How To Live With Bad Credit (Half of Us Do!)

That’s right–according to the book I’ll introduce in a minute, half of the people in the U.S. have bad credit! Those are not good odds as you look around the office, church, train station, or wherever else you might be.

But according to the authors of Living Well with Bad Credit (blog), there is hope–a lot of hope, in fact. Bad credit doesn’t have to hamper your style. (Side note–there’s actually a good discussion going on at GRS today on whether a credit score is necessary at all!).

Living Well is a guidebook to navigating the currents of life with bad credit on your back. It can feel like a huge struggle, but the authors get into detail about how to do each of the following with bad credit:

  • Banking, when no sane bank would take you
  • Getting a job, while credit checks are on the rise
  • Renting and buying a home, one of the things people worry most about
  • Buying a car, because you need to get around
  • Starting a business, because driven people will keep trying out new ideas 🙂
  • “Living,” yes-living, like vacations, gardening, and frugal purchases

They also share advice on avoiding bad credit scams, the psychology of debt (and debt in marriage), and of course–the obligatory chapter on how to get your credit back into shape.


I see this work primarily as a source book. It’s a broad overview of how to live your life when your credit score is in the tank, and it’s a very comprehensive overview of the typical challenge areas we face with bad credit.

While many sections of the book only cover basic concepts and leave you to explore further on your own, there are also plenty of resources where they count most–the unusual and never-heard-of tactics for dealing with bad credit.

All things considered, this is truly one of those books that fills the void of how to deal with bad credit–not just how to get out (although the authors touch on that), but what to do while you’re in the trenches. For the 50% of us (presumably) that have bad credit, this is a must-read, in my opinion.

Even as someone with pretty good credit, I found about 75% of the material in this book useful for future money moves. In other words, the advice given here is not just for people with bad credit, but is fairly prudent all-around.

Not So Awesome

I did have a few concerns with the book. For example, I was surprised to see errors in the authors’ advice about obtaining new insurance.

They point out that individual health insurance is the most expensive way to insure yourself, and that you can take out money from HSA funds for non-health reasons without penalty.

Our individual policy quotes (which are based on health and age) are more than 50% less than comparable group plans, and the second statement is just a factual error (there is a 10% tax penalty for non-qualified withdrawals). I’m not trying to nitpick at specific things in the book, but I’m just saying: trust but verify.

Giving Away 1 Copy!

For my U.S. & Canada readers, the publisher is giving away a free copy of this book. All you have to do is leave a comment below. If you’d like to touch on some of the issues this book brings up, that’s cool too. I’ll announce the winner in the comments next week (be sure to leave a working email!).

Living Well With Bad Credit is available at (affiliate link) and your local bookstore/library. Enjoy!

9 thoughts on “How To Live With Bad Credit (Half of Us Do!)

  1. My position is a bit different. The last time I checked I had a pretty good credit score, but I’m interested in living WITHOUT credit. I’m debt free and I’d like to stay that way. What I’m looking for are ways to live with NO credit cards, store accounts, car loans, etc. A couple of generations ago almost everyone managed to do that. In today’s plastic-oriented economy, it’s a lot harder than I would have thought.

    1. Jane, I would encourage you to head to Get Rich Slowly via the link in my post! There is a great discussion going on there about exactly what you describe! 🙂

  2. This could be a very good book for someone I know. Who knows, maybe I’ll need it one day when all debts are paid and I don’t “need” a credit score.

  3. I have good credit, but for some reason this book seems like it would have some interesting insights into living differently. I’d be interested in seeing what recommendations that it gives to people with poor credit.

  4. I’ve selected a winner using The third comment in this sequence has won! Congratulations to Nate Harrigan! I’ll be getting in touch very shortly.

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