Tuesday, January 24 2017 22:20

Making a New Year’s Credit Resolution...

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The Rock Father has partnered with Life of Dad and Capital One for this campaign. All opinions and experiences are that of James Zahn.

As we’re into the midst of January and just a few weeks into a new year, there’s been more than enough time to think about the future. I’ve said it before, but I’m not one to make “New Year’s resolutions,” and there’s a lot of reasons for that, starting with the fact that “New Year’s” is among my least favorite holidays, and I can’t explain why. I get an uncomfortable vibe about it, perhaps because I don’t like “Auld Lang Syne,” and the thought of being with all of those people in Times Square makes me feel claustrophobic. Most “resolutions” are made to be broken, so I make goals instead - though this year I’m actually breaking my own rule by committing to a resolution that I actually made some years back: a “Credit Resolution.” One powerful tool in my arsenal is CreditWise® from Capital One®, and not just because I’m already a Capital One customer (anyone - customer or not - can use it!), but because it’s a free and easy-to-use tool to help me maintain and improve my credit score. It’s something I resolved to do for my kids, and there’s a story behind it…

Some years back, before the birth of our first daughter (and thus, becoming “The Rock Father”), I did something that most people in the entertainment industry (particularly, the film side) will warn against: I put all of my eggs in one basket, and used my own money (a big no-no) to launch a major project. Had the promises and agreements that were made with other parties been made good on, I’d have directed my first feature film, and my life path would’ve been altered greatly. Instead, I learned some hard lessons about putting my trust in others and went broke in the process. The experience killed my credit.

Not long after, our first daughter arrived and becoming a parent changed me. That caused me to prioritize things differently and make some serious lifestyle changes. But it didn’t happen overnight.


Credit on the left - not so good. Credit on the right, pretty good. Pretty, pretty good.

Not only did I become more responsible and a better person, but I became mindful of how things like a credit score can matter. Years later, I’m still rebuilding, and fortunately I’m into the higher end of the “average” part of the scale (my wife ranks significantly higher - but I’ll catch up with her!).

Having solid credit health is important, and for my wife and I it’s about our two daughters. There are expenses to be planned for (college still frightens me) and sometimes there are things that come up that are completely unexpected. Just last month, in the midst of a Northern Illinois winter, our furnace went dead. Being able to sit at our kitchen table and fill out a credit application for financing a new furnace is something not to be taken for granted, especially since I’ve lived on both ends of the spectrum. I was approved and the next morning we had installers here getting the new unit put in.

Now, I can constantly use the CreditWise app to see how I’m doing on a regular basis. It uses my Vantage 3.0 score (provided by TransUnion and updated once a week), which I can check as many times as I want without a score penalty. It also contains a credit summary with a full list of opened/closed accounts and their status (mine range from “average” to “good” and “excellent”). I can see balances, inquiries, available credit and more. Plus - it’s sort of addictive since you can run various simulations to see how doing things like paying down balances or opening new lines of credit will affect your overall score. There are also alerts so you’ll know if something gets out of line. That way you will know what needs fixing and have the tools to help straighten it out.

Ready to make a #CreditResolution of your own? Visit Capital One to sign up and download the CreditWise app. It’s free, easy, and you’ll be glad you did!

PS - That film project that I lost out on? Well, it eventually became a comic, so the story ends well. Funny thing is, 13 years later, it could still become a film one day!

James Zahn

James Zahn is best-known as The Rock Father™, a media personality, commentator, adventurer and raconteur. He is the Owner, Publisher, and Editor-in-Chief of THE ROCK FATHER™ Magazine. In January, 2019, after nearly a decade of publishing The Rock Father™ Magazine, he joined Adventure Media and Events as Senior Editor of The Toy Book—the leading trade publication for the toy industry since 1984, as well as The Pop Insider — a destination for all things pop culture, and The Toy Insider — the leading consumer guide for toys and games. He is also editor of The Toy Report, a weekly newsletter published by The Toy Book each Thursday. Zahn has over 27 years of experience in the entertainment, retail and publishing industries.

He regularly serves as a Brand Ambassador and spokesperson for several Globally-recognized pop culture and lifestyle brands in addition to consulting for a number of toy manufacturers. 

Creatively, James has directed/edited music videos, lyric videos, and album trailers for bands such as FEAR FACTORY, has appeared as an actor in feature films and commercials, written comic books, and performed in bands. He currently serves as an artist manager and video director for PRODUCT OF HATE, whose debut album was released by Napalm Records in 2016, distributed by ADA/Warner Music in the U.S. with Universal Music handling global. A new album has been completed and is set for release this year.

Zahn and/or his work have been featured in/on CNN, NBC, ABC, WGN, CBS, GCTN, G4, The Chicago Tribune, Forbes, MarketWatch, Reuters, BusinessWire, Fangoria, Starlog and more. He's appeared as a music expert on CNN's AC360 alongside Anderson Cooper, and has been interviewed by Larry King. In the past he served as a writer for the Netflix Stream Team,  Fandango Family and PBS KIDS, penned articles for Sprout and PopSugar, and was a contributor to Chicago Parent.

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