Author Archives: Daniel Packer

Improve Your Credit Health with These Simple Steps

If you think that money rules the world, you’d be mistaken. In fact, when it comes to buying power in the United States, nothing gets you more than a healthy credit score. Sure, you can pay cash for a majority of your purchases, but when it comes to making the big purchases in your life, such as buying a house or even a car, a healthy credit score will help your dollars go farther.

handing over money

If you are like millions of people, you may find that your credit score isn’t as healthy as lenders would like when you go to secure a loan, purchase a car, lease a new apartment or buy a home. If you’ve been turned down for credit because you have a low credit score, don’t get discouraged; there are some simple steps that you can take to turn things around and get the bank to turn their “no” into a “yes.” Before you can start to take the necessary steps to improve your situation, you need to obtain a copy of your credit score. There are a number of sites such as Creditsesame.com where you can obtain a copy of your score.

Be Mindful of Credit Card Balances

One of the easiest ways to improve your credit score is to make sure that you maintain low balances on your existing credit cards. You want to strive to keep the amount that you owe, compared to the available credit you have, at a rate of 10 percent or lower, according to Barry Paperno, consumer affairs manager with MyFICO. If you have credit cards that are close to their limit, you can increase your credit score by paying down those balances.

Deal with Past-due Accounts

Everyone has fallen behind on payments at one time or another. When a payment is late, it has a huge impact on your credit score. Your credit history accounts for 35 percent of your credit score. That means that making even one payment more than 30 days late can drop your credit score. If you have several accounts that are past due on your credit report, you can’t waste any time correcting the problem. Accounts that are more than 90 days late have a bigger negative impact on your credit score, notes Abby Hayes, contributing writer for U.S. News and World Report. It is important to get these accounts current as soon as you can. Once you’ve caught up on the most delinquent accounts, you can start to gradually catch up on the rest of your past-due accounts.

Don’t Close Accounts

Part of your credit score is determined by the length of time you’ve had established credit with each creditor. You are rewarded for positive, long-term history that you have established with each creditor, according to the contributors at Entrepreneur. So, if you have credit cards that you aren’t using, it’s best to keep them open. If you want to keep from using the cards, simply put them out of sight and forget that you have them. Only use one or two cards, and give your credit score the positive boost that it may need.

Pay off Balances

There are a number of different philosophies regarding the best way to pay off credit balances. One approach is to pay off your largest debt first, advises Mandy Woodruff, writer at Business Insider. She suggests that by paying down the largest debt first, you can save a ton of money on the interest charges related to the account. Another thought regarding paying off balances is to tackle the balance with the highest interest rate. By paying this debt off first, you can get out from under the high interest rate and have more money to put toward your other cards. Another plan is to pay off the card that has the lowest balance first, advises Curtis Arnold, founder of CreditRatings. This gives you the instant gratification of having a single card paid off rapidly and can help motivate you to keep going. It doesn’t matter which method you choose; the only thing that matters is paying off the balances on your cards so you can increase your credit score.

Having a healthy credit score is vitally important to getting what you want in life. Without it you will have a difficult time buying a car, obtaining new loans, finding a new apartment and owning your own home. If you’re plagued by a low credit score, you don’t have to give up on the things that you want. You simply have to put in some extra effort and do the work that is needed to improve your credit score. While there isn’t an overnight fix to the problem, over time you’ll be able to see an improvement in your score and will start getting more approvals from the banks.

The Difficulties Of Working With Freelancers

As I mentioned in a recent post, I started a serious babies website, and while the initial reaction has been great, I want to take it up a notch. Through Facebook sharing only, we manage to get about 300 visitors to each new image. It’s great, and the parents of the baby do a great job sharing, but not everyone is as excited as sharing someone else’s baby as I think they should be. And after the initial bump, traffic drops back down. To build a sustainable site, we need a reason for people to come back to the site, not just when we post to social media channels.

We’re Redesigning The Site To Be More Social

We know we have a great idea, we just need better execution. So instead of having one image and having people share a pictures of a baby, we’re going to turn this into a meme-type site, where users can caption each serious baby with their own caption, and share that. You could have one image with multiple captions, and people will be able to share their captions, not just the images themselves. You’ll be able to see what others are captioning, which ones are most popular, and it will be very easy to share on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest, something we have not explored yet.

Elance Is My First Stop For Programming Needs

As usual, I went on Elance.com to find someone to help with the redesign and the coding. I had a pretty good idea of the functionality and I still wanted the main colors to be baby blue and pink, but I wasn’t stuck on exactly what borders and trim, so I was open to suggestions. I waited a few days for the bids to come in and settled on a team that had a very cheap price, just over $100. For what I was looking for, I was really excited. And they said it would only take a week! It was perfect, so I awarded them the job and we started talking. We had a skype phone call and they started designing. I liked their ideas, but it was very difficult to communicate as English was not their primary language. After some back and forth where I was misunderstood and they did extra work because of it, I decided that we should part ways before getting too deep. They did help me with the design, so I offered a bit of money for that, but they declined saying that if they didn’t complete the job, they didn’t want my money.

