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The Best Ways to Build Credit Fast

The Best Ways to Build Credit Fast

Good credit is an important part of life and for those young adults who need student loans for college, their first car, or a new home, the lack of a credit history can be a problem. There are quick ways to build good credit and establish a positive credit history. Responsible financial habits, when established early, can ease the transition to adulthood and financial independence.

Here are the best ways to build a good credit score fast.

Why You Need To Build Credit

As a young adult or recent college graduate you may be wondering why it is important to build credit in your early 20’s. If you needed financial aid and student loans to get through college then you likely had your parents co-sign your debt, meaning the financial institution who issued your funds was willing to overlook your lack of credit history. However, as the real world looms and your parents are no longer offering you a financial cushion, getting credit can prove to be more challenging.

Due to the lack of financial education in the United States, many millennials who are just starting out in the world may not realize how crucial a good credit score history is to financial security and independence. Here are just a few ways your credit score is used and why you need to build your credit fast.

  • Credit Card Companies– Credit card issuers use your credit history to approve or decline applications. Once you are approved, a credit score can determine how high or low your interest rates are. Similarly, if you need more credit to purchase higher-priced items, you may need a credit limit increase.
  • Home Loans and Mortgages– These are likely the largest purchases you’ll ever make. The interest you pay on your mortgage will amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars, depending on where you live. Because of the amount of a home loan, a higher interest rate due to a low credit score or bad history can cost home buyers tens, if not hundreds, or even thousands more in interest payments.
  • Auto Loans– When buying a new or used car, most adults often finance their purchase. The final amount you pay for this depreciating asset should be as low as possible to help you divert extra cash to other activities that actually create wealth, such as investing. Your credit score and history may either earn you a no-interest loan or overburden you with higher monthly rates.
  • Getting A Job– Many employers check your credit score to determine your financial habits. The idea is that a financially responsible individual who manages his/her own finances well is likely to be a better employee.
  • Car Insurance Coverage– No one likes paying insurance premiums, yet auto insurance is mandatory in the United States. Furthermore, statisticians have found a positive relationship between people with high credit scores and safe driving. For this reason, the best car insurance companies in most U.S. states check your credit score to determine your insurance rates, offering a discount to drivers with strong credit.
  • Business Loans– Buying a business tends to be the surest way to financial independence in the United States. However, as a first-time business buyer most purchases require the cooperation of the Small Business Administration (SBA). SBA loans often require a sizable as well as a strong credit history to get approved. Having no or bad credit can be the difference between the ability to buy a business and being forced to pass up an incredible financial opportunity.

Now that you know why you should care about building up credit, let’s discuss how to actually do it!

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It Starts With Your Job

In order to build credit and establish a history, an individual must have a stable income and for most people that means getting and keeping a job. Whether the job is part or full time, an employment history is the first step to building credit.

It is important to remain employed at the same job for at least a year unless, in the case of students, the job is temporary or seasonal. Jumping from job to job causes your income to be unstable, making it difficult to get credit.

Open Bank Accounts

High school and college students can establish checking and savings accounts at local banks or credit unions. While having bank accounts will not improve your credit score, it will establish you as a customer and may make it easier to obtain credit through your financial institution.

It is also important to maintain the accounts in good standing since overdrafts can have a negative impact on your relationships with the bank. With a savings account and a decent income most people over age eighteen can obtain a secured credit card or loan.

Apply for Secured Credit Cards

Debit cards, which are issued with checking accounts, do not report to credit bureaus and will not build your credit history. A secured credit card has a credit limit equal to the amount in a savings account that is used to ensure the principal of the loan will be paid if the account holder defaults on the payments.

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These credit card companies make regular reports to credit agencies and can improve your credit score and establish a payment history. The money in the savings account that secures the card cannot be withdrawn unless the card is paid off and cancelled.

Like other credit cards, secured cards have monthly payments that must be made on time to build a good credit history. The best strategy may be to use the card only for essential monthly expenses and to pay it in full each month.

Interest rates on secured cards can be high and by paying the card off each month, cardholders avoid paying interest while their timely payments improve their credit score and build a good credit history.

Consider Secured Loans

The first loan many young adults obtain is a car loan which is a type of secured loan. The loan is secured by the value of the car and if the debtor does not make the payments when they are due, the lender repossesses the vehicle.

As a rule, banks and credit unions offer lower interest rates on car loans than finance companies. Plus, being a customer of the bank you get the loan from increases your chances of being approved.

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Paying off a car loan is a great way to build a credit history fast, but it is important to keep monthly payments affordable. Include the cost of full coverage car insurance when deciding how much you can spend on a new or used car. Lenders require full coverage as a condition of the loan.

