Saturday, July 30, 2016

Election update: Americans want action on housing and credit

(BPT) - Decisions made by the next President and Congress could change the way Americans buy and sell homes for generations to come. Rising prices are making it more difficult for working families and young adults to become homeowners. Government control over the vast majority of mortgages through Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae unnecessarily exposes taxpayers to risk and continue to stifle the innovation of new lending products that responsible borrowers need and want.
More business as usual?
Depending on who is elected this year’s presidential election could either deliver a mandate for Washington to act on far-reaching reforms integral to our system of housing finance or bring more business as usual.
Here are the priorities Americans want the next President and Congress to address, according to a new research conducted for loanDepot, the nation’s second largest nonbank consumer lender:
* Make homeownership more affordable for middle- and lower-income families (37 percent).
* Keep interest rates low, especially during the first 100 days of the new presidency (34 percent).
* Make more credit available to small businesses (11 percent).
Few see the election improving their pocketbooks
Most Americans expect their personal financial situation to either stay the same or get worse when new leaders take over the White House and Congress. Only 6 percent think that they will be better off as a result of the election.
Each vote counts
One out of every five Americans said the candidates’ housing and finance policies will influence their vote. Another 40 percent have not yet made up their minds. That is because only 9 percent think the candidates have done a good job articulating their positions on the economic issues that affect peoples’ daily lives.
Perception doesn’t match reality
Some 77 percent think it is just as hard or even harder to get a loan today than during the Great Recession eight years ago. Young adults may be more discouraged than most; they worry about not making enough money and  nearly half (46 percent) fear the election outcome will make it even harder to get a loan.
In fact, while guidelines have tightened since 2008, applications for purchase mortgages were more likely to be denied in 2008 than in 2014, the most recent year for which Federal Reserve data is available. Denial rates for home purchase loan applications hit 18 percent in 2008, while denials in 2014 topped out at 13 percent. Denial rates for home refinance applications in 2008 were 38 percent and dropped to 31 percent in 2014.
Find out if you qualify for a home loan
Getting into the home of your dreams may be easier than you think, and qualifying for a purchase or refinance loan today can be done from the comfort of your home. Visit today. Moreover, for more information about loanDepot’s 2016 Presidential Election Survey, watch the video on YouTube.

Summer travel: 3 common credit card myths busted

(BPT) - As temperatures rise, so do the number of Americans planning to get away. In fact, three-fourths of consumers plan to pack their bags this summer and head out on vacation, according to recent surveys.
If you are like most, you plan to fund at least a portion of your summer travel on a credit card. According to Experian, credits cards are used more often than cash or debit cards across all types of vacation purchases.
“When used responsibly, a credit card can be a great way to help keep your wallet secure, reduce fees and make the most out of rewards while traveling,” says Mikel Van Cleve, director of personal financial planning with USAA Bank. “However, there are some common myths about credit cards and travel that may keep some consumers from maximizing their card’s benefits.”
Van Cleve sets the record straight about three common travel-related credit card myths:
Myth No. 1: Don’t notify your credit card company
When it comes to whether you should tell your credit card company you’re embarking on a trip, some banks say yes, others say no. Van Cleve recommends always taking the extra precaution to let your bank know where you will be traveling if it’s for more than just a quick trip, especially if you’re traveling somewhere new or overseas.
Adding travel notifications can help minimize the chances of your account being blocked or flagged for unusual activity. It will also allow your bank to better monitor your account and notify you if there is any suspicious activity while you are away.
Van Cleve explains that several banks, such as USAA Bank, allow you to skip the phone call and alert them of your travel plans through their mobile app or online account.
Myth No. 2: Foreign transaction fees are unavoidable
Most credit cards charge a fee for foreign transactions when traveling abroad, but Van Cleve says that you do not have to settle for this added expense. Banks, like USAA, and some credit card companies have eliminated foreign transaction fees for some of their cardholders.
Van Cleve recommends checking with your card provider to see if your credit cards offer no foreign transaction fees. While it may seem like a small cost to pay, he notes that these fees — which range from 1-3 percent of your purchase — can quickly add-up during a week-long trip away.
Myth No. 3: Last minute travel changes will always cost you
Nervous that your trip may get canceled last minute? In addition to zero-liability protection in the event your card is lost or stolen, Van Cleve explains that booking travel with a credit card is a smart way to protect yourself from other unpredictable events.
Some credit cards offer trip insurance and will refund you for the cancellation. For example, USAA’s VISA Signature card offers cardholders trip cancellation and interruption insurance that will reimburse you up to $1,500 for purchases made on the card.
Before booking your trip, Van Cleve recommends familiarizing yourself with your credit card’s full range of perks. You might even be eligible for hotel upgrades, delayed baggage insurance, price protection, priority boarding, rental car discounts and more.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

