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Better Credit Score

5 Strategies for a Better Credit Score

By | Credit Scores

When you’re committing to a healthier financial future, a good credit score should be one of the first areas you focus on. With a better credit score, you’ll qualify for more favorable loan terms and interest rates, which add up to substantial savings over time. Credit scores range from 300 to 850, with a score of 750 or higher generally considered excellent. Although the path to a higher credit score isn’t easy, you can set yourself up for success by adopting certain strategies. It’s worth noting that sound credit management is quite a bit like deciding to stick to a healthier lifestyle. You’re more likely to find success if you can implement these practices as “lifestyle changes,” rather than viewing the process as simply a temporary fix to your credit problems. Here are five of the most effective strategies to attain a higher credit score.

1. Pay down your monthly balances as much as you can.

Your payment history is one of the most important factors determining your credit score. So it’s a good idea to keep those credit card balances low. Your payments affect the percentage of revolving credit you have compared to what you’re actually using — and a low percentage is good for your overall score. Experts generally recommend keeping your percentage at or below 30%. So, for example, if a credit card has a limit of $1,000, you would not want a balance higher than $300 per month. And always make the minimum payment at the very least — if you can, try to set aside a few extra dollars to pay more than the minimum.

2. Stick to one or two cards.

If you have multiple balances across several different cards, look into consolidating them into one loan with a lower interest rate. Having multiple cards with balances will eventually lower your score. You should limit yourself to spending on only one or two cards (preferably with low interest and decent rewards and incentive packages). This strategy also carries the additional benefit of limiting the number of bills you’ll be responsible for paying every month.

3. Pay attention to all of your bills.

You might be surprised by what items affect your credit score — even down to an overdue fine on a library book. Paying your bills on time every month is an essential strategy in achieving a better credit score. Having a bill get sent to collections for lack of payment could send your score into a nosedive. If you can, try to set up all of your bills on auto-pay — and always pay the smaller fees, like those for library books or medical expenses, as soon as you receive the bill.

4. Spend within your means.

One of the biggest pitfalls that credit card users face is spending more than they can afford to pay back. Although it’s sometimes easier said than done, the trick is to start to view credit the same way as you would cash. If you’re thinking of purchasing something on credit that you can’t afford to buy right now with cash, the simple answer is to delay the purchase until you have the cash. If you find yourself frequently resorting to credit cards to cover unexpected expenditures, shop around for a card that offers low interest rates, so that if you end up having to pay for a larger expense over time, you will ultimately pay less interest.

5. Leave old “good” credit accounts open.

Many people make the mistake of closing accounts that they no longer use, mistakenly believing that too many open and unused accounts hurt their score. The fact is, the unused older accounts are actually quite beneficial to your credit. Don’t rush to close an account that’s paid off. That’s considered good credit, and lenders will look favorably on those items in your credit report. Closing an account could also change your credit utilization levels. If you close an account with a $1,000 limit, that’s significantly less available credit — which could make your debts look higher in comparison.

As part of your goal to get a better credit score, you’ll want to keep a close eye on your credit reports to ensure that no incorrect or outdated information is unfairly lowering your credit score. If you think you need to dispute something on your credit report, we can help. Contact the pros at Ovation Credit for a free consultation to learn how we can help you clean up your credit report.

Discuss Finances Before Marriage: 6 Things You Should Talk About

By | Personal Finance

You think you know everything about your fiancé? Think again. Before you get married, you and your future spouse need to discuss finances before marriage. It won’t affect whether or not you both say “I do,” but it might change whether you both agree to get a shared bank account.

In addition to maybe getting a shared account, here are six things you should talk about.

1. What kind of debt do you both have?

Did you both rack up a lot of debt going to college? What are your monthly car and student loan payments like? What is your debt-to-income ratio? If either of you has a lot, it’s best to say so before you tie the knot. Having the infamous “Where did all of our money go?” conversation is never fun and can lead to problems that extend beyond finances in a heartbeat. Know what kind of debt your future spouse has. It may suggest that you should either have separate bank accounts, or that one of you should be in charge of all finances so that credit repair can take place.

2. Know each other’s credit scores and histories.

A strong credit score is needed if you want to buy a house one day. If your spouse frequently misses payments because he or she doesn’t manage money well (and might need to fix his or her credit), it can put a big strain on your relationship. You should know what each other’s score is because it might change your respective responsibilities. Maybe one of you agrees to make all payments, or you add your spouse as an authorized user on an account to improve their credit score.

Looking over each other’s histories might also reveal credit errors. If you spot any, you’ll want to start a credit dispute as soon as possible. One reason is, if you plan on having kids, it’s a lot easier to fix a credit score when it’s just the two of you because you’ll have more cash every month to put toward payments. Another reason is that credit disputes and credit repair can take time. The sooner you begin the process, the better.

