Real Estate

New Home Congratulations! Setting up for success

Congrats and warm wishes on your first home! Just like that you, you are a real estate jedi and are crushing this whole adulting thing! You’ve found the perfect home for your beautiful family and are a homeowner in the making. It’s exciting to think ahead about moving in and starting your new life there as soon as possible. Happy memories are right around the corner! Your move and transition will be a whole lot easier if you spend some time planning it out, and consider some of the important aspects of setting up your new home. The end goal is to officially make it into “home sweet home”! Don’t forget to mail out a new home card greeting card and also to make plans for a housewarming party once you are ready to celebrate the occasion with your loved ones. Housewarming wishes and housewarming gifts go a long way towards making you feel right at home. So soak up all those housewarming cards and congratulations messages with love and joy right from the start!

All too often, new homeowners make the move into their new home for the first time, and then discover that they overlooked a ton of to-do items that need to be done in order to make the house livable and ultimately a happy new home. Unfortunately, this can lead to a lot of frustration — and a lot of wasted time and money.

To help you avoid that fate, here are a few things to keep in mind when embarking on this new adventure of setting up your home.

Do a walkthrough of your new home

Before you’ve moved all your belongings into your new home, do a walkthrough to make sure nothing is broken or missing. Here are a few questions to ask yourself during this process:

  • Are all the appliances in working order? Test out all the major appliances to make sure they’re working correctly. Make sure everything in the house is accounted for and in good shape.
  • Are the windows and doors functioning properly? Check the doors and windows to make sure they close and lock properly. You should also call a locksmith and get new locks.
  • Are all the lights working? Flip all the switches to make sure that the lights work. While you’re at it, make sure all the lightbulbs are the same.
  • Does the plumbing work correctly? Run the water in all the sinks and tubs to make sure there are no leaks. The last thing you want is water damage during your first few weeks at your new house.
  • Are the heating and air conditioning systems in good shape? Check to make sure that the temperature in your home is comfortable. Ideally, your home inspector should verify this before you make a deal since these systems don’t come cheap.
  • Check the smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Push the test button on all of the smoke detectors to make sure they are working. You just spent a lot of money on the transaction, and you deserve the peace of mind that comes with knowing you’re safe.
  • Look for any safety hazards. Make sure there are no loose wires, nails, or other safety hazards in your new home. Getting injured in your new home isn’t anyone’s idea of a good time.
  • Take note of any damages. If there are any damages in the home, make a note of them so you can have them fixed. Welcome to homeownership!

As you can see, doing a house walkthrough when moving into a new home makes a heck of a lot of sense. By checking everything out, you can make sure that your home is in perfect condition and all your belongings are safe. If there are any problems or issues, you can address them right away, before the big move — before someone is hurt or your house gets damaged further.

House walkthroughs are especially important if you have small children or pets because it lets you rest comfortably knowing there isn’t anything dangerous in the home.

Create your new home to-do list

Having a to-do checklist is a great way to help you stay organized during the hard work of the moving process. You can start creating this list during your initial walkthrough. It will ensure that you don’t forget anything important that needs to be done before and after you move.

A to-do list will also help you prioritize what needs to be done and when. Ultimately, you won’t be able to take care of everything on your list at once, so it’s important to schedule things out over time.

Here are some things to consider including on your checklist:

  • Scheduling utilities to be turned on/off, including cable, internet/wifi, electricity, and heating oil, among other things
  • Packing and unpacking all belongings
  • Arranging for furniture to be moved
  • Changing your address with the post office
  • Hiring professional movers or procuring a rental truck
  • Planning out what furniture goes into which rooms

Of course, there are other important items to add to your checklist. Be sure to include anything that is specific to your move and needs.

Check your home’s security

If you’re moving into a new home, it’s important to assess the security of the property as soon as possible.

No matter how secure your new home is, there are always ways to improve it. For example, you can change the locks on all doors and windows, install a home security system, and add outdoor lighting. These are all great ways to deter burglars and keep your family safe. By taking these precautions, you can rest assured that your new home is safe and secure.

