HOW YOU HANDLE YOUR CREDIT IS MORE CRITICAL THAN YOU MAY REALIZE.
Your credit score, which ranges from 300 to 850, not only affects your ability to obtain a mortgage, car note, or personal loan, but it also affects the interest rate you pay. Any score above 700 is a sign of good financial health. To stay fit, avoid these five credit score ills:
* Late payments: "Your payment history is about 35% of your credit score," says Orlando-based financial adviser Kimberly R. Stewart, who has conducted workshops for the Smart Women Finish Rich[R] seminars. If your payment is 30 days late, it stays on your credit report for seven years.
* High card balances: The more balances you owe compared to your total available credit, the lower your score. Lenders look favorably upon borrowers who maintain balances of 30% or less of their credit limit.
* Closing credit accounts: "You...