Top Budget and Personal Finance Apps

Let’s face it, there are some extreme couponers, thrifters, and smart consumers out there always trying to save money and get the best deals. With budgets that much more tight in these tough economic times, it’s okay to get a little help from none other than our smartphone apps. I mean, why not, right? We have our smartphones with us nearly every minute of the day, so this kind of smart budgeting is accessible to anyone. Keep track of your monthly spending, set limits on each category of goodies you purchase, save money, and look up investment ideas and accounts has never been easier. Read on to see how you can always control and be on top of your personal finances. We’ll reveal the top budgeting and smart spending apps for you thrifty shoppers out there!

For one, there are so many budget tracking apps out there, but a really useful one would come with a budget tracker tool that will allow you to view your yearly, monthly, weekly, and daily purchases. You can further categorize them and see visually and through charts and notifications how much you spend exactly in each category. There is also a rollover option for you to transfer leftover funds from previous months or weeks to roll over and won’t mess up your budgeting. Of course, you can always opt out of this option and have a set number of expenses every month.

Another useful app gives you control to add new transactions over your allotted sum of money and spending finances. Pre-setting an overall budget for the entire month, and thereby deducing every time you make a purchase gives you instant updates on the money you have and the money you are losing. These transactions are totally customizable. Currency converters may also be useful if you plan on spending your money in a foreign country. We all get carried away when we travel, but this app makes it easy to stay focused on the budget, even when you’re not familiar with the currency exchange.

Another great app gives you total control over importing your finances onto your phone from an external memory device – your laptop, desktop, or anything with wireless. You can also set a password to manage your personal finances with utmost privacy. Charts and graphs give you short and easy to read summaries of your account activity. You can share these things in the form of PDF, Excel spreadsheet, or import to Google Documents in order to share with your family, business collegiate, execs, or co-workers.

If you are comfortable, some apps may even connect directly to your bank account and give you automatic categorized notifications of your spending. It will constantly update your spending profile and read instant in depth overviews. Any suspicious activity will be announced. Budget tracking is that easy!

In fact, budget tracking has made it easier to keep track of your credit scores, and credit score reports. Why not try to improve your credit score while you are managing your personal finances? If you use the right app, your personal finances will be in a much better place.

10.5 Hints to Help You Get a Car Loan

1. Know your credit score.

Get a copy of your credit report. Review it for errors and make any corrections before you try and get a loan. If there are major errors in your credit report, consider delaying your application until the corrections are completed. This will make sure you keep the car dealers honest. If you desperately need transportation, try renting a car short term until your credit report is straightened out. You may actually save money on fuel, insurance and repairs by renting which you can add to your down payment.

2. Have an explanation for your credit issues.

Don’t be apologetic. Bad things happen to good people. Be specific about any problems or crisis that caused your problem. Let the bank know about any major upheaval in your life that may have led to your problems such as an illness or a natural disaster, like Katrina, or 9-11. Make sure that you can substantiate your claim.

3. Don’t lie about anything on the credit app.

Lenders will turn reject your loan if they find you lied to them.

4. Know your income.

Make sure you can prove what you make. Have your proof readily available.

5. Save your down payment.

More down means more car. Larger down payments can sometimes get a lender to view your application more favorably.

6. Know what the payoff on your trade-in is.

If you are trading in a car with a payoff, get a ten day payoff from the lender. If you have a warranty or additional policies bought with the vehicle, find out if you can cancel them. This will lower your payoff or entitle you to a refund after the vehicle is paid off.

7. Know what your car is worth.

Check out NADA or KBB first. Go to CarMax and see what they will buy it for. Use these figures to negotiate the best trade in value. Remember, If you get more than the payoff, that amount becomes down payment.

8. Buy what you need, not what you want.

Set realistic expectations. Don’t buy more payment than you can truly afford. Rebuild your credit first, than rebuild your image later.

9. Don’t be argumentative.

Nice people get better deals than people who give sales reps a hard time.

10. Try other sources to get a loan.

Check online. Lenders such as Capital One, HSBC, Roadloans, and CitiFinancial all have websites which let you apply direct to them for a loan. You may get better rates and terms from lenders online than from a dealer.

Check your credit union or insurance co. They may have a loan program or lender relationship. A good payment history with your insurance company may help you get a loan from their bank. Credit unions can sometimes do automatic payroll deductions, which guaranty you pay the loan, so they may be more receptive.

10.5 Don’t go from dealer to dealer.

Excessive inquiries can be a reason a lender declines your application.

BONUS HINT!

