Research will help you with mortgages

If there’s one thing we’ve learned from the financial crisis, you have to do your own research. You can’t rely on anyone else these days. It’s a shame, but that the fact. Ratings agencies, mortgage brokers and bankers have all shown that they only care about themselves.

Fortunately, we have the new Financial Consumer Protection Bureau, but it will take a while before all their regulations kick in. So get informed by going online. Learn about the interest rates and other factors that will help you with mortgages, refinancings, foreclosure and other issues. Compare Natwest Mortgages quotes online on Know Your Money. You are such a better position if you’ve done your own research ahead of time. People in this industry throw around jargon and numbers to confuse you, so make sure you also take your time.

You don’t have to make decisions on the spot! Keep that in mind. It’s always acceptable to say that you want to go back and do more research. If anyone pressures you, it’s probably because it’s not a great deal. If is sounds too good to be true, it probably is!

Lastly, figure out your real budget before you start shopping. Many people don’t do this and then they get into trouble.


Bank of American blinks on fees

Bank of America has reversed course after suffering from a torrent of criticism and bad publicity surrounding it’s $5 debit card fees.

Bank of America has abandoned plans to begin charging debit card holders five dollars a month to use their cards, a proposal which drew intense consumer and political backlash since announced in late September.

“We have listened to our customers very closely over the last few weeks and recognize their concern with our proposed debit usage fee,” said Bank of America co-COO David Darnell said in a written statement. “Our customers’ voices are most important to us. As a result, we are not currently charging the fee and will not be moving forward with any additional plans to do so.”

The company’s move may bring the closing chapter to a public relations campaign from major U.S. banks that has lasted more than a year, during which financial titans insisted that last year’s Wall Street reform bill had made debit cards unprofitable for banks, forcing them to charge new monthly fees.

This was a PR nightmare for them. What took them so long?


6 Ways to Secure Your Life Financially Online

Doing personal business online is incredibly convenient – there’s nothing better than paying bills, shopping, or banking without ever leaving home. However, there are numerous risks that come with the benefits, so always make sure your online personal affairs are safe. Here are seven ways to secure your life financially online.
Use Secure Payment Sites Such as PayPal
One of the top ways people become victims of identity theft is via online business or shopping transactions. If the website you’re on isn’t properly secured, your personal and financial information could be at risk. One way to avoid having to go through identity theft restoration is to use secure payment sites like PayPal. You can transfer money to your PayPal account and use that to pay for goods instead of giving out your banking information. It’s also a safe, secure way to receive money. Keep your bank account to yourself whenever you can.
Use a Separate Checking Account for Online Purchases
PayPal isn’t always an option for online payments, so consider opening a checking account with your existing bank. Use it to send and receive online payments. The idea is to keep the bulk of your money secure from unknown scammers and thieves. Keep a minimum amount of cash in that separate account. You can always transfer money to and from the account if you need to, but don’t use your primary account for online activity.
Shop For Insurance That Provides Identity Theft Coverage
While you’re online shopping, look for insurance policies that offer identity theft restoration funds. Digital information can often get stolen while you’re in a foreign country – wouldn’t it be nice if your insurance covered that?
Change Passwords Often
You need complex passwords online that include letters and numbers, although that’s not enough to avoid identity theft. Change your password options and don’t use the same password for all of your accounts. Even if you have to write them down somewhere, make them cryptic and change them often. It’s one of the best ways to secure yourself financially online.
Don’t Respond to ‘Scary’ Emails
If your bank or PayPal sends you an email alerting you that your information has been stolen, close the email, delete it, and go directly to that website for verification. You’ll likely find that everything is just fine and that the email was a scam designed to steal your details. Avoid unsolicited emails that promise to make you rich or sell you something you didn’t ask for. Once again, they’ll start asking for information you should never share with this kind of “door to door” salesman.
Set Up a Separate Email Account for Shopping
If you want keep your private life private, set up an email account just for shopping. It’s a good way to keep identity theft scammers just a little further away from your precious financial information.
Just a little online financial savvy can save you a lot of money and frustration. How will you protect yourself online?


American are shedding their mortgage debt

USA Today has a story on an interesting trend:

Americans are reducing mortgage payments at a record clip, directing cash that once went for debt into consumer spending and savings.

Low interest rates, defaults and refinancings have shaved more than $100 billion off the nation’s annual mortgage bill — an amount comparable to all unemployment benefits for one year or this year’s Social Security payroll tax cut.

“This is a form of economic stimulus that goes to Main Street rather than Wall Street,” says Nicholas Carroll, a journalist on consumer finance and author of Walk Away From Debt for a Better Future. When freed from a mortgage payment, people’s first purchases tend to be necessities, such as socks and underwear, he says.

Homeowners have trimmed interest payments alone by 11% — or $67 billion a year — from the peak in 2008, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA). The savings come equally from grabbing lower interest rates and reducing what’s owed by paying down principal or defaulting on loans.

This is another positive byproduct of the real estate bust. Home prices keep coming down, and more and more Americans are underwater on their mortgages. So many of them are walking away. Homeowners with jobs and good credit are taking advantage of low mortgage rates to refinance and lower their payments.

This results in more disposable income, so Americans can spend more on typical consumer products.


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