Your credit score is the key to not only getting approved for credit but also how much you pay for it. In some cases the higher your credit score, the lower your credit card or loan annual percentage rate will be. Some factors that affect your credit score are out of your control. Others are not, so here are four tips for improving your credit score fast.
Fix Errors Fast
Banks, credit card companies, mortgage companies, and other lenders do make errors when reporting your credit data. That’s why it’s important to regularly get and review your credit report. By law, you can get a free credit report once a year from each of the three main credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. Every four months order a report from one of the bureaus and start the cycle over the next year. If you find any errors, notify the company responsible for reporting it immediately.
Maximize Your Available Credit
Many people will tell you to close all but one or two of your credit accounts. Otherwise, it looks like you have a ton of credit card debt. Don’t listen to them. Your credit utilization ratio is one factor that contributes to your credit score. It’s based on how much of your available credit you’re using. If you have several credit cards with little or no balance on them, your credit utilization ratio decreases. In turn, your credit score increases. So, keep your accounts but pay off or pay down your balances.
Monitor Your Credit Limits
Reaching or exceeding your credit limits on your revolving credit accounts brings down your credit score. A credit card company might raise your credit limit but fail to notify the credit bureaus. Once you begin using that additional credit, it might appear to the credit bureaus that you’re exceeding your available credit and that will lower your credit score. If a company increases your credit limit, check your credit bureau reports and ensure they reflect the correct credit limit. If they don’t, call the company and have them send an update. Then confirm the correction was made when you get your next free credit report.
Protect Your Identity
Identity theft can wreck all the hard work you’ve done in improving your credit score. That’s why it’s so important to check your credit bureau reports on a regular basis. If your credit score is suddenly much lower than the last time you received one but your credit history hasn’t significantly change, identity theft might be the root cause. Many financial institutions, credit companies, and insurance companies offer identity theft insurance. You might want to check on rates and take advantage of the protection.
Keep in mind that a clerical error at the credit bureau can also create an issue. Someone could very easily have mistyped your social security number. That mistyped social security number might be valid and belong to someone who has a poor credit history. Check your identifying information on your report before assuming identity theft.
Once you improve your credit score, it’s a matter of maintaining your good credit and enjoying the benefits it provides.
It’s that time of year again – time to buy school clothes, gear, and supplies. As you know from previous years, you can spend a fortune on everything kids need. Here are eight tips on how to save money during this year’s back to school shopping.Watch for end of summer sales
Today’s kids wear shorts, tee shirts, and polo shirts throughout the year – even in the dead of winter. So look for these items at the big end of summer sales and buy them at discounted prices.
Stick to the teacher’s supply list
There’s quite a lot on the supply list you receive from school, so don’t waste money on items not on the list. One way to save is to buy school supplies when they’re on sale at your grocery store. Check the weekly sales paper for pens, notebooks, loose-leaf paper, and other basics. Save time and gas money by buying your groceries and school supplies at the same place.
Hold a back to school swap
Some kids don’t mind wearing used clothing as long as the garments are new to them. Host a back to school swap where families bring gently worn items to trade with one another.
You can save a lot when you plan lunch menus. See what lunch items are on sale at your grocery store each week and plan lunches around them. If ham is on sale at the deli one week, buy it instead of another deli meat.
Make them stand out
It’s inevitable that school supplies will go missing. Here are some ideas to prevent loss. Buy bright backpacks and pencil pouches or boxes that stand out from other kids’ gear. Get plain white or black 3-ring binders and let your children decorate them with personal photos. Kids love the art project and personalized items are less likely to disappear.
Shop at places that rotate merchandise often
You can find great deals at clothing stores that rotate their merchandise often. Some stores that do this are Old Navy, Gap Kids, and The Children’s Place. These three stores and many others will refund you the difference if an item goes on sale within 14 days of the date you purchased it. All you have to do is bring in the receipt to get your refund.
Visit Craiglist and shop for clothes. You’ll find some great deals on gently worn items. You can also sell items. Why not make some cash on brand-name outfits that your kids no longer want to wear?
Hold off on buying gear
Have your children use last year’s backpack and lunch box for the first week of school, so they can see what the trends are. If you buy gear before school starts, your kids may want something completely different after they see what all the other kids are using.
Back to school shopping doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Use these great ideas and save! What tips have worked for you?
Understanding how to manage your money is important to your financial success. However, most people don’t learn the basics of personal finance in school. Those who do probably forget most of what they’re taught before getting their first “real” jobs. Here are four personal finance tips that will help you live comfortably now and in the future no matter what age you are.
