Today is the presidential election -- an opportunity for American citizens to have your say in the direction of the country by voting for your candidate of choice.
In the weeks leading up to the election, we've seen a lot of press coverage -- both good and bad -- about each of the candidates. Obama's and Romney's campaigns can actually teach us some lessons about credit. Even if you don't like politics, learn these lessons because they'll have a lasting impact on your credit scores!
1. There's one number that matters
Before the election, newscasters spend a lot of air time analyzing each candidate's words and actions and trying to guess the outcome of the polls. And even the popular vote doesn't matter. There's only one number on Election Day: The candidate who gets the most Electoral College votes! That's the one who will be President. Any other number is irrelevant. Likewise, with your credit score, there are a lot of credit scores out there but only one matters -- your FICO score. That's the one that 90% of lenders look at to decide whether they will lend you money or not. So focus on your FICO score.
2. What you do today will impact tomorrow
Each candidate's campaigns have had some good news but they've also made some mistakes. You know what they are (I don't want to seem too partisan by listing them here). While some small missteps are forgivable and easily overcome, other errors of judgement or misinformation can hurt a candidate's chances. Likewise, with our credit, we can fix the small stuff quite easily (and a lender might overlook a single late payment "blip" on our credit report) but a series of poor credit choices can have lasting negative consequences.
3. Elections happen every four years
The founders of the country had the wisdom to say that one leader shouldn't remain in power indefinitely. They instituted a presidency to run for four years and then to be followed by another election. This was a safeguard to protect the populace from long-lasting, corrupt legacies. Likewise with your credit, you shouldn't just check your credit once and never check it again. Things change and the best way to protect yourself against errors, forgotten bills, and identity theft is to pull your credit regularly -- at least twice a year. Like presidents, good credit needs to be reviewed regularly!
4. You can't do it alone
Can you imagine how different the campaign would be if each candidate DIDN'T have a huge team of people helping them? I don't think they'd make it past the Primaries; and the winner would spend four years in office just recuperating from the effort. Likewise with your credit, you can do it alone but it's harder. You will work much more effectively with a team -- enlist your spouse or partner and your extended family to be your cheerleaders while you improve your credit; ask your friends to help you (maybe you can both work on your credit scores at the same time) and to hold each other accountable; invest in a reputable credit coach or credit consultant to help you. It's your credit score but that doesn't mean you are on your own!
The elections are always a fascinating time when people's firmly-held political beliefs are revealed and tested, and the American election is an exciting time when two candidates step up to say "I am willing and able to lead this country for the next four years."
The elections also offer us a few lessons in how to improve and manage our credit.
PS, don't forget to vote!