Just Turned 18 and Need a Credit Card? Here’s How To get your First

So you finally reached 18. Awesome. As a legal adult, you can finally vote and, most likely, you’ll be headed off to college sometime soon. Also, ta-da!, you can finally get a credit card of your own.

While congratulations are in order, a little bit of caution is as well. Indeed, instead of jumping feet first into the deep end of the pool and getting herself several credit cards, you should probably just focus on getting one and making sure it’s the best for your needs and situation.

Now, we hate to sound like your mom, but the fact is that even though you’re old enough to get a credit card, you might not actually be ready to get one. Having credit means being responsible enough to use credit, well, responsibly, and not simply run up credit card bills beyond your ability to pay them back.

In fact, one of the worst things you can do for your credit (which, by the way, is vitally important) is to  go into debt up to your eyeballs because you didn’t realize just how much you had spent on your credit card.

With that in mind, here are a few pointers for getting your first credit card and using it responsibly. Enjoy.

First, in order to actually get your first credit card at 18, you need to have verifiable income that a bank or other lender can check, or else you’re going to need a cosigner. Also, since this is your first credit card, you won’t have any “credit history”, one of the primary factors that most credit card companies look at when you send in your application.

That means you’ll need to get yourself a job and have some type of steady income, even if it’s just part-time, in order to get your first credit card. Again, without it, you’ll  need a cosigner.

Next you need to find the best lender, and the best card, for your particular needs. Most of the major credit card companies have what they call a “student credit card” but, frankly, sometimes even though this sounds like a good idea, the higher interest rates and annual fees they charge can turn it into a bad one.

If you’ve had a checking or savings account in a local bank, getting a credit card through them will probably be quite a bit easier, especially if you’ve been responsible with either one of those two accounts.

Then there’s a credit card from a retail or department store, and you can be sure that most of them will bend over backwards to  give you one of their cards. However, most retail credit cards come with very high interest rates and aren’t very versatile, limiting what you can purchase but encouraging a spending spree that might just damage your credit badly.

In some cases you might need to start off with a secured credit card, which basically is like a debit card in that they secure it using your money. If you do that, and then can show a history of using it responsibly and paying your money back on time, most lenders will switch you to an unsecured credit card within a year or two. By the way, your credit report doesn’t show if a credit card is secured or not, so getting one doesn’t damage your chances of getting another, unsecured credit card.

Finally, don’t be discouraged if you don’t get approved right away. As a new adult, most banks and lenders will be a bit wary of giving you credit because, frankly, they don’t know whether or not you can handle it. If you can, and you’re responsible with your credit, you’ll find that a world of credit opportunities open up to you that can help you to purchase what you need and also save money on interest rates and fees when you make big ticket purchases like automobiles and homes in the future.

Have Bad Credit? Here’s a list of the Best Reasons to Repair It

A lot of Americans think that having bad credit only means they’ll have problems getting a credit card or possibly a car loan, but it actually goes much further than that. In fact, if your credit is really bad you might end up unable to rent an apartment, buy a car and even get a job.

That’s because, as credit records are made available to just about everyone, your credit history is available to the people that control the financial decisions in your life and, if it’s not good, they can make your life a living heck.

That’s why today we put together a blog with some of the Best Reasons to repair your credit. Enjoy.

Reason #1: Lower interest rates

Having bad credit causes banks and other lenders to charge you higher interest rates on everything from credit cards to car loans, mortgages and so forth.  Repairing your credit will go far towards lowering your interest rates (and saving you a lot of money).

Reason #2: Better rates for insurance

What most people don’t realize is that having bad credit can actually increase your insurance premiums, including your automobile, home and life insurance rates. Even worse, having bad credit, in some cases, means you’ll have to pay for more insurance, which obviously would increase your rates even more.

Reason #3: Lower security deposits

Every time you move you have to set up new services with utilities, including electric, gas, water, cable TV and Internet. If you have bad credit, those providers can charge you a higher deposit then if your credit’s good. In some cases, if you improve your credit score enough you won’t have to pay any deposit at all.

Reason #4: Get more credit

Having a bad credit score can, obviously, keep you from getting more credit if you need it. It can also negatively affect your credit utilization, which will increase fees, rates and interest. Fix your credit and, when you need it, you’ll be able to get more credit. (Just be careful with it.)

Reason #5: Easier apartment rentals

Today even apartment complexes will check your credit score and, if it’s not good, they may charge you a higher deposit or might not even rent to you at all. Renting a home might be more difficult also since most landlords these days will check your credit as well. Fixing your credit will go far towards helping you find a place to live that you love, rather than the only place that’s available.

