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Hello and welcome to DrFrugal.com. If you've ever had the unfortunate experience of trying to find information online that has anything to do with money, you know most sites are worthless because they're trying to pawn something. Not here--there's nothing to buy. I've tried my best to only include pragmatic, realistic informtion to help you lead a simpler life by taking care of your personal finances.


Recent Entries/Articles


Scoring System: How do you know if you have good credit?

When you wonder openly about your credit score and if it's truly as good as you think, you might defer to that three digit number that appears every time you inquire about money, credit or borrowing.
And don't misunderstand that the score itself is a good indicator of where you are as far as how lenders see you.
But, it hardly is the bottom line and the end all, be all. That's because creditors don't view the score quite the same across the board. There are several indicators that are common place and viewed as a means to cement your status as a person that lenders see as a sure thing, rather than a liability.
So what exactly should you be looking for? What practices make your score perfect?
First, and the easiest is simply paying your bills on time. Not doing so is going to slowly but surely chip away at your credit score over time, and that is gong to spell bad news as you begin to want to borrow or manage your money accordingly.
As far as not paying at all or debt needing to be collected by an official debt collector is a sure fire way to be denied and then some. That negative check mark of sorts can last on your credit for nearly a decade, depending on the creditor and the amount. Even a $50 collection fee is going to hurt your chances of borrowing money or having the opportunity to buy a home or a car or money for school, for example.
For those who borrow money, do you tend to get the lowest possible rate, particularly when you buy the big ticket items like cars and homes? A lot of times you'll see promotions and specials for 0 percent financing or low rate terms of a 30 year fixed mortgage and you seem to see that you qualify for the former and have bottom barrel rates for the latter.
That's a great sign, and so is that influx of so called "junk" mail that is asking you to sign up for credit cards. Not getting them isn't the end of your credit prospects, but when creditors find you and want you to enroll, they're certainly not going to waste their time with someone who isn't going to qualify or doesn't even have a remote chance of doing so.
Good credit is the core of your finances and your financial future and not paying close attention to it or ignoring it all together is going to impact what you can get or just how easily or difficult acquiring it is going to be.
.... Keep Reading

Improving your credit can happen instantly

How important is your credit score? Furthermore, how important is your credit score to you?
The truth of the matter is your credit score is quite important and as far as how you view it, your credit is how you're judged when it comes to borrowing money or being issued a line of credit.
Yes, those three numbers, bunched together, is going to tell a lender, bank or underwriter specifically just if you're competent enough to be given money.
So how exactly do you ensure a good credit score?
You don't take on too much debt, and that debt doesn't butt up against your income. You should keep your debt to income ratio at 30 to 70, with those same lenders being able to pinpoint exactly the fact that you make plenty more per month then what you are putting out in expenses.
You also need to learn to pay your bills on time, and not skip payments, miss payment days or pay late. Yes, the grace period is there for a reason, but even that is a slippery slope as far as being later and later each month with your payment.
The bigger question than how to get a good credit score might be wondering how you can improve a score that is struggling to stay afloat some where between average and good, hoping it doesn't drag down to poor or paltry.
To improve your score quickly, you can focus on two things right away: if you have anything that is late, pay it immediately and if possible (and if it is a situation where it is in collection) pay it off in full.
That isn't always possible, but the less your debt is versus what the balance is makes you much more attractive to creditors and lenders. If you have a credit card balance of $4,900 and the limit on the card is $5,000, chances are you'll be viewed as a liability. Those high balances, even if you pay on time, put a ceiling on how much you'll be able to borrow, so the safe bet is to be at about 50 percent on credit ceiling versus what is on the card or line of credit at the moment.
Your credit score isn't necessarily a make or break, all or nothing number, but you'd be lying to yourself if you believed a poor one wouldn't be a huge roadblock to having what you want in the form of credit and more importantly getting a loan for what you need, such as a house or car with an interest rate that is lower or higher based on how good or bad, respectively, that score is.
.... Keep Reading

Losing your job means money decision start to really matter

Who ever wants to lose their job? The feeling is gut wrenching, and even the words written are tough to comprehend.

In short, you may just like your job. In fact, you might loathe it. But the reality of the situation is your job equals money in your pocket every other week for most of us, and you've worked diligently to save, spend and budget accordingly with that net income in mind.

So what do you do financially when that job goes away, you're out of work, and the income you once had is either completely gone or a fraction of what it was?

Well, the easiest answer from a money and savings standpoint is to immediately start the unemployment process so you have some income. You'll want to rework your budget to change those figures to reflect what is now considered money coming in as far as income (more on that in a second).

You also would be wise to take stock of what you already have on hand money wise. That is specifically related to seeing how much you have in savings and if you're leaving this job with any 401K or retirement money at your disposal.

