credit reports http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/16957/all en-US How to Protect Your Credit After the Equifax Breach http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-protect-your-credit-after-the-equifax-breach <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-to-protect-your-credit-after-the-equifax-breach" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_concerned_paperwork_603316058.jpg" alt="Woman protecting her credit after equifax breach" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Approximately 143 million records were stolen in the recent breach of Equifax, including names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, and addresses. Even before the Equifax incident, identity theft has been on the rise. With this recent theft of millions of records, the risk of credit fraud is sure to grow.</p> <p>You can take measures to protect yourself from identity theft. These options range from watching out for suspicious activity on your accounts, to paying for credit monitoring services or even freezing access to your credit reports.</p> <p>Is it worth the trouble and expense to freeze your credit report, or can less intensive steps sufficiently mitigate your risk of identity theft? Here are the options available to you.</p> <h2>Manual account monitoring</h2> <p>You can check your monthly statements from existing bank and credit accounts for unexpected transactions. If you see a transaction you did not make, you have a major red flag.</p> <h3>How much cost and effort?</h3> <p>The cost is zero, but it takes effort to stay on top of all your statements and look for unexpected activity. If you spot theft, you will need to work with your financial institution to undo the fraudulent transactions.</p> <h3>How much protection?</h3> <p>In many cases, you will not be responsible for fraudulent transactions if you report them to the financial institution and work to resolve the issue. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-reasons-credit-is-safer-than-debit?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Why Credit Is Safer Than Debit</a>)</p> <h2>Manual credit report monitoring</h2> <p>In addition to monitoring transactions on your existing accounts, you need to keep watch in case thieves open <em>new </em>credit accounts using your stolen personal information. You can request a free copy of your credit reports every 12 months from the major credit bureaus (TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian) and manually check for new accounts that were created by someone else.</p> <h3>How much cost and effort?</h3> <p>Free if you use the free credit reports, limited to one per year per credit bureau. If you want to check your reports more frequently than once per year, you can pay a small fee, typically around $10 per report.</p> <h3>How much protection?</h3> <p>Even if you are diligent in requesting and checking your credit reports, a fraudulent account could go unnoticed for some time due to the delay between when a fraudulent account is created and when you obtain an updated credit report and notice the new account.</p> <h3>How to get your free credit reports</h3> <p>Visit <a href="http://annualcreditreport.com" target="_blank">AnnualCreditReport.com</a> to request your free credit reports. You can request reports from all three credit bureaus at once, or you can order from one bureau at a time. Ordering one free report every four months can help you keep an eye on your credit throughout the year without paying any fees.</p> <h2>Credit report monitoring service</h2> <p>You can sign up for credit monitoring services that send alerts when new credit accounts are opened, or when a credit inquiry has been made on your report. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/is-credit-monitoring-ever-worth-it?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Is Credit Monitoring Ever Worth It?</a>)</p> <h3>How much cost and effort?</h3> <p>Credit monitoring services are offered by the credit reporting agencies and other companies with costs ranging from a few dollars per month up to $25 per month. Free credit monitoring is available from Credit Karma whose free service is supported by loan and credit offers.</p> <p>Credit monitoring is automatic in the sense that it provides alerts when an inquiry occurs or a new account is opened, but you will need to check the alerts to see if the activity is legitimate. And if there is fraudulent activity, you will need to take steps to counter it.</p> <h3>How much protection?</h3> <p>Credit monitoring provides alerts when new credit accounts are opened, but it does not stop thieves from opening fake accounts. The automatic monitoring simply helps you spot fraudulent new accounts quickly and take action to reverse charges and close the accounts.</p> <h2>Identity theft insurance</h2> <p>Identity theft insurance pays for some of the expenses you could incur associated with restoring your identity, including legal fees and fees from financial institutions. Coverage may also include out-of-pocket losses from credit fraud or other misuses of your personal information.</p> <h3>How much cost and effort?</h3> <p>Identity theft insurance typically costs around $25 to $60 per year and may include credit monitoring and other services.</p> <h3>How much protection?</h3> <p>If you become a victim of identity theft and are covered by identity theft insurance, the ball will still be in your court to resolve the issues. The insurance will cover certain types of expenses you may incur and limits your out-of-pocket losses.</p> <h2>Fraud alert</h2> <p>You can place a fraud alert on your credit report, which notifies credit issuers to contact you for confirmation before setting up a new credit account. An initial fraud alert stays on your credit report for 90 days, and you can extend it for another 90 days after that. An extended fraud alert for confirmed cases of identity theft lasts for seven years.</p> <p>In addition to putting a fraud alert on your credit report for new credit accounts, you can also request a security alert with <a href="https://www.chexsystems.com/web/chexsystems/consumerdebit/page/IdentityTheft/securityalert/!ut/p/z1/pZLLDoJADEW_hi0tD5G4m0REBV9BIs7GoMERg4xBhN930BWKsKC7ac5J25sBCgHQNCxiFuYxT8NEvPfUOCAZE0X30LXXqwkSa7E0Pd9VUTdgVwdW060qAMu1NdVRbB-B9vE3eqvv_PhfAA77-WLBt_-nCHb4jtF9P60jDQm2AlVErUOqDLquaB9hKTAHyhJ-_PwIkh41kwHNonOURZn8zET7kuf3x0hCCcuylBnnLInkE79J2KRc-COHoE7C_eaLCjCeXQdJ4ZIXbQAyMA!!/dz/d5/L2dBISEvZ0FBIS9nQSEh/" target="_blank">ChexSystems</a> for new checking and savings accounts.</p> <h3>How much cost and effort?</h3> <p>It is free to place a fraud alert on your credit file. Once you put a fraud alert on your file with any one of the three major credit reporting agencies, it will be shared with the other two.</p> <h3>How much protection?</h3> <p>When a fraud alert is on your credit report, credit issuers are supposed to contact you before opening a new credit account, but compliance may vary.</p> <h2>Credit report freeze</h2> <p>A credit freeze with the credit reporting agencies prevents your credit report from being shared unless you &quot;unfreeze&quot; your credit report. This prevents thieves from opening fraudulent new credit accounts using stolen personal information.</p> <h3>How much cost and effort?</h3> <p>A credit freeze comes with a higher level of hassle and cost than some other fraud prevention measures. You need to freeze your credit report with each of the three credit reporting agencies, which means requesting the freeze three times. Then every time you want to apply for a credit account, or allow access to your credit report for an employment or housing application, you will need to unfreeze your credit report, then refreeze it afterward.</p> <p>You'll pay fees every time you freeze or unfreeze your account. The fees vary by state, but generally they range from $5 to $15 for each freeze and unfreeze. Note that in light of the security breach, Equifax is offering <em>free </em>credit freezes until November 21, 2017.</p> <p>Each bureau will give you a personal identification number (PIN) that you'll need to keep track of in order to unfreeze your reports. You can also request a security freeze with ChexSystems to block new checking or savings accounts from being opened at no cost.</p> <h3>How much protection?</h3> <p>A credit freeze is effective at stopping new accounts from being opened, but you'll still need to monitor existing bank and credit accounts for fraudulent activity, since existing accounts are not affected by a credit freeze. If you know you'll be applying for credit (or a job or apartment that might require a credit check) multiple times in the near future &mdash; or if a credit freeze just sounds like too much hassle &mdash; you may be better off signing up for a credit monitoring service and perhaps placing a fraud alert on your credit report instead of doing a freeze.</p> <p>If you rarely or never apply for credit, and will not need to provide access to your credit report for employers or landlords, you may be better off freezing your credit report indefinitely. Keep in mind, though, that it is possible that the PIN needed to unfreeze your credit report could be compromised by thieves, who could unfreeze your credit report themselves. For added protection, you could place a fraud alert on your credit report before freezing it.</p> <h3>A &quot;lock&quot; may be another option</h3> <p>Starting January 31, 2018, Equifax will be offering consumers a new, permanent service that gives them the ability to &quot;lock&quot; and &quot;unlock&quot; their credit report at will. This new service is reported to work in a similar fashion to a freeze, and it is yet to be determined what exactly will differentiate the two methods. Equifax claims the service will include more &quot;modern authentication techniques&quot; for unlocking and accessing your credit report. If you elect this route, make sure to carefully read the terms and conditions before signing up.</p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <div align="center"><a data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-count="above" data-pin-tall="true" href="https://www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Fhow-to-protect-your-credit-after-the-equifax-breach&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2FHow%2520to%2520Protect%2520Your%2520Credit%2520After%2520the%2520Equifax%2520Breach.jpg&amp;description=How%20to%20Protect%20Your%20Credit%20After%20the%20Equifax%20Breach"></a></p> <script async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/How%20to%20Protect%20Your%20Credit%20After%20the%20Equifax%20Breach.jpg" alt="How to Protect Your Credit After the Equifax Breach" width="250" height="374" /></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dr-penny-pincher">Dr Penny Pincher</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-protect-your-credit-after-the-equifax-breach">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/once-bitten-twice-shy-what-is-credit-security-worth-to-you">Once Bitten Twice Shy: What is Credit Security Worth to You?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-things-your-credit-report-does-not-include">7 Things Your Credit Report Does NOT Include</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-apps-that-monitor-your-credit-for-you">7 Apps That Monitor Your Credit for You</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-read-a-credit-report">How to Read a Credit Report</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-signs-your-identity-was-stolen">9 Signs Your Identity Was Stolen</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance Financial News credit alerts credit freeze credit monitoring credit reports Equifax Experian fraud identity theft identity theft insurance insurance security breach TransUnion Mon, 02 Oct 2017 09:00:06 +0000 Dr Penny Pincher 2029142 at http://www.wisebread.com 7 Things Your Credit Report Does NOT Include http://www.wisebread.com/7-things-your-credit-report-does-not-include <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/7-things-your-credit-report-does-not-include" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-629305628_0.jpg" alt="these things don&#039;t show up in your credit reports" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Ordering your credit reports every year and studying them carefully is a smart way to get a window into your financial well-being. But while credit reports contain a wealth of information about your history with money, they don't tell you <em>everything </em>about your financial health.</p> <p>In fact, there is plenty of financial information you won't find in any of your credit reports.</p> <h2>1. Your credit score</h2> <p>Your credit score is a key financial number. It gives lenders a snapshot of how responsible you've been with your finances. If you have thousands of dollars of credit card debt and you routinely pay bills late, your credit score will be low. If you pay your bills on time and you are using a smaller percentage of your available credit, your score will be high.</p> <p>Unfortunately, your credit report does not contain your credit score. To obtain your score, you'll have to pay one of the three national credit bureaus for it. Your credit card provider might also list a credit score on your monthly statements. This score might not be your official FICO credit score &mdash; the one most lenders rely on when deciding whether to lend you money. It can still give you a general idea of where you stand, though, and is worth keeping track of. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/fico-or-fako-are-free-credit-scores-from-credit-cards-the-real-thing?ref=seealso" target="_blank">FICO or FAKO: Are Free Credit Scores From Credit Cards the Real Thing?</a>)</p> <h2>2. Your payments to utility companies</h2> <p>You pay your gas and electric bills on time every month. You might think that this key indicator of your financial responsibility would be listed on your credit report. Unfortunately, it's not. Utilities don't report payments to the credit bureaus.</p> <p>This means that your on-time payments to utility providers don't help your credit score. Late payments aren't reported, either. But be careful: If you're far enough behind on your payments that a utility sends your account to collections, that will show up on your credit report. And that black mark will give lenders reason to hesitate when deciding whether you qualify for a loan. An account in collections can also send your credit score plummeting by 100 points or more. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/account-in-collections-heres-how-to-fix-it" target="_blank">Account in Collections? Here's How to Fix It</a>)</p> <h2>3. Your rent payments</h2> <p>Paying your rent on time probably won't help your credit score, either. That's because most landlords still don't report rent payments to the credit bureaus, meaning that these payments don't show up on your credit report.