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‘Gen Z’ Off to Strong Start With Credit, Analysis Shows

The oldest members of “Generation Z” have barely crossed the threshold into legal adulthood, but they’re already demonstrating financial prowess, according to an analysis released this week by the Experian credit reporting bureau. In fact, Experian reports that 18 to 20 year olds are more likely to pay off their balances each month than younger millennials, those ages 21 to 27.

Of course, members of Gen Z have also had less time to make money mistakes and incur obligations. “They don’t have as much debt yet,” says Kelley Motley, director of analytics at Experian. Many still live with their parents and don’t yet have a mortgage or children to support. That might help explain why they’re good at staying on top of monthly payments.

Many members of Gen Z also have impressive credit scores: 37% already have at least a “prime” score, which Experian defines as 661 or better. On average, they have a slightly higher credit score than young millennials. Prime scores typically qualify borrowers for lower interest rates on loans.

The data is based on consumers ages 18 to 20 who have credit files, meaning their name is on a student loan, credit card, auto loan, mortgage, or other type of credit account that has been reported to Experian. In many cases, 18 to 20 year olds might have opened the account jointly with someone else, such as a parent.

Experian’s findings offer lessons from Generation Z for millennials and others:

Pay in full every month

Paying your credit card balance on time and in full each month keeps you out of debt and can save you hundreds of dollars per year in interest and fees. Two in three members of Gen Z who have credit cards pay them off in full each month, compared with fewer than half of young millennials.

Build a strong credit history

Members of Gen Z are most likely to have a credit file because of student loans, followed by auto loans and credit cards. By making regular payments on these accounts, they’re building a solid credit history. “Those decisions they make today are going to be important for their future credit behavior and access to lower rates,” Motley says.

Use online tools

“They are very savvy. They have the internet. Boomers and Gen X didn’t have that available,” Motley says. As a result, members of Gen Z have more resources to learn the basics of responsible credit use — or at least they know where to look.

Gen Z might be young, but their baby steps into the world of credit look firm.

Kimberly Palmer is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: Twitter: @KimberlyPalmer.

How to Assess Your Credit Card Needs After Divorce

Of all the things that need your attention after a separation or divorce, credit cards are probably low on your list. But making the right moves early on can set you up for a smooth return to managing credit as a single person.

In a recent survey by the Experian credit reporting firm, 50% of divorced people surveyed said their former spouse ran up credit card debts on joint accounts, and 59% said finances played a role in their divorce.

To get started on the road to financial recovery, you need to get a handle on the accounts you have and evaluate your credit card needs.

Don’t worry — we’ll walk you through the process.

How many accounts do you have?

Even if financial infidelity — dishonesty in the handling of joint money — was not a factor in the breakup, it’s still a good idea to be aware of all the credit card accounts with your name on them. You can request a credit report from each of the three credit reporting agencies once a year for free. You can also sign up to get a free credit score from NerdWallet.

Go over those reports carefully. They’ll show a complete list of your credit cards and loans, along with each account’s status. The account balances shown on the credit report may be a little out of date. To get current balances, you may need to log in to the online accounts or call the credit card issuers.

Once you know what’s there, work with your ex to figure out who will be responsible for which accounts.

Who keeps the existing credit cards?

The impulse may be to close all the shared credit card accounts and start from scratch, but consider the implications before cutting up the plastic.

The average age of your credit card accounts is part of how your credit scores are calculated. Older accounts, especially if they’re in good standing, are valuable for boosting the average age of accounts.

So consider removing one person from each account and letting the other keep it open. The easiest way to do this is for the primary account holder to keep the account and revoke the other person’s authorized user status. Even if it’s a joint account, the issuer may still be willing to remove one of the account holders.

When removing the former spouse from a credit card account, ask the issuer to change the account number at the same time. That way, the existing account stays open, but even the sneakiest of exes won’t be able to use the old account numbers to make purchases.

How will spending change after divorce?

Your budget will probably change as much as your living room decor once you’re on your own. For example, you may spend less on fuel now that your ex’s gas guzzler is parked across town instead of in your driveway.

