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.

      

{2015 Week 11 Update} 52 Week Money Challenge

I believe that through knowledge and discipline, financial peace is possible for all of us.      -Dave Ramsey

52 Week Challenge

I’ve been contacted by quite a few of you asking for a copy of the 52 Week Money Challenge, which shows me that I am not the only one looking to save money.  While you won’t save a MAJOR windfall doing this challenge, you will gain financial discipline.  It’s harder than you think to get in the habit of saving but once up pick up the skill, it’s well worth the effort.  If you are new to She Makes Cents, I am happy to report that I paid off my credit card doing this challenge as additional payments over the minimum.  I am now adding this extra money to my wedding savings account after I see how much I have left from doing a zero based budget…aka, my saving grace!

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How Are You Going Use Your $1300+ ?

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{Cash Is Fab} How One Girl Resolves to Never Use Plastic Again!

This morning I was cleaning out old files from the computer, aka procrastinating writing my next blog post, when I found an old resolution. I wrote in it December of 2013 but never posted it.   I decided to post it today, however, to show what a year of working toward financial goals looked like for me.  I encourage you to write down your goals so you can have a reference of just how far you have come and then take a step back and acknowledge your progress.  Check out my 2014 financial goals  below:

Cash Is Fab! How One Girl Resolves to Never Use Plastic Again!

Some people hear the word “resolution” and immediately shutter. I on the other hand, look at resolutions as a new beginning… a do over to do better. Hey, if you don’t like the word resolutions, substitute it for goals because everyone knows that goals are AWESOME! This year I resolve to pay off my credit card balance before my birthday in August, kick start my snowball toward financial freedom, and say no to plastic forever (ambitious, right?).   I am working toward this goal by paying a set amount every two weeks (each payment over the monthly minimum) and doing the 52 Week Money Challenge (Bingo Style) every Friday. If I were okay with just paying the minimum, it would take me 4 years, instead of eight months, to complete step one of my financial plan. The Bingo version of the challenge plays a big role in completing my financial resolutions because if I am having a tough financial week, I can pick a lower amount to save. Once the credit card is paid off, my monthly credit card payments (including the 52 Week Challenge savings) will become extra payments to my student loans and so on until I have zero debt. I keep myself motivated by constantly reminding myself and my accountability partner, The Mr., of my ultimate goal to pay of all debt, credit card, student loans, and mortgage in the next ten years. If I can’t afford to pay for it in cash, I can’t afford it!

Currency in envelope

Now, one year later my credit card balance is not a concern because it is non-existent.  I sometimes forget about the stress that carrying a credit card balance had on me.  Yes, I paid my credit card off and before my target date by doing this risky move, which worked and then immediately backfired.  I also think about how my snowball plan for my student loans has been transformed into a snowball for my October wedding expenses to the Mr.  Boy oh boy, what changes can happen in a year.

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Finish the Sentence: I Resolve to ________

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{Giveaway Winner} She Makes Cents Congratulates….

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I want to take a moment to congratulate our giveaway winner, Bree S. of Illinois!  When asked about her financial goals for 2014, Bree replied, “One of my financial goals this year is to be able to actually budget (yes I said the B word!) myself so that I can afford to move-out and have my own apartment. As a college graduate working full-time, this would be the ultimate reward to finally feel independent. It would only make “cents” :-)“.   Please accept this as a small token of my appreciation for your reading and commenting on shemakescents.com!

Stay Connected!

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{Financial Goals} Tackle Your Credit Card Debt Today

Slow-and-steady-moneyHave you ever heard the phrase, “a goal without a plan is just a wish”? Well I’m starting to think that is true. Like many of you, I always have financial goals… some I have shared on this blog and others I have not. As we start this brand new year, I have to ask myself, were my goals of last year actual goals or just wishes for the future? I started reflecting on this the other day while looking at older posts about financial goals. Sure, I can list some of my goals but without a plan, how can I help you as readers follow my financial journey? Isn’t that the point of all of this? I also started wondering how much is too much to share? The answers to these questions will unfold throughout 2013, but for today, getting a plan together is the priority.

The Problem: In my pre-She Makes Cents life, I worked every month and in a short amount of time, I paid off my credit card. Then the bottom fell out and I was using my credit card to simply…live (very honest moment). Long story short, my balance of about $5300 (rounding up) is nowhere near, where it should be. Why, you may ask? Because I was caught up. I started swiping to get the “cash back” deals that I told myself I would pay it off at the end of the month and didn’t. I wasn’t using my envelopes as I should have and I might not have fully realized the my new financial situation.