3. Will you need to work together to improve credit?

Do both of you suffer from low credit scores? If you need a loan, will either of you qualify? As stated, credit disputes and errors take time. To fix credit (or just improve credit), it may require a joint effort. To do so, you’ll both need to make a concerted effort. Not only will all bills need to be paid on time, but one or both of you might need to take out a secured loan or line of credit to begin the credit repair process. From there you’ll both need to diversify your lines of credit and begin paying down your debt.

Many experts suggest paying off debt from smallest to largest. This will remove some of your monthly obligations and free up more cash to throw at your larger debt.

4. What are your long-term goals?

Do you want to travel? Buy a house? Have kids? All of these are big financial commitments, and you need to know about them so you can start budgeting. Depending on the goals, one or both of you might need to make some spending changes. Impulse and fluff buys may need to be scaled back and a monthly budget put in place. If it’s a struggle to put away money each month, then you’ll need to establish a savings plan as soon as possible.

5. Should you have a prenup?

Unfortunately, approximately half of all marriages end in divorce. If either of you has worked hard to establish a strong financial portfolio, then a prenup may save you at least a little heartache if or when you two do decide to call it quits.

6. Establish a monthly budget and savings goal.

Come up with a list of non-negotiable monthly items—mortgage, car payments, credit card payments, utilities, etc. How much money must absolutely be set aside to cover everything? Look at how much is left over, and put a little aside for both of you to spend on fun items. The rest needs to go into savings. How much you spend on your fun (or unnecessary) purchases is up to you. If your partner considers something to be a must-have, but you don’t see it that way, consider not pushing it if it’s not too much every month. Everyone has their own quirks. However, if you are just scraping by every month and accumulating credit card debt in the process, it may be time to have a talk.

Discuss Finances Before Marriage & Get Expert Advice

Marriage is just the beginning, having a solid financial background and excellent credit profile will open many doors in your future.  Planning to discuss finances before marriage gives you the ability to see where you may need financial help. Luckily, it doesn’t just have to be the two of you working on it. At Ovation Credit, we’re here to help, too. We offer a free credit consultation and also a 20% discount for couples. Why not start off your marriage with a better credit life. We can help you improve your credit, fix any credit errors, and resolve any credit disputes.

Sources:

https://www.workandmoney.com/s/financial-topics-before-getting-married-aa006eb785e94537

https://www.dealnews.com/features/Money-Topics-to-Discuss-Before-Marriage-and-Ways-to-Start-the-Conversation/

Holiday Expenses: Top Ways to Avoid Debt this Season

By | Debt

The holiday season is supposed to be about joy, but for many people it brings a great deal of stress. In addition to organizing and attending multiple holiday events, traveling and hosting visitors, you have to watch your budget. Otherwise, you end up with that January hangover when the bills come in.

Fortunately, you can enjoy all the season has to offer while minimizing stress about your holiday expenses. The key is to make a plan and stick with it. Try to follow some general tips as a family, so everyone is on the same page when it comes to spending money.

Holiday-Expenses

 

1. Estimate Non-Gift Holiday Expenses

Holidays typically mean decorations and food, but also higher expenses you might not think to put in your seasonal budget. Electricity and heating is more expensive because of outdoor lights, home decor and cooking. You may also give to charity at this time of year. Review your expenses from last year to help you estimate how much the holidays typically cost.

2. Identify Gift Recipients

It’s neighborly to give small gifts to almost everyone in your circle, from your child’s piano teacher to the kindly woman who lives across the street. Make a complete list of everyone you plan to remember this year. Even if a gift is only $10, when multiplied by 10 people, that’s $100–plus interest if you slap it on a credit card and don’t pay it off right away.

3. Start Saving Early

Ideally, put aside a few dollars every month throughout the year to build a fund for holiday expenses. But life isn’t ideal, so you may only start saving when the weather begins to get colder. As soon as you turn your mind to the season, start to put money away. If you anticipate coming up short, consider taking a seasonal job or revising your original holiday expenses. You still have time to make changes.

4. Start Buying Early

Check out sales as they happen throughout the year. If there’s a sale on food you’ll eat during Thanksgiving and your holiday meals, double up and put the excess in your pantry or freezer until December. If you see the perfect gift for someone on your list, buy it when it’s on sale, even if it’s several weeks before the big day. Just remember to cross that individual off your budget!

5. Research Pricing

Look online and compare retailers for those few special items. Often flash sales and internet-only deals can get you a break on in-demand items, although you may have to buy early before they sell out.