Set up your internet (and other utilities)

While this should be on your new home to-do list, it’s so important that it deserves its own section, too.

When you move into a new home, one of the first things you should do is set up your internet. This is a fairly simple process, but it’s important to do it as soon as possible so you can start using your internet right away.

Most internet providers will require you to set up an account and tell them your new address. Then, you’ll schedule an appointment with a technician who will come within a certain window of time. Depending where you live, this process can sometimes take weeks. As such, you should contact your internet provider as far in advance as possible to schedule an appointment when you know you’ll be moved in.

In addition to your internet, you’ll also need to set up your electricity. To do this, contact your local electricity provider and set up an account. Some electricity providers require you to pay a deposit before they turn on your service. To avoid getting caught off guard with a surprise fee, be sure to ask about this when you’re setting up your account.

Do a deep clean of your home

Before moving all of your belongings into your new home, you probably should spend some time inspecting the cleanliness of it and doing a deep clean if necessary. After all, you’re probably not keen on living in a mess someone else created — especially since you’ve just given them a ton of money.

By doing a deep clean, you can rid your new home of any dirt, dust, or grime that may have been left behind. If you have time, it’s also a good idea to wash all the windows and curtains — or, if you have room in the budget, hiring professionals to do this for you.

By cleaning your new house thoroughly before you get settled in, you will start fresh in your new home and ensure that it’s comfortable for you and your family.

Check for damages and make repairs as needed

As you’re doing your deep cleaning, check for any damages or issues that may need to be repaired. This may include things like holes in the walls, chipped paint, loose tiles, running toilets, or cracked windows.

If you notice any damages, make a list of them so you can repair them before moving your belongings in. This will help you avoid any further damages and make sure your home stays in good condition — protecting your investment.

Paint and refinish as needed

Before you fully settle into your new home, you have a great opportunity to repaint rooms and refinish any flooring while the spaces are empty.

Take advantage of this time to repaint every room, touch up your trim, and refurbish or replace worn-out floors and carpets. This is especially important if the home has carpeting that is heavily soiled or dated in any way.

In some cases, you may decide to completely redo the floors — especially if there are extensive repairs or damages that you did not notice while you were moving in.

Consider the flooring

When you first move into a new home, it’s also a good time to consider the kind of flooring you want. Are you keeping the existing flooring? Or might it be time to install new flooring?

If the home has old carpeting, it might be time to replace it. Installing carpet flooring in homes can help enhance the warmth and style of your home. Carpet provides a soft surface to walk or stand on and adds a sense of warmth to your home. It is also a great choice for basements to brighten and warm the space.

In some instances, you may prefer ripping up carpeting and replacing it with wood flooring, tiles, or vinyl plank flooring that looks like wood. Whatever you decide, it’s much easier to update flooring before you’ve moved all your furniture and belongings into your new home.

Make sure you have everything you need to live comfortably

Once all of that is taken care of, it’s time to set up your home with everything you need to live comfortably. Things like blinds, good lighting, air conditioning, and adequate heating are all elements that go a long way toward making your house a comfortable place to live.

This is also a good time to go through and update older or outdated light fixtures with more modern options that may better suit your style and preferences. For example, you may look to move away from more conventional lighting systems toward LED options that cost less and are better for the environment.

New Home Wishes

At this point, you’ve studied the ins and outs of your beautiful new home and have done what needed to be done to prime the space for you and your family. Best wishes throughout the entire process!

Now, it’s time to get unpacking and start settling into your new place. After the long, bumpy home buying and moving process, you deserve to sit back and enjoy everything your new space has to offer.

Good luck and welcome to your lovely home and fresh start! Enjoy all the happy and new memories you and yours make there, and don’t forget to take the time to properly introduce yourself to your new neighbors after you move in. Your new beginning can be even more rewarding with the right support system of those immediately around you, in addition to your family members and friends.

