Customer Reviews: Your Credit Score, Your Money & What's at Stake (Updated Edition): How to Improve the 3-Digit Number that Shapes Your Financial Future
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on June 12, 2009
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
The book begins by establishing the importance of a good credit score. While the example that demonstrates this is obviously fictional, it is still a sobering reminder that the cost of credit is something that we usually do not consider when making a purchase.

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I think of myself as a fairly informed consumer, and yet, I learned some new things from this book.

Some key nuggets:

# a payment normally has to be at least 30 days overdue before a creditor reports it to the bureaus, so you can probably stop worrying about that utility bill that you forgot to mail in until a week after it was due.

# Not all debt is equal. You should pay down debt on cards that are closer to the maximum credit limit on that card. In particular, your balance should not exceed 10-30% of your total credit limit.

# Lenders usually report your balance on the closing date for an account to the credit rating agencies. So even if you pay off your credit cards every month, the balance on your card on that reporting day is what affects your credit score. You should try to pay off your balance a few days before the closing date to ensure that you have more head room between your balance and your max credit limit.

# Don't close your oldest credit accounts. This is because the age of your oldest account and the average age of all your accounts affects your final score.

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On a very subjective level, I found the general level of advice in the book to be fairly ordinary. For example, while its hard to argue with advice like: Don't raid your retirement accounts, Keep a rainy day fund, Buy only as much house as you need, and Pay off your credit card balances; its still hard to think of this as anything but common wisdom.

However, what I considered off-topic digression for a book titled "Your Credit Score", may just as easily be seen by others as providing a holistic perspective on credit.

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The "must read" chapters of this book are chps. 4 and 5 - both of which give you invaluable tips on how to tune up your credit score. This is where the heart of this book can be found.

Happy Reading!
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VINE VOICEon May 30, 2009
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This updated edition (there's an updated Introduction, several references to the current credit and banking crisis, and an explanation of FICO 08, the new version of FICO) of YOUR CREDIT SCORE, YOUR MONEY & WHAT'S AT STAKE turned out to be a lot more valuable to me than I thought. I had a good idea of what went into making one's FICO credit score, but this book debunked a few important myths I believed. As Liz Pulliam Weston explains in the first chapter, "Why Your Credit Score Matters," even a little ignorance about how to make your score higher can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars in higher interest payments over the course of a lifetime.

For example, paying your credit card balances in full each month, while a money-saving good idea, has no bearing on your score. What matters is how close your balance is to your credit limit, regardless of whether you pay it in full or not. The biggest myth? That closing accounts will help raise your score. According to Weston, closing accounts will never raise your score and can frequently lower it. There are several other tidbits where those came from!

At the time of this review, the "Search Inside this Book" function is unavailable, so I think it might be helpful to include the chapter listings:

1 - Why Your Credit Score Matters
2 - How Credit Scoring Works
3 - VantageScore - A Revolution or Just More of the Same?
4 - Improving Your Score - The Right Way
5 - Credit-Scoring Myths
6 - Coping with a Credit Crisis
7 - Rebuilding Your Score After a Credit Disaster
8 - Identify Theft and Your Credit
9 - Emergency! Fixing Your Credit Score Fast
10 - Insurance and Your Credit Score
11 - Keeping Your Score Healthy

While not all of the chapters were useful to my situation, and a lot of the information was known to me, I learned something useful in almost every one. I found the chapter about Insurance (how and why insurers base rates on your credit score) to be especially educational.

I got a LOT of use out of this book. It is clearly written and a quick read. It's hard to overestimate how important a person's credit score is to his or her financial life. Highly recommended.
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VINE VOICEon June 11, 2009
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This book was a good collection of a lot of information regarding what a credit score is and how to make your score better.

The problem is though that a lot of people that have bad credit and trying to improve it, I feel, already have a pretty good grasp of these things. You have to pay your bills on time, the more credit you have the better, etc., etc.

For anyone that doesn't understand the basics about credit and credit scores or anyone that wants to fill in gaps about their knowledge about the subject, this is a great book that will totally provide you with tons of information about it.

The book missed a star due to what I was alluding to earlier. What I want to know about credit is how to fix it fast and holes in the law that can make fixing my credit faster. For that I recommend the following book:
BEST CREDIT; How to Win the Credit Game, Revised and Updated Edition

I think the two books are great together. One is comprehensive in describing credit and the other is sort of a guide to "beat" the credit "game." There is definitely overlap, but I also think they are complementary.
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VINE VOICEon August 7, 2009
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I really wasn't sure what to expect from a book on the not-so-fascinating, but all-important credit score, I've really got to admit that You're Credit Score, by Liz Pulliam Weston has provided me with new information that will be very useful to me. In addition to explaining, in layman's terms, what credit scores are, as well as some of the mystery behind how they are derived, she also examines legitimate ways in which to enhance your existing scores and potential problems that need to be dealt with.

The one item that I noticed lacking from this book is how to deal with corrupt government agencies that fraudulently report innocent people as "being in arrears" on child support and the refusal of the credit bureaus to correct that false information. One such case in which the California Health and Human Services Agency, Greta Wallace (former Director of the California Department of Child Support Services) Los Angeles County Child Support Services Department, and Experian were successfully sued for illegally harming one of their innocent victims is well documented by the Federal Courts in Frank Mayer v. California Health and Human Services Agency. et al, (CASE #: 2:05-cv-04747-JFW-SS). This also raises another issue concerning Weston's choice of examples in which she uses a hypothetical case of a man who may, or may NOT, have been cheating on his wife and the processes by which deciding the truth is similar to how credit scores are calculated. To be honest, I found that example to be rather offensive as so many innocent men are subject to harm by fraudulent reports on the credit reports. Sadly, the Mayer case is not an isolated one: it's merely the first to have been successfully argued in Federal Courts about how credit ratings are used to damage innocent people.

