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Why knowing your FICO Score is important: What’s the difference between credit scores out there?

The following post has been sponsored by our partner, FICO. The analysis and opinions in the story are our own and may not reflect the views of FICO. Learn more about our editorial policy

If you recently applied for a new credit card or other kind of consumer loan from a major bank or credit union, there’s a good chance the lender viewed your FICO® Score and may have shared with you the FICO Score obtained at the time of application.

While many lenders have ongoing programs to share updated FICO Scores, you may have also seen free educational three-digit credit scores through lenders or other companies.

Most big credit card issuers offer some kind of free score to customers. Some lenders, such as Discover, are even more generous, offering free scores to anyone willing to supply their information. Discover offers a free FICO® Score to the general public, while some educational sites and card issuers share VantageScore.

But what is the difference between the versions? Why are they different when applying for an auto loan or mortgage or applying for a credit card? Also, what is the difference between FICO® Scores and educational credit scores?

Sallie Mae’s research released in 2019 found that one’s credit score is not top of mind for many young adults noting that many are less likely to be aware of their FICO® Score and the factors that impact one’s score, let alone what sets their different scores apart.

Here’s a closer look at the most widely used consumer credit scores, how lenders use them and what makes each score unique.

See related: Which credit scores do mortgage lenders use?

How credit scores are used by lenders

For nearly three decades now, consumer credit risk scores have played an important role in lending. They not only help lenders efficiently assess/gauge new borrowers, they also give other interested parties, such as landlords or cellphone companies, a window into your credit health.

Most lenders use third-party credit scores, such as the FICO® Score (used in 90% of lending decisions), for soft credit checks before you’ve even submitted an application. A lender will then use these scores to help assess if the applicant meets the lender’s credit criteria. Most lenders also use internal credit risk tools to help assess an applicant’s creditworthiness and determine a borrower’s terms.

For example, a lender may use a FICO® Score distributed by credit reporting agencies in conjunction with their own internal scoring models.  These internal risk tools may take into account additional financial information included in your application, such as your income and housing payment.

(Contrary to some persistent credit myths, your income is not shown on your traditional credit reports, nor is it included in your FICO® Score.)

See related: How debt-to-income ratio affects credit card applications

Which credit score is your lender considering?

It varies by lender. There’s a good chance, though, that your lender is using some version of a FICO® Score, since FICO continues to be the most widely used credit score. FICO has designed various FICO® Score versions that are used by different industries due to different requirements. For instance, across the three credit bureaus, FICO® Auto Score 8 is widely used in auto financing, mortgage lenders often rely on FICO® Scores 2, FICO® Score 4 and FICO® Scores 5, and credit card issuers tend to check FICO® Bankcard Score 8 or FICO® Score 8.

FICO is considered the standard in credit scoring, trusted by lenders for decades. FICO is an independent data analytics company, meaning it’s not a credit bureau and not controlled or owned by any of the three major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion). It has been an industry standard for over 30 years.

the FICO® Score Open Access program (if your lender is enrolled). This way, you will be able to stay on top of your credit score and it is a free resource.

Otherwise, you will find out which score a lender used if the lender declines to make an offer of credit or offers less-than-the most favorable terms because of your credit score. Lenders are required to disclose the score that influenced the outcome of your application and key factors (if declined). The lender must also provide you with brief explanations of their decision.

What influences varying credit score models?

It depends on the score. Technically, there are many different types of FICO® Scores, in addition to educational credit scores that are intended specifically for consumers who want to get a quick read of what their credit health might be, rather than provide the precise same number that lenders will review.

It’s also important to remember that credit score developers revisit the credit score models on a regular basis following changes in data or consumer behavior. However, lenders have the option to migrate to newer credit scoring models or use multiple FICO® Score models for different credit products so you may wish to inquire what FICO® Score version your lender will be using as part of the credit decisioning process.

