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May 29, 2022 4 min read
It all started when I was 18, my dad sat me down and told me that I would need credit for just about everything in life. He was not kidding!
Credit is everywhere and controls a lot of what we can do with money. So my goal? Get the best possible credit score I could before I left college at 22; and that is exactly what I did.
Hi, I’m coach Hill, financial educator and money coach. I work with some of the best athletes in the world and thousands of people like you and me to help them get their finances into shape, so they can live the life they want.
I started building credit at 18 using a traditional credit card. My dad told me to go apply at my bank, and get the ball rolling to build my credit. I honestly had no idea what I was doing, but I went down to the bank, applied for the card and 10 days later I had my first student visa credit card with a $500 limit. 18 years old and $500 dollars, man I felt like I was rollin' in cash! My dad killed that notion quickly. Aka, scared the living crap out of me with what happens when you use credit and don't pay it back. More on that another time!
After scaring me to death, he gave me a crash course in credit and how to use it the right way. We sat and talked through it for about an hour at the dinner table, and it is to the day one of the best life lessons I’ve been given...
So we made a plan detailing what I would use the card for, when, and how much I would spend. He and I agreed that I would pay for my gas and groceries on the card every month and that was it. I would spend more than $150 a month and it would be used for those two items ONLY.
I had to pay for gas and groceries, I just switched from using my debit card to using my credit card and I monitored the transactions on my online banking to make sure I didn't go crazy or spend too much money. Let’s face it, I couldn't afford a $500 credit card bill. That would have destroyed my budget. So I implemented the plan, and went after it.
I had a 720 credit score. 19 years old and consistently using my credit the way my dad and I agreed to for 1 full year and I was already in the good credit category. It felt amazing to watch my score rise, simply by doing things I had to do (buying the necessities) and simply spending the right amount on my credit card, the rest in cash.
Halfway through my sophomore year in college, my bank increased my credit line from $500 to $1000. I had a panic attack! Everything was going perfectly, why were they changing things on me? I called my dad, and he walked me through what was happening.
I was being responsible with credit, doing the right things so the bank extended more credit to me because I was kicking credits proverbial ass. He assured me to keep doing what I was doing, no changes to my spending. My dad said “let the bank increase your credit limit, you don’t have to change anything! Now you just have access to additional money if an emergency happens.”
I really thought about that, what if something did happen? Not only do I have my emergency fund which was pretty small at the time, but now I have access to extra cash if shit hits the fan. It was actually comforting to know I had the money if I needed it. I hoped I would never use all $1000 but I had it and that was actually a relaxing feeling. So I kept on keeping on, and continued to do what I had been doing with my monthly purchases.
2 years in, I was at a 780 FICO score. WHAT! Ya, that happened. Again, the bank raised my limit, now it was $2500.
By age 21, entering my senior year in college, I hit an 804 credit score. I made it! Now, I just had to keep it. UGG! The pressure felt real, but I stuck to the plan my dad and I agreed and that has been a game changer for my financial life.
Using the 3 tools my dad gave me and our plan of action that I executed every month, I was over an 800 FICO score by my 21st birthday.
The education from my dad and a little work on my part set me ahead of the game when it came to credit. You can implement one of these 3 tools for their kids, spouse, or simply to improve your own credit. Grab our free tools at financialfoowork.com and let’s get after that 800 FICO score.
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