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You have a job and a steady income, yet you find yourself staring at the bottom of the barrel, seemingly broke and crawling to pay day every 2 weeks. You ask yourself, “What am I doing wrong? Why is it so hard for me to save?” Every financial decision you make is based from your perspective on money, and sometimes that perspective can be naive or incomplete.

At times you may wonder how (and why) other people are capable of such discipline and restraint. You can be too. All it takes is a fresh take on money and how to handle it properly. See if the following phrases reflect the way you currently handle your money. If they do, then maybe it’s time to shake things up a little.

“I prioritize now over later”

Short term vs long term–this is the financial dilemma we all face sooner or later. When it comes to planning a budget, a huge chunk of your cash flow probably goes into your current–more short term–needs instead of long-term savings/investments. After all, units in an investment fund are less tangible than, let’s say, a new pair of shoes or a handbag. This can result to a cycle of impulsive spending that can haunt you paycheck to paycheck.

How to turn it around: Set up a routine to facilitate saving. For every paycheck, set aside a fixed proportion or amount for your savings account (a good way to start is a 70-30 spending to saving ratio). Yes, that means that you shouldn’t deprive yourself; overspending is bad but underspending can also be dangerous. Remember, there’s nothing scarier than a strong itch to spend and a fresh credit card.

Pro tip: We recommend automating your savings by scheduling a recurring fund transfer from your main account to your savings account.

“My expenses become relative to what I earn”

Getting an increase in salary means that you have more purchasing power than before. When this happens, you suddenly have enough cash to buy the things you want. Then it becomes worse: the more you earn, the more you spend, and the cycle continues.

How to turn it around: A bump in salary usually warrants an adjustment in your budget. If possible, allot your additional cash flow to meaningful expenses. These could be purchases that will pay off in the long run, additional units of investment, or advance payment for your bills. You should keep your spending-saving proportion the same as before the salary bump, or better yet, allot more to long-term financial instruments.

“I always use up my bonuses”

Whenever we get a financial windfall, we somehow find ways to use it up before it has even warmed up to our bank accounts. Whether it’s a bonus, a seasonal boost in profit to your business, or petty cash from a generous relative, extra cash could always go towards something more meaningful. Building an emergency fund, opening a time deposit account, or even investing in a UITF–these are just some of the most practical alternatives.

Read more: What Should I Do with My Bonus

How to turn it around: Setting your whole bonus aside might be too painful, especially if you’ve been anticipating it in order to buy something. To keep your sanity, make sure to direct at least half of it to practical use then use the remainder to satisfy your spending urges.

“I forget how it feels like to be broke”

Let’s face it, whenever we get our salary, we feel like kings and queens. While that thinking isn’t necessarily bad, the attitude of going for broke every single paycheck is a sign of unhealthy financial attitude. The rush might feel good at first but the incoming onslaught of regret (and unpaid bills) should be enough of an incentive to stop this cycle.

How to turn it around: Aside from the aforementioned tips on portioning your salary, you should set clear, attainable savings goals. These goals could be short, medium, or long term. It’s also a good idea to set up timed reminders before or on the day of your pay. At worst, it helps you reevaluate the worthiness of your spend and at best, it could help you save up for bigger–more long term–goals.

“I easily give in to (peer) pressure”

Aside from the ever-present feeling of getting the latest and greatest, you might have a penchant for giving in to the wants of your lavish acquaintances. Owe it to the sense of community and belongingness, not saying no will eventually drain the life out of your wallet.

Read more: 4 Tips in Hanging Out with Expensive Friends

How to turn it around: When you’re faced with overwhelming peer pressure, ask yourself over and over “Can I really afford this?” or “Can I use this money better?” As with all purchases, think of the costs and benefits and factor in your overarching budget. If the quality and use of the product/service more than compensates its cost, then go for it.

The bottom line: Don’t look at saving as if it’s an insurmountable task; saving can be easy as long as you have the right mentality. The challenge lies in finding the balance between spending and saving. Just remember that no matter how big or small the amount is, the important thing is that you took the initiative to save, and that you are keeping with it until you reach your goal.

After a few credit mistakes, getting your credit score back up to a point where you can qualify for good rates on loans is a difficult chore. Often, it can take years to get your score back up to where you want it to be after major mistakes such as a bankruptcy or car repossession. Fortunately, there are ways to start improving your credit that can speed up the process of credit repair. In fact, many people are surprised to discover that a credit card can help them to improve their credit score.

The bureaus that compute credit scores tend to keep their exact formulas an industry secret, but there are a lot of people who have made some good guesses about how they are computed. Factors such as the length of your credit history are important, but the majority of your score depends on how often you pay your bills on time and how much credit you have been extended by other banks.

