Knowledge is Power; Facts Every Woman Should Know about Money
Riverside, CA (PRWEB) March 29, 2015
Springboard Nonprofit Consumer Credit Management, Inc. (Springboard) is encouraging all women to consider their financial legacy in celebration of National Womens History Month. Historically, women have lagged behind men in areas of financial stability, such as retirement plan balances, due to of a number of factors, including time spent out of the workplace for caregiving. However, a recent study has revealed that women are closing the gap in several key areas, including cash flow, debt management, and investing. Springboard applauds the positive momentum and urges all women to make it their priority to become educated on basic money matters.
Springboard is contributing to the legacy of women by sharing this top ten list of financial strategies, said Melinda Opperman, Springboards senior vice president. As we celebrate the lives of women and their achievements throughout history now is an excellent time for women to examine their current financial situation, establish goals, and take action steps to accomplish them, said Opperman.
Springboard offers the following facts every woman should know about money:
1. Women account for 85 percent of all name brand purchases. According to research, women carry out most of the purchasing requirements for the family. Distinguishing the difference between luxuries and necessities is key to living within a budget.
2. One of most important financial principals is to spend less than what is earned and save for a rainy day. Women must learn to do this if they want to achieve financial freedom.
3. Have a plan. Women who have a written plan are more likely to accomplish their goal. Putting a financial plan in writing is powerful. Something magical happens when a goal is written down. The brain starts working on solutions and the individual becomes emotionally committed.
4. Women tend to have lower retirement plan balances because they often spend more time away from the workforce raising children or caring for aging parents. Women are also more likely to work in part-time jobs that dont qualify for a retirement plan. Springboard encourages women to make retirement planning a priority by putting money away sooner so that investments will have more time to grow.
5. Women are notorious for putting others needs before their own. Another important principal is start a regular habit of saving by making a deposit into savings before any other monthly bills, as opposed to putting only what is leftover into savings. Research indicates that the typical millionaire saves or invests twenty percent of his/her income; meanwhile, the average American saves or invests less than five percent. One way for women to get into the habit of saving is to check if their employer gives the option of dividing their paycheck when making a direct deposit. If so, women should designate a percentage of their paycheck to be deposited into their savings account and put the rest into their checking account to pay for their regular expenses. If their employer does not provide this option, they can set up automatic transfers from a checking to a savings account with their financial institution.
6. Women are very likely to be solely responsible for financial decision making at some point in their lives. Women have a longer life expectancy than men and most married women will likely outlive their spouses. For this reason, women will need to know how to manage their finances, especially during the years that they may find themselves living alone.
7. Women need different kinds of insurance at different times in their life. No one wants to be over-insured or under-insured, resulting in an unpleasant surprise when making a claim. Women should make an appointment with a trusted adviser to confirm the coverage that is needed and affordable. Women should never buy insurance that is unnecessary and should remember to inquire about ways to lower premiums, discounts for loyalty, good driving and bundling multiple polices.
8. Women are more likely to be victims of identity fraud than men. According to a study by the fraud-tracking firm Javelin Strategy amp; Research, women are 26 percent more likely than men to be the victims of identity theft. Identity theft prevention is an important aspect of overall personal financial literacy. Springboards Identity Theft Awareness booklet is available for free download at the agencys online learning center.
9. Women should always maintain an up-to-date copy of their credit report. Much of consumers financial future depends on the contents of their credit report. Consumers are allowed one free report from each of the three major bureaus once every twelve months. All three reports may be obtained at once, which is a good idea if a major purchase is on the horizon. Requests can also be staggered, which is a good way to check for identity theft. Credit reports may be accessed at http://www.annualcreditreport.com.
10. Even when budgets are set and women may pay on time, having a credit card with a high interest rate and making only the minimum payments could end up costing them five times the original purchase and take ten times longer to pay off. Making it a habit to pay more than the minimum owed is always a good strategy to reduce or eliminate credit card debt.
About Springboard Nonprofit Consumer Credit Management, Inc.
