8 Money-Saving Tips for Improving Your Bathroom’s Design

I don’t know about you, but for me, a bathroom goes well beyond its practical uses; within the past years, I’ve come to think about it as a sanctuary of sorts, that room of the house that’s dedicated to pampering, relaxing, and deconnecting — a place where I can enjoy some alone time and use that alone time to take care of my skin, hair, body, and mind.

And just like any other space in my house, the more beautiful my bathroom is, the more I can enjoy the time I spend in it. But re-designing a bathroom or remodeling it altogether is quite an investment. That’s why today we’re going to look at a few handy ways in which we can improve our bathroom’s design without having to spend a ton of money in the process. Here are some tips to help you maximize your bathroom’s function and style while saving money — both on the short and long run:

#1 Choose décor materials wisely

When designing your bathroom, one of the most important things to take into consideration is choosing the right materials. And I’m not talking about the tile (which we all know ceramic is the way to go); but rather furniture and appliances. Since this space is expected to be exposed to water, humidity, and moisture, it’s best to use waterproof materials for all furniture, décor items, and appliances.

For example, solid wood or plywood may not be a good choice for furniture, as it will likely warp and crack (and it can even lead to mold). Instead, a way better — and longer-lasting — choice would be PVC, which is extremely durable, completely waterproof and offers a great look and feel as well for bathroom cabinets. When buying blinds for your bathroom windows, choose waterproof blinds because they are stain and mold resistant, as well as fade-free. When picking appliances, make sure to avoid any metal that might rust, and preferably stay away from plastic; some of your best choices are brass, stainless steel, and zinc (or zinc alloys), as they stand the test of time and add a note of style to your bathroom.

Overall, focus on materials that can withstand humidity and water. This way, you don’t have to spend money replacing them and you can rest assured that your bathroom will maintain its clean and brand-new look over the years.

#2 Widen and brighten your space with mirrors

Instead of adding a skylight or a new window to brighten a rather gloomy bathroom (which would call for a pricy renovation), consider using a large mirror, re-painting your walls in a light color, or adding extra light fixtures. These can all help create the illusion of space, making your bathroom look wider and brighter. Obviously, this technique is much more affordable than having to install an additional window to your bathroom space and you’d be surprised at how much of a difference adding a large mirror can make.

If you feel like you don’t have the space to add an additional mirror to your bathroom, consider replacing the mirror above your vanity with a far larger one. Bonus tip: choosing an unusual shape or a unique frame for the vanity mirror (like the one in the image below) can give an impressive look to your bathroom, and act as the centerpiece of the room.

bathroom vanity with large, unique mirror

#3 Update by regrouting

If you’re looking to update your bathroom quickly and on a tight budget, consider replacing the existing tile grout. Regrouting is a two-step manual process by which you first remove the hardened old grout from the seams, or joints, between the tiles in your bathroom, then apply fresh new grout to make it seem like you have just installed your tiles (here’s a full walkthrough of the process). You’d be surprised how big of a difference this fairly simple update can make — especially since tiles rarely show signs of wear and tear, but the grout’s initial color fades away, and often gives a sense that it’s dirty, discolored and old.

This idea works best if the tiles in your space are still in great shape, that is, they don’t have cracks or missing pieces. Although it may take a bit of work, it’s surely faster and cheaper than a major bathroom overhaul. Fresh grout will make the tiled area look brand new, and you can even apply a new grout color to make a more dramatic change to your bathroom. 

pink bathroom tiles

#4 Get creative with designer tiles

Now, if you’re looking to add a splash of sophistication to your shower or bathroom tiles, but don’t have the budget to splurge on designer tiles, there’s a super easy trick you can turn to: use regular, budget friendly tiles across the walls of your bathroom, then add a pop of design and color in a small area using more expensive designer tiles. 

Or, you can keep it simple and use classic tiles, but arrange them in an unusual pattern or install them at an angle to create an eye-catching effect. If you’re looking for the maximum effect, create an accent wall (preferably right where either the shower or bathroom vanity go, to highlight that space), like the one pictured below. It won’t cost as much as replacing all of your bathroom tiles, but will definitely give your space a great, updated look.

bathroom shower tiles

#5 Try to avoid current trends

We all like to think that we’re aligned with the latest trends and fads. But the truth of the matter is, the best way to waste money is to follow fads that in a couple of years will seem so outdated that you’ll feel the need to renovate your bathroom all over again. You can make your design last way longer if you’ll use natural finishes and neutral colors.