For instance, while broad-based scores address the vast majority of applicants, credit scoring models that use alternative data sources such as FICO® Score XD that utilizes telecom data are available for entry-level credit products (reliably expanding credit access for over 200 million consumers), if there’s insufficient data at the credit bureau to provide a traditional FICO® Score.

The FICO® Score 8 and Score 9 models (the most widely used versions by lenders) rely on information that appears in your traditional credit reports, such as your loan payments and accounts. The UltraFICO™ Score, on the other hand, allows consumers to connect their checking and savings accounts cash flow data to potentially improve their score based on positive financial behavior.

Credit score versions matter

Making things a bit trickier, newer versions of your credit score may also look different from older versions of the same score, due to revisions in the way the scores are calculated. For example, a newer version of your credit score may treat a recent late payment with more weight than an older version.

As a result, the parts of your credit history that count most toward the success of your application will not only depend on the type of credit score that a lender uses. It may also depend on the version of that score your lender is using.

FICO® Score 10, which was released in 2020, is the first FICO scoring model to incorporate trended data, and the UltraFICO™ Score is the first score to consider recency and frequency of bank transactions and the consistent amount of cash on hand.

Similarly, the VantageScore 4.0 model expands from prior versions by placing significantly more weight on your total credit usage and your debt-to-credit-ratio than on your payment history. But VantageScore 3.0 – which is still in circulation – places more weight on your overall payment history than on any other component of your score. In addition, VantageScore 4.0 gives less weight to medical collections and it ignores new collection accounts that are younger than six months.

this page for the list of authorized FICO® Score retailers, as well as institutions and lenders that share FICO Scores with their customers through the FICO® Score Open Access program.

Bottom line

Although the term “credit score” is often used interchangeably, no matter what version is used, there’s no such thing as a universal score. The truth is you have many different credit scores – including from the same scoring developer.

But despite the differences between scores, the basic components of a good credit score remain the same: pay your bills on time, limit your credit usage, don’t close your oldest revolving account and don’t go wild applying for a whole bunch of credit at one time.

If you follow those basic rules of thumb, you should be able to build a credit score that you’re proud to show off to any lender.

 

Source: creditcards.com

5 Great Ways to Increase Remote Working Productivity

When the COVID lockdowns started, most business owners probably didn't think much about the efficiency of their remote working solutions as long as they were able to keep the lights on. As we head into 2021, we can see that remote working is going to become a permanent feature of our business lives. With more than half of employees reporting frustrations with their remote work solutions, now is a good time to think about getting the best software and apps in to help your team stay productive.

Remember, too, that many of your people will find working at home a very lonely experience and so things like video conferencing can help alleviate the mental health impact of a lockdown.

Let's look at some of the products that are available to help you stay in touch and remain effective no matter what 2021 throws at you!

Workflow boards

One of the things that many people have reported is difficulty in keeping motivated and understanding what needs to happen and when.

When you're in an office, it's easy to simply lean across the desk and ask what is going on. But what happens when your team is all working remotely?

Using Kanban boards like Trello and Asana allows you to posts jobs, tasks, and subtasks and then allocate them to individual staff members or team so that everyone knows where they are and what still needs doing.

Remote access software

Remote access software can have some real benefits for users across the organisation and doesn’t need to be confined to your IT helpdesk.

Modern remote working can give users a virtual desktop, which is the same wherever they log on. A Virtual Private Network (VPN) can also increase security.

Remote access software can also include functionality that enables video conferencing, chat functions, shared word processing, and file sharing, along with resources for troubleshooting in a pinch.

If you’d like to find out more about what it can do for you, check the best options in this excellent remote access software review by Neil Patel.

Remote shared storage

Many companies rely upon having drives readily available to all staff, and when you're all working in the same office, this is a simple matter. But when your team is spread out, then you need to think about organizing remote storage.

Google Drive and Dropbox are probably the most well-known offerings, but there are many more. They all provide you with the ability to have shared drives that are accessible based on your own organization’s security protocol.

Remote storage is a very competitive area, so prices have dropped over the last few years. So in many cases, you are better off subscribing to a best-in-class cloud storage solution (especially if it includes remote access desktops as above) rather than upgrading your on-premise servers.

