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Are robo-advisors a good investment?

Should You Invest With a Robo-Advisor?

By | Personal Finance

Crafting a smart investment portfolio isn’t just for multimillionaires with a slew of financial advisors at their disposal. Anyone can begin investing at any stage and with any budget, especially when you choose a robo-advisor instead of a traditional brokerage firm. But in case you’re wondering whether a robo-advisor is a good investment strategy, we’ll lay out the benefits as well as the negatives associated with this type of platform.

Find out how robo-advisors work, as well as the advantages and disadvantages. That way, you can find out if a digital platform truly is the best option for your investment funds.

What Is a Robo-Advisor?

A robo-advisor makes it easy to invest through a digital platform powered by an algorithm that makes automated investment decisions to try and maximize your results. In most cases, you get started by answering questions about your financial goals and current situation. Using those inputs, the robo-advisor creates an investment strategy for you and purchases assets with your funds.

While most investment brokerages have been using automated portfolio allocation software for quite some time, robo-advisors bring that technology to the masses. Plus, most major players also employ tax-loss harvesting strategies so that you can keep your portfolio balanced while minimizing your taxed capital gains. The process is simple and requires little-to-no management on your end. You can also access your account information 24/7 since everything is housed online. If you have questions or concerns, you can reach out to customer support to clarify those matters.

Advantages

Wondering why a robo-advisor is a good investment platform? Here are the two most popular reasons why people opt for this type of investment rather than more traditional routes:

Low Fee Models

Since robo-advisors use an automated system that relies very little on human interaction, the fee structure is much less than with a typical financial advisor. You’ll generally be charged an annual flat fee of 0.5% of your managed assets or less, depending on your selected platform and the amount of money in your account.

A robo-advisor is also a good investment if you’re just getting started and don’t have a lot of money to invest in the beginning. The account minimums are either low or non-existent, unlike large brokerage firms that require accounts with tens of thousands of dollars (or more).

Automated Strategies

Robo-advisors excel at continually rebalancing your investment portfolio based on your financial goals and risk tolerance. It’s a great way to reduce volatility and make sure you’re diversified in a way that works for you. While these services are certainly doable on your own or with a human advisor, a robo-advisor makes these changes consistently based on your customized preferences.

Disadvantages

Opting for a robo-advisor is a good investment for a lot of people, but there are some situations where other options could be more beneficial. Here are some downsides to automating your investment strategy through a strictly digital platform.

No Comprehensive Financial Planning

If you’re a high net worth individual (or close to it), a robo-advisor may not provide you with the necessary sophistication to truly maximize your finances. You may want additional guidance on related topics like your taxes or estate planning needs, not to mention alternative investments such as real estate. Some robo-advisors do add an option for a plan that includes your own financial advisor, but it’s important to analyze those extra costs as well as the services available.

Limited Investments

Most robo-advisors include a standard offering of stocks, bonds, and ETFs. At most, you’ll have the ability to choose from about 25 funds, and sometimes even less depending on your selected platform. With a true financial advisor, you can personalize your investment strategy to a much more diverse and robust degree. If you’re interested in trading individual stocks, for example, you’ll need to look beyond a standard robo-advisor. Other exclusions include peer-to-peer lending and currency investments.

Rebuild Your Credit Before Investing

A strong credit score isn’t required to invest with a robo-advisor (or any other financial advisor, for that matter), but getting better interest rates on your existing debt can help free up extra cash in your budget to invest each month.

If your credit score isn’t reaching its true potential, then schedule a free consultation with Ovation Credit today. We’ll give you a personalized plan to repair your credit so you can focus your energy on your investment strategy rather than your credit repair strategy.

Online shopping is addicting be careful when searching for a credit builder.

Amazon’s Credit Builder Card — Is It Right for You?

By | Personal Finance

Imagine a world where your purchases at Amazon could restore or build your credit. Thanks to Amazon’s recently launched Credit Builder card, you could conceivably build your credit score while continuing to make your regular, responsible Amazon purchases. What is Amazon’s Credit Builder card? In a bid to attract those with poor or limited credit history, Amazon is now offering its own version of a secured credit card, designed to be used only at the e-retailer. The Amazon Credit Builder card, issued through Synchrony Bank, comes stacked with plenty of perks to help you reach your credit goals. But behind the exciting premise lurk some potential drawbacks. Wondering whether the Amazon Credit Builder card could be a good fit for you? We tackle the most common questions about this groundbreaking secured card.

What Is Amazon’s Credit Builder Card?

A secured credit card offers consumers with sparse or negative credit history the chance to build credit without posing a financial risk to the issuer. Typically, you put up a security deposit that then becomes your “credit limit.” In the case of Amazon’s Credit Builder card, your deposit amount is between $100 and $1,000. As you make on-time payments each month, your positive credit history is then reported to the three major credit bureaus — providing a nice bump to your credit score. If you successfully make seven on-time payments in a one-year period, you may qualify to upgrade to an unsecured Amazon credit card. Your security deposit will be refunded if you should ever close your account after paying off your balance in full.

