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Having A Baby Can Ruin Your Credit Score: Here’s How

baby holding moneyCan you believe that having a baby can ruin your credit score? It seems unlikely right? How can your bundle of joy ruin anything in your life?

It is difficult to blame babies when it comes to your finances but if you think about, there is some truth to the statement. Having a baby changes a lot about your life. As unfortunate as it may sound, your baby will ruin your sleep. They will ruin your social life. They will ruin even your moment of intimacy with your spouse. In fact, they can ruin every waking moment of your life. Everything changes once the little one is brought home from the hospital.

Of course, we do not mind all the things that babies ruin. We love them that much! But even if that is true, we can take control of certain things that they are bound to change.

Take for instance our finances. This is a major concern for a lot of people – starting with the hospital bills. WomensHealthMag.com compiled accounts from several women about their experience after giving birth. As they struggled with the coming of a new baby, they had to deal with the medical bills that started to pour in shortly after. If you look at the real stories provided, you will see how even those with health insurance are forced to pay huge sums after giving birth. It is surprising to see that those with similar procedures done had to deal with different costs. These differences were sometimes caused by varying health practitioners and insurance coverages.

If you look at the article, you will realize that having a baby can be very expensive. Take note that this is just the beginning. You still have a lot of expenses before you. From the baby equipment, clothing, vaccinations, check-ups, and the toys – all of these expenses can add up. If you factor in the child-care costs, you will feel a bit overwhelmed with the financial burden of raising a child.

It is quite a lot to take in – that is true. But even after all of these changes and responsibilities, you are probably still wondering – how does your credit score fit into all of these?

Different ways that your credit can be ruined after you have a baby

Believe it or not, your credit score is in danger after you have a baby. While your little one is not directly to blame, the changes in your situation can lead to certain mistakes that can cost you a good credit score.

Here are some of the things that you need to look out for because they can increase the chances of you getting a bad credit record.

Setting unrealistic baby costs

It is understandable that you have no idea how much your baby costs would take. However, it is your responsibility to find out. If you fail to consider the amount that baby expenses would cost, you might find yourself using your credit card a lot and failing to pay it off in time. Set realistic baby costs and include it in your budget so you can allot funds for it. This is how you avoid using your credit card on these expenses. According to BabyCenter.com, among the expenses that you need to consider includes the following:

  • Formula (up to $100 per month). You can save a lot by breastfeeding as long as you can.
  • Diaper (up to $85 per month). You can save by using cloth diapers instead. It is messier but a lot cheaper. Or you can buy diapers in bulk.
  • Childcare (up to $1,000 per month). This will depend on what you will choose. Babysitters cost less but is not as reliable as daycare centres – which will cost up to $1,000 a month. It is difficult to save on this especially if you really need to work. If you live near a relative, it may be possible to ask them to look after your child.
  • Baby gear (varies). You can save by opting for second hand gear – as long as these are not broken and you clean them very well.
  • Clothes (up to $50 per month). This is another purchase that you need to buy second hand. Babies grow out of their clothes so fast that buying them new will waste your money.
  • Food (up to $100 per month). This is an expense that you have to deal with after a few months. To save, you may want to make your own baby food. That will be cheaper.
  • Toys, books and DVDS (up to $40 per month). This can also be bought second hand. As long as it is not broken, clean and safe to use – buy them used.

Failing to pay bills on time.

Another way that your baby can make you ruin your credit score is by keeping you too busy! This is expected because babies do need a lot of care and attention – especially during the first year. Your lack of sleep, feeding, bathing and other baby needs that has to be met every now and then will really take its toll on you. This will make you forget a couple of things – including bills payments. When you forget to pay the bills, your credit score will suffer in return. Set up reminders to make sure this will not happen.

Being overcome by medical bills.

As mentioned earlier, your hospital bills will be a major concern months after you gave birth. This can be overwhelming at times. Although recent developments made medical bills less of a problem, it is not something that you should put in stride. With a few tips, you can probably keep your hospital bills from becoming too much of a burden. For instance, you need to double check with your insurance company the details of your coverage. You should also double check what is written on your bill. According to the Women’s Health article, 30% to 40% of medical bills usually contain errors. So take a look at yours. Do not be afraid to ask questions if there are things that you need to clarify. Even if they insist and you believe that there are entries that should not be there – dispute your bill. Do not pay for something that was not given to you.

Eating out all the time.

It is a given that expenses usually bloat when a baby gets in the picture. But some of the expenses does not have to happen. One of the bloated expenses involve food because new parents usually develop a habit of eating fast-food instead of cooking at home. There are two reasons why you need to stop this habit. First is the cost. It is more expensive. The second reason is it is unhealthy. Meals cooked from scratch at home will always be the better option. But we all know that the baby usually takes most of your time – that means you cannot cook as much as you used to. This bloated expense could wreak havoc in your finances that could end up compromising your credit score too. This does not have to be a problem if you implement some time management skills. There is this show – Rachael Ray’s Week In A Day, that teaches you how to make meals for the whole week in just one day. When your spouse or partner is at home, you can allocate this time to make your meals for the rest of the week and then store it in the freezer. It just takes a bit of time management for this to happen.

How to keep your child-related costs from destroying your finances

Raising a child is a lot of hard work and it is expensive but the rewards that it will bring to your life is so great that you wouldn’t really mind. However, that does not mean you should let it turn for the worse. You need to learn how to disaster proof your personal finances so you can build a better future for your kids.

This is the reason why couples are warned against being unprepared for parenthood. You may feel like you are physically and emotionally ready for a child. However, if you are not prepared for it financially, then you might end up ruining what you have built so far.

According to the USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion (CNPP), a couple is expected to spend a quarter of a million to raise a child – at least until they reach the age of 18. What is surprising is that this amount does not even include college expenses. An infographic published on USDA.gov revealed that the $245,340 worth of expenses are divided into the following:

  • 30% housing
  • 18% child care and education (excluding college)
  • 16% food
  • 14% transportation
  • 8% health
  • 6% clothing
  • 8% miscellaneous

With college costs averaging at $18,390 (public) and $40,920 (private), you need to be prepared to spend up to $300,000 for each child.

Obviously, this is a very big amount. You don’t have to save up for it before you have a baby. But it is evident that you need to implement some serious financial management skills to keep your child from ruining your finances and in effect, your credit score. Here are some tips that you need to implement:

  • Follow a budget plan. This will help you keep your expenses from being more than your income.
  • Setup saving goals. These goals should be for both short term and long term. You need to think about what you child will need in 5, 10 or 15 years. Anticipate what expenses you will have and if possible, start saving up for them.
  • Invest for your children. This is obviously referring to their college education plans. When you start early, you do not have to save too much for them.
  • Build up your emergency fund. If you think that you can forego a medical treatment because you do not have the money, this might be a difficult option if it is your kid who is sick. Eliminate the possible instances that you will borrow money. Save for emergencies so your kids will not have to suffer.
  • Get a life insurance. This is very important. Life is fleeting. One moment you are here enjoying your baby and the next, life plays a cruel joke on your family. Make sure that any unexpected passing will not leave the whole family wanting. Insure yourself so your kids will be financially taken care of.

