Tag: Financial Education

 

Recommended Budget Category Percentages

By Chonce Maddox

We all know how beneficial a budget can be. 

For starters: A budget outlines your spending plan so you know exactly how much money goes toward each expense. Budgets are also extremely helpful when trying to decide how much you have available to save and how much money you can put toward paying off your debt. 

At the same time, there are many different ways to budget. One of the most common budgeting strategies I recommend is to set up budget category percentages. For example, a common rule of thumb is that housing costs shouldn’t exceed 30% of your income. What about the rest of your budget categories? Luckily, they can be broken down by percentages as well. 

Read on to learn more about creating percentage categories for your budget. 

Start with the Basics

If you’re new to budgeting, using the 50/30/20 rule is a great starting point. 

With the 50/30/20 budget, you allocate 50% of your income toward living expenses and necessities, 30% toward wants, and 20% toward debt and savings. 

Here’s how this would look. Say you bring home $3,000 each month. Under the 50/30/20 budgeting method, you’d put $1,500 toward living expenses and necessities, $900 to wants and variable expenses, and $600 toward debt and savings. 

While this method is super easy to use, it may not fit in with your particular goals. For example, you may want more wiggle room for your savings account

Alternatives to 50/30/20 budget

If you want to venture beyond the 50/30/20 budgeting method, you can get more specific and add additional percentages while breaking up your spending into more categories. 

Think about your goals and lifestyle. What do you value spending money on? How much are your core necessities? Do you have debt? What are your savings goals?

Start tracking your spending to see what your current budget categories are. It can be eye-opening to see the percentage of your income that you spend on things like dining out, transportation, and even bills and insurance. 

So, think about setting your own budget percentages based on your preferred spending patterns and goals. With that in mind, here are our recommended budget category percentages that can help you get ahead. 

Basic Recommended Budget Category Percentages

 

Basic Recommended Budget Category Percentages

 

Here’s how this budget would break down if you bring home $3,000 each month:

🏠Housing (mortgage and rent costs) = $750

💡Utilities = $150

🍔Food = $300

🚌Transportation = $150

☂️Insurance (includes medical, auto, renter’s etc.) = $450

💅Personal (+ household expenses) = $150

🍿Entertainment/Recreation =$300

🙏Charitable Giving = $300

💰Savings/Debt = $450

Keep in mind that these are pretty standard budget percentages if you want to have enough money to afford your needs and wants. As you can see from the example above, you still can’t afford to splurge on housing costs, but you’ll have plenty of money for groceries, dining out, giving, savings, and debt payments. 

Once you have your ideal budget in place, you can start allocating money to different expenses when you get paid

Aggressive Recommended Budget Category Percentages

While the basic recommended budget category percentages may work well, you may want to take it up a notch if you have some aggressive savings goals and are willing to live frugally. 

If you are looking to pay off debt quickly or save to meet an important goal, here are some budget category percentages you can try.

 

Aggressive Recommended Budget Category Percentages

 

Here’s how this budget would break down if you bring home $3,000 each month:

🏠Housing = $600

For this amount, you’d likely have a roommate or rent a smaller apartment to keep housing costs low. If you own a home, you may also rent out a few rooms to offset your mortgage costs. 

💡Utilities = $150

If you have roommates, you can split the cost of utilities to save money. Perhaps you can use Chime’s Pay Friends to send fee-free mobile payments if you’re splitting bills. You can also limit your use of electricity during the day by turning off lights as well as reducing heating and cooling costs by using a programmable thermostat.

🍔Food =  $210

Although the amount is quite low, this may be enough for one or two people. If you cook most meals at home, take advantage of sales, and buy ingredients and whole foods instead of packaged food, you can make this budget work. 

🚌 Transportation = $90

While this amount is also low, perhaps you work close to home and can keep your fuel costs down. Or, maybe you can use alternative transportation like walking or cycling. 

☂️ Insurance = $300

For this amount, you likely shop around for the best insurance rates and drive an older car that doesn’t cost much to insure. You also receive benefits from your job which helps keep this category low.

💅 Personal (+ household expenses) = $150

This amount is just enough to buy basic needs and supplies for the house as well as some affordable personal care once or twice a month. 

🍿 Entertainment/Recreation = $150

Your dollars can be stretched with free local activities and experiences along with using coupons and deal sites to dine out. 

🙏Charitable Giving = $150-$300

Although you’re determined to save and/or pay off more debt, this budget still allows for you give back to others in need. 

💰Savings/Debt = $1,200

Accelerated debt payments and savings contributions will allow you to hit your financial goals faster, even if you don’t have a large income. 

The Power of Budgeting

It’s quite possible to save more than $14,000 annually on a $40,000 salary with the aggressive recommended budget percentages above. 

Yet, regardless of whether you prefer an aggressive, basic or other type of budget, breaking up your spending categories by percentages is powerful. It shows you exactly where your money is going and how much of your income is used for certain expenses.  

Feel free to use this new perspective and play around with your own budget category percentages. This will help you determine where you spend and how much you can save. Are you ready to give it a try?

 

What Are Online Prepaid Debit Cards? A Look At The Key Differences Between Prepaid Card vs. Debit Card vs. Credit Card

By Chonce Maddox

What are the key differences between a debit card, a credit card, and a prepaid card? With so many financial terms floating around it can be difficult to figure it all out. Some people use personal finance terms interchangeably like ‘checking account’ and ‘bank account’ or ‘interest rate’ and ‘APR’. In these instances, this is understandable.