Real Estate

9 Most Common Home Repairs and Their Costs

For many new homeowners, the thought of owning their own property gives them a sense of pride. If you’re a homeowner, you’re likely well aware of the ever-present threat of having unexpected home repair costs. However, you might be more focused on all the positives of owning a home.

But unfortunately, as time wears on, things will break and you’ll often have to come out of your own pockets for repairs. And unfortunately, some homeowners don’t budget for these repairs, which means they’re often not prepared to foot the bill.

While the cost of different home improvements can vary by several variables, American Family Insurance follows a good rule of thumb that says “Homeowners should budget at least $1 per square foot of their home’s livable space for annual maintenance and home repairs.”

By discussing some of the most common home repair costs, we hope to help you prepare for various out-of-pocket expenses.

Potential Costs of the Most Common Home Repairs

You can do everything you can to keep potential home repair costs down, from maintaining your gutters to fixing a faucet drip right away.

So, addressing small problems before they become big ones can make a huge difference in keeping home maintenance costs down. But what if something unexpected happens like a tree falling on your roof or a power surge that damage’s your home’s electrical wiring?

Whether you’re doing everything right or things happen that are out of your control, damage, as well as wear and tear, are bound to happen.

Below are the most common issues many homeowners face when it comes to repairs.

1. Foundation Repair

Unfortunately, water or any type of moisture is a foundation killer. Water exerts what’s called hydrostatic pressure on your home’s foundation, which causes foundation walls to crack and bow, resulting in foundation leaks.

Also, if you live in an area where the soil contracts during the dry season and swells during the rainy season, this can damage your foundation as well.

The cost of foundation repair varies, but usually ranges between $500 and $10,000. So, the actual cost often depends on the extent of the damage and where you live. But on average, expect to pay around $4,000 to $5,000 if the damage isn’t too severe.

2. Electrical Issues


If you’re moving into a new home, it’s important to assess the security of the property as soon as possible.

Your home’s electrical system is another common issue you may have to worry about in the future. Whether you’re dealing with faulty outlets or problems with the wiring of your home, it’s best to seek help from an electrician. And unfortunately, due to the potential dangers and complexity of the job, electrical work can be expensive.

The average cost to repair minor electrical issues (i.e. light switches, outlets, etc.) ranges between $141 to $419. For larger jobs, the cost typically goes from $2,000 to $6,000 and up.

3. Roof Repair


Your home’s roof is susceptible to a range of problems, from rot to leaks. And this can lead to even bigger problems. This is why it’s so important to get your roof repaired right away if you suspect damage.

Less severe damage like spot leaks and missing shingles could cost between $300 to $2,000. For a full roof replacement, you could be looking at up to $11,000 in repairs.

4. Water Damage


Water damage is one of the most devastating issues many homeowners deal with. It can lead to mold and mildew, damage the structural elements of your home, and cause pest infestations. So, beyond posing a risk to your health, water damage can also hurt your finances, leading to a range of costly repairs.

The average amount homeowners pay for water damage is $3,046, with costs ranging between $1,181 and $4,938.

5. Replacing a Water Heater

Like most other systems and appliances in your home, your water heater has a limited lifespan of about 8 to 12 years. Of course, depending on certain factors, it can go out way before that.

Compared to other issues within your home, water heater repairs and replacements are often less expensive, costing an average of $579 to repair and up to $1,300 to replace.

6. Septic System Repair

Your septic system requires more care and maintenance than you might think. For example, something as simple as flushing the wrong chemical down the drain can put your entire septic system out of whack. A damaged septic tank is often a messy problem that isn’t cheap to fix. Expect to pay around $17,00 to $19,500, depending on the extent of the damage.

7. HVAC Repair & Replacement


From improperly using your thermostat to not changing your air filter regularly, you could be wreaking havoc on your HVAC system. And your HVAC system is one of those repairs you just can’t put off.

On average, HVAC repairs cost between $150 and $450. But if your unit requires total replacement, the cost will likely be between $4,850 and $9,400.

