Your Credit report is a very important part of your financial life in the USA. I have written about this here. One of the services I recommended there is CreditKarma.com. It is a free service that lets you monitor your credit report every week.
Here’s how to use credit Karma to build and monitor your credit report:
Sign up at CreditKarma.com
It’s easy to sign up at CreditKarma. You just need your email address and create a password to use. You will also need to provide your Social Security Number because that is the information they need to start building your credit reports and send it to you. The awesome thing is that this service is free!
If you decide to sign up with any of their recommended credit cards or personal loan providers, then they make some commission from your business.
America runs on credit. Most people use credit cards to buy the things they need and want. To apply for a credit card, a car loan, or any type of loan, for that matter, you will need a good credit score. The credit system in the USA is a well-developed, complex system.
Prior to moving to the USA, I had two credit cards with a combined credit limit of PhP 35,000. I don’t think there is a similar system of credit reporting in the Philippines.
Quick Disclaimer: The content of this post and this website is NOT financial advice but only provided for informational and educational purposes. Please do your due diligence in all matters related to your finances.
What is a credit score?
A credit score is an index, a three-digit number that potentially represents your ability to repay debts. Banks and other lenders consult your credit score to make a decision if they will let you open a credit card or a loan.
A lower credit score means that you are less likely to be able to pay debts. A higher credit score means that you are good at managing your credit and that you are a trustworthy borrower.
Three main credit bureaus in the US create credit reports: Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax. They use different systems of creating your credit report but it is usually based on several factors such as the number of accounts you have open, timely payments, and a few others.
Public transportation is not very good in the United States. Only the big cities have excellent train and bus systems. In most cities, like Nashville where we live, you need a car to move around.
Here’s a quick guide to buy a car if you have just arrived in the USA.
Borrow or Rent a Car before you arrive.
If you have friends or relatives, borrow a car from them for 5-10 days right after your arrival. If you don’t have any friends or relatives, you can rent a car through RentalCars.com, Expedia.com, or Priceline.com
When we first arrived in August 2015, I rented a car for 5 days. That time frame was enough for me. It meant that I had to visit several dealerships and test drive some cars over this period. But it worked out and before I returned the car, I bought a 2012 Kia Forte.
When you work in the USA, you will earn dollars. But you will also spend those dollars for your needs and expenses. Before you move, it helps to research and plan for how much you’re going to spend monthly in the USA.
I looked at several websites and read some blogs about monthly expenses in the USA. I found some resources that can help you calculate your monthly expenses.
Monthly Expense Calculator
I found the budget calculator provided by EPI to be helpful in my planning. If you already know where you will rent an apartment or house, enter the zip code, choose the city or locality, and it will generate a list of expenses: http://www.epi.org/resources/budget/
When we first came to the United States in August 2015, it was so tough to spend money on almost everything. Why? Because we often convert US Dollars into Philippine Pesos.
For example, a bottle of soda costs $2. If you convert that to Peso, that is roughly equal to PhP 100. That is expensive for us in the Philippines. And if we kept thinking this way, we would not have been able to drink soda or even eat at a nice restaurant.
Even when we went shopping for clothes or anything in particular, once we started converting to Pesos, it becomes so difficult to spend money. A pair of jeans here costs between $20 to $50. Again, if you convert that to pesos, it’s between P1,000 to P2,500.