Ditching United? Here Are 3 Solid Airline Credit Card Alternatives

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New Refinance Program Probably Won’t Mean Much

Last updated on January 9th, 2018

refinance

During President Obama’s speech to the nation last week, he mentioned that the White House would be working with the federal housing agencies to help more homeowners refinance their mortgages at today’s low rates.

And on Friday, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) released a statement, noting that it “has been reevaluating an existing program, the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP), to determine if there are ways to extend the benefits of this refinance product to more borrowers.”

Currently, in order to be eligible for a HARP refinance, a borrower must have a mortgage owned or guaranteed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, be current on mortgage payments, and have a first mortgage that does not exceed 125 percent loan-to-value.

That last bit seems to be the issue at hand, as there are scores of borrowers who meet the first two guidelines, but not the third.

To give you an idea, 85 percent of the Miami and Orlando MSAs were underwater as of last year, with average LTV’s of 150% and 140%, respectively.

In Riverside, California, the average LTV was around 164 percent last year, and has probably worsened since then.

So pretty much all of the hardest-hit borrowers haven’t been eligible for HARP.

LTV Ceiling Lifted?

Under the new refinancing plan, the LTV ceiling would be lifted or possibly removed, allowing these types of borrowers to refinance to take advantage of the record low mortgage rates currently available.

But it’s very likely that you would still need to be current on mortgage payments to qualify.

And while the new proposal sounds decent in theory, many of these borrowers have been grappling with a lack of home equity for years now.

So if they were going to walk away, they probably would have by now. Or they would have at least missed a payment or two.

If payments are lowered for the select few who have stuck it through, but are deeply underwater, they’re still left holding onto a house worth much less than the mortgage.

How much better off will someone be paying $200 less per month on a $300,000 mortgage worth just $150,000?

Even if it does make a big difference, the program still banks on mortgage rates remaining low and home prices reversing course in a major way, as it doesn’t address principal forgiveness.

Targeting the Wrong Group?

Then there are the homeowners with mortgages not backed by Fannie and Freddie, which while far fewer in number, account for a huge chunk of the problem loans.

A few years back, former FHFA director James B. Lockhart noted that these private-label securities accounted for 62 percent of all seriously delinquent mortgages, and thus, were the root of the problem.

These have yet to be addressed on a large scale, and probably won’t be, aside from on a case-by-case basis.

And so there may be some economic stimulus associated with this program (more money in some pockets), but it certainly won’t be a silver bullet.

Perhaps only time will sort things out, as impatient as we are.

Concrete details of the program should emerge later this month…

Read more: Can I refinance with negative equity?

About the Author: Colin Robertson

Before creating this blog, Colin worked as an account executive for a wholesale mortgage lender in Los Angeles. He has been writing passionately about mortgages for 15 years.

Source: thetruthaboutmortgage.com

If You’re a Tech Nerd, You’ll Love These 4 Credit Cards

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How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs

When I was little, my parents used to tell me to not let the bed bugs bite when they would tuck me in at night. Back then, the phrase was almost comforting, and I didn’t think much of it. After all, I didn’t know exactly what they were.

Now that I’m older and know that bed bugs are very real, that statement suddenly comes with a much scarier connotation. The last thing I want to think about before I shut my eyes is sleeping with bed bugs.

If you don’t already know what a bed bug is, they’re small, brown insects that resemble an apple seed. They feed off of the blood of other animals and humans, so they definitely don’t make for good bunkmates.

Here’s a brief guide on bed bug prevention and how to get rid of them if you have an infestation:

1. Buy Encasements for Your Bed

Purchasing an encasement for your bed and box spring won’t necessarily prevent bed bugs from getting to your mattress, but it does make them easier to get rid of. The encasement stops the bugs from being able to get inside the mattress, forcing them to crawl on the exterior.

This makes the bugs very easy to spot, and you can then take the proper steps to get rid of them, which I’ll get to later.

2. Be Careful About Returning from Vacation

It can be easy to pick up bed bugs when you travel, as they tend to hide in hotel mattresses and box springs. Therefore, it’s best to unpack your suitcase somewhere other than your bedroom.

Throw all of your clothes directly into the wash, and make sure to vacuum your suitcase before putting it back into storage.

3. Regularly Wash Sheets and Clothing

While bed sheets can be a pain to take on and off, you should still wash them once a week. Dust, debris, and sweat can build up over time, and washing the sheets frequently in hot water kills those germs and potential bed bugs.

