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Published on August 13, 2018

How to Improve Credit Score Quickly with These 10 Tactics that Work

How to Improve Credit Score Quickly with These 10 Tactics that Work

It’s been months since you’ve tried improving your credit score but had little success. And since you’re planning to make large purchases soon, you start feeling hopeless.

The problem is you don’t know where to start. With too many resources available, you become paralyzed with fear. But you know you can’t sit still forever. So what’s your next step?

To learn from others who’ve already experienced success.

Take my case, for example, my current credit score is 750+, but this wasn’t always the case. At one point I had no credit and lost over 100 points. Through trial and error, plus learning from others I’ve learned which tactics work.

You don’t need complicated strategies, you only need a few that work. The tactics provided in this list are the same ones I’ve used to increase my credit score. While your credit score won’t improve overnight, it’ll improve quicker than most.

Here are 10 tactics you can use to finally improve your credit score:

1. Revise for any errors

Before you attempt to improve your credit score, check where you stand. Pull a free credit credit report and ensure that all your information is accurate. For example, check for misspellings, wrong addresses and accounts not belonging to you.

If there’s any bad information, contact the credit reporting company. To avoid any prolonged issues, aim to check your credit at least once per year. You’re entitled by Federal law to 1 free credit report from all 3 credit reporting agencies.

Download Credit Karma, or Credit Sesame to track your credit score. This will help you stay motivated as you’re changing bad habits to improve your credit score.

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2. Stop depending on credit

A major reason for having bad credit is due to carrying several credit balances. Instead, focus on paying down all your credit cards and only use one. Save money by consolidating all your credit card balances into a 0% interest credit card.

Once you’ve consolidated all or most of your credit card debt, make more than the minimum payment. Why? Because it can take years for you to pay off those balances making the smallest payment.

It can feel overwhelming keeping track of many credit cards and other expenses. Fortunately, a simple solution is to use apps like Mint to better track your cashflow.

3. Say no to new credit cards

Ironically, the better your credit score is, the more credit offers you’ll receive. But this doesn’t mean that you should open dozens of new credit cards. Limit yourself to only have 1 to 4 credit cards.

If you find that you already have more than 4, focus on eliminating ones you don’t use or have an annual fee. Many companies and stores will try to convince you to open new credit cards with a one-time cash bonus. Don’t fall for it.

4. Leave your bills on autopilot

Because you’re human, you’re bound to be late on payments at some point. A great way to avoid being late is by setting up automatic payments for your bills. Nowadays, most large banks have a “bill pay” feature that allows you to set up recurring payments.

Review your credit billing history and write down bill due dates on a separate sheet of paper. Be sure to have a good understanding of your cash flow to know how much money you’ll have left over each month. Use the remaining amount to make extra credit card payments.

Stay motivated by setting a deadline for when you’d like to be credit card debt free. Then break down your entire credit card balance by month. For example, if you’d like to be debt free in 16 months with a $5,000 credit card balance, make a $313 payment each month ($5,000/16).

Make sure to pick a date that’s attainable and one with payments you’ll be able to afford. It’s better to pay a lesser amount if you’ll be consistent.

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5. Make your bills adapt to you

Everyone’s pay cycle is different, so adjust your bill’s due date to a date convenient for you. If your bill is due on the 1st of the month but you get paid on the 7th, change accordingly.

Sometimes changing your due date is too much of hassle or not possible. In this case, consider using your credit card to make your payments.[1] But, as soon as these payments post to your credit card, be sure to pay them off.

6. Be wary of excessive credit

Keep your credit utilization below 30%. Using more credit gives the impression to companies that you’re struggling financially. Vintagesscore recommends using no more than 30% of your credit utilization.

What’s your credit utilization? Divide your total outstanding debt by your total credit. For example, if you had $3,000 in outstanding debt with a $10,000 credit limit, your credit utilization is 30%. Now review all your credit cards and calculate your credit utilization.

So when do you use your credit cards? Only to make purchases you’ll be able to pay off either immediately or within a month.

Stop depending on your credit card to make daily purchases and use your debit card instead. You’ll be less likely to make impulsive purchases and buy only what you can afford. The best part is you’ll start breaking the bad habits that got you a bad credit score in the first place.

7. Don’t abuse credit inquiries

Be wary of hard credit inquiries. These types of inquiries can bring down your credit score a few points. A few points may not sound like much, but they add up.

