Vital Financial Updates Credit – Is it good or bad?

Parents trying to avoid the legacy of student debt

Bob Donaldson/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Many parents who are still paying their student loans are saving money for their children’s education. An expert recommends saving for children for their freshman year in a 529 plan, then have the students go after scholarships and grants.

Saving money: just another skill taught at college

Saving money is a skill largely learned in college, and while it seems hard at first, here are some simple tips to become an expert right when you get on campus.

After working an entire summer, I was on track to deplete my funds with great ease during my first semester of college. Mounting costs for textbooks and a new freedom to swipe my debit card whenever I wanted made controlling my spending more difficult than I would like to admit. But when shopping anxiety reared its evil head and my bank account was approaching nowhere fast, I became my own Suze Orman to learn the tricks of the trade.

1. Dont buy your textbooks

I know it sounds counter-intuitive, but its a classic freshman whoops. Hold off on buying your textbooks for a week or two. Chances are, if you go buy them all, you wont use half of them.

And if you do buy them, dont buy full-price, new books. Check out websites like Chegg or Amazon for deals, rent, or buy used. And dont forget to sell them back at the end of the semester.

2. Dont go out to eat

This one is tough – especially on the occasional…how shall we say…late night excursion. But as much as it stinks, stick to the dining hall food or go grocery shopping for favorites like fresh fruits.

And every once in a while when you decide to hit up Green Street for dinner, check the Hooked app before you decide a restaurant and follow deals that will save you money on your favorite foods.

3. Shop in cash

We have more anxiety over parting with cash compared to simply swiping our credit or debit cards. Its easy to keep swiping and avoid checking the balance of your bank account.

Instead of sinking into that pit of despair, take out a monthly amount in cash and use that for spending instead. Once you hit the end of your cash amount, youre out of money until the next month. Even if you falter and end up using your credit card anyway, this will help teach restraint and give you a real idea of how much you spend – and how quickly.

4. Get more inventive with your Friday nights

If you dont feel like going out, try to convince your friends to have a movie night in the dorms instead. Buy popcorn with your credits and hang out in the comfort of your own floor. This is especially great during those winter months where going out seems more like planning an excursion to Mordor than having a fun night on the town.

5. Get a job

This might seem obvious, annoying, ridiculous or any other combination of negative emotions. But even if you just get a job and quit after two weeks because you hate it so much, its a paycheck.

Most employers on campus are understanding of the student schedule and getting reduced hours and a schedule to meet your needs isnt as hard as it might seem. If your spending is really out of control, a minor income might be one of the only real solutions.

Emma is a junior in LAS.
egoodwi2@dailyillini.com

Millennials need to start saving for their future now

As students, we face many obstacles in finances including minimum wage pay, student loans and building credit. Despite the lack of knowledge the majority of young adults have regarding savings, investments and how to manage money. It’s actually vital that we start learning now in order to have a more comfortable future.

“Getting an early start is the best thing you can do for yourself, even if you’re not able to contribute much”, said Mark Miller, writer for RetiredRevised.com. “When you’re in your 20s and 30s, you’ve got plenty of time to benefit from the magic of compound interest and allow the market to bounce through periods of volatility.”

A report published by the Boston College Center for Retirement Research analyzes how much people should save, addressing factors such as age and salary percentage.

They found that the earlier you start saving, the less percentage of your salary you will have to invest in, and essentially, the sooner you are going to be able to retire.

If you are a student that doesn’t have an employer that provides benefits and a retirement plan, the best way to start saving is opening a savings account and contributing a little bit of your paycheck to the account every month.

Young, lower-paid workers are most likely to contribute below matching contribution rates. A recent study found that 40 percent of workers in their 20s contribute below the matching rate, versus only 20 percent of those in their 50s.

Even though retirement seems far off for young adults, not saving money at a young age could drastically affect a person’s life later on.

According to US News, “Compound interest has plenty of time to accumulate when you’re young, so you should take advantage of it while you can.”

