Why Your Credit Score Matters

Inspector, document is my design and artwork. Thanks. Credit scoring expressed by a numerical formula based on an analysis of an individual’s credit files to assess the creditworthiness of that person. A score of 970 suggests that there is only a small degree of risk involved in approving any loan.

Your credit score: 3 simple numbers that largely determine quite a few important financial aspects including what type and how much credit you obtain, what interest you’ll pay and sometimes even if you are eligible for the job you want.

Here are some important things you need to know about your credit score:

  • The large three credit bureaus mainly focus on what you owe and your repayment history
  • The most commonly used credit score (a FICO score) has a range from 300 to 850
  • Standards can change, and for some lenders have increased as to what is seen as a good score
  • Experts have agreed on 720 being a good score and 740 will typically get you the lowest interest rates as well as the best terms

Your FICO score is based on five factors, weighted as follows:

  • Your payment history is 35 percent
  • Amount of debt you owe is 30 percent
  • Length of you credit history, where typically longer is better, is 15 percent
  • Amount of new credit you request is 10 percent. Too many requests, especially in a shorter period of time, is a negative
  • Types of credit you use is 10 percent

Checking your credit:

  • Consumers are entitled to one free credit report every 12 months
  • The three credit bureaus support the website http://AnnualCreditReport.com
  • Your credit report will have detailed information: be sure to check for errors and fix them
  • Your actual credit score may cost a nominal fee, such as $10, but its an advisable investment

To improve your credit score over time; pay your bills on time, reduce debt, look out for errors in your credit report and pay off your bad debt and ask for it to be mark as paid on your credit report. Patience is important in improving your credit because it doesn’t happen fast but these steps are known to help your score.

14 One Of A Kind Burgers in Philadelphia

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Philadelphia is certainly a city that has become well-known for its food; everyone knows the Philadelphia Cheesesteak, and the city is filled with high quality restaurants to enjoy a delectable meal.

But summer is burger season and it’s not too late to seek out one or more of the top 14 burgers in Philadelphia before this summer is over!

Number one on the list is The Brisket Cheeseburger at Lo Spiedo at the Navy Yard. Lo Spiedo offers a menu with a variety of meats slow-roasted on a spit or “spiedo” in Italian, which makes their brisket cheeseburger one of their several menu highlights.

Number two is a classic burger at the new Tired Hands Fermenteria in Ardmore. Their handcrafted burger comes with lettuce, tomato, onion, cheese, candied bacon, pickles, housemade Hop Hands mustard and fries, yum! They are also known to have delicious beer to pair with your meals.

Moving down to number seven on the list, the new South Bowl in South Philly gets a lot of attention from their pizza, but also has some high quality burgers on the rise. The burgers come with a diverse selection of toppings including jalepenos, avocado, crispy onions, bacon, taylor pork roll, gruyere, fontina, provolone and more. Add a Taylor Pork Roll and a fried egg to create an excellent brunch burger!

For the full list of all 14 must have burgers, including ones with guacamole, red wine reduction or even coconut shrimp, click here!

23 Creative Ways to Repurpose Plastic Bottles

Stockholm, Sweden – July 04, 2015: Recycle or up cycle in the garden. Here are four PET bottles with cut bottoms and hung upside down with soil inside. Wild strawberries grow fine in these.

Aside from separating your trash and recycling plastic that way, there are endless options to repurpose your plastic bottles, from gardening to decorating to even organizing your knick-knacks!

1. Here’s a new way to garden, use plastic bottles as planters by turning them sideways and hanging them along a wall or gate! You can create a unique vertical garden at a small cost with all sorts of plants.

2. Another surprising, yet useful way to reuse plastic bottles is by decorating a chandelier. By cutting off the bottoms of plastic bottles and bringing them together, you can create a one of a kind chandelier that looks elegant with a unique texture.

3. The same thing can be done with plastic spoons on a lamp! By taking off the handles, placing the spoon tops downward and overlapping on a bottle that you can hang on a light bulb can give it a great look.

4. Again with the bottoms of plastic bottles you can create a jewelry stand, who would have thought? By turning them upside down except the bottom one and putting a small metal prong through the middle, it can create the perfect place to store all of your small pieces of jewelry.

