Morning, money tribe!!
OK, so it’s February 1st tomorrow… and that means 8.3% of the year has lapsed!
Just out of curiosity… are you 8.3% done with your 2023 goals? Are you on track or already behind?
It’s OK if you’re behind (sometimes it takes a while to sharpen the axe before you get chopping), but just something to keep in mind as we cross into February…
Don’t lose sight of the awesome stuff you promised yourself at the beginning of the year. Most people lose steam somewhere around early Feb… But you are not most people! 👊
Check Your Credit Report 🧾 (…it’s free!)
By federal law, you can get 1 free credit report each year from the 3 major credit bureaus. And for the time being, you’re entitled to a free report each week. You can order yours online at AnnualCreditReport.com.
Don’t be surprised if it’s 30+ pages long! Full credit reports seem intimidating, but they’re not actually that hard to read. Here’s a great list of common mistakes to look for an how to dispute errors.
I know it’s a pain, but just think of yourself as a special investigator – solving mysteries about your own credit identity 🕵️
Things to Consider Before Filing
Yay… Everyone’s favorite activity… Filing your taxes 😭
Whether you’re a tax filing ninja or a can-kicking procrastinator, here’s a few thoughts on annual filing that might make things easier…
Tax Day is April 18, 2023. That’s when all your stuff is due (unless you file an extension).
1. Don’t file too early. You probably don’t have all your documents yet. Sure, you might have some now, but others might come meandering in over the next month. There’s no rush (unless it’s suddenly April 17th — then definitely rush! 🤣)
2. Maybe hire a pro? If your taxes are getting more complicated — like if you’re itemizing deductions or if you started a biz — then it might make sense to hire someone to help you out. If you don’t have a tax pro yet, now is the time to start making phone calls. These tax geniuses are going to be too busy to take your call in April!
3. Spending money is OK. If you’re unsure whether you should go it alone or not, just be careful not to cheap out. An experienced tax preparer usually is able to make suggestions and find deductions that more than make up for their fee.
4. Do it yourself tools… If your taxes are more basic, you can likely go the DIY route and spend little to no money filing your taxes. IRS FreeFile is open now and is still one of the best resources for folks earning less than $73k AGI. If you make more than that, Cash App Taxes is completely free for federal and state filing no matter how much you make!
Best of luck to y’all. 💪💪💪
- 👮♀️ Tax FAQs: IRS Interactive Tax Assistant (new search feature and a bunch of helpful FAQ from the IRS site)
- 📝 File Organization Tips: 6 steps to becoming a tax ninja organizer (written by our buddy 5amjoel)
- 👩💻 New HTM Blog Post: What to do with your tax refund
TOGETHER WITH MINT MOBILE
How much cell data do you really use? 📲
If you’re mostly connected to Wifi during the day then you’re probably using a lot less than you think! You could get away with a $15/month phone plan with 4GB of data! (here’s how to check your current data usage for iphone/android)
Or if you need unlimited data and want peace of mind, $30/month for an unlimited plan is crazy cheap. That’s why we use and recommend Mint Mobile… Great prices, great coverage.
Rebuilding Your Credit Worthiness
You don’t need a “perfect” credit score of 850… But having at least a “very good” one (anything over 740) will give you access to better loan terms, interest rates, and in some cases cheaper insurance!
You might already know this stuff, but here’s a quick refresher on how credit scores work (and actions you can take to increase your score).
Payment History is the absolute biggest factor that impacts your credit score. You gotta make every single payment on time, every time.
Credit Utilization refers to how much debt you’re using vs. how much you have access to. If you are maxing out your credit lines, this negatively impacts your score. The 2 ways to improve this measure: 1) pay down and lower your debt balances, or 2) increase your lines of credit *without using them* and this will bring down your overall utilization ratio.
Age of Credit is the average of how long all your credit lines have been open. To improve credit length and history, don’t close any of your oldest credit lines. If you have old cards that have annual fees, call up the bank and switch them to $0 annual fee cards, then store them away in a drawer.
