The 10 Best Stocks for a Bear Market

Bear markets are an inevitable if particularly unpleasant part of the market cycle. But investors who hold the best stocks to buy for bear markets can mitigate at least some of the damage.

No, the S&P 500 isn’t in a bear market – a 20% decline from its peak – just yet. It has, however, been flirting with one for some time. The Nasdaq Composite, for its part, fell into a bear market a while ago. 

Either way, 2022 has been a dismal year for equities with no clear end in sight. Bottoms are hard to call in real time anyway, and, besides, stocks can trade sideways for as long as they feel like it. 

And so if this is how things are going to continue, investors might want to arm themselves with the best stocks they can find. And right now, those stock picks should focus on resiliency during deep downturns.

The best bear market stocks tend to be found in defensive sectors, such as consumer staples, utilities, healthcare and even some real estate equities. Furthermore, companies with long histories of dividend growth can offer ballast when seemingly everything is selling off. And, of course, low-volatility stocks with relatively low correlations to the broader market often hold up better in down markets.

To find the best stocks to buy for bear markets, we screened the S&P 500 for stocks with the highest conviction consensus Buy recommendations from Wall Street industry analysts. We further limited ourselves to low-volatility stocks that reside in defensive sectors and offer reliable and rising dividends. Lastly, we eliminated any name that was underperforming the broader market during the current downturn.

That process left us the following 10 picks as our top candidates for the best stocks to buy for a bear market.

Share prices, price targets, analysts’ recommendations and other market data are as of May 17, courtesy of S&P Global Market Intelligence and YCharts, unless otherwise noted. Stocks are listed by conviction of analysts’ Buy calls, from weakest to strongest.

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10. Berkshire Hathaway

A Berkshire Hathaway (ticker: BRK.B) signA Berkshire Hathaway (ticker: BRK.B) sign
  • Market value: $694.1 billion
  • Dividend yield: N/A
  • Analysts’ consensus recommendation: 2.25 (Buy) 

Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.B, $314.81) gets a consensus recommendation of Buy with only modest conviction, but then a mere four analysts cover the stock.

One pro rates it at Strong Buy, one says Buy and two have it at Hold, per S&P Global Market Intelligence, which means the latter two analysts believe Buffett’s conglomerate will only match the performance of the broader market over the next 12 months or so.

That’s a reasonable assumption if stocks do indeed avoid falling into bear-market territory. BRK.B, with its relatively low correlation to the S&P 500, tends to lag in up markets. 

By the same token, however, few names generate outperformance as reliably as Berkshire does when stocks are broadly struggling. That’s by design. And Buffett’s wisdom of forgoing some upside in bull markets to outperform in bears has proven to be an incomparably successful strategy when measured over decades. 

Indeed, Berkshire’s compound annual growth (CAGR) since 1965 stands at 20.1%, according to Argus Research. That’s more than twice the S&P 500’s CAGR of 10.5%.

As one would expect, BRK.B is beating the broader market by a wide margin in 2022, too. The stock gained 5.2% for the year-to-date through May 17, vs. a decline of 14.2% for the S&P 500. 

If we do find ourselves mired in a prolonged market slump, BRK.B will probably not go along for the ride. That makes it one of the best bear market stocks to buy.

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9. CVS Health

A standalone CVS Health (ticker: CVS) businessA standalone CVS Health (ticker: CVS) business
  • Market value: $130.3 billion
  • Dividend yield: 2.1%
  • Analysts’ consensus recommendation: 1.92 (Buy) 

The healthcare sector is a traditional safe haven when markets turn south. Where CVS Health (CVS, $99.60) stands out is that few sector picks possess its unique defensive profile.

CVS is probably best known as a pharmacy chain, but it’s also a pharmacy benefits manager and health insurance company. Analysts praise the company’s multi-faceted business model for both its defensive characteristics and long-term growth prospects.

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“We are bullish on CVS tied to its unique set of assets, robust clinical capabilities and expanding presence in the attractive Medicare business,” writes Truist analyst David MacDonald, who rates the stock at Buy. “We view CVS’ integrated pharmacy/medical benefits as well positioned. Significant scale across its business lines, a strong balance sheet and robust cash flow generation provide dry powder for ongoing capital deployment activities over time.”

MacDonald has plenty of company in the bull camp. Nine analysts rate CVS at Strong Buy, nine call it a Buy and seven have it at Hold. Meanwhile, their average target price of $118.82 gives the stock implied upside of about 27% in the next 12 months or so.

Investors can also take comfort in the stock’s low volatility. Shares have a five-year beta of 0.77. Beta, a volatility metric that serves as a sort of proxy for risk, measures how a stock has traded relative to the S&P 500. Low-beta stocks tend to lag in up markets, but hold up better in down ones.

That’s certainly been the case with CVS stock this year. Shares were off 3.7% for the year-to-date through May 17, but that beat the S&P 500 by nearly 11 percentage points. Such resilience makes the case for CVS as a top bear market stock to buy.

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8. Coca-Cola

Cans of Coca-Cola (ticker: KO) in iceCans of Coca-Cola (ticker: KO) in ice
  • Market value: $285.2 billion
  • Dividend yield: 2.6%
  • Analysts’ consensus recommendation: 1.88 (Buy) 

Few names in the defensive consumer staples sector can match Coca-Cola (KO, $65.79) when it comes to blue-chip pedigree, history of dividend growth and bullishness on the part of Wall Street analysts.

Coca-Cola’s blue-chip bona fides are confirmed by its membership in the Dow Jones Industrial Average. But the company also happens to be an S&P 500 Dividend Aristocrat, boasting a dividend growth streak of 60 years and counting.

