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

Paying Taxes as a Freelancer

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.

Paying taxes as a freelancer can be a bit more involved—and expensive—than paying taxes as a W-2 employee. When you’re a freelancer, you’re the boss. That’s great if you want some flexibility, but it also means you’re self-employed, so you are responsible for both the employer and employee parts of employment taxes.

When you work for someone else, your paycheck amount is your pay minus all appropriate deductions. That includes deductions for federal and state income taxes as well as Medicare and Social Security contributions.

But what you might not realize is that your employer covers part of the Medicare and Social Security amounts. As a self-employed individual, you have to pay the total amount yourself. That’s 12.4 percent for Social Security and 2.9 percent for Medicare—a total of 15.3 percent of your taxable earnings, not including federal and other income taxes.

When Do I Have to Start Paying Taxes as a Freelancer?

According to the Internal Revenue Service, if you earn $400 or more in a year via self-employment or contract work, you must claim the income and pay taxes on it. The threshold is even lower if you earn the money for church work. If you earn more than $108.28 as a church employee and the church employer doesn’t withhold and pay employment taxes, you must do so.

What Tax Forms Should I Know About?

Freelancers report their income to the IRS using a Form 1040, but they may need to include a variety of Schedule attachments, including:

  • Schedule A, which lists itemized deductions
  • Schedule C, which reports profits or losses from their freelancer business
  • Schedule SE, which calculates self-employment tax

These are only some of the forms that might be relevant to a freelancer filing federal taxes. Freelancers must also file a tax form for the state in which they live as well as with any local governments that require income tax payments.

If you’re planning to do your taxes on your own as a freelancer, it might be helpful to invest in DIY tax software. Look for options that cater specifically to home and business or self-employment situations. These software programs typically walk you through a series of questions designed to determine which forms you need to file and help you complete those forms correctly.

Six Tips for Doing Your Taxes as a Freelancer

As a freelancer, chances are you spend a lot of your time attending to clients and getting production work done. You may not have a lot of time for business organization tasks such as accounting. But a proactive approach to paying taxes as a freelancer can help you prepare to do your taxes and pay what can be a surprisingly big bill each year.

Here are six tips for handling taxes as a freelancer.

1. Keep Track of Your Income

Track your income so you know how much you may need to pay in taxes every year. Keeping track of your numbers also helps you understand whether your business is profitable and how you’re doing with income compared to past years.

You can track your income in a number of ways. Apps and software programs such as QuickBooks and Wave let you manage your freelance invoices and track income and expenses. Some also help you generate financial reports that might be helpful come tax time.

Alternatively, you can track your income in an Excel spreadsheet or even a notebook, as long as you’re consistent with writing everything down.

2. Set Money Aside in Advance

It’s tempting to count every dollar that comes in as money you can use. But it’s wiser to set money aside for taxes in advance. Depending on how much you earn as a freelancer, you could owe thousands in federal and state taxes by the end of the year, and if you didn’t plan ahead, you might not have the money to cover the tax bill.

That can lead to tax debt that comes with pretty stiff penalties and interest—and the potential for a tax lien if you can’t pay the bill.

3. Determine Your Business Structure

Make sure you know what your business structure is. Many freelancers operate as sole proprietorships. But you might be able to get a tax break if you operate as an LLC or a corporation. Talk to legal and tax professionals as you set up your business to find out about the pros and cons of each type of organization.

4. Know About Relevant Deductions

As a freelancer, you may be able to take certain federal tax deductions to save yourself some money. Tax deductions reduce how much of your income is considered taxable, which, in turn, reduces how much you owe in taxes. Here are a few common deductions that might be relevant to you as a freelancer.

Home Office

You can take the home office deduction if you’ve set aside a certain area of your home for use by the business. The IRS does have a couple of stipulations.

First, you have to regularly use the space for your business, and it can’t be something you use regularly for other purposes. For example, you can’t claim your dining room as a home office just because you sometimes work from that location.

Second, the home has to be your principal place of business, which means it’s where you do most business activity. You can’t claim the deduction if you normally work outside the home but sometimes answer work emails while you’re in the living room.

Equipment and Supplies

You can also deduct the cost of equipment and supplies that you buy for your business. That includes software purchases and relevant subscriptions, such as if you pay monthly for Microsoft 365 or annually for a domain name.

