Blog   Tagged ‘debt’

Sometimes it’s good to be cheap: money-saving tips from a “cheap” family

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Be Cheap!

Steve and Annette Economides are known as America’s cheapest family, and they didn’t get that label by stiffing waiters or bringing cheap bottles of wine to house parties. The Economides (yes, that’s their real last name, but it’s pronounced econo-mee dis)have developed a method to save money as a family, and they shared a few tips with CBS Arizona affiliate KPHO to help every family around the country cut back on spending.

Teach kids the value of money at a young age
The Economides wrote a book called “the MoneySmart family system,” and one of the main points is about teaching children the right way to go about learning and saving money. The couple believes that if parents show their children smart money-saving habits at a young age, it can help set the right mood for the entire family.

“We would normally spend money on them,” Steve said of his children. “I mean how many parents would normally give their kids $20 to go to the mall? So what we said was, okay, we’re going to give them money anyway, let’s have them earn it.”

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Setting up a point system is one way the Economides got their kids excited about earning and saving money. Their children would earn a set amount of points for completing a chore around the house. At the end of the week, they could turn those points in for money.

The family found a reward-based system helps children learn to budget at an early age. Steve also said their goal is by the time their children turn 11, they should be able to afford to buy their own clothes. By the time they turn 16 and are ready to drive, they should be able to pay for their own car and insurance.

“Remember we’re slowly transferring the weight of adult responsibilities to the kids so that by the time they’re 18, they’re ready to go to college and they know how to manage larger amounts of money,” Steve said.

The Economides understand that not every 16-year-old will be able to afford their own car. Annette said that even if they can’t purchase vehicles when they get their licenses, it’s wise to have them pay their own car insurance for accountability reasons.

“It’s real important that kids pay for their car insurance because then if they decide to speed and they get a ticket, their car insurance goes up and they bear the consequences for those decisions,” she said.

Paying off debt
The interesting take on savings doesn’t end there for this family. When managing debt, they told ABC affiliate KNXV to write down every person or establishment they owe money to, no matter the amount. They disagree with the many financial experts say to pay off high-interest debt first.

“Don’t worry about interest rates because you have more success if you simply knock off the smallest balance,” Annette said.

Steve suggests getting a second job, working overtime or looking around the house for unused items that you might be able to sell in order to help pay off debt. He said the family recently sold a 3-year-old textbook for $30.

Saving on daily costs
The average family of four spends $800 per month on food, or roughly $9,600 per year, according to WTVM.

Annette told KPHO that one simple way to trim a family’s food bill is to take inventory of what is already stocked in the refrigerator and kitchen cabinets before heading to the grocery store. She said most people have more in their house than they realize, so searching through their pantries reveals a lot of forgotten items.

Remember, adopting even one of these money-saving tips could make a big impact on you budget. Try adding one at a time, and be sure to track the difference it makes each month.

 

When you click links marked with the “‡” symbol, you will leave UMB’s website and go to websites that are not controlled by or affiliated with UMB. We have provided these links for your convenience. However, we do not endorse or guarantee any products or services you may view on other sites. Other websites may not follow the same privacy policies and security procedures that UMB does, so please review their policies and procedures carefully.


Ms. Seeger is a VP/Financial Center Manager for UMB Arizona. She is responsible for leading the sales and client experience teams in the financial center as well as business development. She has 14 years of experience in the financial services industry. She is a member of the Young Professionals Scottsdale Cultural Council Committee and is takes an active leadership role in the Scottsdale community.

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Debunking credit score myths

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In an earlier blog post, we explained why credit scores are important and how to improve yours. For many people, it can seem as if their score was pulled blindly from a hat. So let’s take a look and debunk a few myths.

Credit Score Myths

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Ms. Stokes is a senior vice president and director of Private Banking at UMB. She is responsible for driving sales and relationship management activities. She works closely with the Wealth Management leadership team and regional presidents to grow business and helps to develop roles in wealth management, relationship management and presentation skills. She joined UMB in 2009 and has more than 30 years of experience in the financial services industry. She earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Missouri- Kansas City and a Bachelor of Arts from the graduate school of retail banking.

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Credit Score: understanding the number

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Cholesterol, blood pressure, glucose, credit score…all numbers that mean nothing unless someone explains what is good and what is scary. Just like a doctor breaks down why your cholesterol level should be below 200, we’re here to explain what an ideal credit score could be. And you don’t even have to cut cheese out of your diet.

Your credit score (the most popular being the FICO® Score named after the organization that created it — the Fair Isaac Corporation) can range from 300 to 850 because it’s an adjusted scale. (You get 300 points just for having a credit history…so most adults have a higher score than 300 just by being “on the grid.”) In case you’re afraid to get the pronunciation wrong, FICO is pronounced “f-eye-ko,” like “psycho.”

