Millennials, This Is How To Start Repairing Your Credit

Millennials, This Is How To Start Repairing Your Credit - the confused millennial, millennial blog, creditrepair.com [ad]





A few months ago, I wrote a post on why you need a rewards credit card, the response was overwhelming. A lot of people commented that they would love to get a rewards credit card, but their credit is in the toilet so they’re avoiding repairing their credit all together. I’ve partnered with CreditRepair.com for this post to bring you some tips and tools for repairing your credit.  Your finances should be working FOR you rather than against you.

LBH: the world of finance can feel overwhelming. Most of the words sound like gibberish: micro-investing? robo advisor? FICO? SAY WUHHH?

The truth is, the terms aren’t as scary as we make them out to be, it’s just no one really taught us them (at least nobody taught me them).

Here’s the thing though, credit scores and managing your credit doesn’t need to be scary. In fact, if you develop an understanding of what credit is, how it works, and how to use it effectively, you can change your relationship with credit for the rest of your life! Repairing your credit doesn’t need to feel impossible.
Let’s start with the basics:

What is a credit score?

Your credit score simply tells lenders how likely you are to repay them. Landlords, banks, mortgage lenders, credit card companies, and other lenders need a quick and easy reference to determine how likely you are to pay them back on time. Enter the credit score.

How is a credit score used?

Your credit score is primarily used to help you get leases, loans, and better interests rates on those things. If you’re a gazillionnaire and can pay for everything in cash all the time, you would probably never even need a credit score. But, since most of us aren’t on Daddy Warbucks payroll, we want to use credit to get things like a mortgage (and maybe those new shoes, but really, don’t do it – more on that later though).

 

How are credit scores calculated?

Okay, here is where it gets a little sticky, unless you have no credit history, you have more than five credit scores! Generally they vary by 20-50 points between one another, at an extreme level, no more than 100 points, but you won’t have any say in which one a lender pulls.

Why are there so many credit scores?

Let’s start with the credit bureaus, aka “The Big 3,” Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. Each of the credit bureaus calculates a credit score on your behalf. Overall they look at the same factors, but weigh them a little differently. In addition to the Big 3, you also have a FICO score and a VantageScore. Both of which take into account information from The Big 3, as well as some additional factors and plugs all this info into their respective algorithm to generate a score. FICO and VantageScore make money each time a lender uses their formula to calculate a score. To make things a little more complicated, both brands of scores have different versions, meaning more possible scores! Generally, the FICO Score is the most widely used score across lender’s. The down side? It’s probably your lowest score.

FICO Scores are typically the most conservative, which makes sense why lender’s would want to look at that one. VantageScore takes into account if you’ve paid something off that went to collections, FICO 8 does not. Vantage Score offers alternative data (recurring monthly payments like utility or phone bills), FICO doesn’t currently. FICO requires you to have a least 6 months of credit history, VantageScore requires 30 days. FICO marks accounts as inactive after 6 months, whereas VantageScore requires them to be inactive for 24 months. I can probably go into an entirely different post breaking down just these few points and what they mean, but I won’t today.

The takeaway –> Don’t get caught up by a number. Instead focus on which range you’re falling in! Moreover, if you don’t need a line of credit or a loan in the next year or two, don’t sweat that it’s in the toilet! It’ll recover if you’re doing the next right thing!

Millennials, learn what credit is and how to get started in repairing your credit score today - The Confused Millennial, millennial blog

What do you mean by doing the “next right thing”?

I mean taking actions to actually repair your credit! That means not signing up for every store credit card (they are usually a trap and you shouldn’t do it). Don’t charge the hottest trending clothes. Pay your credit card bill on time (that’s one of the most heavily weight factors for your credit!).

ACTION STEPS:

a) Stop charging things that you can’t pay off that day. Seriously, don’t book that hotel room or buy that new jacket if you can’t pay for it that day. I don’t care how good the sale is or how badly you want it, there will be another one. Start to think of your credit cards like debit cards, only use what you have in an account. There’s a myth many of us heard growing up, “you want to carry a small balance month to month to show you can use revolving credit effectively” – well guess what, that myth has gotten more people into trouble than not. In the long run, you’ll be better off paying your credit card bills in full every month than carrying a balance, especially if you have a history of over spending.

b) Set reminders to pay your credit card bill at least a week in advance, if not more.

