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3 Tips to Improve Your Credit Score

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

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When the time comes to get a loan, many individuals are surprised to learn that the bank won’t lend to them due to a low credit score. While no credit check loans are possible regarding some criterias, these short-term loans tend to be for lower-dollar amounts — hardly what you need when buying a home or making another major purchase. To qualify for larger loans, you need to take steps to improve your credit score, and you need to start now. Here’s how you can achieve positive change.

1.    Make On-Time Payments

It sounds surprisingly simple, yet many people fail to pay their bills on time. This can have a disastrous effect on your credit score, especially if you start making late payments on your credit card or other loans.

Failure to pay utility bills or rent could ultimately get a collection agency involved, resulting in a serious black mark on your credit score. To avoid these issues, make sure you pay bills on time, every time. If you have trouble remembering due dates, consider setting up automatic payments.

2.    Lower Your Credit Card Balance

Your credit card’s maximum balance may allow you to carry several thousand dollars on the card, but this doesn’t mean you should. In reality, you should try to keep your balance below 30% of the available amount.

For some, this requires a change in spending habits. By reducing your monthly expenditures, you can keep your balance low. If you’ve accrued a high utilization rate, pay off as much as you can to gradually lower your balance and minimize interest fees.

3.    Check Your Credit Report

When obtaining a loan, lenders will get your credit score from a major credit bureau. These bureaus track all information related to your credit history to calculate a score that will directly influence whether you qualify for a loan.

However, this tracking and reporting process isn’t perfect. It isn’t unusual for an error to be present in the report. You should periodically check your report yourself, investigating for any mistakes, such as applications or accounts you don’t recognize, accounts not getting reported, or even inaccurate personal information. Fixing these mistakes can provide a much-needed boost to your score.

Parting Thoughts

As your credit score improves, you’ll be better positioned to reach your other financial goals. Whether you’re saving up to buy a home or simply wish to be prepared for a rainy day, making these wise changes to your financial habits now will pay big dividends in the future.

The Causes and Consequences of Low Credit Scores

Saturday, June 9, 2018

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Everyone’s taught the importance of maintaining good credit, but not everyone knows just what causes a credit score to drop. There are, in fact, many reasons that your credit could go south.

Causes of Low Credit

The most common reason someone has bad credit is they have made late payments. More specifically, it’s late payments on credit cards. These account for 35% of your credit score, so missing even a few installments can lead to serious damage.

After a few months, your creditors may see these as being charged off, which means that they don’t think you intend to pay your debts. This, alongside being handed over to a collection agency, can cause further damage to your credit score. As your situation worsens, so does your credit. The biggest blows come from bankruptcies, foreclosures, and unpaid judgments. These can stay on your report for 10 years.

The Consequences of a Low Credit Score

What does all of this mean in real-world terms? The most immediate result is that the interest rates on your credit card bills start climbing. It also means that your applications for new credit cards could be rejected and borrowing options are limited to loans for a low credit score account. You may be forced to pay a security deposit on utilities such as electricity or telephone service. Low credit scores can also mean higher insurance premiums since insurance companies claim that people with bad credit tend to file more claims.

Other ramifications include difficulty finding a job in certain sectors. The finance industry takes a close look at people’s credit reports to see if there’s something there that could hinder productivity and performance. If they find something, you might not get the job you want. It’ll be harder to find an apartment or a car because landlords and auto dealers may see you as too risky. You may also have trouble getting a good cell phone contract for the same reason. Finally, it can be extremely difficult to receive a loan of any kind with a low score.

With all the problems that can come from bad credit, you’ll want to have your score rise again as soon as possible. Thankfully, there are plenty of credit repair options available.

Rebuilding Your Credit

The first step to rebuilding your credit is to obtain copies of your credit reports from all three major agencies. These will tell you exactly what’s wrong, so you’ll know just what to fix. If you find any errors, you should contact the agencies to get them removed. If there are no errors, your next step will be to start paying off your bills. Start by paying your past due bills that haven’t been charged off. Once that’s done, tackle your charged-off bills. You should always pay more than the minimum payment on each bill. If you can pay double the minimum, you should do so.