Why does it matter? If you’re ever going to purchase a house or car or apply for a job, lenders and potential employers will be checking your score to assess your reliability and financial history.

While there are some schools of thought that advise consumers not to obsess over credit scores, the most popular being financial author and radio host Dave Ramsey, the FICO Score is a factor in 90 percent of lending decisions in the United States. And many in those anti-credit score camps still encourage you to be aware of your credit reports to check for errors and work on problem areas.

Most important step: check your score and your reports! Even if you’re worried because of past mistakes with late payments or credit card debt, it’s better to know where you stand and start taking action. No ostrich-like behavior!

head in sand_156983825

Good news—unless you’re within the 7 percent of the nation with a score between 350 and 549 (and if you are, stop reading this post and call a credit counselor), there is no need to stress. At a score of 550 or more, you can sometimes qualify for a loan. Your motivation for raising it as high as possible will be to get the best interest rates.

Most creditors consider a score above 700 to be acceptable to give a consumer the best rates. If your score is below 700, here are some tips that can help you bring it up. You may be surprised how quickly you can make a change (1-3 years instead of the 7-10 years it takes to start fresh after declaring bankruptcy).

How to raise your score:

1)    Understand how the score is decided

Credit Score Formula

In order of greatest to least weight:

  • Payment history – Did you pay all your bills on time? This includes student loans, car payments, credit card bill, etc.
  • Amount owed – for example, you still owe $10,000 before you can pay off your car, $15,000 in student loans and $500 on one of your credit cards.
  • Credit history length – something positive about getting older! The longer you have a credit history, the higher your score rises.
  • New credit – did you recently open a slew of store credit cards in order to get a discount on a shopping spree? You may be paying for it in the form of a lower credit score.
  • Type of credit used – Credit bureaus look at mortgages vs. auto loans vs. student loans vs. credit cards. Some are better for your score than others.

2)    Stay on top of your bills
The best way to improve on your credit score is to pay your bills on time. Have a steady income and live within your means so your bills don’t pile up until you’re completely buried in credit card and loan debt.

3)    Ask about your custom credit score
Lenders might also look at your custom credit score in addition to your traditional credit score. A lender will use your custom credit score to get a closer look at the risk factors that are related to what you are trying to fund with the line of credit.

4)    Discuss internal credit scoring
Not every creditor is required to report your credit. Some major lenders use their own internal credit scoring systems to help them make a decision. Lenders use these internal scores to predict future behavior of their customers. When you answer questions on the loan application form, the responses will go in to creating a custom score for you.

5)    One size doesn’t fit all
What makes you appealing to one lender will not make you appealing to all. If your credit has been damaged, be sure that any new information is reported to credit agencies.

6)    Pay the minimum
If you can’t pay the entire balance of a credit payment, at least pay the minimum due. Paying the minimum will keep your credit score from dropping even lower than it would if you don’t pay the bill at all.

7)    Keep checking
You have rights as a consumer under the Fair Credit Reporting Act. Check your report (not score) once a year for free at AnnualCreditReport.com‡.

This video from the Federal Trade Commission’s website does a great job at explaining why you need to check your report and how to do it.

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When you click links marked with the “‡” symbol, you will leave UMB’s website and go to websites that are not controlled by or affiliated with UMB. We have provided these links for your convenience. However, we do not endorse or guarantee any products or services you may view on other sites. Other websites may not follow the same privacy policies and security procedures that UMB does, so please review their policies and procedures carefully.


Ms. Stokes is a senior vice president and director of Private Banking at UMB. She is responsible for driving sales and relationship management activities. She works closely with the Wealth Management leadership team and regional presidents to grow business and helps to develop roles in wealth management, relationship management and presentation skills. She joined UMB in 2009 and has more than 30 years of experience in the financial services industry. She earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Missouri- Kansas City and a Bachelor of Arts from the graduate school of retail banking.

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Financial Word of the Week: Revolving Credit vs. Installment Loans

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FWOTW

Ever been in a meeting with your banker or a cocktail party conversation where a financial term stumps you? Are you considering buying a house or want to plan for the future, but have no idea where to start? Well, look no further. We’d like to be a resource for you and to make all that financial jargon easier to understand. And by the time you’ve read a few of these, the added bonus will be impressing your friends with your new financial wit!

So now, we bring you the perfect (and easy) way to increase your financial knowledge.

What is the difference between revolving credit and installment loans?

