When I was married, I had the car (the car loan), the house payment (the mortgage), and the credit cards. We spent all we made, and put a lot of things we needed on credit. So much so that even though we were making close to $80k together, we were living paycheck to paycheck (in 1996).
After the marriage fell apart, I really stopped caring about ever having credit again. If I got a medical bill that I didn’t feel like paying, I didn’t. I felt like I was never going to buy another house, so what was the point? I didn’t (and still don’t) ever want another car payment. I had a bad taste in my mouth from years of living paycheck to paycheck. So my debts grew here and there, due to petty co-pays or old cable bills. I never wanted to be on that credit merry-go-round again.
And I still don’t plan on it. But I healed my life, and found love again. We’re no longer together, but my ex-partner really did inspire me in a lot of ways to heal and repair different parts of my life. Healing my bad credit was one of those parts. Repairing my credit isn’t going to happen overnight, but I’m getting there:
I’m up almost 70 points (via TransUnion) in a little over a year. I started out with a PNC secure credit card (PNC is my oldest bank account). They don’t even offer it on the PNC website, so I had to go into the closest branch and apply inside the bank. Basically I saved up $300 dollars and went in and got a credit card with a $300 dollar limit that was secured with my own money. With the PNC card, I used it for things I already planned on purchasing and I always pay if off at the end of the month.
The next stop in my credit repairing journey was Fingerhut. A lot of people will complain that their products are overpriced (a brand new Samsung Galaxy Note 3 is over twice the retail price) and that they sell cheap items. I was looking for a couple air purifiers at my local Bed Bath and Beyond (BB&B) store, but decided to buy them with Fingerhut instead. They were priced (when shipping was included) about $30 over what I would have bought them for in BB&B, but I’m trying to repair my credit. Repairing your credit doesn’t happen overnight. You’re not going to get the best items at the cheapest prices. I don’t buy mobile phones from them, and I don’t buy things there that I didn’t plan on purchasing anyway. The initial payment was $33 dollars a month, but I paid this amount every Friday.
I’ve been reading a lot of bad things about “sub-prime lenders”:
“These people are addicted to credit, and banks are pushing it,” said Charles Juntikka, a bankruptcy lawyer in Manhattan.”
One of these lenders issued me my first unsecured card, and they did take a chance with me. But I’m not addicted to credit, and I’m not some undisciplined child. If someone is “addicted” to food, you don’t blame chefs or grocery stores. If you’re addicted, you get treatment. You learn. You grow. You repair.
For me, things are getting better. I’m slowly paying all my debts off. I’m almost debt free. I don’t buy on credit what I couldn’t afford with my debit card. I pay my balances off at the end of the month, on time. There are no easy answers. No easy fixes. My big secret is just time, disciplined spending habits, and consistent payments.
I think this repair has taught me a lot about life in general. There’s generally no quick fix in life, but you can fix things over time if you’re consistent.