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The 10 Plagues of Bad Credit

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You may not even realize the impact bad credit has on your life, but if you take a close look, you’ll see that it is likely costing you money, time and even relationships.

In the Old Testament, the people of Egypt suffered 10 plagues because Pharaoh wouldn’t allow Moses to lead his enslaved people away. Today, we may not have to worry about locusts or boils but there are 10 plagues that we can face when enslaved by bad credit. Check out this list and consider which ones are impacting your life right now (or may impact your life in the near future) and take action to turn your credit around.

1. Lack of access to money. Sometimes life throws a curve-ball and you end up unexpectedly needing money, perhaps to pay off a medical emergency or to help out a loved one in need. Bad credit reduces your access to money, which makes you more vulnerable during emergencies.

2. Higher interest rates. When you are able to borrow money in spite of bad credit, lenders consider you a “higher credit risk” and charge a premium to lend money. Higher interest rates can add hundreds, thousands, or even tens of thousands of dollars onto a loan! This takes money out of your pocket that could be spent on other things.

3. Higher down payments. Borrowing money (especially for the purchase of a house or a car) frequently comes with a down payment requirement. And lenders may require a higher down payment from higher credit risks — which can be challenging if money is tight.

4. Risk of job loss. Many employers are now checking their employees’ credit reports. In highly competitive jobs, or among employers who feel that negative information on a credit report may lead to employee theft, bad credit can risk the loss of a promotion, a raise, or even a job!

5. Risk of relationship failure. (Part 1) As people become aware of the importance of credit scores, more and more new couples are bringing up the topic of credit scores early in a relationship to help them see if the person they are getting together with is financially stable.

6. Risk of relationship failure. (Part 2) Bad credit can also lead to relationship failures in other ways: When turned away from banks, people who need money may turn to friends and family to borrow money. Although convenient, this comes at a very high cost — often, the end of the relationship.

7. Lack of mobility. When struggling with bad credit, mobility becomes an issue: Airplane tickets or rental cars can no longer be purchased with anything other than credit cards; cars cannot be bought; high-priced car repairs and fuel and car insurance cannot be acquired. This, in turn, can impact the rest of your life.

8. Lack of disposable income. When you are busy paying off old debt, maxed out credit cards, higher interest and higher down payments, your disposable income is reduced. That means you can’t enjoy the nice things you want to own.

9. Increased stress. Bad credit steals the enjoyment from life. You fear the telephone ringing because it might be a debt collector; you fear using your credit card because of the humiliation of it being declined; you go without because you don’t have the money to buy the things you need.

10. Lack of life improvement. This one is among the most frustrating plagues of them all! Bad credit can keep you from making improvements in life: It might keep you from getting a job, or it might keep you from getting a car so you can get to your job, or it might keep you from going back to school to get retrained for a higher-paying job. Bad credit holds you back.

Bad credit is costly. It keeps you from enjoying life and it enslaves you to a debt cycle from which is can feel difficult to break free.

Fortunately, you don’t have to be stuck in this rut forever. With a little willpower, you can make some simple, positive changes in your life to adopt new habits and turn your life around. Bad credit costs you; good credit frees you! Check your credit reports at least three times a year — you can get yours for free once per year from each of the credit reporting agencies. You can also check your credit-building progress for free once per month using Credit.com’s Free Credit Report Card.

Image: iStockphoto

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