debt http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/805/all en-US 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-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/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-2 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-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-credit-card-truths-you-wish-you-could-tell-your-younger-self">10 Credit Card Truths You Wish You Could Tell Your Younger Self</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-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-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 6 Moves to Make Before Cutting Up Your Credit Card http://www.wisebread.com/6-moves-to-make-before-cutting-up-your-credit-card <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/6-moves-to-make-before-cutting-up-your-credit-card" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/cut_credit_card_39755818.jpg" alt="Making moves before cutting up your credit card" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Credit card debt got you down? Before you reach for the scissors to cut that plastic in half, consider taking these six steps.</p> <h2>1. Consolidate Your Debt Into a Lower Interest Rate</h2> <p>The first question to ask yourself when contemplating a breakup with your credit cards is &quot;Why?&quot; If it's because you've racked up too much debt &mdash; and that's usually the case, isn't it? &mdash; there are ways to alleviate some of that pain in the short term. You can consider balance transfer <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-best-0-balance-transfer-credit-cards?utm_source=wisebread&amp;utm_medium=internal&amp;utm_campaign=cc_article">credit cards with introductory 0% interest rates</a>, or <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-best-low-interest-rate-credit-cards?utm_source=wisebread&amp;utm_medium=internal&amp;utm_campaign=cc_article">low interest credit cards</a> (they're out there if you look hard enough). If you are a homeowner with a mortgage, when you refinance your mortgage, you may be able to get a much lower mortgage rate. (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=internal&amp;utm_campaign=cc_article">When Should You Do A Balance Transfer to Pay Off Your Credit Cards</a>)</p> <h2>2. Continue Using the Cards &mdash; Sparingly</h2> <p>Continuing to use your cards if you're susceptible to impulse buys may not be the best option, but if you can exhibit self-control, it's in your financial interest to keep using the cards regularly. Only charge small amounts that you can pay off immediately.</p> <p>&quot;If you're looking to take the first step in rebuilding a credit profile once you've paid off a balance, then hold onto your cards and make a minor purchase each month and pay it off entirely the next month,&quot; says Mike Catania, a consumer finances expert. &quot;Once you've done this on your cards for a year, then you can safely start closing one per year.&quot;</p> <h2>3. Keep the Account Open</h2> <p>An impetuous move when frustrated with your credit situation might be to close the account. Out of sight, out of mind, right? That's true, especially if you have zero access to it; the temptation is gone if there's no active account. But if you have a lot of debt on your credit cards, you don't want to suddenly reduce the amount of available credit you have. Your credit utilization ratio will shoot up, and it will <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=cc_article">negatively impact your credit score</a>.</p> <p>&quot;One factor that could result in an immediate impact on your credit score when canceling a credit card is your credit utilization,&quot; warns credit expert Nicole Laoutaris. &quot;To maintain a good credit score, it is wise to utilize a maximum 35% of your available credit at any given time. For example, if you have two credit cards, both with a $10,000 credit limit, and between the two have a $6,000 balance, then your credit utilization is 30% ($6,000/$20,000). If you decided to do a balance transfer and cancel one of your credit cards, your credit utilization would rise to 60% ($6,000/$10,000); this is the main way in which canceling a credit card can affect your credit score.&quot;</p> <h2>4. Pay Off Any Lingering Balance</h2> <p>Check to see if you still have a balance on the card. Sometimes, when people cut up their credit card, they forget about it altogether. If you have an owing balance, you'll want to pay it off before you forget about it completely. You don't want it sent to collections because you tried to discipline yourself. Or, if you can't eliminate it all in one fell swoop, setup monthly reminders for yourself to pay it off.</p> <h2>5. Work Backward to Delete Traces of the Card</h2> <p>Ensure that your old card's information isn't stored anywhere online, especially at your favorite retailers. Just because the physical card is destroyed, doesn't mean you can't use it. If you're still planning to use this card for certain online bills, take note of them and incorporate these expenses into your budget.</p> <h2>6. Commit Yourself to Positive Financial Accountability</h2> <p>Prevent cutting up your credit card by forcing yourself to be more mindful with your money. I had credit cards in my late teens and early 20s that got me into a lot of trouble. I swore off them in my mid-20s to separate myself from the temptation, but when I felt equipped to adequately handle the responsibility again, I started opening new accounts as I approached my 30s. Know your limits, and hold yourself accountable.</p> <p>&quot;Many times, people in debt like to live in denial and not check their card balances, look at receipts, etc.,&quot; Laoutaris says. &quot;Using an app like Mint is great because it shows you exactly what your cash inflow versus cash outflow is. It's also great at tracking where you're spending your money.&quot; (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-day-debt-reduction-plan-stop-waiting-for-tomorrow?utm_source=wisebread&amp;utm_medium=seealso&amp;utm_campaign=cc_article">5 Day Debt Reduction Plan</a>)</p> <p><em>Have you ever cut up a credit card? Did it solve your credit woes?</em></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/6-moves-to-make-before-cutting-up-your-credit-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-6"> <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-ways-to-lower-your-credit-card-interest-rate">7 Ways to Lower Your Credit Card Interest Rate</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-expect-when-youre-expecting-a-huge-credit-card-bill">What to Expect When You&#039;re Expecting a Huge Credit Card Bill</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/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-4 views-row-even"> <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> <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-signs-its-time-to-break-up-with-your-credit-cards">7 Signs It&#039;s Time to Break Up With Your Credit Cards</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Credit Cards balance transfers bills credit score credit utilization cutting up credit cards debt interest rates outstanding balances Tue, 05 Jul 2016 10:30:07 +0000 Mikey Rox 1743326 at http://www.wisebread.com The Real Reason We Still Spend to Impress http://www.wisebread.com/the-real-reason-we-still-spend-to-impress <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/the-real-reason-we-still-spend-to-impress" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock_80217451_LARGE.jpg" alt="spending to impress" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Money and relationships have always gone hand in hand. From the practice of paying wedding dowries, to the formal class system, which kept layers of wealth strictly separate. But we're over that now, right?</p> <p>Maybe not.</p> <p>In some ways, society never really moved on. And the amplifying effect of social media and easy communication can actually make us more likely than ever to be tempted to spend to impress. Here's why.</p> <h2>Herd Behavior</h2> <p>As sophisticated as our modern lifestyle might be, we're all still powered by brains that evolved more to keep us out of the way of wild animals than to encourage us to develop prudent retirement plans. The primal part of the brain is hardwired to take over when there is a threat or pressure &mdash; making it responsible for much of the reflex action that drives the sort of &quot;keeping up with the Joneses&quot; conspicuous consumption.</p> <p>While our more rational mind might recognize that we risk spending money we don't have, buying things we don't need to impress people we don't like (to paraphrase Dave Ramsey), the instinct to keep up takes over. Faced with the perceived threat of being left behind by the herd, our instinctive responses make it far more likely we will spend to maintain or improve our place in the pecking order. And before we know it, our brains can <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-ways-your-brain-tricks-you-into-spending">trick us into spending</a> on an impulse, no matter what our more rational intentions might be.</p> <h2>Old Habits Die Hard</h2> <p>Conspicuous consumption is a concept over a century old &mdash; appearing in the 1899 economics book, <em>The Theory of the Leisure Class</em>. At the time, it was intended to describe the habits of the emerging upper class, made rich by the industrial revolution. While wealth had been condensed in the hands of very few, this up and coming class felt the need to cement their worth in the eyes of their peers &mdash; and spent to an outrageous degree to do so.</p> <p>A more modern term for this practice is <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-signs-youre-suffering-from-lifestyle-inflation">lifestyle inflation</a>, in which the basic building blocks of our lifestyle start to cost more than we can afford. As we live beyond our means, the costs can snowball quickly, and spending becomes a defining part of our identity.</p> <p>Stuff can define us. While the &quot;greed is good&quot; years might have passed, the brands we identify with, the places we choose to spend our leisure time, and the districts we live in still form the backbone of the persona we present to the world. We tend to be drawn to others who make the same choices, and the whole circle becomes self-fulfilling. Spending to impress never went away, it just got a new name.</p> <h2>Social Media Amplification</h2> <p>Possibly the biggest challenge today is that when it comes to lifestyle, everybody is faking it. Social media promotes unrealistic ideals when it come to the perfect beach body, but it is responsible for projecting a lot of unrealistic lifestyle images, too.</p> <p>It's not malicious. Most of us use social media primarily to share good things and celebrate successes &mdash; keeping life's challenges out of the unrestricted sharing of the Internet. But naturally, you then see a social media feed full of only glamorous vacation pictures, new purchases, and awesome parties. It's easy to think that this is how everyone else lives their life. But when the truth is that nearly half of all Americans would struggle to find the ready cash to cover an <a href="http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2016/05/my-secret-shame/476415/">unexpected bill of only $400</a>, the reality seems a little less glitzy.</p> <h2>How to Break the Cycle</h2> <p>So doing poorly thought-out things on an impulse, to impress the crowd and retain our place in the social pecking order, might have been with us since our cavemen days. Despite our sophisticated outlook and lifestyle, our basic instincts have not evolved beyond this stage &mdash; and won't any time soon. With aspirational images of lifestyles we can't afford popping right into our phones by the minute, it's no wonder that the boundaries of what is realistic are blurred.</p> <p>Even though we can't change our brains, and are unlikely to be able to step away from the social media feed for very long, we can take a look around us. We can actively learn to appreciate the things we already have, rather than looking for the next thing to provide temporary fulfillment. It isn't easy, but practice makes perfect.</p> <p><em>How do you make sure that you're not getting sucked into lifestyle inflation? Share with us!