What factors affect your credit scores?

TransUnion TransRisk. FICO®. VantageScore®. These are just some of the credit scores creditors may have at their disposal when they’re evaluating your credit. Which one (or ones) they use to help predict what kind of a borrower you’ll be is up to them—and each credit score flavor has its own secret recipe. While you can’t find out exactly how credit score creators craft those 3-digit numbers, you can familiarize yourself with the 5 ingredients most scores have in common.

1. Your payment history

You know how food packaging labels list the ingredients in the order their amounts are found in the food? For many credit scores, payment history is at or near the top of the ingredient list. And for good reason. Whether or not you’ve paid on time is pretty useful when it comes to figuring out whether you’ll be a responsible borrower. Accounts showing late payments or charge-offs, delinquencies, accounts in collection, bankruptcies, tax liens and many other pieces of payment data generally make their way into credit scores in some shape or form.

Nugget of wisdom: Pay your bills on time and pay off delinquent accounts as soon as possible.:

2. Total debt

This is another big ingredient. Credit scores will generally factor in how much you owe across all your accounts. They’ll also look at your utilization rate. Even though it sounds like those hard-to-pronounce food ingredients, it’s neither harmful nor too complicated. Your utilization rate is how much credit you’re using compared to how much is available to you. So if your credit limit is $10,000 and you’re using $1,000, your utilization rate is 10%. Scores will generally get into all sorts of other details about how much you’re borrowing, things like how many accounts you have, how much you owe on installment accounts versus credit card accounts, etc

Nugget of wisdom: Don’t overextend yourself—only take out debt you can comfortably pay off.

3. Credit history length

This credit score ingredient is pretty straightforward: how long have you been using credit? Credit scores typically factor in how far back your first account was opened and the average age of all your accounts.

Nugget of wisdom: Think twice about closing accounts. We’re not saying closing accounts is bad, but just be aware that if you’ve had the account open for a long time and you close it, your credit score may take a dip.

4. Inquiries

When you apply for new credit, the creditor will almost always pull your credit report when evaluating your application. That credit report request to a credit bureau is known as a hard inquiry. Credit scores tend to incorporate how many recent hard inquiries you have on file. The idea is this: if you’ve applied for credit a lot within a short period of time you may be struggling to get credit.

Nugget of wisdom: Be conscious about how often you’ve been applying for new credit. Credit scores will generally take a hit if you apply too often within a short period of time.

5. Variety of accounts

This ingredient usually plays a small role in the crafting of a credit score, but it’s usually in there. Creditors like to know that you can handle paying a variety of different kinds of accounts. So you may get a small boost when you establish a different kind of credit account—installment loans vs. revolving, for example—and start making regular payments on time.

Nugget of wisdom: Don’t go buy a car or take out a mortgage just for your credit score’s sake. But if you’re at that point in your life, you’re financially ready and your credit’s the same in all other respects, branching out may give your credit scores a small positive nudge.

Credit scores are really just different takes on your credit health. So while you can’t control how credit scores are calculated or which ones are used, you can control your borrowing, payment and debt management habits. Because whether it’s what you eat or what your credit score is, healthy ingredients make for a healthier product and a healthier consumer.

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This article was originally published on truecredit.com.

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Keeping It Cool: The Rise Of Modern Temperature Control

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There is a very fine range of temperatures in which humans will feel comfortable. Even a slight variation can result in health issues which are impossible to overcome, with both heat and cold putting your body under a lot of stress. As time has gone by, people have slowly mastered this, with shade and fires being used in the past, and HVAC systems being popular in the modern world. Of course, though, temperature control has gone far further than simply keeping humans comfortable. To give you an idea of where technology like this is used, this post will be exploring some of the key uses for temperature control in the modern world.

First, though, it’s a good idea to have an understanding of how these systems work, as they aren’t too complicated. There are a few main components which can be used to create a basic temperature control system, and most people would be able to piece something like this together for their own home with just a small amount of research. You can find some examples of the pieces you’d need below.

Thermostat: Most homes use a thermostat to keep themselves at the right temperature. These small devices act like automatic switches, turning on and off when specific conditions are met. This will usually be a minimum or maximum temperature. These enables people to control the temperature of their home, while also saving the effort of turning heating on and off whenever they want to make the place more comfortable.

