From the Desk of Roger Douville

The economy continues to recover and the stock market continues to set new records. However, household incomes have not kept pace with the recovery and household debt has made a comeback fueled by consumer optimism. Debt continues to escalate and income remains flat to slightly increasing for most households. We expect wages to increase gradually in the coming year however the majority of households have elevated household debt, namely revolving debt, to maintain lifestyle. As a result, we see the gap between earnings and debt widen for consumers in all parts of the country.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Credit card debt continues to rise with the average household carrying over $16,000 in credit card debt on an average of approximately 3 cards (*TransUnion) per person. Consider also the rise of unsecured debt from Peer to Peer lenders adding to the overall credit burden of today’s consumers.   

So maybe lender focus needs to change? Surely, I’m not suggesting that we throw away prudent underwriting guidelines. But I am suggesting that we set new expectations by more accurately predicting the new reality we are faced with. Lenders must adapt to an environment where the consumer is being squeezed between escalating debt and stagnant wages and consider a fresh approach in managing their loan portfolios. The job of protecting from losses is too large to be managed solely on the front end at underwriting. We must build budgets with appropriate loan loss reserves that set clear and realistic profitability expectations.

Maybe it’s time to modify our thinking as to what are “acceptable” loss rates and build new yield projections in our business models to maintain the margins we need to grow our businesses. Finally, we must rethink the way we collect and liquidate the collateral we take in and spend the money needed to acquire talent in these areas. Use multiple repossession agents, auction houses, and consider hiring a liquidation specialist that creates a dedicated dealer network that can recondition and/or purchase your collateral. The addition of a recovery specialist to collect and recover past charge offs is also money well spent.  

Overall, consumer debt is increasing and times are changing. Though there is no simple solution or response to this new climate, it is important to re-evaluate current efforts to consider new avenues for both helping consumers and maintaining profitability.

All the best,

Roger Douville

Thanksgiving turkey transport tips

Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and for a lot of us, that means gathering with loved ones to appreciate life’s blessings, watch football, and chow on an immense amount of turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, and pie. Often, when extended family and friends come together, different elements of the Thanksgiving meal are prepared at each household and brought to the meeting place. How does one safely and successfully transport the Thanksgiving Day necessities to and from its destination?

Even on Thanksgiving, safety is first. Loose items in vehicles can be both a cause and effect of auto accidents, causing injury in both scenarios. Just as it is important for passengers to buckle up, securing all delicious food is important, too. Here are a few ways to keep food fastened:

Use a laundry basket. This common household item will help to both carry multiple dishes at once and keep them from rolling or tipping during transport.

Secure with bungee cords. If you’ll be going on winding or rough roads, or are simply still worried about spillage with the laundry basket, bungee cords can provide an extra level of security to keep the basket from sliding or tipping.

Have beach towels handy. Beach towels can be placed between dishes to buffer any movement and protect against broken glass. But,beach towels serve more purposes than just safety. Dishes can be wrapped in beach towels for insulation and for easier carrying. Additionally, lining the trunk or seats with towels can protect your vehicle’s interior in case a spill does occur.

Hold dishes in your lap. If there are passengers on your trip and the dishes aren’t too hot, line their lap with a towel and have them hold the food themselves until arrival. Because they’re on a relatively flat surface and are being actively monitored, this is a good way to avoid spills. However, it seems to invite taste testers to sneak a sample before the meal begins.

For the turkey specifically, transportation can present a particular challenge – especially if you plan to cook it beforehand. Because the bird is so heavy and needs to be kept warm, it requires both stability and insulation. Here’s what we recommend for turkey travel:

Use a covered roasting oven with handles. These relatively inexpensive appliances will allow you to cook, transport, and serve the turkey in the same dish. Roasting ovens insulate heat well, so they will keep your bird warm for a decent amount of time before arriving at your destination.

Cook your turkey in a Reynolds oven bagThese bags store moisture , flavor, and mess, until opened. So, cook your turkey, grab the bag, and place it in any foil-lined, insulated, storage pan of your choice.

Transport in a cooler lined with foil. Though special hot/cold coolers exist and are pretty inexpensive, if you don’t already have one, a regular cooler lined with foil should do well for a short trip.

With these tips in mind, you are now more equipped to have a safe, spill-free, delicious Thanksgiving holiday with family and friends.

Beware of These Dealership Tricks

Buying a new car is often an exciting experience. However, sometimes the idea of having a new ride blinds buyers from shopping smart – meaning more money out of your pocket and locked into a less-than-best deal. Understanding the dealerships’ tricks before you shop makes for more awareness, wiser shopping, and thicker pockets. So, we’ve laid out the most common dealership tactics and some ways in which you can influence the dealer yourself.