8. Mold Removal


Mold can have so many damaging effects on not only your home, but also on your family’s health. Whether it’s affecting your home’s walls, ceiling, roof, or foundation, it’s important to get on top of it right away—before it gets worse. The longer you wait, the more extensive the damage will be.

The average cost of mold remediation is around $2,200, but could be more if the damage is really severe.

9. Termite Damage


It’s hard to imagine how something so small could cause severe damage to your home. Yet, termites could end up costing you thousands of dollars in repairs. And unfortunately, standard home insurance policies don’t cover such repairs.

The average cost to repair termite damage is $565. But to repair extensive termite damage, the average cost is around $8,000.


No matter how new you are to homeownership, home maintenance is inevitable. So, taking proper care of your home and paying for necessary repair and maintenance costs are key to keeping one of your biggest investments in tip-top shape. With proper home repair budgeting, you can ensure your home is always in good condition. We aim to help you succeed in every phase of your homeownership journey. Sign up for FREE to get more homeowner tips, rewards, discounts and more!


Real Estate

Beginner’s Guide To Home Inspection

After you’ve made an offer on a house and it’s been accepted, it’s time to enlist the help of home inspection services to make sure the property is in good shape. While some people skip the home inspection process — particularly first-time home buyers — that is not advisable. Not getting a new home inspected before a purchase can be very costly. You might end up with a property that’s covered with asbestos, has a radon problem, or has a faulty HVAC system or sprinkler system that needs to be updated.

As the name implies, a home inspection involves a professional’s visual examination of a home after an offer has been accepted but before a deal is made. By hiring a home inspection company that has years of experience to examine the property you’re considering, you get access to a comprehensive report you can use to determine whether to finalize the real estate transaction.

For people trying to sell their homes, preparing for a home inspection is a very crucial step. The home inspection results determine whether the property will be acceptable to the buyer. Hence, most homeowners who sell properties try to make sure everything is in complete order and working condition before an inspection so they have peace of mind. Some homeowners even opt to conduct a pre-listing inspection on their own properties to make sure everything checks out before putting their house on the market.

The better the condition of the home during the inspection, the more reasonable the selling price sounds to the buyer. After all, when a home is in tip-top shape, buyers won’t have to fix things like fireplaces or rebuild dilapidated porches.

During residential inspections, various things around the property are checked. These include the building’s interior, exterior, and facilities present. The home inspector’s job is to see if everything is in good condition while conducting mold testing, radon testing, and well testing to make sure everything is in decent shape.

What is a home inspection?

A home inspection is a visual examination of a structure by a professional to evaluate the general condition and facilities present on the property and ensure it is high-quality. The professional home inspector does a walkthrough and looks around the property, from the foundation of the building to its roof. Once they’re done, they make a detailed report about their findings in the home.

During the property inspection, the home inspector pays more attention to things that might need repairs or replacement. Areas that might pose a potential safety hazard will also be identified during the inspection process. The better the condition of the home, the more positive the result of the inspection will be.

The inspector documents all their findings and submits a well-written report about the property to the party that hires them. While inspection results do not necessarily determine property value, they assure buyers that what they are purchasing is in good condition — much to the delight of real estate agents. However, most home inspections involve only a visual examination and not in-depth structural testing.

When an inspector submits a home inspection report that highlights significant issues, the client and the owner can discuss how to solve the problem before the transaction is finalized. In most cases, both parties will negotiate through their realtors to see what the seller is willing to fix.

Many individuals make use of home inspection contingencies, which means that the purchase of the property will be dependent on the home inspection result. If there are any problems found in the inspection result, the buyer can decide to reconsider the purchase or talk about potential repairs with the seller.

Individuals that choose to go with such a contingency have a specific time frame in which they must carry out the inspection process. This period is usually around two weeks. After this period, the inspection process should be over. That means all examinations that require a specialist — such as electrical systems, thermal imaging, or wind mitigation — need to be completed within the given time frame.

