Friday, September 12, 2008

Live Life!

As I was in Starbucks making my daily run, I realized that I'm not that social. I go in straight faced half awake, order the same thing and leave out like a zombie. I speak and am courteous to the workers, but I don't go out of my way to say "Good morning, how are you?" I'm just too serious! Is this what adulthood is all about, being so serious that you can't even let the inner kid out once and awhile? I'm reminded of Pastor Joel Osteen who has such a kind spirit and is ALWAYS smiling. What happened to me? As I reflect on what made me this way, I think back to my childhood. I used to be so silly and goofy, laughing and having the time of my life. All my yearbooks reflect this from classmates who labeled me as goofy. The word 'goofy' became sort of a stigma, something bad, something I didn't want to be called. So as I got older, I think subconsciously I internalized that and became more and more serious, more uptight and anal. I've walked around years like this. I'll speak to people at work walking down the hallways only if they're about to speak. What about speaking first? I won't go out of my way to create friendships or conversations with people. Today I made up my mind, I'm going to smile more. Smiling is contagious afterall. I'm going to go out to lunch with co-workers, which I never do. I'm going to introduce myself to people I don't know. And if by chance, someone doesn't look like they want to speak I'm going to command their attention and if they still don't speak, I'm not going to take it personal. I'm going to laugh more and be happy and enjoy the simple things in life.


When you are rebuilding your credit, patience is definitely a virtue! I find myself eager to check the mail to see if I have a letter from the credit bureaus or my creditors. I anticipate like a kid on Christmas eve waiting to open presents. I started the task of rebuilding my credit 5 months ago, which seems like eternity. I've been somewhat patient. I've gotten some things negative accounts removed and my credit score has improved. Until I achieve the desired results, I'll just keep typing my response letters and wait.

Thursday, August 28, 2008


The answer is NO! I got into a debate with a gentleman (who shall remain nameless) over whether fish is considered meat. In my previous post, I discussed how I had given up meat in my diet. In order to prove him wrong, I did some research. There are several different variations of being a vegetarian. I learned that I am a pesco vegetarian, one who eats veggies and fish, NO chicken, pork or beef. According to the Vegetarian Society this is not considered a valid vegetarian diet and they look at it as a form of semi-vegetarianism. Well, I guess I'm a semi vegetarian. Maybe I'll slowly work my way into veganism in the future. I also learned out the meaning of meat, which I never really thought about in depth. Meat refers to animal tissue used as food, which can include organs (yuck!). The word is also used by the meat packing industry as the flesh of mammalian species. Fish does not fall into this category. So after I educated this person and myself as well, I felt more informed, more knowledgable. It is only right to know what you're practicing. So I'll be well equipped if I ever get into another discussion regarding my Go Veg movement.

Going Veg

Well I finally decided to eliminate meat from my diet! I have not eaten meat for 11 days and counting, I know it doesn't sound like much, but hey..You gotta start somewhere. For the past month, I had been feeling really sluggish and bloated. I just felt like I was dragging pounds of toxins around with me. So I made the conscious decision to stop eating meat. I've never really been a "meat" person. I love my vegetables and pasta. I've done diets where you couldn't consume meat and as soon as I was finished, I went right back eating it. It was more out of habit than the desire to do so. I'm just used to eating meat with my meals. I feel much better, I just have to find the perfect balance of nutrients. I read that meat provides B12 vitamins, so without it I may have to take a daily supplement. Other than that I'm good, the more days pass, the more I forget about ever eating MEAT!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Experian is difficult

I have been trying unsuccesfully for months to get Experian to remove old negative accounts. These accounts are paid and soon to fall off, however, they continue to ignore my requests. I have written several letters and in the last even threatened to sue. I have sent a complaint to the FTC and to date have not heard anything. The frustration wears on! They are the most difficult credit union to reason with. I won't give up, the credit bureaus want to discourage you with the hopes you'll say forget it. If I have to write a letter every month for the next year, I will. My credit is everything and I will keep on keeping on!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Credit Offers