</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/claire-millard">Claire Millard</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-real-reason-we-still-spend-to-impress">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-7"> <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/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-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-ways-to-make-retail-therapy-good-for-you">5 Ways to Make Retail Therapy Good for You</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/are-your-financial-habits-just-bad">Are Your Financial Habits Just Bad?</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/4-ways-your-brain-tricks-you-into-spending">4 Ways Your Brain Tricks You Into Spending</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/6-ways-to-resist-a-splurge">6 Ways to Resist a Splurge</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Budgeting Shopping bad habits debt impress impress others keeping up with the joneses shopping habit Spending Money Wed, 29 Jun 2016 09:30:24 +0000 Claire Millard 1740967 at http://www.wisebread.com 5 Reasons You Shouldn't Buy a House (Yet) http://www.wisebread.com/5-reasons-you-shouldnt-buy-a-house-yet <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5-reasons-you-shouldnt-buy-a-house-yet" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_new_house_62322290.jpg" alt="Woman learning reasons she shouldn&#039;t buy a house yet" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>You hate sending that rent check to your landlord every month. The neighbors living above you have a newborn baby that cries all night long. And you dream of planting your own vegetable garden.</p> <p>In short, you're tired of renting and you want to buy your first home. But wanting to buy a home and being ready to do so are two different things. Are you financially ready for the burden of a monthly mortgage payment?</p> <p>Here are five signs that you're not ready to buy a house just yet. But don't fret; even if you are struggling with these financial issues, you can still become a homeowner. You'll just need a bit of patience and improved financial skills.</p> <h2>Sign 1: You Have No Savings</h2> <p>Buying a home is expensive. You'll need money for a down payment. For most mortgage loans, you'll need at least 5% of the home's purchase price. For a home costing $200,000, that comes out to $10,000. If you are buying a home insured by the Federal Housing Administration, better known as an FHA loan, you'll need a down payment of 3.5% of your home's final purchase price, depending on your credit score. For a $200,000 home, that still comes out to a down payment of $7,000.</p> <p>Then there are closing costs, the fees that mortgage lenders, title insurers, and others charge you to originate your mortgage loan. Real estate website Zillow says that these costs can run from 2% to 5% of your total mortgage loan. If you are borrowing $180,000, then your closing costs can run from $3,600 to $9,000.</p> <p>It's true that you can get help with some of these costs. You can use gift money from relatives, for example, to pay for all or part of your down payment. You might be able to convince a home's seller to pay for all or part of the closing costs. But if you don't have any savings built up, lenders might hesitate to lend you mortgage money. They want to make sure that you have reserve funds on hand to cover your mortgage payment for at least two to three months if you should suddenly run into a financial crisis such as a job loss.</p> <h3>What to Do</h3> <p>It's best to start searching for a home only <em>after </em>you've saved enough money to cover a down payment and your estimated closing costs. Most lenders will also want to see enough money in your savings after you've paid closing costs and your down payment to cover at least two months of mortgage payments.</p> <h2>Sign 2: Your Credit Score Is Bad</h2> <p>Your credit score is a key number when you're applying for a mortgage. Lenders pass out their lowest interest rates to borrowers who have FICO credit scores of 740 or higher. But the lower your score, the higher your interest rate &mdash; and your monthly mortgage payment &mdash; will be. If your score is too low, say under 640, you'll struggle to qualify for a loan at all.</p> <h3>What to Do</h3> <p>First, order at least one of your three credit reports from AnnualCreditReport.com. You are entitled to one free copy of each of your three credit reports &mdash; maintained by the national credit bureaus of Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion &mdash; once every year. Once you get your report, read it carefully. It will list how much you owe on your credit cards and how much you owe on student loans and car loans. It will also list whether you have any late or missed payments during the last seven years. Those late or missed payments will send your credit score tumbling.</p> <p>Next, order your FICO credit score. You can do this from the credit bureaus, too, but you'll have to pay about $15 to do so. If your score is low, and there are negative marks on your credit report, it's time to start a new history of paying all your bills on time. You also need to pay down as much of your credit card debt as possible. Both of these actions will steadily increase your credit score, though it could take months or even more than a year before your score recovers enough to make you a good candidate for a mortgage loan.</p> <p>Be patient and wait to apply for that mortgage until your FICO score is over 700.</p> <h2>Sign 3: You Have a Mountain of Credit Card Debt</h2> <p>Your debt-to-income ratio is another key number when it comes to buying a home. Lenders want your total monthly debts, including your estimated new mortgage payment, to equal no more than 43% of your gross monthly income. If your debt-to-income ratio is too high, you'll struggle to earn approval for a mortgage. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-day-debt-reduction-plan-stop-waiting-for-tomorrow?utm_source=wisebread&amp;utm_medium=seealso&amp;utm_campaign=article">5 Day Debt Reduction Plan</a>)</p> <p>For many potential homebuyers, large amounts of credit card debt are what shoot that debt-to-income levels past 43%.</p> <h3>What to Do</h3> <p>Pay off that credit card debt. Always make more than your minimum monthly required payment. And wait until you've substantially reduced that debt before you add a monthly mortgage payment to your financial responsibilities.</p> <p>See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/fastest-way-to-pay-off-10000-in-credit-card-debt?utm_source=wisebread&amp;utm_medium=seealso2&amp;utm_campaign=article">This Is The Fastest Way to Pay Off Your Credit Card Debt</a></p> <h2>Sign 4: You Routinely Miss Your Monthly Payments</h2> <p>Maybe you have more than enough money each month to pay all your bills on time &mdash; you just routinely forget to pay them. Making late payments, or missing payments completely, is a sure sign that you're not ready for the financial responsibility of owning a home.</p> <p>If you miss a mortgage payment by more than 30 days, your credit score will fall by 100 points or more. If you miss enough, you could lose your home to foreclosure.</p> <h3>What to Do</h3> <p>Learn better financial habits before you apply for a mortgage. Set up reminders on your phone or computer alerting you when bills are due. Or pay those bills as soon as they arrive to make sure you don't forget them. It might makes sense to set up automatic payments through your bank. But don't apply for a mortgage until you've broken the habit of regularly missing your monthly payment due dates.</p> <h2>Sign 5: You Don't Have a Stable Job</h2> <p>You'll need a steady, reliable stream of income if you use a mortgage to finance the purchase of a home. If you're worried that you'll lose your job, or if your income is sky-high one month thanks to overtime and then low the next, you might not be ready to buy a home.</p> <p>Your monthly mortgage payment will become the biggest financial responsibility you have. What happens if you lose your job? What happens if your company goes through a dry spell in which they reduce your income for several months? Would you still be able to afford that monthly payment?</p> <h3>What to Do</h3> <p>Find a job that is reliable and that pays you a stable income each month. Don't take the risk that everything will work out. You don't want missed mortgage payments on your credit reports. And if your job is unstable? You'll greatly increase the risk of these black marks.</p> <p><em>Are you ready to buy a home? What steps are you taking to make it happen?</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/5-reasons-you-shouldnt-buy-a-house-yet">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-5"> <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/everything-a-first-time-home-buyer-needs-to-buy-a-house">Everything a First-Time Home Buyer Needs to Buy a House</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-only-5-rules-of-home-buying-you-need-to-know">The Only 5 Rules of Home Buying You Need to Know</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/whats-faster-for-mortgage-payoff-100-month-extra-or-1-payment-year-extra">What&#039;s Faster for Mortgage Payoff: $100/Month Extra or 1 Payment/Year Extra?</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/4-reasons-why-youre-too-old-or-too-young-for-a-mortgage-loan">4 Reasons Why You&#039;re Too Old — Or Too Young — For a Mortgage Loan</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/ask-yourself-these-5-questions-before-buying-a-home">Ask Yourself These 5 Questions Before Buying a Home</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Real Estate and Housing credit score debt debt to income ratio down payments fha loans homeowners mortgages new home Fri, 17 Jun 2016 10:00:11 +0000 Dan Rafter 1732054 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/avoid-these-5-common-mistakes-while-rebuilding-your-credit">Avoid These 5 Common Mistakes While Rebuilding Your Credit</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/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/what-to-expect-when-youre-expecting-a-huge-credit-card-bill">What to Expect When You&#039;re Expecting a Huge Credit Card Bill</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-credit-scores-and-reports-are-not-the-same">Here&#039;s Why Credit Scores and Reports Are Not the Same</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 15 Personal Finance Calculators Everyone Should Use http://www.wisebread.com/15-personal-finance-calculators-everyone-should-use <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/15-personal-finance-calculators-everyone-should-use" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/man_computer_floor_70059811.jpg" alt="Man using personal finance calculator everyone should use" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Personal finance is ultimately all about the numbers, and you are better off armed with calculations than making decisions based on intuition, alone. Online calculators can be great tools to analyze your options and try out &quot;what-if&quot; scenarios to help plan your financial moves. Even if you are rusty at math, personal finance calculators make it easy to type in a few basic numbers and get quantitative answers to your personal finance questions.</p> <p>Lots of great calculators are available for free. Here are some of my favorites.</p> <h2>1. Mortgage Calculator</h2> <p>Buying a house is one of the biggest expenses most people will undertake. A mortgage calculator can help you evaluate how much your monthly payments will be for a house of a given price. You can try out different financing options, too, such as 30-year mortgage versus a 15-year mortgage. The monthly payments are higher for a 15-year mortgage, but you'll pay a lot less interest. How much less? Try out a <a href="http://www.bankrate.com/calculators/mortgages/mortgage-calculator.aspx">Mortgage Calculator</a>.</p> <h2>2. Home Affordability Calculator</h2> <p>How much home can you afford to buy? Clearly you can't spend your entire paycheck on your mortgage payment, but how much is reasonable? Use a home affordability calculator to help figure out how much house you can afford based on your income and existing debts. Consider this <a href="http://money.cnn.com/calculator/real_estate/home-afford/">Home Affordability Calculator</a>.