Like many 20-somethings fresh out of college, Adriana Dikih wasn’t the best at managing money. The 32-year-old digital marketing professional and vegan food blogger, who lives just outside of Portland, Oregon, went through what she called a “credit catastrophe” after graduating.
Dikih earned a degree in liberal arts, but like many new grads, couldn’t find a solid job to pay off that expensive education. “I was working in restaurants like a lot of my generation is,” she said. “I think it’s really relatable what I went through.”
She wasn’t struggling by any means. She was able to provide for herself, travel and even save a bit of money. “But I wasn’t as interested in monitoring my credit or paying my bills,” she said. Student loans, in particular, were a major monthly expense that fell by the wayside. “I tried to go through the process of deferring. I wasn’t able to ... and I just didn’t pay them. Not a wise move.”
Deep down, she said, there was a gnawing feeling that her credit was a mess, but she kept her head in the sand due to fear and shame. “I didn’t know and I didn’t want to know,” she said. “I didn’t want to actually hear a number, because I think a lot of us associate that number with a reflection of our worth. If we have a bad credit score, we’re a bad person, we’re irresponsible.”
Of course, a credit score is just that ― a number. It’s not a measurement of character or intelligence. But a poor credit score can definitely wreak havoc on your financial life, and it requires some dedication and patience to fix. That’s exactly what Dikih learned. Here’s how she got her credit back in shape.
From ‘Out Of Touch’ To In Control
Every few months, Dikih’s car would break down and need expensive repairs. She had financed her last car purchase and knew that if she wanted to take out another loan for a new car, the dealership would pull her credit first. That was the trigger that caused Dikih to get hold of her credit situation. “I thought, ‘OK, I need to sit down, pull my credit and see where things are,’” she said. She requested her credit score information online, printed it all out, took a deep breath and faced reality.
“It was a 560,” she said, admitting she was actually relieved to see that number. “I thought, I don’t know if a credit score can be a 200, but mine might be,” she joked. A 560 seemed like something she could tackle.
Next in her plan of action was to find out what, exactly, was contributing to the low score. “I didn’t even know what debts I had outstanding or whether I was in collections,” Dikih said. “I was just really out of touch with what was going on with my finances.”
Once she pulled her credit reports, it turned out there were three major issues causing her poor credit. The first was an old phone bill that was never paid and sent to collections.
“When you have a bill that you haven’t paid, the late fees and fines and penalties can mount up to be more than the actual amount you owed,” she said. Dikih began researching how to negotiate with debt collectors and settle for less than what’s owed. In the end, the original bill of only about $50 ended up costing her a few hundred dollars. But knocking a delinquent account off her record helped fuel her commitment to getting her credit back in good shape. “It hurt, but I was totally pumped and motivated.”
Next on the list was a credit card with a balance of about $2,000, which she paid off using savings.
Finally, Dikih needed to get her student loans, which were on the brink of default, back in good standing. “The student loans I’m still carrying with me,” she said. “I’m paying on time every month now, but I still have derogatory marks on my credit that will stay with me until seven years after they’re paid off ― which is, you know, when I’m 70.”
Eventually, she was able to finance a new vehicle at nearly 20% APR, “which is outrageous,” she said, “but I was willing to do that in order to start establishing a positive payment history.” Recently, she was able to refinance her auto loan down to 2% APR.
She also opened two secured credit cards. After six months of on-time payments, the card issuers transitioned them to real credit cards. Her fiancé, who had great credit, also added her as an authorized user to a few of his credit cards. They even bought a house together.
Despite a few lingering negative marks on her credit, Dikih’s score gradually rose thanks to her hard work. After about two years, it now hovers around 730 ― considered to be well within the “good” range.
Don’t Let Fear Sabotage Your Financial Life
Though Dikih considered hiring a credit repair company to help her fix her credit, she ultimately decided she could do it on her own. After all, her biggest obstacle had been her own lack of willingness to be proactive. “I used Google to find everything. … I had a fire under my ass to get it fixed.”