If there are any stains or spots, use a damp cloth and some upholstery shampoo to remove them. Make sure to wring out the cloth, as you don’t want to soak the mattress – this will only damage the padding and attract mold and bacteria.

4. Make Sure You’re Dealing With Bed Bugs

Don’t jump to conclusions if you wake up with a bite. There could be other insects responsible, like mosquitos, spiders, fleas or ticks. It’s important to know how to identify a bed bug. Typically, they’re the size of an apple seed, brown in color and have a flat, oval-shaped body.

They may be more reddish-brown if they recently ate. You should also look for bed bug eggs, which are pearl white and the size of a pinhead. If you’re still unsure what insect you’re dealing with, you can call pest control to help figure it out.

5. Clean Your Bedding

If you do discover that you have a bed bug infestation, the first step is to clean all of your sheets, pillows, blankets, clothing, etc. Put everything in the washer in hot water, and dry them on the highest dryer setting as well.

Next, scrub your mattress (especially the seams) to get rid of the bed bugs and any eggs that may be there. After scrubbing, vacuum all surfaces of your room. When you’ve finished, take out the vacuum bag, put it inside a resealable container and set it in a garbage can outside. You don’t want any bed bugs escaping back into your room.

6. Hire Pest Control

While you can certainly clean up infested areas, getting rid of bed bugs for good typically requires the use of chemical treatments. Using chemicals on your own can be tricky, because not all treatments are safe for your mattress, or you, for that matter. You may want to call a pest control professional to ensure you exterminate your bed bugs properly.

It’s worth it to pay a professional to get it done, as you’ll rest easy knowing those pests won’t be returning. Make sure to choose the proper professional by going through dependable referral directories.

Any good company will give you a quote before treatment, so you know exactly what you’ll have to pay. These pest experts may also fill you in on how to prevent bed bugs in the future and work with you until your bug problem is completely gone.

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Source: apartmentguide.com

Obama Slashes Costs for FHA Streamline Refinances to Boost Market

Last updated on August 29th, 2018

In another effort to buoy the flagging housing market, the Obama administration announced today that it would essentially be removing the upfront mortgage insurance premium on streamlined FHA refinances.

So homeowners who currently hold an FHA loan, looking to refinance into another FHA loan to lower their mortgage rate, will pay just 0.01% in upfront mortgage insurance premiums.

This represents a huge discount compared to the 1% upfront premium currently charged.

The annual mortgage insurance premium will also be slashed in half to 0.55%, which together with the upfront premium reduction is estimated to save the average FHA borrower roughly a thousand dollars annually.

In order to qualify for the new program, your FHA loan must have been originated prior to June 1, 2009.

The Obama administration believes about 2-3 million FHA borrowers will be eligible to benefit from this initiative, but only time will tell how many are really helped.

Are Future Homeowners Eating the Cost?

While this is great news for those who currently hold FHA loans, it makes you wonder if future homeowners will wind up paying for it.

Last week, the FHA announced that it would be raising upfront mortgage insurance premiums from 1% to 1.75%, beginning in April.

Additionally, the agency said it would raise the annual mortgage insurance premium by 0.10 percent for loan amounts under $625,500, and 0.35 percent for loans between $625,500 and $729,750.

The measures were taken to meet the congressionally mandated minimum for the FHA’s Mutual Mortgage Insurance (MMI) fund, which has been depleted thanks to all the recent losses on bad loans. It is expected to boost the fund by $1 billion through fiscal year 2013.

So essentially first-time homebuyers and other current homeowners who do not hold FHA loans will pay a premium to take out an FHA loan.

It seems like a bit of a shift in wealth, though it will likely result in fewer new homeowners going to the FHA for mortgage financing, which is probably the end goal.

The FHA exploded in popularity in recent years as subprime lending fell by the wayside, but the agency bit off more than it could chew. So this is likely a bid to return to a more normalized mortgage market funded by private capital.

[FHA loan vs. conventional loan]

Still, it seems a little unfair for those who don’t hold FHA loans, regardless of what good it may do.

But if you have an FHA loan, this is a great time to inquire about a streamline refinance to lower your mortgage rate and your monthly mortgage payment, without being subject to steep closing costs.

Reviewing Servicemember Foreclosures

The White House also announced that it will conduct a review of all servicemembers foreclosed on since 2006 to identify any wrongdoings.

Those found to be wrongly foreclosed on will receive compensation equal to a minimum of lost home equity, plus interest and $116,785, paid for by the nation’s top loan servicers, who were involved in the National Mortgage Settlement.

Additionally, those who were wrongfully denied a refinance will be refunded any money lost as a result.

