Simple Steps to Help Your Credit Everyday!

Simple Steps to Help Your Credit Everyday
Fixing your credit isn’t as easy (or as fun) as breaking it. The worse your credit score, the more impossible it can feel to overcome it. If only there were small, simple steps you could start taking every day to get your credit back in order.
Good news! There are!
We spoke to the experts to find small habits you can start right now. The long journey begins with the first step, and better credit starts with these tips.

First, reflect.

The first step towards getting your finances to a better place is actually taking the time to look at them. You can’t make a battle plan if you don’t know where the war is happening. Or, for a more peaceful approach, you can’t bake a cake if you don’t have the recipe.

And this isn’t making mental notes you’ll forget in five minutes every time you spend too much. You might have to make some time in your schedule to find out about your finances. Here’s what nationally recognized credit expert Jeanne Kelly (@creditscoop) told us:

“If you do want to improve your credit, I do think you need to carve out some time from your already busy schedule. I say this because if you want to improve your credit, you need to learn more about it. Many times people have reached out to me for help, not because they had recent late payments or a collection, but because they saw a score drop and did not understand why, and usually it was before a major purchase like a home so they were freaking out. It can be as simple as opening up a new account, going over a credit card limit, closing credit card accounts or having too many companies pulling your credit. Whatever the reason has been, it was just because they did not know some of these things can drop their score. So, be in the know when it comes to your credit.”

It’s also important that you’re tracking your spending habits. Ashley Feinstein Gerstley, money coach and founder of The Fiscal Femme (@TheFiscalFemme), put it this way: “First, I think lack of awareness is one of the most common issues I see. Very few of us actually know where our money is going. I recommend that each of my clients keep a money journal where they write down or type out everything they spend and earn. This brings a consciousness and awareness to our spending that we wouldn’t have otherwise.”

There might even be credit issues you’re facing that aren’t your fault at all. Credit bureaus make mistakes, and it’s important to catch them. It’s hard enough to fix your own mistakes. You shouldn’t have to deal with anyone else’s. That’s why Kelly suggests you get your reports to look over:

“My #1 rule is to pull your credit report at least twice a year and now is a great time with it being mid-year. Get out a highlighter and anything that is wrong or does not make sense to you, highlight. Once you have completed that with each credit report, Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax, you can dispute the information. You could be walking around with an account on your credit report that is not yours and have no idea it is on your report. You know why? Because only you know what accounts belong to you or not. That is why I think if you get in this habit to review these reports twice a year, it can get easier and easier to make sure they are correct. You wouldn’t want to be paying a higher interest rate on a car loan because you never checked your credit and you had a lower score over an error, right? Invest into your credit and spend time to make sure you have the best score you can for the way you handle your finances.”

Once you know what the problem looks like, you’re ready to move on to the next step.

Create a plan you can stick to.

The most important part of any plan to turn your credit around is making sure you can actually follow it. You can promise yourself that you’ll only get takeout once a week, but if that’s not a realistic possibility for you, you might as well just claim you’ll start spending negative money that actually adds value to your bank account every time you buy something. After all, both may be just as likely to happen. That’s why it’s urgent you find the most responsible plan you know you’ll be able to stick to.

And whatever goals you set, it’s important that you don’t procrastinate them. “I also recommend that people put aside time every week or even every two weeks to deal with their financial to-dos,” Gerstley said. “I call them money parties. It’s a great time to check in on your spending, negotiate away any fees, look at your goals, etc. It’s easy to put our financial to-do list on the back burner but that creates more stress and hardship.”

Aaron Norris (@AaronNorris), vice president of the Norris Group (@thenorrisgroup), offered a metaphor for your daily financial growth: “Take a clue from those that succeed in diet and weight loss and plan. Don’t only focus on what you’re spending, focus on what you’re about to spend.

“A few moments in the morning or the night before can prepare you for the day ahead. What are your likely costs? How can you play the game to bring the cost of your day down? This will have you doing simple things like packing a lunch, breaking out that coffee mug that’s collecting dust and using it instead of paying for coffee out, or even just rummaging through seat cushions for loose change to deposit in your bank. Make it a game. How can I save $20 today? Then, place your saved earnings into a savings or investment account.

“Going through your mindless spending is a good monthly habit. It’s all tracked on your credit card statement. But, daily mindfulness on money creates habits that will make you wealthy.”

Change up your food habits.

So we already pointed out that you might not be able to get your takeout food down to only once a week, but you should still try and limit it as much as possible. It adds up pretty quickly! Aside from packing your lunch and making your own coffee, as Norris suggested, you should also consider meal planning.

We’ve covered meal planning before. Gerstley even contributed to that piece with a link to her meal planning guide.

You should check out our guide as well as Gerstley’s, but basically meal planning is taking a few hours of cooking to make all of your food for the rest of the week. That way, you won’t have to worry about getting stuck without food and being too tired to make something non-take out.

Keep up maintenance in your home.

No one likes chores. That’s why procrastination was invented, the very first time a caveperson decided they would put off sweeping up the cave until the following morning. But there’s a reason all the cavepeople went bankrupt, and it’s because keeping ahead on your household maintenance can actually save you money. Elizabeth Dodson, cofounder of Homezada (@HomeZada), explained why:

“Track the money you spend on your home, like in-home purchases and maintenance tasks. These areas of home management can add up before you know it. In fact, homeowners spend 31% of their income on household expenses, so staying on top of these areas can help save money. Even changing out a simple air filter could reduce the cost of electricity due to better operating HVAC units. Cleaning out a dryer vent can reduce the time it takes to dry clothes and also give your dryer a longer lifespan.”

All of this also applies to regular maintenance on your car. Any car breakdown is going to be expensive, and if you have bad credit, you might be tempted to turn to a payday loan. But don’t! Keep up regular maintenance instead. It’s much better for your credit.

There’s an app that could help you with that.

The cavepeople had another financial disadvantage: no financial apps. You, on the other hand, live in a golden age of financial apps! In fact, OppLoans recently launched an app database with a bunch of apps you could try out to take your savings game to the next level.

These tips should help you create a daily plan suited to your financial needs. Follow it consistently, and your bad credit will start looking a whole lot better.

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Contributors
Elizabeth Dodson is the co-founder of HomeZada (@HomeZada), an online and mobile home management solution. HomeZada strives to educate and provide resources for homeowners in all areas of home management, including home inventory, home maintenance, home finances and home improvement projects.
Ashley Feinstein Gerstley (@TheFiscalFemme) is a money coach and founder of the Fiscal Femme where she demystifies the world of personal finance and money in a fun and accessible way so her clients achieve their financial goals.
Jeanne Kelly (@creditscoop) After being turned down for a mortgage 15 years ago, Jeanne Kelly realized she needed to get her credit in order. Not only was she able to fix her bad credit, but she took the skills and knowledge she gained and decided to share it with the world. Now she’s a nationally regarded credit coach and expert, with multiple books and television appearances. Follow her on Twitter and check out her site to get the credit help you need!
Aaron Norris (@thenorrisgroup) is Vice President of The Norris Group, a California-based hard money lender specializing in flips, rentals, and new construction projects for real estate investors. You’ll catch him speaking at various real estate association conferences talking on technology (robotics, AI, IoT, and FinTech) and its effects on the future of housing and the real estate industry. Aaron is a Certified Specialist in Planned Giving (CSPG) and is passionate about philanthropy and giving back. You can find him on here on LinkedIn.