I spent 2002-2004 being a complete idiot. I hadn't ever had credit before (or bills) and just didn't pay things, thinking they'd go away. Over the course of those two years I racked up debt.

Then I tried to rent a new apartment. And hey! They check your credit report! And mine was abysmal.

Two years ago, with the help of a friend I started getting my act together. I applied for a secured card (Orchard Bank) for $500. Several months later I got an actual, real credit card via Household bank (Orchard and Household are HSBC companies) for $1,000. They've since raised my limit to $5,000. I know this seems like a small amount of money to people who get pre-approved for $20,000 all of the time, but for me it feels fantastic. Yes, the terms on the credit cards are awful, but I've been paying my bills on time every month and using my credit carefully.

I have two problems:

1. My credit report is a mess. I have 6 collections (with drop-off dates ranging from 02/2010 to 11/2011) and three charge-offs.

2. My variety of credit is two lines of revolving credit. That's it.

On the plus side, I now have a good, steady job and the total amount of those 6 collections is under $2,000, an amount I could pay today if I needed to and still have money in the bank for rent, groceries and several new pairs of shoes.

I'm here because I need to get my credit back in order and I'm trying to figure out the steps I should take. All but one of the items on my Spreadsheet o'Credit is outside of California's 4 year SOL for a judgment (and in another 2 months that one will be too).

I'm here to learn and I'm here to get my life back in order. Someday I'd like to have a family and buy a house, but that's not going to happen without getting this part of my life in order.

So, where do I start? All of the debts are outside of that 30-day window of dispute. Do I still write letters of validation or do I request a pay for delete (and does that work?!?!).

Thanks in advance for all of your help. I look forward to learning from the folks here and getting my credit report clear and my score from a 602 to 700's.