If you’re out of work and…

If you’re out of work and making ends meet with the help of a $300 a week federal unemployment extension, that extra money could disappear sooner than you expected. Officials in least 11 states have announced they plan to opt out of unemployment benefits early, before the extra $300 weekly benefit offered by the American Relief Plan ends Sept. 6.

Many have cited large numbers of unfilled jobs in their states, along with widespread availability of COVID-19 vaccines.

Is Your State Cutting Unemployment Benefits Early?

As of May 12, governors in the following 11 states have notified the U.S. Department of Labor that they plan to end extra jobless benefits early. More states are expected to follow.

Unemployed workers can still qualify for state benefits, but in some states, they’ll face stricter requirements. For example, many states are now requiring workers who receive benefits to document their job search, a mandate that was mostly waived at the start of the pandemic.

As states withdraw from federal unemployment programs, they won’t just be cutting the extra $300 a week. They’re also ending:

1. Alabama

Extra federal unemployment benefits end June 19. The maximum state benefit is $275 per week.

2. Arkansas

Extra federal unemployment benefits end June 26. The maximum state benefit is $451 per week.

3. Idaho

Extra federal unemployment benefits end June 19. The maximum state benefit is $463 per week.

4. Iowa

Extra federal unemployment benefits end June 12. The maximum state benefit is $481 per week.

5. Mississippi

Extra federal unemployment benefits end June 12. The maximum state benefit is $235 per week.

6. Missouri

Extra federal unemployment benefits end June 12. The maximum state benefit is $320 per week.

7. Montana

Extra federal unemployment benefits end June 26. The state will substitute expanded benefits with a one-time $1,200 “return to work” bonus. The maximum state benefit is $552 per week.

8. North Dakota

Extra federal unemployment benefits end June 19. The maximum state benefit is $618 per week.

9. South Carolina

Extra federal unemployment benefits end June 30. The maximum state benefit is $326 per week.

10. Tennessee

Extra federal unemployment benefits end July 30. The maximum state benefit is $275 per week.

11. Wyoming

Extra federal unemployment benefits end June 19. The maximum state benefit is $508 per week.

What to Do if Your Unemployment Benefits Are Ending

If your benefits are ending soon, consider looking for a bridge job, which is pretty much anything that can help pay the bills. It probably won’t be your dream job, but you can continue searching for work that’s a better fit. Due to widespread hiring shortages, you may find that even low-wage gigs are paying better than they did in the past.

If you aren’t quite ready to leave your home just yet, whether due to COVID-19 concerns or caregiving duties, try searching for an online job. While some opportunities require a high level of expertise, there are plenty of entry-level remote jobs available. The Penny Hoarder has a portal of vetted work-from-home job opportunities.

While you’re searching for your next full-time job, try earning extra money with a side hustle. Uber and Lyft drivers are in big demand right now. Both companies are reportedly offering bonuses to get more drivers on the road. You also may find that some side gigs, like pet-sitting and house-sitting, are in greater demand as some sense of normalcy returns.

Even if your state isn’t on the list yet, don’t count on your extended benefits continuing through early September. It’s essential to ramp up your job search now so that you have the best chance of landing employment before extra benefits end. Be sure to keep records of each job you’ve applied for in case you need to prove to your state’s unemployment office that you’re looking for work.

Robin Hartill is a certified financial planner and a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder. She writes the Dear Penny personal finance advice column. Send your tricky money questions to [email protected]



Source: thepennyhoarder.com

Get 15% Cash Back on Online Purchases this Week with Rakuten

If you do any of your shopping online, this is the week to do it. You can get 15% cash back on your online purchases.

We’re not kidding. Fifteen percent.

A free browser extension called Rakuten has the hookup with just about every website you shop on, which means it gives you a kickback every time you buy.

From May 10-17, it’s running a promotion called Big Give Week, where it’s offering 15% rebates from hundreds of stores, brands and services. This eight-day shopping bonanza covers a wide range of purchases including fashion and apparel, health and beauty, travel, electronics, home goods, subscription services, dining and more.

Another eye-opening offer: a whopping $30 referral bonus. If you refer a friend to Rakuten during Big Give Week, and they join and spend at least $30 on a qualifying purchase, both you and your friend receive a $30 reward. So between the two of you, you’d spend $30 to earn $60.

