May 18

The David (as I fondly call the entertainer Dave Ramsey) is known for his hyperbole. And his “my way or the highway” view on all things financial. One of his more memorable quotes is “No one ever says they got rich off of credit card points.” It seems to me that if I say so, and offer some supporting evidence, then he’s wrong. If he ever repeats himself, you can reply and tell him you know a guy that did. Let’s start here.

Screen shot 2015-05-02 at 3.28.43 PM

Above is a snapshot of my 529 account funded solely with the 2% cash back from my credit card. We use a credit card that offers 2% cash back on all purchases, and have had the card for nearly 16 years. It’s invested in an S&P index, so the number above includes the growth of the market. We have 2 years till my daughter goes off to college. Or 6 until her senior year. I’m hoping this account can grow to $40K and cover a full semester’s cost. That will make another topic for an article here.

In 2012, I wrote a guest post How I Made $4,000+ on a Cash Back Credit Card Offer. The exact number was $4550. That was a one time opportunity, for me, a way to take advantage of the institution we all hate, the bank that pays you .01% on you money, but charges you 5% on your mortgage, and a fee for every little thing. You can read all about it at the linked article.

Last, I’ve also had an Amex card that averaged over $500/yr in rebates for Costco and gas purchases, so another $10K on top of this. This all totals $40K, give or take.

There’s a site Global Rich List that puts wealth and income into perspective. I put in $40,000 and found

Screen shot 2015-05-02 at 3.44.56 PM


If instead of wealth, we look at income, how about I look at the $1600/yr I can withdraw from the $40,000, and add $2000/yr, the amount I’ve been getting back in rewards, so $3600/yr.

Screen shot 2015-05-02 at 3.47.43 PM

I offer this a bit tongue in cheek, as I know that $40,000 isn’t really rich, nor is $3600/yr living the dream. But $40,000 is still a chunk of change. If you look at how much we’ve saved for retirement in the US –


That $40,000 is more than 40% of those nearing retirement have saved. Did I really get rich on credit card points? We can debate that. But first, ask the 31% of 55 year olds who have less than $10,000 saved if an extra $40,000 would make them feel rich, and then decide.

written by Joe \\ tags: ,

Dec 03

Today, A guest Post From Joy –

There are many things that can have an impact on your life. How much money you make and where you live are a couple of them. But there is one in particular that can affect your life no matter who you are or what you do for a living — your credit score. Having a good one is extremely important. It can influence many things in your life that you may not have ever realized.

Ducks in a Row (concept to put everything in order/ to complete

Value of a Good Credit Score

You may know it, but your credit score can influence several different areas in your life. By taking care of your credit score, you can improve everything from your job to your love life.

  • Employment.
    Many employers are now checking your credit score before agreeing to hire you for a new job. They want to be sure that you are taking care of your own personal finances. If you have a good credit score, they can usually expect that you are self-managing and pay attention to detail.
  • Insurance.
    Your insurance rates are directly tied to the health of your credit score. If you have a low credit score, you will be stuck paying higher premiums. A good credit score will help you qualify for better insurance programs that offer great rates and benefits.
  • Credit.
    This is perhaps an obvious one, but your credit score has an immediate relationship to your ability to get loans, incredibly low interest rates, and the best terms available. Having a good credit score is essential to getting a decent mortgage at an affordable rate.
  • Romance.
    It’s a reality — some potential dating partners may want to know about your credit score before agreeing to go on that first date. Maybe they will wait for the second date, but you shouldn’t be surprised if he or she pops the question early on in your relationship. Many consider a good credit score as just as important as appearance and personality.

How to Get a Credit Report

The best way to see what your credit looks like is by ordering a copy of your credit report and credit score. You can go to any number of sources to get this information. You can order credit reports from each of the three national credit bureaus – Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. You can also order a 3-in-1 credit report which allows you to view all three of your credit reports at the same time. It is a good idea to keep your credit reports monitored periodically throughout the year.

Once you’ve received your credit report, you need to review it to make sure the information it contains is accurate and up-to-date. Be sure that it gives the correct address and contact information. You should also look over each of loans or credit cards you have to make sure that they reflect your current payment status. Having inaccurate information about your credit history can be a real problem.

