It’s Harder Than It Seems, But It Can Be Done. Here Are The Keys To Achieving (and More Importantly, Keeping) a Fantastic Credit Score

imagesYour credit score is very important. The reason a high score is so desirable is that it gives you the opportunity for the best interest rates on a loan. Here are some ways that you can start building and keeping a great credit score.

Always make on-time payments. Payment history is the top factor in just about all of the credit score models. Even if you can only afford to pay the minimum, always pay on time because that will have a bigger impact on your score than the amount you pay. Set up automatic bill pay right when you activate the card, that way you’ll never miss one. amex-platinum-300x199

Credit card utilization. One of the largest factors of your credit score is your credit card utilization. People with the best credit scores keep their credit card utilization below 30%. The way to calculate your utilization is to calculate the percentage of your total available credit that you are currently using. Here are the best ways to get an keep an amazing credit score.

Be sure to carry low or no balances. People with excellent credit almost always keep low balances on their credit cards; most of the time, they don’t pay interest because they pay their balances in full every single month. Basically, they only buy things that they’d also be able to otherwise pay with cash. Another habit of people with great credit scores is that after they charge a purchase to their card, they’ll log into their account and pay it right away.

Have a long credit history. Opening lots of new accounts at once can shorten the average age of your credit history. And closing old, inactive accounts also can hurt it as well. This move can increase your credit utilization ratio since closing an account means you no longer have access to that available credit. Always keep your oldest credit card open. unknown

Apply for credit as needed, and not before. You should have a few different mixes of lines of credit, such as revolving credit cards, car loans, mortgages and even personal loans. This is so that you can show lenders that they’ll be able to trust you with their money. And, the more available credit you have, the lower your credit utilization ratio will be. The trick is to not say yes every time you get a credit card offer. Every time you apply for new credit, your score goes down.

Choose credit cards responsibly. People with excellent credit usually get the best credit card offers; but whats more important is the card you choose. People with great credit generally are very wise when it comes to choosing their cards. They tend to avoid cards that have annual fees unless the benefits of that specific card will pay back big-time, or at least pay off the annual fee and then some. You should also look for a card that waives the fee the first year, that way you can reevaluate it later to see if you still like it.

In conclusion, the best way to keep your credit score fantastic is this: don’t ever miss a payment, always keep your low balances on all of your credit cards, and only open new lines of credit when and if you need to.

In a World Where We Are Taught That Material Possessions Make Us Happy, Here’s How To Avoid Over-Spending Your Money

The first trick to stop over-spending is to understand what triggers it within you to begin with. Most of us spend based on emotional and psychological triggers that cause temptation in us when we see an opportunity to spend money. And, with the internet, we are able to create our own opportunity to over-spend money. When you head out for the day, here are some things to keep in mind.

maxresdefaultTry shopping when you have less energy, such as at the end of the day. Instead of going to the grocery at 10 am on your day off, try going after work. This way, you won’t have free time to think about how you’ve been meaning to teach yourself every recipe in Martha Stewart’s cookbook. You should also think about your environment. For example, holidays tend to make people want to impulsively spend their money. This is what stores hope you will do. For example, grocery stores will put cake and cookie decorating kits at the front of the store. They know that holiday season inspires people to want to learn to bake all sorts of treats and dishes. While these are fun things to do, ingredients to make all of these things are very expensive.

2634556-stock-footage-a-group-of-friends-hang-out-on-a-rooftop-bar-at-night-and-dance-and-laugh-around-the-fireplaceYou should definitely take into account peer pressure. Before you hit the town on Friday night with your friends, set a drink and time limit before you go out. That way, you only spend money on one or two drinks versus three or four. Let them know ahead of time that you have an early day, and won’t be staying out with them too late. When they expect you to be leaving ahead of time, the pressure won’t be as bad when it comes time for you to grab your purse to head home, and the guilt won’t roll in. If your friends suggest a fancy dinner on Saturday, let them know you’re trying to stop spending so much money, and ask if you can try the new, cheaper Chinese restaurant that you all haven’t been to yet, rather than the expensive one you always go to.