Oh, and Coca-Cola also enjoys the imprimatur of no less an investing luminary than Warren Buffett, who has been a shareholder since 1988. At 6.8% of the Berkshire Hathaway equity portfolio, KO is Buffett’s fourth-largest holding. 

Coca-Cola’s more immediate prospects are bright too, analysts say. It’s an unusually low-beta stock, for one thing, and that has been very helpful during this dismal 2022. Shares in KO have gained more than 11% for the year-to-date through May 17, beating the broader market by more than 25 percentage points.

True, KO was hit hard by pandemic lockdowns, which shuttered restaurants, bars, cinemas and other live venues. But those sales are now bounding back. Analysts likewise praise Coca-Cola’s ability to offset input cost inflation with pricing power. 

“We think KO’s strong fourth-quarter results reflect its brand power and ability to thrive in an inflationary environment, as top line improvement was entirely driven by price and mix,” writes CFRA Research analyst Garrett Nelson (Buy). 

Most of the Street concurs with that assessment. Twelve analysts rate KO at Strong Buy, six say Buy, seven have it at Hold and one calls it a Sell. With a  consensus recommendation of Buy, KO looks to be one of the best bear market stocks to buy.

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7. AbbVie

A picture of an AbbVie (ticker: ABBV) buildingA picture of an AbbVie (ticker: ABBV) building
  • Market value: $273.5 billion
  • Dividend yield: 3.5%
  • Analysts’ consensus recommendation: 1.88 (Buy) 

Pharmaceutical giant AbbVie’s (ABBV, $155.30) defensive characteristics stem from it being part of the healthcare sector, as well as a low-volatility Dividend Aristocrat. 

But the Street is outright bullish on the name for other reasons as well. 

High on analysts’ list are ABBV’s growth prospects and its pipeline. AbbVie is best known for blockbuster drugs such as Humira and Imbruvica, but the Street is also optimistic about the potential for its cancer-fighting and immunology drugs.

“After the recent weakness in ABBV, we revisited the model, and we came away even more confident regarding the growth prospects and pipeline,” writes Wells Fargo Securities analyst Mohit Bansal, who rates AbbVie as his Top Pick. “We think the consensus forecast significantly underestimates post-2023 growth. There are multiple pipeline catalysts in the 2022 to 2023 timeframe which are not in consensus models.”

At Truist Securities, analyst Robyn Karnauskas (Buy) largely agrees with that view. Although ABBV is suffering with the expected erosion of sales of Humira, newer drugs such as Rinvoq and Skyrizi are rapidly gaining momentum, the analyst says.

The bottom line is that bulls outweigh bears on this name by a comfortable margin. Twelve analysts rate ABBV at Strong Buy, four say Buy, seven call it a Hold and one says Sell.

AbbVie also stands out as a top bear market stock to buy because of a half-century of annual dividend increases. Same goes for ABBV’s low beta. The latter indicates relatively low correlation to the S&P 500, and is evidenced by ABBV stock gaining 14% for the year-to-date through May 17. That beat the broader market by 28 percentage points.

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6. Medtronic

A Medtronic (ticker: MDT) glucose monitorA Medtronic (ticker: MDT) glucose monitor
  • Market value: $142.6 billion
  • Dividend yield: 2.4%
  • Analysts’ consensus recommendation: 1.85 (Buy) 

Medtronic (MDT, $106.39) is another low-volatility healthcare stock with a long history of dividend growth that analysts say remains poised for even more market-beating returns.

Shares in one of the world’s largest manufacturers of medical devices gained nearly 3% for the year-to-date through May 17, a period in which the S&P 500 shed more than 14%. Even better, with an average price target of $123.18, the Street gives MDT implied upside of 17% in the next 12 months or so.

That’s why analysts’ consensus recommendation stands at Buy, with fairly high conviction. Of the 26 analysts surveyed by S&P Global Market Intelligence covering MDT, 13 rate it at Strong Buy, four say Buy and nine call it a Hold.

Part of MDT’s appeal stems from its reasonable valuation. Shares change hands at 18.8 times analysts’ 2022 earnings per share (EPS) estimate. And yet MDT is forecast to generate average annual EPS growth of nearly 10% over the next three to five years.

“We see this as an attractive valuation,” notes Argus Research analyst David Toung (Buy), adding the company “has solid post-pandemic growth opportunities from both current and soon-to-be-launched products.”

Indeed, the Street singles out MDT’s strong portfolio of existing products, as well as promising new ones under development.

“We believe Medtronic’s deep product pipeline should drive improving revenue growth and enable margin improvement resulting in high single-digit EPS growth and multiple expansion,” writes Needham analyst Mike Matson (Buy).

The best stocks to buy for bear markets often return cash to shareholders, too. And MDT’s history in that regard is as solid as they come. This Dividend Aristocrat has increased its payout annually for 44 years and counting.

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5. General Dynamics

An F-16 Fighting Falcon, made by General Dynamics (ticker: GD)An F-16 Fighting Falcon, made by General Dynamics (ticker: GD)
  • Market value: $64.3 billion
  • Dividend yield: 2.1%
  • Analysts’ consensus recommendation: 1.81 (Buy) 

Shares in defense contractor General Dynamics (GD, $232.02) benefit in down markets both from their relatively low volatility and dependable dividends. That alone makes GD worth considering as one of the better bear market stocks to buy.

What puts General Dynamics over the top, however, is its robust long-term growth forecast and potential for high share-price appreciation, analysts say.

GD’s defensive characteristics have certainly been well documented so far in 2022. Shares gained 11% for the year-to-date through May 17, a period in which the S&P 500 fell more than 14%. 

