Credit Scores and Loans

The relationship between your credit score and the loan you need

If you’re interested in applying for a loan in the near future, you may be wondering about the relationship between credit scores and loans. Not only does your credit score impact the type of loan you can receive, loans also affect your credit score. The following information will help you understand more about the ways that loans and credit scores impact each other.

Credit score affects loan interest rates
When you need funds for a large purchase, such as tuition, a new vehicle or a home, it’s important to understand all of the factors that will be important during the loan application process. Your credit score is one of the most important of these factors. If you already know your credit score, you’re one step ahead of many people, but you still have to know exactly what it means.

“Today’s economy runs on credit,” states Erin Peterson from Bankrate. “Good credit can be the make-or-break detail that determines whether you’ll get a mortgage, car loan or student loan.”

Your credit score represents your financial history and paints a picture of how responsibly you have used your credit. Lenders use this information to assess how likely you are to repay a loan. If you have a low credit score, lenders fear that you may not be able to pay off your loan, which will cost them money. In order to balance this risk, lenders offer people with lower credit scores loans with higher interest rates.

“If you have a higher mortgage rate because of a low credit score, it means you’ll be paying that much more in interest in the end,” according to Elizabeth Rosen, Banks.com contributor. “Thus, a strong credit rating can help secure a low mortgage rate, which gives you lower monthly mortgage payments overall.” This is why it’s important to pay attention to your credit if you need to secure a loan.

Loans also affect your credit score
Your credit score has a big impact on your ability to get a loan, but loans also affect your credit score. The application process itself can have an impact on your credit score because each time a lender checks your credit, your score goes down a few points.

“That’s because 10% of your credit score comes from the number of credit-based applications you make,” according to About.com guide LaToya Irby.

Fortunately, this won’t hurt your ability to shop around to find the best loan because there is a grace period during which multiple lenders can check your credit without your score going down. This means that the second lender you speak with will see the same credit score as the first, so you have the opportunity to receive competitive offers.

“Even after you’re done rate shopping, the loan inquiries are treated as a single application rather than several,” explains Irby. “That window of time is between 14 and 45 days depending on which credit score the lender checking your score is using.”

Any loans that you have now can also impact your credit score. You can improve your credit score and prospects for future loans by making payments for any current debt on time. Irby notes that “payment history is 35% of your credit score. That’s more than any other credit score factor.” This also means that paying late or defaulting can seriously harm your credit, so be sure to take your current financial responsibilities seriously.

The balance of your current loans also affects your credit; you gain credit points as you pay back the balance.

“The larger the gap between your original loan amount and your current loan balance, the better your credit score will be,” states Irby.

Your credit score and loans go hand-in-hand. Good credit can help you receive a good loan, and good loan repayment patterns can help you achieve good credit. The steps you take today to repay your loans responsibly and take care of your credit will boost your ability to get a great loan in the future.


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Five Tips for Sustainable Eating

Eat healthier by supporting locally grown products

Sustainable eating meansSustainableEating1 eating whole foods that come from a local source. Most sustainable foods do not have labels and do not come in a box. In addition, they are foods that minimize harm to the environment during the growth and production process. Locally grown fruits and vegetables, as well as protein from animals that are raised in a humane way by independent farmers, are considered sustainable foods.

Sustainable eating provides a healthier lifestyle for you and your family versus buying processed, boxed meals, often found on your neighborhood grocery store shelves.

It may be easier than you think to put healthier and more environmentally friendly meals on your dinner table. Follow these five tips to make sustainable eating a part of your everyday life.

Grow your own vegetables
Even if you live in an apartment or have a very small yard, it may be possible to grow your own vegetables. There is tons of information available on container gardening and growing in small spaces. Start with just a few plants and grow vegetables you know your family will eat and are easy to prepare. As you become more knowledgeable about gardening, add different varieties.

Buy from local farmers and/or farmers markets
You can practice sustainable eating by purchasing your produce and meats from your local farmers if you are unable to grow your own vegetables (or just not interested in gardening). Most communities offer farmers’ markets through the summer season, and some cities in warmer climates offer farmers markets year-round.

Learn the art of cooking
While it is possible to practice sustainable eating without knowing how to cook, a little cooking experience will take you far in your goals of eating whole and unprocessed foods. While you can begin with fruit and vegetable salads, eventually you might want to add roasted vegetables or stir-fries to your menu. Learning to prepare a few tried and true recipes will help you expand your family’s go-to menus.