Yet, when it comes to prepaid, debit and credit cards, it’s important to note that these cards are not the same thing. While they all may show a network logo like Visa, MasterCard, American Express, or Discover, these three types of cards are actually quite different.

With that said, these cards do have one thing in common: if you’re not using cash, you’re likely using one of them to make your purchases.

Read on to learn more about the differences between prepaid cards, bank issued debit cards and credit cards.

Debit Card

A debit card is one of the most used bank cards around. Debit cards have numerous features that make them convenient. They also have downsides like:

  • Limited security
  • ATM use and bank fees
  • Potential overdraft fees

Scroll down for the specifics. We picked out everything you need to know to decide if a debit card a good choice.

Prepaid Card

Prepaid cards are another fairly common money card option. These are often used as gifts and rewards, but people with limited access to standard banking options as well as those with limited budgets often use them in lieu of a checking account. Just like credit cards and debit cards, prepaid cards have their own pros and cons. With a prepaid card, you load money onto the card and then use it to make purchases or withdraw money from an ATM. You can put money onto your card with any of these options:

  • Arrange for a paycheck to be directly deposited onto the prepaid card.
  • Add funds at retailers or financial institutions like a Walmart or currency exchange location
  • Use a reload card which works just like a gift card (it contains a code that becomes linked to the amount of money you paid the cashier. You can then load the card over the phone using your code)
  • Transfer funds from an existing bank account

Note: Be mindful that some loading methods may come with a small fee.

There are different types of prepaid cards to choose from: free prepaid debit cards, reloadable prepaid cards with no fees, and no limit prepaid debit cards, to name a few. Make sure you understand the terms and limits of this type of card before you use one.

Credit Card

A credit card is separate from your bank account and allows you to make purchases by borrowing from a credit limit, which is based on your credit score and other factors. Credit cards offer increased security, robust features, longer term payment options but have downsides too. You’ll want to read our details below to decide if a credit card is an option. It’s also important to note that you’ll receive a certain limit when approved for a card. You can then spend up to this amount regularly so long as you make your minimum payments on time.

For example, if you get a credit card with a $1,000 limit, this means you can spend up to $1,000 on the card. While you can carry your remaining balance over to the next month, you will be charged interest on the balance until you pay it off. This is why it’s recommended to purchase only what you can afford to pay for within a short period of time – preferably during that same billing period.

A good rule of thumb is to only borrow up to 30% of your credit limit and try to pay the bill off in full each month. So, instead of spending your entire $1,000 credit, you may want to spend $300 or less and pay the bill off in full at the end of the monthly billing cycle. According to Experian, this is called credit card utilization and it’s a common factor when determining your credit score.

Credit cards can help you build your credit and demonstrate that you are a trustworthy borrower. In fact, credit card companies report your borrowing and payment history to the three major credit bureaus and this helps shape your credit score.

One final note about credit cards: when you decide to apply for one, make sure you understand all the fees and terms.

Prepaid Card vs. Debit Card vs. Credit Card

As you can see, there are quite a few key differences between the three cards above, so let’s discuss them in more detail.

Benefits of the prepaid card

A prepaid card is different from a debit card based on the fact that you don’t need a bank account to have a prepaid card. And, when you get a prepaid card you won’t be subject to any credit checks or inquiries into your banking history because you are using loading your cash onto the card. Another perk: you may be able to deposit your paycheck right onto your prepaid card.

Are prepaid cards safe to use? 

While prepaid cards can look and feel like debit cards, they aren’t as safe as debit cards. Why? Since debit cards are connected to your checking account, you can easily monitor your account and spending online for free. Your money will also generally be protected if your debit card gets lost, stolen, or wrongfully charged.

However, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPU) has put new rules in place to make prepaid cards safer for consumers. These new rules are set to go into effect on April 1, 2019.

Credit cards vs prepaid cards 

Credit cards are different from both prepaid and debit cards due to the fact that when you use a credit card you are borrowing money while hopefully building a solid credit history. Better yet, many credit cards offer rewards in the form of points or cash back that can be redeemed for statement credits, travel, or merchandise. Some people like to use credit cards to purchase groceries, gas, and other everyday needs in order to rack up reward points.

As long as you’re not overspending and can pay your bill off in full each month, there’s nothing wrong with using this strategy. However, if you struggle with controlling your spending, you may want to steer clear of using credit cards for your daily purchases.

Instead of credit cards, consumers often choose debit cards for everyday spending. Why? Debit is safer than cash, you can monitor your activity online with mobile banking, and you can choose a bank that doesn’t have fees.

Debit cards vs prepaid cards

At first glance, prepaid cards might just like debit cards. And while they do have their similarities, don’t be fooled: prepaid cards and debit cards are not the same.

Debit cards are connected to your bank account, and prepaid cards only allow you to spend what you’ve loaded onto them.

Click here to learn the main differences between a debit card and a prepaid card

What is the best card for you?

If you’re not going to be using cash 100% of the time, odds are you’ll need one of these three cards.

Some people start with a prepaid card, but most choose a debit card that’s connected to a checking account for easy access to their money. Still, others prefer a credit card, especially if it offers perks and rewards.