Classics also tend to be considerably less expensive than their trending counterparts, and they’re much more likely to stand the test of time. See below for a marble-themed bathroom that was all the rage a few years back, but that seems a little out of place in the more minimalist-inclined era that we live in today.

marble bathroom with gold fixtures

#6 Use traditional finishes

This goes hand in hand with our last point: using fancy fixtures and embellishments on your faucets and cabinet hardware may seem like a good way to add some personality, but they can turn out to be rather costly without having the desired effect over the years. These kinds of fixtures are pricier than standard ones and their unusual colors, trimmings, and shapes can be more difficult to match with the rest of the décor — and limit any improvements you might decide to make in the near future.

Because of this, you may be forced to buy new coordinating pieces, too. However, if you’ll stick with traditional finishes, it will be simpler for you to create a cohesive look while still sticking to your budget. 

bathroom sink and fixtures

#7 Re-use old furniture to create a unique look

If you have an old desk, table, dresser, or TV stand, consider using it in your bathroom (provided it can withstand humidity and isn’t easily prone to water damage, as we’ve stated above). Repurposing old furniture will give you a chance to show your personality while adding much-needed bathroom storage. Consider doing this as a DIY project, which can help you save money while also being earth-friendly. 

Not sure how to fit old furniture with your bathroom décor? Repurposing doesn’t mean using the piece of furniture in the same way it was intended by its makers; so you can get as creative as you want, by say turning an old desk into a vanity, parts of a table into shelves, an old painting frame into a mirror frame, you name it. See below for a great example of how this stunning bathroom with matching his and hers vanities uses old crates to frame the bathtub.

elegant bathroom with matching his and hers vanities

#8 Refinish rather than replace

Replacing bathroom elements will usually require removing or replacing plumbing fixtures, which comes with additional costs. It can also involve construction changes, demolition work, and new installation. Before deciding on replacing any of these fixtures, determine if they really need replacement. If you’re replacing them for aesthetic reasons, you might have the option to refinish them instead of replacing them altogether. 

For example, you can refinish your old tub with a nice-looking, protective coating instead of completely replacing it. You can also paint your cabinet anew instead of purchasing a new one — and you can even get creative with the color you use. Check out this elegant bathroom below, whose owners chose to refinish the bathtub and paint it in a slight pinkish hue. Isn’t it just lovely?

pink bathtub in elegant bathroom

Final thoughts

The bathroom is one part of the house that needs some upgrading every now and then, and said upgrades can turn out to be quite expensive. However, with some rather small, but well-thought changes, you can spruce up your bathroom design without spending a pretty penny. And if our suggestions are not to your liking, there’s tons of helpful resources out there that can give you some great ideas to get you started.

More interior design tips

Here’s Everything You Need to Set Up a Meditation Corner in Your House
How to Turn Your Kitchen Into Every Coffee Lover’s Dream
Design Trends that Add Extra Flair to Your Fancy Home
How to Add a Touch of Luxury to Your Home without a Costly Renovation

The post 8 Money-Saving Tips for Improving Your Bathroom’s Design appeared first on Fancy Pants Homes.

Source: fancypantshomes.com

Carmel’s 107-Acre Asherwood Estate Sells; New Owner to Build 40 Homes on the Property

Asherwood, the suburban Indianapolis estate of the late billionaire Mel Simon, has reportedly found new owners. The Current, a local publication that reports on the Carmel area, has learned that the massive property will be divided in two and sold to different buyers for an undisclosed amount.

The opulent main house along with 20 acres that surround it will go to a private buyer (who will use it as a personal residence), while the rest of the 107-acre property goes to Gradison Land Development. The latter has already filed plans to built 40 homes on the sprawling property.

As a quick recap, the famous property — valued at $30 million — was most recently listed in March 2019, following its previous attempt to sell in 2014 which ended with Bren Simon (wife of the late shopping-mall magnate and Pacers co-owner, Mel Simon) donating the 107-acre estate.

Bren Simon, a known philanthropist, handed Asherwood Estate — as well as its lavishly furnished 50,000-square-foot mansion — to the Great American Songbook Foundation to support its dedication to 20th century American music history.

asherwood estate main hallway
Asherwood Estate, Carmel IN. Photo courtesy of CJ Walker

In late 2018, the foundation led by Grammy-nominated musician and historian Michael Feinstein sought bids from top real estate brokerage firms to advise it on the best ways to market and sell the property. The winning bid went to global real estate firm Avison Young, chosen to lead sales efforts for the 107-acre property in Carmel, IN — an inspired choice, given the recent news of the successful sale.

“We invested a lot of time and effort in evaluating options to maximize the potential of this property, not only for our organization but for the surrounding community,” the foundation’s executive director Chris Lewis said in a statement. “We want to honor this generous gift by opening the opportunity to prospective buyers who are able to elevate the grounds beyond our capabilities.”

Stan Burton, an associate in Avison Young’s Indianapolis office, was leading the efforts of coordinating the sale of the Asherwood Estate.