SPRINGBOARD® Nonprofit Consumer Credit Management is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit personal financial education and counseling organization founded in 1974 with the mission of improving the financial well-being of individuals and families. Springboard is a US Department of Housing and Urban Development-approved housing counseling agency and a member of the Association of Independent Consumer Credit Counseling Agencies and the National Foundation for Credit Counseling, the nations longest serving nonprofit financial counseling organization. Springboard is also a proud member of the Hope Now Alliance, a cooperative effort between the US government and mortgage market participants to help struggling homeowners. Springboard offers personal financial education and assistance in credit counseling, housing counseling, reverse mortgage, debt and money management, pre-bankruptcy counseling and debtor education through educational programs and confidential coaching. Springboard is accredited by the Council on Accreditation, signifying the highest standards for agency governance, fiscal integrity, counselor certification and service delivery policies. Counseling is available by telephone nationwide or in-person at office locations in California, Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Massachusetts, South Carolina, Florida and Maryland. For more information on Springboard, please call 800-449-9818 or visit their web site at http://www.Springboard.org.
For the original version on PRWeb visit: http://www.prweb.com/releases/2015/03/prweb12615967.htm
Bank of America (NYSE: BAC) has definitely come a long way since the financial crisis. The companys capital levels are vastly improved, its asset quality is significantly better, and the bank has been focused on building its core (lower-risk) businesses.
However, while Bank of America certainly has the potential to produce excellent returns, an investment in its stock is not without risk. Before you decide to add Bank of America to your portfolio, here are a few things you need to know.
Since the end of the financial crisis, Bank of America has made some notable improvements in its business.
For starters, its asset quality and capital levels have tremendously improved. The recent stress tests did result in a conditional approval of Bank of Americas capital plan, but that was based on the banks procedures for predicting its performance in a downturn and some issues with its internal controls -- not on a lack of capital.
In fact, Bank of America passed that last portion of the test with ease. Regulators found that in a severely adverse economic scenario, the banks Tier 1 common capital ratio would fall to a minimum of 7.1%, well above the 5% minimum. Meanwhile, its Tier 1 leverage ratio would stay above 5%, comfortably above the 4% required by the government. In other words, Bank of America appears ready and able to deal with another severe recession.
Further, Bank of America is actively reducing its physical footprint in order to reduce expenses and run more efficiently. Since the financial crisis ended, Bank of America has been among the banks most aggressively closing branches; its network has shrunk from about 6,100 branches to approximately 5,000.
Finally, Bank of America is focusing more on its consumer banking business and making a strong effort to become the one-stop shop for its customers banking needs by selling additional products to existing customers. During the last quarter of 2014, the bank opened 1.2 million credit card accounts, with about two-thirds going to existing customers.
So there are plenty of reasons to have an optimistic view of Bank of Americas future.
But there are still plenty of risks
Bank of America is not a low-risk stock, and its unlikely to be one anytime soon. Basically, the company has a long history of poor risk and credit management, and this hasnt really changed. In fact, as my colleague Jay Jenkins recently pointed out, Bank of America is releasing some of its reserves at a time when rivals such as Wells Fargo (NYSE: WFC) and JPMorgan Chase (NYSE: JPM) are building theirs up.
The banks efficiency and performance also leave something to be desired. For 2014, Bank of America managed to produce a return on assets of just 0.23% and a return on equity of 2.52%. For comparison, Wells Fargo produced ROA and ROE of 1.45% and 13.41%, respectively, while JPMorgan Chases respective figures were 0.89% and 10%.
To be fair, a lot of the negative performance had to do with legal expenses, but thats yet another area where shareholders have an ongoing risk. Sure, the record $17 billion settlement the bank reached this year took care of most of the outstanding mortgage-related issues, but B of A is not immune to further legal action.
The risk/reward could make sense -- if you know what youre getting into
Theres no denying the potential of Bank of America. The company has an enormous branch network, more than $2 trillion in assets, and arguably the most recognizable brand name in banking. If CEO Brian Moynihan succeeds in changing the culture of Bank of America and mitigating risk and improving efficiency, shareholders could be handsomely rewarded. However, that remains a pretty big if.
