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10 Things Learnt From The Two Roommates Who Saved More Than $55,000 A Year

10 Things Learnt From The Two Roommates Who Saved More Than $55,000 A Year

Reading the story of Geoffrey Szuszkiewicz and Julie Phillips, who saved $55,000 dollars in one year by choosing to buy nothing, brings back memories of when my wife and I first got married back in August of 2010.

Coming out of college was rough for both of us. Like most new college graduates, we were broke and had no money.

However, on the night of our honeymoon, we decided to make a savings goal. Our plan was have twenty thousand dollars in cash saved by August 2011. Sarah was still in school at the time, so we were going to have to accomplish this intimidating goal on the salary of an assistant manager in the retail industry.

As you can imagine, this wasn’t easy. Saving money is a lifestyle change; one that is more than anything, mentally and emotionally draining. Like Geoffrey and Julie, Sarah and I also lost friends. We also had doubts and many times wanted to quit.

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However we stuck it out and reached our goal just a few days shy of the one year mark. The decision we made to save gave us a sense of security and peace of mind.

Hopefully you too will find these ten tips I learned useful as you plan to save money.  They are simple and very actionable.

 1. Check your pride; you will need to live minimally.

If you want to save money, you cannot be sold out to the cultural expectation of having nice things. This is because you will need to adopt a minimalist mindset if you are to be successful. Do not confuse minimalism for self-denial. I mean you don’t need a fancy car with a monthly payment. You may have to drive a beat up clunker for a while.  Keep your clothing simple, no buying fancy designer outfits.  Like Geoffrey, you will have to delay the pleasures of travel and consumerism.

2. Decide how much you want to save

You must have a tangible goal set.  Look at your income and decide how much of it you want left your bank account at the end of the year.  Geoffrey decided to save 65% of his take home pay while I decided to save 50% of mine. There is no magic number, just decide how much of your hard earned money you would like to keep. There is an alternative to being a consumer, and it is being a saver.

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3. Whatever is left is your take home pay/ Allocate wisely

Say you make $3,800 after taxes a month and you want to save twenty thousand in one year like Sarah and I did, you will need to save $1,670 every month. This means that you only make $2,130 a month.

That is all you have for rent, gas, groceries, gym memberships, fun money etc. Make sure you allocate wisely.

4. Keep your rent or mortgage no more than 25% of your net income, or get a room mate

This means that your rent or house payment cannot be more than 532.50 if you use my example.

Sarah and I moved into a 350 square foot apartment for 315 a month that year. Geoffrey moved in with Julie to save money on the rent.

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5. The quickest way to get a fifty percent raise is to cut your bills in half

I eliminated my gym membership fee ($60 a month) by working part time as a personal trainer at my local gym. I also cancelled my cable service ($180 a month) for Netflix ($8 a month). We also cut our grocery bill in half by sticking to simple diet foods (rice, chicken, potatoes etc.) I also biked to work, while Sarah walked to class ($200 in gas). All in all by cutting our bills in half, it was as if I received an extra $500 a month. Julie quit going out to eat all together and Geoffrey went as far as to quit getting haircuts.

6. Designate an accountability partner

Every month end, I would show my good friend Jeffery my account balance. Knowing that he was going to see my deposits was enough motivation to deter me from dipping into my savings. If my account was at $1,670 on January 31st, it had to be at $3,340 on February 28th.  Geoffrey and Julie created a website and blog to let the world in on what they were doing and used this medium to keep themselves accountable

7. Save first, pay bills latter.

Saving money is all about priorities. It was my priority to pay myself first. Nothing else mattered.

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8. You may lose some friends

Remember that we are social creatures and as such, your friends may not understand the commitment you are making to secure your financial future. Don’t take it personal. The same people who are now asking you why you are doing it, will eventually ask you how you did it.

9. Don’t try to “keep up with the Joneses”

Don’t try to keep up with the Joneses. For all you know, they may be broke or living pay check to paycheck. Be careful about being pressured to spend especially when you are around friends who make more than you do.

