In my first article, Credit Swagger: What is it and Do I want it, I mentioned the word clout. Your excellent credit can give you clout. Not among your friends and family, but among those that seek your business. In generations past, while keeping up with the Jones was the thing to do, people bragged about having an American Express card. Then a gold card which led to a platinum card, that gave birth to the black card. It was and still is almost a status symbol to have one of these in your wallet or purse. This is the evidence that proves the point that if cash is king then credit must be the queen. It’s said that “money makes the world go ’round” or for my hip hop generation, “Cash Rules Everything Around Me (C.R.E.A.M.).
Some people can survive without using credit. People at the low end of the economic spectrum, in the middle and in the higher ranges. Your credit score, also known as FICO score, does not discriminate. It affects us all. Those with a higher pay scale simply have enough money to pay cash for most of their needs. However, those of us in the lower to middle typically don’t posses that kind of cash. So how do we live without credit? We stay in the same house or apartment complex because no bank or landlord would approve our application for a new place to live. We live with our parents, a girlfriend or a boyfriend. We buy big ticket items with our tax refunds, usually the most amount of “extra” money we will see all year, or we pay outrageous interest from buy here pay here car lots and we rent furniture and tvs. We survive but we do not thrive. Don’t get me wrong, having good credit is just one piece of the puzzle. You still have to meet other qualifications in order to stop living that lifestyle. Let me help you take away one of the hurdles you may have to overcome.
Do you think that material possessions are the only reason to have good credit? I hope not. Let’s look at your good credit, or lack of, from an employers view. If you are looking for a new job, the next time you fill out an application that may require a background check, pay attention to the fine print. More and more employers also include a credit check as well. Now you may think to yourself, if you are a minimum wage worker, that it shouldn’t affect your ability to stock boxes, run a mail room or shuffle papers. To a certain extent I agree. However, if you are applying for a job that handles money, whether it’s a cashier at a fast food chain or a gas station, then your credit worthiness could be a factor in the hiring process. If you want to work at a bank or as a salesman with a job that comes with a corporate credit card, then your credit will be a factor. Here’s why…an employer is trusting you with access to their money and if you have not been responsible with your own money it gives them pause when considering to hire you. In their minds, the temptation is too great. They are not sure that you can even be approved for the corporate card and they will have to invest more time finding a suitable candidate. Again, let me help you avoid this obstacle and possible disappointment.
The goal is to give you the knowledge and skill set to increase your credit score, and more importantly; if you have a setback you will be equipped with strategies to return to your credit swagger. By now you have obtained your credit report from the 3 major credit bureaus. You’ve gotten your score. Now you know where you stand. Do you need a 800 FICO score to obtain credit swagger? No. If you are at 578, 675 is a great goal. According to Experian, one of the major credit bureaus, a 740 credit score will lift you to the Top 40% of Americans.
When your score climbs from 600 to 675 then to 708, your confidence, feeling of accomplishment and swagger will soar threw the roof. You will also think twice before skipping a payment to a creditor. It will not matter where you started but where you are on that day.
Here are your next steps: Verify that every open account listed on your credit report is yours. If it’s accurate. Great. If not, click the dispute button and simply alert the credit bureaus that the account is not yours or that you don’t recognize it. They will do the work for you. Once the company that is claiming it’s your account is notified, they have 30 days by law to respond and verify the debt. If they miss the date, it’s removed from your report. Having negative items removed from your report should result in an increase in your credit score. If it is your debt, then you have other options.
Dispute ANY and ALL negative items on your credit report. Often times the debt has been sold to another company or a debt collection agency and they cannot verify who actually is responsible for the debt. This may work in your favor. It takes some time, patience and diligence but it’s well worth it and will payoff in the end.
Paying your bills on time and following the steps in this article will begin the process to a higher credit score. Stay tuned…come back for more great reads and tips about your Credit Swagger.