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First Time Home Buying Checklist

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Our amazing first home.

Qualifying for a Home

Before you can attend that open house around the corner, you’ll need to know whether or not you qualify to get financed for a home. Lenders look at several factors to determine your eligibility for a mortgage and how much home you can afford.

The basic hallmarks to qualify for a home are your income, your current credit standings, and your debts versus how much income you’re bringing in. These are just the basics, but they’re also the building blocks to determine if you do or do not qualify to make such a monumental purchase.

You’ll need to talk to a mortgage lender who can work with you to determine if you qualify for a home. They will look at several factors to help you get a clearer picture of your home buying abilities, so let’s break it down into smaller, bite-sized chunks.

First on Your Home Buying Checklist: How Much Home Can You Afford?

In order to decide just how much house you can actually buy, you’ll need to take a close look at your current debt in relation to your income. This is called a debt-to-income ratio, and it’s one of the biggest things lenders look at to decide how much house you can actually afford.

The DTI examines how much of your gross income should be spent on at home, and most lenders put that number at around 35 percent or less. Remember that your housing cost will include the principal mortgage payment, homeowner’s insurance, property taxes, and PMI if you’re making less than a 20 percent downpayment.

This total amount will be your “housing costs” and will be factored into your debt-to-income ratio. Most lenders want this number to be 28 percent, and then 36 percent should be all remaining debts like credit card payments, student loans, or auto payments.

The higher your DTI ratio is, the riskier you are in the eyes of most lenders. This means you could end up paying a higher interest rate on your mortgage or you may not be able to afford as much home as you thought in terms of asking price. Figure out your DTI before you apply for a loan to help you get an idea of what your threshold will be.

The Famous Down Payment 

One thing that keeps many people from becoming first time home buyers is the down payment. With an initial down payment of 20 percent or more, you can avoid paying PMI, or private mortgage insurance.

Realistically, most people don’t have 20 percent to put down on a home which is perfectly fine. There are many different loan programs available that allow you to pay as little as 3.5 percent or even no down payment if you qualify.

Save your money and put it toward your down payment as soon as you’re in the planning stages of buying a home. That way, you’ll be prepared when it’s time to apply for a loan and will have the funds you need. Most first-time homebuyers can pay five percent or less for their down payment as long as they qualify for certain programs.

Some government-backed loans like USDA and VA may require no down payment, and FHA loans typically only require around 3.5 percent down. There are even some conventional loans backed by Fanie Mae and Freddie Mac that require small down payments of just three percent. 

Your Credit Score

Before you apply for any form of credit, it’s a good idea to know your FICO score. This score will tell your lender whether you have healthy credit and if they consider you a low or high-risk consumer.

The higher your credit score, the more favorable your mortgage terms will be. This can save you thousands of dollars over the life of your mortgage, so make sure your score is as high as possible before you apply.

You can pull one free credit report a year, so get yours as soon as you can and look for any discrepancies or dings. Get those issues rectified before applying for a mortgage so you have the best possible terms available to you. A healthy score will also improve your odds of getting approved.

A score as low as 500 may still qualify you for some FHA loans, and a score as low as 620 could still get you in the door with a conventional loan. It’s recommended that you get your scores as high as possible whenever you can to improve your loan terms and chances for approval.

Step 1: Look at Your Personal Finances and Financial Health

Now that you know more about qualifying for a home, it’s time to take a close look at your own personal financial situation. Check your score and credit report and take a very good look at your budget to find out where you could cut down on spending.

Determine if you think you’ll be able to afford a down payment and start a separate savings account right away. You’ll also need to have money set aside for an earnest money deposit when it’s time to get serious about a specific home.

Get all of your current bills, pay stubs, and other financial paperwork together so you can prove your financial health and stability to a lender. Gather your W2 forms, federal tax returns for the last two years, and your most recent bank statements. The lender will check all of this and verify it when you apply, so it’s good to have it handy before you begin the process.

Don’t forget that you will likely also need to pay closing costs when you buy a home. These costs can range from around two to five percent of the purchase price, so make sure you have that extra money set aside, too. Do your homework and decide how much money you can reasonably save before you prepare to buy your first home.

Step 2: Get Mortgage Quotes and Shop Around

If possible, apply for a mortgage with three different lenders or more so you have a better idea of the various rates and terms available to you. Remember, the lowest rate is always the best option since that means you’ll have a lower mortgage payment and more disposable income. Lower payments also give you more cash to pay for home upkeep and other emergencies.

Take a close look at the various loan options and programs that are available to you. Each one has different requirements, and not all banks will offer the same loans or loan programs. Write down your goals and what you want to achieve before you apply.

For first-time homebuyers with a low to moderate-income level and mediocre credit, an FHA loan might be your best option. Veterans should look into VA loans, while buyers with good credit and a higher income can consider a conventional loan.

Use the Internet to your advantage and do some rate and term comparisons online before you take the plunge. These online guides will show you what terms you can expect to get and if you may qualify based on your personal data. 

Step 3: The Mortgage Preapproval Process

Once you get a few quotes from lenders, it’s time to get preapproved for your mortgage. When you have a preapproval letter from a lender, you’ll have more buying power and more confidence to make an offer on a home.

A preapproval letter shows how much money you are supposedly qualified to borrow, which loan program you will be using, and how much of a down payment you will make. It’s important to note that a preapproval letter is not the same as being pre-qualified, but it will still give you the ability to look at homes and put in offers.

You can typically get preapproved in just a few short minutes based on some basic information. The actual, final approval for your mortgage will occur after an underwriter from your lender verifies the information you provided. You will also need a home inspection and appraisal before you can close on your home.

Once you start the home loan application and preapproval process, be ready to have a lender look closely at every aspect of your financial situation. They need to have all of this information so they can decide if you’re able to afford your home and what mortgage program you can get.

Step 4: Hire a Quality Realtor

Your real estate agent will be your biggest ally in the home buying process, so it’s important to find one who knows your local real estate market well. The realtor will give you insight into the best neighborhoods, what a fair price looks like, and what you can expect in the current market climate.

Talk to a few different real estate agents until you find one who understands your needs. Their goal should be to make sure they find you a home that you love and that meets your particular requirements.

good buyer’s agent will make sure you can negotiate the best offer and will also work with other professionals who will work toward your best interest. When you finally buy your home, the seller will pay for your real estate agent’s commission. Talk to family members and friends for a personal reference if you’re having trouble finding a real estate agent you like.

Step 5: It’s Time to Shop for a Home!

You’ve checked on your finances, compared rates, gotten preapproved, and hired a real estate agent. Not it’s time to have some fun and begin shopping for your first home!

This part of the home buying checklist is exciting since it’s the time when you can actually view homes you’re interested in buying. Make a thorough list of the things you need, want, and must have in a home so you can give it your realtor. If you see homes you like, take a photo or forward the listing to them so you can schedule a viewing.

The neighborhood is crucial to determining if you’ll be happy in your new home, so make sure to visit different neighborhoods at various times to get a feel for the traffic and its character. Look into crime statistics and don’t be afraid to talk to neighbors and find out how they like living in the neighborhood.

When you learn more about the neighborhoods you’re interested in, it may help you whittle down your choices until you find the perfect spot for you and your family. Never buy a home without visiting the area first, and always do your homework in advance. Remember, this is the biggest investment you’ll ever make, so you want to be sure you’ll be happy where you land.

Step 6: Time to Make an Official Offer

If you finally find a home you love, have your agent submit an offer. This part of the process can be stressful, but it’s also a very exciting time!

Your agent can run a list of comparable sales in the same area to help you determine how much your offer should be. Prepare to make another offer if the seller comes back with a counter-offer, which happens more frequently in “hot” real estate markets.

The offer will include your offer price, the deadline for the seller to respond, along with any specific contingencies you may request. The most common contingencies include a home inspection, appraisal, any specific repairs you need, and terms that allow you to walk away if these contingencies are not met.

A reputable agent should give you a list of recently closed sales to help you decide on the amount of your offer. Once you submit it, the seller usually has around 24-48 hours to accept, decline, or make a counter-offer at a different price.

