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This Woman Had Bad Credit And Debt From 25 Credit Cards...She Now Owns A Multi-Million Dollar Enterprise

She was robbing Peter to pay Paul. She was living paycheck to paycheck. Finally, enough was enough.

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She was on every form of government assistance offered. She was robbing Peter to pay Paul. She was living paycheck to paycheck, with a non-existent savings account and an embarrassing, credit score. Finally, enough was enough. Arnita Johnson was fed up.

Arnita took charge over her credit and finances and, by successfully doing so, was led to her purpose in launching Luxurious CREDIT™, a credit consulting agency and financial education empire. Grossing over million dollars, Luxurious CREDIT™ is the fastest growing black-owned female ran credit consulting firm in the country.

“I graduated high school with good credit thanks to my mother, but six months later, I messed it up. I had 25 different credit cards and couldn't keep up with the payments. When you have good credit, credit card offers are literally thrown at you and I believe I got addicted to just being approved. I was working a low paying job and just could no longer keep up with the payments. I let the credit cards go believing in the myth that after seven years, those credit cards would disappear from my credit report. I was 18 years old and felt that within seven years, I would be 25 and I could just live with my bad credit."

In addition to the demanding responsibility of keeping credit cards in good standing, the Dallas native had a baby, was living in the hood, and was just trying to get by with what she had. “I worked long hours at a low paying job and went to school at night. I would cry on my way to work, on my way to school, and at night in my bed. I remember an era where I just cried all of the time. I just wanted to get ahead financially."

Arnita's woes didn't stop there.

When a job opportunity with an annual salary of $60,000 slipped through her fingers because of her poor credit score, it was a glaring wake up call. “I went home, pulled my credit report, and my God; my credit was shot. I was embarrassed. I ended up working at a car dealership and while there, I saw the difference between how people were treated with bad credit versus those who had good credit."

“The majority of people aren't taught how to make money, manage money, and definitely weren't taught how to spend it. Applying for too many credit cards, not having a budget, and spending money before you have it may easily cause one to fall in to debt."

A strong will and determination are Arnita's hallmarks. It was these characteristics that prompted her to begin taking one step at a time towards the life she knew she deserved. She knew her road to financial recovery wouldn't be short or sweet.

“Where there is a will, there is a way. Budget! Budget! Budget! You have to find out where all of your money is going. You will find it very difficult to become financially independent if you are using your credit cards as a source of income. Trust me on this, NOT all of your money is going towards your needs, some of it is going to towards your wants. Make your credit card(s) work for you.

"Pay off the balance on your credit cards BEFORE the end of the grace period, this way you aren't paying interest. Use a credit card with a cash back reward system, this way you are making money while spending it on something you would have paid cash for anyways. After creating your budget, use the snowball effect to pay off your credit cards. The snowball effect is when you pay off debts or credit cards with the smallest balances. By doing so, it will encourage you to keep paying off other debts."

By creating a strategic and realistic budget, as well as living below her means, Arnita was able to pay down her debts. Every extra dollar she found from her tight budgeting went towards her financial goals. Slowly but surely, it became easier and the weight of her financial burdens began to lift. Using the snowball effect, she paid off lower balances while continuing to make the minimum payments on her remaining debts. This strategy challenged some of her spending habits.

“It took a major shift in my priorities and I picked up other hobbies. Instead of hanging out with the girls on Friday nights, I would purchase a cheap bottle of wine and cuddle up with a good book. Instead of taking the kids to the movies and pizza, we watched movies on Netflix and made homemade pizzas. I soon realized that I was also saving on gas because I was staying home more.

"I had to learn something that I was never taught in life and that was how to spend, save, and manage money."

Once she had a handle on her spending habits, Arnita began to save. With an estimated 47% of Americans unable to come up with $400 in the event of an emergency, Arnita highly recommends saving as a close second to budgeting on the list of priorities for financial freedom.

“Saving money wasn't easy and took self-motivation and discipline. Because I was living paycheck to paycheck and was pinching any extra money to pay off debts, I found saving any extra money difficult to do. I was very impatient and felt that the little money I was putting back just wasn't enough. I decided to turn off my cable, shop around for cheaper car insurance, and cell phone plans. The extra money I saved each month went straight to a savings account. Starting to see my savings account grow little by little was very therapeutic and exciting for me."

Arnita, a product of her own advice, goes on to describe her process. Set goals…Smash goals…Repeat, seems to be the pattern for this credit industry maven.

