How Interest Rate Hikes Affect Personal Loan Investors – SmartAsset

How Interest Rate Hikes Affect Personal Loan Investors – SmartAsset

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In December 2015, the Federal Reserve raised the federal funds rate by a quarter of a percentage point. That was the first time the Fed had raised rates in nearly a decade. While federal funds rate changes don’t directly impact peer-to-peer (P2P) loan interest rates, lending platforms may begin increasing their rates. If you’re investing in peer-to-peer loans, it’s important to understand how that may impact your portfolio.

Rising Rates May Mean Better Returns

Personal loan investors make money by claiming a share of the interest that’s paid on the loans, in proportion to the amount that’s invested. If the platform you’re using raises rates for their borrowers, that means you’ll likely see higher returns.

That’s especially true if you’re open to funding high-risk loans. Peer-to-peer platforms assign each of their borrowers a credit risk rating, based on their credit scores and credit history. The loans that get the lowest ratings are assigned the highest rates. For example, Lending Club’s “G” grade loans (the loans that go to the riskiest borrowers) have interest rates of 25.72%.

Assuming borrowers don’t default on their payments, these investments can be more lucrative than lower-risk loans. Using Lending Club as an example again, F and G grade loans historically have had annual returns of 9.05%, which is nearly double the 5.22% return that investors earn from low-risk “A” grade loans.

The Downsides of a Rate Increase

While rising interest rates may put more money in investors’ pockets, there are some drawbacks to keep in mind. For one thing, it’s possible that as rates rise, borrowers could decide to explore other lending options. If that happens, there would be a smaller pool of loans for investors to choose from.

To compensate, peer-to-peer lenders may resort to issuing lower-quality loans as rates rise, but that could be problematic for investors who prefer to steer away from riskier borrowers. If the platform you use no longer offers the kinds of loan products you want to invest in, you’ll have to reallocate those assets elsewhere to keep your portfolio from becoming unbalanced.

Finally, rising interest rates could result in a higher default rate. Increased rates mean that borrowers have to pay a lot of money for taking out personal loans. If the personal loan payments become unmanageable, a borrower may end up defaulting on their loan altogether. Some platforms refund the fees that investors have paid, but they usually don’t refund their initial investments after borrowers default.

What Investors Ought to Consider

If you’re an active P2P investor or you’re thinking of adding P2P loans to your portfolio, you can’t afford to overlook the risk that’s involved. Financing the riskiest loans is a gamble, so it’s important to consider the consequences of putting money into those kinds of investments.

A good way to hedge your bets is to spread out your investments over a variety of loan grades. That way, if a high-risk borrower defaults you still have other loans to fall back on.

If you want more help with this decision and others relating to your financial health, you might want to consider hiring a financial advisor. Finding the right financial advisor that fits your needs doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with top financial advisors in your area in 5 minutes. If you’re ready to be matched with local advisors that will help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.

Photo credit: ©iStock.com/Ondine32, ©iStock.com/Tomwang112, ©iStock.com/xijian

Rebecca Lake Rebecca Lake is a retirement, investing and estate planning expert who has been writing about personal finance for a decade. Her expertise in the finance niche also extends to home buying, credit cards, banking and small business. She’s worked directly with several major financial and insurance brands, including Citibank, Discover and AIG and her writing has appeared online at U.S. News and World Report, CreditCards.com and Investopedia. Rebecca is a graduate of the University of South Carolina and she also attended Charleston Southern University as a graduate student. Originally from central Virginia, she now lives on the North Carolina coast along with her two children.
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Source: smartasset.com

5 Things to Consider Before Getting a Personal Loan

Consider This Before Getting a Personal Loan – SmartAsset

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It’s a new year and if one of your resolutions is to get out of debt, you might be thinking about consolidating your bills into a personal loan. With this kind of loan, you can streamline your payments and potentially get rid of your debt more quickly. If you plan on getting a personal loan in 2016, here are some key things to keep in mind before you start searching for a lender.

Check out our personal loan calculator.

1. Interest Rates Are Going Up

At the end of 2015, the Federal Reserve initiated a much anticipated hike in the federal funds rate. What this means for borrowers is that taking on debt is going to be more expensive going forward. That means that the personal loan rates you’re seeing now could be a lot higher six or nine months from now. If you’re planning on borrowing, it might be a good idea to scope out loan offers sooner rather than later.

2. Online Lenders Likely Have the Best Deals

The online lending marketplace has exploded in recent years. With an online lender, there are fewer overhead costs involved, which translates to fewer fees and lower rates for borrowers.

