2016 might be the year you get your credit and your finances back on track. Have you been drowning in debt? Only making the minimum payments? Unable to save any money? There are small changes that you can make this year to put your finances back on the right track.
Here are 10 ways to get your credit in check in 2016.
#1. Review your credit history.
This should definitely be the number one thing you need to do before you start anything. It's hard to reorganize and adjust finances if you have no idea where you are credit wise. Get a copy of your credit history, report and score by one of the three major credit score companies, Experian, Trans Union or Equifax. The usually will allow you to get one free report per year per each of these three companies. If you're really serious about getting on track, get a copy of your credit history from each and then compare. If you find any mistakes, errors, or problems now would be the time to fix it before you go in and speak to a lender, creditors or any other financial advisor. Do what you can on your own to get things corrected and understand where you sit financially.
#2. Debt collection accounts may stay on your credit for up to seven years.
There's not much you can do about this but you can write a letter to future creditors and loan officers explaining the situation. There may be a very good explanation but even if not, you can simply admit the mistake and wait till it is removed. It may or may not affect your ability to get along.
#3. Pay off the smallest debts first.
That big that may seem looming, especially a 20% interest, but if you only have $100 on this card or $200 on that card, it's best to pay those off and get them out of the way so you can focus on the larger ones at a later time. Once you have paid off the smaller once you can redirect that payment into the larger one and create a snowball effect.
#4. If you truly can only make the minimum payments and you are drowning in debt it may be time to contact your creditors or a credit consolidation company.
The information that you provide to a credit assistance company may stay on your credit history for some time but it may also be the only way for you to consolidate, stop the interest, stop harassing phone calls and get things paid off in a timely manner that is more manageable.
#5. Pay all of your debts on time.
This may be a given for you but it may also not be. If you are prone to paying your debts late, those late fees can add up and put red flags on your credit history every time you're late for a payment.
#6. Set up auto pay or payment reminders.
However you can you want to make sure that you are paying those payments on time. Whatever it takes including setting up auto pay, payment reminders on your phone or alerts on your computer when it's time to make a payment.
#7. Speak to a lender.
If you're considering buying a home you'll want to talk to a lender after you've done all of the previous things in order to understand where you are in the grand scope of home ownership. A good lender could offer steps and strategies to getting your finances on track, a payment plan, and how you can save for a down payment. They may offer solutions, tips and strategies to helping you with your finances.
#8. Set small goals for yourself.
Just as in weight loss, setting a goal of losing 100 pounds seems almost impossible but setting a goal of losing 5 pounds is a lot more reasonable. Do the same thing with your finances. Save just the thousand dollars and then leave that there. Work towards the next goal of saving $2000, paying off one bill, not all 10 at the same time etc.
#9. Don't cancel all credit cards.
You might think that paying off a credit card and then canceling it is the best thing but it may actually hurt your credit report. The more open credit you have on credit cards the better your credit history books. If you have two credit cards and are both maxed out it looks far worse than having five credit cards with only two maxed out.
#10. File for bankruptcy only as a last ditch effort.
What we don't recommend this this may be the only way to get out of the pickle you're in. This can allow you to wipe the state clean but it can have a devastating impact on your credit for some time. If you are being sued by credit debtors, your wages are being garnished, you can't pay your bills or you're in danger of losing your home, it's time to make this move.
For more information contact our office today or visit our financing expert Brent Palmer at MyMortgagePDX for more information on debt, credit and applying for a home loan.