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Mortgage News, Personal Finance

5 Tips For Throwing A Virtual Super Bowl Party That Your Friends Will Actually Want To Attend

Can you throw a remote, budget-friendly Super Bowl party that’s actually fun? Absolutely; in fact, here are five ways to make 2021 the most memorable Super Bowl yet.Can you throw a remote, budget-friendly Super Bowl party that’s actually fun? Absolutely; in fact, here are five ways to make 2021 the most memorable Super Bowl yet.

The post 5 Tips For Throwing A Virtual Super Bowl Party That Your Friends Will Actually Want To Attend appeared first on Money Under 30.


Mortgage News, Personal Finance

Save on a Gym Membership With At-Home Workouts

Save on a Gym Membership with At-Home Workouts

Somewhat unsurprisingly, search traffic for “gym membership” peaks between January 3 and January 9, according to Google Trends. If you already belong to a gym you’ve probably noticed that things get pretty crowded every January. But if you want to save money this year, consider some of these free or inexpensive alternatives to a gym membership. 

Find out now: How much house can I afford?

Try At-Home Yoga

Save on a Gym Membership with At-Home Workouts

There are plenty of options for anyone who wants to save money by canceling their gym membership or skipping out on the usual early-January gym membership purchase. One option is at-home yoga. You can buy an inexpensive yoga mat, or just use a towel or the floor if you don’t want to commit to buying a mat. An internet search will turn up sample yoga routines or you can head to your local library for a book on yoga. If you know how to do a basic sun salutation, you can start off with that – and repeat until you feel like you’ve gotten a good workout. The cost? $0.

Related Article: The Best 3 Gyms for Your Wallet

Use YouTube

Save on a Gym Membership with At-Home Workouts

YouTube is a great resource if you want to try working out at home but you’re not sure which type of exercise is the best fit for you. You can find short videos and long videos, videos for beginners and for advanced users. There are videos with Pilates routines, body weight exercises, Zumba classes and more.

You can try one-off routines to get a feel for a particular style of exercise, a particular YouTube channel or a particular vlogger. But you can also commit to a series or program that, through the aid of YouTube videos, will take you on a multi-week fitness journey. The cost to you? $0.

Related Article: How to Cancel Your Gym Membership

Go Old-School

If taking up yoga or learning something like Pilates or Zumba through YouTube doesn’t sound like your speed, you can always go old-school with classic body weight exercises performed free of charge, in the comfort of your own home. That means push-ups, squats, lunges and other exercises that require no equipment.

There’s a lively online community devoted to helping people achieve their strength and fitness goals through body weight alone, without using free weights or any gym accoutrements. If you think you need to pay for a pricey gym membership to get the results you want, take a look at the information that’s out there on body weight training – you might be surprised by what’s possible.

Head Outside

OK, so this one isn’t technically “at home” but you can always hit the streets, head to a local park or set up in your backyard to get your exercise. Running and walking are popular forms of exercise, but you can also do the body weight training mentioned above. At first, you might feel a little self-conscious doing walking lunges in your yard or in the park, but the (free) fitness gains should help you overcome any initial embarrassment.

Bottom Line

Every January, gym owners count on consumers to buy pricey gym memberships and then never use them. They oversell gyms the way airline owners oversell flights, counting on a high number of no-shows. This year, why not prove them wrong and opt for an at-home workout regimen?

Photo credit: Â©, Â©, Â©

The post Save on a Gym Membership With At-Home Workouts appeared first on SmartAsset Blog.


Mortgage News

The Pros and Cons of Paying Off Your Debt Early

Woman paying off her debt early

Debt stinks. We all know this. The sensible move here is to pay off any and all debts as soon as possible, right? Not so fast. In some cases, paying a debt off early doesn’t save you all that much money. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of paying down debt before you have to.

Pro: You’ll save thousands of dollars in interest

You can’t take out a loan without paying interest. You also can’t carry a credit card balance without paying interest. And the longer you owe money, the more interest you’ll pay. Let’s say you buy a car for the price of $25,000, and you borrow $20,000 at an interest rate of 3 percent on a 60-month loan. That could mean more than $1,500 in interest payments over the course of five years. What a waste, right?

So whether it’s a car loan or credit card debt, the sooner you wipe it out, the more money you’ll save in interest payments, and depending on the balance, this could mean hundreds or even thousands of dollars. (See also: 15 Tips From People Who Paid Off an Incredible Amount of Debt)

Con: You may have paid off most of the loan interest already

Most loans have something called an "amortization schedule" that maps out how much you’ll pay in interest and how much you’ll pay in principal each month. With many loans — especially mortgages — you pay most of the interest in the early years and pay mostly principal later on.

