Raise your hand if you’ve ever felt personally victimized by your credit score. 🙋♀️
Me too. I’m the kind of person who ruminates over past mistakes, feels devastated by slight inconveniences, cries in front of the mirror.
In the continued spirit of self-indulgence, I’m going to tell you about a time my (nonexistent) credit score screwed me out of a big chunk of money.
Not me having a crisis
A few years ago my car broke down in the middle of an intersection and just … died. RIP Big Bertha. The car had been in my family for years so it wasn’t entirely surprising but still.
I was suddenly car-less. And at that time I didn’t have a solid savings, so my best option was to get a loan.
When I went to my bank to apply for one, I got turned down in less than five minutes. The loan officer said I didn’t qualify because I didn’t have credit and was considered a “thin file.”
Awful right? Between that and Target discontinuing my favorite candle, 24 year old me was crestfallen.
Having a thin file basically means you don’t have enough experience with credit to have a credit score. At this point you’re probably wondering, “Wait, how am I supposed to build credit if my bank won’t give me a loan because I don’t have credit?” Yeah, it’s dumb. This is a catch-22 most young people fall into whenever they apply for a mortgage, car loan, etc.
Not me realizing I needed to build my credit
Building credit was not in my purview. Actually, I had always been taught to avoid credit cards/loans at all costs (dad’s a Dave Ramsey disciple).
I had no choice but to take my pennies to a Coinstar each week and rely on other people to drive me around until I saved enough money (~$3,000) to buy a short-term hooptie. It sucked. But eventually I found my temporary rebound car.
The car held me over for about a year, which ✨positive me✨ is thankful for but 💤practical me💤 still fumes over. I realize now that I essentially threw away $3,000 dollars all because I didn’t take the time to educate myself about credit until it was too late.
If I had started working on my credit earlier, I may have gotten approved for a loan and been able to use that $3,000 dollars as a down payment on a reliable car. Which would have saved me more money in the long run since a down payment can seriously bring down your monthly payment and overall interest costs.
Not me learning and growing (my credit)
It was a main character moment I could have done without, but it all happened for a reason — so I could write this blog and not get fired for missing yet another deadline.
After that incident, I got a secured card to help me work on my credit, which was perfect for me because I didn’t have to go through a credit check to get approved.
Once I signed up and got approved, I used $300 of my own money as my security deposit (which became my credit limit). Then I used the card for groceries/gas/coffee, paid my balance each month and watched my credit climb little by little. Like magic, I started to build credit. 🪄
Now it’s five years later and I’m still directionless. But I have since been approved for loans (car included) and my credit score couldn’t be less bothered.
NOT YOU LEARNING FROM MY MISTAKES AND BUILDING CREDIT ON YOUR OWN
If you’re in a similar position or just starting out, a secured credit card is the way to go. Why? Bc a secured card may not require a credit check and you could get approved regardless of your credit history. And there’s very little chance of going into debt since you use your own funds as a security deposit.
It just so happens that the ✨Cleo Builder subscription✨ may be able to help you with your credit. Joke’s on you if you thought I was going to end this without plugging the Cleo Builder subscription.
The Builder subscription allows you to apply for a secured card that could help you build credit, plus:
💸 a cash advance of up to $100
💲 cashback on some of the stuff you buy
📈 your credit score and history
✨ Bonus content ✨
Jet to the app and type ‘credit who’ to Cleo to learn more about your relationship with your credit score