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  • Earn 10,000 Membership Rewards(R) bonus points when you spend $500 in 3 months - redeemable for a $100 gift card!

  • The Membership Rewards(R) program - Earn 1 Membership Rewards(R) point for virtually every dollar you spend and redeem for your choice of travel, shopping, and entertainment rewards.

  • Gold Card Events - exclusive access to tickets for select concerts, shows, major sporting events, and more in cities nationwide.

  • Express Approval. Get a decision in less than 60 seconds.


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DID YOU KNOW?

Before you deal with any credit repair agency you need to be aware of what they can and cannot do.

For starters, reputable credit repair agencies can save you the time and hassle of scouring your credit report for errors that may be lowering your credit score. The best agencies will sit down with you and verify any accurate negative information before taking action.

Credit repair agencies canít remove any negative information on your credit report thatís correct, regardless of any claims that may be made to the contrary. Agencies that knowingly dispute accurate negative information are just wasting your time. Through legislation enacted in the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), your creditors have 30 days to investigate any claim to determine whether the negative information being disputed is incorrect. Negative information may be temporarily removed from your credit report but will return if it is verified as true at any time, even after 30 days. In the meantime, the credit repair agency may print you a copy of your ďupdatedĒ credit report sans your negative info. You may not find out until months later that your credit score has not actually changed.

If your credit score is quite low, some shady credit repair agencies will suggest creating a completely new credit record. In place of your social security number, the agency may try to secure a fraudulent Employer Identification Number (EIN) for you. This is essentially creating a new identity for you that you can use to start over with a fresh credit record. This is also a federal crime. If you fraudulently create a new credit record you will be held fully responsible for your actions and could face prosecution.

Credit repair agencies can charge a hefty fee for their services, regardless of whether their services actually do any good. You need to be aware of all the fees and potential costs before agreeing to let any credit repair agency go to work for you. Legally, agencies need to state in writing what the costs are for their services.

Credit repair agencies also cannot legally make any promises or guarantees they canít back up in writing. If in doubt about anything the agency claims it can do, check with the Better Business Bureau and see if there are any complaints lodged against the agency. If there are no complaints on file, meet with a representative of the agency you want to do business with and make sure they arenít making promises that they canít possibly deliver.

Armed with the knowledge of what credit repair agencies can and cannot do, you should be able to find an agency that will meet your needs and help you clean up your credit report with a minimum of time and hassle.

Pay Yourself First

The typical scenario is that you get your paycheck. After you recover from the shock at how little is left after taxes, you proceed to divvy it up among all your outstanding bills, intending to put whatever is left over into your savings.

But there never seems to be anything left over and your savings donít grow.

A better plan would be to pay yourself first. Donít let the money get into your hands. You might find that you actually begin to grow your savings much quicker this way.

If you work for an employer with a 401K plan, the first thing you should do is to fund it to the max. If you canít afford that, at least put enough in to get the full matching contribution form your employer.

This investment is made before taxes. Your investment is larger and with the employers contribution grows quickly.

Next have a brokerage or mutual fund company debit your banking account monthly. This money should first go into an IRA Ė if you have five years or more to go to retirement, make it a Roth IRA.

Next have a few dollars more be debited to go into a no-load, low cost mutual fund. The younger you are, the more aggressive your choice of fund can be.

After that is done, then figure out how to pay your bills and living expenses. If money is tight, cut back on your living expenses and use the extra money to pay down your debt.

Start with the lowest balance first. Once that debt is paid, take the amount of money you were paying on that debt and add it to the payment on the next lowest balance debt. Continue doing this and you can be totally debt free within 5 to 7 years.

Another version of this method is paying the highest interest rate debt first. The principal is the same, you just see more progress with the first method, although it could be more costly based on how your debt is distributed.

(If you donít believe me, get the premier version of Microsoft Money or Quicken and use the ďDebt ReductionĒ module. You will be shocked at how much money you will save and how fast you can eliminate debt this way.)

The idea is to scrimp at the expense of your current lifestyle, while leaving your savings to grow and you debt to shrink.

I know many of the people reading this will scream that this is an impossible plan. But it is quite doable with a little will power and the ability to delay gratification for a while.

The problem is that if you donít do this, your future might turn out to be very bleak.

For more financial planning articles, visit http://www.credit-yourself.com/financial-planning.html










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