You can choose to use more than one card! Just find the best solution for you.

We’ll leave you with this thought: you may want to consider using two or all three of these cards for different types of spending. The bottom line: the best option is the card that works best for your spending and lifestyle habits.

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Banks That Offer Early Direct Deposit

By Laura Klein

Early direct deposit proves to be very beneficial and convenient for a lot of employees. Who doesn’t want their money to be available as soon as their employer releases their pay? Many banks support this system since people are now choosing to have their pay directly deposited to their accounts, rather than waiting for their checks to come in. This provides a healthy competition among banks, and it is up to them to show how they compare with one another. There are even some banks that offer early direct deposit so that account holders can access their funds almost as soon as they are deposited.

Different banking options for different people

Because of the direct deposit option, consumers are wise to open bank accounts. Without an account, people would not be able to get their pay early. Opening an account is the first requirement before enjoying this efficient payroll system. Banks, in return, take this as an opportunity to provide direct deposit features.

While early direct deposit is very appealing, there are numerous banks to choose from that provide this offer. Examples of these banks that have a direct deposit feature are Citibank, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, and Chase. These are well-known names and have competitive offers but what they don’t have in common, though, are their own monthly banking fees such as maintenance fees, overdraft fees, minimum balance fees, and foreign transaction fees. These are the things that a consumer needs to consider before opening an account. That being said, it is best for consumers to determine the type of bank account that is suitable for them.

Online Banking Offers Many Perks

If consumers don’t like the idea of too many fees and don’t have the time to go to an actual bank, they could try opening an online banking account such as Chime. With Chime, consumers:

  1. Don’t have to worry about monthly fees and hidden charges
  2. Can enjoy early direct deposit and;
  3. Save time by not having to visit a bank location to deposit their paychecks.

 Early Direct Deposit

Banks are becoming competitive because of the need to respond to consumers’ needs. Early direct deposit provides consumers an easy way to get their pay early without waiting for paychecks to come in the mail. While a lot of banks offer an early direct deposit feature, it all boils down to their banking fees. Surely, some people do have the capacity to pay for these fees, but for those who can’t, there are alternatives to traditional banks like Chime.

Chime offers banking with no hidden fees 

No monthly fees, no personal appearance to a bank. Chime is an online banking option that is very convenient and accessible for consumers. Not to mention that people can save money when they have a Chime account. Without the monthly fees, the money they get from their early direct deposit is in their hands, which means more money can be saved for other purposes.

Think Before you Choose an Account

With all of the bank competition, a person should first think carefully about a bank’s services before getting an account. The consumer needs to think about taking care of their finances in the long run, and part of this is determining the best option for keeping their money safe and secure.

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Is There A Totally Free Checking Account?

By Kim Ogletree

Nowadays a lot of people, especially millennials, prefer to use online banking over traditional banking to manage their finances. Online banking makes it easy for anyone to handle the most common banking transactions using a laptop or internet-ready mobile device.



What is an online checking account?

Having an online checking account enables a person to access their money anytime, anywhere using a computer or a smartphone as long as these are connected to the internet. It is also called a transactional account since it can be used to pay your bills and make most of your financial transactions. Moreover, when compared to online savings accounts that only allow limited transactions per month, checking accounts don’t have limits regarding the number of transactions you can complete every month.  And this means that you can use your online checking account for your everyday spending, bills, and other online debit transactions.

Benefits of an Online Checking Account

  • It can easily manage your finances: Imagine having the ability to deposit checks using only your phone, view your current balance instantly, and pay your bills quickly. There isn’t a good reason not to try opening an online checking account nowadays. Moreover, online accounts never close, meaning you can access your account anytime where you can check your balance, transfer funds, and pay bills.
  • It brings peace of mind: An online checking account also provides some automated tools and features. If you are having a problem remembering to make regular payments, you can use the online bill pay feature where it makes sure all of your bills get paid on time. You can also use the automatic transfer tool, so you don’t have to stress yourself about a payment slipping your mind or showing up late. Moreover, the automatic transfer also lets you transfer from your online checking account to an online savings account if you are planning to save for your future.
  • It can save you time: In traditional banking, you have to wait in line when making a simple withdrawal or deposit transaction. But with an online checking account, you can do whatever you want with your money instantly without having to wait in line for hours.
  • It comes with better rewards: Online transactions usually come with rewards. For example, you may be able to get a cashback or a special discount when you use your online checking account to make purchases online. Furthermore, having an online checking account with a rewards feature is an excellent alternative to credit cards that offers reward points. After all, using a credit card is risky since the possibility of overspending is high.

Is opening an online checking account free?

It can be. There are several companies that offer free online checking accounts; meaning, they do not require an opening deposit and don’t charge monthly maintenance fees.  For example, if you open a Chime online checking account, they won’t charge you anything. Having an online checking account comes with no monthly fee and no minimum balance requirement. There are also no hidden fees which may pop up with other accounts on the market.

How to open a free online checking account

When opening an online checking account, there’s no need to look for a physical bank to apply. All you need is to sign up and create an account on their website. Make sure to provide all the essential pieces of information they require of you such as your first and last legal name, your social security number, and email address. Those are needed to verify your identity to help them to minimize the risk of money laundering and fraud. Once you are confirmed eligible, you have to download their mobile banking app so you can access all of their offered services. To transfer your hard-earned money to this online checking account, you can either make direct deposits or make a money transfer using your other bank accounts.

