Credit Card Podcast

August 1, 2008

Credit cards – we all have them and we use them – alot!

This podcast reviews tips on what to look for when shopping for a new credit card and ideas on how to use your cards wisely. 

Credit Card Podcast

To listen to the podcast, click on the above link and the podcast will play in the blog player, or right click and save to your computer to play later.

For other available podcasts, vist the Podcast section of this blog.

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Our blog in the news!

April 4, 2008

CQ logo

A big thank you goes out to the Times Union of Albany NY.  Recently they featured our blog, along with our other podcasts, in-school branches and youth initiatives, in the Capitaland Quarterly.

Here is a link to the article:

http://www.timesunion.com/AspStories/story.asp?storyID=675726


Going Greener With Your Next Car

April 4, 2008

This post isn’t talking about what color car you want – it’s about cars and the environment!

If you’re as worried about climate change on the planet as you are about climate control inside your car, it’s now easier to pick out the greenest vehicle that meets your needs and budget.  The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)—which regulates tailpipe pollutants as well as measures gas mileage—has combined data from both roles into a new Green Vehicle Guide.  Consulting this and other Internet green car ratings will help you make a more informed decision.

If you look at EPA ratings, you can see which of the cars, vans, pickups, or SUVs you’re considering add least to your hometown air pollution as well as have the least impact on global warming.  And there’s a bonus: Cars with lower carbon dioxide emissions generally have higher gas mileage and so will cost you less to drive.

In trying to think green for your next car, here are some issues to consider:

• Look hard at how you use your vehicle.  Consider your actual automotive needs rather than just your wants.

• Choose the greenest in your category.  Even if the vehicles you’re interested in don’t show up in the EPA or other top ratings, remember that better gas mileage translates to lower emission of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide.

• Don’t assume a hybrid is the only answer.  Though gas-electric hybrids top the mileage and green rating lists in most categories, you can find other green choices as well.

• Be alert for quirks in the EPA Rating.  Some vehicles flagged by the EPA as green standouts run most efficiently on E85 ethanol. Check here for E85 availability where you live; you’ll have to put in your zip code.

Greener choices–from small vehicles to large–are becoming available.  For the latest on hybrids and other green cars, visit Edmunds.com and click on Tips and Advice.


Tips to Avoid Late Fees

March 27, 2008

With late payment fees of $39 or more, credit card companies make millions of dollars a year just because we are a little late in making a payment.  What can you do?

The most important thing is to make your payment before the due date.  You will save on the late fee and it will help your credit score, which in turn will save you more money in your future lending needs.  Here are a few tips to help keep you on track and avoid paying late fees:

1.  Be aware of the rules of your credit card.  For example, many credit cards offer low rates, but if you are late by one day not only will you pay a late fee, but your rate will jump up, meaning it will cost you more money!

2.  If you are paying by mail, make sure you send the payment and payment coupon, at least a week before the due date.

3.  If you are paying by online bill payment, schedule your payment 2 or 3 days before your due date, to ensure that your payment is credited on time.

4.  If you find that your credit card payment comes at an inconvenient time, ask your credit card issuer to change the due date to assist you in managing your money.  Most credit card companies would be able to do this for you.

These are just a few common sense tips to help you manage your money and avoid paying fees when you don’t have to!


Give Your Debts a Financial Health Check

March 21, 2008

Woman Workout

How healthy is your financial situation?  Here’s how you can determine your financial health!

A debt-to-income ratio is a measure of financial stability calculated by dividing monthly minimum debt payments by monthly gross income.  Many lenders use debt-to-income ratios to help determine whether a borrower is overextended or not. 

This calculation gives a straightforward depiction of your financial position.  Typically, the lower your ratio, the better handle you have on debt.  Here’s how you can calculate your debt-to-income ratio:

First, determine your debt

* Collect your most recent credit billing statements for current balances on all loans and credit cards
* Outline your total monthly bills using two columns: bill type (such as car loan, mortgage/rent payments, credit cards, and so on) and monthly payment.  Do not include bills such as taxes and utilities in this list.

* Add up the total for all of the monthly payments listed.

* Calculate your monthly before-tax income.  If you receive a paycheck every other week, as opposed to twice a month, your monthly gross income is your before-tax income from one paycheck times 2.17.

* Your monthly debt-to-income ratio is calculated by dividing your monthly debt payments by your monthly income.  For example, someone with a monthly income of $2,000 who is making monthly payments of $500 on loans and credit cards has a debt-to-income ratio of 25% ($500 / $2,000 = .25 or 25%).

What range your debt-to-income should be is subjective.  But, generally speaking if you keep it below 35%, you should be in good shape.  And, remember – the lower your debt-to-income ratio is – the better!

Take a look at your debt-to-income ratio, and look for ways to reduce that percentage!


Common Credit Report Mistakes Could Cost You

March 7, 2008

If you haven’t requested a copy of your credit report, there are many reasons why you should.

A 2004 study–the most recent available–by the National Association of State Public Interest Research Groups revealed that almost 79% of all credit reports contain some type of error.  One-fourth of credit reports contain such serious errors that those individuals could be denied credit or be charged a higher interest rate.

What are the common errors?

1.  Misspelled names
2.  Wrong Social Security numbers
3.  Inaccurate birth dates
4.  Inaccurate information about a spouse
5.  Out-of-date address
6.  “Closed” accounts listed as “open”
7.  The same mortgage or loan listed twice
8.  Absence of major credit, loan, mortgage, or other accounts that could be used to demonstrate creditworthiness

What should you do?  Review your credit report, at least annually, for accuracy.  If you uncover an error, contact the credit reporting agency to have it corrected.  On an annual basis you can get a free credit report at www.annualcreditreport.com.  In between, First New York members can have their credit report run at no charge, to make sure your credit report is accurate.  Visit any branch office for more information.


New Home-buyers Podcast

February 29, 2008

You’re thinking about buying a home, but you’re not sure what to do?  Check out our new podcast!

 We’ve put together a few tips that are perfect for the first time home-buyer!

Here is the MP3 version.  You can click to open and listen to the podcast using your computers audio software, or you can right click the link and save it to your hard drive to listen at a later date on your MP3 player.

Be sure to visit the Podcast section of this blog for all of our previous podcasts.

Homebuying Podcast