Business-class video conferencing

For many businesses, this is one area where they just had to get a solution in place quickly so everyone could carry on working. But it really is worth choosing a business-class video conferencing system.

Having a better system makes life easier for your staff, but it also portrays a professional image to your customers and suppliers.

Free systems are great, but they will always come with limitations. Zoom, for instance, limits calls to 45 minutes on its free version. Other free solutions reduce video quality.

With paid solutions, the cost for a group subscription is often very reasonable when compared to the cost of losing even one customer.

Collaboration and sharing tools

When you can just pass files and papers across a desk, life is easy. But if you're miles away from your co-workers, contractors, and customers, how can you possibly collaborate effectively?

Many of the really good systems bundle in storage, video conferencing, Kanban boards and collaboration tools that help your teams act like teams rather than a collection of dispersed individuals.

Obviously, the big player here is Microsoft. But you can get excellent results with apps like Zoho Connect, Winio, and Wire. If you only really want chat capability, then look at Slack.

Take advantage of trials

What works for some people may not work for you and your company. But the good news is that pretty much every system mentioned here has some form of free trial.

The best advice is to take the developers up on their offer and test these solutions out. Get feedback from your employees and take into account how easy the apps are to use, the support available, and of course, the annual cost.

Don’t be swayed by attractive-sounding initial reductions. If the system is good, you’ll be using it for a long time. It is much more important to get the right features for you rather than buying something that isn't well-suited to the task because the developer was offering a half-price sale.
 

Source: quickanddirtytips.com

Tips And Services To Help Your Bookkeeping Go Paperless

The COVID-19 pandemic wasn’t a catalyst to shift businesses toward digital transformation, it merely sped up the process. Businesses needed to scramble to move much of their operations online so workers could efficiently collaborate with each other and maintain business continuity during a difficult time.

Fortunately, departments not traditionally associated with the digital universe, like Bookkeeping, had an easier time adapting thanks to online services like Bookstime.com, a provider of digital bookkeeping tools with unique experience in difficult areas like sales tax automation, health benefits administration, and more.

Advantages of digital bookkeeping

Keeping track of every business transaction is among the most important and perhaps underappreciated tasks. Failure to keep track of transactions in a professional manner can result in a business owner making wrong decisions because they have inaccurate information.

Even worse, they might think they end the year with a profit but in reality, a bunch of small bookkeeping mistakes over several months means the business owner really lost money.

A shift to a digital platform eliminates these concerns. Online digital platforms make use of the most up-to-date accounting automation software that erases nearly every careless mistake. This is especially useful for a business owner who does the tedious but necessary job of bookkeeping themselves to save money. The more time a business owner spends on ancillary tasks, the less time they have to generate revenue and keep clients happy.

Some of the other advantages associated with going online include:

  • Eliminating clutter: keeping a clean home office is challenging enough but a digital platform means more space for higher priority files.
  • Save time: A digital bookkeeping platform is always available online with a few short clicks of the mouse. It can be accessed as needed and when needed in a few short seconds.
  • Environmental benefits: It isn’t unusual for a company to use at least 10,000 sheets of paper each year. Shifting resources online may seem like a small benefit but everyone has a responsibility to do a little bit more to protect our environment.

Case in point: Fill in a W-4

Every business owner is happy to hire new workers because it means they are expected to provide value to the company above and beyond their salary. But that doesn’t mean that the formal process is enjoyable.

One of the more undesirable parts of the hiring process is the pesky W-4 form that every employer has to ensure is properly filled in before a worker’s first day. Simply put, the W-4 form confirms how much income tax a worker wants to have withheld from their recurring paychecks. Under-withholding taxes means a worker will likely experience a shock come tax season as they owe money to the government. Over-withholding taxes means a worker is paying the government too much money and has to wait for a refund.

