3 Reasons to Meal Prep + A Free Meal Plan

Meal prep is one of the easiest and healthiest ways to achieve your financial and health goals. If you’re like most people, you’re super busy and it seems as if there is never enough time in the day to accomplish everything on your to-do list. Amidst all of the responsibility, striving to live a healthier lifestyle becomes somewhat of a distant memory.

However, by proper planning and preparing, you’ll be more successful at achieving your health (and financial) goals.Read More

5 Things I’d Tell My Younger Financial Self
Younger Self. Yeah. Don't I look like I was living the YOLO life?

Younger Self. Yeah. Don’t I look like I was living the YOLO life?

The other day a friend and I were talking about the mistakes of our past and we jokingly said that hindsight is clearer than 20/20; hindsight is Lasik Vision. The beauty of time is it allows you to reflect on your past decisions, and if you are fortunate and open to change, you grow from them.

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Oh Hi… I’m Engaged!

Screen Shot 2014-09-30 at 6.13.02 PM

Now lets get insurance!

Well I guess I kinda got straight to the point with that title huh?

If you follow me on a social media or know me in person this isn’t news to you. But it’s news to on MyFabFinance.com and I figured it was time to let the cat out of the bag.

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I Divorced Bank of America

divorce

This post is adapted from a post I wrote in 2013. I figured right after the $16 Billion BOA settlement would be as good a time as any. I recall opening my first bank account. I was so proud. My mom took me to Wachovia (RIP Wachovia, thanks for the memories) and cashed my first paycheck from my grocery-bagging job a Winn Dixie.

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How Becoming an Authorized User Can Help You Improve Your Credit

People often ask me how they can start improving their credit.

One of the first questions I ask them is if they have any open revolving accounts. When working towards repairing your credit, “actionable” items improve credit. By actionable, I mean accounts where positive changes occurred.

Examples of actionable accounts are open credit cards, loans, or car payments. Keeping these open accounts in good standing is key when attempting to increase your credit score. Another actionable item can be an item coming off or falling off of your report. But what if you are like I was during my worst financial period? My credit was so bad that I wasn’t approved for respectable credit cards.  By respectable I mean the ones that don’t charge you a $100 annual fee, while only allowing a $300 limit and a 30% interest rate. Items were falling off my report. My student loans were in deferment but I did not have any “actionable” items to improve my score. After conducting extensive research, I realized becoming an authorized user was my best bet. authorizedpersonnel An authorized user, also known as piggybacking, is when the primary credit holder adds an additional person to a new or existing credit account. Not to be confused with a card holder, the authorized user submits their social security number and receives the payment history of the account they are authorized for on their credit profile. They also have access to the card yet have no liability to pay. The advantage of being an authorized user is if the person has excellent payment/ card history, it will reflect on your credit report simultaneously boosting your credit score. The disadvantage is that if that person begins to fall behind on payments, that negative information will also reflect on your credit report.

Meanddadatnicolesgame

Me and My Dad, 2008

I became an authorized user on one of my father’s accounts.  It was one of my last financial requests as I dug myself out of my parent’s pocket and worked on becoming a financially responsible adult. He designated me as an authorized user on the credit card account with the best payment history and a decent line of credit. I did not request access to his credit card because the access was solely for credit building purposes. My credit score increased tremendously as a result of being an authorized user. I received the fruits of his positive payment history and credit limit. Since he maintains a 10% credit utilization rate, my available credit amount increased by a few thousand dollars. 

During my research I came across several horror stories. They ranged from parents designating their children as authorized users and awarding their child a card, only for the child to go off to college and charge everything in sight to girlfriends adding a boyfriend as an authorized user and failing to have him removed after the relationship ended…we know how that ends.

The important thing to consider when becoming an authorized user is STABILITY and interest.  I don’t recommend asking a co-worker or a boss if you can be added as an authorized user…can we say awkward.

Ask your family. Parents, grandparents, siblings, aunts, etc. Reassure them that you only want access to their payment history to help you boost your credit. But also make sure that they are stable. For instance, if they can’t afford to miss a paycheck , you might not want to become an authorized user on their accounts. Remember if they stop paying, IT WILL REFLECT ON YOUR REPORT! I know my father is invested in maintaining his good standing as well is being careful not to adversely impact my credit.

Do you have experience adding an authorized user or being an authorized user? How has it helped you? Or what advice do you have for others considering this?

3 Ways to Use your Tax Return

Ahhh it’s tax season.

