Decorative Art & Crafts was a division of Art & Design was one of a hand full of major disciplines I was immersed in as an entrepreneur. I thought that this creative endeavour had come to an end. I discovered otherwise.
Begun in the early 1990’s, Decorative Art & Crafts lasted until very early in the 21st Century. Several other ventures intervenes. Then about 3 months ago, in the beginning of the scorching summer of 2018, I resumed indulging in this passion. Since it was too hot for me to engage in outdoor activities, this was the perfect hobby for indoors. I took of like a rocket bound to experience the heavens. And I have been doing just that.
Decorative Art with A Twist
Originally Decorative Painting by Alison Gilbert, my decorative tools were primer, paint and a protective coating. In revisiting this discipline, I introduced some new tools, duck tape and contact paper.
‘Recycled with Love Collectibles’ Revived
The decorative tools are the same and then some. Previous collectables only had primer, paint and a protective coating. Now, I have introduced all different kinds of trinkets and accessories. So far these have included:
• cloth flowers
• glitter medium
• contact paper
• broken jewelry pieces
Making them is really fun and the results are very exciting. Look below for the results. There will be more to show here as pieces are completed.
Being seniors enhances our opportunities for savvy shopping savings. As a senior, if you like travelling locally by car to go shopping, these suggestions should be appealing. The following examples are where we shop. But these days, I suspect that many suburban areas would have these or similar ways to take advantage of saving shopping savings.
Compare is another terrific supermarket that has a lot of Latino foods to cater to the demographics of the immediate neighborhood. The prices are good and I love the variety of foods. Seniors get 10% off today.
Target offers 5% off everyday with their credit or debit card. Since we are in the neighborhood on Thursdays, this is the day to go here. Staples is also right nearby so this is a good day to go here too. We get 5% off with their credit card everyday.
There are many other local savvy shopping savings opportunities everyday. Besides Target, here are a few of them:
• CVS offers 30 to 40% off on a regular basis. This is one of the few stores that I pay attention to coupons. It really pays off. They email me and send me postcards to notify me of sales. It makes it very easy to shop and save here.
• Staples offers us 5% off with every purchase made with our Staples credit card.
• Wild by Nature offers 10% off to seniors. If I shop here often enough, I get another quarterly coupon.
• Michaels Stores, Art Supplies, Crafts and Framing has coupons every week. We actually get notification of them by email. Even though this store is not on our regular shopping route, my husband likes to take a short trip to Michaels for his week art supply needs.
We will either include these everyday savings stores into our shopping routine near their location(s) or make a fun trip on another day or the weekend. In the case of CVS, there are five stores in the areas where we do our other shopping. Therefore, we have the luxury of going to any one of them no matter where else we need to shop.
CONCLUSION: CONVENIENCE BUT CONFLICT AS WELL
I like to shop local and am a supporter of small local shops. But our financial circumstances require that we save money and shop frugally. It is very difficult to find a balance between the two systems, supporting small local businesses and shopping where we can get savvy shopping savings.
With the exception of Long Island Cares, Inc. which is a food bank that supports us, it seems that our finances dictate our choices. But they do not dictate our values. In addition, the direction that business has gone in makes it difficult to shop primarily at small local stores. So it would seem that practicing savvy shopper savings is in direct conflict with shopping small local stores. Or is it? Has anyone found their situation to be otherwise? Here’s what’s been in the media about this issue.
The other day I got an email from one of the credit card related websites I subscribe to notifying me of a credit card cancellation. I was shocked and in disbelief. What account was this referring to and why, I wondered? It referred to an account with CBNA which meant nothing to me. In fact, I am not even sure how I uncovered what account it was. The next step was figuring out why it had been cancelled due to my unblemished credit report.
Uncovering the Mystery
The email I received had two links which allowed me to figure out what was going on. The first link was the highlighted words, ‘contact your creditor or file a dispute’. The second link was a button, verify the details.
The First Clue
The first link in the email led me to this post, Why Is My Account Reported As Closed? Scanning the post, I noticed only one possible reason for an account being closed, inactivity. The next thing was to find out which account.
