Easy Ways to Help OR Hurt Your Credit Score

If there’s one thing the last four years have taught us, it’s that credit is a tricky thing. A struggling economy and damaged personal finances helped many of us wake up and realize our dependence on credit–and just how much debt we had actually acquired. For some time, it seemed like the solution was to swear off credit cards and never charge anything again.

At the same time, though, credit is essential to our financial lives. We know that our credit score is important, that it affects our ability to rent an apartment, get a loan for our education, or even take out life insurance.

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But how many of us really understand what we can do to help or hurt that credit score?

A credit score, first of all, is a number between 300 and 850 that indicates what kind of risk you are for a financial company.  The higher your number, the lower your risk level, and the more likely you are to get low interest rates on loans or get approved for long-term insurance policies.

There are many factors that can help or hurt your credit score, but five of them are so simple, they’re easy to overlook.

Making payments on time – helps!

It’s easy to get busy and forget about your credit card balance or loans at the end of the month. But making payments on time doesn’t just help you avoid accumulating interest. Your payment history is 35% of your credit score – over a third!  If you credit score is lower than you want, paying your bills on time is the fastest way to improve it.

Opening too many new accounts or closing all your old ones – hurts!

Your credit history, is partially dependent on the age of your accounts, it makes up 15% of your credit score. Mature accounts indicate that you have managed payments for a long time, which improves your score. If you open several new accounts at once, or close several old ones, the average age of you accounts decreases, which lowers your score. If you need to add or close accounts, do so one at a time, leaving several months or even a solid year between changes.

Creating a credit history – helps!

It’s obviously not good financial sense to charge everything and run up debt, but having no available credit can lower your score dramatically. Rather than avoiding credit cards altogether, keep yours open, charge only $20-$50 per month, and always pay it off.  That way, credit bureaus are still able to track your payment history.

You can never start too early developing a credit history. Some credit companies offer cards with low balances – under $1000 – specifically for students and young professionals, but they can be requested by anyone; being able to pay them off regularly can help you improve your credit score. But please note that having a credit card limit less than $2000 will hurt you too. It may not be much but it can still hurt. It also hurts when you run your above 75% of your credit limit.

Sign up for too many retail incentive programs – hurts!

Every time you apply for a card (i.e. Kohl’s, JCP, Target), the company issuing it will request your credit report. The number of times this happens is recorded. If the number is too high (typically anything more than 2), it can make you look desperate for credit, which looks bad. If you’re going to sign up for a retail incentive card, pick just one and avoid getting multiple hits on your score.

Creating a mixed credit history – helps!

That being said, having a department store card can help your credit score, as long as you pay it off on time. Lenders like to see customers managing different kinds of credit. If you have a Visa, a Macy’s card, and a loan that you regularly make payments on, then your credit history has good variety and your score will increase.

Credit scores can be tricky to manage, but once you know the basics, you can keep yours high and healthy. And don’t forget to check your credit report once a year to make sure there are no errors or adverse accounts that could damage your score.

 

I have occasionally mentioned about my credit score and even though I am still low I am working on improving it and I have a monthly payment to receive my latest credit score and it is constantly getting better. I am working on not putting myself back into the low credit score I had previously. Happy building!

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Drawers Galore

I really hate drawers because they are so hard to organize unless you buy something to organize it. It doesn’t require a lot of time but there is a little bit of cost depending on which way you want to go with an organizer.

Thankfully in my current living space I do not have many drawers, either out of design or out of sheer lack of disgust. The majority of my drawers are in my bedroom are used for clothes. The only other drawers I have are in my kitchen and for the most part are fairly organized. One drawer has an organizer for silverware, another is just hot mitts/pads, and then the last two are sort of a mix of things. The one is filled with all those long boxes (aluminum foil, parchment paper, plastic wrap, Ziploc® baggies) and the other is sort of a disorganized mess of cooking utensils. And this I am fine with.

Recently I haven’t written much as much has been going on. Living arrangements fell through and I am still in my current place. I unpacked all of my belongings, which gave me a second chance to purge. This made me fill up one large box and one medium size box of things ranging from clothes to unnecessary utensils to jewelry.

I did a purge of the drawer in the kitchen that was a disorganized mess of cooking utensils and grabbed lids and tops and duplicates (which I still kept) and tossed into a small bin that is now occupying a cabinet. At least I know that if it isn’t in that drawer it is in the bin.

The fact that I have been able to get rid of so much is a humble blessing as I seem to collect so much. I even pulled the storage cabinet from the front hall closet out and put it in the kitchen to store the mixer, condiments, paper towels, etc. which freed up a lot of space in my cabinets and on my kitchen counters. I had previously filled my cabinets with pantry items and with mixers and baking sheets that I wasn’t able to store my pots and pans or even all my dishes in my cabinets.

Now my counters are cleared, my cabinets are not stuffed and my drawers are organized to the way I work.

Inspirational Quote Tuesday

Next time you are stressed:

Take a step back, inhale and laugh. Remember who you are and why you are here. You are never given anything in this world that you can’t handle. Be strong, be flexible, love yourself, and love others. Always remember, just keep moving forward.

Goals

“If you could pick one event or moment–past, present, or future–that defines your life, what would that be?”

I have had this question posed to me over and over for the last several years and I am determined to share this bucket list with you as I continue on my adventure through life. My list is comprised of personal, professional, travel and service goals.
Bold items are in progress.
Service 
1. Volunteer 
2. Pay for a stranger’s meal in a drive-thru
3. Make a difference in someone’s life
4. Help build a home with Habitat for Humanity
5. Help out the homeless

Personal & Professional
1. Find the job of my dreams
2. Graduate with a bachelor’s degree
3. Graduate with a master’s degree*
4. Learn to another language (NOTE: I left out the word speak as I have always wanted to learn sign language.)
5. Buy a house
6. Get married*
7. Have children
8. Lose weight
9. Read the Bible cover-to-cover
10. Write a blog

Travel
1. Italy
2. Ireland
3. Greece
4. Australia
5. Canada
6. Niagara Falls
7. Paris
8. England
9. Las Vegas
10. Brazil
11. Mt. Rushmore
12. Golden Gate Bridge
13. Death Valley
14. All 50 states (so far California, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Connecticut, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan, Indiana, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Kentucky, West Virginia, South Dakota, Georgia, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Iowa)
Miscellaneous
1. Swim with dolphins
2. Have a huge water balloon fight
3. See a space launch
4. Fly on a plane
5. Go to a Superbowl
6. Go to Cross Town Classic
7. Go to a professional football game
8. Go to a professional baseball game