Reason #6: Purchase a home

If you’ve got ugly credit most banks won’t even look at you until it’s been repaired. Even worse is that, if they do approve you, the interest rate that you’ll get on your new mortgage will be much higher than if your credit was good or close to perfect.

As you can see, there are plenty of excellent reasons to repair your credit, so don’t delay, get started fixing it today. For more information on how to do that, check out some of our other blogs and, if you still have questions, leave us a comment or send us an email and we’ll get back to you with advice and answers.

How to Create a Retirement Budget in 4 Easy Steps

We’ve said it many times here on our blog; creating and sticking with a budget is one of the best and smartest things you can do financially. The same thing goes for your retirement and, if you can properly calculate the amount of money you’re going to need once you stop working, the chance that you’ll be able to live in relative comfort during retirement increases substantially.

Unfortunately, only 1 out of every 10 Americans actually have a good idea about the amount of money they’ll need during retirement in order to maintain the standard of living that they’re used to. You don’t want to be one of those people, and for that reason we put together today’s blog to give you 4 easy steps to creating your own retirement budget. Enjoy.

Step 1: Get out your Calculator

If retirement is 5 to 10 years away, it’s the perfect time to start calculating how much you’re going to need for your “golden years”. One of the first things you should do is find a  “retirement calculator” (online) because it will help you immensely in determining what that number is, and what you should be shooting for, financially speaking.

Step 2: Out your Savings, 401K’s and any other IRAs you have

Right now, while you’re still working, is the time to set aside as much money as possible whenever you can. That includes;

  • Paying off your mortgage by putting any extra money you have towards your payments.
  • Contributing the max to any individual retirement accounts that you might have, including taking advantage of any company match on your 401(k)
  • Setting a strict budget and strictly sticking to it. This will not only help you to save money but also give you a much better idea of what you need in order to survive once you stop working
  • Fund your emergency account. Now especially, since you’re getting older, having emergency funds that you can access quickly is important.

Step 3: Know where your Income is coming from

Right now, as a member of the workforce, you know exactly where your income is coming from. Hopefully you have other sources, including pension and investments, that will provide you with income once your regular paycheck stops. Now is the time to review those income sources and figure out if they’re going to be enough to cover your expenses and living costs once your regular paycheck stops.

Step 4: Get rid of any unnecessary expenses

As retirement approaches, it’s time to cut back on anything unnecessary, including that big house, extra cars and even extra houses that you don’t use. While you might be able to afford all of the expenses now, once retirement hits your income will more than likely fall quite a bit, and the less expenses you have, the more money you’ll have in order to pay for those that are really necessary.

We just covered some basics in this 4-Step Retirement Budget blog. You’ll no doubt want to talk with your financial advisor to get as much information as you can, start planning very soon and get your financial house in order so that, on the day you say goodbye to the working world, your new retirement world looks sunny and bright.

The Do’s and Don’ts of choosing a Financial Planning Company

There’s no doubt that effective financial planning will help you to save money, invest that money correctly and also protect your money in the long run. It will also help you to make the best decisions when it comes to spending, both today and in years to come.

For that reason choosing the right financial firm is vitally important and, if that’s what you’re in the process of doing, the advice and tips below should definitely help. Enjoy.

The first thing you need to do is your due diligence and determine how long the company you’re considering using has been in business, how much experience they have and also their level of expertise. This includes:

  • How long they’ve been in business?
  • Do they have a history of stability or do they constantly react to market conditions?
  • Do they have a successful track record?
  • Do they have a positive reputation, excellent reviews and plenty of testimonials?

Knowing how your financial planning company works with clients is also vitally important information to know before you make a decision. The fact is, simply being a large firm doesn’t mean that a financial company is the best. A number of questions you definitely need to ask include:

  • Do they offer you a dedicated financial planner?
  • Does a team of advisers help you, or a phone center?
  • What does the company focus on?
  • What investment or product choices do they offer, and are they limited?
  • How are they compensated?

Next you need to know if the financial planning company you’re considering will be able to help you meet all of your financial needs. Let’s face it, there’s no reason to have several financial planners when a competent company should be able to handle everything. If they can’t, you should continue to search until you find one that can.

Another big consideration is simply this; how easy is it to get answers to questions that you have, or find someone who will answer those questions for you when you have them? After all, this company will be helping you with something extremely important to you, your family and your future. If you have questions or concerns but can never seem to get answers, you’re not only going to face financial difficulties but also a lot of frustration.

At the end of the day, choosing the right financial planning firm is a lot like choosing the right home. If you choose well, your home will protect you for many years to come, and the same thing goes for your financial planning company.