The Second Clue
The second link, the verify the details button revealed the issue. It showed me the accounts I had that had been closed. Only one applied, the CBNA Account closed on March 23, 2018. This still did not make sense to me. Therefore I decided I needed to speak with the bank that closed my account. Consequently, that was my next move.
The Phone Call to CBNA
It was confirmed that due to my inactivity my account had been closed. I had not received any of the warnings the bank swore they had sent. As a result, I became rather annoyed. But because it was written in the original contract of terms I had with them, they were not obligated to do anything besides close the account, They refused to reopen it or contact Transunion so that my credit score would be be affected negatively.
From this credit card cancellation experience, I learned three crucial things, about the process, the reasons behind it and how to avoid it in the future:
• Banks have to pay to notify the credit reporting agencies of your status on open accounts whether you are using them or not.
• If you are not using your account, the credit line the bank has extended to you is wasted. The bank would rather give it to someone else who will use it.
• When I make up My Credit Card Maintenance System Spreadsheet, I need to include this detail of the usage terms contract.
Had I known this detail about my account, I would have simply made a small charge to keep my account open. This is especially relevant because I did not know it. An account was closed on me. But in the end, I learned a very valuable lesson. Read the terms of my credit card contracts and know how often I need to use a credit card to keep the account open.
Containers for growing and display microgreens are limited only by one’s imagination. This post will focus primarily on two types, teacup microgreens and decorative containers microgreens.
Teacup microgreen containers remind me of teacup breeds of dogs. They are tiny and adorable. They are a great way to display and introduce microgreens as gifts.
DECORATIVE CONTAINERS MICROGREENS
Microgreens in a decorative container make a really nice gift and are very decorative just to grow at home. The below photos are from Maggie’s Microgreens, a company that offers this kind of product with all the items you need.
You can get a fair idea of how to grow microgreens from this kit. It has everything you need to start small. If you appetite for them grows, and it will, then you will want to move on to something much bigger. In the meantime, this is a good place to start.
I love the flower pot that Maggie’s Microgreens supplies. When you go on her Etsy.com site, you will find other decorative containers in addition to the adorable purple flower pot.
Once all the steps are completed, you have an adorable, edible mini garden. After you have eaten them or given them as a gift, you will want to move on to move flavors of and bigger containers for your own use. In addition, this type of item is a great gift to introduce this teacup sized portion of microgreen to others.
LEARNING MORE ABOUT MICROGREENS
Because these edible superfoods are so easy to grow and healthy to eat, I want to guide you to additional information. Because microgreens have become so popular, there is an abundance of information online. As a result, I want to mention a few sources that have been especially helpful to me. Most noteworthy is The Micro Gardener.
Probably the most educational route I have found is joining groups that share my interest. Especially relevant is Sprouts and Microgreens!
Consequently, there are many paths to the same goal, growing microgreens. From creating a teacup microgreen splash to start to digging into large trays as a daily consumer, it is almost a certainty that this is only this information is only the beginning. Therefore, learn as much as you can. Experiment as much as possible by getting your hands in the soil. In conclusion, have fun because this is a great hobby, healthy food and most of all, you never know where you can go with it.
Green heroes loom large in the world of animation. First of all, middle aged people will remember The Incredible Hulk® as one of the more popular ones. Furthermore, younger folks will easily relate to the loveable, animated Shrek® as one of today’s best known characters. Consequently, both are beloved, admired and influential green heroes.
Less well known are the real world influential green heroes. Most noteworthy are people who have started sustainable projects and created productive, profitable businesses. Some are green in familiar ways. Others follow my broader definition developed in the upcoming ebook, Mastering the Art of Green. Hence including:
• a focus for individual survival and profitabiity
• an inventive and untraditional successful enterprise
• something for community well being
• solutions to world hunger and poverty
As a result, with growing green consciousness, poverty and scarcity will decrease. This will be due to the tangible results from green thinking and green resources. Most of all, the global crisis of hunger can be impacted in a positive way. Here lies the area of my greatest concern.
Consequently, we want to pay close attention to such green thinking and the results of these green heroes. Ideas and people like them will mold our future and probably change our world for the better. Towards this end, I have included several green heroes from a variety of venues in this post. In addition, it is my hope that their projects, the snapshots of their work and the details about them in the Sources & Resources section at the end of the post will serve to inspire all of us.
