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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How to Create a Household Budget

Creating a budget that works for you, Where to start, and What it takes to make it last.

With the start of a new month, it feels like the perfect time for a fresh start with everything. It’s like a breath of fresh air. A clean slate. Maybe last month your finances weren’t quite where you wanted or needed them to be. That’s fine, no problem. That just means it’s time to create a household budget that you can stick to.

Most people think budgets suck! “Eww, what’s a budget?” “Budget? HA. We’re too rich for a budget.” WRONG. No matter how much money you have coming in, if you can’t account for every dollar you’re spending, you probably either aren’t spending it wisely, or you my friend are more than likely spending money that you don’t really have. Instead of viewing budgeting as a negative thing, view it as more as a critical tool to help you reach your financial goals.

Your finances are extremely important, but budgeting can, and more than likely will be a trial and error experience. What works for you may not work for someone else. Everyone’s pennies are different, and everyone’s expenses vary. The only things that will be the same for everyone is that everyone will have expenses. Unless of course, you’re just living off of the land, creating your own textiles, sewing your own clothes, and walking or riding a bike wherever you need to travel. And, everyone will need some sort of income to pay those expenses.
Now is the perfect time, now more than ever, to find what works for you and really start to concur your finances.

What a Budget Does

Budgets give you the tools you need to plan for how you will be spending over a period of time (usually month to month), how you can or will be saving over a period of time, and it can also be used to keep track of your spending patterns so you can start to see exactly where your money goes.

Where to Start

For most people, finances are scary, but it’s vital to keep your financial house in order. At some point, you need to think of your family finances like a business. You need to be detailed, accurate, and as thorough as possible. If you have your last 2 or 3 months of income statements, bank statements, or copies of your bills, start there. Gather this information to review so you can get a better idea of your average income, and expense numbers.

1. Record your average monthly income
Record the average monthly take home pay for your household. This is where being detailed and thorough comes in handy. If you have your last few paystubs or bank statements, this should help to give you an average number of what you’re bringing home per week, biweekly, or monthly. Use this to determine what your total monthly income number is, because this is what you’ll be using for your budgeting since you’re recording expenses on a monthly basis.

2. Create a list of household expenses
Now that you have a clear idea of what money you have coming in, create a list of household expenses. Everything that you can think of. Don’t just include household bills, (mortgage payment, car payments, auto insurance, groceries, utilities, entertainment) and then forget to include expenses like your actual household items. Cleaning supplies, sponges, rags; if you change them out monthly, toilet paper, paper towels, all of these things are also considered household expenses, because these are things that you will inevitably need in your home every month.

3. Categorize your list of household expenses
Separate your expenses into two categories: fixed and variable. Your fixed expenses will be the things that stay relatively constant each month. Things that are usually a requirement to your everyday living like, rent or mortgage, car payment, cable/ internet, credit card payments if you have them. You won’t really find these expenses sporadically changing.
Variable expenses are your expenses that may change from month to month. Items like gas, groceries, entertainment, and even your grooming (hair, nails, haircuts) budget. These expenses may or may not be essential to your everyday living, but these are normally the things that are easiest to make changes when in need of cutting back.

4. Total your monthly income and expenses
After totaling both your income and expenses, you should have an end result that shows more income than expenses. This means that you’re bringing in an adequate amount of income to cover your monthly expenses. Pat yourself on the back, that’s great! This means that you can start using your excess money to use for a designated savings of your choice, and or extra splurges and entertainment. If your results show that your expenses are higher than your income, no worries. This just means that you’ll have to do some adjusting to your budget and expenses.

5. Make adjustments to your budget
If you have accurately listed all of your expenses, the end goal should be having your income and expenses either be equal, or have an increase in your income amount. If you happen to have increase in your expense number, you should look at your list of variable expenses first to either decrease costs, or cut them all together. You currently can’t afford it. Since these expenses are typically non-essential, it should be easy to find ways to bring you closer to your income number, whether that be decreasing your grocery budget, finding a cheaper hairstylist, or decreasing how often you’re getting your nails done. Another great thing to look out for when decreasing expenses would be things gym memberships and subscription services.

6. Review your budget (Trial and Error)
Now that you’ve created your budget, here is when the trial and error comes in. It’s important to go back and review your budget, weekly to make sure that you’re staying on track with expenses and saving, but you should also look over your budget again after your first official month using it. Sit down and compare what you planned for expenses, versus what you actually spent. This will help to show you where you did well, and where you might need to make improvements. If there is a large difference between what you expected and the reality, then you might need to increase your budgeted expenses accordingly. If there is a slight difference, that’s still okay. Trial and error. Just work harder throughout the next month to stay within budget. Soon you’ll be budgeting and spending like a pro!

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Saving Money and Headache This Christmas Season

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, but also the most stressful! That’s right, I’m obviously talking about Christmas. Yes, I very well do know what month it is, but it’s never too early to start planning ahead. In fact, I like to get my act together 2 to 3 months in advance. Hence, the reason for this post. Christmas talk always comes early in my house, and for good reason. I’ve always been a huge plan in advance type of girl, and now being a parent has taken that into overdrive. My littles are still young, so I luckily don’t have the headache of hunting for Christmas list “must haves” that happen to land on every child’s wish list that year, but we all know just how busy the holiday season can get in general. I hate fighting other people, especially other parents for a parking space, aisle space, the last items on the shelves; it gets ridiculous! If I can save myself a little bit of headache, and a little bit (or a lot) of money, then of course I’ll jump at the chance to do that. So, here is my list of things that I’ve tried, and things that help me mentally and financially get ready for the holiday chaos.

