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Your Driving Record: Insurance Companies’ Crystal Ball

You look at your driving record and see speeding tickets, an accident, maybe a DUI, and chalk everything up to dumb mistakes or bad luck behind the wheel.

But insurance companies see clues about how you manage your life — and even about when you’ll die.

“Motor vehicle records give insight into how folks behave,” says Karen Phelan, senior director of life Insurance for LexisNexis Risk Solutions, a data analytics company in Atlanta.

Driving records have long played a big role when comparing car insurance rates. But predictive analytics is offering new insight using driving history.

» MORE: How much car insurance rates rise after an accident or violation

Using driving records to price life insurance

LexisNexis uses motor vehicle records and other publicly available data in its software tool for evaluating life insurance applicants. The tool’s algorithm produces a score based on the data for each applicant. Life insurance companies can use the scores to help price policies.

When combined with information about medications that applicants take — which can be purchased from prescription-data providers — the tool’s results can eliminate the need for life insurance medical exams in many cases, Phelan says. That means you can apply for life insurance and get coverage quickly, without giving a blood or urine sample.

“When you’re assessing an individual for life insurance in their 20s, 30s, 40s or even 50s, they might not have a lot of relevant medical history,” Phelan says.

Driving records can fill in the blanks before lifestyle habits have had a chance to impact health.

» MORE: How to clear your driving record to save on car insurance

Moving violations and correlations

LexisNexis and RGA Reinsurance Co. found that driving records can help predict someone’s risk of dying at any point from any cause, not just from car accidents. The researchers examined 7.4 million motor vehicle records from 2006 to 2010 and cross-referenced those with death records from 2007 to 2010. About 73,000 of the drivers died within the study period.

“We see all violations having relevance,” Phelan says. “Sometimes it’s not the violations themselves, but [having] a high number of them.”

Some of the findings within the study period:

  • People with serious violations, such as a DUI, reckless driving or speeding 30 mph or more above the limit, had a 71% higher death rate than people of the same age with clean driving records or only minor violations.
  • For women, one serious violation doubled the death rate. For men, one serious violation increased the death rate by 61%.
  • People with two to five violations of any kind had a 24% higher death rate.
  • Six or more violations of any kind on a driving record boosted the death rate by 79%.
  • The trends were consistent for all ages.

A similar study published in 2016 by global reinsurer Hannover Re found that DUIs were a stronger predictor of higher death rates (from any cause) than any other traffic violation. Next up were driver license suspensions or revocations, followed by reckless or negligent driving, speeding and car accidents. The extra death risk linked to speeding tickets depended on how much drivers exceeded the speed limits.

Life insurers have expanded their use of driving records in the last five years, and some insurers now use them to evaluate applicants regardless of age or the coverage amount, Phelan says. Ten years ago, insurers typically checked motor vehicle records only for people buying large policies.

» MORE: When to file a car insurance claim, and when not to

Your driving record and home insurance

Allstate, meanwhile, is using driving records to help price home insurance. The company began doing so in 2011 in Oklahoma with the introduction of a policy called House & Home, which included changes in coverage as well as pricing. The product is available in 37 states.

Home insurance prices are based mostly on a home’s reconstruction cost and location. Allstate started looking at driving records to learn about homeowners’ behavior, says Laurie Pellouchoud, vice president of product operations in Allstate’s home insurance unit.

Behavior is important: Poor home maintenance or careless security can lead to damage and home insurance claims. Insurers don’t have to explain why certain behavior leads to claims. They only have to show a correlation between the variables and claims.

TransUnion provides insurers with court record data to help price home insurance. A 2016 study by the credit bureau recommended that insurers consider both traffic and criminal violations for all household members because of the strong tie between violations and home insurance claims.

Mark McElroy, executive vice president of TransUnion’s insurance business unit, says that among traffic violations, serious things like speeding 20 mph over the limit and DUIs are the most powerful predictors that someone will make a home insurance claim.

“But there is predictive value in minor violations like parking infractions as well,” he says.

