CNBC make it 2024-02-25 02:50:51

Money expert: Once you hit this credit score, banks will ‘fall all over themselves’ to work with you

It may be hard to imagine digging yourself out of $100,000 in credit card debt and boosting your credit score by 400 points. But it’s possible—just ask Lynnette Khalfani-Cox.

Khalfani-Cox boosted her credit score from the low 400s to a perfect 850 after spending three years paying down her debt. Now, the New York Times bestselling author teaches others how to do the same through her books, including the newly released “Bounce Back: The Ultimate Guide to Financial Resilience,” and her financial education platform, The Money Coach.

Although her credit score sits at 806 as of the last report date on Jan. 20, she says she still receives the same benefits as when she had a perfect 850.

That’s because Khalfani-Cox’s most recent score still places her in the “exceptional” credit score category. Here are the ranges Experian defines as poor, fair, good, very good and exceptional.

  • Poor: 300 to 579
  • Fair: 580 to 669
  • Good: 670 to 739
  • Very good: 740 to 799
  • Exceptional: 800 to 850

But you don’t necessarily need to be in the 800 range to get the most favorable terms when you’re applying for something like a new credit card or personal loan, says Khalfani-Cox.

Over the past year, her score has fluctuated from 765 in February 2023 to 839 in August of that year to then 806 as of January 2024.

“My 800 or my 850 FICO score is not going to get me any better loan rates or terms than the person who has a 760 or 780 FICO score,” Khalfani-Cox tells CNBC Make It. “Once you’re in the perfect credit scoring range, banks are going to fall all over themselves to do business with you.”

How Khalfani-Cox stays in the ‘perfect’ credit score range

Since your payment history counts for 35% of how your credit score is calculated, Khalfani-Cox is sure to never miss a payment.

“I have a very long established credit history over 25 years,” she says. “I have an excellent payment track record and I never miss any payments.”

Additionally, Khalfani-Cox never uses up her entire credit limit, which helps her keep her credit utilization rate under 10%. Your credit utilization rate is the amount of your available credit you’re using and counts for another 30% of how your credit score is determined.

“So-called FICO high achievers who are in the 760 to 850 range generally have a 10% or less credit utilization rate, and I usually keep my stuff in that zone,” she says.

She also doesn’t apply for new credit cards or loans unless she “truly needs it.”

That’s because when you apply for a new line of credit, lenders perform what’s called a “hard inquiry,” in which they pull your credit report from one of the three main credit bureaus — Experian, Equifax or Transunion — to take a look at your credit history and get an idea of how risky it could be to lend funds to you.

How much a hard inquiry affects your credit score varies, and it only accounts for 10% of how your score is calculated. However, it can temporarily lower your score by a few points, according to FICO’s website.

That matters because a small drop in your credit score can make a big difference when it comes to getting the most favorable terms from lenders.

“If you were in the 760 point range, now you’re a 748 or 750, and now you just blew being able to get the best loan rates and terms on a mortgage or credit card,” Khalfani-Cox says.

On the upside, hard inquiries don’t stay on your credit report forever. Although they can remain on your credit report for two years, only inquiries from the past 12 months are considered when calculating your credit score, per FICO.

Ultimately, Khalfani-Cox credits maintaining her exceptional credit score to making on-time payments, keeping her balances low and not overusing her available credit.

“Just by following these three strategies, it really does help to keep me in that perfect credit scoring range of 760 to 850 points,” she says.

Want to land your dream job in 2024? Take CNBC’s new online course How to Ace Your Job Interview to learn what hiring managers are really looking for, body language techniques, what to say and not to say and the best way to talk about pay. CNBC Make It readers can save 25% with discount code 25OFF.

23-year-old’s dorm room side hustle brings in $124,000 a year: ‘You can start with as little as $5’

This story is part of CNBC Make It’s Six-Figure Side Hustle series, where people with lucrative side hustles break down the routines and habits they’ve used to make money on top of their full-time jobs. Got a story to tell? Let us know! Email us at

Technically, Sophie Riegel didn’t spend a penny starting her side hustle.

She began with items she already had, searching through her closet for old clothing to sell online. After making $200 off her own used clothes, she turned to some of her favorite places to shop: thrift stores.

“I’ve been a thrifter my entire life, because I don’t like spending money,” says Riegel, 23. “I’d much rather spend $5 than $100 on a pair of pants.”

Since April 2020, she’s turned that habit into a lucrative side hustle. Riegel brought in nearly $123,800 in revenue last year reselling items she bought from thrift stores on online marketplaces like eBay, Mercari and Poshmark, according to documents reviewed by CNBC Make It.

