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Credit score hacks: How I fixed my credit score – How to make it work for you instead of against you



It should be noted that I am not a financial advisor. I am just a gal that grew up with very little financial and credit literacy. I learned the hard way. And sometimes the very hard way. I then did a lot of research and dug myself out of the bad-credit hole. I am hopeful that this information may help someone that was struggling like me.

It is no secret that your personal credit score affects the price you pay for credit. The percentage rate you pay on a loan (or if you get a loan) is a direct reflection on your personal credit score. This is common knowledge. Two people apply for the same loan and credit-worthiness (assigned to them by a score generated by an algorithm) determines which of these two will get a loan and how much each will pay for that same loan.

With the housing market so hot right now, it seems everyone is trying to buy a home. But for some, credit score can mean the difference between renting and buying.

The effect of credit score on the ability to buy a house is self-evident. But did you know that credit also affects how much you will pay for car insurance? Of if you get a particular job? Your personal credit score can be an asset and save you money or can be a literal weight that keeps you stuck where you are, weighing you down. 

Creating a good credit score from nothing and maintaining it is so much easier than digging yourself out of a bad-credit hole. So, what do those of us do that have found ourselves on the wrong side of the credit rating system? This series will focus on small changes that can help you create good credit, wealth, and decrease the financial stress in your life.

I have been there. I have dug myself out of this hole. I have some tips. I’m going to start with three tips to start, and explain why you should consider doing them.

1.    Save $1000 dollars. I credit this to the Dave Ramsey method of money management. Save this in cash. This way, if your car breaks down, your child needs stitches, or you have an unexpected expense, you can dip into this fund to pay for these without using credit cards or worse yet “pay day loans.” I recommend saving this money in cash, or in a savings account separate from your main checking account. Preferably in a different bank that is dedicated to savings only.

2.    Sign up for Credit Karma, Equifax, or some other free credit reporting application. You can check your credit and become informed on your situation. Many people have no idea what their score is, nor what debts are currently showing. You can boost your credit score by eliminating incorrect data on your score. You can do this by contesting debts that your think are paid off, or are incorrect. Through Equifax and Credit Karma, you can contest a debt you think is incorrect online, and the credit reporting agency will reach out to the creditor for you. It is then the creditor’s responsibility to prove you owe that debt.

3.    Once you understand what you owe and agree to what you owe, pay your credit cards off, as quickly as possible.

Stop paying the minimum monthly payment (MMP). Pay double or triple that and watch your balance shrink. One at a time. Start with either a). the smallest balance or b). the highest interest, or annual percentage rate (APR). I prefer to start with the smallest balance and work my way from there.

Here is a quick example:

Let’s add $20 to our outflow monthly (total) and shave 6 years from our debt burden.

Card #1 MMP is $10/ month, with $300 balance and 24% APR, 

–    Paying the MMP, this card will be paid off in 3.8 years!

Card #2 MMP is $25/month, with $1500 balance and 18% APR,

–    Paying the MMP, this card will be paid off in 12.8 years!

Card #2 MMP is $40/ month, with $2500 balance, and 16% APR.

–    Paying the MMP, this card will paid off in 11.2 years!

If you pay $30/ month on card 1 – just adding $20/month to your monthly outflow, you will pay this off in less than one year! (11.2 months!)

Once Card #1 is paid off, take that payment and apply it to card #2.

Card #2:

$30 + $25 (MMP for Card #2) = $55/month applied to card #2.

Doing this, card #2 will be paid off in 2.9 year

(That’s almost 10 years less than using only MMP for those counting!)

Once Card #2 is paid off, apply that $55/month to you card #3 payment.

Card #3:

$55 + $40 (MMP for Card #3) = $95/ month applied to card #3.

Doing this, card #3 will be paid off in 2.7 years.

You can shave 6 years off your debt burden and save thousands in interest by paying an additional $20/ per month.

And I know what you are thinking, “Hey, Sonia, can’t we just take that $1000 and apply it to card #1 and some of card #2?” Well, sure you can. But when something unexpected happens that costs money, and it invariably will, you will be forced to use one of those cards and end up in the same spot. Trust me on this, save the cash. You will need it. And if you don’t, well you have it just in case you do.

I hope to be back in the next few weeks with 3 more tips on how to create, repair, and capitalize on your credit score.

If you have questions or want my reference materials, please contact me at

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Are Sallie Mae Student Loans Federal or Private?



When you hear the name Sallie Mae, you probably think of student loans. There’s a good reason for that; Sallie Mae has a long history, during which time it has provided both federal and private student loans.

However, as of 2014, all of Sallie Mae’s student loans are private, and its federal loans have been sold to another servicer. Here’s what to know if you have a Sallie Mae loan or are considering taking one out.

What is Sallie Mae?

Sallie Mae is a company that currently offers private student loans. But it has taken a few forms over the years.

In 1972, Congress first created the Student Loan Marketing Association (SLMA) as a private, for-profit corporation. Congress gave SLMA, commonly called “Sallie Mae,” the status of a government-sponsored enterprise (GSE) to support the company in its mission to provide stability and liquidity to the student loan market as a warehouse for student loans.

However, in 2004, the structure and purpose of the company began to change. SLMA dissolved in late December of that year, and the SLM Corporation, or “Sallie Mae,” was formed in its place as a fully private-sector company without GSE status.

