I still have vivid memories of making my first deposit into my very own savings account at the Lexington Savings Bank. I was with my mother, and my passbook felt weighty and secure. It was birthday money. I was young, maybe seven, and that inaugural deposit was later joined by money earned doing extra chores, gifts from aunties, and occasionally, my allowance. It was only years later that I realize that you can actually withdraw from the savings account too!
As we celebrate America Saves Week, starting February 19th, take a moment to recall the first time you saved some money. Most of us grew up with the practice of saving first before we bought a special purchase. It's only in the last few decades that credit cards have really changed our spending, and savings, habits. From double digit savings rates in the mid 1980s to our current rate of about 4.5%, we face real challenges in meeting the five personal savings strategies set out by America Saves, www.americasaves; pay off high cost debt, have an emergency savings fund, take advantage of workplace retirement accounts, set up auto save deductions from your checking account, and buy a home and pay it off.
Many of our participants and borrowers at Innovative Changes are working to meet short-term financial needs. Our budgeting workshops help people find and plug "leaks" in their spending so they can make ends meet. Our responsible, small dollar consumer loans help people managing housing related expenses and pay off high cost debt. Now, with the launch of our individual development account program for post secondary education, we can help people address the income side of their budget, as the expectation is that higher education will lead to a better paying job.
Post secondary education is the main avenue for economic mobility for people of low income. A better paying job will help a family build savings. Being able to fund a significant portion of their education with savings, rather than debt, is an important step towards establishing a foundation for household stability. As Ben Franklin, the great master of wit, frugality and industry said, "An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest."
In this newsletter, we also bring you an spotlight of Carmina Lass, our Financial Education and Loan Program Manager. She is moving away from Portland and will be sorely missed by Innovative Changes. With that said, we are hiring for two positions, which you can read about here.
And remember, it's never too late to start saving. Read about how Linda started saving in our client story this month here. Our financial coaches are happy to meet with anyone who would like assistance in creating a savings action plan!
All the best,
As part of a collaborative partnership with
Community Vision, Inc.and CASA of Oregon, Innovative Changes manages the Oregon Accessibility Loan Fund (OALF) for the purchase of assistive technology. Currently in its pilot phase, borrowers are referred by Community Vision and their application is put before a loan committee consisting of a representative from IC$, CASA and Community Vision.
In December, we disbursed our OALF loan to Linda G. Linda had a clear purpose for her loan: for years, she has wanted a wheelchair accessible van "because I didn't like taking the cab/lift and I've wanted a van for a long time to get around and be able to go on trips," says Linda.
It been about a month since Linda purchased her van and she says that it has helped her "get around more than I was able to on the bus and using the lift. It lets me be more spontaneous instead of having to schedule trips a day or more ahead of time."
Through the loan application process, Linda spent time making a detailed budget. Linda remarks that all this budgeting "helped me to learn how to save money by cutting back on things I didn't really need."
Linda has adjusted her budget in order to make her loan payments and even save some money for future goals: "I'd like to save for a road trip to Washington, D.C. to see the Vietnam War Memorial and see my brother's name on it."
|Spotlight: Carmina Lass
In this newsletter, with sadness, we announce that Carmina Lass, our Financial Education and Loan Program Manager will be leaving Innovative Changes in the beginning of March. Carmina is moving back to her homeland Colorado, to be closer to the rest of her family. Carmina has been with IC$ for over two years and has played a pivotal role in shaping and guiding IC$ to the place that it is today. Her passion, pragmatism and creativity will be missed around the office and among her clients! Keep reading to hear Carmina's reflections on her time at IC$ and future speculations...
What drew you to working at IC$?
I have always been interested in microfinance and economic empowerment as strategies to alleviate poverty in the world. Innovative Changes offered me an opportunity to engage with these issues on a practical level, within my community. With my experience as an educator and facilitator, I was also drawn to IC$' high-touch model of lending and financial education. Ultimately, I was really excited to be a part of such a compelling and unique new program!
What was it like when you first joined IC$ staff?
When I joined IC$ in late 2009, we were in the final stages of planning and preparation before opening for business in early 2010. It was an exciting time! In the first few months that I worked with IC$, I spent a lot of time getting to know the community organizations and their staff who would become our referring partners, and sharing information about our programs. It was so wonderful to meet so many amazing people during this time, and to learn about all of the remarkable work they are doing in the community.
Looking back, it is incredible to see how far IC$ has come! In our first year we were operating primarily from our New Columbia office, gradually refining our systems and programs as we started to make loans and learn more about the communities that we serve. Some of our first clientele are still participating in our programs today; I have really enjoyed following their progress alongside the growth of IC$.
Do you have a favorite anecdote from workshops/coaching/etc?
I have collected so many wonderful experiences of working with participants, partners and staff of IC$, it is impossible to choose a favorite! Some of my most memorable experiences have come out of facilitating our Financial Household Resiliency workshops. I love the feeling of shared experience that is created during the workshops as we discuss our common struggles, stressors and feelings surrounding money and household finances. During one of the very first FHR series that I facilitated, two of our participants were a couple. Throughout the workshops, they each discovered their own strengths related to money management: one was really good at finding the best deals and savings on groceries, clothes and other shopping, while the other person was really good at tracking their spending and monitoring their cash flow. It was a great balance within their partnership that they had not identified before. When the workshops ended, the couple shared with me that they had never spoken very openly about money amongst themselves before the workshops. That experience really has stuck with me, reminding me that just opening up a space for an honest conversation about some of these issues can be a powerful first step towards taking control of one's financial future.
|Financial Education Galore!
Tax Time 101: Be Prepared!
