Full disclaimer: I’m not an expert on credit, nor do I pretend to be. However, for the past 6 months, I’ve worked HARD (shedding blood, sweat, tears and sacrificing the coveted girls’ night out) to get my credit score from a 550 to 741. Yes, having good credit is achievable!
Growing up, my parents didn’t teach me about the importance of credit nor did they set me up for credit success. There are parents who start building their children’s credit before they can walk, but my story is very different.
By the time I needed credit in order to handle grown-up business, I already had bad credit. Mind you, my bad credit wasn’t the normal young adult struggle of student loans. My credit report had a lengthy list of derogatory accounts from delinquent utility bills (I was a victim of identity theft) to past due library books.
It’s funny how as kids, a lot of us look up to our parents as superheroes. They literally could do no wrong in our books. But as you grow older, you start to take notice of things that could have been handled differently. For instance in my life, the education of managing your finances. Everything that screwed up my credit score could have easily been avoided if I had known better.
However, the good thing about life is that you don’t have to succumb to the ways of your upbringing. You can rise above your circumstances.
After years of being rejected from apartments and even secure cards, I decided to finally take steps in the right direction to get my credit together. With being dedicated to seeing this through, I increased my credit score by nearly 200 points. And now, I’m proudly apart of the 700 club! If you want financial freedom, you can get it.
Check out below for the two major things I did in order to build my credit.
- Pay off/ dispute your accounts in collections – I’ve had a credit card for 2 years and though I was paying my bill on time every month my credit score barely went up. There’s basically a cap on how high your credit will increase if you have open collections accounts. When building my credit, the first thing I did was contact all the collections agencies I owed to make arrangements on paying off my debt. Make sure that once you talk to the agency that you tell them that you want the account COMPLETELY REMOVED from your credit report and not left as a visible account that is marked “closed” once paid off. Removing the entire account from your report won’t show evidence of your debt and it looks better to lenders than a closed account. Before you pay off the debt, have the agency send you a mailed letter to your address verifying the terms of the debt being paid and wiped from your record. Once you receive that letter, pay off your bill. If the debt was from a fraudulent charge, dispute it with the agency. As derogatory accounts are removed from your report, your credit score will start to increase.
- Get your credit card balance to a 30% utilization rate. That means that the balance on your credit card should be 30% or less of your credit limit. Much to my surprise credit cards aren’t meant to just swipe willingly. There’s a science to spending money on your credit card. A good rule of thumb to getting your utilization rate down is to work on the credit card with the highest rate first. As long as you keep your bill under the 30% threshold you should be good!
**I use the Credit Karma app to keep an eye on my credit report to make sure that everything is being reported correctly.
Our finances fund our passions, purposes and everyday life. God is a great provider and supplies all of our needs. However, at the same time, we need to properly manage the portion that He’s given us. We can’t just spend/ live recklessly assuming that He’ll always save us and make a way. That’s abusing grace. Having as much financial freedom that you can control will put you in a place where you can follow Christ’s plan more easily without restrictions that could be avoided.