I Confess! ($105,967)

I wasn’t always the responsible young lady (ha!) that I am today.  I was pretty good about paying my minimum on my credit cards in college, but my balances were damn near the top of my limit.  I always had a job–that’s one thing I’ve always been really good about.  i’d never leave even a part-time job without having something else lined up.  When my seasonal retail job didn’t get converted into a non-seasonal one in the winter of my freshman year of college I think I had a month or so when I was looking for a job to replace it.  I’ve never gone to the gym so much in my life!  So much free time when you don’t have an employer to visit!

I digress. Once I graduated college I got even more irresponsible.  It wasn’t just that I was at my credit limit.  I got a “real” job in October after graduation, and bought my new/used car in November.  My payments were over $400 a month, and if a given month was tough (because I spent too much), credit card payments were the ones taking the hit.  I’m sure Capital One wasn’t terribly upset.  I’m quite sure they were happy to charge me late fees and more interest!  I had one debt that got sold to a collector because I had the mindset of “if I ignore this, surely it will go away!” I continued with this irresponsibility for a while until my March 2007 bonus.  Don’t get me wrong, I spent a LOT of this irresponsibly (how can you give a 24 year old a bonus on or about St. Patrick’s Day? That’s just mean), but I also tracked down whomever owned this debt at the time and paid them off in full.  Maybe I could have negotiated to pay them less, given how much they probably paid for the debt, but I settled it cleanly credit report-wise.

Since around that same time I started to really get that credit reporting agencies keep track of my tardy payments and “wow, I just paid $49 or whatever in late fees” because I couldn’t be bothered to pay attention to when my bill was due.  My realization that my credit usage is also important didn’t come until the past two years.  Or maybe it did, but I didn’t really feel there was much I could do about it with my job situation.  Looking back I know I could have done more, including not spending more when granted magical credit line increases, but I can’t change past behavior. I can only change what I do now and look ahead.

Which brings me to my point.  Delinquency in credit card payments stays on your credit report for seven years.  That’s a long time to be punished for your mistakes.  I’m not trying to say it’s too long, or making any kind of qualitative judgment whatsoever here.  But when you’re trying to improve your behavior, yeah it sucks to see that your past behavior is still dragging you down.  But, alas! Hard work does pay off. There is still negative history on my report, but it’s been 76 months!  Over six years! I’m so close to seeing this completely drop off:

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The oldest credit report I have access to is from January 2012 (I’m pretty sure I had a subscription before that, probably in 2007 or so, but January 2012 is probably when I started my current subscription).  In said 2012 report, I was using 46% of my credit. Don’t go thinking I was all that responsible–almost all of my unused available credit was a CareCredit account from when I had Lasik.  Technically it’s revolving credit, but I didn’t have a physical card, and I think you can only use it for medical-type things.  Either way I saw it as essentially a closed installment loan.  I also had 3 accounts ever late, and was only a little over 4 years past my most recent tardiness.

Now I have less than 1% of my available credit utilized, with the balance paid off every month so I’m not paying interest. The only reason I use the cards at all is to show utilization to improve/not lower my credit score, and to earn rewards.  But I don’t ever use it when I don’t have the money to pay it off sitting in my bank account.  That one late account (and about 50 installment loans*) is the only red mark on my report.  And it will be gone in six short months!

(Not) Free Credit Report has a “Score Planner.”  I’m not positive on how accurate it is, but I guess we’ll see.  With no late accounts on there it estimates my score will improve 13 points and move me into the “very low risk” category.  Reducing the number of installment loans to a reasonable number will help a lot too, and my average age of accounts will only keep increasing over time.

Are you tired of reading my ramblings yet?  Now is the time for the moral of the story: it takes a damn long time to remove past indiscretions from your credit report, so it’s better not to make them.  But if you did make them, there’s no need to lose hope.  If you keep plugging away you will start to see improvement and light at the end of the credit score tunnel.

* Actually I have eight open installment loans, down from nine a couple months ago.  This is one of the reasons I’m working on paying off my smaller, lower-interest private undergraduate loans before my giant college loans.  Four of the remaining nine are all in one payment/servicer, two in another, and the last two with yet another.  It seems a lot like three loans instead of eight, but I’m actively working on reducing these, although I realize this will take quite some time.  If I kept at my current pace, all but two of these would be paid off by mid-2016, but I can’t keep my second job forever, and that will mean paying for a place to live. There will likely be a serious reduction in the snowball sometime next year, but I’m hoping I get a significant raise, and can work to offset it.