10. Reward your self

Every couple of months, reward yourself. Set aside up to $200 for something you may want to splurge on. This is more of a necessary mental break.

Good luck! May you be able to put away exactly the amount of money you hoped for!

Featured photo credit: Julie Phillips and Geoffrey Szuszkiewicz via finance.yahoo.com

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Last Updated on March 3, 2021

Top 6 Hacks on How To Build Credit Fast

Top 6 Hacks on How To Build Credit Fast

When done right, credit can open doors and provide a lifestyle that you never imagined possible. Anything from flying around the world in first-class and staying at 5-star hotels entirely for free to starting and scaling businesses. It’s also an area where it can be easy to make mistakes and hard to recover from without the right information. In this article, I will break down how you can build credit fast so you can open doors in your life!

When you start to think about improving your credit score, you have to answer three important questions first:

  1. What are you trying to achieve by having good credit?
  2. What really is your credit score?
  3. How is your credit score calculated?

What Are Your Credit Goals?

Having a high credit score is great, but ultimately, your credit score is a tool in your personal finance arsenal that you can use to open doors. The first question you should ask yourself is “what will a higher credit score do for me?”

I work with many clients directly at Freedom Travel Systems to help them fully leverage the power of their credit so they can enjoy free luxury travel and start or grow their business. For my clients and many others, here are a few common goals many credit-savvy individuals have:

  • Free Travel – getting access to travel rewards cards so you can get tons of free travel and even get first-class flights, hotel suites, and luxury amenities all for free
  • Start/Grow a Business – getting access to business credit so you can start and grow a business with 0% or low-interest financing that does not impact your personal credit
  • More Approvals – getting approved for credit cards, auto loans, or mortgages so you improve your lifestyle or build your personal wealth
  • Better Rates – getting better interest rates on any loans you get will save you tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars over your lifetime

What Is Your Credit Score?

Your credit score is simply a 3-digit number that tells potential lenders how reliable of a borrower you are. Keep in mind that lenders, such as banks and credit issuers, stay in business by lending. Their goal is to find the people that have the highest probability of paying them back and they assess this primarily through your credit score.

What’s important to know is that there are two major scoring models used to create your scores. These scores are your FICO Score and your Vantage Score. More than 90% of lenders rely on your FICO score, so when you are checking your score, you want to make sure you see the actual score that the lenders use. And no, checking your own score does not hurt your credit!

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Then enters the 3 main credit bureaus, which are essentially agencies that collect credit information on you. These are Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. These bureaus then apply a scoring model to the information they have on you and voila, you now have a credit score! Bureaus sometimes have different information on your report, which is why you will see 3 different scores.

How Is Your Credit Score Calculated?

Next, you need to understand how the credit score is calculated. This will provide a high-level overview, but there is more detail to each of these factors alone.

There are 5 main factors in the calculation of your credit score:[1]

  1. Payment History (35%) – This refers to the amount and percentage of on-time payments you have.
  2. Utilization (30%) – This is how much revolving credit you use as a percentage of the total revolving credit issued to you. Note that installment loans like auto-loans or mortgages do not count towards this while credit cards do.
  3. Age of Credit (15%) – This refers to how long your credit history is, primarily your “average age.”
  4. Credit Mix (10%) – This is how many different types of credit you have. For example, there are credit cards, student loans, auto loans, mortgages, personal loans, and lines of credit.
  5. New Credit (10%) – This primarily refers to how many inquiries you have for new credit.

Top 6 Hacks on How to Build Credit Fast

Now that you’ve learned more about your credit score, here are the top 6 tips on how to build credit fast.

1. Don’t Close Your Cards

Many of us are taught that getting a new credit card is bad and having too many will hurt your score. In fact, the opposite is true. You want to have many positive accounts reporting to your credit report. Logically, this makes sense because having more accounts with more on-time payments shows that you are a more reliable borrower. You just don’t want to open too many accounts too quickly since that can hurt your “new credit” factor.

Instead of closing a card, what you should do is simply keep the card open and put a small subscription service on it monthly. Why? Because each time you have an on-time payment, it helps build your payment history, the largest factor of credit.

