Why You Should Avoid Personal Lending

A loan from a financial institution is best
Avoiding paperwork and getting low or no interest makes a loan from a friend or family member seem like a great idea, but the complications that arise in personal lending situations make them seldom worth the trouble.

Firstly, if the money is lent interest-free, that can create problems with below-market interest legislation. This is a big deal because avoiding interest is one of the main reasons people seek loans between family members. This is an issue because the IRS wants to ensure that people don’t try to get out of paying taxes on financial gifts by disguising them as loans. In order to remain in compliance with the IRS and make it clear that the transfer of money is a loan and not a gift, it may be necessary to calculate the interest that would hypothetically be paid on the sum at the current applicable federal rate (AFR), even if that interest is never actually paid. This is known as imputed interest.

“Then you get to pay real, live income taxes on the imaginary interest,” states Bill Bischoff of MarketWatch. “The imaginary interest payments can also trigger imaginary gifts from you to the borrower, which may eat into your valuable federal gift and estate tax exemption.”

There are differences in the ways that loans between family members are treated depending on whether the repayment is achieved through a set term schedule or it is considered a demand loan, which means that the lender may demand the money back at any time. The need to calculate imputed interest and make income tax payments on the interest is dependent upon the amount of the loan. Those interested in making a loan between family members should therefore talk to their tax professional to determine if below-interest tax rules may be an issue and if interest needs to be charged or imputed interest calculated.

While these legal and financial issues can definitely create their share of problems, the main reason to avoid lending between family members is the personal and emotional impact it can cause. Money owed between family members can cause tension in the relationships and even tempt people to avoid social interactions and family gatherings. If the borrower is not able to repay on a timely schedule, the relationship can be seriously compromised.

Furthermore, if the loan is for a new business or home, it may be especially problematic to get the money from a family member. When a family member lends money to cover a down payment or business startup costs, he or she may feel entitled to become part of the decision-making process, giving you input on how to run the business or which type of home is the best deal. People may do this because they feel their advice can make it more likely you will succeed in repayment, or because they feel their investment has bought them a stake in the home or business venture.

“One of the disadvantages of owing money to loved ones is that it may open up unwanted dialogue about your spending habits,” states April Maguire, writer for the QuickBooks Resource Center. “Whereas a bank won’t tell you to stop going out to dinner or discourage you from buying a new car, lenders who are also friends or family may criticize you for spending money on extravagances when you have yet to repay your debt.”

It can be hard to set up and maintain a clear separation between the financial agreement and the relationship when dealing with a personal lending situation. On the other hand, once a financial institution deems you worthy of a loan, it gives you autonomy to make your own business, home-buying and budgeting decisions.

Sticking with your financial institution helps you avoid all the hassles associated with personal lending and ensures that your relationships are never put at risk. Furthermore, it allows you to build a solid credit history with your timely repayments.

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

Do You Need a Co-signer for Your Auto Loan?

If you don’t have enough income or good enough credit, you may need a co-signer

As with any type of loan, your income and credit history will be major determinants of whether you are approved for an auto loan application. If you’ve been denied for an auto loan, you may want to consider using a co-signer.

Understanding how a lender determines loan approval
According to a January 2016 article in The Balance by author of “The Everything Improve Your Credit Book” Justin Pritchard, the lending company or financial institution must have reason to believe you will pay back the loan in order for you to be deemed worthy to receive the auto loan. A financial institution looks at two factors to determine whether you are credible: your credit score and your income.

Your credit history is a true indicator of how well you repay your loans; if you’ve borrowed money through loans previously and have successfully paid them off, or are making on-time payments, the lender will be more likely to believe you are a safe bet and will approve your loan application. On the other hand, if you have a poor credit score from defaulting on loan repayments, or don’t have any borrowing history, the financial institution may not want to approve you for a loan, explains Pritchard. To the financial institution, such a person is a bad investment, as the likelihood of the financial institution being repaid decreases.