Don’t be misled by “Every application is accepted”

Just because a dealer says your application is accepted, that doesn’t meen that your loan is approved. Accepting your application means that the dealership will take your infomration to submit to a lender. It’s up to the lender to approve your loan application, not the dealership.

DOUBLE BONUS HINT!!

Adverse action notification under the Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA) and the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) requires a creditor obligation to furnish certain information to a customer seeking financing
whenever a decision is made that is adverse to the customer. This means that a dealership must submit your application to a lender for adecision or THEY (the dealership) must furnish you with an Adverse Action Notice describing why THEY (the dealership) declined to approive your request for a loan, AS SUBMITTED. Unless the dealership has their own finance company, they are required by law to either submit your application to a lender or tell you what information the dealership has used in order to decline your request for credit. If a dealership dopes not submit your application, they may be in violation of these two federal laws!

Geoff Cohen is a seasoned auto professional, with over 30 years experience. He has done it all, from sales rep to F&I Manager, New Car Manager, Used Vehicle Manager, up to GSM and GM. He has also worked as an area sales manager for a major sub-prime lender as well as run his own BHPH and Auto Leasing/Brokerage company.. He is the National Accounts Manager for AutoLending Network and is a contributing author to Subprimeconsulting.com, a blog about Special Finance solutions for auto dealers as well as F&I Magazine and World of Special Finance Magazine

New Auto Purchase – Lease VS Buy

Essentially, Leasing is just an alternative way to finance a new vehicle. We know that when purchasing a new vehicle the down payment, sales tax and license fees are required to be paid up front. However when leasing a new vehicle you are required to pay only the first monthly payment, a security deposit (usually same as monthly payment), and the license fees. The sales tax (which is based on the capitalized value of the vehicle) is actually amortized over the term of the lease in most states. In other words, the taxes are included in the monthly payments.

Capitalized Cost

Essentially the capitalized cost of a new vehicle is the actual price you have agreed to pay for the vehicle.

Gross Capitalized Cost

The gross capitalized cost of a new vehicle includes the selling price of the vehicle (which is the capitalized cost plus acquisition fees, extended warranty, accident & health insurance, dealer title fee, payoff on your trade-in, credit life insurance, gap insurance and any other fees the dealer decides to charge you). Buyer beware; that most people really don’t ever know what their capitalized cost is because it is buried within the gross capitalized cost and the dealer doesn’t actually reveal this number unless he has to. Most car deals made at auto dealerships are negotiated on the basis of payment rather than price. This applies to both leasing and purchasing. Don’t get caught in this trap! Make the dealer reveal the selling price for every payment offer he makes you!

Adjusted Capitalized Cost
The adjusted capitalized cost of a new vehicle is the gross capitalized cost minus (-) your down payment, net trade-in amount, rebates, license fees and taxes along with any other deductions given.

Depreciation/Residual

When purchasing a new vehicle your payments are based on the full value or selling price, plus extended warranty, tax & license, minus (-) rebate, down payment and net trade-in value. However, when you lease a vehicle your payments are based only on the “depreciation or your use” of the vehicle during the entire term of the lease. The depreciation is actually only a portion of the capitalized cost of the vehicle and is determined by the term of the lease, number of miles driven and condition of the vehicle at the end of the lease. The payments on a lease are based on the deprecation money factor (which is a form of interest rate) and the amortized taxes. Therefore, you can actually drive a more expensive vehicle with a lower payment if you lease. Please note that the depreciation is actually estimated and set at the inception of the lease.

The residual is the portion or balance of the adjusted capitalized cost after the deprecation has been deducted. The residual is just put aside in limbo until the end of the lease. The higher the residual – the lower your monthly payment. At the end of the lease you have two options. You can either turn the vehicle back into the bank or leasing company, or you can buy the vehicle outright for the residual balance. You can even refinance the residual. But keep in mind if you turn in the vehicle with more mileage than allowed on your contract, you will be charged any where from .12¢ to .25¢ for each extra mile. In an auto lease you are limited to a specific number of miles in your lease contact. The average would be from 12,000 to 15,000 miles per year. You may drive any number of miles in any given year but you cannot exceed the number of allotted miles or you will be penalized. If you purchase the vehicle the charge for the extra mileage will normally be waved. Most banks and finance companies will allow you to add an extra 15,000 to 20,000 miles to your lease contract depending on the term of the lease. However, the cost of the extra miles will be added to your gross capitalization cost and your monthly payment will be increased accordingly.

