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How Much is My Car Worth?

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Vehicle value can help sell your car for the best trade-in value, buy a car at a fair price, or minimize car depreciation in your current car.

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Car owners have many tools available to them. There are several car value guides to use, and these sites often include other useful tools like checking for recalls, car maintenance tips, and even vehicle reviews.

 

If you are selling a car, you want to get the best price for the vehicle you’re selling.

 

If you are buying a car, you want to know what you can afford, and make sure you’re getting a fair price for the vehicle you want to buy.

 

If you are applying for a title loan, then you want an estimate for the loan amount you can get for a percentage of your car’s value.

 

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Make use of these tools so you can get the most out of your car. Understanding car depreciation and the value of your vehicle can help you sell, buy, or use your car for a title loan.

 

What is Car Depreciation?

 

Car depreciation is one of the main determiners of your car’s worth. It is a calculation that figures out a vehicle’s market value based on factors that impact a car’s overall worth.

 

The concept was first invented in the era of trains. People wanted a way to figure out how much a train got “used up” so that they could more accurately calculate the amount of wear and tear a train had gone through over its lifetime. This then became how we determine the new value of used vehicles in general.

 

What Causes Car Depreciation?

 

The minute you buy a vehicle it begins to lose its value. Your car can lose more than 10% of its original value just by driving it off the lot you bought it from. It can then drop another 20% in the first 12 months of use, and then another 10% each following year.

 

Many variables contribute to a car’s value depreciation including maintenance, mileage, history, condition, and features.

 

Maintenance

 

To maintain market value as much as possible, stay up to date on car maintenance. Your car needs regular check ups to make sure everything is running smoothly and working properly.

 

Regular car maintenance includes items like, changing the oil, checking the battery status, checking the tire pressure, replacing brake pads, replacing air filters, checking hoses and belts, changing the spark plugs, and replacing wiper blades.

 

Mileage

 

Put simply, the more mileage a vehicle has, the less value it has. In fact, mileage can sometimes have more impact on a car’s worth than the age of the car. A car that’s only a year old but has almost 100,000 miles on it already could have less market value than an older car with only 20,000 miles on it.

 

History

 

The history of the car, its owners, maintenance and service, and accident history are all very important to determining car worth.

 

If the car has been in any accidents that will appear on the car’s history. If the car has had 10 different owners that will also be on the history report. If the car has received regular maintenance or any kinds of fixes, all of that information will be on the report.

 

What is and isn’t on the history report will influence the monetary value. For instance, if a car hasn’t been regularly maintained, it won’t maintain as much market value.

 

Condition

 

Overall car condition can include many items like the condition of the interior, the seats, or the paint job.

 

These are surface items that influence a car’s buyability. For instance, a car that works well but the seats are all ripped up won’t have as much value as a car that works well, and the seats are in good condition.

 

Features

 

The features that the car does or doesn’t have also have a determining say in the market value.

 

If your car is missing features that are considered standard for any car, its value will go down. If your car has features that are considered bonuses that any car owner would love to have, its value will go up. Additional features that are considered more like personal preferences than standard or luxury features can actually make a car’s value go down as well.

 

Basic or standard car features include things like powered windows or working AC. Luxury or bonus features could be things like a sunroof or a digital display. Additional features are things that someone might personally enjoy like oversized tires or adding a lift.

 

How to Minimize Car Depreciation

 

You can’t completely stop the value of your car from depreciating, but you can minimize car depreciation or slow the process down. By using your car less, doing more maintenance, and buying vehicles that hold their value better, you can maintain your car’s market value longer.

 

Decrease Car Use

 

By using your car less it will take on less wear and tear. It will also accumulate less mileage, which is the real aging component for cars.

 

Experts recommend you don’t drive your car more than 10,000 miles a year. It is after this mileage point that your vehicle starts to be considered more heavily used.

 

Use alternative forms of transportation when you can like taking public transit, riding a bike, or joining a carpool.

 

Increase Car Maintenance

 

Make sure you are in the very least keeping up with basic, routine maintenance. To increase value even more, increase that basic level of maintenance to go above and beyond in your vehicle’s care.

 

Many mechanics recommend what they call the 30-60-90 rule for how often you should take your car in for maintenance. This means you should take your car in for maintenance at every 30,000 mileage milestone, so at 30,000 miles, 60,000 miles, 90,000 miles and so on.

 

But you can go beyond this basic care by doing things like, keeping your car in a garage instead of out in the weather, washing your car on a regular basis, not eating inside the car, or shampooing or cleaning the upholstery regularly can all help maintain your car’s overall condition and value.

 

How Much is My Car Worth?

 

Your car’s worth mostly depends on car depreciation. In a nutshell, car depreciation is how a car’s value decreases. Several factors impact how much a car’s value depreciates and thus how much it is worth on the market.

 

Your car’s worth also depends on how you sell or where you buy. Buying and selling with a dealership

 

Trade-In Value vs Private Sale

 

Selling yourself will usually get you a higher price for your car because there’s the added cost of you doing the work as the seller. Selling your car to a dealership or junkyard will get you less for your car because that work is instead being taken on by the dealership, not you.

 

The pros to private sales is that you could make more money, but the con here is that you have to do a lot more work yourself to get your car sold. The pro of selling to a dealership is that there is a lot less work and time involved on your part. But you might lose out on some money from the sale.

 

Car Worth and Title Loans

 

Maybe you aren’t buying or selling a car, maybe instead you’re trying to get an estimate for a title loan.

 

Usually, title loan amounts are based on a percentage of your car’s current market value. Just as an example, if your car is worth $1,000 and the title loan provider offers loan amounts that are 40% of your car’s worth, then you could possibly get a $400 title loan.

 

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Rates, fees, interest, and the loan provider you choose will all determine the factors that go into your loan approval process and how much you can get for a title loan. Talk to your title loan provider to learn more about what kind of loan amounts they offer.

 

Car Value Guides

 

Car value guides are a great tool to help figure out how much your car is worth. They are the most accurate place to find up to date vehicle value because they have so much data to back up their calculations. They even have data from actual vehicle transactions.

 

Some of the most reputable car value guides are Kelley Blue Book, the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) Guide, and Edmunds. These references take into account everything that affects your car’s value like seasonal trends, local markets, geographical region, condition, and mileage.

 

In Conclusion,

 

Get the most out of your car by taking out a Check City Title Loan. Search your vehicle in the Kelley Blue Book or Nada Guide and contact your local Check City to see what loan amounts might be available to you.

What is a Title Loan?

What is a Title Loan

Learn what a title loan is and how title loans work. What makes a title loan different from other loans?

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What is a Title Loan?

 

Title loans can also be called car title loans, secured loans, or collateral loans. They are usually a loan product with a small borrowing amount and short repayment period. The unique feature with this loan is that it uses the title of a vehicle as the loan collateral.

 

Loan collateral is whatever the loan product uses to back up or secure the loan. It’s an insurance that helps mitigate the risks the lender takes on when letting customers borrow money.

 

In this case, the loan collateral is the title of your vehicle, most often a car, and the value behind that personal asset.

 

What are the Title Loan Requirements?

