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5 Things you should really consider when paying off debt

managing debt

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...]

Why identity thieves are hacking the medical system & 7 ways you can protect yourself

Dirty Deeds

  Until recently, it was widely believed that the most probable targets of cyber-attacks would be critical infrastructure like energy grids, transportation and satellites. However, the latest hack into the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) disclosed by US officials goes to highlight the fragility of our employee and medical data. We naively expect that our government, of all entities, should be able to protect its employees from cyber hijinks. If only that were true.   The latest attack estimates that the personal data of every federal worker, federal retiree and up to one million former federal employees just got pwned (geek speak meaning “owned in a humiliating and online manner”). More interestingly, there are early indicators that this group of hackers may also be … [Read more...]

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

to thee i wed image

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...]

The scores that count in mortgage lending

Blog-image-Scores-that-count

So you consider yourself a well-informed consumer. You have been educating yourself about credit scores, the credit process and how lenders evaluate credit for mortgage loan applications as you are getting ready to purchase a new home. And you already know that understanding your FICO Scores is really important as they are the credit scores most commonly used in the mortgage loan review process.   You’ve pulled your FICO® Scores and credit reports at myFICO to see where you stand, but are not sure on which FICO Score versions you should focus.  Do mortgage lenders use FICO® Score 8 from all three credit bureaus? Or FICO Score 8 from one and FICO® Score 5 from another? I know, it can be kind of confusing.   Let me explain …   When you access your credit … [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...]

Tips for couples: Preparing to buy a home

preparing to buy a home

Spring has sprung! And so has the peak of home buying season. As the weather gets warmer and the flowers begin to bloom, many of us suffering from cabin fever from a long winter find ourselves experiencing House Fever too.   Are you and your partner considering buying a home this year? If so, you must have some important conversations about your finances and credit health before meeting with your mortgage loan officer.   Your home purchase is likely one of the most important and largest purchases of your life; and for that reason it can be stressful on your relationship. Having healthy credit and being able to get a great interest rate on your mortgage can save you a lot of money on interest costs and make your house payment much easier on your monthly budget. Working … [Read more...]

Distributing a 401k in retirement

401k retirement

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?

are you financially healthy

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...]

Millennials are saying “no” to credit cards. They’re making a mistake.

millennials credit cards

Recent studies by FICO and Bankrate point to a growing trend among Millennials: they're not big on credit cards. To be specific, according to credit data gathered by FICO, the number of 18 – 29-year-olds who didn’t have a single credit card doubled from 8% to 16% between 2007 and 2012. Add to that a survey conducted by Bankrate last year in which a whopping 63% of the 1,161 respondents—also 18 – 29-year-olds—said they don’t have a single credit card.   It shouldn’t come as a surprise that younger Americans are shying away from the prospect of taking on more debt. Millennials are already saddled with over $1,000,000,000,000 in student loan debt (that’s one trillion dollars for those of you who’ve never seen so many zeroes strung together). Consider, also, that they’ve been … [Read more...]

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