Monthly Archives: September 2012

Checking Accounts For Couples

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It was not very long ago that when a couple were married their finances became merged and everything was as one. Today, many people are opting to keep things separated for a variety of valid reasons. Because of the way society has unfolded, our finances have become extremely complicated with a large amount of debts, child support, and loans that they may have gotten prior to marriage. It really depends on the situation of the couple as to rather a separate checking account will work or not.

The first thing that needs to be done is that both of you will need to sit at the table and discuss all options that are available to you, be honest and open about your financial wellbeing and make an informed and mutual decision. Traditionally, couples open a checking account of the joint type, this is best way of merging finances together on both sides. However, it is important that both parties be responsible for the comings and goings into that joint account. This will require consistent communication, saving receipts, and updating the register constantly, this will provide the other person with knowledge of what has been happening. This may not be the best option for those who have troubles with keeping receipts or keeping track of checks written.

Another option that may be available to couples is having two separate accounts and one joint. There are a variety of excellent aspects of this scenario, you make an agreement about the amount that each person should place into the joint account each week, bi-weekly, or monthly and this should go towards household expenses. This allows each side to keep their own account, have their own financial freedom, and yet still be contributing to the rest of the household needs. You will both need to sit down and discuss how much should be placed into the joint account, to do this first begin by creating a budget that specifically outlines all of the household expenses on a monthly basis. If each of you earn pretty close to the same amount of money each month, you both should put half in each month.

This should include a savings account for saving for any type of goals you have such as children education, vacations, or other types of financial goals. With the separate account, these should be used to pay off all pre-existing debts you may have from prior to the marriage.

Home Equity Loan Pitfalls

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The home equity loan came of age in 1996 when changes in the tax law eliminated deductions for the interest on most consumer purchases. Interest paid on home equity loans, however, remained exempt, up to $100,000 for taxpayers filing jointly.

The two main types of home equity loans are fixed-rate loans and variable-rate lines of credit (called HELOCs). The terms for both range from five to 15 years. With fixed-rate loans, the monthly principal and interest stay the same. Adjustable-rate loans usually start at a lower interest rate-meaning a lower monthly payment-but can climb to a predetermined cap based on market conditions.

Most banks and mortgage companies are happy to make home equity loans because the loan is secured by a tangible asset that can be seized and sold to satisfy the debt if necessary, which minimizes their risk. But the ease with which homeowners can cash out their equity-sometimes up to 125% of the value of the home-brings with it certain pitfalls.


Home equity loans are appealing to people who have fallen into a downward spiral of spending and borrowing. The cycle of getting a loan to pay off debt and free up credit that is then use to make additional purchases is called “reloading.”

Reloading leads to accelerated borrowing that can result in homeowners getting upside down on their home loans, e.g. owing more than the home is worth. The loan is no longer fully secured by collateral and if the borrower’s income goes down or the home’s market value plummets, the owner could face foreclosure or bankruptcy.

People who consolidate their credit card bills or car loans into a home equity loan are transferring unsecured debt to secured debt and putting their home in jeopardy.

Home Equity Scams

Another pitfall is predatory scammers. The Federal Trade Commission warns about, “Unscrupulous lenders (who) target older or low-income homeowners and those with credit problems. These lenders may offer loans based on the equity in your home, not on your ability to repay.”

Avoid lenders who tell you to falsify information on the application, e.g. saying your income is higher than it is to qualify for the loan.

Avoid lenders who don’t provide the required loan disclosures or who tell you not to read them; or those who won’t give you copies of the documents they want you to sign.

Avoid lenders who promise one set of terms when you apply, and give you another set of terms to sign; or who ask you to sign blank forms, saying they’ll fill in the blanks later.

Don’t let anyone pressure you into using your home as collateral to borrow money you may not be able to repay. If you can’t make the payments, you could lose your home.

On the Plus Side

A home equity loan does have some pluses. Compared to other forms of borrowing, it is easier to get, comes at a lower interest rate, and has tax advantages that other loans don’t. It can help borrowers clear up outstanding bills while leaving them with a single monthly payment at a lower rate of interest. True, this doesn’t reduce debt, but it can restructure it in beneficial ways.

Many websites like offer helpful information and a free quote. It doesn’t hurt to see how much you might be qualified to borrow; just make sure you weigh the pros and cons before signing anything.

Home Equity Loan Exposed

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The home equity loan is a loan in which you, the owner of your home, use your home equity (the value of your interest in your property or your home’s fair market value and the unpaid balance of the outstanding home mortgage) as a collateral.