With a lower interest rate, more money will stay in your pocket in the long run. Lending Club, for example, claims that their customers have interest rates that are 33% lower, on average, after consolidating their debt or paying off credit cards using a personal loan.

Related Article: How to Get a Personal Loan

3. Your Credit Matters

Regardless of whether you go through a brick-and-mortar bank or an online lender, you  likely won’t have access to the best rates if you don’t have a great credit score. In the worst case scenario, you could be denied a personal loan altogether.

You can check your credit score for free. And each year, you have a chance to get a free credit report from Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. If you haven’t pulled yours in a while, now might be a good time to take a look.

As you review your report, it’s important to make sure that all of your account information is being reported properly. If you see a paid account that’s still showing a balance, for example, or a collection account you don’t recognize, you’ll need to dispute those items with the credit bureau that’s reporting the information.

4. Personal Loan Scams Are Common

As more and more lenders enter the personal loan arena, the opportunity for scammers to cash in on unsuspecting victims also increases. If you’re applying for a loan online, it’s best to be careful about who you give your personal information to.

Some of the signs that may indicate that a personal loan agreement is actually a scam include lenders who use overly pushy sales tactics to get you to commit or ask you to put up a deposit as a guarantee against the loan. If you come across a lender who doesn’t seem concerned about checking your credit or tells you they can give you a loan without doing any paperwork, those are big red flags that the lender may not be legit.

Related Article: How to Avoid Personal Loan Scams

5. Not Reading the Fine Print Could Cost You

Before you sign off on a personal loan, it’s best to take time to read over the details of the loan agreement. Something as simple as paying one date late could trigger a fee or cause a higher penalty rate to kick in, which would make the loan more expensive in the long run.

Photo credit: ©iStock.com/DragonImages, ©iStock.com/Vikram Raghuvanshi, ©iStock.com/MachineHeadz

Rebecca Lake Rebecca Lake is a retirement, investing and estate planning expert who has been writing about personal finance for a decade. Her expertise in the finance niche also extends to home buying, credit cards, banking and small business. She’s worked directly with several major financial and insurance brands, including Citibank, Discover and AIG and her writing has appeared online at U.S. News and World Report, CreditCards.com and Investopedia. Rebecca is a graduate of the University of South Carolina and she also attended Charleston Southern University as a graduate student. Originally from central Virginia, she now lives on the North Carolina coast along with her two children.
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Source: smartasset.com

8 Easy Ways to Make a Great Impression in Seconds

A businesswoman working at her desk
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The poet Maya Angelou once said, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

You want people — employers, new acquaintances, possible mates — to like you. And experts say this can be done in as little as 90 seconds by employing several simple tactics. So, let’s begin to make you amiable, quickly.

1. Eyebrow flash

Portrait of a woman against black background
Lozovii Andryi / Shutterstock.com

We all know the importance of first impressions, and body language leads the way. Some experts believe the first impression people get of whether someone is a friend or foe is made by something called the eyebrow flash.

Jack Schafer, a professor at Western Illinois University and former behavioral analyst for the FBI, writes in Psychology Today:

“The eyebrow flash is a quick up and down movement of the eyebrows. As people approach one another they eyebrow flash each other to send the message that they do not pose a threat. Since eyebrow flashes can be seen at a distance, people typically eyebrow flash as they approach others.”

2. Head tilt

Young African American man with head tilted, smiling.
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Another subtle gesture that makes you more approachable is the head tilt, according to Schafer. The motion is another signal that you don’t pose a threat, and don’t perceive the other person as a threat, possibly because it exposes the carotid artery in the neck. He writes:

“The carotid artery is the primary source for blood to reach the brain and if disrupted, causes severe brain damage or death within minutes.”

3. Smile

Older woman smiling, brick wall in background.
The Art of Pics / Shutterstock.com

It may be obvious that it’s important to smile. But hold back for a second and look someone you are meeting straight in the eye first. After an initial acknowledgment, then you can smile.

This shows that you are not walking around with a constant silly grin but are actually smiling at the person you are meeting, communication expert and author Leil Lowndes tells Business Insider. It makes your smile seem more personal and sincere.

4. Eye contact

Woman looking through a frame created by her hands.
elementals / Shutterstock.com

Money Talks News founder Stacy Johnson has learned the importance of eye contact. “Keep your eyes glued to the person who’s talking to you,” he says. “It shows them they’re important.”

Conversely, a lack of eye contact can indicate you’re untrustworthy or uninterested in the conversation — something you obviously want to avoid.

