Credit Repair Expert https://www.creditrepairexpert.org My WordPress Blog Thu, 20 Apr 2017 09:17:19 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.7.4 10 Ways Tech the Web Changed the Personal Finance Industry https://www.creditrepairexpert.org/10-ways-tech-web-changed-personal-finance-industry/ https://www.creditrepairexpert.org/10-ways-tech-web-changed-personal-finance-industry/#respond Thu, 20 Apr 2017 09:17:19 +0000 https://www.creditrepairexpert.org/?p=1473 Before the Internet, the personal finance industry was a robust and successful one. Everything from seminars to planners to newsletters and books were sold in mass quantities, and there was no reason to believe this would ever change. While this industry still exists, we cannot help but notice the way individuals now conduct their personal […]

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Before the Internet, the personal finance industry was a robust and successful one. Everything from seminars to planners to newsletters and books were sold in mass quantities, and there was no reason to believe this would ever change. While this industry still exists, we cannot help but notice the way individuals now conduct their personal financial affairs. Certainly, technology has changed money management and in some cases, it has rendered many once-popular personal finance products as dated or even obsolete. And in most cases, the newer, more technologically driven alternatives are also more cost efficient. The following are ten such examples.

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Podcasts Instead of CDs

One of the most common personal finance products used to be CDs containing tips, suggestions, and strategies for managing ones money. These could then be listened to in the car or at home or work. While these were rather popular, they have been displaced in recent years by podcasts. Rather than having to physically burn the audio to CDs, label, and ship them, personal finance gurus can simply record their latest content and make it accessible to a much broader audience.Via the web or through the iTunes music store, for example, users can access this audio content as soon as its published, in most cases at a discounted rate as well.

Forums Instead of Seminars

Few things were more enticing to those seeking sound financial advice than personal finance seminars. Advertised as an opportunity to receive live, expert advice, seminars were seen as a place to take notes, ask questions, and leave with a plan for making the most of your money. And while seminars have not completely disappeared, they have been supplanted somewhat by internet forums. People who are curious about certain aspects of personal finance can simply enter the forum, ask their questions, and leave without spending money or traveling to an event. While the information found in these forums ought be taken with a grain of salt at times, these forums serve as an open discussion on issues subject to debate, and did not exist more than a decade ago.

E-zines and Newsletters Instead of Magazines

Another steady source of revenue for personal finance vendors used to be personal finance magazines. Kiplingers and Money Magazine havent vanished from newsstand shelves completely, but their readerships are gradually shrinking in the age of digital media. In their stead, e-zines and e-mail newsletters have become far more popular, allowing the latest retirement, savings, or investment tips to be disseminated more quickly and at less cost. Pitted against the immediacy of web-based content, print magazines simply cannot keep up with such a pace.

Blogs Instead of Finance Books

Traditionally, the most popular personal finance products have been books that impart money management tips and suggestions to readers. But within this decade, personal finance books have taken a backseat to a new medium: blogs. Rather than forcing people to digest an entire book (usually encompassing several hundred pages of material, all of which may not be relevant to the reader, blogs offer readers a way to quickly and easily navigate to only the specific tips, columns, and strategies they are interested in. No matter what aspect of personal finance you are curious about retirement, savings, investing, lowering your bills, etc. there are many blogs devoted to exactly that subject. Another benefit to blogs is the ability for web-users to navigate between blogs easily and simultaneously to find, compare and analyze commentary on whichever subject matter. Furthermore, youll be hard-pressed to find a financial blog that charges readers to browse the site and its archives.

Cost Saving Sites Instead of Deal Hunting

For those serious about saving, getting the lowest price can be paramount. In pre-Internet days, comparing prices often meant calling around, waiting for the Sunday newspaper or searching for advertised deals on television, etc. With the rise of the Internet, price comparing became easy: customers can go from site to site searching for the best deals. Today, cost saving websites such as Mint.com make this even easier, by helping price-conscience individuals compare costs of such products as gas, cell phone plans, credit repair services and more, all on one site. These types of sites are also available in more specific industries such as apparel, travel and many more.

Money Management Websites Instead of Checkbooks

Not so very long ago, keeping sound records of your spending and savings required tedious, manual, pencil-and-paper tracking. But in the last several years, that has become completely unnecessary. Websites such Due.com have effectively automated the processes by which spending can be plotted, categorized, and summarized. These are exactly the types of sites that are ideal for those that hate paperwork and filing.

Excel Instead of Ledgers and Columnar Pads

Similar to the balancing a checkbook, what was once painstakingly recorded by hand into ledgers and columnar pads is now effortlessly keyed into Excel spreadsheets. The biggest advantage of Excel over paper is not the ease of entry, but rather the ease of manipulation. Once all the numbers are contained in a spreadsheet, any number of formulas and macros can be used to run calculations and arrange the data in any way you desire. Then of course, there is the much lauded undo button, should you make any mistakes.

TurboTax and Quicken Instead of Accountants

It used to be that the beginning of each year triggered a flood of business for accountants, who were situated as the only ones capable of properly preparing complex tax returns. This was before TurboTax and Quicken, that is. Today, these two software packages allow more people than ever to do their taxes without any professional help. Surprisingly these programs use nothing more than plug-and-play forms that prompt users for the needed information and compile it automatically.