A home equity loan is sometimes useful to help finance or refinance major home repairs, medical bills or even college education, and for this reason a home equity loan, creating a secured loan against the borrower’s house, reduces the actual home equity, and eventually the home value.

Home equity loan is provided by several major banks, and usually these providers give better rates than unsecured loans by second tier providers. Your home equity loan must be evaluated carefully and the provider chosen only once you have done your due diligence. provides a list of some of the best websites where you can find and evaluate a convenient home equity loan; however, we encourage you to visit as many websites as possible yourself, as the home equity loan websites featured, although they represent the best resources for home equity loan, are just the tip of the iceberg in the very broad sea of home equity loan. Gather a lot of information and study your home equity loan very carefully prior to chose any provider; this may seem obvious, but too many homeowners jump too quickly to the first home equity loan offer. Besides, it should not be forgotten that everything is negotiable: so do negotiate your home equity loan as even a small fraction of a percentage point may make a huge difference

Finally, it should be kept in mind that a home equity loan is not the only possible alternative. Other forms of financing may be available to you, and most of these do not require you to secure the loan against your home equity. The downside could be that the interest you are going to pay will be higher for an unsecured loan. So if you need financing you may want to consider the so-called payday loans, or if you are trying to finance or refinance your college education you may want to think to the so-called student consolidation loan; these may be valid alternatives to a home equity loan. Besides, if you do not own a home (you are renting for example) you are not eligible for a home equity loan and need to explore alternative loan solutions.

In conclusion, if you were to visit just one website or resource for your home equity loan, we would suggest “reference sites” such as; however, do not stop there. A site like may be of help too: in fact, the more information the better, but as a general advise stick with well-known names and home equity loan lenders and providers as they can offer you more options and guarantees. In addition, we believe it is also important to speak to some consultant in person, so do not forget to check local branches of national lender where you could meet face to face and talk about a suitable home equity loan.

Charity car donation steps to take

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You can donate your car to a wide range of charity organizations, but picking the most representative ones requires getting some previous information. So before actually donating your car, make sure you get some relevant info about the charity organization, its purposes, projects and usage of your car. You might find out that there are various organizations that have different goals and you will probably find, among them, a great cause and possibility to donate your car to something meaningful. Even more, make sure that your car is going to go to an eligible organization that is serious in its acts and has valid previous work. In order to be sure, speaking directly with the charity agents is the safest way to go. In fact, the IRS requests that the donors are aware of the type of the fundraiser society they choose. When talking to the charity representatives, the most important information regards the exact usage of your car, if it will be sold, fixed up, offered to the less fortunate people and so on. Besides

Charitable donations and car evaluations

Another important thing before donating your car is evaluating it in a correct way. There are various guides on the market that offer elaborate instructions, in order to establish the valid value of your car, depending on its general condition, accessories, age and mileage. After making sure that you selected the correct charitable organization and the optimum evaluation, you should be aware of the fact that you are required to complete and attach an IRS form to your tax return, in case you are claiming a car donation that values 500 $ or above. Donating a used car to charity is a great solution if you are planning to purchase a new car or if you are simply willing to contribute to a charitable activity. Knowing and following some steps before the actual car donation avoids further worries, as it makes the process a safe and fulfilling one.

Are there any hidden facts about used car donation that I should be aware of?

First of all, not every used car donation programs are functioning legally. Before you make your used car donation, you should check with the IRS if the charity is a non-profit organization listed under paragraph 501 (c) (3) in the IRS Publication 78.

Secondly, check out if the used car donation program is run in-house by the charity itself or by a third party. If a third party is operating the used car donation program, you should ask what percent of the profit made by selling the donated cars actually goes to the charity. Often, third-party operated used car donation programs produce small amounts of money for the charity. Smaller charities do not afford the costs of transportation and storage for the donated cars, not to mention the costs involved in charity auctions. This is the main reason why charities accept to have their used car donation programs run buy third-party brokers.

Car Leasing Basics

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Over the past few years, the popularity of car leasing has soared. When you compare leasing with buying a car and suffering the humongous monthly installment fees, leasing provides a better and more viable financial option.

For auto leasing, you need to know the tricks of the trade so that you will not end up paying more than when you directly buy the car. There are car dealers and manufacturers who can give you your money’s worth if you want to go for this option.

You will get a better deal out of the car dealers if you appear knowledgeable about the auto leasing industry, so read up.

‘Auto Leasing Defined’

You would “lease” a car by paying for the costs by which the vehicle depreciates in value. You can calculate depreciation costs by subtracting the car’s value by the time that the lease ends, from its original value. There are cars which depreciate more than other brands. The rule of thumb is, the smaller the amount that your car depreciates, the lesser the costs to lease.

