Steps to Getting A Financial Advisor in your 20s

Getting a financial advisor in your 20s is a responsible thing to do. At the every least, it means that you are serious about your finances. Finding one in your local area is not hard, especially with SmartAsset free matching tool, which can match you up to 3 financial advisors in under 5 minutes. However, you must also remember that a quality financial advisor does not come free. So, before deciding whether getting a financial advisor in your 20s makes financial sense, you first have to decide the cost to see a financial advisor.

What can a financial advisor do for you?

A financial advisor can help you set financial goals, such as saving for a house, getting married, buying a car, or retirement. They can help you avoid making costly mistakes, protect your assets, grow your savings, make more money, and help you feel more in control of your finances. So to help you get started, here are some of the steps you need to take before hiring one.

Need help with your money? Find a financial advisor near you with SmartAsset’s free matching tool.

1. Financial advice cost

What is the cost to see a financial advisor? For a lot of us, when we hear “financial advisors,” we automatically think that they only work with wealthy people or people with substantial assets. But financial advisors work with people with different financial positions. Granted they are not cheap, but a fee-only advisor will only charge you by the hour at a reasonable price – as little as $75 an hour.

Indeed, a normal rate for a fee-only advisor can be anywhere from $75 an hour $150 per hour. So, if you’re seriously thinking about getting a financial advisor in your 20s, a fee-only advisor is strongly recommended.

Good financial advisors can help you with your finance and maximize your savings. Take some time to shop around and choose a financial advisor that meets your specific needs.

2. Where to get financial advice?

Choosing a financial advisor is much like choosing a lawyer or a tax accountant. The most important thing is to shop around. So where to find the best financial advisors?

Finding a financial advisor you can trust, however, can be difficult. Given that there is a lot of information out there, it can be hard to determine which one will work in your best interest. Luckily, SmartAsset’s free matching tool has done the heavy lifting for you. Each of the financial advisor there, you with up to 3 financial advisors in your local area in just under 5 minutes.

3. Check them out

Once you are matched with a financial advisor, the next step is to do your own background on them. Again, SmartAsset’s free matching tool has already done that for you. But it doesn’t hurt to do your own digging. After all, it’s your money that’s on the line. You can check to see if their license are current. Check where they have worked, their qualifications, and training. Do they belong in any professional organizations? Have they published any articles recently?

Related: 5 Mistakes People Make When Hiring a Financial Advisor

4. Questions to ask your financial advisor

After you’re matched up with 3 financial advisors through SmartAsset’s free matching tool, the next step is to contact all three of them to interview them:

  • Experience: getting a financial advisor in your 20s means that you’re serious about your finances. So, you have to make sure you’re dealing with an experienced advisor — someone with experience on the kind of advice you’re seeking. For example, if you’re looking for advice on buying a house, they need to have experience on advising others on how to buy a house. So some good questions to ask are: Do you have the right experience to help me with my specific needs? Do you regularly advise people with the same situations? If not, you will need to find someone else.

5 Reasons You Need to Hire A Financial Consultant

  • Fees – as mentioned earlier, if you don’t have a lot of money and just started out, it’s best to work with a fee-only advisor. However, not all fee-only advisors are created equal; some charges more than others hourly. So a good question to ask is: how much will you charge me hourly?
  • Qualifications – asking whether they are qualified to advise is just important when considering getting a financial advisor in your 20s. So ask find about their educational background. Find out where they went to school, and what was their major. Are they also certified? Did they complete additional education? if so, in what field? Do they belong to any professional association? How often do they attend seminars, conferences in their field.
  • Their availability – Are they available when you need to consult with them? Do they respond to emails and phone calls in a timely manner? Do they explain financial topics to you in an easy-to-understand language?

If you’re satisfied with the answers to all of your questions, then you will feel more confident working with a financial advisor.

In sum, the key to getting a financial advisor in your 20s is to do your research so you don’t end up paying money for the wrong advice. You can find financial advisors in your area through SmartAsset’s Free matching tool.

  • Find a financial advisor – Use SmartAsset’s free matching tool to find a financial advisor in your area in less than 5 minutes. With free tool, you will get matched up to 3 financial advisors. All you have to do is to answer a few questions. Get started now.
  • You can also ask your friends and family for recommendations.
  • Follow our tips to find the best financial advisor for your needs.

Articles related to “getting a financial advisor in your 20s:”

  • How to Choose A Financial Advisor
  • 5 Signs You Need A Financial Advisor
  • 5 Mistakes People Make When Hiring A Financial Advisor

Thinking of getting financial advice in your 20s? Talk to the Right Financial Advisor.

