How to Use the Debt Lasso Method to Pay Off Debt Faster

Remember how we talked about the importance of committing because of later temptations? Here’s where that comes into play.
By automating your payments, you’ll be less tempted to reduce the amount when your minimum payment goes down — sort of an out-of-sight-out-of-mind mentality.
And don’t limit yourself to credit card offers. Using a personal loan to pay off multiple cards has the same effect.
Before you reach the end of a zero-interest period, start looking for other offers that allow you to transfer your balance so you can avoid getting socked with the new higher interest rate on your old card.

What Is the Debt Lasso Method?

Auten and Schneider should know: They started their own debt lasso journey with ,000 in credit card debt. After years of poor financial choices, the couple was sitting on the floor of their basement apartment when they realized that their debt would never allow them to buy a house or enjoy life the way their friends were.
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Who Should Use the Debt Lasso?

Decide on an amount greater than your total minimum monthly payments that you can reliably put toward your debt every month.
So if you have ,000 in credit card debt and your gross income (before taxes and other deductions are taken out) is ,000, you’re a good candidate for the debt lasso. But if you have ,000 in credit card debt with the same salary, you may want to seek other assistance to help you pay off your credit card debt.

Pro Tip
We’ll look at all the pieces, but let’s first decide if the debt lasso method can help you.

And if you’re wondering when you’ll reach the end of your debt lasso, they include a calculator on to help you figure out how long it will take to pay off credit cards based on your interest rates and debt amounts.
Stop using your credit cards. No exceptions.

How the Debt Lasso Method Works

This portrait shows a gay couple sitting on a couch together in the mountains after being married.
Developed by David Auten, left, and John Schneider, the married couple known as the Debt Free Guys, the debt lasso method involves corralling your high-interest debt into a low-interest one so you can pay down the principal balance more quickly. Photo courtesy of Studio Lemus

To determine if the debt lasso method is right for you, start by adding up how much you owe in credit card debt. Then compare that total debt to your annual income. If your debt is less than half of your income, the debt lasso method could work for you.

1. Commit

After you’ve paid down a portion of your balance, your credit card company tells you that your new minimum payment is only . Yay! But that doesn’t mean you now have to spend — you should continue paying 0 each month, sending even more money toward your principal balance.
Saving your cash for now will let you build an emergency fund in case you do lose income. And if it turns out that you end up with an extra nest egg, consider it a bonus payment as you return to the debt lasso method.
Start with the easy wins by paying off any credit cards that have low enough balances to knock out in less than six months.
You can still benefit from the lasso method by negotiating a lower interest rate with your current credit card company or transferring the balance to a card with a substantially lower interest rate than what you’re currently paying.

  1. But if you have a less-than-stellar credit score, those offers may be tough to come by. Don’t give up.
  2. Remember that you’ve committed to not using your credit cards (see Step #1). So hold onto the ones you’ve paid off. Why?

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2. Trim

Developed by David Auten and John Schneider, also known as the Debt Free Guys, the debt lasso method involves corralling your high-interest debt into a low-interest one so you can pay down the principal balance more quickly — and for less money.
You may have multiple credit cards, but we’ll keep the example simple with one card: When you began your debt lasso journey, your minimum monthly payment was , so you committed to paying 0 on your credit card — 0 extra each month.
Time to saddle up.

3. Lasso

So they made a two-part commitment — which you’ll also need to do if you want to use the debt lasso method:
You cannot successfully use the debt lasso method unless you’re willing to commit.
Automating your minimum monthly payments for all but your lassoed credit card will allow you to focus on paying off one debt at a time. But automating your payments can do even more to help.
But if you fall somewhere in between, the lasso could help you pay off debt in a shorter amount of time and with less interest.
Compared to the average rate on credit cards, which was 17.13% in the third quarter of 2021, personal loans offered a better deal at 9.39%, according to the Federal Reserve.
If the debt avalanche and snowball methods leave you feeling a bit cold when you think of all the interest you’ll end up paying, consider the debt lasso method.
This is no time to put your debt payment strategy out to pasture. Monitoring your accounts is an important last step, as those credit card rates can run wild if left unattended.
Each time you pay off one credit card, put your money toward paying off the next highest balance.
“That was our particular rock-bottom moment, realizing that here we were in this financial and literal hole,” Schneider said.
Although opening new accounts could temporarily hurt your credit score, Auten and Schneider emphasized that the long-term benefits of paying off debt faster can help counteract that effect.
Tiffany Wendeln Connors is a staff writer/editor at The Penny Hoarder who is fully committed to corny puns. Read her bio and other work here, then catch her on Twitter @TiffanyWendeln.

