Monday, April 11, 2005

Five Tips To Help Women Better Manage Their Credit

Feature Article from the April TruCredit Newsletter

April is Financial Literacy Month and a great time to highlight the topic of women and money. (Men, don't tune out: this information is helpful for anyone with a wife, mother or daughter)

In nearly 70 percent of American households, women are responsible for managing the money and paying the bills. Women are becoming increasingly savvy about how they manage their finances and their credit, but there are still some financial matters where many women have room to improve. In honor of Financial Literacy Month, TrueCredit presents five tips specifically for our charming women readers.

Save for retirement - We all know that women tend to live longer than men (about 7 years longer) and that we earn 25 percent less than men on average. But did you know that over 75 percent of all women are eventually widowed at an average age of 56? And almost 25 percent of women are broke just two months after her husband's death? Yikes. It's time to take charge of our savings! Start putting away money now for retirement by investing in a 401(k) or IRA. Not only do these funds help you save for the future, but they can also help save money on your taxes now.

Manage your credit wisely - Women hold more credit cards than men - three vs. two and a half according to one report. With the average American carrying of more than $8,400 in credit card balances, women need to be smart about keeping their debt and their credit in check. Review your credit reports and scores regularly to see where you stand.

Get what you ask for - According to one study, women will pay as much as $1,353 more to avoid negotiating the price of a car. Negotiating deals can be intimidating but it can save women a lot of money each year. Don't be afraid to shop around for loans or call your creditors to ask for better rates. You may want to compare rate estimates instead of applying for multiple offers in order to limit the number of potentially damaging hard inquiries that will be placed on your credit report.

Be independent - Sharing is a good thing but sometimes it benefits to have control over your own money. Along with having your own retirement funds, consider keeping a personal savings account for emergencies. The general rule of thumb is that you should have enough money saved to cover all your expenses for at least two months.

Guard against identity theft - Identity theft is becoming increasingly personal. A recent study found that 32 percent of identity theft victims found a family member or relative was responsible and 18 percent had been victimized by a friend, neighbor or in-home employee.

Women should guard against identity theft by being cautious about where they share personal data and checking their credit report regularly for signs of theft.

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