 

As with any financial product, there are a few things you’ll need to meet application requirements and secure the funds you need. Some things you might need to qualify for this type of loan include:

 

  • The vehicle
  • The vehicle’s title
  • The vehicle’s registration
  • Personal identification like a driver’s license
  • Proof of income or proof of employment

 

These are some basics you will probably need to secure a title loan. But there may be other things you’ll need to bring or have ready depending on the lender you choose.

 

Always double check with the loan provider by visiting the website or calling the store location to make sure you have everything you need to finish the application.

 

Vehicle, Title, Registration

 

The most important thing you’ll need is the vehicle and the title and registration to that vehicle.

 

The lender will need to make sure all the vehicle’s documents are correct, give the vehicle a quick inspection to assess its value, make sure you are the owner, and see that there are no other liens on the title. They call this a “clear title.”

 

A clear title is a vehicle title that has no other liens on it, or no other loans on the vehicle. It means you aren’t currently using that vehicle for any other title loans, and you own the vehicle outright.

 

You’ll need a clear title in order to use that vehicle for a loan application.

 

Lenders rarely like to let borrowers take out multiple loans on one car. The more liens you have on a vehicle, the riskier your loans become. That’s why lenders want the title of your vehicle to be clear of other liens before you can take out a title loan on that car.

 

Personal Identification

 

Typical personal identification for loans includes things like your passport, driver’s license, or any other form of official, government-issued identification.

 

This will give lenders basic information about your identity so that they can recognize you and contact you. It will also help them make sure you are who you say you are and match your identification with the owner of the vehicle.

 

Along with a form of personal identification, you’ll probably also need to provide some basic personal contact information. This could include things like your phone number, address, and email.

 

Proof of Income

 

Many lenders require proof of income or proof of employment in order for customers to secure a loan. This helps the lender know whether the customer can pay back the loan.

 

Responsible lenders don’t want to set their customers up for failure. Instead, they want their customers to be set up for financial success. This is easier when income and employment can be verified before a loan is given out.

 

How Do Title Loans Work

 

Like many small, short-term loans, the title loan process is very simple and quick. First, find a title loan provider near you, like Check City.

 

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Once at the store, the friendly representatives will perform a quick inspection and help you complete a quick title loan application.

 

When the application and inspection are complete, you’ll be offered a loan amount based on the value of your car.

 

Then you can accept your funds and drive away with the cash you need all in the same day.

 

How Much Can I Borrow on a Title Loan?

 

Lender’s usually base the loan amount you can borrow on the value of your vehicle. Different lenders use different systems to determine this value.

 

To get a rough estimate of how much you might be able to borrow, look up your vehicle’s worth on sites like Kelley Blue Book, or the NADA Guide.

 

You can also contact your loan provider to see which guide they use when determining your car’s value for a title loan. They might also have a percentage of your vehicle’s value that they generally offer for title loans.

 

How to Get a Title Loan at Check City

 

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At Check City, we make money solutions like title loans, easy and simple. We understand that when you need a money solution you need it fast.

 

That’s why we keep our application process as simple as possible so you can get the funds you need as quickly as possible.

 

All you need to do to get a title loan at Check City is follow 3 easy steps:

 

Step 1: Bring the Required Items to a Nearby Check City Store

 

To finish a title loan application at Check City, you’ll need to visit a store location. You’ll want to bring your basic contact information, government ID, social security number, check or bank statement, proof of income, vehicle, title, and registration.

 

Once you are at the store with all the things you need, you can easily fill out one of our quick application forms.

 

Step 2: We’ll Perform a Quick Vehicle Inspection

 

Check City will perform a quick vehicle inspection and finish processing your application. This inspection will help determine how much you can get out of your title loan.

 

Step 3: Get Approved and Get Cash

 

If you are approved, then you’ll be offered a loan amount based on a percentage of your vehicle’s value. At Check City, you then get to keep your car and drive away with the money you needed.

 

Alternatives to a Title Loan

 

Title Loans can be a great financial solution for people who want to use their car as loan collateral and need a fast, small, short-term loan.

 

But title loans aren’t for everyone. You might not own your car outright, or your car’s value might not be enough to get you the funds you need.

 

For other loan options, you can look into getting a payday loan, a personal loan, or an installment loan.

 

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These are loan options that use more traditional forms of collateral to secure a loan, so you don’t have to worry about including your vehicle in the loan application process.

 

In Conclusion,

 

Title loans can be a quick and convenient loan option for anyone who needs a small, short-term loan. Just remember that your car’s title will need to be free and clear of any other liens, and that short-term loans like title loans are not meant to be a long-term financial solution.

What is a Signature Loan?

What-is-a-Signature-Loan

Learn what a signature loan is and how it can get you the cash you need.

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What is a Signature Loan?

 

Signature loans are a type of unsecured loans that are backed by the customer’s signature. Sometimes these loans can also be known as a “good faith loan” or a “character loan” because they are backed more by the character of the customer than traditional loan collateral.

 

Because this is a more high-risk loan type, it might be difficult to qualify for a signature loan or avoid higher interest rates. Not all loan providers offer them, but when they do, they might have customer requirements like several forms of contact information, government identification, proof of income, proof of address, and even character references.

 

How Does a Signature Loan Work?

 

To get a signature loan, you first need to find a loan provider that offers them.

 

Once you find a loan provider, you’ll have to meet whatever requirements and qualifications they might have for this loan type.

 

These requirements might include proving your identity and your trustworthiness with contact information, credit history, and even personal references.

 

If you meet all of their requirements and your application is accepted, then take out the loan usually by signing some papers or a post-dated check to act as your collateral or loan payment.

 

Reasons to Get a Signature Loan

 

Like many other kinds of high-risk loans, signature loans can be expensive. To compensate for the higher risk they take, loan providers might require more qualifications when applying for this loan type and a higher interest rate.

 

Despite the cons, there are still pros to consider.

 

Signature loans can have a quick application and funding process so long as you get approved. This can help you get the funds you need faster.

 

This loan type can offer quick access to the funds you need in an emergency like your car breaking down or bills being overdue. It could also make up the difference you need to pay for something important.

 

Signature Loans vs Revolving Credit

 

Revolving credit is like a continuous line of credit. Rather than taking out a set loan amount and paying it off with a fixed payment plan, revolving credit gives you access to a continuous credit amount you can use.

 

Credit cards are a type of revolving credit. They offer access to a set amount of credit (also known as a credit limit) and you don’t have to reapply to regain access to that same credit amount. You always have it so long as you have the credit card account.

 

Revolving credit differs from a signature loan because signature loans are not a line of credit. Instead, they are a one time loan you apply for, receive, and payoff. If you want more credit from a signature loan, you’ll need to reapply for another individual loan.

 

Signature Loans vs Installment Loans

 

Signature loans and installment loans are more similar in that they are both a single use credit option. Both come with requirements, applications, and set payment plans. They also can both be used for personal reasons, unlike other loans (like a mortgage) that are only taken out for one purpose (to buy a home).

 

But signature loans are not the same as installment loans. Usually installment loans offer larger loan amounts than signature loans, which usually offer smaller loan amounts. Signature loans usually come with a shorter loan term and a shorter payment plan.

 

Because the nature of each loan type is different, they will also come with different terms and conditions, rates and fees, qualification requirements, and application process.

