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4 Key Tips to Ensure Your Bank is Giving You a Deal

4 Key Tips to Ensure Your Bank is Giving You a Deal

People are often quite loyal to their financial institutions – they usually decide to have all of their credit cards and financial products under the same bank. Initially it seems like the most convenient option, but you may not be acquiring the best deal. Shop around and keep the following in mind:

1. Be Mindful of the Hidden Fees

Banks offer a plethora of information online and in physical documentation regarding their fees. Make yourself aware of those fees. Some banks charge $2 to get a statement by mail. There is a dormant fee (when the account has remained inactive for so long). The idea is to find a bank that doesn’t take on so many fees or offers free services.

For example, a free checking account that includes bill payments, email money transfers, debit purchases, etc. may be something to consider. You can access the bank to withdraw money, cash a check that doesn’t include a long hold, etc.

2. Start looking elsewhere

If you notice your bank consistently raises its fees or your fees, you may want to do some shopping around to find a financial institution that offers a lower rate. If you do find a better rate than what your bank is offering you, bring it to them and see if they can match it. Give them an ultimatum, and if they can’t match it, then leave.

Too often, people go to a bank and accept the offers they are presented with without taking the time to really look at them. People need to do some research about their rewards programs, monthly fees, review customer comments, etc. to ensure their getting the best deal.

3. Look at Your Services

Talk to the bank about your current model. What kinds of accounts do you have? What are they offering? Confirm with them whether or not you’re existing accounts are fulfilling your needs and if you’re getting the best deal.

It’s important to look at your statement and investigate if you’re being charged reasonably. If there are unnecessary charges in your account, talk to your bank and outline to them that you’re being left with no choice but to seek another financial institution.

4. Talk to an Advisor about Your Portfolio

Regular updates and feedback is an important factor in building a good foundation with your advisor. Talk to your investment advisor about your portfolio and set how conservative or aggressive you want your investment strategy. As well as locking in risk tolerance, you should also look at the various other factors that come in to play like income and liquidity needs, time horizon, etc.

4 Tips to Help You Attain Financial Freedom

4 Tips to Help You Attain Financial Freedom

Did you have any financial gains or losses so far this year? If so, what lessons did you learn from them? It’s important when talking about finances to consider what you gain from an experience and how you can better prepare yourself for when an opportunity arises or a misfortune develops.

Make the Right Big Purchases

Buying the little things to keep you going throughout the day such as a morning coffee or grabbing lunch at your favorite regular is totally fine once it’s factored in to your budget and well within your means. The acquisitions you really need to be wary of are fancy cars and/or expensive houses. While you may think you’re happy with your purchase now, buyer’s remorse may soon set in when you come to realize that your financial freedom felt better than the item you’ve obtained.

Minimize Your Credit Card Usage

If you have credit cards, consider not keeping them in your wallet and leave them at home so you’re not tempted to use them. Yes, credit cards are an important part to your financial health, but think of the interest that they can accumulate. With a good credit score, you can reduce your borrowing costs. Use those cards wisely.

Save for Your Retirement

Everybody wants to save for retirement and see out the rest of their lives comfortably. Don’t think of saving as a chore, but rather a necessary duty that will reward you later on in life. Saving for the future means ensuring yourself solid financial footing.  Financial freedom comes in the form of saving, not buying.

Realize Where You’re at Financially

It’s important you know what you’re paying in taxes, where the money is being spent and why the money is being spent. It’s valuable to know what your net worth is and to talk to someone constructively about your finances. Talking to people about the lessons both of you have learned and what experiences you have had can inspire and offer a perspective on how you could best utilize the money you have, but it can also give you a better understanding on what financial pitfalls you should side step along the way.

