Christmas is NOT That Far Away!

The other day, I was in one of the department stores near my house, and I noticed that they’re already pushing school supplies.  Row after row of school supplies, as a matter of fact.  Then, it dawned on me.  Once school starts, the stores will be putting out Halloween and even Christmas decorations… in less than a month, we’ll start to see them.  And Christmas is now only five months away.

Have you figured out how you’re going to pay for this year’s Christmas gift giving?

Wait, you’re still trying to figure out how to put the kids back in school, right?  And now we’re talking Christmas?  Yep, Christmas really isn’t that far away, is it?  And if your money is as tight as mine at times, just the thought of having to come up with the money for Christmas triggers a sick little feeling right in the pit of your stomach, doesn’t it?

So, how will you afford Christmas?

You know, one of the best ways that I know to do your Christmas shopping when you don’t have a lot of money is to use a trusted catalog shopping site, with a credit program like the Fingerhut Credit Account issued by WebBank.

The thing that I like about Fingerhut, to be very honest, is the simple fact that when my credit was bad and no one else would even work with me, Fingerhut issued me a credit card for their site, and not only was I able to afford Christmas, but they also reported my regular payments to the credit bureaus, then rewarded my responsible monetary behavior with more available credit.  In fact, I probably have more available credit with Fingerhut than I do with any other creditor (and now that my credit score has bounced back, I actually have other credit cards, too).

So, when someone asks you how you’re paying for this year’s Christmas?

You might want to consider one of these catalog shopping sites:

 

Summer Vacation?

If you’re like nearly half of the population of this country, you’re not planning a summer vacation this year, and the biggest reason most people aren’t going?  Money.  That’s right, many of us simply cannot afford the overall expense of spending a few days or a week away from home.  The money just isn’t in the budget (or the savings account), so we’re skipping that trip to the beach, or the mountains, or anywhere else that we may have wanted to go.   But, what if you could still go?

What if you could take that vacation and, instead of draining your savings account, charge it on a credit card that offered you an interest free introductory period, or cash back rewards, or even travel rewards?   Would you be able to rearrange your schedule (and your budget) to take the trip and pay it off over time when you returned?  It’s definitely something to consider, isn’t it?

Why not take a look at these credit card offers and see if one of them might just enable you to take that vacation and still stay within your budget?


Back to School Shopping Starts Soon!

Even though it’s only been a couple weeks since school let out for the summer, it’s no secret that summer vacations keep getting shorter and shorter.

back to school
Fall is just around the corner!

In fact, there are already schools in our country that go year around.  That’s why you might want to start thinking about this year’s back to school shopping expenses sooner rather than later!

Let’s face it, it costs a lot of money to get the kids back in school every year – between all the fees, books, and other required gear for school, there usually isn’t much left for new clothes, shoes, or even that computer that your oldest needs to start college this fall.  What’s a parent to do?

Well, here’s an idea… Why not start your back to school shopping now?

Rather than wait until the week before (or even the day before) school starts, you can go ahead and get some of the necessities out of the way now, then maybe your expenses won’t seem so insurmountable later on, when it’s time to pay those hefty fees to the school.

Especially if you shop online, there are deals EVERYWHERE right now!   All of the major retailers are running specials, sales, and promotions galore… and you can take advantage of those savings to spend less or get even more for your money.  And if your money is tight?  What then?

Well, if your cash flow is limited, you might want to think about opening a Fingerhut account, so you can still take advantage of their online specials and sales but you’ll have plenty of time to pay for your purchases.

Worried about your credit score?  Relax.  A Fingerhut account might just be easier to get than you think!  Fingerhut has a reputation for working with those of us with less than perfect credit  – so don’t delay, open your Fingerhut account today!

 

Interest Rates are Climbing!

