Hope for your financial life and beyond

3 Tips to Boost Your Credit Score Before Getting a Loan

Getting a loan soon? In today’s guest post, Certified Financial Adviser Joseph Hogue shares some ways to boost your credit score before you apply for a loan.

The original title of this article was going to be, “3 Tricks to Boost Your Credit Score…,” but then I thought better about giving the impression that your credit score and lenders were something to be tricked into giving you a better interest rate. Like most things in life, there is no quick-and-easy solution to improving your credit score but with a little work and these three tips, you can save yourself thousands in interest over the life of a loan.

The graphic below shows the five credit score factors used by credit bureaus to determine your credit score and on which is based the interest rate you pay on loans. Using ways to manage each one of these will go a long way to boost your credit score and save big money.

boost your credit scoreMore than 5% of credit reports contain errors

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Finding Balance in the Holiday Gifting Madness

Are you having trouble dealing with the pressure and the obligation to buy presents during the holidays? Please welcome Jacob from Cash Cow Couple as he shares his thoughts and offers some solutions to the matter.

dog with scarf laying on a pillow,

Do you feel pressure to even give a gift to your dog this Christmas?

When I had been dating my wife just a few months, I told her that I sometimes refuse to participate in select American holidays. I expressed my opinion that people shouldn’t feel obligated to spend, buy, or gift things. Ever.

She probably thought I was a little odd at the time (it’s OK, I am), but I explained my reasoning and things worked out for us. It’s not that I refuse to participate in many holidays because we can’t afford it. Or because I think holidays are bad. Or because I don’t enjoy a good celebration with family and friends.

I hate it because much of the practice has become forced. There is a ton of great marketing and artificially-generated pressure to “buy something” or to “do something.”

The result is that many individuals regularly attend family gatherings, birthday parties, Christmas celebrations, Easter celebrations, Halloween celebrations, and a million other celebrations, and feel obligated to give gifts or spend money. That’s the wrong reason entirely.

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Does My Credit Score Affect My Spouse?

The following is a guest post from attorney Adam Black, a member of the ABA and New York State Bar Association.

Recently married? Have you been married for years? Either way, your spouse’s credit history can have an impact on you.

credit scoreOn many occasions, clients ask our firm if their credit scores, and overall financial situation, can affect their spouse. In regard to how your credit score will affect your spouse, there is some good news. The short answer is that it won’t – your credit score will not directly impact your spouse’s credit score. Although, in some instances, a spouse with a poor credit score can have an indirect effect on your ability to obtain new lines of credit.

Your Credit Score Remains Yours, Even After Marriage

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Give the Gift of Investing This Holiday Season

I’m happy to welcome today the Debt Free Guys. Enjoy their guest post on how the gift of investing may be the best present a child could receive this holiday season.

Christmas presents under the treeAmericans are expected to spend between 4 and 4.5 percent more this coming holiday season than in 2013 or $981 to $986 billion between November and January, excluding auto and gas sales. The lion’s share of that money is expected to be spent on technology, led by Apple’s iPhone 6 and 6+.

Already this month we’ve seen personal finance blogs with advice to manage expenses this holiday season. Expect to see lists of all sorts on financial blogs and websites, such as “25 Gifts Under $25”, “Gifts You Can Make” and “The Art of Re-Gifting”. We’ll kick off our 2014 holiday shopping advice to give the gift of investing this year.

There will be the exceptions, but most American children will have their fair share of gifts beautifully wrapped and lovingly placed under a Christmas tree or next to a menorah. They’ll excitedly un-wrap their gift, play with their new toy or wear the new piece of clothing, but eventually the gift will be forgotten. Some possibly forgotten before the day is over. Others will be forgotten by the end of the holiday season or a few months later. Even iPhones lose their luster after several months.

What won’t be forgotten is education. As we’ve discussed frequently at Debt Free Guys, we believe there is a gap in education in that kids don’t sufficiently learn enough about money management, saving and investing.

Educate the children in your life and give the holiday gift of life-long investing. There are three ways to do this.

Open a UTMA/UGMA Account

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How to Make a Thousand Dollars in a Month on the Side With a Blog

Enjoy this guest post today from DW, the creator of and writer at GreatPassiveIncomeIdeas.com.

coins coming out of a computerWhen I was younger I used to go online looking for things I could do that would make me rich some day. A lot of the information I would stumble upon usually involved investing, waiting years to see your returns, or taking significant risks in things like real estate or business ventures.

If you’re like me, all of those things are great and all, but not really what I was looking for. I’m a family man with responsibilities and a mortgage to pay off. I simply can’t risk putting my family’s future in jeopardy in pursuit of trying to make more money.

That’s when I discovered something: The very websites I was looking are were the thing I needed to be doing. So I started getting into blogging and found it to be one of the best semi-passive income investments you can make.

Now three years later I’ve finally figured out how to make a thousand dollars in a month on the side without hardly any major risk or expense. And I do it all at night after the kids go to bed or on the weekend’s when I have some free time.

Here’s how you can do it to.

First – Create Your Own Website

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4 Guiding Money Principles that Every Child (and Adult) Must Learn

Please welcome my good friend and Certified Financial Planner (CFP®) Shannon Ryan from The Heavy Purse as she guest posts today.

word learn engraved in stoneWhen I was 13 years old, my father began giving me “money lessons” while we ate dinner, and I had no idea how these simple lessons would change my life. He didn’t focus on how money worked, but instead he showed me how my emotions affected my spending habits and money beliefs. With his guidance, I changed how I viewed money – from lack and fear – to one of abundance. Most importantly, I learned how to make financially confident decisions that aligned how I used my money with my goals and values. It felt great.

