Maintaining good credit is a cruel game. You’re tasked with always paying back all the money you’ve ever borrowed perfectly on time, even though most people will inevitably run into a real-life issue that will cause them to falter.
Then when you’ve made a mistake, it follows you for years. Some mistakes, like needing to file for personal bankruptcy, are on your record literally forever. This record, by the way, is accessible to every bank and lender in the developed world.
But you can’t elect to simply not
play the game because that looks suspicious and lenders will think you’re even less
trustworthy than people who have played the game and done so terribly.
So, you’re expected to borrow and repay within your means just for the sake of proving you know how to do so responsibly, just in case you ever need to borrow money for something big and important.
Also, this game lasts your entire life. It truly is cruel.
If you’ve found yourself with bad credit and now are having trouble getting loans for large, important purchases, like a home or a vehicle, it can be easy to get dejected and want to give up.
But the bright side of the game lasting forever is you have plenty of time to get yourself back into it if you know what you’re doing. Here, we intend to make it so you don’t need to pay an expert to set your credit straight.
Collect Your Information
You’re entitled to one free credit report per year from each of the Big Three credit reporting bureaus: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.
Utilize these by preferably spreading them out throughout the year and analyze them to know your credit history inside and out. This will take some time to do thoroughly, but the better grasp you have on it, the better you can take the correct next steps.
Know the Formula
Reading through your credit history won’t mean much if you don’t know what to do with what you’re reading. You need to know what actions help your credit score, what hurts it, and how the score is calculated. This way, you can determine if everything on your credit report accurately adds up to your reported credit score.
Stand Up for Yourself
See something on your credit report that doesn’t look right? Then say so. Credit bureaus must provide instructions for how to dispute an error. If you find multiple errors, dispute them one at a time. This way, your claims will be taken more seriously and won’t seem like “spam” disputes.
If your dispute is successful, your credit score will be mended accordingly, complete with a new copy of your credit score reflecting the changes. If not, your credit record will show you attempted to dispute it, but this will not negatively impact your credit score.
Pay What You Can (As Soon as You Can)
Once you’re sure your credit score is at least accurate, if not immaculate, the focus shifts to where your money is going. You’re going to need to be as efficient with your expenditures as possible so you can repay your debts as soon as possible.
People go into debt for many reasons, but there’s only one real way out: paying what’s owed. This is obviously easier said than done, but the only option is to do your best. But you can make it easier on yourself.
As a rule, try to use your credit cards as sparingly as possible when repairing your credit. If you can manage, try not to use it at all for the time being. This is all to make sure your debt doesn’t grow even more.
That said, when everything is all squared away at the end of this journey, don’t stop spending on credit completely. As mentioned earlier, this will just come across as you not trusting yourself to spend responsibly, and therefore creditors won’t trust you either.
“Correct” usage of a credit card is twofold. You can use it on small purchases you can definitely pay back to prove your creditworthiness and you can use it for large, unexpected, necessary purchases that you couldn’t pay otherwise. Start thinking of a credit card as a tool you use to prove you’re worthy of access to a Spontaneous Loan Generator.
Take Advantage of Shortcuts
If diverting money toward your bills is going to be a major burden, do your best to try curbing expenses as much as you can. Look for “life hacks” and try money-saving methods you may discover. We certainly have a few
we could share with you.
This situation won’t go away until it’s fixed, so you might as well do your best to get it over with as soon as possible.
Try to refrain from unnecessary spending, on your credit card or otherwise, and do your best not to slip up on making your payments.
You may need to communicate with the entities you owe how you anticipate repaying them and possibly negotiating a plan, but the more control you have over yourself, the more control you have over your situation.
Get a Fresh Start
It may seem contradictory, but part of fixing your credit may include starting a new line of credit. This is a big may
, however, and should be saved for when you’re good and ready for it.
If your current accounts have permanent stains, a clean slate may do you a world of good.
This may even take the form of a secured credit card, which takes collateral from the borrower and is expressly designed for people mending bad credit or building new credit from nothing.
With that in mind, don’t cancel your current credit cards, at least not yet.
Much like how having no credit cards can make it seem like you’re afraid of them, canceling a card may come across like you’re running away from your problems, especially if you still owe debt to the creditor.
The best course of action is to keep your credit card around, but only use it sporadically, and not until you’ve paid off the debt on it. This way, you’ll maintain a relationship with the creditor who will see you’ve changed your ways.
Use This as a Learning Experience
Getting out from under a mountain of debt all by yourself is a tough task, but if you can manage it, then you can manage many things.
Whether you had previously made unwise decisions or if circumstance put you into an unwinnable situation, you can prove to the people and organizations who think you’re untrustworthy that they’re wrong.