25,000 Reasons to Pamper Your Credit

by Ben Edwards on 6 October 2010 0 comments

Would you take good care of your credit score if you knew someday it could save you $25,000? What if you wouldn't see the savings immediately, if you had to wait a year or two? How about if you had to wait 10 years — could you keep your credit score healthy if you knew it would pay off big time?

A Tale of Good Credit

I'm sure you've heard many cautionary tales of families that ruined their credit and couldn't get a loan when they needed it most. How would you like to hear something a little different? Rather than keeping you up at night worrying about all the bad things that can happen financially when you have bad credit, what if I could tell you a story that might get you excited about the opportunities that come from good credit?

Too Good to Be True

Just a few months ago, we were a family whose credit score didn't really make much difference in our daily lives. It had been 10 years since we'd bought a house and eight years since we borrowed money for a car. We hadn't really needed our credit score for its primary purpose — to help us get a loan.

Then suddenly, in two short weeks, our credit score went from relative obscurity to one of the most important numbers in our life. For a variety of reasons, we were looking to buy a house but we couldn't afford all the criteria we were looking for in a new home.

That all changed one Friday afternoon when our realtor called me with some good news and some bad news. We had made an unbelievably low offer on a short sale, for $25,000 less than their already discounted asking price. Good news was that the bank had accepted our offer, but the bad news was we had to close on the new house by the following Friday.

Credit Score to the Rescue

If you've ever applied for a home loan, you know that you can't just go out and borrow hundreds of thousands of dollars in one week's time. The only thing that stood between us and an amazing deal on a house was the bank underwriting process.

Thanks to some skillful maneuvering by our realtor to buy us a little more time and the fast-tracking of our loan by our bank, we ended up closing on the house five hours before the deadline. None of that would have been possible if it weren't for a good credit history and excellent credit score.

Pampering Your Credit

Your credit is one of those things that you can ignore for a long time but when the moment comes, you'll wish you hadn't. It's kind of like ignoring a major health condition: You can get by for a while and feel just fine but eventually it will come back to bite you big time.

If we had ignored our credit for the last 10 years, there's no way we would have gotten the deal we just did. Not only that — your credit score impacts your interest rate, which can end up saving or costing you thousands of dollars over the life of a home mortgage.

So, how do you pamper your credit?

  • Make your payments on time.
  • Keep your balances low.
  • Don't close old accounts.
  • Keep your credit utilization low (used credit vs. available credit).

Taking care of your credit basically means showing future potential lenders that you don't borrow more than you can afford and that you regularly pay back what you owe. Stick to those principles and you might have a chance to save a lot of money in the future. It could be less than $25K, or maybe more. The thing is, you'll never know unless you pamper your credit score!

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