Pay Your Bills on Time

When you’re trying to improve your credit score, one of the best things you can do is pay your bills on time. This includes utility bills, loans, and credit cards. Simply making the minimum payment on your credit cards by the due date each month ensures that points won’t be deducted from your score. As time passes, past credit mistakes will fall off of your report, and the lack of other bad information will cause your score to go up.

It is important to note, however, that paying your credit card bill on time will not increase your score quickly. Paying your bills on time will typically improve your score slightly every year. If you need to improve it faster, you’ll need to focus on other ways of improving your credit.

Understand Credit Extended to Credit Used Ratio

Banks are more likely to trust people who have already had credit extended to them, so a big part of your credit score is based on how much credit banks have given you and how much you have already used. A new credit card, even if it has a small credit limit, increases your credit score because it increases the overall amount of credit that a bank has given to you.

Of course, the trick is to not use all of your available credit. In fact, many financial experts believe that using about 20% of your available credit is the upper limit of what you want to spend. This shows lenders that you are only using a small portion of the credit that other banks believe you deserve.

As an added bonus, as your score slowly increases from your higher available credit line and your on-time payments, you’ll probably see an increase in the amount of available credit you have on your credit cards. As your credit limit increases, your credit score will continue to increase, allowing you to repair your credit even faster.

Getting a divorce is the end of one chapter of your life and the start of a new journey of your own. This new journey alone will be faced with many new challenges, but there is one factor of your well-being that tends to get overlooked: rebuilding or repairing your credit. It is a sad fact that many people emerge from a divorce with either no credit history of their own or flaws that have to be mended before they can be deemed worthy by a creditor. To help you get your credit score on track, here are four tips to rebuild your credit after a divorce.

1. Get familiar with your credit report.

A credit report is fairly easy to get and gives you a detailed outline of where you stand as far as your credit is concerned. Find out your credit score and get familiar with what your score means. Look at the creditors listed and accounts you have open, paid off, and in collections. Understanding all of the factors that are affecting your score is your first line of defense to rebuild and repair your credit. Be on the lookout for things like disputes and collections that can have a negative effect on your score.

2. Take care of name changes early on.

Some consumers assume that when they change their legal name after a divorce, they get to start fresh with a new credit history, but this is not the case. If you will be changing your legal name because you are getting a divorce, such as reverting back to your maiden name, it will be important to also let creditors know that your name has changed so they can update this in their systems and the changes will be reflected on your credit report. If there are name discrepancies in your credit report, it can inhibit your ability to get a loan later on. Having your name changed early after the divorce will help to avoid any confusion as you open new accounts, such as utility accounts that can come along with getting a new place.

3. Tend to joint accounts listed on your credit report.

Coming out of a marriage can mean that you have joint accounts still open that have to be taken care of. If these accounts are not resolved, your credit score can be impacted by how your spouse handles them, which can be a really bad situation if they refuse to make the payments. If there are accounts open jointly that need to be resolved, you may consider refinancing in only your name if possible or at least taking care of the payments yourself. Additionally, joint credit cards should be closed to get rid of the possibility of future unexpected charges.

Even though starting over after a divorce also means building your financial reputation, with a little attention and effort, you can see positive changes in your credit score. If you need help rebuilding your credit score, reach out to us at Build My Scores for advice.

Money shouldn’t be the cause of your relationship falling apart — But it can be! Research shows that financial issues play a hefty role in a couple’s marriage satisfaction – or lack thereof. One of the top reasons cited for divorce in the United States, the money you have (or do not have) can have a big effect on how happy your home will be today, tomorrow and in the years to come.

There is no doubt about it, sooner or later, every couple fights about money. That’s normal. He wants to buy a new car. She thinks a trip to the Bahamas is a priority. Wanting to enjoy nice things isn’t usually bad. But, when normal disagreements over money become a wedge between two partners, it is time to take a closer look at how you both view your finances and the role it plays in your marriage.

Do You Understand Your Individual Money Habits?

Everyone looks at money differently. Some of us are natural spenders; while others are thrifty savers. Neither attitude is right – or wrong. But, boy, when you put the two together in a relationship, there sure can be fireworks!

Instead of letting a different point of view about money come between you, it is possible to use those differences to create a stronger financial life together. A spender can help a saver enjoy experiences more; while a saver can help a spender learn to balance buying with security. The problem is most couples never take the time to understand what drives their partner’s views on money. Once they do, it is much easier to find ways to balance both of your money styles.

