It's November - a month that is traditionally very busy in most American homes. You start the month with a candy stomach ache as you finish up any candy that the trick-or-treaters didn't get. Then there's the election and Veterans Day and Thanksgiving and Black Friday. Oh, and somewhere in there you probably need to get some gifts for people for an equally busy December!
I know you're busy but it's worth taking some time this month (or the first week of December at the very latest) to go through your credit report.
1. Between now and the first week of January, things are going to be VERY busy (and possibly very expensive) so you'll have enough to think about without having to worry about your credit report too.
2. I always advise people to give some thought to their credit before going into the season. I do this so it puts your credit at the top of your mind, allowing you to set a credit-friendly budget for the season, which allows you to know exactly what you can spend and you won't impact your credit by going over.
3. Reviewing now allows you to identify any potential problems you may have BEFORE you get to the store, do all of your gift shopping, and wind up at the check-out with a credit card that they won't accept because of a problem that you didn't realize existed.
4. After the holiday season is over, you'll want to sit down and make sure that your credit card charges were accurate. That will keep you busy enough without also having to go through your credit report, too!
5. If you pull your credit report now and view your score, and then you pull it again in the early spring to view your report and score, you'll gain a very helpful glimpse into the impact of the holiday season on your credit. Will your wise use of the credit card (and full payment of amounts owing) help your credit score go up? Or, will your excessive use of the credit card (with an outstanding balance carried over from one month to the next) drive your credit score down. Looking at your credit report now gives you the "before" snapshot so you can view the "after" snapshot in February.
You're probably reading this and thinking, "But who has the time? I'm already busy!" I get it. I completely understand. But when people ask me that, I always counter with the following: if you're too busy to work on your credit now, even when things are busy, you may end up regretting it later. Set aside a day, get your credit reports, and work through them. You'll have a better holiday season because of it.