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Innovative Connections
July 2012: Building Positive Credit
In This Issue
Upcoming Events
Tip of the Month: Establishing Credit
Repairing Your Credit
Subtleties in the Credit Game
Build a Non-Traditional Credit History
Financial Education Galore!
Misha's Advice Column:Installment vs Revolving Credit
For Our Borrowers
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Upcoming Events
Bankruptcy 101

*Tuesday, July 17th, Lloyd Center Mall, 3rd floor, Suite 2025 5:30-6:30pm. 


Back to School Budgeting

*Friday, August 10th at the Troutdale Library from 12:00pm - 1:00pm

*Wednesday, August 29th, Lloyd Center Mall, 3rd floor, Suite 2025 5:30-6:30pm. 


Retirement 101

*Thursday, August 16th 6-7pm, 2025 Lloyd Center Mall


Tackling Student Debt

*Tuesday, September 25th, Suite 2010 6-7pm. 


Talleres sobre Estabilidad Financiera

*Cada miercoles el 25 de julio hasta el 8th de augosto, 5:30-7:30pm a Hacienda CDC, 5136 NE 42nd Ave, Portland


Financial Household Stability Workshops

*Every Tuesday, August 7-28 from 5:30-7:302025 Lloyd Center Mall

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In a class recently we asked, "what word comes to mind when you think of credit?" Answers ranged from fear, debt and foreclosure to opportunity, goals and stability. Credit can mean many different things depending on your experience with it. Without a standard place where everyone learns about the American credit system, many feel in the dark about how to handle credit. 


Whether your goal be renting an apartment, getting a cell phone, starting a business or buying a house, credit is a key instrument to help you get there. Having no credit can be just as much of a barrier as having poor credit. So for those of you who want to build your credit or merely learn more about what credit is and how it works, this issue of Innovative Connections is for you!


In our Tip of the Month, Landra lays out 3 easy steps for establishing credit for the first time. In the next article, Cassie goes through the steps to access you FREE credit report once a year and how to repair your credit. Emmy touches on how some non-financial events can effect your credit (or not effect it when you believe it might). Misha's column this month distinguishes between the two main types of credit: installment and revolving. And, Cassie reminds us that although lenders pull your credit to see if you are a reliable lender, there are other things that you should stay on top of- like rent and bills- that you can use as non-traditional indicators that you will be a responsible borrower/patron.


Also, we have some great seminars coming up, including a seminar on Bankruptcy (tomorrow), one on Retirement next month and several Back to School seminars so that you can start this school year off right. Check out all our seminars and workshops here


We hope that you are having a wonderful summer and happy reading!

Innovative Changes

Tip of the Month: Establishing Creditgasmileage                                 

 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.


credit cards

Not having a credit score has an impact on your life, from renting an apartment, to getting car insurance. If you do not have a credit score chances are you will pay higher rates or simply be denied in some cases. The good news is getting a credit score and maintaining it is possible. Here are a few suggestions for doing that:


Secured credit card - Apply for a secured credit card that allows you to make a deposit that serves as your credit limit. Make sure the card company reports your transactions to the credit bureaus so you can build credit and graduate to a regular, unsecured card. Innovative Changes has a partnership with Unitus Credit Union for secured cards- ask us about how you can get referred!


Retail Store-They usually come with some kind of perk, like 15% off your first purchase. The downside is that store cards charge high interest rates. So, if your goal is to build credit, consider opening up a retail account at a store where you already shop. If you get one, charge something small from time to time, but pay off your balance in full by the due date each month. If you do that, the interest rate doesn't matter because you're never charged interest when you pay it off completely by the due date.


Loan- Innovative Changes has a credit builder loan: This is a $150 loan with no money exchanged up front. There is a $25 application processing fee.  You make payments of $12.50 every month and we report to the credit bureaus that you have an active open line of credit with us. We will check in with you at 6 months and after 12 months (pulling your credit report and coming up with a plan to further build your credit). After a year, we will send you a check for what you paid us, $150, less the loan processing fee of $25.


No matter which method you choose, keep in mind that maintaining a good credit score is very important. While it may be tempting to apply for more than one line of credit, make sure you can afford the monthly payments and pay off your credit card every month.  


By Landra Glover

Repairing your Creditarticleone  

The average credit card debt for Oregonians is $10,773[1], which means that at least some of you might be interested in paying down debt and improving your credit score. Repairing credit is a process that takes time, but there are several things you can do to kick-start the process.


1. Pull Your Credit Report Annually: Every year you are entitled to a free credit report from each of the three credit bureaus (Experian, Equifax, and Transunion). You can pull that credit report online at There are many similar websites but is the only REALLY FREE source for scores from all three bureaus- if you hear a company has a song or they want your credit card information it probably isn't the correct website.


If you chose to do the process online most of the time you can get your reports right away- so be sure you can print or save them for future reference. Your credit report contains data the each of the three bureaus collect on you. When you borrow, say for a home, the company that owns your mortgage choses which bureaus to report to, they report how much you pay each month, how much you owe, and if you pay your bill on-time - so your credit reports might have slightly different information.


