Category: Money

Teens — Learn These 3 Financial Skills and You’ll Be Set for Life

teen financial tips

If you haven’t figured this out already, school doesn’t teach you all the things you need to know for life on your own. Sure, you’ll learn algebra and why mitochondria are the powerhouses of cells, but what about real-life skills like managing money, how to cook, and finding a job? Fortunately, you’ve got the internet at your fingertips, so use the time you have left living at home to start learning and experimenting with these three handy financial life skills.

teen financial tips

Investing

Knowing general tips for investing is good, but there are also a few major strategies to know. Many teens don’t learn about investing until much later in life. That’s when they’ll often make several high-risk moves that may or may not pay off for them. Learning to save money and invest it wisely can make it easier to have a nest egg for later on as well as to be able to retire early. Mutual funds, 401(k) accounts, IRAs, and other investment tools can be advantageous. Teens should know what each one is, the pros and cons behind them, and how investing can help you in the future.

Global Economics

The world economy is just as important, if not more important than the local national economy. It has an impact on trade, finance, and much more. Knowing how global economics plays a role in the U.S. financial markets, insurance, stocks, and more will make it easier when investments are being made. This knowledge is so valuable it’s one of the main reasons that people take internships abroad. Additionally, anyone who’s going to work in business will be affected by the global economy in one way or another. Teens need to know which countries have economic stability and what it can mean when they don’t, especially if you dream of moving out of the country one day.

Budgeting

Every teen should know how to create a solid home budget. This includes balancing expenses against the income that they bring in. Plus, budgeting makes it easier to avoid the temptation of credit cards or high-interest loans. There are also plenty of other tips for avoiding bad credit loans and other risky ventures. If you nail down how to deal with your money responsibly now, you’re less likely to make poor decisions that can haunt you well into your adult years.

If investing, global economics, and budgeting are so important, why aren’t they taught in schools? That’s anyone’s guess, but you can take control of your own life and set yourself on the path to a more successful adult life by learning these things now. With even a basic grasp of these simple but essential concepts, you become more likely to experience success in both your bank account and future career.

Top 10 Credit Myths Debunked – and How to Raise Your Score

teen credit tips

Financial literacy is important for all teenagers. Its never to soon to, with the help of parents, start saving money, open up a life insurance policy, invest in stocks, and otherwise plan for the future. One of THE most important parts of your financial life is credit. Unfortunately, most schools still lag behind in teaching this critical subject. So we got some tips straight from one of the big three credit bureaus, the ones who give you a credit score and report to lenders when you try to get a credit card or loan.

teen credit tips

Experian wrote up the 10 Ten Credit Myths Debunked piece below in conjunction with their annnouncement of a new way to boost scores. It is called Experian Boost, and according to them its a:

“free, groundbreaking online platform that allows consumers to instantly influence their credit scores.”

From what we can tell, the way it works is you connect your online bank accounts to their platform, and they will analyze your cell phone, electric, and other payments (which the credit bureaus usually ignore) to generate a better score — instantly.

If your credit is already great, this might not be for you, because it’s designed to provide the largest boost to those with low scores. However, if you are in the 580 to 669 range, it can save you a lot of money on interest — because higher scores mean lower interest rates!

From Experian:

Experian Boost will be available to all credit active adults in early 2019, but consumers can visit www.experian.com/boost now to register for early access. By signing up for a free Experian membership, consumers will receive a free credit report and FICO ® Score immediately, and will be one of the first to experience Experian Boost. 

What are some other smart ways to handle credit and improve your credit score when you start getting credit at age 18?

  • RULE #1: Pay on time. Always.
  • Use your credit cards to buy everything in order to earn cash back or airline miles, but pay off the balance every month.
  • Have at least 5 tradelines (meaning, credit accounts) open. Most companies will keep your account open as long as you use your card at least once per year.
  • It pays to use a secured card or higher interest card when you are first starting out to establish a history, but once your credit score improves and you open accounts to replace them, close the higher interest cards. Do NOT close accounts if you are planning to finance a car or apply for a loan soon, because closing older, positive history accounts might lower your score for a while.
  • Keep your overall balances to less than 30 percent of your total available credit. So if you add all your cards together and you have $1000 in debt, but your total available is $5000, you are at 20 percent credit utilization, which is okay.