… A few things with this…

1) If you pay your credit card bill every week, it can lower your utilization ratio (a heavily weight factor in your credit score).

2) If you use a store credit card, chances are you’ll forget about paying it. Especially if you’re anything like me (opts for paperless billing and signs up for store stuff with a rarely checked email address). Get in the habit of paying the bill the day you make the purchase! Financial chaos (read: forgetting) is a major factor for most Americans living in debt.

3) Life happens! Sometimes things just don’t go our way, so make sure to set a reminder (or even two) to pay your bills a week in advance of being due (or even the day it comes in!). Stop waiting until the last minute, it’s only going to add unnecessary stress.

 

Start Repairing Your Credit Score

In line with getting organized on bill payments, you should probably know your credit score; or at least one of them. This will help you figure out what your next move should be. You can sign up for a free Credit Karma account which will give you your TransUnion and Equifax scores, or you can visit AnnualCreditReport.com to pull your credit history from The Big 3.

ACTION STEP: Check your credit scores and histories, report any errors in writing.

Depending on what range you fall in your credit score, you may want to consider enlisting a professional. Especially if you have derogatory remarks on your accounts or things in collection. CreditRepair.com helps individuals achieve the credit score they desire, but more than that, they help you change your relationship with credit! If you’ve ever attended a local credit workshop with me, you know I’m usually skeptical of credit repair sites or services. They don’t fix the deeper behavioral issue. However, CreditRepair.com provides people with so much more than removing negative items from their history.

creditrepair.com credit repair resources

CreditRepair.com has a fantastic resource library for users to learn. The library covers specific terms, myths, consumer protection and government resources, case studies, and access to the experts! Seriously, knowledge is power when it comes to your finances. If you’re taking the first step to repair your credit, you mine as well learn as much as possible in the process.

Don’t just hand your stuff over to someone and close your eyes. You’ll likely end up in the exact same situation down the road. CreditRepair.com also provides weekly text/email updates on your score, and access to the Member Services team to answer any questions between 5:00 AM MST to 10:00 PM MST. Lastly, they also use your FICO Score when working to repair your credit, since this is the most commonly used score thats a huge win to get a better overall picture of where you stand.

 

Gain Self Awareness

Look at where you messed up in the past and why. If you’re working with a professional through CreditRepair.com ask a team member about how to handle future situations. Spend time in their resource library learning more about credit scores, how they work, and how to handle certain situations as they come up. The great thing with CreditRepair.com and credit scores, is that they are pretty easy to understand once you’ve spent a little time reading and speaking to an expert.

Remember, just because you screwed up in your early twenties, doesn’t mean you should avoid credit forever. Learn the ins and outs of credit, get your questions answered. It takes months to build excellent credit, and only a few hours to destroy it. By setting a strong foundation early on, you’ll set yourself up for success in the future!

 

You Might Also Like

  • These are great tips, Rachel. I love that there are companies out there who assist people in repairing their credit.

  • These are awesome! They say it takes years to build a solid credit score and one, single bad decision to completely mess it up! Love that you spend so much time educating!

  • Jennifer Naugler

    These are great …I have sent them to my adult children…just for some light reading. 😉 Thank you!

    • Rachel Ritlop

      Haha you have no idea how many times I rewrote and cut out things, thinking to myself “this is to heavy, this is too much all at once” haha!

  • Miss ALK

    I had no idea there were so many different types of credit scores- huh! I definitely follow the rule of not charging things to my card that I couldn’t afford to pay for with my debit card… it boggles my mind that people would even do that?! So damaging to your financial future! I previously used my debit card for most things but now I’m trying to charge all of my everyday purchases to credit so I can make more rewards!

    xoxo A
    http://www.southernbelleintraining.com

    • Haha that was my reaction with them all too! You should check out debitize! It turns your credit card into a debit card essentially and automatically pays for you (its free)

  • Great tips! My husband and I are paying down our credit card now so I’ll have to keep all this in mind.

  • Sarah Jean

    My husband and I pay off our credit cards religiously. He still has better credit than me but we’re both doing fairly well. I love how just good spending habits can equal better credit. (Don’t buy what you can’t pay off!)

    • That’s awesome! Right, it really can be that simple!

