Don’t Make The Same Silly Credit Mistakes I Did – Especially Number 1

Over the past few years, I’ve learned quite a bit about personal finance. However, it’s always been my goal to write about money from a woman-on-the-street perspective vs. a high-and-mighty perspective.

While I wish I would have studied business and finance in school, the truth is, I didn’t. Everything I’ve learned about money so far has been primarily through trial and error, advice from friends, and basically reading the paper. There’s so much more to learn and so many more things I’d like to do to get my finances on track.

Still, like anything worthwhile, these things take time so in the spirit of over-sharing, here are the two mistakes I’ve made with my credit:

1. Failing to Return a Library Book

I’ve mentioned this incident a few times in my writing, but it’s so outrageous and stupid that I just keep bringing it up. The sad thing is that when the incident occurred, I had absolutely no clue. I did not receive a call from debt collectors or notices in my mailbox despite forwarding my mail after moving.

So, it’s pretty lucky I applied for a new credit card and was denied. I was so confused getting that piece of mail and had no idea what to do. Luckily my husband was with me and had enough sense to say that we needed to home immediately and check my credit report to make sure no one had stolen my identity.

Well, when I checked the report, I was relieved to see that most things were in order, but color me surprised to find an adverse account from the public library for not returning a book. Apparently, they take those things very, very seriously.

Obviously I was in the wrong, but I always thought that if I made a mistake that had to go to collections, I would know about it!

2. Failing to Pay a Credit Card On Time

I am such a stickler for on time payments. I’ve just never understood people who put their mail to the side and forget about it. Well, um, I understand them a little better now since I made the same mistake. After working so hard to get out of credit card debt, I paid for a nice dinner out with the card after leaving my debit card at home. I wasn’t used to checking those credit card statements anymore. After all, I was debt free baby! The balance was zero! Except that it wasn’t.

When I realized my mistake, I called the company and got the late fees taken off, but it still affected both my husband’s and my credit report since we each had a copy of the card. I felt horrible that my mistake knocked his down too.

Luckily, these two credit mistakes are in the past, and both my husband and I have still have high, excellent credit scores that we monitor much more closely. Hopefully, it will be the last time I slip up and miss a payment or forget to return a library book, but you never know!

Have you ever made a credit mistake?

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About Catherine Alford

Catherine Alford is a personal finance freelance writer who received a B.A. from The College of William and Mary and an M.A. from Virginia Tech. She enjoys sharing her adventures on her blog,


  1. Ha! I’ve made a TON of credit mistakes. At one point I was paying all of my bills “just a little late,” not realizing just how much I was getting hammered. Later when I looked at my credit report I found out that I looked like the biggest delinquent on earth. Or maybe second biggest.

  2. We’ve run into some issues in the past with overdue library books, usually because they get lost somewhere in the house, and boy do they mean business! My mistake, back in the day, was just ignoring my credit card bill. I don’t know what in the heck I was thinking…but I wasn’t. 😉

  3. A lot of people have made credit mistakes so it’s not surprising that you did too. I never thought about a library book affecting your credit but it makes sense. Glad I always return mine on time!

  4. We were so perfect for so long. Every time we moved, we payed off our library fines. Never a late bill or payment on anything. Then we moved again… and we couldn’t sell our house. Had to short-sell it and that was a pretty serious ding. The mistake was taking out a mortgage with not enough of a down payment to weather a down market.

  5. Bryce @ Save and Conquer says:

    We use our reward credit cards all the time. They are safer than debit cards if they get skimmed or your identity info is compromised. We just make sure to pay them off every month. Never had a slip up with them.


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