I had bad credit once.
Someone used my name to open an utility account in San Francisco and decided to leave a $3 balance causing delinquency. I was not aware of it until I pull my annual FREE credit report and learned that I have an account in “collection.” I worked hard to remove that record, and tried to track down the collection agency to pay. But the negative record of “collection” was on my account for so long, that it really hurt my credit even after the account closed. I contacted the credit bureau to dispute the fact that this was not my account. I never could afford living in SF, the most I had done was volunteering there while attending college. I did not succeed in disputing this ridiculously trivial fraudulent activity, but I learned for the first time, how important it is to pay attention to my credit report.
“Attentiveness to my credit” was the most valuable financial lesson I could have learned at age 22.
So I continue to watch my credit, checking it quarterly.
In 2008, I was a 23 year-old mother with a 1 year old daughter and needed a car to work and care for her. My credit was still sub-optimal then, so my car loan for a used vehicle was 7.99%. This was the highest interest I have ever paid in my life, and I would never do it again. The 72 month long car payment @ 7.99% taught me the second most valuable lesson about my credit/net worth.
“Interest kills; high interest condemns people to financial hell.”
So I worked hard, and started managing my first debt ACTIVELY by utilizing my then (albeit small) credit limit and taking advantage of any credit card deal cheaper than the 7.99% interest rate from the auto loan. When I able to pay off my car in 24 months instead of 72, I felt so happy to be free from the unrelenting clutches of the 7.99% interest rate.
That’s how it all started.
I have since enjoyed my “catch me if you can” race with creditors who fundamentally profit off of trapping debtors with interests. My creditors include credit card companies, mortgage note holder, department of education (for my medical school student loan).
I abhor interest.
Interest does nothing but undermines my effort to reduce debt and grow positive net worth.
In my quest to dodge interest, an incredible added and initially unintentional benefit was that I exercised and stretched my credit, and it grew pretty robust over a few years
I had very small amount of credit once.
But I now enjoy the privilege of great credit ceiling relative to my income, which I leverage cautiously (The entire credit card balance I now carry is @ 0% interest.)
My credit limit is dis-proportionally large for my income because I EXERCISE my credit and it simply grows.
The next post will expound on how I did this, I promise 🙂