Free Credit Tool to Help with Your Finances: Credit Sesame

This post does contain affiliate links.  I will receive a small compensation for actions completed through the banner.

I’ve been using Credit Sesame for years.  To start with it’s free so there is really no loss in trying it. You can check your credit score at any time as often as you want and it won’t effect your credit score.  You can choose to get alerts either via email or app to let you know if there are changes to your credit either good or bad.

Credit Sesame has suggestions to help you try to fix your credit or maintain your good credit.

I had a divorce an bankruptcy decades ago in my history which is sort of the reason for my passion for saving money and getting my finances straight. I’ve come a long way since then.  Honestly Credit Sesame has been such an amazing tool for me in my journey to fix my credit.

There are no fees, no credit card required to join.

 


Avoid These Money Mistakes

Avoid these Money Mistakes

It doesn’t take an advanced finance degree or fancy high-rise office to understand how to manage your money. In fact, anyone can be financially savvy if they take the time to understand their own spending habits and needs. If you struggle with managing your finances, you shouldn’t get discouraged. Instead, read these common money mistakes people often make to help you avoid making similar errors in the future.

Neglecting Retirement

Many people have come to rely solely on Social Security to support them in retirement. However, what they don’t know is that Social Security only accounts for a small portion of your monthly income. Depending on what you made throughout your career, you may only be looking at 40% of your income being covered by Social Security. That likely won’t help you cover all your living expenses. Don’t use social systems such as Social Security as your retirement plan. You should put money away into a retirement account as soon as you can so you have enough money built up to sustain you in retirement. If you don’t, you could find yourself in financial trouble or unable to retire at all.

Overspending

Credit cards can be a hand tool. If you’re out of the country and have an emergency, for example, having a credit card available that works around the world can give you peace of mind and allow you to handle your emergency stress-free. However, if you’re using your card on shopping sprees and fancy luxuries, you may find yourself in more debt than you expected. Credit cards should be used sparingly and paid off as soon as possible to avoid interest charges.

Avoiding Savings

At some point in your life, you’ll likely run into an expensive emergency that needs taken care of right away. Perhaps you just bought a new home and the furnace breaks and needs replaced in the middle of winter, or you end up needing an emergency surgery that will leave you out of work for weeks without pay. If you don’t have money set aside to cover these types of emergencies, you may find yourself in hot water with your finances. Don’t let yourself be vulnerable to financial emergencies and set aside money from each paycheck to help you should something unexpected happen.

Being Uninsured

Insurance is a valuable tool, especially when used properly. If you have loved ones counting on you to support them, having insurance can provide peace of mind knowing they’ll be cared for if something comes up. Whether it’s fire, flood, a medical emergency, or even an unexpected death, having extra coverage in place to ensure they’re cared for can be priceless. Many people don’t purchase life insurance because they feel it’s too expensive, however, you can find excellent coverage for only a couple dollars a day that will give you and your loved ones the protection they need.

Keep up with the Joneses

If you’ve heard the expression about keeping up with the Joneses, then you understand that it can be a very expensive lifestyle to maintain. If you aren’t careful, your desire to keep up with the latest trends and fashions could land you in financial trouble. Instead, understand the values of investing in quality items that will retain their value and last years. You may even want to shift your line of thinking and place value on experiences over things. If you ask most people what they regret later in life, you won’t find it’s missing out on the latest gadget, but rather enjoying experiences with loved ones.

When you know what money mistakes to avoid, you can get on the right track towards being financially independent. The more you understand yours and your family’s needs, the better positioned you’ll be to make sound financial decisions that will benefit you and your loved ones.


Thinking of Buying a Home? Prep Now

This post is sponsored by Diamondlinks. Any opinions expressed are my own. 

In my life, I’ve bought 3 homes.  The 1st one was we built, the second one was a starter home and fixer upper for my husband and I. We went through a realtor on that one, the 3rd one is the home we live in now both the seller and the buyers (us) didn’t use a realtor.  My husband and I agreed. We don’t ever want to buy a home again unless it’s a house or a condo on the beach.