Most home insurers don’t use driving or court records for pricing yet, says George Hosfield, senior director of home insurance for LexisNexis Risk Solutions. Getting the data costs money. For many home insurers, the predictions that can come from driving records aren’t powerful enough to justify the cost, he says.

McElroy says home insurers are seeking more sophisticated data and pricing techniques to get a competitive edge. “We believe this will continue and even accelerate over the years to come.”

Barbara Marquand is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: bmarquand@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @barbaramarquand.

This article was written by NerdWallet and was originally published by USA Today.

Should You Refinance Your Home in 2017?

Deciding whether or not to refinance your mortgage is complicated in the best of times. But with the unknown looming in 2017, the question is even messier than usual.

Many experts and economists are predicting rising interest rates this year. Kiplinger, for instance, predicts that the average 30-year fixed-rate mortgage will rise to 4.6% this year. That’s still a fairly low rate compared with other points in history. But rising rates may have homeowners like you wondering if they should refinance sooner rather than later.

If you’re currently paying higher-than-average interest on your mortgage, you may want to consider refinancing this year before the interest rates rise. Of course, you’ll also need to factor in your credit since that’ll determine the rate you’re offered when you go to re-fi (more on this in a minute). You can view two of your credit scores for free on Credit.com. They’re updated every two weeks, and checking your scores won’t harm them in any way.

Here are some questions to ask to determine whether or not to refinance your mortgage this year:

1. What Interest Rate Will I Qualify For?

It’s important to figure out what interest rate you’re likely to qualify for. One way to do this is to check out a mortgage rate calculator, which will take some basic information and give you a likely APR for your mortgage.

The only way to find out for sure how much a mortgage will cost you, though, is to shop around. Check out different online mortgage lenders, as well as traditional bricks-and-mortar options. Remember, if you apply to refinance your mortgage with several lenders within a few days’ time, it’ll only count as one hard inquiry on your credit report.

What should you do if your credit score is on the low side? Consider taking some time to boost your credit score, especially if you can do it relatively quickly by paying down credit card debt. However, you’ll need to weigh the benefit of having a better credit score when you refinance against the possibility that interest rates will balloon before you can refinance. (Have bad credit? Here’s what to know if you’re thinking about refinancing anyway.)

2. How Much Will Refinancing Cost?

As with buying a home, there are usually closing costs involved when you refinance. Some lenders offer no closing cost refinances, which can save you a bundle up front. However, loans without closing costs may charge a higher interest rate. And even so-called “no closing cost” refinances may have some fees due at closing.

Generally, though, closing costs on a refinance will be similar to closing costs when buying a home. You’ll need to pay credit fees, appraisal fees, escrow and title fees, and other fees imposed by your lender. Overall, you can estimate closing costs to be about 1.5% of the total loan principal.

If you’ve got enough equity in your home, you may be able to roll closing costs into the overall principal amount. But you’ll still wind up paying these fees one way or another.

3. When Will I Break Even?

Calculating when you’ll break even is the essential piece to deciding whether or not you’ll refinance. Since you have to either pay up front or roll refinancing costs into your loan, you need to know how long it’ll take to get that money back.

To calculate your break-even point, you need to first find out how much money per month the refinance will save you. Then, calculate how much it will cost. Divide the total cost by the savings per month, and you’ll see how many months it will take to break even.

For example, say you expect to pay $3,000 to refinance your $200,000 mortgage. You’ll save $175 per month when you refinance. So your break-even point is about 17 months. Once you’ve paid on the refinanced mortgage for 18 months, you’ll be saving money overall.

4. How Long Do I Plan to Stay in My Home?

Generally, refinancing your home is a winning proposition any time you stay in your home longer than your break-even period. In the above example, you’ll come out on top if you own your home for at least 18 months after you refinance.

Of course, the longer you own the home after your break-even month, the more money you’ll save because of your refinance.

If you’re not reasonably sure you’ll own your home through your break-even month, refinancing won’t be worth your while. But if you think you’ll stay in your home, refinancing could save you a lot of money over the long haul.

