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Report Guarded: Fixing your credit report is first and foremost for financial future

When you hear the word “credit score,” you immediately have one of two reactions: pure positivity or sheer terror. Whichever runs through your body ultimately reflects exactly where you are financially.

If you’re in the former group and you have no problem seeing that three digit number, that means your credit score is pristine or, at the very least, fashionably favorable and an indicator of how you save money or deal with your debt.

Sadly, the majority of people aren’t interested in seeing the score they would like. And, the score they see is holding them back financially for goals such as buying a better home, securing a loan for a vehicle or just paying bills comfortably without worrying one paycheck to the next.

So how exactly do you go about fixing your credit score and subsequent report?
Chances are, you can make progress toward raising that score, but don’t expect a quick fix. Credit is something that needs repaired over time, but the good news is that fixing some of the minor issues on your credit report isn’t nearly as hard as you.

In the grand scheme of things, the easiest way to help your cause is to simply pay your bills on time. Anything listed as a late payment takes bits and pieces (and eventually chunks) out of your credit score. You can call your bank or credit card company and tell them that you’re sorry and promise to never do it again, and they’ll sometimes take off that late fee, but that doesn’t guarantee your credit score also will be repaired immediately.

You also want to take a look at each of your credit cards individually and pay off the ones you can with the highest interest rates. But, don’t go into full blown cancellation mode just yet. You want to keep your oldest credit cards open; creditors like to see some longevity with not only having credit but paying it off consistently over time.

On the flip side, don’t open a bevy of credit cards just to get a discount, even when enticed by department store incentives for a one time discount. Opening a slew of credit cards impacts your credit report by enhancing your credit exposure, but some consumers think they can beat the system by opening such accounts and cancelling the cards after benefiting from the incentives. Opening and closing card accounts is a sure way to limit improvements to your credit score.

A low credit score is never insurmountable given a little time. It merely takes some discipline to establish healthy debt and spending habits.

Couples Therapy: Are you a financially sound within your relationship?

You may be the most ardent, practical and sane person as it relates to money, budgeting and saving. But, what about your fiancé or spouse? Are they on the same page as you as it relates to money or are you constantly butting heads when it comes to how you spend and save?

The question might seem obvious; of course you are engaged, married to or made a commitment to someone that feels the same about money as you, right? Perhaps, but money can be a difficult topic to discuss even if you’re comfortable in your relationship to the point that you’re either planning to marry or already have tied the knot.

But have you also roped yourself into a relationship where your feelings on money are completely different?

How to tell if you’re in a smart, money saving relationship isn’t difficult as long as you know what to look for, beyond the obvious. That would include you putting your paycheck in the bank every two weeks only to have your significant other withdraw a few hundred dollars to go shopping even though bills are due and money needs to be saved. That isn’t hard to figure out what’s wrong or how to fix it.

Couples who have their financial future down pat make it a point to schedule a time to review their bank accounts, savings accounts, retirement fund and where exactly their money is going. Budgeting also is paramount to the process. They don’t just budget once, but rather review how the money is coming and going every month.

Furthermore, paying bills and managing money has to be something that you do together. Most families have that one person who is assigned to paying bills and monitoring how everything is spent. That mentality only serves to make one person completely oblivious and the burden and stress on the other. The latter person often tries as hard as possible to do their best but if they get into trouble they end up falling further behind because they don’t want to mention that they’ve failed at budgeting.

And if you’re inclined to budget together, kudos to you and your spouse, but be sure that aren’t setting yourself up for failure on a number of levels. Make sure you set expectations as far as saving goes that are realistic and don’t be afraid to spend money together, either (within reason). Being too strict with money is only going to lead to resentment.

Couples who play together not only stay together but end up spending properly and saving even better.

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