Archive for November 2014

Groupon: Such a Deal!

Coupon

For about six months I was a dedicated Groupon purchaser. I was so excited to get my daily email with the special deals around Portland. It was the ultimate impulse purchase for me. Sign onto my email account, click on the latest Groupon email, pick one of several colorful, intriguing icons, and Bam! I had a very low cost massage, or tickets to an event, or fill-in-the-blank deal that I was going to enjoy.

I enjoyed several interesting adventures – a sushi dinner, a hockey game, a film festival. After a few weeks, I realized that I had amassed quite a few Groupons that I hadn’t used. These were great deals. What was wrong with me? I needed to get planning and inviting friends to join my on these wonderful Groupon-adventures.

Except that I didn’t. The deals were great, but they didn’t always mesh with the available times when I wanted to go on the adventure. Or my friends didn’t share my enthusiasm for the two-for-one tickets to a GermanFilm Festival. The cost of the ticket became market price when this happened.Or worse, I no longer had the same level of enthusiasm for the adventure andleft it to languish in my Groupon account.

I finally unsubscribed. Since that time I have actually saved money on my entertainment because I am paying only for the things I really want to do instead of being wooed by the colorful icons on the Groupon email.

Anne Lee
Director of Operations

Savings Builds More than Wealth

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As Financial Beginnings’ Development Director, I am constantly seeking new research about the importance of financial education. As a mom, I continually look for opportunities to enhance my child’s future. Recently, I stumbled upon new research that addressed both.

A recent study provided yet another reason to encourage children to start saving money at a young age. This research, from the Center for Social Development, found that “youth who have a bank account in their name, regardless of the amount in that account, are seven times more likely to attend college than youth with no account.”

The Journal of Family and Economic Issues explains this as the “assets effect,” whereby “personally controlling their savings inspires a deeper appreciation for what they need to do financially and behaviorally to get into college,” noting that “the simple act of saving motivates children to strive harder.”

Depositing money into their own savings account, the Journal explains, helps children feel a sense of control over their future. This psychological effect ignites a cycle of positive and aspirational behaviors.

So how can parents make the most of the assets effect? For starters, they can help their child open a savings account in his or her own name. Banks and credit unions all provide some type of custodial savings account for even the youngest of children. My son opened his savings account at Umpqua Bank when he was just a few months old; his signature was a little sloppy but hey, so is Jack Lew’s.

Secondly, parents can help their child determine how much of his or her earned of gifted income should be deposited into this account, and assist their child in making regular, physical deposits. Making regular deposits to my son’s account has kept me honest in making regular deposits to my own account as well.

Lastly, watching a savings account grow, regardless of by how much, provides a tangible tool for teaching their child about interest, budgeting, and basic money management. A savings account can also provide the framework for discussing goal-setting in general, as well as educational and career goals. As the old adage states, if you don’t know where you are going, you probably won’t get there.

Kristin Monahan
Development Director

 

Interview with Clackamas County Federal Credit Union

We spoke with Mary Greco, President of Clackamas Federal Credit Union and her two staff members, AVP of Marketing,Luke McMurray, and Administrative Assistant Jennifer Kraxberger to discuss financial literacy.

Can you tell us a little about Clackamas FederalCredit Union?
57 years ago citizens in Clackamas County created the credit union to serve workers and public service employees. The Credit Union is still headquartered in Clackamas and has grown to more than 25,000 members, served by 84 employees in six branches.

What makes Clackamas Federal Credit Union special?
Our mission is taking pride in making a difference by supporting the financial success of our members. We also strive to support the communities we serve.

Why does Clackamas Federal Credit Union support Financial Beginnings? Why is financial education important to your company?
We believe that everyone needs to understand how to prepare financially for the future. When people borrow money, we want them to understand everything about the loan – how they are being charged and what the requirements are. I personally believe that financial literacy is very important and should be taught from first grade through college.

Why did you decide to partner with Financial Beginnings?
Financial Beginnings will help us reach our members and people throughout the county. We want people to learn how to save and make their lives better. Saving is the first step to a successful future. The Financial Beginnings curriculum provides the consistent and unbiased message to students that we think is critical.

