Personal Finance

  • Why Having A Good Credit Score Matters

    In the United States our society is increasingly built around using credit to make not only purchases but financial decisions about people. Credit scores are used for more than just getting a credit card – they are used for a number of things from getting a home to getting a job.

    Credit scores demonstrate your “credit worthiness” which shows your history of paying off debts as an indicator that you are responsible with your finances.

    For most people having a good credit score gives you amazing benefits.

    Why do you need a GOOD credit score? 

    The unfortunate reality is that your credit score matters. 

    Good credit gets you access to better rates, allows you to pay less on big items like homes and cars, and even determines your ability to qualify for certain jobs or rentals. 

    You don’t have to love debt or need credit card debt to get a good credit score. In fact, I hate debt. But I also live in the real world and out here your credit score is a tool that can open up doors to a better experience in life.

    Having no credit sounds like an amazing idea but in the real world it makes things much harder. You will have access to fewer companies when you apply for a mortgage because many won’t do manual underwriting. You’ll  have access to less rental options because many landlords don’t want to (or can’t) go through the hassle of evaluating your finances and manually approving you. 

    The fact of the matter is that having good credit opens up doors for you.

    Benefits Of Having A Good Credit Score

    Here are a few reasons why building a good credit score is important:

    • Good credit will get you better interest rates when you need credit for financing a large purchase.
    • Good credit means you will pay less overall on those big purchases you have to make on credit.
    • Buying a home requires a credit score with most lenders and the better your credit score, the better loan you will be able to get. 
    • Having bad credit can stop you from being able to buy a home at all until you improve it.
    • Your credit score determines your ability to rent an apartment and many won’t accept below 700.
    • Your credit score can affect getting certain jobs in certain industries where you have to appear trustworthy.

    Let’s look at the benefits of having good credit in more detail.

    Credit Affects Your Ability To Get A Mortgage

    The most obvious area where having good credit matters is when you are wanting to get a loan to buy a home. Mortgage lenders base their decisions off many factors about your finances including credit scores.

    Most mortgage products have a minimum credit score you must have in order to qualify. If you don’t have good credit you can’t qualify for the best mortgage loans and have to accept more expensive products with worse rates.

    The interest rate you get on a mortgage is dependent on your credit score and that interest rate will directly impact how much you are paying each month on your mortgage. Low credit scores end up being very expensive when you learn how much extra interest you have to pay.

    You Can’t Even Rent With Bad Credit

    When you have bad credit you won’t even be able to rent certain apartments. Landlords can use your credit to decide whether they want to rent to you or not and many large apartment buildings have minimum required credit scores.

    If you want to live in a certain area you may need to have good credit to be approved as a renter. Property rental is considered as a loan in some way and landlords want to make sure your credit is good enough that they will get paid each month.

    Auto Loans Require Good Credit

    Most people are not able to buy a car in cash in addition to their regular monthly expenses. It can take a long time to save up enough money to buy a car in cash and many people need to have a car to get to work before that.

    Because it is difficult to buy a car in cash most people apply for a car loan in order to purchase a car. Your credit score will greatly affect whether this is a good idea or not because a good credit score means you can finance for nearly 0% interest but a bad credit score means you will pay much, much more.

    Bad credit will cost you more when you get a car loan and can affect if you even get qualified and if you even qualify a bad credit score will limit the amount of money you can borrow. Bad credit scores limit your choices and end up costing you much more money.

    Credit Can Affect Your Employment

    Not ever employer checks your credit but many employers have started conducting credit checks as part of your hiring process. Employers will pull your credit report and evaluate your ability too pay back debt and handle your finances.

    A bad credit history may convince an employer that you are not going to be able too handle the salary they can offer or you may be a risk in some way depending on the type of work. Employers may be hesitant to hire you when you have a bad credit history.

    Credit Scores Affect Car Insurance Rates

    Did you know that your credit score can affect your auto insurance rates? When you apply for new insurance the insurance company will check your credit in order to determine your rates.

    Insurance companies will use information from your credit report and insurance history to develop your insurance risk score, which often penalizes people with low credit scores. If you have bad credit you will end up paying more for your insurance premiums than someone who has good credit. People with good credit scores routinely pay less for their insurance than similar applicants with lower credit scores.

    Business Loans Require Good Credit

    If you are planning to start a business and plan to take out a business loan then you will need good credit personally. When you are taking on business debt lenders will be using your personal information and credit profile to make their decisions in addition to your business plan.

    Having good credit can help you start a business that eventually makes you more money than you would have made in a traditional job. Having bad credit can prevent you from doing this or make it more risky by taking on higher interest loans that put more stress on your new business.

    Credit Can Affect Your Daily Living

    While many services do not report your payments to the credit bureaus they do use your credit to determine factors about your account or whether or not they will establish you as a customer.

    Utility companies will check your credit in order to see if you will be a customer that pays on time or not. Most utility services will conduct a credit check – from cable to cell phone providers to water.

    Because all of these services check your credit it can be more expensive and difficult to afford normal living expenses if you have bad credit. Having bad credit shows your level of financial responsibility so having good credit will indicate to any service you need that you will be a responsible and worthwhile customer.

    Having Good Credit Makes Life Easier

    Clearly having good credit is important. It affects many areas of your life and having bad credit will force you to pay more for the same things others get at a much lower overall cost.

