The biggest mistake I have made in life has by far been the lack of responsibility when it comes to my credit.
As much as I wish I could say this was due to the young age and lack of maturity during the college years, the bad habits and poor decisions continued into my late twenties.
While still under the shelter and care of my parents during high school, money was never an issue. Very rarely did I even need to ask. A simple trip to the closest ATM was the only requirement for access to cash. It was definitely a luxury, one I took too much advantage of.
Taking care of myself
I still remember the day I headed off in my truck for college. My father had pulled me to the side and handed me what many people would consider a large amount of money on a prepaid debit card. His eyes pierced into mine as he told me, "This is it. You're a man now and you need to find a way to take care of yourself."
He promised that he was only doing this because he loved me and it was what I needed. He also let me know that any other person could make the amount on the card last at least an entire semester with no problem. Between the new piece of plastic and the money I had been forced to save from all of the graduation gifts earlier in the summer, there really wasn't a whole lot of concern in mind.
Surely he was simply trying to scare me. I arrived at school and it didn't take long to realize money would give me access to older friends. Before long, I was the main attraction at every Saturday night get together. Not because of who I was, simply because of what was in my wallet. Much to my surprise, my father wasn't joking.
I don't believe I have ever heard him laugh as hard as he did a month later when I asked if more money could be put on the card. I was in college, I didn't have time to work and earn a paycheck. A simple phone call to my mom, and she helped me receive a couple of credit cards with my name on the front. Little did I realize what that meant.
Facing the consequences
A few years after graduating college, my credit became so bad that I had to start doing something about it. I started applying a percentage of my income towards paying debt. One by one I started eliminating the creditors on the list. I started researching the best secured credit cards and using them in order to keep from going over my budget.
It didn't happen overnight, but slowly I began to improve my credit score. I had dug myself into a pretty deep hole, but it was a lesson I needed to learn. Doing what I can every week to pay back previous debts has not only improved my credit, it has also taught me how to appreciate the money I earn.
The sound of that laugh
I have accomplished some pretty big goals in my life. I have a college degree. I am a member of management at my place of employment. However, doing what needed to be done in order to improve my credit has made my father prouder than anything else.
I didn't tell him about finally being able to purchase a vehicle without a cosigner. I drove it to his house to let him see it. There is only one other time in my life I can remember him laughing so hard. This time, it was because he was proud of who I was becoming.
By Curt Price