A High Credit Score Can Help When Financing Outdoor Power Equipment
By David Adams, Retail Finance Manager, The Toro Company
You’ve heard those obnoxious jingles on television – ones that relate bad credit scores to working in seafood restaurants or driving beat-up cars. So how do you keep that credit score high in order to make use of financing on the mower of your dreams?!
The first step may be understanding what a credit (FICO) score actually calculates. Simply put, a credit score is the numerical representation of your credit worthiness based on your history of using credit. The FICO range is between 300 and 850, with the higher score being better.
Calculating exact scores is a trade secret, but it can be broken down into the following categories:
- Payment History (35%) – Do you pay your bills on time?
- Credit Utilization (30%) – What’s your ratio of current revolving credit debt to available revolving credit?
- Length of Credit History (15%) – How long have you managed credit?
- Types of Credit Used (10%) – What’s your mix of revolving, installment, or other credit?
- Recent Credit Searches (10%) – Have you recently been applying for, or opened, new lines of credit?
Keeping scores high can be as easy as paying bills on time. If you’ve made late payments in the past, changing this behavior going forward is the quickest way to raise your score.
Closing any unused credit lines, like credit cards, won’t improve your score and will likely hurt it. You want to have a low ratio of debt to available credit. Closing down lines of credit reduces your available credit, which increases your debt ratio.
For example, if you have $3,000 of debt on Credit Card A with a total credit line of $5,000 and no debt on Credit Card B with a credit line of $5,000, your total credit available is $10,000 with a debt of $3,000 (30 percent debt ratio). If you were to close that unused Credit Card B, your total available credit would drop to $5,000. With your outstanding debt still at $3,000, your debt ratio has now doubled to 60 percent, which lowers your score.
The bottom line is your score plays a big role in your chances of being approved, not just for credit, but for the best available rates and terms. Scores over 700 are generally considered good and will likely get you approved. The best available terms – like zero percent interest or no payment financing promotions – usually go to those with higher scores. A lower score could land you with interest rates in the teens or not qualify you at all.
By working on paying bills on time and keeping a low debt ratio, your FICO scores will start to rise. But scores aren’t the only thing lenders look at. They will look at how stable your life appears to be, too. Things like the length of time at a job or living at an address can also play an important role in the decision.
So start living smartly and establish a stable playing field — and maybe those nagging TV jingles will leave your head for good!
Yes, containers full of flowers are ubiquitous in the garden centers, but how about creating your own unique horticultural creation? Get creative, get going, and get a container to express your garden impulses. But before you start, container gardening has a few essential rules that can make or break your potential display.
Good drainage is the most important element. Make sure your container has at least one drainage hole and add a layer of small rocks to the bottom to prevent the hole from becoming blocked. Not many plants like to sit in soggy soil any more than you would!
Other elements to insure success include:
A light mixture of good potting soil, peat moss and compost or a pre-packaged potting mix will work well. Mix in a little slow release fertilizer if your potting mix does not already contain some. Use fresh soil each year. Last year’s soil can be dumped in the garden.
Clay or pottery work well for most situations and come in every size possible. Metal pots are attractive but can absorb excessive heat, so use a plastic liner inside a metal pot. Plastic/fiberglass is attractive, lightweight and holds up well. Cement will work but it’s heavy -DUH! Ceramic is colorful but can be expensive. If the budget will allow, go for it. Wood looks great and weathers nicely but will eventually rot. All will work – use your imagination. I’ve even seen an old boot delightfully planted with daisies and ivy. In any case remember: DRAINAGE!
Where you place your container will determine what plants will thrive. Hot, sunny locations will require more frequent watering but will nicely house the brightly colored annuals and perhaps some ornamental grass for added interest. Shade offers opportunities for the endless variety of shade-loving annuals and perennials. And for the in between – anything goes, try it. Attractive containers look great in those locations where there is no soil – decks, patios, stairs, porches, docks, balconies, hanging on a wall, window boxes, etc. But remember DRAINAGE!
Heavy shade locations will accommodate hostas, impatients, any variety of shade- loving annuals and of course, there is the mixed light location, which can work for most anything. A plant is like a kid, if it doesn’t like the location – it will let you know. Variety is what pumps up creativity. Try trailing vines with tall grasses, or perennial plants, which can be transplanted to the garden for the winter. Vegetables: Tomatoes, peppers, herbs – mint, basil, rosemary, etc. How about personal- size watermelons draping gently over the sides of large containers? Sweet potato vine adds texture, color and interest as it spills down the sides of large containers, but don’t try to reap the harvest…
One other note, how about some accessories: Consider a house to invite a bird, pinwheels to deter hungry critters, an old picture frame with a mirror for curious lookers. Have fun!!! Did I mention DRAINAGE?
Article by Ellen Watson – Hennepin County Master Gardener, University of Minnesota Extension Office
Pictures by Mary Meyer – Extension Horticulturist, University of Minnesota.
OK, I’ll admit it. I’m a little obsessed with drip irrigation. For me it’s a huge time saver. I don’t have to spend time dragging the hose around, setting up sprinklers or carrying a watering can. Best of all, drip irrigation is a better, more efficient way to use water in the garden. My friend Laura, who is known as the “Drip Diva” at Toro tells me drip irrigation can be up to 90% more efficient than other watering methods. That’s because it delivers the water right to the root of the plant – exactly where the plant needs it, without any overspray and less evaporation.
I’ve got drip installed in just about every garden space in my yard, from my second story window boxes to my vegetable garden and each and every container. Including this crazy stacked container tower.
Installing drip in this container took a lot less than 29-minutes. Pick up a Toro Blue Strip Drip Starter Kit at your local home center or at Shoptoro.com. It’s cheap, only around $10! If your shopping at a home center be sure to look in the plumbing department – that’s where they hide the irrigation
First hook the kit to your hose. Run enough tubing to get to the area you’d like to water. Use the connectors and emitters to bring the water right to the plant. Turn on the water and ta-da, no more sprinkling cans!
Here’s a little extra tip. While you’re at the home center grab a hose end timer. When we’re at the cabin for long weekends, this little gadget waters my gardens and containers for me.