Financial Fitness 101
Similar to your physical health — weight, blood pressure, cholesterol, etc. — you should keep track of your financial health too. One key area to stay on top of is your credit score.
What is your credit score?
In Canada, a credit score is a 3 digit number that shows how well you are at managing credit. It is also used by lenders to indicate how risky it would be to lend you money.
Credit scores generally range from 300 to 850. Your credit score is calculated based on information in your credit report. A credit report is a summary of your credit history — payment history, amount of debt, and the length of your credit history.
What is a good credit score?
A higher credit score indicates you have been a responsible borrower. This in turn can make potential lenders more confident when it comes to considering lending to you. According to Equifax®, one of the largest consumer credit reporting agencies in the world, credit scores generally break down like this:
- 580 to 669 are considered fair
- 670 to 739 are considered good
- 740 to 799 are considered very good
- 800 and up are considered excellent
How do you improve your credit score?
At a high level the typical strategies for maintaining the health of your credit score can be summarized like this:
- Don’t miss payment — make the minimum payments at the very least
- Avoid opening too many credit accounts
- Maintain a variety of credit types — credit cards, lines of credit, loans through banks, and mortgages, etc.
One of the not so obvious tips for maintaining your credit score comes from Trevor Bowie of Capital Direct Atlantic. “Keep as much room between your balance, and your limit as you can”, says Trevor. He also says that being a “credit seeker” can hurt your overall credit score.
You can easily find out what your credit score is by going through Equifax or TransUnion. Requesting your credit score will not have a negative impact. Knowing your credit score is an important step towards improving, or maintaining your overall financial health.
If you find that your financial health is being impacted by too much debt, then consider a home equity loan to consolidate debt. Debt consolidation is when you transfer all of your debt to a single loan. Not only can this simplify things, and lower the amount of interest you’re paying, it can help to improve your overall financial health — your credit score.