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MEDIA CENTER

The Money Minute - February 2012 

In this Issue

 

Money Is a Big Deal in Relationships

During the month of January, Apprisen asked their online visitors how important the role of money plays in their relationships. A whopping thirty-four percent replied that money was their biggest issue while forty-one percent said it was a big issue. Add that up and you have seventy-five percent of relationships struggling with money.

Read the entire article.

 

How Does Money Affect Your Relationships?

February is the perfect time to highlight the relationships in our lives and how we relate to money within those relationships. There are the relationships that we have with our partner, our kids, and our aging parents. Money is a topic that is oftentimes difficult to address, but is necessary in order to create strong interactions with our loved ones so that financial goals are being met. 

Read the entire article.

 

America Saves Week: February 19-26, 2012

Apprisen is proud to partner with America Saves to promote America Saves Week.  Started in 2007, the Week is an annual opportunity to promote good savings behaviour and a chance for individuals to assess their own saving status.

To find out more about America Saves Week click here

 

ReStart

A bankruptcy is a terrible event for any consumer to experience and Apprisen Financial Advocates is working to assist Americans get through the process. Apprisen is pleased to announce the launch of its new online bankruptcy counseling service called ReStart.

Read the entire article.

 

Spanish Website

As part of the expansion of its Spanish language services, Apprisen Financial Advocates is pleased to announce the launch of its Spanish website located at www.apprisen.com/espanol. Apprisen has long provided personal Financial Services and education services to both English and Spanish speaking clients. However, Apprisen recognized the need to better serve the Spanish speaking market in the U.S.

Read the entire article.

 

Money Is a Big Deal in Relationships

During the month of January, Apprisen asked their online visitors how important the role of money plays in their relationships. A whopping thirty-four percent replied it was their biggest issue while forty-one percent said it was a big issue. Add that up and you have seventy-five percent of relationships struggling with money. “It is no surprise that money plays a major role in our families” states Jana Root, spokesperson for Apprisen. “If you consider payments to mortgages, student loans and credit cards, and then add on everyday living expenses, it is a challenge to make ends meet”. While eighteen percent of respondents indicated that money is of average importance and seven percent of no importance, money management is a vital component of any household. Along with the National Foundation of Financial Services, Apprisen suggests putting the following actions in place which will provide your family with a better sense of financial stability.

  • Get financially organized. This sends a calming signal to your loved one that you’re on top of things. And, since it’s tax season, this is the perfect time to shred what you don’t need and file what you do.
  • Be realistic about the financial situation you’re in. If you’ve lost your job, it’s irresponsible to continue spending as you did when employed. Learn to live within your means, and don’t finance your lifestyle through credit.
  • Track your spending. When every penny counts, it’s important to count every penny. Doing so will send the signal that you have control over your money, something that mindless spending will never accomplish.
  • Create a personal cash-flow chart. Using a standard calendar, list all paydays and the anticipated amount of the paycheck. Next, list which bills are to be paid out of each check. This eliminates the last-minute scrambling to meet payment due dates and avoids costly overlimit and overdraft fees.
  • Find a way to save money. A financial safety net in the form of a savings account is a calming factor when unexpected expenses occur. It’s a comfort to know you’re prepared. Start by having 10% of each check deposited into a savings account and vow to not touch it except for true emergencies.
  • Bank any bonuses or windfall money. You won’t miss what you never had. Use this money to start or bulk up your savings account.
  • Review the withholding allowances from your paycheck. In recent years, millions of people have received an income tax refund of over $2,000. Often, these are the very same people who struggle to make ends meet each month and could have used an extra $200 in their paycheck. Go to www.irs.gov and type in the words “withholding calculator’ into the search box. In a matter of minutes you’ll see the appropriate number of withholding allowances for your situation. Then, adjust your W4 accordingly.
  • If you get an income tax refund, use it wisely. Catch up on any past due bills, make needed repairs to the house or car, put 10% into your savings account, and then splurge on something special for your family that is under $100.