6. Budget for the Unexpected Holiday Expenses

Set aside a bit of cash for a last-minute invitation or unexpected guest. That way you can get a hostess gift or add a plate for dinner without breaking the budget. Better yet, if you never use the money from this seasonal emergency fund, you can put it toward another priority in January.

7. Use Credit Sensibly

When you’re trying to budget, credit cards are not the enemy as long as you use them sensibly. Your credit card may offer cash back or valuable rewards points. If you want to use credit for this reason, consider using the card and immediately transferring the amount of the charge out of your bank account and onto the card.

As with any debt, awareness is crucial. If you put money on a card, write it down and post it on a bulletin board at home so you don’t forget. The more you are conscious about what you’re putting on credit, the more control you have.

Enjoy the holidays the way they are supposed to be: with friends, family and good food. In terms of your holiday expenses, all it takes is a little planning and strength to stick to the budget over the season.

7 Money-Saving Tips to Keep Your Finances on Track

By | Save Money

Are you someone that lies awake thinking about your credit card balance? Do you consider how late payments are affecting your credit score — or why you cannot seem to be saving any money? If you are often dipping into your overdraft, constantly living in the ‘red’ — it’s time to take positive action.

Money Saving Tips

You Can Improve Your Current Financial State

Regardless of your current financial state, you can experience a more stable financial future. In order to become financially independent, however, you must begin living on less than you earn — period. Even if you are in debt, you must live by this rule.

Just remember, it’s not the amount of money that makes you ‘rich’ — it’s how you manage that money. As you learn to acquire good finance habits and develop more effective money management skills, you too will experience greater financial freedom.

Seven Money-Saving Tips to Improve Your Finances

When you make a plan, you’d be amazed at what you can achieve. As you begin to accomplish small goals, you will gain greater motivation and self-confidence. You can take action today, improving your financial health for years to come.

1. Budget for expenses and saving

You need to sit down and crunch some numbers. Although your situation may be unique, the 50/30/20 rule is often useful. The concept here is that 50% of your income should be spent on the essentials, such as your fixed expenses; 30% should be used to purchase additional desired living expenses and optional extras; followed by 20% to pay off debt and to save.

Top tip: Make a spreadsheet based on your fixed (mortgage payments, utilities, car payments, etc.) and variable expenses (groceries, entertainment, gas, etc.) in relation to your income. This will help you see where you need to cut back so that you can tackle your debt and begin saving.

2. Reevaluate your bills

Although 10 extra dollars here and 15 extra dollars there may not seem like a big deal, it all adds up at the end of the month. Here are a few tips to get you back on-track:

  • When it comes to your utility bills, start comparing. If you are already with the best energy provider, then it’s time to become more energy efficient. Begin researching some of the top energy-saving tips, as outlined by the Department of Energy.
  • In relation to communications, be aware of where your money goes. Do you exceed your monthly mobile allowance each month? Then perhaps it’s time to switch to a package that makes more sense for your needs. Better yet, bundle your mobile phone, internet, and cable services for instant savings.

3. Effectively target your debt so that you can save

When aiming to save money, it may seem counterintuitive to address your debt — but this is a very important step. If you have debt that’s accumulating interest in the background, what’s the point of saving? Begin with the most expensive debts first, including credit cards and other loans that incur high penalties.

Prioritize, and when the most expensive debt is clear, you’ll already be in the habit of transferring x-amount each month. With your debt gone, those funds can now be transferred into a savings account. However, there isn’t a one size-fits-all strategy, so if you’re struggling to get out of debt and improve your credit score, you may want to consider professional credit services to get back on-track.

4. Learn to minimize

Your budget will quickly show where your money is going. Whether you often shop at department stores or love to shop online, it’s time to cut back. Spending, spending, and spending some more actually distracts us from what’s truly important to us. Get rid of clutter, sell off items you no longer need, and put that money into a savings account. You’ll feel like a major weight has been lifted from your shoulders.

5. Quit spending money you don’t have

Credit cards can be great — they can help you make timely payments and even gain cash back. But if you’re spending frivolously, your debt can quickly spiral out-of-control. Always remember that golden rule, ‘do not spend more money than you earn.’ If you only make $3000 a month, but are spending an average of $5500, you can clearly see where the problem lies. At that rate, you’ll not only go into deeper debt, but you’ll never be able to save a penny.

6. Save a little each month

Even if you make $25,000 a year, it’s still possible for you to save a substantial amount by the time you reach retirement. Equating to just over $2080 a month, if you saved $180 of that each month, after 50 years, you will have an additional $108,000. If you can’t imagine putting away $180 of your monthly income, then you need to revisit your budget and change your personal financial habits. Everyone can save — the difference is, not everyone can save based on their current spending habits.

