Unlike Rihanna, Your Lender Doesn’t Love the Way You Lie

If you’re dating a girl and you find out she’s cheated on every boyfriend she’s ever had, you automatically become convinced that she’s cheating on you, right?

Or let’s say you just found out that the guy you went on a date with last night is also currently dating seven other girls. If that’s not a turn off, I’m not sure what is.

Guess what? Your financial institution feels the same way. Not about your dating history, but about your credit history. A bad dating history can make someone hesitant to be with you; likewise a bad credit history makes lenders cautious about approving you for a loan. If you’ve mistreated other lenders in the past, what proof do they have that you’ll treat them differently? It turns out the world of finance isn’t just about numbers, it’s often more about the relationship between the lender and the customer.

As addicting as this show is, you wouldn't want to be on it yourself.

As addicting as this show is, you wouldn’t want to be on it yourself.

Here are two money habits that are a major red light to potential lenders looking to approve you for a new loan:

  1. You’ve made late payments in the past. This is where the “once a cheater, always a cheater” philosophy comes into play for lenders. One late payment might not seem like a big deal, but it is to your financial institution. Just like cheating on an ex shows your new love interest that you might cheat on them, making late payments proves to new lenders that you are more likely to get behind on your payments to them.  Plus once a payment is past 30 days due, it gets reported to your credit history and it stays there for two years. That would be like cheating, and then not only do you have to feel guilty about it and apologize to the person you cheated on, but every love interest you have for two years after that has written confirm that you’re a cheater. This will result in a lower credit score, higher interest rates, and in come cases denial for loan or credit application. So avoid the trouble. You committed to making a payment. You committed to a relationship with your credit union or bank. Now you have to follow through. Make your payments on time.
  2. Your credit card balance is close to your limit. Capacity, or how much of your available revolving credit you are using, makes up 30% of your credit score. Simply put, how much of the credit available to you are you actually using? If the limit on your credit card is $10,000 is your current balance $100 or $9,999? You want your dream guy to be desirable to others, but you don’t actually want him to date others. Similarly, you want to have credit (in the form of credit cards, Home Equity Lines of Credit, or Unsecured Lines of Credit) available to you, but you don’t want to use the maximum amount. So be selective. Don’t put unnecessary things on your credit card. Pay off your balance in full each month. Use no more than 40% of your available revolving credit at a time.

In conclusion, you gotta treat your financial institution right. Otherwise it will tell all of its friends and no bank or credit union will want to date you . . . I mean finance a loan for you.

Need more help understanding your credit history and/or credit score? Check out:  https://www.creditkarma.com/ or https://www.annualcreditreport.com/index.action.

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I Did A Juice Cleanse. It Was Awful.

Reasons why I thought I could do a 3-day juice cleanse:

–          I sort of like vegetables. They’re not the worst. And I love fruit.

–          There are 6 veggie and fruit packed juice drinks a day. I won’t be hungry!

–          My friend Julia from downstairs did it and LOVED it.

–          It will charge my body with so many nutrients, I will feel GREAT! I will be so healthy and detoxified.

–          If my roommate Lucy can do it, so can I!

–          Why not?!

When I first discussed doing a juice cleanse with my roommate, I felt very confident that I could do it, no problem. Probably because it was a week away. And while we were talking about it I was eating pretzel chips (everything flavored . . . YUM!) so it was hard to remember was it feels like to be hungry.

I was even pretty sure juicing was a good idea when we went to the store and bought all the ingredients. I love drinking out of Mason Jars! So obviously drinking kale, cucumbers, romaine lettuce, and ginger all juiced up out of a Mason Jar will be fun . . . as fun as drinking white wine . . . right?

The day before the cleanse I was still pretty confident. I told my mom about it really casually. I was all, “Yeah, I’m going to try a juice cleanse. Lucy and I are doing it. I might eat if I get hungry but I think it will be good to get all the vitamins and what not.” So smooth.

It wasn’t until 9:00 PM the night before we started that I got really nervous and realized I wasn’t sure about this whole juice thing. Lucy and I went downstairs to start juicing with Julia and that’s when I got really quiet and began convincing myself that it was impossible (inner panic attack!) It’s just SO MANY VEGETABLES. Can I really survive for 3 days just on liquefied veggies?

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So I told myself I would do the juice thing for one day. Just to give it a try. Just one day. You can do anything for one day. Or can you . . .

