Credit Card Network vs Issuer: What Is the Difference?

While credit card networks and card issuers both play a role when you use your credit card to make a purchase, they do different things. Credit card networks facilitate transactions between merchants and credit card issuers. Meanwhile, credit card issuers are the ones that provide credit cards to consumers and pay for transactions on the cardholder’s behalf when they use their card.

Where it can get confusing is that some credit card networks are also card issuers. To get a better understanding, keep reading for a closer look at the differences between a credit card network vs. issuer.

What Is a Credit Card Network?

Credit card networks are the party that creates a digital infrastructure that makes it possible for merchants to facilitate transactions between merchants and the credit card issuers — meaning they’re key to how credit cards work. In order to facilitate these transactions, the credit card networks charge the merchants an interchange fee, also known as a swipe fee.

Here’s an example of how this works: Let’s say someone walks into a clothing store and uses their credit card to buy a pair of pants. They swipe or tap their credit card to make the purchase. At this point, the store’s payment system will send the details of this transaction to the cardholder’s credit card network, which then relays the information to the credit card issuer. The credit card issuer decides whether or not to approve the transaction. Finally, the clothing store is alerted as to whether or not the transition was approved.

Essentially, credit card networks make it possible for businesses to accept credit cards as a form of payment, making them integral to what a credit card is. Credit card networks are also responsible for determining where certain credit cards are accepted, as not every merchant may accept all networks.

The Four Major Card Networks

The four major credit card networks that consumers are most likely to come across are:

•   American Express

•   Discover

•   Mastercard

•   Visa

All of these credit card networks have created their own digital infrastructure to facilitate transactions between credit card issuers and merchants. These four credit card networks are so commonly used that generally anywhere in the U.S. it’s possible to find a business that accepts one or more of the payment methods supported by these merchants. When traveling abroad, it’s more common to come across Visa and Mastercard networks.

Two of these popular payment networks — American Express and Discover — are also credit card issuers. However, their offerings as a credit card network are separate from their credit card offerings as an issuer.

Does It Matter Which Card Network You Use?

Which credit card network someone can use depends on the type of credit card they have and whether the credit card network that supports that card is available through the merchant where they want to make a purchase. Most merchants in the U.S. work with all of the major networks who support the most popular credit cards, so it shouldn’t matter too much which credit card network you have when shopping domestically. When traveling abroad, however, it’s important to have cash on hand in case the credit card network options are more limited.

Merchants are the ones who are more likely to be affected by the credit card networks that they use. This is due to the fact that credit card networks determine how much the merchant will pay in fees in order to use their processing system.

Recommended: Charge Cards Advantages and Disadvantages

What Are Credit Card Issuers?

Credit card issuers are the financial institutions that create and manage credit cards. They’re responsible for approving applicants, determining cardholder rewards and fees, and setting credit limits and the APR on a credit card.

Essentially, credit card issuers manage the entire experience of using a credit card. Cardholders work with their credit card issuer when they need to get a new card after losing one, when they have to make their credit card minimum payment, or when they want to check their current card balance.

Credit card issuers can be banks, credit unions, fintech companies, or other types of financial institutions. Some of the biggest credit card issuers in the U.S. are:

•   American Express

•   Bank of America

•   Barclays

•   Capital One

•   Chase

•   Citi

•   Discover

•   Synchrony Bank

•   U.S. Bank

•   Wells Fargo

Credit Card Network vs Issuer: What Is the Difference?

Credit card issuers and credit card payment networks are easy to confuse. The main difference is that credit card networks facilitate payments between merchants and credit card issuers whereas credit card issuers create and manage credit cards for consumers. If you have an issue with your credit card — like in the instance you want to dispute a credit card charge or request a credit card chargeback — it’s the issuer you’d go to.

These are the main differences to be aware of when it comes to credit card networks vs. issuers:

Credit Card Issuer Credit Card Payment Network

•   Creates credit cards

•   Manages credit cards

•   Accepts or declines applicants

•   Sets credit card fees

•   Determines interest rates and credit limits

•   Creates rewards offerings

•   Approves and declines transactions

•   Processes transactions between credit card companies and merchants

•   Creates the digital infrastructure that facilitates these transactions

•   Charges an interchange fee to merchants

•   Determines which credit cards can be used at which merchants

How Credit Card Networks and Issuers Work Together

Credit card networks and issuers need each other to function. Without a credit card network, consumers wouldn’t be able to use their card to shop with any merchants, and the credit card issuer’s product would go unused. Credit card networks create the infrastructure that allows merchants to accept credit cards as payment.

However, it’s up to the credit card issuers to approve or decline the transaction. The credit card issuer is also the one responsible for getting credit cards into consumers’ hands when they’re eligible and old enough to get a credit card, thus creating a need for the credit card networks’ services.

Recommended: When Are Credit Card Payments Due

Get a New SoFi Credit Card Online and Earn 2% Cash Back

Credit cards can be a useful financial tool, but it’s important to understand their ins and outs before swiping — including the difference between a credit card network vs. card issuer. Both are critical to credit card transactions, with the credit card network facilitating the transaction between the issuer and the merchant, and the credit card network approving or denying the transaction.

While the major credit card networks are available at most merchants in the U.S., this may not be the case abroad, which is why it’s important to be aware of when choosing a credit card. This among many other considerations, of course, such as searching for a good APR for a credit card and assessing the fees involved.

If you’re on the search for a new card, consider applying for a credit card with SoFi. SoFi cardholders earn 2% unlimited cash back when redeemed to save, invest, or pay down eligible SoFi debt. Cardholders earn 1% cash back when redeemed for a statement credit.1

Learn more about the SoFi credit card today!

FAQ

What is a credit card network?

A credit card network is the party that creates the necessary infrastructure to process transactions between a credit card issuer and a merchant. Whenever someone makes a purchase with a credit card, it is processed by a credit card network. In return for processing the transaction, the merchant pays the credit card network an interchange fee, which is how the credit card networks make money.

How do I know my credit card issuer?

To find out a credit card’s issuer, simply look at your credit card. There will be a string of numbers on the credit card, and the first six to eight digits represent the Bank Identification Number (BIN) or the Issuer Identification Number (IIN). The Issuer identification number identifies who the credit card issuer is.

Who is the largest credit card issuer?

The four largest credit card networks are American Express, Discover, Mastercard, and Visa. Most merchants in the U.S. work with all four credit card networks. When traveling abroad, it’s more common to come across Visa and Mastercard networks.


1See Rewards Details at SoFi.com/card/rewards.
Third-Party Brand Mentions: No brands or products mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third-party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.
The SoFi Credit Card is issued by The Bank of Missouri (TBOM) (“Issuer”) pursuant to license by Mastercard® International Incorporated and can be used everywhere Mastercard is accepted. Mastercard is a registered trademark, and the circles design is a trademark of Mastercard International Incorporated.

Photo credit: iStock/Poike
SOCC0322016

Source: sofi.com

6 Birds That Make Great Apartment Pets

If you’re looking to add an animal to your apartment, consider birds as they’re great companions and affectionate pets.

When you think of getting your first pet, cats or dogs are the first species of animals that come to mind. But, have you ever considered a bird? Birds are popular pets as they’re friendly and affectionate yet they don’t take up too much space in your apartment.

Birds are great pets for apartment dwellers because they’re low maintenance while still being extremely affectionate with big personalities. Whether you want a few smaller birds or one large parrot, it’s important to discover which popular pet bird species is right for you.

Throughout this article, we’ll talk to you about all the different species and help you decide which is the friendliest pet bird species for you.

Welcome to the bird world

Are you new to pet ownership? Don’t fret. There are several bird species and they all make for wonderful pets. But before you go to the local pet store or aviary, you need to ask yourself a few questions to determine which pet is the best one for you.

Don

Don

Does your apartment complex allow birds?

Before bringing any type of animal into your apartment, you need to read your lease agreement and talk to your landlord about the pet policy. The first thing to find out is if your apartment allows pets, and specifically if they allow birds.

