Omar’s Story: Establishing Credit is the Foundation of Wealth

Meet Omar, a full-time college student living in San Francisco, CA with his parents and 21-year old son.

What do you do?

I’m studying behavioral science and addiction counseling at the City College of San Francisco. I want to be a part of the solution of dealing with all the pain that’s in the world—or some of it anyway.

I also do temp work when I’m not in class.

What did your upbringing teach you about finances?

My mom didn’t know about managing money, so she couldn’t really teach me about it. As I got older, just over the last year or two, I got a better understanding of credit and finances.

What’s your lowest/highest financial point?

My lowest point was when I was homeless and had nowhere to go and no job.

I’ve since raised my credit score and got approved for a credit card recently. I’ve been able to save and establish a dedicated savings account. I’m doing better at managing money overall.

Once I got educated about finances, it all made sense. I knew that this was what I was supposed to be doing. Before, I didn’t have any direction, but now I know a lot more. I’m still looking for a lot more knowledge on the subject. But at least I have a foundation that I’m building on.

What’s the best piece of financial advice you’ve received?

Use your credit card only once a month, and for $20. That’s a piece of advice that I follow. Someone told me that, and I was surprised. But it’s true! Just because you have credit doesn’t mean you have to use it.

What would you tell your younger self about money?

Establish your credit! That’s the foundation of wealth in this country. Credit has a lot to do with how you stabilize yourself financially. Nowadays, you need credit for jobs and housing and everything.

You’re either going to get the prime rate or the subprime rate, and if you have bad credit, you’re essentially giving away thousands of dollars in interest.

What are your goals for the future?

Get my BA from City College of San Francisco and get employed in the field I’m studying.

What does money mean to you in your life?

It doesn’t have as much value as I thought. Now, I have a more realistic value of money. Because of that, I have more money. I’m able to save more; I don’t spend as much. I’m more conscious of things I buy because I have a bigger goal, and I know I can’t be spending crazy amounts if I want to reach my bigger goals.

What is the best thing you’ve ever bought with your money?

Probably paying off my debt! I actually just paid off some lingering debt, which was getting in my way of moving forward. How can you move forward if you’re still paying into your past?

How will you feel when you pay off all your debt?

It’ll be a relief! Instead of focusing on the big picture and getting overwhelmed; I’m breaking it down month by month. I’m paying down $25/month right now. And as I make more, I’ll be able to pay off more, but at least I’m making progress.