The Best Ways to Save Money this Fall

SAVE MONEY THIS FALL

Changes in season inevitability bring new expenses. While autumn leaves are a beautiful sight to behold, the beginning of school, cooler weather, and holiday shopping all lead to higher bills during this season. Save money this fall with these tips!

 

Weatherproofing your home is one long-term method to save month. Because the temperature starts to drop in the fall, many homes experience a higher heating bill. Weatherproofing your home will cost you upfront, but you will save money in the long run, especially throughout the winter!

 

Eating out is one expense that many families tend to overlook. Dining at restaurants or ordering takeout adds up very quickly. Save money and eat healthier by preparing more meals at home. Plenty of delicious fruits and vegetables come into season in the fall including butternut squash, artichokes, pumpkins, apples, and sweet potatoes. Creating a meal plan can help you stay on track during the week!

 

Take advantage of fall sales. Holidays like Columbus Day, Halloween, Veteran's Day, Black Friday, and Small Business Saturday offer plenty of opportunities to purchase products at a discounted price. Waiting for an item to go on sale during one of these days can save you a bundle.

 

Fall is also known as football season by some. Enjoy the games on a budget by purchasing team gear in the off-season and hosting potlucks during game-time instead of purchasing food. 

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Car Loans 101

Car Loans 101

Purchasing a car is a huge expense, one that often requires a loan. While securing a car loan is relatively easy, the many steps involved may make it confusing for a first-time buyer. The following is a quick breakdown of the basics behind a car loan.

 

What is a Car Loan Exactly?

A car loan is a loan specifically for the purpose of purchasing a car and is composed of two parts: the principal amount and interest. Principal is the total amount taken out for the loan whereas interest is accrued on that amount. Some loan terms may require you to pay interest owed on the loan amount, but you may be able to find a 0% financing deal.  

 

Because a car loan is for quite a large sum of money, paying one back often takes a long time. Thus, car loans are referred to in terms of months, whether that is 12 months of 72. Deciding between a short term plan with high payments versus a long term play with small payments depends on your own unique financial situation.

 

When to Get a Car Loan?

Interested in getting a car? You may not know, but you should always shop for a car loan before looking for the perfect car. Your bank may offer you a good rate as you are already an established customer. If you are not satisfied with your bank's rate, a credit union is the next place to look. The only drawback to credit union is that you often need to be a member before you can take out a loan. If you are a homeowner you may want to consider taking out a home equity loan in order to pay for your car with cash. 

 

Lastly, auto manufacturers also provide in-house financing companies, particularly at new car dealerships. These companies are likely to offer you the best rate as they ultimately want you to purchase their brand's cars. If, however, you are looking to purchase a used car, steer away from these companies. For used cars you will likely get a rate that benefits the dealership rather than you. 

 

How Long to Pay a Car Loan?

There are short term and long term loans. Both have their advantages and disadvantages depending on your financial situation. A long term loan will mean reduced monthly payments but more interest payments. A short term loan will mean less interest but higher payments each month, something that not everyone can afford. The best type of loan is a 0% financing loan, in which case your monthly payment will be the same no matter how many months the loan is. 

 

Be sure to check what your loan says about buyouts. If you come into enough money to pay off the principal loan, you don't want to be charged an "early payout fee". This type of fee is sometimes included in a loan's terms to make up the loss of the interest that occurs when you pay off the loan ahead of schedule. 

Source: http://www.autoguide.com/auto-news/2014/11/car-loans-101-what-you-need-to-know-about-financing-a-car.html

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Different Methods to Fund Your Start Up

Launching a startup can be both an exciting and a daunting task. A brilliant idea can turn into a flourishing business but laying the foundation demands a hefty amount of investment. Balancing a great idea and finances is crucial to ensuring that your business does not run itself into the ground. There are many different ways to fund your business but not every method is appropriate for every potential business. 

 

Different loans will have varying degrees of usefulness to you depending on your unique financial situation. A home equity loan or line of credit may be best for you if you are a homeowner who already has 20-30% equity in the home at the minimum. If you are interested in this type of loan, you will also need a 650+ credit score. A home equity loan will enable you to borrow 80-90% of your home's equity with a 3-8% APR.  This type of loan is especially beneficial because of its low interest rates. However, do not make this loan lightly as you run the risk of losing your home if you are unable to pay back the loan. 

 

A personal loan is another option you may consider for bringing your startup to life. A 650+ credit score will enable you to borrow up to $40k with a 5-20% APR. If you qualify, you will likely receive funding in less than 1 week. Additionally, this loan is an appealing choice for many because you can receive funding pre-revenue. On the other hand, you must bear in mind that this loan is limited to $40k, making it preferable for those seeking a relatively lower investment to launch their business.

 

Networking has often been touted as an invaluable tool in the business arena and starting up a new business is no exception. If you have a willing family member, friend, or acquaintance that believe in you and your business's ability to succeed and has the funds then all you have left to do is put it in writing. Be sure to determine a workable interest rate as well as a cap on funding amounts in order to ensure that the loan is fair to both you and the person funding you. This type of loan has the potential to be tricky since it involves personal relationships and and failure to pay back the loan would result in emotional as well as financial repercussions. 

 

Crowdfunding is another alternative to conventional loans to start up your business. There are a number of sites you can use to explain and promote your cause and such sites allow you to persuade a large number of people to invest a small amount of money each into your business. The crowdfunding model means that there are no minimum or maximum funding amounts,  no interest rates, and no debt to pay off, making it an ideal option for would-be business owners.  However, crowd-funding works on an all-or-nothing basis, meaning that you either reach your monetary goal or you do not. You may also need to deal with many legal regulations if you choose to utilize this means of funding.

 

Having a great idea but limited funds shouldn't stop you from bringing your ideas to life. Find the method of funding that works best for your situation and move one step closer to starting your business. 

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What Not to Do While House Hunting

on't just pick up the phone, call the number on the sign, and go by yourself. First, it's unsafe. Second, you can end up looking at a bunch of properties that don't meet your search criteria or price range, wasting your time. Third, it can make sellers think you are unrepresented and, thus, that they have the greater bargaining leverage from the get-go. Let your Realtor do her job; if you drive by an interesting property your Realtor hasn't mentioned to you, call your Realtor with the property address and phone number from the sign, and let her research the asking price and property details, nine times out of 10, your Realtor hasn't sent it to you because the property doesn't meet one or more of your search criteria. The 10th time out of 10 - your Realtor can escort you there and show it to you while the seller is out of the house, and out of your hair.