If your apartment is not pet-friendly, don’t sneak a pet into the apartment as there are serious negative consequences. Once you get the green light that your apartment is pet-friendly, then you can continue your search for the perfect pet.

Can you afford it?

As with any pet, you need to do some math to ensure that your budget can stretch to accommodate your first bird. In addition to purchasing the cage, which varies in price, you’ll need to calculate the cost of birdseed, fresh fruit and veggies, toys for mental stimulation, veterinary care, cleaning and grooming costs and additional money for unexpected costs that may arise.

Different species can cost different amounts, too. Owning a bird can add up, so make sure you can afford the care needed to take care of your little feathered creature.

How much time do you have to care for it?

While some birds are more low maintenance than others, all birds need some human attention every day to thrive. Ask yourself how much time you actually have each day to care for your new pet and give it the human interaction it deserves.

If you only have an hour each day to dedicate to your pet, consider a parakeet as they’re a low-maintenance bird. On the other hand, if you have ample amounts of time at home to care for and train your bird, you may consider a parrot species.

Do your research to understand the level of training, stimulation and care each different bird species needs to thrive.

Birds need stimulation with toys.

Birds need stimulation with toys.

Where is it coming from?

We don’t just mean which pet store is your bird coming from. Unfortunately, birds are illegally obtained and sold. In fact, some birds — like the African grey parrot — are on the verge of extinction from the illegal bird trade. African greys are intelligent birds that people love as pets, but they face extinction in their natural habitat due to illegal activities.

Responsible pet owners will ask the breeder where the bird came from to ensure they aren’t contributing to the illegal bird trade. Another great option is to adopt a bird from a shelter. That way, you’re saving a life and helping to give a shelter pet a friendly new home.

Is the species compatible with children and other pets?

Are you looking to add some playful birds to your house? Well, if you have children or other animals in the house, you need to make sure that your new chirpy addition is good with other animals, children or other birds.

Don’t bring a new bird into the apartment and expect it to get along well with others. Some birds are great with other species while some are better suited alone.

For example, if you have a cat, it’s probably not smart to add a bird to the mix. The cat may view it as lunch. Save yourself some tears and heartache and make sure that all family members, pets included, are compatible with your new friend.

Top 6 best pet birds

OK, so you’ve decided that you want a pet bird and want to bring one home. But, what are the best pet birds for you? Here are some different options to consider.

Pionus parrots

Pionus parrots

Pionus parrots

  • Blue and green
  • Medium size
  • ~30-year life span

The Pionus parrot is part of the parrot family and is originally found in South America. This is a great species for families to own as the species isn’t prone to attaching to a single person, as other parrots sometimes do. This intelligent one is sure to charm you as it’s relatively quiet and reserved. This pet bird does need a lot of attention, otherwise, it can get moody and demanding.

If you’re looking for a great companion for the whole family, the Pionus parrot is a good choice to consider.

Cockatiel

Cockatiel

Cockatiels

  • Gray, white and yellow
  • Small size
  • ~ 20-year life span

These little birds are some of the most popular pets for bird owners. They’re friendly, lovable and great for apartment dwellers. They love whistling and will likely serenade you throughout the day. Part of the parrot family, they do require attention and stimulation but are on the smaller side, so they won’t take up too much space in your apartment. They cost anywhere from $30 to $250 to purchase.

If you’re a new pet owner, experts recommend getting a female cockatiel as they aren’t as moody and possessive as their male counterparts. They love company so you can even consider getting two so they have each other. If you want two cockatiels, a male and a female will work well together. Keep in mind that if you only get one, they may require more attention from you. However, you’ll have the perfect companion on your shoulder.

Hyacinth macaw

Hyacinth macaw

Hyacinth macaws

  • Blue
  • Large size
  • ~30+ year life span

Native to central South America, the hyacinth macaws are the larger cousins to something like the Pionus parrot. These beautiful birds are spectacular and full of personality. They love to play and be seen. The hyacinth macaw definitely needs attention from its pet owner.

The hyacinth macaw can live for at least 30 years or more and cost anywhere from $5,000 to $12,000 to purchase. They need a large cage that’s at least six feet, as they’re the largest parrot in the world.

If you’re experienced with birds and can give these gentle giants the proper care, then they do make great pets. But, if you’re looking for a friendly pet to start off with, this is not the right creature for you.

Scarlet macaw

Scarlet macaw

Scarlet macaws

  • Blue, red and green
  • Large size
  • 30+ year life span

When you think of a parrot, you probably imagine a rainbow-colored animal that can talk like and mimic humans. The scarlet macaw is that large, glorious, rainbow-colored bird. While they can talk, they don’t mimic the voice and tone (that’s the African grey!) of their owner.

Scarlet macaws are fun birds as they’re friendly, affectionate and intelligent. However, they’re not low maintenance and require a lot of time and human attention. The scarlet macaw will form strong bonds with you if it lives alone, just like it would bond with others if it were in the wild. If you’re looking for a long-term companion, consider this creature.

Green-cheeked conurre

Green-cheeked conurre

Green-cheeked conures

  • Green
  • Small or medium
  • ~20-year life span

This smaller species is a popular pet for families. They’re friendly birds that are affectionate and will dole out sweet gestures, like cuddling, when properly tamed. The green-cheeked conure will chatter but they’re good for apartment dwellers as they aren’t too noisy. These small birds cost anywhere from $150 t0 $300.

The green-cheeked conure is a playful, energetic and cuddly creature. While they demand attention, they just want love and if they live in positive environments, they’ll become your feathered best friend.

Amazon parrot

Amazon parrot

Amazon parrots

  • Green
  • Medium to large
  • 40+ year life span

Like most parrots, the Amazon parrot requires attention, proper mental stimulation and care. These mischievous birds like attention but are a great family pet. If you have the time to commit to it, the Amazon parrot is a friendly pet bird species to consider. You can teach it basic things and bond with this gorgeous creature.

Budgie

Budgie

What’s the easiest bird to have as a pet?

One of the easiest birds to have as a pet is the budgie, also known as a parakeet. These cute creatures are friendly pet bird species who love attention, food and play. If you’re looking for a new pet that’s easy but will give you love, cuddles and companionship, the bird world often recommends starting with a budgie.

Budgies want human interaction and don’t do well completely isolated. While they’re pretty low maintenance, they still want to interact with their humans and will be extremely affectionate with pet owners who show them love.

If you’re looking for an easy pet bird, consider the budgie or parakeet.

The best bird to have as a pet

What’s the best bird to have in your apartment? Well, that depends on what you’re looking for. Birds, in general, need attention, proper care and love from their owners. If you want a low-maintenance pet, then a parakeet is the best pet bird for you. If you want a lifelong companion you can train, then the African grey is a great option.

We can’t tell you the best bird as that depends on you and your lifestyle. But, we can walk you through all of the basic pros and cons to help you determine the best one for you.

Here are some of the common pros and cons bird owners share. Consider these when determining which feathered creature to take home.

Pros of having a feathered friend

Animals bring joy and birds are no exception. These are some of the best benefits of having a feathered friend in your apartment.

They can learn basic commands

Talking parrots aren’t just found on pirate ships. If you take the time to train your bird, you can teach it easy commands and different words and it’ll talk to you! This is one of the most fun and memorable aspects of owning a bird. We’d like to see a talking Golden Retriever!

Birds love a snuggle

Birds love a snuggle

They’re affectionate pets

You might think that only cats or dogs cuddle with their human, but you’d be wrong. Birds are affectionate creatures who will cuddle you if you love them. Let them perch on your shoulder or arm and you’ll have a featured friend who loves you just as much as you love them.

They’re extremely sweet

All birds have personalities and most are very sweet. Birds want love and attention, but in return, they’ll love you back. Some will charm you with little chirps while others will speak to you. They’re popular pets because of how sweet they are.

Cons of having a feathered friend

As with any pet, there are parts of pet parenting that aren’t so glamorous. Here are some cons to know.

Birds make a lot of noise.

Birds make a lot of noise.

They’re incredibly noisy

We all know that birds tweet, but some are very loud, especially when ignored. If you live in a small apartment space next to other neighbors, your bird’s continual chirping may not appeal to everyone.

