Deputies searching for owner of cash pile

by Shelton on December 13th, 2014

filed under Business Loans

BOISE — Whoever dropped several hundred dollars in the neighborhood north of Lake Hazel Middle School is in luck. A Good Samaritan found the money, and turned it in to the Ada County Sheriffs Office instead of pocketing it.

Deputies say the wad of cash was spotted lying on the side of the road at about 8 am Monday. At least two cars had run over the money before the Good Samaritan grabbed it.

There was no wallet or other identification nearby, so the sheriffs office isnt sure who it belongs to. Anyone trying to claim the money will have to prove it is theirs.

If you believe the cash is yours, call the sheriffs office Property and Evidence Unit at 577-3050.

Lessons from cities with the best and worst credit scores

by Shelton on December 13th, 2014

filed under Credit Scores

Residents are 23 percent less likely than average to charge more
than $1,000 a month, according to survey data published by the
chamber. The $3,429 average credit card balance is second-lowest of
200 cities studied by Experian. Residents dont like to spend
beyond their means, Considine said.

Experian, one of the big-three keepers of credit reports,
published its annual look at the credit of US consumers on Nov.
18. Based on credit reports of 15 million people, the companys
State of Credit

study portrays a consumer economy that continues to gain strength
as the 2009 recession recedes further into the past.

Consumers are at least feeling more confident in the economy,
and their ability to manage new debt, said Rod Griffin, Experian
director of public education.

The average VantageScore, the credit scoring system developed by
the large credit bureaus, rose 2 points from last year, to 666.
(VantageScores range from 300 to 850.) People are also taking on
more debt, with the number of general purpose cards up 21 percent,
Experian said. Average debt grew by $632, reaching $28,496. The
debt figure, drawn from the years second quarter, includes credit
cards, auto loans and student loans, but excludes home loans.

An increase in scores means that on average, people are able to
repay the debts theyre taking on, Griffin said.

However, while some metropolitan areas such as Mankato —
VantageScore 706 — lead the trend, others are slipping down the
scale of creditworthiness.

In Greenwood, Mississippi, which has the nations lowest average
VantageScore at 609, late payments are creeping up and credit
scores are dropping. Even though residents of the historic cotton
center on the Yazoo River have about $1,000 less debt than the US
average, their collective credit score fell by 2 points over the
year.

The two cities hold a lesson for consumers about how scores
work. Credit scores really arent about how much debt you have,
Griffin said. What they really reflect is how well you manage that
debt.

People in Greenwood typically have half as many credit cards as
those in Mankato, but they use one-third more of their available
credit limits, Experian data show. And while their average debt
load of $27,475 is just $992 higher than in Mankato, they are four
times as likely to make a late payment.

Where the scores are

There is more to regional differences in credit than individual
financial discipline, though. Clusters of high- and low-performing
cities in different regions of the country point to economic
differences that drive the split in credit scores. Mississippi,
with an unemployment rate of 7.7 percent — and the nations
highest poverty rate — has three of the lowest-score cities in
Experians study. At the other end of the spectrum, Minnesota, with
4.1 percent unemployment, has the top four performers.

Over the last several years with the surveys, where we see high
unemployment rates we typically see poorer credit scores,
Griffin said. Economics are at least part of the reason why
cities in the South persistently have among the
lowest credit scores

, he said, while Midwestern cities historically perform better.

In Las Vegas, the largest city on the list of 10 lowest credit
scores, households are still recovering from the collapse of the
housing bubble, said Stephen Brown, director of the Center for
Business and Economic Research at the University of Nevada at Las
Vegas. About one in four mortgages remains underwater, he said,
meaning the debt is greater than the value of the home.

We had the biggest housing boom of any city in the country, and
the biggest housing bust, Brown said. The damage is reflected in
the states 7.7 percent jobless rate, a third larger than the
national average, as home construction remains stagnant.

What about regional stereotypes, such as Vegas high-rollers
tossing bills on the blackjack table while thrifty Midwesterners
hold on tight to their wallets? Is there an element of truth behind
the cliches that influence credit scores?

Griffin said that average scores do tend to be lower in gambling
centers. But theres not much evidence that regional habits or
traits play a role in financial responsibility.

For example, cold temperatures may keep people from going out
and spending money at times, but the data isnt there to prove that
the weather helps northerners control their budget. There are all
sorts of things we could speculate about, he said, but we dont
have a way to get at that in this survey.

Industry and the blues

The cities with the highest and lowest scores are as far apart
culturally as they are geographically. Greenwood is known for
producing cotton and music, with markers on the Mississippi Blues
Trail commemorating BB King and Robert Johnson. Seven-hundred
miles north in Mankato, where the average high temperature in
January is 23 degrees, a branch of Minnesota State University sends
a stream of educated workers to specialized factories such as Kato
Engineering, maker of high-tech electric equipment that powers the
Palmer Station research post in Antarctica.

Were fortunate to have MSU here, Considine said.

Like employment, education is an important marker for a regions
economic strength. Areas with low education tend to have low credit
scores as well. In Mankato, 45 percent of adults have an
associates degree or higher, versus 23 percent in Greenwood.

While high income isnt necessary for a good credit score, the
low paychecks that Mississippi residents draw make it harder to
keep up with bills. In Greenwood, where median household income is
$28,322, one in three residents are below the federal poverty line,
according to Census data.

The local economy is beyond your control, but your credit score
is up to you, Griffin says. Year after year, the survey finds that
the best predictors of an areas credit score are the rate of late
payments and the average utilization rate or how much available
credit is in use. These are big factors that make up individual
scores.

Rather than worry about the ins and outs of credit strategies,
Griffin recommends two fundamental habits. If you pay your bills
on time and keep your balances low, youll have good credit
scores.

See related:

Where you live affects credit scores