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Credit Clarity: Free Tools that Work

The first step to financial freedom is knowing where you stand. If you're in need of a financial makeover this series is for you. Get insights into your credit score today with these free resources. Whether a newly single parent, underemployed, or recovering from a major crisis. Damages add up.


Consider a Financial Makeover if:

Before you begin take a moment to clarify why you need a financial makeover. Below is a short list of life situations that may inspire a need for change.


1. You are a newly single parent.

2. You are underemployed or unemployed.

3. Currently in or coming out of a financial abusive relationship.

4. Recovering from a major crisis. Damages add up.

5. Pay down debt. (student loans, mortgage, medical bills)

6. Planning on making a major purchase in the not so distant future.

Step 1: Know who you owe


I'm guessing you know your expenses, the things you have to pay regularly to keep your head above water, but that's not what I'm referring to here. I'm suggesting you track down the institutions or people you owe that haven't come looking for you (yet), and make a list. These small balances can cause a looming sense of doom- sometimes our conscience simply won't let us get a good night's sleep. From this moment forward nothing is living in our brains rent-free, especially because we're responsible for paying. We'll make use of the list later in the series. Keep it in a safe place until then.



Step 2 Know Your Credit Score


Your credit score is a valuable asset even if you don't see it in that way today. That's one of the reasons people work so hard to build good credit, and maintain it. So, even if it hurts, it's better to know than be in the dark.


Everyone is entitled to a free yearly credit report. Need I say more- get it. Here's how, go to annualcreditreport.com and follow the prompts directing you to request your free credit report. Sponsored by the three major credit bureaus, Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion, and endorsed by the government you can be sure the information is accurate and up to date. If it isn't the credit bureaus are required by law to look into it, and detail the findings of their investigation.


Again, it's better to know this information. Mistakes happen, sometimes it's as small as sharing a name with someone that causes the confusion. For example, a father and son that share the same name. A junior and a senior. Other times it's far more nefarious, and someone has committed an act of fraud using your identity. Either way, to forewarned is to be forearmed.




Step 3: Track Your Credit Score


Once, you know your credit score, it's time to keep track of it regularly.

I recommend using Credit Karma. Signing up for the free service is painless. They'll notify you if there are any changes to your account and they offer a ton of informational content on their site.


Why I love Credit Karma


Over the past few years I've had a very difficult time in general which eventually became a financial nightmare. I've had money stolen from me, I've literally lost everything that wasn't on my person at one point, and the biggie was being a victim of fraud.

With all of my worries, I would easily lose basic cognitive abilities, like memory. Anyway, Credit Karma made getting back into my account a real challenge. I appreciate that.

But it wasn't too hard like (cough) some companies who have all of our information at their disposal.


Homework


Next week we'll be talking about vision and planning. In the meantime, work on:

1. Assessing where you are in life and why you want to take on the challenge of a financial makeover.

2. Obtain your free annual credit report by logging on to annualcreditreport.com and following the steps provided.

3. Find a tool like Credit Karma to help keep track of your credit score.


⚠️Warning


This week 08/16/2019 it was reported Credit Karma experienced a glitch that exposed sensitive account information to other users. Essentially, users were logging into their accounts only to see someone else's dashboard containing their personal information.

As someone who's had their identity stolen I do not think this technical issue contradicts the statements I have made above. However, it is inexcusable and could easily lead to an untold amount of fraudulent acts.


With that said, I will do my due diligence and research comparable services and post them here asap.



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