    The good news is your credit score is something you can work to improve!

    Here are a few posts where you can find tips to improve your credit score:

    While you can’t improve your bad credit overnight you can start taking steps to improve your credit history and credit score today. In a few months you’ll start to see you credit improving and eventually you’ll have all the benefits of good credit too!

    Read More

  • How To Start Dividend Investing For Beginners

    I love watching investing videos on YouTube about dividend stock investing, and I put off doing it myself for almost two years.

    However, I know one of the biggest investing mistakes is not taking action toward a goal so in early 2020, I started an account specifically for dividend investing.

    Why Start Dividend Stock Investing?

    Are you interested in investing in dividend stocks? Do you know why people choose dividend stocks? Why should you start investing in dividend stocks?

    Let’s look at the basics of dividend stock investing!

    What is a dividend stock?

    If you are first being introduced to dividend stock investing you might wonder what exactly dividend stocks are.

    Divide stocks distribute a portion of the company’s earnings to their investors on a regular basis. Most dividend stocks pay the investors quarterly but some do it on a different payout schedule like monthly.

    When looking at dividend stocks you will see it has a dividend yield, which is the percentage of the stock’s current price that is paid out to shareholders.

    If you hold shares of a stock with a dividend yield then you will be paid out based on that number. It is important to realize that stock dividend yield’s can change over time in response to the market and companies can also suspend or decrease dividends if they need to based on earnings.

    When you receive a dividend payment it means the company things you will benefit more as a shareholder than they would by reinvesting that money. This is why newer companies tend to not have dividend payouts but older companies are more likely to pay dividends.

    Why invest in dividend stocks?

    Many people choose dividend stocks for their investing strategy when they want an investment that offers regular income.

    Divide stocks distribute a portion of the company’s earnings to their investors on a regular basis. Most dividend stocks pay the investors quarterly but some do it on a different payout schedule like monthly.

    Investing in dividend stocks mean you will be building up an income stream that is made up of those dividend payouts.

    Dividend stocks are a great option for buy-and-hold type investors who plan to reinvest the dividend because your dividend payouts will be buying more of the stock for you.

    Dividends are only one part of the stock’s total rate of return because these stocks also change in share price like every others stock. The stocks increase in return also provides growth to your overall portfolio.

    What are the benefits of dividend stocks?

    There are so many benefits of investing in dividend stocks.

    The first of course, is that income stream from dividend payouts.

    The next is that dividend stocks tend to be less volatile than growth stocks so they can help you diversify your overall strategy with a different type of risk.

    Dividend stocks like the Dividend Aristocrats can be a reliable source of income over the years. (Read more about these stocks further on!)

    Personally I chose building a dividend stock portfolio for the creation of an additional income stream that would continue to provide income in the future. I also wanted to diversify and play around with learning about specific companies since my main investments are all in index funds.

    Where To Buy Dividend Stocks

    So how do you invest in dividend stocks? How exactly do you buy this type of stock investment?

    Choose An Investing Platform

    You can invest in dividend stocks on any investing platform that allows you to open a brokerage account to buy individual stocks. Here are a few popular ones that allow you to buy stocks without any commissions.

    You can open brokerage account to buy these stocks. A brokerage account is not a retirement account so keep that in mind.

    You can also open a Roth IRA account and look into purchasing dividend stocks within your Roth IRA as well.

    How To Pick Dividend Stocks

    One area where I think many of us struggle when trying to invest is choosing what to invest in. How do you pick stocks? How do you evaluate dividend stocks?

    Here are a few considerations when trying to choose dividend stocks for your portfolio:

    • Look at the company as a whole financially. Do they have a stable history? Do they have sound financials? Are they in massive amounts of debt or have plenty of cash?
    • What’s the history of the stock? Does the company have a long history of profit growth and dividend increases?
    • Is a dividend sustainable for the company? Evaluate if you think the company is paying out too much of its profits to dividends. Personally I like to see that the dividend stocks I buy don’t pay our more than 50% of earnings as dividends. Keeping earnings allows companies to grow.
    • What is the company’s growth potential? Some companies have limited growth opportunities so you want to consider if the company you are investing in has the ability to grow continually.

    Remember that I’m not an investment advisor so this is just what has worked for me and my opinion.

    If you aren’t sure of which stocks to buy you can always turn to investing experts of a list of stocks that are traditionally known as the Dividend Aristocrats. The Dividend Aristocrats are stocks that have increased their dividends for 25 consecutive years and it can be a great place to get started when you aren’t sure how to begin.

    Here are some curerent examples of Dividend Aristocrats you’ve probably heard of who’ve had a long consecutive record of dividend growth:

    • Aflac (AFL)
    • AT&T (T)
    • Cardinal Health (CAH)
    • Clorox (CLX)
    • Coca-Cola (KO)
    • Colgate-Palmolive (CL)
    • ExxonMobil (XOM)
    • Johnson & Johnson (JNJ)
    • McDonald’s (MCD)
    • Medtronic (MDT)
    • PepsiCo (PEP)
    • Procter & Gamble (PG)
    • Sherwin-Williams (SHW)
    • Target (TGT)
    • Walmart (WMT)

    This is just a small selection of the Dividend Aristocrats and you can find the others through a quick Google search to see which companies are on the current list. The list is updated once a year in January and occasionally some companies can be removed for other reasons.

