Between credit cards, student, home, and auto loans, most Americans have some sort of debt.
As you work to gain control of your finances, you have to know what can be negatively impacting you and keeping you from getting where you want to be.
Whether you have plans of owning a home, a car, or simply want to open a new credit card account, knowing your debt-to-income ratio(DTI) will help you know just where you stand and how creditors may view you.
What is a debt-to-income ratio and how is it calculated?
A debt-to-income ratio is a number used to measure a person’s ability to manage their debt. This number is calculated using two key pieces of financial information: your debt and your income. By taking your total monthly debt and your total monthly income, which includes any money earned prior to taxes and deductions, you can determine your debt-to-income ratio.
In another example where the total debts are higher than $1,500 and income is still $4,000, you see an increase in the DTI. If you have monthly debt payments equal to $2,000, and your gross monthly income equals $4,000, your debt-to-income ratio will be 50%.
What is the ideal debt-to-income ratio?
If you aren’t thinking about applying for an auto or home loan, opening a credit card account, moving into a new apartment, or doing anything else that requires someone to review your credit and finances, you may not care too much about your DTI. But when you are seeking credit, part of the application process may include a thorough review of your finances. Even though it will vary, every creditor and lender has certain criteria that applicants must meet in order to approve an application, so they might be interested in examining your DTI to determine if you should be approved.
Since this number gives insight into how you manage your debt, specifically your ability to repay your debt, the higher your DTI, the more likely you are to be denied. Creditors will look for borrowers who have a debt-to-income ratio no higher than 43%. This means that if your monthly income is $4,000, your total monthly debt payments should be equal to no more than $1,720. Although 43% is acceptable to most creditors, a lower DTI is even better.
Improving your debt-to-income ratio
If your DTI is above 43%, you have the power to change it. Since your monthly debts and income are the two important factors used to determine your DTI, there are a number of ways you can lower your DTI and get in a better position financially.
If you want to improve your debt-to-income ratio, one thing you can do is reduce the total amount of debt you owe. If you have taken out a loan for $5,000, your monthly loan payment will be included in your debts used to calculate your DTI. By making extra payments on your loan, you will be able to pay off the loan faster and reduce the amount of debt owed.
Additionally, if you want to improve your DTI, you can also avoid adding to your current amount of debt or increase your monthly income by taking on a hiring paying full-time job, part-time job, or gig.
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Increasing Your Savings on a Low-Income Salary
A low-income salary can create challenges when it comes to reaching your financial goals. You may want to take a vacation, buy a new car, or just put some cash away for a rainy day, but how can you do that with a limited income?
Although you may struggle to add to your savings, there are ways to gain control of your finances and ensure you have extra cash stashed away even when you don’t think you’re making enough money.
It is common for people to have debt. Between student loans, credit cards, and monthly expenses, managing your debt on a low-income salary can be challenging. Debt consolidation is an option that many people consider when debt becomes overwhelming and they are looking for a way out. When you consolidate your debt, you are combining all of your debts into one and paying them off with a loan.
Benefits of consolidating your debt include:
- One fixed monthly payment
- Pay off debt sooner
- Improve/increase credit score
Track your spending
Do you know what you spend your money every month? When you want to save, you may consider cutting out certain expenses, but you need to understand what you are spending your money on before you can make any changes. By tracking your spending, you can get a better idea of where your money is going and decide if it needs to continue to be spent in the same way. You’ll likely find one or two expenses to eliminate.
Consider affordable alternatives
When you shop online or in-person at your favorite retailers and merchants, the choices that you make can be costly. As you examine how much money you spend monthly, you should note that you could be spending less by considering affordable alternatives. For example, rather than opt for a name brand cereal, reach for the generic cereal. There can be concern about sacrificing taste or quality for the price, but you may learn to appreciate how much money you save.
Seek opportunities for supplemental income
When you have a low-income salary, you don’t have to only work with the income from one job. Seeking an opportunity for supplemental income, such as a part-time job, will allow you to have money that you can put into your savings account. In fact, you can use the income from one job to cover your monthly expenses, and the supplemental income can go straight to the bank.
Consider applying for a part-time position that may offer you a flexible schedule to accommodate your full-time job such as:
- Grocery store
- Convenience store
- Gas station
- Clothing store
- Ride-share company
People can save a lot of money on life’s necessities when they use coupons. If you need personal care items, clothes, groceries, or other items, you can easily find a coupon. There are a number of websites that offer consumers coupons and discount codes that can be used in person and online as well as sales papers that may be delivered in the mail. Additionally, many merchants and retailers have mobile apps and programs available to customers who want to save a bit of money on their purchases and get rewarded every time they spend. Depending on the retailer, you may get cashback.
There is no need to feel defeated when you have a low-income salary. True, it may be harder to manage your finances, especially when you compare yourself to someone who is making more money, but improving your situation is possible. With a few changes, you can start to put more money away and watch as your savings grows.