Once you’ve removed yourself from some joint cards and removed your spouse from others, track your spending for a few months. That will give you an idea of what kind of credit cards will best suit your needs. You may be just fine with the cards you have, or you may want to add a new one.

Here are a few cards that may work well for the new you:

  • If you spend a lot on groceries and gas: The Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express pays 6% cash back on up to $6,000 in spending at U.S. grocery stores each year and an unlimited 3% back at U.S. gas stations and select department stores. Terms apply.
  • If you love to travel: The Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card is a flexible travel rewards card that allows you to redeem miles on any airline. Enjoy a one-time bonus of 20,000 miles once you spend $1,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $200 in travel. The card has an annual fee of $0.
  • If you have a credit card balance to pay off: The Chase Slate® doesn’t charge a fee to transfer your balance within the first 60 days, as long as you’re not transferring a balance from another Chase card. It offers an introductory annual percentage rate of 0% on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 15 months, and then the ongoing APR of 15.74% - 24.49% Variable APR.
  • If you don’t carry a balance: The Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer pays an unlimited 1% back on every purchase and another 1% back when you pay those purchases off. It has an annual fee of $0.

» MORE: Use our credit card tool to find the best card for you.

How many credit cards is too many?

We generally recommend that people shoot for three to five cards to maximize rewards and keep their credit score healthy. But if it’s been a while since you were in charge of managing the household finances, it might be better to stick with just one card. That way, you’re less likely to forget to make a payment, something that can deal a heavy blow to your credit score.

If you do have older accounts that you want to keep open to help your credit score, that’s a great plan, especially if those cards don’t have an annual fee. If it’s expensive to keep the accounts open, though, it may be better to close them and use the money saved for something more worthwhile.

Virginia C. McGuire is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: Twitter: @vcmcguire.

Are You Cut Out for a Work-From-Home Job?

Telecommuting has become synonymous with convenience, flexible schedules and, yes, pajamas. You don’t have to commute, spend money on transportation or dress up. But despite the appeal and laid-back reputation, there are challenges.

“Not everybody is cut out for working from home,” says Jack Aiello, a psychology professor at Rutgers University.

From your work style to your work space, here’s what to consider before working from home.

Your personality

Certain personalities make effective at-home employees.

“Above all else, two things are required to be a successful work-at-homer: the ability to be a self-directed, focused planner and a healthy dose of introversion,” Kit Yarrow, a consumer psychologist and professor emeritus at Golden Gate University in San Francisco, said in an email.

Yarrow says extroverted workers prefer more person-to-person contact than many at-home jobs provide.

Telecommuters interact less with co-workers than their workplace counterparts. After all, you can’t chat at the water cooler on your break or stop by a colleague’s desk on the way to lunch. That solitude can be hard for those who are sociable, Aiello says.

But don’t count yourselves out, social butterflies. Yarrow says personalities aren’t black and white. The “mildly extroverted” can make telecommuting work if they have an after-work social life, for instance. Renting a co-working space can also provide a social outlet for remote employees.

Your environment

If you live with other people, Aiello says, it’s essential to have a separate space where you won’t be interrupted. You need at least a door that closes you off from the rest of the house.

Be realistic about potential distractions. “Some people can’t help but go on eBay,” Aiello says. “Some people can’t help themselves from playing computer games. There are all kinds of things that get in the way when they don’t have someone over their shoulder.”

And while society may paint a picture of at-home workers on the couch binge-watching Netflix, some telecommuters have a tendency to work too much because they never leave their work environment. Many check their email at night, Aiello says.

Remedy this with boundaries, says Cassidy Solis, senior adviser for workplace flexibility with the Society for Human Resource Management, a trade association. Solis, a telecommuter herself, sets expectations; she won’t respond to emails outside regular working hours unless there’s a pressing deadline.

Your employer

Finally, your employer and supervisor will have a lot to do with your success at home.

IBM made news in May when it called telecommuters back to the workplace. As companies re-evaluate telecommuting, so should employees.

Ask about whether you’ll be included in meetings and how frequently you’ll get feedback from management. Teleconferencing and regular check-ins can help alleviate feelings of isolation by fostering a team environment, Aiello says.