7. Take advantage of customer reward programs

No matter where you live or where you shop, there are retailers that will reward you. Focus on places where you shop regardless — such as your local grocery store. Do they offer a points program? If you are spending $100 on your family’s groceries, you may as well benefit. In many cases, you’ll be able to use these points to get free groceries. Also, don’t be shy to coupon!

As you make small improvements each day, these will quickly add up, allowing you to develop better financial habits. And remember, having stacks of cash in the bank isn’t freedom — but being in control of what you have certainly is.

Sources

http://www.independent.co.uk/money/spend-save/a-step-by-step-guide-to-cutting-all-your-bills-913125.html

How to Save Money: 100 Great Tips to Get You Started

http://uk.businessinsider.com/save-money-pay-debt-2017-6

Personal Finances – Mobile Evolution Improving Success

By | Personal Finance

Since the dawn of the Internet – and followed by the launch of smartphones – everything has changed. Being able to communicate in ways that we never imagined, it became possible to instantly have a face-to-face conversation with someone halfway across the world, map directions and even manage your bank account on your mobile phone.

This evolution is improving the ability to track budgets, manage personal finances and build credit more securely than ever before.

Personal Finances Mobile Apps

 

The Relationship Between Mobile Phones and Money Management

The online world and the rise of mobile phones dramatically changed the way we communicate with one another, share critical information and even how we manage our day-to-day lives. This is particularly true in relation to money management.

When it comes to personal finances, in a matter of seconds, you can check balances, transfer money, access your statements, budget and even work towards a healthier credit score — all through the use of your mobile phone. Whether you want to pay a utility bill while you’re at the coffee shop or transfer a portion of your paycheck into a savings account, so much can now be accomplished through a mobile screen.

When it comes to banking services, for instance, mobile phones changed the efficiency of financial institutions forever. In fact, there are now some banks that are only accessible online — which means that you no longer need to waste 30 minutes of your lunch break to wait in a physical bank queue.

The Rise of Managing Personal Finances on Mobile

As mobile apps continued to develop and evolve, our finances became that much more accessible. In fact, based on a 2015 survey, 53 percent of people with a bank account and smartphone utilize mobile banking. When using banking services, the three most common mobile banking activities include:

•   Checking recent transactions (94 percent)

•   Transferring money between accounts (58 percent)

•   Receiving notifications from their bank (56 percent)

With so many specialized apps, independent of standard bank institution apps, managing funds and even investing has never been easier. Although there are many benefits associated with these apps based on convenience, none are more significant than the level of control you gain over your personal finances.

Mobile apps have allowed you to do much more than bank online. When you have access to various apps, you can do anything from pay your student loan to check your credit card balance. Whether you’re investing or banking, your goals can be achieved in a matter of minutes, helping you improve your long-term financial health.

As these changes continue to occur, companies are developing apps that are more powerful, higher in terms of security and are much more flexible than ever before. In fact, mobile apps can allow you to:

•   Better manage your money

•   Maintain a budget

•   Support debt repayment

•   Track expenses

•   Improve financial behavior so that you can save

Repairing Poor Credit Through Improved Daily Habits

When it comes to paying bills on time, there’s one factor that we’re all aware of — our credit score.

While focusing on credit card debt, for instance, for American households who carry credit card debt, it costs them an average of $1,300 per year in interest. With the average U.S. household carrying approximately $16,425 in credit card debt, mobile apps can help consumers not only make payments on time, but improve their current financial state by altering their spending habits.

As you become more aware of your daily habits, seeking the type of credit repair support you require, you will then be on your way to greater financial freedom. It’s all about setting small goals in order to make minor changes in your day-to-day routine.

Once you focus on making your monthly debt payments, budgeting is the next major step. After all, what’s the point of making a payment, just to drive your debt back up? When you learn to properly budget your personal finances, you can avoid this vicious cycle. This is when mobile apps come into play.

Mobile phones are on us at all hours of the day, so when accessing a budgeting app, you will become more aware on a day-to-day basis. Just like a 100-percent cash budget, which makes you more conscious of your spending, a budgeting app can do the same.

Within one survey, of the 3,600 smartphone users who use their phone to bank, 18 percent do so in order to budget, and of those, 69 percent strongly agree that the budgeting apps support healthier spending habits. Whether you want to create budgets, track your spending or pay bills, mobile apps can help you repair your credit over time.

Increase Your Knowledge to Improve Your Financial Health

As we look ahead, there’s no doubt that your personal finances will continue to evolve. As new software programs and online services are developed, the ability to manage our money will continue to become even more practical and convenient.

Whether you want to save more or repair your credit score, one thing is certain — education is imperative. Understanding your options and taking informed action will always pay off. After all, Benjamin Franklin said it best, “An investment in knowledge, always pays the best interest.”