The Solution: In reading some of my older posts, I remembered a period where I locked my credit card up in a safe deposit box.  Initially, I just wanted to see how long I could go without credit card spending.   I wasn’t swiping, I wasn’t living beyond my means, and the balance was slowly decreasing over time. I am a very goal oriented person, so I know adding the component of an end goal date, one of the tips featured in the post How to Make and Achieve Your Goals, will help.  Thinking back, why did I ever take the card back out?

The Plan: If you are in a similar situation, this is how I plan on making this wish into a goal and a goal into a “been there done that”. While I would like to have this paid off in a year, I know I may need cushion. My end goal date for credit card payoff is August of 2014. That means, with my interest rate, I will need to be making a payment of $294.36 per month to be credit card free by next August (check out the credit card payoff calculator at the bottom of my sidebar to figure out yours).  Instead of paying the minimum, which is NEVER a good look, I will pay the fixed rate listed above or more.  Also, whenever there are cash back deals through my bank, I will use the “rewards” to pay down my credit card. In my research, I have heard the advice to pick up the phone and call your credit card company for a reduced interest rate but depending the company, they may label you as a “high risk” customer and close your account, so do your research first. 

How Are Your Eliminating Your Credit Card Debt?

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{Got Goals} How to Make and Achieve Your Goals

My TV best friend, Carrie Bradshaw, once stated that, “as we drive along this road called life, occasionally a gal will find herself a little lost. And when that happens, I guess she has to let go of the coulda, shoulda, woulda, buckle up and just keep going”. I coulda lived without that purchase, I shoulda saved more, and I woulda done it like this if… Well folks, one of my favorite things about going into the New Year are the ability to reflect and refresh. It’s time to move toward your goals/resolutions for the future.

Replace Your Coulda, Shoulda, Woulda with Been There Done That!

Write your goals out. Sometimes putting pen to paper makes things so much more real. Mental goals will always stay within the mind if you don’t take this first  step.

Let’s Be For Real. Sure, I would love to save $1,000,000 in a years’ time…wouldn’t everyone? For my lifestyle, though, that would be a highly unrealistic goal. Impractical goals are the enemy of progress. I’m not saying lower your standards. I’m saying that setting attainable goals and completing them makes you want to push forward while setting unrealistic goals simply enforces a defeated attitude.

Set a Goal Date. There are many procrastinators in my life…me being one of them. Setting a goal date is like doing crunches and knowing you have five more to go… it just pushes you to complete it. Now imaging just doing crunches without knowing how many you have left to go. After awhile, you will abandon your goal, right? Set a date and strive to hit it.


Tell Someone. Find someone or several people and tell them your goals. Not only will you have someone to help keep you accountable, but if you have someone who actually wants to see you succeed, they will help eliminate triggers that will get you off task. This may mean that you will hear the word “no” when you need to hear it but aren’t ready to accept it.

Check In. Last year, I was able to accomplish many of my goals/resolutions because reader, Audrey from Just Add Paris, asked for an update. Little did she know, it made me reflect on the goals that I wrote about and published for the world to read (steps 1 and 4) and made me want to follow through on those long-lost goals. In fact, I ended up writing two update reports for those that follow SMC.

I challenge you to push forward.  Maybe you need to revisit a goal that was abandoned.  Maybe you have new goals.  Take a day or two and really think about where you want to be and thing create a road map on how to get there.  Good Luck!

Let’s Connect!

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{Honesty is Free} What Does the “Fab Life” Mean to You?

So I took a little hiatus…okay, well a longer one than expected, but I am back with a vengeance. I needed some time to have new experiences so that I can have something exciting yet honest to write about. To be honest, the original idea behind this site was to inform and inspire ways to use your “cents” to live a fab life. Along the way, I believe I got off target.  So as we prepare for our upcoming one year mark (March 1stJ), I want to take things back to basics.  To do so, I’ll start with a simple question; what is the fab lifeMy answer could be ever-changing, but at the moment, great people, great food, great fashions, great adventures, great love, great leaps of faith, and a greatly styled place to come home to.

Fab People


Fab Fashions


Fab Adventures


Fab Love


Fab Faith


Fab Home

 So that is what I’m going to write about…how to get the fab life without breaking the bank, my budget, or my financial integrity. I hope you join me along the way and learn from both my successes and my failures. That’s life and sometimes, you don’t learn the lesson until you fall on your face and have to get back up.

