Second-time Homebuying Experience: Lessons I’ve Learned and Buying During COVID-19

Hi there! My name is Lindsay Aratari and I have a lifestyle blog called Aratari At Home where I share everything from home to motherhood to recipes to style to wellness and more! I’m so honored to be sharing about our second time home buying experience and lessons learned on Homes.com today!

If you followed our journey last year, you may have known that we tried selling our house so that we could move closer to family. You can read all about my adventure listing my home andthe lessons I learned selling it on Homes.com’s Blog. From there, our second-time home buying adventure began and it sure was a wild ride!

family wearing masks in front of home just purchasedfamily wearing masks in front of home just purchased

Placing Offers

Back in March, when we sold our house, as we know, the world entered into the global pandemic so it wasn’t the most ideal time to be buying a new house. We held off on looking at any houses or even browsing Homes.com because we wanted to be 100% sure our house would actually go through to closing. We were slightly jaded that this would even go through because of the three failed offers we had had the year before.

Come April, we had gotten through many of the selling steps and figured this one was the real deal so we should start looking at houses. Homes.com was such a great resource for us while searching for homes. The listings were always up to date and current thanks to their Multiple Listing Service partnerships. They always had contingent/pending offers on listings so we didn’t waste our time asking our agent for more information. We could narrow down our search so easily with our new must-have items too. Homes.com made it SO easy to look for new houses!

Since we were in the beginning of the pandemic, it made things quite difficult to actually go into any houses to see them. We had to go off of zoom walkthroughs, virtual tours, and/or photos of the properties we were interested in. We never could have imagined that we would be placing offers without stepping foot in the door of the house. It was a bit scary and nerve wracking to be making such a huge life decision without being able to go into the house first.

homes.com website on computerhomes.com website on computer

Read: A Quick Guide to Virtual Tours for Buyers and Renters

We submitted six offers before we had 1 that was accepted. Even though we were living through the pandemic, houses were going like crazy in the areas that we wanted!  We were competing against tons of other offers. In fact, one offer we submitted was up against 21 other offers!

Read: How to Make an Offer Stand Out in a Seller’s Market

Lucky number seven finally worked out! Again, sight unseen, we placed the offer and it was accepted! This was mid May at this point and we were set to close on our old house at the end of May. After we had an accepted offer, we were able to view the house, however no touching anything, no opening doors, drawers, or cabinets. Still a crazy experience, but at least we got to see if we actually liked the house that we submitted an offer on! Luckily, we loved it and could see all the potential it had for our family.

If there is anything we learned from our first time buying a house it’s that location is EVERYTHING! We now have two young children and we wanted to live in a nice neighborhood setting in a great school district. What this meant is that we would be paying more and/or having a much smaller house than our first one. Our first home was beautiful and amazing, but the school district wasn’t our favorite and we didn’t have a great neighborhood setting that we wanted our kiddos to have.

looking at houseslooking at houses

Road to Closing

Let me start by saying the road to closing was not easy! This was a very drawn out process and we are so glad it’s over! So when we placed our offer, the sellers needed to find suitable housing and requested a 30-day window to do so. We were ok with that because we were planning to live with my in-laws until closing on our new house and since we had so many offers not accepted, we didn’t want to lose this house. This 30-day window kind of kept us at a stand still since we couldn’t look at any other houses or place other offers. We also had to wait for the home inspection and starting the mortgage application since we didn’t know if they would find suitable housing within the 30 days.

We were coming up to the end of the 30 days and the sellers requested an extension of 10 days because they had found a house, but needed the extra days to ensure their home inspection came back ok. Luckily, it did and that contingency was dropped so that we could start the mortgage application process!

Read: FICO’s® New Credit Scoring Method and the Effects on Mortgages

lindsay aratari on the computer with sonlindsay aratari on the computer with son

The mortgage application started out perfectly fine and normal. We sent in all the paperwork, signed all the documents, answered all the questions, etc. Again, the pandemic made this a challenge because everything was being done virtually so we were relying on emails and phone calls to make this all happen rather than seeing anyone in person.

Over the course of the next couple of months, there was a lot of back and forth with the bank and getting everything that they needed. It seemed to take a very long time and lots of items were requested multiple times. Our agent and attorney were amazing throughout this experience and were huge advocates for us in getting the bank to speed things along.

