Ah, the potential of a fresh, new year. It’s a whole new ballgame, if you will, and time to assess. How can you begin to achieve your goals? How will you get yourself and your life into peak shape, physically and financially? One of the first things we need to understand before moving forward is how the fallout from past struggles can impact our lives even years later, such as with a credit score. If your score is a weight on your financial health, it’s time to fix the issue. Fortunately, there are more tools and opportunities than ever before that can help you track, repair and optimize your credit.
1. Take advantage of credit trackers
Many credit card companies now offer some type of credit tracker for cardholders. For instance, Capital One uses a service called CreditWise. With this, you get monthly updates on your credit via easy-to-read graphs. Monthly email updates will provide your current credit score. If it has gone up or down from the previous month, you can find out why. Also, email alerts will let you know if there is any questionable activity on your accounts. Since hacking of credit and personal information is distressingly common these days, it’s important to be informed the moment any issue occurs to prevent major loss to your personal accounts and/or serious damage to your credit.
2. Consider a paid security service
If you have been victim to identity theft or a data breach, getting a paid service such as LifeLock or Identity Guard can add another layer of security to make sure you are not compromised further. These options can help you “freeze” and “unfreeze” credit so you can control when it’s used. Make sure to read the fine print.
3. Use the gig economy to pay down debt
The good news: You’ve identified the issues dragging down your credit, and you’re determined to fix them. The bad news: Your current salary doesn’t leave enough each month to make a significant dent. A solution: We now live in a “gig economy,” and there are many options for making extra money. Driving for Uber or Lyft — or making deliveries for Postmates, GrubHub or DoorDash — a few nights a week, can result in a few hundred dollars a month being made toward paying off rotating debt.
4. Always do your research to get the best deal
Before making any big purchase, take time to look closely at your options. For example, if it’s time to buy a new or used car, make sure you can find the one you want and are empowered to get the best possible deal. With the lowest price and interest rate available, you can keep your credit in its best shape possible. Keeping on top of your credit game gives you freedom of opportunity — and the bargaining power you don’t have when your credit score is not at its prime. Use modern tools and technology to monitor your score, protect yourself from unauthorized use and fix any existing issues so your score soars.