Browsing posts in: Loans

Get Your Business Rolling!

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As a small business owner, one of the many challenges that I faced was financing. I think I speak for others when I say that business loans are one of the biggest challenges for SMBs today.

The reason I say this is that banks are tightening their requirements when it comes to approving individuals for business loans. Regardless, you need capital to grease the wheels of your business.

So, I got thinking. Where is the best place to apply for a business loan?

Remember, chance favors the prepared mind. So, I set about doing my research on precisely what I need the money for, what loan would best suit my needs, and which lender could best accommodate me.

Every business needs liquidity to stay operational. But when you’re applying for a loan, you need to have a blueprint of how that loan is going to help your business grow.

As a small business owner, I have to think carefully about the specific type of loan that I need. Since there are so many lenders out there, cost becomes an important consideration.

The terms and conditions of the loan (payback period, interest rates, early payoff penalties etc.) are paramount. Naturally, your credit score is going to come into the reckoning as well.

Fortunately, I maintained a credit score of around 770 for quite some time, thanks to regular repayments of my bills, low credit utilization, and a rather limited number of inquiries for additional lines of credit.

Over the years, I learned that one of the best ways to manage your credit score is to diversify the types of credit that you have available. In this vein, mortgages, auto loans, student loans, credit cards, and store credit will help you.

When you are managing your credit, you want to be sure that you shop around for the most appropriate business loan. I like to use credit loan aggregators services since these allow me to do comparative shopping.

Once you’ve got a short list of lenders, you can start to narrow them down even further according to the types of services they offer.

As I said earlier, I am in the process of expanding my business operations. I want to branch out into other cities by marketing my home-based business on the web. To do this, I need to create video retargeting content, increase my marketing budget, and employ the services of SEO experts.

Fortunately, I’ve been in business for several years now and this makes it easier to apply for a loan. As soon as you have a history of revenue streams, you are looked at more favorably by banks and non-bank lenders.

I’ve seen many of my friends being turned down because they were relative newcomers to the scene, and still operating in their first year of business. Remember this: Lenders want to see your ability to repay the loan, and this is why startups face so much pressure all the time.

If you’re wondering about different types of small business loans, consider that you can use different types of credit facilities. These include crowdfunding, microloans, business credit cards, and even loans from friends and family.

I don’t recommend the latter option since you don’t want your personal relationships to sour if your business does. My for-profit business has been fairly stable over time, and I needed to expand operations to keep on growing.

I didn’t want to go the bank route since I didn’t want to provide collateral. Banks typically take a little bit longer to approve loans than non-bank lenders, and that may work for some people.

The average SBA loan ranges between $5,000 on the low end and $5 million on the high-end. Small businesses like mine find it a little more difficult to get loan approval because our revenue streams are so much lower.

That’s the reason decided to go with a non-bank lender over the Internet. When you’re looking for quick funding options and smaller lives of credit, you can certainly go with an online lender. I secured a loan of $45,000 through online lenders at a rather favorable repayment term.

My business’s turnover is $65,000 per annum, which fits rather snugly into the requirement zone of $50,000 – $150,000. Be sure that you are within that range when you are applying for a small business loan.

FYI: before you apply for your small business loan, I recommend getting a free copy of your credit report from any of the top 3 credit reporting agencies. You can also use your credit card provider’s website to check your personal credit score.


You Told Me So

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When we were going through the process of getting a mortgage, we shopped around with a lot of different lenders and ended up with a company that we were…luke-warm about after it was all said and done.

The experience, itself, wasn’t exactly pleasurable. I know it’s stressful anytime you buy a house, etc. etc., but there were some things I didn’t share that were really frustrating. But the one GREAT thing this lender had that no one else could compete with was a stellar interest rate. We got our loan at a 2.75% APR!!!

At that time, a handful (maybe 2 or 3?) of commenters mentioned the option of perhaps rolling some of our student loan debt into the house. Our loan was for well below the appraisal price of the home, so this could have been an option (note: not for all the student loans, but a portion of it).

Hubs and I talked about it and decided against it. Ultimately, we both just felt a little “yucky” at the thought of rolling student loan debt into the house. It just didn’t sit right with us and we took that as a sign that we should probably do something different. The plan was always to look into student loan consolidation companies after the mortgage went through.

When the mortgage was finally funded in early November, I started shopping around just a couple weeks later.

