By Jennifer Dunham
The fact is, divorce changes lives! As time goes on, the reality and severity of this life altering change will come to light especially regarding your credit. Rebuilding your credit after divorce takes time, effort, and persistence. The first question after divorce is, “What do I do now?” This is the question that my parents faced late in life.
I have learned a few steps that helped me put my parents back on the road to financial recovery. Maybe these steps can help you too!
ACCEPT THE FACTS
The first thing my parents had to do was accept the fact that their credit score was in the POOR range. It can only go up from there, right? Once I reminded them of that and got them over that emotional hurdle, we had to get busy and figure out how to rebuild their individual credit.
They found that their poor ratings kept them from landing better paying jobs, from buying Christmas gifts, from better insurance rates and so on. Keeping a poor rating isn’t an option.
WHAT’S DOES POOR CREDIT MEAN?
Your credit rating starts with your FICO score. A brief explanation is that your credit score reflects your credit health by considering 5 different factors; payment history, debt level, length of credit history, number of inquiries, and types of credit on file.
A poor credit rating puts a person in the category that is undesirable for lenders to let them borrow money. You become a BAD RISK!
REBUILDING POOR CREDIT
Obtain a copy of your credit report. By getting a free credit report, you know what the FICO sees on your credit after divorce. Your social security number is attached to almost everything from your ex-spouse’s transactions during your marriage.
Your credit report will be from each of the major lending bureaus and you can request it once a year for free. The key here is to only select one credit bureau report every 4 months. Then you will always have an up-to-date report on what the major lending bureaus see.
I was able to look at what the creditors were actually seeing after having my parents request their credit score. UGH! I wouldn’t lend to them either!
GET RID OF THE BAD CREDIT
What FICO sees is what’s on this credit report. Your name and financial worthiness is attached to this financial piece of paper. The best thing to do is to help FICO see more good, healthy credit transactions and get rid of the bad stuff. How do you do that?
I used attorney’s who specialize in credit repair. Thankfully they have a pay-as-you-go program. As a divorcee with bad credit, extra money isn’t a luxury. Their program legally rebuilt my parents credit score very quickly.
ADD MORE GOOD CREDIT
Now that their credit report/score was on the mend, they needed to reestablish GOOD credit practices.
They started with a revolving credit card from a company that was willing to take a risk on them. They requested a low limit and were careful not to carry a balance of more than 50% of the limit. I made sure of that! (The daughter becomes the parent is a story for another day.)
I also suggested they make payments early and exceed payment requirements a couple of dollars above the minimum. This credit card was high interest, but with poor credit, they had no other choice. They did what they had to do to start rebuilding their credit after divorce.
Now after a few years of self-control and frugal living, they have earned much better credit ratings! My mom still struggles with prioritizing the important things, but she has no credit card balance. And my dad was able to buy a new house and a truck.
Life after divorce is possible and so is mending your credit!
Jennifer Dunham is on a mission to help driven professionals change their overwhelming,unfulfilling often zombie-like lives into exciting lives they love! She helps women, who while successful, just aren’t happy or satisfied. They need help relearning what happiness even feels like. They want to create a life they love now, instead one full of regrets later. Visit Jennifer at happinessmatters.com