How to Plan Spring Break Travel on a Budget

If you pay attention to the gossip columns full of five-star hotels and celebrity-studded gatherings, it might be easy to think that you don’t have the cash to enjoy your Spring Break vacation to its utmost. But the reality is that there are plenty of ways that you can get the most out of Spring Break on a budget, and we’re going to list some of the best of them right here at Money Ladder.

Travel Light

You’re going to be spending much of your time galavanting around your destination of choice anyway, so decking yourself out with all the comforts of home and the accessories they require to work won’t be necessary. Toiletries, a few sets of clothes, some snacks, and your phone to help you get around and relieve downtime are all you should really need to enjoy an affordable spring vacation

Get Cheap Lodgings

Again, since the whole point of your trip is to explore your surroundings and experience fun-filled adventures, staying in luxury digs isn’t a requirement for having a great time. There’s a good chance area hotels might be more expensive during Spring Break if you’re visiting a notoriously busy resort town, but your friends or family might have a couch to crash on, and if not there are always affordable motels! If you’re willing to share a room or part of a house, you can find an AirB&B, pay half the price, and rely on your host to suggest the best local sports and favorite restaurants on a budget. Some hosts may also offer insider tips on additional discounts or agree to be your very own guide.

Family Deals

Lots of entertainment venues and lodgings will be aware that you’re trying to plan Spring Break on a budget, so during family vacation rushes there will often be vouchers that will cut down on expenses if you’re traveling with your spouse and children. Look for reduced family pricing in places like zoos, museums, and even some hotels!

Four women jumping on the beach

Ditch the Cars

Save big on gasoline and rental car fees by taking public transportation to all the hot spots you’re itching to visit; it’s easier to appreciate your new surroundings when you’re the passenger and not the driver, as well. Surge pricing will likely be in effect at night if you choose to use a rideshare app as well, so consider rocking Spring Break on a budget by looking up late-night bus routes and avoiding hefty fees.

Getting Your Grub On

There are probably going to be a lot of awesome restaurants in whatever big city you choose to visit for Spring Break, but try to quell the gourmand in you and stick mostly to fast food and affordable fare from the grocery store. Being judicious with what you eat for the majority of your trip will allow you to ‘spring’ for some truly nice food on occasion as well, so you don’t have to worry about losing out when you plan your vacation expenses.

Travel in a Pack

All of the suggestions on this list will become exponentially less expensive when you divide them among a large group of people. Travel with friends and family so you can split the bills on food, gas, and anything else you need to have a great time on your Spring Break.

Go By Ground

There’s no sense in buying an expensive plane ticket to your destination of choice when you can enjoy Spring Break on a budget by traveling via car, bus, or train. And if you’re going with your pals as we suggested above, you’ll enjoy reduced travel expenses and avoid the stress and associated expenses of the airport.

Neon lights at a concert

Save Even More with Money Ladder

These are just a few of the ways you can enjoy an awesome Spring Break without having to shell out a ton of cash, but why stop there? When you sign up with one of our Money Ladder programs like debt education or resolve to learn how your spending habits can negatively impact your future, you’re not just learning how to have a great Spring Break on a budget: you’re giving yourself the life skills you need to play as hard as you work, without any of the lingering guilt that comes from having spent too much on a night out. Having fun and building a financial future for yourself can go hand in hand without a hitch when you learn the right tips from Money Ladder.

To start learning how to enjoy everything in your life so much more, get in touch with us today so we can let you know just how we can start improving your financial life. Having fun with your friends and family is great enough as it is, but making sure you have the resources to do so for the rest of your life is even better. Trust the experts at Money Ladder and party smarter for many years to come.

Retirement: 5 Things You Can Do Right Now

We all look forward to the day when we can finally clock out for the last time and enjoy the hard-earned fruits of a lifetime of labor. Unfortunately, we don’t all have the knowledge or confidence to invest properly in our future, but that doesn’t have to stay the case. Some of us might have more of an opportunity to save into our old age than others, but the reality is that there are some retirement tips you can start using right now to make sure you’re financially secure even when you can’t work anymore (or just don’t want to). Learn some of the ropes of retirement with Money Ladder.

1. Saving for the Long Haul

You’ve probably heard this one a few times before: conventional wisdom says that you should put between 10 to 15% of your income into a savings account to have enough for retirement, and even with the fluctuations of the economy that’s still pretty much right on the money. This is one of those retirement tips that changes its exact number based on what your job is and at what age you begin saving, but in general, 10% is a good number for ensuring you have enough retirement money without sacrificing too many of the funds you need for day-to-day living.

2. Don’t Forsake the 401k

If you have an employer that gives you a 401k plan, it’s crucial for you to start putting whatever you can spare into that account as soon as you can. While your investment choices are somewhat limited with a 401k, it’s a mainstay among retirement tips both for its convenience and for the amount of taxes you’re eligible to save with this account. But if you don’t have a career that gives you the benefit of a 401k, you might have to get a little creative with your investments, and that’s what the next section is for.

