Become Healthier and Wealthier by Kicking These Bad Habits

The connections between health and wealth are numerous but easily overlooked when we’re too focused on improving one or the other. It’s easy to forget that health issues can devastate our finances and poor health may lead to us making bad financial decisions. On the contrary, the benefits of maintaining good health can include better productivity, less time off sick, and a more positive outlook on life, all of which make it easier for us to make smart financial choices.

Here are a few bad habits that if kicked, would make you both healthier and wealthier:

Smoking

Cutting our cigarettes is an easy way to add years to your life. You’ve heard the health risks that come with smoking: heart attack, stroke, lung cancer, coronary heart disease and more.

In addition to the money you’d save on purchasing cigarettes (an average of $6-$8 per pack), stopping smoking will also save you on health care costs. Insurance premiums for smokers almost always cost more than those of nonsmokers.

Poor Diet

Cut the excess calories from fast food and high calorie processed foods. A balanced diet leads to a healthy weight. Being at a healthy weight means better health both mental and physical.

In turn, better health means you’ll have lower insurance premiums as well as lower life insurance rates. It’s estimated that healthy people save, on average, $1,429 more each year than people who are obese.

Physical Inactivity

You don’t need to follow an aggressive exercise program to be active. Merely adding a 30-minute walk each day can drastically lower risks of developing a chronic health problem.

Adding exercise, even if it’s minimal, is similar to the way we increase wealth. Exercise includes setting goals, staying disciplined, and maintaining positive habits. If you can do one or the other, exercise or saving, you can do the other.

Whether you aim to increase your wealth or to better your health, work to find a balance between improving both.

Home Upgrades That Pay For Themselves

When most of us hear home upgrades, we think of costly projects that are likely to break the budget. For those of us unable to afford a large-scale remodel or renovation, there are smaller, simpler home upgrades that we can invest in that will pay for themselves in the long run.

Try Smart Home Tech

Not at all uncommon these days, smart home tech is making it easy for many homeowners to conveniently save money on things like water, electric, and utility bills. Smart home tech may seem expensive upfront but quickly pays for itself in money you’ll save on bills. Installation can be done yourself, and in addition to making your life easier with features like controlling your thermostat through an app, smart home tech adds value to your home.

Cut Water Consumption

The kitchen, laundry room, bathrooms – all use water. Because of this, homeowners water bills can take up a chunk of monthly budgets. Making a few simple adjustments can drastically cut down your water consumption and substantially decrease your water bill each month. Things such as replacing your old water guzzling dishwasher with an Energy Star Efficient one and installing a low flowing shower head in bathrooms are easy projects guaranteed to cut your water bills.

Keep Cool With Ceiling Fans

Keeping your home air-conditioned in the summer months is expensive. While they probably won’t eliminate your need to use the air-conditioning, ceiling fans can definitely help you lower the temperature of the thermostat by a few degrees. Installing ceiling fans in rooms is an easy long lasting home upgrade bound to add to your savings.

Set Up A Home Security System

Whether or not your home is burglarized, having a home security system set up can save you money on insurance. Most insurance companies provide customers with discounted premiums if they have home security systems. In addition to lower premiums, a home security system will give you peace of mind.

Install Solar Panels

As solar panels have become more efficient, now is an excellent time to invest in installing them. Decreasing prices of solar panels have reduced the time until the investment pays itself off so get started now. Don’t let the upfront cost scare you away before you consider all of the benefits they provide in the long run, environmentally as well as financially.

While all of these home upgrades have initial costs, they’re all likely to quickly pay for themselves in savings. These upgrades will increase the value of your home and save you money in the long-run.

Interested in upgrading your home but don’t have the upfront costs? Consider a personal loan. Get the money you need to start upgrading your home today.

Simple Ways to Save Money on Food

The majority of Americans spend most of their money on three things: rent/mortgage, transportation, and food.

When you’re trying to save money, cutting your food costs may be an excellent place to start.

You don’t have to spend hours cutting out coupons or buy more in bulk than fits in your freezer to save money on food. There are simple methods you can easily employ to cut down on your food costs.

Cook at home

The is the obvious and most likely to save you the most money way to save on food. Many of us avoid cooking our own meals — whether it’s because we feel we don’t have time, we’re tired, or take out is just too tempting. Eating out is far more expensive than cooking our own meals at home so if you’re trying to stretch your food budget, start by increasing the number of meals you prepare at home.

Share meals

If you’re not ready to eliminate eating out, try sharing meals at restaurants instead. Plus, you’ll find it’s easier to avoid overeating when you share, and you’ll be cutting down on food waste.