Don't plan something for two hours later. You don't want to rush, you want to linger where necessary. Plus, if you find one you really like, you might spend more time there. And, with drive time, etc., it can easily take three hours to see seven houses - not to mention that you may find one you want to immediately write an offer on, which will take another hour or so.

Avoid taking separate cars on your buyer's tours. Every once in awhile a hot property will come up, your Realtor will call you from work, and you can meet her there. If you are going to be driving from house to house, get in the car with your Realtor -- even if it means you have to put the baby seat in your Realtor's car. This way, you don't get separated, no one gets lost, and you can spend the time between houses debriefing and providing your Realtor with the feedback she needs to narrow your search and hone in on your home.

Don't bring a triple Venti mocha frap with you on your buyer's tours. How can I say this? Uh, you don't want to be using everyone's bathroom, if you know what I mean -- especially if people still live in the house. Vacant houses are the best ones for pit stops, but because everyone knows that, they are also the most likely to have nothing in the way of toilet paper except a cardboard roll with a couple of spots of paper still stuck to the glue.

Plus, coffeehouse drinks usually have coffee and milk, not the most gastro-friendly substances. If you need to, plan ahead to stop in the middle of the tour for a snack and a pit stop, and do feel free to bring a bottle of water.

Don't wear lace-up shoes. Slip-ons, flip flops, etc. are ideal. Many well-prepared homes will have new carpet, and often the listing agent will have posted a "please remove shoes" sign to help keep the flooring clean. Having to untie and tie your shoes at every house can be a huge waste of time and really anti-climatic when you get to the front door of a house you really want to see. Note-those paper booties some "shoes off, please" agents provide can be slippery. Avoid them; if you can't stand the idea of walking barefoot through a house, make sure you wear socks with your slip on shoes.

Don't hesitate to look in drawers, cupboards and closets. If you really dislike a place, you needn't get really detailed in your viewing of a property. But if you don't hate it, you should open every door. I've had clients miss whole rooms and large storage areas by not opening a door they assumed went to a closet. Besides, you need to know how wide and deep the real closets are, which you can't find out without opening the door and having a look. If you really like a place, you should also open kitchen and bathroom drawers, cupboards and cabinets. You're not being nosy, you're gathering information. Rest assured that the sellers have had ample notice to straighten up those spaces in anticipation of your poking around.

Hold the trash talk. Sellers may be listening. I wish I was kidding, but often the seller just steps outside or next door. (I once represented a kooky seller who walked around with her purse on during the Open House "ooh"ing and "aah"ing like she was a prospective buyer.) And they don't always understand that it's the most interested buyers who pick the place apart to figure out exactly what they will need to do to it to make it theirs. If you end up in a multiple offer situation, you don't want to have an uphill battle because you badmouthed the sequined butterfly "artwork" the seller had hanging in the hallway. So, if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all. Until you get in the car, and roll up the windows - then you need to let it rip so your agent can learn your likes and dislikes.

Don't think you can offend your Realtor. I always remind my clients that the house I'm showing them is not my house. So, if you like it, that's great. But if you hate anything about it, don't hesitate to say so. Don't be timid or polite and omit a criticism or concern you have. Doing so can result in you seeing more of the same, which is a waste of everybody's time.

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Tips for Saving on Books for College Students

Every college student must buy books. You’ve probably heard horror stories of textbook “final bills.” Well, we have options that will save you money on your textbooks. Make sure to allow yourself time; don’t wait to run to the bookstore the day before your class begins.

  1. Before you even think about putting out money for a textbook, don’t you think someone else on campus had to already have one? Borrow if it’s possible.
  2. If you can’t borrow, buy used college textbooks. On sites like Amazon used hardcover books are often cheapest. Soft cover are more valued for convenience, so if you’re willing to haul a couple extra ounces, then hardcover is the cost-saving choice. ISBN allows you to easily compare book prices from major online book stores. The campus bookstore will sell a supply of used books, but they are limited; so check the online sources as well.
  3. If you are buying new, check for an “international” edition. The book will be almost exactly the same, except for maybe some Chinese characters on the front, AND it will be exponentially cheaper.
  4. Have your own store of used textbooks?
    • See your used textbooks online and make some cash for yourself, at the same time you will help some other starving students save their money.
    • Or you can sell them back to the campus bookstore, but expect to take a big hit on the value if you sell them back to the book store. Some sneaky students wait in the campus bookstore with their old books in hand, trying to connect with new students that need their books, hoping to strike a better payout directly.
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5 Simple Steps to Acing Your Next Loan

These 5 steps will help you ace your next loan.

Here's what you need to know.

Step 1: Check your credit report

Your credit report is a blueprint of your financial life.

 

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If you are not regularly monitoring your credit report, it should be your first stop when you are declined for a loan.

Check your credit report for accuracy to ensure that an error is not the reason for the decline.

Under federal law, you are entitled to view your credit report every 12 months from each of the three credit bureaus: Experian, TransUnion and Equifax. 

If you find an error, you should report it to the relevant credit bureau(s) immediately so that it can be corrected.

Your credit score will not improve over night, but the sooner you take action, the better.

Step 2: Diagnose the problem

After checking your credit report, diagnose the reason why you were declined for a loan.

Each lender has its own eligibility criteria, underwriting requirements and approval processes.

For example, with student loan refinancing, some common reasons for denial may be insufficient income, high debt-to-income ratio, low credit score or poor financial track record.

Lenders want you to demonstrate a history of financial responsibility.

Lenders are in the risk mitigation business. They want borrowers who will repay their loans in full, on-time and with no issues.

Your credit score is one tool to measure your financial health. If your credit score is too low, it may be one reason for the denial.

So what can you do improve to strengthen your credit profile?

Step 3: Improve your credit score

 

If your credit profile needs improvement, take proactive steps to improve your financial track record.

Your credit score is critical because it may determine whether you qualify for a student loan, mortgage, auto loan or credit card.

Your credit score also may be used when you apply for insurance, rent an apartment or purchase a cell phone.

To demonstrate financial responsibility, pay your bills in full and on-time.

If you have a delinquent payment, pay off the balance. To avoid a late or missing payment each month, enroll in autopay with your service provider.

