Asking the Wrong Personal Finance Questions, Repeatedly

April 22, 2010 by  
Filed under Debt and Credit

I scan the headlines of dozens of personal finance blogs each day. Occasionally, I actually read the article behind the headline. There is one headline that I see repeatedly across the personal finance blogosphere: “How to Improve Your Credit Score.” I never read those articles. The reason is that I don’t like the question presented by this “how to” teaser.

Unquestionably, we are credit-driven economy. Borrow-and-spend is part of our collective mindset. That has led to an unhealthy focus on credit scores, which have permeated many aspects of our personal financial lives. We now spend too much mental energy trying to manipulate FICO scores. The credit industry returns the favor by manipulating us, including inducing us to pay to learn what our credit score is.

Think about that for a second. The credit industry and its allies compel us to turn over confidential financial information about ourselves. They then use that information to calculate a credit score that is designed to induce us to use more credit. Then they charge us to find out what the score output is from crunching the numbers – our numbers. In between, other businesses secretly use our credit scores to deny us employment or increase our insurance premiums.

I don’t like any of it. So you won’t read any posts from Mr. ToughMoneyLove about how to improve your credit score. In my opinion, that is the wrong question to present. What you should be asking instead is “How do I save more and borrow less?” If you correctly respond to that question, your credit score should improve. If it doesn’t, the score is a false idol and should be rejected as being a manipulative personal finance goal.

Yes, I am a contrarian. I think there is a right way and a FICO way. Rarely do those “ways” align. So I’ll go with what makes sense. What’s wrong with that?

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One Response to “Asking the Wrong Personal Finance Questions, Repeatedly”
  1. You are so right about the personal finance questions regarding the credit credit score. I feel that consumers should do just the opposite of what the FICO recommendations are. How bizarre is the rule that if one closes an account then the person’s score is negatively affected? Too BAD! I settled all my cards and I am proud to be punished for 7 years. I have one card with a limit of $300 and I pay it in full if I use it. I have managed to save $40K over the past two years. I only buy what I can afford. My car is 10 years old.

    I know we need borrowing power but we should organize a consumer revolt for radical change. Tired of being ripped off!

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