What the different credit scores mean

As a general rule, here’s how scores are viewed

Below 580: Very High Risk

Anyone with a score below 580 will be viewed as a very high risk with a high likelihood of not honouring the debt. As such, many companies will not consider them at all. Those that do will probably require a substantial deposit and/or collateral. They will also charge you more in terms of interest as a result of the increased risk they are accepting.

581 – 599: High Risk

This is a borderline area where lenders will tread very carefully as you will be seen as a high-risk client. Finance and credit will be extremely difficult, but not impossible, and when granted, will likely come with conditions and high interest rates.

600 – 619: Average Risk

A score in this range is considered to be an average credit risk and you should not have much difficulty getting reasonable credit with fair interest rates if you do not have any judgements or listings behind your name.

620 – 649: Low Risk

At this level, things are looking up and the institution will look very favourably at your application. They will want to do business with you as you have proved you are a responsible user of credit and therefore pose a low risk to them. They are likely to offer you an attractive deal and you will have a strong negotiating position. Use it.

650+: Minimum Risk

With scores this high you are in a great position to negotiate finance and you should qualify for preferential terms and interest rates. Companies want to lend money to people with a score over 750 and will go out of their way to get your business.

As you can see, often just a few points can make a significant difference. Moving up a score bracket will be beneficial so do everything in your power to improve your score. An improvement of 10 or 20 points is not a major challenge with a bit of insight and effort.

There are obviously other factors that are taken into consideration but your credit score is one of the most important. Do everything in your power to maintain a good score or work hard to improve a poor score. With a low score, you will be going cap in hand to the lender whereas a higher score will put you in a position of strength and give you much greater power when negotiating the terms of the loan.

You can view your credit record for free credit score and DirectAxis Pluse websites in order to know your credit standing.

5 Ways to Increase Your Credit Score

Is a low credit score holding you back from getting approved for a loan? Do you dream of becoming a homeowner, but need to improve your Credit score?

We’ve got you covered! Follow along for 5 ways you can increase your chances of approval once and for all.

Low Utilization Makes a High Credit Score

Your credit card utilization is a measurement of how much of your credit card balances you’ve spent versus your overall credit limit. This counts for all your cards individually and combined.

If you have a credit card where you’ve only utilized 10% of your balance and another where you’ve utilized 70% the 70% utilization will still have a negative impact. Opening a new credit account to offset the high utilization on another card isn’t a smart move either.

In the meantime, other tips to keep your utilization down include:

  • Making small payments throughout the month
  • Spread charges across multiple credit card accounts.
  • Ask for a limit increase don’t overspend to match your new credit limit

It’s important to remember to keep your balance at 30% of your credit limit or less. If you need to make a large payment using a credit card, try to pay the purchase off as soon as possible.

Pay Off Old Collection Accounts

Resolving accounts that had been transferred to a collection’s agency will drastically increase your credit score. When you check your credit report, you will have a list of these accounts that are in bad standing.

Since the agency’s contact information is typically listed on the same page, you shouldn’t have too much trouble finding someone to assist you. If the balance that needs to be collected is more than you can afford during the time of the call, the representative you speak with may ask if you’re interested in settling the account.

When you’re settling an account, you are usually being asked to pay the principal balance which is the amount that was owed before the account became past due. This means your late fees and interest have been waived.

There’ll be a due date for the settlement amount (usually 90 days out.) And most collections agencies will allow you to divide those payments into manageable installments as long as the last one is by the agreed upon date.

Be mindful that settled accounts may still show on your credit score as not having been paid in full, even after your last payment. Before agreeing to a creditor’s settlement terms, ask if it will show as paid in full on your credit report.

Depending on their answer, you might be better off making payment arrangements for the full balance instead of settling. Most agencies will work with you to set up payments according to your pay schedule.

Build Credit with a Secured Card

The beautiful thing about secured credit cards is they are built to help improve your credit score. So, if you’re young and haven’t established credit yet or you’ve made mistakes that caused a low score, a secured card can help.

The process of signing up for a secured credit card is fairly similar to signing up for a normal card. You will still need to provide information like your social security card, address, and salary.

Your credit limit will be determined by the deposit amount you choose. Different credit card companies have their own rules and qualifications, so make sure you do your research on the minimum balance requirements and APR.

