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The changes could lead to more bank lending and easier credit for some consumers.

By Money Staff Aug 8, 2014 1:10PM

This post comes from AnnaMaria Andriotis at partner site The Wall Street Journal.

The Wall Street Journal on MSN MoneyA change in how the most widely used credit score in the U.S. is tallied will likely make it easier for tens of millions of Americans to get loans.

Fair Isaac Corp. said Thursday that it will stop including in its FICO credit-score calculations any record of a consumer failing to pay a bill if the bill has been paid or settled with a collection agency. The San Jose, Calif., company also will give less weight to unpaid medical bills that are with a collection agency.

The moves follow months of discussions with lenders and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau aimed at boosting lending without creating more credit risk. Since the recession, many lenders have approved only the best borrowers, usually those with few or no blemishes on their credit report.


The cost of school supplies quickly mounts. Here are six strategies that can help you save.

By Aug 8, 2014 12:14PM
This post comes from Emily Lugg at partner site on MSN MoneyThe list of required school supplies varies by grade and school, but there are staples that nearly every child needs. Costs quickly add up.

With a few sharp tactics and a savvy attitude, shopping for school supplies can be less of a financial strain.

School lunch © Stockbyte/SuperStock
We identified six ways to save and also compared a shopping cart of back-to-school supplies at Costco, Wal-Mart, Target, and Amazon to point you to the greatest savings.

Don't buy everything at one time
August is the most popular month for purchasing school supplies but isn't necessarily the best. Time Magazine suggests buying big-ticket supplies such as laptops in August and fulfilling the rest of the list in September, when a lot of school-related items go on sale.

Moreover, coupons for school supplies often trickle out, so wait to pick up items until the relevant coupon appears. If your timing is right, you can combine them with store sales to save even more. On the other hand, if you plan to order school supplies online, don't wait until the last minute. Expedited shipping fees can wipe out any savings on prices.

If you've never applied for a rewards credit card, you're missing out on generous sign-up bonuses, plus ongoing rewards for making everyday purchases.

By MSN Money Partner Aug 8, 2014 11:56AM

This post comes from Summer Hull at partner site Money Talks News.

Money Talks News on MSN MoneyDid you grow up being told by your parents and grandparents that credit cards are dangerous and that you needed to pay for everything with cold card cash or checks written from a carefully balanced checkbook?

Credit card and computer © Stockbyte/SuperStockWell, your elders did you a favor in teaching you not to spend beyond your means. But these days, sticking to their lessons word for word will cause you to lose out on big rewards that can come from paying for purchases big and small with rewards-earning credit cards.

Banks are fighting to get you to pay with their credit cards when you purchase everything from groceries to hotel stays to dry cleaning to car insurance, and they are handing out points and cash back as a reward for doing so.

If you have the discipline to buy only what you otherwise would have with cash and pay off the cards each month, then you can get rewarded every time you swipe your credit card for purchases.


We surveyed major retailers and found the best prices on back-to-school clothes are at Wal-Mart but others stand out for best quality on certain items.

By Aug 8, 2014 11:10AM
This post comes from Raechel Conover at partner site on MSN MoneyBack-to-school clothes shopping is currently high on many families' agendas, so we set out to identify sources for high quality, yet cheap kids' clothes. This year the National Retail Federation expects back-to-school spending on new wearables, school supplies, and electronics to hit $26.5 billion -- that's an average of about $669 per family with children in grades K-12. Of that amount, about $355 will go towards shoes and clothing.

Gradeschool children at the school bus © Hero Images/CorbisOur research found that there's no need to spend a small fortune on the clothes and shoes portion of your must-have back-to-school list. By shopping at Wal-Mart, for example, you can buy all the necessary attire for two kids, ages 7 to 10, for slightly less than $235.

We also found that certain stores offer the best values on particular types of clothing, such as J.C. Penney for uniforms.

The outbreak in Africa has American insurers watching the news, but they're not excessively worried.

