Mothers wear many hats. In addition to being cooks, chauffeurs, maids, and child care providers, we act as our family’s Chief Financial Officer. A survey by Money Management International (MMI) determined that 73 percent of women consider themselves the primary spender in their household. Often mothers pay the bills and take responsibility for teaching children about money. Yet, despite the huge financial responsibilities we handle at home, we still don’t get the loans we need or want because there is no record of our financial responsibility.
Although having no credit is better than having bad credit, it still presents some problems. Lending decisions aren’t made by a committee of family and friends we know and love us, creditors lend money based on the potential that it will be paid back on time and as agreed. Credit reports help lenders evaluate a borrower’s level of risk. So if mothers have no credit history, there is no way to prove we will pay our debts. Mothers give so much to others and often forget about ourselves. This year, let’s resolve to get the good credit we deserve!
Consider the following tips to help you get started.
Get the facts. You are entitled to annual free credit reports from each of the three major credit bureaus. You can obtain your reports by visiting AnnualCreditReport.com. Review your report and report any errors or fraud immediately.
Assess the situation. Determine what kinds of existing accounts you have. If they are joint accounts, information about the accounts should appear on your credit reports. However, if you are only listed as an authorized user, the information may not appear. If this is the case, consider upgrading your status to co-borrower; creditors are usually more than happy to add another responsible person to an account. Just remember that co-borrowers assume 100% responsibility for any account they cosign.
Safely build your credit history. If you have few or no existing accounts, one safe way to build your credit is to get a secured credit card. You make a deposit into a savings account with a bank to secure a line of credit. The credit card company then issues you a card and a line of credit for at least the amount of your deposit.
Finally, remember that credit isn't a right; it’s a privilege that you should protect. The keys to establishing a good credit rating are to use the credit you have responsibly and make all payments on time.
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