Zero Percent Financing: A Consumer Benefit Or A Marketing Trick?

In recent years, zero percent financing has become an increasingly popular financing option offered by most car manufacturers on new cars and trucks. While it does sound great and is extremely appealing to many car buyers, there are few things attached to it that may diminish the benefits.

Commonly, car dealers offer an alternative of a zero percent financing or a cash rebate on the vehicle purchase price. Let us say, that you are confronted with an offer of getting a cash rebate of $3,000 or a zero percent financing. While you are going to have no interest to pay, you will end up paying $3,000 more for a vehicle that you may have saved otherwise. Should you pay off your loan early, the advantage of taking zero percent financing would become null.

It is important to keep in mind that any car is a quickly depreciating asset. Taking a rebate instead of a zero percent financing incentive may help you to reduce the gap between the loan balance and the vehicle fair market value. Since your car depreciates most in the first year of use, having it totaled or stolen may leave you upside down on your zero percent auto loan since your insurance company would not cover extra $3,000 you paid for your vehicle. That means that you would have to come up with the difference to cover the remaining loan balance.

It is important to remember that nothing is truly free in this life. Financing incentives, typically coming from the corporate offices of car manufacturers, are most commonly hidden in the vehicle selling price. Car dealers, sometimes offering zero percent financing on their own, follow the same strategy.

How Does It Work?

While it is somewhat understandable how financing incentives offered by auto manufacturers work, zero percent financing offered solely by a dealer may raise your eyebrows. Obviously, banks are not going to finance you at no interest, no matter how good your credit is, since they have to make money off you to stay in business.

What usually happens is that auto dealers rebate the bank upfront for the interest charges that a customer would accrue and pay to the bank otherwise. In simple terms, your dealer pays your interest for you. Since they are not going to make it a money-losing proposition, they have to compensate these expenses somehow. That is why these costs are built into the vehicle purchase price.

Typically they are offset by a rebate that a car manufacturer would give you on a new car purchase and/or an incentive that an automaker gives a dealer for higher volume sales. What this also means to you that there is less negotiation power on your side, since a dealer would be less eager to go down on a vehicle price in this case.

Financing Incentive or a Cash Rebate?

What this means to you is that a simple mathematical equation needs to be solved. When approached with a choice between the rebate and a zero percent financing, calculate how much interest you would normally pay on a car loan and compare it to the amount of rebate. If your interest charges are going to be greater, it may be time to consider zero percent financing. Should they be not, take the rebate and run away from the zero interest deal!

What Type of Life Insurance Policy Should You Get

The primary purpose for getting life insurance will always be to protect the people you care about in case something were to happen to you. How much capital would you need in order to pay off debts, support your loved ones, or to take care of all your affairs?

After you understand what priorities you would like to protect through life insurance it is fairly easy to determine the correct amount of coverage.

What Type Of Life Insurance

The next question is what type of coverage will best serve your needs. In order to get the right amount of coverage you also have to make sure that the premiums fit comfortably into your budget.

Term Insurance Benefits

Term insurance is less expensive than whole life insurance, because you are renting the insurance. Your coverage is considered pure insurance in this case, because it doesn’t develop cash value or participate in company dividends.

Instead it allows you to get the right amount of protection for the least expensive premiums available. Term insurance has also developed over the years to offer more comprehensive options. You can get a return-of-premiums policy where you pay more during the life of the policy, but the insurance company refunds all of your premiums at the end of the fixed term.

There are also term policies that allow you to lock in your age and health for the remainder of your life, so that you can have the coverage and premiums locked in for the rest of your life. This is a great and inexpensive way to obtain permanent insurance.

How Long Should You Lock In Your Premiums

The longer you can lock in your premiums the more advantageous it will be in the long run. The insurance company takes into consideration the mortality risk during the level period of the term. If you are 35 and you get a level 20-term policy then the rates will be fixed until you are 55. And because you are locking in the premiums at a younger age, the average risk and rates will be less than if you were to lock in your premiums at 55.

Most people have an insurance need that will last throughout the rest of their lives. If you can permanently lock in a portion of your insurance at a younger age this can save you substantially on premiums. It happens quite often where people will have to apply for new coverage after the fixed rates on their current policy have expired, and because they are now older and have to pay much more in premiums.

Your health is also locked in when you first take the policy out. Many people looking for insurance in their fifties or sixties are dealing with some type of medical condition that makes the cost of life insurance double or triple in cost. The same logic that applies to locking in your age is also good to keep in mind when locking in your health. We don’t know what is going to happen to us, and if we have our insurance locked in then our insurability and premiums will be unaffected by a medical event.

