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Teaching Yourself to Say NO to Debt

Today’s Guest Blogger is Matthew Woodley, creditexpertrepair.com.

Be sure to implement some of his insightful tips for dropping debt!

Teaching Yourself to Say No to Debt

If you are struggling with debt then you have to make a commitment to change the way you spend your money. There are many places you can turn for help, such as financial advisors, and there are many ways to help turn your finances around with programs involving debt management, refinancing, or even debt consolidation. Tapping into professional assistance and teaching yourself to say no to debt can pave a new path to financial freedom.

With that said, no matter what options you choose you need to commit to saying no to any more debt. No matter how tempting it may be to spend, if you want to get out debt you have to stop adding to it.

It is true that it can be hard not to take on new debt, especially if you are used to using your credit cards and are living pay-check to pay-check. To get started here are a few suggestions for teaching yourself to say NO to debt and changing your habits.

Avoid New Loans

When you are having trouble paying bills, it can be very tempting to seek out a new loan in order to cushion yourself and have a sense of security. However, you are much better off reducing your expenses in other ways and creating a monthly budget. This can show you how easy it can be to save money and allow you to learn how to live within your means.

Begin teaching yourself to say no to debt by using cash for all of your expenses. You will begin to realize just how much of a crutch your credit card and loans have been. If you have a lot of debt and cannot afford to buy something in full using cash, then you should not be allowing yourself to buy it.

Breaking Bad Habits

It is very important to allow yourself to put paying off debt before anything else. By avoiding loans and only spending the money that you have in your account you will be able to break away from your spending habits and stand up to your finances.

Another great way to learn new habits is to start paying yourself before you turn to other expenses. You can do this by setting up a deposit into your savings account on the first of the month. When you start to see this money disappearing each month you will begin to treat it like any other payment, and even forget that you are actually saving money. This is one of the best habits to get into and is a great way to save for an emergency or start to build up a nest egg.

Even if you set up a withdrawal that puts $50 a month into your savings – you will have at least $600 in an emergency fund at the end of the year. While that may not seem worth it right now, it can be the difference between bankruptcy and making it through any difficult times. Something as simple as avoiding buying a cup of coffee each day can allow you to pay yourself first, and is more than worth it in the long run.

Reducing Toxic Debt

Aside from putting away a bit of money, you should always do your best to target toxic debt with any extra money you have from your budget. Toxic debt refers to the high interest payments that you have in terms of credit card balances or pay advance loans. You should always being focusing on paying off this kind of debt first before upping your payments on things such as student loans or car payments. Tackle the worst debts first and then you will be in better shape to slowly pay off other debt such as your mortgage.

The fact is that most of us have more money than we think we do, we are just guilty of impulse buys and not having our priorities straight. By teaching yourself to spend in cash, avoid loans, pay yourself first, and attacking toxic debt, you can form all new habits and in many instances find out just how much extra cash you will eventually have lying around at the end of each month.

Be smart, stick to your guns, and that dream retirement or debt-free future could be closer than you think.

Matthew Woodley is the founder of CreditRepairExpert.org which provides users with free and unbiased information on how to repair and improve their credit score. Make sure to follow him on Twitter for the latest on credit repair and debt management.

For more info, please visit CreditRepairExpert.org

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Easy Hacks For A New Financial Habit

The Money Nerve

Easy Hacks For A New Financial Habit

Today is the best day for starting a new habit. Try these easy hacks for a new financial habit. You may have decided that it is time to do “things” differently, but the thought of making lots of significant changes at the same time can be overwhelming. Let’s break it down to make it easier to stick with a new mindset.

Keep It Simple

Let’s say you have decided to start an emergency fund and your long-term goal is to save three months of salary. When thinking about such a big hairy goal, it would be so easy to admit defeat before you ever started. So, take $50 and open that savings account. Tell all your friends that you are working on saving more money. When you talk about your goals, you plant the idea more firmly in your head.

Now automate a small amount of money, how about $25, to be directed into this new account with every paycheck. You will be surprised at how quickly your account will grow, and how little you miss that small amount you may have been spending on “junk.”

Starting with small steps makes a change of financial habits easier.
One glass of water a day. One extra vegetable. Three pushups. One sentence of writing a day. Two minutes of meditation. Voila! You now have a habit that lasts.

