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correcting-credit-errors

7 New Year's Resolutions to Improve Your Credit

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7 New Year's Resolutions to Improve Your Credit

Whether or not you are a believer in New Year's resolutions it is a smart idea to take an honest look at your credit from time to time in order to see how it can be improved. Good credit can help you to save tons of money, get approved for the loans you need, and can even help you to land a better job. It is 100% worth your time, energy, effort, and money to work towards achieving and maintaining the best credit possible.

Here are 7 steps that every single person can take to make steps toward having better credit this year.

1. Pay every bill on time.

The importance of paying your credit obligations on time, every time cannot be overstated. In FICO's credit scoring model a whopping 35% of a consumer's credit scores are assigned based upon factors included in the "Payment History" category of a consumer's credit reports. If late payments do occur you can bet the bank that they will have a very negative credit score impact.

2. Cut spending.

Overspending is perhaps the #1 cause of credit problems for most Americans. When consumers charge more than they can afford to pay off in any given month not only do they hurt their credit scores by doing so (yes, credit card debt can in fact lower credit scores even when payments are made on time), but they also set themselves up for financial problems and serious credit problems in the future. In fact, overspending can lead to late payments, collections, judgments, and even bankruptcy if the problem is left unchecked.  

3. Make a plan.

Failure to plan is the same as planning to fail. A well planned budget is a crucial step towards healthier credit. Smart consumers tell their money where to go instead of wondering where the money went after it has already been spent. CLICK HERE for a free copy of the HOPE4USA Basic Budgeting Worksheet to get started.

4. Establish credit.

Credit cards can be extremely useful tools in building or rebuilding better credit, as long as they are managed properly (on-time payments and never revolving a balance from month to month). Even consumers with credit issues can qualify for many secured credit cards. CLICK HERE for a list of credit cards to compare and see which ones might be a good fit for you.

5. Become familiar with your credit reports and scores.

Every consumer should be in the habit of checking all 3 of his credit reports often. The credit bureaus and your creditors are obligated by law to report accurate information on consumer credit reports. However, it is up to you and you alone to ensure that the information contained on your credit reports is actually correct.

You can access your 3 free credit reports each year at www.annualcreditreport.com (credit reports only, not scores). You can also access your credit scores for a fee or as part of a free trial offer from a credit monitoring service. CLICK HERE to compare credit monitoring services which may offer free or low cost credit scores as part of their introductory offer.

6. Correct errors.

Errors occur on credit reports all the time. In fact, in 2013 the Federal Trade Commission released a study which found over 40 million errors to be present on consumer credit reports. If you discover incorrect or suspicious information on your credit reports then you have the right to dispute that information according to the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

Disputes can be handled yourself or you also have the right to hire a professional credit expert like our HOPE4USA team to assist you. CLICK HERE to schedule a no-obligation credit analysis with a HOPE4USA credit expert to learn more about how our team can help you fight for the better credit you deserve. Fixing credit problems can certainly be a difficult job, but it is not a job that you have to do alone.

7. Establish goals.

The final tip is perhaps the first step that you should take as you set out on your journey toward better credit. Identify the reason why you want to achieve better credit. Do you desire to purchase a home for your family? Is your goal to have the strong credit you need to finance your education or the education of your children? Do you need better credit to start or build a business? Building better credit can be a long, hard journey (especially if you are working alone without professional help). Your "why" can help you to stay the course even if you feel frustrated or impatient at certain points within your journey. Your "why" is also the reason that all of your hard work will be worth it in the end. 







michelle-black-credit-expert

Michelle Black is an author and a credit expert with over a decade of experience, the credit blogger at HOPE4USA.com, a recognized credit expert on talk shows and podcasts nationwide, and  a regularly featured speaker at seminars up and down the East Coast. She is an expert on improving credit scores, credit reporting, correcting credit errors, budgeting, and recovering from identity theft. You can connect with Michelle on the HOPE4USA Facebook page by clicking here.



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Why Doing "Nothing" Can Do So Much Harm to Your Credit

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Why Doing "Nothing" Can Do So Much Harm to Your Credit

Ignorance is bliss...or so the saying goes. However, when it comes to your credit reports and scores being ignorant can be a truly horrible strategy which can have some seriously negative consequences as well. People generally ignore their credit for one of two reasons. First, many consumers with good credit assume that everything on their credit reports is fine and do not even bother to check their reports until their next loan application. The second most common reason why consumers ignore their credit is due to the fact that it is so bad that they feel overwhelmed and powerless to change their credit situation. Regardless of the reason, ignoring your credit is a really bad idea.

Why Consumers with Good Credit Need Still Need to Pay Attention

If you always pay your bills on time and maintain very low or even $0 balances on your credit cards then odds are high that your credit scores are probably in pretty good shape. The truth is that you have the right to expect your credit reports to contain accurate information. However, the reality of how the credit scoring system works is that mistakes on credit reports happen. In fact the Federal Trade Commission released a study in 2013 which proposes that there were around 40 million mistakes on the credit reports of US consumers. Although the Fair Credit Reporting Act does give you the right to expect accurate credit reports, errors still occur every single day. What you may not realize is that the responsibility to make sure you credit reports remain error free lands squarely on your own 2 shoulders.

Credit reporting errors can range from insignificant with little to no credit score impact to all the way on the opposite side of the spectrum where the wrong credit reporting error can wreak utter havoc upon your credit scores. Thankfully, there are several options which make it extremely easy for you to keep a close eye on your credit reports in order to ensure that they remain accurate.

Option 1: In 2003, thanks to the FACTA amendment to the Fair Credit Reporting Act, consumers were given the right to access all three of their credit reports completely free of charge once every 12 months. To access these free credit reports you simply need to visit AnnualCreditReport.com. (Not-so-fun-fact: an average of only 4% of these available free reports are actually claimed by consumers annually.)

Option 2: If you are wise enough to understand the importance of keeping a close eye on your credit reports then you will also realize that checking your credit reports once a year is not going to be often enough. The good news is that there are many free options available to access and review your credit reports throughout the year - though this option can be a bit time consuming due to the fact that truly free reports can generally only be accessed one credit bureau at a time.

Option 3: Finally, there are also several affordable fee based credit monitoring services which will allow you to check an monitor all 3 of your credit reports and scores simultaneously and easily.

Why Consumers with Bad Credit Still Need to Pay Attention

There is no question that credit problems can feel overwhelming and insurmountable. When faced with credit problems the desire to stick your head in the sand and ignore them can be very tempting. Unfortunately, ignoring credit problems does not make them go away but only keeps you stuck in the same bad situation for longer than necessary.

Whether you choose to work on resolving credit issues yourself or to seek professional assistance with your credit problems you should make the decision to do something. No matter how bad your credit reports are currently - even if you are one day out of a freshly discharged bankruptcy - there are always steps which you can take to begin moving your credit back in the right direction.

CLICK HERE to schedule a no-obligation credit analysis with a HOPE4USA credit expert to learn how to improve your credit reports and what HOPE4USA can do to help.

CLICK HERE to download our free credit repair toolkit - no strings attached. 






ron-lambright-credit-expert

About the author: Ron Lambright has been a credit expert for over 14 years and is the Executive Director of HOPE4USA - a company he helped to found after struggling to overcome personal credit issues on his own twice before. He is a regular guest on radio talk shows and is featured weekly as the premier credit expert at training seminars in the Charlotte, NC region and up and down the East Coast.  Ron is an expert on teaching consumers how to achieve  "loan ready" credit reports, improving credit scores, and an expert in the fields of business financing and business credit as well. You can connect with Ron on Facebook page by clicking here.


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3 Reasons You Should Work with a Realtor When Buying or Selling a Home

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3 Reasons You Should Work with a Realtor When Buying or Selling a Home

It should come as no surprise that the majority of the clients we work with at HOPE4USA are working toward achieving better credit reports so that they can ultimately purchase a home. In truth, nothing gives our team of credit experts a greater sense of fulfillment than when one of our clients completes the HOPE Program and has credit reports ready to qualify for a mortgage. Talk about a great feeling!

As credit experts and credit restoration professionals we have a very unique perspective of the home buying process. We have seen homebuyers and sellers try to struggle through the complicated process of buying or selling on their own and, while it is not impossible for the savvy consumer to buy or sell without a Realtor, it is certainly a much more difficult and time consuming endeavor. In fact, for the average person making the decision to buy or sell without a Realtor is usually a recipe for disaster. Here are 3 reasons why working with a Realtor is almost certainly going to be in your best interest.

1. DIY Vs Professional Help

Sometimes it truly pays to hire a professional. Of course you have the right to buy or sell a home on your own, but if you are being honest with yourself then you know that you really should not expect the results to be the same. For example, it is also your right to cut your own hair, pull your own teeth, fix your own credit, or repair your own car. However, unless you have extensive training in the aforementioned areas then your hair, teeth, credit, and car would all likely be in much better shape if you left them in expert hands instead. The concept of working with a Realtor is no different.

Experienced Realtors are involved in home buying/selling transactions hundreds of times throughout their careers. Even if you have purchased or sold a few homes on your own in the past you still do not have the same level of experience that even a new Realtor would have. Having an expert working on your behalf pays.

2. Someone In YOUR Corner

Whether you are selling a home, buying an existing home, or building a new home it can be extremely beneficial to have someone in your corner during the process. If you are selling a home your Realtor will work to ensure that you get the top possible dollar for your property. (After all, the more you make the more commission your Realtor earns so there is a big monetary motivation for your seller's agent to do a great job for you.) If you are purchasing a new or existing home your Realtor can help to make sure that you get the most house possible for your money. Plus, as a buyer, having a Realtor is a practically a no-brainer due to the fact that your Realtor's commission is being paid by the seller of the home in the majority of cases.

3. The Contract

Whether you are selling a home our purchasing a home the real estate contract can be a tricky proposition to navigate without professional assistance. Contracts can serve the purpose of protecting buyers and sellers alike - allowing either party to walk away from the offer if certain conditions are not met. In extreme circumstances failure to properly draw up a real estate contract could even leave you vulnerable to a lawsuit.

How It All Boils Down

Even if you are a self sufficient, internet savvy, and extremely bright individual having a qualified professional represent you during the home buying or selling process can still be very valuable. Unless you have the time to become a real estate professional yourself (a very tall order to try to squeeze into an already busy life) then it is probably best to hire someone to represent you. Buying or selling a home can be an emotional and complicated ordeal not to mention that it will probably be among the most expensive financial transactions you make over the course of your lifetime. Having a reputable and experienced real estate professional in your corner is simply a smart decision.


michelle-black-hope4usa-credit-expert

Michelle Black is an author and a credit expert with over a decade of experience, the credit blogger at HOPE4USA.com, a recognized credit expert on talk shows and podcasts nationwide, a contributor to the Wealth Section of Fort Mill Magazine, and  a regularly featured speaker at seminars up and down the East Coast. She is an expert on improving credit scores, credit reporting, correcting credit errors, budgeting, and recovering from identity theft. You can connect with Michelle on the HOPE4USA Facebook page by clicking here. 






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