Archive for February 2011

Financial Beginnings Continues Strong Growth; Plans to Introduce Educator Training Curriculum in 2011

PORTLAND, Ore., February 28, 2011Financial Beginnings, a Portland-based nonprofit that provides financial education at no cost to children and young adults throughout the Pacific Northwest, recently announced that it reached over 9,000 students in 2010—teaching them the basics of banking, budgeting, the power of credit, and sound investing. This is a 1000% increase in students from when the nonprofit began in 2005. Financial Beginnings also delivered education programs to over 80 schools in Oregon and Washington in 2010.

Over the past year, Financial Beginnings, along with its curriculum committee, continually worked to refine and supplement its core curriculum in order to ensure that programs included the latest credit and consumer legislation, as well as evolving best-practices. As a result, the committee added a fifth subject to its curriculum for 2011, entrepreneurship, which will teach students about business ownership and management.

Throughout 2010, Financial Beginnings also worked to formalize many of the partnerships that allow them to expand reach and maximize resources. Through collaboration with Operation HOPE, Financial Beginnings will now provide high school and young adult education while Operation HOPE serves elementary and middle schools students.

Additionally, Financial Beginnings worked to develop a comprehensive financial literacy program for Mayor Sam Adams’ Youth Connect summer program for at-risk youth, and partnered with the State Treasurer’s office and the Oregon College Savings Plan to offer the Reading is an Investment program.

In the spring of 2011, Financial Beginnings will officially launch its Teacher Training program. The first of its kind in the Northwest, the program is in direct response to the growing demand from schools for Financial Beginnings’ programs. The curriculum will provide teachers with the information and resources to teach financial literacy in the classroom as either a formal program or as short lesson that could be integrated into existing math, economics or social studies curriculum.

About Financial Beginnings
Formed in 2005 and based in Portland, OR, Financial Beginnings is a nonprofit organization that provides multi-session courses, free of charge, to students and young adults throughout the Pacific Northwest through visits to their individual schools or community groups. The courses incorporate all aspects of personal finance to provide individuals the foundation needed to make informed financial decisions. More information is available at

The New TV Option

As part of the moving process I had to switch over my TV service. Though our family does not spend a huge amount of time watching TV, we really do love the shows we record to our DVR. We have had satellite for almost 10 years so it was automatic for me to call and proceeded with switching my service to the new house. When the installer came to the home within minutes he was able to let us know that the beautiful trees that surround our house would keep us from getting satellite. So now what?

Like most areas we are very limited on our options here in Portland. There are two satellite and one cable companies. This made us reevaluate our television needs. What did we really need and how much did we need to spend for it?

Local channels
Seldom do we watch live TV. We have all of our favorite shows recorded on our DVR and then watch them days or sometimes even months later. The only time we watch live TV is in bed in the morning and evening when we watch the news, for sporting events (though we only watch the big games since we are not huge sports fans) and on Sunday mornings when we are reading the paper and watching the home and cooking shows.

Most of our live TV watching could be solved by purchasing a strong antenna to get a signal from beyond our trees. For those who are like me and have not watched TV through an antenna for years I must describe how it is now. When I grew up we had two (three if we were lucky) channels to watch and they were not very good. Now with HD each network has approximately three channels which all have different shows. We now get about 20 channels through our antenna for free and the picture is incredible! My watching news in the morning and evening is actually better than what I had when I had dish because now I have HD whereas before I did not want to pay for the service in my bedroom.

iPad and Blu-Ray
The majority of our TV time is spent watching shows that we recorded. I was surprised by how easy it was to set it up so we could watch all of the shows and movies we wanted. We purchased a subscription to Netflix and Hulu Plus. For Netflix subscription which provided instant movies and shows along with them sending a DVD in the mail it costs us $9.99 and for the Hulu Plus is costs us $7.99 per month.

My original thought was that I could just plug in my iPad to the receiver and watch all of the shows and movies we wanted. This thought does work great and it cost me just $39.99 for the wires to do this from the Apple Store.

Still, while I was at BestBuy asking them some other questions I asked if there was a better way to achieve this without having to plug in my iPad. “But of course there is” the sales person said. He introduced us to the idea of using a Blu-Ray player to watch our Netflix and Hulu picks. The Blu-Ray plugs into our DSL and anytime I add something to our instant queues they automatically show up on the Blu-Ray. It’s amazing!

We have gone from paying $105 a month to paying $18. We feel so cutting edge!

