Get back on the path to good credit

Your Credit Repair Check

Most of the time we don't even think about our credit score. But when you're getting ready to buy a house or a car, suddenly every little credit mistake you've ever made comes back to haunt you. Well, don't spend too much time kicking yourself about it. Instead, start working on repairing your credit and staying out of this kind of trouble in the future.

Get a copy of your credit report

Once a year, consumers are entitled to receive one free copy of their credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus. You can request your free copy by mail or over the Internet. When you get the report, check it carefully and make sure the items listed on it are accurate. If you see any inaccuracies, highlight them on the report as you go. When you've finished reviewing all the items, use the form included to dispute any inaccuracies. By law, the credit bureau has 45 days to investigate the disputed items and get back to you. If they are unable to complete their investigation, they must delete the disputed item from your report.

If you have a bankruptcy in your recent past, it's going to stay on your report for ten years, period. The good news is that you can buy a house within two years after your bankruptcy was discharged. You may pay a higher interest rate than someone without a bankruptcy on his or her record, but the point is that you don't have to wait the full ten years post-discharge to become a homeowner. You'll be able to buy a car immediately after discharge (with the same caveat about interest rates).

Keep a positive attitude

It's very easy to get depressed when your credit score isn't where you'd like it to be. Don't let yourself feel ashamed or sad - many people have been in the same boat. In fact, even Mark Twain filed for bankruptcy. By the same token, don't lose your temper when dealing with creditors or employees of the credit bureaus. Remember that they're just trying to do their jobs, and sometimes their hands are tied by the same red tape that seems to be strangling you.

While you're trying to repair your credit, pay as much towards your debts as you can so you can get rid of them and free up more of your income for yourself. It can be hard, but try to forgo some of the unnecessary things you spend your money on in order to do this. Do you really need to get your morning cup of coffee at Starbuck's, or would the store brand you brew at home wake you up just as easily? And remember that you don't always have to spend money to have a good time. Play some board games with the family and reconnect with each other instead of renting a video.

Your credit rating will recover if you keep working at it. Once you're out of the woods with your debts, don't rack up the credit card charges again. In fact, it may be wise to lock up some of your credit cards so you won't be tempted to overuse them. Just be sure to keep one card available for emergencies only.

Compare Credit Repair Offers How identity theft can affect your life