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Living Well with Bad Credit: Buy a House, Start a Business, and Even Take a Vacation―No Matter How Low Your Credit Score Paperback – January 4, 2010
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About the Author
Geoff Williams has worked as a newspaper and magazine journalist for more than 15 years and writes daily for AOL's personal finance blog, WalletPop.com, as well as HGTV's real estate website FrontDoor.com, where he is a columnist. He has also written for Consumer Reports, AARP Bulletin, CreditCards.com, and Bankrate.com. Visit http://livingwellwithbadcredit.hcibooks.com.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
It is a strange thing that the man
who pays cash for all he gets cannot get credit
while a man who runs bills habitually can
get about all the credit he wants.
Comment made in the Worth County Index,
January 3, 1907
It isn't just this generation that has been saddled by debt. Your grandparents had their own recessions and challenges in making payments to credit card companies and department stores. Back then it was Montgomery Ward and Sears; now it's Walmart and Amazon.com. Even your grandparents' grandparents struggled with money. If you've ever watched the 1970s TV show Little House on the Prairie, that series occasionally mangled the historical truth, but they were right on the money when they suggested that Charles Ingalls would have gotten credit at the mercantile store that Harriet and Nels Oleson owned.
We know you're anxious about the future, and maybe not all that interested in the past, but it helps to know how you got here. If you don't know what mistakes were made along the way, you can't fix them.
And as it turns out, credit problems have been brewing for a long time. Of course, for a long time everything worked pretty well, so we're not saying that every decision involving credit and debt for the last century has been built on a foundation of deceit and doom. Credit has a long and honorable history of working well. And yet, it's understandable why you got into debt in the first place. We have a rich history of spending money we don't have.
Even before the first national credit card―the Diner's Card―came along in 1949, there were credit cards issued by your local friendly neighborhood department store. These started getting popular in the 1930s, during the Great Depression. Nobody had money, and businesses were desperate to at least have the promise of future income. Before that, individual stores would routinely offer credit to their regular customers.
In fact, one of the first, and maybe the first, credit bureau actually showed up in Brooklyn around 1869, and by the 1890s credit bureaus were pretty commonplace throughout America. In fact, one of those 1890s bureaus, the Retail Credit Company, eventually became Equifax, which is one of the three giant credit agencies today.
And what's so unsettling about debt history is how familiar everything is. The numbers get higher, but everything else pretty much stays the same. For instance, in 1896 the New York Times ran a detailed story about a lawyer who was having money problems (apparently they never divulged his name, to spare him any embarrassment). Anyway, one morning at breakfast, the attorney's wife handed him a bill for $5. He looked it over and said that the bill was 'a small matter and the man could wait.' Then the wife handed her husband a bill for $200. The lawyer again examined the bill, this time for a longer time. He finally handed it back, saying that the bill 'was a large matter, and the man would have to wait.'
See? Nothing changes. Human nature is human nature.
Consider the home equity loan, which seems like a pretty modern way of going into debt, due to its surge in popularity since the 1980s. But they've been around since at least the days of the Great Depression. Back in 1961, a Florida bank, St. Pete Federal, ran a newspaper ad explaining the home equity loan concept to their customers. 'Chances are, you can get more money out of your home than you've put into it,' the bank's ad read, adding that customers could use a home equity loan to 'turn a weekend at the beach into a month in Europe. Turn a ski boat into a yacht.' The advertisement's headline gushed, 'It's like magic.'
Like magic. No wonder so many of us are in trouble.
©2010. Chris Balish, Geoff Williams. All rights reserved. Reprinted from Living Well with Bad Credit. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, without the written permission of the publisher. Publisher: Health Communications, Inc., 3201 SW 15th Street, Deerfield Beach, FL 33442
Top customer reviews
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The author validates the truth in the old adage: "where there's a will, there's a way." In this though economy, this read is worth the time of anyone who needs to understand how credit works and how to stay sane while struggling to rebound from credit failure.
Needful insights for fixing what's wrong so you can come back, strong!
