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LegalShield February Economic Stress Index Foreshadows Potential Surge in Evictions and Foreclosures Despite Newly Promised Stimulus



ADA, Okla.–()–Released today, The LegalShield Foreclosure Index jumped in February to its highest level since July, as LegalShield plan members sought to manage financial challenges by contacting their law firm for advice and consultation during the country’s massive pandemic lockdown. While evictions and foreclosures are still well below pre-pandemic levels, millions of homeowners have fallen behind at least three months on their mortgage. Many of these borrowers will have been in forbearance for over a year. LegalShield forecasts a rise in usage of legal consultations on related topics.

“The use of legal services has consistently proved to be a leading indicator for subsequent economic and financial activity. Unfortunately, as our members use our service for advice on foreclosures, evictions, and landlord/tenant issues, we believe we will see a rise in these events. The large number of delinquent mortgages and borrowers in forbearance further supports that there is trouble on the horizon,” said Jeff Bell, LegalShield CEO. “People are fearful of facing enormous past due bills when federal eviction and foreclosure moratoria end. But, at some point, this debt must be addressed. Even if those who are currently in debt suddenly find jobs and can start paying off their debts, borrowers are unlikely to be able to make a lump-sum payment to cover any missed months.”

The LegalShield Economic Stress Index™ is constructed from the company’s proprietary data reflecting demand for legal services and provides actionable intelligence about the near-term direction of the U.S. economy. It is both highly correlated with and predictive of the foremost economic indices around consumer confidence, housing starts, bankruptcies, existing home sales, and foreclosures.

Highlights from the February 2021 LegalShield Economic Stress Index™ are as follows:

  • The Consumer Stress Index edged up in February as more LegalShield plan members sought assistance in dealing with consumer / finance issues including billing disputes, credit repair, insurance matters, etc. This Index increased (worsened) 1.3 points in February to 64.1—meanwhile, the Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Index increased 2.4 points to 91.3 in February. The LegalShield Consumer Stress Index suggests that stress should remain low over the next one to three months, especially with another round of forthcoming stimulus and relief paired with a steady increase in vaccinations.
  • The Foreclosure Index increased (worsened) 5.5 points to 38.1 in February, though it is 42% below year-ago levels. The index continues to closely track foreclosure starts, which remain at an all-time low as of Q4 despite a sharp rise in delinquencies during the pandemic. Foreclosures are expected to remain low while the federal eviction and foreclosure moratoria remain in place. However, recent movement in the LegalShield Foreclosure Index is worth monitoring in the weeks ahead and suggests that foreclosures may rise later this year once moratoria are lifted.
  • The Housing Sales Index fell 2.4 points in February to 112.8 but remains historically elevated as plan members continue to seek legal assistance with homes sales, home purchases, refinancing, etc. Meanwhile, existing home sales were mostly unchanged, inching up 0.6% in January. Existing home sales were 24% above their year-ago level. Demand for existing homes remains remarkably strong despite surging prices. This strong demand, coupled with supply-side constraints, has led to plunging inventory of existing homes (now at an all-time low of 1.04 million units). Though these headwinds may weigh on home sales later in the year, the same factors that fueled a surge in housing sales last year should continue to support continued sales growth in the near term
  • The Housing Construction Index fell from 138.3 to 131.7 in February, marking the lowest level since July. The housing industry continues to lead the economic recovery, as the pandemic and low interest rates motivate consumers to buy and build single-family homes. LegalShield continues to see a high rate of plan members seeking assistance with construction contacts, zoning permits, and interpretation around oil, gas, and mineral rights. Although rising costs are a headwind to housing construction, the LegalShield Housing Construction Index, among other economic indicators, suggests homebuilding activity will stay healthy over the next three to six months.
  • The Bankruptcy Index was little changed in February and remains near its all-time low. While federal relief is currently keeping consumers afloat, signs of financial stress are simmering. In addition to taking advantage of rent moratoria, an increasing share of consumers relied on “buy now pay later” (BNPL) programs for their holiday purchases. Research suggests that up to 50% of BNPL users are using BNPL because they already maxed out existing lines of credit or had a credit rating so poor that they were disqualified from traditional credit cards.

Keybridge LLC, a boutique economic and public policy consulting firm based in Washington D.C., is responsible for independently compiling and analyzing the LegalShield data and developing the accompanying economic narrative.

About LegalShield and IDShield

A trailblazer in the democratization of affordable access to legal protection, LegalShield is the world’s largest platform for legal, identity, and reputation management services covering more than 4.4 million people. Its IDShield identity theft solution for individuals and families has more than one million members. LegalShield and IDShield serve more than 140,000 businesses. In addition, over 34,000 companies offer LegalShield and IDShield plans to their employees as voluntary benefits. Both legal and identity theft plans start for less than $25 per month. For more information about LegalShield, visit: or for more information about IDShield, visit:

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Are Sallie Mae Student Loans Federal or Private?



When you hear the name Sallie Mae, you probably think of student loans. There’s a good reason for that; Sallie Mae has a long history, during which time it has provided both federal and private student loans.

However, as of 2014, all of Sallie Mae’s student loans are private, and its federal loans have been sold to another servicer. Here’s what to know if you have a Sallie Mae loan or are considering taking one out.

What is Sallie Mae?

Sallie Mae is a company that currently offers private student loans. But it has taken a few forms over the years.

In 1972, Congress first created the Student Loan Marketing Association (SLMA) as a private, for-profit corporation. Congress gave SLMA, commonly called “Sallie Mae,” the status of a government-sponsored enterprise (GSE) to support the company in its mission to provide stability and liquidity to the student loan market as a warehouse for student loans.