First I was denied by a place. (update: the “negative mark” was, indeed, my delinquent account I’d mentioned in this post. It’s old enough that it should be off my report – and it has, indeed, fallen off of 2 of the 3 credit agencies, but it’s still sitting on the third. I’ve completed a formal dispute so hopefully this will be rectified soon).

And then I discovered that other places really couldn’t offer better rates at all! Here’s a sampling of rates that I was offered:

6.99%

6.49%

5.37%

My current student loan interest rates range from 5.8 – 6.5, so there’s not even really much of a savings compared to what I currently pay.

And now I just kind of feel foolish. I feel like I should have listened to YOU and put some of that student loan debt in with the house debt. Ugh! I guess hindsight is 20/20, right?

This has stalled plans a bit in regard to the student loan consolidation. I’m just not crazy about a 5.37% APR. Yes, it’s lower than my current interest rate. But is it low enough to go through all the paperwork hassles and the fact that I’d now have one GIANT loan instead of multiple, smaller loans to tackle?

I don’t know.

And, that must be balanced against the fact that I truly despise our current lender, Navient.

Again, I just don’t know.

I’ve been doing these balance transfers on a credit card I don’t use. It has a limit of $7,500 and allows me to do balance transfers at a 0% APR for 12 months at a 3% initiation fee (note: this is the current “deal” as of today. In the past, I’ve been able to score as low as a 2% initiation fee, but for a shorter amount of time – I believe 6 months; That “deal” isn’t showing up anymore so it may have been discontinued).

Anyway – that’s the best rate I can get. But that’s only $7,500 at a time and I still have a MOUNTAIN of debt to contend with (most recent debt update here).

So I’m kind of at a loss. Here’s what I’m thinking in terms of a plan moving forward (though I’d love to hear your thoughts, too, so please chime in!):

  • I’ll keep all the subsidized loans with Navient (I’m receiving forgiveness on unpaid interest through August). I’ll pay minimums on those to reap the interest-forgiveness benefits.
  • I’ll continue doing these balance transfers to reap the benefits of the lower interest (with the note that I’m always EXTRA CAREFUL to ensure they are fully paid off by the deadline so I don’t get hit with penalties and sky-high interest). As each balance transfer is paid in full, I plan to continue to initiate new transfers up to the $7,500 limit as allowed.
  • Finally, I’ll continue paying aggressively toward the remaining (unsubsidized) loans.

This seems like the best course of action for now. Unless someone can offer me a better interest rate on a consolidation, that is.

Thoughts?

 


We Bought A House!!!!!

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We did it!

After endless back-and-forth negotiations, a variety of snags and snafus, and having to change our closing date not once but TWICE, we are officially home owners! YAY!!!!!

 

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

Image source. Note – this is an image that came up in a search of “Arizona houses.” This is NOT our house. As I said before, I won’t be showing a picture of our actual house.

 

We actually closed about a week ago. It was nice because it was a couple days before our 6th wedding anniversary, so we joked that this year for our anniversary we bought ourselves a house! Lol! Go big or go home, right? : )

Shout out to our families who have been so helpful! My Mom helped us with a portion of our down payment and both of our moms have been here recently (first hubs’ mom came out, then my mom) so they have helped with packing, entertaining the girls, and getting everything ready for the move. Hubs has also done a ton. Funny story – this isn’t the first time that the bulk of moving duties have fallen to him. At least twice before I’ve been gone/out of town during moves. I have left with things in disarray and returned with everything moved into a new space! Ha! This time I wasn’t entirely absent (I haven’t gone out of town), but I’ve been pretty busy with work so hubs has definitely taken the lion’s share of packing and boxing and moving. He started with cleaning and moving pretty much immediately after closing but it didn’t become official (aka: we didn’t sleep in the new house) until this weekend. Now I can’t wait to get out the holiday decorations and go to town! : )

This is random but….does anyone remember this ancient blog post? The post (almost 2 years old at this point) was about the thought of having hubs get a vasectomy. GUESS WHAT’S HAPPENING TOMORROW, Y’ALL!!!!!!!!!! ((insert giant grin here))

Sorry, let me try to contain my excitement (hehehe!)

