Every parent will know that raising kids and managing a household don’t come cheap. The good news is that it is possible to make savings, and often, small changes can make all the difference. If you’re looking to maximize your disposable income, or you’re hoping to bolster your savings account balance, here are some tips to help you tighten your belt without making any sacrifices.
One of the best things to do if you’re keen to take control of spending and try and reduce your outgoings is carry out an audit. In this day and age, when we tap or swipe to make a payment, place orders online or use credit cards, it can be incredibly difficult to keep track of spending. You may underestimate how much is going out of your checking account or onto a card, and you might not really know where your money goes each month. To adopt a firmer grip, it’s a great idea to sit down with a notebook and a pen, and go through your most recent statements. This will give you an idea of how much you spend in an average week or month, and enable you to see if there are any outgoings you could curtail. If you do find that you lose track of transactions easily, it’s also beneficial to make a note of how much you spend each day using an app or a spreadsheet on your laptop.
Budgeting is a really useful tool for anyone who is keen to spend less and save more. If you know exactly how much money you have available every month, this will help to prevent overspending and ensure that you only buy what is necessary. Budgeting is really simple, and it can make a huge difference when it comes to money management. All you need to do is use an app, create a spreadsheet or use a pen and paper to create lists of your incoming and outgoing payments. Once you’ve got all the figures in front of you, you’ll be able to see how much disposable income you have, how much your bills cost, and how much you could put away in your savings account.
Lowering household costs
The vast majority of people could lower their household expenditure without making drastic changes. Think about where your money goes, and then consider how you could shave a few dollars off every payment each month. Simple changes like avoiding buying a takeaway coffee every morning and doing your food shop online could lead to huge savings.
One of the best ways to slash household costs in revising your food budget. Many of us overspend at the supermarket, and we end up throwing away items that we don’t use. If you’re lured in by neon lights and special offers, now is the time to embrace online shopping. When you shop online, you can create a list, add those items and keep an eye on your running total without having to swerve promotional items and giant sale signs. You can also save money on food bills by batch cooking, buying frozen food, and swapping takeouts and ready meals for home-cooked fare.
Another way to save on household bills is to reduce energy usage. If you dread the arrival of your monthly gas and electricity bills, you can bring costs down by using less energy and investing in gadgets and devices that are designed to save you money, such as energy-efficient bulbs. Don’t leave lights on when you leave the room, turn appliances off at the socket, and don’t be wasteful with water.
In this day and age, it’s almost always possible to save money by shopping around. You can apply this rule to products ranging from diapers, strollers, and clothing to pet food, electrical items, flights and insurance policies. As a general rule, it’s best not to buy anything until you’ve looked elsewhere to see if you can get a better deal. The Internet makes it possible to compare prices within seconds, and you can follow links online to complete a purchase in a matter of minutes. With the holidays coming up, it’s a great idea to embrace price comparison and also to look out for special offers like Black Friday stroller deals and discounts on popular items like TV sets, gifts and festive food and drinks. If you are braving yourself for Black Friday, go into it with a list of items you want or need, and try not to be blinkered by marketing ploys. Great deals aren’t so great when you end up with a load of stuff that you won’t use.
On the subject of shopping around, it’s useful to take a moment to look at your insurance policies. If any are due for renewal, it’s worth using comparison sites to see if you could get more for your money. Competition in this industry is rife, and many companies offer new customers their best deals. Rather than renewing automatically, check what other plans are available. You may find that you could save hundreds of dollars across a range of policies.
Having fun on a budget
We all know that having fun can come at a price. If the kids are asking to go on vacation, they want to go to theme parks or to the movies, or you fancy treating yourself to a day out with your friends, it can all add up. Thankfully, there are ways to save. Register with coupon sites to take advantage of offers like discounted park tickets and buy one get one free on kids’ meals, and think about ways you can socialize for less. Take it in turns to host dinner parties or movie nights instead of going to restaurants and cinemas and organize play dates at home.
Most of us would love to have a little extra cash, especially at this time of year. If you’re looking to try and save, but you don’t fancy overhauling your lifestyle, there are some very simple ways to take control of spending and reduce your outgoings. Hopefully, this guide will set you on the right path.