4. Automate

“If you do get an offer and then you end up not being able to make your payments, then you could get stuck with an interest rate that’s 25 to 30%,” Auten said.
Ready to stop worrying about money?
Although it may be tempting to pay every dime toward your debt, don’t drain your emergency fund when practicing the debt lasso method.
The early victory not only offers a psychological benefit but also helps your credit score.
If you’ve read about other debt payoff methods, you might be wondering if the lasso method is just a balance transfer. Auten and Schneider get that question a lot.
Ready to wrangle in that credit card debt?

5. Monitor

This woman monitors her accounts online.
Getty Images

Maintaining those credit lines will decrease your credit utilization, which accounts for approximately 30% of your credit score. And the higher your credit score, the better position you’ll be in when you’re ready to lasso.
Want to learn more? Auten and Schneider told us all about the debt lasso, including who it can help the most — and who shouldn’t use it.

Credit card agreements often include a clause in the fine print that allows them to raise your interest rates if you miss a payment during the zero-interest offer period. Some will even sneak in the right to recoup any money you saved previously during the promotional period at the new interest rate.
The takeaway lesson: Read the fine print.

Who Should NOT Use the Debt Lasso Method — For Now

A word of warning: If you’re in an industry where you could be furloughed or laid off suddenly, you should probably hold your horses — and your cash.
If you have a good or excellent credit score, finding a zero-interest offer where you can transfer your highest interest credit card debt should be your goal.
Committing to the process is essential, Auten and Schneider said, as it will help you later when you may be tempted to stray off course.
If you still have additional higher interest balances, prioritize paying off the credit card with the highest interest rate first.
You also might not benefit from taking up the lasso if you can realistically pay off your credit card debt in six months, since the associated fees (typically 3% to 5% of the amount being transferred) could cost you more than you’d save by taking advantage of a lower interest rate.
“The reality is that a central piece of the process is doing some sort of consolidation — whether that’s a balance transfer to a zero-interest credit card or a low-interest loan,” Auten said. “But a lot of people forget those first two pieces and the last two pieces.”
A card that doesn’t have a balance means you have more available credit, thus helping improve your credit score. And a higher credit score will help you get approved for another zero-interest credit card.

Putting all of the extra money toward your card with the highest interest rate will help you pay the least amount of interest over time. And that’s where the last step becomes crucial.



“To get you from 20% to 25% down to a 9% to 15% — that’s a great first step,” Schneider said.

Best Personal Loans for 2020

Maybe it was an unexpected dental procedure, or a tax bill you didn’t plan for, or a car repair that came out of nowhere.

Whatever the reason, if you need money quickly, a personal loan can deliver it.

As you shop for a personal loan to solve your short-term problem, look for loan terms that won’t hurt your long-term financial life.

7 Best Personal Loans & Lenders for 2020

Online lending has opened a new world of personal loan options. 

Not that long ago we had just a couple of legitimate choices:

  • Your Local Bank or Credit Union: You can usually borrow money at a decent fixed interest rate at your neighborhood bank or credit union. The downside: You’d need to make an appointment or at least spend an hour or two on the phone.
  • A Credit Card: It’s hard to beat the convenience of a credit card, but the interest rates, late fees, and over-the-limit charges can make this option too volatile.

We still have these two options, and sometimes they can get the job done. But we also have scores of online lenders that compete to give you installment loans with more competitive interest rates. You can also finalize loans and receive money more quickly online.

Here are some of the best personal loan choices:

  • Credible
  • LendingClub
  • Payoff
  • Prosper
  • SoFi
  • LendingTree

Credible Personal Loans

I’m starting here because Credible isn’t a lender. It’s a way to connect with and compare a variety of lenders, including several from lower on this list. To start the process, you’ll submit Credible’s initial application which generates up to six loan offers.

This initial process will run a soft check of your credit score which shouldn’t hurt your score the way a hard check can. If you like one of the offers, you can complete the next steps to apply for the loan which will, of course, result in a hard credit check.

Pros & Cons of Credible Personal Loans


  • An efficient way to compare loan offers
  • Fast and easy application process
  • Many quality participating lenders


  • Not for people with credit scores below 640
  • Could result in unwanted phone calls from lenders

LendingClub Personal Loans

I was an early fan of LendingClub back in 2007, and I still recommend this trailblazer in the peer-to-peer (P2P) lending market.

