Credit Score: Is it Time to Check Yours?

Have you been weighing up your options for taking out credit? Or have you perhaps been baffled by why you have been turned down for a loan or card?

Whatever the case, it is always great to be more knowledgeable about lending and how you score with credit companies. We have created an article that is aimed at helping you to learn more.

What are the most common forms of consumer credit?

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Credit is a luxury for many. It is a means of affording what we otherwise couldn’t. It allows us to be able to purchase products by getting an advance on the cash needed in order to pay for them.

One of the most common forms of consumer credit is a credit card. You can use the cards in order to buy the things you need — then, later on, you pay the company that issued you the card. This is a great way of being able to purchase items you would otherwise never be able consider buying.

This is a means of purchasing items can also have an adverse effect, as you could  end up going out of your limits with borrowing, so it is an area that needs great responsibility.

Non-Installment Credit

This is a way of getting credit that is either secured, or unsecured. It depends on the company that provides you with the credit to begin with. It does not come with a set figure for the monthly repayments, and instead is due in one lump sum, for the full amount that was borrowed. When this type of credit is issued, it is usually done so in a short timeframe, usually, say in the space of one month.

Installment closed-end credit

This is a form of credit that allows consumers to buy multiple items, or one particular item. Car loans are closed-end credit, as they do not go beyond the price of the car. Also, the borrower can pay back the credit in installments over a period of time instead of paying it back in one lump sum.

Revolving open-end credit

Consumers usually find this kind of credit via credit cards. Consumers have a certain amount of credit available at their leisure, and a set amount has to be paid off each month. This credit never closes, unless the company shuts down the account, hence the credit is ‘revolving.’

What does my credit score mean?

Your credit score is a figure  calculated via how likely you are to be offered loans to companies. It is the figure a lender will assess when asking for a loan.

So how is this calculated? It looks at your payment history, the amount you owe, and the length of time it took you to pay off previous loans. It can affect a lot of things, like how much interest you must pay to the lender.

It can be the difference between getting a loan — or even being rejected for a loan.

Basics of credit scores

Your credit score helps lenders assess the risk that you pose to them if you borrow cash. Many different credit scores are on offer — one popular one is Vantage Score, which was developed by three popular credit lenders, Experian, Equifax and Transunion.

Another is FICO, which ranges between 300 and 850. Vantage Score credit reports have a range of between 501 to 990. The higher you score, the better chance you have of getting a loan. A high score means that you are low risk to the lender.

An ‘Excellent’ score: 720-850

If you are lucky enough to have a credit score in this range, you are considered very responsible when managing repayments.

You’ve had no late payments, and all of your balances on credit products are low as well. As a result, you could be offered lower interest rates! This is what you need to aim for.

‘Good’ credit score – 690 to 720

If you have a ‘Good’ credit score, credit companies will deem you responsible with your cash and repayments. Your balances will be low, and you are a good candidate to get a loan.

‘Problem’ credit score – 650 to 690

If your score is here, you have a bad credit history. You may have struggled to repay loans to more than one company, and it could show you have loan default. You are likely to be declined for more credit as you are deemed a risk who will not make your payments in a timely manner — or at all (in the eyes of the credit card company).

‘Poor’ credit score ratings – 350 to 650

You are ‘damaged goods’ to lenders. Several lenders have found you have issues with paying them back on time — or you have declared yourself bankrupt. Unfortunately, this will stay on your report for around 10 years.

If this is your credit score, you should talk to someone in finances in order to get advice on how to repair your damaged credit.

Having no credit

This means you haven’t yet borrowed cash.

Good for you — but not so good to the companies. You must establish a credit history, and when you have been approved for your first loan, make sure  you pay back the installments on time to gain a good credit report.

The ability to take out a loan is a good thing; sometimes as it can help you balance your cash. It’s all about making sure you can take steps to pay it off each month and be responsible with your repayments.

Why is my credit score important — also, how can I get a better score?

