Give Your Credit a Good Spring Cleaning

APR 18, 2011

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Spring cleaning means something different for everyone. For some, it’s a quick cleaning chore and for others it’s a weekend-long process. But when you think about getting your home looking good for the season, remember that you need to put financial house in order, too.The seasonal switch is a great time to check your credit history and, ideally, take action to improve your credit score. The simple actions you can take to give your credit a good spring cleaning are well worth it in the long run. If you build up a strong credit history, it’ll be that much easier to get loans for a home, cars or other expensive items. And it can paint a rosier picture for potential employers checking your credit.

Follow these steps to get your credit squeaky clean.

  • Check your credit score. It’s hard to know what kind of work needs to be done without getting an up-to-date view of your credit history.  Make use of your credit report, to spot check for inaccurate information or blemishes you could improve upon.   Even with your report in hand, you will want to see that three digit number. It’s worth it to check your score, so you see where you stand.
  • Set up a system for paying bills on time, every time. Paying your bills late can negatively affect your credit history and it’s hard to make an excuse for late payments any more. Automated payments are offered by utilities, credit card companies, Internet service providers and more – take advantage of them. If you don’t feel comfortable with automated systems, set up bill due date alerts on your phone or electronic calendar. Give yourself a couple days’ notice so that there’s enough time for the payment to be processed and hold yourself to paying on that day – no excuses. Paying bills on time, consistently and over a long period of time can help your credit score.
  • Stop applying for credit. Too many inquiries into your credit history can bring down your score, so think carefully before you sign up for a credit card to get 10 percent off a purchase. Keep in mind that credit inquiries stay on your credit history for two years.Above all, remember that it takes time to improve your credit history. You might need to wait for negative information to go away, but you can use that as your inspiration to develop good habits. Knowing that what seems like no big deal today – something as simple as a late payment – can tarnish your credit history for years to come.