Credit Where It’s Due

2011 ended on a high note for me.

A windfall triggers some deep thinking.

An investment I had made a long time ago took a sudden positive turn and I had an opportunity to cash it out and pay down some small-time debt: Christmas bills, a small cap credit card, the last three payments on my used Volkswagen, a department store credit card where I owed on some appliance purchases. Stuff like that.

I got them all cleaned up. It was a good feeling.

Housing interest rates have been falling, and even though I already have a pretty good rate, these current rates are incredible. So I have been thinking about refinancing.

To get the ball rolling, I thought I would investigate how much impact the recent payoffs had on my credit score. I had heard you are allowed one “freebie” per year, so I thought I would check on “my number” before I applied to the bank.

As you know, there are three agencies responsible for such scores and I found I got the same answer at all three.

“Yes indeed,” they told me, I am entitled to a free credit report–but not a free credit “score.” That would cost an additional $7.95.

So the report is free, but the score will cost you.

Now I happen to know that when you call to assemble a refinance package, typically the bank can tell you your score right there and now, so there was no need to provide the credit card number and dish out the $7.95.

But come on people (use Tom Hanks’ yelling voice here)! Come o-o-o-o-onnnnn! This is getting ridiculous!

It isn’t the money. It’s the fact that it shouldn’t have to cost money to see how you are doing.

This measuring stick the world uses to decide who gets what should not only be free, but completely accessible and available.

It’s just another stark reminder of how far things are from where they should be. And where things are is not such a good place these days. So many things come with strings attached and burdens.

If we’re all in this together, can’t we make the path less cumbersome for ourselves?

I don’t want to be asked if I want to donate to a charity every time I get a bag of groceries or an iced tea at the drive-through window. I don’t believe even half the money those people collect winds up where they say it does.

I don’t want any news on Kardashian wardrobe malfunctions.

I don’t care what athlete is happy or unhappy. Just play the game you are getting millions to play. And play hard and try–you cost your boss a fortune.

And I don’t want products that are new and improved and bolder and fresher; just improve the stuff as part of being honest and devoted. Quit repackaging stuff and renaming stuff just to keep it interesting.

And why do you think anyone wouldn’t use only “extra strength” anything? If I have a headache, I want to take the stuff that makes me not have a headache the fastest. Why

ask, “Regular or Extra Strength, Ron?”

“Oh just regular please, I’d like at least another hour of full pain before it starts to leave.”

“Fresh ground pepper, Ron?”

“Uh, no–I’ll just use the stale old stuff in the shaker on the table.”

I mean really. Must we fill our heads with all this nonsense?

If we strived to make things easier for each other and mutual benefits made the whole country operate like a well-oiled machine, we could eliminate much of the “noise” that blocks out the ability to simply enjoy life.

I almost find myself expecting the rip-off, always looking for the “catch.” Like this thing they do on the TV ads now where they say in small letters, “ask us about…” and in large letters it says, “FREE SHIPPING.”

So people glance at the screen and see “FREE SHIPPING” and when they call in their order they are asked if they WANT free shipping. If they say they do, the operator explains they need to double their order, then it’s free.

Well you’ve already given the credit card number and such, so you unwittingly hide your ignorance and say, “…OK.”

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