Let’s be honest. Today’s consumer-driven, designer-obsessed culture makes it difficult for many of us to live within our means—and black women are no exception. Peering into the lives of the rich and famous—by way of glossy magazines and glitzy celebrity-fixated TV shows—makes us envious of their lifestyle, clothing, bling, and mansions, and tempts us to spend money we don’t have in order to feel like members of an exclusive club and not outsiders looking in. And that temptation, all too often, leads us into living on credit and ever-deeper into debt.
No one understands this better than Glinda Bridgforth, a leading financial expert familiar to millions of Americans for her continuing role as a money coach on the Oprah Winfrey Show’s acclaimed “America’s Debt Diet” series. The Essence best-selling author of Girl, Get Your Money Straight! and coauthor of Girl, Make Your Money Grow!, Bridgforth now follows up on her earlier successes with GIRL, GET YOUR CREDIT STRAIGHT!: A Sister’s Guide to Ditching Your Debt, Mending your Credit, and Building a Strong Financial Future (Broadway Books; January 16, 2007; $19.95), a timely new book that gives African-American women the easy-to-follow, step-by-step plan they’ve been waiting for to clean up their credit and dig their way out of debt.
“For better or for worse, we Americans are married to our credit cards,” says Bridgforth, who finds that 90 percent of the questions she is asked when giving financial seminars or keynoter speeches relate to credit issues. “It’s simply the American way to make purchases on credit. We do everything with them, and it doesn’t take unanticipated medical bills or a job loss to entice us to abuse credit.”
Having racked up $50,000 in unsecured debt herself nearly twenty years ago, Bridgforth speaks from experience and from the heart. On the verge of bankruptcy, she incorporated therapy to better understand how her subconscious beliefs and unconscious decisions shaped her financial burdens. By doing so, she was able to see clearly how closely tied emotional well-being is to financial well-being, and that life-changing revelation today informs her holistic approach, which integrates the emotional, spiritual, cultural, and historical aspects of how African-American women behave with their money.
Written in a fresh, fun, sister-to-sister voice that women of all ages will not only appreciate but also relate to, GIRL, GET YOUR CREDIT STRAIGHT! empowers black women to overcome the deep-rooted issues they may have with money, showing them how to gain control over their financial future and emotional well-being through a series of self-revealing exercises. The book is divided into three parts:
- Part One: Digging the Debt Ditch: Life in the Financial Hole – explores the why, what, and how of credit. Why people mismanage credit—the core emotional, cultural, and psychological issues at the root of African-American women’s problems. What societal measuring sticks are used to evaluate black women—credit reports and credit scores. And how black women get into debt—the abuse of various credit products.
- Part Two: Climbing Out of the Hole: Practical Tools and Debt-Reducing Strategies – offers step-by-step guidance on what women need to do with the money they already have to pay down debt and addresses such issues as establishing a spending plan, specific strategies to increase credit scores, and the most difficult issues couples face in the pursuit of financial harmony.
- Part Three: On Level Ground: Forward-Thinking Strategies to Prevent Debt, Preserve Credit, and Keep Your Spirit in Check – covers all the ways in which readers can ultimately set themselves up to ensure that they never fall into a financial abyss again. The chapters in part three inspire black women to set long-term financial goals and provide ideas for increasing their income or making a career change. Bridgforth also shows how to protect oneself from the perils that can wipe folks out financially and addresses the importance of using healing rituals to get through any struggle in life—financial or not.
Tackling head-on the unique challenges that African-American women face with money and that result in self-destructive spending habits and poor financial health, GIRL, GET YOUR CREDIT STRAIGHT! provides a powerful prescription for achieving financial freedom and greater happiness in life.