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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 June 6, 2019

The Average Retirement Savings and How to Save Wisely

The Average Retirement Savings and How to Save Wisely

Are you on track for retirement?

If not, don’t worry, I’m not sure either. I save each month and hope for the best.

Fortunately, I’m at an age where most people don’t save so I’m ahead of the curve.

But, what if you aren’t in your 20s? What if you’re near retirement and are looking to gauge where you stand?

If so, keep reading. Here’s how to prepare for retirement and save wisely during the process.

What Does the Average American Have Saved for Retirement?

Saving for retirement is tricky.

Tell someone straight out of college to save $10k a year for retirement and it’ll be next to impossible.

Make the same request to someone decades older and they’d be more likely to be able to save this amount. But, a 20-year old college student can be “financially ahead” of someone saving more than them. Why?

Age matters in your financial journey. The younger you are, the more time you have to save and put compound interest to work. As you get older and have more saving power, you’d have less time to put compound interest to work.

Here are the average savings Americans hold by age bracket:

20’s – $16,000

During this stage, most people are paying loans and moving up the corporate ladder. Your best bet during this stage is to focus on eliminating debt and increasing your income. Don’t focus only on getting a high-paying job neither.

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Instead, focus on learning via Podcasts, reading books, and taking specialized courses. Doing this will make you more valuable and give you more career options.

30’s – $45,000

At this stage, you’ve hopefully escaped your entry-level salary and work at a career you enjoy. Your earning power has increased but you now have more obligations. For example, marriage, kids, and a mortgage.

Set a plan to pay off all your debt and focus on eliminating unnecessary expenses. Leverage financial tools like Personal Capital to ensure you’re on track for retirement.

40’s – $63,000

This is the stage where you’re at the prime of your career. Top financial institutions recommend you have at least 2 to 4 times your salary saved up. If you’re falling behind, start maxing out your 401K and Roth IRA accounts.

50’s – $115,000

During your fifties, you’re close to retirement but still, have time to save. You may be helping your kids pay college tuition and other expenses. Since you’re at the peak of your earning power, max out all your retirement accounts.

60’s – $172,000

By this point, you should have about eight times your salary saved up. If not, you’ll depend primarily on social security benefits averaging $1400 per month. Max out all your retirement options as much as possible before retiring.

Ways to Save Money on a Tight Budget

The sad reality is that most Americans aren’t saving enough for retirement.

Even high-earning power isn’t enough to secure one’s financial future. You need to have the discipline to save for retirement while time is in your favor. Don’t wait for you to have a high salary to save, start with having a small budget.

First, get a clear picture of where you stand. Write down a list of “needs” and “wants.” For example, Netflix and Amazon Prime are “wants” and a “cell-phone” is a need.

Use tools like Personal Capital to analyze your spending patterns. Personal Capital allows you to add all your financial data in one place–making it a powerful option to gauge where you stand.

Once you know all your expenses, organize them from highest to lowest expense. When you can’t cut more expenses, call your service providers to negotiate a lower price. If you’re not good at negotiating, use services like Trimm to lower your monthly expenses.

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How to Save Money Each Month

By this point, you know the average amount of money you should have saved for retirement based on your age.

But, breaking this down into monthly goals can be challenging. Here are some rule of thumbs to follow:

Aim to contribute 10%–15% of your salary each paycheck. Review your progress each week.

Why so often? The reality is that life gets in our way and you will have many financial setbacks. Your goal isn’t to be perfect but to get back on track instead.

Reviewing your finances weekly lets you know where you stand with your retirement. This doesn’t have to be a long process either. All it takes is login in Personal Capital to view your net worth and check how much you have saved for retirement.

Turn saving into a game and aim to save more each month. It will get challenging but you’ll get creative and find more ways to save.

Top Money Saving Challenge Tips

To prepare for your financial future and not be another statistic you need to be different.

How?

By adopting new habits that’ll help you become a saving machine. Here are some ways you can save more:

Automatically Contribute Towards Retirement

If you’re working for a company, you can automatically contribute towards your 401k. If you’re not currently contributing more than 10%, make this your goal. Contribute 1% more today and automatically increase this amount a year from now.

Odds are that you’re not going to be negatively affected by contributing 1% more. Many times we spend our money on things we don’t need. Contributing more towards retirement is a great way to secure your financial future.

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Use the Right Tools to Know Where You Stand

Once you’re contributing more towards your retirement accounts, gauge your progress. Make use of finance tracking apps to help you view the big picture of your retirement.

When I’d first signed up for the app Personal Capital, I didn’t know I had a negative net worth. Despite saving thousands of dollars, my debt brought my net worth to the negative. Knowing this motivated me to save more and spend less.

Now, I have a positive net worth. But, it was because I was able to view the big picture using the app. Find out what your net worth is using a finance tracking app and you may surprise yourself.

Bring in Experts to View Your Blind Spots

If you have too little or too much money saved, you should consider hiring financial experts.

Why?

You may need someone to hold you accountable to help you reach your financial goals. Or, you may need help managing your money as effective as possible.

Regardless of the reason, getting help may help improve your financial situation.

Before you hire an expert, find out which areas you need help the most. For example, if you’re constantly overspending, find a debt counselor. If you’re struggling with choosing the best investment options, hire a financial advisor.

Speed up Your Retirement Contribution

After learning how to manage your money well, the next best thing is to earn a higher income.

You’re capped at how much you can save but not much you can earn. Even if your employer isn’t giving you a promotion, you can still take charge of your financial future. How?

By starting a side-business.

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This will be something you’d work on after you’ve finished your day job. Once you start earning income from your side-business, you’ll be financially better off.

The best part is the more work you put into your side-business,[1] the more potential it has to earn more money.

So start a side-business in an area you’re familiar with. For example, if you enjoy writing, do freelance writing for small e-commerce businesses.

Once you’re earning a higher income, you can contribute more towards your retirement. Don’t wait for the right opportunity to secure your financial future, create one.

Reach Financial Freedom with Confidence

What if you were able to retire tomorrow with no problem, all because you’d have enough money saved up and little to no debt left to pay off? How would you feel?

My guess is that you’d feel happy and relieved.

Most Americans are falling behind their retirement goals for many reasons. They’re not prepared, they carry bad money-habits and are thinking short-term.

For you to retire successfully, you need to work backward and adopt better habits. Contribute more towards your 401K and focus on growing your income.

If you do, you’ll save money and pay debt faster.

Don’t beat yourself up if you’re behind your retirement goals. Take the first step today towards a brighter financial future. Isn’t retirement worth the hard work and sacrifice to be at peace?

Featured photo credit: Huy Phan via unsplash.com

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