Keep Your Focus Positive

We all know a friend or colleague that seems to be “practically perfect!” They work out every day, eat healthy, volunteer at the local shelter and blog about their good deeds. It’s easy to compare yourself to others and begin to tear apart all the good work YOU are doing.

Keep your positive attitude; you are making one small step toward a more positive outcome.
Only you can make a personal change. When seeds of doubt begin to grow, you need to squash those negative voices that pop into your head; demanding you to quit, taunting you with past failures or demoralizing you with doubt and fear. Shove those thoughts into a box and mentally throw the box out! Embrace your new habit and nurture your small wins.

Keep It Real

Every week or two, hold yourself accountable and move forward a few steps. If you didn’t do as well as you wanted, jot that down and try again with a slightly different approach. Did you spend your “emergency fund” money on a movie and popcorn? Next week, add fifty percent more, you will still be ahead.

Did a great job of saving each paycheck for the past month? Tell yourself what an awesome job you are doing. Acknowledge your good work, reward yourself, and enjoy the success. Share your success with others, it may motivate them to start a new habit too. It often takes less time to create one simple habit than it does to make excuses for your inability to change.

For insight and motivational tips to create a healthy relationship with your money, AND for easy hacks to develop a new financial habit – sign up for the monthly Money Nerve newsletter.

You can do anything for one month!

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Investing In a Volatile Market

Guest Blogger George Diaz

Investing In a Volatile Market

Ever since the election of Donald Trump, markets have been very volatile, hitting record highs one minute, and then experiencing massive selloffs the next. For this reason, it is imperative to know “how and where” when investing in a volatile market.

We are living in turbulent times.

Market volatility should be a reminder to regularly review your investments and make sure you have a diversified investment strategy that matches the overall risk in your portfolio to your personality and goals. Here are some guidelines for you to invest in an unpredictable market.

1. Stand firm: Crises happen on a regular basis and are usually of short duration.

Market crashes can be annoying, but history shows that the stock market has been able to recover from declines and can still offer investors a positive return in the long run.

In fact, in the last 35 years, the market has experienced an average decrease of 14% from highest to lowest during each year, but still had a positive annual return more than 80% of the time.

2. Be at ease with your investments

If you are nervous when the market goes down, you may not have the right investments. Your time horizon, goals and risk tolerance are key factors in ensuring that you have an investment strategy that works for you. Even if your time horizon is long enough to justify an aggressive portfolio, you have to be comfortable with the bumps you will encounter.

However, you should be mindful of not being too conservative, especially if you have a long-term horizon because strategies that are more conservative can not provide the growth potential you need to achieve your goals.

 

Attempting to enter and exit the market can be costly.

3. Do not try to time the market

4. Invest regularly despite volatility

If you invest regularly for months, years and decades, short-term crises will not have a big impact on your bottom line. Instead of trying to judge when to buy and sell based on market conditions, if you take a disciplined approach to investing, you avoid the dangers of market timing. Seize opportunities!

Bear Market Strategies

During a general downturn in financial markets as a result of economic uncertainty, investors rush and seek security in their investments.

There may be some actions to take while the markets are down, to help you have a better position for the long term. These strategies are complex, and you may want to consult a professional before making any investment or tax decisions.

1. Avoid positioning yourself in volatile funds or ETFs of complex nature, even more so during a full correction.

2. Say goodbye to the losers. Now is the right time to do a portfolio cleaning. If these stocks did not perform well in boom times, why would it be any different now?

3. Reduce your stock positions. If the market continues to decline, you will be able to go hunting for undervalued securities, because you will have sufficient liquidity.

4. Buy bonds. Debt securities can be great allies in the midst of bearish gaps in the market.

5. If the stock market continues to move down, try to avoid constant monitoring, as fear will make you anxious and often results in people making hasty decisions about their assets.

6. Taking short positions is one way to make money in a bear market, such as selling futures, betting on declines or helping to reduce your portfolio exposure to the market.

Guest blooger George Diaz writes for finance sites: sobredinero.com and Myfinancialwisdom.com. He can be reached at george@sobredinero.com or via Twitter @sobredinero1

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Ready To Invest: Start Today

Ready to Invest- The Money Nerve

Ready to Invest: Start Today

Before you start diving into investments,

let’s look a few ways to be smart with your money.

