Thanksgiving Roundup: 10 Financial Things That Will Make You Grateful

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Thanksgiving is a time for reflection and gratefulness, but credit damage, rising costs, stagnant wages and job loss may have you feeling less than enthused this year. Don’t ruin your holiday season with doubt and darkness. Take stock of the financial benefits at your fingertips. The following items are sure to give you a fresh perspective.

  1. Retailer competition. Black Friday isn’t the only day of the year that retailers compete for your business. The marketplace is filled with fierce competition surrounding pricing and perks, and deals aren’t limited to store shelves. Credit card companies regularly offer zero percent introductory APR, cash back, frequent flyer miles and other benefits to outpace the competition. As a consumer with good credit, you’ll have businesses fighting for your attention.

  2. Credit reporting transparency. Credit reporting was once a mysterious process, and consumers weren’t even allowed to see their own files until the Fair Credit Reporting Act was enacted in 1970. Before this piece of legislation, borrowers were at the mercy of the credit bureaus that housed this information but provided no access, validation or dispute process. Under the FCRA, you have the right to pursue all of these actions, in addition to obtaining free annual copies of your credit reports from TransUnion, Experian and Equifax.
  3. Credit score access. In addition to reporting files, scoring is another important piece of the credit puzzle. Although the credit bureaus do not provide them for free, a few dollars will give you access to your rating—a number between 300 and 850—that measures your creditworthiness. The credit bureaus have also shared the Five Factors that contribute to credit score calculations, allowing you to focus on the areas that matter when pursuing a better score.

  4. Borrowing regulations. The subprime mortgage crisis was a major factor in the stock market crash of 2008. In response, the Dodd-Frank legislation of 2010 included the Ability to Repay rule which requires lenders to examine a complete picture of income, debt, savings and assets before approving a mortgage. They must also ensure that qualified mortgages do not:
    • Exceed a loan term of 30 years
    • Exceed 43 percent of the borrower’s debt-to-income ratio
    • Exceed three percent in fees for loans more than $100,000
    • Offer interest –only repayment that allows the loan balance to accrue

Rules may seem restricting, but the Ability to Repay acts as a safeguard in the home-buying process. Consider yourself fortunate if you plan to purchase property in 2016.

  1. Federal interest rates. In partnership with mortgage regulations, low federal interest rates provide an easier path to homeownership. The average rate for a 30-year fixed mortgage was 4.09 percent on November 18. Good credit combined with a satisfactory down-payment and low interest rate means affordable payments over the life of your mortgage.

  2. Federal income tax rates. In 1963, a married couple earning $44,000 per year paid 59 percent in federal income taxes. Today, the same couple pays only 15 percent. You may dread tax season, but the evolution of tax law is something we can all be thankful for.
  3. Free credit education. The web has opened a world of education to the average consumer, full of information and tutorials on every subject. Credit repair is no exception in this category. What was once a vague process is now a common discussion topic on sites like MSN Money, GoBankingRates and CreditRepair.com. Review our blog for helpful topics and seek out other sources of education. There has never been an easier time to learn.

  4. A better budget. The average person wastes thousands of dollars each year on uneaten food, unnecessary purchases and financial carelessness. The good news: it’s easy to put lost wages back in your pocket. Download our free interactive budget to help you track spending, learn to save and plan for the future. The New Year is the perfect time for a fresh start.

  5. Credit counseling services. If you’re stuck in a financial rut, credit repair services are an effective way to improve your life without stumbling along the way. Every consumer has the right to pursue credit repair alone, but they also have the right to seek professional advice. Enlisting help won’t cause further damage, and the results could boost your lifestyle.
  6. Credit repair perks. Living with bad credit seems hopeless. You can’t get a loan, credit card interest rates are high and a bad reputation follows you like a black cloud. With the right help, credit improvements stand to breathe new life into your attitude and your prospects, providing:
    • Reduced interest rates. The interest on your Visa card is open for negotiation and you’ll be in the running for the best fixed interest rates the market has to offer.
    • Insurance premiums. Insurance is about risk, and a higher credit score bodes well for your profile. Insurers see credit repair as a positive step, often rewarding their customers with lower premium rates.
    • Open doors. The primary goal of credit repair is opportunity. What are your goals in life? Family, homeownership and retirement security are all within reach with the right strategy. Recount your good fortune this Thanksgiving and make a plan to improve during the next year. A few changes will open doors to a better future.
Posted in Finance
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