Older man with sunglasses and hat

3. Make the Right Investments

We can’t all have a 401k, but the stock market is open to anyone with a little bit to spare and a good sense of calculated risk. The stock market can be intimidating, but it’s not so hard to navigate when you educate yourself on the basics. Choosing the right stocks to invest in to maximize your retirement money is also an element of financial behaviors and motivations that you’d do wise to learn as much about as you can.

4. Getting Down to Business

One of the simplest and most effective retirement tips is also, paradoxically, one of the trickiest: cutting down on everyday expenses. It’s common sense that the more money you save on the day-to-day costs that make up your daily life, the more money you’ll have in the till when you’re finally ready to quit your job for good. Not everyone is born with knowledge about how to save firmly in hand, but luckily there are plenty of resources to help you out with this.

5. Look Into IRAs

One of the most common retirement tips is to invest in an IRA, short for individual retirement arrangements. These can be a little complicated to understand, but there are basically two types: traditional IRAs, which have no income requirements but offer less flexibility, and Roth IRAs, which require a certain baseline level of investment but have greater flexibility and higher withdrawal caps. This is one of the more technical retirement tips and can require a bit of research, but some solid account management can work wonders for you in this regard.

Old man with a book collection

Secure Your Financial Future with Money Ladder

These are just a few of the ways you can save up enough retirement money to live comfortably into old age, and there are many more you can learn and even start using today when you sign up with Money Ladder. No matter what your income level or financial situation, Money Ladder can start you out with some simple retirement tips and then introduce the nuances you need to become truly financially solvent as time goes on. Day to day saving is one thing, but at Money Ladder we’re dedicated to making sure you’re good to go for the long haul.
If you’re ready to experience an unprecedented level of financial security, get in touch with our customer service team today by calling 1-888-585-8492, and ask how we can help. Our friendly and knowledgeable certified Client Success Specialists will be able to give you all the retirement tips you need to start saving with confidence. Leave monetary fear in the past where it belongs, and join the Money Ladder family today.

Keeping Your Identity Safe While Holiday Shopping

The holidays are here again, but while some of us are stoking cozy fires and sending out Christmas cards to the people we love, others are sharpening their spyware and looking for unsuspecting shoppers to bamboozle out of their credit card information. Identity theft runs hot during the holidays, but you can put digital criminals on ice with this handy guide to keeping your info safe.

Shred Your Documents

A huge proportion of stolen bank and credit card information comes from documentation carelessly tossed into the garbage. If you need to get rid of any papers that might contain sensitive financial information, be sure you run them through the shredder before you send them to the landfill.

Always Check Your Balance

You spend a number of small sums that add up during the holidays, and identity theft can be easier to pull off if you’re not constantly checking what’s going in and out of your bank account. The closer an eye you keep on your bank balance, the trickier it will be for identity thieves to swindle you.

Freeze Your Credit

Freezing your credit involves contacting your credit providers and making it so that no new credit files can be added to your record. You can freeze and unfreeze your credit at will, so what better way to dissuade identity theft for the holidays than engaging with the winter theme and stopping criminals in their tracks?

Protect Your Passwords

Making sure you have strong passwords is one of the best ways to safeguard yourself from identity theft. It’s best to have a different password for every site you use, but if that’s too much trouble at least make sure your passwords have mixed capitalization, numbers and punctuation when possible (and for goodness sake, don’t make “password” your password!).

Keep Your Social Security Number Safe

Identity theft during the holidays can be almost impossible to easily stop if a bandit has gotten access to your social security number. Never carry your social security card on your person, make sure you only give it out to necessary services that are absolutely reputable and keep every piece of documentation with your number on it in a safe, hidden place.

Limit What You Share on Social Media

We all like getting birthday wishes from our Facebook friends, but having the full date of your birthday on your profile might make it easier for identity theft to occur during the holidays, especially if your profile is public. Keep things like your full legal name, childhood information and names of family members up your sleeve as well, as these can often be used to answer security questions.

Make Sure Your Phone is Secure

Many people underestimate just how much of their personal data is available on their phone, and how much of it could be used to exploit and rob them if it fell into the wrong hands. Always make sure access to your phone is protected with a PIN, and have some reliable antivirus software like Avast on hand to mitigate the odds of receiving an unwanted gift of identity theft for the holidays.

Stay Vigilant

All these tips won’t do you any good if you’re not paying active enough attention to put them to proper use. Keeping your eyes open and being ready for anything is going to be the best advantage you have when it comes to making sure identity theft doesn’t happen to you.