Level Term Insurance

I always recommend getting a level-term policy as opposed to one that will start off lower and increase premiums each and every year. The level term policies allow you to lock in your age and health for the remainder of the term, whereas the increasing-premium policies become more expensive every year based on your new age.

Because term insurance is a less expensive way to get the right amount of protection, I believe that it is the right choice for a large majority of people looking at life insurance.

Cash Value Life Insurance: When To Consider It

First A Word Of Caution About How The Life Insurance Industry Operates

An agent who pushes one company above the others is doing his or her clients a disservice. Every company has its positives and negatives and each company has focused on certain demographics to try to create a competitive edge. There are 17 life insurance companies in the fortune 500 alone. These companies have very similar investment portfolios and conduct business in ways that are more common than not. Eight of these companies are mutual, nine are stock companies, and they all operate in order to make a profit. The most important thing that anybody can do is to have an agent who can help them shop the market for the company that is going to fit their needs best. Somebody that is a smoker with high blood pressure is going to have better options outside of the companies that target nonsmokers without health conditions. Finding the least expensive company on the market for your age and health can save you thousands of dollars.

I used to work for an insurance agency where we only sold a single triple-A-rated-insurance company. When I worked for this agency, my fellow agents and I were especially inculcated with the benefits of this company’s whole life insurance. This situation is not unique.

Captive agencies have managers that groom agents to push one company because they get paid commissions when their agents sell these products. Please don’t assume that life insurance agents are experts on the benefits of different companies and types of insurance plans, because many of them are unaware of the benefits beyond their own company. Instead of consulting their clients and shopping the market they push a single product that doesn’t always match up well. There are far too many people being given advice from agents to consider whole life insurance, because they are trained to present the same products to every client.

When You Are Considering An Insurance Company It Will Always Be Advantageous For Some People And Ill Advised For Others

If you sit down with an agent who goes over a list of benefits about a single insurance company, keep in mind that most benefits are really trade-offs. For instance, if a company is a triple-A rated insurance company than they are probably also more conservative with whom they insure. A triple-A rating is great, but it is really only necessary if you plan on participating in the companies dividends, or in other words buying their whole life insurance. There is no need to pay extra money for the privilege of having a triple-A rated company as many agents insist. A.M. Best considers a company with an A-rating to be in excellent financial health and there are many A-rated companies with less expensive insurance offers if you are not planning on participating in whole life.

When Whole Life Insurance is a Good Idea

For some people, whole life insurance can be a great complement to their financial security. I have sold whole life insurance based on the following benefits.
1) It has a guaranteed return that will consistently build up the cash value in the policy.
2) It gives policyholders permanent insurance so that they are insured throughout their lifetime.
3) It allows them to stop paying premiums after a certain number of years, because the dividends from the company will be enough to keep the policy in force.
4) It allows policyholders to take cash from the policy in the form of a loan, so that you have another option if liquidity is needed.
5) The growth of the policy is tax deferred and tax-free as long as long as the policy is kept in force.

The problem can be that many of these benefits point to life insurance as an asset or investment. Life insurance should always be considered for the death benefit first and foremost. If you have already maxed out both your Roth Ira and 401(k), have at least three months of expenses in accessible savings, and are looking for something else to build up savings then whole-life insurance can be a good option. The point is that whole life insurance is a good choice when you have the ability to max out your qualified retirement funds and are looking to complement your savings with a conservative tie in to your life insurance.

Whole life can be a mistake for a couple of reasons

There are risks when putting your money into whole life insurance. The risks aren’t always clearly explained, because the agents focus on the guaranteed dividends that will grow the cash value every year. However, one significant risk is buying into whole-life insurance, paying the premiums for a number of years, and then not being able to keep up with the premiums down the road. Life insurance companies bank on this happening to a certain percentage of policyholders.
If this occurs you are in danger of losing thousands of dollars in paid premiums without the benefit of accumulating any cash value. When a policy lapses or you can’t keep up with whole life premiums then the insurance company will retain your premiums without you having any cash value built up or any insurance in force.
These whole life polices are structured to have large front end expenses and it will take at least a couple of years before your premiums start to build up cash value. It takes about ten years before the amount of premiums you put into the policy will equal the cash value in the policy.

How Cash Value In Whole Life Insurance Works

The other risk with whole life insurance is not understanding how the cash value in the policy works and taking out too much of it. The cash value in the policy is liquid, but the insurance company will let you take out about 97% of it in order to protect against the policy lapsing. Any cash that is taken out of the policy is loaned from the policy at interest.