2. After you get your report check for errors. If you find anything on your report to be incorrect contact each of the bureaus directly to request they make a correction. Innovative Changes is happy to guide you through this process.


Invest Image

3. A note on credit scores: If you want to get your credit score you will have to pay. Each of the three bureaus and some additional companies have their own formula for how to calculate your score (a three digit number that is meant to predict how risky it is to give a loan to someone- the higher the score the less risk). Since each company has a different way of calculating your score and may not have the same information you could pay for three different scores and it is likely they will all be different. If you want to improve your credit for a loan- call the lender and ask what service they use for credit scores- it is likely that they will use FICO. But no matter why you want to improve your credit score- DO NOT OBSESS ON YOUR SCORE. Credit reports and scores don't always do what we would think it logical, so what is most important is to make the best financial decision for you and try to focus on the credit report.


4. Pay Bills on Time: As mentioned above each company that provides credit scores has a different way of calculating the score, but in general paying on time is the biggest portion of your score (35% of your FICO score). But paying on time isn't always easy. It may be helpful to sign up for auto-pay, use a calendar to list when bills are due, or use a money management tool like, which can help remind you when bills are due. It is all about finding a system that works for you. If you are having trouble paying bills on-time because the due date does not sync with a payday or you have other bills due on the same day some lenders will allow you to change your due date- but usually only if you aren't past due. This means you could move a bill from being due on the 1st to the 15th so it isn't due the same time as rent, but be sure to think about why you want to move the due date! If you are just trying to extend when a bill is due changing the due date won't fix the problem in the long term.


5. Prioritize Debt: After you have pulled your credit report you may be wondering where to start. When looking at paying down debt the first thing to do is make a budget! If you don't know what amount you can put toward debt repayment you can't get started. Once you have an amount in mind it is time to prioritize debt. It may be helpful to make a chart of all your debts so you can compare them on one page. It might be helpful to ask the following questions:

    • What is the interest rate? Is this higher or lower than my other debts?
    • Is the debt secured? (Is there something the lender can take- e.g. repossessing a car)
    • Is the debt being reported to 1, 2, or all 3 or the credit bureaus? Debts being reported to all three will affect your credit score more.


6. Get Help: Credit, credit reports, and credit scores can be difficult to understand. Innovative Changes can help you make a plan to establish, build, or repair credit so don't be afraid to ask- especially if you will be working directly with collection agencies- there are laws and rules that may help!


*Please note: none of the above was intended to be financial advice. Every persons' financial situation is unique. For options for your own particular situation please contact Innovative Changes.

[1] CFED's Assets & Opportunity Scorecard.



Written by Cassie Russell-Rupar 

Subtleties in the Credit Game articlethree


When it comes to credit, it is sometimes difficult to get a yes or no answer to the questions that you may have. Credit is like an Oregon winter, it operates in many shades of gray. However, despite the elusiveness of credit there are a few areas of our life that do affect our credit that we may be unaware of. If you are looking to maintain your credit, here are some thoughts to keep in mind so you can stay on top of your credit game.


Library Books

If you haven't gotten around to returning the seventh Harry Potter novel to your local library, and this mishap seems innocent enough, think again. In some cases the library can send the overdue charges for library books to collections. Even though the balance may be low, being reported to collections can seriously hurt your score.


Divorce and Break-Ups

Ending a relationship is no easy task and the emotional stress it causes us and our families is exhausting. It can be difficult to see past our immediate hurt and deal with the consequences of the break-up. When a couple opens up a joint account, a divorce or break-up doesn't mean that those accounts break-up as well. "The account remains on their credit report and remains their responsibility until it is paid and closed. And even then it won't be removed from their credit history," says Gerri Detweiler the Director of Consumer Education at All accounts that are closed and paid in full will stay on your report for seven years.


Unemployment Benefits

If you are one of the 8.4% of Oregonians in the State that is unemployed, you may be surprised to learn that being unemployed does not directly impact one's credit score because employment status is not a data element considered by a credit agency risk score. However, there may be an indirect impact on your credit score if your consumer behavior changes as a result of your loss of employment.   In addition, many lenders may have a policy rule to decline applications if an applicant cannot prove steady income. Because of that, you may find that it is difficult to open new lines of credit of while unemployed. If possible, try to keep your credit card balances low during your time of unemployment to not harm your score.


Written by Emmy Callero

Build a Non-Traditional Credit History! nontrad
filing system 
Did you know that rent, childcare, utilities, and medical debt only show on your credit report if you are behind? For most of us rent, childcare, and utilities are a large part of our budget. Some lenders will look at what is called "non-traditional credit history" to see if you pay the above expenses on-time. Keep voided checks and money order stubs to prove on-time payment. You can also request a credit reference letter, which your landlord or utility company may be familiar with. They will detail how you have handled your account with them. This can be helpful for those of us with a bruised credit score or who are still working on building credit for the first time.


As with any financial product be sure to evaluate secured credit cards and credit builder loans to decide what is right for you. Remember to look at interest rates, fees, and the amount your will be responsible for paying each month and in total. And never sign a contract you don't understand!


