The Best Places to Get a Personal Loan

Personal loans come in two varieties: secured and unsecured. Secured loans use property, or collateral, to serve as insurance to get the loan. Unsecured loans rely solely on your credit score and history, but if you have a low credit score you will pay a higher interest rate, and most banks will not even consider your application if it's not in the 700 range.

Luckily, if you're short on collateral and have had some credit setbacks, there are a few sources that might be able to help you, and they might be right in your neighborhood.

Credit Unions
Credit unions are overlooked by consumers, which is unfortunate because they offer great rates on loans and other financial products. And since credit unions only serve those who are members, they typically offer good customer service.

Small Local Banks
A local bank with strong ties to the community are a good place to get a loan, and naturally it helps if you have had an account there for a period of time and know the employees. You'll still have to abide by all regular bank rules and regulations, as well as be financially fit to obtain a loan, but you might find it easier because of your past association and history with it.

Peer-to-Peer Lending
This type of lending is gaining in popularity because it is easy and accessible to almost everyone. is one of the largest players in this market. Simply visit the website and sign up, and as a long as you have a credit score of about 640 you can submit a request for a loan in an auction format and watch as people bid on loaning you the amount of money you need at a low rate.

Family or Friends
Loans and family or close personal relationships do not go well together, but if you do make such an arrangement here are some things to keep in mind. Both parties need to create and sign a document that spells out the terms of the loan, and then you should adhere strictly to those terms and pay off the loan as soon as possible.

If you lend money to a family member or friend you should consider it a gift and be prepared to let it go---even if you have a written agreement by which you are to be repaid. That way, if they default and fail to pay you back you won't be disappointed and it won't affect your relationship. If they do pay you back, consider it a bonus. Also, never loan money to others that you have already earmarked for other uses. For example, never loan money that you have set aside to pay bills or other obligations.
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The Best Way to Pay Off a Car Loan

Auto loans are a necessary part of life for most people, but when interest charges add up over the life of a loan, the total cost can be expensive. For example, $15,000 borrowed for four years at 8 percent interest results in a total interest cost of $2,577.12.

The best way to pay off a car loan depends on your circumstances, but use a few simple tips to pay off your loan early and save some of that interest.

Pay Twice Each Month
Split your payment in half and make two payments to your car loan every month, but be sure to make both payments before the monthly due date. Splitting payments is beneficial if you have a simple interest loan, but not if you have a precomputed loan, so check your paperwork.

Simple interest loans include only the principle amount of the loan. Interest is calculated from payment date to payment date, and is subtracted from each payment, leaving the rest of your payment to be applied to principle. If your loan payment of $300 is due on the 30th of the month, pay $150 on the 15th. That amount will pay the interest accrued from the 1st to the 15th, and will decrease your loan principle by the remainder. This is important because interest due from the 15th to the 30th will be calculated based on a lower principle amount.

Precomputed loans include the loan's principle plus all interest due over the life of the loan. Paying the full payment amount each month, whether in one payment or two, will not decrease the loan balance any faster.

Increase Your Payment
Add an additional amount to your payment every month. Whether you have a simple interest or precomputed car loan, increasing your payment will help you pay your loan off faster, saving you interest.

With simple interest loans, the lender first takes the amount of interest due from your payment, then applies the rest to principle. If your payment is $300 and you owe $50 interest this month, the lender will reduce your principle by $250. If you pay $325, the lender reduces your principle by $275, paying off your loan faster.

If you have a precomputed loan and make higher payments every month, you will pay your loan off early. The lender will owe you a refund on the amount of interest they have collected but have not earned. The state of Indiana recommends that you contact your lender to ensure they return the unearned interest to you.

Make Extra Payments
Make an extra payment once or twice each year. Under simple interest car loans, you'll reduce the principle faster, reducing the amount of interest you pay. Under precomputed loans, you'll pay off your loan early and be entitled to a refund of unearned interest from your lender.

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How to Find the Best Payday Loan

A payday loan is also often called a cash advance loan. This is a short-term loan usually of a small amount intended to temporarily cover emergencies. Often people will take a payday loan to pay a bill to avoid late fees and bad reports onto their credit history. When taking a payday loan, just like any other loan, you want to find the best option available.

1. Contact several lenders for interest rate quotes. The interest rate may vary considerably from one lender to the next. Be sure to compare rate quotes to ensure you are getting the best rate available to you for your payday loan.

2. Remember there is more cost involved than just interest. Usually loans will carry fees from the lender in addition to the interest being charged. Be sure to ask the lender for a list of all fees that you will be expected to pay and factor these in when making loan comparisons.

