How to raise your credit score...and how not to ruin it in the first place

First post of  2014. WoooHooo!! I still have no idea how its 2014 already but, I'll tell you a week with two Monday's and Two Friday's is a killer. I may not survive my second set of Monday/Friday's. I really should have scheduled these days off.

Anyway, If your New Years Resolution was to get a grip on your credit score (or if it wasn't but it should have been) today's post is for you. A few years ago I was going through a divorce and wanted to refinance my car into my name only. I hate to say but I wasn't terribly surprised to find out that they wouldn't refinance. Turns out when you are a complete stubborn ass about not paying for bills your ex should have been responsible for, and tell collection companies to fuck off that you aren't paying them because it wasn't your expense, then they will crush your credit score. At one point my score was low 500's. That's sad. You can't finance an ice cream cone with a credit score like that. Much less buy a house or a car. Turns out they really don't care that you've never been late or missed a car payment if it looks like you don't pay anything else.

First I am going to give you some tips I learned over my years of credit recovery on how to avoid having your score tank and then I will help you improve your score if its already in the toilet. Even if you have decent credit there is almost always room to improve it.
1. As I mentioned above DON'T tell the collection companies to fuck off
2. Goes without saying, but pay your bills on time
3. If you don't manage to pay them on time, try to pay them BEFORE they go to collections
4. If they go to collections you have 2 choices
(a) just don't pay (it is automatically taken off from your record after 7 years of non payment.) or earlier if you follow my tips below,
(b) go ahead and pay it and follow my steps below.
5. If you have credit cards only use about 30% and attempt to pay off every month. I choose not to have credit cards because honestly I suck at not using them.
6. If you have student loans and it is in deferment, pay the interest because the interest is always accuring and after awhile it may mean that you owe more than your allowed loan amoutnt and that looks horrible on your credit. (trust me this was a BIGGIE for me)
7. Instead of a deferment see what the payment will be if you change it to an income based payment. 
8. Every time you apply for credit it puts a "hard pull" on your credit report and hard pulls lower your score. You want as few pulls as possible. Each pull last 2 years on your credit.
9. Beware of collection companies calling you, its not uncommon for them to sell your collection to another company and on and on. This gives them money, but keeps the collection on your record. Seems pretty sneaky to me.  

Now lets say you are ready to apply for a loan and you realize that your credit sucks worse than a 30 year old hoover. What can you do to improve your score. I learned this the hard way, by shelling out 300.00 for professional credit recovery help. This is easy and its something you can do on your own. I have done mine and Greg's. Greg's score went up 85 points. (yeah I really am a good girlfriend when I want to be)
I signed up for Credit Karma its free and I check it a few times a month now (this is NOT a sponsored post I just REALLY love them. You are able to check your score and see what changes have happened with your credit and did I mention its free. They get there money from sponsored ads on the site and when you take the pre paid cards that are offered.

Now that you know how to check your score whenever you want here are the steps to follow to credit any mistakes.

1. I advise you to dispute everything even if you know its accurate. Because sometimes they will remove the negative items anyway.
2.Log on to the websites of the three main credit bureaus.
Equifax, Transunion, Experian

On Equifax just scroll down to the bottom and click dispute info on credit report. Follow instructions from there.Do the same for Transunion and the same for Experian only they will want to charge you a dollar to see your current report first.

This will take about a month to complete and then repeat the process up to 2 more times.

As I mentioned I paid 300 for someone to "clean up my credit" This process is what they did. It takes maybe 30 min total for all three credit bureaus.

Its as simple as that.

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  1. Great clean up tips! I've never heard of doing that before.

  2. I hadn't either until I was referred to someone that did it for me. Then when I realized what she was doing, I felt completely ripped off. Oh well live and learn.

  3. I read a lot of finance blogs, but I never heard of your tips before. Great post, Holly, thanks for sharing this helpful info! I am going to check out Credit Karma.

    1. That may be because I know nothing about finance (which may be how I ended up in credit score trouble to begin with) Everything I learned was trial and error.

  4. i use credit karma! and credit sesame and i pay monthly for my fico. i used to be in the low 500s also, i thought my life was over. now i have decent credit but still need some things cleaned up. can you give me more details on this $300 thing you did?!

    1. The $300 thing was a credit cleanup She basically got some info from me a copy of my drivers license, a bill with my address, and a note saying she had permission to discuss my credit with the bureaus. Then she contacted them and disputed items on my report to all three agencies. When we got a credit check back after about a month, she did the process again. She did it 3 times. At the end of those times the credit was up some. That's when I signed up for Credit Karma and started monitoring my credit myself and contact the bureaus when I noticed something not accurate. I finally have good credit but its been a long process. I can give her contact info if you would like it.


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