Tracking what you spend and limiting yourself to a budget each month also helps you not carelessly spend your income and ensures you have money set aside for all your bills and expenses.

It’s good to get into the habit now, instead of waiting and having to learn everything all at once later on when you have more responsibilities, not only financially but in every aspect of life.

The first is to start researching, reading and planning. We already do that in school, so it’s nothing out of the ordinary to research something that is beneficial to your life outside of class.

An article in USA Today analyzed a survey done by the non-profit Employee Benefit Research Institute, and found that almost a third of workers — 28 percent — say they have less than $1,000 in savings and investments that could be used for retirement.

Often people want to continue working until later in life, but the survey found that 50 percent of retirees left the workforce earlier than planned, and of those, 60 percent left because of health or disability problems and 27 percent because changes in their company such as downsizing or closure.

Sometimes, we cannot control what life throws at us. Events happen unexpectedly that could affect your career, your health, and the well-being of yourself or the ones you love.

Don’t wait until it’s too late to prepare for your future. Start learning and saving now to be prepared for everything that is to come in your life.

Opinion columnist Rebekah Barquero is a print journalism sophomore and may be reached at [emailprotected]

Three Ways to Maintain Good Credit

WASHINGTON, Aug. 18, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ –Your credit history is your financial reputation. And just like your professional and personal reputations, your credit history takes many years to cultivate, can be easily damaged, and will follow you the rest of your life.

Sound intimidating? Good. Are you scared? Dont be.

Yes, maintaining good credit is important. Nearly everyone will need to borrow money from a lender at some point say, for buying a car and your credit history determines whether you qualify for a loan and, if you do, what interest rate you pay. It can make or break your application for a credit card. A prospective landlord can check it to judge whether youll be a responsible tenant. Potential employers may request your credit reports to see if there are any red flags.

Luckily, many resources are available to help you learn how to successfully establish and maintain a healthy financial reputation. Here are three tips for creating a stable foundation for good credit.

1. Monitor your credit reports. Understanding your financial habits such as payment history and spending patterns can help you improve them! Your score is generally based on information in your credit reports. Mistakes on your credit reports could hurt your credit score, so check them regularly. Make sure to check that your reports dont contain any errors, such as incorrect contact information, closed accounts listed as open, or an item like an unpaid debt listed twice.

If you find something wrong in a credit report, you should contact both the credit reporting agency that produced it and the creditor that provided the information.

2. Pay your bills on time. This is one of the simplest ways to keep your credit score strong yet, with the bustle of everyday life, it can be easy to lose track of time and miss payment deadlines. Set up auto-payments or electronic reminders to ensure that you wont be hit with late-payment penalties. Paying bills late can hurt your credit score, which in turn can raise your interest rate meaning that youre out even more money.

Its a common misconception that the best way to improve a credit score is to pay off all of your accounts and close them. Get up to speed on your payments and stay on schedule, but be careful when closing accounts. Doing so eliminates some of the credit available to you, making balances appear higher when compared with the combined credit limit of all of your accounts. Also, if you managed an account well and made payments on time, closing it will remove all the positive benefits of your responsible credit behavior on your reports and score.

3. Dont get close to your credit limit. Credit scoring models look at how close you are to being maxed out, so keep your balances low in proportion to your overall credit. Experts advise keeping your use of credit to no more than 30 percent of your total credit limit. That means that if you have $12,000 of available credit on one open account, you shouldnt use more than $3,600.

You can decrease your credit utilization ratio over time by paying as much of your credit card balance as possible each month. If you can, pay more than the minimum balance due; this will increase your available credit and decrease your utilization ratio faster.

Just like a shining professional reputation can take you far in your career, your credit score can make or break your financial status. To learn more about how to establish a stellar financial reputation, visit FinancialProtection.USA.gov.

To learn about more topics, go toUSA.gov andGobiernoUSA.gov, the US Governments official websites in English and Spanish, and part of the US General Services Administration (GSA).

Logo – http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20150731/252449LOGO

SOURCE USA.gov

3 Money-Saving Tips When You’re Earning Minimum Wage

Source: Pictures of Money via Flickr.

