A bad credit score can be bad for your health
Your credit score is a three-digit number that has serious financial implications – and, it turns out, possibly life-changing consequences, too.
A low score could disqualify you from the best credit cards, prevent you from getting a mortgage, and even harm your chances of finding a job.
But your credit score doesn’t just impact your financial health – according to one study published by the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, your score also affects your physical health.
Economists from the University of Colorado and the Fed have examined the effects of delinquent debt and solvency on mortality.
Here’s what they found and what it could mean for you as the United States goes through tough economic times due to the pandemic.
Bad credit can be dangerous for your health
The study analyzed data between 2011 and 2016 for Americans aged 25 or older in 2005 and still alive in Q4 2010, after the Great Recession.
The results revealed that people with good credit and low debt had a lower risk of death than those with increased creditworthiness and delinquent debt.
In fact, the researchers found that when an individual’s credit score improved by 100 points in the previous quarter, their mortality risk for the following quarter decreased by. more than 4%.
On the other hand, go from having no significant debts to one or more seriously overdue accounts. increases the risk of death of about 5%.
Short-term shock may be worse for you than prolonged debt
The study also found that bad credit and serious delinquencies on debt are more dangerous in the short term than over longer periods.
As the authors point out, high debt can lead to high stress levels and harmful stress-related behaviors that can have immediate health effects, such as substance use and unhealthy eating.
Additionally, financial uncertainty can lead to decreased health care utilization and failure to follow medical treatment plans.
However, the researchers found that “if one survives the short-term impact of delinquency, the probability of dying in the same trimester decreases.”
What these results mean to you
With the coronavirus pandemic still ongoing, millions of Americans have had to go into debt during the lockdown to get by.
The results of this study show that an individual’s credit rating and level of debt can have serious consequences for their physical health and underscore the need for governments to step up their policies in times of economic uncertainty.
As the study authors write in their conclusion, “financial policies are health policies” and “policies aimed at improving individual financial solvency may have the additional benefit of promoting health”.
And it appears that the financial back-up plan adopted in the first wave of the pandemic had a positive impact on credit scores – in July, the average FICO score in the United States. reached a record 711.
However, not everyone’s credit score rose during the lockdown. If you’re still struggling with bad credit, here are some tips to reverse your score.
What to do if your credit score is low
If your credit score is lower than you would like, don’t panic – there are several steps you can take to help get it back on track.
Use a credit monitoring service. There are free credit monitoring services available online that will allow you to check your score whenever you want and give you personalized advice on how to improve it. Signing up only takes a few minutes and tracking your credit can help you boost your score by hundreds of points.
Consolidate your debt. If you have multiple high interest credit cards on the go, consolidate them with a personal loan can help you lower your monthly payment and pay off debt sooner, which will positively impact your credit score.
Look for errors on your report. It is possible that your poor credit rating is the result of a mistake. According to the Federal Trade Commission, one in four consumers have found errors on their credit report that could affect their score. There are steps you can take and some free credit monitoring services it can help you solve the problem ASAP.
Refinance your student loans. If your outstanding student loan is lowering your credit rating, you may want to consider refinancing your student loans at a lower rate. While you usually need a decent score to get the best rates, there are free online services which can help you find the best loan terms available for your current score in just a few minutes.