For example, let’s say you have a 30-year loan of $300,000 with a 5 percent interest rate. Using this handy amortization calculator, this means you’ll pay $1,610 per month. (For simplicity purposes, I am not including taxes and insurance in this calculation.) A typical amortization schedule shows that you will pay $1,250 per month in interest payments at first. But toward the end of the lending period, your interest payments are much lower. By the time you have three years left on the loan, you’ll pay a little over $200 in interest per month and it will continue to decline from there.

If you are fairly late in the loan term, there’s not a major financial advantage to paying your loan off early. You’re practically borrowing money interest-free at this point, so you might as well hold onto your cash or use it for something else. (See also: 5 Debt Management Questions You’re Too Embarrassed to Ask)

Pro: You free up cash for other things

Your mortgage is $1,500 a month. Your car payment is $200 per month. Your student loan payment is $180. The minimum payment on your credit card balance is $250. If you’re locked into these payments each month, you may not have a lot of money left over for other needs or wants. Debt prevents you from having true financial flexibility. Pay those debts off early, and breathe easier knowing you’ve freed up a significant amount of cash.

Con: You could deplete your emergency fund

Your drive to pay off debt early may be strong, but where is that money coming from? It’s not easy for most people to pay off the $20,000 left on a mortgage in one fell swoop, for example. If you do have that much cash available, you need to make sure it’s not coming out of your emergency fund. It may feel good to pay off a debt, but when you have no money left to cover a medical emergency or job loss, you’re playing a dangerous game. It’s best to keep at least three months worth of living expenses on hand in cash, and avoid the temptation to raid it just to pay off a debt early. (See also: 7 Easy Ways to Build an Emergency Fund From $0)

Pro: You’ll sleep better

For many people, carrying debt from month to month is physically and mentally exhausting. It weighs on you. And that’s totally understandable. Everyone has their own comfort level with debt, and if you simply can’t stand the thought of even a small debt burden, pay those loans off in full if you can. In many cases, paying off a debt early offers a mental and financial freedom. (See also: How Getting More Sleep Helps Your Finances)

Con: You might stop building credit

Believe it or not, paying off debt early may actually hurt your credit. If you insist on always clearing debts in full long before they are due, you may cease to have enough credit history to get a favorable rating from credit agencies. As long as your debt burden is not too high, making consistent, regular payments on debts and paying bills on time is the best way to build strong credit.

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Want to know how to pay off your debt? You can payoff quickly, or slowly, but what is better? We’ve got the pro’s and cons of paying down debt before you have to, to give you management tips! | #debt #debtfree #moneymatters


Mortgage News, Personal Finance

7 Solid New Year’s Credit Resolutions for a Happier 2021

We’re not going to lie—2020 was a tough year for everyone. Between COVID-19 and pandemic-driven layoffs, we’re all ready to move on from last year. So, what are your new year’s credit resolutions for 2021? Do you want to improve your credit score, pay your bills on time or create a savings plan?

If you haven’t thought of any financial resolutions yet, don’t worry. We’ve got a few suggestions. Here are some tips on how to stay on top of your credit and make your money work for you in 2021:

  1. Get on Board with ExtraCredit
  2. Build Your Savings Account 
  3. Pay Bills on Time
  4. Get Your Taxes Done Early
  5. Open a Few Extra Credit Accounts
  6. Maintain a 30% Credit Utilization Rate
  7. Check Your Credit Score Regularly

1. Get on Board with ExtraCredit

The more you know about your financial profile, the better off you’ll be. You can monitor, build, earn, protect and restore your credit profile with ExtraCredit from Fully loaded and intuitive, ExtraCredit includes five powerful tools to help you stay on top of your money:

  • Build It: Build It adds information about your rent and bill-paying habits to your credit profile. Whenever you pay on time, you get kudos—and your on-time payments are reported to all three bureaus.
  • Guard It: A staggering 14.4 million people became victims of identity theft in 2019. Guard It comes with Dark Web Monitoring, which scans hidden sites and nefarious file sharing sites for consumer data breach information. Guard it also includes a Compromised Account Monitoring feature and valuable Identity Theft Insurance.
  • Track It: Believe it or not, you have at least 28 different FICO scores. That’s a lot to keep on top of. Thankfully, you can keep track of all of them through Track It. 
  • Reward It: When you sign up with ExtraCredit, you get a rewards card in the mail. It’s preloaded with a $5 signup bonus, and you earn more money every time you’re approved for a Reward It financial offer.
  • Restore It: Credit score looking a little low? Restore It connects you with a leading credit repair company in your state so that you can begin to solve problems on your profile. Better still, you get a signup discount at or at an equivalent leader in your area. 

