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The Money Minute - September 2012  

In this Issue

 

 

Planning Ahead for the Holidays

No, it can’t be! Are there really only 14 Fridays left before the holiday season? How many paydays is that for you? That’s right folks. Pretty soon you will be seeing the holiday displays going up in the retail stores and will be lamenting that it is too soon. But it is not too soon to be thinking about how you are going to handle the upcoming expenses associated with this time of year.  

 

Read the entire article.

 

You CAN Manage Your Debt

Debt - A four letter word that causes so much anxiety for so many people. According to the latest report from the Federal Reserve’s Survey of Consumer Finances,(December 2011), the average American household that carries a balance on at least one credit card has nearly $15,950 in credit card debt.  That is not taking into account other debts – car, personal or student loans! While your debt load may not be that high, whatever your total is could be causing you many sleepless nights. But there is a way you can manage your debt load. Apprisen offers advice to help you get back on track.

 

Read the entire article.

 

How can you protect yourself and your children from ID theft?

ID thieves make a living at stealing information. That's why Apprisen wants you to learn invaluable tips to protect you and your child's identity by offering our free webinar on ID Theft Prevention.

The dates for the webinar are:

Tuesday, October 23rd --- 12:00pm EST.

Tuesday, October 23rd --- 12:00pm PST.

Wednesday, October 24th --- 12:00 CST.

To register or to find out more click here.

 

To Buy or not to Buy College Text Books

First time college students quickly learn that marching down to the campus bookstore and laying down $200 for a new textbook is not one of the joys in life. Unfortunately you need the book for class and, until recently, buying the book on campus was pretty much the only option available to you. Now, you have options that were not available ten years ago. In this article, we’ll review some of the pros and cons of renting, buying, and downloading textbooks.

To read the entire article click here.

 

Five Tips For Getting and Staying on Track with Your Money

Many consumers feel that the economy is stabilizing and that the time is right to get their own personal finances back on track as well. Knowing where to start can be confusing. People feel there are so many aspects to managing money that they can become bit anxious about understanding clearly what to do first. The good news is that there are steps that consumers can take to get things started in the right direction. Apprisen offers 5 tips to get and stay on track financially.

 
 Read the entire article.

 

 

Planning Ahead for the Holidays

No, it can’t be! Are there really only 14 Fridays left before the holiday season? How many paydays is that for you? That’s right folks. Pretty soon you will be seeing the holiday displays going up in the retail stores and will be lamenting that it is too soon. But it is not too soon to be thinking about how you are going to handle the upcoming expenses associated with this time of year. 

Based on the spending habits for last year, consumers spent an average of $770 per family for holiday expenses from October through December. According to the National Association for Retailers, approximately $75 was spent for costumes and candy for Halloween, $45 in additional food expenses for Thanksgiving and $650 during the holiday season. Is your pocketbook ready? Apprisen offers this advice to help you prepare for these upcoming expenses:

  • It’s not too early to establish a holiday spending strategy. Determine how much you can afford to spend. To get a realistic amount, look back on what you spent last year. Was your budget able to support what you purchased or did you overspend and have to put some items on credit? This year, make it a goal to refrain from overusing credit to subsidize your expenses. 

  • Establish a budget. After you know how much you can afford to spend, determine what segments of the holidays are important to you and designate your money towards those areas. This will make it easier to cut back on the less important elements. Then decide how much are you going to allot for the different expenses - costumes, food, gifts, and decorations? Assign a dollar amount to each of these spending categories. Keep track of your spending in these areas. If you see that you are going over your budget, you can take some funds out of a different expense to cover the amount.

  • Cut back on some of your everyday spending. You have already determined how much you are going to need to cover your expenses for the upcoming holidays. It is now time to figure out where you are going to get the extra cash. Examine where you are spending your money today. Are you eating out? What are you doing for entertainment? Forgo some of these activities and take the money that you would have been spending and put it in your holiday spending account. It is important that you have a special account, or even a holiday savings jar, so that this money is separated from your regular account and is used solely for holiday purchases.

  • Use coupons. Coupons are a great way to save money. When you go shopping you can take the amount that you saved from using those coupons and put that in your holiday savings account.

  • Shop early. It’s never too early to start buying the items that you are going to need. Look for the sales. But be careful, you might forget what you bought when the holiday finally comes around. Keep an itemized list of what you bought so you can refer back to it when needed.

Make it a goal to reduce your stress this holiday season. Have a plan to know how much you are going to spend and start saving now. You will be happy you did come January!

