal loan will be easier if you have a good credit score. Consider building your credit score by applying for a small loan first or by using credit cards for a while. If you do not have enough time to build your credit score, you will have to use one of your belongings as a collateral for your loan. Most loan provider will accept your vehicle as a collateral but you will not be able to borrow more than your vehicle is worth. Using another valuable item can be an option depending on the loan provider you choose.

Personal Loans

You should assess how much money you need to borrow. Money lenders might try convincing you to borrow more than you need so they can earn more from interests and other fees. Your loan will be much easier to pay back if you borrow as little as possible, even if borrowing more means getting a lower interest rate. Remember that the best way to get out of debt is to make your payments on time and pay your loan back as quickly as possible. Your personal loan payments should correspond to your budget or your financial situation will become worse.

It is very important to borrow from a licensed professional. Loan providers can obtain a license by agreeing to follow certain guidelines designed to protect consumers. A licensed loan provider has to clearly explain their fee structure and must offer reasonable interest rates. You are taking the risk of being charged hidden fees and facing illegal repossession methods if you borrow from someone who is not properly licensed. Ask your loan provider for their license number and contact the organization that issued the license to make sure it is still valid.

Calculate how much your personal loan will cost you. You need to make sure the monthly payments will fit within your budget before borrowing the money. If you do not have a way to pay the loan back, it is best not to borrow the money. Making your payments on time should be a priority since late fees and interest rates can add up quickly. If you have to borrow money at a high interest rate because of your bad credit, you should try paying the loan back in one or two large payments to prevent interests from adding up.

Do not apply for a loan without learning more about the terms and conditions. Licensed money lenders have to go over terms and conditions with you but you should not hesitate to ask questions if there is something you do not fully understand. Doing some background research about the loan providers you are interested in is a great way to avoid issues and make sure you understand the conditions you are agreeing to. Keep in mind that submitting your application often means agreeing to the terms and conditions. If you decide to borrow money from a loan provider that operates over the Internet, talk to them on the phone first so you can ask questions.

These tips will help you find a good personal loan. Take the time to compare your options and learn more about interest rats or fees before applying for a loan. Keep in mind that borrowing money is a good financial decision if the loan can help you improve your situation and if you can afford to pay the loan back on time. You could end up in a worse financial situation if you are not careful and borrow money you cannot afford to pay back. Do more research on different loan providers before applying for personal loans and try improving your credit score if you can. Do not hesitate to have a friend or a relative help you find a good loan provider if you need to.

Help With Debt Consolidation

September 4th, 2014

Assuming you took advantage of a student loan, you could already be in debt the minute that you graduate from college. Those student loans are the beginning of your credit history building and unless you are extremely careful, you might end up with more credit than you can actually afford to pay once you land a job. But whether or not you are fresh out of college, there are instances when wrong financial decisions lead to disasters.

If you find yourself dealing with mounting debt, it takes a bit of analysing your situation and knowing which solution applies to your particular case. One type of solution that you can go for is to seek help with debt consolidation. Read on to find out more about how it works, what to look for in a debt company and how you can use it to hopefully put an end to your money woes.

Help with Debt Consolidation – What Is It?

First, when you seek help with debt consolidation, what kind of assistance is it that you are looking for? As the name implies, the process of consolidation is a type of financial solution for those who are in debt. Let us say that you have three credit cards and you are unable to pay at least the minimum amount on all of them. If this is the case, getting help with debt consolidation means that you will hire the services of a professional debt management company.

Debt Consolidation

Getting help with debt consolidation is bound to lower the monthly payments as well as the interest rates once the three debts that you owe from three credit card companies have been negotiated with. One thing you need to watch out for is that the longer the debt stays, the more that you are paying your lender, so make sure that it really is an ideal debt solution for you before going for it.

