Archive for September 2014

Is the Credit CARD Act of 2009 Already Out of Date?

It has been five years since the Credit CARD Act of 2009 was passed, has it made a positive impact? Is it out of date already? Here’s one reason why it might be.

I am what you’d call a ‘deadbeat’…no really. ‘Deadbeat’ is a term commonly used by credit card companies for those who pay their balance off every month. That means the credit card companies do not make finance charges or fees on my, except I do have an annual maintenance fee. Does that mean the credit card companies make no money on us? Absolutely not! Every time I swipe my card the credit card company is making money by charging the merchant a processing fee.

Last December, I blogged about how I got over $2,000 back from my credit card company. We try to put everything we can on the credit card because of the cash back we get on our Capital One Venture Card. I know of several others who utilize their credit cards to wrack up points or miles. The trick is making sure that it is paid in full each month. My husband and I have gotten into the habit of logging into our accounts each week and making a payment on our credit card so we don’t let our spending get out of control to where we cannot pay it off within the month.

Congress understood that consumers did not understand the terms of our credit card contracts and likely the power of compound interest. For years I have stressed to my students the importance of calculating how much you are paying for something when you borrow the money. I say “if you do not know when you will have the item paid for then you should not be borrowing to buy it”.

Now this can come as a shock right? Have you ever signed mortgages papers and saw how your interest over the life of a 30-year loan was two to three times the amount you were borrowing? It can be hard to swallow, but that’s a good thing.

Time and time again I’ve heard from students they assumed they were doing the ‘right’ thing by making the minimum payment on their credit card. “I got a bill that says to pay $25, I paid it, all must be well.” Not all think this way, but many do fall in the trap.

While lecturing about credit to my summer students I mentioned some of the aspects of the Credit CARD Act of 2009, one being the requirement that the credit card companies show on your statement how long it would take to pay off your balance by making the payment and the total, including interest, you would pay. In addition, the credit card companies are required to show you how much you need to pay in order to pay off the balance in three-years (assuming of course you do not charge anymore and your interest rate does not increase). I though about this for a moment and realized I had never see this on my statement?

Was my credit card company out of compliance?

No, because I don’t actually look at my statements. I receive electronic statement notifications, log in each week, review my transactions and pay accordingly. I am a ‘deadbeat’! I never actually look at my credit card statement. In order to view my statement I have to log into my account and download the pdf to look at my statement.

I am not sure how many customers opt to receive electronic statements, as I do, but I’m pretty sure the percentage is pretty high. We live in an electronic age that encourages us to, not only, seek instant information, but also be ‘go paperless’.

Do you agree this regulation might be out of date already? In 2009, electronic statements were very prevalent, why didn’t anyone think to also require these minimum payment calculations show on the home screen when you login?

It would make people think twice to see this right when they login. This comes from my credit card statement, which I finally downloaded and looked at. Why don’t they add a third option “pay in full” pay off now and pay “0” interest?

Would love your feedback!

Melody Bell

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Local Nonprofit Launches Program to Help Students Mitigate Debt During College

PORTLAND, Ore., August 27, 2014—Financial Beginnings, a Portland-based nonprofit that provides financial education programs, has announced the launch of a new program, Pathways, which will be offered by Financial Beginnings at no cost to high schools and colleges in Oregon and Washington.

Pathways helps youth, particularly low-income and underserved youth, successfully transition from high school to post-secondary education (and beyond) through informed and proactive financial decisions. Financial Beginnings received funding from COUNTRY Financial for the development of the new program.

The Pathways program topics include; career & education path, comparing schools & costs, financing college, managing debt accumulation and managing debt after school. All topics are timely with the average student loan debt of undergraduates hovering around $30,000 and the unemployment of youth between the ages of 16-24 years of age being far greater than other age groups.

“My creation of this program stemmed from the Portland State University students in my personal finance course,” says Melody Bell, executive director of Financial Beginnings and adjunct professor at Portland State University, “I saw the staggering amount of debt some were accumulating and their lack of understanding on how this debt would effect their lives after college.”