Make the Most of Your Money 

  • Ditch your credit card if it has an annual fee attached, but first, make sure you are eligible for new credit. Issuers have tightened their lending standards, and you don’t want to be left without access to any credit.
  • Don’t use an ATM if it charges you a fee.
  • Bank where free checking is offered.
  • Put your money where it earns the most by finding the best rates available for savings and CDs. You can compare rates at www.creditcards.com and www.bankrate.com.
  • Buy generic groceries which are estimated to be 27% cheaper than their name-brand counterparts, and are often made by the same company.
  • Get back to the basics and start cutting coupons.
  • Utilize any savings plans at work. If your company offers a Flexible Spending Account (FSA), but you’ve never bothered to investigate it, now’s the time. Taking advantage of the savings allowed by earmarking expenses to be paid through an FSA can result in real savings.
  • Consider cutting back on contributions to your retirement plan at work. When you’re trying to find extra money, this is a much better option than dipping into your actual retirement account. Just remember to play catch-up when your finances turn the corner.
  • Make sure you’ve taken advantage of every tax credit and/or deduction available to you.

If you need help in putting your financial life in order, reach out to a trained and certified credit counselor. To schedule your free consultation you can visit our website, www.apprisen.com or call for an appointment 800.355.2227. 

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HOW DOES MONEY AFFECT YOUR RELATIONSHIPS?

February is the perfect time to highlight the relationships in our lives and how we relate to money within those relationships. There are the relationships that we have with our partner, our kids, and our aging parents. Money is a topic that is oftentimes difficult to address, but is necessary in order to create strong interactions with our loved ones so that financial goals are being met. 

 

The Money Talk with Your Partner

Money problems are the leading cause for divorce. In many instances, partners have different money personalities and their spending and saving habits contradict each other. Each partner needs to make an honest assessment about their relationship with money and discuss financial expectations. Then create a compromise that both of you can live with. With that being done, the following are some steps you can take so that money isn’t an issue in your relationship.

1. Establish short-term and long-term financial goals.  Do you want to own a house? Is saving for your children’s education a priority? Do you want to save for vacation next year? Once these goals are in place, you are in a good position to start saving for them and closer to your dreams becoming a reality.

2. Create a budget. Every dollar that comes into your household should be accounted for. Make sure you are taking into account, not only your monthly bills, but also expenses that don’t happen every month. Some examles include; car repairs, school supplies, and gifts. The money for these types of expenses can be set aside in another account to use when those expenses come up. Make sure you are both in agreement with where the money is being spent. Again, compromise may be needed in order to reach your financial goals.

3. Live within your means. This may sound obvious, but sometimes it is difficult to achieve when you see others going out to dinner and on vacations, and you want to as well. Food and entertainment are two things that we tend to spend more money on than what we think. Within your budget, give yourself an allowance for these extras and then stick with it!

4. Save. Make it a priority to save something every week.  But be realistic in your saving goals.  If you can only save $10 this week, that is more than you had last week, and after a year you will have $500. Think of it this way, start small but dream big.  Motivate yourself to find additional money to put away for a rainy day or to achieve your financial goals.

5. Don’t give up. Many people go into following a budget with an all or nothing attitude. Think of this as processes that even if you mess up, don’t give up. Have regular discussions with your partner to see where you are at, the challenges or successes that you have had and what you need to do in the future to get you where you want to be in your financial life.  

 

The Money Talk with Your Kids

We all want the best for our children. We want them to have good values and an education that will help them become successful. And, of course, part of that education includes learning how to manage money. Apprisen has offered these tips in the past to help with teaching your kids about money, but thought it was a good time for a review.

Pre-school
Young children love to put things into other things. Get them a piggybank and let them handle different types of coins. At first, identify each coin by name before putting it in the bank, and as they get older, you can teach them, for example, how 5 pennies equal one nickel.

Elementary School
Once children enter school, they have a general understanding that things cost money and sometimes there isn’t enough money for everything they want. Have discussions about setting goals and saving for them. Open a savings account and let  children go to the bank and make their own deposits. When the statement comes, review it together and talk about how their money is earning interest. Another idea is to allow children to make choices with the money that they have to spend.  For example, when you go to the grocery store, give children $5 that they can spend however they please. That way you are not always telling them “no”, but they can choose what they want. One of two things will happen. They will have fun knowing that they can pick out what they want, or they will realize that this is their money and they don’t want to spend it.