History of the Asherwood Estate

asherwood estate in carmel in
Asherwood Estate, Carmel IN. Photo courtesy of CJ Walker

In the 1970s, Melvin and Bren Simon bought the Asherwood estate in Carmel, Indiana. Developed by race car driver and automotive engineer Louis H. Schwitzer, the Asherwood estate was significantly expanded under the ownership of the Simons.

In the years following their purchase, Mr. Simon, the co-founder of the Simon Property Group, became one of the world’s foremost shopping mall developers and the co-owner of the Indiana Pacers basketball team. When he died in 2009 at 82, Mr. Simon was worth $1.3 billion, according to Forbes.

Mr. Simon’s widow, Bren Simon, listed the property for sale in 2014 for $25 million, with no takers. She then donated the massive Asherwood estate, along with the house and all of its belongings, to Michael Feinstein’s foundation, The Great American Songbook.

The millions of dollars worth of art, furniture and fixtures that were inside the palatial 50,000-square-foot mansion hit the auction block on November 17, 2018 with proceeds from the sale going to the foundation.

Asherwood Estate inside main room
Asherwood Estate, Carmel IN. Photo courtesy of CJ Walker

A real-estate deal to redevelop the vast estate into a luxury neighborhood and transform the seven-bedroom mansion into a boutique inn was also underway at the beginning of 2019, but was later abandoned due to restrictions that prevented the development of large-scale homes on the estate.

The existing fully furnished seven-bedroom mansion on the property includes two golf courses, two swimming pools, a tennis court, a clubhouse, greenhouse, guest house, home theater and caterer-ready professional kitchen. The property is located along Ditch Road between 96th and 106th streets.

asherwood estate library
Asherwood Estate, Carmel IN. Photo courtesy of CJ Walker
asherwood estate private office
Asherwood Estate, Carmel IN. Photo courtesy of CJ Walker

Note: A previous version of this article was published in March 2019, when Asherwood Estate was listed with Avison Young. It was updated in 2021 to reflect the recent news surrounding the property’s imminent sale.

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New Jersey’s Gloria Crest Estate, Once Home to Hollywood Silent Film Starlet, Is on the Market
The Story of the Opulent $120 Million Manor that Aaron Spelling Built in Holmby Hills

The post Carmel’s 107-Acre Asherwood Estate Sells; New Owner to Build 40 Homes on the Property appeared first on Fancy Pants Homes.

Source: fancypantshomes.com

Indoor Wellness: How to Recreate the Ultimate Interior Design Trend of 2020

Within the past few years, we’ve seen a growing interest in everything wellness. With a more mindful approach on how we approach our day-to-day lives, the emphasis is now placed on maintaining our mental and emotional health, as we are actively working to ensure that all aspects of our lives remain balanced — our homes included. This is why the real estate wellness market soared in 2017 to one billion dollars. But what about us regular homeowners, who weren’t lucky enough to buy homes designed in such a fashion? Well, this is where interior design comes in to lend a

Source: fancypantshomes.com

Here’s Everything You Need to Set Up a Meditation Corner in Your House

Our homes should be oases of calm where we can retreat to from the hectic world we live in. But that’s easier said that done, especially since every corner of the house stands as a reminder of something we didn’t quite get to yet; whenever we walk past our desk, we’re being reminded that there’s work left to be done and bills to be paid; when we enter the kitchen, we may be reminded that we forgot to cook dinner so we should probably order some takeout… again!

But what if you had a place in your house completely devoted to chasing away stressful emotions? A space with comforting surroundings where you can clear your mind – a meditation corner.

There are no specific rules for creating one, but first, choose a space that simply feels good. You need to make sure that it’s constantly clean and uncluttered, and you may also want to account for lighting, depending on what time of the day you want to meditate.

Once you’ve decided on it, all that remains is for you to decorate and personalize your meditation corner. And we’ve got you covered here! Check out the following meditation items and choose the ones that’ll help you transition into a quiet mindset. Namaste!

Meditation pillow

woman meditating
Image credit: North Corner Yoga on Amazon

See it here

What’s best about creating a meditation corner is that you don’t need expensive stuff, but you do need comfort. This meditation zafu will allow you to maintain perfect posture during your practice, by propping your hips up higher than your knees. If you don’t feel comfortable enough, you can easily remove some of the pillow’s filling.  

If you already have an old meditation pillow, consider making it brand new by changing its cover. We personally love this one.

Tibetan singing bowls

Tibetan singing bowl
Image credit: Ohuhu on Amazon

Find them here

Tibetan singing bowls have been used for centuries for healing and meditation purposes. When played, the sonic waves help induce deep meditative and peaceful states.

