ecoATM: A Sustainable Way to Earn Instant Cash for Old Smartphones

This is a sponsored post…meaning mutually beneficial. You get access to information about a brand or product that I’m confident you will LOVE (at no cost to you) and I get compensated to tell you about it (which keeps She Makes Cents going strong)! For more information, check out the SMC disclosure policy.


I’ll admit, I’m a little out of practice when it comes to small talk (thank you maternity leave, and quarantine).   Yet, when I found myself discussing my collection of unused cell phones in the middle of an Atlanta United MLS game, it wasn’t because of my out-of-practice social skills.  Rather, it was an example of a meeting of the minds.  The cool breeze from the retractable roof of Mercedes Benz Stadium, the sound of fan cheers for the home team, and the ambiance of the private suite created a perfect backdrop to enjoy meeting a curated and diverse group of guests of ecoATM, who invest in people, their communities, and the planet.  

ecoATM is a global smartphone and mobile device trade-in leader who is the official smartphone trade-in partner of Atlanta United.  During the final four home games of the season, one of which I was able to attend, fans were given the opportunity to donate used smartphones at designated stadium drop-off locations.  ecoATM then donated 40% of revenues from smartphones dropped off by Atlanta United fans at Mercedes-Benz Stadium to Cell Phones For Soldiers, a national nonprofit 501(c)3 organization dedicated to providing cost-free communication services, devices, and emergency funding to active-duty military members and veterans. According to Chief Marketing Officer, Tony Rome, “Our partnership with Atlanta United and Cell Phones For Soldiers is a powerful way for fans to support our troops and move used devices from sitting in a drawer to powering new dreams. That’s sustainability in action.”

What makes ecoATM different from other trade-in options available is that they leverage technology to develop a safe and secure solution to help increase the recycling rate for electronic devices. While yes, there are other trade-in options on the market, some of which may even offer a higher payout, it is rare to find an option that gives you cash on the spot… hence the ATM part of their name.  

Are you looking to clean out your junk drawer? Do you have a device so old that you are unable to trade it in with your mobile carrier?  Is it important to you that your unused smartphone does not end up in a landfill?  Could you use cash in your hand today?  If you answered yes to any or all of these questions, you should consider ecoATM as a safe and reliable option.

Before heading to one of the thousands of ecoATM kiosks across the country,  I recommend that you get a price estimate on their website or lock in your price offer on the ecoATM app.  That way, you know upfront how much cashback you should expect for each device you sell.  To get the actual price (and not an estimate), you will be asked to connect your phone to the kiosk so it can check the electronics while doing a visual evaluation. Once the evaluation is complete you will be offered a price. A popular and fully functional device will get a higher price than an older or damaged device but they also claim to pay the best prices they can for phones that are damaged or don’t work.  You then have the choice to accept or reject the offer.  If you accept the offer, you get paid…in CASH… on the spot.  That sounds like a good way to add a little extra to one of your sinking funds, don’t you think?

Meeting the team from ecoATM was such an eye-opening experience because the concept aligns with money and environmental sustainability values that I already invest time and energy into. According to the Pew Research Center, 91% of American adults own a cell phone, 55% own a smartphone, but only 20% of unwanted cell phones are recycled each year.  I am an avid recycler but I have never thought about how to responsibly get rid of unused devices.  Some of my devices are so old that having the opportunity to sell or recycle in a way that doesn’t further contribute to eWaste inspires me to take a “don’t trash it, cash it” approach to my debilitated smartphone collection.


Are You an Emotional Spender?

Emotional spending is when you buy things you don’t need to mask or dull emotions or with the hope that the purchase will make you feel happier. While spending can make you feel happier in the moment, you are often left with a spending hangover. Emotional spending can get the best of us, especially during after a year full of ups and downs. Mint, provided a wonderful visual breaks down what emotional spending is, the different emotional spending trigger types, and how to counteract each type of emotional spending.

Check it out!


The Ultimate Guide to Making Your Money Goals S.M.A.R.T.E.R

When it comes to goal-setting, the S.M.A.R.T. goal system reigns supreme in its methodology. According to this approach, goals should be specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely. To make them S.M.A.R.T.E.R., goals must also be able to be evaluated and rewarded or readjusted.

