In order to help reach your financial and credit goals, it's good to have a plan in place. The plan itself doesn't have to be complicated, but it does require that you treat this journey as a marathon rather than a sprint.
Here are three simple things you can do to help get you started.
1. Create a Budget
The first thing you want to do is create a budget. One easy plan to follow is the 50-30-20 budget rule that sets your budget category accordingly. This means 50% of your income goes to “needs”, 30% to “wants” and 20% to reaching your financial goals.
The "needs" category covers everything you need to stay alive. Rent, utility bills, groceries and healthcare costs fall in this category. You should also include minimum payments on credit card bills, student loans and other debts. These types of bills need to get covered to avoid late fees and a negative impact to your credit scores.
The "wants" category includes things that aren't necessities but that enhance your life in some way. Eating out, gym memberships and entertainment, for example, fall within this category.
Use the remaining 20% of your budget to reaching your financial goals. This can include paying off debt, investing, starting your own business and saving.
2. Pay Down Debt
Do you know that a large portion of your credit scores are determined by your amount of debt and how well you do in paying that debt back on time? When you pay your bills on time and lower your amount of debt compared to your credit limit, the more positively impacted your credit score can be. Higher credit scores can get you lower interest rates, which can save you thousands over the course of a loan.
3. Credit Report Monitoring
Credit report monitoring refers to a tool or service that tracks changes in your credit reports. A credit report contains your debts, your payment history, credit inquiries, your personally identifiable information and credit scores. You can think of it as a report card for how you manage your debt.
Keeping track of your credit scores allows you to track your financial progress and identify where you can make positive changes to reach your credit goals. Monitoring your credit report also helps you identify possible suspicious activity, such as fraud and identity theft, and act quickly before significant financial damage can happen.
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