Medical Practice Management, Physician Financial Management Services
May 01

Physicians: review your credit card debt!

One of my professional objectives when working with physicians is to make sure their personal finances are attended to just as much as their practice finances are. The two do go hand-in-hand. Why work so hard and end up screwing up the personal financial side – doesn’t make too much sense does it?

I ran across the following article from the MDTaxes newsletter (www.mdtaxes.com) that discusses credit card debt; the title of the article is called “Spring Cleaning”:

Spring is traditionally a time to clean up your yard upon the completion of another winter.  While you’re in the cleaning mood, why not take a few steps to clean up your personal credit as well.

Review and Revise

May is a great month to take a step back and review your outstanding credit card debt.  That’s because the summer spending season is still more than one month away, and you have more than a half a year before you will even commence your shopping for the 2007 holidays (unless you’re really a Type A holiday shopper).

Start by taking an inventory of what you currently owe on each of your credit cards.  Then, take a few minutes to reset how much you plan to pay towards your credit card debt each month for the remainder of the year. 

Need help crunching these numbers? Downloading our (Microsoft Excel) debt/savings calculator should save you a lot of time with this step.

Order Your Free Credit Report

Currently, three companies, Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion, track everyone’s credit histories.  Don’t forget that banks, lenders, retailers, landlords, and other “credit grantors” use credit reports generated by these companies to determine your creditworthiness.

Your credit report reflects quite a bit of information about you and your financial affairs. 

  • The bulk of your credit report focuses on your various loans and credit card accounts. Included is the name of each of your creditors, as well as the type of account, the minimum monthly payment, the account’s limit or high balance, and the current outstanding balance.
  • Your credit report also reflects the most recent twenty-four month payment history for each creditor, showing whether each month’s payments were current, delinquent, or in default.
  • Another section on your credit report details inquiries that were made by potential creditors.  In this section, the name of the creditor and the date of inquiry are listed for each request that has been made.
  • Your credit report also includes “public records” such as tax liens, bankruptcies, and judgments made against you.  Most public records remain part of your credit history for seven to ten years.  If you have any tax liens, they won’t be removed from your credit report until they are paid off.

The best way to find out how your credit report looks is to order one.  You’re now allowed to order three free credit reports per year – one from each credit bureau – through annualcreditreport.com

How’s Your FICO?

Your FICO score is a number that quantifies your creditworthiness.  The higher your FICO, the more attractive you’ll be in the eyes of lenders, retailers, landlords, and other credit grantors. 

According to our friends at www.myFICO.com, the FICO score for most people is calculated as the weighted average of these five attributes: payment history (35%), amounts owed (30%), length of credit history (15%), new credit (10%), and types of credit used (10%).

To find out your FICO score, as well as suggestions on ways to improve your FICO score, visit myFICO.com

About Reed Tinsley, CPA

As a top advisor to physicians, I help increase practice profits by delivering hands-on, expert medical accounting/tax support, practice counsel, and revenue-building strategies. Read more →