How to Build and Boost Your Credit

Purchasing Your Family Home: How to Build and Boost Your Credit - Chic and Domestic
Purchasing Your Family Home: How to Build and Boost Your Credit – Chic and Domestic
Purchasing Your Family Home: How to Build and Boost Your Credit - Chic and Domestic
Purchasing Your Family Home: How to Build and Boost Your Credit – Chic and Domestic[/caption]

*This post contains referral links. I may be compensated for your clicks!*

I’ve learned so much on our home buying journey, so of course I’ve decided to drag all of you along with me! Whether you’re planning to purchase a family home in the near future, or even if you’re planning to buy again, and you want to do it better this time around, I’m ready to share a few ways to assist in building and boosting your credit score for your next big purchase.

An important behind the scenes steps for home buying is securing that strong credit score. After all, this is what lenders look at to decide how likely you are to pay them back. You basically want your credit score to say, “I utilize my credit wisely, I’m good about paying back what I owe, and I even do it all in a timely manner.”
I’m no credit expert, but these are just some of the steps I took that worked out great for me.

Check Your Credit Report
First step is credit building. If you’re starting from the bottom, or if you’re just unsure of where you stand credit wise, a good first step is checking your credit report. Even if you think that you know what’s happening on your credit report, your best bet is to check. Things could be reporting inaccurately, you could be a victim of identity theft, or you could have old debts that you may have forgotten about. Check it, Check it, and Check it again!
Annual Credit Report, Credit Karma, and Experian will get your full views of your report, FOR FREE. Do note, Credit Karma uses vantage scores. Most mortgage lenders use FICO scoring to determine your credit worthiness. Use Credit Karma to keep up with your report only.

Disputes and Debt
If by any chance you have inaccuracies on your report, now is a good time to report them. Look into debt validation letters, and what sort of things you can dispute for. You want to get the ball rolling on this, but you also want to do it accurately, as it can take up to 30 to 45 days for a full investigation of the dispute. A good source that I used was knowledge from Financial Common Cents.

If you have a few accurate, but negative items on your report. It’s best to get them taken care of as soon as possible. Not everything will be deleted after payment, which sucks, but that’s okay. You still want to pay the debt down or pay it off because your debt to income ratio will be a big part of buying your family home. Paying down this debt will do nothing but help you.

Check out a few ways to tackle your debt here!

If your credit needs a boost, or is simply nonexistent I would suggest doing a few things. One being, apply for credit!

Self Lender
Self lender has been GREAT to me. I try to tell people about it any chance that I get because it’s really been nothing short of amazing for my credit. It’s an online CD account for savings. It helps with boosting your credit score by reporting on time payments (as long as your payments are ON TIME) but even better it holds your monthly payments for savings and distribute it back to you at the end! You’re basically getting a credit boost for an installment loan, but you’re really just saving your own money.

You don’t get a ding on your credit report for an inquiry, and it starts reporting almost immediately. I personally saw a credit boost of 50 points within the first 30 days of reporting, and 5 or 10 point raises after that. They have a few “loan” options depending on how much you can afford to save every month, and how quickly you plan to reach your savings goal. One is for as little as $25 a month.

Receive $10 FREE towards your own personal savings here!

Secured/ Unsecured Credit Card
A good starting place for credit building is getting a credit card. Secured cards or great for people with no credit history. You use your own money for a deposit, that deposit usually helps to determine your credit limit, and after 6 months of on time payments that deposit is usually returned to you.
Unsecured cards involve no deposit, but in some instances they’re harder to get approved for if you have limited or negative credit history. Different credit cards companies have different requirements and perks so if you’re going this route then just be sure to find a card that bests suits you.

Utilization %
If you choose to get a credit card to build a credit history, remember to keep your monthly utilization low. 30% is preferred for overall utilization. An even better rule of thumb is never, never ever, NEVER spend more than you can afford to pay by your due date. Of course things happen, and credit cards are good to have in emergencies, but when you’re looking to purchase a home in the future, the last thing you want to do is rack up unnecessary debt.