All of these will help you overcome a lot of difficulties while you are raising your child. Of course, practicing the right financial habits will not only do your personal finances some good. It will also allow you to set a good example for your children.

4 Things You Must Know Before Co-Signing Loans

Loan and related textsCo-signing loans will always be a dangerous transaction. You do not really gain anything and you are setting yourself up to lose a lot. It is actually one of the mistakes that may cost you a good credit history. The idea is, you are acting as a guarantor for someone because the lender deems them unworthy to borrow on their own. If the lender does not trust them with borrowed money, they will be given the option to find someone that can be trusted. Not only that, this cosigner should be willing to take on the burden in case the primary borrower proves to be a bad credit holder.

What makes co-signing loans even more dangerous is the non-financial damages that it can cost you. It is bad enough that you are left to pay the debt even if you did not benefit from the money. You also have to live with the ruined relationship between you and the primary borrower. Whether that is a friend or a relative, you cannot treat each other the same way if this debt is hanging over your heads.

You may argue that you know the person very well and that you trust them enough to put your financial reputation on the line. Even if you owe that person a debt of gratitude, you should still think twice about making this plunge with them. The statistics are not really favorable when it comes to cosigners.

According to an article published on FiveCentNickel.com, 75% of defaulted co-signed loans are paid by the co-signer – not the primary borrower. If you really value your relationship with the person asking for help, you need to avoid signing a loan for them. The chances of you being ruined is too great for you to risk it.

Make sure you know these 4 before you co-sign a loan

If you ask experts, most of them will frown at the idea of co-signing loans. In fact, an article from USNews.com simply states that when you are asked to act as a guarantor, don’t do it. There are just so many things that can go wrong and can be compromised.

But just in case you find it in your heart that you want to help, you should not plunge immediately to sign the loan. There are 4 important things that you need to know before you proceed.

The risk you will take.

Start by enumerating the risk that you are taking. First of all, you are equally responsible for that loan. In the event the primary borrower cannot pay off the loan (whether intentionally or because of unforeseen circumstances), you need to pay them off yourself. There are also lenders that will not notify you if the primary borrower failed to meet their payments. You will only know about it when it is too late. The loan is already in default and your credit score is already suffering from it. Make sure that you are aware of all these consequences and the risks that you will be taking on.

The payment terms.

Another thing that you need to know before you decide on co-signing loans will involve the payment terms. Make sure you sit down and discuss the terms of the loan. Ensure that the primary borrower has a payment plan in place and they have the resources that will allow them to repay what they are borrowing. If they cannot explain to you how they plan to pay the loan, do not proceed. Not only that, you have to ask them to put everything in writing. Document your agreement so it is clear that they will pay the loan and it will be done in such a way that you have both discussed.

The options to protect your finances.

The next must-know involves your protection. Discuss with the primary borrower your plans to protect your interests in co-signing the loan. For instance, if they will borrow a big amount, get a hold of a collateral that can cover the payment of that loan. Sign an agreement that will give you the authority to sell that collateral in the event that the primary borrower is unable to pay back the loan. If you will co-sign a business loan, ask them to give you shares of the company – or to make you a co-owner until they have paid back the loan.

The ways you can get out of the co-signed loan.

The last thing that you should find out is how you can get out of your co-signed loan. This actually depends on the type of loan that you borrowed and who you borrowed it from. One of the popular methods to remove yourself from a co-signed loan is by refinancing the loan. Once the primary borrower is able to build up their credit score that will allow them to borrow on their own, they should refinance it to change the accountability for the borrowed money.

Take note of these 4 and make sure you know about them before you agree to co-signing loans for anyone. If you do not have these information, then just say no. Sometimes, saying no can save you from a financial crisis. Think about that before you try and help anyone financially.

When it is okay to co-sign loans and when it is not

While the general rule is to say no when someone asks you to co-sign a loan for them, there are times when you can actually say yes. This is still a case to case basis of course. Here are the situations wherein it is okay or not okay to say yes to become a guarantor for someone.

Co-signing loans are okay:

  • If it will help your child get a student loan. We want what is best for our children. If that means helping them get the finances to help them study, then that is what we should do. According to the CFPB or Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, 90% of private student loans in 2011 were co-signed. The data was published through ConsumerFinance.gov and revealed that a lot of these co-signers are complaining that it is hard to get out of their co-signed loan. So in case you will push through with this, make sure that it is clear with your child that they should pay off the loan themselves. Guide them so they will practice smart spending habits.
  • If it will help someone you are financially responsible for build their credit record. Ideally, this is only applicable to your children. After all, you are financially responsible for them. Helping them build a good credit record is something that you can do. At least, you can help them borrow a small amount and guide them in paying it off properly.
  • If it will help someone with a bad credit record but has a collateral they are not willing to give to a bank. If the person you will help has a collateral that can help cover the loan you are co-signing for, then it may be okay to help them out. Of course, you need to ensure that you will have the authority to sell that collateral to help pay for the debt in case the primary borrower bails out on the loan. Make everything legal.

Co-signing loans are not okay:

  • If it is for someone who has an existing bad credit report. This is true even if it is for someone very close to you like a friend or a relative. Of course, this depends on the reason why the borrower has a bad credit report. If it is because of their financial habits, then you should never agree to co-sign on a loan with them. They are high risk borrowers – do not risk your financial position for them. But if they have a bad credit score because of identity theft, then you may reconsider.
  • If it involves a big amount or a high interest loan. If you know that you cannot save afford to pay for it yourself, then do not say yes to co-signing loans. Unless you are sure that you can pay it off in case the borrower cannot, then you need to just say no.

While there are smart ways to co-sign a loan, you need to consider other options to help out. If you can guide them to build their credit report in the first place, you probably do not have to co-sign for them. Think about these options first.

Want To Improve Your Credit Score? Here’s How

man jumping with a chart behind himDo you ever wish there was an Undo button in life? We certainly do. In fact, there’s some whole years in our lives we wish we could undo. But that’s another story for another time.

The question here is what could you do or undo if you have a less than stellar credit score? The good news is that you could raise your score fairly quickly and reasonably and without financial risk. And it won’t take you years. The following tips are things that you could do to increase your score in around 30 to 60 days.

As Mark Twain once put it the important thing is to get started. And the secret to getting started is to break up big, complex, tasks into small, manageable ones and then start on the first one. So having said that, what’s the first small one that could get you started?

