It's Never Too Late; Fix Your Credit Now!


     

      So, maybe you’re feeling down in the dumps because you just got turned down for that loan you applied for. Something about you having bad credit. Or, you’ve given up on your dream of buying a house because your credit score is low. Don’t lose hope! You can change those No’s into Yes’s; and your doubt into confidence. 


In today’s post, as promised, I will explore the steps you can take to help improve or ‘fix’ your credit score. I know it may seem like a daunting task but you can fix your credit and you don’t necessarily need a service to help you do it. All you need is a little focus and determination. However, if you think it may be too stressful for you or you simply don’t have the time, I will also provide some resources to help you find services that will help you repair your credit for you.


Note: A lot of topics brought up in this post relate back to my previous post ‘Dude, What’s a Credit Score?’ So you may want to check out that post first. 


Now, let’s get to it!




Steps to Take to ‘Fix’ Your Credit


    Some people look at trying to fix their credit as if someone just asked them to crack the DaVinci code. Trust me, it is not complicated. It just involves a little due diligence, change in behavior, and most importantly, consistency.  Consistency is key! Below, I’ve laid out steps you need to take if you are ready to improve your score.


  • Check Your Credit Report!: You don’t know what you don’t know. So, first thing’s first – get your credit report and see what’s on there. In my last post, I listed a few ways you can access your credit report but I’ll reiterate one here for convenience. You are entitled to a free copy of your credit report from Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion every year. You can request your report by going to Annual Credit Report.com


  • Dispute Discrepancies: After reviewing your report did you find errors? Did something not look right? Is your name spelled wrong? Is there an address listed for a place you have never lived? Do you see accounts that you didn’t open? Don’t shrug it off. Dispute discrepancies! According to a study conducted by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), one in four consumers identified errors on their credit reports that might affect their credit scores... that’s pretty high. Based on this study, if you and three of your friends are hanging out, statistically, one of you will have a discrepancy on your credit report which has the potential of being very costly. Don’t let this be you. Check your credit report. Here’s a good article walking you through the process of how to dispute a credit report error.


  • Improve Your Payment History: As I stated in my last post, payment history is one of the most influential factors of a credit score. Therefore improving your payment history is critical! There are a couple of ways to do this.

    • Automate your payments. This way you know for sure you will always pay on-time.

    • If automating payments makes you a bit uneasy (that’s okay I use to feel this way too), then set yourself reminders a few days before the bill is due or better yet, set a reminder on payday so you know for a fact you have the money.


  • Focus on Decreasing Debt: Remember credit utilization? Yes, it matters a lot. In case you missed it in last week’s post, credit utilization is the amount of credit you’ve used divided by the amount of credit you have available. The easiest way to lower your credit utilization is by decreasing your debt! So, work on paying down your balances. You can do this by adding a little more money towards your bill, making extra payments (You can make more than one payment a month but usually no more than 6. I tried and Wells Fargo basically told me No! lol), and (oh yea) changing your spending habits!


  • Change Your Spending Habits: It’s going to be really hard to decrease your debt if you keep racking-up new charges. That’s why you have to change how you spend your money. This is easy for some, yet it can be rather difficult for others. But there are things you can do to help. For instance, I set-up a notification to be emailed every time my credit card is used. Now, I did this initially to help alert me to potential identity theft or fraud (yes, I have been a victim of identity theft) but I have found it useful in alerting me on my spending habits. You can also place limits on how much you want to spend in a day. I’ll do a more thorough post on things you can do to help change your spending habits.


  • Hold-off on Applying For New Credit: While you are working on improving your credit score, I would suggest you hold-off on applying for new credit. Too many credit inquiries can have a negative impact on your score. If lenders/creditors see that you have multiple new credit inquiries they may perceive this as a potential for risky behavior. 




Services That Can Help You Improve Your Credit Score


    If you feel your debt is overwhelming or you’re still hesitant about whether or not you are able to fix your credit on your own, there are services out there willing to help you, generally for a fee.


    If you’re looking for a credit counseling company, I would suggest starting with the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC). It is the largest and longest-serving nonprofit financial counseling organization in the U.S. According to its website, NFCC will provide you with a complete overview and understanding of what’s on your credit report, and give you feedback and guidance on ways to improve your credit worthiness. 


    Investopedia recently wrote an article detailing the 6 Best Credit Repair Companies and the pros and cons of each. You can also look into local companies in your area that provide credit repair services (it may offer a more personal touch). However, be mindful that the credit repair industry has its share of scammers so, make sure you do your research! Investigate a potential provider’s company history, look for reviews from past customers, make sure you understand their fees and ensure that their services serve your needs.

Comments

  1. This was very helpful seeing as tbough I am in the process of fixing my credit! I have disputed a few charges and they were removed! (Break into happy dance!) I have also found out that depending on the type of credit check and the window of time, you can do multiple credit inquiries for cars or credit cards and it on count as one inquiry. But again that depends on which creditor is used and the window of time. Thanks again! These posts are SUPER helpful! ��

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    Replies
    1. Woohoo! Congrats Britt!

      So glad that you found this post to be useful and thanks for sharing the information about the potential of being able to do multiple credit inquires for certain things and having it only count as one. I appreciate the input, and I'm sure others do too.

      Good Luck on your current journey repairing your credit! You got this. :-)

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  2. Really great post. It was very helpful to know some of the things that I can start doing to repair my credit. I do get a little hesitant about automated payments but they are helpful and it makes sure you're not late on any of your bills. I never thought about understanding what's actually on my credit report. I normally just look at the number and if its good or bad. But I might have to look into knowing more about now.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for the comment! I would definitely say do it. You won't know what's on there until you do!

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  3. Thanks for pointing to additional services! It is so important to work with reputable organizations or else you can find yourself in an even deeper hole than the one you started in. I am so sorry to hear that you were a victim of identity theft. I know a surprising number of people this has happened to, including those who had their credit stolen by family members!
    It would be great to see more about how to change spending habits/ dealt with the aftermath of that experience. Love your posts!

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Kat! Yes, identify theft is very prominent and that was actually my second time have to deal with it. I do plan to dedicate a post to this issue by detailing my our experiences and what I did to try to protect myself from being a target again.

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