Rather than using bank funds, P2P lenders finance your loan with money from investors. You’ll still have to go through an application process, but LendingClub has opened new doors to people who don’t want to borrow from a bank.

  • Loan Amount: LendingClub’s maximum loan amount is $40,000. You can repay the money in terms ranging from three to five years. 
  • Costs: Interest rates typically range from 7 to 36 percent depending on your qualifications. The higher your qualifications, the lower your rate.

LendingClub continues to evolve. It now has debt consolidation loans and allows for co-signers which lets more people borrow.

Pros & Cons of LendingClub Personal Loans


  • Credit scores of 600 can get approval
  • New co-sign option lets more people borrow
  • Debt consolidation loans available
  • No prepayment fee


  • Loan origination fees (1% of loan)
  • Check processing fee ($7)

Payoff Personal Loans

As the name indicates, Payoff Personal Loans specializes in debt consolidation, helping you pay off other debts. You can potentially save money by having fewer loans and paying a lower interest rate.

The payoff isn’t a good option for people with shaky credit, though. 

You’d need a score of 650 to 660 — and a few years of credit history on your report — to get approval at a decent interest rate. So don’t wait until you’ve already fallen behind on your other debts to consolidate with Payoff.

  • Loan Amounts: Eligible borrowers can get up to $35,000 to pay off other lenders such as credit cards, auto loans, or other personal loans.
  • Interest Rates: Loans range from about 6 to 25 percent depending on your borrowing credentials.

Pros & Cons of Payoff Personal Loans


  • No late or check processing fees
  • No prepayment penalty
  • See interest rate without a hard credit check


  • Not for people with shaky credit
  • A loan origination fee of 2% to 5%

Applicants with rocky credit histories appreciate because the site lends to people with credit scores as low as 580.

  • Loan Amount: You could borrow up to $35,000 on a six-year (72-month) payback plan through Spreading money across six years can lead to lower monthly payments.
  • Interest Rates: This sounds like a friendly situation, but remember you’ll pay higher interest — up to 36 percent — if you have a lower credit score, and the interest can increase your monthly loan payment significantly.

Pros & Cons of


  • Available to credit scores 580+
  • Easy-to-use online application
  • Up to 72-month term loans
  • Access money within a day


  • Wide range of interest rates (5.9%-35.99%)
  • Uses a third-party lender

Prosper Personal Loans

Many borrowers like the way Prosper Personal Loans gives them a platform to share why they need to borrow money. This opportunity comes during the application process to this P2P lender. You can use this platform to appeal directly to the investors who would be funding your loan.

Of course, the numbers will tell their story, too: You’d need at least a 640 credit score to get funding, and Prosper’s rates range from 6.9 to 35.99 percent APR.

  • Loan Amount: If you qualify, you could borrow up to $40,000 with payments spread over three to five years.
  • Interest Rates: Prosper also offers a wide range of rates, from 6.9 to 35.99 percent.

Pros & Cons of Prosper Personal Loans


  • Soft credit check to see terms
  • No prepayment penalties
  • Fast and efficient service


  • Higher interest for lower credit scores
  • Origination fee can reach 5%
  • Late fee is steep ($15 or 5% of payment, whichever is higher)

SoFi Personal Loans

SoFi has become a standard in student loan consolidation, but the lender also has personal, unsecured loans for non-academic borrowing.

SoFi stands out because the lender does not focus exclusively on an applicant’s credit score. This can be misleading because you’d still need a 680 or higher to get a loan.

But SoFi will not deny a loan if you have a short credit history as many lenders do. Instead, this P2P lender will consider your career and earning potential. In this way, SoFi can be a good fit for young professionals starting new careers.

SoFi calls its borrowers “members” and hosts social gatherings in major cities for members which can lead to networking opportunities.

  • Loan Amounts: SoFi will lend up to $100,000 which is significantly higher than most online lenders.
  • Interest Rates: SoFi’s rates range from 5.75 to about 17 percent.

Pros & Cons of SoFi Personal Loans


  • Larger loan amounts (up to $100,000)
  • Good for someone with a short or thin credit history
  • Flexibility to change due dates
  • No loan origination fee


  • Funding can take up to 7 business days
  • 680 or higher credit score required

LendingTree Personal Loans

I started this list with Credible, an aggregator, and I’ll conclude it with a nod to another aggregator.  LendingTree helped establish one-stop shopping for loans back in 1998, and the service has continued to lead the industry.

