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Mortgage Misconceptions

MoneyTipsHomebuyers, especially first-time homebuyers, may have heard or read a number of things about the mortgage process that are not quite true. Things that they believe are facts turn out to be either old information that has changed or something that was never true in the first place. Here are a couple of the misconceptions that many homebuyers still have about mortgages: Mortgages require a 20 percent down payment. At one time, this was true – most lenders did want to see twenty percent of the purchase price put down upfront. However, while this is still ideal, it's no longer true. Those who can't make a twenty percent down payment have a number of loan options, some of which require no down payment at all. However, most of the time borrowers will have to pay for private mortgage insurance if their down payment is fairly small. Being pre-approved and pre-qualified are the same thing. This is not true. Pre-qualifying simply means that a borrower has spoken with a lender and is ready to apply for a mortgage. To sellers, being pre-qualified means very little. Being pre-approved, however, means that the lender has been given all documents needed and has submitted the borrower's information to an underwriter. The loan still has to be approved officially by the underwriter, but borrowers have a letter that states they have been pre-approved for a specific amount. It puts them in a strong position to make an offer. These are just two of the misconceptions that many borrowers have. Check out our article debunking another six mortgage myths. Originally Posted at: https://www.moneytips.com/mortgage-misconceptions/517Debunking The Top 6 Mortgage MythsDown Payment Options Open Homeownership To Many RentersTop 5 Myths about Mortgages

Nathan's, Curtis hot dogs recalled for possible metal contamination

A large recall of hot dogs has been issued by John Morrell and Co. due to complaints of metal contamination.

Approximately 210,606 pounds of ready-to-eat hot dog products sold under the Nathan's and Curtis brands are included in the recall, according to the United States Department of Agriculture news release.

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Three complaints have been received about metal pieces found in the hot dog products, according to the USDA.

The recalled items include:

  • 14-ounce packages of “Nathan’s Skinless 8 Beef Franks,” with a use by date of Aug. 19, 2017.
  • 16-ounce packages of “Curtis Beef Master Beef Franks,” with a use by date of June 15, 2017.

The recalled items have an establishment number “EST. 296” on the side of the package. 

The products involved in the recall were shipped to retail locations nationwide, according to the USDA.

Consumers with questions about the recall can call 1-877-933-4625. 

Cause Of Death: Low Credit Score

MoneyTipsCan poor creditworthiness and excessive debt lead to your death? It certainly can if you owe money to the mob. However, it does not require a visit from Vito the Enforcer for credit concerns to affect your health. A paper recently published by the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta shows a connection between financial difficulties and an increased risk of death. By comparing credit histories with mortality outcomes over a four-year period of data from the Federal Reserve's Consumer Credit Panel, researchers found that delinquent debt and poor credit correlates to higher risk of death. Conversely, an increase of 100 points in an individual's credit score decreases mortality risk by 4 percentage points. Multiple studies have shown connections between financial stress and poor health, and it makes sense that the connection could extend to an increased risk of death. Financial insecurity may produce other aggravating factors, such as reduced access to proper health care, poorer diet, and even substance abuse. The study takes the broader view in conclusion, asserting, "Taken as a whole, our results imply that financial policies are health policies: the effect of individual finances on mortality is non-trivial." Public policy may well help, but if you are under enough financial stress that your health is beginning to suffer, you do not have time to wait on government assistance. How can you improve both your finances and your health? Start with an honest assessment and a desire to change the situation. You can check your credit score and read your credit report for free within minutes using Credit Manager by MoneyTips. If excessive debt is the primary reason for your poor creditworthiness, it's time to reassess your budget (and if you don't already have one, it's time to make one). Whether your debt comes from chronic overspending or a large debt such as student loans, a budget is the place to begin your journey to health, both physical and financial. With your budget characterized, you must find ways to reduce expenses and increase income to gather surplus funds to pay down debt. For larger debts, try talking to your lender to see if you can negotiate a payment plan. If you want to reduce your interest payments and lower your debt, try the free Debt Optimizer by MoneyTips. You may be able to consolidate debt by taking advantage of a balance transfer card. Balance transfer cards often have introductory interest-free periods (typically 12-18 months) that allow you to devote extra funds to paying off debt instead of accumulating interest. Debt Optimizer by MoneyTips can help you to consolidate your debt for free. Once your debt is consolidated, it will be easier to keep track of it and you will be less likely to miss payments. With a combination of card shopping and luck, you may be able to take the advice of April Lewis-Parks, Director of Education and Public Relations at Consolidated Credit, and switch to a balance transfer card with a higher collective credit limit. This should immediately increase your credit score by dropping your credit utilization, the ratio of the credit you are using to your total available credit. A lower value suggests lower risk to lenders. Explains Lewis-Parks, "So, if we have a credit card that has a $5000 limit to it, and the consumer has $4000 on it, that's a really high utilization ratio of 80%. That is no bueno. We want it to be more like 30%. So, if they take that debt and they transfer it to another card that has a higher credit limit, say a $10,000 credit limit, so then that $4000 is much lower percentage-wise and that alone will raise their credit score." Professional financial help may be in order if you can't seem to get a handle on your finances. Millennial Money Expert Stefanie O'Connell suggests looking at a credit counselor as "a personal trainer for your finances," adding, "The benefit of working with a credit counselor is that that person can help you be proactive in the process of consolidating your debt or negotiating with your lender." Don't be afraid to seek help on credit counseling, even if your health has not been affected to date. Be proactive and you can learn how to apply sound financial habits before debt collectors – or Vito – pay you a visit. If you want to settle outstanding debts for less than what you owe, try our debt settlement tool. Photo ©iStockphoto.com/Sadeugra Originally Posted at: https://www.moneytips.com/cause-of-death-low-credit-scoreHow Late Payments Affect Your Credit ScoreSurge In Missed Payments On New Credit CardsState Of Credit 2016 (Infographic)