</p> <h2>3. Mortgage Refinance Calculator</h2> <p>If you have already bought a house, is it worth refinancing to get a lower interest rate? The answer depends on several factors, including how long you will keep the house and how much lower of an interest rate you can get. In some cases, you can save thousands of dollars by refinancing. Run some numbers on the mortgage refinance calculator and see if refinancing your house makes sense for you. See this one: <a href="http://www.bankrate.com/calculators/mortgages/refinance-calculator.aspx">Mortgage Refinance Calculator</a></p> <h2>4. Home Rent vs. Buy Calculator</h2> <p>It can be more convenient and less expensive to rent a house instead of buying a home. However, a home can be an asset that appreciates in value over time. How long you will stay in your house is a big factor in evaluating the rent versus buy decision. Use this calculator to help decide whether to rent or whether to buy a house: <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2016/05/25/upshot/100000002894612.mobile.html">Home Rent vs. Buy Calculator</a></p> <h2>5. Investment Growth Calculator</h2> <p>An investment calculator can bring the miracle of compound interest to life. Instead of waiting for decades to see how much your investment accounts will grow, use a calculator to find out now. Of course, no one knows how the stock market will perform in the future, but you can run likely scenarios and see how your investments would grow. This <a href="https://www.investor.gov/tools/calculators/compound-interest-calculator">Investment Growth Calculator</a> is a good place to start.</p> <h2>6. Traditional Retirement Calculator</h2> <p>The biggest question that people heading into retirement have is, &quot;How much money do I need to retire?&quot; Retirement calculators can help answer this question considering life expectancy and expenses. Here's one to play with: <a href="http://www.kiplinger.com/tool/retirement/T047-S001-retirement-savings-calculator-how-much-money-do-i/">Traditional Retirement Calculator</a></p> <h2>7. Early Retirement Calculator</h2> <p>An unusual retirement calculator is FIRECalc. This calculator analyzes the risk that you will run out of money in retirement by using past actual economic data to evaluate how the stock market could perform, ranging from great to terrible. The inputs are the value of your portfolio, how much you plan to spend each year, and the length of retirement. The output is the probability that you would run out of money and a set of plots showing how your investment would grow during retirement years under a wide variety of economic conditions. This is a great tool to use to decide if you have enough money to safely retire early: <a href="http://www.firecalc.com/">Early Retirement Calculator</a></p> <h2>8. Credit Card Calculator</h2> <p>Everyone knows it is expensive to carry credit card debt, but how much is that debt really costing you? Find out with a credit card calculator. You can learn how long it will take to pay off your credit cards based on the balance, interest rate, and your payment amount. You can also find out how much you would save on interest with a balance transfer to a lower interest card by entering your consolidated balance and new interest rate into the calculator. Here is one to try: <a href="http://www.bankrate.com/calculators/managing-debt/minimum-payment-calculator.aspx">Credit Card Calculators</a></p> <h2>9. Auto Loan Calculator</h2> <p>Whether you are buying a new or a used vehicle, you can use an auto loan calculator to calculate your payments and see the total cost of the car loan. Try out different payment terms &mdash; for example, four years versus five years, and see how much that changes the monthly payment and total cost. Find out how much car you can afford before you go car shopping: <a href="http://www.cars.com/go/advice/financing/calc/loanCalc.jsp?mode=full">Auto Loan Calculator</a></p> <h2>10. Auto Lease vs. Buy Calculator</h2> <p>You can lease the same vehicle for a significantly lower monthly payment than buying a vehicle, sometimes about half as much. However, you don't get to keep the vehicle after the lease ends. Are you better off buying a vehicle or leasing? Check out your options with a lease versus buy calculator: <a href="http://www.cars.com/go/advice/financing/calc/loanLeaseCalc.jsp?mode=full">Auto Lease vs. Buy Calculator</a></p> <h2>11. Drive vs. Fly Calculator</h2> <p>It is often a difficult decision whether to drive or fly on a trip. Driving can be less expensive than flying, but the cost of additional meals, hotel stays, and time for a driving trip can make flying the less expensive option. Use a drive versus fly calculator to make sure you are factoring in all of the expenses when making your travel plans: <a href="http://www.travelmath.com/fly-or-drive/">Drive vs. Fly Calculator</a></p> <h2>12. Student Loan Payment Calculator</h2> <p>Is borrowing $80K in student loans to get a degree that will allow you to have a six-figure salary in a few short years a good idea? Use a student loan calculator to understand how much the payments on your student loan would be to help make an informed decision. Check this one from Sallie Mae: <a href="https://www.salliemae.com/plan-for-college/college-planning-toolbox/student-loan-payment-amount-estimator/">Student Loan Payment Calculator</a></p> <h2>13. College Value Calculator</h2> <p>How much is getting a college degree worth? Use a calculator to determine how much more money you could make during your career if you went ahead and got a college degree: <a href="http://www.myfico.com/CreditEducation/Calculators/what-is-the-value-of-higher-education.aspx">College Value Calculator</a></p> <h2>14. Pay Debt vs. Invest Calculator</h2> <p>Would you be better off paying off debts first before starting to invest, or should you start investing right away? The answer depends on the interest rates on your debt and the return you expect to make on your investments or savings account. Use a calculator to check the numbers and decide where to focus any extra dollars you have available: <a href="http://www.myfico.com/crediteducation/calculators/should-i-pay-off-debt-or-invest-in-savings.aspx">Pay Debt vs. Invest Calculator</a></p> <h2>15. Cost of Living Calculator</h2> <p>If you are thinking about relocating to take a job or for retirement, check out the impact of moving on your cost of living. You can compare expense categories in your current city with other cities, and see an overall expense rating. This information is useful to determine how much more &mdash; or less &mdash; money you would need to spend to live somewhere else: <a href="http://www.bestplaces.net/cost-of-living/">Cost of Living Calculator</a></p> <p><em>What personal finance calculator is most useful for you?</em></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/15-personal-finance-calculators-everyone-should-use">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/9-financial-moves-you-will-always-regret">9 Financial Moves You Will Always Regret</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/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-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-things-you-need-to-know-about-credit-scores">5 Things You Need to Know About 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/the-fed-raised-rates-then-something-weird-happened">The Fed Raised Rates — Then Something Weird Happened</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/why-you-should-consider-an-adjustable-rate-mortgage">Why You Should Consider an Adjustable-Rate Mortgage</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Banking calculators cost of living debt interest rates investing loans mortgages retirement student loans Thu, 09 Jun 2016 10:00:10 +0000 Dr Penny Pincher 1727205 at http://www.wisebread.com Never Borrow Money for These 5 Buys http://www.wisebread.com/never-borrow-money-for-these-5-buys <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/never-borrow-money-for-these-5-buys" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/friends_boat_ride_000021453043.jpg" alt="Friends talking about what they should never borrow money for" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>While there is a time and a place for credit &mdash; most of us won't ever be able to pay cash for a home, a college education, or even a car &mdash; there are also times when it should be avoided, at all costs.</p> <p>It's difficult to delay gratification. It doesn't help that there's always a credit card or personal loan application in the mail. Still, there are certain times when it absolutely does not make sense to borrow money to make a purchase. For these big ticket items, think hard before you swipe your card or apply for that credit line. (See also:&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-ways-pride-is-keeping-you-poor?ref=seealso" target="_blank">7 Ways Pride Is Keeping You Poor</a>)</p> <h2>1. A Boat</h2> <p>Depending on the boat purchased, a payment could equal the cost of a new car payment or &mdash; for a more luxurious option &mdash; the cost of a mortgage. At the same time, <a href="http://www.boatus.com/boatloans/">current boat loan rates</a> range from about 4.5% for a $350,000 boat to as high as 6.25% for a $25,000 boat. That means that over a 15-year term, a modest $25,000 boat could end up costing $38,584. That's $13,584 more than the original sticker price.</p> <p>When it comes to boating, though, the cost of the vessel is often the cheapest part of ownership. Additional costs to consider are state taxes, slip fees, winter storage, registration and licensing, fuel, insurance, and maintenance. Mint recently estimated the annual cost of a $20,000 boat upkeep at $4,300 per year or $358 per month.</p> <h2>2. Your Wedding</h2> <p>Getting married is one of the most exciting times in a young person's life, and yet&hellip; many don't fully realize all the costs that come after embarking on a new life together. Not everyone makes the same life choices, of course, but houses, children, college tuition, retirement accounts, and even new cars are expensive life items that many new couples choose to buy or fund as they build their lives together.</p> <p>Starting a journey together with a pricey loan with a high interest rate is an expensive way to handicap yourself as you work to build a financially stable life together. When planning a wedding, it can be helpful to remember that it's just a big party. You'll have the memories when it's over, but it's the foundation that the marriage is built upon that's really most important. And that doesn't cost a dime.</p> <h2>3. Jewelry</h2> <p>High-end jewelry like engagement rings or tennis bracelets are expensive enough without adding in the financing costs. It may seem like good news that many jewelry stores are willing to help defray the costs by offering zero interest if the purchase is paid off within six or 12 months (depending on the store) but beware, there's usually a catch.</p> <p>Miss one payment or fail to pay off the balance before the due date and, for most of the stores, interest will become due for the <em>entire </em>original balance &mdash; and it's usually at a rate that's somewhere between 23% and 29%. That means that a $5,200 ring (the average wedding ring cost) could end up costing an additional $1,461 in interest payments alone, assuming a 25% interest rate and a two-year term.</p> <h2>4. Furniture and Consumer Electronics</h2> <p>Store issued credit cards are common upsells at the cash register and, if you're buying a big ticket item like a new sofa or flat screen TV, it's easy to be tempted by the seemingly attractive financing terms. What many credit consumers don't realize is that store cards typically work in a similar way as jewelry financing, as described above.</p> <p>The offer may state 12-months, zero APR (or 12-months, same as cash), but miss a payment and you'll reset the clock, finding yourself responsible for interest payments from the date of purchase, not from the date when the payment was missed. For a $4,000 furniture purchase, a missed payment could add $1,400 in interest to the bill, assuming a 24.99% interest rate and a 24-month term. In other words, that financed furniture (or computer or refrigerator or&hellip; well, you get the idea) could end up costing you a lot more than you expected.</p> <h2>5. Vacation</h2> <p>Most vacations last a week or less but, if you take out a personal loan or swipe a credit card to fund the getaway, it won't just be the memories that last a lifetime. Earlier this year, MarketWatch determined that you could <a href="http://www.marketwatch.com/story/how-long-does-it-take-to-clear-a-2000-credit-card-with-minimum-payments-2015-07-07">raise a child from infancy</a> to adulthood before you could repay a $2,000 credit card balance with a 18% annual rate, if you're making just the monthly minimum payment. That's 30 years in repayment, based on their analysis, and an extra $4,931 in interest payments.