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Why Doing "Nothing" Can Do So Much Harm to Your Credit


Why Doing "Nothing" Can Do So Much Harm to Your Credit

Ignorance is bliss...or so the saying goes. However, when it comes to your credit reports and scores being ignorant can be a truly horrible strategy which can have some seriously negative consequences as well. People generally ignore their credit for one of two reasons. First, many consumers with good credit assume that everything on their credit reports is fine and do not even bother to check their reports until their next loan application. The second most common reason why consumers ignore their credit is due to the fact that it is so bad that they feel overwhelmed and powerless to change their credit situation. Regardless of the reason, ignoring your credit is a really bad idea.

Why Consumers with Good Credit Need Still Need to Pay Attention

If you always pay your bills on time and maintain very low or even $0 balances on your credit cards then odds are high that your credit scores are probably in pretty good shape. The truth is that you have the right to expect your credit reports to contain accurate information. However, the reality of how the credit scoring system works is that mistakes on credit reports happen. In fact the Federal Trade Commission released a study in 2013 which proposes that there were around 40 million mistakes on the credit reports of US consumers. Although the Fair Credit Reporting Act does give you the right to expect accurate credit reports, errors still occur every single day. What you may not realize is that the responsibility to make sure you credit reports remain error free lands squarely on your own 2 shoulders.

Credit reporting errors can range from insignificant with little to no credit score impact to all the way on the opposite side of the spectrum where the wrong credit reporting error can wreak utter havoc upon your credit scores. Thankfully, there are several options which make it extremely easy for you to keep a close eye on your credit reports in order to ensure that they remain accurate.

Option 1: In 2003, thanks to the FACTA amendment to the Fair Credit Reporting Act, consumers were given the right to access all three of their credit reports completely free of charge once every 12 months. To access these free credit reports you simply need to visit (Not-so-fun-fact: an average of only 4% of these available free reports are actually claimed by consumers annually.)

Option 2: If you are wise enough to understand the importance of keeping a close eye on your credit reports then you will also realize that checking your credit reports once a year is not going to be often enough. The good news is that there are many free options available to access and review your credit reports throughout the year - though this option can be a bit time consuming due to the fact that truly free reports can generally only be accessed one credit bureau at a time.

Option 3: Finally, there are also several affordable fee based credit monitoring services which will allow you to check an monitor all 3 of your credit reports and scores simultaneously and easily.

Why Consumers with Bad Credit Still Need to Pay Attention

There is no question that credit problems can feel overwhelming and insurmountable. When faced with credit problems the desire to stick your head in the sand and ignore them can be very tempting. Unfortunately, ignoring credit problems does not make them go away but only keeps you stuck in the same bad situation for longer than necessary.

Whether you choose to work on resolving credit issues yourself or to seek professional assistance with your credit problems you should make the decision to do something. No matter how bad your credit reports are currently - even if you are one day out of a freshly discharged bankruptcy - there are always steps which you can take to begin moving your credit back in the right direction.

CLICK HERE to schedule a no-obligation credit analysis with a HOPE4USA credit expert to learn how to improve your credit reports and what HOPE4USA can do to help.

CLICK HERE to download our free credit repair toolkit - no strings attached. 


About the author: Ron Lambright has been a credit expert for over 14 years and is the Executive Director of HOPE4USA - a company he helped to found after struggling to overcome personal credit issues on his own twice before. He is a regular guest on radio talk shows and is featured weekly as the premier credit expert at training seminars in the Charlotte, NC region and up and down the East Coast.  Ron is an expert on teaching consumers how to achieve  "loan ready" credit reports, improving credit scores, and an expert in the fields of business financing and business credit as well. You can connect with Ron on Facebook page by clicking here.


Kicking the Habit of Overspending


Kicking the Habit of Overspending

Does the arrival of your monthly credit card bill strike fear into your heart?  Have you ever discovered that your checking account is empty without knowing where your paycheck could have possible gone so quickly?  Do you have more new pairs of shoes in your closet than you can count?  If you answered yes to any of these questions then you may have a problem with overspending.

Overspending is one of the most common causes of poor credit scores and unbalanced budgets.  Of course, typically consumers do not set out to overspend; however, without a solid plan for spending it is easy to find yourself in the uncomfortable situation of having more bills than money over and over again.  When you find yourself short on cash that is when bills get paid late (or not at all) and credit scores begin to slip.

Keep in mind, over-spenders are not bad people!  Our team of credit experts at HOPE4USA has helped many, many people to overcome credit problems, a sizable percentage of whom arrived at those credit problems due to overspending. The good news is that if these clients were able to fix their overspending problems and turn their credit reports back around then it is possible for you to do the same.  Here are a few tips to get you started on kicking the habit of overspending:

1.) Write down every dollar you spend for the next 2 weeks.

Analyzing your spending habits is the first step to help you find out if you have an overspending problem and, if so, how severe the problem has become.  Wives and girlfriends, if you are asking your spouse or boyfriend to track their spending you may want to note that men are typically a little more resistant to doing so. My suggestion? Make it easy for them!  Give him a simple 3X5 card to keep in his wallet. Just ask him to jot down the amount spent and where he spent it if he does not want to save receipts. You will still get the basic information you need this way and he may be more likely to follow through with your request.

2.) Make a spending plan (in writing) and stick to it.

