When your credit score takes a hit, the impact on your financial situation is lasting. Poor credit issues can affect your credit score for up to seven years or ten years if you’ve filed for bankruptcy.
You don’t need to put your life on hold while taking steps to improve your credit. Here are some ways to better manage your finances, while developing essential money management skills.
Create more predictability
You can reduce some of the unknowns by choosing utility payment plans that allow you to equalize payments across a 12-month period. These plans add up the payments you made during the previous year and spread that amount across the year ahead.
Prepaid cell phones can also help you guard against unexpected charges for going over your minutes, texting limits, or data allotments. Most major carriers offer plans that allow you to pay for data and minutes up-front, and may not require a credit check to sign up.
However, even with more predictability and a monthly budget in place, an unexpected expense can jeopardize your finances, which is why it’s important to have reserve funds.
Build your reserves
Anticipate funds that may result from additional pay periods. For example, if you receive a paycheck every two weeks, there will be two times per year when you receive a third paycheck in a given month. Make a plan for how the checks will be allocated – whether to build savings, pay down debts, or as a payment toward another essential need.
Consider alternative types of cards
Consider using a debit card or secured credit card. With debit cards, funds are directly debited from your checking account when a purchase is made. With a secured credit card, you’re required to pay a deposit, which acts as collateral in case you fail to pay the bill on time. Like regular credit cards, a secured credit card will impact your credit score, and are subject to credit qualification, as well as a minimum payment requirement.
Having a low credit score doesn’t need to define your financial future. By taking these steps to bring more predictability, build reserves, and use different card options, you can start on the path towards improving your credit.