Keeping a good credit score, not having debt, saving and investing are my top priorities. Luckily, I married a man with the exact same money values as me. It wasn’t always this way. In fact, a year after dating I found out he had a student loan in default, in addition to multiple past-due credit card payments. Yikes!
He wasn’t happy with his current situation (who would be, really?) and was more than willing to do what it took to get his finances in order. In just 3 years, his credit score went from the low-500s to mid-700s!! It’s not only possible to clean up your credit, it’s actually easy. I’m sharing 4 tips with you on how to clean up your credit in just 3 years.
Call your debtors and make payment arrangements
A hard pill to swallow, but if you want to get your credit in order, you need to start paying back your debts. We started with my husband’s student loan. Just by calling and setting up a payment plan, they knocked off $4K from his total bill. They allowed us to negotiate and settle on a monthly payment that fit with our budget. We paid this off within three years (after the $4K we owed $11K total), which immediately boosted his credit score.
Get rid of old debts
Debts that are more than seven years delinquent can be taken off of your credit report by simply calling that creditor and having them remove it. While this seems easy, it’s actually a time consuming process. The creditors typically require a written letter and it may take a few months to actually fall off your credit report. This doesn’t cost you anything and helps improve your score.
Focus on good debts
This one is a little tricky. If your credit score is poor, you most likely won’t qualify for any type of credit card or even a bank account. My husband was unfortunately in that situation. We decided to open a joint credit card in both of our names, purchase a few things each month on it and pay it off in full every single month. A strange concept, but in order to build your credit you have to actually have credit. Look into banks or credit unions in your area that serve people with less-than-par credit.
Pay everything on time
While mortgages and other bills can be paid 30 days late without dinging your credit score, it’s always best to get in the habit of paying all of your bills on time, if not early. My husband and I started this habit right around the time we started improving his credit, and even to this day we pay all of our bills two weeks in advance. Not only do creditors like that, it relieves you from stress of getting your bills paid.
Checking your credit score
Remember, if you can not measure it, you can not improve it. Knowing your current credit score numbers is critical to your success! Check your credit scores for free at CafeCredit.com.
While it’s been a long journey, and one we’re not quite done with yet, my husband has come an incredibly long way. More important than his improved score, though, is his overall attitude towards money. He works hard every single day so he can save, invest and provide for his family. It’s never too late to turn your financial life around, but you have to start somewhere!
Are there any other tips you’ve used to clean up your credit? Please share them in the comments below. We’d love to hear about it.