We were told closing would be August 7th as the sellers wanted a simultaneous close with their old house and new house. That worked perfectly for us and we were getting so excited! Well, come to find out, the bank was not prepared and we wouldn’t be able to close then, but were told August 10th would be our close date. That date came and went and the bank still needed more information from us. It was quite a whirlwind. We sort of felt like chickens with our heads cut off running around getting things signed, printing things out, and doing a lot of paperwork which we had already thought was done.

We were finally told we would be closing August 14th at 9am. We had everything ready to go from the utilities being set up, our home insurance being set live, our POD being delivered, ending our storage unit, getting childcare for our babies, and taking vacation days from work. After working hours on the 13th of the month, our attorney had received an email requesting that we close later. It was very frustrating and stressful. 

The day we closed was wild! We didn’t think we would be able to close that day. I bet you could imagine our frustration and how upset we were! Our agent and attorney worked so hard for us on that day and after lots of back and forth emails with the bank, we finally got clear to close at 4pm. It was the best news ever!

family outside of home they just boughtfamily outside of home they just bought

Lessons Learned

We definitely learned some new things this time around compared to our first time buying a home. 

  • Make sure you love your agent and attorney. I don’t think we could have closed on 8/14 if we didn’t have both of them advocating and pushing to get this done. They were true rock stars!!!!
  • Research the bank that you will be using for your mortgage. Do some shopping around to get a bank that will work best for your family. You don’t have to go with the first bank that you research or know
  • Patience is truly a virtue. Our patience was tested so many times over these past few months. Try to stay calm and clear minded… you will eventually find a home and close
  • Place strong offers. It’s hard to test the waters in the market so be sure you have a strong offer that will stand out
  • Focus on items that are true must haves. Location, a backyard, and 3 bedrooms were some of our top 3 must haves. We didn’t settle for anything less than that. Our nice to have list we knew we could make work (open concept kitchen area, a 4th bedroom, finished basement)
  • Be sure the bones of the house are solid. This house is so different from our last one, however the bones are great! Over time, we will be able to make it our own and change a lot of it to make it feel like ours.

I’m so thankful that we are now in our new home and our kiddos can grow up living near grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. This whole process was intense and stressful at times, but 1000% worth it! I know our family will make many new memories in this home and I can’t wait to watch our babies grow up here. We are so excited to make this little house our home! I hope you will follow along and watch us transform this mid century split level house into a bit more of our style!


Lindsay Aratari

My name is Lindsay Aratari and I blog over at Aratari At Home! I live in Buffalo, NY with my husband, John Paul, our son, Dominic, & puppy, Freddy.  We live in a house built in 1900 & have slowly transformed it into our dream home. Other than being a mom; fashion, antiques, & a good DIY project are some of my favorite things.

Source: homes.com

6 Warning Signs That You Need a New Job

Data show that a good economy is helping workers leave their jobs for more money.

According to The Wall Street Journal, career experts used to tell people to stick to one job as long as possible, even if there was a down economy. The idea was that if you were planning on finding a new job at some point and had a history of job hopping, employers might have considered you unreliable.

The Journal reported this in 2004. Fast forward to the present, and more recent data suggest the opposite may be true. The 2017 Q3 Workforce Vitality Report from ADP, a payroll processor, found that among full-time workers, job switchers saw an earnings increase by an average of 4.9 percent. Job holders lagged behind at 4.3 percent. A similar ADP report from the first quarter of 2017 found that a better economy is giving workers more leverage, meaning they feel more comfortable leaving a job and negotiating a salary increase.

A better economy is giving workers more leverage, meaning they feel more comfortable accepting the signs it's time to change jobs.

This significantly changes the career game. Now that switching jobs won’t necessarily hurt you, it’s crucial to discuss ways you know it’s time to quit your job.

Here are six warning signs you need a new job:

1. You haven’t seen a raise in two years

According to another ADP survey, there is a sweet spot for trading in your current gig for a new opportunity. The survey found that individuals who leave a company after at least two years, but before five years, get the highest salary increases at a new job.

Individuals who try to switch jobs after working five years at the same company won’t see as much of an increase as those who leave between the three- to five-year mark (this, the survey found, is when employees get the greatest salary bump). The longer you stay past five years, the less of an increase you’ll see, the ADP survey found. More experience often means you’ll have higher pay at your current job, so you’re less likely to see as much of a pay bump if you leave.

