Personal Finance Questions & Answers

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Personal Finance Advice

The questions listed in this section were submitted by our readers and the personal finance advice is provided by our research staff. If you have a question and need personal finance advice, please send us an email at questions [at] askdeb.com.


What Is a Self-Certified Mortgage?

A self certified mortgage is a type of mortgage used by people who
have trouble verifying their income. It’s an option used mostly by
people who are self employed.

What is a Money Market Account?

A money market account is a specific type of savings account offered by banks and credit unions. A money market account is kind of like a combination of savings and checking accounts with high interest rates as well as a few additional restrictions.

What Is a Second Mortgage?

You may have heard people talk about how they had to take “a second mortgage” on their house — usually this is used to describe a person’s personal financial problems.

How Much Is My Car Worth?

There are a few reasons why you may ask, “How much is my car worth?” You could be selling your car or it could have been totaled in an accident. Maybe you are self employed and need to know the value for accounting purposes.

How Much Will My Mortgage Be?

When you want to know how much your mortgage will be, there are several resources online that make it easy to get an estimate. Just search for “mortgage calculator” and you will find several sites with useful online calculators.

What is Equity?

When we talk about equity, we are usually talking about the equity in your home. Equity is essentially the value of your ownership interest in the property. For instance, if your home is worth $200,000, and you owe the bank $150,000 on your mortgage, your equity in the property is $50,000.

What Is a Checking Account?

Your checking account will allow you or your business to deposit money and withdraw funds from a bank account that is insured by the Federal government. The terms of a checking account will vary widely from bank to bank, but there are a few general facts about these accounts.

Best Places to Live in the United States

There are any number of factors to consider when trying to determine the best places to live in the US.  The cost of living, quality of schools, work environment, health indicators and cultural opportunities all figure into any good ranking.

Can I Get Sued in an Auto Accident?

You can be sued if you are the cause of an auto accident, but I wouldn’t say it is “likely” you will be sued. Lawsuits require money and legal hassles for the person filing the lawsuit, and people aren’t likely to file a suit unless they think they have a good case and it’s worth that trouble – that is, if the person thinks you have a lot of money to take.

Cheap Real Estate In Detroit

Detroit has seen a lot of interest from investors lately. No, they are not interested in cars. Investors are checking out the market prices on real estate. Detroit currently has some of the lowest priced homes on the U.S. market.

Cheapest Homes In Canada

When on the hunt for a second home for investment, to holiday, or to retire to, many people in the U.S. look for cheap homes in exotic locations. Costa Rica, Italy, Mexico, or France are popular locations.

Cheapest Homes In Mexico

Mexico has long proved to be a good place to buy a second home or to retire. The weather is warm and there is a wide variety of locations to live. You can live in the mountains, in the wide countryside, in the suburbs, or along the miles of pristine coastline.

How To Refinance A Mortgage

Refinancing a mortgage is a good way to lower your monthly payments as well as giving you some extra cash. Refinancing is beneficial because you can catch up on some additional bills, put the money into a savings, or take a vacation.

House Buying Tips

Hunting for your dream home can be both exciting and frustrating. In your head, you know what you want but the reality of finding it is something entirely different. It has to do with price, location, new home versus older home, credit, and how long you plan on staying there.

How To Invest In Real Estate

The real estate market has had its highs and lows. When it is high, it draws in a flurry of investors, all seeking to turn a profit. When the market is low, those investors disappear like rats from a sinking ship.

Where To Find Foreclosure Listings

As the real estate market continues to struggle, there are more foreclosures happening every month. It is a terrible time to be a home owner in financial straights. But if you are looking to save money on a home, the sea of foreclosed homes offer a whole new way to save money.

Where To Find Cheap Homes For Sale

The real estate market today is full of some great bargains. While the slump in the economy is difficult for homeowners, it is a buyer’s paradise when looking for a new home.

What Are The World’s Best Cities?

Every city in the world claims to have some characteristics that make it a great city. And usually they are right. Just about every city will have something about it that people will find appealing.

What is TARP?

TARP is an anachronism for the Troubled Assets Relief Program. The TARP resulted from legislation enacted by Congress in October 2008, called the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act, or EESA.

persona-financeHow To Be A Bargain Finder

With the economy in its current state, everyone is looking to save a few dollars here and there. Since the price of just about everything from gas to groceries is on the rise.

How To Find Apartment Prices

If you live in an apartment, rent is the biggest living expense in your budget. You need to know how to find apartment prices to make sure you are not paying too much where you live.

Is The Federal Income Tax Legal?

Does anybody really like paying their taxes? Have you ever known someone who really enjoyed paying in their hard earned money to the government? Federal Income taxes are a way of life here in America.

How Does College Tuition Work?

Many parents tend to worry about how they are going to pay for their child’s college education after they are done with high school.

Where Are the Most Expensive Places to Live in the USA?

Many things are taken into consideration when you are looking at the cost of living. Things such as rent, utilities, gas, and food, are just a few of the many things that get looked at.

What Is An Adverse Credit Remortgage?

It is often necessary to remortgage your home. The term of the original mortgage may have expired or you just may want to take advantage of a lower interest rate with a new lender.

What Kind of Money Skills Do I Need In The 21st Century?

Learning new money skills for the 21st century is a matter of learning a few technology skills, but mainly learning the financial systems in place to help you make new sources of income and maximize your savings with the biggest interest rates.

How Can I Be More Frugal?

Being more frugal requires a certain amount of self-discipline. Some people naturally have discipline and some people don’t.

How Do You Consolidate Student Loans?

Getting a higher education these days can be quite expensive. With the rising cost of tuition plus all those expensive books, it can cost a near fortune.

What Is Life Assurance?

By nature, insurance policies are designed to protect someone against an event that might happen. The policy holder pays an insurer a yearly premium to cover a specified risk.

