Why Stay-at-Home Parents Are Ruining Their Credit
Being a stay-at-home parent is a big responsibility, especially if you are caring for more than one child.
Your days likely consist of making meals, driving the kids to school, helping with homework, carpooling, maintaining your home, and much more! It’s easy to understand why something like your credit may not be a priority when you have so much on your plate every day. Here are four of the most common mistakes stay at home parents make that can potentially ruin their credit:
1. Not Paying Attention to Your Credit Report
The more you check in on your credit report, the better off you will be. By not checking your report often, you risk having a low score that might be difficult to repair. Consider ordering copies of your credit report at least once a year. By law, you are entitled to one free report from each of the 3 major bureaus – Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax – annually. This not only allows you to stay on top of your credit score, but also allows you to check for inaccuracies and potential fraud. It will also help you to understand what impacts your credit both favorably and unfavorably.
2. Having Too Many Store Credit Cards
Many stay-at-home parents are understandably quick to take advantage of coupons and discounts. However, while you may have the best of intentions, proceed with caution when approached with enticing credit card offers. Opening several store cards around the same time can negatively impact your score. Don’t fall into the trap!
3. Falling Into Emotional and Impulse Buying
It can be a drastic change to go from the 9-to-5 world to becoming a stay-at-home parent. Overspending can become a risk when parents suffer from depression and anxiety if at home too much with little adult interaction. They are also at risk of impulse buying because they are often in such a rush. To avoid this emotional and impulse spending, make sure you have a set-list before you do any kind of shopping and know how much you are going to spend. Ask yourself, “Do I need this?” and “Does it fit in my budget?” If you are needing reasons to get out of the house more and treat yourself, consider looking into inexpensive options. If the weather is nice, try going for a bike ride or walk in the park. Look into finding your own hobbies and alternative therapies to maintain positive thoughts and keep yourself busy outside the world of child-rearing.
4. Not Establishing Your Own Credit
It can be difficult to get approved for a credit card or loan if you don’t have income to claim. This is why it is essential to continue to build upon whatever credit history you have already established. If you are only an “authorized user” of your spouse’s card, then you won’t see much change in your score. In order to build your credit history, you should consider having a credit card in your name. To ensure you maintain a good score, try not to cancel any existing cards or loan accounts you have already in your name. Consider using one or two of your cards regularly to establish good payment history – just so long as you try to keep your credit utilization to under 30% and always pay the balance in full.
As a stay-at-home parent, you are always juggling multiple things at once. And because being a parent involves putting your children first so much of the time, you may notice that your credit score has been neglected. However, taking care of your score is easier than you think and is one of the best things you can do for yourself. You may need it one day for anything from a new mortgage to student loans for your children. You are not only caring for yourself by maintaining a great score, but your family too!