Ownership

When you have entered into a lease contract you cannot terminate the lease or turn-in your vehicle prior to the ending date of the contract. If you do this the bank will report this as a voluntary repossession on your credit record. On an auto lease the vehicle is actually registered and titled to the bank or leasing company. Therefore you do not own the vehicle, the bank does. You get to use the vehicle and are legally responsible for the upkeep and maintenance. Please note, if you don’t maintain the vehicle during the lease you will be penalized for all excessive wear-and-tear when you turn it in. Also, if you really needed to get out of your lease you can buy out of the lease if you can get the financing or you can get someone to take over your lease. Of course, they will have to qualify.

Vehicle Warranties

The average new car warranty is 36 months or 36000 miles, which ever comes first. It is not recommended that you enter into a 4, 5 or 6 year lease contract because they are not economical. Even with a four-year lease it is common for the residual to be higher than the actual value of the vehicle at the end of the lease which makes it very hard to refinance. If you are like a lot of people you can lease a new vehicle every 2 to 3 years and never have to buy an extended warranty. The only time it would be beneficial to buy an extended warranty is if you knew you were going to buy the vehicle outright at the end of the lease.

Gap Insurance

Gap Insurance is basically insurance coverage on the difference between the actual value of your vehicle and the balance you owe on the lease including the residual. This kind of protection is needed in case your vehicle is involved in an accident and is declared a total loss. Gap Insurance is important especially for people who lease vehicles. The lease on a vehicle is actually designed for the balance owed to be upside-down in relation to the actual value of the vehicle until approximately the end date of the lease term. At this time the residual should fall in line or be equal to the vehicle’s actual value. Gap Insurance is good for purchase financing as well. The gap is not as large as in leasing, but you still stand the chance of having to put out a great deal of money.

Final Advice

Remember, there are two main factors you must consider when you are thinking about leasing an automobile. The first is how long you intend to keep the vehicle and the second
is how many miles you travel annually. If you intend to keep the vehicle a maximum of three years and you only average 15,000 miles a year, then you should definitely consider leasing. If you want to keep the new vehicle for more than three years, you should consider purchasing.

When you lease a vehicle, you very rarely have to put any money down, so lease a new vehicle every two to three years and you won’t owe any money on the old vehicle, plus you’ll never have to buy an extended warranty. Also, you will have spent a ton of money less for each vehicle than if you had purchased them. If you want to keep a vehicle longer just buy it at the end of the lease.

Remember, don’t let the dealer try to sell you on the basis of payments. Negotiate on the price only and when you have agreed on the price then tell them you have a trade-in. When you have agreed to your trade-in value then tell them you want to lease the new vehicle. Now you know what to do from here. Also, dealerships have a tendency to quote lease payments without the monthly tax. This makes a big difference in the monthly payments. If you don’t control this you will be sadly surprised when you go into the finance manager to sign the paperwork. One more thing – when you are signing the lease contract, be sure to verify that the trade-in value you have agreed upon is actually deducted from the capitalized cost. Otherwise the dealer could wind up purchasing your trade for pennies and you would never know.

The Top 10 Dealership Scams Part 3

Car Dealers have numerous ways to scam a potential buyer. Let’s continue examining a few of them so you know what to look out for when making your next car purchase:

6. The Dealer Mark up Scam

This is an unnecessary fee that the dealer charges for no reason other than greed. This fee can be seen on the orange sticker marked on the manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP).

The additional dealer markup is nothing more than requiring more money for no real reason. They can include all kinds of extra fees in the additional dealer markup.

When you see an extra dealer mark up fee, ask the dealer to get rid of it. If they refuse, it is pretty much up to you, but remember that if you do pay the extra dealer markup, you are overpaying for no real reason.

7. The Payoff Your Loan Scam

This is when the dealer offers to pay off the balance of your current car loan no matter how much money you still owe. It is a common sales strategy.
When the average buyer hears it, they think that by purchasing a new car with a new dealership, they will automatically owe no more money on their current car.

That couldn’t be further from the truth.

What really happens is that the dealership does help you get out of your current contract; however, they normally are forgetting to tell you how high your fees are going to be for breaking the lease agreement with your old dealership.

You will now be responsible to pay fees that are in the thousands to make up for it.

You also will not be able to refinance for a new car until those fees are paid. Of course the dealership can add the cost on to your contract with them at a substantially higher rate.

The dealership only agrees to this deal because they want to get more money off of your current car. They aren’t really doing anything for you at all.
The dealership will also give you far less then the car is worth on the trade off. Basically this scam works because they will up your monthly fees, and then sell your trade in for a more money than its worth.

The dealership then extends your monthly payments so that they can make it appear that you are paying a small amount monthly when you don’t even realize that you have committed to an extra year of payments.

To avoid this scam, you have to bite the bullet and ride out your current lease till the end. If you are really determined to get a new car, then you should try selling your current car on your own.

