7 financially fit Halloween costume ideas

Ok, so we know that no one is combing the internet for the most incredible financially-focused Halloween costume but hey, maybe someone is? If nothing else, Halloween gives us a chance to brush up on some of the lessons we’ve learned throughout the year to ensure we’re as financially healthy as possible. So while none of these particular costume creations may result in a net increase in candy acquisition this year, you’ll at least be armed with some sound financial health advice. And who knows, maybe you’ll get invited to a Halloween party at an accounting firm in which case you’ll almost definitely be heading home with the first place costume trophy.

 

  1. Early Tax-Filing Frankenstein

Dust off your favorite set of shoulder pads and get your green face paint ready! While Frankenstein has never been accused of being “smart”, you can buck the trend by filing your taxes early this year. Why file early? Much like 2020, 2021 has the potential to be a complicated tax filing year for many people especially with the high rate of unemployment and stimulus checks. By taking care of your taxes early, you’ll ensure you have access to a tax professional at your leisure. You’ll also be able to get your tax return back into your bank ASAP! And what better way to head into the holiday season than with a little extra cushion in your bank account?

 

  1. The Debtless Horseman

While the Headless Horseman is most certainly a terrifying sight, the Debtless Horseman is a welcomed respite. Rather than living your financial life without a head on your shoulders, show off your financial literacy by doing everything you can to eradicate your debt. In addition to helping bolster your credit score, eliminating debt will help you start to save for larger purchases and dramatically reduce your overall stress. Create a budget, start paying down the highest-interest debts first, and begin chipping away at the money you owe as quickly as possible.

 

  1. Frivolous Spending Ghost

Make spending without purpose a ghost of the past! If you read our blogs often you’ll know that we are always beating the “create a budget” drum so, why not parlay that into your Halloween costume as well? With the advent of quick checkout payment options and spookily accurate Instagram product targeting, spending little chunks of change here and there has never been easier. Unfortunately, those payments can add up in a hurry leaving you with a potentially frightening bank balance at the end of the month. So, build out a budget and stick to it lest you be haunted by the ghosts of an empty wallet!

 

  1. Credit Utilization Witch

Leveraging credit utilization to your advantage isn’t a magical brew concocted in a cauldron. With proper planning and some budgeting, you can be riding around on a flying broom of credit utilization expertise in no time. Remember, your utilization number is the ratio between your available credit and the amount of credit you’re using. So if you have a $10,000 credit limit and you’re carrying a $5,000 balance, you’d have a utilization ratio of 50%. But remember, you want to keep that number at or below 30% in order to not negatively impact your credit score. So either start reducing that debt or increase your debt allowance to get your utilization into a better place.

 

  1. Budgeting Vampire

A well-planned budget is the backbone of any sound financial strategy and will stop you from feeling like outside factors are sucking you dry of any progress. Establishing some realistic goals for what you want your financial future to look like will help inform the type of budgeting you can put yourself on. So figure out what’s important for you in both the short and long-term and then start putting together a plan on how to get there. Even the most basic budgeting guidelines will help ensure you don’t feel like a bat flying blindly in the night.

 

  1. Card Points Zombie

What’s the point in having a rewards credit card if you amble around aimlessly not taking advantage of the benefits? Once you’ve decided which credit card makes the most sense for your lifestyle (may we suggest taking a look at the Paceline Card???), be sure to take advantage of it! Using a rewards card like a debit card (i.e. not spending more than what’s in your checking account) is a great way to start racking up points. It’s also worth identifying which purchases qualify for increased rewards and be sure to break out that plastic when you shop there. With a little planning and some strategic spending, you can be less of a financial zombie and more of a credit rewards pro.

 

  1. Credit Score Skeleton

What’s scarier than a bad credit score?!? As you probably know by now, your credit score impacts almost everything that pertains to your financial fitness. Having a good score is imperative to ensure you have access to all the financial tools you need in life. Whether it’s securing a new credit card, applying for a lease, getting a car loan, or even buying a house, your credit score will be what creditors look to first. So take the necessary steps to ensure you’re maximizing your score and mitigating the factors that could be dragging it down. Pay off your debts, keep credit card balances low, and check your credit report often - it could be the difference between smooth sailing or a truly haunting financial journey.