Lenders also consider the income of the individual in deciding on a loan application, says Pritchard. In fact, the financial institution often calculates a debt to income ratio to determine if you make enough income to cover the expense of the loan payment each month.

Larger vehicles are generally more expensive than smaller ones, but smaller cars can also be more costly depending on the make and the engine build. The price of the vehicle and its calculated monthly payments under a loan in comparison to your monthly income will determine whether you have a low enough debt to income ratio to afford the monthly payments.

When to bring in a co-signer on your auto loan
If you have poor or no credit history, or your debt to income ratio is deemed too high by the lender, you will likely not be approved for a loan. In essence, the financial institution has determined you are too risky and will likely struggle to repay the loan, so it is unwilling to work with you.

A co-signer can help you meet the income and credit score requirements of the financial institution, as the financial institution considers the added income and credit history of the co-signer to the loan terms, explains Pritchard.

“Co-signing happens when somebody promises to pay a loan for somebody else. This happens when a [financial institution] won’t approve a loan (or it won’t approve the original application, but it’s willing to lend if a co-signer is involved),” says Pritchard in an October 2016 article in The Balance.

To the financial institution, the co-signer acts as a backup plan to collect payment if you default on the loan repayment. And if the co-signer has good credit history, the financial institution knows that at least one person on the loan has experience borrowing and repaying loans on time, adds Pritchard.

“The co-signer (who presumably has strong credit and income) promises to ensure that the loan gets repaid by signing the loan agreement with you. In other words, the cosigner takes full responsibility for the debt — if you don’t pay off the loan, your co-signer will have to do it.

“As a borrower,” Pritchard explains, “you need to have sufficient income and good credit to qualify for a loan. Using a co-signer therefore boosts your appeal as a borrower to the financial institution if you can’t meet the loan application requirements on your own.”

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

Three Things You Need to Do to Your Student Loans Right Now

Stay ahead of this big expense

Recent college graduates already have enough on their plates worrying about getting a job and supporting themselves — the last thing they want to do is stress over student loan repayment. For most, paying off student loans takes a long time, so no matter where you are in that process, there are three things you should stop and do right now.

1. Get organized
Take an inventory of your student loans. You can get a list by signing up at http://www.nslds.ed.gov/. After a short enrollment process, you will have a handy list of all guaranteed loans that were issued to you by the government, as well as those made by private lenders through June 2010. If you have a private nonguaranteed loan, those should all be present and detailed on your credit report, which you can find for free online.

Create a spreadsheet chronicling the name of each lender, the web address, your username and password (ensure your device is locked or encrypted), the loan balance, and the interest rate. The latter will be helpful if you opt to consolidate or pay off any interest early down the road. But be sure to keep your list up to date, as interest rates on student loans can be fixed or variable.

2. Know your repayment options
“The standard repayment schedule extends your loan payments over ten years, or 120 payments,” explained Maggie McGrath of Forbes. “However, if the standard monthly payments aren’t manageable on your budget — or if you’re unemployed or otherwise unable to repay your loans — the federal government has some alternative repayment plans for you, as well as some deferral options.”

Income-based repayment (IBR) and income-contingent repayment (ICR) extend your payment period to 25 years, capping your monthly payments at a fixed percentage of your income. The income on which payments are based and the actual percentage differ between the two plans. Pay-as-you-earn is a 20-year repayment period, with yet another varying percentage of your discretionary income.

You can read about other repayment options from the government here: https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/repay-loans/understand/plans. Be wary, as these types of programs can cause your interest costs to increase over time, so always pay as close to your original amount due as you can.

3. Be aware of loan forgiveness opportunities
There are three primary programs that forgive the balance of your loan: Public service loan forgiveness, teacher loan forgiveness and Perkins loan cancellation.

“To qualify for forgiveness, your loans can’t be in default, meaning they’ve gone unpaid for more than nine months,” noted higher education expert Brianna McGurran of Nerdwallet. “Also, private student loans don’t offer forgiveness, though some lenders will let you make interest-only payments or take a temporary interest rate reduction if you’re having trouble affording your bill.”

