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Refinancing your student loans can make good financial sense, and thatâs especially true if your current loans are stuck at a high-interest rate. With a new loan at a lower APR, you could save a bundle of money on interest each month and ultimately pay your student debt off faster. Consolidating several loans into one new one can also simplify your financial life and make keeping up with bills a lot easier.
College Ave and Earnest topped our list, but since student loan refinancing is an incredibly competitive space, youâll also want to spend time comparing student loan companies to see who offers the best deal. Many lenders in this space offer incredibly low APRs, flexible payment options, borrower incentives, and more. This means itâs more important than ever to shop around so you wind up with the best student loan for your needs.
What You Should Know About Refinancing Federal Student Loans with a Private Lender
The lenders on this list can help you consolidate and refinance both federal student loans and private student loans. However, there are a few details to be aware of before you refinance federal loans with a private lender.
Switching federal loans to private means giving up federal protections like deferment and forbearance. You also give up your chance to qualify for income-driven repayment plans like Pay As You Earn (PAYE) or Income Based Repayment (IBR). Income-driven repayment plans let you pay a percentage of your discretionary income for 20 to 25 years before ultimately forgiving your remaining loan balances, so this perk isnât one you should give up without careful thought and consideration.
Best Student Loan Refinancing Companies of 2021
As you start your search to find the best student loan for your lifestyle, take the time to compare lenders and all they offer their customers. While there are a ton of reputable companies offering high-quality student loan refinancing products on the market today, there are also companies you should probably steer clear of.
To make your search easier, we took the time to compare most of the top lenders in this space in terms of interest rates offered, fees, borrower benefits, and more. The following student loan companies are the cream of the crop, so you should start your search here.
Our Top Picks:
- Splash Financial
- College Ave
- Wells Fargo
- PenFed Credit Union
Student Loan Refinancing Company Reviews
1. Splash Financial
Splash Financial may be a newer company in the student loan refinancing space, but their offerings are competitive. This company lets you check your rate online without a hard inquiry on your credit report, and their variable rates currently start at just 2.25% APR.
Not only are interest rates offered by Splash Financial industry-leading, but the company has a 95% customer satisfaction rate so far. Their cutting-edge technology also lets you apply for your loan and complete the loan process online, meaning less hassle and stress for you as the borrower.
Check Out Splash Financialâs Low Rates
2. College Ave
College Ave offers student loan refinancing products that can be tailored to your needs. They offer low fixed and variable interest rates, for example, and youâll never pay an application fee or an origination fee. You can even qualify for a discount if you set your loan up on autopay, and a wide range of repayment schedules are available.
College Ave also offers a wide range of online calculators and tools that can help you figure out how much student loan refinancing could help you save and whether the move would be worth it in the end. Considering their low variable rates start at just 2.74% APR, thereâs a good chance you could save money by refinancing if you have excellent credit or a cosigner with great credit.
Get Started with College Ave
Earnest is another online lender that focuses most of its efforts on offering high-quality student loans. This company lets you consolidate debt at a lower interest rate than you might find elsewhere, and you get the option to pick a monthly payment and repayment period that works with your budget and your lifestyle.
While youâll need excellent credit to qualify for the lowest interest rates, loans from Earnest come with variable APRs starting at 1.81% and low fixed rates starting at just 3.45%. To qualify for student loan refinancing with Earnest, youâll need a minimum credit score of 650 and a strong employment and income history. You also need to be current on all your bills and cannot have a bankruptcy on your credit profile.
Refinance and Save with Earnest
Also make sure to check out student loan refinancing company SoFi as you continue your search. This online lender offers some of the best student loan refinancing products available today, including loans with no application fee, origination fee, or hidden fees.
SoFi lets you apply for and complete the entire loan process online, and they offer live customer support 7 days a week. You can also check your rate online without a hard inquiry on your credit report, which makes it easier to see how much you could save before you commit.
Get Pre-Approved with SoFi in Less than 2 Minutes
Commonbond is another online student lender who lets you check your rate online without a hard inquiry on your credit report. With student loan refinancing from Commonbond, you could easily save thousands of dollars on interest with a new fixed interest rate as low as 3.21%. Repayment terms are offered for 5 to 20 years as well, letting you choose a new monthly payment and repayment timeline that works for your needs.
You can apply for your new loan online and note that these loans donât come with an origination fee or any prepayment penalties. Your loan could also qualify for forbearance, which means having up to 24 months without payments during times of financial hardship.
Apply Online with Commonbond
LendKey offers private student loans and flexible student loan refinancing options to serve a variety of needs. You can repay your loan between 5 and 20 years, and their refinance loans donât charge an origination fee.
You can use this companyâs online interface to check your rate without a hard inquiry on your credit report, and variable APRs start at just 2.01% for graduates with excellent credit. LendKey loans also receive 9.3 out of 10 possible stars in recent reviews, meaning their customers are mostly happy with their decision to go with this company.
Save Thousands by Refinancing with LendKey
7. Wells Fargo
While Wells Fargo is mostly popular for their banking products, home mortgage products, and personal loans, this bank also offers student loan refinancing products. These loans let you consolidate student debts into a new loan with a low variable or fixed interest rate, and you can even score a discount for setting your loan up on autopay.
Terms for Wells Fargo loans are available anywhere from 5 to 20 years, meaning you can choose a repayment schedule and monthly payment that suits your needs. Wells Fargo also lets you check your rate online without a hard inquiry on your credit report.
Get Started with Wells Fargo
8. PenFed Credit Union
PenFed Credit Union offers unique student loan products powered by Purefy. You might be able to qualify for a lower interest rate that could lead to enormous interest savings over time, and PenFed lets you choose a repayment term and monthly payment that fits with your budget and lifestyle.
You can apply for student loan refinancing on your own, but PenFed Credit Union also allows cosigners. Low fixed interest rates start at just 3.48% APR, and you can check your rate online without a hard inquiry on your credit report.
