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Clean Up Your Finances (Collection)

Book Description

Today, people struggling with debt have far fewer options: lenders are stingier, which makes it harder to avert disaster, or to recover from setbacks like foreclosure, short sales, or bankruptcy. (Meanwhile, people with good credit have more options than ever, including some of the lowest interest rates in decades.) Debtors need an up-to-date guide that can help them assess options, find help, discover opportunities, and take action that works. Liz Weston's Deal with Your Debt, Updated and Revised Edition is that guide.

Most "conventional wisdom" about debt is just dead wrong. People are told to pay it all off, and live forever without it. Doing that can leave them a lot poorer in the long run. They're more likely to give up, or pay off the wrong debts. They may give themselves too little flexibility to survive a financial crisis. They could neglect saving for retirement. They may even wind up in bankruptcy -- just what they're trying to avoid! For most people, it's more realistic -- and smarter -- to control and manage debt effectively.

In Your Credit Score: How to Improve the 3-Digit Number That Shapes Your Financial Future, 4/e, Weston thoroughly covers brand-new laws changing everything from how your credit score can be used to how you can communicate with collectors. This edition also adds:

  • Simple graphics revealing exactly how much skipped payments, bankruptcies, and other actions will lower your scores, and how long it takes to rebound.

  • New information on "FAKO" alternative scores.

  • Expanded coverage of the impact of short sales and foreclosures, the new FICO 8 Mortgage Score, and deciding when to "walk away".

  • An all-new chapter on safeguarding against unethical or illegal use of credit scores by employers.

  • Expanded coverage of credit scoring by insurers.

 Weston also updates her guidance on using FICO 08 to raise your score… fighting lower limits or higher rates… maintaining the right mix of cards and balances… bouncing back from bad credit… choosing credit "solutions" that help, not hurt… and much more!

