Archive for April, 2011

6 Smart Tips To Get The Best Mortgage

Home mortgages can stick around for as long as 30 years. Don’t regret the mortgage you got yourself into because of lack of research. Here are six smart moves you can do before getting a mortgage. These steps just might save you thousands of dollars.

1. Scrutinize Your Credit Report

It’s common knowledge that a good credit score can lead to lower mortgage rates. So before applying for a loan, make sure your credit score is accurate. You can do this by scrutinizing credit reports from the three major credit-reporting bureaus and check the information that they have recorded. It is possible that some discrepancies could be present that can affect your credit score. Checking and verifying just might get you that lower rate.

2. Look for the best mortgage rate

Aside from getting your credit score ready, a big chunk of getting a good mortgage is from the rate that the lending institution can give. There are thousands of lenders and banks that can give you a loan, don’t be shy to look for the best rates. Start by checking online reports of the best mortgage rates available in your state.

3. Get Pre-approved

Getting yourself preapproved from your lending institution of choice can give you a clear idea of just how much you can borrow. The institution will evaluate your information and they will give you how much they can give you. Plus, getting preapproved can establish your credibility with sellers and real estate agents who will look at how you can get financing.

4. Find out how much you can afford

Most people can get drawn by beautiful houses they just cant afford. Be realistic when shopping for homes and be aware of external factors such as association fees and maintenance costs. This could greatly affect your monthly budget and there’s no way to cut down on these costs once you’ve got yourself into it.

5. Decide if buying down the interest rate is practical

One way to get the interest rate down is by paying discount points on the mortgage. What happens here is that you pay money up front in exchange for a lower interest rate for the rest of the loan term.

One point equals 1% of your loan. If you’re borrowing $200,000, then a point would cost you $2,000. Each point can take off one-eighth to one-quarter of a percentage point off your rate.

Buying down the rate is only useful if you plan to stay in that home for the long term. Also this is feasible if you do have the extra cash at hand.

6. Strike a deal with Sellers

Another way to bring down your interest rate is by negotiating with sellers to let them pay the points. Paying points can cost less for sellers than reducing the price of their home. This can be an effective way to solve negotiations on pricing. It’s both advantageous to the buyer and the seller as well.

Doing a little extra work can mean major savings. And for something as big as getting a home loan, taking that added measure should be well worth your time.

Top 3 Deadly Mistakes Retirees Make

It’s no surprise that most baby boomers are facing gloom in their retirement. With the way the economy is going and the slashes in healthcare benefits, there isn’t much to look forward to when it comes to retirement. Aside from the economic factors that just can’t be controlled, there are even three deadly mistakes that roughly half of American retirees are making. Find out what they are, and find out how you can avoid them:

1. Using Social Security Benefits Too Early

The longer you keep yourself from using your Social Security benefits, the higher the amount you can get. Unfortunately, according to Social Security’s Annual 2010 Statistical Supplement, 47 percent of Americans who retired in 2009 started using their Social Security benefits at the young age of 62. This is the youngest possible age for benefits to start, but it also gives the lowest possible benefit.

Having a Social Security income can matter a great deal. After all, you’re being paid a monthly benefit for the rest of your life, no matter how old you get or how bad the economy becomes. But the longer you wait to use the benefits, the higher the payments you can get. Just don’t delay using them after the age of 70 though, because the payouts plateau at this age. Again, delaying claiming the benefits can result to bigger payouts. If this can be done, then it’s better to actually discipline yourself.

2. Using Up Retirement Savings Too Quickly

The moment Americans retire, they start spending their retirement savings as if they’ve won the lottery. They tend to underestimate for how long the savings are supposed to last to meet their current and future needs. 36 percent of retirees have no set plan of how much to withdraw and when to withdraw the savings, leaving a much to fear when they have medical emergencies or if they live too long.

The best thing to do is plan just how much you’ll be needing, planning for at least 20 years or more. It can be scary to think about the consequences of outliving your retirement savings.

3. Not Having Enough

And finally, even before Americans retire, most of them don’t really know just how much they will need once they retire. According to the 2011 Retirement Confidence Survey made by the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) only 42 percent of Americans have calculated just how much they will need upon retirement. This could mean under saving for retirement, leading to a low retirement savings just when they need it most.

The best thing to do is calculate ahead how much you will need in the future, and don’t forget to include inflation.

