The Best Way to Use Your Tax Refund this Year!

Wondering where your tax refund will do the most good this year?

If your credit is less than perfect, tax time is the best time to get back on track with your credit score! Not only do you have the funds from your tax refund to work with, but you can use those funds to start building up a good payment history and still buy that new television, take that vacation, or whatever else you thought about using that money for!

How can you use your tax refund to improve your credit score and still have funds to do something else?

It’s actually pretty simple, but it’s a very SMART way to use your refund! Instead of spending the cash on something, take your lump sum refund dollars and use them to open a secured credit card, like the The First Progress Platinum Elite MasterCard® Secured Credit Card . All you have to do is open the account, use your refund to make the security deposit you select, and then use the credit card to buy that new TV, take the vacation, etc.! In turn, as you make payments on the credit card, The First Progress Platinum Elite MasterCard® Secured Credit Card will report your good payment history to all three credit bureaus every month… Give it a few months and watch your credit score start to improve! It really is that easy – so why not take the first step to improving your credit score today?

Time Is Your Ally: Invest Early

When Aaron Lentner received his Navy sign-on bonus, he and wife Amy used it to start investing.

The couple opened a USAA investment account and pay monthly into mutual funds. The Lentners make it easy by using direct deposit. “It’s easier than remembering to send a check,” Amy says.

Keep these objectives in mind as you plan to invest, but remember automatic investment plans do not assure a profit or protect against loss in declining markets.
  • Have goals. You don’t need a specific retirement vision in your 20s, but set goals. Are you saving for a house, for example, or planning for a secure future?
  • Think long term. With a bank account, you want your money to be available immediately if you need it for an emergency or to buy something. But you buy investments expecting them to grow in value over time; so, use money you won’t need right away. The earlier you start, the more value your investments could build over time.
  • Invest consistently. A tax refund or holiday cash can get you started, but consider investing a certain amount each month. USAA offers 14mutual funds that only require a $50 initial investment and $50 monthly investments.
  • Get professional advice. Talk to a financial professional to help pick investments that fit your goals. Funds, stocks and bonds all serve different objectives. USAA financial advisors, available free to members, can help answer questions.

Investing in securities products involves risk, including possible loss of principal.


‎01-16-2017 07:00 AM

Content provided courtesy of USAA.


Pay Off Those Credit Cards

January is one of the most financially depressing months of the year for nearly all of us… I mean, let’s face it.  The holidays are now long gone, it’s not quite time to file those income tax returns (but you’re faithfully gathering those documents), and literally all of those credit card bills from Christmas are rolling in!

 Who doesn’t dread opening those monthly credit card statements?

As you go through those monthly bills, you begin to realize that you’ve not only overspent on Christmas, but you’re going to have to pay an incredibly high amount of interest in order to get them paid off.  And you realize just how much that interest is going to take out of your monthly budget, not to mention how long you’ll be paying it!

With a personal loan, there’s a better way.

If your credit card debt has overtaken your financial life, ruined your monthly budget, and left you strapped for cash, then it’s time to make some changes in your spending habits, and simplify your financial life.  Instead of paying minimum monthly payments for literally years and years, why not pay off all those credit cards and have just one simple monthly payment?

A personal loan just might be the best financial decision you’ll make this year!

Think about it… with a personal loan, you can pay off those high interest credit card bills, potentially saving hundreds or even thousands of dollars in interest, and give yourself a little financial “breathing room” each month.  And it’s as easy as filling out an online application.

Resolve to Be Financially Ready for 2017

A new year brings new resolutions. In fact, 45% of Americans typically make New Year’s resolutions, according to a Statistic Brain survey, and 34% of those resolutions are related to money.

Resolutions can sometimes be difficult to keep, but a few simple principles can help you stay on task. The USAA Financial Rediness Score FRS tool incorporates our core advice principles and helps you see where you stand today. It also suggests steps you can take to improve financially and stay on course if challenges arise.

Let’s discuss those principles:

Spend less than you earn. This sounds simple, yet it has become more challenging. Everywhere we turn, we’re bombarded with advertisements, credit offers, solicitations for money — and the list goes on. FRS helps assess whether you manage your spending and credit in a healthy manner and points you to additional resources for help.

Protect your life, loved ones and possessions. We are a financial services company that offers insurance, but that’s not why this principle is important. Imagine you’re in an at-fault automobile accident and have insufficient coverage, putting your finances in jeopardy.