Like Credible, LendingTree turns one application into loan offers from a variety of lenders. You’ll still need to assess each offer on its own merits, but LendingTree can save you a lot of legwork.

Pros & Cons of LendingTree Personal Loans


  • Efficient way to shop
  • Trusted leader in the field


  • Can send too many loan solicitations 

Other Personal Loan Options to Consider

My list of best personal loan providers above includes most well-known lenders. You’ve probably heard of most of them already.

Below I’m including a list of lesser-known options that have gotten my attention for various reasons. Most of these are loan matching services with P2P funding sources.


AmOne has been around 20 years and has about a million customers. I like the company’s versatility. It can handle all sorts of borrowing needs, including personal loans.

  • Amounts: Loans range from $1,000 to $100,000.
  • Interest rates: You’ll find a wide range, but highly qualified borrowers should get competitive rates. 


Fiona provides another loan-matching service similar to Credible or LendingTree. The service hasn’t been around long, but it’s growing quickly by partnering with a lot of the lenders on this list.

Fiona works quickly — many applicants have funds within a business day.


Yet another loan shopping service, Monevo stands out because of its speed and its high loan amounts. You could borrow $100,000 through the site.

I like the site’s simplicity and its large volume of partnering lenders which means a wider variety of borrowers can benefit.

Federal Trust

Federal Trust partners with Fiona, which I listed above, to match loan shoppers with potential lenders. 

You could borrow up to $100,000, and with such a wide variety of lenders in their network, Federal Trust can find competitive rates for eligible borrowers.

I also like Federal Trust’s option of a seven-year installment loan for someone who needs to keep loan payments as low as possible.

Will A Personal Loan Work For You?

Yes, personal loans can help get you out of a tough financial spot. But they’ll also cost you money for months or years, depending on how long you need to pay back the loan. 

It goes without saying: You should always look for the lowest, fixed interest rates when borrowing. 

Here are some other ways to save money when you borrow:

  • Look for Shorter-Term Loans: Monthly payments will be higher with shorter-term loans, but you’ll pay less money over the life of the loan. If you can afford the higher payments, go with a shorter-term loan.
  • Avoid Fees: Even if you’re getting a lower interest rate, be sure the lender isn’t compensating by charging high origination fees or punitive late fees that could eclipse your savings on interest. 
  • Pay it Off Early: Look for a loan with no prepayment penalty, but even if you would incur a prepayment fee, consider whether this fee would exceed the interest you’d be paying over the life of your loan. 
  • Avoid Borrowing: Maybe this isn’t the time or place, but as a financial advisor I have to say it: If you can save up an emergency fund, you may be able to avoid borrowing in the first place. I recommend having at least three months of income in reserve. Then you can borrow from yourself in an emergency. Maybe it’s too late to save for the current emergency, but this is something to think about when life gets back under control.

Wherever you borrow — online or at a neighborhood bank — try to look out for your future as well as your present financial situation.

The post Best Personal Loans for 2020 appeared first on Good Financial Cents®.


11 Super-Simple Ways to Build Wealth in 2022

A wealthy couple
Jacob Lund /

To paraphrase William Shakespeare, some people are born wealthy and others achieve wealth. If you weren’t lucky enough to be in the first group, then it’s time to get going on your self-made fortune.

Think that can’t happen? You’re wrong. Pathways to wealth are everywhere. Why shouldn’t you take them?

Some of these smart choices will save you money upfront. Next, use that money to make more money through strategies like fractional investing and online wealth management.

Want to put yourself on the road to riches? These tactics can help.

1. Used Chevy or new Mercedes?

Save $100 a month, earn 1% on it and after 20 years you’ll have $26,545. Enough for a used Chevy.

Boost that percentage to 15%, and you’ll end up with $124,569 after 20 years. That’s nearly $100,000 more: enough for a new Mercedes.

Of course, earning 15% isn’t easy (the stock market’s average return is about 10%) and never guaranteed, but here’s something that is guaranteed: You won’t be earning big returns at the bank.

If you want to super-charge your savings, you’ve got to invest.

Plenty of people grow up thinking that “investing” is something only rich people do. Not so! You can start your investing journey with as little as $1, without paying a dime in fees, thanks to an investing app called Public.

With the Public app, you take part in “fractional investing,” which means buying little slivers of companies, funds or crypto assets. Take your choice from among thousands of exchange-traded funds (ETFs) and stocks.

