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MEDIA CENTER

The Money Minute - June 2012 

In this Issue

 

Vacation?  You Can Afford It!!

With the first day of summer just days away, many families are in full mode planning their vacations. But have you ever considered a "paidcation” or a "staycation”? If you have never heard those terms, they simply mean a vacation that you pay for in cash, "paidcation”, or one that you stay home and plan on doing things around your own city, “staycation”. Apprisen offers advice when you start to plan that much needed time away.

 Read the entire article.

 

Is a secured credit card a good solution for you?

With today’s difficult economy and with life events such as divorce and catastrophic health issues, many people have not been able to keep their finances afloat and as a result their credit scores reflect their struggles. Combine their poor credit history with our economy’s increasing reliance to transact business with plastic cards, those that are struggling with their finances feel like they are really in a tough spot. Just think about how difficult it is to rent a car, buy an airline ticket or simply order music online without having a credit card. Many people are turning to secured credit cards as a solution to their problem.

Read the entire article.

 

We have some exciting news

Apprisen Financial Advocates/CCCS is now simply Apprisen. This announcement also marks an exciting change in our logo and overall brand image. We believe the shortened name and distinct new identity better reflect a constant, cohesive image and promise to our clients. Along with this new look, we’re moving into the future with a focus on continuing to create innovative services that can help people in every stage of their lives meet their financial goals.

If you haven’t already, feel free to take a look at our re-branded website at www.apprisen.com. Over the next several weeks and months, we’ll be rolling out some exciting new services that give our customers a greater level of self-service and better visibility into their accounts.

Welcome to the new Apprisen! www.apprisen.com/welcome

 

Personal credit issues frustrating your small business dreams?

Apprisen wants to help you reach your dreams by giving you the information you need to be successful. Attend the free webinar on Understanding Credit Reports and Scores -- Wednesday, July 18th -- 12:00 Noon, EST

In this free webinar, you will:

  • Better understand credit reports and scores
  • Find out how to access your credit report and score
  • Learn how to dispute and correct information on your credit report
  • Understand the factors that make up your credit score
  • Plan actions to improve your credit score

To register or find out more click here.

 

 MyCoach Program: Financial Coaching from Apprisen

Do you want to get your personal finances on track and develop the skills to keep them there? With Apprisen’s MyCoach our certified counselors will help you every step of the way as you set goals, develop a personal plan and improve your finances.

There is no cost to this program. Anyone can participate, but we encourage residents to apply from the following areas: Columbus, OH, Indianapolis, IN, Seattle, WA and Greater Kansas City, MO.

To find out more and to apply for the program click here.

 

Do you know a recent graduate that is looking for a career providing financial counseling?

Apprisen has openings for financial counselors in Toledo OH, Portland OR, and Redmond WA.

Apprisen is a non-profit organization that helps people improve their financial well-being through counseling, community outreach and financial education.

To find out more about our employment opportunities click here.

 

Did Your Parents Influence How You Handle Your Finances?

Recently, the National Foundation of Credit Counseling (NFCC) conducted a Financial Literacy Survey where forty-four percent of Americans indicated they learned the most about personal finance from their parents or at home. By contrast, consider that only ten percent said they learned their financial skills at school.

In spite of the home being the primary teaching ground, many have never stopped to connect the dots between their financial habits and their parent's. Confirming this concept is Apprisen’s May online poll in which thirty-six percent of respondents admitted that as an adult they have never compared their financial habits to their parent's, suggesting that they are unaware of the potential impact their parent's actions might have had on their current financial behavior.

 Read the entire article.

 

Vacation? You Can Afford It!!

With the first day of summer just days away, many families are in full mode planning their vacations. But have you ever considered a” paidcation” or a” staycation”? If you have never heard those terms, they simply mean a vacation that you pay for in cash,” paidcation”, or one that you stay home and plan on doing things around your own city, “staycation”. Apprisen offers this advice when you start to plan that much needed time away.

Hopefully, you have been saving all year and can pay cash for all the expenses you will incur during your vacation. With average credit card rates nearing 17%, the additional amount of money you will be paying in interest on your credit card balances could increase the true cost of your vacation hundreds of dollars. Is that wise? Instead, adjust your expectations to match your budget. If you have your heart set on going to a beach in Mexico but only enough money saved for a beach closer to your home that might be the better option. But if that Mexican beach is really where you want to go, it might be wise to delay your trip. You can continue saving your money, thus not adding to your credit card debt, and take advantage of off peak pricing that many resorts offer. A "paidcation” - a vacation that is thoughtfully planned according to how much money you have saved for it. Sounds like a smart idea, huh?

If going on a vacation out of town is too much for your budget, you might consider a”staycation”. Become a tourist in your own city or venture out an hour or two out of town to explore new experiences. Think about if you had visitors coming to stay with you, where would you take them? Many of us have historical or cultural venues in our area, but never take the time to visit. Maybe you don’t know about them. Search your city’s visitors and tourism website. They will offer information on places to go, and possibly coupons, for outings in your area. Try a new type of food. If you’ve never had Thai food, go to the library and look at pictures of the country. Learn about their history, and then go try the food. You might not be in Thailand, but you can experience some of its culture. Lastly, make sure you take pictures of your “staycation”. It will make it seem like a real vacation and you will enjoy the memories for years to come.

