My Money Five

Monday, January 09 at 03:25 PM
Category: Personal Finance

Making the most of your money starts with five building blocks for managing and growing your money  The My Money Five. Keep these five principles in mind as you make day-to-day decisions and plan your financial goals. 

THE FIVE PRINCIPLES

Earn
The earn principle is about more than the amount you are paid through work. This principle is about knowing the fine print and details about your paycheck, including deductions and withholdings. To put it another way: In order to make the most of what you earn, it helps to understand your pay and benefits. Check out* actions you can take and more hints and tips to earn.
 
Save and invest
Saving is a key principle. People who make a habit of saving regularly, even saving small amounts, are well on their way to success. It’s important to open a bank or credit union account so it will be simple and easy for you to save regularly. Then, use your savings to plan for life events and to be ready for unplanned or emergency needs. Check out* actions you can take and more hints and tips to save and invest.    

Protect
The protect principle means taking precautions about your financial situation. It stresses the importance of accumulating savings in case of an emergency, and buying insurance. Be vigilant about identity theft, and keep aware of your credit record and credit score. Check out* actions you can take and more hints and tips to protect yourself.

Spend
The fundamental concept of spend is: make a budget or a plan for using your money wisely. It’s helpful to set short-term and long-term financial goals and manage your money to meet them. Check out* actions you can take and more hints and tips about spending.

Borrow
Sometimes it’s necessary to borrow for major purchases like an education, a car, a house, or maybe even to meet unexpected expenses. Your ability to get a loan generally depends on your credit history, and that depends largely on your track record at repaying what you’ve borrowed in the past and paying your bills on time. So, be careful to keep your credit history strong. Talk to your lender to learn about other considerations that determine loan eligibility. Check out* actions you can take and more hints and tips about borrowing.

As you focus on these foundational money management elements, you’ll be better able to manage your money in both the short term and long term.
 
Information courtesy of Mymoney.gov*.

Links marked with * go to a third-party site not operated or endorsed by Arvest Bank, an FDIC-insured institution.

Tags: Financial Education, Investing, Lending and Financing, Savings
 

Getting a Loan and Choosing a Lender: What You Need to Know

Wednesday, July 06 at 09:30 AM
Category: Personal Finance

Preparation is key to navigating today’s housing market. The American Bankers Association offers the following tips to help prepare potential homebuyers.

Know your own financial situation
Before you begin the home loan application process, determine what you can realistically afford. Take into consideration your credit score, how much debt you currently carry and what type of down payment you are prepared to make. While it’s not required, getting pre-qualified before any home purchase is a good idea since many sellers are requesting some kind of pre-qualification documentation prior to negotiating the home sale.  

Have your documents ready 
While each bank may require different documentation, you may be required to furnish the following information depending on your employment and financial situation:
  • Pay stubs
  • Tax returns
  • Financial statements (one that is less than 60 days old)
  • Copies of additional monthly payments such as car loans, credit cards, and student loans
  • Any other information (such as proof of additional income) you think will help your banker to positively evaluate your credit request positively.
Review the basics
Knowing the fundamentals of the home loan process is an excellent way to prepare to choose the right mortgage. Make sure you are familiar with interest rates, loan terms and additional fees associated with buying a home. 
 
Compare quotes
Beyond the interest rates, there are closing fees and points and commissions. You will want to compare these for all the lenders on your list. There are several calculators available online that will help you determine which loan provides the best value.
 
Choose a trusted lender
Get references from family and friends and do your research. Call your local Better Business Bureau and ask if it has had complaints about any of the lenders you are considering. Keep in mind, federally insured banks are required to operate under a high level of regulatory supervision. A fully regulated bank may be your best choice. 

Read between the lines
Slick TV ads, telemarketers or door-to-door salespeople will often offer fast, easy loans for houses, cars and home repair but not disclose all of the details. In some cases the interest rate quotes may include an origination charge so at first it may look attractive, but keep in mind it will cost an origination fee. Read the fine print. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
 
Ask questions
When in doubt, ask for clarification from your lender. Discuss how long the loan process will take, how you will communicate – by phone or email, and who will service your loan. 

Information courtesy of American Bankers Association.

Tags: Financial Education, Home Loans, Lending and Financing, Mortgage
 

Get Up to Speed on Auto Financing

Monday, February 15 at 09:05 AM
Category: Personal Finance
Lenders consider a number of factors to determine whether you qualify for financing and how large a loan you can reasonably repay. These factors include your credit score, debt and income level and collateral value.

