Tag Archives: rent

Yes, You Can Rebuild Your Credit – Here’s How



Roughly 47 percent of employers pull credit reports before hiring new employees, according to the Society for Human Resource Management. It’s not uncommon for employers to rescind an offer or decline making one after seeing a poor credit score. Some speculate employers fear such employees are financially irresponsible or prone to suspicious behavior. Poor credit can also prohibit you from getting a credit card, getting a low interest rate on a home loan or securing an auto loan.

So how can you restore your credit to good standing? Banks and big financial institutions make building credit quickly seem like a complex mystery. But all credit building really boils down to is borrowing money and paying it back on time. The hard part is finding credit-building opportunities, especially for those with poor credit scores and mounting debt. Here’s some help:

Use Your Rent

Sites like Experian and TransUnion will include rent data on your credit report. Unfortunately, you can’t just log in and report that information yourself. Instead, your landlord can use an agency like RentReporters to report the data for a small fee. But small and independent landlords may not opt to do this for you and are under no obligation to do so. But there’s another option. Pay your rent through WiliamPaid.com for a small fee and the activity will show up on your credit score.

Get a Credit-Builder Loan

Scout around for a local credit union offering credit-builder loans of up to $1,500. Credit unions typically offer lower interest rates to their customers and are easier to secure loans through than traditional big banks. Customers put the money loaned into a savings account to accrue interest and make regular payments on the loan until it’s paid off. After the loan term ends, collect the interest or reinvest.

If you can’t take out a credit-builder loan, reevaluate your spending and income potential. Those receiving regular annuity payments may get a few hundred dollars a month, which in turn gets spent on bills, groceries and a social life. Your money may serve you better if you sell annuity payments for a lump sum of cash now, and then you apply that money toward a credit-builder loan, a secured credit card or any outstanding debt you have.

Get a Secured Credit Card

Unlike traditional consumer credit cards, a secured credit card requires cash collateral upfront. If you add $400 to the card, that’s exactly how much you can spend, unless the creditor extends a line of credit for good payment activity. Secured credit cards usually carry annual fees and offer less flexibility than traditional cards.

Experts suggest charging 10 percent or less of the amount on a secured card each month to further boost your score. The ratio of debt verses what’s left on your card can inch up points on your score. But this also works in reverse. If you have a $400 secured credit card and charge $390 on it, the high ratio of debt verses your credit line can actually deduct points from your score. But within a year of responsible use, you should see your credit score improve enough to apply for other traditional credit cards with higher limits.

Peter Galvin is a retired financial planner who has enjoyed writing and spending time with his three children since his retirement in ’09. 

Six Easy Ways to Score Cheap Rent

rentsignAs the housing market fizzled during the recession, many previous or would-be home-owners opted to rent, instead. This sent rent prices soaring over 10% in most major metro areas -in some hot markets, such as my hometown of Houston, rents have soared over 5% in one year, alone. If you’re trying to save $5, $10 or $20 a day, the techniques below can help you reach (and possibly even exceed) that goal.

Rent Off-Season

Most landlords and property management companies know we tend to time moves around summer vacation – and they jack up rental prices accordingly during that season.

In many cases, rents can be a full 30% lower if you lease during the low seasons –such as late winter, for example — when few people are moving and landlords are desperate to fill units.

A little advance planning can help you determine the best dates for a move. If you plan on renting from a professionally-managed property, their computer systems automatically adjust prices by availability and season, so don’t be afraid to ask how much the same 1 bedroom would cost if you rented it today vs. three months from now.

Properties Under Renovation or Construction

My current condo building is being renovated, and in the process, it’s stirring up dust and noise which could turn-off many potential renters. To compensate for the inconvenience, the rental office is offering some price concessions — including cheaper deposits/fees, free gym passes, and discounted rents — to new renters. The renovation will be done in a couple of months, but new renters will enjoy a full year of cheaper rent.

The same is true of new properties under construction; if you’re willing to pre-rent an unit off a floor-plan before it’s fully completed, you’re likely to score a big discount. The leasing offices for properties under construction tend to open a few months before the property is ready, so drop in then to inquire about rents.

Pet or House-Sitting Arrangements

If you spend enough time on Craigslist or your local alternatively weekly paper’s site, you’ll notice ads for discounted rent if you’re willing to care for someone else’s pets, plants, or other property. This usually requires you to rent someone’s fully-furnished home or apartment while they’re away, so it’s not a tradiitional leasing arrangement. However, I’ve seen desirable units leasing for 50% off market rates for those willing to walk and feed someone’s dog while they’re away in Europe for a few months. If you’re the more adventurous and flexible sort, it’s worth a try.

Rent Near Growing Housing Developments

Now that the housing market is re-gaining steam, once-empty housing developments are again filling up. That means more people are buying houses than renting in those areas, so nearby apartments are likely to have lower occupancy rates — and rents.

One other word about occupancy rates: It’s always worth asking landlords or property management offices what their occupancy rates. If they admit to anything under about 85-90%, you’ve got a good chance of negotiating a better deal, since they’ll be in more of a hurry to fill empty units.


Until recently, ther was no central repository which allowed landlords to see your rental background. RentReporters.com enables you to work with your landlord to track your payments, so that you can effectively demonstrate your worthiness as a renter. If you establish credibility through a free service like RentReporters.com, it may help you negotiate cheaper rent in the future.

Rent the Neighborhood – Not the Unit

If what you really want in your apartment is a safe address, proximity to restuarants and shops, or easy access to transportation, then location, not the apartment, itself is what you need. Prioritize correctly by seeking units that meet your basic apartment needs – but enable you to capitalize on the location benefits — by choosing older or less-luxurious options in the neighborhood you want. In Atlanta’s luxe Buckhead neighborhood, for example, older properties (still in good condition) have to compete against numerous new high-rises and loft developments, so their rents can be 25-35% lower -even though they’re right next door.

Five Ten Twenty Club Estimated Savings

According to several sources, the average 1-bedroom apartment in major US metro areas averages about $1000 per month (some cities, such as NY or SF, are obviously much higher). Taking that as our baseline, and assuming we succeed in cutting our rent by 20% using any of the above techniques, we can deduce that:

1 Month Savings: $200 (That’s about $7/day!)

1 Year Savings: $2400

35 Year Savings: $650,000 (Including 10% interest/market returns)

What techniques have you used to score cheaper rent? Tell us about it in the comments section  below, or discuss it in our community forum!