What’s the Fine Print?

Amazon actually offers an Amazon Credit Builder card and an Amazon Prime Credit Builder card. As you might expect, the latter option is restricted for Amazon Prime members. The Credit Builder Prime card offers 5 percent cash back on all Amazon purchases. Both cards boast no annual fee and promotional financing, such as the option to pay for larger purchases (over $149) interest-free over six, 12 or 24 months. While both Prime members and non-Prime members have the promotional financing option, Prime members must choose between receiving either the financing or the cashback — you can’t enjoy both benefits at once.

What Makes It Different?

As a secured credit card specific to just one retailer, Amazon’s Credit Builder card is in a class all its own. Taking it one step further, Amazon offers cardholders the chance to track their credit improvements over time. Amazon cardholders receive access to a TransUnion CreditView dashboard, which allows you to view your credit score for free and note any changes as you continue to work toward your credit-building goals.

What’s the Catch?

The interest rate for this credit builder card is steep — 28.24 percent, which is higher than most secured and retail credit cards, but not by much. That means that if you aren’t planning to pay the balance in full each month, this card might not be the smartest way to build a healthy credit profile. Although the special financing options might enable you to pay for a larger purchase over time, you’ll be on the hook for the interest charges on the full purchase amount if you don’t pay it off within the promotional period. You also cannot use the card outside of Amazon — which could limit your shopping options.

Should I Get One?

If you already make regular purchases at Amazon, particularly if you’re a Prime member, signing up for the Amazon Credit Builder card could make sense financially. You are, after all, limited to the relatively low credit limit and theoretically only using the card for items you would already buy. Amazon’s card is also the safer bet as opposed to unsecured retailer-specific credit cards since you’re ponying up collateral from the start. However, a secured credit card will only help your credit if you use it responsibly and make regular, on-time payments. If you think having this card in your wallet would only entice you to make unnecessary purchases — and you don’t want to restrict yourself to shopping only at Amazon — you’re better off looking for a different secured card, perhaps with a local bank or credit union.

Credit Repair – It’s What We Do

What is Amazon’s Credit builder card? It is just another tool to build and repair credit, and help you on the way to financial freedom. At Ovation Credit, we want to be part of your success story. Start your journey today with a free consultation.

Resources:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html?nodeId=GLZ9M2SPG2BJ6RVZ

There are so many side hustles that you can pick from. But how do you get started?

6 Side Hustle Ideas to Start Earning More

By | Personal Finance

The online world has made it extremely easy to tutor on your own schedule from the comfort of your home. Start off by offering your services in the area in which you majored during college since it’s easy to market your expertise. Or, if your current job is subject-specific, such as accounting, you can easily transfer those skills to the tutoring marketplace.

Also, consider teaching English as a second language. There are many online websites offering up to $25 per hour to teach students in places like China. Due to the time difference, the hours work well if you have a full-time job during typical office hours in the U.S.

2. Become a Virtual Assistant

There’s a huge market for freelancing online right now, and while specialized professional services are in demand, there are also plenty of opportunities for people without experience in fields like writing or graphic design. One highly sought-after position is a virtual assistant.

This side hustle idea can be done anywhere and involves things like scheduling appointments for your client, loading online content, or paying corporate bills. The key to being successful is to remain organized, be responsive to your clients, and consistently meet deadlines. If you can exhibit those traits, you’ll most likely find the work itself easy and even enjoyable.

3. Rideshare During Your Down Time

If you live in a popular area with lots of people going places, consider signing up as a driver for a service like Lyft or Uber. You’ll obviously need a clean driving record and your car must be of a certain age (usually they make needs to be at least between 2001 and 2004, depending on the company).

The best way to maximize your earnings as a rideshare driver is during surge times. This higher level of pricing is usually around the start and end times of popular events at large venues. You may also make more during rush hour periods.

4. Manage Other People’s Airbnbs

You don’t need to own a vacation property to take advantage of Airbnb’s popularity. Instead, try this side hustle idea to make money by helping Airbnb owners. This can take form in a couple of different ways. First, you can manage messages and reservations, including responding to inquiries and other questions from guests.

Alternatively, you can also be the physical point person to welcome guests, prepare the property in advance of their arrival, and clean the space after they leave. You could also get paid to respond to any on-site issues or emergencies should they arise.

5. Flip Stuff to Sell

If you love to shop yard sales, auctions, and estate sales, then consider flipping your finds for cash. You can either relist them on places like Craigslist or sell them online on eBay or other sites. The trick is to find items that you can buy cheaply and resell for a high margin that makes it worth your time and effort. Obviously, this side hustle takes some start-up cash since you need actual inventory.