 

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This article originally appeared on Credit.com.

5 Credit Cards That Help You Earn Hotel Elite Status

If you’re a frequent traveler, then having elite status at hotels can be pretty valuable. It will allow you to check into your room early or check out late. Status can get you upgraded to a bigger room with a nicer view. It can even award you with free breakfast or a complimentary drink in the evening. Having elite status with hotels can dramatically enhance your overall travel experience.

The only problem is that earning elite status with most hotel chains can be difficult. Many require you to stay for weeks before you will earn low level status. Unless you travel a lot for business, this can be pretty unattainable.

This is where your credit card can help. Some credit cards that earn hotel points will automatically award you elite status, just for being a cardholder. Other cards allow you to earn status when you spend a certain amount each year with your card. Here are five cards that will help you earn hotel elite status.

1. Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve

When you sign up for the Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve card you will automatically receive Hilton HHonors Gold status. This will give you things like a 25% bonus on the base HHonors points you can earn, the fifth night free when you book five or more nights, and late checkout. You will then have the chance to earn diamond status when you spend $40,000 or more per year with your card.

The Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve card also will award you with two free weekend nights after you sign up and spend $2,500 within the first four months. You will also receive 10x HHonors points when you use your card at Hilton hotels, 5x points on airlines and car rentals, and 3x points on everything else. Plus, each year that you spend $10,000 on your card and pay the $95 annual fee, you will receive a free weekend night as a thank you.

2. Hyatt Credit Card

When you sign up for the Hyatt credit card you will automatically receive platinum status with Hyatt hotels. This will give you 15% bonus points, free premium Wi-Fi, and room upgrades when available.

After you sign up and spend $2,000 within the first three months you will receive a bonus of two free nights. Plus, if you add an authorized user to your account and they make a purchase in the same three-month period, you will receive 5,000 bonus Hyatt points. You will then earn 3x points when you use your card at Hyatt hotels, 2x points at restaurants and on airfare and car rentals booked with the airline or car rental agency, and 1x points on all other purchases. Each year on your anniversary, you will receive one free night that can be used at any category 1-4 Hyatt hotel, after you pay the $75 annual fee.

3. IHG Rewards Club Select Credit Card

As an IHG Rewards Club Select cardholder you will automatically receive IHG platinum elite status. This will allow you to check into your room early, earn 50% more points and receive an upgraded room.

When you sign up for this card, you will receive 60,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 within the first three months. You will earn an additional 5,000 points when you add an authorized user and they make a purchase in that three-month period. When you use your card at IHG hotels you will earn 5x points. Spending done with the card at restaurants, gas stations, and grocery stores will earn 2x points, and all other purchases will earn 1x points. Each anniversary you will receive one free night. There is no annual fee the first year, but it will be $49 each subsequent year.

4. Marriott Rewards Premier Card

You will receive 15 elite nights each year that you are a Marriott Rewards Premier cardholder. This is enough to receive silver status, giving you an additional 20% in points when using your card. You will also receive one additional elite night for every $3,000 spent on your card. If you reach 50 nights, you will earn gold elite status.

When you sign up for the Marriott Rewards Premier card you will receive 80,000 Marriott points after spending $3,000 within the first three months. You will earn an additional 7,500 points when you add an authorized user and they make a purchase in the same three-month period. When you use your card at Marriott and Starwood properties you will earn 5x points. Booking airfare directly with the airlines or car rentals booked with the rental agency will earn 2x points. Any other purchase will receive 1x points. Each year on your card anniversary, you will receive a free night at any category 1-5 hotel. The annual fee on this card is $85.

5. The Platinum Card from American Express

The Platinum card is easily the most expensive card on the list with an annual fee of $450. However, it also offers you the most bang for your buck. As a cardholder you will not only receive Hilton HHonors gold status, but you will also earn Starwood Preferred Guest Gold status. With Starwood Gold, you will receive a 50% bonus on the points that you earn. You will also receive an enhanced room and a welcome gift, which could include bonus points, complimentary internet access or a free drink.

