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6 Ways To Defeat Bad Credit Score

6 Ways To Defeat Bad Credit Score

Know in advance: it won’t be easy. Improving credit scores are not immediate, and will require a hefty length of time to fix. This is because lenders, institutions, and issuers evaluate your past years’ behavior and actions, taking your entire credit history into account.

Not everyone has great credit, and there’s no shame in that. Of course, life happens, and there are circumstances some people genuinely cannot avoid. It’s a tragic credit scenario that’s happened to many people.

A typical business scenario is in the construction industry where surety bond come into play when contract price exceeds $100k.

“A surety (insurance company) bond is necessary to make sure that business owners (principal) performing the task follow specific requirements as laid in contract by the oblige (entity).”

Surety will weigh the risks of “taking you on” depending on your credit score – and decide whether or not your credit is worth the hassle of issuing you a bond or not. So, your credit score will determine the fate of your business.

If your credit score is above 750… congratulations! You have excellent credit. Any account below 650 is generally considered to be less-than-appealing to issuers and lenders.

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At the lower end of the spectrum, people around the 300-600 mark aren’t doing so well. Where do you fall?

Below are several ways to help you increase your credit score so you can get back in your lender’s good graces.

1. Check Your Score

Not knowing what is happening on your credit reports is like not knowing what you spend your money on. It is simply bad practice, and spells disaster for your bottom line. Be sure to check for free annual credit reports every few months or so and stay up to date.

Something to keep in mind when you’re reviewing your scores is to see how much revolving credit you have, versus how much you actually use. The lower the percentage – the better your credit rating.

Please be sure to see if your credit card issuer accepts multiple payments over the course of a month. Certain issuers report the balance on your statement to the bureau. So, if you pay full balances every month, only one balance will be actually reported.

2. Keep Calm And Relax

No matter how annoying it may be to see negative information every time you get your credit reports, keep in mind that this information often has less impact on your credit scores over time.

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Negative information on your reports have less impact on your credit scores the more time passes. Barrett Burns, CEO of VantageScore, states that just because information stays for seven years, doesn’t mean that information is relevant each year.

For example, let’s suggest you miss a payment (which probably happened – it’s sometimes impossible to keep up to date in today’s world). Your score may drop, but will take around a year and a half for you to recover fully – falling far short of the “7 Year Fear”.

In fact, it’s generally wiser to focus on your good debt (that is, debt that you’ve handled well and paid). Focus on your good payments, it will outweigh your bad scores. Keep in mind that bad scores are, well, bad, but they are not a doomsday scenario that many people make them out to be.

Credit card expert John Ulzheimer suggests keeping old debt and good accounts on for as long as they are possibly allowed. The takeaway: do not close old accounts, whether you have a good or bad score.

3. Don’t Open Too Many Accounts

Opening new accounts rapidly destroys your credit. This is because newer accounts lower your average account’s age – widening the overall effect of your scores. Not to mention that it looks risky to credit card issuers (to them, they think you’re a scam artist for opening up new accounts).

Plus, new accounts—in all likelihood—won’t raise your credit score.

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4. Don’t Close Unused Accounts

Regardless of your good debt, bad debt, and credit score, closing accounts won’t remove your bad debt. We can equate this to asking your high school to remove your grades from report cards.

Closed accounts still show up on your overall credit report, and do more harm than good, as it shows issuers that you’re unreliable.

Closing unused credit cards accounts is an ineffective strategy for raising your scores. It simply won’t. In fact, many people have had their credit scores lowered by doing exactly that.

5. Go Fully Automatic

One way of doing this is by setting up auto-payment, or payment reminders so that you never miss them. Similar to setting up automatic payment for bills to be withdrawn from your bank account on certain dates.

I personally have a hard time remembering important matters such as these, even in my daily life. I cannot stress enough how important weekend reminders (even daily reminders) via Google Calendar are.

If you’re wary of going fully automatic, build a schedule for yourself using task management software such as Trello or Asana. I recommend Trello, as it’s an intuitive and easy-to-use system for managing tasks and to-do lists. It fits my on-the-go needs and lets me adjust my schedule accordingly.

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6. Don’t Be A Risk

For whatever reason, whatsoever, do not risk damaging your score. This means trying your hardest not to miss any payment, or suddenly paying in smaller amounts, or infrequently charging more. Maintain a good score by being consistent with your payment dates and payment amounts.