 

This Halloween, make sure your costume is the scariest part of your financial wellness. Apply some of these tips to your own life and you’ll be on your way to fiscal superstardom in no time.


Procrastinate less when you work from home

How to work better and procrastinate less

Thanks (or rather, no thanks) to a global pandemic, working from home has become commonplace for an ever-increasing number of people. While the initial benefits sound alluring (stay in your PJs all day, work from bed, play whatever music you like, etc.) it can quickly get distracting. With the trappings of home all around you, switching between home and work life can be tricky to master. Without the physical location of an office, it’s important to set up the proper boundaries and rules to help ensure you remain as mentally healthy as possible and procrastinate less. 

 

Get professional about time management

The hardest part about working from home is knowing when to “clock in” and when to “clock out”. In an ever more connected world, the lines get blurred with regard to our time. It can become far too easy to start getting sucked into work emails at all hours of the day (and night). That’s why setting some rules as to when you aren’t working are just as important as deciding when you are. When you’re constantly checking your phone and racing to respond to company emails, your brain doesn’t get the chance to adequately turn off. Proactively block off time in your calendar that you can use for whatever it is that helps keep you centered. Whether that’s finding time to work out, working on personal creative projects, organizing your closet, or reading a new book, keeping your sacred time sacred will keep you fresh for the important things. 

 

Start dressing for work again

While most of us probably don’t miss rushing out of the house to battle our daily commute into the office, there’s something about that ritual that signals our brains to start the workday. While we’re not suggesting you sit in your car for 45 minutes every morning lamenting traffic to yourself under your breath, dressing as if you’re still heading into the office can be helpful. Start to make a routine out of selecting your outfits or create your own themed calendar that goes beyond “casual Fridays”. Getting back into the habit of prepping your day with a morning routine can help get you in the proper mindset for a busy day of work ahead. 

 

Break down the steps to success

Has this ever happened to you? You start your first video conference call at 9 am and next thing you know it’s 4:30 pm and you’ve barely had time to eat, use the bathroom, or get any actual work done? In the absence of face-to-face time in the office, it’s easy to over-index on video calls to help fill in the gaps of remote work. While this is a wonderful way to stay connected with your team and co-workers, it can quickly snowball leaving you both mentally fatigued and with little time to accomplish your actual work. To combat this, make sure you’re taking regular breaks throughout your day. Enroll your team in ending 30-minute meetings 5 minutes early and hour-long meetings 10 minutes early. While this extra bit of time might not seem like much, it will go miles towards giving you a chance to collect yourself and grab a quick snack or a bathroom break before having to jump on the next call.

 

Fuel the beast

Just like any good workout, you can’t expect to be operating at your best if you aren’t eating properly. When you’re bouncing from call to call and trying to manage your workload in between, it can be hard to find time to eat the right things. Typically, the quickest options aren’t always the healthiest, and foods high in salts and sugars can lead to the inevitable crash later in the day. Take some time to prepare some meals or healthy snacks at the beginning of your week or on the weekends. Tossing some pre-prepped lunches into reusable containers that you can keep in the fridge make mealtime not just quick and easy, but help ensure you’re getting the most nutrients to keep you operating at your best.

 

Explore the studio space
Whether you live in a studio apartment, a house, a converted garage, a condo, or off the grid, creating a dedicated workspace for yourself is a must. You don’t need to have a plethora of extra space in order to make something that functions as your nouveau office. It can be as easy as setting up a standing desk at the kitchen table or as elaborate as kitting out your spare bedroom with a complete home-office makeover. Just create something that helps tell your brain that it’s time to switch to work-mode when you get there.

