As things stand right now, there are millions of American consumers who have subprime credit scores, or bad credit. If you are one of those folks it may be tempting to believe that you have to simply deal with your low credit score, until it starts to improve over the years. There are, however, some steps that you can take to improve your credit score a little faster. One of those things is – believe it or not – getting a new credit card.

Most people know that they have to use lines of credit and make prompt payments to improve their credit scores. Some of these people also believe that they have to settle for whatever terms credit card companies offer them. In other words, people with bad credit often settle for bad credit cards. This is not the way that you should handle the process of rebuilding your credit score. Just because you’ve had credit problems in the past that does not mean you have to settle for a credit card with terrible terms.

Here are some things you should look for when opening a new credit card when your credit score is low:

Make sure it is a card that will improve your credit score!

People often get new lines of credit, use the credit properly and pay their bills on time and then they find that the account activity is not even being sent to the credit bureaus. That is like doing a lot of hard work and never getting any kind of payoff. Check with credit card issuers to make sure the card you apply for reports activity back to the major credit bureaus, like Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. You don’t want to spin your wheels on cards that won’t help you rebuild your score, so don’t waste your time applying for any credit card that doesn’t provide you with this perk.

Choose a Credit Card with Affordable Fees

Many times, people with bad credit wind up stuck with credit cards that charge expensive fees. The last thing you want to do is pay too much for the card you use regularly. Look for a credit card with no annual fees. If you cannot get one, then don’t pay more than $30 or so for a secured credit card. If you have bad credit, expect balance transfer fees to be between 3 and 5 percent. Don’t use a credit card for balance transfers if the cost is any more than 5 percent. And look out for “extra” fees. Some credit card companies try to hit consumers with maintenance fees, processing fees and other added costs that you simply shouldn’t have to pay.

Move from Secured to Unsecured

Many people with lower credit scores find that they have to start off the process of rebuilding their credit by opening secured lines of credit. This is sometimes a necessary evil, but if you have had a lot of problems with credit in the past, you may have to use a secured card for a while. Make sure, though, that the secured card you choose to open lets you graduate to an unsecured card in the future. When you open a secured credit card, you have to pay a deposit. The ideal credit card in this type of situation would allow you to open the account, check your credit activity for improvements over time and then to get your deposit back as you progress to an unsecured account. This can be a confusing process, so you may want to speak with a customer service representative to make sure this option is available to you.

Keep these tips in mind as you work toward building a higher credit score and a more promising financial future.

While there are plenty of streaming content providers doing business today, Netflix is still considered the pioneer of the industry and the gold standard. They pretty much saw a need, created a market and fulfilled the need. And all the while, they have managed to stay on top and to become a household name. In the beginning, Netflix was a mail delivered movie rental company. It began to drive traditional VHS/DVD rental companies out of business. Then Netflix started streaming movies, shows, documentaries and other content. That is when the game changes forever. These days Netflix is in a spot that a lot of other companies envy, but it does face challenges down the road.
To handle some of its unique challenges, Netflix has reduced its U.S. catalog due to content rights becoming more expensive. But at the same time, the company has purchased the rights to international content, in order to provide its subscribers around the world with new content. They have also started funding their own original series; much to the delight of their huge base of existing and brand new subscribers.
Knowing where Netflix is heading is nice, but knowing what its customer-base thinks about its future is really eye-opening. A survey was conducted that asked 3,000 people about their thoughts about Netflix and how it compares to other entertainment content providers.
The Epic Battle of Netflix vs. Pay Television
Cable and satellite TV providers have long had a stranglehold on the viewing market. And even though Netflix offers people the ability to cut the cord with traditional programming packages for good, there are still plenty of Netflix subscribers who still use traditional pay TV. It might seem like traditional pay television is Netflix’s biggest competition. However, the CEO of Netflix said that other streaming service providers, like HBO, are the biggest threat to this still-growing empire. That’s all well and good, but Netflix users do not agree with this statement. In fact, they see cable TV and Netflix as being diametrically opposed with one another. And these folks believe that Netflix will ultimately come out on top.
Will Netflix Kill Off Traditional TV?
People who have ditched cable or DirecTV in favor of Netflix often wind up saving a lot of money every month. With traditional TV packages often costing nearly $100 a month, and people often only using a fraction of the channels they get, it is easy to understand why the financial incentive of choosing Netflix is driving people to get rid of cable once and for all. Some people think that there’s no way Netflix will totally eliminate traditional TV programming, because of sports, local news broadcasts and other live forms of entertainment/information that people still adhere to. If we remember back to the beginning of Netflix, it was a company that simply delivered rental DVDs by mail. Now it has morphed into a streaming content giant. There is no saying that as the marketplace changes that Netflix – or some other streaming content provider – will not become the streaming source for the type of live programming that people enjoy.
Regardless of whether you think Netflix will destroy cable and traditional TV, if you are looking to save money and don’t feel like you really get your money’s worth out of your old-school cable package, it may be time to cut the cord and switch over to a streaming content provider to get access to your favorite programming and movies. In the future, we may well find that we live in a world where cable companies are yesterday’s news, and streaming providers are the top dogs.

