Well with only two and a half months left there is no way I will reach 700 on Equifax. Although I did break 700 with the MyFICO TU98 score.
Where I'm at now
I've still got two negative items on my reports, both are collections agencies.
EQ and TU have identical reports with one exception, EQ reports Palisades as an actual account with a 120-day+ late payment history.
These collection accounts are due to age off in January and February. Other than these I have no other derogatory accounts, so in March of 2011 my credit report should officially be blemish free.
Since I started working on my credit in March of this year I've seen a huge improvement as a couple other baddies aged off and I got some new healthy accounts under my belt. Unfortunately, I'm not going to join the 700 club this year.
Because of bad decision making on my part I got in way over my head in credit card debt about 9 years ago. With no financial security or support at the time, and without fully understanding how important credit will be to my life I just said f--k it and let all of my accounts go to collections. To this day I do not answer the phone at my home because only creditors call that number.
For the last 6 years or so I've enjoyed a relatively stable financial life. With zero credit I've learned how to live on cash, and cash alone. Looking back, this culmination of stupidity and arrogance has been an excellent lesson on how to live within one's means.
Since all of my debts were legitimate, but old and beyond the California Statute of Limitations there was only one plan that made any sense: let them all age off. Don't do anything that could bring down the lion or re-up the last-activity dates.
For the last three years, about once a year I've been checking my credit report estimating when the last of the bad accounts were going to start aging off. Early this year I figured that the last bad accounts were going to be gone by the middle of 2011, so it was finally time to take action and get on the path to good credit.
How I've been working on my credit score
I started here at MyFICO, by checking my scores, signing up for the Equifax Score Watch service, and reading... reading, reading, reading and more reading. These forums have taught me everything I know about credit. I've logged 6,967 minutes (4.8 days) on these forums so far.
I then went to Wells Fargo and got approved for a $300 secured card. At first this didn't help my score at all, in fact it dropped 11 points the day it reported. But in the long run this was the best credit move I could make.
Less than three months later, with a new healthy active account under my belt I pulled the trigger on the Chevron/Texaco gas card and got approved for a $350 unsecured limit. By all accounts it's a crappy little card with a terrible APR and a low limit, but it was my first unsecured card in nearly a decade, and it saves me 10¢/gallon so I was happy to get it.
My score had gone up 12 points when I applied for the gas card (1 point above my starting score). Low and behold, getting the gas card saw my score shoot up 24 points the day it was reported. I believe because the bad balance on my report was finally less that my available credit.
Three months after that I got a pre-approval from Citi for a Platinum Select MasterCard. I figured "no freak'n way" they'd give someone with my score a prime card, but I decided to pull the trigger. I got an instant approval with a $2,000 unsecured limit. I absolutely love my Citi card and am very greatful to Citi for pulling me out of sub-prime hell.
Where I'm at now
Right now I have 3 inqs on EQ and 2 on TU. My oldest account was opened 9 years and 10 months ago (sole survivor of my stupid age). My average age of accounts is 2 years. I have 4 accounts total and just under $3,000 in credit. And in the next 3-4 months I will have a perfectly clean report.
At this moment my Equifax FICO score has gone up 35 points and my TransUnion FICO score has gone up 53 points.
Where I'm going
740 FICO SCORE BY 2012!
I hope to get a Costco AMEX after the baddies fall off, but that's going to be a hit or miss. If they really do back-date the account to the Costco membership date then that account will be back-dated to 2003 which will be a very nice boost to my AAA. Probably dreaming, but that would just be fantastic.
Thank you MyFICO community!
Don't say you failed; say you didn't quite reach the goal you had set.
Goals are nice to have because they can focus our attention but don't let it get you down if you fall a little short of a particular goal. It sounds like you know what needs to be done and how to get there.
Keep your focus and you'll do fine IMO.
From a BK years ago to:
EX - 9/09 pulled by lender 802
EQ - 7/06-663, 3/10-800, 10/10-813
TU - 10/10-774
You can do the same thing with hard work
Congratulations on your progress. You are well on your way. Do you remember how many inquiries you had when you applied for your Citi Platinum Select?
Keep up your work!
I had to chuckle when I read "Palisades." That collections agency would call our house and ask for a guy named Anthony (I cut out the last name here). I kept telling them that the guy doesn't live here. I started asking them who they were and they would not give me a name or just hang up. Some of the rudest people I've ever had to endure. Their behavior is borderline unlawful, just surfing a tad shy of it, I guess. My wife would then get so ticked off, she would call them back right away for twenty times in a row and just hang up on their reps because she was mad from all their calling. It stopped eventually! So very, very stupid!
I remember working on my thesis (I was a graduate student not long ago) and the phone would faithfully ring every morning. I came to hate these calls! Since I didn't have a cell phone then, I needed to be available through the landline, otherwise I would have unplugged the phone altogether.
Grats on your improvements! Even though you might not hit your goal tomorrow, it looks like you're well on your way and have taken all the right steps to get there very very soon (that FICO sure can be fussy)!
I don't see that you "failed" anything. The FICO Fitness Challenge gives us the opportunity to set goals, which I think is a good thing. It helps us to stay focused if we have something concrete to work towards. It appears to me that you made quite a bit of forward progress. You may not have reached your goal this year, but there is always next.
FWIW, I do understand your feelings... It seems quite certain that I won't reach my goal of 700+ by the end of this year. But my scores have made tremendous progress over the course of this year, so I'm confident that if I stay on my current path, I will get there sometime next year. With any luck at all, you will too!
ETA: I saw this today and thought that it suited the mood of this thread...