How to Open a Bank Account

Bank Account

Although it may seem like an intimidating process, opening a bank account is actually quick and easy as long as you are prepared. Be sure to have the required documents on hand, whether you are applying online or in person, so that the process runs smoothly. Wondering how to open a bank account or which account is right for you? Read on below for quick tips.

Should I Choose a Checking or Savings Account?

Deciding on a checking or savings account is a matter of personal preference depending on your financial situation.

A checking account may be right for you if you are looking to:

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Financial Advice: Learn How to Apply for a Credit Card

Credit Cards

A credit card is far more than just a piece of plastic. Credit cards are incredibly convenient forms of payment that allow you to make transactions nearly anywhere, and when used correctly, they can help you build your credit as well. But, some people find themselves frustrated when they fail to get approved for the card that they want. We've done the research to find out why people get approved and declined, so you can fill out that application with confidence. Find out how to apply for a credit card successfully below!

Credit Score

Do you know your credit score? This single number can have a major impact on the approval or denial of your application. Generally speaking, credit card companies want to enroll customers with good or excellent credit. That means you should shoot for a score of 690 or higher for the best luck. If you fall below that threshold, you might consider an option like a secure card that can boost your credit score over time.

Debt Level

Your credit score isn't just about how much money you have, but also how much you owe. Your debt is accounted for nearly one-third of your total credit score, so it pays to get into good habits. If you constantly max out your credit cards, this may affect your ability to get another card. Try to keep your balance under 30 percent of your credit limit. Then, don't forget to pay off your balance as fast as possible. Options like payday loans or cash advances can be valuable lifelines if something unexpected drains your finances, so you don't fall behind.

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What are the Best Ways to Establish Credit?

Credit Score Sign

Your credit score is a small number that can have an enormous impact on your life. From the cars that you drive to the homes that you own, your credit history can open - and close - many doors to opportunity that greatly affect your quality of life. That's why so many are on the hunt for the best way to establish credit. The good news: It's easier than you think! In this guide, we'll walk you through some of the steps that you can take to boost your credit score. With a little research and hard work, your financial future will be brighter than ever!

Building Credit

While some people jump right into credit card applications, it's wise to start with a secured credit card to safely build up your credit. Just what exactly is a secured credit card? It's a credit card that is backed by a cash deposit, so it's considered very low risk for both you and the lender. While secured credit cards are usually not a long term solution, they are terrific tools to build your credit in the short term. Once you've established yourself as a responsible cardholder, you can get a traditional credit card much more easily. Consider researching different secured cards online to make sure you choose a reputable company with low annual fees. There are many different companies to explore.

Additionally, you have a few other avenues to boost your credit score. Credit-builder loans were designed specifically to help new customers build up their credit, so you could check into your credit union or bank to see if this service is offered. If you need extra funds to get your account started, consider services like cash advances to get the ball rolling. You could also pair up with someone who will act as a co-signer or will give you authorized access on their credit card. Just be sure to talk openly and honestly about the terms of the partnership before you sign anything!

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How Much Money Do You Need for Retirement?

Money Savings

While you may daydream at your desk about your retirement plans, retirement is a long way in the distance for most of us. However, it's never too early to think about your future finances. So, how much money do you need for retirement? The answer is a little different for every person, but we have expert guidance to help you make the best informed decision for your present and future goals. Let's go through the steps to calculate what you need!

Rule of Thumb

Few of us want to work well into our golden years, so it's important to think strategically. Your savings need to be significant enough to support your lifestyle, but don't forget about funds from Social Security. Generally speaking, experts suggest that you will need to replace anywhere from 70 to 90 percent of your income through a combination of savings and Social Security. That may be a big number, but remember: You've got plenty of time if you start early!

Retirement Needs

What exactly will you need when you retire? Think about your current lifestyle, and try to imagine a few decades in the future. Your brand new home may be paid in full at that point, but will you want to spend extra time visiting the grandkids or indulging in your favorite expensive hobbies? This may shift your figures around a bit. Don't forget: Once you're retired, you aren't saving for retirement anymore. Make a list of all the different expenses you currently have and think about your dream retirement scenario.

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How Much Money Should I Save?

Money Savings

After your paycheck has been deposited and your bills have been paid, you're probably all set to spend some cash. But, there's that nagging question in the back of your mind: "How much money should I save?" Whether you're a shopaholic or a frugal spender, it's well worth your time to set some money aside for future investments. In this guide, we'll explain how to maximize your savings without feeling strapped for cash!

The Magic Number

While everyone has different income levels and budgets, saving 20 percent of your paycheck is the golden standard for healthy savings. This formula works well for many, but you'll have to do some number crunching to determine if it's right for you. Those in the higher income brackets may feel comfortable saving even more, while those with limited incomes may have to lower that percentage significantly. The important thing is to keep saving, and every little bit will add up with time.

Establish Your Goal

So, why are we saving 20 percent? This is the recommended figure to achieve financial independence later in life. Sure, your golden years may be well into the future, but you can accumulate quite the sum of money if you get into the habit of saving 20 percent of each paycheck. Another figure to keep in mind: Multiply your annual living expenses by 25 to determine the lump sum that you need for financial independence. While that figure may be daunting at first, remember that you have decades to build up your financial reserves. In fact, experts estimate that it takes just over 40 years to reach those goals. And what if you can't reach that 20 percent figure? Any saving is better than no saving, so do what you can. You can also look into options like title loans and cash advances for extra money.

