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A couple of weeks ago my fiancé woke up in the middle of the night to the sound water pouring into our kitchen. It had snowed that day causing our roof to sag and eventually leak, unleashing an impromptu rainstorm in our kitchen.
After seeing the water streaming into our apartment, my fiancé grabbed every empty pot and bowl he could find, while I grabbed spare towels from the bathroom to sop up the water that had already pooled on our kitchen floor.
Our lease was coming to an end and this unexpected late night rainstorm in the kitchen sealed the deal – it was time to move.
A couple of weeks later (and more apartment showings than I care to remember), we stumbled on that elusive New York City find – an apartment we loved.
It was a spacious, light-filled one bedroom in one of our favorite neighborhoods with the roof fully intact. PLUS it had an elevator and dishwasher (neither of which we have in our current apartment).
I immediately asked the broker for next steps, (I was not ready to let this apartment get away from us).
Up first, pay the $75 per person application fee. Yikes!
We couldn’t exactly afford to get our application rejected, so I started pulling together all the paperwork we needed to complete the process.
With the application fee paid, our paperwork submitted, and our credit pulled by our prospective landlord, all we could do was sit and wait with fingers crossed.
In the days that followed, I looked at a few more apartments, but nothing compared. I even started a Pinterest board with design ideas for the new place, imagining where we would put things based on the pictures of the apartment still listed for rent online.
The anticipation pretty much consumed me. And then it came…
We got the apartment!
Honestly, I felt like I was getting into college all over again. Living in New York City, I knew the competition would be stiff, but I also knew we were in a position of power.
I’d been keeping tabs on my credit – both in anticipation of our potential move, and because I’m a total money geek. So I knew my credit score had passed the ‘excellent’ credit score threshold. I have a long history of paying my bills on time. And thanks to my good influence (or so I like to think), so does my fiancé. Hence, those wonderful words, ‘your application was the strongest’. (Insert happy dance here!)
So now we’re packing up our boxes and saying goodbye to our old ceiling, which we’ve temporarily patched with duct tape while we get ready to put my Pinterest dreams into action in our new place.
As much as I’ve loved watching my credit score climb, it’s often felt like just a number to me, not meaning much of anything.
But then, I encounter a situation like this move – where a person who has never met me before needs to make a judgment call about my reliability, and that number suddenly becomes everything. It becomes my position of power, my point of leverage, my gateway to one of the most important parts of my life – my home.
Staying in control of my finances helped me feel in control during our apartment search, and in turn, in control of my life. So now, I don’t view my score as just a number. Instead, I focus on the opportunities that open up, and in turn, the anxieties I can remove, allowing me to feel more confident about my financial health and self-perception overall.
While good credit isn’t the only factor that goes into getting approved for something like a place it live, it certainly helps. And it’s more than an apartment you can get approval for. Financing, on anything from a personal loan to a new phone becomes much easier to access when you’ve got a good credit health.
Excellent credit health may also help you qualify for credit cards with rewards and benefits – from free airport lounge access to generous cash back sign up offers (all of which I LOVE).
Not that you need it, but asking for an increase to your credit line can make maintaining a low credit utilization ratio easier, especially if you anticipate financing a large purchase over a few months, (wedding planning anyone?) If you already have a good credit history, you may be more likely to be approved for a higher credit limit.
Your credit score may also be used by your insurance company to help set rates on things like your auto and home insurance policies. Good credit health can potentially save you money by helping you qualify for the best rates.
Whether it’s a home mortgage or an auto loan, healthy credit can put you in a position to get better interest rates – or to refinance your existing loans at a better rate. The healthier your credit, the more likely you’ll qualify for the lowest interest rates possible. Which, over the life of a big loan like a mortgage, could add up to thousands of dollars in savings.
All-in-all, your credit health can be a seriously powerful tool in opening up new opportunities – whether it’s a new home or just keeping more of your hard-earned money for yourself.
So naturally, your credit health is something I recommend tracking. Just like your spending or your net worth.
Much like you might use a spreadsheet or an app to track your spending, you can also use tools to better track your credit score and manage your overall financial health.
TransUnion’s CreditCompass™, is one such product that provides an innovative new approach to credit management. Included as part of the TransUnion Credit Monitoring subscription, the new product charts a path towards your goal credit score with step-by-step recommendations that are completely customized to your specific financial situation. The product makes incorporating healthy financial behaviors into your every day life very easy and accessible while empowering you to take control of your credit.
The new product is also built on the highly predictive and trusted VantageScore® 3.0 credit scoring model, used by lenders and financial institutions to assess the creditworthiness of individuals. As CreditCompass is powered by VantageScore, the product has the ability to chart a path forward for anyone, no mater where you are on your credit journey.
Once you set your goal credit score, CreditCompass™ will give you next steps on how to achieve your goal over time, with personalized recommendations based, not just on your credit data, but millions of real credit experiences of individuals who successfully improved their credit health in situations just like yours. As your customized plan is based on proven examples, the product really helps to bring clarity and ease to credit management.
Within the customized recommendations, CreditCompass will provide a snapshot of your current credit score as well as the factors that are affecting your credit most, such as payment history, credit age and mix, credit utilization, balances, recent credit applications and available credit. It also shows you how your personal credit behavior has affected each one of those factors.
What I like about CreditCompass is that it eliminates a lot of the guesswork and feelings of being overwhelmed about your credit and what you ‘should’ be doing to achieve your goal score, because it lays out clear, immediate next steps that are personalized to your specific financial circumstances and goals, rather than the typical one-size-fits-all solutions.
Plus, you can continue to get updated recommendations from CreditCompass based on your most recent credit behavior and goals.
In my own experience, it can be hard to chart a path towards better credit when there is an abundance of “one-size-fits-all” advice. So, get a clear snapshot of where your credit is now and your recommended next steps for getting your credit on track with TransUnion’s CreditCompass, here.
Once you’ve got your tools all set up and your next steps underway, remember to bring it back to the ‘why.’
It’s really easy to get caught up in the numbers and lose track of why your credit score even matters – especially in moments of stress or when you’re overwhelmed.
So remember to revisit your financial goals as often as you revisit your credit progress.
What are you hoping to use your credit for once you reach your credit score goal? A great rate on a small business loan? A point of leverage for negotiating with your insurance providers? A new apartment application?
Whatever it is, consider making your goal visual, and put it somewhere you’ll see each day as you make the daily money decisions, like paying your bills on time, that may have a direct impact on your credit score.
For example, if your goal is to become a homeowner in two years, maybe you make your screensaver an image of your dream starter home while you work toward getting a great rate on your mortgage. Or maybe your goal is to qualify for a credit card with awesome travel rewards to help you finance a bucket list trip – so you snag a picture of your dream destination off of Instagram and set it as your phone background.
Remember, good credit health takes time and patience. But with the right tools in place and visual reminders of what it’s all for keeping you on track, you can empower yourself to take control of your credit and open up your access to the opportunities that really matter to you.
As for me, I’ll be enjoying my new apartment while continuing to keep tabs on my credit (along with my spending and net worth of course), all the while thinking about what I want to use it for next.
Who knows, maybe a boat?!
 There are various types of credit scores, and lenders use a variety of different types of credit scores to make lending decisions. The credit score you receive and the one used for CreditCompass is based on the VantageScore 3.0 model and may not be the credit score model used by your lender.