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5 Ways saving money could help your FICO Scores

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...]

Distributing a 401k in 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?

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...]

9 Easy ways to Spring clean your finances

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...]

6 Ways to maximize credit card rewards

In the credit card world, there’s really no better feeling than earning rewards for your spending. Who doesn't like getting a little bonus for purchasing everyday expenses with some plastic?   But lost in the excitement of air miles, cash back and gift cards is the fact that getting the most out of your credit card rewards requires some extra know-how and a bit of work. Want to squeeze every last drop of value out of that rewards card? Here are some tips.   1. Pick a rewards card that matches your lifestyle   Even the best of the best rewards cards will fall short for you if the rewards you’re earning are a poor fit. Not much of a traveler? Acquiring airline miles and hotel points won’t be of any use. Drive an electric car? A gas rewards card won’t do you … [Read more...]

Why your brain is bad with money

If I handed you a regular-sized sheet of paper and asked you to fold it in half eight times, do you think you’d be able to? Go ahead, give it a shot—I’ll be over here casually making some tea.   For those of you who actually gave this a go (kudos to you, by the way), you probably realized by the fifth or sixth fold—faster than it took me to casually brew my tea—that getting that thin piece of paper to fold in half eight times is basically impossible (the world record is actually thirteen times, but good luck trying this at home).   Now let’s just say we have an imaginary piece of paper that we can fold as many times as we’d like. How thick would this paper be if we folded it thirty times? Fifty times? A hundred? The answers, respectively, are 1) thick enough to reach … [Read more...]

4 FREE ways to entertain yourself this weekend

Boredom has a way of eating away at your finances. The easiest way to spice up an uneventful Saturday evening usually involves spending money. A night out at the movies, going out for a drink with friends, catching a live sporting event—if you want to enjoy any of these you better be prepared dig deep into those pockets.   But entertainment doesn’t have to be expensive. In fact, it can even be totally free. Here are a few ways to keep yourself sufficiently stimulated, engaged, and entertained throughout the weekend without having to drop a dime.   1. Check out a book/movie/CD at the library.   It’s not as old-fashioned as it sounds. The library is a goldmine of free entertainment—it’s like if Netflix and iTunes got married, bought a brick and mortar … [Read more...]

5 Big credit mistakes you should avoid at all costs

When it comes to credit, some people prefer the ignorant bliss method: Don’t look at your credit, don’t worry about your credit, don’t even think about your credit. This method can actually be quite effective for several months or even years – that is until you’re thinking about buying a new home, leasing a new car, financing a new computer, or whatever else you've been dreaming up.   When you’re actually looking for credit, it will quickly become clear that the ignorant bliss method was a mistake. Those financial decisions you carelessly made might actually hurt your FICO® Scores or credit history.   You don’t have to be the type of person that worries about credit constantly (although a periodic review of your FICO® Scores and credit reports is always a good idea). … [Read more...]

5 Totally painless ways to save money

  It’s one of those things that sounds easy in theory. Just don’t spend so much on groceries – easy peasy! Next thing you know you’re in a Whole Foods on an empty stomach and nothing sounds better than organic, fair-trade chocolate infused with espresso and shipped directly from Brazil. 15 impulse buys later and you’re walking away with a one-night smorgasbord and 100 less dollars to your name.   Turns out, saving money is hard. It’s like your mother always told you, if it was easy everybody would be doing it. And just to be clear: A lot of you aren’t saving money. According to a study conducted by Bankrate.com1, over a quarter of Americans have no savings at all. Of those that do have savings, 67% don’t have enough to cover 6 months of expenses. If this sounds like you, … [Read more...]

3 Commonly broken financial New Year’s resolutions (and how you can keep them)

According to Fidelity’ annual New Year’s Financial Resolutions Study, 51% of Americans who made financial New Year’s resolutions in 2014 said they were better off financially today. That means financial New Year’s resolutions might actually work!   Of course, that also leaves the 49% who either stuck to their resolutions and found themselves no better off than they were last year or (more likely) suffered a rare form of acute amnesia affecting the memory centers of the brain responsible for remembering New Year’s resolutions.   A year is a long time. Sticking to your financial resolutions is hard, but it’s even harder if you set impossible-to-reach goals and give up on them altogether. So if you’re determined to improve your financial health next year, resolve to take … [Read more...]

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