Web-based Tools Instead of Financial Planners

The once-painstaking calculations and forecasts that could only be done by trained financial planners are now done quite easily by laymen with simple, and ubiquitous web-based tools. Everything from household budget worksheets to cost of living calculators to IRA conversion analyzers are available online, at no charge and without requiring any special expertise. Just plug in the information being asked and watch as your results are spit back to you in seconds.

Web Trading Instead of a Broker

The 1980s and 1990s witnessed an unprecedented influx of stock market investing by the worlds middle class, a trend that has continued to this day. While the market has had its ups and downs, one thing that is certain is that the market is still continuing to reach more people and with the proliferation of online trading sites, traders of all types from all over the world are now able invest and monitor their investments with ease and in real time. And with the wealth of advice and opinion available on television, print and of course, digital media, individuals are now trading independently of advisors or stock brokers.

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11 Ways to Fail Financially While in College https://www.creditrepairexpert.org/11-ways-fail-financially-college/ https://www.creditrepairexpert.org/11-ways-fail-financially-college/#respond Sun, 16 Apr 2017 23:01:15 +0000 https://www.creditrepairexpert.org/?p=1468 Academics are not the only thing you should worry about as you grind through the horrendous prison that is college parties, booze, spring break oh, the horror! According to a recent study by Sallie Mae, the average college student will graduate with $4,100 worth of credit card debt, a staggering amount in addition to what […]

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Academics are not the only thing you should worry about as you grind through the horrendous prison that is college parties, booze, spring break oh, the horror!

According to a recent study by Sallie Mae, the average college student will graduate with $4,100 worth of credit card debt, a staggering amount in addition to what they’re already owing from their student loan and other college related expenses.

If starting a new life after graduation with unnecessary debt isn’t your idea of awesomeness, here’s a list of 11 ways you can fail financially while you’re in college: avoid the actions listed below and you just might come out financially ahead when you graduate!

Taking an Excessive Long Time to Finish School

I’m on the special six-years program, my friend will often say as people ask him whether if he was a junior or senior in college. While some people will often joke about being a super senior, many times there are negative financial consequences if you prolong your stay in college.

Although its perfectly reasonable to switch major as you discover your true passion, lingering while in college can increase your overall tuition cost and prevent you from stepping into your wage earning years.  For those that are juggling multiple projects or part/full-time jobs while in college, this can especially be a problem as you try and balance between work and academics.

Signing Up for Unnecessary Credit Card Accounts

The Sallie Mae study revealed that on average, college students have 4.6 credit cards, and half of college students had four or more credit cards.  The number of cards a student carry also dramatically increases as a student progress through the years in college.

Keep it simple and avoid tackling on additional debts by sticking with one credit card through your college years.  If youre unsure of your ability to properly and wisely use credit, consider opting for a debit card instead you get the same conveniences, and if your debit/check card is from a major national bank, you get the same level of fraud protection from a credit card.

Doing a Poor Job in Managing Your Financial Accounts

One reason to avoid carrying an excessive amount of credit cards beyond the risk of increasing your credit card debt is that managing financial accounts are simply not one of the major priorities for most college students.  You can keep the organization simple by using online account access that are provided by most major banking institutions.  Many of these online accounts offer bill alerts via email or SMS; they also offer online bill pay along with automatic bill payment two modern conveniences that should make paying your bill late obsolete.   The more you avoid overdue bills, the less late fees you’ll pay, the more reasonable your interest rate will stay and the better your credit history will look.

Letting Your Vices Consume Your Money and Time

Beyond alcohols and other nefarious substances, your vices can be anything that consumes an unhealthy amount of your money or time: massive multiplayer online games,  gambling heck, maybe even your significant other (yeah we said it).  Your college life certainly doesn’t have to be 100% about school work, but when 90% of your time is spent solely on one particular activity, you may be doing yourself a disservice that not only threatens your financial outlook but potentially your very own well-being.

Failing Academically While on Scholarship

Although looking like a stash of colorful curtain when you graduate will certainly make your parents proud, not everyone needs to graduate cum laude.  You should, however, do well academically especially if you’re on scholarship or grants.  Remember that you’ve earned the scholarship or grants due to hard work don’t let the free money slip away by neglecting your studies.  Even if you’re not on an academic scholarship of sorts, you should still keep academic probation at bay, simply because it will eat up more of your time and money.

Choosing Expensive Out-of-Campus / Away-from-Home Housing

Fact is, some college dorm rooms are just out right horrible.  We understand that.  But college is also a time where you need to keep the belt tight and the wallet even tighter.  Many people make the mistake of taking out additional student loans in order to live in more upscale neighborhoods or housings.  Some even move out of the house even though the school may be less than an hour drive away.  Being able to find independence is all fine and well, but having to go back to your parents to help with your loans because of your college housing choice probably wont be a good first step toward independence.

Opting for a Brand New Car Instead of Cheaper Alternatives

Everyone loves a new ride.  The soothing chemicals from a new car smell ahhh.  Problem is, new cars are a known depreciating asset.  The minute you drive it off the lot, a good percentage of its value disappears into the misty air.  Many time it will be practical just to purchase a reliable use car over a brand new car.  You can do one step better by grabbing an out-right beater or skipping a vehicle altogether if you attend a college with plenty of public transportation.

