As we marked America Saves Week I was struck by some extremely disturbing research on wealth in America. If you have not seen the you tube video on wealth inequality in America, you need to. To understand this better, look to the Institute on Assets and Social Policy at Brandeis University for an analysis on the racial wealth gap. They found that the gap between white and African-American families' wealth has nearly tripled, since 1984. The major driver of this gap is the number of years of homeownership, followed closely by differences in household income.
In honor of Women's History Month, let's remember that women, especially women of color, lag far behind anyone else on the wealth scale, and many of them can't even get on the wealth escalator. The Woodstock Institute just released their research that finds significant disparities in access by women across race and ethnic groups to mortgages for purchasing and refinancing their homes as compared to men. So, many women are being excluded from the the number one driver and escalator of wealth, homeownership. Ok, let's look at income. We already know women only earn 77 cents on every male dollar. Single women caring for children have to stretch those 77 cents further, leaving less surplus for savings. Women with low paying jobs are less likely to have employer provided retirement accounts or even something as simple as paid sick leave (thank you City of Portland!). So it should not surprise us that research by Mariko Chang and reported on the Huffington Post by Dedrick Muhammad shows that the median wealth for a single woman of color is pennies on the dollar for a single man of color, and fractions of pennies to the dollar for single white women or men.
Surprised, no, frustrated, yes. We are fortunate that we can channel our frustration into the work we do every day. It is not by chance that over 70% of our clients are women and over 60% of our clients are members of communities of color. We work for economic justice. Serving people who are excluded from mainstream financial services is our mission. Helping them access affordable responsible loans, plug spending leaks, take control of their credit and save for higher education is our pushback to the current economic reality. What is yours? There are so many ways to get involved. We welcome your involvement in our work. You can check out different volunteer opportunities on our web site. At the State level, join us as we support the work of Neighborhood Partnerships and our allies for our asset building agenda. Does tax reform get you excited? Our friends at CFED have sponsored a bipartisan policy forum on tax reform and savings, because now is the time to right-side up the tax code. CFED's Upside Down Report reveals that the tax code needs to change from one that rewards millionaires an average of $96,000 a year in federal subsidies and tax breaks for their efforts to save, while the bottom 60% of tax payers receive less than $5 apiece. What a great double bang for your buck, eliminate the current inefficient tax incentives and replace them with efficient incentives that will actually help the asset-poor majority.
I'll close with a more upbeat story that keeps me grounded in our work. One of our borrowers recently sent in her monthly loan payment and the check was made out to Positive Changes. I could not have said it better - here's to positive changes for us all.
All the best,
At first, Innovative Changes was a detour on Sonja's route to homeownership. Sonja was working with the Portland Housing Center to become a homeowner when she had some costly medical expenses not covered by her insurance. Savings and a work loan didn't quite cover the bill, so she came to IC$ for an opportunity loan to make up the rest. At the loan appointment, Sonja sat down with Carmina, made a budget and was able to see beyond this road bump in her expenses. She paid off the loan without a hitch and continued making ends meet on a tight budget every month until her car was in need of repairs. This irregular expense threw her budget off balance and jeopardized her employment stability: without a car she could not commute to her job. Again, Sonja came in for a clear purpose, continued to refine her budget to make room for savings to cover future emergency expenses, and diligently paid off her second loan with IC$.
All was going well for Sonja, she was still sticking to a strict budget with little room for perks and managing to save for retirement and emergencies-not a small feat-when an ad flashed on her TV. It was for Mobiloans. On its site, Mobiloans says that it's "the new, more flexible way to borrow emergency cash" and urged costumers to "use it to avoid costly bank overdraft fees and payday loans."Although Sonja did not have an emergency, the thought of taking a breather from her strict budget and a month's worth of bills paired with the persuasive and comforting self advertising of Mobiloans, resulted in her clicking yes" on the Mobiloans website. Sonja prides herself on being able to pay her bills each month so the payments seemed affordable at $100 a month for a $500 loan, it would be paid off in no time and, Mobiloans advertised no interest. What Sonja didn't realize is that these $100 payments would be taken out of each of her paychecks costing her $200 a month. Each time Sonja made a payment, $75 of the payment went towards a fixed finance charge. Because of this charge and others, by the time Sonja came to us at Innovative Changes, she had paid Mobiloans almost $500 yet still owed over $500 on the loan.