If you have any form of credit, you should take active steps to improve it. It affects mobile phone contracts, car loans, insurance payments, bank accounts and much more. Credit ratings are always shrouded by myths, but we will tell you what you need to know when it comes to getting a better score.

First of all, each lender rates you with a different scoring method. Just because one lender has turned you away does not mean another one will. Credit scores are not universal.

Secondly, you must borrow money to get a good credit score — quite often, those who have had bad credit scores have not ever borrowed cash. You can start to take out credit with small baby steps, like getting a mobile phone contract, or signing up for a store card to pay off purchases via a monthly statement.

The more you borrow — providing the payments are met in time — the more your credit score will increase.

Credit scoring is a means lenders use to predict your payments in the future; it doesn’t indicate you will or will not meet the loan payments. Most of the behavior is based on how you’ve performed in the past.

Another weird thing — sometimes the bad guys get higher credit scores! If you are going to pay off your cards religiously before the end of the loans, then this means you will not offer the companies a lot of leg room to gain profit from you.

The whole idea of credit companies, and what makes them tick, is to loan cash to make you pay back interest. If you pay off loans before they are due back, then this could have an adverse effect on your credit scores.

Where can I go for more information?

In the U.S., the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is the nation’s consumer protection agency, and it will help you learn how credit ratings work.

You can also write to the Annual Report Request Service and request a copy of your credit report at PO. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA, 30348-5281.

Of course, here at Uninkable we are not promoting going into debt, or getting credit cards. However, if you can maintain your finances responsibly, then a credit card, loan, or the like could be the answer to your prayers.

This article has been designed to help you learn more about credit scores — before you apply for credit! Good luck!

How to Cook Turkey for Thanksgiving

How to Cook Turkey: Three Favorite Methods

Thanksgiving is this week, and there is nothing more important on Thanksgiving day than a perfectly cooked turkey! How to cook turkey is up to you, but we’ve chosen a few of our favorite methods, just in case you still haven’t made up your mind!

How to cook turkey

 

Choosing Your Turkey

You can’t decide how to cook turkey if you haven’t chosen what kind of turkey you want to cook!

Choosing a turkey can be as simple as grabbing a prepackaged bird from the supermarket, but if you have the time and a little extra money, you might consider buying a premium variety.

Raising your own animals for food is probably the best way to ensure quality, but that’s a lot of work, and probably not very practical for most home cooks! The next best option is to source a local producer; they’ll be happy for your business, and you’ll be happy with the taste!

You can also try looking for a free-range or certified organically raised turkey. These usually cost more, but are often raised on higher quality feed, making a healthier, tastier meal for your Thanksgiving table.

Smoked Turkey

Smoking a turkey is about having a passion for food!

You’ll need a barbecue full of charcoal, and you need to light it with lighter fuel, leaving the charcoal to go red as you prepare your turkey.

Preparation

Next, take your defrosted or fresh turkey and start prepping it.

Take out the giblets from the turkey. This part can really gross you out, but trust me, it pays off!

I like to remove the giblets and then rinse the inside of the bird (as politely as possible, though–it’s a bird’s butt, show some respect).

You can do this under the tap for the best results. This is not for the faint of heart, as it can really be gruesome with all the blood and gore.

Seasoning

Next is the fun part! Take an orange and chop it into two, then stuff the orange inside the turkey, where the giblets used to be. If smoked turkey with orange is not your taste, you can swap the orange for cranberry!

Now, the spices that you use are totally up to you, but salt and pepper are a must, and be sure to use plenty of butter! Turkey is a really dry animal, so the more butter the better, as far as I’m concerned.

Completely melt the butter, then turn the turkey in the melted butter, making sure that it is completely drenched. You then can use the salt and pepper and sprinkle to taste in an even coating all over the bird.

Smoking

Check that the barbecue is hot and that the coals are red, and then put your turkey on its way to smoking heaven.

The trick is to make sure that you turn the bird regularly. Depending on the size of this bird, it can take a long time to cook.

Enjoy some great company, and make sure that you have a few cans of beer or a glass of wine to keep you entertained as you smoke your turkey!

