3 Types of Debts You Should Focus on First

Types of Debts

You’re having a laugh with a friend when they mention that they’ve paid off their mortgage loans or that they’re finally done with college student debts. Your mood instantly turns dark as you realize your situation is the exact opposite. Knowing these types of debts can help you organize your plan how to pay them faster.

You go home, whip out your calculator, and there’s a dizzying list of numbers and figures and percentages and dollar signs. Your debts are crippling, and so are you. So how do you begin paying off these debts? Well, there are a couple of ways to arrange your debt payments in order and achieve your financial goals. Here you go:

1. Secured vs. Unsecured Debts

As you know, while signing a debt contract, there are two types of debts. The ones that have collateral against their monetary value, otherwise known as secured debts. The others are unsecured debts, against which there are no collaterals. The collateral maybe your car, your business, your stocks, or even your residential property.

So while arranging a debt repayment plan, you have to choose between secured and unsecured debts first. In secured debts, something precious to you is actually at stake. You might lose your possession if you do not pay the debt in time, so it makes sense to just clear the secured debts with whatever you can arrange. 

On the other hand, your unsecured debts can become pretty troublesome if you delay them for too long. The pressure will just mount higher, and late payment may also affect your credit score. 

Both are risky, and both are urgent. You just have to keep a balance between the two sets and figure out a repayment method with the least losses incurred.

2. Debts with the Highest Interest Rates

This category is also pretty crucial in figuring out which debts you have to pay back first. The debts with the highest interest rates, such as those on a credit card or a mortgage loan. Other debts, such as student loans or other personal loans, have lower interest rates, which do not accumulate as fast as the higher interest ones.

In this way, it’s usually beneficial to pay back loans in their elevating interest rate. The higher the rates, the sooner you should try to get rid of the debt. This way, you’ll be able to reduce the more significant debts quickly and will be able to focus better on the smaller ones.

3. Small Debts

Many people follow the total opposite of the highest interest rate. They use the debt snowball method by starting paying off their debts with the smallest ones right up to the largest one. This way, you can get rid of the number of debts on your credit sheet and focus much better on the larger ones. In this type of debt arrangement, you don’t have small debtors nagging you for repayments every single day, which is a great benefit in itself.

Conclusion

Debts are terrifying. They keep us up at night. However, paying debts back is not impossible. You just need the right strategy to arrange how you will pay back the different debts you have under your name. From debt, you may then start thinking about how to build your emergency fund.

5 Easy Steps to Build Your Emergency Fund

Emergency Fund

The unexpected can happen at any time, which could leave you without an income, a job, or at another type of disadvantage in life. When this happens, having access to some sort of emergency fund can be a significant advantage. An emergency fund gives you access to finances in dire times. In turn, you gain an opportunity to get back on track, while being sure that financials are covered by this fund.

Following a telephonic interview, one report shows that a mere 23% of adults in the US have an emergency fund. This means the remaining 77% are left at a disadvantage should they be struck by misfortune. If you are looking for some solid advice to get your own emergency fund going, then simply follow the five simple steps we share.

1. Understand Your Goals

One of the most important factors when it comes to saving plans and funds is to understand the financial goals you have. Before you build an emergency fund, set clear goals that are easy to follow – then break them down into smaller ones. Perhaps you want to aim for an emergency fund that can care for your entire family for a period of six months. Consider how much would be needed. You should also determine how long it will take you to achieve the goal.

2. Open the Right Account

The type of account you use for your emergency fund is important. Certain account types come with several fees that need to be paid on a monthly basis. This can reduce the amount of money you end up saving in the fund. Talk to your bank manager and make sure you use an account that is suitable for an emergency fund.

3. Create an Automated Deposit Plan

In an interview, 32% of people who are aged between 18 and 29 reported feeling more secure about their job security. Even though secure, unexpected events do happen. Once your account is up, be sure to configure an automated monthly deposit. This way, you’ll never forget to add more funds.

4. Cut Expenses or Increase Income

To build up your emergency fund faster, consider getting a side hustle that brings in some extra cash. Alternatively, see if there is any way to cut on some of the expenses you currently have.

5. Add Manual Payments

If you are able to create a second income or cut down on expenses, then you give yourself an opportunity to get to your goals faster. As you obtain extra income, be sure to make a few manual payments into the savings fund. This ensures you build-up toward the goal amount faster and that you will be sufficiently covered in those unexpected events.