You can talk to a financial advisor who can review your finances and help you reach your saving goals and get your debt under control. Find one who meets your needs with SmartAsset’s free financial advisor matching service. You answer a few questions and they match you with up to three financial advisors in your area. So, if you want help developing a plan to reach your financial goals, get started now.

The post Steps to Getting A Financial Advisor in your 20s appeared first on GrowthRapidly.

Source: growthrapidly.com

A Guide to Schedule K-1 (Form 1041)

Man prepares his tax returnsInheriting property or other assets typically involves filing the appropriate tax forms with the IRS. Schedule K-1 (Form 1041) is used to report a beneficiary’s share of an estate or trust, including income as well as credits, deductions and profits. A K-1 tax form inheritance statement must be sent out to beneficiaries at the end of the year. If you’re the beneficiary of an estate or trust, it’s important to understand what to do with this form if you receive one and what it can mean for your tax filing.

Schedule K-1 (Form 1041), Explained

Schedule K-1 (Form 1041) is an official IRS form that’s used to report a beneficiary’s share of income, deductions and credits from an estate or trust. It’s full name is “Beneficiary’s Share of Income, Deductions, Credits, etc.” The estate or trust is responsible for filing Schedule K-1 for each listed beneficiary with the IRS. And if you’re a beneficiary, you also have to receive a copy of this form.

This form is required when an estate or trust is passing tax obligations on to one or more beneficiaries. For example, if a trust holds income-producing assets such as real estate, then it may be necessary for the trustee to file Schedule K-1 for each listed beneficiary.

Whether it’s necessary to do so or not depends on the amount of income the estate generates and the residency status of the estate’s beneficiaries. If the annual gross income from the estate is less than $600, then the estate isn’t required to file Schedule K-1 tax forms for beneficiaries. On the other hand, this form has to be filed if the beneficiary is a nonresident alien, regardless of how much or how little income is reported.

Contents of Schedule K-1 Tax Form Inheritance Statements

The form itself is fairly simple, consisting of a single page with three parts. Part one records information about the estate or trust, including its name, employer identification number and the name and address of the fiduciary in charge of handling the disposition of the estate. Part Two includes the beneficiary’s name and address, along with a box to designate them as a domestic or foreign resident.

Part Three covers the beneficiary’s share of current year income, deductions and credits. That includes all of the following:

  • Interest income
  • Ordinary dividends
  • Qualified dividends
  • Net short-term capital gains
  • Net long-term capital gains
  • Unrecaptured Section 1250 gains
  • Other portfolio and nonbusiness income
  • Ordinary business income
  • Net rental real estate income
  • Other rental income
  • Directly apportioned deductions
  • Estate tax deductions
  • Final year deductions
  • Alternative minimum tax deductions
  • Credits and credit recapture

If you receive a completed Schedule K-1 (Form 1041) you can then use it to complete your Form 1040 Individual Tax Return to report any income, deductions or credits associated with inheriting assets from the estate or trust.

You wouldn’t, however, have to include a copy of this form when you file your tax return unless backup withholding was reported in Box 13, Code B. The fiduciary will send a copy to the IRS on your behalf. But you would want to keep a copy of your Schedule K-1 on hand in case there are any questions raised later about the accuracy of income, deductions or credits being reported.

Estate Income and Beneficiary Taxation

Woman prepares her tax returns

If you received a Schedule K-1 tax form, inheritance tax rules determine how much tax you’ll owe on the income from the estate. Since the estate is a pass-through entity, you’re responsible for paying income tax on the income that’s generated. The upside is that when you report amounts from Schedule K-1 on your individual tax return, you can benefit from lower tax rates for qualified dividends. And if there’s income from the estate that hasn’t been distributed or reported on Schedule K-1, then the trust or estate would be responsible for paying income tax on it instead of you.

In terms of deductions or credits that can help reduce your tax liability for income inherited from an estate, those can include things like:

  • Depreciation
  • Depletion allocations
  • Amortization
  • Estate tax deduction
  • Short-term capital losses
  • Long-term capital losses
  • Net operating losses
  • Credit for estimated taxes

Again, the fiduciary who’s completing the Schedule K-1 for each trust beneficiary should complete all of this information. But it’s important to check the information that’s included against what you have in your own records to make sure that it’s correct. If there’s an error in reporting income, deductions or credits and you use that inaccurate information to complete your tax return, you could end up paying too much or too little in taxes as a result.

If you think the information in your Schedule K-1 (Form 1041) is incorrect, you can contact the fiduciary to request an amended form. If you’ve already filed your taxes using the original form, you’d then have to file an amended return with the updated information.

Schedule K-1 Tax Form for Inheritance vs. Schedule K-1 (Form 1065)

Schedule K-1 can refer to more than one type of tax form and it’s important to understand how they differ. While Schedule K-1 (Form 1041) is used to report information related to an estate or trust’s beneficiaries, you may also receive a Schedule K-1 (Form 1065) if you run a business that’s set up as a pass-through entity.

