Lower your insurance rates by raising your credit score

Miss a car payment? A few late credit card fees? Before you know it, you could have bad credit. It can make your life miserable, and much more expensive. A new study by insurancequotes.com says it can even raise your insurance rates! In some cases, bad credit can almosttriple your insurance rates. Even having “average” credit scores, instead of “good” scores, can increase your homeowner’s insurance rate by about 37% in Washington state.

Experts say insurance companies use credit scores to determine how much of a risk you are.

“They have found that customers with poor credit file more claims, so they are riskier customers. So those consumers end up paying more. And then if you got good credit or excellent credit you’re getting a really good price break.” says insurance analyst Laura Adams. She adds, if you have good credit scores, “they believe that you will not be a risky customer; that you will not be filing future claims; and give you a break for that.”

You might be able to lower your insurance rates by raising your credit score – and that starts with monitoring.

You can get a free copy of your credit report through the three credit report bureaus. Find more information about that by clicking here.

Once you know what your credit score is, you will want to build it up. That starts with paying outstanding debts, lowering your overall debt by paying off credit cards and loans, and paying bills on time. If you have a hard time keeping track of when bills are due, you might want to consider signing up for auto-pay options, or setting reminders for yourself to make sure you aren’t late.

Find more recommendations for improving your credit score here: myfico.com

5 things seniors should know about student loans

If you’re retired and have student loan debt, you have lots of company.

Two senators have introduced a bill to protect Social Security benefits being garnished to pay off student loans. But don’t count on Congress to provide much help — the Protection of Social Security Benefits Restoration Act is a long way from passing, if it ever does.

If you claim Social Security benefits, you may also face the possibility ofgiving up a portionof each check to loan repayment.

Here are five things to know if you’re among the many seniors with unpaid student loans:

1. The type of loan you have

Are the loans from a private institution or through a federal program? There are stark differences between the two. Private lenders may offer fewer options for repayment help than federal student loans.

If your loan is a government loan — the most common type of student loan, according to the CFPB — you might have access to strategies that adjust your monthly payment, such as consolidation programs.

Federal student loans typically have names like Direct Loan, PLUS, Perkins or Stafford.

Private lenders include banks, credit unions, state student loan agencies, and colleges or universities. Look for names such as “institutional” or “alternative” loans.

If you’re wondering how long it’ll take to pay off your loans, check out this online calculator.

2. Your Social Security benefits could be garnished

When your student loan is from the government, your Social Security checks can be slimmed by up to 15 percent to repay the debt.

Private lenders are generally not allowed to garnish Social Security benefits when you cosign a student loan for a child or grandchild.

Consider a low-risk money market account to keep your savings balances healthy.

3. Your income might lower your payments

You can still apply for one of four repayment plans that can lower your monthly payment based on your income — that is, provided you have a government loan. These plans reset your monthly student loan payment so it’s more in line with your income and family size.

Even if you’re juggling loan payments, it’s critical to maintain at least a couple of months’ expenses in a savings account for ready cash.

4. You might qualify for loan discharge

You might be eligible for a complete discharge of your federal student loans if you’re on permanent disability. It’s up to the lender to discharge loan debt for private student loan borrowers who face long-term disability. No standard exists the way it does for federal student loans.

If you’re able to get the loan discharged, treat that amount as a fixed expense you still have to make — and stash it in a high-yield CD account.

5. It’s tough to get released from cosigner responsibility

If a child or grandchild is paying off the loan, you might not know the balance or the account status. In fact, even if you’re not the primary loan borrower, you can request access to account information as the consigner on a private loan.

The CFPB says you’re unlikely to be released from your cosigner responsibility. Lenders and loan servicers have different policies. The websites and prospective paperwork of these lenders can give more information.

A mere 10 percent of private student loan cosigners who applied were granted release, according to the CFPB. If you’re considering cosigning, definitely contact the lender in advance to get clear information about the company’s policy on releasing cosigners. The CFPB has a set of sample letters you can use.

Advice of the week: Don’t fall for ‘Grandparent Scam’

Ever heard of the “Grandparent Scam”?

You get a phone call from someone claiming to be a family member who’s in serious trouble and needs money immediately. The scammer might say he is stranded or has been mugged. Sometimes the call comes in the middle of the night, which makes it all the more urgent and confusing.

Once the money is sent — Western Union is a common method — you later find out it wasn’t your grandchild at all.