From left, the Molten Hot Chocolate, Molten Chocolate Frappuccino Blended Beverage, and Molten Chocolate Latte are shown. The Valentine's Molten Chocolate Trio drinks will help celebrate Valentine's Day. Photographed on January 29, 2016. (Joshua Trujillo, Starbucks)

It’s usually the tiny purchases that tend to add up to the largest amount at the end of the month. This is why it is important to keep track of what you’re spending your money on. When you do, you may find that you want to stop spending the few dollars here and there on coffees, magazines, lunches, and little things of that nature. Just cut back on these things, and you’ll find that your bank account is looking larger than usual!

Don’t Think Getting Into Credit Card Debt Won’t Ever Happen To You…It Can. Here’s How To Avoid Getting Into Debt, Before It Gets Too Late

unknownCredit is just like a reputation. It takes years to build, and can be destroyed in an instant. While you might not see the value in it now, you will at some point. It is needed to buy a house, finance education, or purchase a car, for example. Credit must be used wisely, and responsibly to be sure that you don’t spend more than you make.

One of the best strategies to help you avoid credit card debt is to only use your credit card(s) for things that you have already budgeted for, such as bills. For example, your auto loan, student loan, utility bills, cell phone bill, and renters insurance.images

It only takes one missed credit card payment for your credit score to plummet. The first thing you’ll want to do is to avoid carrying a credit card balance. This can be done by making sure you don’t buy anything you wouldn’t otherwise be able to pay for in cash.

Also be sure that you are choosing a credit card with a good interest rate. If you don’t, the interest can add up in the long-term, leaving you paying a lot more on your credit card bill then you would have had to pay.

Credit cards can be very tempting. It’s easy to remind yourself you’re up for a promotion soon when you’re looking at a new, expensive sweater you can’t afford. However, until you get the promotion, hold off on the sweater. Living on credit alone is a bad habit. You actually might end up paying more money to the bank just on interest than the price tag of the sweater. images-2

If you aren’t able to control your spending, it may be wise for you to start carrying cash or a debit card, leaving your credit card(s) in a drawer for a little while. Be sure to always pay on time in order to avoid late fees. Even if you can’t make the full credit card bill payment, always make the minimum payment. A great way to remember to do this is by setting automatic payments. This way, you won’t even have to remember.

Are There Other Mortgage Loans Available Besides the Conventional One? Yes! Learn Here About The Different Types of Mortgages

images-3If you’re looking to purchase a home, you should know that there are other loans available besides a conventional loan. As with all loans, there are no guarantees. You still have to meet certain eligibility and criteria in order to be accepted. Here is a look at some other loans aside from the traditional mortgage loan.

VA loans are loans that help members of the service such as veterans, and their surviving spouses, become homeowners. They also offer housing programs in order to help a homeowner build or repair a home. These loans are provided by private lenders, such as banks and mortgage companies. images

USDA loans are mortgages that are backed the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) as part of its USDA Rural Development Guaranteed Housing Loan program. These loans are available to homebuyers who have below averagimages-2e credit. The loans offer complete financing, with reduced PMI and also offer low monthly mortgage rates. In order to meet the criteria, you must meet the USDA’s definition of “rural.” Luckily, the term is pretty flexible. Most small towns meet the definition, as well as many suburbs and cities throughout the country.

An FHA loan is a mortgage loan that is insured by the Federal Housing Administration. FHA Loans can be attractive because they offer attractive interest rates and with less stringent and more flexible qualification requirements. They are very popular with first time home buyers for this very reason. The program was originally created due to an influx of foreclosures that happened in the early 1930s. Essentially, the federal government insures loans for FHA-approved lenders in order to reduce their risk of loss if a borrower defaults on their mortgage payments. It is also one of the easiest types of loans to get, since it requires both a low down payment and you are able to have little credit, and/or poor credit. images-1

Keep in mind, that if you can’t afford to buy a home, it isn’t the end of the world. You might need to accept the fact that you need to rent for a little longer before you can purchase your first home. Another option is a rent-to-own. Owning a home can be a wonderful experience, but be sure to wait to bite the bullet until you are fully prepared for the financial responsibility.