People often daydream about starting their own business. This country, regardless of what people might say, is still dependent upon small businesses doing well. The best small businesses will ultimately grow and may become huge corporations. Think about Facebook. Not that long ago it was a basic college social website. Today, it is global and rakes in billions. Now, not every small business owner will wind up being the next Mark Zuckerberg. But being your own boss, even if your company is a small one, is still a great way to make a living.
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The problem is that every business requires a bit of money to get started. Without capital, it is difficult to get even the best idea or the most promising small business off the ground. And it is even harder to start your own business if you have bad credit. In fact, some people give up on their dreams of starting their own businesses because they have low credit scores. If you have bad credit and think that starting a business of your own is just a pipe dream, you may want to rethink things. In fact, there are things that budding entrepreneurs can do to get business loans even if they have bad credit.

The first thing to do is to figure out how much capital you need to get started. People often fail to qualify for small business loans because their credit doesn’t cover the amount they need to borrow. Cut corners where you can and don’t ask for a dollar more than you need for start-up costs. In other words, cut any frills that you have planned for your new company, and start off with the bare bone necessities. That way, you can ask for less money and improve your chance of getting a business loan.

There are government loans available for people who need less than $35,000 to start a business. The government guarantees these types of loans, which makes lenders more willing to provide financing, even for business owners who have less than perfect credit scores. The Small Business Administration (SBA) can give you a list of lenders that you can hit up for a business loan. Stop by the SBA office in your town to get more information and guidance on getting a small business loan with bad credit.

Consider alternative lending. Unless you need a ton of cash to get started, you may be able to get the money you need for your new business from a lender other than a traditional bank. There are lots of small business opportunities for janitorial companies, caterers, carpet cleaners and a whole host of other small businesses that can get up and running on a couple of hundred to a couple of thousand dollars. Payday lenders and flex loan providers do not run credit checks, and they specialize in smaller dollar loans. Of course, these types of lending companies require you to have a regular source of income, so continue working at your day job until you get your new business moving in the right direction, and only after you’ve paid back your small cash advance loan, so you can avoid paying extra fees.
The best thing you can do if you dream of starting a business is to stay determined, trim startup costs, and to stay the course. Bad credit can make the entire process a bit more challenging. But if you remember the tips that we shared with you in this article, you should be able to get a small business loan to help you get things moving in the right direction.

Over the past decade or so we’ve all seen big employers doing all they can to get more involved (for better or worse) in the personal lives of their employees. If you work for a big company, there’s a good chance that you are familiar with this trend. Maybe you have to enroll for a wellness program in order to qualify for cheaper insurance through your employer. This is very common in corporate America these days. But there is a new type of wellness program that employers are starting to roll out to their employees – financial wellness/education services.girl, young woman having financial problems

Capital One, Chace and BOA are just a few of the big banks that are researching the potential to offer different types of financial education in the workplace. These financial firms seem to be responding to a real demand that exists. A recent Harris poll indicates that 86 percent of employees said that it is “important for employers to offer financial wellness programs. About 93 percent of big companies stated that they want to assist their employees more and to help them get a better understanding of their finances.