They’re expensive

While some smaller birds cost $50 to purchase, their larger cousins can cost upwards of $12,000. And that’s just for the bird itself! That doesn’t factor in food, toys, vet bills, training and other pet-related costs. Birds are expensive to purchase and maintain, compared to other pets.

They require proper care and space

You don’t just buy a bird and call it good. Birds need the right cage with enough room to spread their wings, the right space and the right care. If you can’t commit to the proper training and attention needed, which is hours a day, then this is not the right animal for you.

Becoming a pet bird owner

Are you sold that these extremely sweet, feathered creatures are right for you? Make sure you’ve done your research, checked your budget and found the bird that you can grow to love and form strong bonds with. We know they won’t disappoint with their sweet and affectionate cuddles and beautiful birdsongs.

Source: rent.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.

<!–

–>

Source: thepennyhoarder.com

How Psychology Affects Your Search for a Financial Adviser

Selecting the right financial adviser is an important but difficult decision. Key considerations include whether your prospective adviser has the right technical skills, charges fair fees and puts your interests first. Focus on these factors and you’ll find thousands of qualified advisers. But which factors should you prioritize when finding the best one for you?

Turns out, you should be looking to psychology. A 2019 Vanguard study found that a client’s emotional relationship with their adviser – not their fees or technical skills – accounted for over half of the perceived value of the engagement. These feelings have real consequences for your bottom line.

Another series of Vanguard studies found clients who work with advisers have better investment returns than those who don’t. To explain this effect, the studies examined the individual impact of numerous factors, including a range of technical skills, like optimizing asset location and implementing the most cost-effective strategies. Turns out behavioral coaching, a psychological factor, accounted for half the total effect – double that of the most impactful technical skill.

While you’re interviewing a prospective adviser, here are some other considerations and questions to ask:

What are your values?

Financial planning is the process of helping clients achieve their goals – whether those goals are to be financially independent, support a charity or anything in between. Advisers are trained to respect and help fulfill all their clients’ goals. But if your goals and values are contrary to an advisers’, it can be difficult for them to take your perspective and make the best recommendations. For example, an adviser who tends to prioritize attaining financial independence may consistently push back on your goal to donate 10% of your income to charity.

An adviser who shares your deeply held values will have an easier time empathizing with your financial situation and is more likely to make recommendations that you’ll implement.

Will we get along?

Would if we could be friends with everyone, but some personalities just don’t mesh. Don’t think you need to overthink this (although you’re welcome to). Consider what kinds of people you tend to get along with. Remember that you may be spending many years working with your adviser, so it helps to like them and feel like you get along.

At a minimum, feel free to avoid working with someone who gives you a bad first impression. While our first impressions are not always accurate, they can tell us a lot – and quickly! For example, one study found it takes just a fraction of a second to decide whether you should trust someone.

How will you communicate your recommendations and coach me?

It is critical that you fully understand the recommendations your adviser is making. Otherwise, you won’t implement them! Consider your learning style. How do you understand things most easily: in writing? With charts and graphs? Whatever your answer, find an adviser whose communication style matches your learning style.

Often, recommendations take some time to implement and have many steps. Some folks struggle to follow through – especially if they have anxiety around money. The best advisers coach their clients throughout the process.

Not all great coaches are the same. Phil Jackson, winner of 11 NBA championships, was known as a “Zen Master.” Bill Belichick, the NFL coach with the most Super Bowl wins, is much more detail-oriented and logistical. Consider what motivates you to stick with a plan and try to find an adviser who fits your coaching needs.   

Keep in mind that some folks are better communicators than others. How well an adviser communicates has a real impact on their clients. For example, a study investigating clients’ trust in their financial advisers found the adviser’s communication skills were twice as important as their technical competency.

Do you have good experiences working with people from my background?

Individual differences are not the only thing to consider when selecting a financial adviser. Your adviser’s cultural background and cultural competency can affect whether you have a successful relationship.

When people share similar experiences and backgrounds, they often have an easier time communicating and empathizing with one another. Moreover, financial advising has not always been offered or provided equitably to women, people of color and members of many other minority backgrounds. Research released by The American College Center for Economic Empowerment and Equality underscores this point: Three in five Black women expressed difficulty in finding financial professionals or advisers they trust, per the study.  It’s why efforts like the CFP® Board’s diversity and inclusion initiatives are critical to increase the representation of people from all backgrounds in financial planning and meet the needs of our diverse society.

That said, the client and adviser don’t need to share a cultural connection to have a successful relationship. Many financial advisers have excellent cross-cultural communication and cultural competence. Some of the best thinking comes when people with different perspectives can work together to come up with innovative solutions.

Ultimately, you should establish a relationship you value with an adviser you trust. Exactly how you make that decision is up to you. To start that process, consider resources like https://www.letsmakeaplan.org/ and https://www.xyplanningnetwork.com/ that can connect you with  advisers held to fiduciary standard.

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

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

Source: kiplinger.com

Stock Market Today: Stocks Paper Over Lousy Week With Wild Friday

Wall Street spent most of Friday applying some vibrant lipstick to what was otherwise a pig of a week for investors.

A broad market rally – one that saw each of the S&P 500’s 11 sectors finish higher – wasn’t a response to any new positive catalysts. Quarterly reports were light today, with most investors flipping the earnings calendar to next week’s retail-heavy slate.

And Friday’s most noteworthy datapoint was the University of Michigan’s latest consumer sentiment index reading, which dropped from 65.2 in April to 59.1 in May – a 10-year nadir that was well lower than the 64.1 reading expected.

Sometimes the market just enjoys a relief rally.

“Following a week of heavy selling, but with inflationary pressures easing just at the margin, and the Fed still seemingly wedded to 50-basis-point hikes for each of the next two FOMC meetings, the market was poised for the kind of strong rally endemic to bear market rallies,” says Quincy Krosby, chief equity strategist for LPL Financial.

He adds that given the Federal Reserve is only at the beginning of its rate-hike cycle and would like to see demand pull back further, “this rally will most likely weaken.”

Of course, even if this is just a pause before more market declines, investors don’t necessarily have to time the bottom to buy in at a decent valuation.

“This is still an attractive entry point, as we do not believe this is 1999/2000,” says Nancy Tengler, CEO and CIO of asset management firm Laffer Tengler Investments.

Sign up for Kiplinger’s FREE Investing Weekly e-letter for stock, ETF and mutual fund recommendations, and other investing advice.

The buying was strongest in consumer discretionary stocks (+3.9%) such as Amazon.com (AMZN, +5.7%) and Tesla (TSLA, +5.7%), along with technology plays (+3.3%) including Nvidia (NVDA, +9.5%) and Advanced Micro Devices (AMD, +9.3%).

Energy (+3.4%) was also bid higher amid a big pop in oil; U.S. crude futures finished 4.1% higher to $110.49 per barrel, helping to spark new highs in gasoline futures prices.

Notably absent from the rally was Twitter (TWTR, -9.7%), which sank after Elon Musk tweeted that the deal was “temporarily on hold.” 

All the major indexes put up spectacular gains Friday, though for the week, it was still losses all around: The Nasdaq Composite (+3.8% to 11,805) still finished off 2.8% for the week, the S&P 500 (+2.4% to 4,023) was down 2.4% across the five days, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average (+1.5% to 32,196) closed the week 2.1% in the red.

stock chart for 051322stock chart for 051322

Other news in the stock market today:

  • The small-cap Russell 2000 bounced 3.1% to 1,792.
  • Gold futures had no such luck. The yellow metal was off 0.9% to a 14-week low of $1,808.20 per ounce.
  • Bitcoin snapped back 5.1% to $30,034.99. (Bitcoin trades 24 hours a day; prices reported here are as of 4 p.m.)

Keep Your Guard Up Against Inflation

Inflation is prevalent virtually everywhere – including on corporate America’s earnings calls.

We’re most of the way through the first-quarter earnings season, and over the past few months, publicly traded companies keep repeating the “I” word as they discussed their most recent financial results.

