Planning Your Next Vacation

Even though it’s the dead of winter, it’s not too early to start planning your next vacation… after all, spring break really is right around the corner! And it’s never too early to start planning your summer vacation, either.

Of course, any vacation planning nearly always starts with your budget. Where are you planning to go? Do you know how much you’ll spend over spring break? How much will that condo or beach house cost for a week or two? What will you eat? What will you do for entertainment while you’re on vacation?

More importantly, how will you pay for your vacation? Will you take cash? Or does it make more sense to use a credit card? Personally, I prefer to use a credit card with either a cash back reward, travel reward, or a 0% interest rate. Why? Because let’s face it, most credit cards offer far more protection for you than cash!

Not only are credit cards far safer than cash, but it’s far easier to replace a credit card than a wallet full of cash! And, with so many choices, you can not only save money with credit cards, but you might even earn cash back or free air miles (it all depends on what you want).

So, how will you pay for your spring or summer vacation?

Don’t Forget Your Auto Loan

Looking at your monthly expenses? Maybe you’ve been getting ready to do your taxes and you’re sorting through all those receipts, monthly statements, and bills for the year, comparing interest rates, calculating payments, and figuring your budget for the coming year? Maybe you’re looking for ways to put a little extra cash in your budget? Perhaps you’re reviewing your credit score and the improvements you’ve made over the past year? Or maybe it’s just time to think about replacing your current vehicle with one that’s more reliable, or newer, than the one you’re driving?

Whatever your reason for looking at your finances and where you can save money, the one area that you shouldn’t overlook is your auto financing. Even though you already have an auto loan, it doesn’t mean that you have the best auto loan for you or your current financial situation. Especially if you’ve made significant improvement in your credit score, refinancing your auto loan could be a smart move. Typically, if you have a low credit score when you buy a new vehicle, you pay a much higher interest rate than if you have a good to excellent credit score, so if your credit score improves, you’ll definitely want to consider refinancing later on. Not only could you see huge savings over the length of the loan, but you could also lower your monthly payments, putting more money into your budget!

And if you are looking for a new or used vehicle? You’ll definitely want to see what your options are BEFORE you go to the car dealership! Remember, the dealer usually gets a finder’s fee for that car loan, so their financing options are not always your best option. Know what you can do before you go and you are far more likely to get the best deal for you.

Here are some options that you’ll want to consider when it comes to auto financing:

The Best Way to Pay Off Those Christmas Bills

As the year winds down, the first of all those Christmas bills has undoubtedly already arrived in your mailbox, and if you’re anything like the rest of us, the bill is more than you expected. And it will take longer than you thought to pay it off, too. I don’t know about you, but I hate starting off the new year with last year’s bills hanging over my head, knowing that the interest alone will keep me from paying it off anytime soon. That’s why one of the first things I do after the holidays is to take a long, hard look at my credit card bills.

How much did I charge this year? What’s the interest rate on the credit cards with balances? What fees do those credit cards charge? How long will it take me to pay the credit card balances off if I only make the minimum payments? What impact will the bills have on my monthly budget? And if I’m not happy with the answers to those questions? Then I look for options.

What are your options? You could get a personal loan to consolidate all of your credit cards into one lower monthly payment, and if you have a lot of debt, that can be your best option. But a personal loan also has an interest rate attached to it and the term is usually anywhere from two to five years, so you’ll want to take both into consideration when figuring out how to pay off your debt. The other option that you have is one that I personally like to use when I’ve got a couple of credit cards that I want to get paid off quickly.

Balance transfer credit cards typically come with an introductory period of 0% interest on either purchases that you make with the card or on balances that you transfer from other credit cards. This introductory period can last anywhere from a few months to almost two years. That means you won’t pay any interest if you pay the card off within that introductory period! That’s right, NO INTEREST. That can really save a lot of money AND you may even have extra in your monthly budget. Just make sure that you plan your payments so that the balance transfer is paid off before the introductory period expires!

Where do you start? Why not start with one of these offers:

More Personal Loan Options

In our last post, we discussed the benefits of consolidating your credit card bills into one, low monthly payment with a personal loan.  Not only does this save you money on interest, but you’ll be able to pay the loan off sooner than simply making minimum payments on your credit cards, and you will probably end up with extra money in your monthly budget, too!

