ADVERTISEMENT

Money Talk: Aug. 28, 2018

August 29, 2018 GMT

GateHouse News Service

Understanding and managing your personal information is essential to achieving your life goals such as owning a home, financing an education, getting your next job or simply having the convenience of credit cards for everyday purchases.

Banks, landlords, employers and many others need to authenticate your identity and evaluate your creditworthiness to determine whether they can trust you to make payments if they lend you money. This behavior determines a person’s credit score.

So, how do you take control of your personal information and maintain good credit health? Here are a few key tips for financial health empowerment:

• Monitor your information regularly. According to TransUnion’s July 2017 Credit Literacy study, almost half of consumers thought checking your own credit score has the same effect as when a lender checks it. Fortunately, this is not the case.

ADVERTISEMENT

When you check your information, it is usually reported as a soft inquiry and ultimately does not impact your score. Checking your information regularly is encouraged and should be part of a habitual routine, much like regular exercise.

• Make payments on time. Paying your bills on time and in full each month will show you are reliable and more likely to pay back debts. Doing so will help grow your credit score, but remember, consistency is key. If you have missed a payment in the past, getting back on track and paying off debt should be a top priority. Having a positive history of on-time payments shows responsible behavior.

• Don’t use all your available credit. It is recommended to maintain a low credit utilization ratio, that is, how much of your available credit you’re using at any given time. This suggests to creditors you can use credit responsibly and do not rely on it too much. Try to use no more than 30 percent of your available credit.

• Building credit takes time. Building and maintaining a track record takes time, responsible financial behavior and smart credit usage. Therefore, it is important to start early and understand the implications of your decisions.

• Protect your information. You have a vital role to play in controlling who has access to your information, and there are tools readily available to do this. Protecting your information from fraud is critical.

THE LIST

According to Forbes, the top two-year trade schools for 2018 are:

1. Pittsburgh Institute of Aeronautics

2. North Central Kansas Technical College

3. State Technical College of Missouri

4. Lake Area Technical Institute (South Dakota)

5. Lancaster County Career & Technology Center (Pennsylvania)

6. Carolinas College of Health Sciences

7. Mitchell Technical Institute (South Dakota)

8. Salina Area Technical College (Kansas)

9. Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology (Pennsylvania)

10. Johnson College (Pennsylvania)

TECH TALK

Tariffs could raise consumer’s tech bills: As part of the U.S.-China trade war, many Americans could see a spike in prices for their favorite technology devices. Currently, the U.S. is considering additional tariffs on imports from China that could have Americans paying between $1.6 billion and $3.2 billion more for electronic products in 2019.