Did you know you can increase your income without ever getting a pay raise or changing jobs? Did you also know that the first step to financial freedom is making wise choices with what you already have?
Financial management is crucial in making the most of your income. I have decided to make this a series and in this series my goal is to teach you how to raise your credit score, lower your monthly debts, and eliminate bad habits that create debt, thereby increasing your monthly income.
To show you that I know what I’m talking about when it comes to credit, Michael (my husband) and I both have great credit and the only major debt we owe is our mortgage.
What you see below is an actual image of my credit card debt as viewed on Credit Karma.
Credit Karma is a free website that can be used to check your credit score and see what is on your credit statement. It isn’t always completely accurate but it is close enough to be able to get a view of what needs to be changed on your credit profile.
It will not go against your credit score to use this website.
Utilizing it’s pages can help you overcome financial faux pas such as bad judgments that may have been posted against your credit, and help you figure out what you need to do to get out of debt and improve your credit score.
The best part is, it’s free.
It can be used as a tool for things like estimating extra monthly payments toward your debt and getting credit advice from related articles.
It’s very handy to be able to see how much your credit is affected each month by looking at what you’ve added to your credit card balances, paid toward your debts, or how you’ve used your credit in different positive or negative ways.
For instance, the last credit card we paid off, according to Credit Karma brought my score up by about 21 points. I try to remember to check it every month.
Not long after that Michael made a $1400 purchase which he had planned to pay off within 30 days. He thought if he used the card, and then paid it off, it would help improve my credit score even more.
It lowered my score by about 30 points even though the available credit on that particular card is high, and we owe no other debt such as this.
Anyone who has ever advised me about how to use credit wisely told me that as long as you don’t go over 30% of your available credit, it shouldn’t hurt your credit.
I have asked Michael to not make any more large purchases on my card for this reason and since he has his own card in his own name there’s no reason to use mine.
I continue to use my credit card a little bit each month for very small purchases which we then pay off each month.
I do this because it helps to build repore with the credit card companies to show a payment history and responsible use of the card, with the largest percentage of the available balance being unused.
My other credit card has an even higher available balance. I got it because after we paid off all of our other debts, I only had one open account showing on my credit.
One open account isn’t good enough to show responsible credit usage. Should I ever need a large amount of credit, I want to be able to show that I am credit worthy.
Creditors want to see at least two or more open accounts to show positive credit usage.
My second credit card is for emergencies only in the future, but for now, it has 0% interest for the first year so it will be used for my gas and other normal purchases each month.
This way I can use it for convenience and continue to build my credit at the same time. My goal is to have a score of 850. Only about 20% of Americans have that score, but it is attainable.
No Cash=No Purchase
I don’t use credit cards for purchasing anything that I don’t already have the money in the bank to cover and this is my advice for anyone else who is trying to get out of debt.
You can’t GET OUT OF DEBT if you are CREATING DEBT.
Create a cash only mentality. If you don’t have the money in the bank to cover the purchase, consider it out of your reach.
I am not even tempted to put a large purchase on my cards because anything worth having is also worth waiting on.
As you can see from the pic I previously shared, the balance on my daily credit card is only $24. The balance on my newest credit card is $0. Michael and I use credit as an emergency back-up plan, otherwise we act like it isn’t even there unless we are using it to build credit.
We know people who take vacations on credit. NOT SMART.
That isn’t freedom, it isn’t good financial management and it isn’t going to bless you in the long run. Instead, save the money for that next vacation.
If you can’t save it, and you’re already in debt; how do you expect to be able to get out of debt and pay that vacation off too?
If you usually pay your vacation off using your tax refund, like a lot of people do; why not wait until you get your tax refund and then go on vacation?
Wouldn’t that be better than paying interest for an entire year?
Great financial management begins with learning what credit should be used for.
The next image is a view of my payment history. I am sharing this to show you what helps to build your credit score.
Paying your payments on time, every single month, without fail, will help you to increase your score and provoke creditors to trust you with even more credit.
It takes self-control to not use available credit but because I am not the kind of person to lust after material possessions, it is quite easy for me.
I feel that my family and friends, the things I get to do in life, and the places I get to go are much more important than owning a lot of material possessions, so I don’t go into debt trying to get them.