And the Street sees more outperformance ahead. Of the 16 analysts issuing opinions on the stock tracked by S&P Global Market Intelligence, nine call it a Strong Buy, two say Buy, four have it at Hold and one calls it a Sell.

Analysts forecast General Dynamics to generate average annual EPS growth of 11.6% over the next three to five years. And, notably, their average target price of $266.07 gives GD implied upside of about 15% in the next 12 months or so.

“Over the long term, GD management is focused on driving growth through modest sales increases, margin improvement, and share buybacks,” writes Argus Research analyst John Eade (Buy). “The company also aggressively returns cash to shareholders through increased dividends (most recently with a hike of 6%).”

If we do find ourselves slogging through a bear market – or just a sideways market – 15% price upside would be outstanding. And as a Dividend Aristocrat with 31 consecutive years of payout increases to its name, shareholders can at the very least count on GD for equity income.

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4. Iron Mountain

An Iron Mountain (ticker: IRM) datacenter against a white backgroundAn Iron Mountain (ticker: IRM) datacenter against a white background
  • Market value: $15.6 billion
  • Dividend yield: 4.6%
  • Analysts’ consensus recommendation: 1.71 (Buy) 

Iron Mountain (IRM, $53.99) is a real estate investment trust (REIT) with a twist. While the company is growing out a more modern datacenter arm, its legacy business is to store, protect and manage documents. In some cases that means it merely shreds them. The good news is that when corporate customers do indeed store paper documents, they tend to do so for very long periods of time.

That sort of predictability not only helps Iron Mountain maintain a generous dividend, but it allows IRM stock to trade with relatively low volatility. No wonder analysts particularly like Iron Mountain as one of the best bear market stocks to buy. 

“We view IRM as a defensive stock in the current environment, with significant valuation discounts to more traditional REITs (storage and data centers), an improving organic revenue growth story, and the very strong likelihood that the dividend will start to be raised at a 5% to 7% annual pace starting in 2023,” writes Stifel analyst Shlomo Rosenbaum (Buy).

Only seven analysts cover the stock, per S&P Global Market Intelligence, but their consensus recommendation comes to Buy with fairly high conviction. Four pros rate IRM at Strong Buy, two say Buy and one has it at Sell. Meanwhile, their average target price of $61.67 gives IRM implied upside of nearly 20% in the next year or so. 

Such returns would be extraordinary in a bear market, but then, IRM has been holding up its end of the bargain on defense so far. Shares have improved by 2.3% for the year-to-date through May 17 to beat the S&P 500 by about 12 percentage points.

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3. Mondelez International

A stock of Oreo cookies made by Mondelez International (ticker: MDLZ)A stock of Oreo cookies made by Mondelez International (ticker: MDLZ)
  • Market value: $91.0 billion
  • Dividend yield: 2.1%
  • Analysts’ consensus recommendation: 1.67 (Buy) 

Consumer staples giant Mondelez International (MDLZ, $65.45) is one of the best stocks for a bear market for many of the same reasons that it’s one of the best stocks to stave off sizzling inflation. 

The company’s vast portfolio of snacks and foods include Oreo cookies, Milka chocolates and Philadelphia cream cheese, to name a few. Sales of such consumer favorites tend to hold up well amid rising prices thanks to fickle palates and brand loyalty. 

Where MDLZ stands out among analysts, however, is in its ability to handle higher input costs thanks to a longstanding hedging program. The company also has been successful in passing higher costs on to consumers.

“We hold a strong growth outlook for Mondelez as its sales growth continues to outperform our expectations driven by strong market share performances and strong category growth rates,” writes Stifel analyst Christopher Growe (Buy). 

Nine consecutive years of dividend increases and a stock that trades with much lower volatility than the S&P 500 should also serve investors well in a tough market. Indeed, MDLZ was essentially flat for the year-to-date through May 17, vs. a decline of more than 14% for the broader market. 

Stifel is in the majority on the Street, which gives MDLZ a consensus recommendation of Buy, with high conviction. Twelve analysts rate it at Strong Buy, eight say Buy and four have it a Hold. 

Pricing power, market share gains and low volatility all help make the case for MDLZ as one of the best bear market stocks to buy.

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2. UnitedHealth Group

UnitedHealth Group (ticker: UNH) signUnitedHealth Group (ticker: UNH) sign
  • Market value: $462.1 billion
  • Dividend yield: 1.2%
  • Analysts’ consensus recommendation: 1.63 (Buy) 

Blue-chip stocks in defensive sectors such as healthcare tend to hold up better in bear markets, which is why it’s no surprise to see UnitedHealth Group (UNH, $492.93) make the cut.

This Dow Jones stock is the market’s largest health insurer by both market value and revenue – and by wide margins at that. But UNH’s sheer size alone is hardly a reason to hold it through a market downturn.

Shareholders can also take comfort in 13 consecutive years of dividend increases, a stock that’s historically been much less volatile than the broader market, and an outsized profit-growth forecast.

Analysts praise UNH on a number of fronts, with contributions from the Optum pharmacy benefits manager business being a regular highlight. A steep decline in hospitalizations due to COVID-19 is also a welcome relief.

“We maintain our Strong Buy rating on UNH as we believe shares continue to offer an attractive risk-reward tradeoff, and expect management to execute on its mid-teens EPS growth target,” writes Raymond James analyst John Ransom. 

The Street, which gives the stock a consensus recommendation of Buy with high conviction, expects the company to generate annual EPS growth of nearly 14% over the next three to five years. 

