5 Actions that Help Your Credit Score

by Sara Seeger 20. March 2014

Credit Report

A credit score is a three digit number, usually ranging from 300 to 850; the higher the score, the better the credit risk, and by having a better credit risk you could be offered more attractive interest rates on loans. The three main credit bureaus used to evaluate credit worthiness are Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. Each of these credit bureaus has a slightly different credit range they use when making decisions. If your credit is run and found to be not at the level you expect, don’t fret! While blemished credit can be both stressful and costly, it won’t last forever. No matter how hopeless a situation might seem there are actions you can take immediately to move your credit score in the right direction.

1. Pay Your Bills on Time

One of the best ways to improve your credit score is to pay all of your bills on time. A person’s payment history affects 35 percent of their total credit score. It is imperative to pay at least the minimum balance before it is due. Delinquent payments, even only a few days late, can negatively impact your credit score.

2. Check Your Credit Report Annually

Mistakes can happen. In fact, one-fourth of credit reports contain a serious error, which can affect a credit score. Check your credit report annually. The three major credit bureaus offer a free credit report check once a year. This review will allow you to see any discrepancies or mistakes, and fix them immediately.

3. Develop a Credit History

For newly obtained credit, it is important to not only develop a credit history, but develop a positive and active credit history. Open a credit card account and pay it off responsibly. A great way to do this is to open a credit card, charge a low amount to it per month (anywhere from 20-50 dollars), and pay it off every month. This action creates a successful payment and credit history.

4. Keep Your Credit Card Balance Low

Even if your credit card maximum limit is $2,000 dollars, do not max out that limit. Carrying the maximum balance will actually hurt your credit score. A good rule of thumb is to keep your debt to 30 percent or less of your credit limit. For example, if your credit card limit is $2,000, do not exceed $600 of debt.

5. Establish Different Types of Debt

If you are financially able to obtain different types of debt, it would be beneficial to do so. Lenders like to see that you can manage diverse types of debt. A mix of major credit card loans, car loans, or home loans is healthy for a well-managed credit portfolio.

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How to Use LinkedIn to Further Your Career

by Sara Seeger 18. March 2014

LinkedIn Networking

If you haven’t jumped on the social media bandwagon, I would suggest you do so, immediately. In today’s personal and professional world, social media is more than just updating others of your activities, your family, your whereabouts, or your social status. It is about connecting, interacting, and sharing with others. Humans are social creatures and we choose to interact more frequently with each other through social networking websites. While Facebook and Twitter dominate the social and personal connection, LinkedIn has emerged as a go-to site for job and career conversations. It is a great tool to interact with current co-workers and offers an additional benefit of being an interactive resume, which connects you with recruiters and potential future employers. Listed below are a few tips to improve your LinkedIn profile and potentially enhance your career.

1. Effectively Decorated Resume

LinkedIn states that your profile is 40 times more likely to be seen if you have a 100% complete profile. A complete profile includes listing your current and previous positions, listing education information, including a profile photo, utilizing the profile summary and specialties sections, and having at least three recommendations from your connections. Whew, that may seem like a lot of work, but in the long run, the name of the game is visibility. Ensure your LinkedIn profile is as complete as possible and optimize it by using key words throughout your descriptions so that your information becomes more recognizable and searchable. Oh, and most importantly, remember to be truthful.

2. Connect, Connect, Connect

Co-workers- check! Contacts from undergrad- check! Vendors- check! Connect with other LinkedIn members to build your network. Remember, the more connections you have, the more opportunities you have to be noticed. However, getting your information out to the masses is a strategy that requires you to think quality over quantity. Manage your tendency to connect with people you don't know. It is not about gaining the most connections; it’s about connecting with people who can help you accomplish your objective.

3. Be Interactive

The best way to reach more people on LinkedIn is to interact. Join groups that interest you, share article and blog posts, and comment on and “like” articles your connections share. These actions allow your profile to be more visible, while also establishing yourself in your profession or industry.

4. Build Your Resume

Think of your connections as recommendations. To a potential employer, a LinkedIn recommendation is a reference in advance. Ask your supervisors, co-workers, professors, etc. for professional recommendations. Although recommendations don’t take the place of reference letters or calls, they effectively decorate your LinkedIn profile which may increase the chance of it being visible to potential employers.

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Importance of a Home Inspection

by Sara Seeger 4. March 2014

Home Inspection

Caveat emptor! You may have heard these two Latin words before, meaning “let the buyer beware.” In today’s real estate market, many homes are being sold “as-is.” This clause frees the seller from being responsible for fixing any repairs to the home, no matter how large or detrimental. Whether or not the property is being sold “as-is,” it is important for a potential buyer to schedule a home inspection before going through with the sale for many reasons.

1. Safety

The most important reason for getting a home inspection is safety. Not only does a home inspector check to ensure floors, walls, stairs, and surroundings are all deemed “livable” and safe, a home inspection can uncover health safety issues like radon, carbon monoxide, and mold. Many home inspectors will walk around with the potential buyers and explain to them how to work the instruments in their new home, such as the furnace, and how to operate the gas valve and the main water value.

2. Negotiating Tool

After receiving a home inspection, the potential buyer will receive a home inspection report. This report offers an opportunity for the buyer to request repairs to be done to the house, request a price reduction, or request a credit from the seller. It is important to ask your realtor what requests can and should be made to negotiate a better deal.

3. It Provides an "Out"

A home inspection can disclose important information about the condition of a home and its appliances; thereby allowing the buyer to be aware of potential repairs needed and estimated costs for these repairs, as well as required home maintenance. The buyer can then make a decision to assume the expense or to back out of the offer to purchase the house.

4. Forecast Future Repair Costs

A home inspector can estimate the installation age of major systems in a home like plumbing, heating, and cooling. He can also analyze the existing condition of the home structure. All systems in a house have a “shelf-life.” By understanding when these systems require replacement, a buyer can make important budgeting decisions.

At a minimum, the items below are an important area for an examiner to check during a home inspection.

  • Foundation
  • Plumbing and electrical systems
  • Doors, ceilings, walls and floors
  • Roof, heating and air conditioning
  • Hazardous material concerns, such as asbestos
  • Proper insulation and ventilation

Purchasing a house could be one of the largest investments a person will make in his/her life. For a reasonable fee, a home inspection will provide the buyer peace of mind, as well as information to make an intelligent buying decision.

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