Consolidated Credit
Posts Tagged ‘savings’

By Meg Favreau

Anybody who has ditched plans to eat a salad to scarf down a plate of nachos instead (like I did, um, yesterday) can tell you that even though we humans usually know what’s best for us, it’s sometimes difficult to actually do the right thing.
This is especially true when it comes to saving money — for emergencies, for retirement, or for almost anything else. But there is some good news. Studies show that once we do set money aside, we’re likely to leave it there. So how do we get ourselves to save in the first place? By automating! Here are six easy ways to do just that.

1. Sign Up for Your Company’s Retirement Plan

If your company offers a 401(k) or 403(b), this is one of the best options for automatic savings. Not only do these retirement plans automatically put money you earn into a retirement account before you have the opportunity to spend it, but most employers offer a contribution match. That means that for every dollar you contribute (up to a certain amount), or employer will deposit an equal amount into your account. That’s essentially free money, and it’s one of the biggest benefits you can get at a job. Take advantage of it.

2. Split Your Direct Deposit

If you have direct deposit, most employers will allow you to split your check between multiple accounts — so, instead of depositing all of your money into your checking account, you can set some to automatically go into savings.

3. Set Up a Regular Deposit to Savings

Even if you don’t have direct deposit, many banks will allow you to set up regular automatic deductions. For example, I have a checking account with a traditional bank, and I have a savings account with an online bank. I can set my savings account to automatically deduct from my checking account on every payday. The effect is the same as splitting a direct deposit — the money is in my savings account before I even know it’s gone.

4. Pledge to Save Certain Cash

You’re probably most familiar with this concept in the form of a piggy bank– at the end of the day, many people automatically put the change in their pockets into a jar, often to save for a specific goal, like a vacation. But there’s no rule saying that you have to stick to coins. Instead, pledge to set aside every $5 bill that comes your way — or even every $10. This is a great way to reach medium-term savings goals, like buying new furniture.

5. Use a Cash-Back Credit Card

You should only follow this suggestion if you’re able to pay your credit card off in full every month and you won’t let credit card rewards and 0% balance transfer offers become an excuse for spending more than you normally would. If you fit this criteria, start making your purchases on a cash-back credit card. Then, at the end of every month, deposit that cash back directly into your savings.

6. Automate Your Bills

Most utilities, businesses, and even lenders now allow you to set up automatic payments. There are two ways that this helps automate savings. First of all, automatic payments ensure that you pay your bills on time, saving you from late fees and possible dings to your credit. Secondly, sometimes you can get a discount for paying automatically — for example, some cell phone providers will knock $5 off of your monthly bill if you sign up for the automated system. If you do begin paying automatically, just make sure to check your billing statements regularly to ensure there aren’t any mistakes and you’re not being charged for services you aren’t using.

7. Sign Up for Your Financial Institution’s Round Up Program

What if you could make yourself save a little bit every time you make a purchase? Several banks and credit unions offer “round up” programs that do just that. Every time you use a credit or debit card registered with the program, your financial institution will automatically deposit the remainder of your change into a savings account. To get started, ask your bank or credit union if they offer this benefit.

How do you automate your savings? Share your favorite money-saving tips for America Saves Week – an annual celebration of good savings behavior and financial responsibility.

Meg Favreau is the Senior Editor of money-saving blog Wise Bread — an award-winning website dedicated to help you live large on a small budget.


By April Lewis-Parks

Are you a millennial?

Did you know that 78 percent of twenty-five to thirty-four year olds look to their friends’ financial habits when determining their own? Instead of doing their own research and finding out what financial habits best work for them, they try to emulate their friends’ lifestyle. They wear what their friend wear. They eat where their friends eat. They have houses or condos in areas that are identical to their friends. They even purchase their electronics to match those of their friends.

What’s worse is in the past year almost half of the people within this age group relied on a credit card to pay for their lifestyle necessities including food, utilities, and mortgage/rent. And more than half still depend on their family for financial support and stability.

According to Ernie Almonte, CPA the chair of the AICPA’s National Financial Literary Commission, “Many young adults are building financial foundations with the wrong blueprints. They need to make sure they’re modeling the best behavior for their long-term financial stability.”

Because of this information, there are a new series of televised public service announcements that are targets at Millennials designed to remind them that they need to create their own path to financial security. For example, in one ad a college graduate celebrates paying off her entire student debt balance while her friend, who can be seen lounging in formal wear and feeding a pet horse, complains that she can never save enough money to get financially ahead.

