Categories
Budgeting & Saving

Get a Free FICO® Credit Score and How to Track Your Credit

The FICO® Credit Score is a credit rating that forms a major part of the information used by lenders in assessing the risks involved in a loan application. This score is used to decide whether to extend a loan or grant credit. FICO® is an acronym for the company that created it, the Fair Isaac Corporation.

The Key Factors to Your FICO® Score

The FICO® Score is computed using various key factors from information available in your credit reports. The components are divided into 5 groups, and each account for a percentage of your overall score:

  • Payment History – 35%.
  • Debts or Amounts Owed –30%.
  • The Age of your Credit History –15%.
  • New credits or inquiries –10%.
  • Types of credit/combination of accounts –10%.

The exact percentages and weights are proprietary to the scoring model; refer to these as approximate weights only.

How Lenders Use Your FICO® Score

The FICO® Score scoring system converts your entire credit history into a three-digit number: lenders use this number to determine your “creditworthiness.” This three-digit number influences the conditions and amounts – if any – that will be offered to you in a credit application. It is used to predict your future behavior; how you will pay, if you will pay, etc.

For lenders, this kind of information is very important. It helps them evaluate how likely a person is to pay his/her bills on time, forecast the accounts which are likely to default, and identify the profitable accounts, among others. In addition, insurance companies often use credit scoring in their business processes to help them to determine which customers are likely to file claims.

In general, payment history and existing loans influence your FICO® Score the most. People who have paid their loans past the due date and are using all of the credit available to them often receive poor credit scores. On the other hand, a missed payment once 5 years ago is unlikely to affect your score greatly. Minor issues, particularly if they happened a few years back, cannot ruin your score.

Where to Get a Free FICO® Score

The credit bureaus that collect and process credit scores; Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax, are not required by the law to provide scores to individuals. For this reason, you might conclude that the only way to get your FICO® Score is to pay for it. Fortunately, there are ways to get your FICO® Score or an approximation of it absolutely free.

You can get your approximate FICO® Score by registering for a free service like Credit Sesame or Credit Karma. The score that you see is typically based on the same key factors but it is not a FICO® Score, only an approximation.

Certain credit card issuers offer a FICO® Score for free to customers. For example, as a Discover cardmember you can view up to a year’s history of your FICO® Credit Scores and receive key factors from your credit history impacting the scores – available online and on statements. Discover was the first major credit card issuer to proactively provide free FICO® Scores on cardmembers’ monthly statements. And now with the FICO® Credit Score tracking, you can understand the why behind your personal FICO® Score.

Get a Free FICO® Credit Score and Track Your Credit

Get a Free FICO® Credit Score and Track Your Credit

Have you checked your credit score recently?

 

This post was created as a part of the Discover partnership program.

Originally posted 2015-08-24 10:00:52.

Categories
Budgeting & Saving

6 Finance Apps Help College Students Embrace Geekness #MoneyNerdsUnite

These days, it’s harder for people to keep track of their budgeting and finance on pen and paper. The times have changed so much that, unfortunately, everything is more costly and complicated. How do you know what you’ve spent is worth the investment? Luckily, the times have also changed to make managing personal finance more convenient and easy for people, especially young adults, to practice and embrace financial management with the help of finance apps and sites.
Whether it’s for keeping track of your expenses or bill reminders, there’s always an app or site that’s accessible and easy to use with just a click or a touch of your finger. Here are six of them to help you embrace your geekness and better manage your money.

Some of the links included are partner links, meaning if you click through and sign up or make a purchase, I earn a small commission.

1. Earnest

For a quick, easy and secure loan without the traditional stressful application, try Earnest and get the best merit-based loan offers instead of credit-based loans. They do this by having a thorough application so they can check various variables and data points and use these to predict what your finances will look like. They offer personal loan and student loan refinance.

