10 YoungMoney Shopping Hacks

Did You Know About All These?shopping

Halloween weekend is upon us and almost everyone is looking to unwind after midterms. In the spirit of this, I’ve decided to change things up this week and write about a few shopping hacks I know of that many people aren’t aware of! Whether you’re in the market for a last-minute costume, cheap booze, or getting a price match, I’ve got 10 YoungMoney tips that might save you some cash.

1) You Can Buy Alcohol At Costco Without A Membership

A lot of people aren’t aware of this and it isn’t something Costco advertises. Many states have a law that requires you be able to buy alcohol from warehouse clubs like Costco without a membership. I don’t know why it’s a law, but thankfully, California is one of the states that has it. To do this (besides be 21), all you have to do is let the greeter at the entrance of Costco know you’re there to only buy alcohol. They will give you a paper slip that you must present to the cashier at checkout. Note that you will not be permitted to buy anything else. I have personally witnessed people do this (including my friends), multiple times. If you don’t believe me, Click here.

2) Kirkland Alcohol Vs. Name Brand

Costco has better alcohol deals than just about anywhere. Especially if you purchase one of their Kirkland brand liqueurs. A well-known rumor/conspiracy theory you may have heard is that Costco’s Kirkland brand Vodka (French One) is actually Grey Goose Vodka. Although Costco or Grey Goose will not comment on this, they have never denied it. Actually, Costco doesn’t bottle any of its own Kirkland alcohol. They’re not a brewing company. They instead pay distributors to bottle it for them in a Kirkland bottle. Just Google “Costco Vodka Grey Goose” and you’ll get pages of articles. Many of the Kirkland brands are rumored to actually be very familiar name brands you know.

In the case of the Vodka, a bottle of 1.75L Grey Goose at a local Costco in San Diego sells for between $35-40. The Kirkland brand sells for $19.99 for the French Version and $13.99 for the American Version (rumored to be Tito’s Vodka). So don’t shy away from Kirkland!

3) Getting Free Shipping On Your Halloween Costume (Or Anything)

Let’s say you’ve waited until tonight to decide what to order for Sigma Kappa Delta Omega Gemini Catfish Superman’s amazing annual Halloween mega party this weekend. Even your Amazon Prime won’t get it here in time! Don’t worry, you can almost always get free 1-day shipping from big retailers. Big retailers want to please customers. Especially online shoppers who now make up a majority of their businesses. If you need something in a hurry, don’t bother paying the expensive shipping fees. Quickly hit the customer chat window and ask for free shipping. It will take you 2 minutes, and the worst they could say is no. But often times, they’ll say yes. Especially if you come up with a good excuse like “I need it for a last-minute gift”, or “It’s a clothing item I need for an event tomorrow night”.

This has worked for me SO many times. I’ve gotten free shipping (sometimes up to a $30 value) from Amazon, Macy’s, Walmart, Target, Best Buy, Zappos, any many others. Amazon especially is extremely accommodating to these requests. Try for yourself!

4) Walmart Will Price Match Amazon In Stores

Amazon is really starting to scare Walmart. So much so that Walmart has invested big money into improving its online retail experience. Including starting its own 2-day shipping membership program and giving away 30-day free trials. Walmart has also begun to price match Amazon which it did not use to do. Find something on Amazon that is cheaper than what Walmart is selling it for? Just pull it up on your phone and show the cashier. I’ve personally done this a couple of times and it’s saved me $20 on a TV stand and $7 on a memory card. When you’re living the YoungMoney life, it all matters. Take a second and price check Amazon to see if you can save yourself a few bucks. I haven’t tried this at Target yet, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they do the same.

5) Abandon Your Online Cart

Many online retailers will email you a discount offer if you put items in your shopping cart and just leave the website. You might have to wait a few days, although some sites follow-up within minutes! Retailers use data like your shopping history and where you live to help determine what kind of offer you’ll get, or if you’ll get one at all. They’ve figured out that customers who get that close to placing an order can sometimes be coaxed into completing the transaction with a little extra incentive like a 15% off code. BONUS: always check sites like RetailMeNot.com for coupon codes before you press “Place Order”. Again, this takes seconds and you could end up finding a code online that would save you 10-20%.