A Heater: Modern heaters have been around for a long time, though there are several methods which are used to achieve higher temperatures. The most common of these will involve some sort of heating element. This will be a piece of metal with very low resistance which electricity is passed through to create heat, and they are very easy to control. Along with this, though, gas burners are also very common, though these are less accurate.

A Cooler: Cooling something down is a lot more complicated than heating it up, as you have to take the heat and put it somewhere else. Liquid-filled radiators are often used for this, with air being pushed through a grid with a very high surface area to lower the temperature of the water inside. Of course, there are other ways to cool things down, with a liquid spray also having a big impact, though this is most commonly found in server applications. 

An Insulated Chamber: There isn’t much point in trying to control the temperature in an outdoor space. Instead, when approaching something like this, engineers will often start with an insulated chamber, whether this is a room, the inside of a fridge, or even a computer. This makes the process of changing the temperature far more effective, while also ensuring that proper measurements can be taken.

Where Is It Used?

Temperature control has many uses, though most people will only be able to think of one or two of them. As time has gone on, the need for this sort of technology has only been increasing, with people across the world looking for ways to take control of their environment. There are some examples of where this tech is used below, giving you the chance to develop an insight into this complex market.

In Homes: Controlling the temperature in your home is crucial if you want to stay healthy. People can’t live in places which are too hot or cold, and this is especially so for the young and old. In some places, heating is used the most, as the weather outside will be very cold. In others, though, people will use air conditioning to cool the air around them, but this is mostly in hotter places.

Fridges & Freezers: People have been using ice to keep food from going off for a very long time. In fact, long before the use of electricity for this task, people would work extremely hard to create spaces which could be kept cool, usually relying on spaces beneath the ground for this. A modern pharmacy fridge is far more complicated than this, giving medical professionals the chance to control temperatures to an incredibly fine degree. This isn’t used for food, though, instead holding samples and treatments.

Servers & Computers: Computer processors produce a lot of heat and can easily destroy themselves if they are left to their own devices. This makes it crucial that they are kept cool, and air is often used for this job. In more complex or powerful systems, though, this can get a lot more complicated. Liquids are often used, flowing in a system similar to what you’d find inside your car. Unlike a car, though, these loops have to be carefully designed, as the machines ability to work will be largely based on their temperature.

Transport: Finally, as the last use of temperature control, it’s time to think about transport. There are a lot of goods which have to be kept hot or cold during transit, and this makes moving them very difficult. To overcome this, some trucks are built like freezers, with think insulating walls, and a compressor which can be used to lower the temperature. Control is crucial for this, as it enables the companies which rely on these machines to keep their products from being wasted.

Temperature control is a lot more important than a lot of people realise. While this field isn’t anything new, there are advancements being made all the time, and this is something which most people know little about. This technology keeps your food in the right conditions, can provide you with great comfort, and, most importantly, could even save your life, making it far more crucial than you might think. Of course, though, the best tools aren’t used in homes, and you have to look further if you want to learn more about this field. Hospitals and food places are a great place to start, though you could also think about the devices you use each day.

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Financial Independence Means Having a Plan for Retirement Income

Originally Posted by Jerry Golden on silvernest.com on Jul 10, 2017 

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Maintaining your financial independence throughout your life is dependent on the plans you make to create retirement income.

When you are working, you have to decide how much to put aside for your retirement savings account. You have to plan for your kids’ education, you plan for owning or renting your primary residence, and to take care of your insurance needs, plus a whole lot of other decisions.When you approach retirement, to maintain your financial independence you need to decide where and when to retire and whether to continue working part-time. Financially, should you collect Social Security payments as soon as you can or wait as long as possible until age 70? Roll-over your 401(k) or other qualified savings? Begin a withdrawal plan, elect to annuitize your savings or a combination?

Late in retirement, your decisions might concentrate on downsizing, simplifying your finances, and reducing financial risk. Unfortunately, maintaining financial independence during this stage may require making smart decisions in the earlier stages.

At each stage, the focus should be on ensuring you have enough dependable, spendable income – for life. (The key is to find income that is guaranteed for the rest of your life.)

Financial independence means having enough income to meet your basic expenses and income you can count on.