2. The company is having money problems

One surefire warning sign that you need a new job? “If your paycheck suddenly starts becoming irregular,” says Sandy Smith, a senior certified human resources professional with seven years of experience working in corporate human resources. It’s a clear indication of cash flow issues within the company, she adds.

Not seeing a raise in two years or if your company is having money trouble may be warning signs you need a new job.

Smith, who is also the founder of the personal finance blog Yes, I Am Cheap, says this is one of the major signs it’s time to change jobs.

“Saving money by not paying employees is the death knell of a company on its last legs,” she says, “and you should immediately jump ship.”

If your employer is starting to cut benefits or lay people off, Smith suggests that it might be a warning sign you need a new job and time to financially prepare for a job transition. While one layoff or cut may not be definite signs it’s time to change jobs just yet, Smith says to keep an eye on it.

“Layoff after layoff indicates a serious issue, and you should never take for granted that your job is safe,” she says.

“Saving money by not paying employees is the death knell of a company on its last legs, and you should immediately jump ship.”

– Sandy Smith, founder of Yes, I Am Cheap personal finance blog

3. You’re stagnant

Going as far as you can go with a company is one of the ways you know it’s time to quit your job.

“If you are upwardly mobile but you have no opportunity for advancement within the company, it might just be time to move,” Smith says.

And because you alone are in charge of your career, it’s essential to be proactive, Smith says. That means you can’t wait for your manager to give you a promotion or tell you when there’s no promotion anywhere in the foreseeable future.

So, if you find yourself lacking mobility, it may be a warning sign you need a new job, and finding a new employer could be the best way to advance. Smith also points out that taking a new job in this scenario will likely allow you to increase your earning potential as well.

According to a 2016 global report by LinkedIn, 74 percent of job candidates want a job where they feel like their work has a sense of purpose. If that need for fulfillment isn’t being met, it may be one of the ways you know it’s time to quit your job.

While there were several factors that contributed to Tara Falcone’s decision to leave her well-paying job, a lack of purpose was one of them. When she started her own investment firm in 2016, ReisUP LLC, she was seeking more personal and professional satisfaction.

Before going out on her own, Falcone spent four years working as an investment analyst on Wall Street. She enjoyed what she did, but she wasn’t exactly feeling fulfilled by it. She spent her days helping people who were already wealthy manage their money. Instead, she wanted to help people who came from backgrounds similar to her own attain more wealth.

74 percent of job candidates want a job where they feel like their work has a sense of purpose.

– 2016 global report by LinkedIn

“Coming from a humble, blue-collar background, I yearned to find a way to use the skill set I had acquired on Wall Street to help people like my friends and family.”

Even if you identify a lack of fulfillment as a sign it’s time to change jobs, leaving a secure paycheck is a difficult decision for anyone, especially when, like Falcone, you’re making a pretty hefty sum. Yet, money was not the biggest factor in her decision to leave her job. Ultimately, she valued other things more—like helping an underserved community and having more personal time.

“The money was good, but not good enough to tie me down, nor more than I thought I could ever make doing something else,” she explains. “I grew up without money, so I wasn’t chasing it. And I knew that a big shiny paycheck would never fulfill me on its own.”

6. Your job is negatively affecting you

A final way you know it’s time to quit your job: It’s negatively affecting your life. Of course, this may look differently to different people. For some, health problems are the warning signs you need a new job. For others, like Falcone, it’s when your job starts getting in the way of your personal life.

“My work started negatively affecting the limited time I spent with family,” she says. “As an investment analyst, you don’t really get true vacation time when the market is open.”

Falcone recalled going home for Christmas and still needing to be available for work via phone and email. Eventually, she felt like it became too intrusive.

It’s time to find a new job

If you're not fulfilled with the work you do, it could be a sign it's time to change jobs.

If you see yourself in any of these six scenarios, take them as signs it’s time to change jobs. Dust off that resume, get on LinkedIn and start reaching out to your contacts. Now that the job-hopping stigma seems to be a thing of the past, you have far less to worry about should you decide to quit your job and find a new one.

