Episode 9: BONUS: Ask Ashley- Personal Finance Edition

It’s our first installment of Ask Ashley! Thank you so much for you submissions and questions.  Keep them coming! 


What are some effective ways to improve your credit score?

If you want to improve your credit score you have to know your credit score.  You can get your report from three different credit bureaus- Experian, Equifax and Transition.  They show exactly how much you owe and who you owe.  I would also recommend downloading the Credit Karma app.  The app shows credit scores from all three credit bureaus so you can work on repairing credit.  I would focus on paying off collections, IRS/Government related taxes first and then work on credit card debt.  Pay small balances first and then those with high interest rates.   


What are some good interest rates?  Should I negotiate or shop around?

For interest rates (at least in regards to housing), in my experience, I’d say stop around.  The better your credit score, the more competitive homeownership rate you’ll get.  Good credit scores always win!


What are some good reads for financial literacy?

I love finance blogs!  I know I mentioned Investopedia, but I also want to mention J Money's Budgets are Sexy blog.


What does saving look like for different budgets?

At the end of the day, it isn’t about how much your earn, it’s about your mentality is like.  It doesn’t matter if you make 6 figures or $20,000 annually, how do you approach you finances? Are you a natural saver or spender?  Mentality doesn’t have a salary!


How can I be serious about retirement when it’s so far away?

I wouldn’t say you have to be super serious about it now, but i would say just put something away.  Contribute to your 401(k) as soon as you can. A little bit goes a long way!


I cut out all my extra spending and paid my bills on time.  What should I do now?  Should I save on get rid of debt?

Focus on both! Saving is number one, but start small with savings.  If you’re a natural spender, start with $10 to get automatically deducted per paycheck into a completely separate bank account that you have NO access to.  From there, work on getting rid of some debt.  Use an app like Credit Karma to see exactly what you owe. 


How many bank accounts should I have?

It depends!  If you’re a natural spender, have a checking account where you have your general spending and discretionary income, and a completely separate account where you have any savings that you can’t access.


Any leads on the best credit lenders?

Firstly, why do you need a credit lender? Are you bad with credit?  If so, then NONE OF THEM.  They’re taking advantage of you being a poor lender and will tack very high interest rates.  Ignore that and work on improving your credit.  If you are good with credit, I would highly recommend going to The Points Guy blog.  This man has a slew of information regarding best credit cards with rewards. This is only if you have a healthy relationship with credit!


How do I travel and save at the same time?

First, PLANNING! Planning is essential to being able to travel and save.  Every international trip i’ve visited, I planned everything from where I’m staying, to where I’m eating, to how I’m flying, to how I’m traveling.  Flexibility is also important to traveling and saving.  I know budget airlines like Spirit, Ryanair, and Wow Air get bad reps, but they get you where you need to be for DIRT CHEAP.  If you want to see the world on a limited budget, you cannot think you’re better than certain airlines, foods and accommodations!


Should I refinance my car?

If you have bad credit, do not do that.  They may add higher interest rates or extend your loan term.  You may also be upside down on your loan- meaning you owe more on your car than what it’s worth. If you have a high credit score, you can negotiate your interest rate.

Debt Consolidation Companies?   NO! They are going to lump your debt and have you pay them with a high interest rate.  Don’t do that!


What is you favorite personal finance book?

The Millionaire Next Door by Thomas J. Stanley

This book changed my mentality on what it means to build and acquire wealth.  The author argues that millionaires generally don’t inherit their wealth- they build it slowly.  They are regular people with regular jobs that manage to KEEP more money than SPEND.  It showed me that I don’t have to earn six figures to become wealthy and build generational wealth.


Describe your savings style?

I am a natural saver and I’m cheap!! I don’t mind saying no to spending money i didn’t plan on spending!


If I had $10,000 today, what would I do?

I would donate it! I know, it’s that such a pageant queen answer?  It’s true!  When you give, it comes back to you!  Plus, there are tax benefits with charitable giving.