    The companies on this list have several qualifications and generally have to be large enough and have high share volume to meet demand for millions of investors. This leads companies on the list to generally be good picks because they usually remain stalwarts that are unlikely to be acquired by another company (and are usually the ones doing the acquiring).

    These can be a great place to start as a beginner to choosing dividend stocks since they are companies with a proven track record of paying out dividends.

    Investing in dividend stocks through ETFs

    Another option for buying dividend stocks is to do it through an ETF. ETFs are exchange-traded funds which means they are investment funds traded on the stock exchange just like stocks.

    ETFs can hold assets like stocks, bonds, or commodities and there are many different types including ones made up of dividend stocks. ETFs are bought and sold during the day while the stock exchange is open and this causes the price to fluctuate during the day.

    One of the benefits here is that a dividend ETF usually includes dozens if not hundreds of dividend stocks which spreads out your risk over multiple companies. This generally protects your ability to get a dividend because even if some companies cut their dividend that will have a smaller effect on the fund’s dividend overall.

    When choosing a dividend ETF you should again look to evaluate the fund you are buying:

    • Find dividend ETFs buy searching for them on your broker’s website (find a broker above in “where to buy dividend stocks”)
    • Analyze what the ETF is actually invested in and the details. Consider the actual investments, the dividend yield, the returns over the last 5-10 years, the expense ratio.

    Just like buying a dividend stock you will want to evaluate the ETF in the same way.

    Where I Do Dividend Investing

    I decided to start my dividend investing on the Robinhood App platform.

    My dividend investing portfolio is set up for the goal of achieving a dividend income for my daughter in 15 years or so.

    It’s a long term play for me which is why I buy strong stocks that pay dividends and then reinvest the dividends into my portfolio.

    How I’m Investing In Dividend Stocks

    My plan for investing in dividend stocks in my “Penny Portfolio” is a little bit different than the normal way most people invest. I will be investing a small amount monthly, but I mostly plan to use this as another impulse spending tool. I plan to fund this account irregularly in a couple different ways.

    • First way I will invest in these dividend stocks, whenever I want to impulse buy something my daughter doesn’t need like cute clothes, I will instead invest in her account. She has enough clothes to last til she goes to kindergarten so I don’t need to buy them, I just want to. Instead I plan to buy a stock share with that money and continue to create an asset that will last for decades instead of a piece of clothing she will outgrow in a few months.
    • Second way I will invest in dividend stocks is whenever I sell something of hers that is currently not being used I will invest that amount of money. I have a pile of toys that need to be out of my house soon, so when I declutter I will contribute that amount earned into the Penny Portfolio.
    • The final way I will invest in dividend stocks in this portfolio, is to contribute $10 a month in our normal budget. As you guys know, I like having small amounts like this in our budget just as a reminder of our bigger goals. While it may not be a focus, those little amounts add up in the background as we are doing other things with the majority of our money. Plus, $10 isn’t much and doesn’t hurt out budget since we’ve cut so many regular expenses and focus on free fun activities!

    Free Stocks I’ve Got On Robinhood

    The great thing about growing an account on Robinhood for dividend stocks is that referring other users allows me to earn free stocks.

    People who watch my videos and read my blog are helping build this portfolio of stocks by using my referral link to sign up for Robinhood.

    If you sign up using my link, you will get 1 free stock and I will get 1 free stock as well. So if you use my link you will be contributing to the Penny Portfolio and we will all be building this up to provide an amazing future to the cutest kid I know.

    I’ve been very blessed to get a number of free stocks on Robinhood this year. I made a video sharing some of the free stocks I received on Robinhood during that week:

    I like to share what free stocks I’m getting from Robinhood for a few reasons:

    • to show you what free stocks Robinhood is giving out these days
    • to show you what free stocks you might get for signing up with Robinhood
    • to be transparent about the fact that I am receiving stocks from referral signups (thanks guys!)

    Every single week since I’ve started I have received a few free stocks and I’m thrilled people are getting interested in investing!

    Since this portfolio is 100% focused on dividend investing I’ve sold any stocks that did not pay out dividends and used that money to buy more dividend stocks of our choosing.

    Why Dividend Stock Investing?

    I wanted to share this little dividend stock portfolio project I started in order to let you know why there was a $10 Robinhood line item in our budget for those who were curious.

    February 2020 was the first month for this account and several months later in June 2020 I hit $1,000 invested in my dividend portfolio.

    Now that we have $1,000 in the dividend portfolio in Robinhood we will now work toward hitting $5,000 invested. The ultimate goal will be much higher than this in order to create a steady stream of income from the dividends.

    The companies we are investing in through this portfolio are all companies that we love, trust, and actually use in some way. We’ve chosen to invest in companies that we actually use on a regular basis. This includes:

    • Disney
    • Microsoft
    • Apple
    • Starbucks

    And others! We’ve also bought some shares of a Vanguard ETF that more broadly covers the markets and helps diversify our account overall.

    I’m excited to continue increasing this account and growing it so that we can eventually use the dividends as an income stream!