Conclusion

When struck by a misfortunate event, such as a job loss, or a serious disease, having an emergency fund can save the day. Unfortunately, many Americans do not have any type of emergency fund at their disposal. To get started with yours, be sure to follow the five steps we shared in this post.

How to Choose Your Student Loan

Student Loan

Choosing the right student loan can seem like a daunting task. In order to get the right amount of money, and the best interest rates, you need to do a bit of shopping around instead of just choosing the first one you see. Student loans come in all shapes and sizes. Let’s take a look at some of the key things to consider when choosing student loans.

1. Interest rates

The first thing to note about interest rates on student loans is that they can either be fixed or variable. If they’re fixed, the interest rate won’t change over time. But if they’re variable, they can. This is important as you could end up paying different amounts of interest each year.

If you choose a subsidized federal student loan, with a fixed interest rate, the federal government pays the interest while you’re still in school. If it’s a Direct PLUS loan, you will pay interest while you’re in school. The rate is fixed until you pay it off too, between 2.95% and 9.15%. For private loans, variable interest rates can range from 1.02% to 12.37%.

2. Fees you might have to pay

Along with interest rates, there may be other fees associated with your chosen student loan. These are usually quoted as a percentage of the total loan amount. The fee usually comes off the amount of money you receive per payment, so you pay the fees automatically.

For federal loans, fees can range from 1.057% to 4.228%, depending on whether it’s subsidized or not. Loan arrangements may also have late payment fees to think about when it’s time to start paying it back. So, it’s vital that you always repay your student loans on time!

3. Maximum loan amount

The third thing to consider when choosing between student loans is the loan amount itself. The maximum amount of money you can borrow depends on a number of factors. These include your credit score, your degree type and which year of school you’re in.

With a federal loan, most undergraduates can borrow between $5,500 and $12,500 per year. Postgraduates are generally able to borrow up to $20,500 per year. Loan amounts for private options vary just as much. There are options for as little as $1,000 up to the full cost of your tuition, so they often offer more flexibility at the cost of higher interest rates.

4. Repaying your student loans

While the above factors will contribute to how you repay your student loan, it’s also important to consider the repayment terms. Most loans, both federal and private, will offer a 6-month grace period for undergraduate loans.

While private loans tend to be less flexible in terms of repayments, federal loans offer a bit more wiggle room for those facing financial hardship. If you’re in the world of teaching, military service or other public services, there may be debt forgiveness options available to you. So, it’s always worth checking if you’re eligible to have some of your student loan debt forgiven and make sure you clean up your credit report.

8 Affordable Ideas for Your Patio Makeover

Patio Makeover

With summer coming up, you might be looking forward to spending time outside with your friends and family. It’s always lovely to sit and enjoy the sun with your loved ones on your patio. Buying a home is an option, but patio makeover can be more sustainable.

If your patio is looking worn-out, here are eight affordable ways to give it a makeover just in time for summer.

1. Paint it

A coat of paint can make all the difference to the appearance of your patio. It‘s an affordable way to give your patio a makeover. You can paint over its existing colour or choose something different to give your garden a new lease of life.

2. Add Some Lighting

Lighting is a great way to give your patio a makeover. You can add small spotlight across the edges of the decking to illuminate your garden. This is particularly helpful if you want to host evening garden parties when the sun has set. You can also go for some hanging string lights to add a magical touch to your garden.

They add atmosphere and character to your patio, and there are several lighting options available, most of which are affordable and great quality.

3. Update Your Patio Furniture

Old furniture can leave your patio feeling outdated and drab. Replace your tables and chairs with brand-new ones to give your partial an immediate makeover. There are hundreds of variations available, ranging from small to large, and modern to contemporary. This is perfect for those summer BBQs you host with your friends and family round!

4. Add Some Greenery

Your garden is the perfect place to add in some colourful flowers and plants. You can opt for some hanging baskets around the fence above the patio, or place some filled plant pots around the edges.

5. Repair Any Damage

If your patio is worn or cracked, it can make your time out in the garden less enjoyable. Repairing any damage is a cost-effective way to get rid of any signs of wear and tear without having to replace the whole patio. Avoid wasting money on necessary purchases. You can buy weed killer to get rid of any unwanted growth too!