6) Grocery Store Apps

If you regularly shop at a grocery store chain like Vons or Ralph’s, you definitely need to sign up for a club card. It’s free and can save you tons. Most people know that. But, did you know many grocery stores now have apps that can save you more money? Vons (and parent store Safeway) have an app that gives additional coupons on top of your club discounts. The best part is it’s super easy to use. The app will track the regular purchases on your club card and recommend coupons to you. Especially if you regularly buy an item each week (like Oreos) and then all of a sudden stop buying Oreos. They might send you a coupon for half of Oreos. They also will give percentage or dollar discounts to your purchase. Special offers pop up every so often that give you $5-10 or 10% off your entire purchase that day. Pretty nice if you regularly do your shopping there.

7) Shop For Items On Specific Days

Many retailers like Target mark down items on specific days of the week. For example, Target has these discounts each week:

Monday – Electronics, Office Supplies

Tuesday – Women’s Clothing, Domestic Items

Wednesday – Men’s Clothing, Toys

Thursday – Shoes, Housewares

Friday – Cosmetics/Make-Up, Automotive Products

Many stores follow this strategy as well. It’s all about how the stores turn over their inventory and bring in new stuff. These specific days are when they restock on new items and need to clear out old stuff. If you’re planning to go shopping, maybe pick a specific day to stop in!

8) Free VISA Gift Cards

Free money? That is about as YoungMoney as it gets. Many car manufactures want you to test drive their cars and offer promotions multiple times a year to do it. They often will give away $25-50 VISA gift cards and sometimes up to $100 for just test driving their car. But YoungMoney knows you don’t want to march down to a dealership and spend an hour doing this. So here’s a hack I’ve been doing for years. Now, disclosure, this is not the most ethically upstanding thing to do and isn’t something I can truly recommend. But here is a way to get the card by doing nothing.

  • Google “Test drive gift card” every few months. Find a car company doing the offer
  • Sign up for a test drive online, enter your email and whatever else they want (use a junk email address so you don’t get all their marketing emails all the time)
  • Get the email from them for your scheduled test drive
  • Call a local dealership for that car brand. Ask for a salesperson and ask them what the dealer code is for that location. Don’t tell them why you want it. It is not illegal in any way to ask for this and it is public information.
  • Open the link you got, enter the dealer code and the salesperson name from the phone.
  • Send the gift card to your house.

It’s that easy. That’s all the information you need to fill in for them to send it to you. My friends and I have done this for years and gotten hundreds of dollars in these gift cards. Again, I can’t claim this is the most honest thing to do. But, it is what it is. You can make this decision for yourself if you wanna do it.

9) Free 2-day Shipping Membership From ShopRunner

ShopRunner.com offers free 2-day shipping membership to anyone with an American Express Card. Go to their website and enter your card number. You’ll get free 2-day shipping from hundreds of retailers including GNC, Under Armor, NFL shop, and many others. If you have an AMEX card, it’s a great freebie.

10) Check Your Credit Card Offers

Many retailers partner with credit card companies and banks to offer you extra cash back for shopping on their website. I have a Wells Fargo Credit Card and got an offer this month for 10% cash back from Starbucks all month-long. Plenty of stores do this. Log onto your cards website and check for offers that might save you some money!

Have a great Halloween weekend and I hope everyone did great on their midterms! (Sorry if you still have more exams)

See you next week! Subscribe below for more YoungMoney101!

-Matt Dalton

Roth IRA vs. Traditional IRA: Which Is Better?

What’s The Difference?millennials

Many adults can’t even answer this question!

This post comes directly from a comment left by a reader in a previous article. That person wanted me to explain the difference between a Roth IRA and Traditional IRA, as well as explain how to open one, where to open one, and how much to contribute to one.