Many forms of debt fall into one of two categories: revolving credit and installment loans. When you borrow money from a bank, you can choose to borrow a certain amount and pay it back in a set number of months (in installments) with an installment loan. Or you can choose revolving credit where you do not have a set end date. Instead, these accounts have a credit limit, which is the most you can borrow. At any time, you can use your credit line up to that maximum amount. As you make your monthly payments, your line becomes available again, if you need to use it. By contrast, an installment loan pays out only once at the beginning of the loan, such as a one-time purchase, and cannot be used again as you pay it down.

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So what does this mean for me?

You have choices when you need to borrow money. Some customers enjoy the flexibility of revolving credit options, like a home equity line of credit (HELOC) or credit card. Others prefer the fixed terms and certainty associated with an installment loan. As we will discuss over the next few weeks, different lending options have different criteria, different benefits and different costs.  The most important thing to remember is that a loan or line of credit should fit your budget. Different accounts have different payment options, allowing you to choose a payment plan that works for you.

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UMB Financial Corporation (Nasdaq: UMBF) is a financial services holding company headquartered in Kansas City, Mo., offering complete banking, payment solutions, asset servicing and institutional investment management to customers. UMB operates banking and wealth management centers throughout Missouri, Illinois, Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, Nebraska and Arizona. It also has a loan production office in Texas. Subsidiaries of the holding company include mutual fund and alternative investment services groups, single-purpose companies that deal with brokerage services and insurance, and a registered investment advisor that manages the company's proprietary mutual funds and investment advisory accounts for institutional customers.

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Watching the Forecast: Ag interest rates may soon rise

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If you are an agribusiness leader, you have many variables to consider in today’s market. Weather patterns spanning across the too wet/too dry continuum continue to baffle producers. Grain and commodity prices have started to gain strength, and both are up from recent levels but are still below the highs of the past several years. And land prices continue to hold (for now) at historically high levels in many areas of the country.

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These factors are all important, but there is one other variable that may be the most important when planning for your financial future: interest rates. With historically low rates currently being offered for operating lines of credit, as well as some floating rate term debt financing that has been put in place during the last four to five years, it’s important to remember that interest rates can change as fast and dramatically as corn prices.

As the American economy improves and the Federal Reserve Bank looks at beginning to ease its securities purchasing, the stage is set for a return to “normal” interest scenarios during the next couple of years. As that happens, producers with large floating rate exposure can expect to see their interest expense double or even triple during that same time frame. The range between fixedand floating rates will also expand, returning to levels similar to those before the financial crisis. When that happens, borrowers with only floating rates will be at the mercy of the financial markets in terms of controlling their interest expense.

Reviewing your balance sheets and future cash flows now – with an eye toward the next several years – can both produce large potential interest expense savings and protect against possible loan repayment challenges. As you look ahead, here are four steps to better financial planning:

  1. Review your current debt and forecast projected debt levels for the next four years. Include your amounts, repayments required, current rates, and most importantly, whether your rates are fixed or floating.
  2. Optimize how you use your fixed assets (land or equipment) for securing the minimum level of total debt anticipated each year. This should be done regardless of whether it is presently for revolving/working capital lines or fixed assets.
  3. Determine your available cash flow for debt service during the next four years.
  4. Structure new fixed-rate debt now by using a conservative debt service coverage ratio (1.3 to 1 or greater).

By fixing rates now, with proper use of fixed assets as collateral, and carefully forecasting future operational cash flows, you can effectively lock in today’s historically low rates, save tens of thousands of dollars or more in interest expense, and be far better prepared to manage other variables that may come into play.

 

When you click links marked with the “‡” symbol, you will leave UMB’s website and go to websites that are not controlled by or affiliated with UMB. We have provided these links for your convenience. However, we do not endorse or guarantee any products or services you may view on other sites. Other websites may not follow the same privacy policies and security procedures that UMB does, so please review their policies and procedures carefully.


Mr. Watson serves as president of the UMB Agribusiness Division. He joined UMB in August of 2005 and has also served as the president of the UMB Kansas region. Watson is a graduate of Wabash College in Crawfordsville, Indiana with a major in Psychology. He has also attended The Colorado School of Banking, The National Commercial Lending School (where he has also been an instructor), and the Stonier Graduate School of Banking.

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Simplifying your credit

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When was the last time you downloaded your credit score? If you can’t remember or you have never checked it, you should consider taking a look at it soon. But you’re not alone. Two thirds of the population have not downloaded their credit report in the past year, despite the fact that the average American owes $118,000 in debt. This includes mortgage, student loans, credit card debt, etc.