In addition to supporting Financial Beginnings, does Clackamas Federal Credit Union have any current or planned programs,initiatives, or resources to increase financial literacy?
We provide workshops throughout the year. And we are going to be teaching classes at Clackamas Community College using the Financial Foundations curriculum created by Financial Beginnings.

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

Mary: Saving is the most important. People don’t know how to save. They seem not to understand that they can start small and build. Instead, they set a goal beyond their means and then become discouraged.

Luke: Budgeting is critical. People need to have a plan and follow it.

Jennifer: I think people need to understand how to live within their means and not try to keep up with their neighbors. Saving and budgeting – those are the most important elements in financial literacy.

Welcome to the World of Debt. Do You Know What You Are in for?

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I grew up watching my mother work her way through college. I was 10-years old when she achieved her bachelor’s degree. I grew up with good grades and I was always under the assumption that I would go to college. I think my parent’s assumed I would also. Still, with my parents having to spend the first 10-years of my life not only raising my older brother and myself, but also baring the time and expense of my mother going to college. I am not sure, but I believe she graduated with no student loan debt.

I have always been self-driven and would take initiative to do the things I wanted to do. I decided four years in high school was too long for me, so I graduated in three. During my final year of high school I began taking all of the required standardized tests, filling out the college applications and doing all of the normal high school senior activities. My parents were involved in this process, but I definitely ran the show.

When it came time for me to start making decisions and viewing the financial aide offers provided to me from several universities, it all seem to become very clear to everyone that this was real. I was proceeding through this process assuming that my parents would be paying for whatever college I chose, we never actually had a conversation confirming this.

I don’t quite remember all of the details of how I and my parents realized that we had very different expectations regarding how my college would be paid for. The outcome became that they paid for me to attend Portland Community College. I remember seeing the financial aid offers coming in and the amounts outlined for loans that both I and my parents were expected to take out to pay for college. I am glad that I did not agree to any of them because looking back I realize that I was not ready to accept that responsibility.

My parents paid for the first couple of years of my college (I took the 6-year plan) and eventually towards the end I bit the bullet and took out loans so I could quit my job and finish out the last bit full-time. I was fortunate that I left with only $12,500 in student loan debt, $5,000 of which was a loan from my grandparents (the interest rate was quite good). By the time I did take out debt, I had an understanding of what it meant and what my responsibilities were as a borrower.

The average student loan debt an undergraduate leaves school with is now approximately $30,000, plus an additional $10,000 in credit card debt. Many of these students had the same belief that I did, that college was just the assumed next step. Now, more than when I was in high school, students are brought up that student loan debt is also assumed.

What can we do to better prepare students to understand this process and how the decisions they are making now to get to and through college will affect their post college life? 

Melody Bell
Executive Director

You Are Ready for Some Football, but Can You Afford to Attend an NFL Game?

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While watching the Packers completely blow away the Bears on Sunday night, 55-14, I started thinking about the costs of attending an NFL game. As a native of the Green Bay area and a proud Packer fan, I’ve had the opportunity to attend a few games at historic Lambeau Field. It’s been almost 10 years since I last attended a Packer game. I know that at that time I paid at least $60 for a ticket. That was by no means premium seating, those were the cheap seats. I definitely remember freezing while sitting on those concrete stadium seats. That was not the only game I attended, nor the coldest.

In the chart below you can see a comparison of the costs of an NFL team from each division. These are the ranges of ticket prices for the remainder of the season that I found on TiqIQ.

Team Ticket Price
Packers $91-145
Seahawks $129-241
Cowboys $124-165
Saints $64-90
Patriots $133-187
Ravens $59-90
Colts $47-107
Raiders $9-116

You’ll pay top dollar to attend a game of the reigning Super bowl champs, the Seahawks. Century Link Field just happens to be the closest NFL stadium to Oregon, so it’s just a quick road trip away. To attend a Raiders game, you could get a game ticket and fly to Oakland for the same price of a Seahawks ticket. Heck, if you can get a $9 ticket, you might even be able to get a hotel room for the night and possibly have some money left over for a hot dog. You’ll probably be disappointed by the outcome of the game if you’re rooting for the Raiders…sorry Raiders fans!

