Do All Loans Undergo a Credit Check?

A credit check is a major obstacle that so many borrowers never manage to overcome. So many lenders have impossibly high standards for lending, and that’s one of the reasons why getting credit has never been more difficult. But do all lenders perform credit checks for their loans?

You might be surprised at the answer.

Why Do Lenders Have an Obsession with Credit Checks

It seems that every lender has an obsession with the credit score. This arbitrary number on the screen is influenced by a number of factors but is supposed to symbolize whether someone presents a lending risk. Low credit scores can indicate that someone has failed to pay back money in the past. But someone can also have a low credit score simply because they haven’t borrowed often enough. Lenders like to use credit checks because they require no effort on their part. They don’t need to investigate into an applicant’s history, which saves them a lot of time.

Do All Lenders Use Credit Checks?

Not all lenders use credit checks. You can find some online loans with no credit check. Some lenders have determined that credit checks aren’t an accurate reflection of someone’s ability to pay the money back. If someone entered bankruptcy eight or nine years ago, it could be the case that they’ve completely changed their behaviors. They aren’t the same person as before. These lenders realize people change and use alternate means to assess someone’s credit worthiness:

Salary – The more you make the more you can repay every month, in theory. It’s one of the main alternate factors used by lenders.

Stability – Lenders want to see that borrowers have a stable career. Someone who switches jobs constantly may find themselves without an income for a certain length of time, and that could impact their ability to pay.

Age – Age is a direct link to stability. The young are less likely to have a stable career and so are considered to present more of a risk, for example.

What’s the Catch with a No Credit Check Loan

No credit check loans work in exactly the same way as a conventional loan. You borrow the money for a specific period of time and then pay the money back. The difference is with a no credit check loan interest rates may be slightly higher or there may be other conditions attached. Some lenders may require you to put up collateral. Other lenders may want you to have a guarantor. But in general the interest rates will be higher and you may be able to borrow less.

Are No Credit Check Loans Better

It depends on what someone means when they refer to them as ‘better’. It’s true that if you have a poor credit score your options are always going to be limited. But no credit check loans fill a gap in the market. They provide funding to those who wouldn’t otherwise stand a chance of getting a loan. Loans like the payday loan can even provide borrowers with the money they need within 24 hours. However, they’re far more dangerous if you miss out on the repayments because the interest rates are so high.

What Would We Recommend

You can always use no credit check loans if you have a poor credit score and you need the money fast. However, you should always be looking to improve your credit score. Borrowers with better credit scores have access to lower interest rates, larger amounts, and lower repayments.

Final Thoughts 

No credit check loans do exist and they’re an excellent tool if you don’t have a good credit score at your disposal. But you should still be looking to improve your credit score at the same time.

 

on writing

This is more an attempt to write at least once in 2016, if nothing else. I said in one of my “recent” posts that much of my writing had gone on to other mediums, such as Facebook, but increasingly I’ve found that’s inauthentic writing. When I write for Facebook, or other social media, my writing is more of a random offloading of “I read this article 8 seconds ago and want to express an opinion” type of writing. The genuine type of writing I used to do here seems – to me as a stranger reading my own posts from 10-ish years ago – more authentic.

In a sense, that’s the unfortunate thing about the social media age. Facebook and Twitter are places to express thoughts in the moment. My personal journal is the place to be truly authentic with thoughts in the long span of a lifetime. Blogging was somewhere in the middle – thoughtful, considered, perhaps more personal although not deeply personal. I miss reading individual blogs. Most of the financial bloggers I interacted with in the post-financial-crisis days seem to have moved on, and I can’t blame them. I did. But there’s still something to reading an online journal from a single person. If you can identify people whose writing speaks to you, it’s enjoyable to get that direct, personal writing. It’s why we follow authors – blogs just feel a bit more intimate, I guess.

So I left Facebook, and other than “publish out” with Twitter I’m not really into social media. The enjoyment I got out of it for a few years has definitely faded, so I will look for other outlets. This old, old blog has been dead for a few years, but I still like to kick the tires once in a while. I hope you have a happy Thanksgiving – there’s much to be thankful for in this life!

identify your anti-heroes

I’ve been lucky during my career to have had several role models. The first senior auditor and manager I worked for were great boosters. Early in my career I was lucky to be dropped into a large assembly of focused, driven professionals who had been drawn to the challenge of working in the former Soviet Union. I was lucky to briefly work for a genuinely awe-inspiring visionary who reshaped my views on how to approach work (it’s not the work, it’s how you approach the work). But here in the third decade of my career, who do I look to? My anti-heroes.