Earning minimum wage can be difficult on an individual or their family for a variety of reasons. One of the big ones is their likely inability to save for retirement. While some minimum wage workers might think that theyll just work forever, our physical health, an unexpected emergency, or even our employer may interfere with that plan. Thats why its important for everyone, even workers earning minimum wage — of which there were 3.3 million in 2013 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics — to take steps now to save for retirement. 

With this in mind, we asked three of our top retirement contributors to offer guidance geared toward minimum-wage workers that could hopefully put them on the path to saving money. Heres what they had to say. 

Sean Williams
Living on minimum wage isnt easy, but one tactic that can make it easier (and this goes for Americans of all incomes) is formulating a budget.

I know what youre probably thinking: A budget sounds difficult and time-consuming. Nowadays its neither, since you can find computer programs that take care of the addition and subtraction for you. All it takes is you entering your expenses and revisiting those expenses once a month (give or take) for a few minutes to determine whether or not youre still on track.

Source: Social Security Administration.

A budget is critical, because far too many Americans dont understand their cash flow. You might have a good idea of how much youre making on a weekly or bi-weekly basis when you get your paycheck, but ask American workers where their money has gone by the end of the month and youll likely get a shoulder shrug. Formulating a working budget allows minimum wage workers to better understand their cash flow so they can maximize their saving potential.

Two important points worth noting here: First, a budget can be fluid — life changes happen all the time, and your budget doesnt have to be a set in stone spending pattern that can never be altered. Second, the power of time and compounding can improve anyones retirement situation.

Imagine this: a worker who can save just $20 per week, or $1,040 per year, over the course of 49 years (assume our fictitious worker manages to start saving at age 18 and retires at age 67), and who nets 8% per year on their money (the historical return of the stock market), would have more than $600,000 waiting for them upon retirement. That money, along with Social Security benefits and some budgeting, could lead to a comfortable retirement.

Dan Caplinger
Most minimum wage jobs dont give you the chance to save for retirement through a 401(k) or other employer-sponsored plan. But the federal government gives low-income workers a matching contribution of its own through whats known as the Retirement Savings Contributions Credit, or the Savers Credit for short.

Source: Social Security Administration.

The Savers Credit offers you money back for up to $2,000 in contributions to an IRA or other retirement plan account. The amount you get depends on your income, with joint filers in 2015 earning $36,500 or less and single filers earning no more than $18,250 getting a 50% credit. Smaller credits of 20% or 10% apply to those earning as much as $61,000 for joint filers and $30,500 for single filers, so even those who make somewhat more than minimum wage can take advantage of the Savers Credit provisions.

The one downside of the Savers Credit is that its not a refundable credit, so if you dont have any tax liability, you wont get any benefit from the credit. Nevertheless, even some minimum-wage workers earn enough income to owe at least some income taxes; if that applies to you, then a good way to wipe your taxes out is by saving whatever you can afford to set aside for your long-term retirement needs.

Brian Stoffel
There are lots of excuses that people give for not having saved up enough for retirement. But I believe one of the least appreciated reasons is simply that we are terrible at knowing what makes us happy, and spend far too much on stuff that doesnt really add any value.

Source: Flickr user Andrew Stawarz.

Obviously, when you are earning minimum wage, this type of problem is the least of your concerns — as just getting bye is far more pressing. But if you believe that better days (financially) are ahead for you, this period of minimum wage work could represent a golden opportunity.

Because you dont have the resources to make impulse buys, you are forced to figure out what your own level of Enough really is. Then, when you do get a raise or better paying job, you can maintain your level of consumption and bank the rest of your income into investments.

If youre looking for inspiration, Tesla CEO Elon Musk once spent a month living on just a dollar per day to prove that he could physically survive if his entrepreneurial pursuits went bust. As we all know, he didnt have to worry about that. But because he found his level of Enough, everything beyond that has been icing on the cake.