Digital bookkeeping can help simplify this process so you're less prone to errors. When other people’s finances are at stake, small careless mistakes could impact a worker’s desire to give the business owner 100% of their focus.

Businesses that shifted their bookkeeping process online to better navigate through the pandemic quickly realized this was a move that should have been done years ago. The advantages of having access to a clean and organized online tool far outweigh the costs.

Source: quickanddirtytips.com

10 Under Sink Storage Solutions You Need in Your Life

Keeping your house organized is no easy task and the space under the sink is no exception. It’s often easy to forget about the storage under the sink as it’s mostly covered and hidden.

However, it can and should be just as organized as any other part of your house. Here are 10 under the bathroom sink and under kitchen sink storage ideas.

Under kitchen sink storage ideas

The kitchen is one of the most used rooms in any house or apartment. The only thing that makes a kitchen more enjoyable is when it’s clear of clutter, under the sink included.

Here are some clever under the kitchen sink storage ideas for you to try.

kitchen sink storage

1. Hang bottles with tension rods

Tension rods are one of the best under sink storage solutions. They can be used on virtually every surface and also can be fitted to almost any size area. Once they’re in place you can hang cleaning supply bottles from them to free up space from the bottom of the cabinet.

One of the best things about tension rods is they’re not permanent and they can easily be removed and reused through the house.

2. Use file holders to add storage

File holders aren’t just nifty organizers for the paper on your desk — they make great storage for under your kitchen sink. They’re pretty inexpensive and easy to find at your local paper store or Target.

All you have to do is adhere them to the inside of the cabinet door and you’ll have yourself some extra storage. It’s a great place to put extra towels, dish brushes or sponges for easy access.

3. Organize with bins

When organizing, you can never go wrong with a good old bin. They make a great space to neatly organize and group everything into their own neat place. Once everything has its place you can easily stack them to create even more cleared up space.

Another tip is to label them so that you don’t have to waste time sifting through each one when you’re looking for one thing.

4. Expand storage with a Lazy Susan

Let’s all thank Susan for being lazy and inventing the lazy Susan. It’s one of the most helpful and fun storage hacks on the list. They come in a variety of sizes to fit under any cabinet and make finding what you’re looking for super easy. The best part is you just place all your supplies on it and you’re done!

5. Install cabinet towel holders

Similar to tension rods, cabinet towel holders offer extra space in your cabinet while keeping it organized. They’re very easy to find and even easier to set up and can be used in a variety of spaces around the home, including under your kitchen sink.

All you have to do is remove the packaging and attach the hooks to the door part of your cabinet. Once you’ve done that hang anything from them like cleaning supplies, extra towels and even your cleaning gloves.

Under bathroom sink storage

Similar to the kitchen sink, the bathroom sink is another space that can be difficult to organize. Fear not we’ve got you covered there, too! Here are some great tips for how to organize under your bathroom sink.

bathroom sink storage

6. Store hair tools with PVC piping

When you think of PVC piping under the bathroom sink, storage probably doesn’t come to mind. PVC pipes are a great way to store hair tools such as curling irons, flat irons and their cords. Since they come in a multitude of sizing, you can perfectly fit your tools to the pipe. When you have a perfect size the only thing left to do is attach it to the inside of the cabinet doors.

7. Declutter with sliding shelves

Sliding shelves are a great way to de-clutter under your bathroom sink. They create more space to store items, such as hair products and tools, toilet paper, etc. One of the best things about sliding shelves is the easy access to everything without having to dig through all your things.

8. Create extra space with cabinet door bins

Creating extra storage in small areas is a great way to accomplish all your organizing goals. One way to add extra space is to add cabinet door bins. They’re extremely easy to adhere and also can be removed easily when you’re done using them. They also hold quite a bit and are a great place to put your products, brushes, towels and more.

9. Utilize bins and caddies

As mentioned above, a bin or a caddy is one of the most useful tools to create a clutterless space. Get a large bin specifically for towels and toilet paper and they usually take up the bulk of under sink storage. Use smaller bins for other supplies and stack them to create ample, organized space.

