Thanks for joining me for the March Moola Madness Giveaway! For this event, I am giving away a $50 Visa Gift Card. Hopefully you can use this to pay on a bill, buy something you really need, or just splurge and treat yourself, because sometimes that is hard to do!
WINNER: Trisha G.
I’ve written a few posts here about ways to improve your credit and tips on how to clean up your credit score. There are many ways to do this, but the important thing to remember is that this process takes time. Sure, there are places that offer ways to rebuild credit fast, and some are legitimate, some are not.
Before you take any of the advice seen on any site, you need to really consider the short and long term affects of any suggestion you are considering.
- Request a free copy of your credit report: This is easy, simple, and free. Anyone can and should do it. If there are legitimate errors on your report, there will be instructions from each agency on how to get them removed. They will not remove something that is not an error, and it is shady to report something as an error that you know to be legitimate, in hopes of even temporarily improving your score.
- Pay or make arrangements to settle any negative accounts. Sometimes they will negotiate a settlement with you, and you can pay it off and know that it’s taken care of. Then, you just have to give it time to fall off of your report. This is an option I rarely see on credit improvement sites.
- Take out a secured loan: This can be good for your credit, if handled properly. However, if you have a low score, you might not be eligible for this, thus that’s why you are looking for suggestions on how to fix credit reports. Most important tip: DO NOT take out a loan you can’t afford to repay. That will hurt your score, not help it. This is a good option for those with no credit. If you use it carefully and wisely, it can establish a solid, positive repayment history. Since many employers and insurance companies, etc. request your report for various reasons, it’s important to make sure you have a positive history. Paying cash is ideal, but you do need some sort of payment history on your report.
- Ask a friend: Some places suggest having someone you know that has good credit, add you onto their account. I do not recommend this. First, it puts that person at risk of you messing up their credit if you abuse the privilege, and it could ruin the relationship. Second, if your situation improves and theirs declines down the road, you could be at risk. You might even forget you are on this card, then one day find out it’s maxed out and in default, which will destroy the good score you’ve worked a long time to rebuild.
- Sign up for credit monitoring: This is another one I rarely see suggested, unless it’s part of an ad or promotion. I do this periodically to keep track of my score. What I learned early on, is that if I call to cancel during my free trial period, 99% of the time, they will offer to cut the listed fee by 50-75% if you agree to keep the service for a specified time period. If you are paying off debts or waiting for errors to be removed, this could be a good investment for you. They will usually notify you each time there is a key change to your credit report, and it can be the motivation you need to keep working at this project.
I commend anyone who is seeking legitimate knowledge on how to clean credit reports. It is definitely a step in the right direction towards a more secure financial future.
The economy is in bad shape, and so many people are out of work. Companies are being conservative in the number of positions they are filling, which means there are more job seekers than job positions. People still need to work to be able to support their families, so it’s important to be proactive in the preparation of your resume to give you the best chance at landing that evasive interview!
I have heard from lots of friends who are out of work, that they need help learning how to make a great resume. It’s not too hard if you use resume templates, but the key is to personalize it and make it your own. You want to stand out from the crowd. Below I have listed a few tips that I share with close friends, I thought some of you might benefit from them as well.
- Start with a good cover letter. It’s not necessarily a bad idea to use a template, or form letters, but you want to make sure you personalize it to each position you are sending it to. Mention the company name, the position, and why you think you are the ideal candidate for the job.
- Make sure your contact information is at the top of the page. It should be correct (no typos!) with address, phone number (that you answer), and email address (that you check).
- Be sure to include applicable certifications and skills in a bullet format near the top of the page. It draws attention to key words, if they use an automated search, the key words will leave a hit, and HR personnel who may not be knowledgeable about what a certification is, they are just looking to see if it’s there or not. They may only spend 10-30 seconds glancing at the first page of a resume looking for this, so make it stand out and easy to read!
- Know your objective. Tell them what type of job you are looking for, and what skills and experience you have that qualifies you for the position.
- Education: Make sure you list all of the education you have received
- Job History: Make sure you include what is relevant to your position. If you are 50 years old, applying to an accounting position, they don’t care that you worked a Joe Smith’s Warehouse as a sales clerk when you were 15. They want to see your accounting history. Focus on what relates to your position, include key words, highlights and awards received.
- Match key words from job posting to your experience, and make sure it’s easily located. Make sure the information you include is relevant to the position.
- Leave white space. You don’t need a page full of information. The resume is for keywords and getting your foot in the door. The interview is where you go into detail and discuss at length your history. Include enough to land the interview, but not too much that they resume reader gets bored or overwhelmed with information.
- 1-2 pages. One page is best, but for technical positions or positions with a lot of certifications and job requirements, often a second page is necessary. Avoid using a third page. Edit where you can to keep it at 2 pages.