Eat with the seasons
Fruit and vegetables taste much better in season, and they are far less expensive during that time. Adjust your eating habits to eat foods when they are in their prime. Eat apples and squash in the fall, and savor watermelon and berries in the summer.

Learn to preserve and store food
Although canning and preserving food is a lost art, this domestic skill seems to be making a comeback. Canning and preserving foods when they are in season lets you enjoy many types of food all year long. You will also know exactly what is in your food and can ensure there are no unknown or strange ingredients you cannot pronounce. Begin by preserving simple items (such as jam) and progress to more difficult tasks, such as canning meats.

With a little patience and practice, adopting a sustainable lifestyle around your dinner table is an effort that will yield big results in your family’s health and local environment.


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Financial Tips for College Graduates

Preparing for the real worldFinancialSkills_2 can be a daunting task for a college student and knowing where to begin might seem hopeless. One of the most important things to work on as you begin to contemplate your life after college is building solid financial skills. Having well-grounded financial skills will help you not only personally, but also professionally. Here are some tips to help you get on the right track.

According to Nancy Anderson of Forbes.com, nine out of 10 baby boomers provide their adult children with some kind of financial support. While every parent wants to help their children succeed in life, it’s also important that parents don’t compromise their retirement savings in the process. Teaching their children how to effectively manage their money can make a significant difference – and it’s never too late to start. Some of Anderson’s financial tips include:

Understand the value of the dollar
Especially for college students who are eating at all hours of the day or night, being mindful of their spending is important. Instead of having that pizza delivered from down the road or buying three coffee drinks from the library cafe, try thinking ahead before an all-nighter of studying; pack snacks that you already have on hand and bring a thermos of coffee. The small expenses can quickly add up to a big chunk out of your budget.

Keep a good credit score
As you contemplate moving into the real world, there are things you’ll want to do that your credit score will have an impact on such as renting an apartment, buying a new car, etc. Sign up for a credit card with a low spending limit and set ground rules for yourself when it comes to using it to avoid getting yourself into trouble. Parents can consider setting up a joint card while their kids are in college and work together to pay off the balance each month to get a good start on good credit.

Save, save, save
Putting money into a savings account that you don’t touch is one of the key factors to success; the standard rule is to have approximately six months of expenses saved to ward against the unexpected. Your financial institution may offer the ability to auto-draft money from your checking to your savings account so you’re automatically saving money with each paycheck. According to research by Bankrate.com, 76 percent of Americans live paycheck to paycheck; another study from CashNetUSA revealed that almost half of those surveyed had less than $800 saved for emergencies.

When it comes to learning more about managing your finances, you may come across terms that seem foreign and intimidating; however, taking some extra time to research these things now and understand how they can impact your financial future is important for your success.

“Young college graduates, who start saving now, can save far less money and be much wealthier than Americans who realize in their 40s and 50s that they have to get busy stashing money away,” according to Lynn O’Shaunessey of CBSNews.com. Here are some of O’Shaunessey’s tips:

Maximize your savings with compound interest
Even if you start your savings account with meager contributions each month, compound interest, like a snowball, can turn those contributions into something more significant as the years go on.

Open a Roth IRA
A Roth IRA is basically your retirement savings account; even though retirement may seem like decades away, you want to make sure that you’re comfortably prepared for it, so opening an IRA now will be sure to benefit you in the future.

Work on creating a stock portfolio
Investing in stocks can have a major impact on your finances and also teach you a lot about money as you become more experienced with the process. Start by investing in just one category while setting the goal to eventually spread your finances across large-cap and small-cap index funds, which will provide you with the best return for your investment.

Manisha Thakor of Forbes.com suggests that parents talk to their college-aged children about their own financial successes and blunders: “The more intergenerational dialogue we have about the basics of personal finance the better off this country will be.”


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Breathing Exercises for Relaxation

Sometimes you just need a moment Breathing_Exercises1to catch your breath. In fact, many doctors recommend controlled breathing for both short- and long-term relaxation. Here are five simple breathing exercises you can do anytime, even at your desk during the workday.

Alternate nostril breathing
This easy breathing technique is done in a meditative pose and is said to be like a jolt of caffeine that sharpens your focus.
To do this, hold your thumb over your right nostril while you inhale through the left nostril. At the height of the inhalation, close off the right nostril with the middle finger of the same hand while releasing the thumb. Then, exhale through the right nostril. Repeat.

Bellows breathing
According to the American Medical Student Association (AMSA), this breathing exercise can be used to improve energy throughout the workday. It’s also known as the stimulating breath and relies on short, fast rhythmic breathing.