</p> <p>For many purchases, buying on credit can cause a lot of financial strain. Before you buy, it's important to understand the full cost of the purchase, including the cost of credit. Most times, you'd be much better served by saving up, instead of swiping your card. Think before you borrow. Your wallet will thank you.</p> <p><em>What purchases do you refuse to make on credit?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/alaina-tweddale">Alaina Tweddale</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/never-borrow-money-for-these-5-buys">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-6"> <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/15-surprising-ways-bad-credit-can-hurt-you">15 Surprising Ways Bad Credit Can Hurt 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/4-purchases-with-financing-options-that-depreciate-fast">4 Purchases With Financing Options That Depreciate Fast</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/how-much-engagement-ring-can-you-actually-afford">How Much Engagement Ring Can You Actually Afford?</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/insights-from-the-worlds-9-most-frugal-cultures">Insights From the World&#039;s 9 Most Frugal Cultures</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/best-of-personal-finance-credit-where-credit-is-due-edition">Best of Personal Finance: Credit Where Credit Is Due Edition</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance Budgeting bad money moves boats borrowing money credit history debt furniture interest jewelry loans travel weddings Tue, 24 May 2016 10:00:10 +0000 Alaina Tweddale 1711683 at http://www.wisebread.com 8 Things I Learned About Money After Getting Married http://www.wisebread.com/8-things-i-learned-about-money-after-getting-married <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/8-things-i-learned-about-money-after-getting-married" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/married_couple_game_000017059049.jpg" alt="Learning things about money after getting married" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Marriage comes with its fair share of life lessons, and money is among the most prominent of these. Here's what I've <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-ways-getting-married-is-good-for-your-finances" target="_blank">learned about money while being married</a> &mdash; for better and worse.</p> <h2>1. Credit Scores and Debt Should Be Laid Bare While You're Still Dating</h2> <p>Money is a taboo subject, in general, and couples &mdash; especially new ones who are still navigating the muddy waters of a blossoming relationship &mdash; don't like to talk about the financial predicaments they may be in. But these conversations are necessary.</p> <p>My husband and I were sort of forced into the conversation as we bought our first home before we got married, but even if that's not on the horizon for you and your partner, it's still good to assess the <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-ways-to-increase-your-credit-score-quickly" target="_blank">credit score and debt</a> situation so you both know what you're dealing with. That's not to say that you should dump somebody because their financial standing isn't as great as you might have hoped it would be, but it's certainly a factor to consider as you plan your life together.</p> <h2>2. Discuss Future Financial and Investment Goals Before Saying &quot;I Do&quot;</h2> <p>Before I got married I had plans for my future, but those plans changed (at least a little) when I decided to get hitched. I adapted my strategy to accommodate my husband &mdash; but I didn't derail it altogether, and I don't recommend that you do either. It's about compromise &mdash; it's beneficial to discuss your specific plans and goals ahead of your nuptials. Your partner may not want to open that new business, or carry the potential financial burden that comes along with it. On the other hand, your spouse may be totally on board with how you've mapped out your financial future and/or investments, and vice-versa. But you won't know until you discuss it.</p> <p>Lay it all out on the table before getting anywhere near the altar so you each have a clear idea of where your relationship is headed financially (in theory, at least) once you're joined in holy &mdash; and legally binding &mdash; matrimony.</p> <h2>3. Schedule Uninterrupted Time to Discuss Your Finances in Depth</h2> <p>The only way my husband and I stay on the same page about our finances &mdash; and, specifically, the money that's coming in and going out on a constant basis &mdash; is to schedule time to discuss where we're at financially. We usually have a dinner date once a month where at least part of the conversation is about our budget, expenses, debt, and increases or decreases in expected income.</p> <p>We also have an annual meeting at the end of the year to discuss what we anticipate the next year's expenses to be, and how we plan to meet them. While it's not easy integrating another person into the mix financially &mdash; and it can sometimes be stressful for you if you've overspent or missed a bill and you don't want it to result in an argument &mdash; it's needed so that you can both stay on track and repair snags together.</p> <h2>4. Keep Your Family Out of Your Finances &mdash; Period</h2> <p>In a perfect world, we'd all be rich and nobody would want for anything. That's not the case, however, and sometimes family and friends come knocking for a loan. My general rule is to not provide this type of financial support to anyone, as it rarely turns out well &mdash; and most people will tell you that. My husband, on the other hand, views this subject differently, and there's been at least one time where there was zero discussion about providing the loan to a family member, and I didn't find out about it until after the fact.</p> <p>I wasn't particularly bothered by the amount of the loan or to whom it went &mdash; it was his money and he could do what he wanted with it &mdash; but rather that I wasn't included in the conversation. Even though I wasn't contributing to this particular loan, it could have affected our ability to purchase or finance something we needed down the road, and I felt as if I had the right to be informed.</p> <h2>5. You're Morally and Legally Obligated to Help One Another Financially</h2> <p>Whether you like it or not, whatever happens to your spouse financially also, in a sense, happens to you. This could mean a moral obligation to get out of whatever money pickle you may have gotten into, or, worst-case scenario, it could be a legal obligation, like if you file joint taxes and owe the government money. The IRS debt may be the result of one or the other's financial status &mdash; like if you have taxes taken out automatically each pay period from employment, but your spouse is an entrepreneur (like I am) who pays estimated taxes &mdash; but legally you're both on the hook for the debt. Not being prepared for this situation, or how to handle it responsibly and fairly, can lead to resentment and loads of other issues that you're better off without.</p> <h2>6. Keeping Separate Accounts Can Help Maintain Some Independence</h2> <p>My husband and I keep a joint account for shared purchases, like vacations, but we've also always maintained our own separate checking and savings accounts. For some couples this may seem odd, but for us it's helped us keep a part of our individual independence intact. While we consult each other on major purchases, we don't have to ask one another if we can buy some of the smaller things or little luxuries that we want, which in turn helps us to avoid nitpicking each other about things we don't think the other one should be buying.</p> <p>I can only imagine how couples who co-mingle all their money argue about how many coffees or beers each is buying per week, the 19th pair of new shoes she's bought this year, or the new video game he brought home. The bottom line for us is that the bills get paid and we're still able to save; we're allowed to treat ourselves every now and then without having to ask permission or fear retribution.</p> <h2>7. Debt Can Destroy Your Relationship &mdash; If You Let It</h2> <p>A few years ago I discovered a substantial amount of debt that my husband racked up, and I was completely gutted over the situation. How, why, when, where? So many questions went through my mind, not the least of which was, how are we going to pay this off? I was lucky in that regard as my husband took full responsibility for it and promised to pay it off himself &mdash; and he has. But it may not work out like that for everyone.</p> <p>If your partner isn't capable of paying off the debt, you, in fact, may be responsible for it too if it's attached to a joint credit card or another joint account. When that happens, it will likely put a major strain on your relationship. Old debt is one thing, but new debt &mdash; that is, debt acquired singularly by one partner while you're in the relationship &mdash; has a much more damaging and lasting effect. We were able to get past this and get back on track, but it's not easy. It definitely puts stress on the marriage, which can further worsen an already rocky relationship.</p> <h2>8. Money Doesn't Buy Happiness</h2> <p>All the houses, nice cars, designer clothes, and luxury goods in the world will not make you happy in a relationship you don't want to be in. When you're sitting among all your beautiful things and you wonder why you seemingly have everything but still aren't satisfied, you need to look beyond the bling. There's a deeper issue for which you're trying to compensate. Talk about it; make decisions. Your mental health is worth more than what's in your bank account &mdash; always. Remember that.</p> <p><em>What has marriage taught you about money?</em></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/8-things-i-learned-about-money-after-getting-married">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/3-simple-ways-to-split-bills-with-your-spouse">3 Simple Ways to Split Bills With Your Spouse</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/make-love-not-money-sort-of">Make Love, Not Money (Sort Of)</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-money-moves-to-make-the-moment-you-decide-to-get-married">5 Money Moves to Make the Moment You Decide to Get Married</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/4-bad-money-habits-youre-teaching-your-kids">4 Bad Money Habits You&#039;re Teaching Your Kids</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/8-signs-youre-committing-financial-infidelity">8 Signs You&#039;re Committing Financial Infidelity</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance Family Lifestyle budget meetings compromises credit scores debt marriage money lessons relationships spouses Tue, 24 May 2016 09:30:21 +0000 Mikey Rox 1716048 at http://www.wisebread.com 7 Signs It's Time to Break Up With Your Credit Cards http://www.wisebread.com/7-signs-its-time-to-break-up-with-your-credit-cards <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/7-signs-its-time-to-break-up-with-your-credit-cards" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/credit_card_dollar_000079523783.jpg" alt="Man learning signs it&#039;s time to break up with his credit cards" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Just as unresolved conflicts can lead to a breakup in a relationship, there are signs of credit card misuse that should signal it's time to break up with your credit cards &mdash; at least for awhile.</p> <p>Here are seven signs to look out for.</p> <h2>1. You Can Only Afford the Minimum Payment</h2> <p>Prioritizing bills isn't easy. After paying the rent, grocery, water and electricity bills, and other basic necessities of life, it can be difficult to pay off a credit card bill, too. If you can only afford the minimum payment on the credit card, then you probably have some spending problems.</p> <p>Making only the minimum payment on a credit card will keep your account up to date and in good standing, and that's a good start. But it will take years to knock down the balance, and even longer if you continue charging purchases on the card.</p> <p>Here's an example: If you owe $5,000 on a credit card at 18% interest, paying the minimum amount due each month (assuming 3% of balance) will take you <strong>over 16 years</strong> to pay it off. Along with paying the $5,000 principal, you'll have paid $4,698.46 in interest. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-best-low-interest-rate-credit-cards?utm_source=wisebread&amp;utm_medium=seealso&amp;utm_campaign=cc_article">Best Credit Cards with Low Interest Rates</a>)</p> <p>If instead you pay $200 each month, that will cut down the repayment time to under 3 years, at which point you&rsquo;d have paid $1,313.96 in interest.