When you sign up for the Platinum Card from American Express you will receive 40,000 Membership Reward points after you spend $3,000 in the first three months. You can earn 5x points when you use your card to book flights directly through the airlines or through American Express Travel. Any other purchase you make with the card will earn 1x points. This card also comes with several other valuable benefits. You will receive an annual $200 airline fee credit to use on incidental fees. You will also have complimentary access to over 1,000 airport lounges worldwide. If you would like Global Entry or TSA Pre✓, you will receive up to a $100 statement credit to cover the expense.

Remember, before applying for any credit card, it’s a good idea to check your credit scores so you’ll have a better idea of whether you’ll qualify. Many rewards cards require excellent credit. You can check your two free credit scores, updated every 14 days, at Credit.com.

Note: It’s important to remember that interest rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products frequently change. As a result, rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products cited in these articles may have changed since the date of publication. Please be sure to verify current rates, fees and terms with credit card issuers, banks or other financial institutions directly.

 

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This article originally appeared on Credit.com.

How to Handle Debt & Maintain Your Mental Health

It’s no secret that most people feel lousy when they’re in financial trouble, and one of the biggest financial stressors seems to be debt. When you’re in debt, simple tasks like going to your mailbox, where you anticipate finding an avalanche of bills or overdue notices, can bring on stress. If you relate to this feeling, you aren’t alone. According to a Time article, there are a plethora of Americans in an excessive amount of debt. In fact, the Federal Reserve reported at the end of 2015 that, on average, an American between the ages of 18 and 64 has $4,717 in credit card debt.

So aside from being a burden on our wallets, what does this debt do to us?

“Financial issues are a common source of stress,” Dr. Jay Winner, director of the Stress Reduction Program for Sansum Clinic in Santa Barbara, California, said. “Additionally, when someone has extensive debt, there is a tendency to work excessive hours. This deviation from a healthy work-life balance leaves people less resilient to other stressors in their lives.”

How Debt Stress Impacts You

Chronic stress is linked to a wide variety of mental health ailments. Dr. Robert Williams, a psychiatrist in Phoenix, explained that long-term stress physically affects the brain through the well-known “fight or flight” mechanism, which occurs during times of perceived danger, such as those experienced when a threat to financial well-being occurs. Williams explained that when the deep limbic system, or primitive brain, is less active, there is generally a positive, more hopeful state of mind. When it is heated up, or overactive from too much stimulation in the form of perceived threats, negativity can take over.

In addition to an overactive limbic system, Williams said some people are born with a thin cerebral cortex. Emotional stability is a manifestation of the cerebral cortex, and studies suggest a relationship between depression and a thinning cerebral cortex. Dr. Williams said the combination of an overactive limbic system and a thinning cerebral cortex could lead to severe depression. Long-term stress from things like too much debt can cause anxiety, restlessness, lack of motivation or focus, feelings of being overwhelmed, irritability or anger, sadness or depression, even thoughts of suicide.

Coping With Debt Stress

If you are stressed because of a financial situation, here are some suggestions from Dr. Winner that may help you cope.

  • Be mindful. Focus on doing one thing at a time with your full attention.
  • Learn a relaxation exercise. Learning to relax for a specified period of time will help you learn to relax through the day and reduce stress.
  • Do not resist the stress. There are not much in the way of health risks from short-term stress; so if you’re too stressed now, don’t stress about being stressed. Just learn some strategies so the stress does not become excessive in the long term.
  • Learn patience. This is important because the emotion most strongly associated with heart disease is anger and hostility.
  • Decrease the frustration of failure. Instead of thinking you are worthless when things go wrong, realize progress comes from learning from our mistakes. Ask, “What can I learn from this?”
  • Keep things in perspective. One way to keep things in perspective is to think of your health, family, friends etc.
  • Take care of yourself. Eat nutritiously and mindfully, enjoying the taste and aroma of your food. Get regular exercise.
  • Have some technology-free time. If you can spend some of that time out in nature, that’s all the better.
  • Talk with someone. If you’re overwhelmed by stress and basic techniques are not helping, discuss this with a physician or mental health professional.