I continue to drive a seven year old Lexus because it’s paid for. I own furniture that I bought with cash. The great thing is, now that I live that way, material possessions literally get handed to me for very little money and sometimes even free.
Now that I am not chasing those things, those things find me. I think of myself as a material possession magnet. Things are drawn to me but I don’t worry about whether or not they come. In due time, they always come.
I’m not one to throw scripture out at you because honestly I am not religious and don’t feel its necessary to get my point across. But because my goal is to help you break free from things that hold you back, I do want to let you in on one scripture that I keep in my head at all times from Galatians 6:8-10. It will help you and will be worth your time to see what it says.
I learned this scripture at about 16 years old in a bible study in a little country church in Fultondale, Al.
I was mostly there to hang out with my boyfriend to be honest and wasn’t necessarily trying to become a bible scholar. But when I heard this scripture it got my attention and when I learned this principle it gripped me on the inside. I realized the key to changing my entire life’s circumstances was in that principle.
The words that stand out the most to me in that verse is where it says, “In due time we will reap a harvest.” IN DUE TIME. I’ve had a harvest mentality since; forgotten it at moments and during hard times but always came back to it.
I very strongly believe that this entire planet was set up on a seed, time, and harvest system. Everything works this way. You plant a seed into the ground, after a period of time, you get a harvest.
Life also works on this same principle. You do unto others, you reap what you sow (you get a harvest).
The same principle works in the financial department as well. You pay off a bill, you find grace to pay another, then another, then another. Before you know it, you’re debt free!
Pay off your debts. It’s the right things to do. In due time, you will reap what you sow. Sow good financial management, you reap good financial stability.
Help someone else pay off their debts. In due time you may become a material possession magnet yourself. Try sowing; somewhere, anywhere, and test me on this.
Pay a bill because its the right thing to do and see if the next one or the next one is not easier to pay. Eventually doing the right thing gets easier.
Live the sowing life and see if it doesn’t get better. I’ve known men who literally went from homeless to wealthy off of this principle because they realized life isn’t supposed to be a struggle. It’s supposed to be a SEED.
If you are not thriving in some area of life, look to see what you sow on a daily basis. Do you sow bad money management? Bad money management will bring you heartache. Good management and planning will bring you blessing.
Life is now so much more peaceful living it based on the reaping and sowing principle.
Back to our unit- The main thing I want to show you about Credit Karma is their debt calculator. You can play around with this calculator to see how much extra you would need to pay toward a debt to pay it off within a certain time frame.
You can utilize this website to help you see which debts need eliminating first. The less debt you have going out, the more income you get to keep.
Yes, you read that right. Less debt= more money in your pocket which means more income. A pay raise!
Instead of worrying that you haven’t had a raise in ten years, learn how to manage your money so that you give yourself a raise.
Imagine if you didn’t have any debt at all. All of the money you would make above your normal living expenses would be yours to save, spend, or invest.
For now, let’s talk about what it means for you to pay extra toward your debts. The number one excuse I have heard for not doing this is, “I don’t have the extra money to pay toward my debts.”
We all buy things that we can live without.
If you spend money on things like entertainment, eating out, and junk food, you can’t say you don’t have any extra money.
What you really mean is, “I don’t want to sacrifice all of those things to pay my debts.” Remember, a good name is the best thing to choose.
Your credit is attached to your name.
Ruin your credit, you’ve ruined your good name. You can sacrifice those Friday night dinners, extra pairs of shoes, and the thirty dollars extra you spend on junk food at the grocery store and use that money toward your debts… if you are truly serious about getting out of debt.
If you want out of debt then you have to get serious about the lifestyle that you live.
The next thing I want to show you is the Loan Amortization Calculator. It is a great little tool that can be used to show how long it would take to pay off a loan. You can add extra payments and see how much you would save in interest over the life of the loan.
Interest saved is money earned when you have debt.
You can also use Credit Karma to keep up with the current mortgage rates as shown below. Rates have went up significantly since I bought my home in 2014. Interest rates were somewhere around mid to high 3’s at that time.
Hopefully all of these things will help to get you started on creating a great financial profile. Hit me up and let me know if I’m helping you. It gives me the motivation to write more. 🙂
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