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6 Ways to Make Sure You Get the Loan You Need

6 Ways to Make Sure You Get the Loan You Need

Remember in grade school when your teachers would warn you about your “permanent record?” At some point, you most likely figured out that was just a scare tactic to keep you in line until you graduated high school.

Once you entered the “real world,” you were soon introduced to another permanent record of sorts: your credit score. However, unlike the enigmatic permanent record of your schoolyard days, your credit score does, in fact, exist, and absolutely will affect the rest of your life in one way or another.

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So how do you keep it in good standing and ensure that you’re never denied from taking out a car or home equity loan?

Check your credit score often

If you’re gearing up for a large purchase that will depend on your ability to receive a loan, you should keep up-to-date with your credit score on a monthly basis. There are many ways to check your credit or CIBIL score for free, or you might opt for a more in-depth report that will usually come with a fee. While it’s a good idea to keep track of your credit score even if you’re not in the market for a new car or home, you shouldn’t obsess over it; it won’t change more than once a month. Focus less on your actual score, and more on improving it as best you can.

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Keep credit balances low

A lot of people fall into the trap of overspending using their credit cards simply because they can. This sort of irresponsible behavior can lead to missed payments, increased interest rates, and decreased credit scores. On the other hand, using your credit cards only for expenses that will immediately be paid off will show creditors that you are responsible with borrowed money, and they’ll be more likely to offer a loan in the exact amount you’ve asked for. A good rule of thumb is to keep your balances under 30% of your maximum; this shows lenders you have restraint, and will also give you some wiggle room if an emergency arises.

Pay your balances on time

While it’s pretty obvious that letting your bills go unpaid will result in a low credit score, it needs be said that late means late. It doesn’t matter if you’re a day late, or 29 days late: if you’re late with a payment, it’ll immediately be reflected on your credit score. Though it’s recommended that you pay much more than the monthly minimum, you should always pay at least that every single month. This goes back to the last point: if you’re unable to pay off your debt, you shouldn’t have made the purchase in the first place.

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Take care of small debts

As should be clear by now, credits and loans should only be used to make purchases that you’ll be able to pay off in the near future. You should never use a credit card simply because you don’t feel like “actually” paying money out of your pocket at that very moment. If you run into a jam and absolutely must use a credit card for a purchase while you’re out, make it a point to transfer money over to pay off your debt the first chance you get. You don’t want to be late on a small $30 payment because you forgot about it later in the month.

Similarly, don’t spread out these small debts over multiple credit cards. Keep your debts focused into one or two accounts, and close out the rest. There’s no need to tempt yourself with five different credit cards with no balance. Remember: the limit on your card does not represent money you actually own, but it could represent money you owe.

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Flaunt your good standing

It’s possible to request that certain loans be removed from your credit history once they are paid off. However, doing so will usually end up doing more harm than good to your ability to receive a loan. Say you’ve paid off a car loan in full at some point in the past. You made the monthly payments on time, and even paid it off quicker than you had planned. Why would you want to hide this? You want potential lenders to see that you can take out a loan and repay it responsibly. The only time you’d want to hide an account is if it’s in bad standing; of course, getting this history off your report won’t be nearly as easy.

Don’t give out more information than is reported

Credit scores exist for a reason: they give lenders a ballpark idea of how trustworthy you’ll be with their money. If lenders operated on the information given to them by potential borrowers…well, I’m sure you know what would happen. If your credit score comes back lower than expected, don’t make excuses. Everyone has a sob story to tell, so it won’t help your cause explaining that you broke your leg last year and couldn’t work, or you lost everything in a flood and needed to max out your credit cards. Your lender might feel for you on a personal level, but when it comes to business they’ll have to deny you the loan based solely on your low score.

On the other hand, if your score comes back better than expected, keep your mouth shut! You’re right where you want to be, but anything you say has the potential to be misconstrued. Save the happy dance for your living room after you’ve signed the loan papers.

Featured photo credit: JJ / Piggy bank full of dirty coins / Flickr via farm4.staticflickr.com

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Last Updated on January 2, 2019

How Personal Finance Software Helps You Get More Out of Your Money

How Personal Finance Software Helps You Get More Out of Your Money

Do you know what mental health experts point to as the biggest cause of stress in the United States today? If you said “money,” then ding, ding, we have a winner!

Three out of four adults today report feeling stressed out about money at least part of the time. People are either worried about not having enough money or whether they’re putting the money they do have to use in the best possible way.

Your money is either in charge of you or you’re in charge of it, there’s no middle ground. Using some type of personal finance software can help alleviate some of that money stress and better allow you to manage your money effectively. Without it, you may just be setting yourself up for constant financial worry. Life is already tough enough and there’s no need to make it more difficult by simply hoping your money issues will all work out in your favor. Hint: they won’t.

This guide will help you to understand how personal finance software can better assist with both accomplishing long term financial goals and managing day-to-day aspects of life.

Whether it’s tracking the savings plan for your child’s college fund or making sure you won’t be in the red with the month’s grocery budget, personal finance software keeps all this information in one convenient place.

What Exactly is Personal Finance Software?

Think of it like the dashboard in your car. You have a speedometer to tell you how fast you’re going, an odometer to tell you how far you’ve traveled, and then other gauges to tell you things like how much gas is in the tank and your engine temperature. Personal finance software is essentially the same thing for your money.

When you install this software on your computer, tablet, or smartphone, it helps to track your money — how much is going in, how much is going out, and its growth. Most personal finance software programs will display your budget, spending, investments, bills, savings accounts, and even retirement plans, levels of debt, and credit score.