5. For those of you who are into the outdoors, plastic bottles can also be made into a beautiful bird feeder! With the help of some spoons, you can poke holes into the bottle to let the bird food come out and stick spoons in the holes to catch the food. Just simply hang the bottle by a string on a tree, put the food in, and let the birds enjoy.

For more ways to reuse plastic along with pictures, click here.

Home Insurance 101

home insuranceIt is important to know the do’s and don’ts of home insurance in order to get the most out of your investment. Here’s some home insurance 101 to help know what is covered and what is not covered.

First thing’s first: Talk to multiple agents. David Thompson, an instructor with the Florida Association of Insurance Agents in Tallahassee advises people to speak with multiple agents and that the biggest mistake consumers make is buying a homeowners policy solely because it has lowest annual premium.

Know what IS covered:

If your home and its items were damaged or destroyed, generally your policy would cover “replacement cost” which is an estimate of what it would take to repair or rebuild it and to replace your belongings.

Replacement cost is typically calculated from insurance companies’ formulas and they have a number of ways of arriving at those formulas, Thompson said. The homeowner will supply basic information and the insurers will add in other current cost data.

Along with the structure and contents, insurance generally offers a certain amount of liability protection  someone is hurt in a slip-an-fall accident in your home. It also should cover living expenses if you’re unable to live in the home because of fire, etc.

Standard policies usually spell out what is covered such as fire, theft, hail, lightning, etc.

Know what is NOT covered:

Policies don’t often cover damage from floods, sewer backups, earthquakes and a few other unfortunate circumstances. Separate coverage for such events may be a good idea, especially if you live in a flood-prone or earthquake-prone zone.

Hurricanes are a special category unto themselves and the deductible (the amount the policyholder pays out-of-pocket before the coverage kicks in) is not usually a set amount; typically, it’s based on a percentage of the insured value, up to 5 percent.

If you’re planning to operate a business from your home, your business equipment most likely wouldn’t be covered in a homeowners’ claim.
In covering your possessions, insurers suggest that the best thing you can do for yourself is to take an inventory of what you own and update it constantly. Standard policies have limits on how much they may pay for your items, so if you have particularly valuable items such as furs, jewelry, etc., you may want to consider purchasing a “floater” or “rider,” which is separate coverage for those items’ full value.

Consider your deductible:

Policies usually have a deductible amount, so if a loss occurs, it’s a sum the policy holder would pay before the insurance coverage kicks in. Deductibles are commonly $500 or $1,000, but they can vary. The higher the deductible amount, the lower the premiums will be.

Some policies may have a “percentage deductible.” For example, if your house is insured for $100,000 and you have a 2 percent deductible, then $2,000 would be deducted from the amount of your claim if the house is a total loss.

For the full article on home insurance 101, click here!

Montgomery County, PA Labor Day Guide

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Labor Day Weekend is just around the corner and events are popping up all over Montgomery County to celebrate!

Tubing down Montgomery County’s own Schuylkill River is the best way to end summer with an adventurous hurrah! This Labor Day Weekend, Schuylkill River Outdoors will be renting out equipment and sending those who are interested down the river for a relaxing experience.

If you’d like to catch some fireworks this Labor Day Weekend, but you’re not looking to travel all the way into Philly to see them, then set up at Evansburg State Park to watch the shows from afar! There’ll be firework shows all around Pennsylvania this Labor Day Weekend, and in Evansburg State Park, you can watch them all perfectly on the horizon.

For more events and information on Montgomery County’s Labor Day events this year, click here.

Interest-only Mortgages Are Back

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CNBC has informed borrowers that Michigan-based United Wholesale Mortgage, the second-largest lender through brokers in the country, announced that they are offering interest-only loans through brokers, but with important safeguards. These safeguards include; the borrower must put 20 percent down, ensuring that they have the “skin in the game” that many did not during the housing boom, they must have at least a 720 FICO credit score (well above average), and they must qualify on what the payments will be once they’re adjusted higher, not at the starter rate.

These safeguards assure that the people with these mortgages can afford them and that there is less risk: “These people can afford these mortgages. They’re savvy homeowners,” said Ishbia (President and CEO of Michigan-based United Wholesale Mortgage). “We’re giving them the choice. It is no more risk to us. We actually think it’s less risk.”

United Wholesale Mortgage does not hold the loans, but sells them to investors.

