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As a supposed personal finance expert, I’ve seen my share of credit horror stories – that often takes years to repair. 

As my kids  prepared for college a few years ago – they started getting credit card offers by the droves.  I was very deliberate in advising them to avoid the temptation – and this time, they listened.

Fast forward to last month.  My oldest, now 26 – decided it was time to buy a nicer car.  She took my advice – again – and ended up with a quite reasonable 3-year old Ford Fusion.  She had a few thousand to put down, and wanted to finance the rest on a 36-month loan – just as I had coached her.

Everything was going swimmingly – until it came time for the loan.  Turns out, even with a credit score near 800, a stable employment/income history, and very responsible use of credit – she couldn’t get approved. 


“Insufficient credit history.”  She hadn’t opened enough accounts or used them enough to establish a credit history in the eyes of car lenders.

My advice – which I thought was quite prudent – and her compliance with that advice – had backfired on me (and her).

In my next article, I’ll explain a bit more about what I’ve learned since then.  As it turns out, we did get her a loan –from a very small community bank where a friend works.  As a side note, I learned that smaller banks still look at a person’s situation, not just sterile numbers on paper. 

Our credit record drives much of what we do – or want to do.  It dictates our insurance rates, our access to store credit, car loans, and mortgages, our ability to rent an apartment, and is scrutinized by potential employers. 

As we chatted with my banker friend while paperwork was being printed, he told me that he had been searching for weeks for a new teller for the bank – but that every candidate they liked – had bad credit – a deal-breaker for a bank position.

Build, track, and nurture your credit and your credit rating.  It impacts more than you think.  For free access to your credit report, check out