If you are looking to make your financial situation even the slightest bit better, this is a good place to start. Some of the following things I have personally helped me.
- Credit Scores
- No Credit
- Monitor/Decrease Bills
- Check Receipts
- Assistance, If Needed
Checking your credit scores gives you an idea of where you rank in the financial world. If you haven’t already done this, pull your credit report from a reliable source. You can get your information for free from Experian, TransUnion, your bank, etc. I use Credit Karma the most. Review every bit of it and if anything is incorrect, you can dispute it. They generally estimate it taking a month to go through the process, but I’ve seen things removed much sooner.
Once you’ve made sure your information is correct, you should keep an eye on it in case things change. I check mine really often, but then I’m obsessed with increasing my credit score at the moment. 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. While you’re reviewing it, carefully choose ways to help build your credit without hurting it.
I recommend not applying for every card that comes your way. The loans and cards may help at the moment, but you now have additional payments to manage later. If you’re able to, set up automatic payments. Late payments will only prevent you from catching up. It’s also best to keep your charges below a third of your credit. Make an additional payment to bring it back down, if needed.
- No Credit
Starting out without any credit at all is a very difficult place to be in. You can get a secured card to help build your credit. Utility bills can then be added to boost your score. Just be careful so you don’t set yourself back in the process.
I’ve noticed that a lot of people are complacent with their bills. They may just be comfortable dealing with the same company, or not want to bother contacting them. If anything, they’ll complain about their bill going up. And, that’s if they even notice the increases or any extra charges. I was one of those people, for a long time.
At one point, I went through all of my accounts to see how much I was paying. Depending on the bill, I contacted them to review it and tried to reduce it. 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 everything is set up on auto pay, I just have to peek at my account every so often.
Subscriptions are only a few dollars here and there, but they quickly add up. I have fallen into this too often. The latest trap was when we cancelled cable and subscribed to multiple streaming services. It ended up costing more in the end.
- Check Receipts
Check your receipts for errors and verify that your coupons were used. I absolutely hate doing this, I really do. I shouldn’t have to, but I have found so many mistakes that were costing me money. If I notice it at the time, I’ll have them fix it. If I’m already home, I’ll call the store right away to tell them. The next time I go in, they refund the money to me. Also, don’t forget to submit your receipts to get even more cash back. There’s more info about this on the Scan Receipts page.
Assistance, If Needed
Find out if you qualify for any assistance programs in your area. I can’t vouch for anywhere else, but I know that in Pennsylvania you can get food stamps, heating assistance, rental and home owner rebates, health insurance, and more. It goes according to household size and income.