3. Find out about re-payment terms. Ask the lender how long you have to pay the payday loan back. There should never be a penalty fee charged for paying a payday loan off in advance. Ask the lender about pre-payment penalties. If there are any, go someplace else for your loan.

4. Compare customer service. Although interest rates and fees might be the most important to you, you do not want to do business with a company that does not have good customer service.

5. Run a check with the Better Business Bureau before signing on the line for a payday loan. Contact the BBB in the city and state that the business is located in to find out if there have been any customer complaints about the company and if so if there were resolved appropriately.

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How to Get a 30,000 Dollar Loan With No Collateral But Good Credit

Trying to get a $30,000 unsecured loan can prove difficult even if you have good credit. Lenders prefer to write secured loans for amounts in excess of $10,000 because in most states banks have very little recourse to pursue borrowers who default on unsecured debt. To mitigate the risk, banks charge very high interest rates on unsecured loans and that makes it harder to qualify unless you have very high income. To improve your chances of getting a $30,000 loan, you should consider finding a co-signer with good credit and low debt levels unless you have very little debt yourself.

1. Print out your last two years of tax returns, and locate your most recent pay slips and two years of W2s. You should also print out all of your bank statements and details of your brokerage holdings and work retirement accounts. Providing the bank with a clear picture of your financial situation increases the likelihood of getting the loan approved -- assuming that you have assets and sufficient income to pay the debt.

2. Speak to friends or family members and find out if anyone wants to act as a co-signer on your loan. Do not accept any offers of help from people with bad credit or low income as they can only hurt your application. Loans show up on the credit reports of the primary borrower and the co-signer, so make sure that prospective co-signers understand the commitment involved in signing on the loan.

3. Contact banks and credit unions in your area. Every credit union has its own membership rules, and you can only qualify for a loan if you meet the eligibility requirements. Credit unions are not-for-profit and usually offer better rates than banks, so do not overlook the credit unions. Explain that you need a $30,000 unsecured loan, as some institutions may not write unsecured loans for that amount.

4. Submit a loan application at two or three institutions that offer $30,000 unsecured loans. Provide the loan officer with your income information and financial statements. If you found a co-signer, then the co-signer must provide the loan officer with the same information.

5. Review the terms offered by the institutions and decide which loan best suits your needs. Consider both the payment amount and the interest rate. Closing costs on unsecured loans are normally minimal, so they should not have a major impact on your decision. Notify the lenders of your decision and close on the loan.

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How to Become a Good Loan Officer

A good loan officer puts the needs of his clients first and also looks for ways to increase the lending institution’s profitability. There is a fine line between quality customer care and self-interest, so the loan officer must carefully choose which products to recommend or cross-sell based on each individual client. Meeting the customer’s needs is usually rewarded by repeat business, new referrals and recognition from within the company. A loan officer may advance his lending career by consistently exceeding the goals he is given, and will only achieve this by providing superior customer service.

1. Set monthly goals that are attainable and meet with the department head to agree on the details of each specific goal. Seek advice during the meeting on how to increase your personal productivity. Ask for training if more product knowledge is needed.

2. Sign up for continuing education classes for loan officer training or advanced lending. Show management that you are willing to do more than what is required to exceed expectations and advance within the organization. Take as many classes as necessary to improve your performance, and apply what is taught on a regular basis.

3. Call the company’s existing clients when you identify a service that may be of interest, instead of waiting for walk-in business. Arrange to meet with the customers who want more information and prepare the necessary materials in advance. Stand up and thank each client for taking the time to come by the office.

4. Treat each person as if she is your only customer, and be attentive during the conversation. Recommend the appropriate product that will best meet the client’s needs and explain it in detail. Counsel the customer to create a comfort level that will help her decide if she wants to use the product.

5. Cross-sell various services whenever the opportunity arises, to increase personal productivity and the company’s profitability. Upsell qualified loan clients and ask for referrals. Give each customer a comment card and have it sent to the department head.

6. Meet with the department head at the end of each month and review the performance results. Address any weaknesses and continue to hone your sales and customer service skills. Ask the department head what areas he wants to focus on for the upcoming month, and implement a strategy to help him achieve the goals.

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Games to Teach Budgeting

Managing money and budgeting are important for long-term financial stability. Failure to properly allocate funds can result in serious financial consequences. To help children avoid these consequences, teachers can engage them in money management and budgeting activities. Through the use of games, teachers can provide students with interesting ways to learn about money management. By learning the skills necessary to manage money at an early age, students have a better chance of making wise decisions about money and avoiding money management mistakes later in life.

