What’s Your Number?
Numbers mean a lot to us, from the time we were kids all the way through adulthood. Grades, age, weight, time, distance, and even the score of the big game.
When it comes to finances, numbers are everything. Obviously. While the numbers in my savings have gone up during Project Money and my debt numbers have gone down, one number that I hadn’t really focused on (until now) was my credit score.
So, what does your credit score really mean? I wasn’t a Summit Credit Union member before Project Money, and my previous financial institution posted my credit score right on my online banking home page. It was there for me to see every single time I logged in. Every. Single. Time. As I got deeper and deeper into my debt hole, I saw my score go down, and down, and down. I’m a pretty competitive person by nature so when I saw the number go down I thought surely there was a mistake. And then I told myself that my credit score doesn’t really matter that much anyways. I already had my mortgage, my home equity loan, my credit cards, and my car loan. I didn’t need any other loans. Or credit cards. And Starbucks never requires a credit check, so I was good. Or so I thought.
Once I moved all of my accounts to Summit, I immediately noted that I didn’t have to dread logging into online banking because my credit score wasn’t posted in big bold numbers for me to see. Out of sight, out of mind. But, I figured (hoped) that with all of the balance transfers, refinancing and savings I’ve been building that my score was surely going up a little. What I didn’t realize was that not only was it going up, it sky rocketed. Officially, my score has increased by 55 points. That means from the time I moved my accounts to Summit in June until mid-September, I had a pretty big spike in a pretty short period of time thanks to a lot of work increasing savings, evaluating my debt and working with Coach Melanie to identify ways to make the most of my money. Unofficially, my credit score went up more than 55 points. I know that because my pre-Project Money score at my previous bank was lower than what it was in the early days of Project Money. So, we’ll just say my score went up more than 55 points. But who’s counting?
Here’s this week’s financial fun fact: your credit score is based on a number of factors and can be used to determine not only if you qualify to borrow money but if so, what the terms (including interest rates!) will be. Your score equates to how much of a risk you are to a lender, so the higher your score, the lower your risk is to the lender. You should get to know your score if you don’t already. Here’s a link to a good article on what your credit score means: http://www.experian.com/blogs/ask-experian/credit-education/score-basics/what-is-a-good-credit-score/
I now have the highest credit score I’ve ever had. It feels pretty good actually. But, just like lots of other numbers, maintaining is often the hardest part. So, we’ll see how my credit score fares in the next few months, and then at the end of Project Money and a year from now. What’s your number and what can you do to increase it and sustain it over time?