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finances, tips for conquering your credit, financial stability

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.

I never imagined that one day one of my biggest fears would be facing my own financial reality and conquering my credit.

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?

Here are a few tips for conquering your credit and regaining your financial stability:

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.

How are you conquering your credit?

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Chase and #WeAllGrow Latina Network. The opinions and text are all mine.

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Chase, talking to kids about money, teaching kids to save

The talk, the “money talk”, that is it’s just about as frightening as the sex talk with your kid and just as important because if you get it wrong, the consequences can be dire so talking to your kids about money is very important. In fact, a major study conducted by Chase and Center for Research on Consumer Financial Decision Making at the University of Colorado discovered that Boomers put more value in having the “money talk” with their kids than “the talk” about “the birds and the bees”.

Talking to kids about money is that important!

As far as I’m concerned, especially since my children are of the snowflake generation and they believe life is fair and they get everything they want just for the simple fact that they exist, it’s never too early to start talking to kids about saving money, being financially savvy with their futures and planning for the future. And as everyone knows, knowing is half the battle. How can we expect our children to make good financial decisions if we don’t talk to them about it? As uncomfortable as talking to your kids about money may seem, it is necessary to boost financial confidence and preparedness in our children.

I grew up very blue collar. We did not have a lot of extra money. There were no grand vacations and elaborate luxuries. Our family lived on a budget and we knew it. Everything we had, for the most part, was a necessity. Luxuries for when you were old enough to get a job, work hard and pay for it yourself. Which is what we did. But we were taught from a very early age to save our money because we didn’t know when we would get more. There was no allowance for us.

Luckily, our girls have never personally known what it feels like to be poor or go without. But I’m not sure that is a good thing either. I think we’ve created a false sense of security. They have everything they need and most of what they want and they’ve never had to go without. This makes me feel happy that we can provide this ideal childhood for our girls but on the other hand, I feel like I am doing a major disservice to them because am I really teaching them to live in the real world? I don’t think so.

This is exactly why we should be talking to kids about money.

So, the Big Guy and I have put into place an allowance system. The girls do chores to earn their allowances. It’s $20 a month and it is theirs to do with as they please. We cover the necessities but if the girls want an ice cream cone and I had no intention of buying ice cream or if they want a Chapstick and they already have 3 or a new shirt and they absolutely don’t need one, they have to buy it themselves.

We explained savings and interest and the value of saving for something that you really want versus buying everything you see. Impulse buying is a fleeting feeling of fulfillment. There is no way you are going to enjoy that giant stuffed animal as much as you will love having the money to spend on vacation on something special. But the only way to teach them is to ultimately let them make their own decisions.

In the beginning, I won’t lie, they just spent money like it grew on trees, like it wasn’t real because they hadn’t earned it. Believe me, I understand this concept because I did the same thing in college with my credit cards they were handing out in the quad. It wasn’t “real money” so I just spent it like it was monopoly money. I’d pay it back “someday”. BAD IDEA!

Lately, I’m noticing the girls are shopping much more carefully. They are putting stuff back. They are asking themselves, do I need this? Do I really even want it? Is it worth all the cleaning I did to earn it? More often than not, the answer is no. I’m seeing a trend of saving for bigger things. They are loving the freedom that having their own money comes with. For instance, they know that if they want to buy ice cream, they can whenever they want. But they now ask themselves, is today the day I really want the ice cream?

Talking to kids about money is actually be working.

Now, not all Hispanic families grow up poor but a lot of us are direct descendants of immigrants and when you make a move like that, to an entirely different country, you learn a little something about the importance of saving money and the value of a dollar. A recent study showed that Hispanics started saving for retirement at age 27 vs. age 31 for the general population. Also, Hispanics are more likely to spend on ‘things’ over ‘experiences’, while Americans would equally spend on the two (60% vs. 50% general population). Things are tangible expressions of financial wealth, whereas experiences are not.

However, this is not true for me and my immediate family. I definitely believe that experiences are priceless. For example, for me, travel and showing my children the world and other cultures is more important than having all the coolest things. Of course, that is coming from a perspective of privilege because we do have all the things we want now.

 

That same study showed that Hispanics are especially open with their kids about money. I think this goes back to the fact that, most of us, have at one point not so long ago struggled financially. It might not have happened to us directly but it happened to a family member who is still alive and able to serve as a cautionary tale of struggle.

    • 56% Hispanics said their parents were open about money with them growing up, versus 45% of the general population.
    • 67% of Hispanics regularly discussed finances with parents growing up, versus 55% of the general population.
    • 49% of Hispanics said their parents told them how much money they made, versus 36% of the general population.

I think these all have a lot to do with the focus Latinos put on family. We are very open with our children and the first person we turn to in a crisis or for advice is our family; brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles and grandparents before we would ever go to a professional because a family member is always going to have the best intentions for you.

Chase understands the importance of learning more about each generation’s financial habits, which aids them in providing even more sound financial advice. The findings from the study reinforce the importance of having open and honest conversations about finances, no matter where you are in your life.

Chase, talking to kids about money, teaching kids to save

How open are you with your children about money? How important do you think talking to kids about money is?

To learn more about the study and follow the Generational Money Talks series, please visit Chase.com/LaCharla.

How are you talking to kids about money and teaching your children the value of money and saving for the things that matter the most?

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Chase and #WeAllGrow Latina Network. The opinions and text are all mine.

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