 

The details of your loan agreement will depend on the lender and the way they have their loan products set up.

 

How to Get a Signature Loan at Check City

 

Check City lives to make the lives of our customers easier. That’s why we put extra time and care into making our loan process simple and quick.

 

To get a signature loan, you’ll need to fill out an application, provide the Signature Loan requirements, and wait to get approved.

 

To Get a Signature Loan You’ll Need:

 

Because this financial product isn’t backed by traditional loan collateral, you’ll need to meet different qualifications in the application process for this loan. Basically, qualifying for this loan boils down to proving you can repay the loan and proving you are likely to be a responsible borrower and repay the loan.

 

What You’ll Need:

 

  • Basic Contact Information
  • Government ID
  • Proof of Income (applicants need to be employed for a minimum of 6 months)
  • Proof of Address
  • 2 References

 

Can I Get a Signature Loan with Poor Credit?

 

If you have bad credit and need a loan, you’re probably looking for loans that don’t require credit checks as part of the collateral.

 

Unfortunately, it’s very common for most loans to have some kind of credit check involved in the application process, even many signature loans out there.

 

Luckily, there are many things you can do to increase your credit score so you can more easily apply for whatever financial services you need.

 

In Conclusion,

 

Signature loans can be really helpful for borrowers who need a simple, small loan. At Check City we understand that sometimes you just need a helping hand to get back on your own two feet financially.

 

We also understand that sometimes what you need isn’t a giant bank loan, but a small loan from a short-term lender like us. Visit Check City online and in stores today to learn more about the Check City Signature Loan and other financial solutions available to you.

 

written by Kimber Severance, Check City Finance Writer

What is a Cash Advance and How Does it Work?

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What is a cash advance and how do they work? Get a cash advance online today at Check City.

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What is a Cash Advance?

 

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A cash advance is a type of small loan designed to help borrowers get the cash they need as quickly and easily as possible.

 

In finance, getting an advance on something is usually a way to get something sooner than you normally would. A cash advance loan helps customers get cash from their paycheck sooner rather than later so they can have the finances they need today.

 

Cash Advance Definition

 

There are many kinds of loans. Cash advances are another way of referring to payday loans. Instead of waiting for a paycheck or a payment to come through, a cash advance helps you get those funds sooner.

 

How Does a Cash Advance Work?

 

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Since cash advances are small, short-term loans, they are much easier and quicker to take out than larger loans with longer repayment plans.

 

Getting a cash advance is simple and easy to do. The person taking out the cash advance gives a post-dated check to the cash advance lender in the amount they would like to borrow. On their next payday, the borrower pays off the loan amount and the lender’s fee.

 

Types of Cash Advances

 

There are a few different types of cash advance options that borrowers who need money can use.

 

Payday Cash Advance

 

One type of cash advance is a payday loan. These are small, short-term loans that are borrowed only for the time until a borrower’s next payday. This is where the term “payday loan” comes in.

 

These types of loans are designed to get a person to their next payday and they are paid off with their next paycheck. They often have loan amounts that are only a few hundred dollars and loan terms that last only a matter of weeks.

 

Cash Advance on Income Tax Refund

 

Another useful cash advance option that some lenders provide is a tax refund advance.

 

Taxpayers don’t generally receive their tax refund until after their taxes are filed and after the IRS is finished processing those filed taxes.

 

Instead of waiting all that time for your tax refund money, take out a tax refund advance and enjoy those funds sooner.

 

Credit Card Cash Advance

 

The third type of cash advance is an advance on your credit card. If your credit card provider allows credit card cash advances, then you can take out cash at a bank or ATM with your credit card.

 

Fees and restrictions may apply for each cash advance transaction taken out using a credit card.

 

Reasons to Get a Cash Advance

 

There are many reasons to get a cash advance. The primary reason is to get your money sooner rather than later.

 

Many borrowers take out cash advances because they need those funds sooner rather than later in order to pay bills or make time-sensitive purchases.

 

At Check City, you can take out a cash advance to get your paycheck or tax refund sooner.

 

Here are a few specific examples of when someone might want to take out a cash advance.

 

  • So they aren’t late paying rent
  • So they aren’t late paying utility bills
  • So they aren’t late paying the phone bill
  • To take advantage of time-sensitive sales
  • To avoid needing to take money out of a savings account or emergency fund
  • To get funds into your hands sooner for everyday expenses like groceries
  • To avoid high overdraft fees

 

Cash advances are an important and useful tool to help control your own finances. They help you finance on your own schedule and get your funds in time to stick to your financial plans.

 

How to Get a Cash Advance at Check City

 

There are two ways to get a cash advance at Check City—online or at a Check City location.

 

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How to Get a Cash Advance Online

 

  1. Fill out a cash advance application.
  2. Check City will review the application.
  3. If approved, you’ll set up direct deposit to receive your funds and pay off the loan amount on the due date.

 

Your cash advance funds will then be directly deposited into your account or given in cash within 24 hours.

 

How to Get a Cash Advance Near You

 

  1. Walk into any Check City Location and fill out an application.
  2. If approved, write a personal check† for the loan amount you need (plus our standard fee). Check City will hold the check until your next payday (or another date you specify) and then cash the check to repay the loan.
  3. Walk away with your cash loan upon approval.

 

Cash Advance Requirements

 

Cash advance loans should be used for short-term financial needs only, not as a long-term financial solution. If you are experiencing credit difficulties, we encourage you to seek credit counseling. Although we strive to assist every applicant, not all loan applications will be approved.

 

  • Basic Contact Information
  • Government ID
  • Social Security Number
  • Check or Bank Statement
  • Proof of Income

 

Cash Advance Alternatives

 

If you are looking for an alternative to cash advances, you could try taking out a personal loan. Personal loans are another great option when you are tight on finances and need some help.

 

Personal Loans

 

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Personal loans are a flexible loan type that can be taken out for any personal reason. For example, unlike a business loan, personal loans don’t have to be used for a set, official purpose.

 

This makes personal loans a great additional option for borrowers who need quick personal funds.

 

Peer to Peer Borrowing

 

You could also borrow money from a friend or family member. This is an especially helpful option when you only need to borrow a little and have someone in your life that you trust as a lender.

 

But borrowing money from people we know can also get complicated, which is why options like personal loans and cash advances might still be your best option.

 

In Conclusion,

 

Cash advances are an important small loan solution that many people need and use. When used responsibly, a cash advance can be the perfect, short-term solution for a short-term financial problem.

 

written by Kimber Severance, Check City Finance Writer

30 Tips for How to Save Money

How-to-Save-Money

Everyone wants to save money, but it’s not always easy to do. Learn some of the best ways to save money with these easy tips.

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Generally, when we think about a savings plan we think about all the sacrifices we need to make—no more morning coffee, no more eating out, or biking to work in the rain.

 

But saving money is more dynamic than the typical financial sacrifices we think about. There is so much more you can do to save money than simply depriving yourself of a simple item like morning coffee.

 

Ultimately, there are two ways to save money—by increasing your paycheck or by decreasing your spending.

 

Money Saving Tips to Increase Income

 

How-to-Save-Money

 

By increasing your income you’ll be adding to the amount of money you have available each month. Adding to your income can be the key solution to financial shortages that keep you from saving more.