For the time being, Bank of America trades for just 74% of its book value as of this writing, creating a pretty interesting risk/reward ratio. In other words, you can buy Bank of America for less than three-fourths of the value of its assets. (For comparison, Wells Fargo trades for about 1.75 times its book value.)
So, while an investment in Bank of America could certainly pay off over the long run, make sure you realize that youre taking on quite a bit of risk -- and be prepared to ride out the ups and downs while the company evolves.
Chad and Harley
Show ran: 1984-1991
Radio station: KELO AM
Harley Worthit returned to Sioux Falls to partner with a young radio announcer, Chad McKenzie, embarking on his first job in the city.
I learned how to make a morning radio show captivating, recalled McKenzie. I especially remember how Harley was always butting heads, especially with Loila Hunking who was on the City Commission. Anyone and everyone was fair game for Harley.
McKenzie has continued on the air, working with other morning show partners at KELO before joining KSOO, where he hosts Main Street CafÃ every weekday morning.
Worthit now lives in Minneapolis.
Dan and Craig
Show ran: 1987-1994
Radio station: KKLS
When KKLS Radio executives wanted to challenge KELOs popular morning team, they paired up two unlikely personalities.
Craig and I were opposites but clicked on the radio, said Farris. It wasnt scripted that way, but the public enjoyed listening to us talk. We also brought in hundreds of guests and talented people.
Still, the format of the show meant playing seven to eight songs an hour, so things had to happen fast.
We showed up in shirts and ties every day and wore tuxedos to remotes. It was all by design, said Mattick.
Farris is out of the radio business, and Mattick currently partners with Chris Tubbs on an afternoon sports talk show, Sports Talk with Craig and Chris, on KWSN.
Ben and Patty
Show ran: Currently airs on The Mix 97.3; has been running for 21 years.
Radio station: The Mix 97.3
The pair has been a fixture of morning radio in Sioux Falls since 1993.
Patty is my work wife, said Davis. She is so talented. Patty is an artist, a singer and plays drums.
For her part, Patty says the show is fun, comfortable and unpredictable.
The longest-running radio duo in Sioux Falls show no signs of leaving the morning airwaves.
Patty and I feel so fortunate that people invite us into their lives each day, said Davis. Our loyal listeners keep us going.
Trav and Tammy
Show ran: From 2005-2008 on Hot 104.7. They will reunite Monday on KIKN.
Radio Station: KIKN
Station manager Don Jacobs says the return of Trav and Tammy to the market is exciting.
Their original teaming was such a monster show I am extremely excited, he said. They are so good together.
The announcers think theyll be comfortable sliding back into their team roles.
Its like a dance, said Travis. You just know where the other is going.
Their program will air from 5 to 10 am
A REUNION SPOTLIGHTS SIOUX FALLS CELEBRITY DUOS
A familiar voice returns to Sioux Falls radio Monday, reuniting a morning team and continuing the citys long tradition of popular celebrity radio duos.
The Trav and Tammy morning show will debut on KIKN. The two announcers, who use only first names on their shows, previously had a successful run from 2005 to 2008 on KKLS, a sister station. Tammy currently hosts a morning show from 5 to 10 am on KIKN with an announcer who is taking a different position at the station. Her former partner Travis will join her.
Radio personalities reuniting is unusual, but the popularity of such morning pairings has been a staple of local radio programming in Sioux Falls since the 1970s.
Duos like Warren and Harley, Dan and Craig and, currently, Ben and Patty are among the familiar teams who have hosted morning listeners and have built long-standing relationships as local celebrities in Sioux Falls over the years.
Successful radio teams have the ability to communicate with listeners, said Don Jacobs, market manager vice president of Results Radio/Townsquare Media. That firm owns KIKN and seven other stations in this market. Familiarity is huge. It is more than just reading the news; its knowing the community and having fun on the air.
Station managers say live, local morning shows on music format stations consistently draw larger listening audiences than other day-part segments.
In his 50 years of broadcasting, Jon Michaels has watched the Sioux Falls radio industry evolve from stations employing one-person announcers to showcasing radio teams.
