How I Raised My Credit Score By More Than 100 Points

Posted by LeTara Moore on Tuesday, December 5, 2017 Under: Credit

If you look through some of my older blog posts, you’ll see that my financial life hasn’t been ideal. The sporadic posts ought to be a clue to that. I’ve had success in working for myself, but when things got rough, they got rough. It is tough when you want to go a different route from working a “regular” job. I went to college for four years but never graduated (that’s a post for another time) and with all of my experience in retail in some capacity, it hasn’t been easy trying to break into a new field. Unfortunately, retail isn’t the best-paying industry to be in, although you can work your way up the ladder. I’ve always had this desire to be independent. No risk, no reward, right? This is true, but with risk there’s always the chance of setbacks. I’ve always kept a part-time job while I did a lot of independent work, but with Murphy’s Law, it felt like everything bad that could’ve happened, happened all within a short timeframe.

My credit score dropped to 464.

It was awful. Honestly, once the bills began piling up because my income wasn’t enough to cover all of my bills I stopped caring about my score. I barely had money to put gas in my car, so what did I care about a credit score? Then I became pregnant with my daughter, my mother needed surgery, the rent was past due (I chose to break the lease rather than risk an eviction) and I ended up working a job as a gas station cashier for $7.50 because, at that particular time, it was the best option. I knew for a fact I could make a few more dollars per hour at a different store, but I had security there knowing that I had transportation there (I couldn’t drive my car for a while) and I had a guaranteed paycheck every Friday, even if it didn’t amount to much. Before the year 2014 was over with, I owed roughly $1,200 in rent to a collection agency, I had several old credit cards and cash advances on my credit, I had fallen behind on my car payments, and to top it all off I owed more than $1,000 is traffic fines, which is another long story for another day. Altogether, it added up to less than $10,000, which really isn’t a huge amount of debt, but it was more than I could afford on $7.50.

Post-partum depression and a desperate need for a new beginning led me to move.

I literally dropped everything, packed as much of our belongings as I could fit in my car and moved myself and my newborn daughter out of state to where my sister and mom lived. Unfortunately, finding a new job wasn’t an easy task and it was difficult to stay optimistic. It took me nearly a year to find a job that I could/would keep. Heaven knows I’ve been through several, but I’ve had one part-time job that has been faithful for the past two years and have had two supervisors on that job that have at least acted as though they cared about my life. That’s a huge blessing!

The change began to take place in August 2016.

Upon the passing of a friend of mine, I had to reevaluate what I wanted to accomplish. When all else fails, I write. If I’m stressed, I write. When I’m happy, I write. When I feel creative, I write. I had decided earlier in the year that it was time to really pursue writing, so I began putting serious effort into blogging my creative work. When my friend passed away, I knew I had to publish my first book. I buckled down and got it done. However, there was still so much to be done as far as marketing and prepping for the next book. And in all of the motivational material I read and watched, I learned about something called The Law of Attraction. Regardless of what you may feel about spirituality or philosophy, it is undeniable that writing down your goals and intentions and applying positive affirmations can help in changing your situation into one you desire. Writing down what you want, making it clear, can help release whatever mental blocks you may have so you’ll be more open to recognizing opportunities that’ll put you closer to achieving your goals. I said that I was tired of being broke and I needed a change. I imagined what it would be like to have everything that I desired and began to think differently about my relationship with money. For me, it wasn’t actually having cash that I desire, but the security that comes along with having an abundance of cash. What all can I do with all of the money I desire? What else can I do aside from pay bills and die? Having a home is essential, but outside of that, what is my purpose? Once I figured out what was motivating me, things began to take a turn.

I found support and gained knowledge.

There’s a woman named Tiffany O. Aliche and she calls herself the Budgetnista. I came across one of her posts on social media about her financial ups and downs and how she overcame her obstacles and I was inspired. From that post, I learned that she also had a group on Facebook called Dream Catchers: Live Richer, so I joined. What of wealth of information there was to receive from this group of like-minded people! Everyone was so encouraging. I kept seeing posts from members excited about paying off credit cards, purchasing homes, and reaching their savings goals. I wanted to share my good news, too! The only thing stopping me was that I, first, needed to get some good news. For a while, I just followed the posts in the group, still a little discouraged because I thought in order for me to become financially free like some of these people, I had to pay off all of the negative (and there was nothing but negative) that was on my credit report. How happy was I when I learned I was wrong!

I learned to dispute negative marks.

I didn’t dispute anything by myself at first. After browsing Dream Catchers I learned of a service called CollectionShield360 (CS360). CollectionShield360 is a service that disputes negative marks on your credit on your behalf and it is totally free. The only time you would pay anything would be if the dispute resulted in you receiving a refund or judgment from, then CS360 would take a percentage of whatever that amount is. I allowed them to do their work and they removed 3 negative items from my credit and I didn’t pay a dime. My score was raised from 464 up to around 480. Not much change, but it was a start. Using Credit Karma I disputed a couple of more things and had them removed, which actually caused my credit score to drop a few points (I later learned about the effects of closing and removing accounts regardless of whether they’re negative.) 

