Tonya’s favorite sites & apps for monitoring Progress & Financial Vitals

6Favoritesites

This post is long overdue. Perhaps I encountered difficulty com
Let’s start with the basicspiling this list because every week, new favorites are being added to the list. So think of this as an ongoing conversation.

USAA Online Banking & My Banking App: Almost everyone is signed up for this with their bank, img_online_banking_lgpretty much every bank offers it. I check this if not twice, once a day. I honestly used to go days without checking my account because I was nervous to find a balance lower than what I expected. Browsing through your actual spending helps put things in perspective.  I also pay bills with my banking App. I can honestly say, this is the bank i have been the most happiest with

My Credit Monitoring Service: Signing up for a good credit-monitoring service is helpful in a variety of ways. It allows you to check and review your credit report as needed and also allows you to track changes including new accounts, whether creditors are responding to your request to remove items and monitoring overall credit health. Some services are better than others. I know that a few banks, including mine offer this option to their users for a reduced cost. So check with your bank before going with a service.

Credit Karma: This is an absolutely free and pretty useful resource.  They also have an iphone app. They will provide you with information that is on your credit reports. A score is also provided but it not a real Fico score and not accurate, so it does not substitute your actual report. My Credit Karma score is about 20 points lower than my actual credit score. But it is a helpful and instant way to keep an eye on things such as my utilization, new accounts, inquires, and estimate impact of new actions.

MyFico.com:  Name sound familiar? This was one of the first site I visited when I began cleaning up my credit. The forums are invaluable and filled with people sharing everything from their success calling backdoor numbers (the number you call to ask for a reconsideration if you were denied for a line of credit or an increase) to experience with Goodwill letters and other matters. I even search this site to see what people are saying about certain credit cards such as “How easy is it to redeem the rewards points for XYZ”.

Who Gave Me Credit- Not a very fancy site but before I apply for any new accounts I check Whogavemecredit.com. This site allows you to see what scores are being approved, the amount of credit they were approved for and the interest rate they received by different finance companies. For instance I checked this site out before applying for my Citibank credit card. I am considering buying a car at the end of the year, so I have been looking at what scores are being approved by who, and what the rates were. This also helps prevent you from applying for accounts you most likely wont get approved for.

Learnvest: While this has a few kinks and only works wen you use it, Learnvest is a great way to build1745_learnvest a budget that goes with you. Thinking of going out for dinner and wondering how you are doing on your budget? Learnvest is great for that. They offer several free articles and options as well as paid programs.. I’d say stay away from spending money on the products. See if you can handle the basics like budgeting yourself. I am looking into their Financial planning options.

 

 

 

 

I’m sure as I move along this journey there will be other apps and sites that are useful. Whenever I make updates to this list I will post a notice on my social media networks. If you do not follow all or any of them, now is your chance.

I’d love to hear your input whether or not you find these options helpful and others that I might have left off the list.

Travel on a Budget- Paris & London

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As many of you know, for my birthday present this year, I took a much needed vacation to Paris & London. I have been planning it since March and this was my first time traveling to Europe since living in Germany as a child, so I was extremely excited. Let me just start out by saying this , traveling to Europe is not cheap.Read More

Beauty on a Budget

Girly moment alert!

I am a make-up wearing feminist. While I don a more natural look for everyday occasions, you will rarely catch me out in public for an extended period of time without some form of make-up on. Blame it on my 6 years of working for Estee Lauder during undergrad and then briefly after college.

My skincare regimen and regularly used cosmetics are two things I tend to splurge on as I have rather acne prone, extremely oily, and pretty temperamental skin. So you can imagine I cut costs wherever I can. While I absolutely refuse to part with my Spiked brow pencil from MAC, traditionally I’m less loyal when it comes to liners and mascara’s. That is until three weeks ago when I found a drug store eye liner that has trumped any liner I have ever used.

If you are looking to cut your make-up budget one product I recommend without hesitation is Covergirl’s Perfect Point Plus liner. It goes on smooth, isn’t chalky, and is pretty long wearing yet easy to remove if you screw up application.

CGPerfect PLus

It’s only $5.75 on sites like soap.com who also currently has a buy one get one free special on them.

 

 

 

 

 

I’m learning that being financially fab isn’t so much about deprivation, its about making well thought out, financially responsible decisions.

So what is a credit score?

Most of us are pretty familiar with the words credit score and what they mean for…almost everything in your life at this point. All the information on your credit report is measured and weighed, and the bureaus assign a score to your report for lenders to use. But most people don’t know what formula is used to ultimately take all of your payment histories, balances, etc. and calculate it into one number. So what is in a credit score?