Start by signing up and telling the app what investing experience (if any) you have and what your investing goals are. According to Public, 90% of users are in it for the long haul.

There’s no charge to join, although you’re allowed to leave tips on transactions. And again: You can start with as little as $1. What else can you get for a buck these days? Even dollar stores are raising their prices!

Download the app now, and take the first step toward getting rich instead of just getting by.

2. Chop your car insurance bill by $700 a year

Auto insurance is a must. You know what isn’t a must? Paying too much for coverage.

People who switch to Progressive for their auto insurance can save up to $700 – not just initially, but every year. Imagine what you could do with an extra $700 in your budget.

Emergency fund? Extra payment against your mortgage? Retirement planning? It’s your call. Point is, those are dollars that are now working for you instead of for someone else.

Incidentally, a cheaper premium doesn’t mean you’re cheaping out on protection. Progressive is known for its strong coverage. Request your free quote now and see how much you can save this year, and every year.

3. Let mortgage savings put your kids through college

If you’re currently paying about 4% on your mortgage, refinancing could lower your rate to as low as 2.376%.

Not much of a difference, right?

Well, if your mortgage is $300,000, that lower rate would mean paying about $94,000 less in interest over the life of the loan. That’s enough to put your kids through college, start your own business or retire earlier.

Maybe you know the savings would be significant, but haven’t refinanced yet because it seems so complicated. It isn’t. A direct lender called Better will make it child’s play.

The simplifying starts with a near-instant rate quote, and continues through the refinancing process. Better doesn’t charge origination fees or lender fees, and you can get a mortgage interest rate lock if you like.

Millions of homeowners around the country are saving every month because they refinanced. But the experts are saying these low rates won’t last. It’s do-it-or-lose-it time.

Get your new, personalized rate today, and make strides toward a better tomorrow.

4. Stop worrying about expensive household breakdowns

For most of us, our home is our most valuable asset. We put a lot of money down to buy it and pay a lot of money each month to keep it. Sometimes we’re stretched pretty thin financially, so when things break down it can be tough to cover the fixes.

The heating/cooling system grinds to a halt. A major appliance gives up the ghost. And why are the lights flickering — could it be the electrical panel?

What you need is a full-time maintenance person.

The next best thing? A home warranty from America’s 1st Choice Home Club. You can choose from among several coverage plans that cover issues with appliances, plumbing, heating, electrical systems and more. You can use your own technician or let America’s 1st Choice send someone over.

A breakdown happens in the middle of the night? Doesn’t matter. The in-house service team is available 24/7.

All this starting for as little as $390 a year.

Homeownership is great. But when things go wrong — and they will! — we can no longer call the landlord. We are the landlord, and we might go into debt just to keep things running smoothly.

Stop worrying about household breakdowns, and the high costs that come with them. Get a free quote in 30 seconds.

5. Get paid to watch videos and take surveys

Think of all the time you spend waiting somewhere. Waiting for the spin cycle in the laundromat. Waiting at the auto shop until the mechanic can give you an estimate. Waiting for your kid’s sports practice to be over. Waiting in an exam room for the doctor, who’s running 20 minutes late.

You could spend that time watching funny cat videos — or you could use that time to make some money. Our friends at InboxDollars can help you with the latter.

InboxDollars is a rewards site that pays you actual cash to watch videos and take surveys. Seriously: Why not use your downtime to make money?

Those aren’t the only ways to earn money with InboxDollars, however. You can also do some online shopping, click on daily emails, scan your grocery receipts into the “Magic Receipts” function, complete special offers (especially those for things you’d planned to buy anyway), play games and even help others by making donations to various causes.

From now on, get paid for waiting. It takes seconds to sign up, and you’ll get a $5 welcome bonus just for joining.

6. Find cheaper homeowners insurance in 60 seconds

Again, our homes are usually our most valuable asset. It’s essential to make sure they’re protected in the event of an emergency. But how do you know whether you’re overpaying for homeowners insurance?

Simple: You ask Lemonade for an estimate. It takes only a few seconds to find out whether you could be keeping more of your hard-earned money each month. Lemonade’s coverage starts from just $25 a month.

Homeowners insurance isn’t just about fixing things up after a fire, though. The dog bit the mailman? Lemonade can help with legal and medical payments.

A thief steals your stuff? Lemonade has your back, even if the theft happened away from home.

Your home rendered unlivable due to that fire? A homeowners insurance policy through Lemonade will cover expenses until you can get back into your home sweet home.

