I decided to go back to Mint.com today to check out how my finances are doing.  It's really an amazing tool, putting all of my money in the same place for me to easily see.  It was always a chore for me to sign in to my bank accounts, then my various credit card accounts, all so I could see how much money I had, how much I owed, and how things were doing for me overall.  Now I just need Mint.com to keep track of it for me!  As I was filling out the information for my new retirement accounts (gosh, that is a strange thing to think about), I also completed the rest of my profile.  One of the questions they had for me was what my credit score is.  Well, I certainly don't have a clue.  In fact, I've never known my credit score!  So, I decided it was time to find out.

It's an interesting thing, these credit reports.  I spent ages filling out information at various sites, trying to find one that gives me my three credit scores (for free), period.  For some reason, whenever they ask me verification questions, I get a little nervous that I will answer incorrectly.  I should know my own activity and history with no problem, right?  And I do, but nonetheless, I have that little tinge of worry when I have to give a correct answer for authentication.  I guess it stems from my childhood fear of authority, where anyone with the power to affect my life can make me uncomfortable.  So in this case, it is their control over whether or not they believe I am me, which in turn determines whether or not they will allow me to access information I want, that scares me.

Well, it turns out my credit ratings aren't half bad (all in the excellent range, yay), but I still have room for improvement.  Luckily, I've never been rejected credit and I tend to get way more than I need, but I still have a ways to go, once I start having a mortgage.  I don't plan on having any loans, but who knows, maybe I will get a good financial adviser who can manage all that for me and actually make me better off by using loans.  I do believe my mom is a guru at that sort of thing.  I am also really pleased with Mint.com because they provide me the information I always was afraid I wouldn't have once my mom can't help me with finances anymore.  As of now, she's always the one I go running to when I have a money issue (like not knowing what type of IRA to open up).  I feel more secure in being able to take care of my own money responsibly now.

I have been very lucky in my life, with parents who have always had the foresight to save money for things we needed/really wanted.  I never had to pay a cent for college, or take out a student loan.  It's an amazing gift to start off my career with no debt hanging over my head.  I don't think I can fully appreciate it since I don't know what it's like to be in debt, but nonetheless, I am grateful.  At the same time, I tried not to exploit this privilege and got a scholarship that helped pay some of my way.  Also, we've never not had the money to purchase things when we really needed them.  Granted, that has a lot to do with our concept of what we actually need.  We're not a very materialistic family, so all the nice things we get we get only when we more than have the means to get it.  I have learned some very good spending habits from my parents and I hope that I can retain that, and not live beyond my means.

My mom has always told me that too many Americans get trapped into spending more than they're earning and borrowing a lot, which leaves little room for error.  On the contrary, our family only takes out loans we know we can pay back, only buy cars that are within our means, and only get houses that have mortgages we can handle.  I admire how well my mom handles money and I wish I had a knack for that myself, but if it were up to me, we'd all just live with cash and never worry about credit cards throwing you into debt or losing money on investments.  Ironic, I guess, since I studied finances quite intently during my undergrad career, but it's not a topic I really care for.  It certainly is very useful though and it's a pity I don't know more.  But, with the booming internet, I can always look up what I need to so it won't be too bad.

So, though I may not know the best ways to handle my money, at least I'll make good choices with what I do know so far and just keep educating myself on what else there is.  Ultimately I'm hoping I can make enough to hire a financial adviser to do all that for me.  I'm not much of a risk-taker though, so I don't know how I'd feel about my money being put into the volatile markets.  It seems lame to keep it all in a savings account though.  Which, by the way, has been disappointing me with the economic downturn.  Supposedly my interest rates are still higher than market rates and rather competitive, but it has been sliced to at least less than half of what it used to be!  It's so unfulfilling to see your money growing so slowly.  With the magic of compound interest though, I just need to wait it out and see better results later down the line.