Take a Look at
What’s Going On.

Summer Fun: Finance Your Vacation With a Personal Loan!

Have you been planning on that exotic summer vacation to Hawaii with no fruition to the idea? Financing a vacation, especially for a large family, is a bit tricky, and so many people put off traveling to their dream holidays. A vacation’s cost can add up significantly considering airfares, hotel bookings, and fun activities like snorkeling, buying souvenirs, and so on. There is also the fact that the more popular destinations cost more. But you can finance your dream holiday with a personal loan without breaking the bank.

Research Your Destination
Where do you want to go? If it is the Caribbean, where specifically? Luckily, you have the internet. Doing a simple search, for example, “Top 5 diving destinations in the Caribbean” will pull up many search results. Browse these options, taking note of what each destination offers and the price. Remember to look at the reviews, suggestions, and opinions of other vacationers. Sites such as TripAdvisor are very good in providing feedback on different destinations, hotels, and activities. You can then rank these destinations.

Compare the Costs
Look out for holiday packages that have what you need. It is rarely possible to do everything on your to-do list on a vacation unless you have the finances and time. If you are going to Paris, for example, it would be smarter to choose a package with 2-3 museum visits rather than trying to squeeze in a lot of museum visits in a 1-week vacation.
Compromise on what you wish to see with respect to your budget. If a holiday package offers 75% of what you wish to see and do, it is adequate. There is always the next time.

Make a Bare-Bones Budget
Another option would be to plan with a DIY bare-bones budget. This is good when traveling singly or as a couple. You can drastically cut the budget by considering options such as:

  • Planning for public transport instead of renting a car
  • Sleeping in a hostel instead of a hotel
  • Taking the train or driving instead of flying

Consider Your Financing Options
With your vacation budget set, it is easier to shop around for a personal loan. You should try to have the bigger part of the vacation budget financed by your savings. The remainder is what you can borrow. If you already have credit cards, tick off items that can be paid using the cards, as this is already available credit.

Many lending institutions will typically lend up to $10,000 for a vacation loan. Be sure to compare interest rates as well as repayment period, to pick a loan that favors your financial capability.

5 Signs a Home Equity Line of Credit Is Right for You

Many people have the need to ask for a home equity line of credit. However, with so many different variables to consider, how can you know if a specific equity line of credit is the right one for you?

1. Know the Basics
Simply put, a home equity line of credit works like most traditional lines of credit and credit cards. The borrower can tap a part of the available credit they have, pay that off, and use that credit again for the term of the credit line, which usually is 10 years. After this period, the unpaid balance that you have will be converted into a loan that should be repaid usually within 10 to 20 years. One of the best advantages of home equity lines of credit compared to the traditional bank loans is the fact that the borrower can deduct the interest payments up to $100,000 against their tax liability.

2. Look at the Interest Rate
The truth is that the terms of the home equity line of credit vary. This is why it is important that you look at the interest rates that are going to be applied to your loan. There are many things that you should know to see if this is a good option for you or not. So, start by finding out the starting interest rate, the length of the draw period, if you need to pay the full credit at the end of the draw period, or in case that you don’t, how much time you have to pay it. Usually, the starting interest rate should be based on the prime rate. However, you should make sure that the lender will cap that same prime rate for the entire life of the loan.

3. You May or May Not Qualify
The reality is that just because you have equity in your home, it doesn’t mean that you’ll get a home equity line of credit. The lenders will probably want to take a look at your income and credit history. So, depending on how much equity you have relative to other mortgages on the property will affect the size of the credit line you may get.

4. Weigh the Risks
You need to make sure that you are well aware of the risks. One of the things that you want to avoid is to rely on a fixed-rate loan to pay the amount that you owe for many years, without even knowing how the interest rate will be at that time.

5. Consider Other Options
When you need the kind of funds that you know you won’t be able to pay within a couple years from now, you should consider opting for a home equity loan instead. This kind of loan usually comes with a fixed interest and principal payment. Plus, some can also tap home equity. So, what this means is that you’re eliminating the risk of a variable interest rate that can go against you.

Identity Theft: How to Protect Yourself!

Today, your identity is the equivalent of gold to scammers and cyberthieves that are always lurking in the background. If you are not careful or do not take steps to actively protect yourself, your identity could be stolen, and it can have dire financial consequences. Your name, email address, Social Security information, banking details, and other information can be manipulated easily and without your knowledge. The end result can be terrifying and earth-shattering, so steps must be taken to safeguard yourself from identity theft.

How Does Identity Theft Happen?
Identity theft occurs when someone accesses your personal information such as your Social Security details for purposes of fraud. An identity thief can use your personal information for a number of purposes, including altering your medical records, stealing your money, and even opening credit card accounts in your name. Identify theft can have a negative impact on your finances and it can make your life a living hell.

How to protect yourself from identity theft:

Strengthen Your Passwords
If your passwords are strong, it makes it a lot harder for a cyberthief to steal your identity. Use a random combination of numbers, letters, and symbols or special characters and ensure that you change them frequently.

