All Is Not Lost

I can’t tell you the number of times that, in our seemingly never-ending struggle with debt, that I’ve seriously contemplated just giving up.  Just throwing in the towel and saying f-it.  You know it’s bad when you catch yourself fantasizing about it.  About how much easier your life would be without the struggle.  Just declaring bankruptcy, taking the hit on your credit score, and moving on with your life.

Even now, after having written about personal finance for over five years, I still find myself in that place occasionally.  We let our budgeting lapse, and inevitably our spending gets out of whack again.  Something happens, and the emergency fund just doesn’t seem to cover it all.  Or, worse, doesn’t seem to replenish itself as quickly as it should.

someecards.com - I can't believe I work this hard to be this poor.I can try and lay the blame somewhere.  That always helps, right?  If it isn’t my fault, then I can’t be blamed for it.  I can’t be the one that everyone points to as the failure.  I can deflect that attention to someone or something else.  That helps.  Until it doesn’t.

Every single time, it’s really me that deserves the blame.  It wasn’t the boss that refused to give me a raise.  It wasn’t the heater in the car that needed to be fixed.  And it certainly wasn’t the kids that needed to eat.  It was me.  Every.  Single. Time.

I failed to negotiate the raise.  I failed to have enough saved up to make that repair.  I failed to budget properly to make sure that we wouldn’t have to cut corners at the grocery store.  Me.  I did that.

I could just give up.  I could miss having to work harder to be paid appropriately.  I could miss having to pay attention to my budget to save money for car repairs, or to pay for groceries.  I could do that.  Giving up would be so easy.

Until it isn’t.

5 Ways a Better Credit Score Leads to Better Finances

BookkeepingEverybody knows that you want to have the best credit score you can.  Why?  Because the better your credit score, the better the rates you can get on your loans, of course!  But, did you know that there are other reasons to try and improve your credit score?  In fact, here’s five ways that having a better credit score can lead to better finances.

  1. More money.  This is the obvious one.  A better credit score leads to better rates on loans (see above), and better rates lead to less interest paid over the life of the loan.  And less interest paid leads to…  (wait for it) a  better bank balance!
  2. Better rentals.  It’s a sad fact that many landlords are doing credit checks on prospective tenants these days.  They’ve got assets to protect, so it’s a smart move for them, but the fact that there are so many landlords out there getting burned that it’s become necessary is sad.  But, having a good credit score can help make sure you don’t get turned down for that great apartment down by the beach!
  3. Quicker payoff.  This one goes really closely with the first point.  With those lower rates, and lessened interest also comes the ability to pay the loan off quicker.  And, of course, a quicker payoff means a much better financial situation.  Especially if you avoid any new loans afterward.
  4. Any loan you like.  If you must loan money, at least do it smartly.  With the current state of affairs, you can’t just walk in and get a loan that has a pulse as it’s only requirement.  In fact, many banks and credit unions are cutting way back on their sub-prime lending for anything.  (P.S. the term “sub-prime” doesn’t just apply to mortgage loans) If you have poor credit, it’s much more likely, today, that you’ll get turned down for a loan altogether.  Better credit means that if you really need a loan, you probably can have one.
  5. Less fees.  We all hate fees.  Well, all of us except the financial institutions.  A growing number of them are making a growing amount of their revenues from fees.  And many have moved to an account structure that is based off of risk.  And risk is determined by credit score.  A lower credit score could mean an account with higher fees, or with monthly fees that some accounts might not have, while a higher credit score might qualify you for a different account without those fees.

So, you see, having a good credit score can really send your finances in the right direction.  And, having a bad credit score can really send them into the dumps in a hurry too!  Unless you’re very dedicated to the extreme frugaler lifestyle, and never plan on really using money, it still pays to have a good credit score.  It doesn’t take much to build it, and you might be glad you did someday.

photo credit: o5com

How I Save More Than Just Money By Cutting the Cable

I was one of those kids that watched just about every show on television and could only fall asleep if the TV that was in my room was on. When I discovered one of my friends did not have cable, I couldn’t help think how abnormal it was. Now fast-forward to today’s time, and I am the abnormal one.  While streaming shows is becoming much more accepted and popular, my husband and I still get a lot of weird looks when we say we don’t have cable. However, by streaming our favorite shows through Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon, we have saved three things.

First, we have saved over $1000 a year by cutting the cable. The number seems a little too large to be true, right? Well, it isn’t. Cable would cost us an extra $100 a month. Sure, there are tons of deals and bundles right now, but usually you only get a specialized rate for a year. So even with the special rate, we would be spending an extra $600 a year.

Secondly, we save a lot of time. We are the type of people that would watch television just to watch it, which can be a bad thing. Why waste your time to watch shows like Hoarders or Tanked just because it is the only thing on at that moment? With Netflix and Hulu, we know which shows we want to watch and don’t watch much else.

Cutting the CableFinally, it saves a lot of stress. Okay, maybe not a lot of stress, but definitely some degree. We babysat my sister-in-law’s kids one weekend and thought we would enjoy their ginormous television package with over 900 channels. It was Friday night, so it would seem pretty easy to find several good shows or movies to watch, right? Wrong. It was a little stressful scrolling through hundreds of stupid channels (infomercials and such) and trying to find something we both could agree on. I think we wasted an hour just trying to find something on. I am sure once you get use to your channels it is easier to find something, but I do still think it is ridiculous to have so many channels, yet still so very few selections in good things to watch.

With Netflix and Amazon, it is also nice to know that my children will be able to watch their favorite shows without ever seeing a commercial. This means I will not have to get dozen of requests for a Barbie with blue hair that turns into a dolphin underwater or for those special chicken nuggets with green goo in them (these two products are totally made up now, but don’t be surprised if they become a real thing).

So now you know. My decision to stay cable free is much more than just saving money. It is nice to save a huge chunk of money, but it is also nice to know that something does not control my time, my stress, and my finances.

What would you save if you went cable free?

original img credit:Alyssa & Colin, on Flickr