Loan Co-Signing

What to know before you agree to co-sign a loan

Loan co-signing is a highly charged Cosign_featuredtopic. On one hand, many people who co-sign loans are asked by close family members, so they may feel obligated and don’t think twice before putting pen to paper.

As with any financial decision, it is best to put aside the emotions and look at the facts. You aren’t being a bad family member if you say you need to think about it before agreeing, and you don’t have to say no just because you’ve heard the horror stories. The following information will help you think critically about co-signing so you can start determining what choice is best for you.

It is reasonable to take co-signing a loan very seriously because there are serious repercussions if the person who took out the loan can’t pay. Many people look at the task of loan co-signing as simply acting as a character witness. They have good credit and know that a financial institution trusts them with loans, and by co-signing, they are making it clear that they trust the person they co-sign for.

This is a dangerous way to think about the process, however, because you aren’t simply helping the financial institution make a decision about the borrower. Lenders don’t care about your opinion, they only care that there is someone who will definitely be able to pay. Be sure you understand that you aren’t just adding your credibility to the loan agreement, you are actually lending your assets.

When you co-sign, you are agreeing to pay for the loan, as well as any fees, penalties and other associated costs if the other party cannot. Depending on the specific loan and the state you live in, the lender may even take legal action against you if the loan is in default before attempting to collect from the other party. While this is a scary idea, it makes sense because the co-signer is the one most likely to be able to pay, and the financial institution doesn’t want to waste their time pursuing someone who has already demonstrated an inability to pay.

“By co-signing, you take on all the risk if the loan is not repaid but may only see a modest improvement to your credit score,” states Justin Harelik from Bankrate. “Even worse, the person who you helped most likely has bad credit. So he or she does not care whether another negative mark appears on his or her credit report. Needless to say, you have much more to lose.”

Even if you completely trust the person you agree to co-sign for, there are circumstances that can change your relationship in unexpected ways, so you must be fully prepared to pay when you co-sign. Divorce is an obvious example of good relationships gone wrong, but even co-signing for your children carries risks. There have been many tragic incidents of parents who are left to pay back student loans they co-signed prior to their child’s incapacitation or death. In some cases, financial institutions will negotiate or dismiss loans if a tragic death is involved, but you can’t count on that happening.

Now that you’ve fully considered the seriousness of the subject and the potential consequences, it is important to note that the big risks do indeed confer big rewards on the person you help, so you shouldn’t just say no automatically. Many people would be unable to further their education, get a car or a mortgage without a co-signer and many co-signers never end up paying a dime.

If you would be able to pay in an emergency (this is non-negotiable), and you want to help the other person, there are things you can do to make co-signing safer. First of all, if you are co-signing loans for a child, they can take out a life insurance policy with you as the beneficiary. So, if a tragedy does occur, you have a means of repayment that doesn’t drain your bank account.

You should also speak with the lender to determine the exact amount you might owe, so you can be prepared. You can also try to negotiate the terms so that you are only liable for the principal and not fees and penalties, for example.

“If you’re co-signing for a purchase, make sure you get copies of all important papers, like the loan contract, the Truth-in-Lending Disclosure Statement, and warranties,” recommends the Federal Trade Commission’s website. “Ask the creditor to agree, in writing, to notify you if the borrower misses a payment or the terms on the loan change. That will give you time to deal with the problem or make back payments without having to repay the entire amount immediately.”

Last, make sure you realize that co-signing becomes part of your finances. This means it may impact your ability to take out a loan for yourself. So, if you plan to buy a vacation home or take out another large loan in the future, co-signing may not be feasible even if all the other pieces of the puzzle look good.

Used with Permission. Published by IMN Bank Adviser Includes copyrighted material of IMakeNews, Inc. and its suppliers.

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Best Vehicles for Summer

The open road and warm weather form a fantastic duo

The warmer weather is here, which can only mean one thing: summer vacation road trips! Whether you’re going out with friends or with the whole family, having the right vehicle can make all the difference.

2015 Chevrolet Camaro ConvertibleCamaro_Featured
What’s better than driving down the highway in an American icon that won’t break the bank? The 2015 Camaro Convertible is the epitome of affordable performance and it starts at an MSRP of $23,705. Power comes from a 323 hp V6 engine, or an available V8 engine that bumps the power up to 426 horses. For those who demand even more, the Camaro ZL1 uses a supercharged 6.2-liter V8 for a pavement torching 580 horsepower. A nine-speaker Boston Acoustics audio system, Chevrolet MyLink and the safety and security of OnStar vehicle telematics are all on hand to keep you connected. AutoTrader added, “For those interested in big off-the-line acceleration and burnout potential combined with sharp handling skills and respectable fuel economy, the 2015 Camaro delivers it all. It almost sounds too good to be true.”

