How Healthy Is Your Credit?

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There’s only one way to discover the “health?of your credit. You need to examine your credit
report. Your credit report is your “consumer identity?that potential lenders will use to judge your credit worthiness.

There’s only one way to discover the “health?of your credit. You need to examine your credit report. Your credit report is your “consumer identity?that potential lenders will use to judge your credit worthiness.

Use these tips to give your credit profile the “tune-up?it needs:

Tip #1- Check for Errors
Your credit report or profile is more than just a collection of who your creditors are and how much you owe them or have paid them.

The first thing you need to do is carefully check that your credit report is accurate. Nearly 70% of credit reports contain errors.

These errors may be as simple as an incorrect middle initial or address. Or it could be as serious as a creditor reporting that you were late with a payment when in fact you were not late at all.

This error might not seem like a big deal to you. However,to a future lender like a mortgage company it makes a big difference !

Carefully examine your credit report and if you find an error contact your creditor and the credit bureaus. Catchand correct these errors now before it hurts your chances of securing credit in the future.

Tip #2 – Correcting Errors
The two most common errors contained in credit reports are:

1) wrong account information
2) incorrect recording of late payments.

If you find an account reported that does not belong you, you need to contact the credit grantor or issuer immediately. Remember, finding accounts that you have not personally opened is a sign of possible identity theft.

Hopefully you’ll discover that this error is nothing more than an oversight and not an identity theft problem. Most often this occurs when they report an account belonging to a family member or someone with a similar name on your credit report.

If your problem is an error in reporting a late payment you will need proof to back up your case before this error can be corrected or removed. The most common error occurs when a payment is reported as “late?when it was actually a current or “on time?payment.

In either case, the problem can and should be corrected. You will need to correct the error in writing. Keep a journal or log of all calls and correspondence.

The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) requires the credit bureaus and the agency reporting the information to the credit bureau to correct inaccurate information in your credit report. Therefore, it is important that you contact both the credit bureau and the creditor whose information is in dispute.

A sample letter is included here to help you in correcting your credit profile. Make sure that you clearly identify the information that you dispute, include copies of receipts or documents that support your position. Then request that the information be corrected or deleted from your file.

Send your letter by certified mail and request a return receipt from the recipient. Keep all correspondence that you mail out. Give the agencies involved 30 days to begin their investigation. You can call them but be aware that phoning them does not protect your consumer rights! You must notify them in writing to protect your rights.

They must notify you of the results of their investigation. Although the process will take time, it’s important to do it. This is your credit profile, your “consumer identity?that is at stake. Don’t expect an error to correct itself.

At your request, the credit bureaus must send notices of corrections to your credit profile to anyone who has requested your report in the last six months. If you applied for a job and were turned down because of inaccurate information in your credit report, you can have the corrected report mailed to anyone who received a copy in the past two years.

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Sample Dispute Letter
Date

Your Name
Your Address
Your City, State, Zip Code

Complaint Department
Name of Credit Reporting Agency
Address
City, State, Zip Code

Dear Sir or Madam:

I am writing to dispute the following information in my file. The items I dispute are also encircled on the attached copy of the report I received. (Identify item(s) disputed by name of source, such as creditors or tax court, and identify type of item, such as credit account, judgment, etc.)

This item is (inaccurate or incomplete) because (describe what is inaccurate or incomplete and why). I am requesting that the item be deleted (or request another specific change) to correct the information.

Enclosed are copies of (use this sentence if applicable and describe any enclosed documentation, such as payment records, court documents) supporting my position. Please reinvestigate this (these) matter(s) and (delete or correct) the disputed item(s) as soon as possible.

Sincerely,
Your name

Enclosures: (List what you are enclosing)

Originally Posted at http://www.ftc.gov/

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Tip #3 – Budget Planning
You can also use your credit report to help you plan and implement a personal budget. Your credit report will show you where you are spending your hard earned dollars. While the credit card balances may not be completely current, you’ll still see which of your cards has the highest balance outstanding.

If you have more than one major credit card you should compare the annual percentage rate (APR) you are paying on each account. If you are working on a budget to “pay
down?your credit cards, start by paying down the one with the highest APR or interest.

Once that credit account is paid off, move toward paying off the account with the second highest APR. Using this method you will be able to concentrate your efforts toward paying down your outstanding credit obligations.

You should also check with your credit card company to see what’s the best annual percentage rate (APR) they can offer you. If you are a good customer, you can often qualify for a lower rate than what you are currently being offered.