A Closer Look At How Debt Consolidation Works

Now, let us take a deeper look at how debt consolidation works. Although you do have the option of taking out a second mortgage or taking advantage of credit card offers, what is usually the best way to consolidate your loans is through the help of a bank or a finance company. Here is a quick list of what the bank or finance company can do for you:

5 Tips for Throwing a Party on a Budget

May 19th, 2014

1. Invite people to bring their own

This could be the common practice of asking friends to bring ‘what you like to drink’ but you can add a really nice vibe to the affair by asking people to create something special and bring it along e.g. bake a cake to be judged alongside everyone else’s in the style of X Factor, or ‘everyone has at least one dish they’re a master of making, cook your speciality and bring it along and it will be swapped with another random party-goer – like a Secret Santa for dinner!’

2. Bulk out a buffet with cheap carbs that everyone loves

Whether it’s roast potatoes, rice, bruschetta, pasta or toasted pitta fingers everyone loves bulky carbs (unless they’re gluten-free or strict dieters) and these are by far the cheapest ingredients to buy and often the easiest to prepare.

3. Take time to prepare

As with your own food, a little time up front can save lots of money on pre-prepared food and will certainly result in tastier, healthier food. Don’t waste money on pre-cut vegetables, boil in the bag rice or pre-made mashed potatoes. Not only will people know (if they eat fresh food at home they definitely will!) but you’ll feel much better about your nibbles knowing you hand-crafted them.

4. Entertain with food-making

Have a themed night e.g. Mexican, and set out a table to create your own burritos. This requires rice, salsa, guacamole, black beans and chicken with a vegetarian alternative e.g. roast veg or Quorn pieces. You can ask people to bring Mexican drinks (tequila, beer, lemonade etc) to keep the costs low. This can work with many cuisines including Italian pizza, Chinese stir-fry or English sandwiches. Let your imagination run wild and create a memorable party!!

5. Plan with a budget

The first thing you have to do before you start is decide what you can afford to spend. Sounds obvious but many people neglect this crucial step and end up overspending. Once you know what you can afford you can work out the cost per person based on how many people are coming. The next step is to deduct the fixed, non-food costs as these are easier to calculate i.e balloons, disposable cutlery/crockery (only if you need it as it’s an expensive luxury!) and drinks. Whatever you have left will dictate the food you’ll be offering guests. As we said above, if you’re left with very little cash, cheap foods like potatoes, rice and pasta are often the most popular. Vegetables and meat are often cheaper if they’re in season and can be much cheaper from local stores.

Once you’ve settled the financial side of your party planning, the important thing is to have fun and rest easy knowing that the financial stress has been taken out by a little planning in advance.

Making Money in the Recession

April 1st, 2014

While a country is in recession it can be difficult to imagine that it is possible to make more money than you are. You may think that there is just not the opportunity out there. It is true, that it will be tough to do so, but it is possible still. There are a series of things you can try, listed below.

-        Ask for a pay rise – it is possible to ask for a pay rise but you may be worried that this is just not possible. However, as long as you have not asked too recently, it is worth checking. Your manager can only say ‘no’ in the worst instance. You will not be punished for it and there is always the chance that they may say yes.

Recession

-        Work more hours – It is possible that you may be able to get more work at your current job in order to bring in more money. It is worth asking whether this is possible, perhaps to get some overtime or to increase your part-time hours. This may not be available immediately, but showing an interest could help you if the opportunity does arise and so it is always worth making your manager aware that you are happy to do this.

-        Get a second job – working extra hours may be something that some people cannot do. This might be because of child care issues, for example. However, it is worth considering whether you do have the time to fit in some extra time for work. You will need to let your current employer know that you are working two jobs and get in touch with the tax office so that they put you on the right tax code as a second job may be taxed too highly otherwise. Even a few evenings a week or a weekend day, could really help to bring in more money.

-        Work for yourself – this is something that you are wise to do in your spare time if you already have a job, but could be something you could full-time if you do not have a job. There are a lot of opportunities out there for self-employment. You will need to tell your employer and the tax office though. You could deliver catalogues and get commission on sales, you could do freelance work from home or buy and sell things to make money. With the Internet, there are many opportunities to work for yourself and they do not have to cost very much money.