What is investing? Investing is actually pretty simple; you are essentially putting your money to work for you so that you don’t have to take a second job or work overtime hours to increase your earning potential. There are many different ways to make an investment, such as stocks, bonds, mutual funds or real estate, and they don’t always require a large sum of money to start.

Learn the terminology of investing

Many of the larger investment companies provide a wealth of content to teach beginners the language of investing and share information about the multiple businesses you can invest in, and the various methods to build your nest egg. TIME=MONEY Therefore, the earlier you begin saving and investing, the higher returns you will see compared investing the same amount of money 20 years later. Money creates money and your lump sum will increase exponentially – if you nurture it and let it grow over time. It is tempting to skim the profit off the initial investment, but you will significantly reduce your total gains with that choice.

I was given some sound advice when I was younger, “Don’t invest money that you can’t afford to lose.” Anytime you put your money where outside influences can create an environment where massive gains can be made; you must also be aware that it can result in substantial losses. More volatility can create huge wins, and that “lucky break syndrome” is addictive to many of us. Hence the warning: this is “extra money” that you want to grow without putting your current lifestyle in jeopardy. If a stock loss means you can’t pay your bills, you need to adjust your investment strategy!

Be smart, do some homework. I like to advise people ready to invest in the stock market to select high-value blue-chip companies that pay dividends. Invest in value and don’t treat it as a quick sale. It is a stable place to park your money, and over time the value will continue to grow, building your wealth.

Many Paths to Reach Your Goal

Another option for entering the stock market is to purchase Exchange Traded Funds, also called EFTs. Investing in EFTs is similar to buying stocks, but you are placing your money into funds that track indexes like the NASDAQ-100 Index, S&P 500, Dow Jones, etc. By purchasing a fund that has many stocks in a particular index, you are not trying to “beat the market” you are taking advantage of being “in the market” with a broader range of stocks being traded for a more consistent result. One of the benefits of ETFs is having the broad array of a diversified portfolio with the ease of buying and selling a single stock. You don’t have to wait for the market to close to make changes. As you get more savvy in following the market or electing to make bolder choices, you can purchase ETF shares on margin, short sell shares, or hold for the long term. You can make trades in the stock market as an individual or you can use a stockbroker; each has advantages and disadvantages; just explore your options.

If the stock market is too much of a gamble or too virtual for your budget, then real estate is another option for investing. It is a fact that the world’s population continues to increase, but there will never be more land. You can begin by investing in land or property. If you live in an area that is having significant growth, look for some land nearby that will grow in value as the area expands.

Building Your Tangible Assets

A rental house might be a solid choice; many people do not have the money to buy a home and need to rent. For this reason, owning property can be another option for investing in a tangible asset. If you have saved a substantial amount of money, pay cash for the house, and the monthly rent will pay for the real estate over time. Or when you are ready to invest, place a down payment on a small home and collect a rent that is higher than the mortgage.

Owning smaller property builds your equity without sizable risk because you own the property, make a small amount of profit each month, and can sell this asset if needed. Be sure to open a savings account to cover any expenses such as new appliances or repairs. It is best to keep the cash flow from real estate separate from your personal cash flow. Separate accounts make it easier to track the money flow and calculate the real return (ROI) on your money. As the the property is paid off, you can continue to receive residual income or purchase another piece of property.

Begin With A Simple Plan

There are so many options to build your wealth and these are just a few choices to ponder, once you decide you are ready to invest. Think about your ultimate goal, what you want the money to provide for you and when you might need to use your money, as you grow older. Seek out the good advice of successful financiers. One of my favorites, a brilliant investor is Warren Buffet, and he famously shares his motto, “Rule No.1: Never lose money. Rule No.2: Never forget rule No.1.”

Explore. Experience. Achieve.

*This post was also published on http://www.mystrategicdollar.com/. It is always a pleasure to work with people who want to help others gain more traction in their journey to create financial freedom. If you are looking for ways to manage your money more effectively, check out my “tools” page and be sure to read Lance’s blogposts at the link above.