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As a parent, you want the best for your family. Having an eco-friendly home is more than just taking care of the planet; it is about securing your family’s wellbeing in the future. Sustainability in the home is quickly becoming a must for homeowners. In fact, a recent Texas-based study revealed that homes that are green certified can expect a 6 percent hike in home resale price or $25,000 increase in their value.
More homeowners are moving to renovate their homes with sustainability in mind and on the flip side, more buyers are moving to consider it a part of their criteria when viewing homes.
So with all this recent attention, why is an eco-friendly home so important? What benefits does it add to your home, your health and your larger environment? Most importantly, how can you make the swap without breaking the bank? Read on to find out all about eco-friendly living at home and what you may be missing.
Why pursue sustainability
Having an eco-friendly home has many benefits, both in the short and long term. Besides contributing to the upkeep of the wider environment, it is incredibly cost effective. With ever increasing energy prices and the dwindling of natural resources across the globe, taking actions to minimize the impact on the environment and your wallet. Along with proving cheaper in the long run, adding eco-friendly features to your home can also mean less maintenance in the future. Using green materials in your home can lengthen your home’s lifespan and strengthen its durability.
It increases the value of your home
Of course, another benefit of an eco-friendly home is the increased property prices. Many studies across America have shown an increase in the resale value and appeal to buyers. With the public becoming more conscious of the environment, they are making it a priority as they house shop.
In the study by the University of Texas and U.S Green Building Council, it was shown that homes built between the years 2008 to 2016 experienced an 8% increase in resale value if they were built to Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) specifications. The Washington Post also states that new build homes with energy and sustainability certification sold for 8 percent more while existing homes with added certifications fetched 30 percent more.
Further supporting the sustainability trend, The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) study in 2010 revealed that solar-powered homes sold 20 percent faster.
Safer for you and your family
Finally, eco-friendly building materials place a lot of emphasis on being healthier alternatives in terms of you and your family’s health. Conventional materials can be prone to mildew and sometimes contain harmful toxins. Having a sustainable home means ensuring your future. If you are considering adding such features into your home, either from scratch or as a remodel, there are endless options to get started today.
Make simple energy swaps
One of the simplest swaps for homeowners to go green and embrace the sustainability bandwagon is to look at your energy usage at home. Swaps such as including LED bulbs and Energy Star fixtures in your home can save as much as $75 each year and uses 25percent to 80 percent less energy than traditional lighting options. In terms of maintenance and replacements, LED bulbs last 3-25 times longer. If you wish to go further, consider energy efficient appliances.
Consider alternative materials
Aimed at those looking to build an environmentally friendly home (or upgrade), take a look at sustainable building materials such as prefabricated timber, bricks or concrete for your home building plans. For heat efficient windows, triple glazed glass and doors for ultimate insulation efficiency. When you are looking at insulation materials, sheep’s wool or cellulose are great options and are both biodegradable. Finally, in terms of roofing, there are options such as corrugated roofing or standing seam metal roofing, which is 100 percent recyclable and can last up to 50 years. A certified LEED builder or designer should be able to give you all the information you need on alternative environmentally friendly materials available to you.
Be mindful of your water usage
Finally, take a second look at your water usage. Small switches such as swapping out your old shower-heads for low flow models are quick and simple while other measures such as rethinking your irrigation can save you up to 40 percent of water. You can utilize additions such as a rain barrel or a grey water system to reuse water that goes down your drain for other things such as watering your plants.
In the kitchen, the use of a water filter can reduce your reliance on bottled water and avoids the use of plastics in the home. Aerators on the shower-heads and faucets can reduce water usage by up to 50 percent and best of all, they cost just a few dollars. With such budget-friendly prices and savings on your water bills, your bank account will be thanking you. The changes don’t need to be large for you to see the benefits.
It is no secret that people across the world are becoming more environmentally conscious and with good reason. Whether you start small or plan a total overhaul, embracing an eco-friendly home is a great investment in not only the Earth’s future but you and your family’s as well. With so many simple ways to make the swap and proven benefits, why not get started today?
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As your family grows, it is very easy to get caught up in the time they need devoted to them and the money they need spending on them. You can forget your own future, but if you do not secure it, the responsibility for you will fall onto them. Therefore, one of the best ways to secure their future is to secure your own first.