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How It Leads to Financial Improvement

It shouldn’t come as a surprise, but people who regularly monitor their finances end up wealthier than those who don’t. When you were a kid, keeping track of all of your money in a porcelain piggy bank was pretty easy. As we get older, though, our money becomes spread out across things like car payments, mortgages, retirement funds, taxes, and other investments and debts. All of these things make keeping track of our money a lot more complicated.

Some types of personal finance software can help make things a little less complicated, setting you up to meet financial goals and taking away some of the stress associated with money.

Even if you already have a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) some type of personal finance software can be of great benefit. Whereas CFPs focus on the big picture of your money, they don’t handle the day-to-day aspects that determine your overall financial health.

It’s also not nearly as complicated as you might think and can take out a lot of the tedium that comes with doing everything on an Excel spreadsheet or with a pad and pencil.

Types of Personal Finance Software

When it comes to personal finance software, it generally fits into two categories: tax preparation and money management.

Tax preparation software such as Turbo Tax and H&R Block’s software can help with everything from filing income taxes to IRS rules and regulations and even estate plans. Plus, there’s the benefit of filing online and getting your refund check a lot faster than if you were to mail off your forms after waiting in line at the post office.

For the purpose of this article, however, will be focusing more on the personal finance software that aids with money management.

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Money management personal finance software will help you to see the health of your cash flow, pay down debt, forecast for expenses and savings, track investments, pay bills, and do a host of other things that 30 years ago would have practically required a team of accountants.

When to Use Personal Finance Software

So far we’ve gone over what exactly personal finance software is and how it can be a benefit to your money. The next logical step in this whole equation is determining when it should be used and how is the best way to go about getting started using it.

Below are four of the most common and practical ways to use personal finance software. If all or any of these apply to you and your money, then downloading some type of personal finance software is going to be a smart move.

1. You Have Multiple Accounts

There’s a good chance that when it comes to your money, it’s in more than one place. Sure, you probably have a checking account, but you may also have a savings account, money market account, and retirement accounts such as an IRA or 401k.

If you’re like the average American, you probably have two to three credit cards as well. Fifty percent of Americans also don’t have loyalty to just one bank and spread their money across multiple banks.

Rather than spending hours typing in every detail of every account you have into a spreadsheet, many programs allow you to easily import your account information. This will help to eliminate any mistakes and give you a bird’s eye view of everything at once.

2. You Want to Automate Some or All of Your Payments

Please don’t say that you’re still writing out paper checks and dropping each bill in the mailbox. While it’s noble that you’re doing your part to keep postal workers employed, we’re 18 years into the 21st century and you can literally pay every bill online now.

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There’s no need to log into every account you have and type in your routing number either.

With personal finance software you can schedule automatic payments and transfers between all of your imported accounts. Automatic transfers will help to make sure you have the necessary funds in the right account to ensure all bills are paid on the appropriate date. Late fees are annoying and do nothing but cost you money. It’s time that you said goodbye to them once and for all.

3. You Need to Streamline Your Budget

Perhaps the best feature of personal finance software is that it allows you track everything going in and out of your virtual wallet.

Nearly every brand of personal finance software out there has easy-to-read graphs and charts that allow you track every cent you spend or earn, should you choose. You might be pretty amazed when you see just how much you spent on eating out last month or if you splurged a little more than you should have on Christmas gifts last year.

Every successful business on the planet has a budget and using personal finance software can help you trim the fat on your spending in ways that affect your everyday life.

4. You Have Specific Goals to Meet

Maybe it’s paying off debt or saving for up something like a European vacation. Whatever your financial goal is, whether it’s long-term or short-term, personal finance software programs are one of the savviest ways to go about reaching those goals.

You can do everything from set spending alerts to notify you when you’re over budget to automating what percentage of your paycheck goes to things like retirement investments. The personal finance software that you choose should show you exactly how close you are to hitting those goals at any given time.

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How to Get Started

From AceMoney to Mint and Quicken, there ’s no shortage of personal finance software apps out there. Many of these programs are free to download and will allow you to pay bills, invest, monitor your net worth and credit profile, and even get a loan with the swipe of a finger.

Other programs may only offer you limited services and will require a one-time fee or subscription to unlock all that they offer. These fees can often vary from as little as two dollars to 50 bucks a month.

It’s best to start off with the free version and then gauge whether you’re able to accomplish everything you’d like or if it’s worth exploring one of the paid options. Often times the subscription programs come with assistance from financial planning and investment experts — so that can be a real benefit.

When deciding which personal finance software program to use, it’s also important to look at how many accounts you wish to monitor. Certain programs limit the number of accounts you can add. Be sure that if you have checking, credit card, and investment accounts to monitor, that you choose a service that can monitor them all.

Finally, when looking around for the right personal finance software that meets your needs, make sure that you’re comfortable with the program’s interface. It shouldn’t be expected that you recognize every single feature instantly, but if the features don’t seem readable and manageable to you, then you’re not as likely to use it and get the full benefits.

Final Thoughts

Personal finance software can go a long way in helping you to take control of your money and meeting your financial goals. It’s important to note, however, that some focus more on budgeting and expense tracking while others prioritize investing portfolios and income taxes. Explore several different programs and read reviews to find the one that’s right for you.

In this day and age, managing one’s personal finances in a secure manner that allows the user to have a real-time visual representation of their money is easier than ever before. With the numerous applications that are out there — both free and subscription-based — there’s no reason that every person can’t take control of their money and ensure they’re making smart money moves.

Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

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