She kept tabs on her progress, and every small bump in her score was enough motivation to keep going. “For me, the biggest thing was getting over the fear,” she said. Once she knew where she stood, it was just a matter of making her finances a priority.
“It’s just a number,” she said, one you have control over if you choose.
Biden administration is set to unveil a new greenhouse gas reduction target at a climate meeting on 22 April, Earth Day Environmental groups and leaders have said the US goal must be no lower than a 50% cut in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. Photograph: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images The US needs to commit to slashing its planet-heating emissions by at least half by the end of the decade to address the climate crisis and spur other countries to greater action, a coalition of American environmental groups has urged. Joe Biden’s administration is set to unveil a new national emissions reduction target at a climate meeting it has convened with other major economic powers on Earth Day, 22 April, which it hopes will galvanize countries that are currently dangerously lagging in efforts to stave off disastrous climate change. A motley selection of environmental groups and leaders have said the US goal must be no lower than a 50% cut in its greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, based on 2005 levels. This will, the groups argue, put America on track to meet Biden’s aspiration of net zero emissions by 2050, as well as provide a major push to countries and businesses that were bereft of American climate leadership during Donald Trump’s presidency. “The target has to be ambitious enough to show US leadership, but also credible, it can’t just be plucked from thin air,” said Nat Keohane, vice-president for international climate at the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF). “This is ambitious but also feasible. We need to show the US is bringing everything it can to this fight.” A new EDF report calls for a “whole of government effort” to combat the climate crisis, with all cars sold in the US to be zero emissions from 2035, a clean electricity standard to shift the grid to renewable energy sources such as solar and wind, and new regulations to restrict methane emissions from oil and gas drilling. Other environmental groups, including the Union of Concerned Scientists, World Resources Institute and National Resources Defense Council, have also rallied to the idea of a 50% cut, along with figures such as Jay Inslee, the governor of Washington, and Michael Bloomberg, former mayor of New York City, as crucial to curb ever-worsening wildfires, floods and heatwaves that are suffered disproportionately by underserved Americans of color. “We see this important opportunity to bolster equity and fairness,” said Starla Yeh, a clean energy policy specialist at the Natural Resources Defense Council. “The goal is not only achievable but cost effective. The more progress we make this decade, the better off we will be.” The US first set an emissions reduction target, known in diplomatic jargon as a nationally determined contribution (or NDC), in 2014 during Barack Obama’s administration, vowing to cut emissions by up to 28% by 2025, on 2005 levels. The target by itself does not lower emissions but helps set federal government policy and provides a framework for businesses, cities and states to work towards. A 50% reduction by 2030 would “be a challenge”, according to Nathan Hultman, who helped design the Obama-era goal, but would be achievable with a “whole of society approach”. The international credibility of the world’s second largest carbon polluter was severely damaged during the Trump administration, when the US pulled out of the Paris climate agreement and dismantled various rules aimed to reduce emissions. The US’s return to the international fold has come with added expectations, with Laurence Tubiana, a French diplomat and key architect of the Paris agreement, saying the American target should be “at least” a 50% reduction. “There are broad expectations from America’s allies that the NDC needs to start with a ‘5’,” said Keohane. “There is a level of urgency you hear from folks in the White House that is a sea change from even the Obama administration. I think they are serious in putting out an ambitious marker.” John Kerry, Biden’s climate envoy, is currently on a trip to Europe to meet leaders in the lead-up to crucial UN climate talks in Glasgow later this year. Kerry met with the British prime minister, Boris Johnson, on Monday and will this week hold talks with officials from the European commission and the French government. Kerry said the UK was a “strong partner” in facing the climate crisis but that the world’s largest emitters needed to do far more. Before his trip, Kerry had said the world was “marching forward to what is almost tantamount to a mutual suicide pact” by failing to cut emissions quickly enough. China, the world’s largest emitter, recently released a five-year plan that severely disappointed environmentalists.
Russia has signed a deal to produce its Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine in Italy, the first contract in the European Union, the Italian Russian Chamber of Commerce announced Tuesday. The deal was signed with Adienne Srl, the Italian subsidiary of a Swiss-based pharmaceutical company, and Kirill Dmitriev, CEO of the Russian Direct Investment Fund. Russian authorities are working on 20 similar collaborations in Europe and the Sputnik V vaccine has been registered in 45 nations worldwide, the group said.