2015 Jeep Wrangler
The Jeep Wrangler is among the most recognized vehicles on the road today and its fan base is a rabid one with good reason. Recent accolades include being named to KBB.com’s “10 Coolest Cars Under $25,000,” who also gave it a “Best Resale Value Award.”

Starting at an MSRP of $22,795, the 2015 Wrangler adds even more equipment including an improved sound system, and a new toolkit to help remove the roof, doors and bumper, making the Wrangler the ultimate off-road companion. Just think of the memories you’ll make when roads aren’t your boundary. If you need more room, the four-door Wrangler Unlimited is also available.

“With roots going all the way back to the Willy’s ‘Jeep’ used during WWII, the iconic Jeep Wrangler is one of the purest and most capable SUVs on the market today,” according to Left Lane News.

2015 Chrysler 300
Sitting in the lap of luxury300_Featured is a great way to make any trip more memorable, and the 300 is a great choice with stand out design, impressive performance, solid fuel efficiency and heaps of luxury amenities. Aside from the most powerful V6 engine in its class and an available V8 engine that pushes over 360 horsepower and nearly 400 lb/ft of torque, the 300 is available with features like Poltrona Frau leather, the Uconnect infotainment system with the largest touchscreen in its class and an incredible 19-speaker audio system by harman/kardon. There are also over 80 safety and security features.

Cars.com noted, “The 2015 Chrysler 300’s attention-grabbing styling, elegant interior and composed road manners convey an overall classiness that rivals other large sedans.”

2015 Kia Sedona
The Sedona is all-new for 2015 and it features a design like nothing else in the segment, sporting a blend of crossover and minivan. A recent winner of Motor Trend’s “Minivan Big Test” where the Sedona toppled the Honda Odyssey, Toyota Sienna and Chrysler Town & Country. The Sedona was also named the 2015 AutoBytel Van/Minivan of the Year. The newest Sedona sports some of the most impressive features you can find in a minivan including first-class lounge seating, a heated steering wheel, UVO infotainment system and an Infinity audio system. You’ll also find seating for up to eight passengers, and up to 142 cubic feet of cargo capacity, so even a cross-country road trip with the family is attainable.

Regardless of what you choose, the right financing is only a phone call away. Or simply stop by and let us get you on your way to making memories this summer.

Used with Permission. Published by IMN Bank Adviser Includes copyrighted material of IMakeNews, Inc. and its suppliers.

Best Apps for Investing

For pros or beginners, the best ways to manage investing on the go

Thinking about becomingInvApps_featured an investor, or want to make investing easier? There’s an app for that. There’s several, actually, and if used wisely, they can help anyone from big brokerages to small start-ups find success in their investing endeavors.

The following apps are available for Apple and Android devices (or both) and best of all, it won’t cost you a thing! Check out these five best apps for investors:

Acorns
Investors can link their credit and debit cards, so that whenever they make a purchase, the app rounds up the change and invests the difference into a diversified portfolio of index funds. The best part about Acorns is that no matter how much money you have, you can still make small-dollar investments in a fast, stress-free way.

“Acorns is designed for new and experienced investors who want a quick, easy, and automatic way to invest their money,” said Jeff Cruttenden, co-founder and COO of Acorns. “People can get started in seconds; then set it and forget it.”

Note: While the app itself is free, Acorns charges $1 a month for accounts under $5,000 and 0.25 percent of your annual assets for accounts over $5,000.

Robinhood
Don’t you wish you can buy and sell stocks for free? Now you can. As one of the easiest ways to invest in stocks, Robinhood allows users to view real-time market data and quotes, create their own personalized watch list and perform trades, all with just a click of your fingers. It’s also very secure, requiring users to create a Touch ID or custom PIN code for their account.

Openfolio
Share your portfolios’ holdings with your followers, which can be anyone from your friends to colleagues and financial professionals. The holdings are given in a percentage instead of a dollar amount, so no one knows your actual worth. Sharing holding information can help you take note from other investors’ portfolios, especially the people you admire and trust (not to compare and judge each other!).

“If surrounding yourself with a network of smart investors makes you a more confident investor, maybe that’s a good thing,” says Grant Easterbrook, a former financial analyst at Corporate Insight. “But you probably shouldn’t be trying to copy hedge fund strategies.”

