Publisher’s Corner

Susan Hunt-Bradford

Overcoming Financial Challenges in 2024

By Susan Hunt-Bradord

Many prices for things we usually buy are up. If you look at the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, it shows some interesting facts, including things like food prices being up and gas for your vehicle being down. Housing costs are up, rent is up, interest rates went up, and my bank account is down.

However, I’m still grateful for what I do have. I’ve worked for the past six months at a family business as a financial consultant. I’ve never done this type of work before; it was eye-opening. Some of our customers had good credit and were quickly approved. Many of our customers have filed bankruptcy and came to us for a vehicle. Others had poor credit but didn’t declare bankruptcy and came to us for a vehicle. Lenders approved many of them, but not all, and for those that didn’t get approved, I would get the customers’ back story and then talk to the lenders to try to get the decision reversed. Occasionally, that worked, but usually it didn’t. I also asked those who were declined if they had a co-signer; many did not.

The people who have what I call challenged credit are good people. Bad things happen to all of us. Many had lower credit because of divorce or medical bills. Some just had terrible luck with vehicles needing repairs and other expenses that came up. Many were young and didn’t know much about credit; even older people weren’t aware of the downside of credit cards, repos, and other financial matters.

We need more high school classes regarding finances and FICO scores. We must learn that using credit cards can be a real downfall if you only pay the minimum due monthly. Also, if the total amount you are charging surpasses 30% of the total credit limit, it can negatively affect your FICO score. Unfortunately, the FICO score determines many things, like your interest rate for homes and vehicles and whether you can get credit for necessities like a place to live and a car to drive.

What I’ve learned over the last six months about having healthy finances is to keep credit cards only for emergencies, make sure you have good health insurance, and make the payments for all your bills on time. Whether it’s a credit card, loan, or even a student loan, paying late can lower your FICO score.

In upcoming issues, I will showcase people who work in financial fields who can help us with our knowledge about money and credit and steer us towards better financial health for 2024.

Cheers to a Happy and Healthy New Year.