Get your credit reports and check for errors

A study released two years ago by the Federal Trade Commission reported that roughly 20% of us have errors in our credit reports. You need to get your reports from the three credit reporting bureaus – Experian, TransUnion and Equifax – and then go over them with a fine-tooth comb. Are there purchases you don’t remember having made? Are there companies listed you don’t believe you ever did business with? How about that account that was written off? Was that even your account? If you find errors like this you need to dispute them. The way you do this is by writing a letter to the appropriate credit bureau with whatever documentation you have to back up your claim. The credit bureau will contact the institution(s) that provided the information and ask it to verify it. In the event the company can’t verify it or doesn’t respond within 30 days, the credit bureau must remove the item from your credit report. If you find several errors and get them removed this should improve your credit score significantly.

Write the credit bureau

If there is a company that incorrectly reported you had made a late payment you need to contact it and ask that it remove the information. In fact, if the late payment was incorrectly reported or you simply forgot to pay a bill when you’re usually 100% on time, you should be able to negotiate to get the company to remove the late payment from your credit reports.

Work on your debt-to-credit ratio

A full 30% of your credit score is based on your credit utilization or debt-to-credit ratio. This is calculated by dividing the amount of credit you have available into the amount you’ve used. As an example of this, suppose you have $10,000 in available credit and have used only $2000 of it. This would yield a debt-to-credit ratio of 20%, which would be quite good. Conversely if you had used up $5000 of that $10,000 your debt-to-credit ratio would be 50%, which would definitely be having a negative effect on your credit score. You need to sit down and calculate your debt to-credit ratio. If it’s about 35% or more there are two ways to quickly improve it. The first is to pay off some of your debts and the second is to get more credit. If paying off some of your debts isn’t doable you might be able to get an increase in the limit on one of your credit cards or open a new one to improve your credit-to-debt ratio. This can be a bit risky if you start using that card so the best thing to do is put it away in a drawer somewhere and forget you have it.

Multiple credit cards in one handDon’t apply for multiple types of credit in a short amount of time

Whenever you apply for any type of credit, whether it’s a credit card, an auto loan or mortgage you’ll face a credit inquiry. Too many of these inquiries in a short amount of time and the credit bureaus may ding your credit score. Any time you apply for a new card or an increase in the limit on one of your existing cards this will result in what’s called a “credit pull” and may decrease your credit score. However, it is good to have multiple forms of credit on your credit reports, such as a credit card, an auto loan and a revolving line of credit, as this shows potential lenders you can successfully handle different types of credit simultaneously. Plus, this accounts for 10% of your credit score.

Settle any delinquencies and then get proactive

Did you know that the bank might report your payment as delinquent even if it’s fewer than 30 days late? Of course, this varies from credit card issuer to credit card issuer and will also depend on your borrowing behavior. Some issuers will hold off on reporting an account as delinquent until it’s 60 days late. In this case, being 30 days late will have no effect on your credit score since your credit report will show no late payment. If you do find delinquencies in your credit reports it’s important to get them settled. This means contacting the creditor or creditors to discuss what you would need to do to eliminate them.

Once you’ve settled any delinquencies get proactive by setting up automatic payments. You may be able to do this through your bank. If not, almost all lenders have ways for you to pay them automatically. This avoids the possibility of accidentally missing payments and removes the brain damage of having to remember to make multiple payments on different days of the month.

Build lifelong habits

Probably the biggest secret to getting and keeping a good credit score is to treat it as a sort of game. It’s a serious game and will require both tactics and strategies. But if you approach the task of managing your credit seriously and begin staying on top of your debts, your credit limits, your balances and your due dates, you will eventually develop habits that will make it easy for you to successfully manage your finances for the rest of your life.

What Will Life Be Like With No Credit History?

credit history being erasedWe all need a good credit history. It can help improve your financial life in a lot of ways.

For those of you who are confused about it, this is basically what is in your credit report. It contains the credit activities of consumers. Every time someone borrows money, it is recorded in this report. When the consumer makes a payment or when they open another credit account, it will be placed in this credit report. It will be part of the history of the consumer’s credit.

Now this report is very important in our society. At least, if you want to make serious financial transactions, you need to have a good credit report. It will help creditors and lenders gauge how responsible you are when handling borrowed money.

But what if you have no interest in building up your credit history? What will happen if you have no entry on your credit report? How will it affect your personal life – specifically your financial transactions?

What happens when you do not have any credit record

One thing’s for certain – when you do not have a credit report, you do not have any debt. As mentioned, this report takes into account all of your credit activities. If you do not have any debt, then you do not have any credit history.

Having no credit report is actually a choice. You can choose not to use any credit to make financial transactions. You can choose to just use cash so you will not be in danger of overspending your monthly budget.

This choice, however, is not a popular one. According to an article published on TheSimpleDollar.com, Americans are notorious for their credit card use – which is obviously a form of credit account. The article cited a report from the Federal Reserve that states how the average American household owes $7,281 in credit card debt. The article does admit that this figure includes even the households that do not use credit cards. If the statistics only include the homes that use credit cards, then the average will jump to $15,609. That means a lot of people have chosen not to use credit cards.

That may seem like a lot of people with no debt. However, you need to realize that there are other forms of debt like mortgages, car loans, student loans, etc. That means almost all Americans that are 18 years and above have some form of debt to their name. It is an indication that almost all of them have credit histories too.

Now deciding not to join this statistic is obviously a very brave one. You will be joining the minority of people who have made a stand against the use of credit. While there may be a lot of benefits to having a credit report, there are also two things that it cannot do for you.

It does not reveal your income situation.

First of all, you need to realize that it does not have any bearing on your financial situation. Even if you do not have a credit report, that does not mean you do not have a salary. There is no difference between someone who is earning a minimum wage or a 6-figure income. A credit report only monitors your credit – not your income. Of course, your income will matter in some way – especially when calculating your debt to income ratio. But that is not a huge factor in your credit history. Your salary will not be reflected in your credit report.

It does not guarantee your financial condition.

Your lack of credit report will also reveal nothing about your financial condition. This is also true for those who have a good or bad credit record. Some people have a high income and stable financial situation and still have a bad credit report. Of course, having a bad credit report would make you more prone to have money problems but it is not a guarantee that you will be headed that way. Some may have a good credit record despite having a low income and unstable employment situation. It is also possible for you to have no credit history and have a very stable financial situation. You will have a stable situation if you have a steady source of income and you have an emergency fund that will allow you to survive even if that source is compromised.

Effects of having no credit report

So, what are the real effects of having no credit report? Will it make your financial life more difficult or will it be an improvement?

There are two important effects of having no credit history.

It will be difficult to borrow money to invest.

You may be wondering, why would I want to put myself in debt in the first place? Well, it is possible to live without debt, but there are some drawbacks to that. For instance, buying a home is usually easier when you take out a mortgage. Saving up to buy a new home in cash will take ages to do. It does not make sense to do that and waste money renting a house. If you really want to be smart about it, you should just take out a mortgage, live in that new home and pay for the monthly amortization. In most cases, your monthly payments end up being lower than the average rental rates.