Once you download the browser extension (it’s safe and secure), it automatically does three cool things:

  1. It gets you cash back on your online purchases from more than 2,500 stores, including Target, Walmart, eBay, Kohl’s, Macy’s, Petco, Sam’s Club, Best Buy and Lowe’s.

  2. It automatically applies coupon codes at checkout. Ta-da!

  3. It alerts you when a product you’re about to buy is available at a lower price somewhere else. Because really, why overpay?

Then you get your cash back via PayPal or check.

Finally, Rakuten is an official partner of the NBA, so here’s one more thing about Big Give Week: If you make a qualifying purchase of at least $25 at select stores, you’re eligible to receive a free Fanatics-brand player T-shirt and a New Era 9Forty team hat from top NBA teams.

It takes less than 60 seconds to create a Rakuten account and start shopping. All you need is an email address, then you can immediately start shopping at your go-to stores through the site.

Mike Brassfield ([email protected]) is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder. He’s a giver.



Source: thepennyhoarder.com

How to Maximize Social Security Benefits for a Married Couple

Here is the scenario: You and your spouse are approximately the same age, and are asking yourselves and your financial guru about social security benefits. Chief in your minds is how to maximize social security benefits for a married couple.

You are approaching the age when you need to make decisions about taking Social Security payments. Neither of you are required to take such payments at any age, but you could certainly use one of the monthly payments for the expenses you have.

It is fairly common knowledge among people who are near or at the age when they can begin to accept Social Security payments that the longer they wait, the more they will receive in their monthly payment. In your situation, you probably know which spouse is in line to get the most money. That would be the one of you that made more money and thus contributed more.

So, let’s say you two have decided one of you needs to start taking Social Security benefits now. But which one of you? Do you take the higher earner’s benefits now and then add the lesser amount later, or do you let that greater amount grow and take the lesser amount now? How do you maximize Social Security benefits for a married couple?

A Couple’s Guide to Claiming Social Security

It’s a complicated question with a complicated answer. There are several points to consider before making the decision of whose benefits to claim first.

The Most Beautiful Part of Social Security

As federal entitlement programs go, Social Security is one of the most successful and most popular. Many senior citizens rely on their Social Security payments as their sole income, while others use it to supplement income from investments and savings. It’s a good idea to devise a retirement budget, considering all of the money you will have coming in — and how much will be going out.

But where Social Security best serves American citizens is in its treatment of married couples who likely have two Social Security accounts to consider.

Thanks to the creation of spousal benefits, married couples can employ some fairly complex mathematical equations to determine how best to maximize their benefits over time. Spouses who are going to hit full retirement age at the same time have an easier time with those complex mathematical equations because they are comparing oranges to oranges. This article will explain spousal benefits a bit later.

Terminology: A Reminder

There will be multiple references to “full retirement age,” which originally was 65 years of age, but has increased over time to 67 for workers born in 1960 or thereafter. Full retirement age is 66 years and 10 months for anyone born between 1955 and 1959, and 66 years for those born before 1955.

Once you turn 62, you can begin receiving Social Security benefits, but once you start, you are locked into that amount though you have 12 months to change your mind and halt payments. The longer you wait to start receiving benefits, the more money you receive monthly, up to the age of 70.

So, now let’s start figuring out which spouse should take Social Security benefits first when both spouses are approximately the same age.

Deciding Factor: Health

If one spouse earned much more money in their career than the other, their monthly Social Security payments will be significantly higher. But a couple must decide if the higher amount is needed for living expenses, because that higher amount is only going to grow up to age 70 as long as you don’t take the benefits early.

If your budget can allow you to wait, there are two other key determining factors to consider when deciding who should accept Social Security first: each spouse’s personal health prospects and each spouse’s desire to continue working past the age of 62.

Here is how health plays a role: If a spouse dies before they reach their full retirement age and have not started taking SS benefits, the surviving spouse will receive what the deceased spouse would have received at their full retirement age.

If a spouse dies after their full retirement age without taking benefits, the surviving spouse gets the full retirement benefit plus a Delayed Retirement Credit. If a spouse takes benefits before their full retirement age and then passes away, the surviving spouse gets the lower monthly amount rather than the larger full retirement amount.

This effectively causes citizens who have reached 62 years of age to hold off taking their SS benefits at their first opportunity. It also makes couples play a form of Russian Roulette; a spouse who might be considered most likely to die before reaching their full retirement age should NOT take their SS benefits early. (That will make for pleasant dinner conversation.)