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More than that, Earnest doesn’t charge any fees. Yes, no late fees, origination fees, and hidden fees. They also have no penalty for prepaying loans with Earnest either. Their loan programs are really flexible and secure. They also have great customer service where they have representatives for customers who are experiencing financial hardship. If you’re young but dedicated to experiencing and achieving financial success, try looking into a loan with Earnest.

2. Blooom

If you’re employed and looking for financial advice and want to properly manage and plan your 401K, then Blooom is a must-try app. All you have to do is tell where your 401K is currently held and provide the log in and password for your current 401K institution and Blooom will do the rest. They will analyze your 401K across more than a thousand different funds and when they’re done, they’ll show a flower instead of the usual complicated pie charts to represent the health of your 401K.

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The team can also show you how to fix them and even let you weigh in financial decisions for stock and bond allocations you are comfortable with. Blooom does everything else for you, too: they will select the right funds in your 401K, make the changes for you, and monitor and rebalance your 401K quarterly. Indeed, Blooom is one of the most unique finance apps in the market that greatly evaluate, analyze, and solve your financial problems and help you balance and grow your 401K.

3. Payoff

With your best interest in mind, Payoff helps people pay off their credit cards faster and save money. Instead of dealing with overwhelming credit card bills, you can use Payoff to simplify them down to one monthly payment, all with lower rates than your credit cards designed to remove up to $25,000 of your credit card debt as quickly as possible. Their website is easy to use and is secure. I'm a brand ambassador for Payoff so let me know if you have any questions!

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You only need to apply online, and if approved, your bank account will be deposited with Payoff money so you can pay off your credit card balances. Payoff also eliminates fees such as late fees and prepayment fees. Payoff is a perfect financial service for people who constantly use credit cards but also get stressed when the bills come knocking on their door.

4. Digit

Digit is a unique financial management app that automates your savings by connecting with your bank account and saving some of your money to your Digit savings. However, they don’t over-draft your account so you can be sure you have one less problem. Digit also sends text updates that will let you know how much you currently have in your account, and how much you’ve saved.

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With just a text, you too can contact Digit and access your savings anytime with unlimited transfers, no minimums, and no fees. This finance app is good for people who are always on the go with their devices and would love to save money automatically without having nagging temptations and knowing it’s secure and safe.

5. Personal Capital

Personal Capital is an app that helps you track and understand your financial accounts by connecting your various accounts such as your credit cards, mortgage, bank accounts, investment accounts and more. They will then explain your situation and offer basic investment guidance to improve your financial situation and practices. Connecting your accounts is extremely easy since the apps are user-friendly and Personal Capital will automatically update it everyday.

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The site uses series of charts and graphs to help you understand your savings and investments including your net worth, account balances, income reports, spending reports, and many more. This comprehensive budget service also introduces advanced financial planning concepts for younger people who are trying to grasp financial management and its benefits.

6. Gradible

This New York City-based finance app and site is ideal for US college graduates who are exerting efforts to manage, understand, and pay their student loans faster. Gradible provides loan evaluation resources to make sure that members have a repayment plan that doesn’t nag them all the time for demanding monthly payments and excessive interest rates and is suited to their financial situation.

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More than that, Gradible also provides access to exclusive discounts, offers, and earning opportunities to members to help them accelerate their repayment. Gradible is an ideal app and site for college graduates looking into paying their loans fast and start saving again for future investments.

With all the technology in the world and in the market today, you can finally say goodbye to stressful paperwork financial management. You’re young, but you don’t have to be discouraged with practicing financial management because these finance apps and sites are easy to use, secure, and convenient. With just a swipe of your fingers, it’s now easier to track your expenses and save lots of money for the future. They are great for young people since it combines financial management with technology and is easily accessible on their laptops and mobiles.
If you have trouble managing your finance or are young and seeking help to understand financial management, be sure to try and test these six finance apps and sites which offer financial management at its best right in the palm of your hands.

Originally posted 2015-08-05 10:00:27.

