Why I Had A Poor Credit Score & What I Did About It

Poor credit score?  What on earth does that mean?

When I was younger I had no financial intelligence whatsoever.  I didn’t have a clue about budgeting, finances or even what a credit score was, let alone a poor credit score.  I certainly didn’t understand how important it was to have a good credit score.  I had no concept of the consequences that making poor financial decisions could have on me in the long term. As a result I made some really bad choices.

Why I had a poor credit score and what I did about it

Why Did I Have A Poor Credit Score?

It all started when I went to University.  All of a sudden I was in the big bad world all by myself and there were lots of people willing to give me money.  I took out the usual student loans but I also took out a number of student bank accounts.  These bank accounts came with free overdrafts.  I pretty much worked my way down the high street and ended up with several used overdrafts.  I enjoyed spending them but paid little thought to how I was going to pay them back.

There came a point where I couldn’t pay these overdrafts back with my student income and the banks handed the debts over to credit collection agencies.  In the early days I missed lots of payments and tried to duck and dive my debts by moving around a lot.

Eventually these debts caught up with me and I would have to start paying them back, else my financial future would look pretty bleak.


How Did I Fix My Credit Score?

Partly, my life changed considerably and I knew I had to grow up quickly.  I was 22 years old and I was going to have a baby.  I had to start being financially responsible.

I secured a home with a local housing association and now had a settled address.  I joined the electoral role and I was registered at this property for about 5 years.  It turns out lenders like it if you stay in one place.

I stopped applying for ridiculous amounts of credit.  By this point there was no way I’d get past the approval stage anyway.  I focused on paying back the debts that I had instead and learning to live within my means.

It didn’t happen overnight, but I could see things were starting to improve.  My debts were reducing and I was feeling a lot happier about my financial position.

Now that I had a family I was starting to think about things like, what if the washing machine breaks down or what if we need some new furniture?  There was going to come a point where I might need to ask for credit again.

Building Up My Credit Score

credit card Having no credit at all can be as bad as having a poor credit score.  There came a point when I needed to apply for some credit for some household items.  Saving up was impossible as I had so many outgoings.

I applied for a small loan that I could manage and was able to pay back at a rate I could afford.  If I was in this position today I would look at a company who offer flexible guarantor loans to people who have had poor credit history.

For someone like me who had got into such a mess I would have really appreciated the extra security that a guarantor loan would have given me.  No one wants to get into trouble with money, but sometimes life deals us some harsh blows and we can be back to square one before we know it.

My Credit Score Improved A Lot

From taking those first steps to improve my credit rating I knew I was on the right path.  I was able to build up my credit score and restore lenders faith in me.

When my son was old enough I secured a full time job, funnily enough with the same housing association that had given me a home a few years earlier.

I found that lenders started to treat me differently now that I had been in a settled address for a while and I had permanent employment.  It wasn’t that many years later that I was successful in applying for a mortgage and was able to purchase my own home.  Taking out that first small loan was the first step to turning what could have been a very bleak situation around.



Zena Goldman is a UK based travel, family & lifestyle blogger who left her 9-5 job behind in the not-for-profit sector to follow her creative dreams and enjoy a more flexible family life. She began writing Zena’s Suitcase in 2011 and shares the holidays and adventures she goes on with (and without) her 2 young daughters. She wishes her son would join them more often but he’s carving out his own dreams now and enjoying university life.

Since beginning Zena’s Suitcase she has worked with a number of brands and also has a regular monthly feature in the ASDA Good Living Magazine feature, ‘Ask The Expert’ where she shares helpful parenting tips. In 2018 she was also a finalist in the prestigious BIBs Awards for Social Media.

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  1. March 2, 2016 / 4:07 pm

    This gives me hope! My credit was great until I got married and then boom it was terrible. We have been working together to improve my husbands debts and it’s slowly getting better. I know it’s hard as we are trying to build a business but my dream is to one day get a mortgage and work towards home ownership 🙂 thanks for the inspiration!
    Angela at Daysinbed.com recently posted…The Irony of Rare Illness DayMy Profile

  2. March 11, 2016 / 3:27 pm

    I bet my credit score is a bit rubbish but for totally the opposite reason. I just don’t have credit. Well, apart from my Next account which I presume would have been credit checked before I had it.

    My credit card got taken off me because I never used it (it was my emergency one but I had no idea of the pin so couldn’t just use it occasionally). And I don’t have a mortgage because it’s in the OH’s name. I keep thinking I should get another credit card but I’m not sure I’d be able to because I’ve not got enough scores for them to assess anymore.

    Well done for getting yourself out of debt and sorted out
    Emma T recently posted…Tips on avoiding having a fussy eater through childhoodMy Profile

  3. March 11, 2016 / 6:40 pm

    I was in exactly the same position, for the exact same reason. I really wish that they would start to teach money matters in schools, so that the next generation doesn’t make the same mistakes when it comes to credit. I thought it was free money!
    Leah Miller recently posted…Innocent until proven guilty…My Profile

  4. Fabulous tips and I agree, it is difficult when you’re so young and just starting out. We had our own place (just rented) when we were 17 and 18 so we were offered credit and we got in a bit too deep. Sometimes I think it’s a blessing in disguise as you learn to manage your money better going forwards i.e. learn for your own mistakes! X

  5. March 11, 2016 / 9:37 pm

    I worry about my eldest who is in Uni – she will leave with so much debt. I just hope she finds a good job! Kaz x
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  6. March 13, 2016 / 7:46 am

    I did something very similar when I was at university and I am sure we are not alone. I wonder if there should be some financial education piece run by the student unions to stop people do the same thing. It took me a fair while to pay off all my debt!! Glad things worked out for you x
    Mudpie Fridays recently posted…My Pregnancy – Weeks 29 & 30 with Antiphospholipid SyndromeMy Profile

  7. March 14, 2016 / 7:33 pm

    Great post. Credit score is so important for adult life and being aware of it shouldn’t be a scary prospect. Knowledge is power … and even if you’ve never borrowed a penny, its important to remember that you need to take out some form of credit in order to get a good score too – a fact that seems crazy but true.
    Anna x
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