Reached Your Savings Goals? Here’s What to Do Next

You created an emergency fund, and built it up so it covers three months of living expenses. You paid off your high-interest debt. You funnel 15% of your income to retirement. That’s good work. But, um — now what? Push yourself beyond basic savings goals by taking on these steps. Check your budget If you used a...

What to Do When You’re Upside-Down on a Car Loan

When you owe more than your vehicle is worth, you are upside-down, or underwater, on your car loan. This doesn’t immediately spell trouble, but it can result in less financial flexibility and security. You face two major risks: If you get into an accident, your insurance will generally cover the damage only up to the value...

Mortgage Rates Friday, May 19: Still Near 6-Month Lows

Mortgage rates for 30-year and 15-year fixed home loans, as well as 5/1 ARM rates, moved a notch higher today, according to a NerdWallet survey of mortgage interest rates published by national lenders Friday morning. Fixed mortgages rates are wobbling near six-month lows, according to the NerdWallet Mortgage Rate Index. Wall Street has a short memory. Worries...

Prom Savings

MoneyTipsProm night is a special night for American teens and an expensive one for their parents. According to the latest (2015) VISA survey, the average prom spending was projected to be $919. However, it's still possible to keep costs down while keeping the night special. Here are a few methods to help you be fabulous on a budget. Rent your Outfit – Dresses and formal men's wear can be rented in many places for far less than the cost to purchase. If there are no suitable places near where you live, online rental is an option. For example, renttherunway.com has designer dresses available for reasonable rental rates, typically under $100. Unless you have reason to expect to wear a prom dress on multiple occasions, rental makes the most sense. If you must buy, shop well in advance to avoid prom markup. Consider shopping at consignment and second-hand stores for bargains. Some areas have programs to supply prom dresses to those who simply can't afford them; check with your local support organizations. Tone Down the "Promposal" – The recent trend of making an elaborate show of asking someone to prom, known as the "promposal," is getting quite expensive. According to the VISA survey, $324 of the average $919 spending was expected to go toward the promposal. Keep the proposal simple, and save the extravagance for prom night. Pushing your bank account into overdraft or getting into high-interest rate debt that you struggle to pay off can harm your credit. You can check your credit score and read your credit report for free within minutes using Credit Manager by MoneyTips. Avoid Expensive Makeovers – You want to look your best for the prom, but that doesn't necessarily require an expensive trip to a salon. There are plenty of videos online to provide assistance and inspiration to do your own hair and makeup. Take advantage of any talented individuals in your family for assistance. Transportation – You really don't need a limo for prom, do you? If you do, try to share and split the cost with other couples. Otherwise, consider simpler transportation such as the family car. If all else fails, have one set of parents drop you off and pick you up. Ask them to put on a chauffeur's uniform if it makes you feel better (and if you manage to talk your parents into that, tip well). Use Existing Jewelry – Avoid the temptation to splurge on special jewelry for prom night. Use jewelry that you already have or borrow some from within your family if the perfect piece is available. Obviously, you need to ask permission first, and must take great care with any borrowed jewelry. Take Your Own Photos – Skip the costly professional prom photos and take your own. Use your phone at the prom, and ask your parents to take pre-prom photos. Skip the Corsage/Boutonniere – If you and your date are equally frugal, consider skipping the floral accoutrements. They are traditional and usually expected, but they can be quite expensive and really don't enhance the evening at all. Keep Dinner Reasonable – If you and your date are going out for a pre-prom dinner, choose a location that is nice but not outrageously expensive. Do your homework and check out the prices before you go to avoid nasty sticker shocks. However, don't save money by skimping on the tip. Your servers depend on the tip for income, and they deserve to be treated well. Consider these money saving tips, and you may have a few extra bucks for other memorable events (and there will be others). Finally, for all you kids out there intending to make prom a special night — be safe and be careful. Don't make prom a memorable night for the wrong reasons. If you need more credit to cover any of your prom costs, check out MoneyTips' list of credit card offers. Photo ©iStockphoto.com/kali9 Originally Posted at: https://www.moneytips.com/prom-savingsPoor Spend More on Proms than Rich5 Tips for Growing Your Teen's Financial IQCosts of Being a Dad