10. Hang caddies over the cabinet door

Hair tools can take up a lot of space under your bathroom sink. One of the best ways to combat bulky hair tools is an over-the-door caddy. They make some specifically for hair tools that easily slip over the door for easy access and assembly.

Do’s and don’ts of under sink storage

You can store a number of items under your bathroom and kitchen sink. Although, there are some items more suitable for under sink storage than others.

under sink storage

Things to safely store under your kitchen sink

  • Sponges, cleaning brushes, gloves
  • Cleaning supplies, such as glass cleaner, dishwashing pods, soap. When storing cleaners underneath the kitchen sink, keep in mind who is in your household. If you have small children that enjoy exploring cabinets you may consider placing cleaners out of reach or adding childproof locks on the door. Another idea is to place all your cleaning supplies on a rubber tray in case of spills for easy cleanup.
  • Trash bags
  • Trash can
  • Recycling can

Things to safely store under your bathroom sink

  • Toiletries, such as extra toothbrushes and paste, deodorant, contact solution
  • Toilet paper
  • Towels
  • Hairstyling tools
  • First aid kit

Things to avoid putting under the kitchen sink

  • Bug spray
  • Oven cleaner
  • Lightbulbs
  • Food

Things to avoid putting under the bathroom sink

  • Jewelry
  • Medications

Organize under your sink

Organizing is never an easy task, however, with the right guidance, it can be a little easier. Use these under the bathroom and kitchen sink storage ideas to create a nice organized space for yourself.

The post 10 Under Sink Storage Solutions You Need in Your Life appeared first on Apartment Living Tips – Apartment Tips from ApartmentGuide.com.

Source: apartmentguide.com

7 Tools for Protecting Your Walls

Protect Your Walls from Cracks

Before driving a nail into a plaster wall, place a small piece of tape over the spot you’re working on. This simple prep step will prevent cracking in the plaster.

Patch It Up

To make a putty for quick patches, combine a tablespoon of salt with a tablespoon of cornstarch.

Mix them together with just enough water to make a paste. Apply while still wet.

Crafty Use for Old Gift Cards

 

In need of a thin yet sturdy household tool for scraping grout, repairing holes in walls, or filling scratches in wood? Use a used-up gift card (or expired credit card) for the job—any unusable hard plastic card will do. And if you’re anything like us, you have plenty of those!

Wall Hole Solution

You’re moving out of an apartment and need to fill in the holes in the wall caused by nails. Just grab a bar of white soap and rub across the hole until the soap fills it. It’s not a permanent fix, but it will make the walls look clean until they can be repainted.

Another Wall Hole Solution

Before spackling small holes in your wall caused by nails, first cut a Q-tip in half and insert in the hole, stick end first. Then spackle as you normally would. The Q-tip will completely fill the hole and ensure you won’t have to go back for a second pass.

Finding Imperfections

Filling and sanding every hole in the wall before you paint can be enough of a pain, but sometimes it’s hard to find every crack, hole, and imperfection. Make your job easier by turning off the lights in a room, then slowly running a flashlight over the entire surface of the wall. The light will cast different shadows in these areas, making them easier to see than they would have been in the daylight.

Got a Screw Loose?

You’ve just struggled to remove a stripped screw from the wall. Now how do you fix the hole? Use a wooden golf tee! First, squirt some wood glue into the hole, then insert the tee as far as it will go, tapping it in place with a hammer. Next, use a utility knife to cut the tee flush with the wall. You’ve now made a stable base for the new screw. Drill a pilot hole into the golf tee, and insert your new screw. Problem solved!

 
For everyday tips and lifehacks, tune in to the Who Knew podcast on iTunes and Stitcher! And don't forget to follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Source: quickanddirtytips.com

Butt Marker? Flat Bastard File? 9 Weird Home Tools and What They’re Used For

weird toolsNA / Getty Images

There are a few key factors that set us humans apart from the other mammals out there: self-awareness, language, and empathy among them. But according to Live Science, “The way humans make and use tools is perhaps what sets our species apart more than anything else.”

