1. Have short sale approved before ordering appraisal

Occasionally, banks may attempt to negotiate additional funds from prospective buyers, which results in a total amount even higher than the contract price. These additional funds may requested by the bank as reimbursement or to cover miscellaneous fees, additional closing costs and other unforeseen expenses.

Once an appraisal has been established, the VA appraiser usually will not issue an approval for any value above the contract price, even though the actual property value may be worth significantly more money on the open market. The process of attempting to adjust a completed VA appraisal is very difficult, time consuming and document intensive. It is by far preferable for the buyer to complete preliminary step and have the short sale approved before requesting an appraisal when buying a short sale with a VA loan.

Most short sales are listed for an open price and sell for anywhere between a slight to a steep discount from comparable market value of similar homes in the surrounding area. The existing mortgage lender, as a creditor, is typically more interested in recovering even a portion of the total loan balance quickly than maintaining insurance liability on an abandoned or otherwise vacant property that may not sell at full market value for several years.

2. Obtain loan approval before making an offer

For many potential buyers, there seems to be an oxymoron in the home buying process. Lenders want to know specific information on the property you are interested in purchasing so they to make a hefty case for the underwriters and ask for the maximum amount available for loan approval, while selling agents or representatives want to know that you are a serious and pre-approved buyer with funding. In fact, that is usually the first question they will ask. They would rather not waste precious time answering inquiries from individuals who are too early in the process and have not discussed their plans with a qualified lender yet, when potential buyers who have already been pre-approved for an acceptable amount are ready to purchase a property without delay.

As with any other home purchase, when buying a short sale with a VA loan, if you already have loan approval the buying time, including short sale process, is approved faster and without unexpected interruption.

Emotionally speaking, it is devastating and discouraging to pour your heart and effort into a property only to learn three months into the transaction that you cannot buy the home.

3. Do not make any purchases before loan closing

After the pre-approval credit report is ordered, an additional report is ordered immediately before closing to ensure no unexpected changes have occurred that would affect the ability to pay the projected monthly mortgage payment. This guideline is often overlooked by eager buyers who want to get a head start on furniture shopping for their new home. However, the appearance of credit inquires or an increase in new debt between the original loan approval and closing may result in a loan denial.

Philip D. Georgiades II is the Chief Loan Steward for VA Home Loan Centers. A specialist in government mortgage products, consumer advocacy and affordable homeownership, he has provided home ownership counseling for over 15 years. Licensed by the California Department of Real Estate, he has been with VA Home Loan Centers since 2009.


Anyone who has a credit card, risks carrying too much credit card debt. You don’t want to get overwhelmed with credit card debt because it can be extremely difficult to repay. So, as you use your credit cards, keep these tips in mind to avoid drowning in debt.

1. Know the signs of credit card debt

Firstly, Regardless of income, those who own and use their credit card are most likely to have credit card debt. The problem that occurs with some people, is the unknowing of this debt and this can often lead to serious financial positioning and struggle. Signs of credit card debt can include; collectors calling regularly, the need for multiple credit cards, regularly missed payments, over using of credit cards to pay for everything, not knowing the amount of debt you are situated in and the default rate begins to start. By knowing these signs of credit card debt, you can avoid facing debt all together.

2. Understand your credit card terms

Before initially choosing a credit card, it is imperative to read about the terms and conditions. Reading the fine print about the fees and charges, as well as the services the product provides. Knowledge of your rights and obligations will ensure that you are protected in the event of any unauthorized transaction and how you can get the maximum benefit from the services offered from your creditor, as well as your obligations to fulfill within your responsibilities as a cardholder.

3. Don’t lend your credit card

There are two main types of people who share credit card accounts. Firstly, adding a person as a joint account. This, of the two types, is the safest way as both parties are liable for the making of the credit card payments. Second to that is adding another person as an authorized user on the credit card. The second person in this case is not legally responsible for making repayments. You can avoid unwanted debt by; setting a maximum balance, setting an “approval” limit for large purchases, strong communication between parties of what has been purchased, checking the balance before charging, appointing a bill payer and understanding the other parties spending habits. It is best to make decisions about using the credit car before purchases. By putting ground rules in writing will make things clearer in the agreements and arrangements for both users of the card and something to refer back to at a time of question or doubt.

4. Avoid cash advances

By taking out cash advances on a credit card, you are then charged a cash advanced fee that are typically set in the range form 2% to 4% of the amount drawn. People who take out cash advances are more likely to default on their credit card than people who do not – this being part of the reason the interest rates are higher. If you find you are making cash advanced to pay for daily items regularly, you may need to seek financial counseling as it could indicate a larger problem. One must remember; if you do not have enough money to pay your bills and essential items, how will you have enough money to pay your credit card bill

5. Pay your balance in full each month – The Golden Rule

Credit cards often give people a false sense of financial confidence, and it is important to remember not to be tricked by this illusion. For those people, a credit card can be a great option, as long as they follow what can be considered the golden rule of healthy credit card usage; Pay off the whole balance in full each month. For this to be able, understanding what you’re spending and sticking to a prearranged budget is crucial.

