Don’t Wait Until 2015! Do The Following Before The End of 2014

This article originally appeared in the December 2014 issue of VantageScore Solutions’ monthly newsletter, The Score. Subscribe here.

Guest post by John Ulzheimer, Nationally Recognized Credit Expert

John Ulzheimer

New Years resolutions are great, but before you start focusing on them, take a look at this list of personal-credit resolutions to fulfill before New Years.

Claim your free credit reports. For over a decade, everyone in this country has had the right to claim his or her credit reports once every twelve months, for free, from each of the three major credit-reporting companies (CRCs) – Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. Nevertheless, many free credit reports go unclaimed every year. Don’t let yours for 2014 go unclaimed!

Depending on where you live you may be entitled to additional free credit reports because of your state’s law. You can claim your Federally-guaranteed reports at and state-guaranteed reports at each national credit reporting company’s website:,, and Remember, the CRCs have no obligation to proactively send you credit reports.  You have to actually ask for them.

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10 Steps to Better Retirement Planning for the New Year


Rich RRich Rausserausser is a Certified Pension Consultant (CPC), a Qualified Pension Administrator (QPA), a Qualified 401(k) Administrator (QKA), and a member of the American Society of Pension Professionals and Actuaries (ASPPA). He holds an M.B.A. in Finance from Fairleigh Dickinson University and a B.A. in Economics and Business Administration from Ursinus College. 

Pentegra Retirement Services is the NAFCU Services Preferred Partner for Qualified Retirement Plans for Credit Union Employees.

The start of every New Year brings the promise of new beginnings; a time to think about setting goals and resolving to do new things, particularly when it comes to finances.

It is important to take a few minutes this month to think about the state of your retirement portfolio and to commit to an annual self-assessment.  This should be more than ‘I will spend less’ in 2015. One of your resolutions should be to find better ways to manage your finances and invest your money.

I encourage everyone to jump-start their efforts with this checklist:

1. Increase Plan Contributions:  Are you contributing as much as you can afford to your retirement plan? The more money you put into your plan now, the bigger your potential retirement nest egg. Adding as little as five or ten extra dollars per paycheck could make a big difference over the long term.

2. Make Catch-up Contributions: Your plan may allow you to make “catch-up” contributions over and above the regular contribution limit if you are age 50 or older. If possible, take advantage of the opportunity to give your retirement savings a boost.

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“I Always Pay My Bills on Time! Why Don’t I Have a Perfect Credit Score?”

This article originally appeared in the September 2014 issue of VantageScore Solutions’ monthly newsletter, The Score. Subscribe here.

By John Ulzheimer, Nationally Recognized Credit Expert

It’s a question that comes up often in credit-scoring discussions with consumers – including some consumers who are also financial-industry pros. “I’ve never missed a payment in my life, so I have perfect credit and I should have a perfect credit score, right?”

The question seems logical enough. If you have a perfect track record of making payments on time, it seems safe to assume you’ll have a perfect credit score. What’s critical to understand, however, is that credit scoring models consider more than just your payment history when calculating your credit scores. They consider a wide range of data elements from your credit reports, all of which have proven over time to be reliable predictors of credit risk. Along with your payment history, factors such as your total debt, the age of your credit files, your credit-shopping practices, and your depth of credit all contribute to your credit scores.

When you look solely at the payment history metrics from your credit report, it’s likely that they’re only responsible for around 30 to 40 percent of the points in your credit score.  That means how you pay your bills is important, but not as important as performing well across all scoring categories. In fact, it’s entirely possible to have never missed a payment in your life and still have below average credit scores.

The formula for earning and maintaining a solid credit score is actually quite simple.

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