If you’ve got some dings on your credit, it can be tempting to think about hiring someone to clean it up. But is that a good idea?
Experts generally say no. For most of us, the changes a credit repair service offers are fixes we can make ourselves. Pay your bills on time every time. Keep credit card usage low. Stay out of tax trouble. Stay out of small claims court. Honor your rental agreements.
Hiring an unscrupulous company to repair credit might even do more harm than good.
It’s important to remember that it takes some time to repair bad or mediocre credit. There is no quick fix.
One way to keep on top of things is to get a copy of your credit report. As per the Federal Trade Commission, you’re entitled to one free credit report a year from each of the three nationwide credit reporting companies at annualcreditreport.com.
If you see an item that looks incorrect, open a dispute with the credit reporting industry (TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax).
If you do need a quick fix, one area to focus on is the credit utilization ratio, which accounts for about 30 percent of your score. You can pay down balances on revolving debts like credit card balances. Pay off credit accounts, but keep them open. If you close an account, your available credit can go down, lowering your score. It’s a balancing act.
Experian recently added a free service called Experian Boost, which lets you add charges like cell phone bills that aren’t traditionally included in credit scores. If you consistently pay these on time, this could give you a small bump in your credit score. Experian says the service adds an average of 12 points to a user’s credit score.
Finally, you might benefit from credit counseling for the long term. Find a reputable company — the National Foundation for Credit Counseling is a nonprofit that has been around since 1951.
Take care with dog costumes
Maybe your golden retriever would look just like a lion if you put a mane on him for Halloween.
Or maybe he would look like a dog being tortured.
Dressing up your dog for Halloween is a fun idea, and there are lots of costumes available. Just make sure your dog can tolerate it.
Dogs with thin coats that are used to wearing sweaters are probably the best candidates for costumes. Avoid covering their ears and head, if you can help it.
Covering a dog’s natural coat can trigger anxiety. So if your pooch has to go to a Halloween party, rehearse first. Put the costume several times (on different days) before the event. Praise the dog and play with him while he is wearing the costume. Then remove it quickly. During the event itself, plan to make an entrance and then remove the costume after a short time.
If your dog responds to the costume by licking, pawing, or frantic running, do the fella a favor and don’t make him wear a costume.
For dogs that tolerate costumes, make sure the fabric doesn’t interfere with walking and doesn’t trip them. Don’t cover their ears, eyes, mouth or nose.
Be on the lookout for an overheated dog. That costume over the dog’s natural coat could be very hot.
5 ways to prevent Fido from being dognapped
The demand for dogs increased during the pandemic. As a result, dog abductions are also on the rise. Consequently, it’s a good idea to help keep your pet safe by taking the following precautions.
1. Keep them on a leash
Don’t let your dog freely wander in public. Use a strong leash or double tether so your pup can’t break loose and run away.
2. Don’t leave them unattended
Never leave your dog alone in a car or tied up outside a shop. This provides the perfect opportunity for thieves.
3. Lock your gate
If you must leave your dog in your yard unattended, make sure that your yard is fenced and your gate is locked.
4. Spay or neuter them
Some thieves will steal dogs in order to breed them. If your pet is spayed or neutered, it can help deter potential abductors.
5. Beware of strangers
Be suspicious of anyone who’s asking a lot of questions about your dog. Be evasive and never brag about your pet’s breed. It’s also a good idea to avoid posting too much information about your dog on social media.
Unfortunately, even with these measures, your pooch could still get dognapped. Microchips, however, can help reunite lost or stolen pets with their owners. Consider talking to your veterinarian about having your dog microchipped.
3 ways to help kids stay drug free
Red Ribbon Week, which takes place from October 23 to 31, is an annual campaign run by the National Family Partnership (NFP) to educate people across the country about drug prevention. The theme of this year’s event, Drug Free Looks Like Me, is meant to encourage individuals to speak up and make a difference in their communities. Starting at home, here are some ways that parents can help keep their kids drug-free.
1. Have conversations early
Talk to your children about how their vitamins and medications work, how to use them responsibly, and the importance of taking care of their bodies. These types of discussions will set a precedent for discussing drugs as they get older.
