Financial Tips for Applying Tax Return Funds

tips applying tax return funds
At 1st Choice Money Center, the name of the game for us is helping our clients with their finances through smart, non-predatory short-term loans like personal loans, title loans and other alternatives to misleading payday loans. In addition to providing such loan services, we also offer expertise and basic financial tips to many of our clients who may be in a bit of a bind. With tax season on the horizon, one area our clients are often wondering about this time of year is what to do with an impending tax return and the funds it offers. While you may be tempted to go out and get a new flatscreen or a new pair of shoes, there are more productive ways to put these funds to use, especially if you’re had any recent financial issues. Let’s look at some intelligent ways to apply your tax return money this year to improve your overall financial picture. tips applying tax return funds

Debt Payoff

If you’ve been trying to pay down debt for months or even years but barely making an impact, a cash infusion like your tax return could be a great chance to make some progress. Especially if you receive a significant amount you were not entirely expecting, this is money you won’t necessarily miss – but it could have a huge impact on lowering your interest payments and allowing you to dig out from debt. One note here: If you have major debts, we recommend paying them down before contributing toward a retirement account. Such accounts only tend to yield between 4 and 5 percent interest, where credit cards charge between 15 and 20 percent interest.

Retirement Funds

If you do not have major credit card debt, on the other hand, retirement funding is a great outlet for tax return money. The sooner you start compiling these savings, the easier it will be to save up and ensure your retirement years are simple and comfortable. There are several retirement account types to consider if you haven’t already got one open.

Emergency Stockpiling

If you don’t already have an emergency fund started, one that’s available for things like a car accident or a natural disaster, this could be a great opportunity to get one started – or to contribute to an existing emergency fund if it’s getting low. In most cases, financial advisors recommend having at least three months of expenses saved up in case of emergency.

Side Gig

Finally, are you attempting to kickstart a side gig or some other kind of pursuit? If your other finances are in order, using your tax return funds here could be a good way to open yourself up to further avenues of income. For more on potential avenues for intelligent application of your tax return money this year, or to learn about any of our installment loans, speak to the staff at 1st Choice Money Center today.

Loan Types for Those With Bad Credit Ratings

loan types bad credit
For those with bad credit who are in need of additional funds for a variety of potential reasons, the process can be stressful. Whether you need money for an emergency medical procedure, a period of unemployment or any other reason, you may be worried your bad credit will keep you from getting it. At 1st Choice Money Center, we’re here to reassure you that this isn’t the case. We have several bad credit personal loans, title loans and installment loans available for borrowers in this position who may not have the requisite credit needed to get approved for other loan types. Let’s take a look at what each of our primary types does and why it might be the right choice to fill your monetary needs. loan types bad credit

Personal Loans

A personal loan is one that’s provided in a lump sum format to the borrower, and the borrower has complete control over what they do with the money. Personal loans can range widely in terms of their value, from lower amounts like $1,000 or even less all the way up to $50,000 in some cases. Several factors play a role in how much you can borrow on a personal loan, including your credit rating. While a select few personal loans may be secured against collateral, most are not. Rather, they are unsecured loans based on your word and the details of your income and other financial areas.

Title Loans

Title loans, also called car title loans, do use collateral: Your vehicle. While you continue to drive the vehicle like normal, you put the title up as collateral against the amount you’re borrowing. These loans are popular for several reasons, but in large part because they do not utilize credit rating in any way as part of the approval or qualifying process. They can also be approved very quickly in most cases, and can be used for a wide range of monetary needs, even tiny ones in some cases. You can use a car, truck, SUV, RV, ATV or even a motorcycle as collateral for a title loan, and there are even situations where you don’t have to completely own the vehicle.

Installment Loans

We also offer installment loans, which differ from personal loans in that you repay them based on a schedule over time rather than in a single lump sum. For those who need a bit more time or may have to take additional steps to recoup the final funds, installment loans are often highly valuable due to their simple scheduling. For more on great loan options for those with bad credit who need some quick cash, or to learn about any of our alternatives to payday loans, speak to the staff at 1st Choice Money Center today.

