Through all stages in our life, there will be something that requires taking one’s credit score into account. Checking your credit score is deeply involved in large purchases like buying a home or leasing a car. It is also involved in applying for loans for college and even senior retirement living. Surprisingly, people think that their credit scores aren’t highly important when they reach past a certain age. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. While it is true that seniors have little to no debt or a credit card balance to worry about, certain factors could arise that require credit rating checks.
How Credit Scores Affect a Senior’s Life?
Even if you’re living together with someone, live on your own, semi-employed or even full retired, the impact of your existing credit score can be severely damaged if it is not well taken care of. Whether you’re applying for a senior retirement living community or want to get a part time job during your later years, your score will likely be brought up.
Even though you already had retired from your career, it doesn’t mean you don’t have to stop working. It’s very common for seniors to work during their retirement years, whether it be a part-time or full-time job. However, during your application process, your credit report could show up for review. Employers can look at your credit ratings, should the job involve access to large amounts money or sensitive financial information.
Seniors that are still able to drive might be affected by having a poor credit score. While it won’t inhibit their driving ability, it will inhibit their ability to buy a vehicle or trade up their existing one. Credit reports and scores are used to determine the interest rate for a senior to buy or lease a car. So you if you have bad credit ratings, it could mean you’ll have to settle for a higher payment every month or downgrade to a vehicle with an interest rate that is suited for your level.
Homeownership and Renting
During the later years, you and your loved one might consider buying a smaller home so that you have less space to worry about and maintain. However, a bad credit score might impact your ability to borrow money for the new home. The reason is because banks and mortgage companies will look at your credit score and determine if you’re fit for their business.
Just like homeownership, credit score ratings can affect one’s own ability to rent a new home or an apartment. Landlords and residential property management companies will scan your credit score to see if you are viable to rent a living space.
Senior Retirement Living Spaces (Both Assisted and Independent)
If homeownership or renting out a living space isn’t you and your loved one’s future plans, it is likely you’re think about senior retirement living. These communities are a wonderful residential option, but many seniors don’t realize that these communities require private payments. While there are some exceptions (assisted living services can be funded through medicare), you will still need to fill out an application for residence. With this application, the community can likely check your credit score and find out if you have enough financial responsibility to live in their community.
How can Seniors Get Better Credit?
If you or your loved one has credit problems that is preventing them from owning a new car or becoming a part of a senior retirement living community, you shouldn’t panic. There are ways to fix your credit and get it back on the right track.
The first thing to do is get an actual readout of your credit score. There are plenty of online sites like FreeCreditReport.com and others that can give you a fully detailed report of your credit. Just remember not to use sites that are questionable or ask for a small payment for a report. It is likely they could automatically enroll you into a credit-monitoring service.
Another thing to do is fix errors, credit bureaus are required to fix any errors they have made. If you spot a mistake, inform them and they will have to fix it. To be assured, keep all copies of any pertaining documents close; having a paper trail will benefit for future occurrences.
In the meantime, you can do some quality of life changes to help you and your loved one financially. For one thing, consider paying your bills regularly each month. It’ll boost your score over time, since lenders will see that you have good account management. Also, you should consider no longer co-signing on anything with a relative or a close friend of the family. The reason is because if one party can’t hold their end, the other will end up paying for it. It’s best to limit your risk by avoiding it.
Don’t Panic about Credit Ratings and Senior Retirement Living
Even in these troubled times and the theorized threat of financial disasters for seniors, you really shouldn’t worry. If you manage to take the steps and fix any mishaps in your credit rating, seniors like yourself shouldn’t worry too much. “Paying all other bills on time and paying off your credit card each month are all important steps to take toward rebuilding your credit” says Drop Mortgage’s Jon Maddux, regarding seniors and foreclosures due to bad credit. He also mentioned that due to the nature of credit scoring, the financial wounding caused by credit problems are healed over time, provided other lines of credit are well taken care of.
In the end, as long as you don’t panic and stress out, you should be able to maintain a healthy financial living during the best years of your life.