World money

5 Reasons To Stop And Think Before Taking Out A Secured Loan(1)

5 Reasons To Stop And Think Before Taking Out A Secured Loan

Secured loans are a popular way of raising funds for homeowners, and there's no denying that taking one out can be a great way of organizing your finances. Debt consolidation, financing home improvements, even paying for a new car - secured loans can be used for all of this. However, as with any financial agreement, it's only sensible to take your time when deciding whether to proceed. After all, with a secured loan, you could be betting your home on a successful outcome. So what things do you need to consider before finalizing your application?

Firstly, as just alluded to, it's an inescapable fact that taking out a loan that's secured on your home could potentially put your home at risk. Should you fall behind on your repayments, the lender can apply to seize your property, evict you from it, and then sell it at less than market value to clear the debt. Scary, huh?

This is, of course, a fairly rare outcome, and most lenders are happy to work with you if you do get into trouble, using repossession as a last resort, but you should consider this carefully before taking out a loan, especially if you'll be converting existing unsecured debt into secured though debt consolidation.

The second problem with secured loans is that they tend to be for fairly high amounts, and repaid over a fairly long term. This means that the amount of interest you'll pay over the entire term may be substantially higher than you might think. Even with a low APR, secured loans aren't necessarily a cheap option.

Thirdly, if you use a secured loan to wipe out some existing unsecured debt, you may get the illusion that your debt levels have lessened. There's then always the temptation to use your credit cards etcetera to build up fresh debts, so you now have secured AND unsecured debt hanging over your head, and you'll be in a worse position than ever before.

A fourth problem with a secured loan is that you'll by its very nature be removing equity from your home. In other words, the value of your home and the amount of debt secured on it will be much closer. Considering that today's property prices are at record highs, and that many experts are predicting a fall in the near future, you could then be left in the unenviable situation of owing more than your home is worth - that is, you could fall into negative equity.

The fifth problem we'll cover is also related to the removal of equity from your home. Should you in the future wish to take advantage of a refinancing offer to reduce your mortgage costs, it helps to have as much equity available as possible in order to secure the best deal. A secured loan now could harm your remortgage prospects in the future.

So has all this put you off the idea of getting a secured loan? It shouldn't do, as you may still benefit greatly from the financial restructuring one will allow you to do. However, it's a big decision, and this is why you need to be aware of the possible problems first, so that your decision can be as informed as possible.

Covering the basics of the forex market(1)

Covering the basics of the forex market

The foreign exchange, or forex, market is relatively young, having begun in the early 1970s after the United States dropped the gold standard and national currencies started to fluctuate widely. For about 30 years prior to that, most nations had agreed to keep their currency values stable in relation to the U.S. dollar, making a forex market unnecessary. With that no longer the case, banks quickly realized that a profit could be made in “buying” currency when it was devalued and “selling” it after it strengthened, just like any other commodity.

Today, the forex market handles about $1.9 trillion in transactions every day, and it runs 24 hours a day, five days a week. (With nations around the world involved, it’s always daytime somewhere.) The most traded currencies are the U.S. dollar, the euro, Japanese yen, British pound, Swiss franc and Australian dollar.

The forex market is overwhelmingly dominated by international banks, government banks, investment banks, corporations, and hedge funds. In fact, individual traders account for only about 2 percent of the market. Nonetheless, a lot of people do try their hand at it, with varying degrees of success.

In the forex market, transactions are always handled in pairs: You buy one currency and sell another one. The idea is to make a trade when you believe the currency you’re buying is going to go up in value compared to the one you’re selling. Then, if it turns out your prediction was correct, you do another trade in the reverse direction -- selling the currency you originally bought and buying the one you sold -- in order to reap the profits.

For example, let’s say the market reports this: GBP/EUR 1.2200. That means the cost of buying one British pound is 1.22 euros. If you believed that course was going to change, and the euro was going to become more valuable than the pound, you might sell 100,000 pounds, buy 100,000 euros, and wait. Then let’s say a few weeks later, the exchange rate fluctuates to this: EUR/GBP 1.3100. Sure enough, the euro is now worth 1.31 pounds, a profit of 0.11 per unit.

The forex market is vast and daunting and mostly inhabited by giant organizations. But it can be navigated by individuals who have studied the finer points and who want to take a risk on something potential profitable. And since the whole world uses money, the trading of that money is always going to be a major force in the financial world.