And those who were forced to sell their homes for less than the mortgage balance due to a Permanent Change in Station will also be provided with some form of relief.

Finally, the major loan servicers will pay $10 million into the Veteran Affairs fund, which guarantees funding for the VA loan program, and certain foreclosure protections will be extended to prevent future failings.

About the Author: Colin Robertson

Before creating this blog, Colin worked as an account executive for a wholesale mortgage lender in Los Angeles. He has been writing passionately about mortgages for 15 years.

Source: thetruthaboutmortgage.com

4 Credit Cards for Flyers Who Love Special Treatment

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Obama Hasn’t Refinanced His Mortgage in Seven Years

Last updated on August 10th, 2013

Despite a push to allow more Americans to refinance their mortgages (Harp 2.0), the Obamas haven’t taken the time to refinance their own, according to a disclosure released yesterday by the White House.

The financial disclosure revealed that as of the end of 2011, the 30-year mortgage (not sure if that means fixed or just refers to the term) tied to their south Chicago home, taken out in 2005, was still active.

Obama’s Mortgage Rate is 5.625%

Now we’ll assume he’s got a fixed-rate mortgage, even though that’s not entirely clear because no one is specifying.

And at 5.625%, that means he’s paying a rate nearly two percentage points above what mortgage rates are currently being offered at today for a 30-year fixed.

What we also don’t know is the loan amount. The disclosure only revealed that the loan amount is somewhere between $500,001 and $1 million.

Now assuming it’s not a jumbo loan, he could possibly snag a rate two percentage points lower than his current rate.

And I’m sure he would receive the most favorable terms, given his income, assets, employment history, etc. Being the U.S. president is pretty helpful.

Let’s do the math to see what he could save, using $600,000 as the loan amount.

Loan amount: $600,000
Current rate: 5.625%
Refinance rate: 3.75%

If he were to refinance his current loan, his monthly mortgage payment would drop from $3,453.94 to $2,778.69.

That’s a monthly savings of roughly $675, or $8,100 annually.

Not a bad haul for a making a phone call and submitting some paperwork.

[What mortgage rate can I expect?]

Obama Should Check Out 15-Year Fixed Rates

But since they’re already seven years into a 30-year mortgage, and have presumably paid a ton of interest, it would probably suit them best to take a look at a 15-year fixed mortgage instead.

[30-year vs. 15-year mortgage]

Rates on the 15-year fixed are closer to 3%, so assuming the Obamas can snag a rate at 3% even, their monthly payment would climb nearly $700 to $4,143.49, which I’m sure they could afford.

But they’d pay less than $150,000 in interest over the entire duration of the new loan, which would definitely save them some money. Probably a few hundred thousand for that matter.

And they’d own their house sooner, preferably before retiring.

So President Obama, if you’re reading this, you may want to consider shopping around for a refinance.

Don’t Be Lazy

All jokes aside, the takeaway from this story is that there are a ton of homeowners out there that don’t take the time to shop their mortgage rate.

Yes, it’s a pain in the you know what, and it may all seem rather daunting, but think about all the other “stuff” you subject yourself to in order to save a few bucks here and there.

In the grand scheme of things, you could save a ton of money while putting in a very little amount of work.

So if you haven’t refinanced yet, grab a calculator and take a look at rates to determine if it’s the right move for you.

Read more: When to refinance a mortgage.

About the Author: Colin Robertson

Before creating this blog, Colin worked as an account executive for a wholesale mortgage lender in Los Angeles. He has been writing passionately about mortgages for 15 years.

Source: thetruthaboutmortgage.com

Financial Planning Lessons Regular Folks Can Learn from Professional Athletes

Baseball season is in full swing now. While the finances of baseball players and other professional athletes are not quite the same as yours or mine, what can we learn from their financial challenges? A lot, according to a financial planner for players on three pro teams.

I interviewed Scott Morrison for his take on the financial curveballs he faces while working with his clients.  He’s the President of Pennant Asset Management and a financial planner for professional athletes on teams including the New York Mets, the Chicago White Sox and the Oakland Athletics. 

Hey, Big Spenders?

Matt Goren: What is the first impression people have when you say you work with professional athletes to help manage their finances?

Scott Morrison: Athletes often carry around the “dumb jock” stereotype that they want to blow all their money faster than they receive it. Does it happen from time to time? Unfortunately, yes. But what has surprised me most is that athletes are coming in more educated now than ever before – many are frugal and want to track every penny of where their paycheck goes.  

Matt Goren: Frugal athletes is definitely not my stereotype. Is this a baseball thing?