</p> <h2>2. You Play the Transfer Balance Shell Game</h2> <p>One way to get out of paying interest on a credit card balance is to <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/when-to-do-a-balance-transfer-to-pay-off-credit-card-debt?utm_source=wisebread&amp;utm_medium=internal&amp;utm_campaign=cc_article">transfer it to a 0% APR balance transfer card</a>. You can save thousands of dollars in interest, but usually only for one year during the introductory period. After that, you're back to paying interest again.</p> <p>If you're constantly moving credit card balances to <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-best-0-balance-transfer-credit-cards?utm_source=wisebread&amp;utm_medium=internal&amp;utm_campaign=cc_article">0% APR cards</a> so you can avoid paying interest, it's a sign your credit card spending is out of control.</p> <p>It's one thing if you're using that year of no interest payments to pay off a credit card. But if you're still running up the balance, you're getting nowhere in paying off the debt. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-you-must-know-before-transferring-credit-card-balances?utm_source=wisebread&amp;utm_medium=seealso&amp;utm_campaign=cc_article">What You Must Know Before Making a Balance Transfer</a>)</p> <h2>3. You're Maxed Out</h2> <p>Your credit cards have credit limits, and if you're close to those limits it can be difficult to extend more credit when you really need it &mdash; such as in an emergency.</p> <p>Maxing out your credit cards can also hurt your credit score because 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=cc_article">credit utilization ratio</a> &mdash; the percentage of available credit being used &mdash; should be under 30% for a top credit score.</p> <h2>4. You Make Impulse Buys on Credit</h2> <p>Credit cards are easy to pull out of a wallet or purse to pay for anything, from a candy bar or drink to a down payment on a new car. If you're using credit cards to buy anything you want whenever you see it, such as a sweater you see in a store window or an ice cream cone on a hot day out, then you're more likely to rack up debt faster without realizing it.</p> <p>Paying cash for such purchases can help you control spending. If you don't have the cash on you, then you won't be able to make the impulse buy when it pops up.</p> <h2>5. You Buy Things You Can't Afford</h2> <p>Along with impulse buys, credit card users can get in over their heads in debt by charging every expense &mdash; including ones they can't really afford.</p> <p>If you're using cash to buy groceries, for example, you're less likely to get that extra box of cookies if you don't have enough money with you. But with a credit card, the sky's the limit. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-best-5-credit-cards-for-groceries?utm_source=wisebread&amp;utm_medium=seealso&amp;utm_campaign=cc_article">Credit Cards That Offer Cash Back for Groceries</a>)</p> <h2>6. You Hide Debt From Your Spouse</h2> <p>If getting the mail makes you anxious because your spouse may see your credit card bill, you have a debt problem and need to tackle it <em>together</em>.</p> <p>Hiding debt from your spouse can also hurt your relationship, so working together on this can solve two problems simultaneously.</p> <h2>7. You Have Credit Cards From Every Store</h2> <p>Store-branded credit cards can be enticing at the checkout counter. They often offer discounts of 20% or more on purchases that day, and approval is almost automatic.</p> <p>But they also have high interest rates of up to 29%, setting you up for more interest payments if you don't pay the balance in full each month. Store credit cards also offer an easy excuse to go shopping. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/store-credit-cards-that-dont-suck?utm_source=wisebread&amp;utm_medium=seealso&amp;utm_campaign=cc_article">Store Credit Cards That Don&rsquo;t Suck</a>)</p> <p>And since a store's credit card can only be used at the issuing business &mdash; you can only use a Nordstrom card at Nordstrom stores, for example &mdash; you'll need credit cards from every store you shop at if you want to take advantage of the deals they offer.</p> <h2>What to Do</h2> <p>There are things you can do if you spot any of the above signs in your financial life. To recap, here are a few things to try before using your credit cards again:</p> <ul> <li>Seek credit counseling. The Federal Trade Commission offers advice on how to find a <a href="https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0153-choosing-credit-counselor">reputable credit counseling agency</a>.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Put your credit cards away and pay with cash only.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Pay more than the minimum on your credit cards and tackle the debt.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Ask your credit card company for a lower rate.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Transfer balances to a 0% APR card and work on paying off the principal within a year.</li> </ul> <p><em>Have you ever broken up with your credit cards? How long was the split?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/aaron-crowe">Aaron Crowe</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-signs-its-time-to-break-up-with-your-credit-cards">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/6-moves-to-make-before-cutting-up-your-credit-card">6 Moves to Make Before Cutting Up Your 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/the-dirty-secrets-of-credit-cards">The Dirty Secrets of Credit Cards</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/i-dont-love-capital-one-how-to-get-a-lower-apr-or-possibly-not">How to Get a Lower APR, or Possibly Not</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/is-a-balance-transfer-offer-a-good-deal">Is a Balance Transfer Offer a Good Deal?</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/10-credit-card-truths-you-wish-you-could-tell-your-younger-self">10 Credit Card Truths You Wish You Could Tell Your Younger Self</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Credit Cards APR balance transfers debt high interest rates minimum monthly payments overspending paying cash Fri, 20 May 2016 10:30:08 +0000 Aaron Crowe 1713706 at http://www.wisebread.com 5 Unfounded Credit Card Fears http://www.wisebread.com/5-unfounded-credit-card-fears <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5-unfounded-credit-card-fears" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/000014443696.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Credit cards get plenty of bad press. Scan the web and you'll find countless stories of consumers who've run up thousands of dollars of high-interest rate debt, fallen behind on their monthly payments, and destroyed their credit scores.</p> <p>But credit cards, if used responsibly, are important financial tools. They're safer than cash. They can actually <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=cc_article">help you build your credit score</a>. They often come with valuable rewards programs. And you won't have to worry about those high interest rates if you're disciplined enough to charge only what you can afford to pay back each month.</p> <p>Are unfounded fears keeping you from using credit cards? If so, it's time to stop. Here are five credit card fears that have been overblown, and the truths that debunk them.</p> <h2>1. Credit Cards Will Ruin My Credit Score</h2> <p>True, lenders rely on your FICO (and other) credit scores to determine if you qualify for loans. They also use these scores to set the interest rates attached to your loans. Credit scores are important. It's natural for consumers to worry that charging too much will send their scores plummeting. But the truth is, using credit cards responsibly will actually boost your credit score.</p> <h3>The Truth</h3> <p>Every time you pay your credit card bill on time, you are helping your credit score. According to <a href="http://myfico.7eer.net/c/27771/93942/2185">myFICO.com</a>, 35% of your credit score is made up of your payment history. Establish a history of paying your bills on time, and you'll be on your way to building a good credit score. Just be careful to not carry a large balance on your card each month. First, you'll pay too much in interest. Secondly, using too much of your available credit will <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-surprising-ways-to-negatively-affect-your-credit-score?utm_source=wisebread&amp;utm_medium=internal&amp;utm_campaign=cc_article">hurt your credit score</a>.</p> <h2>2. I'll Pay a Ton in Interest</h2> <p>It's true that if you misuse your credit card, you will pay plenty in interest. It's not unusual for credit cards to come with interest rates of 19% or higher. If you carry a large balance each month, your interest charges will skyrocket. But again, if you use your credit card wisely, you'll have nothing to fear from high interest rates. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-best-low-interest-rate-credit-cards?utm_source=wisebread&amp;utm_medium=seealso&amp;utm_campaign=cc_article">Best Low Interest Rate Credit Cards</a>)</p> <h3>The Truth</h3> <p>Credit cards work best for people who pay off their balances in full each month. If you do this, your credit card's interest rate won't matter because you won't ever pay interest on your debt. You only pay interest when you don't pay off your balance in full with every statement. If you do find yourself carrying an ever-growing balance each month, though, it's time to stop using your card and focus on paying down that debt.</p> <h2>3. Someone Will Steal My Card and Run Up Tons of Debt</h2> <p>It's true that thieves can steal your credit cards. They might also steal your card's information and use it to make online purchases. But credit cards are actually safer than cash.</p> <h3>The Truth</h3> <p>Consumers, if they report their card stolen or lost in a timely fashion, aren't responsible for unauthorized charges on their credit cards. If someone steals your card and charges thousands of dollars, you can dispute the illegal purchases and your credit card company won't charge you for them. Under federal law, you won't be responsible for any fraudulent charges if you report your card stolen or lost before any charges are made on it. If you report your card stolen or lost within two business days and charges have already been made, you are only responsible for a maximum of $50 worth of those fraudulent purchases, though most credit card providers will waive even that.</p> <p>Compare that to cash: If someone steals $100 from your wallet, that money is likely gone forever.</p> <h2>4. Applying for Credit Cards Will Hurt My Credit Score</h2> <p>Your credit score will take a small hit when you apply for new credit. That's because whenever you apply for a new credit card, what is known as a hard inquiry is added to your three credit reports. A hard inquiry hurts your score because every time you take on a new line of credit, you are exposing yourself to the possibility of running up debt that you can't afford. But the reality is, the damage from applying for credit cards prudently, is minimal.</p> <h3>The Truth</h3> <p>If you apply for a single credit card, that hard inquiry will typically drop your FICO credit score by about five points. That's not much, and it won't take long for that small dip to disappear. Keep paying your bills on time and don't run up credit card debt, and that five-point loss will evaporate. But if you apply for, say, six credit cards at the same time? That can cause a bigger drop in your credit scores. So apply prudently: Don't fill out more than one credit card application at a time.</p> <h2>5. I'm Worried That I'll End Up in Jail if I Can't Pay</h2> <p>There is no such thing as debtor's prison in the United States. Even so, consumers might fear that if they can't pay their credit card bills, they'll end up in jail. This simply isn't true.</p> <h3>The Truth</h3> <p>The only way credit card debt can send you to jail is if you willingly commit fraud. Otherwise, no matter how much you owe, you won't spend time behind bars. No matter what creditors say, you can't be jailed for credit card debt. That doesn't mean, however, that you won't face consequences if you can't pay your credit card bills. For instance, your credit card company might be able to garnish your wages as a way to force you to pay up.</p> <p><em>Do you harbor any of these &mdash; or other &mdash; credit card fears?