Healthy Habits to Get Your Credit in Shape
Summertime is a great time to get in shape. Financial shape, that is. If your credit score is looking a little weak, this is the perfect time to get into training. Consider this your personal trainer—you personal financial trainer, that is. Follow this regimen and see your credit score soar, this summer and beyond.
Pay on time. Paying your bills on time is the number one healthy financial habit to get into. If you struggle to make your payments on time, set up automatic payments that will withdraw the funds directly from your checking account on the due date. You can even set a date before the actual due date, if there’s a better time of month for you to pay. Many credit cards allow you to change the due date to a more convenient time, as well. So make sure your due-date is doable for you, and be sure to pay in enough time that your payment will clear before the due date.
Keep your bottom line low. Think of the credit limit on your card like the top number on your bathroom scale. Sure, it goes up that high, but do you really want to tip the scales at that number? No way. Keeping your balance under 30%, or better yet, under 10%, of your total credit line, will mean you always have enough available credit to make the folks at FICO happy.
Use different kinds of credit. Just as you wouldn’t do only one kind of exercise to get into shape, you don’t want to only use one type of credit. Only using one credit card is like only doing sit-ups at the gym. Do some cross training and get yourself a car loan, a small business loan, a mortgage, or a student loan. This gives you a mix of types of credit, which looks great on your credit report.
Anticipate a little soreness. Establishing these new financial habits might result in a bit of discomfort at first. Be patient with yourself and understand that new habits are not formed overnight. You might need to cut back on your spending a little bit, finding yourself a little hungry for the retail therapy you used to enjoy. Remember that you are doing this for a reason and being in great financial shape will feel great and be worth the effort.
Reward yourself. After a hard workout, you probably reward yourself with a cold drink, a favorite treat, and a nice rest. When you’ve been financially responsible and developed good habits, treat yourself by redeeming some credit card rewards. If you have a great rewards credit card, this could mean flying off for a vacation with an award ticket. If you don’t have a great rewards credit card it’s time you applied for one.
When the number on your credit report makes you happy, it’s just as good a feeling as when the number on the scale makes you happy. With a few healthy habits and a little discipline, you can get there.
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