Radio used some recorded shows, but most were live broadcasts with one individual behind the microphone, said Michaels, now the public affairs director of Midwest Communications of Sioux Falls. We would even find your lost dog.
The notion of radio teams brought new possibilities for programming and growing audiences.
There were radio names creating anonymity and a real persona for that individual. And with a team, one member could ask the question and set the other person up, Michaels said.
One of the most memorable Sioux Falls radio teams worked at KELO AM in the late 1970s. The team used the radio names Harley Worthit and Warren West.
Worthit (Phil Heuer) was program director at KELO radio and wanted to go with a team format, recalled West. I sent in an audition tape, and Harley loved it.
The duo was on the air from 1977 to 1982.
We each planned our own material. There were lots of jokes lampooning people like the mayor and high personality stuff, said West.
The shows popularity eventually led to Worthits exit to a larger market. But two years later, KELO executives convinced him to return to Sioux Falls to be part of a new morning team.
Chad McKenzie came in as a second generation team announcer, Michaels said. Chad and Harley proved to be a perfect combination, bringing in listeners and keeping the ratings high.
McKenzie, who now hosts morning program The Main Street CafÃ on KSOO radio, recalls his pairing with Worthit, which was his first radio job in Sioux Falls.
Harley would take risks, McKenzie said. He pushed the line. There were so many times I felt like, This will be my last day.
Yet McKenzie said he learned a lot from his partner. Harley took radio in Sioux Falls to a new level, he said. I was just along for the ride.
After Worthits departure in 1991, Chad went on to partner with Mike Henriksen, the late Dan Christopherson and Jack Taylor before joining KSOO in 1992. There, he partnered with Gene Hetland for 10 years on a morning show and now hosts his own program.
Worthit now lives in the Minneapolis area.
Worthy challengers appear
KELOs popular morning team was challenged through the years. A worthy competitor arrived in 1987 when Dan Farris and Craig Mattick came together on 104.7 FM (KKLS). Their morning show aired for seven years.
I had been living in Minneapolis and owned a record shop, audio equipment and DJ business in Rice Lake, Wis., said Farris. The job (KKLS program director) Reid Holsen offered: create a show with Craig Mattick, the stations news director.
The two didnt know one another before they were teamed but quickly developed a relationship.
Celebrity birthdays was one of our bits. We would recognize these celebrities, and if they called in they got $104.70, a T-shirt and a coffee mug. Alan Page of the Vikings called in, said Farris.
Mattick recalled hitchhiking across the city during one show. Everything was all about ratings.
Mattick and Farris are planning their own reunion of sorts this week. On Wednesday, Farris will join Mattick on his afternoon sports talk show, Sports Talk with Craig and Chris. They hope to do some of their old morning radio bits as part of the 20th reunion show.
Mattick has been hosting KWSNs Sports Talk for 14 years and has worked with current partner Chris Tubbs since 2011.
Long-term radio relationship
Ben Davis and Patty Dee have the distinction of being the longest-running morning team in Sioux Falls radio. Theyve been on the air together for 21 years.
Their show on The Mix 97.3 runs from 6 to 10 am weekdays. After two decades of working together, the pair say they have developed mutual respect for one another.
The morning just flies by, said Dee of their show. There is no better way to spend my time. I can count on him every day, and I know I will laugh.
Davis and Dee applaud their listening audience and credit management for their shows longevity and success.
Patty and I feel so fortunate that people invite us into their lives each day, said Davis. Our loyal listeners keep us going.
A relatively new announcing team works the morning shift at Life 96.5. Dave Ryerson and Lauren Banik are in their third year together.
Though the shows format is not intended to be personality driven, the pair admits they have chemistry.
Dave and I share from our personal lives. People relate to that, said Banik. Because I talk about having three daughters, lots of moms listen and tell me they are going through the same thing.
There is no one secret to developing a successful morning broadcasting team. Peter Tanz, senior vice president of Midwest Communications, said creating good radio teams from scratch is difficult and involves a degree of luck.