A Dallas police officer who was recently charged in an alleged murder-for-hire scheme was under investigation for longer than authorities have previously acknowledged, sharpening questions about why he continued to patrol the city as his colleagues looked into whether he was involved in a 2017 killing. After Bryan Riser was arrested Thursday, former Dallas police Chief U. Reneé Hall said he was “first identified as a person of interest in 2019” and was kept on the job to avoid tipping him off to the investigation. Riser was charged last week with two counts of capital murder in the killings of Saenz and 61-year-old Albert Douglas.
A century ago, King George V decreed the children and grandchildren of the monarch automatically get prince or princess titles. Queen Elizabeth made a special ruling to extend that to William's children.
Two German Shepherds belonging to President Joe Biden have been banished from the White House after one of them bit a security guard, according to reports. Three-year-old Major, who was adopted by Mr Biden in November 2018, had what was described as a "biting incident" with a member of White House security, and has been sent back to Delaware along with 13-year-old Champ. The two dogs only moved into the White House six weeks ago, but CNN has reported that they have been sent to Mr Biden’s hometown of Wilmington, Delaware, possibly to stay with minders. Major, the first rescue dog to live in the White House, “has been known to display agitated behaviour on multiple occasions, including jumping, barking, and ‘charging’ at staff and security” people familiar with the situation told the network. It is not the first time that Major has caused trouble for the President.
French President Emmanuel Macron announced a decision Tuesday to speed up the declassification of secret documents related to Algeria’s 1954-62 war of independence from France. The measure comes amid a series of steps taken by Macron to reconcile France with its colonial past and address its brutal history with Algeria, which had been under French rule for 132 years until its independence in 1962. The French presidency said in a statement that archive services will now be allowed to use a new procedure to declassify documents from 1970 and earlier that were previously being held secret for national security purposes.
On Monday's Good Morning Britain, Piers Morgan thrashed Prince Harry and Meghan Markle for their damaging revelations about Britain's royal family in Sunday night's bombshell interview with Oprah Winfrey, repeatedly saying he does not believe them — especially Markle — and clashing with cohost Susanna Reid, then guests Dr. Shola Mos-Shogbamimu and Trisha Goddard, both of whom are Black. On Tuesday's show, after starting with iffy comments about another cohost's short skirt, Morgan resumed his critique of Markle and her husband — and then walked out when a fourth cohost, Alex Beresford, called him out on it. Piers Morgan just walked off the Good Morning Britain set (!!!) after co-presenter Alex Beresford defended Harry and Meghan and condemned Piers' treatment of them in yesterday's programming pic.twitter.com/mH75J8ND4O — Chris Rickett (@chrisrickett) March 9, 2021 "I understand you don't like Meghan Markle, you've made it so clear a number of times on this program, a number of times," Beresford told Morgan. "And I understand you've got a personal relationship with Meghan Markle, or you had one and she cut you off," he added, apparently referring to a series of dates Morgan and Markle went on in 2015, right when she met Harry. "Has she said anything about you since she cut you off?" Beresford needled. "I don't think she has, and yet you continue to trash her." After Morgan walked off, Beresford criticizes his "diabolical behavior," adding: "I'm sorry, but Piers spouts off on a regular basis and we all have to sit there and listen — 6:30 to 7:00 yesterday was incredibly hard to watch." Morgan came back on air a short time later, Deadline reports, and advised Beresford that they need to "talk to each other in a civilized manner given we work on the same show on the same team," and "launching into a pretty personally derogatory monologue on one of your colleagues probably isn't one of the best ways to go about it." Watch their subsequent, remarkably personal conversation about race, royalty, and Meghan Markle below. Peter Weber More stories from theweek.comThe Harry and Meghan interview might have taken down more than the royal family7 spondiferously funny cartoons about the Dr. Seuss controversyLate night hosts roast Britain's royals after Oprah's bombshell interview with Prince Harry and Meghan