• 4 Ways to Get a Winning Credit Score • September's Home Value Improver • About Us

4 Ways to Get a Winning Credit Score

What can you do to ensure your credit rating is good, even if you have a spotty history? It is a little more complicated than just being squeaky clean. Shall we say you have to "credit strategically" and turn "credit" into a verb?

Here are four simple ways to ensure a good credit score:

  • Know your bills and pay them on time.
    This certainly sounds obvious, but it requires you to be proactive instead of reactive. One of my clients lost points on her credit score because she took out one of those store credit cards and forgot about it. When the bill came, the return address was from an unknown bank, so she threw the envelope away. Unbeknownst to her, it was a bill from this new store credit card, with an unpaid balance. She ignored the bills until she was finally contacted by a collection agency.
  • Know your credit score.
    You are a name, not a number, right? Maybe to your family and friends, but not to the Fair Isaac Corporation (FICO) the company that provides lenders with information on borrowers. Your mortgage lender doesn't care how nice you are to your friends and family. It only wants to know how likely you are to pay your loan back reliably. You can get your credit score free online by going to FICO's website (myfico.com).
  • Keep your credit card balances low.
    You may have heard that it's a good idea for your credit score to keep a balance. While that is true, you don't want a balance that is too high. A good rule of thumb is to keep your balance at 50% or lower of your available credit, so if your card has a $5,000 limit, keep the balance at $2500 or less.
  • Don't juggle your debt.
    There was a time when credit card companies were luring customers with promises of 0% interest on balance transfers. This started lots of debt juggling as people moved credit card balances from one company to the next. This is not good for your credit score. In fact, a higher balance on one credit card rather than a lower balance spread over multiple cards may hinder your credit score.
With all these rules, it can be easy to get paranoid and wonder if the credit agencies know everything about you. Don't worry, there are lots of things that are not on your credit score. They include:
  • Child support payments
  • Whether you are going through credit counseling
  • What your interest rates are on your credit cards
  • Your age
  • Where you live
If you don't have great credit, try not to get discouraged. Nothing is forever - even your credit score. Once you start building up a good credit history, your bad history gets further into history and your score improves.

September's Home Value Improver

8 Ways to Make the Most of Your Small Kitchen

In a world where houses are getting bigger and bigger, those of us with small kitchens know the feeling of envy you get when you visit a friend with one of those spacious kitchens that seems to have a drawer for everything. There is no need for that envy! With some creative design, your tiny kitchen can look and work better than a gigantic one if you take the right steps.

  • Put counters on both sides.
    There isn't much that is more important than counter space in a kitchen. If you have a small galley area, run the counters on both sides for a neat, clean look.
  • Get lots of natural light.
    Your small kitchen won't feel like a closet if there are windows in tight spaces to let lots of light in. Light will open the whole place up.
  • Keep appliances tidy.
    If possible, hide the refrigerator and dishwasher behind cabinet faces so that the space looks extra neat.
  • Make your pots and pans part of the décor.
    If you're looking to save space by storing fewer pots and pans, why not use one of those hanging contraptions? Not only will you never have to hunt for the right pan again, but you'll look like a cool TV chef.
  • Value your backsplash.
    A kitchen backsplash does not require much tile, but it can really make a visual splash (pardon the pun) in a small space. So, this is the spot to go hog wild with the custom or imported tile that you love.
  • Look for storage nearby the kitchen.
    I had one client who frequently bemoaned her small kitchen. During a remodel, she turned the hall coat closet into a food pantry and opened up a ton of space. Her pantry was close by, and some strategically placed hooks in the front hallway were excellent for coats.
  • Install a big sink.
    Yes, that's right. A big sink in a small kitchen is a wonderful solution to what to do with clutter. Whatever you need to deal with later can be placed out of sight with a nice, deep sink.
  • Have your cabinets go up to the ceiling.
    Sure, that area of wall above your cabinets may look good with some stylish plates hung on it, but it doesn't offer you any storage. With high cabinets, you can store lots of infrequently used items up high. Folding step stools are easy to come by in discount stores.

Westchester Mortgage

September 2011

Summer is officially ending and everyone is back to their routines. For many, this means back to school and studying to get the highest grades and test scores possible.

We are scored on many things throughout our lives - from the Apgar score we get at birth, to the SAT scores we get after high school, to professional board scores. The score that makes the most difference in your financial life, however, is your credit score.

Your credit score can determine the interest rate on your mortgage, your ability to rent a certain apartment, or even your likelihood of landing a job. This month, I'm happy to offer you four ways to boost your credit score.

Take note and, as always, please reach out with any specific questions you have about home buying or refinancing.

Best regards,
Debbie Siegel
Westchester Mortgage

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