Do not open or close multiple credit cards at once, since they can result in several hard inquiries on your credit score, which can adversely impact your credit score.

Keep your credit utilization – which is the proportion of your credit card balance as a percentage of your credit line – low.

A good rule of thumb is 30% credit utilization; the lower the utilization, the better.

 

Adapted from Forbes.com 

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College Students: Go Beyond the Classroom and Make Smart Financial Decisions Now

Straddling that line between teenager and adult can be difficult to manage for some students. College may be their first time away from home, which adds to the stress of managing a budget, paying bills and making decisions that will directly impact their future. For many, it is tempting to rack up debt now and worry about it later. College should be fun, but it’s also vital that students start thinking about their future and what life will be like after graduation.

Vikki Feggulis, a 2013 graduate of Utica College, said that while in college she watched many of her friends be carefree with their money. “It was really tempting to do that too, especially with the stress of school mounting,” says Feggulis. “But I recognized that working hard, getting out of school as fast as I could and being mindful of my finances would put me in the best spot upon graduation.”

It is not possible for every student to graduate from college debt free. However, it is crucial to make smart financial decisions while still in school to limit the financial burden as much as possible, as this will have a direct and lasting impact on your financial health for the rest of your life.

Maintain a Source of Income

Even with loans, grants, scholarships, or all of the above, some students may still need additional sources of income while in school. Getting a job will not only provide some much needed income, but could also give students an opportunity to beef up their resume and get some real life experience that will help them land their dream job upon graduation.

Find a job that you know will be flexible with your class schedule. Working at night or on weekends will allow you to attend class and leave time for homework. Students should also make the most out of Christmas and summer breaks, working as much as possible so they can save money for the rest of the school year.

Colleges and universities offer a number of opportunities to work on campus. Students can serve as research assistants, clerical assistants, tutors and more. Some of these positions may even allow students to earn credits toward graduation and get paid. Looking for a job related to your major will increase your chances of getting an internship and send you to the top of the list when you start applying for jobs after graduation. Another added bonus to working on campus is that most of these positions find it perfectly acceptable to complete school work if you have down time.

Feggulis says, “I’ve been working at least one job at all times since I was 15. I (worked) every holiday weekend, winter break and summer break.” She also had a number of jobs that helped ease the cost of her education. “I took a paid internship in NYC and... held an internship position at a local radio station, which was related to my major and allowed me to make extra money. I also tutored and was a resident assistant, which covered my housing costs and provided a small stipend.”

Use Credit Carefully

A line of credit can be great when you’re strapped for cash or want to earn rewards for your purchases; however, credit cards aren’t the ideal source of funds while in school. It’s easy to wrack up a large balance, but not so easy to pay it off, especially if you carry a balance. After graduation, when payments on student loans begin, a credit card payment can be an unnecessary burden.

If students do use credit cards, they should learn to manage them responsibly and use them for the sole purpose of building their credit so they have good to excellent credit upon graduation. Students should never use credit cards as a source for paying their tuition. Student loan interest rates are 2-4 times less than credit card interest and credit cards also charge, on average, a convenience fee of 2.62 percent to process student loan payments.

Before opening a credit card, students should understand how credit cards and credit scores work. Most importantly, they should have a firm understanding that whatever you charge on a credit card has to be paid back, and it can be very difficult to pay back large balances that have a high interest rate.

There are a variety of trusted sources that can provide consumers with information about understanding credit scores. Wells Fargo has a comprehensive resource section for learning about credit scores and building healthy credit. Pathway to Financial Successand Cash Course also offer information that is specific to students and can help them shape healthy financial habits.

If a student does decide to open a credit card, there are credit cards designed specifically for students. Determining which student credit card is best for you will depend on factors such as your credit score and what kind of perks or benefits you want. Check out the guide for the First Time Credit Card Owner when you think you’re ready for your first credit card.

Along with saving money, it’s equally important that young adults understand the importance of their credit score. Most college freshmen haven’t had the chance to establish a good credit history and may not even understand what it means. Using services like CompareCards’ Credit Concierge, will provide them with the necessary information for learning about what’s included in their credit report and how their credit score impacts their ability to make purchases and obtain loans.

There are a number of ways young adults can establish good credit. Having credit cards, utilities, or loans in their name and always paying bills on time is the first step in building good credit. Banks and credit unions also offer credit-building loans that allow students to “borrow” against money that is already in their account. This allows them to build credit without the risk of incurring large balances.

Be Budget Savvy

Remember, budgets and coupons aren’t just for parents. College students typically have a small budget, but also have a relatively small number of bills to pay each month. Students should calculate monthly expenses versus how much money they have available through work and/or loans. If there isn’t enough to cover the bills, students should focus on how they can save money.

Buy Generic

A study from economists at Tilburg University and the University of Chicago revealed that people who buy generic brands of products actually score higher on IQ tests. That indicates that students who are smart enough to get into college are prime candidates for saving money by buying off-brands instead of paying premium prices for well-known brands. Generic products typically contain the same ingredients as the name brand products and lose no value or quality.

As reported by CNN, “Nine times out of ten, pharmacists and doctors will buy the generic version of aspirin rather than a brand-name like Bayer. Likewise, professional chefs prefer store-brand sugar, salt and baking powder instead of brand name ingredients.”

The savings on consumer products across the board can be dramatic despite the fact that the products or their key ingredients are virtually identical.

Cut Down on Textbook Expenses

The reason that textbooks are so extraordinarily expensive is because most of them are printed in rather small quantities. They are sold only to colleges and universities and, among those buyers, may only appeal to certain campus bookstores where professors specifically request them. Publishing companies also know students have limited options and are almost locked-in, because choosing not to buy the book would likely cause the student to fail the class.

That makes the market for used textbooks a great resource for students who are shopping for bargain prices or want to resell their own books for fast cash. Most campuses operate their own book exchanges where you can find books in great condition at a fraction of the price. You can also find ads on campus buildings or dormitory bulletin boards. Some websites where you can buy or sell textbooks include:

Another way to save big on textbooks is to use digital e-book versions instead of hard copies that weigh down your backpack. Many educational institutions are converting to this more environmentally-friendly and less costly format. Check with your college and/or professors to see if there are e-books or open-source textbook options available. Open-source textbooks can be printed and bound for about $40.