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Mental Map for Living in Proactive Abundance

Mental Map-Proactive Abundance

Mental Map for Living in Proactive Abundance

Congratulations! You filed your taxes. But, for whatever reason, you are unhappy. Maybe you paid too much or didn’t get the refund you thought you deserved. Good news! Use this week to make a mental map for living in proactive abundance. You have almost a year to change your financial plans for 2017.

Embrace Your Story

Embrace your story; own your story. Be willing to accept that you might be partially responsible for your current state of affairs. Don’t judge yourself or wallow in self-pity. Pause and make the necessary adjustments to get where you want to be. Whether you want to have millions or invest thousands of dollars, own lots of property, want to save for a Jacuzzi, or stop bouncing checks, you need to acknowledge your goals. After you decide what is relevant for the next year or two, you must make the commitment to go for it.

There are Plenty of Fish in the Sea

When you have a mental map, it is wise to remember that many routes can lead to the same destination. As you confront challenges or obstacles when reaching for your goal, keep in mind that there are alternate means to achieve your result. The ability to remain flexible and take advantage of opportunities that present themselves, benefits your long term vision of success. If your current environment is not generating what you need, it may be time to find a new solution, dream bigger, get a new job or look internally to see where you can make changes. Target that mental vision into a focused strategy and begin panning for gold!

Don’t Be Your Worst Enemy

Many people sabotage their best efforts and have no idea why they do that. Self-sabotage is a reactive emotional choice prompted by old habits. Defining your intentions results in defining the goal. With intentional effort, you now create a mental map for living in proactive abundance. If you look for good things in your life, it is safe to say; you will capitalize on each opportunity that pops up. Trust in yourself – be your best friend. Respect yourself, don’t talk down to yourself. When you honor who you are, you then create an internal dialogue that moves you forward. Taking positive steps on a daily basis will result in a series of “mini-successes” that lead to long-term satisfaction.

Mental Mapping Your Finances

Mental mapping your approach toward finances means rerouting the I-can’t-afford-it mentality. I like the word mapping because we are all on a path. No path leads the wrong way. Are you taking the scenic route to your financial destination? It might take you three times as long to get there, but that doesn’t mean you won’t have a beautiful journey.

Creating a Mental Map for Living in Proactive Abundance

You can create a new mental map about money that will help you move toward your financial goals. Your current mental map might tell you that you can’t enjoy your present lifestyle without using credit cards. You don’t care what the interest rate is. In fact, you may have no clue what the interest is! You could be paying 20 or 30 percent on your credit card. If you curbed your expenses and made small budget changes each week — that credit card interest saved could buy you a new car or fund a trip to Italy. You may find you can have a better life when you stop using credit cards altogether.

 

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Setting Your Financial Mindset, Five Ideas for Drastic Change

The Money nerve

Setting Your Financial Mindset

Money is a part of our lives, we all plan how to spend it, and we all plan to save it!

Today, we look at some fiscal challenges and offer tools for setting your financial mindset. Emotions and old habits can rule your decisions about money. Here are some challenges people have in managing their money and a few suggestions for shifting toward a new “money” mindset.

See if these issues sound familiar:

1. I Don’t Have Enough Money

2. I Will Never Get Ahead

3. I Don’t Plan; The World Will Bring Me Good Fortune

4. It’s Not My Fault; Nobody Taught Me

5. I Don’t Have Time to Budget

It is easy to drift on an endless journey when you have no plan, goal or destination. When you are ambiguous about the direction you want to go, cruising on autopilot will never result in the “real-life” successes you dream about.

Five ideas for making drastic change and setting your financial mindset:

Enough Money

Before you can determine whether or not you have enough money, you will need to know how much money you make. Many people will use their full salary to plan their expenses, but forget to consider taxes and social security deductions. Under-estimate the money coming in and over-estimate your spending.

Never Get Ahead

Focus on positive choices each month, and eliminate the resignation and depression that come from reacting to financial headaches. Choose how you want to delegate your dollars. Change the way you view money by thinking of money as a choice, not a dictator, in life. If you have $100, you have the power to delegate a third for saving, a third for eating lunch out 2 or 3 times and a third for bills.

The World Will Bring Me Good Fortune

Well, I am a firm believer in sending out positive vibes and seeing that energy coming back my way. However, I also know that when I have an action plan to support that attitude, I am more successful. It is no suprise that the people who plan their days and work the plan seem to luckier than everyone else! Set aside five minutes to write down the main focus for your day or your week, and set yourself up to your best advantage. No one can help you better than YOU CAN!

