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It can be tough to keep track of your credit. Missed payments, high balances, and identity theft can all lead to a decline in your credit score. This can make it difficult to get approved for loans, credit cards, and other financial products. However, there are steps you can take to decrease financial stress, manage your credit, and improve your credit score.
By following a self-care routine of monitoring your credit report, paying your bills on time, and keeping your balances low, you can take control of your credit and improve your financial future. Let’s have a closer look at how this can be achieved.
- Monitor Your Credit Report
- Pay Your Bills on Time
- Keep Your Balances Low
- Detail Your Budget
- Identity Theft Protection
Monitor Your Credit Report
One of the best ways to monitor your credit is to check your credit report regularly. You can get a free copy of your credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus — Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion — once every 12 months. Reviewing your credit report allows you to catch any errors or inaccuracies that could be dragging down your credit score.
If you find any errors on your credit report, you can dispute them with the credit bureau. The credit bureau then investigates the error and removes it from your report if it is found to be inaccurate. This helps improve your credit score quickly and easily.
Pay Your Bills on Time
One of the biggest factors in your credit score is your payment history. This is why it’s so important to pay your bills on time, every time. Even one late payment can negatively impact your credit score. So, set up automatic payments for all of your bills to ensure that they are paid on time, every month.
Keep Your Balances Low
Keeping a low balance on your credit cards is also important. Your credit utilization — or the amount of available credit you are using — makes up 30% of your credit score. So, it’s important to keep your balances low, and only use a small portion of your available credit. This improves your credit utilization ratio and, in turn, improves your credit score.
Detail Your Budget
Another way to keep your balances low is to detail your budget and stick to it. When you know how much money you have coming in and going out each month, you can better plan your spending. This helps you avoid using more credit than you can afford to pay off, which can lead to high balances and debt.
Identity Theft Protection
Identity theft can also lead to a decline in your credit score. With your personal information stolen, criminals may open new accounts in your name and rack up debt. This can leave you with financial stress, a poor credit history, and a low credit score.
To protect yourself from identity theft, never share your personal information — such as your social security number, date of birth, or bank account number — with anyone. In addition, keep an eye on your credit report for any suspicious activity. If you see anything that doesn’t look right, be sure to report it to the credit bureau and the Federal Trade Commission.
The Bottom Line
Monitoring and improving your credit can seem like daunting tasks. However, by following these simple steps, you can take control of your credit, decrease financial stress, improve your financial future. With a little effort, you can have the peace of mind that comes with good credit.
If you’re not sure where to start, there are many resources available to help you. Find more information on credit monitoring and credit improvement at the Federal Trade Commission’s website. You can also contact a credit counseling service for help in developing a plan to improve your credit. Whatever route you decide to take, don’t wait. The sooner you start, the sooner you can enjoy the peace of mind that comes with good credit.