The credit score will tell them your credit worthiness or how well you have paid debt in the past. Income and debt load will help the bank to determine your ability to repay. A higher collateral value relative to the loan size will be viewed positively by the bank.
 
Pre-Approved Financing 
Many lenders will pre-qualify you for a certain loan amount based on your income and credit history. You'll know approximately how much car you can afford and be able to compare your financing deal with financing options offered by the dealership. The ability to compare rates could lead to a lower interest rate and ultimately a lower cost to you.

Financing Options
  • Dealer Financing. The big advantage of dealer financing is convenience. You buy and finance the car at the point of sale. The dealer acts as a middle man between you and the financing source, but remember the dealer expects to be compensated for this service so the final rate you pay may not be the best available. Be sure to always compare your pre-qualified rate to the rate the dealer is offering. Dealers may also offer special rates or a discounted price (incentive) from the auto manufacturer to reduce inventory. You will want to compare the lowered rate with the incentive to determine which is a better deal for you. You may save money by taking the incentive and negotiating your own loan rate.
  • Banks. You may get a lower interest rate at a bank than a dealership, especially if you are an existing bank customer. They may require a 10-20 percent down payment to cover the depreciation of the car in case you default on your loan. Smaller banks offer personal relationships, which are important, but may not be able to compete with rates of bigger banks. 
  • Home Equity Loans. You can use your home as collateral for the loan which can be a little bit scary. If you can't pay the loan, the bank can take your house. But, if you're sure you can afford it, a home equity loan is a great way to go because you may get a lower interest rate and your interest may be tax deductible. 
  • The Internet. As with everything else these days, you can shop for car loans on the internet. You miss out on any kind of personal relationship, but you can get quick approval and competitive pricing.
  • Trade-in. Your old vehicle may have value that can be used to reduce the amount you finance on your new auto purchase. The dealer will determine a value for your vehicle and you can apply that amount to the new transaction less any loan balance on the trade-in. You may also consider selling your current auto yourself. Trading to the dealer is more convenient, but you will probably get more money for your auto if you sell it privately.
Negative Equity
The value of a new car drops dramatically as soon as you drive it off the lot. That's because it becomes a used car. It doesn't matter you only used it for five minutes; it's still used and is worth much less because of that fact.

This depreciation is an important concept to understand when dealing with financing because while the value of your car drops immediately, your loan principal drops more gradually. So if you try to sell the car too soon, you may end up owing more on it than you can sell it for. That's called negative equity.
 
You can avoid getting into negative equity situations by following these simple rules:
  1. Keep your car until it is paid off completely. Obviously, no matter how much your car depreciates, you won't have negative equity if you don't owe anything.
  2. Don't buy a car that is too expensive. If you struggle too much to make the payments, you may decide to sell the car earlier than is financially prudent.
  3. Don't drag out your payments. You might get a slightly better interest rate and your monthly payment will be smaller. But, it will staple you to that car for the financing term. Five years later you'll still be paying for a car that may no longer fit your needs.
  4. Make the biggest down payment you can. This will help offset the impact of depreciation and start giving you some positive equity.
As you become informed about different sources of auto financing, you place yourself in a better position to make the best possible decision for your situation.  

Blog edited by Blog Admin on 3/14/16.

Tags: Financial Education, Lending and Financing
 

Refinancing Auto Loans a Lesser-Known Money-Saving Option

Monday, February 01 at 08:30 AM
Category: Personal Finance

We advise how to determine whether refinancing is a viable move.

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – While homeowners are aware of the benefits of refinancing, many consumers are not aware they can refinance their automobiles.

For most consumers, an automobile loan is the second-largest note they incur. Kelley Blue Book (KBB), one of the most trusted industry and consumer sources for new and used automobile pricing, estimated the average cost of a new vehicle in 2015 at $34,500. With rising automobile prices, the option to refinance automobile loans can be appealing, saving consumers hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars on the remainder of their loan.  

In contrast to refinancing a home mortgage, auto loan refinancing is easier and requires minimal fees. How do consumers determine if it’s the right option? 

They should begin by reviewing the terms, interest rate, balance, payoff amount and the payoff date of the current loan agreement. Refinancing could be a good option if:

-- The loan interest rate is significantly higher than current interest rates. Refinancing can reduce monthly payments, the total loan amount or the length of the loan. For example, an individual in the second year of paying off a six-year car note of $35,000 at 8.5 percent interest who refinances the loan at 5.5 percent could save $35 a month, reducing the total loan cost by $1,680.