Lastly, this low-vol stock is performing as expected in 2022. It is off less than 2% for the year-to-date through May 17. That’s better than the S&P 500 by 12 percentage points.

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1. T-Mobile US

T-Mobile (ticker: TMUS) storeT-Mobile (ticker: TMUS) store
  • Market value: $161.2 billion
  • Dividend yield: N/A
  • Analysts’ consensus recommendation: 1.55 (Buy) 

Telecommunications stocks have always been favored for dividends and defense, and those are good attributes to have in a bear market. Where T-Mobile US (TMUS, $129.00) stands out is that shares in the wireless carrier have tremendous price upside too, analysts say.

You can chalk TMUS’s bright future up to the company’s $30 billion merger with Sprint. The deal closed two years ago, but the benefits have been escalating ever since. 

That’s because the “trove” of mid-band spectrum Sprint brought to TMUS allowed the telco to rapidly build out its next-generation 5G mobile wireless network, notes Argus Research analyst Joseph Bonner (Buy). The high-speed network, in turn, gave the company a competitive advantage over Verizon (VZ) and AT&T (T).

“The success of the company’s service plan innovations has been evident in its robust subscriber acquisition metrics,” Bonner writes. “T-Mobile remains the best positioned of the national carriers to take market share.”

T-Mobile’s clear advantages over peers is key to the Street’s consensus recommendation on the stock, which stands at Buy, with high conviction. It also factors into analysts’ average price target, which, at $167.55, gives TMUS implied upside of 30% in the next year or so.

With a five-year beta of 0.51, TMUS can kind of be thought of as being half as volatile as the S&P 500. That low-vol character has paid off handsomely so far this year. TMUS is up nearly 11% for the year-to-date through May 17, a period in which the broader market has fallen more than 14%. 

If the recent past is prologue, TMUS will prove itself as one of the best bear market stocks to buy.

Source: kiplinger.com

Walmart Q1 Earnings Likely Boosted By Inflation

The latest consumer price index (CPI) released last week indicates inflation remained sky-high in April. And while rising prices were a headwind for most companies in the first three months of 2022, they likely served as a tailwind for mega-retailer Walmart (WMT, $147.48).

Wall Street will find out this week, with WMT an early entrant on the earnings calendar; WMT will report its first-quarter results ahead of the May 17 open. 

The consumer staples stock has shown resilience amid the recent market volatility, up roughly 2% for the year-to-date compared to a more than 17% decline for the broader S&P 500.  

WMT beat on both the top and bottom lines in its fourth quarter thanks in part to its ability to keep prices competitive in a high-inflation environment. And this trend probably continued in Q1, despite a challenging backdrop, says UBS Global Research analyst Michael Lasser (Buy).

“With low prices as its core value proposition, WMT is uniquely positioned to benefit from rising inflation,” the analyst adds. “Its scale helps give it the ability to keep healthy price gaps versus its peers, which can help it achieve further share gains in the grocery channel.  

While Lasser admits there will likely be some “moving pieces” in the report – including unpredictability related to macro headwinds – components such as U.S. same-store sales and full-year guidance will be good.

“We view WMT’s shares as compelling as they offer more certainty than others in this uncertain backdrop,” the analyst says.

Amid tough year-over-year (YoY) comparisons that include last year’s stimulus-related pop, consensus estimates are for Walmart to report a 12.4% drop in earnings to $1.48 per share. Revenue is expected to arrive at $138.8 billion (+0.4% YoY).

Lowe’s Faces Tough Comps in Q1

First-quarter earnings from Lowe’s (LOW, $191.70) are due out before Wednesday’s open. Similar to Walmart, the home improvement retailer is facing hard comparisons from Q1 2021. 

As such, analysts, on average, are calling for a slim 0.9% YoY rise in earnings to $3.24 per share. And revenue is projected to be flat at $23.8 billion.

Still, Lowe’s entered 2022 with momentum following a solid fourth-quarter print, says UBS Global Research analyst Michael Lasser (Buy). 

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Additionally, the consumer discretionary name raised its full-year guidance in February. This reflects an inflation tailwind due to LOW’s “prudent pricing power” that will likely last for at least a few more quarters, the analyst adds. 

“We believe LOW is building a track record of solid execution with every passing quarter,” Lasser says. “Plus, it has several unique drivers to propel its results in the next few years independent of the market growth.”

Kohl’s Top and Bottom Lines Probably Contracted in Q1

Kohl’s (KSS, $47.51) will report its first-quarter earnings ahead of the May 19 open. 

The department store chain ended 2021 with record adjusted earnings of $7.33 per share and year-over-year revenue growth of 21.8% to $19.4 billion.

And Deutsche Bank analyst Gabriella Carbone (Buy) thinks the company is just getting started. “KSS has laid the groundwork for growth along with improving profitability, and is a more nimble company today than it was pre-pandemic,” Carbone says.

Included in the company’s plans to drive growth are goals for Kohl’s to reach $2 billion in sales from its partnership with beauty company Sephora and expand its operating margin to a range of 7% to 8%.

Carbone adds that these goals “may prove to be prudent as management has greatly considered a number of headwinds,” including supply-chain woes and a tight labor market.

As for the retail stock’s first-quarter results, analysts, on average, expect earnings to arrive at 72 cents per share (-31.4% YoY) and revenue to land at $3.7 billion (-0.5% YoY).

In addition to the company’s financial results, Wall Street will be looking for additional updates on the company’s strategic initiatives. Last Wednesday, shareholders voted on Kohl’s new slate of directors, rejecting an attempt from Macellum Advisors to add its nominees to the board. The activist investor has been pushing KSS to make changes, including unloading some of its real estate and putting itself up for sale.