You’ll want to discuss your schedule as well. You may work more efficiently in a position that allows for time at home as well as in the office.

Gallup’s State of the American Workplace report found that employees who spend at least some of their time working remotely have higher engagement than employees who never work remotely. The magic formula for engagement happens when employees spend 60 percent to 80 percent of their time working off-site, the report found.

Solis says it’s important to build in time for face-to-face contact. “I think it’s good to show your face,” she says. “It’s good to see your co-workers. It’s good to feel connected. It’s good to feel part of a community of work.”

It’ll also keep you in the eye of leadership, she adds.

Will it work?

If you fit the criteria and want to explore telecommuting, Solis recommends checking your company’s existing policies, drafting a proposal and starting with a trial period.

Even if you don’t check every box on the ideal-telecommuter checklist, working from home could still work for you.

“Most people, with the right mindset, can actually enjoy … not having to put that suit on for the day or do that commute,” Aiello says.

If not, there’s always the office.

Email staff writer Courtney Jespersen: Twitter: @courtneynerd.

This article was written by NerdWallet and first published by The Associated Press.

Making a Will Online: 3 DIY Options

A will ensures your possessions go to the right people after your death. You must compose yours carefully, but if your personal situation and estate aren’t complicated, you might be able to create your own without help from an attorney.

Even if you go it alone, it’s important to have trustworthy guidance. Here are three ways to create a do-it-yourself will with online resources, along with the pros and cons of each method.

(Not sure how wills work? See our will-writing primer.)

1. Use an online will template

Type “will writing” into your browser and you’ll find many sites offering templates. This is one step up from typing the full document on your own, as you might if you were using a will-writing book.


  • Many sites offer templates tailored to your state’s regulations and your personal needs
  • Templates are often free
  • You can complete your will on your own schedule


  • Templates might be outdated. Double-check current laws to make sure the one you’re using is valid.
  • Some template providers require you to register or enter personal information. If you’re concerned about privacy or future sales calls, this could pose a problem.
  • Most templates are free, but if you need a special form, it could cost you
2. Use will-writing software

Your online search will probably also turn up software such as programs offered by Rocket Lawyer or LegalZoom. These guide you through the will-writing process in a more supportive way than a plain-text template might.


  • The software should include your state’s legal requirements
  • The standardized language that programs use helps to remove any confusion about your wishes
  • A guided approach helps ensure you don’t overlook any information or steps
  • As with a template, software lets you write your will when it’s convenient for you


  • Software isn’t free, though it’s generally cheaper than hiring an attorney
  • You’ll need to research online reviews and other resources to find reputable software
  • Will-writing programs might not account for special situations, such as naming someone to care for your pets or safeguarding a special collection
3. Go the hybrid route

With this option, you start writing your will yourself, using either a template or software, and then ask an attorney any lingering questions.


  • By starting the process, you’ll have answered or anticipated most questions a legal adviser would have
  • You’ll be able to discuss your concerns with a professional — and learn about concerns you might not have considered
  • Because you’ll have done much of the work before consulting the attorney, your fees might be much lower than what you’d have paid if you started with a visit to the lawyer’s office


  • Even a partial lawyer’s fee is more expensive than the other will-writing methods
  • Working with a professional is more time-consuming. You’ll have at least one appointment at the attorney’s office, which might mean taking time off work or other inconveniences.

Regardless of the method you choose, the most important thing is to complete the process. Virtually any kind of will is better than nothing. Remember, too, that you’ll need to update your will, either on your own or by contacting your attorney, whenever your life circumstances change (think having a child or getting divorced).

If your estate is complex or large, it might be worth your time and money to consult an attorney right away. For more tips on distributing your estate efficiently, see NerdWallet’s estate planning basics.

What to Buy (and Skip) in July

July is nearly here, and as temperatures rise, you can expect prices to drop on popular products.

Make the most of midsummer sales with our guide to what you should buy (and skip) during the month of July.

Buy: Patriotic items

Each year around July 4, stores pledge allegiance to the red, white and blue with sales on just about everything that has stars and stripes on it. Expect clothing discounts at department stores and decoration discounts at party supply shops. Wait until close to the holiday to buy your items at the best possible price.