-- The current loan is a long-term loan. Because many new cars and trucks now cost upward of $50,000 and more, many car companies are offering car loans of six or more years to keep monthly payments affordable. Taking advantage of lower interest rates that many banks offer during promotion periods can reduce the length of a longer loan while keeping payments reasonable. While the monthly payments may remain the same, slightly increase or slightly decrease, depending on the lower interest rate, the borrower will save money in the long run because the length of the loan is reduced.

-- The borrower’s credit score has improved. Qualifications for lower-interest loans improve with a higher credit score, so refinancing is worth exploring.

-- The borrower’s financial situation has changed. Borrowers who need more monthly cash on hand or who are in danger of defaulting on a loan may consider refinancing to extend the life of their loan for the purpose of reducing monthly payments. This option will not save money, and may increase the total cost of the loan, but it is an option for lowering monthly payments.

-- Making a large payment against the principal amount is possible. When someone receives a bonus, a tax refund or an inheritance, they may have a lump sum available to pay down their note. This can be a great way to refinance because a lower rate might be possible and a shorter-term loan can save significant money and get the car paid off sooner.

The majority of auto loans are structured to pay off interest at the beginning of the loan, so the first few years of paying on the loan are the best time to consider refinancing; however, borrowers may refinance at any time during the payment period.

Tags: Credit Score, Financial Education, Lending and Financing, Press Release
 

Equipment Leasing vs. Other Financing Options

Wednesday, December 16 at 08:45 AM
Category: Business Banking

A good way to keep a business moving ahead without jeopardizing operating capital is to consider equipment leasing. Buying a piece of equipment with cash on hand might make sense in some situations, but leasing that same piece of equipment can have benefits not readily apparent to some business owners.

ELFA or the Equipment Leasing and Finance Association, an industry organization that monitors equipment leasing and financing companies across the country, released the results of its 40th annual survey of the industry at the end of July. It reported the industry saw new business volume grow by 6.7 percent in 2014, the fifth consecutive year that businesses have increased their spending on capital equipment. 
 
ELFA also reported in its “What’s Hot, What’s Not In Equipment Leasing for 2015” report that, according to a survey of members in 2014, leasing construction equipment, railroad equipment, trucks and/or trailers and machine tools remain high for 2015 and the aircraft and hi-tech equipment and computer equipment categories improved the most in year-over-year comparisons. Categories include agriculture, aircraft, construction, industrial and manufacturing technology, IT/computer, medical equipment, oil and gas, railroad and trucking. 
 
There are five major benefits that come to mind that argue in favor of leasing equipment rather than buying it outright or financing equipment purchases. 
 
One of the most important reasons to lease needed equipment rather than buy it outright is being able to keep operating cash in order to do what it needs to do – operate the business. This is an important benefit for startup businesses to consider. Some businesses may need more than a year’s worth of operating capital on hand to successfully navigate opening. That can be hard to accumulate; there is no need to tie up needed funds by spending it to buy equipment right at the start. 
 
Second, some business owners may be able to get 100 percent of the amount financed, rather than having to pay a down payment in order to finance purchase of the same equipment through a more traditional loan. 
 
Another advantage to leasing equipment is that the terms for leases may be much more flexible than those for purchase loans. A leasing representative may have more opportunities to structure the plan and payments in a way that is favorable to a business owners’ fiscal schedule. Traditional purchase loans usually are much more rigidly structured and may not work as well with a business’ calendar. 
 
A big advantage to leasing equipment is that leased or rented equipment is considered differently on the balance sheet than purchased equipment, and therefore, usually creates a tax advantage to the business rather than a tax liability. When a business pays for equipment with cash, it is paying for that equipment with post-tax dollars, which is essentially adding those taxes to the sales price of the equipment itself. Leasing equipment may allow the owner to use pre-tax dollars and classify that expense as a deduction against revenues before taxes. Since the leasing company retains ownership of the equipment during the long-term rental agreement, the owner can then write off the lease payment as an expense. Talk to your accountant to find out if leasing will benefit your business at tax time. 
 
And finally, another benefit to leasing equipment is that professionals will evaluate the equipment for the business owner, there is no need to be an expert about the equipment in order to know the exact value of it. And some lease terms may allow for periodic upgrades to the equipment so the business can have the most up-to-date equipment on hand to benefit the customers. That can be a major advertising point for a business in a crowded and competitive market. 
 
Leasing equipment may make more sense for some businesses than others. Please talk with your accountant or financial planner to find out if your business is one that can benefit. 
 
Tags: Arvest Biz, Business Banking, Equipment Finance, Lending and Financing

Choose one or more categories to subscribe to:




Cancel