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Love and Debt: Why you need to talk about money

How to Stop Living Paycheck to Paycheck

Where to go for mortgage and debt help

What You Should Know About Debt Settlement

Create a plan to deal with medical debt

Options for Higher Education

Will Changes in Credit Reporting Affect You?

What to do if your medical bills are turned over to collections

What to do if your spouse can't pay his or her bills

What to do when a family member ruins your credit

Homeownership is possible

What you need to know about the IRS and collection agencies

Will being turned down for a store credit card hurt my credit?

Beware of credit repair

Debt Management versus Debt Settlement

How to get ahead of late fees

Is There a Service That Helps You Not Pay Bills

Is a Debt Owed

Patience is the key to furnishing a new home

How to split expenses with your partner

Will my boyfriend's bad credit affect me?

What to do if your account is turned over to collections

Personal Credit and Starting a Business

Finding Money to Reduce Your Debt and Improve Your Credit

Simple Keys to Personal Finance

Be vigilant to avoid telephone and internet scams

Debt Settlement

Understanding credit utilization

The pros and cons of skipping a payment

Keep an open line of communication with parents about their finances.

Make a Choice to Get Ahead Financially

What to do when a relative asks you for money

Should You Buy a Home Now or Wait?

The difference between debt settlement and debt management

The negative impact of paying a payment 30 days late

Stressed by Finances

How to navigate two significant financial decisions: starting a family and buying a home

How to advise someone close to you who is coming into a significant amount of money

Make a Conscious Decision on How to Spend Your Money

How do you know if you have a good credit score?

Americans spend more money eating out than on groceries

Having Good Credit Saves You Money

Developing good money habits with your first job

How to save for a home

How to Know if you are Ready for Home Ownership

When is the right time to buy a home?

You can improve your credit to buy a home

Plan a Memorable Vacation Without Incurring Debt

The Hidden Costs of Payday Loans

Be Wary of Credit Repair Services

Use Caution when playing the credit card game

What does it mean to say bankruptcy gives you a clean slate?

How your credit is affected by various debt options

Be wary of predatory small business loans

What to do if you fall behind on mortgage payments

Financing a College Education

Money, Credit and Relationships

Should you be concerned with your date's credit scores?

Best options for a small, short-term loan

How to help a relative who is always borrowing money from you

Skipping a Payment over the Holidays

What to do if you are overwhelmed by medical bills

Make your financial intention a financial goal you can achieve

What to do when a collector calls you

The difference between paying bills and managing your money

My wife and I have gone through some tough financial times, which eventually led us to file for bankruptcy.  Following this experience, I don’t ever want to use credit again, but my wife

What do I need to know to pay ahead on my mortgage?

What to do if you get an unsolicited credit card in the mail

What to do when moving in to share expenses doesn't work out

You can improve your credit to buy a home

Q. We want to buy a home, but our lender recently told us that our credit isn’t good enough to qualify for a home loan. I’ve always dreamed of having a home of my own and now that dream seems completely out of reach.  Is there anything we can do?

A. All is not lost. Please don’t give up on your goal of homeownership, if that’s what you really want. Some people think poor credit is a death sentence, something you will suffer with for the rest of your life. Nothing could be further from the truth, however. You can take practical steps that will positively impact your credit scores. If you do nothing, though, your credit situation will remain the same.

You might be surprised to learn that it typically takes people two to three years to rebuild their credit. If that seems like too long from now, consider that most cell phone contracts last for two years. Think of how fast your contract comes up for renewal—two years go by in a flash.  

Your situation will be unique, but there are certain things that all people can to do improve their credit. Thirty-five percent of your credit score is based on you paying your bills on time, so start here. If you don’t already, make it a habit to pay all of your bills on time, with full monthly payments on or before your due dates. 

If you are late with payments, your credit scores will continue to suffer. If you let accounts go into collections, this will also negatively impact your credit scores. If you currently have accounts in collections, make arrangements to repay these bills and to bring your accounts current.  

Thirty percent of your credit score is based on your credit utilization, or the amount of credit that you are currently using, compared to what you have available to you. If you’re using a majority of your available credit, pay it down. Avoid reaching your credit limit on your credit cards. In fact, it’s a good rule of thumb to stay under your credit limit by at least 30%. If you have zero-balance credit cards, keep them open, since closing these accounts can affect your credit utilization.

Fifteen percent of your credit score is based on your credit history. The longer you use credit and pay your bills on time, the better. The final factors influencing your credit score—the remaining 20 percent—are based on how many lines of credit you have opened in the last 12 months and the types of credit extended to you.  Too many new lines of credit, or too many open lines of credit, can lower your credit scores. 

If you need additional guidance to help you rebuild your credit, I encourage you to contact a HUD- approved housing counseling agency. A housing counselor can review your situation and provide you with personalized steps to rebuild your credit. With a little bit of know-how, patience, and a commitment to change, you can build your credit and turn your dream of homeownership into a reality.

Bonnie Spain is the executive director of the American Center for Credit Education and Consumer Credit Counseling Service of the Black Hills. For more information, email

The material in this transmission is provided for personal, non-commercial, educational, and informational purposes only. ACCE makes no representations or warranties with respect to the accuracy or completeness of the contents of this transmission and assumes no responsibility for errors, inaccuracies, omissions, or any inconsistency herein. You should consult a professional where appropriate.