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Understanding Your Credit Score

debt Jul 29, 2020

It’s no secret that many Americans have very little knowledge of their credit score or general knowledge about keeping credit scores healthy. For example, VantageScore reported in their 2019 annual survey about consumer understanding of credit scores the following:

  • 78% of respondents in 2012, but only 62% in 2019, correctly indicated that people have more than one credit score. [That is down 16% from 2012]
  • 85% in 2012, but only 66% in 2019, correctly answered that keeping a low credit card balance helps raise a low credit score or maintain a high one. [That’s down 19% from 2012.]

The study found that the people who responded thought they had excellent or good knowledge. In fact, more people in 2019 said that they were confident in their knowledge than they were in 2018. But, as you can see, people actually know less about their credit scores. They just think they have a very firm grasp on the subject.

Understanding these numbers and the impact they will make in your...

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Is There Really Such a Thing as Good Debt vs. Bad Debt?

debt Mar 25, 2020

Let's face it. Debt can be complicated. In some cases, it's a necessary evil. And there are many ways you can go wrong with debt. I was like so many others who came out of school drowning in student loan debt. Couple that with credit cards and a car payment and I thought I would never get ahead. Believe it or not, though, debt can also be a good thing.  

Debt to Hurt You 

For many people, debt is a negative term, and it should be. There are many ways that debt can hurt your finances and can make it more difficult for you to secure your financial future. When you're looking at good debt vs. bad debt, you must look at the whole picture instead of just looking at the basics of "one kind" of debt. There are many different kinds of debt, and all of them can impact your credit in different ways. In fact, just having the debt exist isn't usually enough to make it hurt your credit, but the actions that you take can determine whether it's good or bad debt (more on that in a...

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How Online Bill Pay Can Save You Time and Money

budgeting debt saving Mar 18, 2020

Many people have switched to online bill pay, and most of them do it for the convenience factor. Did you know, though, that paying your bills online could actually save you time and money? 

What is Online Bill Pay?

Online bill pay is, most simply stated – an online and/or automated way of paying your bills online. You can set it up with your bank to pay all of your bills or with each individual merchant by adding your credit, debit or bank account to a payment processor.

In addition to the convenience, online payment processors typically send regular reminders about payment due dates! That means, no more late payments and no more late fees. 

 

Get Discounts Online 

Many online payment processors offer discounts for automatic or online payments. Why? Because online payments are immediately applied to the account, meaning that the company spends less money on manpower. 

More common than getting a discount for paying online is getting a discount for going...

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Should You Pay Off Debt or Save For Retirement?

debt retirement Mar 11, 2020

Juggling multiple financial goals can be stressful and confusing. It's especially challenging to make progress on other financial goals when you're drowning in debt. The message is clear when it comes to saving for retirement - start early! However, some financial gurus are adamant that you should pay off all of your revolving debt before investing for retirement. So, should you pay off your debt first or start saving for retirement? How do you decide? 

#1 Make a Budget

When making your budget, you have to consider everything. Evaluate how much you make, your expenses such as insurance (health and vehicle), utilities, groceries, etc. your debts, and your saving plans. When figuring out each month what you can afford, we have to make sure we have every aspect covered in our life. Going through the budgeting process will help you determine the money you have available for debt repayment as well as for retirement savings.

For each debt, be sure to identify the...

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Financial Horror Stories: Overspending to Please Others

We’ve asked several people to share their financial horror stories with us with the idea that we can learn from their mistakes. Today we have the opportunity to get to know Sarah, owner of Lemon Blessings' Administrative Consulting Services and practical family finance blogger. 

What’s the biggest money mistake you’ve ever made, and how did it impact your life? 

One of the biggest mistakes I made was applying for and accepting store credit cards early into my college years to have the clothes and decor I thought I needed. Halfway through my second year of college, I had cards for Macy's, Maurices, JCPenney, and more. To top it off, I often forgot to make the payments, which resulted in me defaulting on all of them. 

If you could go back in time, what would you do differently?

I'd like to say that I wouldn't take out those credit cards to start with, but I honestly didn't know any different. I spent years watching the adults in my life...

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Financial Horror Stories: Excessive Debt

We’ve asked several people to share their financial horror stories with us with the idea that we can learn from their mistakes. Today we have the opportunity to get to know Victoria, busy mom, wife, and full-time blogger from the UK. She started blogging in April 2013 and now writes four blogs. Her favorite topics include making and saving money, self-employment, healthy living, travel, and home and garden.

What’s the biggest money mistake you’ve ever made, and how did it impact your life?

The biggest mistake I ever made was getting into £17500 worth of personal and irresponsible debt aged 18-19 years old. As soon as I could get store cards and credit cards, I did, without thinking of the consequences.

Not that it's an excuse, but I had low self-confidence, low self-esteem, and was suffering from depression. I tried to fill a void in my self by going shopping and buying new things, thinking it would make me happy.

I had no money management skills and lived a...

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Financial Horror Stories: Vacation Timeshare Regret

We’ve asked several people to share their financial horror stories with us with the idea that we can learn from their mistakes. Today we have the opportunity to get to know Omotola, the lead consultant at the Funding Magnet where she works with non-profits to find the perfect funding fit and help them create impact. Omotola herself is on a debt-free journey and hopes to be completely debt-free by December 31, 2020. 

What’s the biggest money mistake you’ve ever made and how did it impact your life? 

I bought a vacation timeshare thinking it was a prudent investment. Instead, it’s ended up having hidden costs and most of the resorts advertised are always unavailable every time we want to book them.

If you could go back in time, what would you do differently?

I would not go into debt in order to build a vacation culture for my family. I would choose to save up for the vacation and plan for it yearly.

Did anything good come out of the...

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Financial Horror Stories: Credit Card Debt

We’ve asked several people to share their financial horror stories with us with the idea that we can learn from their mistakes. Today we have the opportunity to get to know Andrea, the writer, blogger, and owner of Saving Joyfully. Andrea works diligently to share valuable tips and insights on how to save money and achieve financial freedom while living a more joyful life.

What’s the biggest money mistake you’ve ever made and how did it impact your life?

Debt acquired on credit cards while in college to help me be able to afford tuition and books when I was unable to get student loans. Once I was able to qualify and receive student loans I accumulated additional debt that way as well.

If you could go back in time, what would you do differently?          

I look back on these decisions now and wish that I had made them differently. If I could go back in time I would not use credit cards to fund my tuition and books, when I simply could...

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6 Simple Things to Do to Start Paying Off Debt

debt Jul 31, 2019

Do you dread opening your mail? Has your debt gotten so out of control you feel like you’ll never be able to see a $0 balance on your credit card statement?  It doesn't have to be this way!

Start with these easy simple tips to move your way towards a debt-free life:

1. Take a cold, hard, HONEST look at your debt. With bills arriving at different times of the month, we can easily have tunnel vision for the true amount of debt we have. Collect all your bills and lay them out. Look at the BIG picture. It may not be pretty but this is a good start on getting real with yourself.

2. Call your credit card companies to negotiate a lower interest rate. This really does work. Explain to your credit card company how you’ve been a loyal customer and would hate to have to transfer your balance to a different lower interest card. (This can also work wonders with internet and cable companies!) 

3. Check your credit score. Mistakes do happen. Be sure everything is in alignment...

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