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54% of Arizona High School Students Didn’t Complete the FAFSA

More than half of Arizona high school students did not complete or submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid in the 2014 application cycle, according to a study by NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Arizona’s rate of incompletion is higher than the national FAFSA incompletion rate of 45%, among students in all states and Washington, D.C.

The FAFSA is needed to determine eligibility for financial aid. NerdWallet found that in 2014 more than 1.4 million high school students nationwide didn’t fill out the FAFSA. By not applying, students miss out on federal, state and school financial aid, including student loans, scholarships, work-study and grants. Nationwide, in the past academic year, students missed out on $2.7 billion in free grant money, while Arizona high school students missed out on $68.2 million.

Arizona students will soon have a chance to improve overall completion rates and claim more grant money. The new start date to fill out your FAFSA is Oct. 1, 2016, for the 2017-2018 school year, giving students the chance to find out about financial aid three months sooner than in previous years. The U.S. Department of Education encourages students to submit an application as soon as possible since many forms of aid can run out. The cutoff point to submit the FAFSA will be June 30, 2018, but states and schools will have their own deadlines.

This year you’ll be able to use “prior-prior year” tax information to apply — that means 2015 tax info, not 2016. Use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool to automatically transfer tax information to your form. To speed up the process, make sure you have all other materials you’ll need to apply. You’ll also be asked to choose up to 10 schools that you want to receive your student aid report. You can do this by using codes found through the federal school code search tool or on each school’s website.

You can file your application online at fafsa.ed.gov. Before you apply, learn more details about the changes to this year’s FAFSA.

Anna Helhoski is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: anna@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @AnnaHelhoski.

37% of California High School Students Didn’t Complete the FAFSA

More than one-third of California high school students did not complete or submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid in the 2014 application cycle, according to a study by NerdWallet, a personal finance website. California’s rate of incompletion is lower than the national FAFSA incompletion rate of 45%, among students in all states and Washington, D.C.

The FAFSA is needed to determine eligibility for financial aid. NerdWallet found that in 2014 more than 1.4 million high school students nationwide didn’t fill out the FAFSA. By not applying, students miss out on federal, state and school financial aid, including student loans, scholarships, work-study and grants. Nationwide, in the past academic year, students missed out on $2.7 billion in free grant money, while California high school students missed out on $342.4 million.

The California Student Aid Commission has a strong commitment to promoting FAFSA filings, and application completions for the California Dream Act and California Chafee Grant Program for foster youth. As the Oct. 1 start day looms, the commission is “fully engaged” in its early FAFSA campaign across the state, according to Patti Colston, a spokesperson for the commission, which helps up to 50,000 families complete applications. The commission runs hundreds of locally organized California Cash for College workshops annually to help families file for aid.

California students will soon have a chance to further increase overall completion rates and claim more grant money. The new start date to fill out your FAFSA is Oct. 1, 2016, for the 2017-2018 school year, giving students the chance to find out about financial aid three months sooner than in previous years. The U.S. Department of Education encourages students to submit an application as soon as possible since many forms of aid can run out. The cutoff point to submit the FAFSA will be June 30, 2018, but states and schools will have their own deadlines.

This year you’ll be able to use “prior-prior year” tax information to apply — that means 2015 tax info, not 2016. Use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool to automatically transfer tax information to your form. To speed up the process, make sure you have all other materials you’ll need to apply. You’ll also be asked to choose up to 10 schools that you want to receive your student aid report. You can do this by using codes found through the federal school code search tool or on each school’s website.

You can file your application online at fafsa.ed.gov. Before you apply, learn more details about the changes to this year’s FAFSA.

Anna Helhoski is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: anna@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @AnnaHelhoski.

53% of Texas High School Students Didn’t Complete the FAFSA

More than half of Texas high school students did not complete or submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid in the 2014 application cycle, according to a study by NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Texas’s rate of incompletion is higher than the national FAFSA incompletion rate of 45%, among students in all states and Washington, D.C.

The FAFSA is needed to determine eligibility for financial aid. NerdWallet found that in 2014 more than 1.4 million high school students nationwide didn’t fill out the FAFSA. By not applying, students miss out on federal, state and school financial aid, including student loans, scholarships, work-study and grants. Nationwide, in the past academic year, students missed out on $2.7 billion in free grant money, while Texas high school students missed out on $327.8 million.

