Are you a 300, the worst score, in the middle at 650, or on top at 850?
You may not know your FICO or credit score, but you can bet your your insurance agent, your credit card company, and your lender do.
That number is what banks and agencies use to decide if you're credit worthy... and able to pay your bills and loans.
Rashada Jenkins says, "450. I feel great about my credit score."
Shannon Bargas laments, "It was right around 460... around in that area so it's not very good."
Erik Espinoza adds... "It was 750."
The last time Diane Miller checked, her FICO was 760. She knows all about credit scores... working as a mortgage loan officer... helping others try to secure financing.
She says her background's taught her a lot of dos and don'ts.
Miller says, "Paying your bills on time... most important, of course. But people don't realize that the amount of debt you have can negatively impact your FICO score."
Diane's husband, Mike has a sign installation business. The couple's goal is growing the company and figuring out how much to invest and how much to save.
Their financial advisor Dale Payne of Pearl Street Advisors says they're on the right track... doing something many others don't. They put at least ten percent of every paycheck into savings.
Payne adds, "If they continue doing what they're doing now, they will retire on their own terms, the way they want to retire... irrespective of what goes on in this country."
Payne says living by five rules can help boost most FICO scores.
First, keep low balances on credit cards... not owing more than 50-percent of the maximum.
For example if your card has a 20-thousand dollar limit ... don't have a balance higher than 10-thousand dollars. Even better... Owing 30 percent or less... six-thousand dollars on that 20-thousand dollar card.
Second, don't make late payments. Even one delinquency can drop a high FICO score by 100 points. If you already have a low FICO, experts say one more overdue payment won't lower your score by much.
Third, don't let too many folks check your credit. A lot of inquiries could mean you're taking on too much debt or you're in financial trouble and are looking to credit to help you out.
Living at one address at least three years and having a long credit history can also help. Payne says it's better to have a couple of older accounts than a bunch of new ones.
Payne' final suggestion... keep all your monthly bills including rent or mortgage, car payments, everything... to just 35 percent of your monthly income. He says doing that will give you leftover money to sock away in savings... making you better prepared to weather a storm.
And don't forget to check your credit report for any mistakes. If you find some, report them immediately to the three credit reporting agencies, Experian, Equifax, and Trans Union.