Most of our lives in the United States seem to be run by our dependence on our credit scores. Credit scores affect our ability to get a loan for a house or a car or just about anything. They can also affect our ability to rent an apartment or even get a job. It has also been said that insurance companies check our credit score before we get our automobile insurance rates.
So, as you can see, having a good credit score can dramatically improve your situation in life or a bad one can make your life very difficult. But it is not as hard to repair your credit as you might first think. Below are a few steps that will help you get the ball running to better financial stability and an improved credit rating.
- Check Credit Report – The first step to taking control of your credit is to check your credit report. If you go to annualcreditreport.com, you can get a free credit freport from the three main credit bureaus, Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. You can only do this once every 12 months, so when you pull them, be sure to save them or even print them out for your own reference. They will not show your credit score, though, and if you want this information, you will have to pay for it. Check with the bureaus themselves to find out how much they will charge to give you access to your FICO score. Be aware of scam operations offering to show you your free credit score as they will give you a “free trial”, but end up charging you monthly for their services.
- Reduce Amount of Debt you Owe – There are several different ways of reducing the amount of debt you owe. One of the fastest and best ways is to use the term called “snowballing” your debt. This idea is to take your smallest debt or credit card and put extra on it until it’s paid off. You then move up to the next biggest debt and take the money you were putting on your smaller debt, add them together so your payment is larger towards your second debt. Then when that credit card or debt is paid off, you then take the total of the payments you were making on those two cards and add them to the third card.
This is how it looks: you are paying $25 a month on 3 different cards ($100, $200, and $300). You take the lowest card first and increase your monthly payment. So let’s say you pay $50 on your $100 card for 2 months. That is now paid off. You then take that $50 and add it to the $25 payment on your $200 card. This would become a monthly $75 payment and you pay that until the second card is paid off. Then you add that payment of $75 to your third payment equaling $100. This allows you pay off all three cards in a very short time and greatly reduces the interest you are paying.
- Pay bills on time – another way to improve your credit score is to make your payments on time. I have to admit that at times I’m a bit forgetful about what bills are owed and when, so I set alarms on my calendar on my mobile phone. I usually set them a few days before the bills are due so that I can make sure that my payments are made on time. If you are behind on payments, do your best to get current. Getting there and staying there is another really good way to increase your score.
- Low Balances on Cards – Keep your revolving balances on your credit cards low. This shows the credit bureaus that you are able to be fiscally responsible with your debt. It is also wise to carry fewer credit cards. Yet, at the same time, don’t be too quick to close out unused credit cards. When you have credit cards and don’t use them, this shows financial responsibility.
- Keep Credit Applications to a Minimum – Credit bureaus are also interested in how many credit cards you use. If you seem to be looking for credit in many different places, this is a financial red flag.
Using these ideas, you will find your credit score begin to improve within about 3 months. It usually takes about 90 days for the credit bureaus to catch up with what your credit card companies are reporting. When it comes to your credit score, these few practical tips will help you get it well in hand. Until next time Ladies!