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Ebony Burroughs Repaired Her Credit, Now Shows Others How

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Ebony Burroughs, a Birmingham-based
credit-repair specialist, provides a number of services to help clients strengthen their finances. (Amarr Croskey, For The Birmingham Times)

By Je’Don Holloway Talley
For the Birmingham Times

Coming out of Alabama State University (ASU) in 2013, Ebony Burroughs was like many college graduates—saddled with student loans and a low credit score. But she found a way to up her credit score and benefit others.

“I obtained a lot of debt in college, so I wanted to help others searching for ways to improve their financial situation succeed,” she said.

Burroughs, 32, a Birmingham-based credit-repair specialist is in the business of getting clients to improve from a “very poor” to an “excellent” credit score. When she repaired her own credit, she was able to acquire low-interest rates on her car and become prequalified for homeownership with the good income she earned at the time. Burroughs then realized that her “desire to help people could be fulfilled not only in the medical field [as an occupational therapist] but also in the financial industry.”

Her home-based business, Solutions 1st Credit Repair, works with clients to establish a budget to pay down existing debt, secure approval for home and car loans, and remove negative items from their credit reports, such as late payments, collections accounts, medical bills, child support, repossessions, and evictions.

“We can also help clients avoid bankruptcy and those currently going through [it],” Burroughs said. “We help identify your net worth by recognizing your assets versus your liabilities; we do credit monitoring and building; we offer identity-theft services; and we [help with the] establishment of wills, trusts, and power of attorney.”

Credit Score Basics

Burroughs explained that credit scores are composed differently and involve multiple factors.

“I had a client who started at a [very poor score of] 530, but even though the negative items were removed, her credit score didn’t improve because she had no positive lines of credit or credit history, which is 35 percent of your credit score,” she said. “Once she got a secured credit card, [which reports every 30 days] and made on-time payments for six months, her credit score jumped to a 780 out of 850, [excellent], because she then had a history that lenders could use to determine her creditworthiness.”

Burroughs shows people how to leverage the Fair Credit Reporting Act of 1971, a law created to require consumer reporting agencies to adopt reasonable procedures in a manner that is fair and equitable to the consumer, to their benefit.

“We do a hard pull on credit reports from [the three major credit bureaus]—Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian—so we can dispute every negative item at one time under the Fair Credit Reporting Act. … Disputing all negatives at one time will give you a quicker turnaround [on your results].”

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“Meet Clients Anytime”

The Fairfield native and Fairfield Preparatory High School grad attended ASU in Montgomery, Ala., where she earned a bachelor’s degree in biology in 2010 and a master’s degree in occupational therapy in 2013. She worked in her field for five years before venturing into the credit-repair industry.

The wife and mother of two studied online at Financial Education Services, based in Farmington, Mich., and became a certified credit-repair specialist before launching her company, through which she conducts credit-repair seminars and “will meet clients anytime and anywhere they’re available,” Burroughs said.

“I conduct a lot of my first consultations through my website and [the web-based video conferencing tool] Zoom. … It’s really up to the client. I’ll even meet with you at your home.”

Burroughs’s company has benefited nearly 300 people throughout the Southeast and even as far away as Baltimore, Md., to restore credit. Birmingham is the prime location for her program because, she said, “Alabama has one of the lowest credit scores in the U.S., with an average credit score of 683. This leaves a lot of room to help those in my community become creditworthy and also eligible to purchase a home.”

The ASU grad explained that a typical credit-restoration period lasts between six and eight months: “The score depends on what’s on [the client’s] credit report and their debt-to-income ratio, whether they carry high balances on credit cards and pay their bills on time.”

One of her notable successes was with a married couple “who worked diligently as a team to improve their credit,” Burroughs said. “After only six months, they were able to purchase a home with a low down payment because they paid down their credit card debt to 30 percent of the credit limit, utilizing our budgeting and debt-pay-off tools. Not only that, but they were able to earn extra income by becoming credit-repair specialists and are now able to [contribute more to] their financial futures.”

To learn more about Ebony Burroughs and Solutions 1st Credit Repair services, visit www.solutions1stcreditrepair.com; you also can follow her on Instagram @ebony_burroughs_ and Facebook @Solutions 1st Credit Repair.

Click one of the links below to read more stories about Birmingham Realtors. 

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Are Sallie Mae Student Loans Federal or Private?

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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

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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

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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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