Once you’ve paid most of your debt off, you should consider getting a credit card and paying the monthly payments on time every time. If you have trouble getting a card, then you should look at applying for a secured credit card from your bank. They require a deposit to use, but they can actually be used in more places than retail cards.

Easy Ways to Save Money this Summer

Friday, May 11, 2018

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Although it has seemed like a never-ending winter, spring is here and is kind of mashing together with summer, as the weather doesn’t seem to know what it wants to do.  Regardless, at least that means no more snow and we can look forward to finally opening up the windows and getting some fresh air inside, doing a little spring cleaning while we’re at it, not to mention the garage is probably long overdue for some cleaning.  Just because your weekends will start to fill up now that it’s getting nicer out, doesn’t mean you have to open up the wallet more than you have to.

Entertain at Home

Probably the first task on your list is to get the yard ready by staining the deck, lay down fresh mulch, and start to plant flowers, so why not take advantage of your hard work and start to entertain at home.  Even if it’s just having drinks at your house before you go out to the bars/restaurants, you can at least save money on a few rounds and go out a little later.  After all, nothing beats summer like outdoor parties and late-night’s around the bonfire.

Don’t Put the A/C on Overload

Like you (hopefully) did in the winter, your furnace air filters do need to be changed at least every three months, so now is a good time to put a fresh one in for maximum efficiency.  Also, as you’re starting to work outside, make sure there are no cracks or drafts where you can let any unwanted warm air inside (and cold air from inside, out, for that matter) by adding caulk.  Taking advantage of your programmable thermostat so you don’t forget to change temperatures will help to keep the house warmer while you’re away and cooler at night so it’s more comfortable while you sleep.

Ditch Cable

With all the activities filling up your calendar and spending more time outside, it could be worth saving that hundred dollars or two each month during the summer and then get it again in the fall, although you could be used to not having it by then.  For around $10 a month you can get a streaming service so you can at least still catch up on all the best shows for those nights when you feel like staying up a little later and relaxing on the couch.

Hit the Garage Sales

It seems like everyone has the same idea about getting those extra unwanted items out of the house and have a garage sale.  You could even get lucky where entire blocks are having one the same day so you can go house to house and find items that you don’t want to pay full price for.  You may even decide to have one yourself and use the extra money to fund a summer vacation, as long as you aren’t afraid to part with items that are collecting dust that you still haven’t used in the last few years to free up space.

Credit Card Mistakes You Could be Making

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

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While insurance can help you with medical, auto, and even life matters, it cannot help you with credit cards, something you can fall into a spending trap pretty quickly, or just could be missing out on the right moves to make when it comes to your credit.  Credit cards may have gotten a bad reputation in the past, but if used correctly, can actually help be a good tool to use instead of a debit card to protect your bank account, accepted anywhere without a worry of a hold putting put on your bank account, not to mention the rewards.

Not Checking Your Credit

Not only is your credit a primary factor when it comes to the interest rate on your credit cards, but also your mortgage, personal loans, and even auto insurance.  The higher the interest rate is the higher your monthly payment is, with a majority of the payment going towards interest.  By reviewing your credit report often, not to mention your credit score on monthly credit card statements, you can ensure your accounts are up to date and accurate so you can take advantage of the best interest rates on the market.

Carrying Over a Balance to Next Month

Credit cards give you a nice grace period to be able to make all the charges throughout the month and not having to pay back until next month, but if you’re unable to pay off by the statement due date, you will begin to be hit with interest, which could be upwards of 16% APR, so as the balance rises, the more can be tacked on for interest.  As your balance increases and the closer your reach your overall credit utilization your score will decrease, it’s a good idea to keep your balance as low as possible, or at least what you can afford to pay off each month.

Closing Your Account

If you have had a history of racking up credit card debt, once you finally have rid yourself of that financial burden, the first instinct may be to close your account so you don’t have to risk temptation any longer.  This can actually hurt your score as it will take away from your overall credit available, especially if you have a balance on other cards.  If you are looking to not use the card any longer you can simply cut up the card but still keep the account open.

Missing Out on Free Money

Probably the best reason to use a credit card, and one can argue for every purchase, is based on the rewards that are offered.  Even just thinking about the purchases you were going to make anyways, you can earn points for cash back, which could add up to hundreds of dollars per year that would otherwise be left on the table when using a debit or other credit card.  With the virtually endless amount of offers coming in the mail daily, you should seek out the best offer available, especially the higher your credit score continues to rise.