I don’t hate my anti-heroes. But I do look to the people who’ve achieved a lot in their careers who I may not like, or understand. I try to see why they succeeded despite what I perceive. And it’s always enlightening. It’s easy to fall into the self-confirmation trap, where you assume what got you to point X will automatically get you to point Y. It took me a while after I left the corporate world and moved into consulting to understand that the tools and skills that made me a successful manager in the multinational corporation world were not the same tools and skills that would serve me as a mid-career consultant. Anti-heroes helped me understand that people I didn’t understand could succeed, and I could learn from them.

We all like to think we’ve figured it out. It’s unsettling to think you haven’t. It’s even more unsettling to think that not only haven’t you figured it out, you are actually wrong. “Everyone at my company who gets ahead had an Ivy degree” may sound like a good identification of success, but suddenly you may realize it has nothing to do with the Ivy League education and everything to do with efforts in networking. Or that so-and-so was simply watching for opportunities, and seized them by spending time having lunch with the right person.

As you move on in your career, it’s just always important to make a careful balance between developing skills, relationships and … well, for lack of a better word, vlast. It’s a Russian word – “power” – that has undertones of influence, control, intimidation, and so on. Some of my anti-heroes have been great at using their influence to succeed, and I’ve tried to learn from that. We’d all like to think we succeed solely on the merits, but we don’t.

So while I’ve genuinely enjoyed my true mentors and my peers who lifted me up, it’s my anti-heroes who inspire me to reexamine how I work and what I do today that motivate me now. Thanks to those unnamed, recent colleagues. You annoyed me and taught me – I owe you.

it may not ever be done

As I’ve obviously fallen silent on this site over the past few years, one thing has not changed. I have the need to express myself and I’ve just shifted that to other mediums. I’ve drifted to Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter, Goodreads…you name it, I’ve tried it. But one of the things I’ve always felt is that solely existing as a consumer of information rather than a creator of information is a failure.

I’ve learned a lot in the past couple of years. I used to speak passionately about the benefits of being a consultant – now, in two years, I’ve gone from consulting to an executive in an international healthcare company. It’s odd. The focus shifts, but in the end, I find it’s all really simple – do good work. Competence is all we can truly control. We can attempt to play politics and do all those other things, but in the end, you can’t control much except the breadth of your own knowledge.

I still pay attention to personal finance. It’s very easy, despite what every site says. For every $1 you make, save $.01 or more… that’s basically it. I know I famously said that spend less than you earn was incorrect. That was 10 years ago…times were different. I think in the new age, you have to focus on what you spend. It’s like eating – if you eat cake three meals a day, you can never in all eternity jog it off. If you spend money like that, you will never earn enough.

This post was simply my attempt at restarting writing. It may, in fact, never be done. But if I can write one post today, I may write another tomorrow. For those of you still reading, thanks. This blog was always for me to attempt to connect with you… and to be happy that you connected with me.

thoughts on, once again, losing 100 pounds

If you’ve come to brip blap via search, you probably landed on one of a few pages: How to make money without a job is still popular, and 25 quotes on ambition spikes up all the time. However, one post is far and away, the most popular: 101 thoughts on losing 100 pounds.

I wrote that post in 2007. I had actually started losing weight in 2000, but by 2006 had really hit my stride. I was eating well, exercising constantly (running and weight lifting), and was in tip top health. The post seemed to resonate simply because most of it was anecdotal – it’s almost like one of those “Chicken Soup” types of books, where you can jump in, read a few points, then move on. But it was quite popular – it generated hundreds of thousands of views and I was quite proud of it. It was an odd topic for a personal finance blog (which was what I was concentrating on at the time) but it got people interested.

So why am I writing about this?

I gained it all back (practically).

Last time I basically went from 300+ down to 185. So in all actuality it was more than 100 pounds. Some of it was fat being replaced by muscle, too, so there was a lot to lose. And once your metabolism is operating so well that you can slip up with a pizza once in a while and still lose weight (due to exercise, muscle mass, etc.) it becomes easy to make excuses.

