Got Credit? I do, and it used to suck…

profilepic It was spring 2003, I was 22 years old, self-employed as a web developer, and had just gotten married to my beautiful wife of over 10 years now… but my credit score was, well, pretty evil – 666. I had tens of thousands of dollars in credit card debt, my transportation was a 1988 Oldsmobile Toronado, which I will just say had “high miles” (and I’m not talking about MPG). I had 2 credit cards which were both maxed out with outrageously high interest rates (about 28%). Because of those high interest rates, I could basically only afford to pay the interest on the balances, which meant I was making no headway at all on paying them down.

Someone told me to get a low APR credit card and transfer my balances over to one or more of those cards, which would help me pay them down quicker. So I tried applying for various low APR and 0% APR cards, but my credit score was too low, my applications for those cards were all rejected. I was also turned down for multiple auto loans – basically I was going nowhere fast… I needed a better car, and like everyone else I had dreams of owning my own home and starting a family, but with my “devil” of a credit score, I was nowhere near being able to do those things. I had to do something, and quick!

Hey, at least I know my wife didn’t marry me for my money, and awesome credit score, right? 🙂

Time for a change – my quest to 777

It was that spring in 2003 when I finally resolved to make a change. I made it my mission in life to learn everything I could about credit scores and the best credit management tactics to maximize my credit score. It took time, but I learned a lot, and became what I like to call an “informed creditee” (or an informed borrower, but I think “creditee” sounds way better).

My goal? To take my 666 and change it to a 777, I thought that specific number was very fitting, funny and ironic all at the same time.

I started organizing my time more efficiently so I could be more successful in my work, and at the same time made a plan where I could pay off my credit card debt in about 2 years, even without a low APR card to transfer the balance to. I won’t go into the full details here, but the plan worked better than expected and I was able to completely pay off my CC debt in about 1 year, which felt awesome.

Hitting the lucky 777

With the CC debt paid off, and employing other important aspects of good credit management which I had just recently become aware of, I did reach my credit score goal about a year after I started, which would’ve been in the spring of 2004.

Believe it or not, I actually hit the 777 credit score right on the nose on at least one occasion. But as I’m sure you know, credit scores change constantly, so I didn’t keep that exact score for very long, but it was pretty sweet when it actually happened.

The important part was I actually achieved the goal I set, and actually surpassed it! All in just under 1 year.

Life after 777

Let me tell you, it is great having excellent credit! I was able to buy a nice (almost new) used car and the same year I was able to purchase our first home (April 2004). And yes, we did start a family that year too, by having our first child in August, 2004 (we now have 3 – 2 boys and 1 girl).

We’ve purchased and traded several different vehicles since then, some new, most of them slightly used. I’m always able to get the best interest rates on loans now, so even when I have bought new – I’m always able to take advantage of those 0% or 0.9% auto loan offers.

I do enjoy the value of used cars though, I can save thousands off the new price that way, and for me that’s a big plus, because as Mr. Krabs would say “I like money”.

To this day I am usually able to maintain at least a 777 credit score, typically higher these days since I have more of an established credit history. In recent years we sold our first home, and bought what we described at the time as our “dream home” – but who knows, that “dream” may get bigger some day! But for now, we are very happy with our new digs.

What’s the purpose of this site?

My goal with this site is to teach others what I’ve learned throughout all these years about which credit monitoring services are worth their weight in gold, and which ones not to touch with a 10 foot pole! There are countless sites offering “free credit scores” out there, and many of them are just rebranded, overpriced services designed to take your hard earned money, and give little in return. I want to help others avoid the bad sites and find the good ones.

I’m no expert

I’m not a professional financial advisor and I’m not a credit repair expert, I’m just a determined individual who loves learning, improving things, and I want to share my story about how I improved my credit score and what services I use to monitor my credit.

So that’s my story, and this is where I write about what I have learned, and what I continue to learn about various credit related topics today. Thanks for taking the time to read my story, hopefully my experience can help you in your quest to 777 and beyond.

If you’re on a similar quest today, or plan to be soon, good luck my friend!

-Jake Rustenhoven
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