Credit Myth: There is only ONE FICO score

Have you recently experienced a bankruptcy?  Do you have some late payments or collection accounts showing up on your credit history?  If you answered yes to either of these questions, you are probably trying to figure out how to rebuild your credit.  In order to do this, you will have to work towards increasing your credit score.  And to achieve a higher credit score, you must not be fooled into believing the credit myth that there is only one FICO score.

This post has been sponsored by Lexington Law.  All opinions are mine alone and are honestly conveyed. 

 Trying to rapair your credit and increase your score? Make Sure that you focus on all three credit bureaus and don't be fooled by the Credit Myth: There's Only One FICO Score // #creditmyth #creditmythbuster #FICOscore #creditscore #lexingtonlaw

You have more than one FICO score

Creditors use your FICO score to evaluate the risk of extending credit to you.  But your credit score isn’t just one number—you actually have three credit scores.  There are three different credit bureaus: Transunion, Experian, and Equifax. These agencies receive information about you from your current creditors and assemble that information into a credit risk score. Some creditors send and receive information from only one credit bureau, some use all three. Each credit bureau only uses the information—both positive and negative—that is supplied to it by the creditors that utilize that particular bureau.  So it is quite important to know what is reporting to each bureau and work to make sure that all information that is reporting is accurate and updated—to not just one bureau, but all three.

FICO score vs. credit score

FICO is an acronym used to represent the Fair Isaac Corporation—the company that creates the credit scores that the vast majority of creditors use to evaluate creditworthiness.  So, a FICO score is basically a synonymous term, interchangeably used with the term credit score.  A credit score is a number ranging from 300-850, which indicates your future credit risk.  FICO calculates the credit risk based on historical patterns of creditworthiness.  Creditors will use this number to determine if they will to lend to you, the maximum amount that they will lend to you, and at what rate they will lend to you.

How is a credit score calculated?

Each bureau has slightly different information that they use in order to calculate your credit score.  While each bureau may be utilizing the same formula created by Fair Isaac Corporation to produce a score, keep in mind that not all creditors report to every bureau, so the information that each bureau is using will likely generate a small range of scores.  However, they all use the same basic credit components to calculate your score:

  • Payment history
  • Level of debt, as compared to available credit
  • Number of open accounts
  • Type of accounts
  • Length of credit history
  • Number of recent credit inquiries

Why do I need to worry about all 3 credit scores?

Not all creditors report to all three of the credit bureaus, likewise, not all creditors check all three bureaus when they are evaluating your creditworthiness.  While a mortgage lender may use a tri-merge credit report and obtain information from all three credit bureaus during their approval process, a creditor for a smaller amount, such as a credit card company, may only look at a single credit bureau when determining your risk level.  Because you likely won’t know ahead of time which bureau the credit will be using to obtain your score, nor will you have a choice in which one they will use, it is important to know what each of your scores are and make sure that each bureau has updated and accurate information to reflect the highest score possible.

Because some lenders only look at one bureau, they may not be seeing the entire picture of your credit history.  For instance, if you have one credit card that has a late payment history or collection accounts that are only reporting to one of the bureaus, your FICO score generated by that credit agency may be quite a bit lower than your other two credit scores.  So if that happens to be the bureau that your new creditor is using to review your creditworthiness, you may end up with a lower credit line and a higher rate than you’d like—or even deserve.

Understand how your credit score impacts your monthly bills

Your credit score will have an influence on the rates that you qualify for when obtaining financing.  So when you apply for a new credit card, auto loan, or a mortgage, creditors base the programs and rates that they offer to you on your credit score.  If you have a high credit score, you are going to qualify for a lower rate, which will give you lower monthly payments.  If your credit score is low, creditors will lend to you at a higher rate because they look at you as more of a risk, thus causing you to have higher monthly payments.

While your credit score can fluctuate and change, relatively based on the information that is reported each month, once a creditor has extended credit to you, the rate and terms will not likely change.  So how does this affect your monthly bills?  It means that if, for example, you are approved for a car loan based on a lower score, and you may be locked into a higher interest rate, which in turn, causes your monthly car payment to be higher than if you would have been approved with a higher credit score.

Check your credit report

It is important to regularly review your credit report to make sure that the information reporting on you is accurate and up-to-date.  It will not do you very much good to work hard to pay your bills on time and get everything up-to-date, just to have old accounts showing up, or negative items that have not been cleared off your report to continue to drag down your score.  Monitoring your credit to make sure it is accurate is crucial to the credit rebuilding process.  It is also critical to review your credit to make sure that no fraudulent activity is taking place.

Back to School Tax Free Weekend 2018

It feels like summer break just started, however, the countdown for back to school is already underway… and so is back to school shopping.  But before you head out to load up on all of those back to school supplies, you may want to check out to see if there is a tax free weekend in your state for 2018.