2. Build Your Savings Account

Almost everyone could have done with a little extra money in 2020. So, what’s the best savings option on the market? Both savings accounts and money market accounts are Chime a go? Chime has a lot of neat features, including a clever automatic savings tool and a competitive 0.50% Annual Percentage Yield interest rate—10x the national average!

3. Pay Bills on Time

You might be surprised to learn that your payment history makes up 35% of your credit score. If you don’t pay your bills on time, your financial outlook can suffer in the long term—so do whatever you can to avoid late payments. If you’re busy or somewhat forgetful, stay on schedule by:

  • Automating payments
  • Setting reminders on your phone or computer
  • Writing payment dates on a calendar
  • Creating a bills spreadsheet

Does Your Credit Improve After 7 Years?

In a nutshell, if you have a delinquent debt on your credit report and you don’t do anything about it, it’ll generally drop off after seven years. Late payments are generally removed around the seven year mark, while bankruptcies usually stay on record for seven to 10 years. Unpaid collection accounts stay on record for about seven years—and that timeframe renews if you begin to pay and then stop again. Over time, delinquencies affect your credit score less and less.

4. Get Your Taxes Done Early

Enjoy doing your taxes? No, neither do we. There are benefits to filing early, though. If you file your taxes before the late-tax-season rush, you could get a faster refund. You’ll also reduce the chance of identity theft, avoid penalties and—if applicable—give yourself extra time to save for your tax bill.

5. Open a Few Extra Credit Accounts

The more account types you have in good standing on your credit report, the more likely you are to get approved when you go for a low-interest car loan, personal loan or mortgage. Lenders scrutinize your credit report—and they look for a good mix of account types.

Revolving accounts include credit cards, store cards and home equity lines of credit (HELOCs). Installment accounts are products like personal loans and car loans, which have fixed monthly payments. Open accounts, like charge cards and utility accounts, require payment in full each month. Your unique credit mix accounts for 10% of your credit score.

6. Maintain a 30% Credit Utilization Rate

Credit utilization ratio is the amount of credit you have available versus how much you’re using. If you regularly max out your credit card, your score will almost certainly go down. Instead, try to avoid using more than 30% of your available credit at any one time. If you have a card with a $1,000 credit limit, for example, stop spending when you reach the $300 mark. 

Your credit utilization rate accounts for a whopping 30% of your credit score. If you need to borrow a little more money, try asking for a limit increase to avoid messing up your ratio.

7. Check Your Credit Score Regularly

It’s important to check your credit score regularly. Checking your own credit score is a type of soft inquiry, which won’t harm your credit. If you know your credit score:

Whenever you apply for credit, lenders look at your credit score—and often, your entire credit report. This is known as a hard inquiry. Too many hard inquiries and your score could drop temporarily, so try to keep applications to a minimum. If you already know your credit score, you can gauge your likelihood of success in advance.

If you don’t already know your credit score, check out your Credit Report Card or sign up with ExtraCredit as soon as possible. 

Let’s face it—2020 was a doozy. If you follow a few of our new year’s credit resolutions, 2021 might be a bit better. Maybe you want to increase your credit score, or perhaps you’d like to build your savings account for the future. Either way, slay those at least one financial resolution and shine on in 2021.

Looking for more financial tips for 2021? Check out these helpful articles!

  • Important Tax Document Enclosed: 4 Tax Forms to Watch Your Mailbox For
  • 3 Important Steps Often Overlooked by Beginner Investors
  • 1099-C: What You Need to Know about the Cancellation of Debt Tax Form
  • Step-by-Step Guide for How to Do Taxes Yourself
  • What Is Going on with GameStop? How to Protect Yourself When Making Risky Investments

The post 7 Solid New Year’s Credit Resolutions for a Happier 2021 appeared first on


Money Tips, Mortgage News

You Can Now Request COVID-Related Mortgage Forbearance for Up to 15 Months

Some good news this morning for homeowners continuing to struggle to make ends meet thanks to COVID-19, which as the name implies has been going on for a while now. The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), which oversees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, has just announced an extension to the COVID forbearance period, which was [&hellip

The post You Can Now Request COVID-Related Mortgage Forbearance for Up to 15 Months first appeared on The Truth About Mortgage.


Money Management, Money Tips, Mortgage News, Mortgage Rates, Refinance

Don’t Freak Out About the Recent Mortgage Rate ‘Spike’

Posted on January 15th, 2021

Queue the panic. Mortgage rates have officially spiked and the media is all over it.