Start off slow with a manageable amount of stuff for your budget, then use half your profits to reinvest in new items to sell. This way, you keep some cash to bolster your budget, but still, have a predictable flow of capital to keep your business growing.

6. Manage Companies’ Social Media

Just about everyone is on social media these days, from Facebook to Instagram to Pinterest. Businesses with limited marketing resources often look for freelance social media experts to manage their accounts for them. You can usually post on your schedule and apply for part-time positions that fit your skillset. Whether you know how to design a killer pin or write a pithy text that makes people want to click your post, there’s a lot of versatility when it comes to a social media side hustle.

Want to save money by improving your credit score and getting better interest rates on your financing? Reach out for a free consultation from Ovation Credit.

How much money should you spend on home improvement?

Home Improvement – Where to Splurge, Where to Save

By | Uncategorized

Home improvement projects are a chance to put your own personal stamp on your home and, more importantly, lift its resale value. However, as any homeowner knows, those weekend home upgrades can take a sizable chunk out of your budget. If you don’t know how to budget for home improvement, you risk falling into a money pit that may or may not necessarily pay off in the end.

Whether you’re slapping a fresh coat of paint on your walls or planning a full kitchen remodel, find out which home improvements are splurge-worthy and where you’re better off hunting for a bargain.

Where to Splurge

Paint

Painting can be the quickest and easiest way to give your rooms a makeover. It pays to avoid the cheap paint, which will likely fade, stain, and require touch-ups much more frequently. Look for paint in the $30-$40 per gallon range, which will need fewer coats and offer you many more years of use.

The Center of a Room

Pick one area of any room that you want to serve as the focal point. In a family room, this might be the entertainment center. For the dining room, you might designate the dining room set. Either way, it’s smart to splurge your hard-earned dollars on the eye-catching centerpiece and choose budget-friendly pieces for the surrounding decor.

Windows

This is one area where the most cost-effective selection is typically not the smartest. Instead, look for high-quality, energy-efficient windows, which can potentially qualify you for tax credits and rebates. The benefits in comfort, security, and energy savings are well worth the investment.

Bathroom Fixtures

A poor-quality faucet or showerhead could end up costing you thousands if it ends up springing a leak down the road. That’s why it’s best to invest in quality, top-notch bathroom fixtures that will withstand many years of use.

Countertops

A substantial portion of your day is spent in the kitchen, preparing food on your countertops, making this an ideal splurge-worthy project. Quartz and granite are among the frontrunners for countertop materials, with quartz offering the most low-maintenance, yet tasteful and aesthetically pleasing, bang for your buck.

Where to Save

Cabinets

As popular as it may be to have your cabinets custom-designed, it generally will not add more value than a set of cabinets purchased from a store. Choosing a more economical option for your cabinets can allow you to devote more funds to other areas as you’re deciding how to budget for home improvement.

Tile

Adding tile to a kitchen backsplash or bathroom can instantly upgrade the appearance of your most-used spaces. Yet, you don’t need to spend much to achieve your desired look. Since this is mostly a cosmetic change, it’s best to go easy on your wallet. You’ll be able to find cheaper ceramic tiles in a variety of different styles and colors to suit your price range.

Front Door

An attractive front door redo will boost your home’s curb appeal. Consider that this revamp will almost certainly factor into a potential buyer’s decision to check out your home if you should ever decide to sell. Whether you choose to repaint the front door or opt for a brand-new door, keep in mind that you can easily spend less than $1,000 on this worthwhile enhancement.

Kitchen Appliances

You might think you’ll surely net a return on investment on top-of-the-line kitchen appliances. However, you can find more traditional, economical options that perform just as well. Look for the basic, no-frills models from brand names that are well-known industry fixtures and have a reputation for quality.

Lighting

It’s often difficult to guess whether a lighting fixture is priced in the high-end or economy range. Your guests will probably not be able to tell, either. Ditch the luxury lighting brands and instead hunt for more inexpensive options, typically at a retail store such as Home Goods or Ikea.

Flooring

Hardwood floors are expensive to maintain ⁠— just a few scratches can dull their appearance. Opt instead for a low-maintenance, reasonably priced alternative like faux tile or linoleum. You’ll spend much less time tending to your floors, outside of regular cleaning, and many of these flooring options can look just as attractive as hardwood.

Credit in Need of Improvement?

While you’re educating yourself on how to budget for home improvement, don’t forget about your credit. We can give your credit the facelift it needs ⁠— returns on investment guaranteed. Contact us to set up your free consultation today.

Resources:

https://www.bhg.com/home-improvement/advice/budget-advice/home-trends-where-to-save-spend/?slide=slide_56059#slide_56059

https://www.mint.com/budgeting-3/how-to-make-a-budget-for-home-improvement-projects

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