6 Considerations Prospective Homeowners Need to Remember for the Negotiation Table

6 Considerations Prospective Homeowners Need to Remember for the Negotiation Table

After years of frugality, you’ve saved enough money up to put a down payment on a house. Perhaps a congratulations is in order since you’re about to become a homeowner! Well, not quite yet…

You see, you may have enough for a down payment, but you still need at least 80% to purchase a home. That means you need to be approved for a mortgage. However, how can you be sure you get a deal that’s the best for your financial situation? You can haggle for your mortgage, it’s just a little different.

1/You can Negotiate the Rate

According to RateSpy founder Rob McLister, posted rates are not final rates. In fact, there are very few lenders that have inflexible rates. And, even these lenders will bend the rules for those who demonstrate themselves financially stable.

2/Rates are Not the Be-All and End-All

While you do save money on a low mortgage interest rate, there are also hidden costs in a contract. With lenders posting rates on websites, prospective borrowers are far more likely to check out the advertised rate. This has resulted in many lenders adding clauses to their contract. For instance, a lender may demand that a mortgage must be completed within 30 years or the borrower may be subjected to penalty fees.

Prospective borrowers need to look at the rate of each institution to realize what they’re getting into.

3/Extend Negotiations Beyond The Rate

The rate isn’t the only thing to contend with in a mortgage. You must also address transfer fees, discharge fees, deed fees, appraisal fees and legal fees. There is a host of fees that you can negotiate that will help you to save a little money.

4/Have Leverage to Negotiate with

The bigger your mortgage is, the more likely lenders will negotiate with you. If you use a mortgage broker, you can negotiate with them to reduce their commission if you’re requesting a large sum of money for the mortgage.

5/Do Your Research before Negotiations

Before you even step into the negotiation ring, you need to do some research. Find out how the lender works and what the rates are like. Big banks and online-only lenders don’t offer the same kinds of services, which means negotiations will differ. Don’t try to use an online lending rate with a traditional bank.

6/Realize You Can’t Negotiate Everything

You need to understand that breaking a mortgage with your lender such as refinancing to another lender or selling your home can lead to a penalty fee. If you decide you want to break the mortgage, you give them no kind of incentive to negotiate with you.

What You Need to Remember

It’s not difficult to negotiate your mortgage, but you may have to compromise on a few things – fees, services and rate. The more money you’re asking for in a mortgage, the more you should learn about the various lenders, their rates and the fine print. Do this, and you have the power to negotiate yourself a good deal.

4 Strategies To Help You Pay Off Debt

4 Strategies To Help You Pay Off Debt

Are you feeling the financial pinch? Do you feel bogged down by your debt? If so, then perhaps it’s time for a change. When it comes to your finances and successfully getting out of debt, it’s important to devise a plan that will help you to succeed. It doesn’t matter if you have a small amount of debt or a lot of debt, here are four key ways to help you become debt free.

Create Goals

If you want to pay down your debt, you need to create some goals to make it happen. Whether your goal is to relieve yourself of a particular debt or save money for a long overdue vacation, having structured goals in place is an excellent way to keep yourself on track and stay motivated.

Keep an Eye On Your Money

If you want to get out of debt, you need to know where your money is going. Track how you’re spending your money by using an app or a simple budget. Having a budget in place or using an app to track your inflows and outflows allows you to visualize where your money is going, and identify and adjust for any frivolous spending habits.

Use the Snowball Method

Once you know where your money is going and you’ve adjusted your spending to be within your budget, it’s time to pay off your debts. Write down all of your outstanding debts – from smallest to largest –and start paying off the smallest amount first. Once you’re done paying that amount off, apply what you’ve been paying to the second-largest amount. Fully paying your small debts off first will help instill you with the feeling of accomplishment, and the feeling that you’re on your way to becoming fully debt-free.

Automate Your Bills

Like it or not, your bills have to get paid. Missing bill payments can wreak havoc on your plan to get out of debt, and so to ensure that all of your bills are being paid on time, set up each bill on an automated payment system so that they are automatically withdrawn from your bank account the same time every month.