Why overpay with your current carrier? Find cheaper home insurance in seconds.

7. Add $1.7 million extra to your retirement

A recent Vanguard study indicated that a self-managed $500,000 investment would grow into $1.69 million in 25 years, on average. Sounds pretty good, huh?

However, with professional help, that same $500,000 would have turned into $3.4 million. In other words, a quality financial adviser could double your retirement nest egg!

At least talk to a pro, especially when finding one is free and easy. SmartAsset is a free service that will match you with a qualified money manager who can help you put your money where it will do you the most good.

Bank interest rates don’t beat inflation, so the value of your savings erodes over time. Stocks and other investments have historically beaten inflation, but a lack of knowledge and experience leaves you vulnerable to dodgy advice or financial scams.

SmartAsset will put you in touch with up to three local, experienced professionals, all of whom are fiduciaries, meaning they’re required to put your best interests over their own. They can give you a clear picture of where you are now, and help you develop the right plan for the long term.

Since the first appointment is often free, what have you got to lose? If you’re ready to at least consider a local adviser, check it out.

8. Protect your wealth with a gold IRA

Not everyone is comfortable with traditional retirement investments. Some people are opting for a “gold IRA,” which is just what it sounds like: gold, gold and more gold. This can be bullion (coins or bars) only, or also include gold stocks, ETFs and mutual funds. Gold is one of the few commodities that the Internal Revenue Service approves as an IRA investment. It’s a finite resource, rather than one that can be controlled by governments or banks.

Sound intriguing? Time to educate yourself, with help from American Hartford Gold.

This family-owned company can help you set up a gold IRA that meets all IRS standards. Chief among them: The gold must be kept at an approved depository. (No, you can’t bury it in your backyard.)

There may be less than 20 years’ worth of mineable gold remaining in the ground. As the saying goes about real estate, they ain’t making any more of it. Demand for gold is rising all over the world, especially in the electronics industry, so your IRA has a great chance to increase its value until you’re ready to retire.

American Hartford Gold has an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau, and a 5-star rating with TrustPilot. Get your free investors kit now.

9. Diversify your portfolio with art collected by billionaires

Billionaires didn’t become billionaires by making bad investment choices. And billionaires have been collecting art for generations; for example, the Rockefellers amassed a collection that sold for an eye-popping $835 million in 2017.

But it isn’t just the ultra-rich who can invest in art by Banksy, Warhol and Picasso. With a new investing app called Masterworks, you can invest in iconic artworks as well – right alongside deep-pocketed folks like Bill Gates, Oprah Winfrey and Jeff Bezos.

Blue-chip art outpaced the S&P 500 from 1995-2021, which is impressive considering that historic bull run we’re now witnessing. The Wall Street Journal recently reported that art is “among the hottest markets on Earth.”

Art also has one of the lowest correlations to stocks that you can find. In other words, art’s value doesn’t have anything to do with the stock market’s wild swings, which makes it a good hedge.

Masterworks is an invitation-only art investment platform. So if you want to invest like a billionaire, request your invitation to join here.

10. Borrow $50,000 to erase your debt

Ever feel like you’ll never get out from under your credit card debt? Consumer debt is way too easy to get into, yet sometimes feels impossible to escape. You pay as much as you can each month, but the high interest rate just keeps piling on the dollars.

AmOne is a free service that matches people like you with loan providers. When you fill out one simple form online, AmOne finds lenders who want to fund your loan of up to $50,000.

Once you’ve been approved and agree on the terms, it can take as little as 24 hours to get the cash. Use the money to erase all your debt at once, then pay back the personal loan at a lower interest rate than those credit cards were charging you.

The service does only a “soft” credit pull, rather than have you going directly to lenders and getting “hard” credit pulls that affect your credit score. And speaking of your credit score: You don’t need an “excellent” rating to be considered, since AmOne’s lending partners are willing to work with people of varying credit ratings.

AmOne has a 4.7-star rating (out of 5) on TrustPilot. It’s free to check your rate online, and it literally takes just one minute.

11. Pay no interest until 2023 with a better card

Another way to deal with high credit card balances? Get another credit card. Specifically, get a 0% APR card, transfer those balances and get charged no interest while you’re paying down the debt.

There’s another good reason to get a 0% APR card: to get free financing on a big-ticket item.

Suppose your HVAC system goes out or your car needs a few thousand bucks’ worth of repairs. Rather than deplete your emergency fund, pay with that new 0% APR card to give yourself some breathing room while you pay it off.