Some stores extend their sales to other products. Last year, we located Fourth of July deals on food, appliances, mattresses and more. Keep your eyes peeled for star-spangled savings.

» MORE: What to buy every month of the year

Skip: Back-to-school supplies

We know: While you’re working on your tan, school is the last thing you want to think about. And you don’t have to. Retailers begin their back-to-school sales as early as July, but you’ll save more if you don’t buy your backpack or laptop just yet. School-oriented deals historically reach their peak in late August and early September, when stores are more motivated to clear shelves.

In August 2016, for example, Best Buy offered up to $100 off select Dell computers. Carter’s took up to 50% off school apparel styles, and Wayfair dropped dorm supply prices by as much as 70%.

Buy: Summer apparel

By July, tank tops, shorts and flip-flops have been on display for several weeks — and in some cases, several months — so it’s finally time to stock up.

By this point of the season, don’t settle for anything less than a sale price on summer apparel. Look for storewide discount events and coupons specifically for clothing departments. Designer brand Coach, for instance, has already launched its Summer Sale, as have apparel and accessory shops Forever 21 and Old Navy. And July 21 marks the beginning of Nordstrom’s anniversary sale.

Skip: Lawn mowers

July isn’t an ideal time to purchase large, outdoor items, such as lawn mowers. After all, you aren’t the only one thinking about tending your yard, and higher demand traditionally means higher prices.

By the time August and September roll around, outdoor items will see steeper discounts, so hold off for another month or two.

Buy: Travel

July’s a great time to book your travel — as long as you’re planning a trip for later in the summer. On average, buying a flight for August travel will be 7% cheaper than buying one for July, according to a 2017 report of expected daily flight rates by, an online travel agency.

If you absolutely have to fly this month, CheapAir recommends traveling on Tuesdays and Wednesdays instead of weekends. And July 4 flights are expected to be more affordable than flights on the days before and after.

Bonus: Black Friday in July

If last year is any indication, expect Black Friday-esque deals this month in an assortment of categories, such as apparel and electronics. Retailers often offer these discounts in an attempt to boost typically sluggish summer sales — but they can also spell real savings for consumers.

Last year, Amazon hosted its second annual Prime Day on July 12, with limited-time deals on products across the site. Walmart, Target and Forever 21 have hosted Black Friday in July blowouts in past years.

Keep an eye out for similar midsummer blowout sales again this year. They could be a solid opportunity to buy things you’ve been holding off on for a while.

And … ice cream

July 16 is National Ice Cream Day. Use it as an excuse to indulge in your favorite flavor. If you work it right, you can get your cone on the house.

Last year, some ice cream shops offered free or discounted treats. PetSmart PetsHotel locations even gave dog-friendly ice cream to four-legged friends. You’ll usually be able to find promotional announcements and coupons on social media.

Courtney Jespersen is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: Twitter: @courtneynerd.

Updated June 23, 2017.

How to Split Insurance in a Divorce

Amid the grief and complicated logistics of breaking up, insurance may not be top of mind. But getting your coverage in order should be high on your to-do list. The right insurance creates a financial safety net for the fresh start ahead.

Here’s a breakdown of what to do.

Insurance checklist for a divorce Health insurance Get health insurance if you’ll lose coverage through divorce Make sure the kids are covered Car insurance Notify the insurance company if you’re moving during the separation Get separate policies when the cars are split up List teen drivers on one or both parents’ policies Home and renters insurance Maintain home insurance in both names as long as the house is jointly owned Moving to an apartment? Consider renters insurance Remove the ex-spouse’s name on home insurance if you become the sole owner Life insurance Change beneficiaries on life insurance policies if necessary Buy life insurance on a spouse who’s paying child support or alimony Disability insurance Buy disability insurance to cover your income Make sure an ex-spouse providing alimony or child support has disability insurance Health insurance

You can keep your health insurance. But if you’re a dependent on a spouse’s workplace plan, in most states you’ll have to start paying the full bill for that insurance. Or you’ll have to buy different coverage. (The kids can stay on either parent’s plan as dependents.)

