Super low 10-year Treasury yield may be a boon for US borrowers

Nervous investors turn to bonds as a safe investment when the economic outlook is grim. Uncertainty surrounding global growth and the UKs referendum vote has driven down the yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note to an all-time low on Tuesday. The yield on the 30-year Treasury bond also hit a fresh record low Wednesday.

Generally, when the demand for bonds increases, bond yields go down, as do interest rates, which follow. As a result, this will offer an opportunity for people who are borrowing money for mortgages or automobiles, said Ric Edelman, an independent financial planner. Its the silver lining of historically low Treasury yields.

US 10-year yield in past 3 monthsSource: FactSet

7 Financial Goals You Can Reach by the End of the Year

Theres no need to wait for a new year to make a resolution to improve your finances. Sure, most of 2016 is now behind us, but in the time between now and New Years Day you can make a lot of progress toward your goals.

Here are a few things you can tackle in a matter of months.

1. Make a Budget

If youre not keeping track of where your money goes and youre also having a hard time doing things like getting out of debt or saving money, its probably time to get serious about budgeting. It can be as simple or as detailed as you like, but tracking your spending, figuring out your fixed expenses and planning what to do with any leftover money can make it a lot easier to make day-to-day financial decisions.

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Whether youre starting with no credit history or youre trying to bounce back from past credit problems, building credit takes at least 6 months to get going. (Six months of recent credit history is the minimum amount of activity needed to generate a credit score, in most cases.) One of the easiest ways to build credit is to get and use a secured credit card, which requires a cash deposit that serves as the cards credit limit. (Weve put together an expert guide to secured credit cards here.)

You could also look into getting a credit-builder loan or work with an alternative credit program that helps you demonstrate creditworthiness with non-credit payment history, like rent or utility bills.

3. Cut Your Expenses

If spending less money were easy, a lot of people wouldnt be in debt. We know its not easy. But as difficult as it can be to reduce how much money you spend, it really helps to re-evaluate your habits from time to time as your needs change. For example, if you got a gym membership two years ago but have since shifted your exercise preferences to things you can do outside or at home, cutting it off could be an easy way to put more wiggle room in your budget. The same goes for subscriptions.

You may also want to shop around for cheaper alternatives to fixed expenses, like a better rate on car insurance or consolidating credit card debt with a balance transfer credit card or personal loan with a lower interest rate. If youre not looking to change insurers or service providers, it doesnt hurt to ask them about ways to lower your bills.

4. Make a Will

A lot of people put off writing a will, but if youre looking to accomplish something important in the next few months, you could make this a priority. If you already have a will, review it to see if it needs updating. Dont know where to start? Weve put together this simple guide to estate planning to help you out.

5. Improve Your Credit Score

Credit scores change all the time, and it can sometimes take years for your credit score to recover from a negative event. But there are things you can do in the short term to help. You can start by looking at your credit card limits and your credit card balances. Using as little of your available credit as possible -- ideally less than 30% -- is a smart way to build a good credit score. While you do that, make sure youre also making loan and credit card payments on time and not applying for new credit, unless necessary. You can keep track of how your habits are affecting your credit -- and track your progress toward building a better score -- by getting two free credit scores every 30 days on

6. Save More

You could fill a small library with the number of studies out there on how bad Americans are at saving money. A recent one from the Federal Reserve drew a lot of attention, mainly for this statistic: 46% of Americans surveyed do not have enough money saved to cover a $400 emergency.

If you set aside about $67 a month for the rest of the year, youd be able to cover a $400 emergency without borrowing money or having to sell something. Setting up (and regularly contributing to) an emergency fund is crucial to staying out of debt, because most people end up saddled with unexpected bills from time to time. A good rule of thumb is to have three to six months worth of expenses saved up in such a fund. Dont let that recommendation intimidate you; you have to start somewhere.

7. Clean Up Your Credit Report

Credit reports often contain errors, so when you get your free annual credit reports, its important to look for anything that might be inaccurate. Some errors could be hurting your credit score, which in turn could cost you money, so its in your best interest to get rid of those problems as soon as possible. You can dispute errors on your credit reports, and credit reporting agencies are required to respond to your dispute within 30 days, with a few exceptions. Fixing your credit can take a few months, depending on the severity of the issues, so the sooner you start sorting it out, the better. Heres a guide on how to dispute credit report errors.

