In America, credit is king. Your credit score determines whether you can buy a house, launch your dream business, or qualify for a loan in the midst of unforeseen circumstances.
Your credit controls your ability to plan for the future you dream of. In the same way you take care of your health, shouldn’t you be monitoring the health of your credit score?
Like most Americans, you have likely suffered crushing loss or unemployment at the hands of the Covid-19 pandemic. Many have had to dip into savings, shutter their small business, and make sacrifices to keep their family afloat in these unprecedented times. Mississippi and the Carolinas have been hit especially hard, with both Mississippi and North and South Carolina ranking in the top 10 states experiencing small business loss and financial strain.
With an unforeseen global disaster on our hands, your credit score may be the last thing on your mind. Prioritize your future by identifying behaviors that are lowering your credit score and exploring strategies to rebuild in the midst of a pandemic.
Sneaky Culprits That Lower Your Credit Score
If you’re noticing a downturn in your credit score, let’s round up the usual suspects and explore what may be to blame for your credit damage.
Missing A Credit Card Payment
Falling behind on even one credit card payment can put you in a cycle of missed payments and debt, lowering your credit score and harming your financial future. Closely monitor your credit card activity and make sure you aren’t missing monthly payments.
Falling Behind On Rent Or Mortgage Payments
Did you know that 11 million American families are behind on their mortgage due to the pandemic, with almost 9 million behind on rent? According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, late housing payments have skyrocketed to rival those of The Great Recession of 2008, with many living in fear of eviction.
While the US Government is working to reduce pandemic-related evictions, it is still paramount to prioritize your housing payments. Failure to keep up with your mortgage can negatively affect your credit score and even end in foreclosure.
Trouble Keeping Up With Student Loans
According to national statistics, approximately 45 million Americans are saddled with crushing student loan debt, and with increased job loss and financial strain from the pandemic, borrowers are more burdened than ever before.
The good news is the federal government has extended student loan forbearance, granting borrowers like you an interest-free pause to their payments through September 2021. This should allow you to breathe and create a plan of attack once you have bounced back from the pandemic economy.
Taking Action: Tips To Build Back Your Credit Health
Now that you have hopefully identified the culprit of your low score, let’s discuss the tools at your disposal to help and rebuild (and maintain!) a healthy credit score during the pandemic and for years to come.
Every Little Payment Counts
Paying even the minimum amount on your credit card shows you are making an effort and can have a positive effect on your credit health. Try setting up an auto-payment on your credit card for a low amount, say $50 per month, and increase the payment as you are able.
Monitor Your Credit Reports
Hold yourself accountable and track your progress by staying up-to-date on your credit score. You can check your credit report as many times as you’d like for free with a site like Credit Karma, and checking won’t affect your score.
Don’t Be Afraid To Ask For Help
Sometimes living through unprecedented times calls for a different approach. If you’re struggling with debt and a lowered credit score due to the pandemic, it may be time to reach out for help. Talking with your lenders is a great place to start, as many have made exceptions for pandemic-related financial hardships.
If you’re suffering from unemployment, like the many residents of Mississippi and the Carolinas impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, consider reaching out to a financial coach or even a bankruptcy lawyer. Job losses lead to bankruptcy, and if you’re struggling with debt and in need of a clean slate due to the pandemic, you can only benefit by reaching out to a law professional and exploring your options.
The Coronavirus has impacted virtually every facet of our daily lives. In the face of an economic downturn, it can be easy to let monthly payments slip or fall behind on financial obligations like student loans.
Don’t let your credit score succumb to the Covid economy; monitor your credit health regularly and take steps to increase your score so you can take control of your future.