Hard credit inquiries are necessary for the different stages in your life but you’ll need to be strategic for when to use them.

Here are some examples of hard inquiries:

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  • Auto loan application
  • Mortgage application
  • Student loan application
  • Personal loan application
  • Apartment application

Plan ahead for big purchases. This way you’ll avoid running many hard inquiries against your credit all at once. The good news is that big purchases aren’t made often, so you’ll have time to prepare.

Set a timeline for when you’d like to make large purchases to know if your credit score is in good standing.

8. Become an authorized user

Start building credit by becoming an authorized user in someone else’s account. As an authorized user, you’ll be able to make purchases with your own credit card. But the owner will still be responsible to make payments on time.

It’ll be challenging to find someone who’d be willing to add you as an authorized user to their account. So start by asking a close relative or friend. Once added, it’s a great way to build creditworthiness over time, so be persistent.

9. Praise your credit history

Don’t close good standing credit cards. Good standing credit cards show lenders you’ve been able to make payments on time for an extended period.

Instead, if you decide to no longer use a credit card, leave it home somewhere out of sight.

Do close credit cards that are charging you annual fees or have a short history. Be sure to do this during a period you won’t be making large purchases.

10. Conquer goals with patience

The truth is building your credit score won’t be easy, but it’s well worth the effort. To stay motivated, write down your main reason for wanting to improve your credit score.

For example, if you want to buy a house, set a concrete date to work towards to. Then start researching what credit score you’ll need to buy your home. From here, break down your goal into daily actionable steps.

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A sample month can look like this:

  • Week 1: Leave credit card at home
  • Week 2: Call banks to inquire about ideal credit score to have
  • Week 3: Create a pay off date for your credit card with the lowest balance
  • Week 4: Save $10 to make a principal payment towards your credit card

Consistency is key. It’s best to start with small goals and make consistent progress. Once you start seeing success aim for bigger goals.

“Most people overestimate what they can do in a day, and underestimate what they can do in a month.” – Matthew Kelly

Make your dream purchases effortlessly

Imagine waking up to a buzzing noise. It’s your smartphone notifying you that your credit score is now 700. You smile, grab your coffee, and start your morning feeling invincible.

It wasn’t easy but with hard work and discipline, you were able to improve your credit score.

Best of all, your finances are now better than ever. You have a budget and stick to it. Amazing isn’t it?

You now have 10 proven strategies to boost your credit score. Try each tactic but remember to have patience. Increasing your credit score won’t happen overnight. But you’ll form life-changing habits along the way.

What are you waiting for? Go get em’ tiger.

Featured photo credit: Pixabay via pixabay.com

Reference

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Christopher Alarcon

"Analyst by day Entrepreneur by night.

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Published on September 17, 2018

How Being Smart With Your Money Leads to Financial Success

How Being Smart With Your Money Leads to Financial Success

Achieving financial success is not something that just happens. Maybe if you win the lottery or something, but for the average person like you or me, it comes from a series of small steps you take over a long period of time.

With each step, you form a new smart money habit. And with each smart money habit, you build towards financial independence.

So what sort of habits can you form to get on that path? Let’s take a look at smart money habits you can start today to get you closer to a financially independent future.

1. Avoid being “penny wise but pound foolish”

It’s tempting to try saving a couple cents here and there when buying small items. However, that’s not where the real money is saved. You’re putting in extra effort for something that doesn’t move the needle.

You get the most bang when you’re able to cut down on your bigger bills. For example, finding a lower interest rate for your mortgage could save you $50+ per month. And cutting your transportation bill by purchasing a cheaper car or taking public transportation can provide large gains as well.

So, look at your recurring expenses such as housing, transportation, and insurance, and see where there’s wiggle room. It’s a much better use of your time than trying to pinch pennies here and there on smaller purchases.

2. When you want something big, wait

Impulsivity can get you in trouble in most aspects of life. Finances are no different.

It’s human nature to see something and want it right then and there. It starts as a kid in the checkout line at the grocery store, and it continues on through adulthood.

We get an idea in our head of something we want, and it’s hard not to go out and get it right then.

A good example is wanting a new car. Perhaps you’ve had your car for several years. It’s crossed the 100k mile mark. Maybe maintenance is due, and you’re annoyed that you need to replace the timing belt or purchase new tires.

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So, you get the itch.

