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The Budgetnista Tiffany Aliche Reveals How Her Credit Score Went From 547 To 800+

There's one thing that we have quite mastered yet--managing our own money. That’s right, we live in a time where we spend way more than we..

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As women in and out of the workforce, we have made tremendous strides. We've conquered everything from becoming our bosses to leadership roles where we've learned how to manage our own teams and work within the parameters of a company's budget. Yet, there's one thing that we have quite mastered yet--managing our own money.

That's right, we live in a time where we spend way more than we make--pushing aside bills and other necessities for that limited edition designer bag, or swiping our credit card every chance that we get, thus putting ourselves in more debt and sitting on a pathetic credit score that will do more harm than we can imagine.

Learning financial literacy is very important, and practicing good financial behavior can help you live the type of life you desire. Yet women of color and millennials typically overlook their dwindling bank accounts and do not educate themselves. It is only when we experience a financial hardship that we take a closer look at our finances and try to make improvements. Sometimes when this happens, we have dug ourselves in a low ditch, and while it is not impossible to get out of it, it is definitely harder.

I recently sat down with Tiffany Aliche, who is a financial guru and well-known as The Budgetnista to discuss how she went from having a 547 credit score to a score over 800 (she also saved $40,000 when she was only making $39,000 a year!), and her tips on saving, budgeting, and on building wealth:

You Can Easily Lose 40 Credit Score Points In Just One Week

At the age of 23, I had a credit score of over 800, which is an A+. A few years later, the recession hit. I lost my job, and I couldn't afford the mortgage or pay my bills. Since I wasn't paying my bills, my credit score dropped. People don't understand that your credit score is like your GPA for how you deal with money. When you don't pay your bills, your GPA drops. My credit score quickly dropped from 800 to 547 which is like a D-.

One thing that people don't realize is that 35% of your credit score is your payment history - so in other words it is contingent upon if you pay what you are supposed to pay. To rebuild my credit score, I worked hard to pay off credit cards in full at one time. When you do, it makes your credit score jump like Jordan. If you just pay the minimum amount on your bills, your credit score will do a slow climb. But if you want to make your credit score jump like Jordan, pay off a small amount of your credit card each month. I don't know why, but credit card companies care less about the amount you pay, and more about your habit in paying.

So if you pay off something in full, they are wowed. It doesn't matter if you have $8 on the card, if you pay it in full, it will make a difference. So when I figured this out, I put Netflix on one of my credit cards that didn't have a balance, and I paid it in full every month. Netflix would charge my card $8 bucks, and then I would pay them $8 bucks each month and I would see my score go up. So then I decided to do two cards like that. I had Netflix on one, and my gym membership for $20 bucks on the other. So every month, I was paying off 2 cards in full. And within a year and a half, I went from 547 to 750, which is a solid B/B+.

You Can Inherit Good Credit From Other People

To build good credit, you can be an authorized user on someone's card that has great credit. Basically what that means is that they can add you on their card as an authorized user, and you can inherit their good behavior because whenever they pay their bill, it will reflect positively on you. The primary credit card holder doesn't have to actually give you the card either - although as an authorized user you could get one.

Even if the primary credit card holder decides to stop paying their bill, it won't mess up your credit as an authorized user. That's the beauty in it - you only inherit the good credit, not the bad.

You Can Get A Secured Card When You're Young To Build Credit

When you are young, it is unlikely that you will be able to get a regular credit card because you probably will have no credit history. No credit history in the credit world is just like having bad credit or being considered a bad driver because you have no driving history. You haven't proven yourself.

To start building up your good reputation, go to your bank and ask if you can apply for secured card. A secured card is like a credit card with training wheels. The way it works, you give a bank anywhere from $300-$600 and they place it in a savings account for you. Then they give you a credit card that has that amount on it as your credit limit - so basically you are borrowing from yourself. So if you don't pay your credit card, it will take away the money that you have in your savings account. If you treat this card right, and you pay your bills when you should, they will take the secured card away and make it a regular credit card.

You Should Have At Least 3 Bank Accounts For Your Money

I recommend having at least three accounts - one just for your bills, another for spending, and then the third for savings. The account for spending should be attached to your debit card, and then the account for your bills and the account for your savings should not be attached to your debit card.

If you have the direct deposit option through your job, have your money automatically transferred to each account. Your employer may not tell you, but you can have more than one account connected with direct deposit.

Having An Online Bank Is A Must

I recommend having an online bank for your savings account because it makes your money inconvenient, and inconvenient money gets saved because it is not easily accessible. If you want to rate an online bank, go to magnifymoney.com and you can check out reviews and information on the bank.

I always tell people to have a regular bank for ease of use, an online bank for savings, and then a credit union. Credit unions are great because they will give you the best interest rates. Most credit unions are nonprofit, which means the interest that they ask you to pay is just to keep their lights on so the interest rates are lower than other banks.

Ask About Your 401K Day One Of The Job

On your first day at work, before you get into the swing of things, ask about 401K matching. Better yet, ask about this during the interview and see if the company offers it. For your retirement, many companies will match up to a certain percentage of your income that you deduct from your paycheck for retirement. So if you put 3% of our paycheck down for retirement, your company may match it. With some companies they tell you that you have to wait to be vested (usually 30 days or more) to reap this benefit, but you may can start it early if you ask.

In College, Stay Away From Private Loans Because They Are The Devil

If you get a private loan and miss one payment, you immediately fall into default. Default is on the same level as foreclosure or bankruptcy and we all know bankruptcy is like having a big, black F on your credit report. If you fall into default, it will prevent you from getting a car, an apartment - you name it. Also with a private loan, you will likely have to have a co-signer, so if you miss a payment and fall into default then your cosigner is also affected.

If you get a federal loan, you have to miss nine payments to get you to the default stage. One other thing about federal versus private loans is if you fall into a financial hardship, the federal loans will help you out and will be more understanding. But with a private loan, somebody could die and the money would still be due - they would just reach out to the consigner for the money.

You Can Get Paid To Shop

When you are in school, began saving early and get in the UPromise program. It is free to use! What I love most about it is that you can go online and sign up and then your register all of your debit and credit cards, and every time you use your registered debit or credit card at a partner store you will get cash back for your student loans. With UPromise, if you don't use it for your student loans, you can ask them to just cut you a check.

Also, whether or not you are in school, sign up for Ebates. Whenever you want to buy something online, type the store name in Ebates (it could be Target, Groupon, or whatever), and then Ebates will take you to their site and will record how much you buy and give you cash back.

Learn How To Live Off Less Than You Make

After you graduate from college, live a simple life. That can be getting a roommate or getting a used car, just learn how to live simply. If you don't, you will be forced to work a job you probably hate just to make enough money to afford your lifestyle.

Now that you know some of the secrets on budgeting, saving, and building wealth, implement these steps today and hold yourself accountable. An easy way to learn more financial tips and hold yourself accountable is through Tiffany's Live Richer Challenge and through her book The One Week Budget. In her book, she teaches us how to make responsible, financial decisions, while living a life that we desire. The Live Richer Challenge is a FREE, online financial challenge that can help you achieve your financial goals in just 22 days.

Tiffany created this program last year, and her goal was to have 10,000 women signed up and to help them master their money effectively and efficiently. In the end 20,000 people signed up and collectively all of the women saved 4 million dollars and were able to pay off over half a million dollars of debt together.

Women of color make up 70% of buying decisions, so it is time to change our mindset and change our financial situations. Let's start today and build a culture of wealth!

Related Post: 4 Lessons I Learned After Climbing Out Of $35,000 Debt While Making $12 An Hour

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
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Featured image by Shutterstock

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