Source: kiplinger.com

Swimming Pool Financing: What to Know and Best Pool Loans

Who doesn’t love a relaxing dip in the swimming pool on a sweltering, hot day? And when that swimming pool is in your backyard, it’s even better.

You could bring your friends together over the summer by hosting pool parties. You could teach your kids to swim right at home. If you rent out your place on Airbnb or Vrbo, you could fetch top dollar for the additional amenity.

Sounds like a dream.

If your house didn’t already come with a pool when you moved in, there’s still a possibility of turning your pool fantasies into reality if you have enough space.

And if you don’t have tens of thousands of dollars upfront to spend on a pool construction project, there’s always pool financing.

What Is Pool Financing?

Pool financing is when you borrow money from a financial institution or lender to cover the costs of building a pool. Pool construction typically costs anywhere from $17,971 to $46,481 with the average cost being around $32,059, according to HomeAdvisor.

Of course, the cost will vary based on the size, the type of pool, your location and where you plan to build the pool on your property. Adding a small plunge pool to a cleared, flat space in your backyard will cost considerably less than adding a resort-style pool with waterfalls and a jacuzzi to your property that requires you to cut down multiple trees and level the land.

Besides the personal enjoyment that comes along with having a pool, this addition to your home could boost your property value and make your home more desirable to future buyers, renters or short-term guests.

The high cost to install a pool means that many people rely on pool financing. There are several ways to go about getting a loan for a pool.

Options for Pool Financing

If you want to add a pool to your property, but don’t have the cash upfront, you have several options.

You could get a personal loan (sometimes referred to as a pool loan), a home equity loan, a home equity line of credit or a cash-out refinance. Some pool builders or retailers offer in-house loan programs through their partner lenders. You might also consider using a credit card as your method of financing.

Personal Loans (AKA Pool Loans)

Pool loans are unsecured personal loans offered by banks, credit unions and online lenders. You may be able to get a pool loan through the financial institution where you already have existing accounts, or you might choose to get financed from an online lender or financing consultant company that deals exclusively with pool loans and home improvement loans.

One of the benefits of personal loans is that you don’t have to offer up any collateral. If you stop making payments and default on your loan, you don’t have to worry about your house being foreclosed — though the lender still could sue you. If approved for an unsecured personal loan, you can usually receive funds within a couple of days, much quicker than some other financing options.

Because you don’t have any collateral backing the loan, however, these financing options can come with higher interest rates. Interest rates can start around 3% and go up to about 36%.

A borrower’s credit score, credit history, income and existing debt load all affect the interest rate.

Personal loan terms generally range from about two to 12 years — though some pool loans can have terms up to 20 years or more. You can get loans from $1,000 to over $200,000 to fund simple above-ground pools or elaborate in-ground pool projects.

Home Equity Loans

Home equity loans are essentially when you tap into the equity you have in your home and take out a second mortgage. If you have a significant amount of equity, you could finance your pool project this way.

Home equity loans generally have lower interest rates than personal loans because your home is used as collateral. If you default on your loan, the lender could foreclose on your home.

Also, with home equity loans you’ll face additional fees, like a home appraisal cost and closing costs, so be sure to factor that into your decision making.

Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC)

A home equity line of credit or HELOC also taps into the equity you have in your home, but it’s a revolving line of credit that you can use for several years instead of a loan that provides you with one lump sum of cash.

With a HELOC, you can pull out funds as needed to finance your pool construction and other home improvement projects. While you’ll only pay back what you borrow, the interest on HELOCs are usually adjustable rates rather than fixed rates. That means your monthly payments can increase during your repayment period.

Cash-Out Refinance

A cash-out refinance is essentially when you replace your existing mortgage with a new mortgage that exceeds what you owe on the house and you take out the difference in cash.

You can then use that lump sum to pay for your pool, and you’ll pay it back throughout the course of your new mortgage — over the next 10 to 30 years depending on your loan terms.

A cash-out refinance might make sense if you’re able to get a lower interest rate than your current mortgage. However, just like with a home equity loan or HELOC, your home is being used as collateral, and you’ll face additional fees involved in the refinancing process.

In-House Financing from the Pool Builder

Some pool companies may directly provide you with pool financing offers, so you don’t have to search for financing on your own. The pool companies typically aren’t offering the loan to you themselves, but they’ve partnered with a lender or network of lenders to provide you with financing options.

This type of financing is the same as applying for a personal loan or pool loan. The benefit is that you get a one-stop-shop experience instead of having to reach out to lenders individually. Your pool contractor may even be able to assist you through the loan process.

The downside is that you could potentially miss out on a better deal by only getting quotes from the pool company’s partnered lenders.

Credit Cards

Because of their high interest rates, credit cards are usually not recommended as options for financing a new swimming pool. However, there can be situations where it’d make sense.

If you’re able to open a zero-interest credit card and pay the balance back before the zero-interest period expires, paying with a credit card can be a great option — especially if it’s a rewards card that’ll give you points, airline miles or cash-back for spending or a bonus just for opening the account.

If you choose this financing option, be sure that you’ll be able to pay off the balance in a relatively short period of time. Most credit cards only offer zero-interest periods for the first 12 to 21 months. After that your interest rate could go up to 18% or more.

Pool Loan Comparisons

Getting quotes from multiple lenders will help you select the best deal for your pool construction project. Here’s what a few top lenders are currently offering.

