How The Debt to Credit Ratio Affects Your Credit Score

debt-to-credit-ratio-credit-score-she-makes-centsLast year, one of my girlfriends and I decided that we were going to pay off our credit cards at the same time.  I was paying down debt to start my snowball and get me one step closer to Dave Ramsey’s Baby Step Three.  She was knocking down her revolving debt before she purchased her first home.  In the process of us paying down our credit cards, we were both offered limit increases from our perspective credit card companies.  I accepted the increase and she declined. Her rationale to decline was that she was trying to get rid of her monthly credit card payments because a limit increase would only entice her to spend.  For me, accepting the almost $5,000.00 increase meant that I was lowering my debt to credit ratio.

What is A Debt to Credit Ratio?

A debt to credit ratio or a credit utilization ratio is just as it sounds….It’s the ratio of how much money you owe a particular debt as compared to the credit limit.  If you have $4,000.00 balance on $10,000.00 credit limit, your debt represents 40% of your credit limit.  The lower the ratio or percentage the better impact one’s credit score.

How The Debt to Credit Ratio Affects Your Credit Score

Outside of your payment history, your “amount owed” or debt to credit ratio, is the second highest factor in calculating an estimated 30% your credit score.  Keep your balance under the 30% mark and you stay on the lower side of the debt to credit ratio, which is where most personal finance gurus would urge you to stay if you have to carry a balance.

At the same time that my credit card limit jumped up $5,000.00, my balance was quickly decreasing and I had a credit score of 786.   The next month it moved up six points and stayed that way for three months.   In July, the month I paid off my credit card, it jumped to 806 for about two months.  I started using my credit card just a little bit carrying a small balance and it went back down to an 800 for about three months.  I was on a high when I saw my score increasing so to see the decrease was disappointing…even if it was only a 6 point drop.  I vowed then to do whatever I could to not let my credit card balance roll over to the next month ever again.   I am happy to report that I currently have an 810 credit score.  Moral of the story… lower your debt to credit ratio and it will have a positive impact on your credit score.  You can do this by making on time payments to lower your debt balances and if you are offered a limit increase, take it only if you can continue to be responsible with your financial goals.shemakescents-com

Dave Ramsey’s 7 Baby Steps Explained

Hey #SMCmoneytribe!  Yesterday I took a little time out of my day to create an infographic for you that provides a quick overview into Dave Ramsey’s Baby Steps.  I wanted to do this for you because I reference these steps in a lot of my writing because they have become the meat and potatoes of my financial plan.  If you are a long time reader of She Makes Cents, you might remember when I was so excited to get to the second part of Baby Step 2 that I tried a risky financial move of playing financial Russian Roulette.  Let’s just say the outcome was not what I expected when my car broke down one week later and I only had half of an emergency fund to help me out.  (P.S. According to Ramsey, car maintenance is not an emergency and rather something that should be budgeted for).she makes cents

cropped-logo-twitter2014.jpg  Visit SMC on Facebook  Visit SMC on Twitter  Visit SMC on Twitter  Visit SMC  Email SMC

info@shemakescents.com |  Instagram  @shemakescents 

{Money & Relationships} 20 Hard Money Questions For Couples

c36b47b7eaef3c782b1c9929f54f11cb.jpg

{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!!!!

giphy

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.  

cropped-logo-twitter2014.jpg  Visit SMC on Facebook  Visit SMC on Twitter  Visit SMC on Twitter  Visit SMC  Email SMC

shemakescents{at}gmail {dot}com |  Instagram  @shemakescents 

Please share below or feel free to email me.