 

Tip #1: Ask for a Raise

 

Asking for a raise from your boss can be intimidating. Try setting up a meeting with your boss to discuss the raise. Then practice your talking points beforehand with a friend or in front of a mirror.

 

It also helps to do a little research beforehand to see what the current market rates are like in your area and your job field. This will help you understand how much you should be making.

 

Tip #2: Find a Better-Paying Job

 

If you can’t get a raise at your current job, it could be time to start looking for a new and better job. The change may be necessary and worthwhile if it will give you a better financial situation.

 

Tip #3: Start a Second Job

 

A side hustle to bring in some extra income each month could be just what you need to make your monthly finances more comfortable. There are so many things you can do like freelancing, driving for a rideshare, or starting your own small business or online shop.

 

Tip #4: Sell Your Stuff

 

If you have things in your house you want to get rid of, make good use of them by selling them. You could have a yard sale or use an online service like the Facebook marketplace.

 

Tip #5: Set Up Passive Income

 

Passive income is the type of earnings people get from things like owning rental properties or shares in a company or business partnership. You could invest in a rental property, invest in a business, or become a partner in a business venture to start earning passive income.

 

Tip #6: Start Investing

 

Investing can be a great way to start receiving passive income or make high returns and profits for the future.

 

Tip #7: Grow a Garden and Sell the Produce

 

By growing your own produce garden you can both make and save money. Depending on how big your garden is, you can sell your garden produce to friends and neighbors.

 

Tip #8: Get Rid of Debts and Loans

 

The more debts you have the less you have for yourself each month. By getting rid of debts and loans you’ll have more income each month for necessities, fun, and the future.

 

Money Savings Tips to Decrease Spending

 

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By decreasing your spending you’ll also increase your monthly income. You’ll have more money to put toward getting rid of debts and building your savings and emergency funds.

 

Tip #9: Cancel Subscriptions

 

Subscriptions can add up to be a lot if you aren’t careful. End as many subscriptions as you can to save that monthly fee for yourself.

 

Tip #10: Join Family or Group Subscription Plans

 

Don’t want to say goodbye to that subscription? That’s ok! Another thing you can try is starting a family plan with friends and family to split the cost of the subscription.

 

Tip #11: Cancel Memberships

 

Some memberships can be really useful, like a membership to Costco where you can buy in bulk and save more in the long term, or a membership to a gym where you can work out and stay healthy.

 

But if you can, cancel your memberships and find free or cheaper alternatives, like a cheaper gym or running in your neighborhood instead.

 

Tip #12: Switch to a Cheaper Phone Plan

 

Phone bills can get really expensive, especially when they include paying off expensive new phones. While it’s really nice to have a great phone and a great phone plan, there might be cheaper options out there for you to take advantage of.

 

Tip #13: Eat at Home

 

Eating out is usually more expensive than eating at home. By baking and cooking at home you can save more money and potentially eat healthier and more wholesome meals.

 

Tip #14: Meal and Grocery Plan

 

Prepare for grocery shopping before you go to the store and prepare for making meals this week before the week starts. This will help you eat home on a regular basis and keep you from overspending while out at the store.

 

Tip #15: Pack a Lunch for Work or School

 

We all need to eat during the school or work day. Save money while taking better care of yourself by packing healthy meals instead of eating out during your lunch break.

 

Tip #16: Switch to Cheaper Generic Brands

 

Brands tend to come with a price tag of their own. Choose wisely and avoid paying extra simply for a name brand.

 

Tip #17: Plan Free Activities

 

When it’s time to have fun choose activities that don’t involve your wallet. Plan a staycation, go hiking, plan a camping trip, play games, or watch the movies you already have at home.

 

Tip #18: Save on Transportation

 

Save your wallet while helping save the planet! Use public transportation, walk, ride your bike, or carpool to save on gas costs.

 

Tip #19: Reduce Utility Bills

 

Spend less on your utility bill by using less power each day. Run less water, keep the AC off on nice days, and turn lights off when not in the room. You could even want to look into more inexpensive energy solutions or providers for your utilities.

 

Tip #20: Invest in Reusable Products

 

Reusable products can save you lots of money in the long term. For example, buy cloth towels instead of rebuying paper towels or get reusable tupperware and ziplock bags instead of rebuying plastic wrap and plastic ziplock bags.

 

Tip #21: Use Coupons

 

Watch out for deals and keep an eye on the coupons that are out there whenever you go shopping. Apps like honey can help find deals no matter where you shop online. Don’t miss out on deals that will save you money!

 

Tip #22: Do It Yourself

 

We can’t all be masters of everything, but when you do find an opportunity to do something yourself and save money, take it!

 

Tip #23: Save Extra Money Instead of Spending It

 

Control the urge to spend when you get extra money like a raise, a bonus, or a tax refund. By putting that money aside instead you can build up a much larger fund.

 

Tip #24: Build an Emergency Fund

 

An emergency fund will save you money in the future when a financial emergency arises, and you are already prepared with a family savings you’ve set aside just for emergencies.

 

Tip #25: Automate Your Spending

 

You spend less the more you are able to control that spending. The most effective way to control spending is to automate it as much as possible. Automating expenses like your bill payments can also sometimes get you discounts, better rates, or rewards.

 

Tip #26: Buy in Bulk

 

Keep an eye on the price per unit to make sure you’re actually getting a better deal when buying in bulk. If it is cheaper to buy that item in bulk, then you could save lots of money and be more stocked up and prepared in the long run too.

 

Tip #27: Buy Bundles

 

Many service providers now offer bundled packages that can help you save more while you get more. You might be able to bundle things like your insurance, streaming services, or cable and internet plans.

 

Tip #28: Create a Better Budget

 

If the budget you have now isn’t working then it might be time to throw that budget away and try something new. One thing you might try is the cash envelope system, or diligently recording all your spending for a whole month to really learn your money habits and track down the problem.

 

Tip #29: Set Shopping Rules

 

Set rules for yourself, your partner, and anyone else involved in the household finances. These rules might be things like spending limits, stricter allowances with reloadable prepaid cards, or practicing a spending freeze.

 

Tip #30: Use Prepaid Cards

 

Do you want to know how to save money fast? Set hard limits on spending by getting a reloadable prepaid card. These cards are easy to use and they won’t let you overdraft or spend more than what you’ve put on the card to be spent.

 

In Conclusion,

 

An efficient savings plan is all about learning how to spend less and figuring out ways to earn more. With these how-to-save-money tips, you’ll end up with more money on your side each month and more financial freedom because of it.

 

written by Kimber Severance, Check City Finance Writer

How to Budget Money the Easy Way

How-to-budget-money

The biggest key to learning how to budget effectively is learning how to budget money and the way income and expenses flow.

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Budgeting goes hand in hand with effective money management and money management can provide countless financial benefits. By managing the flow of money in and out of your wallet you can stop living paycheck to paycheck and start investing in a brighter and more stable financial future.

 

Start managing your money better today with a PREPAID CARD.

 

Get-Started-Button

 

Money management also doesn’t have to be complicated. In the end, all you need is a few key lists and calculations to create an effective budget and start making your money work for you.

 

What is a Budget?