Make sure you have backup documentation for any business expenses you deduct. That means keeping receipts that show what you purchased so you can prove that the expenses were for business. You also have to be careful to keep business and personal expenses separate—art supplies for your child’s school project, for example, wouldn’t typically be considered valid business expenses.

Travel and Meals

Meals and travel expenses that are related to your business may be tax deductible. If you stay in a hotel, book a flight or incur other travel expenses that are necessary for the running of your business, you can claim them as a deduction. The same is true for 50 percent of the value of meals and beverages that you pay for as a necessity when doing business.

The IRS does set an “ordinary and necessary” rule here. For example, if you’re traveling to meet with a client and you need to eat lunch, that is likely to be considered necessary. But if you opt for a very lavish meal for no other purpose than to do so, it might not be allowed under the “ordinary” part of the rule.

Business Insurance

If you carry liability or similar insurance for your business, you can deduct it as a cost of doing business. You may also be able to deduct the cost of other insurance policies if they are necessary for your trade.

5. Estimate Your Taxes Quarterly

The IRS offers provisions for estimating your employment taxes on a quarterly basis. Self-employed individuals, including freelancers, can make these estimated tax payments, too. Paying as you go means you won’t owe a large sum every April, and if you overestimate, you may get a tax refund.

Quarterly payments are due in April, June, September and January. They can be mailed or made online. Depending on how much you earn, you may need to make quarterly estimated tax payments to avoid a penalty at the end of the year.

6. Consult a Tax Professional

As you can see just from the basic information and tips above, paying taxes as a freelancer can get complicated quickly. Consider talking to a tax professional to understand what all your obligations are and how best to reduce your tax burden using legal deductions. You might be missing a major deduction every year that could save you a lot of money.

And remember that as a freelancer, you’re running your own small business. That means paying attention to all your finances, including your credit report. If you ever want to take out a business loan or seek other funding to grow your business, you might need to rely on your good credit score.

Check your credit score, and if you find inaccurate negative information making an impact on your score, contact Lexington Law to find out how to get help disputing it.


Reviewed by Cynthia Thaxton, Lexington Law Firm Attorney. Written by Lexington Law.

Cynthia Thaxton has been with Lexington Law Firm since 2014. She attended The College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia where she graduated summa cum laude with a degree in International Relations and a minor in Arabic. Cynthia then attended law school at George Mason University School of Law, where she served as Senior Articles Editor of the George Mason Law Review and graduated cum laude. Cynthia is licensed to practice law in Utah and North Carolina.

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

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

With a rapidly changing market and low inventory, homes are selling faster than ever. New listings can have several offers before you have even had the chance to see it. With this being the case, not only do you have to spring into rapid action, you have to come prepared with an offer that will stand out above the other buyers out there. 

Read: How is COVID-19 Impacting Homebuyer Preferences?

While it can be difficult to be the first of multiple offers coming in, you can make your offer the one that will get you the home that you have fallen in love with. The tips could be exactly what you need to get into your next home. 

Get The Inside Scoop

Say you have decided to purchase a home that you have fallen in love with and you’re prepared to put in an offer on that home. Before you meet with your real estate agent to write the offer, you should ask your agent to get the inside scoop of what the seller may want by asking the listing agent. 

When your agent contacts the listing agent, make sure that they ask questions about the home’s availability and if there are multiple offers for that home. If there are other offers, you will have to evaluate just what you are willing to do to get the home. Keep in mind that the listing agent may not be able to disclose anything to your agent at the request of the seller. 

You should also ask your agent to inquire about the seller’s preferences and what they may want. Some sellers prefer you use a specific title company or have a specific possession date that would align with a date that is convenient for them. The more your offer aligns with the seller’s goal, the better a chance of getting your dream home. 

Read: Is the Home You Love Worth it? Home Pre-inspection Tips to Put to Use

Make a Simple Offer

While making an offer on a home can be complex, you should aim to make your offer as simple as possible. The fewer contingencies that you have put in place, the better. 

Some contingencies you might put in place range from a financing contingency to a home inspection contingency. 

Realtor showing terms of contract on tablet to couple. Real estate agent sharing property details with clients.Realtor showing terms of contract on tablet to couple. Real estate agent sharing property details with clients.