Source: discover.com

4 Side Hustles You Can Do While Working Full Time

From selling unwanted items online to launching a blog, there are side hustles you can start today.

A side hustle may just sound like extra work. Like coming home from your 9-to-5 job only to work another one (goodbye, free time). But a side hustle that generates income beyond your primary job doesn’t have to be a drain on your energy or time.

It’s easier than ever to find ways to make money on the side of your day job. As the side hustlers below show, it can be as easy as digging out forgotten treasures from the back of your closet.

Whether you’re looking to leverage a side gig to more quickly build wealth, or you’ve set out to increase your emergency fund or save for a specific financial goal, consider these four side hustles you can start today:

1. Sell unwanted items online

If you’re considering ways to make money side hustling, look no further than your own home. Chances are you have items lying around that you don’t actually use—books, toys, kitchen gadgets, exercise equipment, tech accessories, you name it—that sounded like a good idea at one point but are now just collecting dust. Selling unwanted items online is one of the easiest side hustles you can do while working full time.

Selling things you no longer want or need is a great side hustle you can start today.

“You can really sell anything on Craigslist and Kijiji. If it’s still in decent shape, there’s a buyer out there for items you’re no longer using,” says Tom Drake, founder of MapleMoney and no stranger to selling items online in his spare time.

Drake and his wife declutter their home and sell unwanted items online as often as they can. A recent focus was video games: Drake says he sold about $2,000 worth of video games that were sitting in his garage for over a decade. Based on his calculations, he expects to sell about $10,000 worth of unwanted items in 2018.

If you’re thinking about posting items online as a way to make money on the side, Drake says it’s easy to start. Listing items doesn’t take long, though he suggests taking a decent photo and writing a detailed description to make the item easier to find in search results and more likely to sell in a timely fashion.

PriceCharting, which documents prices for every video game ever made, to check value.

Outside of video games, Drake says you can find clothing at thrift stores, then list it for 30 to 50 percent off retail price to make a sale. For collectible items like coins, you can Google the item and add the term “price guide” to the search query. This type of information could come in handy as you build out your pricing structure. Don’t forget to explore e-commerce sites to gauge market rates for items.

3. Start an online store

Briana Ford is a search engine marketing campaign manager for a marketing company based in Dallas. Her way to make money side hustling is through three stores she runs on Shopify, an online e-commerce platform. She generates about $1,000 to $3,000 in total revenue each month.

Her stores Ciao Toots and Karma Outfitters sell phone covers and graphic tees, respectively. Her most popular store, PinLivingColor, sells ’90s memorabilia. She creates the designs through Printful, a printing service through Shopify, and uploads the photos to her store. When someone buys, say, a cell phone case, Printful prints the design on a case and sends it off to the customer. She took a weekend each to start her stores.

“We live in a day and age where you can literally have an idea in the morning and have your business launched in the evening. There is an audience and a customer for almost anything,” she says.

She also helps fellow African Americans start their own stores as a consultant via Startup Noire.

4. Launch a blog

Eric Rosenberg, founder of Personal Profitability, has tried side hustles from web coding to organizing flash mobs. He found a winning side hustle you can do while working full time with his blog.

Blogging is a great way to make money on the side.

“Personal Profitability led to freelance opportunities and eventually a full-time job. But it all started with weekends and evenings,” Rosenberg says.

He has tracked his online earnings publicly since 2012, when the blog earned him about $700 a month. In 2017 he had a six-figure business. Most of his income comes from writing services and website support, with some affiliate income, Rosenberg says.

Blogging is one of the side hustles you can start today, and it doesn’t necessarily cost much to get up and running. However, as the online income reports on Rosenberg’s blog show, it does require patience to make it really pay off.

Ways to make money side hustling: The possibilities are endless

These are just a few of the possibilities available to you as you explore ways to make money on the side of your primary career. As you compare the various side hustles you can start today, consider activities, skills or experiences that you’re passionate about. Enjoying and finding value in your side hustle may make the extra income and increased earning potential even more rewarding.

Source: discover.com

To Spend, or to Cut? 4 Questions to Help You Avoid Unnecessary Expenses

Consider your material and emotional values to decide which expenses belong in your budget.