This year, the hubby and I made the joint decision to focus our financial efforts on making a dent in the balance on his car. In theory, this is a good goal but because it’s vague AF without a clear timeline, among other things, it’s not a S.M.A.R.T. goal. So back to the drawing board we went.

How to Make Your Money Goals S.M.A.R.T.E.R by top Atlanta personal finance blogger, Danielle YB Vason of She Makes Cents

How To Make Your Goals More Specific

Ask yourself these questions: What do you want to achieve?  Why do you want to achieve it?  Who needs to be on board for this goal to be successful? If your written goal doesn’t address these questions, then revise.

We needed to improve our goal because we didn’t clarify what a “dent” represented numerically.  Was a dent $1,000.00, $5,000.00, $10,000 or more?  I realized quickly that we were not on the same page.  Making a dent in the remaining balance for his car became a more specific goal once we decided we wanted to get our balance down from $17,601.01 to $5,000.00 or less by the last day of this year.  To be successful at this money goal, my hubby and I would need to combine forces because our “dent” represented a $12,601.00 reduction.  This goal is important to us because the sooner this debt is eliminated, the sooner we will be debt-free (not including mortgages), we can move on to Dave Ramsey’s Baby Step 3, and focus on increasing our savings and sinking fund contributions.

Giving this goal a deadline of the last day of the year OR a balance of $5,000.00, whichever comes first, makes it measurable and timely.  It checks off both prerequisites because it identifies how and when we would consider this goal accomplished.

Are Your Goals Realistic & Attainable?

Setting unrealistic goals is a set up for failure and defeat- both of which can kill your spirit and drive to pursue future goals.  This is why if you follow Dave Ramsey’s Baby Steps the first step is to save only $1,000 because the gratification of reaching your first goal inspires you to move on to the second.  

Setting goals that are too easy can also be a set up for failure because an easy goal requires lower expelled energy and effort, which lowers motivation.  Finding the right balance is like Goldielock’s breaking and entering to find the perfect porridge.  Your goal has to be just right…

In her book, Boss Women Pray, by Kachelle Kelly, she asserts that “a goal can be both lofty and practical”.  When I read that, I immediately thought about how the idea of paying off my student loans was a lofty goal but also attainable.  The success in that was breaking the BIG GOAL down into smaller goals with specific benchmarks until the BIG GOAL no longer seemed so…well, big.

For the case of our $12,601.00 goal, it is a bit lofty in the sense that it requires us to expel higher energy, intention, discipline, and sacrifice for it to be achievable. Once we set down and figured out how much we could afford to put into this goal right away and then figured out how much we would need to save per quarter to stay on track, our joint goal also became practical. I even went so far as to break the goal down on a micro level to see how much we would need to save per month and per week to stay on track.  Seeing those numbers and that information all at once, made the goal that could seem too lofty become feasible with the right amount of effort and action.

Even though paying off $12,601 on the car loan doesn’t eliminate the debt completely, it is relevant because it does link to the larger objective of ultimately paying the car off in full.  Once we reach our goal this year, we will only be $5,000.00 away from a debt free life (not including mortgages). 

Going the Extra Step from S.M.A.R.T. Goals to S.M.A.R.T.E.R. Goals

The difference between the S.M.A.R.T. and S.M.A.R.T.E.R. goals acronym is the “E” and the “R”, which represents evaluated and rewarded or readjusted.  In your goal-setting journey, it is imperative that you evaluate your goals on a regular basis to make sure you are on track.  This is why the #SMCmoneytribe check-ins occur weekly (join the SMC Money Tribe on Facebook). If you find yourself off track and constantly dodging obstacles, then it is time to revisit the goal, tweak where it is necessary, and get back on the goal-setting journey.   If, however, your regular check-ins reveal that you are on track for the timeline for your goal execution, take a moment and celebrate that!  Taking the time to acknowledge where you started versus how it’s going, not only honors your hard work, but it may also inspire someone else in the process.


GRAB YOUR S.M.A.R.T.E.R. MONEY GOALS PRINTABLE?

Often women are left to fend for themselves with regards to money matters. As an active member of the #SMCmoneytribe, you will no longer have to walk the path toward financial freedom and a fabulous lifestyle alone. Should you get off track, you can always catch up or start over, we just ask that you don’t give up on this challenge, your goals, or yourself. YOU can do it and you have an entire TRIBE of people cheering you on.