Take Advantage of Free High-Tech Financial Tools

There are tons of great tools, apps and programs that can be helpful in managing your budget and saving money, and many of them are free. Websites like Mint.com, for example, can help you create and manage your budget like a pro, while also including expert information about how to be a wise saver and investor.

Most major banks have free apps that you can download to enable you to keep track of your accounts or pay bills from a smart phone or other Wi-Fi device. Online banking options usually offer lower rates and fees than traditional brick and mortar banks. You can also set your account preferences to take advantage of text and email alerts when your payment is due or when you are hitting your spending limit.

There are even some banks that reward students for doing things like paying their bills on time, so be sure to shop around and find a bank that matches your goals, while helping to save you money.

Always Mention You’re a Student

Just about every single merchant, service, or product offers a discount for students. This can result in discounts on food, clothing, entertainment and more. Mention to the merchant that you’re a student to make sure you receive the highest discount you can. Most require you to have a copy of your student ID card on hand, so make sure you always carry that with you.

As students work hard in school and hopefully work hard at making financial choices, they can learn more than just what professors are teaching in the classroom. While it might seem like economics are only for economic majors, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Students who take charge of their financial education will be in a better position to meet their financial responsibilities after graduation.

The economy and work force can change quickly, so it’s important to continually monitor what salary and employment projections are expected for your intended field of work. As you move toward graduation, talk with advisors and use resources such as Payscale”s yearly College Salary Report to determine what you might expect to make after graduation.

Students can also continue to look for additional grants and scholarships. Some grants and scholarships are renewed yearly, or are specifically designed for students who are already in school.

To prepare yourself for post-college life, the most important things you can do are exit college with as little debt as possible and have good credit. The Fair Credit Reporting Act requires each credit reporting company (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion) to provide consumers with a free credit report once a year. These reports will provide details about your report, outstanding debt, credit inquiries and more.

Credit monitoring services such as Credit Concierge can help you understand your credit report and make sense of what is positively and negatively impacting your credit. This free credit monitoring service allows users to track and monitor their credit profile.

This extra step will set students up for a healthy and robust financial future. As they look forward to graduation and starting a career, they will be equipped not only with book smarts, but also with the financial skills needed upon entering the real world.

 

Adapted from HuffingtonPost.com 

How to Buy a Home in an Expensive Are

 

Owning a home is a financial goal for many Americans. For those who live in the most expensive real estate markets, like the New York City area, the D.C. area, the Boston area and pretty much the entire states of California and Hawaii, that goal may appear hopelessly out of reach. Median housing prices in these regions are astronomically high compared to the U.S. median home price ($252,800 as of May 2017). How do you save enough for a home down payment when you are already paying very high rent as a percentage of your income? It can be done, but it’s not likely to happen the traditional way.

Make sure it makes sense to buy.

Buying a home is likely to be the largest financial commitment you make in your life. Make sure that it really makes sense to buy instead of continuing to rent. As I mentioned in a recent post about saving for a down payment on a first home:

“Real estate is like marriage. The wrong choice can really mess up your life. Renting, on the other hand, is like dating. It’s something you should keep doing until you are sure you want to settle down and are ready for a committed relationship. Many people are happy dating – and renting – for a long time before they decide to commit.”

If you are ready to commit to a geographic location (and school district, if you have kids), the next step is to evaluate if it makes sense in your geographic market. Is it cheaper to rent or buy? Use this tool from the New York Times to run the numbers.

Calculate your home budget from your rent.

If you are renting, you may already be paying a mortgage, interest and property taxes – your landlord’s.  Use your monthly rent as a starting point for how much you can realistically afford to pay every month in total housing costs. Last week, I spoke to an employee on our Financial Helpline who wanted to buy her first home in Southern California. She and her husband paid rent, not including utilities, of $2,800 per month. We ran some numbers (see the calculation here) and determined that if their housing costs were similar, they could support a mortgage of $460,000 to $510,000.

You can run your own assessment with this calculator. Make sure you include assumptions about down payment, mortgage term, mortgage interest rate, private mortgage insurance (mandatory with a low down payment mortgage), homeowner’s insurance and property taxes. Don’t forget:

  • If your current rent includes utilities, make sure you back out the average cost since you’ll be paying those directly as a homeowner. Keep in mind that if you’re increasing your home size (e.g., from a 2-bedroom apartment to a 3-bedroom single family home) your energy costs will probably increase.
  • If you’re looking to buy a condo or home, your current rent must support a mortgage, interest, insurance, taxes – and possibly HOA fees.
  • Home maintenance will be extra. Be prepared to budget an additional 1 to 4 percent of your purchase price annually for the care and upkeep of your home.

Don’t fixate on one neighborhood.

You may love where you are living now, but there is more than one neighborhood for everyone. You may find that looking outside of your current area opens the possibility of lower home prices, better schools or a more spacious home. I suggest you house hunt in a minimum of three different neighborhoods before you settle on your top target location.

Look at your trade-offs.

For example, if you live closer to your workplace so you can walk to work and to the grocery store, you might be able to give up one car. Conversely, it may be worth paying more to keep your child in their school. Consider the commute time and the effect on family life. As the saying goes, you can have anything you want but not everything you want.

Explore first time homebuyer programs.

Lenders typically require that home buyers pay at least 20 percent of the home’s purchase price and will offer a mortgage of up to 80 percent of the appraised value of the home. In an insanely expensive real estate market like Southern CA or the NYC region, where median home prices are very high, a 20 percent down payment could amount to several years’ salary. Accumulating that large of a down payment may not be realistic while you are paying high rent each month, but that does not mean you can’t buy a home. You could be eligible for a low down payment mortgage backed by the FHA, VA, USDA, or Freddie Mac, with some as low as 3 percent of the purchase price. Explore all the first-time home buying programs summarized in this article.

City, county, and state governments may also offer down payment assistance programs, so check and see if you qualify. For example, I encouraged the helpline caller I mentioned to check out the CA Housing Finance Agency for down payment assistance as it appeared that she might qualify based on her household size and income. 

 

Referenced from Forbes.com 

 

It's a Great Time to Buy a Car

Ask most people when the best time is to buy a new car and the response will be December. It’s fairly well known that manufacturers will offer end of year incentives to bolster sales. It is less well known that there are extra incentives to bring down the price of most new cars in August.