Specifically, this type of Schedule K-1 form is used to record income, losses, credits and deductions related to the activities of an S-corporation, partnership or limited liability company (LLC). A Schedule K-1 (Form 1065) shows your share of business income and losses.

It’s possible that you could receive both types of Schedule K-1 forms in the same tax year if you run a pass-through business and you’re the beneficiary of an estate. If you’re confused about how to report the income, deductions, credits and other information from either one on your tax return, it may be helpful to get guidance from a tax professional.

The Bottom Line

Senior citizen prepares her tax returnsReceiving a Schedule K-1 tax form is something you should be prepared for if you’re the beneficiary of an estate or trust. Again, whether you will receive one of these forms depends on whether you’re a resident or nonresident alien and the amount of income the trust or estate generates. Talking to an estate planning attorney can offer more insight into how estate income is taxed as you plan a strategy for managing an inheritance.

Tips for Estate Planning

  • Consider talking to a financial advisor about the financial implications of inheriting assets. If you don’t have a financial advisor yet, finding one doesn’t have to be complicated. SmartAsset’s financial advisor matching tool can help you connect with professional advisors in your local area in minutes. If you’re ready, get started now.
  • One way to make the job of filing taxes easier is with a free, easy-to-use tax return calculator. Also, creating a trust is something you might consider as part of your own estate plan if you have significant assets you want to pass on.

Photo credit: ©iStock.com/fizkes, ©iStock.com/urbazon, ©iStock.com/dragana991

The post A Guide to Schedule K-1 (Form 1041) appeared first on SmartAsset Blog.

Source: smartasset.com

How Microlearning Can Level Up Your Knowledge

If you’re looking to advance your career or pivot to a new industry, then you’re probably checking out ways you can beef up your resume. Maybe you’re considering an MBA, a bootcamp, or browsing upcoming conferences. Or perhaps you’re considering the DIY route and looking for podcast and book recommendations. 

While any of these options will help you learn and could boost your resume, the best way to level up your career prospects is to dedicate yourself to becoming a lifelong learner, which is where microlearning comes into play. 

Conferences and classes are bursting with information, but you may feel limited by the course schedule and teaching style. This works for some people, but it can be expensive and hard to fit into a budget or daily schedule. Microlearning can help you take charge of your education by providing bite-sized lessons. Over time, you can build up your learnings for a more thorough and robust understanding of the subject. 

The best part is you can apply your specific lessons to your life, career, and goals to build each of these out over time and see what really works and what doesn’t. Your consistent growth can improve job satisfaction and career opportunities, putting you in the spotlight for the next raise or promotion. Learn more below or jump to our infographic to get started.

What Is Microlearning?

Microlearning has become a popular workplace trend as a learning process that breaks topics into highly specific, concise lessons. This allows the learner to build understanding and confidence at their own pace.

Microlearning is great for tackling new information and closing knowledge gaps. If you already have a foundation of knowledge for a topic, then it can be frustrating to wade through the basics for the few new ideas you were looking for. Khan Academy and TED Talks are a great example of how you may fill in knowledge gaps. 

The Benefits of Microlearning

The most important part of any lesson plan is that it’s tailored to a learner’s needs, and that the learner is actually able to retain information. Microlearning’s flexibility for learners is one of its biggest benefits.

illustration highlighting the benefits of microlearning

Here are some other reasons to consider microlearning:

  • Maximize time by preparing lessons for on-the-go and fitting them in during breaks or commutes.
  • Go in-depth to build a solid learning foundation and improve retention with practice. 
  • Find what works by experimenting with videos, articles, or podcasts to find what format works best for you. 
  • Save money with free resources like TED Talks, YouTube, and expert podcast hosts who provide episodic insights and lessons for you to follow. 
  • Fill knowledge gaps with lessons targeting exactly what you need to know instead of wading through beginner resources. 

The Disadvantages of Microlearning

Microlearning is great for career development, employee training, and specific topics that you could use a refresher on. However, they’re not a total replacement for other learning systems, and you should keep these in mind when you get started:

  • It’s not immediate and microlearning is about regular commitments to learning.
  • It isn’t easier, but it may feel easier. This is actually a benefit unless you assume it will be easy. You still have to actively learn and practice your lessons. 
  • Some topics just don’t work, including complicated topics like global economics. It’s great for learning about things like mortgages, but you likely won’t become an expert on personal finance in just a few lessons. 
  • There’s work upfront to finding and compiling the resources that fit your needs and that you trust. This work pays off in the long-run, though, with easy-to-access lessons. 