What makes John so eager to spend … spend … spend … and what gives Sarah the need to save … save … save? It all has to do with how they look at money. Spenders usually look at money as a way to enjoy life or show off. They concentrate more on today, with little concern about tomorrow. Savers are planners. They like to plan for the future and look at money as a safety net. Without money in the bank, they feel like circumstances will control their life, and that makes them feel insecure and uneasy.

What makes people look at money in a certain way? Here are a few factors:

  • Our Culture. The world tells us what to consider important. If we fall for all of the advertising, we will likely become a spender.
  • The Emotional Impact of Money. Money can be an emotional trigger for many people. Do you or your partner overspend to hide your feelings? Feel loved and accepted? Find self-worth? Understanding your emotional attachment with money can help you break bad spending habits.
  • The Need to Show off. Do either of you sue things to show other show successful you are. Understanding this need to showcase your success can help you better understand those excessive purchases.

No one’s financial personality is all right, or all wrong. It is usually a mixture of good and bad traits. That’s what can give money do much power in your life and your relationship. If you try to change your partner’s spending habits without understanding their view of money, tensions will rise.

Instead of trying to make your partner view money (and use it), the way you do, why not take the best you have to offer, and the best your mate has to offer and create a brand new financial personality that fits you both as a couple? No matter what positive (or negative) money messages you’ve been confronted with in the past, remember, it is possible to work toward a common financial goal. The key to breaking the bonds money has on your relationship is the willingness to face your own views and make the changes necessary for a more satisfying – and blissful – life together.

You’ve read the reviews, been from one showroom to another, and did a few test drives. This is it! You’re ready to buy a new car. All you need to do is pay for it…but that’s easier said than done.

Read more: Auto Tax Reform: What It Means for Car Buyers

Choosing the best car loan can be stressful with the abundance of options offered by banks and dealers. Here are a few tips and tricks to help you get the right one for you.

Review your credit report

Lenders turn away irresponsible borrowers when they smell one, and it’s easy to do just that by looking at your credit score. You’ve come this far so be sure not to let a bad credit report stop you from driving your dream car. Be sure to tidy things up before submitting your car loan application.

A high credit score can also help you get better car loan rates! Here’s our in-depth guide: The 5 Easiest Ways to Improve Your Credit Score

Compare options

Shopping doesn’t end after choosing your car; your car loan options need some attention too.

Many people go directly to the dealer, assuming that they can work out the loan without knowing they can find better offers by looking around. Research which car loan best fits your budget and lifestyle.

Don’t forget to check if a lender is running a promotion for their car loan offer. These promos can net you more value from your loan and save you a ton when they add up. For example, Security Bank offers free 1 year life insurance to their clients who apply for a Security Bank auto loan.

Decide on the right loan term

Should you opt for a long-term loan with lower monthly payments? Or a shorter one by shelling out more cash in the short-term? It all depends on your financial capacity.

Long term loans may be tempting because of lower monthly payments but they also have higher interest rates. They also give you more room to maneuver in terms of cash. Plus, you can make other investments or maybe put your extra cash in a high-yielding savings account to offset–and even earn more–from your set-up.

On the other hand, a shorter loan frees you from your obligation sooner, allowing you to take on more debt for other ventures. And for some, having that peace of mind is a clincher, sans the higher monthly installments. If you’re strapped for cash, this option may not be advisable.

You can estimate how much you can borrow with our Auto Loan Calculator below:

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Find a credible lender

No one wants to make a deal with people you cannot trust–especially when applying for a car loan. A trustworthy lender is crucial as it will make the entire process smoother. It also gives you peace of mind, and that is priceless when dealing with your long-term finances. Ask yourself, are they reliable? How well do you know the institution? Is it a one-stop-shop? Are they processing your loan faster than others?

Going for an award-wining bank is always a wise option. Security Bank, the reigning Bank of the Year-Philippines of The Banker Magazine, offers a car loan option that comes with free 1 year life insurance. You can even get approved in as fast as 1 banking day. Check out their offer here.

Read carefully before signing

Don’t get too excited when you receive your car loan approval. Make sure that you have thoroughly read and analyzed the contract before signing. Make sure your lender explains the terms and conditions stated on the contract before inking down anything.

Check the prepayment penalties, variable interest rate, guaranteed auto protection, annual percentage rate, the total amount of payments, and so on. Don’t be afraid to ask questions if anything is unclear. This is a big purchase, and you do not want anything to go wrong.

Lastly, it’s important to know your rights as a borrower of any loan. In the Philippines, we have the Truth in Lending Act (RA 3765), which protects a borrower from any hidden charges.

Your credit score is a crucial aspect of your financial profile – it provides information about your eligibility to qualify for a mortgage, credit card, job, rental home, business loan and vehicle. Surprisingly, many of us remain oblivious of our credit score until we are denied a mortgage, quoted a high interest rate on an auto loan or disqualified from our dream job.

This is why you need to keep a close check on your credit report. It is essential to be aware of your credit score and learn how to improve it. Federal laws entitle you to check your credit report for free from any of the major credit bureaus (Equifax, TransUnion and Experian), once a year. You are also eligible to request an additional report if you are denied credit.

Credit Score vs. Credit Report

Credit Score

Your credit score, also known as Fair Isaac Corporation (FICO) score, is a three digit number that shows your creditworthiness. Ranging from 300 to 850, your credit score helps lenders to determine your ability to repay credit; in this regard, the primary score issued by FICO is considered to be the most accurate assessment. In addition, the credit score issued by each of the three major credit bureaus may have some disparity.

Credit Report

A credit report, on the other hand, contains your credit history and helps in analyzing the components that determine your credit score. It is suggested that you regularly check your credit report in order to identify any discrepancy and get it rectified at the earliest. Errors in your credit report may happen frequently and can wreck your credit score.

Tips to Monitor your Credit Report

Examine your Credit Score

The main rule of thumb is to check your credit report from the credit bureaus, at least once every four months. For instance, you can check Experian in January, TransUnion in May and Equifax in September. The bottom line is to keep a regular check on your credit report in order to detect any discrepancy, at the earliest. Check the accuracy of all credit information available in your credit report, verify your payment history, account numbers and balances, ensuring there are no errors or discrepancies.

Compare Reports

Compare the information that is provided by each of the credit reporting bureaus. It might happen that all the creditors may not report their information to all three bureaus. Hence why the information provided by each of them may differ.

Take a smart approach and responsibly use your credit. Proactive monitoring of your credit report is an effective solution to keep your finances in control and achieve your financial goals.

Your credit score is the most crucial indicator of your financial strength and to a large extent, financial freedom.  It is the cumulative summary of how you’ve handled your debts, payments, income, monetary accounts and other financial dealings.

What Makes Credit Score Significant?

Your credit score does not affect just one or two aspects of your financial life. It  determines what  interest rate you pay, how much of a loan you are qualified to borrow, how easily you get a job, rental home, phone contract, and essentially, your general social standing.

Five Ways a Good Credit Score Makes Your Life Better

Given below are five of the most glaring benefits of a good credit score –

1. Low Interest Rates

The interest rate you pay on loans increases if your credit score is low.  In addition, the interest rates on credit card or mortgage could also be lower.

2. Simpler Loan Application Process

You may qualify for bank loans with a good credit score. That alone makes the process simpler and more straightforward. A shabby credit history is likely to delay the process and may affect your chances of qualifying for certain loans. If you have an important investment upcoming, like a mortgage loan, a good credit score will allow you to qualify for premium rates. Your options are far more limited, and the rates could be much higher, if your credit score is poor.

3. Higher Limits

If your borrowing capacity has dipped significantly, the simplest way to increase it is by improving your credit score. When lenders and financial institutions see that you’re reliable, they would agree to lend you more money.

4. Favorable Negotiating Power

With the backing of good credit, you can negotiate interest rates from any lender. You can even cite the low interest offers you’ve already received based on your good credit score to third parties and pay even less interest.

5. Less Insurance Premiums

A lot of people pay heavy insurance premiums for auto, health and life insurance. Good credit helps you get competitive premium rates, especially in the case of auto loans.

According to a news story published by CNN Money in 2013, a man could not find a company to hire him for over a year due to his low credit score. Brian Larsen had over 14 years of banking experience and multiple recommendations from his previous employers under his belt when he relocated to Surprise, Arizona. Regardless, he still couldn’t secure a job.

Brian never thought that a poor credit score could have such an impact on his career. His credit score had taken a hit after he had made four late mortgage payments and went through a short sale during the time of financial crisis.

There are a number of people like Brian who have little or no idea that a poor credit score can jeopardize their career or make their financial decisions go haywire. This is where Build My Scores can help. We have expertise in credit restoration to improve your credit score and help you achieve your financial goals. After restoring your credit score, we will also educate you about the factors that can bring down your credit score in future and how to avoid them.

Factors that Harm your Credit Score

Closing Unused Credit Card Accounts

About 30% of your FICO score and VantageScore depends on your debt utilization ratio. It has been estimated that people with a good credit score can keep their utilization under 30%. Closing out unused credit card accounts can increase your credit utilization ratio, which in turn will bring your credit score down.