Not caring about retirement can lead to some shocking consequences that can be difficult to remedy because of the lack of opportunities that are presented to one once he gets older. To offset the possible risks, the best thing to do is plan early, save early, and spend less.

Best Money Market Fund Rates in 2011

Money market funds are a type of mutual fund that is required by law to invest only in low risk securities. In a way, money market funds are similar to savings accounts but they are less liquid and with a higher interest rate.

Money market funds
usually invest in secure and low risk investments such as certificates of deposit, government bonds, commercial paper of companies, treasury bills, and other investments that are deemed to be relatively “safe”. MMF’s attempt to keep their net asset value per share (NAVPS) at a constant $1.00 per share and only the yield goes up or down.

Since money market funds generally give higher returns than savings accounts and are also deemed to be safe investments, many investors use MMF’s as a place to park their money between investments. Here are some of the best performing money market funds with the highest rates in 2011:

1. Tennessee Commerce Bank
Rate (APY): 1.50%
Minimum Deposit: $250

2. SmartyPig
Rate (APY): 1.35%
Minimum Deposit: $1

3. EBSB Direct
Rate (APY): 1.30%
Minimum Deposit: $5,000

4. Hudson City Bank
Rate (APY): 1.25%
Minimum Deposit: $2,500

5. DiscoverBank
Rate (APY): 1.15%
Minimum Deposit: $1

6. American Express
Rate (APY): 1.15%
Minimum Deposit: $1

7. EverBank
Rate (APY): 1.13%
Minimum Deposit: $1,500

8. Ally Bank
Rate (APY): 1.00%
Minimum Deposit: $1

For those looking for a safe buy higher yielding investment, Tennessee Commerce Bank gives the best deal at 1.50%. But if you have less than $250 to invest, SmartyPig also gives a good deal with only $1 as the minimum deposit.

Best Credit Cards 2011

Ever since the dawn of credit cards, making purchases with no need for cold cash has become so easy. The names VISA and MASTERCARD have replaced George Washington and Benjamin Franklin in our wallets simply because paying with credit is becoming more hassle free.

Aside from the convenience it brings, credit card companies are now packing their cards with discounts, freebies and rewards. Here are the top five credit card deals, taking into account low interest rates plus heaps of rewards:

1. Discover More Card – For this card you can get a cool introductory 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers for as long as 15 months. After the introductory period, standard rates of 11.99-20.99% will apply. Aside from the good rate, you get a 5% cash back bonus in practical purchases such as travel, gas, groceries, restaurants, home improvement sotres and loads more. Plus you get a 1% unlimited cash back bonus on all other purchases. And what’s more, there’s no annual fee.

2.Discover Student Open Road Card – Aside from having 0% introductory APR on purchases and balance transfers for 9months, you also get a double cash back bonus at any gas station and restaurant. You get up to 1% unlimited Cashback Bonus on everything else you buy, with $0 fraud liability. Again, there’s no annual fee for this card.

3.Discover More Card -$50 Cash back bonus – Do you think you can spend $250 on your credit card in the first three months? If the answer is yes, then the Discover More $50 Cash back bonus card is for you. This card will give you a bonus of $50 once you make a $250 purchase within the first three months. Introductory APR will be 0% for balance transfers for 12 months, and 0% on purchases for 6 months. After that, variable APR will be between 11.99% and 20.99%. Again there’s a 5% Cash back bonus in travel, gas, restaurants and home improvement stores.

4. Discover More Student Card – 0% introductory APR for purchases for the first 9 months. Get a 5% cash back bonus in categories like travel, gas, department stores, groceries and restaurants. 1% unlimited cash back bonus on all other purchases with no annual fee.

Best 1 month CD from Lone Star Bank

Looking for a place to store your money for the short term? Lone Star Bank in Texas is giving out a great deal on 1 month CD’s. With a rate of 0.65% APY, this 1 month CD beats even some provider’s 3 month CD rates.

Here’s what happens when you place your money in a certificate of deposit. Generally, you get to earn more with the higher interest rates, and with only a 1 month term, there’s no need to worry about having your money locked in when you need it the most. Plus, you can always opt to lengthen or continue the term if you don’t have any plans of using your money just yet.

Lone Star Bank gives the biggest return on a 1 month certificate of deposit, with other institutions giving only .15 to .30% interest. The minimum deposit for this CD is only $1,000 and with your money compounded daily, you get to earn more.

