Tag: budget and savings

Easy ways to boost your credit score

Easy ways to boost your credit score

These measures may make the difference between having a score of 550 and 780.

To improve your credit score seem intimidating? It need not be. Taking a few small steps now can make the difference between a 550 and 780. Follow these tips to see your score improves.

1. Request a copy of your credit report

You are entitled to a free credit report each year in each office of consumer credit nationally – Experian, Equifax and TransUnion – through the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

“It is important to remember that consumers have more than one credit report. As there are three credit reporting agencies, different information on each of their credit reports can differ,” said Clifton M. O’Neal , senior director of corporate communications for TransUnion. Request a free credit report “can help consumers keep an eye on all their financial activities.”

O’Neal advised to check each report for fraudulent activity and to correct any errors. website of each credit bureau provides information on how to correct errors.

2. Take steps to improve your credit score

Credit bureaus and other companies follow the information contained in your credit file, and the tightening of a three digit number called a credit score. Having a low credit score will raise a red flag to lenders and could lead to the rejection of a loan application. Or even if the application is accepted, your interest rate could be much higher. In other words, if you want to buy a house or a car, improve your credit score is an essential first step.

“If you go to apply for credit at any point in the future – if a new credit card, mortgage, line of credit mortgage or a small business loan – your credit score depends very much on little or a lot you’ll have to pay for the credit… if you get it all, “says Russell Wild, certified financial advisor and co-author of” A Year of organized life financially. ”

You can improve your credit score by paying bills on time, keeping your debt to less than 35 percent of your available credit, paying down debt and to dispute errors on your credit report.

3. Read (and understand) the terms and conditions of your credit card contract

Nobody wants to read the fine print, but it contains all important information on payment terms, interest rates, annual fees and penalties. Your credit card agreement – also called “terms and conditions” card or contract – it has, if often takes the eye health and reading comprehension at the college level.

“Most people do not bother to read the terms and conditions, and that’s a mistake,” said David Jones, president of the Association of Independent Consumer Credit Counseling Agencies (AICCCA). “You should not be surprised if your interest rate rises because you missed a payment. That’s all there in black and white.”

Most credit card agreements are difficult to understand, but that could change: Under the 2010 reform of Wall Street and Consumer Protection Act, a new Consumer Financial Protection Board shall have power to impose changes in contracts to make them easier to understand.

4. Read your monthly statements

According to Jones, credit card statements are easier to understand than ever. Credit Card Act of 2009, whose main provisions came into force in February 2010, required a new design and disclosure requirements to make statements more user friendly. Among the requirements, fees for late payments and what the money paid in fees and interest on different types of accounts must be provided. CreditCards.com has created an interactive look at the new credit card statements, using examples from all major card issuers.

If there is something that makes no sense to call your credit card company or a credit counseling agency approved by the AICCCA or the National Foundation for Credit Counseling to ask questions.

5. Repay – or pay – the balance of your credit card

“As soon as the bills come in January and cardholders realize how long it will take them pay for their holiday spending, pay bills credit card becomes a priority,” said Jones.

One of the changes required by the Act was that the MAP card statements should show how long it will take to pay off a balance if you pay only the minimum.

When it comes to paying credit card balances, avoid making new charges focus on the repayment of the card with the interest rate as high and always pay more than the minimum payment.

“Even if you can pay $ 5 over the minimum balance is a good idea because it goes straight to the capital and help reduce your debt, even a little,” said Jones.

6. Use credit cards that match your spending habits

Choose the “right” card at the checkout can save you a bundle, according to Wild.

Consider the terms of payment, he said, “including the interest rate you will pay if you do not pay your debt at the end of the month.”

Cardholders who do not pay their balance at the end of the month should be prepared to sacrifice to get a rewards card that has a lower interest rate.

Wild also suggests being careful with cards stores, especially those promising zero interest. If you have a history of late payments, interest rates can skyrocket which is a costly mistake.

Annual fees can also accumulate. If you pay $ 50 per year on airline miles for multiple cards, but never cashed in a single air mile, these accounts may not be the best solution for your consumption habits.

7. Think twice before canceling cards

Your credit score is determined in part by the variety of accounts you have, and if you ate a lot of your available credit by carrying balances. In other words, the balances on several cards will affect your credit score. Wisely manage these balances and do not rush to close accounts.