We know that the cost of bad credit is expensive, so Living Well With Bad Credit is especially helpful with its solid suggestions of ways to both save money and to be able to get hired, find decent housing, rent a car, start a business, go on a vacation (not a posh one!), and repair credit history.
The book is divided into these ten parts:
* Welcome to the Land of Bad Credit
* Banking with Bad Credit
* Getting a Good Job with Bad Credit
* Good Housing with Bad Credit
* Driving: Bad Credit in the Passenger Seat
* Starting a Business with Bad Credit
* Living with Bad Credit
* Avoiding Bad Credit Scams
* Bad Credit: Psychology 101
Each of the chapters are straightforward and helpful. Balish and Williams flag what to look out for in each of the categories and offer specific ways to manage with a low credit score.
In Banking with Bad Credit, the book briefly explains ChexSystems which computes and tracks everyone's credit scores. Since 80% of banks in the country subscribe to ChexSystem and a low credit score or disastrous credit history can make it difficult to open a checking account with a major bank, Balish and Williams suggest looking into the bank's Second Chance program which may be a way to open a bank account again. Balish and Williams describe the "unbanked" and the costs that are incurred through payday lenders, pawnshops, and check-cashing outlets. Balish and Williams also evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of using Probity Financial Services, [...], and credit unions for their financial services.
In Housing with Bad Credit, Balish and Williams offer ways to find decent housing through unusual housing arrangements, selecting the landlords that might be more open to a tenant with bad credit, and different ways that someone with bad credit can negotiate a lease with a landlord. Balish and Williams also cover different ways to obtain a mortgage or purchase a home from finding lenders and credit unions that are sympathetic to lenders with a bad credit history to seller financing to "rent-to-own", lease-purchase and lease-option ways to acquire a home.
Beyond the specific tips offered in the book, Balish and Williams share their own experiences to good effect. Williams explains how he found himself having to declare bankruptcy. As Williams describes the steps that he took as he drew deeper into debt, the mistakes that he made, and what he went through and how he started over, Living Well with Bad Credit becomes more than the usual personal finance book.
ISBN-10: c - Paperback $12.95
Publisher: Publisher: HCI (January 4, 2010), 192 pages.
Review copy provided by the publisher and TLC Book Tours.
If you are looking for a book that gives you any valuable information, look somewhere else...this is more of a guys personal experience living with no credit rather than anything that is infromative about doing something about your situation.
I am a professional credit counsellor and was reviewing this book to see if it was informative enough to recommend to clients. What I found was an absurd collection of "duh" information.
for instance? can't buy a house? rent an apartment (wow...who would have thought of that?)
or...want to take a vacation? go camping! (geez thank you for that insightful advice)
Can't rent a car? Borrow a friends.
Unfortunately you NEED a credit card for some vital activities, like renting a car or buying an airline ticket (contrary to the outdated advice, buying an airline ticket with a wad of cash after 9-11, is NOT accepted by most major airlines)
There are secured credit cards that give you the exact credit for the deposit you give AND they pay you interest for that deposit. Its a bit of a hassle, yes, but try renting a car without a credit card today.
Also there are affinity cards that give you a large "credit line" that can boost your credit score significantly. Of course that "credit limit" is only for their overpriced goods, but you don't have to buy anything from them (just keep the card 'active') and it gives the illusion that credit grantors are accepting your credit again.
Also there are other ways to "give yourself credit" - such as plunking down a few hundred dollars to your bank as collateral and "borrowing" that money back. You will pay a little bit of interest, but you get the loan at 'prime' (since it is fully secured) and when you pay it back, you are rebuilding credit (credit reports do not differentiate between secured and unsecured term loans).
Also, simply checking your credit file periodically and "questioning" any items that denote bad credit, causes that item to be temporarily "suspended" until they "investigate" (which means they send a letter to the creditor to ask for confirmation). Some creditors respond and confirm but if they do not within 30 days, that item must be removed by law! And during the time of the "dispute", that item is removed from your credit score calculation temporarily giving your score a "boost", so if you time it properly, you can apply for a mortgage or credit card in this window and may be approved.
I cannot think of anything good this book can be used for except perhaps propping up a loose window....or as kindling for your fireplace.