Archive for 'Financial Planning' Category


New credit score rules: Will you benefit?

Published 8/29/14

New credit score rules: Will you benefit? By Peter Andrew

If your credit score's less than perfect, this could be the most cheerful thing you're going to read all day. That's because FICO, the company whose scoring systems are used in 90 percent of all lending decisions, and two of the three major credit bureaus are making changes that might give your score a boost -- without you having to lift a finger.

In other words, one morning soon, you could wake up with a significantly better credit score, simply because of the way these scores are tallied.

FICO Score 9: the best sequel ever?

In August, FICO announced that it was launching a new version of its credit scoring system. And FICO Score 9 includes some big changes that could save you money the next time you borrow.

The first affects those who have medical collections on their reports. Up until now, these have had the same negative impact on scores as all other debts. But they're set to be counted differently. And the company estimates that the median impact on its 300 to 850 scale for those who have medical collections as the only major negative references on their reports should be a score boost of 25 points.

Others who might benefit include those with "thin files."

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3 simple steps for building financial independence

Published 7/3/14

3 simple steps for building financial independence By Georgie Miller

Every July 4, people celebrate our nation's independence by going camping, watching a fireworks display or grilling some burgers. Sounds like fun! Less fun, however, is living a life shackled to your debt. If you're interested in achieving financial independence, here are some tips to get you started.

1. Take a serious look at your spending

Before you can create a meaningful budget, you have to know where your money is going. How much are your monthly bills? When are they due? You may want to note which bills are optional (like cable or a gym membership) and which are not (like your mortgage or your student loan payments).

In addition to gathering information about your bills, it's also important to track your discretionary spending.

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Ready for financial adulthood? Learn this skill now

Published 6/9/14

Ready for financial adulthood? Learn this skill now By Justin Boyle

I'll just come out and say it: I did not make smart financial decisions when I was 20 years old. The things I wanted were ill-considered and the things I bought were absurd.

But as time passed, I did eventually learn to look after my money. Household budgeting -- one of the most basic principles of money management -- turned out to be so helpful that I wished I'd figured out sooner how easy it was.

Here are a couple of the world's simplest ways to get a handle on your everyday spending, in case you or someone you know -- perhaps a new graduate? -- could use some help with this fundamental money skill.

Sort your spending

Studies have shown that the average American adult has three or four credit accounts open at any given time. If that sounds like you, there's a way you can sort out your monthly spending that might also help you get a little extra value out of all those credit cards.

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Downward dog, downward debt: Building your financial flexibility

Published 6/4/14

Downward dog, downward debt: Building your financial flexibility By Georgie Miller

I love yoga, so when I think of the word flexible I tend to think of some of the asanas I can't do (but aspire to!). However, there's more to flexibility than limber muscles. Flexibility is also one of the key concepts in personal finance.

Ideally, your financial flexibility should allow you to handle any money-related issue that comes your way with a minimum of panic or missed payments. Just how can you accomplish this? Begin with these simple steps.

1. Start an emergency fund

No, a credit card is not an emergency fund. While zero percent credit card offers may be a good idea for balance transfers and debt payoff, adding to your debt load is never a good strategy. By starting an emergency fund while times are good, the money will be there when disaster strikes. You want the funds to be accessible in case you need them. However, you probably don't want them to be too accessible or you'll be tempted to spend the money on something frivolous.

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Hey, baby. How's your college fund?

Published 6/2/14

Hey, baby. How's your college fund? By Peter Andrew

You have a newborn baby! Congratulations. Welcome to years of sleep deprivation, decades of horrific expense and a lifetime of being petrified that something bad is going to happen to your impossibly precious offspring. Most parents envy their childless friends' clear, bag-free eyes, relative wealth and carefree existences. But almost none would swap places for the tiniest fraction of a millisecond.

Anyway, there you are, up to your ears in diapers and cooing relations, while the laundry piles up, the housework is forgotten and all you can think about is how much you need to sleep. What better time is there to ponder your baby's college fund?

Starting early pays

Unfortunately, there is no better time. A couple of years ago, The New York Times did some calculations and found that, assuming continuing inflation in college costs of just 4 percent a year, an institution that currently charges $60,000 a year could be charging more than double that by the time your baby gets to enroll. That's comes out at a cool half-million dollars for four years.

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Want a raise? Here's how to give yourself one

Published 5/16/14

Want a raise? Here's how to give yourself one By Holly Johnson

The latest Survey of Consumer Expectations from the New York Fed predicted that American's wages will rise an average of 2.4 percent over the next year. Unfortunately, prices have risen 2 percent in the last 12 months, spiking 0.3 percent in April alone -- the highest monthly rate of inflation so far in 2014.

So let's face it: Until wage increases climb higher, rising prices could keep American wages effectively flat for the foreseeable future. That's the bad news.

The good news is, you don't have to wait for the economy to turn around to give yourself a big, fat raise. In fact, simply cutting your spending can accomplish the same thing by freeing up extra cash for savings, investments or that vacation you've been dreaming of. You cannot control the labor market, rising inflation or the rest of the economy, but you do have control over how you actually spend your hard-earned paycheck. If you want truly want a raise and believe you deserve it, it might be time to take matters into your own hands.

This type of raise isn't the kind you ask your boss for. It's the kind you take for yourself -- simply by reducing your spending and keeping the difference. Want to cut your spending and earn an effective raise in the process? Here's how to do it in five steps:

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