“Any major change in your habits, credit cards, including cancellation, will raise a red flag and an impact on your credit score,” Jones said. “If you want to reduce the number of cards you carry to cancel a card and a few months later cancel another rather than cancel them both. ”

Having multiple lines of credit balances and gives you a low rate of credit at low rates of use, which is good for your credit score. Make sure you keep your balances low – overall and on each credit card you have. And use of each card from time to time if the credit card company not to cancel the account.

If you’re struggling with debt and have too much available credit can lead to the temptation to spend, you might be better to cancel credit cards. It is best to let your credit score take a hit to close the accounts of dealing with the consequences of the debt burden too much and not being able to repay.

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8 Shopping traps to avoid at the mall

8 Shopping traps to avoid at the mall

Though today’s shopping traps may look more sophisticated than in the past, their aim is the same as yesterday’s misleading advertising — not to save me money but to get me to spend more. For new and experienced shoppers, here’s a look at eight of the most common shopping traps to avoid in malls.

Delayed Coupon

A recent shopping trap involves giving customers a coupon at the end of a purchase. The coupon may become active in the next day, week or month, tempting shoppers to return and buy more than they had initially planned. This shopping trap can be avoided by searching for online coupons that can be applied that very day and then bringing them along.

Scratch Cards

Another gimmick that mall stores have been using recently is scratch cards reminiscent of lottery scratch cards. To lure shoppers into the store, the scratch cards are handed out to passersby. There are no losing cards, which grants everyone the joy of a win. And once the shopper enters the store with a $5 scratch card, he is likely to fall into the shopping trap of buying something he wasn’t planning on buying that day at all.

Save 15% on $75

Coupons that only come into effect when the consumer spends enough money are becoming more and more common in mall stores. Typically, the offers are made to club members — shoppers who signed up to receive coupons in the mail. Though reserved for repeat customers, such coupons present an obvious shopping trap, one that’s irresistible to someone who likes that store enough to become a club member. Seasonal shopping, four times a year, can help shoppers buy everything they need at one time and make use of such coupons only when they need them.

Save 15% Today

There isn’t a store in a mall that doesn’t offer 15% at the time of checkout if you’ll apply for the store credit card. I’ve even come across instances when the proverbial “would you like to save 15% by applying for our card today?” has been replaced with a tantalizing “would you like to save 15%?” This shopping trap should be avoided for the simple reason that spending cash is psychologically more difficult than swiping a plastic card.

Cash Back or Rebate

Some store cards will offer you a rebate or cash-back bonus for every dollar you spend. Such bonuses are low, typically earning you $1 for every $1,000 spent, money which you can only spend by revisiting the store. Then, once back, you’re likely to spend far more than your measly rebate.

Up to 50% Off

Mall stores often try to lure us in with tempting sale signs, such as 50% off. But when words like “up to” or “no more than” come before or after the number, the appeal changes drastically. Then, it’s easy for us to fall into the shopping trap of paying a higher price, especially since the item we’ve spent time choosing is probably on sale too, though not for the higher (poster-perfect) amount. To avoid this shopping trap, read all signs carefully.
Buy 1 Get 1 at 1/2 Price

I’ve found this shopping trap in a wide range of mall stores. The buy 1 get 1 free promotion is one we’re all so familiar with that stores use it to get our business. This can become a shopping trap when the second item is not actually offered for free but for half its price. Mall signs will typically present the “half price” in small numbers that can easily be missed or mistaken for shorthand for buy 1 get 2. Once more, the way to avoid this shopping trap is to read signs carefully or ask the store clerk for clarification.

Sale Rack Misfit

Sale racks may be great for bargain hunters, but they can also be terribly disappointing when a full-price item accidentally ends up on them. Rather than try on clothing you may be unable to afford, it is best to compare the price tags of surrounding items on a sale rack. Most likely, sale items will have a sticker on them to indicate the price reduction. The full-price misfit will then become glaringly obvious.

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The Secret of Online Holiday Spending

The Secret of Online Holiday Spending

Now that the holidays have decided to move into the express lane of time and travel towards us at the speed of light, we had better ready ourselves for the 5 S’s of Christmas: 1) selecting; 2) shopping; 3) savings; 4) spending; and 5) Santa. For the next 5 weeks we will be looking at one of these S’s. This week we will begin with Spending.