6. Get a Large Umbrella

For those hot summer days, an umbrella is a necessity to keep you cool in the shade. They also protect your skin from the sun’s harmful UV rays. Get yourself a bright umbrella to place above your table, ready to enjoy your time outside on the patio.

7. Lay Down a Rug

If you don’t want to repaint the patio or buy new furniture, consider laying down a rug. Whether you choose a bright, patterned rug, or a more neutral option, this is an easy and inexpensive idea to give your patio an immediate makeover.

8. Add Some Candles

Candles are amazing to add atmosphere to your patio area. They are super relaxing and provide a beautiful low light for the evening time. Plus, the scented candles smell great!

Is Now a Good Time to Buy a House?

a Good Time to Buy a House

The real estate market is a bit complicated given the current climate and if you’re not financially prepared for the process, it can be a hassle. Surprisingly, home sales are at their highest right now and have risen by 23% compared to last year.

However, prices are sky high and it’s safe to say that there are a lot of people ready to pay any offer laid on the table.  Even though prices are rising, it’s still important to consider all the factors before deciding that it’s a good time to buy the house.

The Good

Let’s first take a look at what advantages buyers can expect in the current real estate market.

Mortgage and Down Payment

Estimates by industry experts indicate that mortgage rates are likely going to remain low. However, the also claim that, even though the interest rate remains low, homeowners should not try to save on the down payment.

It can be very tempting to try and put down a minimal down payment while relying on the interest payments. However, by putting 10% down, paying the interest payments becomes a lot more manageable.

The Bad

Here are some of the challenges that buyers face under the current market conditions

Risk-Averse Banks

While the conditions may seem favorable for buying a house, banks are being extra cautious in this moment at time. Their cautious nature means that they’re becoming a lot more stringent with mortgage approvals.

It can be a tough time for people wanting to buy a house with smaller down payment as most buyers are coming in with ready cash. Banks will also tend to favor clients that are making a larger down payment as it’s a risk averse strategy.

High Competition and Prices

Not only are banks being stingier, the current market is one where the demand for homes remains high and the supply is low. That essentially means that the market currently favors seller.

The difference in demand and supply, also mean that the price of the homes goes up significantly. Not only are there very few houses on the market, the ones that are for sale will cost quite a significant sum!

What to Consider Before Buying a Home

It’s important to take into consideration your own financial situation before making the leap and buying a home. There are three key questions that every homeowner needs to ask themselves before investing in a house.

Are You Ready To Put Down Your Roots?

Buying a house essentially means that you’re going to settle down and live in the place for a live. Take into consideration your current lifestyle, relationships, and goals before moving into a new location. The ideal situation is you’ll live in a house long enough for the value to increase and offset the costs of buying and selling.

How’s Your Current Financial Situation?

Before making the major move, it’s essential that you asses your current financial situation. That means taking a look at your savings, credit score, and debt. Find ways to generate extra income. If they’re all in a healthy position, then you’re in the right position to buy a house.

Is Your Job Secure?

Lastly, once your mortgage application is approved there’s no going back. You’re going to need to make the monthly payments otherwise you’d default. That’s why it’s crucial to assess your job security before making any attempt at investing in a house. If you can see yourself working comfortable for the next couple of years, only then it’s a good idea to buy a house!

Summary

Buying a house during this time isn’t impossible or a big deal if you plan smartly and organize your finances in a proper way. You shouldn’t only look at the market but analyze your own financial situation objectively before trying to buy a home.

Related Reading: 5 Tips for Budgeting Together as a Couple

5 Tips for Budgeting Together as a Couple

Budgeting Together

Some folks seem to think that finances get more complicated when individuals become a couple. Well actually, that may not always be the case. In fact, it can actually be the other way around. Budgeting together may actually be easier and less cumbersome, especially if you follow these tips!

If you are in a relationship now and want to improve your financial literacy with your partner or are just preparing for when your dream gal or guy comes around, keep on reading to learn about 5 tips for budgeting together, as a couple.

1. Communication is Key

Communication is vital is practically every facet of a committed relationship. This much is also true when it comes to money and budgeting. Talk about things like:

  • Your salary
  • Debt
  • Assets
  • Saving goals

Talking about finances can be an awkwardly private thing. But it doesn’t have to be, especially with your partner. The open and honest you can be about money matters with your partner, the better.

