My Dollars & Sense

Are you wanting to improve your “Dollars and Sense” money management skills? Russell Country has a few tips, on a variety of topics that can help.  Whether it’s improving your credit score, buying an automobile, or making a home purchase, Russell Country is there from application to closing with sound financial advice on your “Dollars and Sense”.

Improving your credit score
Tips when contemplating buying a vehicle
Preparing for home ownership


Improving Your Credit Score

Established borrowers with past credit issues face the task of trying to obtain credit, or worse yet are subjected to much higher rates when they do obtain loans. The following “Dollars and Sense” tips can help you improve the credit you already have.

Obtain copies of your credit report. Once you can see what your credit looks like, you can determine what improvements need to be made.  Sometimes, errors on your credit report can be made, or, information can be inaccurate. Seeing what’s drawing your credit score down is the first step in re-establishing your credit.

Limit the number of open credit accounts. The age of a credit account is more valuable than the number of credit accounts you have established. Keeping and maintaining a limited number of established credit accounts with payments made on time, over time, helps improve your credit score.  Having too many open credit accounts can actually decrease your credit score.

Pay down existing credit card debt. Sixty-five percent of your credit score comes from the amount of outstanding credit card debt and payment history. Maintaining more than 40% of a credit card’s limit in outstanding balances can negatively impact your credit score.  Conversely, keeping your card balance less than 40% of its limit, and making your payments on time, can actually help improve your credit score.

Balance your credit portfolio. It’s important to have a balanced credit portfolio made up of a variety of credit types i.e., auto loans, credit cards, personal credit lines, mortgage loans. Where your credit is obtained is just as important as what is in your credit portfolio. “Finance Company” debt can actually lower your credit score.

Set a budget, and stick to it. Curtail any unnecessary spending. Instead, focus on making your regular monthly payments on time. Adding to your normal debt payments each month helps reduce your debt faster and reduces the amount of interest you pay over time.

Set up your payments on automatic transfer. Sometimes, we get busy and forget to make our payments on time, which can cause us to pay additional interest or late charges. Automatic payments, whether they’re made from a checking or savings account, or by payroll deduction, is an easy way to maintain your on-time payment history.

Patience is a virtue. A tarnished credit history can only be improved over time, but there’s no better time to start than the present.  Depending on the type of damage done to your credit score, paying down debt and keeping current on your monthly payments can generate results in just a few short months.


Buying a Vehicle

Looking to buy a new or used vehicle?  Russell Country can help you get rolling down the road.  The following “Dollars and Sense” tips can help with your purchase and keep more money in your pocket.

How much can I afford? When it comes to buying a vehicle, we tend to forget about the other monthly obligations we have, and which aren’t going away. When deciding how much you can afford, be sure to factor in your normal living expenses and any existing monthly debt payments.

Expenses associated with your purchase. It’s important to factor in the other expenses associated with your vehicle purchase. Down payment, insurance, licensing and future maintenance expenses are a reality. Start saving for these expenses, now.

New versus used. Be prepared. Loss in value due to depreciation on a new vehicle purchase can be significant when you drive it off the lot. Often times, a good used vehicle can serve the same purpose as a new vehicle, but it takes patience to find the right used vehicle to fit your lifestyle.

Inspect your investment. It’s always a good idea to have a reputable mechanic inspect the vehicle you have your eye on. It may require an additional expense, but can be money well spent, and save you on future repair bills.

Wants versus needs. Don’t be unrealistic when considering a vehicle to serve your purpose.  Driving a flashy sports car may help you look “cool” but buying a fuel efficient adequately sized vehicle may be a better fit for your way of life.

Make your purchase “RAD”. Keep these three words in mind when making your vehicle purchase. Whichever vehicle you choose, it must by Reliable, Affordable, and Dependable.


Preparing for Home Ownership

You want to buy a home but need help with the process.  Russell Country can help you make that dream become a reality.  These “Dollars and Sense” tips can help you make that purchase and keep more money in your pocket.

Get pre-approved. Before you begin house shopping, it’s smart to get pre-approved.  A pre-approval helps narrow your home search based on selling price, and sellers dealing with a pre-approved buyer view them as a more serious buyer than someone who has not already arranged financing.

How much can I afford? When determining how much you can afford, keep in mind the other expenses involved in owning a home, too. Your home budget should include a category for home improvements, utilities, and maintenance (up-keep).  Your budget should also include a category for your down payment and earnest money. It’s never too late to start saving.

Wants versus needs. Be realistic with your expectation of the kind of home you’re after. You may want to live in an oversized fancy home, but an energy efficient home with adequate space for your lifestyle may be a better choice. Don’t over buy.

A spring chicken versus a money pit. Searching for a “healthy” newer home may take more time and effort, but can save you money in the future. A newer home is less expensive to repair and maintain, and oftentimes is already outfitted with energy efficient amenities. An older home may be less expensive to buy but may cost you more in repairs and improvements in the long run. Whatever home you choose, it’s wise to set aside funds for any needed future repairs or maintenance.

The need for a home inspection. Before you finalize your purchase, have a home inspector check the property from top to bottom. A home inspection can alert you to any problems the property may have that you can’t see during your initial walk through with a realtor. Or, ask the seller about a home warranty on the property. Any expense you incur prior to your purchase which pinpoints potential maintenance expense issues now is money well spent, and can save you additional expenses in the future.

Make your purchase “RAD”. Keep these three words in mind when making your home purchase. Whichever home you purchase, make sure it’s “Reliable, Affordable, and Dependable.