Start Saving For Retirement
If you are not in a job that has a pension attached, you should start a retirement plan now. The longer you leave it the less your pension pot will have, and the less money you will be able to draw each month when you have finished work.
This may seem a long way off, but saving for your retirement is vital if you do not want to have to rely on your children giving you an income.
Clear Your Debts
Work toward clearing yourself of debts. Life will be less stressful if you do not have to make several payments a month to creditors. Hit the smallest debt first and you will feel so motivated because you have cleared one, it will encourage you to work at the others. Once your debts have gone, your money will be your own to do with as you please, including saving some money to secure the financial future of your family.
Saving can become a habit, and it is one of the best habits to have. Having some money behind you lets you buy what you want instead of relying on new debts. You may be surprised how quickly just a few dollars a month will grow, and how soon that makes you free of the debt culture.
You need to protect your home and family in case of a disaster or accident. You should take out liability car insurance, cover to protect your family if you die, illness insurance, home insurance, and mortgage or rental cover. It is possible to insure practically anything if you are prepared to pay the premium, so choose the ones that are most vital to you and your family. You can then have peace of mind if a bad event happens in your family that they will be financially secure.
Make A Will
It is surprising how many people do not make a will, don’t be one of them. With no will, your family could be in a very precarious situation, and your estate could be divided among people who you would not want to have anything.
Making a will is not expensive or time-consuming, and it makes life much easier for your family after you die. They will have enough to cope with at this sad time, without having to sort your estate, as you had left no instructions.
When you are making your will you should also seek tax advice. There are ways of reducing the tax that has to be paid on your estate, as long as these things are done before you die.
Being savvy with money will secure your family’s financial future and make life much more pleasant and stress-free for you.
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Being a mother comes with a whole new set of responsibilities. There is a lot involved in the process of looking after yourself and thinking about the future as well. When it comes to thinking about the future, you need to get proactive about it right now.
It is important to understand that there are so many things that need to be sorted out. You have to understand the link between the decisions you make now, and how your life will unfold in the future. This is why you need to make sure you focus on self-care for the future by making the right decisions for this today. Check out these tips and use them to try to make things better in the long run.
Make the Home a Better Asset
The home is one of the biggest assets you and your family have, and it is important that you make sure you are set up for the future by ensuring that you work on making the home a better asset as a result. This is something that can have a big impact on your way of life and will mean that you increase your chances of getting a good sale in the future as well.
Take Charge of the Family Money
Taking charge of the family’s financial situation is also very important for the future. You need to make sure you think about the money you have coming in, as well as how much you are spending. A retirement income guide is going to be essential, as well as looking at the sorts of investments you can make. Not to mention the fact that you need to speak with an accountant to get some better financial advice.
Keep Yourself in Good Condition
Keeping yourself in good condition is so important, and the very essence of self-care. You need to ensure that you are feeling good emotionally and physically, and this is so important for the future, and for your health. Think about the different elements of self-care, as well as how they are going to boost your future prospects. This is something you need to make sure you get sorted right now.
Ensure Your Kids are Happy
As a parent, part of your job is to raise the best and most well-rounded kids you possibly can. This is something that is going to have a major impact on the home moving forward, and it will mean a better future for your children. You need to know if your kids are happy, and you also have to work on how you can make them happier as well.
There are a lot of things you need to keep in mind when it comes to improving and enhancing your future, and these are some of the most essential. They will go a long way toward making you feel more comfortable about the future and the way the world is going to be when you retire. You can use these ideas to help do the best for your family in the future.
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Across the US, hypothermia claims over 700 lives annually, with most deaths occurring during the cold months of winter. In that line, the lessening hours of daylight should be a signal to start getting ready for the cold days ahead. Most moms prefer that their loved ones remain indoors during winter, but is staying inside a guarantee of safety? For instance, if you fail to prepare the heating system, your children could easily contract flu or even the dreaded hypothermia. Furthermore, neglecting your winter chores could potentially cost you a hefty repair bill. For first time moms, preparing for winter can be baffling, but with proper research and guidance, you can manage.
