NEW YORK — The math behind your credit score is getting an overhaul, with changes big enough that they might alter the behavior of both cautious spenders as well as riskier borrowers.
Most notably for those with high scores: Abiding by the golden rule of “don’t close your credit card accounts” may now hurt your standing. On the other side, those with low scores may benefit from the removal of civil judgments, medical debts and tax liens as factors.
Beyond determining whether someone gets approved for a credit card, a credit score can affect what interest rate and what spending limit are offered.
Sales downturns aren’t the only time to buy a new car. New model rollouts, carmakers’ redesign schedules and other events can uncover bargains for those who know how to read the tea leaves of the auto market.
Just picking an opportune time isn’t enough. First, cover the basics: Arrange financing, check local dealer inventories, and research pricing guides for the current market value of your desired vehicle.
Plunking a penny into a vase of water won’t help your blooms last longer. But there are some tricks that will.
Consumer Reports spoke to Kristin Schleiter, associate vice president for outdoor gardens and senior curator at the New York Botanical Garden. Here’s what will work:
There’s the retirement that looks like the commercials: biking, travel, enjoying the family.
And then there’s the one where you can’t get up the stairs anymore.
For the last seven years or so, Joseph Armendariz of West Covina, Calif., has watched the price of his annual Disneyland pass creep higher, prompting him to wonder when the cost finally would be out of reach.
Armendariz, who works at a community college administration office, paid $619 for his annual pass, which lets him into the park on all but 50 days of the year. If the charge continues to rise, he said he may be forced to get a cheaper $469 annual pass that blocks him for about 140 days.
Business or pleasure? No matter the reason, we all like to save money on travel, even if we’re heading to luxury resorts. Here are 10 tips culled from my own experience for saving on trips no matter where you’re heading.
You can often cut your costs in half by vacationing when other people stay home. You can save 30 percent to 40 percent by traveling in so-called “shoulder season,” which typically is during spring or fall when the kids have gone back to school. Off-season offers the most savings, and that’s when I like to go. Usually, the weather’s not perfect. I’d rather put on a coat to avoid the crowds and high prices.
You’ll have to buy kibble, a collar and a leash. That, plus the upfront cost of a new pup, pretty much covers it, right?
Not quite. Most new pet owners grossly underestimate what it actually costs to own a dog, say Wisconsin veterinarians Race Foster and Marty Smith, founders of the pet supply company Drs. Foster and Smith, on PetEducation.com.
Traveling costs money, but there are ways that you can cut back on your expenses and leave more cash for your next trip.
* Schedule at the right time: “Seasonal rates vary depending on where you’re headed, so be sure to do your research to determine the best time of year for your chosen destination,” said Anthony Tucker, All Inclusive Outlet.
People who spend too much outnumber, by far, those who spend too little. But the methods that therapists and financial planners use to help “underspenders” can guide the rest of us about when it’s OK to splurge and when we should resist.
Chronic underspenders can be so terrified about running out of money that they put off health care, ignore needed home repairs or descend into hoarding, says financial planner Rick Kahler of Rapid City, S.D. Framing certain expenditures as an investment and creating a plan that helps them see how much money they can spend without causing financial ruin can ease their distress, he says.
WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service’s battle against fraud and identity theft is intensifying as the tax filing season opens, and some of the neediest taxpayers are getting caught in the middle.
The agency is barred from issuing refunds before Feb. 15 on any returns claiming the Earned Income Tax Credit or the Additional Child Tax Credit. Congress mandated the delay to give the IRS more time to review returns to try to catch fraudulent ones before refunds are paid out.
Q: I want to estimate my retirement benefit at several different ages. Is there a way to do that?
A: Use our Retirement Estimator at www.socialsecurity.gov/estimator to get an instant, personalized retirement benefit estimate based on current law and your earnings record. The Retirement Estimator, which also is available in Spanish, lets you create additional “what if” retirement scenarios based on different income levels and “stop work” ages.
She’s got her sales pitch down, and last year, she sold 7,000 boxes of cookies. This year, she’s determined to do even more.
If you live anywhere near Hinsdale, Ill., you can expect a knock on your door from Grotto.
Most retirement advice has a flaw: It’s being given by people who haven’t yet retired.
So I asked money experts who have quit the 9-to-5 for their best advice on how to prepare for retirement.
It’s inevitable. As we age, our bodies and our brains change, and not always like fine wine. Cognitive skills decline as part of the normal aging process and in turn, so do some of our financial management skills.
Research shows that financial decision-making peaks around age 53, and by age 60 our ability to process new information starts to slow. The shift happens at a different pace for everyone, and it can be accelerated by medical conditions such as Alzheimer’s and dementia. While some people are capable of managing their own finances throughout their lifetime, others may find their skills suffering.
Financial security isn’t a number or a threshold. It has to do with what you spend, and save, relative to your income.
Nothing proves that quite like research on millionaires by wealth management firm UBS. Sixty percent of those with more than $5 million defined themselves as wealthy, compared with 28 percent of those worth $1 million to $5 million. Yet what millionaires mean by “wealthy” is not necessarily financial independence: Only 10 percent defined wealthy as not having to work. It’s not even a number; only 16 percent said surpassing a certain asset threshold automatically made you rich.
If you got a gift card that is going to sit untouched, what should you do? Here are a few options:
* Regift it: This may be your easiest solution. If you can’t use the card or just don’t want it, someone else might. So why not hand it over to a loved one who wants it? Gift cards are typically good for several years and there are no rules about changing hands.
If you’re on the fence about whether to return a gift this Christmas, you may not have as much time to decide as you used to. Or, you may have more time. It all depends on where you bought it.
A recent study by ConsumerWorld.org found some stores are shortening their return windows. Others are getting more generous and offering special extended holiday return periods, while most stores’ policies have remained about the same as last year.
Suffering from a pre-holiday “what to give” headache? The prescription may be a subscription.
Subscription gifts, one of the hottest retail trends, literally keep on giving: New installments arrive over the course of weeks or months.
ANN ARBOR, Mich. — When shopping for a low-priced used car, three things will become evident:
Some people want to swindle you.
The holidays are a time for giving.
As we have done in previous years, the Kenosha News has requested “wish lists” from local agencies that support our community so our readers will have an opportunity to extend their gift-giving to include these fine organizations.