Poor hubs – he’s not so excited. What a way to be rewarded for all of his hard work in the past week! But I, on the other hand, could not be more thrilled!!! We’ve known that we are done having kids for awhile, but having the little snip-snip is the last thing to make it really super-duper official and I can’t wait! I’m taking off early tomorrow so I can drive him to the appointment, as he’s got a prescription sedative to help him relax and he’s not supposed to drive on it (for a man whose usually cool as a cucumber, he’s pretty anxious over the whole thing). Then back to business as usual.

I’m really looking forward to the end of the semester! I feel like such good things are on the horizon – new house, hubs starting back to school, a new year, etc. It just feels like a fresh start or a re-set of some sort. Not that this year has been bad (in fact, there’s been a lot of good), but I did call summer 2016 the summer of death and I’m excited to see what new adventures lie ahead for us as a family.

On the financial front – I may have lied. I said I was going to refinance my student loans THE SECOND that the house deal went through. But now that I’ve been thinking about it, I’m not so sure. I still have 9 months left of interest-forgiveness for my subsidized student loans (through IBR), so now I’m thinking I might only consolidate the unsubsidized loans and leave the subsidized ones for the time being so I can get all 9-months worth of interest-forgiveness before I throw them into the consolidation? However, I have issues with Navient every time I turn around, so I’d love to rid them from my life. In the end, I think I’ll do nothing this month. Over the winter break I’ll start my investigation into student loan consolidations/interest rates/etc. and probably make a more concrete decision before the end of the year (because that will greatly impact our financial goals for 2017).

Anywho, I gotta jump back into work! I hope your Mondays are off to a good start (look at me actually blogging on a Monday – pat on my back) ; )

Talk soon!

~A


Grin and Bear It!

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Hi all!

I hope your weeks are off to a nice start! It’s still stifling hot here in Tucson (mid 90’s over the weekend), but we’ve been packing in lots of fun fall activities! This weekend we went to a pumpkin patch and the kids had an absolute blast! As they get older it’s so fun to really celebrate and enjoy the holidays together!

Today I just wanted to give you the latest on my Navient grievance that I aired last week. Basically….it’s gotten worse (is that possible? yes, yes it is).

My payment due date is the 10th. Recall I was being overcharged by $500/month and was told they would not have it resolved by my October payment, but it should be shortly thereafter. So I logged into my account like a fun little game – how much have I been charged???

Only I see a long line of red exclamation marks and this message:

PAST DUE!

PAST DUE!

PAST DUE!

PAST DUE!

PAST DUE!

On every one of my Department of Education loans (strangly, the federal loans were fine).

Ummmmm…..how can that be? I’ve been on auto-pay for over 2 years!

I call up to Navient and am informed that – somehow that no one can quite explain – my auto payment withdrawal has been removed from my Department of Education account. ALL of those loans are past due.

I asked if this was related to their overcharging me to the tune of $500/month?

They don’t know.

I asked if this would affect my income based repayment?

They don’t think so.

I asked if the monthly debit has been corrected?

They don’t know.

Then they ask if there’s anything else they can help me with.

Ummmm…..you didn’t really help me with anything, now did you???

(Ultimately, I was instructed to make a one-time payment for the month of October, then wait a week and call back again to see if everything has been fixed. Yeah, won’t be holding my breath holding out hope for anything positive to come of this).

And as if Navient’s nonsense isn’t enough to make me rip out my hair – our house closing has been pushed back. After the inspection we’d negotiated for some additional repairs to be done and I guess it’s taking longer than expected. So our closing has been pushed from the 14th to the 28th, pending everything getting done in time. Bummer.

On my last Navient post a couple people commented and asked about private student loan consolidation companies. Just to reiterate – I’m not doing anything until the house deal is closed. But I’ve been researching and looking at SoFi. They’ve got good user reviews and seem to be a reputable company. But we have such a broad readership here, I’d love to ask for your opinions!

Have you ever done a student loan consolidation through a private company? What were your experiences like? Good, bad, ugly, etc??? Would you recommend your company? Why or why not? I’d love any info you can provide!

And, just for fun, do you have any fun Fall plans on the docket this month?? I wish we lived closer to an orchard! There’s one about 90 minutes away, but our weekends are pretty full. Maybe in November we could make it out there – I’d love to take the girls to pick apples and just enjoy the experience! Do you have any annual Fall traditions as a family?


Navient is Back At It Again

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Just the latest in my long, long history of grievances with Navient.

