Like most American’s, Christopher V. has big dreams. His most recent aspiration is to restore classic cars. “I would love to buy old cars and fix them up. And I love motorcycles- I want to fix a few of those up, too.”

But before his dream of restoring cars, all he wanted was to buy a house. That dream almost didn’t happen.

Ten years ago, it was possible for Christopher to have the newest model car with low, easy payments, the remodeled kitchen on credit, and the Christmas gifts on layaway. He could afford anything, as long as he was willing to sign the paperwork. It seems so long ago, but Christopher still remembers.

When the recession hit, all that went away. Credit was no longer available and payments were no longer easy.

For Christopher, who had started his spending habits young, the cost of the recession was debilitating. He was trapped with payments he couldn’t make, imprisoned by debt. Like 30 million other Americans, it was easier to let the house of cards collapse than it was to try to hold up under the strain.

Yet, as 30 million other Americans will proudly testify, the American dream doesn’t get buried that easily. In 2013 Christopher and his wife wanted a home of their own. The banks made it clear: to achieve this, Christopher had to fix his credit.

Although they had been encouraged to get help with their credit issues, the V. family had heard horror stories about credit repair companies. There were rumors of companies who would take a client’s money, then disappear. Of companies who would keep collecting a monthly payment, but never report to the bureaus. So, rather than fall for a scam, Christopher decided to try correcting his credit on his own.

After almost a year of fighting with the credit bureaus, his credit score was still too low. He had been disputing claims, but there were listings on his credit that had followed him around for years. He felt he could never get rid them. Christopher began to see that he was in over his head because he didn’t understand how credit worked. He needed help.

He finally looked into credit repair companies and joined up with Improve My Credit USA in March of 2014. By July of that year, his credit was soring upwards, and by October, he was ready to start the paperwork for his new custom home.

“We got to choose from different options of paint, cabinets, counters etc., and we pieced together the house we have always dreamt of,” Christopher proudly shared.

Christopher V. didn’t just buy a home, or patch up his credit. Thanks to Improve My Credit USA, he became educated on how credit works. “I learned how to keep my score high. In part, it’s about keeping a certain amount of credit revolving, while not overextending myself. And it’s also about knowing which cards report to which bureaus. Not all cards report the same – that was a surprise for me.”

Now Christopher feels empowered to do anything. He’s broken free from credit prison and enjoys the freedom that great credit has brought him. Including buying those classic cars and restoring them.