“IF YOU SCREWED UP YOUR CREDIT SCORE MEN WITH GUNS WILL CHASE YOU FROM YOUR HOME AND MAKE YOU EAT DIRTY SOCKS FOR LIFE!!!! LET US REPAIR YOUR CREDIT OR YOU WILL DIE OF POLIO!!” – credit repair commercials, usually
Hi! My name is Liz, and until two years ago I had never checked my credit score.
Because ignorance is bliss! By bliss, of course, I mean getting sweaty palms and racing heart every time I thought about having to buy a house or a car in the future because I was absolutely certain I had ruined my life forever by paying my cell phone bill late once when I was 17.
Spoiler alert: I hadn’t. I have a car and am looking at houses I will get approved for. I’m fine, and you will be too.
Your credit score, like your weight, is an intimidating number that does determine a few things in your life, but neither defines you as a person, and it is well within your power to change both for the better in a surprisingly short amount of time. You need to know that whatever the number is when you open your credit report, it’s simply a reflection of where you are now, and not at all a life sentence to crappy houses and dirty sock eating.
Put very simply, your credit score is a number that reflects your history of borrowing and repaying money on things like credit card bills and medical debt. Your score will range between 300-850, with 300 being ‘needs a lot of improvement’ and 850 being ‘you are Bill Gates.’ This number is a simple way for lenders to determine how likely you are to do things like pay your mortgage on time and responsible handle a credit card!
There are three major credit reporting bureaus: Equifax, Experian, and Transunion. Each of them is legally required to send you one absolutely free credit report per 12 month period, so there are two general strategies people use when ordering reports. Strategy one is to order all three at once and compare them to check for inconistincies, and strategy two is to order a different one every four months for more frequent credit monitoring.
If you’ve never ordered a credit report, I want you to not worry about either of those strategies. What I want you to do is pick the name if the credit union that you think sounds coolest, and to go to the link I’ve provided for you below to order your 100% free credit report:
I’d like to emphasize that I haven’t been paid to link those and I make no money off this – they’re free. I just think it’s great that you’re here and that you’re learning more about money, and I want to make it as easy and painless as possible.
So go ahead! Get that number, and leave a comment if you have any credit score specific questions. Just remember that if the number you get isn’t perfect, that’s ok and there’s a lot you can do to fix it. Facing your credit score isn’t easy, and I’m proud of you for getting started.