How much breathing room? Anywhere from 15 to 21 months, depending on the card you choose.

You’ll need a plan to go along with that new card: no more using the other cards with unnecessary splurges while you pay off the 0% APR card. It doesn’t make sense to run up more debt while you’re paying off old debt.

But with a 0% card, you’ll pay no interest. Think of all the interest you’d been paying, and what those dollars could have done for your long-term financial security. With a 0% APR card, you won’t have to waste any more of your hard-earned dollars on interest.

Compare these top cards and discover the best one for you.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.


The Big Financial Stories of 2021 and What to Expect in 2022

From high inflation rates and meme stocks like Game Stop to the economy trying to recover from the first year of the pandemic, a lot happened in 2021 that impacted our finances. As we get ready to celebrate the holidays and ring in the new year, it’s a good time to look back on what happened in 2021 and how we can prepare for the future. 

Inflation Reaches an Almost 40-Year High

High prices for gas, lumber, homes and groceries started making headlines as early as May of 2021. The U.S. consumer price index rose 6.2% over the previous year in October, marking the biggest jump in inflation since December of 1990. It was even worse in November, with prices rising 6.8%, the fastest pace since 1982. Despite more workers in the U.S. bringing home more in each paycheck, people can’t tell due to the higher prices of consumer goods they’re seeing. 

As much as we hope these increased costs will be left behind in 2021, economists aren’t optimistic about 2022. But there are some things you can do now to prepare for these unexpected price increases. Prioritizing your debt will give you the wiggle room in your budget to react to inflated prices at the pump or grocery store. Concentrate on paying off one debt at a time while still making minimum payments on your other debts. 

Another way to combat inflation is by contributing to your emergency fund to cushion the blow of rising costs. Your emergency fund should have enough money to cover three to six months of expenses. You may also want to reach out to an expert. Financial professionals have a lot of experience fitting the cost of inflation into a budget. They can be a good resource to make sure you’re on the right path when it comes to your finances.

RMDs Return

Required minimum distributions, or RMDs, are a mandatory withdrawal that retirees must take from qualified accounts, such as 401(k)s, traditional IRAs or 403(b)s, starting at age 72 for anyone born on July 1, 1949, or later –  or 70-½ if you were born before then.

In 2020, minimum withdrawals were suspended for retirees under the CARES Act. The idea was to give retired taxpayers some relief after the stock market dropped more than 30% in March 2020. The 2020 provision let the money retirees would have withdrawn stay in the market and hopefully recover and grow. But that change was only temporary, and in 2021 retirees were required to start making withdrawals again.

What Do We Need to Watch Out for in 2022?

Changes to the IRS Tax Brackets

The IRS makes changes to the tax bracket thresholds each year based on inflation rates. In 2022, the changes will be significant, going from 1% to 3%. For example, if a married couple was in the upper end of the 35% tax bracket in 2021, in 2022 they can make almost $20,000 more before being bumped up into the top tax bracket of 37%.

We can prepare for changes like these by planning all year-round. Utilizing various tax-planning strategies during your working years can help keep your tax burden management during retirement. If you have concerns about how tax changes could impact your financial future, speak with a financial professional. 

401(k) Contribution Changes

The IRS is also changing the maximum amount taxpayers can contribute to their 401(k)s. In 2022, the amount people can contribute to their 401(k) will increase by $1,000 to $20,500 (plus $6,500 more as a catch-up contribution if you are 50 or older, for a grand total of $27,000).

For traditional and Roth IRA contributions,  the amount people can contribute is the same as in 2021 ($6,000 per year, or $7,000 if you’re 50 or older). However, more high-income individuals will be able to contribute to Roth IRAs next year. The IRS increased the income phase-out range for taxpayers making these contributions. It will range from $129,000 to $144,000 for single taxpayers, and from $204,000 to $214,000 for those who are married filing jointly.

Understanding what changes are coming in the new year can make a big difference in your financial future. Sit down with a financial adviser to create a plan to help you meet your retirement goals.

Founder & CEO, Drake and Associates

Tony Drake is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™and the founder and CEO of Drake & Associates in Waukesha, Wis. Tony is an Investment Adviser Representative and has helped clients prepare for retirement for more than a decade. He hosts The Retirement Ready Radio Show on WTMJ Radio each week and is featured regularly on TV stations in Milwaukee. Tony is passionate about building strong relationships with his clients so he can help them build a strong plan for their retirement.


