July 2015

During the summer, we all have a million things to do, but this summer make sure budgeting is on the top of your list! We know that budgeting may seem boring, so our July Innovative Connections has a variety of articles to get your started on your budget. The first is a simple step by step of getting organized and started on your budget. Next we have some tips for how to make SMART goals for your budget so you can set yourself up to succeed. One of the most important things about budgeting is making your budget work for you. We have stories from staff members Nancy, Alanna, Rachell, and Landra about how they adjusted their budgets until they worked easily and productively for their every day lives.  Have a lovely July and stay cool! 


All the best,

Innovative Changes

Credit Tip


Credit can be an intimidating piece of our financial plan. There are many myths about the best way to manage credit, making it difficult to know what the best path to choose is.

One prevalent myth is that if you have a low credit score, the first thing to focus on is paying off old debt. However, did you know that one big factor that contributes to a low credit score is the lack of recent positive activity?


In fact, the best way to increase your score is to open up a line of credit and get those on-time payments reported to the credit bureaus! Many people get stuck there because if they have a low score, how can they qualify for a loan or a credit card to boost their credit?


Look no more! Innovative Changes' credit builder loan is here to help. Our credit builder loan is designed to help people who are looking to build their credit without having to take on a large amount of debt. 


Visit our website to see if a credit builder might be the right thing for you, and to register for a Credit Builder Loan Orientation. 


Join our Team!


Innovative Changes is excited to be recruiting for a Financial Coaching Fellow. This paid position will work closely with the Financial Coaching VISTA. This is an amazing part time position with huge learning potential in a growing non-profit. Please find a detailed job description and instruction on how to apply on our website. We look forward to hearing from you! 


ABC & D's of Budgeting abcd


by Alanna Hoyman-Browe


Budgeting gets easier and more rewarding the more you do it. Here are some simple steps you can take to get started!


A. Get organized

                Money is involved in almost every part of our lives. This means that collecting information about all of the different ways and times that you use money can be a bit of a chore. Set aside some time for yourself to get organized so you can start your budget off on a good foot. Gather receipts, bills, and anything else you can that is related to your finances and get them in one place so you know you aren't missing anything. Take a minute to organize your thinking as well. Why are you making a budget? We know that people who are working towards a goal are more likely to be successful in their budgeting. Below are some guidelines you can follow that will make your goals more successful!


B. Track your spending

                Tracking your spending is important, because many of us don't have nearly as good of an idea of what we spend money on as we'd like to think. Most people have a fairly good idea of the big items like groceries, rent, utilities, and gas. But did you make sure to add that bag of chips you got the other day at the Plaid Pantry to your grocery total for the week? Have you ever added up how much you spend each week on coffee or cigarettes? There are so many different ways to track your spending. It doesn't matter how you do it, as long as you do it consistently! Try it out for a week or two to see where your money is going.


Continue reading ABC & D's of Budgeting here!

Make your goals S.M.A.R.T.smart


Budgeting for the sake of having a budget isn't very fun or exciting. Remember that real behavioral change, which is what budgeting is about, is hard. You will be far more likely to commit to your budget and be successful if there is something that you are working towards. Set a goal that is related to your budget and keep it in mind whenever the going gets tough. We know that writing a goal down helps us commit to achieving it, as does telling someone who will be supportive of your aspirations! Make a sign, put a sticker on your phone, wrap a note around your credit card, whatever it takes to keep your eyes on the prize.


There are many ways to set yourself up for success. Sometimes, the types of goals we set make it harder to achieve them. Just like you have to work hard to achieve goals, creating the goals themselves can take some work too. S.M.A.R.T. stands for Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic, and Time based. Just ensuring that your budgeting goal fits these criteria will make it more likely to be successful!


Continue reading Make your goals S.M.A.R.T. here!

Nancy Y.nancy

My favorite budgeting tool is a cash flow spreadsheet in excel.  I work from the bottom up, because that's how my mind works!  I put my current bank balance on the bottom line, then above that each expense get its own line, with the corresponding date on which that expense will occur.   Once an expense has been paid I put zero in its cell. I have lines for our paydays too - the money in! I have a column for the budget for each item, a column for actual expense and a column that calculates the running balance for each day of the month.  I look ahead to see how I am doing, and when I can make a transfer to savings, or if I need to transfer from savings to cover upcoming expenses.  


 I update it at least weekly by monitoring my bank account on line.  I check it more frequently if the balance is low.  I try to do most of my transactions by debit card or auto pay because cash flows through my hands like water, and when I use my debit card I get better transaction details in my bank account.   Twice a year, around January and July, I export all my checking account transactions into a spreadsheet and sum up each expense, then check actual to budget.   I discuss it with Andy, and we make adjustments to our spending and agree on our goals.  The last time I did a budget to actual check in I was shocked by how much we were spending on groceries, so I switched stores.  Once I made the switch I was thrilled to find that I cut my food bill by over $60 a month. That motivated me to be better about sticking to a grocery list and avoid impulse buys. 


Read Nancy's budgeting story online!

