As you remember about a week ago I attended a very useful seminar here in Chicago hosted by Operation PUSH. I was not sure what to expect when I was asked to cover the event, but I must say that I was very engaged and so glad that I attended.

As mentioned in my previous post I know that I could be doing a much better job with my financial health. Life changes, drawbacks, procrastinating, and more can make a huge impact on financial health. And with 2016 quickly approaching I am on a mission to do better. I a refuse to set New Years resolutions, but I do have several goals in mind that I want to accomplish. A couple of them surround my finances. Because of this I appreciated all of the information that was provided at the event. Since then I have taken some time to think about and process the information that I learned. I would like to share my favorite info from the sessions that I attended with you.

We were first greeted by Rev. Jesse Jackson Jr. who talked a bit about current events in the Chicago area.


Understanding Credit

Most adults should have an understanding of their credit report and how things that you do affect your credit. However, not all adults do. We got a valuable lesson on understanding our credit from William Cheeks, President, ABBA Associates Inc.


He has a perfect (yes, I said PERFECT) credit score of 850. You may be thinking… how is this even possible? He has worked in the credit industry for over 30 years and uses his knowledge to his advantage.

His main tip is to keep track of your credit. Use a site like where you can get a free copy of your credit report and learn your score. The credit score range is quite wide.
800 – 850 = A+
750 – 799 = A-
700 – 749 = B
660 – 699 = C
630 – 659 = D
300 – 619 = F

The average US credit score is 667 which is a C. Where do you fall on the scale? Learn it and learn how to improve it. The better your score the more opportunities you have for getting approved for mortgages, car loans, and more. Although you may be approved with a score on the lower range, you will spend more money in the long run because of inflated interest.

The key to building credit is to use it responsibly. Don’t be a revolver – when you make charges, pay balances in full. But remember that you have to use it for it to help your credit score. Use your card to make purchases like gas and groceries, but pay them off before your billing date.

Don’t carry a lot of debt. Your debt to credit ratio should be low. The lower the balance percentage of your total credit, the higher your credit score. It is also advisable to pay more than the minimum payment due. Paying even just a few dollars more can shave time and money off paying your balance. And be sure to pay on time. If you don’t you will be charged a late fee, and the late payment will be reflected on your credit report.


Besides just being able to get loans, your credit report can affect your ability to get certain jobs, and utility accounts in your home.

Budgeting Basics

Having a budget is key in keeping your household running smoothly and saving money. Sidney Dillard, Partner & Head of Corporate Investment Banking at Loop Capital Markets, gave us many tips on budgeting and building wealth.


It is important to curb your spending from day to day. You can do this by keeping track of what you spend each day on things like fast food and coffee. You may be surprised what you spend!

She suggests reading the book, The Millionaire Next Door: The Surprising Secrets of America’s Wealthy. This book will help you learn how to budget and build wealth.

Also, can be a valuable tool in getting a handle on your budget. It is a free, secure website that provides budgeting, reporting, and more. It can interface with your credit cards, bank accounts, and even PayPal account to track and categorize income and spending.

If u set up budgeting limits in it will send u alerts when u get close to ur limit #FindNewRoads #PUSHMoneyMatters

Posted by Kris McDonald on Saturday, December 5, 2015

Think about what you want your net worth to be 5 years now, and 10 years from now. Come up with a plan of how to get there. Build your assets. It will take time so be realistic, establish time frames, and be flexible because plans can change.

Chevy Empowerment Talk

We also got great tips from Reggie Humphrey, Supplier Diversity Manager at GM. HIs statement “Birds of a feather flock together is a true statement! Hang with like minded individuals” really left an impact on me. If you are focused on building your own business and wealth, but those around you are not supportive and don’t have similar goals, it will feel like they are pulling you down.


It is also important to live within YOUR budget, not anyone else’s. In other words, don’t give in to peer pressure and agree to spend money on things that you cannot afford.

He also had great, simple tips on buying a car:

  • Make an informed decision when buying a car. Compare rates between several loan services, banks, and credit unions.
  • Credit scores affect your car payment, so know your’s ahead of time. Take the time to understand your credit score and the difference that it will make in your monthly payment.
  • Don’t buy outside of your means. If your car payment is more than your mortgage, that’s a problem.
  • Be ready to negotiate. Know exactly what vehicle you want, negotiate for what you want with a good rate.
  • Consider leasing. It can save on depreciation, and wear and tear costs.
  • Never take negative equity from one car to the other.
  • Never put money down on a lease.


There was SO much information at that seminar. If you are able to attend a PUSH Money Matters event in your area I highly recommend it.


Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Operation PUSH and Sverve. All opinions are my own.