April isn’t just tax season — it’s also Financial Literacy Month. This is a great time to get your free annual credit report if you haven’t already done so. If you’re like most people, you’ll find that your credit report has fluctuated over the years. Your financial plans often go hand in hand with a good credit score, so it’s important to keep an eye on where your scores are going — hopefully upward each year. Here are some credit tips to keep in mind as you move from your twenties to your thirties and forties, so you can build credit and manage it now until your retirement years.
How Credit Changes as You Mature
Every decade brings new challenges and opportunities, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that credit scores vary by age group.
After age 30, average credit scores rise by about 15 percent and continue rising each decade until retirement age, at about age 70.
A number of factors, including your payment history, how much you owe, and the length of your credit history influence credit scores. Other factors also play a part, like the types of credit you use and how many recently opened accounts you have. It shouldn’t be overly difficult to improve your credit scores regardless of what age group you’re in if you understand the factors that influence it
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Credit Tips for Your 20s
Although it may not seem like a priority in your twenties, this is the perfect time to start working on your credit scores. You’ll want a good score when it’s time to apply for a car loan or mortgage.
To start building a credit history, you might consider getting a student credit card while you’re in college. If you don’t qualify for a student credit card, you can get a secured card, one that’s secured with a deposit with the lender. Use your credit card for small purchases and pay it every month to show creditors that you can use your credit responsibly and thus qualify for more credit in the future.
While only a certain percent of your credit score depends on the length of your credit history, a larger percentage is determined by your payment history. It’s vital that you pay your credit cards and other loans on time.
Credit Tips for Your 30s
It’s time to start building your savings and get a handle on the debts you acquired in your twenties as you increase your income in your thirties. A percentage of your credit scores are based on how much you already owe, so it’s important to pay down outstanding loans.
Keep your credit card balances below their limits and start paying down your mortgage if you have one4. If you have children, think about their needs as well, including education funds and adequate life insurance for yourself.
Credit Tips for Your 40s
Retirement planning should be a primary financial goal as you enter your forties. As your savings increase, your debts should decrease and your credit history now spans a couple of decades. Your credit scores should begin to climb as you enter your fifties, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t ways to help improve your credit scores if necessary.
Consider getting an additional credit card or taking out a line of credit with the bank if you want to help your credit scores. Having a greater mix of credit accounts can sometimes aid your scores. Also taking on a few small charges can help to bolster your scores if you’ve been maintaining your credit balances at zero. Often, those who maintain balances at a small percentage of their credit card limits have a higher score on average than those with no balances at all.