Deciding Factor: Work Intentions

Now let’s consider work intentions. If one spouse wants to continue working past age 62, he or she should not take Social Security benefits because every dollar earned over a certain amount each month decreases their Social Security benefits. The amount you can earn each month is dependent on when the working spouse will (or did) reach their full retirement age.

However, if one spouse wants to continue working and NOT take their Social Security benefits yet, they are still contributing tax dollars to their Social Security account and their eventual monthly Social Security payments will be that much larger.

(This stipulation has become increasingly significant as life expectancy among men increases. Some people who need their Social Security payments do not want to retire completely, so they are allowed to make up to a certain amount a month without cutting into their monthly benefits.)

Now, About Those Spousal Benefits

Marriage is often touted as a great financial decision (two can live as cheaply as one; the married status for filing taxes) but it really comes in handy when it is time to collect Social Security benefits.

There are several factors involved, but the basic benefit is that when one spouse files for benefits, the other spouse may receive up to half of the first spouse’s benefits as well. The spousal benefit is only for those spouses who are also at least 62 years old, which works for the scenario this article is based upon.

Spousal benefits are also reduced if the first spouse takes his or her benefits before full retirement age.

The federal website for the Social Security Administration has a wealth of information as well as benefit calculators. There are also more than 1,200 field offices around the country with knowledgeable staff able to help you navigate your Social Security decisions with a focus on maximizing your benefits.

At least in the case of Social Security, the federal government really wants citizens to receive what they deserve as long-time members of the American workforce.

Kent McDill is a longtime journalist who has specialized in personal finance topics since 2013. He is a contributor to The Penny Hoarder.



Source: thepennyhoarder.com

How To Remove Public Records From Your Credit Report

public record

What is a public record?

Public records are information pertaining to legal matters that have a direct impact on your finances. They list things like paid and unpaid debts, legal liabilities, and your payment history.

They tell a creditor if you are a good risk for a loan. When you are taken to small claims court and a judge makes a ruling against you, this judgment is considered a public record.

Foreclosures, bankruptcy, tax liens, civil judgments, and lawsuits are all types of public records that the government is required to file and keep available for the public. Most public records stay on your credit report for seven years.

However, bankruptcies may remain as long as 10 years and unpaid tax liens can stay on your credit report indefinitely.

How to Remove a Public Record from Your Credit Report

Removing a public record from your credit report requires filing separate disputes with all three major credit bureaus.

If you have a public record on your credit report, you can attempt to dispute the negative information with the credit bureaus to have it removed. The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) gives consumers the ability to dispute incomplete and inaccurate information contained in their credit reports with the credit bureaus.

The credit bureaus decide whether or not a dispute is frivolous solely based on your communication and any proof that you can provide. Public records also involve government agencies and courts, some additional steps may need to be taken in addition to disputing the information with the credit bureaus.

This is one of the reasons that many people hire a credit repair company when it comes to repairing their credit and removing public records from their credit reports.

Get Public Records Removed Now!

If you’re looking for a reputable credit repair company to help you with public records and repair your credit, we HIGHLY recommend Lexington Law.

They can help you dispute (and possibly remove) the following items:

  • late payments
  • collections
  • charge offs
  • foreclosures
  • repossessions
  • judgments
  • tax liens
  • bankruptcies

Call them at (800) 220-0084 for a free credit consultation. They have helped plenty of people in your situation and have paralegals standing by waiting to take your call.

Bankruptcy (Public Record) Removed from Credit Report Report

bankruptcy removed from TransUnion

Discount for Family Members, Couples, and Active Military!

They are now offering $50 off the initial set-up fee when you and your spouse or family members sign up together. The one-time $50.00 discount will be automatically applied to both you and your spouse’s first payment.

Active military members also qualify for a one-time $50 discount off the initial fee.

Do public records affect your credit score?

Having a public record on your credit report negatively impacts your credit score. Public records can be a deciding factor when a lender is making a financial decision.

Having a tax lien, civil judgment, or bankruptcy removed once they are on is a time-consuming job. If you have records that are dragging your credit score down get professional help to have them removed. If you’re able to remove any kind of negative information from your credit report it should definitely improve your credit score.

What kind of information is included in a public record?

If you file for bankruptcy, the amount the court found you legally responsible to pay will be listed. There will also be an exempt amount. This is the amount the court says you are not responsible to pay.

Lastly, there will be an asset amount for the number of personal assets the court used to make its decision. These will all be listed under the bankruptcy and are the kind of public records that can significantly lower your credit ratings and affect your borrowing power.