Learn More about PenFed Credit Union
What To Look For When Refinancing
If you decide you want to refinance your student loans, youâll be happy to know the refinancing market is more robust than ever. A variety of lenders offer insanely attractive loan options for those who can qualify, although you should know that student loan companies tend to be very finicky about your credit score. Some also wonât let you refinance if you didnât graduate from college, or even if you graduated from an âunapprovedâ school.
While you should be aware of any lender-specific eligibility requirements before you apply with any student loan company, there are plenty of other factors to look out for. Hereâs everything you should look for in a student loan refinancing company before you decide to trust them with your loans.
Low Interest Rate
Obviously, the main reason youâre probably thinking of refinancing your loans is the potential to save money on interest. Lenders who offer the lowest rates available today can potentially help you save more, although itâs important to consider that you may not qualify for the lowest rates available if you donât have excellent credit.
Also consider that most lenders will offer better rates and loan terms if you have a cosigner with better credit than you have. This is especially true if your credit isnât great, so make sure to ask family members if theyâre willing to cosign on your new student loan if you hope to get the best rate. Just remember that your cosigner will be jointly liable for repayment, meaning you could quickly damage your relationship if you default on your loan and leave them holding the bag.
Low Fees or No Fees
Student loans are like any other loan in the fact that some charge higher fees or more fees than others. Since many student loans come with an application fee or an origination fee, youâll want to look for lenders that donât charge these fees. Also check for hidden fees like prepayment penalties.
Some student loan companies let you qualify for discounts, the most popular of which is a discount for using autopay. If youâre able and willing to set up automatic payments on your credit card, you could save .25% or .50% off your interest rate depending on the lender you go with.
Rate Check Option
Many of the top student loan refinancing companies on this list make it possible to check your interest rate online without a hard inquiry on your credit report. This is a huge benefit since knowing your rate can help you figure out if refinancing is even worth it before you take the time to fill out a full loan application.
Flexible Repayment Plan
Also make sure any lender you go with offers some flexibility in your repayment plan and your monthly payment. Youâll want to make sure refinancing aligns with your long-term financial goals and your monthly budget, and itâs crucial to choose a new loan with a monthly payment you can live with.
Most lenders in this space offer repayment timelines of up to 20 years, which means you could spread your payments over several decades to get a monthly payment that makes sense with your income. Keep in mind, however, that youâll pay more interest over the life of your loan when you take a long time to pay it off, so you may want to consider prioritizing a faster payment plan.
The Bottom Line
Student loan refinancing may not sound like a lot of fun. However, taking the time to consider all your loan options could easily save you thousands of dollars. This is especially true if you have a lot of debt at a high interest rate. By consolidating all your student loans into a new one with a lower APR, you could make loan repayment easier with a single payment and save a ton of money that would otherwise go to straight to interest without helping you pay off your loans.
The first step of the loan process is the hardest, however, and thatâs choosing a student loan refinancing company that you trust. The lenders on this list are highly rated, but they also offer some of the best loan products on the market today.
- Work with College Ave, our top pick, to refinance your student loan.
Start your search here and youâre bound to wind up with a student loan you can live with. At the very least, you’ll have a better idea of the loans that are available and how much you might save if you decide to refinance later on.
The post The Best Student Loan Companies For Refinancing appeared first on Good Financial CentsÂ®.
The post The Chilling Truth About Debt Settlement Programs appeared first on Penny Pinchin' Mom.
Debt is a very touchy subject for most people. Feeling the stress of overwhelming monthly payments, many people just look for what seems to be the easiest way out. This is when the salesmen tend to strike. Â The reason is a good deal of your financial information can be considered public knowledge.
Every day, many in debt get phone calls from high energy salesmen talking about the miraculous debt settlement concept. So, I’m going to start by saying, one great lesson we all learn young in life is, âIf it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!â
I made this mistake myself. Â I was so far in debt that I was drowning. In an act of desperation, I used a debt settlement company. Â Turns out, they did nothing to help me. It only made the situation much worse.
Here are a few chilling facts that you should know about debt settlement programs. Â These may just prove that the concept is too good to be true!
Fact #1: You May Be Sued For Not Paying Debts Even As You Make Payments
Did you know the payments you make may not go to your lenders? Â Yep! Â When working with a debt settlement company, your payments are not sent in on a monthly basis. Â Instead, these companies hold the funds from your payments. In most cases, the money is held in special purpose savings accounts until it has reached enough to pay off a debt. Once one debt is paid off, the savings process is started for the next.
Therefore, the last lender or two may wait 3, 4 or even 5 years before they see the next payment. The truth is, if you look at it from their perspective, it’s cheaper to take you to court. They will get the money faster through a settlement because they can garnish your wages. Also, in many cases, you will have to pay the court costs as well!
Fact #2: Your Credit Will Be Destroyed
While talking to a debt settlement agent, you will find that their last interest is in your credit score. Also, if you bring up the topic, they may try to downplay the effects of debt settlement on consumer credit scores. With that said, I’m not going to downplay it at all for you! Here is the truth…Because lenders are not being paid for long periods of time, your debts will be charged off.
One collections agency will sell it to the next and each time, it will damage your credit score! This is why I generally advise against this option if the consumer has good or excellent credit scores. The effects of credit card debt settlement programs will not pass in 6 months either! They will last throughout the term of your settlement and at least a year and a half to 2 years afterwords.
Fact #3: Debt Settlement Costs Thousands Of Dollars In Most Cases
The truth is, if you are going to settle your debts, with a little bit of online research, you can do it on your own. However, when you higher a debt settlement company, chances are, you will pay a percentage of the total amount owed, somewhere around 15%. That means if you have the minimum amount of debt that most companies accept, $10,000.00, your fee will be $1,500.00 minimum in most cases.
This does not include the cost of a special purpose savings account which, usually runs about $25 per month. Add in the cost of paying an attorney when you get taken to curt and, you will now find yourself paying just as much as you did before you hired the debt settlement company in the first place!
Every Dark Cloud Has A Silver Lining
Although debt settlement may not be the option for most, always remember, there is an option for you. As a matter of fact, I recently wrote an article that included a few great options called DIY Alternatives To Debt Consolidation. Trust me, those alternatives only begin to touch the tip of the iceberg when it comes to great, legitimate ways to get out of debt!
