Rapunzel’s Credit Folley

Once upon a time there was a beautiful girl named Rapunzel who had exquisite credit.  She had spent years growing her credit score so it was large enough for her to go to college, or buy a car or even a house.  But she was still young, and her mother did not want her to run off and get married and spend all her credit on a house and husband before she had had a chance to get a college education.  So her mother locked Rapunzel away in a high tower with only a computer so Rapunzel could go to school online. Every day suitors would come to the tower and cry, “Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your hair!”  But Rapunzel was taught well by her mother and knew better than to let these young men get to her lovely credit score.  And so she kept to herself and her studies, and her credit continued to grow. Then one day Rapunzel received a call from a young man who said he was from Technical Support.  He warned her that without his help, her computer was in security danger.  For fear of losing her one link to the outside world through her […] Read More

Building Bad Credit Habits?

You’re never too old to learn something stupid. Sure, do not pay your bills on time…or at all.  Take on new debt as often as you can.  Bad habits can pile up like bills…and lead to bad credit. Your credit determines your purchasing power to buy items like a car, a student loan, and maybe even a house.  Credit also may affect your ability to get or keep a job.  Your credit history gives lenders and employers something to look at when they are deciding whether or not to give you a loan (and at what interest rate) and whether or not to hire you or give you a promotion. On the other if you can talk, text, and chew gum, you can improve your credit score with these basics: Pay your bills on time every time No new credit – do not open new credit accounts or take out new loans Pay down large balances Make a budget and stick to it – you can use the free online budget provided by the Federal Trade Commission at http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/pdf-1020-make-budget-worksheet.pdf Be a credit to yourself!   Read More

Retail Therapy & Your Credit Score

When living better through chemistry does not work, sometimes you need retail therapy. Last week I had a really rough day.  I turned into a crazy person.  I called my wife and she was at the Apple store.  Now I have an iPhone 6 and I am much better.  I understand the need for retail therapy and its benefits; furthermore, the more credit you have, the more therapeutic your retail purchases can be. Credit increases your purchasing power.  Good credit begets credit—the higher the credit limit or the more you can borrow.  Good credit also begets better cost to borrow—the better your credit, the smaller the interest rate on your loan to pay back the money.  It is good to have good credit because then you can have more things at lower costs to borrow to buy those things.  What if you have bad credit?  :0 Bad credit does not have to be terminal.  If you can talk, text, and chew gum, you can fix your credit score on your own.  Here are some starting blocks to build your credit: Pay your bills on time every time No new credit – do not open new credit accounts or take out […] Read More

Who’s Wearing Your Credit?

Fashion Week starts this week in New York, and with identity theft trending, someone else could be masquerading in your good credit, compromising your purchasing power. Credit determines your ability to buy items like a house, a car, a student loan.  Bad credit can limit your ability to get more credit, and it can raise the cost of a loan (the interest rate) and lower your chances to get the loan in the first place.  Bad credit is not a place you want to be, especially if you did not get to enjoy any of the things charged to your account along the way! The Department of Justice has a pneumonic to help you avoid becoming the victim of identity theft: SCAM. S is for “Stingy.”  Be stingy about giving out your personal and financial information. C is for “Check.”  Check your accounts regularly. A is for “Ask.”  Ask for your free credit report once a year (see below). M is for “Maintain.”  Maintain good records of your banking and financial information.  You should know what should be in there…and what should not. If you want to monitor Tommy Hilfiger, you can watch Fashion Week live online at http://mbfashionweek.com/live If […] Read More

Masquerading in Your Good Credit

Who is going trick-or-treating dressed as you—and so out of season!  An identity thief could be treating himself at the expense of your good credit.  The Department of Justice has a pneumonic to help you avoid becoming the victim of identity theft: SCAM. S is for “Stingy.”  Be stingy about giving out your personal and financial information. C is for “Check.”  Check your accounts regularly. A is for “Ask.”  Ask for your free credit report once a year at https://www.annualcreditreport.com/index.action. M is for “Maintain.”  Maintain good records of your banking and financial information.  You should know what should be in there…and what should not. To view the complete article from the Department of Justice, visit their website at: http://www.justice.gov/criminal/fraud/websites/idtheft.html Read More