Lets assume that you are in the first 20 years of your whole life policy and are taking a loan from the cash value in the policy. The loaned interest rate is 8.0 %, the non-loaned dividend interest rate is 6.85%, and the loaned-dividend interest is rate is 7.9 %. Notice that the insurance company steps up the interest rate on the loaned amount or the amount borrowed from your cash value. This mitigates the cost of the loan, but the loan still creates an ongoing obligation to pay interest. For instance the cost of borrowing here would be 6.95 %.

(The loaned interest rate (8.0 %) + (the non-loaned dividend interest rate (6.85%) – the loaned-dividend interest rate (7.9%)) = cost of borrowing (6.95%).

The cash value in the policy is really a double-edged sword, because it leads to a significant risk that you will not be able to keep up with the premiums. It is practically intended for people who can repay the loan quickly so that the policy continues to develop dividends instead of an obligation to pay interest. It is great for people who aren’t ever tempted to borrow from the policy, because the dividends will compound and eventually be able to cover the cost of annual premiums. When this occurs the risk of lapsing will be negligible. However, this takes quite some time to achieve and it truly depends on how disciplined you can afford to be with the additional cost of these premiums. If you would rather have control of your money up front there is an argument that you can buy term and invest the rest instead of leveraging the insurance companies general fund.

Your Personality Profile And Budget Must Be In Line

I recommend taking a look at both your budget and how much control you want over your money for at least the next ten years if you are considering whole life. Because term insurance can now permanently lock in your age and health in the same manner as whole life insurance, the biggest question is whether or not you want control over investing the difference in premiums. Many people prefer whole life insurance because they don’t have to think about investing the difference; the insurance company does it for them. They can also grow their death benefit by the amount of growth in cash value and act as their own creditor if they ever want to borrow cash from the policy.

A Couple Other Points About Whole Life Insurance

The cash value component in a whole life insurance policy needs to be addressed. The first is that cash value is based on compounding dividends. So the longer you keep the paying premiums the more advantageous it is. The second is that if you go with a reliable insurance company they will usually pay non-guaranteed dividends that are based on the results of an insurance companies investments. This is when rating is important to consider, because you are now participating in these dividends. Also if you have allowed the cash value to grow and take out modest loans from the policy later in life, you will most likely have enough in dividends to keep pace beyond the ongoing obligation of interest. However if you do surrender the policy the gains will be taxed as capital gains and you will have to pay a surrender charge as well. If the policy is in force and you pass away while there are still outstanding loans, the death benefit will be paid out after it covers the cost of the loans that you have taken from the policy.

Term Insurance Vs. Whole Life

I believe the most important factor in all of this is the human element. If you are patient, conservative, and comfortably able to continue paying premiums without the temptation to borrow from the cash-value then you are a good candidate for whole life insurance. The majority of people have fluctuating budgets and circumstances where they are better off with something that locks in their age and health and gives them the opportunity to invest the difference elsewhere.

Student Car Loans Now Made Easy

Every young American student who is eligible for a valid driving license feels the need to own his or her own car. And in a way there need is justified, between college tuitions, home and part time jobs they are the ones who need an automobile the most. Most of the banks and credit unions are very wary of providing college student car loans, mainly because students have low income capacity. Even if they agree they may insist on a guarantor or a co signor for your loan, which may not be an option for everyone.

Online car loans for college going students

However in this modern era the advent of numerous online car finance companies have come as a boon for students. They have specially designed car loans for students with no credit. And these online car financing companies are not in a limited number. A few clicks on the internet search engines and you will be able to see a plethora websites that deals in online car financing for college students. Hence do not settle for auto finance deal until you have compared loan terms for your category in these sites. Some of the websites also functions as brokers allowing you to compare deals offered to you by various lending companies.

Car loans are usually fully secured loans, where in the car it is held as security by the lending organization. This is until you have paid your last due installment. So that if you default on your payments and are not able to pay back these loans then they will take possession of the car. Student car loans are no credit type financing as normally most students would not have taken part in credit transactions that are tracked by credit rating agencies. Hence it is advisable that they take the repayment of these loans seriously. This loan can be a stepping stone in building a secure financial future by starting to create a new positive credit history. But this can only be possible if they pay their installments on time without defaulting. If they do not, they face the ignominy of starting their credit history on a very negative note, where in future lenders would be very weary to give you any sort of financing services.

So students need to make an honest introspection and evaluation of kind of vehicle they need and can afford. Because there are other costs too involved with owning a car. Apart from the principal and the interest amount the student also has to pay for insurance; gas (it is advisable to choose the most fuel efficient one among the available options) and other maintenance cost (like servicing charges, oil change cost etc.). So be prudent and make a smart decision.

