I recently began focusing on FICO scores when I was talking to my son about buying his first house. I gave him the name and contact information for a loan broker who was referred to me by my real estate friend and explained that the first thing the broker would do was run a credit check on him and his partner and see what kind of FICO scores they had. It is the number banks use to measure your credit risk for a loan and since the great recession, they have been very reticent to lend money to anyone with a score less than 700. I also found that people are very private about their number and less inclined to tell you their FICO score than they are to talk about their sex life. If your number is less than 700 it could be for a number of reasons, including: bad debts; not enough credit, not enough variety of credit; too young and not enough time to build a good credit score. That is why I think it is important to start talking about FICO to your children while they are in High School and the importance of getting credit and paying bills on time. One of the first things they can do is get a savings account or checking account at a bank even if you need to make it a joint account so you can monitor the activity. Once your kids graduate from High School, I would suggest they apply for their first credit card. Hopefully they have a job and can pay it off every month but if that is not the case because they are in college and on the Family Assistance Program for the next 4 or 5 years, it is still important that they have a credit card, make some purchases with it and pay it off in a timely manner. Then when they hopefully graduate from college they do have some credit established and can build from there.
Of course I didn’t follow this advice with my own children but fortunately my daughter was pretty savvy about her credit and self sufficient. My son however, never established credit so his score needs to be built up which is going to take a little time. A good website to learn everything you need to know about FICO is myfico.com.