When Tinika Cradler, a single mother living in Memphis with her two children, joined the Credit and Money Management program this past May, she had dreams of owning her own home. She had gone through the loss of income during the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, had no revolving credit, and was overspending monthly by nearly $400. But then she found a pathway to her dreams through Operation HOPE. Here’s her story told in her own words:
“Last year I wasn’t in a great place financially and my credit score was very poor, however, my goal for myself is to become a homeowner very soon. I attended several first-time homebuyer’s workshops throughout the year offered by various organizations, but they just didn’t seem to connect the dots for me with regard to what I needed to do to achieve my goal. Maybe the pace was too fast or maybe the interaction was too broad and impersonal. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but I know that it didn’t accomplish what I had hoped. Then, one day, I remembered a homebuyer’s workshop I attended the previous year. I recalled there being a very knowledgeable gentleman there from an organization called Operation HOPE that seemed to help me understand some important factors that financial institutions look at when considering you for a loan, like the debt-to-income ratio and the importance of continuing to maintain and/or improve your credit score even after you have bought a home.
Inspired by his words, I went online and googled Operation HOPE. Mrs. Regina Osei, from HOPE Inside Trustmark Bank Memphis, was a representative that stood out to me, so I emailed her Saturday afternoon and she called me on Sunday morning to get me in her next virtual workshop. I was so impressed with her eagerness to work with me.
Mrs. Osei discussed with the group what she needed from each individual and how the program works. Then it was time to prepare for our one-on-one sessions. During my session, she pointed out my strengths (savings) and showed me places where I could not only improve my money management but also boost my credit score in the process. I needed to track and reduce my spending, pay down some debt, and open some secured lines of revolving credit. After meeting with her, I started eliminating around $100 dollars of unnecessary debt and frivolous spending per month. She then told me how to get my very first credit card, and how to use it. After following her advice, my credit score went from 633 in May to 717 today. That is an 84 point increase in only six months!
Because I am always thinking about my family’s needs versus our wants, thanks to this program I now tend to make better decisions regarding spending. One thing that I really appreciate is that Mrs. Osei sends me helpful resources regularly and checks in often to make sure that I am focusing on my Work Plan and progressing in the right direction. I still have a little way to go but I feel that I am on track to obtain My goal and be a Homeowner by November 2022 or even sooner.”
-Tinika L. Cradler, Credit and Money Management Client, HOPE Inside Trustmark Bank, Memphis, TN