Scott Morrison: I think the sport definitely has something to do with it. In baseball, it usually takes a while to get to the major leagues after draft day. Minor league salaries and lifestyles are, to be kind, not very luxurious, so there is a very real concern about how they will survive financially until they get called up to the big leagues. It forces players to be smart and to make their money last.

Matt Goren: We hear about some giant contracts, but they’re not very common. More often, an athlete gets a signing bonus to join the team and maybe a short contract. Professional athletes don’t normally see the big dollars until their second deal – if ever.

Scott Morrison: With athletes, we often plan as if they aren’t going to make another cent on top of their signing bonus. If and when they do make it to the big leagues and sign multiyear contracts for multimillions, then the fun can really begin. But from the start, we have to protect their initial lump sum with the correct budgets and strategies.

Their Biggest Challenge May Sound Familiar

Matt Goren: What is the biggest challenge you encounter?

Scott Morrison: Taxes! One of their biggest concerns is the amount of tax they have to pay on their signing bonuses and then again in the future on their major league contracts. Players often overlook that this large lump sum isn’t as large as it first appears.

Matt Goren: And that’s a lesson for the rest of us: Our take-home pay after taxes is much less than our gross pay. What other challenges do they have? Do you see problems with overspending?

Scott Morrison: Ultra-luxurious items are the No. 1 spending problem I run into. Aside from the designer items – the Louis backpack, the Gucci wallet, the Yeezy’s, etc. – many newly drafted athletes want to buy the Porsche and the million-dollar-plus home all with their signing bonus. I go through the taxation presentation and then, all of a sudden, they get a lot more realistic.

To be sure, not every penny needs to go into the bank – but we need a realistic approach that considers their uncertain longevity on the field. Is the boat, car and house out of the question? Absolutely not! All I’m saying is, depending on the signing bonus, maybe one or two of those items can be shelved until they are making big league salaries.

Matt Goren: Like retirement savings nest eggs, I’m sure that on-the-field money can be multiplied with sound investments. What sorts of challenges do you see there?

Scott Morrison: The biggest mistake I find that young players make is not all that different than young professionals with their retirement savings – they don’t understand the concept of putting their money to work for them, and they think it’s OK to leave their money on the sidelines. Once they see how important and beneficial it is to have their money appropriately invested, they all say the same thing: “I wish I had started earlier.”

Some Interesting Investment Choices

Matt Goren: Are there certain types of investments that athletes ask you about?

Scott Morrison: I have found an obsessiveness around real estate. So many young athletes want to dig into the cryptocurrency world as well – it’s crazy!

I also get a lot of requests from my clients asking about getting involved with childhood friends’ or distant family members’ businesses. There is always a long-lost friend or cousin who comes out of the woodwork asking for an influx of cash into their business, and it’s important for athletes to be prudent when considering those investments.  

Matt Goren: Good that they found you, then. How do you usually meet your clients?

Scott Morrison: Being a former Division I baseball player, I understand many of the complexities they are dealing with. I’ve known some of my clients since before they became professional athletes. Ultimately, the reason clients choose an adviser is because of relatability and relationships. Players want to trust their money with someone who they feel comfortable with.

Matt Goren: If you need a “pitch” to your clients at all, what would that pitch be?

Scott Morrison: Utilize a professional financial adviser who understands your situation so we can put the right guardrails in place. By working with a professional, athletes can focus on their performance on the field and – to the extent it makes sense – enjoy their money now. They’ve worked hard for their money, and we want them to enjoy it! We also want to make sure that they don’t have to work another day once their career is over if they don’t want to!

The Bottom Line for Athletes and the Rest of Us

Matt Goren: And that, to me, sounds exactly like why so many everyday people work with a financial professional.Scott Morrison: Sure, the numbers change, but the strategies for the most part don’t – depending on the risk tolerance and suitability. Ultimately, we want to preserve our clients’ wealth not just for years to come, but for generations to come. It doesn’t matter if it’s a professional athlete or a business owner, or families and individuals, I want our clients to enjoy their hard-earned assets. But no matter who it is, we want to encourage intentional, smart decisions.

Matt Goren: Agreed – thanks, Scott, for your insights! To everyone reading, you don’t have to be a big-league player to make great plays with your money. Focus on the long term, invest for your future, and avoid the temptation to buy that new yacht. If you need some coaching and guidance, make sure to reach out to a professional financial planner who can help you reach those goals.