6. Limit your number of credit cards

As a general rule of thumb, the more credit cards you own and actively use, the more challenging it becomes to manage short and long term payments. Without the ability to track your credit cards, including due dates of payments, interest rates, terms and conditions, fees and purchases already made, it is not uncommon to find rapid growing personal debt. If you’re just starting out or rebuilding your credit rating, one card if considered enough and manageable. It is highly suggested that before taking on additional credit responsibilities, the successful self-management of one is vital. Take time to think about your own personal financial situation and your ability to pay and track your credit cards before considering opening additional accounts.

7. Charge only what you can afford

Before making purchases on your credit card, think about how much it is you are able to afford. This will usually depend on your discretionary income, this being, what you have left after taxes and other necessary expenses that must be paid. The main principle of building a good credit history and avoid rising credit debt is charging only what you can afford to pay. Factors people sometimes do forget to consider along with tax and essential purchases include; credit limit – this is mandatory to consider and is advisable to keep the balance below 30% of your limit. An emergency fund – this will keep you from using your credit cards in case of financial emergency, and future loan applications – be prepared for the potential of a second source of debt from loans such as a personal loan and mortgage.

8. Avoid balance transfers

A balance transfer is the process of switching a credit card or load balance to another credit card that often will offer the service of calling up your personal bank and transferring the debt into a 0% interest charged account. Credit card companies that do offer such balance transfers will only make available the 0% interest rate for a limited time only, such as 6 months to a year. However, after this fee free time is up, interest rates are usually bumped up much higher than what you may of originally been paying prior to transferring. Falling into a balance transfer trap can easily cause you to wind up right back to where you started, in terms of you debt. Make sure you do understand all the options available, in order to find the most cost effective choice.

Anthony Warner is a corporate and personal insolvency specialist with over 20 years of experience in Australia and internationally. He has Proven success in formal appointments, workouts and turnaround including assessing and advising businesses and projects of varying size and complexity. Also, Extensive experience in litigation support and the preparation of Solvency Reports.


Personal debt dragging you down? First step is accepting you have personal debt and getting it under control. In just a few short years, you can pay off as much as $50,000 just by following a few simple steps and getting your finances back on track.

Here are some ways to reduce personal debt just by cutting out things you don’t need to spend as much money on:

1. Re-shop auto, home and life insurance to see if you can bring down your payments. Doing this will help you have lower payments on the essentials needed but will also help you use the money you are used to paying into paying more for your debts faster.

2. Downgrade your home services such as cable package, your home phone, magazine or newspaper subscriptions or just get rid of them entirely. With today’s technology, you can get your magazines, newspapers and TV programs online by just paying for the internet and not everything separate. These are “wants” rather than needs and will help on your journey to becoming debt free faster.

3. Shopping! Cut your spending by researching sales and buying store brand items and buy the essentials in bulk. Don’t forget coupons! Doing these things will help you save ALOT of money – give it a go if you don’t believe it!

4. Pack lunch everyday, make coffee at home and be sure to make extra dinner to save on lunch supplies. Eating out even one to two times a week can cost a significant amount. Why not save that amount to pay your debts with.

5. Do you spend money on going out to eat and the movies? There are ways to prevent spending as much money on those things, if not trying to cut them out completely until you are out of debt. Go to a matinee movie and skip the concessions or better yet, get a movie at the Oovie box and have a movie in. Dinner before the movie? Skip the little things like soft drinks or alcoholic beverages and desserts. Share a main course or get entrees as your meals to save on those costly meals. You can still enjoy the atmosphere of the dining out scene all while saving money at the same time.

6. And last but not least, get another job or a seasonal job and put every penny you make towards your debt.

Using these tips will undoubtedly help you save money and help you get out of your personal debts faster. Even if you just do one or all of these tips, you will start to see progress. Being in debt can take a toll on you financially but mentally and then physically. Try and rebuild yourself sooner than later in order to cause any long term damage that can be done.

Anthony Warner is a corporate and personal insolvency specialist with over 20 years of experience in Australia and internationally. He has Proven success in formal appointments, workouts and turnaround including assessing and advising businesses and projects of varying size and complexity. Also, Extensive experience in litigation support and the preparation of Solvency Reports.


The annuities market is one that can be incredibly overwhelming, especially if you are looking at the number of different options which are available. Finding the right type of annuity can be a challenge and in many cases enlisting the help of a professional financial advisor is a great way to start this process. If you are looking to get a little bit more back than you would from a traditional annuity then you might want to look at the options that are on the table. For most people considering an annuity, an investment-backed annuity is a very real opportunity to make a little extra cash and help your annuity fund grow over time.

