Tiffany The Budgetnista
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Hi Tiffany, I want to buy my first home but won't do so until I have 20% as a down payment. I don't have 20% in cash but I do have double that in my 401k. Should I wait until I save that amount in cash (approx 5 years), or borrow from my 401k? It just doesn't make sense to keep paying rent...

The answer is... it depends.

1st there are programs you can look into that will help you with that 20%. Take a look at NACA's (The Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America) Purchasing Program:

2nd: Renting isn't always a bad option. Here's a checklist to help you see if you're really ready for homeownership:

Live richer,

The Budgetnista <--my new, free, financial resource for women.

I just started about two months ago keeping great track of my money. I have done well. However, I love celebrating my birthday. It is in November. The way my leisure(fun money) is set up I wont have the money I am used to spending to have a good time. Do you have any suggestions ?

1st Congrats!!

2nd, take a look at @Groupon & @LivingSocial . They have great deals on food, spas, escapes & adventures. You maybe able to maintain your birthday agenda without the usual costs. ;)

Live richer,
The Budgetnista <--my new, free, financial resource for women.

I have a ton(exaggerating a tad) of receipts that help me keep track of what I purchase. I have found it to be a great way to keep track of what I spend. However, I feel like it is a lot of paper to keep track of. any suggestions?


Get a digital scanner and upload your receipts to a file on your computer.
Try Doxie Go - Rechargeable Mobile Document Scanner or Epson WorkForce DS-30 Portable Document & Image Scanner they have great reviews on Amazon.

Live richer,

The Budgetnista <--my new, free, financial resource for women.

Hi. I worked w/ an adviser til Dec2013. To make room for savings, she had me pay less than the min on 3 of my CC's. 2 companies set up pmt arrangements w/ me. But 1 wouldn't unless I paid for their credit counseling.Now they've sent me to collections.Should I make arrangements?I've read their shady.

It seems odd that certified financial advisor would suggest that you pay less that the minimum on your credit cards.

1) The minimum is the smallest amount they will accept without sending you to collections
2) Doing so is like not making a payment at all and will be reflected badly on your credit report & lower your score

1st I would look into getting another advisor.

2nd There's nothing wrong with making arrangements once you know the best way to do so. Here's help: How to Settle Your Credit Card Debt (in 6 Steps):

Live richer,

The Budgetnista <--my new, free, financial resource for women.

Hi Tiffany !Once you pay off a credit card or a loan. Would you reward your self any leisure money or just place more of your money on another card you want to pay off as well?

Heeeeey! Great question.

Rewarding yourself is essential to maintaining your financial discipline. BUT, I challenge you to build your "reward" money into your budget. (more about that later)

This is how I would handle my debt: Roll over the money you were paying to the 'paid-off loan', onto the payment you're paying a current loan.

Let's say you were paying $300 to a car that's now paid off. I would add that $300 to the next debt on your list. If the next debt is a credit card that you usually pay $100/month, now give it the old car payment too ($300). You're use to paying it, so you won't miss it. Now your credit card will get $400 ($300 car payment + $100 credit card payment)

Once the credit card is paid off, roll over the $400 to the next debt. Keep doing this until your debt free.

Back to rewarding yourself....

Include reward money into your budget like a bill. I set aside a percentage of my income for travel (that's my reward). You may want to set aside a specific amount each pay period to a savings account as a reward. When you collect enough money for what you want, splurge without guilt.

Live richer,

The Budgetnista <--my new, free, financial resource for women.

Hi Tiffany! I made a huge mistake and cosigned for a loan. The individual is now 60 days delinquent and cinsidering bankruptcy. Is there anyway I can get out of this? Or anything possible I can do besides pay for it?

Hi Co-Signed,

Unfortunately, when you co-sign for a loan, that makes you equally responsible for repayment. What you can do is contact the creditor and try to negotiate with them.

You won't be able to avoid not paying anything, but you can negotiate to pay less then what is owed. You can also negotiate for it not to be on your credit report.

I wrote an article here that will help you negotiate. How to Settle your Credit Card Debt in 6 Steps. (these steps will work for most types of debt).

Hope this help!

Live richer,

Tiffany <--my new, free, financial resource for women.

My sisterhood wants to know if there will be any financial committment after the Live Richer challenge has been completed.