Now, let’s get to Experian’s tips!

teen credit card

10 Credit Myths Debunked

By Experian

When it comes to debt, credit reports, and credit scores, conventional wisdom is peppered with myths, misunderstandings, and misrepresentations. Credit is a tool. Like any tool, it’s neither good nor bad in itself. What matters is how you use it.

Myth #1: Debt is Debt

Not all debts are equal. Say you’ve got a $150,000 debt on your credit report. If it’s there because you maxed out your credit cards to throw a birthday blowout for yourself two years ago, then you’re in trouble. Today, that debt is giving you nothing but memories (and maybe an ulcer). But if that $150,000 is your mortgage, then you’re probably just like millions of other responsible homeowners. That debt is giving you a warm place to lay your head at night.

Myth #2: Checking Your Credit Report Will Hurt Your Credit Score

A notation called an “inquiry” goes on your credit report every time someone (including you) looks at your file, and rumor has it that inquiries can hurt your score. Well, yes and no. An inquiry affects your score only if it’s related to a credit application that you have submitted. If you apply for a loan or a credit card, your score might fall, because that application suggests you’ll be adding debt. But if you simply look at your own credit report, the resulting inquiry won’t affect your score. If anything, checking your report is a sign of responsible credit management, though you don’t get points for doing it.

Myth #3: Closing a Credit Card Will Improve Your Credit Score

If you have a credit card you don’t use, you’re unlikely to improve your score by closing the account. In fact, closing the card might even lower your score at first. One important thing scores use to measure risk is how much of your credit card limits you use — a ratio known as “credit utilization”. When you close an unused account, you reduce your total available credit, so your credit utilization rate goes up. (Of course, if an unused card creates an unbearable temptation to spend, you may be better served in the long run by closing the account.) Scores usually bounce back up after a few months, if your credit report is otherwise in good shape.

Myth #4: You Only Have One Credit Score

There isn’t just one single credit scoring formula that applies to all consumers in all situations. By some estimates, there are more than a thousand scoring models in use in the credit marketplace. A consumer could therefore have dozens or even hundreds of different credit scores depending on the lender using it and the types of lending being done. Lenders and others check your credit score for different reasons, and each formula looks at your credit history in a different way, giving different weight to various factors.

Myth #5: Credit Bureaus Give Good and Bad Scores

Credit bureaus do not create credit scores. Credit bureaus collect information about your debts and use that information to build a credit report. Credit scores are generated based on information in your credit report. Those scores are neither objectively “good” nor “bad.” They’re a measure of risk. It’s up to lenders to decide whether a given score meets their criteria for extending credit. And, scores are usually just one factor in their decision. A “good” score might not mean much if you don’t have a job or any assets. Likewise, a high income and a stack of gold bars might outweigh a “bad” score.

Myth #6: Better Job, Better Score

Your income has no direct effect on your credit score. Scores are based only on the information found in your credit report. Your report includes a lot of information about your use of credit and your management of debt. But it doesn’t include your income. In fact, it doesn’t even indicate you have a job. It lists the employers you’ve included in past applications, but if you haven’t applied since you last changed jobs, it might not even list your current employer. That said, your employment situation can affect your score indirectly, in terms of your ability to pay your debts. And when you apply for credit, lenders will probably ask about your income.

Myth #7: Spouses Have a Joint Credit Report

There’s no such thing as a joint credit report — for married couples or anyone else. Married or single, you have your own credit report. If you’re married, you and your spouse may have a lot of joint accounts, such as mortgages, car loans and shared credit card accounts. Those joint items will appear on both your credit reports and will affect both of your scores. But your credit report is yours and yours alone.

Myth #8: Paying Debts Erases Them

Pay off a debt and you’ve eliminated your obligation — but the evidence of that debt can stick to your credit report for years. If you pay your debts on time and in full, you will likely want your paid-off accounts on your credit report because they show that you’ve used credit responsibly. If, on the other hand, you’ve been chronically late, missed payments or defaulted entirely, that’s a problem. Most negative information can remain on your report for up to seven years; some bankruptcies can stay there for up to 10 years.