2. Understand Your Individual Money Financial Style

Everyone is different when it comes to how they understand, spend, and save money. The decisions people make as adults regarding their money are largely affected by their upbringing. So, understanding the foundation of your partners financial upbringing is important (and interesting).

Maybe they were raised to be more frugal than you. Or perhaps more free spirited with their money. Whatever the case may be, knowing what their current money style is, and how it meshes with your own allows for more budgeting success as a couple.

3. Determine Your Needs as a Couple

We each have our list of individual necessities when it comes to life. It could be the type of food we like to eat, the activities we enjoy and the type of lifestyle we practice. In a couple, you have to begin to assess the shared needs as well, especially once you begin to live together. 

Considering items rent, utilities, transportation and debt can help to determine the size of budget you need to live the life you need as a couple.

4. Talk About Your Individual Wants

You may think you have a lot in common with your partner, but everyone wants different things. Despite being individual in nature, like gym memberships, hobbies, and home improvements, with a shared budget, individual desires become shared.

There needs to be give and take, or compromise, when it comes to what the individual wants and how it affects not only the shared budget, but also the other person in the relationship.

5. Outline Your Shared Financial Goals

The goals we have for our futures are directly connected to our finances. Talking about each other’s goals, as they relate to finances and life in general, will help you get a better idea for how to budget as a couple. You may check these money apps to achieve your financial goals.

Ask questions like:

  • What does retirement look like?
  • Are children part of your future?
  • What travel plans or dream vacations do you have?
  • Would you like to buy a house?

With answers to questions like these, and by taking a few other tips to heart, you will begin to flesh out differences and commonalities that can help prepare your budget together moving forward.

Related Reading: 8 Healthy Financial Habits You Should Start Today

4 Ways to Help You Boost Your Retirement Savings

Boost Your Retirement Savings

Planning for retirement is something that anyone can do. Whether you’re a fresh graduate who just landed their first job or a long-time worker nearing retirement, you should boost your retirement savings. If your company offers a 401k, you’ll have accumulated a decent chunk of change over your career that you can cash out upon retirement. However, if you want to maintain your current lifestyle after retirement, you’re going to have to do a bit of planning. and self-moderated retirement investment while you’re still of working age.

Here are 4 ways to help you boost your retirement savings so you can retire in comfort.

1. Set a final goal and milestones along the way

It doesn’t matter what you’re working toward, you’ll get the best results if you know exactly what your goal is. Just saying you want to boost your retirement savings isn’t enough.

First, come up with a number that you think will allow you to live in comfort after retirement. It’s alright to use your current cost-of-living as a yardstick. You just add or reduce as you think is necessary for the quality of living you’re aiming for post-retirement.

The next step is to calculate how much money you need to put aside each month to reach that goal by the time you retire. If you’re planning on retiring early, you’ll have to put a lot more money into your savings every month. Experiment with the calculations until you find an amount that you can afford to save every month that won’t drastically negatively impact your quality of life today.

2. Start saving as early as possible

Due to the way compound interest works, it’s best to start saving as soon as possible. For example, a 25-year-old who puts in $50 a month will have roughly as much money saved up by retirement age as a person who puts away $100 a month in savings but started at 35 years old.

If you’re already putting some money away every month in a retirement account, stick with it! Consistency over time is key to achieving your retirement goals and boosting savings. And if you haven’t started saving, do it now! Every day you put off not opening a savings account will increase the money you have to invest each period in order to reach your retirement savings goal.

3. Save your extra funds

In life, there will be times when you’ll find yourself with some extra money. Whether you’ve received an inheritance or just got a raise, don’t forget to stash extra funds into your savings. It can be tempting to splurge that extra money on something fun and fancy. Try to put at least half of it away in your retirement savings. Treat yourself with something small and affordable. If you just got a raise, then go ahead and spend some of that extra money on something nice. Just remember to always work toward your retirement goal.

4. Delay your Social Security payment as long as possible

In America, you’re qualified to start receiving your Social Security retirement benefits from the age of 62. However, the longer you delay pulling from your Social Security savings, the more money you stand to earn.

For each year until the age of 70, your monthly benefit from Social Security will increase. If you’re able and willing to continue working past 62, every year you delay retirement will significantly affect your total benefits from Social Security. This also means greater survivor benefits for your spouse, which is another key factor to keep in mind when considering retirement.

Related Reading: How to deal with debt in retirement