How I Raised My Credit Score 100 Points in Less Than A Year

how I raised my credit score 100 points in less than a year

My parents will be the first to tell you I have never been that great with money management.

Keeping more than $50 in savings was always a struggle for me. When I was a teenager all of my extra money magically disappeared (I threw most of it away on body jewelry, overpriced band t-shirts, shoes, and tattoos/piercings once I turned 18), and after I reached my 20s all of my income went toward bills (living on your own is expensive when you work minimum wage jobs). By the time I was 22, I had racked up tens of thousands of dollars in student loan debt – which is still growing now that I’m back in school. On top of that, I managed to max out a couple of credit cards. Altogether, my debt totaled just under $40,000. And at 23, I took out a $16,000 loan for a new car. I never bothered to check my credit score up until then. That was last September.

When my need for a new car became top priority, I was forced to face my credit score. And based on my tendency toward “retail therapy” plus my poor budgeting, it was no surprise that my credit was a laughable 598. Yikes, right? It was rough facing the reality of adulthood. Realizing how much my credit limits my financial options and decisions, it was time to start focusing on the future. How could I change my spending habits and start to build up my savings? What did I need to do to raise my credit score to a respectable number?

First, I looked into my credit report on Credit Karma.

Part of what was dragging me down was the age of my credit, which is expected for a twentysomething. Over time that would improve and there was nothing I could do to speed up the process. Although 99% of my payments showed up as on time, I had two accounts in collections that I was unaware of. Another factor that was negatively impacting my score was inquiries, which popped up from all the times I had to apply for private student loans as well as when I went car shopping. Nothing to do about those except wait for them to fall off after two years. Lastly, the largest hit was of course my percentage of credit used. It was pushing 100%.

So, the biggest obstacle I had to overcome was the debts I owed.

It sounds like such a simple solution, but it was one of the most difficult actions to take. Paying off debts is not easy, especially when your income is already limited. But that was what I had to do. So, acting like a financially responsible adult for the first time in my life, I sat down and made a budget. (You can download my free budget binder here to help you reach your own financial goals!)

I noticed most of my excess spending was on restaurants and impulse buys, so that was the first place I made cuts. Less fast food and dine-in, and no more shopping out of boredom. I also shut off my Netflix and internet (temporarily, for about 5 months), and switched my phone plan to a cheaper data package. With so many unnecessary expenses gone, finding extra money to place in savings became easier. My need for my “emergency” credit cards became almost non-existent, and I was able to begin paying them down.

I put the snowball method into practice.

If you aren’t familiar with the snowball method, it’s essentially paying off the smaller debts owed first, and building up to the largest. Basically once you pay off one debt, you take your usual payment amount from that now-paid debt and apply it to the next debt as well. It’s useful because not only do you build more momentum the further you go, but you can see progress sooner rather than later. My smallest debt was a credit card with a few hundred dollars on it. I continued making my minimum payments on all my debts, but made larger payments on that particular credit card.

I continued to apply this method for 7 months.

Within a few months, my first card was paid off. I saw a 40 point increase to my score by the end of January. Not long after that, my second credit card was paid off. And by May, I had enough money saved up to pay off my remaining $2000* in debts (*student/car loans not included). Between January and May, I saw another 40 point increase. By the end of May, my credit score was just below 680.

In the two months since my last major score jump, I have seen a gradual increase of 15 more points.

I attribute this increase partly to the aging of my credit history, as well as a card limit increase. According to Credit Karma, my score today is creeping up on 700 – something I didn’t think possible so quickly. My next step is going to be looking into my two accounts that have gone to collections. Once those are settled, all that’s left is to keep paying down my car loan, and pay on my student loans while I finish my degree. It’s a good feeling.

If you’re trying to pay off your debts to raise your credit score, I highly recommend doing what I did!

Step 1: Check your credit score and find out where you’re at. Credit Karma is an awesome (free!) resource.
Step 2: Make a budget and – most importantly! – stick to it.
Step 3: Use the snowball method.
Step 4: Watch your score go up!

Good luck!

kristangible

 

 

9 Things I Want My Little Sister To Know

9 THings I Want My Little Sister To Know

There were a lot of things I would have done differently growing up, if only someone had told me these 9 things.