As the name suggests, Lone Star Bank is one that originates in Texas. Their claim is that they do banking in a personal, and Texan style way. Lone Star Bank originated in the 1920’s in Moulton, and has since gone strong. Branches can be found in Moulton, Shiner, Brazoria, Gonzales, Austin and North Austin. It’s FDIC insured and offers a wide range of banking services.

Top 10 Finance Quotes from Donald Trump

We all know Donald Trump. Aside from his striking hair, he’s only one of the most prominent business magnates in America. After getting himself in $900 million in personal debt, and in about $3.5 billion in business debt back in 1991, in about five years, Trump was able get himself out of debt and back to billions.

Right now, Donald Trump’s net worth is a serious $2.5 billion and is certainly growing every year. Here are Donald Trump’s top ten quotes on personal finance, giving us a little insight of what makes him succeed.

1. When I started out in business, I spent a great deal of time researching every detail that might be pertinent to the deal I was interested in making. I still do the same today. People often comment on how quickly I operate, but the reason I can move quickly is that I’ve done the background work first, which no one usually sees. I prepare myself thoroughly, and then when it is time to move ahead, I am ready to sprint.

2. If you really want to succeed, you’ll have to go for it every day like I do. The big time isn’t for slackers. Keep up your mental stamina and remain curious. I think that bored people are unintelligent people.

3. Experience taught me a few things. One is to listen to your gut, no matter how good something sounds on paper. The second is that you’re generally better off sticking with what you know. And the third is that sometimes your best investments are the ones you don’t make.

4. I like thinking big. If you’re going to be thinking anything, you might as well think big.

5. Every day, you’ll have opportunities to take chances and to work outside your safety net. Sure, it’s a lot easier to stay in your comfort zone.. in my case, business suits and real estate.. but sometimes you have to take risks. When the risks pay off, that’s when you reap the biggest rewards.

6. In business, I’ve discovered that my purpose is to do my best to my utmost ability every day. That’s my standard. I learned early in my life that I had high standards.

7. Take the pains required to become what you want to become, or you might end up becoming something you’d rather not be. That is also a daily discipline and worth considering.

8. Confidence can get you where you want to go, and getting there is a daily process. It’s so much easier when you feel good about yourself, your abilities and talents.

9. Be focused. Put everything you’ve got into what you do every day.

10. What matters is where you want to go. Focus in the right direction!

Whatever Trump is doing is getting him far, and based on what he’s saying, it takes a combination of discipline, focus, guts and intuition to get where you want to go.

Get A Free Flip Video Slide With Flushing Bank’s Checking Account

Don’t have a checking account yet? You’re just in time to open one! Get a checking account with Flushing Bank, and they’ll give you a free high definition flip and slide video camera from Cisco.

To avail of the video promotion, customers must open a BestRate Checking account with Flushing Bank. This checking account gives you a 1.30% APY for the first 90 days after account opening. After that, standard rates will apply.

Aside from acquiring a cool video camera, you will also be eligible for getting up to $100 from using your debit card, online bill pay, or direct deposit.

Now here’s the fine print. Only those who don’t already have a checking account with Flushing Bank are eligible for this promotion. Plus, the money you deposit in the checking account must be “new” money, or money that hasn’t been transferred from any other existing account in Flushing Bank.

Although the minimum deposit required to open a new checking account is only $100, the maintaining balance for the checking account should be at least $5,000 to avoid fees. And only those with an opening balance of $25,000 will receive a 16G Flip Video Slide HD at account opening. Aside from these requirements, the account must remain open and in good standing for six months.

Even with all the fine print, if you’ve got what it takes to open an account, the promotion remains good. After all, who wouldn’t want to have a free flip video slide camera? It’s handy, it’s cool, and with this deal, you can capture both a good interest rate, plus your most cherished memories.

Flushing Bank has several locations in New York.