</p> <p>There are services today, though, that landlords can use to report rent payments to the bureaus. Most landlords don't use these services yet, but the fact that they are available could be a sign that rent information will become more common on credit reports in the future.</p> <h2>4. Medical bills</h2> <p>The payments you make to doctors, dentists, and other medical professionals don't show up on your credit reports, either. Again, this is because doctors don't report payment information to the credit bureaus.</p> <p>Paying these bills late, though, could show up on your credit report if your medical providers send your account to a collections agency.</p> <h2>5. Your salary</h2> <p>You'd think the money you earn would be a key indicator of your financial health, and it is. But it's not an indicator of how likely you are to pay your bills on time and manage your credit. Because of this, it doesn't show up on your credit reports.</p> <h2>6. A job loss</h2> <p>Your credit reports do provide some basic employment information, with some listing your past and most recent employers. But if you've just lost your job, that information won't be included in your report. Your reports never mention whether you are still employed, and they don't list how long you've worked with any one company.</p> <h2>7. Your spouse's credit history</h2> <p>Your credit reports list financial information about you and you alone. If you're married, your spouse's history of paying bills and running up debt won't show up.</p> <p>However, if you and your spouse both have your names on a loan or credit card, that debt will show up on both of your credit reports. So will late payments you made on these accounts, even if paying the bills was your spouse's responsibility and not yours.</p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <div align="center"><a data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-count="above" data-pin-tall="true" data-pin-save="true" href="https://www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2F7-things-your-credit-report-does-not-include&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2F7%2520Things%2520Your%2520Credit%2520Report%2520Does%2520NOT%2520Include.jpg&amp;description=7%20Things%20Your%20Credit%20Report%20Does%20NOT%20Include"></a></p> <script async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/7%20Things%20Your%20Credit%20Report%20Does%20NOT%20Include.jpg" alt="7 Things Your Credit Report Does NOT Include" width="250" height="374" /></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dan-rafter">Dan Rafter</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-things-your-credit-report-does-not-include">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/heres-how-often-your-credit-score-gets-calculated">Here&#039;s How Often Your Credit Score Gets Calculated</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-protect-your-credit-after-the-equifax-breach">How to Protect Your Credit After the Equifax Breach</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/heres-why-you-shouldnt-freak-out-if-you-miss-a-payment-due-date">Here&#039;s Why You Shouldn&#039;t Freak Out If You Miss a Payment Due Date</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-apps-that-monitor-your-credit-for-you">7 Apps That Monitor Your Credit for You</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-the-new-credit-card-formula-means-for-your-wallet">What the New Credit Card Formula Means for Your Wallet</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance bills collections credit history credit reports credit score Equifax Experian income payments rent TransUnion utilities Fri, 22 Sep 2017 08:30:11 +0000 Dan Rafter 2024892 at http://www.wisebread.com Here's What's Included in a Home's Closing Costs http://www.wisebread.com/heres-whats-included-in-a-homes-closing-costs <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/heres-whats-included-in-a-homes-closing-costs" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/coins_spilling_out_of_a_glass_bottle.jpg" alt="Coins spilling out of a glass bottle" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Taking out a mortgage isn't free. You can expect to pay 2 percent to 5 percent of your home's purchase price in closing costs, the fees that everyone from lenders to title insurers charge to originate your loan. If you're buying a home for $200,000, for example, you can expect to pay between $4,000 and $10,000 in closing costs. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-ways-to-reduce-mortgage-closing-costs?ref=seealso" target="_blank">8 Ways to Reduce Mortgage Closing Costs</a>)</p> <p>At least three business days before you close on your mortgage loan, your lender will send you the closing disclosure. This form lists exactly how much you'll pay each month for your mortgage, when your payments begin, and what your interest rate is.</p> <p>The closing disclosure also lists your closing costs, giving you the chance to review them before you sign any documents at the closing table.</p> <p>Here are some of the costs you might find listed on your closing disclosure.</p> <h2>Appraisal</h2> <p>Before your lender will loan you mortgage dollars, it wants to make sure that the home you are buying is worth what you are paying for it. To determine this, it will send an appraiser to your property to determine its value. You'll have to pay for the appraiser's work. You can expect this to cost about $400.</p> <h2>Escrow</h2> <p>Most lenders will require you to open an escrow account when you take out a mortgage. Under such an arrangement, you will pay extra money with each mortgage payment, with some of that money funneled into your escrow account. Your lender will then use that money to pay your property taxes and your homeowners insurance bills on your behalf when they come due.</p> <p>Typically, your lender will require that you make two to three months of your homeowners insurance and property tax payments at closing to start off your escrow account. So, if you must pay $500 every month for taxes and insurance, you'd have to prepay $1,000 to $1,500 at closing.</p> <h2>Origination fee</h2> <p>The origination fee is one of the bigger closing costs you might pay. This fee covers the costs that your lender incurs when originating your loan. You can expect this fee to be about 1 percent of your home's purchase price. For a $200,000 home, that comes out to $2,000.</p> <h2>Lender's policy title insurance</h2> <p>This insurance policy protects your lender in case the title insurance company made a mistake in its title search and you later discover that there are liens against your home. This can happen if a past owner failed to make property tax payments. This title insurance is not optional. Costs vary depending on your state, but you can expect to pay about $1,000 for this insurance.</p> <h2>Owner's title insurance policy</h2> <p>This form of title insurance protects <em>you </em>if someone comes forward with a claim that they have an ownership stake in your home. This is usually an optional fee. You can expect to pay about $600 to $1,000 if you choose to purchase this insurance. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/yes-you-need-home-title-insurance-heres-why?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Yes, You Need Home Title Insurance &mdash; Here's Why</a>)</p> <h2>Title search</h2> <p>Before you close your loan, the title insurance company handling your closing will search the records of your new home. The goal is to make sure that no other individual or government body has an ownership claim against the property. This search usually costs from $100 to $250.</p> <h2>Underwriting fee</h2> <p>Before it approves you for a mortgage, your lender pulls your credit, verifies your income, and verifies your employment to make sure that you can afford your monthly payment. This fee covers those costs. This fee can vary widely, but expect to pay about $150.</p> <h2>Title settlement fee</h2> <p>A title insurance company will run your loan closing. The title settlement fee is what they charge for doing this. This fee can vary greatly, which is why it pays to shop around for a title insurance company. Your real estate agent might recommend a title insurance company, but you can still shop around for one on your own.</p> <h2>Credit report</h2> <p>When you apply for a loan, your lender will run your credit. Your credit reports list such important numbers as what you owe on your credit cards, whether you've made any late auto loan payments, and whether you've lost a home to foreclosure. Your lender will charge about $50 to $80 to pull your credit.</p> <h2>Flood determination fee</h2> <p>A third-party provider will determine if your home is in a flood zone. You'll have to pay this fee even if your home is located nowhere near water. It's not a costly fee, though, usually running from $10 to $20.</p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <div align="center"><a data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-count="above" data-pin-tall="true" href="https://www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Fheres-whats-included-in-a-homes-closing-costs&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2FHeres%2520Whats%2520Included%2520in%2520a%2520Homes%2520Closing%2520Costs.jpg&amp;description=Heres%20Whats%20Included%20in%20a%20Homes%20Closing%20Costs"></a></p> <script async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/Heres%20Whats%20Included%20in%20a%20Homes%20Closing%20Costs.jpg" alt="Here's What's Included in a Home's Closing Costs" width="250" height="374" /></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dan-rafter">Dan Rafter</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/heres-whats-included-in-a-homes-closing-costs">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/yes-you-need-home-title-insurance-heres-why">Yes, You Need Home Title Insurance — Here&#039;s Why</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-mortgage-details-you-should-know-before-you-sign">5 Mortgage Details You Should Know Before You Sign</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-surprising-things-lenders-check-besides-your-credit-score">4 Surprising Things Lenders Check Besides Your Credit Score</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-money-moves-to-make-for-tomorrows-mortgage">6 Money Moves to Make for Tomorrow&#039;s Mortgage</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-build-equity-in-your-home">How to Build Equity in Your Home</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Real Estate and Housing appraisal charges closing costs credit reports escrow fees homeownership insurance lenders loans mortgages title Fri, 01 Sep 2017 08:30:05 +0000 Dan Rafter 2012628 at http://www.wisebread.com What to Do After Losing Your Social Security Card http://www.wisebread.com/what-to-do-after-losing-your-social-security-card <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/what-to-do-after-losing-your-social-security-card" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/identity_theft.jpg" alt="Identity Theft" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>You lost your Social Security card. Any time personal information goes missing, it can be unnerving. How big of a problem is this, exactly?</p> <p>The card itself is not much of one. Replacing a lost Social Security card is free and relatively simple. The bigger worry is what happens if your Social Security <em>number</em> falls into the wrong hands, and criminals use it to steal your identity. Then, you have a problem.</p> <p>You can reduce the odds of trouble by acting quickly. Follow this fast plan if you've lost your Social Security card.</p> <h2>Protecting your identity</h2> <p>To understand whether someone has stolen your Social Security number, keep a close watch on your credit reports. Thieves could use your Social Security number to apply for new credit cards in your name, racking up debt without you even realizing. This could send your credit score tumbling. You might also start receiving calls from angry creditors wondering why you haven't paid your bills.</p> <p>The best way to determine if someone is illegally using your Social Security number is to order copies of your credit reports from <a href="https://www.annualcreditreport.com/index.action" target="_blank">AnnualCreditReport.com</a>. You are entitled to one free credit report from each of the three national credit bureaus &mdash; Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion &mdash; each year. Once you have your reports, study them carefully. Look for new lines of credit taken out in your name that you know you never applied for.</p> <p>If you do suspect someone is using your Social Security number illegally, visit <a href="http://www.identitytheft.gov" target="_blank">IdentityTheft.gov</a>, a website run by the Federal Trade Commission, to report the theft. You can also file an online complaint with the <a href="https://www.ic3.gov/default.aspx" target="_blank">Internet Crime Complaint Center</a>.</p> <p>It's important to also report the theft to either <a href="https://www.alerts.equifax.com/AutoFraud_Online/jsp/fraudAlert.jsp?_ga=1.38645931.963795184.1492791088" target="_blank">Equifax</a>, <a href="https://www.experian.com/fraud/center.html" target="_blank">Experian</a>, or&nbsp;<a href="https://fraud.transunion.com/fa/fraudAlert/landingPage.jsp" target="_blank">TransUnion</a>. The credit bureau will place a fraud alert on your credit report, and will also notify the other two bureaus so that they will do the same.</p> <p>Next, <a href="https://www.irs.gov/individuals/identity-protection" target="_blank">contact the IRS</a>. This will keep identity thieves from filing a tax return in your name and then collecting a refund that is owed to you.</p> <h2>A simple fix if there's no evidence of identity theft</h2> <p>If you want a new Social Security card, you may be able to apply for a replacement on the <a href="https://www.ssa.gov/ssnumber/" target="_blank">Social Security Administration's website</a>. Replacements are free. First, you'll need to create a mySocialSecurity account. You must be a U.S. citizen who is 18 or older with a U.S. mailing address. You must also have a driver's license or state-issued ID from one of the following 18 places: Arizona, California, District of Columbia, Florida, Idaho, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, Nebraska, North Dakota, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Texas, Washington, or Wisconsin.</p> <p>If you don't meet the criteria for an online application, you can submit an <a href="https://www.ssa.gov/forms/ss-5.pdf" target="_blank">application for a replacement card</a> in person or by mail to your local Social Security office. You'll need to provide your U.S. driver's license, state-issued nondriver identification card, or U.S. passport.</p> <p>You can apply for a maximum of three new Social Security cards a year, and a maximum of 10 during your lifetime.</p> <h2>What if you're a victim of identity theft?