This blog may be slightly different from my normal postings – however, with it being February 14th and all, I wanted to talk about our finances with a special Valentine’s Day twist.
One consistent thought we always have on our minds is definitely our credit situation. You may be wondering what does this have to do with Valentine’s Day or how can your credit situation be in anyway related to Valentine’s Day? Don’t worry, I will expand.
In my opinion -since the topic of credit or finances is typically a catalyst for major stress in my life and in most people’s lives – if my husband decided he wanted to take some of this stress off of my plate by helping me to find ways to improve my credit situation – I would welcome it as the romantic gesture of all gestures!
With this said, I have decide to compile a list of strategies that are effective methods for rebuilding your credit history and paying off debt. If you want some advice on how you can help your Valentine improve their credit situation (as I am sure my dear husband would like to be aware of so he may do the same for me)- here are some helpful suggestions to get the dialogue started…
Strategies to Improve your Credit Situation
1) Check Your Credit Score/Report
Number one should be to find out where exactly your credit score and history stands. Knowing the extent of your credit rating will help you gain a better understanding of how far you have to go or how far you have already come to improve your credit. It is also a good plan to check it regularly – whether that be every few months or longer. The credit bureaus where you can go to get a copy of this report are Equifax, and TransUnion.
Once in your possession, you will also want to be sure to examine it closely for potential errors and if any are detected – you can contact the bureaus to help resolve these issues. This is an important step, as any blip on your record is likely to affect your credit score in a significant way. Once you are aware of the exact shape your credit score is in, then you can go from there!
2) Decrease your Credit Card Balance
Number two is to work towards paying off your credit cards to the best of your ability. Ideally, paying off your credit cards should be done as quickly as possible, however often this can be much more difficult than it sounds. Even if you can try and pay them down with some consistency or make an additional payment each month or every few months, for example – you will be paying off more over time than you were previously able to. If you are wondering how much you should aim to pay off – if paying off ALL of your balance is not realistic – you can set a goal for the amount you want to get your card down to. This amount for example, can be between the $100 – $500 range.
3) Use your Debit Card Instead of your Credit Cards
Thirdly, try only using your debit card for transactions instead of your credit card. In some instances, when you know you will be tempted to pay for items with your credit card, you may find that actually leaving your credit card at home is the best remedy. If you don’t have access to your credit card, then you won’t be able to drive up that credit limit.
This is a good method to get you in the habit of spending within your means. If you only have your debit card and/or cash in most cases, you will only be able to make purchases with income you actually have. While, you will still want to watch your spending with your debit card and should still try to save money wherever you can, this strategy should make a difference in your overall credit improvement.
4) Avoid the Malls
Last but not least, trying to improve your credit situation can also be achieved by implementing a ‘NO shopping rule’. Although it’s Valentine’s Day, adopting this rule now may just be the best decision you’ll make. We are a society of consumption but, this Valentine’s Day, why not show the person you love how you feel without buying them anything. Of course this doesn’t include all of the necessities of life, but it does pertain to all the extra-luxury items that you may be tempted to buy from time to time. By cutting down on these purchases, especially as often times they go straight on the credit card – you will be increasing your chances of rebuilding your credit, rather than adding to your debt. If you can avoid the malls (even their online counterparts), you are removing your ability to be taken over by an impulsiveness to shop, that many of us experience more often than we would like.
There are even more credit improving strategies that exist out there to help with your credit or ones you can look to that can encourage your loved one to strengthen their credit situation. I hope you find these ideas helpful and that many of them can be a good resource for you during this time of year, as well as across the remaining calendar months.
Even if you have other romantic ideas for your Valentine’s Day purchases, whether that be chocolate, flowers, jewelry, etc. (and while all these are great options too) – helping to lessen some of the financial burdens of a loved one can be another angle to consider and one that can be just as meaningful!