Final Word

Opening an online checking account is a great option for managing your daily expenses, making bill payments, and engaging in other online debit transactions when compared to traditional banks. Having an online checking account nowadays can truly make your everyday life easier.

 

 

3 Ways to Get Out of Student Loan Default

By Kat Tetrina

If you’ve missed student loan payments and are in default, you know how horrible it is. Your credit score may be wrecked. Your loan servicer can garnish your wages. You may even be dealing with collection agencies. 

There’s no escaping the negative ramifications for not paying back your student loans – even if you switch banks. 

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed and defeated if you’re in default. Yet, you’re not alone. Student loan debt has become a national epidemic. According to the U.S. Department of Education, over 530,000 borrowers entered into default between October 2014 and September 2017. 

If you’re in student loan default, here’s what you need to know to get back on track and improve your finances.  

What is student loan default?

Student loan default is an official loan status that occurs when you miss a certain amount of payments. According to Federal Student Aid, your federal loans are in default once you miss your scheduled loan payments for 270 days or more. With private student loans, you’re in default as soon as you miss three months’ worth of payments. 

Entering into default is a serious problem. Take a look at what can happen

  • Lenders can garnish your wages, making it difficult to make ends meet.
  • The default will stay on your credit report for up to seven years. And, with a damaged credit report, you may have trouble getting approved for a car loan or a mortgage.
  • Late fees and interest will accrue, causing your loan balance to balloon.
  • Your professional license could be suspended, hurting your chances of finding work.

Three ways to end student loan default

If you have federal or private student loans in default, you have three options: 

1. Student loan rehabilitation

If you have federal student loans, one option to consider is student loan rehabilitation. With this approach, you work with your loan servicer to come up with a written agreement where you pledge to make nine voluntary and affordable monthly payments during a period of 10 consecutive months. 

Loan rehabilitation has several benefits. After completing the nine payments:

  • Your loans will no longer be in default.
  • The loan servicer will remove the record of default from your credit report.
  • Your loan holder will no longer garnish your wages or seize your tax refund. 
  • You’ll regain eligibility for benefits like loan deferment or forbearance and access to income-driven repayment plans.
  • You’ll be able to qualify for additional federal student aid.

Your payment is determined by your loan servicer, but it will be equal to 15 percent of your discretionary annual income, divided by 12. Your discretionary income is the amount of your adjusted gross income that exceeds 150 percent of the poverty guideline for your state and family size. Under a loan rehabilitation agreement, your payment could be substantially lower than it was under a standard repayment plan. 

For example, let’s say you’re single, live in one of the 48 contiguous states, and make $30,000 per year. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the federal poverty guideline for you is $12,490. 

Your discretionary income is calculated by subtracting 150 percent of the poverty guideline — $18,735 — from your income. You’d subtract $18,735 from your income of $30,000 to get $11,265. 

Your payment under a loan rehabilitation agreement would be 15 percent of your annual discretionary income, divided by 12. To calculate your payment, you’d take 15 percent of $11,265, which is $1,689.75. Divide that number by 12 to get your monthly payment: $140.81. 

If you can’t afford the payment because of extenuating circumstances — such as higher than usual medical bills or housing expenses — you may be able to negotiate a lower payment. You’ll have to provide the loan servicer with documentation about your income and expenses. They’ll use that information to calculate a new payment after subtracting your necessary expenses from your income. 

If you decide that loan rehabilitation is right for you, contact your loan servicer directly to start the process. 

2. Federal loan consolidation

Another option to get out of loan default is federal loan consolidation. With this strategy, you consolidate your defaulted federal loans with a Direct Consolidation Loan. 

To qualify for loan consolidation for defaulted loans, you must agree to repay the new loan under an income-driven repayment plan and make three consecutive, voluntary, on-time monthly payments before you can consolidate. 

Once you consolidate your loan, your loan is no longer considered to be in default. You’ll regain eligibility for federal benefits like forbearance, deferment, and additional student aid. However, consolidating your debt doesn’t remove the record of the default from your credit report. 

While consolidation can be an effective strategy, it won’t work for everyone. If your defaulted loan is being collected through wage garnishment or in accordance with a court order, you can’t consolidate your loans until the wage garnishment order or the judgment is lifted. 

3. Student loan refinancing

If you have private student loans, you can’t qualify for loan rehabilitation or loan consolidation. Instead, your options are limited. 

In most cases, the only way to get out of default is to pay off your loan in full. But if you’re in default, you likely don’t have enough money in the bank to do that. This doesn’t mean you’re out of luck. It just means you may have to consider student loan refinancing. 

With student loan refinancing, you work with a private lender to take out a loan for the amount of your current debt, including the loans in default. You use the new loan to pay off the old ones, instantly ending the default. If your loans were in collections, all collections activity will end, and the lender will no longer be able to garnish your wages. 

However, there are some downsides to consider. Since your loans were in default, your credit score likely went down. This means you may not qualify for a refinancing loan on your own. 

Yet, you may get approved for a loan if you have a co-signer — a friend or relative with excellent credit and a steady income who signs the loan application with you. Because having a co-signer lessens the risk to the lender, you’re more likely to be approved. Keep in mind that if you fall behind on your payments, the co-signer is responsible for making them. 

