Finance Expert Terrell Dinkins Releases Second Book: ‘Secrets of the 800+ Club: How to Raise Your Credit Score, Maintain Good Credit, and Live The Life of Unicorns!’

Hello World,

As this coronvirus crisis continues, having good credit is more important than ever. Unfortunately, businesses are shutting down, people have less discretionary money and healthcare costs are unpredictable. With these factors, it’s good to know that you can use credit to bridge the gap, but what if you don’t have good credit?  Enter financial advisor and wealth empowerment speaker Terrell Dinkins, MBA. Her latest book Secrets of the 800+ Club: How to Raise Your Credit Score, Maintain Good Credit, and Live The Life of Unicorns (which is only 127 pages so it’s a quick read) is designed to give you the information to help you get lower interest rates, gain access to premium credit cards, and secure greater spending power. I interviewed Terrell about her first book One Bucket at a Time: A Woman’s Guide to Creating Wealth in 2015. Click HERE for that interview. Below is Terrell’s bio followed by my interview with her.

Terrell is a true “Georgia Peach.” A native of Atlanta, she earned her BBA in Finance from Georgia Southern University and her MBA from Mercer University’s Stetson School of Business and Economics. She completed the executive program in Financial Planning from the University of Georgia’s Terry College of Business. She has also earned the ChFC® (Chartered Financial Consultant®) designation from The American College of Financial Services, and the CDFA® (Certified Divorce Financial Analyst) designation from the Institute for Divorce Financial Analysts.

Terrell is a past board member and speaker of Henry County Toastmasters. She is also a proud Life Member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated. Her greatest accomplishments are being a wife and mother of two children.

1. Your first book One Bucket at a Time: A Woman’s Guide to Creating Wealth was released in 2015. What was the response to that book, and why did you feel the need to write a new book Secrets of the 800+ Club: How to Raise Your Credit Score, Maintain Good Credit and Live the Life of Unicorns? (Was good credit not covered in the first book?) 

I’ve received great responses for my first book. People are still discovering it, and more people are buying it as an add-on to my new book. My first book was written because a colleague and now friend said there was a need for the world to know about the different money buckets. Back in 2015, I wasn’t thinking about becoming an author, yet! I was teaching my clients the importance of creating multiple money buckets for a rainy day. My friend said the money buckets shouldn’t be a secret just for your clients, and she encouraged me to write the book. The first book shows you how to build wealth, and the new one goes into great detail about one of the contributing factors that block wealth, poor credit.

I wrote the new book because I felt there was a need for the information. Scammers are taking advantage of vulnerable people and their desire to raise their credit scores. I knew there was an easier and honest way to get results if someone wanted to put in the work to raise their credit score and maintain good credit. The unfortunate reality of our economic structure is that people who have low credit scores pay thousands of dollars more in fees than those with excellent credit. I’m always open to helping people save money that can be used to build wealth. Just the other day, I was approached by a scammer, and she stated that she could delete student loan debt and child support debt. We know this is not true!

2. Your title is very interesting. What is the life of a unicorn? 

Unicorns are mythical beings that symbolize magic, miracles, and wisdom. I thought that would be a great symbol to represent those individuals who consistently maintain excellent credit, with credit scores above 800. Doors are willingly open for unicorns when they apply for credit. They receive lower interest rates, access to premium credit cards, and have greater spending power. In my book, I write a detailed profile of individuals whom I consider to be unicorns.

3. In the Introduction, you write about a real estate agent whom you encountered at an event who talked about the importance of good credit in getting a home. Additionally, she was pitching her credit repair program. You wrote that while you did not have a problem with her selling her services, people don’t need to pay for a credit repair program to improve their credit. Do you believe that many people don’t realize that? 

Yes, I think people don’t realize that. Most people just need to figure out how to get that score up because paying their bills on time hasn’t helped. Scores become an issue when people are trying to make a purchase. Then they are desperate because time is not on their side, so they pay someone. If the secrets to raising your score are at your fingertips, you never have to be in a desperate situation.