FactSet used its Document Search technology to track mentions of the term “inflation” on corporate earnings calls, According to their senior earnings analyst, John Butters, of the 455 S&P 500 companies that have conducted earnings conference calls from March 15 through May 12, “377 have cited the term ‘inflation’ … which is well above the five-year average of 155.”

In fact, this is the highest overall number of S&P 500 companies citing inflation on their calls going back to at least 210. (The previous record? 356 … in the final quarter of 2021.)

It’s another signal that inflation continues to be a persistent problem – and with forecasts calling for still-high inflation to come, more active investors might do well to pack a little more protection. We’ve previously analyzed other ways to stay in front of inflation, such as stocks with pricing power and inflation-fighting funds.

Today, we look at another batch of investments that can help harness high inflation, with a focus on commodities, real estate and other areas of the market.

Kyle Woodley was long AMD, AMZN and NVDA as of this writing.

Source: kiplinger.com

How To Start a Wedding DJ Business in 9 Essential Steps

Want to hone your DJ skills? Or maybe show them off?

Wedding DJs are in high demand these days.

Industry experts expect 2022 to be the busiest wedding season in 40 years, thanks to lockdown romances and postponed ceremonies during the pandemic.

A wedding DJ is the focal point of great wedding receptions. They set the mood, engage with the crowd and keep the couple happy.

They make good money, too. Wedding DJs make $1,000 per gig on average, according to WeddingWire, with experienced pros fetching upward of $2,000 or more.

But it takes a lot of hard work and planning to DJ a wedding. To start a successful wedding DJ business, you’ll need seed money for gear, reliable transportation — and great people skills.

How to Start a Wedding DJ Business in 9 Steps

Nick Smith started DJing weddings in southwest Indiana when he was 20 years old. His first set of speakers and audio equipment came from a bar that was going out of business.

Sixteen years later, Smith’s business has booked over 200 weddings.

“It’s a great gig if you love people and music,” he said.

Ready to spin up your own side hustle? Follow these nine steps to start a wedding DJ business.

1. Research and Talk to Other DJs

Before you invest major money into gear and advertising, make sure you’re comfortable with this type of gig.

Talk to other wedding DJs and ask what challenges they faced in the beginning — and how they overcame those hurdles.

If you’re new to DJing in general, it’s a good idea to shadow a professional wedding DJ. Search Google, Yelp or the Knot to find some in your area.

Send a friendly email asking if you can help them out at an event or two because you’re interested in being a wedding DJ.

On the day of the wedding, show up early and stay for the entire event. Observe how the wedding DJ interacts with the crowd and the type of music they play. Take notes.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • How do they make announcements?
  • What do they do when the dance floor thins out?
  • How do they handle requests?
  • What equipment do they have?

In exchange for the experience, offer to help the other DJ by unloading gear from the car and setting up the speakers.

2. Hone Your Skills

Practice makes perfect. You need to be comfortable behind the booth before you’re ready to book gigs.

Play for family and friends first. You can also book other, smaller events — like birthday parties and company parties — to get your feet wet. Online classes are another way to grow your knowledge base.

Practice playing songs, using a microphone and flowing from one song to another.

If you’re not ready to start your own wedding DJ business quite yet, consider working for a multi-op — a mobile DJ company that employs several disc jockeys.

3. Create a Business Plan

Creating a business plan is important if you plan to invest time and money into becoming a wedding DJ.

Your business plan should include:

  • Your business name and location
  • Customer demographics and target audience
  • Price points
  • Suppliers for your equipment
  • Initial start-up costs and how long until you’re profitable
  • Competitors

You can use one of these templates from the U.S. Small Business Administration to create a more detailed business plan.

Looking for more tips? Check out these 10 things you should know before you start a business. 

Setting Your Rate

The best way to set your initial rates is by researching prices for wedding DJs in your area, then offering a lower price.

How much you charge also depends on where you live: A wedding DJ in a big city earns more money than a wedding DJ in a small town.

Still, a good starting rate for a novice wedding DJ is roughly $500. You can raise your rates as you gain more experience. According to The Knot’s Real Weddings Study, couples spent an average of $1,400 on a DJ in 2021.

Wedding DJs usually pick one or more of the following pricing structures:

  • Flat fee or hourly rate
  • Packages
  • A la carte services
  • Custom quote

You should also be open to negotiating when you first start out.

Decide What DJ Services to Offer

Smith said offering additional services to clients is one of the best ways to make extra money as a wedding DJ.

“Additional services can really help add value,” Smith said. “You can offer things like uplighting, or doing sound for both the ceremony and the reception.”

Consider add-ons that earn you extra money with minimal effort. For example, some DJs offer photo booth services for guests, but Smith said photo booths are labor intensive to transport and set up.

“Unless you have someone else helping you, you want to keep things simple,” he said.

4. Buy Your DJ Gear

A big hurdle for many new DJs is acquiring equipment. It can cost a couple thousand dollars to purchase all your DJ gear.

“It’s a big cost up front for sure,” Nick said, “but you’ll earn it back quickly with gigs.”

While you don’t need state-of-the-art equipment to be a great wedding DJ, you do need a solid foundation to get started.

Wedding DJ gear checklist:

  • Laptop with at least 6 GB of internal memory and three USB inputs
  • DJ software, like Serato or Traktor
  • PA system (amplifier and speakers)
  • DJ controller / mixer
  • Over-the-ear headphones
  • Cables
  • MP3 music files

On a budget? Smith recommends looking for deals on sites like eBay and Craigslist. Check out sales at your local music store, too.

You could even borrow equipment from a friend or neighborhood church for your first couple gigs.

“You can start with a cheaper set-up, then upgrade it up over time,” Smith said.

You’ll also need to be comfortable setting up and tearing down your own DJ equipment. Figuring out how to efficiently store and transport your gear is also important if you want to be a mobile DJ.

Buy the Music

Buying music is important if you want to run a successful wedding DJ business.

Professionals caution against using streaming services like Spotify or YouTube. It isn’t technically legal and you shouldn’t rely on anything that requires Internet access anyway.

You have several options to legally purchase music for your wedding DJ business:

  • Buy mp3s through Amazon or iTunes/Apple Music.
  • Subscribe to a DJ pool like Promo City. This is a paid service that gives you access to volumes of modern music for download.
  • DJ subscription service like Virtual DJ or Pulselocker.
  • Buy used CDs and rip them to your laptop.

Set aside a little money from each gig to buy more music, and it won’t take long to compile a competitive professional DJ library.

5. Market Yourself

You have the gear. You have a plan. Now it’s time to get some customers.

You’ll need to create a DJ website and social media accounts to attract potential customers. Look at websites for other wedding DJ businesses to get ideas.

At the bare minimum, your website should include:

  • Your rates
  • Where you’re located (and how far you’re willing to travel)
  • A contact email address and phone number
  • What makes you unique from other DJs in the wedding industry
  • Testimonials and positive reviews

You can use a service like Wix or Weebly for free, or hire a professional to design a website for you.

Word of mouth is huge in the wedding business, Smith said. It’s about who you know and who knows you.

“Recommendations are everything,” Smith emphasized.

Give discounts for referrals. Make it easy for the bride and groom to leave glowing reviews about your wedding DJ business on Google and Facebook.

You’ll want to create some business cards and maybe some flyers, too.

Leave a space in your budget for marketing costs. Advertising on sites like The Knot and WeddingWire can really help pull in new customers because couples often visit these sites to find venues and vendors.

6. Meet the Couple for a Consultation

Meet up with the wedding couple several weeks before the event to discuss the playlist.

Ask about their favorite genres and bands, then create a short list of must-have songs, including their pick for the first dance and other important dances.

Perhaps more importantly, get a list of songs they don’t want played. The Chicken Dance, for instance.

“Get an idea of what they’re looking for,” Smith said, “then execute that to the best of your abilities.”

Print a questionnaire for the couple to fill out at the consultation with a timeline of the wedding, names of important people in the wedding party and other key details you should know.

You’ll also want to create contracts you can customize for each couple.