How You Could Be Burning Through Money Quickly

Friday, April 6, 2018

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While sure it’s great to have a garage full of nice cars, but if it means living beyond your means and spending more than you can afford, is it really worth putting yourself in that sort of financial hole?  You know when you’re actually ahead with your finances is when you have built up an emergency fund, you’re out of debt, and are maximizing contributions to retirement.  If you’re struggling to free up any extra money, you can look to some of money wastes first to try and avoid.

Not Keeping Up with Your Credit Score

While you may not think about credit score having to do with wasting money but think about what lenders look to when approving for a mortgage, loan, credit card, even a job these days, and that’s credit score.  In order to take advantage of the best interest rates on the market you need to have excellent credit, so any short of that then you need to pull your report to make sure accounts are accurate and up to date, while monitoring your score on a monthly basis on credit card statements to make sure it’s climbing.

Paying Credit Card Interest

Speaking of interest rates, probably the highest you have in your name now comes with your credit card, which depending on the card, could be upwards of 16% APR, which once a balance starts to accumulate, paying the minimum is no longer an option if you’re looking to rid yourself the balance.  The best way to handle a credit card responsibly is to charge what you’re able to pay off when the statement balance comes due, as otherwise overspending will send you straight into debt and can take years to get out of, so it’s best to avoid going down that road now.

Missing Out on Free Money

If you are able to handle credit card spending, then using the right credit card is important to make sure you take advantage of the best deals out there, which can be in the form of rewards.  By making the purchases that you were going to be making anyways with a debit or another credit card, you can earn points and cashback that you would otherwise not be receiving.  On a larger scale when it comes to free money has to do with retirement and making sure you check at work to see if you’re taking full advantage of any company-matching contributions as otherwise that could add up to huge amounts you are missing out on.

Paying Extra Fees

Life experiences are important when it comes to keeping a sane mind, but you can pay plenty of extra fees if you’re not careful.  Taking buying tickets for instance.  By the time you buy the face value ticket, say $40, you can expect at least $15 in service charges, plus processing fee, could turn a $40 into over $60, when if you just go to the box office you can have your pick of tickets without service charges, you’ll just have to plan in advance on getting there when they go on sale if it’s a popular event.

Ways You Can Get Ahead with Your Finances

Thursday, March 22, 2018

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While sure, you could make extra money by giving a csl plasma card a shot, but it might be a better idea to take a look at all of your finances and look to make improvements from there.  We know how quickly life goes by, so you want to make sure you’re minimizing spending and maximizing saving for your future.  With a few changes in your current money behavior can go a long way in setting you up for success in getting ahead with your finances.

Check Your Credit Report

I’m not sure about you, but twice in the last year I’ve received texts from my Citi credit card giving me a heads up of fraudulent charges, which turned out to be accurate, so it’s a good idea to review your credit report to make sure all of the accounts are up to date and accurate.  With the credit bureaus offering a free copy of your report once a year, and monthly card statements now showing your credit score, you should have all the tools available to you to make sure your credit continues in the right direction.

Build an Emergency Fund

Much like what happens to your credit information being out of your control, sometimes life gives you unexpected charges that you need to be prepared for, whether it’s medical bills, auto repair, or an out of nowhere job loss.  If you can put a few months’ worth of expenses into an account, you can give yourself a much-needed cushion to prepare yourself, instead of putting on a credit card and risk going into debt as you continue to pay back, with interest, throwing your monthly budget out of whack and tying your up your limited leftover money after bills and expenses.

Use a Credit Card Wisely

Credit cards may have gotten a bad reputation in the past, but if used right, it can actually make sense to use a card for every purchase, provided you can use correctly.  As you charge throughout the month you have to be sure that by the time you receive the statement, you are able to pay the full statement balance by the due date, or you will begin to pay interest, which depending on the rate and balance on the card, the lower the monthly payment you make will do little to chip away at the balance.

Don’t Miss Out on Free Money

Probably the best reason to use a credit card for all purchases are the rewards that come along with making the purchases you were going to be making anyways, but instead earning points or cashback on those purchases.  When it comes to more free money, take a look at work to make sure you’re taking advantage of the maximum company-matching retirement contributions, as if ignored, would be a significant amount of money to leave on the table if you figure how much the balance can grow over the next few decades until you reach retirement age and being to draw as you finally walk away from work.