Shred All Personal Documents
If you have been tossing your statements and credit card receipts in the trash without shredding them, consider investing in a quality shredder. This is one of the easiest ways for scammers to access your personal information for fraud.

Secure Your Mailbox
Do not allow letters to accumulate in your mailbox as they can be stolen. Criminals have a tendency to snatch credit card pitches from neglected mailboxes for fraud purposes. Also, mail your outgoing bill payments and checks from the post office or from another location as they can be removed from your box and the payee’s name can be easily erased with solvents.

Keep Your Social Security Number Safe
If you can, avoid carrying your Social Security card unless you need it. Your Social Security card is the primary target for most scammers and identity thieves as it can facilitate a number of crimes such as illegally accessing your credit report or banking account details.

Don’t Leave a Trail
A paper trail may seem harmless, but something as simple as an ATM, gas station, or credit card receipt can be a gateway to identity crime.

Monitor Your Credit Report
Obtain and go through your credit card report at least once a year so that you can catch any suspicious activity and stop it before it does too much damage to your finances. If you find something worrying or suspicious, contact your creditor as soon as you can to get back control.

Be Aware of Scams – They Are Everywhere

Scams nowadays are everywhere. The nature of attacks can vary, but the ultimate goal of all scammers is to take your money. Because technology is becoming more and more advanced, the nature of today’s scams is a lot more sophisticated than it was before, which makes it a lot harder to spot them. Scams are only as limited as the scammer’s imagination. However, the most common ones include:

The Microsoft Support Pop-up Scam
This malware appears to look like Google Chrome and it notifies you that “Your Computer Has Been Blocked.” When you call the support number listed, the scammers at the end of the line will convince you to allow them to control your computer remotely. It goes without saying that you should not.

The Prize Win Scam
These can appear as pop-ups on your browser or they can arrive as emails or SMS. Such scams are designed to steal your personal information for fraud. They are also used to place phishing software on your device so that scammers can access your credit card and banking details.

Fake Wi-Fi Hot Spots
This scam is popular in restaurants and coffee shops. When you log into an unsecured hot spot, you expose yourself to scammers that want to mine your computer for passwords as well as banking information.

Fake Charity Pleas
These scams come in the form of an email characterized by images of a disaster (such as hurricanes) or malnourished children that need help. The charity plea typically used is “Please give what you can today,” followed by a cash request. This scam is intended to harvest your banking details, so avoid it whenever possible.

The Travel Scam
Most travel scams reel you in by offering ridiculous deals to amazing locations or cheap airline tickets. They may appear legitimate, but most travel scams have extra costs hidden in the fine print, which might cause you to spend more than you needed to. These travel scams are popular during peak vacation periods such as summer or right before the holidays.

To Avoid Being Scammed

  • Keep your personal information and banking details to yourself. Protect your passwords and do not use your email on public computers.
  • Update your privacy settings on all your social media accounts to restrict hackers and scammers.
  • The general rule of thumb is, if it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is. Think twice and carry out your research before you fall for any travel scams.
  • Never respond to emails asking for your personal details. When in doubt, simply place a call directly to the company.

Using the Equity in Your Home: It’s Not Just for Home Improvements!

If you’re a homeowner, chances are that you have equity in your home thanks to rising property prices. That’s why it comes as no surprise that many homeowners are tapping into the equity in their homes to get cash for home improvements. But, did you know there are lots of other ways you can use capital in your home?

With that said, you have several different loan options, including a home equity loan, HELOC (home equity line of credit), and even cash-out refinance. All these options can help make your life a lot easier in a number of ways.

Using Equity in Your Home to Pay for a Vacation
Taking a vacation is a crucial way to spend some time away from the hustle and bustle of work and life. It allows you to reinvigorate your mind, re-energize, and come back rejuvenated. The trouble, however, is that a vacation can be pricey.

So, instead of using a high-interest credit card or borrowing a personal loan, consider leveraging the equity in your home to finance your holiday getaway.

Plan a Wedding
It’s no big secret a wedding is a huge financial undertaking. From hiring the caterers and renting the venue to paying for a honeymoon and every expense in between, wedding planning needs a bottomless fund. That’s where a cash-out refinance of your mortgage can be useful.

Pay for Your Children’s Braces, Dental, Etc.
You want the very best for your little one – it’s only natural. But things like braces cost a fortune. Lucky for you, you can borrow against the equity in your home to ensure that your child has a fabulous smile.

Pay Off Student Loans
Did you know Americans owed over $1.3 trillion in student loan debt? If you’re among the four in 10 adults who owe a massive debt in student loans, you can use the equity in your home as your magic wand. It’ll help you pay it off sooner than later, saving lots of money on interest. Besides, HELOC or home equity loans can help you consolidate your student loans.

Get a Handle on Emergency Expenses
Unexpected expenses are part of life. Your car can break down, emergency medical bills can arise, and so forth. What can one do in such a situation? If you’ve got equity in your home, don’t run to payday lenders or loan sharks. Just top-off or redraw the amount you’ve paid in your mortgage, and you’re all set.

You can also take advantage of the equity in your home to pay off credit card debt, pay utility bills, and even invest in the stock market.