I Married into Poor Credit...Now What?

by Kelly McCready 28. January 2015

Credit and Marriage

When you get married, you are taking on joint financial liabilities. This is a fact, like it or not.

Just because you fell in love with someone who has destroyed their credit, doesn’t mean you have to live with it. However, you probably have to help fix it. If your spouse has poor credit, it can affect your joint credit accounts and potentially prevent you from opening certain accounts or receiving certain loans. In fact, until you straighten out your spouse’s credit, you may want to just avoid signing up for joint accounts. First things first, let’s get your spouse’s credit back on track!

Here are a few steps to help guide you:

  1. Come up with a manageable budget to pay off any outstanding debt. If you struggle coming up with the cash to make payments, take into consideration daily or weekly habits that could be stopped (i.e. coffee in the morning, buying lunch while at work, ordering out for dinner), or redirect your spouse’s 401k contribution toward paying off the debt.

  2. After some debt has been paid down, sign your spouse up as an authorized user on a credit card account. This will help build their credit back up.

  3. Check credit reports annually. This is more of a maintenance step, but it is very important. You need to keep an eye on things. Mistakes do happen, and if you’re on top of things, you can catch them.
If you found this article useful, be sure to check out these related articles:

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6 Tips to Financially Prepare for Your New Pregnancy

by Erica Starr 27. January 2015

Finances of Pregnancy

Your life will never be the same – and neither will your bank account. All the joys of parenthood that you are going to experience over the years unfortunately won’t come free. From the first day you find out that you’re expecting to the last payment you make towards college tuition, the dollars immediately start adding up

Whether or not your pregnancy was part of your grand life and/or financial plan, there are a few things you should start to think of to make sure you are as prepared as possible to bring your bundle of joy into the world.

Daycare - You'll be amazed at the cost

If you are able to have a family member or friend help take care of your little one while you are at work, consider yourself extremely lucky. According to the Maryland Family Network, the average cost of daycare in Maryland is $238 a week. That totals to $1031.33 a month and $12,376 a year. Compare that to the average cost of center-based daycare in the United States at $11,666 per year ($972 a month) (National Association of Child Care Resource & Referral Agencies) and you’re practically looking at a mortgage payment.

Health Insurance - What exactly is covered by your current plan?

Find out what health services you are covered for, ideally before or during pregnancy. Different health care plans are set up to cover different life events and preventative care services such as prenatal visits, prenatal vitamins, sonograms etc. Once you find out that you are pregnant, finding out your health care options should be number one on your list. If you find that you need to adjust your plan, be sure that you also find out when your open enrollment period is as most plans will only allow for adjustments during that time. If you miss your window, you could be out of luck.

Maternity and/or Paternity Leave - Does your employer offer it?

Maternity leave and paternity leave is the time off work that parents typically take after the birth of a child. While maternity leave (for mothers) is more common, some employers are now offering paternity leave for fathers to have some time at home with their newborn child. While it’s common, not all employers offer this benefit to their employees and are under no requirement for this leave to be paid time off. The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a federal law which requires certain employers, including the State of Maryland, to grant job-protected leave to employees who meet FMLA’s eligibility requirements. The law entitles eligible employees to an absence of up to a total of 12 work weeks of unpaid leave in any 12-month period. If your employer does not offer any type of paid maternity leave or short term disability, you may need to think about how you will cope with the decrease in income for those few weeks.

It's Time to Make a Will

Although no one likes to think about it, now that you are going to be a parent you need to start thinking about how your child will be cared for after you’re gone. Topics such as who will care for your child and what happens to your money and belongings if something unforeseen happens to you should be addressed in your will. If the unfortunate happens before you are able to set up your will, there is no telling what might happen to your money, house or child if there isn’t a spouse in the picture.

Update Your Beneficiary Information

Too often parents forget to update their beneficiary information when a child comes into the picture. While this may not seem like a big deal (especially if a spouse is listed as the current beneficiary), if something happens to you and your spouse, and your child is not listed as a beneficiary, all of your belongings, money, property and equity could be thrown into an estate. If an estate is required to be opened, your child may have to deal with any and all creditors, bill collectors or any other unpaid debt that you had accumulated.

Savings Plan / College Plan

Yep, we said it - college. Your baby hasn’t even seen the light of day yet and you already need to begin thinking about a starting a college savings plan. The state of Maryland offers several college savings plans including the Maryland Prepaid College Trust and the Maryland College Investment Plan. In addition to these plans, there are a variety of 529 plans and traditional savings plans that you can start investing in almost immediately.

While all of this may be overwhelming, having a baby is the most amazing thing that you’ll ever do in your life. While this list barely skims the surface on how your wallet feels about that, any parent will tell you over and over again, it’s worth every penny.

If you found this article useful, be sure to check out these related articles:

The Importance of Reviewing Your Beneficiaries

4 Financial Mistakes Newlyweds Make

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Baltimore County Settlement Expense Loan Program (SELP)

by Charlie Maykrantz 22. January 2015

Mortgage Assistance

If you are looking to purchase a home in the Baltimore County area, but need help with down payment and closing costs, then 1st Mariner Bank has just the answer: the “Baltimore County Settlement Expense Loan Program” (SELP) as offered through the Department of Planning and Housing Opportunities of Baltimore County. This program is an effort to encourage first time homebuyers to consider home ownership in existing residential communities in Baltimore County. Located within the Community Conservation Area of the county, it excludes the growth areas of White Marsh and Owings Mills. Loans up to $10,000 are available to families whose income is at or below 80% of the area median income, adjusted for household size.

Here are some of the eligibility requirements:

  1. Buyer must complete the Homebuyer Education Curriculum before signing a real estate contract.

  2. All borrowers must meet income qualifications and be first time buyers that have not owned property in the last three years. Exceptions can be granted for separation, divorce, death of a spouse or prior ownership of documented substandard housing.

  3. Buyer must qualify for a fixed rate mortgage.

  4. Borrower’s post-purchase assets cannot exceed 25% of gross annual household income.

  5. Borrower minimum cash contribution in the transaction is equal to 5% of gross household income.

  6. Buyers proposed housing and debt expense must meet guidelines as stated per Baltimore County and cannot exceed said limits.

Existing property must be owner occupied, occupied by borrower, or vacant. New construction is excluded in this program. The home must have a satisfactory home inspection and meet the federal Housing Quality Standards (HQS) using an inspection firm from the pre-qualified county list.

The SELP loan amount has a minimum of $1,000 and maximum of $10,000. The terms of the loan state that the loan is deferred for (15) years (affordability period). Thereafter, the loan is forgiven after 15 years, unless sale, transfer of title, or default occurs before the end of the (affordability period) 15 years.

For more information on these programs or any of our other products at 1st Mariner Bank please feel free to contact Charlie Maykrantz at cmaykrantz@1stmarinerbank.com or 410-735-2068.

The above programs are subject to change at any time and this does not constitute a guarantee on the part of 1st Mariner Bank as an obligation to offer these programs without the approval of the program administrator. All applicants must be qualified to purchase and participate in these programs per underwriting guidelines of both 1st Mariner and the program administrator.

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