 

Budgeting and money management work together to help you stay financially organized, focused, and successful.

 

A budget might include many financial factors like income, expenses, bills, future plans, past debts, assets, and investments. Money management focuses a little more on handling your funds and less on anything else. A money-focused budget focuses more on how much money you make and how much money you spend.

 

By creating a budget with good money management you can stop living paycheck to paycheck, increase your credit score, build up your savings account, become debt-free, save money, prepare for unexpected expenses, and finally feel in control of your spending habits.

 

How to Budget Money Effectively

 

Budgeting money effectively is all about knowing your personal finance goals and making long-term plans to reach them.

 

Step 1: Calculate Incoming Money

 

First, you’ll want to calculate how much money you have coming in each month, also sometimes known as “home pay.” This is the income your bank account actually sees each month after taxes have been accounted for.

 

Step 2: Make Financial Goals

 

Second, figure out what your top money priorities and goals are right now. It might help to think of a list of 3 to 5 things you want to accomplish this year.

 

Step 3: Strategize To Reach Those Goals

 

Third, make realistic plans to reach those goals. This is when you’ll start to look at all your outgoing money: where your money needs to go and where you want your money to go.

 

Many budgeting methods will include making categories or sections for where your total income will go each month. Include in these sections any goals or priorities you might have and make concrete plans for how you’ll manage your money to reach those goals.

 

For Example:

 

Let’s say you have a $5,000 car loan you would like to finish paying off as soon as possible. Look at your finances and see what options you have for making payments toward that loan.

 

Maybe you’ll find that after taking care of other monthly fixed expenses you have an extra $400 you could put toward that loan each month, allowing you to finish paying off that loan in the next year or so.

 

It might help to think of money management as making Financial New Year’s Resolutions. Where do you want to be financially in a year’s time? What can you do now to get yourself there?

 

Budgeting Tips

 

Budgeting tips go hand in hand with good money management. A good budget is all about creating an automated inflow and outflow of your monthly funds.

 

Make Healthy Investments

 

Making investments is a great way to beef up your financial portfolio. There are probably a trillion ways to invest, but the idea behind investments is that you put money into something that will give you more money in return later.

 

This is called compounding interest.

 

A helpful tip to remember when going into any investment is the rule of 72. This rule means that if you take 72 divided by the interest rate you’ll figure out the estimated number of years it will take for your interest to double your initial investment.

 

Personal Capital and Acorns are some of the most helpful investing apps you can use to step up your investment game.

 

Where Should I Put My Budget?

 

Figuring out where to even put your budget can get complicated. You can use excel or make your own table in Word or Google Docs or any note-taking program of your choice.

 

There are also many free budget templates online that you can print out and use. Budget tools are all around if you take the time to look and decide on which ones best suit your needs.

 

Click HERE for a free budget worksheet from the Federal Trade Commission.

 

You can also use budgeting apps to keep track of all your bills, expenses, plans, and goals. Some of these apps even allow you to connect your budget to your financial accounts.

 

Budgeting Apps:

  • Mint
  • You Need A Budget (YNAB)
  • Goodbudget
  • Wallet

 

Control Your Spending With a Prepaid Card

 

Get-Started-Button

 

Sometimes it can be difficult to control your varied expenses throughout the month and track your spending.

 

Make controlling how much you spend each month easier by using a prepaid debit card. With a prepaid card, you load money onto the card kind of like a gift card to yourself.

 

Prepaid cards are a great way to avoid overdrafting or overspending because you can only spend what’s on the card and no more.

 

Get a Side Gig

 

Getting an extra source of income can really come in handy. There are a million different kinds of side hustles any ambitious person these days can get into.

 

You can babysit, drive for a rideshare app, or sell your own products. The possibilities are endless and it never hurts to have a little extra money each month.

 

Plan to Decrease Debts

 

Learn-More-Button

 

Debt can be a real financial weight on your shoulders, but it can also be a necessary resource in order to get a house, a car, a college education, and much more.

 

Nevertheless, decreasing debts can still help alleviate some of that weight and provide more financial comfort and peace of mind. So it’s important to budget with paying down your debts in mind.

 

Budgeting Tools

 

Having the right tools available to you makes any job easier, including budgeting and money management.

 

Some great budgeting tools include budgeting apps, spending tracker apps (like PocketGuard), and investment apps that make investing easy and simple.

 

DOWNLOAD A FREE MONTHLY BUDGET WORKSHEET

 

Monthly Budget Example

 

monthly-budget-example

 

In Conclusion,

 

All you really need to budget money is a few lists, a calculator, and a plan. Practice using a budget now so that you can control your finances instead of your finances controlling you.

 

written by Kimber Severance, Check City Finance Writer

How Long is a Check Good For?

How-Long-is-a-Check-Good-For

How long is a check good for and do checks expire? As a small financial institution, Check City is here to give you the full scoop on what to do when you find an old check you want to deposit.

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Have you lost, misplaced, or forgotten about a check you need to deposit? No one means to lose an important check, but sometimes things happen that can make check cashing more difficult.

 

Life gets busy, our wallets get cluttered, and before you know it, you’re left with an old check and you don’t know what to do with it.

 

These old checks might also be referred to by your bank as a stale-dated check. So what can you do when you find you have a stale-dated check you need to deposit?

 

How Long Do I Have to Deposit a Check?

 

How long you have to deposit a check can depend on the type of check you want to deposit and where you want to deposit it.

 

But as a general rule for most financial institutions, it’s a good idea to try and deposit all your checks within a 6 month time period.

 

After 6 months have gone by and the check still hasn’t been deposited, it might be easier for you to explain the situation to the check issuer and ask for a reissued check than it would be to convince your bank to accept the check anyway. You will then most likely need to void the check so the issuer can send you a more current check.

 

Asking for a new check is also helpful for the check issuer. If they wrote you this check more than 6 months ago, then they were probably expecting you to cash or deposit that check by now. If you successfully deposit the old check 7 or more months later, their accounts might not be ready for those funds to be taken out.

 

As a courtesy to the check issuer, it’s usually best to make them aware of the situation and get a more recent check from them, rather than try and deposit a check that is more than 6 months old.

 

How Long Is An Old Check Still Good for?

 

Courtesy and general practice aside, how long is a check actually good for? According to the Uniform Commercial Code (UCC), checks are good for 6 months.

 

After 6 months have passed, financial institutions are not obligated to accept your old check. This guideline for financial institutions helps financial transactions across institutions and states be more consistent.

 

Consistency with general check cashing guidelines helps financial institutions and customers alike. It helps everyone involved know what to expect when completing their financial transactions.

 

Luckily, this rule of thumb doesn’t mean that a bank or credit union won’t accept your old check if it is older than 6 months. It just means that whether they still accept the old check is up to the bank’s discretion.

 

If the institution has good reason to believe the check funds are still good, then they are more likely to still cash the check, even if it’s old. This can be determined depending on your relationship with that financial organization or who wrote the check.

 

Ultimately, how long your check is still good for will depend on who you are, who issued the check to you, what kind of check was issued, and where you are trying to deposit the check.

 

How Long Is A Personal Check Good For?

