When you were a kid on Halloween, you ran from house to house, filling your Halloween bag with candy. And then when you got home, it felt like a free-for-all buffet of sugar when you dumped your haul on the living room floor to get a closer look.
Your candy could be triaged into the sugary treats you wanted right now, the stuff that was OK but not exciting (maybe you’ll trade it with your sister), and the really gross candy (or fruit or nut bars) that you just wanted to throw out.
As an adult, you might not go out on Halloween to collect candy, but the scenario I’ve just described isn’t all that different from your credit.
Occasionally (hopefully more often than Halloween comes around!) you pull your credit to see what it’s like.
Is Your Bag Full of Tricks or Treats?
Like the good candy, some of your accounts are absolutely pristine — paid off regularly, in full and available to be enjoyed when you need them.
Like the so-so candy, some of your accounts may be OK but a little shaky — perhaps you’ve missed a payment now and then or the amount owing is a little high.
Like the candy you’d rather not have, there may be bad credit — maybe a really old debt, maybe a debt collection or two, or maybe even someone else’s credit that has been mistakenly associated with yours.
Just as you would never assume that all the candy in your Halloween bag is your favorite kind of candy (big chocolate bars would be my ideal Halloween haul!), don’t assume that all of the credit reported in your credit report is good just because you haven’t maxed out a credit card lately.
This is why you need to check your credit reports regularly. Pull your credit reports from each of the three major credit reporting agencies — Experian, Equifax and TransUnion — and go through them just as you would go through your Halloween candy haul.
Review your credit and start working on it right away. Clean up the so-so credit quickly and put together a plan to deal with the “candy” you don’t want.
Here’s the good news: You can start having an immediate impact on your credit by dealing with these issues quickly: Dispute the errors, pay off small outstanding debts, lower the unpaid debt on your credit card, schedule payments to make sure you pay your debts on time. When performed consistently, these efforts can have a positive influence on your credit fairly quickly.
And just in case you need a reason to do this, remember: As soon as the stores’ Halloween decorations come down (or maybe sooner), the Christmas decorations will go up and you may need some of that credit to start on your holiday shopping.
So don’t let your credit scare you. Get your credit report so you can “dump out you Halloween haul of credit” and start sorting the candy. Trust me, good credit is sweet.