Alanna H-B.alanna

When it comes to my budget, I can be pretty lazy. I knew that in order for me to effectively track my spending, and stick to a budget, it would have to be easy easy easy. Given my Americorps VISTA stipend, my budgeting goal is to end each month in the black. Even though this goal doesn't have a limited time constraint, I view it as expiring every month so that I can stay motivated. Each month I allow myself to start with a clean slate regardless of how successful my budget was the month before. This way I can reevaluate what went well and what needs to change.


Very early on I realized that I was never going to be successful if I tried to record, or enter my spending at the end of the day. Because I primarily use debit and credit cards for my purchases, and I use my smart phone quite a lot, I decided to try Mint.com. Mint is an Intel app that securely connects to your bank accounts. Any time there is activity in your accounts, it records it. Mint categorizes your purchases into various budget items which you can go in and edit should you need to. The budget items that I have created range from very broad, such as "going out" which includes coffee shops, restaurants, and bars, or very specific, such as tickets to arts performances. I made my budget this way, because that's how I think about those different expenses. Although going to a bar, and going to a coffee shop are very different, for me they fall under the same category of things that are a little extravagant but that are fun to do sometimes. That way if this month I'm having a hard time getting up in the morning, and I end up spending more money on coffee, it doesn't ruin my budget. Instead I just go out to eat less.


Continue reading Alanna's budgeting story here!

Rachell H.rachell

 I like to use two budget methods at the same time. The first is an old fashion paper and pencil budget. The second in an app called Mint.com. I found it hard to keep track of my cash purchases on Mint.com so incorporated the paper budget and use it in concert with my Mint.com app. This way I capture all the transaction and I can cross reference with my app. 


Budgets are an evolving document and constantly find myself tweaking my system based on my needs. I list out all my income and expenses and monthly bills. This way, I can see how it may vary from month to month and be sure not miss anything. Then, each month I go down the list, write in the amount I paid and check it off once we submit the payment online or once it has auto-withdrawn from our account. I only use cash for typical monthly expenses, such as fuel, hair, beauty care, household items, and entertainment. I really like using Mint.com. It gives me automatically updates and categorizes my information in real time. It's linked to my bank accounts and so you always know where you stand.  In just minutes, I'll see where my money is going and get ideas on how to stretch it farther. My favorite features in the weekly spending report. At the end of each week I can see how much money was spent in each category. 


Read Rachell's budgeting story online!

Landra G.landra

I like to utilize as many budgeting techniques as possible, especially as a mother with a young child.  I've become really good with seeking out extracurricular activities that offer scholarships and that helps offset the cost for activities that don't offer scholarships.


I take advantage of the many free activities during the year and events that are hosted by the local library. They offer traditional and non-traditional events that have appealed to my son and exposing him to different experiences allows him to embrace new things.


Last but certainly not least I have conversations with my son about money from not spending every dollar in his Ninja Turtle wallet to what the word budget means.  He doesn't always like it but he understand it and it takes away some of my stress of feeling as if I have to give him everything he wants.    


Read Landra's budgeting story online! 
CFPB takes legal action against JPMorgan Chasejpmorgan


Earlier this month the CFPB announced that it has taken legal action against JPMorgan Chase for violating the Dodd Frank Act. "Today we are ordering Chase to permanently halt collections on more than 528,000 accounts and overhaul its debt-sales practices. We will continue to be vigilant in taking action against deceptive debt sales and collections practices that exploit consumers," said CFPB Director Richard Cordray in the CFPB's press release. JPMorgan Chase will pay millions in penalty and cease collections on hundreds of thousands of accounts for selling bad credit card debt and 'robo' signing court documents. The full press release can be found here.


This is an important reminder that even the biggest financial institutions are not above the law. If you feel you have been mistreated by a financial institution please report it to the CFPB. While it might seem like a corporation like JPMorgan Chase will never listen to the complaints of just one person, the CFPB gives you the power to hold them accountable. Visit the CFPB website to find out more about their work or to file a complaint.                     

We're Moving!
We'll move on or around August 13th, so please make note of our new location.   We will be in suite 2027, which is diagonally across the atrium from where we are now, and closer to the food court.  The training room is bigger and better and there is lots of room for sharing with our partner CASH Oregon.  Come by and visit us in our new home!

Upcoming Workshops & Orientationscb

The next Financial Household Resiliency workshops will be:


- Tuesdays 5:30-7:30pm 


Suite 2010

-August 4th: Making Ends Meet

-August 11th: Budgeting and Savings


Suite 2027

-August 18th: Hands On Banking

-August 25th: Building, Repairing, and Protecting Credit


All workshops take place at our office, 2027Lloyd Center Mall.

You can register for the classes here.

Our next Credit Builder Orientations will be:


 Suite 2010

- ESPANOL, miercoles 15 de julio 5:30-6:30pm

- Friday, July 24th, 1-2pm

- Wednesday, July 29th, 5:30-6:30pm

- Friday, Aug 7th, 1-2pm


Suite 2010

- Wednesday, Aug 12th, 5:30-6:30pm

- Friday, Aug 21, 1-2pm

- ESPANOL, miercoles 26 de agusto, 5:30-6:30pm

  All take place at our office, 2027 Lloyd Center.

Register here.

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