I recently asked my friends about their biggest struggle as a newly minted professional.  One of their answers that they didn’t really understand credit.  What makes up your credit score?  What is a good credit score and how do you improve yours?  It seems like in our high school and college curriculum we were never taught or given help about understanding credit.

Do you have struggles as a newly minted professional? Understanding credit? Paying off debt? Building wealth? Join Minted and Printed

Let me know in the comments and I’ll write a post about it.

Millennials are Afraid of Credit Card Debt

As it turns out, most millennials like us don’t completely understand credit, so we choose to stay away.  It’s a natural reaction but, apparently, it’s a trend.  Federal Reserve data says that the percentage of millennials who hold credit card debt has fallen to its lowest level since 1989 (when I was born).

This is concerning because, apparently in the past, early use of credit cards helped young Americans develop a comfort level with credit.Understanding Credit

So why aren’t we comfortable with credit card debt?

One reason, is that we grew up during the Great Recession.  Therefore, we know the consequences of not being financially stable and how things can turn for the worst.  We don’t have much trust in the financial market.

Our generation, millennials, are also more educated than we have ever been and, therefore, more financially responsible!  We understand what we can and cannot afford to live irresponsibly and are extremely hesitant (with good reason) to use credit cards to live beyond our means.  Huge no-no!

With this extra education we have, comes student loans.  We are already in debt!  Why would we want to add more debt to that?  The average American millennial now has $17,200 in student loan debt.  And that really sucks.  But we must live with it.

Seems like our generation is being very financially responsible.  How can this be a disadvantage?

Well, maybe you want to buy a car or a house…

We Need to Build Credit 

Without a substantial credit history, it is much harder to take out a home mortgage.  I know right.  Clearly, since we haven’t fallen into the trap of living beyond our means with credits cards, we wouldn’t be irresponsible when buying a house!

Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way.  You need to show evidence of handling debt to be trusted with more.

I’ve mentioned Dave Ramsey’s book, Total Money Makeover, before and I think it’s great.  But there is one point that he makes that I disagree with.  Dave suggests eliminating debt completely out of our lives by paying cash for everything.  This just isn’t realistic for those of us just starting out in the real world.  If we waited to save enough to purchase a house with cash, we would waste 10s of years still renting while we save up!  That’s money that we will never get back.

If I saved half of my paycheck to purchase a $200,000 house in cash, I would be saving for over 8 years.  That’s over $100,000 wasted in rent.

Long story short, we need to build some credit.

My Credit History

I got my first credit card in grad school and after 5 years of using my card responsibly, I racked up some pretty good credit.  As of a couple weeks ago, my FICO credit score is in the high 700s and inching closer and closer to 800!  (That’s my goal since watching Blackish season 2, episode 13.)

With my awesome credit score, I was able to lease my new car at a very low interest rate!  It is beyond affordable!  I’m basically driving the car for free…ok not really.  But almost.

This can be all of us if we use credit responsibly.  But first, we need to understand how it works.  So let’s get to it!  Let’s learn more about credit!

Understanding Credit

Your credit score is just a number that represents your credit worthiness.  It measures how likely you are to pay your debts.  But what is FICO?  The FICO credit score is just a fancy name for the model used by most banks and credit grantors.  It’s based on your credit files from the 3 national credit bureaus:  Experian, Equifax, ad Trans Union.

Your FICO score is determined by many different pieces of credit data in your credit report from those bureaus above.  All of this info is grouped into 5 categories:  payment history, debt burden, length of credit history, types of credit used, and recent searches for credit.

The following varies for different people, but here’s the gist of how much they contribute to your overall credit score:

The Millennial's Guide to Understanding Credit | How the FICO credit score works

35% Payment History:  This category is determined by the presence or lack of poor debt management.

30% Debt Burden:  This includes your debt-to-limit ratio, number of accounts with balances, amount owed across different accounts, and amount paid down on installments loans.

15% Length of Credit History:  Info for this category comes from the average age of the accounts in your report and the age of the oldest account.

10% Types of Credit Used:  This one is pretty self-explanatory.  Different types of credit include credit cards, car loans, mortgage loans, student loans, etc.

10% Recent Searches for Credit:  This includes when you apply for some type of loan.  But don’t worry, multiple inquiries with 14 or 45 days of each other is seen as one.  So it’s ok to shop around for something like a car loan.

How Credit Cards Work

 Now that we know how our credit score is calculated, we want to be able to improve it!  To do this, we need to understand how credit cards work.Understanding Credit cards

Grace Period

When you use your credit card, your company or bank loans you the money for the purchase.  Then your card company gives you a grace period (usually between 20-30 days) where you can repay the amount before interest accrues.

