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Be Wise With Money

Tips for Keeping a Healthy Credit Score

Credit score

How you manage your money can impact all aspects of your life – from getting a job to renting an apartment or qualifying for a mortgage to the interest charged on your credit cards or auto loan. Let me introduce you to your CREDIT SCORE. Get to know it well; it can save you money. Here are some tips to help keep your credit score healthy.

  • Exercise regularly – Pay off your credit card balances monthly or as quickly as possible. Too large a balance causes sluggish responses, higher costs and more stress. Read your monthly statement (paper and online) – it shows how long it would take to pay off your balance if you make only minimum payments.
  • Use healthy portions – Don't run up your credit card or keep transferring balances to a new introductory "no interest" card. You'll end up paying more and putting dollars into the profits of the credit card company. A good rule of thumb is to charge less than 35% of your available credit. A higher percent balance will negatively affect your score.
  • Get regular checkups – Be sure to review each of your three credit score reports annually. You are allowed one free report each year from each of the credit bureaus (Experian, Equifax and TransUnion). It's recommended that you order one every four months to look for unusual or incorrect information, and get it corrected right away if you spot something.
  • Pace yourself – Is it a need or a want? Impulse purchases have a short-term positive impact. Temper your wants with what you can responsibly manage in a given month. Observe a 24-hour waiting period before you charge it. You may change your mind and be able to avoid buyer's remorse!
  • Don't overdo it – If your credit card is burning a hole in your pocket or wallet, take it out and put it in a secure place. Other options are:
    • Literally freeze your card like an ice cube so you have to thaw it before using it.
    • Wait 24 hours and see how you feel about the purchase the next day.
    • Reserve your card for emergency use only and put all spending on one card to help you keep closer tabs on where your money goes.
    • Pay cash only.
  • Age gracefully – The longer your account has been open, generally the more favorable your score (if you have been making regular and timely payments). When first establishing credit, charge only things you can pay for in full each month. This will help establish a healthy credit history that will positively affect your wallet in the future.

What you can do:

  • Study your credit report – You can get a report from each of three credit bureaus at It's smart to stagger those reports over 12 months. By being diligent about checking your credit report for free, you can skip monthly fees credit bureaus charge when they offer credit monitoring "protection."

Own your finances and don’t let an unhealthy credit score negatively impact what you pay!

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