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Innovative Connections
March 2012: Kids and Money
In This Issue
Upcoming Events
Tip of the Month:EITC
Misha's Advice: Managing Stress as a Parent
Allowances: A How to Guide
Resource Highlight: Fun Money Games for Kids
Book(s) of the Month: Financial Literacy Books for Kids!
IC$ is Offering IDAs!
Upcoming Financial Education
Where to get Your Taxes Done for Free
Sign up for ACH
For Our Borrowers
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Upcoming Events
Financial Household Resiliency Workshops

Every Wednesday from April 4th to April 25thnd from 5:30-7:30, 2025 Lloyd Center Mall, Portland, OR 97232

IDA Orientations


Tuesday, March 27th from 5:30-6:30pm

2025 Lloyd Center Mall, Portland, OR 97232 



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Last month, during America Saves Week, we spent time talking with our class participants, borrowers and partners about what savings means to them. For many people, this exercise brought them back to their first memory of saving. For me, I remember barely being able to reach my head above the counter to pay for a VHS  tape in coins that I had collected over the course of several months and stored in a pouch hidden from my brother.


Our money habits are formed at a very young age and much of what we learn is through imitation of the people around us. As a parent, you are your children's #1 money role model. Although it can be a difficult topic to breach, especially if times are tight, in this issue we urge you to talk to your kids about money, involve them in decision making (or at least the logic behind your decisions), use allowance as a budgeting tool, and engage them in fun activities that help them develop healthy money habits from the gecko. It can be hard to say "no" and set limits with your kids, but once they have a better idea of what it takes to run your household, chances are they will be more understanding (even if they don't outwardly show it!).


As important as it is to involve your kids in discussions and activities around money, a great first step is to focus on yourself. Get organized, create a budget and find some wiggle room in your budget for savings or debt payments if you can. The steps you take for yourself,will make a large difference in your kids' lives in the long run! If you are not sure how to take those first steps, come to our classes, starting the first week of April! Or, enroll in our IDA program to save for post secondary education! Or, merely call us to get matched up with a financial coach! We're here for you!


Happy reading!

Innovative Changes

Tip of the Month: Do You Qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit?tipofthemonth

Send us your tips! Each month we will collect your innovative money management tips -- these could be about resourceful ways you've saved money, thrifty activities you enjoy, helpful 
insights into living on a tight budget, etc. We will enter these tips into a pool and if selected, your tip will be featured in the next Innovative Connections and you will win a $20.00 Fred Meyer gift card.


                                eitc logo


Do you qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)? 


When you get your taxes done, be sure to ask your tax preparer if you qualify. EITC is a refundable credit for individuals and families who have low to moderate earned income. It:


a) can give you a refund even if you had no tax withholding, 


b) you must file a tax return to get it and have earned income (wages, tips, salaries); and, 


c) a greater credit given to those with qualifying children. 


Find out if you qualify today by contacting CASH Oregon: or call them at (503) 243-7765.

Misha's Advice Column: Managing Stess and Setting limits as a Parentmishacolumn


                kid crying

One of the hardest things to do as a parent is to deny your child anything, especially when they want something that you can't afford.  The best way to head this off is to set limits starting at a young age by showing them frugality and setting financial goals.  Unfortunately, not all of us had the forethought to do this with our kids, so now we suffer through the constant argument of "why not?" when we say no. 


I did a lot of research online and talking to other parents and the best advice I ever got was to sit down with your kids and talk to them. This alone can cause some stress, especially if you don't know what to say to them. 


The best thing you can do is keep it simple and honest, but don't overload them with too much information.  They really will understand, although the constant asking probably won't stop, but the arguments will go down.  That alone will take some of the stress away.


i say noIt is common to have trouble saying no to your kids when they want something, but it is important to set limits. Unfortunately, there is no way to say "No" and not feel bad. The best thing to do is be honest with them about why you can't afford to get the item right now.  But also tell them that maybe you can put it on a wish list for a holiday or birthday present.  Or, if they get an allowance, they can save for the item.  This will give them the opportunity to decide if they really want the item that badly, or if there is something else they want even more that they could save for.  Not only are you teaching your kids how to save but it also keeps the arguments down.


hug kidOne of my friends had a great idea for an item that her daughter wanted; she offered a matched-savings for the item.  Her daughter wanted an iPod but they couldn't really afford one right away.  Since she gave her daughter an allowance each week, she made a deal with her. If her daughter could save a portion of her allowance each week, then her mom would match that until they had enough to get her the iPod.  Not only did it teach her how to save, but it also set a goal for her that was short-term and attainable.