All of those questions would make for an extremely lengthy article. Instead, I’ll be breaking it into a few posts. Today, I’m going to just start by explaining the difference between the two. This is really easy for me to answer and may seem obvious for those who know about them. But for many college students (and adults for that matter), retirement accounts are a topic everyone seems to have questions about.

Retirement! Only 40+ years awayRetirement beach writing

I’ve indirectly explained the significance of starting to save for retirement at a young age in another article on compound interest. If you haven’t seen that, it might help to start there. Click HERE to read all about compound interest.

I will end up explaining more in-depth the importance of saving for retirement in your 20’s in another article. It’s really just important to start a ground zero if you will, and explain what the benefits and cons to these accounts are.

What is an IRA?

IRA stands for Individual Retirement Account. Meaning that you, the owner of the account, are solely contributing to the account and receive no contributions (help) from an employer. IRA’s are in contrast to a 401(k) retirement account that an employer typically provides where they contribute money in addition to what you contribute. I will explain more about 401(k)’s in the future.

Why Would I Need One If I Will Have a 401(k) From My Work?

This also seems to be a question that pops up a lot. The quick answer to this is so you can save additional funds for retirement outside your employer and possibly get better returns on the money you invest. In a lot of employer given 401(k) plans, there is a limited number of investments you can choose from. Employers set it up for employees to select from a smaller number of funds they have chosen. They do this to reduce costs on their end and also provide lower fund fees for you. Because this article isn’t about 401(k)’s, that’s all I’ll say about them in this post. If you want to know more, definitely research it or drop me a comment below!

Traditional IRA’s

An IRA is an account set up at a financial institution that allows an individual to save for retirement with tax-free growth or on a tax-deferred basis. Money put into an IRA is from your own income after taxes. This money you’re putting in is on a post tax basis, meaning it is income that has already been taxed just like all your other money. This is in contrast to a 401(k) that allows you to put money into it before taxes are taken out.

With a Traditional IRA, you make contributions with money you may be able to deduct on your tax return. Any earnings potentially grow tax-deferred until you withdraw them in retirement. All the money you make on your investments will not be taxed up until when you retire. Traditional IRA contributions are also tax-deductible on your tax returns for the year you put money in. So you’ll end up getting some savings on your taxes for doing this. To learn more about this, click HERE.


-Tax deferred earnings you won’t pay until you take money out during retirement

-Tax deductible on your taxes each year you contribute to the account

-Contribute $5,500 a year to one of these bad boys, regardless if you’re rich or poor


-You’ll end up paying taxes at the end when you retire which will definitely decrease your money for retirement


These are great for young people. Here’s why.

With a Roth IRA, you make contributions with money on which you’ve already paid taxes. Your money can then potentially grow tax-free, with tax-free withdrawals in retirement, provided that certain conditions are met.

What this means for you is that just like a normal IRA, you contribute money after taxes to the account. But when you withdrawal during retirement, there is NO TAXES. NONE. You keep all the money.

No taxes! What’s the catch?

The catch is you have to meet certain income requirements. You have to make less than less than $132,000 a year if you’re single (it’s higher for married couples filing taxes together). This is why they’re so great for young people. Early in your career, it is doubtful you’ll be making over $100,000 a year. Where as later in your career, it is possible that you may not qualify for one of these if you’re making the big bucks. Which YoungMoney really hopes you do.


– Tax free withdrawals

-Contribute $5,500 a year to one of these, but only if you’re making less than 132k a year

-After five years, up to $10,000 of earnings can be withdrawn penalty-free to cover first-time homebuyer expenses


-Money put into these are NOT deductible on your income taxes

-Have to make less than 132k a year to be eligible

Which One Is For Me?

There are pros and cons to both as you can see. But at a young age, many experts recommend contributing to a Roth, especially if you expect to not qualify for it later on. You can always switch to making an IRA account later on. Also to keep in mind is you can contribute to both if you like. However, that $5,500 annual contribution limit from the IRS isn’t per account. It is in total. Meaning you can only contribute 5,500 to any IRA in one given year. If you put 5,500 in a Roth one year, you’re maxed out and can’t contribute to a regular IRA that year.