Or what if you depend on a loved one for income and he or she dies, leaving you to struggle both emotionally and financially? FRS will assess your current coverage and guide you to find out how much insurance you may need.

Save enough for emergencies. Unfortunately, no one is immune to life’s many curveballs. You can either be prepared or put your financial goals at risk. FRS will assess whether you have an adequate emergency fund and help you create a plan to achieve this goal if you haven’t already.

Save now for retirement. Young, old or somewhere in between, retirement planning is important. The sooner you get started, the better off you may be. FRS will assess your retirement needs and help you dive deeper into retirement planning.

Have a will and other legal documents.

Whether single or married, with or without kids, everyone should have some basic legal documents in place. Wills are not just for the wealthy.

Have a plan, review it annually and update with major events.

Getting from point A to point B is much easier with a map. Having a plan for your financial goals is no different. This can be as simple as a starting with a budget, but everyone should know what they need to do financially and the steps needed to get there.

I encourage all of you to stick with your money-related New Year’s resolutions in 2017 and beyond. If you haven’t already, use the FRS tool for your own assessment. I’ve got a few money-related resolutions of my own, and FRS has given me a road map to help.


‎01-09-2017 07:10 AM

Content provided courtesy of USAA.

By Mikel Van Cleve, CFP®

The Best Way to Raise Your Credit Score

Credit less than perfect?  Looking for the best way to raise your credit score?

If your credit is less than perfect, it can be really hard to get the credit that you need…and without credit, it can be really hard to actually get credit or to improve your credit score.

Several years ago, my credit was a long, long way from being perfect.  And I remember going to department stores, and having them ask me if I wanted to save 10% by signing up for one of their credit cards… I always told them that I preferred to limit the number of credit cards I carried, or I just mumbled “No thanks,” because I knew there was no way that I would ever be approved even for that store credit card.  If you’re in the same place with your credit score, it can seem like you’ll never get out of the credit “hole” that you’re in…there is a way out.  And it’s not nearly as hard as you think it is.

The first thing that you need to do is to find out what your credit score is.  That’s right.  Force yourself to look at your credit score and your credit report.  You can’t fix it if you don’t know what’s wrong.  Late payments?  Inaccurate information?  Maybe you simply don’t have the right blend of available credit?  Whatever the reason that your credit score is low, there are ways to fix what’s wrong and raise your credit score!

Now, assuming that you’ve studied your credit report, reported any inaccuracies, etc., and you’re now ready to start raising that credit score… let’s look at the best way to raise your credit score if you don’t have enough available credit OR if you need a real “fresh start” with a creditor that specializes in giving second chances to those of us with less than perfect credit.

That’s right… Fingerhut specializes in giving second chances to those of us with less than perfect credit.  In fact, Fingerhut probably approves more people for credit than anyone, and they can even help you to raise your credit score, too.

How does Fingerhut help you to improve your credit score?

Speaking from experience, opening a Fingerhut account not only gives you that “buying power” that you need, but they report your good payment history to the credit bureaus regularly, helping you to build a good payment history.  This benefits you two ways – one, you have available credit, and two, you build a solid payment history with each and every payment you make.  That makes Fingerhut one of the best ways to improve a less than perfect credit score that there is.

Think that you might benefit from a Fingerhut account?

The Best Way to Pay Off Credit Card Debt

Now that the holidays are officially over, many of us are beginning to see those huge credit card bills roll into our mailboxes, and we’re starting to wonder how we’ll ever get them all paid off… Are you drowning in credit card debt, too?  Maybe you overspent during the holidays or you’ve had some unexpected expenses?  Or maybe you’re like a lot of us and you’re tired of spending tens or hundreds of dollars every month paying only the minimum payments on your credit card bills only to see the balance decrease by as little as two or three dollars a month!  Sound familiar?

You know, there is a way to payoff your credit card debt and get your finances back on track without ruining your credit score!

With a personal loan, you can pay off ALL your credit cards AND keep your good credit score!  That’s right, you combine all of your credit card bills into one lower interest loan with one monthly payment, so you’ll save money both on the interest that you’re currently paying the credit card companies and on the amount of money that you pay out each month!

And today’s personal loan companies are easy to work with, easy to understand, and with all of the learning tools on their websites, you might just find that your finances get back on track much faster than if you just borrowed the money and paid on your personal loan!   That’s right, you can learn how to save for your first house, how to financially survive a divorce, and even how to make a little extra money every month on the internet.  Interested?