Tag Archives: Bright Shiny Objects

Hoarding: Finding Treasure in Your House [and Inbox]

Are you a hoarder? I don’t mean with pots of gold or stacks of Benjamins  in your house. What about your rebates, Groupons, Living Social purchases, dividends and other financial gifts? Is your entertainment or shopping budget under attack?

Gift Cards Spa Pass Museum PassIt’s October, so now is a great time to look around your home for some of the following items you may have forgotten about. Do you buy these and then forget to use them? Or do you buy things like this because they are ‘such a deal’, and then have no time or inclination to use them at all?

Gift Certificates: Did you receive a gift certificate to a very nice Seattle restaurant as a thank you from someone?

Gift Cards: What about those gift cards you received at holiday time? Have you used them yet? They are not as apt to expire now or have annual or monthly fees attached to them, as in years past. As an example, when I went shopping for a basic wardrobe item – a new cardigan sweater. I realized that I had a gift card that would lead me to a new sweater. (I also shop at consignment stores but this one was from Christmas, so it needed to be spent). I found one marked down 40%. Whew-a definite bargain. If I hadn’t remembered the gift card, I might have spent cash unnecessarily.

Day Passes for museums and attractions: Looking for a new place to visit on a rainy day, or to take visiting relatives? What day passes do you have in your possession that you may have forgotten about? Oops, I have one for the nearest science museum that’s been posted on my fridge for awhile. Will they still accept it? Better find out soon. The Burke is the local holder of some cool mammoth tusks.

Auction/Pledge drive items: Here are some auction items that I have paid for and not used:

Sit in on a local public radio show for two hours and watch the hosts at work.

Guest DJ at the local national award-winning dance radio station (run by high school students).

Salsa party night for 10 at a nearby ceramic painting studio-sigh. Maybe they are not all expired…

Deal of the Day sites. Have you ever bought a class, or a one night wonder event, or a discount gym membership from one of these? Mine was towards a Red Cross certification that I usually get for free. Not my smartest purchase.

I’m curious about why me and others might not use things like this immediately. Are you forgetful; do you think you ‘shouldn’t’ use these gifts; or is linked to the thrill of the hunt instead?

Since the fourth quarter is upon us (I won’t yet mention the names of all the holidays approaching), take some time for yourself and enjoy a past purchase or discovered treasure; or prepare to share ‘found’ items so that others can enjoy them!

Are there past shopping and bidding treasures in your house or inbox?

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Filed under First World Problems, Habits

5 Reasons Your Credit Report Matters

5 Reasons Your Credit Report Matters More Than You Think

Think of your credit report as giant file cabinet and the score as a point in time.

Your credit history here!

Your credit history here!

The report summarizes a lifetime of using credit and your score is a snapshot of your current situation plus your accumulated use of credit experience.

  1. The contents could be inaccurate (did you really live in Minnesota?)
  1. Not all creditors report to all three credit bureaus

What if you have something that is affecting your score, but you don’t know what it is. Pull reports from all three bureaus once a year to see how they are the same and what shows up on only one report.

  1. Is it really your credit report?

Two situations I’ve seen recently:

  • a dad and son with the same first and last names ended up with [unintentionally] shared debt on credit reports
  • a mom and daughter are co-signers – what if one person’s credit goes south?
  1. Inaccuracies/errors and outright falsehoods need to be fixed

Your report has contact information for creditors and the place to make a consumer statement about certain aspects of the report.

  1. Only looking at your scores, (available through Credit Karma, Discover, USAA to name a few) doesn’t help you improve them as fast. Without pulling the reports, you may not know the reasons your score is depressed, or the reasons your score is excellent. 65% of your score is derived from paying on time, every time and your credit utilization ratio (how much of your available credit are you using).

For example, one client I knew had an item from another state on her credit report, so she ignored it, as she had never visited that state. Turned out it was the billing headquarters for an old medical bill incurred in her home state. She needed to contact that creditor to resolve that item.  Another example, you and your spouse agreed to split debt payoffs in your divorce, but one of you has not lived up to that bargain. Make a consumer statement to that effect on your credit report.

Pulling your report is free if you use the legislatively created www.annualcreditreport.com.  For the last month I’ve been able to pull credit reports for service members and their families via http://www.saveandinvest.org. These reports include free scores from all three credit bureaus. FINRA  established this site which also includes calculators and how to check out a financial advisor.

Home

Bonus: New version of FICO  [9] will be treating old medical debt differently http://bit.ly/YH9cMJ

Related Link: Getting and Changing Your Credit Report from Debt Slapped Grad: http://bit.ly/1JfbLtb

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Filed under Be Prepared, Everyday Financial Tasks, Military, New to the Work Force

Your True Balance Sheet

Most times I work with a client, we make a balance sheet to show their net worth. This shows what you own, what you owe and shows the difference between them. Some years in life (with mortgages, business, car or education loans) it may be negative; other years it will be positive (with a good trend line).


But these numbers do not not capture your life’s true balance sheet.

  • Some elements of that here:
    Your dreams-what dreams of yours have come true? What dreams so you still have?’
  • Your relationships-family and friends, your business community, receiving a smile from a random person as you walk down the street, seeing a beautiful image, created or from nature; other moments of artistic bliss.
  • Your education and that of others-not your formal education, but the education from being a lifelong learner and seeing lessons shared with loved ones bear fruit in their lives. Being able to continue to grow.
  • Your capacity for love, empathy and compassion for others.

Those cannot be measured by mere numbers, but in the delight, joy and compassion you receive [or give] in your life.

All the best to you and your families, with best wishes for a joyous, abundant year to come.

Seattle's  Victrola Coffee 2012. Photo Credit Dana Twight

Seattle’s Victrola Coffee 2012. Photo Credit Dana Twight

 

Related Link: Share your values with your children; either in late night/early morning chats, stealthy emails or by writing an ethical will. Ethical wills have been used for 3,500 years. http://nyti.ms/1JS0tLv

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Filed under 12 Days of Christmas, Family Lessons About Money, Self Awareness

Bright Shiny Objects, #1

Earlier this month I visited some friends at their house. Their mail was delivered while I was there and I noticed that several credit card solicitations sat in the large pile of envelopes.

Credit Cards

Credit Cards (Photo credit: 401(K) 2012)

Besides not being the kind of mail that you look forward to receiving; these solicitations bring out the magpie in some people. Hence my reference to bright shiny objects. Not are only are these offers going straight to your shredder (NOT the recycle bin), they could represent a distraction from your financial planning by luring you into a glimpse of their promised riches, such as:

  • 40,000 “free” airline miles
  • free night at (insert hotel name here)
  • you are pre-approved (stroking your self-esteem)
  • credit limit of 5x your monthly earnings!

By visiting the website www.optoutprescreen.com or call toll-free 1-888-5-OPT-OUT. For more information on this topic, the Federal Trade Commission has an informative page here.

Disclaimer moment: I would also recommend completing this task on a private, closed computer, wi-fi network, or telephone landline. So not at the library or your neighborhood bar for security reasons.

Time to Complete: Ten Minutes (at most)

Benefits: Save trees, save time, and remember to use credit by choice, not by chance, and not due to a bright, shiny object dangling tantalizingly close to your face-or your wallet.

Opt-out

Opt-out (Photo credit: brr.kevin)

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Filed under Everyday Financial Tasks