How to Improve Your Financial Literacy


iStock-909462374.jpgEvery year, April is recognized as National Financial Literacy Month, and United Way of Broward County is committed to raising public awareness about the importance of financial literacy and educating people in our community with smart habits for money management.

You can take control of your financial prosperity and plan for the future by knowing your credit score. When applying for a loan or needing a new service, your credit score almost always is a critical factor. Lower credit scores can make it more expensive — and sometimes unattainable — to get funding for a loan or sign up for essential services, such as utilities.

Here are 8 ways your credit score can impact your life — PLUS 4 Broward County resources that can help you get your credit score higher.

iStock-1209431211.jpg1) Housing
Landlords, property managers and rental agencies review a potential tenant’s credit history. With lower credit scores, you may pay higher deposits or rental, or they may decline your rental application.

2) Utilities
Companies providing electricity, water and cable check your credit when you request services. Poor credit scores often require higher deposits and sometimes require a cosigner to get your account started.

3) Employment
Employers may review your credit report for negative records or discrepancies, especially when your work involves handling money or having some sort of security clearance.

4) Checking and Savings Accounts
Banks typically look into your banking history to determine whether to open an account. Some reasons for being declined are unpaid negative balances on previous accounts, fraudulent activity, or your partner’s negative account activities when you have a joint account.

5) Car Loans
Your credit score and credit history determine the interest rates available to you, which can make the debt from a loan more or less expensive. It’s also possible a poor credit score could exclude you from approval.

6) Mortgages
Lenders review your credit scores and credit history from the three major credit bureaus as part of the application process.  A lower credit score likely will cause a higher interest rate and will increase how much you pay each month. Again, a poor credit score could disqualify your application from being approved.

7) Credit Cards
Similar to mortgages and auto loans, companies pull your credit before issuing you a credit card. This information will determine if you qualify and at what rates you can receive.

8) Insurance
Companies for home insurance and auto insurance use credit information with your application data to determine the rates and terms. A poor or lower credit score could make your insurance more expensive or cause you to get denied coverage.

What Is a Good Credit Score?
FICO® Score
•    Exceptional — 800 to 850
•    Very Good — 740 to 799
•    Good — 670 to 739
•    Fair — 580 to 669
•    Poor — 300 to 579

Take Advantage of These 4 Broward County Resources
iStock-1394016463.jpgUnited Way of Broward County is committed to helping individuals and families learn the skills and tools they need to earn, keep and grow their assets.

Through education, poverty levels can be reduced and individuals and families have the support to build their financial prosperity. Our United Way works with many partner organizations and agencies in Broward County to help individuals and families improve their socio-economic status, workforce skills, financial literacy and ability to secure and maintain safe, affordable housing.

Here is a list of resources in Broward County that provide free financial education and credit counseling services. These organizations can tailor solutions for you to:

  • avoid debts that cannot be repaid
  • establish financial plans and budget
  • negotiate with creditors to establish a payment
  • discover a variety of options for better financial management

Contact one of these resources to make sure your credit score is as strong as possible and to understand what you may need to change for the best results. These trustworthy partners offer personalized, flexible and often virtual services.

1) Consolidated Credit
Address: 5701 W. Sunrise Blvd., Fort Lauderdale, FL 33313
Open: 7 days per week
Phone: 800-667-1387

2) Hispanic Unity of Florida
Address: 5840 Johnson St., Hollywood, FL 33021
Open: Monday through Thursday, 9 am to 5 pm
Phone: 954-964-8884

3) Urban League of Broward County
Address: 560 NW 27th Ave., Fort Lauderdale, FL 33311
Open: Monday through Friday, 8 am to 6:30 pm
Phone: 954-584-0777

4) Arc Broward (only for adults with disabilities)
Address: 10250 NW 53rd St., Sunrise, FL 33351
Open: Monday through Friday, 8 am to 5 pm
Phone: 954-746-9400

United Way of Broward County is fighting to put every person in our community on a path toward financial empowerment.