When dealing with an unfamiliar situation, it’s easy for us to quickly make assumptions despite not having all the facts. But this is a particularly dangerous mistake to make when dealing with your credit. Your credit affects everything in your life, from your car insurance premium to the interest rate on your mortgage. It can even affect a manager’s decision whether or not to hire you. Here are three common mistakes to avoid when dealing with your credit.
1. When going through a divorce, don’t assume that all financial obligations are cleared up once the divorce is final.
Even though a judge may help you divide the assets between both parties, your debts and financial obligations aren’t necessarily finalized once the divorce papers are signed. If you have acquired debt as a married couple, the debt still applies to both people in the eyes of the law.
If your ex has been instructed to make payments on a certain loan or credit card, for example, but does not follow through, you may be held responsible for his or her neglected payments. Their financial decisions may still affect your credit, even though the marriage is null and void. The best thing you can do if you are anticipating going through a divorce is to completely separate your financial accounts. Close joint checking accounts. Make sure all credit cards have only one name attached to them. This way each person has his or her own individual financial responsibilities.
2. Don’t neglect making non-credit payments, even if you didn’t borrow for them.
Many people believe that if you didn’t borrow money for a particular account, it doesn’t matter if you let a payment or two slide. This could be anything from a health club membership to your water bill. But this assumption is wrong and incredibly dangerous. If you become delinquent on these payments, debt collectors will come calling. This reflects negatively on your credit.
Accounts in collections look extremely bad on your credit report and can hurt you in the future, even making it tough to open checking and savings accounts with certain banks.
3. Don’t wait until you need credit to use it.
Some people think that any kind of debt is a negative thing to be avoided at all costs. This couldn’t be further from the truth. The more you use credit in a smart and responsible way, they better your credit score and credit history will be.
It’s easy to build good credit by using a credit card responsibly. Apply for a credit card and use it for one thing each month, be it groceries, gas or utility bills. Then pay it off as part of your normal budget. This way, you accrue no interest and still build a credit history to draw on in the future.
Also remember not to cancel cards without reason. If you decide to stop using a particular credit card, it’s smarter to simply cut up the card than to close the account. The sad truth is that sometimes having no credit history is as bad as having a poor credit history.
By avoiding these three credit mistakes, you’ll ensure a high credit score and will not have any surprises the next time someone pulls your credit report.