Whether you have a lot of debt or just a lot of open credit lines, it’s crucial to your financial success to keep them organized. When you’re working to pay down debt, having a running list of all outstanding debts, with pertinent information for each debt, can help you feel more in control. When you have a lot of open credit lines (whether there are outstanding balances or not), organizing your credit accounts helps ensure you always know what’s going on.
I pride myself in being a financially organized person. Sure, it wasn’t always that way…but when I was working to pay off debt, I had no choice but to get organized! Now, I help my clients do the same! If you’re feeling scattered with your credit accounts, I’m sharing 5 tips to organize your credit accounts and feel better overall.
5 Tips to Organize Your Credit Accounts
#1 Get all your credit accounts listed in a spreadsheet
First things first. We need a single repository for all of your credit accounts. I recommend a spreadsheet because it can always be accessed via a computer. It can also be easily updated as your situation changes. You don’t have that luxury if you plan to write down all of your debts in a notebook. As you get started with organizing your credit accounts, open an excel spreadsheet file or Google Sheets page and name it “My Credit Accounts”.
Start by listing each credit account you have – whether they are opened or closed and whether they have balances or not. Don’t worry about adding any other information just yet, for now, we just want to get the list created.
If you’re not sure what credit accounts you have, you can always refer to your credit report. Every year, consumers are entitled to one free credit report pull each year from all three bureaus. You can pull yours at www.annualcreditreport.com. Use the credit report as a reference while you get your credit account list created.
#2 Include pertinent details
Once you have all your credit accounts listed out in your spreadsheet, we want to start adding in pertinent details. These details include: balance, lender, due date, interest rate and total credit line.
I suggest creating new columns with each of the details specified above as its own column header. Then, take each debt, one by one, and enter the most up to date details into the spreadsheet. Some of these pertinent details may change over time, that’s okay. Just take the information you have today and get it entered.
#3 Set a monthly reminder to update your balances
Because the credit information in your spreadsheet will change over time, you’ll want to establish a routine for updating your information. I would recommend a monthly cadence, since most bills and credit accounts are paid monthly.
Create a monthly calendar reminder to update your balances and adjust any information that may have changed – sometimes, debts are transferred to new lenders, interest rates are changed, or credit lines are adjusted. It shouldn’t take you much time to update every month, especially since you should know where everything is to get the information you need.
#4 Pull your credit reports to make sure nothing is missed
If you didn’t already pull your credit reports when you were getting your credit accounts listed in your spreadsheet in the beginning, now you’ll want to pull them. Reviewing your credit reports can be a great way to make sure no credit account was missed. You may be surprised to find collection accounts or other accounts you may have forgotten about.
Just like you’ll set a monthly reminder to update your credit account information, I want you to set an annual reminder to pull your credit reports. Staying on top of the information that’s reported to the credit bureaus will have long-term benefits.
#5 Make it a habit to add new credit accounts to your spreadsheet
My last tip to organize your credit accounts is to make sure you have a habit in place of adding new credit accounts to your spreadsheet. Any time a new credit line is opened, your immediate next step is to add that account to your spreadsheet, along with all of the pertinent details related to that account.
This is another step that will ensure you aren’t forgetting anything and always staying up to date with the credit lines in your name.
If you follow the 5 tips above to organize your credit accounts, you’ll be so glad you did! I understand it may take some time to get everything into your spreadsheet, but make sure you prioritize it! Once you get the initial set up complete, maintenance becomes much easier! How do you keep your credit accounts organized? Any questions as you’re going through the process? Drop a comment below to share!