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Dave Ramsey says: Being debt-free beats having a high credit score

Published: Tuesday, April 22 2014 12:00 a.m. MDT

I’m a landlord, and if I had my choice between a tenant with no debt and no credit score and someone with a high credit score but lots of debt, I’d take the one who has no debt in a heartbeat.

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Dear Dave,

I’m 20 years old, and I’m trying to get out of debt. However, I’m concerned about what might happen when I’m older and don’t have a credit score. My girlfriend says I won’t be able to get a job or rent an apartment without a good one. Is this true?

— Ian

Dear Ian,

No, it’s not true. I’m sure your girlfriend is a sweet person, but she has no clue what she’s talking about in this situation.

In either case, you can simply explain that the reason you don’t have a credit score is because you have no debt. Since you don’t have any debt, you have something known as money. That makes you very stable, and it makes you a fantastic candidate as an employee or tenant.

Listen to me, Ian. I’m a landlord, and if I had my choice between a tenant with no debt and no credit score and someone with a high credit score but lots of debt, I’d take the one who has no debt in a heartbeat. Why? Because that’s the one who is most likely to pay.

Besides, you already have a good credit history if you’ve paid your bills on time. Show them proof of that, if necessary. But taking on a pile of debt to have a high credit score or increase your current score is just plain stupid.

— Dave

Dear Dave,

Would it be a good idea to open CD accounts for my two small children?

— Abe

Dear Abe,

No. A CD is a certificate of deposit. Basically, they’re not much more than savings accounts that carry early withdrawal penalties. They earn about the same as a regular savings account, too, which at the moment is next to nothing. There’s no reason to open them for your kids.

Now, is it a good idea to save money on behalf of your children? Of course it is. But if the idea is simply to teach and help them save money, I’d recommend simple savings accounts. If you’re talking about wanting to save money for them — like for a college fund — I’d suggest an Education Savings Account with good growth stock mutual funds inside.

Even if you want to put aside college savings, I’d urge you to go ahead and open regular savings accounts for each of your kids. We did that for our kids, and I can tell you from experience that you’ll find tons of teachable moments about saving, giving and life in general.

— Dave

Follow Dave on Twitter at DaveRamsey and on the web at daveramsey.com.

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