Sources

https://www.nerdwallet.com/blog/average-credit-card-debt-household/

https://www.pressreader.com/usa/usa-today-international-edition/20150429/281788512610586/TextView

https://www.federalreserve.gov/econresdata/consumers-and-mobile-financial-services-report-201603.pdf

Financial Milestones – Roadmap For Success

By | Personal Finance

While there are many financial milestones to celebrate at every age, some of the most significant milestones could be life-changing.

From getting that first paying job to putting a college degree into practice, these milestones can form some of the greatest memories and set a financial foundation for success later in life.

Knowing what financial milestones are important will help you get a head start on planning and be able to work toward a successful financial life.

Your Financial Milestones Roadmap

Financial Milestones

Becoming an Adult (18-29)

What many people don’t realize is that between the ages of 18 and 29, you should be working on your first financial milestones. On top of landing your first job and buying a new car, you may take out student loans to attend college. To qualify for good interest rates, you’ll need to start building your credit. You could take out a line of credit or get your first credit card, as long as you use it responsibly. If you’ve already made some mistakes with credit, don’t stress too much, you are still fresh in the financial path so use this time to invest in credit repair to get yourself back on track.

Pay any loans or student debt on time each month, and be mindful that any debt you obtain will need to be paid back in the end. You may also plan to move out of your parents’ house and want to start looking for a home to rent or buy. Having good credit will make these goals easier to obtain. A great way to build credit while paying rent, is to use a rent-reporting service to get your rent payments on your credit report.

You should also start planning a budget and learn about investing. You may have the opportunity to start a 401(k) — especially if it is available through your employer and sometimes they will match a certain percentage, you should definitely take advantage of this. If a 401(k) is not provided through your employer you can look into a Roth IRA for your investments, if you have the option to do both, you should. This will give you a solid financial foundation that will carry you far later in life.

In Your 30s

By your 30s, you should be enjoying a comfortable place to live and perhaps owning your own home. You may have several retirement accounts, whether you have a 401(k) or a Roth IRA, continue making contributions to those funds and increasing that amount when you can in order to get the most return. If I said I would give you free money wouldn’t you take it? Keep improve your knowledge of investing by studying up on exchange-traded funds, stocks and bonds, as well as funds that can be matched by your employer. If you are fortunate enough to work for a company that has matching 401(k) make sure you are maxing out that opportunity.

This may be a good time to diversify your investments, choosing from a variety of stock options and markets, such as real estate or commodities. You should also be investing in yourself, pursuing an advanced degree or professional development that will accelerate your career.

In Your 40s

By your 40s, your retirement accounts will continue to accrue, and you should have started investing or saving money for your children’s college expenses. Look into a 529 plan or other college savings plans to see which one suits you best. Max out your retirement funds so that you can leverage them later in life, and contribute up to 6-8 percent of your earnings to get the most out of employer matches.

Reward yourself for achieving financial stability, make sure to make a “vacation” savings account so you can be enjoying this hard work you have been doing. Discuss health care needs with your parents in order to avoid surprises later on. Also it may be a good idea to start an investment account that is separate from other accounts, and set it up to automatically draw funds. With the help of a financial advisor, you can turn these funds into moderate-risk investments that you’ll benefit from down the road.



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In Your 50s

By your 50s, you may have started thinking about retirement and be counting down the years to the big day. Sit down and make some calculations to determine your family’s current financial needs, how much you will need in your retirement, and what your goals are for this stage and on in your life.

For your financial milestones, consider buying a vacation home, timeshare or rental property, which you can lease out in order to generate extra income. Learn about financial options available, such as Social Security, Medicare and pension benefits. Resist the urge to withdraw funds from your retirement accounts prematurely, unless you are prepared to pay large penalties.

In Your 60s

By your 60s, you may decide to retire. Your golden years can also be a time of resilience or unpredictable life changes, so each individual will face something different at this stage. You can start collecting Social Security and planning for the long term, so your retirement and health care funds last as long as you need them. Make sure your will is filed and updated. You may also want to consider changes at home, whether that means modifying your house to age in place or moving to a retirement home or supported community.

In Your 70s and Older

By your 70s, you will likely be well into your retirement years. It might even be beneficial to produce hobby work on the side and sell it at community fairs. This is a crucial time to look at your finances to decide if you need to cut back on spending or if you can be generous with charitable gifts. Ensure that any withdrawals follow a predictable, stable plan, and use your money wisely. By your 80s or 90s, your life will have changed more than you ever imagined it could. This might be a good time to downsize and move into a smaller home that suits your life as it is now. If your retirement funds have made it this far and you can still afford some degree of charitable giving, you’ve done well.

