Here’s a simple fact. Your credit score is one of the most valuable assets that you possess. If you are the one in 10 million that rolls around in cash and that doesn’t ever or won’t ever need to have credit, congratulations! But while the 1% bathes in their pile of cash, the rest of us need to watch our credit. You see, to be real, you can never take for granted your credit score. It is always a big part of your life even when you don’t think it is. I’ll explain.
To begin, your credit score is like your transcripts from school. It is a history, a report of your responsibility and track record of how you handle your finances just like your transcripts indicate your skills at academic endeavors. If you don’t have one, it is like applying for work and having no high school or college diploma. And if you do have one, it will follow you around either like a weight around your neck or like a life preserver to help make things safer and easier. A potential employer or landlord might check yours and it all has to do with what you have done, do, and will do! Continue reading
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When you go to the doctor, they check your vital signs like blood pressure and temperature to make sure you’re healthy. But what about the vital signs for your financial health? These numbers tell you if you’re financially healthy (or not!) and can give you goals to shoot for.
Over time I’ve learned the hard way that I have to go to the doctor and get checked out or else my health suffers. It’s the same with your money. If you don’t pay attention to your financial vital signs, you’ll be headed for disaster. Continue reading
Every April since 2003, the United States has recognized and celebrated National Financial Literacy Month. It was called for by a joint resolution in congress and is one path to educating the citizens of our country about the importance and real necessity of developing a working knowledge in mastering the language, principles, and actions of finance.
But nowhere is it more important to begin that education than with our youth. High school financial literacy is more important than ever before. There are many levels of education and responsibilities that kids come in contact with that can be the inspiration and key to their developing a full understanding of the principles of financial education. I recently read a book that I think can really help both student and parent in that quest. Continue reading
There’s a subject that annoys me to the core, and I’m willing to bet it’s a major source of frustration for you as well. I’m talking about those annoying fees you find these days on just about everything. Businesses are busy thinking up new and even more annoying ways to grab our money even now as I write this post.
Ordinarily, I don’t condemn anyone or any business from making money when they are providing a valuable product or service. But when it’s a blatant predatory move and often obscure charge or fee, I do draw the line. And so should you. By becoming aware of these annoying charges before they’re part of you bill, you’re taking the first step in defending your money. Continue reading
We all make money mistakes in our lives. I have, and what I try to do is to never make the same mistake twice. Being a man and working continuously for well over 40 years, I’ve had the chance to recoup my losses and make up for some of the money errors that might have cost me dearly now that I’m in retirement. But women, especially those who are married and are looking to raise a family, may not be so fortunate to recover from some of the same mistakes that men make for some very good reasons.
So in honor of Women’s Money Week, I’m going to look at some difficult situations and highlight the potential pitfalls that a woman may stumble over if she doesn’t deal with them early on. Time, which is often your friend when it comes to finance, can be your very best buddy if you take action sooner rather than later. Here’s what I’m talking about. Continue reading
Ten minutes isn’t really a very long time. It’s less time than it takes to play a quarter in a pro football game. You can listen to 2½ songs on the radio in 10 minutes. It’s even less time than it takes you to read your daily e-mails. In other words, it’s just a few minutes, but oh how great it is to have such an opportunity to increase your productivity, save money, build relationships, and move forward in that brief time period.
If you try some of these ideas, I think you’ll agree that these 10 minutes could wind up being the most productive 10 minutes of the day, starting today! Continue reading
Poems, songs, and proverbs have been written about time over the centuries. We talk about time every day, whether we are “saving” it, “spending” it, being “on time”, having “time off” or measuring it in some other way. After all is said and done, time is the only thing we all share and we never know exactly how much of it we will have in the end. The very last thing we should do is waste our time. It’s that important and precious, isn’t it?
In this blog I have written about some “time savers” over the past year or so. Today, I want to talk about the importance of time in a few of the ways that affect you, your family, and your finances. Continue reading
Maybe you’re in your twenties and you’ve been out and about enjoying life. You socialize with your friends most nights and you finally got that apartment you always wanted even though it cost just a little more than you wanted to pay. You have a job, but it’s not the one you really wanted. It’s a paycheck and some experience, but you really want something better. And now this…you realize that you just can’t pay all your expenses each month and you’re in big trouble! Trust me on this: you’re not alone. Many young people (and even not so young people) start out with the idea that everything will just fall into place once they’re on their own. They’re all about the fun of independence, their first apartment and job, and what seems to be a great adventure with sunshine and happiness ahead. But, the reality is you never had to manage your own money before. Mom and Dad probably helped you quite a bit and if a shortfall ever arose, well they put a bandaid on it with a loan or a gift. There’s nothing to be ashamed of here. It’s part of growing up and now that you are an adult, you need to figure it out on your own!
So you can’t pay your bills…what can you do? Continue reading
There may come a time when you face a situation when you need money that is above and beyond your emergency funds. We may all face them at some point, whether it’s a medical emergency, car or house situation, or perhaps something with the kids like a huge tuition bill or family issue you need to help solve. What can you do? There are several solutions, but today I’d like to address a common but often misunderstood one, the home equity line of credit, or HELOC.
First, let’s talk about home equity. The equity is the difference between what you owe on your home to pay off any mortgage and the current market value of your home. For example: Continue reading
Credit, in the form of credit cards, is something most of us want, need, and use almost every week of our adult lives. Learning how to use a credit card wisely helps us to save money in the long run and avoid the trap of ongoing debt. Many of us use credit cards for convenience, so that we can avoid carrying cash in our pockets for purchases like groceries, gas, and household items. This makes sense when done with responsibility, thought, and keeping your budget foremost in your mind. Many advisors say to pay cash for everything and avoid credit cards entirely. I disagree. Credit is important to have and protect, and to learn to use wisely.