S&K Business Services organizes a financial literacy course
PABLO – According to CareerBuilder (2019), 78% of employees in the United States live paycheck to paycheck. The study also found that one in 10 workers earning more than $100,000 a year also lives paycheck to paycheck.
According to a CreditWise survey conducted in conjunction with National Get Smart About Credit Day, 73% of Americans rate their finances as the most stressful aspect of their lives and according to Google, financial difficulties can be a major source of stress at home and are one of the main causes of divorce.
The problem of financial illiteracy affects all Americans. Tina Begay, owner of Redtail Enterprises, LLC, says, “This isn’t just a Native American problem, it’s an American problem.”
When Begay was at Salish Kootenai College, teaching in the business program and doing research, she discovered that every book she opened was designed to put you in debt.
“As Americans in general, financial literacy isn’t taken seriously and we’ve all been mistaught,” Begay said. “Over 70% of people live paycheck to paycheck, and 12% don’t,” Begay said. “You want to do what the other 12% do.”
Begay discussed the issues that Native Americans face, which are more serious than those of other groups. They live in extreme poverty, which has been talked about for decades. They live in rural areas, where there are few opportunities for a second job. Natives are burdened with medical bills that affect their credit, and because the majority of people in the community work and have families, it is difficult for them to attend a class or workshop to improve their situation.
“It’s a challenge, but I can show people how to do it, even if they’re poor or in debt from medical bills,” Begay said.
Begay has over 20 years of business education experience and an MBA from the University of Montana. Begay also worked for CSKT for 10 years and did a variety of workshops.
She teaches people how to negotiate credit card repayment, how to deal with abusive debt collectors, how to stand up to them and know their rights. Begay emphasizes the importance of being aware and educated to avoid being taken advantage of or misled.
Begay has personal experience of situations where people misinform or lie for their own benefit, such as when buying life insurance. It is difficult to make the right decision unless you know a subject well.
“I’m on a personal mission to educate people on topics like life insurance so they can make an informed decision,” Begay said.
Begay herself was once in debt and living paycheck to paycheck. “I never thought it was possible to be debt free,” she said.
S&K Business Services is hosting a free financial literacy webinar on Zoom, and Begay will lead the course and lay the groundwork for people to regain control of their finances and make the impossible possible.
“You can reclaim your power and make the necessary decisions,” she said.
When asked what Native American households spent the majority of their money on, Begay replied, “vehicles and restaurants.” Many people are in vehicle debt and choose to eat out often, when eating out should be reserved for special occasions or treats. Choosing not to eat out and not to buy a car you can’t afford are two examples of necessary decisions.
Some of the concepts and strategies Begay teaches in his course to help people get out of debt are:
- How to live without a credit score and how to build one without going into debt.
- Build a workable budget and design a money saving strategy so it doesn’t all go to bills
- Choose good and bad loans
- Understanding Your FICO Score
- Create strategies for dealing with creditors in a legal way so you can exercise your power
- How to choose ife insurance
- Create a 12 month budget plan
- How to use Excel
It can be scary to consider finances and the decisions that need to be made, according to Begay, but it’s never too late. Former students who took the previous course have reached out to Begay or met with her, telling her how close they are to debt relief and how grateful they are.
Begay thinks his workshops are the opposite of what one would expect. “I teach a course that contradicts what most people learn, but I teach how to live a debt-free life.”
“A lot of people think credit scores are good, but I think they’re bad,” Begay said. “You get a score based on the amount of your debt.” Begay helps people build credit without incurring debt. Begay refers to it as a debt score rather than a credit score.
Begay also teaches people to think of themselves first and encourages them to save $500. “Keep the bad luck, I say.” She describes the $500 as thinking about yourself; in case of emergency, you have this $500 to help you solve the unexpected problem.
Begay recommends working on debt after accumulating savings. Begay asserts that it is necessary to work on the debt before accumulating a “cushion” of 3 or 6 months. “Once the debt is paid off, there will be enough income to start building a three or six month ‘cushion’.
According to reports such as the 2021 Global Financial Literacy Excellence Center (GFLEC), a significant proportion of households were already concerned about their finances before the pandemic.
When COVID-19 hit, many families were impacted financially for various reasons due to the ripple effect of COVID-19. Having a cushion to fall back on would have been a lifesaver for many families.
To learn more about the services and seminars offered by S&K Business Services, please email [email protected]