“Many are unaware this money can be for them,” says Jerel Booker, assistant commissioner for theTexas Higher Education Coordinating Board’s Division of College Readiness and Success. It’s an educational process, says Booker, to ensure that all students and families know what FAFSA could do for them, especially those most in need. Nearly 60% of students are economically disadvantaged in Texas, which has the second largest statewide population in the country.

The state has worked hard for it’s completion numbers, ensuring nearly half of its students apply for FAFSA, says Booker. This year, high schools are being challenged to increase rates of both college applications and FAFSA applications by 4%.

The commission’s Generation Texas initiative aims to help students of all ages and backgrounds get excited about going to college through social media campaigns, localized and regional events and devoting the entire month of November to promoting college applications and FAFSA completion. Another program, Advise Texas College Advising Corps, is aimed especially at ensuring low-income, first-generation or otherwise underrepresented students achieve postsecondary education. These efforts support statewide goals of ensuring 60% of Texans ages 25-34 have a postsecondary degree or certificate by 2030.

“We’re curious to see how the new FAFSA filing date will impact how we do business,” adds Booker. “We think it might be positive, but we won’t know for sure until this time next year.”

Texas students will soon have a chance to improve overall completion rates and claim more grant money. The new start date to fill out your FAFSA is Oct. 1, 2016, for the 2017-2018 school year, giving students the chance to find out about financial aid three months sooner than in previous years. The U.S. Department of Education encourages students to submit an application as soon as possible since many forms of aid can run out. The cutoff point to submit the FAFSA will be June 30, 2018, but states and schools will have their own deadlines.

This year you’ll be able to use “prior-prior year” tax information to apply — that means 2015 tax info, not 2016. Use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool to automatically transfer tax information to your form. To speed up the process, make sure you have all other materials you’ll need to apply. You’ll also be asked to choose up to 10 schools that you want to receive your student aid report. You can do this by using codes found through the federal school code search tool or on each school’s website.

You can file your application online at fafsa.ed.gov. Before you apply, learn more details about the changes to this year’s FAFSA.

Anna Helhoski is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: anna@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @AnnaHelhoski.

Freddie Mac Announces New Risk-Sharing Program

MoneyTips

Freddie Mac announced on Monday, September 26, that it would launch a new program to help reduce the risk it takes on various mortgages. The program will transfer backing to several private mortgage insurance companies. The loans included in this pilot program are those that were acquired by Freddie Mac starting September 1, 2016, and ending February 28, 2017. These loans must meet specific criteria to be shared among the private mortgage insurers (PMI). The program aims to share $100 million of financial backing on mortgages worth almost $4 billion. This amount is less than what many PMI companies had expected. Since discussion of the program, many PMI executives petitioned the Federal Housing Finance Agency (

Help! A Payday Debt Collector Says I Owe them Money, But It's Not On My Credit Report

Yes, there’s such a thing as phantom debt collectors. And, yes, you can get contacted about a payday loan debt you simply don’t owe. Just ask intrepid consumer reporter Bob Sullivan, who received his very own debt collection note after simply reaching out to a payday loan company (and alleged phantom debt collector) for a story.

But if you have taken out a payday loan before and you’re genuinely confused about whether you completely addressed that debt, we have a bit of bad news: you can’t simply take the debt’s absence from your credit report as a sign you don’t have to pay.

For starters, payday lenders don’t typically report to major credit bureaus, like Experian, according to the bureau’s Director of Public Education, Rod Griffin.

In other words, there’s a chance the original loan never made it onto the traditional credit reports you can get for free each year via AnnualCreditReport.com. But that doesn’t mean you don’t owe the purported balance.

“Any debt you enter into contractually you are obligated to repay, even if it doesn’t appear in a credit report,” Griffin said, and ignoring a legitimate debt could have serious consequences.

“If you do not fulfill the terms of the contract, the payday lending company could send the unpaid amount to a collection agency, that could then report the debt to a credit reporting company,” he said. “Another possibility is that the payday lender could file a civil lawsuit to recover the debt. A judgment resulting from a civil lawsuit could also appear in a credit report.”

Something else to note: not all debt collectors report to the credit bureaus either. In fact, it’s not unheard of for some agencies to try to collect on the debt before taking that type of adverse action in an effort to get a debtor to pay. So, again, it’s totally possible for a legitimate debt collection account to simply not appear on your credit file as soon as you start getting calls.

