It was nearly a year ago that I wrote my post, “Arising From the Ashes of Credit Card Debt.”
Sure, within a couple of years of declaring bankruptcy, I was able to get a furniture loan and a car loan, but credit cards were unattainable. Not that I’m a fan of credit cards, mind you, but sometimes it helps to have one. What if there’s a major expense (like the washer breaks or the dog gets sick [from eating my brand new cell phone, but that’s a whole ‘nother story]) and there’s not enough money in the checking account to cover it?
Before my bankruptcy, I had nearly every credit card that was ever offered (gee, I wonder why I never saw bankruptcy in my future?). Years later, I could understand why companies I stiffed in bankruptcy would now be reluctant to grant me a new account. I did understand, I did.
So I went merrily on my way using only cash and a debit card and hoping nothing major would arise.
Recently, one of my co-workers refinanced with the same bank I use. The loan terms were incredible – low interest, and no closing costs or fees. I scoffed when my co-worker told me “no fees” – certainly, those would be rolled into the mortgage somehow. But I sat in on the loan closing, and guess what – NO CLOSING COSTS AND NO FEES!
After my colleague’s loan closing, I chatted with the loan officer. I had been struggling to pay one mortgage at 7% and a second one at 10% – plus two brand new construction loans at 9% and 10%, respectively – an interest rate under 4% would save me hundreds of dollars every month if I could roll all the balances into one loan.
But I didn’t have high hopes. Lenders definitely didn’t like me over the last few years.
The loan officer, like loan officers everywhere, was very confident and upbeat – yes, she could get that loan through! And quickly! How would I like to close in two weeks?
God bless the woman – she not only got my new mortgage through, and got me a few thousand dollars extra to use towards my ongoing construction costs, but she even managed to get me a brand new, “real” credit card through the same bank. This was funny as hell to me, because that same bank had rejected me for that exact same credit card just a month or two earlier.
So, here I am today – another card-carrying American citizen. I don’t know why having a major credit card makes me feel more worthy, but it does. When we had to stay in a motel for a night during the construction, it was so much easier to do so knowing I had some credit available.
For those who are concerned that I might slide back into the credit card jungle I recently crawled out of, let me just say that I am very careful using my new card. While I admit an urge to want to treat myself occasionally, I keep that under control so that I can pay the balance off each month.
Which is what I should have been doing years ago.
I learned my lesson the hard way. Let my readers learn from my mistakes: It takes a long, long time to come back from bankruptcy – best to avoid that in the first place, if you can. Enjoy the credit cards, but don’t go nuts with them.
Images by Cordelia’s Mom