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Updated on Monday, April 27, 2015
The purpose of this blog post is to provide links to the resources discussed during the Financial Literacy Seminar held at Brooklyn College on April 23rd.
During the seminar, the following topics were discussed:
- Credit Scores
- How to “Compare, Ditch and Switch” – including Bank Accounts and Student Loans
- How to Complain
We will provide links for all of these topics below.
Every year, you should download a copy of your credit report from all three credit-reporting agencies. There is only one place that you can do that for free: AnnualCreditReport.com. Credit scores are built based upon the information in the credit bureaus, and you need to make sure that all of the information is accurate.
If you find information that is not accurate, you can dispute online. You should make your dispute directly with the credit bureau that has the incorrect information. Here are the links to where you can dispute:
There are a number of ways to see your credit score for free.
If you want to see your FICO score, a number of banks offer the score on your statement. We have written a guide to show which banks offer free FICO scores. If you want to purchase your FICO score, you can do so at MyFICO.
There are also websites that offer free credit scores. These websites do not offer the official FICO score. Instead, they offer the “VantageScore.” It is often referred to as the “FAKO” score, because it is so similar to FICO. Here are the places where you can get your free VantageScore:
Remember: your goal is to have a score above 700. Ideally, your score should be above 750.
To have the best credit score, you should do these two things:
1. Make sure your balance is never more than 20% of your available credit.
2. Make your payments on time, every month.
Don’t stress out about a small movement in your score. Your score range is what matters the most.
Compare, Ditch and Switch
We talked about how expensive it can be to bank if you make the wrong choice. If you want to be a savvy consumer, you should be ready to look for the best deal and avoid obscene overdraft charges and fees.
Branch-free, Internet banks are offering some of the best deals. You can find a list of the Internet-only banks here.
We also discussed student loans. When you graduate from college, remember to do the following:
1. For federal student loans, you should remember that you may have the ability to take advantage of “income-based repayment.” This is a program that caps your student loan payments to a fixed percent of your monthly income. You can learn more about it here.
2. For private loans, you can consider refinancing your debt to a lower interest rate. You typically need to be employed, have made at least 6 months of payments and have a good credit score. But the interest rates can be much lower than your existing rates. We have compiled a list of student loan refinance options here.
How To Complain
If you have difficulty with a financial services company, you can get help. You can make a complaint directly to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Complaints can be made online.
Complaining online with the CFPB can be a great tool. The agency will reach out to the company on your behalf. Just make sure you keep excellent written records of your account, so that you can share all of the details with your complaint.
A Few Remaining Thoughts
Just remember the following tips from the session:
- Start saving for retirement with your first job. The earlier you start, the easier it will be. If your employer offers a 401(k) match, make sure you sign up and take advantage of it.
- The best way to build credit and avoid temptation is to keep your credit card at home. Just set up a monthly bill (like Netflix, for example). And then set up automatic monthly payments. That way your score will go up and you will not end up in debt.
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out. The team at MagnifyMoney is happy to help. You can reach us at [email protected]