5 Ways to Begin Microlearning

You may not realize it, but you’ve probably already prioritized microlearning in your day-to-day life. If you’ve watched a YouTube video to learn how to change your oil or customize a spreadsheet, then you know exactly how beneficial short, specific, and detailed lessons can be. 

89% of employees feel more productive when their work is gamified with rewards

Here are some ways you can get started using microlearning as part of your professional development:

1. Game Groups

Gamifying your learning helps make the topic fun and builds a positive relationship with studying. You can get started by setting goals and rewards, or inviting peers to join you with a competitive leaderboard or a trivia night. 

2. Video Clips

Videos are designed to be relatively short and engaging, and YouTube has made learning largely accessible from anywhere. While YouTube playlists are a great place to learn, make sure you’ve done your research on any channels or personalities you’re watching to ensure your lessons are accurate. 

3. Podcast Playlists

Like videos, podcasts are a great way to consume information on the go and from personalities you enjoy and trust. They’ve become hugely popular because they’re easy to listen to while driving, working, or exercising, but it’s important that you give your playlist your active attention if you hope to learn effectively. 

4. Quiz Collections

Considering a quiz may bring flashbacks of test anxiety and stressful finals weeks, but in this scenario, quizzing isn’t about checking a box that you learned something new. Instead, it’s a means to practice your memory recall and retention so you can count on it when you need it most. 

5. Team Talks

Having a team to study with is not only great for motivation, but it can also improve your lesson retention. Active learning is the process of working or chatting through a subject or problem, and studies show this is the best way to learn and practice your skills. 

Keeping up with your professional development is the best way to impress your employer and expand your job prospects. Whether you want to climb the career ladder or ease your daily workload, How Microlearning Can Level Up Your Knowledge appeared first on MintLife Blog.

Source: mint.intuit.com

How to Pay Off Debt – Fast!

The post How to Pay Off Debt – Fast! appeared first on Penny Pinchin' Mom.

Americans are in debt.  It’s one of the main reasons couples fight and a leading cause of stress.  Fortunately, there is a way you can get out of debt.

tricks to getting out of debt fast

Anything worth having in life takes hard work and dedication.  And, the sense of accomplishment and joy when you can tackle what seems to be the impossible, is a great feeling.

The same is with your debt.  Paying it off is NOT easy.  It is going to take a lot of time, but it is so well worth it!

Of course, before you can start to pay off debts, you need to follow the right steps.  It is imperative that you’ve already done the following before you start working on paying off those debts you have.  These include:

  1. Preparing your Net Worth and Debt Paydown Forms
  2. Understanding your Money Attitude
  3. Creating Your Budget
  4. Learning How to Use a Cash Budget (Envelope System)
  5. Setting up Your Emergency Fund

Once you’ve tackled these steps, then you get to start the fun part, which is paying off your debts! If you haven’t, you will want to take the time to read each post and follow the steps.  You really should not try to get out of debt until these steps are done.

 

HOW TO GET OUT OF DEBT FAST

It is fun to watch your debts slowly disappear!   However, it is important that you are ready.  If you are ready, then read on!

KNOW HOW MUCH DEBT YOU HAVE

You need to make sure you know exactly how much you owe and to whom.  I recommend completing a debt pay down form.

This form should list all of the debts you owe, listed from the lowest balances to the highest, as well as your minimum monthly payment.

 

Debt Payoff Forms Bundle

To begin, review your budget.  Hopefully, you were able to find some “extra” money.  By extra money, it means money you have left over after meeting your needs.   When you can free this up in your budget, it is what you will pay towards your debt.

For example, if you were able to lower your grocery bill from $800 to $650 a month, that means you now have $150 to apply to your debt.  My husband and I did this, and it made a HUGE difference.  We did everything we could to reduce our grocery budget from using coupons to menu planning and changing the foods we ate.

Because getting our debt paid off was so important, we eliminated dining out from our budget. For us, it was important to sacrifice in the short term to get ourselves out from underneath our debt.

When you find this extra money, you apply that to your debt. Start by paying any additional money towards the debt on which you owe the least.  Here is an example:

Citibank – $500 owed — minimum payment $10
Visa – $875 owed — minimum payment $15
Ford — $10,475 owed — required monthly payment $375

If you find that you have $25 left over in your budget, apply that towards the lowest debt.  Your form will look something like this now:

Citibank – $500 owed — minimum payment $10 monthly payment $35
Visa – $875 owed — minimum payment $15
Ford — $10,475 owed — required monthly payment $375

Continue to make the payments to these debts as listed.  Then, when Citibank it paid off, you will roll the $35 payment into the Visa payment, like this:

Visa – $875 owed — minimum payment $15 monthly payment $50
Ford — $10,475 owed — required monthly payment $375

Continue this same process.  And, as there is more money freed up in your budget, apply it towards this debt.  Once you start seeing the balances decrease, you will be more motivated to cut your spending and slash your debt.

