Thursday, September 18, 2014
Improving Your Credit Score ~ Steps and Guidance based on our PersonalExperiences
Do you have a credit score that is less than satisfactory? Do you have financial choices you made when you were young (and maybe not so wise) still haunting your financial freedom? Most of us do or have and let me tell you do not let a low score discourage your family though!! There are so many opportunities out there now that are free and very useful resources guiding you each step of the way as you work to increase your credit score.
My husband and I, like so many others, have been working long and hard to fix ours and there are so many options to help you that I want to share as others have shared with me.
On a side note, back not terribly long ago credit scores were not released to us very easily. You had to jump through hoops it felt like to even know where you stood vaguely. So many things have changed and the opportunity to stay in tune with your score and who is reporting on it is so much more accessible these days as it should have always been! It's important to remember with these changes in rules comes opportunity to regularly review and effect change on your credit history and in your life.
SITES TO HELP YOU IMPROVE YOUR SCORE
1) Credit Karma
is a well known FREE service that allows you to get regular updates on your score and advice as to how to constantly improve it. You can simulate alterations of your current finances to estimate impact on your score long term as well. Great tool!! There are even apps available for your phone that allow you access and updates on the go as well. The site has more detailed information and guidance than the app, but both are excellent and I use this site all of the time.
is the standard once a year free (LEGITIMATE) site that will offer you full detail and accessibility to your credit history on all three credit bureaus once every year. You can download these in PDF form and save for review and records. The site also offers links to easily help you dispute inaccurate information effecting you negatively on your report as well. There are a lot of sites out there that claim to offer this, but this one is legitimate and FREE.
is another credit improvement site that you pay a fee of $24 a month for their service which I'm not to crazy about however I did use it for a few months and gained some good advice and guidance. If you want to spend a little this site is a good one because it updates details every month showing how you are improving your score and what you need to do next to make the largest and most positive impact on your score. Again this site also has a credit score simulator, but this site offers more detailed suggestions which I learned a lot from. I again paid for this service for a few months and learned a lot, but then discontued the service. I don't see the need for a long term investment here as you are looking to learn and it teaches a lot right off the bat. So if you want to spend a little join this site and just download all of the advice and suggestions for future reference then cancel after a couple months of gained knowledge.
NOTES FROM OUR PERSONAL EXPERIENCES
1) Review your score regularly. Not only is this information you need to know, but it also reflects positively on your credit score details to show you review your own information regularly. (Once a year in annualcreditreport.com)
2) Set small, but steady goals.
3) Don't get discouraged. :D
4) Be consistent in your efforts to show positive and regular behavior in your credit details.
We've been working slowly on certain accounts for years. Our big primary accounts were kept in good order (car loans, student loans, and things of that sort that report to the credit bureaus), but there were medical bills and a few of my student loan accounts I just handled very inefficiently in past years and so my history there really hurt me. Therefore those were more a matter of time and effort to call and make them right. I called my student loans and BAM small improvements on my score in 30 days!
The next step we made was applying for a small basic credit card. Now remember cards are dangerous so do not let yourself get sucked in! I have made that mistake and you just have to train yourself to not use that card unless you have to actual money to back the purchase. Now, back to my point, this card wasn't anything awesome. The limit was small, there was an annual small fee, high interest, and minimal perks, but they approved me! Being approved was the first battle won! Then from there we chose to put small gas purchases only on there and to pay it every month to avoid interest and penalties. Two months later and my credit score jumped 14 points just from this type of positive activity and improved credit utilization (those last words are specifically what it said)!!
Moving into another option was debt consolidation... I don't mean paying one of the agencies to help you, I mean (if and this is dependent upon each of your personal situations) if this is an option you may prefer and be able to obtain without a heavy loan or risk then investigate small loans to consolidate some of those problem bills. In our case we had a slew of mismanaged medical bills... There just doesn't seem to be enough money to cover it all, but the key is don't just ignore it... Make an effort, any effort, and many times just the effort no matter how small is welcomed from the billing company and thereby avoids you being sent to collections or reported to the credit bureaus. I was able to get a small loan and consolidate most of the remaining debt regarding my medical bills thereby removing several accounts that were in bad standing on my credit report! Yippee!!!!!!
Tip: when calling medical bills keep in mind they offer settlements. They are taking a cut off these balances they bill you for either when your is insurance company pays them or when they make an agreement with you. REMEMBER they are more flexible than you think. I knew this vaguely, but then a very kind man that worked at a collection agency (a blessing for sharing his knowledge was what he was for my family) shared with me that often the best way to approach companies is to tell them how much you have to offer them. Meaning I have $200 that I have to put towards this bill. Will you allow this to settle the account balance? He said often companies will take .45 cents on the dollar to close these accounts. I dealt with a company that took $600.00 for a balance of over $1600.00. So just be honest and not intimidated by the figures you see on paper and ask. The worse that can be said is you are denied or receive a counter offer which is fine too because it's less than you would have owed before. If you can do it then take the ofer and if you cannot know they will work with you if you are firm and reliable!
I hope this article was encouraging and enlightening enough to help someone out there smile under there's circumstances and also know that there are options and they can improve their finances and credit score. My husband and I were able to improve my credit score by 75 points in six months with the above processes and efforts and I just hope the same for anyone else in this situation!
Do any of you have input or suggestions that have helped you in cases like this??? Please speak up and share and I pray this article and any comments left are a blessing to someone situation!
Smile and know you are not alone! I'll be posting again soon and hope to hear about your experiences and successes!!! :)
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