The home buying process is stressful! All the red tape, the waiting, the inspections, finding the right place, lining up help to move, the fees. Ugh, yea I remember the stress. But you can help cut down on the stress by doing some of these things.

  1.  Get pre-approved for a mortgage.  This isn’t a guarantee that you’ll be approved once you finally find the home you want but it gives you an idea of how much you’re likely to be approved for. This also helps speed up the actual mortgage process when you do find your house.
  2. Compare the different types of loans out there. When we bought our current house a VA loan ended up being the best deal for us since my husband is an army veteran.  With our previous house we used a first time home buyers loan which was better at that time.  There are even bad credit loans for those that are working on their credit. Hey mistake happen in life.
  3. Research the area(s) you are considering.  In our area, where we live the school was the best in the tri-county area, we were close to both mine and my husband’s family, taxes were lower, crime rate was low, and we got more home for our budget than we would have in a neighboring town.
  4.  Research the house you’re going to buy.  If it’s been on the market for quite some time you may be able to negotiate price, having fees taken care or, or things like throwing in the appliances a little easier.  On the other hand if it’s just listed and you know it’s what you want call as soon as possible. The home we’re in now is perfect for us. My husband and I both knew it was what we wanted.  I was the first person to call, we were the first people to tour it. They had 5 more people waiting to tour it. The sellers we eager to sell as they owned several other properties and had issues with a renter they had here. So we put an offer on the house that day and right at the price we wanted.
  5.  Decide what is a MUST for your home and what is optional. For us, my husband needed a garage. We needed more bedrooms since we had our 4th child. We also needed a bigger yard for the kids to actually play outside. We also needed more than one bathroom.  I wanted a bigger kitchen with more storage.  Using that base idea we were able to narrow down our search by searching number of bedrooms and the town we wanted to live in.


A Personal Story: Bad Financial Advice and Debt Consolidation

This post is sponsored by Diamondlinks. Any opinions expressed are my own.

I’m going to tell you a personal story.  I’ve told some of my financial journey on this blog before. I wasn’t always so savvy with money. It took me learning the hard way then educating myself to fix it. I’m going to tell you a story about a piece of bad advice I once got from a realtor when we were trying to buy a house about 15 years or so ago.

It started off with me and my (now ex) husband living in a small apartment in SC with a new baby. My husband, of the time, had just got promoted but didn’t get as much of a raise as he thought he would get. I was trying to be a stay at home mom with my son.  Mostly because we had just moved to SC and I needed to get my OT license squared away in SC.  Long story short, we started getting behind on credit card and student loan payments. I talked to one of the credit card companies and they suggested I try credit counseling.  I was willing to give it a go and so was my husband.  So we did. It rolled everything together and made things much more manageable for us. Yes they did roll a fee into the payments but it made it better for us to budget and were were able to get back on track.

 

Fast forward a couple years and we want to build a house in Elgin, SC.  We were still paying on the debt consolidation and doing well with it. The our realtor, (who seemed  a bit uppity) kind of looked down on us for being in debt consolidation. She told us that we needed to get out of it because it was slowing our credit down and it wouldn’t look good on our mortgage application (even though we had already been paying on it for about 2 years and only had about a year or so to go.  Well we really wanted to buy a house and we figured she was probably the expert on this so we got out of the debt consolidation.

Well all that money we paid in then basically meant nothing after that. Creditors were calling us trying to get their money. We were overwhelmed everyone wanted all their money right now!  Hindsight being 20/20 we should have never bought a house anyway but we ended up being approved for a mortgage through Countrywide.  Yep the mortgage lender that ended up getting in all kinds of controversy now long after.  We were in over our heads.  Honestly I think that whole thing sealed our financial doom at the time. When I look back on it, I wish we would have stayed in the debt consolidation program, paid off our debt, and been denied for the mortgage and just stayed in an apartment. Especially, again with hindsight being 20/20, my ex and I ended getting a divorce not long after anyway. And NO it was NOT all financial related.

