I’ll throw my two cents in as well

We have been in more than one situation where a unique cet of circumstances aligned, and our BEF was not enough to cover a sudden unexpected occurrence. We had to get really really creative in order to get out of those situations without going into debt. Some were so serious that we actually put “get a line of credit” on the table as an option. We were so determined not to do that, that were able solve our problems without establishing new lines of credit. But I can think of at least two (more if I had longer to think) occasions where we wouldn’t have even thought about what to do if we had an open line of credit available to us. There would have been no need for the stress and strain involved in trying to find another way. I know we all think that won’t happen to us, but Murphy is an opportunist of the worst kind.
Good luck!

PS – those credit score breakouts should be “between 600-750″, not “600-650″

We keep losing power today and I was trying to type this out for the second time before I lost it again. Got going too fast. But I just double-checked the rest of my numbers and they’re all what they should be. Also keep in mind that debt-to-income ratios have probably gotten more restrictive since the financial nightmare of the last few years. Lenders who were anxious to lend in my day, are now working from the “once burned twice shy” position. So those ratios might have changed. But the general principle still stands – anything that potentially boosts your debt payments per month is a bad thing. Anything that cuts your debt payments AND increases your savings (ie, your safety net) is a good thing. Focus on those two latter items, and forget the credit card. It won’t help you, and may actually hold you back.