Attempt to Keep Up with Peers on Materialistic Possessions

It can get easy to get carried away when you get in the Keeping up with the Jones’s mentality, especially in our younger years when image may be important. But spending the time and money in order to keep up with your peers on materialistic possessions will only rack up the credit card debt. If you find yourself constantly feeling like you need to buy certain products or apparel just to feel like you belong to a crowd, it may be time to start seeking friends that value you beyond your possessions!

Using Your Student Loans Excessively on Other Purposes

The majority of your student loans should be spent on your tuition and tuition related expenses: housing for college, books, transportation and food.  Your student loan shouldn’t be spent on a lavish spring break trip to the Caribbeans, nor should it be spent on a set of snowboard along with snowboard racks for the car.  The minute you start allocating your student loan for purchases that are far from daily necessity, you will head down a slippery slope of debt accumulation.

Living it Up (Beyond the Means of a College Student)

Everyone can probably agree that college life is more than just academics; after all, if you subject yourself to hours and hours of studies without taking the occasional break to enjoy life, college can quickly become a tiresome experience.  But enjoying life should be met with some sensible amount of balance.  Just because you know an acquaintance that frequently take trips to Europe during spring break doesn’t mean you should do the same.  Living beyond your means is always a bad idea, living beyond your means when you’re a poor college student?  Even worse of an idea.

Borrowing Too Much in Student Loans

It is a known fact that the cost of college tuition has been increasing at a rapid pace in recent years.  A problem many college student face today when graduating is that they grossly overestimate their expected starting salary, often finding themselves not earning enough to pay their costly student loans.  Here’s a good rule of thumb: if your total student loan debt exceeds your expected starting salary for your first year in your career, you’re borrowing too much.  Be realistic with your expected salary and plan ahead on how you’ll cover the cost of college.

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Myths Versus Facts: Credit Card Usage and Debt https://www.creditrepairexpert.org/myths-versus-facts-credit-card-usage-debt/ https://www.creditrepairexpert.org/myths-versus-facts-credit-card-usage-debt/#respond Thu, 13 Apr 2017 04:56:41 +0000 https://www.creditrepairexpert.org/?p=1458 The recent passage of the Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2009 has prompted much discussion about credit card usage and debt. Given the global financial meltdown, it’s understandable that many are concerned about their own credit card debt and the practices of creditors in general. Unfortunately, these widespread discussions have given rise […]

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The recent passage of the Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2009 has prompted much discussion about credit card usage and debt. Given the global financial meltdown, it’s understandable that many are concerned about their own credit card debt and the practices of creditors in general. Unfortunately, these widespread discussions have given rise to numerous myths, half-truths and falsehoods about credit card usage and debt. Whether you are struggling with debt of your own or just striving to intelligently discuss the subject, it pays to debunk these myths and comprehend the relevant facts. Below are 12 long-standing credit and debt myths and the truths they obscure.

Ordinary Americans Have Long Used Credit Cards to Get By

Recent generations of Americans have gotten so cozy with credit card debt that it’s easy to imagine it’s always been this way. What was somewhat common prior to the 1980′s were store credit cards, such as those issued by Sears or Montgomery Ward. Unlike general, all-purpose Visa or MasterCard credit cards issued by banks, store credit applied only to purchases from the issuing store. That is, one could not use a Sears credit card to go hog wild with debt at every other store that caught his eye. Generally, such cards were issued to promote consumer loyalty and increase sales. However, as a November 2009, Visa use began steadily rising in 1990 (when it accounted for roughly $150 billion in consumer spending) until finally, in 2008, $800 billion in consumer spending was done using Visa cards alone. While not all of this increased credit card use is categorically bad or wrong, the rate at which it has risen is truly staggering, especially in light of how many people currently find themselves over their heads in debt.

The CARD Act is a Blessing For Those Already in Debt

The aforementioned Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2009 has generated substantial debate, with supporters regarding it as assisting those in debt and critics alleging it falls short. Regardless of the particular merits or demerits of this law, one thing is clear: it does not offer very much to those who had debt before it was passed. Because Congress signed the bill into law with a nine month delay before it took effect, creditors had ample opportunity to raise interest rates, reduce lines of credit, impose fees and other actions now prohibited by the Act. Essentially, Congress gave the banks and creditors plenty of time “get their last licks” in before the bill became law. On the bright side, it does prohibit some long-criticized practices of banks and creditors, such as enabling overdraft “protection” by default, unannounced rate hikes, and many forms of marketing to those under the age of twenty-one.

More People Have Credit Cards Because Creditors Got Better At Managing Risk

Partially, but not completely. According to the Washington Post, far more instrumental is how “industrial restructuring shifted demand for bank loans from manufacturing companies to individual households, and national banks aggressively pushed for more de-regulatory policies” following the 1981-82 recession. Furthermore, prior to a 1996 Supreme Court ruling that “ended state-regulated limits on credit card fees”, creditors were generally prohibited from charging interest exceeding 15%. The abolition of this regulation extended credit to throngs of lower-income borrowers whose riskiness to creditors could not be profitably assumed under the interest rate cap. Therefore, it is not so much that the creditors got “better” at managing risk as it is that they were finally permitted to charge interest that reflected the risks of lending to lower-income borrowers.