How To Jumpstart Your Money Goals with the SMC Money Saving Challenge

Hey there, goal-setter!  I see YOU.  You are looking toward the new year and you are ready to make some changes.  You recognize what worked for you financially and what didn’t this past year and you are finally ready to do something your future self will thank you for.     

If this sounds like you, keep reading because the SMC Money Challenge may be just what you need…

WHAT IS THE 52 WEEK SMC MONEY CHALLENGE?

The SMC Money Challenge is back for its SEVENTH year!  This challenge is a weekly savings plan that works for everyone, no matter one’s level of financial literacy or income.  Hint Hint: accept the challenge, your future self (one year from now) will thank you! Every week you will cross off a number between 1-52 and apply that amount toward your money goal(s).   Bonus boxes are also available for those looking to push themselves to save even more.  SMC Money Tribe member, Cari, took advantage of the SMC Money Challenge bonus boxes on her money tracker and saved $15,000.00 in last year’s challenge. In the past three years, SMC Money Tribe leader, Danielle YB Vason and her husband used this challenge to pay off $44,000.00 in debt. Now, imagine what your money success story will be.

How to Jump Start Your Money Goals In the New Year from Personal Finance Blog, She Makes Cents

WHO IS THE SMC MONEY TRIBE?

The SMC Money Tribe is a community of goal-setting women who accepted the challenge to invest in their money and lifestyle goals with the best accountability partners out there- other women who are also shifting mindsets while tackling debt, saving money, and replacing bad money habits with smart money moves.   

Those who accept the challenge are most successful when they also join the SMC Money Tribe Facebook group for weekly check-ins to share their progress, ask questions, and cheer each other on.  By saving something every week, you get to practice your saving habit over and over until it becomes a lifestyle.  Remember, personal finance is 80% behavior and 20% knowledge.

SMC Money Tribe member, Cari, took advantage of the SMC Money Challenge bonus boxes on her money tracker and saved $15,000.00 in last year’s challenge.  

WHEN DOES THE CHALLENGE BEGIN?

Mark your calendars, the SMC Money Challenge begins Friday, January 1, 2021.  After that, weekly check-ins will open up every Thursday at 11:00am (EST) and will stay open until Friday night on the SMC Facebook Group.  During that time, SMC Money Tribe members are expected to invest in their goals by actively participating in weekly progress updates, money chats, and mini-challenges.  Interactive content related to the challenge will also be available on the @shemakescents Instagram page.

HOW TO JOIN THE 2021 SMC MONEY CHALLENGE

  1. Follow @shemakescents on Instagram
  2. Post this image below in your Instagram Story  (you MUST tag @shemakescents to I can see it).
  3. Join the SMC Facebook Group (this will be your home base for the tribe to ask questions, support each other, and hold each other accountable).
  4. Download your 2021 SMC Money Challenge Guides- Instagram version or Print version (Challenge Hack: Use the Instagram version to share your progress with the tribe & print the main version to add more private information to track your more personal goals at home).
  5. Set a calendar weekly to save your money & check-in

ARE YOU READY TO JUMPSTART YOUR MONEY GOALS?

Often women are left to fend for themselves with regards to money matters. As an active member of the #SMCmoneytribe, you will no longer have to walk the path toward financial freedom and a fabulous lifestyle alone. Should you get off track, you can always catch up or start over, we just ask that you don’t give up on this challenge, your goals, or yourself. YOU can do it and you have an entire TRIBE of people cheering you on!

HOW TO SELECT THE PERFECT POWER WORD OF THE YEAR

Oh…My….Goodness.  We did it.  We survived 2020 (assuming we make it the next few days) and that is not to be taken lightly.  So now that you survived let’s get 2021 in order.  If you are a long time follower of She Makes Cents, you know that we start every new year with a power word/ word of the year to help set our intention. So let’s get started.

