Falsely Believing in the Almighty FICO Score
When I was 16, all I wanted was a car. New, old, didn’t matter. As long as it got me to school. I was tired of that walk. Plus I felt like I was the only high schooler over 16 who didn’t have one. (how typical even today).
Most of my life, my mom was a single mom barely making ends meet. No matter how intellectually I knew that the day of my 16th birthday there would be no new car with a big red bow on top sitting in the driveway, I still dreamed it would. Then the big day arrived, butterflies in my stomach, I peeked outside and yep… no car. 😦
I was working at the time so I saved up my money and asked if my mom could at least co-sign for a car. She told me she didn’t think she could but she would try. After a trip to the dealer, I learned my first lesson on the Almighty FICO score. My mom’s credit wasn’t good enough. I had no credit and she had terrible credit. Therefore… no car for me once again.
I was so sad, so dejected that day that I swore from that day forward I would always have perfect credit. I was never going to be turned down again – at least not due to my FICO score.
Flash forward 30 years. I purchased many things. Many homes on and off and many cars. Like most people, I love a new car and every year traded it in. But that is another post for a different day on my “stupid” tax I kept paying through the years.
Even with all my purchases, I only had one late (30 days) payment in all those years. Yep just one. Even with piles of bills, I only had one ding to my credit and I still blame that on the company that sold the loan and didn’t get me the information.
That was until last year….
When faced with growing debt, no income coming in and draining my safety net at an alarmingly quick rate, I still paid my bills and paid them on time. I sank fast. Worshiping that FICO score was costing me everything.
Several months ago I had to make the tough decision to purposely not pay on time. For months I agonized. I was sick to my stomach. I wanted to puke.
For the first time, I realized I was putting at risk any chance I had to buy whatever I wanted as long as I had the money for the payments. I could always get a car, a house, furniture, tools, etc. Now I was risking all of that.
OR WAS I?
You see, after listening to Dave Ramsey everyday for my inspiration and my motivation, I realized I was so focused on that FICO score, I had woken up and lost all my life savings. And for what? A credit score I was barely holding onto? A Credit score that would not pay my bills once that money ran out officially? I was so stupid.
Through hours of listening to Dave and his callers I realized that an amazing thing can happen. You can buy a house, car, furniture, tools, toys etc with…… wait for it…
Oh my. My life wasn’t over, I would purchase again. Just not today with instant gratification. I would have to plan out my purchases and make sure I had the money. An amazing thing happens when you pay cash. That $100 item costs $100 (sometimes even $95) and not $120 by the time you pay it off.
While I do not advocate not paying your bills. Far from it. I do advocate stop worshiping a score that will not love you back.
I will pay off everything I owe one way or another. I still have the same values I held so dear since I was younger. I just realize now that my goal is to focus on paying what I owe, buying what I can afford and reaching out to others to share the lessons I’ve learned.
We are not defined by this….
No, we are defined by doing the right thing. Doing right by our family. This mess I got into wasn’t FICO’s fault. I do not blame it. I blame me for the choice I made to think that being in debt up to my eyeballs was a smart thing to do.
So my question to you is… What silly or stupid things have you done in an effort to keep that high score that everyone tells you is so important in your life? Have you done stupid with zero’s on it like me?
Ironic..I did finally get a car at 16. A beater that barely moved for $800. It lasted a couple of years with a lot of TLC. Turns out the universe was trying to teach me this lesson years ago, I just didn’t listen.