Some other things that you might find in your public records might be things you consider personal, things like if you have had financial counseling, a financial statement, garnishments, and financial marital claims from a divorce. However, all of these things affect your income and so they affect your credit.

What information is not part of your public record?

You may feel like your whole life is on display, but it’s not entirely. There are a few categories of strictly confidential records that are protected by law. Confidential records include welfare benefits, income tax, education level, and medical and criminal records.

These records are kept confidential because they contain Social Security numbers, your contact information, health history, and your financial information.

How are public records made public?

The government takes making public records available to the public very seriously. It runs a service called PACER that is provided by the federal judiciary. PACER is short for Public Access to Court Electronic Records.

This is an electronic public access service. It lets users get case and docket information from federal appellate, district, and bankruptcy courts, via the Internet.

The federal website for PACER says that it currently hosts over 500 million case file documents. These are available immediately after they have been electronically filed.

This is one of the ways your records become public records. This also allows your information to be reported to the three credit reporting agencies.

Keeping Information Off of Public Records

If you are facing small claims court or some other kind of financial dispute, it would be beneficial for you to settle out of court and avoid a public record on your credit report.

It is usually better to deal with your creditors directly if possible. Adverse records can affect your credit whether they are paid or unpaid.

Criminal history is not a public record that will be included in your credit report. It is illegal for credit reporting agencies to use your past criminal history in deciding your credit score.

Have you been taken to small claims court and lost? If so, you probably have a public record of some sort on your credit report usually in the form of a judgment.

When You Donate Blood, You Save Lives and Earn Gift Cards

One pint of blood can save three lives. That alone is what drives people to roll up their sleeves and get that needle prick. But there’s another good reason to sign up to be a regular blood donor: Gift cards.

You get a lot more than a T-shirt and some peanut butter crackers these days when you donate blood. Blood collection organizations routinely give out $20 worth of gift cards to Amazon, restaurants and major retailers at blood drives. You can give blood every 56 days, or six times a year.

So, a couple can average $240 in perks and save 36 lives in one year. For a family of four with kids above 16 and old enough to donate, that’s about $500 in gift cards per year and 72 lives saved.

“One time we went to Kohl’s and there was a blood drive in the parking lot,” said Beverly Mattis of Wake Forest, N.C. “They gave us each a $20 Kohl’s gift card so my daughter and I went in and did some shopping afterward.”

A man wearing a face mask shows off his gift certificates after donating blood.
Exavier Jones shows off his $10 gift certificate after donating blood at a OneBlood Big Red Bus in St. Petersburg, Fla. Chris Zuppa/The Penny Hoarder

Exavier Jones gave blood recently at a OneBlood mobile collection bus outside casual dining restaurant Carrabba’s Italian Grill in St. Petersburg.

“I’m type O. That’s always needed, so I try to give as often as I can,” he said, explaining that any blood type can accept type O blood. He received a $10 Carrabba’s gift card and a $10 e-gift card to use at one of a variety of retailers.

How to Get the Perks of Being a Regular Blood Donor

If you register to be a blood donor with the blood collection organization in your area, you will receive texts or emails with dates of upcoming blood drives and the perks. There are many blood collection organizations around the country. Here are three of the biggest, and how to register:

There’s no requirement that you give a certain number of times a year, but there is encouragement.

OneBlood, which collects blood in the Southeast, partnered with Carrabba’s to give $10 gift cards each time someone donated between January and April. Those who gave twice received an additional $25 gift card along with the two $10 cards.

“I got $10. I’m going to go inside and have a lasagna dinner tonight,” said Bill Howard after donating at the Carrabba’s in St. Petersburg.

The gift cards are nice for sure, he said, but the main reason he gives regularly is because he was stabbed during the Vietnam War and needed a lot of blood to survive. He wants to save others like a stranger’s blood once saved him.

A man wearing a camouflage hat poses for a portrait outside of a blood donation bus.
Bill Howard donates blood regularly because his life was saved by a person who donated blood after he was stabbed in the Vietnam War. Chris Zuppa/The Penny Hoarder

“I would say most of the time at almost all of our drives our intention is to have a donor gift,” said Pat Michaels, OneBlood director of media relations. “It could be Carrabba’s, Publix, Red Lobster. We have built up some wonderful partners,” he said.

