Tuesday, March 04, 2008

FW: Your March TransUnion Newsletter

TransUnion Credit Care Monthly March 2008
Hello, Monty!
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A note from the editor
Like it or not, it's that time of year again. Time to start our annual ritual of tracking down tax documents, searching for stray bank statements and rounding up receipts. And whether you do your taxes yourself, take them to your accountant, or a tax preparation service, there are some ways to make tax time a positive experience.
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5 ways to stop spending and start saving

1. Admit you overspend on certain items and commit to cutting back in your worst areas.

2. Learn to adjust – if you spend more on travel and shopping, then maybe cut down on entertainment.

3. Be creative – instead of taking a taxi or bus try walking or riding your bike. Likewise if you eat out more than once or twice a week, don't order dessert and cut down on alcohol. This will benefit your health and wallet.

4.Try to budget for bigger expenses – just $10 a day over a few months really adds up, but you must be religious about adding to your daily savings.

5. Pay yourself first. That is, make "savings" a real monthly expense, just like your utility bills or your telephone bill.

This month's featured article
What you need to know...
a. What you need to know about your credit for tax season

b. Why you should use your refund to pay down

c. Tips on how to go about paying off debt

Tax time is just about here. For some of us that invokes a sinking feeling, for others it sparks a sense of anticipation and the burning question — What will you do with your tax refund?

Here's a novel idea: how about using it to improve your credit?

You can and it's very simple. You just have to come to grips with a few things first.

For starters, recent surveys have found many Canadians paying off tens of thousands in credit card debt, with 90 percent saying they're deeper in debt now than five years ago.

If you are one of these average Canadians carrying too much debt right now, using your tax refund is a smart and easy way to pay it down. And the best part is, reducing your debt can boost your credit, improve the credit offers you receive and save you a lot of money in interest charges. Sure, that might not be as fun and exciting as a spontaneous long weekend in the Caribbean, but when you think of the long-term value of reducing debt and improving your credit, well, sacrificing your fun in the sun today may help you afford a lot more vacations in the future.

Here are a couple of quick pointers on how you can start paying down and reducing some of your debt, too:

Pay off your debt rather than moving it around

The most effective way to improve your credit in this area is by paying down your revolving credit. In fact, owing the same amount but having fewer open accounts may actually lower your score.

Make more than your minimum

First, break the habit of only paying the minimum. Paying only the minimum and only a fraction of the interest is exactly what the banks want you to do. The longer you take to repay the charges, the more interest they make, and the less cash you have in your pocket. Pay as much as you can afford each month.

Target your debt payments

Consider starting off by paying the most you can toward the credit card with the highest interest rate. Pay it off as quickly as possible. Then move on to the card whose interest rate is almost as high, and so on, until you have paid them all off as quickly as possible.

If you must, turn to your savings account

Ok, this is a last resort. No one wants to dip into or deplete their hard-earned savings, but if you're using it to pay off a 28.8% Annual Percentage Rate credit card, it's essentially the same as getting that 28.8% return without any risk on your part. The higher the interest rate on your debt, the more attractive repayment versus savings becomes.

Renegotiate terms with your creditors

Many creditors are willing to do this. All you
have to do is ask. You have nothing to lose and in many cases you can shave 3, 4 or even 5 percent off your Annual Percentage Rate. And you'll pay down your debt faster.
Renegotiate terms with your...
Ask Audrey
Dear Audrey,

My credit profile shows two credit cards that were charged-off and are now included in bankruptcy. I did not recognize these accounts, but after investigating found that they were old joint accounts with my mother, who recently declared bankruptcy. How can I get these removed from my credit?

Cheryl L.

Hi Cheryl,

Unfortunately, even though the accounts may be closed, they will remain on your credit profile for some time to come and continue to affect your credit. Although you did not file bankruptcy, this account was a commitment that you made with your mother. While her bankruptcy records will remain on her credit profile for 7-10 years, this account will continue to report on both of your files for six years from the time you first missed the payment prior to it being included in bankruptcy. However, there is a lot that you can do to improve your credit now. TransUnion has a host of articles dedicated to credit management topics online.

Bear in mind that positive records (such as closed accounts that were never paid late) can also remain on your credit profile and will only help your credit score.

Until next month,


Audrey O'Dell Newsletter Editor

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