{Financial Cents} A Quick Tip to Help You Pay Down Debt

Happy Hump Day Lovelies!  I wanted to give you a quick tip that I am using to help me pay down my credit card debt.  If you can, I would recommend you plan your payments on debt such as your mortgage and credit cards to bi-weekly payments.  Since there are two months out of the year that have five weeks, you end up with an extra month’s payment at the end of the year.  Those payments can be applied directly to the principal, which I recommend, or give you the opportunity to have these loans paid one month in advanced.

stylefinest.co (1).pngPROS

  • It helps you pay off debt faster
  • Reduces the amount of interest you have to pay back over the life of the loan

CONS

  • All lenders and credit card companies do not allow you to split your payments. If this is the case, you can create a money envelope for that extra payment you will have at the end of the year and use it to pay on top of your monthly minimum. It’s not a true “con” on the pros and cons list, but it does require an extra step and discipline to not spend that money

cropped-logo-twitter2014.jpg  Visit SMC on Facebook  Visit SMC on Twitter  Visit SMC on Twitter  Visit SMC  Email SMC

shemakescents{at}gmail {dot}com |  Instagram  @shemakescents 

{Week 21 Update} 52 Week Challenge Helped Me Hit A Financial Milestone!

It’s week 21 of the 52 Week Challenge and I am five weeks away from the half-way point of the challenge I started on Friday, January 3, 2014. Over the course of 21 weeks, I have saved over $500.00 dollars that I would have spent on random bits and baubles. Doing this challenge, along with deciding to play a little Russian roulette with my finances, has helped me to pay off my ENTIRE credit card balance three months ahead of schedule.

52 Week ChallengeWhile some may think a money challenge like this is not worth the effort, I strongly disagree. Not only are you putting money aside for whatever your current financial goal may be, be it paying down debt, saving for a new car or home, or planning a wedding, you are also altering your previous financial behaviors. Personal finance is 80% BEHAVIOR and only 20% HEAD KNOWLEDGE! Just taking the steps to start a challenge like this means that you are getting into the habit of saving. Becoming successful in the challenge means that it has become a part of your lifestyle and not a temporary behavior change. I urge you, if you have thought about ways to save money to try this challenge BINGO style. It’s the easiest way to save extra money under your own terms.

Email me for a copy of my 52 Week Challenge Sheet & Start the Challenge TODAY!

Let’s Connect!

FACEBOOK, TWITTER, PINTEREST, RSS Feed,

Email SMC: shemakescents@gmail.com

{Debt Management} Is This Super Easy Financial Move Worth The Risk?

You Get Out of Debt The Same Way You Learned How to Walk- One Step At A Time

Dave Ramsey

I am from the generation of instant results. Sometimes this can be a bad thing, but in this case, I think my generational behavior will pay off. I am working toward my next financial goal of having a zero balance on my credit card by August 1, 2014. Once I reach my goal, I plan to only use the card for things that can be paid off before the end of the billing cycle (if I must use the card at all). Last year, my balance reached over $5300.00 and my monthly bill was putting a wrench in my spending/savings plan. That was my “aha moment”. It was then that I decided to take full control over my financial situation by not only setting goals, but dates to meet the goals. Financial coach and author, Dave Ramsey, believes that you get out of debt the same way you learned to walk—one step at a time. For this idea, Ramsey created 7 Baby Steps to help people beat debt and build wealth. The first Baby Step is to start an Emergency Fund of $1000.00. Once you’ve completed Baby Step One, you then move on to Baby Step Two where you start to pay off debt using the Snowball Method. I’m at Step Two and I am trying to pay off my credit card and then move on to my student loan debts as fast as possible. This led me to a thought one day to do something extremely risky….

Credit Card copy

Playing Russian Roulette With My Finances

In my Week 14 update of my money challenge, I relieved for the first time just how I have gone from balance of $5300.00 to a $1345.00. The closer I get to the $1000.00 mark the more crazy ideas flow through my head.

For instance, I came up with the idea, a while ago, to go against Ramsey’s advice and completely deplete my emergency fund.  I would do this only when I got my credit card balance under the $1000.00 mark. The Pro to that idea is that I will immediately have a ZERO balance by using the Emergency Fund to pay off the remaining balance. The CON… well we call it an “emergency” for a reason. It is a somewhat good idea if I had a crystal ball and a glimpse that there would be no financial emergencies soon. No one can foresee when you really need to tap into that fund. Plus, not having the funds at all will send you right back into debt because you will have to cover the “emergency” with credit or even worse, borrowing from someone else.

