Let’s face it, none of us is perfect — especially when it comes to money. But there may be some things you’re doing that are damaging your finances, and ultimately your credit profile, that you’re not aware of.
Take a look at these 11 habits and see if any of them apply to you. Changing your ways might help you improve your credit, ultimately giving you an easier path to getting good terms and conditions on any future loans, credit cards or lines of credit. It may be an easier adjustment than you expect.
11 bad habits that can damage your credit
1. Not checking your mail
It may seem like a small thing to miss, but if you aren’t checking your mail on a regular basis you may not see that a bill has arrived, causing you to miss a payment. Sure, not all of your bills report your payment history to the credit bureaus (like your cellphone provider or cable bill), but if you’re late enough, the bill could end up in collections, which may appear on your credit reports. (You can see how collections and other negative items could be impacting your credit scores for free every 14 days on Credit.com.)
It may be easy to think “this bill isn’t due yet, so I’ll get to it later,” but doing so may not be the best route. If you forget it long enough, you may miss the payment deadline and get hit with late fees or, worse yet, send your account to collections.
3. Choosing convenience over cost
Have you ever noticed how everything convenient has an added fee? Buying concert tickets online, ordering food to be delivered, sending out your laundry — it all comes with a price.
Instead of racking up convenience charges on your credit card that you really can’t afford, think about if there’s a less expensive alternative. Give up that cab ride and take public transit. Sure, you may have to adjust your plans, but your wallet will thank you, as will your credit. Racking up a lot of debt may cause you to get too close to your credit limit, which can ding your credit.
4. Ignoring your budget
You went through the process of creating a budget, so it’s a good idea to try following it. Sure, there are times when you might decide to splurge on something you didn’t foresee spending money on, but overall it’s a good idea to stick to your budget. This way, when it comes time to make your student loan payment or mortgage bill, you’ll be more likely to have the funds to do so. Not only will this help you get those bills paid, but it will help you maintain a healthy payment history, which will benefit your credit.
Smoking, vaping … cigarettes, cigars — whatever your vice, it’s costing you. The average pack of cigarettes in the U.S. cost $5.51 in 2015, according to Fair Reporters, so if you’re buying a carton of cigarettes on a weekly basis (typically 10 packs), you’re looking at about $55 every week, or $2,860 each year. Yes, we know this habit can be challenging to break, but think about this: By even cutting back a little, you could have extra money to put toward paying off your student loans or credit card debt, in turn helping to improve your credit scores (and your health).
Another vice that may be challenging to give up is alcohol, whether it’s that bottle of wine in your fridge or martinis at the bar by the office after a long week. But your budget may thank you if you cut back on this expense too, as tossing another drink back can potentially land you in debt if you do it enough.
7. Eating out every day
Eating out every day can be a fun social experience (and can get you away from your desk), but those mid-day meal charges add up. Try bringing lunch from home at least once a week to help you add a little wiggle room to your budget. And you can still enjoy some social time with coworkers away from your desk by enjoying your lunch together in the break room.
8. Trashing parking tickets
You were only there for a minute, or that meter ran out before you could get back to your car — whatever the situation, you got a parking ticket. And you don’t want to pay. But, if you choose to do that, you could ultimately end up paying more down the road, thanks to it ending up in collections.
And if you get the ticket in someone else’s vehicle (think teens driving Mom or Dad’s car) and toss the ticket, it could be damaging to the car owner’s credit. They may not even know about it until they review their credit reports and see this negative item is bringing down their scores, as it was sent to collections.
9. Going over your data allowance
If you’re going over your cellphone’s data usage, you’re going to be paying some hefty overage fees. If this becomes a habit, you’ll see your bill climb each month. And, if it reaches a number you just can’t afford, you may be looking at stalled payments. While this may not be reported immediately to a credit bureau, if you continue to miss payments, you run the risk of not only having your service shut off, but having your bills sent to collections.
To help you avoid costly overage fees, consider connecting to free Wi-Fi hotspots whenever possible— just make sure the connection is secure to help protect yourself from the risk of identity theft.
10. Maxing out your credit card
Your debt usage makes up a large percentage of your credit scores and experts recommend keeping the amount of debt you owe below at least 30%, ideally 10% of your available credit. Think of it like this: You may have a $1,000 limit, but that doesn’t mean you should spend $1,000 each month, especially if you don’t have the cash to pay off those charges in full come statement time.
11. Your online shopping addiction
Some sites make it easy to get everything, from winter boots to items for your pantry, with just a few clicks and a charge to your credit card. And with that big of a selection, you’re sure to find items you never knew existed, but now that you do you just can’t live without them. But all this shopping can hurt your credit, as you run the risk of maxing out your card, which affects your debt usage — a big influencer of your credit scores.
More from Credit.com:
- What’s a Good Credit Score?
- Does Credit Repair Actually Work?
- 5 Tips for Consolidating Credit Card Debt
This article originally appeared on Credit.com.