October Recap! ($105,805)

I’ve been blogging for like a month now.  Is that right?

October Recap

First, my Mint says that my net worth is in the ($104)s.  Sometimes my loan posts the payment before my checking account shows the money coming out, so it looks like I have more money than I do–in this case to the tune of my $975 payment.

Next things next: my spending for October.  This month includes a lot of money spent on personal care, including getting my hair did.  I also bought $30 worth of body wash (that I could only found online in a six-pack…so I won’t be needing to buy that again for another three years or so).  I also paid my bar dues. The “other” slice of the pie includes $100 in events for this month and October ($45 of which I better be getting a refund on), $35 in library late fees (since I did return my actual books on time, and I’m pretty much only borrowing Kindle books, I don’t expect to see another one of these any time soon), my $30 in freecreditreport and life insurance, $97 in phone bills, and about $40 in TV expenses (including two months of TiVo).

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Total auto expenses (gas, train pass, parking, and insurance) were $603 last month.  Hopefully October had more driving than November will, and gas prices will continue to go down (cross your fingers, toes and any other available appendages). The previous month was $737, but I think there’s even more room for improvement here.

I spent $392 on food!  Compared to $596 the previous month.  I think it’s probably actually a little more, if I were to properly categorize a few that Mint didn’t recognize, but that’s also probably true from September.  Either way–this is a SERIOUS improvement.

And now–the big daddy: $2,402 on student loans.  This included paying off Undergraduate Loan #1.  I definitely won’t match this figure in November, because I had an extra paycheck in October, but it should be at least $2,000 for the month.  My net worth has changed about $3,000 since a month ago.  It’s like I’ve spent more of my money on things that maintain my net worth (paying down loans), and less on throwaway meals.  Hooray!

Other Non-Recap Stuff!

I discovered a similar blog a little over a month ago, which is what got me going on blogging, and helped light a little bit of a fire under me saving/spending/debt-paying-wise.  This particular blog monitored her daily spending, and she also gave props to other bloggers that she was following.  I checked out a bunch of them and, unfortunately (for me) most of them weren’t really blogging anymore. I think for many of them it was because they had met their debt-paying goals (super awesome for them!).

I have since found a bunch of other blogs through just searching through wordpress, many of which I’ve started following (and poring through archives).  A lot of them I feel like I’m learning from, especially where I think the people are in similar situations as me.  I can’t really get behind a blog where the writer says “I’m $50,000 in debt…I used $40,000 in savings, and sold off my three extra cars and now I’m freeee!”  Awesome for them, but some of us don’t have extra cars or five figures in savings.  But for all of those who are slowing chipping away using only your salary and expense-cutting, keep on doing what you’re doing and blogging about your successes and setbacks–it’s helpful to know that there are others in the same boat as me.

Ugh! ($108,204) (not completely updated)

Went to see my primary care physician this morning.  Got some shots.  Sadly she couldn’t do what I wanted (nothing major, just looking to get a birthmark thing removed, not because I’m concerned about it being something, but because it snags against my clothes and hurts), so I have to go back next week.  The good news is my appointment is a little earlier in the morning, so I shouldn’t have transportation problems.

Today, however, was a different story.  Stopped to get gas.  Thought I was at a SmartPay station, and would save 10 cents a gallon, but realized it wasn’t, so only put in $10.  Drove to a farther train station, because trains ran more there midday.  I’m pretty sure I paid $7 for parking (through my EZ-Pass, which has had $30 on it forever, so I’m not too crushed about this).  Pull in, take my sweet time, don’t know what time it is.  Get to about where the trains are, and see one pulling away.  Damn! But there’s probably another one in like 20-30 minutes.  Wrong. The next one is in an hour, and I would like to get to work at some point today.  The really unfortunate thing is that I easily could have made this train, if I had realized what time it was, and that the trains were getting further and further apart as it got this late.  

Try to go to a subway station with parking.  Get off the exit, follow all the signs…Garage Full.  But this isn’t obvious, so I was about ten minutes trying to establish this.  Resign myself to driving into Boston, and parking at the lovely underground heated garage, and am greatly chagrined at the posted cost. 

So I leave work around 6 (hey at least I stayed 45 minutes later), and go to the garage to get my car and pay.  My firstborn wouldn’t fit in the slot, so instead I was forced to give them $35.  What a waste of money!

 

p.s.  That part in Big Daddy, where Adam Sandler mentions rum to Frankenstein’s friend, and the friend is all “Rumplestiltskin?” and Sandler replies “Rumplestiltskin’s a good man…”  Umm no he certainly is not.