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4 Hacks to Raise Your Credit Score

4 Hacks to Raise Your Credit Score

4 Hacks to Raise Your Credit Score Your credit score. Chances are you either love it or hate it. It’s either the greatest thing in the world or a total hindrance. Or, maybe you don’t really know enough about your credit score for it to make an impact on your life. As a whole, Americans’ credit scores are beginning to increase but our knowledge of credit and how it works is declining. A recent survey from credit scoring company VantageScore and the Consumer Federation of America found that 32% of the people surveyed didn’t know they had more than one credit score. That percentage has risen by about 16% since 2012. Let’s forget about how many credit scores we have for a second and answer a very basic question: what is your credit score? Your credit score is a three-digit number ranging from 300 (the lowest possible score) to 850 (the highest score). Lenders use your credit score to make decisions about whether or not to offer you credit – such as a credit card, car loan or mortgage loan. Your credit score is also used to determine the terms of the offer – what your interest rate will be and whether or not you’ll have to make a down payment. Your credit score is calculated by looking at these categories: Payment history Your income-to-debt ratio Total debt Length of credit history Types of open credit Public records (such as bankruptcy) Number of inquiries for your credit report New credit So, what is considered a good credit score? The average credit score in the United States ranges between 670...
How to Prepare for the Unexpected Expense

How to Prepare for the Unexpected Expense

We can’t avoid unexpected expenses. Life happens. Question is, how prepared are you to deal with life’s unexpected curveballs? There’s no way to predict when life will happen. One minute you’re looking at a little extra money in the budget and feeling good about the small surplus. The next minute your new puppy swallows part of a chew toy, and you’re off to the vet. There goes your small surplus and budget. Life’s unexpected events can be overwhelming and figuring out how to handle the new debt plus the monthly recurring debt can be stressful. What happens if your car breaks down, you have to move, or your water heater has to be replaced? Illness and employment are equally as unpredictable. If you are laid off, how long could you pay your bills without living off credit cards or borrowing money? You’re not alone. Did you know that 40 percent of Americans can’t cover a $400 expense out of pocket? So, what happens if you find yourself in this position? Believe it or not, you have a few options – smart, safe and legal options – to help cover those unexpected expenses. Payment plans Maybe haggling over a bill doesn’t come naturally to you, but this is a great way to save a little money each month. Most doctor’s offices and hospitals will work with you on payment plans as long as you are paying something on it each month. It’ll help show that you’re good for some of the balance now and can pay some later. Avoid predatory lenders Don’t let your circumstances make you feel like payday...
A Look at Reverse Mortgages

A Look at Reverse Mortgages

Is a Reverse Mortgage Right for You? Reverse mortgages. Depending on your circumstances, choosing between a reverse mortgage or another option can be easy or difficult. Most of us have heard about reverse mortgages, but few know how they work. “If you haven’t saved as much as you thought by a certain time, or your expenses are more than you thought they’d be, a reverse mortgage could be an option. These types of loans are structured so that it’s basically like getting an equity loan or mortgage on your property,” said Loan Specialist, Clint Bramlett. “Instead of paying the loan back, you live in your house until you decide to move out, or death. After either of these events, the bank will then take the house and sell it. Hopefully for a profit.” If a homeowner opts for a reverse mortgage, they are no longer liable for the payments on the house. However, the taxes and insurance must be paid or the loan will be foreclosed. “Homeowners can elect to take the money in a lump sum or a line of credit similar to a home equity line of credit,” Bramlett explained. While you won’t have a monthly payment, the interest on the loan will increase. “Before a homeowner can begin the process of obtaining a reverse mortgage, they must go through financial counseling with a HUD-certified counselor,” Bramlett added. There are several qualifications a homeowner must meet for a reverse mortgage loan. Including: • At least 62 years of age • Live in the home as a primary residence • Sufficient equity in the home • Meet financial...
Building Blocks to Help Millennials Create a Financially Sound Future