Getting Unsecured Credit Cards

Once you have established a good payment history for about one year you can apply for unsecured credit cards. If you already have a relationship with a bank, you are more likely to be approved for unsecured credit through their credit department.

The credit limit on unsecured cards is based on your credit score, payment history, income, and outstanding debt. Just as with secured cards, it is important to pay these cards in full each month to show responsible spending habits.

Shop around before applying for a credit card. Different cards may have different interest rates and some have rewards programs that offer cash back on everyday purchases. You should also consider the fees that apply to the cards since some have annual fees while others may charge high transaction fees, especially for cash advances.

Choose a card that fits your spending and lifestyle habits. It may be better to apply for a card with a higher interest rate and a good rewards program if you intend to pay off the full balance every month.

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Automate Your Payments

If you forget to pay your bills on time it can hurt your credit history. Automating payments insures that all your bills get paid when they are due. There are two options for making automatic payments. You can either:

  • authorize your bank to release the funds from your checking account on receipt of an electronic bill, or
  • you can charge the payments to a credit card and pay off the credit card bill each month.

Using a credit card will improve your credit score and help build your credit history as you pay your regular monthly expenses.

Do Not Apply for Multiple Loans or Credit Cards

If you apply for several credit lines at once, it will have a negative impact on your credit score and can hurt your credit history. It is better to apply for one line of credit and allow some time between credit applications.

Each time a lending institution pulls your credit report, it lowers your credit score unless you are comparison shopping for a single loan (e.g. auto loan) and apply through all the lenders within a 30 day period. This would be considered a single inquiry for your credit report.

Instead of applying for new credit cards, request an increase of the credit limit on the cards you already use. Nearly one third of your credit score is based on the ratio of your available credit to your actual debt. If you have a high credit limit with a low debt balance, it raises your credit score.

Even if you do not plan to use the additional credit, it is smart to apply for the increase since it will improve your score and credit history.

Final Word

It usually takes between one and three years of good payment habits to establish a credit history. A good credit score can help young adults who are seeking full time employment and housing for the first time since employers and landlords often pull credit reports when considering applicants. If you build your credit history fast and early, you will have a good head start on your financial future.

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Gary Dekmezian

Entrepreneur

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Last Updated on January 2, 2019

How Personal Finance Software Helps You Get More Out of Your Money

How Personal Finance Software Helps You Get More Out of Your Money

Do you know what mental health experts point to as the biggest cause of stress in the United States today? If you said “money,” then ding, ding, we have a winner!

Three out of four adults today report feeling stressed out about money at least part of the time. People are either worried about not having enough money or whether they’re putting the money they do have to use in the best possible way.

Your money is either in charge of you or you’re in charge of it, there’s no middle ground. Using some type of personal finance software can help alleviate some of that money stress and better allow you to manage your money effectively. Without it, you may just be setting yourself up for constant financial worry. Life is already tough enough and there’s no need to make it more difficult by simply hoping your money issues will all work out in your favor. Hint: they won’t.

This guide will help you to understand how personal finance software can better assist with both accomplishing long term financial goals and managing day-to-day aspects of life.

Whether it’s tracking the savings plan for your child’s college fund or making sure you won’t be in the red with the month’s grocery budget, personal finance software keeps all this information in one convenient place.

What Exactly is Personal Finance Software?

Think of it like the dashboard in your car. You have a speedometer to tell you how fast you’re going, an odometer to tell you how far you’ve traveled, and then other gauges to tell you things like how much gas is in the tank and your engine temperature. Personal finance software is essentially the same thing for your money.

When you install this software on your computer, tablet, or smartphone, it helps to track your money — how much is going in, how much is going out, and its growth. Most personal finance software programs will display your budget, spending, investments, bills, savings accounts, and even retirement plans, levels of debt, and credit score.

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How It Leads to Financial Improvement

It shouldn’t come as a surprise, but people who regularly monitor their finances end up wealthier than those who don’t. When you were a kid, keeping track of all of your money in a porcelain piggy bank was pretty easy. As we get older, though, our money becomes spread out across things like car payments, mortgages, retirement funds, taxes, and other investments and debts. All of these things make keeping track of our money a lot more complicated.

Some types of personal finance software can help make things a little less complicated, setting you up to meet financial goals and taking away some of the stress associated with money.

Even if you already have a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) some type of personal finance software can be of great benefit. Whereas CFPs focus on the big picture of your money, they don’t handle the day-to-day aspects that determine your overall financial health.

It’s also not nearly as complicated as you might think and can take out a lot of the tedium that comes with doing everything on an Excel spreadsheet or with a pad and pencil.