Now if you plan to fly across the country to the East coast and check out a Patriots game, you’ll also pay top dollar for a ticket. As Tom Brady winds down his career, it just might be worth it, and you might even catch a glimpse of his supermodel wife, Gisele. This trip would easily cost you upwards of $1,000 or more when you factor in the lodging, transportation, and the game ticket.

Even though I may be a biased Packer fan, catching a game at Lambeau Field would be worth the bone chilling temperatures to experience a game at the only publicly owned team in the NFL. You can fly to the frozen tundra, Lambeau Field, and pay very low costs for lodging in Green Bay. If you fly directly into Green Bay, you will pay a premium for airfare, as it’s a very small airport. By the way, Green Bay is the smallest city in the league and has about the same population size as Gresham. If you decide to make the trip, let me know and maybe I’ll have my family welcome you with some Midwestern hospitality and hand you a beer and some cheese curds, ya der hey!

Sarah Janda
Program Manager

Decluttering My Wallet with My iPhone

As a woman, I find there is something freeing about not having to tote around a giant wallet all the time filled with multiple loyalty rewards programs, credit and debit cards, and if I am lucky, a couple of gift cards. Because of this, you could imagine my excitement surrounding one of Apple’s newest endeavors, ApplePay. Available on the newest phone models, as well as the new Apple Watch, I figured why not upgrade my device now so I could enjoy the whole “semi-wallet free” lifestyle as soon as possible? After two backorders, two long days of shipping, and a phone call to my cell phone provider later, my new iPhone 6 was in my possession and up and and running. Now, after talking about all of my excitement surrounding this feature, imagine my shock and upset that when I went to set up Apple Pay on my phone, and I got the dreaded message that my credit union does not support Apple Pay. After a bit of digging, I calmed down after I found out that they will, in early 2015.

So while I wait for my credit union to support ApplePay, here are a few things that I am doing in the mean time to declutter my wallet:

Using Passbook—Passbook is a great feature that I newly discovered on my iPhone that allows you to store all of your loyalty cards in one place. If you’re like me and get suckered into signing up for these programs, why not make it easier on yourself by having them all available in one place, instead of taking up room in your wallet? Even better, certain Ticketmaster tickets are available on your Passbook, so when you arrive at your venue, all you need is your phone!

Using Apps—Yes, I know it is bad, but I am one of those Starbucks people, and keeping up my Gold Member status is even easier with their app. Instead of carrying around my card where ever I am, I use my app to add more money to my card, add gift cards and transfer those funds to my gold card, tip my barista, and my favorite, use my free drink rewards.

Until my credit union supports ApplePay, this will work, but look out for another post about ApplePay in early 2015!

 

Basha Gitnes
Marketing Specialist

 

 

My Passbook

My Passbook

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My Starbucks App

 

Invest Your Latte

LatteHow many times a week do you purchase those get-my-day-started, caffeine-laden drinks? Three times a week? Five? At an average cost of $2.95, you are spending about $450 per year. Think about what you could do with $450 if you didn’t spend it on your daily jumpstart.

$450 could be a plane ticket for a vacation, a new smartphone, an annual subscription to the symphony, or any number of other opportunities that you may have wanted to fit into your budget but weren’t surehow.

Casual spending is one of the most difficult habits to change. I know from experience. When I had cash in my pocket, it seemed to disappear. At the end of the week, I had a difficult time remembering where that $20 bill went. I decided to change my casual spending habit and created aneasy 1-2-3 tracking method that I want to share with you:

  • 1.    Recognize my casual spending and set a limit perpay period.
  • 2.    Withdraw the casual spending amount once at thebeginning of the pay period. When it is gone, it is gone until the next payperiod.
  • 3.    Keep all receipts and review them at the end ofthe week as a reminder of where I spent the money.

By using this easy method of tracking my cash, I have becomemore mindful of my casual spending. After using this method for a year, I developed a better understanding of where my casual dollars go. This has worked well for me and now I usually have money left at the end of the week that I canput into my investment account. As a result of my new habit I have been able to increase my personal wealth. That’s what I call win-win.

Anne Lee
Director of Operations