Sit in an upright position with your spine straight. Gently close your mouth and quickly inhale and exhale through your nose, like you are pumping air into a tire. Do this for no longer than 15 seconds for beginners and up to one minute for more advanced practitioners to avoid hyperventilating.

Abdominal breathing
Known as diaphragmatic breathing, abdominal breathing reduces tension while improving the flow of blood and lymph within your body by expanding the lung’s air pockets, reports AMSA. Do this technique twice a day or as needed when you’re feeling stressed or in physical pain.

Take a deep breath with one hand placed on your chest and the other on your abdomen. The latter hand should rise further than the one on your chest, indicating you’re using your diaphragm to push the air to the bases of your lungs. As you inhale deeply and slowly though your nose, focus on a word like “relaxation,” and hold it for a count of seven. Exhale for a count of eight while thinking of a word associated with the feeling or emotion you want to release, such as “stress,” AMSA suggests. Repeat the cycle five times total, aiming for a rate of six inhale/exhale combinations per minute.

Counting the breath
Use this breathing technique when you have longer periods of time to spare, recommends holistic guru Dr. Andrew Weil.
Sit upright with your spine straight and head slightly tilted forward. With eyes closed, take a few deep breaths to regulate your rhythm. Begin the exercise by counting “one” as you exhale. Count to two and up to five for each subsequent exhale before repeating the cycle. Do not exceed five counts while meditating on this technique for 10 minutes or longer.

Equal Breathing
Slip into your bed with the purpose of balancing your body and mind after a long day. Experts equate this yoga breath to counting sheep because it distracts you from anxious or racing thoughts.

Inhale through your nose for a count of four; then exhale for a count of four. Repeat this for as little or as long as you desire, eventually building up to eight counts. All the while, you should focus your breath and thoughts on calming your nervous system.
Relaxation breathing can take as little as five minutes or a hour, depending on your needs and time. The best part is you can do these exercises anywhere and anytime. All you need is to focus and, of course, get those lungs pumping.


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What Do You Need Before Buying a Car?

The bright, shiny car parkedshutterstock_123911596 in a dealer’s lot is calling out to you. However, a knee-jerk decision to buy this vehicle could do you more harm than good over an extended period
of time.

Looks can sometimes be deceiving for automotive shoppers. The vehicle you purchase might be the car of your dreams now, but the honeymoon period will wear off eventually, and a poor choice could leave you with higher-than-average car payments or costly repairs down the line.

The car-buying process can be difficult and time-consuming, but informed car buyers will devote plenty of time and attention to finding the right vehicles. In fact, people who understand the following car-buying essentials will enjoy their shopping experiences.

1. Financing – Automotive dealers have financing departments ready to serve prospective buyers, but diligent consumers can overcome potential roadblocks by submitting loan applications to local financial institutions in advance.

Car and Driver magazine points out that financial institutions often provide better interest rates to shoppers than they might otherwise receive at car dealers. In addition, buyers can establish budgets that show them how much they can afford to pay each month to acquire their dream cars.

2. Credit history – Poor credit can damage a shopper’s chance to make major purchases, but there is plenty that can be done to improve a person’s credit score quickly.

Submit credit report requests before buying a car. People are eligible to receive one free report from each of the three national credit reporting companies every 12 months under federal law. Consumers can take advantage of these opportunities to find out exactly how their credit histories could impact their car-shopping experiences.

3. Research – Evaluate the market to find the best prices on automobiles.

Browse the selection available at dealers online. Miscellaneous publications also provide details about a wide range of cars and trucks and help shoppers assess the pros and cons of different models.

In addition, consumers can contact automotive professionals to learn more about specific vehicles. Car dealers run promotions throughout the year, and cost-conscious buyers should review the offers available from different merchants.

4. Title and registration requirements – Contact the local Registry (or Department) of Motor Vehicles to learn about title and registration regulations. RMV guidelines vary throughout the country, and learning about title and registration expenses gives buyers extra time to map out their budgets.

Buying a new car can be great if you do your homework ahead of time.


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Nuts for a Healthy Diet

If you’re looking for a nutNuts_Diet_2 that’s also a nutritional powerhouse, don’t let those popular peanuts fool you — they’re not nuts, but legumes. Instead, consider cracking open these five protein-rich tree nuts to nosh your way to a healthier you.

