If you haven’t been paying attention to your credit score, you best start. It determines how much you can borrow in this age of credit enslavement. Monitoring your credit score will help you fix the issues that are limiting your purchasing power.
Say you want to buy a home, but your credit score is too low to qualify for the loan amount you need to live in the area closest to your work. If you view your credit score before applying, you can not only save a hit on your credit when the bank runs a credit check, but fix some of the easy things that will raise your score.
Anytime anyone asks your permission to run a credit check, they are running what’s called a “hard check” of your credit score. Accumulating a bunch of these at once can sometimes lower your credit score, but if you’re buying a home and comparing mortgage rates, you’re often given a grace period to run hard checks of your credit score. I’ve been told by multiple loan officers that the grace period is 30 days, but it can be as little as 14 days and as many as 45 days. You should always check your credit score before running a hard check because using Credit Karma doesn’t affect your credit, and you might avoid applying for a loan for which you don’t qualify. Then you’re just hurting your credit score and coming up empty-handed.
Credit Karma not only provides your Transunion and Equifax credit scores for free, but also provides free tax filing software that’s truly free and includes tax forms for independent contractors for nothing. So now that you know the importance of your credit score and the best place to get it, here are 5 ways to improve your credit score and purchasing power that will put you in a position to get that loan you need.
Credit utilization is the most important factor in determining your credit score. If any one of your credit cards has a balance that’s more than 30 percent of your credit limit, it will negatively affect your credit score. This is whether you pay off the balance each month or not, so don’t think you can just max out your rewards card every month and maintain a quality credit score. That’s not how it works.
If you see a credit card balance getting close to that 30-percent threshold, start using a different payment method. You can set up balance alerts with your banks to let you know when you’re getting close to 30-percent credit utilization.
If you have a balance that’s already over the 30-percent threshold, request a credit limit increase. If you’re not paying interest on that balance, pay off other cards to lower your overall credit utilization below the 30-percent threshold. You can even transfer balances from cards with high balances to cards with low balances, albeit at a fee.
Lenders like fixed-term loans more than credit cards because the payback period is set in stone, whereas you can make the minimum payment towards a credit card and take as much time as it takes to pay it off. An auto loan with a fixed term and interest rate looks a lot better to lenders than a credit card running a balance for years. Lending Club is a highly reviewed fixed-term loan company and can help you get out of credit card debt while also improving your credit score.
Be sure to do your research, though. You don’t want to end up paying more in interest for a fixed-term loan than you would with your credit card. For instance, if you have a zero-percent, introductory rate on your credit card for a year, it’s not beneficial for you to consolidate that debt into a fixed-term loan on which you will pay interest. If you’re paying more than 15-percent interest on multiple credit cards, though, consolidating that debt into a fixed-term loan could be cheaper and improve your credit score.
Paying your credit cards twice per month is a great way to avoid missing a payment, which is the second most important factor in determining your credit score. If you always make at least the minimum payment two weeks before your due date and then again on your due date, not only will you never miss a payment, but you’ll pay off your credit card debt in half the time and pay half as much interest.
If you’re not already using automatic payments, you should be. Just setup an account from which your credit card company can withdraw payments each month and you’ll never have to worry about missing a payment.
You don’t have to use credit to improve your credit score. If you have a problem with credit card debt, the easiest thing to do is leave them at home when you go out for the day. Forcing yourself to pay for things with cash will not only keep your credit card balances from increasing, but probably keep you from buying things you shouldn’t. Credit cards allow for impulse purchases that otherwise wouldn’t be considered if all you had for payment was cash. Just considering what a purchase will do to your bank account might be enough to talk you out of the purchase. But if you keep telling yourself, “I have a month to pay this off,” or “I’ll take advantage of my introductory rate and pay it off in six months,” you’re probably buying things you don’t need with money you don’t have. Paying off purchases over time is how people end up living beyond their means and sinking their credit score. Don’t do that.
It takes time for your credit card companies to report information to the credit bureaus. You can get a good sense of when they do this by clicking “View score details” under your respective credit scores on Credit Karma, and then clicking “Credit card use” on the following page. This will tell you when your credit card companies last reported changes to your accounts.
You can also call the customer service number on the back of your card and get the exact date your credit card company reports and plan your credit applications around this. It usually takes three to five business days for changes to affect your credit scores, so give it a week after the reporting date and then check your scores to see if they’ve improved.
So there are 5 ways to improve your credit score and purchasing power. If you follow these steps you’ll be on your way to realizing the American Dream.
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The Genesis Communications Network (GCN) is proud to announce our new program "The John Gibson Radio Show." Starting Wednesday, July 5th John will be broadcasting Monday-Friday from 11:00am - 2:00 (central). His political commentary is conservative, sharp and often controversial.
John Gibson has been broadcasting on Fox News Radio since 2008 and was the former co-host of the Fox weekly edition of The Big Story on the Fox News TV channel. His background in reporting goes back to the seventies when he was a reporter at The Hollywood Reporter and several radio stations throughout the west coast. In the early nineties he worked as an NBC News correspondent and covered the O.J. Simpson trial and in the late nineties he was named anchor for daytime programing on MSNBC, where he covered the Clinton / Lewinsky scandal in 1998.
He is the author of multiple best selling books including: How the Left Swiftboated America: The Liberal Media Conspiracy to Make You Think George Bush Was the Worst President in History. (HarperCollins, 2009), The War on Christmas: How the Liberal Plot to Ban the Sacred Christian Holiday Is Worse Than You Thought. (Sentinel HC, 2005) and the NY Times best selling: Hating America: The New World Sport. (ReganBooks, 2004).
Until “journalists” intend to provide objective journalism, there will be none. And while objectivity is an impossibility, there’s a lot of value in making it known that objectivity is not your goal or even your pursuit. It’s exactly why the word “opinion” appears at the beginning of so many of my headlines. I’m not going to hide the fact I’m attempting to persuade you, and I hope that you find value in that, because it’s not the case everywhere.
We all have our preferred news sources. For Conservatives, Fox News brings them what they want to hear. For Liberals, MSNBC provides their take on the news. I am no different. I have my sources. None of them are televised, but I have no intention of misleading you to believe you’re reading the news when you read some of my writing, and if more news sources did the same, “journalism” might still exist.
You feel it every moment you read a news story, especially online. You start reading because a headline drew your attention. That’s how we read newspapers. It’s the same formula newspapers have been using for nearly 400 years: draw them in with a headline, and write a lede that makes them read further, until they’re convinced to buy the paper. I’d say nothing’s changed, but the intent of “journalists” has changed.
I have a deep love for the work of The Atlantic. They do fantastic investigative journalism, which is hard to come by these days, but even I come across Atlantic articles that bother me as a journalist because nowhere in the article or on the webpage does it say “opinion” or “editorial.” Yet, in the first or second paragraph the author is describing a personal experience as if it’s fact. Well, I’ve experienced plenty, but I’d hope you’d consider the validity of your adviser before you accept or dismiss any advice. You’re not really reading until you read rhetorically, and that means questioning the very words written and those who wrote them.
There are “journalists” out there looking to write that piece that gets them Associated Press attention. I’ve written plenty of pieces of which I’m proud and none have drawn the eye of editors from my favorite publications. The best thing I’ve written was 450 words on how increasing funding for drug counseling would be more effective than expanding the jail given the methamphetamine problem in Eastern Montana and recidivism rates of drug addicts being incarcerated. I think it ran on page six, and it was some of the most objective work I’ve done. The jail expansion didn’t get enough votes that year, and that’s not even the success I was seeking. My intent was to convey a complex idea about methamphetamine use and how it was being inadequately and improperly treated in the area. I have no idea if my article on page six had any effect on the election, but I received great pleasure knowing that I had written something with the strict intent to inform in the most objective manner possible, despite my political leanings.
I guess that means if I was good enough for The Atlantic I’d be writing for The Atlantic. But editors at The Atlantic should be leading the charge when it comes to the presentation of journalism. Instead they expect people to know what to expect from their publication, which means their work isn’t subject to the same objective standards that newspapers still require.
I can confirm. Your local newspaper is still the most accurate and helpful news source you’ll find. The people putting that information together live in your community and are affected by the same information. You’re not going to get a more honest and objective attempt at journalism than you will from your local newspaper. The hardest job I had was attempting objective journalism for a community completely unlike me -- and I did that for almost five years.
You can watch all the television you want, but the information of highest quality and most objectivity is being provided by your local newspaper and NPR and PBS stations. The people in these professions don’t just have an obligation to provide the most objective news, they have a passion to do so. If you think this is a glamorous life, I can tell you it’s not. It takes a team of writers and a slew of interns to write an investigative piece on anything. And most of these people do it for the love of the game, not the money, because there is no money. There are fast food workers who make more than journalists.
So how can you tell if the information you’ve found is worth a damn? The first thing to do is consider the source. Most “journalists” providing content for a publication available strictly online are simply “content coordinators” or worse yet, “copywriters.” I am one of these content coordinators, and while I have five years of experience in the newspaper industry, being a journalist is just too hard. I took the easy way out that actually pays, and while I regret not seeing my name in print every few days and being held to a higher journalistic standard, I get to go to work everyday, or not go to work everyday and just work where I am, and write about what I want. I’ve been seeking a job that doesn’t feel like a job my whole life, and I’m lucky enough to have found it.
That doesn’t mean you can’t find honest information online. I’m trying to provide it and prove it exists. An author’s presentation of information will tell you a lot about the author. For instance, I make it clear I’m writing an opinion in the first word of my headline. Is your online source doing the same? If it’s not, how long before the author refers to herself or uses first-person narration? The use of “my” or “I” does not indicate an attempt at objectivity. They’re not even trying to be objective, but they might not be as obvious about it as I am.
I like to pursue objectivity on occasion. It’s a fantastic challenge for a writer, perhaps the best challenge (although I’ve just started writing children’s book, and they’re a lot harder than you’d think). But I realize everyone in the world doesn’t want to read my opinions. If they did this piece would be syndicated and published in every major paper in the country. But if just one reader happens to find something informative and helpful in my writing, I’ve done my job. That’s what journalists are supposed to be -- helpful. We are public servants. When there was an oil spill near the source for drinking water in my town, it was our job at the newspaper to get the word out about the quality of the drinking water as soon as possible. That information couldn’t wait for the next edition of the paper, but we and the radio journalists had to let people know if they could drink the water. That’s why we’re here.
That’s right, I said we. I called myself a content coordinator, but that doesn’t mean I don’t still aspire for the impossibility of objectivity. I told you I got out of newspapers because it was too hard. I’m a Socialist that reads The Militant, a newspaper that reports labor strikes around the world that never air on Fox News or MSNBC. I also grew up in Eastern Montana, and lived and worked there as a journalist for years before growing tired of failing -- failing to reach people and failing to inform.
My only goal in life has been to help people through words. When people ask me what I want to do with my life -- what my legacy will be -- the answer for years has been, “To be read.” I knew I was pretty good at this writing thing at a young age. I was lucky not to waste my time attempting something for which I wasn’t suited. “But you spent five years in pursuit of objectivity and failed” you might say. But failure in journalism is a lot like failure in baseball. I’ve written hundreds of articles, ranging from local (teachers’ union/school district contract negotiations), national (temporary halt on the XL Pipeline running through the land of one of our county commissioners), to sports (the 2015-16 Region XIII NJCAA men’s basketball runners-up at a school that might run out of funding and not exist). And now I’m writing about writing because I investigated what we’re now calling “fake news” and what I called “Gonzo rhetoric” back when I was completing my Master’s degree. The way information is being presented these days is hardly honest. Journalistic integrity has been sacrificed by journalists to be first to market, as if providing information is a business. It used to be a service, and now the federal government wants to get rid of some of those services, or just not inform the public publicly. Trump’s budget would cut all funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which got $445 million of the $4 trillion budget last fiscal year.
You don’t have to like NPR or read a newspaper to appreciate what I’m trying to convey. I mean hell, I’m calling myself on my own bullshit here. I’m a journalist turned content coordinator. Just because I can string together words in a way that persuades you to read on doesn’t give me the right to mislead you. And even if I attempt to mislead you, you are in the position of power. You can resist. Just simply ask yourself: “Is this an opinion or fact? Can I trust this author? Does she have my interests in mind?” Chances are if you’re watching television, the only interests they have in mind are those of their shareholders. The value of information means very little in television news. I’ve been in the industry, and they’d rather run videos of puppies rolling in poop than inform. Shit gets better ratings. You can change all that.
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