Several states offer tax free purchases on limited amounts of clothing, school supplies, and even larger items, such as laptops.  Check out this list of back to school tax free weekends for 2018:

Back to School Tax Free Weekend 2018 // Money Savvy Living #taxfreeweekend #taxholiday #backtoschool

Tax Free Weekend Dates 2018

Here’s a quick glance at the states and dates for tax-free weekends for 2018:

Alabama Tax Free Weekend—July 20-22, 2018

Arkansas Tax Free Weekend—August 4-5, 2018

Connecticut Tax Free Weekend—August 19-25, 2018

Florida Tax Free Weekend—August 3-5, 2018

Georgia Tax Free Weekend— No tax free weekend for 2018

Iowa Tax Free Weekend—August 3-4, 2018

Maryland Tax Free Weekend—August 12-18, 2018

Mississippi Tax Free Weekend—July 27-28, 2018

Missouri Tax Free Weekend—August 3-5, 2018

New Mexico Tax Free Weekend—August 3-5, 2018

North Carolina Tax Free Weekend—No tax free weekend for 2018

Ohio Tax Free Weekend—August 3-5, 2018

Oklahoma Tax Free Weekend—August 3-5, 2018

South Carolina Tax Free Weekend—August 3-5, 2018

Tennessee Tax Free Weekend—July 27-29, 2018

Texas Tax Free Weekend—August 10-12, 2018

Virginia Tax Free Weekend—August 3-5, 2018

Wisconsin Tax Free Weekend—August 1-5, 2018

Back to School Tax Free Weekend 2018 // Money Savvy Living #taxfreeweekend #taxholiday #backtoschool

States participating in a tax free holiday for back to school 2018

For a bit more detail on what items are included and the maximum dollar amounts for your back to school purchases, see the chart below.

 

State

 

Items Included

 

Maximum Cost

 

2018
Dates

 

State Tax Holiday Source Links

Alabama clothing – $100
computers – $750
school supplies – $50
books – $30
July 20-22 http://www.revenue.alabama.gov/
Arkansas clothing – $100
school supplies
August 4-5 http://www.dfa.arkansas.gov/
Connecticut clothing and footwear – $100 August 19-25 http://www.ct.gov/drs/
Florida clothing – $60
school supplies – $15
August 3-5 http://floridarevenue.com/
Iowa clothing – $100 August 3-4 https://tax.iowa.gov/
Maryland clothing & footwear-$100 August 12-18 http://www.marylandtaxes.com/
Mississippi clothing & footwear – $100 July 27-28 http://www.dor.ms.gov/
Missouri clothing – $100
computers – $1,500
school supplies – $50
August 3-5 http://dor.mo.gov/
New Mexico clothing – $100
computers – $1,000
computer equip. – $500
school supplies – $30
August 3-5 http://www.tax.newmexico.gov
Ohio clothing – $75
school supplies – $20
August 3-5 https://www.tax.ohio.gov/
Oklahoma clothing – $100 August 3-5 http://www.tax.ok.gov/
South Carolina clothing
school supplies
computers
other
August 3-5 http://www.sctax.org/
Tennessee clothing – $100
school supplies – $100
computers – $1,500
July 27-29 http://tn.gov/revenue/
Texas clothing, backpacks and school supplies- $100 August 10-12 http://comptroller.texas.gov/
Virginia clothing – $100
school supplies – $20
August 3-5 http://www.tax.virginia.gov/
Wisconsin clothing, supplies – $75
computer supplies – $250
computers – $750
August 1-5 https://www.revenue.wi.gov/

*information for graph obtained from Federation of Tax Administrators.

 

Mark your calendars and take advantage of the extra savings!

 

7 Quick & Easy Tech Tips to Make Your Life Better

Technology is all around us.  In fact, in recent years, it seems that you really can’t escape using technology even if you want to.  While you may feel like technology is taking over—seems like everyone is perpetually looking at a smartphone nowadays—there are ways that you can embrace technology for the better.  Here are seven quick and easy tech tips to make your life better.

Tech Tips to Improve Your Life

7 Quick & Easy Tech Tips to Make Your Life Better // Money Savvy Living #Amazon #PrimeDay #FlexiSpot #ergonomicdesk #techtips

Back-up data

Whether it is a website, your digital photo collection, or a paper that you are writing, make sure that you are in the habit of saving often—and even having data saved to a back-up server.  While technology is a very useful tool, it can also be very frustrating if you have put a lot of time and effort into a project on your computer just to have it all erased if you unexpectedly lose power or a shutdown occurs.

Use your smartphone calendar

You may be used to writing things on your desk calendar or wall calendar, but you really need to start using your smartphone calendar.  Not only can you set it up to alert you of events and meetings that you have entered, but you can also share events with family members in your network so they can view the event and will receive the alert too.  Definitely a great way to cut down on miscommunications and missed events.

