When consumers have no credit of their own, a family member or good friend who has established credit can really help the consumer out by adding the consumer as an Authorized User on their existing accounts.

These can raise the score as high as 40 points to the credit score.

With an Authorized User account showing on the consumer’s credit report, he or she automatically gets the benefit of a positive account with a long-established relationship, good payment history, and hopefully a good utilization on the card.

The owner of the account has to ask their creditor these things:

  1. If the company actively reports to all 3 Credit Reporting Agencies.
  2. If the company actively reports Authorized User accounts.

The owner’s account must meet these criteria:

  1. Long established a relationship with the creditor, it would be nice if the account was more than 10 years old.
  2. Perfect payment history, the owner has never been late on the account.
  3. Good utilization, meaning that the balance on the card is either zero balance or below 30% of the overall credit limit.

Responsibilities of the Authorized User being added to the account:

  1. This is not your card, the family member or friend is doing you a favor. Give the extra card mailed to you back to the owner. You don’t want to use the card and risk incurring debt that can’t be paid, thus putting the owner of the account in a tough spot, having to come up with the money out of their pocket to cover the debt. It is not worth losing a friendship or a falling out with a family member. The consumer is not responsible for the debt, so the lender would solely be trying to collect unpaid balances from the owner of the account.
  2. The consumer only needs to be actively added to the account long enough to establish his or her own credit, once that is accomplished – the consumer needs to contact the owner of the card and ask them to remove them from the account. The lender will update the Credit Reporting Agency that the consumer’s relationship to the account has been terminated. This will not cause the account to be removed, just updated as terminated.
  3. Termination of the relationship is for the consumer’s own good, it is better to be removed while the account is in good standing. Then to hold on to it and risk later that the owner of the account defaults. This will affect the consumer’s credit score. The consumer can dispute with the Credit Reporting Agency that they want the account removed because they are not the account holder, but it will be too late as far as the score is concerned.

There has been in the recent years talk from the Credit Industry about severing the benefits of Authorized User accounts from contributing to the consumer’s credit score.

As of yet, I have not heard of this policy taking effect, but now some banks have decided not to report Authorized User accounts, so it is important to check with the lender before going forward to be added on one of these as an Authorized User.

Remember just be careful, respect the owner of the account and remove once the account is no longer needed.

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Although you may never have to take action to remove negative information from your credit report, you should also be aware that errors do happen from time to time.

If you ever discover an item that needs correcting, you will want to be armed with the advantage that only preparation beforehand can provide.

This is necessary for your financial well-being because these mistakes are often uncovered for the first time when people make a major purchase, such as taking out a mortgage, applying for a personal loan, or starting a new business.

Where errors can be found

– Obtain your credit reports from the three major reporting agencies (Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion) and look carefully for any inaccuracies and negative records that could lower your credit score.

Even though records of your loan and credit applications will stay on your credit report for a year or two, requesting this information yourself will not cause this damaging type of inquiry, and you should feel free to do this when the need arises.

– Look for items on your credit report (collections, bankruptcy, tax liens, charge-offs, judgments. closed negative accounts and repossessions), if any, that have now expired and should have been removed automatically.

At the same time, you can correct charges made by someone else in your name, any data errors that you discover, and records that actually belong to another person’s report.

What you can do

– If you are certain that you have found some kind of error in your credit report, calm down, focus on the facts, compose a “letter of dispute” to the Dispute Investigation Department of the credit reporting agency in question, and keep a copy for yourself.

This is the first step in having the related information investigated and the errors corrected in your report. (This process will work with TransUnion and Equifax, but Experian only accepts such requests online.)

– To strengthen your case, include as much background information and written proof of the facts as you can because the credit bureaus are free to ignore any requests that appear to be without merit.

– By law, they must finish their investigation of your dispute within 30 days and correct your report as needed. Once they have done this, they will inform you of the outcome and provide details as well.

If you don’t succeed in resolving a dispute with your initial request, you are also free to submit the disputed item again if you can provide additional documentation to back up your claim.