What may differentiate us even further from our warm-blooded friends: the kooky names we come up with for some of those thousands of tools humankind has invented. You may know a Phillips head screwdriver from a flathead, but do you know what a double cat’s paw wrecking bar is used for? We sure didn’t.

To help introduce you to the wild world of tools at your disposal as a homeowner, here’s a rundown of the strangest we’ve found, and what they’re used for. Consider this your cheat sheet so you can confidently tell a butt marker from a flat bastard file!

1. Flat bastard file

Flat bastard
Perfect for baking into a cake

HomeDepot.com

It sounds like a slim, secret dossier someone might keep on people they don’t like—or an insult in a classic gangster movie. Yet this heavy-duty flat bastard file is used by machinists and engine builders who need to remove metal from anything from axles to lawn mower blades.

2. Butt marker

Butt marker
Is this tool just used in the bathroom?

HomeDepot.com

Where to begin with a tool called the butt marker? We don’t want to make it the butt of an easy joke, but it’s probably found in the rear of your local hardware store.

And what does the tool with a funny name do? It helps mark the correct hinge size and mortise depth for accurate door installation.

3. Double cat’s paw wrecking bar

Double Cats Paw Wrecking Bar
Is this used in a catfight?

HomeDepot.com

Adorable cats and utter destruction usually don’t go together. But somehow the double cat’s paw wrecking bar exists as a demolition tool used for prying up joists. And bonus for anyone doing a major demo out there: The claws are slotted to easily remove any type of fastener while you can remain comfortably in a standing position rather than stooping down.

4. Flute chucking reamer

Flute Chucking Reamer
Do not try to play this flute.

HomeDepot.com

Can this tool be found in the woodwind section of your toolbox? Or is it something breakout flute player Lizzo uses on her projects at home? OK, OK.

A flute chucking reamer is actually used primarily in machine shops to enlarge or finish an existing drilled hole to a more exact size to achieve a precision fit.

5. Pigtail hook

Pig tail hook
* Not a real pigtail

HomeDepot.com

Last time we checked, pigtails are a swine-y shade of pink. So what gives with this bright yellow? The pop of color is because this tool puts safety first and is used by roofers hauling buckets up from the ground. Adding the twisty pigtail hook to the end of a rope keeps the heavy buckets in place.

6. Spokeshave

Spoke shave
Don’t use this on your face.

HomeDepot.com

The spokeshave may sound like it’s meant to get rid of a guy’s 5 o’clock shadow, but the reality is it’s a woodworking tool designed to carve curves into wooden furniture, such as shaping chair seats and legs. While most DIYers won’t have this in a toolbox, many woodworkers will have a spokeshave in their shop.

7. Spud wrench

Spud Wrench
A spud is a narrow spade used for digging up root vegetables.

HomeDepot.com

You say potato, I say potahto. And still other people—mostly plumbers—say spud and buy this spud wrench instead. Yet it is not used on splitting taters, but for making radiator valve repairs.

8. Bull-nose rabbet plane

Bullnose Rabbet Plane
Do not put a ring through this bull nose.

HomeDepot.com

A rabbet—as opposed to rabbit—is a step-shaped recess cut along the edge of a piece of wood, typically formed to match the edge—or tongue—of another piece of wood. And the bull-nose rabbet plane? It has a blade flush with the edges of the plane, allowing a woodworker to trim right up to the edge of a piece.

9. Nail eater extreme

 Nail Eater Extreme
Much better than the regular nail eater!

Sunriseequipment.com

For all the nail biters out there who want to take their compulsion a step further, try the nail eater extreme!

OK, actually this bit is typically used by linemen to eat through existing nails in wood as it drills. But homeowners with tough remodel projects can also count on this bit to chew through multiple layers of material (think aluminum siding on top of wood siding).

The post Butt Marker? Flat Bastard File? 9 Weird Home Tools and What They’re Used For appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

Source: realtor.com