Set parental controls

While many devices have the ability to set controls on devices in that group (for free), you can also buy products, such as Circle with Disney.  This device allows you to: set daily time limits on apps and websites, such as Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and YouTube, filter online content by age level, pause the internet, and check online usage to monitor where your kids are spending their time online.

Take frequent breaks

If you need to use your computer for extended periods of time, it is suggested that you take frequent breaks to rest your eyes and body.

  • Micro-breaks—this is not a break from work, just a quick break for your muscles to relax for a minute or so. Any repetitive motion can strain your muscles.  So to combat this, take a minute to flex your finger muscles and rest your hands when doing a lot of typing, or even take a moment to stretch or stand up to help alleviate back and neck strain.
  • Rest breaks—every hour or so, you may want to take a little bit of a break and get up and walk around. Taking a 5 minute break to get a drink or use the restroom can give your muscles a chance to relax and use different muscles groups, but also give you a necessary mental break.
  • Eye break—you may not realize that you need to give your eyes a special break. It is suggested that every 15 minutes or so you should take a minute to look away from your computer and gaze into the distance (approximately 20 feet away) to give your eye muscles time to relax.

Get an ergonomic design

In addition to taking breaks, you can make your workstation a bit more user friendly with an ergonomic design.  You might want to get an adjustable stand for your keyboard to take some strain off your wrists when typing. Or even get an ergonomic desk converter for your computer that can allow you the flexibility of sitting or standing to help relieve back strain.

#Amazon #PrimeDay

Great deal for Amazon Prime Day! Standing desk converter special price starts July 16th 3 pm ET: 30% off $224.99 (was $329.99)

Link to the product: https://amzn.to/2tIl03h

Know the simple keyboard commands

You may not know (or ever use) all of the function shortcuts.  However, there are a few shortcuts that you need to know to make your computer experience a lot easier:

  • CTRL + ALT + Delete—this is a quick way to get to the task manager. If your computer locks up, instead of just unplugging it and restarting, use this short cut to get to the task manager and shut down each application before powering down.
  • CTRL + prt sc—this will take a screen shot of what your desktop is showing. If you need to document a problem that you are having, take a quick screen shot and send it to the help desk.  They can probably help you solve the problem quicker if they can see the exact problem that you are having.
  • CTRL + rolling the scroll button on your mouse—this will change the size of the words and pictures showing on your desktop. Need to see some small wording? Click the CTRL key and scroll up to enlarge.  Roll back down to shrink the wording and images on the screen.

Unplug

As great and useful as technology is, sometimes it is necessary to just unplug from it for a bit.  Even if you need to have your smartphone handy for work, you can still make it a habit to set aside all devices during meal times.  Another good habit is to put them away after a certain time in the evening to allow you sufficient time to unwind from the day and quiet your mind and body for a more restful sleep.

 

 

 

 

11 Easy & Creative Ways to make Money this Summer

Easy & Creative Ways to make Money this Summer

Summer is the perfect time to kick back, relax, and enjoy the beautiful weather.  It is also the perfect time to make a little extra money.  So whether you are looking to pay down some credit cards, pay off some old bills and clean up your credit, or take a little vacation, you may want to try these 11 easy, creative ways to make money this summer.

This post has been sponsored by Lexington Law and may contain affiliate links. Please know that all opinions are mine alone and are honestly conveyed.

11 Easy and Creative Ways to Make Money this Summer // Money Savvy Living #lexingtonlaw #summer #makemoney #budget

Have a Garage Sale

Having a garage sale is one of the quickest and easiest ways to not only declutter your house, but also to make some extra money.  Start with your closest and clean out the things that you no longer wear or that no longer fit, and then head to the basement and pull out the bigger items that have just been collecting dust and taking up space for the last ten years—you know, like those skis that you haven’t used since college, old furniture, or even exercise equipment…

Related article: Tips to Make More Money from your Garage Sale

Sell Stuff at a Consignment Store

If you find that you have some clothing in very good condition, jewelry, hats, or even vintage items, you may want to consider using a consignment shop to sell your stuff.  You will probably make a bit more money than putting these items in a traditional yard sale too.  Don’t have a consignment store close-by?  No problem.  You can easily sign up for Thredup or Poshmark—both are online consignment stores where you can buy and sell used clothing and accessories.

