It’s everyone’s favorite season! The holidays are filled with cheer, goodwill and generosity — and so much candy! You’ve probably spent plenty of time thinking about what to get your children, spouse, family and friends …but have you considered what to get yourself?
I’m not talking about splurging on a big-screen TV, or cute new designer shoes. It can be tempting to treat yourself to something exciting since you’re already out shopping for everyone else. However, there’s one gift you can give yourself now that you’ll enjoy for years to come: the gift of developing good credit habits that will lead to a strong FICO score.
Here are just a few reasons why you should give yourself the gift of good credit habits:
-Life often throws us unexpected curveballs; sometimes you might need access to money (in the form of loans, mortgages, or financing) at a moment’s notice. Good credit habits can help ensure that you get the loan you need — especially on short notice.
-The lower your FICO score, the higher interest rate you could potentially pay on your loans. Good credit habits today can save you hundreds or even thousands of dollars next year, and in the years to come. If that’s not a good reason to shop a little more carefully, I don’t know what is!
-ID theft is a big problem and millions of Americans have their identity stolen every year. Good credit habits like keeping a close eye on your FICO Score and immediately investigating any strange transactions will help you protect your identity.
-According to the FTC, some employers are requesting credit reports from applicants. Good credit habits can mean less to worry about if a potential employer asks for permission to look at your credit report.
During the holidays, it can be tempting to double down on presents, and perhaps even to treat yourself to a few gifts. But remember: while it’s good to be generous, do so within your means, because your decisions today will impact your credit in the future.
When faced with a tempting purchase, you might find plenty of ways to justify it in the short term. But keep the bigger picture in mind and remember that purchases add up, and staying within your budget will have a lasting effect on your finances. Careful shopping now can help you spend less in interest next year and beyond.
Good credit habits are a gift that keeps on giving – to you, and to your family, for months and years to come.
Jeanne Kelly is a nationally recognized voice in credit consulting and author of The 90 Day Credit Challenge. For more information on Jeanne, visit www.JeanneKelly.net.