Archive for September, 2008
Losing control of your money by placing it in investments is always scary, but with all the recent trouble on Wall Street it is doubly so. It is always hard to know what companies and industries are good places to put your hard-earned money, but this should not stop people from making these investments. Luckily there are people who research companies and investments full-time, and hiring one of these investment professionals is a good idea if you don’t have much knowledge or experience.
In this week’s Smart Money Connections, we will take a look at what the advantages and disadvantages of using a financial professional. We’ll also examine the differences there are between investment and insurance professionals, in addition to talking about what questions you should ask someone before hiring them to manage your money. As always, we hope you not only watch the conversation, but join in yourself and get your specific questions answered.
Home ownership is always a big and scary step under any circumstances, but in this day and age with all the issues in the financial world, it has become an even scarier step. The good news is that there is a lot of information out there to help you educate yourself so you know what to expect when buying your first house. This week’s Smart Money Connections broadcast & webcast are two great places to get this information.
There are also quite a few websites out there to help you decide if you are financially ready to take the homeownership plunge. To start with, there are many mortgage calculators online you can use to see what your monthly payments are likely to be. One the I especially like is Mortgage Calculator. This website not only lets you know what your monthly payment will be based on the loan amount and interest, but it also shows you how much money you will actually pay over the course of your mortgage and it also shows how much of each year’s payments will be for interest & principle. These kinds of calculators are very helpful in getting a big picture of the life of your home loan.
Another important website to be familiar with is The US Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD). There is a lot of excellent information available from HUD that includes an section on avoiding foreclosures, and another on HUD Approved Housing Counseling Agencies that gives people info on buying a home, renting, defaults, foreclosures, credit issues, and reverse mortgages. This is just the tip of the iceberg of the vast knowledge and information you can get from the HUD’s website.
There is a lot of help and knowledge out there for those buying a home, both online and in books and magazines. We have created a list of websites on mortgages and home buying at http://delicious.com/smartinvesting/mortgage. If you have further questions or are looking for more information, visit your local library! Librarians may not have all the answers you’re looking for, but they know where and how to find them for you.
We’ve all seen commercials that show the hazards of not knowing what your credit rating is. But what really does your credit rating tell banks and lenders about your financial past? What is the difference between a rating of 400 and 600? How much does having one delinquent loan affect it? What do the three credit reporting agencies do, and why are there three of them anyways? These are just some of the questions we’ll be taking a look at on this Wednesday’s Smart Money Connections.
Most people do not know that they are given the right to a copy of their credit report from each of the three credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) by the Federal government. There is an online brochure about how to request a copy of your reports on the FTC website: http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/consumer/credit/cre34.shtm.
One reason to get a free report is to make sure everything on it is correct. It is especially important when you are looking at buying a big ticket item like a house or car because it can prevent you from making this purchase if things are wrong on your report. Another reason to regularly look at your credit report is to make sure you haven’t been a victim of identity theft. If you have, a credit card may be illegally opened in your name with your social security number. When they make charges but don’t pay for them, it will have a bad effect on your credit.
Credit cards are so prevalent in today’s society that I’m sure everyone reading this has at least 1 or 2 cards that carry a balance on them. In theory, they are wonderful since they let you borrow money against your next pay check and also give you the ability to not have to carry so much cash with you to make purchases. The problem is, credit card companies make it way too easy to spend money you don’t have and it is really easy to get in over your head in debt.
On this week’s Smart Money Connections (Wednesday September 10 @ 6:30pm), we’ll be taking a closer look at credit cards and have experts on-hand to answer your questions about them. This episode was inspired by the Frontline program Secret History of the Credit Card. If you would like more information on this topic, take a look at their homepage. The full 60-minute program is available to view online, as is a lot of other information about this multi-billion dollar industry.
Deciding on how to invest your hard-earned money can be a hard decision since there are many options out there. On this week’s program we are looking at the pros and cons of different investment vehicles. We’ll look at questions like:
- Why should I buy mutual funds instead of individual stocks or bonds?
- How are preferred and common stocks different?
- What shorter term investments are out there to save for college?
These Resource Guides cover a wide range of topic from different kinds of investments, bank products and securities, along with information on investment risk and choosing investment professionals. As you can see, there is a lot of valuable information here to help you gear up to become a successful investor.
Check this, and the rest of the Smart Investing @ Your Library website to educate yourself on what is available for you to invest in!