 

Limit your phone time

Bottom line, we all spend too much time on our phones. When you’re working from home it becomes all the easier to start swiping through the latest Instagram or TikTok content when you’ve got a spare minute or two. While taking time to disconnect from the hustle and bustle of work is a good thing, it can quickly become an overwhelming distraction. Nowadays, you can set limits on how much time you spend on certain apps throughout the day. Start setting boundaries for how often you’re swiping through content that keeps you from being as productive as possible. Or for a low-tech solution, just put your phone in another room while you’re crushing your work.

 

While working from home can have its ups and downs, taking a few extra steps can help you get the most out of your time. Finding the proper balance can be tricky at first, but understanding what you need to stay mentally and physically healthy makes it much easier to prioritize the things that matter most.


Know your options when it comes to credit cards

Know your credit card options

So you probably know what a credit card is. You’ve also probably heard about cash back percentages and travel rewards points. But what about secured credit cards and unsecured credit cards? Then of course there are balance transfer credit cards and gas rewards credit cards – had enough? The sheer volume of credit card options can be overwhelming which is why we’re here to help you be a more informed credit consumer. Knowing what types of cards are out there and how they can benefit your own financial wellness will help you decide which one makes the most sense for your wallet.

 

Secured credit cards 

Secured credit cards can be a great option if you have poor or no credit history. The concept is simple, you front a deposit which usually acts as your credit limit in order to secure a credit card. So, if you put down a $1,000 deposit you get a $1,000 credit limit. While rewards aren’t typically on offer with a secured credit card, it’s a great way to start building credit without getting into too much trouble (you can only spend as much as you deposit!).

Unsecured credit cards

Unsecured credit cards don’t require any type of deposit in order to use them. These are basically credit cards as we know them. You apply for these and, based on your credit history, are approved to use them. Rewards and cash back credit cards are almost always unsecured cards. These are also a great way to help build credit given you use them responsibly. 

Travel credit cards

You’ll never guess what these credit cards provide rewards on… that’s right, travel! Rewards cards will often have annual fees or membership fees that you pay upfront in order to take advantage of the benefits. Travel cards will provide either points or miles that you can use towards redeeming travel benefits. If you’re all about exploring, then this could be the type of card you’d want to take advantage of. Do your homework and figure out which card offers the best rewards structure for where you spend most and with the airlines you use most frequently. 

Cash back credit card

Unsurprisingly, these cards offer you cash back on qualifying purchases you make throughout the year. The cash can be in the form of statement credits, gift cards, or used towards purchases online through qualifying merchants. If you like the flexibility of a more broad-ranging benefit to your credit card rewards then a cash back card could be the right choice for you. Again, these will likely have an annual fee you’d need to pay which you may want to think about when making a decision on which card to apply for.

Gas rewards card

If you drive a ton for work (or for fun), then a gas rewards card could be an awesome option. These cards will offer cash back on purchases at gas stations and, often, also provide attractive rewards for general travel purchases. Again, if you find yourself driving for work or have a particularly long commute, this could be a great way to get strategic with your gas expenditures.

Balance transfer card

Balance transfer cards allow you to transfer credit debt from a card (or cards) onto the new card. They’ll usually have a 0% APR fee associated with the transfer for a fixed period of time. Because of this, you’ll want to make sure you put in place a plan to get the debt paid off within that time frame. It’s also worth noting that balance transfer cards can often carry a transfer fee based on the total sum of debt you’re carrying over. These can be a great way to consolidate debt or just shake off some of the super high-interest rates you may be paying on other cards.

There is no shortage of credit card options available to you out there which is why a little research on your end can go a long way. Figure out what makes the most sense for your financial situation and find a credit card that provides the most benefit with the least amount of risk. And while you’re at it, if a health & wellness credit card sounds like something you’d be interested in, head over to our signup page to get notified with all the latest Paceline Card updates!


Get the most out of your rewards credit card

Maximize your rewards credit cards

You love rewards, right? Of course you do, you love Paceline! Beyond the incredible fitness rewards you can take advantage of on Paceline, credit cards are another rich source of financial benefit - if you utilize them properly. In order to best maximize your rewards credit cards you need to do a bit of homework (big surprise, right?) and be dedicated to the cause. The good news is that all of that work on the front end can have massive potential benefits at the end of each billing cycle. Whether you’re trying to get more points, cash back, or air miles, maximizing your rewards credit card is all about proper management. And if you’re already here at Paceline reading about rewards credit cards, allow us to remind you that our very own Health & Wellness credit card is just around the corner so go SIGN UP to hear all the latest news as it happens!