The grace period is where you NEED to live!

If you pay your account balance before your grace period is over, then you will pay 0% interest.  The grace period ends on your card payment due date.

People get into trouble when they don’t pay back the money before the grace period is over.  This is when the interest starts to build.  It gets higher and higher each month that you have an unpaid balance.


Credit cards typically charge between 10-20% of the total balance for interest.  Suppose your card has an interest rate of 15% APR (annual percentage rate).  If you charge $300 to your card that you don’t pay off in a year, you’ll end up paying $45 in interest.  Which doesn’t sound so bad.

However, this isn’t usually the case.  When people have credit card debt, they are carrying a much higher balance.  Suppose you owe $3,000.  That’s $450 in interest each year!  It can be so easy to fall into this trap.  Credit card companies only require you to pay a minimum payment each month (about 2-5% of the total balance).

If you find yourself in credit card debt, you can transfer your balance to a new credit card that has a 0% APR for the first few months.

I highly recommend the Chase Slate card.  I actually have this card.  It has 0% APR for the first 15 months of ownership.  It costs $0 to transfer a balance within the first 60 days.  Plus it gives your FICO score each month so that you can keep track of how you are doing.

Related Post:  Understanding Your Expenses

We will discuss this in more depth next week along with techniques for handling credit responsibly and improving your credit score in part two of The Millennial’s Guide to Understanding Credit.  Make sure you don’t miss out!  To be notified about my new posts, join the Minted and Printed Newsletter.  You will also get access to freebies and other awesome resources!


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I hope that you enjoyed this post.  Let me know in the comments if this helped you to better understand credit.  Also, tell me what struggles you have had as a new adult navigating the real world.  I’ll write a post about it and help others with the same struggles.  Until next time,

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P.S.  I would love it if you shared this post and pinned this image!

The Millennial's Guide to Understanding Credit (Part 1) | Minted and Printed, for millennials navigating the real world

Yes!  A weekly budget…because a monthly budget was not strict enough for me!  Apparently I need to have a weekly budget.

Tell me if this sounds familiar.  Payday happens.  You pay all of your immediate bills and set aside your savings for the month.  You create a budget like this one I made for you a few weeks ago.  And you make plans to stick to it.  Weeks 1 and 2 go well and you feel great about sticking to your budget.  So you splurge a bit…because you deserve it.  And then, in the next week you buy more unplanned items.  But its ok because you did so well the first two weeks of the month.  Then, week 4 comes along and you’ve forgotten all about your budget, going out to eat, grabbing extra stuff at the grocery store, and shopping online.

Did this happen to you?

Well, it happened to me!  I made my budget for the month like I told you I would.  Then I stuck to it for the first couple weeks, but by the end of the month, the budget was all but forgotten.  I went shopping, went out to eat, and got a little too carried away with Amazon Pantry.

I’ve realized that I’m not as disciplined as I thought I was.  I need much more structure and accountability.  Therefore, I need to make a weekly budget that fits in with my overall goals of my monthly budget.  And guess what!  I made a worksheet for you to create a weekly budget too!  Just click this handy button below.

Weekly Budget Button

How to Use the Weekly Budget Worksheet

  1. When you get your paycheck, set your monthly budget.  Here’s my tutorial on how to create one for beginners.
  2. Check out your monthly expenses worksheet.  I made one for you here.  I’m super helpful today!
  3. Determine which bills should be paid immediately and add them to your weekly budget.
  4. Take the amount of your paycheck dedicated for expenses and subtract the amount you plan to spend on your immediate bills.
  5. Now that you have that number, divide it by 4.  This is how much you will budget to spend each week.
  6. Each week, come back to your weekly budget worksheet and plan your week.

Pro Tip:  Maybe you have bills due at the end of the month.  Make sure that you have distributed your weekly budget so that it reflects that upcoming bill.

I believe that being more intentional with planning a weekly budget to go with your monthly budget will help you reach your goals.  Do you think that a creating a weekly budget will benefit you?

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Becoming more intentional with a weekly budget

A couple weekends ago, I was invited to a beautiful wedding by the lake.  One of my fellow math grad school friends from UA got married in a beautiful ceremony and I was so happy that I could make it.  Being that her wedding was in September, I felt that I needed to make sure my outfit was fall ready but still practical for the Alabama heat.  I chose this green fit and flare sleeveless dress with a lace overlay and paired it with green block-heeled sandals.  I managed to stay fairly cool and fit in with the aesthetic of the wedding.  So today’s post is all about how to style a fall wedding outfit when it’s still hot outside.

