JSC Federal Credit Union is here to help you build your credit by providing resources about everything you should know about how to build your credit, how you can get a free copy of your credit report and much more!
Credit Building Resources
Got assets? We say use them! If you have existing funds in a savings account or in a share certificate, you can use those funds to secure a loan for the things you need right now.
Make your occasional need for extra cash easy and convenient with this line of credit loan.
JSC FCU offers free seminars on various credit and lending topics. Visit our calendar to learn more and register to attend an upcoming seminar.
Visit www.annualcreditreport.com to get a free copy of your credit report!
Free Annual Credit ReportMonitor your credit with free annual credit reports. The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) states that each of the three main credit bureaus - TransUnion, Experian and Equifax - must provide you with a free annual credit report once a year. You can use these free reports to monitor your credit throughout the year - this is very important to do because incorrect (and possibly negative) information can be added to your credit records at any time.
You can order your credit report from each of the credit bureaus individually, or visit www.annualcreditreport.com to get a free copy of all three of your credit reports. Here's how to monitor your credit simply by using your three free annual credit reports:
1. Order a credit report from one bureau in January.
Monitor the report for mistakes. Double-check to make sure that all the charges on your credit report are yours, and that they were billed correctly. Additionally, make sure all of your personal information is correct. (Check, for example, to make sure that your Social Security number is listed correctly.)
2. Order your next credit report, from a different bureau, in May (or four months after you ordered your first report).
Again, check for errors, but also keep an eye out for new activity - that is, activity within the last four months. If you don't recognize a new account, that could be a sign of identity theft.
Also, check to make sure that the information is up-to-date. If you know you paid off a loan or another line of credit, but your credit report says the debt is still outstanding, you'll need to dispute that item on your credit report. Disputing inaccurate information is particularly important if you plan to apply for a new line of credit any time soon. Your interest rate will depend in good part on your credit score, after all, and your credit score is determined by the information in your credit report.
3. Order your final credit report, from the third credit bureau, in September (or four months after you ordered your second report).
Once again, check for errors and new activity. The hope is that you'll recognize and agree with every item on your credit report. The point of monitoring your credit regularly is to ensure that you address inaccurate information and/or investigate suspicious activity as quickly as possible.
Remember: Just because a credit report is free doesn't mean it's accurate. Review all your credit-related documents carefully.
If necessity really is the mother of invention, there's no time like the present to show your stuff. When the credit markets and overall U.S. financial system started sputtering, it immediately became very important for you to keep your finances flowing.
As always, there isn't a magic formula, but certain credit practices do exist that allow you to help yourself. Start by remembering that building up too much debt automatically puts you at a disadvantage. Try thinking in terms of dollars earned vs. take-home pay. It's basic, yes, but remember that a $1,000 credit card bill is equal to about $1,300 dollars earned - or more, depending upon how quickly you pay off the balance.
1. Don't settle for the minimum. Interest is a killer for your finances, so don't let those dollars pile up. If you can pay more than the minimum, be sure to do it. Compare your credit bills month to month, and pay close attention to interest payments.
2. Let your lenders know where you stand. Too many people think they're better off not communicating with their lenders; as long as they pay their bills, they figure that's all they need to do. Remember that lenders rely on you to make money. If you need a payment plan, ask for one.
3. Opt for debit over credit. One of the best ways to avoid credit card debt is to pay the bill immediately; an even better way is to use a debit card. Think of a debit card as more of a charge card - you're withdrawing money from an account on which you pay no interest. (And if you're thinking of your credit score, debit card transactions don't normally end up on your credit report.)
4. Don't get more credit than you need. One reason so many people have too much debt is that they have too many different ways to buy things. Cut down on credit cards, and beware 0% interest rate cards. Most of those expire within a year, and you're charged as much as 20% interest thereafter.
5. Keep tabs on your overall finances. Controlling your finances means being proactive. Don't ignore your credit report. Instead, check it regularly. Credit reports actually have a space at the bottom for comments.
