1. Invest in a home security system
Home security is important, but the costs, including fees for equipment and monthly monitoring, sometimes seem too much. However, a tax refund is a great way to pay for a home security system. Not sure where to start your research? Compare home security companies on our guide. You can also consider wireless home security or systems designed specifically for renters.
2. Pay down your debt
Debt settlement might be an option if you have debt that doesn’t seem to go away, no matter how much you budget to pay it down. Professionals at debt settlement companies speak to your creditors and work to convince them to lower the amount due. Debt settlement isn’t for everyone, but it’s worth looking into if your debt is overwhelming. The ConsumerAffairs Debt Settlement Guide explains the process in-depth and recommends trusted companies.
3. Repair your credit
Do you find your credit score much lower than you expected? It might not be your fault — credit reports sometimes have mistakes. A company specializing in credit repair might be able to dispute negative marks on your credit and get them removed. Credit repair is another way to save money by spending it — with better credit, you’ll be able to have larger lines of credit, qualify for more credit cards and take out bigger loans. Read our Credit Repair Buyers Guide to learn more.
4. Consider gold
Gold may be a stable investment, especially when the economy is weaker or in recession. One way to invest in gold is by opening a gold IRA account. A gold IRA is much like a traditional IRA, except it holds gold instead of paper assets. Learn more about gold investment by reading the ConsumerAffairs Gold IRA Buyers Guide.
Gold and other precious metal IRAs are an investment and carry risk. Consumers should be alert to claims that customers can make a lot of money in these or any investment with little risk. As with any investment, you can lose money and past performance is not a guarantee of future performance results. Consumers should also obtain a clear understanding of the fees associated with any investment before agreeing to invest.
5. Protect your car with an extended auto warranty
Extended auto warranties help protect consumers against costly one-time repairs. If your car breaks down and the extended warranty covers the damaged part or system, all you’ll have to pay is a deductible, typically $100. Some warranties are as little as $350 a year — and a tax refund is a great way to pay for one.
6. Open a high-interest online savings account
An online bank account can act as a savings fund. If you’re a conservative investor or just want some time to think before you invest elsewhere, a high-yield savings account is a great option. We discuss and recommend several online savings accounts with high return rates.
7. Look into a home warranty
A home warranty covers certain appliances and systems in your home if they break down due to normal wear and tear. All the warranty holder has to do is pay a service call fee, typically $75, and the home warranty company sends a repair technician to fix the issue. In our Home Warranties Buyers Guide, we provide more information on home warranties and list our favorite companies.
Have another ingenious way to put a tax refund to good use? Let us know in the comments.
From Real Estate To Financial Freedom Courses, Melik Monal Is A Businessman Who Has Really Done It All
NEW YORK, NY / ACCESSWIRE / March 4, 2021 / Many people in the business world started with a big leg up on life. They had parents in the business world or were well off enough to try different things before they found their stride and were able to succeed. Not Melik Monal. He had very few role models in life that he could base his business off of. Instead, he followed his own desires to become successful.
“What if you were born in poverty? And a Wealthy mindset was nonexistent not because you didn’t want it but because Financial literacy wasn’t taught Growing up. My name is Melik Monal ( Mr. blueberry) himself with a unique story on how I went from picking blueberries to running several multimillion-dollar companies. Growing up, I had no role model to emulate from a business perspective. I wanted to become successful, and the only way to do so was to become a professional athlete or business owner. Ownership is the key to success. Watching my parents struggle to provide for our family was enough motivation,” Melik recounts.
Melik’s journey into business was not an easy one. He faced many challenges when beginning his first steps, including the loss of his parents. However, this never deterred him from continuing on.
“My biggest obstacle I have had to overcome was losing my parents, but that has only made me stronger and wiser and more determined to be great. Despite this, entrepreneurship has always been a passion of mine. I aspire to help others become financially free, and being of service to other people is definitely the new wave,” Melik explains.
Now, Melik runs not only one business but multiple businesses. From real estate to author, Melik really does do it all. He has been working hard to pursue his interests and create businesses to help others while gaining financial freedom.
“I run a real estate investor business, Financial freedom Hacks course, a do-it-yourself credit repair ebook, and am author of the Financial Freedom book. In addition, I run A chain of financial institutions: Easy and Direct tax, Tax max professionals, Platinum tax pros, Supreme tax pros, and Texas tax pros,” Melik says.
After being so successful, Melik has some advice to those who wish to start their own businesses. Amongst the most important things, Melik says that mindset is crucial when beginning a business.
“Mindset is the key to becoming successful and starting your business. Without the right mindset, you’re setting yourself up for failure. In addition, commit – Becoming successful starts with your mindset, with the belief that you really can accumulate wealth. Assets and liabilities – know the difference, increase your income and reduce your expenses. Live Below Your Means – stay broke, save to invest, don’t save to save,” Melik advises.
