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It Should Be Better Than This

I have had a job since I was 13 years old. They weren't all good jobs, and many of them didn't pay very well. Some of them were outright mentally brutal, others physically draining. However, no matter if the job was personally, or financially, rewarding, I showed up and did what I needed to do, and many times, more than I needed to do, so that I could feel that I earned my pay.

Now, here I am fifty-four years later, still working, albeit only part time, selling real estate in the Coachella Valley. I do it for a few reasons. First, it gets me out of the house and has helped me to learn the area. Second, I am working for the best boss, other than when I worked for myself, that I've ever worked for. It's also not bad to earn a few extra dollars for help with the cost of living today.

Forty-three years ago I did two very wise things. I married Linda, when I caught her in a weak moment and she agreed to do so, and, I turned over the responsibility of paying bills to her while I focused on earning money. While the former decision was a pretty good choice, the latter was brilliant in it's simplicity.

When Linda took over the financial operations of our life, I was on pace to set all kinds of records for bouncing checks and creating new low credit scores. I'm pretty sure that at the age of 22, my scores were so low they wouldn't even register on a chart.

When I was at the 243rd ranked college in America, Northern Illinois University, I would hand over two checks for $20 to the cashier at the University Book Store on Friday afternoon. The first one was dated that day, which they would put into their cash drawer, and foolishly hand me a $20 bill, and the second one was dated for the following Tuesday, for the same amount, that they would actually get paid on once my mom would transfer some money into my account on Monday.

I called it checkbook bingo, some would call it check kiting, tomato, tomahto. In either case it led to a horrendous credit history early on in my life that at the time I didn't realize how it would have a negative effect on doing things down the road.

Once Linda got things under control I/we slowly climbed out of the credit hole I created. Like most married couples our scores went up and down as we cruised through life, but they always were on an upward path. Not to brag, but today I have a score of 821 and Linda is at 831. My 22 year old self would never believe it could happen. Of course my 22 year old self didn't know what a credit score was or that they existed.

We worked hard to get our scores up. We sacrificed many times in order to pay off a credit card each month so we carried no debt. I worked hard for many years to earn enough money to buy nice things and to live a comfortable life. Were there things we could have, should have, done different? Of course. Anybody that says they did it 100% right all along is either a liar or insane.

All that hard work. All those sacrifices. All that determination to get the best possible credit we could get. It turns out that once you reach retirement age, you might as well be a credit pariah.

Recently, we decided that since we were going to stay in our current house, for the foreseeable future, there were a few things we would like to do to make it a bit more comfortable for us. New floors, a new guest shower, and possibly a new bathtub in the master bath. Not much, but enough cost to not quite have enough handy cash to pay for it out of pocket.

We decided to get a home equity loan to pay for the work and we would pay it off over the next year or so as we saved some extra money. We have since found out that no matter how good your scores are, or your credit history is, if you are not working full time, or if you own a certain kind of house, nobody will lend you money.

I have a friend, who is also retired, that would like to move from his current house to another area in town. He went looking for a bridge loan to just get him through the selling his house and buying the new place phase. He also has exceptional credit, and additionally, he actually has significant retirement accounts, unlike our paltry money, and nobody will give him a nickel to help his short term needs.

I find it disgraceful that lending institutions will not give any money to those of us who have been the backbone of their existence for years, yet, are throwing money at people who don't have a regular job, and have credit scores in the 600 range, because they are young.

What is the point of growing old if anything you want to do can't be done because you've grown old?

This week I've added lending institutions to my growing list of enemies that include, insurance companies, automobile service centers, and too many others to get into right now, but be assured, I still remember who you are, and I will get even.

It is extremely disappointing that we can't do the things we hoped we could because, in spite of our excellent credit, nobody will loan us a dime. The range of reasons why they wouldn't do it was also impressive, if not ridiculous.

We are left with the options of taking the time to save up the money needed, and when we have, then we can do the jobs, or winning the lottery, and moving up the list of options, possibly selling our mothers, Doris and Diana, into slavery.

Stay tuned.

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