What the experts say
Tips for quick credit boosts
“Building good credit takes time,” said Danielle Wiener-Bronner in CNN.com, but there are a few ways to boost your rating in a hurry. Your first step should be to correct any errors on your credit report. You can file disputes for any mistakes and ask the credit bureaus “to send out corrected versions” of your report to anyone who has requested it in the last six months. Next, pay down some credit card debt. How much you owe on your cards versus your total credit limit makes up nearly a third of your score. Try to keep the ratio below 30 percent. If you can’t afford more payments, think about asking your cardholder to increase your credit limit, which will “lower your credit utilization ratio.” And “don’t close any old cards.” Credit history also affects your score, so closing old accounts will hurt your rating.
Investing in your relationship
“Have you ever had a money date?” asked Jean Chatzky in NBCNews.com. Making time each month to talk openly and honestly to your partner about your financial goals is crucial for avoiding problems down the road. Set up time to talk in advance so that your partner doesn’t feel ambushed or on edge. Before the “date,” “take a few minutes to check in with yourself” about how you’ve felt about money lately. Are you angry or anxious, overwhelmed or pleased? Then state your goals—more saving for retirement, an overseas trip this year— and discuss what’s required to make them happen. Finally, “figure out who’s going to do what.” If you slip up, don’t be too hard on each other. Discuss what went wrong and plan “how to improve on it for the future.”
An overdue Social Security increase
The Social Security increase coming next year feels “too little, too late” to many retirees, said Michelle Singletary in The Washington Post. Social Security checks will climb 2 percent in 2018, thanks to a cost-of-living adjustment. “The average check is currently $1,377 a month, so the monthly increase, on average, comes to $27.” But analysts say that the adjustment doesn’t make up for years of “no or minuscule increases.” “If you polled seniors, 10 out of 10 would say the [adjustment] is not keeping up with their costs,” said Gary Koenig, vice president of financial security at AARP. For many retirees, the extra cash “will be wiped out” by the rising cost of prescription drugs and Medicare premiums, adds Nancy Altman of Social Security Works, an advocacy group that aims to safeguard the program. ■