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How to avoid financial pitfalls and make your money work for you

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(PIX11) - Here are some important things to keep in mind so that you don't lose the money you work so hard to make, and take full advantage of the money that you have.

1) Net Worth:

It provides a clear, simple picture of your financial state. It is therefore key to tracking your financial progress. Once you know it, you can identify potential problems and work on areas where there’s room for improvement.

Your net worth is all your assets (including all your accounts that have money in them, plus things like your house, collectibles, your car, etc.) minus the total of all your debts (including house payments, car payments, loans, etc.)

2) Credit Report:

Fewer than one in five of us check this #! you can get a copy of your credit report, for free, once a year, on www.annualcreditreport.comOnce you have it, look it over carefully for errors. Are there accounts on there that aren’t yours? Does it show you’ve been delinquent but you haven’t been?

mistakes can and do happen, and if a mistake is serious, it can lower your credit score.

3.) Difference between credit report and credit score:

Your credit report contains info detailing your credit history.  Your credit score is numbered (300 to 850) based on what’s contained in your credit report, it represents your credit risk.

This number is looked at by everyone from lenders to landlords and even a growing percentage of employers, but how about you?  Some 60% of adults have not reviewed their credit score within the previous year.

A high score (mid 700s) could save you thousands of dollars.  Have a low score (below 620) and you may not be able to obtain financing except when offered at a higher rate and with less favorable terms on your loans.  Furthermore, you might not even be able to rent an apartment, get a cell phone or even land a job.  You can get your score for free from any number of providers these days.  If it’s low, work on improving it.  How? Pay your bills on time, pay off your debts, don’t apply for and open new accounts too freely, and avoid avoiding charging too much on your credit cards.  Ideally, don’t use more than 10% of your available credit.

3) Mortgage Rates:

Some 35% of Americans don’t know their mortgage rate

A surprising number of homeowners who could benefit from a refinancing still haven’t taken advantage of the cost savings. Some borrowers haven’t done a refinance because they don’t know what their rate is (35%, according to bank rate) and given how far mortgage rates have fallen, you could be leaving tens of thousands of dollars on the table.  Run the numbers on a site like Zillow.com to see how much you could be saving.