fix credit scoreAs the struggle to make ends meet becomes more challenging for households around the US, everyone is looking for ways to cut back. From switching insurance providers to cutting back on entertainment expenses, every penny saved is a penny that can be contributed to other expenses. While there are plenty of methods you can use to save money, one that is often overlooked is improving your credit score.

Most would assume that you improve your credit score so that you can borrow money or qualify for certain services, but what is not clearly understood is that a good credit score equals instant savings. Here’s how:

Good Credit = Lower Interest Rates

Whether you’re applying for a credit card, car loan, home loan, or even a personal loan, your credit score and history will be taken into consideration when it comes to determining the level of risk you present to the service provider.

For example, two applicants apply for a $500 personal loan from a local bank. One applicant has a credit score of 600 while the other has a score of 750. While they might both be approved for the personal loan, the applicant with the lower score is a higher risk and might get approved with a 10% interest rate while the applicant with the higher score gets approved for a 3% interest rate. Essentially, the applicant with the lower score will pay $550 while the person with the better score will pay $515 for a $35 savings in cash.

This may not seem like a lot, however, this example was on a small personal loan. Imagine the savings on a mortgage or car loan?

Good Credit = Better Financing Offers

When companies are trying to attract the attention of consumers, they will advertise very competitive rates and financing options for their products. For example, furniture stores might advertise that you can finance through them with no down payment and no interest for the first year. While this will attract the attention of many consumers, only a select few will actually get a chance to take advantage of such an offer. Why? Well, because these offers are for consumers that present little risks to the vendor.

The person with the higher credit score will begin paying towards their principal balance right away, while the person with the lower credit score will be paying both interest and the principal balance each month. Over the course of a year (no interest for 12 months), this could add up to a reasonable amount savings.

Good Credit = Lower Insurance Premiums

According to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, many insurance companies review your credit score to determine premium costs. Information such as your payment history, outstanding debt, credit history length, new credit accounts, and the types of credit are all considered when determining the level of risk you present to a potential insurer. As such, a poor credit history would result in higher premiums.

Good Credit = Waived Deposits

When trying to apply for certain services your credit history is a huge factor. Whether it’s a cell phone service, cable subscription, or electrical services in your new home, if you pose a risk to the service providers, they’re going to require you to provide them with a deposit. The higher risk you are to them, the more they will require as a deposit before services can be turned on. However, when you have decent credit, you’re not much of a risk and can often have deposits lowered or waived altogether.

Improving Your Score = Savings

Now that you know some areas in which you might be shelling out a lot more cash, it’s time to make a plan of action. If you have a horrible credit history or low score, you should consider the following steps to getting on the right path.

·Review your credit report – Many people concern themselves with their credit score, but never really take the time to review their score. It is ideal to review your credit score on the annual basis. This allows you to ensure that information on your report is accurate, and also helps to minimize the potential for identity theft.

·  Pay Down Your Debt – If you have a significant amount of debt you’ll need to begin paying it down to try and clean up your history and improve your score. If you’re having difficulties in paying the amount owed, you may consider talking with the creditors to try and make up arrangements. Many times they are willing to work with you in getting the balance resolved.

·  Dispute Inaccuracies – If you have inaccuracies on your credit report, you should work to have them removed. This will often help to improve your credit score. If you’re not sure of how to dispute the accounts yourself, there is always the option to work with a credit repair company. However, when looking for a credit repair service, be sure that you do your due diligence and check out online reviews. You want to make sure that you’re entrusting your personal information to someone who will handle it with care.

By following the above advice you should start to see a significant change in your credit score over the course of a few months. Once the score improves, you can try reapplying for certain services. Whether you refinance a home or auto loan, switch car insurance or cell phone providers, or even splurge on a new furniture set, you’ll find that the savings you’ll receive is a lot greater. You can then use those savings to start an emergency fund, go on a much needed vacation, or to invest in your financial future.

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Shopping for a new home is always exciting. There are so many aspects to consider and requirements to be met. However, other than the size of the kitchen or the number of bedrooms, you should also pay attention to the building’s energy efficiency rating.

If you are not careful a poorly constructed or designed house can cost you thousands in utility bills and climate-control costs. Luckily, it is possible to have a beautiful home that is economically sustainable as well as environmentally friendly. Below are some energy and cost-saving features you should look out for when choosing your next home.

A well-constructed roof

The roof is vulnerable to damage from snow, ice, heavy rain and wind. It therefore needs to be sturdy enough to withstand extreme weather. You should conduct a thorough inspection of the roof prior to purchasing any house. Additionally, ensure that it is properly insulated in regions where winters are cold. Similarly, in warmer areas, make sure the roof has a reflective material under the tiles or shingles to help keep everything cool and lower your air-conditioning bills.

Window treatments

Window treatments can help significantly reduce energy costs. Drafty windows are sure to cost you money by making your air-conditioning or heating system work overtime, depending on the season. If you find curtains boring full height shutters make a great alternative. They are energy-efficient since they shut out the cold during chilly winter months and provide adequate ventilation when it is hot outside, maintaining optimal temperatures inside the property.

High-efficiency insulation

Effective insulation in the floors, walls and attic will keep your home cozy and comfortable regardless of the region or season and can help to cut back on energy costs. Before buying a new house, ask if the insulation has been upgraded to meet the minimum efficiency standards for your region. Some types of insulation are specifically designed for certain types of homes or areas, a fact you need to be aware of before viewing any properties.

Efficient bathrooms

Bathrooms account for a large percentage of a home’s indoor water consumption. These costs can add up fast when coupled with the expense of heating the water. In order to save your hard earned money, ensure that the property has new toilets that use less water per flush. Additionally, make sure the water heater has been adequately insulated and has the required energy-efficiency certification. The bathroom should also be fitted with low-flow showerheads and faucets to cut back on water usage.

One final tip: you should never buy a house without first conducting a thorough inspection. Look out for issues that could cause problems later, such as bad wiring, termite damage and roof leakage. In addition, be sure to check that the property has undergone a recent energy audit and has an acceptable home energy score. If in any doubt hire a professional to help with the inspection. Taking precautions such as this will ensure you are not saddled with a house that wastes energy and empties your wallet.

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Expat wealth is possible if you follow a plan

December 9, 2014 Personal Finance

The road to financial freedom is a bumpy one, and debt seems to creep up on us in the middle of the night. Opening a Qatar current account is likely to be the least of your worries when moving to the tiny peninsular Gulf state to live and work. That’s because it’s a fairly straightforward […]

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