It wasn’t until college that I realized what a special gift my father gave me. Many of my friends and classmates had not been taught how to handle money wisely. Money wasn’t discussed in their homes, so they learned by trial and mostly error. I wanted to help them and became a Certified Financial Planner (CFP®). For the past 22 years, it’s been my honor to help families and individuals reclaim their money happiness.

How Money Habits and Beliefs Are Formed

One trend I noticed repeatedly was that many of our money habits and beliefs formed when we were children, not adults. We observed how our parents handled money and mimicked them, inheriting their money hang-ups along the way. We then grew up to pass these same hang-ups to our children, continuing the vicious cycle.

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Debunking a Few Home-Buying Misconceptions

The following is a guest post by Tali Wee of Zillow.com.

couple looking at a home to buyNavigating the home buying process as a first-time buyer can be confusing, risky or even defeating. Buying a home is one of the most expensive purchases buyers make in their lifetimes, so it’s vital they make informed decisions. Some common sense negotiating tactics don’t translate to the housing market, confusing even the savviest shoppers. Plus, risky strategies work well for some buyers’ circumstances but disadvantage others.

It’s important for buyers to do their own research before accepting rumors as truths. Here are a few common house-buying misconceptions.

Misconception #1: Buying a home is a quick process, especially in competitive markets.

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Do You Want to Beat the Market for 60 Cents Per Hour?

The following is a guest post from Graham Clark at Moneystepper.com

Pennies falling out of a tipped over jarWhy do we invest? Presumably, we all invest money to obtain the best returns we can to improve our financial future. Effectively, this means that we are investing to earn money.

We invest in the stock market because we think it “pays well”. Investing in the stock market (assuming we can earn the market returns of the S&P 500 since 1970) can earn us 15.79%. Alternatively, holding money in cash returns approximately 5%.

Investing in the stock market is therefore the equivalent of working at a legal firm instead of McDonalds – the wages are better.

Hourly wage of investing

Let’s say you have $10,000 invested in the Vanguard S&P 500 (with an annual TER of 0.1%). Therefore, your average annual return, after costs, is equal to $1,569. How much work did this take? To set up your Vanguard account and buy the fund, and then to completely forget about it for the year, probably takes about one hour.

So, you are earning an hourly basic wage of $1,569 per hour. Not bad. Well done you!

Now, I’m going to give you the opportunity to earn another 60 cents per hour. Would you like to do that?

You probably wouldn’t. Moreover, you would probably report me to the authorities for exploiting my employees!! But, millions of people are doing this when they are trying to beat the market.

Can you beat the market?

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Finding the Qualities of Successful People in Yourself

The following guest post is from My Money Design, a personal finance blog that is all about developing your passion for success.

Andrew Jackson on $20 bill


When you think of famous celebrities or business figures, to what do you attribute to their success? Hard work? Talent? Or just the irrevocable notion that they got that way by being at the right place at the right time?

Sure we’d all like to believe that luck had everything to do with it. We also like to convince ourselves that we somehow missed the bus and could have been just as successful as these people if we had been in the right place as well. But that’s simply not true.

Developing the Qualities of Successful People

Although I’m no celebrity, I know that one of the best things I can do for myself is to emulate the qualities of successful people to get what I want. Everything I’ve ever gotten, I’ve earned through hard work and passion. I don’t owe chance anything for my accomplishments. I believe that success is less about being lucky and mostly all about creating your own luck.

Here’s another way I choose to look at it:

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How Are Various Investing Markets Related to Each Other?

The following is a guest post by Troy Bombardia.


Commodities: An oil refinery at dusk

In the world of investing we have something that is known as correlation. The basic definition of correlation is simple: how do changes in variable X affect changes in variable Y (oh no, more math!)?

Correlation and relations exist in the financial markets. Changes in the price of certain markets (i.e. stocks) will have impacts on prices in other markets (i.e. bonds, currencies, commodities). In this post, I’m going to examine how various markets are related to each other (their correlation).

Why is it important to understand the relationships between various markets? Because if you know how one market is reacting and what relationship other markets have to this market, you can predict what the future price of other markets will be (which equals more profits!).

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The Hidden Commodities of Real Estate Investing

The following is a guest post from Jim Driscoll, the founder and author of CriticalFinancial.com.

ID-10017132Ever looked at real estate investing as having a vested interest in a packaged commodity? Huh…a packaged commodity? How is that? Well, let’s look at real estate from a broad perspective.

Real estate is made up of an array of commodities each possessing their own intrinsic value; such as wood, concrete, petroleum products, copper, aluminum, and other building materials. The cool thing is they are packaged together into a single investment called real estate, which can be leveraged, depreciated, and purchased with borrowed money.

As if that’s not attractive enough, a fantastic tax benefit pushes real estate into the category of best investment ever’! Is there a greater investment? If there is, I haven’t found it. What other investment allows you to invest potentially 5% or less of your capital, then lets you outsource your interest payments to a tenant.

Ahhh…the utopian investment. Nope, not so fast. Being a landlord is not for everyone. Those middle of the night phone calls to fix a stopped up toilet are enough to weed out a large swath of investors.

Real estate is not liquid. Many investors want to be able to rid themselves of their investment as soon as they think it looks to be hitting a downturn. For some folks though, ‘being liquid’ only creates temptation, and we know what temptation can cause us to do in the highly intense investment game.

After my experiences of losing money through investing in Wall Street products, I have now trained my mind to think of real estate as a forced savings account.

Real Estate = A Friend to Inflation

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