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Understanding Your Debt-to-Income Ratio (A Simple Guide)

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Debt-to-Income RatioBetween credit cards, student, home, and auto loans, most Americans have some sort of debt.

As you work to gain control of your finances, you have to know what can be negatively impacting you and keeping you from getting where you want to be.

Whether you have plans of owning a home, a car, or simply want to open a new credit card account, knowing your debt-to-income ratio(DTI) will help you know just where you stand and how creditors may view you.

What is a debt-to-income ratio and how is it calculated?

A debt-to-income ratio is a number used to measure a person’s ability to manage their debt. This number is calculated using two key pieces of financial information: your debt and your income. By taking your total monthly debt and your total monthly income, which includes any money earned prior to taxes and deductions, you can determine your debt-to-income ratio.

In another example where the total debts are higher than $1,500 and income is still $4,000, you see an increase in the DTI. If you have monthly debt payments equal to $2,000, and your gross monthly income equals $4,000, your debt-to-income ratio will be 50%.

What is the ideal debt-to-income ratio?

If you aren’t thinking about applying for an auto or home loan, opening a credit card account, moving into a new apartment, or doing anything else that requires someone to review your credit and finances, you may not care too much about your DTI. But when you are seeking credit, part of the application process may include a thorough review of your finances. Even though it will vary, every creditor and lender has certain criteria that applicants must meet in order to approve an application, so they might be interested in examining your DTI to determine if you should be approved.

Since this number gives insight into how you manage your debt, specifically your ability to repay your debt, the higher your DTI, the more likely you are to be denied. Creditors will look for borrowers who have a debt-to-income ratio no higher than 43%.  This means that if your monthly income is $4,000, your total monthly debt payments should be equal to no more than $1,720. Although 43% is acceptable to most creditors, a lower DTI is even better.

Improving your debt-to-income ratio

If your DTI is above 43%, you have the power to change it. Since your monthly debts and income are the two important factors used to determine your DTI, there are a number of ways you can lower your DTI and get in a better position financially.

If you want to improve your debt-to-income ratio, one thing you can do is reduce the total amount of debt you owe. If you have taken out a loan for $5,000, your monthly loan payment will be included in your debts used to calculate your DTI. By making extra payments on your loan, you will be able to pay off the loan faster and reduce the amount of debt owed.

Additionally, if you want to improve your DTI, you can also avoid adding to your current amount of debt or increase your monthly income by taking on a hiring paying full-time job, part-time job, or gig.

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Financial advice

Are “Buy Here Pay Here” Auto Loans Good for You?

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buy here pay here loans

When a person’s cash reserves are insufficient to cover the cost of a car purchase, many turn to auto loans. However, lenders who are financial institutions, such as banks, may check your credit report. This may cause concern if you have bad credit.

The good news is that BHPH (buy here, pay here) auto loans are now available. Through these loans, buyers with no credit or bad credit can obtain in-house financing from the dealership. However, it is critical to keep in mind that this type of auto financing comes at a hefty cost, possibly greater than the car’s actual value. Your interest rates will likely increase, and you may even be required to consent to be tracked.

Examining the Process

Purchase here and pay here Financing is a type of auto loan that is almost always used to purchase previously owned vehicles. This auto loan is provided directly by the dealership. This is distinct from when the dealership offers you a loan through a financial institution with which they have partnered, such as a local credit union. There, the dealership acts as a go-between for you and the credit union, saving you the trip. However, the dealership will almost certainly charge you a fee for loan processing.

On the other hand, a buy here, pay here loan is the car dealership’s own form of in-house financing. When you apply for a buy here, pay here auto loan, the dealership becomes your lienholder. They will determine your interest rate and payment schedule, the most common of which are biweekly or weekly payments.

The terms of the majority of loans are largely determined by your credit score. If you also have a higher credit score, your interest rate will be lower. This frequently results in a lower down payment. However, with buy here, pay here loans, there is no requirement for a credit check. This adds to the allure of these loans for those with poor credit. This, however, means that the auto dealer, who serves as the lender, in this case, will charge extremely high interest rates.

Down payments on vehicles purchased with BHPH loans may vary. They may charge extremely low or extremely high prices to entice customers. While the Federal Reserve regulates traditional lenders in terms of loan amounts, this is not the case with used car dealerships and lots. They may finance the vehicle for a higher price than it is worth, particularly if it is a pre-owned vehicle. Repossession benefits BHPH lots. They will repossess your vehicle if you fall behind on payments and resell it to buyers with poor credit.

Pros and Cons

Obtaining financing through buy here, pay here auto loans is significantly faster than the traditional loan process. This is because the dealership makes the decision immediately. As expected, the primary benefit of buy here, pay here auto loans is that they enable you to obtain financing for your vehicle that you may not be able to obtain elsewhere due to your low credit score. However, its primary disadvantage is its high price.