I can’t tell you which is for you, but if you’re interested in reading more about them here is more info from Fidelity. Click HERE.

Hope That Helps!

Hope that gives you a better understanding of them. If you have any questions, comment section is below and you can comment anonymously.


My email list is growing slowly by surely! Please add your email address to help me grow the site.

See you next week!

-Matt Dalton

Why You Need An Emercency Savings

You Need This Before You Do Anything Else!


If you’ve been reading my blog closely, you’ve noticed the last few articles I’ve written have all mentioned setting up an emergency savings account. Today, I want to share with you why you need one before you save for (or buy!) anything else.

Why This Topic?

From my own experience, I’ve noticed very few people around my age seem to have one of these. If something were to happen like their car breaking down, scholarship money not being received, or getting fired from their job…they would have nowhere to turn except hoping their parents might help them out. For many, their parents are the emergency fund, and that’s fine for now. But what happens for these people when their parents can’t/won’t help them OR they graduate college and need to begin figuring things out on their own?

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Could I cover an unexpected expense of $500-1000 if I needed to? (Average cost of a car repair)
  • If yes, would that unexpected expense kill my budget for a month, two months, or more?
  • Would an unexpected expense keep me from being able to pay other obligations?
  • Would I resort to having to put that expense on my credit card?

If you answered yes to any or all of these, you definitely need an emergency savings. An amount of money set aside to easily dig you out of situations when you need it.

So What Is An Emergency Savings?

This one should be pretty obvious. An emergency savings is a separate savings account from your primary savings, checking, retirement accounts, and all other monetary accounts you have. It is set up to be used only in case of an emergency. You never spend anything out of this unless you absolutely HAVE to. This isn’t for when you spent too much money in PB last night.

Why Do You Need One?

Even if you do have coverage from your parents right now if an unexpected expense were to pop up, you’re going to thank yourself in another few years if you start learning to build one now. At some point, your finances will all (hopefully) be on you. If you learn to put money aside for emergencies now, you may end up with more money to put towards other things down the line. My own personal emergency savings is set up to cover me up to a year without working and covers living expenses, bills, gas, car payments, food, fun. I could honestly take a year off and change nothing about my style of living. Pretty nice, right? I want you to have that kind of security too.

So What Is Supposed To Be Used For Then?

Primarily, people set these up to cover them in the event of job loss. If you started working full-time and lost your job for whatever reason, an emergency savings is traditionally used to cover a few months worth of living expenses while you search for a new job. It’s like insurance in a way. You hopefully won’t need it. But you’ll sure be happy you’ve got it when/if you do.

However, this has been expanded by financial experts recommendations to also cover smaller emergencies such as a car repair, family issue, or whatever else is truly a critical emergency and you need money. Your pet monkey BoBo gets taken by kidnappers and holds him for ransom. You need cash. You get it.

How much do I need to save? The 3-6 Month Rule

So here is something that is really tricky to answer. Honestly, it depends on you. Someone working full-time and supporting a family probably needs more than a college student looking to learn to build their financial chops.

A broad guideline from many experts is three to six months’ worth of the money that you need for all non-discretionary expenses (such as health insurance, your rent, food, other essentials to live on). That way, you have enough that if you were to lose your job, you’d be able to continue paying your bills while you looked for another one.

The Problem With The 3-6 Month Rule

This assumes no variability. Some people go into professions that are more secure than others. Someone working for a Fortune 500 company has a lot more job security than a freelance photographer lets say. The more secure your job is, you could save maybe just 3 months. If you’re going to be working in a job that is less secure, you’ll probably wanna stash away a bit more in case something happens.

What Financial Experts Recommend: F**k 3-6 Months. You need more.

Many financial experts now recommend having 8-12 months of salary stored away. This also deals with people’s tolerance for risk. If you’re not someone who worries as much, you may me comfortable with only 3 months living expense stored up. Someone like me who is more risk averse when it comes to this subject, has saved an entire year up*.

