Juanita González is a 65 years old grandmother living in Memphis, Tennessee. She has always been a hard worker and responsible, but managing her finances in a way that was stress-free always seemed to allude her. She was constantly playing catch up with her bills and found it be mentally and emotionally taxing and exhausting. She never thought that her financial situation could improve.

Ms. González decided that she wanted to make a change for the better. She visited Maribel Villarreal, the Financial Wellbeing Coach at the HOPE Inside First Horizon in the Hickory Hill area, and began to ask important questions. First, she wanted to know if had any kind of existing credit. In her mind, applying for any type of credit was completely out of the picture. She thought that she did not deserve to be trusted with any type of credit and additional debt since she was already struggling to make payments with existing creditors.

After Maribel explained how Operation HOPE’s credit and money management program worked, she immediately signed up for the program. Maribel pulled her credit report, explained how the system worked, and begin to create a work plan for her. The plan was very detailed and listed every step needed to take to establish a credit profile and a savings account. As part of the plan, Maribel helped Ms. González apply for Medicare. Not only was she on her way towards financial literacy, she left Maribel’s office with health insurance, for the first time in her life.

Ms. Juanita González (right) pictured with her granddaughter

Following her action plan, Ms. González applied and was approved for a secured credit card. She followed each action item methodically and systematically. To her surprise, after a few months of consistently following the steps on the work plan, and doing monthly follow ups with Maribel, her credit score went from “no score available” to 777!!!

Ms. González never imagined having an established credit score, let alone joining the 700-Credit-Score-Community! She was extremely happy and emotional at the thought of being empowered through financial literacy. “It meant so much to me,” she said. “I am a bit embarrassed for taking this step just now… but it is never too late to make better decisions. Operation HOPE has given me the confidence to believe in my dreams and to know that even at this age I can achieve my goals. It has given me a sense of dignity….and I highly recommend Operation HOPE.”

For those who are looking to start their journey towards financial freedom, Ms. González says that “all [you] have to do is have willingness to do the work, [commit to] being discipline and stay consistent on [y]our behavior with finances.” Today, Ms. Juanita González is free and has gained her financial dignity. She no longer feels burdened and haunted by her finances; rather, she manages her money with the future in mind and leverages her credit to her advantage, thanks to the great work of her coach, Maribel, and Operation HOPE.