WINNING STRATEGIES ON HOW TO BUILD WEALTH, AND INCREASE YOUR CREDIT
Having the ideal credit score of about 740 to 850 is probably one of the driving factors that separates “the haves and the have nots” in the credit world. Basically, the higher your score, the greater buying power consumers have at their disposal, along with lower payment options. Sadly, the realization that I may be amongst “the have nots,” became apparent to me after applying for a car loan in my early twenties, and was denied.
MY “HAVE-NOT” EYE OPENER
“Sorry ma’am, you do not qualify to purchase a car. Your credit report states your score is in the low 500’s. This basically means you have bad credit.” “BAD CREDIT!” I quickly replied in disbelief, “What do you mean I have bad credit? I don’t owe anybody anything! This is my first time ever applying for a loan, how could this be?”
At that moment, it was apparent I was clueless, and my ignorance led to my unforeseen rejection. Determined not let the disappointment crush my goals of purchasing a more reliable vehicle, I considered what to do next.
There’s an old saying, “to beat them at their game, you have to know their game.” In other words, when you know the rules, you can strategize a winning plan. From experience, I’d already learned, where there is a will there is always a way, I just had to figure out my way by asking the right questions, and willing to follow the rules or strategy tips.
So here are some of tips I learned over the years to improve my credit to become one of “the haves, to gain financial freedom.
“Wait…are you sure? I’m totally confused here– how does this credit system work?” I responded, still looking bewildered. The used car salesman began to explain, “whether or not you do not owe anyone money, or have acquired debt, your score is what it is.” I thought about it for a few seconds, then replied, “but, I thought if I did not owe anybody money, it automatically meant I have good credit…right?” “Nope, not at all,” gesturing a “no” motion with his head.
Well, “how do I raise my score?” I asked. He began to explain, “first you need to establish credit and maintain consistent payments for a period of time, which implies to the creditors you are financially responsible and creditworthy. By paying your bills on time, over time, it raises your score.”
Needless to say, that experience changed my life entirely! From that day moving forward, I committed myself to seek out ways to improve my score, build credit, and learn how to position myself to become one of “the haves” and never experience the embarrassment of being rejected again.
THEY SAY “CASH IS KING,” BUT HAVING CREDIT GIVES YOU POWER!
I have heard the saying practically all my life, “cash is king– if you have cash you can call the shots, make bargains, and purchase things when others cannot.” But, the real truth is, your king status is only as strong as the amount as cash you have.
Credit, on the other hand, provides the opportunity to use your cash, along with your creditworthiness to gain power. The power to leverage, the power to manage your business through the cash flow, the power to purchase more items than your money can buy, and the power to request more credit to maximize your financial wealth.
Building good credit also requires great discipline and responsibility to build wealth. Understanding how to capitalize on this knowledge gives us the power to live like kings and queens.
WHAT DO I DO NEXT?
TIP # 2
If you find yourself in an unfavorable position like I was over twenty years ago, with little or no credit, the best thing to do is to acquire a line of credit with a bank. If you are currently banking with one, you may choose to start there. They are convenient with many benefits, including:
- Recognized for having quality customer service.
- Better rewards programs
- Multiple loan products to choose from.
- Convenient locations.
As for myself, the used car salesman recommended for me to start with a credit union. He explained, credit unions are not-for-profit institutions, and often accept individuals with credit discrepancies and can offer lower interest rates on car loans and credit cards. I later found out they also offered higher interest rates on CD’S and on savings accounts. Other factors include:
- Lower fees compared to banks.
- More flexibility for blemished credit history.
- Customer focused banking services.
- Membership perks.
Without hesitation, I dashed to the nearest credit union, only to be rejected once again. What a bummer! The clerk stated because of my limited credit history, I did not qualify to receive a credit card and needed a cosigner to qualify. Luckily for me, my mother was already a member. With much persuasion, pleading and begging to my mother for help, she finally agreed and cosigned my first credit card with a $500 limit.
PATIENCE & DISCIPLINE IS KEY
Within a year, of charging a few items here and there, and paying off my debts on-time– I was able to release my mom as a guarantor on the loan and fulfilled my promise to have no late payments. My commitment not only built my mother’s trust but also built my credit union’s trust in me. As a result, they increased my limit to $1,000. From there I opened other credit lines and raised my credit limit to $40,000 within a few years, using a few more tips I learned along the way.