Handcrafted by artisans in Nepal, the Ohuhu singing bowl is as beautiful to look at as it is to hear, producing a profound sound healing experience. Besides, it’s easy to carry around, so you can take your bowl wherever your practice takes you.

Meditation bench

meditation bench
Image credit: Mindful Modern on Amazon

See it here

Another item that you can add to your peaceful corner is a meditation bench. For those of you who find it difficult to meditate using a zafu cushion, a bamboo bench will offer ergonomic support and comfort.

Because proper posture is key to in the meditation practice, this bench is ideal for the traditional Japanese kneeling posture, called “seiza” position.

Small bamboo coffee table

bamboo coffee table
Image credit: Zen Bamboo on Amazon

See it here

Create a stylish and tranquil space for your meditation practice with this small coffee table.

Made from eco-friendly natural bamboo, this piece is highly versatile and ideal for accompanying your session with a nice cup of tea, or you can simply use it to place other meditation items.

Wall tapestry

meditation wall tapestry
Image credit: Lahasbja on Amazon

Find it here

Some people like to keep their meditation space simple, but others like to go all the way and decorate their walls as well.

If you think that a drawing of different yoga elements will help induce a deeper meditative state, then you should probably consider this Indian mandala tapestry. Made out of lightweight polyester fiber, the material is soft and you can also use it as a meditation mat.

Citrine & amethyst crystal tree

bonsai crystal tree
Image credit: Mookaitedecor on Amazon

Find it here

You don’t need a special place when it comes to beautiful ornaments, but a replica of the traditional Chinese “Wishing Tree” would definitely fit better in your meditation corner.

Made out of natural titanium, coated rock crystal cluster base with crystal quartz leaves, this wishing tree is considered by many to be a symbol of good luck, wealth and prosperity.

Empowering question cards

empowering question cards
Image credit: Sunny Present on Amazon

Find them here

We all need to start an inner conversation every once in a while. Gaining deeper insight into who we really are takes some work — and requires that we ask ourselves the right questions.

These adorable Empowering Questions cards contain all the right questions that’ll trigger positive answers. They’re an easy way to bring mindfulness to your life by getting to know yourself and start working on the aspects that matter to you the most.

Tealight candle holders

tealight candle holders
Image credit: Iyara Craft on Amazon

See them here

Everyone loves candles. They lighten up the space and create an enchanting and intimate ambiance.

These beautiful antique wooden candle holders will add coziness and a warm touch to your relaxation space. They go very well with both modern and rustic decor and they would also make a great gift for your friends.

Lotus back-flow incense holder

incense holder
Image credit: YYW on Amazon

See it here

Surround yourself with a soothing scent as you focus on your meditation practice with this back-flow incense holder. The aromas will help you relax and let your imagination run free.

The Lotus back-flow incense holder is also great for welcoming your guests. It will create a pleasant atmosphere and why not, reflect your elegant taste.

Japanese Zen garden

Japanese zen garden
Image credit: Hubert & Quinn on Amazon

Find it here

Japanese Zen gardens are a great way to quiet your mind, improve your focus, and develop an overall sense of well-being.

Japanese Zen gardens are places of quiet contemplation and reflection so these tiny versions of them are designed accordingly. You can place one within reach in your meditation corner for tension relief and to help increase mindfulness.

Relaxation fountain

relaxation fountain
Image credit: Homedics on Amazon

Find it here

Another item that will turn your meditation corner into a haven is a tabletop relaxation fountain that will bring the serenity of nature indoors.

With a design that would look great in any setting, this relaxation fountain will instantly put you at ease. Get ready to enjoy the soothing natural water sounds, accompanied by a unique lighting feature for added ambiance.

Folding screen

folding screen
Image credit: Coaster Home Furnishings on Amazon

Find it here

If you want more privacy and less distraction for your meditation corner, you should consider breaking off the area from the rest of the house. And no, you don’t have to build a wall for this, you just need a folding screen.

This black & white four-panel screen is made out of pine and fabric and it would nicely fit in any décor.

So that’s about it — now you’ve got everything you need to create your own meditation corner. We’re sure that there are many other things that you can use to bring serenity into your home and we’d love to hear your ideas.

More fancy stuff for your home

10 of the Most Stylish Minimalist Wall Clocks You Can Buy on Amazon
The 15 Best Luxury Candles on Amazon to Brighten your Home & Complement your Decor
These Luxury Bar Stools will Take Your Kitchen to the Next Level
The Cutest Cat Condos You Can Get on Amazon

The post Here’s Everything You Need to Set Up a Meditation Corner in Your House appeared first on Fancy Pants Homes.

