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If you have bad credit, you are not alone.
Did you know that 56% of Americans are haunted by bad credit? It’s depressing, but true. Odds alone suggest you would likely benefit from learning how to improve your credit score (even if your score is okay).
As it turns out, having a poor credit score can hurt you in several ways – many of which you may not expect.
When was the last time you checked your credit score?
I was really surprised to learn that nearly 60% of Americans don’t know what their credit score is.
According to Doug Lebda, founder and CEO of LendingTree, “Knowing your score and checking it periodically is not only important for today’s financial health, but can substantially impact your finances in the future.” It’s the important first step in your journey to improve your credit score.
How you can check and improve your credit score for free:
There are tons of services out there that will give you your credit score for “free”… as long as you sign up for a trial and give them your credit card info. So, not actually free.
That’s why we’re such fans of Credit Sesame — you can legit get your credit score for free with no gimmicky credit card signup nonsense.
So if you don’t know your credit score, go ahead and check it real quick before reading the rest of this article.
Sign up to get your free credit score. No credit card required & looking won't impact your score.Check Score
9 Negative Side Effects of a Bad Credit Score
So how did your score stack up?
Below is a chart that shows the different credit score categories and their ranges.
Something to keep in mind: every creditor defines its own ranges for each level of credit, so this chart is not set in stone. For instance, some creditors consider any score above 720 to be excellent.
The further down the chart you are, the more you could be at risk for the side effects of poor credit and high consumer debt.
1. Being less happy in your marriage
It’s no secret that marriage itself isn’t easy. It’s also not surprising that debt and marriage are no match made in Heaven.
What is surprising is that scientific research has revealed married people experience more distress over taking on a new debt than people who are single.
Having a less than ideal credit history just adds to the stress.
2. Divorce due to financial struggles
A poor credit score is a common denominator in many failed relationships. Research has revealed that financial stress is the leading cause of divorce in America. In fact, scientific findings suggest that consumer debt is more detrimental to a couple’s relationship than sexual matters!
3. Limited work prospects
As it turns out, our financial reputation (ie, credit history/score) can affect the jobs you can apply for and your likelihood of being hired. What you probably didn’t know is that a low credit score can actually interfere with obtaining professional licenses!
The “Fair Credit Reporting Act” allows government agencies to review your credit when you’re applying to relevant jobs. Even companies that aren’t government operated are able to perform background checks that might reveal your credit score.
4. Decreased standard of living
Having a low credit score is usually associated with having a lot of debt on your shoulders. Those that struggle with debt face the challenge of having little to no financial reserves (because all their extra money goes towards paying off debts).
When you’re in debt, it’s difficult to “sock away” emergency money for the occasional catastrophe.
Not having a ready supply of disposable income prevents you from living your life to the fullest. You might find yourself struggling to pay for basic needs and utilities, which just adds more stress to your life.
5. It can be hard to get cell phone contracts
Surprisingly enough, having a bad credit score can actually impact your ability to get a cell phone contract.
Just let that sink in for a minute.
Although many people are heavily reliant on the services that certain phones offer, cell carriers are unlikely to forge contracts with those that have a poor financial track record.
6. If you want to take out a loan to start a business, good luck
Starting up a new business sometimes requires loans and investors — two things that are very difficult to achieve when you have a bad financial reputation. Struggling to get the proper funding for a startup is just one of the many hurdles you’ll have to overcome.
Renting space, paying for utilities, and making security deposits will be a challenge for aspiring entrepreneurs with poor credit.
7. Rejections when applying for pretty much anything
As mentioned before, a bad credit history may cause you to be rejected for job applications, loans, and mortgages.
But did you know that apartment complexes may even reject new applicants based on their financial history, and utility companies might require deposits up front?
If you don’t have a proven track record of being able to pay your bills, you’re setting yourself up for a lot of roadblocks along your way throughout life.
8. You’ll always be charged higher interest rates
Even if you’re not concerned about the effect that your financial status has on your personal and professional life, the bottom line is that having a bad credit rating costs you more in the end. You pay higher interest rates and higher insurance premiums than those who have a good credit history.
9. The stress can affect your health!
Stress is a big catalyst for depression and poor health in American culture, and a lack of financial security is one of the leading causes of stress. Suffering from debt can cause a number of physical symptoms including headaches, nausea, sleeplessness and depression.
How to Improve Your Credit Score in the Next 30 Days
If you’re part of the nearly 60% of Americans that struggle with debt and credit management, all is not lost!
The most important thing is to start moving things in the right direction. Basically, you need to stop the problem from getting worse and make some positive changes in the next 30 days.
Once you know what your credit score is, you can begin taking steps to raise it.
Here are some tips to improve your credit score:
• Pay your bills on time, always. Timely payments is the biggest factor behind having a solid credit score.
• Don’t use more than 30% of your credit limit. This is critically important. If you’re constantly maxing out your cards, creditors will start to view you as high risk and your utilization ratio will negatively impact your score.
• Hold off on applying for new credit. Each time you do that it counts as an “inquiry”, which docks you a couple points (plus you need to stop using credit).
• Do not cancel all your credit cards once you pay them off. Having a long credit history helps your score, but cancelling your cards stops that history from being tracked.
Improving your credit score takes time, but it’s one of the best investments you can make in your financial future. Start small. Start now.
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