If you are looking to build your credit, there is no better time to start than now. Below are questions you may ask and additional information you should know.
DO YOU KNOW YOUR CREDIT UTILIZATION RATIO (CUR)?
Your credit utilization ratio is determined by the amount of debt you owe, compared to your available credit. This ratios accounts for 30 percent of your overall credit score. OUCH!
Ideally, it is recommended you use less than 35% of your available credit to limit for each account to achieve the best possible score. For example, if you have a credit limit of $1,000, the maximum you should spend on this line of credit is $350. Yep, that’s all and no more!
PAY DOWN ANY CREDIT BALANCES
Consider fully paying off your seasoned account and do not make any additional charges. This will indicate your capability of managing your finances. After 4-6 months, contact your financial institution and request a credit limit increase of at least $300-$500. Once granted, repeat this step at least twice a year until your desired credit limit is achieved. As a result, you will have more spending power and maintain an acceptable spending ratio.
KEEP YOUR CREDIT ACCOUNT OPEN, EVEN IF YOU DON’T USE THEM
If you are considering closing an account, think twice before making your final decision. Closing inactive accounts rather than leaving them open could cost you more in the long run. Closing your accounts can decrease the amount of credit available to you in the future and negatively impact your CUR. In contrast, maintaining your active accounts, and paying down debt, decreases your utilization percentage and increases your credit score. In other words, the longer your credit history, the better you appear to creditors. Its good practice to keep your old account(s) and use them once in a while.
AVOID OPENING TOO MANY LINES OF CREDIT IN A SHORT TIMEFRAME
You may feel anxious to build your credit rapidly, but patience and timing are key. Having too many new credit line inquiries can flag you as a higher credit risk and will reduce your credit score. Generally, each query reduces your score by at least 5 points. However, according to Fico.com, multiple inquiries within a short period for student loan lenders, mortgages, and auto loans do not have a negative impact on your score. Those inquiries are treated as a single request.
YOU MAY BE WONDERING, “SHOULD I PAY MY BILLS ON-TIME?”
Absolutely yes! You should always make sure you pay all of your bills on-time, no matter how big or small. Your payment history accounts for at least 35 percent of your overall credit score. Yes, another whopping 35%. According to Fico data, a 30-day delinquency can result in a 90-100 score drop. Late payments affect your score for up to 2 years, and delinquent accounts are also reported to all credit reporting agencies and can remain on our credit report for up to 7 years.
Late payments will also increase your interest rates and cost you more in the long run. As I mentioned prior, the higher your credit score, the lower the interest rates received. A hundred-point difference could equate $100 more per month for a car or mortgage payment. If you are having difficulty remembering when to pay your bill, consider enrolling into an auto payment program. They are available online through most financial institutions and can help to ovoid overnights and unnecessary late fees.
HOW TO REDUCE LATE FEES
It is never too late to make things right or ask for forgiveness. This success principle for not only good for developing healthy relationships, but it can also be a valuable tool for conducting business. If you have acquired a few late fees by oversight, or just did not have funds at the time to pay your bill–don’t lose hope. You may have a chance to request forgiveness and receive a return of funds.
Here’s how you do it! After making consistent payments for at least 5-6 months, contact your account manager and kindly request the late fees be forgiven and removed. Depending on their policy, the representative may have the authority to reverse the charges or submit a request. The process usually occurs immediately or can take up to 30 days.
CHECK YOUR CREDIT REPORT REGULARLY
Let’s face it, things happen, and they are not always in our favor. Checking your credit report regularly can assist you with the following:
- Identifying inconstancies and work to remove them.
- Managing credit limits.
- Identifying unauthorized inquiries and information to address in your dispute letters.
- Providing score updates.
Please note, unauthorized inquiries are known as “hard inquiries”, and can hurt your score. These usually result from the following:
- Apartment and rental applications.
- Application for new loans and credits.
- Credit limit request.
- Collection agencies attempting to collect a debt.
So, there you have it! You now have the necessary tools needed to become one of the so called “haves’ in the credit world to begin building your wealth and optimum success.
Remember, the better your credit score, the lower interest rate you will be charged on borrowed money. This saves you tons of money over the life of a loan–which equates to more money in your pocket and power to live the life of a king or queen.
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Be blessed always,