1. If a guy tells you he needs “time to think”, dump him.

You deserve better than someone who isn’t sure he wants to be with you. If he can’t see what he has right in front of him, then he clearly isn’t appreciating you the way that he should. You are a bad ass, independent, strong woman. Your love and loyalty holds more value than you know. Any boy who doesn’t realize how incredibly rare it is to find a girl like you, isn’t worthy of your time. Read more

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Pregnant Women: An Incomplete Guide to Personal Interactions

There is nothing worse than being pregnant around people who don’t know how to properly interact with you.

Believe me, I am learning this the hard way right now. Everywhere I go there are people who treat me like a stray kitten simply because I am pregnant. They see me and immediately are concerned about my well-being, wanting to know how I’m eating and commenting on how small I am compared to the other kittens. They reach out to try to rub my belly. And then they try to take me home. (Just kidding about that last one.) Read more

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listen

(TW: Don’t Speak, Just Listen is a post about suicide and depression, among other sensitive topics discussed in the series 13 Reasons Why.)

At ten years old, I imagined a world without me in it for the first time.

If I didn’t show up for school, the day would carry on just like any other. If I stopped going to my classmates’ birthday parties, they wouldn’t notice I wasn’t there. And if my family didn’t have me, they wouldn’t feel the burden of my presence anymore. But as a child, I hadn’t heard of the word depression as an illness. I didn’t really understand suicide, or the fact that many of my thoughts were considered suicidal. So I didn’t reach out for help. But I didn’t make an attempt to end my life. Read more

8 Things Lonely Girls Need To Remember

8 Things Lonely Girls Need To Remember

To all the lonely girls out there – you may be lonely, but you are not alone in feeling that way.

We all love the idea of love. Despite how bitter some of us come across, deep down we all just want to be loved by someone. And that’s okay. Here are some other reminders of things you should always keep in mind when you are feeling the loneliness kick in. Read more

5 Ridiculously Simple Ways to Improve Your Bathroom

We all have dreamt of having a luxurious bathroom.

Large jacuzzi tub or a rainfall shower. Gorgeous tiled floor. Vanity large enough for three of you. Because why not? But when you’re on a budget (aka broke as hell and can barely afford to pay rent, let alone buy a house of that grandeur), you’re looking at a bathroom barely big enough to fit that jacuzzi tub you want so bad. And that sucks, right? But by doing any (or all!) of these five ridiculously simple ways to improve your bathroom, you can do the best with what you have – without digging into your savings account. Read more

The #1 Home Design Trend For 2017

#1 home design trend 2017

2017 is Going Green

And I don’t mean that in an environmental way. No, 2017 is literally going green. Since Pantone named Greenery as its Color of the Year, green has impacted interior design trends across the board. From sage walls to emerald couches to excessive use of planters, this trend has certainly captured the eyes of designers around the world and is officially the #1 home design trend for 2017. Read more

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10 blogs you should follow when it comes to home decor

I love seeing new projects and ideas for home decor.

And I’m sure you love it too, right? While there’s a ton of stuff on Pinterest – a lot of it being posts of the same designs – it’s really hard to sort through the crap and find the good stuff. So I did some digging and found the good stuff for you. Here’s the top 10 blogs you should be following right now for home decor inspiration in 2017. Read more

Furniture Flip: From Dresser to TV Stand

Check out how I turned an old dresser into a like-new TV stand!

You know all those furniture flips you see on Pinterest and wish you had the time to do? Well I finally made time to do one of my own!

I’ve seen a few dressers re-purposed into pieces for living rooms and hallways, and it inspired me. Recently I cleared out a TON of clothes (I had two full size dressers plus a “walk-in closet” space set up in my laundry room), and it left one of my dressers empty. I considered just donating or selling it, maybe passing it on to someone I knew who needed it more than me. Then I remembered the flips I had pinned. My hand-me-down dresser was the perfect size for our living room! And what better way to get my TV off an old coffee table and reorganize our entire entertainment area that so desperately needed it? Read more

My Blog Goals + Resolutions for 2017

blog goals and resolutions for 2017

When I started blogging five or six years ago, it was entirely personal – and very egocentric. Once I outgrew the need to share every detail of my life online, I tried* to write about topics other people cared about – basically a complete 180. (*Tried but was very unsuccessful.) Last year I began to find more of a balance between the two, and in doing so I found myself trying way too hard to be like other lifestyle bloggers. But it didn’t quite fit my style, and I think that’s why I’ve struggled so much with keeping a consistent online presence.  In 2017, that needs to change. Read more