January 17th, 2013

Would You Go Back in Time to Improve Your Credit Health?

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Would You go Back in Time to Improve Your Credit Health?

This week on our Facebook page, we posted the following:

Fill-in-the-blank: The first thing you should do to start improving your credit health is _______.

My favorite response came from a guy named Eric:

1. Buy a DeLorean
2. Go 88 mph
3. Go back in time to smack yourself and tear up those credit cards.


Clever, right? (And hopefully you get the reference.)

But after my initial chuckle, I got to thinking, “Would I really go back in time?” Probably not, and here’s why.

Mistakes = Lessons

How many times on this blog have we written about our past mistakes turning into lessons? Let’s take a look. I wrote about how my past relationships actually led to great money lessons. Justine wrote about how a simple error of timing cost her big and what she learned from her first speeding ticket. Guest contributor Kristina talked about recognizing problems and then correcting them in “A Second Chance at Financial Freedom.” And Ezra even shared the things we can learn from the one big mistake that is Jersey Shore.

Just from this small sample you can see that we’re big about learning from mistakes around here. Your mistakes—however big or small—leave behind lessons and make you who you are. Which leads to the next point…

Sharing your mistakes keeps you from repeating them.

Making mistakes is inevitable. “To err is human,” right? So traveling back in time to correct one mistake won’t keep others from occurring. And what if during your DeLorean-fueled trip you mess something else up (as is typical)? But you know what usually keeps you from making mistakes over and over again? Telling someone about them.

According to this blog post, we retain just 20 percent of what we learn from auto-visual experiences. We retain just half of that from reading about something. The way to really remember your mistakes is to share them immediately. Supposedly, doing that helps us retain 90 percent of what we learn. 90 percent! Maybe you don’t have a blog to share your mistakes and the lessons you’ve learned, but you can find a good friend to talk to about them.

You’ll be rewarded… eventually.

Bringing this all back to our expertise (and the basis of the Facebook question): What does this have to do with credit? It’s tough to improve your credit health after a blunder, and it takes creditors a while to start trusting again (which can be seen in this infographic about getting a mortgage after a bankruptcy or foreclosure). Just like anything else in life, it’s a process. But when you’re committed, you’ll find success.

Just take a look at Ben’s story of paying down credit card debt, our Broke Gal in NYC blog series or the stories of struggle and success in Community Karma. (I especially love the stories from Brandiann and Dana.)

Bottom Line: Maybe some past mistakes warrant a trip in the DeLorean with Doc, but credit mistakes probably don’t.

What about you? Would you travel back in time to correct a mistake?


is the Social Media Manager and Writer at Credit Karma, where she’s been since February 2011. When she’s not writing about credit and finance all over the web, you can find her playing her guitar, catching the latest movie, training for her next race or just exploring the city of San Francisco. Say “Hi” on Twitter: @bhardeman.

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  1. Bethy,
    I wouldn’t go back in time either. I’ve made only minor financial mistakes. Most of mine have been bad purchases of no more than $50. Or parking tickets that cost $10 instead of $0.10. But I’ve learned.

    Now I do more research per purchase and I always have change in my car.

    -Christian L. @ Smart Military Money

    Christian L. at 12:07 pm on January 17, 2013
  2. I’d love the opportunity to go back in time to fix some of my credit mistakes, but not all of them. I wish I’d been able to display better spending habits in my younger years (no credit cards); but I can’t do anything about or even regret financial emergencies and medical debt, which were most of the problems I was facing when I had to consider bankruptcy a few years ago. Somethings you can learn from; others just happen. I don’t use any credit at all now.

    Dona Collins at 8:25 am on January 22, 2013
  3. I’d go back and not charge of 1 credit card and have the other 2 report late. My scores have mostly recovered from those mistakes but I had no idea that these things stick with you for as long as they do.

    I also wish I hadn’t opened cards with bottom feeders.

    Corinne at 5:53 pm on January 26, 2013
  4. I have learned that it’s ok to use credit as long as you’re responsible and can pay it off either immediately, or within a reasonable amount of times.

    I won’t buy anything unless I know I can pay my bill in full at the end of the month. I also budget now, something I was too afraid to do before. I’ve learned to not be afraid of spending if I’m doing it within reason.

    Corinne at 5:56 pm on January 26, 2013
  5. I wouldn’t have let my now deceased husband choose the non-spousal option on his pension.

    Lenore DeLitizia at 10:41 am on January 22, 2014

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