Also, when you put in an offer, keep in mind that it’s not all about price. You may be prepared to go well over asking, but remember that the best offer will be the sum of the terms that work best for the home’s seller. While you want to get this home, you do not want to overextend yourself financially. 

Things Will Move Quickly

As you embark on your home search, you will want to see as many homes as possible. If you work with an agent that has a busy schedule, ask to utilize one of their team members to see the homes on your list.Remember, you will want to move quickly especially when the market is hot and your agent will do the best they can to work with you to get you the house you want. 

One Last Tip

Writing an offer can be cumbersome and can take more time than you may be willing to wait. The key tip: be patient. Let your agent provide the seller and the listing agent with your offer and wait a few days to find out if they accept or not. This is completely normal so do your best to be patient in hopes that you are able to get your next home. 

One thing that you may be able to do to get your offer accepted is to suggest to your real estate agent that they outline the terms and contingencies of your offer in a pager on the front pack of the offer package. This will give the seller and listing agent the opportunity to see what the offer entails from the beginning. 

During a hot market where homes are selling as fast, you have to be diligent in writing your offer so that they will stand out from the rest. For more tips and tricks on the homeowner journey, read through our free How To guides on buying, selling, and financing your home.


Dru Peters

As a Sr. Marketing Coordinator for Homes.com, Dru provides information and resources for agents and Realtors spanning from market reports to technology advances in the industry. With the knowledge gained from working closely with real estate professionals, Dru also shares advice for consumers on how to best navigate the homebuying and selling waters.

Source: homes.com

10 Tips to Maximize Your WIC Benefits When Grocery Shopping

Shopping for WIC-approved foods can be a bit confusing at first. You’re strictly limited to specific types of products, dollar amounts, sizes or weights, or even particular brands due to nutritional content. And many non-WIC foods are similar in size or look to WIC-approved foods, so if you’re not careful, they won’t be approved when you go to check out.

But once your local WIC office approves you for WIC, you need to get the most you can out of the program benefits. Strategies like familiarizing yourself with approved WIC items and using coupons can help ensure you make the most of your monthly allowance. But those aren’t the only ways to stretch your WIC dollars.

How to Get the Most From Your WIC Benefits

The process gets easier over time, but there are some steps you can take to make the most of your WIC benefits and eat healthy on a budget.

1. Understand Your eWic Card

Do you remember your first WIC appointment, when a caseworker examined you and your family members to determine your eligibility for WIC food benefits? After approval, they gave you an electronic benefit transfer (EBT) card called eWIC.

Your eWIC card works just like a debit card, and it takes the place of the WIC checks the government phased out nationally in 2020.

Your benefits will automatically load onto the eWIC card each month, and they will expire at the end of your monthly benefit period. Benefits do not roll over each month, so it’s essential you keep track of your benefit balance and when those benefits are due to expire. You will lose any funds that go unused at the end of the monthly cycle.

2. Read Your Shopping Guide

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has approved many foods for WIC participants. However, it’s essential to realize that WIC is organized and run at the state level, so WIC-approved foods and brands differ depending on where you live.

That said, you will be able to purchase some if not all foods in the following categories:

  • Ready-to-eat breakfast cereals
  • Infant cereal
  • Infant fruits and vegetables
  • Infant food meat
  • Infant formula
  • Whole milk and reduced-fat and nonfat milk
  • Cheese
  • Tofu
  • Soy-based beverages
  • Canned beans or dry beans
  • Peanut butter
  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Canned fish
  • Whole-wheat bread and other whole grains
  • Juice
  • Eggs
  • WIC-eligible nutritionals (certain non-weight-loss meal-replacement or -supplement shakes and bars, such as Ensure)
  • Yogurt

Your local WIC agency or WIC clinic should provide you with a shopping guide that details which foods are eligible for purchase through WIC and which aren’t (see an example from the state of Tennessee). Read through your shopping guide before you go to the store so you’re familiar with what’s available.

Your WIC caseworker or nutritionist can also answer questions about WIC-approved foods during your initial appointment and subsequent visits for recertification or nutrition training. Write questions in a notebook so you’ll remember to ask.

You can also call your caseworker between appointments or nutrition education classes if you have a question about anything in the WIC program.