However, taking cash advances might make your card issuer wary without hurting your score. Know this: charging businesses to your card that give second doubt to your money-handling abilities also paint you as a suspicious client.

Dave Jones, former president of the Association of Independent Consumer Credit Counseling Agencies (AICCCA) warns that you do not, under any circumstance, give the impression that you’re a risk. As with anything in life.

Conclusion

Managing your bad credit scores isn’t as troublesome as many people make it out to be. All it requires is a determination and will to make your payments, consistently, as you agreed you would; not presenting yourself as a risk; adamantly refusing the temptation to open several accounts or close old ones; keeping your sanity as you handle your credit score.

Featured photo credit: via pixabay.com via pixabay.com

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Last Updated on September 2, 2020

How to Set Financial Goals and Actually Meet Them

How to Set Financial Goals and Actually Meet Them

Personal finances can push anyone to the point of extreme anxiety and worry. Easier said than done, planning finances is not an egg meant for everyone’s basket. That’s why most of us are often living pay check to pay check. But did anyone tell you that it is actually not a tough task to meet your financial goals?

In this article, we will explore ways to set financial goals and actually meet them with ease.

4 Steps to Setting Financial Goals

Though setting financial goals might seem to be a daunting task, if one has the will and clarity of thought, it is rather easy. Try using these steps to get you started.

1. Be Clear About the Objectives

Any goal without a clear objective is nothing more than a pipe dream, and this couldn’t be more true for financial matters.

It is often said that savings is nothing but deferred consumption. Therefore, if you are saving today, then you should be crystal clear about what it’s for. It could be anything, including your child’s education, retirement, marriage, that dream vacation, fancy car, etc.

Once the objective is clear, put a monetary value to that objective and the time frame. The important point at this step of goal setting is to list all the objectives that you foresee in the future and put a value to each.

2. Keep Goals Realistic

It’s good to be an optimistic person but being a Pollyanna is not desirable. Similarly, while it might be a good thing to keep your financial goals a bit aggressive, going beyond what you can realistically achieve will definitely hurt your chances of making meaningful progress.

It’s important that you keep your goals realistic, as it will help you stay the course and keep you motivated throughout the journey.

3. Account for Inflation

Ronald Reagan once said: “Inflation is as violent as a mugger, as frightening as an armed robber and as deadly as a hitman.” This quote sums up what inflation could do your financial goals.

Therefore, account for inflation[1] whenever you are putting a monetary value to a financial objective that is far into the future.

For example, if one of your financial goal is your son’s college education, which is 15 years from now, then inflation would increase the monetary burden by more than 50% if inflation is a mere 3%. Always account for this to avoid falling short of your goals.

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4. Short Term Vs Long Term

Just like every calorie is not the same, the approach to achieving every financial goal will not be the same. It’s important to bifurcate goals into short-term and long-term.

As a rule of thumb, any financial goal that is due in next 3 years should be termed as a short-term goal. Any longer duration goals are to be classified as long-term goals. This bifurcation of goals into short-term vs long-term will help in choosing the right investment instrument to achieve them.

By now, you should be ready with your list of financial goals. Now, it’s time to go all out and achieve them.

How to Achieve Your Financial Goals

Whenever we talk about chasing any financial goal, it is usually a two-step process:

  • Ensuring healthy savings
  • Making smart investments

You will need to save enough and invest those savings wisely so that they grow over a period of time to help you achieve goals.

Ensuring Healthy Savings

Self-realization is the best form of realization, and unless you decide what your current financial position is, you aren’t heading anywhere.

This is the focal point from where you start your journey of achieving financial goals.

1. Track Expenses

The first and the foremost thing to be done is to track your spending. Use any of the expense tracking mobile apps to record your expenses. Once you start doing it diligently, you will be surprised by how small expenses add up to a sizable amount.

Also categorize those expenses into different buckets so that you know which bucket is eating most of your pay check. This record keeping will pave the way for cutting down on un-wanted expenses and pumping up your savings rate.

If you’re not sure where to start when tracking expenses, this article may be able to help.

2. Pay Yourself First

Generally, savings come after all the expenses have been taken care of. This is a classic mistake when setting financial goals. We pay ourselves last!