Building Blocks to Help Millennials Create a Financially Sound Future

The Great Recession created a perfect storm for millennials. It was the worst financial crisis the United States had seen since the Great Depression, and it left millennials playing catch-up with their finances in the hopes of someday being able to retire. But even as they fight to break to even, millennials continue to accrue debt. In February, the New York Federal Reserve released a study showing that millennials have accumulated more than $1 trillion of debt including mortgages, auto loans, credit cards, and student loan debt. Additionally, Schwab’s 2019 Modern Wealth report, a May survey from Charles Schwab, revealed that 62 percent of millennials are living paycheck to paycheck while only 38 percent feel financially stable. Despite that statistic, millennials also say they spend nearly $500 a month in nonessential purchases. While the statistics above look grim, there is still hope for millennials pursuing the “American Dream.” It is important to remember that paying off cars and credit cards, buying a home and working towards retirement are not impossible feats. Like everything else in life, finances are about balance and finding an approach that works for you. Create a budget Budgets are not “one size fits all,” and no two people will have the same budget or goals. First, find a strategy that balances rewarding life experiences and saving for the future. Be realistic when crafting your saving and spending goals. For example, you can’t expect to go immediately from saving nothing each month to saving away $400 a month. Start with a number that is easily attainable and increase the amount when it’s feasible. Automate your finances...
5 Ways to Travel on a Budget This Summer

5 Ways to Travel on a Budget This Summer

Isn’t it funny how you look forward to summer all year long, yet somehow it still seems to show up earlier than you expected? Between work obligations, family responsibilities, and the valiant attempt to maintain some semblance of a social life, most of our schedules are so full that time flies whether we’re having fun or not. So, here we are—standing at the summertime starting line. Even if you don’t have a fully funded vacation fund, wouldn’t you like to get away for a little rest and relaxation? And wouldn’t it be nice to do it without blowing up your budget or going into debt? 5 Suggestions for Budget-friendly Summer Travel Score some last-minute deals. Remember when your parents and teachers would warn you about the dangers of procrastination? They may have been right about schoolwork and household chores, but it turns out waiting until the last minute can be a good thing when it comes to travel planning. To help travelers just like you, the good folks at SmarterTravel.com managed to identify 18 online resources that specialize in finding last-minute deals on hotels, flights, tours, cruises, and more! You spent years telling your mom that you do your best work under the pressure of a deadline—here’s your chance to prove it. Stay with friends or family. Catching up with friends and family is fun, right? If they just so happen to live somewhere you want to visit and you can save a little money by staying with them, wouldn’t that make your trip even better? Yeah, we thought so too. Financial benefit aside, staying with someone you know...
How Much Does It Take to Be “Rich”?

How Much Does It Take to Be “Rich”?

How Much Does It Take to Be “Rich”? The results of a recent YouGov survey show that most Americans think you need to make $100,000 per year to be considered “rich.” Assuming you weren’t one of the people interviewed for that survey, does $100,000 a year sound like wealth to you? What if someone makes less than six figures per year? Can they still be considered wealthy? How can someone with a goal of getting rich know when they’ve finally arrived? What does “rich” even mean? Here’s the challenging thing about defining what it means to be rich or wealthy—it’s all relative. In a recent article for CNBC, reporter Kathleen Elkins shared that, according to the 2018 Global Wealth Report, “If you have just $4,210 to your name, you’re better off than half of the people around the globe.” That report went on to show that anyone with a net worth of $93,170 or more ranks in the world’s wealthiest 10 percent. How about that? It turns out wealth has little to do with your income after all. Yes, earning a lot of money can help you build wealth, but there’s more to it than that. We’ve all heard stories of individuals who made massive amounts of money yet wound up broke and bankrupt. At the same time, there are many examples of ordinary people who earned average salaries and somehow managed to retire with extraordinary wealth and financial stability. When you analyze their stories, you find that those who were successful focused less on their income and more on their net worth. If you want to “get rich,”...