  • I had kids – sleep went out the window.
  • I hurt my foot running; took an “extra” few months to “make sure” before running again.
  • I got bored and started eating worse.
  • I took in a lot of empty calories from snacks and alcohol.
  • I ate out for convenience all the time.
  • I had a long commute – a bagel and cream cheese on the ferry was easier than a light breakfast at home.
  • [Insert random excuse here]

And so on and so on, ad nauseum. The thing is, if you are in good shape, you can go a year or two eating worse, exercising less, before you really see results. I thought I had just permanently fixed my metabolism. Nope. The weight crept up. I thought “tomorrow” every evening. I quit running. I stopped biking. I lifted weights intermittently, which does no good. I basically did everything I could to get back OUT of shape.

And it worked.

By 2012, I was back up to (probably) 270 pounds. I say probably because I wouldn’t get on a scale. I was demotivated and giving up. Doritos were back in the rotation. I’d pass on salad for fish and chips or burgers and fries. I tried, here and there: there was a vegan phase (tofu pizza!) and a calorie restriction phase (works for me for about two days, then…pizza). I lifted weights (wow, what a workout…let’s have a pizza). But despite some bounces back and forth, I slowly increased.

Most studies show that dieters will have life-long yo-yo struggles with weight. You can’t diet and then alter your lifestyle…being healthy is a lifestyle that simply means certain foods can’t ever be consumed on a semi-regular basis. You can have a 1400 calorie mongo burger once a year on your birthday…but you can’t just drop in and grab one because you are out running errands. The lifestyle has to revolve around making healthy choices on an almost constant basis, and by almost constant I mean “default to healthy” all the time.

So why am I writing this?

I realized a few months ago that following other people’s advice was pointless. I had written a guide as to what worked for me 7 years ago. Why was I chasing other diets? I had a quantified, proven system that had worked brilliantly for me before.

So I took my own advice, and it is working.

I’m down from the 270s. My chosen form of exercise this time has been biking (seems easier on the joints) and soon I plan to begin weight training. I have read a lot about the ketogenic diet; reviewed Atkins and various nutrition sites. I’m not happy about eating so much meat; philosophically I’d rather be vegan. But I had to recognize what worked for me. I drink bulletproof coffee (coffee with butter), lots of eggs and egg whites, grilled chicken and beef, and drink seltzer instead of alcohol unless I’m going out. I have gotten lazy and let diet sodas creep back in, but I’m quitting that. When I go out I have salads with ranch dressing, so I get vegetables. I am monitoring my sleep (using sleep apps on my phone), too, which seems to be important.

Result so far? Down to 225 (45 pounds down). 

I’m not done, far from it. I have several actor role  models for physical fitness – Daniel Craig, Jason Statham, Christian Bale, Matt Damon and Tom Hardy.  I don’t see any of them, other than Statham, as being any more of an athlete than I am – they were actors who needed to get super fit for roles. So healthy eating, targeted exercise and discipline could give me similar results. It won’t be easy – their JOBS are to get fit like that, and they have time-saving resources I could only dream of (chefs spring to mind). But it’s doable. Take a look at Chris Pratt, from Guardians of the Galaxy: before and after. Or this guy from a thread on Reddit: progress pics. Both pics are slightly NSFW (nothing too bad, just guys posing shirtless).

What have I learned? It’s a lot easier to get fat than to get fit.  But you can recover from your mistakes, and the recovery can make you even stronger. You have to be vigilant in all aspects of self-improvement, and if you are not improving, you are declining. And no one can do it for you. You can certainly have support and encouragement and motivation, but at the end of the day YOU have to put down the slice.

And why do we fall, Bruce? So we can learn to pick ourselves up.

 – Quote from Thomas Wayne:, Batman Begins

Thanks for letting me get that off my chest.  And check out 101 thoughts on losing 100 pounds, too.

A year.

A year.

avoiding the Waiting Place

the_waiting_place

If you’ve read my blog for any length of time (or for that matter, talked to me in person) you’ll know that I have been an avid proponent of consulting as a career choice for a long time.  I started my career working for two of the biggest consulting firms in the world, and spent almost 9 years as an independent contract consultant.

Spent?

I have written again and again about the benefits of consulting:

But one of the things I have also espoused in the past was that any change in your life, from losing weight (101 thoughts on losing 100 pounds) to simply making a change (the only impediment to change is yourself) is driven by you.  The reasoning for the change, the motivation, the execution – all have to come from within the individual.  And that’s what happened to me.

