3 Great Online Tools for Money Management

In our search to bring you the very best sites online to help you with your money management, we turned to the experts themselves. The following three sites have helped millions of people to get a handle on their financial ‘big picture’, make a budget they can live with, and even get out of debt. Best of all, each one of these sites come highly recommended by experts in the field of money.

Mint.com

This site comes with a hearty recommendation from Kiplinger and boasts of helping more than 20 million people with their finances. It’s free to sign up, although it is unclear as to whether or not there may be fees for certain services once you get started.

What Mint does best is help you get all your financial information together in one place. Yes, you have to give them access to your bank accounts, credit cards, bills, and any other information you want help in tracking, but rest assured that they offer bank-level security. Your information is safe with them in what Kiplinger refers to as ‘bond-movie-like fashion”.

Once they have all of your information in one place, they can help you finally get a handle on exactly where your money is going. Then they can offer ideas and help to get that same income to go even farther.

Readyforzero.com

This site is another that comes with a Kiplinger recommendation. The goal of this site is a simple one: to help you become debt free. Once again, you begin by giving them access to your finances. They then help you make a customized plan to pay off your debt, and easily track your progress. They even give you access to a free credit score and the ability to watch your score improve as you follow your plan. Best of all, this site is very upfront about being totally free to join and use.

FlexScore.com

This site’s recommendation comes from Forbes. Probably the easiest of the three sites to use, you simply complete a profile with them (the more information you give them the more accurate your financial picture). Once your profile is complete, they will give you a FlexScore and then give you some actionable steps to take to improve that score to get more out of your financial life.

Any one of these three great online tools for money management will help you get a grasp on your finances, so why not start with one of them today? Whether you are saving for a new house or just wanting to get the freedom of being out of debt, managing your money is the key. Of course, if the new house is your goal, we hope you’ll contact us when you are ready to take that step.

Disclaimer: The material provided on this website is not intended to be your only source of information when you are making financial decisions. Pacific Mortgage Group is not a financial advisor. The information provided should be treated as a guide only and it not a substitute for independent professional advice. You should seek independent professional advice relevant to your particular circumstances.


How Do VA Loans Work?

How Do VA Loans Work

Purchasing a home is probably the biggest financial decision you’ll ever have to make. If you’re a veteran, you can  apply for a VA loan to buy an existing home, construct your own house or purchase a condominium or townhouse.

What’s more, VA loans can also be used for making home improvements such as installing storm windows, insulation and other features that promote energy efficiency. Here’s how VA loans work, along with some of their benefits.

Who Qualifies for a VA Loan?

Besides veterans, VA loans are also for people who are currently serving in the United States military, along with their spouses. However, there are some qualifications need to be fulfilled.

For example, anyone interested in buying a home must have served for at least 181 days during peacetime or must have completed 90 days of active service during times of war. Another requirement is having a record of six years of service in the National Guard or the Reserves.

Advantages of VA Loans

VA loans offer several benefits. One of the main perks is that you don’t need to put down any money as you would have to do when getting a conventional loan. This makes buying a home easier for people who’ve served their country.

Also, you don’t have to pay a monthly fee for PMI or private mortgage insurance, which saves you a considerable amount of money. Consider that with a conventional loan, you could have monthly payments that are as high as $65 for the first three to five years.

Another advantage is that you have less closing costs. VA loans have interest rates that are very competitive. In fact, the rates for VA loans are almost always lower than those of conventional loans. Also, if you pay off your loan early, you don’t have to pay a penalty.

What’s Involved in the Loan Process

  • First, obtain a copy of your credit report through Experian, TransUnion or Equifax, which are the three main credit bureaus.
  • Next, find a lender, comparing the various closing costs. Apply at approved financial institutions and banks that offer home financing through VA loans.
  • The next step is to pre-qualify for your loan as this helps in determining how much you can borrow, as well as gives a lender details, regarding your assets and income. Although pre-qualifying for a loan isn’t required, it’s a good idea because you’ll need to know what you can afford when searching a home.
  • Search for your home. This can be done by using a realtor or other means such as real estate ads in newspapers or online sources.
  • Draw up a purchasing contract, which outlines the specific conditions and terms regarding a real estate transfer. A purchasing contract will also include important data on easements, restricts, property liens, and other items.
  • Ask the Veterans Administration for an appraisal; the amount of your loan should not be more than what the VA estimate of a property’s value. This is needed for a loan to be finalized.
  • Finally, go to the loan closing where you’ll need to sign the loan note, mortgage, and other papers.

Considerations and Warnings

  • You’ll need to pay a fee for VA funding if this is your first VA loan. However, it’s not that much as it’s just 1.5 percent of the amount of your loan. This can be paid at the time of your closing, provided you pay a somewhat higher rate.
  • Your loan may not cover lender closing expenses. These costs, which are paid by either the seller or the buyer, usually include those such as recording fees, title insurance, a credit report, discount points and a loan origination fee.

Let the mortgage professionals at Pacific Mortgage Group answer any questions you may have. For more information about obtaining a VA loan, please contact us.