 

Find your perfect card

Just like finding your favorite workout class or hiking trail, you want to find a rewards credit card that works in tandem with your lifestyle. Are you a travel junky (or do you plan to be once the pandemic dies down)? Or do you want to see those cash back balances at the end of every billing cycle? Regardless of what floats your financial boat, you want to make sure you find a credit card that has rewards you’ll actually use. It’s worth doing your homework here on the front end so you don’t end up with a card you rarely use.

 

You also want to make sure you find a card that offers rewards for the things you want that aren’t going to be impossible to redeem. Some cards are notorious for offering travel points that are only valid during certain time periods. Figure out which card has the best rewards structure that works for you.

 

Get the most out of your rewards card

Having 20x cash back and 50x travel rewards won’t do you a lot of good if it’s only on qualified purchases made from space. A good rule of thumb is to find a rewards credit card that works with the widest range of qualifying purchases. Beyond that, you’ll want to find a card that offers higher rewards multipliers on the specialized purchases you make most often. Extra points or cash back on things like groceries, gas, coffee, online purchases, and food delivery are great because they’re often items you’re buying consistently. That means more consistent rewards. At the same time, if you’re a health & wellness fanatic, you’d want to find a credit card that rewards purchases like a gym membership or protein smoothies at your local health food store. The more strategic you’re able to be with your purchases, the more effectively you’ll be able to take advantage of the rewards.

 

Swipe more, pay often

Once you’ve found the right card and know which purchases get you the most rewards, start swiping! Rewards credit cards give you your rewards when you spend so, the more you can responsibly spend, the better. You’ll want to be strategic about how much you do spend because most cards won’t pay out your rewards until you’ve paid off your balance. Like any credit card, you’ll want to keep that balance as low as possible (ideally zero!) which means you don’t want to start spending outside your means. Utilizing your rewards credit card like a debit card on the purchases you make regularly is a great way to take advantage of points or cash back while still being able to pay off your balance every month. 

 

Know your cards

While elevated travel rewards or boatloads of cash back may have been what lured you into your card in the first place, you’ll want to dig deeper into the fine print. Often, rewards cards will have a host of other additional benefits that don’t get listed in all the splashy marketing materials you see. Things like free TSA Precheck or subsidized insurance on rental cars are common for lots of cards. Take some time to pour over the details and make sure you’re extracting everything you can from what’s on offer. The last thing you want is to be leaving perks and benefits on the table!

 

Ensure you qualify for signup bonuses

Signup bonuses are one way credit card companies lure qualified candidates into their card versus others. These can be anything from zero interest for a year to a bonus gift of points. However, you want to be very clear on what it takes to qualify for these signup gifts. 100,000 bonus points sound incredible but if you’re required to charge $10,000 on your card every month for the first 3 months, you should know if that’s even possible for your situation. Take a measured approach when assessing which signup bonus makes the most sense for you. If it’s charging a certain balance every month or paying off your initial purchases by a particular date, figure out if it’s realistic for your personal financial wellness. 

 

Plan large purchases accordingly

Speaking of signup bonuses, if you’re planning on making a large purchase at some point, use a rewards card to your advantage! Let’s say Card A offers a 50,000 points bonus when you charge over $2,000 to your card in the first month. If you’ve been eyeing a new Peloton to upgrade your health & wellness lifestyle, this could be a perfect way to kill two birds with one stone! If you know you have a large purchase coming up, that could even help influence the type of card you end up applying for altogether. Do a little digging and sync up your financial chakras to guarantee you get the most out of your rewards experience.

 

Regardless of which rewards card you have, or will have, in your wallet be sure you’re taking advantage of all it has to offer. Your financial wellness will thank you for it.