Earlier this summer, this “When it comes to financial stability, don’t get left behind” campaign released print, outdoor, radio, and digital PSA’s to this demographic.

With the strong influence that these Millennials are receiving from their peers, this campaign was created to influence young adults to start saving and securing their financial future, while helping to understand just how important financial stability is at a young age by directing them to Feed the Pig is a financial literacy site that features money management tips and tools, personal finance calculators, and short-, mid- and long-term action plans for achieving financial goals for life’s next chapter, like buying a house, a new car, or making payments towards a debt.

This initial Feed the Pig campaign was launched in 2006 and has received over $277 million in donated media support. This new PSA campaign however will be distributed to over 33,000 networks nationwide and will continue to run on airtime space that is donated by the media.

April Lewis-Parks has more than 15 years of experience in the financial sector, she is a certified financial counselor, and a consumer affairs advocate. As the director of education and public relations for Consolidated Credit she is dedicated to generating awareness about personal finance issues and acts as their consumer affairs advocate. As host the of, she promotes financial education and offers timely and informative personal finance articles to educate the public. April’s promotional efforts can be seen in past issues of the New York Times, Washington Post, Newsday, Consumer Reports, the Business Journals, Money Magazine, Glamour, Cosmopolitan, Family Circle, among others. Connect with April on Google+.


By Jessica Williams

Don’t have the time or money to take a spa day. That’s fine. We are bringing the spa to you with these easy to follow at-home beauty treatments.

1. Honey Hair Conditioner

• 1 ripe persimmon
• 1 sprig of rosemary
• ¼ cup of almond or olive oil
• 4 drops of peppermint oil or fresh mint leaves

1. Cut persimmon in pieces and place in food processor or blender.
2. Add remaining ingredients and blend until mix is creamy.
3. Apply to clean damp hair and scalp.
4. Leave in for 20 minutes. (To maximize conditioning effects, you can wear a shower cap during these 20 minutes).
5. Rinse, dry, and style.

2. Face Mask

• 1 tablespoon of Greek yogurt
• 1 teaspoon of honey

1. Mix ingredients.
2. Apply to face.
3. Let sit on your face for 15 minutes.
4. Gently rinse and pat dry.

3. Exfoliating Body Wash

• A small container
• Sugar or salt
• Olive oil or grape seed oil

1. Pour sugar (or salt) into container until it is filled ½ way.
2. Pour olive (grape seed) oil until it just covers the sugar (salt).
3. Mix.
4. Take in shower and spread over your body, gently rub, and rinse.

4. Cucumber Eye Pads

• 1 cucumber
• Cotton pads
• Fruit juice extractor
• Ziplock bags

1. Using the fruit juice extractor, extract the juice from the cucumber.
2. Pour the cucumber juice in a bowl.
3. Soak cotton pads in the cucumber juice and gently squeeze out the excess liquid.
4. Repeat until you have used all of the cucumber juice.
5. Place cucumber pads without overlapping inside of the ziplock bags.
6. Store bags in the freezer.
7. When you are ready to use them, take them out of the freezer and let them thaw for 10 minutes before applying to you eye area.
8. Place over eyes for 15 – 20 minutes.


By Luna Jaffe

While women are earning bigger paychecks and many consider themselves their family’s Chief Financial Officer, nearly half fear they’ll end up broke and homeless and 54 percent feel alienated by a financial industry they say is male oriented.

The Great Recession prompted more women to get involved in financial matters, but more than 40 percent of them say they don’t feel any smarter about managing their money, according to the 2013 Allianz Women, Money & Power Survey by Larson Research + Strategy.

“The number of financially savvy women who feel confident about their spending, saving and investing strategies is also growing, which is wonderful news, but they still represent only 20 percent of all women,” says Certified Financial Planner™ Luna Jaffe , citing the survey.

Jaffe, the author of “Wild Money: A Creative Journey to Financial Wisdom” and its companion workbook, “Wild Money: A Financial Field Guide and Journal,” takes a different approach to managing finances.

“While we are focused on family, career and business, often the last place we pay attention is to our own financial future,” she says. “There are many reasons for that. One is that, as the women in the survey recognized, financial advising tends to be male oriented; it’s geared toward how men think. Another is that we don’t think about our relationship with money as just that – a relationship.”
Jaffe offers five tips for women who want to feel more confident about managing their finances.