If you’d like to start off with a $200 limit, for example, that amount will be deducted from your bank account and you can swipe your card up to that amount. Although, you need to be mindful of the utilization.

When you’re searching for a secured credit card, find one that will reward good behavior. For example, with Capital One’s Platinum card, you will receive an automatic balance increase after having made 5 consecutive payments on time.

Your payments and utilization will be reported to all the major credit reporting agencies. If you manage the card correctly, you’ll see your Credit score increase a little every month.

Don’t Close Old Accounts

There isn’t much you can do about your credit age, but this factor has a huge impact on your credit score. A credit age of 5 years or more is usually considered good.

This means you’ve had open credit accounts and have been making payments for at least 5 years. If your credit age is less, you will have to be patient while it increases.

While you wait, don’t rush to open several lines of credit. It has a negative impact on your score when there are a lot of requests in a short period.

Also, don’t close existing lines of credit. This can be an old credit card you paid in full and no longer use.

You’re better off storing the card in a safe place and forgetting about it for a couple of reasons. Let’s say that credit card has a R1,000 limit. Since you aren’t using it, it has a R0 balance being carried from month to month. That 0% utilization is adding points to your credit score.

If you’re using a different card and keeping it in good standing, that unused card will still help when you apply for a loan or another line of credit. Also, keep in mind that even an account closed while it’s in good standing will sit on your credit report for up to 10 years.

Protect Your Identity

With the majority of us paying bills and making purchases online, the risks for identity and credit theft are higher than ever. Protect yourself and your credit score by monitoring and then reporting suspicious transactions and accounts.

This includes disputing accounts on your credit report that shouldn’t be there. Consider signing up for an identity theft protection service. Many banks offer them to account holders and they’re inexpensive. If your name is ever used, it can take years to repair your credit.

Fame or Riches?

The the question that one who has the intention to start a business has to ask before commencing with the registration of it or working around the idea/ product is, do I wanna be famous or be rich? This is how Abednigo Tau of Tuta-Me see it:

Recently I came across a South African Entrepreneur who was being interviewed about some of the challenges and failures he had experienced in his clothing retail business, the business is mainly from what I can gather a consumer facing business. Right after watching the interview I went onto social media to see his Instagram account, and there it was , his title , •Celebrity Entrepreneur• , this lead me to ask an introspective question to myself , do you want to be famous or do you want to be rich? In my mind celebrity entrepreneur is a paradox , and oxymoron , two contradictory words that should not follow each other. Look-at my English , Mrs Meyer, my English teacher would be proud .

You see as a big movie star, musician , rockstar, you get to have your cake and eat it, you get to be both famous and rich , but in the world of entrepreneurship , very very few entrepreneurs are both rich and famous, and when I mean very few, it’s just Jeff Bezos, Zuckerberg , Elon. There are no Robert Downey jnr in Entrepreneurship, there is only iron and hard steal that you have to chisel through. I think the reason people want to be famous or well known entrepreneurs is because they haven’t understood their business models and what it will take for those models to work.

You see 2 years ago if you had said to me , Abed are you a fan of B-C or B-B models , I would have thought you are talking about… well hmm, all guys know what I was thinking here. You see I was not familiar with this lingo of business to consumer or Business to business models, however I have come to believe this is the epicenter of all business and why businesses fail. Very few people apply their minds to ensuring they not only understand their business model but understand who the customer is for their product and service.

Quick summary, business to consumer models , you sell your product directly to a consumer who uses and enjoys the benefit of your service or product. Business to business models, your customer is typically another business here. Examples here are , when you buy clover milk from Pick and Pay, pick and pay is in the business to consumer market , they are selling a product directly to you , the end consumer of the carton of milk. When clover sells the milk to pick and pay, they are in a Business to business model , their customer is Pick and Pay, even further , a farmer who produces the milk is also in the business to business market, he sells his milk to clover , if you want to take it a little further , the packaging company , the delivery company for the milk , the company that adds preservatives, all these businesses are operating a business to business model with clover or pick n pay being their customers.