Melik has no plans on slowing down now. In fact, he has many plans for the future as 2021 begins. He is growing his businesses and doing much more.
“My plans for 2021 are creating the financial freedom Hacks course. I’ll be teaching: how to invest in real estate, how to build business and personal credit, how to build a seven-figure tax office, how to build a successful e-commerce store, and how to build a seven-figure restaurant,” Melik states.
About VIP Media Group:
VIP Media Group is a hybrid PR agency. Their diverse client base includes top-class entrepreneurs, public figures, influencers, and celebrities.
SOURCE: Monal Capital
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Angela Marie Kovacs Educates Clients on Smart Money Habits for Better Living
VAN BUREN TWP, MICHIGAN, UNITED STATES, March 4, 2021 /EINPresswire.com/ — Angela Marie Kovacs, an experienced personal finance expert is using her knowledge to inspire her clients to imbibe smart money habits that will improve their lives. From 2005-2011, she worked in the real estate and property industry, helping clients build credit to get approval for new rental properties. She also used the same knowledge to help her clients when she became a personal trainer.
While promoting physical wellness, she realized how important personal connection and communication are with clients. That’s where she got the inspiration to start her company Credit Repair Gal™ in 2019, dedicating her life to helping clients build good credits so they can live their best lives.
According to Angela Marie Kovacs, smart money habits are one of the most important things to help people build good credit and increase wealth. However, this habit is a lifelong effort that requires commitment and personal sacrifice. She also believes that to build a strong financial lifestyle, people must commit to daily money management habits.
She believes smart money habits include always having a budget for any expenses. Budgets help people plan and stick to it, thereby avoiding unnecessary or lavish spending that may negatively impact their credit score. She also believes people must find ways to avoid or eliminate debts. Having too much debt can hurt credit scores and make it impossible or difficult to take advantage of many growth opportunities.
Major purchases are inevitable for most people. Angela Marie Kovacs advises that people should take the responsibility to pre-fund these purchases to avoid going into debt when ready to buy. Setting up an emergency fund will also help solve serious financial challenges. Most people will be financially okay unless they face an unexpected emergency problem, especially relating to health. Pulling cash from an emergency fund at such a period will help reduce the negative impact that may damage their credit score.
Savings automation, using banking alerts, and acquiring financial and money knowledge can also increase opportunities. There are also huge opportunities in investing when done properly. Angela encourages her clients to seek advice on smart investment opportunities that will yield results.
Getting a good credit score is possible but people must be ready to put in the work. Most of these habits mentioned above may not be easy to adhere to but they are necessary for success in this journey of financial freedom. Practice makes perfect. Angela Marie Kovacs states people must practice these smart money habits every day until they get used to them.
Spot mistake on credit report? What to know about making a dispute
Equifax, TransUnion and Experian — the big three of credit reporting agencies — announced Tuesday that they’re going to continue allowing consumers to receive free weekly credit reports for one more year until April 20, 2022.
You must go through annualcreditreport.com to get those free weekly reports.
The news comes right after troubling headlines indicating that consumers are frustrated with how their credit is being handled by those very same agencies.
“Consumer complaints about financial grievances spiked during the pandemic year of 2020, eclipsing 2019, the previous record year,” according to report released Monday by the U.S. PIRG Education Fund, a nonprofit consumer advocacy group.
The report reviewed the public database of complaints filed with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
A positive, accurate credit report paves the way for low-cost loans
Your credit report is the blueprint for building your credit score. Companies like FICO and VantageScore use the information, such as late payments and credit usage, on your credit reports to come up with your three-digit credit score.
The higher your score, the better your odds of receiving a low interest rate on a car loan, mortgage, credit card or other loan.
COVID-19 relief rolled out a variety of ways that financially strapped consumers could delay payments on credit cards, auto loans, mortgages and other major loans after losing a job or facing other hardships during the pandemic. Many times, consumers had to reach out to lenders for help.
Why some credit reports include errors
Increasingly, consumer watchdogs are spotting problems, though, including some missed payments that have wrongly showed up on credit reports during deferral periods.
I reported in June about a man in Flint Township, for example, who struggled for nearly a year to drive his credit score up from a grim 527 to pretty good 682. Then in a matter of days, his score unexpectedly tumbled by 91 points in May.
He apparently didn’t do anything wrong to drive that score back below 600. He simply was caught in a COVID-19-related glitch connected to some student loans.
Some mistakes found on credit reports can be attributed to banks mishandling the reporting of a variety of payment accommodations, consumers misunderstanding the exact changes offered and the credit reporting agencies themselves making mistakes.
