What Do Credit Reports Mean To You?

Some people find themselves with a messy financial situation and therefore credit reports are not a pleasant topic. However, credit reports provide you with the facts. And even if the information is undesirable it can be like a helpful guide on your road to financial recovery. Being well informed is important and necessary information can be found in your credit report.

Those reports are maintained – at least in the U.S. – chiefly by the three major credit reporting agencies: Equifax (PO Box 740241, Atlanta, GA 30374; www.equifax.com), Experian (PO Box 2002, Allen TX 75013, www.experian.com) and TransUnion (PO Box 2000, Chester, PA 19022; www.transunion.com).

The reports contain a multi-year history of your credit cards, home loans and other debt. They also record any late payments that occurred and how late they were, 30-day past due, 60-day past due, etc. The reports will list any current and old address, and often your phone number and social security number.

Your credit report can be requested by almost all lending institutions, banks, mortgage lenders and credit card companies. Other entities and individuals can request your report in connection with legal proceedings. The credit agencies are committed to giving an accurate report. However, despite their best efforts errors do occur.

Errors are sometimes made in recording payments made to bring a past due balance current. At times your credit report will list loans as active or credit cards as open that you have closed out or paid off some time ago. There are many different computer systems operating out there that may not always transmit information one to another accurately or in a timely manner. That leads to reporting errors.

To be sure that your credit report has accurate information you must regularly review copies of the reports produced by the three reporting agencies. If you notice an error in your report send a letter to the agency explaining the error and include proof that it is in fact an error and ask the agency to make a correction in their database.

Everyone can receive one free copy of their credit report each year. You can request your credit report on line or by phone. If requesting your credit report via the internet you can visit annualcreditreport.com

On a more positive note, having the information at your fingertips allows you to develop a debt-free plan for your future. Understanding your past credit history is the first step in creating that plan.

When you receive your credit report review it carefully for any past due balances. Resolve these quickly paying off the smaller balances first and then move along to the larger balances until all past due balances have been cleared. In time you will be on your way to a cleaner credit report.


7 Tips For Saving Money

We all could use some help when it comes to saving money. That odd trip to the store for a sweater that results in a new wardrobe, or a trip to buy a new phone and we walk out with a phone, an answering machine, and a digital camera. These things happen, but adopting some frugal spending tips can make saving instead of impulse spending the norm.

Dont shop on payday. A freshly cashed check can start burning holes in pockets before money for the monthly bills and savings has been safely put away. Just because payday produces a large amount of cash, that doesnt mean that it should be spent in just any way. An uncontrolled day of shopping on payday may result in unpaid bills at the end of the month.

Dont shop for groceries when youre hungry. Buying food on an empty stomach is guaranteed to produce unnecessary spending; its an undeniable fact. Despite a well organized budget and a shopping list, hunger can take over and make you buy things you never normally would. Purchasing fast food on the way home from the store to squelch your hunger is another money trap.

Visit thrift stores and consignment shops. Many such stores are filled with great, quality clothing at awesomely discounted prices. Baby and toddler clothes are easy to find. Thrift store finds can replace hand-me-downs for children as well. With a small investment of time and effort, expensive brand name clothes can often be found at a much lower price than normal.

Buy in bulk only if it is something that you need. While buying in bulk can be one way to save money, it is not true in every situation. Simply bringing a calculator with you to the store to check unit prices will help you decide which bulk purchases are really going to save you money. Becoming a member at a shopping warehouse is a good idea if you buy in bulk on a regular basis.

Ask for a rain check. Rain checks can aid your efforts to save money when stores run out of sale items. Even though some stores do not issue rain checks for all products on sale, dont let that deter you from asking for one. Dont buy something at full price without at least inquiring about a rain check first. Most sale prices have a limit, so buy as much as possible to save the most money.

Bargain shop when looking for services. Call around to several local companies and get estimates before making a decision about which to go with. Remember that businesses have different policies and they dont always charge the same price for their services. Finding out how much each company charges will help you to get the best price.

Purchase gifts throughout the year. Buying gifts year round instead of only at birthdays, holidays, and other special occasions will actually save you money. You can store such presents at home and always be ready when the time comes to give gifts. Great deals can be found by buying next years Christmas gifts when prices are super low during this years after Christmas sale.

A little bit of planning and effort can turn into big savings if you put these frugal spending tips into practice and make them regular spending habits.


Discipline Yourself to Spend Less

No one wants to go into debt. We try to avoid it if we can, but we fall into the traps of credit cards and delayed payment specials so easily. Curbing our spending requires discipline and an honest effort.

We have to learn to live within our means. This does not mean just having enough money to pay our bills- it means much more, such as having money in a savings account, and emergency money put away just in case.

Living paycheck to paycheck can be dangerous, especially if you have a family. Children get sick; cars break down. Taking money from the bills is not a wise decision, but if you are in a bind, you do what you have to do. The way to break this cycle is to spend less money each month.

Everyone wants to know how to do that. Discipline begins with a plan. A sound financial plan begins with a family budget. The first budget will be the hardest to develop, but once you get the hang of it, it won’t be so time-consuming the next time.

Budgets are great, but if you don’t use them properly, they aren’t useful. You must keep yourself accountable to someone and have them make sure you are sticking to it. It needs to be someone who isn’t afraid to say something if they see you blowing the budget.

Specialists in behavior say it takes about 2 weeks to make or break a habit. At the beginning of the month, try to start your new budget. If you usually eat out for lunch, try preparing your lunch for a month. Remember to include items for lunch on your grocery list and to pack your lunch the night before work.

Spending less requires changes in other areas besides the finances. Lunches for the kids and yourself can be fixed at night so no one forgets in the morning. Thaw out a meat for dinner in the morning so there is no excuse to eat out. Leave notes on the bathroom mirror and the refrigerator if you have to until you get the hang of the new way of doing things.

Get out of the habit of pulling out your checks or credit card whenever someone in your household wants something. You need to decide if that item is necessary. You might find with some searching that you already have that item. Keep your house well organized so you can actually find items, rather than needing to go out and find things you misplace.

Don’t alter your new spending habits when you get a raise at work or a holiday bonus. Treat the extra money as a way to save more. Don’t include it in the monthly budget. Simply take the cash and put it in the savings account.

You won’t be able to change your spending habits over night. It takes some time to change an over-shopper into a frugal one, but it can be done with some work.


Overspending: An All Too Common Financial Mistake

Have you ever written a check for something that you knew you didn’t have the money for? People do that more than you think. They play the game of “robbing Peter to pay Paul”. This is a common practice that can lead to debt and bad money management.

When you take a job, you are given a salary. The salary only changes if you get a promotion. For those that work an hourly wage, the amount of your check changes if you work more or less hours each week. Despite our paychecks being fairly consistent, people continue to spend more money than they earn.

One cause of this is the “buy now and pay later” trap. Knowing that the first payment is two years away gives consumers a false sense of security. They may have walked into the store to purchase a bed, and end up walking out with the entire bedroom set because they don’t have to make payments until 2009!

Keep in mind, though, that if you could not afford to buy the bed you wanted to look for, buying even more expensive bedroom furniture really does not make a lot of sense. Not having to pay for two years is no guarantee that you will have the money you need to pay for your furniture then either.

Credit cards can trick inexperienced card holders as well. Some people think that, although they don’t have the money they need to make a certain purchase at the moment, they will have it by the time their monthly credit card statement arrives. Without planning such expenses into the budget, however, it will be very difficult to come up with the money at the end of the month. This could lead to leaving a running balance on your credit card that will incur interest rates until it is paid off.

We have to learn to be financially responsible or the debt situation will worsen. More people will file for bankruptcy or pay credit counselors to fix the debt problem. While these options are available to help those who have gotten deep into debt find their way out, far too few people take advantage of the help that is offered.

For some, having at least some kind of debt has become a way to fit in with others, even being considered as some sort of status symbol by some. Many individuals think that, so long as they are always able to pay their minimum monthly payment on credit cards, they can be in debt without problems. This means, however, that they will end up spending more in the long run because of interest rates.

Overspending will be a problem as long as there are available sources of credit. Future consumers can be affected by today’s buying habits, since they are learning from this generation’s actions. It is important to think about just what it is that they are being taught.


Bankruptcy Laws Protect Borrowers From Harassment By Creditors

The phone rings and you are overcome with a feeling dread. Is it another creditor calling you again demanding payment?

For many people this is an everyday occurrence. But it doesnt have to be. If you are in financial trouble and there seems to be no way out, bankruptcy may be the answer. Although it may be a difficult decision to come to, filing bankruptcy can put an end to those demanding phone calls from creditors.

Laws in Place to Protect Borrowers

It can be very frustrating not being able to pay back debts. However, many people find themselves in this predicament where they have borrowed more money, or ran up more credit than they can afford to pay back. And once you get behind on bills, the creditors are relentless and call morning, noon and night demanding payment. You may make promises to pay and then find there is just never enough money to make good on those promises. Once your back is against the wall and you are forced to file for bankruptcy, the harassing phone calls should stop.

Before you file for bankruptcy it is important to find out what the bankruptcy laws are when it comes to creditors. The bankruptcy laws were designed to provide protection for you the consumer against the continued harassment from creditors.

According to the bankruptcy laws, after the borrower has filed for bankruptcy the creditors are not allowed to contact the borrower. However, some creditors plead ignorance of the law and keep on calling.

If the harassment from creditors continues, you may need to seek the legal help of an experienced attorney who knows the bankruptcy laws. This attorney can contact these offending creditors and put a stop to the threatening calls and mail. Although hiring an attorney may cost you some cash, it will provide you with some much-needed relief from creditors.

Once you have an attorney on your side they not only can put an end to harassment from creditors but they can also help walk you through the tangled web of the bankruptcy process. Although filing bankruptcy may not have been a personal goal of yours, in a tight situation it can provide you with some relief and having an experienced attorney can help ease you through the process. Hopefully in the end, you will be happy to answer the phone again.