Myth #9: For Those With Little or No Credit, It’s Difficult to Build Credit

While people with limited credit history and low credit scores may have a hard time building credit, new tools are becoming available to help. One way to instantly increase your credit score is by using Experian Boost, a free service that incorporates your utility and mobile phone payment history into your Experian credit file. This can help you build up more credit history, which helps improve a credit score. It is a great first step but don’t stop there – make sure to pay all of your bills on time and don’t take on too much debt.

Being added as an authorized user or setting up a joint card (i.e. with a parent) is also a great way to build positive credit history. You might also consider opening a secured credit card account. That means you deposit money in a savings account that is tied to the card. If you don’t pay on time, the lender is protected – or secured – because they can withdraw payment from your savings account. However, they would still report the payment late, so be sure you always pay on time. If you do, you can build a positive credit history and start saving at the same time.

Myth #10:  Credit is a Measure of Your Value

Credit scores are designed to evaluate how big of a risk it would be to lend you money. That’s it. If your score is low, it’s because your credit history suggests that there’s a higher risk that you’ll default on a debt. It doesn’t mean anyone thinks you’re a bad person. Good, honest people can have low scores (and yes, truly awful people can have high scores). What you can do is work to generate a positive credit record: pay bills on time, reduce balances and apply for credit only when you need it.

Save Money with the 52 Week Savings challenge

52 week challenge

You might be reading this because you are worried about how little you save money. Perhaps you don’t spend any money at all, or maybe you do save but quickly spend it on something. Setting up long-term savings is a good idea, as it can protect you and your future, and allows you to have a fall-back should you ever need it. It is a healthy way to manage your money, rather than living paycheck to paycheck.

However, getting started with saving money isn’t always easy. If you have very little left over at the end of the month, after all your bills, rent and other commitments, there may not be a whole lot left to save. Do not despair  – you are not the only one who feels like this.

52 week challengeIn fact, online loans provider ‘Wonga’ see saving difficulties at the top of the list of their customers’ worries. They recently blogged about the annual savings challenge, which could help you to get your savings on the right track. They say, “The 52-week savings challenge is an excellent way to slowly grow your commitment to saving, which is something that doesn’t come naturally to us all. Following this challenge provides South Africans with a realistic and achievable way to save money, even in our tough economy and at the leanest times of year.”

Other outlets also praise the 52 week saving challenge. Money blog ‘The Balance’ explains the pros and cons simply, “You start by saving just $1 the first week of the challenge. Pop it in a jar on your counter without a second thought. The next week, put away $2, and the next, $3. You get the idea. By the end of the challenge, you are saving more than $50 a week, bringing your total amount saved to just under $1,400 by the end of the year.” Of course, it can be difficult when you get to the larger values, which is why some people decide to do the 52-Week Money Challenge in reverse, e.g. they save $52 in week 1, $51 in week 2, and so on.

Some people may also suggest just saving a fixed amount every month. However, this can prove difficult. Some months, after an unexpected bill, you might not have the money to put a larger amount away in your savings. Alternatively, others like setting up direct debits to automatically take the money at the start of the money so that there is no way out of putting some extra aside. Dedicating a specific savings account, which you do not touch is an ideal way of saving money that you don’t feel tempted to dig into!

Remember also that you can make small sacrifices in your daily life to help the savings challenge. What about cutting out that daily cup of coffee that you buy; the money you save can really add up. Equally, try to cut down on areas of spending at home, like turning off plugs and electric sockets that you don’t need.

Why You Should Be Thinking About Your Financial Future Now

It’s never too early to start thinking about your financial future. Even if you are a teen who is still in the process of figuring out what you want to do with your life, there are reasons why you need to start planning now. By beginning to think about your financial future, it’s possible to ensure the money is there when you need it. Investopedia provides some basics that you can start to employ right this minute and be secure all of your life.

financial future planning

Creating and Reaching Financial Goals

One reason why you need to start planning now has to do with goal setting. It’s up to you to decide what those goals may be. Perhaps you would like to own a home by the time you’re 30. Maybe you want to pursue a higher degree, like a doctorate. Start by learning how to set goals, including how to go about securing the resources to reach them. You may have to adjust or refine those goals as you get older, but that’s much different from having none at all.

