By Mwabi Kaira
I saw something watching Insecure the other night that we rarely get to see on the screen; the bad credit struggle. A whole scene was dedicated to it and Issa’s dreaded score was right there on display. Our favorite awkward girl’s score is 425. She’s gone to see her friend Kelli for some help getting her financial situation in order. Of the four friends in the Insecure circle, Issa seems to be having it the worst. Molly is a very successful lawyer climbing the ranks at her firm and ready to take her talents to firms with more money. She has a wardrobe to-die-for and an amazing apartment. She’s the goals we dreamed of watching Maxine Shaw and Joan Clayton do their thing. Kelli is a very successful accountant and Tiffany is the bougie wife with the bougie job that throws fabulous dinner parties and enjoys her best bougie life. Bottom line, all three friends can afford international trips, retail therapy not limited to Ross and TJ Maxx, and dinners at upscale restaurants without saving for them. Issa would need a payment plan.
Issa’s story is not uncommon for many college graduates right now. Go to college and get your education they said. So you went. You’ll come out and make lots of money they said. They forgot to mention how difficult it is to get jobs in this market. The housing market is booming and you can’t turn a corner in any city without seeing a new apartment building being built. Rents are sky high to keep up with fancy amenities, but salaries aren’t rising with the rising rents. Add paying back student loans to the mix and the odds of having a perfect credit score, 4 months of savings in the bank, and the dream job just get worse.
According to TransUnion 43% of millennials have bad credit. They report that 43% of borrowers ages 18 to 36 have a credit score of 600 or below on the 300-to-850 VantageScore scale. Recent research from OppLoans.com shows that 14% of Millennials say their “bad credit” is the reason why they have roommates, and 25% say that the same thing worked against “their chances of getting an apartment or a house.” Issa is not alone and is like many Americans still waiting for the tide to turn so they can afford grown up things. Let’s be clear, it’s not just millennials either. Bad credit does not discriminate and there are many people in their 40’s, 50’s and 60’s with bad credit. Many Americans are living paycheck to paycheck and it only takes an illness, accident, or a few missed checks to have your credit score drop. Watching Insecure as an adult reminds me of my struggle years entering the real world after college. The rent at my first apartment in 1997 was $345 a month and I think I made $11 an hour as a temp at a engineering testing lab. I bought an Acura Integra for $2500. I’d have maybe $20 in my pocket after bills each payday, but I felt so accomplished and grown doing it all on my own.
Issa is not there yet but she will get there in due time and our girl is trying. We may not agree about whose couch she is sleeping on but she is saving and has picked up another job driving Lyft. She’s packing her lunch instead of eating out everyday. She’s making small strides. Eventually I got hired on full-time and got a salary that made more sense. Issa’s gonna get there too and look back fondly on the struggle years. Let’s just hope she keeps all her other bad decisions to a minimum until then.
Insecure airs every Sunday on HBO at 10:30 PM EST.