</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/5-unfounded-credit-card-fears">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/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-2 views-row-even"> <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> <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/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-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-moves-to-make-before-cutting-up-your-credit-card">6 Moves to Make Before Cutting Up Your Credit Card</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-signs-its-time-to-break-up-with-your-credit-cards">7 Signs It&#039;s Time to Break Up With Your Credit Cards</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Credit Cards credit card theft credit score debt fico high interest rates jail myths Wed, 18 May 2016 09:30:25 +0000 Dan Rafter 1712216 at http://www.wisebread.com 5 Moves to Make If Your Loan Gets Denied http://www.wisebread.com/5-moves-to-make-if-your-loan-gets-denied <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5-moves-to-make-if-your-loan-gets-denied" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/loan_application_rejected_000011809531.jpg" alt="Learning moves to make if your loan gets denied" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>You needed an auto loan to finance that new convertible. Or maybe you applied for a mortgage loan to buy your dream home. Whatever type of loan you needed, the answer was the same: A big &quot;no&quot; from your lender.</p> <p>Lenders reject loan applications for a variety of reasons, but two stand out: Borrowers either have a low credit score, or they're already paying off too much debt each month.</p> <p>Fortunately, you can take simple steps to strengthen your finances and turn that loan rejection into an approval. Here are five moves to make after your loan gets rejected to qualify for that financing:</p> <h2>1. Order Your Credit Score</h2> <p>Your FICO credit scores are key when you're applying for a loan. You have three of them, one each generated by the national credit bureaus of TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax. These scores tell lenders how well you've managed your credit in the past. If you have a history of paying your bills late, running up credit card debt, and missing payments altogether, your FICO scores will be weak. Lenders consider a FICO score of 740 or higher to be a strong one. But if your score is too low &mdash; say, under 640 &mdash; you'll struggle to qualify for loans. And when you do qualify for a loan, you'll have to pay a higher interest rate.</p> <p>Before you re-apply for a loan after a rejection, order at least one of your FICO credit scores. Lenders are also required to provide you with a copy of your score if that&rsquo;s the reason you were denied the loan.</p> <h2>2. Order Your Credit Reports</h2> <p>You should also order all three of your credit reports, maintained by each of the credit bureaus. These reports list your personal information and detail your history of managing credit. They show how much you owe on credit cards and other loans, and any missed or late payments from the last seven years. They'll also list any negative judgments, such as bankruptcies or foreclosures that are up to seven or 10 years old, respectively. You can order each of your three credit reports once a year for free at AnnualCreditReport.com.</p> <p>Once you receive your reports, check them for mistakes. A single mistake on a credit report can send your credit score tumbling. If your report lists a missed car payment that you know you made on time, correct the error by contacting the offending credit bureau through email or by phone. Correcting an error can provide a quick boost to your credit score. Make sure, though, that you can provide documentation, such as a credit card statement or bank account record, proving that you actually did pay the &quot;missed&quot; payment on time.</p> <h2>3. Pay All Your Bills on Time</h2> <p>The best way to boost a weak credit score is to start a new history of paying all your bills on time. Your bill-payment history accounts for 35% of your credit score, according to <a href="http://myfico.7eer.net/c/27771/93942/2185">myFICO.com</a>. Paying your bills on time will cause your score to rise. But this takes patience. Depending on how weak your score is, it might take you several months, or even more than a year, to boost your score to a level acceptable to lenders.</p> <h2>4. Reduce Your Monthly Debt</h2> <p>Lenders often reject loans when borrowers' debt-to-income ratios are too high. In general, lenders want your total monthly debts &mdash; including the estimated amount you'll be paying each month for your new loan &mdash; to equal no more than 43% of your gross monthly income. If your debt-to-income ratio is higher than this, you'll greatly increase the odds of receiving a rejection on your loan application.</p> <p>The easiest way to improve a debt-to-income ratio that is too high is to pay off as much of your debts as possible. Usually, this means reducing credit card debt. Paying off the amount you owe on your cards will slowly but steadily cause your debt-to-income ratio to fall.</p> <h2>5. Keep Paid-Off Credit Cards Open</h2> <p>Say you pay off a credit card entirely and you no longer plan on using it. You should close that account, right? No. Never close unused credit cards. Cards with zero balances can actually help your credit score.</p> <p>That's because lenders look at 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>. This ratio looks at how much of your available credit you are using. The lower this ratio, the better. Closing an unused credit card will instantly hurt this ratio.</p> <p>Say you have four credit cards, each with a credit limit of $4,000 for an available credit of $16,000. Say, too, that you have $5,000 worth of credit card debt. That comes out to a credit-utilization ratio of about 31%, $5,000 divided into $16,000. But say you close one of your four cards. That reduces your available credit to $12,000. Your debt-utilization ratio immediately jumps to about 42%, $5,000 divided into $12,000.</p> <p>It's okay to keep a paid-off credit card in your wallet. Just make sure that you don't run up another hefty balance on it.</p> <p><em>Have you ever had a loan app denied? What did you do after?</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/5-moves-to-make-if-your-loan-gets-denied">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/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-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/15-surprising-ways-bad-credit-can-hurt-you">15 Surprising Ways Bad Credit Can Hurt You</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-things-most-likely-to-give-you-lousy-credit">5 Things Most Likely to Give You Lousy Credit</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-botch-up-then-peddle-back-to-good-credit">How to Botch Up, Then Peddle Back to Good Credit</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-easy-ways-to-raise-your-credit-score-this-year">7 Easy Ways to Raise Your Credit Score This Year</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance applications bad credit building credit credit score debt denied fico line of credit loans rejection Tue, 17 May 2016 09:00:04 +0000 Dan Rafter 1709596 at http://www.wisebread.com You're Wasting Up to $42,532 by Not Investing Your Gasoline Savings http://www.wisebread.com/youre-wasting-up-to-42532-by-not-investing-your-gasoline-savings <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/youre-wasting-up-to-42532-by-not-investing-your-gasoline-savings" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock_000074872237_Large.jpg" alt="she can invest the money she saves at the pump" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Gas prices are as low as they have been in a long time. In April 2016, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) forecasted that the average full price of regular grade gasoline will be lower in July 2016 (<a href="http://www.eia.gov/forecasts/steo/">$2.07 per gallon</a>) than at the same time last year ($2.79 per gallon).</p> <p>That means the average American will <a href="http://money.cnn.com/2016/02/10/news/economy/gas-savings/">save about $1,000</a> on gas this year. But unless you're banking those gas savings, you're wasting an opportunity to improve your financial situation. That's because money saved and invested compounds over time, and a mere $1000 could turn into tens of thousands, instead.</p> <p>Here is why you're wasting up to $42,532 by not making smart use of your gas savings.</p> <h2>Make an Investment</h2> <p>Among the best pieces of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-pieces-of-financial-wisdom-from-warren-buffett">financial wisdom from Warren Buffett</a> is, &quot;someone's sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.&quot; Whether it's by dining out more often or buying more clothes, spending that extra $1,000 per year instead of saving or investing it is a decision that your future self will regret dearly.</p> <p>Today is the best day to start an investment, even if it's with a small amount. If you were to invest $83.33 every month (about $1,000 a year) for 20 years in an online high-yield savings account with a 1% annual interest rate, you would have a total of $22,137.21 at the end of the 20-year period.</p> <p>With such a long-term investing period, you would do even better with alternate forms of investment. For example, if you were to make the same string of deposits in an investment account paying a 4% annual rate of return, your investment would be worth $30,418.19 at the end of the 20-year period.</p> <p>Of course, you would do best by putting that series of monthly $83.33 deposits in an exchange-traded fund (ETF), which is a marketable security tracking a market index, such as the S&amp;P 500 or Russell 2000 indexes. The <a href="http://www.investopedia.com/ask/answers/042415/what-average-annual-return-sp-500.asp">historical average annual return</a> for the S&amp;P 500, adjusted for inflation is around 7%. So, if you were to put $83.33 every month in an ETF tracking the S&amp;P 500 for 20 years, you would end up with $42,532.14 after 20 years before applicable fees or taxes.</p> <p>Making a consistent monthly deposit over a long period of time allows you to leverage the power of interest compounding, making the most of your gas savings.</p> <h2>Pay Down High-Interest Debt</h2> <p>Of course, you may want more immediate gratification with your gas savings. By using your gas savings to pay more than your minimum monthly payment on high interest credit cards, you can potentially save up to a few thousands of dollars every year.</p> <p>Let's assume that you have a total balance of $4,534 on a credit card with a 25.24% annual percentage rate (APR) and that your monthly minimum payment is $140.56. By making only the minimum payment, you wouldn't pay off the total card balance for 18 years, and would end up paying an estimated total of $12,592!</p> <p>By just increasing your monthly payment an extra $40.44 (about half of the estimated gas savings), you would pay off the credit card in only three years and save an estimated $6,081.</p> <p>Another reason to pay down those high-interest credit cards is that those interest payments aren't tax deductible. Unlike your interest payments on mortgages, home equity loans, and student loans, your interest payments on credit cards or auto loans offer no tax advantage.</p> <p>See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/when-to-do-a-balance-transfer-to-pay-off-credit-card-debt?ref=seealso">How to Use a Balance Transfer to Save on Credit Card Interest</a></p> <h2>The Bottom Line</h2> <p>Gas prices will eventually go back up. For now, the EIA predicts that the average retail price for U.S. regular grade gas will be around the $2 mark until December 2017. Make the most out of your gas savings for the next year by investing the extra cash or paying down your high-interest debt.</p> <p><em>What are other ways to make the most of your gasoline savings?</em></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/youre-wasting-up-to-42532-by-not-investing-your-gasoline-savings">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-11"> <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-money-moves-to-make-as-soon-as-you-conquer-debt">7 Money Moves to Make as Soon as You Conquer Debt</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-making-the-biggest-investment-risk-of-all">Are You Making the Biggest Investment Risk of All?