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Everything is going right
The morning Florida sun was bright and warm on our faces as Stephanie beamed. “This is the place!”. We hadn’t seen each other since high school, but her husband was now a recruiter for the USMC and getting stationed near me in Central Florida. “Awesome” I gave her a big hug, “this complex is in such a good area and the view from the kitchen is amazing!”
Back at the main office, I surfed Facebook relieved that we could have a fun day, when I heard Stephanie over at the table gasp and in a frustrated voice cried “You don’t understand, I’m here from 29 Palms in California for the weekend, I have to find a place NOW”.
I looked across the room and saw her cheeks aflame in embarrassment and eyes wet. Given how close we once were, I ran over and asked what was wrong.
Until it goes wrong
“John and I are screwed because that jerk ruined my credit before we divorced YEARS ago”. She cried. Slowly I got the story, between her stressful sobs. Stephanie had a low credit score from her and (mostly) her ex-husbands bad choices over four years before. Now the apartment complex had denied her application. And because it was the weekend her offer of a larger deposit couldn’t be approved until corporate looked it over Monday.
Stephanie thought because of her husband’s 10-year history in the Marine Corps, the fact they had a good savings and had NO debt meant that it would prove they would be good tenants. “but we have no debt, owe no one anything, all our income is ours!” was the complaint she huffed with confusion at lunch.
As a Military family, your credit score really matters.
Even if you have $100,000 in savings, a bad credit score will still matter. Personally, I agreed with Stephanie, shouldn’t the fact that they have no debt and steady jobs matter most?
But that is not how the world operates.
To a private landlord with a house or two, will maybe rent to you with a bad score. But in the real world the quick answer of whether you get the rental or some jobs comes down to a number. And when you are a military family, quick is what you need. As a military family, you may only have a day to find a place to live or one shot at an interview for a job.
There is already so much uncertainty as a military family, why add to it with credit score issues?
What is your credit score made of?
A score created by a few companies based on your credit history among other factors for companies to quickly tell how “credit worthy” you are.
It is a combination of:
- Length of the credit history: The longer the history you have the better
- History of payments: No late payments, all accounts current
- Percent of credit used (credit utilization): The less credit you use the better, aim for no more than 30%
- Total accounts: Do you have 15 credit cards or 5? Are they all maxed out, or none used at all?
- Derogatory Marks: Did you have a charge off of an account? Did you stop paying on an account for a few months?
The simple thing to do now!
Watch your credit score! It really is that simple. Do you know what your score is? What about your husbands? Do you have incorrect information on your credit report? You can pull your full credit report for free once a year at each of the credit bureaus, TransUnion , Equifax and Experian.
You can go right to the horses’ mouth and use the TransUnion Credit Monitoring services like I do. You can see what the landloards and banks see and base your “credit worthiness” on, but also make sure what is on your report is really for you.
Did Stephanie get the apartment?
Finally YES! But with two days of STRESS. The manager let her sign the paperwork and leave a check for the increased deposit that Saturday morning. So corporate could look it over Monday and approve or deny it. Monday, she flew all day back to California in limbo and got the happy approval call Tuesday for the amazing apartment. Now all she had to do was move cross-country, a PCS piece of cake!