There is a danger in any career path that you can become lazy.  Not that the work becomes easy, necessarily, and not that you don’t still have to work long hours at it, but it can become busy…rather than challenging.  I know many accounting clerks who stay wildly busy, but whose jobs have not appreciably changed in form or function in years.  As you move higher up the career ladder, this is harder and harder to do, simply because businesses change and in management positions you have to change with them.  Nonetheless, a sameness can set into your routine and you can end up (a la Dr. Seuss) in the Waiting Place.

You can get so confused
that you’ll start in to race
down long wiggled roads at a break-necking pace
and grind on for miles across weirdish wild space,
headed, I fear, toward a most useless place.
The Waiting Place…

…for people just waiting.
Waiting for a train to go
or a bus to come, or a plane to go
or the mail to come, or the rain to go
or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow
or waiting around for a Yes or a No
or waiting for their hair to grow.
Everyone is just waiting.

Waiting for the fish to bite
or waiting for wind to fly a kite
or waiting around for Friday night
or waiting, perhaps, for their Uncle Jake
or a pot to boil, or a Better Break
or a string of pearls, or a pair of pants
or a wig with curls, or Another Chance.
Everyone is just waiting.

NO!
That’s not for you!

From Oh, The Places You’ll Go! by Dr. Seuss

I felt I had ended up in that place.  Despite enjoying consulting, and contributing (I believe) fairly substantially to most of my clients, a sameness had set into my daily routine that I wasn’t enjoying.  Part of it was the current client; typically I spend about a year at each client (usually as part of a single large project, beginning to end, or as a temporary ‘fill’ while a position is vacant).  I had been three years with my latest client, performing one major project after another.

The opportunity to become a permanent employee again had been a vague possibility for a while.  Obviously for a company to keep a high priced (ahem) consultant on board year after year is eventually more expensive than the cost of having a ‘permanent’ employee.  Not only is it more expensive monetarily, but you do run some risk in that consultants are more likely (at least in theory) to move on, taking their expertise with them.  I’d argue that is not really true – after three years I was just as much an employee as the next cubicle Joe, but that’s the perception.

My client had been considering starting up a new function for a while.  I have bounced back and forth in my career between finance and auditing.; my client was starting up a new internal audit function.  While I’ve been in senior management since the late 90s, my detour into consulting had prevented me from ever actually being the head of an internal audit function, something I felt quite ready to do.  So here was the opportunity, for a growing company, to head up a department (albeit at first, a department of one supervising consultants, but with the possibility of starting to hire managers and staff within a year).  I thought I had to try it – mostly just to have tried it.

So as I hopefully begin to write more often I can make a comparison of my new executive role versus the role of the consultant.  It’s interesting partially because it’s with the same company – everybody has known me as the consultant, so changing that perception was one of the early challenges.  Getting used to needing to engage in office politics is another one I have resisted.  Having good benefits is nice; having long hours with no overtime pay is not.  So while I quite enjoy the role and the challenge, I am looking forward to making a more balanced assessment in a year or two.

If you’ve come to the blog to read a consulting post, or how to make money without a job, I’d still stand behind those ideas.  Consulting is a great skill.  With my consulting background I feel confident that I can always return to consulting, at any age, and be successful at it.  But life is full of change AND opportunities to change; after following my own advice to go it alone as a consultant for almost a decade, I decided to take the fork in the road, and avoid the Waiting Place.

how to make money without a job and why you should

 

Spend less than you earn is the wrong way to think! Your time will be much better spent thinking of more ways to make money than it will be thinking of ways to save money. Chances are good if you read this blog that you’ve already given some thought to alternative income, but let’s back up.

“It is better to have a permanent income than to be fascinating.” – Oscar Wilde

Everyone has a primary source of income. Usually it is a traditional job – an employer who asks them to show up from 9 am to 5 pm, file a TPS report and pay an ungodly amount of taxes for the privilege of being laid off in a restructuring when the company misses earnings estimates by $0.01. Income can also come from self-employment, a small business, unemployment checks, a pension, or hundreds of other primary sources. Alternative income – which is sometimes referred to, incorrectly, as passive income – can come from rental properties, royalties, investments or other sources. All of these sources could also be primary income to someone but usually these are income streams that people receive in addition to their primary income. To be truly rich one thing is certain: for every ’stream’ of income you have, you should have an alternative. Alternative income is the key to wealth.