The problems with a business to consumer model , in my minds eye are simple , you have to build a brand , which means years of spending advertising budget, people need to know you exist , you need social media campaigns, billboards , google ad words, you need to become famous. you see business to consumer businesses are hard , no one tells you that, they are driven by volumes because mostly you are targeting a larger number of consumers. These markets also very competitive , any product that you can think of that is consumer facing has fierce competition from established monopolies and oligopolies, 98% of the time you cannot compete with their marketing teams, budgets , and balance sheets and their bloody bill boards, imaging launching a retail bank currently with all of Absa’s billboards, I swear next week they doing a color run for South Africa and they painting the sky red, I digress.

What fascinates me the most though is that when people quit their jobs or think of entrepreneurship they want to do a business to consumer model, they want to open a restaurant , a hair and beauty salon , a food product business for consumers, a bar, then next cool Chesa Nyma , these are the businesses that I call famous businesses . I know this because I too was a part of this. (Nothing wrong with these businesses but know the challenges upfront)

You see at the braai , everyone knows the guy who is in a business to consumer business , if I asked everyone who is the owner of Saint , Gemelli , 75% of the people would know the answer , but if I asked you who is the biggest tooth pick provider to all the restaurants in the country you don’t know that man or lady, yet I can tell you right now without even meeting the owner they are richer than any restaurant owner. Who is the biggest supplier in the country of those small sugars and salts you have at all restaurant tables ? I could go one.

You see no one will ever invite the guy who manufactures tooth picks and straws to come give a talk at the next Finance Indaba , they would rather have a business to consumer entrepreneur , why? Because they famous right ? We all know them , they on TV, their brands are in our face , you see while your favorite chef and restaurant struggles to pay the rent and employees , he is still sending the R3000 per month to the tooth pick manufacture, here is the secret , so are all the other 200 restaurants in that area , that your favorite chef and restaurant has to compete with , because he is in a b-C market , and when the restaurant closes down eventually , the tooth pick manufacturer is not worried, soon a new tenant will take up the lease to attempt his business to consumer restaurant business and continue to send him the R3000 that the previously failed restaurant was sending. All the while , you and I haven’t heard of this tooth pick manufacturer.

Don’t get me wrong, business to consumer markets can work , there are many examples of successful restaurants , “Uber of “ businesses , nail and beauty bars etc, but they are hard core , this does not mean that business to business markets are easy , but you generally don’t need a lot of clients in the business to business space, the tooth pick manufacture needs 20 restaurants and he is a R60-80k Business per month, the restaurant needs to seat hundreds of clients per day to get to the R80k, he has to sell his product hundred of times to achieve the result of the business to business model. And he also has to deal with the patrons who buy 1 coffee and sits there for hours for the free WiFi . I have done this plenty times.

Business to business has its own challenges too, the sales cycles are longer , you need to demonstrate problem solving solutions rather than experiences and features such as  in the consumer markets , however it’s bigger Cheques and more sustainable earnings because generally its contract driven. You cannot contract your patrons to have dinner at your your restaurant every night, yet the tooth pick and straw manufacturer have retainer agreements with the restaurant.

You see I have boiled it down to this , the human experience wants to be famous , we want to be invited to speak, as a guest speaker , we want to be Zuckerberg , we want to be in the front. The older I get I want nothing to do with this , I have learnt the biggest secret , the most successful business owners are the ones we haven’t heard off mainly because they don’t service a consumer market , you see we all have heard of Roy Croc , and Mac Donald’s , but if I woke you up in the middle of the night and said “who is mac Donald’s biggest lettuce supplier , or tomato supplier “ you wouldn’t know , because they are not famous , they are in a business or business model but you can find them on Malibu beach guaranteed.

This is a long way of saying, understand the challenges of the markets your operate in , are you a consumer facing business or business facing , and do you understand the pros and cons of each? I certainly don’t have a blue print , but I think it’s important to know upfront what you in for

As a true test always ask yourself when you wear your favorite Levi’s jeans tomorrow , I wonder who provides Levi’s with their buttons for their jeans, yip thought so, you don’t know, but that owner is sitting somewhere on an island.

Do you want to be famous or do you want to be rich ? Go and find youth tooth pick solution.

8 Ways to Make Money as a Blogger

That aren’t ads or affiliate links in your blog.

Photo by Kaitlyn Baker on Unsplash

There are many ways you can make money from your blog.

The main ones we hear about include having ads on your blog, using affiliate links, and upselling your readers whatever you’re trying to sell, such as creating a blog post about the top 5 best ways to market your ebook and then having an ad at the bottom for an inexpensive workbook or guide with more book marketing tips or your own ebook.