I started my journey to build credit.

After spending some more time in Dream Catchers, I learned about Self-Lender. From Self-Lender’s website “Self Lender helps you responsibly build credit. Self Lenders (our "users") get credit monitoring and the opportunity to apply for a credit builder account. A credit builder account can help you establish credit history and save money in a safe, responsible way.” Basically, the credit builder account is a CD (Certificate of Deposit) that has been loaned to you and you repay it. Once you finish paying the loan, you can cash out your CD or you can start all over again with a new CD. I signed up for a Self Lender account in March of 2017 for their smallest loan of $550 because I could comfortably afford the $48.50 payments every month. I didn’t have to do a credit check and I only paid a small $12 administrative fee to get started. In May, Self Lender was reported on my credit and my score increased from 485 to 537, though it wasn’t Self Lender alone that raised my score. I applied for a credit line with Fingerhut and was granted a $150 Fresh Start account. I purchased an item for less than $100, paid it off quickly and by August my credit score was 580. Still pretty low, but a huge jump from 464. From November 2016 to August 2017 I raised my score more than a hundred points. That felt like such an accomplishment! After I paid off the initial purchase, Fingerhut upgraded my account from a Fresh Start to their Advantage Account and gave me a line of $400. I figure, once I pay off my most recent purchase, I’ll get another increase.

I qualified for more credit.

Another thing I learned from Dream Catchers is something called the “Shopping Cart Trick.” It really isn’t a trick, it’s just a way to check if you’re already prequalified for certain credit cards and it only works with stores who offer financing through Comenity Bank. You can learn more about it here. There are a couple of other banks that you can try, but I’ve only been successful with Comenity-issued cards. Either way, in order to be pre-approved for any card, you still have to fit a certain credit profile. I was able to get approved for several store credit cards. Although limits are small, less than $300, once they were reported to my credit, my score jumped from 580 to 630! This was because the number of my positive accounts increased and my credit utilization decreased due to the additional lines of credit. I was also pre-approved for an unsecured credit card that doesn’t have the best interest rates (I’m holding out until my credit is a little stronger so I can apply for credit with a major bank) and a low starting limit. I wasn’t going to accept it at first, but later changed my mind when I thought about my end goals.

I try to stay up to date and take every opportunity to educate myself.

One of my favorite television shows is Shark Tank. I love it because I like to see how rich people think and make business decisions, especially in a spur of the moment when they’re presented with various business opportunities. Obviously, rich people don’t think like people who are in my situation or the situation I was in before, otherwise, they wouldn’t be rich.  My goal is to be wealthy, and in order for me to reach that goal, I had to first learn to change the way I thought. None of this would have been possible if I had not changed my mind about how I felt about money and why I wanted to be successful, aside from the fact that I was just tired of struggling—which should be reason enough.

Going back to what I said earlier about the Law of Attraction, there is some truth to the statement that you attract what you are. If your life is a mess, it is likely that you’ll continue to attract more mess until you clean it up. It helps to surround yourself with people and things that keep you in a state where you’re constantly reminded of what you want and how to get it. For me, it was the Dream Catchers group on Facebook. I’ve joined other groups where the focus is on financial security and credit repair. I read articles and watch videos on investing, saving, financial products, and credit. I take in other people’s testimonies and applaud them while I encourage myself that I’ll get there one day. It has taken me a year to raise my score by more than 160 points and it has been a hard-fought battle. There’s still a long way to go before I reach my goal of 750, but I am well on my way. I’m far from a credit expert, but this year has seen so much growth as far as finances are concerned. And that is something to be proud of!

In : Credit 

Tags: credit  credit repair  money  finance  financial security 
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About Me

LeTara Moore Since 2005 I have made thousands of dollars online. I've tried almost everything from paid surveys, paid to click, freelance writing, mystery shopping, merchandising and more. I am always looking for new ways to make money. Now I'm a mother and I have even more reason to go further in my online adventures. The focus of this site is not only to show some of the easier ways to make a little extra cash, but also to journal some of the ups and downs of side-hustling and attempting to work for myself. Most of what I post probably won't make you rich, but it will be something to help ease some of the financial strain and won't take too much time. I love to read and write and I also run a blog that showcases my creative writing. I really enjoy learning and I find the best way for me to learn is to share what I've gained with others. DISCLAIMER: Many of the links I post are affiliate links, meaning I may receive financial compensation as a result of click-thrus and signups. However, I only post links to websites and programs I trust and I provide honest feedback. I only post my honest experiences with any site I promote.

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