OneBlood also gives out tickets donated by the Miami Dolphins, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Jacksonville Jaguars, the Daytona 500 and Carowinds amusement park near Charlotte, N.C.

Along with gift cards and tickets, many blood collection groups also give out swag such as beach towels, fleece blankets, car sun shades and insulated water bottles.

Vitalant, which is based in Scottsdale, Ariz., is the largest nonprofit blood service provider in the country serving 40 states. It hosts more than 30,000 blood drives a year and offers a variety of perks and incentives for blood donors.

Vitalant is partnering with the Arizona Diamondbacks to encourage high school students there to organize blood drives at school. The team will host more than 1,000 students from blood drive committees. Organizers from the two schools who achieve the most donations will share a party suite at a Diamondbacks game.

Vitalant is also encouraging women to organize a blood drive with friends the same as they might host a party at their homes selling jewelry or clothes. An organizer can invite eight friends to a private party at a collection center that’s catered with fun food where donors receive gift cards and other swag.

For donors with a sweet tooth, Vitalant recently promoted a pint-for-a-pint offer. Donors who gave a pint of blood received a voucher for a free pint of frozen custard at Culver’s.

The American Red Cross recently offered $5 Amazon gift cards to some donors, and their names were entered for a chance to win a trip for four to the 2022 Indianapolis 500. Winners will receive pit credentials, airfare, hotel accommodations and a $500 gift card. Other Red Cross blood drives enter donors’ names in a drawing for a chance to win a $1,000 e-Gift card to one of several stores.

More Perks for Donating Platelets

Platelets are small cells that stop bleeding by forming clots. Donated platelets are used for cancer patients, transplants, burn patients and traumatic injuries.

When someone donates platelets, a machine extracts them from whole blood then returns the rest of the blood back to the donor. The process takes about three hours.

Because it takes longer than donating whole blood, more perks are offered for people who give platelets, which can be donated every seven days. OneBlood recently challenged platelet donors to a two-month program offering gift cards valued at $25 for their second donation, $50 for their third and $75 for their fourth.

It is also promoting a three month challenge, offering gift cards valued at $25 for the second donation, $50 for the third, $75 for the fourth, $100 for the fifth and $125 for the sixth. That’s a total of $375 in gift cards in three months.

People line up at a blood donation bus to donate blood.
According to Givingblood.org, only 37% of the U.S. population can donate blood. Less than 10 percent of those people donate blood at least once a year. Chris Zuppa/The Penny Hoarder

Constant Need Increased During the Pandemic

Even in typical times, blood collection organizations are constantly trying to recruit more donors. Only 37% of the U.S. population is eligible to donate blood, and less than 10 percent of those people do so at least once a year, according to Givingblood.org.

Numerous impacts of COVID-19 made it even harder to reach and encourage donors, according to Michaels at OneBlood.

“There has been every reason for there to be a shortage of blood drives,” he said. Blood drives at colleges, high schools and office buildings were cancelled for months on end because they were closed.

“We had to recover by creating new partnerships,” Michaels said. OneBlood worked with county elections offices across the country as well as hundreds of homeowners associations to connect with groups of people who would sign up for blood drives, he said.



Source: thepennyhoarder.com

Does Checking Your Credit Lower Your Credit Score?

Everyone knows how important your credit score is — from getting approved for a credit card to getting lower interest rates on loans. It’s important to keep your credit score up so you can get the best credit offers.

what's your credit score?

Even if you don’t need to access that credit right now, you should be prepared for when an emergency arises and you could use some extra funds.

While checking your credit score helps you know where you currently stand and how you’re improving over time, some types of credit inquiries can cause damage. Learn the differences between each type of credit check so you can keep your credit score as high as possible.

What’s the difference between hard inquiries and soft inquiries?

A credit inquiry happens when you, a lender, or other third party requests a copy of your credit report from one of the three major credit bureaus: Experian, Equifax, or TransUnion.

They can then use the data on your report to generate customized credit offers, confirm your personal information, and more. Exactly who can access your credit report is regulated by the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). You can also authorize others to view your credit report if you wish.

There are two different types of credit inquiries: hard and soft. The difference comes from who exactly is accessing your report and why.

Hard Inquiries

Typically any application for credit you make will result in a hard credit inquiry.

This can include credit card, personal loan, mortgage, and car loan applications. Collection agencies may also access your credit report to try and find your location, resulting in a hard inquiry.