HOW TO SELECT THE PERFECT POWER WORD OF THE YEAR

When choosing a word of the year it is important to select a word that is both inspirational and aspirational. Power words are often verbs because they require action on your part to fully integrate them into your life. That’s right, it is time to be intentional with our actions. Ask yourself, what doesn’t feel like [your power word] in your life right now? Think about how you could apply your word to your goals for yourself. For example, the team from Dave Ramsey.com shares 7 areas in your life for S.M.A.R.T. goals. The goal categories are financial goals, spiritual goals, educational goals, career goals, family goals, fitness goals, and social goals. Does your word of the year apply to any, if not all, of the S.M.A.R.T. goal categories? If so, keep reading.

WHY POWER WORDS ARE EFFECTIVE

A power word is like a New Year’s resolution but so much better. When used correctly, it guides the intentions and goals that one sets for oneself. Since 2013, I have asked She Makes Cents readers to share one word to reflect their personal goals/resolutions/vision for the year ahead and the response every year is inspiring. I love doing this because with every 365 days that go by, we evolve and our needs, wants, and aspirations change. I am not the same person I was at the beginning of 2020 and my mental, physical, financial, and emotional evolution this year has inspired my power word for 2021.

Unlike in previous years, my 2021 power word works for every aspect of my life: financial, personal development, career, lifestyle, and quarantine life.

Looking back at my earlier power words, I remember where I was in my life, what was important, and what I needed to work on. In 2013 my word was balance. Then came focus (2014), passion (2015), bravery (2016), intention (2017), declutter (2018), bloom (2019) – fun fact, my daughter was born in 2019 and her name, Chloe, means “to bloom and discipline (2020). This year, I am very proud to share that my word of the year is SIMPLIFY.  

Power Word of the Year 2021 by Top Personal Finance and Lifestyle Blogger, Danielle YB Vason, of She Makes Cents.

By definition, simplify is a verb that means to make [something] less complex or complicated; make plainer or easier. For the year 2021, I challenge myself to simplify my financial goals, family goals, fitness goals, personal development goals, and every other area of my life.  I am looking forward to uncomplicating my life, goals, and actions and I look forward to seeing how much has changed one year from now.


I would love to hear your POWER Word of the Year. Please share your 2021 Word of the Year in the comments below, or hop over to the SMC Instagram to share your word there!


How I Reached My 2020 Money Goal Despite A Financial Pandemic

At the beginning of 2020, I set a goal to get my mortgage balance on our rental property under $40,000. I wrote the goal down on a post-it, shared it in the #SMCMoneyTribe group on Facebook, and dedicated one month of my SMC Money Challenge savings toward a large principal payment on my mortgage. Four weeks later, the Coronavirus pandemic hit followed by a financial pandemic and I forgot all about my BIG GOAL. At that point in 2020, my focus was trying to find toilet paper and make sure my family was fed.

Top Atlanta financial blogger, Danielle YB Vason, shares how she reached her 2020 money goal despite the financial pandemic

I started the year with “discipline” as my power word but “pivoting” became more appropriate. I had to pivot when some of my income sources became unreliable and my 2020 money goal got further and further out of focus. Then one day, after months of quarantining, I found my little post-it displaying my BIG GOAL. I took a moment and thought about how it would feel to have my mortgage look like most people’s new car payment. I thought about the long term money goals that my husband and I have for our family of three (plus 2 fur babies). Then…I thought about what it would feel like if it was paid off completely. Could I reach my goal by getting my mortgage under $40,000.00 this year? I wasn’t sure, but I sure as hell was going to try.

Since I wasn’t planning on traveling anytime soon due to the Coronavirus, I pivoted and used my travel sinking fund to make a principal payment in addition to the monthly mortgage & escrow payments. Then anytime I had extra money from a sinking fund, I would send another payment. One principle payment was as low as $15.00 but I didn’t care because that meant I was $15.00 closer to my goal. On December 11, 2020, I sent my last principal payment of $80.00 and with that payment, I hit my BIG MONEY GOAL for 2020. My current mortgage balance is $39,977.20. I am so proud of myself and I can’t wait to see what 2021 brings.

I walked into 2020 with excitement and hope. I plan to leave it with excitement that I survived and gratitude for both the big and small wins of this year.


WANT TO REACH YOUR 2021 GOALS?

Invest in your money and lifestyle goals with the #SMCMoneyTribe by following along. You will be informed, inspired, and empowered to use your “cents” to live the #fablife.