FROM CLEARANCE TO CASH: RYAN GRANT
FARMERS CUT PILOT PROGRAM: MARK KORZILIUS
“You can probably guess by now, that we’re not an ordinary farm. Originally a farm was a place where people celebrated nature, enjoyed pure, good food. All around the world harvesting was a special occasion where people came together as a community to enjoy their gratitude for good food.
“Now, imagine a world of not just one harvest cycle, but many. We are talking of up to 20. Imagine the many pleasant occasions we can come together and enjoy pure good food! Together, we will bring back the joy of food and our farm will be home to that feeling and a place for you – the avid food lover.” Mark Korzilius, Farmers Cut
GOTHAM GREENS: URBAN ROOFTOP GREENHOUSES
Viraj Puri, Co-Founder and CEO
Eric Haley, Co-Founder and CFO
Jennifer Nelkin Frymark, Chief Agriculture Officer
“‘Gotham Greens’ pesticide-free produce is grown using ecologically sustainable methods in technologically-sophisticated, 100% clean energy powered, climate-controlled urban rooftop greenhouses. Gotham Greens provides its diverse retail, restaurant, and institutional customers with reliable, year-round, local supply of produce grown under the highest standards of food safety and environmental sustainability. The company has built and operates over 170,000 square feet of technologically advanced, urban rooftop greenhouses across 4 facilities in New York City and Chicago. Gotham Greens was founded in 2009 in Brooklyn, New York and is privately held.” Gotham Greens
GROWING CITIES MOVIE: URBAN FARMING IN AMERICA
A documentary that examines the role of urban farming in America and asks how much power it has to revitalize our cities and change the way we eat. This film is based on a 13,000 mile trip around the United States researching answers to this question.
“In their search for answers, filmmakers Dan Susman and Andrew Monbouquette take a road trip and meet the men and women who are challenging the way this country grows and distributes its food, one vacant city lot, rooftop garden, and backyard chicken coop at a time. Join them as they discover that good food isn’t the only crop these urban visionaries are harvesting. They’re producing stronger and more vibrant communities, too.” From their website
JIM WANG: WALLET HACKS
First of all, Wallet Hacks is an internet encyclopedia of financially green ideas. Jim Wang writes about untraditional tools to save money, from everyday items to phenomenal travel tips.
He is constantly amazing me with his suggestions and data. As a result, I cannot applaud him enough as a green hero whose research is invaluable and needs to be studied. Almost any area of life that you want to save money on can be found in his writings.
KATHY TERRILL: I LOVE SELLING ON EBAY
A master ebay seller, Kathy Terrill presents all kinds of useful and fascinating information about selling on ebay. The inspiration for this video was a presentation for members of Sarah Mueller’s Declutter My Home, Facebook group.
PASCAL BAUDAR: URBAN OUTDOOR SKILLS
This man is a wild foods artisan. I am in awe of the delicacies he makes from foraged as well as commercial ingredients.
TABLE TOP FARMING: INDOOR FARM TO TABLE FOOD
“Wish you had the space to grow your own food? Wish you could be in your garden even in winter? Table top farming is your solution for both. You can grow healthy greens, herbs, sprouts, vegetables and even fruit indoors, all year round.
“As a result of using growing techniques like microgreens, hydroponics, aquaponics and aeroponics, you can do your own ‘table top farming’ indoor and out. This page shares my experience doing ‘Table Top Farming’ for fun and a source of nutritious, fresh food.” From the Facebook page
Our journey became one of survival. That became our priority. We had to learn to live all over again under very different financial circumstances. We explored many different avenues and began to build our financial survival tool kit.
OUR FINANCIAL SURVIVAL TOOL KIT
Building our kit involved many lifestyle changes. We went from a two bedroom apartment to subsidized senior housing. Access to food was a big challenge. Instead of the opportunity to purchase expensive, organic foods and eat out on occasion, we had to depend on the generosity of others and the government. Food pantries and food stamps are crucial financial survival tools. But they may be hard to swallow.
We went from middle class comfort to former middle class frugal living. It was a huge adjustment. We explored many tools that didn’t work for us. Things like couponing and taking surveys. Many more thrifty tools are mentioned in the first ebook. Eventually we found one tool that not only helped us survive but also became profitable. That tool is credit cards.
USING CREDIT CARDS FOR SURVIVAL AND PROFIT
Let me make very clear right from the start that our use of credit cards has involved a very responsible set of guidelines. We pay all our bills on time and in full. Our credit rating fluctuates between 775 and 800 depending upon which credit reporting agency you ask.
Credit cards have given us a financial cushion between sign up promotional bonuses and monthly cash rewards. My refinement of credit cards as a financial survival tool lasted about eight months. What I have learned, and continue to learn about credit cards is fascinating and extremely informative. I have my accounts charted with spreadsheets for each month. Read My Credit Card Accounts Maintenance System for the details of my system.
In less than a year, I had become sophisticated in the financially lucrative use of the credit card benefits tools. All of a sudden, the additional hefty promotional signup bonus credit card memberships applications began receiving denial letters. My stellar tool of acquiring credit cards with promotional sign up bonuses of $100-$200 had lost its winning streak. Clearly, it was time to rest that tool, re-examine some of the other financial survival tools that I had discarded in the past and to research additional new tools. I was at a loss and needed new financial fertilizer.
MASTERING THE ART OF GREEN
Mastering the art of green is a process. For me, it has involved taking stepping backwards to get a different, larger view on what ‘green’ means. It can refer to money. It can refer to food, lush grassy fields, innocence and inexperience.
Sure enough, once I stepped back and started to look at green in a new way, as fertility and productivity, new tools started to sprout. I started growing food indoors calling it, Table Top Farming. I am growing microgreen in soil and hydroponics in water.
This project is of major importance to us since healthy, live food sources can be scarce for seniors on fixed incomes. Food pantries tend to offer the lowest quality packaged/processed food. The SNAP (food stamp) program provides a miniscule amount of money to supplement nutritious food. So growing one’s own live, local greens can be better than money in one’s pocket.
RECONSIDERING COUPONS, STORE SALES AND SELLING SITES
Coupons and other money saving programs do have their value. They are not as lucrative as credit card sign up promotional bonuses. But what is? There again, when I took a step back to get a better perspective on what made sense for me to pursue, I found many options.
Decluttering, Sarah Mueller style can provide lots of potential items you no longer need and want to sell. The above video is from a workshop she did with an expert at selling stuff. Two of the most popular selling sites are Ebay and Etsy. I have not sold on Ebay. I do have an Etsy store, Tin Can Ali. It displays some of my painted items for fun. I have not really tried to sell anything. But Ebay can be a great place to sell things especially if you watch the Kathy Terrill videos from I Love To Be Selling.
As you can see, the possibilities are endless. Prioritize your options. Find what is most beneficial and takes the least time to execute it. New savings hacks are invented all the time. Be resourceful. Do the research. Continue to read my and other blog posts for the latest information.
Have you ever gotten one of these ‘Facebook Page LIKE’ requests that goes something like, “I LIKED your page. Now LIKE my page”? I find these requests very frustrating and a waste of time. Worst of all, the request is an illustration of a total lack of understanding of how social media works and what a great marketing tools it offers.
Social Media Skills
Unskilled social media users think that the rules of salesmanship and engagement do not apply with social media. Because the medium of contact has changed and seems to have a veil of anonymity, they think they can be impertinent and request something that they have not earned. What they have not earned is the privilege of being ‘LIKED’ by a prospective customer or potential colleague. In addition, they do not know what to do with a Facebook Page LIKE, how to use social media to get business from it and get it in droves.
Would a salesperson walk into a store and demand that a business owner carry his product? Would a business owner demand the same from a potential customer? Of course not. In a face to face situation, a smart salesperson would never do that. But that is what it is like to say to someone on their Facebook page, “I LIKED your page. So now LIKE mine”. At the very least the protocol of salesmanship needs to apply. This includes an introduction such as, “How do you do, my name is so and so. I am interested in knowing more about your business or I’m just looking, thank you.” At this point, the real drive of what social media can accomplish have not even been put into gear.