Lyon Financial

Best for Long Loan Terms

4.5 out of 5 Overall

Key Features

  • Pays the pool contractor directly
  • 600 minimum credit score
  • Offers military discounts

Lyon Financial is a financing consultant that has been in business since 1979 and works with a network of lenders to provide loans for pool and home improvement projects. Unlike personal loans that provide the borrower with the funds upfront, Lyon Financial disburses the funding directly to the pool builder in stages as the project progresses.

Lyon Financial

APR (interest rates)

As low as 2.99%

Maximum loan amount

$200,000

Loan terms

Up to 25 years

HFS Financial

Best for Large Pool Loans

4 out of 5 Overall

Key Features

  • Provides loans up to $500,000
  • Most loans are funded within 48 hours
  • No prepayment penalties

HFS Financial is a financing company that partners with third-party lenders to provide homeowners with the money to construct pools on their property. Use their “60 second loan application” to kick off the loan process. Funds are typically dispersed within 48 hours.

HFS Financial

APR (interest rates)

As low as 2.99%

Maximum loan amount

$500,000

Loan terms

Up to 20 years

Viking Capital

Best for Customer Service

4.5 out of 5 Overall

Key Features

  • Supports a network of pool builders
  • 650 minimum credit score
  • Offers military discounts

Viking Capital is a family-owned business that has been in operation since 1999. The company acts in the capacity of a financial consultant, and partners with a network of lenders to provide multiple loan offers for pool construction projects.

Viking Capital

APR (interest rates)

As low as 5.49%

Maximum loan amount

$125,000

Loan terms

Up to 20 years

5 Steps to Securing Pool Financing

Follow these steps to secure a loan for your pool.

1. Determine What Monthly Payments You Can Afford

Before you dig into your pool financing options, you should be clear on what monthly payment you can afford. Having a pool is a luxury. You don’t want a pool construction project to jeopardize your ability to pay your bills and meet your needs.

Figure out how much disposable income you have to work with by comparing your monthly earnings to how much you typically spend each month.

Don’t forget to factor in maintenance and additional utilities usage when estimating how much you can afford to go toward pool costs.

2. Check Your Credit History

When you’re financing a pool, having a good or excellent credit score will help you secure a loan with a low interest rate. Ideally, your credit score should be 700 or above.

Some lenders may offer you financing if you have fair or poor credit, however you may have to pay a lot more over time due to higher interest rates.

To boost your credit score before applying for a pool loan, follow these steps.

3. Get Cost Estimates for Your Pool

Talk with pool builders to get estimates on the total cost of your desired pool project. Get estimates from multiple pool companies so you have a better idea of what options exist.

If the estimates come in higher than you expected, consider scaling down the size of your pool project or using different materials.

Make sure any additional work — like constructing safety fencing — is included in your estimate.

4. Choose What Type of Financing Your Prefer and Shop Around For Lenders

After you figure out what options are available within your budget, it’s time to decide on what type of financing you prefer.

Will you be applying for an unsecured loan or do you plan to tap into your home equity or refinance your mortgage? Are you going to purchase a small above-ground pool that you could pay off in 15 months using a zero-interest credit card?

Once you know what type of financing you’ll go with, reach out to multiple lenders so you can compare offers and choose the best deal. You may be able to use a competitor’s lower offer to get a lender to reduce their offer even further.

5. Complete Loan Application and Sign Off on All Paperwork

The final step to get your pool project financed is to complete any additional paperwork and sign off on the dotted line. Expect to provide information about your income and other existing debt.

Your credit score may take a dip after taking on new debt, but it should rebound as you make regular, on-time payments.

Alternatives to Pool Financing

Taking on debt for a new pool doesn’t have to be your only option.

You could put off your pool construction project for a few years and save up for the expense in cash. Open a high-yield savings account to use as a sinking fund and don’t make withdrawals from the account until you’ve reached your savings goal.

If you think you’re outgrowing your current home — or are looking to downsize — wait until you’re ready to move and then look for a new home with an existing pool.

Or if you’re okay with not having a pool in your backyard, you’ll save money by visiting public pools or renting private pools from Swimply on occasion. This is a good option if you think you wouldn’t get much regular use of having your own pool.

Frequently Asked Questions

How many years can you refinance a pool for?

You can finance a pool over 20 to 30 years, depending on the type of financing you secure. If you need decades to pay back the loan, you might consider refinancing your mortgage or taking out a second mortgage. Private, unsecured loans typically need to be repaid sooner, however some have loan terms of 20 years or more.

What is the best way to finance a pool?

It all depends on your individual circumstances and preferences. If you’ve built up a ton of equity in your home and want to spread your debt payments over a lot of time, you might lean toward a home equity loan or HELOC. If you’ve got excellent credit and would qualify for a low-interest personal loan (unsecured loan), that might be the better option.

What credit score do you need for pool financing?

Ideally, you’ll want to have a credit score of 700 or higher to get the best interest rates for pool financing. Some companies, however, will accept lower credit scores. As a result, your loan may have a higher interest rate.

What is a good interest rate for a pool loan?

An interest rate around 5% is a good deal for a pool loan. You may be able to find rates even lower if you have excellent credit.

Nicole Dow is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder.

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Source: thepennyhoarder.com

How to Secure the Bag in 2022

Save more, spend smarter, and make your money go further

Are you living by the mantra, “New Year, new you?” Year after year, we set these resolutions and goals – for them to get tossed out before the year can fully bloom. Looking for ways to elevate your life? Maintain the things you’ve started? Produce real results? Check out the tips below to secure your future and your bag in the year to come.

Write down your goals

As much as we’d like to consider ourselves computers, it’s nearly impossible for us to remember every single thing we’d like to do. In order to stay focused and remain organized, it’s best to simply jot down your goals.

