Debt-To-Income Ratio: What Is It and Why Is It Important?

Debt-To-Income Ratio What Is It and Why Is It Important

A recent study found that only approximately 29% of American adults are considered financially healthy. A big part of improving financial health is paying off debt. Some people seem to think that the best way to obtain the little extras they need in life is by taking out loans or using credit cards. Debt-to-income ratio is vital to your financial standing.

While using credit or loans will help you buy something faster, it can also affect your financial health. When applying for any loan, one of the main things a lender will consider is your ratio. Below is information about this term and the importance of a low debt-to-income ratio. 

What is Debt-To-Income Ratio?

The term debt-to-income ratio is used to compare a person’s monthly gross income and their monthly debt expenses. If you want to calculate your own ratio, you will need a few basic pieces of information. 

Making a list of your monthly personal loan, car loan and credit card payments is the first step in this calculation process. Once you have the total amount of payments you are making monthly, you need to figure out your monthly gross income. 

You will then divide the debt payments you have by your income and that percentage is your debt-to-income ratio. Be sure you calculate your monthly income before taxes to ensure you get an accurate ratio. 

The Importance of a Good Debt-To-Income Ratio

When applying for a loan, the lender you use will consider many factors before approving your request. One of the main things a lender wants to know is how much debt you currently have. If your debt-to-income ratio is high, it will be difficult to get a loan for a significant amount of money approved. 

Calculating your ratio before applying for a loan can help you greatly. Most lenders will approve loans for applicants with a ratio of 36% or below. If your current debt-to-income ratio is higher than this, you may need to address this issue before applying for a loan. Avoid making money mistakes by applying with low ratio.

Great Tips For Lowering Your Debt-To-Income Ratio

Is your current ratio high? If so, it is time to do something about it. One of the first things you can do to lower this ratio is to pay off your outstanding debt. Most American consumers have around $3,000 worth of credit card debt

Regardless of how much debt you have, it is crucial to make a comprehensive plan to pay it off quickly. This is a good way to reach financial stability. You also need to avoid taking on any new debt until you get your current debt-to-income ratio down. By recalculating your ratio monthly, you can estimate how much progress you are making. 

Education is Power

The more you know about what lenders look for when inspecting a loan application, the easier it will be to get approved. By following these tips, you can lower your debt-to-income ration and get the funding you need with ease.

3 Types of Debts You Should Focus on First

Types of Debts

You’re having a laugh with a friend when they mention that they’ve paid off their mortgage loans or that they’re finally done with college student debts. Your mood instantly turns dark as you realize your situation is the exact opposite. Knowing these types of debts can help you organize your plan how to pay them faster.

You go home, whip out your calculator, and there’s a dizzying list of numbers and figures and percentages and dollar signs. Your debts are crippling, and so are you. So how do you begin paying off these debts? Well, there are a couple of ways to arrange your debt payments in order and achieve your financial goals. Here you go:

1. Secured vs. Unsecured Debts

As you know, while signing a debt contract, there are two types of debts. The ones that have collateral against their monetary value, otherwise known as secured debts. The others are unsecured debts, against which there are no collaterals. The collateral maybe your car, your business, your stocks, or even your residential property.

So while arranging a debt repayment plan, you have to choose between secured and unsecured debts first. In secured debts, something precious to you is actually at stake. You might lose your possession if you do not pay the debt in time, so it makes sense to just clear the secured debts with whatever you can arrange. 

On the other hand, your unsecured debts can become pretty troublesome if you delay them for too long. The pressure will just mount higher, and late payment may also affect your credit score. 

Both are risky, and both are urgent. You just have to keep a balance between the two sets and figure out a repayment method with the least losses incurred.

2. Debts with the Highest Interest Rates

This category is also pretty crucial in figuring out which debts you have to pay back first. The debts with the highest interest rates, such as those on a credit card or a mortgage loan. Other debts, such as student loans or other personal loans, have lower interest rates, which do not accumulate as fast as the higher interest ones.

In this way, it’s usually beneficial to pay back loans in their elevating interest rate. The higher the rates, the sooner you should try to get rid of the debt. This way, you’ll be able to reduce the more significant debts quickly and will be able to focus better on the smaller ones.