So What’s a Confused Consumer to Do?

Whether you’re sure you owe or not, it’s important to ask whoever is contacting you for written verification of the debt they allege you owe. In fact, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) requires that collectors provide this notice listing the amount of money and the name of the original creditor within five days of contact. Tip-offs that you are dealing with a debt collection scammer include their refusal to provide this type or verification, threats of arrest and a request for payment via less traceable methods, like a wire transfer or prepaid card.

If you discover the debt is legitimate, it still pays to know your rights. Yes, collectors can try to get you to pay money you do owe, but there are restrictions on how they can go about this. For instance, they can’t call too early, too late, use abusive language or make dire threats. (You can learn more about your debt collection rights here.) You can always contact a consumer attorney if you think a debt collector may be stepping over the line.

Settling Debts

Remember, if you do, in fact, owe what they say, it may be a good idea to try to work out a payment plan before the collector pursues further action, like a lawsuit. 

Collection accounts that do appear on your credit report will affect your credit — and unpaid collections can do more damage than paid ones. (You can see how collection accounts may be affecting your credit by viewing your free credit scores, updated each month, on Credit.com.) Tips for negotiating with collectors or creditors include explaining clearly what you can afford, taking written notes whenever you talk to a collector and getting written confirmation once you agree to a plan.

If a collection account that you don’t owe makes its way onto your credit report, you can dispute its appearance with the major reporting agencies.

Image: Jacob Ammentorp Lund

Related Articles

This article originally appeared on Credit.com.

Want a Great Credit Score? Here's a Trick You Might Want to Try

Building good credit can be annoyingly tedious in that it can take years to get right — and it only takes one wrong move to destroy. Other than doing everything you can to avoid a huge blow to your credit, like a late payment or debt collection account, the best way to build a good credit score is wait for all your good behavior, like making on-time loan payments, to add up to a long, healthy credit history.

For those of you who aren’t so patient, there are some things you can do for short-term results. Here’s how your credit card can be the key to rapid change in your credit score.

How Credit Cards Affect Your Credit

One of the biggest factors in determining credit scores is something called your credit utilization rate (how much of your available credit you’re using). To have a good credit score, credit scoring companies recommend you keep the amount of debt you owe collectively and on individual cards below 30%, or even under 10%, of your credit limits if you can.

But really, the ideal credit utilization rate is 0%, according to a recent post from credit scoring company VantageScore. Of course, if you don’t use your credit cards, you can achieve that 0% utilization rate, but you also run the risk of your credit card issuer closing your account because of inactivity. Don’t be discouraged: There’s a way around that.

The Trick: How to Keep Your Credit Utilization Rate at Zero

Your credit card issuers may not tell you exactly when they report your account activity to the credit bureaus, but VantageScore says “credit card issuers generally report your statement balance to the credit reporting companies.” If that’s the case, you would need your statement balance on each credit card to be $0 to have the lowest-possible credit utilization rate. To do that, you would need to make your credit card payments before your statement closing date.

If you can pay your credit card bills in full by the due date, that might not be such a tall order. (You can find your statement closing date listed on your statement or on your credit card account summary.) By paying your credit card before the statement closing date as opposed to its due date, your statement balance should be reported as $0.

“[A] zero balance on your statement should soon equate to a zero balance on your credit reports, which is fantastic for your credit scores,” VantageScore says on its website.

Just make sure you can afford to employ a trick like this. Pay close attention to your credit card spending, your bank account balances and the timing of any other bills you need to pay. The last thing you want is to pay your credit card bill early for the sake of boosting your credit score only to leave you without enough money for a monthly loan payment, which could trigger late fees and a late-payment mark on your credit report. You can see how managing your credit card payments and other credit accounts affects your credit standing by getting a free credit report summary every 30 days on Credit.com.

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This article originally appeared on Credit.com.

3 Credit Cards That Can Help You Buy an Engagement Ring

If you’re ready to make a big commitment to your partner, you may be considering doing so with a shiny ring in hand. While this is exciting, there’s a lot to consider.