Your business contract should cover things like cancellation fees and damaged equipment policies. Make sure to discuss these policies with clients during the initial consultation.

Finally, prepare to spend several hours communicating back and forth with the couple before the wedding. Smith said he usually spends about 10 hours total preparing for the big day.

Two brides dance at their wedding reception.
Getty Images

7. Create the Playlist

Your goal as a wedding DJ is to create a memorable experience for the couple and keep the party going.

Don’t slide your original deep house remix into the wedding playlist. Remember, focus on the bride and groom — not your personal taste in music.

Play music to match the festivities. Break your songs into different blocks for the ceremony, cocktail hour, introductions, dinner and dance floor.

Each block should have different music to the atmosphere: Classical music at the ceremony, light jazz for the cocktail hour and soulful tunes for dinner, for example.

You can flex more creativity and play new music for the dance floor. But remember: You’re playing for a diverse audience. Don’t be afraid to bust out crowd favorites like “Don’t Stop Believin’” and “Livin’ On A Prayer.”

“People are at a wedding to have a good time,” Smith said. “Your job is to play the right music and create a fun atmosphere for everyone.”

8. Be On Time and Professional

You can’t be late to the party when you’re the DJ. Get there early, set up on time and prepare for a late night.

Before the wedding, write out a script of everything you plan to say. Practice pronouncing names. You don’t want to butcher the best man’s last name on stage.

Make sure to bring backup chargers, cables and other necessary gear. Things go wrong, break and run out of battery. Don’t let something unexpected (but easily preventable) ruin your wedding gig.

9. Work the Crowd and Keep the Party Going

Successful wedding DJs set the tone and vibe for the entire reception.

Be friendly, energetic and don’t forget to smile!

It’s not all about the music, though: You’ll be in charge of making announcements, calling for special dances and fielding song requests from (often intoxicated) guests.

You’ll need to communicate with other vendors at the wedding, too. You don’t want to start playing music for a special dance, for example, without the photographers and videographers in place.

Be observant, flexible and keep the party going.

It’s a lot to manage but pulling off your first successful gig can be the start of a rewarding and lucrative wedding DJ business.

Rachel Christian is a Certified Educator in Personal Finance and a senior writer for The Penny Hoarder

<!–

–>

Source: thepennyhoarder.com

When Should You Lock in a Mortgage Interest Rate?

@media (max-width: 1200px) body .novashare-buttons.novashare-inline .novashare-button-icon width: 100%; .novashare-inline .novashare-button .novashare-button-block background: #000000; .novashare-inline .novashare-button .novashare-border border-color: #000000; .novashare-inline .novashare-button .novashare-inverse color: #000000;


Dig Deeper

Additional Resources

On a $400,000 mortgage, the difference between a 4% and a 5% interest rate comes out to almost $240 per month. That’s over $2,800 per year. 

You could do a lot with that kind of money. And claiming it could be as simple as locking your mortgage rate as soon as you’re ready to make an offer on your house.

Lock too early, though, and you could lose your choice rate — and the savings that come with. So it pays to understand both how closing timelines and mortgage rate locks work. 


What Is a Mortgage Rate Lock?

Mortgage interest rates can bounce around like a pinball. But mortgage loans usually take a month or so to close, so how do you know at the start of the process what your final mortgage rate will be by your closing date?


Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendations have an average return of 618%. For $79 (or just $1.52 per week), join more than 1 million members and don’t miss their upcoming stock picks. 30 day money-back guarantee. Sign Up Now

Enter: the mortgage rate lock. 

When you apply for a mortgage, you first submit a mortgage application form — called a 1003 form — along with mountains of paperwork documenting your income, assets, liabilities, and firstborn child. The lender reviews your loan application, and (hopefully) preapproves you for a mortgage. 

But that doesn’t mean you’re ready to move forward. If you’re buying a new house or investment property, you need to submit the mortgage preapproval letter with your purchase offers, after all. 

Once you sign a real estate sales contract however, the clock starts ticking. The “time is of the essence” clause isn’t just flowery legalese — it means you need to close by a certain date, or the contract (and your earnest money deposit) become forfeit.

At this point, you call up your loan officer and tell them you’re ready to roll. They can then lock in that moment’s mortgage rate for you, guaranteeing that you get that interest rate if you settle within a certain timeframe. You must do the same if you’re refinancing your current mortgage, though in that case there may be less urgency to close within a specific timeframe.

Rate locks apply to both fixed-interest and adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs). With the latter, they determine your initial introductory rate.


How a Mortgage Rate Lock Works

No matter how much higher interest rates climb between that moment and when you settle, you still get the interest rate from the moment the loan officer locked it. 

Of course, the reverse is also true. If interest rates fall, you still pay the higher interest rate from the date you locked in your rate. 

Unless you buy a float-down option, that is.


What Is a Float-Down Option?

To hedge against the risk that interest rates fall after you lock in your rate, you can pay your lender for a “float-down option.” If interest rates drop after you locked your rate, this lets you close your loan with the subsequent lower rate. 

But float-down options come at a cost. That cost could come in the form of an up-front fee or higher lender fees at settlement. If the option doesn’t kick in, you could be saddled with a higher interest rate.

Before you can take advantage of a float-down option, interest rates must fall by a certain minimum amount. For example, the lender might set the minimum drop distance at 25 basis points,or 0.25%. If rates only drop by 0.2%, you can’t call in the float-down option. 

Which raises another point: You’re responsible for redeeming your own float-down option. Your lender won’t volunteer the information. You have to keep an eye on interest rates yourself and specifically ask your lender to redeem your option if rates fall. You can only redeem the option once, and after that your rate locks normally.

So make sure you understand the specific rules and costs for your lender’s float-down option before opting for it.


Mortgage Rate Lock Fees

The longer your rate lock, the more likely it is to come with fees. 

For example, your lender may offer a 30-day lock for free, but if you want a 60-day lock, the lender might charge an extra fee that’s expressed as a fraction or multiple of a mortgage point. A mortgage point is 1% of the total loan value — for example, $4,000 on a $400,000 loan. Your lender might cut you a break and charge a fraction of a point rather than a full point, however. 

If you fail to settle within your rate lock period, you can opt to extend your lock, but often at a comparable fee. If mortgage rates have since dropped, you may be in luck, but don’t count on that happening. 


When Should You Lock in a Mortgage Interest Rate?

As soon as you’re ready to proceed with your loan, you should lock in your interest rate. 

You could gamble on interest rates falling and delay locking in a rate, but it means exactly that: gambling. Unless you have a crystal ball lying around, just lock in your rate when you know you’re ready to proceed.

If you’re applying for a purchase loan, lock your rate once you sign the purchase agreement with the seller. If you’re refinancing, you don’t have the same time crunch because there’s no seller involved. Simply decide when you want to settle and work backward from there. 

Just remember that you have to settle within the lock period or you could end up paying a higher interest rate. It usually takes 30 to 60 daysfor mortgage loans to settle. Make sure your loan officer and underwriting team are working toward an on-time close.


How to Lock in a Mortgage Rate

Your mortgage broker or lender locks the rate on your behalf, so you don’t have to “do” anything but ask for it. In most cases, your loan officer will ask you whether you’re ready to lock in a rate when you tell them you’re ready to move forward.

Use the opportunity before locking in a rate to negotiate a lower interest rate, after comparison shopping. You can also negotiate a lower interest rate in exchange for higher lender fees. These are called “discount points” in the industry.

Confirm the length of the lock with your loan officer, and try to get a commitment in writing that they can close within that time period. This commitment won’t be legally binding, but it gives you that much more leverage if they fall behind schedule at your expense. 


Mortgage Rate Lock FAQs

While interest rate locks are pretty simple, first-time homeowners usually have plenty of questions about them. Keep the following in mind as you apply for a mortgage.

Should I Lock in My Mortgage Rate Today?

It depends. Did you sign a real estate sales contract today? If so, then yes. 

Likewise, if you’re looking to refinance your mortgage as soon as possible, then yes, lock in a rate once you choose a lender and get approved. You could wait and hold out for lower interest rates, but that could just as easily backfire on you. 

