Say Goodbye to the Stress of Your Monthly Car Payment

Posted on Monday 18 October 2010

This is a guest post from Megan at MoneyAisle.com.

Let’s face it—stressing over monthly bills is very commonplace. Many people are living paycheck-to-paycheck and are constantly thinking of new ways to cut back. Recently, Ms. Money Savvy refinanced her mortgage to put some money back in her pocket, which many people are deciding to do since the rates are at a record low.

However, there is an additional loan that can be refinanced to generate some extra cash each month—your car loan. Unlike a mortgage, car loans are personal loans, and therefore only involve the borrower and the lender, which makes the overall process much simpler than a mortgage refi in terms of paperwork.

Most people can complete a car refinance if their mileage is 50,000 or less and the vehicle is six years old or newer—keep in mind each lender is subject to their own qualifications. However, these limitations are fairly general. Also, credit and borrowing history plays a major role in being approved for a refinance. If you credit score is fair or better, and you have no prior delinquencies, most lenders will be willing to help!

Once you feel you may qualify to refinance, you can apply with a new lender of your choosing. An exchange of paperwork will occur, including your vehicle title, registration, and financial background information, as well as the pay-off of your current loan.

Refinancing a car loan shortens the term and lowers the interest rate, allowing your monthly payments to be much less.  So, give yourself a break on your bills by looking into refinancing your own car loan.

MoneyAisle.com runs live, reverse auctions (like a reverse e?Bay) for consumers shopping for auto loans. Consumers get exclusive rates and instant one stop shopping in a fun, dynamic auction format, and banks and Credit Unions get inexpensive access to new customers, accounts, and loans.

savvy @ 8:00 AM
Filed under: General Finances
Protect Your Identity Week

Posted on Thursday 14 October 2010

Protect Your Identity Week – who even knew there was such a thing?  Apparently it exists and it starts this Sunday.  Last year alone, 11.1 million people became victims, (a 12.5 percent increase over the previous year)!  We may be putting ourselves at risk by simply writing a check, using a credit card or even our ATM cards; so our strongest weapon against such identity theft really is education.

So how can you take advantage of PYIW this year?

  • There will be more than 150 free events in communities across the country offering educational workshops, credit report reviews, and paper shredding.  You can find an event using this event map!
  • Easy to follow tips, resources and a self-assessment quiz to determine your own personal risk of identity theft are all available at the Protect Your ID Now website as well.
  • Daily blogs will be available from nationally known ID theft expert and McAfee consultant, Robert Siciliano, which can be read here: www.protectyouridnow.org/R_Siciliano.cfm
  • And excitingly this year, Cintas Corporation is providing free paper shredding at events nationwide with the goal of making the Guinness Book of World Records for the most paper collected in a 24-hour period!
  • Finally, be sure to get involved with PYIW on Facebook and Twitter, where NFCC will provide daily tips and PYIW articles all throughout the month.

I generally check my credit reports at least once  a year.  Some might think it’s unnecessary but there have been a few times I found an incorrect entry.  Once there was a bill from a city I hadn’t lived in years that was shown as in collections.  Never mind that I had never been contacted even once!  What are you doing to protect your credit?

savvy @ 12:18 AM
Filed under: Credit
5 Myths About Generation Debt

Posted on Wednesday 13 October 2010

The following list is from Kimberly Palmer, author of the new book Generation Earn. If you’re interested in reading more, check her out at www.generationearn.com.


5. Myth: We’re clueless about finances.
Truth: It turns out we know a lot – in some cases, more than our parents’ generation. A survey by the online brokerage firm Scottrade found that the recession actually inspired 20-somethings to educate themselves about how the economy works as well as to learn more about their own personal financial situations. In addition, a higher percentage of respondents said they’re doing more research before investing relative to older groups. Part of the reason we’re excelling at managing our money is because we see it as fun, instead of a tedious obligation, Scottrade reports.
4. Myth: We’re depressed about our financial future.
Truth: It’s true, we’ve had it rough: We’ve experienced two recessions before we’ve even hit our career strides (first from the dot-com bust, then from the real estate implosion) and unemployment is highest among young adults – an astounding 37 percent of people between the ages of 18 to 29 are unemployed or out of the workforce. But we still manage to stay upbeat about our futures, an essential skill if we’re going to ride out these challenges. According to the Pew Research Center, only three in ten young people say they earn enough money to lead “the kind of life they want,” while nine in ten say they believe they will be able to do so in the future. Only 76 percent of Gen Xers and 46 percent of Baby Boomers say the same thing.
3. Myth: We waste our money on frivolous purchases.
Truth:  We care less, not more, about brand names and keeping up with the latest fashion compared to older generations. Surveys taken since the recession show that 20-somethings report caring less about following the latest trends and styles, preferring a newer, frugal mindset. A survey by TNS Retail Forward found that shoppers in their 20s and 30s were most likely to buy the least expensive versions of products.  Part of that comes from the fact that we’re savvy consumers – we grew up knowing how to use the Internet to find the best deal, and we don’t hesitate to use it.
2. Myth: We earn less than our parents did at our age.
Truth: In many ways, we’re the richest generation to have existed. Yes, we face a relatively high unemployment rate, but the jobs we do have come with record benefits – largely health insurance-related. Studies by the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis show that after you adjust for inflation and benefits, median compensation rates have increased 28 percent since 1975. That helps explain why a Pew survey – taken after the recession – found that 60 percent of respondents under the age of 40 say their standard of living is better than that of their parents at the same age. Just 15 percent said it was worse.
1. Myth: We deserve the name “generation debt” because we have so much of it.
Truth: Yes, many of us carry student loan debt. And some of us carry monster credit card debt. But we’re not defined by it, because there’s so much more on our minds. We want to own nice homes, feel financially successful, support our families, one day send our kids to college, and change the world at the same time. Although we may now have some money to invest, our goals involve far more than just becoming rich. The financial crisis of 2008 dovetailed with a growing interest in sustainability, simplicity, and even frugality. Instead of living exclusively for our own pleasures, we have embraced a new level of social consciousness. We care about the environment, our cities, and social justice.
The bottom line? We don’t need to resign ourselves to lives defined by debt. We can earn more, save more, and live more richly – largely because we’ve redefined what “rich” means.