Our 5 favorite financial podcasts

We love podcasts. How could you not? No matter what you fancy, chances are there’s a podcast about it out there in the digital audio ether and financial podcasts are no different. Whether it’s general advice about managing finances or more hardcore deep dives into the nuances of cryptocurrencies, the options are seemingly endless. That’s why we’ve put together a short list of our 5 favorite financial podcasts that arm us with the financial wellness tools we need. You can find all of these wherever you get your podcasts from.

 

1. Planet Money

Produced by NPR, this is a great listen if you’re trying to get a grasp on what is going on with money and finance in the world. Subjects run the gamut and the style is more of a storytelling format which makes for easy listening. Our favorite part is that it takes often confusing topics and makes them simple to understand. The episodes are fairly short so this is a good one to listen to on your commute to work or while making breakfast in the morning.

 

2. How to Money

Hosted by best friends Joel and Matt, How to Money is a podcast all about personal finance geared towards those who may not know much about the topic. Usually over a beer, Joel and Matt tackle everything from how much money you should have in your emergency fund to Kim Kardashian’s influence on crypto. Beyond being informative, we love how accessible the information feels and that it feels like a conversation with friends. Cheers to normalizing financial discussions!

 

3. So Money with Farnoosh Torabi

Farnoosh started her financial independence journey as an indebted student trying to figure it all out on her own in New York City. She decided to share the lessons she learned on that journey and her knowledge on nearly every personal finance topic is immeasurable. What we love about So Money is Farnoosh’s willingness to have the types of tough financial discussions that are often taboo in today’s day and age. 

 

4. The Stacking Benjamins

Beyond having maybe the best show name of any financial podcast, Stacking Benjamins has been around for a while by podcast standards. Hosts Joe Saul-Sahy and OG cover a wide range of financial topics with a humor and wit that will make you laugh out loud without warning. 

 

5. Choose Fi

We all want to retire at some point in life, right? Choose Fi arms listeners with the information they need to ensure that goal can not only happen but happen sooner than you think. From investment and retirement account advice to tips on how to save and budget more effectively, Choose Fi provides awesome information in easy to comprehend episodes.

 

So next time you’ve got a spare chunk of time on your hands, download one of these awesome financial podcasts to help boost your knowledge. You’ll be a financial wellness wizard faster than you can hit that subscribe button!


How to quickly build your credit score

Your credit score can impact everything from the rewards cards you’re able to apply for to how many followers you have on social media. Ok, maybe not that second one but you’d be shocked at how often your credit score is referenced as a means of assessing risk! That’s why it’s so important to make sure you’re doing everything you can to consistently build your credit score. Unfortunately, merely paying your credit card bills on time can only do so much but fear not! We’ve put together a list of actions you can start taking today to get that credit score climbing the fiscal ladder of excellence.

 

Set your calendar reminder

Paying your bills on time is the easiest place to start when beefing up that credit score. Payment history is one of the largest pieces of data that impacts your score and late payments can seriously ding your report. Even just one delinquent payment can stay on your credit report for more than 7 years - not the type of long-term financial baggage you want in your life. So get those due dates in order and be sure to pay everything on time.

 

Speaking of paying on time…

Almost all bills will have a monthly payment schedule but making smaller and more frequent payments can be a great way to improve your overall credit score. While making these small payments may seem trivial, it helps to improve your credit utilization. The smaller your balance in relation to your credit limit, the better your credit utilization. The better your credit utilization, the better your credit score!

 

Friends like these

If you have family or friends with excellent credit you might want to consider asking to become an authorized user. This allows the credit holder to place you on their account as a user and they actually don’t even need to let you use the credit card in order for you to reap the benefits. Of course, the very nature of this arrangement can be pretty personal so be sure both sides are comfortable with an authorized user relationship to avoid headaches in the future.

 

Sweat the small stuff

Credit errors and reporting inaccuracies are a nasty nuisance that can seriously damage your credit score. We’ve gone over finding and fixing reporting errors before but making a habit of checking your credit report is a must. Get used to what you see on the report and if anything fishy pops up, go about the business of having it fixed as soon as possible. Check out our post on fixing credit errors HERE for information on how to handle these hiccups.

