Family! Can’t Live With Them, Can’t… Well, You Know…

July 28, 2016


I once had a conversation with a young lady that was buying her first home.  At least she thought she was.  But as the process continued, her lender called her to explain that she was going to have to sell her house in another state before she could qualify for the new loan.  She wasn’t aware she owned a home any where, but a little digging found that the home had been purchased in her name when she was only 6 months old.  The real buyer had even kept up the payments until recently. Read the rest of this entry »

10 Questions – Are You Ready to Buy a Home?

March 3, 2016

I love Spring! The snow is melting. The days are getting longer. I wake up in the morning to hear the birds chirping outside my window. My tulips are even popping up along the west side of the house. I am getting antsy to get outside more. My kids are definitely getting antsy to get outside more. Even my wife (not so much an outdoorsy kind of person) is ready for it to be nice out.

You know who else is getting antsy? Anyone thinking about buying a home. Here in South Dakota, the winter brings a normal lull to home-buying. After all, who wants to move in the middle of a blizzard? But now that it’s getting nice out…..

While we encourage home ownership for anyone that is ready, willing, and able, we also realize that there are two groups that should not be so antsy about moving. First, there are those who don’t want to own a home – and that’s ok. Second, there are those who want to own, but just aren’t ready. Read the rest of this entry »

Go Ahead. Play Around With It.

December 22, 2015


“I’m going to play with my credit score a little.”

“WHAT?!?  You’re just going to play around with it?  Do you know how much impact your credit score can have on your life?  Landlords, loans, employment, insurance rates.  It is a huge deal and you’re just going to ‘play around’ with it?!?  I thought you were more responsible than that.  Your credit score is not something to be taken lightly!”

Read the rest of this entry »

Keep It Stupid Simple

September 18, 2015

You’ve probably heard the K.I.S.S. acronym before.  I’ve heard it spelled out a few different ways over time, but the way I like to use it is Keep It Stupid Simple.  Before anyone freaks out, I’m not calling anyone stupid.  Were I going to do that, I’d probably have to start with myself depending on the day…  and I don’t want to go there.  No, it’s simpler than that. Read the rest of this entry »

Better Than Billy at Back to School

August 31, 2015

This week all of our blog posts will be following a ‘Back to School’ theme from the perspective of each of our departments.  Check back each day for something new.  For today, it’s the Center for Financial Resources….

“Back to school. Back to school, to prove to Dad that I’m not a fool. I got my lunch packed up, my boots tied tight, I hope I don’t get in a fight. Oh! Back to school… back to school… back to school. Well, here goes nothing.” – Billy Madison Read the rest of this entry »

Dealing With “THE CALL”

June 23, 2015

“Pay NOW or else!”

“Or else what?”

“Or else we will have you arrested, have your kids taken away, tell your friends and family how bad you are at paying what you owe, publish your debts in the local newspaper, continue to call at all hours of the night, notify your employer that you owe us a lot of money, and whatever else it takes to get you to pay up instead of being a @#(!%……” Read the rest of this entry »

The Wrong Side of the Credit Road

June 9, 2015

A few years ago, my dad was headed to my grandparents’ farm.  That trip involved about a mile and a half of hilly gravel road.  As he crested the top of the tallest hill, he met an oncoming vehicle that was traveling square down the center of the road.  If you drive gravel roads at all, you know that’s a bad place to be on a hill.  My dad was to his right and the other driver swerved to their right, nearly missing my dad.  She went over the top of the hill in her direction and he went on in his own direction.

A short time later, the sheriff’s deputy showed up in the farmyard and started asking my car accidentdad a lot of questions.  As it turns out, the other driver in his near-miss had gone in the ditch and rolled her car after crossing the top of the hill.  She was claiming that some madman had run her off the road.  After my dad quickly explained his version of the story, the deputy assured him he shouldn’t have any trouble.  “We know her.  I’d believe your story.  She has a history with us.”

That was the last my dad heard of the incident.  A driver had gone off the road, rolled her car, and claimed it was my dad’s fault.  And he never heard anymore about it.  Why?

It’s all about the history.

As you might expect, we see quite a few clients who are struggling to rebuild their credit history.  “But, I don’t plan on buying a house any time soon (if ever),” people argue.  “And I’m fine driving old cars that I pay cash for.  I don’t need to worry about my credit.”

Let’s talk about who all uses your credit report:

  • Lenders – Anyone looking to lend you money, even for a simple credit card.
  • Landlords – They want to know your payment history and if you are likely to pay rent on time.
  • Service Providers – From utilities to cell phone companies, they also want to know the likelihood of getting paid.
  • Employers – Current and potential, if you are going to be handling their money, they want to know what level of temptation you may have to help yourself.  More and more, they are also checking the credit history of employees’ spouses.
  • Government Licensing – looking to get a professional license that the state issues?  They’ll want to know your history first.
  • Insurance Companies – It’s all risk management for them and your credit report is one way they will evaluate that.  Better history, lower insurance payments.

Yep.  Even if you don’t plan on getting a loan, there is a lot riding on your credit report.  This is probably something you should pay attention to.  If your credit report needs some attention, there are a few ways you can go about doing that.  Let’s take a look at your options:

Do it yourself

To be completely transparent, ANYTHING that can be done to fix your credit report, you can do yourself for free.  Go to to get your free credit report.  There are even links right in the online report to begin the dispute process for any negative items that are old or incorrect.  It very well may take more work than that to get everything straightened out, but you certainly can do it yourself for free.

Non-Profit Counseling

This is where we come in.  In a credit report counsel, we pull your credit report and then educate you on what it says, what it means, and what you can do to fix it.  We aren’t going to do it for you, but we will give you direction and accountability if you like.  We can also help with budgeting as fixing your credit report is probably going to take some extra money.

While costs between agencies may vary, our cost for a credit report counsel is $35, although if you are looking to buy a home, we have grant funds available from Wells Fargo to cover the cost of your appointment.

Credit Repair Company

Still overwhelmed with the whole process?  There are for-profit companies that will take your information and do all of the work for you.  They will take care of disputing items and filing paperwork to clean up your report.  Just be aware that, while it is the highest level of service, they are for-profit and will charge you for that service.  We have had clients come to our office after paying $1,000 or more to such a company.

Which ever direction you choose to go in repairing your credit, remember that anything that can be done to fix your credit can be done by you for free.

If you would like to know more about your credit report or how credit works, the counselors at the Center for Financial Resources would be happy to help.

Just remember – your future is counting on you having your credit report on the right side of the road.  Start repairing it now before you have your own near-miss.

written by Breck Miller
image courtesy

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