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As our economy continues to improve following the Great Recession, personal loans look to be increasing in popularity, says a recent report by TransUnion. With delinquencies falling and more lenders entering the market, TransUnion reports that personal loans are becoming more available. The report says there are an increasing number of well-funded online lenders and the appeal of personal loans is increasing for both secured and un-secured personal loans.

If you are working on improving or re-building your credit, a personal loan may be the way to go. For those that have had trouble in the past keeping credit card balances in check, a personal loan may be a safer way for you to rebuild your credit as they are not a revolving account and cannot be maxed out again and again. Once you pay off the loan, it's gone. Typically, these are short term loans with terms of one to five years. Un-secured loans have no collateral attached to them, while secured loans are usually made on items like motorsports equipment or furniture.

I often recommend that in order to maintain and grow a good credit score to have a variety of credit lines, and a personal loan could be a good option to increase your variety of accounts. However, as always, be wise when deciding to open a new credit line. Make sure you are doing it for the right reasons, not just an impulse purchase of a boat. Keep your budget in place and create a plan to pay off the purchase. And, of course, you will need to be careful to pay all of your bills on time or your good intentions could turn into a derogatory mark on your credit report.

As always, if you have any questions regarding personal loans or improving your credit score, drop me a line.
Admin · 30 vistas · Escribir un comentario
22 Feb. 2017
What is the best debt relief option for you. Our infographic will help you understand the pros and cons of each optionDebt is a way of life for most Americans, some of it good, much of it bad.

Let's start with a positive spin: Handled responsibly, debt can be the impetus toward great investments in homes and education, serving as a key economic engine. In other words, if you used credit to buy a home and get a college education, you are on the good side of debt.

Then, there is the bad side.

Debt among U.S. consumers is escalating at a dangerous pace, putting younger generations at a financial risk that was never experienced by their parents. It usually starts with irresponsible use of credit cards and grows worse as unforeseen circumstances like unemployment, medical emergencies or unforeseen changes in a family situation come into the picture.

According to a study by the Pew Charitable Trusts, 69% of American consumers view debt as a necessity, but prefer not to have it. Meanwhile, 85% of Americans believe that others use debt to live beyond their means. Despite that apparent disdain, the debt load for Americans keeps rising.

The Federal Reserve says that the average household debt is up to $132,529 (including mortgages) a jump of 11% in the past decade. Credit card debt and auto loans are climbing over the $1 trillion mark. Student-loan debt has hit a staggering $1.3 trillion with 44.7 million borrowers, who owe an average of $37,172. That figure alone is up 186% in the past decade!

The obvious reason that debt keeps rising is simple: Household income is up 28% in the past 13 years, but the cost of living has increased by 30%. In other words, we're not making enough money to cover the expenses we take on.

Beyond keeping up with daily expenses, irresponsible spending has taken a toll. The path to a credit crisis is paved through restaurant bills, designer clothes and vacations at five-star hotels. Many families, even with a well-meaning financial plan, don't pay close attention until the hole gets so deep, there is no way out.

They need solutions.

Where to Find Debt Relief

Fortunately, there are several methods to reduce debt - and maybe even eliminate it - in a consistent and logical manner. This can be done on your own, if you have discipline, but it's often beneficial to partner with financial professionals, who can negotiate lower rates with lenders, refinance homes or create budgets that keep you on the right course.

Some of the professional debt-relief solutions include:

Credit counseling

Debt Management Programs

Debt Consolidation Plans

Debt Settlement

Bankruptcy

 

Here is a look at each of those solutions and how they might provide some debt relief for you.

Services Often Left to a Professional

While you can handle debt-relief solutions yourself, some options are often left to a professional.

Credit Counseling

Working with a nonprofit credit counseling agency provides a clear picture of your financial options. They will review your budget, evaluate debt-relief alternatives and suggest solutions.

PROS

It's free. Most nonprofit organizations offer credit counseling sessions free, but be sure to check. Some agencies are for-profit and could require fees.

It's professional. Counselors are certified by a national organization. They will teach you the basic skills to reduce debt and manage a workable budget.

It's thorough. Credit counseling firms don't portray themselves as quick-fix solutions. It will require multiple phone calls to sort out your financial picture and provide you a budget that is workable. They offer thorough solutions to complicated problems.

CONS

Do some research. Not all agencies deliver what they advertise. Get advice before choosing an agency. Ask family or friends if they've used a credit counseling service. Make sure you get an organization that provides certified counselors.

Be flexible. The advice you get may not be what you wanted to hear. A good credit counselor evaluates your goals and the resources before suggesting a plan of action.

Stick to it. It takes patience and perseverance to succeed. Too many consumers drop out of the program before they eliminate their debt.

 

Debt Management Plan

This is the solution most often suggested by credit counselors. The goal is to eliminate debt by reducing interest rates and fees, while providing a lower monthly payment. Under the debt management plan, you promise to pay back the full principal over time. Debts from credit cards and other lines of unsecured credit can be efficiently managed.

PROS

It's organized. You make one monthly payment on consolidated debts, giving you the ability to handle your finances more efficiently.

It's good for your credit score. By keeping your payments on track, your credit score will improve over time. There is a tangible reward for consistent payments.

It's budgeting 101. Your credit counselor will help you devise an affordable monthly budget that should improve your understanding of money management.

CONS

The time. This program typically takes 3-5 years to eliminate all debt.

The Cost: There is usually an enrollment and maintenance fee.

No Go: If you drop out of the program, you lose the concessions made by your creditors so the interest rate on your debt will go up and there could be late fee payments.

 

Debt Consolidation

This is a program where you take out one loan to pay off all unsecured debts. In the process, you hope to reduce the interest rate paid on your debts and make one manageable monthly payment. In effect, your multiple debts are combined into one.

PROS

Several avenues available. If you choose a bank or credit union to get a debt consolidation loan, the competition between them could mean a low interest rate. Finding a zero-percent balance transfer credit card is another avenue.

They have expertise: Certified debt-consolidation experts can find the lowest monthly payment. They know how to negotiate with lenders.

Ease financial fatigue: There is an emotional burden to being in debt. Seeing your interest rates and monthly payments lowered will bring a welcome wave of relief.

CONS

Are you qualified: Not everyone is eligible for debt consolidation loans, especially if your credit score has suffered while you piled up debt.

Watch out for fees: Read the fine print on that zero-percent balance transfer card. There might be a hidden fee or time restriction that negates other advantages.

Collateral damage: Beware of secured loans that put your home, car or other assets at risk if you can't pay back the loan.

Debt Settlement

In a debt settlement, the lender agrees to accept less than the full balance of a debt in return for a lump-sum payment from the consumer. Debt settlement is generally a consideration for people with very poor credit.

PROS

You may pay less. The consumer usually ends up paying 60-80% of the original debt, but it could be as little as 50%.

Expertise pays off. Though you could try this yourself, debt settlement companies are experts at negotiating with creditors.

CONS

There are many. This is considered the highest risk choice for many reasons, tops of which might be that many credit companies won't accept debt settlement offers.

It costs how much? Debt settlement companies get paid a percentage of the debt solved or a percentage of the amount saved. When the math is finally done, the fee plus the debt paid often come out to 80-90% of what was originally owed.

Credit Score Issues: One thing is certain: your credit score will be damaged. The lender, collector or credit-card company will report the debt as "settled for less than agreed'' or "settlement accepted'' for seven years. Also, even though you are dealing with the debt-settlement company for payments, the lenders will report late-payment status updates to the credit bureaus. That could be the case until the account is actually settled.

Bankruptcy

This is the last-ditch solution if your financial situation has become so overwhelming that there doesn't appear to be a way out. Bankruptcy offers a "fresh start" though with lots of restrictive conditions. You can file for either a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, which cancels your debts, or a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, which sets up a 3-5 year repayment plan to eliminate your debts.

PROS

Starting all over. This is a chance to wipe out all your debt and start from scratch. Hitting the reset button on your finances can restore your peace of mind after what probably was years of daily worries about debt.

Protection from harassment: When you file for bankruptcy, the court issues an "automatic stay,'' meaning that creditors will be barred from making collection attempts on your debts through phone calls and letters. Creditors will deal exclusively with your attorney and not you.

Non-disruption of life: You shouldn't lose the important assets you own in a bankruptcy. Things like your home, retirement savings, clothing, cars up to a certain value and other personal items are exempt from creditors.

CONS

Credit score ruined. Starting over applies to your credit score as well. Bankruptcy stays on your credit report for 7-10 years, meaning lenders will see evidence that you could not pay your bills. This means paying very high interest rates for any type of loan, whether it be a credit card or an attempt to get a mortgage.

It's Expensive: First, you must search for a good attorney (they don't work for free). There are court filing fees, paralegal fees, bankruptcy trustee fees, photocopying charges and consumer counseling fees. It adds up quickly.

Some debts can't be eliminated: Debts like student loans, alimony, child support and back taxes owed to the government, can't be eliminated by bankruptcy. You still owe those bills and are responsible for paying them.

Services Consumers Can Handle Themselves

There is a do-it-yourself angle to finding debt-relief options. If you want to save some money and potential aggravation, it's necessary to educate yourself in the areas where it requires a little quick thinking, a phone call or common sense.

But consumers must be disciplined. They must be willing to keep their own records. And it helps to have an open mind because there are times when adjustments are necessary. This isn't a game for the feint of heart -- or the inflexibly regimented mind.

Tracking Your Spending

Where is your money going, anyway? It's time to get a handle on your daily living expenses, such as groceries, personal items and transportation. If you don't know where the money is going, you might unwittingly be growing the debt.

PROS

It's free: It's your effort and wherewithal. If you're trying to eliminate debt, free things will catch your eye. Here's an obvious one.

Budget help: When tracking your finances, budgeting can be a snap. And you'll be surprised where the money is going. No doubt, you'll make adjustments , some of them quite easily.

CONS

Time consuming: Unless you are extremely thorough, it can get tiresome to account for each expense at the time of purchase.

Forgetfulness: Will you remember to accurately track each and every purchase? Really? Be honest.

Use Budgeting Software

There are plenty of options and tools made for individuals to stay financially responsible. It's not just for large companies.

PROS

It's a snap: Budgeting software can keep a virtual log and deduct purchases from available income. There are even smartphone apps to simplify budgeting.

Accuracy: Built-in calculators and automated alerts can track trends in your spending habits. It's a lot easier than doing it in your head.

CONS

Software for dummies: Some budgeting software and apps aren't easily understood. They aren't useful if you don't understand the methods. It might require some training.

Refinancing Your Mortgage

If your home is underwater -- you owe more than the home is actually worth -- or if mortgage rates are especially low, this is a great debt-relief option. Do your research, find a trustworthy lender and go from there.

PROS

It saves money: There are fees, of course, but by doing your own legwork, the cash that you'd pay a professional, stays in your own pocket.

Great Education: Refinancing your home will give you a crash course in logistics, real estate and finances.

CONS

It can drive you crazy: Exhaustive research. Endless phone calls. Aggravation. Are these exercises you generally try to avoid? If so, maybe it's worth paying a professional.

Paperwork Trail: The loan application includes a complete review of your finances and employment history. You must provide recent income tax returns, pay stubs, proof of checking and savings accounts, investment records and more. Again, if this doesn't sound enjoyable

Renegotiate Your Credit Card Bill

You'd be surprised at the flexibility of some credit-card companies. They will negotiate terms on the interest rate you pay and might discuss a lump-sum payment to clear your debt. They are often motivated by getting SOMETHING, rather than nothing.

PROS

Saving Money: By renegotiating your Annual Percentage Rate (APR), your monthly payment will be more affordable.

I'm Easy: The negotiation doesn't require knowing the right people or making an appointment. It begins by calling the toll-free phone number for your credit-card company. Talk to them. They might listen.

CONS

The right information: You must know what to ask. Research your options. They might not lower your interest rate, but they might agree to a lump-sum settlement.

The consequences: Before agreeing to a solution, you should have educated yourself on the consequences.
Admin · 29 vistas · Escribir un comentario
21 Feb. 2017
By Jocelyn Baird, NextAdvisor.com

There comes a time in many people's lives when they need more money than they have. Sometimes a credit card can be a quick solution, but there are situations where credit cards just won't work, and taking out a loan looks like the smartest option. All loans are not created equal, and in recent years the personal loan has become a great option for people to use. However, you might be wondering just what makes a personal loan different from a traditional loan from your bank. After all, personal loans can seem similar -- especially considering many banks now offer them alongside more traditional options. There are some key differences, which are important to know when choosing the right loan for your needs.

What makes a personal loan personal?

A traditional loan typically requires that you put up some kind of collateral, such as your house or your vehicle, in order to receive the loan. This gives the lender something to repossess if you default on your loan payments. This type of loan is also known as a "secured" loan, and while it might come with low interest rates, it also comes at a high risk to your livelihood if you were to get behind on payments. By contrast, a personal loan usually does not require collateral -- this can be called "unsecured." You are given an interest rate based on your creditworthiness, and the lender uses that information to form a basis for how much money it feels you'll be able to pay back. Banks and services offering personal loans may look at a number of things -- from your credit scores and reports to your income -- to determine your ultimate interest rate and how much you can be approved to borrow. Another great benefit of a personal loan is that it is meant for personal use -- you could take a loan out for just about anything, whereas many traditional loans require you to use it for a specific purpose, such as paying for a new car.

How could a personal loan benefit me?

You get your money faster. Traditional loans are often bogged down with paperwork with forms that may require you to sign in person. Personal loans, on the other hand, often have a very brief application with a quick turnaround time. Some services, such as AvantCredit or Lightstream, promise funds within the next business day once you are approved and have provided an e-signature. Peer-to-peer lending services may take a little while longer, but the process usually takes no more than 14 days.

It's not always borrowing from the bank. Many people these days don't trust banks and want to have the ability to turn to alternative places to find their financial solutions. Peer-to-peer lending is a relatively new personal loan business that has begun to catch on across the country. Rather than borrow money from a bank or other financial institution, services like Lending Club and Prosper allow approved borrowers to create a loan listing, which is then advertised to investors who supply the funds until the total loan amount has been received. These investors are regular people or companies that wish to use the peer-to-peer lending service as an investment opportunity. The lending service itself usually takes a small percentage of the total amount received -- known as a closing fee -- before the funds are disbursed to the borrower's bank account.

Are there any downsides to a personal loan?

Interest could be high. If you don't have great credit, chances are, you might end up with a very high interest rate. Since lenders aren't taking collateral, they only have your credit history and income information to base their decision on. Someone with a poor-to-average credit history might not seem worth the gamble, and so a higher interest rate will be tacked on to ensure the lender gets his money's worth. However, one of the great benefits to a personal loan is that they are almost always a "fixed rate" -- meaning the interest rate you receive will not change throughout the duration of your loan. In other words, your first payment will usually be exactly the same as your last -- so you just need to make sure you can maintain your monthly payments.

Sometimes charge hidden fees. Unfortunately, not all personal loan services have the interests of their borrowers at heart. Some charge hidden fees, so it's a good idea to read through all of the fine print before you commit. Something to look out for is what's called a "prepayment fee." This is a fee charged if you decide to pay off your loan early, which some loan services tack on to try and recoup some of the money lost by not receiving your full interest over the long-term. Helpfully, we have reviewed many of the top personal loan services to let you know which offer the best rates -- and outline what fees are associated with your loan. Most of the top-rated services don't charge any fees, beyond the usual late or rejected payment fees.

To learn more about personal loans and see how they could benefit you, be sure to check out our personal loan review page."

This blog post originally appeared on NextAdvisor.com.

Top 8 Financial Worries Of Americans

8. Affording Minimum Credit Card Payments

Very/moderately worried: 24 percent

Not too/not at all worried: 60 percent
Admin · 23 vistas · Escribir un comentario
21 Feb. 2017
Are you looking for some good social media blogs to read? Look no further!

Our sixth-annual social media blog contest generated over 600 nominations.



A panel of social media experts carefully reviewed the nominees and finalists. Each of the social media blogs was analyzed based on a number of factors, including content quality, post frequency and reader involvement.

With that in mind, here are 10 social media blogs to put at the top of your reading list.

top social media blogs of 2015 winnersDiscover the top social media blogs of 2015.