One really great site for ideas on how to talk to kids about money and dealing with the stress is  They cover many topics that affect children as well as their parents, including financial stresses. 


For more tips on how to talk to your kids about money issues and setting limits go to        


Written by Misha Staggs. If you have questions about managing stress and setting limits as a parent, Misha can be contacted at

Allowances: A How to Guide allowances


An allowance is a valuable tool when it comes to teaching your children about financial responsibility. A monthly or weekly allowance can help your child learn to manage a fixed amount of money, as well as teach them the importance of saving and a good work ethic. Here are a few tips on giving allowances!


  • Make sure the allowance is appropriate for the child's age. A 10-year-old's needs and expenses will be far less than a 15-year-old's. For older children, keep them involved in the decision by discussing what would be a fair amount.
  • For teenage children, have their allowance include money for clothing, or a separate clothing allowance altogether. As clothing varies greatly in price, your child can learn to find bargains and choose when to save for more expensive items.
  • Have a set schedule for allowance (weekly, monthly, etc.) and stick to it. This allows your child to spend and save on a strict timeline.
  • Consider whether or not you want the allowance tied to household chores. It's important for children to help out around the house without needing the financial motivation to do so. However, having the allowance be contingent on certain household responsibilities can give them ownership and accountability over the money they receive because they've "earned it." Think about what would work best for you and your child.
  • Explain the importance of saving to your child and suggest that they put a portion of money away each month. If your child decides to save for a bigger purchase, give them an opportunity to earn extra money (mowing the lawn, raking leaves, etc). Working towards a big purchase will make the end result more gratifying.  

An allowance can help pave the way to a positive financial future. Giving your children an allotted amount of money puts the decision-making in their hands and teaches them the money management skills they'll need for later in life!

Written by Kathleen Ward
Resource Highlight: Fun Money Games for Kids!kidgames



Vampire and farm games are growing more popular with older children, but did you know they can help teach money management skills? The Doorways to Dreams Fund (D2D) created Financial Entertainment a free website where kids, teens, and adults can play free games that help the player develop money management skills. Although, there are games suitable for all ages, this is an especially great resource for teens. Here are their current games:


In Refund Rush the player gives advice to characters on how to spend their tax refund, the better the advice the player gives the more points they score.



Celebrity Calamity features three stars who have a habit of overspending, as the player repairs the celebrities' financial situation their stardom begins to rise. This game is only available for iPhone and, but is free for a limited time, to download your copy visit


In Groove Nation five dance teams compete on a limited budget, see if you have what it takes to help them win while they stick to their budget. Play it at


Learning about retirement can be complicated, in Bite Club players must practice how to save for retirement, because after all vampires never die. To play visit


Lastly, award-winning Farm Blitz helps players learn about borrowing, finance charges, savings, and financial emergencies by managing a virtual farm. Play Farm Blitz at


All games are available free online, and select games also have mobile apps. To play a game or learn more visit 

Written by Cassie Russell

Book(s) of the Month: Financial Literacy Books for Kids!                           

bookwormDid you know some of your favorite childhood books teach great money management lessons? Finance in the Classroom a program developed by the Utah State Board of Education with many partners has put together a list of books that teach financial lessons. 


Visit find out which of your favorite characters made the cut. The list is organized by grade so you can be sure the content and reading level will match your child's needs. 


Written by Cassie Russell 

Innovative Changes Now Offering Individual Development Accounts for Post Secondary Education!IDAs


We are excited to announce that we will now be providing Individual Development Accounts (IDAs) to foster goal oriented savings. These matched savings are for those aiming to further their careers and household resiliency by pursuing higher education or vocational trainingThe IC$ IDA program offers a 3:1 match for those saving to attend an institution of higher education. Participants must meet IDA criteria specified below to be eligible to apply. Spots are limited and we expect they will go fast, sign up for the next orientation asap!


Who qualifies for an IC$ IDA?