</h2> <p>If you have evidence that someone else is using your Social Security number, you can request a new Social Security number from the Social Security Administration. Just be sure you can actually prove that someone is using your number and that this use is harming you. If you can't provide evidence of this, you won't be given a new Social Security number.</p> <p>For example, your evidence could be a credit report listing several credit cards that you've never applied for. Or, evidence could be a letter from the IRS informing you that your income tax filings were rejected because someone else already filed them.</p> <p>If you suspect someone is using your number, call the Social Security Administration fraud hotline at 1-800-269-0271.</p> <p>To prevent your Social Security number from falling into the wrong hands, don't carry your card with you. There is absolutely no reason to keep your Social Security card in your wallet. Instead, keep it in a safe-deposit box, at home, or in another secure location. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-things-to-never-keep-in-your-wallet?ref=seealso" target="_blank">5 Things to Never Keep in Your Wallet</a>)</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dan-rafter">Dan Rafter</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-to-do-after-losing-your-social-security-card">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/when-is-it-okay-to-share-your-social-security-number">When Is It Okay to Share Your Social Security Number?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-protect-your-credit-after-the-equifax-breach">How to Protect Your Credit After the Equifax Breach</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-ways-expats-can-maintain-their-credit-scores">9 Ways Expats Can Maintain Their Credit Scores</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-spot-a-credit-repair-scam">How to Spot a Credit Repair Scam</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-things-your-credit-report-does-not-include">7 Things Your Credit Report Does NOT Include</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance credit reports credit unions identity theft IRS lost missing replacements social security card social security number ssa ssn Wed, 31 May 2017 09:00:11 +0000 Dan Rafter 1955703 at http://www.wisebread.com Can Too Many Credit Cards Hurt Your Credit Score? http://www.wisebread.com/can-too-many-credit-cards-hurt-your-credit-score <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-too-many-credit-cards-hurt-your-credit-score" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/business_woman_with_credit_cards.jpg" alt="Business woman with credit cards" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>You're checking out at your favorite department store when the cashier asks if you'd like to apply for the store's credit card. Doing so will save you 10 percent on your purchase. Should you fill out the application? Or will having too many credit cards in your wallet ding your three-digit FICO credit score?</p> <p>According to myFICO.com, there is no &quot;golden number&quot; of credit cards that will hurt or help your credit score. What matters most is how you use those cards &mdash; namely, paying your bills on time. Still, there are a few important things to remember when you have multiple credit cards.</p> <h2>Inquiries ding your credit score</h2> <p>Whenever you apply for a new credit card, your FICO score will fall slightly. The creditor behind the plastic will order a copy of your credit report from one of the three national credit bureaus: Experian, Equifax, or TransUnion. This inquiry will then show up on your credit reports.</p> <p>An inquiry will temporarily drop your credit score because whenever you apply for new credit, there is a risk that you will borrow more money than you can afford to pay back. How much your score will drop varies, but myFICO says that for most people, a single inquiry will result in a drop of five points or less.</p> <p>The drop in your score might be steeper, however, if you apply for several credit cards in a short period of time. There's a statistical reason for this: myFICO says that people who have six or more hard inquiries on their credit reports &mdash; inquiries made by a lender with whom you've applied for credit &mdash; are up to eight times more likely to declare bankruptcy than consumers who have no inquiries. Hard inquiries remain on your credit reports for 24 months before falling off.</p> <p>The smart move is to apply for new credit if you need it and plan to use it. Don't apply for new credit cards just to get a store discount you'll use a few times.</p> <h2>Use your cards wisely</h2> <p>What's more important than the number of cards you have is how you use them. Paying your credit card bill late will send your FICO score tumbling, usually by 100 points or more. Your creditor will report a payment as officially late to the three credit bureaus if you're more than 30 days past due. That shouldn't be an excuse to regularly miss your due date (especially because most cards will charge you a late fee if you're even one day late), but it does mean you don't need to panic if you're only a few days behind.</p> <p>Making credit card payments on time is one of the surest ways to boost your credit score. Use your credit cards sensibly throughout the month, and whenever possible, pay the balance in full by the due date. That way, you won't have to pay interest. If you can't pay off the entire balance, at least pay more than the minimum. You'll still pay interest, but it'll be much less than if you only made the minimum monthly payments.</p> <h2>Keep unused credit cards open</h2> <p>You might think that closing a credit card account you never use will help your credit score. It won't. Actually, it can cause your score to fall.</p> <p>It all comes down to your <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/this-one-ratio-is-the-key-to-a-good-credit-score" target="_blank">credit utilization ratio</a>. This measures how much available credit you are using by dividing your total credit card balances by your total credit card limits. For example, if you have $12,000 of available credit and a balance of $3,000, your credit utilization ratio is 25 percent. Credit utilization accounts for approximately 30 percent of your credit score, and many experts agree that the ratio should not exceed 30 percent. The lower, the better.</p> <p>Using more than 30 percent of your available credit will hurt your credit score. By closing a card, you're removing that line of available credit &mdash; therefore increasing your credit utilization ratio.</p> <p>Say you have $30,000 of available credit and you owe $10,000 on your cards. If you close a credit card with a $10,000 credit limit, you'll lower your total available credit to $20,000. That will bump your credit utilization ratio from 33 percent to 50 percent. That doesn't look good on your credit reports.</p> <p>Don't close a credit card just because you think you have too many cards. Even if you never use it, you might inadvertently hurt your credit score.</p> <h2>Older credit is better for your score</h2> <p>When it comes to credit cards, the longer you've had them, the better. The length of your credit history accounts for 15 percent of your FICO score. The older your credit history &mdash; paired with a history of making on-time payments &mdash; the better your credit score will be.</p> <p>If you apply for several new credit cards at once, you'll lower the overall average age of your credit accounts. That could have a slight downward pull on your credit score.</p> <p>Again, though, what matters most is not how many cards you have, but whether you pay them on time each month. Don't overanalyze the number of cards you are carrying. Instead, concentrate on never missing a payment.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dan-rafter">Dan Rafter</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/can-too-many-credit-cards-hurt-your-credit-score">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-things-your-credit-report-does-not-include">7 Things Your Credit Report Does NOT Include</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-7-debt-payoffs-that-boost-your-credit-score-the-most">The 7 Debt Payoffs That Boost Your Credit Score the Most</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/debunking-8-common-credit-score-myths">Debunking 8 Common Credit Score Myths</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/your-bad-credit-isnt-the-end-of-the-world">Your Bad Credit Isn&#039;t the End of the World</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/heres-why-you-shouldnt-freak-out-if-you-miss-a-payment-due-date">Here&#039;s Why You Shouldn&#039;t Freak Out If You Miss a Payment Due Date</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance age of credit bills credit reports credit score credit utilization ratio monthly payments payment history too many credit cards Mon, 29 May 2017 08:30:16 +0000 Dan Rafter 1954617 at http://www.wisebread.com How to Read a Credit Report http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-read-a-credit-report <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-to-read-a-credit-report" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-503389404_0.jpg" alt="Man learning how to read a credit report" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Building and maintaining your credit history takes time and dedication. While there are many things you can do when shooting for that perfect 850 FICO score, checking your free credit report every year from AnnualCreditReport.com is among the best personal finance habits. Once you have a copy of your credit report, let's review step-by-step what to look for.</p> <h2>1. Check your personal information</h2> <p>First things first: Make sure that your credit report correctly shows your name, Social Security Number (SSN), phone number, and address. The three credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) keep track of all variations of names and SSNs reported as belonging to you.</p> <p>You can easily rectify a small error, such as a misspelling, absence of a hyphen in a last name, or transposition of a street number by contacting the credit bureau and providing supporting documentation. Keep an eye out for information that you don't recognize at all &mdash; this may be a sign of identity theft. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dont-panic-do-this-if-your-identity-gets-stolen?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Don't Panic: Do This If Your Identity Gets Stolen</a>)</p> <h2>2. Verify it's really you</h2> <p>Even after checking that your full name and address are correct, you may recognize some accounts on your report that belong to somebody else in your household. In this case, you may be a victim of a mixed file &mdash; when the credit information of two individuals sharing the same name gets mixed up in a single report.</p> <p>This can be a potential issue in multigenerational homes with several family members sharing the exact name. For example, John Smith Jr. opens a store card but the credit bureaus list the account on the father's report (John Smith Sr.) instead of the son's. That would be a mixed file.</p> <h2>3. Watch out for errors in account ownership</h2> <p>Going back to the example of the father and son, the father may have decided to open the store card in his name, and then add his son as an authorized user, or vice versa. Make sure that reported accounts are only the ones for which <em>you</em> are the owner.</p> <h2>4. Look out for accounts incorrectly reported as late or delinquent</h2> <p>Unless you were more than 30 days past due, you shouldn't have a late or delinquent note on any debt. So, report this right away. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-clear-old-debt-from-your-credit-report?ref=seealso" target="_blank">How to Clear Old Debt From Your Credit Report</a>)</p> <p>If you recently made a payment and your account is now current, keep in mind that there is often a lag when credit bureaus report such incidents. Follow up with the company owning your debt and verify that it has notified the credit bureaus. Keeping your accounts current is critical, because payment history makes up 35 percent of your FICO credit score.</p> <h2>5. Validate key account dates</h2> <p>The most important date to verify is the date that an account was opened, because the length of your credit history accounts for 15 percent of your FICO credit score. Other important dates to verify are date of last payment, and date of first delinquency.</p> <h2>6. Beware accounts listed twice</h2> <p>It can happen! Possible sources of this error are when you upgrade a credit card with the same company, or refinance a loan with the same financial institution. Another possibility is that somebody opened an account on your behalf without your consent.</p> <p>You also need to watch out for companies transferring the ownership of a delinquent account over to collections agencies. While you're still responsible for paying back what you owe, you're definitely not liable to receive a double (or triple!) whammy on your credit score for the same mistake.</p> <h2>7. Double check credit limits and balances</h2> <p>Double check that your account balances are within a range you recognize, and that your credit card limits are up to date. After all, 30 percent of your FICO score is based on your <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/this-one-ratio-is-the-key-to-a-good-credit-score" target="_blank">credit utilization ratio</a> &mdash; your total credit card balances divided by your total credit card limits. For example, an outstanding balance of $4,000 with total credit limit of $15,000 would put your credit utilization ratio at 26 percent. The more available credit you have, the lower your credit utilization ratio will be. Most experts recommend this ratio should not exceed 30 percent.</p> <h2>8. Keep an eye on public records</h2> <p>A bankruptcy isn't the only reason you might end up with a public record on your account. Unpaid driving violations, library fines, or other penalties from money owed to the government will come to haunt you on your credit report. Depending on many factors, public records can stay on your report for up to seven years, even after taking care of them. This means that the best time to take care of them is now. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-credit-report-mistakes-that-could-be-costing-you-big?Ref=seealso" target="_blank">4 Credit Report Mistakes That Could Be Costing You Big</a>)</p> <h2>9. Corroborate that corrected information has been posted</h2> <p>Chances are at some point, you'll eventually have to report an error. When this happens, always follow up to check that the incorrect information has been replaced and corrected.