That is what happened to us.  We were so excited to see those balances decrease that we kept finding more ways to not only reduce our monthly spending but to find more money!

 

HOW TO PAY OFF YOUR DEBTS MORE QUICKLY

Of course, the first step to paying off debts is to find money in your budget to apply towards them.  It can also be beneficial to use larger amounts of cash towards your debts, or even find ways to free up even more money.  Here are some things you might try:

  • Sell items on Craiglist, eBay or other methods.  If you have extra things lying around the house, you may wish to sell them and raise some money and then turn around and make a nice big payment on that smallest debt.
  • Get another job.  If you can swing it, pick up a part-time job and apply all of your earnings towards your debt.  You can try your hand as an Uber driver or even a freelance proofreader.  You can find more ideas on how you can make money from home.
  • Reduce savings and pay down debts.  If you happen to have MORE than $1,000 in the bank currently, but still have debts, you should take any amounts above $1,000 and pay down your debts BEFORE you are saving.  The reason is why are you saving money for yourself and paying more in interest to someone else than you are making yourself?

Get creative!  There are many ways you can find extra money in your budget.  One of these 50 ways to make money to pay off your debt might be the perfect solution for you!

 

HOW TO USE YOUR TAX REFUND

So, what about that nice big tax return that might be coming your way?  Experts say that you should use the rule of thirds:

1/3 towards the past — use to pay off debts
1/3 towards the present — have some fun
1/3 towards the future — savings

If you genuinely want to get out of debt, I would recommend you do the following:  Make sure that you have at least $1,000 in the bank, so your Emergency Fund is funded.  Then, apply any leftover tax refund towards your debt.

We would all love to blow our return on something fun, such as a new TV or vacation.  But, you have to decide if you want that instant gratification (which may turn to guilt) or if you want to get yourself out of debt.  While I can only recommend that you work on the debt first, this is a question only you can answer.

 

WHY NOT CONSIDER INTEREST RATES?

I hear this over and over again “You should pay off the highest interest rate debt first!”  I do not agree with this, and the reason is this – behavior.

Most people need to see that they are reaching goals.  We need to see the fruits of our labor.  By paying off the smallest balance first, it gives you a sense of accomplishment.

You see what you are doing is actually working and you keep working to pay down other debts.  That gives the motivation to keep on as you can see that you are paying off debts and can do this!  GO YOU!!!!

If you work on only the balance with the highest interest rate first, it may take longer actually to pay it down.  Because the rate is higher, it may take longer to tackle the principal balance, since most of your payment always goes towards interest.  This can result in more frustration and you wanting to quit as you feel you are getting nowhere.

Look at it this way; if you were not trying to get out of debt, you would still increase debt due to interest rates, right?  So, if you can do something that gets you on track to start to pay them down one at a time, you are already making a difference in how you look at your debts.

Of course, if you feel better about listing via interest rate, that is what you need to do.  There is not a right or wrong way to pay off your debts.  Just keep in mind that if you find yourself frustrated with progress, you might try to change it around and tackle that lowest balance first.  It just might make the difference for you.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

Getting out of debt is not easy. I’ve been there and know how difficult and challenging it can be.  However, having the tools you need to make it happen is key to your success.

Read our Financial Reboot Book or take the Financial Reboot course to learn even more about not only getting out of debt but how to better manage your money.

 

get out of debt

The post How to Pay Off Debt – Fast! appeared first on Penny Pinchin' Mom.

Source: pennypinchinmom.com

A complete guide to airline companion passes

Flying can be a hefty expense – especially when you’re buying more than one airline ticket at a time. If you frequently fly with a companion, whether it be your child, spouse or friend, a companion pass can drastically reduce your travel costs.

While the terms vary depending on the airline and credit card, generally, companion passes allow a second passenger to fly with you for free or at a significantly discounted rate. Some credit cards automatically offer a companion pass when you are approved for the card or each year on your account anniversary. Others require you to charge a certain amount within a given time frame to earn the pass.

For more details on some of the most common companion passes, including what they offer and how to earn them, read on.

Which airlines offer companion passes?

  • Southwest Airlines
  • American Airlines
  • British Airways
  • Delta Air Lines
  • Hawaiian Air
  • Alaska Airlines
  • Lufthansa Airlines

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card
  • Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card
  • Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card
  • CitiBusiness®/AAdvantage® Platinum Select® Mastercard®
  • AAdvantage® Aviator® Silver World Elite Mastercard®
  • British Airways Visa Signature® Card within a 12-month period, starting on Jan. 1 and ending on Dec. 31. For example, if you opened your card account in June 2020, you have until Dec. 31, 2020 to reach the spend requirement for that year.