What to do if you’re a dependent on a soon-to-be-ex-spouse’s health plan:

Option Good to know Enroll in a plan at your workplace. Employer likely pays most of the cost You can sign up outside the open enrollment period due to divorce Talk to the employee benefits department Keep the coverage through the ex-spouse’s workplace plan and pay for it. A federal law called COBRA lets you continue the coverage at your own expense for up to 36 months Talk to the ex-spouse’s employee benefits department about how to sign up for COBRA Be prepared for sticker shock. The premium can be high when the employer no longer pays. Buy a health plan on the government health insurance market. Go to for information Depending on your income, a tax break might be available to help pay the premium Buy a health plan outside of the health insurance marketplace. More plan choices are available when you buy directly from insurance companies No tax breaks are available to help pay the premium Low income? Check to see if you qualify for Medicaid. Eligibility varies by state Only those who meet low-income requirements qualify

“Health insurance is a big component of expenses that really need to be projected and thought through when someone is moving toward a divorce settlement,” says Cheryl Glazer, president of the Association of Divorce Financial Planners and a financial consultant in Philadelphia.

As you weigh health plan choices, understand the benefits of each and the out-of-pocket costs such as deductibles, copayments and coinsurance. Making apples-to-apples comparisons among health plans takes time, and you may need help, she says.

Where to find help choosing a health plan Buying a marketplace plan Check for the health insurance marketplace in your state Buying a health plan outside the marketplace Health insurance agent. Some agents sell coverage from a single company; others sell plans offered by a variety of companies. Signing up for coverage at work Your employer’s human resources or employee benefits department

» MORE: COBRA health insurance eligibility and alternatives

Auto insurance

Notify the insurance company about changes, such as moving during the separation. Car insurance rates are based in part on where the car is garaged. Once the property is divided, both ex-spouses will need their own car insurance policies.

“When buying a policy, look at the details that are behind the front page,” says Chris Chen, a certified financial planner with Insight FInancial Strategists in Waltham, Massachusetts. He is also treasurer of the Association of Divorce Financial Planners.

Teen drivers? Both parents may need to list the kids on their policies if they share custody. That’s because the teens will likely regularly drive both parents’ cars. Call the insurer to find out.

Home insurance

Some ex-spouses jointly own the family home after the divorce, usually to accommodate the kids until they finish school, Chen says. In that case, both should be listed on the home insurance policy. Contact the home insurance company to remove an ex-spouse if you become the sole owner.

Renting a new place? Consider buying renters insurance, which covers belongings and provides liability insurance. Even if you’re still named on the family home insurance policy, that coverage won’t extend to an apartment.

» MORE: Find the best renters insurance

Life insurance

Life insurance is often required in a divorce agreement when child support or alimony payments are involved. The life insurance replaces this money if the ex-spouse who makes the payments dies prematurely.

Buy individual life insurance rather than depending on group coverage through work, Chen says. Employer-sponsored life insurance typically ends when you leave a job, and it may not offer enough coverage anyway.

Chen says it’s best for the beneficiary to own the policy insuring the ex-spouse. The policy owner pays the premiums and has control over the policy. This way, you never have to worry about an ex-spouse “forgetting” to pay the premiums or changing the beneficiary.

Review beneficiaries on life insurance and other financial accounts, and change them if necessary.

» MORE: The best life insurance companies

Disability insurance

Disability insurance replaces a portion of income if you become disabled or sick and can’t work for an extended period. The coverage is important, but often overlooked, Chen says.

The chance of disability is higher than you might think:

  • A healthy 35-year-old man with an office job has about a 20% chance of becoming disabled for three months or longer during his career
  • A healthy 35-year-old woman office worker has about a 25% chance
  • The chances rise to 45% for the man and 41% for the woman if they smoke and are overweight, according to the Council for Disability Awareness, an insurance trade group

Back injuries, cancer and heart disease are common causes of long-term work absences. Some employers offer disability insurance, or you can buy individual coverage from an insurance company.

» MORE: Disability insurance explained

Barbara Marquand is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: Twitter: @barbaramarquand.

