Nowadays, you need credit for everything! To find an apartment, to rent a car, to open a bank account, even to get a job!! The problem is that some of us have not been properly trained to manage credit so we mess it up at such an early age and spend a very long time trying to get it right. Credit can be a gift or a curse! Assuming it’s now a curse, let’s talk about some ways to get it together.
Step 1: Get Your Credit Report – In order to get where you are going, you have to know where you are. Most states allow you to get a free credit report once a year by going to www.AnnualCreditReport.com. Keep in mind that you can only get your credit report for free, not your score. There are many websites that claim to give you a free credit score, but be careful, because nine times out of 10, they will require you to sign up for some type of program that will cost you something monthly. The best way to find out your score is to visit one of the three major credit bureaus’ websites, which are Experian, Equifax, or Transunion. They usually charge a small fee for one time access.
Step 2 – Review Your Report for Discrepancies – In today’s age of technology, where identity theft happens more often than not, it is imperative that you check your credit report for fraud or discrepancies at least twice a year. Make sure you are not paying for someone else’s bad habits. If you do happen to see something on your credit report that quite doesn’t belong there, then you must notify the proper credit bureaus as soon as possible. By law, they have 30 days from the date they received your dispute to resolve it.
Step 3 – Get Rid of Bad Debt – Mistakes happen, and for the most part, if you have blemishes on your credit report, they can be forgiven as long as you showing good faith to meet your obligations. If you have any cards that are late or in collections, make sure that you rectify those as soon as possible. New creditors will be more understanding if they see that you have made an attempt to right your wrongs.
Step 4 – Be Proactive – If you know you may have issues paying a debt in the near future, make sure you call your creditors first and set up some type of payment arrangement. They are always willing to negotiate debt, because they’d rather get something than nothing. Doing this may stop your late payments from showing up on your credit report… Just don’t take advantage. Also, it is a great idea to start getting rid of the cards that you no longer use, starting with the ones that have the least credit history. Creditors do not want to see too much credit outstanding.
Step 5 – Begin to Build Good Credit – This can be done by showing creditors that you are stable and can pay your bills on time. The way the credit game goes is that creditors give money to people they think don’t need it. With this in mind, it is important to have low usage on your revolving credit accounts. As a simple rule of thumb, you should never go over 30 percent usage which equates to $30 for every $100 ofcredit. Ex. If you have a credit limit of $1000, don’t have more than $300 outstanding.
Following these five steps will put you on the right track to getting your credit in order! It’s never too late to start getting your things together! Enjoy the gift of credit…. Stop making it a nightmare.
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Ash’Cash is a Business Consultant, Motivational Speaker, Financial Expert and the author of Mind Right, Money Right: 10 Laws of Financial Freedom. For more information, please visit his website, www.IamAshCash.com.