We all make financial mistakes from time to time, but that doesn’t mean that you have to play the fool. Here are five things to look out for, be aware of, and avoid on your financial journey. Take a look, learn, and don’t let the next joke be on you.

1. COVID-19 Related Scams

Scammers are notorious for taking advantage of good people in bad situations. In the last twelve months, there has been a surge of COVID-19 related phishing scams and fake relief programs. These scammers typically target elderly adults who may not be as familiar with email and technology as their younger peers. The best way to avoid these scams is by not clicking on links emails from email addresses or organizations that look less than reputable. A few tell-tale signs include multiple misspellings and typos in the copy of the email, exaggerated and pixelated images imitating reputable organizations, and solicitation/advertisement for assistance that requires personal information and credit card/bank details.

Avoid these scams at all cost. It is close to impossible to recover your money from these types of cyber criminals. Operation HOPE can help you access help and resources to help you get through the pandemic at no cost to you or your loved one. Visit hopeinsidecovid19.org to learn more.

2. Spending Your Stimulus Check on Wants Before Needs

Most Americans have already received their $1,400 stimulus checks and many have already applied them to overdue bills, home necessities, and emergency expenses. For everyone else, this is a golden opportunity to get ahead in your journey towards financial empowerment. Consider the 80/20 rule. Apply 80% of your stimulus check towards paying down debts, increasing your savings, or doing necessary repairs on your owned assets (like your home). The remaining 20% can be used for gifts, towards a family vacation, or treating yourself to something nice that you haven’t had in a while.

The best way to ensure that you have a solid plan in place is by teaming up with your very own financial wellbeing coach through Operation HOPE. Visit www.operationhope.org to find the coach nearest you and set up an appointment today.

3. Paying for Credit Repair Services

There’s no shortage of credit repair services available in the market. Many of them offer unrealistic results at exorbitant prices. There are hundreds of things that you can spend your money on that will help improve your life and financial future, but credit repair services is not one of them. Operation HOPE provides something much more substantial and life changing, and it’s at no cost to you. Operation HOPE’s programming empowers individuals with the strategies and tools to improve their credit profile and increases opportunity in their financial lives. There are hundreds of success stories of past clients who came to Operation HOPE with credit scores in the 500s and after learning from their coach and applying their methods, they now enjoy 700+ credit scores. Read some of their stories here: https://operationhope.org/blog

4. Treating the Stock Market as a Means to “Get Rich Quick”

Recently, there has been a sudden surge of new investors in the stock market. While it’s wonderful that there are atypical investors participating in wealth creation, it’s important to understand that investing carries significant risks. When understood and applied correctly and responsibly, investing is a great way to add to your overall financial portfolio. Nevertheless, you must remember that investing a long-term strategy, not a method of becoming wealthy overnight. All investors should have essential financial literacy training before they get heavily involved in the market. 

5. Carrying a Credit Card Balance When You Don’t Have To

It’s often said that credit card holders should carry a balance of some kind month to month to help improve their credit score. This is a myth and should be abandoned quickly. It is important to keep your credit card balances low, at least under 30%, to get the best scores. While you don’t need to carry a balance to gain the benefits, you should keep your credit card open to help your credit age and your utilization percentage, both of which contribute to your credit score.

Unnecessarily carrying a credit card balance month to month can result in you paying interest that you could be using to fund and fuel your financial dreams, like owning a home or starting a business through HOPE’s 1 Million Black Business program or HOPE’s Small Business Development program.

Follow up with an Operation HOPE financial wellbeing coach and make a plan today to safely and smartly increase your financial wellness today!