Repaying your student loans

If your student loans are in default, your situation is serious. 

However, there are strategies you can use to get out of default and get your finances back on track. By following these tips, you can end the default and start saving money

 

6 Things You Should Know About Financial Freedom: A Proven Path to all the Money You’ll Ever Need

By Jackie Lam

When you think of financial independence, you probably think about people who got rich starting a business, or saved every dime and never had any fun.

Truth be told: There is a way to enjoy your pumpkin spice latte and avocado toast – and still retire early. Take Grant Sabatier. A practicing Buddhist and millennial, Sabatier had a paltry $2.26 in his bank account (plus $20,000 in credit card debt) when he was 24. Yet, in only five years, he grew his pennies to more than $1.25 million. Through his website, Millennial Money, and recent book, Financial Freedom: A Proven Path to All the Money You’ll Ever Need, he now shares his wisdom with the universe. 

While Sabatier’s book is primarily focused on how to achieve FIRE (Financial Independence, Retire Early), he also offers up tips for growing your money. 

Whether you’re aspiring to be part of the work optional set, or want to bulk up your savings account, here are 6 ways you can build your wealth:  

It’s about your daily habits

Your daily habits are key to building wealth. The average person spends 2,000 hours a year working and earning money. Yet, all it takes, according to Sabatier, is about five minutes a day to manage your money. 

And, when this becomes a part of your daily routine, it’s much easier to control your emotions and get comfortable with risk. This, in turn, will help you make better money decisions.

“While it might take some time to build a new habit, the lifetime impact of small daily decisions and habits can be massive,” says Sabatier.

For instance, something as small as checking the balance of your bank account through a bank app each day can help keep your finances in good shape. 

Other quick and easy things you can do each day? You can see how much you spent yesterday and how much you’ve spent this month. You can also keep tabs on how much you’ve earned from all your income streams to determine if you’re on track with your savings goals. You can also check your credit card and bank accounts to make sure you aren’t dinged with fees and there’s no suspicious activity. (If you’re a Chime Bank member, you’ll never be hit with fees. Never ever.) 

Maximize the potential of income, savings, and expenses 

If you want to grow your money quickly, you should consider maximizing your three “levers:” income, savings, and expenses. 

For example, if you cut back on your living expenses and earn more at the same time, you’ll have more money to save and invest. 

Skip the budget

Most people find budgeting to be tedious, time-consuming, and hard to maintain. To this end, Sabatier says budgets that make you feel deprived and guilty about your spending habits can backfire. Instead, he recommends focusing on lowering your top three major expenses instead — housing, food, and transportation. 

You can reasonably boost your savings rate by 25% (savings rate equals the percentage of your income you’re saving) by finding a cheaper place to live, getting roommates, or saving on transportation by buying a used car. You can also save money on food by growing your own veggies, bartering with your neighbors, or bulking grocery staples in bulk.  

Focus on the future value of a purchase 

That $20,000 you spent on a new car will cost you more than just $20,000. As Sabatier explains, if your hourly wage at your day job breaks down to $20 an hour, that car not only costs you 1,000 hours of your time, but also the future value of that money should you invest it. Using this calculator, if you earn an average of a seven percent return (compounded daily) on that $20,000, in 10 years you’ll have $40,272.35. In 20 years you’ll have a cool $81,093.11. 

Combine and maximize ways to make money

Sabatier lists four major ways to earn a buck: working for someone else at a full-time job; side hustling; entrepreneurship; and investing. And, if you combine different ways to make money, you’ll earn money faster while you have a fall-back income stream. 

For instance, if you have a day job and also a side hustle, and you get laid off, you still can depend on your side hustle. If you have a day job, you can also  “hack the 9 to 5” by making the most of your benefits, such as getting the full employer match on your 401(k) or asking for what you are truly worth. 

Here’s another example: If own your own business but also invest in real estate, you’ll have your investments to fall back on if your business has a few slow months. 

Automation is just the beginning

While “setting it and forgetting it” doesn’t take a lot of effort, automating your savings is just the beginning. Sabatier points out that in order to boost the amount you save to fast-track your wealth, you’ll need to put in the work to bump that savings amount from five percent to 10 percent, or from $100 to $200 a month. This takes serious work and dedication. 

If you don’t have a ton to start with, start small and go from there. It’s helpful to break up your savings goals to see how much you’ll need to save monthly, weekly, or daily. For instance, if you want to save $5,000 in six months, you’ll need to save about $834 a month, $195 per week, or $28 a day. 

Make the most of your time

As you learned from Sabatier’s tips here, we all have the potential to make more money. And, by adopting an enterprise mindset, you can build wealth even faster than you thought possible. Ready to jump in? 

 

How to Ruin Your Credit in Your 20s

By Susan Shain

We all make some foolish decisions in our 20s — it’s pretty much a rite of passage. But while most of these choices will be forgotten a few days or weeks, the financial ones have a habit of sticking around.

In fact, when it comes to your credit, you can easily make mistakes that will haunt you for years, even decades. And, damaging your credit has some very real consequences: Low scores could make it harder to get an apartment, car loan, or mortgage. (Not sure if you’ve got a credit file yet? Checking your credit reports and FICO scores — which are the most widely-used type of credit score — is almost as easy as opening a free bank account.)

