Tackling Your Student Loans
Saturday, June 9th at the Kenton Library from 12:30-1:30pm.
Monday, June 18th from 5:30-6:30pm
2025 Lloyd Center Mall
Good in the Hood
June 22-23 at Lillis-Albina Park- come visit our table or volunteer with us!
Back to School Budgeting
Tuesday, July 10th, 6:30-7:30pm at the Albina Library
Tuesday, July 17th from 5:30-6:30, 2025 Lloyd Center Mall
Thursday, August 16th 6-7pm, 2025 Lloyd Center Mall
|Stay tuned for our June Innovative Connections Issue on:|
Keep Your Credit in Good Standing
|For Past Issues of Innovative Connections|
In our classes, coaching sessions and discussions among each other, we have informally concluded that food is the hardest thing to track. From lunches, to snacks, a coffee here and there, to weekly trips to the grocery store, there is a lot to keep tabs on. Food is such a hard to define category in our budgets because spending can vary from day to day, week to week or season to season. And, it's not only important to think about what your spending on food, but what you're spending it on, how you are budgeting the food itself and whether you are getting what you pay for in terms of sustenance in the food you buy. However, don't let this overwhelm you!
Eating should be enjoyable right? Whatever and however you choose to feed yourself and your family, in this issue of Innovative Connections we aim to give you ideas of how to do so in a cost-effective yet healthy and enjoyable way. Our tip of the month discusses methods for eating well and saving money too and Misha's monthly column looks deeper into the ongoing saga of fast food vs home cooked food to figure out which is a bigger bang for your buck!
Especially during summer, food may be more of an issue with kids out of school. Take advantage of free summer activities and resources, including the free summer lunch program! If your budget is especially tight, you may want to look into freeing up some room by accessing emergency food resources. There are food assistance programs in almost every neighborhood in Portland and they are more of a sure bet than energy or other kinds of assistance which may be low at this time of year.
Also, if you have some free time, come to our classes! We have some great new seminars on Bankruptcy and Retirement coming up in July and August. Read below for more information and come join us!
Tip of the Month: Eat Well AND Save Money!
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.
Trying to save money on your food bill doesn't have to mean that you don't eat well. The following tips should help you both save money and ensure that you eat nutritious, healthy meals.
Planning ahead is one of the most important steps. Try to sit down, preferably at a regular time each week, to plan out your shopping list.
- Take stock of what you already have in the cupboards so that you don't overbuy
- Make a detailed shopping list based on exactly what meals you are going to have that week
Healthy Food is often Cheaper Food
Eating healthier foods can actually save you money. Savings can come from reducing portion sizes and spending less on high-calorie foods like sodas, bakery items and chips. These usually add calories but little nutritional value.
- Try to buy healthy alternatives. Sodas and flavored drinks can be replaced by sparkling water with a dash of 100% fruit juice. Fruit and low-fat frozen yogurt should be no more expensive than cakes and cookies.
- Buy produce in season. Food in season is priced to sell. It will be much cheaper than other non-seasonal items
- Think about frozen, canned and dried foods. They are equally nutritious to fresh food but may be less expensive
- Save on protein foods. Substitute inexpensive vegetarian sources such as beans, eggs and tofu for more expensive fish, meat and poultry.
Look Out for Bargains
If (and only if) they fit in with your planned shopping list, then look out for bargains. Use coupons from newspapers and circulars. Look out for 'buy one get one free' offers. Stock up on staples (rice, pasta etc) when they are on sale.
- Keep your eyes open for coupons and offers but make sure they fit in with you weekly plan. Don't get drawn in to an offer and then find you don't make use of it.
- Look up and down the shelf. Stores often place the most expensive items at eye-level!
Cut Down on Eating Out
Eating out, even if it is just a sandwich or a coffee, is more expensive than preparing food at home. Make your own lunches or snacks at home and take them with you!
- Prepare a sack lunch for your children or yourself before you go to school or work. It also means you can control all the ingredients. You can use up leftovers or make a sandwich, salad or wrap. Add cheese or fruit. If you do add a treat, don't buy expensive individual portions at the supermarket, buy larger bags and take out and wrap your portion.
Waste Not Want Not
Think about how you are going to use leftovers rather than throwing them away.
- When you sit down to plan your weekly meals, think beyond the first use of a food item. For example, the leftovers from a roast chicken on one day can be the basis of a second meal later in the week (or a sandwich filling for lunch).