  • Kelsie Kleinmeyer

    This is great! We love our credit card points, but never put anything on them that we can’t pay off right away! It helps build our credit too.

  • Jeffrey E. Segura

    Thank you so much for sharing this information! I’ve always been careful about being able to only buy what I could pay off

  • This is INCREDIBLY helpful! I love your finance pieces because I feel like I’m totally finance stupid. lol.

    • Haha well thank you! and I’m sure you know more than you realize!

  • What a great post! 🙂 I thankfully have a good credit score because I never charge more than I can pay each month which is definitely helpful. I always enjoy your posts like this.

  • Such great info!

    -Alix

  • What does it mean to lower your utilization ratio? Is that a good or bad thing? Lol.

    • Robin

      Basically, utilization is the ratio of how much debt you have compared to the credit limit you’ve been given. So your credit card company issues you a credit card with a limit of $10,000, and you’ve spent $9000; so your utilization ratio would be the ratio of that $9000 of debt to the available $10,000 you have to spend. You want to display that you can spend money and pay it back quickly and reliably, so having a high utilization ratio (i.e. more unpaid debt) is bad – and also because you have to pay more interest the longer that it sits!

      • Robin

        Sorry, Rachel, hope it’s okay that I answered this, hahah – saw the comment as I was writing mine and I knew the answer and wanted to help!!

        • Haha no worries!! @disqus_Z5Yo6YHKGc:disqus everything @Likerockstar:disqus said and some more tid bits: how I always explain it is the higher the UR the more “risky” you appear – i.e. spending up to your credit limit looks riskier! — if you’re trying to maintain a credit score you generally want to stay at 30% UR ($3,000 outstanding if you have a $10k limit) – if you are trying to aggressively repair, you want your UR to be at 7% — think of it as a different debt to income ratio that’s looked at more often today (and in my opinion easier to understand) — by paying off your bill every week, you’ll lower the number ultimately reported on your monthly statement, and thus factored into your UR!

          • Ok! Thanks, girl! I appreciate both of you answering my question!

      • Awesome! That makes sense! Thanks so much!

  • Robin

    This is SO important and I’m so glad that you wrote a whole post on it (with gifs! Topics like this NEED gifs!). My husband learned all of this the hard way, so he taught me everything that I know about the crazy complicated, often counterintuitive credit system and I’m so thankful for it. I really hope this post empowers a ton of people to make smart decisions in this area – it’s so easy to mess up when you’re young and end up paying it off (literally) for years to come. <3

    • Haha topics like this definitely need gifs! I’ve had a few people IRL joke about the “lighweight” monday read haha! It’s SO easy to mess up when you’re young, my husband did and when we started dating between my spending habits and just learning more about finance he was able to get himself out of debt in just a few years!

  • Bella Bucchiotti

    This is such great info!!! Thanks for sharing all this.

  • I have gone from a really low credit score to almost 850 recently. I have really repaired my credit but it took around 7 years to fix. It does take some time but if you’re diligent and make the correct moves, it can be done!

  • This is a really helpful post, thank you. You hear so much about having a poor credit score, so it’s great to read a post that actually gives advice on how to improve it.

  • This is SO AWESOME. I love that they give weekly updates…that’s so helpful, and I know I’m always curious and nervous since pulling credit too often can negatively affect your score! I have a great score currently, so my goal is to KEEP IT!

    Coming Up Roses

    • Well they changed the laws of hard and soft inquires actually – so it just depends who/when they pull scores and whether or not it impacts you (for instance, no one would use credit karma if pulling the score hurt)

  • Ashley Stephenson

    When my husband and I got married his credit was awful – with a little work and a year later his credit score is up and doing good! We got a CC together and I charged a lot to it and paid it off every time and it helped him so much!

  • Patricia Conte

    Great advice and lots of good info! I’m going to try to do like you suggest and pay a week early! Great idea!

  • Leighann Hall

    Great info! I always wondered why there were so many different scores!

  • mckenna bleu

    great tip to start only charging things if you can pay them back that day! These are great tips! I always love the gifs you use lol

  • Every since my no buy I’m obsessed with checking all this stuff out. I just request my credit reports so I’m interested to see how I’m doing!