By QuinStreet Aug 7, 2014 5:50PM

This post comes from Beth Orenstein at partner site on MSN MoneyTwo Americans who contracted the deadly Ebola virus while on a mission in West Africa have returned to the United States, where they are being treated in a special isolation unit of an Atlanta hospital. A half a dozen other patients around the country have had their blood tested because of a concern they might have been exposed to the Ebola virus when abroad.

Liberian health workers at the isolation unit in Foya, Lofa County, Liberia © Ahmed Jallanzo/EPA
Ebola is a virus that spreads through contact with blood or bodily fluids. The World Health Organization says Ebola has a death rate of up to 90 percent. The current Ebola outbreak is out of control in West Africa. To date, more than 900 people have died from it.

The missionaries' return to the United States has put some people on edge: Are Americans at risk at home? But health insurance companies, which would have to bear the brunt of the cost of treatment were there to be an outbreak, don’t seem worried.

Dr. Ajani P. Nimmagadda, an infectious disease expert and senior medical director for Cigna, says she thinks the possibility of an Ebola outbreak in the U.S. is extremely low.


Arkansas and Kentucky lead the nation with the sharpest reductions in the percentage of residents without health insurance. Gallup credits Obamacare.

By MSN Money Partner Aug 7, 2014 3:37PM

This post comes from Krystal Steinmetz at partner site Money Talks News.

Money Talks News on MSN MoneyWhether you like it or hate it, Obamacare has been effective in reducing the number of uninsured in the U.S.

Its impact may be most significant in Arkansas, at least where sheer numbers are concerned, according to the latest Gallup-Well Being national survey. In 2013, Arkansas ranked next to last in the U.S. for its uninsured rate. Now, it's leading the country in the biggest reduction in uninsured. Arkansas' uninsured rate dropped from 22.5 percent in 2013 to 12.4 percent in the second half of 2014.

Insurance Policy © Don Carstens/Brand X Pictures/Jupiterimages"While a majority of Americans continue to disapprove of the Affordable Care Act, the uninsured rate is declining, as the law intended," Gallup said.

Kentucky is a close second to Arkansas. Its uninsured rate plunged from 20.4 percent in 2013 to 11.9 percent now.

According to Gallup, the 10 states that reported the biggest drops in their uninsured rates all expanded Medicaid as part of the program and all created state-based online marketplaces where their residents could buy individual insurance. Some states refused to expand Medicaid for low-income people and also refused to set up an online marketplace, meaning their residents had to buy individual insurance through a federal marketplace.


Touring your home with a purpose -- and with a handful of tools -- helps you cut household costs and maintain your home's value.

By MSN Money Partner Aug 7, 2014 1:52PM

This post comes from Marilyn Lewis at partner site Money Talks News.

Money Talks News on MSN MoneyHomeowners fantasize about making fabulous changes to their homes: adding rooms, beautifying the grounds, and remodeling kitchens and baths. In reality, however, these dream jobs may not be financially possible.

Don't let that stop you, however, from taking good care of the home you have.

Here are 15 small jobs that let you invest in your home and hold down household costs:


If your child's bag contains electronics, keys or other personal items, your back-to-school season could be wrecked by identity theft.

By Aug 7, 2014 12:14PM
This post comes from Adam Levin at partner site on MSN MoneyWhether you’re scanning the surf to protect your little ones from a rogue jellyfish, lazing at home on a stay-cation or carting kids to camp, you’re probably already thinking about your back-to-school to-do lists.

Child with backpack © Mareen Fischinger/Westend61/CorbisWhile you’re out there searching for the perfect backpack for your child, the more important consideration than style, size and color should be – what can happen if a dishonest person gets a hold of it? The things your child carries in his or her rucksack can become weapons of your financial destruction if they fall into the wrong hands.

With identity-related crimes at historic levels, the odds are better than ever that a dishonest person will know the basics of taking advantage of the kinds of personally identifiable information, sensitive data (like passwords and credit card numbers) and the many other keys to your household economy that often lurk in your child’s backpack.



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