Tracking your financial milestones and setting goals, will help relieve the financial stress that pursues when you have not prepared yourself. With careful planning, saving and investing, you can ensure that both you and your family will be cared for well into the future.

Resources:
Reuters
Money
The Balance
Clark

Start Living a Better Credit Life

By | Your Credit

Better Credit Life

We all struggle with the stress that money creates. Take it from Antoine Walker, a former Miami Heat star that ‘went from $108 million to bankrupt‘ in less than a decade. This serves as a reminder: it’s not how much you make, but how you use it.

If you have a stable job, it is possible to live a Better Credit Life as long as you put the time and organization into your financial planning. Ready to get started? Here are 10 ways for you to start living a Better Credit Life:

1. Plan for Disaster from Day One

If you anticipate a financial crisis, then there will never be one. So planning for the near and mid future will keep you safe in the long run. And you have no excuse; just join the millions of Americans that already use budgeting and personal finance tools. Having a budget and sticking to it, is a sure way to stay on track to a Better Credit Life.

Simply download Mint, YNAB, or another highly-rated app, and finally take charge of your financial freedom today!

2. Watch for Credit Report Errors

It’s surprising how often errors end up on credit reports. Stats suggest this impacts 1 in 20 consumers, which is five-percent of Americans. While some errors are more damaging than others to your credit score, as many as 1 in 250 consumers are behind more than 100 points from errors.

You can request a free copy of your credit file from AnnualCreditReport.com once a year from each credit bureau. Further, with our services you’ll find out if there are any errors right away – as we provide a copy of your Equifax and TransUnion files.

3. Examine All Your “Fees”

Most Americans have no idea how much goes to waste on preventable fees. It’s said that hundreds of dollars are spent every year on unknown costs. According to the Ponemon Institute, an average of $942 is spent on hidden fees each year.

Online banking has made a difference, but there are new ways to lose money without realizing in the digital age. Get digging and see where you’re losing!

4. Negotiate What You Pay

Many things are made cheaper so compare costs and cut deals where you can. As you look for high fees, this might open you to ideas like switching bank accounts and utility providers.

Don’t ever be scared to negotiate – for instance, most cable, phone and Internet providers have a user retention line. Most that inquire end up getting a moderate to large discount on their services.

Heck, even some “extreme couponing” could make a big difference!

5. Consolidate Your Large Debts

Your total amount owing is the second biggest variable of your FICO score. So it only makes sense to limit your overall debt.

FICO’s algorithm weighs revolving debt higher than installment debt. This means temporary loans set with payment installments (like a student loan) will drag your score down less.

Therefore, by obtaining a consolidation loan for your credit cards (which are revolving debts), you can eliminate the biggest credit hindrance of all.

6. Build a Relationship at a Credit Union

You stand a better chance getting a home loan with moderate credit at a credit union than a traditional bank. This is especially true if you get familiar with the staff at your local credit union. Further, you will find many rates are better, insufficient funds fees are easier to waive and other perks.

7. Don’t Become a Data Breach Victim

Your information on the web is never safe. Make sure to audit your Internet safety from time to time. The single most effective way of doing this is by checking whether your email was hacked. If your data was leaked on the web, you will be able to find out through HaveIBeenPwned.com’s search tool. Further, you can set up email alerts to inform you if a data breach occurs.

8. Plan for Christmas in January

You should look at your past year of finances and what you expect to make and spend for the following year all at once. Do this after Christmas is over and prepare your budget for the next winter holidays. If you don’t want to buy the items right away in case it’s not appealing later, stash the money in gift cards or make a savings account for this purpose.

9. Shop Online for the Best Cards and Loans

Whether you need a consolidation loan, a travel rewards card or even an auto loan, you should compare the best rates online. Sites like BankRate.com make it easy to see which cards and lenders provide what you need.

10. Honor Your Debts

Everyone wants to disavow their debts, but no one wants to go bankrupt. The key is to forget how owing money can damage your life. Since 15% of your FICO score is based on your credit length – it’s better to keep your lines open. So when you pay off a card, don’t close the account!

Even taking on a higher credit limit is good – it improves your credit utilization rate, so long as you don’t waste the new funds.

Conclusion

Never give up on the idea of living a Better Credit Life, because it’s available to you with a little discipline. Even if you need credit repair help or require consolidation loans to make it happen–as the saying goes, “Where there’s a will, there’s a way…”

Sources:

http://money.cnn.com/2015/07/24/investing/antoine-walker-nba-bankruptcy/

https://www.ftc.gov/news-events/press-releases/2013/02/ftc-study-five-percent-consumers-had-errors-their-credit-reports

http://www.forbes.com/sites/adamtanner/2014/04/14/these-sites-tell-which-of-your-accounts-have-been-hacked/

http://fraud.laws.com/false-adversiting/surcharges-and-hidden-fees

How to Improve Your Credit Score

By | Credit Scores

Improve Your Credit Score

If your credit score is not great or even good, don’t despair. You have the power to change it. It might take months or possibly years to get close to the coveted 850 credit score, but it can be done. You can get started by taking these tips into account.