Set limits

Set aside exactly how much you want to spend on groceries. Stay within your limits. It’s helpful to know your limits before you head off to the grocery store.

Go generic

“If it costs more, it must be superior,” doesn’t always apply. Many times, when buying name-brand groceries instead of the generic, you’re only paying more for the name and advertising. There are products where the name-brand may be superior to the generic but for many groceries, staples like flour, coffee, and spices, you’ll probably be better off going generic and saving the extra money.

Buy bulk

Not everything of course! Buying in bulk is only wise if you know you’ll use all of it.

Pass on pre-cut

Instead of pre-cut fruits and vegetables, purchase whole. Pre-cut and packaged fruits and vegetables on average cost between 30-50% more than if you had bought whole and cut them yourself.

Stay in season

The cheapest fruits and vegetables are going to be those that are in season. Follow a list of available fruits and vegetables by season.

Give grocery ads a glance

Before you head to the grocery store, give your store’s ads a look. It requires a bit more thought, but by planning around what’s on sale, you can save a lot.

Freeze leftovers

Save money as well as avoid adding to food waste by freezing leftovers. Pick up some containers and freeze what you know you can’t eat. Pull these containers out anytime you feel too tired to cook a full meal.

Use membership cards

Most major stores have membership or club cards that will increase your savings. These cards allow you access to sales and special lower prices if you take the time to sign up. Some stores even allow you to earn cash back when you use your card.

Shop online

Online grocery shopping might seem like it would be expensive but depending on your needs, it may actually end up saving you money. Without the stress of roaming aisles, you’re less likely to spend on impulse buys.

Adjusting your food budget takes a little time and effort, but with these simple changes, the money you save may be worth it.

6 Smart Ways to Use Your Tax Refund

Are you looking forward to a tax refund? Before you splurge on something unnecessary from your wishlist, consider this tax refund as an opportunity to do something meaningful for your finances.

1. Pay credit card debt

Many of us are carrying around high-interest credit card debt. Use your tax refund to pay down your credit card balances. If your refund doesn’t allow you to pay off your entire balance, you should apply the refund to your highest-interest credit card debt.

2. Fund that emergency fund

If you don’t already have three to six months of income stashed away in an emergency fund, consider putting your tax refund towards your emergency fund. If you don’t have an emergency fund, start one. Can’t put away three to six months worth of income? Put away what you can. Any emergency fund is better than none. Putting your refund towards your emergency fund will provide you with a peace of mind.

3. Put the money towards your retirement account

Whether it’s your 401 (k) plan, IRAs, or HSAs, putting your tax refund into a retirement account goes far in boosting your retirement security.

4. Save for an upcoming major purchase

Planning to buy a new car soon? Maybe you’re looking at buying a home. Whatever major purchase you have coming up, putting your tax refund towards this purchase will save you stress later.

5. Donate to charity

Unlikely to help you financially, donating your tax refund to a charity or cause close to your heart is a great feel-good way to spend the extra money. Think of it as paying it forward. Remember to hold on to donation receipts so you can itemize your deductions on next year’s taxes.

6. Spend on an experience

Spending your refund on an experience such as traveling or taking a class is a satisfying way to increase serotonin. The memories you gain from experiences last a lifetime.

What To Do If You Owe More Than You Can Pay In Taxes

It’s tax season! For some, this means we have cash to look forward to. For the remainder, it means another bill. Tax day 2018 is Tuesday, April 18th. If you’re one who owes and find yourself unable to pay, what should you do? First, you should make sure you at least file your taxes. Don’t let your inability to pay to keep you from filing. There are options if you find that you’re unable to pay:

Get a short-term payment extension

You can apply for a short-term payment extension through the IRS if you know you can pay the full amount owed in 120 days or less. The application can be done online at IRS.gov or by calling the phone number on your tax bill.

Apply for a payment plan

Using Form 9465, you can apply for a payment plan if you owe $50,000 or less. The process can also be completed online or on the phone. The IRS charges a low fee for payment plans, but it may be your best option depending on your credit card rates or financial issues.

Settle for less than you owe

The IRS may offer you the option of an Offer in Compromise (OIC). The OIC allows you to settle the tax amount you owe for less. Offers can vary, but it’s worth looking into if you find yourself struggling to pay your tax balance.

Consider a personal loan

Depending on your credit card rates a personal loan may be the best option to pay your tax debt. Personal loans often offer lower rates than those on credit cards and may offer a fixed term, rate, and monthly payment for you. You can check your rates and offers without impacting your credit score by filling out our quick form.