“As soon as the pandemic hit, a large number of lenders began recognizing that their loan portfolios would be going into default and that isn’t good for anyone,” said Ian Lyngklip, an attorney at Lyngklip & Associates Consumer Law Center in Oak Park.
“A lot of disputes are happening because consumers don’t understand exactly the nature of what is being done,” Lyngklip said.
How to ask for help
Consumers who face financial troubles must ask a lender to send a letter or email to confirm of the exact terms of any adjustments or changes in payment terms on a mortgage or other loan.
A wide range of accommodations were granted on a temporary, and often individual basis. And you want to make sure you know what the lender offered you.
“When you have a lot of customized work being done, you have a high probability of errors falling in,” Lyngklip said.
Many times, he said, consumers would call requesting a way to avoid making payments for a month or two on a bill. But they really didn’t get documentation of what was being offered by a lender and so they may not actually know the terms of the accommodation that the creditor provided.
“They really don’t understand the legal arrangement that has been made,” Lyngklip said. “Their concern is what do I have to pay and when do I have to pay it.”
Did the bank waive payments? Extend the loan? Offer a deferment? Or forbearance? These are the correct questions to ask a lender, he said, about what is being offered by way of loan accommodation.
Lyngklip’s website has a new tool for consumers to obtain an automated letter to order credit reports. The site also has fillable forms to request background check reports. The free tool does not collect any data from consumers. See: https://www.consumerlawyers.com/fillable-credit-report-request-letters for information.
Many consumers have had their requests for reports rejected because the bureaus claim that they cannot properly identify the consumers, and they may need to write a letter and include identification, Lyngklip said.
Also some consumers are using the online order requests located on the bureau websites, he said, but those sites may require the consumers to agree to the terms of the “pop-ups.”
The letters that his site generates should help the consumer get the correct report without having the request kicked back due to insufficient information.
Complaints about credit reports skyrocket
Last year, consumers were shocked by errors that appeared on their credit reports, as complaints about credit reporting skyrocketed to the top of the list at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
Overall, there were 282,000 complaints about credit reporting issues in 2020 — more than double the 136,000 credit reporting complaints from 2019 in the federal consumer watchdog’s database. Credit reporting complaints accounted for 63% of all complaints submitted in 2020.
The three biggest reported problems: incorrect information on credit reports, problems with a credit bureau’s investigation into a problem on a credit report, and debt collection companies attempting to collect debt not owed.
Experian, TransUnion and Equifax — the big three credit reporting bureaus — ranked as the top three most complained about companies in the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau database.
Ed Mierzwinski, senior director of the federal consumer program for U.S. PIRG, blames the pandemic to a degree, noting that the economic upheaval intensified the financial fears that many people already had been experiencing.
Consumer watchdogs pushed an unsuccessful attempt at banning negative credit reporting during the natural disasters and the pandemic, arguing that the COVID-19 emergency has led to job losses and meant that many people aren’t able to pay their bills. What’s going on, they say, isn’t a real reflection of someone’s creditworthiness.
But Mierzwinski also is extremely critical of how many mistakes credit reporting agencies make even when there isn’t an emergency. He notes that consumer complaints were at record levels relating to credit reports in 2019 — before the pandemic hit — too.
The top complaint month was December 2020 when there were 48,558 complaints — more than double the number of complaints in December 2019.
The goal of credit reporting agencies, Mierzwinski said, is to provide lenders with information about consumers as quickly, and inexpensively, as possible.
“Consumers, they’re our product, not our customer,” Mierzwinski said.
The credit industry disagrees with the consumer watchdogs.
Francis Creighton, president and CEO of the Consumer Data Industry Association, offered this statement: “Getting credit reports right for consumers is one of our most important jobs and that’s reflected by a 97% accuracy rate. The industry’s internal data indicates there is no evidence that complaint activity reflects a problem with credit reporting.”
Instead, she blamed credit repair companies that “take advantage of consumers by promising they can take negative but accurate information off of credit reports for a fee. Additionally, these same companies are abusing the CFPB complaint portal with numerous and repeated frivolous disputes. “
While disputes are required to be resolved within 30 days, she said, the majority are resolved within two weeks. If the dispute extends beyond that time frame, the law requires that the disputed information must be removed from the credit report.
The best bet for consumers: Pay down debts so that your outstanding balances are less than 30% of your overall credit limits. Pay bills on time. Check your credit report before you shop for a loan. Dispute errors.
Federal law allows you to request one free copy of your credit report every 12 months from each national credit bureau. After the COVID-19 pandemic hit, though, free weekly reports were offered but that has been extended one year now until April 20, 2022.
Read or Share this story: https://www.freep.com/story/money/personal-finance/susan-tompor/2021/03/04/free-credit-report-mistake-dispute/6883558002/
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