Why Yearly Power Words Are Important for Goal-Setters

 

2020 Word of the Year from top Atlanta blogger, Danielle YB Vason of She Makes Cents>

A power word is like a New Year’s resolution but so much better. When used correctly, it guides the intentions and goals that one sets for oneself. Since 2013, I have asked She Makes Cents readers to share one word to reflect their personal goals/resolutions/vision for the year ahead and the response every year is inspiring. I love doing this because with every 365 days that go by, we evolve and our needs, wants, and aspirations change. Looking back at my earlier power words, I remember where I was in my life, what was important, and what I needed to work on. In 2013 my word was balance. Then came focus (2014), passion (2015), bravery (2016), intention (2017), declutter (2018) and bloom (2019).  Fun fact, my daughter was born in 2019 and her name, Chloe, means “to bloom”.

2020 Word of the Year from top Atlanta blogger, Danielle YB Vason of She Makes CentsMy power word for 2020 is DISCIPLINED. By definition, being disciplined is being trained to develop through self-control. The word “disciplined” is one that I will apply to every area of my life in a mental, physical, and spiritual sense. I will take this year as an opportunity to take a disciplined approach to complete the money challenge, hitting my milestones for my long term goals, and setting time aside for self-care. I was inspired by this quote, “You will never ALWAYS be motivated, so you must learn to be DISCIPLINED”. Truth be told, it is easy to be great when you are energized and motivated. The true value of a disciplined mindset reveals itself when you are too tired to keep pushing, when temptation is in the midst, and when distractions are everywhere but you’re strict with your goals and prevail anyway.

I’m so excited to apply a power word to my year and this one is all-encompassing to several areas of my life. I know many people do not do resolutions anymore, but I still do. Now that I have my word of the year, I can clarify my money, career, and lifestyle goals.

Talk to me in the comments below, what one word to reflect their personal goals/resolutions/vision for the year ahead?

The Goal Setting Hack You Should Do BEFORE Starting Any Money Saving Challenge

BEFORE THE CHALLENGE

REFLECTION: WHERE DO YOU SEE YOURSELF ONE YEAR FROM NOW?

One of the powerful tools for goal planning is the ability to visualize a goal.  Many high achievers use visualization techniques as a practice to “see” their desired outcomes for themselves even before they happen.  As we approach the beginning of a new She Makes Cents Money Challenge, I will guide members of the #SMCmoneytribe, both new and old, by providing a weekly roadmap to success.  By engaging tried and true success techniques, our tribe will not only reach our goals for ourselves in the new year but surpass them.

Before we begin our new money savings challenge on week 1 of 2019, you need to first take a moment and write a quick letter to yourself..  The letter should be from your future self…one year from now, painting a picture of what you want your life to look like.  Make sure you include your big money goals, savings goals, and/or goals for your sinking funds.   Be as specific as you can because the more details you include the more you can prepare your mind to accept the image as possible.  Also, the challenge will get….well challenging.  Many people start out the year enthused and excited and slowly lose focus or discipline along the way.  By having this letter for yourself, when times get tough and “life happens” (my version of Dave Ramsey’s “Murphy”) it is nice to have this letter…this promise to yourself to inspire you and get you back on track.   Just think how nice it will be when you are looking back on your year, one year from now, and everything that you envisioned for yourself and family have manifested.

Do Something Your Future Self Will Thank You For- Motivational Quotes from Personal Finance Blog, She Makes Cents

Below is a letter to my future self…

One year from now I am… driving around in my BMW that was PAID IN FULL 4.2 years ahead of schedule.  This happened back in February of 2019. I feel so relieved that I was able to eliminate another debt so that as a household, we can move on to our FINAL DEBT  in Baby Step 2 (BS2).  Not only does this get me and my household one step closer to our #debtfree goal, but it provides a little financial cushion/security for when “life happens”. One year from now my hubby and I have put a major dent in his car payoff because we have opted to snowball the money was used to pay off my car and students loans to pay off his car ahead of schedule, add to our sinking funds, and increase our savings.  We began the year with $26,176.81 of debt left on baby step 2 (BS2) and we are ending the year having paid over $10,000.00 toward our debt.

See how I am claiming that in advance?  When you think positively, write down your goals, affirm your plan, you prepare your mind to accept those positive affirmations as true.

