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Lady on laptop working on her credit scoreGet the Credit You Deserve 

By Southside Bank | August 7, 2017 | Personal Finance, Optimize Your Credit

We’ve all heard the phrase “bad credit happens to good people.” And unfortunately, it’s true. Unforeseen medical expenses, divorce, job loss–any or all of these events can have devastating effects on your credit, which can ripple out to other aspects of your life.

Having strong credit is an essential component of your overall financial health. We recently sat down with Brian Merritt, Senior Vice President, Consumer Lending Manager at Southside Bank for his five key tips on maximizing your credit.

As Brian explains, “Each person’s situation is different. When I visit with clients about how to best manage their credit, I can provide them with a more personalized action plan. But there are some simple factors that everyone can and should consider in order to optimize the credit available to them.”

Know what’s in your credit report: Visit annualcreditreport.com to obtain a copy of your report from all three credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion). Consumers may obtain a copy from all three reporting agencies once a year at no charge. Review the reports carefully, contest any inaccurate information and have them correct the error(s).

Use credit wisely: When obtaining credit, whether in the form of revolving accounts (credit cards) or installment loans (cars, boats, etc.), be sure the repayment terms match the use of the funds. This will prevent you from making payments on something months or years after you’ve stopped using it. It’s also very important to pay off debt as quickly as possible. Remember: the longer you carry a balance, the more interest you pay.

Limit your number of unnecessary accounts: Almost every retailer will offer customers a store charge account at some point, but that doesn’t mean you must say “yes” every time. Having more than one or two of these high-interest credit cards can have a negative effect on your credit.

Be mindful of how much you owe: A large part of how your credit score is calculated is based upon the ratio of the outstanding balances vs. available credit. When this ratio is high, it can drive your score down. Keeping this ratio low will also help you avoid having more debt than you can comfortably repay.

Use discretion when opening new accounts: One factor that many lenders consider is the average age of your accounts. Longevity makes a good impression on lenders, so the higher the average age, the better. New accounts lower the average age and can impact credit worthiness, especially if you are a relatively new borrower.

The bottom line? it’s important to make the most of the credit you have and to manage it wisely. Implement these simple steps and get on the road to getting the credit you deserve.

 


 

It’s National Simplify Your Life Week—Shouldn’t that Include Your Finances? 

By Southside Bank | August 2, 2017 | Personal Finance, Simplify Your Life 

 

Life can seem terribly busy these days! So many of us feel our day-to-day schedule is overly committed, overly complicated and overly cluttered. From late nights at work to the kids’ soccer practice to weekends that become one errand after another, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to simplify your life and carve out quality down time.

National Simplify Your Life Week encourages each of us to incorporate some invaluable “me time” back into our lives. There are lots of easy places to start: create an actionable to-do list; stop committing to activities and people that don’t bring value to your life; declutter a closet or garage–the possibilities are endless.

But if you truly want to tackle a stressful and time-consuming task, consider streamlining your personal finances. No one likes paying bills, and no one wants to spend time doing it either. Implement these five simple strategies to limit the time and energy you spend each month keeping up with your financial commitments.

Think of what you could do with the time you’ll save!

Consolidate: If you have several accounts spread out at different financial institutions, consider consolidating. You could not only save money on monthly fees but save time, too. Checking, savings and accounts for your kids or your business can easily be housed in one place–even your mortgage, car loans, credit cards and investments can be accommodated by a reputable, full-service bank.

Automate: Automating recurring monthly charges like utility bills, mortgage and car payments and credit cards instantly frees up time and relieves stress. There’s always that one pesky bill you forget to pay or that unforgiving vendor that adds on exorbitant late fees. Eliminate that hassle by setting up automatic drafts. Most banks don’t charge for this incredibly convenient and time-saving service. You should also consider switching to eStatements. This eliminates paper-statement fees and helps out the environment.

Modernize: Banking is a very competitive field, and most institutions are clamoring to be “top of mind” and “top of wallet” for their customers. This has led to some amazing innovations. You can now bank anytime, anywhere with mobile banking apps. This makes it easy to quickly check balances and perform simple transactions whenever and wherever you’d like. Exciting new technology like Interactive Teller Machines (ITMs) also make “banker’s hours” obsolete. Most banks that utilize ITMs offer real-time video chats with tellers during the evenings and on weekends, so you can bank when it’s most convenient for you. 

Protect: You work hard for your money–your bank should work hard to protect it. Look for a bank that utilizes mobile wallets and chip technology on debit cards. Both offer enhanced fraud protection, so you can shop securely. And both are widely accepted around the world so you can streamline your purchases even when traveling.

Consult: With so many multi-state banks out there, it can be hard to feel like a valued customer. And let’s face it–asking for help at a bank can be intimidating. Consider using a local community bank. Many of them employ the same technologies, services and products found at larger institutions, but maintain a more personal relationship with their customers. Spend a few minutes discussing options with your banker. Ask if there’s a better account or credit card option available to you. Discuss your short- and long-term financial goals and let them navigate a clear path for you. If a bank isn’t willing to help you manage your money, do they deserve to have it? 

The bottom line? National Simplify Your Life Week is a great way to become more organized and less stressed! Get started by utilizing the great resources available to you at your local community bank.