This article was written by Joshua Rodriguez, proud owner and founder of CNA Finance and avid personal finance journalist. Join the discussion about this article on facebook and Google+!
The post The Chilling Truth About Debt Settlement Programs appeared first on Penny Pinchin' Mom.
In borrowing, there are two types of debts, recourse and nonrecourse. Recourse debt holds the person borrowing money personally liable for the debt. If you default on a recourse loan, the lender will have license, or recourse, to go after your personal assets if the collateralâs value doesnât cover the remaining amount of the loan that is due. Recourse loans are often used to finance construction or invest in real estate. Hereâs what you need to know about recourse loans, how they work and how they differ from other types of loans.
What Is a Recourse Loan?
A recourse loan is a type of loan that allows the lender to go after any of a borrowerâs assets if that borrower defaults on the loan. The first choice of any lender is to seize the asset that is collateral for the loan. For example, if someone stops making payments on an auto loan, the lender would take back the car and sell it.
However, if someone defaults on a hard money loan, which is a type of recourse loan, the lender might seize the borrowerâs home or other assets. Then, the lender would sell it to recover the balance of the principal due. Recourse loans also allow lenders to garnish wages or access bank accounts if the full debt obligation isnât fulfilled.
Essentially, recourse loans help lenders recover their investments if borrowers fail to pay off their loans and the collateral value attached to those loans is not enough to cover the balance due.
How Recourse Loans Work
When a borrower takes out debt, he typically has several options. Most hard money loans are recourse loans. In other words, if the borrower fails to make payments, the lender can seize the borrowerâs other assets such as his home or car and sell it to recover the money borrowed for the loan.
Lenders can go after a borrowerâs other assets or take legal action against a borrower. Other assets that a lender can seize might include savings accounts and checking accounts. Depending on the situation, they may also be able to garnish a borrowerâs wages or take further legal action.
When a lender writes a loanâs terms and conditions, what types of assets the lender can pursue if a debtor fails to make debt payments are listed. If you are at risk of defaulting on your loan, you may want to look at the language in your loan to see what your lender might pursue and what your options are.
Recourse Loans vs. Nonrecourse Loans
Nonrecourse loans are also secured loans, but rather than being secured by all a personâs assets, nonrecourse loans are only secured by the asset involved as collateral. For example, a mortgage is typically a nonrecourse loan, because the lender will only go after the home if a borrower stops making payments. Similarly, most auto loans are nonrecourse loans, and the bank or lender will only be able to seize the car if the borrower stops making payments.
Nonrecourse loans are riskier for lenders because they will have fewer options for getting their money back. Therefore, most lenders will only offer nonrecourse loans to people with exceedingly high credit scores.
Types of Recourse Loans
There are several types of recourse loans that you should be aware of before taking on debt. Some of the most common recourse loans are:
- Hard money loans. Even if someone uses their hard money loan, also known as hard cash loan, to buy a property, these types of loans are typically recourse loans.
- Auto loans. Because cars depreciate, most auto loans are recourse loans to ensure the lender receive full debt payments.
Recourse Loans Pros and Cons
For borrowers, recourse loans have both pros and and at least one con. You should evaluate each before deciding to take out a recourse loan.
Although they may seem riskier upfront, recourse loans are still attractive to borrowers.
- Easier underwriting and approval. Because a recourse loan is less risky for lenders, the underwriting and approval process is more manageable for borrowers to navigate.
- Lower credit score. Itâs easier for people with lower credit scores to get approved for a recourse loan. This is because more collateral is available to the lender if the borrower defaults on the loan.
- Lower interest rate. Recourse loans typically have lower interest rates than nonrecourse loans.
The one major disadvantage of a recourse loan is the risk involved. With a recourse loan, the borrower is held personally liable. This means that if the borrower does default, more than just the loanâs collateral could be at stake.
Loans can be divided into two types, recourse loans and nonrecourse loans. Recourse loans, such as hard money loans, allow the lender to pursue more than what is listed as collateral in the loan agreement if a borrower defaults on the loan. Be sure to check your stateâs laws about determining when a loan is in default. While there are advantages to recourse loans, which are often used to finance construction, buy vehicles or invest in real estate, such as lower interest rates and a more straightforward approval process, they carry more risk than nonrecourse loans.
Tips on Borrowing
- Borrowing money from a lender is a significant commitment. Consider talking to a financial advisor before you take that step to be completely clear about how it will impact your finances. Finding a financial advisor doesnât have to be difficult. In just a few minutes our financial advisor search tool can help you find a professional in your area to work with. If youâre ready, get started now.
- For many people, taking out a mortgage is the biggest debt they incur. Our mortgage calculator will tell you how much your monthly payments will be, based on the principal, interest rate, type of mortgage and length of the term.
Photo credit: Â©iStock.com/aee_werawan, Â©iStock.com/PictureLake, Â©iStock.com/designer491
The post What Is a Recourse Loan? appeared first on SmartAsset Blog.
A low-income salary can create challenges when it comes to reaching your financial goals. You may want to take a vacation, buy a new car, or just put some cash away for a rainy day, but how can you do that with a limited income? Although you may struggle to add to your savings, there […]
The post Increasing Your Savings on a Low-Income Salary appeared first on Credit Absolute.
While you can use aÂ debit card toÂ pay for almost all the things you would use a credit card for, these cards aren’t the same type of thing. AÂ debit card is tied to existingÂ money, either prepaid on the card itself or in your savings orÂ checking account. A credit card lets you make purchases on credit, and you won’t be able to do this with aÂ debit card.
Can You Use YourÂ Debit Card as Credit?
When youÂ pay at the register, you’re often asked whether you’re making aÂ debit or credit payment. This isn’t a question about whether you’re paying with existingÂ checking account funds or if you’ll be borrowing theÂ money from a credit card lender. It’s a question about how you want theÂ payment processed. And most of the time, yes, you can use yourÂ debit card as credit at check out.
What Happens When You Use aÂ Debit Card as Credit?