There are in point of fact some good advantages of college student car loans. Firstly if you pay off the car loan payments on time it will replicate positively on your credit score ratings. Credit agencies all the time look to see if you have taken out loans over the itinerary of your credit history. It is not easy for university students to get a student car loans with tight finances, but now many online lenders like www.carmoneyfast.com are offering student car financing at very affordable interest rate. Now students can get pre approved financing for car despite bad credit.

Over 40 Ways to Decrease Your Auto Insurance Costs

There are multiple articles titled “7 ways to save on car insurance” or “5 Tips to lower your auto insurance costs” etc, but would it not be great to have all those saving tricks and discounts at one place? Below you will find such a list for Auto insurance. This list is a comprehensive overview of all opportunities to save on car insurance in Canada, and was compiled based on the results of numerous discussions with insurance brokers and through analyses of different insurance offerings.

1. Shop around: Search, Compare, and switch insurance companies. There are many insurance providers and their price offerings for the same policies can be very different, therefore use multiple online tools and talk to several brokers since each will cover a limited number of insurance companies.

2. Bundle: Do you need Home and Auto Insurance? Most companies will offer you a discount if you bundle them together.

3. Professional Membership: Are you a member of a professional organization (e.g. Certified Management Accountants of Canada or The Air Canada Pilots Association)? Then some insurance companies offer you a discount.

4. Students: Being a student alone can result in a student discount.

5. Alumni: Graduates from certain Canadian universities ( e.g University of Toronto, McGill University) might be eligible for a discount at certain Insurance providers.

6. Employee / Union members: Some companies offer discounts to union members.

7. Seniors: Many companies offer special pricing to seniors.

8. Direct insurers: Have you always dealt with insurance brokers / agents? Getting a policy from a direct insurer (i.e. insurers working via call-center or online) often can be cheaper (but not always) since they do not pay an agent/broker commission for each policy sold.

9. Annual vs. monthly payments: In comparison to monthly payments, annual payments save insurers administrative costs (e.g. sending bills) and therefore they reward you lower premiums.

10. Loyalty: Staying with one insurer longer can sometimes result in a long-term policy holder discount.

11. Annual review: Review your policies and coverage every year, since new discounts could apply to your new life situation if it has changed.

12. Welcome discount: Some insurers offer a so called welcome discount.

13. Benchmark your costs: Knowing how much other consumers similar to you pay for their insurance can help you identify the most cost-friendly insurance providers.

14. Car Insurance Deductibles: Increase your car insurance deductibles if you believe that you are capable of incurring higher payments for damages in case of an accident. This is especially suited for more experienced car drivers.

15. Being a second driver: Driving a car only occasionally? Become a second drive instead of being a principal driver

16. Minimal coverage: Driving an old car without large value? Get a minimal coverage required by law (mainly liability) w/o collision damage (you are still protected if you damage somebody’s car but damages on your car will not be covered)

17. Minimal Coverage: Driving an old, inexpensive car? Then only get a minimal coverage plan which is required by the law (mainly liability) without collision damage coverage (does not cover damage costs for your vehicle)

18. Leverage your Credit Card: Check if your credit card insurance includes rental car protection. Paying with a card that has insurance for rental car protection can you save you around $20 per day in Collision Damage Waiver fees.

19. Leverage rental car coverage: If you frequently rent cars and have an auto insurance policy, you should check if your own auto insurance policy actually covers the rental car. If it is the case, you can save on all Collision Damage Waiver costs for rental vehicles.

20. Rental car rider: If your existing auto insurance policy does not cover your rental car, you can often add it as a rider (policy extension) for $20-30 dollars a year. Compared to $20/day you would pay when renting a car, it’s not a bad deal!

21. Location, location, location: Car insurance costs are different from one province to another (e.g. moving from Ontario to Quebec will surely reduce your insurance costs by half). If you move within a province, you should check for any changes in car insurance costs, and ideally you should move to where costs are lower (e.g. Burlington, Ontario has one of the highest car insurance rates in Ontario)

22. CAA member: CAA Members: Are you a member of the CAA? Some insurance providers will reward you with lower insurance premiums, including, of course, the CAA.

23. Dashboard camera: Get a dashboard camera for your vehicle. Even though installing a dashboard camera does not result in direct savings (insurance companies do not offer any insurance discount related to dashboard cameras) but it can prove you not-at-fault when it is the case in an accident. It results in you avoiding unfair premium raises.

24. Driving Course: Successfully completing a driving course is sometimes recognized by some insurance providers and could help you reduce your premiums.

