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When you’re living and struggling with credit debt, repairing your credit and getting out of debt may seem like a long way off. But taken step-by-step, it can be accomplished and you can fix and rebuild your credit. Take a look at your credit reports and find out where the negative marks are and make a plan to eliminate them. Often, while you’re doing things that help minimize the items that hurt your credit score, you’re also taking steps that add some positives back to your credit history.

There’s no quick fix to repairing your credit, but you can improve your credit history and credit score with time and effort. Get started today!

Make a Budget
What is your income versus your expenses? Calculate how much you spend each month including your rent or mortgage, utility bills, etc. as well as leisure and fun. From there you can figure out how much you can put toward your debt and eventually pay it off.

Pay Off Your Debt
After you’ve figured out a budget and have an amount you can put toward your debt, you have to commit that part of your budget to your creditors. You may also want to contact each creditor and negotiate lower payments. Pay each creditor each month and on time - pay the minimum due or your agreed amount.

If there is any extra money, pay the lowest balance first. When you pay off that lowest balance, put the extra money toward the next lowest balance. Paying off your debt is important as your outstanding debt counts for about one third of your credit score.

Monitor Your Credit Report
You can request one copy of your credit report from each credit agency - Equifax, Experian and TransUnion, per year. You should look at all three as they are independent agencies and may contain different information. AnnualCreditReport.com is a helpful site for getting your credit reports.

  • Review your credit reports for accuracy. Contact any creditors to dispute any erroneous information.
  • Review your credit report to see what and how you can begin repairing your credit, for example late or missed payments.

Get in Touch With Creditors
Most creditors will work with you to schedule lower payments that better fit your budget. When you’ve worked out a budget, you can tell the creditor that you can afford a certain dollar amount and send them a copy of your budget to show good faith. Creditors would rather receive your payments than receive nothing should you file for bankruptcy.

Get a Confirmation Letter
When you contact your creditors and negotiate lower payments, interest rates or anything else, make sure to get your agreed upon terms in writing - request that they send you a letter. Should your creditor come under new management, lose records or anything else, this is your defense for your new payment plan.

When you’ve paid the credit in full and paid off the debt, request a Settlement Letter and send a copy of it to all three credit agencies asking them to update your credit report.

Stop Charging
Cut up your unnecessary credit cards and stop charging and spending! Keep paying the minimum on everything and on time. It will take some time, but eventually without added charges, you will get the cards paid off. Keep one credit card for emergencies only.

Keep Your Credit History
Keep one or two of your oldest credit accounts open. It will show your financial history and eventually, stability. Length of credit history counts for about another third of your credit score. Work on closing one or two credit debts about every six months or so.

Add Good Credit Accounts
Adding good credit accounts can help increase your credit score. By adding good credit accounts and delete even one bad credit account from your credit reports, your credit score should improve.

Build on Secured Credit
If you need to build up your credit history and don’t have a traditional credit card to use for this purpose, get a secured credit card. You will need to deposit a certain amount of money into the bank that issues the card; that deposit amount is your credit limit on the secured card. You can’t spend more than what you’ve deposited. Research your secured credit card however, as they often come with high interest rates and fees. But by paying whatever your charge in full and on time, you can avoid most of those fees.

Credit Union Help
By joining a credit union, once your credit is on its way to being repaired, you are more likely to be approved for a loan that with a traditional bank.

Bankruptcy is Your Last Resort
Bankruptcy may sound like a quick and easy option, but a bankruptcy will stay on your credit for as many as 10 years and has other ramifications for your credit and loan options later. If at all possible, work hard on your budget and commit to repairing and rebuilding your credit and avoid bankruptcy.

To learn more about repairing and improving your credit and other information and credit resources, check the consumer section of the Federal Trade Commission.

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