5 Ways to Start Improving Your Credit Score TODAY

A great credit score can be the difference between being approved for that car you’ve saved for, that house you’ve looked at, and even that job that you just interviewed for that is now pulling your credit history. If you have a low score, the people who decide whether you are an “attractive” candidate hold the cards. If you, however, have a great credit score, you hold ALL the cards. I learned this when I was buying my first home just three days after my 24th birthday. In the midst of trying to prove to my parents that I was, in fact, a real and financially responsible adult by doubling up on student loan payments and keeping my credit card balance low, I was unknowingly improving my credit score. In fact, during the contract negotiation period of the home buying process, my score improved by 20 points. A great score also came in handy once I moved because the majority of my utility expenses did not need a deposit and I was offered a lower rate. No matter what your score is, it is never too late to start improving it.Credit Score Hacks from the Money, Career, & Lifestyle blog, She Makes Cents | How To Improve Your Credit Score Today

Here are 5 Easy Ways to Boost your Credit Score

  1. First and foremost, it is imperative that you know your score, that way you know where you stand. By law, all US citizens are entitled to one FREE credit history report, but depending on where you live your state may pay for one more.  Georgia residents, for example, are entitled to two FREE credit reports from each reporting agency.   This is a great time to make sure that all the information is correct and give you an overview of where your finances stand.  Related Post: How to Dispute Errors on Your Credit Report
  2. Pay your bills on time. It sounds simple, but I’m going to take a quick flashback to my college days when I was on the dance line of the marching band featured in Drumline. (insert flashback bubble here) To be early is to be ON TIME, to be “on time” is to be LATE, and to be late is UNACCEPTABLE (end flashback bubble…now). The same essentially holds true with how you pay your bills.  The earlier you pay your bill, the better. For one, you are certain that your bill will be received by your service provider way before the date. More importantly, paying your bills as soon as you get them can be a quick but subtle  increase to that credit score. I try to pay all bills within days of receiving my statements and then record the due dates and balance due in my calendar. This allows me a quick glimpse of my monthly financial trends. This is something I recommend to EVERYONE!
  3. Use only one credit card. If you have more than one card, start paying down the card with the smallest balance first by doubling the minimum payment. Once, that card is paid down, move to the card with the second lowest balance. Double the minimum balance and tack on whatever you were applying to the first card, until that card is paid down, and then so on. This, lovely people, is what is called a money snowball.  Next, choose one card to work with, preferably the one with the highest interest rate and take the other ones out of your wallet. Freeze them, cut them up, lock them away but whatever you do, do not close them. Closing a credit card can sink your credit score faster than you can say “She Makes Cents”. Don’t do it, don’t do it, do not do it…
  4. Increase your credit limit. Now that you have worked towards reducing the debt on your existing card, credit card companies should begin to see you as an “attractive” customer. Call your company and request a credit increase. Again, this is not meant for you to start increasing your spending¸ but rather it is an opportunity for you to increase your credit to debt ratio. Can anyone say credit score boost? Related Post:  How The Debt to Credit Ratio Affects Your Credit Score
  5. Pay in Cash. I have said it before and I will say it again. Paying in cash forces you to really consider whether your purchase is right you. Personally, I find that paying for things in cash acts as a visual aid and helps keep me on track with my spending. In swiping a card, I can’t “see” my funds dwindling, but watching your cash go from thick to thin is definitely a sign that you could be mindlessly spending. When you pay in cash, you don’t have to worry about interest rates and hidden charges because Cash is King  QUEEN.

      

Major Milestone | She Makes Cents 6th Year Anniversary!

blogiversarySix years ago shemakescents started as a way for me to share my financial journey with the world… and by that I mean my dad and my cousin Dot because they were the only two people reading my stuff in the early days.  I kept writing because I wanted to share my story and connect with others.  I knew my financial journey felt different from my other twenty-something friends because they would come to me with their questions about buying a house and how to get ahead of student loan debt during a recession. Soon, other people joined my dad and cousin in subscribing to the blog and that was the first time I really felt like I wasn’t talking to myself.  In the past 6 years, I have been so surprised by the people who take a moment out of their busy day to tell me how much they enjoy reading shemakescents.  You have been with me when I paid off my credit card, bought a car off Craigslist and got married.  To the 1.3 MILLION visitors to she makes cents…. thank you for joining me for the past 6 years.  Stay tuned, 2017 has the potential to be our best year yet!