If you feel slightly uncomfortable — or even creepy — doing this, career expert Kara Ronin has a tip for making eye contact that doesn’t feel forced:

“Draw an imaginary inverted triangle on the other person’s face around their eyes and mouth. During the conversation, change your gaze every five to 10 seconds from one point on the triangle to another. This will make you look interested and engrossed in the conversation.”

5. Posture

Woman sitting at desk
Alissa Kumarova / Shutterstock.com

Your mom’s advice holds true when you are meeting a person for the first time: Slouching does not project well.

Ronin writes at The Muse:

“[A]s you’re walking into an event, hold your head high, push your shoulders back and keep your rib cage up. This posture makes you look fearless — and taller, which helps you project a sense of authority.”

6. Don’t fidget

Mans hands twiddling thumbs.
igorstevanovic / Shutterstock.com

Another thing you probably learned from Mom: Don’t fidget.

Mentalizer Education, the website of mentalist and author Ehud Segev, notes that fidgeting is interpreted as nervousness or anxiety. The site advises:

“When engaged with a conversation, regardless if it is with one person or a group of people, refrain from making any unnecessary movements.”

Experts also say fidgeting can indicate you are lying or bored — which probably is not what you want to convey to a prospective employer.

7. Listen

Young man concentrating on conversation.
GaudiLab / Shutterstock.com

There are several other ways to raise a new acquaintance’s comfort level. One is to listen.

There is a difference between listening and pretending you are listening — and most people can tell. The key to showing you are really listening is to not interrupt the speaker, according to Forbes. Wait for a pause to say what you have to say.

Forbes also suggests you give the speaker regular feedback and occasionally paraphrase what they are saying. Both these techniques are signs that you are truly listening, not faking it.

Flattery is OK, but don’t overdo it. Otherwise, it becomes obvious that you are trying to be a lapdog.

8. Respect all around

Two people shaking hands.
allstars / Shutterstock.com

When I walk into an office, I show each person the same amount of respect, whether it’s the receptionist or the boss. This technique will serve you well both when you are going for a job and after you get it.

As the old saying goes, “Be nice to people on your way up because you’ll meet them on your way down.”

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Source: moneytalksnews.com

10 Free Holiday Activities for Couples Paying off Debt

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure for more information.

This is where it all started guys. On a quiet summer afternoon I hit publish on my first post titled 10 Free Activities for Couples Paying off Debt and the rest is history. I thought it fitting to do one for the winter as well, seeing how we spend more money this time of year than any other.

1. Christmas Lights Home Tour

Every city has a neighborhood that really goes all out with the lights. Take a drive to look at them or walk if the weather isn’t frightful. In Florida, the weather is always great this time of year so we have a biking group that does a huge ride through the neighborhoods and ends back at a bar for beers.

You can make a trip out of it too. A city near us was featured on TV for their light displays so I’m looking forward to seeing it this year. Sometimes houses do the same thing every year so it’s fun to switch it up from time to time.

2. Holiday Movie Night

Put on your pajamas and pour the cocoa, there’s nothing better than a Christmas movie! While I’m partial to all holiday Claymation movies I loved the resurgence of quality seasonal cinema of the early 2000’s. For those with Netflix (or borrowing from a friend) here’s a list of movies for your viewing pleasure.

If you don’t have Netflix, channels like NBC, ABC, Freeform, etc always have a good variety (I’m judging you if you even try to add Hallmark Channel movies to that list.)

3. School Holiday Production

Elementary schools always have some type of performance with oodles of cute awkward kids singing carols and dressed like elves. The best part, these events are usually free. If you don’t have friends with kids that can keep you in the loop find some teacher friends with connections. They’ll know when all the good shows are. But word to the wise, don’t do this one if you look like these guys:

Do the Creep

Do the Creep

4. Live Nativity

These things can range from “plastic baby in a manger” to “drive-through re-creation of the gospels.” Even if you get a bad one there’s usually hot cocoa and cookies at the end so you win either way. The good ones really do bring the Christmas story to life and it’s a pretty cool experience. I highly recommend it.

5. Star Gaze

Winter is a great time for star gazing. Taurus, Perseus, and Gemini are some of the constellations you can find in the winter sky. Yes, I did Google that, so even if you’re not a budding astronomer who doesn’t enjoy looking at shiny things in the sky?

Download an app like SkyView Free and find all the starry patterns. If you’re lucky enough to live by a planetarium see if they do free shows. Ours does two every Friday that the college is in session.