You can also be part of Medium’s Partner Program and make money monthly based on how many claps your stories get.

But what about using your blog as a jumping-off point, as opposed to the blog earning money?

HERE ARE 8 WAYS TO MAKE MONEY AS A BLOGGER:

  • Become a freelance blogger. There are many companies who need regular blogs written for their sites, and many digital marketing agencies who use freelancers to write blogs for their clients. You can also write and contribute articles to online publications who pay. Here’s a list of more than 100 sites that pay for articles from FreelanceWritingGigs.com.

Being a freelancer doesn’t mean you have to do everything (copywriting, editing, etc.) or do it full-time. You can pick up a client here and there or contribute an article now and then as you want. It can be a great way to earn a little extra money without committing to it full-time. If you want to find clients without cold messaging, you can check out one of the sites I use sometimes, ProBlogger.

  • Use your blog content to write a book. If you write about one subject or topic often, consider packaging your blogging content into a manuscript and expanding on the information, giving examples, and adding more. You can easily use your blog content as the starting point of a book!

Having a published book gives you more authority and perceived credibility and positions you as a subject-matter expert. This will open up a new revenue stream and will also give you more opportunities for getting clients and raising your prices.

  • Start a podcast. You can start a podcast for free on platforms like Anchor Stitcher, SoundCloud, Buzzsprout and many more. Your podcast can have sponsors and ads on it, generating revenue, and you can get it on all the main streaming services. You can also put it on your website as an additional service.

Some podcasts even charge guests a fee to be featured when they get large enough, giving you a larger potential to make money. Also, podcasts open you up to an even bigger potential audience.

  • Start a YouTube channel. Similar to starting a podcast, you can turn your blogs into video and give your stories new life with audio and video. You can add graphics, text, pictures, do screensharing presentations, interviews, and much more.

YouTube ads bring in money as your channel grows and you can choose a ton of different search terms. You’re also able to edit your titles and descriptions if you need to as you go.

  • Create a free or inexpensive webinar. If you are an expert in something and use your blog to teach others, think about offering a free or cheap webinar to teach them in a different format.

Your webinar will also act as a lead generator, gathering emails and names of people who watch it, giving you warm leads to sell them your book, advertise your podcast, send newsletters, and potentially turn them into clients.

  • Create an online course. You may not want to do a short webinar or perhaps what you teach is too intricate or technical to teach in a shorter format like that. You can always jump into a longer course to teach groups. You have the option of creating and marketing it yourself (it’s tough but doable) or using an existing platform like Udemy or Coursera, where you can create a course or five and put it on their platform, they will help with marketing and promoting your course and pay you based on how many students enroll.

Many people have been successful in creating a passive income on sites like Udemy after creating a structured, polished, informative course. I’ve been looking more and more into this and check out this Quora thread about Udemy and earnings.

  • One on one or group coaching. If you are teaching people anything, you can offer coaching to help them. Many people I know had never heard of a book coach until I decided to become one.

If what you write about is applicable, offering coaching for individuals or groups (for example, business or life coaching or social media marketing) or consulting with companies (for example, if you’re an expert in data security or marketing or sales or efficiency). Almost anything can be made into a coaching situation, as everyone has some expertise to share and many people want or need to learn!

  • Become a paid speaker. If you have a couple of topics you can speak on well and have a blog with followers and readers, you can use your blog as a launchpad for speaking gigs.

Most people don’t realize this, but if you want speaking gigs, most of the time the gigs don’t come to YOU, you go find THEM and pitch yourself to the organizers as a speaker. So, you would look for conferences, conventions, or school events that you think you’d be a good fit for, then reach out to the organizers to introduce yourself and the topics you speak on. They would check out your blog or podcast or whatever you provide them and decide if you’d be a good fit for their event. Similar to how you have to pitch your stories to a publication, you pitch yourself to speaking opportunities.

THERE YOU HAVE IT.

Eight different ways you can use your experience as a blogger to launch into different money-making opportunities.

What did I miss? Are there any not on here that you do and make money from? Let us know in the comments!

Jyssica Schwartz: Entrepreneur, writer, editor, book coach, cat lover, weirdo, optimist. Author of “Write. Get Paid. Repeat.” and “You Are Not Alone.”