Most people have a single source of income. They work for employer Megacorp or Wal-Market and receive a paycheck. Some people may have a trickle of investment income, or occasionally sell something on eBay and then give up after a few sales, but a large number of people consider catching up on the final season of NBC’s beloved quirky comedy “The Office” a better use of their time than trying to earn more money after a tiring day in the office. Their goal is to get by on minimum work, minimum income and maximum “down-time.” Alternative income seems like a lot of extra work to these people, and extra work isn’t what anyone wants.

However, there are many advantages to finding alternative income, not the least of which is being able to get rid of your primary income stream. Having alternative streams of income means that no one stream can direct your life. Do you think you could tell your boss you were going to quit at the end of the month if your wage is your only source of income? Not unless you had an offer letter from your next ex-boss ready. But what if you had 15 streams of income? What if no single stream accounted for more than 10% of your total income? You could do a constant analysis and drop underperformers. You could drop streams that were inefficient, or frankly just made you blue. This is why being a consultant is better than being an employee, and why owning a business is better than being a consultant, and why creating content is better than owning a business – ease of adding and dropping income sources. Consultants and businesses and especially content creators can have more than one ‘employer’ at a time. No one ‘employer’ becomes critical for putting food on the table.

There are two more advantages to alternative income besides diversification of income sources. First of all is the expansion of skills. Creating an income stream from a website you create or eBay sales or a small business is a completely different skill set than being a financial analyst, for example. Not better, not worse, but different. Even blogging about financial analysis is a different skill set than being a financial analyst. Every time you create a new revenue stream, you are expanding your skill set. You are learning something new, and making it that much more likely that you’ll be able to add further income streams.

This leads to the greatest advantage of alternative income streams of all. This is the viral nature of alternative income. For the first 10-12 years of my working life, I never thought there was any point in worrying about income past my wages and a quarterly trickle of dividends from my stock holdings. The truth is that when you start thinking about creating alternative income you’ll find out that something funny happens. Your ideas will snowball. That first idea will spawn two more, and they’ll each create two more. You’ll get excited the first time you make a few dollars that didn’t come from your employer. You’ll see opportunities everywhere and even though many won’t work out, some will. The one that does will give you a lead to another stream. That stream will inspire you to create another. You won’t be content to sit back and wait for your corporate payroll department to mail you that never-changing check every two weeks. You’ll want more, and by wanting more you’ll find more. Once you understand that alternative income is the only way to real, long-lasting wealth every idea you have could be the start of something amazing.

So even if you come up with an idea for generating an extra $10 a month, don’t sneer at it. That $10 a month idea may someday serve as the basis for a $100 per month idea. That $100 stream may help you gain the skills and experience you need to have for a whole new stream that generates $1000 per month. If you see where this is going, you see the possibilities. Keep an eye out – you never know when you’ll come up with the next small idea that could turn out big!

This post originally appeared, in slightly modified form, as a guest post I wrote on Lazy Man and Money. He’s all about alternative income, of course, which is the subject of this post, so his blog is a great place to brainstorm.

Attribution Photo Some rights reserved by stevendepolo

9 characteristics of a great job

Q: Did you always dream of drawing and writing, or were you about to happily settle for a so-called normal job? Was it the misery of “humiliating and low-paying jobs,” or the joy of drawing and writing, that pushed you this way?
A: I pursued a normal job so I wouldn’t starve to death while figuring out how to have an extraordinary job. I just didn’t know how it would play out. —Scott Adams, creator of Dilbert (link)

How can you find an extraordinary job? What’s the secret to a fulfilling career?

The perfect job. Who doesn’t dream of finding that perfect job? Flexible hours, massive responsibility (or lack thereof), great pay, interesting work, convivial colleagues, travel with perks, and a corner office overlooking the city. Chances are that it’s just that – a dream. Most of us who work for a living – as opposed to entrepreneurs – are stuck working at something less than our dream. The need to pay the rent, the mortgage, the medical bills and so on simply makes the necessity of a paycheck too much to disregard. There are some positives about having that not-so-perfect job, though. Here are 9 things to remember about your current less-than-perfect job:

1. You don’t have to go out feet first. I pose this question to people at work often: do you plan to die at your desk after decades of working for this company? The answer is always no, so I say “then you plan to quit – it’s simply a question of timing.” Remember that your job is not forever. The drama and politics that seem so real now will be gone in 10 years – probably even less – from your memory.