Credit Consolidators Can Cut Your Monthly Payments in Half

With a seemingly endless parade of TV and radio commercials making precisely this claim, how can it possibly be untrue? Well, it isn’t always untrue. But as Bankrate reminds us, the promise by consolidators to cut your monthly payments in half is “a numbers fudging claim that holds true only in the narrowest of circumstances.” Let’s say, for example, that you miss two $200 payments on a $10,000 balance, making it so that you now owe $600 on the third month’s bill. What the debt consolidator will likely do is “re-age that bill, knocking your payment amount back to $200.” However, it should be obvious that you don’t magically owe $400 less than before. That amount is simply “tacked back onto the total owed.” Only by verbal gymnastics and sleight of hand can credit counselors spin such maneuvers as “cutting your monthly payment in half.”

Closing Accounts Will Boost Your Credit Score

It sounds logical, doesn’t it? Close out a few credit cards, many people assume, and you will therefore look like less of a gamble to prospective creditors. However, this is not how credit reports generally reflect the closing of accounts. Quite the contrary – because credit scores consider the difference between your available credit and what you’re using closing accounts shrinks your total available credit, thereby “making your balances loom larger, which typically hurts your score.” Yes, it’s true that you should not open a ton of accounts to begin with, but if you have already opened them, closing them now will not help your credit score. Furthermore, since credit scores also track how long you’ve been with a given creditor (and favors lengthier relationships), closing older accounts can weaken your credit score even more. The correct advice to people considering closing accounts is to resolutely repay their debts as fast as possible. It’s not fancy or easy advice, but it is guaranteed to eventually help your score, while closing accounts is guaranteed to immediately hurt it.

Checking Your Own FICO Score Can Hurt Your Credit

FICO Credit Score

Incorrect. What generally hurts your credit is excessively applying for credit, such as filling out dozens of store and bank credit card applications in a year. This specific fact has often been erroneously extrapolated by financial “gurus” into the generic advice that your credit is hurt every time someone – anyone – pulls your report. In reality, however, you ordering a copy of your own credit report or score has absolutely no bearing on that credit report or credit score. A Business Insider article likewise confirms “the FICO scoring formula ignores any inquiries that you make on your credit report”, as this is considered a “soft” inquiry. Again – the inquiry-related damage to your score is done by creditors pulling your report, and even then, only once you have applied for credit from them. So don’t be shy about examining your own credit report in as much detail and as frequently as you’d like.

FICO Scores Only Change in 6 Month Increments

For one reason or another, it has become commonly accepted that FICO scores only change every six months, so that making changes today, tomorrow or next week may not add up to anything beneficial for a long time. Fortunately, this myth has absolutely no basis in reality. FICO scores are dynamic and regularly change in response to updates to your credit report without any substantial amount of time needing to pass first. Bankrate.com quotes Fair Issac Corp public relations manager Craig Watts, who confirms that “when we calculate a score, for all intents and purposes it then goes away and is recalculated the next time someone pulls your file.” Therefore, anyone holding off on repaying debt, disputing an erroneous credit report entry or taking other positive actions due to fears that it “won’t matter for a while anyway” now has one less excuse to wait!

Responsible Cardholders Will Now Be Stuck Paying For The Deadbeats

While this is generally true, it is not as applicable to the current debt/financial crisis as many seem to believe. Rather, the Washington Post states that while credit card companies are “experiencing record default rates”, irresponsible consumer borrowing is nevertheless “not the main culprit behind soaring interest rates and fees.” The driving force behind these, the Post contends, are “mortgage foreclosures and home-equity loan defaults”, which are swallowing banks in record numbers. Consequently, “bank revenues have declined sharply, raising pressure on credit card companies to boost profits” amidst the global recession. So contrary to rate hikes during prosperous times, when irresponsible borrowing can be assumed as a primary cause, other factors are clearly at work during 2010.

Credit Counseling is Damaging to Your FICO Score

Whatever truth this belief once had is now gone. According to MSN, the FICO score calculation formula has “ignored any reference to credit counseling that may be on your file” for at least the last three years now. The reason? Researchers at Fair Issac are constantly analyzing default activity for patterns among debtors who have the same characteristics, and simply put, the data revealed that “people getting credit counseling didn’t default on their debts any more often than anyone else.” While it’s true that credit counseling could make it more difficult to get a loan, these risks stem from things like your credit counselor not sending in your payments on time, not from anything inherent in credit counseling as such. Therefore, if you believe credit counseling can demonstrably improve your credit and have a reputable firm to work with, there is nothing to support the idea that credit counseling will hurt your credit.

Repaying All Outstanding Debts Instantly Restores Great Credit

Earlier in the article, we refuted the myth that credit scores take an arbitrary six month period to recalculate. However, it’s also true that repaying all your debts doesn’t instantly elevate your credit score to the heavens. The reason, according to Bankrate, is that your credit report is “not just a snapshot of where you are at the moment” regarding credit and debt, but rather a “history of your payments.” In other words, the fact that you do not currently owe any money to creditors does not completely erase the fact that you did owe a substantial amount for several years. Of course, none of this is to imply that you shouldn’t pay off your debts. While it won’t immediately give you amazing credit, the only way you will ever get amazing credit (assuming you want it) is to eventually become debt free or close to debt free. Just don’t fret when it takes a little time for creditors to see that the new, debt-free you is the norm rather than the exception.