Paying Off Your Debts

Getting out of debt is one sure-fire way to help reduce your stress levels. Of course this is easier said than done, so consider taking small steps toward this larger goal. To start, gather all the information about your debts, including who you owe what amounts to and any interest rates or fees that are applicable to each of the debts. From there, consider what options you have. Can you consolidate your debts? Move the debt to a balance transfer credit card and eliminate interest charges for a while? You may even decide to seek the advice of a professional debt counselor to help you find the right path.

Whatever you do, take a deep breath and keep moving forward. Not only will paying off these debts help your stress, but it will help improve your credit scores. (You can see how paying down your debts are affecting your credit by checking out two of your free credit scores, updated every 14 days, on Credit.com.)

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This article originally appeared on Credit.com.

5 Tips To Balance Saving For Retirement With Other Savings

MoneyTips

It can be difficult to save the proper amount for retirement. Some pressing need always seems to take the place of your intended retirement contribution. Unexpected home or auto repairs, medical bills, education costs, that new outfit or gas grill... it is way too easy to find another use for your money. The solution to this problem is simple: make your retirement savings a priority. Executing the solution is the tough part. Here are five tips to help you keep your collective savings needs in perspective and follow through with your savings plans. 1. Take Full Advantage of Employer Programs – Direct as much of your paycheck as you can reasonably afford into any employee retirement program. This is especially important when an employer match is present — not to take advantage of an employer match is essentially to turn down free money. 2. Make Saving a Family Tradition – Too many seniors willingly take on the debts of their children and grandchildren. Assumed student loans, help with housing, and other financial burdens take away from your retirement. If you take money from your retirement for these purposes, you have more limited time and options to recover financially than your children do. By establishing good savings habits with your children, you make it more likely that they will be able to stand on their own two feet financially. We aren't suggesting that you should not help — we are saying that you must keep assistance in perspective, and lower the chances of your children needing assistance at all by teaching them sound financial principles. 3. Manage Debt Wisely – Spending on credit is fine, as long as it does not get out of control. As you start to carry a balance, your overall debt load is increased, and with credit cards, the debt generally carries a high interest rate. Try to limit credit card purchases to amounts that you can pay off at the end of the month. As you budget each month, allocate money toward your retirement savings, then an emergency fund, and then address your bills. Pay at least the minimum on all bills and then focus on the highest interest rate debt that you have. Look over the lower interest rate bills and compare the return on your investments with the interest charges, and decide whether your money is better used paying down bills or contributing to retirement funds. If you cannot even pay the minimum on all bills without dipping into retirement and emergency funds, reassess your spending. 4. Consider Housing Needs – For many people, a home is a reasonable, appreciable investment — but ask those who purchased immediately before the housing crash of 2007 to 2008 how they feel. Plan your down payment savings over the course of time, and don't funnel all of your savings toward a future home at the expense of retirement or emergency funds. It's important to load up retirement funds in the early years to take the greatest advantage of the time value of money. If you have a home and are looking at upgrading or downsizing, consider your options with your overall debt in mind. Again, do not shortcut retirement savings to meet a housing goal. Consider buying a smaller, less expensive home or save for a longer time to make the switch. 5. Assess Retirement Needs – You don't know if you're on track if you don't have a target. Assess your retirement needs now and every so often to see if your goals have changed. Use the free MoneyTips Retirement Planner A crude rule of thumb is that you need 70% of your pre-retirement annual salary to live on in retirement, but that depends on your retirement goals, health, and a series of uncontrollable factors. Set an income target that gives you the proper level of comfort. Next, assess your Social Security/pension income, expected income from other investments and assets, then see if your savings is on pace to fill in the remaining gap in income for your given life expectancy. Reassess every few years as your situation changes. Don't wait until retirement is imminent to think about your post-employment financial goals and needs. Start now and establish the proper savings balance, and you are more likely to live comfortably in retirement without excessive sacrifices during your later working years. The free MoneyTips Retirement Planner can help you calculate when you can retire without jeopardizing your lifestyle. Photo ©iStockphoto.com/c-George

Originally Posted at: http://www.moneytips.com/5-tips-to-balance-saving-for-retirement-with-other-savings

3 Things Retirees Wish They Had Done To Prepare For Retirement

How Much Income Will You Need For Retirement?