Source: fancypantshomes.com

7 Best Small Business Loans of 2021

If you recently started a business, you might be wondering whether it’s a good idea to take out a small business loan. Small business loans can make it easier for you to buy equipment, hire…

The post 7 Best Small Business Loans of 2021 appeared first on Crediful.

Source: crediful.com

Personal Loans After Bankruptcy

Bankruptcy is not the end of the world. In fact, while it is more difficult to acquire loans and credit cards, it’s not impossible. In this guide, we’ll show you how you can get short-term loans and long-term loans even after you have filed for bankruptcy.

Whether you have debt to repay, bills to cover or credit to build, you can get back on track with a personal loan, even if you have recently filed for bankruptcy.

Challenges in Getting a Personal Loan After Bankruptcy

You will face a few issues when applying for an unsecured personal loan after bankruptcy. Firstly, lenders will insist that you wait a while before you apply. The exact timeframe will depend on the individual lender and the type of loan, but generally, you’ll need to give it at least 2 years.

Your credit score is also important. Bankruptcy can reduce your credit score by over 200 points, and it can do all kinds of major damage before you file. Loan companies are not interested in lending to individuals with poor credit scores and recent bankruptcy filings. This is especially true if they filed for Chapter 7, in which case all debts were discharged.

It makes sense—creditors base their activity on statistics and probability. If you have a recent filing and a terrible credit score, statistically you’re much less likely to meet your monthly repayments.

Some lenders will be more willing to take a risk on the basis that an individual who has recently filed is unable to file again for another few years. However, in these cases, they are still taking a massive risk and to offset that they will offer you massive rates. 

What’s more, while it seems like they are doing you a favor by taking a chance when no one else will, they’re actually just taking advantage of your desperation, offering you an unsecured loan when you’re more willing to accept.

Most Common Challenges and How to Overcome

The biggest issue you have when applying for personal loans after bankruptcy concerns your credit score. Your score will likely be very low, and many lenders refuse to offer low-rate loans to consumers with scores less than 660. If you have a score of 550 or less, you may still be offered a loan, but the rates will be high.

The good news is that things get easier with time. A bankruptcy discharge essentially wipes your slate clean, eliminating your monthly payments. This leaves you with more money in your pocket, which means you should have less need for an unsecured personal loan.

If you need a car, try a car loan instead. The fact that it is secured against the vehicle should ensure you receive better rates, even with a low credit score. If you simply need to build your credit score, try a secured credit card instead. Providing you meet your monthly payments on this secured card, you’ll get your security deposit back and your credit score will improve, as lenders report all activity to the credit bureaus. 

How Bankruptcy Affects Your Ability to Get a Personal Loan

A bankruptcy can remain on your credit report for 10 years and do some serious damage to your credit score in that time. The effects will diminish with each passing year and in the final few years, you shouldn’t have any issues whatsoever. However, it will take a few years before your credit score improves to a point where you don’t need to limit yourself to high-rate loans.

Your credit score isn’t the only issue, either. Many home, car, and personal loan lenders refuse all applicants who have filed for bankruptcy within a fixed period of time, often between 2 and 3 years. If you need a loan during this time then your options are limited, to say the least. You will be forced to choose one of the following options for unsecured credit:

  • Bad Credit Car Loans: These loans offer respectable sums and terms, but they have high-interest rates, and these may increase if you don’t meet your monthly payment obligations.
  • Payday Loans: High-rate and low-limit loans offered over a short period. The idea is that you take the loan when you’re struggling to make ends meet and need some assistance before payday. These loans are not as bad as they once were due to restrictions and regulations, but they are still not ideal. They are also illegal in nearly half of all US states.
  • Unsecured Credit Cards: You can also get a revolving line of credit with an unsecured credit card. However, as with bad credit loans, these have high-interest rates and very poor terms.

To trick you into paying a higher APR, lenders won’t always advertise their rates and will instead charge a fixed sum every month. This can be the equivalent of an APR over 20%, much higher than the average, which is around 16%.

Best Installment Loans After Bankruptcy

Before applying for a personal loan, take a close look at your finances. Calculate your debt-to-income ratio, and make sure you can comfortably afford the payments. If you have recently filed for bankruptcy, you can’t apply again for several years which means you’ve lost your get-out clause and can’t afford to fall behind on your payments.

If you struggle to meet your payments, lenders may still offer a repayment plan and financial hardship programs. However, if you’ve already been through debt issues then your options decrease and they may be less willing to lend a helping hand.

Only when you’re absolutely confident in your financial situation and your ability to repay should you seek to acquire additional debt. 

Here are a few providers and options that can help:

  • Upstart: Accepts credit scores as low as 580 with APRs as high as 36%.
  • Lending Club: You need a credit score of at least 600 to apply.
  • OneMain Financial: There is no minimum credit score and monthly payments begin at just over $200.
  • Lending Point: A minimum credit score of 585 is needed for loans of between $2,000 and $30,000.
  • Avant: Get up to $35,000 with an APR ranging from around 10% to 36%.

