Is a Bad Credit Rating a Good Thing?

Could a bad credit rating save you from bigger problems? It has done just that for many young people. How can this be? I'll start with a true story.

A Good Credit Rating Story

A friend, whose name I will withhold, started his adulthood with good credit. He soon was able to get credit cards at will, and finance cars, snowmobiles and more. He managed to make the payments on his debt, and went deeper and deeper into debt while he was at it. By the time he was 30 years old, he had over $20,000 in credit card debt, plus loans on cars and business tools.


It was too much to handle. He considered bankruptcy, but was convinced that the credit card companies would reduce his balance due if he just threatened to do so. First, though, he had to stop paying on the cards, or the credit card companies wouldn't believe he was in financial trouble. He did this, then drafted a nice letter to the companies, explaining his situation. Most of them cut at least 30% off what he owed, provided he paid the remaining balance immediately. This he did with a home equity loan.


In the end, his bad credit rating wasn't as bad as if he had actually declared bankruptcy, so he was able to rebuild his credit score. He has also begun to rebuild his credit balances. His good credit rating has enabled him to begin again the stressful process of overburdening himself with debt.


A Bad Credit Rating Story

Another friend of mine had her first credit rating based on the phone bill in her first apartment. She didn't ever pay the phone bill on time, and it was eventually disconnected. This, and a few other minor credit infractions when young destroyed her credit scores. What has this meant?

She can't borrow, so she hasn't had the pleasure of being at the edge of bankruptcy. She can buy things for cash when she has it, or wait until she does. Has this inability to have a bunch of things around that are worth a fraction of what she owes on them made her a less happy person? The opposite is true, in my opinion. She just doesn't have the debt-stress that is so typical today.

Is Bad Credit Good?

I am not recommending that you purposely try to get a bad credit rating, but if you already have one, it isn't all bad. The habits that got you there would probably get you into even more trouble if you could borrow more. Look at it as an opportunity to stop going further into debt, and a chance to learn better habits.

Start paying cash for everything. Pay down those credit card balances (the higher interest ones first). The moment you get those cards paid off, start setting aside money to buy a good used car for cash. When you've done that, start putting what would have been a car payment into a savings account, for a future down payment on house or a business (the only things you should borrow for). A bad credit rating can be good thing, if you take it as a lesson and an opportunity.