In 2011, I wrote a book called "The Wealth Cure: Putting Money in Its Place," where I took readers on a journey to better understand money and the role it plays in our lives. Ultimately, the "wealth cure" is about creating financial freedom and viewing money as a tool to be used to achieve our goals.
We all have a complex relationship with money, yet most of us don't fully understand money's 360-degree impact on our lives. Many may find the topic too daunting and choose to ignore their financial issues. We also live in a time when teaching financial responsibility to children and young adults is increasingly important. While math is taught in every school from first grade through high school, the basics of money management—budgeting, saving, debt and credit—is not.
Money is an important resource to help us build both the lives and the communities we want. Being truly "wealthy" is about being healthy and happy and having a positive relationship with money. It is my hope that more people will understand that the power is within all of us to build true wealth for ourselves, our families and our communities. That is why I chose to write this book, and to use my platform as a public figure to be an activist and advocate for financial literacy.
"You cannot be free if the cost of being you is too high." — "The Wealth Cure"
When it comes to credit scores, there is a direct relationship between your credit score and the "cost of being you." Credit scores play a vital role in our financial lives. A high credit score can mean access to the best rates on big loans, like a mortgage. A low credit score, on the other hand, can cost you money. A recent study found that a person with "subprime" credit (having a FICO® Score* of 580 to 669) will incur, over their lifetime, nearly $200,000 dollars in higher interest rates and fees. "Bad credit" can limit us from achieving what we want, like being able to buy a home or a car at an affordable interest rate. Moreover, in some communities, credit scores impact car insurance rates, while apartment landlords often look at credit scores of applicants during the rental process. Low credit scores, in short, can create financial obstacles and hinder us from achieving some of our goals.
But I want you to know something: You are NOT your credit score! There are things you can do to take control of your credit score and improve your financial future.
For nearly a decade, I've talked to a lot of people about money and empowerment, and along the way, espoused the use of financial tools to improve one's financial health. That's why I am excited to partner with Experian to talk about a new and innovative platform called Experian Boost™†, which gives everyone the ability to potentially improve their credit scores instantly.
Many Americans are still confused about credit and credit scores, and as a result, are missing how important good credit is to all areas of their financial life. The truth is, building a good credit history is pretty straightforward. The most important thing you can do is pay your bills on time and not take on too much debt. But sometimes there's a Catch-22: To build up a credit score, you need to show you are responsible about paying credit on time. But if you can't access credit in the first place, where do you even start?
That's the difference with Experian Boost. It gives you credit for the bills you're already paying on time—ones that, until now, haven't affected your credit scores. We all have to pay utility bills, like water and electricity. Most of us have a cell phone or a cable bill, as well. Experian Boost factors those payments into your credit file—giving you the opportunity to instantly increase your credit score. I've helped many people from a variety of backgrounds try Experian Boost, and they feel so empowered when they see their credit score improve right in front of their eyes!
This financial tool has the potential to be a game changer and help Americans take control over their own financial lives. I want to encourage people to do just that, starting with this small but important piece of their money. In my book, I talk about the difference between "dumb money" and "smart money." Dumb money is things like big credit card interest payments, or other kinds of costly spending habits. Smart money, on the other hand, helps you increase your value and invest in yourself, like paying for an education or a home. A good credit score is a tool that can help you with the smart money side of the equation.
I'm looking forward to continuing this conversation to help Americans empower themselves and their money. In fact, I'll be speaking across the country about credit. If you want to empower yourself and your community, join me and spread the word! Support the campaign we are launching called "Boost America," a movement to challenge cities, towns, families, friends—everyone across the country—to take the step to engage with their credit. By checking your credit scores and reports, and using Experian Boost, you can start on the path to more financial opportunities and greater financial freedom.
Financially empowered individuals improve communities; happy and healthy communities improve cities; and prospering cities can positively affect our nation. Let's educate, empower and boost everyone!
Want to instantly increase your credit score? Experian Boost™ helps by giving you credit for the utility and mobile phone bills you're already paying. Until now, those payments did not positively impact your score.
This service is completely free and can boost your credit score fast by using your own positive payment history. It can also help those with poor or limited credit situations. Other services such as credit repair may cost you up to thousands and only help remove inaccuracies from your credit report.
Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are author's alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer or other company, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. All information, including rates and fees, are accurate as of the date of publication.
This article was originally published on May 1, 2019, and has been updated.
*Credit score calculated based on FICO® Score 8 model. Your lender or insurer may use a different FICO® Score than FICO® Score 8, or another type of credit score altogether. Learn more.