Once you decide to go for leasing over buying a vehicle, you may choose the one with the least depreciation value.

If you decide to go for this option, you need to learn about “lease term”. This is the number of months that the vehicle is leased. Typically, leases last for 24, 36 or 48 months, depending on your contract.

‘Leasing or buying: Which option is kinder to your pocket?’

-Automobile leasing requires you to have a good credit, so if your credit score is low, it is better to go for buying.

You may even be disapproved for a lease if your credit history is not good. Or, at the very least, you will be required to pay higher monthly dues.

-Leasing companies would need to profit from you.

They will invest capital on buying the car, then lease that car out. Just like with any loan, their money shoudl earn interest so you better consider this as well when considering the advantages of buying.

-Make sure that you get the best deal out of car leasing by comparing the monthly costs with the interest rates of your local car dealer.

By making a note and comparing both prices, you would more or less have an idea of which option to go for.

‘Car Leasing Tips’

– When deciding on the model or make of the car that you will lease, choose the Japanese and European cars. These are basically the brands which have lower depreciation rates, as compared to the American vehicles.

You will find out that most luxury cars have the lowest depreciation values. Research, visit a local car dealer in your area or ask friends who are currently leasing cars. They should have some great tips to share with you on how to get the best deal out of leasing cars.

-Leasing a car may put a big dent in yur budget when it comes to car maintenance. You need to make sure that you are a “car-friendly” user when you opt to go for auto leasing.

-Definitely go for leasing if you are the type who wants to own the latest cars in the market. In the long run, leasing will be a better option for you as compared to buying the latest car model then trading in or selling the old one that you have.

-As much as possible, choose a shorter lease period. This is so that you can optimize the warranty of the vehicle.

-Finally, avoid the long-term leases, because the car’s value will decrease by the time the lease ends, and this is mostly when engine problems begin.

Home Equity Loan Comparison – Access Your Home’s Equity Through A Second Mortgage Or Equity Loan

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You can access your home equity without the cost of refinancing with two financing options. A second mortgage will give you a lump sum check with a fixed or adjustable rate. A home equity line lets you tap into your equity when you want to. Both options allow you to write off interest on your taxes and avoid high financing costs.

Benefits Of A Second Mortgage

A second mortgage allows you to borrow up to 90% of your home’s value. The lender, which doesn’t have to be your primary mortgage lender, writes you one check. You can choose to pay off credit cards or make a major purchase.

Fees are none to minimal with a second mortgage. Rates are usually fixed and last 15 or more years. A 15 year loan lets you pay off the debt quicker, saving you cash on extended interest payments.

Benefits Of A Home Equity Line

A home equity line is like a secured credit card, only you are borrowing against your home’s equity. You can choose to borrow a lump sum or only as needed. Most lenders issue checks and a credit card.

Rates are adjustable and are based on when you borrow the money. You can choose to never use the equity, but just know it is there in case of an emergency.

One option for new homebuyers is to put down a large down payment, securing low rates, and then apply for a home equity line. It’s like a safety net, ensuring that you can still access your cash if needed.

Picking The Right Financing

Each type of home equity loan has its own advantages. A second mortgage offers secure fixed rates with small payments over a longer period. It makes sense for large projects, such as remodeling or paying off credit cards. A home equity line offers flexibility, better suited for smaller purchases.

With both types of programs, you still want to investigate lenders before applying. Be sure to look at financing companies other than your current mortgage lender. You want to find the lowest rates with the best terms by asking for quotes on both rates and fees. By investing a little bit of time, you will save yourself hundreds.

Home Equity Loan 101

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Times are getting rough these days. Everyday, the saying the money does not grow on trees seems to increase in value. Countless of individuals have grown bankrupt despite the progress economists have been observing. As life continues its course, needs increase as the money required to fill such needs seem to deplete. In such cases when people are faced with financial worries, one common option is borrowing money. There are several types of loans that people can take when they have financial problems, and one of the most common types is the home equity loan.

As its name suggests, a home equity loan is a type of loan that involves a house’s equity as the collateral being used by the borrower. The home equity loan is also sometimes called a second mortgage or an equity loan. Families who in the middle of their mortgage suddenly get a certain financial need find it necessary to borrow money once more. A common use of the money obtained from the loan is for paying medical bills, making major home repairs, and paying for college tuitions.

Some financial institutions call home equity loans as home equity line of credit. This is because the amount of money obtained from the loan is derived from the difference between a home’s present market value and the equity of the homeowner. The home equity loan is sometimes considered as a second chance for borrowers who are having a hard time paying for their mortgage. The danger when the home equity loan is not paid off is that the house may be sold to fill in the balance or remaining debt. The interest rates of home equity loans are usually lower and more flexible than those of credit cards and regular second mortgages.

