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 I will continue to use credit responsibly

That is the key! For most, of which I was one, by the time you realize you've been irresponsible with credit, you're already in pretty deep and it's difficult to find that line between responsible and irresponsible use to get back to the right side of that line. So the line has to be redefined. To redefine it for me, the only way was to get rid of all the credit and outstanding debt I possibly could. Once that was done I discovered I really didn't need any "new" credit.

I keep a 4-figure balance in the emergency account and have a check/debit/credit card for that. But mine is one of those cards that if you don't use it for 6 months, they deactivate it. Now I make periodic and consistent contributions to the emergency account, and I'll use that card as a credit card about once a month, to do something cheap and simple, like fill up the gas tank, or maybe to buy birthday presents for someone having a birthday that month. But while I may use it as a credit card, that card would not work and would be declined if the money wasn't in the account it's tied to. Now I don't know "how" it works, but I do know that card number shows up on my credit report. Of course, it's always got a "perfect" payment history with a zero balance due. I don't know why it's there, but I don't care really.

The nice thing is, if I really "needed" money today and didn't have enough in the emergency fund, I could walk into my credit union and walk out a few hours later with whatever it was I needed to borrow - within realistic limits of course.

For example, if I needed a new roof on my house which would cost about $20K, I don't have that much cash. But I know I could have it by the end of the business day. But like you said, the key to using credit is using it responsibly. Is credit bad? Only if used irresponsibly and the borrower makes it bad. But when used responsibly it can be a real life saver in times of need, and contributes to that "financial peace" with the comfort of knowing if you need it, then you got it.