Having proven that you need to borrow money at some point in your life, you obviously need the help of a good credit report. Otherwise, it will be difficult for you to get the best loan terms in the market – if you can get an approval in the first place. When we say loan terms, the best ones would include low interest rates and reasonable financial charges.

There is no way to gauge your creditworthiness.

The other effect of having no credit history is on your creditworthiness. Every time you apply for a loan, you need to prove to the creditor or lender that you can be trusted with that credit. What better way to prove that than by showing them your past credit behavior. And guess what? Your credit report is the best way you can prove that.

Since your credit report holds the history of all your credit accounts, any creditor or lender can see how you behaved. Did you pay on time? Did you hold too many debts at one point? How was your credit balance in relation to your credit limit? These are important consideration to gauge if you are a high risk borrower or not. The more appealing your credit history is, the more creditworthy you are. When you are considered to be very creditworthy, then you are a low risk borrower. That means the lender or creditor does not have to take steps to protect themselves in the event that you cannot pay back your loan. These protective measures usually come in the form of high financial charges and interest rates.

Of course, having a credit report is one thing. Having a good credit report is another. According to Bankrate.com, having no credit report, although it is not the ideal situation, is still a lot better than having a bad credit record. Having no credit history means you have a clean slate. Having a bad credit report means you have been a very naughty credit holder. The bottom line is – if you cannot maintain a good credit history, then you might as well just have no history at all.

Tips to build up your credit reputation

Building your credit history from scratch is easier than rebuilding a bad credit report. Here is a video from the Bank of America that will give you tips on how you can build your credit history from scratch.

When it comes to rebuilding your credit report, there are a couple of tips that you need to follow:

  • Borrow money wisely. First of all, you need to learn how to borrow money in a smart way. Unfortunately, some Americans will have to take more lessons when it comes to this. According to an article published on USNews.com, 37% of Americans are in a dangerous financial situation. It is revealed by the study done by Bankrate that 1 out of 3 consumers have more credit card debt than their emergency savings. If something goes wrong, it can put them in a very difficult financial position. You need to learn how to borrow wisely. Although a credit report requires you to use credit, you need to choose which debts can improve your life. Do not just borrow just for the sake of using credit.
  • Pay your dues on time. When you borrow money, you need to pay it back in time. The biggest consideration in your credit history is your payment behavior. If you cannot pay your dues in time, your credit report will suffer greatly.
  • Have multiple loan types. Multiple loan types do not mean having a lot of credit card accounts. Your credit card, regardless of how many you have is only counted as one. Multiple loans mean having a revolving credit (credit cards) and non-revolving credit (mortgage).
  • Be mindful of your credit balance. Credit utilization is also very important. This is the relationship between your balance and your limit. The nearer the balance is to your limit, the more damaging it is to your credit history.
  • Do not open too much credit accounts all at the same time. Opening too many credit accounts is also not good. You need to space your new accounts – if you really need them all. You need to learn how to time your applications so that it will not result in a lot of hard inquiries on your credit report.

A credit history is not really compulsory but it can help set up your future so you can be financially stable.

Want To Be An Entrepreneur? Better Keep An Eye On Your Credit Report

credit score, report and historyIf you want to start your own business, one of the things that you need to consider is your credit report.

We live in a society wherein being in debt is the norm. Just look at how our credit cards have become as prominent as cash in our wallets. For some people, if you want to have something done, you need to borrow money to be able to afford it. We would rather acquire something now and pay for it later instead of just waiting to save up for it.

When it comes to a business, that line of thinking becomes logical. If you want to improve your finances for a better way of living, starting your own business is sometimes the way to do it. After all, the profits from your business may be able to pay for your debts. But if you want to start a business, you need to make sure your current financial situation will allow you to do it. And when we talk about your financial situation, it means taking a good look at your current credit situation by looking at your credit report.

If your credit situation is not appealing, that might keep you from becoming an entrepreneur. Take for instance the start up story of Sir Richard Branson, noted businessman and investor. According to an article published on Entrepreneur.com, when Sir Richard started Virgin Records (now Virgin Group), he has a lot of the characteristics of a great businessman – except for excellent credit. This resulted in him borrowing from his savings and his relatives just to fund his start up business. Thankfully, he had other sources of funding for his new business.

What if you do not have that option? Will you just let go of your entrepreneur dreams? Or will you do something about your credit report so you can finance your dream business?

Your credit score will matter when you start a small business

Obviously, the answer to this is to make sure you credit score is in top shape so you can use it to take your financial life to the next level. You need to work on your creditworthiness because it can affect your start up in three ways.

When getting a business loan

It is very rare that someone has the cash to use for their start up business. This is why a business loan is usually needed by new entrepreneurs. According to an article from Entrepreneur.com, 25% of early-stage entrepreneurs use bank financing and credit cards to help with their funding needs. When it comes to credit from banks, they will most certainly take a look at your personal credit score. Since you are after a start up business, you do not have a business credit score yet. That mean the credit institutions will still rely on your personal credit reputation to see if you are worthy of getting a business loan.

Of course, there are other sources of funding like those from the US Small Business Administration or SBA. Their website, SBA.gov, holds information that you can use to find the right federal loan for your start up company. But while they offer loan programs, you need to know that the interest that they will impose on you will still depend on your credit score – if you qualify at all. If you have a bad score, then you will be given a high interest on your loan.

When getting partners or suppliers

Another thing that you need to be concerned about is acquiring business partners or suppliers. Unless you business will be purely reliant on your own skill, you will need suppliers. The bigger your dreams are for a company, the more likely you will need partners or suppliers. Given that, guess what they will look at before they get into an agreement with you? That’s right – your credit report. If you have a bad credit record, suppliers will hesitate to give you flexible payment terms. Your bad credit score may not keep them from supplying you with your needs, but they might be a bit strict when it comes to payment. With a good credit record, some suppliers allow businesses to pay after 90 days or even more. Since a bad credit record usually means you do not have good payment behavior, they will most likely give you a hard time getting favorable terms.

When bidding for clients

The last thing that can be ruined by a bad credit report is getting clients. When you are bidding for an account with a big client, they will most likely look at your credit score to see your financial reputation. Someone who fails to meet payment on time or have a lot of debt is not really someone that you want to go into business with. Do not give that impression to your clients. You need to appear clean to them so put your credit records in order. These clients will be responsible for giving you hefty profits. Make sure they will not be turned off by your past credit behavior.

Credit management tips to improve your credit records

Thankfully, there are ways for you to improve or fix your credit score. You just have to be committed to cleaning your act because proper credit behavior may involve breaking some of your financial habits. Here are some tips when you need to improve your credit records.