With that in mind, we wanted to share even more personal loan options with you:

Winding Down

As the year draws to a close, one of the most important things that you can do for yourself is to take a good look at where your money is going every month.   Besides housing, transportation, and other basic necessities, how many credit card bills do you pay every month?  And of those, how much money goes to interest every month?  Would you benefit from a lower interest rate?  

What if you were able to consolidate all of those bills into one lower monthly payment?  What if you could drastically reduce the amount of interest that you pay each month?  Would you be interested?

One of the best ways to consolidate your monthly bills, drastically reduce the interest that you pay, and free up cash in your budget is to consolidate all of those credit card bills into one personal loan with one monthly payment. 

That’s right, instead of making all those minimum payments, and never getting anywhere when it comes to paying off the balances, you can make one single payment every month AND you’ll have everything paid off in as little as a couple of years.  (If you’ve ever looked at the length of time that it takes to pay your credit card off by making just the monthly payment, you can appreciate the idea of bills being paid in full that soon!)  

And, depending on your credit score, a personal loan may have a MUCH LOWER INTEREST RATE than you’re paying on those credit cards!

So, why not start the new year right by combining all those monthly bills into one easy payment?  

Here are some of the best personal loan options available today:

Balance Transfers Can Save You Lots of Money

As the year draws to a close, many people take a long, hard look at their finances, looking for ways to save money on anything and everything.  Personally, I like to take a look at my credit card balances because that’s one of the best places to find savings.  If you can cut out just a fraction of the monthly interest on any one credit card, you can save money, but what if you could cut out all of the interest on all of your credit cards?   How much would those savings amount to?

If you’ve got good credit, cutting out all of the interest on one or more of your credit cards is actually fairly easy if you transfer the balances to a new credit card with a balance transfer incentive.  Right now, many credit card companies are offering up to 18 months interest free with balance transfers, and that gives you the opportunity to lower your monthly payments AND pay off the balance if you plan your monthly payments to coincide with the expiration of the interest free period.

Does a balance transfer card make sense for you?  Truthfully, a balance transfer card makes sense for most people.  After all, who wouldn’t want to save money on credit card interest over the course of the next year or so?

Not sure how much you could save?  Check out these balance transfer options:

It’s Christmas Time!

Are you ready for Christmas?

The holidays have rolled around once again, and once again, we’re all trying to figure out how to pay for all those gifts! Not only do the kids have long lists, but there are the family gatherings, Christmas parties at work, and even your annual Christmas gifts for the needy… so much that, this year, you might feel like the needy one! Relax, if money’s tight, and your credit’s not perfect, there are options, especially if you start early enough.

One of the best ways to save money for Christmas, or a vacation, or new furniture, or any really large purchase is to get yourself a prepaid card. Then, you simply have your employer automatically transfer a portion of your payroll check into your prepaid card account and then, when you’re ready to start Christmas shopping (or go on vacation or whatever), the money is already there.

Not a bad way to pay for the upcoming holiday season, is it?   Too bad it’s too late to do it that way.

Of course, if cash is not the way you plan to pay, then you’d better get busy working on your credit too!  Now, there are lots of options to apply for new credit cards, store cards, and so forth, but are you sure you’ll be approved?  Remember, you don’t want to apply for too many credit cards during the course of the year – it can really hurt your credit score.  And, if you do apply, you want to make sure that you’ll be approved (this is really important if your credit score is less than perfect).

One option with guaranteed approval is a secured credit card.  With a secured card, you’ll need to pay a deposit up front, and then the creditor will extend the same amount of credit to you.  You’ll use the card for purchases, make payments (including interest), and so forth, just like a regular credit card.  But, as I mentioned, you’ll have to have money up front for your deposit.  And that’s not quite the goal here, is it?  No, we’re planning for Christmas and if we had the cash for the deposit, we wouldn’t need to be looking at our options.  So, let’s move on.

The other option that I really like (and have used myself) is to open a Fingerhut Credit Account.  Not only does Fingerhut typically approve nearly everyone, but they also are really good about reporting your responsible credit use and regular payment history to the credit bureau every month.  And when it comes to great deals, including special interest free purchasing periods, increases in your credit line, and brand name merchandise, Fingerhut is hard to beat.  You simply get online, browse from among hundreds of thousands of competitively priced products, and they’ll ship your order right to your door!  It really is that easy.

