What is a Co-Signer on a Loan?

Man in a Suit Offers to Sign a Contract

If you have prime credit, then you have a winning ticket toward securing the investments that you need toward a bright future. From auto loans to mortgages, those with prime credit are often rewarded for their smart spending.

But if friends and family have less than perfect credit, you might soon find yourself wondering "What is a co-signer on a loan?" Co-signing a loan allows someone with good credit to help out someone who isn't as financially secure. While this can be a lifesaving gesture to those who are building a new life, co-signing a loan is not without risk. Find out whether or not you should co-sign in our guide to personal finance. Does co-signing a loan affect credit?

What are the Perks of Co-Signing a Loan?

Sometimes good people end up with bad credit. Maybe your spouse is working off college credit card debt, or your son or daughter has no credit history at all. In these cases, you can become a co-signer to a loan in order to look more appealing to lenders. This can help pave the way for your friend or family member to become more independent by securing that car, home, or other investment that they need for a better tomorrow.

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How Does a 401k Work When You Retire?

401k plan

We all know that it's wise to put away money for the future, but not everyone knows what happens after retirement comes. So, how does a 401k work when you retire? The answer isn't so simple. Depending on your age and financial needs, you might spend your retirement funds a little differently than your coworker or neighbor. From qualified distributions to 401k rollovers, we'll let you know all the ins and outs of your 401k retirement plan so you can make the best decisions possible about your future.

Qualified Distributions

Qualified distributions are the most traditional way to withdraw money from your retirement fund, but you have to meet certain criteria to get this penalty-free funding. You must be over the age of 59.5 in order to avoid the 10 percent early withdrawal fee. Depending on your plan, your money may or may not be subject to income taxes. Traditional 401k funding is taxed, while Roth IRA money is not as long - provided you have had the account for at least five years.

Early Withdrawal

Let's say something comes up unexpectedly and you need to dip into your 401k retirement money early. You're free to do so, but you'll have to pay a fee. Before the age of 55, you'll have to pay a 10 percent early withdrawal fee on your money. Between the ages of 55 and 59.5, you may be able to avoid it. However, you can only withdraw money from the 401k from your previous employer. This does not apply to plans from any other employers in the past.

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Co-Signer vs. Co-Borrower Rights

Meeting in a bank

When making a large investment, sometimes it takes a team to get the job done - and that's where the co-signer comes in. What is a co-signer on a loan? A co-signer is someone who agrees to share the responsibility of the financial investment of another party. Maybe a parent will co-sign an auto loan for a son or daughter, maybe a spouse will co-sign a loan for a mortgage. And while most partnerships go off without a hitch, it's important to be aware of your co-signer vs. co-borrower rights to protect yourself from issues down the line. In this guide, we'll go through the pros and cons of co-signing - and what to do if you need to get out of a bad deal!

Getting a Loan on Your Own

When you're seeking a great loan, you need to present yourself as the best candidate possible to get the best deal possible. Let's say you have prime credit. That means your credit score is nearly perfect, which makes you a very desirable candidate for potential lenders. A good credit score indicates that you have a record of paying off past debts promptly, so there's a low risk of lending you the money that you request. Prime credit holders generally have very little issue getting the auto loans, mortgages, and other payments that they seek. But what if you have less than perfect credit? That's where the problem comes in. A lower credit score indicates that you have had a few issues paying off your debts, and lenders will notice. You are seen as a higher risk candidate, so there's a chance that your application will be rejected.

Co-Signing a Loan

If you find yourself outside the prime credit zone, one way to give lenders more confidence is to find a co-signer. A co-signer is someone with a good, established credit history who looks more trustworthy to the lender. Often, co-signers are close family members like parents or spouses, but they can be anyone who is willing to lend a helping hand. However, the co-signer takes on the burden of responsibility if you drop the ball on your payments. Let's say you skip a payment on your auto loan. That means both you and your co-signer are legally responsible for the debts accrued. This can be a huge problem for all parties involved - and why it's so crucial to only co-sign loans for people whom you can trust.

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Benefits and Drawbacks of Online Shopping

Shopping Online

While brick and mortar stores used to reign the retail world, online shopping has become the new king of the industry. From textbooks to clothing to furniture, more and more people are heading online for future purchases. But what are the benefits and drawbacks of online shopping?

Advantages

Online shopping wouldn't be as popular as it is without tons of perks. Whether you're short or time or searching for some specific, there are tons of benefits of online shopping that any savvy spender can appreciate:

  • Convenience: No need to beat traffic and circle the parking lot of the local shops. You can access thousands of online marketplaces from the comfort of your own home on your laptop or even a smartphone.
  • Variety: While physical stores have limited shelf space to budget, online shops do not. That means you might have different and more interesting choices to explore, like unique features and colors than traditional stores offer.
  • Comparison: If you want to compare prices at different shops, you'll have to make multiple trips. Not so with the online marketplace. Some sites even offer one-click comparison shopping for your convenience.

Disadvantages

Shopping online might be a fun experience, but it's not without its share of disadvantages. Here are just a few of the concerns that you may have when shopping online:

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How to Avoid Debt After Bankruptcy

bankruptcy

Filing for bankruptcy can be a stressful time. While one chapter may be closing, you might worry about a new set of problems that could affect your financial future. How will this impact your credit score? How will this impact your future investments? And most importantly, how can you avoid getting in the same situation again? In this guide, we'll go through a few strategies to learn how to avoid debt after filing for bankruptcy. With the right planning and knowledge, you can set yourself up for brighter days ahead!

1. Find Out What Went Wrong

It's good to put the past behind you, but when it comes to your finances, it's important to come to terms with what went wrong in the first place. Think of performing a financial autopsy to see what decisions led to filing bankruptcy. What could you have done to prevent it? Maybe you need to learn how to reduce credit card debt, maybe you needed a larger rainy day fund, maybe you need to brush up on your budget. Identifying the key factors that led to bankruptcy can help you find a way to resolve them well before you get in the red.