When I realized I’d missed that extra debt payment in September, I was carefully reviewing my account history and something jumped out at me that caught me off-guard:  I’m being over-charged roughly $500 per month.

I’m embarrassed to admit that I hadn’t noticed the egregious error earlier. I blame it on my busy schedule, but really there’s no excuse to have not noticed such a HUGE discrepancy.

Here’s the short of it (I’m trying to run out the door for work, so sorry this is a little rushed)….

My minimum payment is about $130/month. When I re-did my paperwork for Income-Based-Repayment over the summer I was notified it would go up a little bit (like $20 or $40….I can’t remember now, but not much). Only, that’s not what happened. For the past two months (August & September), my auto-debit withdrawal has been over $650. I  always make extra debt payments on top of the minimum and pay – in total – over $1,000 each month. So it didn’t make a big difference in terms of actual money spent because I always put well extra into Navient anyway. But what it did is take my money and mis-appropriate how it was spent. Instead of putting all the extra (over and above my true minimum of about $150-ish) toward the unsubsidized loans, it was being equally distributed across all loans. That’s not at all how I would appropriate it myself.

So I called up there to ask what the deal was. And I was told that apparently there was some issue. The system “shows” that my payment should only be the $150-ish payment, but the auto-debits are actually around $650ish (yes, I know. That’s why I called). It was a total error on their part. They would put in paperwork to get it fixed. It probably won’t be fixed by the October debit, but then it will go back to normal in November.

The representative was all happy with herself for putting in whatever notes to bring it to their internal auditor’s attention. Happy that she had resolved the problem.

 

Ummmm……lady. You get this means you’ve been overcharging me to the tune of $500-ish per month for what will now be 3 months. That’s an extra $1500 you have basically stolen from me. Illegally. You think that’s just going to fly??? (yes, I would have given them that extra money anyway with my extra payments but, again, I would appropriate it completely differently than they have done; also, with the way they’ve done it, a great deal of that money has gone straight to interest instead of toward principal reduction).

The best I could get out of the representative was a promise that after the situation has been resolved, I can call back and they will allow me to re-allocate those extra funds toward the loans of my choice. Doesn’t really make me feel to warm and fuzzy inside. I also have about zero hope that this actually gets resolved as promised. I mean, Navient has quite a long history of lying to me. Repeatedly. All the time.

So there’s that.

Today, though, I’m going to choose to focus on the positives. I’m thankful that we have that extra money. that the extra $500 Navient is literally stealing from me does not force us to go without food, housing, or utilities. That we have the money to spare.

I’m going to try to let it go. I’ll call back toward the end of the month as they’ve requested and see if it makes a difference at that time. In the meantime, I just have to let go of the anger and the frustration. I don’t have any space or time for that negativity in my life.

But you better believe…..as SOON as the house stuff is done (currently set to close on Oct 14th! EEEK!!!), I’m consolidating with a private company as fast as humanly possible. I’m SO STINKING SICK of Navient and their absolute incompetence (at best) and downright illegal activities (at worst). Sick of it. Also, my last ACS loan has notified me that it’s going to be migrated to Navient, too. Fabulous. Last time that happened my loan “switched” from being subsidized to being unsubsidized. An issue that I spent months dealing with and countless hours (and even wrote my legislatures and involved a 3rd party group for problem resolution) and, ultimately, nothing happened. They just f-ed me. And they got away with it. So I’m pretty excited to rid Navient from my life once and for all. As SOON as the closing is behind us, I’m done with them.

Have you ever experienced serious over-charging by a student loan company? Trying to focus on the positives, what’s something good that’s happened recently or something fun you’re looking forward to this week? To share one of mine, we had an awesome weekend! Saturday was packed full of fun stuff – two different kids’ birthday parties. Sunday was full of relaxation. A nice mix of fun/activities and family time/relaxation. The perfect weekend balance!


Increasing Minimum Payments

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My student loans are on income-based repayment (just entering my 3rd year; the final year where my subsidized loans are still eligible for interest forgiveness).

One of the stipulations of IBR is that I have to re-apply every year. The re-application deadline for me falls in August. Its probably not surprising that, due to my increased income, my minimum payments are going up.

At first when I saw the email which notified me of the increasing minimum payments, I was bummed. “Dang it, that sucks” I thought.

