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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

Finance Analyst and Founder of the Financially Well Off Blog & Podcast

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Last Updated on July 10, 2020

The Definitive Guide to Get out of Debt Fast (and Forever)

The Definitive Guide to Get out of Debt Fast (and Forever)

Debt can feel crushing, like a weight that is always weighing you down. Looking at those numbers, it can feel as if you’ll never get out from under it. However, if you really want to learn how to get out of debt, it is possible with a great deal of focus and self-control.

Getting out of debt isn’t impossible. Like any big goal, all that it takes is an action plan to identify where you are and creating a plan to zero out your debt.

Identifying All of Your Debts

The first part of paying off your debt is getting a complete picture of what you owe. When you have everything written out in front of you, it makes it much easier to create an action plan. Depending on how much you owe, it might also help you realize it’s not as bad you might have originally thought.

Here’s how you can get started identifying your debts:

1. Own Your Debt

Before you start identifying all of your debts, take a moment to process that you have debt but want to get out of it.

Forgive yourself for any past mistakes, missed payments, or overspending. It might be painful to accept how much debt you have at first, but you must own it.

2. Make a Debt Tracker

It’s astonishing how few people ever created a tracker to understand their total debts. Most likely, it comes from not wanting to accept the guilt of having debt, but, if avoided, it can make it nearly impossible to get out of debt.

Open up a new Google or Microsoft Excel sheet and list out all of your debts. Start with the name of the creditor, interest rates, total balance, loan term length (if any), and the minimum amount due each payment. This will include student loans, credit cards, and any other type of debt owed.

3. Get Your Debt Number

Once you’ve made your debt tracker and taken the other steps, identify your total payoff number. This is crucial, as you will have a starting point and a clear goal that you are trying to achieve.

Prioritizing Your Debts

All debt is not created equal. It’s imperative to understand that there are different types of debt.

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1. Understand Bad and Good Debts

Bad debts are usually paying for things you want instead of always need. While there might be some emergencies that max out your credit cards, often times it’s excessive spending[1].

There are three main types of bad debt:

  • Credit Card Debt: The average American household owes over $16,000 in credit card debt!
  • Auto Loan Debt: According to CNBC , the average auto loan in the US is $30,032!
  • Consumer Loan Debt: Consumer loan debt isn’t as common as credit card and auto loan debt, but it’s still considered bad as interest rates are usually between 10-28%.

Good debt is identified as investments in your future. Here are three common types of good debt:

  • Student Loan Debt
  • Mortgage Loan
  • Business Loans

2. Decide Which Debt to Pay off First

Once you know each type of debt and their interest rates, you can begin to pay off debt quickly.

Focus on paying off bad debt first, regardless of if it is a credit card or auto loan. Start by paying off the loan with the highest interest rate first.

If you have several credit cards with different interest rates, you want to focus on the one with a higher APR. You will actually save more money by eliminating the card with the highest interest rate.

3. Don’t Pay the Minimum Amount

Paying the minimum amount digs you into a hole as interest rates will offset your payment. Even a small amount more than the minimum can help you pay off debt much faster.

Removing Obstacles to Pay off Debt Quickly

Creating a debt tracker and prioritizing a plan is simple, but avoiding temptation can be difficult.

1. Set a Reminder to Track Your Debt

“If you can’t measure it you can’t manage it.” -Peter Drucker

It’s so important to track your debt to ensure that you get it paid off quickly. Similar to working out and measuring your results, you need to track your debt constantly. Start with a weekly reminder, where you sign on and log your updated number. Did you increase, decrease, or stay the same?

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Regularly tracking your student loan balance can be incredibly motivating, as well. You will get a huge confidence boost each time you see your total debt amount decreases.

Set weekly and monthly goals so you can have short term wins and keep the momentum going.

2. Hide Your Credit Cards

If your biggest debt is credit cards, you need to eliminate temptation and remove them from your wallet.

Some people have gone to extreme measures by freezing their credit cards. Why? This would create an ice block around your card, which would require you to chip away at it slowly. This will give you time to think if it’s the best idea to buy that thing you’re about to buy.

3. Automate Everything

Willpower can be a huge downfall to paying off your debt. By automating your bills each month, you will ensure that willpower isn’t involved.