  • Must be at least twelve years old
  • Household net worth must not exceed $20,000, excluding one vehicle and a primary home
  • Adjusted gross annual income of the household must not exceed one of the following by household size: 80% of area median income by county of residence, 80% of state median income, 200% of poverty.
  • Household must provide documentation of all earned income
  • Pre-savings: IC$ requires that applicants demonstrate their ability and commitment to the savings program by maintaining their own savings account and making deposits of at least $25 a month for two months in a row, without withdrawals.   
  • Potential Savers who are borrowers in IC$' loan program must be in good standing with their loan(s) in order to apply. Being in good standing means that their loan is not in default.
  • After attending the orientation, participants will be invited to apply based on IC$' current enrollment priorities.
If you meet the criteria above and are interested in learning more about our IDA program, sign up for an orientation today! The IDA orientations will be at 2025 Lloyd Center (on the 3rd floor between the food court and Nordstroms) on:
  • Tuesday March 27th from 5:30-7:30pm. 

To register for a orientation click here or call Misha at 503-249-5205.


For more information on our IDA program please visit our website or contact Talia,

Upcoming Financial Education: fined 



Upcoming Financial Household Resiliency (FHR) Workshops:


We can hardly believe that our Spring FHR classes are fast approaching! 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/


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.  


Where to get Your Taxes Done for Freeotherarticle 

There's no reason to pay to get your taxes done when there are several FREE options out there equipped with volunteers who have passed stringent requirements in order to help you do your taxes!

Check out these programs:
CASH Oregon, in conjunction with AARP, can help most tax payers.  See the Frequently Asked Questions for who qualifies, where to go for help, and other pertinent questions.  A list of sites where you can sit down with someone and they will fill out your return based on information you provide can be found at: 


Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VICA) and Tax Counseling for the Elderly are programs for low income (maximum AGI of $49,000).  Both CASH Oregon and AARP coordinate with these programs and may refer you to one or the other.  Cash Oregon's number is 502-243-7765, and AARP's number is 888-227-7669. 


Tax Credit FormsThe military has a strong VITA Program. The Armed Forces Tax Council consists of the tax program coordinators for the Army, Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard. The AFTC oversees the operation of the military tax programs worldwide, and serves as the main conduit for outreach by the IRS to military personnel and their families.  Call 800 TAX 1040 for more information on a AFTC/VITA site for the military.


Resources compiled by Roger Metzler

We Can ACH Your Loan Payments! ach                             

You can have IC$ automatically withdraw funds from your bank account to make your loan payment.This is called Automatic Clearing House (ACH) and is an electronic network that allows you to set up regular withdraws of your loan payments that gets sent to our account. If you would like to sign up for this, please fill out the form on attached here and send or fax it back to us (please do not email for security reasons). ACH is a good idea if you have a bank account and a reliable balance in your account on your monthly loan due date. If this does not fit you, ACH is not the best option.  If you have any questions, as always, feel free to give us a call: 503-249-5205.

For Our Borrowers

Money treeAre You Receiving Your Payment Reminders?

If you chose to receive your payment reminders by email, make sure that they are coming to your inbox and not your junk mail. If you would like to change the way that you receive reminders (by mail, by email, or by phone call) let us know! Call Misha at 503.249-5205.

How to Make Your Loan Payment
  • You can mail your payment by check or money order to: Innovative Changes, 4610 N. Trenton St., Portland, OR 97203 or 2011 Lloyd Center, Portland, OR 97232.
  • You can drop off your payment (check, money order or cash) at the New Columbia Opportunity Center Front Desk- Mon- Fri, 8am-5pm    
    • The front desk person has envelopes and is authorized to collect payments on our behalf if we are not in. If you are paying in cash and need change, you must contact Talia in advance to arrange a meeting time.    
  • You can drop off your payment (check, money order or cash) at the Lloyd Center, 3rd Floor, Suite 2011 (2011 Lloyd Center Mall, Portland, OR 97232) Mon-Fri, 9am-5pm or drop it through our mail slot on other days/times. 
  • You can also pay via pay pal by following directions on our website here. Please note, it asks you to fill in a donation amount, but this is not a donation, it will go towards your loan payment.             

We Are Here to Help!  


Are you having trouble making your payment this month, or afraid that it might be a little late? Let us know! We understand that unexpected events and expenses can make it hard to keep your finances on track, and Innovative Changes wants to be there for you in such cases. Innovative Changes is flexible and willing to work with our borrowers to satisfy loan obligations, and in return we ask for honest and timely communication. Remember, if you know your payment is going to be late, let us know ahead of time and we might be able to avoid charging a late fee, or sending out a late notice.