Day 1

Monday February 24, 2014

6:30AM – My alarm goes off. I realize I don’t have to make/eat breakfast or pack a lunch so I now have 15 minutes of my morning routine where I have nothing to do. I lay awkwardly in my bed, check Instagram, and try not to think about how much I really want coffee.

6:45 AM – I decide to get up and pack my juices. I magically fit all 4 mason jars into my lunch box. This must be a good sign!

6:47 AM – I pack a banana and a granola bar . . . just in case!

6:48 AM – I take the first sip of the “green juice.” EGHHHHBELEEEGGHHHHH! It tastes like I am drinking a salad. A salad made out of celery and grass. This is not good.

7:10 AM – I drive to work without drinking any more of my green juice. I will drink it at the office for sure, I tell myself. And I’m not even that hungry . . . The other juices will be better . . . (LIES!)

7:54 AM – I sit at my desk trying to sip from the green juice and then chase with water. I send this selfie to Julia (juice guru) and Lucy (poor, hungry roomie also trying cleanse for first time).

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8:30 AM – Lucy is feeling my pain. Julia thinks the green juice is delicious. I am worried about her.

8:57 AM – I contemplate just not finishing the first juice and going right to the second one. #2 is made out of pineapple, green apple, and mint. That has to be better right? Or maybe I’ll just eat the banana . . . NO! I can’t give up after just one juice . . . must resist . . . PS since when were bananas so appetizing?

9:06 AM – Julia says she thinks by tomorrow I will like the taste of the green juice because the cleanse is retraining my taste buds. Tomorrow? HAHAHAHAHA. By tomorrow I will have stuffed my face with donuts. And bacon. And chips. And candy. And milk. And ice cream. And pizza.

9:10 AM – I go to my lunch box in the break room and take out the banana. It’s currently sitting on my desk, mocking me. I am not desperate enough to eat it yet, but I think I might be getting light-headed.

9:31 AM – I eat the banana. Official time on juice cleanse without eating solid food = 3 hours and 1 minute. #fatkidproblems

9:35 AM – Banana guilt sets in. I will not give up! I will keep trying. I do feel better with that banana in my tummy though . . .

9:46 AM – I re-read the instructions for the cleanse online. How are other people drinking this green crap? They are crazy. As my coworker so helpfully pointed out, it looks like pond scum.

9:58 AM – I (sort of) finish the green juice. But then I remember that I have to drink that one again today as my 3rd juice. WHY?!?!?!?!

10:03 AM – The second juice is actually yummy! This may be because it is the only one without any vegetables in it . . . utoh . . . whatever I’m just excited that I like one of the juices.

10:11 AM – I confess to Lucy and Julia that I ate the banana. I am called a “traitor.” I regret nothing.

11:20 AM – Lucy drinks the wrong juice. It is possible that I mixed up the time labels on her mason jars. She is worried she might die. Why is juicing so complicated?

11:34 AM – Julia confirms that Lucy will not die as a result of incorrect juicing. Phew!

11:36 AM – I eat the granola bar I packed. The chocolate chips in it are glorious!

12:00 PM – On my lunch break, I go to Hannaford and buy lunch. And chips. And milk. I have officially failed at the juice cleanse. FAILED. **cue dramatic music here**

Although ultimately the whole juicing thing did not work out for me, I think it was an interesting experiment. In retrospect, I probably should have guessed that chugging lots of vegetables all day and not eating solid food would be an issue for me. I am the same girl who cannot eat real Greek yogurt; I eat Chobani Champions and pretend it’s the same thing. And I am also the girl who literally has to eat every hour that I am awake or I get cranky. I am the definition of hangry.

But I am very proud of myself for trying something new and eating outside of my food box (I didn’t enjoy it but at least I tried!).  And I ended up with one new juice recipe that I liked, so that’s a win! If you’re curious about the juice cleanse instructions we followed or interested in seeing the juice recipes, here is the site we used http://www.carriebradshawlied.com/2013/07/diy-blueprintcleanse.html .