[Related Post: How to Attract Financial Abundance]

Working on our finances together has strengthened our marriage because it gives us another opportunity to work together as a team.  We are better together and making better financial decisions is just one example of that. One year from now, we have funded sinking funds that covered ALL of our holiday expenses, our flights for travel, and those “oh shit” moments like replacing an AC unit or repairs for the bimmer.  We are building for a better future one dollar at a time.  We are happy.  We are one step closer to being 100% debt free (not including our mortgages) before my 35th birthday in 2020.

This exercise may feel strange at first because you are talking about things that haven’t yet happened in the past tense. You are reflecting on things that are not real…yet. It is important, though, because when the financial discipline required for this challenge starts to fade, you will have this vision…this image to inspire yourself to keep going even though the going may be getting tough.


Pro Tip:  Create a She Makes Cents Money Challenge folder and let this letter to yourself be the first thing you put in your folder.  The 2019 She Makes Cents Money Challenge will include several prompts and freebies throughout the year and keeping your folder in a safe place that you can access weekly will render BIG results.  If you want to be successful, this is one of the very first things you should do BEFORE the challenge starts January 3, 2019.


Goal Planning- Questions to ask yourself when setting goals from personal finance blog, She Makes Cents

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Regions Bank Brings High-Tech Banks to Atlanta

This is a sponsored post…meaning mutually beneficial.  You get access to information about a brand or product that I’m confident you will LOVE (at no cost to you) and I get compensated to tell you about it (which keeps She Makes Cents going strong)!  For more information, check out the SMC disclosure policy.


When Regions Bank, Member FDIC, asked me to share how they are enhancing the banking experience with their branches, I knew it was something the Atlanta members of the #SMCmoneytribe, specifically, would benefit from.

Regions Bank will open new high-tech bank branches in two metro Atlanta communities before the end of the year.  Each branch will offer innovative services and convenient features tailored to meet the needs of people on the go.  The mix of modern design, advanced technology, and access to face to face guidance will create a hybrid of service and technology that ensures a simple banking experience for busy customers.

Regions High Tech Banks- She Makes Cents

This is a good thing for the Atlanta area especially at a time when some banks are purging brick and mortar locations, customer services, and in-person interactions in exchange for computerized “assistants” who, at best, can connect your call or tell you your account balance. Regions, however, is blazing the trail by embracing traditional customer service with a modern technological twist.  In lieu of the traditional teller line, each customer is greeted by a Regions banker who will help you with a variety of services ranging from cashing checks to stuffing your money envelopes, accepting deposits for your sinking funds, as well as opening savings and checking accounts.  Interactions like these are important because they create a comfort level and trust between customers and those who service their financial transactions. Personally speaking, such service also lessens the opportunity for me to look like a lunatic yelling “speak to the representative” for the 5th time into my phone at an automated “assistant” because I can save time by skipping teller lines and automated calls to actually…WAIT FOR IT….speak to a real person.  GO FIGURE!

Regions Technology That Enhances The Banking Experience

The new branches will also offer new innovative services like Video Teller machines (VTM) that connect customers with a Regions Video Banker via a two-way video.  Video banking provides another option to speak directly to a representative who is equipped to process most teller transactions, help customers with account maintenance, and other general inquiries.  I imagine this feature will be most appreciated by busy customers who need assistance from a banker during extended hours on weekdays, as well as, weekends and most holidays.

Interior Branch Shot.jpgIn addition to video banking, Regions will provide its customers with advanced features such as DepositSmart ATMs that gives customers 24-hour access to accept deposits and cash checks and facial recognition/fingerprint technology for a more secure and efficient banking experience for those who have safety deposit boxes located at that branch.

Service That Enhances The Banking Experience

Whether it’s online or face to face, Regions is committed to helping customers achieve their long-term financial goals through advice, guidance, and education.  Seriously, when was the last time you could say that about a bank? As an Atlanta native, I look forward to seeing the impact of Regions to assist customers to reach their financial milestones and help people focus on more life and worry less about money.

Check out the new branches

North Decatur Square Inline
1565 Church Street- Suite 570
Decatur, GA 30033
Branch Opening: Dec. 10, 2018

Parkaire Landing
680 Johnson Ferry Road
Marietta, GA 30068
Branch Opening: Dec. 17, 2018

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Is the UltraFICO Score the Best Way To Boost YOUR Credit Score?