Table of Contents

  1. About This eBook
  2. Title Page
  3. Copyright Page
  4. Contents
  5. Your Credit Score: How to Improve the 3-Digit Number That Shapes Your Financial Future
    1. Copyright Page
    2. Praise for the Previous Edition of Your Credit Score
    3. Dedication Page
    4. Acknowledgments
    5. About the Author
    6. Introduction
    7. 1. Why Your Credit Score Matters
      1. How Your Credit Score Affects You
      2. What It Costs Long Term to Have a Poor or Mediocre Credit Score
      3. How Credit Scoring Came into Being
      4. How Credit Use Has Changed over the Years
      5. Consumer’s Fight for Truth About Credit Scores
      6. Credit Controversies
    8. 2. How Credit Scoring Works
      1. What Is a Good Score?
      2. Your Credit Report: The Building Blocks for Your Score
      3. How Your Score Is Calculated
      4. The Five Most Important Factors
      5. Your Credit Scorecard
      6. Your Results Might Differ
      7. How Do I Get My Score?
      8. What Hurts, and for How Long
      9. New Versions of the FICO Score
    9. 3. FICO Versus “FAKO”—Competitors to the Leading Score
      1. The VantageScore Scale
      2. How VantageScores Are Calculated
      3. Comparing the Scoring Systems
      4. Some Rules Remain the Same
      5. So Which Is Better?
      6. VantageScore’s Future
      7. Other Scores Lenders Use
    10. 4. Improving Your Score—The Right Way
      1. Step 1: Start with Your Credit Report
      2. Step 2: Pay Your Bills on Time
      3. Step 3: Pay Down Your Debt
      4. Step 4: Don’t Close Credit Cards or Other Revolving Accounts
      5. Step 5: Apply for Credit Sparingly
      6. Credit Scores Without Credit
    11. 5. Credit-Scoring Myths
      1. Myth 1: Closing Credit Accounts Will Help Your Score
      2. Myth 2: You Can Boost Your Score by Asking Your Credit Card Company to Lower Your Limits
      3. Myth 3: You Can Hurt Your Score by Checking Your Own Credit Report
      4. Myth 4: You Can Hurt Your Score by Shopping Around for the Best Rates
      5. Myth 5: You Don’t Have to Use Credit to Get a Good Credit Score
      6. Myth 6: You Have to Pay Interest to Have a Good Credit Score
      7. Myth 7: Adding a 100-Word Statement to Your File Can Help Your Score if You Have an Unresolved Dispute with a Lender
      8. Myth 8: Your Closed Accounts Should Read “Closed by Consumer,” or They Will Hurt Your Score
      9. Myth 9: Credit Counseling Is Worse Than Bankruptcy
      10. Myth 10: Bankruptcy Hurts Your Score So Much That It’s Impossible to Get Credit
    12. 6. Coping with a Credit Crisis
      1. Step 1: Figure Out How to Free Up Some Cash
      2. Step 2: Evaluating Your Options
      3. The Real Scoop on Credit Counseling
      4. Debt Settlement: A Risky Option
      5. Should You File for Bankruptcy?
      6. The Effects of Bankruptcy Reform
      7. The Type of Bankruptcy That You File Matters
      8. Should You Walk Away from Your Home?
      9. Step 3: Choose Your Path and Take Action
    13. 7. Rebuilding Your Score After a Credit Disaster
      1. Part I: Credit Report Repair
      2. Scrutinize Your Report for Serious Errors
      3. Know Your Rights
      4. Part II: Adding Positive Information to Your File
      5. Part III: Use Your Credit Well
    14. 8. Identity Theft and Your Credit
      1. New Options That Might Help
      2. How to Reduce Your Exposure to Identity Theft
      3. What to Do if You’re Already a Victim
      4. What to Do if the Credit Bureau Won’t Budge
    15. 9. Emergency! Fixing Your Credit Score Fast
      1. Repairing Your Credit in a Matter of Hours: Rapid Rescoring
      2. Boosting Your Score in 30 to 60 Days
      3. What Typically Doesn’t Work
    16. 10. Insurance and Your Credit Score
      1. History of Using Credit Scores to Price Insurance Premiums
      2. But What’s the Connection?
      3. What Goes into an Insurance Score
      4. Keeping a Lid on Your Insurance Costs
    17. 11. Can Bad Credit Cost You a Job?
    18. 12. Keeping Your Score Healthy
      1. The Do’s of Credit Health
      2. The Don’ts of Credit Health
      3. Credit and Divorce: How Your Ex Can Kill Your Score
      4. In Conclusion: The Three-Year Solution
    19. Index
  6. Deal with Your Debt: Free Yourself from What You Owe, Updated and Revised
    1. Copyright Page
    2. Praise for the First Edition of Deal with Your Debt
    3. Dedication Page
    4. Acknowledgments
    5. About the Author
    6. Introduction
    7. 1. Isn’t Debt-Free the Way to Be?
      1. Debt Isn’t the Enemy
      2. When “Good Debt” Isn’t
      3. Which Debts Should You Tackle First?
      4. Why Debt Management Sounds Strange
      5. When Debt Repayment Plans Go Awry
      6. Addressing the Ants as Well as the Grasshoppers
      7. Debt-Free Is the Way to Be—Eventually
      8. Summary
    8. 2. Your Debt Management Plan
      1. Get Intimate with Your Debt
      2. Assess Your Financial Situation
      3. Save or Pay Off Debt First?
      4. Case Studies
      5. Create Your Game Plan
      6. If You’re Already Drowning
      7. Summary
    9. 3. Credit Cards
      1. Our Love Affair with Credit
      2. The True Cost of Carrying a Balance
      3. Gotchas for Those Who Pay Their Balances
      4. The Right Way to Pay Off Credit Card Debt
      5. Getting the Right Reward Card
      6. Summary
    10. 4. Mortgages
      1. Myth #1: It’s a Good (or Lousy) Time to Buy a Home
      2. Myth #2: A House Is a Great Investment
      3. Myth #3: Buying Is Always Better Than Renting
      4. Myth #4: Homeownership Comes with Great Tax Breaks
      5. The Right Reasons to Buy
      6. How Much House Should I Buy?
      7. What Kind of Mortgage Should I Get?
      8. How Do I Get a Good Mortgage Deal?
      9. When and How Should I Refinance?
      10. When Should I Prepay a Mortgage?
      11. Summary
    11. 5. Home Equity Borrowing
      1. The Dangers of Home Equity Lending
      2. Home Equity Loans Versus Lines of Credit
      3. Questions to Ask Before You Borrow
      4. Summary
    12. 6. Student Loans
      1. So What’s the Good News?
      2. How Much Should I Borrow?
      3. Where Should I Get My Loans?
      4. What If It’s Already Too Late?
      5. What About Paying Off My Student Loans with Home Equity Debt—or Credit Cards?
      6. Summary
    13. 7. Auto Loans
      1. How Cars Cost Us
      2. Why It’s Bad to Owe More on Your Car Than It’s Worth
      3. How Often You Buy Cars Matters, Too
      4. The Proper Role of Cars in Our Spending
      5. Ways to Keep Costs Down
      6. Summary
    14. 8. 401(k) and Other Retirement Plan Loans
      1. Types of Plans That Offer Loans
      2. The Real Cost of Retirement Plan Loans
      3. Cracking Your Nest Egg Early
      4. The Hidden Cost of Withdrawals
      5. Summary
    15. 9. Loans You Don’t Want to Get—or Give
      1. Three More Loans to Beware Of
      2. Why You Don’t Want to Cosign a Loan
      3. The Right Way to Make a Personal Loan
      4. Summary
    16. 10. Dealing with a Debt Crisis
      1. Dealing with Your Creditors
      2. Dealing with Collection Agencies
      3. What If Your Creditors Won’t Budge?
      4. Summary
    17. 11. Putting Your Debt Management Plan into Action
      1. Lower Your Interest Rates
      2. Track Your Spending
      3. Trim Your Expenses
      4. Look for Cash
      5. Review Your Priorities
      6. Stay on Track
      7. Some Final Thoughts
    18. Index
    19. FT Press