 

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You CAN Manage Your Debt 

Debt - A four letter word that causes so much anxiety for so many people. According to the latest report from the Federal Reserve’s Survey of Consumer Finances,(December 2011), the average American household that carries a balance on at least one credit card has nearly $15,950 in credit card debt.  That is not taking into account other debts – car, personal or student loans! While your debt load may not be that high, whatever your total is could be causing you many sleepless nights.  But there is a way you can manage your debt load.  Apprisen offers this advice to help you get back on track:

Put it on paper.  Get your head out of the sand.  Make a list of everybody you owe money to.  Getting it on paper will give you an accurate picture of your financial situation and provide the motivation to create a plan to start paying your creditors off.

Track your expenses. You probably don’t realize how much you are spending on a weekly basis on things like food and entertainment.  By cutting cost in these areas you could generate extra cash to apply to your debt payments.

Prioritize your expenses. Take a realistic look at your monthly bills and determine what you HAVE to pay and what you can give up, (or cut back on), to apply to your creditor payments. For example, do you need all of your cable services or all the bells and whistles on your cell phone plan?  

Create a power payment plan. Now that you have freed up some extra cash in your spending plan you can apply that to your creditor payments.  Create a chart listing the creditor, balance, current minimum payment, interest rate and power payment.  If your interest rates are high on your retail accounts, you might be able to call your creditor and have them reduce your interest rate which will allow you to pay them off faster.

 

Creditor Balance Payment Interest Rate  Power Payment
Dept Store  $500  $10  2.9%  $50
Discover  $950  $19  9.5%  $19 
Car Loan  $5,500  $150  6.99%  $150 
Total  $6,950  $179    $219 

 

One strategy in the power payment plan is to apply all extra cash to the creditor with lowest balance.  When that creditor is paid off, you take that amount and apply it to the creditor with the next lowest balance.  In this method, you get the satisfaction of seeing accounts being paid off.  Another strategy would be to pay the extra on the accounts with the highest interest rate.  Either way, you have a system in place to get your debts paid within a shorter period of time than if you were just making minimum payments.

Get motivated. Thanks to the Credit Card Reform Act, you can see the effects of paying more than your minimum payments on your accounts.  Creditors are now required to list on their statements how much you will be saving in time and interest if you made more than the minimum payments on your balance.  Seeing this in writing could give you the motivation you need to know that by adding a few extra dollars to your payments each month how much you could save. 

 You don’t have to do this alone.  If your debt is too overwhelming, or you don’t know where to begin, Apprisen is here to help.  You can speak with one of our certified counselors who will review your financial situation and offer you an action plan that is specific to your needs.  There is no cost to you for this consultation. 

      

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Five Tips for Getting and Staying on Track with Your Money

Many consumers feel that the economy is stabilizing and that the time is right to get their own personal finances back on track as well.  Knowing where to start can be confusing. People feel there are so many aspects to managing money that they can become bit anxious about understanding clearly what to do first. The good news is that there are steps that consumers can take to get things started in the right direction. Apprisen offers these 5 tips for getting and staying on track financially:
 
1. Consider the Big Picture - Take a comprehensive approach to making changes in your finances.  Apprisen has identified seven core elements of successful money management. If you use these as your guide, you’ll be covering most of the bases. We think they work best when they work together.

  • Develop a Strong Money Management Plan
  • Manage Debt
  • Build Savings   
  • Maintain Strong Banking Relationships
  • Use Credit Wisely    
  • Be a Savvy Consumer
  • Understand Credit Reports and Scores

2. Give Yourself Credit For What You Know – Guess what? You are probably doing many things right! Build your financial confidence by acknowledging your money management bright spots. Consider each area and create an “already doing that” list. This whittles down the work to be done.

3. Set Measurable Goals to Make Changes – Be specific about what you want to accomplish and create a time line.  Here’s an example for increasing savings, one of the most popular financial goals. Identify a realistic amount you want to save by a particular date. “I want to create a $500 rainy day fund by October 1st of next year.” From that, you’ll be able to determine how much per pay you will need to reach that goal.

4. Find Yourself a “Money Buddy” – Don’t go it alone! Look for a friend with similar goals and work together to keep motivated. Meet regularly to share ideas, challenges and success stories. Need more than friendship to help? Apprisen offers free financial sessions to help you get organized and create an action plan for change.

5. Utilize the Latest Tools –There are good financial websites that offer online resources for everything from budgeting to expense tracking to loan payoff schedules. You’ll find helpful worksheets and calculators in the Tools section of Apprisen’s website, too. Many financial institutions have websites and apps that help you organize your accounts, schedule online bill pay, and offer other interactive resources that help you manage your money quickly and effectively.

Taken together, these tips can help you create a strong base for moving forward financially. Ready to get started? Complete our mini self-assessment for each of the seven areas, please click here to download the PDF. Additional information on each area can be found in the Quick Tips section.

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