3. Small Debts

Many people follow the total opposite of the highest interest rate. They use the debt snowball method by starting paying off their debts with the smallest ones right up to the largest one. This way, you can get rid of the number of debts on your credit sheet and focus much better on the larger ones. In this type of debt arrangement, you don’t have small debtors nagging you for repayments every single day, which is a great benefit in itself.

Conclusion

Debts are terrifying. They keep us up at night. However, paying debts back is not impossible. You just need the right strategy to arrange how you will pay back the different debts you have under your name. From debt, you may then start thinking about how to build your emergency fund.

Top 4 Money Hacks for One Income Families

Money Hacks for One Income Families

In the world we live in today, everything is getting more and more costly. As a result, most families need numerous or more than one earning member. In the case of families having a single income source or earning member, things are quite different. 

Starting from the source of income, to expenses and budgets, a rigorous planning is necessary. Even if the source of income is huge, proper money handling is very important. Here are some effective money hacks for one income families. 

Hack 1: Proper budgeting and expense tracking

The first thing to do as a one income family is create a budget. The budget must be according to the level of income. While making a budget, it is sometimes important to cut corners. The budget should primarily focus on the daily needs and expenses. Make sure you do not add anything unnecessary to the budget.

To make sure that you don’t spend out of budget, tracking or keeping records is crucial. You must keep a record of every single expense. In addition to that, keep track of every bit of money, whether it is earned, saved, or spent.

Hack 2: Savings are always helpful

After spending according to the budget, there is a good chance of having an extra amount of cash in hand. In such cases, the wisest thing to do is save that money. However, it is not wise to consider leftovers as savings. 

The smart thing to do is setting aside a certain amount from the monthly income. As a result, some cash automatically builds up. However, upon acquiring large savings, the chances of spending on a frenzy rise in many. In such scenarios, the issue of emergency expenditures must always be considered. Savings can be great blessings in times of emergency. For example, in cases of medical emergencies and huge-scale debts, savings can remove the burden of expenses.

A very significant form of saving is investing in life insurance. It ensures the security of the non-earning members of the family, in the event of the earning member’s death.

Hack 3: Sort out major expenses

Like daily needs and expenses, the major expenses require severe attention. Major expenses can comprise debts, taxes, mortgages, or any form of debt. If a person having loans is the only earning member, his or her death will put the other family members in a huge problem.

As a result, paying off debts is a great issue for one-income families. In addition to that, expenses such as school fees, and medical bills also fall in the category of major expenses. However, major expenses vary from one family to another. 

Hack 4: Be tactical while spending

Spending according to a budget is not the only way of reducing expenses. Being tactical makes it much easier. Avoiding home deliveries is a good way of reducing costs. Instead of being lazy and ordering online or via phone, getting the parcel yourself is a good way. However, there are always exceptions.

Avoiding credit cards is also an effective method. Credit card charges and debts can easily cause a person to run low on cash. Completely avoiding credit card usage is not mandatory. As mentioned earlier, tracking is crucial here. As for credit card debts, one must treat them as a major expense. 

In day-to-day expenses, you have to be very strategic. For instance, instead of buying vegetables, and dairy products from a super shop, you can go to the farmer’s market. This way one income families can afford the same things, but fresher and at a lesser price.

The Bottom Line

One income families do not necessarily need to lead a very strict life. All it takes is to be strategic and cautious. Pre-planning and these money hacks for one income families can help family live a more disciplined and comfortable life.

Related Reading: 7 Types of Income and How They Can Change Your Future

7 Types of Income and How They Can Change Your Future

Types of Income

Everyone wants to increase their income. This is true for those starting out, those with a decade’s experience, or those thinking about retiring. But when they say they would like to have more money, few ever say what are the types of income they would like to have. Or what income they would like to increase.

If you’re salaried, you’d be conditioned to think that that’s all your income can be. It would be pretty much the same if you’re self-employed. The first thing you have to understand if you want to increase your income is that your paycheck is an income and not the only income you can have.

The Different Types of Income

1. A side gig

Aside from your primary job, you could do a freelance job or work during the evenings or weekends. These could be tied to your area of expertise. For e.g., if you work at a gym, you could part-time as a personal fitness instructor.

2. Create a physical product

Maybe you’re great at designing jewelry or phone cases. If you can do it as a side hustle and find sellers either online or through brick and mortar stores, that’ll be an additional income for you.

