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Debunking Common Credit Myths

Career

When it comes to your finances, understanding credit and how it works can be one of the most confusing and frustrating aspects. Myths and misconceptions about credit scores run rampant, so it can be difficult to know what’s what. Even if you have the best intentions, it can end up being costly to make a mistake as a result of not understanding how credit works. Here are 6 of the most common credit myths, debunked.


1: Closing a lot of credit cards will improve my credit score.

Your credit score takes the average length of your credit accounts into consideration, so closing a credit card you’ve had for a long time can actually have a negative impact on your score. Your score is also determined based on the amount of available credit you have, so closing a credit card with a high credit limit can decrease your debt-to-available-credit ratio. Try to avoid closing too many credit cards at once and consider just putting some of your credit cards aside so you can leave them open without actually using them.

Photo courtesy of Digital Brainiac

2: I don’t have any credit cards or debt, so I must have a good credit score.

A lack of credit or debt can actually make you appear unfavorable in the eyes of a lender. Lenders gauge your creditworthiness based on your history of responsible credit use.

A limited history of credit (and on-time payments) can actually result in a lower score and a lender seeing you as a risky borrower. However, there are steps you can take to build your credit from scratch.

Photo courtesy of Brimg

3: Checking my credit report will lower my credit score.

Checking your own credit report is considered a “soft inquiry” and will have no effect on raising or lowering your credit score. You can check your credit report annually for free with each of the 3 bureaus (Transunion, Experian, and Equifax).

4: I always pay my bills on time – therefore I must have a high credit score.

While payment history does make up a significant portion of your credit score, other factors are taken into consideration as well. Your credit score is also determined by your length of credit history, amount owed, types of credit, and number of credit inquiries.

5: I make a lot of money, so I must have a good credit score.

Your income or the amount of money you have saved in the bank has no bearing on your credit score, other than the fact that this may enable you to make your minimum monthly payments. Other information that is not included on your credit report is your ethnicity, criminal record, political affiliation, religion, medical history, and gender.

6: With a bad credit score, I can never get a loan.

This is not necessarily true. While it will certainly be more difficult, there are companies willing to lend to people with lower scores. However, you will likely have a higher interest rate than someone with good credit. An alternative is to have someone cosign a loan for you, though this option should be approached with caution.

When it comes to your finances, knowledge is power. Educating yourself on how to build the perfect credit history will turn you into a prime candidate for things like a mortgage or personal loan. Now that you know some of the most common myths about credit, get to work on boosting your score!

7min read
Culture

The Middle East And North Africa Are Brimming With Untapped Female Potential

Women of the Middle East have made significant strides in the past decade in a number of sectors, but huge gaps remain within the labor market, especially in leadership roles.


A huge number of institutions have researched and quantified trends of and obstacles to the full utilization of females in the marketplace. Gabriela Ramos, is the Chief-of-Staff to The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), an alliance of thirty-six governments seeking to improve economic growth and world trade. The OECD reports that increasing participation in the women's labor force could easily result in a $12 trillion jump in the global GDP by the year 2025.

To realize the possibilities, attention needs to be directed toward the most significantly underutilized resource: the women of MENA—the Middle East and North African countries. Educating the men of MENA on the importance of women working and holding leadership roles will improve the economies of those nations and lead to both national and global rewards, such as dissolving cultural stereotypes.

The OECD reports that increasing participation in the women's labor force could easily result in a $12 trillion jump in the global GDP by the year 2025.

In order to put this issue in perspective, the MENA region has the second highest unemployment rate in the world. According to the World Bank, more women than men go to universities, but for many in this region the journey ends with a degree. After graduating, women tend to stay at home due to social and cultural pressures. In 2017, the OECD estimated that unemployment among women is costing some $575 billion annually.

Forbes and Arabian Business have each published lists of the 100 most powerful Arab businesswomen, yet most female entrepreneurs in the Middle East run family businesses. When it comes to managerial positions, the MENA region ranks last with only 13 percent women among the total number of CEOs according to the Swiss-based International Labor Organization (ILO.org publication "Women Business Management – Gaining Momentum in the Middle East and Africa.")

The lopsided tendency that keeps women in family business—remaining tethered to the home even if they are prepared and capable of moving "into the world"—is noted in a report prepared by OECD. The survey provides factual support for the intuitive concern of cultural and political imbalance impeding the progression of women into the workplace who are otherwise fully capable. The nations of Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco, Libya, Jordan and Egypt all prohibit gender discrimination and legislate equal pay for men and women, but the progressive-sounding checklist of their rights fails to impact on "hiring, wages or women's labor force participation." In fact, the report continues, "Women in the six countries receive inferior wages for equal work… and in the private sector women rarely hold management positions or sit on the boards of companies."

This is more than a feminist mantra; MENA's males must learn that they, too, will benefit from accelerating the entry of women into the workforce on all levels. Some projections of value lost because women are unable to work; or conversely the amount of potential revenue are significant.

Elissa Freiha, founder of Womena, the leading empowerment platform in the Middle East, emphasizes the financial benefit of having women in high positions when communicating with men's groups. From a business perspective it has been proven through the market Index provider MSCI.com that companies with more women on their boards deliver 36% better equity than those lacking board diversity.

She challenges companies with the knowledge that, "From a business level, you can have a potential of 63% by incorporating the female perspective on the executive team and the boards of companies."

Freiha agrees that educating MENA's men will turn the tide. "It is difficult to argue culturally that a woman can disconnect herself from the household and community." Her own father, a United Arab Emirates native of Lebanese descent, preferred she get a job in the government, but after one month she quit and went on to create Womena. The fact that this win-lose situation was supported by an open-minded father, further propelled Freiha to start her own business.

"From a business level, you can have a potential of 63% by incorporating the female perspective on the executive team and the boards of companies." - Elissa Frei

While not all men share the open-mindedness of Freiha's dad, a striking number of MENA's women have convincingly demonstrated that the talent pool is skilled, capable and all-around impressive. One such woman is the prominent Sheikha Lubna bint Khalid bin Sultan Al-Qasimi, who is currently serving as a cabinet minister in the United Arab Emirates and previously headed a successful IT strategy company.

Al-Qasimi exemplifies the potential for MENA women in leadership, but how can one example become a cultural norm? Marcello Bonatto, who runs Re: Coded, a program that teaches young people in Turkey, Iraq and Yemen to become technology leaders, believes that multigenerational education is the key. He believes in the importance of educating the parent along with their offspring, "particularly when it comes to women." Bonatto notes the number of conflict-affected youth who have succeeded through his program—a boot camp training in technology.

The United Nations Women alongside Promundo—a Brazil-based NGO that promotes gender-equality and non-violence—sponsored a study titled, "International Men and Gender Equality Survey of the Middle East and North Africa in 2017."

This study surveyed ten thousand men and women between the ages of 18 and 59 across both rural and urban areas in Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco and the Palestinian Authority. It reports that, "Men expected to control their wives' personal freedoms from what they wear to when the couple has sex." Additionally, a mere one-tenth to one-third of men reported having recently carried out a more conventionally "female task" in their home.

Although the MENA region is steeped in historical tribal culture, the current conflict of gender roles is at a crucial turning point. Masculine power structures still play a huge role in these countries, and despite this obstacle, women are on the rise. But without the support of their nations' men this will continue to be an uphill battle. And if change won't come from the culture, maybe it can come from money. By educating MENA's men about these issues, the estimated $27 trillion that women could bring to their economies might not be a dream. Women have been empowering themselves for years, but it's time for MENA's men to empower its women.