MORE than Finances

Get your finances in order, and get on with your life!

By

Knocking Down Your Numbers: Do Multiple Credit Card Applications Really Damage Your Credit Score?

money-256314_640If you think that applying for as many credit cards as you can will up your chances of getting one, please think again. Multiple and simultaneous credit card applications can wreak havoc with your credit ratings. Want to know how to apply smartly? Here are a few tips and tricks that are sure to improve your credit score in a hurry.

The Catch-22 of credit

You need some sort of credit in order to have a score with Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. These are the agencies to which credit card companies and other lenders turn when they want to know if you’re a good risk. The best way to establish a good credit score is to obtain one card and use it wisely. Pay it off each month, if you can. If not, at least pay more than the minimum balance due. This will gradually yet effectively raise your credit score.

Apply for one card and wait. If you get the card, great. If not, apply for another. Don’t apply for a bunch of credit cards at once, though. Do that, and your credit score may be dinged, says Wise Piggy magazine. You see, a portion of your credit score at Experian and other reporting agencies is based on new credit inquiries. A so-called “hard credit inquiry” that is more than a mere review of your score can drop your rating by several points. If your credit’s good, these few points might not make much of an impact. If your credit is new or if you have an already low score, these few points can be significant.

If you keep making timely payments on your existing card, you may be able to reverse the point deficit in a few months, although the inquiry may remain on your credit score for up to two years, advises Nerd Wallet magazine.

Mortgage inquiries may not count against you

Bear in mind that not all “hard inquiries” will hurt your credit score. For instance, if you are seeking a mortgage, you may apply to several lenders at one time in order to find the one who offers the best deal. Say you apply to six lenders. Because all applications are about a single mortgage and not for a credit card, the inquiries count as only one hard inquiry. Credit card applications are completely different. Apply for plastic from several companies at once, and lenders may see you as a risky borrower.

Fix your finances 

Get out of debt as quickly as you can. If you find that your bills are impossible to pay, you may wish to consult with a credit counselor for help with consolidating your debts. There’s no shame in asking for help, and debt consolidation may get you back on the path to financial wellness.

Money’s important and credit is, too. But they’re not the most important things in life. Manage your debt, pay your bills on time and be sure to stop and smell the proverbial roses.

By

Playing by the Real Estate Rules: Pointers for Purchasing Land or Property in Costa Rica

door-327820_640Costa Rica is a beautiful country full of friendly people. It is also a great place to relocate to from the U.S.A. Investing in Costa Rican land or property is a wise move right now. Here are some tips to make it easier and quicker for you and your family to move to this lush Central American country.

Hire a Good Realtor

You may not like the idea of working with a real estate agent in Costa Rica, but there are some very good reasons for doing so. Unless you really know the areas where you’re considering purchasing land and you already have experience purchasing land in Costa Rica, you are going to need professional help. You need a realtor who is bilingual, focuses on a certain area and has at least five years’ experience.

Check Out Different Locations

Depending on whether you’re looking for commercial or residential land, you need to talk to your realtor about zoning. They will be aware of the zoning laws in their area and should have a zoning map on their computer. Zoning plans determine the limitations on construction; regulate density and use of the land for anyone relocating to Costa Rica. Make sure you will be close to any amenities you need, such as schools, hospital, shopping and churches.

Consider Topography and Soil

Costa Rica has a significant rainfall every year, so you don’t want to build your home at the bottom of a hill, otherwise, you will encounter some serious drainage problems. When you are looking at large tracts of land, keep your eyes open for signs of soil erosion. Many areas of the country have poor quality top soil, which you will need to replace before you commence building.

Check Accessibility for Utilities

Make sure you can run water and power line to the front of your property. This will mean you can apply for meters from the appropriate companies and be connected within seven days. Check with cable TV and Internet providers within the area. Few areas in Costa Rica are connected to city sewer lines so you will most likely have to have a septic tank installed.

Transporting your Belongings

Of course you will want to take you belongings with you when you move to Costa Rica, and in fact, it is less expensive than purchasing them new once you arrive. Shipping costs to Costa Rica from the U.S.A are not as expensive as you may imagine. For example, a loaded 20-foot shipping container of household goods from your house in Texas to your new home in Costa Rica will cost around $9,000 USD to transport. This fee includes everything from wrapping to packing and preparation to export to customs and delivery to your new residence. Here’s some more information about shipping to Costa Rica.

Talk to the right people and make the right plans before you buy land in Costa Rica. Once your home is built and you are ready to relocate, find a reliable company to safely ship your belongings, and enjoy your new home.

By

Five Home Improvement Tips that Will Increase the Value of Your Home

paint-2247394_640There are many ways to improve the look of your home and increase its value without breaking the bank. Whether it’s in need of freshening up or you have decided to put it on the market, a little bit of work can make a big difference for very little cost. The five home improvement tips that will increase the value of a home for a first time homebuyer are listed below.  If you are a first time home buyer, perhaps looking to buy a house in Bradenton, Fl these tips can help you save money on a purchase and immediately add value to your home.

If you have decided to sell, a few minor home repairs can increase the value by as much as 20% in today’s market. By taking an objective walk through your home, you can note the areas that need some minor repairs and develop a completion plan while keeping your budget in control.

