By Ilex Bien-Aime
I was out with some friends a few years ago when a girl said that she wouldn’t date a man unless she saw his credit score. At the time that statement made me mad but my thoughts have since changed on that subject. For so long I didn’t understand the importance of getting my finances in order, I thought that if you had enough cash, you could buy whatever you wanted and though that maybe true to a certain extent, having good credit is just as important as having a lot of cash. Unfortunately, too many people are uneducated when it comes to financial literacy. We become too focused on keeping up with the Joneses, amassing huge amounts of debt that we spend years trying to correct.
God knows that I could smack myself for my stupid financial decisions in my teens and early adult years. My family never taught me about saving my money and as I look back, I seriously cannot remember a single conversation about credit. When I think of it, many of them were living check to check and maybe I thought that if I went to college, I would not suffer that same fate. I wish somebody would have said, “Ilex, don’t apply for that Macy’s card….don’t apply for that Burdines card…. don’t get all of those credit cards when you don’t know how you are going to pay for them”. Someone should have grabbed me by the back of my shirt when companies were trying to entice me with free t-shirts and pizzas on my college campus.
I remember thinking to myself that I would one day make enough money that bad credit wouldn’t be a problem -boy was I wrong. Being irresponsible with my credit has caused me a great deal of heartache throughout the years. A few years ago I applied for a job with the U.S. Marshalls Department and I was turned down because my credit was so horrible. Literally, I lost a dream job because of credit. I didn’t even know that it was possible to not be hired because of my finances. Besides not getting jobs, I realized that getting loans had become close to impossible. When trying to buy a car, I found someone to give me a loan but the interest rate was so high that it seemed as if I were paying a mortgage. This situation makes matters worse because instead of climbing out of debt, you end up sinking further into it.
Yesterday was another kick in the gut for me because I was turned down for a company American Express card. Honestly, I am so embarrassed by that because even with a corporation backing me, lenders still see me as a threat.I’ve done a much better job with my credit in the past few years but I am still playing catch up. I am still paying back money for cards that I opened up in college and instead of having extra money that I could be saving, I am dealing with my past stupidity. I am trying not to beat myself up about this but I am no longer a single man. My wife has to take this journey with me and I can’t help but to feel bad that she has to suffer because of me.
There are too many people like me in the US. We put too much stock in trying to buy material things. We want to look like everyone else or better than everyone else but we can’t afford it. It’s not until something important comes along that we see how stupid we have been. My wife had a house before we met but I am imagining in horror what a lender would have said if we were going to buy our first house together. Because of my bad credit, the interest rate would probably be something ridiculous. I can’t change yesterday. They say that hindsight is biased for a reason. Clearly, if I knew then what I know now I would have done things differently. All I can do now is correct the wrong that I have done and be an example for others of what not to do financially. I want to get my finances in order so when my kids are older, I can show them a positive example and I can help them in their life pursuits. As a man and a husband I want to support my wife and not leave things on her shoulders. At the end of the day I am no longer a boy and now, it is time to man up!
Ilex Bien-Aime is an integral part of the BlackLoveAndMarriage.com team. He lives in Washington, DC with his lovely wife. He writes as a man who has seen women mistreat themselves and who have allowed themselves to be mistreated. He writes as a man who wants to give his future daughters a guideline on how to deal with men. Lastly he writes what he writes because his female friends are always asking his opinion about these situations. Connect with Ilex at Iamsayingit.blogspot.com or via email firstname.lastname@example.org.