The reason I’m telling my story is that you have to find what works with you in your budget. Sometimes debt reduction can be just what a person need to get back on track.  You might pay a little longer but in more manageable payments or in some cases maybe help you erase some debt. Companies like Nationwide Debt Reduction Services even offer ways to  help with student loan debt.

Bottom line is, I don’t think there is a cookie cutter way to get out of debt. I think you need to do your research and decide what’s best for you.

 


Five Ways To Save Money, Even When You Have Kids

Saving money when you were single wasn’t so hard. It just meant visiting the coffee shop a few less
times a week. All that changes when you have kids.
Any parent will tell you that saving money becomes an uphill battle the instant that first little bundle of joy is born, and it only gets worse as they age. Many parents throw their hands up in defeat because it’s just easier to keep chugging along instead of taking the time to find ways to save a little cash.It doesn’t have to be hard! With these five tips, you’ll find that saving money when you have kids is easier than you thought.

Mother strolling with newborn

Look for Ways to Reduce Fees
People without kids pay all kinds of fees, but if you have children, you end up paying even more. No
matter where you are in life, it pays to look for ways to reduce fees.
A few ideas include:
 Using a low-fee money transfer service, like Remitly, to send money to children and family in
other countries
 Reduce subscriptions, like TV, music, and gaming services, that the kids don’t really use
 Help your college student find student loans with the best interest rates
Shop the Sales and Buy Second Hand
Kids grow like weeds. The second you buy a new dress for your toddler or a new pair of shoes for your
teen, they have already outgrown them.
You’re just throwing money down the toilet if you buy new, full-price clothing for your child. Instead,
buy items second hand. Because babies and toddlers grow out of clothes so quickly, you may even find
stuff that has never been worn before.
If you have a tween or teen that can’t fathom buying stuff at the thrift store, shop the sales instead.
Look for coupons and consider loading up on clothes at the back to school sales. You can save a bundle if
you go shopping on the back-to- school tax-free weekend!

Limit Pay-To- Play Extracurricular Activities
It is important for your child to be involved, but that doesn’t mean you have to spend hundreds or
thousands of dollars on extracurricular activities.
Limit pay-to- play extracurricular activities by allowing each child to choose one thing they are passionate about that you’re willing to pay for. Then, get creative with free or low-cost activities in your area that might include:
 Boy or Girl Scouts
 Arts and crafts at the local rec center
 Gardening club
 Sewing class
 Mathnasium, or another academic club

Just because your kid should be involved in activities outside of school doesn’t mean every minute of their day has to be planned! There’s nothing wrong with spending lazy afternoons and evenings playing at the playground and watching movies, especially since it will save you a ton of cash.

Reduce Gifts
It isn’t uncommon for parents to get excited on birthdays and holidays where gifts are the norm.
Unfortunately, many parents go into debt trying to create the perfect Christmas experience for their
children.
Tons of gifts are fun in the moment, but a few thoughtful gifts are more meaningful than a truckload of presents. Reduce what you purchase for your little ones and they’ll be more likely to remember what you bought them years later.
Another idea is the four-gift rule. On Christmas, you purchase something to wear, something to read, something they want, and something they need. It will force your kids to think about what they really want for Christmas, and it will keep you from going into debt whenever the holidays roll around.

Learn to Say No
Saying no to kids can be hard. Especially if they’re having a meltdown in the grocery store and their
favorite treat will make the crocodile tears disappear right away. However, it’s much better to say no toy our kids.
By saying no, you’ll teach your child that it’s okay to say no, and it will help your child deal with
disappointment. It can even teach your child to retain their creativity as they age.
The best part about saying no is that you’ll save wads of cash, and you no longer have to worry about being held hostage in the toy store when you learn to say no.
Saving money when you have kids doesn’t have to be as hard as you thought. Although it does take
some determination and forethought, with these four tips, you can continue bulking up your bank
account even if you share your home with little ones.