It’s a universal truth: For most people, budgets only have room for so much. Juggling the cost of that summer vacation you’ve been taking for 10 years with the pressing need to help pay your child’s college tuition, actually use your pricey gym membership or fix your faulty water heater is no easy feat. Sometimes, something’s got to give. But how do you decide which expenditures are worth making and which ones you should cut?

Eliminating unnecessary expenses may depend on your personal priorities.

Figuring out when to spend and when to cut—and how to avoid unnecessary expenses—depends on your personal priorities. But the following four questions will help you weigh each spending decision and choose the best option for you:

1. Is it more than you need?

During a recent family budget meeting at Rosemarie Groner’s house, the hot topic was … wait for it … paper towels. Every week the personal finance blogger’s family sits down to review how they can reduce unnecessary expenses. When their giant pile of paper towels came under scrutiny, Groner, whose blog is called The Busy Budgeter, admits they were skeptical of the wisdom and sanitation of reducing their use of paper towels. They worried about the risk of spreading salmonella and other germs, for one thing.

cut back in other areas to reduce unnecessary expenses. Travel provides the opportunity to explore different places and cultures, experience personal growth and reflection and create long-lasting memories with loved ones—all worthy outcomes.

Let’s say it’s not travel you’re pondering in your quest to avoid unnecessary expenses, but the generous line item in your budget for events like concerts, plays or museum visits. Can these things get expensive? Sure. But you may decide that the enrichment of the arts is valuable enough to continue this spending.

Investing in your education can pay off in the long run, so don't assume it's a cost you can cut to avoid unnecessary expenses.

Likewise, an investment in your education—earning a degree or taking a few classes to boost your credentials and increase your earning potential—might also be a worthwhile expenditure. In 2016, for example, the median weekly earnings for workers with a master’s degree were $1,380, compared to $1,156 for those whose education topped out with a bachelor’s degree, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics—a difference of more than 19 percent. Professional degree earners had a nearly 51 percent pay advantage over those at the bachelor’s level.

3. When’s the last time you used it?

While some experiences are special enough that you wouldn’t want to miss out on them, there might be others you rarely use even though you’re continuing to pay for them. When eliminating unnecessary expenses, watch out for automatically renewable charges on gym memberships, magazine subscriptions and retail subscription services (including for fashion, cosmetics and food preparation kits) that continue even when you no longer want them.

Ditching a gym membership you don't use is one way to reduce unnecessary expenses.

That’s a favorite hack for eliminating unnecessary expenses from Sami Cone, a Nashville-based speaker, author and finance blogger. Cone, who discusses money-saving tips on her website and hosts a radio show called Family Money Minute, recommends putting a reminder on your calendar at either the beginning or end of each month to check your statements for expendable services and subscriptions.

Similar to those subscriptions you haven’t used in ages, are there items you purchase by habit that you or your family no longer want or need? A useful way to avoid unnecessary expenses is to take your spending off autopilot. Possible signs you need to do this stat include: You’re paying for music and dance lessons your children skip more often than they attend; you buy extra phone and data services you never use or premium cable channels you never watch; you’re frequently replacing dietary supplements and cooking spices that have lingered on the shelves past their expiration dates.

4. Will you save later by spending now?

Sometimes the best way to reduce unnecessary expenses in the long run is to invest in what seems like a big expenditure now. Upgrading your home’s heating, ventilation and air conditioning system to a more energy-efficient model, for example, might be a smart way to splurge because it can save you money on your utility bills. According to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Star program, replacing a central AC unit that is more than 12 years old with an Energy Star-certified AC unit could trim your cooling bill by 30 percent.

Another example of a major expenditure that can pay off later is investing in quality home furnishings instead of choosing bargain goods. The higher-end products may save you more in the long run because they are often more durable so you won’t have to replace them as soon. Making healthier, if more expensive, food choices now can also potentially help you avoid medical costs related to illnesses like diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease.

Stay motivated to reduce unnecessary expenses

Having a specific financial goal in mind when you set your spending priorities is an important source of motivation when you’re trying to avoid unnecessary expenses. Groner says her family is now out of debt after paying off more than $30,000 from credit cards and car loans with the help of their frugal spending habits.

Stay motivated by keeping track of how far you've come since you first started eliminating unnecessary expenses.