Categories
Young Finances

Parents! Know This Before Borrowing Students Loans for Your Child

It’s almost time for the back to school discussions and families are gearing up to chat about one of the most important topics, money. As students get ready to enter college for the first time, the cost of tuition, books, and room and board is a concern for many parents and students. As a parent of a new college student, here are the top 4 things you should know about paying for college.

1. Discover the Options Available

When I graduated high school I had no idea what career I wanted to pursue, but I knew that I wanted to go to college. My parents agreed. According to a recent study by Discover Student Loans 81% of adults with college age children feel that college is very important to their children’s future. The concrete data supports this emotion. The overall employment rate for those with a college education (72.5%) is higher than for those with only a high school diploma (54.6%). (Source)

Researching the available options is the first step to helping your child fund a college education. According to the Discover Student Loans survey, only 9% of parents say they can afford all of their child’s education. To cover the costs, you may need to look into financial aid and other borrowing options.

2. Understand Co-Sign versus Parent Loan

While it may be tempting to borrow the full cost of your child’s college education on your own, it’s important to understand the difference between co-signing a loan and borrowing a federal Parent PLUS loan.

An option from financial aid is a federal Parent PLUS loan. However, many people don’t realize there are limits to federal student loans. The limit to what you can borrow is determined by the school and factors in any other financial aid your child may receive.

To help your child with expenses, you can also co-sign a private student loan for your child. When you co-sign a loan, you agree to joint liability for the loan. While your child will be responsible for payments, you are guaranteeing that those payments will continue. Be sure that you are ready to take on full responsibility for the loan if your child cannot make payments. It is important to look for the right loan for your situation. In addition, search for loans that offer rewards for good grades, on-time payments, and zero fees.

3. Encourage Alternative Funding Options

Before you immediately reach for a student loan to cover all expenses, take the time to maximize grants, scholarships, and other free financial aid. I applied for scholarships and used those funds to offset the cost of college. There are also work-study programs to help with college costs. If your child is not eligible for work-study programs, consider suggesting a part time job to help with costs.

4. Help Your Child Research Majors

Choosing a major is just as important if not more important than choosing what college to attend. A study from CareerBuilder.com shows that one-third of college-educated workers do not work in occupations related to their degree. In order to make sure your child does not leave school with a degree they won’t use and will likely not appreciate, it’s important to research majors to find one that fits passions with desired lifestyle.

Watch this video to discover what college majors yield high paying salaries.

The decision to attend college is a large one and it comes with a subsequent conversation about how to pay for college. There are many options and it is important to research them fully. Check into financial aid, grants, scholarships, and finally look into private student loan options to help cover the costs. Making the decision is not easy but there is no doubt that a college degree is worth it. See more from the Discover Student Loan study by clicking here.

This post was created as a part of the Discover partnership program.

Originally posted 2015-07-30 10:00:05.

Categories
Career

3 Ways to Find a Job By Networking Online

Just searching, applying, and attending interviews while looking for your first career position directly after college can be a full time job all by itself. I remember looking for my first job. I used to get frustrated when I saw former classmates getting hired by friends. It made me think that all of the work I did to earn good grades was for nothing.

But getting good grades is only half of the battle when it comes to finding a job. Who you know is the other half of the battle. And it can be the most important part of the battle. Networking in person can help you find jobs before they are listed online, but what if you see a job online and you don't have the connections? You will need to begin networking online. Use these tips to make the process easier and leverage your networks.

Use Multiple Job Search Engines

Don't be afraid to use more than one search engine to find a job. You may think that open positions will be listed on all of the large sites but that is just not how it works. Try Monster.com AND CareerBuilder.com. Test out Indeed.com and look for positions directly on company websites. After you've checked these sources, try an industry specific job search engine. For example, in finance, you can search OneWire.com for entry-level and more advanced financial positions. The site also has a networking option so candidates can meet potential employers.

LinkedIn is a great place to look for a job because it already includes the element of professional networking. The job search feature is limited to jobs that might interest you. But if you perform a search using the right keywords, you may find other jobs. A major advantage to job searching on LinkedIn is the ability to connect with the recruiter directly.

Get Noticed for Your Skills

Before you start reaching out, it's important that you update your resume and write a cover letter for your job search. You may receive an immediate request and you should be ready. Take the time to clean up your social networks and remove any potentially embarrassing material. You want to be noticed for your skills, not your ability to do a keg stand. Update your LinkedIn profile and ask your close connections and previous employers for recommendations and endorsements. Highlight relevant work history, skills and professional memberships.

You can also stand out by creating a blog or one page online resume. Create a blog to talk about your experience, your industry, and explore topics that interest you. A one page resume is similar to a LinkedIn profile but you can customize it more to match your specific skills. If you are in the design or creative field, you can create an online portfolio and stand out as a candidate.

Connect Online Via Professional Networking

Recruiters are always on the hunt for solid candidates. Take the time to find and connect with recruiters in your industry. Then, add all of your professional connections on LinkedIn. Start to share updates on interesting articles that you have read and stay active on a weekly basis. Join a group dedicated to your industry and chat with those members.

Once you start making meaningful connections, take it a step further. Ask for an in person meeting or Skype chat. Once the meeting is set up, prepare some questions that you can ask. This is not an interview but a conversation. Your goal is to simply create a deeper connection with an online friend.

Networking online is very similar to networking in person. You meet a new connection, find out how you can help them and discuss how they may be able to help you. Then you continue the conversation and look for ways to add value going forward.

Originally posted 2015-07-06 10:00:56.

Categories
Homeownership

5 Tips for First Time Homebuyers

Ready to buy your first home? First-time homebuyers have a few things to consider before shopping for a home. A home is one of the largest purchases that you will make in your lifetime so its important to get it right. Here are 5 tips to consider as you start your home buying  process.

Tip 1: Check your credit

Before you even search for a home, lender, or look for picture frames to place on your new walls, you must check your credit report. Incorrect information could delay your mortgage approval process and screw up your entire moving process. Head over to AnnualCreditReport.com to get a copy of each of your credit reports for free. This will give you your credit reports, but not your FICO score. Lenders sometimes make the initial decision based on your FICO score. You can get your FICO score from myFICO.com. If you’ve noticed that you have some items to clean up, take the time to do that before you start home shopping. You can contact the credit bureaus to fix any incorrect information.

Tip 2: Create a homebuyers budget

Credit score ok? Great. It’s time to figure out how much home you can afford. Even though a lender will provide an approval number for you, that number is based on your gross income. But after taxes, retirement contributions, and expenses, your net income is what’s left. That’s what you should base your expectations on. The question is not, how much home CAN I afford, but how much home, SHOULD I afford? This calculator from CNN Money assumes that with an income of $52,000 and a 20% down payment, you can probably afford a home worth $271,000.

But what if you have monthly debt in the amount of $1,000? Well, you just slashed your home dreams in half. Now you should look for a home worth $102,000. Get rid of that debt! Here’s an easy way to figure out how much home you should afford. Use the same calculator but type a monthly savings goal in the “debt” section. Want to save $800 a month? Look for a home in the $136,000 range instead. Play around with a few assumptions until you find a monthly mortgage number that looks good in your household budget.

Tip 3: Create a homeowner budget

Being a homeowner is so much more than having a mortgage payment. There are repairs and expenses beyond the monthly mortgage payment. Real estate investor Paula Pant recommends saving 1% of the purchase price for repairs and maintenance. Purchased a $200,000 home? That’s $2,000 a year in expected costs. Take this money and put it aside for that rainy day you know is coming.

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Tip 4 and 5: Shop for a lender and Shop for a home

Now it’s time to shop around for a lender. At this point, you want what is called a pre-qual letter. It’s not a full mortgage, simply an estimate of how much the lender is willing to give you based on your financial qualifications. The reason these two tips are together is that they go hand in hand. Here's why. I had the opportunity to chat with a new home counselor on a recent visit to a Beazer new home site. Beazer Homes is one of the nation’s largest homebuilders and they have a program to help make the first time home buying experience easier.

Most home builders use one in-house lender and if you decide to purchase a new home from that builder, you are locked into using that sole lender. Beazer Homes offers the Mortgage Choices program so that you can shop for your own lender. They provide a list of preferred mortgage lenders and they keep the closing process on track. If you have friends that have purchased a home, you know that the closing process can be an elaborate one. Buying a home is not as easy as choosing a model and signing the paperwork.

There are forms upon forms upon forms.

Well, you get the picture.

The preferred lenders that Beazer Homes chooses to work with must meet strict performance criteria to stay a preferred lender. That means quick approvals and on-time closings. There have local lenders and national lenders on the list and you are never locked in to using just those lenders. The don’t pay or provide any kickbacks to Beazer Homes to stay on the list but they do have to meet that criteria.

Beazer builds some of the cutest homes in the nicest locations so if you are looking for a new home, I suggest you check them out. The Mortgage Choices program is perfect for first time home buyers.

Now you’re ready to find your very own home! Do you have more questions on what you need to know before buying a home? Leave them in the comment box below.

This post was created as part of a partnership with Beazer Homes.

Originally posted 2015-06-26 06:29:39.

Categories
Budgeting & Saving

I Lost my Credit Card, What Do I Do Now?

Have you ever been somewhere, travelling or even in your own hometown, when you lost your credit card or even your entire wallet?

The moment of panic that ensues while you search frantically for your card is not fun to experience, but this may happen to you at some point or another.

With any luck you will come across your lost card or wallet because it’s simply misplaced. But once in a while, it’s truly lost. When this happens there are some immediate steps you need to take to ensure that your identity and financial information do not fall into the wrong hands.

Call the Credit Card Company ASAP

The first thing you need to do is call your credit card company. Unfortunately, most of us don’t have that number memorized or readily available since it’s usually listed on the back of the card you just lost. Some experts suggest writing down the phone number and storing it somewhere separately from where you keep your card.

But often we are not near that safe storage place when we lose our wallets or credit cards. My suggestion is to store it as a contact in your cell phone.

discover freezeitIf you are a Discover customer you can simply use Freeze ItSM an on/off switch that you can access on your mobile app and online to prevent new purchases, cash advances and balance transfers in seconds if you misplace your card.

Another option is to use the internet to search for the phone number you need, or to ask a friend or family member for the phone number if they have the same type of credit card.

Request a Hold or Account Freeze

Credit card companies act very quickly when you report a card lost or stolen. They will ask you about your last transaction and then put a hold on your account so nothing else goes through on your card. This will prevent a thief from using your credit card and racking up fraudulent charges.
Sometimes when you lose your credit card it’s gone for several hours, or even days, before you notice it. When this happens you still need to call the credit card company right away. As a Discover customer, the $0 fraud liability guarantee means you are never responsible for unauthorized transactions on your Discover card account. However, you must request an account freeze if your card is lost or stolen.

Document Your Calls

Occasionally mistakes occur and your card does not get cancelled or a hold does not get placed on your account. Whenever you report a card lost or stolen you should keep a written record of when you lost it, when you called the credit card company, and more.

It’s also a good idea to follow up with a written letter to your credit card company as soon as possible so they also have a written record of the activity on your account and they have written confirmation that you want your account frozen or cancelled. If you send a written letter, be sure to follow up to make sure it reached them.

Of course, if you simply use Discover Freeze ItSM, you can immediately verify the account freeze you have requested via your mobile device.
Hopefully you’ll never have to deal with the loss of your wallet or credit card, but chances are it will happen to you at some point in your life. At least with these tips you’ll know exactly what to do when you lose your credit card.

This post was created as part of the Discover partnership program.

Originally posted 2015-06-19 10:36:51.