2. Be involved in their life
Spend quality time with your kids away from your phone and other screens. By giving them your undivided attention, you’ll strengthen your relationship and make your kids more inclined to come to you with problems.
3. Set a good example
In addition to setting clear rules and expectations for your children, be mindful of what messages you send them with your own behaviors. For example, avoid making it seem like you need a drink or pill to relax.
For more information about how to participate in Red Ribbon Week activities and help keep your kids drug-free, visit redribbon.org.
Spread the word
If you want to encourage others in your community to be drug-free, you can take part in the Red Ribbon Week social media challenge. Take a picture of yourself or your family holding a sign with the 2021 theme on it, and share the image on social media using the hashtags #DrugFreeLooksLikeMe and #RedRibbonWeek.
New investors grow stimulus money in markets
After years of sitting on the sideline, younger investors have stowed stimulus money in the markets, investing in products and services they love and using new financial services.
Many people received stimulus money over the past year-plus. According to a CNBC poll, half of the investors aged 18 to 34 invested stimulus money in stocks, mutual funds, and other assets.
Likewise, Charles Schwab found that 15 percent of all retail investors first jumped into markets in 2020, with a median age of 35. Dubbed “Generation Investors,” many focused on long-term growth rather than short-term profits.
Writing for Forbes, Stephen McBride argues that younger investors want “to own companies changing the world. It all but guarantees disruptors will continue to rip higher over the next few years.”
As for specific stocks, APEX Clearing reports that Apple, Amazon, Tesla, Microsoft, and Facebook are the most popular stocks among millennials.
Cryptocurrency is also finding its way into investment portfolios. The CNBC survey found that 11 percent of investors actively invest in cryptocurrencies. While crypto has a reputation for quick gains and wild swings, 60 percent are investing due to long-term growth prospects. Thirty-six percent of new investors believe Bitcoin will gain value, compared to just 20 percent of other investors.
Despite increased participation, younger folks still lag behind older investors. Gallup found that 39 percent of people aged between 18 and 29 owned stocks in 2021, compared to 62 percent of those aged 50 to 64.
Still, younger investors are already impacting financial services. A Motley Fool survey found that 37 percent of millennial and gen Z investors use Robinhood, which offers commission-free trading.
In response, Ameritrade, Charles Swab, and other traditional brokers have rolled out zero commission trading.
Free and low-fee investing options may encourage stock ownership and help investors keep more of their money in their portfolios.
Transplant daylilies and hostas in October
When you look at your yard or garden this fall, you probably see plants that should be separated or moved. We’re talking about daylilies that are choking each other so they won’t bloom as well next year.
How about that expensive hosta, for example, that has grown so big it no longer fits where it is? If you separate it, you’ll have two plants next year instead of one overgrown specimen. Here’s how to do it.
* Pick a new site and prepare the soil.
* At dawn or dusk, dig some distance around the old plant so you won’t cut the roots, then lift it out of the ground. Cut off its foliage 1 inch above the base.
* To divide it, place it upright on its side and cut with a large knife or a spade. Plant both parts immediately.
* Pat soil around the plant, leaving a ditch around it that creates a saucer to collect water. Water it regularly for two weeks.
4 benefits of spaying or neutering your puppy
Spaying and neutering are safe procedures and have many advantages. Here are four benefits of sterilizing your puppy.
1. It alleviates behavioral problems
Sterilized dogs are calmer, less aggressive, and less likely to get into fights with other animals. They’re also less likely to run away or mark furniture and other household items.
2. It lowers the risk of disease
Spaying and neutering can reduce or eliminate the risk of reproductive problems such as prostate disease and ovarian, uterine, mammary, and testicular cancers.
3. It increases their lifespan
Sterilized dogs live longer and healthier lives than unsterilized dogs.
4. It helps your community
Spaying and neutering reduce the number of strays in your community and helps prevent overpopulation.
The recovery from this surgery tends to be the easiest on young dogs. In general, it should be done between six and 15 months of age, depending on the breed. Talk to your veterinarian to learn more.