</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/a-beginner-s-guide-to-investing-in-frontier-markets">A Beginner’s Guide to Investing in Frontier Markets</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/are-you-wasting-68000-on-gas">Are You Wasting $68,000 on Gas?</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/8-things-everyone-should-know-about-the-commodities-markets">8 Things Everyone Should Know About the Commodities Markets</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Investment compound interest debt ETFs gas prices price per gallon savings stock market Mon, 02 May 2016 09:30:25 +0000 Damian Davila 1700679 at http://www.wisebread.com Everything a First-Time Home Buyer Needs to Buy a House http://www.wisebread.com/everything-a-first-time-home-buyer-needs-to-buy-a-house <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/everything-a-first-time-home-buyer-needs-to-buy-a-house" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/couple_home_buyers_000062916622.jpg" alt="Couple learning what they need to buy a house" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>The number of people buying homes for the first time is falling, according to the most recent data from the National Association of Realtors.</p> <p>According to the association's 2015 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers report, only 32% of buyers in 2014 were purchasing a home for the first time. That's the second-lowest percentage of first-time buyers since the survey's start in 1981, beating out only 1987's survey, in which just 30% of all buyers were first-timers.</p> <p>However, this still means that plenty of first-timers are in the market today. And they are entering a housing market in which prices in major markets are continuing to rise.</p> <p>What do these buyers need to successfully land that first home? Here are five of the most important advantages that a first-time buyer can bring to the house hunt.</p> <h2>A Large Down Payment</h2> <p>Mortgage interest rates remain at historically low levels. According to Freddie Mac's Primary Mortgage Market Survey, the average interest rate on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage loan stood at 3.59% as of April 7. That's the lowest this figure has been in 2016.</p> <p>But to qualify for such a low rate, first-time buyers &mdash; and all buyers, really &mdash; will need a solid down payment. In general, the larger the down payment you can provide, the lower your mortgage interest rate will be.</p> <p>There's a reason for this: When you have more money invested in your home at the start, lenders believe that you'll be less likely to stop paying your mortgage should you run into financial challenges. This makes lending you mortgage money less of a risk. And when you're less of a risk, lenders don't need as high of an interest rate to protect themselves.</p> <p>Ideally, you can come up with a down payment of 20% of your home's purchase price. That's a lot of money, though; for a home costing $200,000, such a down payment would cost $40,000. Fortunately, you can still qualify for solid rates even with a down payment as low as 5% of your home's purchase price, if your other financials are strong.</p> <h2>A Good Credit Score</h2> <p>Your FICO credit score is a key number when buying a home. Lenders rely on this number to gauge how well you've handled credit and paid your bills in the past. In general, lenders consider a FICO credit score of 740 or higher to be a good one.</p> <p>Realtor.com reports that the average FICO credit score of approved mortgage borrowers stood at 718 during the last six months of 2015 and the first three of 2016. If your score is near that level, then, you should have a good chance of qualifying for a mortgage loan.</p> <p>The higher your score, the lower your interest rate will be. Getting to that 740 level isn't always easy. According to Realtor.com, the average U.S. adult with a credit score had a score of 695 during the last six months of 2015 and the first three of 2016.</p> <p>A host of factors determine your credit score. The <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/this-one-ratio-is-the-key-to-a-good-credit-score">key to a good score</a>, though, is relatively simple: Pay your bills on time every month, cut down your credit card debt, and never close a credit card account, even when you don't use it.</p> <h2>Plenty of Cash</h2> <p>You'll need plenty of cash to buy your first home. First-time buyers, in fact, typically need <em>more </em>available funds because unlike repeat buyers, they can't count on any cash from selling a home.</p> <p>You'll need cash for your down payment, of course. But you'll also need it for closing costs. Closing costs are the fees that lenders and other third-party sources, such as title companies, charge for closing your mortgage loan. Closing costs can vary, but in general they average about 2.5% of your home's purchase price.</p> <p>If you are buying a home that costs $180,000, you can expect to pay about $4,500 in closing costs.</p> <p>The good news? You can accept gifts from relatives or friends to cover your closing costs. The key, though, is that these gift funds have to truly be gifts. The person gifting you the dollars can't expect you to pay them back. Otherwise, your lender will count your gift as a loan, and that will boost your monthly debt obligations.</p> <h2>A Low Debt-to-Income Ratio</h2> <p>Your debt-to-income ratio is another key number when you're buying a home. As the name suggests, this ratio compares your monthly debt obligations with your gross monthly income. Lenders today want your total monthly debts, including your estimated new mortgage payment, to equal no more than 43% of your gross income.</p> <p>If your debt-to-income ratio is too high, you'll struggle to qualify for a mortgage. Lenders will worry that adding a mortgage payment to your already high debt obligations will boost the chances that you'll fall behind on your home-loan payments.</p> <h2>A Steady Income</h2> <p>Lenders prefer that you have a work history of at least two years at your current employer or, at the least, in your current field. Not having this history isn't usually a deal-breaker, but it can cause lenders to hesitate before approving you. And if you have any other financial challenges &mdash; high debts or a middling credit score, maybe &mdash; a shaky job history will increase your odds of a mortgage rejection.</p> <p>When you apply for a mortgage loan, you'll have to provide lenders with a signed letter from your employer stating your position and annual salary. Lenders want to make sure that your monthly income is high enough to support the addition of a mortgage payment.</p> <p><em>Anything we've overlooked? What else does a first-time buyer need to buy a home?</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/everything-a-first-time-home-buyer-needs-to-buy-a-house">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-5"> <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/5-reasons-you-shouldnt-buy-a-house-yet">5 Reasons You Shouldn&#039;t Buy a House (Yet)</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-things-you-need-to-know-when-renting-to-own-a-home">5 Things You Need to Know When Renting-to-Own a Home</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-reasons-why-youre-too-old-or-too-young-for-a-mortgage-loan">4 Reasons Why You&#039;re Too Old — Or Too Young — For a Mortgage Loan</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-is-private-mortgage-insurance-anyway">What Is Private Mortgage Insurance, Anyway?</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/5-things-lenders-look-for-in-a-loan-application">5 Things Lenders Look For in a Loan Application</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Real Estate and Housing credit score debt down payments first-time buyers mortgages new homeowners Thu, 28 Apr 2016 10:01:08 +0000 Dan Rafter 1697849 at http://www.wisebread.com What to Expect When You're Expecting a Huge Credit Card Bill http://www.wisebread.com/what-to-expect-when-youre-expecting-a-huge-credit-card-bill <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/what-to-expect-when-youre-expecting-a-huge-credit-card-bill" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_writing_bills_000083882473.jpg" alt="Woman learning what to expect with a huge credit card bill" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>You've been splurging the last few months &mdash; dining out, ordering online gifts, and booking a vacation you sorely need. And you put all of these purchases on your credit card.</p> <p>You know you won't be able to pay off this debt within a few months, but you've justified it by reasoning you <em>can </em>pay it off <em>very soon</em>. But these purchases you've made &mdash; well they couldn't wait until you could actually afford them.</p> <p>Maybe that's true. Maybe an unexpected but critical expense came up. Maybe everyone was booking flights for your family vacation and you had to commit. A little debt isn't going to kill your finances, right? Okay, so you'll just pay a little in interest.</p> <p>Unfortunately, it's likely to be more than a little interest &mdash; and there's a lot more at stake than paying more interest.</p> <p>Consider these financial challenges that you might not be expecting with a big credit card bill. You'll struggle with each of them until you <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/when-to-do-a-balance-transfer-to-pay-off-credit-card-debt">eliminate your credit card debt</a>.</p> <h2>Tons of Interest</h2> <p>The biggest problem with credit cards? All that interest you'll pay if you carry a balance each month. Say you owe $5,000 on your credit card at an interest rate of 16.5%. If you make a payment of $100 every month on that debt, it will take you 86 months, or more than seven years, to pay off that $5,000.</p> <p>Why so long? Because of interest. By paying just $100 a month, you'll pay an additional $3,517 in interest alone before you erase your debt. This means you'll pay a total of more than $8,500 to pay off $5,000 worth of charges.</p> <p>The lesson here is simple: The interest you'll pay is never worth the instant gratification of getting something when you can't afford it. It'll just start a never-ending cycle of not being able to afford the <em>next</em> thing you want because you're still trying to pay off that other thing you bought. If you must carry a balance for a period of time, pay as much as you can (not just the minimum) to avoid more interest piling on (interest gets calculated based on your daily balance so get it down as much as possible, as quickly as possible).</p> <p>Even better &mdash; if you know you'll have to make a large purchase but can't pay it off right away, get a credit card with a <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-best-credit-cards-with-0-apr-for-purchases">0% promotional APR for purchases</a>. That will buy you some time, but you still have to pay it off before the promotional period ends. If you already have a balance you're paying interest on, try a credit card with a <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-best-0-balance-transfer-credit-cards">0% APR for balance transfers</a>.</p> <h2>No More Grace Period</h2> <p>Most credit cards offer a grace period to pay off your purchases before they charge interest. Pay off your balance during this grace period and you're golden &mdash; you've borrowed money for free, and perhaps even made a little if you used a <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-best-cash-back-credit-cards">cash back credit card</a>. But when you leave a balance, you'll not only get hit with interest for those purchases, you lose your grace period on all future purchases. Meaning, the minute a charge gets through, interest can start accruing.</p> <p>It'll take several billing cycles before your grace period is reinstated, so make sure you don't lose it in the first place.</p> <h2>A Lower Credit Score</h2> <p>If you have too much credit card debt, your credit score will suffer. That's because lenders consider you more of a risk to not pay back your debts when you are saddled with high amounts of credit card debt.</p> <p>Something called your <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/this-one-ratio-is-the-key-to-a-good-credit-score">credit-utilization ratio is a key factor</a> here. If you use too much of your available credit, your credit score will drop. For instance, if you have $20,000 worth of credit available to you and you owe a total of $17,000 on your credit card accounts, you have a credit utilization ratio that is far too high. A high ratio will drop your credit score.