Tips on Budgeting and Saving Money During the Holidays

budgeting saving money holidays
For several reasons, those with budgetary concerns or in need of a bit of a cash infusion often feel the effects most strongly during the holiday season. Whether due to a need to buy gifts or year-end expenses coming up, this is a common time of year for many people to be in need of just a few extra funds. At 1st Choice Money Center, we’re here to help. We offer various installment loans and title loan programs, a variety of solutions that serve as great alternatives to harmful payday loans. We’ve helped many individuals meet their holiday or year-end financial needs with a quick cash infusion, and we’ll be thrilled to do the same for you. In addition to some of our loan options, here are some basic tips on how to limit your holiday spending to keep it within a reasonable range this time of year. budgeting saving money holidays

Budget and Shopping List

We all know how tempting it can be to overspend during the holiday season, especially once you’re inside stores doing their very best to draw you in. To help avoid impulse spending, make a specific holiday shopping budget for yourself well in advance, plus a general list of the things you want to try and get for those on your list. If possible, place a rough dollar amount next to each person or item. As you set out on your shopping, whether in-person or online, keep the list with you and stick to it.

Secret Santa

If you have a larger extended family or group of friends, one way to save everyone some needed money over the holidays is to do a Secret Santa gift exchange rather than purchasing gifts for everyone. If you haven’t done one before, a Secret Santa is a program where everyone receives a single individual to buy a gift for at random (and in secret), then buys the gift within the budgetary limits you’ve set up as a group. This is a great way to make sure everyone close to you gets a gift, but no one goes overboard on spending.

Cards Over Gifts

For extended family or friends who you don’t see that often, it’s perfectly acceptable to send a nice, personalized holiday card rather than splurging on gifts for everyone. Holiday cards can be bought in bulk for an affordable price, making them a great alternative in many cases.

Discount Options

Finally, always be on the hunt for the kinds of discounts that are plentiful this season. Shop yard sales and flea markets if they’re available in your area, plus look for online discounts or coupons to use in stores. You can even consider going to the dollar store for wrapping paper instead of more expensive options. For more on how to limit your holiday spending, or to learn about any of our short-term loan options to assist you over the holidays or any other time of year, speak to the staff at 1st Choice Money Center today.

Credit and Other Tips for the Best Short-Term Loan

credit best short-term loan

For any type of short-term loan you might be considering to give you a quick financial boost, you want to secure yourself the best terms possible. Whether we’re talking loan amount, interest rate or several other factors, putting yourself in position to get a great loan term is vital for ensuring you’re able to repay it promptly and properly.

At 1st Choice Money Center, we offer a variety of short-term loans that serve as alternatives to payday loans, including personal loans, signature loans and title loans. One of the key factors in getting the best possible such loan: Having good credit. Let’s go over the basics on credit score and the factors used to calculate it, plus how credit history matters and why it’s vital to ensure you’re working with a reputable loan company.

credit best short-term loan

Credit Score and Factors Involved

Your credit score is a number used by any financial institution that will potentially be lending you money, with the goal of weighing the risk of lending to you. Credit scores range from 300 on the lowest end to 850 on the highest end – the lower the number, the greater the risk to the lender. Your score is made up of several factors:

  • Payment history (35% of your score): Whether you’ve been paying bills on time, have missed any payments, etc.
  • Credit utilization ratio (30%): The percentage of your available credit that you’re actively using – generally speaking, you want to keep this number below 40%.
  • Credit history (15%): How long you’ve had accounts open with a strong repayment history.
  • Credit types (10%0: Mortgages, car loans, personal loans, credit cards, etc.
  • New credit (10%): Don’t open several new lines of credit at once, as it can have a negative impact.

Credit History

While we do have bad credit loans available, your potential for a great loan increases if you build up your credit history. Spend several months or years paying your bills on time and lowering your utilization ratio to give yourself the most available options.

