Saturday, May 17, 2008

Government Services.

OK, I know the title is misleading but I am not talking about getting Medicare or welfare, I believe in personal responsibility and I will advice strongly against abusing the government programs for the poor or the elderly, it is not fair and it is now what we were supposed to do, we are in the USA to create a new life for ourselves, one that we couldn't have in our countries but that we can build her.Now, let's talk about the government services that you should take advantage:Library: I think this is one of the best services provided by local governments in the USA, libraries not only give you access to books, but they have movies, audio books, computers with internet, some have free classes and most of them have reading events for children, I think that the first thing you should do as soon as you in the USA is to check your local library and take advantage of all the services they have, who needs HBO when you have access to a library?Parks: Parks in my country are usually horrible (there are exceptions), trash all around, no grass just weeds, etc. But here the majority are very well taken care, clean, you can take your family for a day of fun in the park, have a picnic, all without spending a dime!Community centers: Many local governments have community centers that provide services for the family, which include: organizing trips, movie day, youth activities, etc. Check if you local community have one of this.Other services: Those are not the only services, there are public golf courses (a small fee is usually charged), public pools, first time home buyer programs (grants for low income families to afford buying a house), etc.These services are there for you to take advantage, please make sure that you do!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

How to build your credit history.

You are new in the country and you want to build your credit in order to get access to credit to buy a house or car, what is the best way to do it?

The answer is not easy, since it requires time, here are the simple steps:

1. Get a bank account (checking or savings)
2. Pay your bills on time.
3. Be patience.

Now, notice I don't recommend getting a secured card or getting a car right away, why? because since you don't have credit history the interest rate is going to be very high, I recommend to wait at least 1 year before trying to get any type of credit.

Now a year has passed, what type of credit to get? If you are responsible with credit cards (paying them off at the end of the) then apply for a credit card, if you are not, avoid them, it is a trap and you should avoid it.

You can get instead a car loan, this will help build your credit. Try to give the biggest down payment you can, the lower the amount in the loan the better interest rate you can get and make sure you shop around, you won't believe the interest rates some dealers try to give you.

One last piece of advice, try to bank at a credit union, credit unions are usually small, they get to know you and usually take into consideration your history with other accounts when evaluating to give you credit or not.

Good luck and please be always careful when dealing with credit, this is a decision that will affect you life in this country and should be done carefully.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

OK, I am in America, now what?

Probably my first advice to any newcomer, DON'T GET IN THE CREDIT GAME. In this country is so easy to apply for credit that it should be banned, it is so easy to get a credit card, then an auto loan and before you realize it, you owe 30,000 usd!!!, I know, you should build a credit history, yes you should but I think there are better ways to create it than immediately get a credit card, plus you want to know the rules of the game first, only because you are new, you shouldn't be paying an interest rate above 10%. So before applying for any credit card, make sure you have a job and you learn the rules, to me the best place to start is in this two websites:

Dave Ramsey and here Bankrate

In my next post I'll give you some basic rules.