    This is the perfect time for a reminder that I am not an expert at all and this is just me sharing my personal experience. This is not financial advice, this is just entertainment and me sharing my experience. My stock picks are personal and never a suggestion that you should pick the same. Do your own research!

    Read More

  • I Finally Got Life Insurance & It Was Super Easy

    Among the many things I’ve learned from the recent pandemic and job instability is that I need life insurance outside of work. 

    On Youtube, I shared my experience recently applying for and getting term life insurance for myself to help cover my family in case anything happens to me. 

    Why I Got Life Insurance 

    First I want to share the reasons why I decided to get term life insurance outside of my policy I already had at work. 

    1. I knew that while I was covered at work, if I got laid off that policy wouldn’t go with me.
    2. I have a child and if something happens to me I need to know she is taken care of financially.
    3. I have a mortgage and if something happens to me and my income disappears, I want my house to be paid off for my husband.
    4. I want to make sure my family has the resources they need to survive if I’m not able to be here for them. 

    Those are the reasons I decided to get a life insurance policy at this time

    My Considerations For Life Insurance 

    I knew I wanted a few things when I applied for life insurance: 

    1. I wanted term life insurance for 20 years because that would cover til my daughter graduated college. 
    2. I wanted it to be easy to apply and get covered without jumping through hoops. 
    3. I didn’t want a medical exam. I hate medical exams and I have conditions with mental health and asthma.
    4. I wanted affordable rates. I knew that I’m not in perfect health but I wanted to find the best options available to me.
    5. I didn’t want to deal with a sales person trying to push whole life insurance that I didn’t want (this has happened the one other time I looked into getting life insurance personally).  

    Those were the five things I wanted in my particular situation in order to get life insurance. 

    Who I Used For Life Insurance 

    So let’s talk about who I ended up getting life insurance with! I ended up going with Bestow. 

    Like a few companies I use for things I found them through having my YouTube channel. I had mentioned I wanted to get life insurance a few videos back and they reached out to me about applying because they thought they would be a good fit for me.  

    They only offered term insurance and did not require a medical exam because they used complex technology to make decisions about approvals and rates. 

    It sounded good to me but I did a bit of research and read some reviews from other blogs and YouTube channels first. They had good reviews and policies were provided by a traditional company with a good rating so it felt like it was worth pursuing. 

    In the end I decided it was worth getting a quote from Bestow to see if I would qualify for affordable rates for term insurance. It took less than 10 minutes to get a quote since they only do a soft credit check. I figured it was worth getting a quote from Bestow and a couple other online life insurance companies that had similar models. 

    I did end up purchasing a policy with Bestow. In fact from start to finish the process took me 15 minutes and my husband came home from a gas station run where I told him I’d bought life insurance. I can’t be sure but I think he was a bit upset after his experience getting life insurance through a traditional company where he had multiple exams and 4 months of back and forth to get covered.  

    I had put off getting my own policy outside of work strictly because he had such a negative experience going through Zander and using a company they sent him to. I didn’t want to go through justifying my mental health history or my asthma or my weight or any number of things that I’m always working to improve but don’t look great on an application. In the end no medical exam was what felt like the best fit for me right now. 

    My new life insurance policy is for $300,000 for $33 a month. I know it’s probably not the best rate and I may be able to get a lower rate through a traditional company that underwrites policies but I’m very happy with this amount for my personal situation. It would pay off our house with less than half the money and the rest could be put aside for my daughter. I still have a policy at work as well. 

    Another reason why I liked Bestow was because I could pay online and set up auto payment for my monthly premium. Compared to my husband’s policy which forces us to pay quarterly with a check, this was so much better. 

    Getting Life Insurance Quotes 

    What I’ve learned from this experience is that it’s worth getting a life insurance quote from a couple different companies especially if they don’t require an exam. It does not affect your credit and you can compare your options easily when you aren’t going through a long medical underwriting process. 

    In my experience getting a quote and completing my policy took about 10 minutes start to finish (15 for me because I did record the experience and got distracted) and the whole process was so convenient that I’m kicking myself for not doing it sooner.  

    If you are looking for term life insurance, you can get a quote from Bestow and see if you qualify!

    It’s worth applying to see if you can get rates as low as $15 a month for $250k with no health issues. I will leave an affiliate link below if you want to apply.  

    Do you have a life insurance policy outside of work? Get your free term life insurance quote today.

    Read More

  • What’s the Right Age for Life Insurance?

    When do you need life insurance? When is the best time to purchase life insurance? Today I’m going to be looking at the different ages and if you should be purchasing life insurance at that age.

    I recently purchased my first life insurance policy and the experience encouraged me to learn more about life insurance in general – including when most people should apply for it.

    There are things to consider about buying life insurance at every stage of life, but when is the right time?

    The vast majority of people interested in life insurance obtain their policies between the ages of 20 and 40, and there are different positive aspects about life insurance depending on your situation.

    Why should you apply for life Insurance? 

    Life insurance is an amazing tool that can provide protection for your family in case of the worst situation where you would pass away.  

    Life insurance is one of those things most of us ignore for far too long for various reasons, from not having the extra money in the budget to not wanting to deal with the frustrating process of applying. It’s all too easy to push off applying for life insurance when you know you have to answer a ton of questions and have a medical exam.  