9 Best Investing Tips for Building Wealth in 2022

New year, new investing strategy? Sorry, but that isn’t what you’ll find here. Investing doesn’t really change from year to year. It requires patience, consistency and a focus on long-term results. That’s why our best investing tips for 2022 look familiar. The best ways to invest in 2022 will still be the best ways to invest in 2023 and even 2033.

9 Smart Investing Tips for 2022 and Beyond

If you’re ready to make 2022 the year your money sizzles, follow these nine investing tips. Then sit back and watch that nest egg grow.

1. Investing while you have debt? Here’s how to prioritize.

You don’t have to wait until you’re debt-free to start investing. But sometimes it does make sense to focus on paying off debt first. Here’s how to prioritize:

  • Your employer’s 401(k) match. Contribute to your 401(k) plan to get your company match unless doing so would put you deeper in debt.
  • Paying off your high interest debt. Any debt that’s costing you above 6% to 8% a year in interest (ahem, ahem, credit card debt) gets priority before you invest further.
  • Maxing out your Roth IRA. Contribute as much as you can to your Roth IRA once you’ve slashed that costly debt. The Roth IRA limits for both 2021 and 2022 are $6,000 if you’re under 50 or $7,000 if you’re 50 or older.
  • From there, it’s up to you. You decide if you want to put additional money toward investing or lower-interest debt.

2. Start with low-cost index funds.

When you’re new to investing, the best place to start is with S&P 500 index funds — which happen to be Warren Buffett’s favorite choice for most investors. You’ll become an investor in 500 of the biggest companies in the U.S., like Apple, Amazon and Johnson & Johnson. With a single purchase, you’ll get a diversified portfolio.

3. Minimize your investment fees.

Look for funds with an expense ratio below 0.1%. That means less than $1 of every $1,000 goes toward fees. A few good S&P 500 funds that meet this criterion in no particular order: SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust (SPY), S&P 500 Index Fund (SWPPX), iShares Core 500 ETF (IVV), Fidelity 500 Index Fund (FXAIX) and Vanguard S&P 500 ETF (VOO)

4. Invest no matter what the stock market is doing.

The most successful investors practice dollar-cost averaging, which means you invest on a regular schedule whether the stock market is up or down. Your money will buy less when the market is up, but you reduce your investment costs over time because you’re locking in some low prices as well.

5. Take some risks (but do it the smart way).

By “take some risks,” we do not mean you should invest everything in Shiba Inu or try your hand at options trading. But for your money to grow, taking some risk is unavoidable. When you’re a beginning investor, it’s important to invest in stocks mostly — and that involves short-term risk. Fortunately, the stock market has a proven track record of recovering over time. As you get closer to retirement, you’ll reduce your risk by investing in bonds more and in stocks less.

6. Let a robot make your investment decisions.

Figuring out the right mix of stocks vs. bonds based on your age and risk tolerance can be tricky, even for an investment pro. So why not outsource the task to the robots?

If you have a Roth or traditional IRA or a taxable brokerage account, you can often use a robo-advisor to automatically allocate your investments. Don’t worry. They usually deliver superior results compared to their human counterparts, and they’re a lot cheaper.

Though robo-advisors are unusual for 401(k)s, you can accomplish automatic investing by choosing target-date funds.

7. Never invest your emergency fund.

If 2020 taught us anything, it’s the importance of having an emergency fund that could cover you for at least three to six months. This money does not belong in the stock market. Keep it in a savings account, money market account or certificate of deposit (CD). The downside, of course, is that interest rates are minuscule. But because these are FDIC-insured accounts, you know your money will be there no matter what.

8. Understand the difference between investing and speculating.

The world can’t get enough of risky stock trading moves, like the GameStop and AMC short squeezes. Short-term trading is basically gambling. You’re betting on the daily whims of the market. Investing is about leaving your money to grow for five to 10 years or longer. If you want to risk money on day trading, go ahead. But treat it like slot machine money: Only invest what you’re OK with losing.

9. Avoid super cheap stocks.

When you see a stock that costs a couple bucks or less, don’t mistake it for a bargain. Those stocks are often super cheap because they may soon be worthless. The companies that issue penny stocks usually have no history of profitability, and many turn out to be scams. Investing in the stock of a bankruptcy is a bad move, even if the company was once profitable. In bankruptcy proceedings, common stock usually winds up being worthless.

Robin Hartill is a certified financial planner and a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder. Send your tricky money questions to [email protected] or chat with her in The Penny Hoarder Community.