I have a confession...I'm sure you've already guessed what it is...you know...from the title. Seven years ago I filed bankruptcy. I am telling you this because it is one of my LIFE LIST goals to have a perfect credit score one day. My bankruptcy finally reaching the end of its sentence served is a major step towards improving my credit score. Since this is such a depressing, Debbie Downer post I will try to fill it with light hearted quotes and pictures of overweight cats, because obese cats seem to make things seem less serious. Filing bankruptcy happened a few short months after I got married, I filed single, it had nothing to with my husband and it was all my own personal debt. The amount taken to court was over $30,000. I was so ashamed. I wish I could say that I regret it but at that time I had no other option. I don't really have the luxury to regret it.
"Bankruptcy stared me in the face, but one thought kept me calm;
soon I’d be too poor to need an anti-theft alarm"
I did have a lot of credit card debt...maybe $10,000 but it was not a problem. I made my payments every month, I used my cards a lot but I would make giant payments- regularly sending $1,000 payments to my Citicard. All my payments were always on time. Then I was fired from my job 3 weeks before my wedding. Every penny was going towards the wedding, I already had made commitments and I had to pay these businesses for their services- it was too late to cancel anything. From there it spun out of control and within just a few months my debt rose from around $12,000 to $35,000 due to fees and interest. This was before the U.S. economy really took a nose dive and the creditors were NOT willing to work with me in any way. They wouldn't lower my payments or interest. Now I think credit card companies are willing to be flexible with people and will do what it takes to help them, even if it is purely driven by greed.
I tried to work with debt consolidation companies- BIG MISTAKE, this made things much worse and ended up costing me a TON of money. Filing bankruptcy was not something I wanted to do at 22 years old but I simply had no other options. I was working at two very low paying jobs and was unable to find anything else at that time. The moment I stopped making my regular payments with my attempt to use a 'consolidation' company my credit card balances spiraled out of control. Two thirds of my debt filed in bankruptcy accumulated in less than six months. How is this possible? Well, a 29% interest rate on a $10,000 balance and outrageous fees. Any time I made a payment it literally just went towards a new added fee. It's changed now, I believe the law is that an assessed late fee can be no more than $28 but back then it was triple that - maybe even more.
I knew my credit was going to struggle during the 7 year period until the chapter 11 was lifted from my credit report, BUT 7 years ago I really was so uneducated about my credit score and how SIGNIFICANTLY it effects your life. If you have a crap credit score- you are screwed! This has been a battle for me, it is like trying to walk up an ascending escalator -it is a massive struggle to get to the top. When you have a bad credit score, you obviously cannot expect to get much but also when you have a bad credit score you are charged the absolute highest fees and interest imaginable. Things you could never even imagine....the past 7 years were filled with challenges, obstacles, and stressful moments. Life revolves your credit score-if you don't believe me then you've never had problems with your credit.
"Most people work just hard enough not to get fired and get paid just enough money not to quit."
"I made my money the old fashioned way. I was very nice to a wealthy relative right before he died"- Malcolm Forbes
In my opinion the crux of the problem is that people don't talk about money. I am so disgusted by my former ignorance about credit/credit scores/credit reports/savings, but I just didn't know, I didn't even know enough to learn about these things. I wish someone would have talked to me about me about money, I think schools MUST add a realistic credit class to their curriculum. So whenever I think about things I 'wish' I would have known I'm going to pass it along. I hate watching people make similar mistakes with their mo.ney that I made but you'll lose friends real quick the moment you start judging their monetary lifestyle. So there you go, my $35,000 dollars worth of advice....my gift to you for free.