Right now, you’re in a powerful position: You can either build your credit slowly and responsibly, or you can ruin your credit for years to come. Here are the seven worst credit mistakes you can make in your 20s. Once you know what they are, you can hopefully steer clear!

1. Charge More Than You Can Afford

The first and most common step in ruining your credit is living above your means.

That’s what Clarrisa Lee, who blogs at Later-Means-Never, did in her 20s.

“I didn’t have a lot of money growing up,” she says.

“So when I got access to credit, it felt like I’d won the lottery and I could buy everything that my heart desired — which I did, and which has cost me for decades.”

Now in her 40s, Lee is still paying off the debt she incurred more than 20 years ago.

What to do instead: Use your credit card as a tool to build credit, and never as a loan. Only buy what you can afford to comfortably pay off each month. When you pay your statement balance in full, you’ll never owe interest — but when you only make the minimum payments, you can drown in debt.

Here’s an example of what can happen if you only make the minimum payments:

  • Say you charge $5,000 to your credit card at a 19% interest rate.
  • You can’t afford to pay off the $5,000 bill, so you only make the minimum payment of $200 per month.
  • It will take you almost 12 years to pay off your balance — and cost you more than $3,000 in interest.

2. Carry a Balance on Your Card

When Mike Pearson, founder of Credit Takeoff, was in his 20s, he believed a common credit myth: carrying a balance on his card would improve his scores.

“For the first several months of having my first credit card, I kept a small balance rolled over from month to month, because I stupidly thought it would boost my credit scores,” he says.

“This caused me to pay several hundred dollars in interest.”

What to do instead: Pay your statement balance in full each month. Carrying a balance doesn’t help your credit; it only leads to interest charges and a higher credit utilization ratio (which we’ll explain below).

3. Max Out Your Available Credit

Maxing out your cards is another surefire way to harm your credit. That’s because doing so increases your “credit utilization ratio” — or the percentage of available credit you’re using — a number that comprises 30% of your FICO scores.

“I thought I could get by just paying off the minimum, until one day I realized I was using over 75% of my credit line,” recalls Russ Nauta, owner of CreditCardReviews.com.

“My credit scores took a deep dive.”

Here’s how this can happen:

  • Card A has a $1,500 credit limit and balance of $1,250.
  • Card B has a $500 credit limit and balance of $250.
  • In total, you have $2,000 of available credit.
  • You’re using $1,500 of it (or 75%), which might make lenders think you’re struggling to pay your bills.

What to do instead: Only spend a small percentage of your available credit, and strive to pay your statement in full each month. While some experts recommend a maximum of 20% credit utilization, the truth is: the lower, the better.

4. Miss Credit Card Payments

So, you bought drinks for the whole bar, or splurged on some designer sneaks — and then realized you couldn’t afford to pay your bill. The biggest mistake you can make? Deleting your statements without looking at them, neglecting to even pay the minimums.

Since payment history is the single most important FICO factor, accounting for 35% of your scores, that’s like taking the fast lane to terrible credit.

Even if you know how detrimental missing payments is, you can still slip up. Just look at what happened to Self Lender CEO James Garvey when he went on his honeymoon in Argentina.

“One of my credit cards was not set up on autopay and the bill went unpaid for two months,” he says.

“As a result of my dumb mistake, my credit scores were damaged for years.”

What to do instead: Set up autopay for all your bills, then set a reminder to go over your finances once a week. Log into all of your accounts and mobile banking apps to A) check your charges and B) make sure your payments have successfully gone through.

While we strongly encourage you to pay your statement in full, you should always make at least the minimum payment to avoid late fees and credit damage.

5. Close Your Credit Cards

You’ve finally paid off a credit card, and you’re so excited to be debt-free that you immediately close your account. In doing so, you lower your “average age of accounts,” which makes up 15% of FICO scores. Womp womp.

“The biggest credit mistake we made in our early 20s was closing down credit cards we no longer used,” says Brittany Kline, co-owner of The Savvy Couple.

“Looking back we should have kept them open to grow our credit history.”

What to do instead: Although you’re welcome to cut up your credit card so you can’t use it anymore, don’t close the account — especially if it’s your first or only card. Keeping it open will maintain your average age of accounts, and if the card has a $0 balance, will also help lower your credit utilization ratio.

6. Ignore Your Student Loans

Even if you took out student loans when you were just 18 years old — barely an adult! — they still factor into your credit scores. And a quick way to harm your credit is to neglect the bills (as overwhelming as they may be).

Marketer Destinee Wright took out thousands of dollars in student loans to pay for college. After graduating, she let one of them fall into default — a move that ruined her credit for years to come.

“I’m still digging myself out of that hole,” she says.

What to do instead: If your payments are unaffordable, ask your servicer about income-driven repayment plans, which extend your repayment period and cap your payments at a certain percentage of your income. Although you’ll pay more interest, that’s infinitely better than defaulting on your loans and damaging your credit.

If you’re experiencing temporary financial hardship, you can also consider applying for deferment or forbearance, which will pause your student loan payments (but not your interest accrual for unsubsidized loans) for a certain amount of time.

7. Avoid Credit Entirely

The last way to ruin your credit might surprise you: It’s to never use credit at all. If you eschew credit cards or other loans entirely, you won’t establish a credit history, and lenders won’t know whether you’re a responsible borrower.