– As another means of solving such a problem, you can also deal directly with the creditor that forwarded the data to the credit bureau.

This maybe your best option, because once that creditor has the correct information that you supplied, they can notify all three credit bureaus, and their word will be more convincing than yours as a private individual.

Avoiding a new problem

While you can’t be certain that you will get a speedy response from any credit bureau, don’t become impatient and resort to contacting some expensive “credit repair” company for assistance.

They have no more authority than you do in this area, and you will be receiving second-hand information whenever they report to you.

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When you decide to open a new checking or savings account, how do you decide which bank to go with? What about money market accounts? Credit cards? If you aren’t running a thorough background check on a bank you’re considering, you could be putting your money in the wrong hands. A better idea is to check your bank’s credit rating to make sure it’s worthy of your cash.

Although the FDIC and other government organizations will not share your bank’s credit rating with consumers, it is easy enough to run a background check. Just as a credit card company would do if you were applying for a new card, you should check up on what your bank has been doing since its inception. One of the most valuable resources for this activity is the Safe & Sound program from Bankrate.

Safe & Sound is a system for allowing consumers to check their bank’s credit rating. All you have to do is select what type of financial institution you want to research (bank or credit union, for example), then search for the particular bank you are interested in. It allows you to search based on the institution’s name, state, zip code, asset size or rating, depending on your needs.

When you view that bank’s credit rating, you’ll find a variety of information, including their location and telephone number. It provides data such as net profit/loss, deposits, equity, asset size, and earnings rating. Each financial institution is issued a comprehensive rating from one to five stars, five being the best and one being the worst.

Of course, Safe & Sound isn’t the only way you can check your bank’s credit rating. You can also visit Bauer Financial to view their rating system for banks and credit unions. Here, financial institutions are also given a score of one to five stars, and you can choose from five different financial reports to understand the bank’s credit rating.

The difference, of course, is that Bauer Financial requires you to pay to view more than just a bank’s credit rating (such as the detailed reports), while Safe & Sound is free. Nevertheless, I’ve discovered that many banks have different credit ratings on each of the sites. For example, Bank of Texas gets only one star at Safe & Sound, while Bauer gives it 3.5 stars.

If you aren’t interested in viewing a bank’s entire credit rating, you can also look at the complaints filed on the Better Business Bureau. Rather than learning the financial aspects of the bank, you’ll learn how customers view the service given by different financial institutions. This in itself can be illuminating.

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Estimates place the additional spending in the family of a newborn at $5,600 for the first year.

Between clothes that never have time to wear out and diapers that last for minutes, very few of us have the resources to provide everything that we wish we could for our little ones.

The greatest gift we can give our children is our love and; time. Here are some ideas which might help you save money as well!

Buy Used

To those of us who never bought used clothing for ourselves, it might seem odd to wrap the most precious child in the world in something less than brand new.

As long as you are careful about who you buy from and wash everything before it’s used, you’ll find this can be one of the best ways to save money for more important things.

Babies and children outgrow clothing so quickly and get so messy while doing so, that once you’re comfortable with it, it will seem silly to pay 25.00 for an outfit you could get for just a few dollars.

Make sure whomever you buy from has a good reputation. They should provide pictures and details about the condition. And always wash everything before your sweetheart wears it–new or used!

Trade and Recycle

There are so many sites that allow mothers to trade items their children no longer need for what they do need, right now!

Craigslist.org

Everyone knows about Craigslist, but it’s a great place to not only purchase but trade your unneeded items for what you do need.

Be open about what you need and specific about what you want to trade. And always, always be careful when meeting a total stranger!

Freecycle.org

A worldwide organization that has local chapters nearly everywhere. Each one is full of kind people who are completely ready and willing to give things away for free! The whole point is to keep perfectly good but unneeded items out of landfills, so make sure when you’re done with something you pass it on too! And don’t go asking for big-screen TVs or cash – that’s frowned upon and just in bad taste!

Skip!