    Luckily more and more companies have realized that people are avoiding life insurance because the traditional process can be so complicated and frustrating.  

    Getting life insurance without an exam can take less than 10 minutes, which removes a lot of the barriers to getting a life insurance policy.

    Life Insurance At Ages 20-29

    Most people think of age 20 as far too young to start thinking about life insurance or anything else longer-term than dinner that night. I know personally I lived my life in 6 month increments for almost my entire 20s and life insurance was not on my radar at all.

    However, a life insurance policy can often be a prudent investment for a typical person of this age if there are children involved or there are no assets to cover your passing.

    Many people in their early 20s have amassed considerable debt due to student loans, credit cards and other expensive lifestyle choices. While their debts will not manage to outlive them, the people they love will be left to bear the consequences of covering funeral expenses which can cost $10,000. A life insurance policy can provide funds for settling debts like a mortgage as well as final expenses to ease the strain on a family.

    Another benefit of getting a life insurance policy at this age is the very, very low rates you will be given due to your age.

    Younger people are eligible for much better rates on life insurance policies than those who wait to purchase a policy at an older age. This will save thousands of dollars over the life of the policy due to lower premiums even though you are starting sooner.

    If you start a term policy in your 20s you will likely want to get a longer period of coverage to cover the next 2-3 decades where you will be getting out of debt and building wealth.

    Life Insurance At Ages 30-39

    By the time you hit your 30s you are likely already considering life insurance. By this time frame most people have children or spouses. There is more responsibility to provide for the people in your life.

    Most 30 year olds are still in fairly good health and have much of their lives before them. You likely will outlive a term policy you get at this age. Nevertheless, this is an important age range to consider life insurance.

    Because the majority of people at this age are married or have children, holding a policy that can provide for their protection in case of the unexpected becomes extremely important.

    A life insurance policy can provide for immediate expenses, pay off your mortgage, and provide a monthly income to replaced yours. This is extremely important if your family loses both you and your income.

    Although a 30 year old will have to pay a higher premium than a younger applicant, the rates are still competitive provided your health remains good.

    Life Insurance At Ages 40+

    By this age, if you haven’t gotten married or had children, you probably won’t but you may or may not have life insurance.

    If there is no one officially depending on your salary and you’ve built up substantial financial assets, then you likely don’t need life insurance.

    If you do have a family or any dependents then you need to immediately look into life insurance if it fits your situation. If you have achieved a high income then you need to make sure that income will be adequately covered if you are no longer here.

    The options for life insurance policies are much more limited and more expensive in the age range, especially if you develop health concerns as most people do as they age.

    Other situations where you might want to consider life insurance:

    • A life insurance policy can protect a business partner in case of your untimely death from years of stress-free living.
    • A life insurance policy can provide an inheritance for anyone you wish to bless regardless of if it’s needed.

    There may be a number of reasons why you want to purchase life insurance after the age of 40.

    When should you get life insurance?

    Life insurance is not right for everyone but it is important to consider several factors:

    • Does someone depend on your income?
    • Do you have assets that provide financial stability?
    • Do you have liabilities that will need to be covered?
    • If you are no longer here, will you want the money to help someone make it through?

    No one can answer those questions for you but you will have to look at your own situation and decide if life insurance is right for you in your current situation.

    Life is extremely unpredictable, and so it is best to carry a good policy as soon as you’re able. An outstanding policy will provide benefits and security for you and those you love throughout your life and even afterward. The right age to seek out a life insurance policy is debatable, but the fact that it is more expensive the longer you wait is not.

    How much life insurance do I need? 

    Life insurance needs vary from person to person and you need to take into account personal information about your specific situation. 

    For example if you are healthy, young, single and have no dependents then you might not need life insurance.  However, if you have a kid or four then you definitely need to get life insurance to make sure your children are taken care of if the worst happens. 

    In my personal opinion at the bare minimum life insurance should cover having your home mortgage paid off and multiple times your annual salary.  Many experts recommend 10-12 times your annual salary for life insurance.  

    When did I get life insurance?

    Personally I waited far too long to get life insurance and even went two years after my daughter was born without it. During the coronavirus pandemic of 2020, I finally realized I needed a life insurance policy outside of work for several reasons:

    1. I knew that while I was covered at work, if I got laid off that policy wouldn’t go with me.
    2. I have a child and if something happens to me I need to know she is taken care of financially.
    3. I have a mortgage and if something happens to me and my income disappears, I want my house to be paid off for my husband.
    4. I want to make sure my family has the resources they need to survive if I’m not able to be here for them. 

    Those are the reasons I decided to get a life insurance policy at this time. I was able to get an affordable rate policy while in my 30s and it will cover me during my 30s, 40s, and into my 50s. I’m happy with that solution and sleep better at night after getting my own life insurance policy.

    Read More

  • Bestow Review: Term Life Insurance With No Medical Exam

    Getting traditional life insurance can be a hassle. When my husband applied for his a couple years ago it took him months of back and forth phone calls, letters, and multiple medical exams. The whole experience was so bad it put me off from applying for life insurance because I didn’t want to go through that process too.  

    Recently I discovered many life insurance companies now use technology and big data instead of traditional underwriting methods like physical exams.They’ve made the process so easy that I finally applied for my own term life insurance outside of work. I applied through Bestow and today I’m reviewing my experience along with sharing why you should apply for life insurance and some factors to consider.  