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If you close a card, you are missing on potential on-time payments, age of credit, credit mix, and also lowering the total credit lent to you so your utilization percentage may go up. If you have an annual fee on a card you don’t like, see if there is a “no-fee” version of the card and downgrade it to that card rather than close it.

2. Use Autopay to Never Miss a Payment

This one is easy to do and easy not to do. Go into your credit card account and set up auto-pay. You can choose to either pay the full amount, the statement balance, or the minimum payment. Personally, I like to set up autopay to pay the minimum payment so that I never get a late payment. Then, I go in and manually pay the statement balance each month by the payment due date.

This helps me personally see my spending and have a manual review of my charges while ensuring, not have to pay interest, and still get the benefit of making sure that I never miss a payment if something goes wrong. Think about it, if you were to have a medical or family emergency, the last thing you want to experience on the back end of that is a late payment and a drop in your credit score. So, set up autopay.

A pro tip is to update your payment due dates across all bills and accounts to be the same so that you can “time batch” the process and have one time a month where you sit down and handle your payments. You can do this by simply contacting the credit card company or doing it online.

3. Get a Credit Limit Increase to Lower Your Utilization

One of the factors that get most people into trouble is using too much of their allotted total credit. Their utilization, which is the percentage of revolving credit they use, goes up, and their score tanks. You should aim for less than 30%, and in an ideal world, less than 10%.

To help drive this down, call your credit issuer and ask for a credit limit increase. This will help increase the total amount of credit extended to you and drop your utilization. Oftentimes, they will only give it to you when your utilization is fairly decent (less than 50%), so work to pay it down as best as possible before doing this. You should ask if the credit limit increase will give you an inquiry as some banks do a hard inquiry while some do not. If they do a hard inquiry, it is often better to just get a new card altogether or pass.

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4. Add Authorized Users to Increase Your Age, Add History, and Decrease Utilization

This is one of the best hacks out there as it helps with the 3 biggest factors of improving your credit: payment history, utilization, and age. This concept is also called “credit piggybacking” where someone with great credit history on a card adds an authorized user (AU) to the card. When the AU gets added, the credit history and information from that card are added to the AU’s report!

This is extremely helpful for people with young credit because it can drastically increase your age of accounts. It can also help many people with limited payment history or high utilization.

Please be aware that anything good or bad on that account you are added to will show up on your report. So, you want to avoid any cards with negative marks or high utilization. That being said, it is a one-way street, so nothing that you do with your credit can impact the primary account holder.

This is so valuable that there are companies that sell AU accounts. I always suggest starting with your family and/or personal network first as there are likely people in your network that can help!

5. Space Out Your Application Strategy

New credit is the smallest factor of credit, but it still matters! If you are looking to build up your credit, you should space out your applications. If you apply for too much credit in a short period, it looks very needy in the eyes of the lenders. For this reason, it is safest to apply for cards slowly over time unless you have really studied more in-depth how this works. A good rule of thumb is once every few months.

If you are in the credit game for the hopes of getting tons of credit card points for free travel, which is what I personally take full advantage of, you will want to familiarize yourself with the different bank rules and card promotions to put together the right application strategy. Applying blindly will waste inquiries and leave tons of benefits on the table!

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6. Review Your Report for Negatives

If you have any negative or “derogatory” marks on your credit report, this will hurt you drastically. They do impact you less as they age, however, you should review your credit report to ensure that everything on your report is 100% accurate and actually yours. Wrong information ends up on credit reports all the time and you will want to take personal responsibility for making sure it is accurate.

The “burden of proof” is on the credit bureau to confirm that any information on your report is in fact accurate. If you find inaccuracies, you can dispute that with them, or you could consider getting a credible credit repair company to help you.

Final Thoughts

There you have it, the top 6 tips on how to build credit fast so you can get closer to reaching your goals. Now that you’ve learned more about how credit score works and how you can improve yours, you’ll hopefully be able to make better financial decisions and achieve your financial goals quicker.

More Tips on How to Build Credit Fast

Featured photo credit: CardMapr via unsplash.com

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