When make aÂ purchase and select to process yourÂ payment as credit, it’s an offlineÂ transaction. “The funds for offline transactions are deducted after the merchant settles theÂ purchase with the credit card processor and typically take 2-3 days to be reflected in your account balance,” MasterCard says.
According to MasterCard, when you use aÂ debit card and your PIN (personal identification number), theÂ transaction is completed in real time. That’s also known as an onlineÂ transactionâ you authorize theÂ purchase with your PIN, and theÂ money is immediately transferred from your bank account to the merchant. These areÂ debit card transactions.
But in reality, the difference betweenÂ debit and credit transactions have little real impact on your bottom line. There may be some differences inÂ fees paid by the retailer or processor, but thoseÂ fees are rarely passed on to the consumer directly.
Some individuals choose to use their debit cards as credit at the register to avoid having to enter their PIN. Itâs commonly believed that this creates some additional securityÂ against someone learning that number and having one more piece of information to supportÂ credit card fraud.
While you certainly want to protect your PIN, simply being aware of who is around you and keeping the keypad covered duringÂ debit transactions can help keep you secure if you do decide toÂ pay this way. It may seem like an unnecessary precaution, but you can never be too careful when it comes toÂ debit card fraud.
Can I Use MyÂ Debit Card if I Have NoÂ Money?
One thing that’s important to note is that you can’t usually use yourÂ debit card for credit. If you are short onÂ cash, your credit card still works if you have available credit on it. If there’s noÂ money in your bank account, yourÂ debit card may get declined when you attempt toÂ pay. So make sure there’sÂ cash in your bank account anytime you use yourÂ debit card.
There’s one exception to this rule. Some banks offerÂ overdraft protection. If you qualify for this protection, the bank covers your charges up to a certain amount and you simply rectify the situation later. That way, you avoid potentially embarrassing declines â for a cost inÂ overdraft fees, which can be $15 to $30 perÂ overdraft.
Can I Use MyÂ Debit Card as Credit at Walmart?
Whether or not you can choose toÂ pay as credit with aÂ debit card depends on each retailer andÂ payment system setup. Many WalmartÂ payment systems are set up to allow this, but they default to debit. When this happens, tell the cashier you want toÂ pay as credit or select the option for changingÂ payment method and choose toÂ pay as credit and sign for your purchases instead of entering your PIN.
Does Using MyÂ Debit Card Build Credit?
Paying with yourÂ debit card doesn’t really impact yourÂ credit score, regardless of theÂ payment type you select. That’s because yourÂ debit card is simply a stand-in forÂ money you actually have on hand (or in the bank). It’s not credit and doesn’t provide any type of illustration of your likelihood of making payments in a timely manner or using credit responsibly. Therefore, it won’t impact yourÂ credit history.
If you use yourÂ debit card to overdraw your bank account on a regular basis or do so and leave the negative balance long-term, it could negatively impact yourÂ credit score. Banks do report checking and savings details like this to the credit bureaus.
The Bottom Line on Debit Cards as Credit Cards
Whether you use yourÂ debit card asÂ credit or debit, the funds will still be withdrawn from yourÂ checking account. You can use yourÂ debit card to make aÂ payment processed as credit, but you can’t use yourÂ debit card for credit in most cases. And even when you can, it’s via the limited fail-safe ofÂ overdraft protection, which is not meant for regular use and can be quite expensive.
Debit cards are wonderfulÂ money-management tools that provide a lot of modern convenience. But for many people, it’s a good idea to have at least one credit card in your wallet too for those times when debit just doesn’t quite cut it. Just make sure to check yourÂ credit score, understand how credit cards workÂ and apply for the card that provides you the best perks at the lowest cost.
The post Using Debit Card as Credit appeared first on Credit.com.
Before you make any big financial decision, it’s crucial to learn how it may affect your credit score. If youâre looking to refinance, itâs natural to wonder if it might hurt your credit.
Typically, your credit health will not be strongly affected by refinancing, but the answer isnât always black and white. Whether youâre still considering your options or already made your choice, weâve outlined what you need to know about refinancing below.
What Is Refinancing?
Refinancing is defined by taking on a new loan to pay off the balance of your existing loan balance. How you approach a refinancing decision depends on whether itâs for a home, car, student loan, or personal loan. Since refinancing is essentially replacing an existing debt obligation with another debt obligation under different terms, itâs not a decision to take lightly.
If youâre worried about how refinancing will affect your credit health, remember that there are multiple factors that play into whether or not it hurts your credit score, but the top three factors are:
1) Having a Solid Credit Score
You wonât be in a strong position to negotiate refinancing terms without decent credit.
2) Earning Sufficient Income
If you canât prove that you can keep up with loan payments after refinancing, it wonât be possible.
3) Proving Sufficient Equity
Youâll also need to provide assurance that the payments will still be made if your income canât cover the cost. Itâs recommended that you should have at least a 20 percent equity in a property when refinancing a home.
How Does Refinancing Hurt Your Credit?
Refinancing might seem like a good option, but exactly how does refinancing hurt your credit? In short, refinancing may temporarily lower your credit score. As a reminder, the main loan-related factors that affect credit scores are credit inquiries and changes to loan balances and terms.
Whenever you refinance, lenders run a hard credit inquiry to verify your credit score. Hard credit inquiries typically lower your credit scores by a few points. Try to avoid incurring several new inquiries by using smart rate shopping tactics. It also helps to get all your applications in during a 14â45 day window.
Keep in mind that credit inquiries made during a 14â45 day period could count as one inquiry when your scores are calculated, depending on the type of loan and its scoring model. Regardless, your credit wonât be permanently damaged because the impact of a hard inquiry on your credit decreases over time anyway.
Changes to Loan Balances and Terms
How much your credit score is impacted by changes to loan balances and terms depends on whether your refinanced loan is reported to the credit bureaus. Lenders may report it as the same loan with changes or as an entirely new loan with a new open date.
If your loan from refinancing is reported as a new loan, your credit score could be more prominently affected. This is because a new or recent open date usually means that it is a new credit obligation, therefore influencing the score more than if the terms of the existing loan are simply changed.