Financial experts also recommend having some money saved for small expenses or emergencies such as car repairs, etc..

(*Side Note: my savings is accounting for a full year on my estimated living expenses after college. If you really wanna know how much I’ve saved, you can ask me personally or shoot me an email on the contacts page).

How Much You Need (as a college student) – Start With $500-$1,000

Now, I totally realize saving tens of thousands is hard to do. Although it is possible. BUT, for many readers this may seem overwhelming. So start small. Saving $500-$1,000 would be a good place to start. It’s where I started.  Keep it for when something happens and replenish it if you have to use it.

This small sum can get out of a lot of tricky situations. It’s enough to pay a speeding ticket, average car repair, a forgotten bill, losing your wallet in Vegas, and most other issues that may pop up for you.

Saving just $1,000 would make you better off than most American’s

Read this link: http://www.marketwatch.com/story/most-americans-have-less-than-1000-in-savings-2015-10-06

“Approximately 62% of Americans have less than $1,000 in their savings accounts and 21% don’t even have a savings account, according to a new survey of more than 5,000 adults conducted this month by Google Consumer Survey for personal finance website GOBankingRates.com. “

Did you read even that little excerpt?! 21% don’t even have a savings account? Holy Sh*t. And 62% have less than a thousand. That’s so scary. By just saving a thousand, you’ll be better off than 62% of the United States.

Where To Save

Don’t listen to any other baloney out there. You want your emergency savings locked up tight in a savings account. Not the stock market, not a money market, not bonds. It needs to be liquid and easily accessible – FDIC backed.  If the rate of return on that account is small, that’s okay. After all, says Greg McBride senior financial analyst at Bankrate.com, “It’s not an investment—it’s a safety net.”

I personally recommend an online savings. They pay a lot better on these than anyone else. I use Ally.com for my emergency savings. But you can keep it wherever. Just needs to not be touched and left for when it is needed.

Subscribe to YoungMoney!

Hey, I would really appreciate if you’d subscribe to my email list below. I know it’s a long scroll on your phones, but go to the bottom of the site and there’s a box to type your email in. You won’t get a ton of emails all the time. Just when a new post is published. It would really help for me to know how many people are regularly coming back to read and also helps build the site. Thanks in advance.

Have a great weekend and see you again next week!

-Matt Dalton

Having More Money In College

Help! I Spend All My Money.


Here we go. The top question I’ve gotten since the launch of this site.

How on earth did I save so much money during college? The answer to this question is honestly pretty boring.

People asked me a lot of ridiculous questions after I published how much I’ve saved. Let me just start by dispelling any rumors.

I didn’t win anything. I didn’t get a ton of money by receiving scholarships. The biggest scholarship I ever got was the $732 middle-class scholarship (Thanks, Obama).

Here is the big one: “Did you make all that investing in the stock market?”

The answer is no. Actually, the only investing I do currently is through my retirement accounts.

Like I say in my introduction to this website, it all has come from simply saving money I’ve made from working throughout college.

What Do You Mean No Stock Market?

I’d like to actually address the stock market question specifically. Stocks are sexy apparently, because that’s what everyone assumes is the sure-fire way to make money. Don’t get me wrong, it is. But any finance professional will tell you the stock market is a long-term play unless you’re a wiz like Warren Buffett. Even then, you’re going to need a bit of knowledge and a ton of luck to beat the markets.

You also have to understand where you’re at in life. As a college student, I can’t imagine you’ve got tens of thousands in capital just lying around at your disposal to invest in the stock market. Well, then again, I suppose many reading this went to Del Norte High School. Scratch that, you might.

All kidding aside, the amount of money you could put into investing would buy you probably a handful of stock shares. Not thousands. Unless you’re going to do some penny stocks, Jordan Belfort sh*t. If you are, god speed. A handful of shares even getting you a huge return (20%+) would make you a small amount by the time it went through Short Term Capital Gains Tax. As any accounting student will tell you, it’s hefty if you sell a stock if you haven’t owned it for over one full year. Yes, less than one year is considered short-term by the IRS.