The Pathways program will join the suite of other financial education programs provided by Financial Beginnings including; Financial Footings for elementary school students, Financial Foundations for high school students and young adults, Unraveling the Mysteries of Your Money public forums and Teacher Training. To learn more about the Pathways program visit:

About Financial Beginnings
Formed in 2005 and based in Portland, OR, Financial Beginnings is a nonprofit organization that provides free financial education programs throughout the Pacific Northwest. Financial Beginnings’ largest program educates youth and young adults in the basics of personal finance through visits to schools or community groups. Financial Beginnings’ courses incorporate all aspects of personal finance to provide individuals the foundation needed to make informed financial decisions. More information is available at


Conference Teaches Over 60 Educators about Personal Finance, Brings National Speakers and Resources to Oregon

PORTLAND, Ore., August 21, 2014Financial Beginnings, a Portland-based nonprofit, in partnership with the Oregon Jump$tart Coalition, and Portland State University’s School of Business Administration, held a two-day conference August 19, 2014 and August 20, 2014, at Portland State University.

The first of its kind in Oregon, this conference taught educators about proactive and responsible personal financial management, and provided resources and information about how to implement financial lessons in the classroom.

Over 60 educators attended the two-day conference seeking ways of complying with Oregon’s new Common Core education requirements, which now include Financial Literacy under the Social Sciences’ Core Standards.  Additional attendees included churches and community nonprofits, including a low-income housing authority, all exploring ways to provide financial education to their respective audiences, and if you’re interested in finances you should find out more at Strategic Business Finance as this is a business which specialized in this.

This conference brought national speakers and resources to Oregon including Daniel Hebert, Financial Education Consultant and State President of the New Hampshire Jump$tart Coalition, and Director of Professional Development for National Jump$tart; Camron Doss, District Director of the U.S. Small Business Administration; and representatives from the Oregon Department of Education, the Department of Consumer and Business Services, the Department of Justice, and others.

Financial Beginnings’ Teacher Training Conference utilized the national Jump$tart Teacher Training Alliance’s model, developed by the Jump$tart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy, the National Endowment for Financial Education, Junior Achievement USA, and the Take Charge Institute at the University of Arizona, and with insight from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the U.S. Department of Treasury, and the U.S. Department of Education.

The conference provided lectures and activity-based sessions on budgeting, savings, investing, career building, fraud protection, and managing credit/debt, among other topics. Twenty speakers hosted additional break-out sessions on topics ranging from How to Teach Entrepreneurship to Retirement Planning for Women.

Bank of America served as Title Sponsor of the Teacher Training Conference.

More information about this conference and other programs offered by Financial Beginnings can be found at:

About Financial Beginnings

Formed in 2005 and based in Portland, OR, Financial Beginnings is a nonprofit organization that provides free financial education programs throughout the Pacific Northwest.  Financial Beginnings’ largest program educates youth and young adults in the basics of personal finance through visits to schools or community groups.  Financial Beginnings’ courses incorporate all aspects of personal finance to provide individuals the foundation needed to make informed financial decisions. More information is available at



Meet Our New Interns!

With the introduction of our Spanish programs we brought on a Spanish-Language Curriculum Outreach Intern to help us launch these programs into classrooms this school year.

Margarita Gonzalez is currently working towards her Bachelor of Science degree in Criminology & Criminal Justice with a minor in Environmental Studies. Margarita is expected to be graduating this Fall 2014 from Portland State University. Throughout her years at PSU, Margarita worked as an Orientation Leader, Resident Assistant, and as a receptionist providing customer services to current and prospective students at PSU. Through her experiences, Margarita’s found her passion towards helping people, the importance of understanding how to manage your personal finance in college, and her interest towards becoming a Geographic Information System analyst or related field.

Through her volunteer experiences, Margarita had the opportunity to work with Western Worker Association where she served as a translator, as well with the Portland Guadalajara Sister City Association where she worked as the Children Area Coordinator. As a Financial Beginnings Spanish Outreach Intern, Margarita will gain more knowledge and outreach skills to keep helping her community on understanding and be aware of their personal finances. Margarita also works at Advising & Career Services as a part-time employee.  In her spare time, Margarita enjoys playing soccer and dancing.

In addition, with some staff movement, a new Program Intern was hired! We introduce, Mackenzie.

Mackenzie is currently a student at PCC and PSU working towards her Bachelors degree in Biology. While volunteering with Americorp, she got to be a part of Self Enhancement Inc. (SEI), where she worked with tenth and eleventh graders at Jefferson High School during their summer program. While working with these students she taught the Financial Literacy course and became interested in educating and making sure our students of all ages are well informed about personal finance and provide them with the right tools for a successful future.

We are looking forward to a great 2014-2015 school year with two new bright interns on board!