In fact, we help clients buy and lease almost as many vehicles in August than we do in December. Why would this be? There are a few reasons why August is a popular month for new car purchases, from model year end deals to back to school shopping. We’ll look at each of these in turn:

Back to school

For many parents, back to school means back to carpool duty and soccer practice. As kids get bigger, it can make sense to invest in a larger vehicle that will fit them comfortably. Often a vehicle with a third row of seats can make a lot of sense for growing families.

Other parents may decide to invest in a safe, reliable vehicle for their teenage driver or college-bound offspring. Top priorities can also include fuel economy, hands free texting, and crash avoidance systems. 

Either way, this makes August a peak time for family car buying. Luckily, it's also a time when manufacturers and dealerships can be motivated by the model year end change to move their existing inventory.

 

Model year end

While the new model year traditionally starts in October, many brands release new models throughout the year. By late summer, manufacturers are ready to clear out their 2016 models in advance of the 2017 arrivals—and are willing to offer discounts and incentives on 2016 vehicles to make this happen.

Buying or leasing in August allows you to take advantage of these specials while there is still decent availability of popular 2016 models. As always, Cartelligent can help you take advantage of all manufacturers' incentives to ensure you get a great deal on your new car.

 

New model availability

The majority of the new 2017 models are not in dealerships by August, but the window for special orders is often open. If you have your heart set on being the first on the block to drive the latest model, placing your order in August can be critical to making that happen. Special ordering allows you to customize your new car exactly the way you want, choosing the colors and options you want without paying for additional features you don't need.

 

Referenced from Cartelligent.com.   

 

Quick Tips on Student Loans for College Students and Recent Grads

If you are just beginning your college journey, keep these student loan tips in mind. They might seem far off, but the more you know and do from the start, the better shape you'll be in! If you're a recent grad, here's some great advice! 

Don't ignore the debt. "Just because you don't see it doesn't mean it will magically be repaid for you," cautions Burr.

2. Read the fine print and know the repayment guidelines. "I read through my grad school loans after the fact and owed nearly $15,000 more than I expected," he recalls. "You need to know when your payments are due, how much the minimum payment is, and how much you plan to pay each month before you sign." 

3. Be prepared to sacrifice in order to meet your goals. Burr recommends setting a timeline of how much you'll pay, and then doing whatever you must to stick to it. "I own a TV that's 15 years old," he says. "I don't have an XBox or Playstation, BluRay DVDs, or VIP cable. I don't have the $200 a month cell phone plan. I didn't go without by any means, but I set my goal and knew I needed to make the sacrifice for a few years."

4. Keep your contact information current. "The first thing I did when I graduated was go online and change my address from student housing to my new home on my credit cards, banking, and student loans," he says. "Most things will probably be emailed to you, but you don't want to miss something in the mail when your college email is turned off."

5. Make more than minimum payments every chance you get. "I was paying almost four times the minimum payment because it was important to me to achieve the goal that I set," remembers Burr. "I looked at the student loan site every day and watched the interest accrue, and the more I knocked the base down, the less I would pay in interest."

Matthew Burr paid off nearly $74,000 of student loans in less than two years.Matthew Burr

6. Start paying immediately. If you can, don't wait for the six-month grace period to end to make payments, advises Burr. "As soon as I got my first check, I made a payment. You'll pay less interest if you start making payments in a hurry, and it gets you into a routine. If you're disciplined up front, you'll be far ahead of everybody else."

7. Pay more than once per month if possible. "The more often you pay, the more you'll be able to knock your interest down," Burr explains. "I tried to keep it at zero as much as I could." And while it's advisable to check with your lender to make sure you aren't tripped up by any limits on payment frequency, Burr says that even though he sometimes paid six or seven times a month, he never ran into any limits.

8. Live well below your means. "When I got out of grad school, I basically doubled my salary. I'd never had that kind of income before, but I put the extra towards my loans," he says. "Debt is stress, and when you don't have it, it's one less thing you have to worry about."

9. Set a strict cash budget. "Know where you're spending all of your money," advises Burr. "I limited myself to $40 a week cash, which was a pretty strict budget." And for that matter, he says, ask for help setting up your budget if you've never done it before. "I came out of school with a business degree so I was familiar with budgets, but I know many people aren't," says Burr. 

10. Don't carry balances on credit cards. "The interest on credit cards will get you, too," says Burr. "You need all your money to spend on student loans, so you shouldn't be spending on credit card interest."

11. Don't buy a new car if you don't need one. "Waiting two or three years to purchase a new car will allow you to make additional payments on student loans," Burr says. "I bought my car in late 2007 and paid it off before I even went to grad school."

12. Look for cheaper places to live while you are paying down debt. "Cost of living is an expense to consider," says Burr, who lives outside of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. "I didn't take a job in New York, Chicago, or Los Angeles. Should you?"

13. Learn to negotiate. "This could mean salaries, sign on bonuses, relocation, or lower interest rates," Burr says. "I negotiated my salary and sign on bonus and bumped them up a couple thousand dollars, then was able to put my bonus and relocation straight to my loans."

14. Track your payments closely. Burr, who found that watching his declining balance was enough motivation to keep up his payments, recommends using a third-party site to manage payments (like Tuition.io), or getting familiar with your lender's website.

15. Take advantage of discounts. There are potential discounts for repayment, automatic monthly deductions, and loan consolidation. "Simply signing up for automatic deductions — saying they could take the money straight from my bank account once a month — got me a discount of 0.25%," Burr remembers.

16. Pay off the highest-interest-rate loans first. "You're paying the most on those loans, so you'll want to get those paid off," he says. "That goes for anything, like credit cards or car loans." 

17. Set achievable milestones, and reward yourself as you reach them. "I had six loans, so I would focus on paying the one with the highest interest down first and know it was finished," Burr says. While he admits that he didn't really reward himself — "seeing the balance at zero was enough reward for me" — it's a good idea to celebrate the milestone to keep your motivation high.

 

 

 

 

25 Ways to Save Money

Whether money is tight because you have just graduated, or you are trying to work on getting out of debt or build your savings. There are five areas where nearly everyone can find ways to save on the amount they spend each month. Here are the five areas and five savings tips for each one.

Food Costs

Food is one category where it is easy to justify overspending because having good food is a necessity.