Some Extra Smoking Tips and Tricks

There is another method of smoking a turkey, which is a little bit of a cheat: you can use leftover meat from a previously cooked bird, and add it to your barbecue to add some flavor from the original recipe that you used to cook it.

The plus side is that it does not take long at all, since you are just reheating leftover meat, so it can be a great starter dish to hand around to people as you are prepping the other food.

Also, if you’ve never cooked with smoke before, and are worried about sanitation or cooking temperatures, the USDA has a helpful video to help walk you through:

Fried Turkey

Now, if you are not a barbecue type of guy or chick, then you can actually make some tasty turkey by frying it!

Frying things is a little lazy, but it can make the animal taste moister, and of course, more like fast food. It’s not for everyone, but some vastly prefer fried turkey over other methods.

A Word on Frying

Frying anything involves high temperature and hot oil. Separating your bird into smaller pieces will make cooking easier, faster, and safer. You can get your local butcher to chop up the turkey into pieces for you, pretty much like KFC, and then you can prep it for frying.

Frying the whole bird at once can be dangerous, but if you really want to give it a try, constructing a fry derrick like Alton Brown’s might be a safer alternative:

Preparation

Leaving the skin on is best. As with all meats, you’ll need to rinse it before prepping and frying.

Once the meat has been rinsed, a great trick to making sure that the meat is soft and does not go dry is to soak it a little in a pan full of laban, a kind of fermented yogurt milk. Buttermilk is also fine.

After an hour or so of soaking, you can get your salt and pepper shakers and let loose! You can also add some chili powder to the mix if you want to spice things up a little and not be as traditional.

Frying

It is best to deep fry using vegetable oil, and to use a good fry pan with netting inside..

As you fry your turkey, the trick to getting the best results is to keep the vegetable oil inside the pan, and make sure that it is heated up before popping the meat inside.

When  the oil is heated, add the turkey, and make sure that you keep checking the turkey pieces as they fry, turning them around so they are evenly cooked.

Once the meat is crispy, take it out, let it settle on paper towels, and pat to remove the excess oil. You can serve this with vegetables, chips, or roast potatoes. It is completely up to you!

Roast Turkey

Turkey roasting is an art! The trick to getting a finely roasted turkey is overnight preparation, a lot of foil, and butter!

The result is a pure classic. When people think about Thanksgiving, the image of a beautifully crisp, brown, roast turkey is often first to mind.

Preparation

Make sure that you get your turkey ready! Much like the previous methods, you’ll want to clean it, remove the giblets, and wash it.

Choose the desired flavors that you would like to stuff your bird with. You can use an orange or some cranberries, but adding in some stuffing is a great method, too.

The Stuffing

While some prefer to cook the stuffing outside the bird, and then add it to the platter as a garnish, cooking the stuffing inside the turkey can add extra flavor to both dishes.

Just remember that more mass means longer cooking times, and it’s easy to burn the stuffing or under-cook the turkey without realizing!

If you do decide to use stuffing, you don’t have to be fancy. A basic stuffing is comprised of pieces of bread and seasonings, as well as a liquid to hold it together. Seasonings vary wildly based on region, taste, and tradition, and the liquid can be anything from water, to milk, to stock, etc.

In a pinch, you can even use instant stuffing; just add water to the stuffing flakes, and they are ready to put inside the turkey.

Keeping the Turkey Moist and Juicy

Another secret to making sure that the turkey is not dry and tasteless is to get a knob of butter and completely melt it. Put foil into the roasting dish, add the turkey on top of the foil, and butter the outside of the bird, ensuring that it reaches everywhere on the turkey skin.

Next, pour a jug of chicken or vegetable stock all over the bird. Don’t worry if it looks like your turkey is taking a swimming lesson! You want the meat to be kept as moist as possible.

Alternatively, you can use Gordon Ramsay’s method, which involves stretching the skin of the turkey, and then stuffing seasoned butter underneath:

Adding strips of bacon over the top helps trap in moisture, while also giving extra flavor to the gravy.