Talk to me! What is the “fab life” to you?

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{Fab Alert} Honesty is Fabulous& Free!

So I took a little hiatus…okay, well a longer one than expected, but I am back with a vengeance. I needed some time to have new experiences so that I can have something exciting yet honest to write about. To be honest, the original idea behind this site was to inform and inspire ways to use your “cents” to live a fab life. Along the way, I believe I got off target.  So as we prepare for our upcoming one year mark (March 1stJ), I want to take things back to basics.  To do so, I’ll start with a simple question; what is the fab lifeMy answer could be ever-changing, but at the moment, great people, great food, great fashions, great adventures, great love, great leaps of faith, and a greatly styled place to come home to.

Fab People


Fab Fashions


Fab Adventures


Fab Love


Fab Faith


Fab Home

 So that is what I’m going to write about…how to get the fab life without breaking the bank, my budget, or my financial integrity. I hope you join me along the way and learn from both my successes and my failures. That’s life and sometimes, you don’t learn the lesson until you fall on your face and have to get back up.

Talk to me! What is the “fab life” to you?

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August Financial Goals

On April 13, 2011, I gave my SMC readers an update to my Spending Diet from the month before. For an entire month, I wrote down everything I spent my money on and doing so revealed so much about my spending habits. I now have to confess that my April Spending Diet was the last time I took part in tracking every expense. Since August 1st is right around the corner, I have decided to get back on the financial hot tamale train, and take back control of my finances. First, I will make a budget for the month and then I will keep up with my version of Catey Hill’s Spending Chart.

For the month of August I plan to:

Cut Back on Eating Out

(except birthday celebrations, of course)

Consolidate Trips

Stick to my Grocery List

Eat Before Leaving the House

Lock Up the Credit Card for the Entire Month

Review My Finances Daily

Sharing is Caring!

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Budgeting 102- Spending Diet

I saw the movie Eat Pray Love not too long ago. In it, is a reference to an old Catholic joke that I have become very fond of. In a voice-over, Liz, played by Julia Roberts, recalls the following:

I remember an Old Catholic joke about a man who spent his whole life going to a church every day and prayed to the statue of a great saint begging, “please, please, please, let me win the lottery.” Finally the exasperated statue comes to life and looks down at the begging man and says “my son, please, please, please, buy a ticket”.

Sometimes I find myself in situations where I am the one begging and sometimes I am the statue. Today, I come to you as the statue. I once heard it said that we buy what we want and beg for what we need. Is this you? Have you put you financial security at risk with things you wanted and now you are begging for a financial miracle? Be a part of your own miracle…buy a ticket. I am taking the points mentioned in Budgeting 101 step by step. Like dieting and working out, budgeting takes time, restraint, and accountability. I invite you to join me on my Spending Diet.

Write Down Everything You Spend Your Money On. Since April 1, 2011, I have been writing down EVERYTHING I have spent money on. I included this advice in Budgeting 101 with the suggestion to do this for two weeks. I would now like to retract that advice and tell you to extend it for an entire month. Every financial and money management writer will tell you to do this. Honestly, it wasn’t until the beginning of April that I actually did this myself. I thought between my memory and online banking statements, that I had an accurate grasp on how, when, where, and with whom I spent my money. SMC readers, I couldn’t have been more wrong. My spending chart has revealed that I am an emotional spender who blows a great deal of my food budget on eating out with my sister because I believe we don’t see, talk, or interact as frequently as we once did. My spending chart personified aspects by my sometimes-narcissistic personality. I made a donation to my alma mater that I really couldn’t afford, because I didn’t want to be the 5,999 person who comes shy of the 6,000 donor goal for the Founder’s Day scholarship fundraiser. I also learned that while there are aspects of my personality where I am admittedly spoiled, I also spend and give the a great deal of my money to others to make them happy. Hi, my name is Danielle and I am an emotional spender. Buy the ticket. I am putting myself in financial rehab to get back on track like my Rah Tiffany did years ago. I have locked my credit card away and most importantly, I am learning to say no to others. Catey Hill, the author of Shoo Jimmy Choo created a Day to Day Spending Chart that I particularly like. I used Hill’s chart as an example and made one that fits my own financial goals and spending style. Buy what you need and you will not have anything left to beg for. Buy a ticket and let’s start our financial journey together.

If you are interested in my own Spending Chart, please email me at shemakescent@gmail.com
subject: Spending Chart 
 

 

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