Many Older Workers Lack Retirement Funds

5 Tips To Balance Saving For Retirement With Other Savings

MoneyTips

It can be difficult to save the proper amount for retirement. Some pressing need always seems to take the place of your intended retirement contribution. Unexpected home or auto repairs, medical bills, education costs, that new outfit or gas grill... it is way too easy to find another use for your money. The solution to this problem is simple: make your retirement savings a priority. Executing the solution is the tough part. Here are five tips to help you keep your collective savings needs in perspective and follow through with your savings plans. 1. Take Full Advantage of Employer Programs – Direct as much of your paycheck as you can reasonably afford into any employee retirement program. This is especially important when an employer match is present — not to take advantage of an employ...

How Your Netflix Obsession Could Get You Scammed

A new scam targeting Netflix users is being reported by a cyber-security company that says the scammers are trying to get credit card and other personal information.

FireEye Labs first reported the phishing scam earlier this week, saying customers should be wary of any emails asking them to update their Netflix member information. Netflix had not posted any guidance for customers on its blogs nor released an official statement at the time of this writing, but a representative sent us this: “Members who want to learn more about how to keep their personal information safe against phishing scams and other malicious activity can go to netflix.com/security or contact Customer Service directly.”

According to the FireEye Labs report, a link in the email being sent to Netflix members looks like an official Netflix web page but is not legitimate. The page asks users for:

  • The name on their credit card
  • Their credit card number
  • Card expiration date
  • 3-digit security code; and
  • Social Security number

According to FireEye, the email looks very realistic, and the phony site mimics the Netflix homepage, as you can see in the screengrab FireEye published in its report:

According to FireEye, the phishing sites it referenced in its report are no longer active, but new scams like this pop up often. It’s important for consumers to know these things exist and be very careful about sharing sensitive personal or financial information.

How to Protect Yourself From Phishing & Other Scams

There are some standard best practices when it comes to protecting yourself from scams on the internet. In a nutshell, it’s always a good idea to be suspicious, especially if a company is reaching out to you through email or text message. And until you’ve confirmed that the email, text or even phone call are legitimate, it’s wise to never give out personal data like your credit card or debit card numbers, date of birth, address or, worst of all, your Social Security number.

If you think you’ve been a victim of identity theft, you can monitor your credit scores for free by using Credit.com’s free credit report snapshot, or by paying for a complete credit report monitoring service, which includes your full credit report and daily alerts to monitor your credit.

 

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This article originally appeared on Credit.com.

Can I Invest in Trump's Companies?

Q. Is there a way to capitalize on all of Donald Trump’s businesses? I expect he will make policies more favorable for his companies. I want in! — I want in!

A. President-elect Trump is expected to have a huge impact on the economy.

Before we discuss his businesses, let’s look at the big picture.

In general, investors should expect volatility in the markets.

“While he has Republican majorities in the Senate and House to support him, there is enough disagreement even within Republican ranks that sweeping policy change may not be easy,” Gerry Papetti, a certified financial planner and certified public accountant with U.S. Financial Services in Fairfield, New Jersey, said.

In addition to immigration and trade reform, we should expect some form of legislation centered on corporate and individual income tax cuts coupled with increases in infrastructure and defense spending, Papetti said.

Deficits and debt may also take center stage, which has implications for inflation, interest rates and bonds, he said. Based upon current economic data, the U.S economy is fundamentally sound, according to Papetti.