Seasoning and Roasting

Add salt, pepper, and any other the seasonings that you enjoy. Wrap the top of the turkey in foil, making sure that it is sitting tight inside the pan, and pop it into the oven!

Roast turkey is so delicious, but it will take a long time to roast, so you need to have patience! You will need to stay in the house as it roasts and keep checking throughout the day.

There is no dead set method with regards to timing, as it depends on the size of the initial turkey, what oven temperature that you use, and of course the type of oven. But as a reward for waiting, your house will smell like a bistro!

When the turkey is done, take a knife and make sure to check that the meat is fully cooked and not displaying any redness or blood in the middle. If the knife comes out clean, remove the turkey.

Be sure to let the bird rest for a while before carving; this will allow the meat to cool slightly, and reabsorb some of the juices.

Enjoy!

Now that you have some ideas of how to cook turkey, feel free to mix and match techniques to your heart’s content! There’s no “perfect” way to prepare a Thanksgiving feast, so find the way that works best for you, and enjoy!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Clare Louise Al-Aufi is a UK-based writer with a passion for all things Internet, and the owner of Freelance Content Creation. She can be reached at freelancecontentpayments@gmail.com.

What to Expect from Trump’s First Hundred Days as President

The first hundred days of Donald Trump’s America will soon be upon us.

Despite the breakout protests and outrage following Donald Trump’s surprise victory at the polls, most people still aren’t sure what to expect of his administration.

Will he fulfill his promise of making America great again, or will the next four years be a cartoonish nightmare?

Why the First Hundred Days Matter

The first hundred days of any president’s administration are critical. Trump may be a strong example, but the opening act of a presidential term sets the stage for the years to follow.

Trump has to choose his cabinet, and decide what policies to make priorities. Which of his campaign promises, if any, will make it to the Oval Office? For Trump, whose election platform offered few details on policy, but was rich with “personality,” the first hundred days will be a furtive glimpse into the future.

The start of the first term is also when most presidents have their highest levels of support, and therefore, the most potential to pass parts of their campaign agenda.

For those who don’t know, the precedent for the first hundred days was set by FDR during a radio broadcast in 1933, where he outlined a plan to pass the New Deal during the hundred-day session of the 73rd Congress. The phrase quickly changed meaning, and became a label for the first hundred days of FDR’s first term in office, and later, the first term for any new president.

Crash Course has a more detailed explanation of the New Deal and FDR’s early days in office. Take a look for a quick history refresher:

FDR’s first hundred days were productive ones. If Trump can be even half as effective as FDR was, it should be clear why liberal voters are worried.

President Trump: What We Know So Far

To recap, the first standard by which all United States Presidents are judged, established during one of the most difficult periods in American history by this guy:

FDR set the precedent for the first hundred days during his first term.

 

 

 

 

 

 

…is now about to be applied to this guy:

Nervous yet?

Trump was so vague about his policies during the campaign that he really could do just about anything. All we have to go on is his recent “Contract with the American Voter,” released in late October.

It’s hard to make any real predictions on this yet, but some news outlets have made a stab at it anyway. NPR copied the whole contract into an article last week, and the San Francisco Chronicle published a similar article a few days ago.

The thing about government is that it’s not easy to summarize. For those who really want to know what Trump will do, the best information is still straight from his website, but some highlights are included below:

The Supreme Court, Social Justice, and Minority Activism

There are number of issues, such as the rights of the LGBT community, that Trump’s contract doesn’t address.

There are other issues, such as the Supreme Court and Obama’s executive orders, that it addresses thoroughly.

Justice Scalia’s seat on the Supreme Court is still vacant, and three more justices are past or approaching 80 years old.  While liberal justices might decide to wait a little longer to retire, if they were to die in office, it’s likely they would be replaced by conservatives.

LGBT Americans are already concerned about what Trump’s administration will do, especially when he has a Republican Congress behind him, but if the Supreme Court becomes conservative, would it really be a stretch to see same-sex marriage get the axe?

