My Husband Was in Jail and I Was Left Raising Our Child With a Low Credit Score. – Julie


“Dear Steve,

I am a single mother of a five year old. I recently got a copy of my credit report and was not shocked to find out it was a very low 489. I had several medical problems, which turned into collections and one judgement, as well as some late payments on accounts from 2006-2007.

My daughter’s father was incarcerated for two years, so I was literally struggling to catch up and pay my bills. I have a better job now, and pay all my credit cards and car loans on time for the most part.

How long will it take me to raise my credit score to a decent number (at least in the 600’s)? I am working on paying off the old accounts and really would like to see my score increase. Please, any advice would be greatly appreciated.


Dear Julie,

Increasing your credit score is a two step process. The first step is to close the door and resolve the old problems. That you are doing.

The next step is to begin using credit again and paying it on time so new good credit is reported on your credit report. Unless you do the second step, your credit report will end with just a string of failing marks.

Think about it like this. Your credit report is not a grade on how well you manage your money, but on how well you take tests. Remember back to your school days. If you passed every test but they were not recorded but every recorded test you failed, the lasting impression would be that you failed across the board. That would be factually incorrect but nobody would know that.

I would estimate that if your pay off the old accounts and follow my advice that within a year you will see a substantial increase in your credit score. If you want to make sure your credit score rises to the highest it can I would suggest that you order a consolidated credit report with the credit scoring option. It will show you exactly what additional steps you might need to take to improve your credit score ASAP.

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It sounds like those years you lived through were a struggle, but you made it through. Congratulations.


You are not alone. I'm here to help. There is no need to suffer in silence. We can get through this. Tomorrow can be better than today. Don't give up.

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