Posted by Becky Gulden
CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - It's day seven of our series 20 Days, 20 Ways to Survive the Economy.
Today we're talking about the importance of protecting your credit scores, even when the economy goes downhill.
A bad credit score can wreak havoc on your financial health.
A lot of us use credit cards everyday to pay bills, go shopping, and to get gas.
They can be good in a pinch but they can really put us in a bind if we fall behind on payments.
Credit card companies can raise interest rates for late payments and sometimes just because.
On day one of 20 days, 20 Ways to Survive the Economy we showed you just how long it can take to pay off a credit card.
If you make minimum payments on a one-thousand dollar credit card balance with a 19 percent interest rate it can take at least eight years to pay off!
And at the end of that you'll have paid nearly double what you borrowed.
And getting back to paying late that can have a pretty big impact on your credit score you know that changing number that relates to your ability to pay back a loan.
It's the number used by mortgage companies, banks, even cell phone providers to decide if they will extend you a loan or account.
Not paying off loans and bills on time can lower that score.
There are many things you can do to make sure your credit score is in a good range.
First, pay your bills on time. Not paying your bills on time will lower your score.
Second, make sure you pay at least the minimum balance on your credit card.
Third, try to only have the amount of credit you need.
Fourth, check your credit at least once a year. You can check your credit for free once a year. Some people who have bad credit may want to check it every six months. It usually costs around $10 to check it more than once a year.
Fifth, use your full name on all bank accounts and credit applications. Your credit score could mixed up with someone elses if you forget a Jr. or middle name.
Sixth, keep your creditors updated with changes. For instance if you change your name or address let them know!
If you need help with financial or budget planning a non profit organization called Crown Financial Ministries can help for free. Just log onto crown.org for more information.