Online banking is gaining some new players. On March 17, Facebook Inc. announced plans to incorporate a free money transfer feature in their Messenger app. Billed as a “more convenient and secure way to send or receive money between friends,” the feature allows users to link debit accounts to their Facebook pages and send money to friends with a few clicks. Facebook isn’t alone in their foray into finance. Apple, Google, Samsung and Snapchat are among the top brands now offering money transfer options to their customers. As technology advances in the name of convenience, it’s important to consider security before joining the pack. In 2014, the U.S. experienced 783 data breaches and millions of personal identity theft cases. Avoid these consequences by following a few banking best practices. Ask yourself: continue reading “Security 101: Should I Send Money Online?” »
Oftentimes, overspending is a gradual process. Your utility bills are a little high, you spent too much on entertainment last month, your car broke down, etc. The weight of your actions may not be obvious until you see the consequences on a bank statement. If you’re struggling to get back on track, follow the steps below. A few fixes could mean the difference between stability and disaster.
Step #1: Identify the culprits. Unless you are keeping up with the Joneses, overspending is usually limited to one or two areas. If you’ve gone off-budget lately, audit your bank statements to identify the culprits. Divide your spending into two categories. For example:
Paying bills is a hassle, but it’s a necessary part of life. You may think there’s no “right” time to pay as long as you meet the due date, but think again. Tackling bills early can yield significant benefits to your bank account and credit score. By honing your payment strategy, you’ll:
Save money on interest. Scenario: You have $5,400 in private student loans. The interest rate is 7.8 percent and accrues at a daily rate of $1.15. Your bill is due on the 15th, but you pay on the 1st, saving yourself $16.10. By the end of the year, you’ve saved nearly $200 in interest charges. Apply this logic to every interest-burdened account. Consult your contract to calculate daily accruals. With the right strategy, paying early could save you thousands each year.
Avoid late fees and penalties. If you’re guilty of the occasional late payment, you’ve probably paid a few fees and penalties. In addition to hurting your bank account, these consequences can cause long-term damage to your creditworthiness. Although one citation won’t cause major damage, two or three could lower your score and close the door to new opportunities. The solution is simple: If you have the cash, pay your bills early. Don’t waste time and money on bad behavior.
Reduce stress. A simple but significant benefit of early payment is stress reduction. Whether you’re forgetful or just busy, sticking to a schedule allows you peace of mind each month. Why burden yourself with unnecessary problems? Consult your budget and post reminders in your phone, email or at-home calendar. Establishing positive habits is sure to help your stress levels.
Qualify for discounts. While it’s not guaranteed, many utility companies offer discounts to customers who pay their bills 10+ days before they’re due. Contact your electric, gas water, sewer and trash providers to gather info on their policies. Why miss an opportunity to save money?
Encourage credit health. Payment history accounts for 35 percent of your credit score. Paying bills early means establishing a long and healthy history. It also means an instant reduction in your credit utilization ratio, or the amount you owe versus your total credit limit. This factor accounts for 30 percent of your credit score. In total, paying your bills early could have a positive effect on 65 percent of credit score. With math like this, you can’t afford to wait. Make the right choice.
How many of us can say that we’ve worked at the same place for 38 years? Or 42 years? Or even 22 years? These days people are hopping around from job to job, and by the way, not only do we regard the places we work as dispensable, they regard us as dispensable too. How many friends have you had, maybe you’ve had that situation where you’re suddenly put out of a job, unexpectedly. What does that do to your credit? It’s another situation that’s unexpected and, by the way, you might have been someone who pays their bills on time for years and years and years and suddenly a company cuts back, no loyalty. It’s just “I’m sorry, we have to let you go.” And what happens? While you’re looking for a job, if you’re lucky enough to get one fairly quickly, you’re gonna have possibly a few months of slow credit. And unfortunately the credit report isn’t very forgiving.
Daylight Savings Time began Sunday, March 8 this year, springing our clocks forward by an hour. Although losing 60 minutes isn’t a drastic change, many will feel the time shift for the next week. If this sounds familiar, you’re probably in the midst of confronting personal stress. Struggling with money and credit can seem endless, like there’s never enough time to focus on the essentials. If you feel this way, implement the following tips into your life. They will help you make the most of your hours. continue reading “Daylight Savings Time: How to Make Your Hours Count” »
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