Public service loan forgiveness requires you to have been working for a nonprofit or the government for at least 10 years in roles including, but not limited to, firefighting, teaching, the military and nursing. In the teacher-specific program, you must work full time as an educator for five consecutive years. The Perkins loan forgiveness also cancels the balance of that loan if you’ve worked as a teacher, firefighter, nurse, police officer, school librarian or public defender for about five years or more. For a complete description of eligibility requirements, visit https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/repay-loans/forgiveness-cancellation.

If you take the time to do your homework and gather yourself before — or even while — you are repaying your student loans, the process will seem a lot less scary, and a lot more manageable.

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

Direct Subsidized and Direct Unsubsidized Loans for Students

The difference between these two types of student loans

If you or a family member is in the process of applying to schools and seeking information about the various ways to cover tuition and the associated costs, you may have already learned that you can choose between applying for loans that are either subsidized or unsubsidized.

There are key differences between these two types of loans that you should learn to make sure you choose the type that better suits your financial needs.

One of the things that make the loan application process slightly more confusing is that different people or organizations may use different names when referring to the same loan. Direct Subsidized Loans and Direct Unsubsidized Loans are sometimes called Stafford Loans or Direct Stafford Loans, respectively, so if you’ve heard those terms, you should be aware that they are the same and not two additional loans out of four different types being discussed. Regardless of what these loans are called, when trying to figure out which type of loan is which, the most important criterion to look at is whether the loan is subsidized or unsubsidized.

Both loan types are offered by the U.S. Department of Education to eligible students who attend participating schools. They can be used at four-year colleges and universities, community colleges, and trade, technical and career schools.

Qualifying for either type of loan requires the student to be enrolled at least half time at a school participating in the Direct Loan Program. Typically, the student’s chosen program must be one leading to a degree or certificate.

Direct Subsidized Loans offer students slightly better terms. This is because they are intended to go to students with financial need.

The website run by Federal Student Aid, an office of the Department of Education, defines financial need as “[t]he difference between the cost of attendance [COA] at a school and your Expected Family Contribution [EFC],” and states, “While COA varies from school to school, your EFC does not change based on the school you attend.”

Although your EFC will not change depending on your chosen school, your school will be responsible for determining the amount that you can borrow. That amount may never exceed your financial need, however.

The biggest advantage of a Direct Subsidized Loan is that the Department of Education pays the interest on the loan while the student is still in school at least half time. The federal government will also pay the interest on the loan if the student has postponed his or her loan payments with an authorized loan deferral. Furthermore, the six months following the student’s graduation are considered a “grace period,” during which time the federal government continues to pay the loan interest. This is intended to make it easier for students to make payments while searching for a job.

Although the party responsible for paying the loan interest differs, the interest rate itself does not depend on the loan type.

“As of 2013, interest rates charged for Federal Direct Loans began to be tied to the 10-year Treasury note, with an additional margin added on to cover expenses,” states Mark P. Cussen, CFP, CMFC, AFC, in an article for Investopedia. “They do not depend on the borrower’s credit score.”

In order to qualify for a Direct Subsidized Loan, the income level of the student’s family must not be above certain levels. The exact criteria that define low family income and sufficient financial need are detailed in the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). More information about the regulations and processes of applying for student aid with FAFSA can be found at https://fafsa.ed.gov.

While Direct Unsubsidized Loans don’t have an income requirement, the student is responsible for the interest accrued during all periods. One advantage of Direct Unsubsidized Loans is that they are available to graduate students, which isn’t the case with Direct Subsidized Loans. A further advantage is that it is possible to take out more money with a Direct Unsubsidized Loan, so students with very large educational costs to cover may find it necessary to use a loan that is unsubsidized.

The cost of education is rising at an alarming pace, but thankfully there are many financial tools, including Direct Subsidized and Direct Unsubsidized loans, to help students and their families cover it. To delve more deeply into the details of these loans and explore the wealth of information available online for students and their families in the application process, visit https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/.