    How long is the Travel Together Ticket valid?

    The Travel Together ticket is valid for 24 months from the date of issue.

    Which cards help you qualify?
    British Airways Visa Signature® Card

    Delta SkyMiles Reserve® American Express Card

    Hawaiian Airlines® World Elite Mastercard® (50 percent and $100 discounts)
  • Hawaiian Airlines® Bank of Hawaii World Elite Mastercard® (50 percent and $100 discount)
  • Hawaiian Airlines® Business Mastercard® (50 percent discount)
  • Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® or Alaska Airlines Visa® Business cardholder. As part of the introductory offer, you much spend $2,000 in the first 90 days to receive a companion fare. You will automatically receive the companion fare each year on your account anniversary.

    Travel must be booked on alaskaair.com.

    How long is the fare valid?

    The Famous Companion Fare is valid from the date of issue until your next account anniversary.

    Which cards help you qualify?
    • Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® credit card
    • Alaska Airlines Visa® Business

    How to get the Southwest Companion Pass, Earn sign-up bonus miles with the Southwest Rapid Rewards cards

    The Bank of America content of this post was last updated on March 20, 2020.

    Source: creditcards.com

    How to Get Approved for Credit in a Financial Downturn

    In a recession it’s common for many people to rely on credit cards and loans to balance their finances. It’s the ultimate catch-22 since, during a recession, these financial products can be even harder to qualify for.

    This holds true, according to historical data from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. It found that during the 2007 recession, loan growth at traditional banks decreased and remained deflated over the next four years. 

    Credit can be a powerful tool to help you make ends meet and keep moving forward financially. Here’s what you can do if you’re struggling to access credit during a weak economy.

    Lending becomes riskier in a weak economy. Does this mean you’re completely out of luck if you have bad credit? Not necessarily, but you might need to take the time to understand all of your alternatives.

    How Does a Financial Downturn Affect Lending?

    Giving someone a loan or approving them for a credit card carries a certain amount of risk for a lender. After all, there’s a chance you could stop making payments and the lender could lose all the funds you borrowed, especially with unsecured loans. 

    For lenders, this concept is called, “delinquency”. They’re constantly trying to get their delinquency rate lower; in a booming economy, the delinquency rate at commercial banks is usually under 2%. 

    Lending becomes riskier in a weak economy. There are all sorts of reasons a person might stop paying their loan or credit card bills. You might lose your job, or unexpected medical bills might demand more of your budget. Because lenders know the chances of anyone becoming delinquent are much higher in a weak economy, they tend to restrict their lending criteria so they’re only serving the lowest-risk borrowers. That can leave people with poor credit in a tough financial position.

    Before approving you for a loan, lenders typically look at criteria such as:

    • Income stability 
    • Debt-to-income ratio
    • Credit score
    • Co-signers, if applicable
    • Down payment size (for loans, like a mortgage)

    Does this mean you’re completely out of luck if you have bad credit? Not necessarily, but you might need to take the time to understand all of your alternatives.

    5 Ways to Help Get Your Credit Application Approved 

    Although every lender has different approval criteria, these strategies speak to typical commonalities across most lenders.

    1. Pay Off Debt 

    Paying off some of your debt might feel bold, but it can be helpful when it comes to an application for credit. Repaying your debt reduces your debt-to-income ratio, typically an important metric lenders look at for loans such as a mortgage. Also, paying off debt could help improve your credit utilization ratio, which is a measure of how much available credit you’re currently using right now. If you’re using most of the credit that’s available to you, that could indicate you don’t have enough cash on hand. 

    Not sure what debt-to-income ratio to aim for? The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau suggests keeping yours no higher than 43%. 

    2. Find a Cosigner

    For those with poor credit, a trusted cosigner can make the difference between getting approved for credit or starting back at square one. 

    When someone cosigns for your loan they’ll need to provide information on their income, employment and credit score — as if they were applying for the loan on their own. Ideally, their credit score and income should be higher than yours. This gives your lender enough confidence to write the loan knowing that, if you can’t make your payments, your cosigner is liable for the bill. 

    Since your cosigner is legally responsible for your debt, their credit is negatively impacted if you stop making payments. For this reason, many people are wary of cosigning.

    In a recession, it might be difficult to find someone with enough financial stability to cosign for you. If you go this route, have a candid conversation with your prospective cosigner in advance about expectations in the worst-case scenario. 

    3. Raise Your Credit Score 

    If your credit score just isn’t high enough to qualify for conventional credit you could take some time to focus on improving it. Raising your credit score might sound daunting, but it’s definitely possible. 

