Sunday, July 13, 2008

A Credit Report

The U of U sent me a letter, and my medical records were stolen, or something, so now my social security is roaming the world at large, waiting to be stolen. Very comforting. But to make me feel better, they gave me free subscription to some consumer credit report company online and $25,000 insurance in case someone goes hog wild on my accounts. My sister says she's gotten the same letter before (which makes me wonder how secure the U is...), and nothing happened to her info, so let's all pray it will be the same in my case.

Anyhow, I signed up (or rather, Avram signed up on my behalf, because he's nice like that), and it turns out I have a credit score which the website rated as excellent (I actually had the real score on here, but then Avram was worried that I shouldn't put such potentially stealable information on the Internet, so I didn't. If you're really curious, email me).

I must say, I was very pleasantly surprised, because I've kind of never had a credit card. I'd like to be able to say that I've never had one, but when I was going to Egypt on a study abroad my Mother was worried that I would be stuck in a horrible situation and need some quick access to money, and so got me a subsidary card to her and Don's (my step-dad) account. I used it once, to buy my plane tickets, and then I immediately paid her back. But because of that card, that credit card technically shows up on my credit history. Which would be really bad, but then a couple of years later Don's dad died, they inherited his insurance stuff, paid off all of their debt, and closed the account. So now it looks like I paid off a bunch of debt.

Good, I guess.

Regardless, except for that long dead account, my life is credit-card-less, because I don't believe in them. It's true, I really don't. I always hear financial advice like, “Get a credit card, but then pay off the balance every month, because you need one for good credit.” Except for that every single person I've ever known in my entire life who has had a credit card has not managed to completely follow that advice; at some point they carried over a balance, accrued interest, and it was all downhill from there. I've also heard that you should have a credit card “just in case,” but I don't believe in that, either. For one thing, since Avram's in school still, if we were really randomly desperate, we would get a student loan instead, because it's the friendliest kind of debt there is. Which is still pretty ugly when it comes time to pay off.... And once he's out of school, I'm going to do what Ramsey suggests, and keep my own emergency money fund, instead of depending on a credit card to do it for me. And I can use my debit card for anything else a credit card can do.

Besides, should we really be taking financial advice about the necessity of credit card debt from credit card companies? I mean, I really don't think that they have our best interests at heart, you know?

And even credit card-less my credit score makes the cut for the lowest amount of interest rate for a mortgage. Although we're still not going to buy a house, (sniff, sniff), because we don't have the extra money for things like house repairs, or lawn mowers, and things like that.

I wish I could say that I was completely out of debt, but I can't. So I won't. But I really believe in no debt. I've heard really good things about Dave Ramsey's financial beliefs/system/thingy – for one thing, he thinks you should get rid of your credit cards too. (I'm mentioning him to show that some real financial people think the same way that I do). And hey, I'm proof you can still have no current credit cards, or even any except for one long dead one (like three years gone), and still maintain good credit. In fact, you don't even need any money; I don't work, we have a lot of student loans, and we're dirt poor (for the time being; someday, when Avram's 85 he'll still be making a $100,000 a year while you're all on your deathbeds. At least, that's what I tell myself to make myself feel better about the whole “getting a Ph.d. until you're in your early thirties process.” Because Professors can basically teach until they fall over dead, because it's not a physically demanding profession. Unless they want to retire, of course.)

But I've never made a late payment on anything in my life. That's got to count for something.

So go ahead, rip up your credit cards today. Heck, quit your job, become a stay-at-home Mom. I'm telling you, it's the key to financial success. No, really. Except don't rip up your credit card payments; I'm pretty sure that's not the key to financial success.


  1. When I first was told that you had to have a credit card to "survive" in today's world, I was horrified. I was really, really mad.

    But despite that Samuel and I are still going to get a credit card, because it's a good way (of several ways, as you mention) to build credit. That is, as long as you don't spend more than you have.

    I think part of the reason is that my parents use credit cards constantly and have never been in debt with them. They're not rich by a long shot; they're just very wise credit card users. They literally use them for everything. So, as a result, credit cards aren't that scary to me now, and I'm not worried about getting in to debt, because I've seen my parents handle credit so easily, and they drilled into my head how to use them wisely all my life. I just *couldn't* go into debt. A credit card would be just like a debit card to me; you just plain don't spend the money if you don't have it in the bank. I like shopping and all, but not enough to go into debt. Another cool thing is that many credit cards will give you money for every dollar you spend, or airplane miles, etc. As long as you don't pay any interest, you can actually make money. My parents are really good at this.

    Anyway, I know you're a financially smart person, so I'm not trying to convince you or anything. This is just my experience with credit cards, and why I'm planning to get one, much as I hate the idea of credit and scores and all. Really the whole idea is just silly to me. I wish we could be homesteaders and build our own houses from nearby trees and everything, and hardly have anything to do with money. Sigh.

  2. Ha ha. I disagree with this post twice.

    First, I agree with Aleatha. Credit cards are very useful when you treat them like a debit card. Plus, you get to earn interest for a few more days than if you'd used a debit card. They also give you extra % back on the stuff you have to buy anyway -- especially big stuff, like home repairs and lawn mowers for example.

    Second, alas, although I know of professors who hang around forever, they have never been very good teachers. And this particular post on an email newsletter I subscribe to made me realize that my best professor days are limited.... At least I can still hope for tenure before I lose it all.... There's a happy thought for you. :-)


  3. Hi! I am Misty one of Amelia's friends and I was looking at some other blogs (She talks about her nieces and nephews and it is nice to put a name with the face :)) and thought that you might find this article helpful

  4. By the way, the U's records have been found.

  5. An interesting point about "excellent" credit scores versus the actual good it can do you--I have always had an excellent credit score, and I have had a credit card that I buy everything possible with (and pay off every month) since I was 18. However, When I was contacted by several different companies that I did business with (car insurance, and a couple others--very legitimately, I assure you) requesting that they could check my credit score because if it was good they could offer me lower rates, I allowed it, secure in the knowledge that I had Excellent credit. However, none of them could offer me the lower rates because my credit history wasn't long enough (i.e. I hadn't been using a credit card for enough time). Even though it is not a negative that will affect your score, not having any record of consistently paying off "debt" (even if you always had the money all along) will negatively impact a company's willingness to extend credit to you.
    That said, I'm really not trying to convince you to get a credit card. If you don't want one, you can make your world work without one. I just wanted to bring up something it looked like you might not know. I love you!