Keeping my original idea in my, I considered a tapered down version of my risky plan. Instead of depleting the Emergency Fund completely, I would take out $500.00 and apply it to my credit card balance once I got under the $1000.00 mark. Doing so will help me to reach the zero balance goal, two months ahead of time and stay on track with my financial plan. Once the credit card balance is paid in full, I would then continue my normal $300.00 per month + money from the 52 Week Money Challenge to replenish the Emergency Fund until August 1st. Because I have eliminated interest, I would actually end up with $100.00 extra going back into my Emergency Fund.

If You Were Me, What Would You Do?

FACEBOOK, TWITTER, PINTEREST, RSS Feed,

Email SMC: shemakescents@gmail.com

~ Update: Click here to see what Danielle decided to do ~

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

She Makes CentsWanting to get control of your finances is great, but there is nothing like the empowering feeling of knowing when this MAJOR life goal could actually be attainable. After examining my debts, pay off amounts, and interest rates, I am proud to announce that my magic number is 8 years and 3 months to be debt free! Having an end date for a goal helps to make it more tangible and keeps me encouraged to hit my payment milestones from my personalized Financial Plan.

One Year from Now- Operation Credit Card

In January of this year, I revealed that I racked up $5300.00 in credit card debt, after getting it down to a zero balance. It happened by not adapting my spending habits to my drop in income. Today, that balance is now around $3400.00 by paying a little more every month on the minimum and doing the 52 Week Money Challenge (Bingo Style). Dare I say it out loud, I will have NO credit card debt by this time next year (insert fireworks here)! I’m truly proud of the way I have tackled this particular debt obstacle because I’m doing it at my own speed. I don’t even miss the extra money that I’m using to knock the balance down faster. If I were okay with just paying the minimum, it would take me 4 years and 3 months, instead of one year, to complete step one of my financial plan. Once the credit card is paid off, my monthly credit card payments will become extra payments to my student loans and so on…this is called the Snowball Method.

Four and a Half Years from Now- Goodbye Sallie Mae

debt-freeI have a love/hate relationship with Sallie Mae. Although we go back about ten years, she is not my friend nor is she yours. Don’t let her fool you. Yes, in times of financial need, she was there but in reality most people end up paying more than double for their educational loans. Currently, I pay the minimum $200 per month for my educational loans with more money being applied toward interest and not the principal. As I’m sure you know, paying just the minimum and nothing more will result in years and years of interest and a longer pay off timeline. In fact, by adding the money I would normally use for Operation Credit Card to make two or three lump sum payments per year toward the principle, not interest, I will shorten the length of my loan by 10 years and 11 months. Five years ago, I was a recent college graduate and while a lot has happened in that time, I still feel like time flew by. Knowing that these next five years could go by just as quickly helps keep me motivated. One day, four and a half years from today, I will be able to say goodbye to my financial frienemy- Sallie Mae for good.

Eight Years and Three Months- Debt Free

A lot can happen in eight plus years that could slow down my timeline or cause me to come up with a new goal altogether. Regardless of what life throws my way, I hope a victorious sprint toward financial freedom is in my foreseeable future. In eight years, my home will be a rental property providing is a great form of passive income. Having it completely paid off allows a greater financial contribution to my household. The idea of never having to think about another mortgage payment for my current house is a blessing in itself and I plan on tackling this debt by using the Snowball Method. In the same breath that I say goodbye to Sallie Mae, I will be begin this last phase by saying hello to extra payments, consisting of my monthly credit card payments and Sallie Mae payments, on top of my current mortgage.

What’s the point of all of this? Sure, I could continue to pay the minimum on my bills every month and I will forever owe someone but I have 17,636 reasons why that won’t work for me. Yep, having a plan and attacking my plan will help me save an overall of $17,635.15 in interest payments. While yes, I am at the beginning of my journey, I take solace in knowing there is light at the end of the tunnel.

How Long Will It Take You to Be Debt Free?