There Are Certain Things You Shouldn’t Skimp On

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

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While sure it’s important to check is lyft for uber cheaper in order to save money on your responsible rides when needed, so you can skimp on price for whatever is cheaper, but when it comes to other areas, you probably should choose quality over price.  If you can reduce unnecessary expenses and build up an emergency fund you can have the available cash on hand when needed for the necessary items and they won’t break the bank, or even worse have to put on a credit card and pay back, with interest, over time.

Home & Auto Repairs

I’ve had friends over the years that would leave the check engine light on, but to me I would always freak out and take the car in right away to ensure there is nothing wrong.  Now maybe that is one extreme to the other, but when it comes to auto repairs, fixing things when they come up, not to mention normal maintenance such as regular oil changes, rotating the tires, and changing the breaks when needed can extend the life of your car.  Same goes for your home, by replacing the air filter every few months can keep your furnace working efficiently for years.

Insurance

Much like needing to check your credit report at least once a year to make sure your information is up to date and accurate, needing a cushion of a few months’ worth of reserves, same goes for insurance, as you never know what life will throw at you that is out of your control, so the best you can do is be as prepared as you can.  When it comes to insurance, having the adequate home, auto, health, and even life insurance can keep you covered if the unexpected should happen, with hopefully not having mounds of bills come afterwards with just paying your deductible and co-pays.

Mattress

Sure, you can buy a mattress anywhere in between being firm or soft, from different brands and versions of quality, but it can be hard to justify spending a thousand or two on a new mattress if you are in need of replacing your aging one.  Think of it this way, let’s say you get the needed 8 hours of sleep per day and there are 24 hours a day, you’re essentially spending a third of your life on your mattress, so why not make it a premium mattress so you can get a good night’s sleep, not to mention saving your back for potential issues down the road.  With a good night’s sleep, you can guarantee peak performance in your work and personal life, without dragging from being tired all of the time.

Toilet Paper & Paper Towel

You’ve often heard that you get what you pay for, and that is particularly true when it comes to toilet paper and paper towel.  When you buy cheap, you will often use more of it, so it really serves no benefit to go cheap, especially when you want to avoid the sandpaper feel of cheap toilet paper.

Tips for Memorable Family Reunions

Thursday, March 1, 2018

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Have you been charged with organizing a family reunion? The thought of reconnecting with distant relatives is no doubt appealing. The responsibility of planning such a large event may well evoke stress and unsettled nerves. The success of every large event can be attributed to systematic advanced planning. Follow these recommendations from the professional event planner to ensure your family reunion is a huge success.

If you’re anticipating a very large number of family members to participate, one option is to recruit several co-hosts to spread out the work of planning the event. After the hosts have been identified, the first steps are to set a budget and confirm a date. Large family reunions can take place in the afternoon, evening, or even span an entire weekend. When family members are travelling in from out of town, take advantage of the group rates many hotels offer. One simple option is to create a social media page with updates on transportation, times, locations and costs of events.

Once the hosts, dates and budget have been defined, send out save the date eVites to the attendees. Many websites offer free eVites with a dashboard that will keep track of responses. The next step is to secure a venue. Options will be dictated by your budget. If your guests are predominantly local, a pot luck, where everyone brings a dish, will keep costs relatively low.

Consider entertainment options for the event. There are several inexpensive ways to commemorate the occasion. One option is to have t-shirts printed for all family members to wear at the event. Another option is to take advantage of the awesome deals offered by Groupon coupons and snag a Vimeo coupon. A commemorative video of the event is a keepsake that can be enjoyed by all members for generations to come. Because there will no doubt be several generations in attendance, be sure to have a variety of activities planned that are appropriate for multiple age groups.

Once the venue, date and costs have been identified, send out final eVites. In addition, create a social media page that can provide updates and options for group rates on lodgings and transportation. Be sure to take plenty of photos to commemorate the occasion for generations to come!

