Please join us in thanking the Portland Women's Foundation and Wells Fargo Bank for supporting our work to reach more people with opportunities to build their financial capabilities. The Portland Women's Foundation grant will support part of the cost of establishing women's peer groups where women share their financial challenges and successes, hold each other accountable to their individual financial goals, and access a modest matched savings fund to incentivize regular deposits into a commitment savings account. We are thrilled to be able to put to work some of the best practices from recent research on how to promote savings behavior by making it easy, accessible, goal focused and incentivized. Stay tuned for the results!
The support from Wells Fargo helps us conduct our workshops, seminars and coaching sessions where people access relevant, action oriented information and tools to take charge of their financial situation. Our credit classes and credit builder loan continue to be a real favorite, as one borrower recently told us, "I was completely unaware of credit, credit reporting or the importance of building credit. Innovative Changes helped change all of that."
Our opportunity loans continue to help people transition to better situations and manage emergencies with responsible, affordable credit. Housing related costs top the loan use list, followed closely by bills and car expenses and paying off high cost debt, such as payday loans. Contact us if you would like to learn how to become a referring partner for our lending program, or if your staff would like a refresher on our programs.
All the best,
Carolyn says that she's struggled to save and manage money her whole life. Family members would bail her out from time to time, but since her mother died a couple years ago, she realized that she needed to get in control of her money; there would be no more rescues. When her roommate came home with a flier about Innovative Changes' classes that he got a Portland Community College, Carolyn was stoked to attend.
Carolyn came to our March four part series ready to learn and motivated to take action. We could not have asked for a better participant. Our classes are most effective when people share their own experiences. Carolyn was very open about her life and the lessons she has learned along the way, which encouraged other people to open up as well. Carolyn used the tools introduced in the class and adjusted them to meet her needs. She says, "I really enjoyed filling out the pay check planner and it was eye-opening to go through the payment terms and conditions form, list out all bills and debts and figure out exactly where I was. I added a column for interest rates and then figured out my total debt load and how long it will take me to pay it off."
From the classes, Carolyn realized that she would like to get better at tracking her spending, so she started using her check register to document all of her spending. "My biggest fear is not to have any money. I manage two checking accounts, a savings and my cash on hand so when I centralized everything in my check register, it made me feel better- I wasn't panicking all the time and I feel more in control."
During the course of the four weeks of classes, Carolyn lost her job that she had had for 17 years. Thinking through things with a level head, Carolyn says that this has been a "blessing in disguise." Losing her job has motivated her to go back to school to pursue a career as a Health Information Technologist, something she has wanted to do since she was 18 years old. "My mom was a registered health information technologist for 30 years, now that she is gone, it will be like carrying on what she did." Carolyn plans to enroll in school by June 2013, and is excited to be in school again. She also plans to enroll in Innovative Changes' matched savings program to help her pay for school and reduce her student debt.
In the meantime Carolyn plans to take things step-by-step. She is going to come to our four part series again so that she can continue learning and solidifying her knowledge about budgeting, saving and credit. We look forward to see her there as a teacher and a learner and wish her luck in her exciting life changes!
|Partner Spotlight: Jennifer de Thomas, Financial Planning Association
"Your wallet didn't come with a manual. Your credit cards didn't have a warning label. While you focused on your career and family, you let your finances run themselves, which also didn't come with a warning. You've tried, but searching the internet gives you 12,000 "definitive" answers to the same question. It is far easier to learn how to do yoga than it is to plan for retirement, and retirement planning does nothing to help your butt to look great. You've basically been left alone to fend for yourself in the wilderness of personal finance," says Jennifer de Thomas in her blog "The People's Planner."
Jennifer is a financial planner at New Outlook Financial, LLC an investment based advisory firm operating on a fee-only basis. She is also the Pro Bono director of the Financial Planning Association (FPA) of Oregon and Southwest Washington. We meet Jennifer at our first Financial Empowerment Clinic at the Lloyd Center about a year ago. She was presenting on retirement and really connected with the women in her workshop in a down to earth way. Since then, we have been working with her to plan more Financial Empowerment Clinics-including the one coming up on April 20th- as a way of connecting people who wouldn't be able to afford financial planning services to that higher level advice.
