What does "manage your credit" mean, anyway?
The other day I was having lunch with a friend at a deli,
which had just run out of Swiss cheese. "Oh for Pete's
sake," my friend blurted out. "What kind of sandwich place
doesn't have Swiss cheese?"
That got me thinking—not about cheese—but about
the phrase, "for Pete's sake." It's a common saying I hear
all the time; I just wasn't sure what it really meant. (Who
is this Pete fellow?)
Then I realized there are a lot of terms or sayings we use
that don't have obvious meanings. In fact, I use one all
time that may not be clear to everyone: "Manage your
credit." What does that actually mean?
Man-age (man'ij) vt. 1 to control the movement or behaviour
of; handle 2 to have charge of; direct; administer
Credit management can mean many things to many people. For
those of you who want to take an active role in your
credit, it means understanding how credit affects your
life—and how to use it to your advantage.
Here are three things you can start to do right now.
1. Order your credit profile more than once a year Your
credit profile can change daily (especially if someone is
pretending to be you), so you need to know what's going on
all the time. Credit reports make it simple to track your
2. Establish your own credit
Do you only have credit cards that are joint accounts? Even
if you share the account with your spouse, it may be best
to get an individual account to build credit in your own
name. That way, you can make sure it's your actions that
affect your credit record and credit score. Keep in mind,
when you share an account, you also share that person's
Maybe you're just getting started or want to start over and
re-establish your credit, when doing so you'll want to make
sure that it's you (and not your accounts) that's in
control. There's a step-by-step guide you can use that will
be a big help.
3. Create a spending plan
High credit card account balances can mean lower credit
scores—and that can hurt your chances for better
interest rates. Print out your credit profile and circle
any accounts with large balances. These are the cards you
want to pay down first. So, you should try to budget in a
way that allows you to put extra money toward these
accounts each month.
Whether it's signing up for credit monitoring services or
sticking to a spending plan, taking action regularly is
what managing your credit really means. So for Pete's sake,
About the Author:
TransUnion's TrueCredit.com provides millions of consumers
with tools to manage their own credit health and achieve
greater control over their finances, through easy-to-use
educational materials, free monthly newsletters and
personal credit reports. TrueCredit.com's online products
include 3 bureau credit monitoring services, insurance
credit scores, debt management and identity theft
protection tools. www.truecredit.com/