If you are looking to make your financial situation even the slightest bit better, this is a good place to start. The following is just some basics that pretty much anyone can do.
The following are the three main credit bureaus.
Here are additional places to monitor credit for free.
- Credit Karma
- Credit Sesame
- No Credit
We all started out with no credit, and it can be a very difficult place to be in. You can get a secured card, or two, to help build your credit. Utility bills and rent payments can then be added to help boost your score.
- Credit Monitoring
Checking your credit scores gives you an idea of where you rank in the financial world. Verifying all the information, maintaining it, and building upon it, will help you a great deal financially.
If you haven’t already done this, pull your credit report from a reliable source. You can get your basic information for free from Equifax, TransUnion, your bank, etc. But, you’ll want to get access to your full reports. Right now, you can get one from each bureau for free.
When you first look over your reports, make sure to review everything. If anything is incorrect, dispute it. It usually takes about a month to be updated. However, don’t do this if you are about to obtain a mortgage. They don’t want to see any open disputes on your credit.
Once you’ve made sure your information is correct, you should continue to check it periodically, in case things change. A lot goes on that you don’t even realize. I’ve seen accounts get removed, then added again later, under a different company name.
- Credit Building
Carefully choose ways to help build your credit without hurting it. Try not to apply for every card available to you. Be selective and compare your options. The loans and cards may help at the moment, but then you will have additional payments to manage later.
To prevent late payments affecting your credit, set up automatic payments.
It’s also best to keep your charges below a third of your credit. If possible, make an additional payment to bring it back down, as needed.
There’s different degrees of managing bills. I keep a somewhat strict budget, and log every single transaction. It seems tedious to some, but it can be very helpful in viewing your whole financial picture.
I’ve noticed that a lot of people seem to be complacent with their bills. They may just be comfortable dealing with the same company, or not want to bother contacting them regarding any issues. Some don’t want to go through the process of switching companies. Meanwhile, their bill is going up, and they may not even realize it. That was me, for a while.
- Evaluate Bills
A while back, I went through all of my accounts to see how much I was paying. Depending on the bill, I contacted the company to review it and see if it could be reduced. It doesn’t hurt to ask. In some cases, changes could be made, discounts applied, and even credits were given. It’s definitely worth the extra time spent doing this. Since that’s done, and I set everything up on auto pay, I just have to peek at my accounts every so often to make sure nothing has changed.
- Bill Services
There’s a few companies that will evaluate bills, cancel subscriptions, negotiate bills, and more. You can do all of these things yourself without relying on them. Definitely don’t pay them to do any of it. I wouldn’t sign up for the free trials either. They are easily forgotten about, and then you’re stuck with the added monthly charges.
- Auto Pay
Some companies will offer a discount for using autopay. It also ensures that your bill is paid on time, which means you avoid a late fee if you forget to pay it. Be sure to line up your payments with your pay dates accordingly, so you don’t cause fees for insufficient funds.
Keep track of any subscriptions you may have. They may only be a few bucks here and there, but they add up quickly. A while ago, I cancelled cable to save money. I then added multiple streaming services which ended up costing more. I had to make a few changes to reduce my costs.
- Receipt Errors
Check your receipts for errors. Also, verify that your coupons were used. I absolutely hate doing this, but I have found so many mistakes that were costing me extra money. If I notice it at checkout, I’ll have them fix it. Otherwise, I’ll call the store right away. The next time I go in, they give me a refund.
*** Submit your receipts to get cash back. There’s more information about this on the Submit Receipts page.
Anyone can struggle at any time, for any reason. If you need the help, see if there are any assistance programs in your area and if you qualify. You may be able to get food stamps, heating assistance, rental and home owner rebates, medical assistance, and more. It goes according to household size and income.
Another great resource is called 211. There’s a lot of programs and organizations are available to help. You can either call 2-1-1, or go to their site.
Blog Posts – Financial
The following are posts that I’ve previously written regarding some financial basics.
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