Use your credit as leverage to build wealth — Wealthy people don’t use their own money when making investments. They use other people’s money. You have to have good credit to do so.
I had the pleasure to interview Constance Carter. Constance is an International Best-Selling Author, Investor, Speaker, Musician and the CEO of the largest African American Residential Real Estate & Lending firm in Northern California. Her books include O.N.E, Build Credit to Build Wealth, Keeping Score and latest release, The Secret to Breaking the B.R.O.K.E Code. Constance thrives in being a catalyst in bridging the inequities in underserved communities to create transformational change, creating legacies that transcends generations. She has been featured in several publications including The Huffington Post, Black Enterprise, Rolling Out Magazine, Thrive Global, and Fox News. Constance serves as a Speaker Advocate Coach & Retreat Facilitator for Lisa Nichols & Motivating the Masses. Between running her successful real estate firm, speaking, her training programs, media appearances, in addition to having a busy family of 6, she truly embraces her motto, Nobody Works Harder than Constance Carter.
Thank you so much for doing this with us Constance! Can you tell us the “backstory” about what brought you to the Finance/Investing field?
Growing up, I always overheard my parents talking about what they couldn’t do or have because of bad credit. I didn’t know what bad credit was, but I knew it was ruining our lives. So I vowed that I would never walk in those same footsteps. I would never have bad credit. And I did pretty good the first few years of my adult life. I was very responsible and lived within my means. At 26 I received my real estate license, and very quickly started making 6 figures. By 33 I was making $250k per year, but couldn’t afford to pay my light bill sometimes. I mismanaged my money because I thought that I suddenly needed to have all of these wants, and over extended myself. I was paying out between $15–20k per month in expenses and was drowning. That year, I filed bankruptcy. A couple of my investment properties.. Gone. The Mercedes gone. I hit credit rock bottom and had to rebuild my life and credit score. I vowed from then on, I would make wise investment decisions, but more importantly, I would share my journey with others to help them avoid the pitfalls that I had gone through. I began making small investments through apps like Acorns and Robinhood. Purchasing stock and saving my money. I went from there to investing in a marijuana dispensary. And of course, real estate, as that is my first love. My goal is to pick up commercial property.
Can you share with our readers the most interesting or amusing story that occured to you in your career so far? Can you share the lesson or take away you took out of that story?
In the beginning of my real estate career, I had no money, drove a Ford Windstar minivan, didn’t have the best clothes, but I had the hustle, drive, and determination to be successful. I HAD TO WIN. I wasn’t going to go back to my corporate job as an IT Analyst for Silicon Valley companies. My Ford Windstar was the worst. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t. Sometimes the door would fly open while I was driving. You didn’t know what would happen from day to day. I met a couple that I was showing homes to, and was extremely nervous because I didn’t know what kind of shenanigans my car would pull that day. Would it stop or stall? Well as I was driving them around, the wife was in the front seat, husband is in the back, I turn the corner and the husbands door flies open. I look in the rear view mirror, and he is trying to hold the door closed. I was absolutely mortified and embarrassed. But I took that as an opportunity to over compensate with my service. Although I lacked in my appearance (car/clothes/etc), I made up for in service. Those clients are still friends to this day and have referred many people over the years.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
I am so fortunate of the trials that I have gone through in my life. From being homeless to bankruptcy and foreclosure, from lack of funds and scarcity in life to a multi-million dollar business. I have taken those hardships and created programs to help others who’ve gone through similar situations, to let them know of the possibilities. I wrote a Best Selling Book “Keeping Score” to help people with credit challenges. Created an online training program to show people how to Build their Credit to Build their wealth. Using leverage to create their wealth portfolio. I have Money Management programs to show people how to Grow their Money and not Blow their Money. I do 1:1 Coaching, and I speak all over the country empowering individuals to change their lives. My latest book The Secret to Breaking the Broke Code tells my story, but help people realize their full God-given potential so they can not only change their lives, but positively affect the lives of others. In a clear, concise step by step fashion
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
I am the CEO of Catalyst Real Estate Professionals. We are the largest African American owned Real Estate firm in California. We are not just transactional, but a transformational agency. We understand the disparity and inequities that have caused the wealth gap to increase among the races. Our goal is to level the playing field and make homeownership a possibility to everyone from all walks of life. We show them what’s possible and give them the tools to make it happen. A lot of our buyers didn’t know that owning a home was an option, and it’s the best feeling in the world to be the catalyst to show them that they can.
Because we are a direct lender, and with my credit programs, we take people from lack to legacy. Showing them not only how to buy their first home, but how to set up their legacy plan through asset protection strategies. And more importantly, we teach them how to help their families do the same. It’s true wealth and legacy creation.
Wall Street and Finance used to be an “all white boys club”. This has changed a lot recently. In your opinion, what caused this change?
I love the internet and social media. But I also think there are a lot of change agents that are educating and advocating for the non traditional investors. I happen to be one of them. The reach is so much greater
You are a “finance insider”. If you had to advise your adult child about 5 non intuitive things one should do to become more financially literate, what would you say? Can you please give a story or example for each.
- Learn credit health at an early age — My daughter has come with me on speaking engagements and really understands credit. At 18 she had an 815 credit score.
- Use your credit as leverage to build wealth — Wealthy people don’t use their own money when making investments. They use other people’s money. You have to have good credit to do so.
- Spend within your means — Don’t be like mom and have more month than money. Keep a reserve, and spend wisely.
- Set financial goals — Set yearly, monthly and quarterly money goals.
- Invest in Stock — 3 years ago, I purchased the Boyce Watkins stock program for my children. Told them all I would give them a $1000 if they committed to investing in stock. My 12 year old son was the only one who did it. He took that $1000 and turned it into $8000 in 3 years.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
I’ve had so many great mentors along the way, from people like Les Brown to Lisa Nichols, to Dr. George Fraser. The biggest influencer for me was my Aunt Rosie Mae Jenkins, who was also my sunday school teacher. She told me at 7 years old that I was equally as important as the President of the United States because God loved us all the same. That was truly a light bulb moment for me. I knew then that I could have, do or be anything I wanted. That no one was more important or deserving, and that I deserved everything this world had to offer. That thought that was placed in my mind at such a young age was so transformational and it was the core to my success. I truly believe that I deserve love, money, health, happiness. And I operate my life and tell others that they deserve the same.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the greatest amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I would love to inspire a movement toward financial independence. I really believe financial independence can not only change the trajectory of our lives but our communities in America. I believe that Donald Trump is the awakening for people to move away from social dependence and move to wealth creation. He is not the first racist president, there have been many before him, he is just not smart enough to cover it up like they have. What I think it’s done is allowed people of color to see what was going on behind the black curtain and to cause an awakening.