Questions and Answers
I know that I can't make my bill payment this month. What should I do?
You should contact your creditors immediately. You may be able to work out a payment plan in a way that you can manage.
I have been having trouble managing my bills and paying debts. Should I file bankruptcy?
Filing bankruptcy should be a last resort to solving debt problems. Normal credit information stays on your credit profile for seven years. Bankruptcy may last ten years. Bankruptcy may make it difficult to rent an apartment, buy a house, or get insurance.
What types of things do creditors assess when looking at my credit?
Some things that creditors look at are your bill payment history, your number of accounts open, and the debt you owe. They may also look at how well you pay your bills on time, how long that you have had your accounts, and more.
If my credit card gets stolen, how much am I responsible for paying?
By federal law, you may not owe more than $50 for each card that was stolen.
How do I protect my credit rating if my wallet is stolen containing my credit cards?
An alert may be put on the account. All three credit reporting agencies need to be called to place a fraud alert on the accounts.
How can I cut back on spending?
- Cut out non-essential expenditures. For example, you could stop eating out or reduce entertainment expenses.
- You could cut back on transportation expenses by riding a bike or walking to local destinations. You could also reduce gas and upkeep costs by driving a more efficient car.
- If you have a mortgage check to see if refinancing would be beneficial for you.
How do I budget my money?
- First you need to see how your money is being spent. You can do this by keeping track of where each dollar goes during a period of time. Including small purchases like candy bars, coffees, etc.
- Set your financial goals.
- Look at your expenditures to see if you are meeting your priorities and look to see if any category of expenditure is higher than what it should be.
- Keep track of your spending to make sure you are staying within your guidelines.
What is a credit report?
Your credit report contains information about your:
- Identity and employment information- For example, your job history, social security number, spouse’s name, annual income, and previous address.
- Payment history-Information about credit lines you have had in the last several years including whether payments were made on time, credit limits, and whether the account had been referred to a collections agency.
- Inquiries-information about creditors who have asked for your credit history
- Public record information-bankruptcies, foreclosures, and liens could be listed on your credit report
What should I do if I believe my identity has been stolen?
- Contact one of the three consumer reporting agencies to place a fraud alert on your credit report. This can help prevent new lines of credit from being opened with your information.
- Close any accounts you believe could, have, or may be tampered with.
- File a police report and get a copy of the report. It can help give proof of the crime.
- File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission. This can help law enforcement track down identity thieves. You can file a complaint online at www.consumer.gov/idtheft. If you don't have Internet access, call the FTC's Identity Theft Hotline, toll-free: 1-877-IDTHEFT (438-4338); TTY: 1-866-653-4261; or write: Identity Theft Clearinghouse, Federal Trade Commission, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20580.
- For more information, http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/microsites/idtheft.
What is the best way to choose a credit card?
- Check the interest rate
- Is it fixed or variable?
- How is the rate determined?
- Is there a grace period?
- What are the transaction fees involved with the card?
- What is the balance computation method for the Finance charge?
- Does the card have special penalty rates if you miss a payment?
How do I know if something is a SCAM?
Look for the some of the following warning signs:
- Claims that you've won a prize—but must pay to receive it.
- Pitches that require you to pay right away.
- Callers or salespeople who won't provide written information.
- Offers that promise sizable returns with minimal risk.
- Requests for donations that don't disclose how money will be used.
- Offers to "repair" your credit in exchange for an up-front fee.
- Persistent pitches from the same company.
- Offers to recoup money you've lost in another fraudulent scheme.
- Requests that you keep the offer a secret.
I don’t understand the specifics of my student loan, who do I talk to?
You are able to speak with counselors at the Wright Financial Path, members of Financial Aid, and with the agency from which you received the award. Please bring any documentation of the award with you to your appointment.
Why do I need to start saving money now?
Having a monetary safety net is an essential part of every personal financial plan. Most college students should have 2-3 months of expenses saved in the event of an emergency. It is also important to remember that many college students have days, weeks, or months between when they graduate and when they get a full-time job. It is important to save enough money during college to get you through that period.
What are some good ways to save money fast?
- Savings account: Often the first banking product people use, savings accounts earn a small amount in interest, anywhere from 2.0% to 4.0%.
- Money market funds: Money market funds are a specialized type of mutual fund that invests in extremely short-term bonds. Unlike most mutual funds, shares in money market fund are designed to be worth $1 at all times. Money market funds usually pay better interest rates than a conventional savings account, but below what you could get in certificates of deposit.
- Certificate of deposit (CD): This is a specialized deposit you make at a bank or other financial institution. The interest rate on CDs is usually about the same as that of short- or intermediate-term bonds, depending on the duration of the CD. Interest is paid at regular intervals until the CD matures, at which point you get the money you originally deposited plus the accumulated interest payments. CDs offered by banks are usually insured.
What are some good ways to save money in the long term?
- Bonds: Bonds are "fixed-income" securities because the amount of income the bond generates each year is "fixed," or set, when the bond is sold. From an investor's point of view, bonds are very similar to CDs, except that they are issued by the government or by corporations instead of banks.
- Stock: Stocks are a way for individuals to own parts of businesses. A share of stock represents a proportional share of ownership in a company. As the value of the company changes, the value of the share in that company rises and falls.
- Mutual funds: Mutual funds are a way for investors to pool their money to buy stocks, bonds, or anything else the fund manager decides is worthwhile. Instead of managing your money yourself, you turn over the responsibility of managing that money to a "professional."
How can I prevent identity theft?
- Only carry minimal identification with you at all times. Never carry your Social Security Card and/or birth certificate when you don’t need to.
- Check your credit report at least once a year, checking for any suspicious activity or accounts.
- Protect your identity online, only give out your information when necessary and only to secure sites.