Step 7: Closing Costs 

After you apply for a mortgage, you will receive a loan disclosure within three days of application that shows all of the details of your loan including terms, closing costs, and other fees. This information will give you an idea of how much money in closing costs you’ll need to bring to the table. 

Some closing costs may be negotiable, but you will always pay for certain fees as a buyer like underwriting fees or loan origination costs. Talk to your lender and find out if they could give you a discount on these fees, or if there are any fees the seller can pay for.

In some cases, your closing costs may be rolled into your mortgage if you cannot afford to pay for them upfront. Just be aware that rolling these costs into the mortgage will give you a higher interest rate and a higher payment over the life of the loan. 

Contact your lender immediately after getting the loan disclosure if you have questions about any of the closing costs. They can clarify what each one means and help prepare you for the closing day.

Step 8: The Home Inspection

A home inspection is one of the most important things on your home buying checklist. As a buyer, you’re responsible for the inspection which can run you anywhere from $300 to $1,000 depending on how large the home is and other factors.

The home inspector will take a look at the main components of the house like the roof, the HVAC system, foundation, and major appliances. They will also look at the current state of all plumbing and electrical systems and make recommendations for repair.

If anything comes back that concerns you, add a clause in your offer that ensures the seller makes repairs before you close. This contingency clause will save you money and ensure that important elements of the home are up to current standards. Your realtor can work with you to create a contingency clause after the inspection. 

Step 9: Homeowners Insurance and Move-In Day

Your lender will require you to have homeowner’s insurance, so shop around for rates and sign up for a policy as soon as possible. A broker can help you get the best rates, but always make sure you get adequate insurance for your needs.

Homeowner’s insurance covers you in the event of things like floods, fire, or natural disasters. If you live in a flood zone, you will also need to buy a separate flood insurance policy. 

Once you’re signed up for insurance, turn on all of your utilities like gas, power, water, and cable/Internet and let them know your move-in date. Look for a quality mover, and start packing your stuff so you’re ready to move in after you close. Planning ahead will make this day go smoothly.

Step 10: Closing Day

Just before you close, your lender may ask for updates like a new credit score and verification of employment just to be sure your financial status hasn’t changed. Within 24 hours of closing, you’ll do a final walk-through of the home to make sure everything is as it should be.

On the closing day, you’ll sign lots of paperwork to finalize your loan and transfer ownership of the home from the seller to you. You should have a cashier’s check ready that has your total amount made out for closing costs and down payment. Make sure you bring your ID and checkbook as well. After all of the paperwork is signed and payments are made, you’ll get the keys to your new home! 

Home Buying Made Easy

Use this home buying checklist to help you take the steps you need in order to find the home of your dreams. With some proper planning and a clear financial picture, you can move into your new home with minimal bumps along the way.

If you want to learn more about how to save money, visit our website and find out how you can start saving today!

The Complete Guide on How to Qualify for a Home Loan With Bad Credit

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Don't let bad credit keep you from owning a home


Consider Making a Larger Downpayment

The days of requiring a 20% minimum downpayment are mostly over, however, this may still apply if you have bad credit. In general, lenders use your credit score to determine what home loan programs you qualify for. Some may require higher downpayment amounts than others.

If your credit isn’t perfect, offer to make a larger downpayment, even if it’s not required. This will give lenders confidence in your willingness and ability to pay back the loan, and it will show them that you’re able to save large amounts of money to reach a goal. Keep in mind that your credit score must still fall within reasonable parameters and fit the guidelines of your chosen mortgage program.

Your downpayment doesn’t necessarily have to be the full 20 percent, but anything larger than the minimum amount required can have an impact. Sit down and talk to several lenders and ask them if this might help you get approved.

If you do decide that a bigger downpayment will get your foot in the door, don’t forget to keep an additional emergency fund set aside. This fund can help you in a pinch later down the road in case something comes up and you have trouble making the mortgage or other payments.

Look Into an FHA Home Loan with Bad Credit

When it comes to getting approved for a home loan and your credit score, FHA loans are a good option. This government-backed program requires a small downpayment and generally accepts applicants with FICO scores of 600 or lower.

This loan program was created by the Federal Housing Administration back in 1934 to encourage more people to be homeowners during the Great Depression, and it’s still an active program today. The FHA program has been used by over 40 million families to buy a new home or to finance their current home.

FHA loans are fully insured which encourages lenders to approve more people since there’s less risk. This type of mortgage makes up a large percentage of the market, which means your odds are pretty good at getting approved.

As long as your credit score is 580 or higher, you should have no problem getting an FHA loan. You may need a higher downpayment if your score is at 550 or so, but that largely depends on the lender you choose. If you don’t have the cash for a downpayment, there are assistance programs available that can help.

Overall, an FHA loan is a good option to get you on the road to homeownership. It’s important to note that this loan program does not allow you to drop PMI after you reach 80% equity, so that’s something to keep in mind.

Consider a Local Bank or Credit Union

Big lenders tend to have stringent guidelines when it comes to approving mortgages. However, you may still be able to get a home loan with bad credit if you talk to a smaller local bank or credit union.

Small banks and credit unions have less strict rules and parameters when it comes to issuing home loans. However, that doesn’t mean that your credit can be terrible and you have low income and you’ll still be approved.

If you’re not sure where to begin, a community bank or credit union can be a good place to start. Ask them what their requirements are and set up a free consultation to talk to a loan officer before you apply. They can give some advice about what to do to clean up your credit in order to be approved.

Aside from these resources, you should also consider talking to a mortgage broker. A broker can shop rates and terms for you and determine which programs you might qualify for with a lower credit score.

There is no guarantee that your home loan will be approved, but these options put the odds more in your favor. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and find out what you can do on your end to move closer to buying a home.

Be Patient and Fix Your Credit First

If you’re not in any hurry to buy a home, you may want to wait a while until your credit improves. The higher your score, the better the odds are that you won’t just be approved, but that you’ll also get more favorable mortgage terms.

You can begin to fix your credit by stopping excess spending and by cutting up your credit cards or putting them away. Work on paying down your current debt while avoiding accruing any new debt if possible.

Try the snowball method to pay your debts down and see fast results. This method of repayment involves paying down your lowest balance card first while making the minimum payments on the others. As you pay the smaller card down, you continue onto the next one, creating a “snowball” effect that will get you out of debt faster.

Another way to improve your score is to transfer your high-interest balances to a low-interest card. The less you pay in interest each month, the faster you can pay down the principal and eliminate your total debt.

When you apply for a home loan, the lender looks at something called your debt to income ratio. If your total debt is lower, you’ll have more income to spend on a home and monthly mortgage costs.

For those who can wait it out, consider trying to boost your credit score before you apply for a home loan. It may take some time, but the broader financial benefits can be worth the wait.

Options for Veterans and Service Members

If you’re an active duty service member, a veteran, or a military spouse, you could qualify for a VA home loan, even if you have bad credit. These loans offer affordable mortgages that often include no required downpayment. You will need to provide a valid Certificate of Eligibility before you can apply to prove your service history or your spouse’s.

The federal government guarantees a portion of VA loans which means they have a lot of advantages for those with bad credit. Aside from minimum or no downpayment, there’s also no requirement for PMI which could save you thousands of dollars each year.

Another perk to VA loans is that they have much more flexible qualification guidelines. This means it’s easier to be approved for this type of loan whether your credit is perfect or not-so-hot.

When you purchase a home, you’re also responsible for the closing costs. VA loans have much lower closing costs than most other programs, making this type of loan even more appealing. There is also a one-time funding fee that can be financed into your loan, saving you even more.

Prove Your Worth

Mortgage lenders want to feel confident that you will not just qualify for a home loan, but that you’ll also be able to pay for it. In order to get a home loan with bad credit, you’ll need to prove that you’re worthy of the loan in other ways.

One way you can “prove your worth” to a lender is to have a solid track record with the same employer. Ask if your boss or human resources can write you a letter of recommendation along with the standard verification of employment letter.

