Financial Goals

Are You a Credit Score Wannabe?

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These days, it’s not about who has the flashier designer clothes or the faster car – it’s about who has the higher credit score! That’s because the better your score, the better position you’re in to manage your financial future.

Why? Believe it or not, have a strong credit score is one of best ways to save money, says financial lifestyle expert Denise Winston, founder of Money Start Here, which produces financial seminars and DVDs. “Your credit score can determine if you get your dream job, your auto insurance rates, the cost of future loans, if a landlord will rent you an apartment, and much more,” she says.

In order to become a “first class” credit user, start by adopting the strategies of these top-tier score holders.

Credit is No Laughing Matter: Jim Dailakis
Credit Score: 760

New York City-based actor/comedian Jim Dailakis may be a clown on stage, but when it comes to his financial status, he’s straight as an arrow. The Australian-born performer owns two homes and pays his bills on time without fail.

His strategy: “I see when the due date is and then put it on my electronic calendar on my computer,” Dailakis explains. Then, he says, he makes sure he has enough to pay the total amount, to the penny, every time.

Why you should try it: “It’s very liberating not to feel the ‘wolf’ pounding at my door,” says Dailakis. “I’ve definitely acquired financial discipline.”

Lesson learned: Keeping up with your credit can be a challenge, says credit consultant Wayne Sanford of YourCreditSpecialist.com. He suggests setting up an online auto-pay. “This way, you can have the amount you need transfer directly to your creditor and not pay any extra fees.”

Extra Credit: Anna del C. Dye
Credit Score: 804

Anna del C. Dye, a new-fantasy author from Salt Lake City, UT, is proud of her long-lasting marriage as well as her financial acumen over the years.

Her strategy: “When my husband got a raise 10 years ago, we opted to add it to the principal in our mortgage rather than our monthly expenses,” says Dye. “We lived on the same income as before and paid our house faster.”

Why you should try it: “Our house is ours and so is everything in it,” says Dye. “Now we can eat out more often, help others, go to the movies more often, and travel around the world. We get to play and have fun when we are still young.”

Lesson learned: “Our culture’s lenient attitude toward debt is harmful,” says Peter Dunn, personal finance expert and author of 60 Days to Change. “If you want great credit, you must develop an urgency to become debt-free.”

Divorced from Bad Credit: Tammie Aaron-Barrada
Credit Score: 789

Tammie Aaron-Barrada’s first husband essentially ruined her credit just by having his name on her cards, and running her into debt. After they broke it off, she was left to claim bankruptcy. The entrepreneur and inventor from Ruffs Dale, PA, has since made rebuilding her credit top priority.

Her strategy: Aaron-Barrada had to made wise decisions to reestablish her credit standing. She took out 90-day same-as-credit accounts to buy new furniture that she could afford, as well as made sure she put utilities in her name and paid those bills on time.

Why you should try it: Aaron-Barrada says having great credit gives her peace of mind, should an emergency ever arise. Building back up to a high credit limit means she won’t be left high and dry ever again, and has a better credit score to show for it.

Lesson learned: “When you make someone a joint-account holder or you co-sign a loan, you become fully responsible,” warns Denise Winston. She recommends checking your potential spouse’s credit report and finding out if he or she owes back taxes.

“Your credit score has the potential to determine the quality of your life,” says Winston. “It can potentially cost you thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of dollars over your lifetime.”

Are You a Credit Score Wannabe is provided by Experian.com