• Saving VS Borrowing
Let’s start here by saying that you should NOT go broke for Christmas. Don’t let the season of giving overwhelm you, and have you giving too much of what you don’t have. Christmas should be saved and planned for, ensuring that you have a designated budget just for enjoying your holiday season. Start early, set your savings goal, and try your best to stick to it!

• Make a list of who you’re buying for
I’m big on giving, especially when I’m in the holiday spirit. It’s important that you know in advance who you plan to buy for this year. Maybe in your home you only buy for close family (Spouse, Children) or maybe you also do extended family (Spouse, Children, Parents, Nieces and Nephews) Maybe you also go so far as to join in on secret Santa at the office, and other Christmas gift exchanges, and all of this needs to be planned for. KNOW who you’re purchasing for this year to help you plan accordingly.

• Create a budget
One of the most crucial parts of not overspending with anything, is creating an allocated budget for everything. Once you decide who you plan to purchase gifts for, it’s time to start thinking about just how much you want to spend on gifts. It’s better to do this before getting everyone’s Christmas wish list, because it will be based on what you want to spend, and not what you feel like you have to spend. Plan for what you can afford, and not for what you desire. On average, your largest purchases go to your close family, but if you normally partake in giving outside of close family, you should also plan a budget for those gifts as well.

Once you’ve found a magic number to reach for your larger purchases, save towards reaching those goals first. Save weekly, or biweekly (Whatever fits you personally) and remember to be consistent. When you’ve taken care of saving for the priority of your budget, you should then start putting aside money for your extra gifts (teacher gifts for your kids, classroom goodies) or gift exchanges, and it also gives you a cushion if you do decide to splurge on something special for someone. At least you’ll know you aren’t cutting into your budget from some of your other household finances. As time goes on, and you’re weeks closer to really getting in the Christmas spirit (obviously not in the month of September) once you start getting a better view of what all you’ll be wrapping up, you should start planning what you’ll be spending on bows, wrapping paper, gift wrapping services, or gift bags because this too is an expense that should be budgeted for.

• Purge your old belongings
This can be done however far in advance you’d prefer, but when you’re getting into the mode of giving new, why not purge the old first. This can be useful to do for many reasons. I like to do it to actually make room for new things to come into our home, to possibly find things to sell for some extra money, and to also be able to give to those in need. Out with the old, and in with the new! Throw away any old and broken toys or damaged clothes, and donate any toys or clothing in decent condition. It is fun to get and give shiny new things for Christmas, but it’s important to remember that it’s not all of what Christmas is about. Spread some holiday cheer and give to someone in need.

• Buy gift cards
Buying small gift cards (But GOOD gift cards) is also a good way to save yourself some headache when it comes to saving and giving. I’ve found it to be a cool way to “save” a portion (a small portion) of my Christmas budget, because I’m a lot less likely to dip into my gift card savings. When it’s finally time to start shopping, you can use your gift cards that you purchased to places like Target, Walmart, or any of your local department stores to either purchase actual gifts and wrapping paper, or to give the gift cards as a gifts themselves. Just make sure to keep track of their totals by either buying gift card holders to write on, or adding your gift cards to envelopes and labeling them for better organization.

• Utilize Rebates and Online Membership Offers
My faaavorite way to save money and make money to use for Christmas shopping, is utilizing rebate apps and online membership offers. Ebates is great for saving money on your online purchases, and we all know that online shopping can possible be more convenient than in store shopping during the holiday season. I also use Shopkicks for an easy way to basically get free money towards store gift cards. It saves me a ton throughout the year, but right about now I like to save up my points for larger gift cards. How it works is, you basically receive “kicks” for simply walking into the store, or making purchases that you would be making anyway. If you’re interested in trying it out, you can also use my code (MALL659750) to earn yourself 250 easy kicks to get started! For my wrapping paper and stocking stuffer gifts, I normally use my accumulated savings catcher money. If you’re a Walmart shopper and you haven’t gotten hip to savings catcher, you’re completely missing out. Just shop how you normally would, and remember to scan your receipt when you’re done. If another local store has lower prices on any of the items you’ve purchased, you receive the difference to your savings catcher app, and redeem your money through Walmart pay, or a Bluebird card (My personal preference)

• Don’t fall for black Friday and Cyber Monday “Deals”
Black Friday is great, BUT, not every deal will be a deal on black Friday. It’s important to be strategic with your purchasing, and really track the average pricing of the items you plan to buy. Just because it has a red tag, doesn’t mean it’s really a red tag deal. I’ve seen people feel like they have to splurge and spend all of their money on that particular day, and in reality they only save about $10.

• Utilize free shipping
Last but certainly not least, when you plan to do online shopping, it’s beneficial to make larger purchases to qualify for free shipping. Also, if you aren’t already an Amazon Prime member, holiday time is the BEST time to invest in a membership. Sometimes it’s also possible to receive discounts on prime memberships that are worth looking into.

Saving Money and Headache This Christmas Season - Chic and Domestic
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