The cleaning of gutters and downspouts are among the most important winter chores. Clogged drains can make your roof leak, and this could lead to ice dams during winter. “When the gutters are not clean, the moisture just sits on the rooftop,” said Dina Dwyer Owens, a co-chair of the board of directors of the Dwyer group. You should however not do the work too soon. For instance, if you unclog them before the last of the leaves fall, you would have to repeat the process a few weeks later. Also, you should be careful with the ladder not to hurt yourself. 176,000 people went to the hospital in 2013 due to ladder accidents, according to the National Safety Council. In that line, it is always advisable that as a mom, you hire a professional, which would cost you around $150 as indicated by HomeAdvisor.
Stock up on firewood
Moms have to be dedicated to keeping their kids warm throughout the season to keep off various illnesses. To ensure that your fireplace will keep on running, you should order seasoned firewood during the fall. Stack it carefully on pallets and cover the pile with a plastic tarp to keep moisture away. It is also advised that you store firewood in an unheated garage rather than inside the living area because wood could attract insects, according to Michigan State University Extension.
Windows and doors
Uninstall window air-conditioning units and store them for the warm seasons. If you decide to leave them in place, cover the outside of your windows with an insulated sheath and wedged towels between the sill and the unit to keep drafts out. Next, you should swap out screens for storm windows and doors. When changing glass screens, check your windows and doors for drafts and be sure to add weather stripping or caulk when cold air leaks in.
Smoke alarm and laundry dryers
3 out of 5 fire deaths occur in homes without working alarms as reported by United States Fire Administration. In this line, you should always ensure that yours are working by changing the batteries at least once a year. While at it, replace any detectors that are more than 10 years old. With today’s technology, you can opt for smart smoke alarm sensors which have apps that could alert you wherever you are in the world.
Laundry dryers cause 2900 home fires annually because of failure to clean them. Therefore, as you prepare for winter, hire a professional to wash them by removing potentially hazardous substances such as lint and debris. The best feeling for a mother when at work is knowing that her kids are safe back home.
You should walk around your perimeter checking for cracks and peeling paint. Also, inspect window sills and the roof for missing and broken tiles and have them fixed if necessary. After a rainstorm, walk around and look for any place where water might not be draining well such as water pools, downspouts and damaged gutters. “The objective is to get as much of the water away from your house as possible,” said Scott Johnson, director of operations, WIN Home Inspection, a network of over 190 home inspection companies in 33 states.
Having enough warmth in the house during winter is an aspect you cannot ignore as a caring mom. Since you will need the system to heat up the house during winter, call a plumber or a furnace repair company to fix your system if faulty. They should clean the equipment thoroughly and ensure that it is working correctly. “The heating system will not break down when it is 80 degrees outside, but you do not want to be stuck in the middle of the night with a heating system that won’t turn on when it is 5 degrees outside,” claimed Kerry O’Brien, the president of T. F. O’Brien Cooling and Heating.
The chimney and pipes
Smoke, heat and potentially fatal gases from the fireplace and heating system trail up the chimney into the atmosphere, keeping the air inside clean. A dirty chimney could intoxicate the air and also facilitate the occurrence of a fire, which could be a nightmare if your kids are home. The Chimney Safety Institute of America recommends annual inspection and cleaning of chimneys. “In general, with chimneys and fireplaces, the more you use it, the more likely you need it to be swept,” said Mr Johnson. Servicing your chimney could cost anything between $125-$200 as indicated by Angie’s list.
To keep pipes from freezing, you should have the outside water faucets drained and shut before the temperatures drop. During freezing nights, keep cabinets beneath the sink open to allow warm air in and let a slow drip of water to run through the pipes. Many people make the mistake of turning off the thermostat to save money. “Extreme weather is not a time to start trying to save your energy bill, crank your heat up during those weeks,” said O’Brien.
While preparing your home for winter, you should also buy equipment such as a snowblower and test them to ensure they are working properly. Also, update your emergency supply kit with fresh batteries, flashlights, a first aid kit, food, water and a portable radio. As a mother whose kids mean everything, you ought to take time to learn how the house works, and you might actually enjoy the process. “I have enjoyed taking care of the house, and the house takes care of me,” claimed Judi E.Mendoza, 60, a saleswoman for Halstead.