How Do Common Types of Refinancing Affect Your Credit?
Refinancing could help you pay off your loans quicker, which could actually improve your credit. However, there are multiple factors to keep in mind when refinancing different types of loans.
Refinancing a Mortgage
Refinancing a mortgage has the biggest potential impact on your credit health, and it can definitely affect your FICO score. How can you prevent refinancing from hurting your credit too much? Try concentrating your credit inquiries when you shop mortgage rates to a 14â45 day window â this will help prevent multiple hard inquiries. Also, you can work with your lenders to avoid having them all run your credit, which could risk lowering your credit score.
If youâre unsure about when to refinance your mortgage, do your research to capitalize on the best timing. For example, refinancing your mortgage while rates are low could be a viable option for you â but it depends on your situation. Keep in mind that losing your record of paying an old mortgage on time could be harmful to your credit score. A cash-out refinance could be detrimental, too.
Refinancing an Auto Loan
As you figure out if refinancing your auto loan is worth it, be sure to do your due diligence. When refinancing an auto loan, youâre taking out a second loan to pay off your existing car debt. In some cases, refinancing a car loan could be a wise move that could reduce your interest rate or monthly payments. For example, if youâre dealing with an upside-down auto loan, you might consider refinancing.
However, there are many factors to consider before making an auto loan refinancing decision. If the loan with a lower monthly payment has a longer term agreement, will you be comfortable with that? After all, the longer it takes to pay off your car, the more likely it is to depreciate in value.
Refinancing Student Loans
When it comes to student loan refinancing, a lower interest rate could lead to major savings. Whether youâve built up your own strong credit history or benefit from a cosigner, refinancing can be rewarding.
Usually, you can refinance both your federal and private student loans. Generally speaking, refinancing your student loans shouldnât be detrimental in the grand scheme of your financial future. However, be aware that refinancing from a federal loan to a private loan will have an impact on the repayment options available to you. Since federal loans can offer significantly better repayment options than private loans, keep that in mind before making your decision.
|If the cost of borrowing is low, securing a lower interest rate is possible||Credit scores can drop due to credit checks from lenders|
|If your credit score greatly improved, you can refinance to get a better rate||Credit history can be negatively affected by closing a previous loan to refinance|
|Refinancing a loan can help you lower expenses in both the short term and long term||Refinancing can involve fees, so be sure to do a cost-benefit analysis|
How to Prevent Refinancing from Hurting Your Credit
By planning ahead, you can put yourself in a position to not let refinancing negatively affect your credit and overall financial health.
Try to prepare by reading your credit reports closely, making sure there are no errors that could keep your credit application from being approved at the best possible rate. Stay one step ahead of any errors so you still have time to dispute them. As long as you take preventative measures in the refinancing process to save yourself time and money, you shouldnât find yourself struggling with the refinancing.
If refinancing makes sense for your situation, you shouldnât be concerned about it hurting your credit. It might not be the most ideal situation, but itâs extremely common and typically relatively easy for your credit score to bounce back.
If you notice that your new loan from refinancing causes alarming changes when you check your credit score, be sure to reach out to your creditor or consider filing a dispute. As long as youâre prioritizing your overall financial health through smart decision making and budgeting, refinancing shouldnât adversely hurt your credit in the long run.
The post Does Refinancing Hurt Your Credit? appeared first on MintLife Blog.
Though the COVID-19 crisis has resulted in widespread fitness center closures, many Americans still want to stay as healthy as possible. Depending on the level of services and equipment required, staying active can affect peopleâs budgets in a variety of ways. For now, virtual exercise classes and home gyms are the route most people are taking. Eventually, though, gyms will reopen at full capacity, and everyone will be able to reestablish his or her normal workout routine. When that happens, some places will be more conducive to jumping into a full-on fitness frenzy, and SmartAsset crunched the numbers to find where they are.
To locate the most fitness-friendly places for 2021, we compared 301 metropolitan areas across the following metrics: percentage of residents who walk or bike to work, fitness professionals per 10,000 workers, fitness establishments per 10,000 establishments, the percentage of restaurants that are fast-food establishments and the average wage of personal trainers. For details on our data sources and how we put all the information together to create our final rankings, check out the Data and Methodology section below.
This is SmartAssetâs seventh annual study on the most fitness-friendly places in the U.S. Read the previous version here.
- Western and Midwestern metro areas populate the top. For the second straight year, cities in the Midwest and West dominate the top 10 of this list. Six metro areas are in the West and three are in the Midwest. Western metro areas do well in terms of fitness establishments per 10,000 establishments â all rank within the top 8% of study for this metric â and they also rank within the top 14% of the study for the percentage of residents who walk or bike to work. Only one metro area in the top 10 is not in either of these regions â Ithaca, New York.
- Fitness-friendly cities are light on the drive-thrus. On average, across the 301 metro areas in our study, fast-food establishments represent 45% of all restaurants. Though fast food is popular, convenient and inexpensive, it tends to be relatively high in calories and low in nutritional value â making it tougher to be healthy if you eat a lot of it, regardless of your exercise levels. In the top 10 of this study, all but three metro areas have fewer than 40% of their restaurants serving fast food, so there is less temptation to go for an easy-but-unhealthy meal that can ruin all your hard work. The metro area with the lowest percentage of restaurants that are fast food is Wenatchee, Washington, where it is just 27%.
1. Missoula, MT
The Missoula, Montana metro area is the most fitness-friendly place in the U.S. for 2021. There are 131 fitness establishments â including places like gyms and sporting goods stores â per 10,000 total establishments in Missoula, the third-highest rate for this metric in the study. There are also plenty of fitness professionals living in Missoula, 59 per 10,000 workers, placing it sixth-best for this metric. Residents in Missoula also get plenty of exercise simply by walking or biking to work: 7.1% of residents choose to do so, the 17th-highest rate for this metric across the 301 areas we studied.