Viable Loan Company

Finally, another important factor here is working with a short-term lender that is reputable and has a proven track record in the industry. Sadly, there are some in this world who are not trustworthy, including those who actively look to prey on those with short-term cash needs – this is often what happens with payday loan lenders in particular, and why we at 1st Choice Money Center go out of our way to provide alternatives to these often-harmful loan types. Working with a strong lender who cares about your needs and will help you get the best loan possible is vital.

For more on securing a great short-term loan, or to learn about any of our installment loan products, speak to the staff at 1st Choice Money Center today.

Tips for Paying Down Various Loan Types in a Speedy Manner, Part 2

Business man writing a check

In part one of this two-part blog series, we went over some basic tips on paying down a loan debt quickly. There are many reasons why borrowers want to pay down their loans as fast as they can, from saving money on interest to improving their credit score and other areas of their finances.

At 1st Choice Money Center, we proudly offer a wide range of installment loan services, signature loans and title loans that serve as a better alternative to potentially predatory payday loans. Whether you’ve taken out one of our loan types or any other available to you, let’s go over a few additional methods at your disposal if your primary goal is to pay the loan back as quickly and efficiently as you can.

Lower Interest Rate Loan Conversion

In some cases, you’ll have been paying various loan or credit debts down properly for long enough that your credit score will improve as a result. In such situations, your score might have even improved enough for you to qualify for a new loan – one that covers the same amount you still owe, but comes in at a lower interest rate.

With this approach, you can instantly pay down the remaining balance on the higher-interest loan, assuming the new lower-interest loan moving forward. With lower interest rates, your ability to pay down the loan faster should improve, especially if you’re taking the savings and applying them directly to the principal of your new loan.

Additional Income

Whenever you receive additional income beyond that from your primary occupation, use it to pay down your loan. Whether this income from a gift, a tax refund or a work bonus, you’re unlikely to miss this money as part of your daily needs – so why not use it to build your overall financial profile and improve your credit?

Part-Time Work

Another potential source of additional income here: Taking on a secondary part-time job if it’s possible within your schedule. This approach has two direct positive impacts – you earn extra money that can be used to pay down the loan, for starters, but you also spend a greater percentage of your time working rather than in situations where you might spend money. You may not think that $8 movie ticket is really that great an expense, and on its own it isn’t, but those kinds of purchases add up over time if you’re making them regularly. Cutting back on those sorts of things by filling your time with work kills two metaphorical birds with a single stone, so it’s something to consider if it’s realistic within your daily timeline.

For more on methods for paying down debts quickly, or to learn about any of our title loans, signature loans or bad credit loan options, speak to the staff at 1st Choice Money Center today.

Tips for Paying Down Various Loan Types in a Speedy Manner, Part 1

Hand pushing blue pay keyboard button

For every loan type out there, from smaller installment loans to the largest mortgages or car loans out there, borrowers are always looking for ways to pay down their balances faster. The quicker you can pay down a given loan, the less interest you pay over its life and the faster you can resume directing funds toward other needs.

At 1st Choice Money Center, we’re proud to offer a variety of installment loans, from car title loans to signature loans and several other great alternatives to potential predatory payday loans. No matter which loan type you’re repaying, what are some handy ways to improve your pace and pay down a loan faster? This two-part blog will dig into several suggestions we can offer.

Understanding Details and Terms

For starters, it’s extremely important to spend time reading through all the details and terms of your loan before signing anything. You’re looking for a number of different areas, from the interest percentage being paid to the format used to calculate interest versus principal balance. A few specific areas to keep an eye on:

  • Repayment terms: In most loan situations, your loan repayment terms will be calculated using simple interest, where your monthly payment and its interest are just based on the loan’s outstanding balance. If this is your format, you’ll have fewer interest payments to cover.
  • Extra payment application: If you make any extra payments toward your loan, be sure to specify that the payments go toward the principal balance, not the interest.
  • Penalties: Some lenders have prepayment penalties that raise a fee to compensate for interest payments they do not receive if you pay the loan down too quickly. Ask any lender in advance whether this is the case, and consider how this may impact your choice.

