Top 8 Must-Know Personal Finance Facts for 2023
For those who pay attention to financial news and events, 2023 has already delivered a roller coaster ride for personal budgeting. Inflation continues to surge ahead, and the national economy appears to be slipping toward a full-blown recession. Those factors and others can wreak havoc for individuals who need to keep a close eye on their money. So, what are the most essential facts that everyone should know about personal finances? While dozens of items qualify for the category, the top ones include salient points about college degrees, credit scores, life insurance, savings accounts, coupons, and more. Here are the pertinent details.
It’s Possible to Improve Credit Scores
There are no shortcuts for boosting credit scores, but it is possible to improve them in about six months if you focus on a few core factors. First, order reports from each of the three major bureaus and scan the documents for mistakes, which are more common than people suspect. Report all discrepancies to the bureaus directly. Then, pay all bills on time, preferably a few days before their scheduled due dates. Finally, reduce credit card usage and outstanding debt levels as quickly as possible. Aim to keep credit card balances at 30% or below their spending limits.
College Degrees Boost Lifetime Income Potential
Getting and financing a college degree are two parts of the success formula when it comes to personal finances. That’s because adults who hold diplomas tend to have an easier time maintaining steady incomes over several decades of work leading up to retirement. The good news is that anyone can use an online platform to find scholarship opportunities that can cover some or all the expenses associated with higher education.
To get started, review your options online here and then decide how to proceed. Earning and paying for a four-year academic program can change your life for the better. But it’s even easier to find awards for school when you use a platform that lets users search and apply for scholarships from a single location. For more than 50 years, working adults who have degrees earn more over their careers than folks who don’t have a college education.
Resumes are for Getting Interviews, Not Getting Jobs
Be careful with resumes. They have a special purpose, and it’s not to get a job. Instead, if you attempt to improve your financial position with a career move, understand that a resume’s primary purpose is to get an interview. From there, it’s up to you to convince a hiring agent that you are the right person for the job. Invest in a great resume by hiring a professional writer. The cost is modest, and the effort can pay off by getting you into many live interviews.
Coupon Apps Cut Grocery Bills
There are dozens of digital coupon platforms that let users download individual coupons or apps they can use in the checkout aisle. Avoid fee-based coupon clubs because they tend to be overpriced and not worth the money. Instead, stick with reputable websites that offer free apps for your phone. Most of the sites specialize in one or more product categories or store types. The most popular ones for downloading are the grocery apps that can be used at checkout or after making purchases.
Credit Cards Can Help You If You Know How to Use Them
Plastic is not evil, contrary to what some bloggers and the financial media say. When used correctly, for emergencies and convenience, they can work to bolster your credit scores. Be careful to keep balances as low as possible, preferably paying them to zero when statements arrive. Don’t pay bills late, or you can get hit with a penalty that shows up on your financial record. Strive to have no more than two cards at any time and try to use each one at least once per month so the financial records show you as an active holder.
Savings Habit Can Save Your Financial Health
Try to set aside a fixed percentage of each paycheck in an interest-bearing savings account. When you apply for a mortgage or other large loan, lenders consider your savings history in relation to income. Those who can retain about 5% of their regular income can build up a solid savings balance and position themselves for a loan approval when purchasing a first home.
Smart People Buy Life Insurance
There are many myths about life insurance. One is that it’s prohibitively expensive. Another is that people are better off saving their money than investing in coverage. Both are untrue because life insurance can be inexpensive for young and middle-aged people, and it nearly always delivers more benefits than a standard savings account. Particularly for those in their twenties and thirties, premiums on typical life policies are quite reasonable and offer a long list of advantages.
Besides death payouts for surviving family members, life insurance from top-rated carriers comes with features that allow for low interest borrowing against the cash value and more. The easiest way to learn what’s available is to consult an independent agent who has access to all the major companies’ products. Then, select a coverage amount that suits your age, income, family size, and personal preferences.
DTI (Debt-To-Income) Ratio Determines Your Borrowing Power
Most lenders use a critical parameter called DTI to measure a loan applicant’s fiscal solidity and ability to repay the obligation. There are several variations of the basic formula, but the most common way to calculate DTI is to divide current loan obligations and rent by income. Most large banks and government-backed lenders have strict DTI requirements.
Whether done on annual or monthly data, a result of 40% or lower is generally considered a dividing line for financial stability. A DTI lower than 40% is preferred, while ratios above that point can lead to the rejection of a loan application. Keep track of your own debt-to-income ratio every month. If it is too high, work on paying off small loans and credit cards as early as possible.
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