3. Real estate

The housing market is hot right now. This will be an appreciating asset if you research well before you buy. If buying and flipping it sounds expensive, you could look at commercial real estate. Most of them are at their lowest due to remote work.

4. Stocks

One of the types of income that is popular among the youth is stock. This requires some expertise, but the good news is that almost everything to learn about stocks is available online now. If you do your homework and are patient to stay in it for a long time, your investments will start paying dividends well into your golden years.

5. Blogging

If you believe you have enough expertise in a field to share with others, you could start a blog. It will take some time to build traction and get enough followers. But once you have a sizable following, you could earn income from ads or affiliate marketing.

6. Digital Publishing

While blogging is the gateway, what can build a brand out of you is digital publishing. If you can write a book – a short book will do – on a niche and market it well, you could be looking at a passive source of income for years.

7. Start a business

It would be better if you can invest in a business with others. That minimizes your risk while building another stream of income. What’s better, if you decide to sell your shares later, you’ll be making more money out of it.

The more sources of income you have, the better off your finances will be. Therefore, if you want to increase your income, you should have a clear understanding of the different types of income that you can earn. Hopefully, the above list has been of help.

Related Reading: Multiple Streams of Income You Can Build Today

How Does Social Media Affect Financial Decisions?

Social Media Affects Financial Decisions

Social media influences society in an assortment of ways. Within the past decade, related platforms have swayed elections, outed celebrities’ poor behavior, and controlled much of the public discourse. It even has a significant impact on people’s moods.

Therefore, it’s no surprise that social media also affects many US citizens’ financial decisions. But how much clout do Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and all other platforms carry regarding money?

This blog will examine social media and its sway over financial decisions:

Social Media’s Financial Influence is Generational

In 2021, consumers gather financial product information from places such as Facebook. They might double down with a blog to inform themselves more.

However, the stats skew toward proceeding with caution with regards to trusting sources. Only 23% of surveyed consumers are very confident that social media information about financial products is accurate and reliable.

Furthermore, consumers only click on social media financial product advertisements 15% of the time. This number pales compared to the 34% of the timepeople click on ads for other items.

It does appear that older consumers are responsible for swaying these percentages. Millennial – and younger – consumers have far more confidence in the financial information they access on social media. They’re also likelier to click on advertisements for relevant institutions.

This difference between generations probably results from familiarity and comfort with technology. It also likely results from more eagerness to learn about what’s out there in the world of finance.

People Are Spending More Recklessly Because of Social Media

Financial decisions aren’t solely based on products from a bank, an accountant, or overall investing decisions. Finances are involved whenever somebody spends money.

In that vein, social media brings with it some negatives. Namely, 35% of respondents to one survey claimed to spend more money than they could afford to share experiences with friends. Moreover, these decisions were directly influenced by what they saw on social media.

In bringing this blog back to the generational theme, younger people were more impacted by the above problem. 48% of Millennials and 41% of Gen Z fell victim to overspending because of social media’s somewhat nefarious influence.

People must keep in mind the social media often paints a very one-sided picture of people. Sure, your friends could be vacationing in Spain—but they might be maxing out their credit card to do so. Or they’re neglecting their retirement savings.

Social Media’s Impact on Your Finances Depends on How You Use It:

Social media is a double-edged sword for finances. Provided you allow it to influence overspending because you want to fit in with your friends, it will turn into a negative by accumulating credit card debt.

Conversely, social media brings with it the following financial advantages (if you do your research):

  • Find better deals on products you need
  • Receive discounts from your preferred stores
  • Market a crowdfunding campaign
  • Learn about DIY ideas instead of spending on a service
  • Perform product research to make purchases that bring you value

It’s through the above methods that social media can become a positive force for your financial future.

6 Money Habits for a Richer 2021

Money Habits

It’s the New Year, and for many, a time to reflect and set new goals. According to a recent survey on spending habits, “63% of respondents lived paycheck to paycheck in 2020.” Developing effective money habits are crucial for a healthier, wealthier future and something anyone can achieve with discipline and practice. Below are our top six money habits that will set you on a path to financial health in 2021. 

Identify Your “Why”

Before you do anything else, carve out time to identify why you want better money habits. Do you need to get out of credit card debt? Are you hoping to retire early? Do you want to provide a better future for your kids? Travel the world? Your why will be that little voice keeping you on track when you want to stray from your goals. 