Depending on the response of the business owner, a salesperson would take his next step. He would figure out how to warm up a potential connection. He would work on engaging the other person. Where is there any attempt to nurture a connection or to engage with the demand, “I LIKED your page. Now LIKE my page.” There is none. In fact, this approach may have the opposite effect and put off the person or business asked to reciprocate.
There is another very important reason. In fact, it may be the most important one. Asking for and getting LIKES do not make a lasting impression with a prospect. It will unlikely improve or increase one’s business. In fact, getting a like is only the key to unlock the door of social media’s magic.
It’s Not Just About LIKES
In social media’s earlier days (and apparently still today), there was a limited understanding about the role of getting ‘LIKES’. Social media is about making connections, engaging and building relationships not just exchanging ‘LIKES’. It takes much more than just gathering LIKES on the road to increasing business. I would rather build ten meaningful relationships online with other business owners or potential customers than have 100 perfunctory ‘LIKES’. But you don’t have to choose between the two options if you know how to use social media.
In the long run, business will grow from growing relationships. It has always been this way. Today, savvy social media users know how to reach so many people and they don’t use the come-on line, ‘I LIKED you. Now LIKE me’. If one handles oneself social media professionally, one will never say, “I LIKED your page. Now LIKE my page.” A LIKE will be a natural part of the relationships one works to establish with the bells and whistles that social media offers and requires to do its job.
There are programs and apps specifically designed to use the LIKES and ‘click throughs’ one does get to take a prospect to the next step of engagement and sales. What does that require? Collecting the email addresses and other pertinent information about prospects. Offer something for free on you facebook page or a special promotion that requires a name and email address. That is where you really need to start to use the social media technology.
Take a look at Shortstack and Sumo.com These companies has comprehensive tools for turning LIKES into relationships and relationships into sales. You can also contact me in the comments section below to learn more about the right way and the wrong way to get Facebook Page LIKES and what to do with them when you get them. Future blog posts will elaborate on this topic and other facets of social media marketing.
According to Jim Wang of Wallet Hacks, millionaires tend to have 7 streams of income. To quote him, “Have you ever heard the statistic that millionaires have an average of seven streams of income? I tried to find the survey, report, or some official repeating that statistic but was unsuccessful. That said, seven sounds good to me.” His list consists of the following sources of passive income: • “Interest – from a variety of loans, either to individuals (peer to peer lending or private notes) or companies (bonds, notes) • Dividends – from investments, partnerships • Capital gains – from the sale of investments • Royalties – from products you sell or license • Rental income – from real estate • Business income – which may or may not be passive but the idea is you build something that generates income without active work, like a website or the sale of information products”
Our 7 Streams of Passive Income
Even though we are part of The Former Middle Class and were One Day From Homeless, we have 7 streams of passive income. Does this mean we are traditional millionaires? Let’s look at our sources of passive income: • Social security retirement benefits
• credit card sign up promotional rewards
• credit card cash rewards
• Assistance with housing and medical expenses
• Medicare and Medicaid
• Food stamps
• OTC card for over-the-counter medically related expenses up to $100
Are We Traditional Millionaires?
We actually have 7 streams of passive income. By definition then, we could be millionaires. But in the real monetary world, we are far from traditional millionaires. In spite of that, let’s say there is another world and another currency. It is a frugal world where large amounts of money do not define us. Our frugal living world involves: • living on a very tight budget • buying what we must • acquiring what we can without having to purchase it • being creative in making or scavenging for what we need • limiting frivolous purchases as much as possible • experiencing joy and meaning in life through activities other than consumerism and spending money as an addiction
Another Kind of Millionaire
You could say that we live in a world that is a microcosm of the mainstream financial world. Our world offers much more but in comparison to the mainstream, we do qualify to be micro millionaires. The reason we do is because we have succeeded in surviving in the miniature financial version of the middle class world we used to inhabit.
Survival comes first and we have not only managed to survive. We have become members of the group, Savvy Saving Survivalism.
It allows for most of the things that our middle class necessities allowed for but in much simpler terms and smaller quantities. In order to fit in to this new life while being comfortable in this smaller financial box, we have had to downsize our world to a minimum of material wants. We focus realistically on our material needs and away from consumerism as a lifestyle.
Nourishing Minimalism has helped a great deal. Because of these internal and external space shifts, we are finding that we now have room for many new interests and goals. Because we are not consumed by wanting lots of dollars to spend, the currency of our current lives is focusing on our dreams. We dream about the avenues we want to explore, the subjects we want to study and where serendipity might lead us going forward in our lives.
What Will the Future Bring?
I don’t know how or where we will go. But one thing I know for sure is this. We have managed to have fruitful and peaceful lives in our frugal world as micro millionaires. We have challenges even fears, at times. But they are less than when we had lots more money. We have learned that it does not take lots of money to make dreams come true. So I am sure we will accomplish what we am meant to do. It does take some money. But more importantly, it takes faith, hope and being tenacious about our dreams.
Conclusion: Maslow’s Hierarchy of Human Needs
Nowhere in Maslow’s Hierarchy of Human Needs does it indicate that one must be a traditional millionaire. It seems to me that being a micro millionaire fits very well with his philosophy. Maybe that is why we feel fulfilled without having lots of money but lots of what money can’t buy.
For anyone who can’t resist having an encyclopedic amount of information about passive income ideas, either in number or details, there is a voluminous blog post from Bengu. The name is 45+ Proven Wealth-Building Passive Income Ideas. Be prepared for a very long read. It is also suggested to take on one idea at a time. Become proficient in it and then move on to another passive income stream suggestion. Otherwise, you may become totally overwhelmed. But you will never run out of options.
Before extreme credit card benefits can become a consideration for someone in The Former Middle Class, two things need to be explained. The first is that one must be thoroughly versed in The Principles of Good Credit Card Hygiene. Even if someone has a history of medicore credit, the credit score must become very good to excellent. ‘One Must Learn to Walk Before One Can Run’.
In contrast, there are people who can achieve even more extraordinary benefits than those of us who are part of The Former Middle Class can. That is because they have the funds to spend from the start. For example, one of the super benefits credit cards requires an expense of thousands of dollars to receive a heftier signup bonus. But in my case, I had started using credit cards with monthly bonuses to add a small amounts of cash to my retired, minimal fixed income.
How Someone from The Former Middle Class Can Obtain Extreme Benefits
During the time I was getting this kind of ordinary cash bonus of between 1% and 3%, I developed the need to acquire a travel point credit card offering both a cash rewards bonus and travel miles. That was when I became aware of the extreme benefits I could receive separate and apart from using credit cards the way I had been. The fact that both my husband and I had credit scores hovering around 800 helped tremendously to move into this new level credit card benefits, the sign up promotion.
Your Credit Score
As explained in the last blog post, a very good to excellent credit score is one of the most important aspects of qualifying for extreme credit card benefits. But let’s go back a step to when credit cards had cash rewards that paid out in increments of a minimum of $25. It was not difficult to earn about $40 over a two month period. But that is not extreme credit card benefits and I needed extreme benefits.
What Extreme Credit Card Benefits Involve
Extreme credit card benefits involve more than just getting monthly cash rewards or travel points. They require additional incentives from the credit card company to get someone to apply for a particular credit card. So that is exactly what the credit card companies started doing. They began to offer either large sign up cash or travel points promotions or both when a certain amount of money was charged by the customer in a given amount of time. The cash usually ranges between $100 and $200. Payment occurs after $500 or $1000 in charges. The period of time to make the charges is usually 3 months.
People who are solidly middle class can make a lot more cash back. But if one compares the percent of return rather than the cash itself, someone in The Former Middle Class can match and even outrank the returns that the Middle Class and above can. In one situation, I got a 40% sign up promotion cash bonus! I only had to spend $500 over a three month period. So $200 cash back from $500 spent is a 40% return. This is definitely Mastering The System of Extreme Credit Card Benefits.
Qualifying For Extreme Credit Card Benefits Cards
We know that the first and most important thing is to achieve and maintain very good to excellent credit. The next thing is to apply for such a card after you have paid your balance in full and have zero debt. Lastly, it is important not to apply for too many credit cards in a short amount of time. Straight forward? So it would seem. But it can get complicated and time consuming requiring a actual bookkeeping system to stay on top of things. This will be discussed in a future post. This is the system of tools that I use to keep track of my extreme credit cards benefits card accounts.