How Long Can You Lock in a Mortgage Rate?

You can typically lock in a mortgage rate for 15 to 60 days. That includes both conforming and non-conforming loans. 

The length of your lock period depends on the lender’s policies and market conditions. Lock periods may shorten when mortgage rates are rising and lengthen when they’re falling. 

Shorter lock periods — 15 to 30 days — often cost nothing. Longer lock periods often come with additional fees.

What Happens if My Rate Lock Expires Before Closing?

In most cases, you can ask your lender for a rate lock extension. But if you do, they may charge you for the privilege, even if they’re to blame for the delay. 

If you don’t extend the locked rate, you fall at the mercy of the current mortgage rates at the time the lock expires. In other words, your loan rate begins to float with the market once more. In a rising interest rate environment, this means you’ll have a higher monthly loan payment.

What Happens if Rates Fall After I Lock in a Rate?

If you opt for a float-down option and it triggers, your interest rate will drop according to the terms of that option. 

Likewise, if your lock period expires before the loan closes and rates have fallen, you may end up with a lower interest rate when the loan does close — and a lower monthly payment. 

Otherwise, you close on your loan at whatever rate you locked in, regardless of the market interest rate at the time your loan closes. 

Can I Back Out of a Mortgage Rate Lock?

Technically, yes. You can back out of a rate lock. But it comes with consequences. 

You’d need to cancel your entire mortgage application. The lender would effectively throw out your file, and you’d have to reapply for an entirely new loan. That could even mean paying for a whole new home appraisal.

This restarts the lengthy loan process, further pushing back your settlement date. If you’ve made an offer on a house, you’ll likely default on your sale contract and could lose the house to another buyer, putting your home search back at square one.


Final Word

While you have many options for types of mortgages, rate locks exist in nearly every one. 

Word to the wise: Don’t play interest rate roulette. Just lock in a home loan rate when you’re ready to move forward with a mortgage, and if you absolutely must, opt in for a float-down option. But just as you shouldn’t try to time the market in your investments, you shouldn’t try to time interest rates either. 

As a final thought, one surefire way to lower your interest rate is to improve your credit score. Market interest rates rise and fall, but lenders always charge a lower premium over benchmark rates for borrowers with strong credit. Not only does it lower your monthly payment, but it can also lower your down payment to boot. 

.kb-table-of-content-nav.kb-table-of-content-id_0d0fb5-39 .kb-table-of-content-wrappadding:30px 30px 30px 30px;background-color:#f9fafa;border-color:#cacaca;border-width:1px 1px 1px 1px;.kb-table-of-content-nav.kb-table-of-content-id_0d0fb5-39 .kb-table-of-contents-titlefont-size:14px;line-height:18px;letter-spacing:0.06px;font-family:-apple-system,BlinkMacSystemFont,”Segoe UI”,Roboto,Oxygen-Sans,Ubuntu,Cantarell,”Helvetica Neue”,sans-serif, “Apple Color Emoji”, “Segoe UI Emoji”, “Segoe UI Symbol”;font-weight:inherit;text-transform:uppercase;.kb-table-of-content-nav.kb-table-of-content-id_0d0fb5-39 .kb-table-of-content-wrap .kb-table-of-content-listcolor:#001c29;font-size:14px;line-height:21px;letter-spacing:0.01px;font-family:-apple-system,BlinkMacSystemFont,”Segoe UI”,Roboto,Oxygen-Sans,Ubuntu,Cantarell,”Helvetica Neue”,sans-serif, “Apple Color Emoji”, “Segoe UI Emoji”, “Segoe UI Symbol”;font-weight:inherit;.kb-table-of-content-nav.kb-table-of-content-id_0d0fb5-39 .kb-table-of-content-wrap .kb-table-of-content-list .kb-table-of-contents__entry:hovercolor:#16928d;.kb-table-of-content-nav.kb-table-of-content-id_0d0fb5-39 .kb-table-of-content-list limargin-bottom:7px;.kb-table-of-content-nav.kb-table-of-content-id_0d0fb5-39 .kb-table-of-content-list li .kb-table-of-contents-list-submargin-top:7px;.kb-table-of-content-nav.kb-table-of-content-id_0d0fb5-39 .kb-toggle-icon-style-basiccircle .kb-table-of-contents-icon-trigger:after, .kb-table-of-content-nav.kb-table-of-content-id_0d0fb5-39 .kb-toggle-icon-style-basiccircle .kb-table-of-contents-icon-trigger:before, .kb-table-of-content-nav.kb-table-of-content-id_0d0fb5-39 .kb-toggle-icon-style-arrowcircle .kb-table-of-contents-icon-trigger:after, .kb-table-of-content-nav.kb-table-of-content-id_0d0fb5-39 .kb-toggle-icon-style-arrowcircle .kb-table-of-contents-icon-trigger:before, .kb-table-of-content-nav.kb-table-of-content-id_0d0fb5-39 .kb-toggle-icon-style-xclosecircle .kb-table-of-contents-icon-trigger:after, .kb-table-of-content-nav.kb-table-of-content-id_0d0fb5-39 .kb-toggle-icon-style-xclosecircle .kb-table-of-contents-icon-trigger:beforebackground-color:#f9fafa;

GME is so 2021. Fine art is forever. And its 5-year returns are a heck of a lot better than this week’s meme stock. Invest in something real. Invest with Masterworks.

G. Brian Davis is a real estate investor, personal finance writer, and travel addict mildly obsessed with FIRE. He spends nine months of the year in Abu Dhabi, and splits the rest of the year between his hometown of Baltimore and traveling the world.

Source: moneycrashers.com

TradeBench Review – Free Trading Journal to Improve Your Investing

@media (max-width: 1200px) body .novashare-buttons.novashare-inline .novashare-button-icon width: 100%; .novashare-inline .novashare-button .novashare-button-block background: #000000; .novashare-inline .novashare-button .novashare-border border-color: #000000; .novashare-inline .novashare-button .novashare-inverse color: #000000;


Dig Deeper

Additional Resources

TradeBench is a totally free online trading journal and risk management tool. All features are unlocked for all users and there are no paid plans. 

How does TradeBench get away with offering its services for free? By working with sponsors and asking its users to click an ad from time to time — a small price to pay for a tool that has the potential to make you a more successful trader. 

Wondering if TradeBench is right for you? Read on to learn about its features and benefits.


Key Features of TradeBench

TradeBench is marketed as a trading journal, which is a great tool in its own right. 

TradeBench offers far more than simple journaling functionality though. These are the most important features of its platform.

Automatic Trading Journal

The most profitable traders generally keep a trading journal and look back on it regularly in an effort to find pieces of their strategies that can be improved upon.  But keeping a journal manually can be a cumbersome task, especially for beginners. 

TradeBench’s automatic trading journal helps solve this problem. 

The platform connects to your brokerage account, automatically journalling trade data every time a trade is closed. The service captures data like entry price, exit price, profit, and setup — giving you the ability to review and learn from your recent trading activity. 

TradeBench’s trade journal feature allows you to generate reports with customizable parameters. That makes it easy to pinpoint the data you’re looking for and focus on the areas of your trading strategy that could use improvement. TradeBench lays out data in user-friendly, color-coded graphs that make it easier to understand what you’re looking at. 

Supported Assets

TradeBench supports stocks, forex, and cryptocurrency.

It also supports contracts for differences (CFDs). A CFD buyer agrees to pay the seller the difference between the current value of an asset and the value of the asset upon expiration. If the value of the asset falls, the seller pays the difference to the buyer. 

Risk & Money Management

Trading in financial markets is risky business, so traders must take active steps to mitigate the risk of loss. As a TradeBench user, you can input your risk parameters into the platform and use the proprietary risk management tools to determine:

  • Maximum Risk Exposure. The platform can outline entry points and exit points so that you understand the maximum risk exposure you have with each trade. 
  • Position Sizing. TradeBench generates statistics-driven pointers on position sizing relevant to your risk tolerance and portfolio size for each trade. 
  • Diversification Needs. Finally, TradeBench provides tools for better diversification while actively trading. 

