A lot of us have had an up and down credit journey. I can remember when my score was in the 500’s a few years ago. Through hard work and determination, I was able to raise it. Today, I have a guest post from Jessrey. She has some great tips to help you get in the correct mindset for this journey.
At 30, I wanted to buy the home of my dreams, but with what credit? I spent the majority of my 20s spending frivolously and missing bill payments. As you can imagine, my credit was horrible. I researched what I needed for a healthy credit journey; the changes were simple, but my mindset needed to be adjusted.
There was a flip of a switch as I reached the age of 30. I had fun in my 20s, but my credit suffered; my excuse was that I didn’t know any better. I was fortunate enough to make it by without the use of credit in my 20s. I liked to spend money. I didn’t want to pay bills on their due dates, and I maxed out all my credit cards. My finances were a mess, and not knowing better at 30 was a sorry excuse at my age.
One day I printed out my bank statement from the previous month and went down every single line. I highlighted every item that was just a want and not a need. I found an extra 500 dollars that I could have used to pay off credit cards or add to savings. This money spending mindset was counterproductive and needed to end.
A healthy credit journey starts with your mindset. If you continue to have unhealthy spending habits and unorganized finances, your credit will go right back to being bad. Today, I will be providing you with different mindsets that you should consider. We want to have a healthy credit journey, and the way you think about money makes a world of difference.
Do you want it, or do you need it?
I was stunned by the amount of money I spent on just the items I wanted and did not need. It allowed me to think below the surface level. I enjoyed these items but at what cost?
It’s natural to want nice and expensive things, but what will that do for your future? On your credit journey, if you don’t need it, don’t buy it. If you are not ready to go cold turkey, slowly cut out those purchases. I promise it’s much more rewarding to know that you have the leverage to do what you want because of your healthy credit score and spending habits. If you are attached to the wants more than getting your credit in order, your journey won’t exist.
I challenge you to go through your financial reports like I did and cut out items you don’t need. It is the first and most necessary step in correcting your mindset. It is in your mind that you need these material things. If you want healthy spending habits, then you don’t need those material things.
Do you need to do to Starbucks every day?
When I reviewed my finances for the previous month, I realized that I visited Starbucks 4–5 times a week, spending about 8 dollars each day. When you look over finances, count the small purchases. Those remote purchases may seem harmless, but you’ll discover that they will add up in just a months’ time. In only one month, I spent 160 dollars on Starbucks. I know I’m going to catch hell for this, but you can make half of the Starbucks menu from home for a fraction of the price.
There are small purchases that will add up over the month. The best way to control this is to find alternatives for these purchases. Instead of getting a green tea and a bagel every day from Starbucks, I bought bagels from Vons and found a Lipton peach tea that tasted much better; it felt better because I was saving money.
Pay what you owe on time
I made the mistake of making late payments on a few of my bills, and I’m still suffering the repercussions as I put this article together. A part of your credit is your on-time payments. Late payment will stay on your credit report for 7–10 years. That means when you apply for that home loan, they will see how many times you were late paying a bill. The part that will get you is that even if you pay off the item in full, those late payments will still stay on your report.
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A good step is to put your bills on auto payment. If you manage your finances, you will have enough to cover the important bills on auto payment. If you feel that you will be late on an upcoming bill, contact the company and see if they can arrange a payment arrangement. These companies want you to pay your account on time and are willing to work with you.
Consistency is the only key
Your credit journey will require consistency. You won’t be able to build up your credit and neglect it later. It is best to think of it as a lifestyle change. It’s like starting an entry-level job and then being promoted to management. You will have more responsibilities and will have to hold yourself accountable.
It’s not an easy task but is well worth it. The best way to exercise consistency is to budget your finances for the month and update what you spent weekly. You can see what you are spending each week and maintain your goal of not overspending.
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Patience is a virtue.
Your credit score is not going to be in the 800’s overnight. It will take time to improve your credit and make it healthy again. It would be best if you were patient and consistent. Your patience will eventually get you the car you wanted and, hopefully, the home of your dream.
I educated myself about my credit history. I wrote down an action plan on what I needed to do to reach my credit goals. I didn’t put a goal end date, but I understood the steps I need to take to make it happen. I paid down my credit cards and made sure all my bill payments were paid on time. My credit score went up by 50 points in just three months.
It starts with your mind, are you ready?
Your credit score involves different components that will stimulate it, but if you don’t know how to manage your money, you won’t get anywhere. In changing my mindset on spending and appreciating how credit works, I’ve gained a lot mentally and physically.
I could have overwhelmed you with specific ways of improving credit, such as paying bills on time and keeping your credit utilization under 30%. Those components don’t matter if you feel you need to spend your money frivolously by not saving or maxing your credit cards out. Once you have corrected your mindset, you are officially ready for your healthy credit journey.
Jessrey is a solopreneur that enjoys her nine to five but puts her side hustle hat on to stay sane. She curates articles for readers that want to think outside of their comfort zone—her specialized niche in finance self-help to educate others on how to master their mindset and personal finances. You can read more of her work on medium.com on her writing profile.