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It can take a lot of work to maintain your home, from daily cleaning to bigger maintenance jobs. When you have so many other things going on in your life, you don’t want to spend all your time looking after your home. It’s also expensive to have to redecorate and buy new furniture, so you want it to last as long as possible. Creating a low-maintenance home can help you to cut down on cleaning time and could extend the life of your fixtures and furniture. Here’s how you could create a low-maintenance home that’s easy to take care of.
Use Wipeable Surfaces
Anything that you can wipe down to clean is always going to be easier to care for than those that need special care. Hard floors are easier to sweep and mop, rather than having to vacuum carpets and either spot clean them or use professional carpet cleaning tools. It’s simple to wipe down a leather sofa than to try and keep one upholstered with linen or cotton clean. Try to choose wipeable surfaces and furniture so that it’s easy to dust and clean everything without too much trouble. If something can’t be wiped, it’s helpful if you can just put it in the washing machine.
Choose Shabby Chic Furniture
Over time, your furniture is going to deteriorate. You can take care of it to keep it looking good, as well as choose quality furniture that will last longer. But if it’s eventually going to look a bit shabby, why not start off with items that already look a bit worn? If you choose to use distressed wooden furniture, it won’t be so easy to notice the smallest mark. It’s supposed to look older and well-used, so any minor damage is probably just going to make it look more authentic.
There are lots of different materials that you can use throughout your home. Selecting some of the more durable options can mean you don’t have to worry so much about stains or any damage. For example, if you’re thinking of what material to use for your kitchen worktops, some of the most durable choices include granite and quartz. You can make sure your home can withstand daily life so you don’t have to change how you live in order to protect anything in your home. Keep in mind that durability and cost don’t always match up. Sometimes, more durable materials are more expensive, but that’s not always the case.
Keep Lines Clean
Spending lots of time trying to get into all the tiny corners and little details around your home can feel like a waste. But dust and dirt can get into all of those small places and it’s difficult to get them out. If you want to avoid this, it’s best to try and keep the lines in your decor and furniture clean and sleek. It will make everything much easier to keep clean.
Make your home more low-maintenance by taking a minimal approach to decor. You can avoid a lot of work by making the right choices.
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Financial security is about more than earning a decent income. Obviously, your salary plays a big part in your monetary situation, but you need to focus on the way in which you spend your earnings, too. A big income can dwindle away very quickly if you’re irresponsible with your money. And a small income can go a long way if you manage your money like a master.
There are definitely right and wrong ways to make your finances go further. Here are 4 ways to be smarter when it comes to your personal finances that’ll serve you well in the future (and the present, of course).
Reduce your expenses as the first main step to manage your money
First of all, you need to reduce your expenses. That’s the smartest way to manage your money. You need to cut out all the bad spending habits that are reducing your available income. You won’t be able to increase wealth until you start curbing unnecessary expenditures.
Of course, you can treat yourself to luxury purchases from time to time. But you should learn to practice some self-restraint. You could give yourself a couple of weeks before committing to a purchase to see whether it’s only a fleeting urge.
Additionally, you could keep your money away from yourself. For instance, you could take out a set amount of cash at the start of every month and call that your “spending money”. That way, you’ll have an upper limit on your spending potential. You’ll be able to treat yourself to anything you want, but you’ll only be able to burn through a small portion of your monthly earnings. This might help to teach you self-restraint.
You can also reduce your necessary expenses. Of course, you shouldn’t misinterpret this. You don’t need to start cutting back on the important things in life just to save a tiny bit of money. You don’t have to restrict your meals or your energy usage. Just be a little smarter about the way you use all the crucial things you take for granted in life.
For instance, you could save money on your weekly food shop by using coupons and vouchers you find online. You could even grow vegetables and fruit in your back garden so that you no longer have to buy them in the store. This would save you a lot of money and be a fun new hobby for you.
Talking of energy usage, you could reduce your monthly utility bills by insulating the windows in your house with thicker glazing. These small changes could massively reduce your monthly expenses and give you more financial freedom in the future. Tracking spending can make a big difference to your personal finances. Once you know how much money you have available, you can avoid overspending.
This might seem like a strange piece of advice, but not all debt is bad debt. This is something that more people need to come to realize. When you borrow money, you simply need to know that you’re going to be able to pay it back on time. (The monthly installments depend on the lender and the size of the loan itself).