Soft Inquiries

A soft inquiry, on the other hand, typically occurs as part of a background check rather than a full credit analysis. Applying for a pre-approval from a creditor to get a rate quote is one of the most common reasons for a soft inquiry.

However, soft inquiries can also be performed even if you aren’t applying for credit. For example, they can be used as part of the screening process for potential landlords and employers.

Insurance companies, utility companies, and cell phone providers, for example, may also check your credit However, those inquiries don’t result in accumulating new debt. They’re considered soft inquiries.

Finally, checking your own credit score only counts as a soft inquiry. Checking your credit score does NOT hurt your credit score as long as you are not actually applying for a loan.

You don’t ever want to apply for credit just to check your credit score. If you do, it counts as a hard inquiry. However, if you buy your credit score from myFICO or get it for free at any of the sites offering free credit scores, it will not count against you.

See also: 13 Credit Cards Offering Free FICO Credit Scores

Potential creditors can perform a soft inquiry to help tailor customized credit offers for you based on your credit profile. That’s how you end up with pre-approval offers in the mail for credit cards, personal loans, and refinancing.

If you don’t want those creditors accessing your information and filling your mailbox with junk mail, you can opt-out by visiting OptOutPrescreen.com.

How do inquiries affect your credit score?

Hard inquiries impact your credit score in a few different ways. First, all hard pulls stay on your credit history for two years. They’re individually listed in a section towards the end of your credit report.

Each one causes a slight dip in your credit score, though usually no more than five points or so. Credit inquiries stay on your credit report for up to 2 years. However, the damage only lasts for about a year.

Recently, credit scoring models have changed to accommodate consumers’ tendencies to shop around for offers. For example, if you’ve made several car loan inquiries within a short period of time, usually within 30 to 45 days, they will only count as a single hard inquiry.

Lenders still see each inquiry, but this typically doesn’t cause alarm since it appears you’ve only been shopping around for the best rates.

Do credit card inquiries hurt my credit score?

Too many credit card inquiries, can raise a red flag when a potential lender is reviewing your credit report during the application process. This is true for a couple of different reasons.

First, credit card inquiries aren’t usually lumped together as part of rate shopping. The other worrisome part for lenders is that it can take time for a new line of credit to show up on your credit report. Lenders may not feel confident that all of your current accounts and balances are listed on your credit report.

You could potentially have new credit cards and outstanding balances, making the lender’s debt to income ratio calculations inaccurate. There’s just no way for them to know. So, it’s ideal to stop applying for credit cards well before you need to apply for other types of loans.

The good news is that soft credit inquiries don’t have any effect on your credit score at all. That’s why shopping for credit through pre-approvals is a safe way to find the best rates and terms. It allows you to get rates from as many lenders as you’d like without hurting your credit.

Future potential lenders can’t see soft inquiries on your credit report. They don’t use that information when evaluating your application.

Can you dispute a hard inquiry?

Yes, hard inquiries can be disputed if you think one or more have been inaccurately listed on your credit report. According to the FCRA, creditors must receive your authorization before conducting a hard inquiry. If you’re considering disputing any inquiries, start off by checking all three credit bureaus.

Not all creditors report to all three bureaus, so the information could be listed differently on each one. Plus, each credit bureau has its own dispute process. So, successfully disputing an inquiry on one report will have no effect on the other two.

Contact the Creditor First

If you don’t recognize one or more of the inquiries listed on your credit reports, start by contacting the creditor directly. It’s best to write a formal letter and request a return receipt via certified mail. That way you can keep extensive records and time the company’s responsiveness.

They are required by law to provide proof that you authorized the inquiry through a credit card application or some other type of documentation. If they can’t, they must instruct the credit bureau to remove the inquiry from your credit report.

File a Credit Bureau Dispute If Necessary

Often, the credit card company may just remove it rather than going through the hassle of digging up old paperwork. If you have difficulty working with the credit card issuer, you can also file a dispute directly with the credit bureau.

When deciding whether or not to dispute hard inquiries, look at your overall credit situation. It may not be worth your time if you only expect to get one or two inquiries removed. After all, that will probably only result in an increase of a few points.

If you have significant negative items on your credit report, your time may be better spent concentrating on getting some of those removed.

Still, you might want to remove inaccurate hard inquiries if you are about to apply for a major loan and want your credit history as clean as possible. That way you don’t have to worry about the lender seeing so many inquiries listed over the last two years.

How can you safely monitor your credit score?