2. You are not your job. Albert Einstein was a patent clerk. Nobody remembers Einstein for his year-end patent clerking evaluation, or the patent clerk staff meetings he skipped. He was not defined by his job, but by his work. If you love to paint, don’t let the fact that you work in retail sales discourage you from painting.

3. Take pride in your paycheck. It may seem like a small thing, often dismissed as “not following your dreams,” but there is some value to simply bringing home a paycheck. If you have a family, be proud that you can provide for them. If you are single, be proud that you stand on your own feet without help from your parents. Even if your job is not perfect, take some pride in the fact that through this job you can support yourself (and your family).

4. Never stop learning. Even the worst possible job presents opportunities for learning – even if they are lessons like “I never want to do this again.” Try and find opportunities in your job to learn new skills. Those skills might come in handy at your NEXT job.

5. Your colleagues may change. If you suffer with a particular colleague, remember that they may leave any day. You don’t necessarily HAVE to be the one to blink and quit! Sometimes you can outlast people that irritate you.

6. The next job may not be that great, either. Everyone has experienced the sinking feeling of quitting one job, moving to a new one and discovering it may be even worse than the one before. If you set an expectation that your life will be a never-ending series of triumphant improvements, you may have some too-high expectations to overcome. Even a near-perfect job will have its off days.

7. Working on the side is only possible if you have “a side.” Writing the next great American screenplay is a terrific idea (although you’ll be crossing the picket lines if you do). However, nobody has ever said that you have to do that and nothing else. There is no shame keeping your day job to support yourself and working on side projects meanwhile. Scott Adams kept working at the phone company in a cubicle even after Dilbert became a syndicated comic strip. Keep at it. Success will come.

8. Don’t discount the social aspect of a bad job. Sometimes the job duties may be bad but the people you work with are great. If you have a bad job but you like your co-workers, keep in mind that a rewarding job doesn’t always guarantee like-minded, friendly colleagues.

9. Motivation isn’t always positive! Sometimes keeping that not-so-perfect job is what spurs people on to avoid “jobs” altogether. Maybe the employee lifestyle just isn’t for you – use that frustration with your current job to inspire you to discover your real passion and break away!

(photo by Ol.v!er [H2vPk])

5 ways to get free money

Everyone likes free money. It’s my favorite kind, personally. I’m talking about the $20 bill lying on the ground. The birthday check from Great Aunt Winifred for $5. The extra 30 minutes someone overpaid on the parking meter that you get to use when you park there. It’s all good.

So why would you pass up free money? The problem is, there are plenty of opportunities, even in this day and age, to get money for nothing. Of course there is a price – you may have to fill out a form, or walk to a bank, or call an 800 number. But in practical terms, we’re talking about nothing. So where do you get this free money? Who is crazy enough to give it away? Your employer, the federal government, banks, credit card companies, airlines, supermarkets? The answer: all of them!

1. Not taking advantage of employer match in your 401(k). This is a biggie. If your employer offers a matching program for your 401(k), what they are telling you is for every $1 you put towards your retirement – up to a certain level – they will give you $1. You don’t have to stay later, or hang with the boss under the mistletoe at the holiday party. They’ll just put it in your 401(k) and walk away. It may take a year or two to vest fully, but it’s your decision to stay or leave. Don’t pass up this unless you feel that you don’t really deserve any more of your company’s money than they graciously give you in salary.

2. Not using a cash back rewards card. Credit card companies are not our buddies. They are not in business to make our lives more convenient – they are in business to trick us into running up big balances. What easier way than telling you that every time you spend $100 they’ll give you four shiny new quarters? The trick here is to turn the tables on them. Put all of your expenses on a cash-back credit card each month, then pay off the balance in full. They’ll probably be muttering and complaining in their plush credit card executive offices, but they’ll give you the money. I get cash back on my donations to charity because I do this. Think about that – I give money to charity but I use a cash-back card that pays me 1% back. If that isn’t free money, I don’t know what is.

3. Failing to join your supermarket ‘frequent shopper program’. Most big supermarkets have a “card” price on their store brands. If you use your ‘frequent shopper card’ they give you big discounts. All they ask in return is the ability to measure your buying patterns for marketing purposes. That may be a little creepy knowing that all that data’s being compiled about you, but hey! I’m not about to pay $1 for something I could pay $.50 for just by giving out information to Winn-Dixie that they probably can track in other ways, anyway. I may regret getting a flyer in the mail but most of these supermarkets let you opt-out of mailings.