Overall, I would recommend this book as a good source of information - I hope that any future editions might use better examples.
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on May 24, 2011
Easy to read filled with sound advice. Some information I already knew, and sadly just from experience over the years. As a victim of identity theft and also having suffered through a divorce resulting in financial devastation, I can attest the advice given in this book is accurate and comprehensive. If you follow the advice the results will follow. I learned many things from the book that I can immediately apply to my own life. One of the best pieces of advice was to write down every expenditure to see where the cash is spent. It's impossible to budget or forecast any financial decisions unless there is clear understanding of the current financial snapshot with objective data.
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VINE VOICEon March 23, 2011
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
If you don't know much about what goes into forming your credit score and what you can do to improve it, this book gives you a 360 view of what will likely be the most important number in your life. It touches on how credit scores are calculated, including recent updates to the scoring model, as well as giving you a picture of what the best and worst things you can do to affect your score are. Overall, for the novice reader, this book would be useful, but as someone who was getting serious about starting my own business and possibly buying a new home, it didn't offer me any additional insights that I couldn't find from numerous credit forums and discussions online. I don't know what I was expecting, possibly more first-person recounts and personalized information, but this left me wanting more. Overall, it's a good book to have in your arsenal if you have nothing about credit scoring and how it affects you, but if not, a Google search will serve you just as well.
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on March 4, 2012
Great book. Learned a ton about how credit scores work, and ways to improve one's credit score. As someone who is trying to get my score higher, this book is highly-recommended. Also good for anyone rebuilding credit or working on building credit for any reason.
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Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I thought I knew a good deal about credit and what makes up my credit score, but with the recent downturn in the credit market and some of the games the credit card companies have been playing with my credit lately, I thought it would be a good idea to read this book. I'm glad I did.

Out of respect for the authors and the publishing company, I won't rehash any of the information here. But this book has a lot more very helpful information than just info about how credit scores are calculated. This book has some great information about the different types of bankruptcy, the best ways and places to borrow money from, tips on credit counseling and debt management, and the best ways to repair your credit if you need to.

It's a great book for everyone, especially during these difficult financial times!
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Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Every week, it seems, a new wrinkle in the country's economic condition comes to light. Local governments, banks and industry are facing shortfalls, and the effects of their reactions are having a deeper impact than ever on individuals' financial situations.

The current situation reminds me of some odd cross between rush-hour gridlock and the scene at a major airport hub when the next-to-the-last flight of the day is on indeterminate delay because of a mechanical.

In all three situations, we as individuals probably contributed little if anything to the problem. Choosing and implementing the major resolutions likewise is out of our hands. However, that doesn't mean we can't get off the clogged artery onto a smoother feeder street, hit the speed dial on a cellphone to get protected on an alternate flight, or manage our financial history and future choices in a way that gives us the best array of choices on anything from loans to insurance coverage.

In her newly updated "Your Credit Score" Your Credit Score, Your Money & What's at Stake (Updated Edition): How to Improve the 3-Digit Number that Shapes Your Financial Future, Liz Pulliam Weston starts with the home truths of credit and financial management. She presents information clearly but not preachily, in a manner that is useful to high schoolers who are evaluating college financial-aid offers and young adults looking to build or rehabilitate a credit history.

However, this is not just a beginner's book. With the recent rockiness of the credit market, many Americans who've got healthy, long-term credit histories are receiving unwelcome word from lenders about rate hikes, fee changes and decreases in credit lines. Others are coping with having been laid off or preparing for possible downsizing at work. Weston provides specific steps to use in evaluating how to deal with a personal credit crisis. Sections of the book dealing with identity theft and improving your credit score are clear roadmaps helping you get to the place you want to be with the fewest detours, slowdowns and roadblocks.

One of the best elements of this book, in my opinion, is that Weston works strictly with facts -- and presents them clearly and in way so that readers can take action. For example, she devotes one chapter to debunking 10 credit-scoring myths; heeding her advice here and throughout the book could easily save you a painful occurrence. Fully aware that knowledge is power, she starts readers off with a nine-page contents section suited for quick reference as well as for margin scribbling or sticky-noting.

She's researched the secretive and lucrative world of the credit-reporting firms and provides specific explanations of how data is gathered and evaluated. Her data and analysis of credit scoring and Fair Isaac's FICO 08 overhaul are particularly valuable. Throughout, she provides suggested tactics individuals can use to make choices that are in their own best interest. She explains how to verify whether the information in the credit marketplace about you is correct; how and whether to fix it if it's not; and how to evaluate choices that you face moving forward.

Since I believe she deserves every penny of the price of this book, the only specific tip of hers I'll mention is that the more recent an event (whether good or bad), the greater its impact. That said, now's the time to make the most informed decisions you can. The cost of this book and the time you spend implementing the parts that best apply to your situation will pay back your investment many times over.
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VINE VOICEon June 1, 2009
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
As self-help, "Improving your credit" books go, this one offers a lot of good advice, covers a lot of ground, and does not bog you down with a lot of complicated financial jargon. It was easy to follow and read.

There was one very good section regarding "Credit Score Myths" that everyone should read, because I think so much of the problems that people have with their credit is due to the spreading of these "myths," even by so-called financial consultants. This section alone may be worth the price of the book if it were expanded a bit.

My only complaint would be that apart from the section on "credit score myths," this book covers exactly the same ground as countless other books have in the past. There's no "new" information here, and much of what is here is common sense. Much of the advice given is advice you should have BEFORE your get into any financial trouble.

So, if I can give out one really good piece of advice, it would be to read this book before you have any problems with your credit score, follow its advice to the letter, and you should do ok credit score-wise.
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