FICO Scores Aren’t The Only Scores You Should Check

There is actually a small grain of truth to this, but it is still misleading enough to be a myth. While each of the “Big Three” credit bureaus offer FICO credit scores using the same formula developed by Fair Issac, much confusion results from the fact that each bureau calls this score something different. TransUnion, for instance, calls its score “Empirica.” Equifax, on the other hand, refers to its FICO scores as “Beacon credit scores.” At Experien, the FICO is known rather abstrusely as the “Experian/Fair, Issac Risk Model.” And it’s true that these scores will sometimes be slightly different, simply because all three bureaus don’t always share the same data. However, despite the different and confusing names, the basic model used to assess your FICO score is the same at all three, and the FICO score is indeed what these names refer to. Moreover, the correct advice on improving each of these scores is the same: generally speaking, that you should promptly repay outstanding debts, be vigilant about errors on your report, stay on the lookout for identity theft risks and be selective in how many credit card applications you submit.

The Majority of Americans Have Staggering Credit Card Debt

Credit Card Debt

While credit card usage has undeniably increased over the years, it is by no means clear that most Americans are struggling with credit card debt. In fact, relevant studies show that the exact opposite true. CreditCards.com, for instance, cites a 2009 Federal Reserve Board survey of consumer finances which revealed that “as of 2007, the majority of U.S. households had no credit card debt.” That same survey found that “of the 73.0 percent of families with credit cards in 2007, only 60.3 percent had a balance at the time of the interview.” Another study cited on the same webpage (this one from MyFICO) shows that “about 40 percent of credit cardholders carry a balance of less than $1,000.” None of this negates the huge balances that some (perhaps even many) Americans have, but it serves as a reminder that perhaps some of the heated political rhetoric about the prevalence of overwhelming debt is a bit more exaggerated than the facts warrant.

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4 Easy Strategies for Saving for College https://www.creditrepairexpert.org/4-easy-strategies-saving-college/ https://www.creditrepairexpert.org/4-easy-strategies-saving-college/#respond Sun, 09 Apr 2017 07:59:19 +0000 https://www.creditrepairexpert.org/?p=1450 If you’ve spent years putting off college savings, and then putting it off some more, it’s time to stop passing the buck. Consider these figures: the average four-year private college now costs $26,273 annually, according to The College Board. And public colleges aren’t exactly cheap, at an average of $7,020 per year. No wonder students […]

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If you’ve spent years putting off college savings, and then putting it off some more, it’s time to stop passing the buck. Consider these figures: the average four-year private college now costs $26,273 annually, according to The College Board. And public colleges aren’t exactly cheap, at an average of $7,020 per year.

No wonder students these days graduate with an average of $23,000 in debt. The good news: if you’re proactive about saving, and diligently put money aside before the tuition bills start to pile up, you’ll have much less of a debt mountain to pay down once you graduate.

You have to save smart, though, whether it’s for yourself or for your toddler. A few strategies to help you get where you need to be:

1. The 529 plan is your best friend. The nation’s pre-eminent college-savings vehicle, the so-called 529 plan lets your savings grow tax-free in the investment vehicle of your choice. Most states offer some kind of tax credit or deduction for investing in your own state’s plan, which means it makes financial sense to keep investing even when you’re close (or at) college age; it almost acts as a discount on your tuition bill. New York, for instance, offers a state tax deduction of up to $10,000 a year, while Illinois grants up to $20,000.

Beyond just tax deductions, though, do your due diligence and research which state plans are most attractive in terms of lower fees, multiple fund options and past performance. Investment research sites like Morningstar evaluate the 529 plans of all 50 states.

2. Don’t forget the Coverdell. The Coverdell Educational Savings Account is an account which lets you contribute up to $2,000 a year, with the money growing tax-deferred and withdrawn tax-free for qualified educational expenses. Previously known as Education IRAs, the Coverdell is no longer considered an IRA. Coverdell accounts essentially are trusts created for the sole purpose of paying the education expenses for the designated beneficiary. Of course, there are always rules and restrictions, so check out more details at the FinAid site.

3. Dollar-cost average. That’s a fancy way of saying you need to save regularly over time. “Pay yourself first,” as personal finance expert David Bach likes to say, by automating withdrawals from your account and earmarking it for savings or investments. If you don’t do that, then it’s human nature that you’ll spend whatever is there and not save anything at all. Regular, fixed investments can help to insulate you from wild market swings, by buying more of an investment when the market is cheap, and less when it’s pricey.

4. Look into prepaid tuition plans. Some states offer a juicy perk for saving: start investing now, and you can lock in today’s tuition rates. With inflation rates for private four-year colleges ramping up at 4.4 percent last year alone, it can be a handy way to give yourself some peace of mind. You won’t gain or lose from big market swings, as you would with an all-equity fund, but at least you’ll know college won’t cost any more than it does right now.

