Disclosure: This is a compensated campaign in collaboration with Chase and #WeAllGrow Latina Network but all opinions about conquering your credit are my own.
I suffer from a raging case of imposter syndrome. I think most people do. I used to be constantly terrified of failure but then I embraced the failure is not an option mantra. Rather, I realized that failure is always a possibility but letting it get the best of you is not. Life knocks you down, you get right back up again. You might not succeed the very first time you try something but you keep trying that’s what makes you a true success.
My dad raised us to never let fear keep me from trying because everything you ever want is on the other side of fear. Think about it, everything you ever wanted was right there, right past the fear. You just have to make the choice to push through. If you don’t try, you will never succeed. That’s a fact. Not trying equals, a 100% failure ratio. Sometimes trying is painful but it’s almost always worth it.
It’s scary. Believe me, I know. I’ve taken some chances in my life. Done things that made no sense and risked it all but in the end, they were what was right for me and really, that’s the best you can hope for, a life well-lived.
I’m the girl who said yes to a marriage proposal after only 4-months of dating. If that’s not crazy, I don’t know what is. Was I scared? Yes, I was absolutely terrified. Marrying someone is one of the biggest decisions of your life. It took me a few days to answer because I was so afraid of making the wrong decision because getting engaged after 4 months defies logic.
It came down to one simple question, “Do you want to live your life without this man in it?” All the confusion fell away and I said yes because for me it was scarier to think of my life without him than making the decision to marry someone after only knowing them for 4 months. In my heart, I knew that he was my person. Since then, we’ve grown up together. There were mistakes and missteps along the way but together we figure it out.
I spent my childhood poor so taking financial risks has never been my jam. I’m a saver, sometimes I’m even a little stingy now. But when I met my husband, he wanted me to have everything I wanted. He encouraged me to treat myself and I was pretty easily convinced.
At about the same time we started planning our wedding, every credit card company on earth was in our quad at the university handing out “preapproved” credit cards to anyone who wanted one. I took them because I had a wedding to plan and my parents couldn’t afford to pay for it. That was my first of many financial mistakes that have led me to this road of conquering my credit.
I spent on the credit cards like it was Monopoly money. It didn’t feel real because it wasn’t immediately coming out of my bank account. But the bills, the interest and the late payments, they were all very real and still are. I am still paying for my wedding. Did I mention that we’ve been married forever? Interest rates are serious business and paying minimums are for suckers. Consider that some free advice from me to you.
I’ve grown up a lot since I was that girl who got engaged in college after 4 months of dating and taking all the “preapproved” credit cards in the quad. Once I had children, I really began to see the error of my ways but it felt like I was in a credit hole that I’d never be able to crawl out of. I knew I had to for my children. Kids cost money and it was time to get control of our finances. But how do you take control of a runaway train?
Tackling your credit score can be intimidating, especially if you don’t know exactly where you stand so the first step to optimal financial health is being brave and finding out what your credit score is and what your credit report looks like. It’s not something you can look at once and forget about it. Just like your body’s health, you need to do the right things to maintain a healthy financial health and believe it or not, stressing over finances can have a negative effect on your actual health.
Learn the various methods to manage your credit and then utilize those that work best for you. For instance, I learned that some cards have no interest rate at all. Also, some cards offer great points programs or discounts on merchandise if you use their card. Consider all of that when you make your purchases.
I also learned that it is bad to close cards when you still have a balance on them. It’s better to keep them open and not spend on them. Also, transferring high balance cards to 0% interest or lower interest rate cards can definitely help you get a better bang for your buck.
Inform yourself and gather all of the financial knowledge you can. It’s not just about credit. You need to be aware of spending habits, saving opportunities and how these choices will affect you and your family not only today but in the long run. I know it feels like we were all just in the quad, wearing flip flops and taking credit cards but before you know it kids are off to college and retirement is right around the corner. By the way, talk to your kids about financial responsibility now not after they’ve gotten all the preapproved credit cards at university.
I started tracking everything we spend and where it goes. I found out really quickly that we were wasting money on conveniences like eating out often (bad for both your actual health and your financial health), coffee and only paying the minimums on credit cards. If you look at your credit card statements, below where it shows your interest rate it shows how long it will take paying only the minimum and it’s usually something like 12 years. Then it shows you that if you pay a slightly higher amount (seriously it’s like $15-25) per month you can pay off the balance in 3 years and save yourself, in some cases, thousands of dollars. Do that. And always pay on time!
Use tools that empower you to make savvy financial decisions and manage your credit with confidence. Tackling your finances can be terrifying because you are afraid of what you might find, but this is the time to face your fears and conquer your credit and give yourself the freedom to feel confident in your finances.
Also, one last thing I learned, the lower your balance and the better your credit, the easier it is to negotiate lower interest rates. Something to consider.
If you’d like to learn how to #ConquerYourCredit visit the Chase Slate Credit Card webpage for additional information and stop letting fear hold you back from living the big, beautiful life that you are meant to live.
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Chase and #WeAllGrow Latina Network. The opinions and text are all mine.