What drew you to financial planning?
I have always been a long term planner, have always been interested in how the stewardship of money, or lack of stewardship, directly affects the life choices people have both in the present and the future, and have always been an advocate for people to learn how to control their money instead of letting "the system" control it for them.
Most financial industry jobs have traditionally been dominated by men. What has your experience been like as a woman in a male dominated field?
Women are finally making headway in the financial services profession, but in my own personal experience, I have only worked with men. I haven't found this to be a problem, especially since the tide is turning away from aggressive product sales (mutual funds, annuities, etc) and stock jockeys to more holistic planning and asset management. I have had clients specifically say they contacted me because of my gender, and I am not sure if that is flattering or not! Male dominated workplaces are great to work in as long as you don't need the softer niceties (I like your new haircut, how was your weekend?) and can handle more aggressive feedback. Men are great, but they can be more straightforward than women and you have to accept that. Frankly, I am pretty straightforward myself.
What are you focusing on as Pro-Bono Director with FPA?
As Pro Bono Director for the FPA, I have been concentrating on expanding our relationships and partnerships with community-based organizations such as Innovative Changes. Our mission is to provide service to those who cannot otherwise access professional financial advice, which describes low-income individuals, young families, older people who may be on a fixed income, or those in crisis. Often though, our expertise does not answer their most immediate needs but through partnerships with existing community organizations, those needs can be addressed. Many of our members are themselves not aware of the support systems already in place for those vulnerable in our communities and by spreading the word through our membership we can help the community individually as well as help support the organizations in place.
How do the Financial Empowerment Clinics fit in to all this?
The Financial Empowerment workshops are the perfect illustration of this vision. We can provide professionals to augment all of the clinics and be on hand for those who need individual advising and support. The financial problems people grapple with in our community are not necessarily the same types of problems that come across desks in our practice so we are often not as well versed as our community partners. We can, however, illustrate the larger picture. For example, we may not be practiced in credit restoration, but we can walk someone through how much debt will cost them in the long run, how controlling their cash flow is fundamental to their financial picture, and how to incrementally invest for long term goals. A participant at the workshop can attend a seminar, and then talk to one of our planners on next steps.
What advice do you have for women trying to set themselves and their families up for financial success?
My advice for women is to recognize their power in their family's financial future. Women generally control how resources are allocated so should pay close attention to the details and not get overwhelmed by the day to day. It is difficult, especially with the pressures of children who constantly need, but if women can weed out the wants from the needs, they can position their families to ride out emergencies, have something growing so they can take advantage of future opportunities be that education, career change, housing, or even better transportation.
For more information about Jennifer you can visit her bio here or read her blog for some insightful thoughts on financial matters here.
Link to Jennifer's Spotlight on our website
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
How to Raise a Money Smart Kid
Take Action: Share your debt stories, learn about proposed collection reform and stop unfair debt practices!
Dealing with Debt in Collections: Your Rights and Options
Tackling Your Student Debt
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.
|Financial Education Galore:
Upcoming Financial Household Resiliency (FHR) Workshops:
Talleres sobre Estabilidad Financiera
Ahorros y Presupuestos, miércoles el 17 de abril de 5:30-7:30
Servicios Bancarios, miércoles el 24 de abril de 5:30-7:30
Introducción al Sistema de Crédito: Cómo obtenerlo, repararlo y protegerlo, miércoles el 1 de mayo de 5:30-7:30
Para registrar en contacto Violetta: 503-961-6419 o firstname.lastname@example.org. 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, May 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/ email@example.com.
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 can 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.
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, May 29th or July 10th 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 firstname.lastname@example.org to set up your monthly giving program.
Thank you for your support!
As of 4/11/13
490, averaging $457.82 for a total of $224,469.20
Revolved amount: $173,602.36
Repaid loans: 261
Financial education clients: