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October 2, 2018

DIY Investing with Peer to Peer Loans

another loan optionAre you a hands-on investor who enjoys evaluating investment opportunities and finding a diamond in the rough? If so you may want to consider investing in peer to peer lending. As a peer to peer lender you have the opportunity to review individual borrower applications and select the ones that you think are going to repay their loans.

What is Peer to Peer Lending?

For those of you not familiar with peer to peer lending (also know as P2P lending), let’s take a moment for a quick introduction. In the past ten years several websites (known as platforms) like LendingClub and Prosper have sprung up offering personal loans to individuals. This is certainly not unique but what makes them different is that they are not banks or financial institutions in the traditional sense. These websites get funding for the loans they provide from individual investors in amounts as small as $2,500. In a sense, anyone can be a banker with just a small amount of money. The signup process is quick and easy, and as soon as you transfer the funds you can start investing.

How Do You Invest in Peer to Peer Loans?

The process for P2P lending investing is pretty simple. Once you have opened and funded your account you will be able to see all of the loan applications that the platform has approved. These loan applications have been evaluated based on industry standard underwriting techniques and many are rejected. The ones that are approved are rated and the highest rated borrowers get the lowest interest rates.

Lenders review the approved loan applications and decide which loans they would like to invest in based on their comfort level with risk and their desired return. Investment in a loan can be as little as $25 and most experts recommend investing the minimum amount and spreading your portfolio over as many loans as possible in order to minimize risk through diversification. This is where you get to Do-It-Yourself. The platform provides dozens of pieces of information from the loan application and the borrower’s credit history. You get to determine which factors matter, how much to weigh them and what a good borrower profile looks like. To some people this may sound boring and tedious but for many investing junkies this is the fun part. You can look at data like length of employment, debt-to-income ratio, home ownership vs. renting, late payments, outstanding debt, bankruptcies and so much more.

There are a limited number of filters available on the platforms that allow you to quickly find loans that meet certain criteria, then you can review them in the more detail individually. Or, for the really hardcore investment analysis junkies, the information for all available loans can be downloaded to a spreadsheet for study and review. There are approximately 50 to 250 loans available at any given time and there are approximately 80 pieces of information available so, as you can imagine, this can be an enormous amount of data to review. However, with some simple sorting and filtering in your spreadsheet you can pretty easily identify the loans that meet your criteria.

There is also room for intuition and past experience in the analysis process. There may be more loans that meet your criteria than you have funds to invest. Ultimately, you may have to ‘go with your gut’ in order to select the loan or loans that you think are most likely to be paid back.

For those who want passive income or do not feel they are savvy enough to select quality loans there is also an auto invest feature that will choose the loans for you based on your desired risk/return level. But for the investment analysis enthusiast the DIY approach is the way to do. All in all, this can be a fun way to achieve a great return on your investment.

Cody Smith is the founder of PeerLoanAdvisor.com which provides information and advice to peer to peer lending investors.

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September 12, 2018

Tips on Using Credit Cards Responsibly

using money cardsThese days, credit cards are driving the consumer market all around the globe. This is a mode of payment that yields benefits like car rental coverage, cash-back points, and automated payments just to simplify our lives.

However, a user needs to be aware of the ways in which a con artist can misuse these credit cards. It’s truly essential as these cards can yield disastrous outcomes when misused. With cards depicting high APR, you may find it tough to pull out of your debt burden. Avoiding debt is your only way out this problem.

You may do your research on using credit cards if you really wish to handle them responsibly. You may come across several online resources illustrating the use of credit cards regardless of whether you’re applying for your first card or is paying off dues to improve your credit rating. While repaying your credit card debt, you must arrive at an affordable minimum payment like when you calculated your personal loan EMI.

Know how to use your credit cards from now on:

1. Repay Your Credit Card Balance Each Month

You must stay focused on repaying your credit card dues every month. You shouldn’t find an excuse since it charges more out of your bank account once you fail to live up to these payments.

You’ll need to bear an interest worth up to 25% based on the outstanding credit balance if you fail to make a payment or opt for making a minimum payment.

You can only keep high rates of interest from piling up if you pay off your dues each month. You must also refrain from skipping a payment. You might have to pay a penalty interest (up to an APR worth 30%) in case you miss out on a due date. Your credit score takes a hit when you actually need to pay a penalty.

2. Restrict Credit Utilization to a bare minimum

Apart from improving your credit score, it will even help in restricting your debt. Credit utilization is the metric that constitutes a large portion of your credit score. Your FICO score tends to rise when your credit utilization falls.

For instance, your credit utilization looks great when it’s valued at 16% after you’ve used 2 credit cards with a balance worth $600 and a combined limit of $3,100. In order to fetch the maximum benefits, you may choose to restrict it below 30%. While avoiding the risk of acquiring debt, you’ll even enjoy an improved credit score.

3. Avoid Using Multiple Credit Cards Simultaneously

You may be lured by the benefits of opening several credit cards especially when you’re seeking the advantage of being a new cardholder or attempting to redeem reward points. You may be thrilled to make the most of cash-back or 0% APR offers. However, you must refrain from opening multiple accounts till you’ve learned to use a single card responsibly.

Chances of overspending get increased when you have several cards in your arsenal. You may even miss out on a due date. You must restrict the number of cards in your wallet as you won’t like to fall prey to any of these incidents.
Credit cards are indeed a very useful tool when you know how to use them properly. By considering the tips mentioned above, you may certainly walk a step forward and repair your credit rating. It will help in securing the financial future of your loved ones.

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June 26, 2018

Reasons behind choosing FDs over other traditional forms of investments

bank investmentsIt’s not advisable that you keep your surplus funds in a regular savings account for long. In that case, you can’t just expect a high ROI against this fund. You may choose to go with multiple options like mutual funds and shares, but they have an element of risk. The risks are much lower with FD investments as they’re regulated.

What’s so special about Fixed Deposits?

You may open FD account while you’re looking for some safe and sound investment option. Besides being safe, FDs yield a lucrative rate of interest for the investors. You may earn quality interests on the amount that goes out in your FD account for a certain period.

1. Fixed Deposits create earning opportunities by compounding interests

FDs yield interest for over a uniform period when issued by banks. If you don’t need the amount of interest to come as regular quarterly or monthly income, you may consider reinvesting in your FD account. You’re likely to witness a growth of the principal amount and the interest of the upcoming period will be ascertained on the new value. In this way, you’ll end up earning more on the invested amount. All you need to do is to pick your payment option besides opting for the compounded FD option. You may use any FD calculator online to check the returns.

2. Sound investment option for senior citizens

You may consider an FD among the most lucrative investment options when you don’t have a source of steady income, especially when you’re old and retired. Many of the Indian banks provide you with an FD account and abide by the safety norms laid out for protecting your invested principal. The rates of interest might not be very high, but you may still gain something on these deposits. Under circumstances when you’re heading towards a financial crisis, you may close all FDs even if they haven’t matured.

3. Fixed Deposits yield tax-saving opportunities

FDs come with great tax saving options when you’re specifically interested in investing a portion of your funds for a long term. You may avail them in the form of a 5-year term deposit and set your money to be locked in for those 5 years. Until the maturity of your FD, you won’t be able to achieve credits or loans on your fixed deposits and can’t break them. With tax saver FDs, you may enjoy tax exemption on the principal amount invested by you. Depending on the tax slab, taxes are levied on the interest.

4. Fixed Deposits are much safer

The RBI governs all FD schemes that are issued by the NBFC and Indian banks. Issuers of these schemes are required to follow certain stringent regulations and rules from time to time. In India, the banking industry is safer for the investors as most saving schemes yield adequate protection towards the principal.

If you’re not among those who looks for a high ROI then you may be in need of a more secure investment. FDs are certainly one of those safer schemes that you’ve been looking for. All of your capital is in safe hands as the FDs are regulated by stringent norms laid down by the government authorities. That is also the reason why FDs are considered so safe for the members of low-income groups that don’t possess any alternative source of income.

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June 19, 2018

5 Things to note before taking your first personal loan

obtain personal loansIf you’re taking out your first online personal loan, it probably means you don’t have a credit history or a credit score. This doesn’t however hold true if you’ve had or currently have a credit card (if you’ve had a credit card in the past, you’ll have a credit score). Lenders use your credit score obtained from your credit report to understand how good you’ve been at managing credit in the past. Personal loans are unsecured loans that don’t involve collateral, and usually come with a higher interest rate in comparison to secured loans. This is precisely the reason why having a good credit score is important for your application to get approved.

Let’s forget the credit score part for now. If you’re a first timer, here are some things you should note before taking your first unsecured personal loan:

Know the various charges involved

Personal loans come with a list of charges that include late payment charges, EMI bounce charges, processing charges, pre-closure charges, and part-payment charges. When you’re taking out your personal loan for the first time, make sure you are aware of the various charges. It is of course, always good to be aware about how much lenders are charging you.

Choose a short repayment period

Choosing a short repayment period helps reduce the interest payment over the course of your loan tenure. Longer tenures attract higher interest payments, but lower monthly repayment amounts. As your first loan, you wouldn’t want to pay too much interest, do you? However, if lower monthly repayments suit you, you should go ahead and choose a longer tenure, for you can always pre-close your loan after a certain period. Note that most lenders require you to complete a minimum of 6 months or 12 months of your tenure before you can pre-close.

Don’t borrow more than you need

Your approved amount might be higher than what you asked for – lenders use this tactic to make you borrow more. Don’t fall for it thought. Borrow only how much you need. Borrowing more than you need is just setting the platform for unnecessary debt accumulation.

Negotiate the interest rate

Negotiating the rate with the bank will help you get a lower interest rate on your loan. Moreover, if you don’t have a credit history, there’d be multiple lenders in the market willing to offer you a loan. Going by this logic, it is advised that you negotiate the interest rate on your loan to get a reduced rate.

Don’t apply with multiple lenders

Applying with multiple lenders negatively affects your credit score. Too many credit inquiries reflect credit-hungry behavior, and lenders can reject you on the basis of this – rejections bring down your credit score as well. So for starters, make sure you apply with only one lender.

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April 13, 2018

Important Tips While Budgeting For a New Home

new home budgetingYou dream of owning a great home to suit your taste and needs. However, this may have to cost you quite a lot of money. It therefore means that there will be alterations in your current spending or savings. Well, the way you will budget for a new home is dependent on several factors. It will depend on whether you are planning to own the first home, meaning you want to move from a rented house to your own home, or if you want to move from a first house to a dream home.

Whichever level you are at, there are several factors that will determine how much you budget for a new home. These factors include;

• Your earning– It could be your personal earning, or yours and that of your spouse if you plan to jointly buy a home.

• The Location of your home – Where exactly do you want to live? Some estates are more expensive than others.

• The size of your dream home- This may also include the size of the house as well as the land on which the house will sit on.

• How long you want to pay for it – If you want credit for a shorter time, then you may have to choose a cheaper home and vice versa.

After considering these factors, then it is time to come up with a real budget for your home. Remember that it is your own home, a treasure for yourself to take pride and find comfort in. Therefore, take time to budget for the best. Below are basic steps towards getting a perfect budget for your home:

1. Get informed

Be sure to visit a real estate and property development company, to get the available options in terms of different properties available in the market and their value as they have a better understanding.

2. Timing

Decide the exact day that you want to move to your new home. Do not wish for a particular time span when you want to move to the new home, say like in the next three months, but rather set a specified target date.

3. Calculate how much you can afford

Use a mortgage calculator to determine exactly how much you can afford to pay monthly.

If you are cost sharing a mortgage;

• Open a money market account or an alternative of a high-interest savings account. Ensure the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation guarantees your money.

• For every month, deposit the total money (two halves if you are two) to the savings account monthly. Deposit the money until the date for moving in is due. Spend the money to pay for your new home.

4. Reduce your spending

In order to do this, you need to be realistic by spending less than you earn. Make a plan and stick to it. For example, you may realize that you don’t need to live in that two bedroom apartment especially if you don’t have kids. Therefore moving to a one bedroom apartment may save up to around 30% of your expenses which you could channel towards home ownership.

5. Increase your earnings

While most people believe in spending less to save, I think working that extra job is a sure way of increasing your savings. Take up any money making opportunity that comes your way. You could also opt to get a second job as a side hustle to top up your main source of income.

Conclusion

To succeed in owning a new home, you may have to forego some expenses, however small they may seem. These may include your daily cup of coffee which may cost $5 but accumulates to $150 in a month.

As much as you are looking towards owning the best home, be careful so that you do not strain so much that you will have to compromise on basic needs such as food.

While owning a home may seem a hard process that requires a lot of sacrifices, at the end of the day, it is worth it, so go for it!

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