The McGraw-Hill Federal Credit Union of New York has become one of the biggest supporters of this type of program. This credit union began to offer a course called “Financial Wellness in the Workplace” to a medium sized company in New York earlier in the year. This program doesn’t just offer assistance with the company’s 401k program; it offers training on debt, credit, buying homes, budgeting and much more.

The President and CEO of the credit union, Shawn Gilfeder said, “Folks are clamoring for this and they just don’t know where to find it. We do think the niche here is the workplace environment. If you ask the employees if they’d pay a sum of money to have that opportunity individually, they would say no. But if it’s offered in the workplace, they’re happy to participate.”

A report done for the FINRA Investor Education Foundation, delved into financial wellness programs that are offered by nine separate employers and discovered that they made efforts to offer valid information to people that was not commercially driven or biased. This report also found that employees who get involved with retirement planning seminars are more financially literate and many of these folks actually alter their retirement savings plan after attending educational seminars. Some even delayed their retirements once they found that they did not have enough money saved up.

The McGraw Hill Credit Union program eases participants into the process by doing lunch and learn sessions that touch on topics like identity protection, credit scores and smart budgeting tips. There are nearly 300 employees that participate in person, and more that participate remotely. The folks behind this program have been taken aback by how coworkers share information and talk about important financial topics that usually don’t get much conversation time.

Education is always a good thing. The thing that people will need to make sure is that they are learning about their finances via educators that are not trying to sell services or to offer biased opinions about these topics. And employers need to make sure that they don’t get too invasive about how they offer these services to their employees. Allowing people to participate is one thing; forcing them to – as many companies do with their health and wellness programs – is not going to sit well with people. In the meantime, it will be interesting to see how many employers jump on the bandwagon and begin offering these types of educational services to their workers in the near future.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has taken new steps to introduce stiff legislation on smaller dollar lending companies, better known as payday lenders. Just recently, the government watchdog group made an announcement that they were proposing new rules that lenders would have to follow. These rules revolve around borrowers having the ability to pay back any loans that they take out, and the lenders would have to be the ones to make sure consumers are able to make timely payments. The CFPB also proposed a new rule that would that would limit the collections actions lenders can use for any fees that are “in the excess.”

“Today we are taking an important step toward ending the debt traps that plague millions of consumers across the country,” said the director of the CFPB, Richard Cordray. “Too many short-term and longer-term loans are made based on a lender’s ability to collect and not on a borrower’s ability to repay. The proposals we are considering would require lenders to take steps to make sure consumers can pay back their loans. These common sense protections are aimed at ensuring that consumers have access to credit that helps, not harms them.”

This announcement has caused a bit of a tongue wagging in recent days, though some folks seem to be reacting positively to the proposals. The editors at the New York Times ran a story with the headline of: “Progress on Payday Lending” as a way to chime in on the proposal from the CFPB. The Washington Post also chimed in, with an article that said, “Payday lending is ripe for rules.”

“If you lend out money, you have to first make sure that the borrower can afford to pay it back,” said President Obama with regards to the new rules. “We don’t mind seeing folks make a profit. But if you’re making that profit by trapping hard-working Americans into a vicious cycle of debt, then you got to find a new business model, you need to find a new way of doing business.”consumer-financial-protection-bureau-logo

Nobody wants to see Americans caught in these supposed ‘debt traps’ however, the rhetoric that supporters of the CFPB’s proposals use is obviously crafted to get people behind these new rules. It really comes down to certain folks in the government and in watchdog organizations that have decided to wage what they believe to be a righteous war against payday lenders. Being as most people, even the highly educated folks out there, really don’t understand how the payday lending industry works, it is easy to see how opponents of the industry are able to get people all riled up.