Note:Each bureau may report different scores b/c all creditors do not report to all bureaus. Click To Tweet

Some factors that weigh into your credit score count more than others:

  • Payment history (35%). On-time payments mean a higher score. Late payments, delinquent or overlimit accounts, bankruptcies, and liens will significantly lower your score.
  • Debt-to-Credit Ratio (30%). This is also called “revolving utilization” and is specific to your credit card accounts. If your credit limit is $1,000, creditors don’t want to see you maxing out the entire credit limit. Try to keep your total revolving utilization ratio as low as possible – 30 percent is good but 25 percent is better and if you really want to maximize your credit score, aim to keep your revolving utilization at 10 percent or less. This goes for your total revolving utilization and for each individual credit card. Maxing out your credit lines can lower your score.
  • Length of credit history (15%). This shows how long you have been using credit and how you have managed your finances in the past. The longer your credit history, the better. Avoid closing accounts which have been opened longer, even if you don’t use them.
  • New credit accounts and inquiries (10%). This includes accounts you’ve opened recently and recent inquiries from companies you have applied to for credit. Credit inquiries remain on your credit report for two years but are only factored into your credit score for the first 12 months. The main point to remember is that applying for a lot of credit in a short period of time can lower your score.
  • Diversity of Credit (10%). Lenders want to see that you can manage other types of credit such as installment loans and mortgages.

It’s fairly difficult to live every moment of your credit life with this these percentages and components in mind. But they are very helpful when setting a strategy for improving your credit. My first lines of action to improve my credit were to:

1.Pay off any existing judgements that weren’t scheduled to fall off within the next year.

2.Focus on my payment history of my existing accounts

3. Boost my score by becoming an authorized user.

4. Work on my utilization and paid my accounts down to under 25% utilization.

Credit Repair strategies aren’t one size fits all because there are unique we all have situations that impact our financial situation. However understanding the make-up of your score and how credit works are key components of a positive credit standing.

Credit Series Part 1- The Credit Report

The first step of the entire credit improvement process is getting familiar with your report. It all starts here and by law you have access to one credit report per year. There are a variety of resources out there that provide reports or some type of credit monitoring service. I know you’ve probably seen freecreditreport.com commercials but those aren’t free.

3-credit-bureausAll three reporting agencies (Experian, Transunion, and Equifax)  are available. while different bureaus might have different information, I recommend pulling only one of them. That way you can pull the others at different times of the year, perhaps  in 4-6 ,months and months 9-12 . The best website for your free credit report is annualcreditreport.com.

You will have to answer a series of questions to verify your identity and if you answer them correctly you will be provided with your most recent report. Please note that you will not receive your score. Scores cost money. If your goal is credit score improvement, I recommend paying for it just to see where you are starting from. And do not be alarmed, it is extremely rare that all three, even two of the reports have identical scores.

Once you open your report I recommend printing it or saving it as a PDF on your computer. The free credit report offer only allows you to access it free once a year without paying.

Now for the nitty gritty as my mom used to say.  I am referencing an Experian report for this post. All Reporting bureaus will have differences and similarities .

You will see a guide that let you know what the numbers and abbreviations you will find on your report mean. The report is pretty explanatory. You will find negative items first. It may put you to shame but  Scrutinize this info. Make sure it is correct. I once had a $32,000 account reporting twice. 

On each individual item you will see valuable information such as the creditor and their contact info (you will need this if you plan to challenge any debts), date opened,your highest balance, and account notes such as when you went delinquent, etc.  I say pay straight attention to the Status details. THIS COULD SAVE you money! In this field it will provide info such as when the debts will “fall off” your report, basically no longer be reported, and other info such as disputes etc. We will go into disputes soon as I’ve had success with a few disputes.

The fall off info can save you money because when deciding who to payback you should consider what’s falling off. If you have debt scheduled to fall of in the next 3-6 months I recommend allowing that to fall off and channelling your money into a newer debt or one that’s scheduled to reflect for several more years. I personally had two items fall off my report in December and saw approximately a 15-20 point boost in my credit score and all I had to do was be patient.

Next up are the accounts that are in good standing. This is the section where you get to wipe the look of shame of your face  and pat yourself on the back. Theres not too much to stress here as it pretty much makes you look good. But double check balances and accounts here, you wouldn’t want unauthorized mortgages in your name.

The next section is the inquiries section. There’s “Inquiries shared with others” or Hard Inquiries and “Inquiries shared with only you” called soft inquiries.  There’s mixed sentiments as to how much hard inquiries impact your credit. Some say upwards to 5- 10 points per pull others say 1-3 points, some say none. Rule of thumb though is try not to apply or credit if you don’t have/ need to. I recently went on a credit applying binge because Prime accounts finally opened back up to me. I’ve added a USAA rewards MasterCard, a Citi Bank Diamond Preferred Card, and a Macy’s card (in the name of their good ass coupons) to my portfolio. I plan to grow these cards and use them to further improve my credit standing with by maintaining  low utilization and on time payments  so no more plications for at least 1 year.

The Inquiries seen by only you or soft inquiries,  are often debt collectors looking to see if you’ve come into money and started paying off other debts. Don’t be surprised if you start getting more collection letters from dormant debts as you clean your act up. You’ll also probably see companies and banks who are patrolling for people to send “Pre-Approved ” offers to.

Last you will find your personal information, on Transunion I think this info comes first. But this portion reflects any address that you previously lived at, received mail at, etc.  A gypsy like me has 8 different addresses in this field. There’s a few credit dispute trick for this section that I will save for a later post.

This is a general overview of your credit report and the kick off for the credit report series. Next up is Understanding Scoring then we will get into my favorite tools.

Feel free to post your questions of topics you’d like me to expand upon in the comments section!

ABOUT
Created by nationally recognized millennial money expert Tonya Rapley, My Fab Finance is a leading financial education and lifestyle blog for millennials who want to become financially free and do more of what they love.
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