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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

Content Marketer and Finance Analyst

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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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