#1: Buffer Social

Buffer Social, which has one of the best curated blogs in the social media space, provides well-researched, comprehensive content that's useful for all levels of social media marketers.

ck-2015-blog-winner-buffersocialBuffer Social offers the best tools and strategies to keep you up to date on social media.

#2: Grow

Grow by Mark W. Schaefer flips content marketing on its head. His superb content consists of thoughtful experiences, which are devoid of ego and designed to help other businesses find success.

ck-2015-blog-winner-grow-mark-schaeferGrow your company, reputation, customers, impact and profits. Grow yourself.

#3: Jon Loomer

Jon Loomer's core approach to content rocks. He shares fantastic, in-depth articles focused on Facebook that include experiments, real-life examples and supportive graphics.

jon loomer blogJon Loomer's blog is enthusiastic, helpful, detailed and well-illustrated.

#4: Convince & Convert

Convince & Convert's Jay Baer continues to raise the bar for seasoned marketers. This established thought leader creates consistent, quality content.

ck-2015-blog-winner-convince-and-convertConvince & Convert takes your social media and content marketing from good to outstanding.

#5: Rebekah Radice

Rebekah Radice has a beautifully laid out blog that's easy to read. She is a strong writer who provides in-depth advice for novice to intermediate marketers.

ck-2015-blog-winner- rebekah-radiceRebekah Radice helps you maximize the potential of your social media.

#6: Socially Sorted

Socially Sorted's Donna Moritz shares solid content with thought-provoking and curiosity-driven headlines, along with great visuals.

ck-2015-blog-winner-socially-sortedSocially Sorted shows how to get more reach, referrals and results with visual social media and content strategy.

#7: RazorSocial

RazorSocial, published by Ian Cleary, has tons of detailed articles for businesses. Plus, Ian's stellar software tool reviews include his favorite features, as well as step-by-step instructions on how to use them.

RazorSocial's useful content is delivered with no-nonsense, practical, actionable, step-by-step instructions.RazorSocial's useful content is delivered with no-nonsense, practical, actionable, step-by-step instructions.

#8: Jenn's Trends

Jenn's Trends, by Jenn Herman, shares quality content while narrowing in on her niche: Instagram for businesses. Jenn's tips are helpful for novice to advanced marketers.

ck-2015-blog-winner-jenns-trendsJenn's Trends has an engaging style that is easy to digest.

#9: Simply Measured

Simply Measured has well-written content, which includes outstanding data and hands-on reporting of actual case studies.

ck-2015-blog-winner-simply- measuredThe content found on Simply Measured benefits any social media marketer.

 #10: SocialBro

SocialBro provides quality posts on seldom-discussed topics. There are lots of gems of great advice on this blog.

ck-2015-blog-winner-socialbroSocialBro's blog shares the latest social media product news, insights, tips and features.

Congratulations to the winners! Be sure to check out these amazing social media blogs.

sme_top10blog2015The badge of distinction: If you're a winner, you can post the image you see here on your blog. Please link back to this page.

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Special thanks to our judges: Douglas Karr (author of Corporate Blogging for Dummies and founder of the Marketing Technology blog), Nichole Kelly (author of How to Measure Social Media and CEO of Social Media Explorer) and Pat Flynn (founder of Smart Passive Income).

What do you think? Share your thoughts and comments in the box below.

Admin · 391 vistas · Escribir un comentario
18 Feb. 2017
When will the jobs return? That's been the question in this glacially slow recovery.

The answer? Many of jobs won't be coming back, and that's painful news for all of us.

Job creation ebbed for years before the 2007-2008 recession and is likely to fall far short of what it was in previous decades.

Low consumer demand is one reason. Companies have no reason to hire if people aren't buying their products, and recession-wracked Europe, our biggest consumer, isn't consuming as much.

Yet there's another reason for weak job creation that isn't talked about as much. Automation, aided by new technologies, is increasingly replacing labor, changing workplaces and altering the economy in fundamental ways.

For evidence of this trend, just look around your house, your office (if you're fortunate enough to have one) and the nearest shopping center.



o IPhones, iPads, and other devices are changing the way we shop, communicate and get news and information, disrupting old labor-intensive industries, such as newspapers and the U.S. Postal Service, while creating new ones that generally employ far fewer people.

o Online banking, brokerage and mortgages are increasingly making it easier for consumers to never set foot in a brick-and-mortar bank.

o Movie-downloading services such as Netflix and Redbox have hastened the demise of video stores.

o Self-checkout aisles at stores and gas stations have eliminated thousands of retail jobs.