“Unemployment is below 5%, real estate prices have recovered for the most part and have posted year-over-year gains,” he said. “Energy costs remain low and interest rates, even with the recent Federal Reserve action to increase short-term rates, are still low for borrowers.”

He said a pro-growth agenda, combined with lower regulation, should be supportive of the economy and the stock market longer term.

As far as trying to capitalize on Trump’s businesses, most of his direct investments are in private companies.

Without the release of his tax returns or a new disclosure, it is difficult to know what public companies he may have direct investments in, Papetti said.

Trump also claimed that he sold all of his publicly traded stock investments in June 2016, news reports said, but this is difficult to verify because Trump’s last financial disclosure came in May 2016 — a month before he claims he sold all of his stocks.

Papetti said Trump’s May disclosure listed individual stock holdings totaling $10 million, which is a relatively small percent of his overall wealth. Trump also reported in this disclosure that he had more than $80 million in hedge fund investments, and Trump’s transition team did not respond to inquiries about whether he also sold these holdings in June.

Despite all of that, Papetti said there are opportunities to invest in certain sectors of the stock market that could benefit from Trump’s expected policies. Here are six of those sectors:

  1. Energy: In addition to oil, MLPs (Master Limited Partnerships), nuclear energy and related uranium investments and mining stocks.
  2. Transportation: These stocks benefit from lower oil prices as well as overall growth in the U.S. economy, Papetti said.
  3. Treasury Inflation Protected Securities (TIPS): These would benefit from what Trump policies could do to fuel inflation.
  4. Financials: Although there’s been a strong rally since the election, decreases in regulation could lead to increased profits and growth, particularly in the regional bank sector, Papetti said.
  5. Small-Cap Stocks: These would have less exposure to a possible protectionist agenda leading to more restrictive trade, Papetti said.
  6. High-Yield Bonds: These will perform better in a rising interest rate environment.

So while you can’t necessarily buy into Trump’s hotels, steaks, water or whatever, you can position your portfolio to benefit from the policies the market is expecting from the new president.

This article originally appeared on Credit.com.

Mortgage Rates Jan. 13: Bump Up; Foreclosures Hit 10-Year Low

Thirty- and 15-year fixed mortgage rates rose noticeably today, while 5/1 ARM rates rose by a hair, according to a NerdWallet survey of mortgage rates published by national lenders on Thursday.

Mortgage Rates Today, Friday, Jan. 13 (Change from 1/12) 30-year fixed: 4.30% APR (+0.04) 15-year fixed: 3.70% APR (+0.03) 5/1 ARM: 3.84% APR (+0.01) Nationwide foreclosure activity hits 10-year low

According to a report released Thursday by ATTOM Data Solutions, a company that runs a national property database, foreclosures hit a 10-year low in 2016. Foreclosure filings, which included default notices, scheduled auctions and bank repossessions, were made on 933,045 properties in 2016, which was a 14% decrease from the previous year. Foreclosure filings haven’t been lower since 2006, when they were made on 717,522 properties.

» MORE: Calculate how much house you can afford

Legacy foreclosures on mortgages that originated between 2004 and 2008 made up 55% of all loans actively in foreclosure by the end of 2016, according to the report. The District of Columbia had the highest share of legacy foreclosures, with 76%. Hawaii had the second-highest at 66%, followed by New Jersey at 64%, Nevada at 63%, and Delaware and Massachusetts each at 61%.

“The national foreclosure rate stayed within a historically normal range for the third consecutive year in 2016, even as banks continued to clear out legacy foreclosures from the last housing bubble, particularly in the final quarter of the year,” Daren Blomquist, senior vice president of ATTOM Data Solutions, said in the news release.

“Foreclosures completed in the fourth quarter had been in the foreclosure process 803 days on average, a substantial jump from the third quarter and indicating that banks pushed through significant numbers of legacy foreclosures during the quarter. Despite that push, we still show that more than half of all active foreclosures nationwide are on loans originated between 2004 and 2008, with a much higher share of legacy foreclosures in some markets.”

