Top 5 in Real Estate Network® Members are dedicated to providing you with the most up-to-date, helpful real estate information. This monthly newsletter, "Real Estate Matters," offers articles on a range of topics that will inform you in your real estate pursuits.

From Our Team: Four Ways to Optimize Your Credit Profile

Whether you’re looking for ways to dig out of your financial hole or ways to avoid getting into one, the importance of actively managing your credit and debt profile has never been greater. Americans have become well-versed in asset management but not necessarily liability management. Until recently, easy access to credit has made our current generation feel immune to the real risks of overextending your credit.
In today’s difficult economic environment, as banks get more restrictive about who gets approved for credit and which consumers get the preferred rates, as a team and member of The Top 5 in Real Estate Network®, we are advising all our clients to spend more time analyzing the types of credit they have and how it is used. The reality is, we all need to change our behaviors and adapt to the realities of the current environment. When it comes to liability management, here are some simple first steps to take from credit consultants, Approvalguard.com:
1. Understand How Credit Works. Now is not the time to be content with understanding 80% of what you need to know about your credit. Ninety-four percent of consumers are challenged with understanding the basics of how personal credit works. In most cases, they build credit over a lifetime of trial and error. Invest some time in researching and understanding the current credit climate and/or contact your financial advisor or a trained credit professional.

2. Continually Evaluate and Monitor Your Current Credit Profile.
The second step is to evaluate your current credit and debt profile and establish a plan based on your short- and long-term credit needs. Continually monitoring your credit report and profile is no different or less important today than getting a physical exam by your doctor.

3. Optimize Your Credit. Each of your debts should be periodically reviewed and analyzed. Are there options you can take to improve your overall credit profile so that you’re more desirable to creditors for their preferred interest rates? Should you consolidate some of your debt? Once you strengthen your credit and debt profile, do you have options on your home, auto and credit cards to negotiate lower interest rates and terms that would save you money monthly?

4. Rethink New Purchases. Excellent credit is like an insurance policy. When you need to use it, you want to qualify for the preferred interest rates and terms. Maintaining your credit “insurance policy” is critical for special purchases like a home, car or major appliances when needed. Don’t wait until there’s an immediate need because your chance of making a material change in your profile overnight is very difficult.

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