We’re back! And so is our buddy Darnell. You remember him? He’s our test subject in this money journey, and he shared with us an interesting…trick?…if you really want to know what your credit score looks like. Here’s more.
Ages ago on this site, we introduced you to Darnell. He’s had some issues with money and he’s been willing to share some of his journey back to respectability in his family’s financial suite. (Darnell didn’t fall off the radar, by the way; we did here at 10KaYear HQ. Sorry about that.)
A quick summary of Darnell’s situation goes a little like this: got in over his head with credit cards and other things, hacked his way out of debt, now wouldn’t mind having access to credit again. Started small with a credit card whose portfolio was eventually purchased by CapitalOne, and, as a result, now gets access to credit score information on a regular basis.
Flash forward to a couple months ago and…lo and behold…Capital One’s credit score info – the free tool he can access through his account – is ENTIRELY DIFFERENT. To wit:
Darnell might have been more than a little shocked to see this – in fact, when he sent me the screenshot, I believe his exact words were: “WUT?”
So Capital One has changed score methodology. Specifically, they’ve gone with something called the “Vantage Score” from TransUnion, and they’ve retrofitted the score so that Darnell can potentially feel EVEN WORSE about his plight:
Yeah, that’s right, while Darnell thought he was in the 600s all this time, he’s actually stuck below that Credit Mendoza Line.
Let’s dig a little deeper and we’ll discover exactly what’s next:
If you see this all as a jumbled mess of craziness, you’re not alone. Three major credit reporting companies, times a whole bunch of products, times custom requests from different banks and lenders and credit card companies and…well, you can see that the degrees of entropy here are rather large.
So, what’s a credit-wise consumer to do? Great question. Answer: “Stay the course.”
In Darnell’s case, he’s looking to rebuild, so there’s a strategy that does not change. Simply put, it goes a little something like this:
- Pay off credit card balances and any other credit balances – THAT MEANS CAR LOANS, TOO – focusing on smallest amount first. (This is a “debt snowball.” Not my idea, but may not be Dave Ramsey’s either.)
- Save an emergency fund ($1000 minimum, more if you can swing it).
- Oh yeah, have a budget. Stick to it.
- Don’t buy stuff you can’t afford.
- Pay down your house. Get a 15-year mortgage if you can.
- Save toward the big things – retirement and college, in that order.
More on Darnell to come in the next few weeks – our absence (for which we apologize) meant that we’ve got a few other notes from Darnell to examine in detail. See you next time.