What the experts say
A kinder credit score
“Your credit score is about to become more forgiving,” said Jonnelle Marte in The Washington Post. The VantageScore, a scoring model developed by the three major credit bureaus, is rolling out changes this fall that will reward consumers who are diligently paying off their debts. Under the current model, two people who are both using 50 percent of the spending limit on their credit cards are treated about the same because of the high card utilization. But under the new model, “one person might look better if his report shows that he has been paying down debt.” The changes should help protect consumers with a proven track record of keeping their balances low from taking a credit score hit if they temporarily assume more debt with a big purchase.
Affordable summer vacations
In need of a getaway but feeling a little light in the wallet? “You can save a great deal of money and have an amazing summer holiday on a very tight budget,” said Trent Hamm in USNews.com. Start by looking into the top 10 or 20 tourist sights in your area to see how many you’ve actually visited. “Almost every region of the U.S. offers some amazing getaways nearby, and taking advantage of that eliminates the cost of plane tickets.” Or offer to house-sit for a faraway friend going on a trip of his or her own. You can “enjoy a vacation in a new city with free housing and an easy place to prepare cheap meals.” Also, stay on the lookout for last-minute deals on cheap flights and hotels, “then travel somewhere unexpected.”
The ‘salary history’ question
A potential employer asking for your salary history “is arguably the most fraught moment in a job interview,” said Lynda Spiegel in The Wall Street Journal. Hiring managers tend to offer 10 to 15 percent above a candidate’s most recent compensation, but that can disadvantage people who were underpaid to begin with. “Rather than refusing outright to answer, candidates should deflect the question by suggesting that both they and the company first evaluate what value they can add in this role.” If an interviewer pushes back, “candidates should simply state that their salary history and future requirements are in line with market value.” To build their case, job seekers should always come prepared with industryspecific salary data from online resources like Salary.com. But never admit to being open to accepting a lower salary, which can leave you vulnerable to “lowball offers.” ■