Dealership Tricks:

The bait and switch:

Yes, this is actually done at the dealerships. A “great deal” will be advertised through the dealership, but when you get there, the car has been “sold” and the salesperson attempts to sell you the “available”, pricier model. Call ahead to confirm the pricing and availability of the advertised vehicle you want to ensure that you won’t be duped into spending more money.

Certified Used Vehicles:

A common practice of dealerships is to mislead you into thinking you are purchasing a high grade and inspected vehicle. However, the vehicles have often been in major accidents that could lead to issues down the road. Research the history of the car to make sure this isn’t the case. Carfax is a great resource for researching vehicle histories.


If a salesman finds that you don’t know much about the car or its value, they will use this to their advantage. Make sure you comparing similar vehicle prices and, as is explained later, research the supply and demand of that model.

Increased Interest Rate:

There are a lot of little tricks dealerships use to get more money out of you. This can also include tacking on warranties that don’t really matter, providing false information on the state of your current car, and trying to raise your monthly payment instead of focusing on the actual value of the car.  Behind closed doors, you may be getting approved for a lower interest rate than what the car salesman is telling you. This way, the dealership is able to pocket the difference.

Searching Online:

Just like auto refinance can be easy online, so can purchasing a vehicle. Employees running the internet side of the dealership often use pre-approvals to grant you a lower price without actually approving anyone for anything. Before visiting the dealership, shop around on financing options to see what rates you can truly expect.

Ways you can increase your negotiating power:

Is the car you want in demand:

Do research on the vehicle you want to see if it’s in demand. Find out how many they have in inventory at the dealership and how much they typically sell for. If they have a full stock, this will give you room to negotiate the price.

When to look for a vehicle:

Most of us have heard this before, but try to find the right car at the end of the month. This is when a lot of salesmen are trying to reach their monthly goals. Also try calling the dealership during a month with bad weather or when the new models are set to begin selling.

Don’t focus on monthly payments:

Don’t discuss the monthly payment with the dealership until you have negotiated the actual price of the car. Providing a max number on the monthly payment gives the salesman a chance to include additional costs into the loan.


Maintenance Doesn’t Have to Break the Bank

Vehicle maintenance should be a planned expense for any car owner, but many people overspend at the mechanic shop. Being smart and proactive about your car’s maintenance could mean serious savings, both in overall cost and in preventing larger, more expensive, mechanical issues down the road.

The easiest way to save money on repairs is to actually do the preventative maintenance. Many people avoid things like oil changes, replacing filters, and tire rotation, but ignoring these simple and regular tasks could lead to much more costly and dangerous results.

Of course, doing these things yourself is the most cost-effective method, but for the less-handy, these repairs are relatively inexpensive. Further, because they are a planned and necessary task associated with owning a vehicle, setting money aside each month in anticipation of these upcoming costs is a great way to avoid feeling overwhelmed.

When working with a mechanic on other issues, there are three key ways to ensure you get the best deal and only spend on what you need. First, avoid accepting the first repair shop quote; shop around, get a few estimates – it could save you hundreds.

Second, don’t tell the mechanic what parts to replace. Often, parts simply need repair and not replacing, or the customer is incorrect about the cause of the issue. Some mechanics may replace the suggested part because they were asked to, but because it’s necessary – costing you extra cash.

Third, to avoid shady repair practices, ask for parts back when mechanics mention replacing it. Dishonest repair shops may scam drivers by charging for work that was not done or for repairs that were unnecessary.

Saving money in small ways can make a big impact. Being smart and proactive with repairs can potentially save you hundreds!

Recent Grads Credit Misconception


College graduates face a plethora of obstacles in their post-education transition, and likely aren’t thinking about building credit as a big priority. That is, until good credit becomes a big necessity for grown-up milestones like buying a house, a car, and even getting an apartment.

Aside from a credit card or two, most recent graduates don’t have much of a credit history – a valuable component to building a good credit score.  Many believe that the car their parents co-signed to help them purchase during their college years will help to establish their credit worth; however, it will have minimal impact compared to establishing a payment history on the vehicle as the sole individual listed on the loan.

When faced with this common situation, one remedy for building credit is to refinance. Auto refinancing is a free and easy solution to list the recent graduate as sole borrower and start building that credit history.  A few often unknown or overlooked facts for recent grads interested in refinancing:

  1. Refinancing does not generate any additional fees nor are there any out-of-pocket expenses.
  2. Many lenders look favorably on individuals who have graduated from reputable institutions when determining approval criteria and lending rates.
  3. You can create an acceptable work history in as little as 6 months in post graduate employment.
  4. Refinancing often allows the borrow to skip one, two or even three payments in some cases.

If you or someone you know is a recent college graduate interested in building your credit score, refinancing your vehicle can be a free, easy way to start today.