The challenges aren’t difficult, but they do help you take important steps towards managing your finances. In the past, some of the challenges have included: Track all your spending, cut your spending, update your resume, and reduce your future health expenses.
This month’s challenge is: Get on top of your credit. I’ll walk you through my experience with each challenge requirement and let you know if (and how) it’s benefited me. Let’s jump in, shall we?
Check your free credit report
This step requires you to go to annualcreditreport.com and request your report from the three major credit bureaus: Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian.
Since it’s the beginning of the year, and you only get one report from each bureau every year, I decided to request just one report from TransUnion.
This step was easy because I’m already signed up for two credit monitoring services: Credit Wise and Credit Sesame.
Personally, I enjoy Credit Wise—Capital One’s free credit monitoring service—because of its credit simulator feature. I can see how my score will be affected if I pay off credit card debt, apply for a mortgage or car loan, forget to pay a bill, etc.
It also helps that I’m a Capital One member, so all my information is in one place on their app—but don’t worry, anyone can use Credit Wise!
Another nice feature of Credit Wise is that it updates once every week, rather than every month like Credit Sesame. This is especially helpful if you’re keeping a close eye on your credit, or are trying to build it quickly.
Find out your credit score
Again, this was easy for me since I’ve been keeping an eye on my credit score. I, like many Millennials was afraid to use credit cards for some time, so I really didn’t have much of a credit score after graduating college.
But you’re probably asking why it’s important to track your credit score in the first place. Luckily, we have a lot to say on that subject!
You should track your score if:
You want to get a mortgage, car loan, or personal loan
Anyone who has ever applied for a loan knows that you need decent credit to get good rates. If you don’t know your score, you can’t make moves to improve it.
Luckily, many free credit monitoring services give you tips on how to improve your credit score based on your goals.
You need a push to start paying off debt
You need to pay off debt in order to improve our credit. It’s as simple as that. But getting started is the hard part.
Even if you pay off a little debt at a time, watching your score improve point by point can go a long way in giving you the kick in the pants you need.
You’re worried about security
We all heard about the Equifax breach. If you’re worried that your private information was compromised, one of the best tactics is to make sure there’s no errors on your report and no significant changes to your score. Many monitoring services offer security alerts to help you keep on top of any changes to your score.
Get rid of pre-approved credit card junk mail
This was one of the more rewarding parts of this challenge for me. I get way too many pre-approval offers, and, as I said above, I’m still not much of a credit card user (I’m not saying there’s anything inherently wrong with credit cards! It’s just a personal choice).
Reddit directs you to OptOutPrescreen.com, where you can choose to opt-in to credit card and insurance offers. This may be helpful for those looking to build credit and get pre-approved for the best offers.
Or, you can opt-out of these offers for five years. If you want to opt-out forever, you need to print and mail the Permanent Opt-Out Election form.
Improving your finances is important…but we all have a hard time actually doing it. The point of this challenge is clearly to help readers build and understand their credit score—and it’s a great start!
We want to help add to Reddit’s goal by giving you some resources that can help you improve your credit.
If you’re new to the credit world and have found that you don’t have the greatest score, here’s our step-by-step guide to get your started.
If you’re wary of credit cards (who wouldn’t be with the national debt so high?), a prepaid card may be the best way for you to start building credit.
On the other end, if you’re a little further along in your journey, and want a great credit card (that you’ll pay in full every month), here’s another guide to choosing the right card.
In addition, we have a few other guides that can help:
- Is A Credit Builder Loan Right For You?
- 13 Helpful Tips For Maintaining A Good Credit Score
- How Your Credit Scores Affect Mortgage Rates