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The Bigger Picture: Savings

For this edition of the Mr. Ed Credit Blog, let’s step back a little. It might help us get our bearings if we stop focusing solely on the credit aspect of our financial world, but instead look at the overall picture. The most effective element in finances is what is most liquid, or accessible, to us. That would be cash. So the most beneficial plan of action to uphold at all times would be to work on our Savings.

While we all may have one or two ways that we try to save money, (for example, collecting spare change that we find in our pockets or cup holders) there is a bundle of ways that are simple but drastically effective in the long haul.

So here is a list of small things you can change in your daily routines that will make a BIG impact over time. Don’t underestimate the power of simplicity. You don’t have to win the lottery to change your financial stars.

1. FOOD: Prepare your meals/favorite drinks at home. You have a kitchen for a reason! Cooking at home, making your own coffee, packing a lunch for work, etc. These are things, that when performed as often as possible, REALLY add. Sure eating out for lunch cost $5-$7 that one time, but what happens when it’s every day? Let me do the math for you, that is potentially $28/week, or $112/month!

2. SHOPPING: Make a list before you go grocery shopping and schedule an allotment of time to be in the store. If you go shopping when you have all day, you will most certainly linger at every item instead of just grabbing what is necessary. But keep a particular eye on bulk values and generic brands, especially on items such as cereal, cooking staples, and beverages. One exception I’d say is on peanut butter. That original taste is worth the extra dollar.

3. BANKING: Go to the Source! Wherever you bank, they update their policies and account regulations more frequently than you think. Plus it never hurts to be informed. So stop in, sit down with a personal banker and ask them these main questions: What are the interest rates on my credit lines? Can I get them lowered for having good banking history? What are your regulations for over drafting my checking account? Where will I get charged with an ATM fee?

4. ELECTRICITY: Catch up with the times. How many cell phones reside in your household? Most likely, anyone who you would need to call has a cell phone (even your 9-year-old son/daughter, admit it) so why are you still paying for that land line?

5. MORE SHOPPING: If you have your eye on something special (which usually means, it isn’t cheap), look online first. Ebay. Craigslist. From Clothes to accessories, cameras to camping equipment, it can all be found at a consignment store or online franchise.

6. Again, don’t underestimate preparation! Planning ahead can give you enough time to compare prices in all areas. But don’t be intimidated if it sounds like a lot of work. It can be as simple as quickly searching on Google. For example, if you’re going to the movie theatres, prices are cheaper for everybody if you go before 6pm. Even for bigger projects, like a vacation, costs are cut back significantly for booking in advance.

Hopefully this gave you a few new ways to save money because having your own extra stash of funds will always be more comforting and helpful than depending solely on loans and credit cards. If you have any suggestions, questions or comments, feel free to email me at Shannon.oconnor@earnhardt.com.

Posted in Credit Tips

3 Ways To Boost Your Credit Score

Boost your credit!First thing to know about credit scores is that there are NO “quick fixes.” Be leery of advice that tells you otherwise because those tips can easily backfire just as quickly. There are three key factors that can help boost a low credit score. These three little, but effective, measures include:

Keep Low Balances
The balance of your various credit cards or line of credit account for 30% of your calculated score. Keep those balances low, even if they’re spread out among multiple cards, is better than one large balance on a single credit account.

Make Your Payments on Time
Your payment history accounts for 35% of your credit score. Even if you can’t pay anything more than the monthly minimum balance, your continued history of paying on time reflects greatly on your reliability as a possible lender.

Get Periodic Credit Checks
Aside from ensuring no damaging, incorrect information is being reported to your credit, checking your credit every 3 months or so will act as your road map of how to best improve your score. Turning your credit around doesn’t happen by accident. You need to have a plan, stay informed, and take control.

While these three tips aren’t really novel concepts, they are highly effective. Keep in mind, Rome wasn’t built in a day and nor can you build your credit score overnight. It takes time and a little bit of discipline, so don’t give up. Before long you’ll start seeing that score creeping up.

In addition to these three steps, a slightly larger way to help your credit score is to be invested in some kind of an installment loan, such as an auto loan. That kind of commitment looks good on your credit report, especially if with every on-time payment.

Another source of information on how to spruce up your credit score, is your personal banker. Whatever bank you’re with, their personal bankers have lots of information on your particular score and credit history. They know who to get you in contact with to fully understand what in your history is hurting you most so you learn for the future.

Posted in Credit Tips

Credit Problems? No Problem!

This week’s post is to address the tall tales of the dreaded Credit Score. I have included both general topics that you should know as a credit score holder, and direct topics concerning the credit issues that we, at the Mr. Ed Department, look at to help you, our customer, make your next financial move.

Don't be haunted by bad creditMyth: A poor credit score will haunt you forever.

The truth is your credit score only contains the last seven years of your financial history. That means bad moments in your credit history will fall off eventually and be taken out of your calculated score. Time heals all things…so the longer it has been since your last late payment, the better.

 More importantly, your credit score is used to tell credit lenders about your general spending behavior. Bad credit can be caused by any given number of circumstances: divorce, job loss or pay reduction, overuse of credit cards, etc. So a bad credit score doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t be considered for loans or credit accounts. Your credit history reflects those unexpected events that caused your financial situation some unsteady times, and lenders know it. Bad things just happen sometimes.

Also, keep in mind that your credit score is not the only factor as to whether you qualify for a financial loan.  At the Mr. Ed Department, in addition to your credit history, we also look at your current income and employment history. That way, our experts know how to find the quickest way to get you in a car you love at a price you can afford.

Still concerned about your credit score? Don’t worry! Getting approved for an auto loan with Mr. Ed helps build your credit! Having an installment loan, such as a car loan, helps your credit score. And we only work with companies that report your installment loan to the credit bureaus, that way your continuous payments stand out in your history.

Posted in Credit Tips
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