Is there ever a need for a credit repair program? Please explain like with a service such as Consumer Credit Counseling Services? Yes, there is a need for legitimate credit repair programs. Consumer Credit Counseling Services is one of them. These programs can negotiate rates and speak with creditors on your behalf. They teach you the right way, just like I’ve done in my book.

4. Isn’t having a good credit score as simple as paying your bills on time? 

If that were the answer, more people would be members of the 800+ club. You can make minimum on-time payments on your credit cards and have an extremely low credit score. That’s the issue with so many people. They are stuck and confused because they feel like they are good stewards making sure their bills are paid on time, but the score isn’t moving. Those who don’t know the secrets pay the highest price for credit. Making on-time payments with installment credit is different than making on-time payments with revolving credit if you are trying to raise your credit score. There is a recipe for having excellent credit.

5. In your book, you write about student loan debt as one of the top reasons why people don’t have good credit. A few weeks ago on Facebook in a group of which I’m a member, a recent Georgia high school graduate posted that he had secured all that he needed to pay for his first year of college (through loans and other forms of assistance) in Florida, but that he was still about $3,000 or so short. He also mentioned that after the first year, he would only have to pay in-state tuition costs. As a result, he posted that he was seeking donations. His post created a lot of conversation. What would your advice be to that young man had you seen the post? 

I would have offered to have an offline discussion with the young man if he were willing to listen. But before I fully answer that question, I want to say that this is where crucial conversations need to take place with our young people about the cost and options for college. The cost of college (if you are serious about finishing) goes beyond paying for the first year. Start creating a plan for completing college. I commend the young man for wanting to take steps to attend college. It’s not for everyone.

I would have asked him if his parents were aware that he was seeking donations on social media. I would have also asked him has he thought about the next three or four years after his freshman year. Does he have a plan in place to go the distance (cross the graduation finish line)? I would have asked him did he consider Georgia schools or junior college.

Finally, I would have asked him has he thought about how the student loan debt would impact his lifestyle after graduation. In my book, I spend quite a bit of time on this subject. I have a son who is a college sophomore. We had this conversation.

6. Years ago, I bought my first home when I was in my 20s, and I didn’t have money to buy a bed so I bought it on credit. Shortly after that, I lost my job and wasn’t able to pay most of my bills on time including my furniture bill. As a result, my bill was so high when that financial storm was all over that I resolved to never buy furniture on credit ever again. But you recommend using your credit to pay for things like furniture instead of saving up for it. Why? 

I never put anything on credit I can’t afford to pay for with the assets I have on hand. I use my credit card for everything and pay the bill in full each month. This process allows me to strengthen my credit and build points on my credit card. I cash in the points for gift cards and discounts. A few of the cards are cashback cards (with no annual fee), so I turn around and apply the cash to the charge on my account. For people who aren’t disciplined with credit, they are better off paying cash for furniture. Furniture stores and department store interest rates are outrageous! I took advantage of the no-interest deals for all of the furniture in my house and paid the bill off before the final due date. I use my money buckets (the first book) to fall back on in the event of a life storm (most people will have at least one storm in their lifetime).

7. You mentioned the COVID-19 pandemic at the end of the book. What is your best advice for improving your credit during this pandemic or is that even possible right now?

People have time on their hands right now to invest in themselves through learning and adjusting to a different lifestyle. Since COVID, saving account balances have increased, and credit card balances have declined. So, yes, it is possible to improve your credit during this pandemic. People are paying down debt! I am, however, conscious of the fact that this isn’t the case for everyone. Some of the temporary job losses are going to be permanent. I have two friends who have lost their jobs during the pandemic. One of the friends took a course through Cornell University (investing in knowledge) and has since found new employment. The other friend has pivoted and decided to start her own business.

Time can be a friend. We’ve been forced through this pandemic to take time out for ourselves and think about what is important. People have saved money because they discovered that buying a new pair of shoes or an outfit every pay period isn’t necessary. I had the opportunity to launch my book over the summer, but I purposely waited until the fall. In the fall, we shed the old and come out renewed the next year. I want people to feel renewed with a sense of accomplishment as they discover the Secrets of the 800+ Club.