A new credit scoring system, called the UltraFICO Score, is being introduced in the new year and it could mean a boost in your credit score, making it easier for you to get better rates for large purchases like a car or home.  Launching in early 2019, this scoring system is designed to validate the score of consumers, but more importantly, it will be used to assess the willingness of consumers to share their personal financial data for a potentially higher score.  By opting in and linking with your checking, savings or money market accounts, your UltraFICO Score enhances your credit score based on indicators of responsible financial behavior.

The model, developed by FICO, will be implemented through Experian and borrower data will be aggregated through Finicity.  The UltraFICO score is slated to potentially boost the credit scores of 7 million people with financially savvy millennials in one of the best positions to take advantage of the new score system.  The UltraFICO score isn’t for everyone, but it just may be a great tool for you.

UltraFICO Score Explained- She Makes Cents.png

Is the UltaFICO Score Right for Me?

According to the UltraFICO press release, “Experian, FICO and Finicity estimate this new score has the potential to improve credit access for the majority of Americans and is particularly relevant for those who fall in the grey area in terms of credit scores (scores in the upper 500s to lower 600s) or fall just below a lender’s score cut-off”.  The process for applying for loans will remain the same, with loan providers checking your FICO score. If you are rejected from a loan based on your FICO credit score, you may request that they pull your UltraFICO which then takes into consideration the way you handle your physical money in your checking, savings, and money market accounts. If you make more deposits than withdrawal, have no bounced checks,  maintain an average account balance and don’t have a history of overdrawn accounts, for example, then it may present you as more creditworthy than when considering your FICO score alone.

Again, this applies best to those who fall in the grey areas of credit scores.

Why the UltraFICO Score Could Be A Good Things for Millennials

Millennials are known for a lot of things, good and bad, but one thing I can say for sure, we learned a thing or two from the Great Recession of 2007-2008 when many of us were in college, graduating college, or in our first job right out of college. I mention this because that terrible time for the US economy taught millennials the importance of putting money aside in savings. A survey from Transamerica found that fully 39% of millennials are defined as “super savers” since they are saving more than 10% of their salary.  That’s close to the 15% experts often recommend.

Millennials have delayed several life milestones, like buying a house, because student loan debt is factored into one’s credit score.  Now, if someone were to opt-in to the UltaFICO Score for consideration when trying to be approved for a mortgage, it may be into their best interest to leverage their checking and savings account data to access more lending options and better terms.  Especially when the access to one’s financial data supports the super savers finding from the Transamerica survey.

Why I Don’t Believe the Hype of the UltraFICO Score 

There are several scenarios where I can see the UltraFICO Score as a smart money move, especially for those who are looking to secure an affordable mortgage.  If leveraging your data can help get you approved for a mortgage or even a lower interest rate, then by all means, make that smart money move, girlfriend.  Like I said earlier, it isn’t for everyone but it just may be the measurement tool for you.  

Personally, my mind flagged some of the language used in the UltraFICO Score press release and on the FICO website and my spidey senses (also known as my intuition) were tingling.  Both the press release and the website used basic persuasive writing techniques by infusing the announcement with positive power words like “empower” and “control” to give consumers the feeling that they are in control of their own credit score destiny. Yes, in theory, you are in control of your credit score, but sometimes past decisions and life circumstances are a more powerful reflection of why your credit score is what it is. I interpreted FICO’s declaration stating, “you are in control of your credit score”  to mean that if you choose to opt-in to this new scoring model then you are controlling the boost that your UltraFICO score may reflect.

The thing is, rarely do we get something for free. In this instance, this consumer empowerment message that you are being sold is for the bartered price of your personal financial data.  In a world where personal data is just as valuable as money, if not more, it makes me wonder if we as consumers are being blinded by the smoke and mirrors of a better credit score.  Just think of how much your financial data is really worth if they are willing to give you a little credit boost in exchange for it.

Only time will tell how this will really impact the scores of those who decide to opt-in.  As more information is available, the questions that many of us have will hopefully provide more insight in deciding which score, FICO or UltraFICO would be best for you.

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