Personal finance tips and advice on money and investing to increase your financial intelligence and welfare

Credit Fail? You Can Repair Your Trustworthiness Through Simple Steps

Bad credit is nothing to be ashamed of, especially in this economy, when you’re young and trying to find your financial footing. But the reality is that bad credit can make you undesirable among dating prospects, so try to rehab your credit profile.

Casual woman saving money

Buy a Better Car

As counterintuitive as that sounds, buying a more dependable car makes sense if your current car keeps costing you a bundle in repairs. Take a look at reputable magazines and used cars online to learn about reliable used car models. Carefully investigate potential lenders. Securing a car loan and making on-time payments through the life of the loan can really boost your credit score. Auto loans aren’t like home loans; they’re much easier to get. Even young adults can get auto loans with bad credit.

Clear Out Old Credit Mistakes

You are entitled to one free credit report per year from each of the three credit reporting agencies—Equifax, TransUnion and Experian. Review your credit status through a free copy of your credit report from one of these agencies, available at annualcreditreport.com. A few months later, request it from one of the other two agencies, also through the annualcreditreport.com website. Months after that, request your credit report from the third agency. Each time, look for delinquencies older than seven years or without an associated date, bankruptcies older than 10 years, liens or judgments seven years or older, “unpaid” debts that you know you paid, accounts included in your bankruptcy filing still listed as “past due,” duplicate listings of collections for the same debt, any collection accounts without a corresponding date and any debt that isn’t yours. Start the steps to get them off your credit report. Follow the credit reporting agency’s instructions precisely to dispute items on your credit report.

Stop Using Credit Cards

Whatever you can’t afford with your debit card, don’t buy it. The only way to make headway paying off your existing credit card debt is to stop adding to it.

Get Creative in Planning Dates

Get creative with your significant other and go on a daytime picnic in the park, a bike ride in an area of your city you haven’t yet explored, a hike on a nearby trail, stargazing, playing in the snow or attending a free poetry reading. Invite another couple over for a board game tournament. Read your local newspaper online and watch for notice of free concerts, performances or speakers at venues within 20 miles of where you live.

Eliminate Unnecessary Expenses

Shrink your discretionary utility bills (Internet service, smart phone, cable TV) as much as possible. Have you had your current phone longer than a year? Chances are you don’t need insurance on it anymore. You probably don’t need as much data as you’re currently paying for, either, or as many talk minutes. You don’t need premium cable TV channels, and you don’t need fancy extras as part of your Internet service (super high speed or optional security, for example). Try to save the money each month that you’ve been spending on discretionary services. After a couple of months, you may be able to afford to take someone out for a really memorable dinner.