There are two common types of home equity loans:

The closed-end home equity loan refers to the type of home equity loan wherein a lump sum is given to the borrower when the loan is approved, however, no further loans would be allowed. With this type of home equity loan, a borrower can get up to the entire value of the home assessed, minus any liens. The amortization of closed-end home equity loans can last up to fifteen years with a balloon payment for three, five, or seven years. When the balance for the balloon is matures, the borrower must either pay the remaining balance off, or refinance.

The open home equity loan involves a revolving credit wherein borrowing can happen several times depending on the choice of the borrower. It is also possible to get the entire value of the home for the loan with an open-home equity loan. The amortization may last up to thirty years at a variable interest rate that is rather competitive. One can pay as low as the only the due interest for the month with this type of home equity loan.

Both closed and open home equity loans are referred to as second mortgages because like regular mortgages, such loans are secured against the property value involved. Usually, the terms for home equity loans are shorter in duration compared to traditional mortgages. The good thing about home equity loans is that their interests may be deducted to borrowers’ personal income taxes when the right arrangements have been made.

The need for money is a reality of life. The times when money runs out are indeed devastating. Fortunately there are many options to obtain money and one them is getting a home equity loan.

Car Financing: Which is Better: Buying or Leasing?

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Purchasing a new car is always an exciting time in life; however, it can also be confusing and time confusing, especially with so many different types of financing options available. Should you purchase your next vehicle outright or would it be better to lease it? Which option will be better financially for you? Read on for more tips to help you make the right decision for you and your finances the next time you’re in the market for a new car.

It’s important to understand that there is not a clear cut answer to this question. It really depends on your needs and situation. When considering whether it would be better to buy or lease, it is important to understand all of the terms regarding the lease. Generally, the lease will be for a specified period of time and you will probably be limited to the amount of mileage that can be placed on the vehicle. In the event that you go over that specified mileage at the end of your lease period, you will be liable for paying the overage. Lease agreements also pay what is known as a finance charge at the end of the lease agreement. So, it is important to understand that while your lease payments may be less than payments would be if you bought the vehicle outright, you will still be responsible for a sum of money at the end.

In addition, it should be pointed out that you do not build up any equity in a vehicle when you lease it, only when your purchase it. On the other hand, when you purchase a vehicle and drive it for a long period of time, while you do build up equity, that amount declines the longer you own the vehicle. With leasing, you have the advantage of only having to pay for what you use while with the buying option you must pay for everything, regardless of whether you use it or not.

Leasing gives you the advantage of obtaining lower payments and the option of having a new vehicle every two or three years. This can be important to many people because it provides you with the benefit of having the latest safety features on your vehicle and the comfort of knowing you won’t have any warranty problems. If you don’t care about whether you build-up equity in the vehicle and feel you won’t go over the mileage limits then leasing may be the right option for you.

On the other hand, buying the vehicle outright; will mean higher monthly payments but the overall cost is about the same as leasing a vehicle, especially when all factors are taken into consideration, such as mileage overage payments and finance charges. Purchasing also gives you the benefit of actually owning the vehicle and if you opt to pay off the loan and keep the car, it can mean you won’t have a vehicle payment. You must also take into consideration; however, that when the warranty expires you will be responsible for the cost of repairs. This can be offset when you take into consideration that you don’t have to worry about going over mileage limits as with leasing. Additionally, there are no surprise costs at the end as there are with lease options. In the end you really need to give thought to your own situation, needs and desires.

Home Equity Loan – Fixed Rate or Lump Sum Loan

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Home equity loan is one type of loan where the homeowner uses whatever equity he has been able to build up in his home as collateral for a loan. Obviously, therefore, this type of loan is secured. However, it is not secured by the home per se but by the owner’s home equity.

Home Equity

Your home equity is that part of your home’s value (in dollars) which is actually yours. To compute your home equity, do the following steps. First of all, find out what your home’s current value is. Get the help of an appraiser if you want to get your home’s accurate value.

Next, find out what you still owe for your home. To compute this, simply add up your downpayment and payments that have applied to the principal balance (do not include interest rate payments) then subtract the sum from the original amount of the mortgage. The result would be the amount of money you owe your home.

Now, subtract the amount of money that you owe on your home from your home’s current value. The result would be your home equity which is, simply speaking, the combination of your downpayment, payments toward the principal and value from property appreciation.

