Due to a flub on a certain company’s part – the whole, “employee steals info for countless thousands of accounts” kind of flub – I had to go put a fraud alert out on my credit tonight. Equifax kind of blew at that process; after spending 5 minutes answering random questions on their automated hotline, they politely informed me they were unable to access any reports with the information I provided. Well screw you then, Equifax! I went to Experian’s website instead, and they had a form to fill out right there that worked just fine. So that’s taken care of now, and even better is I got a peek at my current credit report in the process. No damage appears to have been done. In fact, it’s nice to see the amount of progress I’ve made since the beginning of 2006 when I really started keeping on top of things.
On a mostly-related note, I can definitely say this: if you come across some spending power, sit on it until you really need it. Don’t think that just because some place gave you a $1,600 credit line you can go run out today and buy a shiny new object x unless you’re absolutely sure you’re pulling in enough money to make more than the minimum payment each month. I made this mistake multiple times over the course of three years before it all caught up to me, and I and ended up in pretty bad shape for awhile. We’re talking going paycheck to paycheck, skipping a payment on one bill to make a late payment on another, completely draining the bank account midway through the pay period because of the sheer amount of crap that needs to be paid each cycle, things like that. Not only was it not fun, but the money to do constructive things in my life like fixing the air conditioning in my truck or taking classes at the community college simply wasn’t there.
As easy as it would be to do, I find it impossible to blame the credit card companies or the “instant gratification” society for my current predicament. There were many decisions made that could have prevented a few snowflakes from becoming an avalanche, and I chose not to make them in the name of screwing around and playing video games until 5am. My thought is… there are poor people, and there are stupid people. The poor people are the ones who do everything right, but through one circumstance or another, have difficulty making ends meet. And the stupid people are the ones like me who start out fine, then spend every last available dollar on dumb shit – new computers, DVD box sets, video games, you name it. Some things you’re better off learning the hard way… and that’s part of why, two months from my 27th birthday, I’m still chasing after a college degree.