Now that we’re in adulthood, not only is the daunting task of paying bills a very real thing, but credit scores are also a major component in the real world. Many make bad or risky decisions in young adulthood and end up paying for it later with a bad credit score. The good news is that there are ways to improve your credit score so that ultimately, your life won’t be affected by the bad decisions forever!
1. Download Credit Karma! Whether you download the app, or just visit the website on a PC, this is a huge first step that can be extremely helpful. Credit Karma is free, gives you your credit score, shows all of the things that are negatively affecting your credit score, and gives tips on how to raise your score. It’s updated monthly, so you’ll have an accurate number to go by and you can watch as you get closer to your goal. Seeing the bar and the number go up is extremely rewarding!
2. Stop spending money you don’t have. This is important. In order to improve your credit score, you absolutely need to stop digging a hole and bringing your credit score down. Stay within your means, draft a successful budget, and stick to it! Sticking to a budget will help free up some additional money that can be put towards paying off debt and at the end of the day, paying off debt is the best way to improve your credit score.
3. Pay down small debts before large debts. The reasoning behind this is pretty simple, especially if you’re wanting to improve your credit score quickly for a purchase you’re anticipating that requires a higher credit score. Paying down a smaller debt and eliminating it will improve your credit score immediately. If you focus on the larger debts first, it will take much longer and it will be a slow climb.
4. Ask for a lower rate on your current credit cards. Asking for a lower rate doesn’t necessarily guarantee a lower rate, but there’s absolutely no harm in asking. If you’ve been a long time customer who makes payments on time, many credit card companies are willing to lower your rate! This would definitely help to improve your credit score because you’ll be able to pay more towards your actual debt rather than interest.
5. Think about getting a small limit credit card if you are building from the bottom. Often times, if your credit score gets too low, it seems impossible to rebuild because most companies won’t offer you a credit card to get a chance to do so. Credit Karma gives suggestions on cards that you may qualify for that have a low limit, so that’s an option, but beware because they usually have high interest. If this is something you’re interested in doing, make sure to pay it off every month to avoid the high interest!
Ultimately, when you begin to improve your credit score, it can seem like a slow process, but it will improve over time. Personally, I recommend cash only all the time if possible. But, for those big purchases like a home or car, a credit score is a must. Work as best you can to improve as much as you can and once you do raise that score, shop smart and spend wisely to ensure it stays in check!