Sell stuff online

  • Make Your Own Product—of course, you could open your own online store using Shopify or a similar service. But selling your own handmade products online can also be done with a platform such as Etsy.  Depending on the amount of sales you have each month, you can figure out which fee-based platform is right for your business.  But this is an easy way to quickly expand your market, and make some extra money.
  • Sell new or used stuff—whether you have brand new products to sell, or just cleaning out miscellaneous items from your home, you can sell nearly anything on Ebay. Make sure to take clear pictures and add relevant descriptions so your product is easy to find and people know the condition of your product immediately.
  • Buy low, sell higher—Amazon FBA (Fulfillment By Amazon) offers a great platform for people to run an online business and sell products. You can sell products online from a business that you already run locally to expand your market, or you can run your business strictly through Amazon by re-selling new items.  Perhaps you run across a good sale, or a store is going out of business and you can find lots of bargains, or maybe you have contacts at a wholesale warehouse, whatever your connection, if you can buy products cheap and sell them higher, then you can potentially make a lot of money.  There are even inexpensive courses (not an affiliate link, just a good course that I recommend) out there to walk you through how to set up your own Amazon FBA so you can start making money right away.

Start your own side hustle

  • E-commerce business—so many business models are e-commerce based now and that makes it easier than ever for you to start a business with little start-up costs and almost no overhead—and quickly make a profit. Most of these MLM companies (multi-level marketing) are able to set you up with your own website so that as you share the products with family and friends, they are able to easily order through your website, and you earn commission.
  • Teach private lessons—do you have a talent that you can teach to others? Perhaps you are gifted at playing golf, the piano, or guitar… if so, you may be able to make some extra money teaching others how to learn these skills.

Related article: Side Hustles that will Actually Give You a Full Time Income

 

Become a Virtual Assistant

Because of the flourishing e-commerce economy that we live in low, there are many small businesses that need assistance with running their daily operations, but perhaps aren’t looking to hire someone full-time.  This is where a virtual assistant can come in.  The type of work will depend upon the type of business, but virtual assistants may be needed for marketing, social media, customer service, payroll, or recordkeeping.

Get a seasonal job

Many stores and businesses are in need of seasonal workers to help deal with increased demand.  Warmer weather brings about additional opportunities in tourist areas that see an increase in business, and outdoor related jobs, such as a nurseries/ gardening centers, construction work, landscaping and the like.

Use apps on your smartphone

There are certain apps that you can use on your smartphone to both save money and make money, such as Ibotta and Dosh.  Use these apps to save money on everyday items that you are already buying, but make some extra cash with these apps by referring your friends…

Use your car

If you own a reliable car and have a little extra time, you may be able to use it to pick up a few extra dollars this summer as a freelance “taxi driver.”  Uber and Lyft are two companies that offer the opportunity for individuals to utilize their own cars to drive people who are in need of a ride.  Obviously, you will need to have a valid driver’s license, proof of insurance, and be able to pass a background check before you can start earning money.

Get certified to umpire or referee

Are you a sports fan?  Spring and summer are full of sporting events—and not just for professionals.  During the warmer weather, youth sports are in full swing.  Of course, you will have to get certified, but if you have a passion for baseball, soccer, football, or basketball, you could earn a few extra dollars as an umpire or referee.

11 Easy and Creative Ways to Make Money this Summer // Money Savvy Living #lexingtonlaw #summer #makemoney #budget

Sell produce from your garden

If you have a big garden, you may be able to plant a little extra and sell it to make some money this summer.  Or if you have too much, don’t let it go to waste…  Of course, you can just put a sign up alongside the road, but there are also various local farmer’s markets that allow vendors to sell goods and produce.

Teach your kids how to earn money this summer

Earning a bit of extra money this summer isn’t just for grown-ups, there are several ways that kids can learn some great money lessons and find ways to earn money this summer too: mowing lawns, pulling weeds, extra chores, set up a “lemonade stand,” make a craft to sell at a local market or online… the sky is the limit on creative ways to get your kids involved.

 

Start with these easy ways to make some extra money this summer and put yourself in a better financial position and take control of your credit and your money.  What will you do with your summer earnings? 

 

 

 

 

15 Simple Ways to Save Money this Summer

This post has been sponsored by Lexington Law.  All opinions are mine alone and are honestly conveyed. 

 

Summer is here.  The kids are out of school and the weather is nice and warm.  While there may be some summer activities that can be expensive, the warmer temperatures and longer daylight hours also give you a nice opportunity to take advantage of some simple ways to save money as well.  Put that saved money toward paying down account balances or getting bills up-to-date and improve your credit score for a brighter financial future.

15 Simple Ways to Save Money this Summer // Money Savvy Living #summer #savemoney #waystosavemoney #lexingtonlaw

Try these 15 simple ways to save money this summer and help get your finances back on track:

Grill out—not only is it a fun time to grill out when you have a backyard bar-b-que with friends, but grilling out during the warmer temperatures can actually save you money.   Instead of turning on the oven and heating up the entire kitchen, fire up the grill and keep the heat outdoors.

Give your dryer a rest—with warm summer temps and a nice breeze you can hang your clean clothes outside to dry rather than running the dryer.

Turn off the lights—another great way to save money during the summer is to turn your indoor lights off.  You may be used to just flipping on the light switch during the darker winter months, but longer daylight hours during the summer can help you save on your electricity bill by just opening the curtains and letting the natural light in.