2. La Crosse-Onalaska, WI-MN
The La Crosse, Wisconsin metro area, which also includes parts of Minnesota, has 130 fitness establishments for every 10,000 total establishments, the fourth-highest rate for this metric. The metro area finishes in the top quartile for three other metrics as well, ranking 28th for fitness professionals per 10,000 workers (with 42), 33rd for the percentage of residents who walk or bike to work (at 5.2%) and 64th for the percentage of restaurants that are fast-food establishments (around 39%).
3. Bend, OR
The Bend, Oregon metro area cracks the top 10 for two of our metrics. It places fourth in terms of fitness professionals per 10,000 workers with 61, and seventh for fitness establishments per 10,0000 total establishments, at 116. Bend can be a bit pricey of a place to stay in shape, though. The average hourly wage of personal trainers is $18.72, placing Bend at 176th out of 301 for this metric.
4. Ann Arbor, MI
There are 67 fitness professionals per 10,000 workers in the Ann Arbor, Michigan metro area, the second-highest rate for this metric of the 301 metro areas we analyzed. For their commutes, 7.4% of residents walk or bike to work, the 15th-highest percentage in this study. There are also plenty of fitness establishments in the metro area if you prefer to work out in a dedicated space: At 112 per 10,000 residents, this is the 10th-highest rate of the 301 places we analyzed.
5. Bloomington, IN
Folks in the Bloomington, Indiana metro area might have more of an opportunity to get a workout in during their commute, with 8.0% of residents walking or biking to work, the eighth-highest rate in the study for this metric. Bloomington has two other metrics for which it finishes in the top fifth of the 301 metro areas of the study â fitness establishments per 10,000 total establishments (ranking 48th-highest, with 93) and average wage of personal trainers (ranking 49th-lowest, which makes it cheaper for the consumer, at $14.53).
6. Santa Cruz-Watsonville, CA
The metro area around Santa Cruz, California finishes ninth overall for its relatively low percentage of restaurants that specialize in fast food, at 33%. Santa Cruz also comes in 12th for the percentage of residents who walk or bike to work, at 7.5%. If youâre looking for help getting in shape, though, itâll cost you. The average wage of a personal trainer in the area is a steep $20.59, ranking in the bottom third of this study.
7. Flagstaff, AZ
Flagstaff, Arizona has the third highest percentage of residents who walk or bike to work we saw in this study, at 11.5%. There are also 109 fitness establishments per 10,000 total establishments, the 14th-highest rate we observed. Flagstaff is hurt, though, by its price: The average wage of a personal trainer in this metro area is $22.27, in the bottom sixth of this study.
8. Fort Collins, CO
Fort Collins is the first of two metro areas in Colorado to rank in the top 10 of this study, and it gets there on the strength of having 113 fitness establishments per 10,000 total establishments, ranking ninth of 301 metro areas for this metric. It also scores in the top 15% of the study for the percentage of residents who walk or bike to work (5.2%) and fitness professionals per 10,000 workers (46).
9. Boulder, CO
Boulder is the second Colorado metro area in the top 10, and it has two metrics for which it finishes in the top 15 out of 301 in the study overall. It comes in 11th for fitness professionals per 10,000 workers, at 53, and 12th for the percentage of residents who walk or bike to work, at 7.5%. Its final ranking is dragged down a bit due to its bottom-10 finish for the average hourly wage for personal trainers, at a pricey $27.25. However, it still ranks in the top 20 of the study for fitness establishments per 10,000 establishments, at 105.
10. Ithaca, NY
A whopping 14.5% of residents of Ithaca, New York walk or bike to work, the second-highest percentage in this study for this metric. Ithaca finishes eighth in terms of fitness establishments per 10,000 total establishments with 114. It is very expensive to get help with fitness in Ithaca, though. The average hourly wage for a personal trainer is $29.30, finishing third-worst out of 301 metro areas in this study for its high cost.
Data and Methodology
To find the most fitness-friendly places in the country for 2021, we examined data for 301 metro areas across the following five metrics:
- Percentage of residents who walk or bike to work. Data comes from the Census Bureauâs 2019 1-year American Community Survey.
- Concentration of fitness professionals. This is the number of fitness professionals per 10,000 workers. Our list of fitness professionals includes dietitians and nutritionists, recreational therapists, athletic trainers as well as fitness trainers and aerobics instructors. Data comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Occupational Employment Statistics and is for May 2019.
- Concentration of fitness establishments. This is the number of fitness establishments per 10,000 establishments. Our list of fitness establishments includes sporting goods stores and fitness and recreational sports centers. Data comes from the Census Bureauâs 2018 Metro Area Business Patterns Survey.
- Concentration of fast-food restaurants. This is the percentage of restaurants that are limited-service establishments. Data comes from the Census Bureauâs 2018 Metro Area Business Patterns Survey.
- Average hourly wage of personal trainers. Given the limited availability of direct data about the cost to consumers for personal training services, this metric acts as a proxy to indicate the relative affordability of hiring a personal trainer in a given metro area. Data comes from the BLS and is for May 2019.
First, we ranked each metro area in each metric. Then we found each placeâs average ranking, giving all metrics a full weight except for concentration of fast-food restaurants and average hourly wage of personal trainers, each of which received a half weight. Using this average ranking, we created our final score. The metro area with the highest average ranking received a score of 100, and the metro area with the lowest average ranking received a score of 0.
Tips for a Fit and Financially Secure Life
- Find the right financial fit. No matter what your fitness goals are, financially you want to make sure you are secure, and a financial advisor can help. Finding the right financial advisor doesnât have to be hard. SmartAssetâs free tool matches you with financial advisors in your area in five minutes. If youâre ready to be matched with local advisors that will help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.
- Consider the health of your budget. If you live somewhere where fitness is expensive, make a budget so that you can work the price into your monthly spending.
- Making bigger money moves? If youâre considering moving to one of the places we listed above, use SmartAssetâs tool to find out how much house you can afford before you make the big move.
Questions about our study? Contact email@example.com.
Photo credit: Â©iStock.com/PeopleImages
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The post A Parent’s Guide to Setting a Successful Budget for a College Student appeared first on Penny Pinchin' Mom.
Â You are getting ready to send your child off to college. Before you start helping them pack their belongings, there is one thing you need to do.