Needs and Wants Sort
Purchases can be divided into two categories: needs and wants. Needs are things that you must have to survive, like food and shelter. Wants, on the other hand, at things that you would like to have, like an iPod or a television. Recognizing the difference between needs and wants is one of the most important elements of money management. Help students practice distinguishing between wants and needs by engaging them in a wants and needs sort. To prepare for this game, gather four paper grocery bags. Label two as wants, and two as needs. Next, write objects that you could purchase on index cards. Create cards with a mixture of wants and needs. Using a second set of index cards, create an identical set of objects. When students arrive in class, divide them into two groups. Line each group up on a different side of the classroom. In front of each line, place a want bag and a need bag as well as a stack of want and need cards. Tell students that when you say go, one individual from each group will go and select a card, then place it in the want or need bag. After accomplishing this task, the group team member goes to the back of the line, and another team member goes forward and sorts another card. Teams continue in this fashion until all of the cards have been sorted. The first team to successfully sort all of their cards, wins.

Price is Right
Help students develop an understanding of the market prices of goods by playing a classroom game of Price is Right. To prepare for this game, get a local grocery store ad and create blown up copies of different products in the ad on card stock. On the back of each sheet, write the price of the item. When students arrive in class, divide them into four groups. Provide each group with paper and a marker. Tell the students that, when you show them an item, they must guess the price. The team that is closest in their guess without going over, wins a point. The team with the most points at the end of the game, wins.

Budget Simulation
Allow students to try their hand at building a budget by engaging them in an extended simulation. Start by pairing students into family units. Then allow students to select a job and determine how much they would earn in that occupation. Give students the opportunity to look through house ads and calculate their mortgage, select a car to purchase and use catalogs to buy goods. As students earn and spend money, help them keep track using a paper or digital budget. Throughout the simulation, force students to draw chance cards, like those in Monopoly. Create some cards with good results, and others with negative consequences. Tell students that they have a set amount of time to accrue as much wealth as possible. Once the preset time has elapsed, review students' budgets and declare one family group the simulation winners.

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Fun Ways to Teach Budgeting

Learning to budget properly is important, because how well you budget and spend your money directly affects most areas of your life. Learning to budget should start at a young age with parents teaching their children. There are many fun ways to teach budgeting to a child that will enhance the child’s understanding of money and set good habits for the rest of his life.

Envelope Budgeting System
Teach your child the effectiveness of the simple envelope budgeting system with this budgeting game. You will need a stack of envelopes and fake money, such as Monopoly money. Take each envelope and label it with the name of an expense, such as mortgage, car payment, utilities and groceries. Be sure to label one envelope with savings as well. Have your child place the correct amount of money into each envelopes, as if paying bills. Use any leftover funds as “fun money."

Matched Savings
Help your child learn the importance of saving by implementing a match saving plan. Set a goal for the child, such as purchasing a new toy, and advise the child you will match his savings dollar for dollar after he reaches a certain amount, such as one-half the cost of the item. Add your funds to the account only after the child reaches the agreed upon amount.

Shopping Trip
Teach your child how items differ in cost and allow her to experience paying for items by letting her go shopping with you. Take the child to a store and have her pay for the items at the register. Take her to a dollar or toy store and give her a certain amount of money to spend. Look at different items in the store, pointing out what is affordable and what is not. For unaffordable items, discuss the amount of money the child would need to purchase the item.

Savings Game
Teach your children the value of saving your earnings with the savings game. Give each of your children a jar in the same size and shape. Instruct them to fill the jar with money as quickly as possible. The children may do extra chores or find odd jobs around the neighborhood to earn money. The first child to fill the jar is the winner of the game. Celebrate in some way, award the child a small prize and restart the game. Consider taking the savings and opening a savings account for the children and continually depositing each time the jar is full.

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Group Money Management Activities

Money management can be a source of disagreement within companies, organizations and households. People often have difficulty compromising when it comes to spending money. According to the website "The Mint," young people typically don't learn money management skills in school, which can lead to many of these problems later in life. Money management activities will help young people learn how to use money wisely rather than waste it.

Virtual Shopping Trip
If working with students, give each group a shopping list of food or ordinary household items found in supermarkets. Let each group use a computer to look up the prices of the items on supermarket websites and decide which one to buy. They must specify the brand, size (if applicable) and store where they found it, then tally up the total when they've found all the items. Discuss each group's results together, asking how they decided whether to sacrifice price for quality, environmental friendliness or appearance. The group that spends the lowest amount of money doesn't necessarily "win." Rather, the activity helps students think consciously about their purchases and work together to make financial choices.