Caution: Ask if the new rate you are getting is a “promotional?rate or a “contract?rate. A promotional rate will expire at the end of the promotional term, for example 6 months. A contract rate does not have an “expiration?as long as you continue to meet the terms outlined by your creditor for that rate.

Tip #4 – Making a major purchase
If you are considering a major purchase such as a car or a home, checking your credit report gives you the chance to see what a potential lender sees and uses to judge your credit worthiness.

You want to make sure that your credit report is accurate before you apply for that sports car or new home. Errors or problems can be corrected before your lender can use
those against you and deny your credit request. You’ll also have a better idea of what type or rate of credit you should expect from a potential lender.

Tip #5 – Check your credit report regularly
Check your credit report regularly. Guard your “consumer identity?as you would anything else you treasure. Use your credit wisely, along with these tips, and you will enjoy the benefits that your good credit and your good name deserve now – and for years to come.

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Should I Look For Financing Before I Make A Major Purchase?

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Get your financing before you shop for your major purchase so you can save money! This is very important. You could save yourself lots of money by doing your research before you buy! Find out tips on where you should consider looking for your financing needs!

financing,vehicle financing,home financing,pre approved, personal finance,financial planning,credit

Yes, yes and yes! Get your financing before you start shopping for a home, vehicle or other major purchase. By doing this beforehand you’ll save yourself lots of money! Not only that, you’ll be in a great position to negotiate your purchase with the seller. There are so many ways that you can shop for your financing these days. Here are some tips and information to assist you with finding out where you can start looking for your financing needs:

1) Using the internet is a great way to do research on your financing. The internet provides you with an array of financing options to choose from. You get to check on what company provides you with the best interest rate for your needs. You’ll even find financing options you didn’t even realize are available to you.

2) Your own bank. Go to your bank and apply for the financing you need. Get pre approved for your loan prior to making your purchase. What better place to secure your financing than your own bank! You’re banking with them so why not consider giving them the opportunity to help you with your major purchase. Just make sure the interest rate their charging you is a good one!

3) Consider credit union financing. Sometimes you’ll find lower interest rates for that major purchase you’re trying to make via a credit union. Credit unions are also competing for your business as well and have become major players in the financial world these days. This is good, because you have another outlet to secure your financing from.

4) Check your local newspaper, phone book and other media sources for prospective companies that provide financing that you may consider using.

5) As a last resort, consider using the seller’s financing provided. The seller may have competitive interest rates you may be interested in applying for to make the major purchase you’re interested in.

So as you can see, there are several financing options available to you to secure your financing before you make your major purchase! You’ll have the edge on your seller when you’re getting ready to make your purchase. Yes that’s right! You can negotiate how much you’re paying for that home, vehicle or other major purchase before you sign on the dotted line. You’re in the driver’s seat because you have your money already, remember you’re already pre approved! So, let the negotiations for your major purchase begin!

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The Four Golden Rules Of Personal Finance

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Many successful people have mentors to guide them in learning the skills that lead to achievement, and I’ll do my best to offer you some critical personal finance perspectives. They say that life is a school where you learn the lesson after the test. The same thing applies to money, but you can’t go back in time to fix catastrophic financial mistakes that you have made over time. As long as you are alive, you are a player on the field of the money-game, and you need to know t…

personal finance,savings,debt management,credit cards

Many successful people have mentors to guide them in learning the skills that lead to achievement, and I’ll do my best to offer you some critical personal finance perspectives. They say that life is a school where you learn the lesson after the test. The same thing applies to money, but you can’t go back in time to fix catastrophic financial mistakes that you have made over time. As long as you are alive, you are a player on the field of the money-game, and you need to know the basic rules before you get tagged by the experienced players.

Rule #1: To earn money from money. The only way to escape becoming a wage slave for the rest of your life is to set aside savings. The profit on your savings can be used to increase your lifestyle spending, reduce the number of years until you retire, or allow you to actually have any retirement at all. How are you doing so far toward saving and getting it to earn money for you?

Every dollar that you spend eliminates its ability to earn money for you in the future. I am not recommending that you stop eating at restaurants and going to movies, I am recommending that you use some common sense, like looking at your four biggest expenses over the last few months and aggressively finding a way to reduce them.