Know your cycle dates
Cycle dates are key when you’re looking for a credit boost. Your credit cards will be reporting to the big bosses, (the credit bureaus) after the closing of your cycle dates. Remember, your utilization should always be no more than 30% but if you want to see the most rewarding credit boosts, try to pay your cards down between 8% – 10% by your cycle date. If you don’t know your cards cycle date, don’t be afraid to ask!

Pay by your due date
Never, ever, miss a credit card payment if you can help it. This is something that will mess up all of your hard work in an instant! A good way to avoid credit card debt is to use what you can afford, a good way to avoid high interest is to pay your balance in full by your due date, and a good way to build a positive credit history is to make on time payments.

And there it is! Using these simple things will help you to start building a positive credit history. Before you know it, you’re going to see your score rising, which should help you tremendously with becoming an owner of your family home.

Check out how we managed to save a $1000 emergency fund here!

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7 Budget Friendly Health and Fitness Hacks

7 Budget Friendly Health and Fitness Hacks – Chic and Domestic
7 Budget Friendly Health and Fitness Hacks – Chic and Domestic

Going on a health and fitness journey can be hard enough! Trust me, I’m doing it. Some days are great, some days are better than others, some days are difficult to push through.

Being a busy mom on a budget, I try to find ways to do everything with my wallet in mind. When I decided that it was really time to take my health, and fitness seriously, I went shopping. TOTALLY not necessary, but ehh doing a little bit of budgeted shopping makes me feel like I’m taking things a bit more serious. If I spend money on it, I’m going through with it! No questions asked.

Looking at my health as an investment, there were a few things that I wanted to purchase to better equip myself with what I needed to stay consistent.

1. Utilize the Outdoors
The most budget friendly fitness hack I can give is to utilize the outdoors. Go outside! Get yourself some much needed Vitamin D. It’s summer, sweat it out! Switch up how you do your daily workouts and change your scenery. Use your backyard or outside deck to do a quick 15 or 30 minute workout routine in between daily tasks. Instead of hitting the gym, go visit your local park or nature trail for a walk or run. I actually tried hiking this summer with my husband (the ex-military/aspiring personal trainer, yea that was fun) and it was a great workout for me.

2. Meal Prepping
Healthy eating has been so much easier for me without the need to stand in front of my refrigerator wondering what I’m going to eat. It also saves me from reaching for a snack vs reaching for a well balanced meal or snack. I’ve also been loving meal prepping for my grocery budget because it saves me from having food go to waste. Clean eating means a lot of fresh ingredients, and it sucks when things don’t get used before they go bad. Meal prepping along with my normal family meal planning has been a lifesaver thus far.

Check out some of my favorite meal prep containers here!

3. My Fitness Pal
Along with meal prepping, I’ve been tracking my food, water, and exercise intake with the free My Fitness Pal app. At first I found it to be tedious to keep up with, but after about a week of figuring out how it worked, I feel like it has really helped me to watch what I’m eating, and how much I’m eating.

*Fit Mom Tip: Try out Cronometer, Keto Diet Tracker, or Calorie Counter by FatSecret

4. Fitness Blender
I am in loveee with Fitness Blender. Did I mention that I love it? If you’re anything like me, sometimes it’s hard to come up with general workouts, especially when you’re first starting a fitness journey. Sometimes it’s difficult to find workouts for a specific target area, or maybe you’re doing the same workouts and your body needs a change. Fitness Blender has been great for the days that I don’t have a ton of time, or I just need a quick workout routine that I can do in my living room without too much change to my already hectic schedule.

5. Planet Fitness
For the days that I am up for going to the gym, I like having my planet fitness membership on hand. It’s only $10 or $19.99 a month depending on the plan. You also get a few perks with the $19.99 black card membership. I don’t know about you, but that’s worth it to me to have 24 hour gym access. Gym memberships can get costly very quickly, but this has by far been the best gym option for me and my lifestyle.

