It's that time of year when we fight with the masses of shoppers to load up the kids with school supplies and send them back to school for the year. Although we might have enjoyed some fun family vacations with the kids during the summer, the whole family is ready to get back into a "normal" routine again.
The back-to-school season can teach us a few things about our improving our credit scores, too. Here are three lessons we can learn:
1. Routine is good. During the summer, there's nothing wrong with a little fun and sleeping in. But we all know that we can't do it all the time. We need some structure and routine in our lives, so we're glad to get back to the normal routine of the school year at the end of summer. It's the same with your credit. We can't live a healthy balanced life if we just do whatever we want and don't pay attention to our credit. A little routine helps there, too: Schedule time to review your credit reports at least twice a year (quarterly is better), and schedule time to look at your finances and budget with an eye on maintaining healthy credit.
2. Find the balance. You send your kids to school and you expect them to come home with a reasonable amount of homework. Too much homework or too little homework is cause for concern. Somewhere in between -- "just the right amount of homework" -- is where you want them to be. The same with how you handle your debt and credit: Having no debt is bad for your credit and having too much debt is bad for your credit score. Somewhere in the middle is just the right amount.
3. Keep the big picture in mind. We send the kids back to school because they're driving us nuts. But that, of course, is not the ONLY reason we send them back to school. They go back to school because we want them to get a good education. The kids might be excited at first (and yeah, we all know it will probably wear off by the second week) but we keep sending them back because we know that the short-term "pain" will translate into more opportunities in the future. Similarly with our credit, we may not feel motivated to pay attention to our credit if there was no benefit to us. But there ARE two substantial benefits to knowing and improving your credit score: First, you get access to more money when you need it. Second, you pay lower interest for that money when you borrow it. This translates into real, tangible stuff: A nicer house for less, a nicer car for less, etc.
Now that the kids have gone back to school, you can turn your attention to your credit. Visit MyFICO.com and order your credit scores. Set aside time to look at them. Get into a routine, find the balance, and keep the big picture in mind!
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