Comparing Personal LoansWe have always found Kiva.org to be a valuable charity since it allows entrepreneurs around the world to realize their dreams and fund their small businesses. In the past they have only lent to poorer countries, but that has just changed: Kiva now lends to US entrepreneurs as well which is big news in the lending world!

If you remember back, we originally tried lending to Americans using a different site, another micro-lending site, but found that the process just wasn’t right for us. After a lot of debate on wether someone would want to seek a loan from which competing sites we decided to close our account and lend to Kiva where we felt the money would do more good. A tool we didn’t have back then was LendMe where you can quickly cut through the clutter and find the sites offering personal loans for various projects including home improvements and small businesses. Visit LendMe for more information.

So how is this program different from Prosper’s? Kiva’s main mission is to “connect people through lending for the sake of alleviating poverty.” They also lend exclusively to entrepreneurs. This means that the borrowers in the US are often below the poverty line, trying to start or maintain a business, and improve their lives.

After reviewing the American loans available, many of them are several thousand dollars – much more than loans requested for other parts of the world. You can still only donate in $25 increments, so it will take many more donations to fully fund. It would be neat to find someone in our community who needs money and be able to loan to them directly. If we found someone local we would see the benefits of the loan first hand!

As with all Kiva loans American borrowers have to apply via a Field Partner who approves their case, and then the loan is placed online to raise funding; you cannot apply directly. A wide range of people have applied, from taxi drivers, to salon owners, to catering businesses…

Besides starting to lend in America, Kiva also started a program in Kyrgyzstan this week. Their goal is to eventually reach all countries with money flowing in all directions.

We still feel Kiva is a great organization and we are very happy that they have been able to expand to so many parts of the world. Perhaps our next loan will be to an American…

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How to Choose an On-line Broker?

by Ryan on January 30, 2014

Online InvestingThere’s an investing legend about a rich man selling all his stock the day before “Black Thursday” or the start of the catastrophic 1929 stock market crash. He sold everything allegedly based on the tip from his shoeshine boy. The Investor thought that if a shoeshine boy could own stock, something must be going very wrong.

Today just about anyone who wants to can trade shares of stock, regardless of the size of their fortune or which connections they have. There are literally tons of choices when it comes to investing on-line and we’ll sort through a few thoughts, tips and tricks to figure it all out.

How to choose a broker
You’ve got a little bit of money set aside to invest, you are chomping at the bit, great but hold your horses for just a minute. Here are a few things you should keep in mind as you look for a broker and learn how to buy shares online the right way.

  •  What is the total amount you plan on investing?
    Some firms require you to have a minimum amount to deposit to get started and this is different from a minimum account balance.
  • Do you need any other special services?
    Some brokerages are also banks and can help with debit cards, checking and savings accounts and other financial services.
  • Are you a beginner or are you familiar with investing?
    In other words how much help do you think you’ll need. Some inexpensive brokerages don’t offer much in the way help or assistance trading. Others offer market analysis articles and experienced traders to show you the ropes.
  • How frequently are you planning on trading?
    If you are a buy-and-hold person be sure your choice does not have inactivity fees. If you are planning on doing a lot of trading, you’ll want to look for a lower per trade fee. No matter what be clear on where and when fees might affect your activity.

Remember any site that deals with your financial information should be secure and safe first. Check for good security measures, automatic logout and encryption.

Stay tuned for more posts on on-line investing, more on how it works, specifically the difference between day and limit orders and how to be safe with your information.

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Funeral Insurance: Is Your Family Protected?

January 29, 2014 Personal Finance

We talk a lot about about life insurance especially the affordability and piece-of-mind that a term life policy provides but oftentimes this is only part of the picture. Financial pitfalls follow us throughout life but there’s one that follows us (or at least our family’s) after we die. Burial costs, funeral costs, cremation, cemetery plots, […]

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