</p> <h2>What to do if you find an error</h2> <p>If you find any errors in your credit report, refer to the instructions on your credit report to dispute inaccurate or missing data. Here is a <a href="http://files.consumerfinance.gov/f/documents/092016_cfpb__CreditReportingSampleLetter.pdf" target="_blank">useful template</a> from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to initiate disputes with the credit bureaus by mail or fax. Or, you can file a dispute online with <a href="https://www.equifax.com/personal/disputes" target="_blank">Equifax</a>, <a href="http://www.experian.com/disputes/main.html" target="_blank">Experian</a>, or <a href="https://www.transunion.com/credit-disputes/dispute-your-credit" target="_blank">TransUnion</a>.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/damian-davila">Damian Davila</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-read-a-credit-report">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-things-your-credit-report-does-not-include">7 Things Your Credit Report Does NOT Include</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-protect-your-credit-after-the-equifax-breach">How to Protect Your Credit After the Equifax Breach</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-apps-that-monitor-your-credit-for-you">7 Apps That Monitor Your Credit for You</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/heres-how-often-your-credit-score-gets-calculated">Here&#039;s How Often Your Credit Score Gets Calculated</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/once-bitten-twice-shy-what-is-credit-security-worth-to-you">Once Bitten Twice Shy: What is Credit Security Worth to You?</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance credit bureaus credit reports credit utilization ratio disputes Equifax errors Experian fico filing claims how to read Mistakes TransUnion Thu, 11 May 2017 08:00:09 +0000 Damian Davila 1942663 at http://www.wisebread.com 5 Steps to Getting Excellent Credit http://www.wisebread.com/5-steps-to-getting-excellent-credit <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5-steps-to-getting-excellent-credit" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_happy_tablet_618935990.jpg" alt="Woman taking steps to get excellent credit" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Having an excellent credit score is not as elusive as it seems. You simply must trade in your bad financial habits, no matter how innocent they seem, for these five healthy habits. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-best-credit-cards-for-people-with-excellent-credit?ref=seealso">5 Best Credit Cards for People With Excellent Credit</a>)</p> <h2>1. Always pay your bills on time</h2> <p>One late payment can send your credit score spiraling. Even if you <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-simple-ways-to-never-make-a-late-credit-card-payment?ref=internal">forget to pay a credit card</a> with a minuscule balance leftover, it will still negatively impact your credit score. About two years before my husband and I bought our first home, I forgot I had a Victoria's Secret credit card. The balance owed on the card was very little &mdash; less than $20. But since I forgot I owed money on it, I didn't pay the card for three months.</p> <p>Fast forward two years, and the ding from the unpaid Victoria's Secret card was keeping my credit score a few points away from being excellent. We ended up putting the home loan under just my husband's name to ensure we got the best rate. All that hassle for a forgotten credit card bill two years prior. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/prioritize-these-5-bills-when-youre-short-on-cash?ref=seealso">Prioritize These Bills When You Are Short on Cash</a>)</p> <h2>2. Don't use all of your available credit</h2> <p>Those with excellent credit scores use less than 30 percent of their available credit. One factor considered when calculating your score is your <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/this-one-ratio-is-the-key-to-a-good-credit-score?ref=internal">credit utilization ratio</a>. Your credit utilization ratio compares your balance to your total credit limit. If this ratio is too high, your credit score begins to suffer. For example, $2,000 of debt on a card that has a $10,000 limit looks much better to creditors that $250 of debt on a card with a limit of $500. Even though the first example owes more money, the utilization is only 20 percent, whereas the latter example is at 50 percent.</p> <p>You can lower your credit utilization ratio in two easy ways. First, calculate how much credit card debt you need to pay off in order to get your utilization ratio under 30 percent, and start making payments to get there. Second, call your credit card company and ask for a limit increase, which will in turn lower your credit utilization ratio. Most creditors would be happy to raise your spending limit, especially if you are in good standing with them. Just be sure not to increase your spending, too. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-questions-to-ask-before-getting-a-credit-increase?ref=seealso">4 Questions to Ask Before Getting a Credit Limit Increase</a>)</p> <h2>3. Hang on to old credit card accounts</h2> <p>Another factor considered in calculating your credit score is the age of your overall credit history. Being a card holder with one company for over a decade will look better on your account than having several new cards opened or closed within the span of several years.</p> <p>Building up a longer credit history takes time. Figure out which card or account is your oldest, and use the card periodically. For example, say you have an old card that doesn't offer you many benefits, so you rarely use it. Don't just close this old account. Instead, call them and ask if you can get an upgrade to a card that earns better rewards. This way, you can use the card periodically, earn better rewards, and still benefit from a longer account history. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-ditch-a-credit-card-without-dinging-your-credit-score?ref=seealso">How to Close a Credit Card Without Dinging Your Credit Score</a>)</p> <h2>4. Monitor your score</h2> <p>If you are not already monitoring your score, then start today. You need to know where your credit score stands at least quarterly. This will help you catch any mistakes or fraud quickly. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-credit-cards-that-offer-free-credit-scores?ref=seealso">Best Credit Cards That Offer Free Credit Scores</a>)</p> <p>Back in college, my husband never thought to check his credit score. Every time he would apply for a credit card, he would instantly be rejected. When he finally checked his credit history, he discovered the bureau mixed up his name with his father's. His history showed that he already had a bankruptcy and foreclosure at the ripe old age of 19.</p> <p>Along with knowing your score, you also want to prevent people from running your credit unnecessarily. Car dealerships are notorious for this. Instead, get preapproved for a loan from your local credit union and refuse the dealership's request to run your credit.</p> <h2>5. Live within your means</h2> <p>The only way to live a financially responsible life, which is reflected in your credit score, is to live within your means. Pay off <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-ways-to-pay-off-high-interest-credit-card-debt?ref=internal">outstanding credit card debts</a> and other high interest loans, and then commit to only charging what you can pay for in full. Build up a reliable emergency fund, contribute to a retirement plan, and invest. There are no tricks to getting excellent credit. It all comes down to being consistent with good financial habits. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-habits-of-the-financially-successful?ref=seealso">7 Habits of the Financially Successful</a>)</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ashley-eneriz">Ashley Eneriz</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-steps-to-getting-excellent-credit">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/your-bad-credit-isnt-the-end-of-the-world">Your Bad Credit Isn&#039;t the End of the World</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-things-your-credit-report-does-not-include">7 Things Your Credit Report Does NOT Include</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-signs-youre-making-all-the-right-money-moves">6 Signs You&#039;re Making All the Right Money Moves</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/debunking-8-common-credit-score-myths">Debunking 8 Common Credit Score Myths</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/avoid-these-5-common-mistakes-while-rebuilding-your-credit">Avoid These 5 Common Mistakes While Rebuilding Your Credit</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance bill payments credit history credit reports credit score debt good habits high interest Thu, 06 Apr 2017 08:30:16 +0000 Ashley Eneriz 1922592 at http://www.wisebread.com Careful! Your Credit Card May Be Sharing Your Private Info http://www.wisebread.com/careful-your-cc-may-be-sharing-this-private-info <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/careful-your-cc-may-be-sharing-this-private-info" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-508426961.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="143" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>In 2015, a study conducted by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology found that scientists were able to use the information from credit card purchases to correctly identify the names of the consumers making the charges. Their accuracy was a staggering 90% &mdash; and they only looked at four transactions.</p> <p>These scientists could do this even after credit card companies anonymized the transactions, erasing the names and other personal details of the cardholders doing the buying.</p> <p>You might be surprised at just how much your credit card provider knows about you, and has known for a while. Take for example the 2008 case of Kevin Johnson, who received a letter <a href="http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/TheLaw/gma-answers-credit-card-companies-financially-profiling-customers/story?id=6747461" target="_blank">slashing his credit limit</a> by $7,000 because his credit card provider didn't approve of the stores he frequented. These stores, they claimed, were common shopping hot spots for people with poor repayment histories. This kind of profiling ignored Johnson's solid 760 credit score in favor of the data it was secretly gathering. And although Johnson's card provider later abandoned the policy, the question of ethics had been raised.</p> <p>Though the concept of credit card data sharing can be a little unnerving, it's not all harmful, either. Over time, your credit card provider can piece together a detailed history of your spending habits to help you find relevant sales, coupons, or services. If you charged the purchase of a new couch, for example, you might suddenly see advertisements from stores selling home furnishings. You might even receive a mailing from a mortgage lender wondering if you want to refinance your mortgage loan.</p> <p>So, exactly what information is your credit card collecting and how does it affect you?</p> <h3>1. The Type of Food You Like</h3> <p>Do you eat at the same four restaurants each month? If you charge these meals, your credit card provider will take notice. You might start receiving coupons for discounts at these restaurants.</p> <h3>2. Where You Like to Grocery Shop</h3> <p>If you do the majority of your shopping at one grocery store, don't be surprised if you start receiving mailings informing you of weekly specials. You might even be asked to join that store's preferred shopping program, which could save you even more money. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-store-loyalty-programs-that-are-worth-it?ref=seealso" target="_blank">9 Store Loyalty Programs That Are Worth It</a>)</p> <h3>3. What You Like to Buy Online</h3> <p>Many of us are turning to online shopping as a way to beat the stress of visiting brick-and-mortar stores. Just know that your credit card provider will be happy to share your online shopping habits if you pay with plastic. If you buy flowers for every Valentine's Day, birthday, or anniversary, local and national florists might start targeting you with advertisements boasting of their own specials.</p> <h3>4. Details About Your Financial Health</h3> <p>Your credit card provider can glean much about your financial health through your transactions. If you are constantly shopping at thrift or secondhand stores, this could be a sign that you are struggling financially. If you decide to request a credit line increase, or an APR decrease, you might not be approved. Or even if you decide to apply for a new credit card with the same bank, they might use this information in their decision. Of course, you might also start getting advertisements from companies who target such consumers &mdash; everyone from mortgage lenders eager to refinance your home loan to a lower interest rate, to insurance providers eager to get you into what they consider a lower-cost auto insurance policy.</p> <h3>5. The Medications You Need</h3> <p>Ever charge your visits to the doctor or dentist? Maybe you also charge your prescriptions? Don't be surprised if this information is shared, bringing advertisements from a host of medical providers. If you prefer that your medical histories and treatments remain private, you might want to pay with cash instead.</p> <h2>So &mdash; What Are the Privacy Rules?</h2> <p>Thanks to the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Financial Modernization Act of 1999, you'll receive a privacy letter from your credit card provider when you first open your account and, in most cases, once every year thereafter.</p> <p>The letter will state how your credit card provider intends to use your personal financial information. It might state that your provider uses information from your transactions for its own internal purposes.</p> <p>Your credit provider usually will state that it might share your financial information as a way to market its own products and services to you, and that it will share your information with affiliated businesses. Maybe the parent company behind your credit card also runs a mortgage business. It might share your information with this affiliated business unit, meaning that you might be targeted for refinance and mortgage advertisements.</p> <p>The letter might also mention that your provider will share information about you with nonaffiliated companies. These are outside companies that aren't a part of your credit card provider's family of business units.</p> <h2>How Can You Limit What's Shared?</h2> <p>You do have some control over how your credit card company shares your information. Read the privacy statement you receive each year. It will tell you how to opt out of <em>some </em>of this info-sharing. You might have to call your provider, write a letter, send an email, or fill out an online form.</p> <p>You can't opt out of all sharing, though. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau says that you can stop your credit card provider from sharing information with nonaffiliated companies. You can also stop your provider from sharing information that appears on your three credit reports &mdash; one each maintained by Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion &mdash; with affiliated companies. The bureau, though, says that you can't stop your provider from sharing information with affiliated companies when that information is based solely on the transactions you have made with your credit card.</p> <p>If you are uncomfortable with the information that credit cards gather about your spending, make sure to read the privacy notices carefully and follow the instructions to opt out, and then try to make your purchases in cash.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dan-rafter">Dan Rafter</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/careful-your-cc-may-be-sharing-this-private-info">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-3"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/stop-dont-cut-up-your-credit-cards">Stop! Don&#039;t Cut Up Your Credit Cards</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/when-does-your-credit-card-start-charging-interest-on-a-purchase">When Does Your Credit Card Start Charging Interest on a Purchase?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/this-is-how-americans-spent-their-money-in-the-1950s">This Is How Americans Spent Their Money in the 1950s</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-best-credit-cards-for-travel-purchases">Best Credit Cards for Travel Purchases</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/is-credit-monitoring-ever-worth-it">Is Credit Monitoring Ever Worth It?</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Credit Cards credit reports data privacy sharing information shopping spending habits spending history Wed, 25 Jan 2017 16:32:04 +0000 Dan Rafter 1879590 at http://www.wisebread.com How to Clear Old Debt From Your Credit Report http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-clear-old-debt-from-your-credit-report <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-to-clear-old-debt-from-your-credit-report" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_happy_bills_100668055.jpg" alt="Woman clearing old debt from her credit report" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Trying to get your credit score back on track? There are lots of things you'll need to do &mdash; like start using credit wisely instead of as a crutch. But before you can rebuild from the bottom up, it's important to clear the old debt you've accumulated from your record. Here's how.</p> <h2>1. Compare All Three of Your Free Credit Reports</h2> <p>Credit reports are not always created equal, which is why the process of clearing old debt from your credit card should start with comparing your credit reports from the three major bureaus &mdash; Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax. Download them for free annually at AnnualCreditReport.com</p> <p>What you're looking for when you receive the reports are inconsistencies. Debts may be listed by one bureau, but not the others. If this is the case, you may need to contact the bureau to check into the problem and dispute any irregularities, information for which will be included on the report.</p> <h2>2. Make Sure Your Delinquency Dates Are Correct</h2> <p>A delinquency on your credit report means that you've defaulted on the payment of your bill &mdash; this could be a credit card, car note, or a number of other loans that you've been provided. The real problem is that this lack of funds (and judgment) will stay on your credit report for about seven years. If that amount of time has passed since your delinquency date, however, and it's still on your report, you should contact the bureau that's misreporting it and rectify the situation.</p> <h2>3. Dispute Discrepancies With the Credit Bureaus</h2> <p>To dispute any delinquency discrepancies, it's best to write letters to the credit bureaus to request an investigation of a collection on your report. Send them by certified mail so you have a paper trail of evidence that you're being proactive about the situation. Credit Infocenter also has <a href="http://www.creditinfocenter.com/repair/">some important tips</a> that may be helpful in this regard.</p> <h2>4. Find Out Who Owns the Debt If It Was Sold to Collections</h2> <p>If collection agencies are calling your phone nonstop, that means your debt has been sold by the original agency to the proverbial muscle men of the financial world; their sole job is to get the money you owe. If you've been avoiding these phone calls all along &mdash; a very common practice among those who have the misfortune of having collection agencies on their backs &mdash; you may not know who to contact once you're ready to talk to collections to finally settle the debt.</p> <p>Personal finance blogger Jeff Campbell offers some tips on how to proceed.</p> <p>&quot;If the old debt has been sold to collections, it would be important to verify who currently owns the debt,&quot; he says. &quot;Then it would be important to find out how much has been added to the original debt in terms of fees or penalties &mdash; these are all highly negotiable. The larger problem of ignoring old bad debts is that while in theory they drop off your credit report after seven years, when the bad debt gets sold (very common), that can sometimes start the seven-year cycle over again, so it's always better to deal with the issue and take care of it.&quot;</p> <h2>5. Validate the Debt</h2> <p>Before you pay anything to collection agencies, you need to validate the debt first to make sure it's accurate. By leveraging the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, the collection agency will be forced to provide documentation that everything is on the up and up. Credit Infocenter suggests <a href="http://www.creditinfocenter.com/rebuild/debt-validation.shtml">writing a letter</a> to the collection agency (sent by certified mail) in hopes of settling the matter amicably, but if they're unresponsive you may have to threaten a lawsuit.</p> <h2>6. Settle Debts Higher Than $1,000</h2> <p>For any remaining debt under $1,000, you'll likely be required to pay it in full. If the debt is higher than a grand, however, there may be some wiggle room. Collection agencies don't want to keep your debt forever, and in many cases they're willing to negotiate a reduced amount that requires a lump-sum payment. For instance, I once had a $1,100 delinquent credit card that I was able to get down to $800. As part of this deal, you need to have the collection agency agree to remove the listing from your credit report.</p> <p>When it comes time for the actual payment, be smart and trust no one.</p> <p>&quot;Don't pay anything electronically as it's highly possible they will charge more than agreed to,&quot; Campbell warns. &quot;Pay by cashier's check or money order only once they agree in writing to settle the account as paid in full for the agreed upon amount and agree to remove any entries pertaining to this debt with all credit bureaus within 30 days of receiving payment.&quot;</p> <h2>7. Appeal to a Higher Authority</h2> <p>If your collector is a bank and you've reached out about removing old debt to no avail, you still have recourse. According to Bankrate, these institutions have federal regulators who field your complaints to keep everybody on the up and up. Again, rather than spending countless hours on the phone getting the runaround, send in a certified complaint with your evidence, which should include copies of your correspondence and return receipts along with the agency's complaint form that you can print online. At this point, the regulators' job is to contact the company on your behalf and get to the bottom of the ordeal. And start in your own state opposed to the creditor's state.</p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <div align="center"><a data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-count="above" data-pin-tall="true" data-pin-save="true" href="https://www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Fhow-to-clear-old-debt-from-your-credit-report&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2FHow%2520to%2520Clear%2520Old%2520Debt%2520From%2520Your%2520Credit%2520Report.jpg&amp;description=How%20to%20Clear%20Old%20Debt%20From%20Your%20Credit%20Report"></a></p> <script async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/How%20to%20Clear%20Old%20Debt%20From%20Your%20Credit%20Report.jpg" alt="How to Clear Old Debt From Your Credit Report" width="250" height="374" /></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/mikey-rox">Mikey Rox</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-clear-old-debt-from-your-credit-report">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-things-your-credit-report-does-not-include">7 Things Your Credit Report Does NOT Include</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-steps-to-getting-excellent-credit">5 Steps to Getting Excellent Credit</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/your-bad-credit-isnt-the-end-of-the-world">Your Bad Credit Isn&#039;t the End of the World</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-protect-your-credit-after-the-equifax-breach">How to Protect Your Credit After the Equifax Breach</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/heres-why-you-shouldnt-freak-out-if-you-miss-a-payment-due-date">Here&#039;s Why You Shouldn&#039;t Freak Out If You Miss a Payment Due Date</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance credit history credit reports delinquencies discrepancies old debts organizing settling debts Mon, 24 Oct 2016 09:00:07 +0000 Mikey Rox 1817657 at http://www.wisebread.com 13 Money Goals You Can Still Reach by 2017 http://www.wisebread.com/13-money-goals-you-can-still-reach-by-2017 <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/13-money-goals-you-can-still-reach-by-2017" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/money_2016_78370695.jpg" alt="Finding money goals you can still reach by 2017" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>We've passed the halfway point of 2016, and maybe you're down on yourself because you haven't achieved some of your annual financial goals. Life can sometimes derail our money-saving plans &mdash; and that can make you feel like a failure. But the year isn't over yet. So chin up, buttercup! It's never too late to give your money a makeover, like with these 13 money goals that are still attainable by 2017.</p> <h2>1. Increase Your Emergency Fund</h2> <p>Whether you want to increase your fund by $500 or $1,000, there's still time to build your bank account.</p> <p>Ideally, you should have about three to six months' of income in reserves. If you're not in a position to save this much, aim for an emergency fund sufficient to help you get through most unexpected expenses, like a home or car repair. You'll have to make a few sacrifices, such as spending less on entertainment or shopping less, but with five months left in the year, you can hit this goal by saving $100 to $200 a month.</p> <h2>2. Start Planning for Retirement</h2> <p>Your retirement account isn't going to grow itself. The older we get, the more important it is to plan for the future. If you haven't started saving for retirement yet, now's the time to get serious. Talk to your employer about enrolling in the company's 401K plan. If this isn't an option, open an Individual Retirement Account (IRA) through your bank or with the help of a financial adviser.</p> <h2>3. Increase Retirement Contributions</h2> <p>Then again, maybe you're already saving for retirement, but feel now's the time to increase your contribution. Whether you're currently contributing 2% or 5% of your income to a retirement account, set a goal of increasing your contribution by at least 1% before the end of the year.</p> <h2>4. Reduce Expenses</h2> <p>It's easier to attain money goals when you reduce expenses and free up cash. For the next four to five months, eliminate or reduce at least one expense a month. This can include downgrading your cable package or getting rid of cable altogether (it's a common trend these days), using coupons to lower your grocery bill, or riding your bike or carpooling to work a few days a week to save on transportation costs. The savings add up quickly, and before you know it you'll have a bigger bank account.</p> <h2>5. Create a Second Income Stream</h2> <p>Our income isn't always enough to meet our money goals. Rather than complain about your situation, think creatively about ways to increase your income. Working a side hustle a few days a week can generate money to build your savings account, pay off debt, or start saving for retirement.</p> <p>If you're an expert in your field, offer consulting on the side. Or if you have excellent writing skills, look into <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/22-websites-that-will-pay-you-to-write-for-them?ref=internal">freelance writing opportunities</a> and share your knowledge. Don't think your second income stream has to be glamorous, either. If you don't mind odd jobs or getting your hands dirty, you can make extra money around the neighborhood cleaning houses, doing handyman work, or cutting grass.</p> <h2>6. Give Up a Costly Habit</h2> <p>Bad habits are expensive.</p> <p>Before the end of the year, make a concerted effort to eliminate at least one bad habit. This includes things like drinking too much alcohol and smoking, as well as habits that aren't as dangerous to your health but detrimental to your finances. Do you have a routine of stopping for coffee and breakfast every morning on the way to work? If you can eliminate this $5 daily purchase from your budget, you'll save about $25 a week, or $100 a month.</p> <h2>7. Simplify Your Life</h2> <p>Less can be more. If you're tired of clutter or feel the stuff you own takes too much of your time and energy, set a goal to simplify and unload a few possessions. Selling off items can put extra cash in your pocket, plus you can save money on storage fees and free up space in your house, garage, attic, or basement.</p> <h2>8. Give to Charity</h2> <p>It's not too late to make a charitable donation and give back. While you're simplifying and decluttering your life, consider donating a few items to your favorite organization. You'll not only help someone in need, you can write off charitable donations on your tax return and lower your tax bill.</p> <h2>9. Purchase Life Insurance</h2> <p>Life insurance is necessary for everyone, but especially for people with children and other dependents who rely on their income. A policy can cover the cost of a funeral and burial, plus pay off any expenses you leave behind, such as a mortgage and credit cards.</p> <p>There are no hard-and-fast rules regarding the amount of coverage to purchase, but some money experts recommend a policy that's eight to 10 times your income. If you already have a policy, review your coverage to make sure it's adequate for your needs. If you don't have a policy, it's time to get one.