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Months ago, my credit score decreased by a stomach-churning 34 points. I celebrated with a double shot of Tum’s.
It was many levels of unwise timing, from letting my balance get too high, a hard credit check from a refinanced mortgage, and opening a new credit account. Not a pretty look for a credit score. Currently, my score is stubbornly sitting at 797, which is 15 points better, but 19 points short of where I started.
I am still working through gnarly switchbacks, but I have solid gear which will help as I try to summit mount credit score! I’m like a female MacGyver, hold the dental floss as I turn this rock into a motorcycle.
According to the gurus at NerdWallet a credit score is a three-digit number, on a scale of 300 to 850, that estimates how likely someone will repay borrowed money and pay bills.
Credit scores are crushingly important as the bouncers of the financial world. If I want to get into Club Low-Interest-Rate, I have to get my name on that entry list. As the world continues the digital dive, more places are checking that entry list, from employers and the military recruiters to phone and insurance companies.
I dislike the requirements, but I am not here to crush an industry. That sounds like too much work!
Instead, I have to learn the rules and play them. So, I can get what I want as quickly as possible – dancing all night with low-interest rates.
Back in the days when I struggled with common sense personal finance, I pondered why I was rejected for my first credit card.
I filled out the form, had a job, and no debt. Yet, I was rejected for a credit card. It was a blistering burn like the one time I ran all day without sunscreen.
My problem was a lack of debt. No credit history was worse than bad credit history. Since my credit history was unwilling to fix itself, I did what any smart young woman did before the Google era – I took advice from my peers and got a loan!
Since I had a habit of over-drafting my checking account, it wasn’t the best advice, but it worked. I got a loan for $1,000, which made me feel rich! Seeing so many zeros attached to my name was a new, delightful feeling but it was brief, as I used it to pay back the loan.
It was weird, but it worked. After failing my first personal finance test, I managed to get a credit card and start down the long road of how to increase a credit score.
For years, I did the routine of collecting charges and paying the monthly bill. After years of purchase-pay rinse and repeat, I had a good credit score waiting for me when I started to care about my finances.
A while ago, I had a small, unfortunate mishap with my credit score.
I check my credit score monthly like the curious frugnalista that I am. It was during one of this routine checkups that I experienced a surprise like the old fork in the light socket trick – my score drop from 816 to 782.
As I started untangling the mystery mishap, I realized it was self-inflicted.
I was trying out a new method of auto-playing credit card bills. Mortgage, utilities, phone, internet are all automated, so I tried out autopay for credit cards too. Unfortunately, during this trial run, my utilization got higher than the normal 1%.
The next clue was a hard credit check from our mortgage refinance. Mr. BuLL and I wanted to lock in a 2.25% interest rate. It was worth the paperwork hassle and credit score decrease because more money is being dumped towards principal versus interest.
The mortgage-free goal feels so much closer.
I thought that those were the big reasons for my credit score’s fall from grace, but Afro Penny dug deeper and added another piece to the mystery – a new line of credit was opened.
Too conveniently, I forgot that I opened a new credit card to partake in credit card churning rewards. I had opened it before this debacle, but when it finally clutched my credit score, it had already collided into a perfect storm credit drop with numbers flying everywhere.
Life happens fast when I’m trying to capture all the rewards of a high credit score! I still captured everything I wanted, but my score is a little more bruised. Multitasking isn’t good for the “how to increase a credit score” saga.
Good. To. Know.
The mystery is solved! As with any accidental sabotage, it’s time to focus on recovery. No need to blame. There is only one party to blame, and I don’t need to mention any names.
I try to work smarter, not harder, 80/20 rule and all. I prefer to nap my way into an increased credit score by not applying for any new loans or credit cards. Easy enough, I am not a huge fan of applying for things because it takes effort and time. I would rather spend that somewhere else, like pretending to be a creepy hand shadow.
I removed auto pay from my credit cards and put it back to manual and have supercharged my payments and utilization by paying my credit card bills twice a month.
The best thing I can do is be lazy and do nothing. Hold onto my credit cards, promptly pay my bills, and try not to get fancy with credit card churning.
At least, for a while.
What is your experience with the “how to increase a credit score” saga?