Protect Your Finances with Money Ladder

No matter how you’re planning to celebrate the holidays, identity theft can put a dent in the festivities if you aren’t prepared to stop or prevent it. Money Ladder can help you become a financially savvy individual with the help of our Finance 101 course, as well as our teachings of financial psychology that will help you make the right monetary choices now and in the future.

If you’re ready to see how Money Ladder can help bring some holiday cheer to your bank account, get in touch with us at moneyladder@moneyladder.com and ask what we can do for you. Identity theft doesn’t have to be a part of your holiday itinerary when you enlist the help of Money Ladder.

How to Travel During the Holidays, Without Breaking the Bank

For many of us, pricey gifts aren’t the only expenditure we have to worry about during the holidays. Traveling to see our friends and family can put just as big of a dent in our pocketbooks. Traveling during Christmas can be costly, but with Money Ladder’s help you can cut down on wintry expenses and bulk up on holiday cheer.

Stay with Kin

This is the season for spending time with the people you love, so ditch hotels and AirBnBs and make your lodgings with your friends and family if it’s at all possible. You’ll save on nightly payments, and your kin will be glad to have you around.

Take the Ground Route

Likewise, if your close ones aren’t an international flight away, you can save a bushel by either taking a cross-country bus or making a road trip out of your holiday adventure. The act of traveling during Christmas can be a part of your Christmas memories in and of itself!

Keep it in the Home

Hitting bars and restaurants will probably be an inescapable part of your itinerary, but make sure you help out with family meals and enjoy a few drinks by the fireside as well. This doesn’t just bring you closer together, it saves big bucks on nightlife and dining expenditures as well.

Keep Your Gift Affordable

Most people will understand that traveling during Christmas can be incredibly costly, and spending time with the ones you love is a big gift in and of itself. It’s ok to not spend tons of money on lavish gifts if your expenses are going to the trip itself instead; just make sure your gift is thoughtful and comes from the heart no matter how much you spend on it.

Lend a Helping Hand

Family meal prep, trip planning and other things are a big part of holiday gatherings, so don’t be afraid to volunteer your services whenever you can. Traveling during Christmas is easier when people see you as helpful, and will be more likely to pick up expenses for you if you should find yourself needing them to do so.

Go in a Group

If you’re making the sojourn with other adults, see if you can get everyone to pool their resources when it comes to things like gas, meals and other necessities. Splitting the cost of travel in as many directions as possible is of benefit to everyone.

Plan for Emergencies

Nothing puts financial pressure on your time spent traveling during Christmas like having to scramble to make up for a cancelled flight, or having to find a new route to your destination thanks to the interference of wintry roadblocks. The more possibilities you can account for over the course of your trip, the less likely it will be that you’ll have to shell out any cash when an obstacle presents itself.

Get in Early

Whether you’re driving or getting a flight, hitting the road before the holiday rush or buying your ticket as far in advance as possible is going to save you tons on gas and air fare, respectively. Traveling during Christmas is always harder than traveling a little before Christmas, after all!

Get the Gift of Money Ladder

No matter where, when or with whom you’re celebrating the holidays, Money Ladder can help you to do so easily and efficiently. Our qualified Client Success Specialists are determined to give you all the resources and knowledge you need to cut down on costs and bulk up on yuletide cheer. There’s always another tip to learn and another dollar to save when you know how to look.

To give your own advice about traveling during Christmas, leave a comment, and call us at 1-888-585-8492 if you’re ready to start making use of our services. You can make the holiday a happy one every time when you spend and save with Money Ladder by your side.

To Layaway or Not to Layaway

If you’re short on cash or credit, buying an item on layaway might strike you as an appealing idea, especially if you’re sure you’ll have the money for it in the near future. But what exactly is layaway, and is it a good idea? Let Money Ladder help you sort out fact from fiction.

What’s Layaway?

Layaway is the practice of paying for a good in portions, and then receiving the item once all of your payments have been completed. It’s different from an installment plan in that when you pay by installments, you get the item immediately and then pay it off piecemeal, whereas with layaway the payments must happen before the good is yours. When determining if layaways is a good idea for you, it’s crucial to keep in mind that it’s not the same thing as an installment plan, as this is a mistake many people make.

Advantages of Layaway

Getting an item on layaway purchases doesn’t accrue interest, which means that unlike many situations involving credit you won’t end up paying more in the long run than you would have with cash up front. Layaway also ensures that you’re not spending beyond your means. There’s no incentive to overspend if you can’t even get your hands on what you want until you’re done paying. Layaway is a good idea if you’re not trying to affect your credit score and you know you’ll have the money for what you want in good order soon.