A recent piece in the New York Times reported that the proposed rule changes would only affect a billion dollar industry that ‘serves the working poor’ of this country. That is s common, though misleading view of the payday lending industry. A recent study found that 80 percent of people who take out short term loans make more than 25 thousand dollars a year, and that nearly 40 percent make more than 40 thousand dollars a year. Only around 18 percent of regular payday borrowers bring in less than 25 thousand dollars per year. That 18 percent is what most people envision when they are told about the plight of the ‘working poor’ in the United States. Seeing as how this group really only accounts for a minority of the people who take out payday loans, it is easy to see how the CFPB and its supporters are skewing the facts to tug at peoples’ heart strings. The fact of the matter is that most borrowers are able to pay back their loans, aware of the fees that they will pay and responsible enough to make their loan payments on time.

With Obama being one of the biggest cheerleaders for the CFPB, it looks like everyone will have to watch this bureau get their way for some time to come. But what price will people pay in order to give this organization even more power than it already has?

Financial times have been difficult (at best) over the past decade. From steady unemployment to a shaky investing outlook, people have been more worried about finances in the recent past than they have ever been before. Times have even been tough for providers of alternative financial services. With the DOJ using Operation Chokepoint to crack down on small dollar lending companies and check cashing facilities, the providers of alternative financial services have had to fight tooth and nail in order to assist the nearly 70 million people who are either underbanked or completely unbanked.

LA_at_dawnFor anyone who has been keeping tabs on things, the battle that non-bank financial service providers have had to go through, going all the way back to when the Comptroller of Currency set out on a mission to outright ban short term, small dollar loans from dispersing funds via big bank branches. While the office of the Comptroller obviously had their own agenda and job to do, with regards to taking a stance on the shady practices of SOME payday lenders, they certainly made life difficult for the legitimate short term lending companies too. Unlike what we’ve seen in recent years, with the rise of Operation Choke Point, it is easy to see that the past actions of the Comptroller’s office were not necessarily an attack on payday lenders, but rather was a step to prevent states from regulating national banks. Whether alternative financial service providers like what the Comptroller did or not, their policy was put in place to protect the interests of the entire national banking industry.

However, things could have been handled different with regards to thinking about the people who regularly take out payday loans or use other alternative financial services. Banks should actually do what they can to encourage small dollar lending, check cashing and other financial services that are regularly used by millions of people all across this land. The banks could do a lot of good, not just by encouraging these types of loans via third party lenders, but by directly offering these types of services to low and middle income customers who regularly make use of the services of both online and local alternative financial service companies.

There is a huge market out there for these types of financial services. Let’s take a look at this industry to better gauge just how huge this market is. According to information from the FDIC’s National Survey of Unbanked and Underbanked:

Families that bring in less than $30K every year account for over 70 percent of the underbanked households in this country.

With these stats in mind, it should be apparent to the powers that be that there is a desperate need that mainstream financial service providers simply cannot meet at the present time, and millions of families out there who depend on the money that they can only get through payday lenders and other alternative financial service companies. Until the national banking industry can step up to the plate and offer these types of services to the millions of people who need them the most, it is in the government’s best interest to stop persecuting small lending companies, but instead to start encouraging them to be able to provide the unbanked and underbanked people of this country with the financial services they so desperately need to get by from week to week.

It is nice to have the bragging rights that come with having a high credit score, but there are other reasons you should do all that you can to improve your credit rating. Your credit score is an important aspect of your life, and one that can impact several areas of day-to-day living.credit-score (1)

It’s no secret that our credit scores are closely scrutinized for everything from applying for a new job to getting a new insurance policy. If your credit score is low, you may be suffering from the effects of bad credit without even being aware of it.

If you are on a mission to rebuild your credit score, it is important to be armed with the information you need to meet your goals. It all starts with pulling your credit report. But there’s more to your credit rebuilding master plan that you need to know about. Here are the things you need to do to take a day-by-day approach to improving your credit score.

Start off by Assessing the Situation

Once you have your credit report, take a look at the details to see if there are any errors. If you find errors, work with the credit reporting bureau and any creditors involved to get those issues resolved. You should also take a look at your credit score. If your FICO score is lower than 620, many creditors will consider you to have subprime credit. This means that immediate actions must be taken – and sometimes repeated – to improve your credit score. Don’t get discouraged if your credit score is lower than you thought, as there is no such thing as having a score so low that it cannot improve.

