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

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...]

Word on the web: Spending + saving smart

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Saving money isn’t just about frugality. It’s all about making smart choices at smart times. As we head into the season of spending, take a minute to focus on spending wisely. This month’s Word on the Web features tips and tricks to help you make smart financial decisions and save money in the end!       Read This to Maximize Your Rewards and Cash Back This Holiday Season You can actually come out ahead this holiday season if you play your cards right – literally. Wisebread provides a list of creative ways to maximize your credit card rewards while you’re crossing off items on your gift list. (http://www.wisebread.com/read-this-to-maximize-your-rewards-and-cash-back-this-holiday-season)   Saving Money on Bills It’s the continual payments and bills … [Read more...]

How identity theft
can impact your credit scores

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When people think about identity theft, they often focus on credit card fraud—someone racks up fraudulent transactions on your debit or credit card. This type of identity theft can be extremely frustrating, but luckily, credit card companies and banks have security measures and processes in place to keep your cards protected. It’s the other types of identity theft you have to worry about.   Other types of identity theft show symptoms slowly. You might not know about the theft for weeks, months or even years after it occurs. Most victims, a whopping 72%, don’t even know where or when the theft occurred (http://www.identitytheftassistance.org/pageview.php?cateid=47).   And then one dismal day, you’ll discover that an identity thief has opened up loans, taken on a … [Read more...]

4 Surprising things
that cause A aard inquiry

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When you’re focusing on improving your credit, every bit of credit activity is crucial. You’ve been tirelessly working to pay off debt and manage your credit responsibly. The last thing you need is for a hard inquiry to hit your credit report and potentially impact your FICO® Scores.   What’s an inquiry? Inquiries occur when someone checks, or inquires about, your credit. They are often also called credit checks. There are two categories of credit inquiries—one that your FICO Scores consider and one that your FICO Scores don’t consider.   A “hard” inquiry occurs when you authorize a lender or other entity to view your credit reports and FICO Scores.  Since you authorized this inquiry, it’s often called a “hard” inquiry. Hard inquires can impact your FICO Scores as … [Read more...]

With threat of data breaches,
5 tips to shop secure this holiday season

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Last year during the holiday season, Target suffered its notorious data breach exposing the personal information of over 70 million victims. At the time, it was the largest data breach we had seen yet.   Since the Target data breach, we’ve seen major retailers including Neiman Marcus, Kmart and Home Depot face a similar fate. Even just a few days ago, the US Postal Service announced1 a data breach that may have affected over 800,000 employees and a not-yet-disclosed number of customers.   What do all of these data breaches mean to you? So far, over 78 million identity records2 have been exposed — things like credit card numbers, email addresses and Social Security numbers of innocent victims. If you’re information was exposed, the impact could be minimal or … [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.