Disadvantages of Layaway

Of course, if the money for what you want isn’t forthcoming, you’ve just saddled yourself with a reservation for something you might not be able to afford. It’s also worth noting that while layaways don’t accrue interest, they do frequently come with fees: there’s usually a small charge for opening a layaway account, and you can bet your bottom dollar (literally) that there’ll be a cancellation fee if you decide to back out. Figuring out if layaway is a good idea for you hinges on your certainty that you’ll be able to pay for what you want down the road, just as much as how certain you are that you want this particular item enough for the seller to guarantee it for you in the first place.

Is Layaway Right for Me?

Layaway can be a good resource if you want (or need) to buy something expensive, but either don’t have the credit for it or don’t want to change the credit score you already have. That said, because it entails a certain level of financial obligation, layaway is a good idea only if you’re absolutely certain you’re going to have the income you need to make a final purchase. If you don’t have the capital to pick something up now, it may not be wise to assume that it’s a sure thing you’re going to have it in the near future.

Ask yourself these questions before you decide on layaway payments:

  • Do I need the object in question?
  • Is it a safe bet I’ll have the cash to pay for it very soon?
  • Is my credit stable enough to be able to pay for it on an extension?

Only you can know for sure if layaway is a good idea for you, but make sure to think over your options carefully before you make a final decision.

Make the Right Choices with Money Ladder

If poor credit or no credit is influencing your decisions about what you can or can’t purchase, we’ve got good news for you: help is just around the corner. Money Ladder is committed to making sure that no matter what your means are or what your level of financial expertise is, you can receive all the wisdom and resources you need to make sure you’re financially prosperous for years to come.

If you want to know more about whether layaway is a good idea or not, leave us a comment below. You can also speak with one of our Client Success Specialists about what Money Ladder can do for you by calling us at 1-888-585-8492. You have a lot of choices in this world when it comes to both methods of payment and financial guidance, so make the one that will serve you well and join the Money Ladder family today.

What Is APR? A Guide to Debt, Good and Bad

We’ve all been there. You finally got that raise that your boss has been promising you for the last two years. You’re so ecstatic you round up your friends and family and pop some bubbly to celebrate this momentous occasion. Then bam! You get a letter in the mail letting you know that your rent is going to go up next month by 10%. You think to yourself, it could be worse, at least the timing is right and you’re getting that raise.

However, later that month your car starts to overheat on the freeway. Great luck, right? Just when you thought things were finally looking up. After taking it to the auto shop, you find out it’s going to be quite the expense to fix. You would of had enough to cover everything had your rent not gone up. But you’re in luck, you just received this new Credit Card in the mail with great rewards to help with this unexpected burden.

This is how it is for most Americans — one thing after another and the means to keep up is often out of reach as prices rise due to inflation and income remains relatively static. As the cost of living continues to rise every year, it becomes a burden on many families across America to simply pay their bills and stay afloat. Topple on unexpected life events such as medical bills, car/home repairs or unemployment, and you might just feel like it’s impossible.

It’s not all grim though, the majority of America –especially in high cost living areas– rely on credit cards to bridge the gap. Most of us rely on credit to pay for things in advance so that we can live a more comfortable life. In fact, many of us were able to obtain an education by relying on credit from loans, plus interest, that we have yet to pay back.

Having debt often comes with a stigma, but the truth is, most of us have debt, including our very own country! Debt doesn’t have to be a bad thing. You just have to know what debt is — the good and the bad — and how to use it to your benefit rather than to your demise. So, let’s start with the basics.

What Is Debt?

To put it simply, debt is money that was borrowed from a lender and must be paid back to that lender at a specified date in the future. It’s important to note that debt can either be secured or unsecured. Secured debt occurs when an asset, such as your home, is used as collateral. Whereas unsecured debt is not backed with  collateral and, in the event of default, requires a lawsuit to collect the remaining balance of the loan. The kinds of debt covered in this article are of the unsecured variety, and can even be beneficial in helping you to set yourself up for a brighter future.

Interest Rates

Since a dollar today is worth more than a dollar at some point in the future (this concept is called the “time value of money”), the lender must be compensated for giving up the possibility of saving or investing that dollar today. This compensation comes in the form of interest payments, which are added to the principal of your debt to make up the total debt burden. That is, you are paying someone else to use their money.

Let’s look at a simple example to see how interest rates work. Imagine you take on a loan worth $5,000 with a 10% APR (annual percentage rate) that you plan to pay back in one year. One year later, you will have to have paid back 10% more than the initial $5,000 principle, totaling $5,500.

What Is APR?

APR is the interest rate you’ll usually see on credit card statements. As the name suggests, APR represents the interest rate you will pay on an annualized basis, making it a convenient metric for comparing credit cards. Banks will usually charge interest on a shorter basis, such as monthly or quarterly, and so APR does not convey the effects of compounding interest.

Different Kinds of APR

APR is applied on either a fixed or variable basis. Fixed APR applies a guaranteed interest rate for the duration of the loan, so you know in advance exactly what you will have to pay in interest relative to the balance of the loan. A variable APR, however, may change according to the terms and conditions, so pay careful attention to the fine print in such cases.

