Whether you’ve lost a job or cut back hours at work, it can be hard to maintain a healthy credit score when times are tight. Most months it’s enough just to be able to cover all your bills. Who’s got time to worry about making payments on time?
With that in mind, we have seven simple tips to help you keep a healthy credit score.
- Review Your Budget and Bills
If you don’t already have a budget, now is definitely the time to put one together. Write down all of your bills and other payments that you need to make each month. Next, write down your monthly income including paychecks, unemployment, child support, etc. If your expenses outweigh your income, it’s time to do some juggling. The best way to do this is prioritize all your bills. Housing, food, transportation and utilities come first. After that, arrange your loans and credit cards to pay off the ones with either the largest balance or the highest interest rates sooner than the others.
- Put a Plan in Place
Once you have your budget figured out and prioritized your bills, you’ll need to stick to your budget and payment plan. If this means cutting back in other areas, then do it. Cook meals at home more, reduce the number of streaming services you use and make energy-saving choices to reduce your utility bills. Brainstorm on other ways you can cut expenses so you can keep to your budget and plan.
- Pay Your Bills!
We know this is easier said than done some months, but it’s vital to maintain a decent credit score. Credit reporting agencies look at what you owe, how much of your credit you’re using and if you make timely payments. It might help to use a bill tracking app that lets you input your monthly bills, dates and amounts to stay on track. You always want to make your minimum credit card payments at the very least, more if you can.
- Talk to Your Lenders
If you’re unable to make any of the above payments, let your lenders know before you go into default. Lenders are always there to work with you on payment options, but especially now that many people are unemployed and sick. Many lenders are waiving fees or allowing deferred payments. You’ll never know how your lender can help unless you call and ask.
- Transfer Your Balances
Have decent credit but are stuck with high interest rate credit cards? Now is the perfect time to look into transferring your credit card balances to a low or 0% rate card. Shop around for rates, and don’t forget to compare them to WWFCU’s Rewards Visa which offers 0% APR (annual percentage rate) for the first six months and no fees for balance transfers. Learn more here.
- Check Your Credit Report
It’s hard to maintain a decent credit score if you have no idea what’s on your credit report. You can get one free credit report from each of the credit reporting agencies each year at annualcreditreport.com. In fact, right now they’re offering free weekly credit reports. Checking out your credit report lets you see if there are any mistakes and gives you an idea of what shape your credit is in. Here’s how to understand your credit report.
- Get Credit Counseling
Sometimes we can do it all on our own. Sticking to a budget, dealing with lenders and maintaining a decent credit score all take a lot of work and know-how. That’s why it helps to work with a credit counseling agency. They might have some tips and tricks you haven’t thought of. WWFCU members receive free budget counseling and debt management help from our partner GreenPath Financial Wellness. Click here for details.
If you’re having a hard time paying your WWFCU loans or credit card bills, please reach out to us and let us know. Our Member Service Representatives are here to help, just call (734) 721-5700.