You may be wondering, “What exactly is a spending plan?”  A spending plan is a written list of your monthly income (paycheck, alimony, child support, etc.) and your monthly expenses (rent, utilities, car payment, etc.).  In other words – it is a budget.  You can even CLICK HERE to download a free copy of the HOPE4USA Basic Budgeting Worksheet - no strings attached. The key is to get started. (Note: if you are a current HOPE4USA client you can ask your case manager to review your completed budgeting worksheet offer advice and suggestions. Talk about a great membership perk!)

3.) Trim the fat from your spending plan.

Once you have reviewed your 2 week spending list and completed your budget worksheet, look for areas where spending can be cut.  Now, I’m not talking about sucking all the fun out of your life so be sure to resist the urge to respond negatively to this suggestion.  However, I am suggesting that you make a plan to get the things that you really want out of life (i.e. a new home, a new car, college education for children, family vacations, etc.) by figuring out what you can live without in the present. You may be able to find hundreds of extra dollars per month by reducing cable TV plans, cell phone plans, entertainment expenses, eating out expenses, or shopping.  Don’t be afraid to take an honest look at your spending habits and see if a change can and should be made.


Michelle Black is an author and a credit expert with over a decade of experience, the credit blogger at, a recognized credit expert on talk shows and podcasts nationwide, a contributor to the Wealth Section of Fort Mill Magazine, and  a regularly featured speaker at seminars up and down the East Coast. She is an expert on improving credit scores, credit reporting, correcting credit errors, budgeting, and recovering from identity theft. You can connect with Michelle on the HOPE4USA Facebook page by clicking here. 



WebTalkRadio Interview With HOPE's Michelle Black


Is it possible for my credit score to be too high? What credit score do I need when applying for a home loan? What is the best way to build credit - FAST? HOPE Credit Expert, Michelle Black, answers these questions and lot more in her 20 minute, power-packed, not-to-be-missed interview with the Courtside CEO of Click here to check out this great interview. Your brain and your finances will thank you! Trust us, you don't want to miss this one.



Saving Money - Part 2

Saving Money - Part 2  By Michelle Black

Have you ever found yourself in a place where you have more bills than money? Money shortages lead to a poor credit rating, marital stress, and the inability to provide the things your family needs.  One of the first things you will want to do if you find yourself in a situation where your budget is unbalanced is look for a way to start saving money. We hope today's tip will be helpful.

Tip #2: Ask for your bills to be lowered. Similar to yesterday's tip regarding asking for your credit card interest rates to be lowered, you can also request for many of your monthly bills to be lowered as well.  Try calling your cable company, explain that you have seen some great offers for satellite TV and that you are considering switching services. However, before switching, you wanted to check with them to see if they could offer you a lower monthly rate. While you are at it, ask for your internet service bill to be lowered as well. I have personally saved money off both of these monthly services just by calling and kindly making the request.

Other monthly bills you may be able to get lowered with a request include your cell phone bill (even if you are currently under contract), your lawn care bill, your newspaper subscription, your insurance bill, etc. By calmly and politely making the request you can save yourself a lot of money. When making the request for your bill to be lowered please keep the following in mind:

1. Always be polite and calm. Getting angry will most likely insure that you do NOT get the bill reduction you need. 2. Explain why you need for the bill to be lowered. For example, "I have seen an offer for a better rate" or "I cannot afford to continue making such high payments and I'm trying to balance my budget." 3. Ask for a supervisor if necessary. The first customer service agent you speak with likely will not have the authority to lower your bill. 4. Don't take no for an answer. If the supervisor refuses your request politely explain your reason for needing the bill lowered again and ask "What can you do to help me please?"

Remember to check back with us again for part 3 of our money saving blog series. Saving money can help put you on the path towards a balanced budget and even a healthier credit report! If you need personalized credit or budgeting advice please feel free to give our friendly staff a call at 704-499-9696.

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Saving Money 101

Saving Money 101 

by Michelle Black

Everyone loves to save money. Saving money is the quickest way for you to move closer to a balanced budget and a healthier credit report. In that spirit we will be featuring a multi-part blog series with some fantastic debt busting, money saving tips for you to start using immediately. If you can put even a few of these great suggestions to use you will see a big benefit in your finances. So, without further ado, let's get started with today's tip:

Tip #1: Ask for a lower rate. Sometimes saving money is as simple as picking up the phone. You can start by calling your credit card companies and ask for a lower interest rate on your current credit cards. (This works best if you have a good payment history on your credit cards.) When you speak with the customer service agent regarding your account the first thing you want to ask is "Do you have the authority to change my interest rate?" If the answer is no then politely request to speak with someone who does that that authority, perhaps a supervisor. Once you have the right person, explain that you have seen offers for other credit cards at lower interest rates - which we all have received in the mail, via internet advertisement, or on TV - and that you would rather stick with your current card company if they are willing to offer you a lower rate. Be kind but persistent and explain why it is not affordable for you to continue paying the higher interest rate. I personally have seen my interest rate reduced from 14.99% to 9.99% by using the exact method above.

Remember, a lower interest rate can save you a ton of money depending upon the amount of your credit card balances. Of course, your best bet is always to pay off all of your credit card debt and keep money wasted on interest for yourself and your family. Please feel free to contact us if you would like to request a free copy of HOPE's Debt Snowball Payoff Plan which can help you to plan a strategy which can get out of credit card debt for good.  If you would like more personalized advice we are here to help as well! Just give our friendly staff a call at 704-499-9696 and we will be more than happy to assist you. Don't forget to check back later this week for more great money saving tips!

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