Tackling the topic of financial wellness with Eric Parks, SVP of Operation HOPE

I am an official brand ambassador for FICO. While I receive compensation for my participation as a brand ambassador, opinions are mine.

In my quest to continue to hear from others who are passionate and driven to educate us on the importance of financial wellness and credit education, it was an honor to speak with Eric Parks, Senior Vice President of Program Operations on behalf of FICO. Operation HOPE is a for-purpose organization working to disrupt poverty and empower inclusion for low and moderate-income youth and adults.

Let’s dive in to hear Eric’s thoughts on the importance financial wellness, key areas that we should keep at the top of our minds, and how we can tap into our inner selves to supplement our income.

TFB: What are your thoughts on the importance of financial wellness and maintaining a healthy credit score?

Founder and CEO of Operation Hope, John Hope Bryant, once said, “Nothing changes your life more than God, love and or a credit score of 700 or more.” In order to build a foundation to set yourself up for a normal life based on societal standards, credit is the backbone and you will need it. We live in a world where money and having access to financial resources allows us to take advantage of opportunities that may come our way.

On the topic of “wellness” which is often associated with your physical health, we have to remember that our health is dramatically affected by how stable we are financially. Not being able to pay our bills or the lack of preparation leads to stress; therefore, we have to eliminate everything that draws us away from being at our very best. Studies continue to show that financial wellness has a huge impact on our health.

TFB: What are some financial challenges in which you have noticed individuals experiencing and what are some key things that each of us should keep our eyes on?

Education is key and priority number one. The more knowledge you have about any subject matter, the greater your chances are to conquer issues that may be rooted in those situations (financially or otherwise). If you don’t know anything about a specific topic, it’s impossible for you to make progress. The more educated you become the more elevated you are. Continue to tap into financial resources such as myfico.com or seek out connections with Operation HOPE to enhance your understanding of overall financial wellness.

Once you have educated yourself, understand how to apply it. The first step towards this is creating a budget and understanding that it is necessary for everyone. We must allocate our money to specific areas in order to make a visible impact. This could range between fixed costs, saving, investing and preparing for enjoyable moments such as vacations.

Seek out trusted experts/groups, and accountability partners (a financial buddy). If you are just starting out with making adjustments to your financial habits, there’s a great chance that you will fall off at least once from your chosen path. Having individuals around that can support you is vital to your journey.

TFB: How can we collectively become better with making personal finance conversations and the topic of credit education part of our weekly routines (beyond new year resolutions)? 

Time is money. When you wake up in the morning until you go to sleep at night, there’s a monetary value attached to many of the things that you come in contact with or the things that you do throughout the day. As you become more aware of how you spend money on a daily basis, you will begin to apply principals to how you value your money. This will eventually lead you to becoming more efficient with the money you are spending out and the money that you are able to conserve by doing small things yourself. As an example (making your own coffee in the morning or packing your lunch). This becomes important when you consider the reasons that you continue to tell yourself around why you aren’t able to save more money.

TFB: What do you hope to see attendees take away from the Score a Better Future Roadshow events?

The main thing that I would like to see attendees take away is how critical finances are to our lives. Time is critical in the sense of how we live now and the costs of goods and services. Prices will only continue to rise. Make decisions today with your money that will allow you to compete better in the future. Think about where you will be 5, 10, and even 15 years from now and make better financial decisions today that will affect your tomorrow.

TFB: Do you have any advice for someone that may feel discouraged about how much they are earning? 

Many people have been conditioned to believe that having one job is the only way to earn. Our population is often trained to believe that you have to go out to get a job and that you can’t create a position that will assist you with earning more. Keep in mind that you don’t have to wait around to compete for a job. Begin creating ways to supplement your income. Dig into your inner self. If you are a creator, you are on the right track.

What are you doing to embrace financial wellness? 

For more than 25 years, FICO®Scores have been the industry standard in helping millions of people buy homes and cars, rent an apartment, get a credit card, and receive better interest rates. With over 90% of lending institutions using FICO®Scores, myFICO.com is your one-stop credit education solution for answering questions and understanding your FICO®Scores and credit reports.


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The Finance Bar is a personal finance suite helping women and couples achieve financial wellness through coaching, education, and an innovative learning hub on wheels. Creator Marsha Barnes is a Certified Financial Social Worker, Official FICO Brand Ambassador, and was named the 2018 Best Money Expert in the Net-Worth Category.

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