She’s made more than $192,000 in net profit over the past four years, because her costs are minimal: Riegel estimates she’s spent just over $50,000 on the thrifted clothing she’s sold. Other expenses include shipping costs and gas money for driving from thrift store to thrift store. Online marketplaces keep between 10% and 20% of her sales.

Much of her business’ growth came from her dorm room at Duke University, where she graduated last year with a degree in psychology. She’s pursuing a full-time career as a professional writer, speaker and life coach —  and expects her side hustle to comprise roughly 50% of her income this year, she says.

“I started buying things for $5 to $10, flipping them for $50 to $100,” says Riegel. “That seemed to work really well. I had maybe 200 or so items in my dorm room my sophomore year, and now I have 1,300 items [in a storage unit].”

Here, Riegel discusses the work she put in to turn her love of thrifting into a six-figure annual business, along with tips for anyone else to follow in her footsteps.

CNBC Make It: You’re already coaching clients to start their own thrifting side hustles. What are some of your best tips for people who want to replicate your success?

Riegel: The biggest thing is you’ve got to have fun with it. If you’re not enjoying it, don’t do it.

Start with what you know the most about. If you know a lot about clothing, start with that. It can be really easy to just buy a lot — that’s the fun part — but it doesn’t sell if you don’t list it. So even if your listing is imperfect, get it up, get it out there, because there’s a market for everything.

Keep learning. If you go in with a mindset of “I already know this stuff, I don’t need any resources,” it’s likely that you won’t do as well as if you went in with the mindset of “This is a great opportunity for me to learn more about myself, about brands, and all of that.”

I followed tons and tons and tons of other resellers on YouTube. I spent hours and hours learning brands, learning how to use all of the platforms. I’ve learned the strategies of each of the stores I go to, and figured out when they put out the new shoes when they do X, Y and Z.

The Goodwills in my area put a new color out every week. So, when I go to those stores, I only look for that color.

How much cash do you need to start a thrifting side hustle?

Factoring in shipping and all of that stuff — obviously, you need to pay for gas — $100 makes sense.

[In terms of the thrifting], you can start with as little as $5. You get one good thing for $5 and you’ve got more money already: $5 turns into $20, turns into $100.

If you start with your own stuff, you need $0.

What are the most important traits someone needs to succeed at this?

You’ve got to be consistent and persistent. Right now, I list 10 to 20 items a day. And because I list every day, things are selling constantly.

You’ve got to be organized. You have to be patient — I’m not very good at that, but I’m working on it.

The biggest thing is: You’ve got to be willing to ask for help when you need it. You don’t have to do this all alone. When I first started, my dad helped me with all of my shipping. He helped me move everything from different storage units. I didn’t have to do it alone because I asked for help.

Do you see yourself expanding your side hustle in the future? What would that look like?

I’m pretty happy with where I am. I do see, in the future, potentially having employees do all of the stuff that I know I don’t want to do — like the shipping, listing and photographing. That would be great. It is a lot of work for one person.

But right now, I wouldn’t change it because I love what I do.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Want to land your dream job in 2024? Take CNBC’s new online course How to Ace Your Job Interview to learn what hiring managers are really looking for, body language techniques, what to say and not to say, and the best way to talk about pay.

23-year-old paid $500/month to live in a ‘dry’ cabin—it had no running water: Take a look inside

The day after AnnMarie Young graduated from the University of Texas at Austin in 2021, she and her best friend moved to Fairbanks, Alaska for the summer.

The 23-year-old artist lived in Alaska for three months before returning to Texas. But Young tells CNBC Make It that the moment she left, she knew she wanted to go back to the Pacific Northwest state.

“Something in my heart just didn’t want to leave Alaska,” she says. “I wanted to prove to myself I could tough it out.”

Young used the money she made from selling her art that summer to buy a van that had already been converted into a tiny home. She packed up, headed toward Alaska, and after a week of driving cross country she arrived.

“I was going slow and taking scenic routes,” she says.

Young spent the summer of 2022 living out of her van, but when winter rolled around, she had a decision to make — either go back home to Texas again or find a different living situation there in Alaska.

The artist eventually found a cabin in Fairbanks through word of mouth, but it did come with a catch. The cabin Young was being offered was a dry one — a residential structure without running water. The property did come with an outhouse.

The owner, Mollie Sipe, a retired educator, 71, was renting it out for $500 a month.

Sipe tells CNBC Make It she bought the cabin in 1988. It is one room about 10 feet x 20 feet with a bedroom nook. It includes a kitchen area with a stove and a microwave and a heater that runs on heating oil, which Sipes always fills up before each new tenant.

Young got to see the cabin from the outside, but never got to tour the inside before deciding to accept the rental. Fortunately, it all worked out just fine. “It’s not the dreamy cabin that you imagine but it is really cute on the inside. It was very cozy and perfect for just me at the time,” Young says.