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{2016 Money Recap} She Makes Cents Money Challenge Success!!

Hello #SMCmoneytribe!  It’s the last Friday of the year and I am so happy to hear from you all who are completing the She Makes Cents  52 Week BINGO Money Challenge  today and tomorrow. I officially finished mine today!  In the past three years I have attempted to complete this challenge, I would accomplish a short term goal and just stop.  This year, however, I have made it all the way to the end thanks to my accountability partners in the #SMCmoneytribe, as well as, my will to stay focus on my goals of zero credit card debt (mission accomplished) and snowballing my student loans (current goal in progress).2016-52-week-money-challenge

She Makes Cents Money Challenge vs. the 52 Week Money Challenge

The She Makes Cents Money Challenge is a variation of the traditional 52 Week Money Challenge.  In the traditional version, participants save a specific dollar amount based on the corresponding week.  For example on week one you save $1.00 and on week 52 you save $52.00.  Doing it this way would have you shelling out the bigger bucks in the weeks leading up to the holidays.  No Bueno.  Also, doing the traditional version only leaves you with $1378.00, which is not bad for money that you would normally spend unintentionally, but it could be better.  With the She Makes Cents BINGO Money Challenge, you have the same time period, 52 weeks, but you empowered to decide how much you save on a weekly basis.  You control your own money and have the ability to cross of boxes that correspond to your current financial situation at any given time, which is how is should always be.  Plus with the bonus boxes you can save $1900.00+.

The Breakdown of Money

This past year,  I found myself keeping track of the weekly and monthly savings and comparing the amounts during my frequent progress reports.  I saved the most money in the month of January with $286.00  and the least amount of money during the month of September with $76.00.  Below is my breakdown of the monthly savings that reflect my grand total savings for 2016… an even $1900.00!!!!2016-money-challenge-yearly-report

Join the #SMCmoneytribe

Thank you to everyone who did this challenge this past year.  It was so much fun.  We all cultivated the habit of saving and you might have made a new friend in the process like I did, hi Alysa!  Want to join the #SMCmoneytribe to get  access to a tribe of goal minded accountability partners who are invested in your success and your FREE money guide?  Click here, fill in your info, and we will do the rest.  Mark your calender’s for the next round of the challenge starting January 7th!

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{2017 BINGO Money Challenge} The Easiest Way to Save Money In the New Year

It’s the season when people begin making new plans to start afresh in the New Year. We make goals/resolutions and we vow to take this great opportunity to reset and do better than the year before. Sound familiar? It’s important that we take time to reflect on this crazy year so we are that much more successful when we start over in 2017.   Were your financial goals attained? Did you fall off? Did your goals change? easietway-toavemoney

shemakescents  BINGO Money Challenge

This year some of my most basic financial goals included paying off my credit cards, snowballing my student loans, seeing the shemakescents BINGO Money Challenge to completion.  For those of you who are new to shemakescents.com, the BINGO Money Challenge is a remix of the popular 52 Week Money Challenge that went viral a few years ago.  The original challenge was to make a weekly deposit that reflects the number of weeks of the year. For example, on week one you deposit $1.00 and on week 52 you deposit $52.00 and so on.  However, doing it this way will have you shelling out the big bucks during the holidays when people’s money is the most limited.   I thought to myself…”Danielle, how can you find a way to honor the challenge in a way that will not hurt you financially?”  Then I came up with the idea to create a “bingo” style format.  The original version only has a max savings potential of $1378.00 whereas this version has an average of $1900.00+ .

This year, I have been pretty successful with this goal and my other financial goals from the stand point that I never gave up. There were a few bumps in the road but I pushed through and so many of you did too.  In pushing through, I was able to find more efficient ways to work towards my 2017 money goals.

