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02/06/17 Debt , Investing # ,

Financing Solar Panels for Your Home

Financing Solar Panels for Your Home

The sun’s energy is free, but harnessing it isn’t.

Figuring out how to finance solar panels can be tricky, with more options for putting solar panels on your roof than there are loan options for buying a home.

Solar panels and the equipment that goes with them to convert the sun’s energy into electricity is expensive. Based on the average house paying $75 per month for electricity, a solar system that generates that much power costs around $25,000 to $35,000, according to the Solar Power Authority.

Utility company incentives, tax breaks and other subsidies can cut the cost in half, but even then it can take years for the solar panels to pay for themselves in energy savings.

A system that costs $18,000 — which includes installation, labor and the solar power system — has a payback period of about 20 years, the Solar Power Authority estimates.

Cost considerations for solar panels

How many solar panels your home will need and if solar power is worth installing depends on a number of factors. These include the size of the roof, amount of sunlight your home gets, energy needs and how much electricity you’ll still need to buy from your utility company.

Since the sun doesn’t shine on your home 24 hours a day, it won’t generate power all the time. Unless you live in a sunny state such as Arizona or don’t use much electricity and your solar panels produce more electricity than you’ll use, you’ll need to buy electricity from the power company when it’s dark or your solar system isn’t providing enough electricity.

The good news is there are many ways to finance solar panels and eventually power your home for free with power from the sun. Continue reading

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11/29/16 Children , Debt # ,

How I’m Trying to Rein Christmas Spending

How I’m Trying to Rein Christmas Spending

Every year around Thanksgiving, I vow to buy fewer Christmas gifts and rein in my Christmas spending. I’m rarely successful.

I try to spend only cash, but that usually doesn’t work and I end up facing a big credit card bill in January. It’s not something I want to do again and again.

Christmas is one of my favorite times of the year, especially with a child (our daughter is now 12) and seeing her light up on Christmas morning as she opens her gifts. But seeing many of her gifts unused a month later always gets me to thinking about how we’ve got to buy her fewer gifts next year. Continue reading

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02/10/16 Debt # , ,

Hiding Debt From Your Spouse?

Hiding Debt From Your Spouse?

I was working on a story recently about one of the worst types of loans — auto title loans — when a credit counselor I was interviewing told me something I had never considered as a reason for getting such a horrible loan that often leads to spiraling debt.

Some of her clients had good credit, she said, and could probably get a loan at a bank, but they chose not to. Why? They didn’t want their spouse to know about their debt.

“A lot of my customers were hiding things,” she said.

She didn’t say what the debt typically was — though it’s often everyday expenses and not always for emergencies, as I thought it would be, according to a report I was writing about. The title loan was often needed to pay off a credit card bill, and was for debt the borrower didn’t want their spouse, significant other or employer to know about, the credit counselor told me. Continue reading

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01/27/16 Debt

Top Five Benefits of a Guarantor Loan

contract-945619_640Whether you need some emergency funding for car repairs, home improvements or to tide you over until the next payday, there are many financial options available. From secured loans ideal for homeowners looking to borrow large amounts to getting financial help from friends and family, the best method will depend on your circumstances.

Guarantor loans are one possibility and offer a range of advantages, especially for those who feel they have nowhere else to turn for financial help. Read on to learn more about the benefits of considering such an option.

Easily Accessible

Guarantor loans were designed for people struggling to borrow money from other sources due to having a poor credit score. As long as you can find someone over the age of 25 with a good credit rating to be your guarantor and you yourself are not bankrupt, in an IVA or debt management plan, then getting a guarantor loan is an option for anyone to consider. You do need to be able to afford repayments but the chances of being successful are much higher.

Borrow High Amounts

Due to having a guarantor who is used as a kind of safety net by the lender in case you cannot meet the repayments, these types of loan allow you to borrow large amounts. If your guarantor is a homeowner the amount able to borrow will be larger than if they are a tenant, making it a better choice if you need the money for expensive purchases.

Quick Approval

The process of taking out a guarantor loan is relatively quick, with most processed and the amount deposited in accounts less than 24 hours after a successful application has been made.  If you’ve sourced a guarantor and are in need of an unsecured loan, this offers a great solution.

Longer Terms

The repayment terms will depend on how much you borrow and how much you can afford to repay over the coming months. They are usually very flexible, with some guarantor loans lasting up to seven years where required, as opposed to payday loans usual 30-day deadlines.

Low Default Rates

Compared with its main rival of payday loans, guarantor loans generate far fewer problems. According to Citizens Advice they received just over 500 problems with them from April 2012 to 2015, compared with 29,000 regarding payday loans during the same period. While it is a smaller market this still shows a significantly less problematic area for borrowing.

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10/22/15 Debt , Insurance , Personal Finance # , , , , , ,

25 Worst Financial Mistakes Anyone Can Make

25 Worst Financial Mistakes Anyone Can Make

Anyone can make a mistake. They’re part of everyday life. Financial mistakes, however, can lead to problems for years to come if not corrected soon.

After talking to financial experts and others who have either experienced or seen other people make the worst financial mistakes of their lives, we compiled the following list of 25 of them. Many are common after graduating from college and starting a financial life on your own, but they can still happen to anyone at any age.

We should also note that these worst financial mistakes aren’t listed in any order. We’ll leave measuring their importance to you:

25 Worst Financial Mistakes

 

1. Not going to college

The average starting salary for a high school graduate is about $28,000. That figure almost doubles to $48,127 for college graduates in the class of 2014 with bachelor’s degrees, according to a salary survey by National Association of Colleges and Employers. Starting your working life by being that far behind in pay is one of the worst financial mistakes you can make.

2. Not paying off student loans fast

The average student loan debt for a college graduate is $28,400, according to the Institute for College Access and Success.

For a college grad who is earning some real money after four or more years of living like a student, it can be tempting to spend much of their new income before paying off debt. That’s one of the worst financial mistakes a graduate can make, says Alfred Poor, a college speaker and author of books about problems young people are having in the workplace.

“If college graduates tighten their belts and lower their expectations, and live like they only have the high school diploma, they will rapidly pay off their average $27,000 in student loans,” Poor says. “If they spend their whole salary on a more comfortable lifestyle, they could be struggling to pay off that debt for decades, and end up paying much more in interest.”

3. Paying off student loans too quickly

Paying off student loans quickly can also have a downside, says Steven Fox, a financial planner in San Diego with NextGenFinancialPlanning.com. If they use all of their extra income paying off student loans, they could be in financial trouble if they don’t put some in an emergency fund and lose their job or get in a car accident and have unexpected medical expenses, Fox says.

“They should really think about whether they should pay off their student loans as fast as they possibly can once they get their first job if it means that they’re doing so at the expense of not saving or investing anything,” he says. “Ending up with zero debt is good, but ending up with zero savings is very bad.”

An emergency could lead to borrowing money at a higher rate than what they were paying on student loans, says Fox, who reminds graduates that student loan interest is tax deductible for up to $2,500 for individuals making $80,000 or less without having to itemize. Continue reading

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Hi, I'm Aaron Crowe. Welcome to CashSmarter. I'm a personal finance freelance writer who enjoys spending my money wisely and using minimalism to make my money last longer while increasing income.