In the midst of you rebuilding your credit, you will be bombarded with junk mail from creditors. It goes a little something like this...."YOU HAVE BEEN PRE-APPROVED FOR UP TO $10,000" The key word is up to, you have to further read the small print below that states upon credit approval. You're probably wondering where did they get my information from? The creditor usually sends a set of minimum criteria to one of the three credit bureaus in preparation for a mail solicitation campaign. They request a list of consumers whose credit reports meet the qualifications. The bank may send a list of consumers obtained elsewhere (e.g. from a marketing database company) and have the bureau return a subgroup that matches the criteria. "Pre-approved" offers are then sent to everyone on the list. When you view your credit report, you may see inquiries that are designated as "promotional." This means that your file was checked for a "pre-approved" list, although it does not necessarily mean that you qualified to receive an offer. Since this type of inquiry was not initiated by you, it is not seen by other prospective creditors to whom you might apply, and will not reduce your FICO credit score. Well I recently received one of these pre-approvals in the mail. I figured I would apply since I am rebuilding my credit. I went online to apply, you get an answer within 60 seconds and this message that states "You have been approved! Your card will arrive in the mail soon." It didn't give me a credit limit or any other information. I receive the card in the mail the following week and lo and behold the credit limit was $250 with a $199 start up fee, which left my balance at $51! Are they crazy! Do they think I'm that desperate for a card that I will pay $200 for nothing? Needless to say I called the company immediately and kindly told the rep to cancel the card, at the same time cutting the card into a million pieces! Of course, she tried to reason with me with this script of how it's important to re build my credit and that this card would help me do it. She went on to compare paying the fees to paying college tuition. Gimme a break! She also said "Nothing is free, you have to pay." I'm thinking I have another credit card with a $2000 limit that I didn't have to pay any upfront fees! The morale of the story is to beware of these offers. READ everything in fine print and know how to discern these bogus cards from the real deal!!

Friday, August 1, 2008

Persistance will pay off

When I started my credit repair months ago, I was well aware that it would take time and a lot of patience. I felt like I was making progress with my situation. However, Experian is another story. After 5 letters, they have only deleted one account off my credit report. I'm referring to old paid off accounts that the statue of limitations is expiring soon anyways. Experian is being really tough, so I sent one final letter before filing a complaint with the FTC. (I think I mentioned them in a previous blog. ) If the credit bureau isn't cooperating and seemingly ignoring your requests, you can file a complaint with the FTC. Supposedly, the credit bureaus don't want any trouble from the FTC. Hopefully, I will see some positive results from this. Needless to say I am frustrated, but I am definitely keeping up the fight. I know I will reap big rewards in the end.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Black women and Marriage

The CNN Black in America segment about black women and marriage was disparaging. "Forty-five percent of black women in America have never been married, compared with 23 percent of white women," according to the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey in 2006. Among my circle of friends about 2 aren't married.It does make me wonder when I'm out in public. I was in a store and I noticed out of 4 White women three were wearing rings. However, when I saw a group of Black women only 2 were married. I believe one of the contributing factors is that black men don't value family and commitment. There is some inward fear of being attached and some suggest it started back in slavery. Whatever the reason, it doesn't offer hope to the millions of single black women waiting to meet Mr. Right.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008


Beware!!! You've seen the ads and if you look online, there are hundreds of companies promising to remove negative entries from your credit. Does it sound too good to be true? Well, it is. Nothing can be deleted from your credit unless it is an error. If you maxed out your credit card and think you can get the credit bureau to remove it without paying you're sadly mistaken. Before I was educated on credit, I actually paid one of these companies to remove negative items from my report. It works like this, you pay an upfront fee, usually around a few hundred dollars. The credit repair companies write letters on your behalf to the three credit bureaus who verify the information and send you an updated report in the mail. Once you receive your report , you send it to the company. I did this back and forth over the course of 4-5 months before I realized it wasn't going anywhere. Nothing was ever deleted from my report. They claim to have this secret technique to getting you a higher score. You can do everything they are doing if you learn how. There aren't any secrets to getting it done. Like I said before with a little patience and time, you are the best credit repair when it comes to fixing your credit.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Negotiating with Creditors know those people calling you at work and home numerous times a day. The ones that sometimes threaten with legal action or are very rude. They tell you things to scare you into paying. Which, by the way is against the law. We as consumers are protected under the Fair Debt Collections act against illegal harassment and threats from creditors. You can contact the FTC if you feel your rights have been violated. After your original bills have gone into default, they are sold to a collection agency. Their goal is to retrieve their money back, so can we really blame them? After all they are doing their job. I know they're annoying and sometimes you want to say "Is your credit perfect lady?" But if you hadn't not paid back the money they loaned you, they wouldn't be calling. Once you've decided you're going to clean up your credit, you may have to call and work out arrangements with the collection agencies or creditors. What I did was call and ask what amount could I settle for?They will offer you the option to make several payments or pay the full amount. I always paid the full amount on my bills. So for example, if you have a bill whose original amount was $500, they may settle as low as $250. Out of all the bills I owed, I was able to settle all with the exception of one company who wasn't budging on the amount. I paid that one last. When calling, be pleasant and non threatening. They want to know that you're really wanting to settle this debt. Once you have paid, ALWAYS request a paid receipt. Otherwise, how can you prove you actually settled the amount? There isn't really a scrip to follow when negotiating with creditors. If you're making the effort to pay, they're normally good with working out something with you. Don't be afraid, what do you have to lose? Nothing, but you have a whole lot to gain.