Things I learned from my failed attempt to do a juice cleanse:

  1. JUICE CLEANSES ARE NOT FOR EVERYONE! I learned that I am not a juicing person. Maybe you have more will power than I do. Maybe you are not a baby and can go for more than 2 hours without eating. But I cannot. I will take my heavily processed Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal over a kale smoothie for breakfast any day!
  2. The most useful thing I learned from this adventure is that you can get really cheap vegetables at Asian Markets! We went to a local Asian Market and bought the following super long list of fruits and veggies for only $21:

30 ribs of celery

6 cucumbers

18 kale leaves

18 romaine leaves

1 bag of spinach

12 green apples

10 lemons

15 carrots

6 beets

1 pineapple

9 oz. unsalted cashews

Fresh ginger

Mint

That’s amazing! The same list at a regular chain grocery store would be upwards of $50. So whether you’re doing a juice cleanse or just trying to stock up your fridge with healthy snacks, check out your local Asian Market for low-price, fresh fruits and veggies.

  1. The other fun fact I learned during the juice cleanse experiment? Plain cashews are actually delicious! No salt or roasting is necessary. Plain cashews not salty like you’d expect them to be, but kind of sweet and crunchy. Try them!
  2. Julia and Lucy are crazy awesome at juicing. Shout out to them for actually doing this juice cleanse for 3 DAYS. You two are amazing.

Have you ever done a juice cleanse? Were you as terrible at it as I am? I’d love to hear about your experience. Feel free to leave comments.

Don’t Shop Alone, Ask Your CU for Car-Buying Help

This may come as a shock to you, but I know pretty much nothing about cars. I know how to drive one (but only if it’s an automatic) and that’s about it. I tend to think of cars the same way I think of most technology, as a magical creature who works in ways I don’t understand and possesses the free will to decide not to work if I anger it. Your car might be a mechanical, inanimate object, but car definitely has a mind of its own. Needless to say, this approach makes me somewhat clueless when it comes to knowing what features I want in a car, what a good price is, etc.

Right after college I bought a 2003 Jeep Liberty with help from my parents. To give the Liberty credit, it got me where I needed to go (most of the time). But it also once broke down three times in the same week so my Jeep and I were not exactly what I would call best friends. And after spending over $3,000 last year fixing brakes, sensors, tires, and everything else that can possibly go wrong in a vehicle, I decided 2014 was officially the year of a new car for Kelsey!

Although I won’t bore you with my whole car-buying story, I do want to share one super-helpful tip for you to use the next time you are in the market for a new vehicle – ASK YOUR FINANCIAL INSTITUTION FOR HELP! 

I’m lucky enough to work at a financial institution, so I was already familiar with the services our credit union has to offer members who are shopping for a car. Before I even started looking, a loan officer at our credit union sat down with me and walked me through through the pre-approval process. She helped me find out what my credit score was, what interest rate I would qualify for, the price range of cars I should look at, about what my monthly payments would be, and approximately what I could get for trade-in value on my Jeep. Additionally, loan officers tend to know a little (or in some cases a lot) about cars because they finance so many of them! In just a few minutes of chatting, our loan officer was able to recommend a few cars to me that she thought would be in my price range, offer similar features to my Jeep, and that she had heard good things about from other members. Although maybe not all loan officers are as knowledgeable as her, it’s worth asking. If your financial institution can’t give you any advice on car-shopping, they may be able to refer you to someone who can like an auto-buying consultant. Many people never think to ask their financial institution for advice when buying a car, but your credit union or bank can be an excellent resource.

All of that information from my pre-approval was invaluable once I actually visited the dealership. Without the help I got from a loan officer, my guidelines for the kind of vehicle I wanted would have been much more vague. Instead, I went into the dealership with a solid idea of what I was looking for. I was super lucky because my loan officer even accompanied me to the dealership and helped me navigate additional steps in the car-buying process like what kind of warranty to purchase, etc. Although your financial institution might not come right to the dealership with you, you can always give them a call and ask what their advice is on additional coverage for your new vehicle.

She's a beauty! Hopefully she will be nicer to me than my Jeep.

She’s a beauty! Hopefully she will be nicer to me than my Jeep.

 

Long story short, with help from my credit union I was able to drive away from the dealership yesterday in a 2012 Chevy Malibu. I felt confident that I got a good price on a quality car because I had assistance from my financial institution. Lesson learned – don’t be shy! Ask your bank or credit union for help finding your new ride.

P.S. Want to know the best thing about my new car? I found $4.25 in a secret compartment next to the steering wheel!!! Someone clearly forgot it was there before they traded it in. And now that $4.25 is mine 🙂 I’m rich.

I LOVE SURPRISE MONEY!

I LOVE SURPRISE MONEY!

