Top 10 Ways to Lower Your Financial Stress


How high can it go? Juicing Your Credit Score

Your true credit score is your FICO (Fair Isaac Corporation) score. Creditors with scores of 760+ have access to the best rates. To get your FICO score, you'll need to request your credit report from each of the three main credit bureaus -- Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. The average of these three FICO scores is your real FICO number.

Pulling up a low credit score is a long, painstaking process of paying your bills on time, building equity and repaying debt. It takes years, and there are few shortcuts. However, there are a couple of things you can do to juice your score.

  • Check your credit reports for errors: 25 to 85 percent of credit reports contain mistakes [source: CBS]. Finding and reporting mistakes to the bureau (Equifax, Experian or TransUnion) that is reporting the incorrect information can jumpstart your credit score.
  • Keep a low credit utilization rate: A $2,000 balance on a $10,000 limit card equals a 20 percent credit utilization rate. This looks a lot better on your credit report than a card that is maxed out. To lower your utilization rate, pay down your credit cards or call and request a credit line increase.

If your credit score stresses you out, turn improving it into a game, the same way you turned cost-cutting into a fun, family activity. And speaking of cost-cutting, we hinted earlier about free online tools to help you save -- get the details on the next page.