Finance Guide

Understanding and mastering your finances takes more than just knowing your credit score. You also need to explore the many types of tools and resources available to you. This can include bank accounts, credit options and reward programs. Once you master the tools that help manage your finances, paying for things will be a breeze.

About Payday Loans

Payday loans are small, short-term cash advances available to almost anyone. They can go by a variety of names and can be found in every state. These loans are not available from banks and other traditional financers, but from dedicated suppliers. Consumers are most likely to look to a payday loan when they have little or no credit and need cash quickly for basic expenses or emergencies.

These loans are popular because they provide applicants with cash almost immediately. Many consumers view them as a stopgap measure when catastrophe hits.

Unfortunately, these loans are expensive and extremely high-risk. Interest rates are exceptionally higher than standard loans, and no extensions or other grace periods are allowed. Lenders have the right to pull the money you have borrowed, plus the large amount of interest on the loan, directly from your bank account when you get paid. This can create a vicious cycle of costly debt if you are not able to immediately pay them off and cover all of your bills during your next pay period.

How to Check Your Credit Score and Credit Report

Knowing your credit score is an essential part of handling your finances successfully. Your score directly impacts your ability to get credit for houses, vehicles, educational endeavors, and personal or business expenses. Strong credit scores can set you up for success, while weak scores or bad credit can present challenges at every turn. Interestingly, different types of credit can require different minimum credit scores. Educating yourself about the variations in these limits can help you make the best decisions when pursing your financial goals.  

In addition, it is equally important that you learn about your annual credit report. Many consumers fail to realize that it is vital that you regularly check your whole report, not just your overall score. This is because your score is derived from numerous factors, such as your overall available credit and your payment history, all of which appear on the report. Reviewing your report is the only way to know whether the records being used to compile your score are accurate and up-to-date.

Errors on your report can cause your credit rating to be calculated at a much lower level than it should be. For example, if you closed a credit card but the report still shows it as open, it may be calculating a much higher credit-to-income ratio for you than you actually have.

This can hurt your eligibility for mortgages, car loans, student loans and other applications and opportunities of all kinds. Checking your report regularly enables you to identify these errors and have them corrected, quickly and easily improving your credit score.

Learn About Loans

Loans come in all forms and using them well can help you manage your debt wisely and improve your credit. Low-interest lows, for example, can make it easy and cost-effective to consolidate and pay down your credit card debt, while improving your credit rating.

Of course, if you already have a strong credit rating, you will qualify for the best personal loans and terms available. Like all forms of credit, personal loan rates are based on your credit score and your credit history.

If you have poor credit, you may still be able to access good loan terms by leveraging other factors, such as membership in your local credit union, the presence of a cosigner or other forms of assurance to the lender that you can will repay your debt on time.

Student loans are available from the federal government and private lenders. Terms and eligibility vary widely, but they are typically more generous than those of personal loans for unspecified purposes. Federal loans may offer deferred payments and other benefits not available from private lenders.

Find Out About Credit Cards

From cash back credit cards to gas credit cards, everyone seems to have a card but few people have given real thought to what the best type of card is for them. In fact, many consumers stand to benefit from trading in their existing cards for others that better meet their needs.

  • Consumers who want to travel and make the most of their vacations are the best travel credit card holders.
  • Individuals and families trying to pay down debt can benefit immensely from a balance transfer credit card.
  • Consumers with bad credit trying to build better credit ratings can thrive with prepaid cards.

Within each category, of course, there are many unique combinations of benefits and drawbacks. Understanding the types of cards and rewards programs available to you, their pitfalls and benefits and how to leverage them can dramatically change your financial landscape in a short amount of time.

About Direct Deposit and Checking Accounts

Checking accounts form the foundation of many consumers’ finances. These bank accounts allow you to:

  • Write personal checks.
  • Cash checks from other individuals or businesses.
  • Store your money safely, often while earning interest.
  • Spend and access your funds easily, as cash or electronically.  

As with credit cards, the best checking accounts will vary by consumer depending upon their individual eligibility and needs. Specialized checking accounts are available for students, businesses and other distinct consumer populations.

You can direct deposit funds into your account or another person’s account by:

  • Writing a check from one account and depositing it into another account.
  • Initiating an online money transfer using your bank’s internal system or an independent app.
  • Taking cash or another form of currency to your banking institution in person to deposit.

Direct deposit services are also available from many employers, your state and federal governments and public assistance programs. This allows many consumers to have their paychecks, tax returns and support payments, such as unemployment, Social Security or Disability, deposited immediately into their checking accounts. This can save all parties time, money and hassle and improve families’ financial management.