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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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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10 Ways to Cut Your Household Expenses

With our new year already in full swing, everyone is interested in getting their fresh start, decluttering, organizing, and cutting their expenses to better be able to keep themselves on the straight and narrow for the next 12 months. I am definitely one of those people! I try to stay focused on my fabulously frugal goals always, but having that cliché “New year, New me” feeling really kicks that into high gear. I always get a ton of questions about ways to cut back and save less, but most of the time the outlook is only about cutting a monetary number in half, or decreasing the value of a bill.

I’m here to share 10 ways to cut your household expenses, just by making a few simple lifestyle changes, and switching up how you look at your everyday life.

1. Reuse, Repurpose, and Do It Yourself

Every Frugal OG knows the life of reusing, repurposing, and learning to do things yourself! This is a very broad category for frugal living, but it can definitely be applied nearly everywhere. Apply this philosophy to furniture, car maintenance, carryout containers, mason jars, beauty and grooming, simple home renovations, the list goes on. Don’t get me wrong, because I’m not saying that you should be so frugal that you’re electrocuting yourself, or causing a home flood for trying to do it all yourself, but a little research and a Youtube video or two could definitely get you out of a few costly expenses, and it could also have you on the road to learning a new trade, or creating yourself a side hustle.

2. Cut the Cable, Cheaper Phone Plans, Read for Fun

Cut back on electronics! Taking up reading instead of watching is an easy way to cut an expense. The less tv you’re watching, the less you need tv and cable at your disposal. I was one of those people that always said that I couldn’t do it. I would NEVER get rid of my cable. I’m a stay at home mom, and after a long day sometimes a girl just needs a good dose of trashy reality tv! However, I did it. I’ve done it. I invested in a fire stick, and I’ve always been a faithful Netflix and Hulu user, so I’ve been happy with the household expense difference ever since. This expense cut won’t fit everyone, but this is normally a BIG expense that can make a difference if it’s an option for you. There are now so many options to still get access to great shows or the channels that you enjoy. A great way to cut electronic expenses are cheaper phone plans, and no contract phones. I’m still team iPhone, I haven’t had to give up smart phone life (I’m a blogger, so it isss actual conducive to my business) and I’m not trapped into a contract, and I can upgrade whenever I want, and I’m more likely to do so when I actually have the money.

3. Utilize Your Local and Public Resources 

While you’re cutting cable and becoming a reading warrior, you should also learn to use your public resources; like the library. The library has options for books so you can save a few pennies before purchasing your own. It also has movies for rent while you’re learning to live your new cable free life. Also, did you know that a lot of local libraries provide cool (and FREE) events for your littles throughout the month? While you’re looking for kid friendly fun, you can also look for local Rec and Community Centers and invest in an affordable membership. Many places will work with you and base your monthly cost off of your household income.

4. Buy Reusable vs Buying Disposable

I like plastic and paper plates just as much as the next person that occasionally hates washing dishes, BUT it really doesn’t save you any money at all. I remember living in my first apartment with my husband and never buying real baking dishes. I only needed them once in a blue moon, so I always chose to buy disposable instead. Years later .. still never bought a baking dish! The amount of times I ended up using a disposable option, I could have just bought a reusable dish (or two) with all of that money instead. Plates, utensils, water bottles, whatever the case may be, buy them all reusable, and not disposable.

5. Cook at Home, Cook From Scratch, Plant When Possible

My favorite thing to talk about when it comes to saving money on groceries and cooking is to start Meal Planning. I have a great break down for it here on my blog. Planning your meals helps to prevent over spending, cooking those meals from scratch help cut costs on premade and prepackaged items, and learning to be sustainable with your fresh produce by learning to plant your own saves cost (and possibly even your health) on your fresh ingredients.