If you know you’ll be able to make the repayments on a continuous basis then borrowing money shouldn’t be something you avoid in life. In fact, it’ll help your credit score. The better you are at paying back your debts, the better your credit rating will be.
If you’re facing a big expense and you need financial help then you might want to check out Credit Raters for help with finding the most affordable and reliable lenders. It’s important that you do your research if you want to look after your money.
And a better credit rating will help you to borrow money in the future. This is because lenders will know that you’re trustworthy. It might help you to get lower interest rates and sizable loans for the big purchases in life.
When it comes to purchasing huge assets such as cars and houses, loans are often the only option for many people. But getting your finances together smartly and sensibly is just about knowing your limits. Borrowing money is not a step backwards – it can be a step forwards if you plan adequately. Improving your credit score is worth it, in the long term.
Always have an emergency fund prepared
This is possibly one of the most important pieces of financial advice you’ll ever receive. An Improving your credit score is absolutely essential to your security. It’ll give you peace of mind. But it’ll also help you to avoid giving away an unexpected chunk of your savings if something unexpected happens.
As important as a budget is to your financial security, you can’t plan for everything. Some expenses are totally unpredictable. Your car might break down and need immediate repairs, for example. Or something major might need fixing in your household.
While you can’t predict everything in life, you can create a backup plan to help you out when the unpredictable occurs.
Start setting aside some savings (on a gradual basis) until you’ve built up a substantial emergency fund. (Experts recommend $1k.) Then, set the fund aside, and only use it in absolute emergencies.
Needing a new TV isn’t a sufficient reason to bring out the emergency fund. But paying for a plumber to fix a leaky kitchen faucet is something that an emergency fund should be designed to cover.
An important step to manage your money is to make sure you’ve set up this fund before an unexpected event occurs. Otherwise, you might have to dip into your bank account for funds. This might put you in a tricky situation. After all, you probably won’t have accounted for unpredictable and expensive costs in your budget, even if you gave yourself a little leeway.
Focus on your savings for the future.
The final way in which you could organize your money more effectively is to focus on investing for the future.
Do you have a savings account? How much money do you put into it on a monthly basis?
You should be saving continuously. And we’re talking about more than an emergency fund here. We’re talking about life savings that’ll help you (and your partner, perhaps) to afford the cost of living during your retirement years. After all, you won’t be working forever.
You might even need to pay for your kid’s college fund. Those big costs will require substantial savings, so it’s never too early to start.
Ensure that you stick to a saving plan for the future. Set up an automatic transfer from your main bank account to your savings account. Every month, on payday, transfer 10% or 20% of your earnings to your savings.
It might not be a substantial amount on a monthly basis. But those small savings will gradually build and multiply as the years go by. When it comes to preparing for the future, slow and steady steps could make all the difference. Don’t leave financial planning until the last minute. You need to start securing your future, today.
Go ahead and start budgeting like a rockstar with the free household budgeting binder–CLICK the image below to get it!
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They come from two very different worlds, your credit score and Goldilocks. One comes from a world of fantasy; a world where bears have houses and armchairs and porridge. The other is from a world that is all-too-real, and has implications for almost everything in your life.
However, your credit score and Goldilocks genuinely do have something in common: they both like things to be just right.
How does this apply to your credit score?
We all know the importance of things being “just right” in the story of Goldilocks, but the link to your credit file is a little more opaque – so let’s look deeper into this.
There are two reasons that you may not experience a good credit score that infringes your ability to obtain credit:
- Poor financial management. This is by far the most common reason your credit score may be low. Credit defaults are caused when you fail to make a payment to a creditor; they are very common for people who have struggled with debt issues in the past. Other elements of poor financial management include high levels of debt, having a large number of credit accounts open at once, and similar examples. When most of us think of a bad credit score, we turn to the “poor financial management” reasons as the likely cause – but this is not the only reason a credit score can be low.
- No financial history. While less usual, it is a known fact that little to no financial history can impact your credit score. Superficially, this seems odd; if a person has no financial history, no debts, are thus clearly living within their means means and managing their finances well – why wouldn’t this result in a good credit score? After all, a credit score uses past behavior to predict how people will manage finances in future; if someone has never needed to borrow due to good financial management, surely that’s a plus point? Unfortunately, financial institutions disagree: rather than seeing this as a positive, they see it as a negative. That’s because the lender cannot use past behavior–because there is none–to predict future patterns.
