Fiscal Fitness Part I – Getting Your Credit In Shape

The list of things we “should” do is always growing, isn’t it? You should get more sleep, drink more water, and work out more. You should give up soda, call your mom more often, and volunteer for a charity. Our already over-busy lives are full of good intentions that never get done, but fiscal fitness is something we should all tackle. Getting a handle on your finances can have a big affect on many other areas of your life including your relationships, health, and work (just to name a few). Though the challenge of getting fiscally fit might seem daunting when you first start, it’s really not that difficult if you break it down into smaller pieces.

 1) Evaluating your credit – Identifying your weaknesses

The first step in getting financially fit is assessing your current situation. If you’ve had bad financial habits, this is the time to uncover the damage and deal with it.

  • Contact all of the major credit reporting agencies for a copy of your credit report.
  • Carefully review each report for accuracy.
  • If there is any incorrect information on the report, there are ways to correct this information.  For more details, go to Checking Your Credit Report.

 2) Building your credit – Strength training

Once you have a sense of where you stand and have cleaned up any incorrect credit history information, you can look at ways to strengthen your credit. As with any strength training program, the best approach is to start small and work your way up.

  • First, work with the current credit accounts you have. An effective strategy for building your credit is to manage your current credit accounts well by doing things like paying more than the minimum amount due and paying on time. When you are consistently handling your accounts this way, it shows responsible credit usage, and current and new lenders may be inclined to extend more credit. At the same time, you may improve your credit score.
  • Pay all your bills on time.  Some bills like rent, utilities, cable, internet and phone may not report to the credit bureaus unless you become delinquent.  If you don’t pay these bills by their due date, they may be sent to a collections agency and may also be reported to the credit bureau as a collection account.  Collections, judgments, garnishments, or some other trade line on your credit report would have a negative impact on your overall credit score.

 

Look for our next installment in on this topic in the coming months.

 

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