Sonja admits that she realized the loan was a bad idea before she did it, but the pull towards instant gratification outweighed her intuition in the moment. Sonja was able to take out a loan with Innovative Changes to pay off her Mobiloan in full and extricate them from her life. This experience not only has made Sonja a strong advocate against shady online lending, but helped inform Innovative Changes staff that we should be on the lookout for unfair lenders like Mobiloans. In the past couple months a few clients have come in thinking about taking out a Mobiloan or had already taken one out and we have been able to steer them away from this lender. In addition, with Sonja's help, Innovative Changes has filed a complaint with the Department of Consumer and Business Services to issue a warning against Mobiloans.
In the meantime, Sonja has gotten back on track and working towards her goals of saving and eventually owning a home. She is working with an Innovative Changes coach, Rita, to keep her accountable to her goals and talk through financial decisions. Of her sessions with Rita she says, "they are a lifeline. Just when I feel that my everyday financial struggle is going to never end, there she is to remind me that the light at the end of the tunnel is getting slowly brighter." Through her work with IC$ and with Rita Sonja says that she says that "I stick to my budget better. I am trying to stay home more and not spend extra money on silly things. It is hard for me since I live alone and get bored, but in order to get on firmer ground financially, I have to do it. When I see Rita, she kind of makes it easier for me to see that this is how to get things together." To other IC$ clients she advises to "be as truthful and straight forward as possible. They can't help you if you aren't. Pay attention to the advice offered and use as much of it as fits in your situation."
Sonja's enthusiastic support of our work at Innovative Changes is motivating. She was able to turn a bad situation into a learning experience for herself and others. Her determination to make things work is inspiring and we hope to continue to see her achieve success in her goals!
|Volunteer Spotlight: Rita Nuckolls
Meet Rita Nuckolls, one of Innovative Changes most versatile volunteers. Rita has been volunteering with IC$ since we started our volunteer program two years ago. Since then, she has pioneered our tax time education waiting room workshops, infusing lessons on saving, credit and budgeting into the minds of unsuspecting tax payers, coached and made a difference in two coachee's lives (for more on that, read Sonja's story above), taught our Making the Most of Tax Time workshop in several locations around the city to ensure that Portlander's have the information to utilize tax time as an opportunity to get the credits they deserve, file for free and use their refund strategically, all the while simultaneously volunteered for CASH Oregon, doing taxes for residents of New Columbia and working to get her CPA certification. Needless to say, Rita is a busy woman, but we were able to catch her to get her insights from volunteering.
What drew you to volunteer with Innovative Changes?
I minored in education during college, and really wanted a way to combine my financial knowledge and my education background. Innovative changes lets me combine the two while helping people.
What different types of work have you done with Innovative Changes and CASH?
With CASH, I've volunteered for two years as a tax preparer. For Innovative Changes, I've given presentations in the tax time waiting rooms, presented tax time education workshops, and one-on-one coaching.
What's been your favorite?
One-on-one coaching is definitely my favorite. Each client is different, but at the end of the session, you know they have more tools to use, or have gotten encouragement that they needed.
What type of things do you feel like you have accomplished through your coaching relationships? What have you learned?
I think confidence-building is my most important accomplishment. Most clients have the answers; they just need support to find them. Providing a framework that allows people to manage their finances even after the coaching has ended is always my goal.
What do you do when you are not being an awesome volunteer?
I love hiking, camping, and traveling. I also enjoy dancing, cooking, and gardening.
Link to Rita's Spotlight on our website
|Financial Education Galore:
Our March series is thoroughly underway and May classes are already starting to fill up. We just schedule our next round of Spanish FHR classes and we have some great seminars coming to a library near you! Sign up while you have the chance!
Upcoming Financial Household Resiliency (FHR) Workshops:
Talleres sobre Estabilidad Financiera
Cómo Llegar a Fin de Mes, miércoles el 3 de abril de 5:30-7:30
Ahorros y Presupuestos, miércoles el 10 de abril de 5:30-7:30
Servicios Bancarios, miércoles el 17 de abril de 5:30-7:30
Introducción al Sistema de Crédito: Cómo obtenerlo, repararlo y protegerlo, miércoles el 24 de abril de 5:30-7:30
Para registrar en contacto Violetta: 503-961-6419 o email@example.com. Las clases serán en la Hacienda en 5136 NE 42nd Ave, Portland.