 

However, if you add up the total amount you spend on food each month you may be surprised at how much you are spending. If you have a large family, it may be taking up a significant amount of your budget.  Here are ten ways you can save on food costs each month.

  1. Stop eating out. Try planning and prepping your dinner before you go to work so it is easy to prepare when you get home. You can also try taking a lunch from home to help cut down on food bills. You may be amazed at how much yous ave when you stop eating out.
  2. Plan your menus each week or each month. Menu planning is a great way to save money because it cuts down on the number of shopping trips that you need to take. It also cuts down on food waste, and it is helpful when you are too tired to figure out what to cook.
  3. Shop at a cheaper store. You may be surprised at how much you can save just by switching grocery stores. Even if you only end up buying some items at the discount store, you will end up saving money.
  1. Shop the sales. You can check the sales each week and plan your menu around them. If you create a price book, you can save even more. A price book will track the sales cycles so that you know the cheapest time to buy each item and at what store.
  2. Buy in bulk. You can split items with a friend or store things n your freezer. This can help you save on most items and really help you cut back.

 

    Entertainment Costs

    It is important to be able to relax and unwind, but you may be spending more than you realize on entertainment costs. This is a broad category, and it may be one of the first ones you should cut when you are trying to save money. Here are some tips to save on your entertainment expenses.

    1. Look for free festivals and music concerts in your area. Many cities offer events that you can attend for free or at a discounted price and it is a great way to explore and learn about new things.
    2. Cut the cord on your cable. Take the time to shop around for a television service that saves you money. There are a variety of streaming services that are a lot less than cable, and you may be surprised at how much you can really save.
    3. Choose cheaper accommodations. Try saving money on your vacation by camping or renting a cabin through a state or national park. Often this is much cheaper than staying at a hotel.
    4. Try going out earlier in the day. You can save money on movies, at restaurants and other places by going during the day. You still have a great time, but the savings can add up quickly.
    5. Consider monthly subscription services. There are services that you let you play unlimited streaming music, watch videos or read books for a lower cost than you would spend on a single new CD, movie, book or game. If you use these things often, you may end up saving a lot of money each month.

     

      Insurance

      Many people assume that insurance is a set expense and there is not anything you can do to lower the cost. However, there are things you can do to lower your premium and still have great coverage. Here are five tips to help keep insurance costs low.

      1. Shop for new insurance every few years.  Insurance companies offer their lowest rates to new customers, and if you are accident and ticket free, you may score big savings on your insurance by shopping around.
      2. Take advantage of discounts. You can earn insurance discounts through your alumni association, your employer or professional organization. Try to find the best deals available to save on your policy.
      3. Increase your deductible. If you raise your deductible to a $1000.00, you can save a lot in monthly premiums. Be sure to save the money so you have it on hand if you need it.
      1. Try a high deductible health insurance policy. This offers a lower monthly premium and often more comprehensive coverage once you have met your deductible. Set up a health savings account with it.
      2. Stay in your network. When you are using your insurance coverage, you can lower your out of pocket costs by staying in your network or working with approved shops or providers.

      Housing

      Housing is a huge part of many people’s budgets. You can buy a home that is too expensive and you may end up house poor. In some areas of the country, you may end up paying nearly half of your salary in rent. Here are some tips to help you save on your housing costs.

      1. Consider getting a roommate. Although, you may want to live on your own, you really can save a lot by considering a roommate or two to save on the housing costs. You can also split the utilities to lower costs.
      2. Try moving home. This may not be ideal, but living at home for a year can give you the chance to save up a down payment or work on getting out of debt. If you can focus on your goals, you can move out quickly and make the most of your situation.
      3. Choose an area with cheaper rent. Location is such an important part of rent and housing costs. By adding a few minutes onto your commute, you may be able to save money each month.
      4. Consider buying a home. In some areas, you can really save money by buying instead of renting. Additionally, you can build equity in your home or condo so that you can move into something nicer in a few years.
      5. Look for a job in a lower cost of living area. Moving to an area with a lower cost of living can mean that you do not have to work as much. It may mean more time, and it often means that you can afford a really nice house for a lot less. It is definitely an option that you should consider.  

      Transportation

      One area where you may be spending a lot of money, and not realize that you can cut back is transportation costs. The ways you can save may vary based on where you live and the options that are available to you.

      1. Try carpooling to work. There are ride share boards available in almost every major city. This can reduce the amount that you pay in parking and gas each day.
      2. Take public transportation to work. Taking the bus or subway can give you extra time to read or decompress and reduce the amount that you spend.
      3. Bike or walk to work or on your errands. This works if you live in a city or in a community designed to be walker friendly. It is a great way to get your exercise and can reduce the amount that you need to use your car.
      4. Skip owning a car completely. If you live in a city, you can get by with using public transportation and then using Uber, a taxis or a car share when you need a car.
      5. Buy a used car instead of a new car.  This will save you on the cost, depreciation and insurance premiums. If your car payment is too much consider selling your car and buying something more affordable. 

      How to Lower Your Monthly Car Payment

      There are things you should do and things you shouldn't when it comes to lowering your monthly car loan payment.  In this section, we offer helpful money saving tips to make your car loan more affordable, the right way.
       

      Reconsider longer term loans

      Today, more and more car buyers are taking out longer loans — over six or seven years versus the normal three to five years — to reduce their monthly car payments. You might want to reconsider longer term loans since they can be riskier, including higher interest rates, more interest paid over the life of the loan, and less paid on the principal balance which could end up costing you more than the car is worth.
       

      Get pre-approved

      When it comes to buying a car, your best bet is to get pre-approved for a loan before you go shopping.  Not only can you lock in low rates before they have a chance to increase, you can use the offers you receive as a negotiation tool with the dealership, if its rates are higher.  What's more, it's good practice to focus on getting the best possible sales price for a car first, and then discussing financing with the dealer later.  Getting pre-qualified for a loan helps you do just that.
       

      Consider a home equity loan

      If you qualify, there are advantages to using a home equity loan or a home equity line of credit (HELOC) to purchase a car.  For starters, home equity loans usually come with lower interest rates than standard auto loans because they're borrowed against the equity in your home as collateral which drives down the interest costs.  What's more, you might actually be able to deduct the payments if you itemize them on your federal tax return.  Be sure to consult a tax advisor to determine if this is a smart approach for you. 

