Am·a·teur; noun 1. One lacking in experience and competence. Con·sum·er; noun 1. One that utilizes economic goods. Cred·it; noun 1. The provision of money, goods, or services with the expectation of future payment.
Those 3 words are a toxic combination because we all utilize goods and services and most of us (yes, you too) usually obtain these goods and services via credit! What makes this combination toxic is the fact that most of us (yes, you too) lack experience and competence, or as I like to refer to it, a “money consciousness” when it comes to what we need and want, in order to live a better and sustainable life!
Make no mistake about it; we are all Amateur Consumers. Don’t think so? Did you take any financial literacy courses in elementary, middle, high school, or college about the differences between buying something with plastic or with a signature – versus cash? Well, not only do most high schools not require any kind of financial literacy education, but according to the Council for Economic Education, only 16 states require testing of student knowledge in economics. Scarier yet; that’s 3 fewer than in 2009 so we’re actually going backwards. Is it any wonder why we’re a nation of amateur consumers?
Financial Illiterate Society
Before you purchased anything on credit, as a matter of habit and mindset, do you think to yourself, “How will I pay this back if I lose my job or if my business closes?” Most of us don’t; I sure didn’t. Do you even stop and think for one second, “is this a need, or want purchase, and do I really need this anyway?”
[Quick side-note]: buying with cash is buying with money you actually have. Buying with plastic makes you believe you purchased something with money you have – when you actually don’t! And even if you buy something with cash, with the right “money consciousness” that decision would be made thoughtfully and correctly…in the beginning, where it needs to happen, in order to avoid credit and financial troubles and to live a happy and more fulfilling life! I have found this out the hard way!
Did You Go To Harvard?
In a recent blog post in the Huffington Post, Elizabeth Warren, who is running for the Senate and was the driving force behind the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Agency said that when she was a professor at Harvard, one of the classes she taught was contract law (for sure – no dummies there) and she asked her students to read a credit card agreement — either an offer that they’d received in the mail or the actual agreement they’d signed onto — and answer some basic questions. She said some were easy like; when is your bill is due? Do you get points? She said her students always answered those.
However, the next questions she’d ask were; does your credit card have an arbitration clause, preventing you from suing in court if the company cheats you? No one knew the answer. How long it would take you to pay off a $1000 purchase with interest if you paid the minimum monthly payment? They didn’t have the answer to that either. She went on to say that when she assigned that basic question as homework, almost all of her students spent hour’s knee deep in fine print without finding the answer. These were Harvard Law Students in a Harvard contract law class who couldn’t answer these questions; can you? As amateur consumers, we need to educate ourselves better, before life happens to us!
Negative Credit Events An Outcome
Most people, and I’m talking from experience, think of the negative credit event that happened in their life, like foreclosure or bankruptcy, as the crisis itself. For sure it’s a crisis and I have survived both, but you have to come to the realization that the foreclosure or bankruptcy is simply an outcome of whatever underlying crisis might have occurred in your life that either impacted your income – or caused expenses that you simply could not overcome financially. Financial illiteracy is one of those underlying root causes.
How can anyone, me included, begin to change our circumstances if we don’t correct the mindset that helped cause our financial crisis in the first place? If we are to regain our upward mobility and accelerate the process of credit recovery, we need to identify the root causes of our financial crisis, and if those are still going on, what steps are you taking toward fixing them? How are you creating a better ‘money consciousness’ moving forward? This must be addressed first, before you can move forward, and after all, isn’t that what you really want to do any? Move forward?
Can’t Play If You Don’t Know How
Fact is; we need to learn, as amateur consumers, how to make credit work for us and learn how to function within the system, instead of becoming a slave to it, or worse; become devastated by it! No one is immune from bad credit either. In my 20 plus years of dealing with credit and financing, I have seen doctors, lawyers, clergy, policeman, firefighters, teachers, and professors alike, all have bad credit. You name the profession; I’ve seen them have bad credit. Without a doubt, bad credit absolutely does not discriminate. But why do you think that is?
For my money, this is due to the fact that we are all amateur consumers or as the Council for Economic Education put it; a society of financial illiterates. If you’re looking to accelerate the process of credit recovery and regain your upward mobility, there’s no way this can happen ‘long-term’ until you correct whatever mindset helped cause your credit and financial woes in the first place. I call this process ‘thought disruption”.
Get Your Head On Straight
Less you think good credit is just for purchasing power only, you definitely need to “get your head on straight.” When I write the words “let credit work for you”, I mean – don’t let it stop you from getting a new job or promotion, getting a new apartment or living arrangements, getting utilities and phone service without huge deposits; getting a “NO”, instead of a “YES”, when you’re quality of life and recovery depend so much on getting that “YES!” Unfortunately, for better or for worse, this is the system we live in so learn how to make it work for you.
Once you start to create this amazing new and balanced mindset, you then need to start learning exactly what it takes to accelerate the process of credit recovery to avoid those “No’s” and regain that upward mobility. It’s why I created the Better Credit Blueprint Series; to show you, step by step, exactly how I’m accelerating the process of credit recovery for myself. Look, the truth is you don’t need to become an expert; just “expert enough” in order to better manage your credit and finances moving forward and protect yourself from future credit and financial devastation.
Lend Your Voice
Are you recovering from negative credit events like bankruptcy or foreclosure? What changes or ‘course correction’ have you taken to create a new ‘money consciousness’ and better your life moving forward? Have you ever really read that tri-folded credit card agreement that came in the mail? Please share your thoughts and comments, in a positive manner, so that others reading this may see that it can be done and that they’re not alone. Lend your voice to the conversation