May Financial Household Resiliency Series
Tuesday, May 7th, 5:30-7:30 pm: Making Ends Meet
Tuesday, May 14th, 5:30-7:30 pm: Budgeting and Saving
Tuesday, May 21th 5:30-7:30 pm: Hands-On Banking
Tuesday, March 28th 5:30-7:30 pm: Building, Repairing and Protecting Credit
These classes will be held at our Lloyd Center office on the 3rd floor of the Lloyd Center Mall (between Nordstroms and the food court), 2010 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/ firstname.lastname@example.org.
Teaching Your Kids About Money
Sunday, April 21, 2-3pm at the Midland Library
One of the best gifts you can give your children is teaching them the skills to manage money. Passing on good money management habits is a concrete way that you can set your children up for a successful future; even if you are living on a tight budget. In this workshop we'll discuss key ways to get your finances in order so you c an serve as a model for your children. We will also cover activities and tips for teaching your kids about money and ways to save for all the extra expenses that are part of being a parent (back to school, birthdays, college, etc.). It's never too early to start learning and never too late to start teaching! Now's the time to start your kids on a path to money management success!
My Money, Your Money, Our Money!: Money and Relationships
Tuesday, April 23, 6:45-7:45pm at the Capitol Hill Library
No matter your income, family size or marital status, communicating about money is important. Money is one of the leading causes of disagreements in marriages. Talking about money is often seen as taboo, but having discussions about money can be the key to a happy household. Come to this seminar on relationships and money to learn steps you can take to get your household on board in making financial decisions that will benefit you all!
These seminars are free and no registration is required.
Financial Empowerment Clinic
In honor of Money Smart week join us for a day full of workshops on debt and credit building, access to community resources and the chance to meet with a financial planner, all for FREE!
The event will take place at our office in 2010 Lloyd Center on Saturday April 20th from 10am-3pm and the workshop schedule has just been set!:
Choose Your Own Credit Building Adventure- with Missy and Suzzane of Bradley Angle House
Money? Kids? Credit? Where do I start?: Get your Kids Money Smart- with Kelly of REACH CDC and Lillie of OSU Extension
Dealing with Debt in Collections: Your Rights and Options- with Clarke of Clarke Balcom Law
Tackling Your Student Debt- with Talia of Innovative Changes
Thinking of meeting with a financial planner? We will have financial planners available to meet with you whenever you come in anytime from 10am-3pm. Here are some good questions to ask them:
- Should I save for retirement or pay off my credit card?
- Should I save for college or take out a loan?
- Should I take out a loan for my kid's college or should they?
- How much should I be saving for retirement?
- How much of a car can payment can I afford?
- How much house can I afford?
- How much interest will I end up paying?
- How long will it take me to pay off my debt and how much is my debt actually costing me?
As if the great workshops and lure of speaking with a professional for free isn't enough, we will also have:
- Activities for kids
- Volunteers to help you pull and review your free credit report
- Budget doctors that will help you create a realistic budget
- Raffles on the hour: win gift cards to Safeway, Burgerville, gas cards and more!!
Bring your whole family and tell your friends! Registration not required, but to get a reminder about the event you can register here.
Referring Partner Orientation
Would you like to become a partner of Innovative Changes? Interested in refering clients for our loans, financial education and individual coaching sessions? Want to learn more about our programs? Attend our Referring Partner Orientation webinar.
The webinar orientation will take place on Wednesday, April 3rd from 10:30 am -11:30am. If you or your coworkers are interested in participating please register here.
This orientation is required for anyone who would like to refer clients for Innovative Changes (IC$) loans and a great way to get to know more about IC$. During the webinar we will go through IC$ programs and services, walk you through the process of referring a client and discuss what happens after you make a referral.
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!
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 3/19/13
486, averaging $460.01 for a total of $223,703.20
Revolved amount: $170,897.04
Repaid loans: 254
Financial education clients: