Ashley Copeland grew up in Jackson, North Carolina, in a family that, at times, struggled to make ends meet. Fast-forward to today, and Copeland is an entrepreneur making a living in Washington D.C. from earnings from rental properties and teaching money management.
Recently, Copeland was the guest speaker at Dr. Carolyn Carey’s Young Adult Financial Summit at the Greater Shiloh Baptist Church. Copeland discussed marketers and how they target people, including lower-income communities.
She described interest charges as the first tool used to profit from others. Interest is the cost of borrowing money.
“Borrowing money has a price,” she said. “Instead of interest working as a sold price tag, it works as a percentage. Interest rates in lower income communities are generally higher because marketers see the loans as riskier propositions than loans for people that have more disposable income.”
A 10% interest rate could increase significantly when the borrower fails to make the payment on time. Credit card bills are another way lenders make money on consumers. Again, those with poor credit, or deemed a higher risk could see higher interest rates. Copeland said many in lower-income communities dig themselves in bad financial straits with credit card debt.
Paying a credit card balance by the due date will halt the accumulating interest rates on a credit card or a loan for the borrower. Copeland said, splitting the payment into two a month instead of one is a good idea. Once the first payment is paid in full, the accumulating interest resets.
“Go ahead and call your credit card company and ask them to lower your interest rates,” Copeland said. “I would say 90% of the time or 85% of the time they will say yes. That’s going to help you expedite paying off your credit card, and you are not going to be owing as much money in interest. That cost isn’t helping you in any way. It’s helping put money in someone else’s pocket.”
Copeland said banking overdrafts are another way people get themselves in financial trouble. Knowing your banking fees and avoiding over-drafting is a cost-saving approach she recommends for all people to follow.
Leasing a vehicle or renting furniture or appliances is not recommended by Copeland. She said it might be a short-term benefit, but it is a costly endeavor in the long run.
The entrepreneur advises consumers to avoid payday loans, be responsible if playing the lottery, and build a good credit score. Financial stability comes from responsible choices. That includes using income tax return money wisely.
“Income tax return time for lower income communities is the jackpot,” Copeland said. “Use it wisely. Maybe it means making an extra payment on a loan. Maybe it means buying a used car instead of that new car you wanted. I highly recumbent that 50% of your return goes toward paying any long-term debt, such as credit cards, a loan payment — anything that will help reduce your debt.”
Copeland encourages people to save money every time they get paid. That savings could come in handy on a rainy day. She said it isn’t difficult to improve one’s financial status. It takes discipline.
Copeland earned her bachelor of science in political studies at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. After working for a North Carolina Senator in Washington, she began focusing on her new endeavor as an entrepreneur.