6. Holiday Parade

Was anybody else in marching band? I was and it was absolutely for the parades. There are a lot in December! We have our pick of morning or evening throughout the month. And since we live near the water we even have a few lighted boat parades! Check your cities events calendar and cities around you to fill your weekends with candy canes and Santas!

7. Photo with Santa

Speaking of Santa, how ridiculous are the prices for photos with Santa these days!? I don’t even have kids and I feel like I need to start putting away for their Santa pictures fund. That was until I found out about Bass Pro Shop’s annual Santa’s Wonderland. On select days you can get a free personalized photo with Santa, free wooden picture frame, free crafts for the kids, and more!

And even if you don’t have kids you should definitely put on your tackiest Christmas sweaters and make this years’ card something the family will be talking about til next year. Why not? It’s free!

8. Volunteer

I included this in my last list but the opportunities for giving this time of year are too numerous not to share again. Aside from soup kitchens and caroling you can hand out Christmas cards at Hospice, collect cans of food from your pantry to give to a shelter, or connect with your local foster care licensing agency to help out a foster family in need. Your money is valuable but your time is just as needed.

9. Go Outside

This is the obligatory “make a snow angel or sled down a hill” spot. But I live in Florida so I don’t know how to do that stuff. Whether you’re in blizzard country or it’s a balmy 70 degrees outside (sorry not sorry) get your butt outside and experience the free entertainment mother nature has to offer. I for one love walks downtown during the day and bonfires with s’more at night.

10. Stay Inside

Okay, outside not your thing? Stay inside… if you know what I mean. When’s the last time you pretended you were on your honeymoon or your favorite vacation with your significant other? There’s never a good time to put on those nighties from your lingerie shower so make the time! Get romantic and see what happens. Hey, it’s free. ?

Any other ideas for free activities this time of year? I’m always looking for new things to try and include in new posts!

Free Activities for Couples

Free Activities for Couples

<img data-attachment-id="4968" data-permalink="https://www.modernfrugality.com/save-money-online/mf-10-free-winter-activities-for-couples-paying-off-debt/" data-orig-file="https://i0.wp.com/www.modernfrugality.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/MF-10-Free-Winter-Activities-for-Couples-Paying-Off-Debt.png?fit=735%2C1102&ssl=1" data-orig-size="735,1102" data-comments-opened="1" data-image-meta="{"aperture":"0","credit":"","camera":"","caption":"","created_timestamp":"0","copyright":"","focal_length":"0","iso":"0","shutter_speed":"0","title":"","orientation":"0"}" data-image-title="Want to get out of the house this winter without spending an arm and a leg?" data-image-description="

If you want to get out of the house this winter, check out these activities! 10 Free winter activities for couples paying off debt. You don’t have to spend an arm and a leg every single time you leave the house. #freewinteractivities #freeactivitiesforcouples #freewinteractivitiesforcouples #cheapactivities

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Jen Smith is a personal finance expert, founder of Modern Frugality and co-host of the Frugal Friends Podcast. Her work has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Lifehacker, Money Magazine, U.S. News and World Report, Business Insider, and more. She’s passionate about helping people gain control of their spending.

Source: modernfrugality.com

9 Simple Ways To Get Free Diapers

9 Ways Get Free Diapers

9 Ways Get Free Diapers

Looking for free diapers and low-cost baby products?

Diapers are expensive and a pain in the budget. Babies need roughly 8000 diapers before they’re potty trained, costing parents $2000 or more.

So we’ve put together some simple and legitimate options to help you save money. When you combine these methods together, you can literally save hundreds of dollars.

Try these easy tactics to get free diapers. It only takes a few minutes to fill out a form or sign up for a program, and the savings you’ll enjoy is truly worth it.

Table of Contents

Target-Baby-Registry

Target-Baby-Registry

Let’s start with the low-hanging fruit – free stuff from Target.

Target Baby Registry – Set up a baby registry at Target and you’ll get free diapers and wipes from The Honest Company and plenty more.

You’ll also receive a cool gift bag stuffed with free samples and a $50 coupon book with savings at major outlets like Starbucks and Liz Lange.

Here’s just some of what you get:

  • Munchkin Latch 4 oz. baby bottle
  • Baby Aquaphor diaper rash cream
  • MAM newborn pacifier
  • Johnson & Johnson Head-to-Toe lotion
  • A 10-piece sample pack of baby wipes from The Honest Company.
  • Pampers samples of diapers and wipes.
  • Lanisinoh disposable nursing pads and breastmilk storage bags
  • Johnsons’s “Baby’s Firsts” guide to first-year milestones
  • Babyganics Moisturizing Daily Lotion sample tube
  • Mustela Hydra Bebe body lotion sample
  • Zarbee’s Naturals baby immune support vitamins
  • 10% off any nursing bra and/or camisole.

