Your credit score is somewhat of a black box. It is difficult to know exactly how it is calculated, when it is calculated, who sees it, and what decisions they make as a result of it. No one consults you about your credit score. They don’t ask your opinion. They do nothing to seek clarifications. It is extremely one sided and you have no part in the process. That is about as unfair as it gets.
With so little input on the matter, it stands to reason that you have nothing to do with your credit score. But that isn’t true at all. You are ultimately the only person responsible for your credit score. You are the only one to fix it when it is broken. If it is telling a story about you that is misleading and defamatory, you are the one who has to do something about it. No one else is going to unilaterally intervene on your behalf if things are misreported. If you tried to sue a reporting agency for defamation, you would probably lose. Even so, it is still your responsibility. Here are a few things you can do to protect it:
Get the Right Loan at the Right Time for the Right Reasons
Which is worse? Is it getting a temporary loan to keep the lights on, or skipping out on all your creditors? To be clear, it is better to take out a loan to get you through the lean times. Look for one of those good credit union loans to help get you back on your feet. Bills don’t have to go into collection before they start weighing negatively against your credit. Late and slow payments will also leave a mark.
Everything about your financial situation gets worse as your credit score plummets. If your credit score drops too low, you will not be able to get a loan at all. Any loan you manage to get will be a bad one that will cause more problems than it solves. When your credit has suffered injury, you need to take proactive measures to stop the bleeding. One of those measures is to get the money to, quite literally, keep the lights on. You are going to borrow that money from someone, make sure it is a good source that helps you solve your financial woes rather than contribute to them.
Get Control of Your Spending
One of the sure-fire ways to go broke is to buy things you really can’t afford. This is a calculus that most people are pretty bad at making. How much house can you really afford? Can you make the monthly payment five years from now? What if you are laid off? Just how much house can you really afford?
In some ways, all purchases are emotional purchases. You can survive that with small items in moderation. But as the price tag goes up, the emotional temperature has to come down. It is a short step from wise purchase to foolishly setting your money on fire. You credit score suffers every time you misjudge the distance between the two.
Fight Back When They Get It Wrong
You are not totally helpless with regard to your credit score. You can fight back. Before you start fighting, be sure they actually have the wrong information. Keep an eye on your credit report. There are many services that will show you your report for free. You would be surprised at how many times the information is inaccurate. You can usually dispute those details for free right from your service of choice.
Come Clean with Your Creditors
Even if you really are drowning in debt, you can still throw yourself at the mercy of your creditors. They actually want to make a deal with you. The calculus is simple: They can get something if they make a deal or get nothing if they don’t. You can also make a payment arrangement that is surprisingly agreeable. Just address it head on and it will go better than if you ignore the problem. Ignored problems always get worse.
Your credit score is mostly a black box that cannot be deciphered. Once it starts going in the wrong direction, it is easy to feel helpless and defeated. Fight that feeling by getting a timely loan to stop the bleeding. Get control of your spending. Fight back when they get it wrong. And call your creditors before they start calling you.