I am a lifelong South Lake Tahoe resident and I never want to leave. Like myself, many of you who live here year round don’t own your residence. Lake Tahoe is an amazing place to live but it can be expensive to get by. With how seasonal our economy is and our dependency on things like snow and weather in general, it can be very difficult to save enough money to buy a home. However, don’t fret! I am currently researching ways for people like myself to do this. I hope you will all take this journey with me, and become homeowners and lifetime residents of South Lake Tahoe!
The housing market has been very difficult for us renters. There aren’t any homes for rent in all of South Lake Tahoe. When they do finally come up, the rental agencies have a ton of applicants within the first day of posting a listing. This makes it really difficult to find a home here especially when you are competing with so many other people in need of a place to live. Not only can the competition be intense but once you do find a house, paying rent can feel like a waste. The money you pay goes to someone else’s and not your future. Add to that the fact that you are extremely vulnerable to the homeowner’s decisions. If they decide to sell, you’re most likely going to have to find a new home, throwing you back in the proverbial ring with everyone else clamouring to find something.
Paying a mortgage can be about the same amount as a rent payment but there are a few hurdles to overcome when getting on track to buy a home. Credit and saving up for a down payment are the first that come to mind. I have set a goal for myself this year and I hope you will too. I want to be a homeowner by the time we elect a new president. I have a long way to go, but if I can do it, literally anyone can!
Credit is a really big part of financing a house and it’s something that affects your daily life. These days you can’t even buy a cell phone without having your credit checked. Credit Karma is a great resource for straightening things out. They give you a report of your credit and will give you suggestions on how to raise your credit score. They also show you missed payments or things that have gone to collections. Sometimes things just get forgotten especially with the busy lifestyle we Lake Tahoians enjoy so much. Work on paying off any debts and practicing smart spending habits.
Getting Financially Sound
Set up a Monthly Budget
There are some great resources for doing this so that you have a way to track your spending on your phone. These apps can greatly increase your tracking of spending habits and they will help you pick out the things that you may be spending too much on. I currently use the Mint Budgeting App and it has already helped me make some small changes so that I can Coffee is one of my vices, but with my budget I was able to see this more clearly and began buying bagged coffee at the supermarket instead of going to coffee shops every day. Just that small change has enabled me to put $60 back in my bank account a month!
Pay off your debt
One of the things that will hurt your credit the most is undoubtedly debt. If you have any bills that went to collections or you have any late payments on credit cards, you will be affected by this. The best way to take care of it is to pay it off. I had a bill from a cellphone almost 10 years ago that was still affecting my credit! Things can fall through the cracks very easily so it’s a good idea to do a monthly check to see that there is nothing you missed.
Put your credit card away
Until you have paid off the other things you need to, don’t use your credit card. Using your credit card while trying to pay off other things will negatively affect your credit. It will especially if you are using it to pay off other debts. When doing this you’re not really solving the problem either, it’s essentially just moving your debt to another place.
There is a great sense of accomplishment when working to achieve your goals. But remember to only do as much as is comfortable for you. If you miscalculate on how much you can pay off at once, and overextend on your budget, you will run into other problems. You don’t want to be late or short on rent just because you decided to try and pay off an old hospital bill or something. I have been guilty of this mistake a few times but with having a monthly budget and sticking to it, I have been able to avoid these problems. Sticking to your budget means daily checking in with your money and planning for the things you need to spend money on.
Get Some Professional Help
It may seem silly to spend money on a consultation to fix your money problems but building a plan to fix your credit is like trying to set up a workout routine. Everyone is different, some areas may be stronger than others and what works for someone else may not work for you. Not to mention credit is a strange and constantly evolving animal which makes it hard for many online guides to be of any real use. Some things you would never think could hurt your credit can have lasting effects on it. Applying for a credit card for example. For some people this may be an advisable step for them to raise their credit. For others just having the inquiry on there can hurt you.
I hope these tips help and that you’ll all work on your own personal goals too. Let me know if you guys have any other helpful credit fixing tips or new ideas on how to save some of that money.
By Ally Ritchie