SigFig Investing
Wondering where you stand in the grand scheme of things? One of the best ways to manage your brokerage accounts, the SigFig Investing app links all of your existing investing accounts and tells you where you are in terms of breaking industry news. View your stocks’ performance, allocation, risk and more with a simple tap of a button.

Bloomberg
This is a great app to keep you updated on the latest financial news, as well as real-time stock tickers for major and minor stock exchanges. You can even get personalized news on the companies that you’re watching to help you make smart financial decisions. In addition, Bloomberg allows you to customize your own stocks and see where you stand in the market.

Check out these, and tons of other awesome apps, and be on your way to better investing. After all, isn’t getting you to invest more what’s important?

Used with Permission. Published by IMN Bank Adviser Includes copyrighted material of IMakeNews, Inc. and its suppliers.

Best and Worst Majors for a Future Career

Find out what majors will help you later in life

If you’re looking to earn your BestDegrees_featuredbachelor’s degree, then you might be thinking about what to pursue. It turns out that some majors might be better equipped to get you a job in the future and help you earn more — while some majors won’t always put you on the path you were hoping for.

So before committing to a major, it’s important to do your homework and make sure it’s one that will give you the most benefit. Here are the best college majors when planning for the future and alternatives for the not-so-great ones:

Best
Nursing – Salaries for registered nurses begin at a median of $55,400, with a 10-year job growth of 19.4 percent, not to mention nursing professions will expand at nearly twice the national average rate by 2022. Why?

“More elderly people will lead to a greater demand for health care,” says Matt Sigelman, CEO of Burning Glass Technologies. And if you go on to get a master’s degree, you can qualify to become a nurse practitioner, which earns a median salary of $89,960.

Computer science – Getting hired right after graduation as an information security analyst or software developer won’t likely be an issue for you, with a whopping 2,078,624 annual online job postings. Grads who major in computer science typically begin at a salary of nearly $60,000 and work for some of the world’s fastest-growing industries. There’s also lots of room for growth, with a 36.5 percent projected 10 year job growth.

Actuarial mathematics – Actuaries typically start with a salary of around $58,700 and by mid-career are up to $120,000. In addition, actuaries are able to work manageable hours, with only three out of 10 working more than 40 hours a week. Most people who enjoy math will choose math as their major, but actuarial mathematics might be a better path to a job requiring skills in math, statistics, probability and finance.

Civil engineering – As one of the most in-demand job opportunities (with 259,495 online job postings a year), civil engineers start with a salary close to a respectable $55,000, and increase vastly from there. Civil engineering majors must enjoy math and science, as the career includes designing and supervising large construction projects, from airports to sewer systems and tunnels.

Finance – “There will always be demand for people who know finance,” says Sigelman. “But the emergence of big data has also made finance majors sought-after for a wide range of jobs involving analytics.” Sought after is right, with the annual online job postings being 1,181,973. The income is respectable, too, with the median salary being $67,520 and the top 10 percent of advisors earning more than $187,200.

Worst
Art history – With a degree in art history, you’ll likely earn an annual salary between $35,000 and $40,000. If you have a passion for art, a better bet might be to major in art education, and later get a master’s degree, which would qualify you for a postsecondary art teacher career, which has an average salary of $62,160. And that would make you the highest-paying non-administrative job in the art industry.

Horticulture – There’s not a big demand for experts in this field, with under 400 annual online job postings. Plus, the average starting salary comes in at $35,900, with a projected 10-year job growth of 19.3 percent. If you’ve always dreamed of a career in plant layout and are an expert in greenery, a major in landscape architecture might work better to your advantage. Landscape architects earn a median salary of $64,180 with a job growth rate of 14.3 percent.

Social work – “Those who choose [social work] as a major should know that it tends to be an underfunded side of the economy,” says Sigelman. With the starting salary being around $33,000, it’s definitely a needed and rewarding profession. A public administration major, though, might offer more opportunities at a higher income.

Photography – A photographer begins with an average starting salary of $36,200, and only has a projected 10-year growth of 4.3 percent. If you have a passion for photography, take a few photography classes, but major in film production. There are many professional photographers who can be successful with a high school diploma, but holding a film production major means your mid-career salary will be around $71,000, and you still get that time behind the camera.

Biblical studies – A bachelor’s degree alone in this major will net you around $50,000 mid-career, only increasing about $15,000 from the average starting salary. It might be a good idea to get a masters to become a philosophy or religious studies teacher, which is a solid career, but if you’re looking to begin a career right after graduating from undergrad, philosophy might be a more reasonable major.

Regardless of what you choose, let us help you with the financing.

Used with Permission. Published by IMN Bank Adviser Includes copyrighted material of IMakeNews, Inc. and its suppliers.