Lessons Learned from Secondhand Books


Credit repair is a lifestyle change, one that requires you to see the world through new eyes and search for lessons in ordinary circumstances. Consider a recent lesson learned by a group of college students who were asked to read “Anna Karenina” during a summer literature course. Each student approached the purchase in a different way:

Student A visits the nearest Barnes and Noble and buys a hardback copy for $18.00.
Student B logs into Amazon Prime and downloads a digital copy for free.
Student C visits a local resale shop and buys a used paperback copy for $1.99.

What can we learn from these students’ choices? How does choice of purchase translate into credit repair? For starters, it’s time to ask yourself:

What’s it worth? Tolstoy’s novel is an undoubted classic, but what is it worth? Student A would argue that it takes nearly $20 to read the book while Student B boasts that his copy came for free. There is no right answer, but there is a lesson. Worth is not limited to a single, finite number. Whether you’re buying a home, a new car or flat-screen TV, “worth” is a flexible term. Allow yourself the ability to save by pursuing options. Shop for the best deals on everything from groceries to big-ticket items. A frugal mindset will help you cut costs and begin to understand your money’s intrinsic worth, a perspective that will help you avoid debt and credit damage.

Is new better? Technology has the power to streamline tasks and provide a world of convenience. That said, is it always better? Consider Student B’s choice to download the novel for free. While his decision was financially shrewd, it wasn’t practical. Students are required to discuss the novel in class, often citing specific passages to support their opinions. Student B’s digital copy makes it difficult for him to participate in the discussion, irritating the professor and threatening his overall grade. This lesson is an important one: How does new technology affect your life? Are you a slave to the latest Apple products? How does your dependency affect your budget? Student B may have felt thrifty, but the cost to charge and maintain a digital reader exceeds Student C’s $1.99 purchase. Avoid his mistake by auditing your own life. Examine your penchant for “new” to discover how it affects your wallet. In many cases, new isn’t better.

Where’s the budget? The average college student lives simply to make ends meet, adhering to a budget that allows them to eat, sleep and study. Their lifestyle illustrates a greater point for the rest of us: What do you need to survive? The average budget is littered with wasteful and thoughtless spending. A steady income may allow you to feel justified in poor budgeting, but it won’t help you achieve a better credit score. Take a lesson from student living by reexamining your priorities. Divide your expenses into needs and wants. For example:

  • Need:
    • Rent
    • Food
    • Car payment
    • Insurance coverage
    • Utilities
    • Savings
    • Debt reduction
    • Clothing
  • Want:
  • A nicer car
  • A trip to Hawaii
  • Dinner out/socializing with friends
  • Freedom to spend whenever I feel like it

Identifying your priorities will help you set goals and discover what’s important. Don’t get lost in your own vices. Harness the power of choice as you pursue credit repair. Change is within your grasp.

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