There are also different kinds of APR depending on what it is applied on. The most general is called “purchase APR,” which is the rate that is applied on any purchase made with the credit card. If you need to borrow from your credit card, you should check the “cash advance APR.” If you miss a payment or otherwise violate the terms of the card, you will face the higher “penalty APR.” Finally, you may encounter an “introductory APR” offer that applies a low APR for a limited duration, usually for the purpose of balance transfers or cash advances.

Common Types of Debt

Consumer debt refers to any debt held by a person or family. It is typically used to finance common expenditures that enhance one’s standard of living, such as mortgages or auto loans.

Consumer debt can occur virtually any time a lender agrees to loan something of value to a borrower under the promise to pay the borrowed sum back later with interest. However, a few types of consumer debt are far more common than others. These are credit card, medical, and student loan debts.

Credit Card Debt

Credit card debt is the most common kind of unsecured consumer debt. The population of the United States is around 330 million, and according to creditcards.com, there were 360 million credit cards in America, as of 2017. Based on this information, it’s very likely that you have a credit card in your wallet– if not more than a few. If you have a credit card or are thinking of obtaining a credit card,  it’s important to choose one that’s right for you based on your usage. Some offer better APR terms for services such as balance transfers, lower interest, rewards, cash back, etc. A few great resources to compare the best credit cards for your specific needs are Nerd Wallet and The Points Guy.

Medical Debt

Medical debt results from huge hospital or treatment expenses that the patient cannot afford to pay, either through lack of insurance or a gap of coverage. Medical debt is largely an American phenomenon, as high hospital charges can bankrupt the underinsured in need of serious treatment.

Student Loan Debt

Individuals who wish to pursue a post-secondary education, such as college or grad school, yet lack the means to pay will have to turn to the student loan market.

At the moment, student loans are usually sponsored by the federal government, with schools and other, private institutions occasionally providing loans as well. Student loan debt can become especially burdensome if you find yourself with limited capacity to pay it off. Unlike other forms of debt, it cannot be eliminated through the bankruptcy process. There is also no statute of limitations for student loans, which means that the right of debt collection on behalf of the federal government will never expire.

Good Debt vs. Bad Debt

As mentioned, contrary to what many believe, not all debt should be considered bad  when used as a tool in your personal finance plans. In general, debt can be considered “good” when it has positive value to you now or in the future. That may still sound vague, so let’s explore the idea with an example.

As mentioned before, student loan debt can be risky to take on if you don’t have the means to pay it back over time. However, that doesn’t mean it’s bad in all cases. Since a college education helps one to get a better job and earn a higher salary, a student who takes out loans but manages to earn a high enough salary to pay them off has benefited from the investment in his or her human capital. Imagine now, however, that another student also takes out a loan but ends up dropping out of college before graduation. This student loan has become bad debt, as the student is little better off without the degree than if they had not gone to college and taken the loan in the first place. The loan is now unproductive and simply serves as a drain on financial resources. The same holds true, albeit to a lesser extent, if the student does graduate but in a field with little demand and low pay.

Essentially, debt that adds value or income now or in the future can be considered “good” debt. However, deviations from or failures of plans that required that financing can quickly turn a “good” debt into a “bad” debt. This is true of credit card debt as well. Credit Cards can have a positive affect on your overall financial landscape. Though, it’s important to do your due diligence in finding the best credit card for your situation, while also having a solid budget and pay off plan that can helps to mitigate the risks of bad debt.

This is alot to take in, but there are resources to help successfully navigate your financial future. Money Ladder has a team of Certified Debt Advisors who are well versed and skilled in all areas concerning debt and further can help those that are $7,500 or more in unsecured debt.

They have over 12 years of experience in helping people to get out of debt and to find ways to use debt to their advantages. Remember, not all debt is bad — and Money Ladder can help you to define the good from the bad debt towards financial freedom.

You can call Money Ladder to speak directly to to an advisor at 1-888-585-8492 or click below.

