This is the third post in our month-long mash up of National Garden and Financial Literacy Month. So far, we’ve covered financial tech and aquaponics and composting and tax credits. Today, we’re getting a little fowl-mouthed as we discuss eggcellent ways to humanely raise backyard chickens and your credit score.
In our previous blog posts we have discussed programs like Home Is Possible and Mortgage Tax Credit (MTC) which help Nevadans get into their own homes. One of the best luxuries of homeownership is the ability to grow your own garden. A developing trend in gardening and urban farming is the raising of chickens right in your backyard. Websites like backyardchickens.com provide poultry participants with everything they need to know in raising their own peep. (That’s the collective noun for chickens)
If raised correctly, chickens can provide a source for eggs, meat, entertainment, and bragging rights. Credit scores, if raised correctly, can actually get you a better interest rate on your home loans making the entire homebuying process smoother, as well as bragging rights. We have gathered a list of proven ways to raise your credit score according to myFICO.com, one of the leading credit reporting bureaus.
1. Pay Your Bills on Time
Though it may seem like a no-brainer, paying your bills on time is one of the most effective ways to raise, and maintain, a solid credit score. Payment history accounts for 35 percent of your FICO score, making it the largest factor in your score. Paying your bills on time is akin to feeding your backyard fowl on time. If your feathered friends are well-fed, they will be happier and produce eggs more regularly.
2. Keep Your Credit Card Balance Low
Amounts owed make up 30 percent of your FICO score. Any amount of outstanding debt on a credit card can negatively impact your score. In order to keep a good score, it is best to keep your outstanding balance as low as possible. If you have multiple outstanding balances, it’s best to pay off the accounts with the highest interest rate first, even if the balance is lower. You can then use those extra savings from avoiding the accruing high interest to pay off the accounts with lower interest rates.
3. Don’t Open Multiple Credit Cards at Once Just to Build Credit
Many people assume that having more available credit will increase their credit score, but this approach could potentially lower your credit score. Having too many chickens in your backyard increases the amount of work involved in raising your hens. Adding 15 chickens to your poultry posse at once is stressful and noisy. Similarly, opening too many credit cards in a short period of time can cause undue stress and requires more attention than having only the credit cards you need. It’s important to open credit cards on an as-needed basis, as this will make it easier to keep track of your accounts. Also, rapidly opening accounts can look risky to credit score bureaus. It lowers the age of your credit history which lowers your overall credit score.
4. Keep an Eye on Your Credit Score
It is a common misconception that checking your credit score can lower it. If you request a credit report directly from the credit bureau you’re using, it will not affect your score. Watching your credit score can be a calming experience on your journey to financial literacy and independence. Watching your backyard chickens can be calming and add a sense of independence to your life. Independence from the poultry section of your local supermarket. Watching your hard work thrive in your own backyard let’s you remove yourself from the hustle of everyday life. As Jason Price wrote for Modern Farmer, “I never thought I would say this but I like watching my chickens play together. They are funny and each of them have different ‘personalities’.”
5. When You’re In Real Trouble, Contact a Professional
When raising backyard chickens gets tough, it’s time to call upon a local backyard chicken expert. Price also mentions in his article that his local poultry professionals “have given helpful advice at all times and have invaluable knowledge.” He goes on to suggest that “Before you burn countless hours diagnosing chicken problems by browsing fowl message boards, find a local poultry purveyor and be done with it.” The same is true of credit reporting. If you truly get into the thick of things and are having a hard time with your credit score, contact a local credit professional like Epic Credit Solutions, who work with a law firm to help their clients remove negative events on their credit reports or Financial Guidance Center who helps people develop debt management plans to help them achieve their financial goals.
Raising your credit score may be the first step in your journey to homeownership and your newfound life-long goal of becoming a proud peep parent. The best way to raise your credit is to not let it slip. Keeping an eye on your debts and the pecking order of importance based on their interest rates will make it easier to keep a birds-eye view on your credit. And that’s no yolk!