Why paying off your loan is bad for your credit

Recently, a friend of mine asked me if he should pay off his auto loan he had acquired years ago. While the interest rate on the loan is very low, less than 3%, he wanted to be free of debt and felt tempted to finish making monthly payments for the loan. He makes good income and is very disciplined about expenses, so paying the remaining balance would not cause any financial burden to him, and neither would maintain the monthly payments. His main concern was the impact on his credit.

I talked him out of it.

My friend should not pay off his auto loan early.

Continue reading Why paying off your loan is bad for your credit

10 reasons to use a credit card

In a previous post: Credit Card vs Debit Card, I explained the basic differences between credit cards and debit cards. Unless you have trouble controlling spending, credit cards are a much better choice for your regular method of payment. If my previous post didn’t twist your arms, I’m offering you more reasons to favor credit cards over debit cards (and cash, of course!)

  1. Credit cards help build credit
  2. Credit cards give you better fraud protection
  3. Credit cards give you the ability to dispute charges previously paid for
  4. Credit cards cover warranty extension
  5. Credit cards offer 60-day return on most merchandise
  6. Credit cards cover rental car insurance
  7. Credit cards cover travel insurance
  8. Credit cards cover luggage delay reimbursement
  9. (Some) Credit cards provide free concierge service
  10. (Some) Credit cards offer rewards on purchases

What do you think? Are you convinced that you should buy everything with a credit card now? Let me know if you’re still looking for justification… 😉

Usual warning: none of these reasons applies if you can’t control your spending. 😐


Richard (Hiep Tran)



Sometimes you just have to spend the money.

What beauty
What beauty

Last night I went to see a performance by Strictly Seattle, a summer dance program that gathers Seattle dancers and choreographers for 3 weeks of intensive rehearsals that culminate in a weekend of performances. It was breath-taking. The dancers were very skilled and expressive. In one of the dances, each dancer’s lower body seemed pinned to the dance floor while the upper body performed very intricate movements without hindrance, as if it had a mind on its own. Imagine a tree where the trunk and root are planted to the soil  while the leaves vibrate with each sweep of the wind. That’s what the dance felt like to me.

Palm tree in the wind

And I was sitting next to a young man who turns out to be one of the dancers’ boyfriend. Being somewhat of an insider, he gave me some insight about how the dancers packed all the complicated choreography into 3 weeks of rehearsals. As a greenhorn to dance performance, I was intrigued. He also works in a building half a block away from my office building. It’s a small world indeed.

Many of you who are reading my blog are in your 20’s.  We are young, and we need to have fun. Someone told me a dollar spent today is worth 100 dollars spent 20 years later. I am all for wisely managing financial resources, but there are things we should spend the money on because they make our lives better. Ultimately money is just a tool to obtain happiness. There is no point in having a lot of money without being happy. I invest part of my income, and I save money on certain purchases just because I want to spend that money on something else, such as the dance performance I went to last night.

What is money if you don’t spend it?


The show was very inspiring. I know I will not be a professional dancer ever, but I think that I can be successful and inspire people as well. I’ve had challenging moments in my life recently, but events like this one keep me motivated. For $20, it was well worth it in my book.

I went to bed last night feeling satisfied, and started today with an inspired spirit. Thank you, Velocity Dance Center in Seattle, for putting together such an awesome show. And thank you, my readers, for allowing me to share with you my stories and to help you along your financial journey. You make me feel appreciated and special.

Have a great weekend!


Richard (Hiep Tran)

Today’s feature: “Get a Financial Life: Personal Finance in Your Twenties and Thirties” book review.

Get a Financial Life
Get A Life. Get a Financial Life.

The other day a friend of mine asked me for recommendation for a personal finance book. I recall plowing the “Personal Finance” shelves in the Barnes&Noble bookstore one day to find myself a good read. What I was looking for is a comprehensive guide that is concise and well-presented, sort of like a travel guide and unlike an actuarial exam study manual. Then I came across this book whose title says “Personal Finance in Your Twenties and Thirties.” Perfect! Their target audience includes me – that’s a good start. And that’s just the start. What else does the book have?

Continue reading Today’s feature: “Get a Financial Life: Personal Finance in Your Twenties and Thirties” book review.

Career is the most critical aspect of personal finance


Recently, I’ve revisited my financial decisions since I graduated from college in the fall of 2011. You know what I found? Having a permanent, decent-paying job actually contributes the most to my assets and financial future. With money in my bank accounts and a stable income stream, I have been approved for good credit cards to build my credit history. The money I’ve saved has been put into my brokerage account so that I can learn how to invest. I’m 24, and I know there are a lot of things to be learned and a lot of money to be earned in the future, but I think I have a decent start, to which my income contributed significantly.

Continue reading Career is the most critical aspect of personal finance



My name is Richard, and I am based in Seattle. I set up this blog to share with you my financial journey, my experience building a credit history, investing my income, dealing with banks, and basically anything having to do with personal financial management. I graduated from college last year (2011) as an international student, and along the development of this blog I will share experiences specific to international students studying in the US. While international students may find this blog most helpful, my targeted audience is everyone who is exploring the world of personal finance, and eager to learn about how to better manage their money.

I hope you find yourself in this financial journey, and as such may learn valuable lessons or wish to share your own stories. When you feel the urge please speak up, even just to say ‘Hey! I had the same experience’ or ‘I don’t think you did the right thing there. Here’s what I did/would do’ . A journey is not fulfilling without companions, and the more the merrier.