Archive for October 2014

Corporate Sponsor Spotlight: Point West Credit Union

Financial Beginnings is very excited to have Point West Credit Union as a sponsor for the 2014-2015 school year. We would like to give Steve Pagenstecher, Marketing & Member Experience Manager, a big thank you for taking the time to answer a couple of questions about Point West and their dedication to Financial Literacy. 

(1) Why does Point West Credit Union support Financial Beginnings? Why is financial education important to your company?

As a not-for-profit, member-owned financial institution, empowering our members and our community with the knowledge and tools they need to take control of their financial lives is the foundation of everything we do.

Personal finance is not considered core curriculum in most schools, yet it is a core value of the credit union cooperative. That’s where Financial Beginnings comes in. They make financial literacy outreach possible for Point West and many other organizations who champion financial education as a key component for secondary and post-secondary learning.  Financial Beginnings manages the whole process: volunteer opportunities within the classrooms, our volunteer portal, and reporting results back to us, to show the impact of financial literacy volunteerism to our members and the community at-large.

(2) In addition to supporting Financial Beginnings, does Point West Credit Union have any current or planned programs, initiatives, or resources to increase financial literacy?

In addition to Financial Beginnings, we offer and are pursuing several other opportunities for financial literacy to empower our communities.

Point West partners with BALANCE to leverage their financial planning tools and materials for our members, including free and confidential financial counseling services. In addition, we collaborate with IRCO (Immigrant & Refugee Community Organization) here in Portland to assist immigrants struggling to establish citizenship and healthy financial habits.

We are currently working with several other partners to develop and provide increased access to financial literacy for individuals of all ages, as well as small businesses. These include Portland State University’s Business Outreach Program, Innovative Changes, Bank On Oregon, the Benson High School Alumni Foundation, and Operation HOPE.

This is just the beginning – we will continue to seek out and partner with like-minded organizations to financially empower our local community.


(3) In your opinion, what is currently the most critical finance-related topic that needs to be addressed through education?

The recent economic recession had a huge impact on a majority of Americans, including our members. Between lost jobs and lost wealth, it will be years, if ever, before many recover. Yet a tough situation is made worse by a lack of long-term “rainy day” savings to help weather these ups and downs. We need to show that saving not only is worth the long-term investment, but is frankly not as daunting as many think it is. If we can create an informed base of educated savers that balance savings and purchases – and give them the tools to continue managing their budget – we’ll create a much more stable and robust foundation for everyone’s future.

(4)  What is Point West’s niche market?  What make you stand out in this market?  

Point West’s membership is as diverse as Portland itself; we’re proud to serve everyone, from white collar employees and their families, to low-income, underserved families and businesses. As a credit union dedicated to community development, serving the needs of the entire community, not just high earners, is at the core of our mission. We’re focused on two critical demographics in our community – small businesses and the underserved.

Small businesses are the engine of our community. And when we’re talking about small businesses, that’s exactly what we mean – businesses that may only have one or two employees but have a solid mission and need the tools to grow sustainably. Not all small businesses are looking for $500,000 loans – some simply need $5,000-10,000 to repair equipment or purchase supplies. We believe there’s significant opportunity to help these businesses during these burgeoning years so they can be the engines for success our communities need.

Likewise, there are many individuals and families that struggle to make ends meet despite their resolve and determination to live a more financially-stable life. Whether its barriers like lack of work or transportation, or unexpected hardships like medical bills or an economic downturn, someone can move from a good financial position to a bad one just like that. Ensuring access to affordable accounts and loans, while providing sound financial advice and support is crucial to recovering their finances; it also keeps them away from predatory lenders and services, which only further destabilize their financial standing. Whether it’s our ITIN lending program, our Fresh Start Checking or VISA Credit Card, a share-secured loan or many other options we have at our disposal, we’re here to help everyone improve their financial well-being.

Is your organization interested in becoming a sponsor too? Contact Melody Bell for more details. 

It Pays to Be Loyal

I am a loyal consumer. Over the years I have found a lot of convenience and saved costs by being loyal to the businesses I patronize. Some businesses have won me over though loyalty programs, while others have just served me well over the years and I have stayed with them because of that.