Ways You Can Wreck Your Credit, Costing You Money

Friday, February 16, 2018

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While you can hope for a lowes build and grow for money to come out of nowhere, but it takes good financial planning, not to mention limiting spending in order to free up extra money and get out of debt, more importantly staying out of debt.  These are important financial decisions and the same goes for your credit, equally important, as that affects the interest rates you get on huge monthly payments such as your mortgage, any loans, and credit cards.  If you’re not careful you could be wrecking your credit, putting you further and further behind from getting the best rates on the market.

Not Paying Attention to Credit Report

These days you never know who has your information anymore, as you often hear about those that get their card information stolen, whether a glance occurs at a gas pump or if you leave it out too long when paying the tab at a restaurant, even worse have a store you shopped at getting compromised.  Even the credit bureaus that been hacked.  It’s a good idea to get a free copy of your credit report from the major credit bureaus at least once a year to verify all your info and accounts are up to date and accurate.

Careless Payments

One of the largest factors of your credit score has to do with payment history.  While even being a day late will cost you a late fee and even an interest rate bump, but it’s when you get to be thirty days late is when your credit will take a hit, and even if it’s a mistake, it will stay on your credit report for up to seven years, making it all more important to either set up automated payments, or at least set reminders to pay on or before the due date.

Racking Up Debt

Just as important as payment history when it comes to your credit score has to do with the amount of debt compared to the available credit.  The closer you reach your credit limit and your credit utilization is used up, the lower your credit score will go, so if you are using a card for spending each month, at least try and make sure the full balance is paid off by the statement due date, not only to avoid interest, but to keep the balance as low as you can for when that account is reported to credit.

Closing Existing Credit Card Accounts

While you should be applauded for getting out of debt, but one mistake people make when they finally do see that zero balance is to close the account so they don’t risk going on another spending spree, but this can actually lower your score because you are taking away this available credit and if there is a balance on another card, it would increase your utilization.  If you want to avoid using the card, just cut it up, but leave the account open so that available credit stays with you every month, even if you’re not using the account.

3 Quick and Easy Fixes to Raise Your Credit Score Fast

Friday, February 9, 2018

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Building a solid credit score can benefit you financially in more ways than one. Not only can a good credit score make getting approved for loans or lines of credit less difficult, it can also help you to secure loans at favorable interest rates. But what do you do when your score isn’t as high as you’d like it to be.

You could pay for credit repair services but there’s a less expensive (and potentially faster) way to make a difference in your score. These simple tips could help raise your score in 90 days or less.

  1. Start with checking your credit

There’s a lot of confusion about credit scores. For example, you may be wondering what the difference is between a FICO score vs. credit score. (A credit score is a three-digit number that gauges your financial health; a FICO score is a specific type of credit scoring model, developed by the Fair Isaac Corporation.)

Your credit scores — and yes, you have more than one — are based on what’s in your credit report. That includes things like your payment history for your various credit accounts, your debt balances and credit limits, how old your credit accounts are, what kind of credit you’re using and how often you’ve applied for credit.

You can get your free credit report and your free credit score instantly through Credit Sesame. From there, you can look at factors are doing the most good, or the most harm for your score. For example, paying late hurts your score significantly.

  1. Consider opening a new credit card account

Payment history is the most significant factor in credit score calculations, but your credit utilization is also important. This is the ratio between your total credit limit and your credit balances. Ideally, you should be using 30% or less of your total credit line for the best credit score results.

One way to raise your score practically overnight is to open a new credit card account. Having more available credit can lower your utilization ratio and potentially drive your score up. Just keep in mind that this is only effective if you’re not adding to your debt.

You can also achieve the same effect by raising the limits on your existing credit card accounts. If your accounts are in good standing and your creditors agree, you may want to consider this before opening a new card, since applying for a new account can trim a few points off your score.

  1. Make use of inactive accounts

If you’ve got older credit card accounts on your credit history, letting them go dormant can backfire. You might not be charging debt on those cards but if you leave them alone for too long, your creditor might close them down for inactivity.

If you have a card you haven’t used in a while, consider making one small purchase and then paying it off. This updates the card’s activity and gives you another month of positive payment history, which could give your score a lift.

Track your progress

Credit scores can change quickly from one month to the next. Remember to check your score and report regularly to see how you’re doing and focus on developing habits — such as paying on time and keeping credit card balances low — that can lead to a stronger score over time.

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