The challenge is free, because of my awesome sponsors. I'll address this on the call too. :)

Hi Tiffany, I'm currently self employed "hairstylist" and I'm finding to very hard to set a bugdet. Each each my income is different. What do you suggest?

Hello "Self Empoyed"!

Thank you for being patient. You asked such a great question that I wrote a post to answer it for you and others in your position.

You can find the answer here:
How To Budget When You Don’t Have a Regular Paycheck :

Live richer,

Tiffany << my new, free, financial resource for women

Will you offer another class in Newark if so when

Yes, I will. My next series in Newark will most likely start in January or February, but I always have events and class happening. You can check The Budgetnista Calendar here:

Live richer,

Hey Tiffany! Will you offer another class in Essex County area if so when.

Kelly Brown-Jones

Hi Kelly!

Yes, I will. My next series will most likely start in January or February, but I always have events and class happening. You can check The Budgetnista Calendar here:

Live richer,


Hello, My husband and i are cleaning our credit, but scores are good but we have a lot of credit card debt(approx. 17000) and we bring home (approx.7000). We are now interested in opening roth iras and we" re unsure who and how much to invest in. Do you have any recommendations on starting.

Great question!

Answer: It depends. Are you saving for retirement via any other investment vehicle? Example: 401k, pension, 403b etc. Ideally you and your husband want to be setting aside 10% (or more) of your TOTAL income (before deductions and taxes), toward retirement.

Figure out what percentage you're currently setting aside and use your IRA to close the gap to 10% . If that's too much, set aside what you can comfortably and increase it by 1% every 6-months until you hit 10% of your total income.

Does this help? I hope so. :)

Live richer,

The Budgetnista <--my FREE, financial resource for women

Hey Tiffany! I want to get a secured credit card and also a secured loan, just to build my credit score back up! Will having both make a big increase or should I just do one?


I would just do one. Go for a secured card. It's one of the easiest ways to rebuild your credit.

Here's a post I wrote that will help even if you haven't been in bankruptcy, 3 Ways to Fix Your Finances After Going Bankrupt:

Live richer,

The Budgetnista <<<---a free, financial resource for women

How dod you save money$11, 000 making 12per/hr?

There are only 2 ways to have more money. Make more or save more.

If you're already spending as little as possible, you'll have to figure out a way to increase your income. Babysitting, baking, mowing lawns asking for a raise... be creative.

The best way to look for additional income is to do so in a field that you've been educated or employed in. For example; when I was a teacher, I tutored on the side for additional income. Because as a teacher, parents were willing to pay me more for my expertise and I didn't have to learn a new skill.

Live richer,

The Budgetnista <---a free, financial resource for women

Hell, Is it wise to use your all your savings to pay off your credit card debt?


Make sure to keep some of what you have in savings. Paying down debt and savings should always happen simultaneously, because being debt-free without savings = debt.

The reason is, even if you pay off your debt, eventually an emergency will arise and if you don’t have savings, you’ll have to get back into debt (i.e. credit card or borrow money), in order to handle the emergency. Sooo being debt-free, but not having and savings = debt (eventually)

If you need help paying off debt, read this post. I show you how: Pay Off Debt in 7 Steps and Still Maintain Your Lifestyle :

Live richer,

The Budgetnista <<< a free, financial resource for women

debt verification letter

Here's a link to a great debt validation letter :

Live richer,

The Budgetnista <-- a free, financial resource for women

Hi, My credit score is a 597. I desperately want to improve this. I would like to buy a home as a first time home buyer in the next 2 years. Capitol One sent me a card offer in the mail to help improve my credit. I also signed up for credit Karma and received an offer online from this same company.

Hi "I want to raise my score",

Great question. I wrote a post that will help you get on track: How to Raise Your Credit Score 100 Points in One Year: .

Hope this helps!

Live richer,

Tiffany <--- a FREE, financial resource for women.

Should I use a Capital One Credit Card offer to improve my credit rating. My score is a 597. I recently listened to you on G'sPray and I signed up for Credit Karma. O%APR until May 2015,22.9% after that...Is this wise? What other ways can I raise my score? Thank you

Hi "I want to raise my score",

Great question. I wrote a post that will help you get on track: How to Raise Your Credit Score 100 Points in One Year: .

