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6 Credit Lessons

1. Paying interest is one tough chore

Let's be real: Making monthly credit card payments isn't fun. But the pain (literally) compounds when you top off your monthly bill with interest payments. With many credit cards carrying an interest rate above 12%, missing even one payment can result in a large (and painful) interest payment.

2. Even a half-percentage interest-rate reduction matters

Negotiating isn't always on the docket for financial literacy programs, but it's worth mentioning: Some numbers carry more wiggle room than you'd expect. When opening a new line of credit, negotiate your rates. Although you may not always get your asking interest rate, you and your lender could very well land on a number lower than the original offer. And, yes, even a 0.5% reduction matters when it comes to paying interest. A $1,000 loan with a 17% interest rate reduced to a 16.5% interest rate would save you $5 a month.

3. Credit can offer greater protections against fraud

Quick, what's the safest way to make a purchase: cash, credit, or debit? Answer: credit. Choosing to use a credit card instead of swiping your debit card can offer greater protections against fraudulent purchases. Most credit card companies will remove fraudulent purchases as soon as you alert them to unusual/suspicious activity. Credit cards also cap your liability at $50. Claiming fraud for a debit purchase, on the other hand, may require you to file a more complicated claim -- and fraudulent purchases may not be reimbursed for up to two weeks.

4. Credit doesn't build itself

Credit doesn't build itself. Be proactive when building credit. A good credit score can save you a lot of money in the long run. For instance, strong credit can help you lock down lower interest rates and empower you to make large financial decisions like taking out a mortgage (when it makes sense!). A smart way to begin building your credit is to start soon and start small. Make small purchases using a credit card and then immediately pay them off. Better yet, start with a secured credit card. This "small beans" approach to minor, easily paid purchases can help build good credit habits early on.

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Opening that first credit card can often be confused with scoring a windfall at the bank. But being approved for a $2,500 credit line doesn't mean you have $2,500 at your beck and call. In fact, credit bureaus recommend that you stick below a 30% credit utilization rate. That means spending only up to 30% of your credit line. To avoid maxing out your credit (or spending above your means), be deliberate in the way you use your credit card for purchasing. Additionally, approach every purchase with a game plan by asking, "What's my timeline for paying this loan back? Is it realistic?"

6. A financial philosophy can help make, or break, your credit score.

Unfortunately, it doesn't translate well when you're trying to negotiate an overdue credit card bill with your lender. It's crucial to tack down a financial philosophy as you begin your financial journey. Having a clear -- and actionable -- financial philosophy can help guide you as you make financial decisions.

New Mexico Mountain Properties can assist you in finding that perfect piece of Angel Fire, Red River, or Taos Real Estate. NM Mountain Properties is located at the log home at the blinking light. You are sure to find something that will fulfill your Angel Fire Real Estate requirements. Give us a call here in Angel Fire at 575-377-2626, Taos is 575-758-5852 or call our agent Paula directly at 575-770-3306.

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