What Happens if you Get Refused?

If you get refused for a personal loan because you have a poor credit card or have recently filed for bankruptcy, there are a few options:

Wait

Patience is the best policy in this situation. It doesn’t matter how bleak things seem right now, they will improve in time. The longer you wait, the older your accounts will become, the more your payment history will improve (assuming you have active accounts) and the further away that bankruptcy filing will be.

If you don’t have any active accounts, waiting can still help, but you should also look into acquiring a credit card with a security deposit, which can greatly improve your credit score in just a few months 

A credit builder loan can also help, as can lending circles. These options are easy to apply for and don’t require stringent checks, great credit or a clean bankruptcy history. But before you get excited, they don’t give you cash sums in advance and are designed purely to help you rebuild your credit.

Appeal to the Lender

Bigger lenders use a long list of criteria to determine which applicants to accept and which ones to reject. No amount of begging or explaining will change their minds and if you’re rejected, you just need to move on, improve your score, and try again in the future.

However, if a smaller lender rejects you because of your recent bankruptcy filing, it’s worth contacting them to explain your situation. Explain how you have turned things around, show them proof if you have it, and ask them what would be required of you for them to accept. You might not get them to change their minds, but it should give you some valuable insight into their process.

Look for a Co-signer

A co-signer with a strong credit history can back you for a personal loan. However, it’s a very sensitive area and a huge favor to ask of anyone, even someone who loves you. 

If you stop meeting those payments the co-signer will become responsible for them, putting their credit in jeopardy. Choose carefully, don’t place anyone in an awkward position, never assume they should help you just because you need help, and always make your monthly payments so they are never required to cover for you.

Seek Other Options

There are other creditors, other loans, and other options—try a credit card, borrow from a friend or family member, sell an asset, use a pawn shop. We live in a credit hungry society and there are more options than anywhere else. Use these to your advantage and don’t get stuck chasing the same loan.

Personal Loans After Bankruptcy is a post from Pocket Your Dollars.

Source: pocketyourdollars.com

How To Get A Car Loan in 5 Easy Steps

Need a car loan soon? Whether you’re about to buy a car soon or just thinking about it, chances are you will likely finance it (unless, of course, you have the cash to buy it right away). So why not learn a few steps along the way to help you get a car loan. A little knowledge about the process can go a long way; so far as saving you thousands of dollars in the long run!

Ready to start comparing car loan already? Start now… it’s Free.

Step One: Review your credit file

You may need to get a free credit report and make sure you have a good credit score before applying for a car loan. The better your credit score, the higher your chance to get approved and save on interest.

Step Two: Compare interest rates

You should shop around, compare auto rates and fees before you apply for a car loan. The worst thing you can do to yourself is to apply for multiple loans at the same time, as this can affect your credit score.

So, look at multiple rates at one place so you can make the best decision. Also, remember you can choose a fixed rate or variable rate on a car loan.

Whichever you choose depends on what you’re comfortable with. Remember that a fixed rate will stay the same for all of the term of the loan. That means, your repayment will be predictable and you’ll be able to budget for a lot easier than with a variable rate.

Click here to compare car loan rates through LendingTree.

Step Three: Dealer Finance or Car loan?

You should always compare bank/independent loan to dealer finance.

Granted dealer financing may get you a auto loan with a very low rate, but that does not mean you get the best deal. Sometimes dealer financing can be more expensive in the long run. So you may want to compare rates from 2-3 lenders with a dealer finance rate to make sure you get the best rate possible.

Step Four: Get pre-approved

Before you commit to a car you should get pre-approved first. Plus, walking into the car dealership with a pre-approval letter in your hand, gives you greater negotiating power.

Step Five: Gather your documents and go car shopping

Once you decide on an auto loan that you’re happy with, it’s time to go car shopping! So gather your financial documents such as your pay stubs, bank statements, tax returns, and W2s.

Want to explore your car loan options? Visit LendingTree to compare the best car loan rates.

Related: How to save money for a car

Speak With The Right Financial Advisor

You can talk to a financial advisor who can review your finances and help you reach your goals. Find one who meets your needs with SmartAsset’s free financial advisor matching service. You answer a few questions and they match you with up to three financial advisors in your area. So, if you want help developing a plan to reach your financial goals, get started now.

The post How To Get A Car Loan in 5 Easy Steps appeared first on GrowthRapidly.