    If you are looking for life insurance without having to do a medical exam, and are between the ages of 21 and 54, then you might want to get a free quote from Bestow. Bestow offers quotes quickly for term life insurance and the whole process is done online. Keep reading to learn about my experience and more on how they manage to do this.    

    Why I applied for life insurance 

    If I learned one thing from the recent pandemic and job uncertainty, it was the need to get life insurance outside of work. 

    For months I’ve had viewers leave comments on my YouTube channel suggesting I get life insurance outside of what I carry at my job. I brushed them off because I’m still young and my job has been very stable and very secure… until March 2020. Within a week I wondered if I would be laid off and lose not only my job, but my life insurance too. 

    I knew I needed to apply for life insurance outside of work but I’d been putting it off for a long time because I didn’t want to do a medical exam or a lot of paperwork with personal questions. My husband applied for life insurance with a traditional life insurance company a few years ago and it literally took him months to get qualified and get the policy started. Watching that experience made me drag my feet even though I knew I needed life insurance especially as a mom. 

    Because I’m a typical millennial I started looking for online life insurance companies that would offer traditional low-cost term life insurance without all of the hassle that could sometimes come  with traditional life insurance companies.  

    Why should you apply for life Insurance? 

    Life insurance is an amazing tool that can provide protection for your family in case of the worst situation where you would pass away.  

    Life insurance is one of those things most of us ignore for far too long for various reasons, from not having the extra money in the budget to not wanting to deal with the frustrating process of applying. It’s all too easy to push off applying for life insurance when you know you have to answer a ton of questions and have a medical exam.  

    Luckily more and more companies have realized that people are avoiding life insurance because the traditional process can be so complicated and frustrating.  

    Enter Bestow, a newer online company that leverages technology to give a quote in minutes for 10 and 20 year term life insurance policies.

    What is Bestow? 

    Bestow ​says it’s on a mission to make term life insurance “simpler and more human”. 

    They are working to make the process of purchasing life insurance faster and less painful for consumers by eliminating many of the traditional obstacles. Bestow focuses on big data to underwrite their insurance policies  rather than requiring medical exams and bloodwork. They use the information from your application and data about you with their algorithm to decide if you qualify and at which price.  

    The goal at Bestow is to provide life insurance to people in minutes not weeks (or months in the case of my husband’s experience with another company).  

    The policies from Bestow are provided by North American Company for Life and Health Insurance® which is rated ​A+ (Superior) by A.M. Best​, which is the second highest rating available out of the 15 categories A.M. Best rates. 

    What kinds of life insurance does Bestow offer? 

    Bestow has a  range of life insurance policy options with coverage from $50,000 to $1,000,000. They have 10 year terms and 20 year terms that are designed to fit your needs. 

    Bestow only offers term life insurance which is a plus since it’s the only kind of life insurance I would personally consider or recommend.  

    You can apply for a 20-year policy if you’re 21 to 45 and for 10-year policies, the age range is 21 to 55. 

    What if I’m not super healthy? 

    I’ll be honest, my weight and not being very healthy is something that held me back from applying to get traditional life insurance. I went with life insurance through my employer because I knew it would be automatically issued regardless of my health status. I’ve tried for years to lose weight unsuccessfully and this made me delay purchasing life insurance. 

    I encourage you to apply for life insurance through Bestow even without perfect health. The company does apply screening for major diseases like heart disease, cancer, HIV, etc, but you can apply to see if they have a policy that is right for you. If not, then traditional insurance might be the better route to take.

    How much life insurance do I need? 

    Life insurance needs vary from person to person and you need to take into account personal information about your specific situation. 

    For example if you are healthy, young, single and have no dependents then you might not need life insurance.  However, if you have a kid or four then you definitely need to get life insurance to make sure your children are taken care of if the worst happens. 

    In my personal opinion at the bare minimum life insurance should cover having your home mortgage paid off and multiple times your annual salary.  Many experts recommend 10-12 times your annual salary for life insurance.  

    How much does coverage offered by Bestow cost? 

    I personally decided to get roughly 7 times my annual salary with this policy because I do also have another life insurance policy through work and we have a mortgage balance on the lower end.  

    For me and my specific details this means my $300,000 policy will cost us roughly $33 per month. I’m very happy with this price point. It might not be the lowest rate possible but it was reasonable, something we could afford, convenient to get, and removes the worry of not having any life insurance outside of work. 

    Life insurance starts at $8/month. Worth getting a quote to see if you qualify for those kinds of rates.  

    My Application Experience With Bestow 

    The application process with Bestow took under 15 minutes from start to finish. I know because I recorded it for a video.  

    Side note: I also know that it took less time than my husband too to take a trip to the gas station. When he returned I told him I got life insurance and it was done which blew his mind after having a month long process to get his policy with another company. It was almost comical to explain I got my life insurance so easily.  

