Monthly Archives: February 2014

It’s America Saves Week!

America Saves Week February 24-March 1, 2014
America Saves week
(February 24-March 1, 2014) is an annual event promoting good savings behavior and a chance for individuals to assess their own saving status.

Although the week focuses on saving, it’s a good reminder for you to take a long hard look at your financial plan (or lack of) and determine a game plan for you or your family.

According to a recent survey by America Saves, most Americans still face savings challenges. Only 35 percent of respondents were making “good” or ‘excellent” progress in their savings goals. That means two in three adults are making no progress or “fair” progress in their savings needs. Come on people…we need to switch those around!

Saving money is essential for your financial health. You can’t pay down debt if you don’t have any money left over at the end of the month. You can’t build up a solid cushion of money if you are constantly trying to manage your bills. It’s  like the hamster in the little hamster wheel…spinning around but not going anywhere.

Start with this post: 54 Ways to Save Money. Surely you can find something you can do…there’s more than 50 tips!

Here’s two of our favorites:

  • Reduce credit card debt by $1,000. That $1,000 debt reduction will probably save you $150-200 a year, and much more if you’re paying penalty rates of 20-30%. (Read more about credit card debt and the amount of money people throw away on interest fees)
  • Take the amount the item costs and divide it into your hourly wage. If it’s a $50 pair of shoes and you make $10 an hour, ask yourself, are those shoes really worth five long hours of work? It helps keep things in perspective. Maybe retail stores should start putting that information on price tags?

Credit unions are another good place to start. Many have financial counselors at your beck and call, who can put you in the driver’s seat of a good financial plan, and definitely not one that will have you running in circles. Credit unions focus on financial literacy and people, not making money. As not-for-profit organizations, any profit they make goes back to the people who use the credit union. Here is more information about credit unions.

In the meantime, stay tuned because we’ll be unveiling our participants next week.

How Your Tax Refund Can Help Your Financial Goals

Average tax refund last year: $2,700Nobody likes taxes. Have you seen the new commercial for tax software or tax preparers? They make it sound all fun and easy…like some kind of party: ”You did so much crazy, awesome stuff. So, we’re pretty sure you can answer questions about those things and file your taxes on your own.” Another claims: “Get Your Billion Back!”

Well, for one thing, you won’t get a billion dollars back, and did you really do some crazy, awesome stuff?

Maybe you used to…and are thankful every day that phones with cameras and social media did not exist back then…but last year? Not so much.

Worrying about taxes is an adult thing, and definitely not a party. Taxes are that dreadful thing that rears its ugly head. Every. Single. Year.

Some people can’t wait to get that tax refund. In fact, many count on it. According to a Fidelity survey, most Americans (75% of you) will get a refund…to the tune of $2,700 (See? Definitely not a billion dollars).

The good news is that most people say they will save or pay down debt with their tax refund.

Wait…save it? Pay off some debt? Psshhh…that’s not fun at all. Sounds like something Sandra Dee would do.

In fact, 33% said they intend to pay off debts and 46% plan to use the money for some kind of savings (retirement, college, etc). Such a responsible bunch…you know the type…Teacher’s pet. Goody-two shoes. Responsible citizen.

Yes, people want to be responsible financially…no one wants to be debt. These statistics are the light at the end of the tunnel. Individuals and families want control of their financial situation. They want financial health.

Start the ball rolling with your tax refund. According to creditcard.com, the average credit card debt per U.S. adult is $4,878. With your $2,700, you could cut away good chunk of that debt…and be on your way to that billion dollars…all on your own.

Money Possible Participant Sneak Peek

Last week we posted pictures from our first video and photo shoot.Your-photo-here-for-blog-post

Here’s a sneak peek profile of each (we’ll reveal their headshots later):

  • Single mom of three, 50-ish, administrative worker who rents a home.
  • Married couple with three children, 40-ish, owns their home.
  • Married mom in her 30s with two young children, works in education, renting a home.

Here is some insight into why they applied to be a Money Possible participant:

“I need to stop spending and buying. If it’s on sale, I know someone who can use it.”
We’ve all fallen victim to the merciless “sale” tactics or “I have a coupon” mentality. Stick to a list to deter impulse buying.

“I’ve tried other programs, but without talking to someone regularly, I have not stayed on track to save for retirement.”
Ah, this one is accountability. Telling someone (and it can even be your friend or neighbor) your goals and struggles can be just the thing you need to stay on track.

“I need to save so I don’t have to turn to payday loans…if I have it, I spend it, down to the cent.”
Is your cash burning a hole in your pocket? Gone shopping “just to see” if you need anything? Saving money is hard, and takes dedication and self-control. Set up an automatic transfer so you don’t “see” how much is being taken out of your account, or give it to a trusted friend for safe keeping.

Do these scenarios sound familiar? They should. Money management is at the top of  “things I need to do” for the majority of Americans. And it’s not something that can be delegated to the “honey-do” list.

Remember, you’ll be able to follow our participants by watching weekly television segments on KAKE-TV…we’ll post the television schedule soon.

Behind the Scenes of Money Possible

It’s always fun to go “behind the scenes” … kinda makes you feel like you have a backstage pass at a Justin Timberlake concert.

We begged asked our Money Possible participants to meet for a quick (and by quick we mean three hours) video and photo shoot/financial literacy class/get to know you session on an icy Saturday. They were all kind enough to show up, and what’s even better, they were early!

What a fantastic group of participants. They did everything we asked…even with lights and a camera in their face.

The interview.
Lights, camera....Money Possible interview

We thought this was cool. It’s a jar of cut up credit cards.
Destroy debt: cut up credit card jar

Group session.
Group session

Needs vs. wants.
Consumer Credit Counseling Service session: needs vs wants

Scary Statistic: “We have more payday loan locations than McDonald’s Wendy’s and Burger King combined.”
Scary Statistic: We have more payday loan locations than McDonald's Wendy's and Burger King combined.

Stay tuned, we’ll reveal a little bit more about our participants next time.