If you’ve rented a place for a year or more and you’ve never been late, this can also work in your favor. Lenders want to see that you have been able to handle the cost of housing for a set amount of time before they’ll even consider you for a mortgage.

Another way to show you’re capable of handling a mortgage is to show proof of a separate emergency fund. This demonstrates your ability to save money, even if your credit score is less than perfect.

Homeownership is Possible

Just because your credit might not be exceptional, it doesn’t mean that there aren’t ways to get a home loan with bad credit. Talk to a local credit union, broker, or small bank to find out what you might qualify for.

If you can afford to wait a while, focus on improving your credit to get the home you want. Veterans and service members can take advantage of VA loans to help them get settled into their new home.

If you need advice about finances, how to save money, and anything savings related, be sure to try our mortgage calculator and contact us today with questions. 

Credit Cards 101: Your 2020 Guide

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MasterCard is big in 2020

Do you need to spread the costs of a major purchase? Or want to build your credit history? There’s no better way than opening a credit card account. 

A credit card can offer a flexible and secure way to pay for major purchases in installments. That said, you need to be aware of the pitfalls associated with credit cards to avoid costly financial mistakes. 

What do we mean? Keep reading for our simple guide to credit cards 101. Armed with this foundational financial knowledge, you’ll be in a better place to use credit cards to your advantage. 

Credit Cards 101

Let’s start with a fundamental question. How do credit cards work? Think of credit cards like taking out a loan. The card allows you to spend up to a pre-set limit. This limit might be a few hundred or a few thousand dollars. 

How is your limit determined? By the amount of income that you bring in and the credit card company’s confidence in your ability to pay back the loan. 

What do credit card companies get in exchange for loaning you this money? They charge you interest each month based on your current balance. In other words, if you pay off the card in full each month, then you can avoid paying interest fees. 

Of course, if you don’t pay it off in full, you’ll start accruing those fees. These can add up, particularly if you’re only able to meet your minimum payments each month. Fifty percent of Americans have maxed out credit, so you must work hard to avoid this cycle. 

Since interest charges often get backdated, expect to pay a whole month’s interest each time you fail to pay off your balance

What more should you know about credit cards? 

The rules prove different when it comes to cash withdrawals and checks. Credit card companies start charging you interest (of up to four percent or more) from the time that you withdraw these cash funds. Expect a higher interest rate than for regular purchases. 

As for those convenient checks you receive in the mail from a credit card company? User beware. They don’t come with the same protections that card purchases do, and they prove more expensive to use (like cash withdrawals). 

The Difference Between Credit and Debit Cards

Although debit cards offer some conveniences similar to credit cards, they function differently. Debit cards let you make purchases from your checking account without having to write checks or carry cash.

Debit cards do this by placing holds on the money in your checking account based on your purchases. These transactions then get sent to your bank, initiating a transfer to the merchant’s account. This transfer could take up to a few days to process. 

Debit cards also require the use of a personal identification number (PIN) rather than a signature. That said, if you need to make a debit purchase and can’t use your PIN, you can sign the receipt as you would a credit card purchase. 

Unlike credit cards, however, you won’t pay interest on debit purchases, and they don’t impact your credit history. Since the money you make purchases with has an immediate hold placed on it, you also avoid the risk of overspending. 

Of course, when your checking account is empty, your buying power with a debit card evaporates unless you have overdraft protection. Expect to pay high daily fees when you overdraft your account, though.

When it comes to credit versus debit, keep in mind your long-term goals. Used properly, credit cards represent a fantastic way to build a solid credit history, and they can also help you improve your credit score. Debit cards can’t deliver on either of these fronts. 

Types of Credit Cards

Credit cards come in an assortment of types. They include:

  • Balance transfer credit cards
  • Student credit cards
  • Rewards credit cards
  • Charge cards
  • Secured credit cards
  • Business credit cards
  • Prepaid credit cards 
  • And more

Many people stick with standard credit cards. These are sometimes referred to as “plain-vanilla” credit cards.

Why? Because they don’t come with the bells or whistles other cards do, such as cashback rewards or airline miles. If you’re after the frills, go for a rewards credit card.

Balance transfer cards refer to cards that offer a low introductory rate on balance transfers. They’re great for saving money when it comes to credit card balances with high-interest rates. 

Student credit cards are for college students who would like to start building credit histories. Many come with perks such as low-interest rates or rewards. 

Charge cards don’t have spending limits, but balances must be paid in full each month. Late payments for these cards are subject to fees or cancellation depending on the terms of your agreement. 

For people who have a poor credit history, secured credit cards offer a solution. They require a deposit or security placed on the card in advance. Prepaid credit cards necessitate loading money onto the card in advance to cover purchases. 

Finally, business credit cards are designed solely for business use. They permit entrepreneurs to distinguish between business and personal spending with ease. Find out more about how to responsibly use credit cards for your business

What to Know Before Applying for a Credit Card

How to get a credit card?

Once you fill out an application, the lender will conduct a credit assessment to check your credit reference file. If the company determines you’ve got a decent credit score, this will improve your chances of getting the card. It will also give you access to lower interest rates.

Before applying for any credit cards, note that you should be 18 years or older. Some card companies prove even more rigid when it comes to age. They refuse to offer credit cards to individuals under the age of 21. 

What else do you need to know? For one, bear in mind that you’ll need to make the minimum payment each month. This requirement goes for interest-free periods, too. 

One of the best ways to guarantee timely payments? Set up an auto-debit each month to pay off your credit card. Make sure you pay as much as you possibly can each month, too, to avoid amassing an ever-growing debt. 

What happens if you miss a payment or two? It will negatively impact your credit score. 

A poor credit score, in turn, limits your ability to seek loans with low-interest rates and can influence ever

How to Get Approved for Credit Cards

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According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 70.2% of American households have at least one major credit card. Are you ready to add your name to this growing list?

A credit card can help you establish a solid credit history that offers plenty of perks throughout your lifetime. From securing a mortgage to applying for a car loan, it’s easier to take big steps when your creditworthiness is easy to determine.

Still, it isn’t as simple as filling out an application and walking away with some new plastic. Wondering how to get approved for credit cards? That’s why we’re here.

Today, we’re sharing the steps to take that can help you ace the application process and improve your chances of approval.

Ready to learn more? Let’s get started.

How to Get Approved for Credit Cards in Six Easy Steps

Are you simply looking to add a new credit card to your already well-maintained collection? In this case, the application process can be pretty straightforward and fast. As long as you’ve met all your payment terms and conditions, the bank can process your forms with a few clicks.

However, there are many situations that might require a little more time and effort. These include:

  • Applying for a credit card for the first time
  • Having a very limited credit history
  • Having a bad credit score
  • Having a poor credit history

When any of these issues are at hand, the bank might be hesitant to approve your application. This is because without a successful credit record in place, it can be difficult to verify that you have the resources to use a credit card responsibly.

The good news? It isn’t impossible. If you’re willing to do a little planning and brainstorming, you can improve your odds and turn them in your favor.

Let’s take a look at six steps you can take to get approved for a credit card, regardless of your past or current financial circumstances.

1. Understand Your Credit Score

Before you move forward with your application, take the time to understand your actual credit score or at get least an estimate.

You can download a free copy of your credit report once a year from any of the three main credit reporting bureaus. Read through each report and note any discrepancies or inaccuracies you see. Then, follow these steps from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to report them.

Applying for a credit card for the first time? If so, you might not have an actual credit score just yet, and that’s OK. You can access online credit and loan companies to see an estimate of what your credit score would be.

While it helps to know your actual number, it’s more important to know what it means. Is it high enough to help you qualify for a credit card or do you have a little work to do? While each bureau calculates your score using different measures most agree on the following credit score ranges:

  • Excellent: 760 or higher
  • Good: 701 to 759
  • Fair: 651 to 700
  • Bad: Under 650

Of course, if your credit score is high, you’re more likely to be approved for a credit card.

In fact, while the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau reports that fewer than 40% of applicants are approved for general-purpose credit cards, nearly 60% of those with prime credit scores (660 to 720) made it through. At the same time, more than 85% of applicants with excellent credit scores were approved.

While this isn’t the only factor that can sway the decision, it pays to know your credit score before doing anything else. Not loving the number you see on the screen? There are plenty of ways to improve your credit score over time, including paying down your debts and paying your bills on time.

2. Establish a Bill Payment Schedule

One of the most important considerations factored into your credit score? Whether or not you’re paying your bills on time.

In all, payment history makes up around 35% of your score.

If you’ve fallen into the habit of paying your bills late or skipping the deadline altogether, your chances of being approved for a credit card are already low. Your credit score will also reflect this inaction.

The only solution? It’s time to start paying your bills on time. Many people make the resolution to do so, but end up slipping over time.

If you have a slew of monthly payments and are having a hard time keeping up with them all, you can download and set a reminder app on your phone. Or, you can opt-in to automatic bank drafts, wherein your creditors will simply withdraw the funds from your checking account at the same time every month.

Either way, if you want to apply for a credit card, it’s imperative that you create a schedule and stick to it. Not only will this step improve your chances of being approved, but it’s also a smart way to set yourself up for long-term financial stability.

3. Start Paying Down Your Debts

While your payment history is an important part of your credit score, so, too is your credit utilization rate.

This term refers to the amount of money that you owe to your creditors in relation to your credit limits. While you’re certainly free to use a portion of your available credit, you don’t want to run up massive balances that could send you spiraling into debt. Doing so can also put a ding on your credit score.

If possible, try to keep your utilization rate below 30%. If it goes much higher than this, it sends a red flag to potential lenders that you’re spend-happy and possibly riskier to bring on board.

Are you close to maxing out all of your current cards?

Before you add one more, take the time to pay down those debts and get your credit utilization rate below 30%. This simple step alone can cause your credit score to jump substantially. Especially if you’re right on the line between fair and good credit, pay down your outstanding balances to improve your chances.

4. Don’t Jump at the First Offer

When you’re eager to get started with a credit card, it can be tempting to take the first offer you find. However, it’s in your best interest to do a little homework, first.

You want to find the card that not only provides the most favorable terms and conditions, but also caters to your individual needs. Start by thinking about the reasons why you want a credit card in the first place.

Are you most interested in the rewards that some cards can offer? In that case, check out rewards credit cards that offer airline miles, cashback perks, points, and more.

On the other hand, you might want to open an account to consolidate your debt. This means you’ll need to direct your search toward balance transfer cards designed just for that purpose. Other types of credit cards include:

  • Student credit cards
  • Charge cards
  • Low-interest credit cards
  • Subprime credit cards
  • Secured credit cards
  • Business credit cards
  • Prepaid credit cards

You can learn more about the different types of credit cards and how each one works here.

Take your spending habits into consideration and read the fine print on each of your options. Once you find a card that looks like a good fit, most companies will simply require an online application to get the ball rolling. You’ll need to have details about your work history, income and personal information ready.

5. Include All of Your Income on the Application

Your credit score is important and will get plenty of attention during your credit card application process. Still, there’s one data point it cannot convey: your income.

A credit card company will take a look at your income to determine your debt-to-income ratio. This number helps them gauge your ability to make timely payments.

Ideally, you want this ratio to be as low as possible. At best, it will be below 20%, but anything under 30% is considered acceptable. If it sneaks over 40%, it will be considered as a sign of financial stress.

Is yours too high? There are two ways you can change the balance:

  • Decrease your debts
  • Increase your income

It’s important to list every source of income you have on your credit card application. This can help lower your debt-to-income ratio and make your application more appealing. That means if you have any source of side income, such as a part-time job selling jewelry online or a weekend gig with a ride-share service, list it!

Issuers want to feel confident that you have plenty of money coming in to make your monthly credit card payments. If your income isn’t up to par, they could deny your application.

Remember: As long as you’re 21 or older, you can list all of your household income when you apply. This means income from your spouse or partner can also be factored into your ratio.

While doing so can be helpful, be careful not to inaccurately inflate your income. At the end of the day, you’re the one responsible for paying your bill, so you want to make sure you’re not biting off more than you can chew. Plus, if an issuer catches you lying on your application, you could be caught and charged with credit card fraud.

Currently unemployed? You can still qualify for a credit card, but you’ll need a little help. A few of the options you can pursue include:

  • Adding a co-signer to your application
  • Becoming an authorized user on someone else’s credit card
  • Applying for a secured credit card (requires a security deposit)

As long as you have a good credit score and some source of income you can use to pay your bills, unemployment doesn’t have to mean the end of the road for your credit card journey.

6. Stay the Course

You’ve done everything right. You worked on your credit score, paid down your debts and worked to lower your debt-to-income ratio. You even did your research and found the perfect credit card for your needs.

Yet, your application was still denied.

If this happens, you’re not without recourse. Your next step should be to call the issuer and ask for an explanation. From there, you can also request a reconsideration.

To help the conversation go as smoothly and successfully as possible, don’t just pick up the phone and call. Take the time to plan out what you’re going to say. Explain why you need the card, how you plan to use it, and the strategy you have in place to make sure you don’t miss a payment.

You have the right to know why the issuer denied your application, but remember to be polite. You won’t get very far by launching by fuming. Customer service agents are generally willing to listen to your side of the story, but it helps if you have a pleasant demeanor.

If you’re denied, don’t give up hope. In most cases, you can improve your odds of approval if you wait six months between applications.

Shop Online and Save With Us

Once you know how to get approved for credit cards, you’re one step closer to adding one to your wallet. When you’re approved, remember to spend responsibly and always pay your bill when it’s due. Over time, this little card can boost your credit in a big way, setting you up for continued financial stability.

Want to keep saving money and growing your accounts along the way? You’ve come to the right spot.

Our free Chrome extension automatically adds coupons, compares prices and offers you cash back, every time you shop online. Click here to download it today and put a little change back in your pocket.

Credit Cards With Travel Rewards: How They Work

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Dreaming of white sandy beaches and toes in the sand? Or maybe your dreams include wandering the streets of Paris or swishing down a snow-covered mountain. Whatever that vacation dream entails, the wanderlust is real.

The trick is how to pay for such lovely adventures. Do you have a vacation fund? A jar you used to collect loose change?

Do you have credit cards with travel rewards that help you to accumulate rewards towards your next vacation escape?

A quick internet search on vacation destinations and you’ll find countless opportunities to join rewards programs, get miles, earn points? Have you ever wondered if it pays off to collect bonus miles if the earned points ever actually get you something worthwhile?

Let’s take a closer look at earning miles, points, and rewards through credit cards. Are they worth it? Will they get you to that dream vacation? Read on to learn all about travel rewards programs and how they work.

Choosing a Credit Card for Earning

With so many credit cards with travel rewards, how do you know which one to choose? How do you know which will give you the most bang for your buck?

It depends on you, your spending and your travel habits.

Some credit cards earn you points, while others earn you miles. Research what it will cost you to use the card and what you get in return from the card.

Some cards allow you to use their rewards on only their brand. For example, the Delta SkyMiles card is one of the better for what you earn from it. You can earn points from the card both from flying on Delta and using the card for other purchases.

The downside to this card is that you can only redeem those rewards by flying on Delta Airlines. So, if you are a frequent Delta traveler, it makes sense to take advantage of the rewards that come from this card.

Other cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred card offer some real incentives towards travel that allow you to use the rewards towards any type of travel or travel brand. A card like this one even offers greater rewards when cashing in the earned points towards travel.

These two scenarios are different because one is specific to a brand and one is not.

Hotels often offer rewards credit cards and points in a similar fashion.

If you have brand preferences when you travel or travel frequently where you can regularly stay at one type of hotel or fly on a certain airline, it makes sense to use their rewards credit cards as it’s likely you’ll wrack up the points pretty quickly.

Miles and Points

Credit cards vary in how they offer rewards. Like entering into any credit card agreement, it’s important to read the fine print on what the card will offer in return for your spending.

Some credit cards allow you to earn points. You get points based on your purchase amounts. In some cases, you can get more points for purchases on certain things like using the card at a restaurant or a grocery store.

Other credit cards will earn you miles towards travel. In the scenario, the more bonus miles you accumulate, the more you can cash those miles in towards rewards.

Credit cards like the Bank of America Travel Card offer points towards every purchase. These points can be redeemed towards travel with no blackout limitations.

Again, do the research on how a card offers rewards, points or miles, and consider whether it offers you rewards that make it worth it for you. In most cases, the term points and miles can be used synonymously. You can earn a point or a mile for each dollar you spend.

Credit Card Points Vs Airline Frequent Flyer Miles

This is a distinction to note in the credit card rewards world. Consider these questions as it relates to rewards:

  • Does the credit card give points for all purchases?
  • Does the credit card give miles for travel purchases?
  • Can the points or miles be redeemed for anything or for travel?

Often with credit cards as it relates to travel the term points and miles mean the same thing. General credit cards that offer rewards programs in points or miles will allow you to trade those back in towards travel rewards.

Specific credit cards, like the Delta SkyMiles previously mentioned, give rewards that can only be used on their brand. Sometimes cards give points that you can then trade in for miles on air travel.

When booking a flight, you can use those frequent flyer miles or points, cash them in towards discounts or even free travel. Generally speaking, the more general credit card allows you the freedom to use the points for any number of travel options. While a specific frequent flyer program through an airline is likely to be more restrictive.

Either way, when buying that ticket for your next warm-weather vacation, make sure you get some kind of rewards credit from the purchase by using a card that offers rewards in return.

Credit Card Points Vs Cash Back Rewards

If you are using your credit card with the intention of working towards a vacation, think also about the difference in points rewards and cashback rewards.

If the credit card offers points, then you redeem the points towards your vacation travel plans. As you make purchases using your card, the points accumulate. Then you can trade in the points towards an airline ticket or nights at a hotel.

If the card offers cashback, you can still take this cashback and use it towards travel. Some people like the idea of the credit card giving them money in return for using the card. It can feel like a real boon to get “paid” money from the credit card for making purchases.

Which option is better? This is another moment when personal preference comes in. It feels good to get cashback. It also provides you with the flexibility to use the reward money how you see fit.

This might also mean you take the cashback money and end up buying this week’s groceries instead of putting it towards the flight to Key West.

Generally speaking, the rewards tend to earn more quickly than the cashback option. Again, this is where careful research before opening a card is beneficial.

How Much Does a Dollar Earn in Rewards?

So, if I have a credit card with travel rewards, the real question is how much do I earn? In most cases, you earn one point in rewards for every dollar you spend.

Translated that means when you spend $100, you get the equivalent of $1 in rewards. If you spend $1,000, you get points that will equal $10.

If you have ever taken a vacation, you know you need some serious money saved. You might be thinking, it will take a very long time for those rewards points to be worth anything, especially a whole vacation.

Again, check into the particular card’s rewards. Some cards will offer you 2 and sometimes 3 times the value for every point. This can double or triple the value of the rewards without you doing anything different.

Most cards also offer a bonus or extra points for signing up to have the card. Some cards will offer a bonus or extra rewards points when you spend so much in a short period of time.

Some cards will offer extra rewards points when you refer a friend and they sign up.

If you have a spouse, make sure you are both using a card from the same account, so the points add up from all your household purchases.

For this reason, many avid and seasoned travelers will choose to use one card for all their expenses earning points along the way. Then they pay it off each month. They can accrue the points while living their normal everyday lives.

If you have a credit card that earns frequent flyer miles, the values vary greatly from card to card. It is not generally the same where a dollar would equal one mile.

Airline Credit Card Considerations

From what’s been presented so far, it might seem like the advantage would be to get a general credit card that earns points that you can use towards a variety of travel options.

So, why do people choose to get airline credit cards? If you are a loyal flier with one particular airline and fly often, it makes sense to use that airline’s card. The points will add up quickly and can be used towards travel with that particular airline.

There are often a few other advantages too:

  • Free checked bags
  • Priority boarding
  • Reaching elite cardholder status for flying

There are a few other things to consider. Will the rewards have restrictions when you can use them? Do they have blackout dates that prevent you from redeeming them during peak travel times?

Some airline cards allow you to use miles or points incrementally. So, instead of waiting until you have earned enough for a whole flight, you might have enough to upgrade your seats. Or you might take a hundred dollars off the overall price of your ticket by using their points.

Restrictions Worth Noting

You know the saying, read the fine print. Whether you are hoping to take points from your credit card or redeem frequent flyer miles earned from the airline card, there is likely to be fine print.

For example, if you make a purchase and earn rewards points, then return the item. You should expect the have the points you earned taken back away.

Many companies also require you to keep your account in good standing. If your account falls behind, you can forfeit points you have earned.

You should also make sure you know how long your rewards will last on your account. Some companies with tricky fine print have expirations on their rewards points. So, while you might think you are being careful to save up to get the whole vacation with points, some are expiring because you have not redeemed them in time.

Credit Cards with Travel Rewards, Worth It or Not?

The lure of a free plane ticket or a vacation partially covered in rewards sounds good to anyone. But are the cards with rewards programs attached worth it? The answer is a resounding maybe.

It will actually depend on you as both a consumer and as a traveler. Getting bonus miles or earning points on your credit card sounds lucrative for sure. But will earn the points quickly enough to make the cost of the card worth it?

Again, knowing your own spending and travel habits and reading the fine print is important.

A card might offer a big upfront reward for spending a higher amount in the first 90 days you have the card. But it could also cost more to keep the card. You might get a card with lower fees attached to keeping the card, yet there are more restrictions attached to when and how you can use those points.

If you have some travel dreams, and who doesn’t, it’s best to set some goals. Research both the cost of a card in fees and interest. Then counter that with the travel rewards points you would get in return. Alos. consider how much you will use the card to earn the points and if the cost of that card will, in turn, be worth the expense.

Generally speaking, the more you spend the more points you can earn, so it makes sense that eventually you might earn a reward that makes it worth it. This might be even truer if you are brand loyalist.

Understanding the Ins and Outs of Credit Cards With Travel Rewards

Credit cards with travel rewards sound enticing. The idea of getting a little something free from your spending can feel good too. In many cases the rewards are worth the cost of the card. So cashing in a points miles or earned points towards your future travel feels like a real win.

Understanding your own travel outlook and spending habits can help to find a card that will give you the biggest return on investment.

If you have travel wanderlust and big dreams of places to go and things to see, visit our blog again soon for more great travel articles.

How to Choose a Credit Card That’s Right For You

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Did you know that most Americans now enjoy a credit score that’s greater than 700? Or that the number of individuals with a perfect credit score of 850 has skyrocketed by 63 percent over the past decade?

How are American consumers making such significant strides when it comes to their FICO credit scores? By doing their research and choosing the best cards for their lifestyle.

How to choose a credit card that will lead to the most profitable returns for you?

Credit cards prove as diverse as the people who use them. In other words, no one card suits everyone. As a result, you’ll need to factor your financial history, future goals, and spending habits into a final decision.

Let’s take a look at the process so that you can come out ahead when selecting a credit card.

Start with Your Credit Score

How to choose the right credit card? Your credit score determines which cards you’re eligible to receive. So, that’s where you should start.

How do you check your credit score? There are several ways to get your most recent number. They include:

  • Using NerdWallet’s free access to credit scores
  • Purchasing a copy of your credit report from one of the three major credit bureaus (e.g., Equifax, Transunion, Experian)
  • Heading to Annual Credit Report for your free yearly report
  • Checking with a credit card account you already have (if applicable) to see if they offer free FICO scores

What happens if you don’t like the number you see? Grab a copy of your credit report, and look for what’s bringing your score down.

Do you see errors on your report? If so, dispute them.

Are there ways to improve your spending habits to build better credit over time? Make some changes.

Why is building a better credit score important? A good credit score raises your odds of getting a credit card loaded with perks.

Identify Your Financial Goals

Once you’ve ascertained your credit score and have a better sense of the types of cards you’re eligible to receive, identify your short- and long-term financial goals. This process will help you choose the best card for your situation.

