When it comes to building wealth as a first gen Latina, it is so important that you maintain a healthy credit score. Before I go into detail about the hacks for improving it, let me set something straight: your credit score is not a reflection of your worth. There are so many mixed messages on social media, and even some finance experts put a lot of emphasis on telling Mujeres that not having a good credit score is a reflection of your intellect; I want to remind you that finance is a system made up by humans, no one is perfect!
So not that I got out of my chest, let’s talk about the four hacks to help you improve your credit score
Make on-time payments
Automation is the name of the game! You are a busy Mujer, and the last thing you want to worry about is having to call a credit card company that most likely is on the other side of where you live with opposite time zones. Automate your payments by having a separate checking account where you deposit all your credit card payments from your paycheck. If possible, pay in full; if you need extra cash flow, check my “FREE Passive Income Ideas Guide.” It can take months or years for your score to recover after a late payment. Again, automation is the name of the game!
Keep credit utilization under 30%
Make sure you know your credit card limits and keep your credit utilization under 30% for each card, especially if you want to improve your credit score in a short time frame. You also want to stay organized with all your debts. One of the apps I use to track your net worth and monthly expenses is Personal Capital* to help you get clear on your overall net worth. In addition, make multiple credit card payments per month; you don’t have to wait until you get paid to make the extra payments. This is why budgeting is so important for your finances. You can create a weekly or biweekly budget depending on your current financial situation.
Don’t close any credit cards.
Keep credit cards open, even once they’ve been paid off or the abuelita tells you to close them, so you don’t use them again. Your credit history is 15% of your overall credit score, and if you close your card is pretty much saying, “I don’t care about my credit history,” which lenders do not like, it’s a red flag. Sometimes, we tend to make impulsive decisions regarding money, which can hurt your financial goals and postpone your debt-free journey.
Don’t open too many lines of credit within a short period
According to Investopedia, “having too many outstanding credit lines, even if not used, can hurt credit scores by making your look more potentially risky to the lender.” Not to mention how challenging it will be for you to keep track of your spending.
Remember to keep an eye on the types of inquiries on your credit. Hard credit inquiries such as a mortgage, auto, personal, apartment rental, and student loan applications affect your credit score.
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How good credit saves you money
You need a healthy credit score if you are considering buying a house or applying for a credit card to earn rewards. The healthier your credit score, the lower the interest you will get, which translates into more money saved. I advise you to aim for a credit score of 740 or better. However, don’t let this number discourage you from your financial journey.
The most important thing to remember here is that managing your finances and your credit score saves you money in the long run. If you need help navigating your wealth-building journey or creating a strategy to improve your credit score, feel free to reach out to Luzy. She is passionate about teaching first-generation Latinas go from “I can’t manage my money!” to “I am in control of my money!” Oh, and please don’t forget to subscribe to Say Hola Wealth Podcast, whatever you listen to podcasts.
*Personal Capital Advisors Corporation (“PCAC”) compensates VLB&F for new leads. VLB&F is not an investment client of PCAC.