What Affects Your Credit Score

There are several factors that affect your credit score, but there are three in particular that weigh heavily when calculating your overall creditworthiness. Problems in any one of these three areas can have a significant negative impact on your credit score.

  • Payment history.
    Having problems regarding your payments and your record in making payments is critical. Thirty-five percent of your credit score is derived from your payment history. Failure to make timely payments can lower your credit score quickly. Missing payments will guarantee a lowered credit score.
  • Credit utilization.
    How much credit you have impacts your credit score. Lenders compare how much credit you have used with how much credit you have available. The higher the ratio, the greater your credit utilization is. Considering that credit utilization is worth 30 percent of your credit score, the lower you can keep it, the better off you will be. Most credit consultants suggest keeping your utilization ratio at less than 30 percent.
  • Length of history.
    How long you have had your credit accounts is also very important. It helps lenders see how you’ve done with your payments over a several years. If most of your credit is limited to recently opened accounts, your credit score will be lower. The length of your credit history can account for 15 percent of your overall credit score.

Your credit score is extremely important. Because it can affect so many areas in your life, you need to monitor it regularly to ensure that it is accurate and up to date. Adopting wise credit-management behaviors can help keep your credit score healthy. Failure to monitor these things can cause you to have a negative credit score, which can adversely affect many areas of your life.

Joy Mali is a staff writer on The Washington Times and Examiner. Her work is also published on Lifehack, DailyFinance and other mainstream sites. She likes to share interesting tips to help people manage their personal finances & credit.

written by Joe \\ tags: ,

Jul 31

My friends at Credit Karma enlisted the help of Harris Interactive (the famous “Harris Poll” people) to take a look at how people prioritize their financial health and their physical health. The results were a surprise to me. With money at the top of the list of things keeping people up at night, I’d have thought being debt free would rank pretty high. Check out this infographic, and click on it to be taken to the full article at Credit Karma.


Why not leave a comment? Tell me, what’s more important to you right now, your weight, or your debt? No cheating, you can’t say, “both!”

written by Joe \\ tags: ,

May 06

A guest post today from Annie Harrington –

Back in 2003 under a study conducted by the American Bankers Associates, some alarming data was presented. According to the study, check fraud was becoming an epidemic. Information found through the study suggested that more than 1.2 million fraudulent checks were being circulated throughout the United States. These numbers were not over the course of a year, a month or even a week, but instead in one day. Even in 2003 when the advent of the debit card was beginning to take off and check usage began to see its initial decline, fraud was still on the rise. What was worse, it was expected to grow steadily each year by about 2.5%. But now, let’s flash-forward to 2012, last year. For the first time ever that 2.5% was finally culled and instead of growing, it dropped 7.5%.

But, under the tried and true theory of checks and balances (no pun intended), when one thing falls, another must rise and rise it has. As check fraud began to die down, the United States began to notice an upswing in other kinds of fraud, mainly that related to debit and credit card. In another study conducted by the Consumer Sentinel Network (funded by the US Department of Justice) research showed that 17% of Americans have been the subject of either credit or debit card fraud. While the quickly becoming antiquated check fraud was largely tied to the writing of fraudulent checks, debit and credit card fraud has several different pitfalls to which a consumer or business can fall victim to. Here are the top five for 2012.

Counterfeit credit cards 37%
Lost or stolen cards 23%
Account information compromised (dubious telemarketers, key-loggers etc..) 10%
Stolen cards through mailing fraud 7%
Identity theft fraud 4%

While the initial 2003 study from AMA was true to a point, check fraud crime made its peak in 2008. In the years leading up to 2012 there was an incremental decline but nothing as large as the 7.5 drop, which marked the biggest turn in the right direction for some time. But, what can we take from these numbers? Can we take the data and make an overarching statement about fraudulent crime as it relates to card and checks?? Have increased security measures and more sophisticated technology deterred would be thieves from taking advantage of check crime or have they simply put their efforts into card related crime? It’s difficult to say.

The use of personal checks has been declining each year. More and more people are opting to pay their bills online, use a card to pay for their groceries, gas and other items. But this isn’t new, shocking news. Debit and credit cards have been being used for quite some time. Since 2012 was the first year where such a noticeable decline in check fraud was noted, most experts are waiting for the 2013 statistics to see if this will be a trend or an anomaly in fraudulent behavior.