Yep, the average rate on a 30-year fixed mortgage increased from 2.65% to 2.79% this week, per Freddie Mac’s weekly survey.

Freddie Mac Chief Economist Sam Khater noted in the weekly news release that mortgage rates have been under pressure as Treasury yields have risen.

But he did stress that “while mortgage rates are expected to increase modestly in 2021, they will remain inarguably low.”

So he’s not panicking, even though the Washington Post and other news outlets are leading with articles about “mortgage rates spiking.”

When it comes down to it, a 14-basis point move isn’t what I’d refer to as a “spike,” but yes, mortgage rates are higher than they were last week.

But they are still well below the 3.65% average seen at this time a year ago.

Why Have Mortgage Rates Increased Lately?


  • 30-year fixed mortgage rates have fallen to and hovered close to record lows for months
  • It’s inevitable to see some upward pressure after such a long period of record-breaking movement
  • One driver could be the bond selloff, which lower prices and increases yields
  • This might relate to the Democrats winning the Senate and increasing stimulus spending

As noted, mortgage rates are no longer at record lows, and are in fact closer to 3% than 2%. So should we all freak out?

I’m going to go with no. While the media is using the word “spike” in their articles, perhaps to make its relatively boring weekly report a little more interesting, things aren’t that bad.

Remember, mortgage rates are only marginally higher, and probably not high enough to change anyone’s position on buying a home or refinancing their mortgage.

Sure, there’s a chance someone’s monthly mortgage payment now exceeds the max DTI allowed for the loan, but if you were cutting it that close, you’re probably buying too much home.

As to what’s causing the recent upward reversal, mortgage rate watcher Matthew Graham seems to think it relates to the bond sell-off as a result of the Democrats taking over the Senate.

Simply put, the government issues Treasuries to fund additional COVID-related stimulus, which while good for the economy and struggling households, increases bond supply.

The result is lower bond prices, which forces the accompanying yields (or interest rates) higher.

And because Treasuries correlate with long-term mortgage rates like the 30-year fixed, borrowers will pay more to finance their homes.

Is This the End of Low Mortgage Rates Forever?

  • Let us remember that mortgage rates started off 2021 at all-time record lows
  • So it’s not surprising for them to rise off those levels if there’s any pressure whatsoever
  • I fully expect mortgage rates to hit new lows at some point this year
  • But you’re always going to see ebbs and flows over the course of 365 days

While it’s easy to let your fears and emotions get the best of you, perhaps we shouldn’t call an end to the low-rate party just yet.

Ultimately, mortgage rates ebb and flow, similar to how stocks go up and down from day to day, or week to week.

Yes, it’s easy to get caught up in the psychology of it all and panic, but I just don’t believe we’ve seen the end of the low rates.

Additionally, there may even be more record lows in store for 2021.

Remember, the first week of 2021 resulted in new all-time lows for both the 30-year fixed and 15-year fixed, so it’s kind of far-fetched to sound the alarm.

This isn’t to say we don’t experience a period of relatively higher rates, it’s just that it could be short-lived.

Remember, the presidential inauguration is next week and there are thousands of National Guard protecting the Mall in Wasington D.C and holed up in the Capitol Building.

If that gives you confidence that good times are ahead, well, I don’t know what to tell you.

Not trying to be an alarmist, but there’s just too much uncertainty in the air for interest rates to flourish.

In short, bad news tends to lower rates, while good news increases them. I don’t see much good news, even with all that proposed government spending taken into account.

A month ago, the Federal Reserve said it would be keep its short-term interest rate near zero for the foreseeable future as the economy attempts to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

They also indicated that they’d continue to buy Treasuries and mortgage-backed securities (MBS) at the current pace until “substantial progress” is seen in the economy.

Call me a pessimist, but I don’t see anything positive happening with the economy this year, or even next year.

I think we’ve all been ignoring the elephant in the room while watching the stock market reach new all-time highs. At some point, reality will hit.

Ultimately, as long as they’re continuing to buy the mortgages this month and next, lenders will continue to make them at low, low rates.

Time will tell if rates will need to rise on long-term fixed mortgages as the Fed eventually exits the marketplace.

Is It Best to Lock Now or Wait?

  • Times like this exemplify the importance of locking in your mortgage rate
  • You are typically given the choice to lock or float your interest rate once you apply for a home loan
  • If you like what you see, lock it in and don’t give it another thought
  • If mortgage rates shoot up quickly, it could be wise to float and wait for things to calm down

My guess is fixed-rate mortgages will settle down and begin making their way back to lows seen earlier this month.