5 tips to avoid hidden credit card fees

(BPT) - Many consumers are trying to be wiser with their credit cards. They avoid splurging on gifts during the holiday season. They don’t apply for a store credit card every time they’re offered 10 percent off their purchase. Yet hidden charges and overlooked terms and conditions might be covertly padding some consumer credit card balances.
Annual fees are rising. On average, Americans paid more than $17 for these fees last year, up 70 percent from $10 in 2010, according to Average maximum late fees also have risen to more than $35 over the same period.
“Many people are using credit responsibly — they’re working hard to keep balances down, but they may be undermining that effort over time by overlooking the fine print,” says Mikel Van Cleve, USAA personal finance advice director.
When evaluating cards for unnecessary fees, he says to first make sure it doesn’t charge a fee for something you do often.  
“For example, USAA Bank recently eliminated foreign transaction fees on all of our credit cards. If you frequently travel abroad, a card with no foreign transaction fees could provide significant savings,” Van Cleve says.
In addition to foreign transaction fees, Van Cleve also recommends keeping an eye on sneaky fee fine print:
Changes in APR. Many cards offer an attractive “introductory” interest rate but may hike the rate up significantly after the promotion expires. If you plan on keeping a balance on the card, make sure you look for a card with a low A PR after the introductory rate expires.
Penalties on late payments. Credit cards often have a penalty APR when you pay late. Check out the terms of your account to ensure you aren’t getting an interest rate hike due to a late payment.
Balance transfer fees. Credit cards usually come with a fee to move a balance from another card. Make sure you know the cost of transferring the balance. Often people move a balance to another card with a lower interest only to learn that they’ve lost the savings to a balance transfer fee.
Reward terms. Understand the terms of your credit card so you don't lose points or cash rewards because of a late payment or expiration date. It's also smart to know what incentives and special offers are available with your card. Focused on airline miles? See if booking hotel rooms and rental cars with your card earns you more miles, for instance.
Hidden costs for cash advances. Some cards have higher interest rates for cash advances than regular purchases. Before withdrawing cash, make sure you know the true cost of getting that extra cash.
This kind of fine print is commonplace, so it’s important to understand what fees are on your card and how your spending habits impact the additional fees you can pay. Choose your cards wisely, and you should be able to find a card that fits your needs without paying a fortune in fees.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Are you prepared if the IRS comes knocking?

(BPT) - There are few things in life more feared than a tax audit. Just the thought of being summoned to appear before the IRS and going through tax returns and old receipts is enough to throw most people into a panic.
A 2016 survey conducted by Harris Poll on behalf of Hyatt Legal Plans, “Improving Employee Wellness through Legal Benefits,” found that 46 percent of respondents that were audited in the last five years said that they needed legal support. Navigating through an IRS audit can be a stressful experience and, with recent research finding the hourly rate to use an attorney averaging $290 an hour, it can very expensive too, according to the National Law Journal and ALM Legal Intelligence, Survey of Law Firm Economics from 2013. Fortunately, many Americans may already have access to affordable help for IRS audits.
Here are some things that can make the process of an IRS audit easier:
* Good records
If you do end up being audited, you will likely have to produce receipts for the things you took as deductions, such as charitable donations or self-employment expenses, for example. As long as you’ve kept all important receipts over the years, you can feel safe knowing that you can show proof for any deductions. As a general rule, you should hold on to any receipts or important documents related to your taxes for up to seven years.
* Representation
Whether or not you used an accountant to prepare your taxes, you may want to bring along someone to represent you before the IRS. Many accountants will do it if they prepared your return, but if you’re going on your own, an attorney can step in and provide representation. Many attorneys specialize in tax matters and can provide guidance and expertise during an IRS audit.
* Have a legal plan
If the cost of using an attorney is intimidating, you can breathe easier if you are one of the many individuals with a prepaid legal plan through their employer that gives them access to attorneys for a low monthly fee. Legal plan members can contact attorneys for assistance with every step of an IRS audit, helping them to gather the necessary documents, discussing the audit process and appearing before the IRS if needed.
“Legal plan members can feel safe during tax time knowing that if the IRS ever comes calling, they have someone to turn to,” says Ingrid Tolentino, CEO of Hyatt Legal Plans. “For as little as $20 a month, group legal plans provided through an employer cover using an attorney for nearly any tax issue that comes up, from tax collection issues to tax audits.”
For more information about how legal plans work, visit