It can become very enticing to continue to apply for and collect extreme credit card benefits cards. They offer a one time promotion that is a lot more than regular cash rewards or travel points. But one must proceed with caution by keeping diligent track of all of one’s accounts as the number of the hot credit cards in one’s possession increases. If a person accumulates a large number of these cards, it can become a job just keeping track of everything. Obtaining these cards can be a way to earn some extra non taxable income for The Former Middle Class person. But at the same time, unless it is a real necessity, it is easier to have a few top notch cards that offer cash back and are “tied to a travel program like an airline or a hotel”. According to Jim Wang of WalletHacks, they offer the best bonuses.
Good Credit Card Hygiene is based upon several principles. They are the focus of and shall be reviewed in this blog post. Before any discussion can be held about extreme credit card benefits, one must have a firm grasp of the basic principles especially the components of your credit score.
The Components of Your Credit Score
To start with, it is very important to gain and maintain between a very good to excellent credit rating. Even if your credit is poor to start with, there are many resources, both nonprofit and professional that can help you to raise your credit or FICO® score. See the pie chart below for the breakdown of components.
Payment history has top billing in the equation. It is crucial to always pay your monthly bills in full and on time. This is the first of the five components of your credit score and counts for 35% of the credit score algorhythm. You could say that it is the key player in good credit card hygiene.
Level of Debt
The next component that counts for 30% of your credit score is your level of debt. What this means is that the amount you owe or your monthly debt should not comprise more than 30% of the entire amount of credit that has been made available to you. If your total credit allocation is $100,000 then you should charge less than $30,000 each month. Actually, the most recent numbers I have heard, are that the credit reporting agencies are looking for a percentage of between 6-9%. This means that one’s monthly debt (credit card charges, loans, mortgage payments, etc.) should not exceed between $6,000 to $9,000.
Age of Credit
The first two factors make up 65% of your score so clearly they are the most important ones in obtaining and maintaining good credit card hygiene. Next is the age of your credit which makes up 15% of your score. Start applying for a credit card as early on as you can so that you will have a long credit history. In order to increase your chances of getting one, apply for a card for which you have been pre-approved. That way your credit score will not go down because of your application. Picking out a card that has not be pre approved will result in the reduction of your credit score whether you get the card or not. But it may not be a serious problem. You can still have good credit card hygiene and a decent FICO score.
Types of Debt and Credit Inquiries
Now you have 80% of your credit score accounted for. These are the three most important factors. But don’t ignore the others. It is good credit card hygiene and good for your score to have a mix of types of debt, credit card, loans, and/or mortgage. Here again, since this makes up only 10% of your score, it is not crucial. Likewise, credit inquiries also make up 10% of your score. So they are not crucial either.
More About Good Credit Card Hygiene
There are numerous types of credit score systems, each with its own algorhythm. Two of the most popular systems are shown above FICO and Vantage. FICO® was created by the Fair Isaac Corporation. VantageScore is comprised of the input from these three reporting agencies, TransUnion, Equifax and Experian. They do not have the same exact rating scales but the difference is not far off. So let’s continue with the characteristics of good credit card hygiene.
Good Credit Card Hygiene Do’s and Do Not’s
Do not apply for too many cards in a short period of time. You will know that you are applying for too many in too short a time if you start getting rejections and that is the reason the credit card company gives for it.
Be mindful to not do anything that will result in negative comments on your credit report. If you do, these will reflect poorly on your credit score. This is not considered good credit card hygiene.
Check your credit card activity often and your credit scores regularly. Now that most, if not all credit card companies have this as a free feature, it is very easy to do. If you find any errors on your credit card, contact the company immediately. If you suspect fraud, contact the police as well as the credit reporting agencies. This can be very serious. Do this in a timely matter.
It is recommended not to close credit card accounts especially old ones. But if you must, wait until you have zero debt to do so. You don’t want to negatively affect you debt to available credit ratio.
That’s about it for a review of what good credit card hygiene is. Once you have established a level of comfort and confidence with it, you can move on to the exciting part, Extreme Credit Card Benefits. That is the topic of the next blog post. I promise you will be WOWed by it.