5 Savvy Money Moves to Make This Year

A young couple sits in bed on a laptop discussing savvy money moves.

The following is a guest post from The Savvy Couple.

As much as we don’t like to admit it, money is a very important tool that can be used to better our lives.

So why don’t we take better care of managing it?

Luckily, there are some savvy money moves that you can make this year to improve your finances and feel more financial peace. This year can be a great one, and you can use your money to help make it happen.

We have narrowed down our top five money moves that you can make this year that will have a huge impact on your overall finance. The best part is they are not complicated and they won’t take a lot of time to implement. In fact, you can start to put them in place right after reading to the end of this article.

1. Create a Money Plan and Stick to it

It’s really important to create a plan, or budget, for your money. If you don’t, then you could find your money just escaping and not having a clue where it’s gone.

A lot of people think that a budget is strict, and something that you use for just your bills. But a good budget will be a plan for your money for the month and how it is going to be spent. Your budget should reflect the direction that you want your life to take.

It should enable you to spend more money on the things you love and cut wasteful spending on the things you don’t.

It doesn’t have to be super strict either—we advise “paying yourself first.” Meaning put your money where it’s most important first (investing, savings, fun money), and then using the rest of the money to pay your bills.

Think about what your goals are for your life and base your budget around that. You have a set amount of income, and you can decide where you want that money to go.

2. Cut Your Monthly Expenses

One step toward creating the money plan that you want can be cutting your monthly expenses. This doesn’t mean that you need to be drastic with the expenses that you are cutting out.

When it comes to creating your money plan, it’s important to look at what you are currently spending money on.

If you have never tracked your expenses before, you will likely be surprised to see where your money is going. We like to think that we have a good idea of what we are spending, but if you are not tracking your spending then you are most likely vastly underestimating your spending.

Go back through your spending and highlight any problem areas. The important thing here is to not beat yourself up for anything that you’ve spent.

When you have created the plan for your money, you may find that you have been spending on things that don’t fit in with that plan. These could be the ones that you choose to cut down on.

Cut down on your expenses slowly. Otherwise, you could find that it’s too much of a change and you want to go back to how you were spending before. Try picking one thing to cut down on, and do a bit of trial and error.

3. Stay Away from Debt

We’ve been talking about creating a money plan for your life, but there are some things that can throw your plan off track—debt being one of them.

Sometimes, debt is unavoidable. There are situations that we find ourselves in such as medical emergencies, car repairs, or any kind of emergency really!

The best thing to do is to prepare for these kinds of situations. We can’t fully plan, of course, but we can set aside some money to prepare. These are usually referred to as emergency funds. We recommend saving a $1,000 emergency fund as soon as possible, then slowing building that up to 3–6 months of living expenses after your debt is paid off.

Debt is so normalized in society, but debt doesn’t have to be! Making savvy money moves and trying to prepare for future emergencies will help tremendously in the long run.

4. Understand How Your Credit Score Works

Let’s be honest—a lot of us don’t pay much attention to our credit score. It’s one of those boring things that we don’t think about until we need it.

The last thing that you want to happen is to find that you need to take out credit but you can’t because of your credit score. Therefore, it’s a savvy money move to understand how your credit score works.

Credit scores are generally used by lenders when you want to take out a line of credit with them—for example, when you are getting a mortgage or car loan. If you have a high credit score then you will have access to better rates and terms for your loans.

Your credit score is largely determined by whether you pay your bills on time, as any missed payments will go against you. Your score is also determined by how much credit you have used compared to the amount that you have been lent.

It’s essential that you check your credit report as there can be errors on there which you can rectify—the sooner the better. The longer you wait to repair your credit, the harder it can become.

You can get your Experian VantageScore 3.0 for free from Credit.com when you sign up for the free Credit Report Card. And if you want more details on your credit score, sign up for ExtraCredit. You’ll get 28 FICO® scores and your credit reports from all three major credit bureaus.

Try ExtraCredit Today

5. Start an Online Side Hustle

We are huge fans of starting side hustles because at the end of the day you can only cut your expenses so much. But your income has unlimited potential.

Side hustles are great because you can create an income stream for your goals, or even use it to leave your day job.

The benefit of starting an online side hustle is that there are so many possibilities, you pretty much only need to have access to the internet.

It’s worth brainstorming some side hustle ideas that you have an interest in doing. It’s also worth thinking about ideas that will be free or have a very low cost to start up. The last thing that you want to do is spend a lot of money on something that’s not going to take off.

You can determine how much time and effort you want to put into your side hustle—it doesn’t have to be a brand-new business, but can be getting an extra job or something small.