Sidewalks and curbs are decorated with empty flatscreen TV boxes. People are venturing out to treat themselves to dinners and other luxuries they couldn’t afford over the past year. Stores are discounting merchandise and people are ready to spend spend spend. shopping-spree

It’s easy to get caught up in the income tax spending season. After all, if you have poor spending habits, these will only be exasperated by the lump sum of money you received after filing your taxes. But you can also used this money to get ahead and get your goals going.

 

Here are three ways I urge you to consider using your income tax return:

Pay off a Debt- Sometimes even the best of us find ourselves faced with unexpected credit card debt .Many of us have a debt that we want to pay off and only use our income tax to pay a portion of that. Take advantage of receiving this chunk of money and pay it off for good.
If it s a credit card, once you have paid it off don’t use it or make sure you only charge things you can afford to pay off within that month. If it’s a collection debt or something similar make sure you have everything in writing including the payment agreement and a letter confirming that you paid off the debt.

 

Kick start your investment portfolio- Several people stray away from investing because they don’t believe they have enough money to make the initial investment.  Consider allocating a percentage of your refund for investing. While you need a decent chunk of money (usually $500 min) to start your investment fund, you can contribute as little at $50 per month. I chose to do this with a portion of my return and was able to find a financial adviser that worked off contingency.

financial-advisor

Do something that will change your life or your family’s I’m also big on enhancing the quality of our lives. While I consider paying off debt to be a big life changer, if you have money left over, invest in you. This year for instance I am using my a portion of my income tax return to take my first trip to Africa. Last year I used  a portion of mine to visit Europe.

Consider using your income tax to invest in your happiness whether it’s that life changing trip, saving for a big move, or attending a conference or classes that will help you improve yourself and working habits. Note: pay attention to how you define happiness. In my opinion it this spending option should help you accomplish something you’ve always wanted to experience.

If you have not already filed your taxes you should do so pronto. If you are low-income, there are a variety of organizations available to help you for free. If you are not low-income, consider doing them yourself or ask your peers for recommendations.

So did you get an income tax return this year?

How did you or how do you plan to spend yours?

Discover New Ways to Save Money on Your Commute To Work

Living in New York  is exciting but also expensive! One expense New Yorkers understand very well is the cost of commuting. Buses, taxi’s, trains and rental cars, all add up and can really take a toll!

There are a few thing that you want to consider as you plan your monthly commute, for example;  how do you decide which metro card you should purchase? Keep reading and we will break down price per swipe to discover which metro card you need for your specific commute.

For the average work week, I use one fare and one transfer each way. With the current fare, that cost me $5.00 a day. With a 5 day work week, that brings to a total of $25.00 on traveling to and from work. But of course there is more to life than work. If I make one or two trips outside of my routine in a week, then it still makes sense to pay per ride, however, as soon as I take the 13th trip, I am no longer getting best value.

Most of us are making 13 trips or more per week, and should make the investment in the $30,  7 day unlimited. Even thought you may not want to make that commitment it is quite easy to go over 13 rides. (Work, plus two other trips with in the week.)

ways to save money, ways to save money on commuting, ways to save money for a trip, best way to save money, tips to save moneyWhen is it time to invest in a monthly unlimited?

Once you are making 48 trips a month, (12 trips a week or more) It’s actually a better investment to purchase the $112 Monthly Metro Card. (remember when this only cost about $94!?) This means that you are getting more for your money using a monthly metro card if you are traveling to and from work, and going out at least twice on the weekends.

Some times it can be a challenge to pay that $112 up front, but I hope this post will encourage you to write it into your budget. Recently I have been paying per ride, but numbers don’t lie, I need to go back to the monthly card.

I encourage you to check with your employer about pre-tax commuter benefits. Also, learn more about pre-tax commuter benefits here:  web.mta.info/mta/farebenefits.htm  This federal benefit allows a portion of your paycheck  to go towards transportation. This benefits you because the amount comes out before taxes.

Example: Your gross pay check is $100 and you are contributing $10 to pre-tax commuter benefits. You will only pay taxes on the net of $90 instead of $100. This will reduce the amount of taxes you pay. It works in your favor because you needed to pay for your transportation anyway, so why not budget exactly what you need and pay less taxes on your take home check.

60 trips per month is not a lot. Between commuting to work, and heading into the city on weekends, the average New Yorker can easily hit 60 rides. At 60 rides per month using a monthly metro card, you are only spending $1.87 per ride. That is a fantastic value!

I know it can be tough to pay that $112 up front, but I hope this article gives you the information you need, to make the best decision, for you and for your pockets.

As for me, I am letting go of the $10 cards here and there, signing up with my employer, and I will start using a monthly metro April 1st!

PS, there is talk of a fare hike coming to NY… Stay tuned!

<3 metrocard-machine

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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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