What Is a 401k Plan?

A 401K plan is a retirement savings account with deferred income taxes on both earnings and saved money. 401k plans generally are available for employees of private-sector companies, though some self-employed individuals can start their own 401-k savings plan.

What Is an IRA? What Are the Different Kinds of IRAs?

An “IRA” is an “Individual Retirement Account”. IRA accounts provide tax advantages when people invest in these funds, because someone saving in an IRA doesn’t have to pay taxes until the money is withdrawn.

What Are Annuities and How Do They Affect Retirement Planning?

An “annuity” is a set of fixed payments that are made over a specific time period. The most common annuity is made quarterly. (Quarterly annuities are made over the four quarters of a year or every three months.)

What Are Bonds and How Do I Invest in Them?

Bonds are a “debt security” where an issuer of the bonds takes on a debt with the person buying the bond. The bond issuer is required to pay back the loan at interest at a fixed later time, which is generally known as the “maturity” of the bond. Therefore, a “bond holder” is a creditor, while the company or government issuing bonds is a debtor.

What Are Stocks And How Do I Invest In The Stock Market?

“Stocks” are synonymous with “shares” in the financial world. The term “equity share” is also used and refers to the original term “share of stocks”.

What Are Mutual Funds & How Do I Invest In Mutual Funds?

Mutual funds are called “mutual” because it the fund pools money from numerous investors to invest in a variety of securities. A “fund” in investment terms is not a single investment, but investments in numerous securities, such as bonds, stocks and money markets.

How Do Banks Work?

Banks allow people to borrow and loan money, and continue in business by their ability to earn interest off the money that is banked in their institution.

How Do Credit Cards Work?

Credit cards are issues by banks, credit unions and a few publicly-traded corporations. When a person is given a credit card by one of these entities, that person is given a “line of credit”. The line of credit is essentially a credit limit or money limit.

What Are Employee Stock Options?

“Employee stock options” are issued by corporations to employees which help to include employees in the growth and performance of their employer and company. Stock options allow, but do not obligate, these employees to buy shares of a company.

What Is Asset Allocation?

“Asset allocation” describes how investor arrange their portfolios, or distribute their investments in the many different kinds of securities investments.

What Is Equifax? How Do You Contact Equifax?

Equifax Incorporated is one of the “big three” consumer credit reporting agencies in America. Equifax gathers credit information on all potential credit card users in the U.S. When you apply for a credit card, the credit card companies contact either Equifax, Experian or TransUnion.

What Is Experian? How Do You Contact Experian?

Experian is a British-based credit card information agency, which got into the U.S. credit market in 1996 with its acquisition of TRW Information Services. Experian is considered one of the big three U.S. credit information institutions, though it is younger than TransUnion (1968) and much younger than Equifax (1899).

What Is A Fico Score? How Do I Improve My Fico Score?

A “Fico score” rates the likelihood that you’ll default on a loan. FICO scores are compiled by the Fair Isaac Corporation (F.I.C.O. being an acronym for Fair Isaac COrporation).

How Does A Credit Report Work?

A “credit report” is your personal history, including your basic personal information, public records, personal credit history and who has made recent inquiries about your credit report.

What Is Identity Theft? How Can I Prevent Identity Theft?

Identity theft is when someone uses some of your personal information (such as a name, date-of-birth or social security number) to commit fraud. The most common form of identity theft is credit card fraud.

What Is Phishing? How Do I Avoid Phishing Schemes?

“Phishing” is a type of internet fraud where someone using an email or instant message tries to get a person to reveal sensitive personal information such as online passwords and credit card details.

How Do You Repair Your Credit Rating?

There are several ways to repair your credit rating. Credit scores rate the likelihood that you will default on a loan and that you will pay off your credit debts, so there are specific factors used to determine your credit rating.

How Do You Make A Budget When Planning Your Personal Finances?

Most people I know don’t budget their personal finances, except in their head. Planning a personal or household budget helps you avoid overspending, though, so everyone should plan a budget for their weekly and monthly expenses.

What Do I Need To Know About Social Security As It’s Related To My Retirement?

Social Security is a government-sponsored social insurance program which has existed since 1935. “Social Security” organizations by the same name also exist in Sweden and Australia, but we’ll discuss the social security in the United States in this article.

How Do You Save Money For A College Education?

Saving money for your child’s college education is harder now than ever, given the sorry state of the U.S. economy and the credit crisis. You might think college education savings for your child are not as important as paying the mortgage or even saving for your retirement, and you may be right about that.

How Do You Save Money On Magazine Subscriptions?

Saving money on magazine subscriptions is one way people are looking to trim their budget in a bad economy. If reading magazine publications is one of your favorite past times, though, giving up some of your favorite monthly mags might be hard.

Where Are The Cheapest Places To Live?

If you want to live cheaply, you’re probably going to have to move from either of the two American coastal cities to one of the landlocked states in the middle of the U.S. According to multiple sources like Forbes Online, MSN Online and Today Technology, the cheapest places to live in American tend to be in states like Oklahoma and Kansas.

Where Are The Best Places To Retire?

The title of “best places to retire” probably depends on what you have in mind for your retirement. Do you want to retire to a beach somewhere? Or do you prefer winter sports to enjoy your leisure time?

How Can I Get The Best Deal When Buying A Car?

A large segment of the population considers the haggling and back-and-forth of buying a new car to be a big hassle. But besides negotiating a home mortgage, buying a car is often the biggest purchase a person will make.

What Kinds Of Personal Finance Software Are Available?

There seem to be a million kinds of personal finance software available on the market. If you go to your local electronics retailer, you’ll find the personal finance software section of the store seems filled with choices. It’s hard to know what each software package offers and which one is best for you.

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