But then it hit me – I’m paying like 10x the minimum payments right now (this is definitely hyperbole, but I still pay WAY over my minimums). So the tiny increase in minimum payments (I think it increased about $40/month) does not even come close to affecting me. After the realization, I laughed a little to myself.

Obviously no one likes when minimum payments increase. Thats what sucks so bad about adjustable rate mortgages! But at this stage in our debt payoff game, we’re focusing on the student loan payments. If we were still paying minimums on them in order to put more money toward a different loan, then this change might affect us. But given the massive sized student loan payments that we make, it literally doesn’t make an iota of difference to me if the payments increased $5 or $50. Who cares?! I pay way over the minimum anyway. I’m ready for them to be GONE!!!

Also, as just a random tidbit, when we first met with our mortgage broker with all our documents, he made a comment along the lines of “wow, I’ve never seen anyone with this much student loan debt!” I kind of chuckled (ummm…have you never done a mortgage for a doctor before??).  But not just because I was genuinely surprised by his inexperience with large student loan debts….I also chuckled because had I visited him 2 years ago, we would have been carting around an additional $50,000+ of miscellaneous debts, too! We’re in much better shape now than we were then! But, yes. I have a disgusting amount of student loan debt. Can’t wait to kick it all to the curb!!!

Just for fun – what are your minimum payments on your student loan debt? My Navient loan minimum payments are about $600/month. A ton of money, for sure. But when I’m paying thousands per month on the loans, a $40 increase doesn’t make a big difference.

 


Ashley’s April 2016 Debt Update + NEW Balance Transfer Loan

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Hi all!

Thanks for your patience with me as I was out of town and kind of absent (especially in the comments) for awhile. I only logged in a single time on our week-long vacation and then had to spend a few days playing catch-up with work-related obligations once I returned before really rejoining you here. LOTS of posts to come very soon, but for now let me get up this overdue April debt update!

Perhaps the first thing to note is that I initiated another balance transfer loan! I’ve labeled it in my debt spreadsheet as “Balance Transfer #2” (to distinguish it from the first balance transfer, which I paid off in full prior to initiating this new transfer). See my reasons for why I’m okay with using balance transfer loans to help pay down student loan debt in this throwback post.

I transferred $7,500 from my Navient student loans onto my Capital One credit card. I will have 0% APR for 12 months and paid a one-time $150 transfer fee. In my debt spreadsheet I list the new balance transfer debt as $7650 (which includes the $150 transfer fee). I also altered the “original debt” column of my Navient loan, reducing it by $7500 (since that debt has been moved to the balance transfer loan).

Here you go:

PlaceCurrent BalanceAPRLast Payment MadeLast Payment Date Original debt, March 2014
Navient$731686.55%$1476April$74218
ACS Student Loans$85966.55%$20April$8215
Balance Transfer Student Loan #2$76500% (through April 2017)$0transfer initiated April 2016$7650
Medical Bills$58360%$25April$9000
Balance Transfer student loan #1$00% -Paid off in March 2016$5937
PenFed Car Loan-2.49%-Paid off in January 2016$24040
License Fees-2.5%-Paid off in April 2015$5808
BoA CC-7.24%-Paid off in June 2014$2220
Mattress Firm-0%-Paid off in May 2014$1381
Wells Fargo CC-13.65%-Paid off in May 2014$7697
Capital One CC-17.9%-Paid off in March 2014$413
Totals$95,250 (March balance = 96,175)$1521Starting Debt = $145,472

One thing you’ll notice is that nothing was paid toward the new balance transfer loan in April. I initiated the loan toward the end of the month, so I’ll begin making payments this month (May).

Also, I edited the APR for my Navient loans. It used to read 6.55%-8.25%. But the balance transfer loan covered the 8.25% APR loan in full, so now all that remains are student loans with 6.55% APR. Wahoo! Excited to be chipping away at those loans and to get rid of my last remaining >8% APR debt!

Also, you’ll see in an upcoming budget update post that we continue to save toward our Emergency Fund and the down payment for a new home. This impacts our debt payments, as we are prioritizing savings above debt for right now. We plan to begin house hunting soon-ish, and once that’s all locked away we’ll again return our focus to paying down debt with a vengeance. In the meantime, I’m still happy with our current level of debt payments. Not too shabby, especially considering all our savings! Look for the budget update post soon!

I hope everyone’s weeks are going well! I’ll be back soon! : )