Buy Generic Brands
Consider buying store brands rather than more expensive national brands. There will often be very little difference between them in taste.
Buy and Cook in Bulk
As long as you are going to use the items, then buying in bulk can save money. Be aware that buying larger sizes of food items may not always save money, however. Check the unit price on the shelf tag or carry a calculator. Cooking in bulk can also save both money and time. Prepare a large batch of, for example, chilli and freeze half of it ready for one of next week's meals.
And finally - don't shop hungry or with the kids. Have a snack before you go and shop alone if you really plan to stick to that shopping list!
Written by Helen Hebron
|Emergency Food Resources |
With the rising cost of gas, food prices are also increasing making it harder for many families to afford the food they need. Here are a couple of food resources if you or someone you know needs assistance.
Fresh Exchange Program: Although not technically an emergency food resource, the Fresh Exchange Program can be a great tool no matter what your budget is. The Portland Farmers Market (PSU, Pioneer Courthouse Square, Shemanski Park, Buckman, Northwest, King and Kenton) will match every dollar you spend in food stamps, dollar-for-dollar. The limit is $7 per week, but that totals to around $30 per month! It is a great way to support local businesses and get more healthy foods in your diet. To find out more about the program visit the Fresh Exchange website at: http://www.portlandfarmersmarket.org/programs-and-services/snap-participants/.
Food pantries can be a great resource. Portland has a wealth of options, since we couldn't cover them all here we tried to locate one within each part of town. For a complete list of food resources or to find the food pantry nearest you dial 211 from a landline or 866-698-6155 from a cell phone. Or visit 211 on the web at 211.org. Please call before you visit to check hours, ensure you meet eligibility criteria, and have any necessary identification with you.
Portland's Westside- Neighborhood House Emergency Food Box Program: Neighborhood House has several locations throughout Portland with a variety of services and is also home to the largest food pantry program on the west side. You must live in an eligible zip code and have proof or address (Driver's License, or a piece of mail with a photo ID) to receive a food box. Neighborhood House also offers rental assistance and other programs so be sure to ask if you qualify for additional services when you are there. To learn more visit: http://www.nhpdx.org/WhatWeDo/familiesinneed.html.
North Portland - Sunshine Division: Sunshine Division provides food boxes Monday through Friday from 9:30-11:30 and 12:30-3:30. In addition to being a great resource for food, they also provide clothing assistance. For more information call 503-823-2102 or visit: http://www.sunshinedivision.org/about.php.
Southeast Portland- FISH: FISH Emergency Services provides food boxes, but be sure to call first to check their schedule. In order to qualify you must live in Multnomah County west of 92nd or in Clackamas County. In addition to being a resource for food they also provide other emergency services for utilities, rent, and prescriptions dependent on funding. To find out more call 503-233-5533 or visit: http://www.fishemergencyservice.org/.
In addition to food boxes Portland has a variety places to get free meals. For help finding a meal resource near you call 211.
Written by Cassie Russell-Rupar
|Schools Out!: Summer Resources for Kids |
If you have kids, like me, you may dread the last day of school. Especially if you are on a budget and used to the school feeding your children one or two meals a day. The hardest months for my budget are usually during extended school breaks. This means that you are going to have to do some pre-planning for your budget during these months, especially during the summer.
The food budget isn't the only thing that is going to change either. Now you have to find things for them to do all summer long. Where do you even start looking? Check with your child's school. They usually have a lot of resources for summer programs for your children in your area, including summer lunch programs. If you haven't already checked with your child's school, it's not too late. Just check out the Portland Public School website. They have all kinds of resources for summer activities, summer childcare, and schedules for free summer lunches.
The summer lunch program is free for all children that are healthy, they have locations all over Portland, and some locations even have breakfast. Mom and dad can also go too. Adults are $4 each or you can bring your own lunch and make a picnic out of it with the kids. Check out the schedule here: http://www.pps.k12.or.us/departments/summer-programs/3932.htm for the different locations. This program runs June 18th through August 24th, and lunch is from 12pm to 1pm first come first serve.
For other activities that are either cheap or free check out http://portlandonthecheap.com/ . They always have things listed that are fun and cheap to do with the family. You can also sign up for the weekly newsletter that keeps you updated on current activities for the upcoming week. They also have links to other great websites for cheap and easy things to do with your family. You can also check into summer day camps at your local community center.
Have an awesome summer!!
