Improving Your Credit Score

Wednesday, 30 December 2009 13:13 Written by  Shameka V. Robinson

Credit has become a brand within itself. Trying to live a comfortable lifestyle can seem impossible without having some form of credit and/or knowing and understanding your credit score. The significance of the credit score is a major topic in many homes along with the health care system and the recession.


Most experts would argue that it’s actually impossible to live a healthy lifestyle without having some form of credit.

“There are many adults who are struggling to make ends meet year after year because they were never taught the basic fundamentals of budgeting and finances,” said real estate broker and financial literacy author Carl Agard.

“Whether you want to buy a home, a car, insurance, or even get a job, everyone wants to know your credit score,” he said.

The credit score is comprised of several things, which is why maintaining a relationship with credit lenders serve as a purpose within itself.

“Your credit score is made up of different factors such as the type of credit that you have, the length of credit that you have, and how timely you pay your creditors. The FICO score ranges from 350 (very bad) to 900 (perfect),” Agard said.

According to, your credit score will have an important impact on the interest rate you will pay to borrow money.

“Maintaining a good credit score is important because nowadays everything is attached to credit. The higher your credit score, the lower your interest rate will be,” Agard said.

“It is important to understand these factors because you will know how to keep your credit score high,” he said. A person with over 10 years of on-time payments to creditors and having different types of trade lines like auto payments, mortgages, installment and revolving loans will have a very good credit score.

As a financial literacy author, Agard encourages everyone to learn the basics on financial literacy. “Learn how to use credit wisely. Pay for things with cash, and buy what you need. Use credit for emergencies or to build your own business,” he said. “By doing this, you will be able to escape financial enslavement and you will be able to build wealth.”

The goal to understanding credit starts with achieving personal finance which is said to take time, commitment and responsibility.

Chicago Tribune’s personal finance columnist, Gail MarksJarvis said the reason people tend to be irresponsible when it comes to credit is because they “don’t understand how credit works and never figured out what they really need to live on and what they can afford to live on.”

“The reason the whole housing market problem began was because people borrowed too much money from banks and couldn’t afford to make their monthly payments. Individuals started to lose their homes and the banks lost money because people couldn’t pay back the mortgages on their home,” she said.

MarksJarvis mentioned that people should weigh their options when it comes to spending money or using a credit card to make a purchase.

“If all you do is pay the minimum, you will be paying interest over and over again. Always try to use no more than 10 percent of what you’re allowed to use on your credit card. Then you look like you’re on top of things and your credit score looks better,” she said.

“It’s not a matter of how much you make; it’s a matter of comparing what you make and that means starting with a budget,” Gail MarksJarvis said. “Wait until later on in life when you’re in a better position to afford the things that you want to buy.”


Here are Gail's tips on improving your credit score:

•    Create a budget for yourself.
*Google budget worksheet, they do the math for you.

* For credit-score info, visit

•    Keep up with your little expenses.

•    Use extra money to pay off credit card debt.
*Always pay on time and pay off the credit card with the highest interest rate.

•    Look for ways to spend less.


For more information on Chicago Tribune’s Personal Finance Editor Gail Marks-Jarvis, visit


For more information on Real Estate Broker and literary author Carl Agard,  visit


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Photography by GMO Photographer Amber Nicole. Amber is currently in school pursuing a B.A. in digital photography. She has always been interested in photography and likes to shoot everything from children and fashion to different types of events--her goal is to do it all. Amber lives in the Chicagoland area.

Shameka V. Robinson

Shameka V. Robinson

Shameka V. Robinson is an aspiring lifestyle writer and television host who graduated from Columbia College Chicago earning a Bachelor’s of Arts in Magazine Writing and Editing. As a staff writer for GlossMagazineOnline, she’s also written articles for Urban Influence Magazine and Currently, she’s a contributing writer for the online version of the Chicago Defender.

Contact her at

Follow her on twitter: @thechicwriter