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Saving, not owning, up to yourself

One of my friends who is now a “gym-rat” was telling me about how his brother tagged along with him to invigorate his body with some work outs.

My friend has been at it hard for several years now, and I’d say though he’s definitely not Arnold Schwarzenegger, his bod is mod. He was expounding how his brother was quite upset after a few weeks. I can imagine the conversation going like this.

“Ugh. Why do you lift so much more than me!” the newcomer said.

The response, from my practical and no-need-to-hide-truth friend to his brother: “I’ve been at this for two years. How can you expect to be as strong as me after two weeks?

How can you expect to have as much savings as your friend who dragged you along to visit their CFP® counsellor. How can I expect to have as much experience and knowledge as the man who hired me as an intern for the summer? He has 40 years of experience. The principles of finance are the same as weight lifting. Judge yourself based on where you are now. The best place to start, is where you are currently standing.

Resisting the impulse to compare yourself to others is a difficult one, and one that requires a ton of practice, patience, and of course failure from time to time. It’s like learning to ride a bike; you start with training wheels and, if you’re me, still end up falling off the monsterous thing and splitting your chin open on that random rock that’s in your driveway (I’m still bitter about that if you can’t tell).

Speaking of bitter, you can’t hold past mistakes against yourself either. You made a bad choice in taking out that auto-loan. Fine! You’ve never had credit in your life and can’t even pass a check to get an auto-loan. Fine! You’ve tried four fad diets and *shocker* none of them worked.  Fine!

Here is where you start: Stop comparing yourself to others! Start comparing you to yourself and others who are at the point where you are.
Example: In my financial counselling class, where am I compared to these other kids with similar experience?
Bad Example: Walking into a room of M.D’s, where am I compared to these professionals with 30 years of brain surgery under their belt about identifying which nerve may or may not completely paralyze the patient permanently?

Let’s compare this to our financial selves. You’ve heard a thousand times that you need to start saving for yourself… I wrote down 10 of them when writing and then deleted them; you don’t need to hear it again. Why? Because you don’t need to own up to anyone else except you for your actions.

Napoleon Hill said it best,

“The right sort of actions require no embellishment of words. One of the most common mistakes is making excuses to explain why we do not succeed. Unfortunately, the vast majority of people in the world —those who do not succeed — are excuse-makers. They try to explain their action, or inaction, with words. When you succeed, accept the congratulations of others with good grace; when you fail, take responsibility for your actions, learn from your mistakes, and move on to more constructive things. When your actions are appropriate in every circumstance, you will never feel the need to explain them with words. Your actions will say all that needs to be said.” -Napoleon Hill (

If you are doing the best you can, no explanation is needed. But just like building a credit score, it is time to start building your financial experience. You choose how you are going to start saving, then start doing it!

Remember, the best time for change is when things change for you.

New college student: I’m going to build my credit score by dropping $50 on a secured credit card so I can have revolving credit go on my record.

Go out of state for a summer internship: Start working on them biceps and fat legs with that special Planet Fitness $1 down $10 a month deal you saw. (This isn’t much to do with finance, but it’s so true for me right now)

New job after graduation: I’m going to open a second bank account and put 10% of my wages into that so I’m saving.

Job change: I’m going to do better by maxing out my company 401(k) contributions  that they match.

Moved across the country with your three children: We are going to start putting aside that $400 a month we’re saving on rent and save it for our children’s tuition in a 529 Savings Plan.

Shia LaBeouf proclaimed it best,

Don’t let your dreams be dreams
Yesterday you said tomorrow
So just do it
Make your dreams come true
Just do it

Some people dream of success
While you’re gonna wake up and work hard at it
Nothing is impossible

You should get to the point
Where anyone else would quit
And you’re not going to stop there
No, what are you waiting for?

Just Do It

Start saving, Just Do It. Start dancing, Just Do It. Step toward your goal and feel alive, Just Do It.

When you make a choice, don’t explain it to anyone. Don’t own up to anyone.

Own up to yourself.



-Jacob Johnson

Student of Financial Planning at Utah Valley University
Member of UVU’s student chapter of the FPA Association
Intern with Searcy Financial Services

  • Guest editing and creative writing advice from my good friend Rebekah White! Look forward to more of her powerful skills in making writing legible! Maybe next time I’ll even put some of her contact information in here.



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Seriously, No Credit Score

You’re that one college student. Your parents have the car in your name, you were a part of credit union so you still have joint-access on your bank account, you’ve worked jobs and they all have auto-paid to that account you have. To make matters worse, the background check your college apartment runs turned out with nothing on you, even though you’re twenty-two! You know the manager though and he’s going to be making money off of your and the 4 friends you have coming in to rent this larger apartment out so he lets that slide.

Fact of the matter is: you have zero credit history, and a FICO of Pointer={Null}.

