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...]

Do you know if your HELOC is about to reset?

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If you don’t, you should look into this sooner rather than later.     During the housing boom of the mid 2000s many people took out home equity lines of credit (HELOCs) for greater financial flexibility, to have as a safety net, or as a means to avoid property mortgage insurance (PMI) by enabling them to make a 20% down payment on a home purchase.     And why not? Interest rates were very low and the process for getting approved was fairly easy for many consumers.     Many of the HELOCs opened at this time featured an interest-only period of 5,7 or 10 years followed by either a balloon payment at maturity or an amortization period requiring monthly payments of principal and interest.     What this means “in plain … [Read more...]

6 Traps to Avoid When Getting a Car Loan

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In the last quarter of 2013, the average American car buyer borrowed over $27,000. The average car payment climbed to over $450.   These numbers aren’t surprising. From 0% interest offers, easy dealer financing and long-term loans, it’s hard to stick to your guns against a persuasive car salesman. But if you’re ready for a new (or new-to-you car), you can avoid the most common car loan traps just by knowing about them.   Here are six common car-buying traps you need to avoid next time you shop for a car.   1. Buying a car based on the monthly payment   We’ve conditioned ourselves to define affordability based on whether we can make the monthly payment. You might be able to afford $500 per month in car payments. But should you really pay that much … [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...]

Teaching Children to Save Part 3: Helping Your Teen Save for Their Future

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myFICO Kids – Making financial awareness, protection & health a part of the entire family.   In light of Financial Literacy Awareness month, myFICO published a few posts identifying state standards on the topics of saving and investing for all age levels. This is the third and final post in the three-part series on how parents can help teach their children the importance of saving and investing at all age levels.   Let’s take a look at what a high school graduate is capable of learning and what parents can do to help.   National Standards for Saving & Investing   It’s important for parents to know what the national standards are in financial education so they know what they should or should not be teaching their children. There are national … [Read more...]

Teaching Children to Save Part 2:
5th – 8th Grade

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myFICO Kids – Making financial awareness, protection & health a part of the entire family.    MyFICO is doing a series of 3 blog posts about children and saving in order to celebrate Financial Literacy Month and Teach Children to Save Day (April 11). For those of you with children in grades K-4th, you may be interested in our first post outlining the concepts children of those age groups are able to understand and we also included lessons about money and saving. This is our second post in the three-part series for parents with children in grades 5-8.   Let’s take a look at what children in grades 5-8 are capable of learning and what parents can do to help.   National Standards for Saving & Investing   It’s important for parents to … [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...]

Medical Data Breaches: Why Your Doctor Might Need a Check Up

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Think about the last time you went to the doctor’s office. Did you fill out a form with your Social Security number (SSN)? Were you prescribed any medicine? Did you disclose past allergic reactions?     Now think about what an identity thief could do with that kind of information. There’s a myriad of options, which is one of the reasons why medical identity theft impacted almost half (43%) of all identity theft victims in 2013. To get your information, an identity thief might hack your doctor’s digital filing system, find records leaked on file-sharing sites by an employee, or simply steal your doctor’s laptop. No matter how the data breach occurs, you’re left cleaning up a potentially life threatening mess. Here are just three potential … [Read more...]

Word on the Web: March

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      Spring is well on its way which means it’s time to plan for summer fun. Here are our top blog picks from March that will help you budget and save for a joy-packed summer.     8 Best Mobile Coupon Apps to Save Money Shopping on Your Smartphone Drop the scissors and toss the coupons—there’s a better way to save. MoneyCrashers.com reviews the best coupon apps out there so you can take your extreme couponing into the digital age.     Save Money on a Great American Road Trip Hoping to do some travelling this summer? Instead of spending loads of cash on plane tickets, consider a road trip. Wisebread.com shows you how to get the most bang for your buck while touring the nation.     5 Tips to Save Energy (and … [Read more...]

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