Introducing the #SMCmoneytribe

In reflecting on the past year, I noticed that those of you who participated in the weekly check-ins for the shemakescents BINGO Money Challenge, via Twitter and the Facebook group (click the links to follow), had the highest success rates.  For 2017, all those who take part in the BINGO Money Challenge will become members of the #SMCmoneytribe giving you access to personalized check-ins, support of others with similar money goals, and a FREE printable of the 2017 version of the bingo money sheet.  Together we will reach our money goals and enjoy the company of other goal-oriented readers.  Past members have used their savings for travel, holiday gifts, pay down debt, save for a car down payment, and pay for professional certifications.  The sky is the limit with the savings because of the bonus boxes and if you really want to up the ante you can do so by doubling the value of each box.

Related Post: {Reader Success Story} A Shockingly Easy Way to Save Money for Fun2017-tribe-quote

If you would like the full benefits of joining our #SMCmoneytribe, please click here.  We would love to have you apart of our group.  Did I mention I have saved a little under $1,900.00 with two more weeks to go for the year??    If you have any questions, please feel free to email us at info@shemakescents.com .  

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{Money Goals} This Money Challenge Beats All Other Money Challenges

Hello Lovelies.  Welcome to the weekend!  It’s time for check-in for the shemakescents 52 Week BINGO Money Challenge (if you are new to shemakescents.com, click here for a recap of the challenge).  Today I crossed off $37.00 on the BINGO Challenge putting me at a year to date total of $1498.00.  My year to date total is just one example of how this version of the 52 Week Challenge  can help you double your savings opportunity. The original version caps your savings potential at $1378.00, which I have already surpassed.  From January to July, I used this money to help me pay down my credit card payments faster.  From July to today, I have saved $800+ on this challenge  to make a principal payment  to my student loans once I get to the $1000.00 mark.  shemakescents money challenge

How can you save too?

The great thing about this challenge, is that you can start anytime and it works on everyone’s budget.  Just email us at info@shemakescents.com  for your FREE copy of the BINGO Money Challenge sheet. The best way to stay in the challenge is to join our Twitter/Facebook check-ins so that you have the support of the community of readers participating in the challenge.  To join the twitter check-in, simply tweet me!

Tweet: I joined the @shemakescents 52 Week BINGO Money Challenge to help me reach my #moneygoals.

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{YTD Update} 52 Week BINGO Money Challenge

She Makes Cents

As we approach the end of week 33, I must say, staying  on top of the 52 Week BINGO Challenge is taking a little more discipline, for me, than in past weeks.  I had a goal to pay off my credit card by August 1st and I beat that goal by a month.  How, you ask?  Well, the closer I got to a zero balance on that debt, the more aggressive I became with this financial goal.  As always, I paid more than the minimum balance and started dumping any and all unassigned money toward that goal.  In working toward the big credit card payoff, I developed a solid habit of saving.  Now that this first goal is done and the high of the gratification is dwindling down, it does look slightly daunting when I look at my next goal on the snowball– my student loans with it’s $18,593.25 balance.  Ugh!!  I plan on making quarterly payments towards the principle with the money that was previously allocated to my credit card minimum + the 52 Week BINGO Challenge to shave off years of interest and thousands of dollars.

Related Post: {Debt Management} How to Shorten the Length of Your Loans & Reduce Interest

52 Week Challenge

Heavy Chains of Habit- Good or Bad?

Chains of habit are too light until they are too heavy to be broken.  Think about it like this, if you are in the habit of putting money aside every week, at the end of the year the weight of your weekly sacrifice would be greater than if you only saved for one week and then gave up.  Every week, saving $10.00 here, $70.00 there, $100.00 every once in a while might not seem like a big deal at the time, but every penny adds up.  Every time you save makes the habit of saving that much stronger.  The same can be said for  bad habits.  Spending $10.00 here and $70.00 there may not seem like a big deal in the moment.  But over time, that random spending becomes a bad habit and the weight of your debt becomes a heavy burden to carry.

YTD 52 Week BINGO Challenge

Doing the original 52 Week Challenge would result in $1378.00 for the entire year.  Doing the #shemakescents BINGO version has me at $1395.00 YTD with another 19 weeks to go for the rest of the year.

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{Reader Check In} How Are You Doing?