4. Plan Ahead

Getting out of debt will require some sacrifices, but with enough planning, you can make it work.

For example, if you know that you have a friend’s birthday or family dinner coming up, plan ahead for the costs. Whether you need to cut back on spending the week before, pick up a side job, or meet them after dinner, do what is needed.

5. Live Cheaply

The only way to get out of debt is to make some sacrifices on your spending habits. Find ways to save money each month so you can apply that amount to your outstanding debts. Here are some ways to save money each month:

  • Live with roommates
  • Cook dinners and prepare lunches for work instead of eating out
  • Cut cable and choose Netflix or Amazon Prime
  • Take public transit or bike to work

Finding the Lowest Interest Rates

The higher your interest rates, the harder (and longer) it will take you to pay off any debt.

If possible, you want to find ways to lower your interest rates to help get out of debt quickly. Here’s how you can get started:

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1. Maintain a High Credit Score

Your credit score will have a large impact on your ability to refinance your loans and receive a lower interest rate. If you have a low credit score, it’s unlikely you will be able to refinance your loans. Use these credit tips to increase and maintain an excellent score:

  • Never miss a payment
  • Don’t exceed 30% of your credit limit
  • Don’t sign up for more than one card at once
  • Limit hard inquires, like auto-loans and new credit cards
  • Monitor frequently with free credit-tracking software

2. Find Balance Transfer Offers

Start by opening a free account on credit.com. Credit.com offers you the chance to open a free account and see what type of balance transfer offers you can receive. Some of your existing credit cards might already have 0% or lower APR balance transfer offers available.

Contact each of your credit card providers to ask about lowering your rate for a one-time balance transfer offer[2].

If you do take advantage of this option, make sure that you use a balance transfer and not a cash advance. Cash advances have a ton of high interest fees (15-25%, depending on your credit card) and will only compound your debt problem.

How to Get Rid of Debt Forever

Setting up a plan, removing temptations, and getting the lowest interest rates is the first step to get out of debt.

1. Keep Monitoring and Adjusting

Once you have a plan, don’t get comfortable. Track your debt payoff plan and make the necessary adjustments when needed.

Monitor your credit scores with a free site like CreditKarma. The higher your credit score climbs, the more likely you will be to secure a new, lower-interest loan.

2. Earn More Money

There are only so many ways to save money. Instead of clipping another coupon or making sacrifices for your morning coffee, find ways to earn more money!

Think about it…it is much easier to find ways to earn an extra $1,000 per month than find $1,000 to cut from your budget.

Here are some examples of ways to earn more money:

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Talk to Your Boss

Have a conversation with your boss about current salary and/or commission rates. If you’re not satisfied or want a change, don’t be afraid to look around at other positions. Some of them might even have a student loan debt reimbursement plan!

Start a Side Hustle

This could be coaching students on the weekends, driving for Uber, or taking paid online surveys. There are tons of ways to make money outside your 9-5. Now that you have a clear plan to pay off your debts, you’ll be more motivated than ever to figure out creative new ways to earn money.

Build an Online Business

There are so many websites and blogs that earn money from ads, affiliates, and other online products. Find your niche and get started.

3. Celebrate Your Wins

As you progress in your debt payoff journey, don’t forget to celebrate your wins. You need to always reward yourself for the hard work and discipline that is required to get out of debt.

While you shouldn’t celebrate so big that it increases debt, make sure to factor in little rewards to keep you motivated.

4. Set New Financial Goals

Eventually, with a plan and these steps, you can rid yourself of your debt. Once you do, make sure to celebrate your monumental achievement, but don’t stop there.

Now, you can focus on acquiring wealth and increasing your net worth. Set new financial goals so you have a new target to aim toward. Here’s how to set financial goals and actually meet them.

These could be anything now that you are debt free! Think about where you want to travel, buying your first home, or saving for your future retirement. Just like before, make sure that your goals are specific, measurable, and achievable.

Conclusion

Congrats, you can now set a plan in motion to finally pay off your debt quickly (and hopefully forever)!

Remember, if you want to get out of debt quickly, it’s not always easy. Just like any big goal, there will be sacrifices, challenges, and problems to overcome.

More Tips on Getting out of Debt

Featured photo credit: Pepi Stojanovski via unsplash.com

Reference

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