So many things we buy or receive as gifts, but end up not needing really. Here is a common list of things that you can safely skip until you know if you really need them! Remember, it’s so easy to go overboard, but as long as he’s warm and fed, the only thing he really needs is your love and attention!

Crib shoes:

Sure, they look cute, but it’s going to be a long time before your beautiful sweetheart is going to be walking. And even then, many experts suggest your little one learn to walk barefoot to prevent many foot problems. So socks, for now, shoes for later!

Infant bedding sets:

To prevent SIDs risk, there should be nothing in the crib beside your baby and a sheet below him or her. All those blankets, pillows and bumpers are just going to end up in a pile on the floor! To keep your baby warm, consider wearable blankets or bunting.

Stocking up too soon

Bottles, pacifiers, and formula:

You can have a few of these on hand, but don’t go overboard or you might find yourself with two dozen beautiful, expensive bottles that your sweetheart won’t even put into her mouth or formula she spits ever-so-elegantly all over the both of you.

Newborn size clothes:

Some babies are born too big to fit into these comfortably. It’s better to split newborn and 3-month items so you have a variety of sizes available. There is no need to gather too many newborn items until you see your little one’s size and how they grow. Some babies are long and skinny, some are short and fat–your sweetie may surprise you!

Diapers:

Some moms swear by Panders, and some can’t live without Huggies. Since they actually fit differently, some babies are shaped better for one or the other. It’s a good idea to buy diapers in bulk, but wait until he arrives so you don’t end up with the wrong brand.

Go Green!

Cloth diapers:

Not only are these great for the earth, but most families save hundreds of dollars – even more if you are planning on more than one angel because they can be reused on the second baby after the first baby if well cared for!

Breastfeed:

Breastfeeding saves families $1,600-6,000 in the first 12 months of your baby’s life and is considered the healthiest choice by the World Health Organization for all babies.

Any amount of breastfeeding is beneficial and; every ounce you don’t have to buy is money in your pocket.

The benefits of breastfeeding go far beyond saving money, but that is a bonus.

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These days your credit rating is a very important factor in society.

With the lending culture, many people feel they are disabled if they have a poor credit score and many people think that a good credit score is a necessity and requirement in life.

What is a Credit Score?

Your credit score is a figure which is the result of research into your financial history.

The riskier the person, the lower the credit score. Obviously the higher the score, the better options you have when it comes to financing, loans and credit cards.

Chances are, if you are above the age of eighteen you will already have some sort of credit score.

At the very least you will have a credit history and this will be the foundation of your score.

If you already have a high credit score then you should work on increasing it due to the fact banks and other financial institutions will look upon you more favorably and thus, reduce interest and give you preferential treatment.

Improving your credit score is not a complicated process, however; it is time-consuming.

There are several ways to achieve this and one even some of them take a short period of time, but it is important to treat this as a long-term financial project to help you achieve the ratings you deserve.

The first method to boost your rating is to ensure you regularly check your credit reports.

If you see any errors it is important to inform the credit agency and challenge the erroneous information contained in the report.

It is also important to check your credit rating to avoid identity theft and ensure no un-authorized financial transactions are taking place.

Next, it is important to show that you repay finance options early. So, pay off all your balances fully every month. It demonstrates you are committed to managing your debt, and also it helps you save a ton of money on interest.

It is also important not to spread your debt too far. If you have a large number of credit cards, try and reduce it to just two in order to reduce your risk.

If you have a few credit options opposed to many, it will increase your credit score.

One of the most important things you can do is to ensure you always repay your loans on time. If you miss a payment it will affect your credit rating.

You need to prove that you are a good investment to the banks and missing payments will show up on your report.

However, if you have a history of missing payments then in time they will be erased from your credit report. Usually, this takes between three and five years.

Finally, you should work on being more efficient with the options you have. Use your credit cards wisely and share the balance between them all.

A good thing to do is to always ensure you are under 50% of the maximum limit. Maxed out credit cards are not good for you, or your credit score.

Following those methods will help ensure your credit rating increases and in time it will lead to further opportunities, and hopefully preferential treatment.

Remember that every time you take credit, you are paying interest!

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Now that the Holidays are around the corner, you probably find yourself in a huge hole deciding on what gifts to buy and where to buy them.

There will be parties, dinners, and outings – they won’t be cheap.

Here are some tips on how to save some money for the Holidays.

Wear a Sweater

Tempting as it may be, the thermostat can quickly empty your wallet.

Especially in the winter when the weather is cold, you find that every month your heating bill increases because you are too lazy to put on some clothes.

It may not be a sweater. Pull out that favorite hoodie you had stocked away for occasions like these, and walk around the house in style. Even better, wear a ski mask as an accessory.

Keeping warm can be done in a variety of ways, and upping the temperature on your thermostat should be the last choice.

Cut down on dining out

Why are you still eating out so much?

With Thanksgiving and Christmas approaching mighty fast, it would be in your best interest to cut down on the amount you eat out.

Not only will it save money in your wallet to buy gifts for those you care about, but your waistline will also thank you for it.

Save some stomach for the good stuff!

Use cash or debit cards

When you shop for gifts, always use cash or debit cards.

For one, cash will never fail you. Once you’ve paid, you’re in the clear.

By not restricting yourself to the assets you already own, you run the risk of getting carried away during the Holiday Season and building up loads of credit card bills that roll around with 18% interest. What a way to bring in the new year.

As for debit cards (usually linked to a checking account), most of them have cashback or rewards programs, something to keep an eye on when you buy things during the year.

If you purchase enough items using your debit card, you will usually have some sort of perk that you can use to buy other things, say, Christmas gifts.

“Day After” shopping

If your family doesn’t mind, you can always take them Christmas shopping the day after Christmas.

Although a bit counter-intuitive, the deals you will find will probably be somewhere between 20%-70%.

Christmas is a tradition that many people love to enjoy, but giving them presents 1 day after?

It doesn’t bother many people at all.

Wrapping paper is expensive

If you can, try to give gifts that won’t require you to wrap them.

And if you really must, add a touch of humor to your gifts by wrapping them with the Comics section of the newspaper.

If your gift is for a person who enjoys sports, you can wrap the gift up in pages from a Sports Magazine.

Ribbons, bows, and cellophane (warning: will reveal your gift item) are all good and inexpensive ideas to choose from.

The main thing to understand when giving a gift is that it should be creative more than anything else.

Consider online shopping

Many people don’t want to go through the hassle of ordering or buying things online, but these days, it’s rare not to find a deal online.

Some sites even offer discounts to new customers and free shipping when you order over a certain limit.

Places such as eBay and Amazon are still running a profitable business, so they must be doing something correctly, right?

Besides, buying gifts online saves you the hassle of going around to various stores and scouring for deals.

Everything is available for a query at your fingertips, and they ship right to your door, saving you gas money.

Know relative values

As Christmas fast approaches, you shouldn’t be surprised to see SALE signs everywhere you look.

Even places that never seem to give any discounts whatsoever seem to be putting up Moneysaver postings.

Be smart when shopping, and don’t fall into traps. A store could raise its selling price of something 30% then give a 10% discount.

So in effect, you’re actually paying more than what you should be at market price.

If you know how much something costs without any of the markups or markdowns, then you know what is a good deal and what isn’t.

Don’t be so quick to rush in when you see big red signs everywhere.

Other rather useful tips

– If you are looking to travel, book early! Although it is a bit late to say that now…

– Buy a ticket to a show or an event as a gift. These may be a bit more expensive, but they are a breath of fresh air compared to the usual material gift that is useless. Someone will actually enjoy something.

– Make gifts yourself. If you have a special hobby such as knitting, sewing, or carpentry, you can always spend some time to give a gift that has meaning. It should be made with care and love.

Whatever you do this Holiday Season, keep in mind that you should remember to have fun and keep sociable – what the Holidays are all about.

Too often people lose sight of what this time of year actually means by splurging on gifts and going on spending sprees.

Don’t get caught up in the moment – think about the future.

P.S. Your Retirement says Thank you.

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