3. Plan Your First Trip

It helps if you plan your first shopping trip for a day when you have plenty of time to read labels and become familiar with where the store stocks WIC-approved foods. You’ll also be able to plan your purchases to avoid overbuying for the month.

Or download the WICShopper app to speed up and simplify your shopping experience. The app allows you to scan products to see if they qualify for WIC. But ensure you read through the instructions carefully. The WICShopper app is only available for some states, and not all features are available for all states.

Either way, you don’t have to purchase all your WIC-approved foods in one visit. You can buy as many or as few as your family needs for the days ahead.

4. Check for Sales & Coupons

You can increase your purchasing power and save money by using coupons for WIC foods or checking store flyers to see what’s on sale. If a sale item is out of stock, you can ask for a rain check. That allows you to pay the sale price when the store has the product back in stock, even if the sale is officially over.

You can maximize your WIC purchases with buy-one-get-one-free sales and coupons. Your WIC benefits will pay for the first item, and then you get the second one free, which doubles the amount of food you get. It’s a great strategy to save money at the grocery store and make the most of your food budget.

To save time, download an app like Flipp, available for iOS and Android. This free app allows you to read through weekly ad circulars from local stores. There are thousands of stores available to choose from, such as Walmart, Dollar General, Kroger, and Publix. The app also allows you to find and download coupons to your store loyalty cards to save even more.

Pro tip: Make sure you also download the Fetch Rewards and Ibotta apps. All you need to do is scan your grocery receipts and you’ll earn either cash back or gift cards.

5. Purchase In-Season

WIC provides a monthly dollar value allotment for fresh fruits and vegetables. This amount can range from $8 to $11 per month per person, depending on the food package you qualified for.

You can stretch this benefit by only purchasing seasonal produce. Fruits and vegetables that are in-season cost less than those that aren’t. You can see which fruits and vegetables are in season on the USDA’s seasonal produce guide.

6. Purchase Extra Fruits & Vegetables

Because stores typically price fruit and vegetables by weight, it’s tempting to err on the side of caution and purchase only a few items to avoid going over the limit of your monthly allotment for fresh produce. However, that strategy can lead to wasted funds at the end of your benefit cycle if you’re not careful.

Instead, purchase extra fruits and vegetables at the middle or endpoint of your benefit cycle and pay the difference from your own pocket. That ensures you fully use your monthly allotment for produce instead of losing benefits because they went unused.

And remember, you might be able to use WIC at your local farmers market. Farmers markets often sell locally grown or organic produce for less than you pay at the grocery store. Shopping at the farmers market can help you stretch your WIC benefits and get more food for your family. You can save even more by showing up to purchase foods right before the market closes. Vendors are often more willing to negotiate a lower price at the end of the day.

Everyone can stand to eat more fruits and vegetables anyway. If you can’t eat them right away, it’s imperative you learn to store produce properly. And you can always preserve leftover produce with methods like canning, freezing, fermenting or pickling, and drying so it’s edible for months to come.

7. Don’t Buy WIC Foods With SNAP Benefits

Many people who qualify for WIC also qualify for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps.

To maximize the benefits you get from both programs, don’t purchase WIC-approved foods with SNAP benefits. Use your WIC benefits before you have to buy any of these items with SNAP.

If you’re checking out and need to pay with both eWIC and SNAP, always put your WIC-approved products first, and pay with your eWIC card before paying with SNAP.

8. Use Beans & Meat Together

You can stretch your meals further by using beans with meat in some recipes. Beans add protein and filling fiber, and they can bulk up a recipe enough to feed several extra people when needed.

For example, you can add a can or two of white beans, which have a creamy, neutral flavor, to bulk up a beef stew or turkey chili recipe. You can also add kidney beans to a meaty spaghetti sauce or salad for additional protein and fiber. If you’re making stuffed peppers with meat, add a can of black or pinto beans to make it go further.

Taste of Home has many recipes that use beans to bulk up meaty meals.

9. Know Where to Shop

You can also save money and extend your benefits by knowing where to shop. Some local stores and national chains are well known for being outrageously expensive, while others provide consumers with consistently great deals.

Make sure you shop at the retailer with the lowest prices in your area. In many locations, Walmart offers the best deals on produce and shelf-stable food. However, this isn’t always the case. For example, Consumer Reports found regional stores like Market Basket, Save a Lot, and Wegmans consistently offer the lowest prices compared to other competitors.