Types of Personal Finance Software

When it comes to personal finance software, it generally fits into two categories: tax preparation and money management.

Tax preparation software such as Turbo Tax and H&R Block’s software can help with everything from filing income taxes to IRS rules and regulations and even estate plans. Plus, there’s the benefit of filing online and getting your refund check a lot faster than if you were to mail off your forms after waiting in line at the post office.

For the purpose of this article, however, will be focusing more on the personal finance software that aids with money management.

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Money management personal finance software will help you to see the health of your cash flow, pay down debt, forecast for expenses and savings, track investments, pay bills, and do a host of other things that 30 years ago would have practically required a team of accountants.

When to Use Personal Finance Software

So far we’ve gone over what exactly personal finance software is and how it can be a benefit to your money. The next logical step in this whole equation is determining when it should be used and how is the best way to go about getting started using it.

Below are four of the most common and practical ways to use personal finance software. If all or any of these apply to you and your money, then downloading some type of personal finance software is going to be a smart move.

1. You Have Multiple Accounts

There’s a good chance that when it comes to your money, it’s in more than one place. Sure, you probably have a checking account, but you may also have a savings account, money market account, and retirement accounts such as an IRA or 401k.

If you’re like the average American, you probably have two to three credit cards as well. Fifty percent of Americans also don’t have loyalty to just one bank and spread their money across multiple banks.

Rather than spending hours typing in every detail of every account you have into a spreadsheet, many programs allow you to easily import your account information. This will help to eliminate any mistakes and give you a bird’s eye view of everything at once.

2. You Want to Automate Some or All of Your Payments

Please don’t say that you’re still writing out paper checks and dropping each bill in the mailbox. While it’s noble that you’re doing your part to keep postal workers employed, we’re 18 years into the 21st century and you can literally pay every bill online now.

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There’s no need to log into every account you have and type in your routing number either.

With personal finance software you can schedule automatic payments and transfers between all of your imported accounts. Automatic transfers will help to make sure you have the necessary funds in the right account to ensure all bills are paid on the appropriate date. Late fees are annoying and do nothing but cost you money. It’s time that you said goodbye to them once and for all.

3. You Need to Streamline Your Budget

Perhaps the best feature of personal finance software is that it allows you track everything going in and out of your virtual wallet.

Nearly every brand of personal finance software out there has easy-to-read graphs and charts that allow you track every cent you spend or earn, should you choose. You might be pretty amazed when you see just how much you spent on eating out last month or if you splurged a little more than you should have on Christmas gifts last year.

Every successful business on the planet has a budget and using personal finance software can help you trim the fat on your spending in ways that affect your everyday life.

4. You Have Specific Goals to Meet

Maybe it’s paying off debt or saving for up something like a European vacation. Whatever your financial goal is, whether it’s long-term or short-term, personal finance software programs are one of the savviest ways to go about reaching those goals.

You can do everything from set spending alerts to notify you when you’re over budget to automating what percentage of your paycheck goes to things like retirement investments. The personal finance software that you choose should show you exactly how close you are to hitting those goals at any given time.

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How to Get Started

From AceMoney to Mint and Quicken, there ’s no shortage of personal finance software apps out there. Many of these programs are free to download and will allow you to pay bills, invest, monitor your net worth and credit profile, and even get a loan with the swipe of a finger.

Other programs may only offer you limited services and will require a one-time fee or subscription to unlock all that they offer. These fees can often vary from as little as two dollars to 50 bucks a month.

It’s best to start off with the free version and then gauge whether you’re able to accomplish everything you’d like or if it’s worth exploring one of the paid options. Often times the subscription programs come with assistance from financial planning and investment experts — so that can be a real benefit.

When deciding which personal finance software program to use, it’s also important to look at how many accounts you wish to monitor. Certain programs limit the number of accounts you can add. Be sure that if you have checking, credit card, and investment accounts to monitor, that you choose a service that can monitor them all.

Finally, when looking around for the right personal finance software that meets your needs, make sure that you’re comfortable with the program’s interface. It shouldn’t be expected that you recognize every single feature instantly, but if the features don’t seem readable and manageable to you, then you’re not as likely to use it and get the full benefits.

Final Thoughts

Personal finance software can go a long way in helping you to take control of your money and meeting your financial goals. It’s important to note, however, that some focus more on budgeting and expense tracking while others prioritize investing portfolios and income taxes. Explore several different programs and read reviews to find the one that’s right for you.

In this day and age, managing one’s personal finances in a secure manner that allows the user to have a real-time visual representation of their money is easier than ever before. With the numerous applications that are out there — both free and subscription-based — there’s no reason that every person can’t take control of their money and ensure they’re making smart money moves.

Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

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