    What I liked about applying for life insurance through Bestow: – Fast quotes. It only took a few minutes to get my quotes for life insurance. – All online applications. I rarely like to do anything that requires phone calls or mailing in something so an all online life insurance application fit my preferences. This made it super convenient to apply during a statewide stay at home order too! – Affordable. The rates were less than I expected based on what I thought I’d pay with no medical exam and were very affordable. This might sound like a weird reason, but I use a lot of all online companies to get the best rates but I like to know that it’s not a fly-by-the-night company that will disappear. Policies offered by Bestow are provided by a big name in the life insurance industry – North American Company for Life and Health Insurance ®. 

    Final Thoughts On Bestow

    If you don’t have life insurance it may be worth it to get a free quote with Bestow. (Or even if you do have life insurance already – I’m making my husband get a quote to see if he can get better rates or not).  

    Applying for life insurance through Bestow might be right for you if you don’t want the hassle of a doctor’s visit, blood test, or medical exam in order to get life insurance.  If you are anything like me these things may have put you off getting life insurance for far too long.  

    Because Bestow doesn’t require a medical exam in order to get life insurance they might not be able to offer you the lowest rates possible. While Bestow is affordable, other companies might offer lower rates if they fully underwrite each quote with actual medical information from an exam. Bestow still offers competitive rates so you’ll have to check to see if you qualify for a term life insurance policy at a great rate. It is worth it to check out multiple sources if monthly premiums are your biggest concern with life insurance. 

    If you are extremely healthy you may want to shop around to find out if you can get a better rate elsewhere after providing your information and undergoing a medical exam.

    Bestow was a good fit for me and my situation but you have to weigh the options against what fits your situation personally.

    Read More

  • Student Loan Refinancing Explained

    I just finished refinancing student loans through a lender I found on Credible to get the best rate so I could save money while paying off debt. After mentioning this on my YouTube channel, I thought I’d share more about student loan refinancing in general since many people reached out with questions like:

    Why did I refinance? What is student loan refinancing? Can student loan refinancing help you save money? How does student loan refinancing help you pay off debt?

    In this post I’m covering everything you need to know about student loan refinancing with an easy explanation of student loan debt refinancing and how it can benefit you.

    My Student Loan Refinance Experience

    I recently went through the experience of refinancing the Parent Plus student loans left from my debt snowball.

    I chose to use Credible to save time with applications for refinancing since it compared multiple rates for me and they included offers from SoFi and other top lenders.

    Because I’m refinancing Parent Plus loans into a new loan in my name my experience has been slightly different than a traditional student loan refinance. I was unable to use certain companies and I’ve had to sign additional paperwork saying I was taking over the loan.

    The main reason I refinanced was to get a lower rate which would save interest in the long run. I actually plan to pay these loans off very quickly but wanted to still save a few hundred dollars in interest during this time.

    I’ve learned a lot about student loan refinancing during this process both through my own experience and many of my audience sharing their stories with me as well.

    What is student loan refinancing?

    Student loan refinancing is when you refinance your student loans with a private lender in order to either consolidate multiple loans or just to get a lower interest rate.

    Refinancing is one way you can work to pay off your student loan debt faster.

    Student loan refinancing is good for:

    • People who have good credit.
    • People who want a lower interest rate on their loans.
    • People who have federal and private student loans.
    • People who have private student loans.
    • People who have a consistent monthly income.
    • People who want one monthly payment instead of multiple.
    • People who want to pay less interest on their student loans.

    Student loan refinance is not good for:

    • People with bad credit.
    • People with unstable income or low income.
    • People who have low interest rates already.
    • People who want to use the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program.

    Refinancing is not for everyone! You have to look at your situation and determine if student loan refinancing would actually make sense for you. For most people it does make sense but in certain situations it does not at all. Look at your specific numbers and situation to decide.

    Student loan refinancing vs. Student loan consolidation

    If you are not sure whether you want to refinance or consolidate your loans, then it is important to understand the differences between them.

    First, student loan consolidation is a program from the federal government. It’s run through the Federal Student Aid off where you are able to combine multiple federal student loans into one new loan.

    Student loan consolidation can be a good option if you want to move to one payment and can achieve a lower interest rate on average. It also can keep you on the path toward various forgiveness programs offered from the government.

    Student loan refinancing allows you to combine federal loans and / or private student loans into one new loan. Refinancing your student loans is done with a private lender (you can find various lenders to compare through sites like Credible that list multiple and compare offers for you).

    Refinancing your student loans can get you an even lower interest rate than the government will offer you and that lower interest rate can help you pay off your loans faster.

    Is there a downside to refinancing student loans?

    There are a couple cons to refinancing student loans and one big downside to refinancing student loans.

    The biggest negative to refinancing student loans can be the loss of federal repayment protections. When you refinance your federal student loans you walk away with private student loans that lack the deferment and forbearance options available from the federal government.

    Refinancing also removes any potential paths to loan forgiveness from the federal government. Refinancing companies do not offer forgiveness options for student loans. So if you are counting on a forgiveness option you will be giving it up with refinancing.

    Who is eligible to refinance?

    Student loan refinancing companies require borrowers to be creditworthy with good credit scores. If you don’t have good credit then you will likely not be approved. (This is another reason to work on improving your credit!)

    To qualify for student loan refinancing you have to have good or an excellent credit score. Most refinancing companies will require a 660 or above for your credit score to qualify.

    Luckily many student loan refinance companies offer instant online rate quotes so you can see if you are eligible before going through a full application.

    How do you get approved for a student loan refinance?

