Credit score is a means to an end, not an end in itself

Credit score is a means to an end, not an end in itselfSmartMoney offers 5 New Rules For a Healthy Credit Score. Among them: "A quirk of credit score math actually makes it advantageous to max out certain cards."

Other tips include not asking to have your interest rate lowered, and opening new cards.

Wisdom like this is a case of getting way too nerdy about credit scores, to the point where it actually becomes detrimental to your financial health.

I've never met -- or heard from -- anyone who used credit responsibly for a reasonably long period of time and didn't end up with a credit score high enough to buy a house with a decent-sized down payment. First-time home buyers can get FHA loans with credit scores in the 600s -- which is below average.

And remember: buying a house is really the only intelligent thing the majority of people will ever do with a credit score. Getting higher credit card limits, taking out private student loans, and financing cars and boats are all made easier with a high credit score. They're also easy ways to virtually assure that you will never accumulate wealth.

Please: don't look at having a high credit score as some sort of contest or sign of financial prudence. You can be rich with a low credit score and broke with a high credit score. There are times when it's important to have a good credit score (when you're looking to buy a house) and a history of responsible use of credit will make it possible.

Focus on doing things that will make you rich -- not carrying a balance on credit cards, making all mortgage payments on time, etc. -- and your credit score will follow.
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