Creating financial independence from your savings

  • Your home can be an excellent source of tax-free income. Used in moderation, a reverse mortgage can provide both income early in retirement and liquidity later in retirement.
  • Your rollover IRA acts as a replacement for a traditional pension, which most of us don’t get any more, and you can create some of the same peace of mind by allocating a portion of your IRA savings to purchase income annuities. You can also take a portion of these savings and purchase a QLAC (see below).
  • Your deferred annuities have been compounding at tax-deferred rates of return for a number of years and building a nice nest egg. Like the rollover IRA, you can exchange all or a portion for income annuities to create both secure income as well as spread out any taxes that would be due if you merely withdraw the savings.
  • Your personal savings can be a source of secure income if you have sufficient assets to generate meaningful dividends or interest. If not, take a portion of your conservative fixed investments to purchase an income annuity, which will increase the cash flow from these savings.
  • Your Social Security is an important source of guaranteed income. If you can find income from other sources until you reach age 70, you may be able to delay taking Social Security payments to maximize the payout.

How to create dependable, spendable income

In addition to Social Security or a traditional pension, a product called an income annuity is the only other way to provide guaranteed lifetime income. In return for a one-time payment, an insurance company will send you a monthly check for the rest of your life. The income can start immediately or at a later date, and there are other provisions you can apply, such as continuation of payments to a spouse.

One form of deferred income annuity called a “QLAC” or “Qualifying Longevity Annuity Contract” is purchased with rollover IRA savings. It provides income in the second stage of retirement, when health expenses can be expected to increase. A QLAC starts paying out at an age you choose, usually 80 or 85. And the payouts are substantial. That’s around the age many retirees start to recognize that their savings, which seemed very large 20 years earlier, might not pay all the bills over another 5, 10 or 15 years.

Lifestyle decisions

If you decide upon retirement to move into a smaller house, you might also consider the community and services: Will you require a car? Is there a local bus or train service? Is the library or community center easy to get to?

For peace of mind, the simpler your finances are, the less likely you will need help keeping track of them. You know what to expect if your income is deposited monthly from Social Security and an income annuity. You can also set up automatic bill payments, too. That means you don’t have to rely on a financial advisor and your kids don’t have to worry, either.

When you visit Go2Income, you can research what type of annuity might best suit your needs. It will also let you determine how much income your savings can provide, based on facts, not guesses about the stock market’s future.

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Three Ways To Make Your Life Greener

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We are living in a world that is on the edge of extinction. We have very little of our precious time left to fix the issues that humanity has caused to our beautiful planet. Climate scientists agree that we need to act, as the effects of the years of abuse on the environment will become unrepairable. It is believed that if we change our ways now, we can stem the tide and help to overcome the problems that the world is today facing. 

Governments hold climate summits, and politicians, business leaders, and scientists talk it out. But progress is far slower than it needs to be. With most of the world falling short of its agreed targets to reduce carbon emissions, drastic action is required. 

While governments can legislate, or seek to gradually prevent certain practices that cause the world the worst harm, this change is slow. It takes businesses to get fully behind it and start to put the health of the planet before the health of their profits. It takes us, as individuals, to stop certain behaviors and adopt a much more conscientious approach to dealing with the issues that we are facing right now. 

You may be asking yourself, what can you do? When you are just one person, how can you help to change the world? Well, if you start to adopt new ways of dealing with things, and you can help one other to do the same. Eventually, a more significant proportion of us will be adopting greener lifestyles. Here are a few things that you can do to help to combat the climate crisis. 

Water Conservation

The world is at risk of coming under the grips of a drinking water shortage. It is estimated that by 2025, over a quarter of the world’s population will no longer have access to clean, safe drinking water. 

There is enough water on the planet to cover 70% of its surface. Yet 0.007% of the water on the earth is actually safe to drink. We have a growing population who all need to drink and wash. Then, we use good clean water for farming, giving to animals that are bred for food, washing your cars, filling up swimming pools, flushing toilets, and watering the garden. And in many countries, people act as though our water supplies will last forever. However, in South Africa recently, they discovered that it may not be the case. When it’s water supplies dropped to around 20% of the average capacity, the government was on the verge of permanently switching off the state-owned water supply to Cape Town and the surrounding areas, meaning the people of the country would not have running water. Fortunately, the South African citizens adapted to the changes it needed to make to help to conserve enough water so that they could keep it open. 