Teens
Continue giving your children the opportunities to make decisions about how to spend their money. Clothes, school supplies, and personal care are a few things that you would normally purchase for them. Giving them a budget for these items, and allowing them to make choices on what they will buy, will help prioritize their purchases. This is also a time to develop their entrepreneurial skills to allow them to earn extra income. The adventure of starting a small business is a great financial lesson for kids. They learn how to set and achieve goals, understand profit and loss and get rewarded for hard work. Make sure you, as the parent, are there to support them, but allow them the opportunity to experience the good and the bad of their financial decisions. 

 

The Money Talk with Your Parents

This is probably the hardest money talk to have.  We look to our parents as our caregivers, and as they get older and that role changes, to broach subjects, especially about money, can be very difficult. This is a discussion that needs to happen sooner rather than later. You don’t want to find yourself in a middle of a crisis and not have the answers you need in order to make well informed decisions. Approach the topic in a non-threatening way explaining that you want to make sure that they are taken care of and their wishes are respected. If desired, a financial planner or attorney can be present to help facilitate the discussion.  If you still are not comfortable in bringing up the topic, put your thoughts in a letter and invite them to contact you when they are ready.

1. Do they have a will.  Having a last will and testament prepared is a crucial step. Not only does it ensure that assets are divided as intended, but it can also minimize conflicts among family members

2. Know where their assets are. Even if they don’t share this information with you directly, make sure to stress the importance of having this information written down and stored in a safe place.  Be sure that banking, credit cards, life insurance benefits, real estate holdings and financial assets are included with names, account numbers and contact information for each.

3. Take care of the big three. The most important information you need to gather from your conversation with your parents is whether or not they have the following documents that will allow you or someone else they trust to manage their health and financial needs if they become ill or incapacitated.

  • A living will tells a doctor or hospital whether or not your parents want life support.
  • A health care proxy is a document that gives you or another individual the power to make health care decisions on your parents' behalf.
  • A durable power of attorney for finances gives you or someone else the power to make financial decisions on your parents' behalf.

 If your parents have already taken care of these documents, make sure you know where they are and what they say so you can refer to them easily in an emergency.

4.  What kind of insurance do they have.  You'll want to make sure that your elderly family member has medical coverage. A policy from a private insurance provider or through the government-sponsored Medicare program should cover a large portion of the medical expenses and prescription drug costs incurred by people over the age of 65.  You’ll also want to ask about any long term coverage that they may have.

None of us knows what life has in store. This is a conversation that you should be having with your parents but is it also a conversation you should initiate with your adult children?  

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ReStart 

A bankruptcy is a terrible event for any consumer to experience and Apprisen Financial Advocates is working to assist Americans get through the process. Apprisen is pleased to announce the launch of its new online bankruptcy counseling service called ReStart. Designed to fulfill the legal requirements for pre-filing bankruptcy counseling while also giving the participant the valuable education and guidance they need, ReStart bankruptcy counseling is designed to be completed entirely online.

Apprisen clients can log in any time between 8:00 AM Monday morning and 8:00 PM Saturday evening. From the privacy of their own homes, the ReStart client can finish the entire counseling  program in a single session or save their progress and complete the material later. Each counseling session combines a self-paced learning experience with online counseling with a certified counselor.

Launched February 15th, ReStart pre-filing bankruptcy counseling is approved by the Executive Office for U.S. Trustees (EOUST).

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Spanish Website

As part of the expansion of its Spanish language services, Apprisen Financial Advocates is pleased to announce the launch of its Spanish website located at www.apprisen.com/espanol. Apprisen has long provided personal Financial Services and education services to both English and Spanish speaking clients. However, Apprisen recognized the need to better serve the Spanish speaking market in the U.S.. The creation of the improved and expanded Spanish website represents the first step in a comprehensive program to bring a wider and deeper set of educational and counseling opportunities to the Spanish speaking market here in the U.S..
 
“The Spanish speaking consumer has never been given the same resources to gain control over their personal finances as their English speaking counterparts. Apprisen is stepping up and ensuring that everybody has the same opportunities to succeed” says Kathy Virgallito, Apprisen Financial Advocates’ Regional Director of Partnerships.

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