Financial Education Tools
What is a Credit Score?
A credit score is a three-digit number that is a fast objective estimate of your credit risk based on a snapshot of your credit report at a particular moment. Lenders use this number to make a prediction about how you will behave in the future.
Your credit score can affect whether you get a loan, a car, a home and even a job. Being considered a “high risk” can cost you hundreds in fees and interest. Your score is calculated on multiple factors. Five major areas effecting the score are:
- Payment history – This is probably the most important factor. Your payment history is looking at your past payment history, with an emphasis on your most recent history.
- Total debt – How much is your overall debt? How close are you to your credit limits?
- Length of credit history – In general the longer your credit history the better.
- New credit – This is looking at how much new credit you have tried to get recently. Avoid applying for multiple accounts at once. An exception would be if you are shopping for a mortgage or a car loan.
- Types of credit established – Do you have a healthy mix of revolving (credit cards) and installment (mortgages) credit?
A good score varies from lender to lender and between the credit bureaus. Each bureau compiles the scores differently by varying the weight given to each category. Your score could vary up to 100 points depending on the bureau and the information gathered at each of the bureaus.
Request Your Free Credit Report
To ensure your credit doesn’t have any discrepancies and you haven’t been a victim of identity theft, we recommend that you request your free annual credit report by going here.
Learn about your credit score by visiting this site – http://www.federalreserve.gov/creditreports
Free Financial Credit Review
The credit union will review your credit report with you and make recommendations for improving your credit bureau score. Simply call us or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll contact you to set up an appointment.
Basic Budgeting. Start Your Budget Today!
Budgeting can be a scary word. Few people really want to know how much they are spending and like dieting, budgeting sounds like you are depriving yourself of something. Budgeting isn’t a bad thing! Actually it can be fairly simple to set up a budget.
Step One: Set Financial Goals
Where do you want to be in a year, ten years, at retirement? Why are you creating a budget? It might help if you wrote down a few goals so you know what you are working towards whether it is saving more, spending less, or that dream vacation. At this point don’t worry about how unrealistic the goal is – just get it on paper. Later, once you have a budget in place, remind yourself often what you are working towards.
Step Two: Start Tracking Expenses
Find a way that works for you – this could be a notebook that you carry with you, computer software or use these budget worksheets. Write everything down and categorize spending by the type of expense (entertainment, groceries, gas, etc.). Remember even that $1 in the vending machine counts. You might be surprised how quickly the little dribblers add up - $1 a day for soda is over $360 a year! That daily $3.50 latte or mocha adds up to $1,277.50 - and that doesn’t include tips!
Step Three: Know Your Income
What are you really making after taxes and other deductions?
Step Four: Take a look at your lifestyle.
Where are your spending weaknesses? Are you spending more than you are bringing in? Now it’s time to actually create a plan. Look at your type of expenses – figure out how much you need to budget for basic things like utilities, bills, gasoline, groceries, etc. How much is left over to save or spend on entertainment and extras?
Step Five: Trim Excessive Spending
If your expenses are more than your income or if you are just looking to increase your savings, you will need to cut back. What can you get rid of – premium cable channels, subscriptions to magazines or movie services? Look at your spending honestly and look for leaks or extras you just don’t need.
Just like a diet, you can’t deprive yourself of everything or you will never stick with it. Budget a small amount of money for fun extras. It may be helpful to actually pay yourself in cash so when the money is gone – it’s gone. Use this money for fun extras like a coffee on the way to work, or a night out with friends.
Step Six: Pay Yourself First
You should make a category in your budget to pay yourself. Even if you start with setting aside $10 a month – it’s something. You also need to budget money for emergencies, such as car repairs, unexpected bills, etc.
Payroll deduction could be a great way to start saving. You set up how much and to which account. Castparts Employees Federal Credit Union offers an automatic transfer from one account to another – so if your money is direct deposited into your checking set up a recurring transfer of a certain amount of money to your savings. You can always adjust the amount later if you find you can save more or less.
Step Seven: Review and Reevaluate Often
Your situation will change constantly – your income may increase or decrease, expenses may fluctuate, or maybe you paid off that credit card debt. Adjust your budget accordingly. If you need more strategies or ideas, give us a call!
Certified Financial Counselor Now Available!
As a free service to our members, Doug Holtry, Director of Lending at the credit union -- who is also a certified financial counselor -- is available to work with you to tackle your financial challenges. If you're interested in reviewing your credit report and looking for recommendations on how to improve your credit, how to design a budget, or how to plan for your financial future, make an appointment today! You can reach Doug at (503)-771-2464, ext. 117.
Budgeting Calculators - To help you manage your spending and expenses, use this handy budgeting calculator!
Budget Worksheet - Track your expenses and determine your budget needs by using these worksheets offered free from our partner Balance®.