Some of our favorite side hustle ideas include:

  • Starting a blog
  • Proofreading
  • Facebook advertising for businesses
  • Teaching English online
  • Freelance writing

Savvy Money Moves throughout the Year

If you want to make some good money moves this year, this is a good place to start. These are some simple things that anyone can do to improve their finances greatly.

What are your best savvy money moves? Let us know in the comments!


Kelan and Brittany Kline are the creators and co-founders of The Savvy Couple. They write about personal finance, budgeting, making money online, entrepreneurship, and more.

The post 5 Savvy Money Moves to Make This Year appeared first on Credit.com.

Source: credit.com

Why It’s Harder to Get Credit When You’re Self-Employed

Around 6.1% of employed Americans worked for themselves in 2019, yet the ranks of the self-employed might increase among certain professions more than others. By 2026, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that self-employment will rise by nearly 8%. 

Some self-employed professionals experience high pay in addition to increased flexibility. Dentists, for example, are commonly self-employed, yet they earned a median annual wage of $159,200 in 2019. Conversely, appraisers and assessors of real estate, another career where self-employment is common, earned a median annual wage of $57,010 in 2019.

Despite high pay and job security in some industries, there’s one area where self-employed workers can struggle — qualifying for credit. When you work for yourself, you might have to jump through additional hoops and provide a longer work history to get approved for a mortgage, take out a car loan, or qualify for another line of credit you need.

Why Being Self-Employed Matters to Creditors

Here’s the good news: Being self-employed doesn’t directly affect your credit score. Some lenders, however, might be leery about extending credit to self-employed applicants, particularly if you’ve been self-employed for a short time. 

When applying for a mortgage or another type of loan, lenders consider the following criteria:

  • Your income
  • Debt-to-income ratio
  • Credit score
  • Assets
  • Employment status

Generally speaking, lenders will confirm your income by looking at pay stubs and tax returns you submit. They can check your credit score with the credit bureaus by placing a hard inquiry on your credit report, and can confirm your debt-to-income ratio by comparing your income to the debt you currently owe. Lenders can also check to see what assets you have, either by receiving copies of your bank statements or other proof of assets. 

The final factor — your employment status — can be more difficult for lenders to gauge if you’re self-employed, and managing multiple clients or jobs. After all, bringing in unpredictable streams of income from multiple sources is considerably different than earning a single paycheck from one employer who pays you a salary or a set hourly rate. If your income fluctuates or your self-employment income is seasonal, this might be considered less stable and slightly risky for lenders.

That said, being honest about your employment and other information when you apply for a loan will work out better for you overall. Most lenders will ask the status of your employment in your loan application; however, your self-employed status could already be listed with the credit bureaus. Either way, being dishonest on a credit application is a surefire way to make sure you’re denied.

Extra Steps to Get Approved for Self-Employed Workers

When you apply for a mortgage and you’re self-employed, you typically have to provide more proof of a reliable income source than the average person. Lenders are looking for proof of income stability, the location and nature of your work, the strength of your business, and the long-term viability of your business. 

To prove your self-employed status won’t hurt your ability to repay your loan, you’ll have to supply the following additional information: 

  • Two years of personal tax returns
  • Two years of business tax returns
  • Documentation of your self-employed status, including a client list if asked
  • Documentation of your business status, including business insurance or a business license

Applying for another line of credit, like a credit card or a car loan, is considerably less intensive than applying for a mortgage — this is true whether you’re self-employed or not. 

Most other types of credit require you to fill out a loan application that includes your personal information, your Social Security number, information on other debt you have like a housing payment, and details on your employment status. If your credit score and income is high enough, you might get approved for other types of credit without jumping through any additional hoops.

10 Ways the Self-Employed Can Get Credit

If you work for yourself and want to make sure you qualify for the credit you need, there are plenty of steps you can take to set yourself up for success. Consider making the following moves right away.

1. Know Where Your Credit Stands

You can’t work on your credit if you don’t even know where you stand. To start the process, you should absolutely check your credit score to see whether it needs work. Fortunately, there are a few ways to check your FICO credit score online and for free

2. Apply With a Cosigner

If your credit score or income are insufficient to qualify for credit on your own, you can also apply for a loan with a cosigner. With a cosigner, you get the benefit of relying on their strong credit score and positive credit history to boost your chances of approval. If you choose this option, however, keep in mind that your cosigner is jointly responsible for repaying the loan, if you default. 

3. Go Straight to Your Local Bank or Credit Union

If you have a long-standing relationship with a credit union or a local bank, it already has a general understanding of how you manage money. With this trust established, it might be willing to extend you a line of credit when other lenders won’t. 

This is especially true if you’ve had a deposit account relationship with the institution for several years at minimum. Either way, it’s always a good idea to check with your existing bank or credit union when applying for a mortgage, a car loan, or another line of credit. 