When you’re trying to raise your credit scores, it’s important to check it regularly to see which of your financial behaviors are having a positive impact and which ones are causing damage.

Checking your own credit report doesn’t affect your credit scores and neither does signing up for a credit monitoring service. You get regular updates on your progress. Plus, you can also feel safe knowing that you’ll quickly be able to detect any potential identity theft or fraud.

For a comprehensive list of the best credit monitoring services available, check out our reviews.

If you’re simply interested in getting your credit score on a regular basis, ask your bank or credit card company if they offer a free credit check service. You might get access to your credit scores each month as part of your member benefits.

Understanding how credit inquiries work can save you a lot of grief and aggravation when it comes time to apply for new credit. Check your credit reports at least once a year to make sure you stay on top of any inaccuracies or errors, then follow up with any incorrect information you find.

By keeping your credit report and your credit score clean and up to date, you’ll have an easy time the next time you need to get a loan or new credit card.

8 Tips for How to Sell on Craigslist

Most of us have probably taken a deep, exasperated breath while surveying our homes, wondering how we managed to accumulate so much clutter. But there might be a way to turn that clutter into cash. It comes down to one word: Craigslist.

8 Tips for Selling on Craigslist

Selling on Craigslist seems easy, but it requires some know-how to get the intended result and money in your wallet. We scoured the Internet for the best tips.

So list that chair you’ve always hated. We’re here to help you find success and sell more of your items on Craigslist.

1. Take Photos That Work

Ever seen a Craigslist listing with an object you can’t quite make out? Is that a nightstand or a coffee table? Are they selling the whole dining room table set or just one chair?

A good photo can make your listing stand out while a bad photo has the potential to shut down any business. Take a good photo by posing your object in a well-lit spot, whether it’s in natural light or a warm artificial glow, and focus on the details that make your object special. Only photograph what you’re selling — leave extraneous things out of the picture.

2. It’s In the Details

Your listing can’t simply be a photo and the name of the object. You need a description and any relevant details — think dimensions or number of items or even age of the item, if relevant. It’s ideal for your listing to answer all of the questions a potential buyer might have so they don’t have time to really agonize over their purchase.

3. Tell the Truth

That being said, it’s important to be honest in your listing. If your couch has stains or your wooden dresser is chipped, add images that show the damage. Point that out to potential buyers in your description. People will be more likely to buy an item when they feel they are getting an upfront understanding of it.

One example: do not post the catalogue image of your piece of furniture from when it was brand new. (People do this.) Take a photo of your furniture piece as is — after all, that’s what you’re selling.

4. Be Simple

While you should absolutely share relevant details, there’s no need to tell the story of how your kids bounced around on these couch cushions or how the table was passed down in the family generation after generation. Potential buyers know they’re browsing for a used object, but they don’t want the legacy that comes with it. They want it to feel like their own.

And stick to simplicity in your listing title. Potential buyers often search for specific objects — trash cans or mirrors — and they likely won’t be searching with various adjectives.

5. Offer Delivery

Potential buyers love it when Craigslist sellers offer delivery. It’s an added perk and makes things easier, especially when the site caters to people from all over. Make sure to add a higher cost for delivery — whatever seems worth it to you based on location — and be safe. Bring someone along with you when you go to deliver.

6. The Price is Right

It really does boil down to whether the asking price is right. Craigslist is known for sellers that practically give items away, so it’s better to price your listing lower rather than higher. Interest is always key, and if you price it too high, you may have no takers.

But make sure you price your item at a level with which you’re comfortable. It’s not worth giving something away if it has sentimental value and you think it can go for more.

7. Reach Out to Your Network

Word of mouth is a powerful tool. If you think you might know someone in your social network — whether that’s Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or more — who might be interested in what you’re selling, share it on those forums.

And better yet, if you have a specific buyer in mind, feel free to be direct and share your listing with friends and family. If it doesn’t work for them, they may know the right person.

8. Always Be Safe

Always remember that you are dealing with strangers online on Craigslist. If someone is coming to your house or you are going to theirs, have a friend with you. Don’t assume that you will be fine if you are alone. Entering a stranger’s house or allowing a stranger to enter yours always comes with risk. It’s better to be prepared and meet in a public place if that is the only way the meeting can take place.

Writer Elizabeth Djinis is a contributor to The Penny Hoarder, often writing about selling goods online through social platforms. Her work has appeared in Teen Vogue, Smithsonian Magazine and the Tampa Bay Times.



Source: thepennyhoarder.com