It’s Not My Fault

Take a good look in the mirror, you are the CEO of your life. Take a truthful look at your assets and your bad habits. Explore where you can make small changes that will move your life toward a more abundant mindset. Making intentional choices creates a feeling of independence and eliminates the need to blame others. Every choice you made in the last five years resulted in where you are today. If you are not happy with your life, snap out of the routine of non-decision-making. Begin making new choices that will give life to the dreams and goals you have.

Don’t Have Time to Budget

People are so busy, being busy, that they often mistake insignificant activity as being more valuable than a scheduled chunk of time for planning. It’s a bit of a paradox, but setting aside 30 minutes a month to review your finances and make a plan for the next month, can actually save you time and money. Just jotting down your monthly bills on an index card and slipping it your wallet, will help you stay on track. Dividing your spendable dollars into envelopes is another good idea for seeing where money flows.

We all have the opportunity to create the life we dream of, it takes a little faith, a plan and choices to make it happen. A goal is merely a dream with a deadline. Go for it!

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Imagine Where I Would Like to Be!

The Money NerveProjecting Your Success: Where would I like to be!

First of all, ask yourself “where I would like to be in one year or five years. Maybe free of credit card debt is where I would like to be? Do I want to travel the world? If I had more money in my retirement account, would I be happier and less stressed? How can I change my spending habits so that I can reach my goal of $50,000 in savings?”

Once you know where you would like to be, state your goal: A year from now, I will decrease my use of credit cards. Two years from now, I will sign up for additional training.  In five years, I want to have a zero-balance on all credit cards. In ten years, I’d like to transition to another career or own my own company.

Quiet the censor in your mind and just let your imagination travel where it likes. After allowing yourself this quiet time every day, you may be surprised to see where your imagination takes you! Take advantage of planning ahead, and then, every three months or so, sit down to adjust your budget. You can still get to where you want to go, you are just allowing yourself to keep it real and update, as needed.

Will I ever quit worrying?

Finances will always be a part of your life—not something you can ever move past. Confront your financial fears and set aside an hour per week to update your records. If you use computer software, download your bank statement and expenses. Balance your checkbook. Keeping up with your money each week for a small amount of time helps you stay on track for your bigger goals. Having a plan to work from results in a more efficient use of time and less worry.

Make an effort to spend responsibly. Make a list of all bills you get each month, and check them off your list as you pay them. That way, if you didn’t receive a bill, you still realize it has to be paid. Spreadsheets are a great way to keep track of expenditures. Once a year, list your assets and debts to get a sense of your net worth. As a result,  you now have a true road map showing where you have been and how to move more efficiently toward your current financial destination!

 

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A BETTER LIFE

3x3-a-better-life

A Better Life- Since the beginning of mankind’s existence, people have searched for a way to build a better life. Even in today’s world, with all of our knowledge and a vast amount of wealth and resources, we all still yearn for the best life we can create. It is a universal sense of making our world a better place to be.

What is a better life? Some people say it is enough food, a roof over our heads, education, and the opportunity to better ourselves, and enjoy a balance of work and recreation. Become more proactive by living fully every day; it is imperative to think ahead and plan a rough outline of what is important to you and what you wish to achieve over time.

Many old sayings and fables allude to being organized and making intentional choices with money. Have you ever heard these sayings?

Don’t count your chickens before they are hatched ~ Aesop’s Fables. My modern day translation: Don’t put all your purchases on a credit card when you cannot even make the monthly payment.

A fool and his money are soon parted ~ Thomas Tusser. My modern translation: People who make stupid money decisions soon lose all of their money and become poor.

He who pays the piper calls the tune ~ Unknown. My modern day translation: A person who has the money to pay for services has the right to state how the money should be used and to receive exactly what he or she wants.

Money grows through sheer persistence ~ Japanese proverb. My modern day translation: Slow, steady steps toward improving your money decisions and enriching your live takes thoughtfulness.

A rich man is nothing more than a poor man with money ~ W.C. Fields. My modern day translation: You are who you are, no matter how many dollars are in your pocket

Don’t let making a living prevent you from making a life ~ John Wooden. My modern day translation: Remember what is most important in life; family, friends, respecting and loving others.

