HOLLAND, Michigan – Your credit score is just a number, but it can make the difference in your ability to get a loan, a house, or even a job, and after a tough year on finances it’s now an important time to pay attention to your score.
“You have to have options, and you have to be able to access them, and it all comes down to your credit score,” says Bree Austin-Roberts, credit expert and founder of Lakeshore Credit Management and Repair Services in Holland. “I think it was a reality check for a lot of people to say, ‘Hey, it’s time for me to start thinking about my financial situation. “”
Bree’s story is similar to that of so many of her clients. A few years ago, before she founded her credit repair business, she and her family were evicted from their apartment. Searching for a home and facing homelessness, Bree noticed a similar roadblock everywhere she looked.
“Credit has become a problem,” she said. “It always came down to credit. “
Bree gave in to her payments and in no time, she raised her credit score enough to move her family into a house and start a business. Now, helping others achieve the same success, Bree says a few simple tweaks can make a big difference. His first call was to the three major credit bureaus to verify the accuracy of his score.
“Like 80 percent of people in the United States have something incorrect on their credit report, but a lot of people don’t know it because they don’t monitor their credit.”
If you’re having trouble making payments this year on bills or installment loans (which Bree says you should always have at least one), try contacting your creditors to see if they can delay payments or work out. some sort of payment plan. it works for you.
“Directly linked to the pandemic, many lenders are very forgiving,” Bree said.
In addition to making all of your monthly credit card payments on time when you can, Bree says it’s also important to know how often and what you’re using your credit card on. She says most repair experts will recommend that you keep your card usage below 30%, but Bree recommends a lower limit for her clients.
“When you’re in the building process, you want to keep it at 10% or less,” she said. “If you plan to make a large purchase in 30-60 days, you probably want to keep your credit card balance between 1% and 3%. “
Other tips include become an authorized user on a loved one’s credit card. If they have good credit, spending responsibly on their account could help boost your score faster. Just ask them to ask their bank or credit union to add you as an authorized user.
You can also open a secure card all alone. A secured credit card is basically a prepaid card that ensures that you don’t miss any payments.
And remember: no credit doesn’t mean good credit. Lenders want to see that you can manage your debt responsibly.
“Having something to report is good, but it’s the amount you bring in that shows your creditworthiness,” Bree said.
It comes down, Bree says, to having good habits and sticking to them. Building or rebuilding credit is a marathon, not a sprint, and Bree says patience is key.
“I have never always been a credit expert. It was trial and error, ”she said. “I’ve been there before, and it doesn’t take much to go back if you’re not budgeting well – if you’re not concerned about your credit.”