You need to help them create a budget. You need to teach them how to manage their money so they can learn the tools theyâll use long after they graduate.
WHY DO COLLEGE STUDENTS NEED A BUDGET?
The truth is everyone needs a budget. It does not matter your age. If you are dealing with money, a budget is necessary.
- Allows you to control your money. Rather than your money telling you what it wants to do, you get to tell your money where it needs to go. You are always in control when you have a budget.
- It teaches financial skills. A budget helps ensure that expenses such as rent, tuition, food, insurance, transportation, and housing are paid â before spending money on the fun stuff. (It also helps to make sure you donât spend more than you make.)
- Makes you aware of where your money goes. When you use a budget, you see how you spend. It is very simple to see if too much is going toward dining out when you should be building your savings.
- Helps you track your goals. You need to cover expenses but you should also work on building savings at the same time. Your budget allows you to not only see those goals but track them in real time.
DOESNâT A BUDGET MEAN YOU CANâT HAVE FUN?
Not at all! If anything, your budget will allow you to have guilt-free fun.
For example, the budget may allow you to spend $50 a week dining out. That means you can go to dinner with friends once (possibly twice) a week and enjoy yourself. You wonât be left wondering how you are now going to make rent.
WHAT TYPE OF BUDGET SHOULD YOUR STUDENT USE?
There are various methods of budgeting such as the 50/30/20 and the zero-based budget. For most college students, the zero-based is the simplest and easiest to follow.
The reason is that you track everything. You give every penny a job. That means if you earn $1,500 for the month that you âspendâ the entire $1,500.
You will first cover the needs (food, shelter, transportation) and then your wants. If there is money âleftoverâ after this is done, it can be added to your savings.
You can use other types but if you have never budgeted before, using this method is the simplest.
WHAT SHOULD A COLLEGE STUDENT INCLUDE IN A BUDGET?
The budget will vary for each person, as the income and expense will be different. However, these are the most common categories that need to be included in a budget:
- Renterâs insurance
- Car payment
- Car insurance (also saving for annual renewal fees)
- Utilities (phone, electricity, gas, water, etc.)
- Entertainment (movies, games, concerts)
- Dining out
- Emergency fund savings
Again, you may have items that are not included above or see some that you do not need.
However, the most important thing of all is that every penny is given a job. Account for everything you will spend each month so you never have too much month and not enough money.
HOW DO YOU KEEP TRACK OF YOUR BUDGET?
For most college students, apps or digital trackers are the best options.Â But, before you rush and sign up, keep the following in mind.
- Cost. Many apps are free and they will work perfectly fine. Other apps have a monthly fee attached to them. If you plan to use one of them, make sure you include that as one of your regular expenses. However, do not let the cost alone be a single factor when it comes to clicking the sign-up button.
- Security. Your security trumps all else. You need to make sure the app uses encryption as well as two-factor authorization.
Some of the best apps include:
- You Need a Budget (YNAB)
However, your student may also like the traditional paper and pencil method â and that is OK as well.
Find the right one that works best for your student. That is all that matters.
TEACHING THEM TO BUDGET
Knowing you need a budget and where to track it is just the beginning. You need to teach your child how to budget.
Start by looking at each category that they need on their budget. You may already know the cost for each category but if not, you may need to make phone calls or do research to know.
For example, you know the rent for the apartment is $850 a month but how much are the average utilities? Ask the manager for these costs so you can include them in the budget.
Next, decide how much they want to allow themselves to spend on food. Show them how much a meal costs for a single person at each restaurant you eat at so they can create an average.
You will then have them decide how much âfun moneyâ they want to include as well. You can base this on them wanting to go to the movies two times a month, one concert a month, or attending three events.
Now you can see the expenses for your student. Add their income to the budget and deduct the expenses. They will see if they are operating in the black (money left over) or in the red (spending more than they make).
Show them how to adjust the numbers by increasing their savings or lowering the amount they can spend on clothes â until the budget equals zero. Zero meaning they are spending every penny they earn.
And making them keep track now will help ensure they stay on track well into the future.
The post A Parent’s Guide to Setting a Successful Budget for a College Student appeared first on Penny Pinchin' Mom.
Itâs easy to forget about old 401(k) plans when changing to a new job. Some people simply forget about it because the company that manages it never reminds them. Others didnât forget about their old account, but theyâve been putting off the rollover because it sounds hard.
Many companies donât make the process easy for customers to roll over their 401(k) accounts from previous jobs. But it can be worth the inconvenience.
By not rolling it over, you might be losing some serious cash. Thatâs rightâlosing money, so itâs easy to miss. Here are a few key reasons to prioritize a 401(k) rollover.
3 Reasons to Transfer Your 401(k) to a New Job
There are three main reasons to rollover a 401(k):
1. To reduce fees. If the fees are too high with your previous employerâs 401(k), rolling over a 401(k) can be advantageous.
2. To maximize your money. If you arenât happy with the investment options in your old 401(k) and your new employer accepts rollover 401(k)s, you might be able to save money while investing in a broader range of investment vehicles.
3. To streamline your investments. If you leave your 401(k) where it is, you may not think about it very often. Itâs important to keep tabs on all of your investments so you can make sure they are on track and appropriate for your time horizon and goals.
You May Be Paying Hidden Fees
There are all sorts of fees that go into effect when you open a 401(k), including recordkeeping fees, maintenance fees, and fund fees. Expressed in a percentage, these fees inform the expense ratio of a plan.
Employers may cover those fees until you leave the company. Once youâre gone, that cost might shift to you without you even realizing it.
Fees matter: When you pay a fee on your 401(k), youâre not just losing the cost of the fee; youâre also losing all the compound interest that would grow along with it over time. The sooner you roll your plan over, the more you could potentially save.
You Might Be Missing Out on Better Investments
401(k) accounts grow at different rates depending on which assets you invest in. If the retirement savings plan at your new companyâor an individual retirement plan (IRA)âoffers a selection of stocks and bonds that better aligns with your financial goals, it might be time to initiate a rollover.