Twelve states and the District of Columbia saw an increase in overall foreclosure activity in 2016 compared to 2015, and 15 states plus D.C. saw a year-over-year increase in foreclosure starts in 2016.

Overall, foreclosure starts last year were down 16% compared to 2015, with a total of 478,857 properties that started the foreclosure process in 2016. This is a 78% drop from the peak of over 2.1 million foreclosure starts during the housing crisis in 2009, and is the lowest level since ATTOM began tracking foreclosure starts in 2006.

Homeowners looking to lower their mortgage rate can shop for refinance lenders here.

NerdWallet daily mortgage rates are an average of the published APR with the lowest points for each loan term offered by a sampling of major national lenders. Annual percentage rate quotes reflect an interest rate plus points, fees and other expenses, providing the most accurate view of the costs a borrower might pay.

Michael Burge is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: mburge@nerdwallet.com.

Should You Sell Your Trusty Old Car?

MoneyTips

According to a survey from AutoMD.com, 64 percent of American drivers are riding in cars with more than 100,000 miles on the clock. The reason so many odometers are rolling into triple digits is simple – saving money. According to 81 percent of the drivers surveyed, the ideal lifespan of a car is ten years or more — or until the car dies. While driving an older set of wheels spares you from a monthly car payment, it raises the conundrum of when to fix a mechanical problem and when you should decide to part ways with your faithful ride. As your car ages, you are naturally going to have to spend some money on maintenance. Beyond simple things such as oil changes, you will have tires, brakes and more, including flushing the cooling system every occasionally. But once a vehicle edges up beyond 70,000 miles, recommended maintenance can stretch to include replacing the timing belt and perhaps the water pump, too. That is a job that can run up to $1,000, but it is still less than the interest that you would have to pay on a new car loan, and far less than a new car itself. You can get a good gauge of typical maintenance costs by checking out the True Cost to Own Calculator at Edmunds.com, which estimates all expenses associated with the first five years of owning a car, broken down by make and model. Then you can budget an auto maintenance fund based on those figures. On average, maintenance and repairs account for four percent of total ownership costs, and budget experts recommend setting aside $75 to $100 a month as a starting point. You will not spend that money every month, so let it build up enough cash on hand to cover repair bills, instead of putting them on credit and adding to your debt. Another option is that, once you have paid off the car, direct the money you were sending to the finance company to a savings account to establish a kind of automotive emergency fund to cover more expensive repairs as the car ages. Once the odometer rolls past 100,000 miles and your car is getting as old as a premium bottle of Scotch, you are going to start to wonder if the money spent on a major repair is just being thrown away. Nobody wants to be in the position of spending thousands on replacing a transmission, only to be stranded when the head gasket blows a month later. Two rules of thumb can be applied. The first is that if the repair is less than half the value of the car, you are better off fixing it. Another benchmark is that if the repairs are expected to cost more than a year's worth of car payments, it is time to find a new set of wheels. For a detailed analysis that can take into account higher insurance payments for a new car and depreciation, plug your numbers into the Replace or Keep calculator. Other factors you want to consider are whether the car is still safe to drive, and just how reliable you need your transportation to be. If you can take the bus to work or carpool when your car is in the shop, getting it fixed is a minor inconvenience, but if you drive 150 miles a day for a sales job, having a car that needs constant repairs is a major problem. One more thing: Before shelling out big bucks for a major auto repair, check to see if the problem might be covered by a recall or by a manufacturer's technical service bulletin, which covers persistent problems with a specific model and will get you a free repair if the car still is under warranty. The best repairs are the ones that are free. This article was provided by our partners at moneytips.com. To Read More From MoneyTips: Save Thousands through the Slightly Used Car Market That Used Car You're Eyeing May Already Be Recalled 7 Keys to Buying a Used Car Photo ©iStockphoto.com/londoneye

Originally Posted at: http://www.moneytips.com/should-you-sell-your-trusty-old-car

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