Credit Advice

Turning things around when life has you down

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Credit Advice

Turning things around when life has you down

Dear Experian,

I know the basic “pay on time and only time will help your credit score,” but what if I am going through a consistent hard time? I seem to always be having trouble keeping above water, and the first thing to go is paying the bills on time. What if I am a 20-something with no credit bills but just life kicking me in the rear? I don't plan on buying anything now but would like to make sure I don't mess up my future! Any suggestions?

- TAC

Dear TAC,

Sometimes bad things happen to good people. Accidents, illnesses, job loss and other events outside of your control can cause you to have financial difficulties. Those things are easy to identify, and there is little you can do to prevent such isolated incidents.

Bad things rarely happen to someone constantly. If things always seem to be going wrong, you might need to look inward. Carefully consider the things you are doing, not doing, and the choices you are making.

You don’t have any credit problems, and that is good. That means you only need to get control of your other finances.

The first thing to do is get financial counseling. There are many good non-profit counseling services that can help you analyze your financial situation, establish a workable budget, identify areas where you can change your spending behavior, and most importantly begin saving money.

I recently heard someone say there aren’t any unexpected events, there only are unplanned for events. I don’t completely agree, but the point is a valid one. Saving money is the equivalent of planning for the unexpected.

When you save, unexpected events do not put you in a financial crisis. Life throws punches, but if you have set aside savings, you are in a position to minimize the blow or even block it. It is the most important thing you can do to start kicking life’s rear end instead of feeling like it is kicking yours.

The second thing I recommend is to get more education. A college degree is great, but it might not be the right thing for you. There are also wonderful trade schools, junior colleges and professional training programs that could be a better fit for your interests or needs.

The more knowledge you have, the greater your potential for increasing your income through promotion in your current company or qualifying for a higher paying position in a new company. Increased income will help you meet your financial obligations and put you in a position to save more, which puts you in greater control of your life.

You might need to get a student loan. That is one of the best debts you can take on because a good education will pay for itself in the long run.

By asking this question you have shown you are ready to take action. Making an honest self-assessment, committing to a strict financial plan and completing a good educational program are all hard to do. But, if you follow through on all three, I’m confident you will come out a winner.

Thanks for asking.

- The "Ask Experian" team

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