THIS IS AN ADVERTORIAL AND NOT AN ACTUAL NEWS ARTICLE, BLOG, OR CONSUMER PROTECTION UPDATE
*Please note that all calls with the company may be recorded or monitored for quality assurance and training purposes. *Clients who make all their monthly program deposits pay approximately 70-75% of their original enrolled debts over 12 to 60 months. All claims are based on enrolled debts. Not all debts are eligible for enrollment. Not all clients complete our program for various reasons, including their ability to save sufficient funds. Estimates based on prior results, which will vary based on specific circumstances. We do not guarantee that your debts will be lowered by a specific amount or percentage or that you will be debt-free within a specific period of time. We do not assume consumer debt, make monthly payments to creditors or provide tax, bankruptcy, accounting or legal advice or credit repair services. Our service is not available in all states and our fees may vary from state to state. Please contact a tax professional to discuss tax consequences of settlement. Please consult with a bankruptcy attorney for more information on bankruptcy. Depending on your state, we may be available to recommend a local tax professional and/or bankruptcy attorney. Read and understand all program materials prior to enrollment, including potential adverse impact on credit rating. The use of debt settlement services will likely adversely affect your creditworthiness, may result in you being subject to collections or being sued by creditors or collectors and may increase the outstanding balances of your enrolled accounts due to the accrual of fees and interest. However, negotiated settlements we obtain on your behalf resolve the entire account, including all accrued fees and interest. ​Contact Information: If you have any questions or comments about our disclosures as outlined above, you can contact us at: legal@moneyladder.com

A Way Towards Frugal Living

There are undoubtedly things you want in life that cost some amount of money that you do not currently have. Whether the object of your attention is a big-ticket item consumer item like a car, a lifestyle experience such as a trip across Europe, or the achievement of a high standard of living during retirement, getting what you desire requires equal parts hard work and savings over time.

Prioritize Lifestyle Decisions

If you acknowledge that some kind of reduction in your current spending habits is required if you are to reach your goals, properly setting priorities is the first step on the path towards frugal living. This requires that you first decide what inspires you and comprises the core of your desired lifestyle before taking stock of what currently makes up your day-to-day.

Maintaining an expense tracker or even setting up a basic budget calculator for at least a week is an effective way to gain awareness of how you spend a majority of your time and money. Coupled with the vision of your desired future, you can identify if there are any aspects of your life that are frivolous and serve only to distract you from your ultimate goals. This can benefit you not only by saving the money previously spent on any non-essential goods or services, but also by freeing up that time in your day to spend more productively.

Opportunity Cost

Opportunity cost is one of the most important concepts in the field of personal finance. It describes the fact that the total cost of an expense should not be measured only by the direct cost, but also by the alternatives that could have been pursued with the same time and money no longer available. In that way, you should begin accounting for each of your expenses not only by the looking at the price tag, but also by considering the value of any alternative uses you could have spent that money on.

For example, it’s all too easy to justify a trip to Starbucks for a five dollar cup of coffee in the morning. But with modern coffee-making equipment, it can take only a few minutes to brew multiple cups of coffee and cost as little as sixteen cents per cup. Therefore, the total cost of your morning detour shouldn’t be measured only by the dollar cost of the Starbucks coffee, but also by the savings you could have realized by brewing the coffee at home in the first place.

Distinguishing Current and Long-Term Lifestyles

Finally, it is useful to remember that there is a difference between your lifestyle today and how you want to live in the future. Any significant accumulation of wealth requires hard work and diligent saving over time, which means that you can expect your frugality today to be paid back in the future in the form of increased comfort and lifestyle opportunities.

It is natural to want things now at the expense of saving for a better future, but keep in mind that there is a reason that patience is considered a virtue. If you cut back on non-essential expenses and increase your rate of savings today, you are much more likely to be able to afford the expenses associated with your longer-term aspirations.

Conclusion

Adopting a more frugal lifestyle is a great way to generate more savings for the purpose of achieving a higher standard of living in the future. If you take opportunity cost seriously and carefully trim away unnecessary expenditures, it may not be too long before you notice a significantly improved financial situation and an increasingly higher capacity to spend when actually necessary.

THIS IS AN ADVERTORIAL AND NOT AN ACTUAL NEWS ARTICLE, BLOG, OR CONSUMER PROTECTION UPDATE
*Please note that all calls with the company may be recorded or monitored for quality assurance and training purposes. *Clients who make all their monthly program deposits pay approximately 70-75% of their original enrolled debts over 12 to 60 months. All claims are based on enrolled debts. Not all debts are eligible for enrollment. Not all clients complete our program for various reasons, including their ability to save sufficient funds. Estimates based on prior results, which will vary based on specific circumstances. We do not guarantee that your debts will be lowered by a specific amount or percentage or that you will be debt-free within a specific period of time. We do not assume consumer debt, make monthly payments to creditors or provide tax, bankruptcy, accounting or legal advice or credit repair services. Our service is not available in all states and our fees may vary from state to state. Please contact a tax professional to discuss tax consequences of settlement. Please consult with a bankruptcy attorney for more information on bankruptcy. Depending on your state, we may be available to recommend a local tax professional and/or bankruptcy attorney. Read and understand all program materials prior to enrollment, including potential adverse impact on credit rating. The use of debt settlement services will likely adversely affect your creditworthiness, may result in you being subject to collections or being sued by creditors or collectors and may increase the outstanding balances of your enrolled accounts due to the accrual of fees and interest. However, negotiated settlements we obtain on your behalf resolve the entire account, including all accrued fees and interest.
​Contact Information: If you have any questions or comments about our disclosures as outlined above, you can contact us at: legal@moneyladder.com

The Differences Between Credit Cards and Debit Cards

Have you ever made a purchase without paying up front? If so, you are likely already familiar with the concept of credit.

