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How To Improve Your Credit Score All By Yourself

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When thoughts of home-ownership become meaningful to you, everybody will tell you that you need to get your pre-approved mortgage financing set up before you go out shopping for your dream house.

But before you do that, if you think you might have some credit misdeeds lurking in your past, spend the time, make the effort and navigate the frustration that it may take to get your credit overhauled and polished up.

Getting your credit score/history/report sorted out before you get pre-approved for mortgage financing will help determine the kind of mortgage you qualify for and the cost or interest rate.

There is no shortage of companies offering to help fix your credit and increase your credit score; some are legitimate with real results, some maybe not so much. But there are some absolutely-for-real-do-it-yourself credit repair strategies that you can do yourself today, right now, that will have an immediate positive impact on your credit profile.

Related: How To Improve Your Credit Score

This is not about credit repair, this is about credit correct, and there are simple and effective fixes you can do yourself that will make a big difference in your credit score.

As a consumer, you are entitled to a free credit report every twelve (12) months. All you have to do is go to Annual Credit Report .com, follow the directions and presto, you have a free copy of your credit report from all three credit bureaus; Trans Union, Equifax and Experian. You may be given the opportunity to pay a fee to get your credit scores and you can of course choose to do so, but you don’t have to.

Once you have your credit report in hand, study it and get comfortable with how it is structured and what the keys and abbreviations mean. This will make it easier to read all of the individual accounts and determine the status and health of each one.

In the body of your credit report, down where the accounts are listed, there are letters all the way to the left for each account under the ECOA heading. These letters are key codes for how a particular account is classified or held and by whom.

Knowing how to read your credit report and what you should look for, can help you determine if there are any accounts where you are an Authorized User or a Joint account holder, and whether these accounts are helping or hurting your credit score.

Look for the letters J and A, as these denote that you are a Joint account holder or an Authorized User on the account listed.

If you are a Joint account holder or if you are an Authorized User on someone else’s credit account, it can help or hurt your credit score. In either case, these accounts belong to someone else and being a Joint holder or an Authorized User transfers access to the performance history for that account to you.

For example; if you are an Authorized User or a Joint account holder on a seasoned account that is not over-utilized and has a good payment history, you may just want to leave that account alone. Old age is a good thing when the subject is credit; established accounts opened long ago will have a positive impact on your credit score.

But if you have established credit (and are no longer actively using these accounts -usually credit cards), you may want to have the primary account holder remove your Authorized User or Joint status. This is an especially good idea if the account has late payments or is at or close to its credit limit. Here, the primary holder of the account may be putting a dent in your credit score simply because you are an Authorized User or Joint holder. Call it guilt by association.

This is a fairly easy fix that can have a big impact on your credit score. Call up mom or dad, your ex-spouse, your old business partner or whoever it is, and ask them to make a call and have you removed from the account. Maybe tell them you are thinking about buying a house and you are trying to get your credit in order. Just in case, follow-up in a couple of days to make sure they took care of it.

On the other hand, if you do not have a lot of credit history or if you are new to the credit universe, being added to a credit account that belongs to someone else as an Authorized User may increase your credit score. This can be a great strategy for a newly minted workforce participant that has not had an opportunity to establish much of a credit history. Mom or dad or a trusting relative can add you as an Authorized User and all of the good that is attached to their credit account is automatically transferred to you. The age of when the account was opened, the timely payments and the prudent use of credit will all be added to your credit profile to help establish your newbie credit score.

Harnessing the power of being or becoming an Authorized User or a Joint account holder may be just the boost you need to launch your credit profile. On the other hand, it may also be a negative that is dragging down your credit score. Having the primary account holder surgically remove you can have an immediate impact to the good. This is a good place to start because this can be an easy fix that can deliver a lot of mileage.

If you have outstanding balances due on credit cards that are more than half of the approved credit line and you have the money to pay down those balances, do it. Credit cards with balances that are greater than 50% of the approved credit line are considered over-utilized and the credit scoring algorithms don’t like that. High balances on credit cards will hurt your credit score.

If your credit report is showing an old collection or charge-off account as unpaid and you can provide evidence that you had in fact paid it off, contact the credit reporting agencies, send them your proof and ask them to change the status to paid. A paid charge-off or collection account is better than an unpaid one.

You are in charge of your own credit health and some fixes may be harder and may take longer than others. But getting and being credit correct, is a good starting point for any proper credit profile.

Once you have your credit squared away, go ahead and get mortgage pre-approved, find a Realtor, buy a house, start a family, build a career, and all that other stuff!

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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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