Friday Financial Foul Ups: Overdue Books Prevent Me From Renting an Apartment

Before adding another one of my Financial Foul Ups this week, I wanted to take a few words and thank the people that have already contributed to this series, and those that have agreed to contribute in the future.  I know I have learned from your experiences and I know others have as well.  If you would like to add your own financial foul up to this series, please contact me here.  The more diverse the contributors are, the more likely all sorts of people will have the opportunity to learn from this series.

This week’s Friday Financial Foul Up happened to me about five years ago, although I didn’t find out about it until two years after the fact.  It didn’t cost me much money, but it did affect my life and cause me an extreme amount of stress for several weeks.  Read on to find out what I was so foolish about.

The Situation

My second to last semester of college I planned to do an independent study.  The professor was very hands off and required no meetings, just a 50 page report on the subject turned in at the end of the semester.  I was trying to be proactive about this report, so I went to the big library in Indianapolis and grabbed about 15 books that would help me for my research in July.  Being the procrastinator I was at the time, I didn’t even crack a book until two days before the paper was really due (the first day of the next semester in January).

As you can imagine, I held onto the library books and never renewed them. I knew I was moving from Indiana in 6 months, and had no intention of using their public libraries again after this project, so I had no intention of ever stepping foot into the library to pay the late fees.  Big mistake.

Where I Fouled Up

Two years later, I found a great apartment I was going to rent with two friends while I finished grad school and they finished law school.  Everything was going well, we had settled on a place to live a month or so before we needed to move.  Rent was going to be less expensive, we were going to have more space and we were all excited.  And then it happened; I received a call saying that I had a ding on my credit report that was going to prevent us from renting the apartment.  I was flabbergasted!  I asked about what the “ding” was, and the person responded that I had an $81 bill from the Marion County Government that was unpaid.  It took me a day or two to figure out what the hell that $81 was, and then finally it clicked, “my f-ing library books that I returned 5 months overdue!”

I messed up in a few spots here.  I should have checked my credit report before applying to rent the apartment with my friends.  I should have returned the books on time.  I should have paid the late fees when they were cheap.  I shouldn’t have started the damn paper two days before it was due (I got an A on it by the way!).

What I Learned

I learned the hard way that your credit and credit report DOES matter.  As a 21 year old, often times you don’t think about those kinds of things, but I was forced to recognize their importance through this experience and through the embarrassment of telling my friends we couldn’t rent an apartment because two years prior I blatantly didn’t return library books.

Now I know to check my credit report annually to make sure everything is kosher on http://www.annualcreditreport.com.  I refuse to let this situation happen again.  And I am glad something like this happened at the age of 21 instead of 25 when I needed to buy my car, or when I am in my thirties and looking to buy a house.

There are plenty of morals to this story.  If nothing else, I hope you all remember to please return your library books.  (It will make Mrs. Micah happy, I can promise you that!)

———-

Do you like this series? Check Out The Previous Foul Ups:

Foul Up #5 – Kelly Whalen (The Centsible Life) – Poorly Planned Vehicle Purchase Costs $24,000
Foul Up #4 – Stephanie (Poorer Than You) – Signed My Life Away at Age 17
Foul Up #3 – Deliver Away Debt – How I Wasted Over $10K and 11 Months
Foul Up #2 – Brian (MyNextBuck) – Quick Fixes to Weight Loss
Foul Up #1 – Brian (MyNextBuck) – How I Didn’t Earn $3000 in Free Money

12 Responses to Friday Financial Foul Ups: Overdue Books Prevent Me From Renting an Apartment
  1. Mrs. Micah
    October 23, 2009 | 6:35 am

    Mwahahahahaha, don’t take our books or we’ll find you! >:-]

    Since libraries aren’t able to do their own collections, except perhaps in really small towns, most outsource to collections agencies. Not fun. However, I’ve noticed that it works pretty well. There’s nothing like a bill from a collections agency to make a hysterical patron bring in all their books and/or pay up. We assure them that since they’re paid up, they won’t be sent in our report next month and the agency will drop them. Plus we don’t report to credit agencies until several notices have been sent.

    (I say, “we,” what I mean was when I was working for public libraries. Private ones like mine have their own ways and means. And many colleges won’t give you your diploma if you have unpaid library fines or parking tickets!)

  2. Stephanie PTY
    October 23, 2009 | 7:23 am

    “And many colleges won’t give you your diploma if you have unpaid library fines or parking tickets!” Oh, how right you are, Mrs. Micah! Some colleges will revoke your financial aid, in fact, over un-returned library books. I saw this happen – to my brother. The truth is that he never finished his degree after that, even though he was only a few credits short. I love my brother dearly and it’s heartbreaking to see how one little thing like that ballooned out of control.

    And now it’s been more than a decade since he started college, so his credits have all expired, as far as I know. If he does ever decide to go back to school, he’ll be starting from scratch. :-\

  3. Financial Samurai
    October 23, 2009 | 8:20 am

    Oh man, thnx for sharing. Yeah, some institutions, if they want to be wicked can certainly release the hounds on people.

    When I moved out of my first apartment in SF, I didn’t pay the full last months utility bill, and that knocked my credit score from 780 to like 730. Any lower, and it woulda been dicey.

  4. Rheny
    July 23, 2015 | 11:17 am

    Thanks for spending time on the computer (wntiirg) so others don’t have to.

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