Source: growthrapidly.com

What Is a Mortgage Refinance? 5 Ways to Know If It’s a Good Idea

Jason says:

Hi, Money Girl. I’m interested in refinancing and getting a lower interest rate on my mortgage; however, I may need to sell my home and relocate in a year or so. In that case, does a refinance still make sense? If so, what factors should I consider?

Jason, thanks for your question! It’s a perfect time for homeowners to consider refinancing because interest rates are at historic lows.

If you’re a homeowner, your mortgage payment is probably your largest monthly expense, so it’s wise to stay alert for opportunities to reduce it by refinancing. Plus, your financial circumstances and needs today may be very different than they were when you originally got your mortgage.

It’s a perfect time for homeowners to consider refinancing because interest rates are at historic lows.

I'll answer Jason’s question by reviewing what a mortgage refinance is, explaining common reasons to consider doing one, and covering five ways to know if it’s a good idea for your situation.

What is a mortgage refinance?

Refinancing is when you apply for a new loan to pay off an existing loan balance. The new loan could be with your same institution or with a different lender. The idea is to swap out a higher-interest loan for a lower-interest one, which decreases the amount of interest you have to pay and may also reduce your monthly payments.

When you take out a mortgage to buy a home, various factors determine the interest rate you get offered. While your credit, down payment, and income history are critical, lenders base mortgages on the prevailing interest rates. 

An interest rate is simply the cost of money for borrowers. Rates in the U.S. fluctuate according to the monetary policy of the Federal Reserve or Fed, which is our central bank. 

A good rule of thumb is to consider refinancing when the current rate dips at least one percentage point below what you’re paying for your mortgage.

When interest rates are low, it’s like money’s on sale, as strange as that sounds! Banks should display a big banner on their front door or website that reads “bargain basement prices on dollars” or “we sell money cheap” because that’s what happens when interest rates go down. Low rates are great for borrowers, but not so good for lenders. 

The Freddie Mac website shows historical data for interest rates on 30-year mortgages since 1971. In August 2020, the average for a fixed-rate, 30-year mortgage was 2.94%. A year earlier, the same loan was 3.62%, and ten years before, it was 4.43%. 

Since interest rates change periodically, the rate you’re currently paying on a mortgage may be significantly different than the going rate. A good rule of thumb is to consider refinancing when the current rate dips at least one percentage point below what you’re paying for your mortgage.

What’s the cost to refinance a mortgage?

You need at least one percentage point between the going rate and yours because there’s a cost to do a refinance. Closing a loan means you must pay fees to various companies, including your lender or mortgage broker, property appraiser, closing agent or attorney, and surveyor. Plus, there are fees required by the local government for recording the mortgage, and maybe more costs, depending on where you live. 

The total upfront cost of a refinance depends on the lender and property location. It could be as high as 3% to 6% of your outstanding loan balance. The trick to knowing if it’s worth it is to figure out when you’d break even on those costs. In other words, when do you go from the red to black on the deal? 

If you pay for a refinance but don’t keep your home long enough to recoup the cost, you’ll lose money. But if you do keep the property beyond the financial break-even point (BEP), you’ll feel like a genius because you saved money in the long run!

If you pay for a refinance but don’t keep your home long enough to recoup the cost, you’ll lose money.

You may be able to roll closing costs for a refinance into the new loan, which means you would have nothing or little to pay out-of-pocket. But adding them increases the amount you borrow and may also increase the interest rate you pay for the life of the loan. For that reason, it’s essential to ask the lender for a side-by-side comparison of all the terms for each loan option so you can carefully evaluate them. 

So, how do you figure the BEP to know if doing a refinance is wise? Here’s a simple BEP formula: Refinance break-even point = Total closing costs / Monthly savings.

For instance, if your closing costs are $5,000 and you save $150 a month on your mortgage payment by refinancing, it would take 34 months or almost three years to recoup the cost. The calculation is $5,000 total costs / $150 savings per month = 33.3 months to break even.

For help crunching your numbers, check out the Refinance Breakeven Calculator at dinkytown.com.

Since how long you own your home after a refinance is critical for making it worthwhile, I’m glad that Jason brought it up in his question. For instance, if he finds out that he’d need to own his home for five years to break-even, but he only plans on staying in it for two years, that should be a deal-breaker.

How to get approved for a mortgage refinance

If you believe that doing a refinance could be wise, you’ll also need to consider if you qualify. Lenders have different underwriting requirements, but most require you to have a minimum amount of equity in your property.

Equity is the difference between your home’s market value today and what you owe on it. A critical ratio for refinancing is known as the loan-to-value or LTV.

For example, if your home value is $300,000 and you have a $150,000 mortgage outstanding, you have $150,000 in equity, an LTV ratio of 50%. But if you owed $250,000, that would be an LTV of 83%. 

You typically need an LTV less than 80% to qualify for a mortgage refinance.