You're in over your head in debt, now what? I became worried and stressed out, but I soon recovered. What good was me worrying going to do, it wasn't going to change my situation. So I came up with a plan of action. First, I ordered my credit reports from the three bureaus, (Equifax, Experian, Transunion). Once I received my reports, I created a spreadsheet and calculated all my debt. I made a payment plan to how I would pay, how much and to who. I set aside a portion of my income to pay towards my debt. Now don't get overwhelmed by the amount you owe, which could be very high. You didn't ruin your credit in one day and you're not going to repair it in one day either. It takes time and a lot of patience to work through. I paid off the smaller bills first and then the larger ones I made several payments toward. Anytime, I received a bonus at work or got my income tax refund, I paid more bills. Any extra income or money went towards my debt. Every time I paid a bill off I was one step closer to financial freedom. You can too, don't wait put your plan of action in today

Sunday, July 20, 2008


Ignorance. It's plain and simple that bad credit comes from not being educated on credit and fully aware of how it affects your life. Many people today are living in apartments or with someone because their credit is not good enough to own a home. Did you know that half of U.S. adults received a failing grade for their knowledge of basic economic concepts? I grew up in a home where bills were paid on time and no one had bad credit. So what happened to me? I believe it starts in childhood, teaching children about bills and money and saving. In addition, giving allowances so that kids could begin understanding the concept of balancing and saving . As soon as I was handed money, I immediately spent it. I never saved a penny as a child and those bad money habits followed me into adulthood. I was financially irresponsible when it came to spending and saving. I paid a bill when I felt like it, not understanding the repercussions of not paying it on time. At the age of nineteen, I had become so consumed by debt, I contemplated bankruptcy. As I said in my previous post, I believe there should be a mandatory Credit 101 course for high school students. Rather, it shouldn't be an option but a required course. A startling stastistic: The number of 18 to 24-year-olds declaring bankruptcy has increased 96% in 10 years. Why do you think that is? Because they aren't being taught the basics of credit and the importance of it throughout life. Credit is so important that even jobs are running credit checks. I guess they figure if you aren't responsible in your personal life, how can you be a responsible employee. Just some food for thought. Even if you weren't educated a a child, it's never too late to start. It becomes important when purchasing homes, cars or other items. It definitely starts with taking control of your finances.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Does our life revolve around food?

Do we live to eat or eat to live? Everywhere you look from commercials, to ads to billboards you can't escape food! I understand food is a basic neccessity in life, but we are overly consumed by it. You can't drive within a mile radius without running into some fast food restaurant. You can't watch television without a mouth-watering commercial advertising some new dish at a restaurant. If you think about it, food takes up a lot of our time. When you wake in the morning and get dressed, what's one of the first things you think of? Food! The questions run rampant in our minds. What am I going to eat for breakfast, lunch, dinner? This is a daily routine of how we think. I am no better! I have attempted time and time again to do a liquid cleanse. However, it never fails I break down and eat something. Why?!!! Because I'm programmed to always want something in my mouth to eat. No wonder Americans are leading in obesity and falling behind in exercising. It's not only that we're overeating, but the food choices are unhealthy. Fried, greasy, high calorie, high carbohydrate food is going into our overweight, unhealthy, high cholesterol, high blood pressure bodies. What can we do to change? I think educating ourselves on the importance of healthy eating and knowing the long term effects of unhealthy eating. Also, just looking at the statistics of people dying before their time from a myriad of health diseases. There are so many illnesses and diseases that people are dying from at high rates. We have to get ourselves in order before it's too late. We have to realize our body is a temple and we should take great care of it and be thoughtful on what we put into our bodies. Make a change today!