The money thatâs sitting in your old 401(k) could potentially grow at a faster rate if you roll it over into a new plan or into an IRAâitâs certainly worth investigating the growth rates of each. Keep in mind that investors can lose money when investing, too, so it always makes sense to consider your personal risk tolerance when deciding how to invest your retirement accounts.
You Could Lose Track of the Account
Itâs not your fault, itâs just logistics. Itâs harder and more time-consuming to juggle multiple retirement accounts than it is to juggle one. Until you retire, youâll be managing two (or more) websites, two usernames and passwords, two investment portfolios, and two growth rates for decades.
And if you leave this next job to go to a third (or a fourth, or a fifth), the 401(k) plans could pile up, creating even more tracking work for you. Plus, when youâre no longer with an employer, you might miss alerts about changes that may occur with an old retirement plan.
What to do With Your 401(k) After Getting a New Job
While itâs generally allowed to leave your account in your former employerâs plan when you switch jobs, there are other options.
• Cash out the account. If you take this route and youâre younger than 59Â½ years old, you will owe taxes and might also owe early withdrawal penalties depending on how you use the money.
• Roll over the 401(k) account. You could roll the account into your new employerâs retirement plan (if allowed) or into an IRA.
Cashing Out Early
Should you choose to cash out your 401(k), you will have to pay taxes on the money, and perhaps an additional 10% early withdrawal fee.
That said, there are some circumstances when the 10% fee is waived (but not the income tax), such as when the funds will be used for eligible education expenses, certain medical expenses, or expenses related to a first-time home purchase, among other circumstances.
Rolling Over a 401(k) to Your New Employerâs Plan
The process of rolling over a 401(k) might seem intimidating or inconvenient at first, especially if youâre moving onto your second job and this is the first time youâll be rolling over a 401(k). In actuality, the actual process of rolling over a 401(k) isnât too complicated once youâve decided where your existing funds are going to go.
Advantages of Rolling Over Your 401(k)
Rolling over your 401(k) to a new plan can be advantageous to your overall financial plan. Here are a few ways this transition might be beneficial to your financial well-being.
One Place for Tax-Deferred Money
Transferring your 401(k) to your new employerâs plan can help consolidate all of your tax-deferred dollars into one account. Keeping track of and managing one account may simplify your money management efforts.
A Streamlined Investment Strategy
Not only does consolidating your previous 401(k) with your new 401(k) make money management easier, it can also streamline your investment strategies.
Financial Service Offerings
Some 401(k) plans offer financial services, such as financial advisor consultations, to help employees achieve their retirement goals. If your previous employer didnât offer this service and your new plan does, taking advantage of this offering may help you achieve an investment plan that meets your exact goals rather than a standardized option.
Access to a Roth Option
An increasing number of employers are offering a Roth 401(k) option in addition to the traditional 401(k) option. With a Roth 401(k), the money you contribute is after-taxâit doesn’t minimize your taxable income. But when you take distributions in retirement, you won’t have to pay taxes on the withdrawal amount. As long as the account has been open for five years and you’re over 59 Â½, you can receive tax-free distributions.
A Roth 401(k) option can be appealing if you feel your income in retirement will be higher than your current income. If your new employer offers this benefit and you think it will be advantageous to your financial situation, then rolling over your 401(k) to a Roth 401(k) plan may make sense.
How to Roll Over Your 401(k)
So, how do you transfer your 401(k) to a new job? If you decide to roll your funds into your new employerâs 401(k), youâll most likely need to:
1. Contact the plan administrator to arrange the rollover. You may need to choose the types of investment you would like before you initiate the rollover. If not, you can take a lump-sum transfer and allocate the funds gradually to different investments of your choosing.
2. Complete any forms required by your employer for the rollover.
3. Request that your former plan administrator send the fund via electronic transfer or a check so you can move the funds directly to the administrator of the new plan.
Itâs possible that you might have to wait until your employerâs next open enrollment period to complete the rollover, but you might consider using that time to research the planâs investment options so youâll be ready when the time comes.
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Rolling Over a 401(k) Into an IRA
If you choose to roll your 401(k) funds into an IRA thatâs not employer-sponsored, a direct rollover is the method that takes most of the guesswork out of the transfer. This means that the funds will be taken from your previous account and rolled directly into the new account.
Doing it this way should avoid your previous lender sending you a check and resulting in any unforeseen early withdrawal tax situations.
Opening a new retirement account online is fairly straightforward, but there are some steps to opening an IRA that might be worth reviewing before you start. Once your funds are rolled over, youâll be able to choose the investments that work for your retirement goals.
401(k) Rollover Rules
When requesting a transfer, you may either select a direct and indirect rollover. With a direct rollover, the check is made out to the financial institution (for your benefit). Because the funds are directly deposited into the new account, no taxes are withheld.
With an indirect rollover, the check is payable to you, with 20% withheld for taxes. Youâll have 60 days to roll over the funds (80% of your previous plan) into an IRA or other retirement plan. If you want to contribute the full amount of your previous plan, you can add money to bring the lump contribution back up to the balance before rollover. At that point, youâd be able to count the 20% withheld as taxes paid.
There are many benefits to rolling over a 401(k) after switching jobs, including streamlining your retirement accounts and directing your money so that it suits your individual financial needs and goals. While some may view it as inconvenient, itâs actually a straightforward process whether you want to roll over a 401(k) into your new employerâs plan, or into an IRA.
Not sure which rollover strategy is right for you? SoFi InvestÂ® offers retirement savings plan options. With a SoFi Roth or Traditional IRA, investors have access to a broad range of investment options, member services, and our robust suite of planning and investment tools.
The information provided is not meant to provide investment or financial advice. Investment decisions should be based on an individualâs specific financial needs, goals and risk profile. SoFi canât guarantee future financial performance. Advisory services offered through SoFi Wealth, LLC. SoFi Securities, LLC, member FINRA / SIPC . The umbrella term âSoFi Investâ refers to the three investment and trading platforms operated by Social Finance, Inc. and its affiliates (described below). Individual customer accounts may be subject to the terms applicable to one or more of the platforms below.
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