511 to 700 Credit Score: A Kikoff Team Member’s Journey

Howdy Credit Builders,

I’m on the engineering team here at Kikoff, but I’m also a fellow credit builder. Just a few years ago, my score was 511.

But earlier this month, I finally joined the 700 club.

This was an important personal achievement for me – not because my new score meant big credit cards, or a shiny new boat. But rather, it symbolized the “new me” and how far I’ve come to my better financial habits.

It’s also a testament to the power of Kikoff’s products. Only a few months ago I was in the 660s. But after opening my Kikoff account and making on-time payments, my credit score has increased by 45 points.

On the heels of this personal moment, I’d like to also help fellow credit builders – and share two important lessons I learned during my journey.

Don’t open retail credit cards that you don’t need. Saving 10% at checkout is almost always not worth it.

As a younger person, when I would go shopping, I was persuaded by offers to save 10% at checkout by opening store credit cards. Combined with greater purchasing power at my favorite stores, taking on a bunch of retail credit cards seemed like a smart idea at the time.

But when those glorious moments of 10% savings were over, the cold reality of those retail cards set in. High fees, high interest, light customer service, and not really helping my credit.

In hindsight, I regret opening those accounts because:

  • I would overspend on them, not enjoy the items I purchased 6 months later, and not want to pay the cards back.
  • It was difficult to manage all the separate cards and their different billing schedules.
  • None of the cards had real benefits beyond store savings.
  • Once I began repairing my credit, it was very difficult to pay them down.

I’d recommend thinking twice before opening your next retail card. It might be the most expensive 10% you’ll ever save.

Don’t let “the system” or temporary setbacks break your spirit or momentum. Find your zen and keep going.

Credit repair is a journey that requires courage, persistence, and zen.

My greatest challenge was staying positive while confronting my delinquent accounts. This wasn’t easy because many creditors had been quite aggressive with their collections activities. Or, they played hardball when I tried to negotiate in good faith.

I had to find the courage to deal with my creditors, the persistence to honor their payback schedules, and the zen to stay positive while paying down my debts.

At first, it was difficult to rationalize paying a collector. I had excuses – I owed them some money from a long time ago, I thought the collections calls would eventually stop.

Over time, I shifted my focus from my debt and credit score to a more tangible and aspirational goal: owning my first home.

If your credit journey is anything like mine, there will be obstacles and setbacks along the way. Focusing on my true goal – becoming a homeowner – helped me find the necessary zen to keep going.