I’m hosting NerdWallet’s first Facebook Live video, “Using Debt Strategically,” on Thursday starting at 7 p.m. Eastern/4 p.m. Pacific. I’ll be discussing ways to prioritize your debt and pay it off faster while building your overall wealth. Whether you’re struggling with debt or just trying to be smarter with it, I can help answer your questions. Like NerdWallet on Facebook for updates and alerts on this event: nerd.me/facebook.
Americans Confused Over Credit Card Fees, Rewards
Cardholders are paying extra, losing out on rewards.
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Pick One Day a Month to Be Your Personal Finance Day
Getting everything done at once.
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Taking a proactive approach.
Today’s top story: 5 expenses that will change when you retire. Also in the news: Questions for credit counselors, how to budget for a wedding that isn’t your own, and could we be on the verge of another housing crisis?
5 Expenses That Will Change in Retirement
Could you see more cash in your wallet?
7 Questions to Ask a Credit Counselor
How to budget for a wedding — that’s not your own
Expenses add up quickly.
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It’s getting easier to get a mortgage amid increasing home prices.
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Checking Your Credit Doesn’t Hurt Your Scores
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Sharing lessons learned.
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Making things easier down the road.
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Easing into a new budget spares you from a shock to the system.
Today’s top story: Should you pay for credit repair? Also in the news: Tips on raising financially savvy kids, credit scores and dating, and why it might make sense to pay down debt slowly.
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The pros and cons.
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Starting them off right.
Nearly 40% of Americans want to know your credit score before dating
Should credit worthiness determine date worthiness?
Why It Might Make Sense to Pay Down Debt Slowly
Slow and steady might win the race.
Today’s top story: Clever strategies to fund your child’s college education. Also in the news: How to choose a qualified credit counselor, how the wage gap for women turns into a retirement gap, and how to protect yourself from ATM fraud.
3 Clever Strategies to Fund Your Child’s College Education
Thinking outside the box.
3 Steps to Choosing a Qualified Credit Counselor
Finding the counselor who can best serve your needs.
For Women, Wage Gap Becomes Retirement Gap
The 21% gap.
Warning: ATM Fraud Is on the Rise
Protecting yourself from ATM skimming.
Today’s top story: How paying rent can affect your credit. Also in the news: How to protect yourself from cybercrime while banking with your phone, why you shouldn’t consider something “yours” until it’s completely paid off, and financial strategies for creative types without steady incomes.
How Paying Rent Can Affect Your Credit
Rent-reporting services can boost your credit.
4 ways to dodge cybercrime when banking, shopping on mobile phones
Convenience can come with a hefty price.
Avoid Saying You “Own” Something Until It’s Paid Off
It isn’t yours until the last payment is made.
The #1 Reason Artists Struggle With Money, and 3 Simple Strategies to Turn Things Around
Advice for creative types.
Dear Liz: My wife and I co-signed on our daughter’s mortgage, then the home went into foreclosure. My wife and I have no debt and a net worth that exceeds $1 million. We purchased our cars with cash and the single credit card we have with a $35,000 limit is paid off in full each month. Since the foreclosure, our FICO score has been in the “fair” range. We have no plans to take out a loan for anything and plan to continue our “cash and carry” lifestyle. However, the low FICO is a little disconcerting. It appears the only cure is time (measured in years). We welcome any additional guidance.
Answer: You can’t fix your wounded FICO scores overnight, but you could speed up your credit score rehabilitation by adding one or two more credit accounts to your mix. At least one of those accounts should be an installment loan, since scoring formulas want evidence you can handle different types of credit. If you don’t want an auto or personal loan, then consider a “credit builder” loan that puts your payments into a certificate of deposit that you claim when all the payments have been made. Credit builder loans are offered by credit unions and some online lenders.
Is it worth the effort, even though you don’t plan to borrow? In most states (although not California), credit scores heavily influence what you pay for auto and homeowners’ insurance. People who don’t have the best scores can pay hundreds of dollars more each year for coverage. Credit scores also may be used to determine deposits for utilities and wireless service. If you need to rent an apartment, your credit scores matter as well.
If none of those are a concern, you can continue to take the slow road to rebuilding your credit, since the foreclosure will fall off your credit reports after seven years. If you want to speed things along, though, another credit account or two should help.
Dear Liz: When applying for credit or at other times when one must state gross income, how should virtual income be computed and treated? My wife and I have annual tax-free income of about $96,000, not subject to offset of any kind, plus our $8,000 annual property taxes are waived in their entirety, as are our vehicle license fees and many other smaller fees. We have free health insurance through the military and the Department of Veterans Affairs that far exceeds the best plan out there. To state our household income as the money that goes into our bank accounts annually is a serious understatement of our financial position. We do not want to lie on a credit application, but we feel we are not being totally honest no matter how we answer questions asking for gross income.
Answer: Creditors are far more worried about people inflating their incomes than they are about people who understate their financial situations. In short: Don’t worry about it.