What's Your Score?

Growing up meant trying to get good scores in school, making sure you brought home a report card that didn't have any red numbers in it. But living as an adult in the States entailed a different kind of grading system that has nothing to do with academics: something called your "credit score."

The concept was something alien to me as someone who's not a native of this country. Basically, your credit score represents your financial reputation when it comes to buying things on credit. It's the opposite of the "Credit is good, but we need Cash" concept. Here, the more you buy things on credit or by installment, the more they like you. The more they call you a "Preferred Customer."

But here's the catch: you have to be good with making your credit payments on time...that's how you build up a good credit score. If you default or become a delinquent debtor, your credit score plummets. But why is one's credit score such a big deal? Well, it's what they look at when you're trying to make major purchases such as a car or a home. They don't care about your stash of cash, it's what your credit score looks like that will determine if you fail or pass.

It's been years since I last checked my credit score, but I recall trying a website that offered to display your free credit score from all three credit bureaus. I remember seeing exactly which firms/merchants were checking out my credit score so they can decide if they wanted to give me credit or not and how much. This is the score that you really want to maintain at a safe level for the rest of your spending life.

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