Successful actress Issa Rae wasn’t always financially secure. The 37-year-old “Insecure” creator recently revealed that as a college student, she was once plagued by heavy credit card debt — and she used her inheritance left by her aunt to pay it off.
“I think building your credit is important, and that is something that I needed to learn,” she told CNBC’s “Make It,” admitting that as a student at Stanford University she didn’t know much about personal finances. And when she was offered credit, she took it not fully understanding the ramifications of credit card debt.
“I was targeted by credit card companies when I was in college because I was their ideal target. It was like ‘okay, gullible girl over here. She needs money, she’s broke,’” recalled Rae earlier this month.
College Students and Credit Card Debt
Rae is not alone.
A 2019 Sallie Mae survey, “Majoring in Money: How college students and other young adults manage their finances,” found that approximately 30 percent of college students with more than $1,000 in credit card debt owed more than they did the previous month. About 6 percent of the students surveyed carried more than $5,000 in credit card debt.
“I got really, really wrapped up in credit card debt early on and it felt like it weighed on me. It was crippling,” Rae sad.
Paying it Off
Rae chose to use the inheritance left behind by her aunt to pay off her growing credit card debt.
“It was meant to invest in our futures,” Rae shared, “and it broke my heart, but I used that to get myself out of credit card debt.”
The experience made Rae rethink how she approached her finances.
“That really lit a fire in me to never, never go through that again,” she said. “It was an opportunity to start over.”
Lessons Learned and Fortune Built
Today, Rae has an estimated net worth of $8 million and an eight-figure TV deal with WarnerMedia. Her projects have earned her eight Emmy nominations, helping her carve out a successful career in Hollywood as an actress, writer, producer and comedian. Her latest show, “Rap Sh!t,” is following the success of “Insecure.” Rae has also executive produced “Sweet Life: Los Angeles,” “A Black Lady Sketch Show,” and starred in “The Lovebirds,” and “The Photograph,” among other projects.
She’s also paying more attention to her credit card usage.
“I’m intentional about being like ‘I’m only going to use this credit card to pay my light bill, and I’ll put that on auto pay,’ and being able to manage those finances because it’s money that I know I have,” she said. “Don’t spend money that you don’t have.”