    • Awesome!! It’s funny, once you get interested in this stuff, it snow balls! haha after my no spend 4 months I started learning so much! A great book that taught me a lot about the relationship with money was Dave Ramsey’s Financial Freedom, super easy read (skimmable too)

  • Taylor Smith

    I am really glad my husband has amazing credit. I have zero credit because I have never had a credit card. I know I should start!!

    • You can actually still have a credit score even if you’ve never had a credit card!

  • Jessica Bradshaw

    This is great! My husband and I have been very protective of our credit score for years, so I know how important it is. Hope this helps so many people!

  • This is great advice. I’ve been really working on my credit score this year and it’s making major improvements.

  • Delona Benitez

    This is a great post! In the past two years, I graduated from college (hello student loans), bought a car, took out my first lease, bought a house….all things that really gave me headaches trying to navigate the different aspects of my credit score and how to improve it. You did a wonderful job at not just breaking it down, but giving detailed examples of how to improve credit scores!

    • Thank you! Happy it was helpful! And that is a lot to navigate in such a short period of time! Happy it all worked out in the end ( i can imagine the headache haha)

  • Again girl I always love how you explain things. Credit scores are one of those things that are so confusing, and people are always trying to sell you things when you start looking for info. Especially for someone who is not into numbers or data, this was SUPER helpful.

    • Awe thank you!! haha yeah, I hear you! Let me know if you have any follow up questions! I held a lot back because I didnt want to overwhelm the post

  • This is such a helpful breakdown. I studied finance but still don’t understand all the ins and outs of a credit score. Thank you for simplifying it!

  • This is awesome. Ugh, credit is so stressful! Why did I ever think it was a good idea to college and waste money that I didn’t have?! lol

  • Diana Lucia

    Wow, this is super informative! Thank you for breaking it down, you made it super easy to understand! 🙂

    • So happy it was easy to understand! I re-wrote it like 6 times trying to get the right balance! haha

  • This is such great advice. It’s so important to be aware of your credit score and ways of improving it. It’ll be so beneficial for you in the long run. I learned so much from this post! I definitely need to check out this website.

  • thesofieyahdiaries

    Thanks so much!! I don’t have my own credit card yet and I hate that.. thanks for sharing these tips!!

    http://thesofieyahdiaries.com/bullet-journal/tips-for-effective-bullet-journaling

  • Great tips, girl! Credit stuff can be kind of scary and overwhelming (I’m not sure how the score is compiled will ever COMPLETELY make sense to me) but making sure to live within your means is certainly the biggest thing people need to remember!

    • Haha if it makes you feel better, it’s not the exact same every time every where! The easiest thing to keep in mind when understanding the score is your Utilization Ratio (I got more in depth on Kristins comment on that), paying on time – those two things can make up a huge amount of your score! Then your most recent activity is weighted the heaviest, so when you’re doing the right thing it’s working for you!

  • Anna Hubbard

    Just talking about credit stresses me out, haha! But these all sound like really good tips!!

    • HAha oh no! Hope I made it digestable enough for you!

  • Daynna Hartjes

    Amazing advice, getting your credit to a good place is so important with all of the life necessities that rely on having good credit! Thanks for sharing this advice! 🙂

  • I LOVE that you wrote a post about improving your credit score! A lot of people put off working on their credit score in their twenties, but this is actually the time when you can get your credit in a really good spot. Then once you’re ready to purchase a home or a new car, you’ll be able to get good interest rates on loans. Working on my credit actually allowed me to refinance my student loans recently so I could get a better interest rate and pay less in the end 🙂

    • Exactly!! It’s funny, the system is stacked against you if you stay in the dark and don’t learn it!

  • Sydney Power

    Oh this is good, I never purchase unless I have the money to pay it off right away, it keeps my peace of mind

    • It really does! Another thing I do is wait 3 days and if I am still thinking about the purchase, then I’ll get it.

  • Such a great post! It took me a long time to understand credit but I’ve got it down now. 🙂

  • These are such great tips! I’m actually in the process now of getting everything paid off quickly, and already I’ve started seeing a difference!

    • Yup! Your most recent activity is weighted the heaviest, so it’s a lot easier to see progress than people think!

  • These are fantastic tips! Ones that my husband and I are now going to stick by now that we are just about to pay off our maxed out credit card. We will not be getting in that situation again!

    • That’s awesome! Congrats! And good for you guys making the lifestyle change!