Trade Planning

Planning is important in any process, especially when it comes to trading in financial markets. 

Fortunately for its users, TradeBench makes trade planning a breeze. The platform uses algorithms to produce a trade plan summary that outlines the potential profit or loss and risk-to-reward ratios to help you better understand where your entry points and exit points should be. 

TradeBench also provides trade planning checklists that automatically include several areas of interest you need to pay attention to when making a trade. 

You can customize these checklists to better fit your trading strategy and use them as market screeners. For example, if you’re only interested in stocks trading with a minimum volume and a maximum price, you can type those parameters into the checklist and search the market for opportunities that meet them.  

Open Trades Dashboard

TradeBench isn’t just for tracking data from previous trades and planning future trades. The platform can also track your open trades in real-time so that you can see how your portfolio is doing and make changes as necessary. 

The Open Trades Dashboard features a “what if scenario” tool as well. This tool creates calculations based on open trades and potential exit points to help you determine when the best time to exit your position might be. 

No matter if you’re trading long or short or have a single or multiple entries, the Open Trades Dashboard at TradeBench has the tools and functionality you need to improve your live trading activities. 

Potential Trade Comparison Tools

As you trade, there will be times when you find yourself stuck at a fork in the road between two or more trades, unsure of which trade to execute for the best results. 

For example, you might think ABC stock will break out to the upside and quickly gain value. However, if it fails to break out of its trading range, you know that it could fall dramatically. TradeBench has a tool that makes it a breeze to compare these options before you enter trades. 

TradeBench outlines the data from the trade comparisons in a color-coded table. That makes it easy to quickly spot the trades that are likely to be the biggest winners and losers while avoiding more detailed technical analysis on trades likely to be duds. 

Trading Simulator

Trading simulators are beneficial to beginners and experts alike, and TradeBench comes with a trading simulator that’s like nothing else on the market. Once you connect the TradeBench simulator to your brokerage, it mimics the features, available assets, and available trade types you’ll find in the brokerage’s live trading environment. 

If you’re a beginner, you can use TradeBench’s simulator to ensure that you understand the trading process and have a strategy that works before risking your hard-earned money on live trades. If you’re an expert, you can use the simulator to test new strategies and ideas with less real-world risk. 

P&L Charts

TradeBench makes it easy to quickly gauge your market performance with profit and loss (P&L) charts. The charts outline your entry cost, your exit price, and the profit or loss generated. For each trade, it shows this information in dollar amounts and in percentages.


Is TradeBench a Scam?

There’s quite a bit of chatter online about a potential TradeBench scam. We dug into the scam and found that TradeBench, the company that owns the TradeBench.com website, is a legitimate service that’s geared towards helping beginners and experts alike become more successful in financial markets for free. 

However, there was a website found at TradeBench.Digital that was scamming traders out of their hard-earned money. Thankfully, TradeBench.Digital doesn’t exist anymore, but the scam left a stain on the TradeBench brand that may wrongfully deter some users from this robust trading tool. 


Advantages of TradeBench

There are several advantages to taking advantage of the services offered by TradeBench. Some of the most significant perks to membership include:

  • Automatically Track Stock, Forex, CFD, and Crypto Trades. Stock traders, forex traders, and cryptocurrency traders can all benefit from using the TradeBench platform, unlike many other trade journaling services that generally focus their services on a smaller group of assets, especially for free users.  
  • Everything’s Free. You might be asked to click an advertiser’s link or read an email from time to time, but TradeBench will never ask for your credit card number. All features are free, and there are no paid plans on the platform. 
  • Risk Management Tools. Risk management is crucial to the trading process. Traders who don’t employ risk management strategies can end up with exorbitant losses. The risk and money management tools on TradeBench go above and beyond the norm, showing that the company has a keen interest in its users’ success. 
  • Interactive Charts. TradeBench offers a wide range of interactive charts and technical indicators to help you find the best trade setups.  
  • Track Open Trades. Market conditions can change rapidly, which makes tracking multiple open trades difficult. The platform’s Open Trade Dashboard makes tracking multiple positions a breeze with charts, graphs, and tools that help you plan profitable exits. 

Disadvantages of TradeBench

There aren’t many disadvantages to speak of when it comes to TradeBench. While some users may find it annoying to click an ad from time to time, the vast majority would likely rather click a few ads than shell out hard-earned cash for the service. 

  • Centered Around Trading. The only real drawback to the service is that it’s focused on trading, a high-risk process. Nonetheless, while the service is geared toward the active trader, long-term investors will also benefit greatly from some of the features available, especially the automated trading journal. 
  • Unrelated Scam Dinged TradeBench’s Reputation. For some time, TradeBench.Digital ran a scam called TradeBench. While TradeBench.com is a legitimate service that had nothing to do with the scam, the fact that a scam shared a name with the company dinged its reputation. 

How TradeBench Stacks Up

One of TradeBench’s biggest competitors is TraderSync. Check out the table below to see how the two compare:

TradeBench TraderSync
Price TradeBench is always free for all features.  Pro. $29.95 per month Premium. $49.95 per month Elite. $79.95 per month13% discount when billed annually 
Risk Management & Trade Setup Tools Yes Yes
Trading Simulator Yes Yes
Share Trade Data Share your trading journal with a single person or group of people.  Share customized trading reports with your mentor or followers. 

Final Word

TradeBench is a phenomenal tool that gives traders an edge on the competition. Beginners and experts alike can use the automated trading journal, risk and money management tools, and trade planning and research tools to become more successful traders. 

While the TradeBench tool has the potential to increase your profitability, it’s not a silver bullet. It’s important to remember that trading is a short-term, speculative process that always comes with a higher level of risk than long-term investing based on well-researched fundamentals. 

If you haven’t tried your hand as a long-term investor and earned a strong understanding of the mechanics of the stock market, it’s best to avoid trading entirely until you have more experience under your belt. 

.kb-table-of-content-nav.kb-table-of-content-id_0d0fb5-39 .kb-table-of-content-wrappadding:30px 30px 30px 30px;background-color:#f9fafa;border-color:#cacaca;border-width:1px 1px 1px 1px;.kb-table-of-content-nav.kb-table-of-content-id_0d0fb5-39 .kb-table-of-contents-titlefont-size:14px;line-height:18px;letter-spacing:0.06px;font-family:-apple-system,BlinkMacSystemFont,”Segoe UI”,Roboto,Oxygen-Sans,Ubuntu,Cantarell,”Helvetica Neue”,sans-serif, “Apple Color Emoji”, “Segoe UI Emoji”, “Segoe UI Symbol”;font-weight:inherit;text-transform:uppercase;.kb-table-of-content-nav.kb-table-of-content-id_0d0fb5-39 .kb-table-of-content-wrap .kb-table-of-content-listcolor:#001c29;font-size:14px;line-height:21px;letter-spacing:0.01px;font-family:-apple-system,BlinkMacSystemFont,”Segoe UI”,Roboto,Oxygen-Sans,Ubuntu,Cantarell,”Helvetica Neue”,sans-serif, “Apple Color Emoji”, “Segoe UI Emoji”, “Segoe UI Symbol”;font-weight:inherit;.kb-table-of-content-nav.kb-table-of-content-id_0d0fb5-39 .kb-table-of-content-wrap .kb-table-of-content-list .kb-table-of-contents__entry:hovercolor:#16928d;.kb-table-of-content-nav.kb-table-of-content-id_0d0fb5-39 .kb-table-of-content-list limargin-bottom:7px;.kb-table-of-content-nav.kb-table-of-content-id_0d0fb5-39 .kb-table-of-content-list li .kb-table-of-contents-list-submargin-top:7px;.kb-table-of-content-nav.kb-table-of-content-id_0d0fb5-39 .kb-toggle-icon-style-basiccircle .kb-table-of-contents-icon-trigger:after, .kb-table-of-content-nav.kb-table-of-content-id_0d0fb5-39 .kb-toggle-icon-style-basiccircle .kb-table-of-contents-icon-trigger:before, .kb-table-of-content-nav.kb-table-of-content-id_0d0fb5-39 .kb-toggle-icon-style-arrowcircle .kb-table-of-contents-icon-trigger:after, .kb-table-of-content-nav.kb-table-of-content-id_0d0fb5-39 .kb-toggle-icon-style-arrowcircle .kb-table-of-contents-icon-trigger:before, .kb-table-of-content-nav.kb-table-of-content-id_0d0fb5-39 .kb-toggle-icon-style-xclosecircle .kb-table-of-contents-icon-trigger:after, .kb-table-of-content-nav.kb-table-of-content-id_0d0fb5-39 .kb-toggle-icon-style-xclosecircle .kb-table-of-contents-icon-trigger:beforebackground-color:#f9fafa;

GME is so 2021. Fine art is forever. And its 5-year returns are a heck of a lot better than this week’s meme stock. Invest in something real. Invest with Masterworks.