How to Style a Warm Weather Fall Weather OutfitHow to Style a Warm Weather Fall Weather OutfitHow to Style a Warm Weather Fall Weather OutfitHow to Style a Warm Weather Fall Weather Outfit

How to Style a Warm Weather Fall Wedding Outfit

There are many ways to style a fall wedding appropriate outfit but one of the main goals with any outfit (for me, at least) is that you are comfortable and feel confident in it!  I believe there are 3 main components that will make your fall wedding outfit successful:  Style, material, and color.


When it is warm outside, the cut of your dress or outfit will have the biggest impact on your comfortability level at the wedding.  I would suggest something sleeveless or very flowy that moves with the wind.  An outfit with long sleeves or one that clings to the body will make you feel unneccesarily warm and may highlight where you may be sweating.  And no one wants that!  I decided to go for a sleeveless fit and flare dress.  It kept me cool and comfortable.


The material of your fall wedding outfit is just as important as the style.  You want to choose materials that feel romantic and give off a wedding vibe.  Great romantic, wedding materials include lace, satin/silk, sheers, embroideries, and velvet (I know, but velvet is coming back in a big way and there are some cooler alternatives for hot weather).


The color of your outfit is a great way to embrace the season.  While the style of your outfit may be warm weather appropriate, the color can be fall appropriate.  My dress was a nice fall leafy color and I decided to go monochrome with my shoes.  For your color inspiration, check out the ones below.  I’m loving the colors featured in the Pantone Fashion Color Report for Fall 2016.

Pantone Fashion Color Report | Fall Wedding Outfit

I hope that you enjoyed this post and that it gives you inspiration for this fall wedding season.  As always,

Go forth.  Look great.  Be great.


I know what you may be thinking.  Isn’t journaling for preteen girls to write their current crush’s name inside of a hand-drawn heart?  Well, yeah.  But it’s also for us newly hired professionals who want to succeed and progress in our new careers!  It’s a great way to keep your productivity waaaay up!

I started keeping a journal this summer when I was planning my blog launch.  In it, I kept my daily to-do lists, my long and short-term goals, as well as ideas for the future.  The specific type of journal I kept is called a Bullet Journal, and let me tell you, it was so fun!  If you want to learn more about the Bullet Journal, or as us journalers call it, the BuJo, check out this super official website as well as these really pretty ones on Pinterest.

In todays, post, I am giving you a list of reasons why keeping a journal is especially important for productivity when starting a new job.

Why you Should Keep a Journal


Keeping a journal can give you a safe place to reflect on the thoughts and emotions you have about your career.  Maybe you had a wonderful day at work.  It’s good to acknowledge what you did that day and what made it so great.  Or maybe your day wasn’t the best.  Writing about it can be a nice release of those negative feelings and can help you to not dwell on it longer than necessary so that you can move forward.


Journaling is great for motivation.  Something that I love to add to my journal is a to-do list.  Checking something off of my to-do list is so satisfying and it helps me to celebrate each little win.  In an article in the Harvard Business Review called The Power of Smalls Wins, the authors’ research proved that making progress in meaningful work boosts emotions, motivation, and perceptions during a workday.  Writing in a journal can give you a place to keep track of that progress.

Keeping Track of Accomplishments

It’s also nice to keep a running list of all of your achievements.  If you do something awesome or get complimented on your work, write it down.  You’ll need to have these things on hand when its time for a promotion!


Speaking of promotion, do you know everything that is expected of you to receive a promotion?  If not, find out immediately.  Then you can write down all of these things in your journal.  And now that you know where you are going, you just need to make a plan to get there.  For example, being innovative in teaching is a part of my promotion requirements.  So each week I try to do something new in the classroom to see how my students react to it along with how well they grasp the material.

Related Post:  How to Plan for a Stable Financial Future


A journal is a great place to write down all of your ideas for work, big or small.  Maybe there are colleagues that you want to collaborate with or service projects that you want to put together or be a part of.  Maybe there is new research in your field and you want to apply the results in your job.  The sky’s the limit!  I try to keep a running list of new activities for my students to work on in groups.  So far, the biggest hit was Derivative Sudoku.  Today, I’m trying a matching game with graphs of functions and their derivatives.  I’ll let you know how it goes.

How I use my Journal Daily

  1. I like to take 5-10 minutes either in the morning or the night before work to plan my day.  This typically consists of a To-Do list.  See my pro tip below.
  2. Throughout the day, I will write down any new ideas or goals that I think of.
  3. At the end of the day, I reflect on everything I’ve done and evaluate what’s working for me and what is not.

