How to Build Good Credit: 5 Steps for College Grads

by Renee' Anderson 3. February 2015

Good Credit, Bad Credit

Congratulations on making it through college! Now it’s time to get yourself together. Once you have a full-time job lined up, you should focus your attention on your financial future. Sounds grown up, huh?! It’s really not that complicated. Building good credit is an important part of your finances. Here are five steps to take towards your goal:

1) Become an authorized user on your parents’ credit card account.

This doesn’t mean your parents have to hand over their credit card and let you go crazy, buy a new iPhone6 and go on a shopping spree. What I would suggest is getting permission to simply use the card for expenses they typically pay for. This way you can take the credit card and fill the family grocery order while building good credit for yourself and pleasing your parents by lending a helping hand. It’s a win, win!

2) Apply for your own credit card.

Just one. Not 10, ONE. You will want to establish credit worthiness by using it to purchase small items that you typically would pay for with cash. Put the cash aside so when the bill arrives, you can pay it off in full each month. Oh, and while we’re on the subject…don’t forget to PAY IT OFF IN FULL each month!

3) Pay bills on time.

This applies to credit card bills along with any other bills you have. Perhaps you have student loans? A cell phone bill? Paying them on time makes a big difference.

4) Apply for a car loan.

Now that you’ve graduated and hopefully have a full-time job, you’re probably ready to buy your own brand new (or used) car. Go for it, and get the loan in your name. Doing this, and paying it on time, will help your credit. It’s good to have a variety of different account types to diversify your credit.

5) Pay attention!

You need to keep track of your finances including your credit card statements and the activity on the account. Make sure there are no mistakes, i.e. a charge that is not yours. There are times where mix ups occur, and you could be charged or penalized for something you didn’t do. If that happens, call your credit card company to straighten things out right away.

Follow these steps and you can take credit for building your own good credit. See what I did there? You know that was funny. Or cheesy, okay.

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Three Things To Consider When Choosing a Bank

by Renee' Anderson 3. December 2014

Shop for New BankYou’re looking for a new bank. But you don’t really know what to look for. Is there a difference from one bank to another? Does it matter? Here are three key things that many people choose to consider when looking for a bank.

1. Customer Service

It seems like good customer service is hard to come by these days. Not that I’m that old or anything, but honestly, I remember a time when people that worked in a customer service role were truly happy to be doing what they were doing and gained satisfaction from helping their customers. Now, you’re lucky if you get a “Thank you, have a nice day!” There is something to be said for positive interaction. Furthermore, I’d rather do business with someone interested in helping me with my needs.

Here’s an example. Have you ever lost your bank card? I have, and the first thing that went through my mind was I need to cancel it quickly before someone gets ahold of it and makes charges. Second thing that went through my mind, I need a card! Who carries cash? Not me. I need my bank card, now! Well, I’ll tell you, I didn’t have to panic for long. I called my bank, quickly was connected to the appropriate person, who immediately deactivated my current card and said my new card would be in the mail right away. They also gave me the option to visit my local branch to get a card that would be activated today! That’s great customer service!

2. Products & Services

This is important. However, it can be overwhelming to think about due to technology and the way products and services have evolved and the way you prefer to do your banking. Don’t let it overwhelm you. Just think about how you prefer to do your banking. Are you on the go a lot and prefer to access mobile banking for your day-to-day banking needs? Choose a bank with good mobile banking options (an app to access your accounts from your phone or tablet that will allow you to check your balance, transfer funds, pay bills, and even deposit a check from your phone). You’ll want to take a look at what kind of fees are associated with these features. Only pay what you’re willing to pay for products and services that mean the most to you. If mobile isn’t your thing, just make sure whatever products and/or services you need are available and not for a ridiculous price tag. It’s always helpful to check out your bank’s website for more information, or stop in a branch.

3. Hours & Locations

This is particularly important if you frequently visit a branch. Where I rarely go to my bank branch, my husband does once a week. Everyone has their reasons, whatever yours is, it doesn’t matter. What matters is, is the branch open when you are able to get there? And, do you feel like you have to drive to Guam, or is it conveniently located near your home or work?

Moral of the story, don’t’ just flip a coin, don’t just do eenie meenie miney moe, chose a bank for all the right reasons.

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5 Tips on How to Teach Your Children to Be Financially Savvy

by Renee' Anderson 13. November 2014

Financially Savvy Child

As a parent, it’s our job (yes, I’m a mom) to teach our kids. There is a lot they will learn in school, and they will probably have a lesson or two on financials in school, but as far as I’m concerned this is mostly on us as parents. So, what should we do? Here’s how I see it. You know the phrase “do as I say, not as I do?” Probably not the most fitting for this! Don’t’ get me wrong, those words have come out of my mouth a time or two. Or three. However, teaching by example is the way to get it done.

1) Pay in cash when you are able. Where learning how to use credit cards and manage your credit is also a good thing (and a whole different topic), let’s start with the basics here. We need to show our kids that if you want something, you have to give your money away for it. The easiest way to do that is to make a purchase, give the cashier your dollar bills and/or coins and have your child watch them hand you your purchase. Sounds trivial, but you have to start at the beginning.

2) Put spare change into a piggy bank for your child(ren). Once it’s full take them to the bank to cash in their coins for deposit. FOR DEPOSIT being the key words here. Put in their bank account and have them watch their balance grow. Okay, that’s not a ton of fun, so if you’d like, you can let them take a minimal amount and go buy a toy after making your deposit at the bank. Rewards are good.

3) Many schools partner with banks. Don’t just put that notice from the school off to the side in the “I don’t have time for this” pile. Read it and participate. Write a small check when the bank visits the school for your child to make a deposit themselves, and have your child help you fill out the deposit slip.

4) When your child wants an item, have them set a goal and work toward earning the money to pay for it. So, the next time your child falls to the knees in Target, or throws a fit while watching a commercial about the new sparkling Elsa doll or the latest edition of MarioKart, tell them they can buy it themselves when they have enough money.

5) Talk as you shop. While you’re putting groceries in your cart, explain to your child(ren) why you chose the bag of Kraft cheese instead of the Sargentto brand (Kraft is on sale this month so we can save some money).

So, set a good example and take time to explain things to your kids. It will pay off!

If you found this article useful, be sure to check out these related articles:

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