The spring season is underway! It’s a great time to get out and about, shake off the winter blues and get energized for the opportunities to come the rest of the year.
But there is also another, less-enjoyable season coming up quickly: tax time!
As you take stock of your income and expenses in the coming weeks, this is a prime opportunity to examine your overall financial health: where savings is going well, where some expenses could probably be cut and in what ways you’d like to improve your overall financial know-how. One focus area that many people struggle with is credit and, as we find ourselves in Credit Awareness Month this March, here are some ways credit can help get your finances on the right track.
What is credit, and how can I use it to my advantage?
Credit is often talked about in a negative way but, if given the proper attention, it can be a powerful tool for your financial future. But first, you have to understand what credit is and how to use it.
A credit score functions like a report card for the financial world; it shows potential lenders how you have handled debt in the past. A number of factors go into your score, such as how long you’ve had credit, how much you owe, how regularly you pay on your debt.
If you frequently miss payments or default on a loan, your score may go down; yet, the more you demonstrate that you can take on debt and pay it along the agreed-upon terms, the higher your score will climb. And the better your score, the more access you have: to loans for everything from a car to a home, approval for credit cards, lower interest rates and much more. If you’re looking to start taking some important steps for your future, you’ll want to have a good credit score to come with you on that journey.
Best ways to manage credit
So, how do you keep that score high? There are a few basic things you should be doing:
- Know your score. You don’t want to be surprised by a poor credit rating, so stay on top of the number by checking it regularly (this handy guide offers some resources for the best credit checks).
- Get some credit: You’ve got to start somewhere so if you don’t have much credit history, consider opening a credit card with a low interest rate and only using it sparingly—and paying the bill on time in full. If you have credit that’s on the poor side, look into a secured card, which only lets you spend up to the deposit you invest.
- Be diligent about your bills: You can build good credit by paying not just credit cards and student loans but even monthly utilities, rent and cell phone bills.
Credit as part of your overall financial strategy
Managing credit is just one part of your bigger financial puzzle. Other steps include creating a budget (and sticking to it!) and getting smart about savings. As employees increasingly look to their employer for support with their holistic health, some organizations are lending a helping hand when it comes to employee finances. Integrity Staffing Solutions, for instance, connects all associates with Payactiv, allowing them to access their earned wages on demand—without having to wait for pay day! With this benefit, workers can be better prepared to meet their financial needs as they arise, cutting down on stress and helping to support better overall financial decision-making.
Whether you’re focused on boosting credit or just boosting the amount in your savings account, there’s no better time than the spring to refresh, refocus and renew your commitment to your financial health!