blog, John J. Bowman Jr Accountant, John J. Bowman Jr. Accountant, personal finance

Improving a FICO Score in Four Steps

A high FICO score can unlock many doors for consumers, including the doors to low mortgage interest rates, attractive credit card offers, and zero-interest car loans. A low FICO score, however, keeps many of those entrances locked and creates a far more expensive borrowing experience. To improve a credit score and gain access to all the benefits afforded, borrowers can try these steps.

Paying bills before the due date

Over one-third of a FICO score is determined by a borrower’s compliance (or lack thereof) with payment due dates. Thus, when a creditor pays a bill late, it is reported to the credit bureaus and can have a devastating impact on a credit score. Paying bills early and maintaining automatic bill pay through a bank can help ensure consistent, timely payments and remove the risk of garnering a low score due to late payments.

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John J. Bowman Jr Accountant, John J. Bowman Jr. Accountant, personal finance

4 Reasons People Accumulate Debt

22 trillion. That’s how many dollars the United States of America owes to world powers such as China. Debt can be a worrisome four-letter word, not just for the country as a whole, but for its independent cogs and gears as well. While the average American doesn’t owe $22 trillion of their own cash, debt is still a reality for many. Below are four ways debt can accumulate. Do you recognize any of these in your own life?

Credit cards

Plastic beats paper in the world of transactions; over the past several years, cash payments have increasingly given way to credit and debit card charges. And, while 90 percent of consumers still use cash for some purchases, the age of credit card swiping and chip reading draws closer. However, credit cards make it easier for consumers to purchase items, sans the lighter wallet. Credit card debt has steadily risen over the past five years, and it can be easy to fall down a rabbit hole of debt if paying by card is your preferred method of shopping.

Poor spending habits

We’ve all splurged on a snack at the grocery store or a newly-released book. While the occasional treat is fine, purchasing a treat every day is a red flag. Poor spending habits are easy to fall into and difficult to climb out of, particularly if you aren’t the only member of the household struggling to save. Taking time to learn how to manage money is vital for anyone who wants to avoid falling into debt. In fact, creating a personal spending rulebook can help you and your household members understand the impulses behind your spending and ways to avoid personal debt.

Gambling

Any casino from NYC to Vegas employs psychological and mathematical tactics to take your money. From the absence of windows and clocks to lengthy slot machine algorithms, casinos are practically vacuums for your wallet. Gambling disorder is officially recognized by the DSM-5 as a psychiatric concern, and the impact it has on one’s money is no joke. Avoiding the casino is a sure-fire way to not waste your money, and there are plenty of free ways to have fun.

Loans

From student loans to mortgages, this type of debt is often the least controllable. While one can practice appropriate spending and avoid gambling or credit card usage, loans are often necessary to move forward in life. In this case, the best strategy is to stay on top of the debt and follow a strict regime for saving up to pay them off.

This article was originally published at JBowmanAccountant.info.

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blog, John J. Bowman Jr. Accountant, personal finance, Uncategorized

Great Ways to Boost Your Credit

One of the many ways we are “defined” by society, is by our credit score and history.  Your credit information has a very significant impact on not only your personal finances but also a majority of your life and different events you may experiences, such as buying your first home.  The first step in credit management is establishing your credit score. Once this is done, it’s important to remember that you’ll want to continue to build your credit up in various ways; you can do this by gradually making small credit charges or larger transactions such as financing or leasing your first vehicle.  Always remember that any credit charges you make need to be paid back within a specific period of time, and late payments can negatively impact your score, as well as result in late charges and higher interest payments. Here are some great tips for boosting your credit:

Make Payments On-Time

Whenever you make a credit charge, you should keep the payment due date noted somewhere where it will help you remember.  Credit cards are a great tool for boosting your credit when they are used properly; however, they can do more harm than good when they aren’t managed correctly.  Any credit card charges you make should always be paid on early or on time. This will give you a good rapport with the credit company, as well as boost your score.  You’ll also avoid any late charges, and you’ll have a better chance of getting future credit cards and other purchases with low-interest rates.

Avoid Making Minimum Payments

While minimum payments are an option that you’ll usually see when you’re making a payment, it’s best to pay your bills in full if you can…

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blog, John J. Bowman Jr Accountant, personal finance

How To Eliminate Credit Card Debt

Carrying thousands of dollars worth of credit card debt is a burden that many individuals experience. If you dread viewing your credit card statement, you’re not alone. A recent study found that the average US household carries $16,061 worth of credit card debt (Issa). It seems that as the cost of living increases so does the amount of debt that Americans carry. If you are serious about eliminating your credit card debt, take a look at the below credit card debt elimination strategies.

Don’t Use Your Card

This is one of the simplest strategies to eliminate debt, but it’s also one of the hardest habits to break. Many consumers are used to using their credit cards to purchase everything. If you want to eliminate debt, though, you have to put the card away for good. Don’t buy anything unless you have the cash to pay for it. This strategy will also help you think about your spending habits. Be honest with yourself and determine whether or not you use your credit card to purchase unnecessary items. Remember, the first step to eliminating debt is to not increase the amount of debt you carry.

Pay More Each Month

The way to eliminate debt quickly is to pay more than the minimum balance each month. Interest charges pile up each month, and unless you pay more than the minimum, you’ll spend years paying off your debt. When you add more money to your payment each month, you also end up saving money that would otherwise go toward interest charges.

Consider Your Repayment Options

  • Snowball Method – Look at all of your credit card debt. Pay the minimum balances on each card except one. Each month focus on paying over the minimum balance for that card. Most people choose the card with the smallest balance as the one to focus on. Once the debt is eliminated move on to the next card and repeat the process.
  • Debt Ladder Method – List each of your credit cards from the highest interest rate to the lowest interest rate. Then pay the minimum balance on every card except the one with the highest interest rate. Every month you pay more on this card to eliminate it quickly. This method is similar to the Snowball Method, but you focus on interest rates instead of balances.

Utilize Your Savings

Keeping money in a savings account is important—especially for emergencies. Yet if you have a lot of money saved and you owe a lot of credit card debt, it might make more sense to use your savings to eliminate credit card debt. The interest rates on your credit cards are likely high while your savings account interest rates are low. If you don’t pay off your credit card debt quickly, it will continue to increase. Take care of your debt first and then focus on your savings.

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