OK, back to the drawing board. I went back through the other submissions, looking for someone that wasn’t quite as cheap but that had excellent communication skills. And I wanted someone with good design, so after a little back and forth, found my second group to help, for $150 to do everything I needed. They were in the UK, so language was no barrier. Very quickly, they surpassed what the previous group had built, and then started working on some of the new features. I had to make some corrections and then things started to slow down. I got less response, and they were building it according to their own specifications, not mine, and they ignored my feedback. I tried getting everything back on track by describing exactly the functionality I wanted and the flow that would be very user-friendly.

This is where we ran into trouble. They started saying that what I requested was more work. I’m ok with pushing them to complete the job, I was not actually asking for anything new, just a more use-friendly way to navigate through the site. Instead of getting a thank you message, it would bring users straight to their completed caption, and I wanted the caption text split into two lines dynamically instead of having characters squeezed into one unreadable line.

Negotiating and More Negotiating

It became apparent that they wanted more money to complete the project, but we had already agreed on one price for the project, not an hourly rate. They were also not looking for an additional $25, rather they quoted another $150. To me, they built the easiest parts of the sites and then quoted more for the more time-intensive issues. I did not like that, so I tried to argue back, but they stopped being available on Skype. Soon, I just wanted to salvage what we had, and find someone else to complete the project.

Once again, I went back to Elance, this time listing exactly the changes the site needed, 5 in all, and in perfect detail. There could be no mistaking what I wanted. I got a quote of $100, which I think is reasonable. I went back to the UK company and while I hate to pay for half a job done, offered $75 for the work they did since I’d have to pay someone else to fix it, going over my intended budget. They declined and removed all traces of their work from the test server. For some reason, they’d rather get paid $0 than $75, so that was that.

Finally, I went back to my third elancer, we agreed on $150 to start from scratch, and I gave him exactly what I wanted and how I wanted it, along with some screenshots I had. It took me 3 freelancers to find what I was looking for, but I guess the third time was the charm! We’re just about done with the site, I’ll do some testing, and then we’ll launch the redesign for everyone to use!

Tips For Using Elance

Elance has been a great resource for me, it looks like I’ve spent nearly $2,000 on the site over the past several years, and I keep going back for more. Typically, the price can’t be beat, and despite some initial issues, the finished product always comes out the way I want. My best suggestion is to have a document stating exactly what you want. The more detailed, the better, because if you have any disputes later, you can point to the document and show that it was agreed upon from the beginning. Also, find someone who is on a similar schedule as you, or at least someone who has a schedule that overlaps yours. I’ve worked with people in India before and it’s been great because when I am home, they are working, and we can chat via skype about the latest changes. Then, when I wake up, I can see the work they’ve done and make suggestions for when they get back to work.

Do you use Elance or another online service to complete projects for you? What have your experiences been like?

How to Choose the Right Career

How many times have you heard someone complain about their job over and over? How many times have you done it?

Choosing a career is one of the most important decisions you’ll make in your entire life. Especially if you don’t want to be a miserable person stuck in a dead end job that you hate.

Unfortunately, looking far into the future and choosing a career presents many challenges. However, if you take the time to really think about what career best aligns with your goals and ambitions you’ll have better success at choosing the right career for you.

Here are 4 tips to help you choose the right career.

You Have Objectives

When it comes to choosing a career there are usually two options.

Option A is choosing a career that you don’t necessarily enjoy but that brings in the big money. Option B is a career that you love and can see doing for the rest of your life.

Everybody is different. Some want to work for good money others want to follow their passions. There’s nothing wrong with either one of these choices. You just have to figure out what you really want.

You (At Least) Mildly Enjoy What You’re Doing

Have you ever heard the saying “passion turns into profit?” The statement isn’t always correct but it is true that if you hate your work others will outshine you.

Even if you choose money over passion you need to at least mildly enjoy your career. If you hate your chosen career then your work is not going to be up to par with that of your peers. However, when you enjoy what you’re doing you don’t mind spending time going the extra mile. Most of the time repeatedly going that extra mile is going to mean exponential career growth.

If you’re working primarily for money be sure to choose a career that at least somewhat excites you.

There’s Room for Growth

Nobody wants to work a dead end job. When choosing a career make sure there’s room for growth.

Can you move up in your company? If you’re self-employed is it feasible to expand your client base? These are very important questions to ask yourself before determining the right career path for you.

If you’re following your passion then career growth might not be on your agenda right now. Unfortunately in a few years from now that might change. You need to not only think about the present but also the future of your chosen career.

You’re Thinking Long Term

Finally, you need to think long term when choosing a career path.

Will there be jobs in this field ten, twenty, or thirty years from now? Will you still enjoy this career in a decade from now? Will you earn enough money to support your family? Will you earn enough money to save for retirement?

There are so many considerations to take in when you are choosing your career path. This shouldn’t be a ‘wing-it’ type decision.

You need to look at your current skill set, hobbies, and financial needs. Once you nail your objectives and take some time to figure out your calling you’ll be set to choose a career.

How did you go about choosing your career?