 

Personal checks are usually the most flexible type of check to cash because it’s likely you know the check issuer personally. This means that even if you’ve forgotten to cash a personal check for longer than a year, all you have to do is contact the person who wrote the check. Otherwise, it’s best practice to deposit personal checks before 6 months.

 

While cashing old personal checks can be easier because of their personal nature, this same personal nature can also make them harder. Whether you can convince the check writer to issue a new check will depend on your relationship with them.

 

Either way, when depositing a personal check it’s best to give the check issuer a heads up beforehand so that they can be properly prepared for those funds to be available in their account.

 

How Long Is A Business Check Good For?

 

There are personal checks and then there are business checks. Personal checks are usually written out by an individual, often for another individual. Business checks might include checks a person has written for a company, but most often include checks that are written from a company.

 

A business’s checking account will be the account tied to most business checks. A business might use these checks to pay vendors or employees. Usually, this check type is set up to become void after 90 to 180 days.

 

How Long Is A Payroll Check Good For?

 

Payroll checks are usually business checks written out to you from the company you work for. This means that the same business check principles usually apply for payroll checks when it comes to how long you have to deposit them.

 

Most businesses will set up their payroll checks to expire after 90 to 180 days. You can usually find this information on the check itself.

 

How Long Is A Treasury Check Good For?

 

US Treasury checks are any checks that have been given to you from the US treasury. This includes checks like your tax refund.

 

These checks have a simple 1-year due date to be deposited by the check receiver. The check will become void, or expire, after 1 year.

 

That means that if you forget to deposit a treasury check for longer than a year, you’ll need to make a request with the IRS for a new check.

 

How Long Is A State Check Good For?

 

A state check or a local government check does eventually expire. In general, government checks will be good for 6 to 12 months. After that, you’ll need a new check.

 

Often official checks like this will have when they expire written somewhere on the check. Take a good look at your state and government checks when they come in the mail and mark your calendar so you can be sure to get them deposited in plenty of time.

 

How Long Is A Certified Check Good For?

 

Certified checks are different from regular checks. They are a type of check that has already been paid by you and is secured by the bank or financial institution that helped issue and certify the check.

 

Certified checks are like a prepaid check. Instead of waiting for the receiver to cash the check funds, you pay the check funds ahead of time when you take out the certified check. Because certified check funds have already been paid by the check issuer, they don’t expire.

 

How Long Is A Traveler’s Check Good For?

 

Though not as common as they once were, traveler’s checks do still exist. Traveler’s checks are much like regular checks accept they operate more like insured cash.

 

This helps people who are on vacation or visiting foreign places have more monetary security while they are traveling.

 

Since traveler’s checks act more like cash or a prepaid check, they don’t expire. You can spend them at any time whether you’re at home or abroad.

 

How Long Is A Money Order Good For?

 

Money orders are another great type of prepaid check option. Because they are prepaid by the issuer, they don’t expire the way a certified check doesn’t usually expire.

 

But cashing out a money order too long after receiving it can cost you money order fees. Usually, these fees are taken out of the money order funds, meaning you won’t get as much money from the order as you would if you deposited it sooner.

 

What Happens If You Wait Too Long To Deposit A Check?

 

Several things could happen if you’ve waited too long to deposit a check. You might have difficulty getting your financial institution to accept the check. In that case, you’ll have to contact the check issuer to request a new check.

 

In Conclusion,

 

Ideally, the easiest solution to old checks is to avoid them altogether. Dealing with old checks can be a hassle you just don’t need. Avoid letting your checks get old by following these tips:

 

  • Keep your wallet, checks, and finances as organized as possible.
  • Mark your calendar to get all your financial errands done with plenty of time to spare.
  • Pick a day of the week to get all your financial errands and tasks done.
  • Set up direct deposit whenever possible.
  • Use a mobile financial service like Netspend prepaid cards to deposit checks easily from your phone.

 

By taking these precautions you can set yourself up for more financial success and avoid the hassle of dealing with stale dated checks in the first place.

 

written by Kimber Severance, Check City Finance Writer

How to Get Out of Debt | The Complete Guide

How-to-Get-Out-of-Debt

Debt can be a useful tool when used responsibly, but the end goal is always to keep debts minimal and get out of debt when you can.

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No one likes to go into debt, but there are many kinds of debts and many reasons to go into debt. Debts and loans can be important financial supports to help us get a house, an education, or the car we need to get to work every day.

 

Regardless of the reasons, it’s still a good idea to put a plan in place for paying off those debts on time.

 

Step 1 | Pick a Debt Management Strategy

 

First, there are a few things you should know about how debts work and how getting out of debt works.

 

What is the Debt Snowball Method?

 

The debt snowball is a method for paying down your debts. The method involves paying off the smallest loans first and working your way up to paying off the bigger loans.

 

Therefore, it’s called the debt snowball, because you start with the smallest and work your way up to the biggest.

 

This debt management method can be great for boosting your confidence when tackling debts and giving you smaller wins sooner to help keep you motivated.

 

What is the Debt Avalanche Method?

 

The debt avalanche, also known as the stacking method, is a method for paying down your debts. The method involves paying off the loans with the highest interest rates first.

 

Therefore, it’s called the debt avalanche because you are tackling the biggest loans first and then fizzling out to the smaller, less impactful loans.

 

This method is brilliant for saving as much money as possible when paying down your debts because the highest interest rates are going to cost you the most in the long run. That’s why it can save you money to prioritize getting rid of the highest interest loans first.

 

What is Debt Relief?

 

Debt relief is a program that helps reorganize and make plans around your debt, usually to relieve or forgive the debt either partially or in full.

 

This might take the form of lowering the principal amount owed, lowering the interest rate, extending the loan term to provide more time for repayment, and more.

 

This is an action often taken when the only alternative is an extreme that both parties in the loan agreement would prefer to avoid, like defaulting on the loan or going into bankruptcy.

 

Both options would prevent the lender from getting their loan funds back, which is why debt relief plans exist. Working with the borrower and getting some of that loan back is often a more ideal alternative to not getting any of the loan back.

 

What is Debt Consolidation?

 

Debt consolidation is taking all the debt you’ve accumulated on multiple accounts and combining them into one account and one monthly payment with one interest rate.

 

Combining multiple debts through debt consolidation can make paying down your debts a lot easier to manage. Sometimes, it can also get you a better interest rate, especially if the interest rates of some of your loans were very high.

 

It’ll also give you one debt to focus on, one debt payment, and one due date each month rather than several of each to remember and plan for.

 

Step 2 | List All Debts, Expenses, and Income

 

The first thing you want to do when working down your debts is to figure out where you stand. The best way to do this is to make 3 lists:

 

Lists for Debt Resolution Budgeting:

 

  • List all of your debts
  • List all of your regular expenses
  • List all of your sources of income

 

By making these 3 lists you’ll better understand all the money you have coming in and where all of that money needs to go with your debts and important expenses.

 

It also helps if you make a note of your total debts and the minimum regular payments you need to make on those debts. This way you can see your total amount of debt and the bare minimum you need to pay toward those debts to avoid additional fees.

 

Laying all of this information out before you will help you see where you stand and what you need to do to become debt-free.

 

Step 3 | Account for Interest Rates

 

Most debts will come with an interest rate or an annual percentage rate (APR). This interest is a percentage that accumulates over time and adds to the total amount owed.