4. Withholding too much. The federal government is a pesky creditor. Imagine if you went to a nice restaurant and while you were eating the waiter came by every 10 minutes to ask for another 1/6th of your bill. Annoying, isn’t it? Well, Uncle Sam can’t wait until April 15th to get your tax payment – he needs it now and he needs it bad. But he also lets you decide just exactly how much should be withheld from your paycheck every month. Imagine you’re back at the crazy restaurant. The waiter comes by and wants $10 every 10 minutes. Would you give him $15 each time and tell him to give you the change back after dinner? Why would you want him holding your money for you? Why do you want the government holding your money that could be in a high-yield savings account? Reducing your withholding can put some money in your pocket NOW instead of later.

5. Not joining airline/hotel/etc. frequent flyer programs. I know the value of a frequent flyer mile isn’t what it used to be, but if you fly they don’t charge you anything extra to put the miles in an account. I’ve paid for enough flights and hotel rooms over the years using points that I think it’s worth it. I would have paid for those flights and rooms otherwise. Using points is a hassle, I know, but it’s still something for nothing. The “something” is a little bit less every year, but it’s still there.

It’s all free money – who wouldn’t want some of that?

Private Mortgage Insurance: What You Need to Know

Unfortunately, if you don’t have at least 20% to put down on your mortgage when buying a home, you’ll have to buy private mortgage insurance. Also known as PMI, this insurance protects the lender when and if you fall behind on your mortgage payments. The insurance is almost always automatically cancelled when 20% of your mortgage is paid. If the lender doesn’t cancel it, be sure to contact them in writing. There are certain circumstances when the lender may not cancel your private mortgage insurance. If your home has gone down in value, they may not cancel the insurance. If you have another lien on the home, they may not cancel it.

There are a variety of ways you can pay your private mortgage insurance. You can finance the cost of the insurance, paying an additional amount on top of your mortgage payment, you can pay the insurance premium in one lump sum each year, or you may be able to set up separate monthly payments with the lender or the private mortgage insurance company. If you don’t pay your private mortgage insurance in a lump sum, you will have to pay interest just as you would on your car insurance. The interest rates typically run from 1/2 to 1 percent of the total amount that is borrowed, although this number varies from lender to lender.The cost of PMI is based on your credit rating, the type of mortgage you have, and the length of the loan. The good news is, if you earn less than $100,000.00 a year, the private mortgage insurance premiums are tax deductible, although this amount is always subject to change because tax laws often change.Paying PMI can be eliminated if you have paid off at least 20% of your mortgage or if the value of your home has gone up.

If you have remodeled your home, the value more than likely has risen. If you built a garage or any other outside building, if you have installed a new furnace, new plumbing or electrical wiring or done any other remodeling in your home, its value has probably risen. An appraisal would be required to prove to the lender that the value of your home has gone up, then they can determine whether or not your private mortgage insurance can be cancelled.No one likes to pay higher mortgage payments because they have had to finance their private mortgage insurance. Paying the insurance fees once a year can be costly too, but there is a savings on interest. There are a variety of mortgage lenders and they each have their own set of standards regarding PMI. Be sure to check with your mortgage company regarding the cost and payment plans they have available.

 

lacrosse and Russian

faulkner grave

 

faulkner grave

 

I didn’t get that much out of college, other than friends, knowledge, life experiences, and the ability to blow up an opponent in lacrosse.  I majored in math, and now I’m a finance and systems consultant.  Related, fine.  But they are two different disciplines.  I studied linguistics, and while I’m able to speak several languages, I don’t really pay much attention to language, per se.  I minored in Russian, though, and that deeply, thoroughly, and massively affected my life – the choices I made, the places I lived, even all the way through to my spouse and (eventually) my kids.  So don’t assume college doesn’t matter… it just doesn’t matter the way you think it will.  I thought I would be a famous mathematician based on my time in college.  Nope.  But little did I suspect I’d become a Russophile and become “russkiy v sertsye” – Russian at heart.

From Good Financial Moves for College, Part 2:

But that’s not the biggest part of it. Without developing my Russian skills I wouldn’t have met, pursued and married my wife. Maybe if I had taken Japanese I would have lived in Japan, developed a fondness for all things Japanese. Hard to say. But I do know that the decision to learn Russian set in motion the life process that brought me to where I am today.

Photo LicenseAttribution Some rights reserved by Bridgman Pottery

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