Use Self Control
Impulse buying is a temptation everyone falls victim to every now and then. Credit cards and loans make it easy to buy something as soon as you want it instead of saving for it. That’s not to say that buying on credit is always a bad thing. Most people can’t afford to buy a car or a house without getting a loan. For everything else, ask yourself whether you really need it. “Do I really need this new pair of shoes? Am I willing to pay interest on the latest and greatest tablet when my current one works just fine?” Credit card spending is a bad habit to get into unless you can pay your bill in full each month. Otherwise, you may be paying for the items you purchase with your credit cards for several years.
Here’s a trick I used for many years. I would ask myself if I would take out a loan for this purchase. The answer was usually “no” — especially when I was going out to eat. But when you use a credit card for your purchases, that’s exactly what you’re doing. The next time you reach for your credit card when buying a sandwich ask yourself if it’s worth taking out a loan with a high interest rate.
Take Control of Your Finances
Many people are intimidated by financial matters, so they consult with others for advice. Some people get great advice. Others don’t. Some fall victim to financial advisors only interested in making a buck. Some fall victim to well-intentioned Uncle Henry who made his fortune 50 years ago but isn’t in touch with today’s financial realities.
Take control of your finances and read a few books from reputable personal finance authors. How do you find reputable authors? Do some online research. Many contributors to Money, Fortune, and other reputable financial websites have written books. Avoid authors who write about “getting rich quick.”
I have heard a lot of great things about Dave Ramsey’s book, Total Money Makeover. You can buy a copy direct from his site here.
Start an Emergency Fund
“Pay yourself first” is something most financial planners advise. No matter what you owe to others, create an emergency fund and put some money it every month. It doesn’t matter how much. Budgeting a specific amount from each paycheck is the best way to build your emergency fund.
Your emergency fund will help you pay for large, unexpected expenses instead of relying on credit cards or loans. Saving for emergencies will help you save in general. Soon you’ll find yourself saving for vacations, a new home, or even retirement. Remember, no one asks for disaster, but things happen. Better off being prepared.
Guard Your Health and Wealth
Rising medical costs are certainly making insurance premiums higher, but think about how much a trip to the ER could cost you. That broken arm might cost you thousands that you don’t have and put you at risk financially. Take a little time to determine how much health and medical insurance you need and shop around for the best rate. Then take care of yourself. Eat healthy and get regular exercise.
Once you’ve protected yourself, protect your assets. Be sure you have renters or homeowners insurance. Don’t forget about disability insurance which will protect you if you’re unable to earn income. Many companies offer disability insurance to their employees at a minimal rate through payroll deduction. Find out if your employer offers it and take advantage of it.
I learned the value of these benefits after my motorcycle accident. I was very fortunate that my employer offered this type of coverage because I was able to pay my bills while I was recuperating.
What tips or advice would you offer?
Time management is one of the most underrated skills a person can have. With the right time management skills, you can prioritize your daily tasks, remain better organized, and achieve your short- and long-term goals more successfully. Without proper time management, you may find yourself missing deadlines and feeling stressed or overwhelmed.
Here’s some advice.
Keep a Meticulous Daily Planner
Whether it’s a physical planner or a digital one on your computer or phone, keeping a detailed daily planner is a must. Planners are great not only for keeping track of deadlines and appointments, but for tracking your short- and long-term goals as well. If you’re thinking of going the digital route, look into options that will sync across your devices (work computer, personal laptop, smartphone, etc.) so you’re never without the information you need.
I’ve been using CultureCode’s “Things” app for Mac and iOS. It’s an app I use every day and would be lost without it. I can keep track of multiple projects as well as simple tasks. You can also schedule repeating tasks daily, weekly, monthly or annually if need be. It all seamlessly backs up to the cloud and syncs to all of my devices. It’s on the pricey side, but I find it to be well worth it. You can learn more here.
Know How to Prioritize Your “To-Do” List
Sometimes, simply writing down a “to-do” list isn’t enough. Although I’m a big fan of digital tools, I occasionally create a to-do list on paper. When you’ve got a lot to do and not a lot of time, being able to prioritize tasks is a must-have time-management skill. Begin by writing down a list of everything you need to get done (whether it’s for the day, for the week, or for the month). Working off that list, number each item in order of due date, importance, and amount of time required. This will help you prioritize what needs to be worked on first and what can maybe wait until later. This has helped me really focus on what “needs” to be done instead of what I “want” to get done.
Recognize and Avoid Time-Wasters
Finally, learn to identify your daily time-wasters and find ways to avoid them during your workday. Social media is a huge time-waster and productivity-killer for many. If this applies to you, consider installing a browser blocker app or plug-in that will prevent you from visiting your known time-wasting sites (like Facebook or Twitter) during your dedicated work hours. You’d be amazed at what a difference this can make in the way you use your time throughout the day. It doesn’t take much to find yourself down a huge rabbit hole.
Learning how to better manage your time is a lot easier than you may think. Try implementing these tips in your work day to see just how much more productive you can be and how you can make better use of your precious time.
How are you managing your time?