Bi-Weekly Payments

Most loans are paid back on a monthly basis, and here’s a handy trick for those making such payments: Instead of making a single monthly payment, make bi-weekly payments instead that add up to the same monthly amount. In the short-term, you’ll barely notice a difference – most months are around four weeks long anyway.

But over a period of time, you’ll actually be making 26 full-sized payments over the course of the year, rather than just 24. For long-term loans like mortgages, this sort of approach can save you significant interest and pay your loan off much faster.


If you have multiple debts you’re currently paying down, you should strongly consider a tactic known as snowballing. This is where you take all the funds you have available for debt payment for a given month, then apply them singularly to the highest-interest repayment you’re making (with the exception of minimum amounts required for other loan balances). This will help you limit your interest over time while paying down the most significant debts first.

For more tactics for repaying loans faster, or to learn about any of our installment loan products, speak to the staff at 1st Choice Money Center today.

Comparing Signature Loans to Title Loans

looking at loan agreement

For those in need of some quick cash to help solve a temporary financial bind of any sort, there are a few prominent options out there. Two such options, perhaps the most common in the installment loan world, are known as signature loans and title loans.

At 1st Choice Money Center, we’re proud to offer both signature and title loans as installment loan options, alternatives to harmful, predatory payday loans you might find elsewhere. How do these options compare and differ, and which might be right for your situation? Here’s a primer to help you understand.

Secured and Unsecured Loans

The loan realm contains two broad loan types:

  • Secured loans: Those where the amount being borrowed is directly protected by collateral, whether monetary or in the form of property. The borrower puts up an asset of value that protects the lender in cases of nonpayment – in these situations, the lender takes the collateral for themselves if the loan is not repaid according to the conditions laid out.
  • Unsecured loan: An unsecured loan involves no collateral in the equation, on the flip side. For this reason, most lenders offering unsecured loans will have to take higher interest rates and fees to make up for the increased risk they’re taking on by giving this loan out with no collateral. In nearly all cases, then, unsecured loans will come with higher rates than equivalent secured loans.

Title Loans

Car title loans, then, are a great example of a secured loan type. The collateral in each of these cases is the vehicle title being used by the borrower, which has value and allows the lender to take a bit of risk when loaning out the money.

Because of this, title loan rates will generally be relatively favorable – the more valuable the vehicle, the better the rates. Title loans can also reach much higher amounts than other installment loan types in many cases, due mostly to the high value of vehicles on the market.

Signature Loans

Signature loans, on the other hand, are unsecured loans in nearly all cases. They do not require any specific collateral, only a signature. This can be great for certain people in a rough position where they don’t have much collateral to give, but still need some emergency funds.

On the flip side, though, they tend to come with higher interest rates. These can be mitigated somewhat if you have a good credit score, which the lender will check in advance, or if you have a cosigner to assist you.

To learn more about the differences between signature and title loans, or for information on which might be best for you, speak to the staff at 1st Choice Money Center today.

How Short-Term Loans Benefit College Students

Class Of University Students Using Laptops In Lecture

If you’re an upcoming college student, or the parent of one, did you realize that the average single-year cost of a four-year college in the US is above $26,000? Funding college or university attendance has never been tougher, even for parents and students who have been saving for years.

At 1st Choice Money Center, we’re here to offer an alternative that benefits many students: Short-term loans, from installment loans and title loans to signature and personal loans. We offer several such options, all of which include details like principal and interest payments that separate us from predatory payday loan formats. Let’s look at traditional forms of financial aid for college, how they can sometimes fall short, and how short-term loans will help bridge the gap if you or your child is in need.

College Expenses and Standard Financial Aid

The expenses incurred by attending college are significant. On top of heavy tuition costs, you have to consider housing, dining, book and technology costs, and day-to-day living expenses that are sure to add up.

The primary source of aid for these numerous expenses is a traditional Federal student loan, which is combined with personal savings, scholarships and any grants awarded to help cover the sums required. But even between all these options, many students find themselves reaching their limits for financial aid well before they’ve actually covered every expense in front of them.