Two:  Sign Up for Amazon Family

Amazon Mom Family

Amazon Mom Family

Amazon Family (formerly Amazon Mom) comes with a free 30-day trial, or you can access it for free if you’re already a Prime member.  Just create a child profile to begin and save up to 20% on diaper and baby food subscriptions.   You’ll also get additional discounts on other family products.

Amazon Family is part of Prime so all shipping is free.

Refer your friends and get an additional $10 in Amazon credit to use for free diapers.

Three:  Get Free Amazon Cards for Diapers

Swagbucks

Swagbucks

Wouldn’t it be great to get free Amazon cards and then use them for diapers and other baby products?

Good news – Swagbucks and InboxDollars give you that opportunity.  Here’s how it works.

Swagbucks gives you rewards points for various online actions, such as using their search engine, taking surveys, watching videos and playing games.  Then just redeem your rewards for Amazon gift cards (or cards from other stores) or as cash through PayPal.

Signing up is free and you’ll even get a $5 sign up bonus.

TIP:  Download the app and perform many of the tasks on the go.  You can easily earn $25 each month in Amazon cards with minimal effort.

InboxDollars is another loyalty company offering rewards for shopping online, taking surveys and watching videos. Redeem your points for an Amazon card to use on anything you want.

Four:  Get Free Diapers by Signing Up with Diaper Companies

Huggies Rewards Program

Huggies Rewards Program

Diaper companies know that most parents find one diaper brand they like and use them exclusively as long as their child needs diapers.

Naturally, these companies want you to be loyal to their brand, and not to their competitors.  So they’ll happily give you free diaper samples to earn your loyalty.

Huggies Rewards program offers free diapers and wipes when you redeem Huggies points.  You can get 500 free points just for signing up here.

When you make a purchase of Huggies diapers or baby products, upload your receipt to their site to get more points added to your account.

Huggies recently lowered the number of points needed to acquire coupons for free diapers and baby products so saving money is easier than ever.

In addition to Huggies, check out the rewards programs at the other major brands:

Pampers

Luvs

GoodNights

More Free Samples

Honest Company – Jessica Alba’s environmentally safe company will send you 7 premium diapers and 10 baby wipes. The diapers contain no chemical bleaches.

Dollar Diaper Club – Get a free trial and they’ll send you 6 organic diapers and 10 wipes.

Everyday Happy – Receive a free trial box of premium diapers and a package of bamboo wipes.

Simply Right – Sign up on their website and this Sam’s Club brand will send you free diapers and wipes.

Five:  Smart Couponing for Free Diapers

Clipping Coupons

Clipping Coupons

Check your local paper and online for diaper coupons and look for diaper sales at your local stores.  By timing your coupons with diaper sales, you can really save on diapers, or even get them for free.

Here are a few places online where you can clip baby diaper coupons.

Huggies coupons

Luvs coupons

Pampers coupons

Six:  Use Referral Programs for Diaper Money

baby diapers

baby diapers

A couple of companies offer lucrative referral programs that could add up to a lot of free diapers and wipes.

Diapers.com gives you $5 in diaper credit for each person you refer to their site.  Sign up for their referral program here.

If you have an active Facebook or Instagram account, ePantry has a referral program.  Post to your accounts and earn $8 for every mom you sign up.

Occasionally ePantry runs promotions offering up to $20 per referral.

Seven:  Charities and Government Programs Helping with Diapers and More.

Free baby diapers

Free baby diapers

The National Diaper Bank Network helps low-income families with free diapers.  The non-profit network has chapters nationwide so those in need can pick up diapers locally.

This is a great complement to food stamps and WIC, which do not provide diapers.

NeedHelpPayingBills.com aims to assist the needy with a variety of needs.   Here is their free baby diapers resource list of organizations everywhere that are ready to help.

Eight: – Save by using cloth diapers

Cloth Diapers

Cloth Diapers

Washable cloth diapers are an environmentally friendly option for your child.

They can also help you save money, especially if you have, or plan on having, more than one child in diapers.

Nine:  Call Pediatrician or Hospital for Freebies

Pediatrician and hospitals give diapers

Pediatrician and hospitals give diapers

Hospitals often give you stuff you need for your newborn, such as a free diaper bag or car seat.  Check with your hospital before your due date to see what is available to you.