AHA Issues ICD-10 Homestretch Checklist for Hospital Leaders

The American Hospital Association (AHA) has released an ICD-10 Homestretch Checklist to help hospital leaders finalize their action plans for October 1, 2015 ICD-10 implementation. The AHA urges hospital leaders to share this checklist with their ICD-10 transition team as yet another means to promote active readiness discussion. The AHA confirms a tri-fold objective of focus at this stage in the ICD-10 game is imperative for future success: checking internal systems, verifying external partner readiness, and considering financial protections.

Check internal systems

  • The AHA recommends authenticating whether or not an organizations systems and applications including vendor software updates are prepared when the ICD-10 deadline hits.
  • Evaluate if more training needs to be conducted to make sure staff members, coders, clinicians, etc. are well prepared.
  • Collectively assess documentation improvement efforts. Consider the currently implemented tools used to assist physicians plan and prepare supportive ICD-10 documentation.
  • Ensure accessibility on behalf of your coding team to access coding guidelines, confirms AHA.
  • Guesstimate to what extent coding productivity will decrease. Consider hiring additional short-term staff to close alleged future gaps.

Verify external partner readiness

  • Make sure health plans and other trading partners are well prepared for the ICD-10 transition. The AHA advises finalizing communication plans and policies among various organizations.
  • Gather emergency Medicare contractor and commercial insurers contact information to help smooth the aftermath of claims being delayed, AHA recommends.
  • Record what may not be amply covered by HIPAA perhaps workers compensation or automobile insurance, for instance. The AHA confirms making sure those specific steps needed to limit payment delays from these payers are clearly confirmed.

Consider financial protections

  • AHA confirms it is vital to track current claims volume with verified metrics tied to monetary amounts. Doing so will formalize a baseline for tracking upcoming claims volume submitted and processed.
  • When October 1, 2015 hits, AHA advises carefully tracking the status of submitted claims to avoid future financial hardship. Consider that claim status inquiries can be obtained via health plans through a web portal or through a health plan utilization of the HIPAA transaction standard for claim status.
  • The AHA additionally confirms the importance of understanding trading partners policies and processes related to advance payments if payment delays become a reality. Consider that the Centers for Medicare amp; Medicaid Services (CMS) has available resources to tuck into your back pocket now to prepare for upcoming financial struggles if a lag with Medical billing or payments occurs.
  • Lastly, the AHA advises establishing credit lines that can be activated if the normalized revenue cycle is negatively impacted by processing delays following the ICD-10 switchover on October 1.

The healthcare industry waits to see what the ICD-10 aftermath will be upon the realm of revenue cycle management. There is still time to amp up preparation needs and perhaps consider one, several, or all of the aforementioned pieces of advice from the AHAas the next approximate 6 weeks unfold and the ever familiar chapter of ICD-9 closes.

Getting a Balloon Loan with Bad Credit

A balloon car loan can mean a lower monthly payment, but consumers with less than perfect credit will find it hard to qualify for one.

Balloon Car Loan

A balloon car loan is much like leasing a vehicle. Typically, borrowers put little or no money down. And while interest rates are about the same as a regular car loan, the monthly payment is lower because, like a lease, it’s usually based on some combination of the vehicle’s depreciation plus the monthly interest charges.

Like a lease, this leaves a large balance at the end of the contract. But unlike a lease, the borrower simply can’t turn in the vehicle to the lender, since the borrower, not the lender, holds the title.

But borrowers at this point still have a number of options:

  • They can pay off the remaining balance and own the vehicle outright.
  • They can refinance the vehicle and continue to make monthly payments until it’s paid off.
  • They can sell the vehicle outright or trade it in on another car.

The only problem with a balloon loan is that consumers who might see an advantage in this type of financing had better have good or even great credit, because high-risk lenders don’t offer this kind of financing. Here’s why:

Why Subprime Lenders Don’t Offer Balloon Car Loans

The reason subprime lenders don’t offer balloon loans is that, like a lease, the value of the vehicle being financed is usually less than its market value during the entire loan term. This means that if the borrower misses or stops making payments, the lender faces a greater chance of losing money if the car has to be repossessed. This makes this type of vehicle loan riskier than a conventional car loan.