Ideally, you’ve been thinking about this for a while and have set aside some funds so you can pay for the ring in full. Not only would this mean you’re paying with money you truly have, but it would mean you’d also avoid interest fees or going into debt. However, this ideal isn’t always the reality, so it’s important to consider your other options before meeting with a jeweler.

Think about what it is you want in a ring and then shop around at different stores to get an idea of the prices. You may also want to inquire about what each store offers in terms of store credit cards or other financing options, because some of these may be competitive with what you’d find on regular cards.

If you do decide to go with a major credit card to buy your engagement ring, here are some options. (Before applying for any of these, it’s a good idea to know where your credit stands, as it will be reviewed as part of the application process. You can see a snapshot of your credit reports for free, updated every 14 days, on Credit.com.)

1. Citi Simplicity

The City Simplicity credit card offers an introductory 0% annual percentage for the first 21 months, giving you almost two years to pay off the ring without racking up any interest charges. The card comes with no late fees or annual fees. If this is the card you choose, it’s a good idea to make sure the ring is paid off before those 21 months are up, or else you’ll be hit with a variable 13.24% — 23.24% APR, depending on your creditworthiness.

2. Chase Freedom Unlimited

The Chase Freedom Unlimited credit card not only allows you to have interest-free payments for the first 15 months, but it also rewards you for your spending. You’ll earn a $150 bonus after you spend $500 in the first three months after opening your account and 1.5% cash back on every purchase. There is no annual fee associated with this card and your rewards never expire, as long as you keep your account open. Remember: the APR will increase to 14.24% – 23.24% (based on creditworthiness) after the introductory period ends.

3. Discover it Chrome

With the Discover it Chrome credit card, you’ll receive 1% on all purchases, except at gas stations and restaurants, where you’ll earn 2% back on up to $1,000 combined purchases every quarter. Plus, the card matches the cash rewards you’ve earned the first year of having it. The Discover it Chrome card comes with no annual fee and a 0% introductory APR for 12 months (increases to 11.24% — 23.24% variable APR, based on creditworthiness after this time).

Note: It’s important to remember that interest rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products frequently change. As a result, rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products cited in these articles may have changed since the date of publication. Please be sure to verify current rates, fees and terms with credit card issuers, banks or other financial institutions directly.

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This article originally appeared on Credit.com.

Thursday is National Coffee Day. Here's Where to Get Cheap or Free Joe

What’s better than a delicious, hot cup of coffee in the morning? How ’bout a free cup of delicious, hot coffee?

Thursday is National Coffee Day, and that means you’ve got a pretty good chance of getting a free or discounted cuppa joe at your favorite local coffee house. Here are some of the places we’ve confirmed that are offering specials to celebrate all things coffee, but not all companies had announced at the time of this writing. So, by all means, give your local coffee shop a call and see what kind of specials they might be offering.

Krispy Kreme

Krispy Kreme stores around the country are doing customers a solid this Thursday, offering not just a free, small cup of coffee, but also a glazed glob of doughnut deliciousness to go along with it. And no, there’s no purchase required to get your caffeine and sugar fix. If that can’t make your Thursday feel like Friday Eve, it might be best to just spend the day in bed.

Dunkin’ Donuts

Dunkin’ Donuts is celebrating not only National Coffee Day, but also its 66th year of being in business by offering guests a medium-sized cup of hot coffee for just 66 cents.

Starbucks

Starbucks isn’t giving away free coffee drinks this year. The company is instead helping to secure the future for coffee farmers in need by donating a coffee tree for every brewed cup of México Chiapas coffee purchased on Thursday.

McDonald’s

Likewise, McDonald’s hasn’t made an announcement of any free or discounted coffee being available, but McDonald’s restaurants in the Philadelphia area will be donating 100% of Thursday’s proceeds for drip coffee sales to Covenant House Pennsylvania and Covenant House New Jersey, the region’s largest shelter specializing in serving homeless youth.

Boyer’s Coffee

This Denver favorite is throwing a party in celebration of National Coffee Day, from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. The store will feature free coffee stations, 50% off specialty beverages, lunchtime food trucks, contests, music and more.

Remember, on days other than this Thursday, if you want to save money on everyday essentials like coffee, it’s a good idea to brew it yourself at home. The savings can add up to a substantial sum that you could put into a retirement account or emergency fund, or even use to pay down debt. Doing so can really improve your credit standing. You can see how your debt is affecting your credit by tracking your free credit report summary, updated every 14 days, on Credit.com.