Almonds
These teardrop-shaped nuts, both sweet and raw, are all-stars in the nut kingdom. Delivering delicious flavor and a favorite of fitness and beauty devotees, these gluten-free kernels are jam-packed with B-complex vitamins, like riboflavin and folates, that boost cellular growth. Add heavy doses of monounsaturated fatty acids and fiber and you also can lower your “bad” (LDL) cholesterol, prevent coronary heart disease, as well as colon cancer and constipation. Beauty devotees swear by almond oil’s ability to rejuvenate skin and hair by combating damaging oxygen-free radicals. Read more here.

Walnuts
Did you know there are 30 varieties of these all-natural snacks? Yet there is only one universal truth: antioxidant walnuts contain the highest level of omega-3 of all nuts. These essential fatty acids as are known to reduce the risk of dementia, cardiovascular disease and inflammation. Walnuts also receive props in the medical community for their ability to boost cognitive functions. It’s no wonder, then, these unshelled nuts look a little like the human brain. Lean more at www.walnuts.org.

Pistachios
Frequently found in Mediterranean diets, these green-hued nuts are a go-to for diabetics because they stem a tissue-damaging process called glycation. For the rest of us, pistachios’ beta carotene, just like carrots, improves your vision function. Dieters beware: these seemingly harmless nuggets are high in calories (more than 550 calories per half cup). However, that may good news for underweight folks looking to tack on an extra pounds. For more information, visit webmd.

Chestnuts
Strengthen your teeth and respiratory health with these low-calorie, starchy nuts, best known for roasting on an open fire. Chestnuts, an antioxidant high in vitamin C, also help repair tiny tears and leaks in blood vessels. European and Asian recipes frequently draw on these nuts, jam-packed with minerals, like iron, calcium, zinc and potassium, which thwart anemia and high blood pressure while boosting bone metabolism. Read more at www.livestrong.com.

Hazelnuts
Need some sleep? Crunch a handful of magnesium-rich hazelnuts, also known as filberts, to catch a little shuteye. These natural sleep inducers also rank number one among tree nuts for their high folate content, which helps prevent neural tube birth defects. Also, complex nutrient compounds, called proanthocyanidin, reduce the risk of urinary tract infections and blood clots. Discover more benefits at www.oregonhazelnuts.org.

Remember, even these super foods can be turned into a dietary sabotage. Consume nuts that are raw, unsalted and not drenched in cooking oil to achieve maximum health benefits.


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Staying on Top of Your Checking Account

Chances are you haveCheckingAccount a checking account that you use all the time, depositing paychecks, using a debit/check card, maybe even making automatic payments for regular bills. But when’s the last time you sat down and went over your account to make sure it’s all in working order?

Under the law, every financial institution is required to send you a monthly statement for your checking account. It might be sent by mail, or if you chose the electronic option most financial institutions offer these days, you’ll receive a monthly e-mail notification when your new statement is ready to view online. However you get your statement, it’s important to actually look it over every once in a while.

“While balancing a checkbook may seem like a thing of the past, the principles behind this practice are as valid as ever,” says finance columnist Andrew Freiburghouse. “In addition to preventing overdraft fees and catching erroneous charges, properly reconciling your checkbook can also allow you to take a better look at your financial habits.”

In other words, staying on top of your checking account is about more than making sure your financial institution hasn’t made any mistakes. It will also help you plan and keep a monthly budget. And if simply looking over your statement isn’t enough to give you a firm grip on the ins and outs of your checking account, there are plenty of tools that can help — even a simple spreadsheet can do the trick.

“We have columns for rent, dining, groceries, insurance, etc., with monthly targets,” says business owner and household financer Mandy Minor. “As I input our expenses, they get added up, so we can see in a second if we were over, under or on budget. Each month is a new sheet in the workbook, so it has years’ worth of data that’s easy to get to.”

Keeping a weather eye on your checking account is worth the time, but if you have a nice handle on your budget and are familiar enough with your personal finances, a monthly check-up doesn’t have to take too long.

“If you’re pressed for time, you can get away with examining just the account summary,” says financial adviser Susan Zimmerman. “It’s usually listed at the top of the page and it recaps the state of your account: previous balance, deposits and credits, checks and debits, service charges, interest paid and current balance. At a bare-bones minimum, look over the summary information and see if the figures are in the [ballpark.”]

If a quick scan of your checking account summary shows any discrepancies, delve a little deeper. Be sure to contact your financial institution immediately if you see anything amiss — the sooner you start dealing with any problems, the easier they will be resolved.

So take the first step in financial control and make sure you’re checking in with your checking account regularly. Your savings and investments will thank you.


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