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Ideally, this should be planned upside down. We should be paying ourselves first and then to the world, i.e. we should be taking out the planned saving amount first and manage all the expenses from the rest.

The best way to actually implement this is to put the savings on automatic mode, i.e. money flowing automatically into different financial instruments (mutual funds, retirement accounts, etc) every month.

Taking the automatic route will help release some control and compel us to manage what’s left, increasing the savings rate.

3. Make a Plan and Vow to Stick With It

Learning to create a budget is the best way to get around the uncertainty that financial plans always pose. Decide in advance how spending has to be organized

Nowadays, several money management apps can help you do this automatically.

At first, you may not be able to stick to your plans completely, but don’t let that become a reason why you stop budgeting entirely.

Make use of technology solutions you like. Explore options and alternatives that let you make use of the available wallet options, and choose the one that suits you the most. In time, you will get accustomed to making use of these solutions.

You will find that they make it simpler for you to follow your plan, which would have been difficult otherwise.

4. Make Savings a Habit and Not a Goal

In the book Nudge, authors Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein advocate that, in order to achieve any goal, it should be broken down into habits since habits are more intuitive for people to adapt to.

Make savings a habit rather than a goal. While it might seem to be counterintuitive to many, there are some deft ways of doing it. For example:

  • Always eat out (if at all) during weekdays rather than weekends. Weekends are more expensive.
  • If you are a travel buff, try to travel during off-season. You’ll spend significantly less.
  • If you go shopping, always look out for coupons and see where can you get the best deal.

The key point is to imbibe the action that results in savings rather than on the savings itself, which is the outcome. Focusing on the outcome will bring out the feeling of sacrifice, which will be harder to sustain over a period of time.

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5. Talk About It

Sticking to the saving schedule (to achieve financial goals) is not an easy journey. There will be many distractions from those who are not aligned with your mission.

Therefore, in order to stay the course, surround yourself with people who are also on the same bandwagon. Daily discussions with them will keep you motivated to move forward.

6. Maintain a Journal

For some people, writing helps a great deal in making sure that they achieve what they plan.

If you are one of them, maintain a proper journal, where you write down your goals and also jot down the extent to which you managed to meet them. This will help you in reviewing how far you have come and which goals you have met.

When you have a written commitment on paper, you are going to feel more energized to follow the plan and stick to it. Moreover, it is going to be a lot easier for you to track your progress.

Making Smart Investments

Savings by themselves don’t take anyone too far. However, savings, when invested wisely, can do wonders.

1. Consult a Financial Advisor

Investment doesn’t come naturally to most of us, so it’s wise to consult a financial advisor.

Talk to him/her about your financial goals and savings, and then seek advice for the best investment instruments to achieve your goals.

2. Choose Your Investment Instrument Wisely

Though your financial advisor will suggest the best investment instruments, it doesn’t hurt to know a bit about the common ones, like a savings account, Roth IRA, and others.

Just like “no one is born a criminal,” no investment instrument is bad or good. It is the application of that instrument that makes all the difference[2].

As a general rule, for all your short-term financial goals, choose an investment instrument that has debt nature, for example fixed deposits, debt mutual funds, etc. The reason for going for debt instruments is that chances of capital loss is less compared to equity instruments.

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3. Compounding Is the Eighth Wonder

Einstein once remarked about compounding:

“Compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world. He who understands it, earns it… He who doesn’t… Pays it.”

Use compound interest when setting financial goals

    Make friends with this wonder kid. The sooner you become friends with it, the quicker you will reach closer to your financial goals.

    Start saving early so that time is on your side to help you bear the fruits of compounding.

    4. Measure, Measure, Measure

    All of us do good when it comes to earning more per month but fail miserably when it comes to measuring the investments and taking stock of how our investments are doing.

    If we don’t measure progress at the right times, we are shooting in the dark. We won’t know if our saving rate is appropriate or not, whether the financial advisor is doing a decent job, or whether we are moving closer to our target.

    Measure everything. If you can’t measure it all yourself, ask your financial advisor to do it for you. But do it!

    The Bottom Line

    Managing your extra money to achieve your short and long-term financial goals

    and live a debt-free life is doable for anyone who is willing to put in the time and effort. Use the tips above to get you started on your path to setting financial goals.

    More Tips on Financial Goals

    Featured photo credit: Micheile Henderson via unsplash.com

    Reference

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