 

Increase your credit limit

This is another way to use credit utilization to your advantage. If your overall credit limit increases while your credit owed balance remains the same, your credit utilization ratio goes down. If you have a history of paying bills on time or you’ve recently gotten a promotion leading to extra cash in your pocket each month, call your credit providers. You’ll want to make sure you can increase your limit without having to trigger a hard credit pull which can temporarily negatively impact your overall score.

 

Keep your options open

While opening up a wallet’s worth of credit cards might not be the soundest financial decision, you also don’t want to close the cards you already have. Again, it all comes down to credit utilization. Even if you aren’t using particular cards anymore, that’s still a credit limit factored into your utilization score. Remember, in order to lower your utilization you either want to a) reduce what you owe or b) increase how much you can borrow. So keep those old department store credit cards on the back burner to take advantage of the credit limit you worked so hard to achieve!

 

Play the field

Mixing up your credit types is a great way to diversify your credit portfolio. If you’ve only got a few loans and no credit cards, or vice-versa, consider opening up an account with a credit type you don’t have. Varied credit accounts help spread out your utilization ratio thus increasing your credit score.

 

The more active you are in your credit-building journey, the more effective you’ll be at controlling your score. Educating yourself on all the different tools at your disposal will not only make you a more astute consumer, but a more accomplished financial wellness expert for life.


How to protect yourself against scams

You've been scammed... now what?

It’s a feeling no one wants to experience. That moment when you realize something you thought was legit turns out to be a scam. Unfortunately, money scams are an ever-present part of modern life. As technology helps make many aspects of our life easier, it also allows scammers more opportunities to exploit the system. But don’t fret, if you find yourself on the short end of a scam there are steps you can take to ensure you minimize the damage and get your financial wellness back on track.

 

Start scrapbooking

First things first - you aren’t alone. Getting taken advantage of can happen to anyone and you shouldn’t beat yourself up about it. The best thing to start doing is to amass any and every piece of information related to the scam as you can. If you fell victim to a cloned online store, take screenshots of your interactions and copy down the URL exactly. Pull up your bank or credit records to identify any fraudulent charges and who they’re with. Any email correspondences or text messages should be archived and kept safe. The more information you have from your scammers, the better.

 

Get on the horn

You’ll want to call whichever banking institution you suffered the scam with as soon as possible. Whether it’s your credit card, debit card, or a money exchange app like Venmo or PayPal, getting on the phone with a rep to explain the situation is a great first step. If you fell victim to a scam with your credit card you can ask for the charges to be reversed. If the scam occurred with your actual bank account or a money exchange app, they’ll need to do some research to determine that fraud did indeed occur. In the meantime, you likely won’t see the missing funds until they’ve had a chance to conduct their own investigation.

 

Freeze that credit

We went over credit freezes in-depth earlier but contacting all three of the major credit bureaus (Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion) to freeze your credit is a must. If there’s a chance that your credit could be impacted by the scam, freezing your credit will help ensure you minimize the damage.

 

Check your report

While you’re freezing your credit it’s also a good idea to check your credit report to see if anything looks fishy. Keep your eyes peeled for new accounts being opened that you didn’t authorize. If you notice anything fraudulent, each bureau has a reporting system you can use to help clear your record (which we outlined HERE).

 

The best offense is a good defense

You can make life for scammers more difficult by taking some proper everyday financial precautions. While having a million unique passwords can be a pain, it’s one of the best ways to protect your online information. While you’re at it, set up 2-factor authentication whenever possible. It’s also a good idea to only carry the cards you use regularly. Leave the credit or debit cards you rarely use at home to reduce the chance they get into the wrong hands. 

 

Remember, if something feels shady there’s a good chance it probably is. Listen to your gut and always be hyper-vigilant when it comes to sharing any personal or financial information on the internet. Getting scammed isn’t the end of the world and there are safeguards in place to help reduce risk. However, with a few precautionary steps, you can ensure your personal financial information stays personal.