Reserving Funds for Major Expenses

Another good reason why you need to start planning now for your financial future has to do with making significant purchases when you grow up. A home, a car, college, and even retirement are major investments that require cash. According to Your Quest, money management is more important than ever for young teens to learn, as retirement keeps becomes more and more expensive. Report indicate that Americans are living longer than they used to, and thus are needing more money in retirement funds to sustain themselves (sometimes needing up to 38 years of funds or more). Even if those expenses feel years away, now is the time to learn how to create a budget and live within your means. Make sure the budget includes line items specifically for each major expense.

Set goals for how much to tuck away each paycheck and stick with it. Remember to include a line item for emergency funds, since you never know what could happen. Along with watching the funds grow, you’ll learn a lot about avoiding overspending and stop yourself from going into debt.

Setting Up Savings and Investment Accounts

When you have at least a few goals for the future, brainstorm how you can begin working toward them now. On the financial front, this means learning to save money now and possibly invest in some manner. Hands on Banking reinforces, “opening a savings account is easier than ever before. All you’ll really need are forms of identification and a little bit of money to start your account with. Once that’s done, you can start planning more effectively for your future.” Start with simple plans like opening a savings account, then move on to setting up a certificate of deposit. The goal is to put mechanisms in place that allow you to earn interest on the money that you save.

In time, you will be old enough to make investments. Start with safe ones that are highly likely to earn some sort of return. As you become more comfortable with the market, it’s okay to allocate some of your money to options with higher risk and a chance for a higher return. As long as you maintain a solid financial cushion and learn not to invest more than you can afford to lose, you’ll be okay.

Ultimately, the habits you develop now make it possible to maintain financial well being and make life a little easier. As you accumulate wealth and achieve your goals, there will always be one more to set and reach. With your sound skills, there will always be a way to get where you want to go. Think about your finanical future today!

Six Summer Jobs You Won’t Find at the Mall

For teenagers, getting a job for extra cash during the summer is considered part of growing up. A summer job is a great opportunity to earn extra cash and gain valuable skills that are applicable to the real world and hopefully future careers. In fact, many businesses are looking for seasonal workers to lend a hand in stocking shelves, bagging groceries, or providing customer support. If you want to branch out from the regular teen work, here are a few summer job options to consider this year.

Becoming a Neighborhood House Sitter

If parents are out for the night, they will need someone to watch over the kids or any pets the family has. Teenagers often take advantage or babysitting gigs, house-sitting, and similar work. You’ll have to know how to prepare a few meals, take care of regular cleaning and home maintenance. You may be asked to watch the pets or take them out for a walk occasionally. Advertise your services at local community or neighborhood bulletins or social media sites.

Working as a Summer Camp Counselor

Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts both host summer camps for kids, full of fun activities such as roasting marshmallows or learning different first aid and survival skills. As a camp counselor you can help teach basic survival skills or creative arts and crafts to children, so they have a memorable summer, even when their parents are not around. Make sure to invest in a good camping blanket to stay cozy and warm, or even a hammock.

Working Part-Time as a Barista

Many cafes are looking for part-time servers to mix drinks during the peak summer season at local restaurants or resorts. Teenagers can learn to provide customer service by taking orders and maintaining a positive attitude while they serve food or drinks. Here you can also learn valuable retail skills like working a cash register or organizing backroom supplies.

Landscaping or Mowing Lawns

If a neighbor doesn’t have the time to mow the lawn, they often pay teenagers to do it for them. Teens might also water the garden, plant seeds, paint the fence, or pour fertilizer onto wilting plants. Learning outdoor and yard skills are great not just for everyday life, but for future jobs as well. If you don’t want to do the dirty work, you can also find lots of summer sales jobs, getting people pest control, sprinkler work, and other outdoor work.

Administrative Assistant Job

Office jobs are a dime a dozen. Most companies and hospitals require someone to be at the front desk to greet customers or help them book an appointment with a busy specialist. Their responsibilities include answering phone calls, filing legal paperwork, or inputting data using Excel spreadsheets. If you know how to do a few basics on the computer and are already organized, these kinds of part-time reception work could be perfect for spring boarding into office work after school.

Teenagers have to think outside the box if they want to find a summer job. They can design T-shirts, build a website, or even work at the local gas station. There are many part-time jobs available for inexperienced high schoolers, but the ones mentioned before are definitely a great start.

6 Ways to Make Bank While Still in High School

Many famous entrepreneurs got their start at an early age. They often cite starting a service based business or online shop as their first venture. Even if you aren’t aiming to become a CEO in the near future, earning some extra cash on the side can allow you to save for items or experiences without relying on your parents. Parents may be inclined to veto certain purchases or outings, but they are generally more likely to support their children’s choices if the student has shown discipline and maturity in earning and saving responsibly.

There aren’t as many options for high school students to earn as there are for college graduates working full-time, but don’t let that discourage you. There are also many opportunities available for high school students that aren’t readily taken on by adults.

Sales

When brainstorming business ideas, make sure you are adhering to all school rules and laws. Selling gum, candy or baked goods is a common suggestion for teens who want to make money. However, many schools have policies in place that prevent anyone besides the school from selling food on campus. In some cases, you won’t get in trouble, but your parents can be held responsible. Networking with family and friends and selling security cameras or MLM products such as doTERRA oils or Mary Kay products can be highly lucrative.

House and Property Care

High school students are very capable of doing most household tasks like cooking and cleaning. In many families, each member is expected to perform certain chores without pay. But it doesn’t hurt to ask if you can pick up more than your assigned share in order to make some extra cash. With your parents’ permission, you can also offer these services to neighbors. You can also add services like mowing lawns, helping with household technology (setting up new purchases, troubleshooting computers, etc), and driving errands (if you have a license).

Academics

You can profit from the work you do in your own classes. You can offer tutoring in classes you have already completed and done well in. You can also sell notes and study guides you have created (just make sure they don’t break any academic rules your school has). You can make multiply your business by offering these services to groups.

Use Your Skills

Think about what you enjoy and what you’re good at. This could be typing or computer activities, art, etc. Think of how you can profit from these skills and/or do a little research to see what you come up with. Many online sites will pay on a per-job basis for things like transcription (listening to an audio file and typing what you hear), translation, data entry (for example, re-typing a page of text that has been scanned from handwritten notes or a pdf), and more. You can generate sales by making a website or contributing to a blog that already exists.

Retail / Food

Part-time jobs like dishwashing and folding clothes are common for people who are still in school. These jobs tend to pay less per hour than other opportunities mentioned in this article and they can be stressful since you are working for a real company. However, the benefits are a steady paycheck without having to set-up your own client base or online shop, as well as a solid role to add to your resume.

Work for Someone You Know

Chances are, someone you know has a business they could use some help with. It could be a friend, a family member, a friend’s parent or a parent’s friend. By looking within your own social network, you may find an opportunity that no one else knows about. Working at a real company can give you great insight into what type of work you may or may not like to take on after high school.

If you’re like me, you crave independence. Your age doesn’t need to be an obstacle to getting a head start on your financial success. Financial coach Chris Hogan says “There’s no present like time.” The sooner you can start raking in the dough, the sooner you can learn how that process works, which will set you up for decades to come.

5 Ways to Avoid Student Loan Debt

Let’s have a moment of real talk real quick. Student debt is absolutely crippling young people in this country. Up-and-coming members of the workforce suffer from massive amounts of debt that will keep them from truly relaxing for decades upon graduation—constantly struggling and worrying about making that next payment. What’s worse – while a chapter 13 can help you avoid a foreclosure or repossession (Want A Fresh Start, LLC), student loans are not bankruptible. They’re not going away.

We’ve compiled the best strategies for avoiding debt—you know debt, it’s the kind of crippling thing that makes a grown man cry himself to sleep every night.

1- Look for Alternative Education Options

The easiest and most effective way to avoid debt, at least of the student loan variety, is to just not go to college in the first place. I went to college, so maybe that’s why I’m a little bit jaded. So let me preface this by saying – I believe in the importance of education! Education is the single most important investment you can make in yourself. However, it is simply not the case that a 4-year degree from a liberal arts university is the only or even the best kind of education for you.