In 2014, the company underwent another big adjustment when Sallie Mae split to form Navient and Sallie Mae. Navient is a federal student loan servicer that manages existing student loan accounts. Meanwhile, Sallie Mae continues to offer private student loans and other financial products to consumers. If you took out a student loan with Sallie Mae prior to 2014, there’s a chance that it was a federal student loan under the now-defunct Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFELP).

At present, Sallie Mae owns 1.4 percent of student loans in the United States. In addition to private student loans, the bank also offers credit cards, personal loans and savings accounts to its customers, many of whom are college students.

What is the difference between private and federal student loans?

When you’re seeking financing to pay for college, you’ll have a big choice to make: federal versus private student loans. Both types of loans offer some benefits and drawbacks.

Federal student loans are educational loans that come from the U.S. government. Under the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program, there are four types of federal student loans available to qualified borrowers.

With federal student loans, you typically do not need a co-signer or even a credit check. The loans also come with numerous benefits, such as the ability to adjust your repayment plan based on your income. You may also be able to pause payments with a forbearance or deferment and perhaps even qualify for some level of student loan forgiveness.

On the negative side, most federal student loans feature borrowing limits, so you might need to find supplemental funding or scholarships if your educational costs exceed federal loan maximums.

Private student loans are educational loans you can access from private lenders, such as banks, credit unions and online lenders. On the plus side, private student loans often feature higher loan amounts than you can access through federal funding. And if you or your co-signer has excellent credit, you may be able to secure a competitive interest rate as well.

As for drawbacks, private student loans don’t offer the valuable benefits that federal student borrowers can enjoy. You may also face higher interest rates or have a harder time qualifying for financing if you have bad credit.

Are Sallie Mae loans better than federal student loans?

In general, federal loans are the best first choice for student borrowers. Federal student loans offer numerous benefits that private loans do not. You’ll generally want to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and review federal funding options before applying for any type of private student loan — Sallie Mae loans included.

However, private student loans, like those offered by Sallie Mae, do have their place. In some cases, federal student aid, grants, scholarships, work-study programs and savings might not be enough to cover educational expenses. In these situations, private student loans may provide you with another way to pay for college.

If you do need to take out private student loans, Sallie Mae is a lender worth considering. It offers loans for a variety of needs, including undergrad, MBA school, medical school, dental school and law school. Its loans also feature 100 percent coverage, so you can find funding for all of your certified school expenses.

With that said, it’s always best to compare a few lenders before committing. All lenders evaluate income and credit score differently, so it’s possible that another lender could give you lower interest rates or more favorable terms.

The bottom line

Sallie Mae may be a good choice if you’re in the market for private student loans and other financial products. Just be sure to do your research upfront, as you should before you take out any form of financing. Comparing multiple offers always gives you the best chance of saving money.

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Tips to do some fall cleaning on your finances



Wealth manager, Harry Abrahamsen, has five simple ways to stay on top of the big financial picture.

PORTLAND, Maine — Keeping track of our financial stability is something we can all do, whether we have IRAs or 401ks or just a checking account. Harry J. Abrahamsen is the Founder of Abrahamsen Financial Group. He works with clients to create and grow their own wealth. Abrahamsen shares five financial tips, starting with knowing what you have. 

1. Analyze Your Finances Quarterly or Biannually

You want to make sure that your long-term strategy is congruent with your short-term strategy. If the short-term is not working out, you may need to adjust what you are doing to make sure your outcome produces the desired results you are looking to accomplish. It is just like setting sail on a voyage across the Atlantic Ocean. You know where you want to go and plot your course, but there are many factors that need to be considered to actually get you across and across safely. Your finances behave the exact same way. Check your current situation and make sure you are taking into consideration all of the various wealth-eroding factors that can take you completely off course.

With interest rates very low, now might be a good time to consider refinancing student loans or mortgages, or consolidating credit card debt. However, do so only if you need to or if you can create a positive cash flow. To ensure that you are saving the most by doing so, you must look at current payments, excluding taxes and insurance costs. This way you can do an apples-to-apples comparison.

The most important things to look for when reviewing your credit report is accuracy. Make sure the reporting agencies are reporting things actuary. If it doesn’t appear to be reporting correct and accurate information, you should consult with a reputable credit repair company to help you fix the incorrect information.

4. Savings and Retirement Accounts

The most important thing to consider when reviewing your savings and retirement accounts is to make sure the strategies match your short-term and long-term investment objectives. All too often people end up making decisions one at a time, at different times in their lives, with different people, under different circumstances. Having a sound strategy in place will allow you to view your finances with a macro-economic lens vs a micro-economic view. Stay the course and adjust accordingly from a risk and tax standpoint.

RELATED: Financial lessons learned through the pandemic

A great tip for lowering utility bills or car insurance premiums: Simply ask! There may be things you are not aware of that could save you hundreds of dollars every month. You just need to call all of the companies that you do business with to find out about cost-cutting strategies. 

RELATED: Overcome your fear of finances

To learn more about Abrahamsen Financial, click here

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How to Get a Loan Even with Bad Credit



Sana pwedeng mabura ang bad credit history as quickly and easily as paying off your utility bills, ‘no? Unfortunately, it takes time. And bago mo pa maayos ang bad credit mo, more often than not, kailangan mo na namang mag-avail ng panibagong loan. 

Good thing you can still get a loan even with bad credit, kahit na medyo limited ang options. How do you get a loan if you have bad credit? Alamin sa short guide na ito. 

For more finance tips, visit Moneymax.



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