There are three general credit card types from which to choose:

  1. Cards that earn rewards
  2. Cards that save money on interest
  3. Cards that repair limited or damaged credit

Which of these cards should you select? The answer to this question depends on a variety of factors, including your lifestyle and spending habits. For example, the best travel card in the world will do wonders for a globe trotter.

If you’re not much of a traveler, though? Then, keep looking for a better deal based on your unique needs, activities, and interests. With that in mind, let’s take a closer look at the three types of cards listed above.

Cards that Earn Rewards

Are you prepared to pay off your balance in full each month and never incur interest? Then, a rewards credit card proves your best option. Know going in that these cards tend to have higher APRs, though.

That said, they also offer cash-back rewards, points, or miles on every dollar spent. Many also provide significant sign-up bonuses. So, do a little shopping around before you decide on the right card for your lifestyle.

Cards that Save Money on Interest

Do you have an irregular income? Or plan to use your credit card for emergencies? Then, a card with an introductory zero percent APR and low interest may represent your best option.

If you know you’ll likely carry a balance, go the low-interest rate. What’s more, a balance transfer can help you pay off a high-interest debt interest-free. That said, such offers prove challenging to secure with a low credit score.

Cards that Repair Limited or Damaged Credit

Which kinds of cards should you look for if you have poor credit or little to no credit history? Opt for a secured credit card.

These cards require a security deposit upfront that gets returned to you once you close the account in good standing or upgrade. How much is a secured credit deposit? These deposits start at $200.

As for those with little to no credit history, such as students? Go with an unsecured card meant for college students. You can easily qualify for one of these cards, and it’ll put you on the path to developing a credit history.

Ask the Right Questions

Now, you’ve got a better idea of the cards for which you’re eligible. You also understand that different types of cards can do different things for your financial future and have (ideally) chosen the right card type based on your short- and long-term objectives.

Congrats! You’re ready to use a comparison tool such as NerdWallet’s to search offers based on your score and monthly spending. This resource will assist you in finding the best credit cards for your unique situation.

That said, you’ll likely still be surprised by how many credit card offers are available to you. How do you narrow them down further? By asking the right questions before making a final decision.

For Rewards Cards

Are you interested in a card that will provide returns in the form of rewards, options, or airline miles? Then, ask the following questions as you explore various offers:

  • How complicated is this credit card?
  • How do I spend my money?
  • How soon will I see rewards?
  • Are these rewards worth it?

Know that rewards always come with fine print. Depending on the card, however, that fine print section can get very lengthy.

Would you like to avoid dealing with limited award seat availability, rotating bonus rewards, spending caps, and more? We don’t blame you. To keep things simple, look for a card with flat-rate, cash-back rewards on purchases.

Along with concerns about the complex nature of a card’s rewards, your spending habits should inform your decision. Explore a card that offers the highest rewards in the areas where you spend the most.

For example, if you’re a regular traveler, go with a card that offers airline miles and no foreign transaction fees. Or, if you’re a big spender, opt for a card with rewards earnings that can offset your annual fee.

For Cards that Save Money on Interest

Is a zero percent APR on balance transfers and low interest most attractive to you? Then, ask these questions to find the optimal deal:

  • What’s the card’s balance transfer policy?
  • Does the card offer rewards?
  • How long does the zero percent APR period extend?
  • What’s the ongoing interest APR after the introductory zero percent rate?

Are you most interested in a balance transfer? Then, you’ll need to double-check some things.

Namely, what’s the card’s policy when it comes to the type of debt transferred? How much is allowable? Is there a difference between balance transfer APR and purchase APR?

While a zero percent introductory fee may look attractive if you’d like to save money, consider the long-term implications of your choice.

For example, do you plan on carrying balances over several years? Go for a card with a low ongoing APR instead of one with a zero percent introductory rate for a year or less.

It’s also worth exploring cards that come with a few months of zero percent APR, such as a sign-up bonus. Although the introductory period will prove shorter, these cards often come with generous ongoing rewards.

For Cards that Repair Limited or Damaged Credit

If you’re a student, new to the credit game, or looking to repair damaged credit, then here are some questions to consider as you explore card offers:

  • Can I graduate to a better card later on?
  • How much does it cost to open an account?
  • Are there annual fees, and, if so, what are they?
  • Will this card help me establish a credit history?

If you’re building credit over the long-term, then go with a card that will let you graduate up to the next level. Why is this important? Because such cards let you leave a credit account open longer, thereby boosting your average age of accounts, a critical component of good credit.

For secured cards, opt for the one with the lowest security deposit. In some cases, though, the amount you put down ties directly to your credit limit. So, do your research.

You should also try to avoid cards with annual fees unless you have very poor credit and precious few options. If you can get a card with generous rewards, however, these could offset the annual fee.

You should also make sure you go with a card that reports to all three major credit bureaus. Otherwise, you’ll defeat the whole point of getting a card to build credit.

How to Choose a Credit Card

How to choose a credit card? Finding the best credit card based on your financial history, personal spending habits, and long-term goals is critical to taking charge of your life.

Armed with the tips above, you’ll be in a better place to narrow your credit card search down to a clear winner. Ultimately, the card you choose should fit your lifestyle while helping you achieve your financial goals.

Ready to begin your search? Check out our post on the best credit cards of 2020.

Piggy’s (Not Serious at All) Reviews of Oscar Nominated Movies

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Joker is always a popular Halloween Costume

It’s that time of the year again: the Oscar nominations have been announced, and brackets all over the country are being filled out. Or, wait – do the Oscar diehards use brackets, or is it a Super Bowl Squares type situation?

We’re not entirely sure on that. What we are entirely sure of is this: since the nominations, fans and industry experts all over have begun to weigh in on the Oscars. Who will win, who won’t, and why is the movie that we liked a lot actually not worthy of winning? We don’t know – we don’t read those articles. Instead, we thought we’d take things in a different direction for our roundup on some of the Oscar nominations. We present to you, the Absolutely-Not-Serious-at-All Piggy Review of Oscar Nominees! (For movies we saw anyway. We didn’t see everything on the nominee list. C’mon, that’s a tall order. And that’s also life.)

oscar nomination joker

Joker

Nominated for: Helping DC fans feel reassured that everything will eventually be okay (even though they got Wonder Woman, Aquaman, and Shazam!)

Joker did something critical in the world of cinema: it legitimized DC movies in the eyes of fans who like that universe but were horrified at what they got from Suicide Squad. Finally, after an eternity of waiting, fans of Batman could squeal with glee at a depiction of the Joker that was meant to be taken seriously, with dark tones and commentary on society. They could brag about recognizing Alfred Pennyworth from characterization alone. He was there at Wayne Manor, taking care of a young Bruce Wayne and telling the Joker to shoo!

I mean, DC fans also got Wonder Woman, Aquaman, and Shazam! which were all good movies, but Joker was something different. It made you think, man. It was the Tyler Durden of comic book movies! Society has flaws man! And then you get to the end of the movie and once again a young Bruce watches his parents slain, putting him on a course to become the Dark Knight, Gotham’s protector, and you think “…wait, he’s way too young to have that happen now. Something is off. This timeline is weird. I must go to the internet and discuss it!” Good movie though. Definitely needed to sit at the movie theater bar for a few drinks to calm our nerves after the fact.

once upon a time in hollywood oscar nomination

Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood

Nominated for: Best Actor, Best Picture, Best Screenplay, Best Supporting Actor…basically almost everything Joker was nominated for

Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood was not what we expected going in. We loved it, but what we expected more along the lines of say Inglourious Basterds where there are multiple storylines running to make a knot at the end. What we got was Jackie Brown 2.0. At least, according to people on the internet. We haven’t seen Jackie Brown yet. 

But if Brown is the original Hollywood it must be pretty good. Hollywood’s strength is in it’s feeling like you’re hanging out with good friends, and then seeing what they’re doing during their everyday lives. This means you get classic Tarantino writing, great acting, and fun setting. Few screenwriters and directors can make the banal of driving around LA or changing an antenna feel rich, but Tarantino has mastered that since the tipping conversation from Reservoir Dogs. 

irishman oscar nomination

The Irishman

Nominated for: Upsetting cinema elitists for not having a traditional release and instead going the Netflix route, and for being four (4) hours long

The Irishman is a movie that is four (4) hours long. Listen: this isn’t Seven Samurai. We have lives to live. Even if it is on Netflix so you can stop and go at your convenience, that’s an insane runtime for a movie. I mean even Peter Jackson broke up the Rings movies into three (albeit still really long) movies. 

Whatever. The Irishman is a long movie. It’s a mob movie. It’s a classic mob movie because it’s got the mob classics from director (Martin Scorsese) and actors (Al Pacino and Robert DeNiro) to setting (mob setting) that you see all the time on AMC. The only difference is on AMC they edit movies for time and commercials, and Irishman is four (4) hours long. It’s also not a movie about Whitey Bulger. We thought it was going into it. We kept waiting for Whitey. He never showed up. Our bad.

rise of skywalker oscar

Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker

Nominated for: Internet uproar, an insane amount of articles defending it, excusing it, arguing against it, defending its predecessor, arguing for its predecessor…the list goes on

Star Wars is a fascinating case study in what happens when something becomes so sprawling that everyone weighs in on it. And that weigh in is mostly people trying to convince other people why they’re wrong. What are they wrong about? What’s it matter. They’re wrong. Just look at these memes and YouTube videos that prove it!

 Anyways, Rise of Skywalker is meant to conclude 40 years of the Skywalker saga. Like Back to the Future we went forwards, backwards, way backwards, and way forwards. Actually, did Future go that far forwards? We forget. Doesn’t matter. Skywalker is a Star Wars movie. It’s fun if you want it to be, it’s miserable if you don’t. We kind of liked it, but we also liked Last Jedi and apparently we were really wrong to feel that way, so take what we say with a grain of salt. We hope Skywalker wins because the memes can be pretty entertaining when you need to kill time on the commute home.

avengers endgame oscar

Avengers: Endgame

Nominated for: Putting Marvel fans on a quest to unseat Avatar as the highest grossing movie in theaters of all time (and apparently actually doing it)

Let’s get this out of the way right now: Endgame is a defining moment in cinema whether you like the movie or not. Love or hate the Marvel Universe, you have to be in awe at how they were able to take a B-level superhero like Iron Man and spin that off into so much content that we have lost track of where you can even watch it all. You also have to wonder how DC saw that formula laid down to perfection and somehow took a wrong turn at (almost) every step.

There has been so much said about the MCU over the years that there’s not much left to share. Even if Endgame loses its respective category, it’s won a bigger war: proving that comic book cinema, when done well, has a lasting power that will echo for years and years. Also, creating some weird feud between the internet and Martin Scorsese? We guess he made some comment about them and from that inspired every single actor, actress, director, screenwriter, producer, blah blah blah to be asked ‘what do you think of the MCU and Martin’s comments?’ like the opinion of one man matters that much. I mean, right? That’s insane. Ah, who even knows.

1917 oscar

1917, Bombshell, Parasite, Ad Astera, Jojo Rabbit, Marriage Story

Didn’t see them. Didn’t catch a single one of them. Marriage Story is on Netflix and still haven’t seen it. It literally pops up every time we start the app, but nope, it’s right back to binge-watching the Good Place for the twentieth time before it ends in a few weeks.

Anyways, they seem like good movies. We’ll probably see them at some point. Haven’t seen em yet, that’s why we can’t comment on them, but we’ll see em eventually. Been a busy year and we’re kind of tired. 

 

5 Tips to Keeping Your New Years Resolutions on Track

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keeping your new years resolutions

It’s December 31, and before the clock has struck midnight you already know your New Years Resolution. You woke up on January 1 motivated to get started. Well, maybe January 2. If you’re like us, you woke up on January 1 and immediately spent the day on the couch. But that’s okay! You got started!

Now, over a week into January, and reality is already setting in. Turns out that keeping your New Years Resolution is tough. It could be going to the gym, eating healthier, cleaning your home more often, or something else. Whatever it is, commitment is tough.

We get that. It happens to the best of us after all – we’re only human! To help you out a little, here are five tips to keeping your New Years Resolutions intact well into February – and 2021.

1. Don’t Overdo It

This one is especially important if your goal is fitness related. Many people hit January 1 (or January 2) and decide they’re going to go as hard as possible. By January 4 they’re exhausted. By January 7 they’re likely ready to call it quits.

Your resolution is like driving a car from one gas station to the next. Keep your foot on the pedal and you’ll run out of gas before you can refuel. Take your time, monitor your fuel, and you’ll have no problems. Take your time with your resolution. Pace yourself. Have on and off periods. Pushing yourself too hard will burn you out mentally and physically. You’ll get frustrated when you miss a day. You risk injury (if it’s fitness related).

If you stick with it you’ll have plenty of time to push yourself harder. Right now, just form the habit. That brings us to number two…

keeping your new years resolutions

2. Build the Habit

66 days. That’s how long it takes for something to become a habit. This could be cooking your meals at home, reading before bed, or anything else. Your resolution is, in part, a habit you’re forming. By that math, you need to make it to March 7 (since it’s a leap year) for your resolution to become second nature to your routine. If you burn out on January 7 you’ve missed the mark by about two months.

Remember when we said your resolution was like driving a car from one gas station to the next before you run out of fuel? Well, this is the second part of that example. It’s not just about hitting the next gas station, it’s about getting far enough to where you don’t have to worry about how you’re driving – you’re doing what you need to do already. This also is why the previous tip is so critical – you can’t burn out early because it’s going to be that much harder to get started again. Better to build the habit of your resolution!

3. Set Reasonable Milestones

When making a long trip, do you think about point A to point B with nothing in between? Of course you don’t. You think about what’s along the way to know how you’re keeping pace. Your resolution should be the same. You have an end goal in mind. But setting little milestones along the way to hit makes reaching the end that much easier.

Here’s why: feeling accomplished keeps you motivated. It’s much easier to come back to something new if you feel like you’re making progress. If you do something for a month and feel like you’ve made zero advancements from when you started, you’re likely to slow down or stop. If your goal is 100%, and you haven’t even hit 50%, you’ll be exhausted. But if your goal is just 5-10% better, you’re much more likely to hit it. And guess what? When you hit it, you’ll want to hit the next goal.

keeping your new years resolutions on track

4. Don’t Worry About Speedbumps

That road you’re driving on? It ain’t a smooth one. You’re going to hit speedbumps. There’ll be potholes and road hazards. It won’t always be an easy ride.

Your resolution is no different. You will be tired. You may want to sleep in some days or stay out late some nights. Some days you’ll want to just be lazy and binge-watch the Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. We don’t blame you – we’re binging it now and it’s great. But you also need to know that you will make mistakes at points in your resolution. You’re human, it happens. That’s okay! If you know it’ll happen in advance, it’ll be that much easier to forgive yourself. And that is the name of the game ultimately – forgiving yourself when you hit a speedbump. Don’t take it out on yourself or get frustrated, because that’s counterproductive. Instead, move past it and forward.

5. Don’t Give Up

Through thick and thin, do not give up. Stay motivated, stay focused. It’s easier said than done, but it’s also the best advice someone can give you. It’s the advice that, ultimately, we’re trying to get to for you. If you follow these tips, you won’t need to worry about it very much. But in those days where it feels tough enough to just want to throw your hands up and be done with it, remember – don’t give up!

We hope these tips help you. Keep following our blog for more content, including ways to save on your online purchases with cashback and coupons. Head to our website to learn more!

 

5 New Years Resolution Deals to Get Your New Years Started

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2019 has come to a close, and that means 2020 New Years Resolutions are underway. You may have a goal or New Years Resolution you want to achieve, but how do you go about getting started? Sometimes, half the battle is just finding where to begin.

Never worry – we’re here to help with that. We found some of the best New Years Resolutions and the deals to go with them. You can spend more time getting your goals accomplished, and less time worrying about your bank account. From travel to working out to cooking to reading, there’s something for every New Years Resolution on this list!

1. Hit the Gym(s) more with ClassPass

If ever there was a classic New Years Resolution, “going to the gym more” would be at the very top of the list. It’s not uncommon to see dozens of new faces at your local workout facility come January 1 (and New Years promotions to get them to sign up), but unfortunately not all stick around. It’s understandable. Going to the gym is hard, and – if I’m being honest here – kind of boring sometimes. Especially if you don’t know what you’re doing yet. By February 1 most of those new faces have come and gone.

That’s why ClassPass is so brilliant in my opinion. Keep your workouts interesting and varied by allowing you to try different fitness classes at different locations around your area. I’ve seen yoga, boxing, pilates, barre and more as a way to keep your workouts varied, so you never get bored. Today you’re doing cycling, tomorrow it’s a Bootcamp. It’s also a great way to find a workout you *do* love, so you can sign up for classes or join that gym without worry about if it’ll stick or not.

Check Out ClassPass Offers with Piggy

2. Eat healthier (and at home!) with HomeChef and PeaPod

I’ve talked before on this blog about how much I love to create complex, interesting dishes at home that are much healthier to eat than whatever I can get delivered, but how much I hate going to the grocery store. It’s pure irony. Luckily, HomeChef bridges all three of those gaps fairly seamless. Once a week a new box of meal goodies is delivered, complete with everything needed and recipes that you can keep and use again and again (provided, of course, you go to the grocery store).

Then again, maybe you don’t mind going to grocery stores but just don’t have the time. You love cooking and eating healthy, but who’s got time to shop and cook in a single evening? Let’s take that going out to shop step out of the equation with Peapod. It’s a delivery service for your groceries, like getting a LEGO set delivered but you eat it afterward. Everything you need is on the service, so all you need to do is go through those digital aisles, put your food in your cart, and then schedule a delivery time. What’s really great is you can look up recipes in one window and then literally add the products into your cart in the next window over.

Check Out HomeChef Offers with Piggy

Check Out Peapod Offers with Piggy

3. Turn your photographs into anything with Shutterfly

Question: Do you have thousands of photos on your phone that you look through from time to time and think “I should really do something with these?” Answer: Yes, you do – even if you don’t admit it right away. That’s okay though! Maybe your New Years Resolution should be to take those memories and move them out of a digital device and into the physical world. With what, you probably want to know? With anything! Photo books, actual prints, canvas prints, calendars (it is a new year after all!), you name it, Shutterfly can put your photos on it. These make for great gifts and keepsakes, and you can finally do something awesome with your already awesome photos!

Check Out Shutterfly Offers with Piggy

4. Read more books with Thrift Books and Barnes & Noble

Everyone should read more. This is a fact. Reading is wonderful and good for you in so many ways, I don’t know why more people aren’t’ doing it. Oh wait, yes I do – because it’s hard to find a book you’ll love and a book you want to buy. Thankfully, Thrift Books can help with that. Shop used books and find ones you’ll love at a fraction of the cost of new books.

But maybe you love new books. That new book smell is the best thing in the world, and what’s nicer than holding a paperback with a perfectly intact spine and thinking “I will be the first person to read this copy”? Good news for you: we can help you get new books for your New Years Resolution too. Well, us and a little place called Barnes and Noble. They’ve got tons of books (and movies, so you can watch the adaptation if you really want) and tons of deals. New or used, it’s your book for your New Years Resolution, so the choice is yours!

Check Out Thrift Books with Piggy

Check out Barnes & Noble with Piggy

5. Travel to new places with hotel and flight deals

Have you always wanted to go to Japan but never got around to making the arrangements? Does California speak to you, but you’ve never gotten to the west coast? Do you want to see the desolate beauty of Iceland, but not sure where to begin? Good news: we can help you with that.

I’ve planned many trips, and I know two things: you need to do your research, and you need to plan for last-minute changes. That’s why we offer so many different options for travel bugs out there, or New Years Resolutions that need you to step into a whole new world. We have deals on flights, deals on hotels, deals on last-minute hotels (yes, it’s critical you review those too), deals on activities, deals on luggage, deals on anything and everything you need to make your New Years Resolutions for travel a dream come true. Why not get started on your planning now, and take an adventure? You won’t regret it!

Check Out Hotel and Flight Deals with Piggy

4 Last-Minute Holiday Shopping Deals

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Oh no. It happened, didn’t it? The holidays crept up and crept up, and deal after deal came and went. There were vague ideas of what to get for the people you need to shop for, but not a whole lot of shopping done. Or maybe you got that shopping done, but you need something to really seal the gift-giving deal.

Either way, there’s no need to fret. You still have plenty of holiday shopping deals available to you – and many will ensure you can put something under the tree in a couple days. Well, in theory anyway!

Let’s help you out, our last-minute holiday shopper, with some last-minute holiday shopping deals and cashback available right now!

Groupon: 25% off Activities, Massages, Dining & More plus up to 7% Cashback

Have you ever heard the phrase “the greatest gift you can give is giving a great memory”? No? That’s cause we just made it up, right on the spot. Or maybe we heard it somewhere and forgot. Not important. Here’s what is important: your great gift. It doesn’t need to be materialistic or wrapped in a great big box. Your gift can be a promise for a future memory together in a favorite or new activity. Or maybe this can be a day off at the spa with massages. It can be a night on the town with a good dinner to start the evening. It can be whatever fits you and your loved one best because great memories last longer and mean more. And, just like a great present, you can get great deals on activities. Groupon made sure of that when they put 25% off activities as a deal with us, not to mention the 7% cashback. It sounds like a win-win because it is one.

Shop Groupon deals and cashback at Piggy

Kohl’s: Multiple Percent-Off Deals and up to 2% Cashback

Here’s what’s great about shopping at Kohl’s: there’s something for everyone. Okay, that’s a little basic. Let’s try this: There’s something for you to get everyone that they’ll love. New hoodie of your favorite team? Check. Video games? Yup. Kitchen appliances? We said everything, and we meant everything. And an “everything” type of place need and offer for everyone. Good thing Kohl’s has exactly that with Piggy. They have multiple offers available now, so you can choose what’s right for your gift shopping. Free shipping is available, but if you can’t wait (and let’s be honest, the reason you’re here is because of waiting in some sense) they also offer in-store pickup. Get your savings online, get your products almost instantly. Like we said: something for everyone.

Shop Kohl’s deals and cashback at Piggy

Home Chef: 3 Free Meals and $8 Cashback (First Purchase Only)

Do you happen to have someone in your life who wants to cook more? Know someone who loves cooking already, but just doesn’t have the time to put up with a grocery store? Is there someone who recently said to you they don’t know what chutney is and you’ve decided to help them expand their culinary palette? Home Chef will do the work for you, so you just need to get them a subscription to get started. They pick their meals, Home Chef sends the ingredients and instructions, they do the work. It’s like LEGOs for the kitchen. And let’s be honest: cooking ramen bricks with a coffee mug in a dorm room microwave was fine in college, but post-grad life makes that pretty depressing.

Shop Home Chef deals and cashback at Piggy

JCPenny: 25% off $100 or more purchase, other coupons, and up to 5% Cashback

Listen, let us level with you: you know what JCPenny is. We know you know, you know you know. Let’s not fool around with what you’ll find at JCP cause you already know what it is: great deals and great products. So let’s just cut to the chase: 25% off when you make a purchase $100 or more. It works both in-store and online (so in-store pickup is a solid yes we’re guessing). You probably have a JCP right by you. If you order by 3 pm you can do same day pickup. You can probably find a card or wrapping paper in-store while you’re picking up the gifts. There are tons of other coupons available. This one is easy-breezy. You shouldn’t even be reading this blog post anymore, you should be out shopping. Time is a factor after all!

Shop JCPenny deals and cashback at Piggy

We weren’t kidding just now: time is limited. Today is Festivus, tomorrow is Christmas Eve, Hanukkah is well underway (the first night was last night). Head out there and get some great gifts with these great last-minute holiday deals! Oh, and check out Piggy for more deals available.