Editorial Note:
The editorial content on this page is not provided by any bank, credit card issuer, airline, or hotel chain, and has not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of the bank, credit card issuer, airline, or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.
Joshua Rodriguez has worked in the finance and investing industry for more than a decade. In 2012, he decided he was ready to break free from the 9 to 5 rat race. By 2013, he became his own boss and hasn’t looked back since. Today, Joshua enjoys sharing his experience and expertise with up and comers to help enrich the financial lives of the masses rather than fuel the ongoing economic divide. When he’s not writing, helping up and comers in the freelance industry, and making his own investments and wise financial decisions, Joshua enjoys spending time with his wife, son, daughter, and eight large breed dogs. See what Joshua is up to by following his Twitter or contact him through his website, CNA Finance.

Source: moneycrashers.com

Best Jobs for Military Spouses and Where to Find Them

All marriages require work and dedication, but being a military spouse to an active-duty member of the armed forces involves extra commitment and flexibility.
You don’t need to be a CPA to be a bookkeeper. You don’t even need to be in the same town as your clients!
If writing isn’t your specialty, there is always a need for freelance graphic designers, video editors, those who know computer coding, and executive assistants. These nine freelance websites will help you start connecting with clients.
Expect to deliver transcription assignments within a few days — or even hours — of receiving them.
There are few costs in setting up a bookkeeping business, and you can earn an hour in this specialty.

Opportunity Abounds With Remote Work

Fast, accurate typists can make to per hour as transcriptionists. Transcriptionists are needed especially in the legal and medical worlds, where lawyers and doctors will often verbalize client and patient notes and then rely on a transcriptionist to convert those audio clips into written notes.
Ready to stop worrying about money?
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, remote work is more popular now than ever.
Private tutors can expect to earn to per hour.
Some fields are especially well-suited for military spouses and their often-changing life circumstances. Check out these promising fields.

Resources for Military Spouses on the Job Hunt

Some virtual assistant jobs can begin to mix with other tasks such as creating editorial or social media calendars, having a hand in planning company events, or onboarding other employees.

  • USA JOBS: This website that posts open jobs in the federal government also has an initiative designed to help spouses of active-duty military members find a government job. A job is not guaranteed, but the program allows you to apply in a “non-competitive” environment and then have your resume reviewed to see if you may be a good fit for any open federal government roles.
  • National Labor Exchange: The NLX has an entire search engine dedicated to finding jobs that are not tied to a location and are work-from-home-friendly.
  • Hiring Our Heroes: The organization “connects the military community with American businesses to create economic opportunity and a strong and diversified workforce.” You can leverage Hiring Our Heroes to attend in-person and virtual hiring events, fellowships that allow you to work in the civilian workforce, and networking sessions to meet other military spouses.
  • USO Pathfinder Transition Program: This program serves to help active duty military members, veterans, and military spouses find and keep careers that are rewarding to them. The Program provides professional development and job counseling to help individuals craft an action plan to find a job or career path they love.
  • Military One Source: Military One Source has myriad resources for military spouses considering a job or looking for a new one. Whether you want to search for a job, improve your resume or pursue further education, Military One Source has guidance on how to reach your goals.
  • VirtForce: VirtForce is an online network dedicated to helping military spouses find sustainable telecommuting and remote work. VirtForce has a military spouse community of more than 60,000 spouses, providing them with free training and networking to help land and keep a job.
  • Career Pursuit: This not-for-profit magazine, published annually, provides consolidated career advice to the military spouse community. Career Pursuit has grown so much in popularity it is now backed by the U.K. Ministry of Defense.
  • LockHeed Martin: The technology company that works closely with the U.S. government, is dedicated to helping military spouses explore a variety of career paths. LockHeed Martin provides a military spouse fellowship. The fellowship is similar to an internship and allows military spouses to get hands-on training and experience in the civilian professional world. LockHeed Martin provides training and guidance to spouses in the fellowship, as well.
  • USAA: The military-focused insurance provider, has its own military spouse employment program. You can search by location, level of education and years of experience.
A woman works from home.
Getty Images

Career Paths for Military Spouses

You can proofread transcripts, like court proceedings or medical dictation, blogs, journals and book manuscripts. Using just an iPad, you could make about per hour no matter where in the country (or world) you are located.

1. Freelancing or Contract Work

From kids to adults, tutoring services are always in demand.
Freelancing covers a multitude of fields, but freelance writing is an especially popular pursuit.
Virtual assistants are generally contractors and may work on a fixed-term schedule of employment. This can work well with any predicted moves or hectic times in your life, too.

2. Virtual Assistant

The Penny Hoarder’s Work-from-Home jobs portal is updated five days a week with new remote opportunities, many in customer service positions. Bookmark it and check it often!
If you can catch a typo quicker than anyone, consider working as a proofreader.
Thanks to this trend, military spouses have a wealth of job opportunities to pursue without needing to explain an upcoming move or inability to come into an office.
Even if a job description doesn’t explicitly state it is remote-friendly, it is still worth applying to. You may find via conversations with the recruiter or hiring manager that they will consider remote applicants who are well-suited for a role.

3. Transcribing

Everyone needs their hair cut eventually, right? No matter where your base is, folks will need a haircut. Although you will need some basic training in order to be able to cut hair well, hair stylists make between ,000 – ,000 per year before tips (which can add up to 20% on top of your base salary).
The frequent moves, specificity of military culture and sometimes remote living areas all contribute to the difficulties a military spouse may face when looking to build their career.

4. Hairstyling

Military families are required to relocate, every few years or even more than once in a year, and the moves can sometimes be sudden and unpredictable. This lifestyle can make it tough to hold down consistent jobs as a military spouse, 88% of whom are female.

5. Proofreading

Colorado-based writer Kristin Jenny focuses on military topics, lifestyle and wellness. She is a regular contributor to The Penny Hoarder.
Here is a guide to finding the best jobs for military spouses.

6. Customer Service

Thousands of call center jobs in retail, health care, airlines and many more fields shifted to remote work during the pandemic.
Virtual assistants provide organizational help all via online applications. You may be asked to manage someone’s meeting schedule and emails or coordinate when an office is due to reorder supplies.

7. Tutor

Freelancing can be an excellent path for military spouses because it is often remote and flexible schedule-wise. As a freelancer, you are self-employed, but may be hired on as a temporary contractor for a company to help them complete a project or to backfill a position for a specific duration of time.
You don’t have to start from scratch searching for a suitable job. Here are free career resources available for military spouses.
Source: thepennyhoarder.com

8. Social Media Management

Work with home-schooled students on subjects their parents aren’t confident teaching; offer after-school sessions in students’ homes or at the library; or work with a tutoring company to host SAT prep classes.

9. Bookkeeping

Small business owners know they need to have a social media presence, but many don’t have the time or know-how. If you’re comfortable and knowledgeable about the most popular platforms, you could manage social media accounts for small businesses.
Get the Penny Hoarder Daily
In fact, many employers view having a widespread workforce as a strength, bringing geographic diversity and tapping talent pools nationwide. <!–

–>


Becoming a virtual assistant is a fantastic way to earn at least K per year (and as much as in the six-digits) from the comfort of home — wherever that may be.