However, in 2004, the structure and purpose of the company began to change. SLMA dissolved in late December of that year, and the SLM Corporation, or “Sallie Mae,” was formed in its place as a fully private-sector company without GSE status.

In 2014, the company underwent another big adjustment when Sallie Mae split to form Navient and Sallie Mae. Navient is a federal student loan servicer that manages existing student loan accounts. Meanwhile, Sallie Mae continues to offer private student loans and other financial products to consumers. If you took out a student loan with Sallie Mae prior to 2014, there’s a chance that it was a federal student loan under the now-defunct Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFELP).

At present, Sallie Mae owns 1.4 percent of student loans in the United States. In addition to private student loans, the bank also offers credit cards, personal loans and savings accounts to its customers, many of whom are college students.

What is the difference between private and federal student loans?

When you’re seeking financing to pay for college, you’ll have a big choice to make: federal versus private student loans. Both types of loans offer some benefits and drawbacks.

Federal student loans are educational loans that come from the U.S. government. Under the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program, there are four types of federal student loans available to qualified borrowers.

With federal student loans, you typically do not need a co-signer or even a credit check. The loans also come with numerous benefits, such as the ability to adjust your repayment plan based on your income. You may also be able to pause payments with a forbearance or deferment and perhaps even qualify for some level of student loan forgiveness.

On the negative side, most federal student loans feature borrowing limits, so you might need to find supplemental funding or scholarships if your educational costs exceed federal loan maximums.

Private student loans are educational loans you can access from private lenders, such as banks, credit unions and online lenders. On the plus side, private student loans often feature higher loan amounts than you can access through federal funding. And if you or your co-signer has excellent credit, you may be able to secure a competitive interest rate as well.

As for drawbacks, private student loans don’t offer the valuable benefits that federal student borrowers can enjoy. You may also face higher interest rates or have a harder time qualifying for financing if you have bad credit.

Are Sallie Mae loans better than federal student loans?

In general, federal loans are the best first choice for student borrowers. Federal student loans offer numerous benefits that private loans do not. You’ll generally want to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and review federal funding options before applying for any type of private student loan — Sallie Mae loans included.

However, private student loans, like those offered by Sallie Mae, do have their place. In some cases, federal student aid, grants, scholarships, work-study programs and savings might not be enough to cover educational expenses. In these situations, private student loans may provide you with another way to pay for college.

If you do need to take out private student loans, Sallie Mae is a lender worth considering. It offers loans for a variety of needs, including undergrad, MBA school, medical school, dental school and law school. Its loans also feature 100 percent coverage, so you can find funding for all of your certified school expenses.

With that said, it’s always best to compare a few lenders before committing. All lenders evaluate income and credit score differently, so it’s possible that another lender could give you lower interest rates or more favorable terms.

The bottom line

Sallie Mae may be a good choice if you’re in the market for private student loans and other financial products. Just be sure to do your research upfront, as you should before you take out any form of financing. Comparing multiple offers always gives you the best chance of saving money.

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Tips to do some fall cleaning on your finances



Wealth manager, Harry Abrahamsen, has five simple ways to stay on top of the big financial picture.

PORTLAND, Maine — Keeping track of our financial stability is something we can all do, whether we have IRAs or 401ks or just a checking account. Harry J. Abrahamsen is the Founder of Abrahamsen Financial Group. He works with clients to create and grow their own wealth. Abrahamsen shares five financial tips, starting with knowing what you have. 

1. Analyze Your Finances Quarterly or Biannually

You want to make sure that your long-term strategy is congruent with your short-term strategy. If the short-term is not working out, you may need to adjust what you are doing to make sure your outcome produces the desired results you are looking to accomplish. It is just like setting sail on a voyage across the Atlantic Ocean. You know where you want to go and plot your course, but there are many factors that need to be considered to actually get you across and across safely. Your finances behave the exact same way. Check your current situation and make sure you are taking into consideration all of the various wealth-eroding factors that can take you completely off course.

With interest rates very low, now might be a good time to consider refinancing student loans or mortgages, or consolidating credit card debt. However, do so only if you need to or if you can create a positive cash flow. To ensure that you are saving the most by doing so, you must look at current payments, excluding taxes and insurance costs. This way you can do an apples-to-apples comparison.

The most important things to look for when reviewing your credit report is accuracy. Make sure the reporting agencies are reporting things actuary. If it doesn’t appear to be reporting correct and accurate information, you should consult with a reputable credit repair company to help you fix the incorrect information.

4. Savings and Retirement Accounts

The most important thing to consider when reviewing your savings and retirement accounts is to make sure the strategies match your short-term and long-term investment objectives. All too often people end up making decisions one at a time, at different times in their lives, with different people, under different circumstances. Having a sound strategy in place will allow you to view your finances with a macro-economic lens vs a micro-economic view. Stay the course and adjust accordingly from a risk and tax standpoint.

RELATED: Financial lessons learned through the pandemic

A great tip for lowering utility bills or car insurance premiums: Simply ask! There may be things you are not aware of that could save you hundreds of dollars every month. You just need to call all of the companies that you do business with to find out about cost-cutting strategies. 

RELATED: Overcome your fear of finances

To learn more about Abrahamsen Financial, click here

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How to Get a Loan Even with Bad Credit



Sana pwedeng mabura ang bad credit history as quickly and easily as paying off your utility bills, ‘no? Unfortunately, it takes time. And bago mo pa maayos ang bad credit mo, more often than not, kailangan mo na namang mag-avail ng panibagong loan. 

Good thing you can still get a loan even with bad credit, kahit na medyo limited ang options. How do you get a loan if you have bad credit? Alamin sa short guide na ito. 

For more finance tips, visit Moneymax.



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