6. Laundry Times, Laundry Temps, Laundry Frequency

I’ve heard once that doing dishes, laundry, and using your electric essentials between certain hours of the day can actually help to lower your energy costs. It didn’t make sense to me at first, but I became genuinely curious so I started to research it. I even went as far as trying it out for a while and really going over my energy bill at the end of the month and surprisingly I actually saw a difference. I started cautiously doing laundry after 7pm, which was the little energy trick that I picked up. I also washed in only cold water, and tried to decrease our laundry frequency (which is surprisingly hard with a family of 5!) but I tried to make it work.

7. Paying Off Credit Cards to a $0 balance

Don’t let anyone convince you otherwise that massive credit card debt is absolutely necessary for daily living. It’s NOT. I do however believe in them for emergency purposes (Although emergency savings should always come first) and building some sort of credit history, but if you’re looking to decrease your household expenses, a great way to do that is to pay down the unnecessary debt that’s wallowing over your head. Once it’s paid off, stick to the 30% utilization rule, and keep your monthly payments low.

8. Buy Used Cars

I know it seems nearly impossible with all of the fancy and flashy cars on the road, but say it with me, and more importantly start saying it to yourself when it’s time to car shop, “The value of a new car depreciates as soon as you drive it off of the lot.” More importantly, after you’ve paid a car payment between $300 – $400 for a year or two, how’s it feel knowing that it still won’t technically be yours to own until another couple thousand dollars are paid? New cars also mean higher required car insurance, on top of your regular gas and maintenance. Buying used isn’t always a taboo. It shouldn’t be. Any car can break down, any car can throw you curveballs, but a car that’s bought outright makes it yours. Yours to sell with no lien, and yours to junk if need be with no burden of still paying a remaining balance. One of the worst feelings is having something happen to your car and still having your loan creep over your head for something you aren’t even enjoying anymore.

9. Date Nights In

My husband and I are just natural homebodies (A match made in heaven!) so it’s always been pretty easy for us to get creative and just enjoy time together from the comfort of our own home. No lines, no crowds, and no extra spending! If you’re a couple that naturally likes to be out and about, that’s fine too. To cut back on expenses, start incorporating more nights in by renting a movie at home vs seeing one in theaters, or cooking your own romantic dinner together vs sitting down at a restaurant. For the times where you do want to get out of the house, check Groupon for local events in your area, or opt to grab cheaper prices by doing a lunch date vs a dinner date.

10. Kids Day “Out”

This same concept of “Date Night In” can even be applied to fun times for the kids. Let them do movie night in the living room, where you create fun treats, and make them their own movie boxes for snacking. You could also plan a scavenger hunt around your house or backyard, do a paint night for kids where you invite a few other friends over, and if the weather permits, the backyard possibilities could be endless for affordably fun times.

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Simply Things That Can Save You Money, and How to Live a Frugal Life

Some of society’s most asked questions are centered around money. Everyone wants to make more of it, and everyone wants advice on how to spend it when you have it, and how to spend it when you don’t. “What are some simple things that can save me money?” “What can I do to decrease my spending?” “How do I live a more frugal lifestyle without living like I’m broke?” It’s really what we all want, right? We want to find ways to save our coins, and fill our pockets. If saving money were really that easy, we would all be doing it though, right? Saving money takes discipline, time, and dedication that not everyone just has. It’s all a learning process.

Living a more frugal life doesn’t have to be a ton of drab lifestyle changes, in fact, a few small tweaks and you can be on your way to adjusting. Being frugal can very much still be fabulous, and you won’t even have to always feel like you’re giving up the things that you love. I want to share some pretty simple ways to save. Things that don’t take a lot of effort, just a few self-reminders along the way to keep you on track, and before you know it, you’ll realize that frugal can be fabulous too!