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When to File for Personal Bankruptcy https://www.creditrepairexpert.org/when-to-file-personal-bankruptcy/ https://www.creditrepairexpert.org/when-to-file-personal-bankruptcy/#respond Sun, 02 Apr 2017 09:56:33 +0000 https://www.creditrepairexpert.org/?p=1442 When it comes to personal finance, think of filing for bankruptcy as the nuclear option. It’s a last resort. If you’re stuck in an impossible financial situation – besieged by creditors, going deeper into debt every month, and raiding your retirement savings or borrowing from family just to stay afloat – then bankruptcy will let […]

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When it comes to personal finance, think of filing for bankruptcy as the nuclear option. It’s a last resort. If you’re stuck in an impossible financial situation – besieged by creditors, going deeper into debt every month, and raiding your retirement savings or borrowing from family just to stay afloat – then bankruptcy will let you erase some or all of your debts, and start your life fresh.

After all, companies do it all the time. But on a personal level, the nuclear option comes with serious consequences. Your credit record will be trashed for years, making it difficult or even impossible to qualify for mortgages, car loans or credit cards. So only look into it when you’ve exhausted all other options.

If you can address your budget shortfall by overhauling your monthly expenses, for instance, then that’s what you need to do. Get rid of that second car, refinance your mortgage at a lower rate, trim all non-critical spending, find a cheaper apartment if you’re renting, or sell your home and move to a smaller place until you’re back on your feet.

If even extreme measures won’t make a dent in your debt load, though, then it’s time to consider bankruptcy. It’s not as breezy a process as it was years ago, before new regulations kicked in. These days you’ll need to get credit counseling (out of your own pocket), and undergo means testing to make sure your income doesn’t surpass certain levels.

So-called Chapter 7 bankruptcy is the more extreme option, getting rid of most of your debts entirely (except those that can never be wiped away, like child, spousal support and some types of school debt). As a result creditors might come after everything you own, like your home or car, so it’s a better fit for those who have virtually no assets. Chapter 13 is a less-severe solution: those with a steady income can keep their home and car, but have to file a repayment plan with the courts, so debts get paid back eventually over three to five years.

A bankruptcy lawyer can help you navigate the process (find one at nacba.org/attorneyfinder), and a trustee will decide the case. A Chapter 7 filing will stay on your credit record for a decade, and Chapter 13 for about seven years. But if it’s delivering you from a financial situation that was destroying your family’s future, then filing for bankruptcy is at least worth a look.

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5 Things to Do Before Applying for a Loan https://www.creditrepairexpert.org/5-things-applying-loan/ https://www.creditrepairexpert.org/5-things-applying-loan/#respond Sun, 02 Apr 2017 09:51:55 +0000 https://www.creditrepairexpert.org/?p=1440 If we’ve learned anything from the economic meltdown, it’s that credit can be both a wonderful and a terrible thing. Used judiciously, a loan can help you get a home or a car without having to come up with all that cash yourself. But when overused, credit can be a quick road to bankruptcy when […]

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If we’ve learned anything from the economic meltdown, it’s that credit can be both a wonderful and a terrible thing. Used judiciously, a loan can help you get a home or a car without having to come up with all that cash yourself. But when overused, credit can be a quick road to bankruptcy when the bill comes due.

Thankfully, you can avoid nightmarish scenarios by knowing the credit game beforehand. The five steps to get you started right:

1. Check your credit score and credit report. You can do this either through MyFico.com, AnnualCreditReport.com (the site that grants you one free report from each agency every year) or the sites of any of the major credit-rating agencies (Experian, TransUnion and Equifax). This will let you spot black marks (like unpaid bills) in advance, and take action to correct them before you apply for a loan. Even if there’s just a simple error on the report, it could take months to get it removed, so give yourself enough of a time cushion to have it resolved.

 2. Do your loan calculations early. Online calculators, such as those at Bankrate.com, can help you figure out what a $20,000 car loan or a $200,000 home loan translates into every month. Setting those cost boundaries will make sure you don’t overstep them and take on too much debt. 

3. For home loans, get your down payment together. This is a long-term project, so it’s something you should have started yesterday. If you know you’ll need to put down roughly 20 percent on a home purchase, then budget accordingly and start working towards that goal. Otherwise when signing loan documents, you might have to scramble at the last minute to come up with lump sums or risk losing the loan altogether. 

4. Shop around. Don’t opt for the first loan offer you receive, but have a handful of options available to you. Mortgage brokers can get banks to compete for your business (find a local representative at Namb.org), as can sites like LendingTree.com. Healthy competition will prevent you from getting saddled with an unfairly high interest rate. 

5. Get your paperwork in order. Especially these days, after having been burned in the subprime lending crisis, banks require a flood of documentation before loaning out a single penny. So start getting those documents together, whether it’s old tax returns, recent pay stubs or letters from your HR department confirming your employment.

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How to Find the Best Savings Account https://www.creditrepairexpert.org/find-best-savings-account/ https://www.creditrepairexpert.org/find-best-savings-account/#respond Sun, 02 Apr 2017 09:38:26 +0000 https://www.creditrepairexpert.org/?p=1438 Low interest rates may be terrific for people who are taking out a mortgage. For diligent savers, though, rock-bottom rates aren’t so great. In fact right now, average rates for the nation’s savings accounts are below a paltry 1 percent. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do your homework, and seek out the best possible […]

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Low interest rates may be terrific for people who are taking out a mortgage. For diligent savers, though, rock-bottom rates aren’t so great. In fact right now, average rates for the nation’s savings accounts are below a paltry 1 percent.

