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Archive for July, 2011

How to Save on Tuition and Other College Costs

July 29th, 2011 at 06:16 pm

Like just about everything in the world today, the price of a college education is not cheap. There are so many things that must be purchased and taken into consideration before class even starts. If you are stressing about the price of tuition and other college costs, you will be glad to know there are ways to save money on these things. You should definitely take a moment to look into them.


If you think scholarships are only for the most exceptional students, think again. Many scholarships nowadays only require you to carry a 2.5 GPA in order to be eligible for them, meaning they are fair game to average students as well. Scholarships are a great way to lower the amount of money you pay for college tuition, show initiative, and they look great on a resume as well. If you are wondering where to look for scholarships, it is a good idea to start at businesses in your community. Consider your parentsí places of work as well, as they often offer scholarships to children of employees. This of course depends on the type of business, but it is worth looking into. Websites that list about every type of scholarship available are worth checking out, too. There are scholarships that recognize your heritage, college major, year in college, and more. You should apply for as many scholarships as possible, because the more scholarships you receive, the less you will have to pay in tuition.

Community Colleges

Community colleges are great places for students to start out, as they are smaller and much more affordable. This means you will be saving money on tuition and other college costs, while still receiving a quality education. Many students choose to attend community colleges for their first two years of school, and then transfer to larger universities to complete their education. The amount of money you can save by doing this is quite astounding. Just be sure that the credits you receive from your community college will transfer to the university of your choice. These days, many large universities offer incentive programs that include scholarships and guaranteed acceptance for transfer students. You may also want to consider

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online colleges, which sometimes charge lower tuition and eliminate the cost to commute.

Consider Used Books

Many students do not realize how expensive college textbooks can be and are blindsided when it comes time to buy them. Luckily many books can be bought in used condition. Purchasing used books can save you quite a large sum of money. Although they are not always in perfect shape, the material is present and that is what matters. It is good to know that not all books can be purchased used, as some courses and instructors require new books. You should also keep in mind that many books can be sold after you have completed a course. This can give you extra money in your pocket, which is always a plus while in college.

These things can really help you save money on college-related expenses. There are also various other costs to consider when it comes to college, such as supplies, transportation, and housing. If you can be smart and frugal when it comes to these things, you should save money as well. It is not always easy to be that way, but in the long run it will be worth it.

How to Do a Background Check on Your Bank

July 13th, 2011 at 06:11 pm

In the wake of the recent economic crisis, many banks and other financial institutions are finding themselves barely treading water or simply going under. Trust in your bank and its financial strength is essential--the last thing you want to do is put your hard-earned money at risk. If you have concerns about your bank or are wondering if it would be a good time to switch, why not do a

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background check and find out for yourself? It may be worth your peace of mind to find out exactly where your bank stands, and how they're doing amidst the struggles of our economy.

Do Your Own Online Investigation

Make a checklist of information you want to find out about your bank. Important things to look for include whether or not your bank is FDIC insured, FDIC enforcements actions taken, total assets, and growth rate--in other words, are your bank's assets growing at an alarming speed, a snail's pace, or at a normal, average pace. Some of this information can be verified by visiting the FDIC website. The O.C.C. (Office of the Comptroller of the Currency) site is another resource that can be used to track your bank's past and current situations including merges, closings, relocations, and more. There are also several sites that you can use to find out how your bank rates completely free of charge. The information that you get from a free bank rating site may be minimal, but if your bank has a poor rating, that may be all you need to see to place your money elsewhere.

Get a Detailed Bank Report

If you don't have the time to do some investigative work yourself, there are plenty of sites that will do the work for you. The cost of a detailed report varies from site to site, and may be calculated based on the amount of in-depth information you seek. The average detailed bank report will compare your bank to other financial institutions and give you a thorough analysis on whether or not it has sufficient capital, its profitability, how much money it has available, and more.

Keep Yourself Informed

Another way to continually keep an eye on your bank is to stay on top of the latest bank news. You can gather a lot of valuable information from financial news reports, journals, websites, and bank-related blogs. Also, periodically check your bank's website so you're aware of any changes or news that might be relevant to you. You can always cross-check information you find by re-visiting the FDIC site for verification.

To find out what's going on with your current financial institution, it's very easy to slip into the role of an investigator and conduct a bank-background check. There are plenty of online resources to help you find out everything you need to know so that you can either restore your faith in your bank, or find a better place to safeguard your treasure.