• BE CONTENT
A great way to get on the road to saving is learning to be content. Everyone driving an expensive car, and wearing expensive things is NOT secretly rolling in money. The first thing you need to do is learn to be content, and be happy with the things that you already have, instead of keeping up with other people, or always feeling like you “need” more.
Decrease Your Expenses
Another part of being content is decreasing your expenses. When you’re trying to figure out what you can cut back on in your budget, or things that you can get at a cheaper rate, it’s easier to start on your variable expenses first. These will be expenses that vary month to month, your things that may or may not be essential. You have to decide what you’re ready to let go of, and what you really need. I talk more about this in my How to Create a Household Budget.

• Get Out Of Debt
Debt will hold you back for as long as you have it! Having debt means that you have money going out that you could be using to save, or put towards things that you really need. A good way to work towards spending less money, is to free up the money that you’re already spending. Plus, nobody wants to have crazy debt! *Inserts a double thumbs down*

Buy your needs not your wants
Before making purchases, ask yourself if it’s a need or a want. Mind over matter. You need food, water, clothing, shelter. BUT, do you need a meal from a fancy restaurant vs eating at home? Do you need name brand, all the time? Do you need the home with more square feet than you need, and all of the bells and whistles that you really can’t afford at the time? NO, probably not.

• 24 hour Wait Period, No Spend Periods
Start to make conscious decisions with your spending. If you can decide if something is an actual need or a want, give yourself a 24 hour wait period of time before making a purchase. If after 24 hours you still feel like you need it, then you can reconsider. You can also try NO spend periods, where you consciously decide to spend no extra money outside of necessities and household expenses. I attempt to keep up with doing this at least one week out of the month. No eating out, no outside fun and activities that cost money, and absolutely no extra shopping. I find that as time goes on, it gets easier and easier to concur a no spend period. If you’re new at this, first try to get through a weekend without spending, then increase it to a week, then maybe even longer.

• Carry Cash and Save Your Change
I don’t know if this is a frugal tip, or more of a money saving tip. I read all of the time how swiping a card lessens your attachment to your money. I’ve tried it, the whole carrying around only cash thing and let me tell you, it worked for me. I didn’t want to spend 5 dollars, let alone 20 dollars. I couldn’t bear to let precious green friends slip through my fingers! It was terrible. Also while using cash, it was easier for me to keep my change for savings. It’s crazy just how quickly change can add up when you save it and let your savings grow.

• Buy Used Cars
This isn’t always an ideal tip, and sometimes you have to do what you have to do, but if you can, buy used and save and pay for your cars in CASH. It’s no secret that cars lose value as soon as you drive them off of the lot. It sounds nice to have the car with all of the bells and whistles, but not so nice to have all of the debt that comes along with it. I’ve had both a car with a car payment, and a car that we bought used and paid cash for. Surprisingly, guess which one gave me more trouble in a 3 year span? Used does not always mean unreliable, and it doesn’t always mean old and broken down. Learning to love your used car that might be a year or so behind is all a part of my first tip. Be content.

• Learning to Coupon and Stockpile
Couponing isn’t some brand new frugal secret, it’s actually been around for what seems like forever. However, it’s no secret that couponing has recently gotten a face lift and a little bit of revamped popularity. There are resources everywhere to learn and start, FREE resources. You can find information online in blogs, there are Facebook groups that you can join, or you can even ask a coupon savvy friend if you have one. Once you get the hand of it, stockpiling will soon become your new best friend.

• Money = Time, and Time is Money
Being frugal is all about your mindset. Being frugal is about learning to value your money, and living and learning to live on less. Like I said before, everyone wants to make more money, and everyone wants advice on how to spend it when you have it, and how to spend it when you don’t, but nobody ever asks how to value whatever amount that you have. Start to think of your money like this, time is money, and money is time. Before you’re making an impulse purchase, think about just how long and hard you had to work to afford it. Say you’re buying yet another pair of shoes that would end up costing you like $50. If you’re making $20 an hour, then those shoes just cost you 2 ½ hours of your time. Suppose you make even less, at $10 an hour, those shoes just cost you 5 hours of your time.