The one thing you can control in tough economic times - or any time - is how you manage your credit. When it comes time to get that loan, make that payment, or consider a new credit card, knowing your finances inside and out can make all the difference.
As the nation continues to deal with the aftermath resulting from years of reckless lending, excessive risk-taking and undisciplined money management, over-extended consumers are taking their cue and trying to put their own financial house in order and regain control of household spending.
There's no better time to do so than after the temptations of the holiday shopping season are behind us. Start the new year off with firm resolutions to pay down debt, shop smart, save more and, in these challenging economic times, preserve and protect your credit like the golden egg it is.
Follow this 12 step plan to rejuvenate your personal spreadsheet and position yourself for a prosperous year.
- Set goals, and put them in writing. Everyone's circumstances are different, so spend some quality time thinking about your own priorities. Put your goals in writing - it makes it more likely you'll achieve them. Post them in a prominent spot, like near your desk or on the fridge, as a daily reminder to help you stay focused. Your financial goals should coincide with your life goals. Break them into short-, intermediate- and long-term objectives with actionable, incremental steps to achieve them. Revisit them monthly to monitor your progress.
- Track spending. Feeling like you've lost control of your finances is not always about lack of income. Sometimes, it has more to do with a disorganized approach to finances or even simple ignorance about where your money really goes. If this is you, track everything you spend for one month, then put your spending into categories (food, utilities, entertainment, etc.). Categorizing your spending and then scanning your list for excesses will quickly reveal your weaknesses, whether it's Italian leather shoes (I bought how many pairs last month) or your growing DVD collection.
- Change your attitudes about money. It's easy to fall off the frugal wagon, but fundamental changes in your outlook are essential to avoid lapsing into old spending patterns. Learn how to say no to your spouse or children without feeling guilty.
- Make paying down your credit card debt a high priority. Credit cards carry higher interest rates than any other type of loan, so it makes sense to pay off outstanding credit card debt first, before other types of loans. You'll save in interest payments, eliminate possible late payment penalties and boost your credit score.
- Avoid taking on new debt. Aside from a house, car or college tuition, adopt the habit of saving until you can pay cash for any purchase. Deferred gratification until you can pay cash means your purchases will hold more meaning and value for you. Live within your means or, better yet, below your means.
- Turbo-charge your savings rate. It's a recession-defense measure and could prove to be a lifesaver in the event of an office downsizing. Specify what you'll save (in writing, again), by what date and how you'll free up money to do it. Be realistic, but challenge yourself. Keep the money in a high yield, online savings or money market account, which often offer better rates than your local brick-and-mortar. And don't forget to check rates at your local credit union.
- Give credit its due. Review your credit report and score and, based on your personal fault lines, resolve to improve your credit by building a track record as a responsible borrower. Doing so could save you thousands of dollars in higher interest payments the next time you need a loan.
- Invest in yourself. If your job doesn't make you happy, doesn't pay enough or looks shaky, consider a career move to a growth industry, like healthcare, or one where layoffs are unlikely, like the military. If need be, increase your hours or take on a side job. It doesn't have to be a permanent move, just something to get you through a rough patch.
- Pare down major expenses. Look for ways to cut your biggest expenses, like your mortgage or auto or homeowners insurance. You can save on auto insurance, for instance, by increasing your deductible, taking a safe driver course, installing a car alarm or dropping collision coverage on an older vehicle. Property insurers don't always advertise the potential savings of these discounts, so call them to learn more.
- Trim recurring expenses. If making cuts on big annual bills isn't enough, look next to cut back on frills premium cable/satellite, your Netflix subscription, eating out or your gym membership. Decide what you can - and can't - live without, and remember that an either/or approach isn't necessary; often, all that's needed is downsizing, not elimination.
- Wean yourself from consumer society. Reuse, recycle, repair, or do without. Become a do-it-yourselfer. Grow your vegetables. Barter with others for things you need. Use your innate ingenuity to come up with ways to get what you need without having to buy new (or breaking the law).
- Know what's important. People and relationships, not possessions, are the truly valuable things in life. Cherish them, and experience what it's like to feel truly wealthy.