The article explains interest-only mortgages: “The mortgage begins as a five-year adjustable-rate product. Without paying principal, a borrower using, for example, a $300,000 mortgage, would start at 4.125 percent today, the same as a 30-year fixed. Without paying principal, however, the borrower would save $420 per month.”

“The interest rate can then adjust higher after five years, depending on market rates, but borrowers for this product are underwritten at a rate above 6 percent to ensure they could handle that adjustment. Borrowers are also required to start making principal payments after 10 years; of course they can also refinance the loan whenever they want.”

During the housing boom, these mortgages were used to help borrowers buy homes they couldn’t exactly afford. More lenders are starting to use them again and with tighter restrictions. They are mainly offered to high net worth individuals in the jumbo loan category, and banks hold the loans on their balance sheets.

This proposal made by United Wholesale Mortgage is designed to offer the product to a broader group of consumers through brokers. Consumer watchdogs are worried that with a wider group they will be used more for refinances, which could be an issue, due to how quickly home prices are increasing lately.

For the full article on interest-only mortgages, click here.

Art Star Pop Up Market at Spruce Street Harbor Park

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Every Saturday from 11-4 until September 26th, The Art Star Pop Up Market will feature the work of up to 20 curated art and craft vendors.  Each participating vendor will be set up al fresco style under a tree lined walkway within the park. A variety of handmade goods at an affordable price range will be offered and the vendor line-up will change each day!

The Spruce Harbor Park is located along the Delaware River between Lombard and Walnut Streets.  The park includes a pop up restaurant and bar, a boardwalk, games, live music, family friendly activities and the most popular attraction, the hammocks! Tons of people come to lay in the parks famous hammocks with the beautiful scenery.

Be sure to check out all the different venders at the market before it closes!

Landscape Lighting Tips

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How you light your landscape can make a huge difference in the look of your yard. With the proper lighting, your outdoor space can go a long way.

There are some basics to be aware of in order to find the perfect lighting for your landscape. For starters, light has intensity, or quantity emitted, and color. The color of a particular lightbulb can be found on the packaging; it is a number that ranges from 1800 kelvins (K), which is very red in tone, to 7500 K, which is a bluish white.

Whether indoors or outdoors, lighting is typically separated into three sections based on function: overall light provides illumination for a whole room or space, task lighting is used for a specific purpose, such as to light a path, and accent lighting draws attention to an object or area.

Lighting Placement: Lighting can be placed anywhere, but there are certain spots where it can be an absolute must:

Paths: A well-lit path is both welcoming and required, providing illumination that extends hospitality to visitors and makes walking more secure. High illumination isn’t necessary, and downlights will prevent glare. Individually lit pavers can also be used to light a pathway

  1. Entries: Lights can be placed either to each side of a door or overhead at front, back, and side entry doors
  2. Driveway: Low-voltage landscape lighting is a good option along a driveway.
  3. Steps: Steps should be lighted for safety; either the risers or the treads can be lit
  4. Decks or Patios: Lighting can be used to illuminate specific task areas on a deck or patio, such as a cooking spot, along with railings and seating areas. Uplighting, which is harder more difficult to do outside, can be used on a deck or patio to send light upward on an umbrella or deck “ceiling.”

America’s Most Affordable (and Least Affordable) Beach Towns

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Looking for a home away from home to get away on a beautiful beach? Here are America’s most and least affordable beach towns to guide you to a good vacation spot, whether you’re looking to buy or just rent for a short time.

The most affordable is Port Richey, Florida which is 40 miles northwest of Tampa. Being the number one budget beachfront choice with a median of $78,000, it is a great spot to watch the dolphins jump in the waves.

Closer to the area, Atlantic City, New Jersey is number 3 on the most affordable beach towns in America! There’s endless things to do there with its large boardwalk and it has a beautiful, clean beach. The median price of homes is only $118,000.

For more information and affordable beach towns, and even not so affordable beach towns for some amusement, click here!

Valley Forge in Montgomery County

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Discover all the fun that Valley Forge has to offer all year round! There is a wide variety of events and things to do such as Valley Forge National Historical Park, Spring Mountain, Elmwood Park Zoo along with malls, outlets, restaurants, outdoor concerts and other attractions, the list is endless!

Valley Forge is a family-friendly area with all kinds of adventures to experience you don’t want to miss out on.

For information and details on exploring Valley Forge, click here.