 

When entering any kind of debt or loan, you want to shop around for the best interest rates. Then, when you’re making plans to pay down the debt, you’ll want to account for that added interest in your calculations.

 

This might include paying more than the minimum required payments or paying more toward the principal amount to counteract the effect of the interest.

 

You can also attempt to reduce your interest rates by consolidating debts into a loan at a lower rate.

 

Step 4 | Reduce Expenses

 

The next thing you can do is look at ways to reduce expenses. The less you spend, the more you’ll have to put toward debts you owe.

 

Later, when those debts are gone, you’ll have even more available to you because you won’t have debts taking up space in the expenses section of your budget.

 

Reduce expenses by eliminating what you can and making economic substitutions to save money on the things you can’t eliminate.

 

Ideas for How to Reduce Expenses:

 

  • Cancel subscriptions
  • Join family subscription plans with friends and family to split costs
  • Switch to a cheaper phone plan
  • Eat at home more and eat out less
  • Switch to generic brands at the grocery store
  • Plan free activities like hiking instead of the movies
  • Pack a lunch instead of going out to eat on your lunch break
  • Save on gas and use public transportation, walk, ride your bike, or carpool
  • Cancel your gym membership and go running in your neighborhood instead
  • Shop at thrift stores, yard sales, and neighborhood marketplaces
  • Grow a produce garden
  • Reduce utility bills by using less water, lights, heat, or AC when you can
  • Invest in reusable products like cloth towels rather than paper towels
  • Use more coupons when shopping and watch out for deals

 

Step 5 | Increase Income

 

Increasing the amount of money you have coming in each month can help a lot with working down debt.

 

This is especially helpful if you are already doing what you can to reduce expenses and pay as much as you can toward debts, and there’s just not enough money in your incoming funds to tackle it all.

 

Ideas for How to Increase Income:

 

  • Sell things you don’t need anymore
  • Ask for a raise
  • Find a better-paying job
  • Start a second job or a side gig
  • Receive passive income
  • Make profitable investments
  • Start a small business from home

 

Step 6 | Create a Better Budget

 

Sometimes the key to getting out of debt is very simple—you might just need a better budget.

 

One of the best budgeting methods is the envelope system because it takes all the hard work out of budgeting.

 

All you have to do is allocate cash funds to each section of your budget in the envelopes. Then you’ll be much less likely to overspend on a section of your budget each month.

 

Sticking to a budget is especially important when you’re trying to take down your debts and the envelope method can help make that process simple.

 

An alternative to the cash envelope idea is to use a budgeting app. Budgeting apps can link to your existing financial accounts so you don’t have to switch to cash to organize your funds.

 

In Conclusion,

 

Use debts responsibly when you need to, but always include those debts in your budgeting plans. This will help you be proactive about debts so they don’t get out of hand and weigh you down too much.

 

written by Kimber Severance, Check City Finance Writer

Investing 101 | A Guide for Beginners

investing-for-beginners

Investing is an important part of any financial portfolio. It can help generate passive income and build personal wealth. But there are some basic investing for beginners tips you should know before you start.

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What is an Investment?

 

It is any financial action taken with the intent to grow wealth. A typical investment included giving funds with the intent to see larger returns on those initial funds later.

 

A very common type is stocks or shares. Buying stocks in a business gives you a small percentage of ownership in that business. This can lead to higher returns later as the company does well.

 

How Does Investing Work?

 

Investing is a symbiotic financial relationship that can potentially benefit both parties in the transaction.

 

A stockholder gives funds to a business, which in turn helps that business have the funds it needs to be successful. The business’s success then leads to higher profits that grow what the stockholder originally funded.

 

It is always important to calculate the potential risks alongside the potential rewards with any investment. Knowing how to calculate Return on Investment (ROI) can help beginners weigh the pros and cons for themselves.

 

Types of Investments

 

Stocks

 

A stock is a small portion of ownership over a company. They can also be called a “share.” When you help fund a company with your own money, you are making a financial investment in that company.

 

A stockholder also financially owns a portion of that company. Many companies will have different tiers of investors to distinguish between small and major investors.

 

Bonds

 

Bonds are a type of loan you give to either a company or the government. You purchase the bond and that money is then lent to the organization that needs it. Later, you can get that money back plus interest.

 

Mutual Funds

 

A mutual fund is like an investment group. Instead of working alone in a single stock, you can join a mutual fund that allows you to invest in more places for less.

 

Mutual funds can be great for beginners or anyone who doesn’t want to spend too much personal time managing their accounts.

 

Exchange-Traded Funds (ETFs)

 

Exchange-Traded Funds (ETFs) are similar to mutual funds, but their value can change throughout the day while mutual funds change on a day-to-day basis. ETFs can hold assets like stocks, bonds, currencies, and commodities.

 

Certificate of Deposit (CD)

 

A certificate of deposit (CD) is like a savings account, but it is locked for a period of time to accumulate interest.

 

Investment 101 Vocabulary

 

Annuities

 

An annuity is a type of contract that outlines a sum of money to be paid to the annuity holder. This type of contract is often made between an individual and their insurance company.

 

Assets

 

An asset is another term for a resource or investment. Assets are property that has value. This might include things like your house or vehicle.

 

Dividends

 

A dividend is a sum of money regularly paid to shareholders for holding onto their stocks in that company. It acts almost like a reward or incentive for shareholders to keep their shares in the company rather than selling.

 

Interest

 

Interest is usually shown as a percentage of monetary growth on the principal amount. Initial investments, or the principal amount, grow because of their interest.

 

How to Invest

 

Investing for beginners can be as complicated or as simple as you choose to make them. There are ways to make it extremely easy and other ways that can make the process very complicated.

 

Here are some of the basic steps to take when you start:

 

Step 1: Research

 

The first thing you need to do is research. Research stocks, companies, brokerage accounts, everything.

 

You can do everything yourself or you can get outside help to manage your accounts.

 

For a beginner, you might want to consider mutual funds or hiring a broker. One of the simpler ways to start is to join a mutual fund that takes care of itself.

 

Apps can also make the process very simple and automate a lot of the process for you.

 

CDs can also be a very safe way to make your first investment with as little risk as possible.

 

Once you choose how to invest you can look into which investments you want to make.

 

Step 2: Create a Plan and Budget

 

Now that you’ve decided on the how and the what, you can start making plans for your budget.

 

Most investments are going to include using your own funds in some way. If this funding is a regular payment, then include that payment in your personal budget.

 

If you need to save up to make a one-time, lump-sum payment, then include those savings into your personal budget as well.

 

It’s also important to plan for the future. Interest often needs to accumulate for a long time before the ROI will be worthwhile.

 

Make plans now for how much you’ll invest and for how long you’ll leave those investments alone to accumulate interest.

 

Step 3: Open a Brokerage Account

 

A brokerage account is where you’ll keep your investment portfolio. Some brokers will provide full-services, managing your account for you, while others will require more personal management on your part.

 

A full-service broker might come with management fees, commissions on trade, or advisory fees, but those fees could be worth it if you’re getting professional management that helps your money grow.

 

These are the kinds of pros and cons you’ll need to weigh when shopping for your brokerage account.