The loyalty programs make it easy. I only fly Alaska, stay at Kimpton and shop at Fred Meyers or Costco and put it all on my Capital One Venture card. Why? This year alone I have:
• Been upgraded to first class 75% of the time when I fly on Alaska.
• Have received two free night stays at Kimpton hotels and get upgraded most of the time. They even delivered a basket of candies and a platter of cheese to our room last month when we were staying there with our girls.
• Received almost $100 cash back from Costco, which covers the cost of membership.
• Been contributing to Financial Beginnings through Fred Meyer’s rewards program just by shopping there.
• Received $1333 cash back from Capital One year to date. Last year I got over $2000 cash back. (Note this only works if you pay off the balance each month so no interest is accrued)

It is not just loyalty programs that bring me in. My husband laughs that I still drive across town to go to the same salon for a pedicure or to get my dry cleaning done, but to me it is worth it. Have you ever had an experience trying a new dry cleaner, hair stylist, or plumber to save a dollar or some time and then end up kicking yourself because they did not provide you what you wanted? Sometimes, it’s worth relying on the expertise of a reliable service like ontario plumber, ensuring your needs are met with precision and satisfaction. For slab leak repair service, ensuring your needs are met with precision and satisfaction is essential. If you have a favorite nail salon, the staff will help you in deciding on the right nail technique for you and provide you with the best service.

Being loyal to merchants has also brought me many benefits, such as:
• Putting me to the front of the list to schedule an appointment.
• Being more willing to take returns or exchanges.
• Providing me a better price.
• Sharing their network of discounts with me.
• Getting a free drink or larger pour.

Whereas, with the loyalty programs I am working with larger merchants, with these other merchants I think the smaller the better. If you build a rapport with the small businesses, you will be amazed by the loyalty they will have to you in return for yours.

Do you have any merchants you are utterly loyal to that you would like to share with us?

Melody Bell
Executive Director of Financial Beginnings

Financial Beginnings Partners with Nonprofit, Inceptia


Oregon Students to Benefit from Free Financial Literacy Program

Portland, OR. (October 1, 2014) – Financial Beginnings has announced a partnership with Nebraska-based nonprofit, Inceptia, which launched during the Financial Beginnings Financial Literacy Teacher Conference on August 19, 2014. This partnership is aimed at furthering financial literacy education for Oregon high school students by aligning Inceptia and Financial Beginnings’ free financial education programs. The Inceptia online program, Financial Avenue, and the Financial Beginnings in-class program, Financial Foundations, will provide Oregon high school students with multi-faceted financial education tools to better equip students for adulthood.

Financial Avenue offers engaging, online courses and tutorials to increase knowledge of personal money management fundamentals – from responsible credit card use, to avoiding identity theft, to understanding the basics of budgeting, and paying for college. Financial Avenue’s learning objectives align with the financial education core competencies established by the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Financial Literacy and Education Commission. Students will receive instruction in personal financial literacy that will benefit them with post high school plans whether they enter the work force, attend college, or join the military. As an added incentive, students, educators and schools in Oregon may have the chance to win cash prizes as students complete courses and become better managers of their personal finances.

By creating this partnership, both organizations will cross-promote Financial Avenue and Financial Foundations, leveraging collective efforts and maximizing the impact on students, educators and schools across Oregon. Randy Heesacker, president and CEO of Inceptia, said: “With Financial Avenue, Inceptia’s mission is to educate and support student financial success and this partnership with Financial Beginnings provides us with an exciting new way to deliver valuable financial literacy resources to students in Oregon.”

Carissa Uhlman, vice president of student success at Inceptia, worked diligently with Financial Beginnings to make this mutually beneficial partnership possible. “Our goal is to help students achieve financial wellness, both at the high school and collegiate level. This partnership allows us to support the missions of both Financial Beginnings and Inceptia, ultimately providing unique financial education opportunities to more students in the Pacific Northwest.”

Melody Bell, executive director and founder of Financial Beginnings, commented that “this partnership comes at the perfect time. We have had the goal of providing an online financial education format to complement our suite of programs. This partnership will allow both Inceptia and Financial Beginnings to leverage our resources and spread financial literacy throughout Oregon.”

For more information, please visit


Inceptia, a division of National Student Loan Program (NSLP), is a nonprofit organization providing premier expertise in higher education access, student loan repayment, analytics, default prevention and financial education. Our mission is to support schools as they arm students with the knowledge needed to become financially responsible adults. Since 1986, we have helped more than two million students achieve their higher education dreams at 5,500 schools nationwide. Annually, Inceptia helps more than 120,000 students borrow wisely, resolve their delinquency issues and successfully repay their student loan obligations. Inceptia educates students on how to pay for college, guides borrowers through loan repayment counseling, and provides default prevention strategies and services to schools. More information at


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


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