“In the beginning, when we were first trying to reduce our expenses, the reward was the relief to sleep at night without worrying about living paycheck to paycheck,” Groner says. “We kept going even after we left the paycheck-to-paycheck cycle because then budgeting became fun. It wasn’t about deprivation anymore. It was about laying out a path to get whatever we want in life.”

Cone, whose family used plans for a Disney vacation as an incentive to reduce unnecessary expenses, says it’s important to choose an objective that everyone in the family can get excited about. That way, when eliminating unnecessary expenses starts to pinch, you can remind them: “We’re saying ‘no’ now, so we can say ‘yes’ later,” she says.

Source: discover.com

Public Records on Credit Reports

The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, act as legal, financial or credit advice. See Lexington Law’s editorial disclosure for more information.

If you’ve ever looked at your credit report, you’ve probably noticed a section called “public records.” These are entries that are also on file with local, county, state or federal courts. Keep reading to learn more about which public records appear on credit reports.

What Are Public Records?

Public records are documents or pieces of information that are not considered confidential. Some examples include arrest records, marriage certificates and some court records. These are records that other people or entities could look up about you, as the information isn’t private or protected.

In the context of your credit report, historically, only three types of entries were public records: tax liens, civil judgments and bankruptcies. Now, only bankruptcies should show up as a public record on an individual’s credit report.

The Public Record Entries

First, it’s essential to understand the three types of public record entries that can impact your credit report.

A tax lien is a law-imposed lien upon property for the payment of taxes. Typically, a tax lien occurs when a person fails to pay taxes owed on property (personal and other), income taxes or other forms of taxes.

A civil judgment is a legal ruling against a defendant in a court of law. It refers to a judgment on a noncriminal legal matter and often requires the defendant to pay monetary damages.

Bankruptcy is a legal process in which people or other entities who cannot repay debts to creditors try to seek relief from some or all of their debts. In most jurisdictions, bankruptcy is usually imposed by a court and is often initiated by the debtor.

Understanding the Updated Public Record Policy

In 2017, the National Consumer Assistance Plan (NCAP) went into effect and changed how data is collected for civil judgments and tax liens before these entries appear as public records on credit reports. The act was initially launched in 2015 by the three major credit bureaus to modify credit reporting rules and set stricter standards. These new standards would ensure that the data found on credit reports are more accurate and up to date.

There are two primary ways this act affects how credit bureaus obtain and report tax lien and court judgment data on consumer credit reports. First, for either of these types of entries to appear on a credit report, the public record must contain a person’s:

  • Name
  • Address
  • Social Security number or date of birth

This standard applies to both new and existing records that are already on credit reports.

Secondly, public records reported on credit reports must be checked by the credit bureaus for updates every 90 days to ensure their accuracy. If the records are not checked, they should be removed from the credit report.

Bankruptcy records already hold these strict requirements, which is why the changes don’t impact this type of public record. However, many tax liens and civil judgments do not uphold these standards, in large part due to different standards of record-keeping at various courthouses.

This higher standard for public records is estimated to have positively impacted millions of US consumers. As this change applies to public records that were already on credit reports before the NCAP, it’s essential to review your personal credit reports to see if any public records are still being shown. Generally, tax liens and civil judgments shouldn’t be on your credit reports anymore.

By 2017, almost half of all tax liens and civil judgments were removed from consumer credit reports, and by April 2018, the three credit bureaus had removed all tax liens from credit reports. Currently, the only type of public record that should be present on your credit report is a bankruptcy.

Not a Permanent Change

It’s crucial to note that tax liens and civil judgments might not stay off credit reports forever. This is because reporting on them isn’t illegal and the credit bureaus only promised to remove them for a time. This could change sometime in the future, so you still want to avoid incurring these types of public records if possible.

How Do Public Records Affect Your Credit?

Typically, when a public record is added to your report, it’s considered a negative item. That’s because most public records on credit reports stem from a debt or financial delinquency. Therefore, it will usually lower your credit score.

Bankruptcy

A bankruptcy can remain on your credit report for seven to 10 years.

If you go through a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you must repay a portion of the money you borrowed. This type of bankruptcy has a shorter impact on your credit report (seven years) because you paid some of the money back.

Under a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, the individual doesn’t pay any of their debts back. This type of bankruptcy will remain on your credit report for up to 10 years.

Bankruptcy will have a devastating impact on your credit, lowering it by anywhere from 130 to 200 points.