savvy @ 7:05 AM
Filed under: General Finances
Budgeting for Small Businesses: 10 Money Allocation Tips

Posted on Monday 11 October 2010

Budgeting can be critical to the success or failure of a small business. Where as a big company or corporation might have some leeway in their budget, provided by significant assets, cash reserves, additional credit lines or diversification of investments, a small business is often limited in its ability to weather fierce financial storms and downturns. With many small businesses barely scraping enough sales together to make it month-to-month, the ability to budget effectively and accurately can be crucial to how a small business conducts its operations and whether it survives to see another year.

1. Forecasting: Forecasting projected sales and expenses for the future can be instrumental in the construction of a small business budget. These numbers can give you a better idea of where the business’ financial future is headed, what to base a budget upon, and allow you to then break down your numbers into budgetary expense lines, assigning to each line a budgeted amount.

2. Review Historical Data: Taking previous years’ numbers into account when creating a budget can be helpful in getting a feel for how much a business spends and upon what. Not only can this provide a glimpse into the expenses your business might encounter in a typical year, but might also provide insight to rises or dips when it comes to seasonal factors or industry trends that could better help you plan for months where you might need to tighten your business’ belt a bit or when you can splurge a little.

3. Consider Industry Trends and Diversification: When you budget for your small business, it can be important to take into account industry trends and consider ways to diversify. With technology constantly changing and advancing, it’s important to look at ways your industry might change or ways in which you may be able to adjust your business to meet new market needs. Considering such developments might enable you to pad your budget a bit to allow more leeway to meet these needs or make such adjustments.

4. Wiggle Room: You never know when an emergency could occur or an unexpected drop in revenue could leave you searching for a little extra room in your budget to keep your business afloat. Consider aspects outside your realm of control that could affect your business’ income, expenses or ability to operate, and consider giving yourself a budgetary cushion in the event things don’t go as expected.

5. Pertinent People: While you might be the person creating your small business’ budget, this doesn’t mean that there aren’t other people in your operation that might have valuable input to contribute to the creation of that budget. There could be department heads, managers, accountants, and similar pertinent people that you might invite to offer their expertise and knowledge to help you formulate the best budget for your business.

6. Explain Your Budget: A budget may not be worth the paper it’s printed on if you don’t have the rest of your business’ team on board with making it a success. If others don’t know how to contribute to the meeting of a budget, you might find yourself in a loosing battle to make your budgeted numbers a reality. A meeting in which the budget is explained, as well as one that ensures the pertinent people of your business understand how they can make a difference can help align the stars when it comes to meeting your budget’s numbers.

7. Set Goals: Just because you’ve explained your budget to the relevant parties involved in your business’ operations doesn’t necessarily mean they will care about or abide by it. Setting goals for your team members to achieve regarding the portion of the budget that they affect or even assigning bonuses based upon budgetary expectations can have the members of your business who have the greatest impact upon the budget making sure they stand up and take notice.

8. Revisit Your Budget: Creating a budget and then just sitting back and hoping all goes to plan is not usually the best way to ensure a budget’s success. It is often critical to the success of a budget that it is revisited, revised and updated on a regular basis.

9. A Backup Plan: Having a backup plan in the event that things don’t pan out when it comes to your budget can help keep you and your business out of financial trouble. A cash reserve, knowing what expenses can be cut in a pinch or where adjustments can be made in the budget to squeeze out another dollar or two can help you maintain business as usual even if there is a flaw in your budget or you aren’t making the numbers you expected.

10. Understand Assets and Asset Allocation: In the event of a budgetary crisis, you may be forced to call upon means that you might not have expected to need. Understanding where your assets lie and how accessible they are can provide your business with the ability to outlast a budget crisis should one occur and allow you to know how long and how effectively you might be able to survive such a crisis.

This article was contributed by Tom Becker, a personal finance writer at Money Choices where he impartially reviews financial products.

savvy @ 6:54 PM
Filed under: Small Business