- Proof read several times and get a second opinion from a friend or family member to make sure there are no errors!
- Set up a budget. List all of your income and expenses.
- Account for every dollar you spend over the first 2 years. Remember you are trying to establish a firm foundation, so during this time it’s important to spend on needs, not wants.
- Make sure your expenses DO NOT exceed your income. As part of your bankruptcy, most, if not all, of your unsecured debt should be erased, leaving you with only secured debt. Typically, they have you restructure those loans with the lenders, to make sure you can afford your payments. So, if your expenses are still too close to exceeding your income, you may need to eliminate some and go without non-essentials, such as cable.
- Set up a savings account. We’ve had our share of financial issues. What got us through them for quite a while was our savings account. From the time I started working at 16, I started saving a minimum of 10% of my paychecks. I continued on with that as an adult, and when we had job losses, we relied on that money for food, rent, and basic utilities. Save as much as possible until you have at least 6 months worth of your income in a liquid savings account. It will be hard, but if a time comes that you need it, you will be thankful it is there!
- Establish goals. Plan ahead for any major purchases and holidays, etc. If you know you will need a new set of tires in 6 months and they cost $600. Find a way to save $100 per month. It is so nice to be able to pay cash for things. Not to mention, if you can’t afford $100 a month now, how are you going to afford a $600 hit in 6 months.
- Try to avoid credit cards and other unsecured debt. The offers will probably start coming in right away. They know you can’t file again for a very long time, so they are eager to offer you credit. This will probably be shocking since before you filed, they never would have considered you. If you decide to get one for emergencies. Leave it for emergencies, and that is not Starbucks, etc. If anything, set up one bill (insurance, etc) that you can pay via credit card that you’d have to pay in full anyway. Let them put it on your card, and then pay the card company instead of the original billing company. You’re still paying the bill (make sure you pay in full to avoid interest, etc!), it will keep the card active and show you are using it and paying it on time (pay on time!), yet it won’t raise your debt to income ratio because you aren’t carrying a balance.
- Learn to check your credit report. You can get free copies once per year, from each of the three reporting agencies. I advise getting one every 4 months. In month one, get it from Experian. In month five, get it from Transunion. In month nine, get it from Equifax. Check for errors and make sure things discharged are reported that way. If you need to dispute something, do it right away. Getting reports periodically helps keep you informed of any inaccuracies and will keep you motivated to stay on the right financial path as you see your credit score improving over time.
I am participating in a blogger campaign by Bucks2Blog and was compensated. However, the views and opinions are my own.
When I hear people talking about bankruptcy, one of the common questions that arises is people wanting to know how to overcome bankruptcy. My short answer, is to just breathe and take things one day at a time. Honestly, if you are in a situation where bankruptcy is your best option (and sometimes it is), then after you file and go through the process of having your debts discharged (Chapter 7), then you have a clean slate to start fresh. Yes, you will have higher interest rates until some time passes and you are able to re-establish your credit, but this will likely happen sooner than you think.
For those in serious trouble, it can actually help their credit to file for bankruptcy. It stops the collections, erases the debt (depending on the chapter) and helps you get off to a fresh start. I personally know a couple who bought a car 6 months later, and home 18 months after theirs was discharged. Sure the rate was higher, so they had to lower the purchase price to be able to afford the payments, but without the bankruptcy, they would not have qualified for any loans. You can do a search for attorneys in your area, such as north carolina bankruptcy attorneys, for more specific legal advice that is applicable to your specific situation.
The hardest part of filing bankruptcy for most people is the embarrassment and fear of judgment by people they know. The truth is that most people won’t know unless you tell them. The only way they’d find out is if they happen to see the tiny snippet in your local paper, or if they are searching your public records. If they are doing those searches just to be nosy, you can’t permit that, but honestly, that says a lot about their own character in my opinion.
Financially, here are some steps that will help you get back on your feet:
I am participating in a blogger campaign by Bucks2Blog and was compensated. However, the views and opinions are my own.
My grandfather was in the military, I have many friends in the military, friends whose spouses are in the military, and I have been a military spouse. I have been through the trials of deployment, and understand how difficult it is when they are gone, as well as the adjustment period when they return.
Military divorces are on the rise, up 42% since 2001, and The Art Of Marriage is aimed at helping our servicemen and women to protect their families, just as they’ve been protecting our country. Below the break is an app that you can use to support our military service-people. You are welcome to help spread the word via Twitter (#marriageops) and/or Facebook. If we help spread the word and show our support, maybe we can help those who have risked their lives to protect us!
You are also welcome to donate $10 by texting OPS to 80888, which will help pay for military men and women to attend an event to learn how to protect the Art of Marriage.