</p> <h2>10. Budget Your Money</h2> <p>If you overspend every month and can't get ahead, the problem could be poor budgeting. The truth is, attaining many of your money goals by 2017 will require an airtight budget. You have to know what's coming in and what's going out before you can come up with a plan for your personal finances. Now's the time to put pen to paper and review your income and expenses to determine a reasonable amount to spend in various spending categories, such as food, transportation, entertainment, shopping, etc.</p> <h2>11. Say No to Credit Card Debt</h2> <p>Credit cards are simple and convenient, but they're also a source of pain and suffering if you let balances grow out of control. Before the end of the year, come up with a plan to pay off or pay down at least one credit card. Don't stop until you're debt free. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/when-to-do-a-balance-transfer-to-pay-off-credit-card-debt?utm_source=wisebread&amp;utm_medium=seealso&amp;utm_campaign=seealso">How to Get Rid of Interest on Your Credit Card Debt</a>)</p> <p>You can achieve this goal by paying more than your minimums every month. Or negotiate a <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-best-low-interest-rate-credit-cards?utm_source=wisebread&amp;utm_medium=internal&amp;utm_campaign=article">lower interest rate</a> with your creditors so that more of monthly payments go toward reducing the principal. Since the amounts we owe make up 30% of our credit scores, paying off credit cards also <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-use-credit-cards-to-improve-your-credit-score?utm_source=wisebread&amp;utm_medium=internal&amp;utm_campaign=article">increases your credit score</a>.</p> <h2>12. Automate Your Finances</h2> <p>Paying bills on time also contributes to a higher credit score. Forgetting a due date and paying late can result in late fees, and when bills arrive 30 or more days past due, your credit score suffers. To avoid these situations, automate your finances. Set up automatic bill payments between your bank and creditors and you'll never miss another due date.</p> <h2>13. Check Your Credit Report</h2> <p>Everyone should check their credit reports at least once a year and dispute erroneous information. If it's been more than 12 months since you last reviewed your reports, visit&nbsp;<a href="http://annualcreditreport.com">AnnualCreditReport.com</a> today and get a free copy of your reports from each of the three bureaus. Credit report mistakes and fraudulent activity can drive down your FICO score and trigger credit rejections and higher interest rates on loans and credit cards &mdash; and when you're charged higher interest rates, you pay more for credit.</p> <p><em>What are some of your money goals that you'd like to reach by the end of the year? How do you plan to meet those goals? Let's discuss in the comments below.</em></p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <div align="center"><a data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-count="above" data-pin-tall="true" data-pin-save="true" href="https://www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2F13-money-goals-you-can-still-reach-by-2017&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2F13%2520Money%2520Goals%2520You%2520Can%2520Still%2520Reach%2520by%25202017.jpg&amp;description=13%20Money%20Goals%20You%20Can%20Still%20Reach%20by%202017"></a></p> <script async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/13%20Money%20Goals%20You%20Can%20Still%20Reach%20by%202017.jpg" alt="13 Money Goals You Can Still Reach by 2017" width="250" height="374" /></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/mikey-rox">Mikey Rox</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/13-money-goals-you-can-still-reach-by-2017">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/your-good-credit-doesnt-mean-you-have-good-money-habits">Your Good Credit Doesn&#039;t Mean You Have Good Money Habits</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-complacency-is-keeps-you-from-financial-security">How Complacency Keeps You From Financial Security</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dont-start-a-family-before-reaching-these-5-money-goals">Don&#039;t Start a Family Before Reaching These 5 Money Goals</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-to-expect-after-these-5-personal-financial-disasters">What to Expect After These 5 Personal Financial Disasters</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/its-never-too-late-to-fix-these-5-money-mistakes-from-your-past">It&#039;s Never Too Late to Fix These 5 Money Mistakes From Your Past</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance 2016 2017 bad habits clutter credit reports donating emergency funds goals investments nest egg retirement savings simplifying Fri, 12 Aug 2016 09:00:08 +0000 Mikey Rox 1770701 at http://www.wisebread.com 7 Best Money Management Tips From John Oliver http://www.wisebread.com/7-best-money-management-tips-from-john-oliver <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/7-best-money-management-tips-from-john-oliver" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/john_oliver_12450865504_98a7a40631_z.jpg" alt="Learning money lessons from John Oliver" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>I don't often admit to it, but I have a little crush on comedian and <em>Last Week Tonight</em> host, John Oliver. I mean, what's not to like? There's his adorable British accent, his hilarious takes on the modern world, his dimples, his sound money advice&hellip;</p> <p>No, really. John Oliver is actually a pretty solid source for financial tips. Over the past few years, he has cemented his place in my heart by using his comedic platform to educate his audience on everything from credit scores to debt management and retirement savings</p> <p>If you haven't had a chance to watch all of John Oliver's money-related episodes, here are my favorite financial funnyman's seven best money management tips:</p> <h2>1. Before Taking a Payday Loan, Be Absolutely Sure There Are NO Other Options</h2> <p><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/PDylgzybWAw" width="560" height="315" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></p> <p>As seen on:&nbsp;<a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?annotation_id=annotation_959988635&amp;feature=iv&amp;src_vid=aRrDsbUdY_k&amp;v=PDylgzybWAw" target="_blank">Last Week Tonight: Predatory Lending</a></p> <p>Wise Bread readers are likely very well aware of the predatory nature of payday loans. Taking a short-term loan can kick off a terrible cycle of debt with annual interest rates as high as 700%. But, as John Oliver points out in his rant, a Pew survey found that &quot;a majority of borrowers say payday loans take advantage of them, [but] a majority also say they provide relief.&quot;</p> <p>The point is that there will be times when people need money in a hurry and feel that their choices are limited. However, most borrowers have more choices than they think they do. Prospective payday loan customers could always borrow from a family member or friend, pawn or sell an item, or even sell blood or plasma. In other words, it's a better idea to do almost <em>anything </em>else to generate some quick cash than visit a payday loan store. (Although some of the ideas suggested by Sarah Silverman, the official spokesperson for <em>doing anything else</em>, are clearly meant to be tongue-in-cheek.)</p> <p>Many payday loan borrowers end up turning to these anything else options in order to get out of the cycle of payday loan debt, so it would be better to just start there.</p> <h2>2. Start Saving for Retirement Now &mdash; And Build a Time Machine and Start Saving 10 Years Ago If Possible</h2> <p><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/gvZSpET11ZY" width="560" height="315" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></p> <p>As seen on:&nbsp;<a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=1249&amp;v=gvZSpET11ZY" target="_blank">Last Week Tonight: Retirement Plans</a></p> <p>We all need to be saving more money for retirement, and the earlier you start, the more time compound interest has to work its magic. According to a 2014 study from the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, a 25-year-old would only need to set aside <a href="http://crr.bc.edu/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/IB_14-111.pdf">15% of her income</a> each year to adequately replace her income as of retirement at age 62 &mdash; but if she started at age 35 she would need to save 24%, and 44% if she waited until age 45.</p> <p>While I have no issue with encouraging people to save more (really &mdash; save more!), I do have a quibble with the slight whiff of shame clinging to the build-a-time-machine portion of this advice. We can't change our past financial behavior, but we can feel bad about it and let it affect our present behavior &mdash; which too many people tend to do. There's no point in offering coulda-shoulda-woulda advice when time machine technology is still a couple of thousand decades away from reality.</p> <p>However, the basis of this advice is more than sound. Don't waste your money on Elf School in Reykjavik. Put it in your retirement account where it can do you some real good.</p> <h2>3. Check Your Credit Report Every Year</h2> <p><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/aRrDsbUdY_k" width="560" height="315" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></p> <p>As seen on:&nbsp;<a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aRrDsbUdY_k" target="_blank">Last Week Tonight: Credit Reports</a></p> <p>Your credit history can affect everything from whether you qualify to make large purchases, to your ability to land a job or rent an apartment. Unfortunately, credit reports are not always accurate, even if you have been a boy scout when it comes to your responsible credit usage.</p> <p>As John Oliver reports, the credit reporting bureaus make major mistakes in one out of every 20 credit histories. That may be a 95% accuracy rate, but it does leave 10 million consumers to deal with critical mistakes on their credit reports.</p> <p>The only thing we can do to fight mistakes (and identity theft, which <em>Last Week Tonight</em> did not even get into) is to regularly check our credit reports. We are legally allowed free access to a credit report from each of the major reporting agencies &mdash; TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax &mdash; once per year. You can access that information at annualcreditreport.com.</p> <p>If you're particularly organized, you can keep an eye on your credit on a rolling basis by checking one of the three agencies every four months.</p> <h2>4. Invest in Low Cost Index Funds</h2> <p>As seen on: <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gvZSpET11ZY" target="_blank">Last Week Tonight: Retirement Plans</a></p> <p>Seeing this particular piece of advice had me standing up and cheering in front of my laptop. The financial industry likes to tout the superiority of actively managed funds since there is an individual making decisions for your investments &mdash; which has got to be better than doing nothing.</p> <p>Except the active managers who are tinkering with investments have a couple of big detractions. First, they are human, which means they are subject to emotional reactions to market volatility. It is very hard to stick to a plan when ego, panic, or greed is driving the train. According to research by Nobel laureate William Sharpe, you would have to be correct about timing the market (that is consistently buying low and selling high) 82% of the time in order to match the returns you will get with a buy-and-hold strategy. To put that in perspective, Warren Buffett aims for accurate market timing about 2/3 of the time.</p> <p>In addition to the difficulty of market timing, an actively managed fund will have higher transaction costs because of all the active buying and selling (each of which generates a fee) going on. Even if you have the world's most accurate active manager, a great deal of your returns will be eaten up by your transaction costs.</p> <p>Low cost index funds, on other hand, keep their costs low by having fewer managers to pay, and they tend to outperform actively managed funds because they are simply set to mimic a certain index. The majority of consumers will not beat low cost index funds for satisfactory retirement investment growth.</p> <h2>5. If You Have a Financial Adviser, Ask if They're a Fiduciary</h2> <p>As seen on: <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gvZSpET11ZY" target="_blank">Last Week Tonight: Retirement Plans</a></p> <p>A financial adviser is a fiduciary if he or she is legally required to put your economic interests ahead of their own. This is an important distinction because the terms financial adviser, financial planner, financial analyst, financial consultant, wealth manager, and investment consultant are unregulated &mdash; which means someone introducing himself by any of these titles might not have the expertise to back it up.</p> <p>But even if your financial adviser does have the credentials necessary to help you manage your money, she might be paid via commission, which could mean she recommends products to you that help her bottom line more than your retirement.</p> <p>Since a fiduciary is legally obligated to put your interests above their own, you are more likely to get objective advice from them.</p> <p>While John Oliver recommends running the other direction if you find that your financial adviser is not a fiduciary, that may not be necessary as long as you understand how your adviser is paid and you are willing to commit to due diligence in double-checking your adviser's recommendations.</p> <h2>6. Gradually Shift From Stocks to Bonds As You Get Older</h2> <p><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/gvZSpET11ZY" width="560" height="315" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></p> <p>As seen on <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gvZSpET11ZY">Last Week Tonight: Retirement Plans</a></p> <p>This advice is part of target-date retirement planning. The thinking behind it is that you need to be invested in riskier (and therefore higher-earning) investments like stocks when you are young, because you have the time to ride out the volatility and reap the returns. But as you age, you need to be sure your principal is protected, which means gradually shifting more of your investments into bonds, which are more stable but have lower returns.</p> <p>This is pretty good general advice, and I love the show's take on when to remind yourself to shift more to bonds &mdash; whenever a new James Bond actor is chosen. (I'm team Gillian Anderson!)</p> <p>The only nuance I would like to add to this piece of advice is to remind investors that retirement does not mark the end of your investing days &mdash; and you should not be entirely invested in bonds by then. Theoretically, you still have 25 to 40 years ahead of you as of the day you retire, and you will still need to be partially invested in aggressive assets like stocks in order to make sure your money keeps growing.