When’s the last time you saw your spouse’s credit report?
Like Ronald Reagan used to say, "Trust, but verify." I strongly suggest couples request their credit reports annually and share them with each other. Many people, female and male alike, have been burned because they had no idea their spouse had mounting credit card debt on secret cards.
Not sure what’s involved in requesting and reading your credit report? Here’s the 411.
Your credit history is maintained by credit bureaus. These private companies collect information reported to them by banks and other creditors. Credit bureaus are permitted to report accurate negative credit information for seven years, and bankruptcy information for 6 to 14 years. This negative credit information cannot be deleted from your record within this time frame. Only information that is inaccurate can be corrected.
You can request a free copy of your credit report from Equifax Canada Inc (www.equifax.ca) or Trans Union of Canada (www.transunion.ca). Once you’ve received it, check it over to ensure it is accurate. You can deal with any mistakes yourself at no charge, and contact information for corrections is included in the report.
You might have seen ads promoting companies that will clear up your credit report or fix your credit. These are credit score repair scams – the companies are not reputable, and can’t do what they promise. After you pay ridiculously high fees, they usually disappear with your money. Other companies will take your money, then provide you with a report showing that the bad credit has been removed. They do this by submitting multiple requests to the credit bureau to verify the information. If the credit bureau cannot verify an entry within 60 days, it will remove the information from the report. However, when the information is later verified to be accurate, it will go back in the report.
If you have bad credit, the only way to fix it is time, and by improving your financial profile.
Who knew kids could grow out of all of their clothing, and lose all of their school supplies in the eight weeks since school let out in June? Of course they didn’t. So why do so many parents shop as if they had?
Here are some tips for those looking to spend less this year on clothing and school supplies.
Have the kids help. If children are involved in every step of the process, they’re less likely to badger and whine for items they understand are not in the budget. They’ll also ensure you don’t waste money buying items they’ll refuse to wear. Negotiate - if a new backpack isn't in the budget, maybe a new pencil case is?
Check the closets. Empty the closets and scour the house for last year’s school supplies and to see what clothing fits and what doesn’t, and which items bought on sale “for next year” really will fit this year.
Make a list. Not everything needs to be bought for September 1. Decide which items are needed to bulk up last year’s wardrobe and school supplies, and what you can wait to buy in after-Christmas sales.
Ignore the brands. Schools often identify which brand to purchase on the school supply list, and it can be more expensive than office supply store house brand versions. When in doubt, buy the least expensive brand.
Shop around. Keep an eye on flyers and check out the loss leaders, especially when it comes to school supplies. While large discount stores might have the overall best price, certain items can be much cheaper when office supply stores price them low to get you in the doors.
When you’re trying to lose weight, you might join a group or program that has an element of confession involved – to the group at large, or an individual leader. So when you’re trying to spend less money, you might be interested in joining a money club. But do they work?
A money club is a group of people who get together to have frank discussions about their finances, keeping each other accountable and providing positive support when it comes to staying on the right financial track. It’s not the same thing as an investment club, where investment club members pool financial contributions and investment advice to invest in companies or stocks in order to gain from each other’s wisdom and buying power.
The Canadian gurus of money clubs are Andrea Baxter, Angela Self, Katie Dunsworth, and Robyn Gunn, the co-authors of The Smart Cookies Guide to Making More Dough. The book is an inspiring read, and offers ideas on how to set up your own money club (and you can watch their top five tips on starting a money club here).
I’ve tried to set up a money club, and also to join an established club. Both attempts were failures unfortunately. The biggest problem is commitment and follow through by the participants (kinda like a diet!). Generally, most people are just going to lose interest. Or they might be interested, but getting a bunch of moms to agree on one night a month and not miss it because of their husband’s hockey practice, daughter’s dance recital, a sick baby, or no-show babysitters is really, really tough.
I’d love to hear from anyone who’s been part of a successful money club. What are your keys to success?
Image Credit: statesofmind.ca