August, 2010:

Want to Be on a Board? Boston’s Community Centers Want You

A lot of young people in Boston want to get on Boards and contribute to the City in a meaningful way. There are A LOT of Boards out there who want young people to join. For whatever reason, sometimes the connection gets lost.

Well ONEin3 is here to help make that connection.

On September 7th, the Citywide Board of the Boston Centers for Youth and Families, Boston’s network of community centers, is electing new members. We know this is short notice (maybe that’s part of the problem!) but if you’d like to help your local community center build programming, manage its money, grow, cater more effectively to young people, market itself or anything else, this is your chance to make a BIG impact.

If you’d like to sit on the Citywide Community Center Board, please email Nikko Mendoza at NikkoMendoza [at] gmail [ dot] com with a letter expressing your interest and highlighting any pertinent experience.

If you’d like to get involved with any of the other Community Centers, peruse this handy list with contact information.

You should also know that the Community Centers offer great services, often for way less than you would pay at a gym, pool, tennis court or other location. Well worth looking at.


Zumix’s Run to the Beat Brings Us 4 Things We Love – Zumix, Eastie, Running and Piers Park…Oh Also Beats

The perfect storm of events is coming up on September 11th. Zumix, a fantastic musical education non-profit in East Boston, is hosting a 5K road race called Run to the Beat.

Let’s break this down:

1. Zumix trains kids to play music and we know they’re great. We were there when a Zumix band rocked the Intercontinental at a launch event for the Harbor Walk’s mp3 tour. Anything we can do to support them, we’ll do.

2. East Boston is great, as evidenced by the awesome ONEin3 Gets Around that we did there. I mean really, pupusas at Taqueria Cancun, a 4 course meal at 303 Cafe, Harbor Arts, Scup’s all a 10 minute max T ride from downtown? Did we mention that all that was $20? This neighborhood is outstanding (and there’s plenty more too).

3. 5K road race to start off a beautiful Saturday? We love our fitness oriented weekend activities.

4. Piers Park - Need I say more?


When: Saturday, September 11th at 9am

Where: Starting in Piers Park

Registration: Buy your entry for $30 here


Founder, Mentors and Energy Wanted - Learn about the Founder Institute!

The Founder Institute is a technology startup accelerator with a brand new presence in Boston. If you know them from their work in New York, Silicon Valley, across Europe and many other places, you know they’re quality.

Well, they have a new presence in Boston and are hosting events in the next few weeks that you might want to attend. This is great news.

September 2nd come meet some of the companies involved in the Institute in the current session. If you’re looking to break into the startup world, this is a can’t miss event. Among others, you’ll meet Phil Libin of Evernote, Dan Shapiro of Ontela and Alexei Ercha of Luminus Devices. You can’t really go wrong.

September 16th, The Founder Institute hosts an open house. See what the Institute can offer you and your startup. Once again, a can’t miss event. If you’re an experienced entrepreneur, head over to find out about mentoring new startups. Meet Craig Kanarick of Razorfish, Dharmesh Shah of HubSpot and Matt Johnson of OmniStrat.

Get your tickets now because they’re going fast!


Four FICO Score Myths, Busted

photo: TheTruthAbout… 

FICO scores have been around since 1989, but they weren’t thrust into the public’s eye until the mid 1990’s when Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac endorsed their use in the mortgage environment.  And by “endorsed” I mean, “forced.” 

Mortgage lenders had until the late 90’s to fully implement FICO scoring into their underwriting processes.  I was at FICO (FICO) when this happened and one of my jobs was to criss cross the country speaking at mortgage broker and banker events teaching these really angry people about the new tool that just got shoved down their throats.  Talk about being the least popular guy in the room.

This GSE “endorsement” also meant a whole lot of public scrutiny of a tool that had always remained a secret to consumers, albeit unintentionally.  I mean, if you don’t sell something directly to consumers then why would consumers know about it?  No, FICO’s entry into the mortgage market meant more press, more attention, more criticism, more work for me, and a whole lot of incorrect information being passed off as the truth.

So, here is a list of a few FICO score myths that I have run into over the past 12 years.  And, the subsequent debunking.  There are certainly many more, which I will address as time goes on.

FICO Scores Consider Income, Yes or No? 

The answer is NO.  The FICO scores that we’re all familiar with are credit bureau-based scoring models.  That means they only consider information on your credit reports.  And, guess what, your income is not on your credit reports.  There are models that consider income, as listed on your credit applications, but these are not the FICO scores that we all know and love.

John’s Final Thought: Income is a measurement of capacity (whether or not you can afford your payment) not creditworthiness (whether or not you’ll choose to make your payment.)

Closing a Credit Card Will Improve Your FICO Scores, Yes or No? 

The answer is NO.  This makes common sense, less available credit means you can’t get into as much credit card debt and therefore you’re a better credit risk. 

The problem with that hypothesis is that it’s incorrect.  And, thankfully, credit score development isn’t a common sense exercise.  The empirical evidence shows, and has shown for over two decades, that having a lot of “open to buy” (unused credit limits) equates to better credit risk.  This is commonly referred to as “revolving utilization”, the percentage of your credit limits that you’re currently using.  Closing cards can actually increase this utilization percentage and lower your scores.

There’s a secondary myth to this one that says keeping your utilization percentage at or below 30% is the best for your score.  That’s also incorrect.  Nothing magical happens at 30%.  It’s better than 40% but not as good as 20%.  In fact, according to FICO, consumers who have scores above 760 have an average utilization percentage of just 7%.

John’s Final Thought: Shoot for lowering your balances to $0 if you can but if you can’t, get them as low as you can and your FICO scores will benefit.  NOTE: This only applies to credit cards, not installment loans.    

Closing a Card Causes You to Lose the “Age” Benefit of That Account. 

This is incorrect.  One of the secondary factors in your FICO score is the average age of the accounts on your credit reports.  The older the average, the better for your scores.  There’s a myth that closing a credit card account will somehow remove that card from consideration in the average age calculation. 

Here’s the real deal: FICO scoring considers open and closed cards when determining the average age of your accounts.  Closing the card doesn’t remove it from your credit reports so it’s still going to be considered. 

John’s Final Thought: Be careful when deciding to close credit card accounts.  Re-read myth #2 above for the reason. 

Spreading Balances Across Multiple Cards Helps Your Scores. 

Incorrect. First off, there’s no hiding credit card debt by doing this.  $10,000 on one card is still the same amount as $1,000 on 10 cards.  The aggregate revolving utilization percentage (see #2 myth above) is that same either way so you gain nothing there.  But, what you have just done is to increase the number of accounts you have with a balance greater than $0, which is going to lower your scores.

John’s Final Thought: Stop trying to beat the system.  Do you think the folks at FICO are idiots?  Pay off your credit card debt, stop trying to shuffle it around.           

Keep your eyes open for episode #2 of FICO Mythbusters.  Coming soon to a Mint near you.

John Ulzheimer is the President of Consumer Education of and the author of the book “You’re Nothing But A Number.”  He is an expert on credit reporting, credit scoring and identity theft. Formerly of FICO and Equifax, John is the only recognized credit expert who actually comes from the credit industry.  He has served as a credit expert witness in more than 60 cases and has been qualified to testify in both Federal and State court on the topic of consumer credit.