Passing Along Good Credit Lessons

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Stacey MacGlashan learned a fundamental rule from her father before she entered the adult world of bills and responsibilities: Don't carry credit card debt.

"He drilled it into me," says MacGlashan, 39. "If I make a purchase, I make sure it's something I can pay off when I get the bill."

Good job, dad. Her healthy money habits have paid off over the years. She recently checked her credit score, and

Good job, dad. Her healthy money habits have paid off over the years. She recently checked her credit score, and was not surprised to see a "783" staring at her.

It's the kind of credit score that belongs to a person who spends her money and swipes her credit cards wisely. MacGlashan, a licensed, clinical social worker, lives life simply in Lakewood, Co. with her 9-month-old son, Quinn. She's not a spendthrift. It's been two or three years since she last remembers buying a new pair of shoes, and she plans to drive her paid-off, 2004 Honda CRV until it conks out. Books and camping equipment, which she hasn't purchased in months, pretty much sum up her spending extravagances. Excluding mortgage, household expenses, a low school loan payment and two bank credit cards, her extra funds mostly go to savings with a little for herself and Quinn's needs.

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Not that MacGlashan is a big saver, either. (That's her admission.) But between financial blessings from her family and the few, smart key moves she makes during the year, she's been able to build up and hold on to a sizeable cushion -- more than three month's of her salary.

For example, instead of spending tax refunds, she drops them into a mutual fund, started with money an aunt left her before she turned 18. "I really treat it like an emergency account. I don't pay into it each month, but I wait for my big tax refund, and it goes in every year," she says.

Since becoming a single mom by choice -- she funded Quinn's birth on her own with savings -- MacGlashan cut back her full-time work schedule to 30 hours, three days a week. It's meant making some financial sacrifices so that the two can live comfortably. Does she give up her daily Starbucks run? No. But she always pays bills on time, calculates what's left, then makes adjustments where she needs to with her spending allowance.

"I buy the things I like to have," she says. "But when it's tight, I shift into 'Do I really need that?' mode."

Much like her dad helped guide her finances as a young adult, she plans on passing on her good money management skills to her son, especially tips on keeping a solid credit background.

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