February 27th, 2013

Is Your FICO Making You Fat?

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**Today’s guest post is contributed by Agatha.**

I’m 34 years old. And I weigh 25 pounds less than I did at age 24. Whattt?!

I’m not saying I was fat at age 24, but I always thought I’d gain weight as I got older. I figured nature would start taking its course…that I’d get a saggy butt and grow a fupa (if you don’t know what that is, Google it).

So I took a look back and thought about what could have possibly changed to make me thinner now than I was in my 20’s. And, yes, I’ve had some diet and lifestyle changes… but not enough to make that drastic of a difference.

I realized a big thing that changed was the stress level about my finances, especially my credit score.

Back in my 20’s I was broke as a joke. I graduated college with a degree in accounting but had absolutely ZERO skills about managing my own money.

By the age of 22 I found myself in $30,000 of credit card debt with no money in the bank…and my FICO score was deep in the toilet.

And after 7 looooong years of constantly stressing and torturing myself, I finally realized I sucked with my money because no one had ever taught me anything about basic personal finance.

I knew how to audit the financial statements of a publicly traded company, but not how to manage my own debt or start saving or investing. So I started learning everything I could about basic money management.

By that time, I had my own accounting & bookkeeping business and was awesome at handling other people’s money…so I started doing all those things for myself.

I also observed what rich peeps did with their money and started doing that too.

And it worked like gangbusters! Within 3 months I tripled my income…in 18 months I paid down all $30,000 of my debt…and I walked away with $20,000 in the bank.

But let’s talk about the weight…I started shedding LBS without even trying. All of a sudden, I was 25 pounds thinner and I was feeling dang good!

Sounds kookoo-for-cocoa-puffs, right? But it makes total sense if you think about it…

When I was broke, I stressed about money and my FICO score CONSTANTLY. That means I had insane levels of cortisol (stress hormone) coursing through my body.

Cortisol makes you store fat, lose muscle, and have an out of control appetite. So the less stress I had, the less cortisol was in my body and the fat basically fell off.

But if you’re stressed about your FICO score, you might be thinking there’s no way to stop. Financial stress can be hard to get rid of, so here is the key: you alone have the power to control how much stress you put on yourself.

I know it might sound cheesy weezy motivational but it really is all about perspective. You can choose to look at your situation and constantly freak out about it…or you can choose to chill out. Stopping the freakouts is critical because when you’re stressed, it’s really hard to think clearly about how to solve your problems.

So how do you chill out when you’re freaking out?

Here’s what I do:

  1. Meditate. I know this can sound weirdo crazy. But seriously, it works. Every morning, before I even leave my bed, I spend 10 minutes just breathing and being alone with my thoughts. It calms me down in the most difficult of times. Meditation is what helped pull me out of my financial freak outs back in my 20’s.
  2. Get Moving. Exercise is the cheapest form of stress therapy out there. It gets your blood pumping and releases endorphins, which make you happy. Try to get moving every day, even if you’re really busy. On days when I am crazy busy, I jump on my mini-trampoline for 30 minutes and it makes a HUGE difference in my mood.
  3. Save Your Mula! No matter how much (or little) money you have, you MUST save some for yourself. I like to save at least 20% of my income, but if you can’t save that much than start with $10 bucks. Anything to get you into the habit of saving money!

So if you can chill out on the stress, it’s much easier to think clearly and find ways to improve your credit health and your finances overall. And you might just shed some poundage too.

And lucky for you, Credit Karma is packed with tons of free stuff on how to do just that so you’re in the right place.

So here’s a big cheers that you kick your stress to the curb!


Agatha Kulesza was an accounting nerd for 10 years. She now runs an “uncool” blog and is knee deep in writing her first book Sweaty Armpit Girl. You can sign up for her Uncoolness Report on HeyAgatha.com or follow her on Twitter @heyagathak.

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  1. HUGE thanks for the honor of sharing my article with the CK community!

    Agatha at 8:45 am on February 28, 2013
  2. Great article, Agatha. And it makes total sense. How can you make things better if you’re not focusing on the right things. I need to work more on the savings piece. We do okay, but we could definitely be more consistent.

    another jennifer at 8:49 am on February 28, 2013
  3. You are absolutely correct. When I was broke I stressed too about my credit score just for the simple fact I wanted to obtain more credit. I noticed my eating habits went crazy and gained weight. The more control I had over my spending and paying off my debt the more focused I was with my overall health. Not just credit healthy but physical health.

    The Phroogie Jason at 5:17 pm on May 10, 2013
  4. I don’t understand how my score on this site is in the mid 660 range and yet when I just applied to refi my house, I had scores from all three credit agencies in the low 700’s. Experian, transunion, and equifax all had my score over 700.

    Maureen Ferguson at 2:14 pm on June 6, 2014
  5. Mike

    Thanks for your question Maureen. Credit scores can vary both from bureau to bureau and within bureaus internally, based upon which specific model is being used. You can read more here: https://www.creditkarma.com/article/differentscores

    Mike at 11:40 am on June 9, 2014
  6. What happened to FICO? It has disappeared from Credit Karma and replaced by Transunion and Equifax.

    Tom Gallagher at 4:58 am on January 28, 2015
  7. Mike

    Hi Tom – Thanks for your question! Credit Karma actually never offered a FICO score. Instead, we featured a New Account score from TransUnion. Now, we’ve switched over to the new VantageScore 3.0 credit scoring model. The two scores you see on your account are based on that model and calculated by TransUnion and Equifax, respectively. You can read more about VantageScore, including why we like it for our members, here: https://www.creditkarma.com/article/VantageScore-3-0

    Mike at 9:25 am on January 28, 2015

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