  • Jennifer Schmidt

    I have good credit besides not having enough in my name. How should I fix that besides getting credit cards? I am an old fashioned cash gal. If I don’t have the money in the bank, I don’t buy.

    • While having more varied types of credit (revolving credit cards, mortgage, student loans, etc.) will certainly give you some points on your score – it’s not necessary! You can still be in the excellent range with only a few credit cards! IMO, no need to open unnecessary credit lines! Just keep your utilization ratio low, space out hard inquiries, always pay on time, and keep your OLDEST credit card “active” to account towards your credit history!

      • Jennifer Schmidt

        I have student loans, car payment, and cell phone bill. Along with past apartment rents. I have never missed a payment or payed late. Which has kept me in good standings. My parents raised us to not have massive debt and if we get a credit card we pay it in full every time we make a purchase.

  • This is great info! We really need to work towards improving our credit scores since we’re hoping to buy a house in the next few years. It seems really overwhelming right now, but I know we can do it!

    • You definitely can! I upvoted a few comments where the comment or my reply has some useful additional tips too!

  • Great article. One thing I have done with all of my cards that helps is to set them up to make the minimum payment automatically. this way it is never late and always paid on time. But I set up all my bills to pay bi-weekly according to pay dates. Like you said this constantly lowers interest and pays things off faster. No one really talked to me about credit either and it hurt me early on, but now tha tI am in my thirties I have gotten it together for the most part!

    • Yes!! That’s another tip I recommend when I do workshops!

  • i definitely need to work on my credit. Getting denied isn’t fun!

    • Nope! that’s another tip I should’ve included, always check the criteria before applying! Each app is a hard inquiry which hurts!

  • The timing of this post is perfect! My husband and I were JUST talking about our credit scores last weekend. I’ll have to show him this post for sure!

    • Oh no way!! Hope it helps! The hubs was over 7k or something in debt when we started dating and his credit was in the toilet, but after a couple of years he was out of debt and his score is no excellent!

  • Adriana

    Such great tips! Having good credit is so important!

  • Amy

    So helpful!! My dad always told me from a young age how important credit scores were and I’ve always made sure I had good credit since I opened up my first card.

    xoxo,

    Amy | Pastel N Pink

  • Dia

    Thanks for sharing this. It’s so important for people our age to be aware of their credit score. I am noticing it more as people start house shopping they look into it but it’s better to start early.

    • For sure! It’s the habits we get in now that dictate our future!

  • So many good ideas. It’s so easy to get into debt as a young person, when they send so many cc apps through the mail, makes it seem simple! Love the thought of paying down at least once a week!

    • Seriously! So many people don’t realize that each time they sign up, it hurts them!

  • I love that you focus on these types of topics, many people don’t totally understand the importance of credit. Loved this post!

  • This is the article that EVERY millennial needs to read asap! So glad you wrote this guide!

    Jennifer Ashley
    http://www.prettylittledetails.com

  • Wow! So much great information. I am just starting to learn about all this. My favourite part of being a kid was not paying bills! 🙂

    • Haha right? We totally didn’t appreciate it back then

  • Such great info!! I was so blessed to have self educated myself before I applied for my first credit card when I was 18. It is SO important to maintain good credit, especially for millennials!

  • jessica luis

    if you need to work on your credit then honestly you need to read this,it’s so amazing when you have been through an experience and you see
    people with the same trouble and you are in the position to help share
    my experience,I have one credit card that I pay off every month and
    never charge more than 20 percent of its limit. My house, vehicle, etc.
    are all paid for. I spend very little as I need little. I have been
    frugal all my life and now I find a credit score of 500. I don’t owe a
    soul and am very careful with my money. I just don’t understand why I am
    penalized for that..I contacted a credit scoring firm to figure this
    whole thing out for me but got turned down several times not until I
    read about a well recommended private investigator..He is all over the
    internet and nobody has ever spoke negative of him…I took a leap of
    faith and gave him a try..He boosted my scores 780 and I can’t thank him
    enough..He’s blunt and honest..And he respects whatever agreement you
    make with him..You all should give him a try for your credit score
    boost..His contact details are [email protected]…please try him he wont fail you

More in Finance, Real Life
How to Stay Motivated When Working on the Road - The confused millennial, millennial blog
How to Stay Motivated When Working on the Road

Close