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

How a Personal Loan Impacts Your Credit

The relationship between loans and credit scores
It’s well-known that your credit score has a big impact on your ability to take out a loan, as marchfeatured_prsnllnimpactwell as on the total amount of the loan and interest rate your lender offers. But did you also know that the relationship works in the other direction as well?—that a loan can impact your credit score?

To understand this relationship, you have to consider where your credit score comes from. Your credit score is calculated using a variety of factors, including your payment history, the total debt you owe and the number of credit lines recently opened. When you take out a personal loan, the last two factors are affected.

Even just applying for a loan has an impact, since your credit score goes down slightly each time an inquiry is placed on your credit report by a lender checking your credit.

The financial advantage of finding a great loan far outweighs the negative impact that an inquiry has on your credit score. If you take out a personal loan to pay back a high-interest credit card, for example, you would benefit from the reduced interest and your credit score could be improved overall.

“A personal loan may help your credit score by moving credit-card debt over to the installment loan column,” states NerdWallet staff writer Amrita Jayakumar. “The way credit scores are figured, borrowers who use all or most of the available credit on their cards get hit with a significant penalty.”

Another thing to know about the impact that loan applications have on your credit score is that each inquiry may not count fully against your credit score if you are just comparing the rates of more than one loan. For example, if a car dealership places an inquiry on your credit score in the process of offering you an auto loan, and you want to check with your local financial institution to find a better deal, the second inquiry may not count against you.

“Generally any requests or ‘inquiries’ by these lenders for your credit score(s) that took place within a time span ranging from 14 days to 45 days will only count as a single inquiry, depending on the credit scoring model used,” according to the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. “You can minimize any negative impact to your credit by doing all of your shopping in a short amount of time.”

Once you have taken out your loan, it is important to make regular payments in order to maintain and improve your credit. A strong payment history goes a long way toward achieving a good credit score, and as you pay down your loan, your overall debt will decrease, further benefiting your credit.

So if you are considering taking out a loan, don’t let fear of a negative impact on your credit score stop you from exploring your options.

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

The Dangers of Taking a Personal Loan to Finance Your Wedding

Consider the long-term costs of taking a loan to pay for one day of happiness

The cost of weddings has risen in recent years, leading to couples taking out loans or paying for items with credit cards. Yet starting your married life in debt could be a dangerous financial decision for more reasons than one.

Weighing the Costs
According to a survey conducted by renowned wedding resource site TheKnot.com, the average cost of a wedding in 2015 was $32,641. While some will gladly pay this amount for the wedding of their dreams, most Americans do not have enough money saved up to do so without resorting to borrowing.

In an article on TheKnot.com, contributor Rachel Torgerson advises against taking out a personal loan to finance your wedding, agreeing with financial planners on the dangers of taking on such large debt for one day of your life.

“The problem with personal loans is that most often people are taking them out because they’re trying to spend cash they don’t have. I would also lump in credit card spending here, because I think a lot of people pay for wedding-related things with a credit card and they may or may not have the cash to pay it off in full,” says CFP Laura Lyons Cole, personal finance contributor for financial planning website MainStreet.com.

If you’re considering taking out a large-sum loan, it means you probably don’t have the money to afford such a high-cost wedding in the first place. In general, money and financial stress are top issues that couples will argue over. In fact, studies have shown a high correlation between high-cost weddings and divorce rates.

Additionally, Josephon advises to consider how your ability to put money toward other savings, like a retirement savings account or your future children’s college savings, may be hampered when you start your marriage off with serious debt.

Paying Long Term for a Short-Term Event
With a consumer installment loan, you will be required to make payments for both principal and interest through the wedding loan term, Karimi explains. This means you will end up spending more for your wedding day than the actual cost of the event.

Karimi notes that a $32,000 loan at a 7.5 percent APR would take 48 months to pay off, with minimum payments at a bit under $775 per month-and that’s for buyers with excellent credit.

