5 Ways to Start Improving Your Credit Score TODAY

Charlie Sheen has coined the phrase “winning” even though my bff claims she has said it for years. The bottom line is that having a great credit score is #WINNING, …duh! I promise, no more Sheen-isms for the rest of this post, but seriously 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. Most people believe that as long as you pay before the due date, you are being financially responsible. Actually, the opposite is true if your goal is to give your credit score a nice boost. 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 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.

      

{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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{Time Is Money} Are You Spending Both Wisely?

Time is Money Quotes from Danielle Vason of shemakescents

It’s safe to say that we have all heard the phrase, time is money.   But what does that really mean?  When considering the quote above, I would say it means that time is valuable.  We can easily recognize the value of money, how great we feel when we spend it wisely, and how annoying it is when we feel that money is wasted.  Those same paradigms should be applied to what I believe to be the most valuable currency that we all have- our time.   

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{World Recycle Week} How To Save On Purchases By Donating Unwanted Clothes

“90% of textile waste is recyclable”

Yesterday after my outdoor yoga class, my friend Dana and I found our way into H&M where the window featured signage about World Recycle Week.  During the campaign period, April 18-24, H&M aims to collect 1,000 tons of unwanted or worn out garments from customers worldwide in its more than 3,600 stores. The initiative is part of H&M’s goal to close the loop in fashion, recycling unwanted garments to create recycled textile fibers for new products.

Woman Closet

The timing could not be more perfect because I have started a Purge, Edit, & Organize (post coming soon) overhaul for my closet.  My plan is to sell the clothes that I no longer wear or fit properly.  Whatever doesn’t sell will be split between the Goodwill and women’s shelters in Atlanta.  Everything else, that I would have normally tossed, will go to H&M for recycling.  I’m not sure if this is the case for all locations, but my local H&M is offering 30% off your entire purchase if you bring in items for recycling.  This could be a win-win situation if you are in the market for a trendy new piece to add to your wardrobe or home.

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{What Is an IRA?} The Millennial Woman’s Guide to Beginners Investing

As a millennial woman, I know many of my female peers shy away from conversations about money and becoming financially fit for fear of looking ignorant for not knowing the basics. Financial vocabulary is spoken and some hear Charlie Brown’s teacher and stop listening. I want to help break down self-imposed barriers that could be keeping us from confidently making smart money moves.

She Makes Cents- IRA.png

THE BASICS

Whether or not you have an interest in saving and/or investing money, I could bet that you have an interest in learning how to make it grow. So listen up, take notes, and let’s start planting financial seeds of knowledge. First up, the IRA.

An IRA or an (Individual Retirement Account) is a savings account where money grows tax-free with a max contribution of no more than $5,550.00 ($6500.00 if you are 50 or older) for 2015 and 2016. TAX FREE. F-R-E-E! That free part is what should make it exciting and intriguing, even for those who have no interest in investing. There are two types of IRA accounts: a Roth IRA and a Traditional IRA and the differences between the two are when you pay taxes on the money. Regardless of the fact that your money is growing tax-free in both types of accounts, you still have to pay Uncle Sam his cut. With a Roth IRA you pay the taxes up front and with a Traditional IRA you pay the taxes at the time of withdrawal. Regardless of the type of IRA you have, you can access your money once you hit 59 ½  years old, without getting hit with a 10% tax penalty for early distribution.

IRAS AND MILLENNIALS

I know, I know….generally speaking millennials are not very interested in saving for retirement. We are, however, very good at saving for the emergency of the present or for big things like college/student loan expenses or even buying a house for the first time. If you needed to tap into your contributions right not, your IRA will give you far more flexibility than a 401K or a 403(b). Assuming you meet the necessary requirements, this type of account can be used to offset qualified education expenses (like tuition, books, fees, supplies, and equipment required for enrolling) if you attend an IRS-approved institution or even buying your first home without penalties.
The best thing yet, if you are a 20 something….or even a 30 something like me, time is still on your side. According to this article entitled, Why You Need A Roth IRA, writer Kevin McCormally explains it well with regards to the Roth IRA, youth, and compounding interest:

“If a 25-year-old contributes $5,000 each year until she retires and makes an average annual return of 8% on her investment, she’ll have $1.4 million saved by the time she retires at age 65. And the money is all hers—she won’t have to give the IRS a cent of it if she waits until retirement to withdraw the earnings”.

Related Article: How Youth Is On Your Side

Although it is already 2016, you still have until the tax deadline to make/claim contributions from last year. That is to say, if you have $5,500.00 laying around in your mattress or in a money market, you might want to consider opening an IRA for that $5,550.00 deductible on your taxes THIS tax season.

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