Although that crisis was averted, others may not be. But there are things that you can in your life so that you are less wasteful of water. Firstly, have a look at getting slimline water tanks fitted to harvest as much rainwater as possible. This can then be used for all manner of things such as toilet flushing, to watering the garden. You should adopt a more cautious attitude to the amount of water that you are using. Think about showering instead of having a bath. If you do shower, cutting the length of time that you are in there by just a minute or two will help to save a considerable amount of water. 

Stop Burning Fossil Fuels

Many of the world’s largest energy suppliers are still burning fossil fuels to provide us with electricity. This creates a dangerous amount of pollution which the environment cannot handle. With fewer trees on the planet, much of the carbon that gets emitted is not getting processed through photosynthesis.

If your energy company still insists on using coal to fuel its power stations, have a look at what alternative companies there are in your area that can supply fully renewable power for you. With so many wind, solar, and hydroelectric plants out there, there is no reason why you should be getting clean energy in your home. 

There are other things that you can do here too. Make sure and turn everything off when it is not in use. Even leaving things on standby uses up power. Turn off lights if you are not in the room. These things will also help to reduce your electricity bill considerably too. 

Buying appliances that have good energy efficiency ratings will be helpful too. That will mean you will use less power to run them. Similarly, use lower wattage, energy-saving lights throughout your home. 

Driving Ourselves To The Edge

If you are a motorist, there are ways that you can help the environment out considerably. One of the main things that you can do will be to choose environmentally considerate cars. If you are planning on buying a new car at any time soon, have a look at an electric model. If that is not an option for you, there are also hybrid cars. If you must buy a petrol-engined vehicle, get a small one, with a low emissions rating. 

If you can, start sharing rides wherever you go. If you can give somebody a lift in your car that may have otherwise driven to the same place as you, you will be helping to reduce the number of cars on the roads. 

If you can walk somewhere, try and get into the habit of doing so. It may not be as convenient as taking the car. However, it is better for your health and the health of the planet. 

If your employer offers a cycle to work scheme, take them up on it. Using bikes to get around is an excellent way of reducing your own carbon footprint. They may be able to help with the costs involved in buying the bike in the first place. 

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Create An Eco-Friendly Garden With These Tips

Seeking out ways to create an environmentally friendly outdoor space is important, whether you are a beginner or experienced gardener. Remember that in the long term, the choices that you make will have an impact on our planet. In this article, we share some tips on creating your own eco-friendly garden.

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Collect rainwater

We get enough of it, so why not put the rainwater to good use by collecting it in a water tank from somewhere like Team Poly? You can use it to water your garden or wash your vehicles, which not only helps the environment but your water bill as well! If this is not an option, look at reducing the size of your lawn, so there is less grass to water, and avoid using sprinklers, which use an incredible amount of water. 

Build A Natural Compost Heap

Instead of buying ready-made soil from the store, have a go at making a compost heap. It is very simple – you use your food waste and any other organic matter that can decompose. By creating a compost heap, you are adding some much-needed nutrients to the soil and prevent even more wasted produce from entering our landfills. Organic material that you can put on your heap include vegetables, fruit, coffee grounds, eggshells, dead leaves, lawn cuttings, and shredded paper. However, meat and dairy products should not be added and nor should cooked food as these can attract vermin into your garden. You also need to add water (from your water tank!) to keep it moist and aerate it by turning it over with a pitchfork regularly. 

Use Solar Power

Many of us like to have water features and lights in our garden, but of course, these use quite a lot of energy. If you choose to have them, think about using solar power to power them. They use energy from the sun rather than your electricity supply, which not only makes them more sustainable but saves you money as well.

Add Native Species of Plants and Flowers

Exotic plants and flowers look great in your garden, but they can often consume a lot more water, fertilizer and need more in terms of maintenance and upkeep to keep them healthy. However, if you choose species that are native to your area, you will find that they thrive. This is because they have naturally adapted to the climate and the surrounding environment.

Plant Trees 

One of the best ways to help the environment is to plant more trees in your garden. They will help to improve the air quality by releasing more oxygen, and will also provide a habitat for wildlife. Plus, they can make your garden appear more attractive and inviting and provide some much welcome shade.

Use natural products to kill weeds effectively.

If your garden is rife with weeds, it can be tempting to pick up a bottle of store-bought weed killer, but this can harm the soil. However, there are plenty of natural products out there, which will do the same job effectively and safely. For instance, acetic acid at concentrate can kill 20% of weeds. Clove oil can also effectively burn weeds, while corn gluten can stop weeds from emerging in your garden.