Credit, defined in financial terms, is essentially the means you can make a purchase before providing payment. Credit systems rely upon the obligation of the customer to pay in the future. While small neighborhood stores may extend credit to frequent customers backed only by trust, formal credit obligations like credit card debt are legally binding.

Let’s look at some key terms in the credit space before exploring the differences between credit cards and debit cards. Understanding these concepts will give you a leg up in building a positive credit score and using credit and debit cards effectively.

Credit Cards vs. Debit Cards

Credit and debit cards have become so ubiquitous over the past decade that there’s a good chance you have one or both in your pocket as you’re reading this. At the most basic level, you might know that credit cards are better for making day-to-day purchases and debit cards are best for withdrawing from the ATM and not recommended to be used online, but it’s important to understand the reasons why.

The Major Differences Between Credit and Debit Cards

First of all, credit cards and debit cards draw funds from completely separate sources. Credit cards earn their name by posting charges to your personal line of credit. That is, you are using someone else’s money with a promise to pay it back. Debit cards, meanwhile, withdraw directly from your bank account.

Since debit cards enable near-instantaneous withdrawal of funds, they do not provide credit in the way that credit cards do. The money you spend through debit cards is your money currently in your bank account, therefore interest rates do not apply for debit card transactions.

In the case of credit cards, a certain interest rate will be applied to balances carried over time. No interest will be charged if you can pay off the outstanding credit balance within each billing period (usually one month), making credit cards a convenient way to shop without carrying around lots of cash.

Credit cards are also useful in financing large purchases that you would like to pay off over time rather than all at once. As with any form of debt, you should be careful to ensure that you will actually have the means to pay off the outstanding debt plus whatever interest accumulates in the intervening time.

Which Card Is Right For You?

Credit cards and debit cards each have their own distinct uses and complement each other well. Since both can be used on smaller everyday purchases, perhaps your temperament should be the best indicator for which is best for you to carry around for such a purpose.

If you are a spender and tend not to consider the price relative to your means to pay for it, using a debit card is recommended so that you cannot spend more than you have. On the other hand, those with shopping and budget discipline could benefit from using a credit card even on small items and gradually earning any rewards offered by the particular card such as: travel airfare or hotel points.

Actively using a credit card is also a great way to build up a positive credit score, although this can also work in reverse if you fail to make payments on time. Having a strong credit score and knowing what is a good credit score are both very useful when trying to finance major purchases like a home or automobile loan.

It should also be noted that you would do best to use credit cards for online purchases. While debit cards can be used online, it is not advised since the money comes directly from your bank account. As a result, it is more difficult to dispute unauthorized transactions if someone else somehow gains access to your account. Credit cards are better in this case because they come backed with guarantees against liability for fraudulent transactions, which will be very welcome if the worst happens and your card information is stolen.

THIS IS AN ADVERTORIAL AND NOT AN ACTUAL NEWS ARTICLE, BLOG, OR CONSUMER PROTECTION UPDATE
*Please note that all calls with the company may be recorded or monitored for quality assurance and training purposes. *Clients who make all their monthly program deposits pay approximately 70-75% of their original enrolled debts over 12 to 60 months. All claims are based on enrolled debts. Not all debts are eligible for enrollment. Not all clients complete our program for various reasons, including their ability to save sufficient funds. Estimates based on prior results, which will vary based on specific circumstances. We do not guarantee that your debts will be lowered by a specific amount or percentage or that you will be debt-free within a specific period of time. We do not assume consumer debt, make monthly payments to creditors or provide tax, bankruptcy, accounting or legal advice or credit repair services. Our service is not available in all states and our fees may vary from state to state. Please contact a tax professional to discuss tax consequences of settlement. Please consult with a bankruptcy attorney for more information on bankruptcy. Depending on your state, we may be available to recommend a local tax professional and/or bankruptcy attorney. Read and understand all program materials prior to enrollment, including potential adverse impact on credit rating. The use of debt settlement services will likely adversely affect your creditworthiness, may result in you being subject to collections or being sued by creditors or collectors and may increase the outstanding balances of your enrolled accounts due to the accrual of fees and interest. However, negotiated settlements we obtain on your behalf resolve the entire account, including all accrued fees and interest. ​
Contact Information: If you have any questions or comments about our disclosures as outlined above, you can contact us at: legal@moneyladder.com

What Is a Good Credit Score?

How did you feel the last time you applied for a home or car loan, a new credit card, or a lease on an apartment? It can be a pretty vulnerable position, right? You know the person you’re speaking with is going to check your credit score. All that’s left to do is to hope that score is good enough to get your application approved or get you an interest rate you can afford.