What about America’s burgeoning police state, or movements like Black Lives Matter? How many Syrian refugees, if any, will be allowed into the country? Will President Trump get his wall, and if he does, what will happen to immigrants that are already here?

Conservatives may not always care for social issues, and they may even support the rollback of the last eight years of liberalism. Hopefully, they do not let ideology take precedent over disenfranchisement and human suffering.

Regardless of political affiliation, it would seem that for social issues, if the last eight years equaled two steps forward, the next four might equal a dozen steps back.

Term Limits

“Drain the Swamp” was a big rallying point for Trump’s campaign, aimed at reducing corruption in D.C. by limiting terms in Congress and curtailing the influence of lobbyists.

This is certainly a goal that most Americans can get behind. But it’s also hard to see Trump making much progress when his cabinet is a veritable rogue’s gallery of Washington insiders.

On paper, term limits curb corruption, since fresh people are always fed into office.

New blood could also help to pass more popular legislation. It’s easy to imagine government losing touch with people, since the average congressman is around 60, while the the median age in America is 36.

But term limits might be easier said than done. Even Trump knows that term limits would require a constitutional amendment, and members of Congress likely won’t support any bill that would force them out of a job.

If Trump somehow gets his amendment passed, it might create other problems. Members of Congress will cycle more frequently, but lobbyists wouldn’t be affected by term limits, creating a big shift in the balance of political power compared to what we have now.

But lobbyists wouldn’t be completely off the hook.

Restrictions on Foreign Lobbyists

It’s important to note that it’s already illegal for candidates in federal elections to take money from foreign donors, but not necessarily for foreign lobbyists to raise money on their behalf. Trump would eliminate this loophole.

White House officials would also be banned from lobbying for foreign governments, and would not be allowed to lobby in the United States for five years after leaving government.

The revolving door between the private sector and government is no secret. US officials with ties to foreign governments can (and should) make voters nervous, and this is still without mentioning that countries like Saudi Arabia and the UAE are some of the more generous contributors to the D.C. machine.

While it’s hard to pick any one reason for Hillary Clinton’s defeat, alleged ties to foreign governments were definitely a sticky point for her during the election.

Clinton may not have taken foreign money for her campaign, but she did accept it for the Clinton Foundation while she was secretary of state, despite President Obama’s wishes. Depending on how strictly Trump’s proposals would be enforced, gray areas like this might become more black and white.

Infrastructure and Energy

The American Society of Civil Engineers gave infrastructure in the United States a D+. The society suggests an investment of $3.6 trillion to fix this problem.

To address this, Trump has proposed the American Energy and Infrastructure Act. The act would rely on partnerships with the private sector to raise $1 trillion for infrastructure projects.

Trump has yet to specify how this proposal would work. What incentive will the private sector have to invest in public works projects? How will the government pay for their share? Where will the other $2.6 trillion needed to fix our infrastructure come from?

Will a Republican Congress really authorize funds for bridges, dams, and roads?

Maybe not. But they probably will support the Keystone pipeline and increased fossil fuel production, which Trump has also proposed.

This might help keep gas prices down, but it doesn’t bode well for the environment, or for the people who don’t want leaky pipelines in their backyard. Is the possibility of cheaper energy really worth flaming drinking water?

The Immediate Horizon is Cloudy, at Best

Trump, unlike most presidents, does not have a record of policy making and statesmanship behind him. He tends to act impulsively, and breaks with tradition often; he may not even live in the White House.

One hundred days does not a president make, one week after election day is not enough time to adequately predict the future of the entire country, and no pundit, liberal or conservative, was able to see any of this coming.

The reality of the situation is that we do not fully grasp the reality of the situation. If you’re a died-in-the-wool conservative, you probably won’t complain too much. If not, you probably won’t know what to make of anything for a while.

Until we do, we can only keep watching the news, and hope for the best.

 

Daniel Durand is a writer who like politics, but admits that it’s a lot less fun lately. He can be reached at ddurand.specialprojects@gmail.com.