Shopping for Better Credit

There are 31 shopping days left until Christmas.  Minimize the holiday hangover on your credit card bills with a spending budget. Generally you do not want to max out your credit cards or open new lines of credit if you are trying to build credit (as for a home, auto, or student loan in the near future); however, holidays can be tough.  A budget can help you stay on track for your spending and saving goals. If you can talk, text, and wrap presents, you can make a budget.  The State of Florida has a free online holiday budget calculator at http://www.myfloridacfo.com/YMM/Calculators/Holiday.aspx. …And remember to pay your bills on time every time. Read More

Where Did You Leave Your Good Credit?

So you want to buy a house and find out your credit score is not what you need it to be.  Your credit score is either so low that you cannot get a home loan, or it is low enough to where the financing is going to really cost you.  Did you leave your good credit in your other pants?  There could be other places to check. Did you just buy something big?  Taking on new debt can reduce the credit you have available to buy something else.  If you just spent a lot on a car loan or student loan, creditors may wonder about your ability to make payments on another big loan, like a mortgage. Do you pay your bills on time?  Turns out this actually matters.  You may have to spend some months making payments on or before their due dates. Do you have large balances on your credit cards?  Even if you have not bought anything new recently, and you pay your credit card bill on time each month, if you have an outstanding balance, a creditor may be reluctant.  You may need to pay down your debt before a creditor will be willing to loan […] Read More

Just Starting Out? Build Credit from Your Budget

Fresh out of high school and on your own?  Mom is not going to cut up your meat any more, and she might not be in charge of your finances either.  That is your job.  Time to build your credit from your budget up. Credit is important. Your credit determines your purchasing power to buy items like a car, a student loan, and maybe a house one day.  Credit also may affect your ability to get or keep a job.  Now is the time to start building your credit history so that lenders and employers have something to look at when they are deciding whether or not to give you a loan (and at what interest rate) and whether or not to hire you or give you a promotion. Build your credit from your budget up.  Pay your bills on time every time – from rent to credit card bills and all other bills, make sure you have paid by the due date.  The Federal Trade Commission has a free online budget calculator to help you balance your monthly expenses with your monthly income, go to http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/pdf-1020-make-budget-worksheet.pdf. Be a credit to yourself!     Read More

Who Am I? ID Theft

No one is you-er than you.  Be vigilant and monitor your personal information; check your bank statements and credit card bills.  Signs of Identity Theft include the following: Unexpected withdrawals on your bank statement Strange new account on your credit report Calls from debt collectors about debts that are not yours Unexpected bills Bills you expect stop coming  Take action right away to stop impersonators.  The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) offers four steps you should take immediately if you are the victim of Identity Theft:  1. Place a fraud alert on your credit reports, and review your credit reports. 2. Close the accounts that you know, or believe, have been tampered with or opened fraudulently. 3. File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission. 4. File a report with your local police or the police in the community where the identity theft took place. Know the signs of Identity Theft and Take Action right away. Read More

Tips for Extra Credit on a House

So maybe you did not do so well last semester on your credit report.  Getting good credit is not an easy A, but if you can talk, text, and chew gum, you can fix your credit.  Some of the basics include pay your bills on time, pay down outstanding balances, and stay away from new debt (not to mention avoiding foreclosure and bankruptcy).  For more tips on do-it-yourself credit repair (for free), visit the Federal Trade Commission website at www.ftc.gov. And if you are looking to buy a house (even if you have just lost a house to foreclosure), there are local credit counseling programs available that review the problems on your credit report and will help you make a plan to fix those issues.  Visit the St. Johns County Housing and Community Services website at http://www.sjcfl.us (click on “Housing & Community Services”) and the St. Johns Housing Partnership website at http://sjhp.org for more information. Happy New Year!   Read More