Credit utilization and your credit score

Why credit utilization matters

We’ve briefly touched on credit utilization before and how it can impact your credit score. However, given that it can influence up to 30%(!) of your credit risk to lenders, we thought it was worth going into a little more depth as to how it works, how you can use it to your advantage, and ways to improve it. So, grab a seat, and let’s learn how credit utilization factors into your overall financial wellness!

 

What is credit utilization?

Simply put, credit utilization is how much credit you use out of the total amount of credit you’re offered. It’s calculated as a percentage and, thankfully, is an easy equation to work out:

Utilization = What you owe ÷ Your credit limit.

So, if you owe $3,000 and your credit limit is $10,000, then your utilization percentage is 30% (3,000 ÷ 10,000 = .3(multiplied by 100) or 30%). Not too difficult, right? 

 

Why does credit utilization matter?

When lenders are deciding whether to approve credit for an individual it all comes down to risk. The more financially risky the individual, the less the chances they get approved for credit. Over time, lenders have come to rely on certain factors to help them determine risk and credit utilization is a big one. If your utilization percentage is high, lenders think you rely heavily on credit which makes you a riskier candidate to pay back what you owe. If your utilization percentage is low, you’re demonstrating to lenders that you don’t rely on credit as heavily and are therefore a more attractive candidate to approve.

 

What should your credit utilization be?

In short, as low as possible! A good rule of thumb is to aim for 30% or lower but the smaller that percentage is, the better it is for your overall credit score. Even if you pay off your credit card on time, maxing it out every month can still result in a high utilization percentage. So try and make purchases strategically in order to ensure you keep your utilization as low as you can.

 

Ok, so how do I improve my utilization?

Great question! The easiest thing, of course, is to just not place as much on your credit cards. Set a balance limit for each of your cards and hold yourself to it. The quicker you pay off your balances, the more wiggle room you have to play with. Additionally, you can also apply for more credit cards (we hear there’s a health & wellness credit card coming soon that’s pretty good 😎). While this may seem slightly counterintuitive, new credit cards will increase your credit limit which will help lower your utilization percentage. 

 

Knowing how credit is built and scored will not only make you a more informed consumer but will also help ensure you get the most out of your own score. With some planning and strategic budgeting, you’ll be able to take full advantage of your good credit whenever you need it.


How to optimize working from home

The pandemic made working from home a reality for a lot of people when offices started shutting down. As the world adjusts to life in the wake of Covid, working from home remains a constant for many. There are advantages and challenges to not being able to go into an office every day which is why it’s important to take steps to ensure you’re setting yourself up for success. With a few intentional choices, you can start maximizing your work at home time to keep your professional and financial wellness operating at prime capacity.

 

Time to get comfortable

You’ve probably heard of ergonomics but do you actually know what it means? Ergonomics is the study of people’s efficiency in their working environments. Put simply, it helps keep you as comfortable and efficient as possible when you’re on your 9 to 5. It can be easy to plop down on the couch or dinner table and start knocking out emails. Next thing you know, you’ve been sitting in an unhealthy position for over an hour and your body knows it. 

 

A sit/stand desk can be a great way to find that magical setup that allows you to work comfortably while also giving you the flexibility to move around. Prices range from the more premium, like Fully to more affordable options from Ikea. There are also sit/stand desk kits that you can use to turn your current desk into an ergonomic superstar.

 

Set your sights

Laptops are great but the built-in screens that they come with? They can only do so much. An external monitor can be a game-changer when used in conjunction with your built-in screen. In addition to creating additional screen real-estate, buying an external monitor with more adjustability allows you to place it in an optimal position. Staring at a computer screen all day long not only causes strain in your eyes, but if you’re craning your neck to look at a smaller screen you could be needlessly fatiguing your body. A monitor riser can be a great addition to any external monitor setup to ensure you’re achieving a proper screen height. 