But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do your homework, and seek out the best possible deal for your money. Over time, even tiny differences in what banks are offering you can add up to a whole lot of much-needed cash.

Check out the highest savings-account rates in the nation, for instance, at popular consumer information site Bankrate. Or you can test out one of the many sites like Mint  that enable you to compare and contrast savings accounts.

If you know you won’t need access to your money for at least six months or more, Certificates of Deposit (CDs) can be a good option. Different from a savings account, a CD will lock in your money for a set period of time, and knock you with penalties if you have to withdraw it early. Savings accounts, on the other hand, offer the flexibility of being able to shift your money to another bank at any time.

All savings accounts are not created equal, though, so always check the fine print before you sign up. Make sure the bank is FDIC-insured, especially in an era when many financial institutions have failed. Some accounts require a high minimum balance to qualify for their best rate, either at opening or for the duration of the account. Some have regular monthly fees, and others have rates that drop off precipitously after an introductory period.

Beyond banks, keep in mind any organizations you may be a part of. Costco or AAA members, for instance, may be offered higher-than-normal interest rates through those groups. Also make sure a straight savings account is really what you need: If you’re going to need occasional access to other services like online bill pay, then you may need to look into checking accounts instead.

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5 Things to Consider Before a Small Business Loan https://www.creditrepairexpert.org/5-things-consider-small-business-loan/ https://www.creditrepairexpert.org/5-things-consider-small-business-loan/#respond Sun, 02 Apr 2017 09:25:14 +0000 https://www.creditrepairexpert.org/?p=1436 If you thought the economic meltdown was hard on the big banks, just take a look at what America’s small businesses had to go through. According to one survey by the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), a third of small businesses reported that they weren’t able to get any credit lines, almost a fifth […]

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If you thought the economic meltdown was hard on the big banks, just take a look at what America’s small businesses had to go through. According to one survey by the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), a third of small businesses reported that they weren’t able to get any credit lines, almost a fifth had their loan or credit-card terms changed, and a quarter say their survival is now in question.

And unlike the situation with the financial giants, no one’s arriving with a big pot of bailout money. But while getting funding for your small business might be increasingly difficult these days, it’s not impossible. You just have to be realistic, get your paperwork in order – and know where to look.

1. Think small. While many of the banking behemoths are gun-shy about lending right now, it’s often a different story on the local level. Approach a smaller institution that knows your business and your community; find one at FindaCreditUnion.com. Then shop around for the best rate, by getting quotes from at least two or three banks, rather than accepting the first lending offer that comes along.

2. Use credit wisely. Small business-oriented credit cards are a handy way to secure a credit line, without as much paperwork as a more formal loan. Offerings like the American Express Plum card, for instance, boast perks like discounts for paying your bills on time – or extra time to pay, with no additional charges. In addition, many other credit card companies offer similar cards for business owners, including Chase and Capital One.

3. Seek out investors. Venture capitalists and angel investors could also be the ones to take your operations to the next level. Particularly in the technology space, it’s a time-honored way of securing startup cash – although you may pay a heavy price, in terms of handing over a percentage of the company. Find the right VC to pitch at the National Venture Capital Association. Also, Inc. magazine keeps a directory of Angel Investor networks and groups. Another common route to early cash for your start-up is to seek help from friends and family.

4. Work with your clients or suppliers. Another thing to remember: banks aren’t the only ones with money. If you have a longstanding relationship with particular clients or suppliers, those organizations might be interested in making loans themselves. It can be a win-win; they’re keeping you in business, and making interest on the loan, probably much more than they could get by stashing cash in a savings account.

5. Make the stimulus work for you. The federal government may even ride to your rescue, in the form of the Small Business Administration. Part of the stimulus money is dedicated to helping small businesses who need a funding lifeline – up to $35,000, in fact, with zero interest and plenty of time to repay (up to five years). For the latest on such funding programs, check out the Small Business Admnistration’s website.

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Common First-Time Home Buyer Mistakes to Avoid https://www.creditrepairexpert.org/common-first-time-home-buyer-mistakes-avoid/ https://www.creditrepairexpert.org/common-first-time-home-buyer-mistakes-avoid/#respond Sun, 02 Apr 2017 09:16:26 +0000 https://www.creditrepairexpert.org/?p=1434 The good news: after the thumping the housing market has taken, it’s likely a smart time to be buying real estate for a lot of first-time buyers. The bad news: even in a favorable environment, you might still make a major mistake in your purchase. It’s not necessarily your fault, it’s just that home-buying is […]

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The good news: after the thumping the housing market has taken, it’s likely a smart time to be buying real estate for a lot of first-time buyers. The bad news: even in a favorable environment, you might still make a major mistake in your purchase.

It’s not necessarily your fault, it’s just that home-buying is a tricky, multi-layered process that can be daunting to the unfamiliar. Knowledge is power, so go in armed with critical information. Some of the most common blunders to avoid:

Blind trust in your real estate agent. Your real estate agent may be the nicest person in the world. But the agent’s ultimate goal is to sell the house, and for the highest price possible, since that’s where they derive their commission. So don’t think that they’re going to highlight the house’s negatives: maybe the local school is terrible, or the neighborhood’s comparative sale prices have been slipping. To discover all that, you’ve got to do your own due diligence. One way to turn things in your favor: use an exclusive buyer’s agent (find one at NAEBA.org). Be sure that you use an agent whom you trust and who has good references. Even a buyer’s agent can turn against you since they too are paid by a commission that comes from a percentage of the sales price (i.e., higher sales price = higher commission for your agent). 