Truck drivers' jobs might soon be on the line too. Experiments with computer-driven vehicles have had vastly improved results in the past several years. In 2005, computer-driven cars could go only a few miles. Recently, Google-operated cars went thousands of miles without a mishap, and California Gov. Jerry Brown just signed a bill to allow them on the state's highways.

As technology evolves at an ever-increasing rate, new jobs are created but not fast enough to replace the jobs that are disappearing. This is creating hardship for millions of Americans.

"At some point in the future -- it might be many years or decades from now -- machines will be able to do the jobs of a large percentage of the 'average' people in our population, and these people will not be able to find new jobs," writes Martin Ford in his eye-opening book Lights in the Tunnel, which can be downloaded for free. This book details the challenges that we face and offers some possible solutions, including shorter work weeks, job sharing, and eliminating payroll taxes so employers have less incentive to replace workers.

David Autor, an economist at MIT, points out that the job market has been "hollowed out," with the jobs in the middle -- clerks, administrative positions, factory workers -- disappearing. At the same time, high-wage jobs have been created in computer programming and biotech. Low-wage, automation-resistant jobs in such industries as food service and health care are doing just fine.

While government officials can and should worry about how to create more good-paying jobs, investors who have long suffered from a sideways stock market can profit by seeking out companies on the leading edge of the automation phenomenon.

Examples include Rockwell Automation, which makes industrial systems; Irobot, a maker of automated tools such as vacuum cleaners and floor washers; Aerovironoment, which manufactures unmanned aircraft and other vehicles, and NCR, a great example of an old-line firm that morphed from mechanical cash registers to ATMs and automated check-in systems.

Another approach to finding investment opportunities stemming from the automation trend is to look for stocks with high sales to employees. A recent survey by Bloomberg calls attention to some companies with high sales-to-employee ratios. Among them: Apple, eBay, Microsoft, Amgen and Google.

Every industrial revolution has been accompanied by new technology that underpins the innovations, and that is also fertile ground for investors seeking growth. Microchips, computer storage, optical drives, LCDs, fiber optics and nanotechnology are just a few of the innovations that are driving the new economy.

Green energy is another trend that's here to stay. The list of these companies is long but worth investigating for investing ideas.

The good news is that the United States has enormous capacity to supply needed goods and services (with less labor than ever before, which means higher productivity). Jobs are being replaced, to be sure. However, every scenario that Ford envisions won't necessarily come to pass. Innovators in the global and U.S. economies will doubtless find new ways to make money.

This could mean that today's manufacturing jobs will be increasingly supplanted by more service jobs. For example, all of the new automation equipment will need servicing. One thing that seers of the high-tech future typically fail to envision is technology needs a lot of work to keep it running.

Whatever the future holds along these lines, investing in old-line firms that are labor intensive seems to be an increasingly bad bet. Such companies tend to be mature, which typically means low-growth potential and low investment returns. By focusing on high-revenue companies that harness automation, however, you'll be looking to the future. And after all, investing is all about the future.

Yet it's important to keep in mind that the future never unfolds as neatly as even the best seers predict -- even when they're basically right. The key is to keep abreast of economic developments to see new niches of investing opportunity developing as a result of the automation trend.

On a brighter economic note, this investment will spur general economic growth that, for all we now know, could ultimately produce new jobs in areas that now we can't even conceive.

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This work is the opinion of the columnist and in no way reflects the opinion of ABC News.

Ted Schwartz, a certified financial planner, is president and chief investment officer of Capstone Investment Financial Group. He advises individual investors and endowments, and serves as the adviser to CIFG UMA accounts. Because Schwartz has a background in psychology and counseling, he brings insights into personal motivation when advising clients on how to achieve their wealth management goals. Schwartz holds a B.A. from Duke University and an M.A. from Oregon State University. He can be reached at [email protected]

Admin · 395 vistas · Escribir un comentario
18 Feb. 2017

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