Look for free community events—many communities offer events throughout the summer that are family-friendly, fun, and free!  From concerts at the park, to parades, festivals, and carnivals, three are many events throughout the summer that are sponsored by local organizations for the benefit of the community.  Check with your local visitor’s bureau, chamber of commerce, or community calendar for free local events.

Go camping—you really don’t have to go far to have a fun camping experience– you can just camp out in your own backyard!  Of course you can find a nice campground for an economical price, but you can just pitch a tent in your backyard and have fun “roughing it” for a few nights.  Cook hot dogs over a little camp fire and roast some marshmallows and get the full camping experience!

Make a day of fun at the park—pack a picnic lunch and take the kids to the park for the day.  Do a little research to see if there are any local parks that offer a splash pad or water activities– which would be especially refreshing on a hot summer day.  Your kids will have fun for countless hours at the local playground.  Pack a picnic lunch and don’t forget to take the cooler for some ice cream treats.

Go to the library—signing your kids up for a summer reading club will help avoid the summer learning slump, but there is a lot more to do at the library than just picking out books.  Your local library often times has train tables, Lego building area, coloring and so many more activities for kids.

Take a day at the beach—if you live close enough to drive to the beach for the day, you can have fun just soaking up the sun, swimming, or building a sandcastle.

Have a fun day at the lake—even if you aren’t close enough to a beach, you can probably find a lake nearby.  Have a family fun day canoeing, water skiing, boating, or just splashing in the lake.

Visit a national park—not only can you see the beauty of nature all around the country, many of these parks offer free admission.  Even the ones that do require payment are free for you and your fourth-grade student.  Learn more about the Every Kid in a Park program to plan your visit.

Catch fireflies—sometimes just being outside alone in nature can be beautiful and entertaining on its own. Take time to enjoy the beauty of the fireflies lighting up in the evening, look at the stars, and listen to the sounds of the crickets…

Watch fireworks—many towns across the country have fireworks displays, along with parades and other free activities around Independence Day.  Research the schedules ahead of time and take in a few shows.

Let the breeze in—on cool summer nights, turn of the air conditioning and let the cool breeze in.  It will save you a few bucks and it is just as refreshing.

Grow a garden—think about how much it costs to buy a salad or even lettuce at the grocery store.  If you plant your own, you will spend less for the seeds than what you can buy it for at the store, and you will have salad all summer.  Plant some veggies and herbs and you can greatly reduce your grocery bill over the summer.

Go to a discount movie—several theatres nationwide offer summer movies that you can take your kids to for $1.00 or even less if you buy the package ahead of time.  Many of the theatres offer special deals on popcorn and drinks for these events too.  Check out the summer movie schedule here:

15 Simple Ways to Save Money this Summer // Money Savvy Living #summer #savemoney #waystosavemoney #lexingtonlaw

How can the summer savings help you improve your credit?

Utilizing free or cheap summer entertainment or even being able to save some money on regular expenses gives you a bit of extra spending cash.  But be aware and make sure that you don’t spend that money frivolously—use that money to pay down credit card balances, or even get some of your bills up-to-date that may have slipped behind.  Perhaps, you are at the point that you need to track and protect your credit, finances, and identity.  Taking a few dollars of your summer savings to invest into monitoring these aspects of your life can help to set you up for a better financial future.

 

 

 

5 Steps You Need to Take to Repair Your Credit

5 Steps You Need to Take to Repair Your Credit

Have you ever applied for a credit card and only qualified for one with an extremely high interest rate?  Or applied for a loan to finance the purchase of a new car and been turned down?  If so, there may be items showing up on your credit report that are dragging your score down.  But don’t worry, there are steps that you can take to clean up your credit report and repair your credit score.

This post has been sponsored by Lexington Law. All opinions are honestly conveyed and are mine alone.

5 Steps You Need to Take to Repair Your Credit // Money Savvy Living #creditrepair

 

So what all goes into your credit score?

A credit score is a number ranging from 300-850.  Creditors use this compilation number to evaluate the risk of extending credit to you.  But your credit score isn’t just one number—you actually have three credit scores.  There are three different credit bureaus: Transunion, Experian, and Equifax. These agencies receive information about you from your current creditors and assemble that information into a credit risk score. Some creditors send and receive information from only one credit bureau, some use all three. Each credit bureau only uses the information—both good and bad—that is supplied to it by the creditors that utilize that particular bureau.

Your credit score is decided by several factors, including:

  • Number of accounts that you have open
  • Type of accounts
  • Level of debt, as compared to available credit
  • Length of credit history
  • Payment history
  • Number of recent credit inquiries

5 Steps You Need to Take to Repair Your Credit // Money Savvy Living #creditrepair

It is important to regularly review your credit report to make sure that the information reporting on you is accurate and up-to-date.  If old accounts are showing up or negative items have not been cleared, they may be damaging your score.  It is also critical to review your credit to make sure that no fraudulent activity is taking place.

