September 25th, 2013

Make it Work! How Building Your Credit is Like Being a Contestant on “Project Runway”

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Make it Work! How Building Your Credit is Like Being a Contestant on Project Runway

One of my favorite shows on TV right now is “Project Runway,” a reality competition where fashion designers fight for the top prize. I’m in no way a fashionista, but it’s really amazing to see what the contestants can produce within a mere 1-2 days.

It’s probably hard to imagine that a silly reality TV show has anything to do with finances, but where there’s a will, there’s a way… to make it work! Sew keep reading for cleverly designed analogies, bad puns and maybe some financial advice.

It’s Not a Team Game.

“Project Runway” is pretty notorious for team challenges and the resulting drama that ensues. As the contestants have different personalities, styles and work ethics, it’s interesting to watch them (attempt to) work together. However, in the end, “Project Runway” isn’t a team game. As Heidi Klum says in each episode, “there can only be one winner.”

Don’t freak out—there can definitely be more than one winner in the credit world, but the overarching premise still applies. Your credit score is yours and yours alone, no matter how many “teammates” you may have. Even if your parents have co-signed your mortgage, your friend is an authorized user on your credit card or you have a joint account with your spouse, there is no such thing as a joint score. You alone are responsible in managing your credit.

How to make it work: You can’t win without knowing how you’re doing, so get ahead of the game and check your credit score for free with Credit Karma. Monitoring this important number should help you take charge of your financial situation and encourage you to start making responsible decisions with your score in mind.

Timing is Essential.

As the competition is meant to test the designers and stretch their skills, they aren’t given much time to complete each challenge. Typically, they only have a day or two to complete a ready-to-wear look. Not surprisingly, contestants quickly learn that time management is key.

Timing can also make or break your credit score. How often you apply for new accounts, when you pay your bills and when you begin your credit history are all vital aspects of your credit.

How to make it work: You’re not a knit-wit, so these “make it work” moments are probably fairly obvious to you. Pay your bills on time, don’t apply for credit too often and start developing a credit history as soon as you’re responsible enough to do so. Having a long history of responsible credit use is great for your score.

The Outcome is Unclear…

Like any good reality TV show, “Project Runway” is full of twists, turns and shock eliminations. A front-runner can be (and has been!) eliminated at any moment and the contestants almost never know if they are safe.

In the same way, it’s unlikely that consumers will ever know the exact formula for perfecting one’s credit. Just as the designers can know general rules like never to use regular material for the unconventional challenge, consumers know what the lenders generally care about, but both credit and fashion scoring models are still shrouded in mystery.

How to make it work: Hate to leave you on pins and needles, but you’ll have to wait until the next section for the solution!

…But You Have Help!

One of the best parts of “Project Runway” is Tim Gunn, the contestants’ trusty mentor. After the contestants are given their challenge and have had a little time to figure out what they are doing, Tim Gunn peeks in to give his professional opinion and feedback. If he thinks a certain designer is struggling, he’ll offer some suggestions and encourage the designer to “make it work!”

It may be frustrating improving your credit health at times, as credit scores are notoriously mysterious. But never fear! Credit Karma is here to provide you with a mentor– your very own Tim Gunn, if you will.

How to make it work: Just as Tim Gunn can prevent future catastrophes by telling designers that their look is too plain, too short or just too ugly, Credit Karma’s credit simulator can teach you what the lenders are looking for and how you can prevent your own financial tragedies from happening. Our blog is also full of handy information to benefit your credit score and help you contribute to a healthy financial life.

The Bottom Line

Maintaining a great credit score is probably easier than winning “Project Runway,” so the next time you’re feeling overwhelmed about your financial situation or everything “seams” wrong, take a deep breath, consult your handy mentor and carry on!

Sew punned out,

Jenna, Credit Karma Contributor


is Credit Karma‘s Social Media Manager. Although her specialty lies in creating witty post-it notes, she also enjoys sharing all the financial information she’s learned since joining Credit Karma in February 2012. When she’s not working, you can probably find her trying out a new dessert recipe or learning/perfecting any musical instrument she can get her hands on. She may or may not have created a Twitter specifically to put in this byline. Say “hi” @leejennaa!

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Disclaimer: All information posted to this site was accurate at the time of its initial publication. Efforts have been made to keep the content up to date and accurate. However, Credit Karma does not make any guarantees about the accuracy or completeness of the information provided. For complete details of any products mentioned, visit bank or issuer website.


  1. The credit score simulator is a feature I really used quite a bit before, but it’s been “under construction” now for quite a while. When will the new credit score simulator be up & running?

    Chris Herrick at 9:22 am on May 14, 2015
  2. Enola Guerrero

    Hi Chris – We are trying our best to make it perfect when it is up and running again. Check back in the future as it may be available then! Thanks!

    Enola Guerrero at 11:10 am on May 14, 2015

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