If you have time, you can also shop at multiple stores to snap up each market’s best-priced products.

10. Separate WIC Food Items

When you’re ready to check out, choose a lane set up to handle eWIC payments. In most large national chains, every lane can process WIC. However, smaller stores usually only have one or two dedicated checkout lanes for WIC.

You may or may not need to separate your WIC-approved foods from the rest of your purchase. Larger stores can process them together, but smaller stores often need to process two separate transactions.

Either way, in the beginning, it can help to separate your WIC foods so you can better see what you’re buying and how much these purchases affect your monthly allotment.

Before you leave the store, check your receipt carefully to make sure it’s correct. And keep the receipt with you until your next trip to the store, as it shows your remaining eWIC balance as well as the monthly expiration date for your benefits.

For more information on how to use your eWIC at the grocery store, see the eWic YouTube video produced by Massachusetts WIC. While some of the information might be different from your state, the video still provides a good overview of what it’s like to shop with WIC.


Final Word

The purpose of WIC is to help ensure that parents, infants, and children have enough healthy, nutritious food to get through the month. And WIC staff are there to help you with meal and nutrition planning to make the process easier.

If you’re not used to cooking meals from scratch, it might feel challenging to find recipes to use all your WIC-approved foods. However, with a bit of planning, you can make sure you use all your benefits and avoid food waste.

For more information on incorporating fruits, vegetables, and whole grains into your family meals, visit ChooseMyPlate.gov or the USDA’s WIC Works Resource System.

You can also check out the free WIC recipe book put out by Utah WIC, which has useful recipes organized by each WIC food category and includes homemade baby food. Your local WIC office might also have WIC-friendly recipes available.

Source: moneycrashers.com

How Old Do You Have to Be to Get a Credit Card?

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.

To open your own credit card, you must be at least 18 years old. A common misconception is that the minimum age requirement varies by state, but this is not the case. Opening a credit card at a young age can seem overwhelming, but understanding the steps and benefits of doing so will help you through the process.

Can You Get a Credit Card Under the Age of 18?

While 18 is the minimum age to be the primary holder of a credit card, there is a way that those under 18 can still use one—a parent or guardian can make their child an authorized user on their credit card account. An authorized user is an individual who can use a credit card without being responsible for the bill, and you’ll need to submit a request to the credit card company to add your child as a user.

Also note that some credit card companies issue a minimum age requirement for authorized users, while others do not.

By doing so, you give your child a head start in building credit for themselves. This will become useful when your child is ready to qualify for a loan or apply for their own credit card. Becoming an authorized user will also help them establish healthy credit practices early on. Make sure your child knows how to properly use their card, because as the primary cardholder, you’re still responsible for the bills.

How to Apply for a Credit Card as a Teenager

Applying for a credit card as a teenager is a similar process to that of an adult, but with a few exceptions. To get a credit card, you must initially apply. Based on your credit history, credit score and personal financial information, you’ll be either approved or declined. As a parent, you can become a cosigner to help your child get approved for a card if they haven’t had much experience building credit yet.

Getting a Cosigner

A cosigner is someone that agrees to take responsibility if the primary cardholder can’t pay off their outstanding balance. Applying with a cosigner (presumably with good credit) can help you get approved and even a higher credit limit. Keep in mind that some credit companies don’t allow cosigners, so you may need to do a little research beforehand.

Best Credit Cards for Teenagers

With so many credit card options, it’s easy to feel lost when deciding which one to apply for. Consider applying for a card that is made for younger people and first-time credit applicants. These cards are designed for users that may not have a high stream of income or any preexisting credit. The following are a few cards that are popular for first-time credit applicants:

  • College credit card: These cards are designed for college students without experience in building credit. Since pursuing an education is often quite pricey, student debt makes it harder to get approved for a normal credit card. College credit cards typically offer users low fees, low interest rates and perks such as money back when using their card. Although it’s easier to get approved, you are still required to show proof of income and enrollment in school.
  • Secured card: This card requires an initial cash deposit in order to use the card. Think of it as a prepaid credit card. The amount of your cash deposit acts as your credit limit. As a result, secured cards typically also have higher interest rates than normal credit cards. Even with a cash deposit, all activity put on a secured credit card still impacts your credit score.
  • Store credit card: Some retailers also offer credit cards. While these cards are mainly for customers to shop at the specific store, the card can also be used for purchases elsewhere. These cards are easier to acquire since they often don’t require a specific credit score. Store credit cards intrigue customers by providing exclusive discounts and rewards, but beware as they often come with high interest rates.
3 options for first-time cardholders: college credit cards, secured cards, store credit cards.