Save More Today Than The Stock Market Will Make You

Here’s some food for thought. Let’s say I think Twitter is bound to shoot back up in value after Disney & Apple both decided to not purchase it today. (Did you know Twitter is for sale?) I put in $500 in order to purchase 25 shares at $20 a piece. Twitter comes through for me and shoots up 20%. This is a HUGE gain. I mean, seriously read that as a Donald Trump HUGE.

The stock price is now at $24. I made $4 on every share I own. My $500 turned into $600. HELL YEAH. Let’s cash out. I made 100 bucks doing nothing. BUT…now it is time for taxes.

Short term capital gains is done by your income tax bracket. Let’s say I’m in the 25% bracket. My 100 gain is now only 75 bucks. Thanks again, Obama.

So you made $75. You know where else you could have gotten $75 from? By just saving $75 from your paycheck instead of spending it. Chances are, you can end up with more money by just saving that you can make doing short-term sales in the stock market without investing a lot.

The Truth Is That Saving Money Is Boring.

To get better with money, you have to start by learning to save. People hate this. Mostly because it takes a while to do and also to get good at doing. It takes the commitment of making it a habit. You can’t half-ass it and do it for two weeks like people who promise to get themselves into the gym every new year.

But let me tell you something I learned.

You Learn To Love It

It took me a while to get going, but once I was consistently saving money, I loved it. You get excited to see your bank account balance growing and begin to set mini-goals for yourself. The more you start to save, you’d be surprised how much more you watch every aspect of your spending.

So How Do I Spend Less? I Have Bills, BRUH.

So do I. And I also love going out with my friends and buying stuff. But it can be done! Slowly but surely.


  1. Figure out how much you’re spending.
    • This might hurt. It’s like waking up after a night out and checking your bank account.
    • Start by going back through your bank account and determining all your spending for one full month.
    • You can’t start saving unless you know how much you’ve got to manage
    • Many banks offer a tool to check your spending categories and break it out for you!
  2. Determine money spent on needs vs. wants
    • Figure out what you have to spend money on (Rent, food, utilities, gas, etc..)
    • Figure out how much you’ve been spending on wants (Going out, drinks, eating out, movies, dates, your Amazon cart)
  3. Make A Budget
    • You can do this easily in Excel if you like that or I recommend Mint.com.
    • Figure out how much money is coming in. (Paycheck)
    • Take away all money you must spend on your needs
    • You’re left with money you probably normally spend all on wants
  4. Determine How Much You’ll Spend On Wants OR how much you want to save
    • This can start two ways. People who are looking to really start saving may decide how much per month they want to begin saving. They save and then the left over is “spending money”
    • This might be tough for those who go out a lot currently or feel like they’re always low on cash. So start by deciding how much you’ll spend on those wants. $200 a month, $300 a month. Whatever it is.
    • The rest will be your savings
    • This is all your own self motivation. You have to stick to the budget. Divide your monthly spends into weeks so you have $50 a week to spend instead of one big sum you blow through at the start of the month.
    • Set limits through your bank. If you really have issues with this, you can tell your bank to cut you off. You can set a limit on yourself that once you spend a certain amount, the card stops working.
  6. Save
    • Put money into you savings account. Ideally one that might be separate than the bank you use for your checking/debit card. That way it’s harder to touch. So you’d have to request a transfer and wait a couple of days before getting it in your account.
    • Don’t take it out. You’re only hurting yourself.
  7. Watch your money grow!
    • This isn’t rocket science. It’s easy to do but hard to stick to doing. Just like going for a short run everyday isn’t that hard, but the hard part is you have to keep doing it.
    • You also don’t have to only save money for no reason. Save towards something. You first need an emergency savings for when stuff comes up. After that, you can save towards a vacation, a car, Coachella. Whatever. Learning to save really benefits you.

I really hope this helps to put you on the right track if you’ve been needing it. Ask any questions in the comments below!

Thanks for reading!

