Click here to read Part 1

In trying times when income is less than it used to be, it’s natural to use more credit. Your credit score can change monthly as payments are made or not, new amounts are added to account balances, accounts are opened or closed, etcetera. The key is to use available credit wisely and not to overuse it. To improve your score, you should try to:

  • pay all bills on time. If you miss a payment, try to get current and stay current a.s.a.p.
  • pay down your balances, reduce our total debt load and use less of the total amount available
  • It’s wise not to apply for and use new credit if you’re already experiencing a financial hardship.
  • monitor your credit report to be sure the data reflected there is correct

While a few payments will likely not improve our score immediately, it starts to create a pattern which could improve your score over time, as credit is managed responsibly. New payments, with a good track record, will eventually replace the older items on your report. Continue reading

Click here to read Part 2

Standing ready to help you and your family through financial difficulty.

Many families and individuals in our community have found themselves faced with financial hardships due to loss of employment, reduction in income, or other financial challenges. In an effort to provide some assistance, we’ve put together information and resources for our members to help navigate financial difficulties.

Getting started – create a budget

When working to get a handle on your household finances, the first place to start it to look at your household earnings and expenses. If you don’t already have a budget in place, it’s a good idea to take steps to create a household budget.

Step 1: Identify household and other income sources.

Step 2: Make a list of all fixed, variable, and future expenses. Don’t forget to include health insurance. Then subtract these expenses from your total, monthly household income. (NOTE: you may want to do some investigating to understand COBRA and see if there are options that would allow you to spend less per month for roughly the same coverage).

Step 3: It’s wise to establish an emergency savings account for the unexpected expenses- even if you can only contribute a small amount monthly. Treat this like a monthly household expense.

Step 4: If you subtract numbers from Step 2 and 3 from your total monthly income you’ll arrive at your total disposable household income. Continue reading

Click here to read Part 2

You hear the words frequently and you know Credit Scores and Reports are important and can affect many aspects of your lives, but what do the reports and scores mean, and what goes into determining your individual scores?

First, what is a Credit Report?

Just like it sounds, your credit report is a report showing your history of using credit, how much you’ve used, how much is owed, what type of accounts you have, and any financial issues of public record (judgements, bankruptcies, etc.). Your individual Credit Report is the primary tool used to make decisions about loans as well as interest rates on those loans.

What is a Credit Score?

A Credit Score is a number between a low of 300 and a high of 850, and it reflects an individual’s credit-worthiness. It is calculated based on how you have used credit in the past – were accounts paid on time, paid in full, were cards maxed out? Based on those patterns (and more), it predicts how likely you are to make all your payments on time in the future. Continue reading