From running up debt in college, handling student loan payments, to even paying the cell phone bill on time, maintaining good credit can be a minefield for singles. The typical scenario is that you will get excited about a potential big purchase, house, car, etc., sit down with the banker and then find out the news that your credit is not in the best shape and that you will not be able to make the purchase at this time.
How to prevent the shock at the bank?
1.) Protect your credit like it is precious because it is. Yes, you can repair your credit if you have had mistakes in the past, but it will take time and in the interim you will miss out on low interest rates, special offers and even the opportunity to purchase a home.
2.) If there are credit mistakes you would like to put behind you start working on that now. Don’t wait until you want or need to use your credit, take control of it now. Get a copy of your credit report and go through it line by line and anything that needs to be repaired, start the process now.
3.) Pay your bills on time. Yes, this should go without saying, but even a late cell phone payment can appear on your credit report.
4.) Don’t max out your credit. Don’t run up your credit cards to the limit or apply for too much credit.
The dreaded “T”! As you are on your way up the work ladder, taxes become a big part of your financial picture. It is very easy to end up owing Uncle Sam if you are not paying attention to how much taxes are being withheld from your paycheck. As your salary increases, it would be wise to engage a tax preparer to get you on the right track and make sure that your are giving Uncle Sam his due.
If you do find yourself owing taxes, make payment arrangements immediately! Don’t let this fester. For as long as the bill is unpaid, interest and penalty accrues and increases the total amount you owe.
If you don’t take this seriously, and the IRS has to come after you for unpaid taxes, it could result in a tax lien.
This is one of the worst credit mistakes you can make right up there with bankruptcy. The damage to your credit is catastrophic and it will remain on your credit for 10 years and since this is a matter of public record it can be searched and found by anyone.
And remember, just because you are single now does not mean that credit and taxes don’t matter or can be put off for some other time. These issues tend to fester and rear their ugly heads at the most inopportune time.
Stay tuned for the last part in the series, Single & Financially Sound, “Homeownership & Marriage” to see what I mean.
Black Enterprise Columnist Jennifer Streaks is a Financial Author, Journalist & Pundit. Continue the conversation by following her on twitter @JStreaks and also visiting her website www.JenniferStreaks.com.