Fixed-Rate or Lump-Sum Home Equity Loan

This is the home equity loan where a bank will loan you an amount that is equal to a certain percentage (the market standard is from 70 to 80%) of your home equity. The actual percentage allocation depends on various factors including the borrower’s credit record, payment history, etc. In some cases, a home equity loan may be made for the whole home equity, but such cases are rare. In cases where this happens, the borrower usually has a pristine credit record.

If you are going to get a home equity loan, you will have to apply for the loan, get your home appraised then wait for loan approval. Once approved, your money will be released in one, lump sum.

This type of home equity loan usually has a predetermined loan period. The loan period can vary from a few years to a few decades. The interest rate is also fixed for the whole duration of the loan.

There are also some home equity loans which have a balloon payment structure. In this type of home equity loan, the fixed interest rate is appealingly low. However, the loan period is usually less than 10 years. When the loan period arrives, the borrower will have to make a payment in full.

The Advantages of Lump-Sum, Fixed-Rate Home Equity Loan

The fixed rate ensures the security of your loan. You’ll know exactly what your interest rate is every year for the whole of your loan period. You can therefore make financial projections with a high degree of certainty.

Moreover, getting your home equity loan in one big sum is great if you have debts that you wish to pay off. This way, you can deal with all of your debts in one fell swoop therefore immediately making reductions in your overall interest rate payments.

Home Equity Loan : Loansmagician

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Real estate prices across the country have skyrocketed in the last five or six years. Low interest rates, combined with a lack of trust in the stock market has led to a tremendous inflow of capital into real estate. To put that in perspective, take into account the median household income, which is a little over 44,000,dollar and compare that with the national median home price of 216,000 dollar, a very high multiple. Of course, in many metropolitan areas ( ) where a large fraction of the nation’s population lives, the rise has been even more spectacular. San Francisco has seen the median home price rise from 395,000 dollar in 2000 to 713,000 dollar in early 2005

For those who did not get in at the right time, the situation is lamentable, many others, on the other hand, find themselves sitting on potential gold mines in many cases they have witnessed the doubling, trebling or even quadrupling of their investments in a matter of a few years. Walking and sleeping on land that has appreciated under your eyes is a satisfying experience, and some people are quite happy to count their chickens without wanting to cash-in on their gains. Others, for whatever reasons want to enjoy their newfound wealth. Home equity loans offer an opportunity to do just that.

The fact that property prices have risen means that more Americans than ever before are eligible for home equity loans. Let me illustrate that by an example say you bought a home for 300,000 dollar five years ago, putting down 20% (60,000 dollar) at that time. If you have a typical thirty-year fixed mortgage then you have not made a significant dent in the principal (in this case the loan principal is 240,000 dollar) in the first five years. Now suppose, quite realistically in many cases, that the house value has appreciated from 300,000 dollar five years ago to 500,000 dollar today. In this case your equity in the house would have jumped from 60,000 dollar (your down payment) to 260,000 dollar (down payment plus unrealized capital gains). You would be eligible to take a loan against that increased equity. Most institutions are willing to extend home equity credit for upwards of 50% of total equity in the home.

Now that we have established that a rising real estate market has produced many more potential candidates for home equity lines of credit, let us show why this is a financially savvy way of consolidating loans or of securing financing. Whether the reasons are personal, such as Ferrari you have been drooling over, or for your home business, home equity loans are usually the best first option for obtaining liquidity. First, home equity loans take advantage of tax breaks that the federal and state governments give all homeowners all interest payments made to service the loan are tax exempt.

This advantage alone warrants serious consideration a family in the 30% federal income tax bracket will stand to save a substantial amount on a typical home equity loan. The implications of the tax advantage are such that many people with no need for additional credit take out home equity loans and invest elsewhere just so they can take advantage of Uncle Sam’s generous handout. Second, home mortgages are handled a little differently from other consumer loans because of two reasons. First, the loan is “secured” by a tangible asset (i.e. the house, comprising of the value of the land and the material with which the house is constructed) and second, there is a huge industry that deals exclusively with home mortgages and home loans, resulting in a fiercely competitive environment. To the consumer, this results in significantly lower interest rates on home loans.

So, let us recap the win-win situation for a home equity line of credit. Rising real estate prices have made more people eligible for bigger loans, in many cases significantly bigger loans than ever before. Relatively low interest rates, thanks to the Fed and a competitive home mortgage industry has kept the cost of borrowing low. And finally federal and state tax breaks on home loans further reduce the cost of borrowing.

If you are thinking of borrowing money and you are a homeowner, be sure to consider a home equity line of credit before pursuing alternative methods of financing.

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