FACEBOOK, TWITTER, PINTEREST, RSS Feed,

Email SMC: shemakescents@gmail.com

{Financial Cents} How To Make A Financial Plan

debt-free

Sometimes I need to remind myself that a goal without a plan is just a wish. Every morning I would pray for financial blessings but somehow found myself going through the motions, which was slowing my progress to my goal of zero debt. For me, it is about finding that balance between enjoying my lifestyle and making financially sound decisions. I have been bitten with the travel bug and I can’t wait to explore the world, I live for bottomless mimosas at brunch, and I believe shoes and the right lipstick makes the outfit. However, I also believe in building a hefty savings, going into marriage without bad debt (i.e. credit card and student loans), and building generational wealth. I must agree with Dave Ramsey, financial guru, who affirms, “Personal finance is 80% behavior and only 20% head knowledge”. I am working on the behavior part. I found that even though I enjoy shopping, I’m more likely to shop when I’m bored. Recently, I started filling that boredom with QT with the Mr. walking and exploring our city. I am focusing on better decisions, which will yield better behavior. Every cause has an effect and every decision has a financial consequence; that’s why coming up with a personalized financial plan has been my saving grace. Yes, I prayed for financial blessing…I still do, but I have also added the caveat that with financial blessings comes financial responsibility.

Check Out My Financial Plan!

1.  Write down your debt & don’t forget to include people you owe money.    I was talking with a childhood friend who say he had zero debt.  As we got to talking it was revealed that he did not include the almost $7,000 he owed to a family member and the card he maxed out in his college days.  Out of sight, out of mind, I guess.  Once we dove deeper into our conversation, he and I started listing our debt.  My list was simple- one credit card, student loans, and mortgage.  His, well…let’s just say that I composed a very sobering list on his behalf that included all the debt that he could remember.  Seeing your debt listed, makes it more real.

2.  Emergency Fund Minimum.  Baby Step One of the Total Money Makeover is to get your emergency fund to $1,000 if you have an annual income of $20,000 or more.  “Your car will need repairs and your kids will outgrow their clothes. These are not emergencies; they are items that belong in your budget. If you don’t budget for them, they will feel like emergencies”.  It was this statement from the book that caused me to stop dead in my tracks and redefine what I considered an emergency versus saving.

3.  52 Week Money Challenge- BINGO Style.  This was actually a part of my New Year’s Resolutions for 2013.  The challenge is 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 27 you deposit $27.00 and so on.  I took the challenge one step further by remixing it into a BINGO style which makes it easier to be successful.  In the end, you will have saved $1378.00!  I’m using the money from the challenge to pay down the balance for my credit card and b-day/holidays.

4.  Tackle Your List.  I revealed in the post, Tackle Your Credit Card Debt Today, that as of January I owed about $5300 in credit card debt.  I have reduced my debt down to $4786.00 by paying a little over the minimum and applying the Bingo Style money  to the balance EVERY Friday (I have yet to miss one), but that interest is killing me.  Without interest, my balance would be paid off by the end of the year.  While making additional payments to the credit card, I am making the minimum payment toward my student loans and mortgage.  Once the credit card is paid off, I will then apply that money to extra payments to my student loans and so on…this is called the Snowball Method.  Now, I will confess, if I had more debt, I would recommend switching between the Snowball Method and the Avalanche method, which we will discuss later in the Financial Cents series.

5.  Emergency & Savings.  Don’t forget to save that money you are no longer paying to others.  Use it to prepare for the future.  Emergencies will arise and more than likely something will come up that will cause you to tap into your savings….be prepared.

Do You Believe Personal Finance is More Behavior or Knowledge?

cropped-logo-twitter2014.jpg  Visit SMC on Facebook  Visit SMC on Twitter  Visit SMC on Twitter  Visit SMC  Email SMC

shemakescents{at}gmail {dot}com |  Instagram  @shemakescents 

{Financial Cents} The $849,000 Disadvantage of Being Female

The $849,000 Disadvantage for Being Female

via Braintrack.com