As a result lenders, if they offer balloon car loans, usually only approve them for their most qualified customers borrowers with very good to excellent credit. For credit-challenged consumers this means that there is very little hope they will qualify for this type of used or new car loan.

The Bottom Line

While a balloon car loan can reduce the monthly payment on a vehicle, lenders that offer these loans, because of the higher risk involved, usually only approve them for their most credit-worthy borrowers.

Fortunately, for a good many credit-challenged borrowers, there is an option. At Auto Credit Express we match people that have experienced credit difficulties with new car dealers that can offer them their best opportunities for approved auto loans.

So if you’re ready to reestablish your car credit, you can begin now by filling out our online auto loan application.

Short Interest Update on PartnerRe Ltd. (NYSE:PRE)

PartnerRe Ltd. has dropped 0.13% in the last five trading days, however, the shares have posted positive gains of 5.01% in the last 4 weeks. PartnerRe Ltd. is up 3.21% in the last 3-month period. Year-to-Date the stock performance stands at 23.08%.

PartnerRe Ltd. (NYSE:PRE): The mean estimate for the short term price target for PartnerRe Ltd. (NYSE:PRE) stands at $132.15 according to 10 Analysts. The higher price target estimate for the stock has been calculated at $141 while the lower price target estimate is at $111.

On a different note, The Company has disclosed insider buying and selling activities to the Securities Exchange, The director, of Partnerre Ltd, Twomey Kevin M had unloaded 19,663 shares at $138.4 per share in a transaction on August 5, 2015. The total value of transaction was $2,721,359. The Insider information was revealed by the Securities and Exchange Commission in a Form 4 filing.

PartnerRe Ltd. (PartnerRe) is the ultimate holding company for its international reinsurance group. The Company provides reinsurance on a global basis through its wholly owned subsidiaries, including Partner Reinsurance Company Ltd. (PartnerRe Bermuda), Partner Reinsurance Europe plc (PartnerRe Europe) and Partner Reinsurance Company of the US (PartnerRe US). Its risks reinsured include property, casualty, motor, agriculture, aviation/space, catastrophe, credit/surety, engineering, energy, marine, specialty property, specialty casualty, multiline and other lines and mortality, longevity and health. The Company also offers alternative risk products, which include weather and credit protection to financial, industrial and service companies on a global basis. In January 2013, the Company acquired Presidio Reinsurance Group. In March 2013, the Company announced the formation of Lorenz Re Ltd.

Is Bad Credit Harming Your Quality of Life?

You may be aware of the fact that damaged credit can make it difficult to get approved for a loan or a credit card. But having a low credit score can have a negative impact on parts of your life that you may not have considered vulnerable.

Categories Affected by Finances

When you stop and think about the limitations that credit problems can impose, it seems impossible to deny the importance of keeping your credit rating strong. And you may not even realize that your finances are as troubled as they are until you are denied a particular privilege.

  • Car Insurance: Some insurance companies have determined that there is a connection between poor credit ratings and reckless driving, so they penalize bad credit drivers with higher premiums. Individuals with the worst credit have even been denied coverage entirely. Fortunately, some states have deemed this practice illegal.
  • Renting: This is an interesting kind of arrangement. While paying your rent regularly and on time will do nothing to improve your credit, your tarnished credit can keep you from being allowed to rent a property. Very often, landlords perform credit checks on potential tenants and deny applicants with significant credit issues.
  • Employment: You can be denied a job due to a subprime credit score, and actual statistics support this claim. It appears that 1 in 4 Americans have had to go through an employer credit check, and 1 out of 10 job seekers have been denied work because of bad credit. Defending this practice, many employers claim that there is a correlation between financial difficulties and work performance. However, there is currently a huge push to prevent employers from using credit as a factor when filling job positions.
  • Stress: Yes, there is the inconvenience that comes with having limited purchasing power, but there is also a great deal of shame attached to the burden of ruined credit. Even though the Recession normalized bad credit to a certain extent, consumers are still embarrassed by the inability to buy certain things. And anyone who has ever had a credit card declined, had their wages garnished, or received collection calls at work knows that financial woes can cause a tremendous amount of anxiety.