By Cassie Russell Rupar 

Financial Education Galorefined


apple We have several exciting seminars and events coming up this summer. If you find yourself with some free time or a hankering for financial knowledge, stop by one of our seminars, free financial empowerment clinics, financial household resiliency classes or stop in for a one-on-one coaching appointment!


Bankruptcy 101

Tuesday, July 17th, 2025 Lloyd Center Mall from 5:30-6:30pm   

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 your credit in the long term? Gain access to resources and more at this informative seminar!


Back to School Budgeting

Wednesday, August 29th, 2025 Lloyd Center Mall 5:30-6:30pm

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!


Retirement 101

Thursday, August 16th, 2010 Lloyd Center Mall 6-7pm

Join Financial Planner Jennifer de Thomas as she walks us through the basics of saving for retirement. When is the right time to start saving? How do you start? Which plan is right for you? All these questions and more will be answered at this seminar!


Tackling Student Loan Debt

Tuesday, September 25th, 2010 Lloyd Center Mall 6-7pm

Are past student loans getting in the way of enjoying life? Do you have trouble keeping track of your debt? Come to this seminar and start taking steps to deal with student loan 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.


Free Financial Empowerment Clinics: Save the dates!

September 15th 1-4pm at the Midland Library

October 6th time TBA at the Portland Building, 1120 SW 5th Ave

Have a question about retirement planning? Creating a will or long term financial plan for your family? Have you ever wanted to meet with a financial planner but can't afford one? Come to a financial empowerment clinic. At these clinics you get the chance to sit down with a professional, discuss whatever you want and receive pro-bono advice with no strings attached! There will also be workshops on budgeting, credit and saving and resources on other community programs and services that you can take advantage of!


No registration or fees required for seminars hosted at libraries. Please sign up for the Lloyd Center seminars and Financial Empowerment Clinics by calling or emailing Misha at (503)-249-5205/


Upcoming Financial Household Resiliency (FHR) Workshops:


We just finished our June series, but the financial education doesn't stop- not even for summer! We will be offering our 4-part series in English AND Spanish over the next 2 months- help us spread the word and sign up today! 


Talleres sobre Estabilidad Financiera

Cómo Llegar a Fin de Mes, miércoles el 18 de julio de 5:30-7:30 pm 

Ahorros y Presupuestos, miércoles el 25 de julio de 5:30-7:30 pm

Servicios Bancarios, miércoles el 1 de agosto de 5:30-7:30 pm

Introducción al Sistema de Crédito: Cómo obtenerlo, repararlo y protegerlo, miércoles el 8 de agosto de 5:30-7:30 pm                


Los talleres se llevarán a cabo en Hacienda CDC

5136 NE 42nd Ave Portland, OR 97218

Para registrar pónganse en contacto con Emilia Callero 503-249-5205


August Financial Household Resiliency Series

Tuesday, August 7th, 5:30-7:30 pm: Making Ends Meet

Tuesday, August 14th, 5:30-7:30 pm:   Budgeting and Saving 

Tuesday, August 21st 5:30-7:30 pm:  Hands-On Banking

Tuesday, August 28th 5:30-7:30 pm: Building, Repairing and Protecting Credit


These 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.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.  


To Register: visit our website or call or email Misha at (503)-249-5205/  

Misha's Advice Column: Installment vs. Revolving Creditmishascolumn            


You want to open a line of credit, but where do you start? First you need to know the different types of credit to establish. There are two main types: installment and revolving. Here we are going to discuss the differences between installment and revolving.



Installment credit is a line of credit that is paid in equal increments, usually monthly, including interest and fees with a predetermined ending date; such as a car loan, or a mortgage. They are often used for a large, occasional expense, not a re-occuring expense.  Installment loans are easier to account for in your budget because the payments are a fixed amount and they are for a set amount of time. It also depends on the item that you are using the loans for. If you are buying something large like a car or a house, the installment line of credit would be best. Each of those items will still have value and usefulness to you, even after you have paid them off 5 or 30 years down the line.



With a revolving line of credit, the borrower is extended a line of credit up to a certain amount, to draw from as he or she needs.  A revolving line of credit is often used to help people bridge a temporary shorfall in cash flow. Credit cards and some home equity lines of credit are considered revolving. There is not a set schedule for the complete repayment of principal, but if you carry a balance you will pay interest expense on it. It is best to pay more than the minimum payment on revolving lines of credit, or else you could be spending alot on interest expense and paying on it until the cows come home. 


The amount of credit you are using as compared to the amount available to you accounts for 30% of your credit score, so try to keep atleast 50-70% of your line available to you at all times.


If you like the idea of having constant access to a line of credit but are kind of leary of it, find out if your bank offers a secured credit card. 


All in all, they are both good lines of credit, but it really depends on you and what you will be comfortable with. But as far building your credit, it is good to have a mix of both if you feel ready for it. Having revolving credit for a long period of time also helps build your credit because the average age of credit lines accounts for 15% of your credit score.


Written by Misha Staggs. 

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 2013 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 2013 (2013 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.