Just sell it so that the buyer just takes over the lease payments.

8. The Used Car Sold “As Is” Scam

This is when a dealership will sell you a car that has been in a car wreck, but they will tell you that the car has been completely refurbished.

When you see the car it has a sticker on it that says “as is” on it and no warranty is included with your purchase.

This is the dealer’s way of telling you that you can’t bring the car back, you are assuming all risks for the car, and that it is not under warranty.

To avoid this scam, don’t buy a car without a warranty or one that says “as is” on it. By doing this, you might as well buy a car from a stranger on the street with the same deal.

9. The Bounced Check Scam

This is when you walk into a dealership with a bank draft and the dealership charges that they can’t accept your draft because your bank bounces checks often so they now refuse checks from that bank.

Of course, this leaves the table open for them to get the extra money they want by offering to sell you a car at a higher interest rate.

You can avoid this scam first by getting your drafts from Capital One Auto Finance.

Then let the finance manager know that you are aware of the scam that they are pulling and that Capital One Auto Finance is in the business of giving loans so the checks don’t bounce.

10. The Forced Credit Application

If you are hoping to pay for a car outright or in cash with a bank draft or check that is what you should do. Some dealerships will not let you.

You will hear one of these lines so that they can try and get you into paying monthly terms for more money.

“State laws require that you must fill out a credit application before I can sell you this car.”

“Everyone that buys a car from us fills out a credit application first.”

“It’s the company’s policy”.

If you hear any of these lies, then know what’s going on. When you are paying cash why would you think that you need to fill out a credit application?

It doesn’t make sense. No state will force you to apply for credit when paying cash.

Would you have to fill out a credit report if you want to buy a sofa or groceries while paying cash? See how silly this is. To avoid this scam, just laugh in their faces.

Top 10 iPhone Apps for Personal Finance

There are many applications for the iPhone that give users the ability to make personal financing easier than ever. While solving one pain-in-the-neck issue, it creates another – which app to buy? Because of the popularity of these headache-reducing apps, there is an overwhelming amount of options available in the App Store. Deciphering which app is the best available is almost impossible. Add in the fact that so many aren’t free, and choosing the right one the first time around could save time and money. Before downloading anything, it’s important to know if the functionality of the app (money transferring, budget tracking, etc.) fits your needs. Provided is a list of ten apps including the price and primary function that can make tracking personal finances much easier.

Mint – There are tons of finance apps available that focus on budget tracking. Few are as popular as Mint, which allows users to manage multiple financial accounts from one simple user interface. With user-friendly features and no price tag, there is little wonder why this app has so many users.

Loan Shark – Dealing with loans is never a pleasant experience. The Loan Shark app helps ease some of the pain endured while handling loans without having to pay anything. It simplifies the process of calculating loans by a great deal and also has many features including a full amortization table, a one-tap extra payment option, and a “favorites” feature.

MoneyStrands – This app is another free option for tracking your budget. With features like alerts, analysis, security, and support, it is one to compare to Mint.

PageOnce – Planning long-term investments can be easy to put off. This app also assists in budgeting your current finances like MoneyStrands and Mint, but really excels in planning for the future. It gives you the ability to look at your 401k, IRA, and stocks all at the same time, while not costing you a cent.

Toshl – Toshl incorporates cloud computing into every day financing with this free app. The cloud feature allows users to automatically sync their mobile movements online. Additionally, there is a premium upgrade ($19.95/year) that allows users to export to Excel, PDF, or Google Docs among other features.

MoneyBook – MoneyBook is another addition to the long line of apps for budgeting. This one, however, comes at a price. Promoted as “Finance with Flair,” the app costs $2.99 and is loaded with features to make financing easier.

SplashMoney – At $4.99, what differentiates this from the free apps is its ability to connect wirelessly to most online bank accounts.

Square – The price is right for this free app that makes credit card purchases simpler than ever. By signing up, Square, Inc. will provide a credit card reader that can be attached directly to the iPhone. Once connected, users have the ability to swipe all major credit cards with only a 2.75% charge per swipe.

PayPal – Ebay-owned PayPal provides users a secure, simple way to send or receive money wirelessly.

General Banking – The bulk of major banks have available apps for free. These provide easy-access to any and all bank accounts in a secure fashion.

This is only a small example of the many, many apps that can help make financing easier. With the continuous release of new applications and updates to old ones, banking from your iPhone will continue to simplify; finding the app for doing so may not. This list is a great place to start looking.

For more information about iPhone application development, visit Magenic Technologies who have been providing innovative custom software development to meet unique business challenges for some of the most recognized companies and organizations in the nation.