White Chocolate Covered Oreos

Looking for a deliciously yummy Valentine’s treat that’s easy on your wallet and baking skills? Try this recipe for White Chocolate Covered Oreos! I made some last night and they are the best. I used white chocolate and pink sprinkles so they look festive but you can do whatever color combo you like. They were so simple to make it was almost impossible to mess them up (and trust me if anyone can screw up a recipe it’s me! I have burned water before . . . ). So if you’re baking for your sweetheart, friends, or coworkers this February 14th try these!

oreo 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ingredients:

1 package of Oreos (I got double-stuffed but you can get whatever flavor you prefer!)

2 packages of white chocolate chips ( I started out with only one bag and ended up needing more)

Sprinkles

Directions:

1. Spread Oreos out evenly on cookie sheet.

oreo 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. Melt white chocolate. A double boiler over simmering (not boiling) water works best. But if you’re too cheap to buy a double boiler (like me) you can fit a bowl over the top of a regular saucepan to melt the chocolate. Or you can use a microwave. The key to melting chocolate correctly – MAKE SURE IT DOESN’T GET WET! If any liquid gets into the chocolate it will burn, so be careful and take your time.

oreo 3

3. Once chocolate is fully melted and smooth, dip one Oreo into chocolate until it is completely covered. Place the covered Oreo back onto cookie sheet.

4. Shake sprinkles on top of coated Oreo and then repeat for each cookie.

5. Once you have coated and sprinkled all of your Oreos, place cookie sheet into refrigerator for 3-4 hours or until chocolate has completely hardened.

6. Try not to eat all 24 Oreos at once and ENJOY!

oreo 4

 

Happy Valentine’s Day! XOXO

Choosing a Credit Card Is Easier Than Flappy Bird

If you’re over 18, chances are you get a new credit card offer in the mail almost every day. Visa. MasterCard. Discover. American Express. The choices are endless. Each one promises to have the lowest interest rates, no fees, and an amazing rewards point program.  Sifting through all the offers to find the credit card that’s right for you is like trying to win at Flappy Bird – virtually impossible!

Two is my legit high score. Two.

Two is my legit high score. TWO.

But unlike with Flappy Bird (which you should just give up on playing before you punch your finger into your phone so hard it breaks), there is hope for the first-time credit card applicant. What’s the easiest way to be sure you’re getting a credit card that won’t fee you to death or get you in trouble? Ask your credit union for help! Most financial institutions offer credit cards of their own or have a credit card company they recommend to members. Applying for a card through your financial institution will ensure that you are using a trusted, secure, reliable credit card company.

Once you choose a credit card provider, there’s still the tricky question of which card to choose. There’s “Cash Rewards” Cards, “Travel Rewards” Cards, “Student” Cards, and so many more. They all have different terms, different interest rates, and different gimmicks to get you to choose them. Since your financial institution knows you and your money habits/needs, they can recommend which specific card will work best for you. Unlike a big credit card company, your credit union doesn’t just want to sell you something; they’ll work with you to find a credit card that doesn’t hurt but helps your credit.

Still reluctant to open up the Pandora’s Box of being a credit card holder? Or maybe you’ve already developed some bad spending habits and are working to restore your credit? Whatever your situation, a Secured Credit Card is a great alternative to a more traditional credit card. With a Secured Card you make an initial deposit into a secured savings account of $300 – $5,000. This deposit is pledged as security for your credit card account and will earn interest while you are using your card. You can only spend on your Secured Card as much as you deposited, so you don’t have to worry about racking up a high balance. Additionally, if you get behind or become unable to make payments, your credit card company will use your secured deposit to take care of your outstanding balance.

You can use your Secured Card just like any other credit card – merchants and retailers won’t ever know the difference! And your secured savings deposit guarantees your approval, so you don’t need to worry about being denied because of past mess-ups with your credit.

Still worried that a credit card will do you more harm than good? Here are a few tips for using your credit card wisely:

  • Pay off your balance in full every month. Don’t just make the minimum payment.
  • Limit yourself to just paying for certain things with your credit card. For example, use your card only to pay for gas at the pump. This will keep your balance down and will stop you from impulse shopping with your card.
  • Never pay for something that’s $20 or less with your credit card. This may seem counter-intuitive, but putting a lot of small $5 or $10 purchases on your credit card can really rack up your balance. You can pay for your $3 coffee with cash or your debit card.
  • Put a sticky note on your credit card with your savings goal on it. Say you’re saving up for Spring Break or a pair of concert tickets – put a note right on the card that says “CANCUN!” If you see the note when you pull out your credit card, it will make you think twice about the purchase? Do you really need the item or would you rather save that money for your trip?