It is difficult to rebuild credit after a bankruptcy filing, but not impossible. For example, while you may not be approved for a regular credit card, you can start with a secured credit card. You will still have financial options available to you.

Tax Liens and Judgments

The Consumer Data Industry Association revealed that the changes showed “only modest credit scoring impacts” on consumer reports. Still, millions of Americans had public records wiped from their reports, which was beneficial overall.

While these two types of entries may not be on reports anymore, they can still affect your finances and life in general. For example, a judgment can impact your ability to qualify for a loan or credit. Lenders may check to see if you have outstanding judgments and reject your application. Similarly, the presence of a tax lien may cause a lender to reconsider your application.

What Can You Do About Public Records on Your Credit Report?

If bankruptcy is on your credit report, and all the information is accurate, you can’t do very much to remove it from the account. However, if the bankruptcy data is incorrect, you can file a dispute.

For tax liens and civil judgments, file a dispute to remove these public records from your credit report. You can contact each of the three major credit bureaus by phone or email and ask them to remove the public records from your file.

For more detailed information on how to remove a tax lien, check out this blog post. And for step-by-step instructions on removing a civil judgment from your credit report, refer to this resource.

It’s essential you check your credit report regularly so you can note when new data appears on your report. If a negative item appears and it’s inaccurate, you should dispute it quickly, before it can significantly impact your credit score.

Your Credit Can Recover From Derogatory Marks

Having derogatory marks on your credit report is not a life sentence. With sound financial behaviors, your credit score can recover. You’ll need to make payments on time, get rid of debts and maintain a good credit utilization ratio. If you don’t know where to start, consider credit repair services.

Lexington Law knows how to spot incorrect data on your credit reports and give you helpful credit tips. Credit repair takes time, so it’s essential you start today.


Reviewed by John Heath, Directing Attorney of Lexington Law Firm. Written by Lexington Law.

Born and raised in Salt Lake City, John Heath earned his BA from the University of Utah and his Juris Doctor from Ohio Northern University. John has been the Directing Attorney of Lexington Law Firm since 2004. The firm focuses primarily on consumer credit report repair, but also practices family law, criminal law, general consumer litigation and collection defense on behalf of consumer debtors. John is admitted to practice law in Utah, Colorado, Washington D. C., Georgia, Texas and New York.

Note: Articles have only been reviewed by the indicated attorney, not written by them. The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, act as legal, financial or credit advice; instead, it is for general informational purposes only. Use of, and access to, this website or any of the links or resources contained within the site do not create an attorney-client or fiduciary relationship between the reader, user, or browser and website owner, authors, reviewers, contributors, contributing firms, or their respective agents or employers.

Source: lexingtonlaw.com

Attending College as a Non-Traditional Student

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home-office-599475_640Femme Frugality writes about money as it pertains to young adults, brides, parents, Pittsburghers, and, of course, college students. You can read her blog here.

Recently Michelle shared that W was returning to school, and asked for some tips for non-traditional students. I recently graduated, and now my fiance is going to college for the first time.

We’re about as non-traditional as it gets, both being far beyond “traditional” college age, and having children. So I’ve got a plethora of tips that have been helping us get through this stage in our lives. And Michelle was kind enough to let me share them in a post.

Work as Little As Possible

I know that sounds crazy. As a non-traditional student, you’ve got very grown-up bills to pay. But trust me. If you’re serious about your degree, trimming down your work schedule will help not just your grades, but your overall mental health. I am not suggesting you go into debt in order to go back to school. (Both my fiance and I are doing this without any loans.)

What I am suggesting is that you sit down and look at your monthly budget. Look at your bills, how much you’ll need to be contributing to your emergency fund, how much you’ll need for other essentials such as gas and groceries, and a realistic entertainment category (though it might not be a bad idea to trim it down a little bit if you can).

Figure out the lowest number you’re willing to commit to (be realistic about this) for your overall monthly budget.

Now, figure out the minimum number of hours you’d have to work in order to meet that number. The next step is having a conversation with your boss about lowering the amount of hours you are working every week as you return back to school.

I was really lucky when I decided to go back to school. I was able to not work at all. Granted, part of that was because I was having a child at the beginning of my return to my education, and daycare costs would have been more than my working salary at the time.

