April showers bring May flowers, as any good gardener knows. In some parts of the country, gardens are starting to bloom with an abundance of color and fragrance. While in other parts of the country, they’re just getting seeds into the ground and anticipating that beauty in the next few months.
Although my schedule doesn’t allow me to do a lot of gardening, I know many gardeners and I love to see the results of their hard work and diligence. And as I drive past one beautiful garden after another, I think of the lessons that gardening can teach us about credit. You don’t have to be a gardener to learn from these tips:
Good habits are critical. How do you know someone is a diligent gardener with good habits? You can see their weed-free garden beds that contain only blooms. The gardens don’t just magically appear that way. It’s similar with your credit. The first thing you should be doing is pulling a free copy of your credit report on an annual basis from AnnualCreditReport.com, which will help you know the supplies your credit garden is starting out with. You can also check your credit on a monthly basis with Credit.com’s free Credit Report Card. You can’t achieve higher credit scores magically… rather, you can adopt good credit habits and that leads to a clean, “weed-free” credit report, and that leads to higher credit scores. It’s all about the habits.
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You plant the seed and water the ground but “time” does a lot of the work. Gardeners do work hard to tend their gardens but there is one factor they cannot control — time. Seeding, weeding and watering will help, but so does the cycle of days and nights over a period of months. Likewise with your credit, it’s time that does a lot of work — causing negative items to fall off and even improving your credit with the continuous practice of good credit habits. Yes, you have to do the work but you also have to let the clock tick.
You can’t avoid the thorns. Gardeners end a hard day’s work with dirty fingernails and sometimes the occasional scratch from a thorn or two. For gardeners, that’s a small amount of pain for the weeks and months of enjoyment they get out of their flowerbeds. You should also be aware that your credit report will have thorns as well — the occasional overdue credit item that needs to be taken care of. It might not be pleasant to work with creditors or to make sacrifices in your personal budget to pay off an overdue item — but the short-term “thorn” is a small price to pay for the long-term benefit of cleaner credit.
Gardeners have vision. You don’t see gardeners standing in front of an empty garden bed in tears because there are no flowers. Rather, you see them planning and dreaming, and that “vision” of a beautiful garden motivates them to pick up the shovel and get their hands dirty. Let the same idea inspire you. Your credit might not be perfect right now but don’t let it demoralize you. Adopt a gardener’s vision and picture a nice clean credit report and high credit score, and use that vision to inspire you.
This month you’ll see a lot of gardeners out there kneeling in dirty, empty patches of land. But just wait. A little hard work right now will pay off in the form of a beautiful flowerbed later. Your credit is no different. Get inspired by those gardeners and start “tending” your credit garden now.