Short-Term Loans for Additional Expenses

In cases like these, many students are turning to strong short-term loans to help make up the cost. These loans contain types that require little or no credit history, a valuable factor for younger adults who haven’t been able to build up much credit just yet.

In many cases, the forms of financial aid we listed above do well with covering the primary expenses like tuition and food – but fall short in certain additional detail areas. We’re talking things like computers, books, class fees, and all the other little expenses that add up over time.

Areas Covered

Here are several areas where short-term loans can be enormously helpful to college students struggling with their expenses:

  • Books and supplies: Between textbooks and backpacks, notebooks, pens and pencils, calculators and any other items you need, supplies can add up to thousands of dollars in a hurry. Many students need to purchase a printer, which is another additional expense.
  • Household items: Things like towels, sheets, desks, chairs and others.
  • Day-to-day items: Things like groceries, clothes, laundry, toiletries and healthcare all have to be considered as well.
  • School fees: Areas such as lab fees, school activity fees and others cover things like parking passes, gym access and free attendance to university sporting events.

For more on how short-term loans can assist college students with overwhelming expenses, or to learn about any of our title loans or other short-term options, speak to the staff at 1st Choice Money Center today.

Why Our Loans Are Better Than Payday Loans

utah arches

Payday Loans in Utah

Our Installment and Car Title Loans can help you pay off debts, consolidate bills or make a major purchase. Each payment pays down interest and PRINCIPAL unlike most Payday Loans! Secured and unsecured loans available. No Credit Checks! Loans up to 24 months. No checking account required. Visit our Installment Loans page to learn more.

Ensuring a Clean Title for Auto Equity Title Loans

Auto Loan Application Form with a pen on a wooden desk

At 1st Choice Money Center, we’re proud to offer several loan types that help people who need a quick boost to get back up on their feet. One of the most effective such programs we offer is the auto equity title loan, one offered to both Idaho and Utah borrowers, a fantastic and more beneficial alternative to payday loans.

In a car title loan situation, you put up the title of your vehicle and the car itself as collateral against the loan amount we’re lending you – up to $10,000 in most cases. Because vehicles are often worth significantly more than the $1,500 you can get from certain other similar loan types, the car title loan is enormously valuable for people who need larger sums.

While they’re rare, there are a few title issues that may be present on your vehicle that prevent you from being able to post it as collateral in a loan. Here are these potential issues, and what you can do about them.

Physical Title Document

Perhaps the most common title issue we see regularly is potential borrowers who simply have lost or misplaced the title. It’s vital to remember that a car’s title is a real, physical document that must be with you in the vehicle for several purposes, including if you’re planning to use the car as collateral on a loan.

These aren’t even the only issues you may run into if your title isn’t in the car, either. Ownership issues often crop up when this is the case, potentially creating several other hassles. Luckily, if you realize you’ve misplaced your title, your local motor vehicle office should be able to get you a replacement (assuming you are truly the legal owner of the car, of course).

Title Fraud Issues

Another potential issue with your car’s title is title fraud, which unfortunately is somewhat common in the vehicle industry. This is a process often performed by a shady used car dealer or a tricky previous owner, one where the title is scrubbed of previous issues that may have taken place with the car, such as accidents, major repairs or other potential safety hazards.

In many cases, title fraud is found when you’re dealing with less-than-reputable dealers or individual sellers. To avoid this, only deal with legitimate businesses when it comes to every area of your vehicle, including purchasing a new or used one.

Improper Transfer

Finally, you may run into one of several paperwork- or detail-related areas when it comes to taking possession of a vehicle you’ve purchased. Once again, this often takes place with shady dealers or sellers – it’s quite rare with reputable dealers. In certain extreme cases, the entire vehicle transaction may be voided due to improper transfer practices, meaning you won’t be able to put the vehicle up as collateral.

For more on the potential title issues that could block you from using your vehicle in a title loan, or to learn about our signature loans, installment loans or any of our other choices, speak to the staff at 1st Choice Money Center today.