Home inspection contingencies are very helpful in preventing costly surprises later on after the purchase. If any problems are found, they can be settled earlier by the seller or the interested party can decide to pull out of the deal. The quicker the home inspection, the faster the value comes through.

How the home inspection process works

During the inspection process, core parts of the house are examined, including the grading near the foundation, railings, and decks. Inspectors also look for signs of insect damage on wood, roof components, and chimneys.

Additionally, inspectors check other things like the home’s insulation, cooling and heating system, electrical system, windows, toilets, and water pressure. Compared to new construction, older homes tend to have more problems that need fixing or replacement due to wear and tear over the years.

That said, problems can be identified from inspections — even at new properties. Sometimes builders make mistakes that might turn up on inspection results. People who take advantage of home inspection contingencies can only back out of deals if there is significant damage to the property. Insignificant damage that can be easily fixed, like broken doors, usually doesn’t count as a reason to back out on the purchase.

Once an inspection is completed, a buyer can discuss repair matters with the seller of the property. However, if the seller refuses to comply with the repair process, the buyer is free to back out of the deal. In this light, home inspections are very useful for people looking to purchase properties as they help them avoid extra spending on repairs.

Home inspections are not too expensive. Their cost usually depends on the location, size, and age of the property. Some extra fees can also be involved in the case of specialized tests like water tests and termite inspection. On average, a home inspection costs around $400 but can rise as high as $1,500 or even more. Either way, this is money well spent.

During a home inspection, some significant areas are checked by the building inspector.

1. Foundation

The foundation of a home is one of its most vital parts. As such, it’s a significant area for inspection. Building inspectors pay a lot of attention to the foundation of homes during the process. They check for signs of damage and wear and tear around the foundation.

Most of a building’s foundation is not visible above ground. Hence, the inspection is usually just a surface check. Some signs signify damage to the foundation that professional building instructors are trained to discover. If any problem is found, it will be documented.

2. Building structure

The whole structure of the building is usually reviewed after the foundation. At this point, the building inspector checks through the entire building to see if any parts might need repair or pose potential safety threats. These areas are then noted in the home inspection report.

The building inspector will also examine the weight-bearing capacity and structural integrity of the building to see if the property is still structurally sound and fit for habitation. A specialist might be required for clarification if there is any unclear evaluation.

3. Interior and exterior

The inspector will also inspect the exterior and interior of the home. For the exterior, things like mold and cracks on the wall are checked. Wooden components will also be checked for termite infestation. The paint condition, both internally and externally, will also be examined.

During this process, areas like windows and the roof will also be checked for damages. Roof components and ceiling parts that can be seen will be examined for leaks or breakage. Staircases and railings inside and outside the house will also be checked to see if they are safe for use or need repair.

The internal condition of the house, including the floorboards, kitchen, and bathrooms, are also examined by the building inspector. If any problems are found, they will be recorded and presented in the inspection report that will be submitted to the client or potential buyer.

4. Electrical system

The electrical system of the house also goes through inspection. Specialists invited by the building inspector usually carry out this aspect of the home inspection process. The specialist examines all the electrical connections and the condition of the wires existing in the home.

Damaged and exposed electrical components will be marked and recorded by the inspector in their report. While an electrical evaluation might cost a little bit extra, homebuyers will want to know the condition of the electrical system in the home before purchasing it to avoid unexpected expenses.

5. Plumbing system

The water pressure and plumbing system of a home are always checked during a home inspection. During the inspection process, the inspector will ensure that water flows at the correct pressure from all the faucets in the home — both in the kitchen area and toilets and bathrooms.

The inspector will also test the drains to see if water flows out correctly or if there’s a clog. If there are any broken pipes or faulty parts, the inspector will record them in the inspection report. The water temperature will also be checked, as well as leaks and rusted parts.

