Wednesday, May 1, 2013

The $1,400 Credit Score

Photo courtesy of
Ever since my husband and I became debt-free back in March, I have been trying harder than ever to cut back on expenses so we can try to finish saving for our emergency fund.  So I decided to run a little audit on our bank statements, and I came face to face with one cold, hard fact: I am a complete f***ing idiot.

Why, you ask?  Maybe it's because I wasted $90K on a law degree that I no longer use?  No.  Maybe it's because I quit my secure law job at the height of the recession so I could take a decidedly less prestigious job, and eventually deliver pizzas in order to pay off my law school debt?  No.  It all started when my younger sister came to live with me and my husband.

She's one of those sisters.  The kind who's never had a real job, who dropped out of high school because
she thought she was going to be a rock star, and who ended up pissing away some of the best years of her life on booze and bad choices in men.  And during those wasted years, she developed a habit of stealing identities when it suited her.  It started when she got a speeding ticket and gave the cop my name.  That took a lot of paperwork, pain, and years of estrangement to resolve.  Then she stole another family member's credit card (she intercepted it in the mail one day while this family member was at work) and racked up $2,500 in charges.

Years passed and she stopped stealing identities, but the problems with addiction and worthless men remained.  And one summer, she was facing eviction, she had a pile of unpaid bills, and her latest boyfriend had committed suicide a couple years prior, so she was at the end of her rope.  In a moment of weakness, I told her she could come live with me and my husband for a while.

While I felt sorry for her and I thought she still had the potential to live a better life, I harbored no delusions that she had somehow blossomed into a responsible, productive human being with absolutely no visible effort on her part.  So before she came to live with us, I started to panic about letting her into my home, where all of my personal financial documents and such were stored.  As a result, I ended up enrolling in one of those credit monitoring programs, the ones that let you know right away if any new accounts have been opened in your name, or if any other changes have occurred on your credit report.  I thought this would bring me peace of mind.

My sister ended up living with us for about five months (the booze and lousy men won out in the end), and I forgot about the credit monitoring service, which automatically charged me $15 per month (it included credit score monitoring, so I could access my score at any time).  A couple years after she moved out, I ended up calling the credit monitoring place and asking them to discontinue my account.  Of course, they weren't so happy about that, so they transferred me to a thousand different reps, each of who attempted to convince me that I stood on the brink of financial ruin by canceling, until I finally gave in and hung up.  The monthly $15 charge continued to appear on my bank statements.

Fast forward to today, eight years after I enrolled in this service - which I never actually used, mind you -- and I have spent about $1,400 in order to find out my credit score (or, one of them anyhow) whenever the mood should strike.  Oh, and did I mention my credit union offers the exact same service for free?

So yeah, put me down in the "stupid" category.  There are a million other stupid things I've done, of course, but at least I have something to show for those.  I still have my undergraduate and law degrees, even if I don't use them.  Quitting my law job turned out to be the right decision, even if it did cost me some money and pride in the short term.  And if I hadn't done those stupid things, I probably never would have taken on the herculean task of becoming debt-free, and committing myself to staying that way.

But as for what my credit score is - the one I paid $1,400 to find out?  F*** if I know.

Update:  I forgot to mention that I finally did terminate the credit monitoring program.  This time when I called, the rep I spoke with started giving me her spiel about how valuable the service is, and in order to keep me, they were going to offer me three free months, yadda, yadda, yadda.  I replied that I knew exactly what value service had provided me over the course of eight years (read: none) and to please just cancel it.  She finally did. 


  1. It's sad how many things are just outright scams. And people wonder why Americans are cynical, downtrodden, and less hopefull on average.

    1. Oh, I know, I've become completely cynical about everything. I'm ashamed to admit that now, when someone claims to have any kind of serious illness, a little doubt creeps into the back of my mind. It's because of all the people out there who falsely claim to have cancer in order to solicit donations and sympathy. I wish my mind didn't work like that, but it's one of the side effects of living in the Internet Age.

  2. I've pared my expenses down tremendously and one thing that taught me was how much money all of us waste on things we don't need. I don't have cable or a television and the savings on cable TV alone are totally worth it. I spend $8.65 a month on Netflix instead and that provides me with what I need. I'm not knocking cable or TV by the way, it's just something I was able to cut out and doing so meant a huge savings.

    A lot of the time we let the monthly recurring charge items just keep on going without ever looking at it closely and saying "Do I need this and/or is this something I'm getting enough use out of to continue paying for?"

  3. I love your blog. I just found it a few days ago and I've been reading all the posts you have written! Witty and smart!

  4. Did you just call in to Dave Ramsey? My mom called to tell me about the debt free scream and I thought the story sounded just like yours. Congrats!!!

  5. Interesting blog. I must say that saving money and being frugal is often the key to happiness. I hope that you find what you are looking for and don't blame law school too much. As a recent graduate of law school myself, I understand that it is very hard out there. On the same page, blogs like Third Tier Reality do no good at helping others and instead only deliver below the belt punches and use shock value to anger people. Had I never had read his blog, I would have considered dropping out at the end of my first year. But, I did read his blog, and was angered at it. But this is not about him. I just don't understand why so much credit is given to this angst-ridden kid and his dramatic painter friend.

  6. It truly is essential that you find all three studies to acquire a full snapshot. Lenders are not required to send details to one of the fixing credit score reporting agencies and many typically it doesn't send details to all or any three.

  7. A gigantic moonlike of recommendation, keep moving on.
    bubblegum casting

  8. This info you provided in the blog that was really unique I love it!!! sky blue credit reviews

  9. I love all details that you give in your articles.
    no win no fee uk