Her process wasn't easy in the least. In fact, like the rest of us, Arnita had to take a few “L's" along the way.

“I set short-term goals and long-term goals. I wanted to start setting goals like businesses did. Corporations had quarterly goals and that's what I wanted to start doing. They planned for years to come and budgeted that way. I soon realized I was cutting myself short. I was making business decisions every day. From the clothes I wore, the car I drove, where I purchased gas, where I worked and ate were all business decisions.

"My short-term goals were weekly and monthly and I connected those to my long-term ones. For example, one of my short-term goals was to save enough money to pay off a credit card with a $500 balance that contributed to my long-term goal of paying off all of my credit cards by the end of that year.

"Again, by me being a self-motivator, being able to scratch off shorter goals encouraged me to keep going and reach towards my long-term ones."

Vision and foresight to carry a dream from conception to fruition are what separate the average from the amazing. Rather than pursuing the instant gratification and relief of closing out her credit cards, Arnita took another route.

Arnita details how she was selective during her own process: “When it came to improving my credit report and credit score, I knew that closing out credit cards and waiting for my credit to repair itself was not an option. What was most important was knowing that closing my credit cards was a huge NO-NO. Closing your credit cards can actually lower your credit score because you'd be closing off your credit history, which is 15% of your credit score. I also knew that 30% of your credit score is your credit card usage. Once I began to pay down my credit cards, I knew that my credit score immediately began to increase.

"During this journey, I began to study credit consumer laws and learned that the information on my credit report had to be reported accurately and verifiable. After reviewing my credit report, I saw that a lot of my bad credit came from credit bureaus not reporting correct information about me and by law, I had the right to dispute these errors. With that alone, I was able to increase my credit score over 100 points."

Many women, like Arnita, with vision, passion, and ambition have the drive for success and are ready to “smash the ignition," so to speak, on their goals but feel paralyzed by debt. Some believe bankruptcy to be a viable option for a new start. Arnita calls this a “myth" and reveals the truth in her own terms.

“The myths when it comes to bankruptcy is believing that once you've filed, you are free of all debts and you will have good credit immediately after it is discharged. Sometimes, filing for bankruptcy can make your situation worse. Filing bankruptcy on debts that are past its statue for being sued it not a good idea. Filling debts on collection accounts that cannot be validated within accordance of the law is a waste of money. Lastly, a bankruptcy can remain on your credit report for 7 to 10 years. Moreover, some lenders will not extend credit to those who have filed bankruptcy because they feel they may be a liability and won't commit to paying their debts."

Arnita explains why bankruptcy was never an option for her, “I knew that a bankruptcy would do more harm than good and I knew that no matter how high my credit score, a bankruptcy would hinder me from larger investments, such as purchasing a home and establishing business credit. Besides, I didn't have large assets and felt that filing bankruptcy just wasn't suitable for me."

No longer did the then-single mother have to wait on tax refunds to purchase big ticketed items. Being denied for a job because she couldn't pass a credit check was the straw that broke the camel's back…a wakeup call…an epiphany to confront those financial hurdles with vengeance. “The success of recovering from my own personal credit and financial journey is what led to me to start my business."

Success from one of Arnita's clients

Arnita knew there had to be countless of other women out there like her and she needed a way to reach them. Soon after, her credit and financial educational blog, Luxurious CREDIT™, was born.

Leveraging social media to create the powerful platform purposed to educate, inform, and assist others to break free from financial bondage, Arnita ushers women into living a “Luxurious Credit Lifestyle" and that lifestyle is having the luxury of being able to get approved for what you want, when you want, on your own terms! She was able to turn her own financial mistakes and lessons in to a platform to teach others on financial freedom, self-investment, and ownership.

Her organizations, Luxurious Credit & AMB Credit, has helped hundreds of thousands of women get out of debt, reach their credit goals of home ownership, purchasing vehicles, building generational wealth, and most of all, feeling luxurious and confident about having happy finances.

Her vision remains revolutionary and successful, not only because it improves the lives of others, but because it teaches them that their alternate reality is just within arm's reach.

“God saved my daughter and I from poverty and therefore, I dedicated myself and business to help others. Good credit really changed my life."

It can change yours too.

To interact with Arnita personally or get advice on how to clean up your credit, simply connect with her on Facebook, Instagram or YouTube. You may also check out the Blog www.LuxuriousCredit.com.

ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
Sign up

Featured image by Shutterstock

This article is in partnership with Staples.

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