Make A Plan

Though updating the entire house in your primary goal, here are the key areas to focus your attention and your budget on for the best results.

Paint

A good quality neutral coat of paint on all walls and trim can increase the value of a home almost immediately. Done either by a professional or as a DIY project, this is the first step in your homes new life. Repairing any trim and replacing broken or faded switch plates is also an easy fix for a low cost.

The Kitchen

The kitchen is the most critical area in your home repair efforts. Home buyers are looking for clean and spacious kitchens that flow without clutter. By updating the lighting and adding a coat of fresh paint, you can transform a dated kitchen for a more up to date look and feel. Remove all unnecessary clutter and replace any fixtures that show wear. Installing new flooring can drive up the overall value of the home.

Living and Family Areas

Like the kitchen, the family areas must give the illusion of space and comfort. Old and broken furniture should be removed as well as faded and excessive wall art. Once painted, continue with the neutral theme by minimizing clutter and adding light with lamps. New window furnishings can capture extra visual appeal by enhancing natural light.

Bedrooms

Think clean and spacious with luxurious touches to make these rooms pop. As in the rest of the home, remove extra furniture and repair and replace any fixtures that have seen better days. Invest in new bed linens and carpeting if possible. Bedrooms need to feel calm and soothing, and by minimizing distractions, you can offer this effect with very little effort.

The Bathroom

This is the second critical area that may require a bit more effort to bring it up to date. New lighting, fixtures, and furnishings can overhaul an outdated bathroom immediately. Repainting cabinetry and re-grouting tiles are also quick and easy fixes for a cleaner and new feel. Clear out medicine cabinets and add new towels for better presentation.The bathroom may not be high on your priority list when considering rooms to remodel. However, bathroom remodels can help to improve the resale value of your home.

One of the easiest ways to improve the appearance of your bathroom is to re-grout the tile or thoroughly clean the grouting that is in the bathroom. Then, you can purchase a new rug and towels for the bathroom area. A beautiful matching shower curtain will nicely complete the look. If you have a tiny bathroom, these improvements can make an incredible difference.

Curb Appeal

Simple gardening will go a long way to making your home more attractive. Keep your trees and hedges trimmed and your gardens colorful for instant appeal. Repaint the moldings and front door a welcoming color and change the style of your light fixture for a new look.

A well-maintained home is noticeable from the first step on the property. Enhancing the flow and visual appeal of a well put together home can increase its value considerably. If moving is not in your plans, then all these ideas can be used to update your home for a brand new feel. Either way, keeping your home in the best shape will always be money well spent.

Fixing up your lawn and backyard is another great way to increase the market value of your house, and it can add some beauty to your house as well. Keep the home improvements to your landscape fairly simple, such as getting rid of old or dead shrubs and trees, or planting new bushes and colorful flowers. Do as much as you can to give your landscaping a facelift, and you will raise the value of your house at the same time.

By

Want a Job That Pays Off Right Away?

books-1012088_640Many jobs don’t pay off right away. That is, you get a certificate or degree, and spend way too long sending out resumes and interviewing. Sometimes, you don’t even get a job offer you like, and you might never be able to repay the tens of thousands (or even hundreds of thousands) of dollars accrued due to educational expenses.

In today’s environment, it’s often a smart move to pursue a job that nets immediate dividends. Here is a look at some of these positions.

Read More

By

How Africa is Using Mobile Phones For Health, Wealth and Happiness

smartphone-2209224_640The African continent is undergoing a technology revolution with no counterpart in first world history: due it’s lack of infrastructure, including a standard electricity network, or phonelines as we’d recognise in Europe, it’s plunging ahead into innovation and develop with mobile devices without following the pattern of more unwieldy desktops and laptops first.

Mobile devices have seen dramatic penetration across the continent: they are light, easy to transport, can be charged from small local charging stations powered by generator or solar panels (themselves driving small businesses allowing people a stable income).

Mobile phone credit can even be used as a de facto currency in some places, meaning that phones aren’t just a means of communication, but also a financing platform, more secure than carrying cash on your person. International mobile top up businesses are increasingly the most popular way for people who have moved abroad to send money back home to friends and family across the African continent.

One way in which mobile phones are particularly helpful in Africa is not in the financial field, but in health. Several apps have launched in the last few years that have been responsible for big improvements in public health in Africa. Some help with diagnosis, others ensure patients have access to all the information they need to take their medication correctly, and daily reminders to do so. Here are some of the most revolutionary apps that are helping Africa stay healthy.

Matibabu

Made by a team of four Ugandan coders, this app helps doctors in remote locations diagnose Malaria. This normally requires a blood test, but this app, using a simple piece of custom hardware (a red LED and sensor) allows doctors to test for the disease without either a long wait for results or sterile medical equipment.

MomConnect

With development funded by the US government, this app intends to help with the high mortality rate for mothers in Africa. Starting from when you find out you are pregnant, the app provides daily information and advice, with support lasting until after pregnancy. Currently only used in South Africa, success could see it localised to other African countries, providing much greater benefit with smaller resource investment.

HIV Confidant

A revolutionary app in fighting the AIDs crisis, this facilitates confidential notification of test results and helps those diagnosed with the virus get further care and counselling.