How do I fix my credit?

If you find that your credit is less than perfect, don’t worry.  There are some steps that you can take to resolve credit disputes, fix your credit, and increase your score.

  1. Request a copy of your credit report. In order to know what you need to fix, you need to know what is showing up on your credit report.  You can request a copy of your credit report by contacting each credit bureau individually, or you can use a credit repair service to get a free copy of your credit report and a free credit repair consultation.
  2. Start making on-time payments. If you have accounts that you are making late payments on, try to get those caught up.  Remember, a payment is not actually reported late to the credit bureau unless it is 30 days (or more) late.  It can be really hard to catch up when you are in a cycle of making late payments, but moving that timeline up so that the creditors are reporting on-time payments will really boost your credit score.
  3. Only apply for credit cards that you need.  It may be tempting to apply for a store card to take advantage of a special discount or free gift.  However, you should only apply for and open credit cards that you need.  Having too many open accounts might actually be tempting you to use credit more oftencausing you to spend more than you would otherwise.
  4. Pay off or settle any bad debts. Old collection accounts can be truly detrimental to your credit score.  If you currently have any accounts that are in collections, see if you can negotiate a settlement amount with the creditor or collection company.  While the creditor would ideally like to collect the entire amount, including late fees and interest, they may be willing to settle and consider your account paid in full for a lower amount.  Trying to negotiate a payoff or settlement amount can be overwhelming on your own, so you may want to consider consulting a credit repair company to help walk you through the process.
  5. Get old or inaccurate items updated. Just because you paid off an old account or a collection account doesn’t mean that it was properly reported to the credit bureau.  So, if you have any accounts still showing up as outstanding, get a letter from the creditor showing that the account has been paid in full and that you are requesting that the account be closed.  Once you have this letter, you can send it in to the credit bureau to update.

5 Steps You Need to Take to Repair Your Credit // Money Savvy Living #creditrepair

How do I get started?

Even when you know the steps to take to help repair your credit, it may be that you need some help to navigate through the entire credit repair process.  That is where Lexington Law credit repair service can help.  Working with professionals who know exactly what to do and how to follow up will get your credit report cleared up quickly and accurately.

 

Related article: How Credit Score Affects Your Monthly Bills

How to know if refinancing your mortgage is a good deal or not

How to know if refinancing your mortgage is a good deal or not

Have you ever received one of those letters in the mail that tells you how you can save nearly $250 per month if you refinance your mortgage with their company?  No closing costs, low rate—sounds great, right?  Well, before you sign the paperwork on this, you need to read the fine print.  Saving $250 a month sounds great.  With the ever-increasing costs of food and other consumer goods, getting a break in the budget can be quite tempting.  But how do you know if refinancing your mortgage is a good deal?

How to know if refinancing your mortgage is a good deal // Money Savvy Living #mortgage #refinance

Should I refinance my mortgage?

There are four major details of the offer that are important to know before deciding if it is a good deal or not:

  1. Rate—Make sure that the low rate the bank is offering is fixed, so that it doesn’t fluctuate after an introductory period. If it is only a three-year fixed rate and then adjustable after that, your $300 per month savings will dwindle quickly once the rate adjusts.  In fact, depending on the terms of the loan, the rate can adjust, only a certain amount each year, but could end up being several percentage points higher than the original introductory rate.
  2. Loan Points—Are you having to pay points to buy the rate down to the low rate that is being advertised. If it is going to cost you several thousand dollars, even if the amount is rolled into the loan, then the costs could end up out-weighing the benefits.
  3. Closing Costs—Does $0 closing costs really mean there are no closing costs? While you may not be expected to come up with closing costs out-of-pocket, they may be rolled into the loan or there may even be a large pre-payment penalty if you sell your home or refinance within a certain amount of time.
  4. Term—what they don’t usually point out in big, bold print on those marketing letters is that it in order to achieve the $250 per month savings, you are going back to a 30 year term on your mortgage. If you have already been paying on your current mortgage for 10 years, going back to a 30 year term may actually cost you money.

 

Related post: Renting vs. Buying: How to Know When Renting is the Best Option

 

When should I refinance my mortgage?

So how can you figure out if the offer is a good deal?  Follow these simple calculations, and you will know for sure:

Example Scenario: Current mortgage—30 year fixed rate of 5.5%, $150,000 original loan amount, with an $852 monthly payment (principle and interest only—do not include any portion that is paid to homeowner’s insurance), and you have been paying on it for 10 years (120 payments).  What you need to calculate is how much you have already paid (total of payments), what you have left (mortgage payoff balance), and total cost of payments of both mortgages.

