have just learned about this FORUM and so glad that I stumbled upon it. I am a single mother who is trying to eventually (hopefully sooner then later) get into my FIRST home. I am trying to understand how to get myself out of this hole that I have dug and seems like I continue to keep digging. My credit score, last time I checked, was roughly an embarrassing 532. Honestly, probably very deserving, I was not taught about finances nor about FICO scores, crediting rating, etc. Now I am paying for it. Enough complaining . . . now I want to do something about it. I have some questions. Most of my information is OLD, except for a recent hospital lien that was placed on my report in 2007. I received that because it was either pay the hospital bill or pay the balance due on my college account so that I could gradute and at 41 years . . . I opted to get my degree (finally). So, even though the lady agreed to a payment plan the next thing I know she had sold my account and I was being garnished. I need to know should I be paying off these OLD debts . . . how does paying my utilities, car insurance, etc. effect my report. I have recently acquired two secured credit cards . . . how does that affect my credit score? I know that I am asking a lot of question, but as much information as you can provide would be appreciate. My goal is to have a 700 or better score in 12 - 18 months so that I can relocate and hopefully relocate into my first home. Thanks to all that read this and respond.