4 Tips to Follow When Building Your Credit

4 Tips to Follow When Building Your Credit (1) (1)

Your credit history has massive impact on your personal finances, as well as your entire life.  Individuals with poor credit, or no established credit at all, face many challenges when it pertains to milestones in life like purchasing a new vehicle or your first home.  Once you have established credit, it may be difficult to manage. It is important to remember, credit options may not make you dish out money immediately, but they do need to be paid back; this is where the difficulty may come in.  Nevertheless, credit can always be built back up.  

Here are 4 tips for building your credit.

Make Sure Your Credit Reports are Accurate

With the evolution of the internet, there are many ways for someone to look up their credit reports; some resources will provide one score, while others will go more in depth with a full credit report. There are three major credit bureaus that your credit report and score is based off of, Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. It is important to make sure that when you are accessing these scores, they are accurate.  If you see something on your report that isn’t supposed to be there, or it is not accurate and negatively affecting your score, you can attempt to dispute it.

Confirm Areas That Need to be Improved

Once you analyze your reports from all three major credit bureaus, confirm what areas need to be improved.  Whether it is a credit card with a long term balance, or a loan that you’ve missed payments on. Make note of those areas, and tackle them strategically over a period of time.  It is always important to remember that the improvement of credit can happen, but does often take some time and patience.

Make Any Late Payments

If you notice late payments on your credit report, immediately take steps to bring them up-to-date.  Late payments can affect your interest rates, and build up penalty late fees that will push back any payment progress that you’ve been making.  Always keep in mind, if you can pay off an entire credit card balance, it is better to do so as soon as you can.

Make Payments In Full & On Time

In future credit purchases and transactions, make sure to make your payments on time, and if you are able, in full.  If you are unable to pay a transaction off in full, put the maximum amount you can afford toward your monthly payment; the quicker the balance comes down, the better.  To help make your payments on time, considering setting up auto-pay. Auto-pay is a great tool to ensure you don’t accumulate late fees due to a missing payment.

Are You Making These Common Finance Mistakes?

John J Bowman Jr Accountant - Personal Finance Mistakes

It happens every month without fail. When payday rolls around on the third Friday of the month, your bank account looks healthy – filled with money to spare, even. With a few easy taps on your banking app, you’ve sent off your rent, covered your electric bill, and paid off a little of your credit card debt. You decide it will be alright if you splurge a little on dinner, a movie, a maybe even a quick weekend trip to the local shopping center. A week or so later, you absentmindedly swipe open your banking app – and stare in disbelief. Your bank balance is practically anemic. Where did all of your money go?

 

Spending Impulsively

Your morning Starbucks latte could be costing you. Crunch the numbers: a venti latte costs roughly $4 a pop. If you multiply that times the five days in a work week, you find yourself with a coffee bill of $20 a week, or a full $80 a month. In other words, the money you spend on coffee alone could have covered your entire grocery bill for a month. Small expenses add up – so avoid making impulse purchases. If you think you might be splurging just a little too often, check! At the end of the month, compile all of your card charges and assess how much you spent on necessary items or services (i.e., rent, food, gas) versus how much you spent on unnecessary treats or luxuries. You might just find yourself reconsidering your coffee budget afterwards.

 

Paying Too Many Subscriptions

Do you really need Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Video, and HBO Go? Probably not. Signing onto a service may seem simple and cheap when you’re in the free trial period, but those monthly fees accumulate quickly. Do an inventory of the subscriptions you have and decide which ones you can afford to cut ties with.

 

Living on Credit

Having a credit card doesn’t give you access to free money! Credit card companies make their enormous profits off of people who make minimum payments and allow interest to accrue. Just think – by leaving the expense of a single small item on your balance, you could end up paying out twice the original price in interest and fees. Believing in the “free money” myth could cost you money; living on credit could leave you bankrupt.

 

Overspending on Housing

You may want the in-building gym or slickly designed kitchen – but can you afford it? According to a report from Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies, over one-third of all American households spend 30% or more of their take-home pay on housing expenses. Most financial advisors set the expense ceiling for rent at 30% of a person’s take-home pay; however, even this might be too high for someone struggling to pay off hefty student loans or provide for a family. Don’t let a nice apartment or charming home lure you deeper into debt. If you do, you might find yourself needing to sacrifice your personal life and stay home far more than you ever wanted to.

 

“Keeping Up” With Others

If all of  your friends leapt into crippling debt, would you follow? The answer might not be as easy as you think. Sometimes, it can be difficult to say no to a weekend trip or fancy dinner – even if you know that the expense would eat into your budget for the month. Make a habit of thinking your budget first, and fun second – or risk losing out on a significant chunk of potential savings.

 

Documentation For Tax Season

For some, it may be the most wonderful time of the year- Tax Season! Whether or not this is true for your situation, filing taxes is a civic duty, therefore there is no way out. Here are some of the most common forms of documentation you will need in order to file your taxes. Happy filing!

Personal and Identification

First and foremost, the most important thing you’ll need to have alongside you when filing your taxes is your social security number. This is a form of identification that is used to identify you as a taxpayer, and without it, you will not be able to file your taxes. If you have misplaced your social security number, be sure to contact your social security office. Bringing a copy of last year’s taxes may be helpful to you as well, especially if you’re filing on your own. This will help you answer any simple questions that you may have during the filing process. If you’re expecting direct deposit, bring along your bank account and routing information for an easy way to receive your processed return.

Earnings

A W-2 Form is required to file your taxes as this form shows how much money you’ve earned throughout the year. As long as you bring this form along, your taxes will be simple to file.

Investments

The tax filing process begins to get tricky after you learn where you’ve spent your money throughout the year. If you have any type of investments, such as property, stocks/bonds, or have done any type of freelance work, you should receive a 1099 form in the mail. This form will be required for the tax filing process, as you will enter how much of your earning from your W-2 was paid into taxes for your investments.

Education

If you are recently attending a higher education institution, you will receive a 1098-T form. This from is used to show how much you paid to higher education which will be written off when you file your taxes.

Interest Calculation

A 1098-E form will be sent to you if you have a mortgage, private loan, or debt (such as educational loans).

Records

Throughout the year, it’s important to keep track of records, whether digital or print receipts. Records should be kept for the following; job search/ work expenses (that you paid yourself), medical care payments, contributions or donations, childcare, rental expenses, educational expenses (supplies, transportation, etc.).

Additional

If you receive any additional forms or records in the mail from the IRS, you should bring them along. Your account will be able to determine which forms will be needed, but it is always better to be safe than sorry.