</p> <h2>7. Keep Your Fees, Like Your Milk, Under 1%</h2> <p>As seen on <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gvZSpET11ZY" target="_blank">Last Week Tonight: Retirement Plans</a></p> <p>Except for the fact that skim milk is a watery horror I would not wish on my worst enemy's morning Wheaties, this is probably my favorite of John Oliver's money tips.</p> <p>Fees on your investments work a lot like interest &mdash; in that they compound quickly. <em>Last Week Tonight</em> showed a clip from the 2013 PBS documentary The<a href="http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/frontline/film/retirement-gamble/"> Retirement Gamble</a>, which illustrated how compounding interest would eat up 2/3 of your investment growth over 50 years, assuming a 7% annual return and a 2% annual fee.</p> <p>The only way to combat such termite-like destruction of your investment growth is to keep your fees low &mdash; under 1%. And the lower you can get your fees under 1%, the better you are. As John Oliver's segment points out, &quot;Even 1/10 of 1% can really [bleep] you.&quot;</p> <h2>Money With a Side of Funny</h2> <p>The majority of financial information is not exactly fun to read through. That's why it's so important for a satirist and comedian to take on these vitally important issues and make them entertaining. I'm thankful that John Oliver has decided to make money one of the issues he illuminates for his audience.</p> <p><em>Are you a regular watcher of Last Week Tonight? What valuable advice have you gleaned?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/emily-guy-birken">Emily Guy Birken</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-best-money-management-tips-from-john-oliver">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-4"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/is-paying-off-your-mortgage-early-costing-you-money">Is Paying Off Your Mortgage Early Costing You Money?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/are-you-putting-off-these-9-adult-money-moves">Are You Putting Off These 9 Adult Money Moves?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-fantasy-football-teaches-us-about-personal-finance">What Fantasy Football Teaches Us About Personal Finance</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-ways-to-increase-your-net-worth-this-year">10 Ways to Increase Your Net Worth This Year</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-money-lessons-we-can-learn-from-jay-z">7 Money Lessons We Can Learn From Jay-Z</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance Entertainment bonds credit reports fees index funds investing john oliver money advice payday loans retirement stock market Mon, 08 Aug 2016 10:30:07 +0000 Emily Guy Birken 1766934 at http://www.wisebread.com 6 Money Moves to Make the Moment You Decide to Buy a Car http://www.wisebread.com/6-money-moves-to-make-the-moment-you-decide-to-buy-a-car <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/6-money-moves-to-make-the-moment-you-decide-to-buy-a-car" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/couple_new_car_87292815.jpg" alt="Couple making money moves before buying a new car" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>The beater you are driving now spends more time in the repair shop than on the highway. Or maybe you're sick of trying to time bus schedules or schedule Uber rides. Whatever the reason, it's time to upgrade to a new set of wheels.</p> <p>Unfortunately for most people, a new car comes with a new monthly auto loan payment. And these payments can be high. Kelley Blue Book reported that the estimated average transaction price for new cars hit $33,845 in May 2016. That's an increase of 3.5% from the same month in 2015.</p> <p>Fortunately, you can prepare for this added cost, and all it takes is a bit of research and planning on your part. Here are six money moves to make the instant you decide to buy a new car.</p> <h2>1. Check Your Credit Reports</h2> <p>You want an auto loan with the lowest possible interest rate, so that your monthly payment is as small as possible. And of course, you'll qualify for lower rates if you have strong credit.</p> <p>But before you start shopping for a new car, check your three credit reports (one each maintained by the national credit bureaus of Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion). You can order one copy of each of your reports free from AnnualCreditReport.com. Check carefully for any mistakes &mdash; fixing a mistake could immediately improve your FICO credit score.</p> <p>Knowing the information that the credit bureaus have on you and what your credit score is will give you an idea of whether you can qualify for a low interest rate now, or whether you should work to improve your score before you start hunting for a new car.</p> <h2>2. Call Your Insurance Company</h2> <p>If you are ditching an old car and upgrading to a new one, your auto insurance premium might rise. If you are buying a car for the first time, you'll need to purchase auto insurance before you can hit the road. And you'll need to know, for budgeting reasons, just how much you might expect to pay in auto insurance premiums.</p> <p>Your premium will vary depending on a host of factors, including everything from your age and driving record to the type of car you buy and where you live. So call either your current insurance agent or, if you aren't yet driving, an insurer licensed to do business in your area to get at least an estimate of how much you'll be paying each month or year in insurance costs.</p> <h2>3. Tweak Your Household Budget</h2> <p>You should have a household budget that you follow each month. Adding a new car payment means that you need to tweak that budget. Study your current budget to determine how much of a car payment you can afford. When you start shopping for cars, don't look at any that will leave you with a monthly payment that exceeds that amount. Having a new car is fun. Having a new car that you can't afford is not.</p> <h2>4. Pre-Apply for Financing</h2> <p>When you buy a new car, the dealer will offer you its own financing plan, meaning that you can take out a car loan directly from the dealership that is selling you your vehicle. But the smarter move is to go to your dealership with a preapproval letter from an outside lender.</p> <p>A preapproval letter states that a lender is willing to provide you with an auto loan. The letter will also state exactly how much money this outside lender is willing to loan you.</p> <p>It's good to have another loan option when you're at the dealership. The dealer will still want you to take out a loan from its own finance department, so the dealer might offer you a loan with slightly better terms, including a lower interest rate, as a way to compete. And if your dealer can't come up with a better offer? You can simply finalize that loan from the outside lender.</p> <h2>5. Gather Money for a Down Payment</h2> <p>You'll want to come up with the largest down payment possible when financing a new car. The more cash you provide upfront, the smaller your auto loan will be. And a smaller loan means lower monthly payments.</p> <p>So before shopping for a car, spend some time saving. It's long been recommended that consumers come up with a down payment of 20% of their car's final purchase price. For a car costing $25,000, that comes out to a down payment of $5,000. However, a smaller number of buyers today are actually providing that 20% down. Edmunds reports that consumers in 2015 provided an average down payment of just 10.5% of their car's final purchase price.</p> <p>Don't be one of those consumers who skimps on the down payment. Wait to buy until you've saved up enough cash for a bigger one.</p> <h2>6. Build an Emergency Fund</h2> <p>New cars come with a host of new expenses in addition to that monthly car payment. You'll face insurance costs, gas prices, and repair and maintenance bills. AAA estimates that the annual cost of owning and operating a vehicle in the United States is $8,558. That is actually a six-year low, but shows that owning a car is far from cheap.</p> <p>Make sure that you can afford these extra costs by building an emergency fund <em>before</em> you start car shopping. It's a sounder financial strategy than paying for such unforeseen events as car repairs or emergency home repairs with a credit card.</p> <p><em>What steps do you take when it's time for a new car?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dan-rafter">Dan Rafter</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-money-moves-to-make-the-moment-you-decide-to-buy-a-car">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/should-you-buy-a-car-with-a-credit-card">Should You Buy a Car With a Credit Card?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-to-do-if-youve-signed-up-for-a-terrible-loan-or-credit-card">What to Do if You&#039;ve Signed Up for a Terrible Loan or Credit Card</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-ways-having-a-paid-off-car-is-surprisingly-great">5 Ways Having a Paid Off Car Is Surprisingly Great</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-things-your-credit-report-does-not-include">7 Things Your Credit Report Does NOT Include</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-protect-your-credit-after-the-equifax-breach">How to Protect Your Credit After the Equifax Breach</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Cars and Transportation auto loans budgets credit reports credit score down payments emergency funds financing insurance new car Wed, 13 Jul 2016 10:30:08 +0000 Dan Rafter 1748332 at http://www.wisebread.com Avoid These 5 Common Mistakes While Rebuilding Your Credit http://www.wisebread.com/avoid-these-5-common-mistakes-while-rebuilding-your-credit <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/avoid-these-5-common-mistakes-while-rebuilding-your-credit" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/holding_credit_cards_79349747.jpg" alt="Learning to avoid common mistakes while rebuilding credit" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>You know your three-digit credit score is terrible. And this makes it difficult to qualify for auto loans, a mortgage, or credit cards. Even if you do qualify, you're hit with sky-high interest rates.</p> <p>Still, you <em>can&nbsp;</em><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-use-credit-cards-to-improve-your-credit-score?utm_source=wisebread&amp;utm_medium=internal&amp;utm_campaign=article">rebuild your credit score</a>. It just takes time. Pay your bills on time every month. Pay off as much credit card debt as you can. Eventually, your score will rise.</p> <p>Just avoid these five common mistakes that consumers often make when rebuilding their credit.</p> <h2>1. Closing Paid-Off Credit Cards</h2> <p>Paying off a credit card is cause for celebration. Just don't cancel that card once you hit a zero balance. If you do, your credit score will take a hit. This is because of something called your <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/this-one-ratio-is-the-key-to-a-good-credit-score?utm_source=wisebread&amp;utm_medium=internal&amp;utm_campaign=article">credit-utilization ratio</a>. Basically, your credit score will fall if you use too much of your available credit.</p> <p>Here's an example. Say you have $10,000 worth of credit card debt and three open credit card accounts with a total available credit limit of $15,000. This gives you a credit utilization ratio of 67%. If you pay off one of the cards and bring your debt down to $7,000, your credit utilization ratio falls to 47%. This will boost your credit score. However, if you close that credit card account and lose that available credit (say it was $5,000), your total available credit will drop to $10,000, and your credit utilization ratio jumps to 70%, even higher than when you had $10k of debt but three open accounts.</p> <p>The better move? Keep that paid-off card open, just make sure to avoid running up its balance again.</p> <h2>2. Missing a Payment, Even Once</h2> <p>When rebuilding your credit score, your most important job is to make your monthly payments on time <em>every</em> month. Late or missed payments can send your credit score falling by 100 points. These financial missteps will stay on your credit report for seven years, too.</p> <p>So don't forget to send in that car or credit card payment on time. And if you do miss your due date? Send your payment as quickly as possible. Lenders won't report a payment as missed to the three national credit bureaus until it is 30 days or more past the due date. So even if you missed the official due date, you can still spare your credit score.</p> <h2>3. Swearing Off Credit Cards Forever</h2> <p>It's tempting when you're trying to rebuild your credit to swear off credit cards completely. After all, it's often credit card debt that has gotten consumers into credit score problems. But using a credit card responsibly is actually one way to help improve a credit score. Your score will rise if you pay your credit card bill on time each month. Not using credit cards at all can actually hurt your score.</p> <p>The key, though, is to never charge more than you can afford to pay off in full each month. If you charge too much, you'll simply increase the amount of credit card debt you carry from month to month. This will increase your credit-utilization ratio, thus hurting your score. So do use your card. Just don't use it so much that you have to carry a balance.</p> <p>If you find that you're having trouble getting approved for a credit card because of your bad credit, look for <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-secured-credit-cards?utm_source=wisebread&amp;utm_medium=internal&amp;utm_campaign=article">secured credit cards</a> which often do not require a credit check.</p> <h2>4. Looking for a Quick Solution</h2> <p>Rebuilding a weak credit score takes time &mdash; lots of it. It might take a year or more of making on-time payments and whittling down your credit card debt to improve your score enough to make you a good risk in the eyes of lenders. Don't make the mistake of trying to rush this process. Many companies claim that they can instantly boost your credit score. Unless there are errors on your credit reports, they can't. There is no quick way to raise an ailing credit score. Any company that tells you otherwise is lying.</p> <h2>5. Not Ordering Your Three Credit Reports</h2> <p>The three national credit bureaus of TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian each maintain a credit report on you. These reports list all the open credit accounts in your name and any missed or late payments in the last seven years. They also list any negative judgments such as foreclosures and bankruptcies in the last seven to 10 years.