-        Sell things  - you could sell unwanted items to raise some extra cash. You could do this online through an auction website, for example or use classifieds, or a car boot sale. There are many ways that you can sell and you do not have to declare this income to the tax office, if the things that you are selling were yours originally.

-        Voluntary Work – obviously voluntary work does not pay, but sometime sit can lead to paid work. It is also useful because it will give you something to put on your CV so that future employers can not only see that you have been learning new skills, but that you have not just been wasting time while not in paid employment.

Some Myths About Personal Finance

January 5th, 2014

Since everyone is involved in personal finance, it is inevitable that the world is full of myths and mistruths about personal finance. So many people are looking for an easy angle and a way to avoid the responsibility of dealing with their finances. Let’s take a look at some common myths and see how true they really are (hint – not very true at all).

1. I’m not 18 yet, so they can’t make me be responsible for my debts

Wrong. Very wrong, in fact. You can’t sign a legal contract before you are 18, so you can’t sign up for a credit card of your own or get a loan. That doesn’t mean that you can run up your bill if you do have a credit card, though. In order for a teen to get a card they need an adult to co-sign. That adult will be responsible for the debt which is racked up by the teen. For most people it would be worse to hang your parents with a debt than it would be to run one up for yourself.

myths

2. It is safer if I don’t sign my credit card

Also wrong. Someone must have thought that not signing your card would protect you from identity theft because the bad guys who got their hands on your card wouldn’t know what your signature looked like. Unfortunately, whoever came up with that theory wasn’t very bright. They won’t know what your signature looks like, but they can just sign it themselves instead. That way, when they go on a spending spree their signature on the bill will perfectly match the one on the card and they will have a whole bunch of new stuff. You will only be left with the bill for all of it.

3. Easy money can be made helping foreigners with their banking problems

Really, really wrong. You may have seen the offer and it probably sounded pretty good. Someone in another country (often Nigeria) is having trouble getting a whole bunch of money out of the country because their government won’t let them remove it. If you will help them by putting the money into your bank account and then letting them transfer it to another account then they will leave behind a big sum of money as a reward for your troubles. So what’s the problem? Well, they want you to give them all of your banking information so that they can put the money in your account and take it out afterwards. The thing is, they just use the information you give them to empty out your account of all of your money and then they disappear so you can’t track them down.

Should You Save Your Money Or Pay Off Your Debt?

December 10th, 2013

If you’re lucky enough to have money left over at the end of the month or if you get a bonus through from work, what should you do with the extra money?  Of course, many people will be tempted to spend it on nice things like clothes or gadgets, but realistically the two best options for that money would be to either use it to pay off some of your debt or put it away as savings.

What would be the best option?

Saving Money

One of the biggest arguments for saving your money is that you are covered should a financial emergency pop up. Also, by doing this, you could try to prevent getting into debt in the future. However, the difficulty with doing this and not paying off your debt, is that the interest on things like credit cards will increase, leaving you paying off more money that you might have done before.

Paying Off Your Debt

Paying off your debts is important as the longer you leave it, the more interest you will pay, so it’s a good idea to get rid of the debts as quickly as possible.

However, if you decide to use the money to pay off your debt, you could leave yourself at risk if a financial emergency appears. If an unexpected expense does pop up, then you might find yourself relying on credit cards to cover the costs, which could make the debt worse.

Pay Off Your Debt

Why Not Try Both?

I think realistically, it’s important to do both. It’s a good idea to be able to find a good balance between paying off your debts, but trying to set some aside in case of emergencies. So, maybe if for example, you were lucky enough to be given a £500 bonus at work, then it might be worth putting £250 into a savings account

Obviously, this does depend on your circumstances, as most people aren’t lucky enough to have money left over at the end of the month. If your debts are more urgent, like a utility bill and you don’t have any spare case and don’t want to use credit cards, what are your options?

If you have no emergency fund and an unexpected finance does come up, then you might consider a short term loan like a payday loan. It’s possible to apply for anything from as little as £50 to as much as £1250, which you borrow until your next payday.