Getting Back in the Game

It will take time and considerable effort, but you can repair your credit and get your life back on track. And one of the best ways to build credit is to use credit, ideally in the form of an installment loan. With this kind of financing, every timely payment that you make will increase your credit rating. This arrangement works extremely well if you are in the market for reliable transportation to serve your daily needs. A bad credit auto loan offers the perfect type of installment plan for credit repair.

Getting Started

When you decide to get your credit back on track with affordable vehicle financing, Auto Credit Express can help you find a loan that is the perfect fit for your situation. Our process is easy and open to applicants with every type of credit background.

Put your past behind you and move towards the future that you deserve by filling out our fast and secure online application.

Miami-Dade officer pleads guilty to fraud for role in credit-repair ring

Moonlighting on the job, a Miami-Dade County cop wrote 159 police reports claiming people with bad credit histories were “victims” of identity theft, according to court records.

The reality: Veteran Miami-Dade police officer George Price fabricated the reports and sold them so they could be used to remove blemishes from the purported victims credit histories.

Price, 42, pleaded guilty to a conspiracy charge Friday for his supporting role in an alleged credit-repair ring. Price, who joined the force in 1999, must resign by next week.

He faces up to 20 years in prison on his fraud conviction, but is expected to receive a significantly shorter sentence because he pleaded guilty and has agreed to assist the FBI and US attorney’s office in their investigation, according to a plea deal signed by Price, his defense attorney, Marshall Dore Louis, and the prosecutor, Michael Davis.

In the end, Price didn’t make much for exploiting his badge: $7,000. He must turn over to the feds the bribery payments he received in 2010-11.

Price was not operating alone.

Through an intermediary, he was working for Vanessa and Mario Perez, a Miami-Dade couple who already pleaded guilty. They made more than $322,000 by clearing up the lousy credit reports of people with bad bill-paying histories, according to court records.

Price and at least three other police officers and an unnamed person wrote 215 falsified police reports for $200 to $250 a pop that the couple used to claim their customers were victims of identity theft — when they were not, court records show.

Vanessa Perez’s “intermediary” in dealing with Price was Mitchell Page, one of her customers and a friend of the officer’s. Last year, Page pleaded guilty for his role. A statement filed with his plea agreement noted that Page “would deliver a portion” of each bribe payment to Price and “keep the remainder for himself.”

Also charged earlier this year with Price: fellow Miami-Dade police officer Rafael Duran, 43, who has pleaded not guilty and is awaiting trial.

Also named in the alleged scheme: the couple’s assistant, Fatima Ruiz. She is accused of helping obtain false police reports and writing letters about the ID theft “victims” to the credit reporting agencies, Equifax, Transunion and Experian. Ruiz is also accused of providing the couple’s funds to Page to pay off Price, and of compensating the officer for false police reports to benefit her own credit-repair business, court records show.

The false ID theft claims provided the couple’s clients — who paid $1,500 each for the Pereze’ services — with an official excuse for their bad credit histories so they could get negative items removed from their reports, according to court records. In turn, the customers could boost their credit scores with reporting agencies and obtain credit cards, loans and other financing again.

Duran is also accused of writing additional police reports for himself and a “personal associate” — claiming they were victims of ID theft — then signing another officer’s name to the documents to avoid getting caught, according to the indictment.

Duran’s defense attorney, Douglas Hartman, said his client was an actual victim of ID theft and hired Vanessa Perez in 2010 to help clean up his credit mess before eventually firing her. Duran, who joined the Miami-Dade police in 1994 and worked in the sexual victims bureau before being relieved of duty, has pleaded not guilty and plans to go to trial.

Two other former veteran police officers, Richard Muñoz, 45, and Lazaro Fernandez, 40, who respectively worked in the cities of South Miami and Miami, also pleaded guilty to participating in the couples scheme.

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