If you’re going to spend money on educating yourself, the education MUST come with useful, marketable skills in the workplace. If you’re passionate about history, philosophy, or lesbian dance theory – I’m very happy for you. A library card is free. Unless you know almost for certain what you want to do as a career, then college may just be a waste of time and money if you’re going just to go, and have no real sense of direction as to what to do with your degree once you actually graduate with mountains of debt and no job prospects (CBS News).

When deciding between a trade school, a traditional university degree, or self-teaching the skills you need, it’s important to follow the opportunities, rather than your passions. Passion is definitely an asset, but it’s entirely possible there is no marketplace value for the thing you are passionate about. Look at the unemployment statistics, growth prospects, and average earnings for each degree, certificate, or program. Research the jobs you think you want to train yourself for. You don’t need to do something you hate, but you need to have a realistic understanding of the opportunities available. Chances are high that the avenue you pursue doesn’t require a PHD in lesbian dance theory.

2- Scholarships

I didn’t apply for scholarships, and boy, what a regret that was. Perhaps if I had been a more diligent student, then maybe I would have looked at all of the dozens of scholarships my university offered, not to mention the several that the state offered in part of its education funding. Sure, I got by with my Pell grants and federal loans, but dang, I wish I could go back and apply for any of the literally hundreds of scholarships available to pretty much every single person who goes to school because there are one easy way to avoid debt.

3- Fellowship Aids

These are almost the same thing as grants and scholarships, but mostly come from the universities themselves. I know that the MFA and MBA programs that my university offered supported students by providing grants to all students enrolled to help stipend their tuition costs. Every school is different, so the one you may want to go to might not offer any fellowship grants to its students, so it might be wise to look into schools that do to avoid serious debt.

4- Student Teaching and Interning

Being provided with your own class and canvas to teach is perhaps one of the best ways for education students to step into the role of the master and begin to hone their craft of teaching. That, and it also helps that most universities offer teaching positions for most of their graduate students as a way to help pay for their tuition, pay for their books, and provides stipends for them to live on while they go to school and immerse themselves in whatever they’re majoring in. Similar programs exist for other professional degrees like healthcare, where you can sign up to work for a specific hospital or clinic for a number of years, and in return they furnish partial or whole tuition reimbursement.

5- Work Your Ass Off

Somehow in our culture we’ve become allergic to work – especially college students. Some young people think they are owed a “college experience” – which pretty much means getting wasted six nights a week at a frat party and waking up in the tub of an unattractive stranger. Not that I’m speaking from experience or anything. The truth is, students who work at least 20 hours a week actually see a slight bump in GPA, and typically report higher levels of satisfaction with their educational experience despite higher levels of stress (Bureau of Labor Statistics). Besides that, having some work experience under your belt when you graduate will have a more significant impact on your job placement than your GPA.

So there you have it. Some pretty self-explanatory options, but all almost certain ways to help you avoid going in debt to go to college.

5 Principles to Maintain a Good Credit Score: Start Adulthood on the Right Foot

Do you know your credit score? Not many young adults can answer that question, and even fewer know why it’s even important in the first place. Think of credit scores as an entrance exam test score for adults. It tells potential lenders, insurers, landlords, and even employers about the type of person you are. A higher score opens opportunities to better rates, apartments, and some careers. You’ve probably got a lot on your mind planning your future, with a little insight and common sense, you can learn financial responsibility. Here are 5 tips to help you maintain a good credit score.

1. Understand Credit Score Math

A credit score is a three-digit number used to estimate creditworthiness. It ranges from 350 to 850. The formula used to calculate scores vary slightly between different credit reporting agencies, and while the exact formulas are closely-guarded secrets, some factors are easy to understand. Some of the most important and basic factors to maintain a good credit score are:

  • On Time Payments – Solid payment history improves your score
  • Debt Ratios – Keep recurring credit balances as low as possible
  • Credit File Age – This factor always starts low and only time helps
  • Inquiries – Too many credit applications damages your credit score
  • Variety of Loans – Experience different types of credit to maximize your rating

Your score is a total of these factors, though some of the factors weigh a little heavier on your score than others. Know which factors impact your total the most, and adapt your habits to improve your score. Negative history items like collections, defaults, and bankruptcy penalize your result. Aim to keep your number above 720, because the higher your score is, the more financially stable creditors will see you.

2. Check Your Credit File Regularly

The Fair Credit Reporting Act entitles you to a free credit report from each reporting agency once a year. This report contains details about you, your accounts, and your payment history. While you can read your file for free, scores can cost extra. However, there are independent credit monitoring agencies that allow you to see your score once a month or more. While some of these agencies charge a fee, others are free. By using a credit-monitoring agency, you can catch incorrect or fraudulent activity and report it. To maintain a good credit score, always know what’s on your report.

3. Create Your First Budget

Make a budget and stick to it. Following a budget teaches you about your spending habits and behaviors and will help you maintain a good credit score in the future. Before you start taking out loans, it’s best to test yourself using your own money. If you’ve never thought about tracking your spending before, you might be surprised at what you learn and the trends you see.

Carefully track your expenses for several months and look for patterns. Compare your results to your existing income. Never spend more in a month than you earn, and get into the habit of saving money now. Say no to things you don’t need. If you’ve done your homework, you know what you can afford and what you can’t.

4. Minimize Your Debt Burden

From a lender’s point of view, a high level of existing debt makes it more difficult for a borrower to manage new loans and pay off all their debt. This is why it’s so important to minimize what debt you have. If you don’t need to take out a student loan, find another way to pay for school, because even if you can make the monthly payments for the next five or ten years, the high principal will show up on your credit report and will affect your creditworthiness.

Avoid new debt and pay with what money you have available first. If you’re in college, apply for scholarships or work a part time job. Put high down payments on cars and only use credit cards for emergencies. Pay debt off quickly. The lower your debt ratio is (how much you can borrow versus how much debt you have), the less risky you appear to a lender and will help maintain a good credit score.

5. Use Cash Whenever Possible

Just about every commercial business looks for a way to exploit impulse buys. For example, the checkout lane at the grocery store is loaded with overpriced merchandise. Stores put these items within easy reach and hope you’ll grab them, and many people do.

Credit card companies take advantage of impulsive behavior as well. It’s a well-documented fact that people spend carelessly with credit and even debit cards. The convenience of plastic lends itself to high debt burdens, but if you’re handling physical cash, it’s often harder to let go.

With a little insight and some planning, you can keep your credit score high, even if you know practically nothing about finances. Stick to the basics, and over time, you’ll be able to maintain a good credit score and have no problem getting approved for any loans you may need later in life.

Sources
https://www.creditcards.com/credit-card-news/help/5-parts-components-fico-credit-score-6000.php
https://www.gottabemobile.com/best-budget-apps/
http://www.creditkarma.com/
https://m.wgu.edu/online-business-degrees/accounting-bachelors-program.html
https://www.usa.gov/credit-reports

5 Ways to Avoid Bankruptcy

Declaring bankruptcy is one of the most negative life-altering events you can experience. For teens, the consequences of filing for bankruptcy can last well into early adulthood. Not exactly the best way to start your future. Below, there are five ways to avoid bankruptcy. They will help.

Live on a Budget

Budgets are super easy! At the top of the page, try to figure out how much income you’re going to get this month. Even if this number is the same every month, your expenses won’t be, so make sure you do a new budget every month. Now, you need to try and guess how much you’re going to need for all your expenses. These are clothes, dating, eating out, entertainment and recreation, savings, and any other expenses you are responsible for. Allocate every dollar of your income to these categories, and withdraw that amount of money and put it into an envelope. Try not to overspend in any category – that’s how debt happens! This process is even easier with tools like Mint or Everydollar that will help you figure out your expenses and can even deduct the money from each category as it comes out of your bank account.

Avoid Debt

We’ve done extensive research, and it turns out an astonishing 100% of bankruptcies happen to people who borrow money. Our culture and probably even your parents have always told you that there’s no way to get an education or buy a car without going into debt, but this is just not the case. Most Americans today are living paycheck to paycheck and using their credit card as their emergency fund. All of these things can be done much better by saving up and paying cash. “Building credit” is a scam that has sentenced too many young people to a life of financial servitude. Don’t get a credit card, don’t pass go, and don’t collect $200 in late fees.

Settle and Negotiate Your Debts

Essentially, debt settlement is making a deal with your creditors, and sometimes it takes some creative negotiating. If they are faced with never getting their money back or a reduced payment plan, lenders will obviously choose to create a reduced payment plan. Some creative negotiating tactics work well like asking for a waiver of current payments but agree to make larger ones later. If creditors are calling all the time and demanding money, there’s a high likelihood they’re actually violating federal laws. You may consider contacting Collection Bully – not just to hit back against abusive collectors, but sometimes they can even help get some of your debt forgiven!

Sell off Property

In Chapter 7 cases, the court appoints someone to pick property and sell it off to cover debts. Look at the bare minimum of what you need and sell off the rest. Then, use the cash raised to pay off some debts. Even if you are unable to raise a lot, at least it is on your terms.

When all else fails, remember that bankruptcy is not the end of the world. According to Eric Severeno, “When you file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy or for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, all of the creditors who have been hounding you and performing collection actions against you will be legally forced to stop. All financial proceedings against you…will come to a halt.” Whether you can get current and pay off the debt, or whether you need to file in order to escape, either way the goal is to start adulthood with a fresh start. The important thing is for you to change the behaviors that put you here in the first place, or the whole cycle will start again.

Writing a Resume in 2017

Writing a resume is a critical life skill. Even if you don’t quite fit the job requirements, a good resume can get you hired, while a poor resume won’t get you more than a first glance. As the business world evolves, so do standards of resume writing. Below are a few key tips for writing resumes in 2017.

Know What You Want

There’s no such thing as a universal resume. When you apply to a new position, think about the experiences in your arsenal which make you a good candidate for the position. Every resume you submit should be slightly different and tailored for the specific job in question. If you want to be a nurse, for example, you’re not going to use the same resume you used to apply for a job at a video game store.

Get Rid of Dead Weight

A general rule of thumb for resumes is that shorter is better — 1 page is the general rule. This is only true, though, if you can still include the relevant information in that amount of space. Don’t skimp on things like job history just so you can get all of the ‘classic’ resume elements on one page. Look at sites like Twitter for inspiration when it comes to engagement — keep things short, sweet and punchy.

Make Sure You Highlight What is Relevant Today

Listing job history is important, but employers are becoming less interested in what you’ve done in the past and more interested in what you can bring to the table today. Omit any job references that are irrelevant to the position you are applying for and replace them with relevant skills learned during your education. The skills section has become incredibly important in a changing economy, so it would be advantageous to place that section at the top of your resume.

Know Who’s Looking

When past generations put together a resume, they were putting together something that a human being in a hiring position was required to read all the way through. When you put together a resume, though, the odds are that you’re constructing a document for a program to scan through before a human being will get anywhere near your resume. As such, it’s important to examine hiring advertisement for key terms and to use them in your own document. If there are specific terms about skills, abilities, or requirements, make sure to use that same language in your resume. It may help the program that sorts the documents to flag yours for human review.

handshake after job interview

Enhance Your Brand

Your brand is one of the most important assets your can bring to your potential employers (if relevant). Make sure that you add links to your website and (appropriate) social media handles for certain jobs. Omit these in fields that tend to trend older, of course, but make sure that you emphasize your ability manage your own brand. Instead of an objective section, add in the aforementioned links along with a connection to your LinkedIn page.

Make Your Resume Visually Engaging

“Visually engaging” does not mean that your resume should include a photo of yourself. In fact, some HR departments have a policy to immediately reject resumes with attached images in order to avoid the risk of being accused of discrimination. Instead, make your resume visually appealing with bold headers, crisp organization, and a skimmable layout.

 

The tips above can help you to craft unique resumes that will get your foot in the door at the job of your choice. Remember, you are going to be submitting just one of many documents that your potential employer will read, including the cover letter. If you can follow the basic rules, you should be able to make it past the first cut. What you do past that point will be up to your experience and your interview skills.