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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.

Planning Your 2019: Be Ready for This Year’s Expenses!

There’s nothing quite like going to faraway places to kick back and relax away from the troubles of life and work. That’s right – vacations and holidays are a great way to let off steam and get rejuvenated. But, let’s be honest – vacations don’t come cheap. The flight ticket, accommodations, travel insurances, visa processing fees, and other holiday expenses cost big money.

Whether you love to go overseas, spend a couple of weeks in a winter cottage, or even head out to Cabo for the weekend, here are planning tips that’ll help you save for holidays/vacations and get ready for 2019 expenses.

1. Do Your Research – Plan Early
The key to affording a vacation is being smart with your finances. And being smart implies that you need to not only save but also plan for the trip accordingly. Beyond that, you need to think about both your short-term and long-term goals. So, start researching hotel, flight, and holiday packages and early bird specials. For this, websites like Priceline, Kayak, Booking.com, and so forth can come in especially useful.

2. Avoid Premium Gym Membership
You might not realize it, but that gym membership might be putting a massive dent in your bank account. You see, most commercial gyms operate around the idea that you need to shell out money to lose weight and keep it off. That’s not true. Instead, try playing football, soccer, basketball, or other physically engaging sport over the weekend. A long run in the park or a swim at the beach can also suffice.

3. Minimize Car Use
If you’re looking to save enough for your trip, you need to drive less. Consider biking or walking whenever possible to save money that would have gone toward buying gas.

4. Try Meal Prepping
Meal prepping is the best way not only to eat healthily but also save time and money. The cash you could have to spend on expensive lunch out and snacks and go a long way in paying for your vacation.

5. Tips for Cutting Down Your Utility Bills
Utility bills make up the most significant part of your monthly spend. Although you might have energy-saving fixtures and appliances, you need to put in a proactive and consistent effort to bring down the cost of electricity, water, gas, and other utilities.

  • Turn off the tap when brushing your teeth
  • Trim your shower time by half
  • Switch off lights when not in use
  • Use fans in place of AC
  • Wear warmer clothes rather than cranking up the thermostat

These are just a few ways to save for your holiday and stay on top of your 2018 finances.

Enjoying Winter on a Budget in Vermont

Winter is a fabulous time to be in Vermont. Known for sizzling ski trails, including 30 cross-country touring centers, 20 alpine ski resorts, and nearly 3,000 hectares of mountainous terrain, the Green Mountain State is a slice of heaven for skiers. Even if you’re not a fan of skiing, there are tons of fantastic things to do and see in Vermont during winter.

From snowshoeing to savoring horseradish cheddar and everything in between, here are top things to do and see in Vermont that won’t break the bank:

Snowshoeing
Snowshoeing is ideal for the whole family. It’s a fabulous (and cost-effective) way to venture into Vermont’s snowy paradise, including fantastic stretches of forest and fields. Strap on your snow boots and enjoy tantalizing trails such as Big Bear Loop or Nebraska Notch. Either way, you’ll love the fresh alpine air.

Check Out Local Restaurants
Vermont is teeming with exotic and wonderful eats. From savory treats to mouth-watering burgers, Vermont is home to the most beautiful restaurants that won’t put a huge dent in your bank account.

Ice Fishing
Fishing in the fantastic lakes of Vermont is a summer treat you’ll never forget. But the fun doesn’t stop when the snow falls, and temperatures dip. Ice fishing is an ecstatic way to enjoy Vermont’s alluring outdoors during winter. There’s an array of smaller bodies of water and large ones like Lake Champlain.

Snowmobiling
Vermont boasts more than 5,000 miles of pure snowmobiling trails. These award-winning trails are known for breathtaking scenery as well as pristine maintenance. Riding with friends or family, snowmobiling in Vermont will simply knock your socks off. And the best part: it’ll only set you back a few hundred bucks.

Skiing and Snowboarding
Whether you’re on a tight budget or not, skiing in Vermont is a must-do. After all, skiing is what makes the state a fabulous winter destination. Enjoy a chairlift ride on Mt. Mansfield or a ski adventure at the ski tow in Woodstock farm; there’s something for everyone.

Visit a Country Store
Enjoy sizzling treats and an array of handmade toys and crafts. Vermont’s country stores will make your trip worthwhile.

Visit a Museum
Vermont is home to a plethora of amazing museums. You’ll love the Museum of Everyday Life. It’s quite fascinating and will make your lazy afternoon lively.
Enjoy a live show
There are several live theater and music concerts year-round in Vermont.

Sledding
Take your Vermont holiday to the next level by going sledding. It’s an elegant and inexpensive way to enjoy winter months in Vermont.

Spa
After all the skiing, snowshoeing, ice skating, and whatnot, pamper yourself with an excellent spa treatment.

There you are – fabulous things to do in Vermont on a budget!

3 Things You Can Do to Make a New Job a Reality

Is one of your goals in 2019 a new career? Maybe you have decided that a career switch would serve your life goals better, or you are returning to the job market after a long absence. Changing careers is not as easy as it should be, especially in the late 30s going forward. There are new skills to teach, new industry players to contend with, and most scary of all is that you are starting from the bottom all over again. However, a new career is possible with the right strategy.

Careful Industry Analysis
The easiest way to get a new job is by offering a skill that fills a need, at the right time. This means that you have to position yourself to make a move when the opportunity presents itself. The only way to do this is by analyzing the industry you want to work in. Do you want to work in the sports industry? Which games interest you the most, and which events are the most popular and in great demand? What are the needs in those events? If you are interested in football, for example, you could offer better talent scouting. Which teams do you think need new players? Which junior leagues are doing the best? These are the questions that could help you in this analysis.

Develop Niche Skills
Presenting unique value makes you marketable. Niche skills are those that set you apart from everyone else. If you have analyzed your choice industry well, you can identify the needs in the industry that are not being met easily, and develop skills to help you fill the gap.

In the football example, maybe there are very good players in some countries, but there are few players coming through because many talent scouts cannot negotiate in the local language. You can go ahead and learn the basics of the language, which would help you interact with football managers and good talent from that country. This way, you become the go-to expert in this field.

Develop Self-Marketing Skills
The truth is that these days, there are very few niche skills that are not saturated. This means that you have to work extra hard to rise above the competition. One proven method is networking. Follow industry players and opinion makers in your chosen industry. This can help you develop contacts in the field, which can help you learn about opportunities before the competition does.

Getting into a new career is all about being in the right place and the right time. Knowing the right people can make it happen faster.

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.