Loan Approval
Make a stack of cards that describe different requests for loans. The scenarios should describe how a candidate presents herself and outlines her business proposal, as well as other financial assistance she might have. After you read one of these cards, give group members a moment to discuss whether they would approve the loan. Then, tell them whether their choice paid off, with a rational description of how the applicant used (or would have used) the funds. This game works for one group or several groups, who can play against each other by simply giving teams a point for each correct answer.

Resort Development
Put each group (or one small group) in charge of creating a beach resort. Give them each the same amount of Monopoly money, telling them they can use it any way they need to. They might choose to build a fitness complex or pool, a gourmet restaurant or café. They could improve the landscaping or save money in an emergency fund. Tell them to record their reasons for the choices they made, and the predicted outcomes. Have the groups read each other's reports and provide feedback about these choices.

College Financial Plan
Have group members create a financial plan for a fictitious college student. Tell them the income of the student's parents and related financial information, like whether the student has bonds or money in a bank account. Assume that the parents will be paying a specific amount, but not a large percentage of the tuition. Tell them the student's GPA and extracurricular activities, and the college he wants to attend. Have the groups determine which scholarships he might receive, how much he could earn by working and other financial aid he could receive from the school. As the Scholarships website suggests, also have group members make a list of everything he might spend money on each week, and determine what his weekly budget should be based on the financial aid they predict he will receive.

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Tips on Money Management for Doctors

Becoming a doctor can be financially and personally rewarding, but there are some challenges as well. Physicians face a number of obstacles when it comes to managing their money, their taxes and their financial lives. To be successful over both the short and long term, new doctors need to pay as much attention to managing their finances as they do to managing their practices and their patients.

Account for Taxes
Many physicians work as independent contractors or small-business owners, and as such, they must account for their own taxes. As a doctor, be sure to set aside enough money to pay your taxes. Setting aside money for taxes will help to ensure that you do not have to pull money from your investments when the tax deadline rolls around.

In many cases doctors are required to file quarterly tax returns, so setting aside a fixed amount of money once a quarter for taxes is an excellent practice. This money should be kept in a safe investment vehicle such as a savings account or money market fund

Fund Your Retirement
Physicians who work for hospitals or large practices might have access to a 401k plan, but those who work in private practice need to fund their own retirement plans. No matter which category you fall into, you need to make sure you put money aside each year to fund your future retirement. Whether that planned retirement date is a year away or many decades away, physicians need to invest money steadily to fund a comfortable retirement. The best way to ensure you will be comfortable when you hang up your stethoscope is to invest a consistent amount of money each and every month. Investing equal dollar amounts regularly, known as dollar cost averaging, helps smooth out the bumps and increases the odds that the money invested will grow significantly over the years.

Student Loans
It is no secret that medical school is expensive, and many new doctors emerge from their residencies with tens of thousands, or even hundreds of thousands of dollars, in student loan debt. Any solid money management plan for doctors needs to address these student loan obligations. Setting aside a portion of your income off the top is one of the best ways to pay those loans off without impacting your lifestyle. New doctors can start with a small percentage, such as 5 percent, then work their way up slowly.

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How to Get Financial Assistance for Low-Income Families

With economic downturns, day-to-day living has become tough for many, and finances are tighter than ever. People are being laid off work, gas prices are back on the rise and groceries are at some of their highest prices ever. How do people survive in an economy that is threatening financial wellness? With the help of government programs, there are ways to get financial assistance and stay afloat until times get better.

1. If you've recently been laid off from your job, the first thing you should do is to apply for unemployment compensation. Do this as soon as you know you're being laid off. Search the Internet for your state's unemployment compensation site. In most cases, you can apply online by following a series of easy steps. You will have to claim the weeks you are off of work biweekly, or two weeks at a time.

2. If the economy has you struggling to make ends meet and pay your bills on time, try applying for assistance with your utilities. LIHEAP is a federal program that offers energy and fuel assistance for individuals who qualify. Each state has different income guidelines. Search the Internet for "energy assistance" under your state.

3. Those who are laid off work become concerned with losing health insurance. With the economy in trouble, there has been much talk about help for the uninsured. Health insurance assistance is available to help bridge the gap when you've lost your job. Check out your local public assistance office for more information or search for "health insurance assistance" by state on the internet. Medicaid (medical assistance) is available for those that qualify.

4. Losing your job can be very difficult, and sometimes accepting help is a bit humbling, but it's important to realize you've worked hard for that assistance and deserve it in time of need. There is assistance available for purchasing food with an EBT card or cash assistance. You can check out the public assistance office in your area for more information. You can also check online by searching for your state's "public assistance office." Each state has its own set of income guidelines.