      A HELOC usually comes with the lowest rates but it's a riskier proposition.  HELOC rates are variable which means you're stuck with a higher monthly payment should interest rates increase.  While a HELOC makes sense for loan terms of 36 months or less, financing over 36 months is better suited for fixed rate home equity loans.
       

      Check the numbers

      Don't sign on the auto loan line until you know its true, long term costs.  Be sure to check the annual percentage rate (APR) since this interest rate includes all lender fees and charges which is the true rate you'll pay.  Then, ask the lender for the sum of all the monthly payments you'll make during the life of the loan, plus all fees and charges.
       

      Increase your down payment

      If you can afford it, increase your down payment to lower your monthly car payment.  Smaller down payments actually increase the cost of longer term loans.  If you increased your down payment to 20 percent, for example, you could save a lot of money while potentially securing a shorter term loan in the process.
       

      Review your loan docs carefully

      Carefully review your loan by checking the fine print for all fees and conditions. Beware of large financing fees, required credit insurance or penalties for prepaying the principal during the life of the loan, which could prevent you from refinancing or increasing your monthly payments to boost your equity in the car.
       

      Buy the car you can afford

      If you're considering taking out a longer term loan, you might be considering buying a car you can't afford.  Put yourself in a solid financial position by buying a car you can pay off in five years or less.


       

      The Right Loan for Your Upcoming Wedding

      For many couples, planning a dream wedding is an exciting way to express their personal style and tastes and celebrate their love for each other in front of friends and family. Affording that wedding, on the other hand, is not always so easy. According to The Knot 2015 Real Weddings Study of nearly 18,000 brides, the average cost of a wedding in the U.S. is at an all-time high of $32,641. This is despite the fact that the 2014 median household income was $53,657.

      In many instances, cutting back on expenses is not possible. Spending two, three or five years working hard to save money can be equally daunting, especially if you are planning to start a family or are waiting until after your nuptials to move in together. In these cases, financing your wedding, engagement ring, or even your honeymoon through an unsecured personal loan, colloquially referred to as a wedding loan, may be a viable alternative. After all, your wedding is one of the most memorable and important days of your life. It should be special, which is why some people decide to use a personal loan or other financing method to create the wedding celebration they've always imagined. And there are trusted sources to help you do so: Prosper, and Upstart are two of the choices. But before you finance any element of your wedding, you should understand what it's actually going to cost you.

       

      Referenced from: TheKnot.com 

      All You Need to Know About Personal Loans

      Personal loans are one of many types of loans you can borrow from a bank. These loans are typically general purpose loans that you can use at your discretion for things like consolidating debt or paying for an unexpected expense or small home improvement project. Personal loans are often more difficult to get and have strict qualification requirements. If you're thinking about borrowing a personal loan, here are some things you know.

      Personal loans are unsecured.

      That means the loan doesn't require you to use an asset as collateral. If you default on a personal loan, the lender can't automatically take a piece of your property as payment for the loan. This is one of the reasons personal loans are more difficult to get. The lender doesn't have any asset to seize if you can't make loan payments anymore. Even though the lender can't automatically take your house or car, it can take other collection actions. This includes reporting late payments to the credit bureaus, hiring a collection agency, and filing a lawsuit against you.

      Personal loans have a fixed amount.

      The amount of personal loans ranges anywhere from $1,000 to $50,000 and depends on the lender, your income, and your credit rating. The better your credit score and higher your income, the more money you can borrow. Some banks have a cap on the amount of personal loan you can borrow.

      For example, you may be able to borrow only a maximum of $10,000 personal loan.

      Unlike credit cards, personal loans are a one- time loan. You can't borrow from the loan over and over the way you can with a revolving credit card balance. Payments toward the loan reduce the balance, but do not open up available credit that you can borrow again.

      Once you pay off the loan, the account is closed. If you need to borrow again, you'll have to reapply.

      Personal loans usually have fixed interest rates.

      The interest rate is locked and doesn't change for the life of the loan. Like the loan amount, interest rates on personal loans are based on credit rating. Generally, the better your credit score, the lower your interest rate. Lower interest rates are ideal because it means you pay a lower cost for borrowing the loan. Some personal loans come with a variable interest rate that changes periodically. The drawback of a variable interest rate is that your payments can fluctuate as your rate changes making it harder to budget for your loan payments

      Personal loans a fixed repayment period.

      You have a set period of time to repay your personal loan. Loan periods are stated in months, e.g. 12, 24, 36, 48, and 60. Longer repayment periods lower your monthly loan repayment, but they also mean you pay more in interest than if you had a shorter repayment period.  Your interest rate may also be tied to your repayment period. For example, you may have a lower interest rate with shorter repayment periods. Longer repayment periods also mean you'll be paying on the loan for a longer period of time.

      Having an open loan could affect your ability to get approved for other credit cards and loans. Note that some loans have a pre-payment penalty which charges a fee for paying off your loan early.

      Personal loans affect your credit score.

      Most lenders report your loan account details to the credit bureaus. . Everything from applying for a loan (which means a new inquiry on your credit report) to how timely you make payments will affect your credit. The key to maintaining a good credit score is making your loan payments on time each month.

      Beware of scams.

      Watch out for scams, particularly if you're shopping for a lender who'll approve you with a bad credit history. Avoid any lender that guarantees approval without checking your credit history or who asks you to send money (especially via wire transfer or prepaid card) to secure the loan.

      Applying for a Personal Loan

      It may be easier to get a personal loan from a bank you already have an account with. The bank will probably want to know what you're going to use the money for and may even have a better loan for your needs. As with any other loan, it's important to choose personal loans wisely and only borrow what you can afford to repay.

      Referenced from TheBalance.com

      Six Steps to an Auto Loan

      When it comes to bank loans, getting a car loan is comparatively easy, particularly if you compare it to the weeks-long process of getting a mortgage. In fact, getting approved for a car loan can be as quick as getting approved for a new credit card. That doesn’t mean you don’t need to be prepared for the process and do your due diligence, however.

      If you’re thinking about getting your first vehicle loan, here’s what you need to know about the process, and how to avoid common car buying mistakes.

      Step One: Check Your Credit

      Your credit score will play a key role in the rate you’ll pay for your loan. While that may sound obvious to someone who has applied for one of these loans before, if you are a first-time car buyer, you may not realize how important your credit score is when it comes to getting a loan. A high credit score can help you get a low car loan rate, which in turn saves you money on interest.