But don’t just take my word for it – check out what Fingerhut has to offer you TODAY.

It’s October!

Well, it’s October, and you know what that means? Yes, your mailbox is likely filled with all sorts of offers… credit cards with no interest, catalogs with pre-approved lines of credit, and personal loan offers! Some of them look pretty tempting, don’t they? But, should you fill any of them out and return them? Should you complete the application online? Should you even consider the offers at all?

Honestly, yes and no to all of these questions. While the offers are definitely worth considering, you also need to do your research before applying for ANY credit card, catalog card, or personal loan.

First and foremost, check your credit score! Most of the mailers that you receive are based on the demographics of your state, city, town, or even your specific neighborhood, and not necessarily on your specific credit profile, so checking your credit first gives you the basic information that you need to start with before you even consider a single offer. If the offer is for a credit score that’s much higher than yours, you are likely to be rejected, which definitely hurts your credit score. And if the offer is for a credit score that’s much lower than yours, you will most certainly pay a higher interest rate, additional fees, and lose out on the perks that come with a credit card for better credit. So, start with your credit score.

Once you have your credit score in hand, you’re ready to move on to the next step. Consider each offer carefully! Remember, these are bulk rate mailers, and they’re not necessarily tailored to your specific needs, so what looks good at first may not compare to other options that you most likely have with other credit card, catalog, or personal loan vendors.

The best place to start is the individual credit vendor’s website. Are they legitimate? Are the terms that you see in your offer the same as you find online? Are they typically for individuals with credit scores in the same range as your credit score? Remember, these days, everything and anything is fair game to scammers out there trying to steal your money, your identity, or worse, and as such, you must consider everything and anything as suspect.

Once you’ve determined that the offer is legitimate, then it’s time to compare the offer in your hands to other offers that are out there. Are you getting the best interest rate? Are you getting the best rewards? Would you be paying fees? Is there a better option for you?

Unless you do the research, you can and you will lose out on the best credit card offers, and that will most certainly cost you more in the long run. So, do the research first, and then enjoy the benefits of those credit offers!

Here’s a good place to start:

Best Way to Pay for Christmas

It may seem like it’s a little early to be thinking about Christmas, but in reality, Christmas is just around the corner. That means it’s time to be thinking about your Christmas shopping budget and the best way to pay for Christmas gifts for those you love.

If you’re like most people, you’re already wondering what credit card you will use this year, or if your credit is less than perfect, how you’ll find the money in your weekly or monthly budget because you doubt you’ll be able to get the credit you need. The good news is, if you’ve had a financial setback, you still have options.

You might remember your mother ordering from the Fingerhut catalog when you were growing up (I know I do), and you may even remember the big Fingerhut Christmas catalog arriving every year (we studied it almost as closely as the Sears Wish Book), but what you may not know is that Fingerhut has come a long way since those days.

Not only is Fingerhut still around, but the company has grown, expanding their product lines to include nearly all of the most popular name brands, all at competitive pricing (you even order online), and they also are one of the companies that really work with those of us with less than stellar credit scores!

Opening a Fingerhut account can even help improve your credit score! So, what are you waiting for? Look what Fingerhut has to offer you:

Want the Best Interest Rates? Time’s Almost Up

Getting the best interest rates on mortgages, auto loans, personal loans, and even credit cards depends largely on two things – your credit score and the market.  Yesterday, the Federal Reserve raised the interest rate by .25% and they “signaled” two more planned interest rate hikes this year alone – that means that the rates on every single loan of any kind can be expected to go up by that same .25%.

Now, while that doesn’t seem like a lot of money, over the term of any loan, it can add up to a significant amount of money that you will pay in interest.  For example, that 30 year home loan, or that 6 year car loan, or even those credit cards that you’re only paying the minimum payments on each month… ALL of them will cost more, and not just with this rate increase, but with the two more that are expected before the end of this year.

So, what should you do?  Well, if you’re considering buying a home or a new car, now is definitely the time to lock in those loans!  And those credit cards?  Maybe it’s time to take out a personal loan at a lower, fixed rate so that you can get those paid off, too.  But remember, interest rates are going up again, so you don’t have much time to waste.  Here are some of the best personal loan offers we’ve found today: