Tag Archives: Financial education

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.

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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

Guide on the Side vs. Sage on the Stage

Recently I was speaking with a small group and mentioned that my style was to be the “Guide on the Side” instead of the “Sage on the Stage”. This is a phrase I picked up from my time hanging about with classroom teachers. The source for this phrase is from  1993 article by Professor Alison King.

Here’s what the phrases mean. Well, really what I mean, within the context of financial education and learning. Feel free to chime in by making a comment below.

Sage on the Stage: In the old days, the teacher was the only one talking and spent all of her/his time in the front of the room talking offering knowledge to their students. Very little feedback was sought and was often punished if unwanted comments or questions were asked. Did you have any educational experiences like this?

As with other institutions, there was only one perspective shared and/or valued. You had to conform to the teacher’s style.

Students were expected to listen, take notes, memorize, then regurgitate upon request.

Guide on the Side: Using this style, the educator/leader walks along side the students, instead of leading from the front. I am reminded of Paulo Freire when I think of this:

“It should not involve one person acting on another, but rather people working with each other. Too much education, Paulo Freire argues, involves ‘banking’ – the educator making ‘deposits’ in the educatee.” (Source the non-profit site infed.org)

Ô Homi (Paulo Freire)

Ô Homi (Paulo Freire) (Photo credit: paulicasantos)

When I work with clients, I want to be their “Guide on the Side”. Sometimes people say to me, ” I don’t know anything at all about money/investing/finances”. Well, of course you do. That is a given. How much do you need to know? That is a subject for a first meeting…And a two-way conversation.

First, I like to learn about your family lessons about money, finances and savings, plus how you have implemented those lessons-or not.

  • Are you a spender or a saver?
  • How much financial news do you consume?
  • What worries you?
  • What do you take pleasure in doing?

My job is to help you move forward from where you are; after understanding about how you got there. It is an interactive experience, where your perspective matters-a lot. If we don’t move forward together, we go nowhere.

education

education (Photo credit: Sean MacEntee)

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Filed under Learning About Finance