What types of Investment-backed annuity are available to me?

• Unit-Linked Annuity

The Unit-Linked Annuity offers the potential for the highest return of all annuities, but they also involve the greatest risk and rarely have a base level for investment. If you are keen to take a risk with your investments then this could be a good option for you, but you also need to be aware and prepared to realise that with this element of risk comes the possibility that your investments could significantly drop as well.

• With Profits Annuity

This happens when your income is linked to the With Profits fund of your chosen insurer. This is a more stable approach to investment-backed annuities as only a bonus is paid each year. This ensures that if one year the fund performs better than another, money is kept in reserve to try and cover any poor performance periods. This can help to stabilize your income to some extent.

Why might an investment-backed annuity work for me?

Investment-backed annuities allow you to have flexibility over your annuity investment while still assuring you of a base level annuity income even if the market were to perform poorly. This can also be used as a great alternative to an inflation-linked annuity and growing investments can help to combat the side effects of inflation which could benefit you for many years to come. In addition, if you do find that this type of investment isn’t for you then you may decide to switch back to a traditional annuity, although there could be a fee to do this.

Although the money that you receive now could cover you quite comfortably don’t forget inflation – in twenty or thirty years your money could quite easily be worth half what it is now.

Sounds good… but is there a risk?

Although annuities are often seen as a safe source of income, there is an element of risk associated with this type of investment and the main one is that you aren’t guaranteed a certain level of income each year making it incredibly hard to budget and plan your life around this source of income. Although you will receive an income each year, the amount is very dependent on the market and could be very different year-on-year depending on how the market performs in relation to your investment.

Bio: The Annuity Specialist are Independent Annuity Advisors based in the UK. They have over 40 years of experience in the financial service market. Their service is personal and focuses on your individual Annuity needs


Looking For Guest Posts!

by Finance Guy

Welcome to Finance is Easy! I’m officially declaring this site open for business! I still have some behind the scenes work to do, but I’d like to get some guest posts lined up. I’ve included the guest posting details below, but you can always find them at the guest posting details page. I’m looking forward to any and all submissions, and please let me know if you have any questions!

Finance Guy

Guest Posting Policy

Finance is Easy is always looking for good quality guest posts from fellow bloggers and authors in the personal finance space. To keep the process simple, I have a submission form at the bottom of this page. Please make sure you read all of the requirements and if you have any questions, feel free to contact me and I’ll get back to you as soon as possible! Thanks in advance – Finance Guy!


  • Must be related to personal finance – hopefully it’s an article that helps simplify or explain one of the following topics:
    • Budgeting, Career, Credit Cards, Debt, Earning, Frugal Living, Investing, Net Worth, Retirement, Saving, and Spending (contact me about other categories)
  • Preferably around 750 words – a little longer/shorter is fine, but I don’t feel that extremely short posts help anyone
  • Must include at least 1 picture (width min 500 pixels, max 585 pixels, no height requirement) that you have the right to use. This can be a Flickr photo or anywhere else, as long as you have the correct attribution included. I will use this picture as the header pic for the article. If you want other pictures throughout the article, that’s great – just include those as well.
  • A short “about the author” section where you are free to link back to your blog, website, Google+ profile, etc. In addition to this section, you may include one other link to another article you have written, social media profile, etc. Other than these two links, you are free to link to relevant news or other informational websites, as fits your article. I will contact you with any questions.
  • Please check your articles carefully before submitting them. They should be free from spelling, grammatical, or other mistakes.


  • Once I receive your article I will be in contact (hopefully within a few days – but it could be longer depending on volume) about any changes that need to be made or just to let you know when your article will be posted
  • I may make minor revisions to your article
  • If the quality or content does not fit with the site, I will inform you as soon as possible so you may work on it and resubmit or submit a new article
  • All submissions must be your own, unique work, and must not have been previously published anywhere else. Once your article is published, it will be exclusive to FinanceIsEasy.com

Guest Post Submission Form

In the content area AFTER your article, please include the following information:

  1. Your email address (so I can contact you about your post)
  2. The filename of your picture(s), along with any keyword data you want to go with it/them
  3. If you were unable to find a suitable “Post Category”, please suggest one here and I will create it if appropriate
  4. A short description of your post (160 characters or less – this is very important, as it is how search engines will display your post to potential visitors)
  5. Any applicable keywords for your article (again, these will be used by search engines to help find your article). No minimum/maximum – but at least 5-10 if possible
  6. If you have a date/specific day preference for when your article is published – please let me know here. Some dates (major holidays, etc) will be hard to get, but I will try and accommodate if given enough time.
  7. Any other relevant information that will help me post your article

IMPORTANT – Please backup anything entered below before submitting – if there is an error in the submission process it will delete any user-entered data, so please copy it before pressing the “Submit Post” button, thanks!!