  • Use credit wisely. We are not saying that you should not use debt. In fact, having a credit report means you need to continually use credit. The thing is, you need to use debt wisely. Do not borrow just for the sake of borrowing. You need to know why you are borrowing money and use it as intended.
  • Pay your bills on time. Your payment behavior is 35% of your credit score – at least, this is true if you are using the FICO score. This score is used the most by creditors and lenders. While there are other formulas to compute your credit score, all of them place a huge importance to how you pay your bills. So pay off your dues in time and you can watch your credit report improve.
  • Keep your debt levels low. This is connected to borrowing wisely. If you know that you have a lot of debts already, try to keep a lid on your credit spending. Use cash or lower your overhead expenses so you can send bigger payments towards your debt accounts.
  • Monitor your credit report. Lastly, you want to make sure that you will be monitoring your credit report every now and then. Your personal credit records can become a victim of identity theft. This can ruin your score – especially if someone borrowed under your name and it remained unpaid for a long time. When you look at your credit report often, you can see if an unauthorized financial transaction happened. You can counter that immediately. Even if you start building your business credit records, you still have to monitor it carefully. According to Fundtastic.com, business credit reports have a higher chance of having errors. That is because some businesses have similar names and if your record was pulled out incorrectly, that can result in a wrong entry. You need to make the necessary corrections immediately to avoid problems in the future.

Starting your own business is a great journey to start. Just make sure that your credit report is ready to support you and open the best financial opportunities.

What You Need To Know About Medical Debt And Your Credit Score

stethoscope on top of coinsDid you know that medical debt is one of the reasons why a lot of Americans are having troubles with their credit scores? We all know how important credit scores have become in our society today. This score measures your creditworthiness. Before you are approved of a loan application, the creditor or lender will always check your credit score to determine how risky you are when it comes to payment behaviour. The idea is, when your credit score is low, there is a higher chance that you will not pay back what you borrowed from creditors and lenders.

But recent studies have shown that not all individuals with low credit scores are entirely irresponsible when it comes to debt. According to an article published on CBSNews.com, over half of the overdue balance on consumer credit reports is caused by unpaid medical debt. Most of them are unpaid because of reimbursement delays from health insurance companies. Other causes include medical billing errors and disputes that have yet to be resolved.

Apparently, there is some shady business going on when it comes to collecting medical bills. When the hospital, health facility or medical professional have unpaid receivables, they turn it over to medical debt collectors. These collectors go after consumers for payment – even when it is clear that the payment should be coming from health insurance companies. To pressure consumers into paying their bills from their own pockets, debt collectors file an unpaid report to the major credit bureaus. This results in a low credit score for a lot of consumers.

These findings came from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau or CFPB. They have been compiling reports, complaints and observations with the intention to protect consumers from this seemingly unfair practice of reporting medical debt.

Based on the article from CBS News, the efforts of the agency is effective because a medical debt collector had been apprehended because of these shady practices. A settlement with Syndicated Office Systems had resulted in a $5.4 million payout to more than 23,000 consumers who had been wrongly hounded for medical bills. This payout is in checks of $100 to $1,000 – depending on how each consumer is affected by the illegal practices of the medical debt collection industry.

New rules when reporting health-related debt to credit bureaus

If you are currently burdened with medical bills, you need to understand the new rules that should protect you from getting a bad credit score.

Based on the December 2014 report published by the CFPB in their website, ConsumerFinance.gov, an estimate of 43 million Americans are found to have overdue medical bills. Most of these consumers are found to have ruined credit reports because of this debt.

According to the findings of the agency, there is something wrong with the way the system incurs, collects and reports medical debt. Among the things that was discovered to be wrong includes the following:

  • Confusing billing process for medical expenses. Some consumers incur a lot of bills – from the hospital, separate treatment sessions, professional fee, etc. These multiple providers can be quite confusing. Not only that the cost sometimes vary from one client to the next because of factors like the insurance, etc. This is why some consumers are unaware of how much they really owe in terms of their medical bills.
  • No standard practice in reporting overdue bills. The lack of standard procedure when reporting overdue medical debt is another reason why this is a big problem for consumers. There is no clear indication when their unpaid medical bills will end up in their credit report. Other debts will wait until after a pre-determined period passes before they report the unpaid debt to the major credit bureau. For medical bills, it can vary from 30 to 180 days. It depends on the health care provider when they will send the report.
  • Practice of “parking” unpaid debts on credit reports. This means the debt collector reports the unpaid medical bill and does not inform the consumer about it. This practice puts the consumer in danger of damaging their credit report without being given the chance of doing something to prevent it.

To deal with these problems, the CFPB required credit reporting companies to provide them with accurate reports on a regular basis. This will help them examine how to deal with the problems that consumers are facing when it comes to their medical debt. The agency would like to make the credit reporting market accountable for the accurate credit reports that consumers have. This market includes the credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion), and the creditors and collectors providing the report.

Apart from the CFPB, a group of State Attorney Generals are also working on this problem too. According to an article published on Time.com, it will soon be easier for consumers to correct any errors on their credit report – especially if it involves their medical debts. The article mentioned how the three major credit bureaus have agreed to improve how they report medical debt and how they will deal with any errors that customers are complaining about. This change is part of their response to the settlement with Eric Scheiderman, the New York State Attorney General. The changes will be implemented six months from March 2015. The credit bureaus are expected to provide trained employees that will review the complaints of consumers and investigate accordingly.

Not only that, the credit bureaus are required to wait 180 days before they are allowed to add any unpaid medical debt in the report of the consumer. This is meant to give the consumer enough time to work on their unpaid debt before it damages their credit report.

According to the CBS News article mentioned earlier, some of the problems need to be put into law and thankfully, legislators are also working on it. In May of 2015, US Reps. John Carney (D-Delaware) and Andy Barr (R-Kentucky) introduced a bill known as the Medical Debt Relief Act. This bill seeks to allow the erasure of paid medical debts from credit reports within 45 days after full payment. It might be a long time before this is passed but the step in that direction is already taken.

How to keep medical bills from ruining your finances

While all of these steps are being taken, it is important for consumers to take their own steps to keep their medical debts from ruining their personal finances. According to the report from CFPB, there are 15 million consumers who only have medical debt on their credit report – nothing else. 20% of credit reports have at least one overdue medical bill. There are too many consumers being affected by the bad credit reporting practices for unpaid medical bills. You need to make some effort to keep your debt from ruining your financial life.

Of course, dealing with big medical bills is easier said than done. It takes dedication, self control and constant vigilance to help keep your debt from ruining you. Here are four things that you can do.

  • Keep yourself healthy. Prevention is better than cure. If you can avoid it, do not incur the debt. Live a healthy lifestyle so you do not have to spend on medical expenses.
  • Get insurance. If you know that your family is prone to certain illnesses, have yourself insured. It is better to be prepared by buying the right health insurance for you and your family as well. That way, you do not have to break the bank every time someone in the family falls ill.
  • Save up for emergencies. Apart from a health insurance, you can also avoid medical debt if you save up for these unexpected expenses. Grow your emergency fund so you have something to dip into when you need it the most.
  • Deal with your other debts. One way that you can also keep your medical debt from ruining you is by paying off your other debts. In most cases, people with too much debt are stressed. We all know how stress can cause a lot of health issues. Do not let stress rule your life so illness can stay away from you too.