“I had a whole section to do my art stuff and that was the most important thing to me.”

‘It’s a place for women to take a turn in their lives and jumpstart in Alaska’

Sipe started renting the cabin in the 80s, and her tenants have only ever been to women — a total coincidence but a fact that Sipe loves.

“They always find the next person for me, and it has always been women. That’s sort of the mystique of the ‘Cabin Girls, ’ as I call them. They have been very dependable that way, so I never have to look,” Sipe says.

“It’s a place for women to take a turn in their lives and jumpstart in Alaska,” she says. “It’s just a way of life that you get to find out what you’re made of, what you can do, and how capable you are.”

After rent, Young’s expenses included 25 cents to fill up three five-gallon water jugs, something she drove into town to do every week and a half or so.

Young admits that one of the biggest issues she had living in the dry cabin was access to internet. The cabin is surrounded by tall trees which made it difficult to get reliable cell and internet connection. She even tried using Starlink at one point, but had to cancel due to inconsistent service.

Living in a dry cabin meant Young had no plumbing, laundry, shower, washer, or dryer.

She washed her dishes and brushed her teeth in a five-gallon water jug that drained into a bucket underneath and had to be dumped manually.

“Because I was already living van life, transitioning to a dry cabin was a lot easier. I was already living without things that the dry cabin didn’t have, like a shower or bathroom,” Young says. “It took me a week to get used to it, and then it just became my new normal.”

“I’m not a tough person; I didn’t grow up camping and am not a rugged outdoor person, but if I can do it, I think a lot more people can do it,” she added. “It’s all about setting your mind to something,” she adds.

Young was able to take a proper shower at a neighbor’s house every couple of days, and used baby wipes and other products in the dry cabin in between.

“We had a deal setup that I would come and use the shower when they weren’t home because they wanted someone to use the pipes to make sure they didn’t free,” she says.

And when she needed to use the bathroom, Young would throw on a thick robe and slippers and start walking the path to the outhouse in the back. Young was sure to always keep that path clear of snow.

A typical day in Young’s life when she lived in the dry cabin included training her dog, Moose, driving into town to a coffee shop to use the Wi-Fi and work on her website, and hours spent painting.

While some may think living in a cabin in the middle of the woods sounds isolating, Young says she’s never felt more of a sense of community than when she lived there.

“I had such a good group of people in the area that I felt like I was hanging out with friends every night,” she says. “I loved feeling like I was doing something special and tough and that the whole way of life is normalized in the area.”

“You can do it by yourself but it’s a lot harder, so I loved the community aspect of everybody leaning on each other to live that kind of lifestyle,” she adds.

Young lived in the dry cabin for about eight or nine months before she moved into a one-bedroom apartment with her boyfriend in Anchorage, Alaska. The two split a $1450 a month rent payment and while she loves having the extra space, Young admits she misses life back in the cabin and would do it again in a heartbeat.

“I think that we could do it again. I miss the aspect of living in a cabin,” Young says.

“I feel so connected to Alaska since the first summer I came up. I don’t know if I’ll be here forever, but I know it’s where I want to be right now.”

Want to land your dream job in 2024? Take CNBC’s new online course How to Ace Your Job Interview to learn what hiring managers are really looking for, body language techniques, what to say and not to say, and the best way to talk about pay. CNBC Make It readers can save 25% with discount code 25OFF.

I’ve lived in the Netherlands for 14 years—why we’re always ranked one of the world’s happiest countries

I was born in Poland and grew up in Germany, but my family and I have been living in the Netherlands for the last 14 years.

When I first discovered the concept of “niksen,” or the Dutch art of doing nothing, I was fascinated. I even wrote a book about it. When I applied it to my own life, my perspective about happiness shifted in a significant way.

I believe niksen is one of the reasons why the Dutch are consistently ranked as some of the happiest people in the world. Niksen might seem selfish or boring at first glance, but it’s actually a service to you and your community.

Here’s how it make it work for you:

1. If you’re doing nothing, own it

When someone asks you what you’re doing during your niksen time, simply respond, “Nothing.”

Be unapologetic about taking breaks or holidays. Think of niksen not as a sign of laziness, but as an important life skill that might help you regain some composure, find calm, and prevent burnout.

Tony Crabbe, the author of “Busy,” says that resisting cultural pressures is easier when done with other niksen-minded people.

Or you can do what my mom does and hang a sign on your office door that reads: “I bite.” (She doesn’t bite, but it’s clear that she doesn’t want to be disturbed.)

2. Work and rest according to your natural rhythm

People have different chronotypes, which means they need to sleep and work at different times of the day to achieve maximum productivity. Some of us are at our best in the morning, while others feel the most productive in the afternoon.