Unpaid Bills

Unpaid bills can make a credit score plunge dramatically. There are certain bills that people treat differently because they seem miniscule. Any kind of unpaid bill such as parking tickets, library fines, lapsed gym membership, or tanning salon memberships will have the same impact on your credit score as your home lease payment. There are chances that the delinquency will end up in collections and also reflect on your credit report.

Avoiding Credit

If you think having no debt or credit cards will ensure a good credit score, then think again. You need to use an appropriate mix of credit in order to build a good credit score, whether credit cards, car loans, utility bills, etc. Consumers who refrain from using any credit products may end up with a lower credit rating.

Credit Repair Process

We, at Build My Score, use a multiple-phase credit audit process to remove inaccurate items from your credit report. The first step is to thoroughly research and investigate the information provided by credit and collection agencies.

We audit the credit bureaus and collection agencies using 400 different custom letters. Creditors and the credit bureaus are obligated to produce evidence within a reasonable period of time, which is generally 30 days. The credit bureaus are required to prove the information within this time limit. If they are unable to validate it, the items with discrepancies must be removed. We execute this process along with many others to ensure your credit is as healthy as possible!

Let’s be real. Gift-giving can be tedious. Thinking about what that person likes, scouting for items, and looking for the best deals can be a lot to take in, especially when that someone you’re giving it to is dear to you.

Buying a gift for your dad is a whole different ballgame. To give you some options, here’s a list of deals and discounts that could get you closer to finding the perfect Father’s Day present.

If you’re a bride-and-groom-to-be, tying the knot in this age of extravagant weddings (Google:  Harry and Megan) can be quite the feat–emotionally and financially.

Read more: What are Millennials Doing With Their Money

Because not everyone has the coffers of the British monarchy at their disposal, we’re here to show you how to have your very own royal wedding without breaking the bank.

1. Set a Realistic Budget

First things first, set a budget. This will give you a clear picture of how much you’ll spend so you can prevent your total expenses from ballooning. If you’re planning to get the cash you need through a personal loan, get pre-approved as early as you can.

Weddings on a budget are tricky, but this is a challenge well worth the time and effort. List down your different expense categories and then allocate a budget per category. Knowing where your money will go can help you carve out some wiggle room.

Here are some expense categories to consider:

  • Venue
  • Catering
  • Drinks
  • Bridal gown
  • Dresses (and suits) for the entourage
  • Bridal car and transportation
  • Wedding photo and video services
  • Souvenirs
  • Invitations
  • Flowers and decor

2. Pick an Off-Season Date

June and December weddings are usually more expensive. If possible, try to pick a date that’s significant to both of you but outside those months. If you really feel strongly about a June/December nuptial, then do it early. Like hotel and airfare, wedding booking fees skyrocket as the date draws nearer.

Actually, if you’re not in any rush, schedule your wedding at least a year ahead. This gets you more time to get your cash flow in order. More time to plan also means more time to find the best deals and wedding suppliers.

3. Go Traditional for Wedding Invitations

You’d be surprised how many couples make dedicated websites to shout out their wedding to the world. Don’t get me wrong, a website is great for keeping guests updated, but traditional wedding invitations are still more elegant, tangible–and more affordable.

Customize your invitations according to the theme of your wedding. A regal touch? That’s easy. Consider sealing the envelope with a customized monogram wax seal of your initials. For maximum fun and savings, make it a  DIY project with your partner.

4. Let Your Bridal Gown Mesmerize Everyone

All eyes are on you.

My tip here is simple: exhaust your options and use your connections (In Tagalog: “kapalan ang mukha”). If you know designers, let them know you’re getting hitched and add them to the guest list, maybe even a bit of special treatment? They might design you a dress for free!

If you’re out of options, you can always cut out bridal magazines or show photos of your pegs. Having a clear vision of the dress will make it easier for the designer–saving you some valuable time.

5. DIY your Prenup Photos

There was a time when the term “prenup” primarily referred to prenuptial agreements. Nowadays, it’s common for the bride and groom to hire professional photographers to take prenuptial photos and videos. Just like invitations, you can save a ton by doing it yourself!

This lets you have a bigger budget for the wedding photographer and videographer (without a prenup shoot). Look for packages that only include the same-day shoot and edit.

6. Pick a Venue Carefully

Choose a venue that’s right for your theme and the number of guests.

The theme and ambiance of your wedding greatly depend on the venue, so schedule one whole day (or more) for canvassing. List them all down so you can weigh the pros and cons of each, both for the price and the overall feel. If you haven’t already, you should also make a spreadsheet to track all of your expenses.