Tom Pavelka is proof that you don't need to be fabulously wealthy to have great credit.
The Westlake, Ohio man has a credit score of 848 out of 850, according to a recent credit score disclosure: higher than that of roughly 99.7 percent of Americans, the Cleveland Plain Dealer reported. He secured it using time-tested money habits.
Pavelka and his wife are well off, but not super-rich. Pavelka, a Labor Department worker, was paid $99,239 last year, according to government data. His wife Helga is a hematology supervisor, according to the Plain Dealer. Though her salary is not public, that job pays a median salary of $56,105, according to salary.com.
Still, he and his wife own a nice house and seven automobiles, according to the Plain Dealer. They often eat out at nice restaurants. How does Pavelka maintain a near-perfect credit score?
With a nationwide uptick in foreclosures, defaults and bankruptcies in recent years, Americans' credit scores have suffered during the economic downturn. Banks also have tightened their lending standards since the housing boom, making it harder for lower-income Americans to secure loans.
Credit scores are a blind spot for many Americans. One in two Americans don't know what their credit score is, according to a recent survey by CouponCabin.com. But this is easily amendable. You can request a free credit report once a year from AnnualCreditReport.com.
Loans have become increasingly necessary for some Americans to keep up with the Joneses, due to stagnant wages. Unfortunately, non-rich Americans spend more when their wealthy neighbors spend more, and that can lead to financial hardship. You should always avoid borrowing to buy something you can't afford. Defaulting on a loan can stick with you for a long time.