Archive for February 2014

Starting Small While Tackling My Debts

Like many, one of my biggest goals is to be debt free, but with student loan payments, a credit card I used irresponsibly, and a car that needs to be paid off, that finish line seems very far away. I am a very goal oriented person, and checking items off on my list is what keeps me motivated, so I decided that for me, starting with my smallest debt balance and working my way up would be best the plan. Yesterday, I marched myself down to Chase and made a huge dent in paying off my credit card, but it felt even better this morning when I checked the account and saw how drastically that number went down, and I was instantly motivated to keep going on bringing that balance to $0.

Quite the coincidence, I found an article published on Business Insider that spoke to my exact plan and emotions that come with paying off large debts. The authors suggestion is to write a list from top to bottom of your debts, starting with the smallest balance and work on paying that one off, while making the minimum payments on your others. Once you are done paying off that debt, you can you use that extra money on the next debt, and continue this process until your debts are paid off.

If the feelings of excitement and accomplishment continue to happen, this is definitely a strategy I will definitely stick to.

Curious to read this article? Click here.


-Basha Gitnes

Press Release: Count on COUNTRY

COUNTRY Financial awards nearly $300,000 in grants
for financial literacy programs


Most recent grants bring program’s total to $775,000                                                                                        

Feb. 18, 2014, Bloomington, IL— COUNTRY Financial® has awarded nearly $300,000 in grants through its Count on COUNTRY Financial community grant program. Funds were awarded to fifteen organizations across Chicago, Atlanta, Portland and Minneapolis.

The grant program awards organizations that provide educational opportunities and resources to help single parents and their children achieve financial security. Since 2008, COUNTRY Financial has awarded nearly $775,000 to nonprofit organizations with programs that are improving the financial security of families. This was the first year the program expanded to include deserving nonprofits in Atlanta and Portland.

“We believe strong families lead to strong communities. By helping single-parent households achieve financial security, we’re contributing to the overall strength and success of the community in which they live,” said Tim Harris, COUNTRY Financial agency field executive. “Our goal at COUNTRY is to make sure that all families, along with the neighborhoods they reside in, have a financially-secure future.”

This year’s grant recipients include:

Portland: Financial Beginnings

Chicago: Fathers for the Future, Heartland Human Care Services, Instituto del Progreso Latino, Jane Addams Resource Corporation, North Lawndale Employment Network, Northwest Side Housing Center, Spanish Coalition for Housing

St. Paul/Minneapolis:
The Boys and Girls Club of the Twin Cities, EMERGE Community Development, Jeremiah Program

100 Black Men of Atlanta, HomeStretch Transitional Housing Program, Urban Asset Builders/The Community Foundation for Financial Literacy, Warrick Dunn Charities 

“We believe providing financial literacy programs and resources to single-parent households is a crucial part of building a strong community,” said Melody Bell, executive director of Financial Beginnings, a 2013 grant recipient. “The generous contribution from COUNTRY will help support our financial education programs, which includes hands-on workshops and the opportunity to be paired with a financial mentor.”

A recent COUNTRY Financial Security Index found nearly 82 percent of single parents have had to cut back on spending to make ends meet due to the overall state of the economy. This reinforces the need for a grant program, such as the Count on COUNTRY Financial grant program, that is geared specifically to supporting nonprofit organizations that help single parents and their children achieve financial security.

Following is an overview of the Portland program that will be supported by funding from the Count on COUNTRY grant program.


2013 Portland Grant Recipient

Financial Beginnings

This organization provides free, unbiased financial education to youth and adults in the Portland and surrounding communities. Financial Beginnings offers Financial Foundations program with hands-on workshops and the opportunity to be paired with a Financial Mentor, to provide additional personal finance assistance.

For a complete overview of the grant recipients, please visit

About COUNTRY Financial

COUNTRY Financial® ( serves about one million households and businesses throughout the United States. It offers a full range of financial products and services from auto, home and life insurance to retirement planning services, investment management and annuities.

Need a last minute flight? Check out Hotwire

Fortunately, all of my experiences in booking flights for travel have been for good reasons, vacations, visiting family, weddings, etc.  However, my most recent experience in booking a flight was to attend my grandfather’s funeral.  When I found out about my grandfather I was notified a few hours later that the funeral would be held two days later.  I had heard of bereavement fares before so I started checking with airlines I had previously flown.  I first went to United airlines website and they had the option to search directly on their website for bereavement fare.  Needless to say, even at the bereavement rate, the options still weren’t very affordable due to it being last minute.  I then checked with Delta and the only option to check bereavement fares is to call.  After waiting on hold for about 15 minutes I was able to speak with a customer service representative.  Their rates were a little bit cheaper, but still not ideal.  I then decided to do a quick Google search and found an article that suggested Hotwire.  Hotwire focuses on booking last minute travel (airfare, hotels, cars).  I decided to check it out and was pleased to find rates about $150 cheaper than the bereavement rates offered through the other airlines. Those low rates do come with a catch; you do not receive any flight details until you book the non-refundable airfare.  They do give you a time frame that your flight departs, but that’s really it.  I wavered, but I wasn’t in a position to be picky, I just knew that I wanted to get back to be with my family.  I went ahead and booked the flight and was fairly pleased by the convenience of the flight.  So, if you are ever in an unfortunate situation and need to get somewhere quick, but have some flexibility, I would suggest Hotwire.

Meet Adrienne, Financial Beginnings Volunteer Coordinator Intern

Greetings! I am Adrienne Prevost, Financial Beginnings Volunteer Coordinator Intern. I am a student in the School of Business at Portland State University, and I am majoring in both Finance and Marketing.  Along with being an intern for Financial Beginnings, I am also a volunteer.

I began volunteering at Financial Beginnings in August 2013, shortly after Melody Bell taught my personal finance course at Portland State. I was originally a marketing major, but Melody made the subject of finance interesting and relatable. My feelings about finance completely changed during her course and I went from thinking it was the most boring subject on earth, to declaring myself a finance major.  I then joined the Financial Management Association at PSU, and became a member of Women in Insurance and Finance. I believe that financial education is a lifelong journey and we can always improve our situation.

Once my undergraduate degree is completed, I intend to continue my education and get a Master’s in Science in Financial Analysis. After that, I would like to become a certified financial planner and help clients achieve their retirement goals.