Awkward story. This is Me, and I’m supposedly a student learning about Financial Planning. I can tell you about “Yield” and “Earnings Per Share” in stock markets, I can monologue about knowing when to refinance your home and fun software available to consumers to track your expenses and get on top of your budget. Determining when to file bankruptcy may be out of my league now, but I can certainly help you understand the major considerations to make before filing bankruptcy such as identifying secured debt and reminding you that student loan debt doesn’t leave you if you file bankruptcy.

But. I. Don’t. Even. Have. A. Credit. Score.

What do I do? Well, I’m a man with a plan, and I intend fully to get myself that credit score, dream of 800’s.

Where do I even begin? I know the basics and book learning: Never have more than 15% of your limit on credit cards, don’t pay your bills late,  Have accounts that are older than 10 years, have cycle credit and fixed credit that you pay regularly and on time (I.E. spending on your credit card for bills and paying it off, and having a mortgage or car payment).

But, I’m not starting from 0. I’m not even starting from 300! I’m starting from Value = Null!

Here are some Ideas I’ve heard and read about starting to build a credit score.

  • Get a secured Credit Card
  • Get a Credit-Builder Loan
  • Co-sign for a Credit Card or Loan
  • Become an authorized user on another credit card

I want to know what YOU did. I can do a google search or a search (ninja’s don’t know anything about building Credit! Trust me, I’ve asked a ninja)

Ask a Ninja.PNG

Now, these ideas are ideas. I want action items. How does one actually accomplish this? Here are my honest thoughts, but to shake it up I’m going backwards, from dumb to least dumb

1.Co-Sign for a Credit Card or Loan –

Unless your parent is highly trusting of you, or intentionally wants to make themselves get in a rough place credit wise themselves if you ever mess up, this sounds like a bad idea. If you are late on a payment or lose your job and can’t pay or a variety of other issues, guess who has to pay? The person who cosigned with you. Maybe not financially and you can pay them back next month with the late fees on top. But it will damage their credit too.

Steps:    a) Go in with the Co-Signer to a credit institution
b) Fill out the application with them and sign their blood to your blood
c) pay on time every time or ruin the relationship with whomever co-signer is

Score on the Can-To-Should-Do scale is Probably-Not : 1/7

2. Get a Secured- Credit Card –

I’ll be honest. I wouldn’t know what this was if I hadn’t asked 3 Certified Financial Planner® (CFP®) Designee’s and a couple of college professors about how to build a credit score and they shared this concept. Secured Cards are designed to build credit, break your way into the system and get that score. However, you have to give them the money equal to the amount you have “On Credit” and it isn’t given back until you’ve paid that amount. The benefits are that your money you are almost loaning from yourself is reported to Credit Bereaus! Really, it just seems like a cheap way, yes there is a fee, to get in on your own. #Independent

Steps:    a) find a secured credit card company, your bank probably has one or has reviews on secured credit cards
b) bring in a wad of cash and fill out the application
c) use it: pay tuition, buy noodles and ramen, or deliver your girl some cute flowers.
d) Make sure you set a billion reminders and auto pay to pay that on time! Don’t mess this up, its fool proof. You’re the fool, and the proof is in that you’re paying to use your own money.
e) close the account at the end and you should have credit now.

Score on the Can-To-Should-Do scale is Probably-Should : 6/7

3. Credit-Builder Loan

This is like a normal loan, but you don’t get any of the money from the loan. This forces you to save your money, and the payments get reported, so save on time. Not a bad way to force yourself to start saving! Then at the end, you get your own money back in the new account plus that credit score. Note that these do have fees. It may be good to consider Credit Builder Loans and Secured card loans to see what’s better, though I’d guess secured is better rates because you have to have the money in hand.

Steps:    a) Find your company: credit unions, and online lenders like are options
b) link up that auto pay so you don’t hurt yourself, and set reminders!
c) wait a time frame, usually 1 year while making payments
c) get your money and credit score.

Score on the Can-To-Should-Do scale is Probably-Should : 5.5/7

4. Become an authorized user on another person’s card

I bet your parent, or sibling could work for this. If you can pull this off you get all the perks of their spending habits to build your history, but you aren’t legally required to pay for anything they do.  Check with the bank they use and make sure they will report it on your name if you become authorized.

Steps:    a) check that the agency you want to use will report on your record
b) Ensure that the person you want to use is reliable!
c) get your name on that card
d) wait a time frame, probably about a year and check in with them periodically
e) do nothing. You should have a credit score

Score on the Can-To-Should-Do scale is DO-IT-NOW: 8.4/7


Now, that you have all these ideas from my mouth. What has worked for YOU! Let’s move from theory to practice. I’m going to open some accounts and get my score moving and I’ll promise you some updates on how it’s working out next week!

Shouldn’t you be getting your score started now? Share your actions with me and join in the Credit Creating Revolution with me.


-Jacob Brad Johnson is 22 years old and a student at Utah Valley University (UVU). He is actively pursuing a degree in Personal Financial Planning and intends to prepare for and become a Certified Financial Planner® (CFP®) Designee. He is involved in the Financial Planning Association at UVU and has been an intern at Searcy Financial Services. He’s competed ballroom dance at a national level and yes, he doesn’t have a credit score. Yet!