To find out more information about Terrell and to buy Secrets of the 800+ Club: How to Raise Your Credit Score, Maintain Good Credit and Live the Life of Unicorns and or One Bucket at a Time: A Woman’s Guide to Creating Wealth, go to onebucketnation.com. Additionally, both of her books can be purchased on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Any thoughts?

The Vendor Blueprint: The Home-Based Entrepreneur’s Guide to Representing in the Marketplace -NEW BOOK ALERT!!!

Hello World,

Last Friday, I introduced you to a fiction book, and I hoped you enjoyed that post.  Today, I wanted to share a nonfiction book with you that I hope you enjoy as well —  The Vendor Blueprint: The Home-Based Entrepreneur’s Guide to Representing in the Marketplace by Dr. Anissa Short. As the coronavirus crisis continues, many people are working from home now more than ever. The Vendor Blueprint is a guide designed to help home-based workers and companies. Below is a summary of Dr. Short’s book followed by a few tips from Dr. Short.

Now that you’ve made the decision to begin your home-based business or made plans to take your business to another level, it’s time to share yourself with the world. Are you ready? Are you fully prepared to move ahead? Could you use a little reassurance that what you’ve been doing is productive, or maybe a little direction on how to improve upon things?The content in this book provides a step-by-step guide on best practices for representing in the marketplace.

Tips for Thriving in a Home-Based Business

  1. Protect Your Space — As much as within your power, eliminate all negativity. Turn off the television, limit interaction on social media, and distance yourself from drama. Nothing good can be birthed within an atmosphere filled with negative vibes.
  2. Read, Learn, Grow – Use this time to learn a new skill. Read books that feed your mind. Take a few refresher courses. If an activity serves to foster your growth spiritually, mentally, socially or emotionally, go for it.
  3. Support Others – The law of reciprocity is always at work; therefore, be intentional in your support of others. What you make happen for someone else, God will make happen for you.
  4. Get Your Systems in Place – What have you been putting off? Now is the time to get it together whether it is the hall closet, your inventory, your prospect list, or your office. Get it done.

Dr. Anissa Short, #TheWorkFromHomeCEO, is an advocate for the home-based entrepreneur as a business owner, workshop presenter, a podcaster, contributing writer, and best selling author.

As a leader in a top direct sales company, Dr. Short has been extremely involved in the E3 process of – encouraging, educating, and empowering. Her passion is to assist female entrepreneurs, and she has done so diligently for over a decade. Additionally, she has built an organization with coast-to-coast clientele and features other female entrepreneurs in multiple states. As an independent contractor, she has partnered with several entities. They include, but are not limited to the following: community colleges, publishing companies, and marketing corporations. She has also spearheaded trainings and think tanks to organize, facilitate, and awaken the aspiring entrepreneur. Her events are geared towards success and nothing less! Dr. Shorts hosts a weekly podcast, #TheWorkFromHomeCEO.

Prior to dedicating her life’s work to entrepreneurship, she was employed for 20 years in varied business-related industries, including employment with the federal government. In 1998, Dr. Short married her biggest supporter, Alphonso Short. They reside in North Carolina.

Any thoughts?

New Birth Missionary Baptist Church Offers Free COVID-19 Testing on Mother’s Day, Pastor Jamal Bryant Refutes Bloggers’ Paternity Claims…

Hello World,

I’m shaking my head as I write this because I’ve got so much to communicate so bear with me as I go through what I’m feeling as I write all of this. The good news first: Last month, New Birth Missionary Baptist canceled its COVID-19 testing event as just before it was scheduled to happen, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp ordered the state to shelter in place. At that time, the COVID-19 testing was offered at a cost of $125, but now the testing is being offered for FREE! See the flyer above for details.

