Career is the most critical aspect of personal finance

10-Key-Steps-to-a-Successful-Job-Search1

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

Can international (F-1) students / non-resident aliens (H-1B visa holders) apply for credit cards?

Yay! I'm an alien!!!
Yay! I’m an alien!!! Cool, huh?

Absolutely! I applied for my Bank of America BankAmericard secured credit card as an H-1B visa holders, and I wish I had obtained my first credit card when I was an international student at Colgate. By the way, to my American readers who may not be well-versed about immigration stati, any foreign citizen that is living in the US is classified by the IRS as an alien. Those like me that don’t have permanent residency either are called non-resident aliens. Someone from the IRS has a good sense of humor.

I know that I asked myself this question at some point while being a college student, and so did many of my friends who were international students. So for the future generations of international students, let’s settle this once and for all. The answer is, again: Yes you can! Continue reading Can international (F-1) students / non-resident aliens (H-1B visa holders) apply for credit cards?

How to access your annual free credit report – step by step instructions

It is always a good idea to check your credit profile before making a major credit decision such as re-financing a mortgage or applying for a credit card. Sometimes there are errors on your credit report that you need to dispute, and other times there may be legitimate negative records that you may be able to remove in one way or another. Conveniently, the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) entitles you to one credit report from each consumer reporting agency (CRA). Continue reading How to access your annual free credit report – step by step instructions

Do you need to carry a balance to build credit?

I often get inspiration for my blog posts from people I interact with. I learn of my readers’ needs through talking with friends, acquaintances, colleagues, and everyone else with whom I have a conversation that involves personal finance matters. In a recent conversation like that, I learned of someone who keeps her credit active by making a large purchase on her credit card and paying the balance gradually, over months, obviously accumulating and paying interests. She learned of this practice from someone else.

You know that I advocate paying off balances before due dates so you’d never pay a penny in interest. Let’s discuss which approach is better for your credit.

Continue reading Do you need to carry a balance to build credit?

Does checking your own credit report affect your credit?

The other day I was having lunch with co-workers. I don’t remember how this topic came across, but one of my co-workers was convinced that checking your credit would lower your credit score. I just wanted to emphasize that checking your credit is totally harmless. Why?

Continue reading Does checking your own credit report affect your credit?

What happens to your credit when you get married?

Saving-Your-Marriage-SmallI have a friend who recently got engaged. Last time we hung out, we had a little chat about his future plans. Being a financially savvy and provident guy, he did some research on the impact of marriage on future housing arrangement, and found out that in order to buy a house in the future he will have to have his future wife go through a credit score check. He was under the impression that his credit profile would be merged in some way with his fiance’s when they got married, and thus they would have a common credit score, taken as the lower of their individual scores pre-marriage. Is this true?

Continue reading What happens to your credit when you get married?

Reblog and analysis: “Five Surprising Things That May Impact Your Score” from Transunion

parking-ticketTransunion is one of the three consumer reporting agencies (CRA’s) which are responsible for keeping a record of your credit profile. Today I came across a brief and helpful article on their “Credit Education” section that I’d like to share with you and attach my comments to. The article is titled “Your Credit History: Five Surprising Things That May Impact Your Score.” Let’s analyze these 5 surprising things, one by one.

 

Continue reading Reblog and analysis: “Five Surprising Things That May Impact Your Score” from Transunion

Closing a credit card: let’s get the facts straight

There are so many myths surrounding the issue of credit card closing I thought it’d be helpful to dedicate a whole blog post to this topic.
Why should you close a credit card? Well, there are several reasons:

  1. The credit card is pure junk, such as one of the worst credit cards in America which are listed here: http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/business/2012/10/6-worst-credit-cards/ – No questions about this.
  2. The credit card carries an unsustainable annual fee, such as most loyalty and transferable points cards (if you’re not familiar with reward credit cards, check this post out). Many cards of these types waive the first year’s annual fee, and many consumers don’t find them worth keeping beyond the first year.  Continue reading Closing a credit card: let’s get the facts straight

Credit cards for credit builders: what are your options? – Part 3

Option 3 for credit builders: secured credit cards

I have previously described my personal experience with Bank of America’s Bankamericard Cash Rewards secured credit card. A secured credit card is a risk-free way for financial institutions to extend you credit: the money you deposit is also your credit limit. In other words, you spend your own money; the bank doesn’t lend you anything. Yet you still have the opportunity to build up your credit profile by making on-time payments which would be reported to the Consumer Reporting Agencies (CRA’s). Continue reading Credit cards for credit builders: what are your options? – Part 3

Credit cards for credit builders: what are your options? –Part 1

When I opened this blog, I had in mind the picture of myself back in January 2012, half a year out of college, and having no credit. Today, it is about a year from that, and many from the next generation of college graduates are probably having the same credit situation as I was. I was lucky to be well-guided by knowledgeable friends, and I thought it’d be my turn to provide a mini-guide for those looking to obtain their first credit card.

To recap what I wrote in my most popular post to date: Introduction to personal finance, here are the 3 main reasons you need a credit card in order of importance: Continue reading Credit cards for credit builders: what are your options? –Part 1