 

Step 4: Start Investing

 

Once you have the how, what, and who all figured out you can start! Remember, investments can take time to accumulate profit, but if you’ve weighed your pros and cons then the ROI will be worth the wait.

 

In Conclusion,

 

Investing is for everyone. Anyone can do it, especially with the online investing tools available today.

 

Use Check City’s tax preparation services to account for your investments this year and get the most out of your refund this year.

 

Check City does not offer investment, advisory, or brokerage services and does not advise investors to buy or sell any specific stock. This article is meant to provide some basic information only about investing in general. For professional investment advice, reach out to a professional investment advisor or broker.

 

written by Kimber Severance, Check City Finance Writer

What is a Credit Score? Improve Your Credit With These Tips

credit-score-charts

Creditworthiness is a common factor in determining loan approval. So how can you improve your credit score to get the loans you need? Luckily we have a credit score chart and some credit score tips to help you out.

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Credit Scores Explained

 

Have you ever wondered how credit scores work? If you’ve never thought about it before, or if you’re currently looking for loans for bad credit, then credit scores can seem complicated and hard to understand. But, it’s actually very simple once you understand these credit score basics.

 

The purpose of credit scores is to help lenders make loan application decisions quickly and easily. This helps the loan application process go faster and smoother for both the borrower and the lender.

 

But what impacts your credit score? What determines someone’s creditworthiness? Your credit score is mainly determined by the following items found in your credit history:

 

  • Payment history
  • Length of credit history
  • Debts
  • Current debts and loans
  • Types of credit

 

There are also important things to know regarding credit pulls. There are soft credit pulls and hard credit pulls.

 

Soft Credit Pulls

 

Soft credit pulls are just as they sound, softer. They tend to have less impact on your credit history, score, or report. They only appear on your personal credit report but won’t be seen by businesses or lenders.

 

A soft pull might be initiated by someone else, not by you. Soft pulls also tend to have little or no impact on your credit score.

 

Hard Credit Pulls

 

A hard credit pull is also just as it sounds, harder. They tend to have more impact on your credit history, score, or report than a soft pull. Hard pulls usually show up on your credit history for businesses and lenders to see.

 

A hard pull is usually initiated by you when submitting some kind of application, usually for credit like a loan. Hard pulls also tend to have more impact on your credit score.

 

Subprime Loans

 

Subprime and prime are terms that refer to the range of rates for a loan.

 

Prime rates are some of the best loan rates, but they also come with more requirements to qualify for prime loans.

 

Subprime rates are higher rates but are generally attached to loans that are easier to qualify for and come with fewer requirements for acceptance.

 

What is a subprime loan?

 

Subprime loans and subprime lending is known by many names. It can also be called near-prime, subpar, non-prime, or second-chance lending. Subprime loans are designed for customers who have difficulty qualifying for premium loans that have higher application requirements like high credit scores.

 

If you are taking out a subprime loan then remember that your subprime credit report score is not the same thing as your FICO® score. Contact your lender directly for more details.

 

You can request a free credit report with Clarity Services.

 

What is a Bad Credit?

 

A bad credit score will depend on the consumer reporting company you are using. There are several consumer reporting agencies and each lender might use a different agency to check your credit score.

 

Credit Score Chart

 

Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian are 3 examples of major credit reporting agencies a lender might use. Many credit reporting bureaus also have different credit score ranges and systems set up for different industries.

 

Equifax Credit Score Range:

 

Equifax uses a number system from 300 to 850 to score creditworthiness. 300 is the poorest score and 850 is the best score.

equifax credit score chart

  • Poor: 300–579
  • Fair: 580–669
  • Good: 670–739
  • Very Good: 740–799
  • Excellent: 800–850

 

TransUnion Credit Score Range:

 

TransUnion uses a grading system from A to F to grade creditworthiness. This grading system is based on a number system from 300 to 850.

transunion credit score chart

  • Grade A: 781–850
  • Grade B: 720–780
  • Grade C: 658–719
  • Grade D: 601–657
  • Grade F: 300–600

 

Experian Credit Score Range:

 

Experian uses a similar number range to Equifax.

experian credit score chart

  • Very Poor: 300-579
  • Fair: 580-669
  • Good: 670-739
  • Very Good: 740-799
  • Exceptional: 800-850

 

Remember that different lenders use different credit reporting agencies. Ask your preferred lender about where you should get your credit report from for the best results.

 

What is a Good Credit Score?

 

So how does someone get bad credit? Well, there are a few things that could be happening to give you a bad score.

 

Some things that cause low credit scores is when someone . . .

 

  • doesn’t make on-time payments
  • they have more debt than they can afford
  • they default on a loan
  • or if they have filed for bankruptcy

 

When getting a loan for bad credit, these negative marks on your credit history may not matter as much. Otherwise, you’ll want to fix these problems in your credit history before seeking a loan.

 

These items decrease someone’s credit score because they tell lenders that you might be at a higher risk of defaulting or making late payments on a loan if they decide to lend to you.

 

Likewise, you can increase your credit score and your chances of getting the loan you want by fixing these same issues.

 

  • Make payments on time
  • Keep your debt-to-income ratio at a safe level
  • Avoid defaulting on loans
  • Avoid bankruptcy

 

Taking full control of your finances, budgeting effectively, and preparing for financial emergencies ahead of time can all help you avoid these negative credit marks and keep your credit score high.

 

How to Improve Credit Score

 

Even before shopping for a loan, it’s a good idea to check your credit history for yourself. That way you can have an idea of the kinds of loans you can qualify for before you start applying.

 

Checking your credit score yourself, before you apply, can also help you catch any mistakes on your credit history so those can be corrected before the lender pulls their own credit check.

 

Here are some of the main steps you want to take before taking out a loan:

 

Step 1: Get a copy of your credit history and do a self-audit.

 

Go through your credit history and make sure there aren’t any errors that need correcting before you start applying for loans.

 

You should check your credit report carefully for accounts you did not open, inquiries from creditors you didn’t initiate, and any other errors or discrepancies you might find.

 

You can get a credit report for free at www.annualcreditreport.com or by calling 1-877-322-8228, toll-free.

 

If you find something on your credit report that you do not understand, call the credit agency.

 

Step 2: Make sure nothing is missing on your credit report.

 

If you have an instance that should be helping boost your credit and you can’t find it on your credit report, contact the credit reporting agency to get it sorted out.

 

Certain things help give people good credit:

 

  • Making payments on time
  • Paying off a loan

 

When you have good credit actions in your personal finances you want to make sure those actions are being counted in your favor on your credit report.

 

They are all instances that will boost your score and show potential lenders that you are a low-risk customer who knows how to pay their bills on time.

 

Credit can be your friend or your foe depending on how well you use it:

 

Make payments on time, make sure on-time payments are being counted on your credit history.

 

If you need help establishing a good credit history you may consider paying for groceries each week with a credit card. Then at the end of the week pay off the credit card balance.

 

In Conclusion,

 

It’s necessary to use credit to build credit, but if you aren’t careful, credit use can also be the very thing that weakens your score.

 

But when you know how to use credit to your advantage, you can build up a high credit score and watch as more financial opportunities open up to you.

 

written by Kimber Severance, Check City Copywriter

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