Calculate Total of Payments:

Monthly Payment x Number of Payments = Total of Payments

$852 x 120 months = $102,240

Calculate Mortgage Payoff Balance:

This is easy because the remaining balance should show up on your monthly mortgage statement.  However, you would want to call your mortgage company for an exact payoff amount because if there is any prepayment penalty that would have to be added to the balance.  You can also use an amortization calculator to estimate a payoff balance.

How to know if refinancing your mortgage is a good deal // Money Savvy Living #mortgage #refinance

 

Related post: How Credit Score Affects Your Monthly Bills

 

$123,527 Mortgage Payoff Balance

Calculate Total Cost of Payments of Current Mortgage: 

(Yes, this is a big number!  You should have seen it on the Truth-In-Lending when you signed your original mortgage papers)

Monthly Payment x Term of Loan = Total Cost of Mortgage

                                $852 x 360 months = $306,720

Calculate Total Cost of Payment of New Mortgage

If your new mortgage is going to save you approximately $250 per month, (with a lower rate of around 4.17%), then your new principle and interest payment would be $602 per month.

                Monthly Payment x Term of Loan = Total Cost of Mortgage

                $602 x 360 months = $216,720

The cost of this new loan is lower, however, you need to add the amount that you have already paid to this balance because it is actual cost to you—which you have already paid.

$216,720 + $123,527 = $340,247

Now, just compare the two Total Cost of Mortgage values:

Current mortgage, total cost of mortgage: $306,720

Potential New Mortgage, total cost of mortgage: $340,247

So even though the new loan offers a lower rate and monthly savings, by taking you back to a 30 year term, you will actually pay more than if you kept the current mortgage that you have.  So if you are comfortable with your current payment, keep the current mortgage that you have; if however, your situation has changed and you absolutely need the monthly savings it might make sense to make the change.  You can always pay more toward the principle once your financial situation allows it again.

 

 

*Example scenario for illustrative purposes only.

 

How I Get Free Gas for my Car Just for Buying Christmas Gifts

How I Get Free Gas for my Car Just for Buying Christmas Gifts

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #GiantEaglePerks #CollectiveBias #ad

Can you believe it’s already less than two months until Christmas is here?! So that means it is time to start Christmas shopping… Ok, I have to admit, I already started! When I see a good sale and I think that it’s something one of kids would like, I just go ahead and get it—and save it for Christmas. For those that are a bit harder to shop for, I typically go with gift cards—and that’s how I am able to get free gas for my car just for buying Christmas gifts!

Free gas… for shopping?? I know, I doesn’t make sense. But trust me, it is not a typo. I’m going to let you in on a little secret: almost everything you buy at Giant Eagle gives you points in the Fuel Perks Plus program! So whether I am buying my weekly groceries, a yoga mat, nail polish, shampoo and conditioner, laundry detergent, a book, stationary, or gift cards—I am earning points towards free gas or groceries!

How to get started:

More Perks, More Places, More Savings. Learn how the Perks Program works and get 100 bonus perks by clicking here!

You need a Giant Eagle Advantage card to keep track of all your points. It’s free to get, and besides keeping track of your points, being a Giant Eagle Advantage customer gives you access to extra savings and weekly specials. If you’d like to sign up for one, you can visit the Customer Service desk at your neighborhood Giant Eagle where you can register for free in less than five minutes! Or, you can register by phone—just call 1-800-553-2324.

Once you have signed up, you can also view perks status on Giant Eagle’s new mobile app available for iOS and Android devices.

*If you don’t have an advantage card and would like to sign up to track when you earn and redeem perks, you can visit the Customer Service desk. Or, you can register by phone—just call 1-866-620-0216.

Exactly how does Fuel Perks Plus work?

Start earning points. Every time you shop at Giant Eagle, make sure to scan your Advantage card:

  • You earn 1 perk for every dollar spent on groceries, health and beauty, gift cards, and more in-store.
  • You earn 2 perks for every gallon of gasoline you purchase at the GetGo.
  • You earn 50 bonus perks for every 5 qualifying prescriptions that you have filled at the Giant Eagle pharmacy.

*Check out the Fuel Perks Plus program details, terms, and conditions here.

What can you earn?

There is no limit to the amount of perks that you can earn! For every 50 perks accumulated, you can redeem them for 2 percent off on groceries or $0.10 off per gallon of fuel. You can redeem them for up to 20 percent off any single grocery order or up to a FREE tank of gas (up to 30 gallons of fuel)! If you have earned more points than you can redeem in a single visit, no problem, those points will roll forward and you can use them on a future visit.

On my last trip to Giant Eagle, I was able to redeem my Fuel Perks points and save $0.30 per gallon when I filled up my car.

And the best part is that I was even able to earn more Fuel Perks points on the purchase of the gas!

I have been stocking up on gift cards to use for Christmas gifts, but Giant Eagle also offers a nice selection of gifts for occasions year-round. So it doesn’t really matter what holiday or event is coming up, I can shop at Giant Eagle and save money on groceries or get FREE gas for everyday items that I was going to purchase anyways!