How to Untangle Your Finances in a Divorce

Financial decisions get complicated amid the emotional upheaval of a split. “So many people say, ‘Oh, it’s going to be an amicable divorce,’ and three months later, they are keying each other’s cars,” says Kitty Bressington, a certified divorce financial planner in Rochester, N.Y.

Don’t let your emotions derail your economic well-being. Here are three major areas where you’ll need to make clearheaded decisions — sometimes well before anyone visits a lawyer.

Credit accounts

First, make sure you have an independent credit identity, says money coach Patricia Stallworth, author of “How to Get Divorced Without Losing Your Blouse.” Pull your credit reports and understand every account: Is it solely your account, or a joint account, or are you an authorized user on your spouse’s account? If you have no individual credit accounts, apply now, while you can use joint income to qualify.

Before you divide accounts and balances due, Stallworth advises making a budget based on after-divorce income to see how much debt you can handle. It’s also smart to consult an attorney and a financial advisor familiar with your state’s laws on debt responsibility.

Existing credit accounts — credit cards, car loans and personal loans — can be handled three different ways:

Agree to pay off and close accounts now: Wipe out balances, then close joint accounts and remove each other as authorized users on individual accounts. This cuts out the risk that a spouse will run up charges or fail to pay debt as it’s divided later.

Agree to close now and pay off later: Close joint accounts and revoke authorized user privileges, but leave the balance to be addressed later in negotiations. This stops new charges, but you’re still at risk. Creditors aren’t bound by your divorce decree and may come after you for joint debt if your ex doesn’t pay as agreed. When splitting debt, consider insisting on a balance transfer of your ex’s portion to a new account in his or her name alone.

Do nothing: It is not illegal to leave an ex-spouse on a credit account — it’s just extremely risky.


Emily Doskow, an attorney in Oakland, California, wrote the “Essential Guide to Divorce” and has seen her share of testy property settlements. She says deciding what to do with a home comes down to three basic options:

One spouse buys the house from the other: Reaching an agreement on fair market value is just one step in the process. People may think they can just “take the selling spouse off the loan,” Doskow says. “Of course, the bank doesn’t want to do that. Because then one person is responsible for the loan that two people used to be responsible for.”

The usual answer, refinancing, can be a reality check: One spouse must be able to qualify for the loan. Even then, Doskow says, “there’s often a gap between the amount of the loan someone can qualify for and what payments they can actually make.”

You sell and divide the proceeds: The local market will determine the home’s value, reducing that source of dispute. The difficulty may be accepting the necessity. “I think it’s very common for people to be very attached to their home,” Doskow says. It’s a matter of “being realistic about what’s possible and knowing that sometimes selling is your path of least resistance.”

You continue as co-owners: This has a high level of difficulty. All contingencies — taxes, maintenance, what to do if either of you faces financial hardship — need to be spelled out in a co-ownership agreement as part of the divorce. “Essentially, the spouses are entering into a separate business relationship, post-marriage and post-divorce,” Doskow says. “So, it’s a real estate ownership contract, in some ways.”


Before you agree to any division, “it is really important for the receiving person to understand the nature of each investment,” says Lili Vasileff, a certified divorce financial analyst and president of Divorce and Money Matters, a practice specializing in wealth protection. Taxes and fees can make the true dollar value of an asset a lot lower than it looks on paper. Consider:

If the investment is right for you: If your spouse is the more aggressive investor, you might not choose to keep assets with that risk level. It’s generally better to sell before dividing the account. “If you … liquidate it after the fact, then you bear the entire tax impact,” Vasileff says. That capital gains tax bill could be a doozy.

The type of account: Assets in a qualified retirement plan — like a 401(k), 403(b) or pension plan — get preferential tax treatment. Splitting the money under a qualified domestic relations order, or QDRO, lets you keep that tax-favored status as long as you do a direct transfer; think IRA to IRA, or a rollover from a 401(k) into an IRA.

Fees for liquidating accounts: An investment firm may see divorce as a signal that it’s about to lose half of an account. To make up for lost business it may charge fees for outgoing transfers. These are sometimes negotiable, Vasileff says, or you may avoid fees by opening separate accounts at the firm.

Hal Bundrick, Bev O’Shea and Dayana Yochim are staff writers at NerdWallet. Email:, and

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