If you’ve been watching the financial market lately, you’ve undoubtedly noticed that the Federal Reserve has raised the interest rate on federal funds once again.  It’s now at 1.75% to 2.00% and they’ve signaled that there are two more interest rate increases coming this year.  But, what does that mean to you?  And how will it affect your finances?  Even though you may not think so, this rate increase will most certainly hit your pocketbook in less than 30 days, and the next two rate hikes?  You will feel those almost immediately, too.

So, if you’re planning to buy a home, refinance the car, or take out a personal loan to pay off those credit cards, there is no time to waste.  Interest rates on that new home, car, or personal loan will almost certainly go up immediately, as will the rate on those credit cards that you’re paying on every month.

Personally, we’re looking at taking out a personal loan to pay off the credit cards, to save money on the credit card interest and pay them all off sooner, so we will do this sooner rather than later, as that extra .25% will affect both the personal loan rate AND the interest rate on the credit cards.  Plus, with two more increases expected this year, NOW is the time to lock in that fixed rate, regardless of what you’re planning to buy.

What about you?  Think a personal loan might be the right choice for you?  Take a look at these offers:

New Credit Card Offers Added!

Just a quick post to let you know that we’re adding new credit card offers almost daily! In addition to credit cards for those of us with less than perfect credit, we’re now able to offer choices for those with Good to Excellent credit, Student credit cards, rewards cards and much more!

If you haven’t explored our financial products lately, you could be missing out!

Deep Clean Your Credit Report

When was the last time you took a good, hard look at your credit report? Identified and disputed errors? Made a plan to resolve any issues that are damaging your credit score? Worked toward improving that score? You haven’t done that?

Sadly, unless a person is specifically interested in getting a credit card, buying a new car, leasing a new apartment, or even buying a home, most people don’t pay that much attention to their credit report. And when they’re ready to make that big purchase? Often their credit score isn’t ready… that’s right, not paying attention to your credit report (and credit score) can not only cost you more in fees and interest, but it can even keep you from getting that new car or that new home. The best way to avoid that kind of disappointment is to pay attention to your score right now… long before you’re ready to get that new line of credit.

Start with getting your complete credit report, which will contain information about your credit and payment history, new credit inquiries, and personal information that is relevant to your identity and credit history. In the past, to get your credit report, you had to request it from one of the three credit bureaus and then wait about ten days for them to mail it to you. These days, you can get your credit report instantaneously and at absolutely no charge simply by enrolling in one of the many online credit reporting services, such as Credit Sesame 100% Free Credit Score & Credit Monitoring .

Once you have access to your credit report and score, it’s time to do a line by line review to determine what needs to be improved, corrected, disputed and removed. Here are the things you’ll want to study carefully:

  • Personal Information: Review your name, any other names used (maiden name, married name, etc.), addresses (current and previous), date of birth, employment history if listed, etc., to be sure that every detail is accurate. Any deviation and/or information that you don’t recognize could indicate identity theft exists.
  • Accounts & Balances: Review every account listed, checking for the length of time the account has been opened to the current balance amount for accuracy. This includes not only current accounts, but old, even closed accounts.
  • Credit Inquiries: Look carefully at all credit inquiries listed. Did you actually request the inquiry? Do you have multiple inquiries? Remember too many credit inquiries can lower your score, and if you did not request them, it is a strong indicator of identity theft.

After you’ve spent time reviewing your credit report, what happens next? One of the first things that you’ll want to do is to dispute any errors that you happen to find on your report. These errors can range from an old bill still listed as due, but that is paid in full, a late payment ding when you can prove the payment was on time, one or more incorrect addresses, and even multiple accounts that do not belong to you.

The initial dispute can be filed online or via U.S. Mail – just make sure that you file the dispute with all three credit bureaus, and not just one. And make sure that you include all pertinent documentation to support your rationale for disputing the incorrect information. While it takes time and patience to dispute items, 79% of disputes result in the information being removed from the credit report, so it is worthwhile to follow the process all the way through.

