From Financial Rut to Financial Coach: The Story of Jernessa and Her Credit

Jernessa J photo

By Lauren Bringle Jackson, AFC®

Please note - individual results may vary.

Jernessa J. was a new mom with big dreams to buy a house for her and her young son. There was just one problem.

“Before Self, I was in a financial rut,” Jernessa says. “Life happened and my credit score dropped from 720 to 471.”

Jernessa found herself unemployed after her job closed down suddenly. While she looked for work and tried to make ends meet as best she could, her priorities were basic necessities for her and her infant son.

She didn’t have money for other bills, so they went neglected, which resulted in several late payments, maxed out credit cards to pay the bills and other issues.

Jernessa knew, especially if she wanted to buy a home, she needed to do something and make a change.

Big dreams but no credit

In many cases, you need a credit score of 500 or higher and 2 lines of credit to qualify for a mortgage through the Federal Housing Administration (FHA). Though to take advantage of the 3.5% down payment (as opposed to 10% or more) for FHA loans, you need at least a 580.

Some lenders have even higher credit score minimums though. And bad credit could increase the cost of your mortgage significantly.

With a score in the 470s, Jernessa had some work to do.

She heard about Self from a credit group she followed on Facebook. Others in the group had used the Credit Builder Account and seen positive improvements in their credit scores.

Jernessa decided to give it a try and see for herself.

“I finally decided that I needed to address my financial woes and Self was a tool I read about on Facebook that seemed perfect for my situation. It was the ‘game changer’ to get my credit back on track!” she shared in an email to Self.

“Using Self, my credit score improved 70 points, which positioned me to be approved for other accounts, credit cards, etc., so that I could continue improving my credit score. My scores are now back over 700 and I am months away from achieving my goal of homeownership!”

Easy to break, hard to build

Jernessa’s credit transformation didn’t happen overnight though.

While the drastic decline in her credit score only took a few months, rebuilding her credit from the 400s took over two years, she says.

“I began to have on-time payments again, but settling the large debt of credit cards, etc., took some time due to less income once I started working again,” Jernessa admits.

“Self was the first thing I used because it was the only thing that I could get approved for. Once I made several on-time payments, it better positioned me to get approved for lower limit credit cards. Self, coupled with proper management of those credit cards, were instrumental in my rebuilding of credit.”

Paying it forward

What struck me most when I interacted with Jernessa was she didn’t stop with just improving her own financial life. She went on to become a Financial Coach with Operation Hope, a national nonprofit organization that helps hundreds, if not thousands, of people through financial tools, education and counseling.

“I am so grateful for this resource! If it had not been for Self, I’m not sure where I would be right now! It truly helped me get back on the right rack!”

As for Self, Jernessa says:

“It is my ‘go-to’ resource to help get my clients on the right track the way that it helped me!”

Want to see Self and Operation Hope in action together? Check out the Credit Chronicles, a series that follows a young couple through their financial counseling journey.

Watch the video below, and catch the full series HERE.

Please note - individual results may vary.

About the author

Lauren Bringle Jackson is an Accredited Financial Counselor® and Content Marketing Manager with Self Financial – a financial technology company with a mission to help people build credit and savings.

Written on June 16, 2020

Self is a venture-backed startup that helps people build credit and savings.
Comments? Questions? Send us a note at hello@self.inc.

Disclaimer: Self is not providing financial advice. The content presented does not reflect the view of the Issuing Banks and is presented for general education and informational purposes only. Please consult with a qualified professional for financial advice.

Ready to join Self?