2. Learn How to Budget

If you want to live within your means, you need to strategize. This means setting a realistic budget - and sticking to it! You'll need to be honest with yourself. Don't punish yourself with a skimpy budget that you'll never keep, but don't forget that you'll need to commit to some compromises. Your top priority is getting bills under control every month. Bills related to your health, safety, and security are the most important. See if you can cut back on non-essentials, like shopping and subscription services. However, don't forget to set a little bit aside for an emergency fund.

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Finance Tips for Married Couples

Credit Cards

Money management is one of the top stressors for married couples, and it's not hard to see why! While monthly bills and old debts are difficult enough to manage as a single person, it's even more daunting to manage as a couple. However, a little financial advice can go a long way. Check out our top finance tips for married couples, and see which strategies you can work into your new life together. You might find that just a few adjustments can have a huge impact on your marriage - and your bank account!

Prioritizing Goals

As you know, communication is essential for a happy and healthy marriage. Financial planning is no different. While some people get uncomfortable when talking about money, setting your priorities with your significant other is crucial when working toward your future goals. Do you aspire to own a house? Do you want to own a business? These are long-term goals that are worth keeping in mind while budgeting. What about short-term goals? Maybe you want to plan a fun vacation together or revamp your kitchen. Set a plan in motion to achieve the life that you want.

Managing Money

One of the most important and most personal decisions is whether or not to combine your money. Some couples prefer to throw all of their money into one account, while others prefer to keep assets separate. Maintaining separate accounts with one joint account is a good compromise that balances the best of both worlds. This allows each individual some financial independence, but also creates a common pool of funds to use collectively for bills and other expenses. However, it's a good idea to weigh the pros and cons of various methods to figure out which will work the best for your particular household.

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What is a Debt Snowball?

Credit Cards

Even though everyone tries to make good financial decisions, sometimes a little debt can spiral out of control. Suddenly, you find yourself with a pile of bills and a whole lot of stress. So what do you do? Create a plan! The debt snowball method is a way of tackling your debt in small and manageable steps, so you can easily make progress without feeling overwhelmed. Let's go into the basics of the debt snowball method, and learn how to get out of debt!

Step 1: Make a List

Before you can pay off all your debts, you need to know exactly who and what you need to pay. Make a list of all your debts in order of smallest to largest. For now, ignore the interest rate and just pay attention to the total amount owed. Here is an example:

  • Credit Card: $1,000
  • Auto Payment: $3,000
  • Student Loans: $10,000
  • Mortgage: $50,000

This list will become your blueprint for debt reduction. From now on, you will pay the minimum payment on every bill on your list - except for the smallest. The smallest bill is your first priority for elimination. That means any spare cash that you encounter will go into paying that bill until it is fully paid off. In this example, you would pay the minimum amounts on your auto payments and student loans. But any money you obtain through a second job, gifts, or budgeting will go toward your $1,000 credit card bill. Once the credit card bill is paid, repeat the process for your auto payment and so forth.

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What is Credit Card Consolidation?

Credit Cards

If you’re up to your eyeballs in credit card debt and drowning in the chaos of juggling multiple payments and due dates, credit card consolidation might be a good solution for getting you back on track.

How Credit Card Consolidation Works

Just like it sounds, credit card consolidation takes all of your credit card debt and combines it into one lower-interest loan. That means you only have one bill, one monthly payment, and the security of knowing exactly what you owe and what kind of progress you’re making.

Your Options

Balance Transfers

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Can I Have a Credit Limit That’s Too High?

Credit Card

Having a lot of available credit sounds good, right? Well, let’s think about this for a second. Lenders are in the business of making money off the interest you pay, so increasing your amount of available credit is a technique for adding to their profitability. But what’s best for your situation?

What is Available Credit?

Simply put, your available credit is the amount that the bank or lender has agreed to loan you. It’s based on your credit limit minus the balance you owe. Lenders decide how much credit to make available based on your income and credit score, which basically tells them how big of a risk it is to lend to you. They look at several factors, including whether you pay your bills on time and if you’ve ever defaulted on a credit obligation in the past.

Should I Increase My Credit Limit?

Sometimes people try to raise their credit scores by increasing the limits on their credit cards or applying for new ones. That’s fine, but it’s important that you understand your credit utilization ratio and how it affects your credit score. That’s the ratio of how much of your available credit is being used. Yes, increasing your credit limits may help boost your credit rating, but if you max out your available credit, you could actually hurt your score. Remember, more available credit comes with more danger of getting into debt you can’t manage.

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Don’t Fall for These Credit-Building Myths

Credit Building Myths

If you’re concerned about ​how to build credit, don’t fall for these myths for improving your credit score. It’s possible to achieve a good credit score, but don’t waste your time focusing on the wrong things. If you can establish a good track record of consistent payments, along with a diverse mix of the types of credit you have, you can ​build up a good credit score​.

Myth #1: Removing Old Inquiries

Every time you apply for a loan, creditors pull your credit report with a “hard” inquiry. This causes your score to go down because it shows you want more credit and more risk. Other inquiries, like offers you receive in the mail or from potential employers, are considered “soft.” You may have heard that if you have more soft inquiries, it can bump the hard inquiries off, but don’t spend time trying to generate more soft inquiries because this is not a major factor in your credit score.

Myth #2: Closing Old Accounts

Although it seems like closing accounts will help improve your score, it won’t, and it could actually hurt it. Why? Because it could shorten your credit history and reflect a smaller amount of available credit, neither of which helps your cause. You want your credit history to be long, and your utilization rate, or how much available credit you’re using, low.

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