The Big ‘D’, and I don’t mean ‘Dallas’

May 6, 2010

Want to hear something ironic? The Bible Belt is has the second-highest divorce rate in the country, following Nevada (hello, Britney Spears and drive-thru wedding chapels). Oklahoma falls within the top five states with the highest divorce rates. This is a very sad statistic. And while the failure of a once-happy union is bad enough, there are several other aspects of divorce which are just as crappy. Like bad credit.

So you said “I Do” and everything was peachy for awhile, maybe you had a couple of kids, maybe you didn’t. Something went wrong, and now you’re headed for divorce court. And your credit will go right down the tubes, unless you know what to do.

Get a copy of your credit report from each of the three credit agencies, TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian. Make sure you read over it carefully, and note any mistakes that you see, because they do happen (a lot). If anything is incorrect, dispute it as quickly as possible. Notify the credit agencies of the mistake; they will mail you a form to fill out, explaining the situation. If there’s something on the report that reflects negatively on you, and you really didn’t mean to mess up, you may write a letter and tell them what happened; this shows the creditor that you really ARE a good person, and that you’re trying to fix your mistakes. (This happened to me: when I graduated college, my roommates and I canceled all of our services – phone, cable, electric, etc., and happily moved on with our grown-up lives. Or so we thought: when I got my first credit report about four years later, it showed that I had an outstanding bill owed to Southwestern Bell; somehow it didn’t get canceled. Since it was in my name, it went on my credit report as a boo-boo. No amount of begging and pleading would fix it; I ended up writing a letter to the credit agencies, and paying the $64 bill. It’s finally gone, but it haunted me for years. But I’m not bitter toward Southwestern Bell. Really.)

If you’ve got any random credit cards that you don’t need now that you’re on your way to being single, get rid of them. I had a zillion cards for different stores at the mall, since my ex-husband made good money and I liked to shop. But with him out of the picture, I still tried to shop. And then realized that I couldn’t pay all of the bills on my own. And what did that do to my credit? Dragged it way down. Know how many random store credit cards I have now? One. Which means I owe ONE store, and not eight. It’s much easier that way.

If there are extra frivolous expenses that you know you can’t afford on your own, nix them. I had a subscription to “People” magazine. That’s what, $100 per year? My feeling was that since it was such a small amount, I could put it on the back burner. My household could still run without paying the “People” people; they wouldn’t shut off my electricity and I would still have hot water. What I didn’t count on was the “People” people turning me over to a collection agency for the measly 100 bucks. And guess what? It showed up on my credit report as a delinquency. I can’t stress this enough: pay your bills on time!

If you mess up your credit, whether it’s due to divorce or something else, Car Country can still help you get into a reliable used vehicle. That’s why we’re here. It’s more ideal to keep your credit score high, and don’t goof on making your payments (they WILL come after you!). But if something goes wrong in that perfect world, Car Country is still here to help. We know you need a car, and we can make that happen!

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