Open a Line of Credit

If you don’t have a credit card, getting one can be tricky. Thankfully, though, there are things that you can do to work toward opening your first credit card, or getting a new one if your credit score is low. Start off small by applying for a store or retail credit card. These types of cards are easier to qualify for and making timely payments improves your credit score, little by little, every month.

You may also want to apply for a small loan at your local bank branch. Be prepared to get turned down, but do your best to apply for a small loan. Your goal right now is to show that you are a responsible person and that you pay your bills on time every month. You can’t do that unless you are regularly paying on loans and/or lines of credit, so you will have to bite the bullet and see if you can qualify for small dollar loans or lines of credit to get the ball rolling in the right direction.

Avoid the Temptation to Have too Many Credit Cards

There are people who go overboard and end up opening too many lines of credit. Remember, your credit score is calculated via five different factors: payment history, total debt amount, length of time you have had credit, the types of credit you possess and recent credit card activity. Your payment history and total debt amount added together account for 65 percent of your credit score. Reducing your credit card balances and maintaining a spotless payment history will do a world of good when it comes to improving your credit score.

A great credit score doesn’t just happen overnight. You have to take matters into your own hands. Making smart financial decisions can take practice, but before too long it becomes a habit – something you do day in and day out. That habit will ultimately increase your credit score.

Recent studies have found that when it comes to using cash checking services or other alternative financial services that blacks are unbanked or underbanked at a much higher rate than whites. This news comes via a new report that was released by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC).
The FDIC is an independent government agency that guarantees bank deposits of up to $250,000 at banks that are FDIC insured. The FDIC began the study that led to the release of the current findings back in the summer of 2013, in conjunction with the United States Census Bureau. This study collected demographic data and financial information from almost 41,000 people across the country.
For this particular survey the FDIC defined households that did not have account at FDIC-insured banks as being unbanked and households that did have bank accounts at insured institutions, but still made use of alternative financial services to do some of their financial activities – cashing checks, getting payday loans – as being underbanked.
Back in 2013 the FDIC estimated that fewer than 10 percent of households in the United States were underbanked. It is important to note, however that the rate of black households that qualified as being unbanked dwarfed the overall national rate. According to this report from the FDIC, 20.5 percent of black households in the U.S. are unbanked, compared to less than 4 percent of white households that did not have bank accounts at FDIC insured financial institutions. And while just 1 percent of households were labeled as “recently unbanked” during the time when the FDIC survey was conducted, black households accounted for almost 50 percent of the households in that particular group.
The FDIC report stated: “Among households that recently became unbanked, 34.1 percent experienced either a significant income loss or a job loss that they said contributed to the household becoming unbanked.” By way of comparison, nearly 20 percent of households that opened a checking or savings account during the time when the poll was taken went on record as saying that new jobs promoted their transitions.
Fewer job prospects may help to explain why blacks – who often deal with unemployment rates that are nearly double that of the national unemployment rate – get by without access to traditional bank accounts. In the Southern region of the United States, the area with the highest concentration of black citizens – the highest rates of unbanked and underbanked households was reported.
The FDIC report explained it like this: “In fact, while 38 percent of U.S. households live in the South, approximately 44 percent of unbanked and underbanked households lived there.” Nearly 60 percent of the people who responded to the FDIC survey said that they went without using FDIC bank accounts because they did not have adequate funds to keep into the account to meet minimum balance requirements, with 34 percent of the responders saying that they did not like or trust traditional banks.
There have been quite a few high profile settlements that involved charges of lending discrimination and misleading investment practices. These cases involved Wells Fargo Bank and Citigroup and were filed hot on the heels of the most recent housing crisis. These types of situations may help to provide some clues as to why many black citizens feel that they cannot get a fair shake from the traditional banking system in this country. Thankfully, though, lots of new alternative financial services are being offered that may help both black and white unbanked citizens to have easier and more affordable access to the financial products and services that they need to get by financially.

