Tuesday’s need-to-know money news

Credit report with score on a desk

Credit report with score on a desk

Today’s top story: Americans are confused over credit card fees and rewards. Also in the news: Using refinancing to pay for home renovations, taking one day a month to be your personal finance day, and how to protect your credit score.

Americans Confused Over Credit Card Fees, Rewards
Cardholders are paying extra, losing out on rewards.

Should I Pay for Home Renovations by Refinancing?
Pros and cons.

Pick One Day a Month to Be Your Personal Finance Day
Getting everything done at once.

Avoid these 3 mistakes to protect your credit score
Taking a proactive approach.

Thursday’s need-to-know money news

common-retirement-mistakesToday’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
Be prepared.

How to budget for a wedding — that’s not your own
Expenses add up quickly.

Are We Heading for Another Housing Crisis?
It’s getting easier to get a mortgage amid increasing home prices.

Friday’s need-to-know money news

Zemanta Related Posts ThumbnailToday’s top story: Checking your credit doesn’t hurt your scores. Also in the news: Personal finance tips from NerdWallet moms, why you should prepare now for the death of a spouse, and the benefits of easing into a new savings budget.

Checking Your Credit Doesn’t Hurt Your Scores
Not checking your scores could hurt much more.

NerdWallet Moms Share Their Personal Finance Tips
Sharing lessons learned.

Why You Should Prepare Now for the Death of a Spouse
Making things easier down the road.

Boost Your Savings By 1% At a Time to Slowly Adjust to a New Budget
Easing into a new budget spares you from a shock to the system.

Wednesday’s need-to-know money news

o-CREDIT-REPORT-facebookToday’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.

Should You Pay for Credit Repair?
The pros and cons.

11 Tips to Raise Financially Savvy Kids
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.

Tuesday’s need-to-know money news

types-of-scholarshipsToday’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.

Wednesday’s need-to-know money news

PayRentPiggyBank.157131716_stdToday’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.

Q&A: Fixing a wounded credit score

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.

Q&A: Understating financial situation

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.

‘Alternative’ Credit: Your Scores Still Matter

Startup and traditional lenders alike are looking for the new prize: creditworthy people who don’t have good credit scores.

To find them, companies are experimenting with all kinds of alternative data that’s typically not part of credit reports, such as utility bills, social media posts and how often you change your address.

In addition, some online lenders proclaim they don’t use credit scores in their decisions or don’t have a minimum score requirement.

In my latest for NerdWallet, why thinking credit scores no longer matter could be an expensive mistake.

Friday’s need-to-know money news

Zemanta Related Posts ThumbnailToday’s top story: Buying credit and identity theft monitoring. Also in the news: Financial aid appeal tactics, why we’re still swiping our credit cards, and how to look at living on a budget as an opportunity.

Should You Buy Credit and Identity Theft Monitoring?
What to look for.

7 Financial Aid Appeal Tactics To Improve Your Child’s College Aid Award
Making the case for more aid.

Why Are We Still Swiping Our Credit Cards?
Where are all the chips?

Why You Should Think of Frugality as an Opportunity, Not a Sacrifice
A different way of looking at living on a budget.