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This article originally appeared on Credit.com.

14 Amazon Shopping Hacks

Almost everyone knows what Amazon is, even if they don’t shop online. The company has achieved enviable brand recognition and become the go-to site for online shoppers. If you are an Amazon shopper, you may think you know all there is to know about the site, but there are many lesser-known tips, tricks and benefits of which you may not be aware.

Since I mention Amazon Prime several times throughout this piece, I wanted to note that, for the uninitiated, Amazon Prime is an annual membership that, for $99 per year ($49 for students), grants members free unlimited two-day shipping, music and video streaming, among other things. Now, let’s get into what you may not know.

1. Cash in Those Gift Cards

You probably have Visa or MasterCard gift cards laying around with balances too low to shop with. Instead of leaving them in a drawer, transfer the balances (50 cents or above) to Amazon. It’s a wee bit tricky, but here’s how to do it: Proceed as if you were buying an Amazon gift card (or click on “Reload Your Balance”), choose “enter amount” instead of clicking on one of the set quantity boxes, and enter the gift card account number as the payment method. Bingo — you now have Amazon credit to shop with.

2. Choose No-Rush Shipping

If you’re a Prime member who doesn’t need your order lickety-split, forgo the free two-day shipping to score a credit toward a free digital download. You can rack up those credits and get that album you’ve had your eye on — free.

3. Don’t Ignore Warehouse Deals …

If you turn up your nose at the open-box and pre-owned items in Amazon’s Warehouse Deals section, you may be missing out on a great bargain. The discounts can be substantial, and you have 30 days to decide whether what you’ve received is a keeper.

4. … or Amazon’s Outlet

The Outlet is kind of like the clearance rack in your favorite store. It’s hit or miss, but these are items that Amazon is trying to clear out, so the discounts can be great (from 20% to 80%).

5. Enroll in Prime Student

If you’re in school, enjoy free two-day shipping for six months through the Prime Student program. If you want all the other benefits that come with Prime, you can then snag a Prime membership for 50% off after a six-month trial period.

6. Give to Charity

Why not give back while you shop? Courtesy of AmazonSmile, 0.5% of eligible Amazon Prime purchases can be donated to the participating charity or school of your choice.

7. Fill ‘Er Up

If you are not a Prime member, sometimes it’s a challenge to get your order to that $35 free shipping threshold without going way over. The Filler Item finder provides low-cost suggestions to help you get there.

8. Hold Onto Damaged Merchandise

If something you’ve ordered arrives in less-than-perfect condition, Amazon will replace it through their Online Returns Center and may not require you to send it back, especially if it’s inexpensive. And if the item is salvageable, you’ve scored! Let’s say you receive a bottle of household cleaner with a faulty pump. You can just hang on to it and switch the pump once you’ve finished the replacement.

9. Join Amazon Family 

Expecting moms and parents who are also Amazon Prime members can get 20% off Subscribe & Save diapers with the Amazon Family program. There’s also a 15% discount on all baby registry gifts within 60 days of your due date.

10. Take Advantage of Late Deliveries

You usually get your packages on time with your Prime Membership, but if there’s a time that you don’t, let them know. It’s very likely they will offer you something, like a credit to your account or an extension of your Prime membership.

11. Try Subscribe & Save

Subscribe & Save users can receive up to 15% off their items and free shipping. I use Subscribe & Save for my toilet paper, paper towels and a few different vitamins, and the price is definitely right. Before subscribing, do your homework and compare prices with your price club and grocery/drug stores. I like how you can specify when you want items to ship, so your essentials arrive right when you need them. One less thing to think about!

12. Use Promo Codes & Coupons

Amazon does promo codes and coupons too. If you’re shopping for groceries on Amazon, be on the lookout for coupons and codes that can be applied to your purchase. They are typically on the main product page, and once you’ve clicked on them, they will appear in your cart.

13. Save an Extra 5%

You may not feel like you need another credit card — and you may not — but with the Amazon Store Card, Prime Members can get 5% back on all purchases. Like other store cards, the annual percentage rate (APR) is not fabulous, so if you go for this card, plan to pay it off every month. Otherwise, the 5% reward will be meaningless. (Not sure whether you can qualify for the credit card? You can view a free snapshot of your credit report, updated every two weeks, on Credit.com.)