I hope you found these easy tips helpful to you. Changing your lifestyle will always become a trial and error situation, but the longer you work at it the easier it will become. I wish you nothing but luck on your fabulously frugal journey. It will take time and adjustments, and it won’t always be easy.

Be sure to check out my pinterest boards for fabulous penny pinchers like yourself for tips, tricks, and inspiration here.

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My Top 5 Ways to Save Money on Christmas Shopping

My Top 5 Ways To Save Money On Christmas Shopping - Chic and Domestic

 

It’s holiday time again! So that means I get to share my top 5 ways to save money on Christmas shopping. Christmas time means days of holiday cheer, Christmas carols, and unfortunately a million and one ways to quickly see your money disappear. You don’t want to be that person, because nobody wants to be that person! You want to be both fabulous, and frugal for the holidays, and hold on to every penny that you can while also enjoying the season of giving.

This week I’ve teamed up with a few other ladies to discuss some Frugal Christmas topics. Karen from My Veteran Woman Life  shared her own Top Holiday Shopping Hacks. Be sure to head over and check them out.

So, here they go, My top 5 ways to save money on your Christmas Shopping.

1. Budgeting and Planning
If you know me, you know that I’m big on budgeting. It’s important to know where all of your money is going by having a plan, and budgeting for what you can afford to spend on certain things. Get an idea together of what it is you want to spend on your holiday shopping BEFORE you start. I go into a full breakdown of budgeting and planning in my previous Christmas post.

2. Limiting your gifts
Something I’ve decided to stick to for our kids is limiting the amount of gifts we buy them. This year, I also plan to implement this rule for gifting to other people. Our kids are still young now, but I also think I plan to keep up with this in the future. It’s so easy to want to buy every toy in the store, but what you end up with after gift opening is an overflowing toy box. I’ve seen a lot of people choose to buy their children 4 special gifts for the categories of something you want, something you need, something to wear, and something to read.

3. Make your own gifts and get creative
I love Christmas gifts with sentimental value, and there’s nothing more sentimental than something you handmade yourself. This is also great time to learn a new skill, or really get creative. Pinterest is a great resource for ideas and inspiration. Maybe you can crochet a scarf or blanket, and if crafty and hands on really isn’t your thing, you can never go wrong with a framed photo. Our family members love getting framed Christmas photos of the kids for the holidays. All you need is a good camera (I’ve taken some great photos with my phone), get your photos printed (Drugstores with photo centers, Target, Walmart, and apps like Free Prints), and a fancy frame. Frugal Tip, start your search at the dollar store.

4. Rebates
A real hardcore shopping tip. Expert shoppers, DO NOT pay full price. For anything. My favorite rebate for shopping is definitely Shopkicks. It’s basically free money for shopping and spending money you would already normally spend, and they also give you the opportunity to get points for gift cards by simply walking into the store! If you use my code [MALL659750] you can get a free 250 kicks for using the app within 7 days of joining. Another great rebate tool is Ebates. If you aren’t hip to ebates, its time to get hip. It can save you so much money on your regular shopping needs. They have a ton of stores, and coupon options to not only save your money, but you also get cash back for the money you’ve saved! If that’s not Christmas savings, I don’t know what is.

5. Do your research
Last but certainly not least, the best way to find savings for Christmas is to look for savings. How do you know that it’s not possible to get a better deal without looking for a better deal? I like to check the price tag at several stores before buying gifts. It usually consists of me checking the store that would most likely carry what I’m looking for, checking amazon (I love that prime member 2 day free shipping!) and Walmart or Target. Doing my research for sales also gives me room to find good rebate options to use. For example, if a $50 video game is on my shopping list, I would probably check somewhere like Gamestop first, and then compare prices online. Being the expert shopper that I am, I would take that knowledge and buy from the store that would save or make me the most money.

I know that Christmas shopping can possibly be one big stressful headache, but by utilizing these tips, money and saving will be the least of your worries!

*DISCLAIMER. This post contains affiliate links or special codes.

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