Our Stories: Jerimyah’s Credit Building Journey

Jerimyah was 18 when he got his first credit card. “I knew nothing about credit at the time. I was thinking I can just swipe.”

It quickly became a habit. When he maxed out his first card, he got another, figuring he’d pay it back eventually. “I didn’t understand the effects of missed payments and debt on my credit.”

Jerimyah’s credit card debt grew, and his credit score suffered. When he began looking into his dream of investing in real estate, he quickly discovered that his poor credit would be a barrier to getting a mortgage. “I put myself in a financial hole,” he said. “I didn’t know how to manage my money.”Jermiyah knew he had to get his financial house in order if he wanted to pursue his real estate dreams.

He was participating in Year Up at Roxbury Community College, earning college credits and gaining real-world work experience though an internship in banking, when he connected with financial coach Julie Demusz through the Community College Credit Building Initiative, a collaboration led by United Way of Massachusetts Bay, JVS-Boston and Inquilinos Borricuas en Accion with funding from the City of Boston Community Development Block Grant program. Together Julie and Jerimyah reviewed his financial circumstances and discussed his goals: to create a budget, increase savings and improve his credit. After learning the fundamentals of credit and reviewing his credit report, Jerimyah paid off his credit card debt.

“It made things a lot easier, putting everything in front of my face,” he said. “It gave me clarity about what needed to be done to get results. That really got me started.”

Within just three months, Jerimyah’s credit score rose from 593 to 666. Paying off debt and improving his credit has helped him build savings. According to Jerimyah, he had only about $100 when he first met with Julie. Now he has a rainy-day fund and is exploring opportunities for investment. “I was able to get really comfortable and confident with savings,“ he said. “Working with a financial coach allowed me to understand how money works and what I can do with it.”

Jerimyah is now putting his newly acquired financial knowledge to work as a life insurance agent and a part-time employee for two financial institutions. Most exciting of all, he’s collaborating with family members to buy a two-family house that they’ll convert into an income property. He credits much of his success to his financial coach and credit-building experience.

“Through this experience, I’ve gained a lot of what I needed, to not only know about using credit as a tool, but also learning more about money, looking into interest, looking for ways to save.”

“If I had bad credit—I wouldn’t have any of the things I do now. Having good credit will position me to succeed.”

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