How Credit Impacts Your Insurance

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There are a lot of misconceptions out there about how credit scores are used and in what scenarios they are used. Employment? Nope. College admission? Nope. Insurance? Actually, yes. Well, sort of.   When determining what rates to offer you, your auto and home insurance provider may pull a “credit-based insurance score” that is based on or considers a person’s credit history and may use that score along with other factors that are of interest to an insurance company when evaluating your request for an insurance policy. These scores are different than the FICO Scores you know and love because they are generated to predict insurance risk instead of credit risk. Because of this, the algorithm behind FICO credit-based insurance scores considers credit information factors … [Read more...]

4 Tips for a budget-friendly work week

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Saving a healthy budget is a lot different than actually sticking to a healthy budget. It’s a lot like dieting in that way. I know I shouldn’t eat that cookie, but it looks SO GOOD.  If you really want to stick to that 300-line spreadsheet you spent hours perfecting (or maybe you simply opted to spend 10 minutes in a budgeting app… still counts!), you’ve got to break unhealthy habits, make changes and start disciplining yourself. The cushy savings account you accumulate will be worth the hard work. I promise.     Although a challenging work week can often distract your from overspending, the stress can backfire and result in splurge decisions and breaking budget.  Don’t cave in. Take these three tips to make sure you stick to your budget—at least from Monday to … [Read more...]

Revolving vs. installment credit: Which type of credit is best for you?

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  With the economy recovering, consumers are slowly starting to gain more confidence. Many people are beginning to think about expenditures they have been holding off on as they felt less confident about the economy.  You know … getting that roof repaired that has been on the “fix it” list for a while, trading in that 10-year-old car or finally taking a “real” vacation instead of the “stay-cations” you’ve had over the past several years.     While some people will leverage their savings to fund these expenditures, others may want access to new credit.  If you are in this position and plan on applying for credit, now is the time to think through options and determine which is the best fit for your profile and needs. Here’s a few things you should do … [Read more...]

5 Personal Finance Tips for Millennials

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So people keep calling you a millennial (some say it with a nicer tone than others). Amongst a variety of other defining characteristics, you have the unique (albeit unwelcomed) experience of graduating into a recession. Cons? Lower starting salaries and a lack of options. Pros? You’ve seen what irresponsible money management can do and you don’t want to make the same mistakes.     You’re also a victim of the tuition bubble, burdened with hefty student loan payments and a 30-year payoff plan that might as well be a mortgage. Now before you get out the violin, keep in mind that your generation is also relentlessly optimistic, savvy and smart, making you a force to be reckoned with in the workplace (conceal your ego though, please). If nothing else, we can assume your … [Read more...]

5 Things to Do Before You Go House Hunting

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Looking for your first home to buy is an exciting time in anybody’s life.  It’s also a very daunting process, after all this is likely to be the biggest purchasing decision you’ll make in your entire life (no pressure). Avoid the most common mistakes made by first-home buyers with these five steps.     1. Get a copy of your credit report from all three credit bureaus and check for errors You can get a free copy of your report from TransUnion, Equifax and Experian once per year for free from the government endorsed site annualcreditreport.com. Before you start looking for houses it's vital you check all three of these reports for any errors. An error on your credit report could affect your chances for being approved for a loan or the rate of interest a … [Read more...]

Cash, Credit or Bitcoin—which payment option do you choose?

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While it is unlikely your local grocery store is currently accepting payment in bitcoin, you may have heard of this new emerging form of currency and may be wondering what is it; how does it work; and should you have some bitcoin stashed in your wallet?     Bitcoin is a new form of currency created in 2009 that only exists in digital format. At its core, bitcoin functions like other payment forms—you can purchase goods online or offline using your bitcoins as long as the seller accepts that form of payment. At present, not that many entities take payment in the form of bitcoin (coinmap.org is attempting to track physical locations that accept the currency), and people are likely buying bitcoins more as an investment with hopes they’ll go up in value over … [Read more...]

3 Things You Didn’t Know About Your Credit

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Understanding your full credit picture is usually a learning process. One category of common confusion is the why, what and how surrounding your three credit reports. If you don’t understand how all three of your credit reports affect your financial health, you might be facing some surprises next time you apply for a loan. Here are three things you should know:   #1.Your credit reports are fraternal Your credit reports aren’t identical triplets. In fact, the information on each report may vary greatly. That’s because lenders aren’t required to report to all three bureaus—or any bureaus for that matter. Plus, each bureau processes data differently, so the information reported could vary. For example, a small local lender may only report the credit obligation to one of the three … [Read more...]

7 Strategies for Spring Cleaning Finances: Spring Cleaning Part 2

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Now that we've hopefully turned the page on winter, it's time to switch our collective attention to spring. The winter thaw means different things to different people. It can mean spring break, getting outside and enjoying activities with family and friends, and it can also mean doing some organizing.   Just like it's important to clean behind your bookcases, beds, and couches, you'd also be doing yourself a big favor by spring cleaning your finances. (We wrote about spring cleaning your credit, too.) Here are seven strategies to get started.   1. Get an Organizational System in Place If you don't already have a filing system in your home office, set one up now. You can get a scanner, digitize your documents, and store them in folders on your hard drive or a … [Read more...]

Paying Cash May Cost You More in the Long Run

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The NY Times recently featured an article that talked about Americans who are trying to make a conscious effort to use cash instead of plastic.  The catalyst for this paradigm shift isn’t driven by a need to conserve funds or to avoid finance charges as you might immediately suspect.  Some consumers are choosing cash over credit to insulate themselves from the risk of being a cyber-crook’s next victim.  It seems like a sensible solution on paper until you realize that misguided precautions along these lines are eventually going to hurt your credit score if you are too stringent in your new “cash only “payment habits.   Credit scoring is really a “use it or lose it” situation.  It’s important to remember to use your credit frequently even if you fully intend to pay off the … [Read more...]

Teaching Children to Save Early Part 1: K-4

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myFICO Kids – Making financial awareness, protection & health a part of the entire family.   Today is Teach Children to Save Day, a national program that organizes bankers who are willing to volunteer and to teach children about the importance of saving early on in life. This program has been going on since 1997 and has helped over 6 million students develop good saving habits early in life.   Saving early is essential to having a successful, debt-free life upon entering adulthood. Members of the class of 2011 graduated with an average of $26,000 in student loan debt. Had they saved or invested, I’m confident that number would be much lower. The general population believes financial education is becoming increasingly important, bordering detrimental to the … [Read more...]

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