Pay with a credit card

Not the ideal option, but an option nonetheless. The IRS accepts the major credit cards, and payment can be done online or by phone. Credit card payment should not be the first option you choose because the interest and fees you’ll pay can add up quickly and hurt you financially.

Whatever your situation is, don’t avoid the IRS. Tax bills won’t just disappear, and failure to pay can lead to your passport being seized. Don’t be afraid to give the IRS a call. They’re willing to work with you if you reach out.

6 Easy Money Moves You Can Make Today

If you’ve been putting off organizing your finances or if you get overwhelmed when you finally sit down to do it, stay calm and let us help you tackle your finances. Don’t let your big goals scare you, remember that big goals are accomplished after a series of small goals are achieved.

Start tackling your finances today with these six easy money moves:

1. Look into debt consolidation

If you’re dealing with various loans and credit cards, consider debt consolidation or refinancing. You can receive a personal loan offer in minutes. Use the loan to pay off your multiple debts and save yourself from the hassle of keeping up with many payments and due dates. Consolidation and refinancing can also significantly reduce your interest rate and can be obtained same-day in many cases.

2. Check your credit score

Haven’t checked your credit in a while? Take a deep breath and get a free copy of your credit report. Once you fully understand your financial situation, you can start to prepare a plan to achieve your financial goals.

3. Automate to save

Set up an automatic payment to transfer an amount into your savings as soon as your paycheck cashes. When the money is automatically put into your savings, you have less temptation to spend it.

4. Earn extra money without extra work

One way to earn extra money right now is to sign up for a rewards site like Ebates. Ebates provides you with cash back when you shop. You even get a gift card for just signing up.

5. Negotiate with your bill providers

We all hate sitting on hold with internet/phone/cable companies, but this temporary bother could save you money immediately. Most major providers will offer some discount if you ask.

6. Create a budget that works for you

Sit down and do it. It’s an integral part of managing finances. Get an idea of the income you have coming in as well as your spending habits before you try to set up a budget. There are many different budgets out there, and your first budget may end up needing to be adjusted later. Keep trying, and you’ll figure out a budget that works for you and your lifestyle.

Loan Basics Q&A

Before you start your search for a loan, it’s important to understand the basics. Below are common questions and answers people have when they start looking at loans.

What is an APR?

Annual Percentage Rate or APR is the figure that represents the amount of interest a lender will charge you as a yearly percentage. Interest is the charge that you have to pay on borrowed amounts; it is a way of paying the lender for their services. Lenders are required to disclose APR by law. APR is charged at both fixed and variable rates. A fixed rate interest will not be affected by external changes and represents the stock annual percentage rate of the finance charge. Variable rate programs are affected by indexes (economic indicators) and will fluctuate accordingly, charged according to the prime rate and an added percentage. If you are applying for a variable rate credit card, then ask your credit card provider how they determine that rate and according to which index. There may well be limitations set on how much and how often a variable rate can change.

What is debt consolidation?

Debt consolidation is a way in which you can avoid bankruptcy and destroying your credit rating entirely. Companies that offer debt consolidation services will combine (or ‘consolidate’) your arrears into one lump sum. You will pay one monthly amount that the debt consolidators will then dispense variously to your creditors. Debt consolidation professionals will negotiate with creditors to help you get better repayment terms and lower interest rates. These companies aim to help you get out of debt faster than you would on your own and can help stop you going under completely.

What is a loan?

A loan is, on its most basic level, an arrangement between lender and borrower where the lender provides the borrower with money or property, and the borrower promises to return it at a later date, usually along with some interest. Loans comprise two parts- the amount borrowed and the interest. Interest represents the charge the lender imposes for the services they provide, it is also called APR and is expressed as an annual percentile of the total amount borrowed.

What is a student loan?

Student loans are a popular form of financial aid used by college students. As a college student, you can get hold of both subsidized and unsubsidized loans. Subsidized loans are funded in part by the Federal Government, and you will simply pay back the money you have borrowed, without any interest. Unsubsidized student loans work like any other borrowed finances, and you will have to pay back the interest on the loan in addition to the money originally borrowed. All student loans must be paid back in full regardless of whether or not the student graduates.

What is a payday loan?

A payday loan is a short-term loan that is deposited directly into your checking account, usually within 24 hours. At an agreed time the money that you have borrowed will be removed from your account in addition to the charge that the loans company imposes upon you. The service fee will be dependent upon the size of the loan and your credit history. For a further fee, you will usually be allowed to extend your loan. Payday loans are also often referred to as bridging loans and can be useful for those mid-month times when cash is tight, and you have bills to pay.

