The holidays can be one of the most stressful times on your budget. Now that the holidays are through, it’s important to take a look at your financial well-being and get back on track in the New Year. Here’s some tips to help you recover and minimize debt from holiday spending.
This holiday season, consumers are expected to spend nearly $1.1 trillion. It’s no surprise that whether online or in stores, the majority of these purchases will be made with a card of some sort. Debit and credit cards are very different and have their pros and cons when it comes to holiday shopping. We’ve broken down the implications of using a debit or credit card this holiday season so you can choose the swipe that’s right for you.
Improving your credit score is imperative for saving money because it allows you to qualify for larger loans and better interest rates. Though your credit score may seem like some mysterious beast you have no control over, you can actually improve it with some small lifestyle changes.
Advisors from GreenPath Financial and NerdWallets help us answer your questions.
Q: How can I boost my credit score? (My) credit score…has been stuck at 703 since March of 2015. I have checked my annual credit reports and there does not seem to be any fraudulent activity. I am 24 years old, work part-time (sadly still) and have no debt. Besides my rent, all of my bills are paid online automatically and I always have the money in my account to cover any bill. I live with a roommate so expenses are split. How can I increase my credit score?
If I could go back in time, I would do certain things differently. I'm not saying I have a lot of regrets. But when I was younger, I tended to have myopic vision. For instance, it was hard to imagine that one day I would be older. Even today, sometimes I look in the mirror and wonder, who the hell is that?
I wish that, when I was younger, someone had sat me down and told me a few things. Or else I wish that I'd listened when someone attempted to do this.
If you're young, take a seat and listen up. These gems will help you on your quest for financial success.
1. Go to college. You may want to do something that doesn't require a college degree. For instance, you may dream of playing professional golf or running a barn and training horses. But give serious consideration to enrolling in college anyway. Yes, it's a major investment, but if your parents are unable to help you pay for it, make it happen yourself, even if it means taking out loans. One way to save on costs: Go to a community college first; then transfer to a four-year university after two years.
It's easier to get a degree when you're young than when you have a home, family and all the adult responsibilities that go with these things. Your earnings potential increases significantly with a college degree -- which will come in handy if your other dreams don't materialize. Plus, you will likely experience a love of learning that you will never outgrow.
You know exactly what car you want. Maybe it's the sporty little red number you saw cruising down the highway last week. Or a huge SUV that costs as much in gas each month as your rent. Either way, unless you can pay cash up-front, you'll need an auto loan that will allow you to make monthly payments. Choosing the right package to fund your new wheels is the key. You can't slow down that fast-talking car salesmen, but you can make sure you know what he's talking about.
Get started by checking your credit score, a three-digit number (starting around 300 and going up to 900) used by your lender to determine how risky it is to lend you money. Your credit score influences your interest rate, so a higher score means a better loan package. You can get a free annual credit report (federally guaranteed) at annualcreditreport.com. By checking your credit report before applying for a loan you can fix errors and avoid surprises. It also protects you from dealers who might claim your credit score is lower than it actually is to keep you from getting a better deal.
You want to get a car loan, but you're not sure where to go. Lenders include financial institutions like credit unions, as well as online brokers and dealerships. Always compare lenders to see where you can find the best deal.
- Check with the financial institutions you already use. Credit unions are not-for-profit and consistently offer low rates on auto loans. Many also offer incentives for current members.
- Dealerships and online lenders both offer auto financing packages. It's important to read everything carefully, especially online, as some deals are often too good to be true.