It should now be becoming clearer how Goldilocks and credit scoring is related. Goldilocks wanted the right size of armchair and temperature of porridge, but your credit score wants something even tougher to achieve: people are expected to manage your finances extremely well, never obtain defaults, always pay bills on time, but also use credit. You have to get it just right.
How does this impact your financial management?
The most important point to keep in mind is that your credit score reflects how much you use credit. Using too much (or worse still, default on it) will negatively impact your credit score. However, if you use too little credit, then your credit score will also be negatively impacted. Here’s how to manage this across a number of common financial scenarios:
If you are debt-free and managing your finances well, then you may not have a need for credit – but you should still use credit. There are a variety of ways to do this. For example, if your score is relatively healthy, then you can apply for a standard credit card, spend $50 per month on it, then pay it off in full to ensure you are not charged interest. If your credit score has already been adversely affected by your under-utilization of credit, then you can read this review to learn more about secured credit cards and how they can help you build your credit in a healthy, sustainable way.
Caution is required, alternatively, if you are in debt and struggling with your financial management. The first priority is to ensure that you do not sustain a default on any lines of existing credit. If you cannot meet a minimum payment, then talk to your creditors in an effort to prevent a default from being applied to your file. However, if you wish to build your credit score in an effort to help recover from your debts, then you will still need to use credit to do this. Again, you have a number of options to do this; secured credit cards are a good choice if your credit score has already been harmed, or you could apply for a standard credit card if your score is still managing to stay relatively positive.
Isn’t it unfair that people are effectively punished for managing their finances well?
Frankly, yes. The idea that not needing to use credit is somehow negative is a strange one. But it’s also possible to see how this decision came to exist.
As mentioned, your credit score is a device that financial institutions use to judge how you will act in the future, based on your past behavior. Many people experience this in a negative sense; i.e. their credit score is bad because they have gone into debt or incurred defaults. This makes sense to an extent. When lenders provide funds to individuals, they have to base their decision on something, and although credit scoring is far from perfect, past behavior is a decent enough indicator. If someone has struggled with their finances in the past, it’s likely they’ll struggle in the future.
The issue is trickier when considered in terms of a lack of past borrowing, but also understandable. Think of it like this: who would you rather lend to? The friend who has never borrowed money from you before and whose financial status you’re unsure of? Or the one who has borrowed and repaid promptly? There’s benefits to both, but you’d probably prefer the latter, as their record indicates they will repay. This is why credit scoring can be poor even if the reason someone has never borrowed before is actually positive; i.e. they have managed their finances. Is this ideal? Not particularly, and if you find yourself in this situation, having to borrow just for the sake of your credit score seems incredibly alien – but it is possible to at least understand why credit scores work this way.
Bottom Line for Building a Good Credit Score
The connection between a fairy-tale and your real-world finances may seem like a stretch. But having read through the above, you should now understand how they relate. While it may sound odd for both over-utilization and under-utilization of credit to be a bad thing, this is nevertheless how the financial industry works. By ensuring that you get your credit score management “just right”, you should be able to enjoy a happy, well-managed financial outlook in the future.
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Neglecting your credit score is one of the biggest money mistakes that people make. It’s only when you try to borrow some money and realize that your credit score is in the gutter that you start to think about it. Unfortunately, the damage is already done by that point and it’s very hard to come back from. If you need to borrow money for emergencies, to buy a home or car, or even to start your own business in the future, you’re going to need a healthy credit score. That’s why you need to start planning for the future now and getting into good financial habits.
Not Using Credit
Your credit score is a measure of your financial responsibility. Which is why people often think that the best thing to do is refrain from borrowing money. Surely, managing your money well enough so that you don’t need to borrow any extra is the best way to prove that you’re financially responsible, isn’t it? You’d think so, but that’s not quite how it works.
If you haven’t used credit before, you won’t have a credit score at all which is always a bad thing in the eyes of lenders. That’s why you should start using credit, but using it sensibly.