Okay, now that the good news has been taken care of, let me get into this bad news. Yesterday, I came across this blog post that I will not link to here, but I imagine you can search for it and find it for the time being (more on that later). This blogger referenced an Instagram post in which the author of the IG post wrote that congratulations are in order because a “secret lady,” whom the blogger wrote was a New Birth Missionary Baptist Church parishioner, allegedly and recently gave birth to Pastor Bryant’s child. Pastor Bryant’s ex-wife Gizelle, with whom he has reconciled although they are not remarried as of now, is even mentioned in the IG post.

So that post was obviously explosive and as some bloggers do, this blogger created a whole blog post about this IG post. As a I read the post,  I wondered if the allegations could be true. I’ve written blog posts about the fact that Pastor Bryant has not been perfect regarding his personal relationships in the past. But as I read through this blog post, it did not sit right with me that no sources were credited. As a journalist,  we do sometimes use secret sources in stories as some sources request anonymity before they are willing to be interviewed. However, these sources typically give enough information so that anyone reading the story would be able to discern the truth. Otherwise, it just comes off as conjecture and irresponsible.

That’s why I have a problem with some of these so-called bloggers who lack journalistic training. It is irresponsible and cruel to post false information about people with absolutely no credible sourcing. I’m not gonna lie. I feast on a juicy bit of gossip every now and then, but I know the difference between gossip and the gospel truth. And most importantly, I’m a Christian. I have no problem calling out people within the church, but I do it when I have enough information to support what I write.

I’m glad that Pastor Bryant saw fit to immediately refute these baseless claims. Please see his video response below. He titled the video “Congratulations Are In Order,” referencing the original IG post. But you have to watch until the video ends to see why he did so…In the words of Megan Thee Stallion, it’s “savage.” Also, I like the fact that he is wearing all white which I think is a not so subtle way to affirm that he is blameless, as it pertains to this particular accusation.

Here is a summary of Pastor Bryant’s response:

I’ve been in a tailspin over the last 24 hours because everywhere I would turn on my social media and on my phone, I was met with the words, ‘Congratulations’ and immediately, when I heard, ‘Congratulations,’ I thought, ‘Wow, that’s great. Somebody sees the work of the church.’ That in spite of the quarantine and the churches being shut down, New Birth, even with closed doors, refused to close our eyes to abject poverty or food insecurity. For the last seven weeks, we’ve been blessed to be able to feed 7,000 individuals in metropolitan Atlanta with fresh groceries. We’ve partnered with Trader Joe’s, Publix, Panera Bread, Atlanta Food Bank and donations from gracious people like you.

I thought when I read in social media, blogs, the ‘congratulations’ was that we were doing the work of Christ, feeding the hungry and taking care of those who were destitute. When I realized the congratulations were not us opening up the king’s table, I immediately thought that maybe, just maybe, that congratulations were in order because we were able to secure some 5, 7, 10,000 COVID-19 tests. I thought people were extending and issuing congratulations to us because we attempted to do it about a month ago, and was met with open rebuke because they were those who said they couldn’t afford the laboratory processing fee so we postponed it until every person could have access.

So we were able to partner with a laboratory and with a testing site, both owned and operated by black women, and so those congratulations were considering that so many black businesses are failing and finding themselves without any support even with the stimulus packages that evades minority businesses. So when it is that we open up our parking lot this coming Sunday on Mother’s Day and say that COVID testing would be free to all – uninsured, under insured, Medicaid, there would be no price and you don’t even have to register, that just show up and stay in your car and all of the African-American healthcare providers who are volunteering would come to your car and test you within three to five minutes. DeKalb is one of the most underserved communities in the state of Georgia. I thought that was the, ‘Congratulations.’

Much to my shock and my amazement, the congratulations was not about feeding 7,000 people, nor about providing free testing to some 70 to 10,000 people on Mother’s Day, but reckless and irresponsible bloggers who went on with no facts, with no evidence and might I add with no truth to make a baseless accusation that I have fathered a baby in April, May, February, January, here in Atlanta and was hiding this baby, from some mother in Atlanta or in my church, that, no. 1, is 1000 percent untrue, a 1000 percent faulty.