</p> <p>You are entitled to one free copy of each these reports every year from AnnualCreditReport.com. When rebuilding your credit, it's important to order these reports and to study them. Look for errors. One report might say that you missed a car payment last year that you know you paid on time. Correcting that error could provide an <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-ways-to-increase-your-credit-score-quickly?utm_source=wisebread&amp;utm_medium=internal&amp;utm_campaign=article">immediate boost to your credit score</a>.</p> <p><em>Have you improved your credit? What steps did you take?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dan-rafter">Dan Rafter</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/avoid-these-5-common-mistakes-while-rebuilding-your-credit">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-boost-your-credit-with-a-balance-transfer">How to Boost Your Credit With a Balance Transfer</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-a-solid-credit-score-saves-you-money">How a Solid Credit Score Saves You Money</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/this-one-ratio-is-the-key-to-a-good-credit-score">This One Ratio Is the Key to a Good Credit Score</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/building-a-credit-history">Building a Credit History</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/stop-dont-cut-up-your-credit-cards">Stop! Don&#039;t Cut Up Your Credit Cards</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Credit Cards Debt Management credit history credit reports credit score credit utilization ratio debt paying bills rebuilding credit Fri, 08 Jul 2016 10:30:10 +0000 Dan Rafter 1747445 at http://www.wisebread.com Your Bad Credit Isn't the End of the World http://www.wisebread.com/your-bad-credit-isnt-the-end-of-the-world <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/your-bad-credit-isnt-the-end-of-the-world" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/man_stressed_finances_84649523.jpg" alt="Man learning his bad credit isn&#039;t the end of the world" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Worried about your low FICO credit score? Does your credit card debt keep you awake at night?</p> <p>You're not alone. Money worries plague millions of Americans. According to the <em>Stress in America</em> survey from the American Psychological Association, more than a quarter of U.S. adults say they feel stressed about money most or all of the time. Only 30% rated their financial security as high, while more than two-thirds said that having more money would make them happier.</p> <p>But here's some good news: Yes, bad credit and high credit card debt does add stress to your life. But neither of these financial missteps are unfixable. As long as you face your financial problems and take some simple steps to correct them, you can build a new financially secure future. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/topic/5-day-debt-reduction-plan?ref=seealso">5-Day Debt Reduction Plan</a>)</p> <h2>Scary Numbers</h2> <p>Many Americans are struggling with their FICO credit score, that three-digit number that lenders use to determine who qualifies for loans and at what interest rate. According to a 2015 report from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, about 45 million U.S. adults had such a limited credit history, that they had no FICO scores.</p> <p>A 2015 report from credit bureau Experian said that nearly a third of U.S. consumers had a credit score under 601. Experian was basing its study on its own credit score, the VantageScore, but consumers who have a bad VantageScore typically have a bad FICO score, too.</p> <p>These numbers mean one thing: Plenty of us are struggling with bad credit and high credit card debt. If you are, too, it's important to realize that there are five easy steps you can take now to help improve your financial health.</p> <h2>Order Your Free Credit Reports</h2> <p>You can order one free copy of each of your credit reports &mdash; the credit bureaus of Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion each maintain a separate report on you &mdash; every year from AnnualCreditReport.com. These reports will list your credit cards and how much you owe on each. They will also list the money you owe on car loans, student loans, and mortgage loans.</p> <p>Credit reports also list any missed or late payments during the last seven years, and will also include any negative judgments, such as bankruptcies or foreclosures, that are up to seven to 10 years old.</p> <p>Be sure to order your reports and check them carefully. Make sure the information in your reports is accurate. If there are errors, such as a missed car payment that you are sure you paid on time, correct them. Doing this can quickly provide a boost to your score.</p> <h2>Pay All Your Bills on Time</h2> <p>Missed or late payments are the most common cause of a weak credit score. Resolve, then, to pay all of your bills on time. As you do this, you will gradually improve your credit score. Just don't expect immediate results. Depending on how low your score is today, it can take months or more than a year to raise it from the &quot;bad&quot; to the &quot;fair&quot; or &quot;good&quot; level.</p> <h2>Pay More Than the Minimum Each Month on Your Credit Cards</h2> <p>High amounts of credit card debt can also result in a bad credit score. Each month, pay off more than the required minimum payment on your cards. As you cut down on your credit card debt, you'll again slowly improve your credit score. You'll also get the bonus of cutting down on all that interest you pay each month. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/fastest-way-to-pay-off-10000-in-credit-card-debt?utm_source=wisebread&amp;utm_medium=seealso&amp;utm_campaign=article">Fastest Way to Pay Off $10,000 in Credit Card Debt</a>)</p> <h2>Keep Your Credit Cards Open</h2> <p>If you do pay off a credit card in full, don't close the account. Your credit score is higher when you are using less of your available credit. In general, you never want to be using more than 30% of your available credit. If you close a credit card, you're immediately reducing the amount of credit available to you. If you do have credit card debt, you will then also be immediately using more of it, which could hurt your score. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/this-one-ratio-is-the-key-to-a-good-credit-score?utm_source=wisebread&amp;utm_medium=seealso&amp;utm_campaign=article">This One Ratio Is the Key to A Good Credit Score</a>)</p> <h2>Don't Be Afraid to Use Credit Cards</h2> <p>Using credit cards wisely can actually help <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-use-credit-cards-to-improve-your-credit-score?utm_source=wisebread&amp;utm_medium=internal&amp;utm_campaign=article">boost your credit score</a>. If you regularly charge items through the month and then pay them off in full when your credit card bill is due, you are showing that you can maturely handle credit. So don't be afraid to charge that flat-screen TV. Just make sure that you have the cash to pay off the entire purchase when your credit card's due date rolls around.</p> <p><em>Are you struggling with poor credit and high credit card debt? What steps have you taken to correct it?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dan-rafter">Dan Rafter</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/your-bad-credit-isnt-the-end-of-the-world">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-things-your-credit-report-does-not-include">7 Things Your Credit Report Does NOT Include</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-steps-to-getting-excellent-credit">5 Steps to Getting Excellent Credit</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-signs-youre-making-all-the-right-money-moves">6 Signs You&#039;re Making All the Right Money Moves</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/debunking-8-common-credit-score-myths">Debunking 8 Common Credit Score Myths</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-7-debt-payoffs-that-boost-your-credit-score-the-most">The 7 Debt Payoffs That Boost Your Credit Score the Most</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance available credit bills credit history credit reports credit score debt FICO score minimum payments Wed, 15 Jun 2016 10:00:12 +0000 Dan Rafter 1731281 at http://www.wisebread.com The Only 5 Rules of Home Buying You Need to Know http://www.wisebread.com/the-only-5-rules-of-home-buying-you-need-to-know <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/the-only-5-rules-of-home-buying-you-need-to-know" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/family_new_house_000090470299.jpg" alt="Family learning only rules of home buying they need to know" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Buying a home can be stressful and complicated. But if you follow just five basic rules, you'll make the challenge of buying a home a bit less intimidating.</p> <h2>1. Meet With a Mortgage Lender Before Touring Homes</h2> <p>Touring homes is the fun part of buying. But before you start looking at properties, you need to meet with a mortgage lender.</p> <p>That's because a lender can pre-approve you for a mortgage loan. To do this, your lender will run your credit. You'll have to provide copies of such documents as your last two paycheck stubs, bank-account statements, W2s, and tax returns. Your lender will take this information and determine if you qualify for a mortgage loan, and how large that loan can be.</p> <p>This is important for house hunters. Once you know that a lender will approve you for a mortgage loan of $200,000, you won't waste time looking at homes that cost $300,000.</p> <p>Make sure, though, that you get <em>pre-approved</em> and not <em>pre-qualified</em>. A pre-qualification is when a lender takes down your information by phone and tells you how large of a mortgage loan you can afford. But in a pre-qualification, lenders don't actually verify your financial health as they do when pre-approving you.</p> <h2>2. Review Your Credit Reports</h2> <p>You have three credit reports, one each maintained by the credit bureaus of TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax. These reports list how much you owe on your credit cards and any other loans. They also list if you've missed any payments or paid any bills late. They'll list, too, any negative judgments such as recent foreclosures and bankruptcies.</p> <p>You can order one free copy of each of your three credit reports every year from AnnualCreditReport.com. Once you do, study the reports to make sure that the information contained in it is accurate. If it's not, it could cause your credit score to fall.</p> <h2>3. Order at Least One of Your Credit Scores Before You Start House Hunting</h2> <p>Speaking of credit scores, this three-digit number is critical to anyone buying a home. Lenders rely on <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/15-surprising-ways-bad-credit-can-hurt-you" target="_blank">your credit score</a> to determine how much of a risk you are. If your score is low, say under 640 on the FICO scale, you'll struggle to get a mortgage loan without paying an exorbitantly high interest rate. If your score is above 740, though, you'll generally qualify for the widest variety of mortgage loans and the lowest interest rates on these loans.</p> <p>To determine how strong your credit score is, you'll have to order at least one of your three reports, one each maintained by the credit bureaus again. You can order your score from Experian, Equifax, or TransUnion for about $15.</p> <h2>4. Reduce Your Debt</h2> <p>There's another number that lenders look at when you apply for a mortgage loan &mdash; your debt-to-income ratio. This ratio compares your monthly debt obligations with your gross monthly income. If this ratio is too high, you'll struggle to qualify for a mortgage.</p> <p>Lenders prefer that your total monthly debts, including your estimated new monthly mortgage payment, equals no more than 43% of your gross monthly income. If your debt-to-income ratio is too high, cut down as much of your debt as possible &mdash; maybe starting with credit card debt &mdash; before you start looking for a new home.</p> <h2>5. Interview to Find the Right Real Estate Agent</h2> <p>When you're buying a home, you get to work with a real estate agent for free. When you find and buy a home, your agent is paid by the seller, who uses part of the profit of the home sale to provide your agent with a commission. Because of this, there's no reason not to work with a real estate agent when you're buying a home.</p> <p>But you do want to work with the <em>right</em> agent, so schedule interviews with several. When you're speaking with agents, ask them some key questions: How long have they worked as real estate agents? Do they work often in the neighborhoods that you're targeting? How much of a home's asking price do they shave off on average for their buyers? Do they represent both buyers and sellers or are they exclusively buyers' agents?</p> <p>Be sure, too, to ask agents for referrals from past customers. You'll want to talk to some of these past customers to determine how responsive and effective an agent was for them.</p> <p><em>Is our list of rules too short? What other rules should home-buyers heed?</em></p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <div align="center"><a data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-count="above" data-pin-tall="true" data-pin-save="true" href="https://www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Fthe-only-5-rules-of-home-buying-you-need-to-know&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2FThe%2520Only%25205%2520Rules%2520of%2520Home%2520Buying%2520You%2520Need%2520to%2520Know.jpg&amp;description=The%20Only%205%20Rules%20of%20Home%20Buying%20You%20Need%20to%20Know"></a></p> <script async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/The%20Only%205%20Rules%20of%20Home%20Buying%20You%20Need%20to%20Know.jpg" alt="The Only 5 Rules of Home Buying You Need to Know" width="250" height="374" /></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dan-rafter">Dan Rafter</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-only-5-rules-of-home-buying-you-need-to-know">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-money-moves-to-make-for-tomorrows-mortgage">6 Money Moves to Make for Tomorrow&#039;s Mortgage</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-mortgage-details-you-should-know-before-you-sign">5 Mortgage Details You Should Know Before You Sign</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/heres-whats-included-in-a-homes-closing-costs">Here&#039;s What&#039;s Included in a Home&#039;s Closing Costs</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-house-hunt-without-leaving-your-couch">How to House Hunt Without Leaving Your Couch</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-ways-to-buy-a-house-without-a-mortgage">4 Ways to Buy a House Without a Mortgage</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Real Estate and Housing credit reports home buying homeowners house hunting lenders mortgages real estate agents Thu, 19 May 2016 09:30:24 +0000 Dan Rafter 1712868 at http://www.wisebread.com