Track Your Spending

This is a must-do if you hope to have better spending habits. Find a time every month, week, or even day to go over your spending in relation to the money coming in. Create separate categories for different kinds of expenses. You will likely have a fixed category for expenses that do not change like your mortgage or car payment. Develop other categories for expenses such as going out to eat, entertainment, and shopping. You might be shocked at how much you are spending in some categories!

Set a Budget

Now that you understand your spending patterns, set a budget for each of your categories. Paying in cash or with a debit card is much easier to track and keeps you from the constant debt cycle that comes with using a credit card. Keep your budget accessible so you can refer to it when you need to. Mint is a great app for keeping track of your budget. 

Create Small, Achievable Goals

Instead of making one goal for the entire year that might be abandoned 6-months in, make a 90-day goal with clear directions on how to achieve it. Some examples could be paying down a specific debt, saving a certain amount of money, or any other tangible goal that aligns with your “why.” By creating a deadline, you are holding yourself accountable and breaking down what may feel like a large, daunting task into bite-size pieces. Your goals may change throughout the year, so re-evaluate them every 90 days. 

Pay Yourself First

This piece of advice, made famous by Robert Kiyosaki’s famous work, “Rich Dad, Poor Dad,” feels counterintuitive but is a life-changing habit to adopt. Each time you get paid, put a percentage of that money in savings first before anything else. While challenging at first, you’ll be amazed at how your spending adapts over time. You may also surprise yourself with how much you saved over the year!

Learn About Money

Lastly, healthy money habits are a continuous learning process. Read a book, attend a seminar, surround yourself with financially savvy people. Invest in your financial education and you will see results. 

Here Are a Few Reasons You Shouldn’t Carry Your Social Security Card

Crime scene tape due to social security card theft

In 1975, American Express reminded you that there were some things without which you should not leave home, their credit card being their main focus. Still, it was a good and useful reminder for a lot of things. Indeed, some things are so important that we really shouldn’t leave home without them. I can’t honestly say that an American Express card is one of them. But certainly, if you have a credit card, bring it with you.

It is also a reminder that there are some things we most certainly should leave home without. You should leave your social security card at home unless you are going someplace where you know it will be needed. Don’t treat it like a default carry. Treat it like a special carry. There are some situations that require a social security card. You will find that many of those places will accept a picture of your social security card.

On the rare occasions you have to carry your social security card, don’t keep it in your wallet. If your wallet is lost or stolen, your social security card will be safe. Otherwise, don’t carry it at all. Here’s why:

Your Social Security Number Is Attached to Everything Important

The one piece of information about you that you don’t want to fall into the wrong hands is your social security number. The last 4 digits can unlock a credit check. All 9 digits unlock everything else there is to know about you. If you are going to lose a card, let it be your credit card. That can be easily and quickly canceled and changed. Your social security number is forever.

If you lose your card, find a good guide on how to report a lost social security card. After contacting the SSA, you should immediately do the following:

  1. Contact your bank.
  2. Reach out to the credit bureaus.
  3. Put a credit freeze on your account.
  4. Establish fraud alerts for further transactions

Lose your credit cards and you might lose some money. Lose your social security card and you lose your identity.

You Can Lose Your Good Credit

There are things debt will stop you from doing. You don’t want to be in debt if you can help it. And that is exactly where you will find yourself if you let your social security card fall into the wrong hands. If you carry your card with you everyday, the risk of losing it far outweighs the reward of having it when you need it.

There is a remarkably short period of time between losing your social security card and having new credit cards fraudulently obtained by thieves. They can even use your current credit cards because they have a key piece of information for gaining access to your account. At that point, you are done. You will spend the next several months fighting fraudulent charges and trying to get your credit rating back up above 500. Once your social security number goes up for auction on the dark web, your credit score goes down in the real world.

A Picture Is Often Enough

There are many situations when a social security card is required. But a substitute will be accepted. A picture of your card is often a good enough substitute because what they want is the information on the card and not the card, itself.

Not only is a picture good enough in many cases, it is more secure. To get to the pictures in your phone, you have to get into the phone. Even with a weak passcode, that can be rather difficult to accomplish. You can keep the picture in notes and lock the note.

There are some things you certainly don’t want to leave home without. And there are other things that you want to leave at home pretty much all the time. Leave your social security card at home because in the wrong hands, it places your identity at risk. It is tied to your credit worthiness, and more secure substitutes will often do the trick.