Hey everyone, thanks for coming back for more Monday Money! I loved the conversation we had in last week’s post, Are Credit Card Rewards Actually Free? I talked about interest, annual fees and several ways to avoid the cost of using a credit card to get rewards. But, the best part was that more and more valuable information started to be shared through the comments. So, I’m hoping to see your input at the end of today’s post which is about financial mistakes people make because their afraid of making the right decisions.
I’d like to start with a comment that I recently received on an article I wrote about credit scores. The article was intended to answer challenging questions about credit scores each of them very general that would apply to a broad group of people. The comment I received on the article was…
“Thanks for this article! I didn’t realize the age of the account mattered (older more established accounts count for more) – that’s really important information.
I know for us – I was thinking of reducing our credit card limit to a lower amount because having a $10,000 limit freaks me out. However, with that debt to credit ratio – maybe it would be better for us to wait.”
One of the biggest mistakes made when it comes to credit scores is using general answers in a very unique financial position. In the comment, Lindsey from Cents and Sensibility said that she is second guessing reducing her credit limit, even though having a huge credit limit freaked her out. In this unique situation, I would say reducing the credit limit is probably a good idea. Although, it may cause a slight reduction in her scores in the beginning, they definitely wont be the reason for going from excellent to good, good to fair or fair to poor credit. But, if she happens to go overboard with such a huge credit line, that can really make some drastic changes.
All of that being said, one of the best things to keep in mind when it comes to your credit score is that your score is designed to be a gauge of financial stability. They are not designed to be manipulated in any way. So, if you are starting your decision making process with, “How will this change my credit score?” chances are, you are making the wrong decision. The best way to go is to ask yourself, “Will this action be a benefit to my long term financial stability?”. If you are consistently thinking about your financial stability, your credit score will do nothing but grow!
Now that we’ve got that all cleared up, let’s talk about monitoring your credit. One of the things that irks me the most about rumors is that they stop people from doing positive things. I’ve talked to a lot of people that thought it would harm their credit score if they checked their credit report to often. That is not at all the case, it couldn’t be further from the truth. There are different types of credit checks. If you are asking for a loan, the request will most likely have an impact but, if you simply want to see where you stand, you are perfectly fine!
Another widespread rumor about credit reports is that you have to pay for them. I recently wrote an article that guided consumers through the process of requesting your free annual credit report. Here’s a comment that I received on that article from David at My 2 Cent Opinion…
“It’s very surprising how many people don’t know they can get it for free, like for real free, not freecreditreport.com free, but no strings attached free. Great instructional, more people definitely need to know this.”
Thanks again David for your comment, it’s just another source that shows that many consumers are under-informed and will hopefully make more people want to take a look at their free report!
When it comes to anything financial, it’s important to think about how it will change your level of financial stability. Doing so will always help to improve your credit scores and really keep you out of hot financial waters. Also, before paying for something like credit reports, do a bit of research and see if you can get it for free! You’d be surprised out how many free resources really are out there.