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The perks of “exceptional” credit: 3 ways to capitalize on 800+ FICO® Scores

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The latest FICO® Score data brought with it some encouraging news about consumers’ FICO® Scores and credit health: a growing number of U.S consumers—19.9%—have FICO Scores of 800 or higher. That’s nearly one in five people with FICO Scores in the “exceptional” credit range.   With news of more people boasting 800+ FICO Scores, we thought now’s the perfect time to detail a few specific perks of having high scores. Here are 3 ways to take advantage of “exceptional” FICO Scores.   1. Save thousands on a new mortgage One of the biggest financial advantages of having “exceptional” FICO Scores is the ability to qualify for the lowest interest rates when applying for a mortgage. With mortgage rates at historic lows, many first-time homebuyers (and current homeowners … [Read more...]

5 Ways saving money could help your FICO Scores

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One of the best things about FICO® Scores is that they don’t consider your income or savings. That fact alone helps make lending fairer – lenders get an unbiased assessment of your credit health (whether they also consider your income is up to them). It can be tempting to overlook your savings and rely solely on credit – especially if you’ve managed to obtain some of those high-limit credit cards. But it’s not the smartest way to manage your financial health.   Why have a large savings account when you can obtain more credit at the click of a button or the quick jot of your signature? Besides the fact that credit cards typically charge you interest while savings accounts charge very little if anything, there are a lot of great reasons to build up a healthy savings account. One … [Read more...]

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...]

Dads, grads, and jobs: Thoughts on sticking to your budget while still enjoying the summer season

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School is ending. Temperatures are rising. Some are going on vacation, some are going to camp, and some are going to work. A lot of us are still just going to work. There are also people yelling at their televisions as we are in the NBA Finals, the Stanley Cup, and Women’s World Cup. We are in June, a month that usually goes by too quick and is oft forgot – it’s the month in between Memorial Day and July 4th for us hard workers — but that doesn’t mean things aren’t happening.   Travel and credit cards   June is the start time for a lot of travel — I just had two different friends come to visit last week, and have two more visiting this week — but travel isn’t exactly cheap. Plane tickets can be hundreds of dollars, plus the cost of hotels, car rentals, dining, … [Read more...]

Don’t ignore these 6 financial red flags before you get married

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It’s summer!  Hooray for warm weather and cookouts and yes—even weddings!  June is one of the most popular wedding choices around and who can blame those of you who save a June date?   The weather in most areas is sublime and tons of brides are anxious to tie the knot and make those December engagements legal and official.  Love is a good thing but it does come with a price tag that is both emotional and financial.   How many times have you heard a divorcee proclaim that if they knew now what they didn’t know then?  I decided to ask a few people to complete this question with their own answers and I was amazed at the sage advice that was shared so openly from both happily married types and from some divorced folks as well.  Take these suggestions as simple guidance.  … [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...]

Distributing a 401k in retirement

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For years you've been accumulating assets in your 401k plan. But now you're retiring and you know that you'll need to make some changes. What happens to your 401k when you retire? Do you need to begin withdrawing immediately? Can distributions be scheduled? Or do you have to take your money as a lump sum?   You're not alone in asking these questions. Approximately 10,000 baby boomers reach retirement age every day. And many of them have at least one 401k account.   Your 401k account is regulated by rules created by the plan administrator and by the IRS.   Your first decision is whether to leave the money in your 401k plan or withdraw it.   Most advisors will tell you to take the money out. If you choose to stay, contact the plan administrator and … [Read more...]

Are you financially healthy?

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Would you describe yourself or your family as being financially healthy? What exactly does that mean?   I asked several friends and colleagues how they would define someone as being “financially healthy.” While the responses varied (most notably by age or life-stage), they did have a common theme. Namely, having a steady stream of income to meet monthly expense obligations as well as having enough left over to set aside for savings or investing.   Here are some of the responses I received:   Making a lot of money Having a sizeable nest egg for retirement Having a stable job and my kids college education paid for Owning my own home Paying all my bills and having some money left over to “splurge” on myself and my family Having all my student loans … [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...]

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