[Offer: If you need help fixing errors on your credit report, Lexington Law could help you meet your goals. Learn more about them here or call them at (844) 346-3296 for a free consultation.]

More on Credit Reports amp; Credit Scores:
  • The Credit Reports Learning Center
  • What's a Good Credit Score?
  • How to Get Your Free Annual Credit Report

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5 Reasons 401(k) Loans Are a Bad Idea

So, you are thinking of borrowing money from your 401(k). Is this a good idea? On one hand, it could be less expensive to borrow from your 401(k) because the interest rate is typically lower than what a bank or credit card might charge you for a loan. It would also seem that since you are borrowing from yourself, you are paying yourself back--so what is the harm?

See Also: Weigh the Pros and Cons of 401(k) Loans

Even with these facts, it is something you should give thought to before acting on. Here is why:

1. You lose the tax advantage.

Your 401(k) is often funded with pre-tax dollars coming directly out of your paycheck. This is a big incentive to participate in this type of a retirement plan, as it can lessen your taxable income for the year and provide tax-deferred growth, leading to greater compound growth over time compared with a taxable account.

However, when you repay a 401(k) loan, you are paying it back with money that has already been taxed. You will then pay taxes again when the money is eventually withdrawn from the account, which means you will pay taxes on that money twice--effectively wiping out one of the best incentives of the plan.

Unicoi County man dies 10 months after arrest in wife's shooting death

Sheriff Mike Hensley said Norman McKinney told investigators the shooting happened accidentally during an argument over money he had set aside to give to a church.

According to Hensley, McKinney told an investigator he had accused his wife of taking money, and had pointed a gun at her and threatened to shoot her when she slapped the gun, causing it to fire.

McKinneys charge was upgraded to first-degree murder on the day of his wifes death. On the Sheriffs Department request, Sessions Court Judge David Shults ordered his transport to DeBerry later that week.

In requesting the transport, the Sheriffs Department cited McKinneys need for health care beyond the capability of the county jail. Multiple sources close to the case who asked to remain anonymous stated McKinney had a lengthy history of dementia.

Shults appointed the Public Defenders Office to represent McKinney on the murder charge, but ordered a mental evaluation to determine if he was capable of borrowing money against his home to pay for his own attorney.

According to Curtis, what was expected to be a lengthy evaluation of McKinneys mental and physical condition was still underway at DeBerry in March when a Unicoi County Grand Jury returned an indictment that reduced his charge to second-degree murder.

Curtis said Friday that at the time of McKinneys death, the physical and mental evaluation was continuing at DeBerry, a secure health care facility contracted by the Tennessee Department of Correction. He was awaiting a transport to the state-run Moccasin Bend Mental Health Institute in Chattanooga for psychological testing.

We were in the process of getting the evaluations done with the understanding it was very likely he would either be found not guilty by reason of insanity or not competent to stand trial, he said.

Without elaborating on McKinneys physical condition, Curtis said he was definitely suffering from an illness and the cause of his death was natural.

This kind of developed into a full circle of tragedy. Its been sad from the second it started until the time it ended. The whole thing was absolutely terrible, Curtis said.

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Lending Marketplace Blackmoon Expands to U.S. Seeking Growth

Blackmoon, a Russian financial technology startup thatanalyzes, screens and prices loans issued by others to sell on to investors, is opening a US office to expand in the world's biggest market for non-bank lending.

Borrowing money without banks as intermediaries has gained popularity in recent years. LendingClub Corp. and Prosper Marketplace Inc. doubled their issued loan volume last year to over $10 billion. While they provide loans for the purpose of selling them on to investors, so-called balance-sheet lenders originate debt to keep the loans and earn income from interest. Blackmoon seeks to connect balance-sheet lenders with debt investors.

Marketplaces are very popular among investors, while there are only a few large ones and their capacity is limited,Blackmoon co-founder Ilya Perekopsky said by phone. At the same time, there are thousands of balance-sheet lenders, which do essentially the same thing, but they are less flexible when it comes to raising capital.