Home Improvement Spending On The Rise

MoneyTipsThere may be economic uncertainty and turmoil these days, but apparently, we Americans will not let that get in the way of our home improvement projects. According to the recently released HomeAdvisor 2017 True Cost Report, homeowners are spending approximately 60% more on home improvement projects as compared to a year ago. HomeAdvisor cites an increase in home equity over the past five years as a confidence booster that provides America's homeowners with more money and the comfort level to spend – regardless of overall economic concerns. Study respondents spent an average of $5,157 on home projects between February 2016 and February 2017. Almost two-thirds (63%) intend to spend an equal or greater amount between February 2017 and February 2018. Homeowners are also willing to take on larger projects, with such ambitious jobs as building an addition (average cost of $40,825), building a garage (average cost of $25,008), and remodeling a basement (average costs of $18,807) listed among the top ten improvement tasks by HomeAdvisor. How will these projects be funded? The vast majority of homeowners plan to do so with cash. The study found that just less than 1 in 5 home improvement projects require alternate financing. A surprising 45% of homeowners who will finance plan to use credit cards – a risky proposition given the relatively high interest rates and increased chances of racking up interest charges. If you can afford to put a small project on your card and pay it off at the end of the month to maximize rewards points, that's reasonable – otherwise, there are plenty of options that may be preferable for your situation. Jordan Goodman, a Personal Finance Expert and Author known as "America's Money Answers Man", suggests that while mortgages should target the maximum needed to buy a home, "if you need to do home improvements later, do that through a home equity line of credit (HELOC)." A HELOC is well suited for home improvement projects because of its relative flexibility and generally lower interest rate. HELOCs were the choice of 22% of study participants planning to finance their projects. For more information, read the entire HomeAdvisor's True Cost Report. If your mortgage terms are poor compared to currently available rates, or you planned to refinance anyway, you can simply fold the increased borrowing for home improvement plans into a standard mortgage refinancing. MoneyTips is happy to help you get free refinance quotes from top lenders. Otherwise, a HELOC may be preferable. As Goodman puts it, "You don't want to be paying for thirty years on home improvements." Home equity loans offer another path for home improvement financing. They are similar to HELOCs in that you are borrowing against the equity in your home, but a home equity loan has a fixed borrowing amount and payment schedule just as your mortgage does. You may prefer a home equity loan for simplicity in budgeting. Traditional bank loans and construction loans are reasonable alternative options for larger projects that will cost more than the equity you have in your home. You will have to evaluate your loan offers to see how the interest rates and terms compare with the refinancing path, since HELOCs and home equity loans would not apply here. In some cases, a contractor will arrange financing for you if they already have a standing relationship with a finance company – but these are usually done for convenience and not for economics. Inserting a middleman into any process rarely produces lower cost. Your ability to borrow is based on your credit score. You can check your credit score and read your credit report for free within minutes using Credit Manager by MoneyTips. If you plan to join the home improvement trend, we wish you well regardless of how you plan to finance your project. Verify that your project is well planned and outlined before you begin, make sure that you find the financing that works best for your situation, and avoid changing your mind halfway through the project. If you are interested in refinancing your home loan, MoneyTips is happy to help you get free refinance quotes from top lenders. Photo ©iStockphoto.com/denphumi Originally Posted at: https://www.moneytips.com/home-improvement-spending-on-the-rise/681Mortgages for Buying and Improving a HomeHome Improvement Doing Better Than HousingWhen Does It Pay to Remodel Your House?
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