Even if you can afford such high monthly payments, think of the time it would realistically take to pay off this single-day event. Additionally, you would be carrying debt during a time of major change in your life; you may want to buy a home or a new car, or start a family, and such debt could prevent you from being able to open other lines of credit to pay for these expenses.

Don’t forget that creditors and lenders will look at your current financial standings, including other loans and lines of credit you have out. With a majority of young adults saddled with high student loan debt, their loan amount and interest rate offered will be affected by their total debt.

While you can get a loan with a lower credit score, you will ultimately pay more for it because of higher interest rates. Most financial advisors warn against taking such a loan, known as a bad credit personal loan.

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

Understanding Lease Terminology

Motor vehicle financing terms to know before going to the dealership

Before steppingleaseterms_featured into a dealership to lease a car, it’s important to understand lease terminology to make sure you get the best deal possible and aren’t taken advantage of by a dealer.

Understanding the basics
Cars are often advertised with much lower payments for leases than for purchases. According to a February 2012 article from J.D. Power and Associates contributed by Jeff Youngs, this is because lease payments are based on the depreciation value of the vehicle during the contracted term of operation.

There are, however, additional terms and fees on top of the monthly lease payment. Some—like mileage allowance, purchasing options after the lease term ends and depreciation of the vehicle—are widely known, while others are not.

The following are those you should know that might fall in the latter category:

Acquisition/termination fee
Also known as the bank fee, this covers administration costs and is paid either at the beginning of the lease (acquisition) or at the end (termination), according to Youngs.

Capitalized cost
This is the negotiated total cost of the vehicle. “When leasing a model that is in high demand and low supply, the capitalized cost may be the Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) or higher,” Youngs said in an April 2013 article from J.D. Power and Associates.

Capitalized reduction payment
Also known as the cap-reduction payment, this is the down payment made on a lease term to help reduce the monthly payment amounts. It is nonrefundable, Youngs said.

Destination charge
This is the nonrefundable cost for the vehicle to be delivered to the dealership.

Drive-off fee
This is the total amount due at signing. Just as when purchasing a car, there will be title fees, registration fees and sales tax to account for, though leased vehicles incur sales tax on monthly payments only, said Tony Quiroga, Car and Driver magazine senior editor, in a February 2015 article.

Money factor
Also known as the finance factor or finance charge, this number is used to calculate your interest rate by multiplying the money factor by 2,400, Young said. For example, a money factor of .00350 would be an 8.4 percent interest rate.

Rent charge
“This is the amount of the lease payment that comes from interest charges,” Quiroga explained. “To calculate the rent charge, add the adjusted cap cost to the depreciation and multiply by the finance factor,” and then multiply by the total number of months in the lease term.

Residual value
According to Youngs, this is the “predicted value of the vehicle at the end of the lease.” Quiroga pointed out that with residual value, “the less it’s worth, the higher the lease payments.”

Subsidized lease
“Many advertised lease deals are subsidized leases, meaning that the auto manufacturer determines, in advance, the financial variables used to calculate the lease payment and takes on a certain degree of risk in order to create an attractive or class-competitive payment,” Youngs warned. He added that subsidized lease terms are nonnegotiable and often require a cap-reduction payment.

Additional lease information
There are a few other details to note in regard to leasing, depending on the vehicle you choose and any additional services you purchase.

Gap insurance is often included in lease terms as an additional fee. According to Youngs, this automotive insurance helps meet the gap between your insurer’s paid amount and the total residual value due to the leasing company in the even that your vehicle is stolen or damaged beyond repair.

A service contract is also offered as part of a lease contract, in which the consumer agrees to pay a discounted price up front to the dealership to have the vehicle serviced by the dealership for all of its future repair and maintenance needs.

“Before buying a service contract, make sure the brand of vehicle selected does not offer free scheduled maintenance for a limited time,” Youngs said.

Finally, it’s important to note that your base monthly payment is not the total amount you have to pay each month within a lease. The base monthly payment is simply the depreciation value plus the rent charged, divided by the number of months in the lease term. Your total monthly payment—what you actually pay each month—is the base payment plus tax.

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