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Growing up in a single parent home I often heard about our financial struggles. My family was always trying to make ends meet from month-to-month. By the time I became a preteen, I had seen members of my household have their car repossessed, struggle to pay credit card bills, and household utilities had been shut several times off for nonpayment. I will never forget being around 9 years old and walking into the bathroom and turning on the faucet only to find out that the water would not get hot because we could not afford to pay the bill. Unfortunately, no matter how hard my mom tried to budget we would always fall short. As a child I was determined that when I became an adult I would handle my own finances in a better way. Thankfully, I have been able to do just that by learning how to make intelligent financial decisions.
On my way to college, I sat in my sister’s Honda Civic, as she drove me 7 hours to the university I planned to attend. I remember when she looked over at me and said, “There will be a lot of tempting credit card offers for you to sign up for when you turn 18, don’t fall for them. Do yourself a favor and just throw them in the trash. Also, as soon as the business office opens, go in and apply for a work-study job.” I took her advice and while in college I avoided signing up for credit cards.
A Change of Perspective
My outlook about credit cards and finances soon changed though. Especially, when I took a personal finance class during my sophomore year. It was in my first business class that I learned the importance of credit, how to budget, evaluate credit cards, and how to take advantage of compound interest. My biggest take away from the class was that credit cards are basically loans and should be treated as such. People should only use credit cards when they have the money to pay the bill.
Managing Personal Finances
After taking the class, I understood the importance of credit and how to use it without ending up deep in debt. I realized I didn’t need to avoid credit cards, I just needed to use them responsibly to grow my credit and build my credit worthiness. So, a few years after graduating, I married my college sweetheart and we began making the biggest financial decisions of our lives. Together, we went through a first time home buyers program and learned how to get errors removed from our credit report. We also learned about laws like The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), first passed in 1970, was on our side and would help us ensure the information on our credit report was correct and accurate.
A Path to Achieve Our Goals
We checked our FICO scores and received our credit reports from the three credit bureaus. We felt motivated to handle all of our financial decisions responsibly. We did our research and found lenders who would give us the best interest rates. This allowed us to purchase our first home in our early twenties. By the time I was 26 we paid off all of our college student loans and my husband paid for his graduate studies out of pocket. We learned to utilize the 401k matches from our employers to save up for retirement.
Only Time Will Tell
In addition to this, for many years we lived below our means. For instance, during the first six years of our marriage we managed to get by with just one car between the both of us. Then, when the time was right, we saved and purchased a second reliable used car in cash.
Achieving Credit Worthiness
Learning about how to use my credit properly has also allowed me to teach my family and others how to improve their credit. My family has gotten a lot better with their finances. They have improved their credit, some have purchased their own homes, and now they no longer have to worry about being unable to pay for their household utility bills or their car notes.
As a stay-at-home mom I am currently working towards earning enough income to be able to put aside more money for my retirement. My current family financial goals center around keeping our emergency fund stocked, funding the college education of my daughters, paying off our home mortgage, and making sure that our monthly expenses are paid in full.
Now, after showing my family that I could manage my own money responsibly, I have been able to direct them to places and programs with experienced credit advisors that can help them repair their credit like Lexington Law firm, one of the oldest and most trusted leaders in the credit repair industry. The company even has an app that gives people access to vetted reliable services and real-time solutions. It’s a great way to gain access to leaders in credit repair who fight for the rights of their consumers.
Learning how to manage personal finances and use credit is definitely a life-changer.
Seven Ideas for Handling Finances Better