Check Your Credit Report

The most effective way to improve your credit score is to keep a close eye on it. Start by ordering your free credit report from AnnualCreditReport.com — everyone gets one free report every year. It won’t tell you your score unless you pay a fee, but it will let you instantly see all the accounts that add up to your credit rating.

Your first goal should be to make sure your report is accurate, starting with your contact information, birth date and social security number. Then look at the accounts on your report. They should all look familiar. If you see any accounts that you did not open, you should follow the steps on the site to get the errors fixed. Similarly, if you see late payments reported that you know you made on time or you see derogatory marks that don’t belong there, you can contact the creditor. If the creditor does not fix the error, you can dispute it.

Establish Credit by Using a Credit Card Responsibly

If your credit report is pretty bare, it may be time to get a credit card. You might wonder how that will improve your credit score since most people are advised to avoid credit cards. But the fact is that you need to show the credit bureaus that you can handle credit well. This is hard if you don’t have any accounts to handle yet.

This doesn’t mean you should go out and apply for a car loan or mortgage to improve your credit score. You won’t have much of a shot at these types of loans if you don’t have any credit to your name. Instead, start by getting a credit card. Your best bet is to apply for a secured credit card. With this type of card, you pay either a portion or the total amount of your credit limit upfront and then use the card. Since you pay the creditors ahead of time for this type of card, you know you’ll likely be approved, even without any credit history. Then you can work on building your credit by making your payments on time.

If you already have some credit, but what you have is poor, you may be able to get an unsecured credit card to improve your credit score. The only catch is that you might have to apply for a credit card for people with bad credit, which may have a high interest rate. But the good news is that once you get one, use it regularly and make your payments on time, you will improve your credit score so you can eventually apply for credit cards for people with good credit.

Pay Your Bills on Time

If the main issue with your credit report is that you have a lot of late payments that were reported to the credit bureaus, you can turn it around by making sure you never miss a payment again. Even if you can only make the minimum payment some months, it’s crucial that you pay on time. Otherwise, you will likely be facing fees and a lower credit score after it gets reported to the bureaus. And if it’s a credit card payment you missed, you might also end up with a higher interest rate.

This is why many people with good credit automate their payments so they always get paid on or before the due date. If you are ever having trouble paying a bill, your first step should be to contact your creditor to see if you can make arrangements to pay late without it affecting your credit score. And keep in mind that the longer you pay all your bills on time, the less your score will be affected by any late payments you made months or years ago, which means it’s never too late to get into this habit.

Pay Down Debt

One of the best ways to improve your credit score is to keep your credit utilization down. More specifically, you should strive to keep your credit card balances at less than 30 percent, meaning you have at least 70 percent available. If you’re a little above that, just keep paying down your balances.

You can also get faster results by requesting a credit limit increase, which will automatically reduce your credit utilization. Just be sure you don’t spend more once you get an increase! And if your credit utilization is already around 30 percent or less, keep paying it down, since many people with the best credit scores boast credit utilization of 10 percent or less.

Get Help from Credit Experts

If you’re feeling overwhelmed as you work to improve your credit score, you can come to us for help getting started. We’ll give you a free credit consultation so you can see what you need to improve on your credit report. We’ll also help you dispute inaccuracies on your report and monitor your credit so you know about any changes to your credit right away. Contact us today if you’re interested in getting help improving your credit score.

Sources:

http://www.bankrate.com/finance/debt/7-simple-ways-improve-credit-score-1.aspx

http://www.myfico.com/credit-education/improve-your-credit-score/

http://www.experian.com/blogs/ask-experian/credit-education/score-basics/improve-credit-score/

5 Ways Men Manage Money Better & How You Can Improve

By | Budgeting, Personal Finance, Your Credit

Sounds chauvinistic, but unfortunately studies prove it’s true, men manage money better than women. If you’ve resolved to be more fiscally responsible this year you’re not alone. Thousands of people resolve to be better with their money each year, only to quit a month later.

Make 2016 the year you conquer personal finance and get financially healthy. Here are five ways men manage their money successfully, and how you can to:

  1. Having a plan

When you don’t have a plan or set of financial goals it’s easy to burn through your paycheck. Don’t waste your hard heard funds, establish a plan and put that cash to work. Establish and prioritize financial goals. If you have debt – a mortgage, car payments, student loans, credit cards etc. – it’s a good idea to prioritize paying it off. Credit cards are often the easiest to pay off and have the highest interest. Pay them off first then tackle that student loan or mortgage which should take longer to pay down.