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Say Goodbye To Your Everlasting Backache!

There are many pain related moans and groans that people like to have. If anything, we’d say that one of the hot topics as you start to get older is how much you ache and how horrible you feel. Anyone would think that we’re 80 years old with the types of ache and pains that we have. And if we were to pick a most common complaint, it would definitely be back ache. Back ache can seriously be crippling, and it can happen for so many different reasons. It could have been a childhood sports injury that’s not finally showing its true colours, or it could even be weight related, which is one that a lot of people forget about or don’t associate with back ache. But one thing we do know, is that backache can simply be life changing, especially as we start to get a little older. It can stop us doing some of the things that we seriously know and love, and it can even lead to depression!

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Small Causes That Are Easily Solved

Backache is something that we usually just get on with, simply because we accept our fate and believe that’s how we should live our lives. But there are some small causes that you could easily address, and then your back ache would just melt away. So the first is your posture. Your posture is going to have changed now you’re in the working world, and one of the ways it changes is because the majority of us are slumped over a desk at work. So this might sound a bit extreme, but there are back braces that you can buy off Amazon that pull your shoulders back, and straighten out that spine. Definitely something worth considering, especially if you look in the mirror and you can see that years behind a desk have created a little slump!

Serious Issues That Need Addressing

Some back problems go a little bit further than slumping over in the chair. Some of you will be suffering with the pain that you are due to serious issues, you’ve just been putting it down to poor posture, or the fact that everyone else seems to have backache too! So if you know it’s not your posture, and you know that the pain is getting more severe as time goes on, then a spinal specialist is who you need to see. Even if you have a consultation and they say it’s nothing serious, they’ll be able to give you the best recommendations that will give you the best outcome!

Simple Daily Changes!

One daily change that you can make, is starting the day with a good stretch. We’re actually meant to stretch daily, but do we? No. Stretching allows those muscles and joints to open up, not just in your back, but all over your body. The more flexible you are, the less stiff you’re going to be, and the less pain you’re going to feel! There are plenty of stretching routines specifically for the back that you can try!

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Become A Plant Cultivator In Your Own Garden

There are many fantastic reasons why you might want to get into cultivating plants in your own garden. If you approach it in the right way, it can be an exercise in environmental aid, as growing certain native plants in your own home can help the local ecosystem to thrive. For some plants, there may be a range of uses which you might want to get out of them, whether medicinal or otherwise: even a bed of sunflowers might be cultivated for their edible seeds, as well as their flowers, which may be crushed and used in making homemade soap. Whatever your reason, it’s an exciting hobby to delve into – but one which will take a fair amount of preparation, especially if you want to see great success some time soon.

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The Value Of Good Soil

Whatever it is that you are growing, you are almost certainly going to need good quality soil to grow it in. This is not a blanket rule, of course: water lilies will need either a pond or wet sand, and cacti can grow in rocky material. But for the majority of plants, you are likely to want to grow, good soil will be necessary. The best (and most rewarding) way to get your hands on good quality soil is to cultivate it yourself, a process which is probably easier than you think and yet still has the potential to be back-breaking. Over-cultivation is a real issue, and relatively easy to stumble into, so make sure that you don’t overdo it. With a simple compost and some physical labour digging it into the ground, you can have good soil in no time. You’ll know it’s ready when it’s crumbly, sweet-smelling and a rich colour.

Expert Equipment For Expert Cultivation

In the case of most plants that you will be seeking to cultivate, you are doing so in order to harvest something that you might get some use out of. Whatever it is, you will need to make sure that you are going to be able to do that, preferably by working to find the best possible tools and equipment out there. Relying on reliable and trusted sources like trimleaf can be an excellent way to do this, and you will find that having those decent tools in your hands will help you to feel more engaged with the art of cultivation as well. A bad workman blames his tools, but a good workman can often draw a line between their success and the quality of their tools.

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The Time To Harvest

The harvest, of course, is what it’s all about. Arguably the most crucial part of harvesting is making sure that you are doing so at the right time, which can be much more of a challenge than you might have assumed. You will need to carry out the relevant research for each plant that you have, but you also have to keep your wits about you, as this is the kind of thing where real-life observation is very often more relevant than the information you find in books and online. In time, you will come to appreciate the signs of harvest time, which will yield greater results in your garden, whatever you are growing.

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