Review your credit report and begin cleaning up errors.
You can go to AnnualCreditReport.com to get a copy.
Pay off overdue bills, especially those already sent to collections agencies ASAP. Try to pay the overdue bill to the original company NOT to the collection agency, and request the collection be removed from your record.
Pay down any outstanding debt. Consider paying twice a month, before statement closing date and before the due date.
Make sure none of your family member’s accounts appear on your credit report.
Check that accounts that should be closed are showing as closed on your report.
Make sure any negative items that should have already been resolved aren’t still showing.
Make sure no unauthorized credit has been opened.
Start paying bills on time, THIS IS VITAL! Set up autopayments when possible. Another tip is to keep only the money for bills in your checking account, so you can write a check or pay online with a debit card. The rest of your spending should be in cash, so you don’t overspend or use money needed for bills. Seems simple but it’s easy to come up short.
If you have negative comments on your report about late payments, and you have historically been a good customer try to negotiate with the company. Explain if there was an unusual circumstance that caused your late payments and if you have a lengthy history of otherwise good payments they may consider removing the negative comment.
Avoid maxing out credit cards. STOP before you get to 50% of your max limit; it’s ideal to stay below 30%.
Avoid opening a lot of new credit within a short period.
Leave open any unused credit, and don’t reduce your credit limits either. Having older established credit relationships are essential.
Overdue child support, tax liens, and other monetary judgments hurt your score. Resolve them and get them removed if possible.
If you are re-establishing credit or starting new:
Start with a secured or unsecured credit card, even if the interest rate is high. Please read the fine print for these cards and try to get $0 annual fees. The interest rate won’t hurt you if you’re paying off the card each month. You should start to see points adding to your credit score after a few months.
Having someone add you as an authorized user to their credit card with good credit history will be a benefit too. You don’t have to use the card, but the good history of their payments will go on your report.
Pay your bills on time!
To help pay off the outstanding debt you can consider some options:
See about transferring the debt to a lower interest option.
401(k) Plans and other similar retirement plans often (but not always) offer loans against your investment balance and usually for low rates. The loan amount will need to be paid back if you leave that employer. You typically have five years to pay it back, but you could pay it off sooner. The amount of the loan will be borrowed from our investment value so it will not grow with the investments in your plan.
Personal bank loans can now be done online and can offer reasonable rates, at least usually a little better than a credit card depending on your credit score.
Zero percent interest credit cards offer a limited time to transfer an existing balance and get 0% interest. You will pay a transfer fee based on the amount you transfer. Keep the old credit line open, after the transfer. The debt transfer to a lower interest option can save you tons of money in the long-term.
Make sure you monitor your credit every few years. Have you checked your kids’ credit lately? Avoid being surprised, their identity can be stolen too (see our blog post about this).
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