THE BLOG
08/23/2011 03:00 pm ET

Are You Gambling With Your Credit?

This past weekend I went to celebrate a friend's 40th birthday at a casino. We had a group of 25 people catching up because time just seems to fly by. Most of the people that were there were around the same age. I can remember when these couples got married, purchased their first homes, and then started having kids. Throughout the night, I kept hearing couples saying they might even purchase a new home soon because they are growing out of the house they purchased before having kids! I asked, "So how is your credit?" They looked at me not wanting to really answer. I said, "Wait...do you not know your FICO score?" This one couple said they have been so busy they just have not been on top of checking it. I then teased them and said, "Wait a minute. A half hour ago I heard you say you would not gamble at the casino because you didn't want to risk losing any money and now you tell me you do not even know your FICO score? Not knowing is just as much of a gamble!!!"

Another couple who said that they were going to refinance their mortgage hadn't looked at their credit since they purchased their first home. I realize this is common because, let's face it: we are working, raising our kids and living hectic lives. Maybe people do not have time to sit down a few times a year and go to each credit bureau, request a credit report and look it over, but even though we are all busy, you should still be making sure your credit is in good shape. We use it all the time and based on how you keep it, you are paying more or less interest. What if a late that is an error or a collection account that does not belong to you goes on your report? You need to know! You need to not gamble with your credit!

I have a really simple solution for you if you are as busy as I am. Pay to have it monitored and when something changes you get an alert. I think it is important for you to know your FICO score! I suggest you check out the FICO site @ http://www.myfico.com for products to monitor your credit.

Let's get back to these two couples. They both contacted me on Monday. One called laughing and said we are in great shape with our credit, our FICO is over 740. The other, called in a panic. They found many errors on their reports and they said it seems like the negative accounts have been on for over two years without them knowing.

They still have time to work on fixing these mistakes since they have not yet found the new & improved home they want, but what if they had waited to check it until they found their dream home? It would not be so good for them and this would cause more stress and cost them more money!

The lesson they learned was that they had been gambling with their credit because they didn't take the time to check on it. It is that simple.

Email me your credit story or question, Jeanne.Kelly@TheCreditOwl.com.