Our initial costs were:
$85 for the really good antenna that could reach beyond our trees
$100 for the Blu-Ray Player
For a total of $185

So how long does it take for me to make up this costs?

I was able to get Netflix and Hulu free for the first month so first month I’m saving $105, that means that within the 2nd month I’m already saving costs because I only have $80 remaining to make up and the monthly amount I’m saving is $87.

$87 a month savings and I’m pretty sure I’m going to be happier with the setup!

Tenants in Foreclosure- The Final Chapter

Oh this feels so good! I’m happy to have this be my last in the Tenants in Foreclosure series which I’ve been living and writing about since last April. We officially moved into our new home last weekend. We are moving out the remaining items we have in our rental and will do our final cleaning.

On the 5th of February I called the trustee to find that the auction of the home was postponed by only two weeks until the 18th. I decided that I wouldn’t run the risk and only paid for rent through the 18th of the month. Upon follow up of the auction the trustee informed me that the home was no longer up for auction at all. It appears the landlords may have been able to work out some sort of modification.

So all’s well that ends well right?

Tenants in Foreclosure- Feb

I called the Trustee on Friday to see if my home got auctioned and come to find that it again was postponed. The different aspect this time though was they only postponed it by two weeks where all of the previous dates have been 30 or more days out. So I was posed with a questions….Do I pay for a full month’s rent or do I just pay for the 18 days that I know they will own the home?

We decided that it would be best to prorate the rent and pay for the 18 days that we know they will own the home and then on the 18th of the month we’ll call again to see if it was auctioned. I’m think this has to be coming to a close soon since it has been in foreclosure since April of last year and this time they only postponed the sale by 2 weeks. I did let the landlords know why I did not pay the full rent and did not receive a response from them.

More to come later in the month.

Purchasing a home with permit issues

Its official, we are in escrow! We found a house to purchase and will get to soon leave our foreclosure nightmare behind. On Sunday I notified the landlords that we would be moving out and it felt so good. I also let them know that again I would be calling to make sure the home was not sold at auction on Feb 4th before paying the February rent.

That asked that we be sure to leave the house nice and have the carpets clean. Really? Of course we will leave the house in good repair, but it just irks me hearing them dictate what I need to do after all of the grief they have put us through these last 10 months.

It’s been a hard search finding the right how. Yes, there are a lot of homes on the market, but many are vacant and need repairs. When you are already putting 20% down on the home it’s hard to be able to find additional funds to repair the home.

The home we found is perfect for us and will make us happy for many years to come. There are some areas of concern that we have had to address during this process though. The first being that the home behind our new home is a foreclosure sale and is for sale for $180,000 less than the home we are purchasing. The home is slightly larger with a smaller less usable lot and needs some repairs, but still this is a large concern that our home’s value will decrease right after we move in due to the sale of this home. There really is nothing we can do about this, but with the market we are in it’s very unsettling.

The second issue that we have had to deal with is that the home we are purchasing was recently remodeled and there may be some permit issues. Most of the repairs were done by the homeowner and it appears that the permits may have been forced by the county because the work was being done by the homeowner without permits. The permits were closed out just days before the home was put on the market after being open for nearly 3 years.

Of course I did not think to look into this until our inspection came back with several electrical issues. I spoke with several inspectors at the county to find our more information. I encourage you do this if you ever have questions. They are very easy to reach and very helpful. I was able to find out about all of the permits and complaints filed on the home by going to It lists all of the inspectors that were assigned to the permit and gives their phone number. I asked the electrical inspector how the home could pass inspection with so many items not being up to code. I was told by one inspector that there was over two years from when he saw the electrical work and gave the okay to drywall over. He said that there was a great potential that more was done in that time that he would not have seen at the final inspection time because everything was closed over.

I asked if the homeowner doing these repairs on his own left us open for any liability and he said that when you purchase a home you purchase any permit issues that may arise even if we did not initiate or do the work.

Did you know that when you purchase a home you are also purchasing any permitting issues the home may have?

My friend was a contractor and had a customer who had recently purchased the home and was doing some plumbing which required a county inspector. When the inspector came out he noticed that the home had a finished basement, but this was not on file with the county. All of the work had been done without permits. The customer had to hire my friend to rip out the entire basement and start all over bringing the whole thing up to code. It cost him about $30,000. He did not realize that when the box on the disclosures said that some repairs had been done without permits that it would mean he’d be open to such a huge liability. Yikes!