You typically need an LTV less than 80% to qualify for a mortgage refinance. So, Jason should do some quick math to make sure he doesn’t owe more for his home than this threshold based on the current market value. Lenders may still work with you if you have a high LTV and good credit, but they may charge a higher interest rate.

If you have an existing FHA or VA mortgage, you may qualify for a “streamlined” refinance program that requires less paperwork and less equity than a conventional refinance. Check out the FHA Refinance program and the VA Refinance program to learn more.

Reasons to consider refinancing your mortgage

There are a variety of reasons why it may make sense for you to refinance a mortgage. Here are some situations when doing a refinance may be a good solution.

  • Rate-and-term refinance. This is when you get a new loan with a lower interest rate, a different term (length of the loan), or both. It’s probably the most common reason why homeowners refinance their mortgages. 

    Example: If you have a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage at 5%, you could refinance with a 30-year mortgage at 3%. That would reduce your monthly payments and the amount of interest you pay over the life of the loan.
     

  • Cash-out refinance. This is when you get a larger loan than your existing mortgage, so you walk away from the closing with cash. 

    Example: Let’s say your home’s market value is $200,000, and your mortgage balance is $100,000. If you need $25,000 to pay for college or renovate your home, you could do a cash-out refinance for $125,000. After paying off the original mortgage of $100,000, you’d have $25,000 left over to spend any way you like.  
     

  • Cash-in refinance. This is when you pay cash at the closing to pay off an existing mortgage balance. That could be necessary if you don’t have enough equity to qualify for a refinance, or you owe more than your home is worth. 

    Example: You might do a cash-in refinance if having a lower LTV qualifies you for a lower mortgage rate or allows you to get rid of private mortgage insurance (PMI) payments. Read or listen to How to Avoid PMI on Your Home Loan for more information.

You may also need to refinance a mortgage if you want to remove a co-borrower, such as an ex-spouse, from your loan. But if one spouse doesn’t have sufficient income and credit to qualify for a refinance on his or her own, your best option may be to sell the property instead of refinancing the mortgage.

5 ways to know if it’s the right time to refinance

Here are five ways to know if doing a rate-and-term refinance is a good idea.

1. You have an adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM)

Buying a home with an adjustable-rate mortgage comes with lots of advantages like a lower rate, a lower monthly payment, and being able to qualify for a larger loan compared to a fixed-rate mortgage. With an ARM, when interest rates go down, your monthly payments get smaller. 

Instead of worrying about how high your adjustable-rate payment could go, you might refinance to a fixed-rate loan.

But when ARM rates go up, you can feel panicked as your mortgage payment increases month after month. There are caps on annual increases, but your rate could double within just a few years if rates have a significant spike.

Instead of worrying about how high your adjustable-rate payment could go, you might refinance to a fixed-rate loan. That move would lock in a reasonable rate that will never change and make it easier to manage money and stick to a spending plan.

2. You could get a lower interest rate

If you bought a home when mortgage rates were higher than they are now, you’re in a great position to consider refinancing. As I mentioned, you need to do your homework to understand the cost and BEP fully. 

I recommend shopping for a refinance with the lender who holds your current mortgage, plus one or two different companies. Let your mortgage company know that you’re shopping for the best offer. They may be willing to waive specific fees if some of the necessary work, such as a title search, survey, or appraisal, is still current for your home.

3. You don’t plan on moving for several years

Once you know what a refinance will cost, make sure you’ll own your home long enough to pass the BEP, or you’ll end up losing money. For most homeowners, it typically takes owning your home for at least three years after a refinance to make it worthwhile.

4. You have enough home equity

As I mentioned, you typically need at least 20% equity to qualify for a refinance. If you have less, you may still find lenders that will work with you. However, unless your credit is excellent, you’ll typically pay a higher interest rate when you have low equity.

Also, if you don’t have 20% equity, lenders charge PMI. Adding that to your new loan could cut your savings and give you a much longer break-even point. 

5. Your finances are in good shape.

The higher your income and credit, and the lower your debt, the better your refinancing terms will be. If you’re unemployed or your credit took a dive due to a hardship, wait until your overall financial situation has improved before making a mortgage application. Good credit can save thousands in mortgage interest.

Good credit can save thousands in mortgage interest.

If you investigate doing a refinance and decide that it’s not worth the cost, another strategy to save money is to ask your lender for a mortgage modification on your existing loan. You may be able to negotiate modified terms, such as a lower interest rate, without having to pay for a full-blown refinance.

If you’re unsure how much home equity you have or know that you have very little, don’t let that stop you from inquiring about your refinancing options and saving money. Getting advice and refinancing quotes from your lender is free and will help you understand your range of financial options.

Source: quickanddirtytips.com