Matt Dalton

Hack Your Credit – A YoungMoney101 Guide

After publishing an article a couple weeks ago on what makes up your credit score, I’ve gotten a lot of questions about how you can improve it. So here we go.



5 Ways To Hack Your Credit:

1) Get A Credit Card (3 ways)

This may seem obvious, but it’s going to be hard to effect your credit if the only outstanding information on your report is your student loans. You can’t change those right now (besides paying them off) and they’re just sitting there on your report. A lot of people I’ve come into contact with seem to be afraid to open one up. I’ve heard things like, “I don’t want a bad score. So I just won’t open a credit card.”

Credit is a good thing! You definitely want to establish it. Read more about that in the article I wrote on it HERE.

But, “Yo, YoungMoney guy…my bank won’t let me open one.”

Open a college credit card

Okay, so I’ve heard this argument too. First things first, you probably can’t qualify for a normal credit card right off the bat if it’s your first one. But lots of banks have college student specific credit cards! They keep in mind you don’t have a ton of income and limit your balance to a sum much smaller than a normal credit card. If you’re looking to get into one of these, I’d recommend checking with whatever bank you’ve been with for years for a checking/savings account. They’ll be more likely to approve you for this. It’ll also help you if your grades are higher and if you have a part time job to prove some income.

Secured credit card

If you can’t get a college card, check out a secured credit card. I won’t go into too much depth about these, but you can read about them HERE. I’ve never had one, but I have friends who speak highly of their ability to establish your credit. Basically, it works by instead of having a bank lend you money, it involves you putting down a deposit. You lend to yourself. You put down $500 for example, and then can borrow against your money as credit.

Sign up with your parents

Shoutout out to mom and dad. You can be a cosigner on their cards and get the credit history as they pay their bills. Definitely a smart move if your parents are down.

2) Continuously Pay During Each Month (Micropayments)

This is more a way to trick yourself into always paying your bills. Some people complain that by the time their bill comes each month, it’s just too high for them to pay all at once. So they just make the minimum payment and get that interest charge. Instead, try paying each week or even every few days after you make a charge on the card. I personally do this. It just helps me budget better. There is no limit to how frequently you can pay down your balance. It might help you keep on top of your payments and never get the chance to only pay the minimum each month!

3) Keep That Utilization Low

The absolute biggest factor you can influence is your utilization. You can’t do much about the length of your established history and credit card companies know that. So influence the 1 big factor you can. How much of your available balance you’re using! Figure out when your billing period closes each month. It’s on your statement. Pay your bill down before the closing date and your monthly amount is recorded. You ideally want to keep your utilization between 2%-5% at bill closing. This doesn’t mean don’t pay your whole bill, but instead let the billing period close with a small balance of 2-5% of your total available credit. Then when the statement closes, pay the rest of it off.

4) Increase Your Limit! The Big Hack To Credit

This will instantly bump up your score and is really the biggest hack you can do. At anytime you are allowed to call your credit card company and ask for a limit increase. By doing this, you lower your total utilization we just talked about above. I just did this a couple months ago.

If my limit is $1,000 and I spent $100 this month, my utilization is 10%.

If I increase to a $2,000 limit, I’m instantly down to 5% utilization.

See how big of a difference that can make?

Now it is important to note, you shouldn’t ask for a limit increase if you haven’t been paying your bills (duh) or opened the card within the last year. Wait one year to ask for one to allow your bank to establish some history on you first.

5) Ask Your Landlord To Report Your Payments To Credit Bureaus

You can ask your landlord to tell credit companies you’ve been paying your rent. You can also ask utilities companies to do this. Like SDG&E or Cox. They send a report each month saying you’re paying your bills. You’d be surprised how much this can help establish your credit.


Always check your credit. At least once a month. It’ll only take you 2 minutes on www.creditkarma.com! Being on top of what your score is keeps you thinking about how you can improve your spending habits.

Keep your credit in good standing will save you money for the rest of your life!

You’ll qualify for lower rates on loans and save thousands when getting new auto, home, or student loans.

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Matt Dalton