</p> <p>You may not think much about your credit score until you need it. If you're hoping to buy a house, a car, or even a new job, your credit score may determine whether you get it or not.</p> <p>(See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/this-one-ratio-is-the-key-to-a-good-credit-score?ref=seealso">15 Surprising Ways a Bad Credit Score Can Hurt You</a>)</p> <p>No matter how much credit available you have, it's never a good idea to use it all up at any one time. Spread out your purchases and pay them down quickly.</p> <h2>A High Debt-to-Income Ratio</h2> <p>In addition to your credit score, lenders rely on your debt-to-income ratio. This ratio examines the relationship between your monthly debts and your gross monthly income. Lenders factor in your minimum required monthly credit card payments as part of your debt obligations. If these minimum payments are high, it could throw your debt-to-income ratio out of whack.</p> <p>For instance, if you're applying for a mortgage loan, lenders want your monthly debts &mdash; including your estimated new mortgage payments &mdash; to equal no more than 43% of your gross monthly income. If your credit card payments push that ratio up past 43%, you might not qualify for that home loan.</p> <h2>Sky-High Interest Rates</h2> <p>With a large credit card debt and a low credit score, you can expect to pay higher interest rates on whatever loans &mdash; including auto and mortgage &mdash; for which you do qualify. Lenders charge higher rates to borrowers whom they deem higher risks. If your score is low &mdash; in part because of your huge credit card bill &mdash; get ready to be hit with interest rates higher than the market average.</p> <p>That's too bad. Higher rates can make a significant difference in the amount you pay each month on loans. Say you take out a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage loan of $200,000 to finance a new home. If your interest rate is 3.95%, you'll pay about $949 each month, not counting whatever you'll need to pay for homeowners insurance and property taxes.</p> <p>If you have a lower score your interest rate on the same loan could be more like 5.5%, which means you'll pay about $1,135 each month, again not including insurance and taxes.</p> <p>That's a difference of $186 each month or $2,232 a year, simply because you owe too much on your credit cards.</p> <h2>More Hurdles to Renting</h2> <p>Even if you don't want to finance a home or a new car, high credit card debt can cause problems. Say you want to rent an apartment, your possible landlord will run your credit. If this search turns up high credit card debt, a landlord might hesitate before leasing you an apartment. The landlord might worry that with all the debt you're already facing, you won't be able to pay your monthly rent on time.</p> <h2>Contain the Pain</h2> <p>The first step is to curtail spending, but if the horse is out of the barn, here are a few steps to take to minimize the sting.</p> <h3>1. Stop Digging</h3> <p>Stop spending more than you can pay off every month! You can't begin to chip away at your debt balance if you keep adding to it.</p> <h3>2. Pay More Than the Minimum</h3> <p>Paying the minimum maximizes the amount you pay in interest over time. Whittle away at your debt overhang by paying more of it off, whenever you can. Changes to the law a few years ago mean that any extra you pay will go toward the highest interest debt on the account.</p> <h3>3. Make Multiple Payments Per Month</h3> <p>You can ease the burn of bill paying day by breaking up your payments as your paychecks or income arrive. Since your interest charge is based on your daily balance, cutting down your balance whenever you have funds available, rather than waiting until the bill is due, can help reduce the interest you pay, too.</p> <p><em>Have you ever dreaded the arrival of a credit card bill? Did it change your behavior?</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/what-to-expect-when-youre-expecting-a-huge-credit-card-bill">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-6"> <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/avoid-these-5-common-mistakes-while-rebuilding-your-credit">Avoid These 5 Common Mistakes While Rebuilding Your Credit</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/6-moves-to-make-before-cutting-up-your-credit-card">6 Moves to Make Before Cutting Up Your 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/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/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-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <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> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Credit Cards bills credit history credit score debt debt to income ratio interest Wed, 27 Apr 2016 09:30:22 +0000 Dan Rafter 1696224 at http://www.wisebread.com 6 Money Moves to Make When You Move Back Home With Your Parents http://www.wisebread.com/6-money-moves-to-make-when-you-move-back-home-with-your-parents <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-when-you-move-back-home-with-your-parents" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/mother_and_daughter_000065344549.jpg" alt="Woman making money moves after moving back in with parents" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Somewhere between 30% and 50% of Millennials are currently <a href="http://time.com/4108515/millennials-live-at-home-parents/">living with their parents</a>. While there are a lot of different ways of thinking about this statistic, most of the folks I know who have had to move back home don't feel great about it.</p> <p>No matter how you frame it, moving home often feels like failure, at least at some point in the process. But if you make the right financial moves from the beginning, you ensure that the process is as painless as possible, and you set yourself up for financial success in the future.</p> <p>Whether you're moving home because you lost a job, can't find a job, or your job doesn't pay a living wage, take these steps as soon as you can. (See also:&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-ways-millennials-are-better-with-money-than-you-are?ref=seealso" target="_blank">7 Ways Millennials Are Better With Money Than You Are</a>)</p> <h2>1. Know the Financial Expectations</h2> <p>If possible, sit down with your parents before you move home and talk about your mutual financial expectations. Do your parents want you to pay rent? To buy your own groceries or contribute to a household budget? Will you pay any of the utilities while you're living there?</p> <p>Most people who move home continue to pay the bills that pertain only to them. This includes things like covering your own phone bill, health insurance premiums, and other, similar bills. Some people, though, find that going on their parents' cell phone plan, for instance, is cheaper than having their own.</p> <p>The point is to hash out these things before you move home and write them down. That way, everyone will be on the same page and it will be easy to ensure that everyone is holding up their end of the bargain. This also allows you to keep some measure of independence and feel more dignified about the whole thing, because you will be able to pay for as much of your own stuff as possible.</p> <h2>2. Set Goals and Make Plans</h2> <p>Moving home can feel like a dead end, but it doesn't have to actually be one. Most young people don't want to live with their parents long-term, which can be a relief both for you and your folks. Before you move in, or soon after doing so, decide how you want to proceed.</p> <p>This will depend a lot on your current situation. If you're carrying debt, you might want to focus on paying that off before you move out. Or you may want to land a job that pays more, or finish your education.</p> <p>Having goals will make you feel better about moving home, because you will be able to see your move as a step forward in your overall financial life, rather than a move backwards.</p> <p>Goals alone are not enough, though. Once you know where you're going, draw up a blueprint for how to get there. Decide which classes you're going to take, start making extra payments on that debt, or begin applying for jobs that meet your criteria.</p> <p>Not only will this empower you and move you forward, but it will help your parents see that you are a responsible adult, even though you moved back into your childhood bedroom.</p> <h2>3. Agree on Boundaries</h2> <p>While it will be important for you and your folks to hash through all sorts of boundaries, the ones I'm thinking of here are financial in nature. Unless you're in truly dire straights, decide that you will not borrow money from your parents. And even if they won't take your money for rent, find ways to contribute to the household. You can buy food, pay for meals out, purchase cleaning supplies and clean, etc.</p> <p>Let your parents know what boundaries you're setting. Let them know that you plan to clean the bathrooms every week, that you're available to run errands on the weekends, or that you don't need anything more from them than what has already been agreed upon.</p> <h2>4. Get a Job</h2> <p>This won't apply to folks moving home because they are underemployed but, for everyone else, this is not a free ride. The goal of moving home is to get yourself into a better financial place for later on, so you should be working.</p> <p>Even if the only job you can get is the one you had during high school, take it. Since you're at home, you probably don't need as much money as you would otherwise, and some income is always better than none. Working will also make you feel better about yourself, and will show both your parents and future employers that you are willing to do whatever it takes to move forward.</p> <h2>5. Pay Off Debt</h2> <p>If you have debt, start paying it off as soon as you can. Moving home can save you quite a bit of money and, instead of putting this toward your own pleasure, take steps to make your financial future brighter. Even if you only have student loans, start putting more towards them every month. A couple of extra payments now can mean huge savings in interest later!</p> <p>Paying off debt should probably be your first goal upon moving home. Make a concerted effort to pay off as much as possible, and you will feel better about your decision to not live on your own. Even if you have a crappy job, you should be able to make some extra payments when you're saving money on things like rent.</p> <h2>6. Start Saving</h2> <p>Don't have debt? Great! Start saving. If you're not spending money on rent, you should be putting it towards something useful, and an emergency fund (or a move-out-of-my-parents'-house fund) is a great way to feel good about your decision to move home.</p> <p>If you play your cards right, you can use your time living at home to get a nice little nest egg. That way, you'll be able to cover all of your moving expenses when you move out, and you'll have enough left over for other things that come up (like car problems, paying for a wedding, etc.).</p> <p>Moving home doesn't have to be a death sentence. Even if you feel like you've failed financially, these moves can set you up for future success. Take the long view and you will be happier with your decision.</p> <p><em>Why did you move home? What financial moves did you make when you did?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/sarah-winfrey">Sarah Winfrey</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-money-moves-to-make-when-you-move-back-home-with-your-parents">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-7"> <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/my-2016-budget-challenge-job-creation">My 2016 Budget Challenge: Job Creation</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/my-2016-budget-challenge-everything-breaks">My 2016 Budget Challenge: Everything Breaks</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/8-common-weekend-money-traps-and-how-to-avoid-them">8 Common Weekend Money Traps (And How to Avoid Them)</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/15-ways-to-save-money-when-getting-your-drink-on">15 Ways to Save Money When Getting Your Drink On</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-take-one-vacation-day-and-save-thousands">How to Take One Vacation Day and Save Thousands</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Frugal Living bills debt housing millennials moving back with parents saving money student loans Tue, 19 Apr 2016 09:30:29 +0000 Sarah Winfrey 1689032 at http://www.wisebread.com