By Carol Roberts
Special to the Lake Okeechobee News
St. Lucie County Extension and St. Lucie County Community Services staff want to help Treasure Coast residents improve their credit scores.
Why does a credit score matter?
A credit score is a number that lenders use to determine credit worthiness. It indicates how well someone manages credit by considering a matrix of scoring factors. Even if we are not using credit, we have a credit score. This means it is important to our financial success to make sure we have the best credit score possible.
Unfortunately, many people don’t learn the importance of their credit score until after they have done something that negatively impacts the score. Things like defaulting on a credit account or making late payments on a loan will do it. They find they are not eligible for credit, like an auto loan or credit card. Perhaps they qualify but at high interest rates. This makes borrowing money more expensive. Sometimes a low score results in higher insurance premiums or denial of a job. It is important to know what actions affect our score. In fact, it helps us save money.
Credit score improvement grant
That is why St. Lucie Extension and Community Services teamed up to help our Treasure Coast residents. We are offering a workshop called “Everyday Money.” It is a short and informative video about using spending plans and credit. Those Treasure Coast residents who attend the virtual class will then be eligible for the Credit Score Improvement Grant. That means together we complete a credit report review in person or by video chat. We are looking to see if there are any outstanding debts holding you back from financial success. If paying off one of your outstanding debts for less than $300 can result in an improved credit score, we will do so with grant money. Some residents may be referred to a reputable credit counseling service if their situation requires more intense measures for credit score improvement.
The grant began almost a year ago actually. In the past eight months we have offered eight workshops around the Treasure Coast to get people qualified. We have spent almost half of the grant money paying off debts and improving scores. The grant will continue until August 2021 or until all grant monies have been spent – whichever comes first. That means, if you are interested, don’t delay!
Registration for the Everyday Money Class
Register for and attend the free, virtual “Everyday Money” class at: www.eventbrite.com/e/everyday-money-class-for-the-credit-score-improvement-grant-registration-104432410150. After watching, complete the required survey to qualify for the credit report review. Thanks to funding from the Treasure Coast Community Action Network, this program is offered to residents of St. Lucie, Martin and Okeechobee counties. Those living outside the eligible counties are welcome to view the class as well for their own knowledge; however, they will not qualify for this geographically-limited grant.
For more information, call UF/IFAS Extension Agent Carol Roberts at 772-462-1895 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.