    Here are some strategies you can pursue:

    • Report your rent payments. Rent payments aren’t typically included as part of the equation when calculating your credit score, but they can be. Some companies, like Rental Kharma, will report your timely rent payments to credit reporting agencies. Showing a history of positive payment can help improve your credit score. 
    • Make sure your credit report is updated. It’s not uncommon for your credit report to have mistakes in it that can artificially deflate your credit score. Request a free copy of your credit report every year, which you can do online through Experian Free Credit Report. If you find inaccuracies, disputing them could help improve your credit score. 
    • Bring all of your payments current. If you’ve fallen behind on any payments, bringing everything current is an important part of improving your credit score. If your lender or credit card company is reporting late payments a long history of this can damage your credit score. When possible speak to your creditor to work out a solution, before you anticipate being late on a payment.
    • Use a credit repair agency. If tackling your credit score is overwhelming you could opt to work with a reputable credit repair agency to help you get back on track. Be sure to compare credit repair agencies before moving forward with one. Companies that offer a free consultation and have a strong track record are ideal to work with.

    Raising your credit isn’t an immediate solution — it’s not going to help you get a loan or qualify for a credit card tomorrow. However, making these changes now can start to add up over time. 

    4. Find an Online Lender or Credit Union

    Although traditional banks can be strict with their lending policies, some smaller lenders or credit unions offer some flexibility. For example, credit unions are authorized to provide Payday Loan Alternatives (PALs). These are small-dollar, short-term loans available to borrowers who’ve been a member of qualifying credit unions for at least a month.

    Some online lenders might also have more relaxed criteria for writing loans in a weak economy. However, you should remember that if you have bad credit you’re likely considered a riskier applicant, which means a higher interest rate. Before signing for a line of credit, compare several lenders on the basis of your quoted APR — which includes any fees like an origination fee, your loan’s term, and any additional fees, such as late fees. 

    5. Increase Your Down Payment

    If you’re trying to apply for a mortgage or auto loan, increasing your down payment could help if you’re having a tough time getting approved. 

    When you increase your down payment, you essentially decrease the size of your loan, and lower the lender’s risk. If you don’t have enough cash on hand to increase your down payment, this might mean opting for a less expensive car or home so that the lump sum down payment that you have covers a greater proportion of the purchase cost. 

    Loans vs. Credit Cards: Differences in Credit Approval

    Not all types of credit are created equal. Personal loans are considered installment credit and are repaid in fixed payments over a set period of time. Credit cards are considered revolving credit, you can keep borrowing to your approved limit as long as you make your minimum payments. 

    When it comes to credit approvals, one benefit loans have over credit cards is that you might be able to get a secured loan. A secured loan means the lender has some piece of collateral they can recover from you should you stop making payments. 

    The collateral could be your home, car or other valuable asset, like jewelry or equipment. Having that security might give the lender more flexibility in some situations because they know that, in the worst case scenario, they could sell the collateral item to recover their loss. 

    The Bottom Line

    Borrowing during a financial downturn can be difficult and it might not always be the answer to your situation. Adding to your debt load in a weak economy is a risk. For example, you could unexpectedly lose your job and not be able to pay your bills. Having an added monthly debt payment in your budget can add another challenge to your financial situation.

    However, if you can afford to borrow funds during an economic recession, reduced interest rates in these situations can lessen the overall cost of borrowing.

    These tips can help tidy your finances so you’re a more attractive borrower to lenders. There’s no guarantee your application will be accepted, but improving your finances now gives you a greater borrowing advantage in the future.

    The post How to Get Approved for Credit in a Financial Downturn appeared first on Good Financial Cents®.

    Source: goodfinancialcents.com

    How to Make a Great Impression in a Virtual Interview

    Global pandemic got you thinking this is no time for a job change? Think again! Unemployment did soar to alarming rates in the early days of Covid. According to the Harvard Business Review, U.S. unemployment jumped from 3.5% in February of 2020 to 14.7% in April. But as of November 2020, it’s back down to 6.7%.
     
    There is a job market, and it’s yours to partake in if you so choose. But the search is likely to be virtual.
     
    So whether you’re out of a job or just looking for a change, let’s talk about strategies that will help you shine on screen and land your dream job.

    1. Polish that profile

    Keeping your online presence current and polished is a good idea in any moment or market. But according to Fast Company, there’s a particular urgency to sprucing it up right now. 
     
    “Because many HR professionals are relying on video interviews, they’re also looking for ways to get a better feel for who the candidates are… [so] many are turning to social media profiles and looking for evidence of the candidate’s work online.”
     
    This is a moment to assess your professional online presence. Personally, I focus on LinkedIn.
     
