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Know your credit score

By Susan Shinn
For the Salisbury Post
Just as itís important to have a healthy weight, a healthy blood pressure and healthy cholesterol, itís important to have a healthy credit score.
ěThese days, it determines everything,î says Lou Adkins, a housing counselor with Salisbury Community Development Corporation.
Your credit score, which can range from 300 to 850, is an indication of how well you pay your bills, and what kind of mortgage you can get.
Adkins says that a score of 700 and up is ěreally good.î
ěA score of 620 is not great, but you can usually get a mortgage with that,î she says.
So how do you achieve a good credit score?
Pay your bills within 30 days.
ěA lot of people donít worry about it,î Adkins says. ěThey donít think they have enough money, so they donít open their bills.î
But if you canít pay off your credit card monthly, at least make the minimum payment. If you have medical bills, set up a payment plan. Donít let bills go to collections, and donít have a credit card thatís ěcharged offî ó never paid.
ěIn order to get a mortgage,î Adkins notes, ěyou have to go back and pay it.î
She also advises having no more than one credit card.
ěPeople have too many credit cards and theyíre not saving,î she says.
The maxim ěpay yourself firstî still applies today, she says ó even if itís just sending $25 to your savings account.
ěThat way,î Adkins says, ěif you have an emergency, youíre not going to get into debt.î
Take advantage of checking your credit score. Go to www.annualcreditreport. com and place your request with one of the three nationwide consumer credit reporting companies: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. You can spread it out over the year every four months, to see if your score changes, and if the reports are accurate.
ěMy recommendation is that everyone needs to check it at least once a year,î she says.
She notes, ěItís just crazy not to have a good credit score because everybody is checking it.î
Credit scores are consulted, she says, when you buy a car, when you apply for homeowner and car insurance and when you apply for some jobs.
ěYou pay more if you donít have a good credit score,î Adkins says.

Freelance writer Susan Shinn lives in Salisbury.

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