The Best Way to Save for Vacation

Planning your summer vacation?  Have you figured out yet where the money for your trip is coming from?

If you’re like most of us, you’re already starting to save money for this year’s family vacation.  Maybe you’ve put away a little (or a lot) of this year’s tax refund, or you’re stuffing your change into a coffee can each week, or you’re even transferring money to your savings account every payday.  Well, here’s an even better way to not only save for your vacation, but to ensure that the money is actually available to you when you’re ready to go on vacation.  This year, instead of squirreling away your money in a coffee can, or co-mingling it into you savings account, why not set things up at work so that a certain percentage of your paycheck is automatically transferred to a prepaid debit card account?

Why use a Prepaid Debit Card to save for vacation?

Believe it or not, prepaid cards are actually fantastic tools to use when you’re trying to save money, especially if you have it set up so that money is automatically transferred to the card.  Not only does the automatic transfer happen without any effort on your part, but it also happens before you get a chance to spend the money on something else.

Want to go on a vacation?  Get a prepaid card and put away a certain amount each payday – when the time comes, you’ll have the money!  Want to save for Christmas?  Same thing – set it up so that the funds are automatically transferred to a Prepaid card account and, chances are, you won’t even notice that the money is gone.  But trust me, you will be thrilled when the time comes around to spend that money!

Oh, and while you’re away on vacation?  That prepaid card is far better than using your household debit card… you know, the one that’s tied to your bank account.  Yep, that’s right.  A prepaid card has ALL of the benefits of a credit or debit card, but not near as much of the risk that you take every time you swipe your bank issued debit card in an unfamiliar place…a place that’s dependent on tourism… a place that is a prime target for thieves.

But why not just use a credit card, you say?  Well, the answer to that is actually pretty simple:  INTEREST CHARGES.  That’s right, interest charges.  Chances are, if you use that credit card to take this year’s vacation, you’ll either not have the money saved up in the first place or you’ll overspend.  Either way, you’ll have a nice fat bill waiting for you when you get home.  (That pretty much ruins the trip for you.)  But, if you save the money now, and use your prepaid debit card when you go away, you’re more likely to stick to your budget, and since you already have the money saved when you leave, there won’t be a nasty surprise waiting for you in the mailbox when you get home.



Getting Married? Better Check Your Credit Scores

Getting married?  Planning your wedding?  Dreaming about your future?  Have you looked at both your credit scores lately?

Wait, what?  You haven’t discussed your credit scores?  When you marry someone, you also marry his or her credit score.  This can affect you as an individual, especially if your credit score is much higher than that of your future spouse, and it can affect you as a couple when the time comes to rent your first apartment, buy your first car, or even buy your first home as a married couple.

Sadly, most people don’t think to talk about their finances, their credit scores, or their monthly bills until the time comes to actually rent that first apartment, get that car, or buy that starter home.  And then there’s not enough time to fix any problems there might be before you have to pay a bigger deposit, a higher interest rate, or before you’re turned down for that home loan.

Instead, part of planning your future with your partner should also be planning your future finances, thereby ensuring that both of you are bringing the best financial picture possible to the table when you get married.

And if your credit or your partner’s credit is less than perfect?

Then planning ahead give you time to deal with the problems before they become both of your problems!  Remember, once you’re married, our credit scores are combined, and so are your assets (cash, retirement plans, etc.)

Think ahead, plan ahead, and protect your financial future.

The Best Way to Free Up Some Cash

Monthly credit card bills eating up all your cash?

Even if you’ve got reasonably good credit, you can still find yourself with too many credit card bills, and those bills can ruin your budget, cause you to be short on cash, and they can even cause you to go deeper into debt.  That’s right, too many bills can actually drag you deeper into debt, even as hard as you’re working to pay them off!

How many times have you paid all your bills and then had to use a credit card to pay for groceries because you’re short on cash?

That kind of defeats the purpose of paying extra on your credit cards, doesn’t it?  But, if you keep only paying the minimum payments, it can take years to pay off those credit cards, and you can’t afford to be strapped forever, can you?  And you don’t want to risk ruining your credit with the traditional “debt consolidation” companies out there, so what do you do?

If you’ve got good credit, the best way to free up cash in your monthly budget without ruining your credit score is to take out a personal loan to pay off those high interest credit cards.  Then, instead of having to pay a bunch of different sized payments every month, you’ll simply make one payment (typically a lot less than you’re paying now), once a month.  Terms for personal loans range from 36 months to 60 months.  That’s far less than the 7-10 years that it takes to pay off credit cards if you only make the monthly payment.

Think a personal loan might be the right choice for you?

If you’re serious about freeing up some cash AND getting out of debt sooner rather than later, one of the best options is a personal loan. With a personal loan, you’ll finally be able to pay off your credit cards, free up extra cash in your monthly budget, and start paying off all your debt. And you’ll probably save a lot of money while you do it!

The average personal loan saves the borrower hundreds, if not thousands, over the course of the loan. Money that you could use elsewhere. So, go ahead, apply for your personal loan today, and plan what you’ll do with the extra money in your budget tomorrow!

Applying is free, easy, and fast!

The Best Starter Credit Card

Fair Credit?  Bad Credit?  Non Existent Credit?

If you have little or no credit, or even bad credit, it’s hard to know where to start looking for a credit card that you can use to build a good credit score without paying a lot of up front fees, annual fees, monthly fees, or high interest rates.  And if you don’t take the time to read the fine print, you could end up with a credit limit that’s reduced to nearly half of your approved credit limit and start out with  a substantial balance on your account.  It kind of defeats the purpose of getting a credit card if you start out with almost no credit, doesn’t it?  Relax, there are still a few good starter credit cards out there!

Rising Mortgage Interest Rates May Influence Homebuyers

Interest rates for home mortgage loans have risen since November. Experts have taken notice — and so have homebuyers, since rate increases generally make homes less affordable.

What’s a prospective homebuyer to do? Wait for rates to drop again? Buy now, before they go even higher?

“The most important thing is to keep perspective,” says Greg Jaeger, president of USAA Residential Real Estate Services. He says rates were at 18% when he bought his first house in the 1980s, four times what they are today.

“Over the past eight years, we’ve become so conditioned to extremely low interest rates that some people get concerned about any increase, even when the rates are historically still very low,” Jaeger says.

But interest rate fluctuations represent real money to consumers. For example, as the rate crept up from November’s 3.3% to 4.125% two months later, the monthly payment on a 30-year conventional loan for $250,000 increased by $115.

For Jaeger, even the higher cost has a silver lining. “It may tip the scale for some potential homebuyers, but if it helps them look again at a home’s affordability, it could protect them from financial overreach.”

Interest rates fluctuate daily, and even throughout the day, but the changes typically are small. Even a bigger jump in interest rates could be offset by a decrease in home prices, so Jaeger advises not trying to time the market. “Instead, focus on the big picture,” he says. “Can I afford this? Does my budget allow a mortgage payment, and all the things that come with homeownership, and still allow me an emergency cushion and savings?”

If not, now may be a bad time to buy, no matter what the interest rate is. On the other hand, if your financial and personal situations make homeownership a good deal, buying at the current rates may be one of the best investments you ever make.


‎02-27-2017 07:00 AM

Content provided courtesy of USAA.