6. Resistance Bands
Resistance bands are a cost effective way to strength train in the comfort of your own home. It’s a great piece of workout equipment to have to help tone your entire body, work your muscles, and add variety to your at home workout routine. It’s pretty inexpensive compared to buying a large variety of weights for someone just starting out.

7. Jump Ropes
Jump ropes are another inexpensive piece of workout equipment that makes working out a breeze. They’re light weight and great for cardio. It’s a great replacement for a short run if the weather is working against you that day. #NoDaysOff! Utilize it at home, or even throw it in your bag to take along for an outdoor workout session.

 

If you’re interested in getting healthy and fit, join the 30 Day #FitMomFab Challenge here!

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How To Save a $1000 Emergency Fund

How to stop dipping into your savings. Changing your mindset. Customized Savings.
How To Save a $1000 Emergency Fund – Chic and Domestic

How to stop dipping into your savings. Changing your mindset. Customized Savings.

*This post contains referral links. I may receive compensation for your clicks*

If you’re one of my loyal subscribers, it’s no secret now that my family is on the yellow brick road to home ownership, but before going all in, it was important to first tackle a few other things along the way. The most important thing you can do for yourself as an adult, or just someone out here pretending to adult, is to save an emergency fund for a rainy day. This comes in handy not only for someone in the market for a home, but for anyone. After all, no one in the world is exempt from unexpected emergencies.

It always seems that everyone’s biggest hurdle is either starting a savings, consistently saving, or remembering that your savings isn’t for that new pair of shoes. Savings is for saving, and not touching until you’ve reached your goal, or until absolutely necessary.
We had to first change our mindset and remember to pay ourselves first. Treat your savings as if it’s equally as important as any of your other bills, because after all, it is! It quickly became mandatory for us to save every week, because having that cushion for “what ifs” was just as important as keeping our lights on.

I’ve saved large lumpsums before, but simply moving money from my checking to my savings wasn’t hard enough to access. Like many others, I was finding myself constantly transferring money back and forth. I was saving, but just as quickly as I was saving, I was spending. This go around I opted for trying out an app like Qapital to save and control my savings.

If you try it out today with my referral code you’ll be able to receive $5 FREE towards your first savings goal. Check it out here.

Qapital is an easy to use app that transfers money from your bank account to a separate Qapital savings account. It’s been very easy to use so far, and I’m able to keep “rules” set so that I can save as little or as much as I want to. I’ve been able to cash out on two of my savings goals and the process was also very quick and easy to have my money returned to me.

My current favorites are the “round up” rule that saves the change every time I swipe my card for purchases, and the “set it and forget it” option that sets up daily, weekly, or monthly deposits to my Qapital savings account.

Along with these rules there are various options for savings that you can choose from.

Saving a percentage of your check
For saving percentages of your check weekly or biweekly. There’s even an option for adjustment based on the total of your check.

A guilty pleasure rule
For making a payment to your savings whenever you buy a guilty pleasure that you’re trying to resist.

Spend less rule
Where you set a budget for yourself, come in under budget (Hopefully), and the Qapital app automatically saves the difference.

Freelancer rule
Where you’re able to tuck away the required 30% every payday, so that you’re prepared for Tax Day.

52 week challenge rule
The Qapital app automatically saves the weekly requirements to complete the 52 week challenge for savings.

And other customizable rules.

With the use of this app I was able to see my savings grow while I essentially did what I was normally doing. Before I knew it, it was telling me that I had reached 50% of my $1000 savings goal, and after that it became addicting for me to check it every week, and add whatever extra money I could. We are now working on our 3 month reserves goal, and our 6 month reserves soon after!