4. Lower Your Debt-to-Income Ratio

Debt-to-income (DTI) ratio is an important factor lenders consider when you apply for a mortgage or another type of loan. This factor represents the amount of debt you have compared to your income, and it’s represented as a percentage.

If you have a gross income of $6,000 per month and you have fixed expenses of $3,000 per month, for example, then your DTI ratio is 50%.

A DTI ratio that’s too high might make it difficult to qualify for a mortgage or another line of credit when you’re self-employed. For mortgage qualifications, most lenders prefer to loan money to consumers with a DTI ratio of 43% or lower. 

5. Check Your Credit Report for Errors

To keep your credit in the best shape possible, check your credit reports, regularly. You can request your credit reports from all three credit bureaus once every 12 months, for free, at AnnualCreditReport.com

If you find errors on your credit report, take steps to dispute them right away. Correcting errors on your report can give your score the noticeable boost it needs. 

6. Wait Until You’ve Built Self-Employed Income

You typically need two years of tax returns as a self-employed person to qualify for a mortgage, and you might not be able to qualify at all until you reach this threshold. For other types of credit, it can definitely help to wait until you’ve earned self-employment income for at least six months before you apply. 

7. Separate Business and Personal Funds

Keeping personal and business funds separate is helpful when filing your taxes, but it can also help you lessen your liability for certain debt. 

For example, let’s say that you have a large amount of personal debt. If your business is structured as a corporation or LLC and you need a business loan, separating your business funds from your personal funds might make your loan application look more favorable to lenders.

As a separate issue, start building your business credit score, which is separate from your personal credit score, early on. Setting up business bank accounts and signing up for a business credit card can help you manage both buckets of your money, separately. 

8. Grow Your Savings Fund

Having more liquid assets is a good sign from a lender’s perspective, so strive to build up your savings account and your investments. For example, open a high-yield savings account and save three to six months of expenses as an emergency fund. 

You can also open a brokerage account and start investing on a regular basis. Either strategy will help you build up your assets, which shows lenders you have a better chance of repaying your loan despite an irregular income. 

9. Provide a Larger Down Payment

Some lenders have tightened up mortgage qualification requirements, and some are even requiring a 20% down payment for home loans. You’ll also have a better chance to secure an auto loan with the best rates and terms with more money down, especially for new cars that depreciate rapidly.

Aim for 20% down on a home or a car that you’re buying. As a bonus, having a 20% down payment for your home purchase helps you avoid paying private mortgage insurance.

10. Get a Secured Loan or Credit Card

Don’t forget the steps you can take to build credit now, if your credit profile is thin or you’ve made mistakes in the past. One way to do this is applying for a secured credit card or a secured loan, both of which require collateral for you to get started.

The point of a secured credit card or loan is getting the chance to build your credit score and prove your creditworthiness as a self-employed worker, when you can’t get approved for unsecured credit. After making sufficient on-time payments toward the secured card or loan, your credit score will increase, you can upgrade to an unsecured alternative and get your deposit or collateral back.

The Bottom Line

If you’re self-employed and worried that your work status will hurt your chances at qualifying for credit, you shouldn’t be. Instead, focus your time and energy on creating a reliable self-employment income stream and building your credit score.

Once your business is established and you’ve been self-employed for several years, your work status won’t matter as heavily. Keep your income high, your DTI low, and a positive credit record, you’ll have a better chance of getting approved for credit. 

The post Why It’s Harder to Get Credit When You’re Self-Employed appeared first on Good Financial Cents®.

Source: goodfinancialcents.com

I Was Denied an Auto Loan. Now What?

Bright sunshine shines in the windshield of a car as a person with a backwards baseball cap drives with one hand on the steering wheel.

You’re in the market for a new car but you’ve been denied an auto loan. Now what? Here’s what you need to know about why you may have been denied and what to do to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

Why Do I Keep Getting Denied for Auto Loans?

Unfortunately, there are many reasons a bank might reject your application for a car loan. If your loan application has recently been denied or you keep getting denied, it might be due to one of these common reasons:

  • Application errors. Sometimes, the application could be rejected because of an error you made when filling it out. A missed section, some incorrect information, a missing form or another mistake can mean your loan is ultimately denied.
  • Bad credit. Bad credit is a common reason for auto loan denial. A score below 670 is usually considered a bad credit score, and this damages lenders’ trust in your ability to pay off a loan.
  • Too much debt. A high debt-to-income ratio can make lenders leery. If you have a number of loans or credit cards with large amounts of debt, this raises your DTI and may lower your chance of getting approved for future loans, car loans included.
  • No credit. Lenders look for proof of consistency in paying off past loans when reviewing your application. If you have no credit history, lenders may feel they don’t have enough information about your ability to pay off a future loan.

What Can I Do If My Loan Application Is Denied?