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Real Estate 101: How to Save for a New Home While Paying Rent

House mortgage loan

Whether you've settled into a tiny urban studio or a quaint rental house, renting can be an appealing short-term option for many. However, most renters daydream about that perfect home that they can enjoy for years. In fact, two-third of those surveyed in a Wells Fargo survey reported that home ownership was seen as a major goal in life. What's stopping the average renter from packing up and moving into that dream home? Cost. But with a little planning, nearly anyone can save up a great down payment. Find out how to save for a new home while paying rent!

Eliminate Your Debts

First things first: Do you have any credit card debt? It's difficult to move into your future investments without settling your past debts. Though you may feel like you are two steps behind while sinking money into your credit card bills, this is actually a huge step forward. Credit card debt typically carries a high interest rate, which can put a major damper on your funds. If you eliminate this source, you'll free up quite a bit more money to shift into your savings account. Also, a debt-free slate will make you much more attractive to potential lenders. It's hard to secure a great rate for a mortgage with a low credit score or high debt-to-income ratio. Put your best foot forward and take care of your debt sooner rather than later!

Utilize Your Raises

The next time you score that big promotion, use the pay bump as an easy way to save up for that down payment. Let's say you receive an extra $1,000 per year after your last evaluation. Rather than using your extra income for extra gadgets and goods, consider moving that sum directly to savings. You'll still live comfortably off of your old salary as usual, while growing your house fund month by month. What if you haven't gotten a raise? Don't be afraid to ask for one. Just be sure to do the research on average salaries to show that you mean business.

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What are Savings Bonds?

Savings Bonds

Savings bonds have been in rotation since 1941, so many people associate them with the World War II era. However, these investments are still popular today - and with good reason! A savings bond may be one of the safest and smartest investments that you can make. Plus, they carry a number of unique benefits that you won't find from any old check or stock portfolio. Learn all about the advantages of savings bonds, and get ready to invest in your future!

A Safe Investment

Savings bonds are known for being a safe and secure way to invest your money, but why is that? Bonds are backed by the federal government, which can be a huge benefit to you. This means that bonds are quite a bit more stable than a riskier investment, like the stock market. While you can't get the funds as quickly as a cash advance or a loan, the advantages are often worth the wait. And even if you lose the certificate itself, you can get a replacement. Just fill out a Form PDF 1048 from a financial institution with your information, and you can get a brand new certificate promptly.

Accessible Funding

Savings bonds are also quite versatile. While some investments require a huge amount of money up front, you can get a savings bond with as little as 25 dollars! That's one reason that savings bonds are such a popular choice for graduation gifts. Plus, the bond will mature and increase in value with time. So, that 25 dollar investment can grow to double the size as it matures! Unlike stocks, there are no seller's fees to worry about. Where can you get a savings bond?

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Why Do Mortgage Loans Get Declined?

House mortgage loan

It takes a huge amount of work to get your mortgage loan in top shape: hours of paperwork, weeks of phone tag, and endless meetings. After all that planning and preparation, getting declined for your mortgage loan can feel truly devastating. But, all is not lost! In this guide, we discuss the most common reasons that lenders deny your loan. With a little research, you can use this information to secure your dream home in the future!

Credit History

It's amazing how much information lenders can pull from just one number! Your credit score is one of the most important variables that lenders use when weighing your loan approval. A FICO score of less than 620 is seen as undesirable, so consider that when looking over your annual credit score. Also, bad marks on your credit report can turn lenders away. Events like foreclosures and bankruptcy may drop your score temporarily.

Income to Debt Ratio

While your past is important to lenders, your present is just as important! Lenders assess whether you can afford your mortgage using the income to debt ratio. This determines whether your current income can support your upcoming investment. Proper documentation can help you strengthen your case, so dig out those old tax returns and financial records.

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Tips and Tricks on Budgeting for College Students

Money Savings

Between expensive textbooks and costly tuition and even late night study snacks, college can be a seriously expensive time for students! So, how do you stay afloat during these times? It just takes a little planning. Just like any other subject in school, students can study to improve their financial skills. One of the most important tools in your toolbox is a good old fashioned budget.

Support Team

First, who is paying for college? Are you footing the bill yourself, or do you have help from your family? While many people feel reserved when talking about money, it's important for you to have a clear picture of your finances. Take a little time to meet with your parents, guardians, partner, or any other contributors to your college experience. This allows everyone to go over expectations, so you can budget more effectively for the upcoming semester and beyond. This is also an excellent time to work through your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which determines your eligibility for financial aid.

Pre-College Costs

Even before you set up your dorm room, there are many expenses to consider!

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Avoid These Common Financial Mistakes and Gain Control of Your Future

Money Savings

Everyone has money problems, right? Or do they? These common financial mistakes can mean the difference between living under severe stress or having a safety net to get you through the tough times. Imagine not having to worry about money anymore! Stop making these mistakes, and you won’t have to:

Living Paycheck to Paycheck

No one actually wants to live paycheck to paycheck, but it often just becomes a habit. Sit down and take a hard look at your finances. Do you really need to spend every single dollar? What happens if you have an emergency? Would you have to get a loan or a cash advance? It’s time to make some choices about how you’re spending your money and whether you need additional income.

Excess Spending

How do you spend your money? Do you splurge on big, expensive items? Do you buy a lot of cheap little things? Whip out your calculator and add up how much your coffee, lunches out, and movie nights cost. $25 a week on lattes adds up to $1,300 a year, which is a big chunk of change that could go toward paying down debt. Create a budget and stick to it.

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