  1. Get automated

Setting up auto bill payments is one way to make managing your finances easier, but there’s even more you can do to get on track. Use your employer’s direct deposit service to automatically deposit funds into savings accounts. It’s harder to spend money you don’t see or have easy access to.

  1. Let go of that baggage

Don’t let your emotions rule your financial decisions. You may have grown up in a home or in a relationship where you were unable to buy what you wanted. That may cause you to overspend once you gain financial freedom. Don’t let the past govern your future. Whether you made bad money decisions in the past is irrelevant, you can correct your finances now and build a strong financial future.

  1. Face the facts

If you’ve avoided looking at your finances for fear of what you might see, now is the time to face that fear. Avoiding your debt can only make it worse. The longer you let debt linger the more you’ll owe in late fees and interest. Face your debt head on, start making payments and clean up that mess while it’s still manageable.

  1. Seek therapy that doesn’t come with a price tag

Women and men can use shopping as a form of therapy. Stress can cause you to over-shop which leads to poor finances and more stress. If you’re feeling stressed get active, take a staycation, read a book or take part in other healthy activities that enrich your mind and spirit and not your closet.

You can get better at money management. Resolve to make this year the year you conquer your finances and then the world.

How do you stay on top of your personal finances? Who’s the better banker you or your spouse? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below.

How to Get Rid of These 5 Little Budget Busters

By | Budgeting

eliminate-budget-bustersWe’ve heard it said that the devil is in the details.  When it comes to managing our budget, that phrase rings true because what wrecks our carefully laid plans are little things we overlook.  There are tiny expenses that slip through our fingers every day and though they may be tiny today, year-over-year they add up.  So let’s talk about how to keep that money in your hand.

An engineer named Pete (who retired at the ripe age of 30) poses what we consider the rule of 752, when reviewing weekly expenses.  Take one weekly expense, like eating lunch out, and multiply it by 752.  The sum is the total cost of that expense over 10 years if you had invested that money instead of using it.  Doing the math could be a real shocker, and will make you re-evaluate all your spending habits.

The following are some daily expenses that are quick budget drainers:

  1. Excess Phone and TV bills.  We live in a digital world, but are you using all the technology you’re paying for?  Review your phone bill and turn off any devices that aren’t being used.  If you have unlimited plans that aren’t fully utilized, lower the threshold. Consider converting to a pre-paid cellular service rather than locking in two-year contracts.  If the deal is right, you may save money.If you’re paying for 500 cable channels but aren’t home to watch TV, alter your package to something more realistic.  Are there DVR boxes in bedrooms that never get watched?  Send them back.
  1. Magazine or Online Subscriptions.  Subscriptions can be inexpensive, but do you ever read them?  Often the information is available online for free.  For that matter, many online subscriptions are inexpensive, but how often do you get to use them?  If you’re not using your subscriptions, cancel them.  It’s simply money you’re throwing away.
  2. Account Maintenance Fees.  Why are you paying your bank to hold your money when there are so many free checking accounts?  Do you realize that many banks charge a fee every time they mail you a printed statement or when you use another bank’s ATM?  If you don’t monitor your bank statement closely, go online or open that printed statement and review the fees.  Month-to-month, they add up.
  3. Convenience Fees.  Convenience fees can pop up if you make a payment over the phone, such as your mortgage or car payment; something that can be avoided by paying online or mailing a check.  You may also pay convenience fees when purchasing tickets to an event or traveling at a time more convenient to you.  Airlines and trains may charge $50-$100 just to “convenience” you.  By traveling at a less optimum time, you could put that money right back in your wallet.  Also consider less expensive but reliable forms of transportation, such as bus travel.
  4. Credit Card Interest.  That lovely swipe-able piece of plastic that brings all sorts or buy-now, pay-later goodies is perhaps the biggest budget-buster of all.  Many credit cards have interest rates as high as 24%!  By carrying a balance from month-to-month, you pay for an item many times over in interest.   You may have found something at a tremendous bargain but by not paying it off when the bill first came, it is no longer a good deal because it is likely that more than half your payment is going towards interest every single month.  And the more you shop with your credit and allow the debit to build, the worse the situation gets.

These are things that can easily be done to help manage your budget.  Ignore them and your expenses can quickly get out of hand, especially if you use credit cards.  If you need help planning your budget or restoring credit, it may help to speak to a credit repair specialist, such as Ovation Credit Services.  By planning your budget, regularly monitoring your credit, and working hard to build or restore your credit, you can have the financial future you dream of.

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