First off, you need to pick a good credit card with interest rates that you can manage. Check out this list of the best credit cards by the Ascent to see what great deals are out there at the moment. Once you’ve picked a good credit card, you should start using it for small purchases like your weekly grocery shopping and then pay off the balance right away. That way, you can start building up a healthy credit score.
Using Too Much Credit
Using credit is important if you want to build up your score but you’ve got to be careful. If you’re using too much credit, it’ll give lenders the wrong impression. Whenever you take out a credit card, you have to go through a credit check. Each one will damage your credit score. It also gives lenders the wrong impression because it suggests that you’re borrowing a lot more than you actually are. You need to use credit, but don’t use it too much.
A good rule of thumb is to not use more than 30% of your credit line. And then always pay it off ASAP.
Maxing Out Credit Cards
When you’re spending money on credit cards to build up your score, you’ve got to be very careful. It’s tempting to just keep spending until you’re at your limit, but that’s going to hurt you in more ways than one. Firstly, it’s going to make it difficult to manage your finances, and secondly, it’s going to damage your credit score. When lenders look at your score, they’ll check your credit utilization ratio (the amount of available credit that you’re using). If that number is too high, it’ll raise red flags and you won’t be able to borrow any money.
Repair credit mistakes
Many people don’t know this, but there are many mistakes made on credit reports. To prevent your credit from having bad ratings, always check it once a year to make sure nothing is on there that isn’t legit. If you find anything questionable, you should immediately write to each credit bureau and request that the item be appealed.
Once the bureau gets this request, they have a certain amount of time to follow up with the creditor. If the creditor can’t prove that it’s a legitimate credit ding, they’re required to remove it from your credit report. I recommend doing this for every item on your report that’s negative, because you never know what can and cannot be proven. You could improve your credit rating tremendously by making sure your credit looks as good as possible.
Trying to manage your credit score is tricky, but if you avoid these mistakes, it’s possible.
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Overgrown, disorganized gardens are not just a sore sight: they can actually damage local ecosystems and decrease the value of your property. For the hobby gardener, it takes some effort to stay in control of your garden and keep it organized so that it looks natural and carefree, but not unkempt. Adding structure gives visitors somewhere to look at so they know to focus their attention on your prized plants without getting disoriented. And, it’s a great way to make your garden a family-friendly space and teach your kids about the central tenants of gardening at a young age.
The #1 Way to Stay in Control of Your Garden: Weed, Mulch, Repeat
All gardens need weeding. But gardens that have been recently unattended to probably require an emergency weeding session. Weeding is a fast way to cut down on the over-clutter in your garden so that you have clearer picture of the space you’re working with before planting.
For similar reasons, mulching an unkempt garden will make the color of plants stand out against the ground while fighting off weeds. Mulch also acts as an insect repellent and cools down the soil during summer months, making it a garden staple for healthy plants and organization.
Once you have a clear picture of the empty space in your garden, make a blueprint of how you want to change the space. Include where you want trees, flowerbeds, and plain patches of grass to grow. Even if it takes a few years for your blueprint to take full effect, having the plan will better guide you as you approach staying in control of your garden.
Strategic additions and removals to your space will help add structure to your garden without looking stilted.
Creating a gravel path for your viewer to navigate through helps divide excess space while giving your viewer some direction.
Edging your garden accomplishes this goal as well: without edging, there is no divider between “grass” and “arrangement of flowers,” which can make gardens look overgrown.
Often, excess trees add bulk to a garden while detracting from the sunlight needed to make plants grow. This is especially important for trees that are rotting or look like they could fall on your house at any given moment!
Make a Vegetable Garden Layout
Vegetable gardens are a win-win for inexpensive, homegrown produce and boosting your gardens diversity. But they also provide neat botanic arrangement. Build or purchase a raised vegetable garden box and plant your veggies in rows to increase orderly composition. The neat pathways of a vegetable garden will also make sure you are maximizing the amount of produce you can grow in any given space.
Plus, keeping a vegetable garden is a great way to engage your kids with your garden while teaching them to, quite literally, reap what they sow. Your children will better appreciate produce from the family garden if they understand the process of growing food in the first place!
Once a general layout for your garden is in place, it will be much easier to keep your garden structured and stay in control of your garden. And to the theme of sustainability, you and your family can appreciate the lasting effects of a well-maintained garden for years to come.
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