My fiance supported me through the completion of my degree, and for that I am so thankful. But I did things to contribute to our combined coffers, too. And it’s something you can do if you don’t have someone there to help you out with the bills:

Apply for Scholarships

I know this sounds obvious. But so many people don’t apply because they think they won’t qualify. Or they won’t be able to write a perfect essay. Or a million other reasons. Just do it.

Start with the scholarships at your school and branch out from there. (I wouldn’t necessarily apply at sites such as FastWeb….your odds are so low when there’s so many people competing.)

When you’re applying, first look for any scholarships you can get your hands on; they all cover tuition. But once you have your tuition fully-funded, look for scholarships that cover tuition and other educational costs. With these, your school with cut you a check for every penny that’s paid above and beyond your tuition.

For example, if your tuition is $5,000/semester and you get $6,000 funded via scholarships, the school would cut you a check for $1,000 that semester. That $1,000 (or however much over you earn in scholarships) can then be used for things like books, rent, groceries, etc. Depending on how much you earn you may find that you’re able to stop working and focus completely on school, too.

Get Involved Without Over-Committing

A great way to kick-start your career is to be involved in a fraternity, national club, or some other scholarly organization pertaining to your field. Doing so can also increase your networking power when you’re looking for a job after graduation. So join. Something. Get involved. But be incredibly aware of your constraints.

Are you working? Then don’t promise to volunteer as a full-time “job.” Do you have kids? Then don’t say you can serve as club president when the weekly meetings are held when you need to be getting the kids off the bus.

Make a Schedule

Scheduling is so incredibly important. Make sure you schedule for things like

  • class
  • work
  • study hours
  • socializing/relaxation
  • school organizations

If you’re in a relationship, have kids, or other people that depend on you, there’s even more you have to schedule for, and it’s incredibly important:

  • date nights
  • time to talk and catch up with each other
  • time to spend with your kids/whoever else may depend on you

The task can seem daunting. It can even be tempting to eliminate things on that list. But remember, you’re in this for about four years. Can you really go four years without socializing? Maybe. But you’d probably be hating life. Can you skip the talks with the girlfriend? Probably. But only if you’re trying to kill your relationship. And the studying? It’s necessary if you want to be any kind of good in the the field you’re entering. Schedule purposefully, and live life accordingly.

Spread It Out

If you’ve done the fall semester full-time and it’s just way too stressful or your grades are suffering, instead of giving up try going half-time in spring. Then you can go half-time in summer, too, and not be behind on your classes.

Most of the classes offered in summer are general electives that a lot of people need to take, so keep that in mind. If you’re receiving financial aid such as a Pell Grant or state aid, if you go half-time you’re only awarded half of your grant.

The other half that you qualify for can be applied to the summer semester and completely cover it the same as if you had gone full-time in the spring. So you’re not losing any money. At least that’s how it worked at my school.

Double-check with your financial aid office. And if you’re concerned about not having a summer break, don’t worry. Most schools have a 3-4 week break between Spring and Summer semesters, and then another 2-4 week break between Summer and Fall.

Think Ahead

If you’re going to do something like an internship at the end of your course of study, think about that now. How will that work out with work? If you have kids, how will childcare work?

Talk with your boss about it early so that they know to expect it and you all have time to work out a viable solution to give you the time you need to complete that internship (without bidding your current employer a premature adieu.) Give yourself years to figure out the whole childcare debacle instead of just weeks or months.

You Will Be Stressed.

And that’s okay. That’s normal.

That’s why scheduling things such as socialization, relaxation, and date nights are important. If you’re in a relationship with someone who is going back to school, it’s going to change your status quo. There will be stress, and stress usually leads to fights.

You will most likely fight. But that doesn’t mean that your relationship is crap. It means you’re stressed out, and you both need to find ways to cope better. Which is why scheduling time to talk and connect is so important.

Going back to school as an adult who isn’t fresh out of high school comes with a complex set of challenges.

Family responsibilities, work responsibilities, and just general grown-up bills and concerns can weigh you down. But don’t let them hold you back. Those few stressful years are so worth it. And you can hold your head a little higher than those younger kids when you walk at commencement, because you know that you had to work a little harder to hold that degree in your hand. But you didit.

What tips do you have for someone going back to college as an adult? How was your experience?

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