A man in debt is so far a slave ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson. My modern day translation: When you allow yourself to owe more money than you can repay, you have lost all control of your day-to-day decisions and can be manipulated by all. You have lost your freedom to live as you wish.

Money is only a tool. It will take you wherever you wish, but it will not replace you as the driver ~ Ayn Rand. My modern day translation: You have the power. You can create a better life. Your actions have a direct impact on the results.

If one of these sayings resonates with you; write down and tape it to your mirror. Say it aloud every morning and consciously make daily decisions that lead to a better life!

(photo via http://easyway1234.blogspot.com/2016/05/dont-count-your-chickens-before-they.html)

 

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SMALL STEPS TO SUCCESS

3x3 Baby Steps to Success

Small Steps to Success: Large dreams are often extinguished by the sheer size of the goal along with a lot of self-doubts, but using small steps to success each day, will ensure you of getting closer to your dreams day by day.

Two simple tools for moving forward are:
1. Setting intentions with a strategic plan
2. Making small consistent actions each day that will move you to the goal

Sometimes big goals or life destinations can be a bit overwhelming. Know where you are right now! Determine where you want to be and breakdown that monstrous goal into smaller chunks. Breaking the bigger picture into small steps to success allows you to create small “wins” each week and will increase your confidence to tackle the next step in your journey.

There are so many possibilities for reaching your goal that sometimes people can’t even begin. When faced with this decision-making paralysis, many people quit before they start. Small, easy steps each day will have more impact than a few “big leaps.” So you want to save $20,000 for a down payment on a house.

Here are a few scenarios to achieve this:
Step1: Put all your pocket change in a jar to start your savings account. Once you have $100, you open an account at the bank.
Step 2: Set up an auto draft within your checking account to take $10 per paycheck or $5 per week from checking into your new savings account. You have now created a new positive habit without a colossal amount of pain.
Step 3: If you get a bonus check, deposit that into your savings. If you get a tax refund, deposit that into your savings. If you are still saving the change, start adding all the $1 bills left in your wallet into the jar each night – deposit when the jar is full.
Step 4: After six months, increase your auto draft to $15 per paycheck; you have gotten more comfortable with the fact that you are not punishing yourself by saving — you are reallocating your money in a new direction.

Small steps to success with a proactive plan will put you into a new home before you know it. Now plug in your big goal and develop your step-by-step plan today!

Bob

Ready to learn more proactive tips? Let me know what questions or comments you have:

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WHY WORRY ABOUT MY CREDIT SCORE?

A Snapshot of Your MoneyWhy Worry About My Credit Score?

Why should anyone worry about a credit score? I know many people who think that worrying about raising a credit score is so “Old School.” Many people think if they have a cell phone, pay their rent and lease a car, they must have “good” credit, but there is much more to this story!
Almost 49% of people polled don’t realize that a credit score measures credit risk. Do you know how a score affects your life? Do you know how to read a credit report? Why worry about my credit score? One reason: It is your responsibility to manage your credit, understand your credit score and know what’s being documented by businesses and institutions.

Your credit score is unique, much like your fingerprint. It identifies your risk & financial health and follows you everywhere. In fact, your credit score can fluctuate daily without you doing anything. Creditors report their data about you at different times during the month and depending on the data added to your report; your score will go up or down.  It is not an exact science, and each credit company has its own scoring models that can differ from each one. So you could have a different score on Experian, Transunion, and Equifax. You can check your credit score here: https://www.creditkarma.com/

Thus, it is critical to worry about your credit score and check the pulse of your credit situation every six months or at least annually. You need to have good credit to function in the world. Contrary to many “quick-fixes” you may read about, the best way of increasing your credit score is good payment behavior over time and a healthy mix of credit types.

Here are a few things that your credit score determines:
•    What kind of insurance rates you can receive
•    If you can qualify for a home mortgage and at what rate
•    Whether or not particular companies will hire you
•    If you are eligible for an auto loan and at what rate
•    What credit cards you can qualify for and if you will receive special rates or travel perks

Makes sense to schedule a summer check-up of your credit health today! Why worry about your credit score? It could save you tens of thousand of dollars when purchasing a home and getting the best credit cards with the most generous benefits!

Stay green, my friends!

~Bob