In 2015, Credit Karma went to Austin and invited people to talk to us about their experiences with money and credit. We talked to people with many different backgrounds. Some were Credit Karma members, others were not. Participants were told in advance their stories might be shared online. These stories helped us understand the financial struggles that many people face. We thought they might help others too.
These are real stories, told by real people in their own words.
They received a financial gift for sharing their stories, but we want to take this time to thank them again. Check out our My Money Story series on YouTube.
"I'm kind of a credit evangelist because everyone's going to have to deal with it."
Matt, 28, became interested in credit when he applied to rent an apartment and the prospective landlords pulled his credit report. He found two medical debt collections on his credit history - one for a mere $32 - and quickly discovered that your credit score can drop as a result of even a minor account in collections.
"My debt itself was never that severe and yet the impact lasted for so long," Matt says. His collections finally dropped off his report in March 2015 (late payments can typically stay on your report for seven years.)
Matt didn't learn about credit from his parents, as they always had excellent credit. So he taught himself by researching online and actively seeking out information that could help him monitor and repair his credit.
Matt now works for a cloud platform company in Dallas and is a lot more financially comfortable. "I don't have to put a deposit down whenever I switch to a new Internet provider."
However, his experiences with debt and the effect debt had on his credit score have made him very careful about future spending. He's keen to continue to learn and would love to go to school to study computer science or electrical engineering. But he worries about the potential financial effect of taking out a student loan. He says, "Even if you've done a known, lucrative degree, you still may not recover the cost for a long time."
It's been ten years since he got his first credit card, and Matt now has a good credit score and is keen to educate his friends and family on the value of good credit. "Arming people with information is the best thing you can do for anybody. Just educating people so they don't make mistakes that hurt themselves later is invaluable," he says.
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