It can’t buy you class, and we all know it can’t buy happiness. Money isn’t everything. Studies show that as long as you can afford to avoid the basic miseries of life*, having lots of cash doesn’t make you that much happier than having very little.** Regardless of how much money you have, you need good credit.
New car, new house, even a new job is going to take good credit. Today’s tight credit standards mean that it takes better and higher credit scores than in the past. The criteria for great credit have grown more selective, and the penalties for bad credit have multiplied.
Bad credit can keep you from getting a job, getting promotions, getting affordable healthcare, getting a mortgage, or even renting an apartment. You must successfully manage your credit if you want to live a successful, satisfying life in today’s United States***
If you are looking to fix damaged credit, improve thin credit, reduce your insurance costs, or recover from credit score hits caused by mortgage foreclosure, you need to read Credit Repair Kit For Dummies by Steve Bucci, BA, MA. Steve is a personal finance expert and a syndicated financial columnist.
If you don’t have formal education in credit or personal finance, this book can help give you the concepts and tools you need so you can apply them to your situation. You might be establishing credit for the first time, or trying to reestablish credit after the loss of a spouse.
If you don’t understand credit, you can’t fix it. The first chapter is about getting you started in repairing your credit. The author discusses how credit works and how to apply that knowledge to get what you want, how to deal with the effects of setbacks from bad credit, and to recover from those setbacks as quickly as possible.
Other chapters build on this information. He’ll show you how to make your credit the best it can be, and keep it that way. If you’ve gotten behind in your payments, you may feel you can’t recover. It can be overwhelming, but you can reverse the cycle.
You’ve heard the ads. “Settle your debt for pennies on the dollar.” Debt settlement is often misunderstood. It may work for you, but only if handled properly. There are usually large fees and you are personally responsible for the actions of any debt settlement company you hire. Make sure to read chapter six to see if this is your best option.
You are going to want to check your credit reports and dispute any inaccuracies or out-of-date information. To rebuild, you need an accurate history, not one full of errors that will hold you back. There are free ways to review them, and you’ll find out everything you need to know about credit reporting.
You have to use credit to build credit. Make those payments on time and in the specified amounts. Every month you do so builds better credit, while your older bad credit counts for less, or drops off your report. If a credit card is difficult to attain, you might want to look into a secured credit card. Chapter 9 has the details.
Be realistic. Assess your situation. Set goals. Plan your spending and saving. Use your credit as part of the plan and you can rebuild your credit. Happiness, good times, and credit are interlinked. Today, it takes good credit to get the things you want. You can get great credit, keep it, and achieve your dreams…
*Starvation, dehydration, predation and Jehovah Witnesses–it’s easier to ignore with a door.
**It is, however, more comfortable to live in a warm house, than a wet sleeping bag, or to fight a cougar for breakfast.
***You could quit the rat race and live off the grid, but that’s another column.
Credit where credit is due? Or cash is king? Comment and let me know.