Knowing how much money you have to spend on your vacation is key in preventing additional debt. Choosing to a take a “paidcation” or a “staycation” could be a viable option. With a little research and imagination these types of vacations don’t have to be boring or cost a lot of money.

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Is a secured credit card a good solution for you?

With today’s difficult economy and with life events such as divorce and catastrophic health issues, many people have not been able to keep their finances afloat and as a result their credit scores reflect their struggles. Combine their poor credit history with our economy’s increasing reliance to transact business with plastic cards, those that are struggling with their finances feel like they are really in a tough spot. Just think about how difficult it is to rent a car, buy an airline ticket or simply order music online without having a credit card. Many people are turning to secured credit cards as a solution to their problem.

Secured credit cards, also referred to as prepaid credit cards can be a real benefit to those with poor credit history. The card gives them the ease of use of a plastic card while offering them the ability to rebuild their credit score. The downside is that many prepaid credit cards charge high fees and interest rates. In addition, not all prepaid credit cards will rebuild your credit score.

What is a secured credit card?

A prepaid or secured credit card is one in which the user must provide a security deposit prior to use. The credit limit on the card is typically equal to the amount of the deposit that was made. For example, if you opened a prepaid credit card account by depositing $500, you would have a credit limit of $500 dollars.

What should you look for when looking for a secured credit card?

Secured credit cards vary widely from one issuer to another. Here are some of the things you should ask:

  • What are the application fees? The lower the fee, the better the deal for you.
  • What is the interest rate charged on balances carried from month to month? In reality, you don’t want to carry a balance from month to month. However, you should look for lower interest rates, just in case.
  • Are there monthly or annual fees? If so, look for low fees.
  • What interest is being provided on your security deposit? The interest they offer you on your security deposit should be equivalent to the interest you would receive on a savings account.
  • Which credit bureaus does the issuer report to? Look for an issuer that reports your credit activity to all three major credit bureaus.
  • Do you have to buy an insurance policy or other services? Avoid applying for secured credit cards that try to bundle the card with other services that you don’t want.
  • How long until I can convert to an unsecured credit card? Ask how many months of good payment history are required before you can obtain an unsecured credit card.
  • Is the account reported as a secured account? If the issuer reports the credit card as being secured, it will have little to no impact on your credit score. You want to improve your credit score, so look for a card that is not reported to the credit bureaus as a secured card.

How should you use a secured credit card?

You can use a secured credit card just like any other plastic card, online, with a PIN or with a signature. However, you should always pay off the balance in full every month. Do not carry over a balance from one month to another. Instead, get in the habit of making small purchases and pay them off each month. This will show that you can handle the credit responsibly. The key to improving your credit score will be in the way you make your payments. Pay them on time and in full and you will see your credit score increase. If you don’t make timely payments or if you only make partial payments, you will not improve your credit score and may actually cause more harm.

What is the bottom line?

Think of a secured credit card as a temporary solution. Because of their very nature, you are being charged higher fees and interest rates than unsecured cards. In the end, a prepaid credit card will only improve your credit history if you use it responsibly. Properly using a prepaid credit card shows that you can handle an unsecured card. With your good payment history established, you will want to move on to an unsecured card as quickly as possible. Also, remember that all cards are not created equal, so shop around and find the best deal that you can.

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Did Your Parents Influence How You Handle Your Finances?

Recently, the National Foundation of Credit Counseling (NFCC) conducted a Financial Literacy Survey where forty-four percent of Americans indicated they learned the most about personal finance from their parents or at home. By contrast, consider that only ten percent said they learned their financial skills at school.

In spite of the home being the primary teaching ground, many have never stopped to connect the dots between their financial habits and their parent's. Confirming this concept is Apprisen’s May online poll in which thirty-six percent of respondents admitted that as an adult they have never compared their financial habits to their parent's, suggesting that they are unaware of the potential impact their parent's actions might have had on their current financial behavior.

Of those who had contrasted their adult financial behavior against their parent's, fifteen percent chose to embrace financial habits that were exactly opposite of their parent's, while nine percent admitted their habits were very similar. Not surprisingly, thirty-seven percent indicated their financial style was a blend of how their parents handled money and their own attitudes.

Whether parents are astute money managers or woefully lacking in financial skills, their behavior influences what the children are learning, and likely impacting how they will handle their own finances as adults. Understanding this dynamic should serve as an incentive for adults to improve their own grasp of personal finance, because like it or not, their actions in this area will speak loudly.

In addition to demonstrating responsible money choices through their behavior, parents should make a conscious effort to impart age-appropriate financial skills to their children. Summer provides an ideal time to focus on the finances with the children and increase awareness around different aspects of financial management.

Although conversations about money can begin with children of pre-school age, the Apprisen provides the following 10 questions as ways to start a discussion with teenagers about money and create a teachable moment:

  • Do you think children should be paid to do household chores? 
  • Could you live on the current federal minimum wage in America of $7.25 per hour?
  • If not, how could you convince your boss that your skill set is worth more than the minimum?
  • How many hours are you willing to work to pay for that new pair of tennis shoes you want?
  • How is a checking account different from a debit card?
  • Why do credit card issuers charge customers different interest rates?
  • If not compact disc, what do the initials CD stand for? 
  • Could you save a dollar each day from now until Christmas? 
  • If you received $100 for your birthday, what would you do with the money?
  • What's the difference between collision and liability car insurance?

By improving their own financial skills, parents can make a positive impact on their children's financial futures, truly a gift that can last a lifetime.

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