Financial Tips | Debt Management

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Common Sense Credit

The term “common sense” is a misnomer. Some people believe that it is common sense to get only one credit card. Other people believe that credit cards are evil and, therefore, it is common sense to never own a credit card. Still, others believe that credit cards are a necessity in today’s financial times and, therefore, it is common sense to own more than one credit card. Who is right? The truth is that they could all be right, and they could all be wrong. Everybody has a different situation, therefore, “common sense” for their situation will dictate.

My “common sense” tells me that most of us will buy a home and/or a car in our lives. Therefore, unless you are paying cash, you will need to have established some kind of a credit score in order to qualify for the loan that is necessary to pay for these things. You cannot establish credit unless you open a credit account. The most common type of credit account is a credit card. It is true that you can get loans from your bank, but without an established credit report, you will have to secure these loans with some sort of collateral.

If you do own a credit card or credit cards, there is “common sense” advice for you to follow. First, use your credit responsibly. People do not get into financial trouble overnight. It is a gradual process that people refuse to acknowledge before it is too late. Constantly monitor your spending habits and financial statements so that you know when to stop spending or when your finances will allow you a little more leg room.

Second, pay your bills on time. You would be surprised how many people, who have the money to pay the bill, just plain forget to pay. As a result, their credit score suffers. If you are that forgetful or lazy, as the case may be, set up an automatic bill pay through your bank’s internet site. If your bank does not have such a feature, there are many companies that can set up an automatic bill pay for you.

Last, get updated, monthly credit reports from the credit reporting bureaus. By doing this, you will be able to see if any incorrect information is reporting on your credit report. By checking monthly, you will be able to dispute inaccuracies as soon as possible and, thus, minimize your damage. It will cost you about $12-15 every month to get all of your reports, however, think of it as financial insurance against inaccuracies and identity theft.

Do these “common sense” things and you will be able to obtain and maintain a high credit score and sound financial health.

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