      Your credit score is based on the information in your credit reports, so to make sure that your credit score is accurate it’s a good idea to also get your credit reports. You can check them for free once a year.

      It’s also a good idea to get your free credit score to see where you stand. Just understand that you probably won’t see the same credit score the auto lender will see. There are many different credit scores available, and auto lenders typically use scores customized for auto lenders.

      Step Two: Pick Your Payment

      Your job here is to figure out how much you can realistically afford to spend each month on a car payment without straining your budget. Once you know that amount, you can plug it into a car loan calculator to find out the total you can afford to spend. If you don’t know precisely how much you can afford to pay for your car, now’s a good time to put together a simple monthly budget.

      Car loans typically come in three-, four-, five- and six-year terms. The longer the term of the loan, the lower the monthly payment. But a longer car loan also means you are likely to be “upside down” for a longer period of time. To be upside down (or “underwater”) on a loan means you owe more than the vehicle is worth.

      Don’t forget to factor in insurance and maintenance costs. While those won’t be included in your monthly payment, you’ll have to come up with those funds as well. If you have trouble paying them, you may find it hard to keep up with your car payment, so you want to make sure you are prepared for the total cost. An insurance agent can help you estimate the cost of insuring the types of vehicles you are considering buying (here’s another spot where your good credit will save you money. Auto insurers use your credit scores as a basis for your premiums).

      Step Three: Get Pre-Approved

      You can shop for an auto loan online, as well as through a local credit union or bank. You don’t have to limit yourself to the financial institution where you do your banking, and it’s fine to check with a few different sources. You want to see what kind of loan, and for what amount, they can offer. Whichever one offers you the best deal, that’s the one you can get financing through.

      If you qualify for a loan, you’ll get a “pre-approval” that will be good for a certain period of time and up to a certain amount of money. It’s sort of like having a blank check to buy your vehicle. You can always spend less than the amount for which you are pre-approved, but you can’t spend more, unless you want to make up the difference in cash or by trading in your current vehicle. If you do buy a vehicle for less than the amount for which you have been pre-approved you won’t get the difference back in cash; you’ll just get a smaller loan.

      Don’t have great credit? You may still be able to get pre-approved for a car loan with bad credit, but your interest rate will be higher. If you have no credit history, you can either ask someone to co-sign or consider a lender that will work with borrowers with no credit.

      Try to do all your car loan shopping within a 14-day period. That’s because some credit scoring models will penalize you if there are too many inquiries into your credit history. But none of them will do so if those inquiries are within a two-week window.

      Step Four: Choose Your Vehicle

      Once you are pre-approved, you can get serious about shopping for your vehicle. One of the good things about being pre-approved is that you can focus your efforts on negotiating the best deal for the car or truck you want to buy, rather than having to negotiate financing as well. Keep in mind, however, that your ability to negotiate could be limited. A lot of dealerships these days do not negotiate price on new or used cars.

      Dealers may be able to make a deal on financing, though, and could beat the terms you’ve been offered by a bank. Just be careful: The dealer may try to talk you into a longer loan that will reduce your monthly payment, but will cost you more in the long run.

      If you are going to buy a used car from a private party, make sure the loan you apply for covers that option. Also make sure you understand the restrictions on used car loans. You may not be able to buy a vehicle older than five years or with more than 75,000 miles, for example. And keep in mind the interest rate for these vehicle loans may be a little higher.

      Step Five: Finalize the Paperwork

      Once you’ve chosen your vehicle and negotiated the price, the auto dealer’s financing department will coordinate with the lender to finalize the sale. They will very likely try to get you to buy add-ons, such as an extended warranty, VIN etching, paint or fabric protection etc. Be sure to research these ahead of time so you don’t feel pressured into making an uninformed decision.

      If you buy a used car from a private party, your lender should walk you through the process of finalizing the sale.

      Step Six: Start Paying Your Car Loan

      After the sale is finalized, you will get information about the payment schedule for your loan. Most lenders will send a coupon book you can use for mailing in your payments, along with information on how to access your account online. Even if you plan to pay your loan by mail or at a local branch of your financial institution, it’s a good idea to sign up for the online service so you can check your balance and payments if you need to, and so you’ll be able to make payments online if you are traveling, for example.

      Almost every car loan allows you to prepay without a penalty, so if you decide to pay off your loan faster you can do that. Just be sure to check with your lender to make sure your additional payments are processed correctly.

       

      Apply For an Auto Loan Today: https://apps-bayridge.ns3web.com/NSLoan/loanapp/

      A Guide to Your First Loan

      Now is the time when many students are graduating college and trying to make their way in the real world. Part of becoming an adult is learning more about credit as this will become a necessary part of many's lives they purchase homes and cars. Learn how you, as a recent college graduate, can build your credit score and apply for your first loan. 

       

      For Young People:

      If you are a student, a student loan would offer you the lowest interest rate. These types of loans are repayable once you start working. When choosing a loan, student or not, it's important to consider how much you really need to borrow and how much you can actually afford to repay each month. Loaning more than you can pay off will add up quickly considering the added interest and charges for failing to meet the repayment plan. Try to get a loan with as low of an interest as possible, because a high interest means a longer time to repay the loan, which in turn costs you more.

       

      For People with Poor or No Credit:

      It's important to differentiate between poor credit and no credit. However, both are similar in that they make getting loans with the lowest possible interest rate a little more difficult. If you have no credit history to back you up, either because you have never taken out a loan or had a credit card, it may be hard for you to secure a loan. On the other hand, if you have poor credit, either from missing payments or from filing bankruptcy, it will be even more difficult. 

      In both scenarios, you will have options, but these options will be limited. You will have to choose from smaller loan amounts and higher interest rates. 

       

      For Young People to Improve their Credit

      There are numerous ways to improve your credit score. The first is to make sure you name is on the electoral roll. Second, be sure to give yourself a rest period between applying for credit from different places because apply for credit leaves behind a trail that can negatively affect you if you are rejected. 

      Lastly, the surest way to improve your credit, but perhaps the most difficult, is to keep on making payments on time and in full. Luckily, your credit score is NOT the only thing that credit providers use to determine whether you qualify for a loan. Your job, salary, and other assets are also considered in the process. 

      Apply for a personal loan today. 

      https://apps-bayridge.ns3web.com/NSLoan/loanapp/