• Start small. Mastering the little things can boost your confidence and give you the ability to tackle bigger issues. If you’re daunted by debt, for example, start by simply writing down where you are right now. Write down each company or person to whom you owe money and the interest rate. Numbers can be soothing (even if the story they tell is not) because they’re concrete and tangible. Once you know exactly where you stand, you can begin planning your next steps.

• Do something every day to tend to your finances. Money, like a garden, needs attention. Get into the habit of doing something daily, even if it’s just five minutes. You might check on your accounts, organize your paperwork, or find out what interest rate you are paying on your credit card debt. Give your relationship just a few minutes each day and you’ll watch it come alive. An excellent resource is

• Ask questions – even (especially) if you think they’re “dumb.” When you’re at the bank, with your advisor or talking to your CPA, ask all the questions that lurk in the back of your head. You’ll discover that 1) They’re not dumb, 2) You’ll get different answers to the same question, and 3) People will respect you for wanting to learn and having the courage to ask.

• Listen to your body when you’re consulting with financial professionals. We are so skilled at masking the intelligence of our bodies, it can be hard to recognize when they’re trying to tell us something. If your stomach knots up every time you meet with your accountant, financial advisor or attorney, you should bring it up and talk it out. Are you uncomfortable with the relationship? The topic? Something else altogether? Remember – you do not need a reason to change or end a financial relationship.

• When in doubt, talk it out – with your money. You have the wisdom within yourself to make great decisions. The question is: Will you listen? The next time you feel uncertain about whose advice to follow, or you find yourself returning to old habits that leave you feeling less than happy, sit down with a pen and paper and have a heart-to-heart talk with your money. Dialogue. Ask a question, then write the answer and trust that these answers come from the deepest place within you. You’ll be surprised by what you learn.

Your relationship with money is one you have from birth until death, Jaffe points out. It’s important to make sure it’s a good one.
“You can’t prevent bad things from happening, but you can prepare for them,” she says. “Being able to respond to a crisis with resilience has to do with having the resources to make decisions you feel good about.”

Luna Jaffe is a Certified Financial Planner™ and CEO of Lunaria Financial, Ltd. in Portland, OR. She holds a master’s degree in Depth Psychology and a bachelor’s in Bilingual Education. Jaffe is a popular speaker whose creative compassionate approach to financial guidance differs sharply from male-oriented approaches. Securities and advisory services offered through KMS Financial Services, Inc.


By Jessica Williams

When consumers find themselves deep in credit card debt, they may feel as though there is no way out. However, that simply isn’t true, as people can come up with money to pay down their balances by finding ways to save more. The following are certain methods consumers can use to save without making any major sacrifices:

No. 1 -Look at your cellphone bill

With the emergence of smartphones, people are now paying for minutes, texting and data, among other things . Those who haven’t examined their bill in a while may be spending more money than necessary. It may be a good idea to look this document over to see if there is any way services can be cut. For example, people who don’t text a lot shouldn’t be paying for unlimited texting. Even saving just $10 a month gives someone $120 more per year to put toward their credit card debt.

No. 2 - Refinance your mortgage

Though mortgage rates have increased in recent months, they are still low compared to historic levels, which means refinancing could save homeowners money. If today’s rates are much lower than the one on a person’s current home loan, they may be able to save thousands of dollars a year. However, mortgages aren’t the only loans that can be refinanced, as borrowers can do the same with their car loans and student debt.

No. 3 - Ask for an interest rate reduction

When carrying a balance on credit cards, one of the biggest detriments is a high APR. Each month the debt isn’t paid off in full, it accrues more interest, which can make eliminating the entire amount difficult. To help avoid interest piling up, it may be a good idea to get in touch with the credit card provider and ask for a rate reduction. People who have made on-time payments in the past, and had no issues, may be able to secure a lower APR, which can make it easier to pay off debt.

No. 4 - Take advantage of insurance discounts

Sometimes monthly savings are just a phone call away. For example, senior citizens may be able to get money off their auto insurance policies just for being a certain age. Another popular discount comes with low mileage, which can be used for people who have recently seen a drop in their work commute.

Jessica Williams is Consolidated Credit’s Marketing Communications New Media Coordinator. As a member of the education team, Jessica focuses on helping consumers make better financial decisions while living debt-free. She has previously worked with Take Stock In Children, where she was a mentor and communications specialist, and, where she managed community relations, event planning, marketing, and public relations. Jessica attended both the University of Florida and the University of Central Florida where she received her B.S. in Interpersonal/Organizational Communications and Marketing. Connect with Jessica on Google+.