Your OB/Gyn doctor and pediatrician are also great resources to consider for free baby diapers, bottles, and formula samples.  They can steer you in the right direction and they usually have baby samples right there in their office.

Like It?  Share It!

If this post was helpful, please share it with others who might like it too.  Thanks!

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Source: incomist.com

The Millionaire Next Door Book Review [6 Important Lessons]

You know that plumber who lives on your street and drives the beat up pickup truck? He’s much more likely to be a millionaire than the executive next door driving the BMW.

Don’t believe me? Well that was a common theme found in The Millionaire Next Door:The Surprising Secrets of America’s Wealthy by William Danko and Thomas Stanley.

The Millionaire Next DoorThe Millionaire Next Door
The Millionaire Next Door: The Surprising Secrets of America’s Wealthy

The authors surveyed thousands of real millionaires and their answers revealed many surprising lessons, such as:

1. The wealthy don’t always look wealthy and vice-versa.

People who look rich may not actually be rich.

They spend more than they can afford on symbols of wealth but have modest portfolios. Some are living paycheck to paycheck, heavily in debt with little or no savings.

Conversely, real millionaires usually live in middle class neighborhoods, drive cars they own outright, and don’t spend extravagantly on material things.

2. They don’t spend a lot of money on cars.

The authors point out that cars are the second biggest material expense in our lifetime.

If you add up all the money you’ve spent on cars over the years it can be really eye-opening.

Even if you’re young, the amount you’ve spent on cars compared to how much money you’ve earned is usually pretty high.

According to their survey results, most real millionaires buy a nice car, like an Acura or Lexus. They buy it with cash, or make payments until they own it, and ultimately hold on to the car for at least a decade.

Forbes backs this up, stating 61% of those earning at least $250,000 a year are driving Honda, Toyota, Acura and Volkswagens.

3. They save and consistently invest.

In America, our average household savings rate dipped into the negative in 2005, for the first time since the Great Depression. The savings rate has improved but is still only 5% currently.

Which brings us back to your original question; What are the secrets only the wealthy now and the middle class is unaware of?

Now, we all know saving money to acquire wealth is not a secret. But clearly this is an area the middle class can improve in

Compare that negative savings rate to that of the average millionaire, who invests nearly 20% of their income.

In its simplest form, that’s really all wealth is; earning more than you spend and investing the difference — consistently.

Consistently investing means you are fully capitalizing on compounding interest.

It means you are turning small contributions into large sums over time.

4. They adhere to a budget.

The majority of millionaires stick to a budget.

Even among those who don’t budget, they pay themselves first with money directly to their savings and investment accounts. They then work from the remaining funds.

But the majority do take the time to budget, even if they don’t want to, because the know the long-term benefits first-hand.

5. They spend a lot of time managing their money.

managing money

managing money

The wealthy spend a lot of time budgeting, goal setting and managing their portfolios.

According to Danko and Stanley, the wealthy spend nearly twice as many hours per month managing their finances as those without wealth.

The good news?

You don’t have to earn a big six-figure salary to accumulate wealth, as long as you plan for it.

In their survey of 854 middle-income workers, the authors found a strong correlation between investment planning and wealth accumulation citing; “Most prodigious accumulators of wealth have a regimented planning schedule. Each week, each month, each year, they plan their investments.”

6. They own their own business or work for themselves.

Not everyone that gets rich owns their own businesses.

But in The Millionaire Next Door, they discovered a lot of folks who ran their own service businesses such as landscapers, plumbers, electricians, commercial cleaners and so on.

One of the key takeaways of this book for me is many millionaires attributed their dedication to financial planning as a requirement of doing business.

Because their business finances and personal finances are so closely intertwined, they really have no choice but to consistently examine their finances in order to survive — and thrive.

There’s many more lessons in the book but I wanted to mention some of the biggest takeaways for me.

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I initially read The Millionaire Next Door around the year 2000.  I don’t remember the exact year.  But it was very impactful in my life, so much so that I’ve read it several times since then.

It’s a mindset book as much as it’s a nuts-and-bolts how-to book.  Much of the advice is tried and true stuff your parents or grandparents would tell you.   You’d be wise to listen to it, as tried-and-true tactics provide the best template to follow for proven success.

At the same time, the data from their surveys also uncovers many surprising similarities among millionaires.   Tendencies and habits that challenge conventional wisdom and make you rethink your employment, lifestyle and personal finance decisions.

It’s definitely one of my favorite personal finance books, which is why I wanted to share the lessons I’ve learned from it here.