Tips on Getting Approved

Getting approved for a credit card as a teenager can be difficult, since you likely don’t have significant preexisting credit or income. Both of these factors highly impact whether an applicant will get approved or denied for a card. The following are some tips on getting approved as a young user:

  • Take into consideration all forms of income. When your application asks for your income, you can include much more than just your income from a part-time job. You can also include student loans and parental allowance as income.
  • Consider getting a part-time job. Having a stable salary will show credit card companies that you have the ability to pay off your card.
  • Add a cosigner if your credit card allows you to. As mentioned above, this will help the company see that you have someone to rely on for your spending habits.
  • Apply for a card designed for young adults. College credit cards and secured cards are a few great ways to get started with building credit. Both cards are designed for those who may not have previous credit.

How to Build Credit at a Young Age

Building credit is always important since it takes time. Having good credit will open up more doors for you down the line. The time you dedicate to building your credit early will pay off when you’re applying for a loan, buying a car or making a big financial decision in the future.

When Is the Best Time to Build Credit?

The best time to build your credit is as early as possible. The length of your credit history impacts your credit score by 15 percent. By starting at an early age, your credit score will be positively impacted in this regard. As a general rule of thumb, seven years of credit history is ideal for building good credit. If you’re unsure about opening up a new line of credit, consider speaking to a financial advisor first.

Everyone’s financial situation is different, so it’s a good idea to know what will work best for you before getting started.

Best Practices When Building Credit

Building and keeping up good credit can be new for those who haven’t had much experience yet. The following are some best practices for doing so:

  • Apply for a credit card. You can’t build credit without a form of payment that affects your score. Do your research and find a card that you have a good chance of being approved for.
  • Be responsible with your spending habits. Having a credit card can positively impact your score if you use it responsibly. Be careful not to overspend—it can feel like you have unlimited funds if you’re new to using credit. Make sure you can pay off your balance in full to avoid a negative impact on your credit.
  • Keep utilization low. A general rule of thumb is to use no more than 30 percent of your card’s spending limit at a time. This will show lenders that you can be smart with your spending habits.
  • Make on-time payments. Late payments hurt your score immensely. Payment history actually affects 35 percent of your overall score. If you can’t make full payments at the card’s due date, at least pay off the minimum amount due on your balance.
Credit-building best practices: apply for a credit card, be responsible when spending, keep credit utilization low, make payments on time.

Why You Should Build Credit Young

Building good credit doesn’t just happen overnight. It takes years of smart moves and healthy practices to build a solid foundation. If you wait too long to start building, you’ll have a harder time when applying for loans or engaging in other financial decisions later.

Starting young also helps establish good credit practices from the very beginning. By doing so, you’ll be less likely to engage in activities that hurt your credit down the line. It can be easy to damage your credit, but hard to repair it. By learning this now, you hopefully won’t need to do much damage control later.

Although 18 is the required age to be a primary account holder on a card, there are still ways to start building credit at a younger age. This can be very beneficial for the future, as long as it’s done right. We know the process of applying for a card and building credit can be stressful at times—visit our credit repair blog to learn more about credit best practices.


Reviewed by Kenton Arbon, an Associate Attorney at Lexington Law Firm. Written by Lexington Law.

Kenton Arbon is an Associate Attorney in the Arizona office. Mr. Arbon was born in Bakersfield, California, and grew up in the Northwest. He earned his B.A. in Business Administration, Human Resources Management, while working as an Oregon State Trooper. His interest in the law lead him to relocate to Arizona, attend law school, and graduate from Arizona State College of Law in 2017. Since graduating from law school, Mr. Arbon has worked in multiple compliance domains including anti-money laundering, Medicare Part D, contracts, and debt negotiation. Mr. Arbon is licensed to practice law in Arizona. He is located in the Phoenix office.

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Source: lexingtonlaw.com