Connect with us

News

Does Your Credit Need Repairing?

Published

on

Presented by Mike Zirbel

Many people had their financial plans derailed in 2020. You or a spouse may have lost a job or been hit with unexpected expenses for medical care, assisting family members, or other reasons. Financial stress may have forced you to make tough choices, such as deciding which bills to pay, scaling back on your savings, or borrowing from a 401(k) account. As a result, you may need to get back on track financially. One of the first areas to tackle should be your credit score.

Even if your finances didn’t take a hit during the pandemic, it’s wise to keep track of your credit score. A strong credit score forms the basis of a solid financial foundation. It affects· your ability to get a job; your access to loans for a car, house, or education; and your ability to qualify for various types of insurance. Can you repair or upgrade your credit score? Yes, but the first step is to understand what your credit score and credit report are based on, as well as how to monitor your credit.

Understanding Your Credit Score
Here’s what you need to know about your credit score:

Your FICO score. The FICO score, based on a model created by Fair Isaac Corporation, is the most commonly used scoring system of a person’s credit history. Lenders use these scores to evaluate your creditworthiness, which means the probability that you will repay credit cards and loans in a timely manner. A lower FICO score can result in higher interest rates for credit or loans, as well as shorter repayment terms, a requirement for a cosigner, or even outright denial of a loan.

FICO scores range from 300 to 850. Generally, scores greater than 800 are considered excellent, while scores below 640 are considered below average, or subprime. Most lenders use the average score of the three most well-known reporting agencies (Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax).

Your FICO credit score is based on five factors:

  1. Payment history (35 percent)
  2. Total amount owed compared with available credit, known as credit utilization (30 percent)
  3. Length of credit history (15 percent)
  4. Types of credit used (10 percent)
  5. New credit cards or loans opened and credit inquiries (10 percent)

Alternative credit scores. Besides FICO, these recently adopted sources provide alternative credit scores:

  • Vantage provides a single score based on the three major reporting agencies but differs from FICO in that it gives varying levels of importance to different parts of your credit report. Most websites that offer free credit scores, such as Credit Karma, use the VantageScore.
  • UltraFICO, which is used only by Experian, lets consumers enhance their credit score by linking with their checking, savings, or money market accounts.
  • Experian Boost helps consumers improve their FICO score by giving them credit for on-time phone and utility payments. Experian Boost is offered only through Experian.

UltraFICO and Experian Boost are intended primarily for consumers with subprime credit scores, as well as people without enough usage to receive a score. These services are especially helpful to those with borderline credit scores.

Understanding Your Credit Report
Once you know your credit score, you’ll also want to know what went into that three-digit figure – which you can find out by reviewing your credit report.

Credit reports contain a comprehensive record of your credit history, including personal information, account information, and whether you have paid your bills on time. Your credit report also contains information on any accounts that have been sent to a collections agent and whether you’ve filed for bankruptcy or received a bankruptcy discharge.

Checking Your Credit Report
With so much of your financial life based on your credit report, accuracy is important. Unfortunately, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) estimates one in five consumers has at least one error on their report. That’s why it’s so important to make checking your credit report a habit. There are several ways to do so:

  • Go to AnnualCreditReport.com. Everyone has the right to a free report from each of the three major credit reporting agencies each year.
  • Go to lnnovis, another reporting agency that provides free credit reports. Although your free report will not include a credit score, it’s wise to verify information from this source because companies may use it to check your credit history.
  • Go to Credit Karma, NerdWallet, and Bankrate for free access to one or two of the major credit reports, as well as additional services such as credit monitoring and free credit scores.
  • Check out organizations such as Life Lock and Identity Guard which, for a fee, provide enhanced credit monitoring and identity theft protection.

Freezing Your Credit
Since 2013, consumers have been able to freeze their credit files free of charge. A credit freeze imposes restricted access to credit reports, making it more difficult for identity thieves to open accounts in someone else’s name. During a freeze, you can still access your credit history and open new accounts­ though you’ll have to temporarily lift the freeze to do so.

A freeze won’t affect your credit score. But you should be aware that a freeze cannot prevent someone else from making charges to your existing accounts. So, even if you have a credit freeze in place, be sure to keep monitoring your current accounts.

Repairing Your Credit: 7 Important Steps
Repairing your credit score will require time, patience, and discipline. Know that there is no quick fix. Instead, work your way through these steps for improving your credit score over time:

  1. Review your credit reports for errors and dispute any inaccurate or missing information. Be aware that simply checking your credit report or FICO score will have no effect on your credit score. You’ll need to take action to dispute incorrect or missing information. The FTC website provides consumer information on how to file and resolve credit disputes.
  2. Pay your bills on time. Even if you have missed payments, get current with your bills.
  3. Tackle past-due accounts and reduce the amount of debt you owe. You could start by paying off debts with the smallest balance to the largest (the debt snowball method) or from the highest interest rate to the lowest (the debt avalanche method).
  4. Be cautious when opening new credit cards. New credit accounts should be opened only on an as-needed basis. Although closing unused credit cards is often seen as a short-term strategy to increase a credit score, you should know that closing an account does not remove it from your credit report.
  5. Conside rconsumer credit counseling. A great resource for educational materials and workshops is the U.S. Department of Justice’s U.S. Trustee Program, which maintains a list of credit counseling agencies approved to provide pre-bankruptcy advice.
  6. Be wary of credit repair services. These companies offer to act on behalf of the consumer and negotiate with creditors, but they may also charge unreasonable fees and upfront charges, as well as mislead customers about their ability to fix credit.
  7. Consider bankruptcy only as a last resort. Filing for bankruptcy can allow people to keep their house, car, and other property. It also has serious consequences, however, including lowering your credit score. If you ‘re exploring bankruptcy, the U.S. Trustee Program maintains a state-by­ state list of government-approved organizations that supervise bankruptcy cases and trustees.

Meeting Your Financial Goals
Your credit history is an important cornerstone of your financial plan. That’s why making a commitment to monitor and manage your credit score and report is so important. Although the process may take time and patience, working to repair your credit is well worth the effort. It’s an important part of staying on track to meeting your long-term financial goals.

These tools/hyperlinks are being provided as a courtesy and are for informational purposes only. We make no representation as to the completeness or accuracy of information provided at these websites.

Michael W Zirbel is a financial professional with 307 Financial Services, LLC at 416 E Main ST. Riverton, WY. 82501. He offers securities as a Registered Representative of Commonwealth Financial Network®, Member FINRAl’SIPC. He can be reached at 307-856-8200 or at mike@307financial.com.

© 2021 Commonwealth Financial Network®

Source link

Continue Reading

News

Are Sallie Mae Student Loans Federal or Private?

Published

on

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.

Learn more:

Source link

Continue Reading

News

Tips to do some fall cleaning on your finances

Published

on

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

Source link

Continue Reading

News

How to Get a Loan Even with Bad Credit

Published

on

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.

 

 

Source link

Continue Reading

Trending