I wanted to take a moment and check-in  on you, readers of shemakescents. With all that is going on in the world know this, you are loved and you are important. Here at shemakecents.com that love and importance of human life transcends race, gender, class, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation, and any other ways that people are discriminated against. Be safe out there and keep pushing toward whatever goals you what to meet.52 Week Challenge

With that being said, I want to encourage those of you who are still committed to the 52 Week BINGO Money Challenge. I am so proud of you! Saving money is the easiest part, the discipline to be consistent every week is the challenge. Today I crossed off $19.00 which puts my at a total savings of $1,194.00 (YTD).  I am so close to my 1st goal of paying off my credit card balance largely in part to my discipline and support from other people in the challenge.  The goal is to go into the month of August with a zero credit card balance.  Stay tuned!

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 If you would like to leave an encouraging message below or an update on your savings goals, I invite you to do so in our comments section below. 

{Financial Cents} BINGO Money Challenge Hits MAJOR Milestone

Coins of Knowledge

Hello Lovelies!  I have some exciting news to share with you this morning.  Yesterday I crossed off $14.00 – doesn’t sound too exciting yet, but wait for it….. – on the 52 Week BINGO Money Challenge.  That $14.00 put me at the $1,000.00 mark for this money challenge!  –INSERT HAPPY DANCE!!!!

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On the same day that I hit the $1,000.00 mark in savings, I also hit the under $1,000.00 mark in my credit card balance!!!  While I am proud of the financial gains made in the first six months of this challenge, I am even more excited about the about the savings habits I have created for myself.  I believe that creating a healthy savings routine is the first step on my journey to DEBT FREE living.  I was chatting with a girlfriend of mine who made the observation that I have only been focusing on saving and not making increasing my sources of income a priority.  In a lot of ways she was correct.  I have placed a serious focus this year on saving because in the past, I would start the year strong with savings goals and plans for myself only to find some of them abandoned by mid-year.  That being said, splitting my focus between increasing streams of income and saving would have only created more problems at that point in my journey when I wasn’t steadfast in making saving a priority.  The phrase, “More Money, More Problems”, exists for a reason.  Without a healthy savings routine and more income coming in, I could have easily  created more debt and worsen bad spending habits.  I have spent the first six months of this year really focusing on correcting past bad behaviors and replacing them with healthy habits.  Now that I have solid saving habits, I can start also focusing on increasing income and using that increase to move on the next snowball in my overall financial plan- student loans debt. I attribute my success to personal will, saying no to social (sometimes), and having accountability partners, like readers of She Makes Cents to help keep me motivated.  I would love to hear how you are doing with this challenge… the good, the bad, and the ugly.  

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Please share below or feel free to email me.

{Week 12} 52 Week BINGO Money Challenge

Coins of KnowledgeHello Lovelies! I must say, this month is flying by. I am staying steadfast with my progress on the 52 Week BINGO Money Challenge, presented by shemakescents.com.  I crossed off $12.00 on my BINGO money sheet.  Last mentioned in week 11, I am redirecting money this month in preparation for another money goal.  That being said, I have crossed off some of the lower numbers this month.  This thing I love about this version of the challenge is that I can adjust my savings based off of my current goals and progress.  I started this year’s challenge with over $5,000.00 is credit card debt and I am down to $2650.00.  Sometimes I feel like that number is moving slowly; however, I have refused to get discouraged.

cropped-logo-twitter2014.jpgWhat is Keeping YOU Motivated?

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{February Recap} 52 Week BINGO Money Challenge

Happy Saturday Lovelies!  I was about to do my regular weekly  update when I realized that the month of February is technically over (based on our BINGO schedule).   Oh how the time flies.  This week I crossed off $25.00 on the shemakescents BINGO money sheet.  Looking at my numbers, I was definitely able to save more in January than I was this month.  I am very proud of my progress and commitment  to this challenge and I am so very proud of those on this challenge with me.  I have heard inspiring stories from college students, mothers, couples, and career millennials.  This reveals to me that this challenge is helpful and fun for a diverse group of people.  My goal for March is to exceed the savings from January (the month  to beat). Since March 1st marks the 5th year anniversary for shemakescents.com I want to do it big!!

52 Week Challenge

Recap By The Numbers

January- $286.00

February- by the weeks

Year to Date Total: $396.00

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