Getting Your Credit Score Is Now Easier Than Ever

Man climbing range of credit scoresYour credit score is that three-digit number that rules your credit life. If you have a number above 660 you should be able to easily get a new credit card, a personal line of credit or an auto loan. You will be able to rent a house or an apartment and you will save money on your auto insurance premiums. On the other hand if you have a score of less than 500 you may have a very hard time getting any kind of credit.

A deep dark secret

Credit scores used to be a deep, dark secret known only to lenders. FICO, the company responsible for developing credit scoring, provided credit scores only to lenders and the three credit reporting bureaus. You could get your score by paying FICO or free from Experian, TransUnion or Equifax. However this would not be your FICO score but your Vantage score, which is based on a model developed by the credit bureaus.

Now easier than ever

Nearly half of us have checked our credit scores within the past year. According to a Bankrate Money Pulse survey another 14% have checked their scores within the past three years. Unfortunately not everyone has done this. Many Americans have never gotten their credit scores. In fact, a 2013 study from the American Bankers Association found that 56% of us did not know our credit scores.

The good news is that over the past few years credit scores have become easier to access than ever before. If you have a certain type of Discover card you’re probably getting your credit score every month. US Bank recently began providing its customers with their TransUnion credit scores. Bank of America is beginning to provide FICO scores to its consumer credit card customers and Chase is providing FICO scores at no cost to its Slate cardholders. Citi now provides free FICO scores monthly to those that have Citi-branded cards.

Even FICO is getting onboard

FICO recently said that it would provide versions of its score free to customers that are financially strapped. This will be done through certain nonprofit credit counseling agencies and government organizations that participate in the program`.

Websites that provide credit scores

In addition to the three credit reporting bureaus there are several websites that provide free credit scores. The most popular of these are Credit.com, Credit Karma, Quizzle and Credit Sesame. If you sign up with one of these websites you’ll get a good idea of your score with each of the three credit bureaus. And if you combine the twice yearly free Equifax credit report from Quizzle with Credit Karma’s free credit reports. plus the free credit reports available at www.annualcreditreport.com you should be able to spot any identity theft early on.

How lenders view youpoor credit score

While getting your credit score is a good idea it’s even more important to understand how lenders view it. They generally look at credit scores in ranges as follows:

• Excellent Credit: 781 – 850
• Good Credit: 661-780
• Fair Credit: 601-660
• Poor Credit: 501-600
• Bad Credit: below 500

How credit scores are calculated

FICO calculates credit scores using a proprietary algorithm. Vantage scores are based on an algorithm developed by TransUnion, Experian and Equifax. No one outside these four companies knows exactly how their credit scores are calculated but it’s known that FICO scores are based on five factors.

  • Credit history
  • Credit Utilization ratio
  • Length of credit history
  • New credit
  • Credit mix

Of these five the most important is credit history or how you have used credit in the past as it accounts for 35% of your score. Credit utilization is sometimes called your debt-to-credit ratio. It accounts for 30% of your score and is computed by dividing the amount of credit you’ve used by the total amount of credit you have available. Length of credit history is how long you’ve had credit. It makes up 15% of your score while new credit and credit mix each accounts for 10%. Your credit mix is the different type of credit you have – for example an auto loan, a mortgage and credit cards. New credit is sort of a misnomer because what it really means is the number of accounts you’ve opened recently. This can be important to potential lenders because it suggests you might be having financial problems and are desperately seeking new lines of credit.

To improve your score

If you have a low credit score and would like to improve it there are only several things you can do. If you’ve seen ads that scream, “Increase your credit score to 700 overnight” or “We’ll get those negative items off your credit report,” we have three words for you: Don’t believe them. There is absolutely no way to get a credit score increased overnight and while it’s possible to get negative items removed from a credit report it’s not something that any third-party can do.

There’s obviously nothing you can do about your credit history because it’s history. What’s done is done. You could improve your credit utilization ratio using one of two options. First, you could pay down your balances so that you would have a better debt-to-credit ratio or you might be able to get one or more of your credit limits increased – although this is generally easier said than done.

You could also improve your credit mix. For example, if you only have one credit card and an auto loan you could open a second card or take out a personal line of credit. The reason why this accounts for 15% of your credit score is that potential lenders like to see that you’ve successfully managed different kinds of credit. Of course, it will take time for this to improve your credit score because you’ll need to show you can handle that new credit card or personal line of credit sensibly.

If you have bad credit

If you have a credit score of 500 or below, you have some hard work ahead of you. The first thing you will need to do is get a free copy of your credit reports either from the three credit reporting bureaus or all at once on the site www.annualcreditreport.com. Go over your reports very carefully looking for the items that have sabotaged your credit score. These include late payments, missed payments, accounts that have gone to collection and defaults. You may be able to catch up on late payments and you could, of course, take care of missed payments. Just because you’ve defaulted on an account doesn’t mean you no longer owe the money. If you pay off the balance of a defaulted account it will still be listed as a default but as paid in full. The same thing is true of an account that has gone to collection. You will need to pay it off or negotiate a settlement with the debt collection agency to get square on it. As you can imagine all of this takes time as well as money. Beyond this you might get a secured credit card. Use it sensibly and this will be reported to the three credit bureaus, which will ultimately help improve your credit score.

Don’t Think Credit Is Critical To Your Everyday Life?? Better Think Again

Whether you think about it this way or not credit can have an incredible effect on your life and even on your employment. One good way to think of it is as a cloud that follows you everywhere you go. It can be a nice, fluffy, little cloud or a big, black cloud.couple going over bills

Learning where you stand

Your credit score, which is a little three-digit number, tells where you stand and how potential lenders will view you. If you don’t know your credit score one good place to get it is using Credit.com’s Credit Report Card. This tool will even divide your credit score into sections and show you a grade for each of them. For example, when you access it you will be able to see how your payment history, your debt and the other factors affect your score.

Automobile loans

When you apply for an auto loan your credit score will dictate the interest rate you get. Most auto lenders won’t review your financial history or read your complete report. They will rely instead on your score and the data on your application. If your score is 750 or above you will get the best interest deal available, which can be 0%. What happens if you have a low credit score? You’ll still be able to get that loan but it will come at a very high interest rate. Where can you get the best auto loan interest rates? The answer is generally from credit unions and online lenders and not auto dealerships.

Cell phones

You’re probably not aware of this but cell phone companies generally check your credit before they give you a service plan. If you have bad credit you may be required to put down a larger down payment or pay extra for your contract. Some cell phone companies don’t require a credit check so if your credit is bad your best bet would be to hunt down one of them. Also be aware that some service contracts give the company the right to review your credit at any time.