This determination and patience is especially important when it comes to cleaning up past blemishes on your credit report – even if you’ve corrected the problem, it can and likely will remain on your credit report for up to 10 years, depending upon the type of blemish it was.

Finally, once you’ve done everything that you can to correct any errors on your credit report, it’s time to figure out what else you can do to raise your credit score. Here, there are typically two areas that you can address:

  • High credit utilization: The balances that you are carrying on your credit cards at any given time may be hurting your credit score if they are more than 30% of your total credit availability. Paying down those balances will typically boost your credit score within 30-60 days.
  • Available credit: If you don’t have any credit available, you may want to consider getting a secured, catalog, or other type of account to establish that availability, and then use it carefully to begin building (or rebuilding) a good payment history.

Remember, cleaning up your credit report can and will take time, but once you identify and start repairing the issues that caused the blemishes, you will find that every little boost in that credit score is just the incentive that you need to keep going!


 

What’s On Your Credit Report

You know, when you’re just starting out financially, it’s not always easy to understand all of the financial terms, what they mean, and how they affect your credit score… truthfully, you may not even understand your credit report the first time that you request it, even though literally everyone says you should study it, make sure it’s right, and try to keep it in the good to excellent range. But, what exactly is on your credit report?

What makes up your credit report and your credit score? Basically, your credit report is your financial snapshot and it contains information directly related to your financial status. Here are the major categories of information that you should find on your credit report:

  1. Personal Information: In order to positively identify you, your report will contain your full name, including any variations such as maiden name, middle name, middle initial, misspelling and/or any other name that you may have used in your financial affairs. It will also contain your social security number, date of birth, and all addresses that you may have used over the course of your lifetime. It may include your telephone number and/or your places of employment.

  2. All Open and Closed Accounts: Your credit report will also contain a list of all credit that you’ve had over the past ten years (expect some variation on the length of time), including credit cards, mortgages, auto loans, etc. Each creditor will list their full name, your account number, balance owed (if any), payment history, and whether or not the account is current or past due.

  3. Public Records: Any public records, such as bankruptcies, judgments against you, and/or any liens.

These are the main items that you will see when you review your full credit report. Surprisingly, you won’t usually find identifiers such as marital status (although joint accounts will be included in both credit reports), level of income, bank balances, or level of education in your credit report.

Remember, the information contained in your credit report is used to paint your personal financial picture, therefore, it’s extremely important that you review all of the information carefully and report any discrepancies that you find to the credit bureau that listed it on your report.

Clawing Your Way Back Up

You know, when your credit score is really bad, it can seem like there is no point whatsoever in trying to improve it.  You know what I’m talking about, how many times have you or someone you know made the simple statement, “My credit score is so bad, I’ll never be able to buy a house (or a car, or anything else).”   The truth is, it can be daunting when you think about clawing your way back up to a decent credit score, especially if you’re starting at the bottom of the credit pit.  And sadly, that alone is enough justification for some people to just give up, accept that they will have damaged credit forever, and never do anything to change it.  But it can be done.

That’s right, no matter where you are on the credit scale, you can claw your way back up to a good or even an excellent credit score, as long as you are determined to work on it.  Note that I said determined and work.  Regardless of what anyone tells you, improving your credit score will take a lot of determination, a lot of work, and a certain amount of time.  But, if you never start the journey, then you will never get to the destination that you have in mind.

So where do you start?

First and perhaps foremost, you need to take the time to review your credit report, find out what your credit score is, and then make a plan for improving it.  And, by simply using the  technology at your fingertips, it’s really easy to get your credit score and your credit report at no cost, sign up for credit monitoring and protection, and keep a close eye on your progress.  (Some scores are updated weekly, some monthly, and a few quarterly.)  Once you know your credit score, depending on what range you fall into, you can start improving it by opening new accounts to increase available credit, paying down debts to get below the 30% credit utilization, or disputing things that are wrong on your credit report.