Home inspection reports include detailed explanations regarding any structural damage or areas of the home that need repairs. The building inspector makes known all the aspects that need maintenance or repair, whether internally or externally. The home inspector’s job is complete after submitting the report. Anything that happens next depends on negotiation between the buyer and seller.


The home inspection process is a helpful method to evaluate a building’s condition before purchasing a property. The inspector’s job is to examine various aspects of the home to see if any areas require maintenance or repairs. Any issues that are detected are featured in an inspection report, which homebuyers can use to figure out their next steps.

As you begin searching for a home inspection company, you may want to contact the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI), a group that can help you find experienced inspectors if you’re having a hard time. Since inspectors won’t find every problem with every house, first-time homebuyers should strongly consider buying a home warranty that can help cover some expenses should issues surface after a deal is done.Regardless, buyers need to strongly consider springing for home inspections before buying a home. Failure to do so can have catastrophic consequences down the line. And as a first-time homebuyer, that’s something you simply can’t afford.

Real Estate

Best Tips For Repairing Your Credit

If you’re looking for ways to repair your credit, you’re not alone.

According to the latest data report from the Federal Reserve Bank, Americans currently have over $804 billion dollars of outstanding debt.

What does that really mean? While some people keep their credit in check, others aren’t as fortunate. Struggles due to the pandemic or even just overspending can quickly lead to financial ruin.

But it’s not all bad news. Even if you’re behind on your payments and your credit history leaves something to be desired, there are ways to regain control of your debt. When you have a good credit score, it’s easier to obtain personal loans with lower interest rates. So, if you’re in the market to buy a house for the first time, you should absolutely prioritize improving your credit score.

With all this in mind, let’s take a look at six actionable steps you can take to repair your credit score and start to build credit today.

Check Your Credit Report

Your credit report says a lot about you. It shows how often you make late payments, what your credit limit is, how much available credit you have, how many credit accounts you have, your credit utilization ratio, your credit card balances, when the last time you opened a new credit card was, and more.

As such, it’s important to know if what’s being reported is accurate. Knowing your credit score gives you a general idea of your own creditworthiness.

However, that’s not always enough. You also need to review your credit reports to identify potential errors.

The first step is ordering a free copy of your annual credit report from a credit reporting agency. Why pay an annual fee for something that is free? To do this, request copies from all three major credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. You can also get a free credit report at

Once you obtain a copy of your credit report, analyze it to make sure everything checks out. If, for example, you see that your report reflects inaccurate information — like missed payments on personal loans when you actually paid your installments on time — you need to address the issue.

Believe it or not, credit-reporting errors are common. In fact, approximately 34% of Americans find at least one error on their credit reports, according to a Consumer Reports investigation.

Once you receive them, go over your credit file with a fine-tooth comb. Make sure your personal information is correct — like your name, address, and Social Security number. If it isn’t, update it immediately.

While having the wrong birth date or incorrect spelling of your name doesn’t affect your credit, it can make verifying your identity for future loans difficult. It can also make it hard to open new accounts.

Look at each account you listed on your reports. Verify that your payments are being reported correctly and on time. You should also verify that all of your accounts are open and haven’t been closed without consent. If you have any negative marks on your report, make sure they are legitimate.

It’s almost important to check your hard and soft credit inquiries. Hard inquiries are inquiries that can impact your credit score. These appear on your report whenever you apply for a credit card or loan, like a mortgage. They can drop your score by several points for some time, so you need to keep those to a minimum.

Soft inquiries, on the other hand, don’t impact your credit score. These are usually done to prequalify you for credit line increases and new credit offers.

If you do find any errors, you need to file a dispute. All three bureaus offer online dispute options to file your claim. Unfortunately, it can take up to 30 days to investigate and remove any errors from your report. Patience is a virtue, as they say.

During this process, a bureau might say that the reporting is correct. Be sure to submit any supporting documentation you have to avoid any complicated disputes.