Monday, March 5th 2012, 6:30-7:30,Midland Library
Wednesday, March 7th 2012, 6:30-7:30,Kenton Library
Please join IC$ staff and trained CASH Oregon volunteers for an hour packed full of information to get you ready to do taxes and ensure you are making informed choices when you are filing for and receiving your refund. Topics will include: An overview of taxes and the mechanics of filing your taxes, available tax credits, what documents you will need when filing, where to do your taxes for free or low cost and how to stay in control of your paycheck, refund and expenses throughout the year!
These seminars are free and open to the public!
*These seminars are part of our ongoing monthly seminar series covering special topics of interest to our clients. We are now partnering with the Multnomah County Library to provide these seminars to a broader audience. For more information about our seminars visit our website here.
Upcoming Financial Household Resiliency Workshops:
We are nearing the end of our winter series of FHR classes and are pleased to announce our Spring FHR classes. Sign up soon, spots may go fast! Here is the schedule:
Spring FHR Class Schedule:
Wednesday, April 4th 5:30-7:30 pm: Making Ends Meet
Wednesday, April 11th 5:30-7:30 pm: Budgeting and Saving
Wednesday, April 18th, 5:30-730 pm: Hands-On Banking
Wednesday, April 25th, 5:30-730 pm: Building, Repairing and Protecting Credit
Our classes will be held near our Lloyd Center office on the 3rd floor of the Lloyd Center Mall (between Nordstroms and the food court), 2025 Lloyd Center.
To Register: visit our website or call or email Misha at (503)-249-5205/ email@example.com.
The classes and the seminar are open to everyone. The classes can be taken individually or as a series. They are $5 each and $15 for all four classes. Fee waivers are available for those who qualify.
|Innovative Changes is now Offering IDAs for Post-Secondary Education!
The vision of a three legged stool is often used to signify that something has a stable base. If you sit a little bit off center on the stool, you won't fall over, and you'll have time to right yourself and get back in balance.
Just like that stool, household financial resiliency needs to be set on a stable foundation of financial capability, good credit, and savings. To date, Innovative Changes has been helping people build their financial capability with in touch education, workshops, seminars and coaching sessions. Our responsible small dollar loans and credit building program help people establish solid credit behavior and grow their credit scores. Our education and loans have always had a savings component, from the latest budgeting tool to receiving a security holdback when a loan is paid off. Now, we are thrilled to offer a matched savings product to help people pay for post secondary education.
To mark America Saves week, Innovative Changes announces that we will be providing Individual Development Accounts (IDA) to foster goal oriented savings throughout our participant base and the community. Through funds awarded by Neighborhood Partnerships and CASA of Oregon, we will provide matched savings for those aiming to further their careers and household resiliency by pursuing higher education. We are also partnering with Mercy Corps Northwest to provide the financial education for their IDA savers from the Re-entry Transitions Center.
The IC$ IDA program offers a 3:1 match for those saving to attend an institution of higher education. Our program is the only education IDA open to the public (although we suspect our spots will go fast) and participants must meet IDA criteria specified on our website as well as attend an IDA orientation to be eligible to apply. The IDA orientations will be on Wednesday, March 21st from 5:30-7:30pm and Tuesday March 27th from 6-8pm. To register for one of these orientations click here. For more information on our IDA program please visit our website or contact Talia, firstname.lastname@example.org.
|America Saves is Here!
Annie A., women's borrower group participant, with her one word of what savings means to her.
Innovative Changes is embracing America Saves Week in a full fledged manner. We try to talk about saving as much as possible with our participants, but this week we will take these discussions public! Stay tuned to our facebook page and twitter (see side column on right for icons to follow us!). We will be asking our participants and borrowers what savings means to them, interviewing participants, partners, staff and board about saving and more! To participate, give us a call: 503-249-5205. We'd love to hear your first memory of saving, a favorite thing you've saved for, your saving tips, aspirations and more!
We are hiring!
Innovative Changes is hiring for two positions: a full time Financial Capability and Loan Program Manager, as well as a Spanish speaking part time Loan Program Coordinator. Please see our website for the job descriptions and more information on how to apply! Our first review of applications begins February 20th.
You Can Help!
You care about helping people achieve and maintain household stability. Now you can join our efforts at Innovative Changes as we expand our reach to serve more clients. Your generous donation will be put to good use!
Be a credit builder:
- $50 covers the cost to deliver and manage a credit builder loan so a borrower can establish and/or increase their credit score.
- $150 provides the capital for credit builder loan for an individual to establish or increase their credit score. (Your donation can be made in monthly installments of just $12.50).
Be a stabilizer:
- $75 covers the cost to deliver and manage a responsible, small dollar installment loan so a borrower can work through a short-term financial need in a manner that sets them up for success.
- $600 provides the capital for a responsible, small dollar installment loan so a borrower can take control and move forward to improving his or her situation. (Just $50 per month).
Be an asset builder:
- $25 sponsors an individual to attend our 4-part household resiliency financial education class on cash flow planning, budgeting, saving, banking, and credit.
- $120 covers 6 months of intensive individual financial coaching for one family.
- $150 Funds the costs of developing and delivering a monthly financial seminar on topics such as tax time preparation, consolidating student loans and talking to your kids about money.
- $500 Enables us to reach more clients with more workshops, coaching and seminars.
Monthly giving program:
Whatever amount you can afford, you can set it up for monthly automatic payments to ease your cash flow. If you have bill pay service with your bank you can set up Innovative Changes to receive regular monthly payments. If you prefer, we can process a monthly ACH transaction on your behalf. Contact us at email@example.com to set up your monthly giving program.
Thank you for your support!
As of 2/17/2012
323, averaging $471.44 for a total of $152,278.20
Revolved amount: $107,323.85
Repaid loans: 137
Financial education clients: