Credit Cards And Personal Budgeting
When you apply for and receive a credit card, you will want to take the time to create a detailed budget for your family's finances. Without a budget, and without carefully planning the credit card expenses, you could fall into the credit trap that many individuals have found themselves in. Swimming in a sea of debt that they have no way of getting out of. Having a credit card is a wonderful way to ensure that you have access to funds in the event of an emergency, or for use when traveling to eliminate the need for carrying cash on your person. As long as you keep the card for the purposes outlined in your personal budget, you will have no difficulty maintaining your credit card balance, making payments on time and using the credit card to it's fullest financial capacity. If you start using the credit card as if it was your personal debit card, you will likely find yourself in financial trouble.
Personal Budgeting Tips & Tricks
First, and most importantly, never spend more money than you can actually afford. This is easier said than done of course, especially when you include credit cards in the equation. It's very easy to buy now, with the intent of paying later, only to find out when later comes you still don't have the money! Using credit cards wisely however, can save you finance charges and enable you to make purchases and build your credit by making monthly payments in full and on time.
If you already have a credit card (or two) with balances, you should consider shopping around for credit cards that are offering promotional rates. Many companies will periodically offer a 0% balance transfer rate for all new customers who apply for and obtain their credit cards. Transferring what you owe from one card to another can help you save on interest and help you pay down your debt faster. This is a smart way to use credit cards!
Understand your credit card limit. Just because your credit card has a limit of $5,000 does not mean that you should spend that all at once! Ideally, a credit card should be used with the intent of the individual paying the balance in full at the end of each month. This will avoid finance fees, interest charges and allow you to make purchases on your credit card that are the same as paying with cash. As soon as you allow a balance to carry over from one month to the next, you are going to start seeing your account balance increase, instead of decreasing with your payments, thanks to high interest rates and finance charges on purchases.
When determining how much money you have available for purchases, you should first make a list of all of your outgoing expenses each month. Be sure to plan for incidentals and things that don't occur regularly- such as oil changes and car tune-ups. Also, consider your personal savings a monthly expense. (Just because you don't pay them monthly doesn't mean you shouldn't plan for them monthly!) Then, determine your monthly income. Subtract your expenses from your income to see what you have left over, and this should be your flexible spending amount in your budget. Even if you have access to a credit card, you should never spend more on a purchase than this "flexible" money. This will keep you from getting into serious financial trouble.
When you take the time to create a budget and follow it you are a responsible credit card user who will likely not end up swallowed by the dreaded debt monster!
Finance Credit Counseling
Not only is credit counseling now a requirement when filing bankruptcy thanks to the new laws set forth in October of 2005, but it is also a good idea for those who find that they are swimming in a river of debt without the proverbial paddle. When you are in financial danger such as this credit counseling could be a great option and an alternative to filing for bankruptcy. With the many different kinds of credit counseling companies that are available to you, it may be hard to differentiate between the good, the bad, and the ugly. There are things you should be especially aware of and look for in any credit counseling company, there are some that are reputable, experienced, and only want the best for you. However, on the other end of that coin there are those that only exist to make life worse for you.
Credit counseling can help you eliminate the amount of calls you receive from various collection agencies, additionally they are specifically in place for those who have trouble in keeping up with their monthly payments. What a credit counselor will help you do is counsel you in creating a budget that will help you in keeping up with all your bills, household necessities, and living expenses. They will also work with you in arranging a type of payment plan that works well with your income and abilities to pay. It is important to note that in general credit counseling will only work with you on loans and credit cards that are unsecured. If you have trouble with your secured loans (such as your mortgage payments) credit counseling can provide you with advice on how you can deal with this situation.
Credit Counseling companies work closely with lenders that you have and negotiate acceptable payment arrangements for both the lender and the borrower. They will then help you create a budget that will allow you to afford the payments as well as other living expenses. It is important to strictly adhere to this budget in order to bring yourself out of your vast debt and avoid further collections, court proceedings, repossession, or bankruptcy. The budget may result in you giving up luxuries for the time being, however, eating a home instead of at a restaurant or giving up your shopping sprees, could prove to be far more beneficial in the long run than it would be finding yourself in such a financial situation that you cannot bring yourself out of.
Credit Reporting And Your Bottom Line
If you have ever been issued a credit card, received a personal loan, obtained a mortgage or held a job, chances are someone is keeping a file on you. This file contains information on how you pay your bills, whether or not you've been sued, and if you've filed for bankruptcy. Companies that gather and sell this information are called Consumer Reporting Agencies, or CRAs. The three most common are Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.
What's in a credit report
Congress passed the Fair Credit Reporting Act requiring CRAs to provide correct and complete information to businesses to use in evaluating your applications for credit, employment or insurance. Credit reports are only provided to those with a legitimate business need. CRAs generally report unfavorable information for a period of seven years. Exceptions include bankruptcy information, which can be reported for ten years, and information concerning a lawsuit or judgment against you, which can be reported for seven years or until the statute of limitations runs out, whichever is longer.
When applying for a job with a salary of more than $20,000 or for more than $50,000 worth of credit or life insurance, there is no time limitation for reporting credit information.
Know what's in your credit report
If you request it, the CRA is required to tell you about the information in your report and, in most cases, the sources of that information. You also have the right to be told the name of anyone who received a report on you in the past six months. If you filed an application for credit and it was denied based upon information supplied by a CRA, you can request a free report within 30 days of receiving the denial. If you have not recently received a denial but still wish to receive a report, you may be charged a reasonable fee. To receive a copy of your report, contact:
P.O. Box 2002
Allen, TX 75013
P.O. Box 740241
Atlanta, GA 30374-024
Two Baldwin Place
1510 Chester Pike
Crum Lynne, PA 19022
Fixing Credit Report Errors
If you find inaccurate or incomplete information in your credit report, notify the CRA immediately. They are required to re-investigate the items in question. If the new investigation reveals an error, a corrected version must be sent, at your request, to anyone who received your report in the past six months. If the new investigation doesn't resolve your dispute, request that the CRA include your version or a summary of your version of the disputed information in your file and in future reports. There is no charge for this service if it is requested within 30 days after you receive notice of your application denial.
Fixing a Poor Credit History
Unfortunately, there are no quick or easy cures for a poor credit history. Time is the only thing that will repair your credit report. There is a brisk business among so-called "credit repair" companies which charge from $50 to more than $1,000 to "fix" your credit report. The only information in your credit report that can be changed are items that are actually wrong. If that's the case, you can fix the errors yourself for free.
While only time can fix a poor credit history, there are some organizations that may be able to help if you find yourself confronted by overwhelming money problems. Many of these problems arise from inflation, overuse of credit, faulty planning or a lack of money management. For example, a credit counseling corporation may be an option. These non-profit corporations offer specialized counseling services to over-indebted consumers and handle their money as their agent. The corporations may charge a nominal fee for services provided. A credit counseling corporation is not a lending institution, charity, government or legal institution.
Why Paying Your Income Taxes With A Credit Card Is A Rip Off
If you own your own business or have not been deducting enough from your paychecks each week, you will probably owe some income taxes when tax time rolls around. This is never fun, and if you do not have the money in your checking account right now, you might be tempted to pay the taxes with your credit card. A word of advice: don't.
When you owe income tax to the federal government or the state government, they are aware that the amount you owe may be over the amount you have access to at the moment. They prepare for this eventuality by allowing tax payers to file for an extension to pay their debt. You can arrange for a payment plan to be in effect for the total amount.
You will of course pay interest on the amount that you are putting off, but the interest rate that the government charges is relatively low. With state governments this number will vary, so check with your local state tax office. But for the federal government, the current rate of interest on unpaid taxes is seven percent, which is the federal short-term rate plus three percent.
Now consider your credit card. Most credit cards carry an interest rate of anywhere from twelve to twenty-one percent. If you owe taxes that you can't pay, you probably have a higher interest rate credit card. This means that whatever you pay in a lump sum to the government, you will be financing with your credit card company at the interest rate you pay for your regular purchases. If this is fifteen to twenty percent, you will end up paying much more for your taxes.
In the end, it pays to work within the government's system of extensions and take their lower interest rate on the amount of your tax you cannot pay yet. If the payment play that they offer you is still too steep for you to pay each month, then call the hotline number provided on the offer and request another plan be arranged. You may need to show proof of your income to do this, but it will be worth it so you don't default on the unpaid taxes.
How To Deal With Credit Card Application
Nowadays, many services have been improved to lessen the number of step for processing them and make it more convenient for consumers. Credit card business is also developed to satisfy customers' need. Credit card applicants generally should not worry if they comply with all the requirements set by their card issuer. Some of the things that are checked include income ranges, age and current addresses. For potential owners who have moved, they must make sure that they indicate correct information on their previous place of residence, including when and how long they stayed at their former address.
Individuals who want no fuss credit card applications should expect to have their credit ratings given a thorough review. This review will be conducted by issuers to establish if the applicant poses any risk. Such a check will include the individual's ability to remain consistent with monthly rental payments or repayments and mortgage or loan profiles. An applicant with a history of financial troubles will have problems getting their applications processed, as this issue will have an impact on their credit rating.
There are many details that the credit card providers have to check such as delayed payments on recent or previous cards, utility bills or loans, and the number of rejected applications, if any. Companies can also probe deeper to the extent that they check the voter electoral register to verify an applicant's address and even the county court to find any judgments against or records on file.
Credit card applicants should realize that low interest providers are more likely to impose a higher number of restrictions and possibly accept only individuals with perfect credit histories. In such cases, the more likely option is for an applicant to consider cards with higher interest rates.
Since borrowing money entails charges, a credit card applicant should make an exhaustive review of all terms and conditions related to their application, preferably across different credit or charge cards. Among the key terms potential card owners must consider are the annual percentage rate, the free or grace period, transaction and annual fees, and adjusted and previous balances.
To verify that the applicant has provided correct information, the credit card providers will sometimes mail a credit card application to their home. Credit card applications are now more convenient than ever, they can be applied for by telephone and internet-based processing.
It is important to know that credit card applicants should always exercise extreme caution when providing their social security number and other personal information during the application process.
Student Credit Card Manage And Build Credit
The use of credit cards by students is at an all time high, and each year more and more students and young people are signing up to use credit cards. The alarming increase in these numbers has generated a lot of concern from various sources about the easy availability of credit cards and the potential pitfalls of irresponsible credit card use. But there is significant benefit that student credit cards can offer, including the opportunity for young cardholders to learn how to manage and build credit.
An alarming percentage of students and young people are already more than $10,000 in credit card debt and to complicate things even further, many of these students have yet to start earning a stable income. Financial responsibility is something that has to be taught at home, but most parents do not have the time nor the patience required to adequately guide their children about the vagaries and responsibilities of using and managing credit wisely.
The cornerstone of proper personal financial planning is living well within your means. But peer pressure plays a major role in a student's life and, for young people in particular, it is extremely difficult to ignore the latest trends. Easy access to student credit cards is part of the problem for students trying to establish and build credit, and it has become very difficult to avoid credit card offers that allow students to complete a "brief" application form and obtain a credit card in such a short amount of time.
But wise use of these credit cards can help those students who might otherwise struggle to pay their college fees and meet their day to day expenses as well as those who are just looking to get an early start on building their credit. Credit card issuers have recognized the market opportunity and have been offering increasingly competitive student credit card offers everyday.
Another distinct advantage of having a student credit card is that it helps in starting the process of building a good credit history. Starting to build credit early will go a long way for young people trying to establish a financial track record prior to that first car or first home purchase.
A highly recommended alternative of an unsecured student credit card is a debit or prepaid card with a credit limit. Money for purchases made on this card is just deducted from existing funds deposited in the student's account and when the spending reaches the limit, the student simply is not allowed to make any more purchases.
Before you decide to get a student credit card, you should pay special attention to any fees, exclusions and restrictions that might limit the use of the card. Also, lookout for the rewards they are offering and then compare the overall costs that you have to bear. Also, don't forget to check for balance transfer transaction fees, blackout dates on rewards offers or for any restrictions or limitations which will fall under the terms and conditions.
To any lender, credit bureaus are the best place to check out the credit worthiness of any borrower. If you have borrowed money from lenders, your loan records will definitely find place in credit bureaus. The bureaus maintain credit reports of all the borrowers. The mortgage brokers, credit card companies and employers evaluate the credit worthiness of the applicants with those credit reports. Lending firms get to know about your credit status through these reports. The reports are vital for both lenders and borrowers.
If you want to get a loan at the best interest rate or buy a home, first you have to improve your credit reports. Lenders have a definite liking for those borrowers who enjoy a healthy credit status. Those with a poor credit rating will have to improve their credit status to meet the requirements. There is a golden rule to maintain decent credit status - you have to pay your interest on time to avoid any penalty. If you miss any payments, you need to keep your lenders informed about the delay so that the delay doesn't have an adverse effect on your credit report. It's not always possible for everyone to be punctual while repaying loans. If you discuss the issue with your lenders, you may get a reprieve from paying late charges. Not only that, but lenders won't inform the payment failure to the credit bureaus.
That's how you will be able to maintain a decent credit status. Automobile loans, mortgages etc. have a great influence on your credit scores and ratings. So, you must try to pay those loans always on time. If you are down with debt, you should start paying off your debts immediately. Otherwise lenders will keep avoiding you due to poor credit rating. Credit bureaus won't listen to you if you fail to pay off your loan on time.
Prepaid Debit Cards Sometimes A Necessity But Very Effective
Prepaid debit cards are one of the more safe methods of building credit for a consumer, as well as one of the more safe methods of issuing credit for a bank. The basic commonality all prepaid cards have is that a deposit of some kind must be made by the person before the bank will grant them credit.
Card varieties differ in the amount of credit given based on the deposit, but the typical limit is 100% of the deposit. Over time, some issuing companies will permit the consumer leniency and increase the amount of credit given in proportion to the deposit.
Why, you may ask, is this necessary? Prepaid debit cards sound like a way to give your money to someone else before you spend it. From outside the perspective of the world of credit, yes, it does seem redundant. But take a look at this hypothetical situation, from the perspective of a consumer, and hopefully some light will be shed on the usefulness of prepaid debit cards.
Carl was living it up. He had a six-figure salary, a wife to make all other husbands jealous, a new Land Rover, and an upscale apartment. The thought of credit issues was laughable at this pristine moment in his life.
But something happened. Carl's luck began to turn. His beautiful wife, an amateur tennis fiend, was taking far too many lessons with her 25 year old Italian instructor, specifically at his private retreat where her cell phone curiously could not get reception. Carl's company hadn't made the mark for the quarter, and people at corporate were hunting heads. Carl's head, recently bald because of stress from the Mrs., must have stuck out, because he was the first one fired.
Then the divorce started, and while Carl was quite sure that he wasn't to blame for his wife's infidelity with someone half his age, she none the less made off with the car and apartment, and some serious alimony payments to come from Carl. Carl's credit score plummeted as he defaulted on his bills. He was left a broken, unemployed, bald man who could never watch tennis again.
When things leveled off years later, Carl wanted to rebuild his credit, though no credit card companies would accept him. He needed to find a way to transfer his cash into the world of credit, just so he could show that he'd make good on some payments.
As you can guess, Carl's answer is a prepaid debit card. He can show the bank that he's legitimate, in a way that only giving them cash can. The bank put credit on his card; Carl purchased Rogaine and a low-powered anti-depressant; and bingo, his credit began to return.
So, if you find yourself in such a situation, needing credit but inspiring no confidence from issuing companies, prepaid debit may be the way to go. Additionally, on a more serious note, pre-paid debit cards are increasingly used by those with relatively good credit as a method of controlling their spending. If there is not enough balance available for a charge, the charge will be denied. And there is no mandatory payment due at the end of the billing cycle.
Eliminate Credit Card Debt
At this time many people have come to represent a social status, in essence many people believe that by dragging out their credit card upon making a purchase, they somehow are signifying their status within society. Essentially most people make use of their credit cards for a variety of things without giving real thought to the implications that could happen in the future from doing so. Many people who carry credit cards, also have the enormous debt that goes along with it. It is said that an average family will carry more than seven thousand dollars in credit card debt alone and is being charged around one thousand dollars in interest alone on a yearly basis. The one thousand dollars that is spend on the interest, could be more useful in other areas such as savings, investments, or paying other bills, instead of essentially flushing it down the drain because you use the credit card for all purposes.
The best way to eliminate your debt made with credit cards is to simply cease in using them. If you carry more than one, you should choose the card that has an interest rate that is lower than the others and only use that one for emergencies. This card again should only be used in the event of an emergency. Another way to accomplish the elimination of credit card debt, is to begin to pay them off. Sit down and make a list of all the debts you have and the amount you have to pay on a monthly basis for each. You should begin by paying off the debt of the lowest amount first, once you have paid that one off. Take the same amount and begin to pay off the next one up and continue until you have paid them all off.
Another step you can take is to begin by paying off the credit card that maintains the highest interest first or take into consideration consolidating the debt you have by using a loan that carries low interest, such as a home loan. By using these tips in eliminating your credit card debt you could begin to take control of the financial aspects of your life, it is important that you completely understand that the use of your credit card on frivolous items, could result in financial peril.
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