Four tips can help avoid being scammed this way:

  1. Confirm it’s really a family member. Verify by calling them back on a phone number you know is theirs. Call another family member before you do anything that involves money transfers or a bank.
  2. Ask questions. Fraudsters want this to go quickly. They count on your fear and concern for your loved one to make you act before you think things through clearly. Asking for more detail slows them down and makes them more inclined to ditch the scam when they suspect you are on to their scheme.
  3. Don’t share personal info. Never give personal information by phone to anyone, unless you made the call to someone you know well and trust completely.
  4. Don’t rush into a financial decision. Trust your gut. If something doesn’t feel right, it may not be right. Feel free to say no and get more information before you send money.

IRA vs. HSA: Which is better?

A reader recently asked about the pros and cons of Roth IRAs and the health savings accounts, and how these accounts work. Want answers to your money questions? Join Bankrate’s Money Masters group on Facebook.

The savvy members of Money Masters made some key points:

  • These accounts serve different purposes (retirement savings vs. medical spending).
  • HSAs are available only when you have a high-deductible health insurance plan.

Both accounts have these features in common:

  • Your contributions are tax-free.
  • The growth of your contributions is non-taxable.

And HSA withdrawals — if you use them for qualified medical expenses — are tax-free In retirement. If you have access to an HSA because of your health insurance plan, it’s a good way to build money for your health care costs in retirement.

Another way to build money: Try a high-yield CD account.

Join us at Money Masters, so you can ask questions and get personalized advice from some of the sharpest minds in personal finance.

Follow me on Twitter: @jill_cornfield

Having cleared out abandoned homes, South Bend must decide what’s next

The void, and the lack of a concrete plan from the administration to fill it, prompted South Bend Common Council member Regina Williams-Preston, whose district has seen the most homes bulldozed, and affordable housing developer Ann Mannix earlier this month to propose 100 Homes in 500 Days. The plan would fill some of those lots with new homes for middle-income families, requiring buyers to qualify for $100,000 mortgage loans from private lenders. The city would need to spend $6 million — $3 million a year over two years — to help buyers fill the gap between a new home’s construction cost and its lower market value in distressed neighborhoods.

Poor Credit Can Raise Your Homeowner’s Insurance Premiums

Credit-based insurance appears to be playing a larger role in assessing homeowner’s premiums. The average difference in premiums between excellent and fair/poor credit has increased for the last three years in a row. Your credit score “can affect your life in terms of having everything be a little bit more expensive. So when it comes time to get insurance, maybe your insurance premiums will be… more expensive because you have a low credit score,” says Millennial Money Expert Stefanie O’Connell.

Peters, Capito reintroduce bipartisan student loan rehabilitation bill

The FAIR Student Credit Act would expand the loan rehabilitation program by giving private lenders the flexibility to make it easier for borrowers to improve their credit standing. Under current law, federal loans may be rehabilitated one time and borrowers can repair their credit, while private lenders do not have the ability to remove negative credit information on borrowers who participate in loan rehabilitation programs. Peters and Capito previously introduced this bill in the 114th Congress.

Firm proposes privately funding new terminal at Kansas City International Airport

James said private financing would remove any question of taxpayer risk.

“That’s a Kansas City innovative solution to a Kansas City sticky problem,” he said. “It’s something the airlines are comfortable with. It reduces the risk. It gets our airport built.”

Engineering firm Burns amp; McDonnell has asked city officials to be the lead firm for the design and construction work. Part of its proposal is that the firm would get an exclusive arrangement with the city to provide the design and come up with a guaranteed maximum price. This would lead to other firms not having access to make their own offer, nor would the city request bids.

The project is estimated to cost about $1 billion. The firm said it plans to put money into the project itself, attract other investors and find private lenders to complete the financing.

James said that even if the city decides on a private financing option, it would still have an election in November with a ballot asking voters to sign off on the new terminal construction plan. The vote would still happen because the City Council promised a vote in response to a 2014 citizens petition requiring a public election on any major improvements on Kansas City International Airport.

The mayor said that if the voters say no, “we’re screwed.”

Two gunned down over monetary row – The Nation

GUJRANWALA/ SAHIWAL-Two persons were gunned down over a money dispute here at Awan Chowk in the Aroop Police limits on Sunday.
According to police sources, Shahid had a dispute over Rs20,0000 with some persons. On Sunday Shahid along with his friend Ilyas was sitting in front of his house when his rivals came there and opened fire on them. Resultantly, Shahid died on the spot while Ilyas received bullet wounds and was shifted to DHQ hospital where he breathed his last. The Aroop Police have registered a case and started investigation.
In Sahiwal, an elderly man Ali Muhammad was murdered over a petty dispute here in Chak 87-9L. According to police sources, Muhammad Ashraf set ablaze Ali Muhammad, brother of Muhammad Latif, over some minor dispute. People took him to DHQ Hospital where he breathed his last. The Ghallah Mandi Police registered a case with no arrest till filing of this report.

This news was published in The Nation newspaper. Read complete newspaper of 15-May-2017 here.