can i trust you. honor, integrity. borrow and repayAre you trustworthy? What does it even mean – trustworthy? Generally, we use the word trustworthy without stopping to think about its fundamental meaning. Obviously, trustworthy is a compound of two words: Trust and Worthy. What do these mean and what can they tell you about how to answer the question?

Trust is a word that comes from an old Norse word, “traust.” This word was used a thousand years ago in Scandinavia and Northern Germany when speaking of confidence, help, comfort, and protection. You can see the similar spelling between the modern English and the old Nordic word.

Worth and worthy are words that come from Old Saxon wert and Old Indo European root werthan. These words referred to the notion of something that turns and becomes manifest, as in something that is returned. The words have a sense of something that is comes back in an exchange.

If we push them together we get a word that communicates the idea of being comfortable and confident that something given to another will be reciprocated. For example, if I give you a promise, and if you choose to rely on that promise, then you are demonstrating that you are comfortable I will return your trust by fulfilling the promise.

The Credit Question revised: Will you protect my honor and my trust if I rely on your promise to repay? Will you really and truly do this?

Go now and look in a mirror. Can you trust yourself? Do you know how to take care of yourself? Most of us want to answer this question in the affirmative. Most of us also know that we are not always consistent. We allow bad habits to rule too many parts of our lives. If I cannot rely on myself to do the right thing, how can anyone else?

In addition to bad habits that interfere with my self-trust, there is also the matter of weak will and inconstancy. I may not be able to remain loyal to my intentions, because I am susceptible to any little temptation that distracts me from my original good intention.

The Moral and Ethical Response:  If you cannot trust you to take good care of yourself, then how can I trust you to take good care of your promise to me –no matter what it is. If you habitually do any of the following, the chances are that you are not a particularly good credit risk:

  • Start things, but not finish them (“That job was good while it was new and run, but it took too long; I got bored and quit”)
  • Break promises you make to yourself. (“I’m going to bed early so I can be fresh tomorrow”)
  • Let down your friends. (“I know I was supposed to meet you, but Johnny/Sally called me to go out, and I couldn’t say no”)
  • Spend everything you earn (“I put money aside for my bills, but then I saw these shoes on sale, and I really couldn’t pass them up”)
  • Lie. (“I’m late, because I had to take care of my mother/go to the doctor/my car wouldn’t start)

If you do any of these things as a habit, then you probably can’t trust yourself to save a few dollars out of your paycheck. You probably can’t live up to commitments to others.

Good credit is much more than a credit score. If you want good credit, you have to be trustworthy. Ask yourself, what changes would I need to make in my life if I want others to trust me enough to lend me money?