Let’s take a look at total amounts lost across both platforms. Even at its highest peak in 2008, check fraud was nowhere near the estimated amount lost through debit and credit cards during last year’s reporting. In 2008, check fraud accounted for a little over 1.02 billion dollars in lost funds. This number is by no means a small amount, but when put up next to the amount of money lost through debit or credit card fraud, an ample $190 billion, it almost seems like chump change.

So to answer the question posed earlier, are the days of accounts being compromised and malicious financial behavior behind us? Sadly, they are not. So, for the consumer who is looking for an immediate answer with the data on their sides, it appears that checks, while quickly becoming a thing of the past, or still the more secure method of payment.

In order to combat these escalating figures card companies have teamed up to make what is referred to as the EMV initiative Cards using this technology will incorporate a small chip that will step up authentication measures, hopefully ensuring that the right person is using the right card for the right reasons. While there has been a bit of backlash among some on account of these chips violating personal freedoms the EMV movement is instead focusing on the immediate benefit that would see that 190 billion dollar black hole become just a bit smaller.

In order to entice companies over the system, the EMV initiative will cover and financial losses for the companies when a card is put into the wrong hands, a deal that is becoming very attractive to the likes of Visa and Mastercard. This protection from losses officially goes into effect in October of 2015.

Annie Harrington is a small business owner and freelance writer. She is also keenly interested in all aspects of design and the design process.

written by Joe \\ tags: , ,

Apr 29

We all know what a credit score is this day in age. It follows us around our entire lives and is used for the purpose of judging the amount of risk we impose on lenders that decide to loan us money. With so much lending capital and, the desire for bigger and better that we’ve always had, your credit score is more important today than ever before. Of course, as with anything that is important to consumers, credit scores have generated quite the conversation and several questions. Here are the answers to some of the most commonly asked credit score questions.

Is It Possible To Build My Credit Score Faster Than A Year?

The truth is, I would love to tell you that it’s possible but, in that case, I would be lying to you. When we think about the importance of credit scores and what they portray, it’s simple to understand why it can take a year or longer to build your scores. Imaging being the lender that is issuing you a loan. Think about what it would take for you to give some person you don’t know hundreds or even thousands of dollars on a promise of a small profit. You would want to know that this person has paid their loans on time in the past. At least for the last year, if not two! The simple fact is, only consistency in payments alleviate risks imposed on lenders. The only way to show consistency in your payment habits is to show that you are capable of making payments over a long period of time!


How Accurate Are Most Credit Reports?

If you watch T.V., listen to the radio, read the newspaper or magazines, chances are, you’ve seen some ad for a credit protection service that claims that many credit reports are inaccurate. So, exactly how accurate are most credit reports and, should you be concerned about yours? The truth is, most credit reports are incredibly accurate. If they weren’t well, they just wouldn’t be credible! With that said, the ads you’ve read about, seen and heard aren’t lying either. Everyone has a credit report, with that said, there are bound to be some mistakes! You should always keep tabs on your report. You can do so for free at!

Why Will Closing A Credit Card Account Damage My Credit Score?

If you talk to most financial professionals about closing a credit card, you will find out that it will most likely damage your credit score to do. That said, this has spread through the masses and the common thought is that no matter the case, closing a credit card will always harm your credit score. That’s not exactly the truth either. When it comes down to it, one of the factors included in the calculation of your credit score is the amount of time your accounts have been opened on average. The longer the average, the better. Therefore, if you do close a credit card that you have had for a long time, chances are, it may harm your credit score. However, let’s say you just opened a store credit card to get a bit of savings at the register. You earn the savings and now, you will never want to use the card again. This new card reduces the average amount of time that your accounts have been opened. Therefore, by closing this account, you will increase your average back to where it was and you will probably notice a positive change.

Final Thoughts

I hope that you’ve enjoyed my article. More importantly, I hope that I’ve given you the answers you’ve been looking for! If you have any other questions about credit scores, please feel free to ask them by leaving a comment below. I will respond, I promise!

About The Author – Joshua Rodriguez – This article was written by Joshua Rodriguez, proud owner of CNA Finance and avid personal finance journalist! Join the conversation about credit scores or any topic of your choice on Google+!

written by Joe \\ tags: , ,