What is a personal loan?

A personal loan is a type of unsecured loan available to individuals. It is not guaranteed by any collateral, and for this reason, they usually have higher interest rates than other types of secured loans. Personal loans can be obtained for pretty much any purpose– you might want a personal loan to fund that holiday you’ve been dreaming of, to redecorate the house or just to cover unexpected bills.

What is a mortgage?

A mortgage is an amount of money borrowed from a bank or other lender for purchasing a property. The property is itself, used as security against the loan. When applying for a mortgage, you will agree to pay back your loan over a fixed period of years, usually in monthly installments.

What is a home equity loan?

A home equity loan, also commonly referred to as a second mortgage, is a popular form of financing where your home is put down as collateral and security for the loan. This means that your home is at risk if you do not keep up repayments, but can enable you to procure more favorable interest rates and also tax benefits. The interest accrued on a home equity loan is tax-deductible up to $100 000; other loans offer no such benefits. With a home equity loan, you will borrow a lump sum of money and agree to pay it back over a fixed term of years with either a fixed or variable interest rate. A second mortgage works in just the same way as a regular mortgage

What is an auto loan?

Auto loans are loans provided to purchase a vehicle. Often your car dealer will try and provide you with auto financing, but cheaper rates are far more likely to be found elsewhere. It is possible to be pre-approved for an auto loan before you even start looking for your car. Often this is the wisest way to act as you know all your options and spending limits right from the start.

What is a secured loan?

A secured loan is a loan requiring you to put up some type of collateral as security for the loan repayment. Most commonly this will be your property, and your home will be at risk if you fail to keep up repayments. As secured loans present lower risks to the lender, you will usually be rewarded with lower interest rates on secured loans.

What is an unsecured loan?

An unsecured loan is a sum of money that can be borrowed from any lender. Unsecured loans are not tied to anything, and for this reason, the interest rates charged on them are slightly higher. If you apply for an unsecured loan, then you will receive a sum of money which you will be required to repay, usually in monthly installments. Different lenders have different repayment options so check with your loan company about the choices they provide.

Essential Credit Card Information

The number of credit card offers is numerous. Even if you already have the credit card, you might wish to upgrade to a more profitable one. The offers become better from day to day, and you may receive more if you make the change. However, it’s not always easy to do. First of all, your credit card treatment might not include the necessary features. This means that you won’t be able to change the credit card until the end of the term without losing points on your credit score. There are credit cards with which you will lose some points anyway especially when the credit card account is the only one you have.

The second credit card also means more to remember. It is unlikely that your credit cards will have the same interest rates, due dates, and fees, therefore, you will have to keep all of these things in mind. It is essential to make the credit card payments on time as two credit cards can mean twice as many troubles if you’re not diligent. It is very easy to get in credit card debt, but it is much more difficult to find the way out. These debts can be a vicious circle for those who fall behind on payments.

However, at the same time, credit cards can bring convenience to our lives especially when you have the right options. One option is the balance transfer. Balance transfer credit cards mean that you can change it for more lucrative offer at any time without losing the credit score points, your money because of the fees or fines and moreover, without having to wait for long. Balance transfer credit cards give you the possibility to choose any other credit line even if it is on the other bank or credit card company.

Be aware also, that you can not use this service multiple times unless your new credit card has the balance transfer option too. There are two primary types of balance transfer services. The first one is when you use the transfer service for the special fee or percent from the credit balance of the previous month (or any other charge). The most lucrative offer is when you do it for free. This option is called zero percent balance transfer. Of course, not all banks and credit card companies offer this option to their customers. To get it, you may also need to have a high credit score. Otherwise, the bank will likely decline your application.

Credit cards are a great financial instrument, but customers need to be very careful when using them.

This simple rule can save you money in your everyday life: make sure not to rush into filling out any credit card applications, without doing careful research.

Disclaimer: Modern Lending Solutions (modernlendingsolutions.com) is not a lender. We offer a matching service for connecting potential borrowers with financial institutions. Loan amounts, rates, and terms will vary based on lender’s decision, and approval is not guaranteed.
Offers provided to customers feature rate may no greater than 35.99% APR with terms from 61 days to 180 months. However, your actual rate depends on credit score, loan amount, loan term, and credit usage and history, and will be agreed upon between you and the lender. An example of the total amount paid on a personal loan of $5,000 for a term of 36 months at a rate of 10% would be equivalent to $5,808.09 over the 36-month life of the loan.