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Valencia Higuera
Valencia Higuera is a personal finance junkie who enjoys reading articles on budgeting, saving money, and credit cards. She has written personal finance articles and blogs for several online publications. She holds a B.A in English from Old Dominion University and currently lives in Chesapeake, Virginia.

What Are Credit Card Convenience Checks – Rates, Fees, Pros & Cons

By Valencia Higuera

credit card convenience checksCredit card companies like to bombard consumers with special offers, and if you have a good credit score, you likely receive pre-approved credit card invitations from time to time. Furthermore, if you already have a credit card in your name, your issuer may periodically send you convenience checks tied to your credit card account. You can use these checks for any purpose, providing that a retailer or other business accepts this method of payment.

Convenience checks look like regular checks, and if you’re cash-strapped, they’re pretty enticing to use. However, before you hastily fill one out, it is crucial that you learn how convenience checks work – and understand the numerous risks.

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What to Do If a Debt Collector Asks for Money You Don’t Owe

By Valencia Higuera

debt collectorWhile there is never any excuse for abuse, the behavior of some relentless debt collectors can border on abusive. Though there are laws to protect you from harassment, a collector may call your home nonstop, as well as harass your family or any other person listed as a reference on your account. Some collectors speak harshly or issue threats, and if you don’t take a stand, this bad behavior can continue for months or years.

If you don’t owe the debt in question, harassment makes the situation even more difficult to deal with. You may repeatedly deny the debt, but to no avail. To resolve your situation, you must start by understanding how debt collectors and collection accounts work.

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4 Reasons Why You Should Check Your Credit Report

By Valencia Higuera

credit check

Your credit report provides detailed information about your credit history, and when applying for a loan, the contents of your report can make or break the deal. Many people acknowledge the importance of a good credit score, yet neglect to monitor their own.

People live busy, hectic lives, and often their credit profile is the last thing on their minds. However, ignoring your credit report can cause you significant problems. So much can impact your score, and the more you know about it, the better. Keeping an eye on your credit can help you buy a house, secure a job, and save money on insurance.

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4 Surprising Things That Affect Your Credit Score

By Valencia Higuera

calculating credit scoreIf you’re like many people, you believe that as long as your credit card bill and other recurring debts are paid on time each month, you must have a great credit score. Right?

Unfortunately, earning and maintaining a good credit score isn’t nearly as simple as you might think. While timeliness and credit utilization play a major part in determining your score, there are a number of other factors that come into play – and some aren’t so obvious. Take a look at some of the issues below and see if you can improve your score.

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6 Reasons Why Your Credit Card Application May Be Denied

By Valencia Higuera

credit applicationApplying for a credit card is one of the fastest and easiest ways to build your credit score – and if you’re low on cash, a credit card can help you through a financial jam. However, your enthusiasm over getting approved for a new card could come to a screeching halt if you receive a rejection letter.

A credit card denial can come as a complete surprise, especially if you feel that you’re a good candidate for a new account. But when reviewing applications, credit card companies take many factors into consideration, only approving applicants with a low default risk.

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Pros & Cons of Refinancing Your Home Mortgage Loan

By Valencia Higuera

refinancingMortgage refinancing isn’t a new concept, but whenever there’s a significant drop in mortgage rates, it’s not unusual for mortgage lenders to receive an influx of applications. Refinancing is the process of attaining a new mortgage to pay off an existing mortgage. The new mortgage comes with entirely new terms, which are typically better for the homeowner.

There are good reasons to refinance a mortgage loan. Perhaps you’re cash-strapped and desperately need to reduce your monthly payment to avoid foreclosure. Or maybe you agreed to a bad mortgage loan and want to acquire better terms.

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5 Things You Should Never Keep in Your Wallet – Prevent Identity Theft

By Valencia Higuera

walletIdentity theft is the fastest growing crime in America, and it affects roughly 19 people every minute, according to TransUnion. This type of crime occurs when someone steals your personal information, usually for financial gain. Thieves can apply for credit cards or loans in your name, and make fraudulent charges on your existing credit card accounts. However, there are multiple methods thieves use to effectively steal your identity: There’s the old-fashioned method of dumpster-diving for bank statements and credit card statements, as well as phishing techniques that use the Internet to steal personal information.