    If you are trying to refinance your student loans you will want to look at the things that will help you get approved for a new loan.

    Each student loan refinance is actually creating a new student loan and these loans are approved based on each individual’s background and unique financial circumstances.

    Here are some of the things companies look at to determine if you can refinance your loans with them:

    • Credit score: do you have good credit? What’s your credit score? Refinance options are generally not available to people with bad credit so you should check your credit and work on improving your credit score if you want to refinance your loans. Aim for a 700 credit score of higher for the best chance of approval with the best rates.
    • Income: In order to get approved a lender will want to see that you have income sufficient to pay off your student loans. You’ll have to prove that you have stable recurring monthly income that an service the loans which means you will need to provide paystubs proving your income sources. If you have unstable income you will likely be denied but can improve your chances by finding a cosigner with stable income.
    • Debt-to-income ratio: Your other debts like a mortgage, credit cards, and car loans will factor into your refinance application. Lenders will want to see how much of your income you spend monthly to service your debts. Lenders focus on your debt-to-income ration which means the ratio of your total monthly income compared to your monthly debt obligations. The lower your debt-to-income ration the better you will look when you apply. To improve this before trying to refinance you can increase your income or pay off your debt or do both!
    • Employment: Just like having a stable income, lenders want to know that you have stable employment. You will need an existing job or a written job offer or contract in order to refinance your student loans. Sometimes they will require work experience but some companies will refinance your loans while you are in school or residency in special situations.

    Those are some of the things that will be considered by the company writing your new loan so these are things you can work on improving if you want to qualify for a refinance.

    Where To Find Student Loan Refinance Offers

    So where do you actually refinance student loans? One of the best options for refinancing is SoFi. They have been the leader in student loan refinancing for a few years and many people have successfully used them to refinance.

    SoFi (top lender)

    SoFi has established themselves as one of the top refinancing companies and a very trusted source. Most of the people I know personally and who watch my channel have refinanced their loans through SoFi.

    If you want recommendations, my comment section is full of recommendation comments like these:

    • “I went with Sofi. I paid it off in five months so the interest rate wasn’t really a concern for me. They gave me money for funding my account.” – Sandy
    • “will be going with SoFi because unemployment protection. I currently have them and they been nothing but helpful. I got this off the website and this is why the rates are slightly higher but not by much. Plus, the process is quick to refi.” – Sarah

    One benefit of SoFi is you can also create accounts to invest, get a personal loan and do more beyond just refinancing. They have expanded their offerings to go beyond just student loans.

    Another benefit is that SoFi gives out bonuses to people who refinance through them. If you use my referral link in this post you will get $100 when you refinance.

    Check your potential refinance rate at SoFi and get a $100 bonus!

    You may also want to check rates for multiple student loan refinancing offers in order to get the best deal. Below are a few companies you might want to use to get refinancing offers and compare the options for your refinance.

    Credible (Compare rates)

    Credible allows you to get multiple prequalified quotes from companies (including top private student loan lenders) in just a few minutes. I personally used Credible after hearing about them from another YouTuber and shared the step by step of my process getting refinancing rates.

    Check out your student loan refinance options on Credible (does not affect credit) and get a bonus gift card if you refinance!

    Splash Financial (Dave Ramsey Endorsed)

    Splash financial uses  leading technology lets you find your new, lower interest rate for your loans in under 3 minutes. They are endorsed by Dave Ramsey which makes them pretty trustworthy and I’ve seen people have major success refinancing their loans through Splash Financial.

    Check out your student loan refinance options on Splash Financial (does not affect credit) and get a $250 check if you refinance!

    I like both of these platforms because they compare multiple rates for you and also offer bonuses if you do end up refinancing with one of the companies they have shared with you.

    Using either Splash Financial or Credible lets your compare who has the best student loan refinance rates since they compare multiple student loan refinancing rates from multiple companies.

    Tips For Student Loan Refinancing

    If you are planning to refinance your student loans, here are a few tips to consider:

    • Apply to multiple lenders. I like Splash Financial and Credible because they handle this for you, but applying to multiple lenders gives you the best chance to get a low rate.
    • Apply to multiple lenders within 30 days. Any time you apply for a new loan you have roughly 30 days to get different quotes so it will show as a single hard inquiry on your credit report.
    • Check your credit report before applying. Make sure you remove any errors by disputing false claims. You can get your credit reports for free through
    • Get a cosigner if you are worried you might not be approved. If you have a big negative factor against you then try to ask a spouse or family member close to you to be a co-signer. I generally recommend never cosigning for someone’s debt but this can often make the difference for many applications and many student loan lenders do offer a co-signer release which releases co-signers of financial responsibility meeting certain qualifications (check with your lender for details and requirements on this).

    Those are just a few tips to keep in mind when you are refinancing your student loans.

    Refinancing Student Loans Isn’t A Debt Quick Fix

    Just because you refinance your student loans doesn’t mean they will be paid off. You are still in debt!

    Refinancing the loan itself doesn’t get you out of debt – it just gives you a boost by either changing your payoff plan or lowering your rate to save you money.

    Refinancing is not the get-out-of-debt secret or quick fix. You need to make sure that when you are refinancing it is the right move for you and it is the next step you will be taking to get out of debt faster!

    Read More