The Dangers of 5 Popular Ways to Pay for College

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For many families, sending a child to college is a quintessential part of the American dream. But these days, you'd better start saving when they're still in diapers if you want to make higher education a reality. With the cost of college continuing to go through the roof, a growing majority of students are left searching for ways to subsidize the expense.   It has been said that education is the greatest investment, but to what lengths must you really go? When your savings, income, and even financial aid and grants  still aren't enough, alternative options are becoming increasingly necessary. While each has the potential to help pay the bills, they also come with inherent risks that often out-weigh rewards.   1. Credit Cards   Families often effectively … [Read more...]

So what’s Your Excuse?

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This week, ABCNews posted an article about the craziest excuses for poor FICO® Scores. This got me thinking about some of the excuses out there. Now we aren’t in grade school anymore, so “the dog ate my billing statement” isn’t excusable. Especially with online/paperless payment options available. Likewise, my dear child spilled their milk on the mail isn’t a real crying issue. But there are legitimate excuses out there for poor credit scores, and legitimate reasons for good FICO Scores. Let’s try to blend the two together.   I Forgot to Pay on Time Hey, months fly by so quickly sometimes that some things escape notice. And we’ve all had that “Wait, it’s the first already? Oh no, I need to pay X!” the important thing is 1)      Get a calendar/reminder system set up – can be an … [Read more...]

New School Year, New Savings

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The new school year is right around the corner. For some, the biggest concern is getting the right type of backpack, while for others it’s getting the right type of loan. Regardless of the new school affecting your life, you will most likely need to go shopping for supplies. Here are a number of helpful tips to let you get the best bang for your buck.   Coupons   For simplicity’s sake, a lot of the nationwide pharmacy chains offer weekly ads. CVS and Walgreens both offer a weekly ad accessible through the mail, in stores, and even online. With these you can find deals on essentials not just for the first day of school, but for projects and supplies all year round. Remember these are more than just pharmacies with school supplies – they sell groceries, seasonal goods, and … [Read more...]

Word on the Web: Week of 8-4

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We are officially in August, and while the heat is still around, the break is quickly coming to an end. Students are returning to school, driving schedules are changing, and financial concerns are filtering in. All across the web, bloggers are providing important information regarding these concerns. Here are a few we thought would be the most beneficial to our readers.   5 Steps to Choosing Your First Credit Card http://www.doughroller.net/credit-cards/5-steps-to-choosing-your-first-credit-card/ Our friends at Dough Roller provide a helpful guide for those looking into their first credit card. You don’t have to be entering college or entering the workforce to find some great tips. Even if you own multiple cards, you might just learn something new.   Five Credit … [Read more...]

Mom, I’m Going to College and I Need a Credit Card

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I had the pleasure of spending a couple of days with my brother and his family as his daughter is preparing to go off to college in a couple of weeks.  She is excited about the adventures and experiences that await her, and is busy trying to get organized with the “stuff” she will need to have prepared.   Interestingly, the subject of credit cards came up and my niece expressed that it was really important she have a credit card to be used only “in case of emergencies”.  My niece is one of those people that will give a stranger her last dime and seems to spend $20 when she only has $10.  As such, her parents had concerns about her ability to “self-regulate” and not consider charging a bunch of late night pizza’s for her dorm floor as “an emergency”!   However, they … [Read more...]

How Student Loan Debt Factors into Your FICO® Score

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This year’s summer break may be a bit more stressful if you are a college student who plans on taking out subsidized federal student loans to help pay for upcoming tuition.  Unless Congress takes action this summer to restore lower rates, new student loans will have interest rates twice what they were in the spring semester (3.4 percent to 6.8 percent).  You don’t need to be a math major to know this is not good news.   This difference in interest rates will increase the total amount of money you end up investing in your education.  And it will likely impact a lot of US consumers.   With education costs rapidly outpacing inflation, more students and their parents are taking out student loans to pay for education. Based on recent FICO research looking at a large data … [Read more...]

The Sea of Scores

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In this technologically savvy era, when it comes to making an acquisition, you want to know your options. From major purchases like buying a home or a new car, to day to day events like trying a new restaurant or seeing the latest Hollywood blockbuster – you want to get the best bang for your buck. You want to know what is out there and that requires research. Checking your credit score is no different.   Lately there has been a lot of discussion on where to get credit scores. Our own Vice President of Business Development weighed in on the discussion, answering the question: Which credit score is the right one?. His response was there are many options - free “FAKO” scores or the paid FICO® Scores from myFICO.com. Ultimately his advice was to go with the one “based on the model … [Read more...]

Cutting Workplace Costs

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We work hard for our money – but how much does your work itself cost you? Expenses like work attire, eating out, transportation, and morning coffee can eat away at that hard-earned paycheck. Make sure you’re not sabotaging your paycheck, and check out these tips to decrease your work expenses and increase savings for your personal life:   Affordable Work Attire   If you’re fresh out of college, or transitioning from a casual work environment to a more professional one, building the necessary work wardrobe can cost quite a hefty sum. To cut back on costs, invest in a few staple pieces, like suits and shoes. Although they can be expensive, high-quality garments that you will wear everyday are good investments. A pair of $100 shoes that will look nice for a few years are … [Read more...]

You Don’t Need Luck for a Great FICO Score

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As St. Patrick’s Day approaches, I see more and more green merchandise in the stores with sayings that tout the “luck of the Irish”.   Personally -- and I am part Irish-- I find this reference confusing as history (including the recent financial meltdown) would indicate a race on the lower end of the “lucky scale.”  There is one school of thought that these phrases originated in America during the period of large scale Irish immigration where the likelihood of being a successful citizen of Irish nationality was thought more the result of luck versus hard work and intelligence.   Thankfully, that stereotype has gone away and everyone regardless of heritage can be Irish on St. Patrick’s Day.   But the good news is you don’t need a leprechaun to help you get a … [Read more...]

12 Ways to Keep Student Loans to a Minimum

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In 2012, the Institute for College Access and Success reported that two-thirds of the 2011 graduating class had student loan debt - and the average amount was $26,600.   As pointed out by FICO experts, student loan debt is a growing problem for two major reasons: consumers are carrying more student loan debt than ever before, and more federally-backed student loans are being offered to consumers with questionably low FICO Scores.   Plus, with the unemployment rate for the under twenty-five crowd hovering at twice the national average, $26,000 in student loans can become a huge burden post-graduation.   It is possible, however, to graduate college with a bright future and very little – or even no – student loan debt. It just takes more work and planning … [Read more...]

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