Try your best not to overthink and begin to write everything that comes to your head. Essentially, this is a brain dumping exercise that allows you to clear your mind as much as possible. Often times confusion doesn’t necessarily come from us not knowing, it’s simply because we haven’t written down our thoughts.

Once this is finished, the second step is refining. Go through everything you’ve listed and organize it into categories. From there you’ll be able to highlight the top 3-5 goals you’d like to accomplish. This allows you to only focus on the goals with priority – and as those items are completed, the next ones in line will be yours for the conquering!

Are you wanting to start a new career or business venture? Write down all of the to-do items needed to accomplish that goal and assign a certain number of tasks per day, week or month. In this way you’re not overwhelming yourself with unrealistic expectations but creating an actionable guide that navigates you straight to the finish line.

Self-assess and readjust as needed

Let’s take a moment to reflect on 2021. What are the things you did exceptionally well? What are a few items that need improvement? Are you able to recall the goals that didn’t have any traction at all?

Before you can execute, you need to know where you’re currently starting from. Be honest with yourself – this isn’t an exercise to stir up negative and non-productive emotion. This is to chart your next steps and make them effective.

If you overspent this year on discretionary items, test out the cash method for your purchases. Looking to increase your earning potential? Update your resume, network and explore the opportunities that interest you. Saving for a large purchase? Create a reasonable savings plan that lays out the steps to ensure you’re successful.

Keep in mind this is not a one-day exercise. Carve out some time over the course of a week to truly reflect.

Avoid impulsive behavior and identify the root cause

Each and every one of us have thorns in our side that derail us from our goals – big or small. In order to identify the true problem, we must tap into our self-awareness and discuss some ugly truths. For example, if you are on a fitness journey and have a desire to become healthier– a routine is mandatory. Schedules allow us to operate more efficiently. So, let’s say you want to workout at least three times a week. This means there’s a certain window of time that needs to be allotted for the actual workout. After that you need time to eat, prepare food and continue flowing through the day. If one of these links are missing in the routine, it could tempt you to skip the workout completely.

What needs to happen? Have food readily available on the days you workout. Get sufficient rest the night before to make sure you’re energized to conquer the day. Try your best to eat the right foods to avoid feelings of sluggishness or irritation. Have your exercise clothes ready the night prior to avoid any mishaps in the morning. No matter how crazy and insane these little things may seem they’re very impactful. It creates a smoother workflow which decreases anxiety, worry, frustration and irrational decision making.

Let’s talk money!

If you have an issue with overspending; consider this. Do you spend more money when your emotions fluctuate?  Adopt some self-care techniques to relax and unwind before making hash decisions. Try adopting yoga within your weekly routine. Step away from the computer when the feeling of work stress occurs. Swap out the impulse to spend with something positive, like taking a quick walk or simply log off social media. Unsubscribe from retail emails so there won’t even be an urge to spend. When you’re healthy mentally and physically – your finances have no choice but to positively benefit.

Let’s talk retirement

Before the year is up evaluate your retirement account, savings methods and/or investments. Are your selections aligning with the financial goals you’ve set for the upcoming year? Assess your contributions and adjust as you see fit. If there are things you’re unclear on or are in need of further guidance, solicit the assistance of a financial advisor. Don’t allow yourself to get hung up as challenges arise! There’s always a solution. Take a deep breath and revisit your goals in moments of frustration.

Create an accountability tribe

We cannot live life alone and in confinement, so what better way to engage the people closest to you than create an accountability tribe? Establish some safe meetups or virtual check-ins as schedules permit to discuss hiccups, successes and lessons. In this way, it establishes a sense of community and support. It’s almost like having your own personal cheerleaders ushering you through all phases of life. You can gain multiple perspectives while also having a safe space that doesn’t judge you for your mistakes.

Remain positive and stay the course

In this upcoming year, don’t settle for less. The key to achieving all of your goals fall into two main categories: consistency and discipline. Will the work always be easy? Absolutely not. Your goals will stretch you in new ways and will create a new level of resilience.

2022 is ours for the taking. You have the tools; now do the work and secure the life you truly desire to live!

Save more, spend smarter, and make your money go further

Marsha Barnes

Marsha Barnes is a finance guru with over 20 years of experience dedicates her efforts to empower women worldwide to become financially thriving. Financial competency and literacy are a passion of Marsha’s, providing practical information for clients increasing their overall confidence in their personal finances. More from Marsha Barnes

Source: mint.intuit.com

How to Check Credit Score: A Comprehensive Guide

How to Check Credit Score: A Comprehensive Guide – MintLife Blog

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overall financial health. Learn how to check your credit score.

Checking your credit score isn’t as challenging as it may seem, and once you know how the process becomes faster and easier each time. Several methods are available for checking your credit. Review the options below to determine which one makes the most sense for you.

Step 1: Check Your Credit Card or Loan Statement

When you apply for a credit card or loan, the lender pulls your credit information to determine if they’ll approve you. These entities will provide you with your credit score or you can ask them to send you a copy. Receiving your credit score from an entity you’re already working with can save you time and money. But if you’re not planning to apply for a credit card, loan, or other new line of credit in the near future, it may be best to choose a different method for checking your credit score.

Step 2: Use a Free Service

A range of services are available that all you to check your credit score for free. No matter which service you choose to use, follow the steps listed on the website to receive your free credit score. Be sure to read the fine print before entering your credit card or payment information.

Step 3: Purchase Your Scores

In addition to the free services, you can also receive your scores through one of the three major credit bureaus (Experian, Equifax or TransUnion) or an outside entity. The cost typically ranges from $10 to $20 per credit check. Some people choose this option because they like what a particular report offers or because a free method isn’t currently available to them. Many free services offer a variety of valuable information, so do your research before determining which option is best for you!