Pie Chart Downloaded Credit Report in Last 12 Months

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Why do you need to know your credit score? High debt combined with little to no information about your credit score could put you in a risky financial situation. If you have so much debt that you can’t keep up with it and your regular monthly bills, you might end up paying a bill late or forget to pay it at all. This will lead to a lower credit score. Then when you go to apply for a home or car loan, you could be either denied or receive a higher than normal interest rate based on your lowered score.

Unfortunately, this has become a very common scenario. Many people are living month-to-month and often carry over their credit card debt each month just like their regular bills. One third of working adults don’t pay bills on time in part due to the number of accounts they have. Many have trouble keeping up with monthly expenses, requiring them to dip into savings to cover regular expenses.

Pie Chart Pay Bills on Time

Did you know that there are ways to reduce your loan interest rates and monthly payments? You can also reduce the number of payments you owe and even earn money with rewards points from certain credit cards.

To simplify your credit, consider the following options:

  • Use the bill pay option with your bank

    This saves time and you can go to one place to manage all of your bills and schedule them to pay once per month.

  • Consolidate your debt

    Consolidating your debt allows you to have one payment for all your debt and you can usually obtain a lower interest rate. This can allow you to pay your debt in less time for less money.

  • Reduce the number of credit cards you use

    This is another way to help you keep track of your spending and bills. Consider using a credit card that allows you to earn rewards. When you use the card you can earn points toward purchases, helping you save money.

  • Take advantage of low interest rates

    If you refinance your current mortgage to the low rates available now, you can save on your monthly payment. This is also true of auto loan rates.

If you feel overwhelmed by debt and monthly bills, take advantage of these ways to simplify your credit to help you work on becoming debt-free. Even if you don’t have much personal debt, it’s still a good idea to consider these tips to organize your finances, save money, and monitor your credit.

 

When you click links marked with the “‡” symbol, you will leave UMB’s website and go to websites that are not controlled by or affiliated with UMB. We have provided these links for your convenience. However, we do not endorse or guarantee any products or services you may view on other sites. Other websites may not follow the same privacy policies and security procedures that UMB does, so please review their policies and procedures carefully.


Mr. Burditt serves as senior vice president of customer experience in UMB’s Consumer Division. He is responsible for developmental and strategic direction of the UMB consumer customer experience. He joined UMB in 2011. Mr. Burditt earned a Bachelor of Science degree in agricultural journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia. He also is a graduate of the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce’s Centurions program.

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Paying off student loans doesn’t have to be a life sentence

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Picture yourself graduating from college. You may have landed a great job and moved into your own apartment. Or maybe you’re getting some work experience with an unpaid internship and you’ve moved back in with your parents for a few years. You may also have close to $30,000 in student loan debt that you feel like you’ll be paying off for the rest of your life.

You’re not alone. Before you go off to college, you might want to consider alternatives to student loans. Many people realize too late that they can’t afford the debt from their college expenses. Tuition, room and board, books and other costs over four or more years add up quickly. Not to mention if you choose to pursue an advanced degree.

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Student loan delinquencies in the U.S. are rising quickly. Student loan debt is also on the rise. The average student loan debt was $17,233 in 2005. In 2012, it had climbed to $27,253, an increase of more than 58 percent in just seven years.

Student Loan Delinquencies
Information from research done by FICO Labs

This debt increase combined with a slowly recovering economy has created an unstable situation; one that’s leading many to default on their student loan payments.

You might think defaulting on a loan isn’t a big deal. But, when you default on a loan, your credit rating drops and it’s more difficult to get approval for new credit. It’s a vicious cycle and it’s only getting worse. As more people default on their student loans, more of the population has lower credit scores, less access to credit and less opportunity to help grow the economy.

But this doesn’t mean you should skip college and go straight to working full-time. Student loans aren’t the only option to help pay for education. You do need to be prepared though. Don’t wait until you’re a senior in high school to start thinking about the following options:

  • Research scholarships and grants. As opposed to loans, students don’t have to pay back these types of financial aid.
  • Once you’re accepted to a school, research the least expensive options for non-tuition expenses (used books, on-campus housing, meal plans, etc.).
  • Get involved in the process so you can learn valuable financial lessons for the future. If you’re involved in the process from the start, you will have a better understanding of how to manage your money after college.

 

When you click links marked with the “‡” symbol, you will leave UMB’s website and go to websites that are not controlled by or affiliated with UMB. We have provided these links for your convenience. However, we do not endorse or guarantee any products or services you may view on other sites. Other websites may not follow the same privacy policies and security procedures that UMB does, so please review their policies and procedures carefully.


Mr. Stone serves as vice president, financial center manager and is responsible for leading the execution of sales and client experience within the financial center. He joined UMB in 2005. Stone earned a Bachelor of Science in Management from Baker University in Baldwin, Kan.

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