Rant: Credit Score stupidity

First – why do I have to subscribe to a service to get my FICO score? Sure I can cancel within the trial period and pay nothing, but I’m naturally averse to promotions that are betting on you to screw up. I’m sure my realism cost me a few points.

Second – the credit reporting agencies threw a hissy fit with Fair Isaac and came up with some kind of new scoring system amongst themselves since I last checked. WTF??

Okay, now that I got that out of the way, I just blew $10 on my TransUnion credit score after getting my free report. Know what I found  out? My 837 puts me in the 65th percentile. Apparently credit scores and SAT scores have a lot in common – you get several hundred points for putting your name on the paper.

According to the apartment complex I’m trying to get into in Colorado, I need to be in the 75th percentile or better. There is nothing bad in that report – just a bunch of credit cards that I closed 8-10 years ago and my two current ones showing a debt ratio of about 12% (I let my mom use one of them to part-pay for my little sister’s wedding).

Is the lack of variety in my types of debt really worth 1/3 of my credit score?

How about giving me 50 points for living in NYC for 10 years and always paying my hideous 4-figure rent on time every month? After all, if I need a credit score to get the roof over my head, certainly my ability to pay for it should count!

How about giving me another 50 for financing all education since my BA (master’s degree, teaching certificate and now the Rolf Institute) out of my savings? And I got through undergrad at a private college with no parental contribution and no GSL/Stafford/Sallie Mae or whatever the kids are calling in these days. Just a Perkins – $6200 – paid it off 2 years early. 

So I’m too old for a student loan. I don’t have a mortgage and rent doesn’t count. I live in Manhattan and don’t want or need a car, so no car payments. The most expensive things I lust after are a plane ticket to Nairobi and an LCD TV, both of which I am capable of charging and paying off immediately. Even if I didn’t pay them off immediately, it’s still “only” credit card debt.

Correct me if I’m wrong folks…
If I buy anything that involves a payment plan, it boosts my score.
However, they do a credit check – which knocks points off my score.
Sounds like a zero-sum game to me, and yet I’m at 65%.

So I’m stewing in the juices of injustice (yes I’m getting melodramatic). I suppose I should expect this from a system that invented the concept of “good debt”.

5pm UPDATE:  Caved and did the free trial at scorewatch.com – at least they promise to warn you of the expiration of the free trial 3 days in advance. And the news was much prettier – a score of 797 out of 850. I’m in the 88th percentile. I still think I belong at 100% though. Hmph!

Back in NYC – but not for long

“We all have big changes in our lives that are more or less a second chance” ~ Harrison Ford

During my 6 weeks of “beginner rolfing” training, it came up more than once that things inside me are very sticky – my colon sticks to my psoas muscle, my pericardial sac to the lining of my chest cavity, a neck nerve to a brain membrane, all of my lumbar vertebrae to each other…the list goes on. It would appear that my body is freakishly in sync with my spirit – I’m STUCK. Have I tried to “unstick”? Of course I have – more than once and in more than one way. But things haven’t improved. [Warning: Possible overshare coming – skip to next paragraph if you’re not comfortable with that.] I am still alone and afraid of personal connections, I am still overweight, I am still taking Rx happy pills, and I’m still a semi-hermit. I am also still a massage therapist and still in New York City. Well how about changing three of those things completely and seeing if the others fall into place?

So I’m giving up the apartment that has been my home for 7+ years (they were raising me $75/month anyway). I’m walking away from my gasping massage practice. I am moving to Boulder in about 5 weeks and will remain there until I complete my certification – I’m guessing December. And I’m starting a rather bizarre diet plan in 10 days.

Now for the financial nitty-gritty behind all of this…

My Home Trade-down: I have a place in mind that’s available to move in next month on the 23rd. I’m trading my $2200/month (new rent that I refuse to pay) including utilities studio apartment for an $830/month + utils one-bedroom. I’m getting my current place inspected next week so that they can tell me what they think I’m responsible for and give me a chance to defend or fix without having it hit my deposit. Oh that’s right – new deposit is $300 and I’m hoping to get back my full $2125 security on this place.

The Move:  I’ll by flying either Frontier Classic or Southwest in order to get 2 x 50-lb bags checked free. I have gift cards for both from my non-massage job. One of my classmates has offered to come in with her pick-up truck and drive around getting furniture for free or cheap off Craigslist – ideal – because I am not bringing my things. My friend-sublettor is moving back into his place and doesn’t have a stick of furniture, so he’s more than happy to use or store whatever I want to keep for my return (bed, couch, trunk, massage table). The apartment complex I’ve got my eye on has offered me $200 off my first month’s rent if I sign on the dotted line by March 25. The plan is to furnish the place on that budget…yeah it might suck but it’s only 8 months. And I’m moving in at the same time the colleges break for summer…could work for a few of the things I need. Probably not a bed though…eww.

Income:  I won’t be hanging out my shingle for massage work. I will stick to my other job which should be just fine. I anticipate grossing $3K a month while needing $1700 for “bare bones” costs. I’m budgeting $300/month for self-care, which leaves me with $1000 to put towards tuition and that burdensome whole life policy. And if my half-plan comes off I’ll be working in Manhattan again in a year, earning the market rate (nearly double what I charge for massage now) and inching towards a healthy 6-figure income.

Tuition:  my last post mentioned having $9K out of $18K saved. Well I’ve paid up the $4K for the first part and it turns out I had $2K more set aside in my savings account than I thought, and I’ve added to it. So I’ve got 2/3 of the remaining $14K  tuition saved – and I’m getting that security deposit back to add to the pot. As much as I’d like to keep it set aside for my return, it’s a timing thing. I need it when I need it and I’ll earn & replace.

Couponing & Shopping:  I will be living around the corner from a Rite Aid – yay! And there’s a Safeway supermarket across the street from Rite Aid, which I believe is a good one for couponing.

Transportation:  I’m within walking distance of everything I need except the school, but I’m located right on the bus line. I hope my sister meant it when she said she’d lend me a bike – could use the exercise and Boulder is very cycle-friendly.

Possible Glitch:  This would actually be desirable. If I get bumped from the waiting list and onto the course that starts in a few weeks, I’ll be paying for my Manhattan apartment for 2 weeks without using it. Ouch. And flight prices could be as high as $450 for a one-way ticket – but Greyhound is feasible ($120), and after being subjected to sanctioned sexual battery by the TSA last week (thanks for the cameltoe-inducing enthusiasm, bitch – and no I’m NOT exaggerating), 44 hours on a bus with very strange people doesn’t sound awful.

And so it begins…the second half of my life. I have no idea if what I’m doing is right or wrong for me, but if it’s a mistake I’m the only one who will suffer – and pretty minimally at that. What’s the worst that can happen – I don’t like Boulder and quit the course? So I’m out a few bucks and a few months of my life. I’ve made much bigger mistakes (divorced from a crossdresser, remember?). This would be so much easier if it was a more dramatic change – I’m oddly wired to do that well (Japan, Scotland).