Don’t be scared! Getting a credit card doesn’t have to be a scary, grueling experience. Ask the pros at your credit union for help! Now get out there and spend wisely (and just stay away from Flappy Bird. It’s a life-ruiner. It ruins people’s lives.)

Wear This, Not That: Rules for Appropriate Office Wear

I think one of the things I miss the most about coaching full time is the wardrobe. The kids are great and all, but let’s be real – the ability to wear leggings EVERY SINGLE DAY to my job was probably coaching’s biggest perk. Appropriate pool attire includes everything from business casual to athletic-ware to a bathing suit so it’s not too difficult to decide if your outfit is acceptable. The main rule is if you’re showing more skin than you do in your bathing suit, put something over it.

Needless to say, my wardrobe needed a little boost when I entered the fulltime world of finance this fall. Our office might be business casual, but my stockpile of Lululemon leggings and UNH Swimming T-Shirts definitely doesn’t make the cut any more.

In a modern workplace it can be really hard to toe the line between “cute and fashionable but still professional” and “go home to change ASAP!” You don’t want to completely lose your personal style but you also want to appear pulled-together. Here’s a few tips for getting a work wardrobe started:

  1. Buy a few business staples like a fitted blazer, pencil skirt, or nice button-down. You don’t have to have enough “work-only” clothes to wear a new outfit every day for a month. Get a few, quality, well-fitting pieces that you can pair with other things you already have in your closet.
  2. Divide your closet into 3 sections: “Work” for clothes that are business appropriate, “Weekend” for clothes to wear only outside of the office, and “Halloween” for clothes that should only be worn as part of a costume (or possibly should just be donated to Goodwill). Keeping your clothes physically separated in your closet will make early morning decisions on what to wear a lot less stressful.
  3. No boobs, no butts, no bellies. It’s a rule to live by. If any of those things are hanging out, you should change ASAP.

If you have on an outfit and you’re still not sure if it’s okay, here’s a “Wear This, Not This” list to help you decide. If it falls under the “Wear This” category you are all set to walk out the door, if it falls under “Not This” you may want to reconsider.

 Wear This . . . Opaque tights or leggings in black, gray, or tan.  NOT That . . . Fishnet, colored, or designed stockings.

Tights

Wear This . . . Dresses that go approximately to knee length and cover most of your chest. NOT That . . . Dresses that you might wear to a club or party, have cutouts or slips, have a short hemline.

Wear This . . . Necklines that are approximately in line with your armpits. NOT That . . . Deep, plunging neck lines that show cleavage (or close to it).

Wear This . . . Leggings with a shirt or dress that completely covers your front and back, hem should reach the bottom of your finger tips. NOT That . . . Leggings with a short top that exposes your front or bum.

What to Wear With Leggings

Wear This . . . Dress sandals with straps. NOT That . . . Flip flops, crocs, or sandals without a back.

Wear This . . . Dress shoes with a kitten heel or heel 3 inches or less. NOT That . . . Fancy shoes you would wear to the club, lots of glitter or sparkle, heels 4 inches or more. Also don’t wear Uggs to the office. Just NO.

High Heels

Wear This . . .  Nice, fitted clothing that makes your natural shape stand out, makes you have clean, smooth lines, is comfortable to wear. NOT That . . . Clothes that are too tight or clingy, clothes that are uncomfortable and produce bulges.

Wear This . . . Undergarments that are comfortable and are unnoticeable under your clothing (that’s why they call them UNDER-wear). NOT That . . . Undergarments that are brightly colored, too tight, or are plainly visible underneath clothing.

Tank Tops

Wear This . . . Comfortable sweaters, athletic wear that has company logo. NOT That . . . Sweatshirts, sweatpants, pajamas, athletic wear that supports a certain team.

Wear This . . . T-shirts with generic designs like flowers or paisley on them . NOT That . . . T-shirts with large graphic designs or sayings (it’s great that you’re the “World’s Biggest Belieber!” but let’s keep Justin out of the office).

Wear This . . . anything you’d wear it to church or visiting Grandma. NOT That . . .  Anything that was part of a Halloween costume.

I hope these tips help you dress to impress!