07/10/2022

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Getting smart about finances can lead to debt freedom | News

S&K Business Services hosts financial literacy class

Char-Koosta News

PABLO — According to CarerBuilder (2019), 78 percent of employees in the United States live paycheck to paycheck. The study also discovered that one out of every ten workers earning more than $100,000 per year also paycheck to paycheck.

According to a CreditWise survey conducted in conjunction with National Get Smart About Credit Day, 73 percent of Americans consider their finances to be the most stressful aspect of their lives and according to Google, financial difficulties are a leading cause of divorce; finances can be a major source of stress in the home.

The problem of financial illiteracy affects all Americans. Tina Begay owner of Redtail Enterprises LLC says, “Its not just a Native American problem, but an American problem.” 

When Begay was at SKC teaching in the business program and doing research, she discovered that every book she opened was designed to get you in debt. 

“As Americans in general, financial literacy is not taken seriously, and we have all been taught incorrectly,” Begay said. “More than 70 percent of people live paycheck to paycheck, and 12 percent do not,” Begay said. “You want to do what the other 12 percent do.”

Begay discussed the issues that Native Americans face, which are more severe than those of other groups. They live in extreme poverty, which has been discussed for decades. They live in rural areas, where there are few opportunities for a second job. Natives are burdened with medical bills that affect their credit, and because the majority of people in the community work and have families, it is difficult for them to attend a course or workshop to improve their situation.

“It’s a challenge, but I can show people how to do it, even if they’re poor or in debt from medical bills,” Begay said. 

Begay has over 20 years of experience in business education and a Masters of Business Administration from the University of Montana. Begay has also worked for CSKT for ten years and has done a variety of workshops.

Begay teaches people how to negotiate paying off a credit card, how to deal with abusive bill collectors, such as standing up to them, and knowing their rights. Begay emphasizes the importance of being aware and educated to avoid being taken advantage of or misled.

She has personal experience with situations in which people misinform or lie for their own benefit, such as when purchasing life insurance. It’s difficult to make the right decision unless you’re well versed in a subject. 

“I’m on a personal mission to educate people about topics like life insurance so they can make an informed decision,” said Begay.

Begay herself was once in debt and living paycheck to paycheck. “I never thought it was possible to be debt-free.” 

S&K Business Services is hosting a free Financial Literacy Webinar on Zoom, and Begay will be leading the course and laying the groundwork for people to reclaim control of their finances and make the impossible seem possible. 

“You can reclaim your power and make the necessary decisions,” she said.

When asked what Native American households spend the majority of their money on, Begay said, “vehicles and eating out.” Many people are in debt because of a vehicle and choose to eat out frequently, when eating out should be reserved for special occasions or treats. Choosing not to eat out and not to purchase a car that you cannot afford are both examples of necessary decisions.

Some of the concepts and strategies Begay teaches in her course to help people get out of debt are:

  • How to live without a credit score and how to build one without going into debt.
  • Make a workable budget and devising a money-saving strategy so that not all of it goes to bills
  • Choosing good and bad loans
  • Understanding your FICO Score
  • Creating strategies for dealing with creditors in a legal manner so that you can wield power
  • How to choose ife Insurance
  • Create 12 month budgeting plan
  • How to use excel

It can be frightening to consider finances and the decisions that must be made, according to Begay, but it is never too late. Former students who took the previous class have contacted Begay or run into her, telling her how close they are to debt freedom and how grateful they are.

Begay believes her workshops are the polar opposite of what one might expect. “I teach a class that contradicts what most people are taught, but I teach how to live a debt-free lifestyle.” 

“A lot of people think credit scores are good, but I think they’re bad,” Begay said. “You get a score based on how much debt you have.” Begay assists people in building credit without incurring debt. Begay refers to it as a debt score rather than a credit score.

Begays also teaches people to think about themselves first, and she encourages them to save $500. “Keep the bad luck away, I say.” She describes the $500 as thinking of yourself; if an emergency arises, you have that $500 to help yourself with the unexpected problem.

Begay recommends working on debt after accumulating savings. Begay claims that working on debt is necessary before accumulating a 3- or 6-month “cushion.” “Once the debt is paid off, there will be enough income to begin building a three or six-month “cushion.”

According to reports such as the 2021 Global Financial Literacy Excellence Center (GFLEC), a sizable proportion of households were already concerned about their finances prior to the pandemic. 

As COVID-19 hit, many families were financially impacted for a variety of reasons as a result of COVID’s ripple effect. Having a cushion to fall back on would have been a lifesaver for many families.

Begay’s Financial Literacy webinar will be available via Zoom on February 16th at 10 a.m. To register, please email Sarahs@slfcorp.com.