Managing Your Finances When Living Paycheck to Paycheck (Tips)
It is never ideal for a person to live paycheck to paycheck. And if the idea of living paycheck to paycheck sounds stressful, imagine actually living life this way. Many people who don’t have a high-paying job have to find a way to live comfortably, and learning to manage your finances is a great start.
Managing your finances may seem like a difficult task when you live paycheck to paycheck, but there are things you can do to ensure your success.
Create a budget
When you have a limited income and live paycheck to paycheck, it is important for you to create a budget. The reason being you can successfully manage your finances when you keep a close eye on your income and expenses. Additionally, you can cut out unnecessary expenses and have some extra cash.
Use the half method
The half method requires you to pay bills in two separate payments rather than one lump sum. For example, if your cell-phone bill is $100, rather than pay the full balance on the due date, you can pay $50 with one paycheck before the due date, and the last $50 with another paycheck on or around the due date. With each check, you will then have $50 to save or spend.
Pay the minimum balance
If you have credit cards, consider paying at least the minimum balance when the bill comes due. It may be tempting to just not pay it, but ignoring your credit card payment will only result in you owing more money and damaging your credit score. Between the additional amount you could pay in interest and late fees, it makes sense to just pay the minimum balance and keep your account in good standing. Of course, if you can comfortably pay the full balance, that is always an option.
Renegotiate your bills
Renegotiating your bills doesn’t mean you have to eliminate the expense but find a more affordable option for you. For example, you may be able to reduce your auto insurance payment by a few dollars if you change coverage or inquire about discounts. If you have both internet and cable, perhaps you could change the plan or discuss the possibility of a more reasonable price for your budget with your provider. Maybe even dropping cable and using online streaming services is an appealing option.
Put your savings on auto
Just because you live paycheck to paycheck, doesn’t mean you can’t save. Even if it is a small amount that you are putting away every payday, over time it will add up. Whether you are building an emergency fund in preparation for the unexpected or just saving for life, you can put your savings on auto and select an amount to automatically be withdrawn from your checking and deposited into your savings.
Why managing your finances is necessary
So, why is managing your finances necessary? Poor management of your finances will do more harm than good. In fact, if you don’t properly manage your finances, you could end up spending more money than necessary and even damage your credit score. And when your credit score is poor, you will have a difficult time getting approved for credit cards, loans, and even an apartment.
When you think about the issues that can arise when you don’t have a handle on your finances, you may think twice about your situation and what you can do to change it. When you are living paycheck to paycheck, you may feel helpless, but you have options. And with all of the financial troubles you could face leading to more stress, it could easily be avoided if you take the time to manage your finances.
Made poor financial decisions in the past that negatively impacted your credit? We can help! Contact Credit Absolute today for a free consultation.
Tips to Help Manage & Maintain a Good Credit Utilization Rate
When you think of your credit score, you may not consider how this number is calculated or how your actions play a role. Simply put, every credit score is made up of certain criteria, and each criteria can cause an increase or decrease in credit score. With credit utilization being one of the things that can impact your score, it may be time to learn how to manage your credit utilization.
In order to successfully manage your credit utilization rate, you’ll need to understand what it is and how it can negatively or positively impact your life.
What is credit utilization rate and how is it calculated?
Credit utilization rate is a number used to compare the amount of debt you owe to the amount of credit you have available. By dividing the amount of credit that you use by the amount of credit available, you can determine your credit utilization rate. The more of your available credit you use the higher your credit utilization rate.
For example, if you have several credit cards, one with a credit limit of $500, one with a credit limit of $200, and another with a credit limit of $300, your total available revolving credit amount is $1,000. If you use $400 of the $1,000 of available credit, your credit utilization rate will be 40%. Whereas if you were to use $100 of your available credit, your credit utilization rate would be 10%.
Why does your credit utilization rate matter?
Credit utilization is one of the many factors that can affect your credit score. It actually makes up 30% of your FICO credit score, which means it is one of the most important factors that influence your credit score. Depending on the number, creditors and lenders may or may not approve your application. This is because your credit utilization rate is another way for creditors and lenders to measure your ability to manage your finances.
If you have $2,000 of revolving credit available to you between one or multiple credit cards, in order to keep your credit utilization at or below 30%, you’ll want to use no more than $600 if you don’t want to see your credit score drop significantly.
Managing your credit utilization
Since your credit utilization rate accounts for 30% of your credit score, you want to pay close attention to this number to ensure it doesn’t start to negatively impact your score. This is especially true when you want to improve your score to increase your chances of being approved for things that require good credit such as applying for a home loan or apartment.
You can successfully manage your credit utilization rate by:
- Increasing your credit card limit
- Paying your credit balance in full instead of just the minimum balance
- Keeping credit accounts open even when there is little to no use
- Pay down debts
- Actively monitor your credit usage
Keep in mind that the goal of managing your credit utilization rate is to keep it at 30% or less. This doesn’t mean that you have to completely stop accessing your revolving credit, but you want to do so responsibly if you don’t want to see your credit score suffer.
For credit repair assistance and financial advice, contact Credit Absolute today for a free consultation!
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