|CHARGE IT! Two Words a Stylist CANNOT Live Without.||ICON_SEP Print ICON_SEP|
TWO WORDS A FASHION STYLIST CANNOT LIVE WITHOUT
Art and business traditionally do not make good bedfellows. But if you're an artist and you want to be successful, you're going to have to pay attention to the business side of things. So save that creative flow bullshit for your late night conversations at the coffee house. Let's talk about two words that commonly evade freelance artists: GOOD CREDIT. Those two words can make or break you on a job.
To establish yourself as a reputable fashion stylist, first you have to be good at what you do and then you must maintain good credit. You need access to stores. You will not be able to pull thousands of dollars worth of clothes from most stores without your own credit card! It is not uncommon to pull $15,000 worth of clothes out of one store for a shoot.
What about traveling for a job? Many times you will do the job first and get reimbursed for expenses later. Airline tickets, hotels, car rental, and last minute shopping require credit or a load of cash.
If you are only able to work on jobs where everything is provided or paid for up front, you may miss out on opportunities. Opportunities that another stylist (with some financial discipline and resources) will swoop away from you faster than you can say “American Express”.
If you're brand new to the credit world or are now working steadily but paying the price for your frivolous years with a less than perfect rating, there are things you can do to establish new (i.e. good) credit. A secured credit card works like a savings account. Whatever you’re willing to deposit with a bank ranging in amounts from $500-$5,000 equals your credit limit. For example, you deposit $1,500 and you can charge $1,500.
In some cases your credit limit may be worth a little more or a little less than what you put in. If the bank determines that you are an extra risk, the $1,500 you deposit may be worth only $1,125. The extra $375 may be held as insurance against you going over your limit.
However, if you have no credit at all and are just establishing yourself, they may decide (based on various factors) to give you 50% more credit than you have on deposit, and your $1,500 will have the spending power of $2,250. Of course you can't withdraw the money as long as you have the credit card, and the interest rate is often close to 22%; but some banks will allow you to convert it to a regular (unsecured) credit card after several months to a year if you use it responsibly.
Secured Credit Here are two you might want to try:
Capital One (800) 955-7070 • Capital One
Citibank (800) 950-5118 • Citibank
Call each of them for more information. And don’t leave out your local banks, many of them offer secured credit cards. **For ratings on the best and the worst credit card companies, visit Consumer Action.
If you have less than perfect credit, don't despair, with a little patience and a few hours of your time, you can take control of your finances.
Invest in a book on credit repair. Credit Repair, by Robin Leonard is one of the best books out there. It contains helpful suggestions including how to get out of debt, establishing good credit, and carries all the forms you’ll need in the back of the book. There is even information on working with the IRS to secure a settlement and payment plan. Other popular books include:
Can't make it to the bookstore? Check out their web site at NOLO. The site contains a lot of articles on consumer law, debts, and credit.
If you have done the best you can on your own and still need assistance, stay away from credit repair companies that promise to fix your credit for a fee. Instead, contact the Consumer Credit
Counseling Service (CCCS). They are a non-profit agency that assists consumers who want to settle their debts. They will help you contact creditors, prepare a settlement offer or set up a payment plan to satisfy and get your debt under control. A CCCS counselor can often get wage garnishments revoked and interest and late charges dropped. All of their services cost under $20.00 and they will even waive the fee if you can't afford it. They have 1100 offices nationwide. To find one in your area call: 800-388-2227.
The Ultimate Credit Handbook, by Gerri Detweiler; Credit: The Cutting Edge, by Scott French; The Wall Street Journal’s Guide To Understanding Personal Finance, by Kenneth Morris; and Stand Up To The IRS, by Frederick Daily.