That will make it extremely difficult for you to get financing for purchases like a home or car.

What to do instead: If you want to build your credit over time, apply for a starter credit card that helps you build credit, and then do everything you can to pay your bills on time and in full. Alternatively, if you’ve already damaged your scores, consider getting a “secured” card specifically targeted at helping people rebuild their credit.

How to Not Ruin Your Credit: Proceed With Caution

Now that you know seven guaranteed ways to ruin your credit, we hope you’ll follow the alternative advice, and slowly build your credit up from the bottom up.

Remember: The important thing isn’t to avoid credit; it’s to use it responsibly. Take it from us thirtysomethings — and don’t repeat our mistakes!

 

Credit 101: The Basics You Need to Know

By Erica Gellerman

 

 

 

 

What’s a Good Credit Score in Your 20s?

By Melanie Lockert

When you’re in your 20s, you’re just beginning your financial life.

This may mean getting your first big paycheck, applying for a new credit card, and managing your checking and savings accounts. Yet, another important aspect of your financial life in your 20s is building your credit and establishing a good credit score.

Your question now may be: What is a good credit score and why is this important? Read on to learn how a good credit score can help you when you’re in your 20s.

What is a credit score?

A credit score is a three-digit number that represents how creditworthy you are. In other words, this number tells lenders how likely you are to repay your loans and if you’re a responsible borrower.

There are many different types of credit scores but the most popular is the FICO credit score. The FICO credit score range is from 300-850. The lower the score, the worse your credit is. If your credit score is high, your credit is in good shape.

What is a good credit score?

Now that we’ve reviewed credit score basics, your next question may be: What constitutes a good credit score? According to credit bureau Experian, a good credit score is 700 or above.

But if you’re in your 20s and just starting out, a score of 700 or higher may be tough as you’re just establishing your credit history. In fact, according to Credit Karma, the average credit score for 18-24 year-olds is 630 and the average credit score for 25-30 year-olds is 628.

FICO has different categorizations for credit scores and a 630 is deemed as “fair”. A “good” credit score based on FICO’s criteria is 670-739, a “very good” score is 740-799 and an “exceptional” score is 800-850.

So, given the fact that the average credit score for people in their 20s is 630 and a “good” credit score is typically around 700, it’s safe to say a good credit score in your 20s is in the high 600s or low 700s.

Keep in mind that when you’re in your 20s, you’re still establishing your credit history and your credit score takes into account the length of your credit history. Only time can help that part, so if you maintain good financial habits, the hope is that your score will elevate as you get older.

Why is a good credit score important?

Let’s be real, your credit score can seem pretty arbitrary. But it’s nonetheless important when it comes to getting your first apartment or applying for your first credit card.

Why is this? Because your credit score can make or break whether you get approved for an apartment. It can also determine whether you get approved or denied for a credit card. It can even affect the interest rate you get. This is crucial to understand because, if you take out a loan, interest can cost you a lot of money over time. Even the difference between a few percentage points can potentially cost you hundreds or thousands of dollars in interest.

So, having a good credit score can help you save money, and help you get better interest rates.

How can you improve your credit score?

What if you don’t have a good credit score quite yet? Or, perhaps you want to maintain your good credit and keep it in good standing?

There are a few simple rules to live by to boost your credit. Take a look:

  • The most important rule is to make all your payments on time. Your payment history determines 35 percent of your credit score, so it has the biggest impact.
  • The second rule of thumb is to make sure your credit utilization makes up 30 percent of your score – or less. Your credit utilization is how much of your total credit you use. Maxing out your cards each month can signal the alarms for lenders and make you look like a risk.
  • Lastly, try not to open too many new lines of credit. Opening too many lines of credit in a short period of time can look risky to lenders and lower your credit score.

Take responsibility for your credit score

As you can see, taking action and being responsible in your 20s can help you build your credit over time. So, refer back to this guide and start improving your credit score now. And, just think: This will help you land that apartment, buy a new car or get your first rewards credit card.

Are you ready to improve your credit score in your 20s and start adulting?

 

8 Ways to Protect Your Personal Information While You’re Banking

By Paul Sisolak

Links to external websites are not managed by Chime or The Bancorp Bank.


While banking security has certainly improved over the years, thieves, scammers and hackers still find ways to steal your personal information and gain access to your hard-earned funds.

In fact, according to a 2018 online survey by The Harris Poll, almost 60 million Americans have been affected by identity theft. And, in 2017, $16.8 billion was stolen from 16.7 million victims of identity theft, according to the 2018 Identity Fraud Study by Javelin Strategy & Research.

So, what can you do to safeguard your identity and finances against unscrupulous types? Here are eight steps you can follow to keep your money safe.

1. Change your passwords often

Keeping the same passwords across each of your bank, credit card, and email accounts for too long increases the risk of hackers accessing your information.

So, change your passwords frequently. Doing this at least once a month is recommended to keep your accounts safe and secure. If you find it hard to remember your passwords, try using a password generator/scrambler like Dashlane to create and organize your passwords. You can also store your passwords on a secure browser extension like LastPass.

Here’s another tip: Don’t store your passwords on your mobile device or laptop, says Nathan Grant, a credit industry analyst. While it may be convenient, if your device is stolen, your password is right there for a thief to use without having to lift a finger.