How to Protect Your Child from Identity Theft

July 11th, 2011 at 05:36 pm

With the constant rise of identity theft, it was only a matter of time before our children became the target. As a parent we do everything we possibly can to protect our children, but how many of us think about someone trying to steal our child's identity? To an identity thief, stealing a child's identity is perfectly safe and will usually go unnoticed for years.

What Information Should Be Protected

You need to exercise caution when it comes to your child's social security number and their birth certificate. You should never carry these items in your purse; they should be kept in either a fire proof safe in your home or in a bank safe deposit box. Of course, there will be instances when you will need these documents, but make sure that they are absolutely necessary before handing them over to anyone.

Credit Checks

All three major credit bureaus offer parents the opportunity to check if their child has an open credit file. This is free to parents, but you will have to provide documentation proving that you are the legal guardian. You will generally have to send a copy of your driver's license, social security card, and a copy of their birth certificate. You may also want to contact the social security administration and request an earnings statement for your child's social security number. You should contact these companies at least every other year. You may also use a credit monitoring service; for a fee, they will watch your child's social security number and alert you if there is any activity.

Identity Theft Education

As your children grow into young adults, it is very important to teach them the responsibility of keeping certain information private. Social networking sites have become a breeding ground for identity theft. The thieves offer what appears to be a fun survey, but in reality it is a questionnaire that exposes private information.

Danger Signs

If your child starts receiving pre-approved credit offers in the mail or if telemarketers begin calling and asking for your child by their name, that should be seen as a warning. You should contact the credit bureaus and request a credit file check as soon as possible. If you receive a collection notice in your child's name, then you know someone has stolen their identity and you will have to begin to restore it.

Take Action

Your child's identity has been stolen, so what do you do about it? Restoring your child's credit will be a daunting task, but the sooner you begin repairs the better off your child will be. The first step will be to notify the credit bureaus--each bureau should be notified individually as they may different protocols that need to be taken. You will need to notify the police and have a report written up. You will probably need this report when you start contacting the creditors. This is a big part of

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identity theft prevention and will help prevent further theft.

How to Report and Repair Credit Report Errors

July 6th, 2011 at 07:00 pm

Having a good credit rating is important. If you're in the market for a new home or a new car you want to be able to get a low-interest loan quickly, without a lot of fanfare or turmoil. A good credit score can make that happen. But what if your latest credit report says you have had some difficulties making your payments on time, and you know that's not true? How do you go about fixing it? Following are a few tips on how to report and repair credit report errors.

Disputing an Error

If you believe your credit report contains an error, or more than one, you can try and have it removed so your credit score will go up. The first step is to let the credit reporting agency know you want to dispute their report. There are three major credit reporting bureaus. They are Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. Although each agency calculates your credit history a bit differently, they all use the same basic formula to reach their conclusion and assign you a credit score. The information they base their findings on is submitted by lending institutions throughout the country. This information is complied, formulated statistics are applied, and then your credit score is assigned. You are entitled to get a copy of your credit report, and if you feel an error has been made you have the right to dispute the score.

Reporting the Error

In order to dispute a portion of your credit report, it is your obligation to inform the credit reporting agency of your claim. You must submit your dispute in writing, and the claim must be detailed and provide documentation to back up your claim. Make sure you submit copies of the documents and not the originals. Hang on to the originals for your own security. If you are claiming that there are multiple errors, you must submit similar documentation for each claim. You don't have to make two separate claims, simply submit one claim and clearly define each item you wish to dispute, along with the documentation to support your point of view. In your letter you must explain clearly and concisely the matters you believe to be in error, and why you think they are wrong. You should send the package containing your letter and documents to the credit reporting agency by certified mail, with a return receipt requested. This will provide documentation that the claim was filed. Make a copy of the letter you send, along with copies of the documents and the returned mail receipt, and keep them in your files for future reference.

Inform the Creditor

The second step in the process of disputing an item in a credit report is to inform the creditor who supplied the information to the credit reporting agency of the fact that you disagree with their assessment and want it removed. You must do this in writing, the same as you did with the credit reporting agency. Your letter should be similar to the previous one, and you should also provide documentation to back up your claim. This letter should be sent to the creditor by certified mail, return receipt requested, the same as you did with the package you sent to the credit reporting agency. You should make copies of everything you send to them, and keep those copies on record.

Repairing Your Credit Score

The whole idea behind disputing an item in your credit report is that the item in question is keeping your credit score lower than it should be, and as a result your loan, if it is approved, will carry a significantly higher interest rate. Knowing that a higher credit score will entitle you to a lower interest rate, it is a good idea to study your credit report carefully. If you see something that you believe to be in error, and report it, you credit score will improve if your claim is upheld. If that happens the creditor cannot report that item again.