I had gone on the road in 1986 with a used RV. A year and a half later, I traded it in on a new one. I had the audacity to pay cash for it. I eventually bought a used car, a Coast to Coast campground membership, two properties, and a fifth wheel. I either paid cash or made nominal payments (considered private loans).
I spent thousands of dollars for necessities through Merrill Lynch or A. G. Edwards Visa accounts, settled automatically at the end of each month. I didn’t know that these expenditures were not “credits,” but “debits” and therefore not recorded with the three major credit companies. I paid medical, car, and RV insurance, and later, taxes, electric, sewer, water and telephone bills on two Arizona lots.
But returning to the fall of 2001, the problem was very simple; I “simply” didn’t exist!
Then I did the worst thing I could have done. I called a dozen other lenders, thinking that it was only that particular one who would turn me down. I added fuel to the fire. Now they were turning me down for “too many inquiries in the last twelve months, insufficient credit history, insufficient comparable credit, lack of recent account and bank revolving information.”
The Simple Life
I “simplified” my life when I went on the road. I no longer had a Sears or Penney’s card. I didn’t have savings or checking accounts anywhere. I did everything through Merrill Lynch and A. G. Edwards; however, if anyone had listened, I could have proven my solvency with portfolio and tax reports.
It did not help that I was a full-time RVer. Using the mail services of the Escapees RV Club, I had several similar addresses with changes going from a suite number to a PMB and from 100 Livingston to 150 Livingston because of a problem Escapees RV Club was having with the U. S. Post Office. Try explaining that.
The people from whom I bought my fifth wheel offered to co-sign for a $30,000 loan on the motorhome, even though they barely knew me except that we were fellow Escapees. A co-signed loan, surely I was in like Flynn! Forget it! The lenders would not budge. They considered the Class B motorhome a “luxury vehicle.” And why, exactly, would it matter if it were a luxury vehicle? With a co-signer, they would have received their money regardless of whether I made the payments or not.
In an economy in 2001 that was crying for people to spend money to bring us out of a slump, it didn’t make sense! Then I did what I should have done in the first place—but I didn’t know it. I contacted the three kings of the financial universe, Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion, a revelation beyond all revelations.
Source of Trouble
I had gone to an emergency room in Branson, Missouri. Two months later, they had turned the bill over to a collection agency. I discovered they hadn’t even billed the insurance company. Their hospital billing practices left a lot to be desired. This was resolved shortly or so I thought. The mess surfaced again when I tried to get credit. Thank heaven, I kept all letters and receipts that I needed to build a timeline and prove my case.
This followed me for months. No, I never did get the RV I wanted. I was still a ghost. I started building my credit by buying a car. The salesman suggested something that worked very well for me. I took the cash that I could have paid for the car and put it into a CD at a local bank. They used that as collateral, and with no questions, gave me a loan. I paid it off after a year. I bought my motorhome, The George, doing the same thing and paid it off within two years. In the meantime, I got a checking account through a bank (only by putting a $500 guarantee behind it!). Everywhere I went they acted like I was a criminal.
In the meantime, I bought insurance for the car. I had never had problems getting or changing insurance coverage through the years for a car or RV but suddenly the insurer wouldn’t trust me either. I paid much more because now they were checking my credit score and it wasn’t high enough to meet their standards.
I dealt with the same lady at the same local bank through all of this. By 2005, I asked if I had good enough credit for a park model loan. She said, “Oh, you’ve got GREAT credit.” I only pounded my fist into the wall once.
According to many articles and TV programs, there are so many people overextended with credit cards and looming bankruptcy, it is a national crisis. They wouldn’t even let me get in the game! I now have a Sears card and three Visa cards that I don’t dare close because that counts against you, too.
My husband and I bought a few things “on time” besides our house but we always paid them off as soon as possible because in our era, you just didn’t owe money unless it was a necessity. We even paid extra on the principal on the house over several years to pay it off early. That worked against me when he died. The mortgage insurance had very little left to pay. Hindsight.
Well, I can’t change the fact that the three credit kings rule the world, but I’ve acknowledged that paying cash is a high crime. God Bless.
P. S.: Right about the time this reaches your inquiring mind, I will be at the Alaska State Fair at Palmer. If you’re going to be there, look me up. I’ll be the one gnawing on an Elephant Ear and admiring the colossal-sized veggies while petting a musk ox.
Autographed copies of Revised RVing Alaska and Canada ($16.95); Adventures with the Silver Gypsy ($14.95); Full-Time RVing: How to Make it Happen $14.95); In Pursuit of a Dream ($8), and Freedom Unlimited, The Fun and Facts of Full-timing ($9) are available through author Sharlene Minshall, Box 1040, Congress, AZ 85332-1040, www.full-time-rver.com or Amazon.com. Postage and handling are $4 for one book and $1 for each additional book.