25. Improving your driving record: Do you have a bad driving record? Every three years previously incurred tickets are removed from your insurance history and your insurance premiums can go down.

26. At-Fault Accidents: Have you been in a couple of accidents in the past where you were at fault? With a little patience (six years with no accidents), your risk profile will improve allowing you to once again enjoy reasonable insurance premium rates.

27. Age: Senior drivers enjoy lower auto insurance premiums. Thus in several years your premiums can go down.

28. Car Make and Model: Wisely choose your car, as some car models are more susceptible to theft or even have a history of more risky drivers (e.g. Toyota Camry, Acura MDX, Toyota RAV4, and Honda Civic are usually quite expensive to insure)

29. Good Student: Yes, having good grades can have many positive impacts, and even on your auto insurance rates! E.g. one insurance company rewards students who are younger than 25 and have good grades (grade average of B or higher) with a discount up to 25%.

30. Multiple-cars-bundle: Bundle several cars on one policy and your rate can go down

31. Anti-theft system: Installing a certified anti-theft system in your car results in a lower risk of theft and thus can lead to insurance discounts.

32. Winter Tires: Having winter tires is important for driving safety during the winter, but can also help reduce your insurance premiums.

33. Repair costs: Choose a car that would cost less to repair in case of damage. The repair costs for certain cars (e.g. Mini Cooper or BMW) are higher than other (e.g. Ford Focus) and insurance providers are aware of that.

34. Claim History: Keeping a clean claims history can sometimes be more financially feasible than submitting claims for small damage repairs which could result in increased premiums. Contacting an insurance provider/broker could help you find out what makes sense.

35. Being married: In most provinces your marital status affects your insurance premiums (except in Nova Scotia)

36. Short distance to work: Finding a house close to your place of work reduces the distance that you need drive daily to work and thus results in lower insurance premiums.

38. Drop glass coverage: For cars with inexpensive windshields, it can be more economical to drop the glass coverage since in combination with the deductibles to be paid in case of an accident you’d pay more. It is up to you to calculate.

39. Retiree Discounts: Some insurance companies will offer different retirement discounts for drivers.

40. Disabilities: Some companies offer discounts for people with disabilities.

41. Hybrid vehicles: Many companies award driving a hybrid vehicle with lower insurance premiums.

42. Private Garage: Parking your car in a safe location (e.g. private or secure garage) normally results in lower insurance premiums with auto insurance providers.

Car Loans After Bankruptcy Made Easier

Car loans after bankruptcy can be a little more difficult than your previous loan you may have applied for before your financial downfall. This does not mean that it is impossible to get a loan. Now there is good news for those looking for a new car after bankruptcy. Getting car loans after bankruptcy is more likely today for those who find themselves in these circumstances.

There are a few things that you can do to help you get the approval you need for a car loan. Let’s explore a few steps you can take to make car loans after bankruptcy easier.

Begin by double-checking your credit history reports. Pull your credit reports from Equifax, Transunion and Experian and go through them with a fine tooth comb to be sure that all debts that were to be removed in the bankruptcy are no longer on the reports. Sometimes, the bureaus can miss taking off a debt that has actually been discharged through your bankruptcy and this can lower your credit score more than it should.

You may want to draft up a letter to send to each of the three credit bureaus explaining the reasons for filing bankruptcy. If you had a setback due to a divorce, extreme medical bills or a temporary loss of job, this letter could give you a better chance at getting lower interest rates. Potential lenders will be able to read the explanation and may take this into consideration when deciding to grant you a car loan after bankruptcy. In addition, feel free to explain the steps you have taken to begin to rebuild your FICO score.

After reviewing your credit reports the next step would be to take a good hard look at your current finances. Evaluate the monthly payment you can realistically handle for a car loan along with all your other financial obligations. Don’t forget to allow for insurance and maintenance. Do your best to choose a car that will help you stay on track and make your monthly payments on time. Paying your car payment on or before the due date is the quickest way to rebuild your credit history.

Once you have successfully paid the car loan for a year, chances are good that you will have the opportunity to refinance with a lower interest rate. Make a note to yourself to recheck your credit score after the first year and begin to look for refinancing at that point. This could save you money over the balance of the car loan after bankruptcy.

And, finally research a car dealership or auto broker that has expertise in finding car loans after bankruptcy. Some dealerships and brokers have special finance departments. Because of the volume of special loans they secure, these experts can typically find you lower interest rates. And, this will make your monthly payments lower. With the lower monthly payments you will have a better chance to regain your financial borrowing power and improve your overall credit history.