Hope this helps!

Live richer,

Tiffany <--- a FREE, financial resource for women.

Hey Tiffany, I've finished paying off my credit cards and now working on my student loan debt, $100K. I have a small savings for emergencies, but no investments. Do you think I should continue to wait on investing until my student loan debt is paid off?

Hi "I Want to Invest",

It depends. If you're investing for the sake of retirement, DO NOT WAIT! Saving & investing for retirement should happen no matter what.

Here's what I would do,
1) Do a happy-dance.... You finished paying off your credit cards. Yay! :)

2) Auto-save for emergencies in an online-only account like Ally Bank. Your emergency fund should be slightly out of reach. Online only accounts take 2-5 business days to transfer money back to your regular account. This will eliminate impulse buying.

3) Decide how much emergency money you need. 3-months to 2-years depending on the industry you're in and how long you think it would take you to replace your income should you lose your job.

4) Once your emergency account is fully funded. Divert the money you were auto saving to that account to an investment account.

5) Continue to pay for your student loans. Remember, as long as the interest you earn while investing is greater than the interest rate of your loans, you're making money. Since most student loan interests are fairly low, investing at the same time should still make financial sense.

Hope this helps.

Live richer,

The Budgetnista

If you settle an account on your report, can you make the account holder delete the item instead of it saying "paid off" on your credit report?

Hi Settled,

First try and reduce the balance of your debt to as low as possible. The debt collector bought your debt from the original company you owed and probably paid pennies on the dollar to buy it. Because of this, debt collectors will often take less than you owe if you negotiate. Call toward the end of the month to take advantage of the quotas many collectors must make before the new month begins. Start low by offering to pay 30 percent or less of what you owe and negotiate your way to an amount that you and the collector can both agree upon.

Make your offer attractive. If you’re going to ask that they settle for 70 percent off of what you owe, you should pay it in a lump sum payment. Asking for a steep reduction of your debt as well as a payment plan, is not likely to work in your favor.

Next, ask that they DO NOT report your agreement as settled on your credit report (as you know, this is VERY BAD and to be avoided if possible). Instead, ask that they report it as, “paid as agreed upon.” Also ask if they can erase the tradelines associated with the debt. Tradelines are just the account and its history on your credit report. Tradelines can take up to seven years to drop off your report, so getting rid of negative ones early is beneficial. Your creditor may or may not agree to do either one. They don't have to, but it’s worth it to ask, especially if you’re planning on paying a lump sum.

Lastly, if your creditors agree to the terms above, MAKE SURE TO GET IT ALL IN WRITING BEFORE MAKING A PAYMENT. This way, if they don’t honor what you both agreed upon, you could use what they sent you in writing as proof. You’ll also need it if you want to make corrections to your credit report, should your creditors report you incorrectly.

Live richer,

The Budgetnista

Tiffany, I am trying to get my check in line within the next few years, my score is currently 575! Where should I start? Should I settle all delinquent accounts on my report even if they are old? I plan on disputing them all first to see If any get deleted, what should I do next?

Hi Credit Improvement,

First, you should know that negative info. reported that’s older than 2 years, does NOT highly affect your score. The newest stuff make the most impact.

Here are some posts I wrote that will help you raise your score:

How to Settle Your Credit Card Debt (in 6 Steps):

How to Raise Your Credit Score 100 Points in One Year (Video):

How to Choose Whether to Close or Keep Your Credit Card in 10 Easy Steps:

These will help you to get you're credit score jumping like Jordan. :)

Live richer,

The Budgetnista

What resources can you recommend for someone who has a person with a similar name's information showing up on their credit report? Essentially, two different people's credit reports are linked because they have the same last name, but the first names are spelled differently.

Hello Mistaken Identity,

Here are the steps you can take via

Send a letter to the debt collector. It's important that you respond, and old-fashioned snail mail is the best way to do it. That way, you stay in control, you can keep a copy and you have the dispute in writing. Keep the letter short & just write simple statements, such as 'I've never lived at that address,' or 'I've never used the services of Dr. Smith,' or 'I've never had that type of credit card.' Send a copy of your proof along with the letter.

Also ask for verification. Under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), a debt collector is required to send you a written "validation notice" that includes the name of the original creditor. Send the letter by certified mail. Find a free debt validation letter template online.

