Two Easy Steps to Build Your Credit

So, you’ve reached the point in life where you need to establish your credit and start building your history and score. Congratulations! Credit can get a bad rap when it’s not handled well but if you do your homework and you’re ready to use it responsibly, credit can be used to your benefit. Here’s how.

Step 1: Get a Credit Card

This may seem like a “too-obvious” first step but it’s not one you should make lightly. Do your research. Since you don’t have anything established, you probably won’t qualify for a card with rewards (and if you do, read the fine print carefully). If you’re wary of signing up for a full-blown credit card but still want to earn rewards while establishing credit, apply for a card through a frequently visited and trusted retailer. Your interest rate will likely be higher but if you pay off your balance each month, you can build a good credit foundation without incurring interest charges.

If you’ve recently graduated from high school or are in college, a student-based credit card is certainly worth consideration if becoming an authorized user isn’t an option. While efforts have been made to stifle the more predatory marketing practices, you’ll still need to pay close attention to the details such as APR, fees and limits. You might also consider applying for a “secured” credit card through your financial institution. Secured means that you’ll have an account (checking or savings) tied to the credit card to serve as collateral. Talk to a financial expert about the best option for you based on your needs and habits.

Step 2: Be Responsible

Repeat after me: Do not to spend more than you earn. This financial wisdom holds especially true with credit cards. The most effective way to build an excellent credit score is to pay off your balance, on time, every month. Many first-time credit cardholders get into a good payment habit by setting up their monthly bills, such as cable, insurance or utilities, through their cards. If you’re putting a big purchase on your credit card, try to save up before you put money down and plan to put any extra funds toward the balance.

Lastly, you’ll want to monitor your credit report. You can access your report for free once a year, and it’s something you should definitely do. Not only will you learn your score, but you can also scan the report for errors, which do occur. Anything from a misspelled name to a wrong address can cause issues, so stay on top of your report as best you can.

And there you have it – a two-step process for building credit from scratch. Use common sense and if you need advice, there’s undoubtedly someone at your local credit union who would be happy to speak with you.

Three Affordable Summer Vacations Here in Missouri

Go See the Show-Me State

With school out and vacation days accrued, the temptation of a quick, inexpensive weekend away is getting stronger. You don’t need to hop on an airplane to satisfy your wanderlust – check out these three awesome retreats and getaways all across the state.

Johnson’s Shut-in State Park

hdr_ShutIns

With 8,647 acres and camping, hiking, swimming and rock climbing available, Johnson’s Shut-in State Park is a place unlike any other. The “shut-ins” (an Ozark term) are deep narrow channels of the river flowing over large, smooth rocks, perfectly forming a natural water park. Could there be a better way to spend a hot summer’s day?

There are cabins available to rent but the park is well-equipped for camping, so pack up the tents. You can try your luck fishing for dinner in the Black River but just in case, throw in a few different meals.

Weston, Missouri 

weston-mo

After you shop on the Plaza and catch a Royals game in Kansas City, Missouri, head over to Weston, Missouri. Less than an hour from Kansas City, this small town is the definition of charming. There are several bed-and-breakfasts to choose from but sleep can wait – explore the many antique shops, restaurants and wineries the town offers.

For the foodies among us, plan ahead and reserve your spot for dinner at Green Dirt Farm. This sheep farm has earned national awards for its cheeses, and the farm-to-table dinners pair its fresh offerings with local chefs. This is a dining experience you won’t find anywhere else.

Hermann, Missouri

home-1

Headed east instead of west? Stop by Hermann, Missouri, for some rest and relaxation. This historic community is especially eventful during the summer months, with festivals and celebrations held nearly every weekend. If you need a break from the area’s wineries, you can check out the museums, many of which honor Hermann’s strong German heritage. Or, bring your bike and hop on the famous Katy Trail for a few miles of true outdoor Missouri beauty.

Mapping out and budgeting for your trip before you hit the road will help ensure that you don’t overspend. You may even consider downloading an app like Gas Buddy to ensure you fill up cheaper.

Where is your favorite getaway in Missouri? Any hidden gems? Share your favorite Missouri vacation memory with us in the comments.