Step 4: Go see a Nonprofit Credit Counselor

Nonprofit credit counselors are available to help people improve their financial standing. Whether you want to save more, eliminate debt or create a budget, nonprofit credit counselors can provide guidance. Depending on the counselor, your credit score check might be free or cost a small amount. In addition to receiving your score, a credit counselor can help you understand what your score means and how you can improve it.

What to Know When You Check Your Credit Score

While a credit score may seem straightforward, there are some nuances to be aware of. By understanding key information about what your number means, you’ll get the most out of your credit score check.

There Are Many Different Credit Scores and Credit Score Ranges

Not all credit bureaus and credit reporting entities utilize the same scoring system. For example, there are several websites and apps like Turbo that provide a free score and tools like a free personal loan calculator. The scoring model used may be slightly different than another bank, lender or credit bureau. If you were to check your credit score through a couple of different entities, you’re likely to receive somewhat differing numbers.

In addition, each entity may categorize their credit score ranges differently. One organization might define good credit as anything above 700, while another entity might say that anything above 680 is good. Keep this in mind as you review your score and compare it with the guidelines of the financial product or service you’re considering.

There’s No Need to Limit How Often You Check Your Credit Score

Checking your own credit is considered a soft inquiry, not a hard inquiry. Soft inquiries don’t impact your credit score, so checking your score often won’t cause it to lower.

You’ll also want to review your credit report periodically, which lists your payment history, open lines of credit and any outstanding debt. By reviewing your report, you’ll be able to identify cases of fraud or outstanding credit you’ve forgotten about.

Pay Attention to Your Range, Not Your Exact Number

Your credit score can fluctuate and can even differ based on which entity calculates your score. That’s why it’s more important to focus on the range your score falls in, rather than your exact number. All credit scores fall somewhere between 300-850. Generally speaking, between 720-780 is considered a “good” score and an “excellent” score is 781 and beyond.

You can learn more about credit score ranges here.

You Can Take Steps to Improve Your Score

If your credit score is not where you’d like it to be, there are plenty of methods for raising it. Although any method to improve your credit score will take time, a higher score increases your eligibility for financial products, loans, and credit card offers.

Clean up your credit report: Review your credit report and identify whether you need to change your financial behavior in any way. While you can’t remove negative items from your report, they typically will age off after seven years. Make sure to also look for false items on your credit history, such as an unpaid bill.

Be timely with your payments: Whether it’s a utility bill or credit card payment, be sure to consistently pay on time.

Pay off your debt: While you do need to have some debt to show that you can pay it off responsibly, you don’t want to rack up large credit card balances or lease a new car every year. In other words, your balance shouldn’t become a high percentage of your overall credit line. To accomplish this, continue to pay off your outstanding debt and avoid unnecessarily large purchases.

Limit how many new lines of credit you open: A lender may consider how many new lines of credit you’ve recently applied for, which could negatively impact your score.

Maintain long-term accounts: A solid track record of paying off your credit on-time will show a potential lender that you are reliable. Try to keep a couple of accounts open, active, and paid over time to demonstrate a strong credit history.

Most negative information ages off after about 7 years

While a late payment or unpaid bill stays on your report for a while, credit reporting doesn’t occur for longer than seven years from when the original debt was charged off. Exceptions to this rule include defaulted student loans and bankruptcy.

It’s Important to Check Your Credit Score

Understanding and monitoring your credit score allows you to be in tune with your financial standing and make adjustments as needed. Checking your credit score periodically offers a few important benefits. Get your absolutely free credit score from Turbo – it’s quick and easy!

Understand Your Financial Standing

Your credit score is one indicator of your overall financial health. It provides information about your credit experiences and your history of paying bills, in addition to any outstanding debt you may have. By checking your credit score, you get a glimpse where you currently stand financially. Your credit score can almost always be improved (unless you’re one of the lucky few with perfect credit), so knowing your score gives you key insight into whether or not you should prioritize giving your score a boost.

Several companies consider your credit score along with your other financial indicators, like your income and debt-to-income ratio, when approving you for a loan or service. Your credit score provides indication of how likely you are to repay the loan amount on time.

Ensure You Can Get the Best Terms

When lenders pull your credit score and credit report, they receive your history of paying bills, how long you’ve had certain accounts, and if debt collection has ever been utilized. Based primarily on these factors, they will then make a determination of the terms they will offer you. Typically, the better your credit score, the lower fees or rates you’ll receive.

If your score isn’t where you’d like it to be, you can take time to work on your score before following through with a lender. You might improve your credit score by doing things like paying off  your current debt and being timely with all of your payments.

Determine Eligibility for Financial Products

Some lenders and financial vendors provide guidelines as to what they’re looking for from a potential borrower. For example, a credit card company might require a score of 720 or above to be approved, or a mortgage company may require a credit score within a particular range to lock in a certain interest rate. By knowing your score, you’ll have better understanding of which financial products and terms you might be eligible for.

Alert Yourself of Potential Fraudulent Activity

Pulling your credit score won’t give you direct information regarding fraudulent activity, but it could be a clue that fraudulent activity has occurred. If you think your credit score is suspicious, be sure to pull your credit report or sign up for credit monitoring.

Knowing how to check your credit score gives you instant access to your financial standing and helps you better understand what improvements you might like to make to your private life. Regularly checking your credit score and identifying areas for improvement is key to maintaining a strong financial life. To get started, get your free credit score and spend some time assessing your financial goals.

Turbo