In days gone by, I usually don’t say anything. Michelle Obama informed us that when they go low, we go high. If it was just for me, I could just withstand it, ignored it and keep going. But I had to think about my daughters who are now of the Internet age, who have to read these falsities by cowards who would write things, with no boundaries, no compassion, no understanding, but flagrant lies.

I have to think about the church that I’m pastoring, that I’m grateful to pastor: New Birth Missionary Baptist Church here in Stonecrest, Georgia who has gone through a battery of assaults and attacks on the Internet before I ever came. I made a commitment to God and to these people that I would never take them through a storm, through hardship, through embarrassment, through anything that would bring shame to the body of Christ. And I’ve withheld on to that covenant and to that vow to God and to this church.

I’ve had to think about what this would mean to the gospel and people would, in fact, use this as a runway to believe that you can’t outlive your past. Because it is fodder for so many people who believe that if you made any mistake in the past, you’ll keep doing them in the present and relieve them in the future. God is a God who restores and transforms. We sing it often, ‘Things I used to do, I don’t do anymore. Places I used to go, I don’t go anymore.’ And as a consequence, I do not stand as somebody who has done everything right. I haven’t dotted all of my i’s. I haven’t crossed all of my t’s. But one thing that I can stand to true is the man that I am now, is not the man that I used to be. And all of it is credited to God’s saving power, His grace and His forgiveness. There’s somebody who needs to know, you can outlive your past. It doesn’t matter what people think or what people say. And in the words of William Shakespeare, ‘To thine own self be true.’

Amazingly, I read in physics, when I was still a high school student, that there was something about the force of momentum, whether it was a thing or it was a person, when you are moving with momentum, the only thing that can stop you is what is in front of you. What is behind you does not have the authority, the force or the power to do so, only what is in front of you. I’m grateful to God that the Lord is allowing and affording us the opportunity to do a great work in Atlanta, but I’m telling you that no power, principality, no hater, no envy, no jealousy, no spite, no vindictiveness will be able to stop the momentum of God that is moving in my life and in the life of New Birth church.

I’m thankful for all of you who have extended prayers and genuine deep-seated concern for me, for my mental health and even for my family. I’m grateful. Please, whatever you do, especially on this National Day of Prayer, please keep praying for me. I am not what I should be, but I thank God that I’m not what I used to be.

In the words of that great American writer, ‘Rumors of my demise have greatly ben exaggerated.’ Mark Twain said that. So to those of you who are celebrating prematurely, hoping that the enemy was going to win, and that character was going to crack, and that ethics would somehow elude me, I’m sorry. And to the bloggers who wrote this with no names, no evidence, no proof and all the more, with no truth, this blog is for you. (Pastor Bryant then pauses to hold up a blue balloon with the word ”Congrats’ and ‘Way to Go,’ written on it along with multicolored confetti dots. ) I wanted to extend to all of you, ‘Congratulations.’

And now,  I will let you hear his words out of his mouth so that you can hear the savagery for yourselves! Ha! I have to give you a few cool points for that one, Pastor.

He goes on to say that on Saturday, New Birth Missionary Baptist Church will be feeding 1,000 people who are in need of groceries. His exact words then are, ‘Somebody blog that,” and so I am. If you are in need of groceries and you live in the A, mosey on over to New Birth where the food is free and the pastor aine putting up with it with some of y’all no mo…

And furthermore, if you need a free COVID-19 test, come through on Sunday…

Pastor Bryant was named the new pastor of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church, which had suffered through years of controversy, at the end of 2018. Since then Pastor Bryant, who has also suffered through controversy (some from his own making), before he arrived, has created both good and interesting, to say the least, headlines after he arrived. But this one — good, bad or indifferent — should not be attributed to him.

So unlike other bloggers, I will not be saying, ‘Happy Mother’s Day’ to some phantom woman who has been referenced in this “story” as was instructed in the original IG post. And that’s pretty much all I have to say at this point.

Any thoughts?