Now, if your credit score is really low, your choices will be limited when it comes to signing up for new (or even any) accounts.  But, keep in mind that there are a lot of other people who are in the same boat that you’re in, so there are options to start rebuilding your credit.  The most popular options are secured credit cards and catalog shopping cards, and there are companies that will work with you to make sure that you get the credit you need to start clawing your way back up the ladder… but, just like I mentioned in the beginning, if you don’t start, you’ll never get there.

Here are a couple of options to start rebuilding your credit today:

 

 

Raising Financially Responsible Adults

As parents, one of the most important things that we can teach our children is how to be responsible adults, and that means not just giving them everything they want, but teaching them how to get those things themselves. Too many parents think that by giving kids everything they want, they’ll somehow grow up “better” than they themselves did, but the simple truth is, if you don’t teach your children how to be adults, they may never get there.

Now while there are a lot of lessons that go into raising responsible adults, today we’re going to talk about raising financially responsible adults… you know, adults who budget wisely, live within their means, and who are financially independent.

Perhaps you’ve already started your children on the path to good financial habits with an allowance or even a savings account of his or her own, maybe you’ve even gone so far as to give them a debit card with a preset spending limit. If so, that’s fantastic, but there are a few other things that young adults need to learn before they’re ready to be on their own financially.

One of the most important things is managing a checking account – you would be amazed at the number of young people who do not understand how to actually balance a checking or savings account, write a check, or make a simple deposit. (And yet, they all know how to spend money online, right?)

So when is a good age to start? Honestly, as soon as your child understands money, it’s time to start teaching them how money is earned, how to save, and how to spend wisely.

Lots of banks offer options for young adults, teenagers, and even younger children to open both checking and savings accounts, so take the time to shop around with your child – teach him/her about the various benefits of each type of account, explain interest rates, fees, and so forth. Use it as a teaching experience and allow him/her to help make the decision and actually open the account.

Then, as odd as it may seem, the best way to start is with a good old fashioned check register, checkbook, and debit card. Write down every transaction, teach him/her how to write a check, how to use a debit card, and how to record everything in the check register, then balance it to the online banking account.

Not only does this teach him or her how to track the balance, but getting them in the habit of accounting for every expense (every time that debit card is swiped) may help them to really think about how their money is spent, and how they may not want to spend it in future transactions.

Remember, raising financially responsible adults is a long process… it won’t always be easy, and you’ll be legally responsible for any accounts that your children have, but in the end, it will be worth the patience and effort that you put into it.

Get a Fresh Start with Store Credit Cards

Need a fresh start on your credit?  Having trouble rebuilding your credit after you’ve suffered a serious financial setback?  Maybe you haven’t ever really had any credit but want to start building your credit score for the future?  While store credit cards may not provide the same flexibility as traditional credit cards, they are usually a pretty good option if you’re trying to build or rebuild your credit score, but before you sign up for just any store credit card, make sure you study the fine print.

Here are a few things to look for with store / catalog shopping cards:

  • Credit limit – Many store credit cards start out with a low credit limit, but over time and with a good payment history, your credit limit will typically increase.  You can actually use these increases over time as they will increase your available credit, and may increase your credit score, as well.  (Just remember to keep your credit utilization under the 30% recommended by the credit bureaus.)
  • Interest rates – Some store credit cards will have a higher interest rate than the national averages, however, if you’ll be utilizing the card to rebuild your credit score, this may not be a big factor, especially if you plan to pay in full on a monthly basis.
  • Limited usage – Most store credit cards are limited to the store or catalog shopping site that is extending the credit to you.  Again, if you’re utilizing the credit to rebuild your score, this isn’t a factor.  The important thing is to get the available credit onto your credit report.

Choosing the right store/catalog credit card can make it much easier to get that fresh start on your credit, but there’s more to it than just signup up for the first store/catalog card you run across – always consider your options carefully, make your purchases carefully, and have a plan to pay back anything that you charge.