The biggest obstacle for the first rule is personal debt of any kind (other than a mortgage for your home) or a lease of any kind. Every personal debt that you incur reduces your net worth which could have been working for you over your life time. Acquiring personal debt is exactly like putting a large hole in your wallet. In the money-game, a huge transfer of wealth occurs between the ‘Haves?and the ‘Have-Nots?over the words, “I can afford that monthly payment.?Here is a hint: the “Have-Nots?are the ones who make that statement. So please don’t ever look at whether you can afford a monthly payment to make a purchase; pay in cash after you’ve saved for the item. [Everything that you buy with a 0%-interest payment plan must be over-priced. Behind the scenes, your payment contract is sold to a lender with an interest rate, and retailers don’t do this without building-in an acceptable profit for themselves. Ask retailers how much the item will cost if you pay in full, and you could get a lower price.]

Rule #2 Always keep your finances under control. The first step in losing financial control and spiraling into debt and money problems is simply not dealing with personal finances. Prepare for catastrophic financial accidents with health, life, disability, and auto insurance. Plan and save before you buy something. Create a balance sheet for yourself at least once a year to see how you are progressing. Pay every bill on time, or contact the creditor to tell them what is going on and make a partial payment. If you are temporarily unable to handle any of this, ask for some help immediately and find someone trustworthy who will do this for you.

The most common source of financial trouble is a trauma in your life. This can be a health problem (large expenses or unable to work), an emotional problem (divorce or loss of loved one), or a financial problem (losing a job, cut in pay, relocation, unexpected expenses). Whichever the source may be, it leads to three emotional problems: the first is denial, the second is being overwhelmed, and the third is hopelessness. Denial causes people to not open their mail and continue spending as usual, and being overwhelmed paralyzes people from getting assistance and dealing with the situation. For example, if you just lost a loved one, balancing your checkbook and paying bills is not high in your priorities. Unfortunately, tiny amounts of debt grow with interest and penalties into seemingly insurmountable mountains of debt; leaving you with loathsome options such as bankruptcy, poor credit, declining lifestyle spending, and added stress that you bring to relationships and work.

Rule #3 Pay attention to the finances of the people with whom you spend the most time. Whether they are relatives, friends, or co-workers, these people have the most impact on your financial life. Do they consistently follow the first two rules of the money game? Do they earn about the same money as you? If the answer to either of those is “no? then I recommend that you start spending a little less time with them; and this is why. If they don’t consistently follow the first two rules, it is unlikely that you will either. You unconsciously model the people around you, and the more people you are exposed to that don’t follow the first two rules, the more likely that you will unwittingly follow them. No one thinks they are ‘trying to keep up with the Joneses? but we all do it to some extent, and this is the mechanism. On the other hand, if they earn a lot more money than you, you may rack up a lot of debt trying to keep up with them (meeting them at their favorite expensive restaurant, joining them for another expensive vacation, buying a new car because yours is the junker among all of your friends, etc.) On the other hand, if most of your friends earn a lot less than you, you will turn into the group’s banker. For example, you’ll find yourself in the pattern of putting your credit card down to pay for dinner and they’ll all say they’ll pay you back later, but 50% of them never do; and they don’t mind taking advantage of you because, after all, you earn a lot more than they do. Or, you and your friends need to pay a deposit for renting a house and they expect you to write the checks because you have the money available and they do not.

The neighborhood that you live in also creates financial pressure to violate the first two financial goals. Your neighbors are likely to become friends (and I’ve already gone over this), but they also influence the size of your home, extent of your landscaping, price of furniture, and the size of your TV. So pay very close attention to the finances of your neighbors ?if you don’t like how they are measuring up for first two rules, move somewhere more in alignment with your financial goals. If your family and friends, don’t measure up financially, find some additional people to spend time with that have financial habits that you’d like to emulate and learn from. I have friends with a wide range of income, but it is much more difficult to follow the first two money rules when I am with the extremes from my own income. You’ll just find it easier to reach the next rule when the peer group that you hang out with aligns closer to your economic level.

Rule #4 Accelerate the other three rules:
Add to your savings by increasing your income through advancing your career. It doesn’t matter whether you enjoy it; it is a means to an end ?with the end being progress toward the fulfillment of rule #1. Increase the amount that you save by aggressively lowering four of your highest expenses. Start spending time with people that talk about investing money and are systematically building their wealth the fastest. The combination of all four of these rules will hopefully offer a next-step for you to take today to start getting more ‘wins?in the money-game.

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