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How To Be A Productive Stay at Home Mom

How To Be A Productive Stay At Home Mom - Chic and Domestic
How To Be A Productive Stay At Home Mom - Chic and Domestic
How To Be A Productive Stay At Home Mom – Chic and Domestic

If you’ve been a SAHM for a while, then I’m sure you’re an expert by now. Or maybe you’re practically a professional, (Like me!) As much as I do in a day as far as keeping 3 little people alive and well, having so much flexibility with my days can sometimes put me in a rut if I’m not too careful. Back in your working days, how great would it have been to hear your alarm go off (the one telling you to get up and get ready for morning traffic) and actually been able to cover up and go back to bed for an extra hour of sleep, because your boss tells you its fineee I’m still tired too! YEAH, pretty amazing I bet. Well, for me personally, my little bosses telling me that I have an extra hour to sleep in usually means the start of one of our lazy days, which I like to keep at a minimum. Of course one of the perks of being a full time mom at home is that we get to do days of easy breakfast, movies and cuddling on the couch, and lots of undivided attention, but on a day to day basis, I like to wake up and cross a few things off of my “To Do” list first.

1. Get up and make your bed
A great start to any productive morning is to rise and shine, and make your bed behind you. It’s crazy what a simple task can do to get your day off on the right foot. I don’t know about you, but making my bed means that I’ve already accomplished something before even getting out of my pajamas. It also means that once I go through the trouble of making my bedding nice and neat, that I am less likely to have plans to get back in it! Don’t tempt me fluffy duvet cover, don’t tempt me.

2. Unload the dishwasher from the night before/ Put away dishes
Maybe you’re a mom that likes to do your dish washing in full every night. Me? Naah, not so much. I usually only have time to do about half before it’s time to move on to baths, reading, and bedtime. So, once I’m up and moving I like to head to the kitchen to either unload my clean dishes from the night before, or put away the hand washed dishes. And yes, I let them dry on the drying rack! Guilty as charged. This is something quick and easy to do, something that can be done while you’re already in the kitchen making breakfast or your morning coffee. The best part is, it can be yet another productive thing to cross off of your list. Little accomplishments for the win!

3. Start a load of laundry
I know the running joke is that no one ever finishes a full load of laundry in a day (Wash, Dry, Fold, AND put away) but sometimes getting started is half of the battle. We’re a larger family so we essentially wash clothes everyday. I’m sure we could manage to cut that down to multiple loads of laundry in less days, BUT … no one ever finishes a load of laundry in a day, right? So who is really about to finish 2, or even 3? Probably not this mama. Pace yourself.

*MomTip: Set an alarm to remind yourself to move your clean laundry over to the dryer. No one wants to come back hours later and find their soggy laundry still sitting.

Check out “10 ways to cut your household expenses” where I discuss how adjusting your laundry times could actually save you money.

4. Start breakfast
Breakfast is probably the favorite meal time for my children. Meaning one of the only times I can get them to eat up all of their food without complaints, or too much food thrown on the floor. It’s also one of my favorite meal times, because breakfast is by far the easiest to cook. It helps to have a meal plan in place, or things meal prepped in advance, and it’s definitely helpful when you’ve got hangry little ones ready for food.

Be sure to subscribe, and look out for my list of Toddler Breakfast Suggestions!

5. Clean Something
I try to stick this into my morning routine on a consistent basis. No room or area specifically, but I do like to get something cleaned before I move on with the rest of my day. It’s usually between me just cleaning up the kitchen during breakfast, like hand washing the dishes and pots and pans I just used, or cleaning and organizing something that I put on my list from the night before. So this could be cleaning out the refrigerator (Normally done on a Thursday), organizing the kids toys (Which is a great way to get them involved), or even getting out of the house every once in a while and taking the car to get washed. (Which my little ones hate lol) It’s surprising what I’m able to accomplish either while they eat, or that first 20 minutes of them getting into play mode.

P.S Now would also be a great time to throw your laundry in the dryer.

By this time in my house, I’ve usually done so many productive things that I’m just on a roll. I have time to just sit and play with my kids before they take a nap about 2 hours later. We read, color, or do puzzles. Some days I use this early morning time to continue my productivity, and I either pay bills, do things for my blog, or continue cleaning if something wasn’t done the night before.

It’s so important to start your day off being productive, especially as a stay at home mom. You have to stay upbeat and motivated, not only to keep up with your littles, but because sometimes without a big boss breathing down your neck, it gets easy to procrastinate.