Pro Tip:  Try to keep your To-Do list short.  3-4 items is about all that one can manage without becoming overwhelmed.

I hope that you have enjoyed this post.  Using my journal helps me to stay focused at work and keep my productivity at 100%.  Tell me, do you currently keep a journal?  What type of things do you write in it?  If you don’t keep a journal, are thinking about keeping one now?

As always,

Go forth.  Look great.  Be great.


P.S.  Feel free to pin this image and share this post!

Productivity 101: Why You Should Keep a Journal when you are Newly Hired | Bullet Journal

Yes, my friends, you read that title correctly.  It is budget day!  Today on Minted and Printed, we are discussing the 50/20/30 Budget Rule.  Have you heard of it?  It has a reputation for being somewhat of a “starter budget” in the personal finance world. 

The 50/20/30 Rule is an organizational way to budget by appropriating set percentages of your income to be used for your needs, wants, and savings.  It’s known as a starter budget because everyone’s goals and financial plans are different and dividing your budget up this way is a good way to see your finances more clearly.

Related Post:  How to Plan for a Stable Financial Future

Since we are newly minted professionals, I thought that the 50/20/30 budget would be a great place to start.  If you are like me, you have completed your first month of work and have gotten your first paycheck.   The first thing I did was print this Expenses Worksheet and start documenting all of my reoccurring expenses.  

The 50/20/30 Rule

To apply this budget, you need to know your take home income after taxes AND have a list of your monthly expenses.  Then you will need to categorize these expenses into three groups:  fixed expenses, savings, and flexible expenses.

Fixed Expenses:  50% of your income

According to the rule, 50% of your take home income should be put toward your fixed expenses.  Your fixed expenses are basically your bills and monthly essentials.  These are the bills you have to pay regardless of where you live and are typically the same for everyone, no matter what your future goals are.  Items in this list include the following:

  • Insurance
  • Utilities
  • Phone and Internet
  • Subscriptions
  • Student Loans
  • Car Payment

Savings:  20% of your income

The next step is to assign 20% of your income to savings.  This category is THE category to help set you up for a successful future!  The more money you dedicate to this category, the quicker you decrease your debt, and the faster you build your wealth!  The items in this list would include:

  • Emergency Funds
  • Savings Plans
  • Debt Payments
  • Roth IRA Contributions

Related Post:  How to Save $1000 Fast

Flexible Expenses:  30% of your income

Finally, leave 30% of your income for flexible expenses.  These are the expenses that “enhance” your lifestyle and may vary from month to month.  Make sure you choose your flexible expenses carefully because the items in this category can really make the most difference in your budget.  This is the category where spending can get out of hand.  Items in this list could include:

  • Groceries
  • Eating Out
  • Gas
  • Shopping
  • Entertainment
  • Hobbies

The nice thing about the 50/20/30 Rule is that you don’t need to have a super high income to make it work.  It’s based on percentages so anyone can use it.  This starter budget can serve as a road map for those of us who are just getting started in the real world.  We can use it to see what is ahead and are free to detour and create our own paths, which is exactly what I did.

My Starter Budget

I decided to take the principles of the 50/20/30 Rule to create my own budget that reflects my goals.  Remember, a budget is only successful if it has a purpose.  Right now, the purpose of my budget is to make me debt-free.  As I mentioned before, I have student loans from undergrad that I need to pay.  Therefore, I will use my 6 month grace period to pay off the interest that my loans have accrued and my budget will reflect this goal.

I will have a 4 category budget:  fixed expenses, flexible expenses, savings, and debt payments.  To create my 4th category for debt payments from the 50/20/30 Rule, I will take 10% of my income from both the fixed and flexible expenses categories.  So I will use 40% of my income for fixed expenses, 20% of my income for flexible expenses, 20% percent of my income for savings, and 20% of my income for debt payments.

Modified 50/20/30 Budget, My Starter Budget

This breakdown is what works for me.  You may have different goals and purposes for your budget so you have to find the right starter budget for you.

I hope this post has helped you think about how to make your budget work for you.  Let me know in the comments if you think you will use the 50/20/30 Rule or if you know of a different budget that works well for newbies like us.

And remember…

Go forth.  Look great.  Be great.


P.S.  I made a customizable budget spreadsheet for you!  It’s in the resource library.  If you are a subscriber, you can access it.

Starter Budget inspired by the 50/20/30 Rule Budget

Also, it would be awesome if you pinned this image!!!

The Starter Budget, Inspired by the 50/20/30 Rule