Now, that isn't a full blown reason to literally dispose of it (you're not going to take a Disney World vacation to celebrate "early retirement") but rather to determine if you want to roll that money over and not pay an early disbursement penalty or if you really can't live without that money in your pocket to pay your bills.

The fact remains that the best move is to leave that money alone and roll it over, but if your savings account isn't up to snuff or is very low, you'll have to use that money as if it more readily accessible to you.

And perhaps the most obvious answer to what to do about being laid off is, in fact, looking over your budget. You have to most likely start cutting ferociously and without worrying about the "what ifs" or entertainment value often associated with what we do.

That might mean no more cable or internet, phone data or those bi weekly massages that leave you feeling comfortable then but less now that you can't afford them. You'll also have to kill off that restaurant and eating out budget along with steering clear of the mall or your favorite retailer for a while since clothing and gadget go out the window, too.

Being unemployed is frightening but doesn't have to be the end of you financially. Use whatever cliche you want (belt tightening, cutbacks, etc.), but the fact remains that losing your job simply means minding your money that much closer.
.... Keep Reading

Wrong Turn: How to keep life events from ruining ability to save

Plenty of things can derail your ability to save money. Some of which have really nothing to do with you.
Those money missteps that belong to you are easy to see, and can be pinpointed easily as to why you're not saving money.
You spend more than you make. You don't budget. Your idea of saving money is canceling HBO, rather than the entire entity that is cable television. Perhaps your propensity to purchase clothing outweighs you wanting to put money aside in your savings account.
Then, you have those, what would be called "life events," that can send you into a financial tailspin, and it has nothing to do with you.
Or does it?
Let's say your roof needs repaired, the car breaks down or one of the kids need braces. These aren't a few hundred dollars on the table but rather thousands that need to be found somewhere to be able to take care of these inarguable items that need tended to one way or another.
So what exactly do you need to do?
Yes, these things will affect your ability to save money, and that point can't be argued. Something of any substance that is going to cost you money is going to pull from what you already have set aside. A friend recently told me he spent one thousand dollars on car repairs and it totally wiped out all of his money he had saved.
That's it? A thousand dollars.
The truth is plenty of people want to blame major repairs and life events for the reason they can't save money, but the reality is they've failed to save money to be able to plan for such things happening, the ultimate financial Catch 22.
If you want to blame unexpected costs for derailing your ability to save, that's fine, but before that happens ask yourself if you've done enough (or anything) to work toward actually saving money. If you can honestly say that you make it a point to budget, save money by not spending or cutting when necessary and set aside a certain percentage of your pay to savings, then large scale repairs should just take a chunk away from what you have already put aside. It should never wipe you out completely.
Those that do "wipe you out" should be a brand new roof, replaced entirely or something of that ilk that is a $10,000 or more job. Otherwise, a few thousand dollars should be peeled off the top of your savings without much trepidation or hesitation, and it certainly shouldn't put you at zero balance once you've paid what you owe.
.... Keep Reading

Need a Coupon for Essentials?

A recent article on the NPR website claimed that more than 36 million people use Internet coupons for their daily purchases. When people use coupons correctly, they can save more than 50 percent off their purchases. Nowadays, almost everything has a coupon for it. There is nothing that a consumer cannot save money on with a coupon that he or she finds on the Internet. The following are some tips for finding coupons that one needs for everyday life:

Oil Change Coupons



Automobile owners have to change their oil about every three months or 3,000 miles. A consumer can find a slew of oil change coupons by entering the phrase "oil change" into a search engine. The search will return some amazing deals such as the $10 Goodyear oil change, the $20 Jiffy Lube oil change and the $17.99 Sears oil change. Another way that a person can get a discount on an oil change is to visit a mixed coupon site or take advantage of one-day sales. An example of a mixed site that one can visit for an oil change coupon is tirecoupons.org.

Grocery Store Coupons



Food shopping is becoming an expensive venture for consumers around the world. The average grocery store bill for American consumers is about $240 a month, according to a report by the How Stuff Works webmaster. Consumers can cut that bill down significantly using a number of strategies. The first strategy is to obtain a grocery discount card from the facility. Most grocery stores offer such cards at the checkout line. The second strategy is to visit a site such as Groupon or Coupon Cabin to look for coupons on specific items.

Clothing Coupons



Consumers can search for clothing coupons using sites such as keycode.com and promotioncode.org. Both sites have coupons and discount codes for clothing from the top providers. Consumers can click on any of the links to the right of the page, or they can type something specific into the search bar. The keycode.com site has a plethora of articles that can help consumers to make smart shopping choices, as well.


A ton of coupon sites are available for consumers who want to take advantage of them. Nowadays, there is no excuse for not using a coupon site as so many opportunities are available. Consumers can develop a smart couponing system that can get them by in the struggling economy.
.... Keep Reading

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