What is FICO

FICO scores are your credit rating. FICO stand for Fair Isaac Corporation and is used by the three credit bureaus to determine your credit worthiness. When I first applied for my credit card as a college freshman, I had never heard of a FICO score. Which is why I firmly believe that high schools should implement a Credit 101 class for seniors. I believe it is very important to teach kids about credit so that they will make more sound financial decisions for their future. Here are a few key facts regarding FICO scores.
  1. They range from 300-850, higher is better
  2. Higer scores mean lower interest rates
  3. Scores calculated based on the following categories:

Payment history - 35%
Amounts owed - 30%
Length of credit history - 15%
New credit - 10%
Types of credit used - 10%

4. The median FICO score in the U.S. is 723

It is very important to use your credit responsibly in order to raise your score. Paying your bills ON TIME is foremost and important!!! When you do use your charge cards keep your balances low, high debt can affect your score. Also, do not apply for a lot of new accounts, which could rack up inquiries on your report. This has also affected scores as well. We have to be more informed and aware of our credit score and what's in our report. You can order your credit report once yearly. This is a good habit to get in and it's free! This is basic info that everyone should know to help in the long run.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Losing weight

I never had a problem with weight up until about 1 1/2 years ago. I was always able to eat what I wanted and not gain weight. Even after having a child, I didn't have the usual problems, I lost the weight within a few months, no stretch marks, nothing! Then 30 started creeping up. It seemed out of nowhere I gained 13 pounds give or take. Where the heck did it come from and why won't it leave? I know a lot of people would probably want to slap me, especially if they have fifty to one hundred pounds to lose. But this has been haunting me, I have been the same weight since high school. I have dabbled in different diets from the lemonade to the Fat Smash diet by Dr. Ians. Granted I have lost between 6-8 pounds, but have gained it back with poor eating habits. It's so hard to change a lifetime of eating poorly. I have to prove a point to myself that I can do it. I have to have confidence and discipline if I ever want to succeed.

The Basics of Credit

During these hard economic times, worry and fear grip many people. Rightfully so, gas prices are at an all time high, foreclosures are spiking every month, and Americans have a lot of consumer debt. We live above our means and charge everything. No wonder the total amount of consumer debt in the United States stands at nearly $2.5 trillion dollars Not many people have a full understand credit. I didn't either. My story began at the tender age of 17 when I received my first credit card offer in the mail. Eager and excited to have a good sum of money at my disposal, I mailed off the application on my 18 birthday. No one ever talked to me about credit or explained how important it would be in life. I thought having credit meant opening up a lot of accounts. So off I went opening up multiple charge accounts. I started out good paying the minimum balance, however, the more I charged the bigger the minimum balance became. I was taking out cash advances just to go out with my friends. Once my first card was maxed out, I started with the second even using that to pay the bill towards the first. Before long, both cards were maxed out and I didn't have a means to pay. I worked part-time and I had become overwhelmed by the mounting debt. To make a long story short, my credit was ruined! I really didn't think twice about it, what did I need my credit for? I lived at home, had a car that was paid off and hadn't planned on making any big purchases. I had never heard of the word FICO. Fast forward 6 years when I started my search for an apartment. No one would rent to me with horrible credit. As a result, I worked two jobs to pay down my debt. But that wasn't the end of my dilemma, just because my credit was now Paid it was still showing up as a negative account. I was oblivious of this information at the time. It took several more years once I got into the Real Estate field where I really learned all I ever needed to know about credit. It was then too that I started dating my husband Mr. Loan Officer. I never fully understood why he was so obsessed about his sqeaky clean credit history. We were from two different worlds, I was the financially irresponsble one and he was so on point and target about paying bills on time. This was me then, now I am a changed person. I have learned so much about credit and would love to share some tips I used to get my credit back on track. I will post a different topic every day as it relates to my journey to Rebuilding my credit.