Is life getting busier? It seems to be. Parents with school-aged children seem to be busier than I was when my daughter was young (she’s just starting college this month!), and I think I was busier than my parents were when I was a child.
I’m not here to tell you that things should slow down. I recognize that life is busy and that our schedule is not always under our control. However, as someone who spends a lot of time helping people with their credit, I can tell you that this busyness could have a negative impact on your credit score.
You may have the very best intentions to pay your bills in full and on time, and keep your credit card debt to a credit-score-optimized level, and check your credit every three to six months, but busyness can keep you from remembering to do those things.
Fortunately, automation can help. Here are some ways that my clients are using automation to help them. I recommend using as many of the following things as necessary to help you build credit through the busyness of your life.
- Set up automatic bill payments to come directly out of your bank account. Although you might not want to do this for bills that could have unexpectedly large amounts (such as your credit card bills), this is a good idea for more predictable bills (such as your mortgage and utility bills). As long as the money is in your account, your bills get paid on time and in full, and your credit score can really benefit from it! I consider this an essential credit tip for people whose jobs require them to travel a lot.
- Set up reminders in your calendar a week or two before payment due dates of bills that aren’t paid automatically. When the reminder alarm rings, it’s time to make that payment. I really like this idea for credit card bills, which you might not want to come out of your bank account automatically, but which absolutely need to be paid on time!
- Set up a reminder to yourself to pull your credit reports every three to six months. It’s easy to delay pulling your report until later but if you pull your credit reports when your alarm reminder tells you to do so, then you’ll find it easier to stay on top of your credit.
- Check your credit score regularly to monitor your credit-building progress. It’s also a good way to look for signs of fraud or other problems with your credit. Credit.com’s free Credit Report Card gives you your credit score, along with a breakdown of the components of your credit score to show you where you need to do more work.
- Schedule 30 to 60 minutes a week to look over your credit reports and work toward your credit-building goals. You might need longer if you’ve never done this before, but before long you’ll reduce the amount of time you need to spend.
- Bookmark credit resources on your mobile device or tablet so you can stay educated (rather than only reading up on credit when you think of it).
I’ve only scratched the surface. In the comments below, add your ideas and tips for using automation and technology to help you manage your credit.