You learn as a manager that a successful team is a mixture of art and science combined with chemistry and talent, said Tanz.
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Two changes to the US consumer bankruptcy process could help some of the most trapped student loan borrowers free themselves from a modern-day debtors prison.
President Barack Obama last week directed three US government agencies - the Department of the Treasury and Education as well as the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau - to report by Oct. 1 whether bankruptcy or other laws and regulations should be revised for student loans.
One change that is long overdue, and suggested by a group of Democratic senators who introduced a bill last Friday, would be to make private student loans erasable in bankruptcy court.
Led by Senator Dick Durban of Illinois, the lawmakers introduced The Fairness for Struggling Students Act of 2015 to revoke private student loans special treatment. But the bill is expected to have little chance of passage in the Republican-controlled Congress.
That is unfortunate since the 2005 law that gave private student loans parity with federal student loans is difficult to defend.
In contrast to federal student loans, private education loans do not use taxpayer funds or have government guarantees. Federal student loans also do not use credit scores or vary interest rates to reflect default risk, while private lenders do.
Private lenders typically require creditworthy co-signers, while federal loans do not.
In other words, private student lenders can and do employ methods that compensate them for the risks they take. Yet their loans get a much higher level of protection in bankruptcy proceedings than mortgages, auto loans, credit cards or any other privately-issued debt.
Another much-needed change, which likely would not require congressional action, would be to call off the watchdog-turned-attack-dog that fights the most troubled debtors efforts to erase federal student loans.
Currently, very few people are able to erase any student loans in bankruptcy court, no matter how dire their financial or personal situations. Debtors must prove not only that they cannot maintain a minimal standard of living while paying their debt, but that their situations will not improve.
The few borrowers who try to prove their financial desperation typically meet aggressive legal challenges from the Educational Credit Management Corporation, a private nonprofit hired by the federal government to monitor bankruptcy cases.
The National Consumer Law Center has denounced ECMCs over-the-top, hardball tactics, while an investigation by The New York Times found the agency has veered more than occasionally into dubious terrain.
A New Hampshire bankruptcy judge sanctioned ECMC for abusing the bankruptcy process by pursuing a woman who had already paid off her student loans. In another case, ECMC appealed a partial student loan discharge for a victim of pancreatic cancer and numerous other ailments, arguing that she failed to prove that a recurrence of the notoriously lethal cancer was a probability, rather than a mere possibility, court records show.
Advocates for overwhelmed student borrowers say ECMCs relentless assaults and appeals drive up the already-daunting costs of filing for education debt relief.
The agency says it is trying to recoup as much money for taxpayers as possible. Our employees in the loan-servicing side of our company go into work every day focused on two things: doing the job we are contracted to do on behalf of taxpayers and the federal government, and treating every student with the respect, empathy and dignity they deserve, ECMC Group president and CEO David Hawn said in an emailed statement.
In fact, ECMC was created in 1994 because another agency that guaranteed federal student loans collapsed after huge numbers of borrowers ignored their debts. But numerous reforms since then have made it much harder to walk away from education debt and provided more income-based repayment options for struggling debtors.
So those landing in bankruptcy court now are the blood from a stone cases with little if any money to be recouped. The bankruptcy standard has been set so high that there is no real need to pursue appeals with such fervor.
Bankruptcy law does not allow student loans to be erased in a regular filing. Instead, attempts to discharge education debt require an additional filing known as an adversary proceeding.
A study published in the American Bankruptcy Law Journal found that only 213 of the 170,000 people with student loans who filed for bankruptcy in 2007 took that extra step. Of those, 51 won full discharges of their loans and 30 received partial discharges.
Adversary proceedings require substantially more work for attorneys who are employed by already cash-strapped clients. Those who win discharges typically either represent themselves or have free legal help, bankruptcy attorneys note.
Given these high hurdles, ECMCs bellicose approach is simply overkill. If the federal government wants to continue using its services, the agency should be required to use common sense - and common decency - before pursuing hapless borrowers.
(The author is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are her own.)
(Editing by Lauren Young, G Crosse and Beth Pinsker)