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The Debt Snowball Plan & How to Use it to get out of Debt

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Getting debt-free is never easy but something that many people want to accomplish. The typical approach that most people take when trying to pay off their debt is to try and pay off the debts with the most interest, or largest amounts, first. While, mathematically, this is a sound approach, it can often become frustrating and end in failure.

If you’ve struggled to stay consistent in your efforts to pay off your debt, you may want to consider using the Debt Snowball Plan. This approach has been shown to be effective as a means to pay off debt without losing momentum or leading to frustration.

How the Snowball Plan Works

Reaching your Debt-free Goals

When paying off your debt, rather than attempting to pay off the largest amounts first, you should first tackle the smaller debts. By paying off the smaller debts first, you will quickly see progress as you pay off the smaller amounts faster which will help encourage you to continue with your goals.

To start, make a list of all of your debts (minus your mortgage) and list them from highest amount to lowest. Next, each month make the minimum payment necessary for each debt except the very lowest. With your smallest debt amount, pay more than the minimum payment – as much as you can. Once you’ve paid off your smallest debt amount, take what you were paying on that debt and apply it to the monthly payment of your next largest debt amount while continuing to pay only the minimum on all other debts.

An example of this method could look like this:

  • Credit card 1: $500 at 14% with a monthly payment of $25.
  • Credit card 2: $1,000 at 18% with a monthly payment of $50
  • Car loan: $6,000 at 5% over 4 years with a monthly payment of $135.
  • Student loan: $15,000 at 5% over 10 years with a monthly payment of $159.

Using the Debt Snowball Plan, you would pay the minimum amount on each of your debts but by adding an extra $100 to your smallest credit card payment, you would pay it off in 4 months. Next, you would apply the $125 you were paying on the smallest credit card payment to the second credit card to a total of $175 per month. The second card will then be paid off in 5 months. Once the second card is paid off you can add the $175 to the car payment of $135 for a total of $310 to put toward your monthly car payment – paying it off in 15 months.

Continuing with this method on your student loans and you’ll be debt-free in just another 24 months’ time. This method will help you keep the momentum going and prevent you from becoming discouraged along the way.

For additional credit counseling and credit repair help, please call: (480) 478-4304

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What Are the Pros and Cons of Secured/Unsecured Debt?

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difference between secured and unsecured loans

Secured credit and unsecured credit are very different types of credit in terms of risk to consumers and lenders. According to a  leading credit expert, you need to understand the benefits and drawbacks of each type of credit. because they can affect your credit score.

What Exactly Is Secured Credit?

Secured credit is a type of credit that is secured by a physical asset as collateral. If a borrower defaults on this type of loan, the lender may take possession of the collateral to recoup the loss. A good and common example is an auto loan. In an auto loan arrangement, the vehicle also serves as the collateral. The lender does not transfer the title until you complete payment.

The same goes for a mortgage: The home is the collateral for the home loan.  In case of default, the loan is secured by your home, and the bank continues to “own” the home until you pay it off. In this case, failing to pay your mortgage may result in the bank foreclosing on your home, which means they will evict you and sell it to someone else.

Title loans and pawnshop loans are also examples of secured loans.

While the majority of credit cards are unsecured, secured credit cards are available for consumers who may be unable to qualify for unsecured credit cards due to poor credit or a lack of credit history. With a secured credit card, you make a security deposit that counts toward your credit limit and that the lender can keep if you are unable to make the required credit card payments.

What Exactly Is Unsecured Credit?

Unsecured credit is credit that does not have a physical asset as collateral, which means the lender cannot repossess an asset if you default on the debt.

Unsecured Credit Examples

A student loan is an example of an unsecured loan because there is no tangible asset that can be taken away if you do not repay your student loans. Student loans are used to pay for education, and the lender cannot, of course, “take back” the education you have already received.

Credit cards, with the exception of secured credit cards, are generally extensions of unsecured credit.

Your Credit Score and the Effects of Secured and Unsecured Debt
According to John, credit scoring models treat secured and unsecured accounts equally. Credit scores do not penalize or reward you based on whether your accounts are unsecured or secured.

Credit scores still treat different types of accounts differently due to other factors (for example, credit cards are treated differently than installment loans), but this factor does not play a role.

Use Secured Credit Cards With Caution
Consumers frequently use secured credit card accounts to establish credit or rebuild credit after having bad credit. This is an excellent credit-building strategy, but you should exercise caution when using your secured credit card.

Why? Because secured credit cards frequently have extremely low credit limits. That means that even with modest spending, you can quickly reach a high utilization ratio on the account. For example, if your secured credit card has a $500 credit limit and you have a $500 credit limit and you spend $250, you already have a 50% utilization ratio on that account.

Having heavily used credit card accounts can have a significant negative impact on your credit score, so if you want tscore, so if you want to keep your credit score as high as possible, you’ll want to keep an eye on your secured credit card balance and not let it creep too high relative to your credit limit.

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