Blog Posts by Kelsey Havens

Kelsey Havens is a writer, financial health enthusiast, consumer protection advocate and Content Manager at myFICO. Connect with her on Google Plus: +KelseyHavens

3 ways to pay off debt & how doing so could impact your FICO Scores

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There’s an endless supply of theories on how to manage your debt in a healthy, responsible way. Some believe not to get into debt at all while others rack up credit card after credit card with little consideration. Neither extreme will likely have a positive impact on your FICO® Scores, but luckily most people fall somewhere in the middle.   At FICO, we recommend using available credit and loans when appropriate, making regular on-time payments, paying off debt when it’s best for you and keeping your revolving debt utilization low. With that said, there are a lot of people out there that simply feel buried in debt and want to pay it off completely. That’s a fine approach, but keep in mind that it might not have the impact on your FICO Scores that you were … [Read more...]

5 Things you should really consider when paying off debt

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It happens to the best of us and for so many different reasons: shopping addiction, unemployed, entrepreneur, medical issues, career advancement and college expenses. Whatever your reason, you’re in debt and it’s stressful.   Paying off your debt doesn’t have to be a traumatic experience. With a little planning and organization, you can develop and stick to a reasonable, executable debt-management strategy. But before you start planning and making payments, make sure you understand these five key points.   1. Paying off your revolving debt in full may not be better for your FICO® Scores While it’s true that, generally speaking, people who carry higher debt amounts are riskier compared to those that do not, research shows there is an exception.  People who have a … [Read more...]

10 things your debt collector doesn’t want you to know

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Nobody likes to face a debt collector. A call from a debt collector could be a symptom of financial hardship, or it could simply be an irritating reminder that you forgot to pay your doctor bill. Either way, you’re not happy.   Even so, you should definitely pick up the phone.  A bill going to collections can have a substantial impact on your FICO® Scores. It’s possible for a debt collector to start calling you before the collections has hit your credit report. So if you pick up the phone and pay off the debt immediately, you may be able to avoid an impact on your FICO Scores.   If the collection has already been submitted to the credit bureaus, it’s likely you’ll see an impact on your FICO Scores. Collections stay on your credit report for about seven years — even if … [Read more...]

Word on the web: Don’t let the warm weather put your finances off track

With the energy and joy only warm weather and sunshine can inspire, we’re entering summer with a pension for vacations, beaches, barbeques and fun. See ya later winter. But before you start charging plane tickets and breaking your budget for a brand new grill, let’s take a few minutes to refocus on financial and credit fitness. Here are 4 articles  to help you get focused.   Consumer tips for dealing with debt The first step in managing your debt is acknowledging that you have a problem. The Dollar Stretcher walks you through 9 ways to identify the debt problem and 9 ways to fix it.   How to apply for student loans while minding your credit Applying for student loans certainly won’t ruin your FICO Scores, but it’s important to think about how student debt could have a … [Read more...]

How to prepare for your 2015 taxes now

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With tax day behind us, most tax payers (about 8 out of 10 of you) are thinking of ways to spend their refunds wisely and debating between an indulgent purchase or a responsible investment. If you’re looking for a smart way to spend your refund, this article isn’t for you (although last year we covered this topic in detail). This article is for the poor, disheartened remaining tax payers who found themselves in the negative this year.   Let’s start by noting that you should absolutely not ignore paying taxes you owe to the IRS. If your taxes are not paid in a timely manner, the IRS can report the delinquent taxes to the credit bureaus. This is called a tax lien. Tax liens are considered by FICO Scores and stay on your credit reports for seven years or more, so it’s important … [Read more...]

9 Easy ways to Spring clean your finances

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In the midst of warm weather, new growth, yard work and deep cleaning, don’t let your finances be overlooked. Leverage that spring-cleaning feeling and take the sponge to your finances. Here are 9 ways to clean up your finances for a squeaky clean year. (For 6 more tips, head to our spring cleaning page!).       Spring cleaning tips for beginners   1. Evaluate your budget   Your budget is the foundation of your financial health, so it’s a great place to kick off your spring cleaning.  Use a spend analyzer through your bank or a third-party application to figure out where your money has been going. Or simply review your transactions from the last few months. Then compare those trends with your budget. Have you been staying on … [Read more...]

How identity theft insurance works

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Becoming a victim of a crime is something we neither plan for nor even imagine when thinking about the future. That’s why we have insurance. If something does happen, you’ll have assistance. You insure your car against break-ins, you insure your house against burglary and you even insure other high-price items like engagement rings or your smart phone.   Now imagine if you become a victim of identity theft—and not just credit card fraud. Say you discover an identity thief has taken out 3-5 loans in your name and has sold your information on the black market so that it can be bought, sold, used and abused. Do you have a plan for when that happens? Think about all the time it will take to correct your credit profile, restore your identity and monitor for more attacks. It can be … [Read more...]

5 Big credit mistakes you should avoid at all costs

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When it comes to credit, some people prefer the ignorant bliss method: Don’t look at your credit, don’t worry about your credit, don’t even think about your credit. This method can actually be quite effective for several months or even years – that is until you’re thinking about buying a new home, leasing a new car, financing a new computer, or whatever else you've been dreaming up.   When you’re actually looking for credit, it will quickly become clear that the ignorant bliss method was a mistake. Those financial decisions you carelessly made might actually hurt your FICO® Scores or credit history.   You don’t have to be the type of person that worries about credit constantly (although a periodic review of your FICO® Scores and credit reports is always a good idea). … [Read more...]

5 Totally painless ways to save money

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  It’s one of those things that sounds easy in theory. Just don’t spend so much on groceries – easy peasy! Next thing you know you’re in a Whole Foods on an empty stomach and nothing sounds better than organic, fair-trade chocolate infused with espresso and shipped directly from Brazil. 15 impulse buys later and you’re walking away with a one-night smorgasbord and 100 less dollars to your name.   Turns out, saving money is hard. It’s like your mother always told you, if it was easy everybody would be doing it. And just to be clear: A lot of you aren’t saving money. According to a study conducted by Bankrate.com1, over a quarter of Americans have no savings at all. Of those that do have savings, 67% don’t have enough to cover 6 months of expenses. If this sounds like you, … [Read more...]

Holiday gift guide gor your
money-conscious friend

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They’re known by a variety of names (some more flattering than others): money-savvy, thrifty, cheap. They inspire you to make a budget, they frustrate you by never picking up the check, and they puzzle you when it comes holiday gifting. What do you buy for the person who hates spending? We can help.       1. I Will Teach You To Be Rich Ramit Sethi provides a no-frill approach to financial fitness. The book includes a 6-week plan for getting your finances in shape including sections on banking, saving, budgeting and investing. It’s the perfect gift for someone who’s just starting his/her financial journey and is looking to do a full overhaul.   2. Envelope system wallet To the extreme budgeter in your life, the envelope system is a sacred ritual. … [Read more...]

Disclaimer: This content is not provided or commissioned by a credit card issuer. Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, not those of a credit card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by a credit card issuer. This site may be compensated by credit card issuers mentioned on the site by such companies.