"Our scores have had two major impacts in our lives," she says. "First, both our jobs ran a credit check as part of our background employment investigations. Bad credit would have hurt our chances at getting good paying jobs. Second, while we have been working to reduce our debt over the last few years, good credit has given us a chance to play hard ball with the lenders while renegotiating interest rates on our remaining debt. If a lender is unwilling to come to the table with a good deal, we move on."
So long as they continue on this path, when Rebekah and her husband want to upgrade to a bigger house or buy a new car, they will find themselves well situated. They'll be rewarded with a nice low interest rate, more money to stash away and no reason to charge other purchases or emergency medical bills and begin the debt cycle all over again.
Whatever our current debt or credit score, a positive credit history—like a resume—is not something that happens to us. It must be built, over time, with the same care, attention to detail and hard work that is used to craft a serious career.
Adam Levin is chairman and cofounder of Credit.com. His experience as former director of the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs gives him unique insight into consumer privacy, legislation and financial advocacy. He is a nationally recognized expert on identity theft and credit.