Everyone thinks being debt free is awesome; believe me I was in the same boat. But when an opportunity for a new dream apartment came up, I was turned down because apparently the next renter had better credit than me. By having little or no debt, the U.S. credit system rewarded me by lowering my credit score and taking a gigantic dump on my spirit.
Let me explain. Growing up it wasn’t difficult to see that credit debt ruins people’s lives. I didn’t have to look far to see my brother load up his credit card as if it were free money only to see himself in debt later – ruined, depressed and completely out of touch with any sense of hope. Or my mother, who continuously struggled to make ends meet, constantly relying on the good ol’ plastic cards to put food on the table and to make just enough money to pay down a fraction of the interest accrued every month.
Nobody could persuade me I needed to have the newest flat screen TV or the latest Apple product – and charge it all on the card. I made it my priority to stay away from credit cards and other forms of debt by paying for things only when I had the money to do so. That meant saving the $1200 for my new flat screen TV when I wanted it and purchasing my vehicle outright when the old, passed-down beat-up Volvo that cost me twice the money in repairs than it’s worth. I’m happy to say that I’ve been able to manage pretty much all of my purchases without requiring any type of credit assistance up to this moment.
That hasn’t always been the case. When time came to put myself through school, I borrowed money from the government for which I am still grateful today. Thus I have at least one line of credit today which remains (unfortunately, or maybe fortunately?) Prior to cutting up my last credit card, I needed at least two to finance my rather frugal life style at the time. Life wasn’t easy, even though the credit cards were a godsend they quickly amounted to large sums of debt with increasingly scary interest fees.
I knew that if I wanted to save any kind of money I had to eliminate my credit cards, and so it became my mission. “Spend not what have not” – became my motto and I’m glad to report it actually worked. Years later I had zero credit card debt, a simple student loan which I almost forget about now that the payments come out automatically and I am not struggling.
Life was peachy, or so I thought. No credit card debt = no problem right? Right… oh wait, no!
The day I was denied
Being a city dweller and a constant mover has never allowed me to focus on saving money for a home purchase, yet alone deciding where I want to live. You see, I’ve been a renter this whole time and came accustomed to getting what I want, where I want.
This being said, the last two years have been hell!
The place I moved to seemed perfect … on the day I moved… haha, no seriously. The next day it was a living hell hole. Loud neighbor kids kept me awake while the extreme heat made the overpriced dump of a place impossible to occupy during peak sun hours. It was time to move.
I started searching for apartments in a bit of a nicer area with a slightly higher budget this time. In Southern California it is impossible to find a perfect place at a reasonable price. So when I found a place that was ten-fold the quality of my current drain of despair at nearly the same price who would blame me for getting excited?
I rushed out to stop at the open house and quickly fell in love with the new place. Put down a deposit on the spot and turned in an app thinking this place is mine for sure. I was so confident and excited to move in – because surely there was nothing to stop that from happening, right? Wrong!
Being a responsible adult who lives more efficiently and debt-free than most people I know has actually led me to a path of low credit score. My application was rejected and the place was rented out to someone else simply because I chose to make my purchases in cash. Surely I could get another place that’s crawling with roaches but has working air, but this was the place I had been excited for. This was a true gem!
The same system that’s designed to help people finance purchases was used to deny the purchase of my choice – a lease on a place I wanted.
Thank you so much, credit system! Thanks a ton for encouraging me to take up new debt and improve my credit score! Thank you for not allowing me to live debt-free and enjoy my purchases upfront!
Is it fair to say that the system of credit was designed to enslave people into continuous debt? I think so.
How come mortgage payments count toward your credit score while rental history doesn’t? How does that make sense? Why does the responsible adult who seeks to pay in cash but cannot afford a large purchase have to suffer?
This just doesn’t sit well with me. How is the debt slave allowed to make purchases I am not? The system is imperfect. It separates the irresponsible from the honest people who pay on time, yet segregates a group of people who choose to have the money at the time of purchase instead of financing. No one should be rejected for choosing to opt out of credit card use, mortgage payments and cell phone plans.
Sometimes it helps to be dependent on credit lines. For the fortunate ones who seek to follow my footsteps – learn a lesson, build up your credit even though you don’t need to. Pay those absurd credit card fees, buy the latest products, become synonymous with consumerism and waste – after all that’s what credit cards are for: spending.