If the problem persists, know your rights and options. In many cases, experts say, you can resolve the situation by convincing the debt collector that they have the wrong person. But sometimes the problem can persist, and you need to know your rights. According to the Federal Trade Commission, a debt collector cannot harass you, curse at you, lie to you, threaten to arrest you or keep contacting you after you've sent a letter disputing the debt (google for a debt dispute letter).

If you follow these steps, you'll have a good chance of resolving a case of mistaken identity by a debt collector with your sanity -- and your credit score -- intact.

Hope this helps.

Live richer,

The Budgetnista

I Tiffany, I want to build my credit but I do not qualify for an unsecured credit card. Could you please give some tips on how to look for a secured credit card so that I can build up my credit?? Sincerely, On My Way Back

Hey On My Way Back!

Great question.

Here are my secured card tips:

1) Use to help you find the best-secured card for you: A secured card is one of the best ways to begin rebuilding your credit.

Make sure that:

- You’re cautious of anyone that asks you for outrageous start-up fees (some places try to charge up to $200) or for you to call a 1-900 number that will charge you money.

- You’re sure to ask if your transactions will be reported to all three major credit bureaus. You want them to see that you’re paying off your debts so your score can begin to improve.

- You get a secured card at a bank you want to continue to use for a while. You’ll eventually want to ask if you can switch to an unsecured card with the same bank, so choose wisely. Many banks will make your secured card, unsecured after 3-6 months of regular, on-time payments.

- You automate the use of the card. Do this by placing a small automatic payment on the card each month (ie: magazine subscription, gym membership, phone bill). That bill should be the ONLY thing your secured card is used for.

Then, sign-up for automatic, bill-pay at your bank (this is a free service), and instruct the bank to send the full payment of your bill, from your checking account to your secured card every month. That small charge and payment should be the only activity on your new secured card,

Doing this will create a payment loop effect that eliminates the flawed human element….you. I suggest you leave your secured card at home and allow the loop to work for you without interference.

Paying off a debt in full every month makes your credit score jump like Jordan so be prepared to do the happy-dance. :)

Hope this helps!

Live richer,

The Budgetnista <<---a FREE resource

Does it hurt me that I only have one credit card? My American Express card balance is currently below $3,000.00.

Hi 1-Card!

It doesn't hurt to have only one credit card, but your American Express card may not be a credit card, it might me a charge card. American Express cards, traditionally have not allowed you to carry a balance from month to month, that's what's made them charge cards vs. credit cards.

Call them and ask. If it's not a credit card, your payment history might not be reported on your credit report. If this is the case, you might want to consider getting a credit card if you're looking to build credit quickly.

Also, the balance on your card is relative. How much is your limit? If your limit is $3000 and you owe $3000, your using 100% of your limit and that's too high. Ideally you never want to use more than 30% of the limit on your card.

Hope this helps!

Sidenote: I also just launched a free resource for you, The LIVE RICHER Challenge. I'm helping 10k women gain control of their money in 36 day. You can sign-up here for free:

I look forward to helping you live a richer life,

Live richer,

The Budgetnista

Good morning Lady!, My concern today is I am drowning in student loan debt. My loans added together are over $60 thousand. My monthly earnings are $2010, but my loans come to $630. I'm trying to pay these in addition to all of my other bills, and I feel overwhelmed. I tried consolidating them, but I

Morning Too-Much-Student-Loans!

If you have private student loans, try consolidating your private loans with: SOFI: . I've heard good things about them.

Also, if you have federal loans, contacted your federal loan provider to ask for help. You may qualify for a different repayment option one based upon your income and current expenses. By law, if you're experiencing financial hardship, your federal loan provider must offer you help.

Live richer,


Hi Lady! My question is in regards to my student loan debt. Currently I owe close to $65,000 in private and federal student loans. I am making my payments, but I'm struggling to do so. I have tried to get my private loans consolidated, but have been denied. Are there any other options for me?

Brandy Bower

Hi Brandy!

Have you tried consolidating your private loans with: SOFI: ? I've heard good things about them.

Also, have you contacted your federal loan provider to ask for help? You may qualify for a different repayment option. By law, if you're experiencing financial hardship, your federal loan provider must offer you help.

Live richer,



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