Of course, mortgage lenders are always quick to raise rates, and a lot more patient when it comes to lowering them (at our expense).

You can’t blame them though – they don’t want to get caught out if volatile rates change direction and they’re on the wrong end of that.

Times like these really exemplify the importance of locking in your mortgage rate. No one cares or complains until rates increase.

If you’re happy with your quoted rate, lock it in and forget about it.

If you’ve got some time before funding, maybe float a bit and wait for some improvement.

After all, the more time you have, the more chances you’ve got for rates to move lower.

And you can always lean on your loan officer or mortgage broker if you’re not sure what to do. Most of the experienced ones keep a keen eye on rates.

In summary, you don’t need to panic, but you should be aware of the fluid situation if you’re looking to refinance or buy a home in 2021.

It might also be a good time to consider how long you plan to stay in your home as well.

That could dictate your mortgage decision and whether or not to pay mortgage points for an even lower rate.


Money Tips, Mortgage News

Home Prices Are Expected to Rise Another 10% by Next November

Posted on December 21st, 2020

If you’re an existing homeowner, get excited, very excited.

A new forecast from Zillow says home prices are going to rise 10.3% from this November until November 2021.

That’s on top of the already stellar growth realized since around 2012, when home prices seemed to bottom and begin their meteoric and historic ascent.

Those fortunate to have purchased a home around that time are sitting really pretty, especially since they probably also have a fixed-rate mortgage in the 2-3% range.

This super bullish housing forecast is also good news for prospective home buyers, as it shows there’s still room for home prices to move higher, even if you didn’t get in early.

The caveat is that it has become increasingly difficult to win a bid on a quality property.

2021 Home Price Growth to Be Highest Since 2006

2021 home prices

  • Zillow economists are forecasting a 10.3% rise in home prices from November 2020 to November 2021
  • This would be the best gain for U.S. property values in nearly 15 years
  • Home price appreciation already hit records for both monthly and quarterly gains recently
  • The year 2021 is expected to start white-hot with a 3.6% gain by the end of February

Per Zillow, the typical home value, known as the Zillow Home Value Index (ZHVI) increased 1.1% from October to November to $263,351.

They refer to the ZHVI as “a smoothed, seasonally adjusted measure of the typical home value and market changes across a given region and housing type,” which generally reflects properties in the 35th to 65th percentile range (mid-market).

Anyway, the ZHVI has also risen 3% over the past three months, with both the monthly and quarterly gains the largest on record going all the way back to 1996.

This aggressive appreciation has home prices slated to chalk double-digit gains by next November, with Zillow economists forecasting a further 3.6% in the three months ending in February 2021, and 10.3% from November 2020 to November 2021.

That would push the typical home price in the United States to around $290,000, with $300,000 likely just around the corner in 2022.

For comparison sake, home values increased 7.5% since last year, perhaps slowed a bit by the COVID-19 pandemic when things came to a halt in spring.

What Will Drive Home Price Growth in 2021?

  • Continued low mortgage rates and limited housing inventory will be the theme
  • A new wave of Millennial and Gen-Z home buyers will also increase demand
  • And the hope of a COVID-19 vaccine should also fuel optimism for those sitting on the fence
  • All of these things will make the year 2021 yet another seller’s market

There are a number of things working in favor of even higher home prices in 2021, some of which are new and some of which are old.

As for the familiar stuff, it’s the continued availability of record low mortgage rates, which keep affordability in check despite ever-higher asking prices.

And 2021 mortgage rate predictions look similarly solid for those wondering if they’ll stick around.

Another ongoing issue that has pushed home prices higher has been limited housing inventory, which remains historically low with just a couple months of supply.

An emerging trend that has been known for a few years is the wave of prospective home buyers coming of age.

The typical first-time home buyer age is 34 years old, and there are about 45 million individuals who will celebrate that birthday over the next decade.

Collectively, we’ve got ultra-low mortgage rates, super limited inventory, and a growing number of potential home buyers.

It doesn’t take much effort to figure out what happens to home prices.

Sprinkle in a COVID-19 vaccine and you’ve got even more optimism, and perhaps more urgency for young folks to get serious and start families.

Ironically, the pandemic may accelerate a lot of plans as opposed to slow them down as people focus on what matters, not the trivial stuff.

Read more: 2021 Mortgage and Housing Market Predictions

About the Author: Colin Robertson

Before creating this blog, Colin worked as an account executive for a wholesale mortgage lender in Los Angeles. He has been writing passionately about mortgages for nearly 15 years.