You start digging around online, and you realize you could trade in your current car for something newer and more exciting… all for a few hundred bucks a month. Then you get obsessed.

Here’s where you have to take a step back.

Your newfound obsession is clouding your judgement. Rather than giving into the impulse, wait it out.

Set a timeframe for yourself. Maybe you come back to the decision three months down the road. See if the obsession lasts.

It might, but often, a funny thing happens. Often, you forget about it. And often, you find that the new car wasn’t a need at all.

The impulse faded. And you just saved yourself a ton of money.

3. Live smaller than you can afford

You finally get that big raise. And you want to celebrate – and why not?

You’ve been looking forward to this forever. And after all, it was all due to your hard work.

That’s fine, splurge a little. However, make it a one-time deal and be done.

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Don’t get caught in the trap that just because you’re now making more money, you should spend more.

Too often, people get more money and feel like they that gives them the means to buy a bigger house, a bigger car… you know the drill. Resist.

The fact is that living smaller than what you can afford is one of the fastest ways to build savings.

But if you constantly upgrade as you begin to make more, then you’ll never get ahead. You’ll just build up more debt along the way and have just as little wiggle room as before.

4. Practice smart grocery shopping

Food… it’s one of the biggest portions of any budget. And if you’re not careful, it can be one of the biggest drains on your wallet.

But luckily, there are a few things you can do to ensure that you stay smart with your money when buying groceries.

Create a grocery budget

Set a strict weekly grocery budget. When you know how much you can spend on groceries, you can then plan your weekly menu around it.

Once you know what all you need, you can go shopping and keep a running tally as you shop to ensure you’re on track.

I tend to do this in my head, rounding for each item. However, writing it down as you go would probably work best for most people.

Make a list… and never deviate

Never go to the grocery store without a list. If you go to the store with a ballpark idea in mind, you don’t have a true ide of what you need.

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You’re not well-researched. You don’t know what the sales are. As a result, you’re going to make decisions on the fly.

These impulse decisions will lead to overspending, which will derail your grocery budget.

Eat before going grocery shopping

It’s also important to eat prior to going to the grocery store. Hunger is a powerful force.

If you’re shopping on an empty stomach, everything is going to look good. In particular, you may find a lot of ready-made, processed snacks will look enticing.

After all, you’re hungry now and that food is easily available. So subconsciously, you may lean towards those items.

Unfortunately, not only are those items typically less healthy, but they’re likely more expensive. You pay for convenience.

However, when you eat prior to shopping, then you’ll shop with a clear mind. Your hunger won’t cloud your judgement, influencing you to make poor decisions like a cartoon devil resting on your shoulder whispering in your ear.

This makes it much easier to stick to your grocery plan.

5. Cancel your gym membership

Now that you’re all set on your food, it’s time to get smart about managing your budget in terms of physical fitness. And let’s begin by avoiding the gym. The gym bill, that is.

The average gym membership costs around $60 per month. That’s $720 a year.

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Yet, two out of three gym memberships go unused. That means two-thirds of people who have a gym membership are literally giving away almost a thousand bucks a year. It’s crazy!

I recommend seeking an alternative. One good alternative is to look into fitness streaming services.

Streaming services allow you to stream hundreds of workouts like Insanity and p90x, right in your own home for around $10-20 a month. That’s $40-50 less a month than the average gym membership.

Of course, then there’s the free option. The internet is full of free workouts that you can do on your own with minimal or no equipment.

For example, there’s the Couch to 5K program, that I personally used a decade ago to ease myself from couch potato to running my first 5K race. If I could do it, anyone could.

Then there are free resources like reddit that have limitless information on workouts. The Fitness subreddit has done all the research for you, populating workout tips and detailed workout routines for anyone to use in their wiki.

There are several routines that require no equipment. And you can join in on the subreddit to become part of the community, making it easier for those seeking comraderie and encouragement in their fitness goals. All for free.

It’s baby steps… And baby steps can start now!

I’ve never met anyone that can’t stand to be a bit smarter with their money. And on the flip side, anyone can get smarter with their money. But remember, it doesn’t happen all at once.

Begin by fighting your impulses. Prepare for the week and be smart at the store. And cut monthly expenses like gym memberships that are overpriced and you probably aren’t getting your money’s worth out of anyway.

The devil is in the details. And the details can change your lifestyle and prep you for a financially independent future.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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