Amerisave Gives 4.375% Mortgage Rate

Amerisave is one of the largest retail mortgage lenders in the country that seeks to give loan services with convenience. Right now Amerisave is giving low mortgage rates with a 4.375% mortgage rate on a 30 year mortgage. Other mortgage rates from Amerisave are:

• 15 year fixed – 3.375%, APR at 4.063%
• 30 year fixed – 4.375%, APR at 4.703%
• 7 year ARM – 2.875%, APR at 4.063%

FHA Rates
• 30 year fixed – 4.250%, APR at 4.915%
• 15 year fixed – 3.750%, APR at 4.086%

Amerisave also has a website where loan application is made easy. All you have to do is search, and follow the steps indicated in the online process. For home refinancing, first search your rate and determine the best loan for your needs. Download the loan documents, sign, and mail them back to Amerisave. Amerisave will then process and underwrite your loan. Closing your loan can be done at home, or at an attorney’s office.

Home purchase also involves searching for the best loan and applying. Amerisave will process and underwrite the loan, but the loan will be subject to final appraisal and title inspection. If you’ve already found a property, forward a copy of your purchase contract and lock in your interest rate on the product of your choice. Amerisave offers appraisal of your new property, and they will arrange for the closing of your loan.

Amerisave has received many consumer testimonials about effectiveness and employee support, with good communication being one of the highlights. Amerisave also offers services for education, insurance, and credit cards.

Thinking Like Da Vinci

Aside from saving and budgeting, managing your finances well also means investing it in the right place. It’s not easy to find the right investment vehicles and most of us are faced with uncertainty when it comes to investing money.

As we all know, Leonardo Da Vinci has been one of the most innovative minds since the beginning of time. And looking back at his life and principles, perhaps we could all learn a thing or two with investing and managing our money. Michael J. Gelb, author of the New York Times best seller How To Think Like Leonardo da Vinci: Seven Steps To Genius Every Day, he notes seven things that will have us thinking like Da Vinci.

1. Curiosita – The best investors are always on a quest for knowledge and improvement. This allows them to question every aspect of a business, company, or investment opportunity, allowing them to learn and spot flaws in the system.

2. Dimostrazione – Learning from experience or independent thinking gets investors to the next level. Most people tend to follow what others are doing, and what others are investing in. Following the herd means less for the taking, while being a pioneer almost always results to wealth.

3. Sensazione – Sharpening the senses and having an eye for detail allows investors to see what’s going on around them. Investors need to be updated on what’s happening in the environment to keep ahead of the game.

4. Sfumato – Change is the only constant thing in the world, and investors need to maintain composure in the face of uncertainty. It’s easy to be caught up in a certain system once it’s successful, but to be a competent investor, you must be aware of necessary changes that must be done.

5. Arte/Scienza – They say the left-brain is responsible for numbers, figures, charts and graphs while the right-brain is for feelings and creativity. Using both sides of the brain is key to harnessing balance in analyzing data and using intuition.

6. Corporalita –Body-mind fitness is essential to coping with the everyday stress associated with business. Learning to manage stress and keeping healthy is important to sustainability.

7. Connessione – Leonardo da Vinci always made connections that other people aren’t seeing. This type of thinking allows investors to use one resource and connect it with another to gain results.

Leonardo da Vinci was a genius in his age and to get an insight to his thinking allows us to imitate and embody the principles he lived by. Being a success that he was, we can use what he left us and mold it to accommodate the patterns of the modern world when it comes to managing finances, investing, and saving up for retirement.

Top 3 Places To Get A Student Loan

Just like borrowing for a home or car loan, one thing to look at is definitely the interest rate and what the lending institution can offer you. The best thing about student loans is that the government is very willing to help American citizens get a good education. One of the best places to get a student loan is definitely from the feds, among others.

The top three places to get a good student loans are:

1. Federal student loans – The good thing is, federal loans are going straight to the colleges, without having to go through the banks. Stafford federal loans dropped 4.5 percent last year, from 5.6 percent in 2009. Plus the government pays interest while you’re still in school, up to six months.

Qualifying for a government aid depends on income and assets as assessed by the FAFSA. Families earning an income of about $80,000 usually qualify for the loan.

2. State programs – State loans are granted to students who attend college there. Rates range from 6-8.19 percent and variable rates from 1.78 to 3 percent. Stafford loans are generally more advisable because of the fixed interest rates and the best repayment terms.

3. Plus Loans – PLUS loans allow parents to help the student with the loan. Fixed interest rate is at 7.9 percent, although some parents paid 8.5 percent last 2010. An extra 4 percent fee will be added to the loan.

These three loan options give the best choices for those seeking to have a student loan at the best terms. These certainly beats the bank in terms of interest rates and monetary leeway.

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