Lack of a home inspection. Anyone who doesn’t have an accredited home inspector check out their potential purchase deserves whatever is coming to them. It’s your right as a buyer to check the place out for factors like structural flaws or mold, which could set you back countless thousands of dollars. Find a home inspector at ASHI.org, and don’t sign anything until they’ve delivered their verdict. 

Not adding up the total costs. When you’re calculating how much home you can afford, the mortgage is just step one. There are monthly maintenance fees, if you’re in a co-operative apartment; local property taxes, which can be punishing; homeowner’s association fees; and day-to-day repair costs. Your utility costs will likely be more expensive and don’t forget that you may need to buy some furniture to fill up the extra rooms you never had living in your old apartment. Make sure you can swallow all those combined costs, not just the monthly mortgage. 

Skipping mortgage pre-approval. The housing market is heating up again – albeit slowly – so you may find yourself in a market where homes are getting multiple offers. If that’s the case, having a pre-approved mortgage from a lender is what will get you serious consideration from the seller. If you don’t have one, your offer could just get thrown on the scrap heap. 

Not getting it in writing. Sad to say, but an oral agreement in a home sale means virtually nothing. If you want to include certain clauses in the contract – say, if you want to sell your own house first, before trading up to the new one – it needs to be in black and white. Having an experienced housing lawyer in your corner will cost you a bit upfront, but it will help you navigate through this legally treacherous process.

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10 Budgeting Tips for the Ultra Lazy https://www.creditrepairexpert.org/10-budgeting-tips-ultra-lazy/ https://www.creditrepairexpert.org/10-budgeting-tips-ultra-lazy/#respond Sun, 02 Apr 2017 09:10:18 +0000 https://www.creditrepairexpert.org/?p=1432 It can be a difficult task, finding enough fat to cut from our bloated budgets. But it doesn’t necessarily have to be. In the interest of making your budget-balancing as easy as humanly possible, here are 10 ways you can save money, every single month, without lifting more than a finger. 1. Automate your payments. […]

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It can be a difficult task, finding enough fat to cut from our bloated budgets. But it doesn’t necessarily have to be. In the interest of making your budget-balancing as easy as humanly possible, here are 10 ways you can save money, every single month, without lifting more than a finger.

1. Automate your payments. Whether you’re directing money to your IRA or paying the water bill, make it all automatic so you don’t even have to think about it. You’ll save more money for retirement, and avoid those late-payment charges whenever you forget about a bill. This is fairly easy to do with online bill pay these days. Check with your bank, if you’re not already set up.

2. Dine at home. Keeping your meals in-house will save hugely on those pricey restaurant bills. And if you cook in large quantities and eat your own leftovers, you’ll cut your expenses even more than if you’re whipping up a new creation from scratch every night.

3. Comparison shop online. There’s no need to run all over town to find an item at a decent price. Sites like PriceGrabber, NexTag and BizRate can scour the entire web in seconds, making sure you get the best possible deal on your merchandise.

4. Use rewards cards. If you have to spend money, you might as well get some perks for it, by using a credit card with a handsome rewards program. Sites like CardRatings and CreditCards.com can help you find the best out there.

5. Bundle your cable, Internet and phone. Odds are you’re already buying those three services, so pick up the phone and get them all from the same company. Whether it’s Time Warner, Cablevision, or any other provider, they’ll undoubtedly be thrilled to give you a monthly discount.

6. Refinance your mortgage. Even if you’re happily in your home and not planning to move anywhere, you can still save money. Interest rates are still at historic lows, and if you can get a new loan for 1 percent less than you’re paying now, it may be worth the switch to save hundreds every month. Just be sure to understand how refinancing could change all the terms of your loan, and also factor in all the costs of refinancing. Sometimes you could end up paying much more in refinancing fees than you’d be saving in the end. Or, you could end up adding more time to your loan and increasing your total payout, which wouldn’t save you money at all.

7. Buy less for the holidays. Here’s the laziest solution of all. People tend to buy more holiday gifts than they can really afford, so make a pact with friends and family to keep everyone’s purchasing sane and inexpensive. Less hassle for you, less money drained from your accounts.

8. Cancel the health club membership. Do you truly use it, or is it just for show? If the last time you showed up was during the last Bush administration, cancel those dues, go for a run around the park instead, and pocket the difference.

9. Increase insurance deductibles. It’ll take no more than a single call to your insurer. But raising the deductible on policies like auto or home can save you big on all those monthly fees you’re paying. The only catch is that you need to be sure you’ve got that deductible amount on hand in case you need to make a claim because that’s the amount you’d need to kick in before your insurer pays out anything.

10. Slash household bills. Especially in these tough times, there are plenty of companies willing to jockey for your business. At sites like LowerMyBills you can compare and contrast everything from your wireless plan to your home equity loan, to see if you can get better terms. BillShrink is another site that will compare credit cards, wireless plans and even help find the cheapest gas for your car.

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