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My Top 5 Cloth Diaper Brands

My Top 5 Cloth Diaper Brands - Chic and Domestic

I had such a hard time collecting my top 5 cloth diaper brands. And yes, I’ve tried out that many. Diving into the cloth diaper world can be completely overwhelming if you let it be, and I know that personally, I had no idea where to start in the beginning. My biggest help was choosing at least one cute print that I was in love with, and going from there. Cloth diapering can be a lot of trial and error in the beginning, but having prints that I loved really helped me stay motivated to make it work. It’s like those favorite pair of jeans that you’re determined to hop back into after pregnancy. They’re cute! They’re perfect, you could never give up and let them go to waste.

1. Alva Cloth Diaper

Alva Cloth Diapers definitely make my number one choice. They probably take up the majority of my cloth diaper collection. They’re in the lower price range (between $5 – $10) and they carry a TON of beautiful prints for little ones. I also love how easy they’ve been to purchase when I’m looking for new prints. They sell directly through their website, and they’re also available on Amazon. I was originally hesitant to purchase from them, thinking that maybe I should bite the bullet and spend more for quality, but we diaper 3 littles on a daily basis and these bad boys have held up GREAT. The pockets are a good size for stuffing the diapers, and we have never had any leaks, and no need for repairs as of yet. I’m nothing less than pleased with every purchase thus far.

2. Bitty Bum Baby

I can’t say enough about Bitty Bum Baby. I only own 3 of their diapers so far, but their prints (can you tell I’m a print snob?) are completely adorable. I was actually extremely pleased to find out that they’re a small owned business. Not only was I able to shop small, but I was also able to support a local business in the process. She had great customer service, and I love the relatable story behind her business being that she’s a work at home mom. The pocket size was perfect and I also got a few organic hemp inserts during a sale. When I say these inserts are my favorite hemp inserts, I mean it. No exaggeration. The diapers go for only $6.50, so right up alley for a mom trying to cover 3 booties.

3. Mama Koala

I could start by telling you that Mama Koala is the place to be if you’re looking for a wide variety of prints, but I’m sure you could have guessed that. I feel like Mama Koala Diapers are probably a great option for smaller babies. My twins always had the tinniest little legs, and even though these don’t have the hip adjustments like a lot of my other diapers, they still manage to fit them perfectly. I like the large pocket opening, but I must say I wish it elastic on both sides of the opening. It hasn’t been an issue for us thus far though, so no worries. I got my first set of these for $40 from Amazon. It came as a 6 pack with 6 inserts. All beautiful prints.

4. Lighthouse Kids Company

As much as I love my lower priced diapers, I had to give a little love to Lighthouse Kids Company for their amazing diapers. I only have one, (yes one) single diaper in my stash, but it’s been so sturdy and reliable. I love the elastic around the waist of the diaper, it’s equip with adjustable snaps, and hello guys, the prints! A downside is that I only see these diapers retail for around $20, which is more than I normally spend considering I try to buy multiple diapers at a time, but I would totally pay for the quality. Another downside is having access to these diapers to purchase them. I’ve yet to discover a direct website for them, they’re only located at other stores around The U.S and Internationally. So, while it is one of my favs, and I would totally recommend the purchase if you find one, I can’t say I see myself adding too many to my stash in the future.

5. Bum Genius 5.0

I didn’t start my journey buying a lot of Bum Genius diapers, even though I’ve always heard great things. It was just that they’re priced between $15- $20 and that wasn’t something I wanted to spend just in case the cloth life wasn’t for me. Now, being more experienced with cloth diapers, I’ve finally purchased a few and I love them. They’ve been great overnight diapers, the adjustable snaps are great, and the solid colored diapers are vibrant. I really feel like they provide enough options to fit just about any cloth mama, and her preferences for her little one.

 

Interested in more of my cloth diaper posts!? Looking to get into cloth diapering all together? Check out Part 1 of my “All About Cloth Series” to get you going, OR, read all about “What’s In MY Diaper Bag. Cloth Edition.

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