Assistant Professor of Financial Planning, The American College of Financial Services

Matt J. Goren is an Assistant Professor of Financial Planning at The American College of Financial Services who focuses on the interplay of personal finance and psychology. In addition to teaching and developing content, he provides strategic consulting on financial literacy initiatives and hosts a personal finance radio show, Nothing Funny About Money, which was named 2018’s most outstanding consumer financial information resource by the AFCPE.

Source: kiplinger.com

5 Cards to Help You Quickly Save Up for Summer Vacation

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How to Remove Dark Stains from Your Whites

We’ve all been there. You’re on a date, wearing fresh white clothes, and suddenly a meatball rolls off your fork and onto your shirt. Or, you’re rushing out of the coffee shop on the way to work and someone accidentally bumps into you– as a result, the hot coffee spills down the front of your classic white button-down shirt.

Sometimes it seems like stains seek out clothes made of white material. You never have an accident when you’re wearing a dark shirt! Luckily, there are ways to remove stains from whites before they start to set in– and the best stain remover may be sitting in your pantry. Here’s a basic guide to get those pesky stains out.

Step 1: Keeping the stain from setting

The most important step, and this applies to any stains on any materials, is to keep them from setting. If it’s given time to set, it’s basically impossible to get the stain out later, so you need to start acting now.

The first thing is to remove any excess gunk. Liquids probably won’t have this, but anything thick enough to scrape (tomato sauce, mud, the like) needs to be removed immediately.

Next comes pre-treating, which depends on where you are at the time. If you’re out somewhere this is where it’s helpful to carry a stain pen with you – something like a Tide pen – to start treating the stain right away. If you’re at home, you can soak it in the sink, using the right combination of water and the right cleaner. There are different types of stains and materials to take into consideration, leading us to:

Step 2: Understanding different materials

Different fabrics react differently to stain removers, so it’s important to know what you’re working with before you get started. Always check your tags for care instructions before applying harsh bleaches or other solvents.

Here are a few common materials and the best stain remover method for each:

Cotton : Cotton is a very durable fabric, but try to avoid using bleach, even if it’s diluted. First try using a detergent or an acid, such as white vinegar or lemon juice in warm water.

Polyester: For polyester, it’s best not to use bleach at all. Use dish soap or laundry detergent.

Linen: Linen is generally sturdy but becomes weaker when it’s wet. Don’t use undiluted bleach on linens– either dilute it or use a more gentle, natural detergent.

Wool: Look for detergents that are specifically marked as safe for wool, mixed with lukewarm water.

Silk : The best stain remover for silk is glycerin, avoiding bleach altogether. You’ll want to rinse the entire garment, not just the stained area.

Step 3: Choosing the best stain remover for the job

Different stains, along with each separate type of light material, call for different methods of removal. You may even need to treat some stains a couple of different ways to remove both oil or grease and color. Here are some common stain removal methods and what stains they’re best used for:

Absorbents : Absorbents, including salt, corn starch, and talcum powder, are effective for leeching oil or grease out of fabric. After prepping the fabric with water or club soda, sprinkle an absorbent over the stain and let it sit for 10 to 15 minutes, then scrape it off.

Mild Acids : Vinegar and lemon juice are effective on liquid stains, like coffee or tea. These acids won’t damage fabrics, so it’s a good idea to try them with any stain before moving onto harsher methods.

Detergents : Dish detergents are particularly adept at removing oil and grease stains.

Bleach : There are two types of bleach: oxidized and chlorine. Chlorine is very harsh and should be avoided as much as possible for most fabrics. Oxidized bleach, like hydrogen peroxide, is good for treating greaseless color stains– say, from sweat, makeup, or wine.

Glycerin : Glycerin can be bought at any grocery or drug store, and is also effective at removing colors. Use glycerin for treating ink or dye stains. 

Read more: Stay Safe When Cleaning

Take it to a professional

After you apply whatever you decide is the best stain remover for your particular mishap, wash the garment like you normally would. Before it goes in the dryer, check to see if the wash cycle cleared up the last of the stain, or if there’s any remaining. If the stain is still prominent, take it to a dry cleaner and let them have a go at it.

The donts of removing stains from whites

Never apply pressure when you’re trying to remove a dark stain from a white material. The pressure can force the stain further into the fabric, making it more likely to bond and set. Soak the fabric in a stain remover of your choice or lightly dab the stained area with a cotton ball or damp rag. Don’t use hot water, and no drying or ironing the fabric until the stain is completely gone.

Read more: Tips to Maximize Your Laundry Trips and How to Keep You Apartment Cleaning Earth-Friendly

Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

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Source: apartmentguide.com