“Also, be careful not to enter any passwords or financial information on websites if the URL doesn’t have a secure lock symbol or https in the web browser address bar, especially on public networks,” says Grant.

2. Avoid using public WiFi and shared computers

Speaking of security, be careful before connecting to WiFi in a public place, say experts.

“Public WiFi is great for browsing the web, but you shouldn’t use it to log into your personal accounts and mobile banking apps,” says Adele Alligood of EndThrive.com.

“Doing so can make it easy for someone to intercept your login information and steal your financial data.”

Likewise, avoid sharing your computer or using a public shared computer (like one in a library) if you’ll be conducting banking or financial transactions. If you must do this, log off after your session is over — and, depending on your device, enable two-factor authentication when logging is.

How to tell if your connection is secure? There will be an image of a padlock next to the WiFi address or before the URL on your Web browser. And, if you have to access your bank app? Make sure the app you’re using is security encrypted — especially if you’re making payments.

3. Download anti-virus software

A computer virus is an inherent risk when using public WiFi. But even in private, you may be at risk if you don’t have a good antivirus software installed on your laptop or desktop.

“With a little research, you can choose which antivirus software is right for your computer,” says Justin Lavelle, a spokesman at BeenVerified.com.

“Antivirus software makes sure malicious software is detected and removed from your computer,” says Lavelle.

4. Use caution at the ATM

You can never be too careful at an ATM — even if you guard your debit or credit card carefully.

Lavelle says you should be mindful of criminals who use credit card skimmers. These are devices that can record your card’s information to then use that information to make unlawful purchases.

“Whenever you use a credit card reader, it is smart to inspect the device first,” he says.

“Look at the machine for scratches, ill-fitting parts or seals. Jiggle the machine as well as the PIN pad, or credit card insert. Most gas pumps, ATMs or vending machines are manufactured to be secure. Broken seals or loose parts may be an indication that the machine has been breached, and a skimmer has been installed.”

Lavelle says that most skimmers use Bluetooth technology, so one way to detect a skimmer is to use your smartphone.

“Turn on the Bluetooth pairing, and then see how many odd things pop up. It might just alert you to a skimmer.”

5. Watch out for “sidlers”

You should also exercise caution at busy public points of sale, since this is where thieves known as “shoulder surfers” are known to use stealthy methods to get the digits off your card.

“If another consumer is crowding you in line to pay, don’t be shy to ask them to please back up and give you space,” says Jim Angleton, president of AEGIS FinServ Corp.

“Yes, it seems a bit harsh; however, the vast majority of ‘sidlers’ are purposefully inching up to pretend to use their smartphone to look at email when they are really taking cellphone video of you entering your card and inserting your PIN.

Once they have the perfect photo, they go to their car and use a laptop and portable printer to create a blank card that looks just like your card. They can then go online and purchase a five dollar item to see if the card works. Once they have confirmation, they can then sell the fake card with your valid credit card number, explains Angleton.

Want to know how you can avoid this problem? Opt for merchants that accept mobile payments straight from your phone.

6. Never reveal your personal information

Guarding your bank account numbers or debit card digits isn’t just about hiding your details physically or behind passwords. Sometimes, ID theft involves revealing info to the wrong people.

“Emails and phone calls may seem official and important, but you should never give out your personal details unless you can verify, without a doubt, that it’s safe,” says Lavelle.

“Most retailers make it clear that they will never ask for your password, social security number, or other sensitive information by phone or email.”

Pro tip: Make sure your bank account offers added protection against hackers. Chime’s debit card, for example, comes with an instant block function to prevent unauthorized use of your funds. You can simply disable transactions through the Chime app.

7. Destroy your documents

In the event you want to get rid of old receipts and sensitive banking information, don’t just dispose of this in the trash. Thieves know no shame and will happily dumpster dive to find each piece of a torn-up document.

Instead, invest in a paper shredder that makes any document unsalvageable and unreadable. You can also bring your documents to a UPS, Staples or other local office supply store that offers low-cost document shredding services.

8. Check your credit report

When was the last time you checked your credit report?

Checking your credit report and score is essential so that you know where you stand with your credit. Getting a copy of your credit report will also reveal any erroneous information that could negatively impact your credit.

So, scour your report — everything from the spelling of your name, the amount of your loans and your credit accounts (both open and closed). If you find an inaccuracy, each of the three credit bureaus (Experian, TransUnion and Equifax) have simple steps you can take to dispute anything unfamiliar on your report.

And, here’s another layer of protection: Switch to a bank account that will send you real-time alerts each time a transaction is made.

Stay Safe and Secure

Using these eight steps, you’ll be well on your way to safeguarding yourself and your finances in any scenario — whether you’re banking from your laptop at home, getting cash at an ATM, or shopping on your mobile device.

Banking services provided by The Bancorp Bank or Stride Bank, N.A., Members FDIC. The Chime Visa® Debit Card is issued by The Bancorp Bank or Stride Bank pursuant to a license from Visa U.S.A. Inc. and may be used everywhere Visa debit cards are accepted. The Chime Visa® Credit Builder Card is issued by Stride Bank pursuant to a license from Visa U.S.A. Inc. and may be used everywhere Visa credit cards are accepted. Please see back of your Card for its issuing bank.

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