Are You Ignoring the Power of an ISA – Here’s Why You Should Get in the Action Now

November 22nd, 2013

An ISA account isn’t very glamorous, but it is reliable. In an era where people are trying out a lot of different alternatives to make a little more profit on their money, there is a growing movement that is desperate to get people to go back to the basics.

What is an ISA account? If you’re just looking into this, here’s the quick rundown that you need. Basically, this is a savings account that has tax benefits if you use it. It allows you to save money in a way that is advantageous to you tax wise. The money that you make on the ISA isn’t taxed, and the money that you put in is spared from taxes. Given that the government is basically giving you encouragement to save, you might as well do what you can right?

You can open an ISA account from age 16 and over, which gives you plenty of time to let your money grow. The Government is really serious about people doing more with the ISA, because it’s such a great way to build the future while still saving money on their taxes. Nationwide UK did some research and discovered that the Government receives an extra 500 million pounds in terms of tax revenue just because people don’t put enough into their ISA accounts. That’s definitely something that needs to change, and it has to change in a big way. It’s only going to start moving in a positive direction once people start seeing it as something that they need to do.

Power of an ISA

There is a limit that you need to respect, and it includes both parts of the allowance for the ISA. There’s a cash ISA side, and a stocks and shares ISA side. Both sides come up to 11,620 GBP for the current tax year. You should always check year to year, because the allowance changes and you want to make sure that you maximize the tax benefits.

If you want to maximize your ISA, some experts say that you should focus more on the stocks and shares (S&S) side than the cash ISA side. However, you should keep in mind that you can lose your money on the stocks and shares side. You’re not guaranteed to get an increase on your money. However, you can also get a lot more than you might expect, versus the cash ISA side. Either way, you don’t have to report your ISA savings to the Government for tax purposes, as long as you follow the rules.

Let Yourself Find Financial Peace!

November 6th, 2013

One of the resolutions we had this year was to write more about the mental side of personal finance, something that doesn’t get talked about as much. It’s true — unless you have your mind in the right place, you can get all of the advice in the world can still be in the same place financially. It’s sad, but its’ really true. You just need to make sure that you’re thinking about the bigger picture as much as possible. You can’t just sit there and think that there’s no way that you are ever going to be able to afford to fix your finances. That’s negative thinking, and in this arena…negative thinking can actually cost you big time. You start thinking that there’s no hope for you, and then you literally start living like there’s no hope for you ever. You can’t find yourself making that type of mistake. It just doesn’t allow you to get the type of happiness that you set out to receive in life.

Nobody wakes up as a child and thinks that they’re going to grow into a world filled with struggle. But the world isn’t fair, and that’s what happens sometimes. Sometimes we don’t get to go off to University, and we have to take a job to take care of our family. Or maybe our parents die before we even become an adult, and we have to live with grandparents that we don’t like, or aunts and uncles that have never visited us. They want to do the right thing, but they were busy living the high life found when you don’t have children. They never realized that they would have to take in their sister or brother’s children. Resentment often sets in, making life very hard.

Financial Peace

But what about when love turns sour? You start thinking about this big, brave world where you and your spouse are going to take over everything. There will be love and happiness, right? The reality is that you’re going to find that you will have to think carefully about what you will accept and what you will refuse. If you’re someone that isn’t going to take something laying down, then you have a lot of trouble waiting for you. Marriage is about compromise. When the wedding cake has been eaten and all of the fanfare has gone away, you’ll find that you’re going to be in for a big shock over time. There’s nothing like making sure that you have things laid out in a certain way.

Of course, this brings us to the financial blueprint, but not yet. You have to stop and realize that you’re worth it. It can be hard to hear that. When I was growing up, I didn’t get told that I was really worth it. Believe it or not, that soaked its way into our finances. I started thinking that there wasn’t any point for me to really do anything in life, because nobody would take me seriously. I wasn’t worth it. So instead of fighting for promotions at work — I just let other people step in. By the time I realized that I was a pretty good person, there weren’t any posts available for me to take on! That was a pretty miserable experience, and one that I never, ever want to repeat if I can help it.