3 smart ways to use your tax refund

(BPT) - The average tax refund in 2015 was approximately $2,800 according to the IRS, and similar refunds are expected in 2016. For those getting a refund, there are many options to consider in deciding what to do with this unexpected income. The big question is what is the smartest option?
While you may want to splurge with your refund, careful management for the majority of the funds is a smart financial move. A tax refund or any unexpected income can be used to help reach your financial goals without impacting your current standard of living.
Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual) suggests three things to consider for this year's tax refund:
1. Pay down debt. Take a look at your current debt. Find out which have the highest interest rates and consider paying those down first to help prevent interest from continuing to add up. Another common strategy is to pay off your smallest debt first, then work your way up to the larger ones.
2. Build an emergency fund. Consider using at least a portion of your tax refund to give your emergency fund a boost. Make a goal to stash away three to six months' worth of expenses in cash in an emergency fund you can easily access if you need to, such as a savings account, and use your refund to work toward that goal.
3. Pay the future forward. The positive news is that Americans are living longer. The challenge is that their health may change with aging, and people are now faced with saving for a retirement period of up to 30 years. So if you haven't started to save or want to boost your retirement savings, consider putting your refund in a retirement savings plan. You may also consider taking a portion of your refund for higher education - whether for yourself, a child or grandchild. Or, if you haven't considered life insurance or disability income insurance yet or need to revisit your plans, now's a good time to talk to a financial professional.
A tax refund is money you've worked hard for, and it is OK to do something fun with it. Just make sure you consider committing at least a portion toward your short-term and long-term financial needs and goals.
To learn more about establishing healthy financial goals or to locate a financial professional near you, visit

3 ways your home value can help in retirement

3 ways to tap your biggest asset in retirement

(BPT) - Your retirement. Your golden years to spend doing the things you enjoy - hobbies, travel, more time with family, and so on. But can you afford to live your post-paycheck life the way you always hoped?
Research from the National Retirement Risk Index estimates that more than 50 percent of households lack enough retirement funds to maintain their pre-retirement standard of living — even if they work until age 65.
It’s a scary statistic, especially if you’re approaching retirement age and don’t feel financially prepared to leave the workforce. Fortunately, even if you are facing a retirement shortfall, you do have options to help supplement your savings. For senior homeowners, those options could be in the walls around you.
Financial planning experts and academics from The American College, Boston College, Columbia University, and MIT, agree that incorporating home equity into a retirement plan helps savings last longer. The question is: what’s the best way to access your home’s equity? Here are three popular options.
1. The home equity line of credit (HELOC)
A HELOC allows you to establish a line of credit based on a percentage of the value of your home. You can then access this credit during a predetermined amount of time called a “draw period,” usually 10 years. During the draw period, you can borrow up to the designated amount while making monthly interest payments, and, if you choose to pay back on the principal, you can draw out again, much like a credit card. After the draw period when the HELOC resets, you are responsible for repaying the principal and interest either immediately or over a set period of time depending on the terms of the loan. You should be aware that if your home value depreciates, or if your financial circumstances change, the lender has the right to freeze your credit or even cancel your loan.
2. Reverse mortgage
A reverse mortgage is a loan that senior homeowners age 62 or older can use to convert part of the equity in their home into a usable asset, without giving up title or ownership of the house. According to Professor Wade Pfau of The American College, “the reverse-mortgage option should be viewed as a method for responsible retirees to create liquidity from an otherwise illiquid asset.”
Reverse mortgages are attractive to seniors, in part, because they require no monthly payment and do not have to be paid off until the last borrower permanently leaves the home. You have the option of taking the loan proceeds as a lump sum, a fixed monthly or tenured payment, or as a line of credit. Last year, more than two-thirds of borrowers took a combination of regular payments and a line of credit.
Reverse mortgages also feature a non-recourse provision that protects you from ever owing the lender more than the value of your home, even if the house is “underwater” when you are ready to sell.
You are still responsible for paying your property taxes, homeowner’s insurance, and upkeep expenses or risk the loan being called due and payable.
3. Cash-out refinancing
Cash-out refinancing allows you to refinance an existing home loan — hopefully at a lower interest rate — and also refinance the home for a dollar value higher than the remaining principal. This loan allows you to keep the money above the principal as liquid cash that can be used to pay down other expenses or fund your retirement. Like your original forward mortgage, if you miss a monthly payment due to unanticipated expenses from a health care emergency or other life disruption, your loan could be called due and payable, and the lender could move to foreclose on your property. Retirees may also face challenges qualifying for a cash-out refinance because of underwriting standards that require a certain amount of monthly income.
Choosing the right plan for you
While all three plans have their appealing points, new consumer safeguards for reverse mortgages are fueling their popularity among seniors who want the benefit of no monthly payment, a loan that can’t be canceled or reset, and the option of a line of credit that increases over time.
If you’re interested in pursuing a reverse mortgage, the National Reverse Mortgage Lenders Association can help. Their Roadmap can guide you through the features and responsibilities of reverse mortgages and the process for obtaining one which includes meeting with a reverse mortgage counselor and a financial assessment.
Visit to learn more about how the solution to your retirement may have been under your roof all along.

Monday, November 2, 2015

A Future Soccer Player!


I know that this post has nothing to do with credit but I just couldn't resist having my Son Soccer training Video here, because I need peoples opinion; Hope you enjoy and give me your honest thoughts, Thank you in advance.

Oscar Medina