Whether you like it or not, playing the credit score game is sometimes necessary to get the things that you want in life. Even if you have enough money to make major purchases like a home or car, your credit score is actually a bigger factor than whether or not you can afford them. The good news is that even if your credit score isn’t high enough now, there are some things you can do to boost it up. In order to learn how to improve your credit score, you need to know which five factors contribute to that credit score the most.
Payment History – 35%
Making all your payments on time every month is the most important thing you can do to improve your credit score. The good news is that it’s easy to do as long as you have the money, but the bad news is that it takes time to build up your score by paying on time. Some ways to make sure you pay on time include automatic bill pay and/or using a detailed budget. If you think a payment may be late, contact your creditor to try to work out an arrangement. Over time your score will improve based on making on-time payments.
Credit Utilization – 30%
Your credit utilization ratio is defined as the amount of credit you’ve used vs. the amount you have available. That means that if you have a credit card with a limit of $5,000 and a balance of $500, you’re using 10% of your available credit on that particular account. The best way to increase your score in this area is to pay down your debts so you have more available credit. Another trick is to request an increase on your credit lines so that you have more available to you and can lower your utilization ratio. This means asking for more credit without actually using it.
Length of Credit History – 15%
Like your payment history, the best way to build up the length of your credit history is simply by playing the waiting game. You may not want to close your oldest credit account which is factored in as well as the average age of each of your accounts. Paying off the balance of a relatively new account and closing it can help your credit utilization and shouldn’t hurt, and may actually help, the average length of your credit history.
Credit Mix – 10%
Your credit mix score benefits from having a diverse mix of open accounts including credit cards, a mortgage, an auto loan, etc. Just be sure you don’t go crazy opening new accounts because this is only 10% of your credit score, and too many inquiries may hurt you (see next entry).
Inquiries – 10%
The amount of new accounts that have been opened, or applied for, in the last six to 12 months makes up 10% of your credit score. Avoid applying for too many new accounts in a short period of time. You can try asking for an increase on your line of credit on an existing credit card rather than opening a new one, for example.
GCS Credit Union is here to help you improve your credit score. We invite you to become a member and meet with one of our representatives who can help you with a customized solution. Just give us a call at (618) 797-7993 today to get started.
Getting your finances in order has always been a good idea, but it wasn’t until the debut of Cardi B that “makin’ money moves” became a thing. While she may have ended up being a one-hit wonder, making brilliant money moves during your 30s is something that positively impacts you for the rest of your life. Now’s the time to get your financial house in order to propel you to wealth and security during your 40’s and beyond.
Getting Out of Debt
If you’re still in debt, it’s time to get serious about cleaning up the mess. The good news is that you’re not alone, the average 30-something in America has about $40,000 worth of debt. A lot of that debt comes from student loans, which is a hot button issue for the 2020 presidential election. Credit card debt is also a serious issue in America and is one of the biggest obstacles in growing your wealth. The average interest rate on credit cards is 16.7% which means you’re paying way too much to rent money.
One effective way to get out of debt is to make a list of all your debts from smallest to largest and work the snowball method. That means paying off your smallest debt first and paying the minimum on all the rest. Once the first debt is paid off, you can now apply what you were paying on that debt to the next smallest until that one is eliminated, and so forth. Continue to do this until you’ve paid off all your credit cards, student loan, auto debts, etc. You don’t need to pay off your mortgage, but if you can, that’s always a plus. Another way to help manage and get out of debt is a consolidation loan from GCS Credit Union.
Cleaning Up Your Credit
Somewhere along the line, someone decided to create credit scores to determine how worthy you are to borrow more money. The problem is, one of the only ways to increase your credit is to borrow more money, which doesn’t help you get out of debt. The first thing you should do is to sign up for a free credit report and score and then enroll in a credit monitoring service. Assess the damages and report any incorrect information to the major credit bureaus. If you don’t have enough open accounts you can open a credit card through GCS Credit Union, even if you don’t plan on using it (be sure to pay off the balance each month if you do use it). Paying down your open credit card balances will also raise your credit score so the previous tip for getting out of debt can also help you here.
Building Your Emergency Fund
Once you’ve paid off your debts and cleaned up your credit, the next step is to build up your emergency fund. Hopefully, you already have something in there, but if not, it’s not too late. Some experts claim you should have three to six months’ worth of expenses saved, but others recommend up to a year’s worth. More than 60% of Americans don’t have enough to cover an unexpected $1,000 emergency, so you can see why this is so important. The fewer payments you have, the easier it is to squirrel away money. A savings or money market account from GCS Credit Union are great places to save money so you can access it in case of an emergency while accruing interest.
Planning for the Long Term
Your 30s is the time that you’re supposed to be all grown up, and that means planning for your future. Getting out of debt, having a good credit score, and building an emergency fund are all good steps to take. After that, it’s time to focus on your future which includes making retirement plans and investing your money wisely. If your company offers a 401(k) match, you should take advantage of that as much as you can. Owning a home can be a good investment in your future as can increasing your income by advancing your career. It may be a good time to adjust your insurance coverage including adding life insurance to take care of your family after you’re gone.
If you’re in your 30s it’s time to get serious and make money moves to get you where you want to be in the next decade and beyond. GCS Credit Union can help you get to where you want to go and get your finances in order. Visit your nearest location or give us a call today at (618) 797-7993, we would be happy to discuss all your options with you.