5. You can also check out your local food pantry for help with feeding your family. Food pantries, such as The Salvation Army, offer boxes of food weekly for those in need. There are also soup kitchens available that offer three meals a day to families who are suffering financial burdens. Check online by state for the food pantries and soup kitchens near you.

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Marketing Strategy for Financial Services

A marketing strategy helps your financial services company determine your target market segment, positioning, marketing mix and allocation of resources. As competition continues to grow in the financial services industry, companies that develop comprehensive marketing strategies will be more likely to draw in clients and differentiate themselves from their competitors.

Target Market
The target market section is the first part of your financial services company's marketing strategy. It communicates the groups of customers you will target with your marketing efforts. Choose several target market segments you identified through market research. For example, you may have conducted a web search for "Michigan target market financial planning," and found that target customers for your services tend to be older males with income levels over $125,000. Or, you may have worked with a market research company to determine that young urban professionals represent a viable market for your financial services. Describe each customer segment you will focus on in detail.

Positioning refers to how you will position your financial products to your target market. One way to determine your positioning is by conducting a SWOT analysis. First, describe the strengths of your company, such as, "Highest customer service ratings in the Detroit financial services market." Next, describe your company's weaknesses, such as, "Perceived high financial adviser rates." Then, describe the opportunities you anticipate in the coming year, such as, "New online portfolio manager allows us to target more tech-savvy customers." Finally, describe any threats to your company, like, "New financial planning company opening 10 miles from our home office in August 2011." Once you complete the analysis, use the strengths and opportunities to create a positioning statement, such as, "Leverage our industry-leading customer service ratings to gain more tech-savvy clients."

Marketing Mix
The marketing mix is the next section of your marketing strategy, and outlines the four "P's" for your financial services business: product, price, place and promotion. The product or service part of the marketing mix means you should describe the various types of financial services your company offers, such as retirement planning, short-term investments or tax preparation. Price means you should describe the pricing model for your financial services, or how your company makes money. Place refers to the locations of your financial services operations. Promotion means the various ways you will use to promote your financial services.

Resource Allocation
The final part of your marketing strategy is describing how your resources will be allocated. In this section, describe each of the marketing tactics you will use to promote your financial services, when you plan to use them and the resources you will need for each. For example, "Direct mail: we have partnered with XY Direct Mail Company to develop a list of high net worth individuals over the age of 60 in the Detroit area. We plan to launch the campaign in October 2011, and have a $50,000 budget allocated to the project. This budget includes list management, graphic design, copywriting and print production fees."
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Financial Services Marketing Ideas

As a financial institution, you might think that your ways of marketing your services would need to be as airtight and precise as your business practices. In reality, you still have to be innovative and personable to get the word out to your target market. Tried and true ways of marketing your business---such as postcard mailers, print advertising and broadcast commercials---can work in your marketing mix, however, you may want to consider a few new ways to engage potential clients and members.

Networking and Member Organizations
Word of mouth has always been a leader in the marketing platform for getting your customers in the door. Use this concept by joining area business organizations and attending local events to mix and mingle with your potential clients. Keep your ideal customers in mind when choosing where you spend your time, but use this as the chance to relax and do a little relationship marketing. Groups to participate with would be after-hours business networking meetings, joining a charitable organization and sitting on a board or committee, or pairing up with other members of your institution to attend community festivals and events. These are ways where, in your natural volunteer and participatory element, you and your team can meet new people. You can mention your services in conversation or volunteer your institution to help out in ways that may arise such as using your location to host business meetings.

Trade Shows and Events
Set aside money in your marketing budget to exhibit at area trade shows, festivals and expos. These could be both at events that other businesses are attending to learn about your services or events that are open to the public. By setting up a table or expo booth, you can promote your ongoing promotions and even do on-the-spot financial consultations at your booth. You can hold drawings, open new accounts and distribute information about your entire brand, perhaps a new branch that is opening or new services you're rolling out.

Financial Family Challenge
A trend that has popped up in the age of reality television is the concept of hosting a family financial challenge competition. You can choose to partner with a broadcast station or just add it to your promotions and advertising campaign to track the progress. The basis of the family challenge is to select a set number of families all with varying financial circumstances and have either your separate branches or individuals within your staff work with them to get them financially fit as a result of your planning and financial management. The financial effects to some families recovering from recession turmoil can last for years to come. So your company can not only benefit in aiding families personally, but really soaking up some good publicity for being able to tackle such a daunting task. Either advertised route you take, the key is to showcase the before and after of how your institution can work with a range of issues and help to improve family lifestyles as a result of your services.