At first glance, it might seem that electronic money transfers are as easy and straightforward as taking care of any other type of online communications. You want to send and email, you open up your email client, type away and then send your message to your intended recipient. That’s pretty easy, right? So shouldn’t it be just as simple to send money globally? Well, it should be, but up to this point in time it has not been nearly that simple. However, with the implementation and adoption of a new global money transfer protocol, called Ripple, sending money around the world may become very simple in the very near future.briefcase-of-cash

It’s all about Protocols

Going back to our example using emails may help to clear up just how big of a deal the Ripple Protocol could prove to be. You see, you can send an email to virtually anyone with an email account thanks to an email protocol called SMTP, short for Simple Mail Transport Protocol. This protocol ensures that emails are sent, error free (for the most part) to anyone with a valid email address and the ability to open emails on a computing device. In essence, protocols are the underlying bits of technology that make online communications possible.

The Ripple Transaction Protocol

Now that you understand how protocols drive electronic communications, let’s talk about Ripple. The official name of the protocol is the Ripple Transaction Protocol, or RTXP for short. This money transfer protocol is an internet protocol, just like HTTP, SMTP, FTP or any other type of protocol that drives successful online communications, transfers or transactions. But we all know that sending a file across the internet is a lot different than sending money across international borders, so the question remains of how the big banks around the world will implement RTXP to allow for seamless online money transfers from one country to another.

The CEO of Ripple Labs, Chris Larsen recently went on record saying, “We’ve been working on our enterprise banking strategy for well over a year. It takes awhile for banks to get going.”

The banks around the world can already communicate online via existing, proprietary networks. While these networks have allowed limited communications and transfers, the fact that these networks are not open source has prevented global money transfers from taking off like wildfire. With the introduction of an industry wide, and bank accepted protocol, like Ripple, it will finally be simple to send money from one country to another.

It appears that U.S. banks, known for some of the strictest compliance processes in the world, are finally jumping on board and looking to find ways to implement Ripple to ease the pains and potential hazards of allowing consumers to easily send money online to overseas recipients.
The Ripple Protocol is coming to a Bank near You in the Near Future

The fact that Ripple allows currency to move between Euros and dollars without touching any cryptocurrencies, along with the recipients at both ends of the transaction being licensed banks helps to put fears of adopting this new technology to rest. Several large banks in the United States are already on board to test and implement Ripple, so you should not be surprised to find that sending money to your overseas family members, friends or business partners is about to become easier than it has ever been before. It may be a while before all of the major U.S. lenders adopt Ripple, but the future looks very bright for online money transfers at last!

When the economy took a negative turn the housing market suffered. Since 2007 foreclosure rates have been high. Now they seem to have dropped back down to the rate they were back then. This is giving many, new hope for the economy and the future of the housing market.

The good news is that the foreclosure crisis seems to be over. This is allowing many to breathe a sigh of relief as things have been rough for many for some time. While this is good news some are wondering what is causing the change.

New regulations in California have a big part to play in this. For years the state had been recording the highest number of foreclosure filings of any state in the country. A Homeowner Bill of Rights has been put into place. This offers more protections for the borrowers in this state that have gone into default. As a result of this foreclosure filings in this state alone dropped 62% in one month.

English: Sign of the times - Foreclosure

Under these new protections all mortgage servicers must cut short all foreclosure proceedings once the borrower applies for a mortgage modification. Servicers must also be careful because if they file multiple unverified documents in foreclosure proceedings they can face fines up to $7,500. No mortgage servicer wants to pay these fines, so they are watching their step, which is taking some stress off of the borrower.

Now that California is not the top state in foreclosures, Florida has taken that title. In Florida, one out of every three hundred homes files foreclosure applications. The next states to follow are Nevada and Illinois.

This does not mean that the foreclosure problem our nation has been facing is fixed. It does however; mean that we are getting closer to fixing it and ending it. Every step we take in the right direction means we are one step closer to this being over.

There is light at the end of the foreclosure tunnel. The crisis is over but the problem itself is not fixed. We are working toward fixing it but more time is necessary. It is obvious we are getting close. If we look we can see all around us that things are getting better. It may be slow, but it will be worth it.

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