DEAR READERS: Wondering how to clean up your credit, or thinking about giving some advice to a young person about responsible credit usage? What are the parameters lenders look at before issuing you credit? Let's take a look at what matters:
• Recent Credit, or applications for new credit. The fewer applications, the better.
• Credit Mix, or the types of credit you have. Can you balance your mortgage or rent payment with your revolving credit card payments? If you can, that's a plus.
• The Length of your Credit History, or how long you've been borrowing money. If you've managed credit payments well for a long time (several years), that's a good thing.
• Credit Usage, or credit utilization. This is a measure of how much credit you are using, versus the amount of credit you have available. Keep this number low -- below 30%.
• Payment History, or paying your bills on time. This is the most important factor lenders look at. After all, if they are lending you money, they want to be reasonably assured they will get repaid, and the only measure they have is your past performance.
These items, listed above from least important to most important, are the biggest determining factors in establishing your credit worthiness.
DEAR HELOISE: To save time on those automated phone systems, I remember to enter a 1 for yes and a 2 for no on the keypad. That way, I don't have to wait for the system to recognize my voice command.
-- Hillary T. in Illinois
DEAR READERS: In our ongoing battle against covid-19, we are finding more ways to be safe. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (www.CDC.gov) is recommending that when finding a seat on the airplane, you sit in either the window seat or the aisle seat. The CDC is advising that keeping the middle seat empty can reduce your risk of catching viruses, including the covid-19 virus. It can lower your risk by upward of 50% or more.
Most airlines do not have a policy blocking the middle seat from use. But we know the importance of physical distancing, and sitting apart from others is a good idea.
DEAR HELOISE: Instead of apologizing when someone asks me to do something and I don't want to do it or I can't, I say, "Thank you for thinking of me, but I'm not available."
I don't have to please everyone. That's a difficult lesson for women to learn, but it's necessary.
-- Meghan W. in Texas
DEAR HELOISE: Another way to ask for help (from May 11): Call 911 and talk to the operator as if you are ordering a pizza, but give your address immediately. The operator will ask you "yes/no" questions and get you help ASAP.
-- Gina S. in Pennsylvania
DEAR HELOISE: When I'm meeting someone for the first time, I use their name a lot! While not wanting it to sound weird, repeating someone's name is a good way to commit it to memory.
-- Julie W. in Texas
Send a money- or time-saving hint to Heloise, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, Texas 78279-5000; fax to (210) 435-6473; or email