The Millionaire Next Door is a must-read, no matter where you are in your personal finance journey.  It really provides the proper mindset needed to successfully manage your money.

It sets the right foundation for your money goals.  When you see the common habits of hundreds of millionaires, along with the logic behind those habits, it’s becomes painfully obvious the personal choices you need to make to become a millionaire yourself, or at least improve your personal finances significantly.

Have you read The Millionaire Next Door?  What is the biggest lesson you learned from reading it?

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Source: incomist.com

What Can a Landlord Deduct From Your Deposit? A Primer for Current and Former Renters

Maybe you didn’t think twice when you put a big security deposit on that fancy apartment two summers ago. But now that you’re getting ready to move again, you might be wondering how much of that deposit you’ll actually get back.

Believe it or not, your deposit isn’t at the mercy of your landlord. Tenants have rights, and landlords have limitations on what they can deduct from your deposit.

In Florida, for example, “if the landlord fails to return the security deposit in a timely manner, or deducts for normal wear and tear, then the tenant can sue the landlord to get their deposit back and the landlord will have to pay the tenant’s attorney fee,” says Larry Tolchinsky, a real estate lawyer and partner at Sackrin & Tolchinsky in Hallandale Beach, FL.

But to avoid getting to that point, it’s important for tenants to understand the basics on deposits. In most states, the timely return of your deposit means there’s a deadline—such as 30 days—so be sure to leave a forwarding address.

When landlords deduct from your deposit, they will typically include an itemized statement explaining how the deposit was applied. In California, for example, if a landlord deducts any more than $126, they must provide receipts for their deductions.

Landlords can’t deduct from your deposit for any old reason; there has to be a legit circumstance. The rules may vary from city to city (or state to state), so read up on what your landlord can and can’t do in your area. But, in general, here are some things landlords can deduct from your deposit.

Nonpayment of rent

Unemployment as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic has hit many tenants hard, rendering them unable to pay rent. Some landlords and management companies have offered rent relief, but others have claimed that unpaid rent is unpaid rent. In this situation, landlords can collect unpaid rent—and late fees—from your deposit as necessary.

“Rent that is not paid is considered damages when a tenant vacates,” says Eric Drenckhahn, a real estate investor and property manager, who runs the blog NoNonsenseLandlord.com. “A tenant cannot use the damage deposit to pay their rent without the landlord’s approval, but a landlord can deduct it for nonpayment after a tenant has left.”

Unpaid utilities

Forgetting to pay your utility bill happens. But if you pay for things like trash and water through your property management company, be aware that your landlord could tap your security deposit to cover any bills you missed.

Tolchinsky says there is no black and white law on this, but it is possible. It all depends on the terms of your lease and local rules governing the jurisdiction that you reside in.

Abnormal cleaning costs

If you left the place trashed and filthy, expect your landlord to dig into your deposit. Landlords can deduct from your deposit for excessive dirtiness, beyond normal cleaning costs.

Drenckhahn says the place should be “broom clean,” or as clean as when you moved in.

“Dirt and grease left behind is not wear and tear,” says Drenckhahn. “Examples of excessive dirtiness includes removing stains from the carpet, replacing the carpet due to a cat using a closet for a litter box, or replacing door trim due to cat scratches.”

Doing a little cleaning before leaving isn’t a bad idea, but it doesn’t guarantee it’ll save your security deposit.

Tolchinksy says if a tenant hires a professional cleaner, rents a steam cleaner, or buys paint to paint the walls, he or she “should maintain all invoices and receipts” to provide proof to the landlord.

Damage to the property

Security deposit laws allow a landlord to deduct from a security deposit for any damage. This is different from normal wear and tear, such as faded paint or worn carpet that is naturally occurring and not due to the tenant. Examples of damage to the property include a broken bathroom vanity, cracked kitchen countertop, or broken doors.

Tolchinsky says it’s a good idea for a tenant to request a move-in and a move-out checklist and document by pictures and video the condition of the apartment.

Items left behind

Packing and moving everything you own is a huge undertaking. But regardless of how exhausted you are, don’t leave any items behind; it could be a costly mistake.

“Mattresses and box springs left behind are expensive to get rid of, and you will be charged accordingly,” says Drenckhahn. “It is not unusual to be charged $50 or more for each piece.”

If you do need to get rid of a bunch of large items, hire a junk hauling company, try to sell them online, or look into donating them to charity.

Breaking the lease

In some circumstances, breaking your lease is the only option. But breaking your lease early makes it less likely that you will reunite with your deposit.