Renting in apartment

Perspective landlords and rental agencies usually will review your credit report. What they look for are missed payments and other negative information on your report that shows you might not be a reliable tenant. People that have bad credit are often required to put down a much larger deposit or to get a co-signer. In a worst-case scenario your application might be turned down. Unfortunately, if you have been making your rent payments on time this won’t help your credit score because this is not reported to the credit bureaus. However, this may change. More and more property management companies and landlords will now report a positive rental history, which can help you build your credit. One good tip is to ask your landlord if it currently reports your rent payments. If not, you could suggest that it use a service such as RentTrack where you pay your rent online. Your payments would then be reported at least to the credit bureau Experian.

Checking and savings account

Banks and credit unions don’t check credit reports when you apply for a checking or savings account. However they will use ChexSystems to review your history of banking negatives such as bounced checks before giving you an account.

poor credit scoreCredit cards

Make no mistake about this. If you apply for a credit card, the issuing company will review your credit score to determine whether you qualify and the terms you will receive. There are credit card offers that actually have different interest rates for borrowers depending on their credit scores. As a general rule cards with low APR’s or that offer rewards require high credit scores. While you might know that credit card companies will check your credit score when you apply for a card you might not know that some of them review your credit scores even when you are an existing customer and may then adjust their rates accordingly.

Potential employers

More and more employers now routinely check the credit reports of prospective employees. However, they must get your permission in writing before they can do this. What employers generally look for are major negatives or discrepancies. In the event a prospective employer takes “adverse action” based on your credit report, it must first notify you and then give you a copy of your report.

Insurance

When you submit an application for home or auto insurance, the company will use your credit information to determine your terms and rates. While the scores and reports that insurance companies use are a bit different than those used by creditors and lenders, your basic data and standing will be the same. The insurer must ask for permission to access your credit reports and may use that data to determine your “insurance risk score.” If you have a high score your rates will be better.

Utility accounts

You will probably need to give your permission but cable, electricity and other utilities companies will check your credit report. If you have a problem with your credit you will probably need to put down a bigger deposit, pay higher rates for your utilities or get a co-signer. If you live in a state that has community property laws such as California, Texas and Arizona, the utility companies might even check your spouse’s or partner’s credit history.

Mortgages

If you apply for a mortgage the lender will review all three of your credit reports and credit scores. Since a mortgage loan is typically much bigger then a student or auto loan, the review process is much more comprehensive. You’ll need to have a credit score above 700 to get a standard mortgage interest rate.

Child support

Agencies that enforce child support routinely check the child support payment and credit histories of delinquent parents. When they make an inquiry about your credit history this will not appear on your credit report and will not change your credit score. However, if you don’t pay child support this will be reported by the child-support enforcement agencies to the credit bureaus and can damage your credit score.

Student loans

If you or your parents apply for a private student loan the lender will check your credit report. However, the interest rates on federal student loans are set based on national rates so these loans do not require a credit check.

Omnipresent is the word

As you can see from what you’ve read in this article your credit is totally omnipresent or threaded throughout your entire financial life. If you have a good score of 750 or above, the world is your oyster. You should be able to rent an apartment, get a credit card, open a checking account or get a cell phone plan with no problem at all. Unfortunately, the opposite is true. If you have a poor score that big, dark cloud hanging over your head is going to make your life much more difficult.

How To Rebuild Your Credit After Divorce

man jumping with a chart behind himGetting divorced can be one of the most stressful things you’ll ever have to endure. If you have children there’ll be the issues of who has custody and maybe visiting rights. You or your attorneys will need to determine how to split your finances as well as your furniture and personal possessions. And, of course, the more stuff you have and the more you and your spouse earn, the more complicated things will be. But there is one piece that’s easy to overlook and that’s your credit score.

Why your credit score will take a hit

Despite what many people think a divorce per se will not damage your credit score. This is because your credit score and your spouse’s credit score are different. It’s not like you had a joint credit score and getting divorced will cut your score by 50%. However, there are several reasons why a divorce will damage your credit score. First, your expenses will likely go up since you’re no longer splitting them. This will make it more difficult for you to keep up with your bills. Second, it’s likely that you and your spouse had some debts when you divorced. If they are not paid off immediately they will end up being the responsibility of one of you. If that person doesn’t pay them off then both your credit reports and ultimately your credit scores will be damaged. And third, the harsh truth is that there can be identity theft. It’s unfortunately very common for one spouse to “borrow” the ex’s personal information to get new utility services, new credit cards, an auto loan, etc.

Divorce can lead to bankruptcy

It’s also sad but true that a divorce can lead to bankruptcy. If this happens to you it might be because your finances just got stretched over the limit, as you’re now required to pay for new expenses such as alimony or childcare. But some people are actually pushed into filing for bankruptcy by his or her former spouse. As an example of this let’s suppose that you owned a house with your ex spouse but you can’t sell it because it’s upside down. Your ex agrees to pay the mortgage but then doesn’t do so. If you want to keep the house you could end up having to file for bankruptcy in order to save it. Or just to get rid of the responsibility of having to pay on it.

Making your credit score a priority

There are numerous things that need to be taken care of as the result of a divorce. This could make it easy for you to miss paying a bill. And believe it or not just one late or missed payment could cause what would otherwise be your excellent credit score to fall by 50, 75 points or more. After your divorce you will need good credit to get a place to live and to get new utility service without having to make a deposit. Plus, the stain on your credit report of having missed a payment can come back to haunt you as it will stay in your credit reports for seven years.

Get your credit reportsmagnifying glass on credit report

One of the most important things you should do post-divorce is to get your credit reports. They are available free from the three credit reporting bureaus – Experian, TransUnion and Equifax. They are also available free on the website www.annualcreditreport.com. While this site makes it possible to get all three of your credit reports simultaneously most financial experts say it’s better to get them one at a time every four months. This becomes a way to monitor your credit year round without having to pay a credit monitoring service.

There are several reasons why you should be getting your credit reports. First, it’s so you can see all your debts. Any debts that were the joint responsibility of the two of you should be paid off as quickly as possible. This is because you are legally responsible for paying off any joint debts and getting divorced doesn’t change that.

It’s also possible that there are errors in your credit reports that are dragging down your credit score. When you review your credit reports look for purchases you don’t remember making or companies you don’t remember having done business with. If you find errors be sure to dispute them with the appropriate credit bureau. You should do this in writing so that you will have a paper trail. If you are able to get erroneous items removed from your credit reports your credit score should get a nice bounce.

Rebuilding your credit

If your credit was damaged due to the divorce, take heart. While you can’t change the past, you can make sure that you pay all your bills on time going forward. Recent information about how you handle your credit tends to have a greater impact on your score then older information. This means that paying your bills on time should ultimately lead to a significant improvement in your credit score. If you lost your credit cards for some reason or just don’t have one then get a new, secured credit card. This is where you deposit money at a bank or credit union and then can use the card so long as you have a balance. If you do get one of these cards make sure that if you use it sensibly this will be reported to the three credit bureaus, as you need this in order to rebuild your credit score. You might also be able to get a personal line of credit secured by a savings account. This would be yet another step in rebuilding your credit.