So what are you waiting for?  Start earning your Fuel Perks on the things you buy everyday!

How Credit Score Affects Your Monthly Bills

How Credit Score Affects Your Monthly Bills

This post has been sponsored by CreditRepair.com.  All opinions are honestly conveyed and are mine alone.

You probably know that how you pay your monthly bills affects your credit score: on-time payments will increase your credit score, while late payments will cost you extra in fees and lower your credit score.  But did you realize that your credit score can also impact the amount that you have to pay for your monthly bills?

image: via CreditRepair.com

What is your credit score?

Your credit score is basically a numerical way for the credit bureaus to express your creditworthiness.  Credit scores range from around 300 to 850.  The higher your credit score, the better your credit.  A higher score tells potential lenders that you are a low risk consumer and will likely payback the credit that they extend to you.  A low score tells creditors that you are a higher risk borrower.  There are several factors that go into calculating your credit score:

  • Length of credit history
  • Payment history
  • Balance of accounts as compared to credit line
  • Amount of times you credit has been pulled within a certain time period
How does your credit score actually affect your monthly bills?

Your credit score will have an impact on the rates that you qualify for when obtaining financing.  So when you apply for a new credit card, auto loan, or a mortgage, creditors base the programs and rates that they offer to you based on your credit score.  If you have a high credit score, you are going to qualify for a lower rate, which will give you lower monthly payments.  If your credit score is low, creditors will give you a higher rate because creditors look at lending you money to you as more of a risk, and this will cause you to have higher monthly payments.

What can you do to improve your score?

If you have a credit score that is less than perfect, or don’t have much of a credit history—don’t worry, there are steps that you can take to help improve your score.

Determine why you need to raise your credit score. Is it for lack of a credit history or because you have a bad credit history?

Lack of credit history

If you lack a credit history, the best thing you can do to build credit is to actually open a credit card and use it to pay monthly bills.  Because you are trying to establish a credit history, expect that the credit card that you get approved for may have a small line of credit and a high interest rate.  But that’s ok.  You don’t have to carry a balance on it from month to month, you can pay it off each month to avoid interest, but every month that you use your credit card, it will report to the credit bureaus.  Make sure that you pay the credit card bill on-time each month, and that will also report to the credit bureau—this will build a solid credit history for you.  So if you are accustomed to using cash, realize that you will have to utilize credit in order to build a credit history.

Credit repair

If you need to clean up a less-than-perfect credit history, there are several steps that you can take:

Start paying your bills on-time.  If it is at all possible, get your bills caught up and current.  Sometimes, when you are making late payments, fees may be added in and your next month’s payment isn’t fully going toward that month; in fact, it may be keeping your payments in a consistent cycle of carrying forward an unpaid amount from each month.

Close any old accounts.  If you have an old credit card that you no longer use, make sure to close it—as long as it is in good standing and has a zero balance.  If you leave old accounts open, it could be a risk for potential identity theft.

Clean up your credit report.  Sometimes old collection accounts, liens, or other derogatory information show up on your credit report.  Even though creditors are supposed to report when items have been resolved, it doesn’t always happen.  So how do you do this?  Using services from a company such as CreditRepair.com can help you identify old or erroneous items showing on your credit report, work with you to resolve those issues, and contact the credit bureaus to make sure these items are removed or updated.  Getting these incorrect items off your current credit report can increase your score quite quickly.

image: via CreditRepair.com

Save Everyday at 100+ Retailers with Deals from Groupon

Save Everyday at 100+ Retailers with Deals from Groupon

I just love a good deal!  I think that most of us do… so when I can find coupons to save money on the everyday things that I am going to buy anyways, that’s a win for my budget!

Save Everyday at 100+ Retailers with Deals from Groupon // Money Savvy Living

Even though I do love coupons, I seem to never have them with me when I need them.  But that is also why Groupon is so convenient… I can access the Groupon deals right from my cell phone, which I almost always have with me—either through the Groupon app or the Groupon website.

Save Everyday at 100+ Retailers with Deals from Groupon // Money Savvy Living

Here’s a few of my favorite retailers that have deals on Groupon:

Home Depot

Amazon

Hotels.com

Shutterfly

Bed Bath & Beyond

Target

Verizon Wireless

JCPenney

Orbitz

Victoria’s Secret

Babies R Us

Walgreens

Sam’s Club

Talbots

New York & Company

Save Everyday at 100+ Retailers with Deals from Groupon // Money Savvy Living

 

For a complete list of retailers at Groupon, click HERE.

Which Groupon retailers do you shop at?  Check it out today and save on your next purchase!

 

*This post has been sponsored by US Family Guide and it’s advertiser.  Product review and opinions expressed in this post are mine alone. #ad

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