    What’s your headline? What achievements are you highlighting? Do you have links in your profile to samples of your work?  Can you ask for testimonials or endorsements from people in your network? Ask a few friends to check out your LinkedIn profile as if they were looking to hire. Get their feedback and make adjustments. 
     
    This is your moment to use LinkedIn like a Rockstar.

    2. Set the scene for success

    My family has this little holiday tradition. Every year we watch the 1989 classic National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. It gets worse every year, but you don’t mess with tradition. This year, my 13-year-old was savvy enough to recognize that no one in Clark Griswold’s office had a computer on their desk. She simply couldn’t fathom the idea of work getting done in a pre-technology world. I can barely believe it myself.
     
    Technology has evolved in ways the workforce of 1989 could never have imagined. It’s amazing what we can do today. But while videoconferencing technology has technically enabled amazing things, we all know it can be clunky and awkward by 2020 standards. So do your best to make your virtual interview as smooth as possible.
     
    Here’s a quick checklist:
     
    • Check your tech. Internet connection, microphone, webcam—are they all working? If not, make sure you troubleshoot ahead of time.
       
    • Create a professional setting. Your background—real or virtual—should be as professional as possible.
       
    • Test the platform in advance. Make sure that wherever you’re meeting (Zoom, Teams, etc.) you have everything downloaded or updated, and you'll be able to get into the virtual interview without a hitch. Do a practice run with a friend if you’re anxious.
       
    • Strip out distractions where you can. Kids, dogs, landscapers, snowblowers—they're all noisemakers of the highest order! Be aware, and do your best to minimize.
       
    • Acknowledge distractions you can’t control. In a tiny apartment or homeschooling kids solo? Don't stress! Just call this out as the meeting begins so no one is caught off guard. Any interviewer with a shred of humanity will offer you some grace.

    If the interviewer isn't willing to cut you some slack, pay attention to that vibe! I mean, is a workplace that can't roll with real-world challenges graciously really where you want to be?

    3. Account for the floating head syndrome

    Videoconferencing is the best we’ve got, but it’s not perfect. There is so much about in-person interaction that we didn’t appreciate until we lost it! We’re now trading in floating heads. We’ve lost our access to body language which helped us read the room or sense how we were being received by our conversation partner.
     

    In the absence of body language, you’ve got only your voice, so check in with the interviewer.

     
    In a pre-pandemic world, the savvy among us might read subtle cues from the interviewer indicating we’ve gone off-topic, or we’re going into too much detail. But in the absence of body language, you’ve got only your voice.
     
    So check in—not constantly, but periodically. Ask the interviewer “Am I answering the question you asked?” or “How’s this level of detail? I can provide more or less if that would be helpful.” 
     
    The interviewer will appreciate your checking in. It demonstrates an emotional intelligence many of your competitors may not show.

    4. Keep that energy soaring

    We all know Zoom-fatigue is real. Energy tends to be lower on video, so find ways to express enthusiasm that the interviewer can’t help but experience.

    Focus on being fully present.

    This isn’t about singing and dancing (though some solid choreography would certainly make you memorable!) Focus instead on being fully present. Close all of your tabs or windows besides the videoconference. The temptation to multi-task or be distracted by an email is dangerous. This will help you stay focused on the conversation at hand.
     
    Be prepared to share stories or examples about projects you were really excited about being a part of. Oh, and find moments to just smile! Let your interviewer know, visually, you’re just happy to be there. Your enthusiasm will shine through.

    5. Ask questions of the moment 

    It’s good practice in any climate to ask thoughtful questions in an interview. Hiring leaders respond well to curiosity. Especially the kind that shows you did some prep work.
     
    In this particular climate, be sure you ask a question or two that is relevant to the experience we're all having. You might ask how they’ve shifted their strategy or service delivery or what they’ve learned about their customers during Covid.
     
    This line of questioning shows not only a spirit of curiosity, but that you’re thinking about the need to redirect, be agile, and consider the context when engaging with their products or customers.

    6. Put your resilience on display

    The great buzzword of 2020 will surely carry into 2021. You may have skills, experience, and connections, but every company wants to know: Are you resilient?
     
    Buzzy though it may be, companies want, now more than ever, to recruit people who know how to deal with setbacks, handle rejection, learn from failure, and keep on truckin'!

    Every company wants to know: Are you resilient?

    So as you move through your conversation, find spots to highlight moments of failure that taught you something new; challenges you overcame; or difficult feedback you used to improve yourself. You can even talk about how you transitioned to working while homeschooling, nursing, and doing whatever else the pandemic has demanded of you.
     
    These are the rules of the road when it comes to virtual interviewing. And of course, it goes without saying that what mattered in traditional interviewing—being on time, being professional, doing your research, sending a thank you note—all still applies.
     
    Now go get ‘em, tiger!
     

    Source: quickanddirtytips.com