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Mortgage Refinancing
Consider refinancing your mortgage if you can get a rate that is at least one percentage point lower than your existing mortgage rate and plan to keep the new mortgage for several years or more. Refinancing a home is much easier today than in the past: often, refinancing your home is just a few clicks away. Reputable companies such as Low-Cost Lending, E-Loan, and GoApply.com all can initiate refinancing from their website in minutes.

Home Equity Loans
Be cautious in taking out home equity loans. The loans reduce or may even eliminate the equity that you have built up in your home. Equity is the cash you would have if you sold your house and paid off your mortgage loans. If you are unable to make payments, you could lose your home. Recession Relief Guide is familiar with a variety of reputable lenders for both debt consolidation, home equity loans and home equity lines of credit. For your reference:

  • Home equity loans: Ameriquest Mortgage, Low-Cost Lending, and E-Loans
  • Home equity lines of credit (HELOCs): Quicken Loans and E-Loans

Compare home equity loans offered by at least four reputable lending institutions. Consider the interest rate on the loan and the annual percentage rate (APR), which includes other costs, such as origination fees, discount points, mortgage insurance and other fees. Ask if the rate changes, and if so, how it is calculated and how frequently, as this will affect the amount of your monthly payments.

Credit Cards
You can save as much as a thousand dollars or more each year in lower credit card interest charges by paying off your entire bill each month or by using a check, cash or debit card for purchases. If you are unable to pay off a large balance, pay as much as you can and switch to a credit card with a low annual percentage rate (APR). They can make a difference in how much you pay for the privilege of borrowing. We're fans of the following cards:

  • American Express: AMEX is the card that Recession Relief Guide uses. In our opinion, it's the gold standard of credit-card companies. Better yet, they can approve you in 60 seconds on the Web for personal cards (Blue Cash-Back, Hilton Honors Platinum, and the Amex Rewards Green) and business cards (Business Gold, Platinum Business, and Blue for Business Card)..
  • Discover®: Several cards to choose from (Platinum, Titanium, and Student) and even some cards with dogs, wildlife and sports teams, if you're into that sort of thing.
  • WorldPerks® Visa®: A good partnership program that earns you airline points and other rewards every time you use the card.

You can reduce credit card fees, which may add up to well over $100 a year, by getting rid of all but one or two cards, and by avoiding annual, late payment, and over-the-credit limit fees.

First Mortgage Loans
Although your monthly payment may be higher, you can save tens of thousands of dollars in interest charges by shopping for the shortest-term mortgage you can afford. On a $100,000 fixed-rate loan at 7% annual percentage rate (APR), for example, you will pay over $75,000 less in interest on a 15-year mortgage than on a 30-year mortgage. We recommend E-Loan for mortgage loans: their online application is quick, and they call you almost immediately to get the process going.

You can save thousands of dollars in interest charges by shopping for the lowest-rate mortgage with the fewest points. On a 15-year $100,000 fixed-rate mortgage, just lowering the APR from 7% to 6.5% can save you more than $5,000 in interest charges, and paying two points instead of three would save you an additional $1,000.

If your local newspaper does not periodically run mortgage rate surveys, call at least six lenders for information about their rates (APRs), points, and fees. You may also check www.bankrate.com for mortgage information in your area. Then ask an accountant to compute precisely how much each mortgage option will cost and its tax implications.

Be aware that the interest rate on most adjustable rate mortgage loans (ARMs) can vary a great deal over the lifetime of the mortgage. An increase of several percentage points might raise payments by hundreds of dollars per month.

Auto Loans: If you have significant savings earning a low interest rate, consider making a large down payment or even paying for the car in cash. This could save you as much as several thousand dollars in finance charges. Most automobile financing agreements allow you to refinance your car through a number of lenders, including Household Auto, E-Loan, Driver Loans and Capital One Auto Finance.

Savings and Investment Products
Before opening a savings or investment account with a bank or other financial institution, find out whether the account is insured by the federal government (FDIC or NCUA). An increasing number of products offered by these institutions, including mutual stock funds and annuities, are not insured.

To earn the highest return on savings (annual percentage yield) with little or no risk, consider certificates of deposit (CDs) or U.S. Savings Bonds (Series I or EE).

Once you select a type of savings or investment product, compare rates and fees offered by different institutions. These rates can vary a lot and, over time, can significantly affect interest earnings.

Checking
You can save more than $100 a year in fees by selecting a checking account with a low (or no) minimum balance requirement that you can, and do, meet. Request a list of these and other fees (including ATM and debit card fees) that are charged on these accounts.

Banking institutions often will drop or lower checking fees if paychecks are directly deposited by your employer. Direct deposit offers the additional advantages of convenience, security, and immediate access to your money.

 

 

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