2. Set up credit monitoring

Credit monitoring can also help you repair your credit. If you’re interested in keeping real-time tabs on your FICO score, there are a lot of services to choose from, all of which offer various levels of protection. Some of the most popular free providers include Experian BoostCredit Karma, and Credit Wise by Capital One. Depending on your specific credit needs, there might also be more comprehensive paid versions of the service.

In addition to helping you stay on top of your accounts and improve your debt management skills, monitoring your accounts can help you avoid identity theft — or at least detect that you were a victim of a scam immediately after it occurs.

3. Use debt consolidation services

If you have a low credit score or errors on your report, debt consolidation services can help. These companies will work on your behalf to help improve your score and consolidate your debt.

However, with so many credit repair companies claiming to be the best, it might be tough to determine which are legitimate. To make your decision easier, some of the best debt consolidation companies include:

All three of the above-mentioned companies offer credit repair services and debt consolidation loans. It’s important to note that credit repair is not the same as hiring a credit counselor, who simply provides you with tips to manage your finances.

Credit repair services, on the other hand, create repayment plans with creditors, help remove errors on your credit reports, and ultimately help you qualify for home loans or new lines of credit.

It’s worth noting that, under the Credit Repair Organizations Act, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) prohibits credit repair services from asking for advance payments. So, if you need credit repair services, don’t shy away thinking you will have to pay up ahead of time.

4. Pay on time

Even if you can only afford the monthly minimum payment, always strive to pay your credit card and student loan bills on time. Your payment history accounts for 35% of your total credit score, so paying on time can make a huge difference in your personal finance situation, helping you avoid a poor credit score.

If possible, consider setting up all of your accounts on autopay. That way, you’ll never miss a payment. If you go this route, however, you need to make sure you have enough funds to cover costs each month.

If that’s not an option, you can always set up payment through your bank and have a certain amount transferred with bill pay. Most banks offer this service, so it’s just a matter of configuring the transfer.

5. Lower your credit utilization score

Even though paying with credit is convenient, doing so too often can also lower your score, resulting in bad credit.

At a high level, your credit utilization score is what lenders use to gauge your spending habits. Ratios less than 30% but more than 0% are considered excellent. If your utilization is higher than that, it’s negative information that credit card issuers will use to potentially deny your application.

Optimizing your utilization rate is as simple as using less while paying more. You can improve your score by paying in cash and trying to pay more than the minimum payment due each month.

6. Pay off debt

There are two kinds of debt: good debt and bad debt. Good debt has the power to make you money in the long run, like your mortgage. As you pay off your mortgage, you build equity in your home.

Your car payment and material goods are examples of bad debt. Their value depreciates over time and, in most cases, you never recoup the money you originally spent.

Credit card debt is another example of bad debt. While building good credit is important, it’s also possible to have too much credit if you’re not good at managing your money. You might be approved for numerous lines of credit, but what good is it if you can’t pay them off?

To get things going in the right direction and start paying off your debt, you can use the snowball or debt avalanche method.

The snowball method focuses on the smallest balances first. To get started, make a list of all your outstanding student loan, auto, home, and credit card debt. After you make the minimum monthly payment, take any extra money you have and put it toward paying off your smallest account first.

Your goal is to pay off the balance, not the interest. Once you pay it off in full, move on to the next account, and so on.

The debt avalanche method works the same but in the opposite way. Focus on the largest debt first and work your way down to the smallest. Any extra money you have goes towards the principal, not interest.

Wrapping things up

At the end of the day, having a solid credit score makes life easier.

If you’re struggling with bad or fair credit, take comfort in the fact that you’re not alone. And keep in mind that this post doesn’t explore every single thing you can do to improve your credit. For example, if you’re not good at using credit cards, you may consider applying for a secured credit card that you fund ahead of time to get used to using cards to buy things.

Ultimately, you need to know that repairing your credit is possible. All it takes is a solid strategy and the desire to make it happen.

But once you start seeing success, it’ll motivate you to do even more. Before you know it, you’ll be living the good life — free of bad debt with an exemplary credit score that helps you achieve your dreams of homeownership before you know it.