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Cosigning a Loan – Understanding the Reasons & Risks

By Valencia Higuera

loan application cosignThere are no denying the benefits of having a high credit score. It allows you to be eligible for credit cards, auto loans, mortgage loans, and other types of loans with little hassle, providing you have adequate income. Good credit also justifies a low interest rate, which means lower monthly payments.

While loan officers fight for your business, they aren’t the only ones who take notice of your solid credit. If you’re the financially responsible one among your family or circle of friends, there’s a chance that someone will ask you to cosign a loan.

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How to Protect & Improve Your Credit Score While Married

By Valencia Higuera

happy coupleMoney is a touchy subject, and our attitudes about it and our relationships with it harken back to things we learned as children. As such, far too many soon-to-be-married couples avoid specifically discussing it. Maybe they’re embarrassed by their lack of personal savings or their amount of consumer debt, or perhaps they grew up in a house where money matters weren’t out on the table. And then the lovers wed, only to discover that one or both spouses is saddled with massive debt, collections, or even a bankruptcy. This can delay plans to buy a house or start a family and create a damaging rift between the couple.

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How to Sell a Used Car – Tips for Pricing & Advertising

By Valencia Higuera

selling your carSo you’re ready to buy a new car. That’s always an exciting move, but before you jump in, there are some important considerations to make regarding selling your current vehicle. The easiest solution is simply to trade in your car at the dealer if that’s where you’re making your purchase. However, going that route has unique pros and cons, and you won’t get the most money.

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How to Trade In a Car – Pros & Cons, How It Works

By Valencia Higuera

trading in a vehicleAre you looking to get rid of your current vehicle? You’ve got several options: You could put a “for sale” sign in the window of the vehicle and hope an interested passerby spots it. You could list the car in the automotive classifieds or on Craigslist and field calls and emails from potential buyers who will likely haggle over price. Or, you can simply trade in your auto to a dealer and purchase a new one.

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How to Get a Seller to Pay Closing Costs When Buying a Home

By Valencia Higuera

closing costsBuying a house isn’t cheap, and cash flow and income problems can result in a missed opportunity to buy your own place. Plus, getting a mortgage loan has become more expensive in recent years, as the majority of lenders now require a down payment of approximately 5% of the sale price. But this isn’t the only big expense associated with ownership – buying a house also involves closing costs, which can equal 3% to 6% of the mortgage balance.

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8 Things to Know & Do Before Renting an Apartment

By Valencia Higuera

apartment for rentWhether you’re a young adult searching for your first apartment, or a seasoned renter in need of a new place, looking for a new apartment can be an exciting process. You may already know what you want in an apartment, and you probably have your heart set on a specific area or neighborhood.

However, some aspects of finding an apartment and renting are not exactly enjoyable. And while renting an apartment is often cheaper and quicker than buying a home, getting approved for a rental isn’t always easy. However, there are a number of things you must keep in mind, as well as steps you must take, to help make the process simpler.

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7 Common Mistakes Made by First-Time Home Buyers

By Valencia Higuera

couple house shoppingWhen I bought my first house a few years ago, I quickly discovered that there’s nothing cheap about the process. With closing costs, the down payment, the home inspection, and the home appraisal, you can wipe out your savings before you even receive the keys to your new home.

These expenses can be particularly difficult to control for first-time home buyers, who may be naive to the process. However, by educating yourself, you can avoid common mistakes and potentially save yourself a great deal of money.

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What Is an FHA Mortgage Loan – Requirements, Limits & Qualifications

By Valencia Higuera

fha mortgageWhen applying for a home mortgage loan, some buyers focus all their attention on conventional mortgages. However, these are not the only products on the market. The FHA mortgage loan is one alternative that may help you save money on your down payment and possibly qualify for a larger mortgage.

FHA is not a new product, as they have been available for years. However, talk of FHA loans has recently increased due to their attractive features and easier requirements. FHA mortgage loans are a government product insured by the Federal Housing Administration. However, it’s important to note that the Federal Housing Administration does not issue the home loan – this is done by your mortgage lender. However, if you default or stop making your mortgage payments, your home loan lender receives financial recourse from the FHA.

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