If you're among the 9% of US workers currently unemployed, you know that being without a job for a lengthy period of time can do a real number on not just your confidence, but your finances as well.
Unemployment is a costly affair. Aside from the toll it can take on your regular bills (food, house, credit cards, car, etc.), simply job-hunting can add even more to your expenses. Whether you're buying a new suit for that interview you just landed, putting gas in the car to drive an hour down the freeway to get there, or just registered for classes to help you expand your skill set, your monthly bills are about to go up as your available finances start to head south.
And while you may be focused on pinching every penny you can, potential employers are becoming increasingly more focused on the state of your credit history - both before your job loss and now. Keeping your credit limit as high as possible can be the key to bringing you one step closer to that new job. Here are 6 tips you can use to help you preserve as much of your good credit as you can while you look for a new job
The first step in maintaining a good credit score is to keep paying your balances and debts down in order to keep your high credit rating - especially now that you're unemployed, as missteps like late payments can be judged more harshly. You'll also want to pay more than just the minimum balance on your accounts, as most card companies hold people who only pay the bare minimum in slightly better regard than someone who's late or misses payments. Keep your credit cards open (unless there are any business-related cards you won't need) and continue to charge on them in order to keep your limits high, thereby leaving your spending options flexible. This may end up hurting your credit rating in the long run, but it can certainly help you when the bills come in. This may sound counter-productive, but could prove useful: apply for more credit. Whether you're already unemployed or know that you are about to be, asking your current providers to raise your credit limits (seeking new applications dents your rating) to help you stretch that dollar out for all it's worth. You can also weigh your cards' rewards options. If hotel and air travel points are a must, you'll want to use those cards more frequently, whereas if cash-back rewards are more of a necessity, you'll want to stick with those cards. You can also look into off-credit debt, such as your home equity loan. Providers find these less risky, so look into these for help as well. Finally, knowing when your card companies report to the credit bureaus can help keep your budget flexible. Most companies only report to the bureaus once a month; knowing when that is can help you pay down your accounts by the reporting date and in turn, keep higher balances.
Follow these tips and when your next job rolls around, you shouldn't be too much worse for the wear.
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