“Every one of us should figure out when we’re at our most creative. Most productive. And niksen is part of this,” says Dutch psychoanalyst Manfred Kets de Vries. He suggests drawing a diagram like the one below:

Then look at your activities, tasks, and obligations and decide where they fit on the diagram.

3. Do nothing, together

I always thought of niksen as something you do alone in your home, by yourself. But those sweet nothing moments can become more special when they are shared.

For many parents, the best thing in the world can be reading to their children or playing with them. To me, it’s hugging. When I’m in a great mood, I’ll ask, “Who wants a hug?”

And if I’m lucky, at least one of my three kids will be willing to put their little arms around me and give me a cuddle. Sometimes, I’ll lie down with them on the floor and do nothing but put my arms around them.

When the kids are in bed, my husband and I often watch a TV series together. I’m usually snuggled into my husband because he is soft and warm, and I often think that the series is secondary. I’m simply niksening up against him.

4. Just be normal

In the Netherlands, people tend to steer clear of intense emotional outbursts, or what they consider to be overly dramatic behavior. It’s also generally not acceptable to complain or brag about working all the time. 

This attitude stems from a famous Dutch saying, “doe normal, dat is al gek genoeg,” which means “just be normal, that’s already crazy enough.” 

Meaning, that if you put in too many hours or too much effort into your job, you likely won’t get any accolades. Instead, you might be on the receiving end of some eye-rolls and sighs, while also being told to just be normal, go home, and take some time for yourself.

Olga Mecking is a writer, journalist, and translator based in the Netherlands. She is the author of ”Niksen: Embracing the Dutch Art of Doing Nothing″ and a regular contributor to The New York Times, The Guardian, The BBC, The Atlantic and other publications. Find her on Twitter and Instagram.

Want to land your dream job in 2024? Take CNBC’s new online course How to Ace Your Job Interview to learn what hiring managers are really looking for, body language techniques, what to say and not to say, and the best way to talk about pay. CNBC Make It readers can save 25% with discount code 25OFF.

7 in-demand side hustles you can do from home—some can pay as much as $100 an hour

You don’t need a background in tech to start a lucrative side hustle from home.

There are dozens of in-demand, non-tech side hustles you can do remotely to earn extra cash — some of which can pay as much as $100 an hour.

FlexJobs, one of the most popular platforms for finding remote and hybrid work opportunities, has seen a steady increase in the number of remote, part-time listings for non-tech roles including virtual assistants, accountants and customer service representatives in recent months, FlexJobs lead career expert Toni Frana tells CNBC Make It.

To help people interested in pursuing a side hustle find the best remote opportunities, FlexJobs has identified seven in-demand side hustles that can be done from home, based on listings from more than 58,000 companies on its platform posted between July and December 2023. These jobs have dozens of active listings and offer remote, part-time opportunities. 

Here are seven in-demand side hustles that can be done from home, and how much they pay, according to FlexJobs, with salary estimates from Payscale:

  1. Virtual assistant ($18 per hour)
  2. Bookkeeper ($20 per hour)
  3. Customer service representative ($16 per hour)
  4. Accountant ($23 per hour)
  5. Technical writer ($26 per hour)
  6. Social media specialist ($19 per hour)
  7. Video editor ($22 per hour)

While the total number of hours varies from role to role, most of the jobs on FlexJobs’ list ask for a commitment of 10-25 hours per week.

Some of these side hustles, including video editing, bookkeeping and customer service, don’t require a bachelor’s degree, says Frana. Instead, she adds, hiring managers will often evaluate candidates based on their previous work experience and soft skills. 

“There are core soft skills people look for across all of these roles: an ability to meet deadlines, strong communication skills both in writing and on the phone, being a self-starter, problem-solving and, of course, foundational technology skills,” Frana explains.

Some of these remote side hustles can pay upwards of $100 per hour, depending on your level of skill and the project. Bookkeepers on Upwork, for example, can charge as much as $175 an hour or, for some projects, $300 an hour. 

For virtual assisting roles that require more specialized skills — whether it’s building email campaigns or creating WordPress sites — “you’re often talking at least $100 [per hour] and up,” Angelique Rewers, founder of the consulting firm BoldHaus, previously told CNBC Make It.

The most salient benefit of pursuing one of these remote side hustles, says Frana, is the flexibility. You can choose to go freelance and set your own hours, or, if you apply to a part-time listing, Frana says many employers will let you adjust your schedule as needed.

Want to land your dream job in 2024? Take CNBC’s new online course How to Ace Your Job Interview to learn what hiring managers are really looking for, body language techniques, what to say and not to say, and the best way to talk about pay. CNBC Make It readers can save 25% with discount code 25OFF.