If your financial circumstances are really bad

If you have a 401(k) and are in dire financial circumstances you could borrow from it to clear up your debts and get a jump in your credit score. While this is never an ideal solution it’s better than cashing in your retirement account early, which would mean having to pay taxes and penalties. There is also a relatively new way to borrow money that could help. It’s called peer-to-peer lending. Two of the most popular sites that offer these loans are Lending Club and Prosper. The way this works is that you fill out and submit an application with your name, Social Security number, address and the amount of money you need and why you need it. Once your application has been verified, your request will be put online for lenders to review. If you write a good enough “pitch” or reason why you need the money a lender or group of lenders might decide to take a chance on you and fund your loan even though you have a poor credit score.

Boost Your Credit History Without A Credit Card

credit historyEveryone needs to build a credit history. It is very important that you have yours as early as possible. This history is indicated in your credit report. It simply records your credit behaviour – how much you owe, how you pay them off and how responsible you are with all your credit accounts. If your record is good, you can get a high credit score. A high score will help you secure a lot of financial opportunities that are not available to those who have lower scores.

Some people actually think that this is a ridiculous requirement in our society. Why is there so much importance in building your credit reputation? After all the difficulties experienced during the Great Recession, is it really a wise idea to continue to care about credit? Wouldn’t it be better to just eliminate it from your life?

This is actually what some Millennials are doing. According to an article published on FoxBusiness.com back in 2014, 63% of Millennials have decided not to own a credit card. This was based on a survey done by Bankrate. In comparison, only 35% of 30-year olds and above do not have credit cards. If you think that this will help you stay out of debt – it is not entirely accurate.

Sad to say, our society, or the financial industry in particular, feel differently about credit. They view the use of credit as an important indication of your financial success – especially in relation to your credit report. A six figure income with a bad credit report to match is not something to be proud of. You may actually be better off earning a simple salary but with a good credit history.

One of the easiest ways to build your history is to use a credit card. After all, you need some credit input in your report. However, this is where people are having a hard time coming into terms with. Credit cards may be a common payment method but a lot of consumers have been burned by the debt that they went through in the past. This is why most of them are having a hard time building their credit reputation. There is some hesitation in using it for fear of falling further into debt – since credit card use come with high interest rates.

5 ways you can build your credit report without a credit card

Fortunately, there are ways for you to build your credit history without succumbing to the dangers of high interest credit cards. It is the easiest, but if you are not comfortable with it, that are other options. Here are some of them.

Use existing companies that you pay each month.

We all make monthly payments outside of our credit cards. These include utility bills and subscriptions like cable or the Internet. The companies providing these services to you are not required to report your payment behaviour to the three major credit bureaus (Experian, TransUnion, Equifax). However, they can submit a report if they want to – and if you ask them to report on your behalf. Simply call them and ask them to submit a report just so you can have a record of good payment behaviour. If you are renting, you can even ask your landlord to submit too. Any consistent and recurring monthly payment may be submitted to help add to the data in your credit history. Take note that since this is not a requirement for them, they could deny your request.

Get a small loan from a credit union.

Credit unions, although they provide almost the same financial services and products as banks, are actually quite different. Credit unions revolve around their members. This is why a lot of them have membership restrictions. If you find a credit union that you can join, open an account with them and apply for a small personal loan. They offer lower interest rates compared to the traditional banks. This will help you put some credit data in your credit history so you can show that you are responsible with your payments. In case, you find it hard to get an approval for a loan, you might want to open a secured loan wherein you will use a savings account that you have with them as collateral. This will lower your credit risk and thus increase your chances of getting an approval.

Apply for an installment loan from a retailer.

Retailers of expensive items allow customers to take out an installment loan on purchases. This will require you to make timely payments for a specific period of time. This is important if you cannot even apply for a loan with a credit union. Not only will this be a record in your credit history, it could also help increase your credit score because having variety in your type of credits will affect 10% of your score. Sometimes, in an effort to get customers to pay, retailers offer these loans with little or even no interest rate for the first few payments.

Opt for peer to peer loans.

This is a relatively new way to borrow money. It is usually done online so you need to explore this via the Internet. The popular companies offering peer to peer loans are Prosper and Lending Club. These are simply platforms where investors from the community meet with borrowers. That means, the financing for the loan that you apply for will be coming from investors in the community. The risk is lower so the interest rate for peer to peer loans are smaller compared to traditional banks. The chance of you getting a loan approval is higher here. And since peer to peer lending companies are required to report to the credit bureaus, your credit behaviour will be recorded in your credit history.

Utilize your student loans.

If you have existing student loans, you can use this to help display how responsible you are with your credit accounts. According to NOLO.com, these loans can help you build a payment history. Make sure you practice proper payment behaviour as it will be recorded in your credit report accordingly. And in case you are planning to go to graduate school, you may want to use your federal student loans to help you get more data into your credit report.

All of these options should give you a chance to build your credit history. Just remember that it is not ownership of the loan that will give you a good credit reputation. It is how you behave in relation to that debt. If you stick to your payment schedule and you always pay the right amount, then you can be assured of a credit history that can reflect a high credit score.

Tips to practice proper credit management

The truth is, it is all about proper credit management. Even if you have a high amount of debt (which is really not recommended), as long as you can keep up with payments, you will have a good record in your credit history.

The thing about your credit report is it needs consistent good behaviour. Even if you start with a good report, one mistake can ruin that good record. It is something that you need to take care of for as long as you want to make financial transactions work in your favour.

To help you practice credit management, here are some tips that we can give you:

  • Only borrow what you can afford to pay. This does not mean you should look at your income to determine how much you can borrow. You need to also consider how much debt you currently have and the expenses that you need to pay for every month. If you have to base it on your income, make sure that it is on your disposable income. This is the income that is left after all your other expenses and payments have been paid off at the end of the month.
  • Practice the right payment behaviour. This is 35% of your credit score. If your credit history shows that you do not pay on time and you fail to meet the minimum payment requirement, you will be viewed as an irresponsible credit holder. That will make you a high credit risk because lenders will view you as someone who cannot be trusted with credit. You will either be denied of your loan application or given a higher interest rate.
  • Monitor your credit report. Sometimes, people end up with ruined credit reports after being a victim of identity theft. CNN.com reported that in 2014, the top complaint from Americans (as compiled by the Federal Trade Commission) involves identity theft. The only way that you can detect this is by looking at your credit history every now and then. You need to look at the records to ensure that everything reflected there are all your financial transactions. If there is one entry that you are not familiar with, then you may want to check that out and have it removed.

Credit management will help you maintain a good credit history. But to practice proper credit management, you also have to practice the right financial management habits. This includes budgeting, saving and smart spending. Being cautious with your financial decisions will ultimately help you improve your current financial standing.

Here is a video from the Bank of America to help you build a better credit report.

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