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Karma Cleanser 

Will it come back to bite you?

Dear Karma Cleanser:

Here's a story for you about bad credit and karma. Nothing could have prepared me for the excruciating process of buying a home. Several weeks ago I decided that I was sick of shelling out rent each month for an apartment that made me feel like I was still in college. I live in a complex full of university students who treat the place like a dorm -- a very dirty, smelly, noisy dorm.

I was determined to start living like an adult so I started searching for a condo. When I started the process, the real estate agent asked about my credit score. I told her that it was maybe not perfect but above average. With her help, I was preapproved for a mortgage. We started looking for properties within my price range and after a couple of weeks we came across a condo that I fell in love with. It felt like my dream home.

After haggling over the asking price, I went back to the lender to secure the mortgage. At this point I was informed that I was no longer approved because my credit score had fallen. All this happened literally over the course of a week. I lost the condo that I wanted so badly. It took me days of research but I finally found out why my credit score had fallen. An old bill left over from my senior year in college had popped up on my credit report -- literally six years after the fact. I had no idea that this bill even existed or that it had never been paid. It had never showed up on my credit report before.

For this to happen to me now feels like bad karma coming to me and also bad timing. My realtor advised me not to pay the bill but to challenge it by contacting an attorney. I took her advice and got the questionable bill dropped off my credit report. But my score is still lower than it was, which means I have to start my condo search all over on a tighter budget. Should I have just paid the bill instead of challenging it? And what does all this say about my apparently noble dream of home ownership?

-- Super Bad Luck

We can't speak to the advantages of challenging the charges -- such money matters are better left to the bean counters of the world, not your lowly metaphysical columnist. We will say that the spiritual aspect of your predicament reminds us of an old Albert Einstein quote. The master physicist suggested that the most important question a human being can ask is, "Is the universe friendly?" If you answer yes, then perhaps you'll see how the specific timing of your credit foible works to your advantage. Given the uncertainty of the current economy, perhaps you should be thankful for the forced lesson in frugality.

Been bad?

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