There are many different methods of spending for those “must have” gifts that your loved ones have been drooling over for so long. Many years ago there were only two methods of having the money to buy the desired present. First, the method of choice for most “over 70” crowd, is called “savings”. Second, a method that is used many times with “savings” is the “buying only what you can afford”. These two methods are somewhat of a lost art and I personally have only heard about them in books and the reading of ancient artifacts.

One of these historical writings mentions a ritual known as Christmas Club. This amazing tool was used by banks to aid members to set aside a certain amount, on a weekly or bi-monthly basis, to help them have money for Christmas. It was like a reversed credit card, with the payments being made before the purchases and instead of the patron spending 29% interest each month to make up for the credit card monthly fees, they would receive the interest (yes, the interest would come to them). This in turn would give them more money than they put into their account. As late as 1966, this was determined to be the American way of Christmas spending. That was before credit cards spending for Christmas became as customary as the artificial Christmas trees.

Today, the method of choice by most Americans is just the complete opposite as the first two methods mentioned: put every Christmas item on credit card and “never refuse a child of whatever they want”. (“New $500 game machine? – sure, let me apply for this new credit card!”) If I sound slight fuchsias, it’s because I am still paying off my Christmas shopping debt from 1972.

To get the most out of using this plastic god for holiday cheer there are certain rules and secrets that you need to learn to have a safer, cheaper, happy holiday.

Rule #1- Make sure that you shop only on secure, trusted Internet sites. Ask yourself these questions:

1) Are they a known reliable online company? Are you shopping at Amazon.com or Grannysdiscountbooksandadultsite.com?

2) Do they have a physical address?

3) Is there a method of contacting the business?

4) Is their shopping cart secure? Do not enter your credit card on a site that is not secure. A secure site online is just as secure as using your card at your local Wal-Mart or grocery store.

Secret #1- When Shopping online use your credit card and not your debit card. According to the Federal Trade Commission, Federal law says that you are only liable for $50 if your card is misused.

Rule #2- Pay you bill off each month. Any credit counselor will tell you that this is the best way to manage your money and keep yourself out of financial ruin. If you can’t afford it, don’t buy it.

Secret #2- When using a credit card make your purchases the same day you receive your credit card statement in the mail. This will give you a few extra weeks of non-interest time to save up to pay off your debt.

Rule #3- Don’t save your credit card information on the web site or for that matter on your computer. Even though the web site may be secure there were a few reports last year of hackers getting into different system of online stores. It really doesn’t take that long to re-enter the information.

Secret #3- Pay your credit card online and make your payment at least 2 business days before it is due. This may seem like a contradiction to not saving the credit card information on line but it is not. The credit card information for the lender maintains your credit card information in their secure data base. Once again, it is a similar retrieving system as if you made a purchase at a department store.

Rule #4- Protect your password. Don’t save your password on your computer and don’t use the same password over and over. Keep a written log in a safe convenient place. There have been hackers who have been able to access information from personal computers. Protect yourself.

Secret#4- Use a formula for your password: have a prescribed combination of letters and numbers you use for a common word that you are sure to remember, then a number you use for the site you are at. For example ReginAmaz might be a formula for a password password at Amazon if I used the first 5 letters of my name along with the first 4 letters of the sites name. ReginBarn might be a password for Barnes and Noble.

Secret#5- More secrets on passwords: use numbers in place of letters at times. Use 1 for an i or l, 0 for o and maybe even 9 for g. For example, with the above password for Amazon might be Re91nAmaz.

Secret#6- If the systems are down, don’t ever call your order in. Wait until the systems come back up. If the Internet site is down, it is possible that their computers are down as well. Therefore when calling an order in, depending on the call center, your credit card information may be written down on paper instead of being entered into a secure location.

Secret#7- If you’re in need of extra money and decide to sign up for a new credit card, read the fine print. One of my credit cards recently sent me a letter saying that I qualify for their platinum card. The fine print says that there is a $72 annual fee! Watch out for low interest rates, the companies have to make their money somewhere. These introductory rates may lead to an astronomical rate or exorbitant annual fees.

With these rules and secrets now firmly placed before you, your holiday spending should be safer and wiser. Next week we will look at “Saving”.

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