A landlord can keep all, or part, of your deposit to cover costs if you break your lease early, per landlord-tenant state laws and what’s written in your lease contract. If you can, try to move when your lease is up.

“In my places, you are required to be out by 10 a.m. There is no late checkout, as I have tenants generally moving in the next day,” says Drenckhahn. “When you have the place clean, and even move out a few days early, it’s very easy to refund 100% of the damage deposit.”

Source: realtor.com

7 Mistakes That Could Keep You From Selling Your Home This Winter

Selling a house during winter comes with its own unique challenges. Snow, for one, can bury your home’s best features. Your normally lush landscaping may look drab and lifeless. And truth be told, all you want to do is cozy up at home rather than welcome buyers through your door.

Still, if you’re game to sell during winter, it’s essential that you put on your snow pants and put some effort into making your house shine. To help, here are some classic mistakes to avoid once the temperature drops, and why they can make such a difference. Just avoid making these all-too-common winter-selling fumbles in order to get top dollar.

Mistake No. 1: Setting down the shovel

You cleared off enough of the driveway for your car, but potential buyers won’t be entering through the garage like you do.

“Blazing a path through 3 feet of virgin snow makes a lousy first impression,” says John Engel, a Realtor® with Halstead Properties, in New Canaan, CT.

Don’t put away your snow shovel until you’ve cleared a path to your front door. Or save your poor back by hiring a snow removal company to keep your paths walkable.

“Not only does it make it more inviting for buyers, but it avoids potential safety and liability concerns,” says Massachusetts Realtor John Ternullo.

Mistake No. 2: Giving in to the winter blahs

Gray skies and barren trees make winter a particularly depressing time to sell. But you don’t have to let your home look as doleful as the weather.

“Pops of color by the entryway, like a seasonal wreath and topiaries, can add some interest to the front entrance as well as make it more inviting,” Ternullo says.

And don’t wait until buyers schedule showings to add some life: Colorful curb appeal transforms your listing photos from drab to dramatic.

Mistake No. 4: Not scrubbing your windows

Colder temps have robbed your trees of their leaves, leaving your home to look a bit sadder in winter’s wake. But that’s not the only problem. Those full trees previously shielded your home from direct sunlight. And now that it’s pouring in your windows, potential buyers will be able to see everything. 

Scuffs, fingerprints, and streaks are “never more apparent” than in the wintertime, Engel says, so you should make sure you’re vigilant about keeping windows clean. Alone, that grime might not be enough to turn off a potential buyer, but it might make them wonder what other details you’ve missed.

Mistake No. 5: Displaying outdated summer photos

Your Tudor looks particularly glorious in the summer, but if your only listing photos were taken in April, buyers will immediately suspect a problem.

“Nothing says ‘old, tired listing’ more than the photo you took nine months ago,” Engel says. Talk to your Realtor about taking new photos that make your home look festive and seasonal. Feel free to keep older photos in the listing—your buyers might want to know what the home looks like when the gardens are in full bloom—but updated photos will make your listing seem fresh.

Mistake No. 6: Turning down the heat

Don't give potential buyers a chilly reception.
Don’t give potential buyers a chilly reception.

Olivier Le Moal/iStock

“Frugality is great, but not when you’re trying to sell real estate for top dollar,” says Brian Davis, a real estate investor and co-founder of SparkRental.com.

Turn the heat up before you leave for showings, your utility bill be damned. Stick to 68 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit to keep everyone comfy.

“It will make the house feel homier and more welcoming,” Davis says. “It also gives the impression that the house is energy-efficient and well-insulated.”

Mistake No. 7: Denying access

It’s New Year’s Eve and a buyer wants to stop by. How dare they! Shouldn’t they assume you have a fabulous party to prepare for?

Maybe. But if you want to sell your home in the off-season, the buyer has to come first. You’ll need to work with your Realtor to devise a strategy for squeezing in showings, even in between all of winter’s holiday events and family gatherings.

“While it may be inconvenient, it’s crucial not to deny showings, as that could be a missed opportunity,” Ternullo says. “There may be less buyers compared to spring, but winter buyers tend to be serious.”

Mistake No. 8: Leaving out your draft stoppers

Your hand-knit draft stopper might look adorable snuggled against your door, but it “sends a clear message to buyers,” Davis says. “This house is drafty and loses heat easily.”

Not that you should lie. But every home has hidden problems, and it’s best to let the buyers make their own assessments and discoveries during the inspection period. Don’t leave out little things that could sway their decision.

Source: realtor.com