By Nozizwe Fakude, Head of Consumer Insights at DirectAxis

There’s a lot to think about when you start your first job, from performing well in an environment that’s new and unfamiliar to the complexities of the work you’re assigned.

Unsurprisingly, your credit score may be the last thing on your mind.

By the time your pay cheque lands in your bank account, you’re probably more concerned with paying the rent, getting some new clothes, celebrating making it through the month or working out how soon you can buy a car.

Nozizwe Fakude, head of consumer insights at specialist loans provider, DirectAxis, says that what you do with your first salary payment is important, as the spending habits you develop at the outset can have long-term implications for your financial future.

“Usually your financial track-record begins when you start earning a regular income. This will open doors to financial products including credit cards, retail accounts and loans. How you choose to use and repay these as well as meet your other financial obligations such as rent, or a cell phone contract, will determine your credit score.

“It is one of the most important pieces of financial information about you. It determines whether people or companies are prepared to do business with you. Even prospective future employers can request to see your credit report.”

Besides the obvious benefits of being able to qualify for loans, car finance and other credit facilities, a good credit score can also allow you to get better interest rates, because you are considered to be less of a risk than people who have a lower score.

By law, you are entitled to one free credit score report annually from any of the credit bureaus. Most people aren’t aware of their rights or don’t know where they can apply so never check their score. For the few who do, the free credit report can be difficult to understand.

Fortunately, there are other ways to check your credit rating that are free, simple to access and understand and allow you to check as often as you like. One of these is DirectAxis Pulse.

It allows you to check your credit profile and importantly also provides simple explanations about what is influencing your rating and how to improve it.

“Having an understanding what affects your credit score and the implications of this, such as access to financial services or better interest rates gives you some control over your financial future. It also makes you less susceptible to believing conspiracies such as ‘blacklisting’. People don’t get ‘blacklisted’; rather low credit scores prevent them from qualifying for certain products and services,” explains Nozizwe.

Contrary to what some people think, checking your credit rating using a tool such as Pulse doesn’t affect your score at the credit bureaus.

In fact, besides learning more about the things that influence your score such as paying your accounts on time and reasonably managing your debt, you can pick up any sudden changes. These may be a mistake by the credit bureau or the result of fraudulent activity such as identity theft, where people open accounts or take out loans using your name and ID number. Either way, picking up the problem early will allow you to respond quickly and protect your financial reputation.

“Before you binge on your first pay cheque, take a moment to find out a bit about your credit score and how establishing a sound financial track record may benefit you in future.”

Submitted by Meropa