Monday, August 29, 2011

Taking Out a Loan with Lending Club

So – we bit the bullet last Friday and signed up for a Lending Club loan.

What is Lending Club?
Lending Club is a peer to peer lending network that allows people like me who have made stupid financial decisions regarding debt (and other people who have legitimate debt, but I’m focusing on my own stupidity right now) and are working to get out of our mess.

It allows borrowers to acquire loans at lower interest rates than banks can offer because there is no middle man to be paid. Just you and some investors.

It also allows people who want to invest to get high returns on their money. In fact, I signed up a while back and got $25 free to invest just for signing up (you can too). I invested that plus another $25 into two different loans that I got to hand select. I chose one mid-range “rate” (indicating their credit rating) and one lower-range rate. I figured it was only $25 each, right? Well, both have always been on time with all payments and I am averaging a 17.91% return right now.Yippee! The average return at Lending Club is 9.61%. Compare THAT to your typical CD.

You can gauge for yourself what you are comfortable with and shop around through the loans with whatever criteria you feel is important. You can see what the loan is for and ask a myriad of questions about the borrower’s financial situation before deciding whether or not to invest.

Why Did We Need on a Loan?
We have a timeshare that we owe around $10,000 on (I talk more about that here). The interest rate is currently at 17.90% and we’re going nowhere fast on it. I applied for a 3 year loan with Lending Club at 9.99% to save us money and knock this thing out.

Why the Timeshare Rather Than Other Debts?
First of all, it has the highest interest rate, so it makes the most math sense.

Secondly, we are going to take Dave Ramsey’s advice and once we send this check to the finance company currently holding the loan, we will have the deed in hand. We will then attempt to sell it back to the vacation resort business we bought it from at a loss to ourselves and a profit for them. They will be able to resell it for far more than we could, so they’ll make money on it. We’ll be out from under it and its maintenance fees. We hope they agree to this. If they are willing to buy it back from us (even at half of what they can sell it for), we will use that money to pay down our next highest interest rate (our Chase credit card).

So we hope to both get out from under this burden and get a little bit out of it to apply to our other debts.

Why Lending Club?
Well, as a (small) investor, I’ve seen that it works.  And I would rather give my payments to people who are making responsible choices with their money by investing rather than some big banks that are more and more the bane of my existence.

And the lower interest rate doesn’t hurt either.

So, if you decide to invest, check out our loan (#548511 or under the name Kaye_T - or do a keyword search for "Timeshare") and help us out. Of course, you are not obligated to do so, but I just had to throw that in there.

The links and banners on this article and on my sidebar are paid affiliate links/banners. I am taking out a loan, and I do have an investment with them. I have seen it work and these opinions, which I am sharing with you, are purely my own.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Healthy School Lunch Ideas for the Picky Eater

Our son is a picky eater. It would be totally frustrating except I remember that I used to be just like him. Scratch that – I used to be much worse. Back to him – he doesn’t eat any veggies. He doesn’t eat deli meats. He doesn’t eat potato products (except chips). Everything else is a hit or miss depending on his mood for the day.

He just started kindergarten this week and the school he is attending is very, very big on health and wellness and there are certain foods that we cannot send. There is no juice allowed. No chocolate. No processed meats or cheeses. No potato/cheese/corn chips. No cookies, no fast food, no pudding. No squeezable yogurt, applesauce only if “no sugar added” type. Okay – I agree that these aren’t healthy and we’ve got to work within these guidelines.

To find a happy medium that will please both our son and the criteria that our school is laying out, we have had to do some searching in order to find some good lunch options for him. So far, this is what we’ve sent so far this week:

PB&J Sandwich
Goldfish (only original color are ok with the school)
Peach yogurt
Mandarin Oranges

Tomato Soup
Grilled Cheese
Blueberry infused craisins

Blueberry bagel
Whole wheat crackers
Key Lime Yogurt

Chicken Nuggets (white meat)
Cubed Cheddar and Colby Jack Cheese

Other ideas:
Soft taco wraps
Nachos (meat, cheese and tortilla chips for scooping)
PB&J wrap
Peanut Butter Crackers
English Muffin/Bagel Pizzas
Pizza Wraps
Macaroni and Cheese
Other fruit (pineapple, whole banana, raisins, etc)
Air popped pop corn
Tortilla chips
Pita chips
Garden vegetable chips
String cheese
Granola Bars (without chocolate)
Apple sauce
Rice Cakes

Some other ideas for your (not as picky) child:
Peanut Butter and honey
Deli meats as sandwich or wrap
Raw veggies
Other fruit (apples, oranges, kiwi, melons, etc)
Pasta salad (sans mayonnaise)

In less than a week I have found that he is eating better (more) at school than he did at home. I think it is because all of the other kids around him are eating. The result? He comes home happier and in a much better mood than when he was in PreK and refusing to eat what they served.

Also, I have found that he is eating what we put in his lunch because he is choosing it the night before. We give him a few choices and he picks – and so far, an empty lunch box each afternoon! Hooray!

Any other ideas that you can think of or that has worked for your child? I’m all ears and I’m sure we are not the only parents looking for help on this one!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Cash Spending - How Do You Do It?

A few days ago at work, some coworkers called to see if I wanted to go to lunch with them. Sometimes I do go just to get out of the office, but try to keep these occurrences to a minimum.

This particular day I wanted to leave, but knew that financially it would be much better if I stayed and ate something I had in my fridge at work.

Then I found $5 in my wallet and immediately called one of them back and said, “Hey…I can go! I just found some cash in my wallet.”

She and I proceeded to talk about how amazingly we seem to feel no guilt about spending cash. Somehow spending $5 in cash is “ok” for lunch while spending $5 on lunch from my debit card is a more difficult decision.

I wonder why that is.

I’m not trying to hide any spending. Nothing of the sort, really. Just somehow it seems like “real” money if it comes directly out of my bank account rather than from my wallet.

This is a big reason why I try not to carry cash – it seems to disappear without me knowing what in the world I’ve done with it.

To add to this madness, if I am using cash only at the grocery store or while shopping, I spend less because I don’t want to have to pull out my debit card while I have cash specifically for a purchase. I know that is totally contrary to what I just told you, but the big purchases seem to make me think differently than the small ones.

What about you? Do you view cash the same way as a debit card purchase when deciding what to buy/how much to spend?

Photo credit: foxumon

Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Great Budget Deal

I received this as an email on Monday. I haven't verified the actual numbers to be correct, but they don't look completely out of line. Even if they are close, this is a great piece.

To Put It All In Perspective ....

The U.S. Congress sets a federal budget every year in the trillions of dollars. Few people know how much money that is so we created a breakdown of federal spending in simple terms. Let's put the 2011 federal budget into perspective:

U.S. income: $2,170,000,000,000
Federal budget: $3,820,000,000,000
New debt: $ 1,650,000,000,000
National debt: $14,271,000,000,000
Recent budget cut: $ 38,500,000,000 (about 1 percent of the budget)

It helps to think about these numbers in terms that we can relate to. Let's remove eight zeros from these numbers and pretend this is the household budget for the fictitious Jones family.

Total annual income for the Jones family: $21,700
Amount of money the Jones family spent: $38,200
Amount of new debt added to the credit card: $16,500
Outstanding balance on the credit card: $142,710
Amount cut from the budget: $385

Whew! I'm glad they got that all worked out to our benefit, aren't you? I feel better already.