Five Ways To Better Manage Your Holiday Spending

Five Ways To Better Manage Your Holiday Spending

With the holiday season quickly approaching, it’s tempting to fall into the trap of overspending on gifts for family and friends. A gift is a great way to show thanks and appreciation to the people in your life that you hold dear, however it’s quite easy to overspend on gifts during the holidays. If you’re worried about how this extra spending could negatively impact your bank balance and debt levels, now is a good time to start planning on how to better manage your spending during this festive season. Here are five tips that can turn your holiday spending into a spending holiday:

Give Yourself a Budget

We find that one of the most important things is to create a holiday budget and stick to it. That way you can forecast the amount of spending you’re planning to do, while still staying within your financial means. To ensure that you’re checking off everyone on your list while still keeping things affordable, create a mini-budget for the season that includes the people you’re buying for, and the amount you’re willing to spend on them. With this budget in place, you’ll find that it’s much easier to avoid overspending this season.

Make a List, Check it Twice

It’s time to take Santa’s advice and make a list (maybe check it twice). It’s tempting to buy gifts for everyone in your life, but sadly for most people it’s not a feasible option. If your shopping list includes an excessive amount of family and friends, your list may need a little pruning. Make a list of everyone you’d like to buy gifts for, and begin eliminating people until you have a nice small group of gift recipients to be. If you’re feeling some serious holiday remorse for those you’ve decided to exclude from your list, a D.I.Y gift is an inexpensive and thoughtful alternative. Sometimes it’s the thought that counts.

Do-It-Yourself Gifts

Giving someone a homemade gift can sometimes carry more weight than any store-bought gift could. If you’re really concerned about spending this holiday season, a D.I.Y gift is a thoughtful and less costly alternative. A small thoughtful gift made by you is a lot more unique and thoughtful than an item that can be picked out from a store.

Do Online Research

In a day and age where internet and social media is so ubiquitous, it’s extremely easy to do extensive research on any particular item that you’re planning on purchasing. Online shopping and shipping is a lot cheaper and faster compared to buying a gift from a retailer. There’s often better selection and availability, and  it gives you the opportunity to compare value vs quality of an item.

Cash vs Credit

Again, it’s extremely easy to fall into a trap of overspending, and purchasing all your gifts using your credit card is a surefire way to overspend. Putting everything on credit may be tempting, but using cash is a much safer alternative. Not only do you realize the expense immediately, but you can choose to withdraw a specific amount of money and keep that as your spending cap.

Gifts are a great way to show that you care, but ultimately it’s the thought that counts during the Holiday Season. As a certain Christmas character once said “Maybe Christmas doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more”.

4 Steps to Comfortable Estate Planning

4 Steps to Comfortable Estate Planning

It might be uncomfortable to think of the day when your sun sets, but uncomfortable or not, it’s greatly encouraged to be prepared for that moment as much as possible. We all have a say in when, where and how our hard-earned assets are distributed. With that in mind, take a look at these four steps to comfortable estate planning.

 

1. Pay All Your Bills Including Debts and Taxes

The beneficiaries of your estate will not see a dime until all your bills have been paid, this can’t be stressed enough. Take care of all your accounts so you take care of your loved ones. If you are deep in debt, chances are there will be little left of your estate for the people you intended to benefit once you pass.

 

2. Write a Will

While it’s obvious, it’s amazing how many people omit writing a will all together. Your estate and how it is distributed is and should be your call. Sadly many estates are left in the hands of lawyers and judges. A good written will guides how your estate is distributed and to whom specifically. To put it bluntly, you get to determine how your estate is used even in death.

 

3. Establish an Executor You Can Really Trust

Take careful consideration when deciding who is best for the task of executor. The trusted person should have the time, knowledge, skill and responsible attitude to carry out your wishes honestly. It’s often assumed the eldest child should handle this task, but it’s certainly not a concrete condition.

 

4. Properly File Important Documents

Keep all your valuable papers together. Insurance policies, wills, bonds, investment records, birth certificates, marriage certificates and social insurance numbers – make sure your family knows where they are.