How to Ensure Your Credit Report is Clean


Credit reports play a major role in interest rates on car loans, eligibility for credit cards and even job applications, so it’s important to keep them clean.

If your credit report is a mess, start by reviewing your borrowing history. Get a credit report for free from

“You’d be surprised what things you might find on a credit report, intentionally or unintentionally,” says Syd Ally, the chief credit officer for lender DRB.

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Why You Don’t Need a College Degree for a Real Estate Career


Many real estate agents and investors have college degrees, but they are not specifically real estate-focused. The reason being that a college degree is not necessary for a real estate career.

For investment, the best teacher is real life. You won’t get the same experience learning in a classroom as you would on the job.

College can give students a false sense of confidence. They may believe the classes they are taking are preparing them for the job, but a hiring manager may disagree.

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How to Avoid Credit Card Fraud During the Holidays


Credit card fraud is more common than ever, and the holiday season is a particularly vulnerable time.

To reduce your chances of becoming a credit fraud victim, you should first choose your credit card company carefully. Look for zero liability protection and sign up for alerts.

One of the best ways to avoid fraud is with a strong password. Make sure it is long, with letters, numbers and symbols, and isn’t something obvious like your birthday or children’s names.

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How to Use Credit Cards for Holiday Savings


It’s no secret that your bank account gets a bit strained during the holidays. But if you use your credit cards strategically, you can ease some of the financial burden.

If you’re traveling a lot for the holidays, consider using a travel rewards card. Buy your tickets with the card to rack up miles for future trips and gain other special perks.

When you’re cooking big holiday meals, you’re going to be spending a lot of money at the grocery store. Get some of that cash back with a grocery rewards card.

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What You Should Know About Real Estate Investments


Your home represents a large portion of your overall wealth. But it might not be your best investment. However, it can still play an important role in your portfolio.

Real estate investments have low correlations to other investments, like stocks and bonds. That lack of correlation could signify stability in your portfolio.

From a tax perspective, real estate investments are hugely beneficial. But be sure you’re not overdoing it on real estate. It should make up just 5 percent of your portfolio.

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How to Shop For Your First Home


At some point, many of us grow up and decide we want to buy a house. But not everyone knows the steps they should take for the process to go smoothly.

The first thing you should do is take stock of your finances. Buying a house is an investment, and you’re going to be writing a few checks. Make sure your credit score is up to par.

Before you even start shopping, find out how much a lender will be willing to give you. You can get pre-qualified for a home loan. This will help you know the price range to look at.

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How to Create a Strong Business Credit Profile


Besides personal credit scores, small business owners need to make sure they have a good business credit profile.

“There’s a gap between what consumers understand about personal credit and what business owners understand about business credit,” says Brian Ward, a senior director at Experian.

Having good credit will especially come in handy when you need to borrow money.

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How to Spot a Scary Real Estate Listing


Halloween is just around the corner, and that means spooky sightings are abundant – but you don’t want to see anything nightmarish in a home you’re about to buy.

Keep an eye out for listings without interior photos. Could they be hiding something? You should also be on the lookout for listings without a description or with a very short description.

Avoid the fixer-uppers. A small project is doable, but a huge remodeling overhaul is probably not something you want to invest in.

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What to Know About Online Real Estate Listings


The home buying process has been made much more convenient with the onset of the Internet, but these sites still have their flaws.

The information you find online may not always be correct. Make sure you ask the important questions when you’re house hunting. Don’t rely on the information you find.

Also, while photo slideshows can help you immensely when looking at houses, there’s really nothing better than looking at a home in person. Photos can be misleading, so make sure you make your final decision after seeing a home in person.

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Pro Tip: Check Pros and Cons Before Paying Off Mortgage Early


The financial pros over at CNBC released a new set of tips on Monday, urging homeowners to carefully weigh all of the pros and cons before paying off a mortgage early.

“If a client thinks they’ll be in a house for 10 years after the mortgage payoff, I encourage them to do it,” said Kristi C. Sullivan, CFP and owner of Sullivan Financial Planning. “But if they want to move soon after they are able to pay off the mortgage, I don’t.”

Meanwhile, David Mendels of Creative Financial Concepts urges borrows to keep mortgage rates in mind.

“Far too many clients focus on paying off their mortgage in retirement, only to end up ‘land poor,’” he said. “Especially at today’s low rates. I urge them to think less in terms of the added payment than of the added safety net of the extra cash.”

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