OppLoans Q&A: Andrew Schrage of Money Crashers Personal Finance

Hi Andrew, thanks for speaking with us. What are your goals for Money Crashers, for you, and for your readers? What inspires you?

What is inspirational is that we know that the work that we’re doing here at Money Crashers is having real, demonstrative, positive effects on peoples’ financial lives. Our main goal right now is to continue to do more of the same — provide our readers with factual and accurate advice on ways that they can improve their finances, which runs the gamut from saving on monthly bills, investing tips, and retirement planning. Our audience is pretty widespread demographically, although it does skew a bit more towards women and somewhat to the younger generation. But we feel that we have an appeal across all age, gender, and other demographic categories.

What are the most common mistakes you see people making with their money? Are any of these mistakes tied to beliefs or ideas about spending or saving that simply aren’t true?

Many people do not budget their money, which is a mistake. Other folks view credit card debt as a necessary part of life, which it isn’t. Another mistake people make with their money is not planning for the future or namely retirement. Some of the things that simply aren’t true regarding money is that you can’t get control over your finances, credit card debt can’t be solved and eliminated, and planning for the future is an impossibility.

How do you recommend your readers identify financial predators? What are some red flags people can look for?

Most of our advice involves doing research. You can usually spot a scam pretty quickly when armed with the right information. A potential financial predator is one with sketchy or no contact information, one that presents a deal that is simply too good to be true, or one that has some sort of time limit to what they’re selling, such as that you have to supposedly “act now.”

Money Crashers frequently features in-depth reviews of credit cards—what are three key things people should know about credit cards? What are some common misconceptions about credit card usage?

Credit cards can actually make you money, if you choose one with a great rewards program. However, your credit card usage has a direct effect on your credit score, therefore your use of credit cards should be treated with care. Credit cards should not be used as tools to finance things that you otherwise can’t afford. If you can’t afford to pay the balance off by the time the bill comes in, then you simply can’t afford it. You’re better off saving your cash until you can. One misconception not already mentioned, as strange as it may sound, is that the purchases or charges put on credit cards actually don’t have to be paid back — that’s one trap some folks fall into which can lead to significant credit card debt.

What’s the best piece of money advice you’ve ever heard on borrowing money?

The best piece of advice on borrowing money is not to do so, unless it makes financial sense. If your kid needs to borrow money through student loans to attend college, that’s OK since the reward of a good paying job will allow that to be offset. If you need to borrow money to buy a house, that’s generally a good investment as well, as it can pay off. Borrowing money for some sort of discretionary purchase, like a new smartphone or a flat screen TV really isn’t a good idea because these things aren’t necessities.

What, in your opinion, should a socially-responsible lender provide the borrower?

A socially-responsible lender will provide upfront all of the costs and fees associated with the loan. This stuff should not be buried in the fine print. The borrower should know exactly what they’re getting into before signing on the dotted line.

How should I go about choosing a loan that’s right for me?

Ideally, try your current bank or credit union — you might get more favorable terms. But if you’re getting turned away from traditional financial institutions, investigate the different lending options based on your needs — crowdfunding might be a possible avenue, as one example. Always get at least three quotes regardless of the chosen niche — rates and fees do vary. In the end, do your homework — it’ll be time well spent.

Why OppLoans

OppLoans is the nation’s leading socially-responsible online lender and one of the fastest-growing organizations in the FinTech space today. Embracing a character-driven approach to modern finance, we emphatically believe all borrowers deserve a dignified alternative to payday lending. Currently rated 5/5 stars on Google and LendingTree, OppLoans is redefining online lending through caring service for our customers.