3 Steps to Getting a L.I.T. Credit Score

 

"Wanna know what's more important than throwin' money at a strip club? Credit." - Jay-Z

Whether you're a Jay-Z fan or not, your credit score is way more important than you realize. It determines the kind of response that you get from lenders, insurance companies, and even some employers. In fact, your credit score plays a significant role in your financial identity. Your credit score is based on several factors, but it provides a snapshot of your relationship with managing credit. If you’re not happy with your credit score or have no clue of what your credit score is, you have come to the right place! I will share with you 3 steps to getting a L.I.T. credit score!

 

LOOK IT UP

Like the saying goes “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it”. Without knowing your credit score, it will be a challenge to set a target to work towards. That is why the first step is discovering what your credit score is. These days it is super easy to get your credit score for the free, with websites like Credit Karma and even through a lot of the major banks. Based on the credit scores you receive, choose the lowest credit score, so you don’t overtime estimate what your credit score is.

 Next, you will want to pull up your credit report, which you can get from each of the credit bureaus (Transunion, Experian, and Equifax) once a year for free. Your credit report includes information about your credit history and allows you to identify any errors on your report.

 

INFORM YOURSELF

Now that you know what your credit score is, it’s important to identify how your credit score is calculated. The most commonly used credit score is the Fair Isaac Corporation (FICO) score. A good FICO score to shoot for is at least 700. Anything below 700 can create challenges for getting loans or other lines of credit. Even if you get approved for a loan, you’ll pay higher interest rates. Any score 750 and above is considered “excellent” and puts you in the best position to obtain loans and lower interest rates.

 

·      Payment history (35%) - which is based on your history of making on-time payments. At the very least, make the minimum payment on everything you owe.  According to FICOdata.com, 30-day delinquency could cause as much as a 90- to 110-point drop on a FICO Score of 780 for a consumer who has never missed a payment. In short, never miss a payment!

 

·      Amount owed (30%) – based on your credit utilization, which is the debt you have compared to your total credit limit. For example, let’s say you have you have two credit cards with a total balance of $300 and a credit limit of $1,000 your utilization is 30% ($300/$1000). Keep it below 30%, but I suggest keeping it under 10%. Therefore, it’s a good idea to keep your credit cards open even after you’ve paid it off to maintain a high credit limit.

 

·      Length of history (15%) – based on the average age of your accounts. The longer you’ve had credit, the better your score will be. Also, another good reason not to close any credit cards.  

 

·      New credit (10%) – based on how often you’re opening accounts. If you’re opening too many (6+ a year), your credit score will be impacted. The key is to minimize the times you request new lines of credits. This can also be impacted by “hard” inquiries, which are requests to pull your credit score. Pulling your credit score from Credit Karma or your bank is typically considered a “soft” inquiry. It’s always a good idea to determine whether a credit score pull will count as a “soft” or “hard” inquiry.

 

·      Types of credit used (10%) – based on the mix of lines of credits you have (student loans, car loan, credit cards, mortgage, etc.). The bigger and the more varied the mix, the more it shows that you’re capable of managing several types of debt.

 

TURN UP!

Now that you understand the game, it’s time to get your numbers up. Here are a couple of strategies I recommend for those starting or struggling with credit:

1.     Get some credit - If you have no credit history and plan on financing, a good place to start is getting a secured card. Secured cards are a great way to get your feet wet with credit and are easy to get for first-timers. You put up some money, say $500, then that $500 will be your credit limit. Once you use the card and consistently make payments on-time for a couple of months, you should have no issues getting an unsecured card (i.e. credit cards).

2. Automate your payments - this helps reduce the chances of missing a payment, which I mentioned accounts for 35% of your score. Get familiar your payment due dates and set reminders on your phone to review your statement too before the automated payment is made. Also, look at your bank account to make sure you have enough funds to cover the payment.

3. Strategize your credit – out of all the factors that impact your credit score, paying off your credit cards will mostly be the biggest way of boosting your credit score. It not only improves your credit score, but it also saves you a ton of money in interest payments. A popular method of reducing debt is called the “snowball method”. To implement this method, you must first list out your debts from smallest to largest. Begin by paying off the smallest debt, while paying making the minimum payment on the remaining balances. Once the first debt amount is paid off, use the same contribution you made and apply it to the next debt on your list until all your debt is paid off. The snowball method is intended to keep you focused and motivated by paying off the smallest debt first.

So there you have, if you follow the steps I mentioned above, you will have a L.I.T. credit score in no time.

THE MOST IMPORTANT FINANCIAL ADVICE YOU WILL EVER HEAR

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Figuring out how to manage your finances can be tough. We’re swarmed with information about stocks, “get rich quick” schemes, and outdated information (i.e., go to school and get good grades). In this new economy, we need to find better solutions.

 

Some of you may be struggling with credit card debt, student loan debt, or may be living paycheck to paycheck. I was once in that position a couple of years ago when I graduated with my master’s degree with over $30,000 worth of student loan debt and $10,000 of credit card debt.

 

I graduated college and obtained a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) certification with the expectation of becoming financially independent. Due to the cost of college, living expenses, and taking out way more loans than I needed, I found myself with less money in my account than before I started school.

 

I became so upset with my financial situation that I began doing a ton of research. I started reading business blogs and magazines, attending seminars and subscribed to YouTube channels discussing personal finance.

 

What I found was a lot of annoying and useless information that didn’t get me anywhere. That’s not to say there wasn't any useful information out there; it just wasn’t the information that I needed to take my finances to the next level.

 

It wasn’t until I read T. Harv Eker’s book “The Secrets of the Millionaire Mind” that I finally discovered the one key that changed the way I looked at finances.

 

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CHANGING MY MINDSET.

 

Once I became aware that I had limiting beliefs that impacted my relationship with money, the whole game changed for me. One of my most significant limiting belief was that “money is the root of all evil.” I believed that to make money; I had to be an evil person. Because I had this belief, I self-sabotaged my financial situation by ignoring my checking, savings, and credit card accounts.

 

In this book, T. Harv Eker talks a lot about the mindset of millionaires. He describes a tree which is like the “Tree of Life” which represents your life. On this tree there are fruits, and the fruits represent the results in your life. What a lot of us tend to do is we focus on the results. Instead, we should focus on the roots of the tree. Therefore the key is, “if you change the roots, you can change the fruits.”

 

I got so caught so caught up on my results (such as credit card debt) that I began trying to aggressively pay it down without realizing what created the balance in the first place. As soon I would pay it down, the balance would grow back up. Once I discovered the root of my abuse of money, I improved my finances and looked for other ways to be fulfilled by building better relationships with my friends and family, participating free activities, and reading.

Your health is a result, your relationships are a result, and your finances are a result. These results do not happen overnight and as such can take just as long to improve. Awareness and patience is the key. Once you can become aware of what has been preventing you from achieving the results you want, take ACTION and start the journey to success.

 
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I got so caught so caught up on my results (such as credit card debt) that I began trying to aggressively pay it down without realizing what created the balance in the first place. As soon I would pay it down, the balance would grow back up. Once I discovered the root of my abuse of money, I improved my finances and looked for other ways to be fulfilled by building better relationships with my friends and family, participating free activities, and reading.

 

Your health is a result, your relationships are a result, and your finances are a result. These results do not happen overnight, and can take a long time to improve. But the good news is that it can be improved once you focus on what caused you to be there in the first place.