Your credit score can make or break these applications and sometimes the outcomes can be life-changing; like having a car to get to work or not. Still, many people don’t know what goes into determining a credit score or even what one is.

So here are the basics: your credit score, also known as your FICO score, is a three-digit number that tells a lender how desirable you are as a borrower. A higher score generally means that you borrow responsibly and pay your bills on time. When lenders know that, they tend to be more willing to offer you low interest rates and even more credit.

Credit scores range from 300 to 850, but what is a good credit score? If you want to know how your score stacks up, there are a number of ways you can look it up.

  1. Buy access to your credit score from FICO at myfico.om or from one of the credit reporting agencies.
  2. Check your credit card or loan statement, by logging into your account online to see if it’s listed there. Often times, many lenders offer free credit scores.
  3. Sign up for an online credit score service. (If you go this route, make sure that you’re not signing up for a monthly subscription. Either that or schedule a reminder for yourself to cancel before the trial period expires.)

After receiving your score, you can find out more by requesting your credit report to see all the details regarding your credit history. You have the legal right to get one credit report per year from each of the three major credit reporting agencies:  Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. You can get one or more of these by filling out a simple form at www.annualcreditreport.com.

Once you get your report, take a look to see where you can improve moving forward. Your credit score is basically a numerical representation of your credit report. FICO calculates it by weighing different aspects of your credit history. The typical breakdown is as follows:

  • Payment history, 35% percent
  • Amount of credit limit utilized (Debt Ratio)sed, 30% percent
  • Borrowing history, overall and by account, 15% percent
  • The mix of credit types used, 10% percent
  • Amount of new credit, 10% percent

After taking a look, where could you make improvements? Did you miss a payment or two? A quick fix could be to set up automatic payments on your accounts, so that you don’t miss any more. Are you using too much of your credit? You can adjust your budget so you can pay it off quicker. There are some great budgeting tips here as well as a free budget spreadsheet available for download.

An option could be to contact a credit repair company and allow them to guide you through solutions in how to raise your overall score. However, as mentioned above, a large majority of your score is comprised of your debt utilization or debt ratio. So often times there isn’t a quick fix, but with that said, there are ways to fix your overall score in the long run.

In cases such as these where consumers have $7,500 or more in debt, with over 30% credit utilization, debt consolidation companies have the most experience to help consumers out of debt and raise credit scores. While this is the a long term solution, rather than a quick fix, it is often the best route when facing high amounts of debt ratios. This is because the only way to raise your score is to ultimately pay down the large amounts of debt owed to the lender.

Of course paying down debt is isn’t as easy as it sounds. The reason for this is high interest rates/ or high APRs and paying the minimum will keep your overall credit utilization at the same high utilization amount for years to come, ultimately affecting your credit score long term as well.

Credit consolidation companies have helped thousands in similar situations to pay down debt in as little as 12 months, with one fixed monthly payment so that you can eliminate the high interest and finally pay off the debt. Though this may seem too good to be true, these are programs that have been around for years to help consumers out of the vicious cycle of debt.

In the long run, your credit score will rise and buying that car or home with the affordable interest rate won’t seem so impossible any longer. To see if you qualify, fill out the simple form here.

THIS IS AN ADVERTORIAL AND NOT AN ACTUAL NEWS ARTICLE, BLOG, OR CONSUMER PROTECTION UPDATE
*Please note that all calls with the company may be recorded or monitored for quality assurance and training purposes. *Clients who make all their monthly program deposits pay approximately 70-75% of their original enrolled debts over 12 to 60 months. All claims are based on enrolled debts. Not all debts are eligible for enrollment. Not all clients complete our program for various reasons, including their ability to save sufficient funds. Estimates based on prior results, which will vary based on specific circumstances. We do not guarantee that your debts will be lowered by a specific amount or percentage or that you will be debt-free within a specific period of time. We do not assume consumer debt, make monthly payments to creditors or provide tax, bankruptcy, accounting or legal advice or credit repair services. Our service is not available in all states and our fees may vary from state to state. Please contact a tax professional to discuss tax consequences of settlement. Please consult with a bankruptcy attorney for more information on bankruptcy. Depending on your state, we may be available to recommend a local tax professional and/or bankruptcy attorney. Read and understand all program materials prior to enrollment, including potential adverse impact on credit rating. The use of debt settlement services will likely adversely affect your creditworthiness, may result in you being subject to collections or being sued by creditors or collectors and may increase the outstanding balances of your enrolled accounts due to the accrual of fees and interest. However, negotiated settlements we obtain on your behalf resolve the entire account, including all accrued fees and interest. ​
Contact Information: If you have any questions or comments about our disclosures as outlined above, you can contact us at: legal@moneyladder.com