You have a few options when you’ve been denied an auto loan, depending on the reason you were rejected.

Application Error

If you were rejected because of an application error on your part, you should contact the bank as soon as you can. Hopefully, the mix-up can be resolved and your request will be approved. If not, the lender will tell you when you can reapply.

Poor Credit

If you were rejected because of poor credit, check your credit report so you can determine what is negatively impacting your score. Depending on what your report says, look into ways to improve your credit so you can be approved next time. Pay your bills on time, and use your credit cards to make and then repay smaller purchases. Keep in mind that building or rebuilding your credit can take a while. Don’t be disappointed if it takes months or even a year or two to really get your score where you want it.

If you need a loan sooner, consider adding a cosigner to your application that can be your backup if you fail to pay the loan. Lenders feel more comfortable with this method, and it’s a good way to prove dependability.

Debt

If you were rejected because you already have too much debt, it’s important to reduce that amount in steady increments. Set a budget and stick to it, tackling the largest debts first. Avoid adding any debt to what you already have. Examine your credit card usage for any unnecessary expenses and cut back on those in the future.

No Credit

If you don’t have a credit history, now’s the time to start. There are a lot of ways to start building your credit: you might be able to become an authorized user on someone else’s credit card or find a co-signer for your loan, for example. You also might want to apply for a secured credit card or credit card for no credit.

Find the right credit card for your needs. Learn more.

Does Getting Denied a Loan Hurt My Credit?

Getting denied for an auto loan doesn’t in itself hurt your credit score. The lender didn’t extend anything, so there’s nothing that can hurt your score. However, multiple denied applications at once could hurt your score.

A bank conducts a “hard inquiry” when you apply for a loan. This can cause a drop in your credit score slightly—about five to ten points—whether you’re accepted or not. If you apply for too many loans, numerous hard inquiries on your credit can cause a larger drop.

What Are My Other Options?

If you don’t have time to build or rebuild your credit, can’t get a co-signer, and need a car fast, there are two options to be considered as a last resort.

“Buy Here Pay Here” Dealers

Stop by your neighborhood “Buy Here Pay Here” (BHPH) auto dealer, and one way or another, it will probably get you into a car. It won’t be a new car, and it will probably have lots of miles on it, but at least you’ll get a car you desperately need to get you to and fro.

The BHPH dealer won’t want to talk to you about interest rates. Your local BHPH will focus on your expected monthly payment and ask for a really big down payment. They mostly care about whether or not you have a current, steady income. Based on that, they’ll determine how much they are willing to lend and which car options are available to you. It’s not a great way to buy a car, but for millions of Americans, it is the only way they can make this significant a purchase.

Unfortunately, purchasing a car at a BHPH dealer isn’t a credit boost at all. They usually don’t report anything positive to credit reporting agencies, but they will report negative actions like a missed payment or repossession. Always ask about their late payment policies before making a decision.

Alternative Credit Bureaus

If your credit score is low or your credit history is light based on traditional credit trade lines (credit cards and loans), but you have a solid history of paying your everyday bills, you may be able to take advantage of alternative credit scoring methods. If you can prove your creditworthiness by having your everyday bills verified, some companies will work with alternative credit scoring methods to offer credit. Alternative credit generally doesn’t carry the same weight as traditional credit lines, so interest rates likely will not be as competitive.

At this point, you can go to any dealer and buy the car you really want instead of being limited to the inventory on a BHPH lot. If you can afford the payments, you can buy a new car that’s under warranty and has no mileage on the odometer. If you can continue to work on your credit and improve your credit score, refinancing may even be available down the road.

However, many lenders still do not use alternative credit and don’t view it as proof of reliability. Most of these alternative credit companies also don’t report your findings to the major credit bureaus. So, while these alternative creditors may be a short-term option, building credit through traditional methods should be a priority.

Why Would I Get Rejected for a Car Refinance?

If you were denied for refinancing, it’s probably because of a poor credit score or a high DTI. Usually, these are the same as the reasons you might be denied an auto loan. Your score may have been satisfactory when you purchased the vehicle but taken a few hits since its purchase.

How to Get Approved Next Time

Before you reapply for an auto loan, make sure all your information is in order. Gather your records and make sure everything is ironed out and correct before you go to a lender. For a better shot at loan approval, your credit score should be in a comfortable range, and you shouldn’t have any large outstanding debts. Always check your credit score before you apply. If it’s not high enough for loan approval, work to improve your credit first. Then, make sure you’ve determined what type of payments and interest you can afford.

If you do get denied, don’t worry! By making sure you meet all of the income, credit and debt requirements for an auto loan, you can increase your chance of getting accepted the next time you apply.

The post I Was Denied an Auto Loan. Now What? appeared first on Credit.com.

Source: credit.com