 

Hear no evil

Maybe you’re one of the lucky ones who work from home in a house in the country with no neighbors and soundproof walls and insulation. Chances are, you probably have some auditory distractions that you’re dealing with. Whether it’s kids, roommates, or a dog who thinks all delivery people are enemies, insulating yourself from extra noise is imperative when working from home. An easy fix is a nice pair of noise-canceling headphones. If you prefer something with a smaller footprint, a set of earbuds from 1MORE are great or you can go full luxury with the Bose 700 over-ear headphones. Not only will you be able to listen to music undisturbed, but video and phone calls will also become easier to hear and manage.

 

Work in 4K

The reality of working from home is that you’re probably spending more time than you want on video calls. Given that your webcam is the only way most of your colleagues will ever see you these days, doesn’t it make sense to upgrade your equipment? While built-in cameras are fine, spending a little extra on a dedicated external webcam can make a big difference in terms of overall video quality. What’s better, they usually always have a more robust microphone built-in allowing your workmates to hear you more clearly as well. There are plenty of great and affordable options out there but the Logitech and Razer are two of our favorites for ensuring your video experience is the best it can be.

 

Eat for success

Ok so let’s be honest, one of the best parts of office life? The snacks! More and more offices provide their employees with not just a host of snack options but also catered lunches sometimes too. When working from home it can be far too easy to find yourself slipping into unhealthy eating habits. To ensure you’re operating at your professional best you want to make sure you’re fueling your body with enough water and healthy food options. Prepping lunches for the week on a Sunday is a great way to guarantee you’ve always got a balanced meal ready in a pinch. It’s also worth keeping some healthy snacks on hand for those days when you get booked in back-to-back calls all day. As a Paceline user, you can take advantage of your fitness rewards when you hit your streak with some of our awesome partners like Thrive Market, Noom, and Sprinly just to name a few!

 

Eventually, we’ll all get back into the office. It might not be with the same frequency as before, but there’s no substitute for the in-person interactions you have with your co-workers. Until then, taking some time to optimize your own working space with some strategic wellness tools at home will help make these strange times hopefully feel a little less strange.


How to freeze your credit

How to freeze your credit

Identity fraud is, unfortunately, always a risk in today’s day and age. With online payments and motivated fraudsters always lurking in the shadows, the chances your financial information gets into the wrong hands is always possible. Thankfully, there are steps you can take to help mitigate those risks, and freezing your credit is one of the best ways to stay secure. So what exactly is a credit freeze? When should you do it? How does it work and will it negatively impact your credit score? We’ll answer all those questions and more below so keep reading!

 

What is a credit freeze?

Freezing your credit prevents lenders or other institutions from being able to access your credit information or open any new accounts. Think of it as locking up your information with you being able to hold the keys and decide when you want to open it back up again. It’s not a permanent action and can be unlocked whenever you want. What’s even better is that it’s a free service with each of the three major credit bureaus. 

 

Why freeze your credit?

If you think that your personal information may have been compromised and you want to ensure that no one can open fraudulent accounts under your name, you’ll want to freeze your credit. If you’ve ever lost your wallet, had credit cards stolen, or been the victim of identity theft, freezing your credit can help mitigate any potential risks.

 

How to freeze your credit

As we’ve discussed before, there are three major credit bureaus (Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax) and you’ll need to freeze your credit with each one individually. You can take care of this both online and over the phone. Be prepared to share some personal information to validate your identity at which point you’ll be provided with a PIN code for when you’re ready to unfreeze your credit. We’ve gone ahead and listed contact information for each bureau below.

 

Experian

Find their online freeze center HERE or call 1-888-EXPERIAN.

 

TransUnion

Find their online freeze center HERE or call 1-888-909-8872.

 

Equifax

Find their online freeze center HERE or call 1-800-685-1111.

 

You’ll want to be sure you remember you unfreeze your accounts if you’re applying for anything where a pull on your credit is necessary. It can sometimes take a day or two for a freeze to be lifted, so be sure to factor in enough time to avoid delays in any applications. 

 

Hopefully, you’ll never find yourself in a situation where a credit freeze is necessary. However, knowing how to tackle it if the situation arises will help ensure you can quickly and effectively take the necessary steps if the time comes. Until then, make sure you change those passwords often and always utilize safe online practices to avoid needing to freeze your credit in the first place!