Written by Misha Staggs
|Misha's Advice Column: Fast Food vs Home Cooked Meals
Is home cooked food cheaper than fast food? According to the New York Times it can cost two to three times more to feed a family of four at a fast food restaurant than eating a home cooked meal. I learned the hard way that eating out every day over the course of a week amounted to enough money to feed my family of three for two weeks at home. Personally, I have never been a huge fan of cooking, but the more I did it, the more zen-like it became. It also made smaller dents in my wallet.
But what if you have a hectic schedule? Okay, that one is a bit more difficult, but it can still be done. This just means that you will have to take some time on your days off to just cook and freeze your food a week or two in advance. One of the biggest time savers I do is to pre-cook almost all of the meals and freeze them in portions that are easy to re-heat in the microwave or the oven. Either way, there is no prep involved in re-heating a meal for dinner.
The tricky part is budgeting the food for the next couple of weeks or so. You will actually have to sit down and plan your meals. The best place to start is look at what you already have in your cupboards. You will be surprised by what you have. There is a great website called www.allrecipes.com , where you can input the ingredients that you have, and it will spit out all kinds of ideas for the ingredients that you have. And, no, you do not have to register to use it. But, if you do register, you can also create a shopping list from those recipes right there on the website.
The best part of eating home-cooked meals: they are healthier. Whether or not you get organic, at least you know what is in your food. Do you know what is really in your cheeseburger from the local drive-thru?
For the good of your financial and physical health, incorporate cooking as a normal part of everyday life, with fast-food and take-out being a once in a while treat. You may end up craving those "treats" less and less and your cooking improves!
Written by Misha Staggs.
Financial Education Galore
Upcoming Financial Household Resiliency Workshops:
Our June series of FHR has started, but it's not too late to sign up today!
- Tuesday, June 19th 5:30-7:30 pm: Hands-On Banking
- Tuesday, June 26th 5:30-7:30 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 $15 for all four classes. Fee waivers are available for those who qualify. The next series is coming up in August!
Monthly Seminars and Events:
Tackling Student Debt
In this workshop participants will learn how to take an inventory of outstanding student loans, keep student loans in good standing, and create a manageable plan for repayment. Other topics of interest will include: the consequences of student loan default, how to rehabilitate student loans that are in default, the Income Based Repayment plan and its benefits, and the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program.
- Sunday, June 17th at the Kenton Library from 12:30-1:30pm.
Good in the Hood
Look for us in the information village at Good in the Hood on Saturday June 23rd. We will be holding mini-seminars throughout the afternoon so stop by and say hello! The weekend festival is June 22-24 at the Lillis-Albina Park located on N. Flint and Russell Streets.
Back to School Budgeting
Back to school time can be hectic. New routines, new teachers, new friends, new clothes: there is a lot of "new" to get used to. In this workshop on Back to School Budgeting we will go over tips and tools so that you can use the beginning of the school year as a time to reset, get organized and hone in on systems that will keep you and your household on track throughout the year. Budgeting is a key step to help you plan for unexpected expenses that come at the beginning, middle and end of the school year. Come to this workshop and start taking the steps that will lead to a more organized, prepared and enjoyable year!
Tuesday, July 10th at Albina Library 6:30 pm to 7:30 pm.
Join attorney Elizabeth Hallock and IC$ to discuss the basics of bankruptcy. When is a good time to file for bankruptcy? What are the different types of bankruptcy? How will this effect my credit in the long term? Gain access to resources and more at this informative seminar!
- Tuesday, July 17th, 2025 Lloyd Center Mall from 5:30-6:30
Join Financial Planner Jennifer de Thomas as she walks us through the basics of saving fro retirement. When is right to start saving? How do you start? Which plan is right for you? All these questions and more will be answered at this seminar!
- Thursday, August 16th, 2025 Lloyd Center Mall from 6-7pm
No registration required for seminar hosted at libraries. Please sign up for the Lloyd Center seminars by calling or emailing Misha at (503)-249-5205/ firstname.lastname@example.org.
|Innovative Changes Matched Savings Accounts for Post Secondary Education!
We are offer matched savings accounts for those pursuing higher education or vocational training! The IC$ matched savings or Individual Development Account(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?
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:
- Must be at least twelve years old
- Household net worth must not exceed $20,000, excluding one vehicle and a primary home
- Adjusted gross annual income of the household must not exceed one of the following by household size: 80% of area median income by county of residence, 80% of state median income, 200% of poverty.
- Pre-savings: IC$ 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.
- Monday, June 18th 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, email@example.com.
| We Can ACH Your Loan Payments! |
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|Are 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.