Credit Mix is the variety of different credit products you use. Bureaus like to see a diverse mix of credit (mortgages, car loans, credit cards). While we don’t recommend jumping into a new car loan just to satisfy this factor, if you have a very low credit score it might make sense to look at a credit builder loan.
New Queries is when you apply for a loan or credit card and the company does a “hard pull” on your credit report. Doing this every couple months isn’t too harmful, but applying very frequently can hurt your credit score. Only apply for stuff when you actually need it!
- 💻 HTM Blog: Our full article on rebuilding credit worthiness.
- 🙋♀️ myFICO Site: How credit actions impact FICO scores.
- 🎙️ Pod Episode 491: Busting some credit score myths!
Circling Around the Interwebs…
Amazon RxPass 📦
A new Amazon Pharmacy program just launched — RxPass. “Prime members can get as many eligible medications as they need for one flat, low fee of $5 and have them conveniently delivered free to their door.”
Financial Infidelity 💔
It turns out even more people are hiding financial secrets from their partners… The latest financial infidelity survey shows a 2% increase over last year’s report. Oh no!
Work Schmerk 🧑💻
According to a recent employee engagement survey, people are feeling less and less connected to their jobs. This disengagement trend has been rising since the pandemic. (If you’re on of these workers, maybe it’s time to find something you DO enjoy? 🤷♂️)
Home Buyers 🏡
Pretty interesting stats inside NerdWallet’s 2023 home buyers report. It seems 11% of Americans are planning to purchase a home this year, many of them woefully misinformed and overly optimistic! 😬
A BeenVerified report shows popular phone scams from 2022. It seems Facebook Marketplace tops the list of fastest-growing scams, rising 184.8% in the last year. Buying used goods online is a great money saving tactic, but don’t pay until you have the goods in hand!
HOW *YOU* MONEY
Brendon, 34y/o from Temple, TX 🌇
Occupation: Clinical Pharmacy Manager
Paycheck deductions: ~$1,800
Housing: -$1,900 (own)
Debt Payments: -$900 (student loans, on pause) and -$900 car loan
Other expenses: -$1,600/m
Leftover savings each month: ~$2,300!
How are you investing your excess savings each month?
I invest in a Roth for me and my wife and have put $10,000 in I Bonds last year when the rate was amazing. I was putting $400 per month in an M1 account that I have a mix of VOO and VTSAX mutual funds, but I have stopped that for now to focus on saving up for a new roof. Ours is not in good shape and needs to be replaced. Anything else is going into high yield savings to be used for upcoming vacations (charging on a travel card and then paying it off before the statement closes).
Biggest “craft beer equivalent” splurge:
Besides craft beer, I love it but don’t spend as much as y’all, it would be travel. My wife and I go to a national park every year and do a bunch of hiking! Last year was Grand Teton and Yellowstone. This year is going to be Yosemite and Kings Canyon! We also go camping one weekend per month in the cooler months (October to April-ish). We are trying to go to every state park in Texas and we are about halfway there.
Best savings hack/advice:
Credit card points are truly a game changer, it is wild how much you can make on these. The other big thing was getting off our mobile phone contract, saving us about $80/month! Finally, you have to budget, at least to an extent. If you don’t know what is coming and going in your accounts, it will be very hard to get ahead.
Biggest money challenge right now?
Being a little less cheap with my money and spending more on things that will turn into amazing memories for our family. Money is a security blanket for me and I get really anxious about the future if I feel we don’t have enough. I am working hard to get out of this mindset.
Anything else you want to share?
Don’t hate on the car payment! A brand new car is my wife’s craft beer. She does not want to risk inheriting anyone’s mess. The good thing is we drive it until it falls apart. I am currently driving a 2000 Jeep Cherokee! Have had it for 16 years now, second car is a 2013 Altima with no plans to replace it (selling the Jeep). And we just got a 2022 RAV4 XSE Hybrid and we love it! Great for our camping trips.
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Cheers for reading, sharing, and being your awesome self! Wishing y’all a lovely week ahead 🤗
Best friends out!
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