14. Watch for Lower Prices

You may have noticed that Amazon has pretty fluid pricing. If you see that something you purchased sold by Amazon LLC has dropped in price, Amazon will usually honor the lower price by giving you a credit or gift card. Live chat seems to be a reliable way to get this done. A good way to keep track of Amazon pricing in general is with CamelCamelCamel price tracker.

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This article originally appeared on Credit.com.

How to Fight With Your Boss Without Losing Your Job

No matter how great things are going at work, there may come a time when you and your boss disagree and tempers start to flare. How you handle the situation could greatly impact your future with your employer or even your long-term career prospects.

While you may want to get exceptionally angry at your boss, that’s not the recommended course of action. If you’re angry with your boss, remember to use your words (carefully). When you and your boss are engaged in a heated discussion, tread cautiously. Here are some tips on how to constructively fight with your boss.

1. Don’t Turn Into the Hulk

Now is not the time to turn over chairs and throw desk ornaments across the room. If there was ever a time to stay cool, calm and collected, it’s right now. Keep your temper in check and try your best to calmly discuss things. A shouting match will only escalate the argument. And if things get really out of hand, you run the risk of not only getting written up for being disruptive but also being escorted off the premises by security — meaning you can probably say buh-bye to your job at that point.

The key here is not to suppress your anger, but work through it. Donald Gibson, co-author of Managing Anger in the Workplace, said that while it is OK to express anger, it is best to do so in a respectful way.

“The key to managing anger is creating conditions in which anger can be expressed appropriately and productively … anger can be a source of important data that should be recognized, processed and acted upon. When effectively managed, anger can produce many positive results,” Gibson said in his book.

2. Watch Your Words

In your head, you might be calling your boss every nasty name you can think of, but don’t verbalize these thoughts. Name-calling is a no-no. Also be careful not to start screaming; you won’t get your point across by raising your voice. While you may want to defend yourself and argue your case, it’s important to stay clear-headed. Leadership expert Annie McKee said it can be tempting to give into the urge to aggressively defend your case during a fight with someone more powerful, but it’s important to remember who you’re communicating with and the impact your actions could have on your career.

“It’s tiresome, really, but we can’t help ourselves. It feels like a fight to the death. That’s because fighting with a powerful person — like a boss — sparks a deep, primal response: fear. After all, these people hold our lives in their hands — the keys to our futures, not to mention our daily bread,” McKee said in her Harvard Business Review column.

3. Don’t Play the Blame Game

When things start to get heated, resist the urge to blame. This will make your boss more defensive and might cause him to shut down your discussion prematurely. You can steer clear of appearing to blame by starting your sentences with “I” instead of “you.” Using “you” statements can make your boss feel like they’re being attacked, and they are more likely to fight back even harder.

4. Document the Fight

Become an expert note-taker. Your ability to clearly document what happened between you and your supervisor could save your job if human resources gets involved (and they probably will). Depending on what you and your supervisor were arguing about, it will be important to document exactly what took place. Take a moment to write down the issue you were discussing and what each of you said. If your boss became physically or verbally abusive, document that as well.

5. Have an Exit Strategy Ready

No matter how well you follow all the “rules” for fighting fairly, you could still get fired. Some supervisors don’t like to be challenged, so if you happen to get under their skin, you could be sent home packing. It’s unfair, but it’s a reality you’ll need to be prepared for, McKee said in her column.

Conflict with one’s boss usually backfires. That’s because our many cultures place huge value in the official hierarchy: The higher you are, the more ‘right’ you are assumed to be —especially by people even higher up. It is a self-perpetuating system that respects and rewards people by virtue of their level in the organization, not their behavior. This means that you can lose a battle with your boss — in his eyes and others’ — even before you start. So, if you must fight, be sure you have a strategy to protect yourself from the fallout.

If you notice emotions are still running high and your boss is acting cold toward you in the days and weeks after your argument, it might be time to look for another job. Chances are, when it comes down to the two of you, upper management is more likely to take your boss’s side. So dust off that resume, talk to your network and make your job hunt a priority.

(Editor’s Note: Some employers look at a version of your credit report as part of the application process, so it’s a good idea to take a look at yours before you apply. You can see your free credit report summary on Credit.com.)

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This article originally appeared on Credit.com.

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