Make yourself more attractive to lenders by cleaning up your personal finances
By Mike Sheridan
It’s never a bad time to take a hard look at your personal finances. You can clean up your fiscal household by applying a few simple steps to make yourself more appealing to lenders for mortgage, auto and home improvement loans.
Check your credit
With an estimated 60 percent of information on credit reports outdated or incorrect, it’s best to inspect your report annually.
For example, you’re not unlikely to find factual errors and inaccuracies related to your current employer or salary. Since it’s imperative to correct such errors before applying for credit and agencies can’t remove bad marks from your file unless instructed by the creditor, the best thing to do is contact the creditor yourself.
Strike a balance
Think your credit is excellent because you always pay cash, never financed a car or even had a credit card? Think again.
Regrettably, such responsible behavior can be as detrimental toward being approved for a loan as a poor credit history. Lenders want to see how well you handle your finances, and if you have no credit history, they can’t make a judgment. So, if you have no credit, you must get some.
Still, several creditors are more accepting of those with little credit history than a bad one. Department stores, gasoline stations and furniture stores that want to encourage you to shop their stores are good places to start.
Conversely, too much credit can work against you. In the eyes of lenders, a fist full of credit cards is as bad as none, indicating you have too much available credit. If you have several cards, close out most of them, consolidating to one or two.
Be your own financial planner
Beyond strong credit, you need to assert self-control on personal spending habits. Make a budget, determining what you must pay (rent, utilities), and what you can do without. Bear in mind you don’t want to create a torturous existence that drives you from your budget, i.e., if you must have cable T.V., so be it. But if you can do without it, it’s probably at least $500 a year in your pocket.
But consider the things you can credibly cut back on: eating out, coffee drinks, buying another pair of shoes. Seemingly minor amounts can quickly add up to a significant sum.
Besides conserving, you need to learn to sock it away. Saving 10 percent is a doable, painless proposition for just about anybody. On a $30,000 year salary, that’s about $125 every two weeks and you’ll have $3,000 put aside in a year.
By tidying up now and curbing your spending habits, you can have a spotless credit record and make yourself a far more attractive and viable candidate to lenders.
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